C158: I scream

I wanted everyone to have a taste of the natto I had taken the trouble to make, so I felt a little mischievous.

We give the earth spirits butter as thanks for keeping the house neat and tidy every day.

But when I substituted it with natto…
They got super angry.

“Yuck! It’s so stinky!!!”
“Why do you hawass us like so, Master?!”
“This is cwearly a hostile act! We oppose such tywanny!!!”
“It’s part of our wights!!!”

Anddd they went on a strike.
Platy and Batemy then ganged up on me.

“How could you offer that to the spirits?! They were fuming mad!!!”
“Well, it’s because natto is a 100% product of the earth, so I thought it would make the earth spirits happy!”

But it was a complete miscalculation.

“I gave them an extra serving of butter today, but that still didn’t do the trick! Do something about this, Dear!”
“I observed that something buttery and delicious is the only thing that can make them happy! Haven’t you got the perfect idea for it, Lord Saint? Please don’t keep it to yourself and tell us!”

Hmm…
So, the plan is to put the earth spirits in a good mood by serving them a new food item that would surely please them, right?
Since butter is their favorite food, it should be something with a similar shape, texture, and sweet taste children would like.
Well, I guess a dairy product is just the right thing for that.

And among them is…

“…Aha.”

A light bulb lit up in my head.

“We’re making ice cream.”


Ice cream, a magical food.
Ice cream, cold and melty.

Eh, I dunno really, not that I care much about it.
In my world, ice cream is trendy among people of all ages because it’s cold and sweet. It’s also semi-solid, creamy like butter, and is made from the same dairy product… Probably.

The earth spirits upset by the natto will surely give in if I make ice cream for them!

…But natto is delicious, too. Why can’t they see that?

Oh well.
Let’s get back on track and try our hand at making ice cream!

This time, I’ll be collaborating with Puffer from the mermaid team, also known as the Witch of the Bitter Cold!

“Yo.”

It’s ice cream, after all!
The environment is as important as the ingredients in making it. An environment with a temperature below zero is absolutely essential, and there is no one better than her to recreate that.

After all, she is the Witch of the Bitter Cold.

This isn’t often mentioned, but she specializes in potions that can freeze anything, and it’s what preserves our food.

The warehouse, initially built under Platy’s orders, has become something like a massive refrigerator because of the freezing potions lowering its temperature. With Puffer’s modifications perfecting cold air circulation, the temperature inside can be kept low constantly.

Now, Puffer not only controls the breweries but also our fridge.
Platy now has undivided attention in being my assistant, Lampeye often involves herself in hunting and security, and Garra Rufa, with her inherently timid personality, has practically become the chief executive of the food processing and preservation department.

“As expected of the future queen of the next mermaid king!”
“Shut! Up! …So? Why did you call me today? If you understand the nature of my job, you should know that I’m hella busy.”

Yeah, tell me about it. Still…

“Your help is indispensable this time! I want to make this, you see!”
“Mm-hm?”

I gave her an overview of the ice cream and told her that I would like the help of her skills to make it.

“I don’t like the idea of it. Besides, Prince Arowana doesn’t like sweets all that much…”
“Stop connecting every single thing to your love life!!!”

Anyway, in cooperation with Puffer, we began making ice cream.


“But why call me now when you’re just starting? From what I understood, doesn’t the freezing part come at the very last part of the process?”

“Yeah… I don’t know the process in detail, so we’re going through trial and error again. But I think what we need first and foremost is fresh cream.”

“And do you have that ready with you? …Hey, since fresh cream is made from milk, that means the milk comes from…”

“Don’t even complete your sentence! I’m trying not to think about it here!!!”

“Since it’s supposed to be hella sweet, I guess we’ll be adding a lot of sugar.”

“I think so too. I’ll try adding as much as I did with the cake… Oh, the Hand of Supremacy is activated?”

“You might as well have won this if it’s activated!!!”

“Maybe, but… ‘The Hand of Supremacy’ guides me as I add fresh cream, eggs, and sugar… Ah, it seems we have to mix it in while it’s being chilled. Let’s take turns, Puffer. My wrist is starting to get tired.”

“Hell no! I’ll only take over once you’re actually tired!”

“We’ll take turns after every hundred mixes, then.”

“Fine.”

“Mix, mix, mix… Okay, one-hundred.”

“No, that was only ninety-eight.”

“What? One… Two… There you go, one hundred.”

“That was only ninety-six.”

“The number decreased?! If that’s how you’re going to play, fine. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten! It’s definitely more than a hundred this time!!!”

“Haven’t you pretty much finished it all by yourself from all that mixing?”


And so, we finished making ice cream.
Even though it’s my first time making it, the result is impeccable! Long live ‘The Hand of Supremacy!!!’

I immediately served it to the earth spirits to see if it would appease their anger.

At first, they puffed up their cheeks. Nevertheless, they looked keenly interested in the ice cream.

“What’s this?”
“Is it butter? But it’s a little different? It’s cold?”
“Is this another fake?! Is Master twying to twick us again? But it tastes delicious!”
“No! This isn’t butter! But it tastes gweat in its own way! Thank you, Master!”
“This has been nominated for our Delicious Food Award! And a stwong candidate, at that!”

Thank goodness, it brightened up their mood.

The ice cream made up for the natto prank.
But natto is delicious, too…

“It is what it is. A child’s palate will definitely appreciate the sweetness of ice cream more,” says Puffer while she keeps licking her ice cream.
“But it’s still delicious, even from my point of view. Should we make an exclusive room in the fridge for it?”
“Are you going to keep making them?”

Just as we were about to wrap things up in a friendly atmosphere after solving the problem, Platy showed up, having overheard the joyful cries of the spirits.

“…”

And as soon as she caught on to the situation, she took a deep breath and said, “GUYS! DEAR MADE SOMETHING TASTY AGAIN!!!”
“Why are you shouting that to everyone?!”

Still, the dam burst.
In response to Platy’s voice, most of the farm residents came rushing towards us and helped themselves to some ice cream.

“Sooooooooooooooooo good! Soooooooooooooo cold!!!”
“It’s sweet and cold! It’s the perfect treat for people like us who spend all day long in front of the hot kiln!!!”
“Lord Saint! You made this with our milk, didn’t you? This is unfair; you didn’t even tell us!!!”

Of course, it was a big hit.
And so, ice cream became a standard treat on our farm.

“…Hm.”

Naturally, Veil is also among those who gathered.
Looks like she thought of yet another baloney idea.

“I know! Since it’s cold, it’s better to eat it somewhere hot!”
“Ah-”
“I’m going to eat this in my dungeon’s Summer Area! Wahahahahaha! All of you should be envious of me for eating good food in a better place! Hahahahahaha! Catch you later, lowlifes!”

After blurting that out, Veil reverts to her dragon form and flies away with the ice cream cup in her claws.

“…”

…But you see, Veil, it’s a reasonable distance from here to your mountain dungeon. It will still take a fair amount of travel time, even with your dragon wings.

If that much time passes, the ice cream will…


“Master! My ice cream! My ice cream melted away!!!”

See? I told you.

I had to make ice cream again for Veil, who came home bawling.

volume 4, complete.

im also adding a milestone to celebrate this site’s anniversary: once we reach 5,000 readers on novelupdates, i’ll be releasing daily. i know my translations arent the best out there, but i still appreciate yall good folks who continue to read them. thank you.

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C157: Elixir

Mr. Shax, the demon merchant, persistently tried to negotiate the marketing of sewing machines, an exclusive contract with the elves, and a commercial expansion into the Mermaid Kingdom. Alas, all of them broke down.

To end things on a good note, we treated him to dinner and served him our farm’s cuisine, which he also praised highly…

“Please allow us to sell your dishes as well as the meat and vegetables you use as ingredients!”

But Prince Arowana, sitting next to me, says, “What will happen to my share of crops then?” immediately ending negotiations there.

And it’s not only Prince Arowana. Even the Demon King brings home a surplus of crops with him every time he drops by.

As expected, Mr. Shax dared not interfere in areas occupied by royalty, so he backed down with regret on his face.

After all that had happened and establishing that he would continue to be our business agent, he returned to the Demon Kingdom.


Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we’re going back to do some pure cultivation, and today’s theme is to develop a new food menu.

The more varieties of food we have, the richer our lives will be.

The dish I’m going to attempt making today is something that I’ve wanted to make all this time.
With the progression of our cultivation, I now have all the ingredients I need and am ready to take on the challenge.

The dish I’m aiming for is…

Natto!

If you’re Japanese, natto must be an indispensable part of your morning meals!
Any objections are acknowledged!

Anyway, I’ll try to introduce natto to this world.
I’m going to ask the mermaid Garra Rufa, the only person in this world who understands bacteria, to be my assistant.

“I’m counting on you!”

All right.
But before we proceed with making natto, we first need to build a special hut.

It will be under the supervision of the mermaid team, just like the two brewery houses.
At first, I tried to make it at the brewery since it’s also a type of fermented food, but when Puffer—who is now the supervisor there—saw the sample, she retorted, “Don’t! If you put this under the same roof, it will affect all the other fermented foods!”

That’s why we decided to provide a separate building for it.
It’s comparatively smaller than the other two breweries, but it still excited the orcs since they haven’t done any construction in a while.
The result was one fine natto hut with stucco-reinforced walls, providing an airtight room with heat insulation.

“So, this is where we’ll be making natto? Wow!”

Time to prepare the necessary ingredients and materials—soybeans and straw.

That’s it, simple to the bone.

Straw is abundantly available as a byproduct of last year’s rice cultivation and is a highly versatile material.

Using this straw, naturally, our goal is to make authentic straw natto!

We immediately start preparing the straw to put the natto in.
First, I sorted and arranged them according to their thickness and length to form the tube-like shape I saw on TV back then…
But since I don’t know the correct way to do it, you could say I’m grasping at straws here through trial and error.

“Hm… Is it like this? Or do I tie it here?”

As I struggled with the straw, Garra Rufa, who also tried her hand at straw work, raised her hand.

“Lord Saint, Lord Saint, Lord Saint! Please look at this!!!”

What? Did she finish before me even though she has never seen the real thing?!
The thing she made herself using the straw is…

“Yes! My doll made out of straw is done!!!”

…Huh?!
Garra Rufa headed in a different direction because she didn’t have a set image in mind.

She made an object in the shape of a human using straw.

In other words, a straw effigy.

“What do you think? Isn’t my straw doll adorable?”

By the way, Garra Rufa is locally known as the “Witch of the Plague.”
A witch and a straw doll made by her.
Not feeling anything ominous from that is impossible.

“I-It’s well made, but it’s not what we’re making today, so put it away, okay?”
“Yessir! I’ll keep this straw doll in my room.”

Please do.

After finishing the straw bundle, it’s time to make the actual natto.

First, I touch the raw materials—soybeans, and straw with my hands.

“Spring forth and flourish, o’ natto bacteria!”

“The Hand of Supremacy” is a gift I have that draws out the maximum potential of anything I touch.
Just as a seed that has not been sown can sprout from my touch, it should also be possible to generate natto bacteria by touching the straw and soybeans.

In fact, we also have sake and other fermented foods by generating a starter culture this way.

“All right, casting done.”

Next, I prepared the fire, steamed the straw, and put the soybeans into a pot to boil.
The bacteria that produce natto is scientifically called Bacillus subtilis, and it is said to be resistant to high heat, or so I heard on TV.
So, once the rest of the bad bacteria die after one sterilization, only Bacillus subtilis remains to be fermented.

Then, I put the soybeans in the straw bundle and left it at the right temperature overnight.

“And here’s our product after leaving it overnight.”
“Huh?”

Our natto is here!
It was all gooey and stretchy when I took it out of the bundle!
There’s no doubt this is a success!!!

“Yay! This is also the power of bacteria, right! Oh, they’re always so wonderful!!!” says Garra Rufa delightedly.

I immediately went to show the natto to the others to share our joy.
Then their reactions when they saw it was…


“Gross! What in tarnation is that?!”
“Are you sure that’s not rotten? Cause it sure looks like it is to me!”
“That’s poison! I’ll die if I eat that!!!”
“Bark, bark, bark! Grrrrrrr!!!”

It was a flop.
Everyone was put off by the sticky texture of natto and wouldn’t even go near it, much less eat it.

“No, it’s okay, guys! This is the comfort food of my native place, and in my world, there’s not a single person who doesn’t like it!”

I added a bit of exaggeration to it.

“It’s also good for your health! They say people who eat it regularly never get sick and can live up to a hundred years old!!!”

Now I’m just blatantly exaggerating.
I’m just that desperate for everyone to eat it.

The hundred-year-old part aside, it is true that it’s good for your health.

Because they are rich in vitamins and minerals, they are excellent for preventing various diseases, including colds, food poisoning, constipation, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and such.
It also suppresses gum disease and has a whitening effect because it prevents cell aging.

I know I’m starting to sound like a host of a dubious health show, but please just give it a try! Think as if you’ve been deceived by me!

“…I’ll do it!” volunteers Orkubo, my loyal retainer.

“It is my duty as a retainer to eat what My Lord recommends, be it poison or not. I, Orkubo, will serve as the forerunner!”
“Hold it right there!” says Gobukichi, the head of the goblin team and rival of the orc team’s leader.

“I can’t afford to fall behind in loyalty to My Lord! I, Gobukichi, will have the honor of tasting this poison!”
“Okay, here you go.”
“Huh?!”

Shortly after Gobukichi’s bold statement, he decided to eat the natto.

“DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!”
“Stop rushing me! …Darn it, we’re going to the grave altogether! Here I go!!!”

Gobukichi reluctantly puts the natto in his mouth.
What happened next was…

“Wooooooooooooooooooah!!!”

He starts emitting a golden aura from head to toe!

“Holy moly! My lower back pain from daily farm work vanished at once! All my other discomforts are gone as well, and my body feels perfectly healthyyy!!!”
“Clearly, those aren’t the only effects it had on you!”

The aura surrounding Gobukichi is so blinding!!!

To conclude, natto is healthy.

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C156: The Merchant’s Visit

The merchant visiting us today was brought to our farm in an unconscious state.
I asked Belena and Orkubo, who went to meet him first.

“Are you sure you didn’t do anything to him?”

Both of them react violently to my question, saying in their defense;
“We didn’t! We didn’t do anything at all! He collapsed on his own!”
“We tried to be as calm and welcoming as possible, but we don’t have an inkling of an idea what caused his sudden collapse!”

Well, I can pretty much guess what caused it.

After all, Orkubo’s aura is becoming more and more dignified lately.
Those who are faint of heart would probably lose consciousness just by approaching them. That’s most likely what knocked out our merchant in question, too.

“Ngh…”

Oh.
He’s awake.

The demon merchant has a lanky and seemingly sensitive appearance. And though his groomed hair is already gray, he’s not as old as he looks.

“Oh, dear! Pardon my rude behavior. Blacking out certainly wasn’t on the list of things I intended to do on my first visit…”

He’s shrewd. He managed to grasp the situation right away as soon as he woke up.

“Please, it’s all right. Nice to meet you. I’m the owner of this farm.”
“And I am Shax, president of Pandemonium Trading Company, sir!”

We shook hands firmly, then I expressed my thanks for his business mediation and briefly explained how this farm came to be.
Our light-hearted talk helped ease the tension in the air.

“Since you’re already here, allow us to show you around.”

Then, right when I was about to entertain Mr. Shax and give him a friendly reception…

“Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaint!!!”

A gorgeous girl came running towards us with tremendous energy.
It was Letasreit, princess of the ruined Human Kingdom.
Well, the word ‘gorgeous’ is now limited to the person herself as the work clothes she wears are mediocre and simplistic.

“Hey, Saint! You promised to seed my field today, didn’t you? What are you dawdling around for? Come on, hurry up!”

By the way, Letasreit thinks that ‘Saint’ is my name.

“Didn’t I also tell you that I can’t because we have a visitor today? Why don’t you go help Gobukichi’s group for now?”
“No way! If the seeds are planted late, the harvest will also be late! It’s most disrespectful to make the princess of the Human Kingdom, Letasreit, wai- Mmbh!”

Once again, Platy appears out of nowhere, punches Letasreit in the gut, and takes her unconscious body away.

Our farm has no other means of seeding than by “The Hand of Supremacy,” and I alone am responsible for it at present.
Whether that’s a good thing or not is a question for another time.

“I’m sorry you had to witness that soon after you regained consciousness.”
“I-It’s nothing, sir… However, didn’t that gracious lass wearing odd clothing look like the princess of the former Human Kingdom?”
“Could be just an accidental resemblance, haha…”

Letasreit’s existence is being kept a state secret for the meantime, so I’m going to pretend I know nothing about it.


Anyway…

I began taking Mr. Shax for a field trip around our farm.

We first went to Batemy’s tailoring room, where she makes the clothes that got him involved with us.

“Hello, we meet again.”
“So, you’re really the designer behind those magnificent garments!”

Batemy and Mr. Shax seemed to know each other beforehand and exchanged a short greeting.
Soon, however, his eyes were fixated on something else.
It was Batemy’s sewing machine that kept making mechanical sounds as she continued to press on the pedal.

“What’s that? Is that tool used to sew the stitches that make them come out so neat and evenly spaced?!”

He’s perceptive.

“What a magnificent tool! Would you be willing to let us market that in our company?” suggests Mr. Shax.

Belena then negotiates on my behalf.

“This is the rough estimate of its price if the sewing machine is sold in the Demon Kingdom.”
“What?! You could buy an entire country with this price!”
“It’s a handmade product made by Lord Saint. Plus, the utility, scarcity, and cost of materials are taken into account, after all. Oh and, because it’s made entirely of mana metal.”
“Why is it made entirely of mana metal?!”

Their negotiation broke down.


Next, we went to the elves’ workshop.
Since they started selling their work after Batemy’s clothes, it would be good to show him the workshop where they make their crafts.

“Oh? Elves?!”

Mr. Shax is even more shocked at the sight of the elves at work.

“So, the elves made all those wonderful crafts! No wonder they were all of high quality!”
“Um… Is it really that rare for elves to make crafts?”

Mr. Shax’s excitement is so bizarre that I can’t help but ask him.

I’ve heard that elves as a race excel at making tools small enough to fit in their hands.
If that’s the case, building a workshop for them isn’t all that rare, right?

“Elves are prideful as people of the forest and feel that it is insulting to work under a roof.”

Apparently, Mr. Shax once tried to recruit craftsmen to start an elf workshop funded by their company, but to his surprise, no one joined.

“The elves said that they’d rather be bandits than be hired by the demons. In fact, there was no end to the number of them who became bandits! And yet, here they are, working meekly! Is it because of your character as the owner of this farm?”
“Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing like that. Hahaha… Ha…”

In reality, we caught them red-handed in their banditry and forced them to work for us as compensation.
I was about to explain that to Mr. Shax, but then someone grabbed me by the shoulders.
It was one of the elves in the workshop.

“I’d like to have a moment with you, Lord Saint…” says Aileron, the former head of the bandits.

I wondered what was going on, but after saying a few words to Mr. Shax, the two of us went outside the workshop.

“…Don’t tell me that pompous-looking demon is the president of Pandemonium Trading Company. Is he really the one acting as the intermediary for our products?”
“Uh-huh.”

He came to tour around the farm today, so why don’t you show him in person how passionate you are about your crafts?

“You do remember that we were bandits before we came here, right?”
“Yeah?”
“We were wanted by both the Demon and Human Kingdoms for stealing left and right. That’s why we sought refuge in the hinterlands of this remote place!”

…It can’t be.
I’m beginning to understand what Aileron is trying to say.
I didn’t want to, but my brain still did.

“Don’t tell me you guys used to steal from his company…”
“It’s a big business, after all. Granted that we only targeted corrupt merchants, we still caused them indirect damage in some way, you know?”

Hey now, hold your horses right there…
Isn’t that bad?!

“What if he finds out you’re a bandit and demands compensation?”
“I don’t think our cover’s been blown, at least not to the point where he’d find out right away after a mere face-to-face meeting…”

But if he does find out, things are bound to get ugly.
It’s best they avoid contact with each other as much as possible…

“Is your conversation perhaps over?”

Mr. Shax, seemingly tired of waiting, came after us, shocking both me and Aileron.
He had a beaming smile on his face.

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to the elf in private. A more intimate relationship with her will prove beneficial for our future transactions!”
“I-I firmly refuse.”
“But why?!”

Without knowing the truth, Mr. Shax’s notion of elves being hard to please grew stronger.


The trip around our farm surprised Mr. Shax in many ways.

“What a wonderful place this is! It’s like a treasure trove! I hope you’ll keep doing business with us!” he says as he takes my hands and shakes them violently.

I could feel his excited energy from it.

But then, another intruder arrives.

“Oh, it’s you, Prince Arowana.”
“Lord Saint, I’ve come to hang out again!”

Prince Arowana, Platy’s brother and the prince of the Mermaid Kingdom, has been visiting us quite often lately. We just don’t bring it up.

“My word! Even merfolk frequent this place?!” says Mr. Shax, keen as an eagle.
“I’ve been looking for someone to help me expand my business to the Mermaid Kingdom. What do you say, sir? Could you introduce me to an influential person in the Mermaid Kingdom?”

He draws close to Prince Arowana, all chummy.
An influential person? That can only mean…

“Hmm, well, in that case, there’s only one person I can think of…”
“Who would that be, sir? I’m open to anyone who can help me take the first step!”
“It’s my father, the Mermaid King.”

When Mr. Shax realized that the person in front of him was the first prince of the Mermaid Kingdom, he immediately got down on his knees and asked forgiveness.

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C155: Into the Secret Sanctuary

I am Shax, a demon merchant.

The events that happened during my recent business meeting with Queen Astres, which has become the norm for us lately, surprised me.

After wrapping up our main business that day, I requested from Her Majesty something that I’ve asked for time and again.

I wanted to know where and how those masterpieces that shake the entire capital are produced!

My position as a merchant is no longer relevant; I just can’t remain ignorant forever!

That’s why whenever I catch sight of Her Majesty, I repeatedly get down on my knees and plead to her, but she stubbornly keeps her lips sealed tight.

“It’s a promise I made to the other party to never reveal any information concerning them.”

A curt attitude.

Nonetheless, I still want to know.
If Her Majesty can’t tell me the place, she could at least tell me the designer’s identity…

But then, something happened.

Bang!

Someone opened the door and came in.
It was a young demoness.

This lass seems to lack the presence of mind to actually barge into the business meeting between the Queen and me without permission.
I was about to give her a scolding on behalf of Her Majesty, but before I could, she bowed her head.

“?!”

She lowered her head before she could get scolded?!

“I’m so sorry, Miss Astres!!!”

I don’t recognize her, but it looks like she’s related to the queen.
Otherwise, she wouldn’t barge in like this, right?

“I’m sorry, I gave it away! I told them that I’m the tailor behind the popular clothes!!!”

?!
I, who was listening from the side, was surprised by her statement.
By ‘popular clothes,’ does she mean the very same clothes that I sell through Her Majesty’s provisions?!

The answer to the mystery that I’ve been pining over for a while now came to me!
The maker of those clothes is actually this lass!

“I reunited with my old comrades shortly after I arrived at the capital. While we were merry over each other’s company, it just slipped off my tongue! I’m so sorry! That’s why I came here to report to you so we can devise a solution as soon as possible, Miss Astres!”
“…”

Her Majesty stands up and walks over to the lass apologizing for dear life, and…

Whack!

“Her Majesty hit her!!!”

But Her Majesty didn’t stop there!
2 hits, 3 hits, 4 hits, and five… Ten hits, twenty hits!!!

“Your Majesty, please! You’re expecting a baby, so please don’t move around too violently!”
“I’m already in my stable phase. It’s fine.”

That’s your excuse, Your Majesty?!

The impact of the beating has kept the lass on the floor for some time now.
Please stop, Your Majesty! The poor lass will die!
If she really is the creator of that mysterious brand, it won’t do us any good if she dies here!

“What a disgrace of an aide you are to cause Lord Saint trouble!”

The pregnant queen continues with a somersault!
The lass is sent flying and slams onto the wall, making a huge crack on it!

Even after being crowned as queen, Her Majesty, formerly known as “Astres the Wild” and “The Brutal General,” still hasn’t lost her savageness.

I was terrified just watching the scene from the side.


A few days later, I received an unexpected offer from Her Majesty.

“I’ve decided to take you with me.”
“Pardon?! Where to, Your Majesty? The execution site?!”

I haven’t even recovered from the terrifying experience I had last time.

“Of course not. We’re going to the place you’ve always wanted to go to.”

Could it be the paradise where those clothes and crafts are manufactured?!

Her Majesty kept denying my request all this time, so why the sudden change of heart?
It still makes me happy, though!

“The proprietor said so when we discussed branding. He said it would be rude if we didn’t show our trust to you after all that you’ve done for us.”

What generous words!

“That’s why you’re invited to go there. She’ll be your guide,” says Her Majesty as she points to the demoness standing beside her.

She’s not the same lass I met before, but her age and appearance are quite similar to her.

“My name is Belena. I’ll be using teleportation magic to guide you to Lord Saint’s farm.”
“Teleportation magic at such a young age? …Huh, why are you grabbing me by the shoulders? Are we going right now? But isn’t it too sudde-“

The next moment, however, Her Majesty’s suddenly disappeared from my sight.
Well, it’s the other way around, to be more precise.
I was the one who disappeared from Her Majesty’s sight, along with the lass named Belena.


“Is this the place?”

I’m brought to the seaside surrounded by rich nature.
Hearing the splash of the waves is soothing to the ears.
There’s no sign of anyone nearby, making the place seem like an uncivilized virgin land.

“Is this where they make those clothes and crafts?”

I don’t sense any such civilized activities here, though.

Belena, the demoness who brought me here, says, “Of course, the farm we’re based on is far from here, as an ironclad rule whenever we set up waypoints.”
“Fair enough.”

One must indeed place them far away from particular areas in case the coordinate codes are analyzed by an outsider.
I guess that means we’ll have to walk the rest of the distance to get to our destination.

Well, shucks… I’ve been working so much lately that I’ve gotten physically unfit for a short walk…

“Don’t worry. Your escort has arrived. Look…”

Huh?

I shift my gaze towards the direction she’s pointing, and sure enough, I see a group walking towards us.
Are they… Orcs?

As a businessman whose company also dabbles in providing the Demon King’s army with orcs from around the world, their race is one I’m already used to seeing.

…Wait, no.

They’re no ordinary orcs; they look more like the mutated Warrior Orcs.
They’re a variation of orcs that spawn in dungeons and mutate for very rare reasons.

Their abilities are dozens of times greater than the normal ones.
If one of them joins an army of a hundred orcs, their strategic value will increase tenfold.

I’ve only seen them a few times in my dealings… Hold on.

Are the five orcs heading this way… All Warrior Orcs?

Inconceivable…
Five of them is more than enough to take down an entire city!
There’s a limit to how many elites can be in one group.

However, my astonishment doesn’t end there.
An even extraordinary orc is among the five Warrior Orcs!

That one orc gave off an overwhelming vibe, making it seem much stronger than the mutated Warrior Orcs.

He’s riding a horse, appearing like a knight or general.
Even the horse he rides feels imposing, all clad in armor like that!

“Thank you for picking us up, Mr. Orkubo. You’re always right on time.”
“It is a duty given to me by My Lord. I cannot neglect it.”

Miss Belena is having a conversation with the orc!
Wait, how can he understand human speech and communicate with her?!

“Mr. Shax. This is Orkubo, the leader of the orcs working at Lord Saint’s farm. He’s a stage two mutated Legatus Orc, is smart and super strong!”
“My name is Orkubo, and My Lord has given me the duty to receive you. We hope you don’t mind getting on this shabby, improvised carriage pulled by my horse, Gigantorock.”

Stage Two Mutation?
Does such a thing even exist?

If a mutated Warrior Orc is a dozen times stronger than the average orc, then a Legatus Orcs would be… A hundred times stronger?

And then there’s this ‘Lord’ they obey…

My thoughts came to a stop, and my consciousness ceased to exist.

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C154: Brand Name

“I sincerely ask for your forgiveness, Lord Saint,” were the first words that came out of Mrs. Astres’ mouth after arriving on our farm.

For some reason, Batemy is right beside her, all tied up in ropes.
…If I’m not mistaken, she went to the capital in high spirits this morning to scout the latest fashion trends.
So, why is she back so early and in such a horrible state?

“This stupid girl has exposed the secret!”
“What secret?”

I ask Mrs. Astres about the situation in further detail.

It has been a long time since Batemy went back to the capital. There, she reunited with her friends from her military days.
As they were reminiscing, they began to talk about what they’ve been up to lately…

…and Batemy told them that she was making clothes here.

Mrs. Astres then beat her up as punishment for it.

“The mistakes of my subordinates are also my mistakes as their superior. I believe I’ve given her enough scolding, but I still felt that we needed to apologize to you in person, so I came here with the guilty person in tow!”
“I understand that part. Still…”

Apparently, Batemy also went to the royal palace, barged into Mrs. Astres’ room, and dove straight into a dogeza pose, apologizing over and over.
It was a commendable act, but Mrs. Astres was in the middle of a business meeting with the intermediary who sells her products at that time.

Batemy ended up exposing the secret there by accident as well.

“That’s why you gave her another beating?!”
“I really don’t know how to make it up to you, Lord Saint! If you’d like, you can beat up Batemy yourself to vent your anger, so she finally learns her lesson!”
“Pass! No, thank you!!!”

Maybe Batemy just wanted to brag to someone about her great success in the field she’s dreamed of for so long.
…Huh?
…That’s not it?
She couldn’t keep appearances in front of her crush after he guessed it right?
Hearing that does make me kind of annoyed…

“We succeeded in making those who knew about the farm to swear silence. But we can’t put a lock on a person’s mouth. To make it more fool-proof, it’s better to lock up the people themselves.”
“Please don’t! It’s okay, you don’t have to worry about it. I never asked anyone to keep it an absolute secret in the first place, anyway.”

Weren’t they the ones who decided on their own accord to keep this farm hidden from the world?
…I think. If memory serves me right.

“I appreciate your discretion, but there’s no need to implement an omerta (code of silence) here. Death from talking is just too morbid!”
“Well, if you say so, Lord Saint…”

Mrs. Astres was puzzled but still untied Batemy.
I never expected her to be this scary.
I thought her marriage and pregnancy soon after had made her mellow out, but she’s still the brutal general she was when she was a Heavenly One.

“Well, there are some things that must never be exposed to the public, though, such as Letasreit’s existence, but if those around are being too highly strung, it’ll start affecting me too.”

The moment we decided to do business with the outside world, it was all a matter of time before inevitable problems like this popped up.

“I am ever so obliged for your broad-mindedness, Lord Saint.”
“If you don’t mind, there’s one more thing we’d like to discuss with you, Lord Saint!”

Batemy, who’s free as a bird once again, is already back on her feet.
She sure is full of life as always.

“Remember when Miss Astres was talking to the intermediary when I was busy confessing myself?
“Uh-huh?”
“They were talking about deciding on a brand name.”
“Uh… Huh?”

A brand name?
As in names like Chael, Tiffany & Co., and L.*. back in my world?

“According to the merchant who sells my clothes, he wants to brand high-quality, high-end products so that their value can be recognized at a glance.”
“I see.”

Brand names do convey the value of an item to the customer with just a few words, making them go, “It’s Brand XXX, so it’s gotta be good!”

“The ex-comrades I met in the capital appreciated my clothes and even called them a ‘mystery brand.’ By having a brand, all of my works will have value, and not just one or two pieces.”
“The merchant suggested that we brand not only Batemy’s clothes but as well as the elves’ crafts,” follows Mrs. Astres.

As in the pottery, leatherwork, glasswork, and woodwork made by them?

“The merchant was amazed at the high quality of the goods provided by the elves. He wants to market them all as a single brand to add value and target a boost in sales.”
“With the number of people imitating the design of my clothes is increasing, branding will prove to be effective in distinguishing them from the counterfeits.”

I’m not really that much of a businessman, but if it’s a scheme that reaps them more profits without being too greedy, I’d say it’s okay.

“I think it’s a good idea.”
“Thank you very much!”

And so, our discussion reached a conclusion.

“Therefore, all we need is a brand name.”
“Hm?”

Batemy is burning with more desire than ever.

“We want you to come up with the name as the owner of this farm!”
“PLEASE!!!”

Before I knew it, even the elves had gathered to plead to me.
Well, I guess it’d be fair for everyone if I think of the name.
I’m not going to go for anything eccentric here, just a simple, straightforward name…

“…Noujou.”

You know, from ‘farm.’
It’s only natural to call it that since Batemy’s clothes and the elves’ crafts are made here.

“I like the sound of it! It’s a good name!”
“From now on, anything that is sold from this farm will be labeled as ‘Noujou-made’ to increase its brand value.”

Please don’t say it out loud; it embarrasses me.


The branding of our products was carried out at a rather rapid pace.

Surprisingly, even Veil helped out…

“Yep, I’d say it’s done,” she says as she finishes making something that resembles a stamp.
“It’s a special stamp created with dragon magic. You can stamp it on any surface and it will never fade.”

That’s such a helpful item. Thanks, Veil.

This stamp is engraved with the word “Noujou” in the language of this world and is the unshakeable proof that it was produced on our farm.
I immediately stamp it on all of the products Batemy and the elves made.

“…”

My wife, Platy, looks at me with a complex expression.

“What’s wrong, Platy?”
“…Nothing, it’s that stamp. Even if it’s not in Veil’s grasp, her dragon magic remains imbued in it. Anything stamped by it will have a small portion of magic transferred!”
“Huh?”
“Wouldn’t that make it a magic item that has the dragon’s blessing?”


You mean our brand’s going to increase in value again?

Oh, well. Whatever.

No point in overthinking about it.

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C153: A Perceptive Man

A former comrade of mine is wearing a shirt that I, Batemy, made.

“This is one of the most popular clothes in the capital right now!” she proudly boasts, not knowing it was me who made it.
“Sorry, Batemy. She’s been bragging about it for days.”
“I didn’t expect I could afford it! How could I not be happy?!”
“It is quite popular nowadays. High-class aristocrats buy even a thin shirt like that, right? How much did it cost again?”
“I spent half of my salary on it. Now, I don’t think I can afford this month’s rent.”

That expensive?!

But that shirt is one of the more mediocre pieces I gave to Miss Astres!

I held back from using adamantine silk because of its risks, so it’s made of cotton.
Lord Saint said it’s better for innerwear because it’s gentler on the skin and absorbs sweat better, but the suture was still of adamantine thread, so it was solid.

Unaware that the tailor is listening nearby, the girls continue to say whatever they want.

“It’s really comfortable to wear. It doesn’t sting like the other innerwear I’ve worn, and it doesn’t get soggy when I sweat. It’s well worth every penny!”

I see.
Lord Saint was right after all.

“The pattern on the shirt is cute, too. What’s not to brag about? …Oh. Batemy?”
“Yeah?”

Everyone’s eyes focused on me.
They must’ve found it strange that I was taking notes.
Come on, girls, a customer’s honest review is invaluable.

“Well, you know, it’s just that, now that I’m also making clothes, I need to note down what others say for reference!”

I came up with an excuse on the spot.

“You’re so diligent, Batemy. It’s no wonder you were promoted to the aide of a Heavenly One.”
“But now that you’ve changed careers, you have to aim to become the most famous brand in the Demon Kingdom! Oh, with the Human Kingdom gone and the earth unified as one, you should aim for the best in the world instead.”
“That means your rival is this mysterious brand.”

The best I can do is give them a forced laugh.
Sorry, girls.
The creator of this mysterious brand you speak of is right before you.
In fact, the shirt you’re wearing right now is relatively sloppy compared to the extravagant dresses and armor underwear!
If anything, it pains me that you’re still so happy with it!

“The designer has never revealed themselves to the public, no?”
“Normally, they would go out in the world for publicity as well. Are they shy or just a weirdo?”
“I like the mystery factory of it! The fact that they can make such nice clothes means they must be nice. It makes wearing their clothes even more comfortable!!!”

No more!
I can’t stand this any longer!!!

“U-Um, I think I need to go now…”

I was about to take my leave, but…

“It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. Why don’t you enjoy your time with us?”
“She’s right. Tell us what you’ve been doing since you changed careers.”

They pulled me by the arm and put me back in my seat.

“Besides, we have a special guest coming soon…”
“Huh?”

Just as I was wondering, the restaurant door opens, and someone walks in.
It’s a refined man clothed in the Demon King’s military uniform.

“Adjutant Olba?!”

Why is he here?!

“Don’t underestimate the rank of company commander! I at least have personal connections to get in touch with the Heavenly Ones’ aides.”

You called him here?!

“It’s obvious that you’re secretly in love with him. You should be thanking me for setting you up.”
“Since you quit the Demon King’s Army, this might be your last chance. Give it all you’ve got to confess to him now and maybe even join the high society life by marrying him!”

As if I would!
We may have been the same rank as aides to Heavenly Kings, but I’m just a plebeian; he’s an aristocrat!

But while I was still processing things, Olba sat right beside me!

“Long time no see, Adjutant Batemy. I had no idea you retired from the military!”
“L-Long time no see indeed!”

He’s such a serious person as always.
There’s a clear distinction between the career bureaucrats from wealthy families and those non-career commoners in the Demon King’s army.
The former has a superiority complex, and they blatantly look down on commoners like us even if we’re of the same rank.
This person, however, has never even shown any such pretense.

“I’ve been looking for the opportunity to thank you in person for a long time.”
“Y-You wanted to thank me?”

I don’t know what he’s talking about, but is he referring to the time when I was still Miss Astres’ aide?

“Sir Olba! Apparently, Batemy started her own clothing store after retiring!”
“Isn’t that a coincidence? Even Sir Olba has become famous in the clothing industry!”

Famous?
Clothing industry?
…Could it be?

“You probably don’t know since you’ve been away for a while now, but it’s currently the hot topic in the army!”
“They call it, ‘The Dragon Fang Breaking Incident of Adjutant Olba!’”

“He was supposed to meet his fate by the dragon’s fangs, but lo and behold, they broke, and he managed to return in one piece! Are the rumors as they say, Adjutant? I also heard the reason for that is the same mysterious clothing brand…”

My ex-comrades flock to Adjutant Olba, entirely on gossip mode.
I can’t believe they have the gall to address their superior like that… And an aristocrat, too!

“Indeed, they are true. However, I don’t take any credit for that incident. It was out of pure luck that I happened to be wearing that inner armor that day.”
“So…”
“The inner armor I wore that day was made of an extraordinary fabric that repelled the dragon’s fangs. If it weren’t for that, I’d have a huge hole in my body, and I’d be in a coffin right now…Actually, I doubt there’d be any part of my body left to place in a coffin.”

I fainted when I first heard that story from Miss Astres.
The clothes I made saved Sir Orba’s life.
And that alone makes me happy. I feel satisfied with my work.

“But isn’t your inner armor also from the rumored mysterious brand?”
“They said the special fabric that repelled the dragon’s fangs is the same fabric used in Queen Astres’ dresses!”
“Such a special fabric couldn’t possibly be produced in more than one place!”

I remained silent.
I promised not to tell others the truth. The fact that my clothes had protected him and would continue to do so was enough for me.

“I’m not quite sure myself. But there is one thing I know for sure, and that’s why I rushed here today.”

Sir Olba takes my hands and says, “You made those clothes, didn’t you?”
“Pardon?”

The group immediately fell silent.

My mind couldn’t come up with a more decent response after being confronted with the truth.
But I can’t possibly say yes here…

“When you were still Lady Astres’ aide, she used to tell me about your dream of making clothes many times during our military briefings. So, I can tell that every inch of that inner armor had your soul in it!”
“…U-Um!”
“And with the material of the dresses Lady Astres wears now, it makes things all the more conclusive. You were her former aide, after all. Your clothes saved my life; that’s why I’ve wanted to show you my gratitude. Thank you.”

My former comrades look at Sir Olba and me back and forth with dumbfounded expressions.

I’m sure they never expected that the tailor behind the clothes causing a massive boom in the capital was someone they knew.

But since I made a promise to Lord Saint and Miss Astres, I must play stupid.
I have to feign ignorance as if I don’t know what he’s talking about.
Yet…

I answered with a yes.

Sir Olba is a very perceptive man.
Was it his immediate superior, Lord Belphgamilia, who said this, or was it Miss Astres?

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C152: Demons and Branded Fashion

My name is Batemy, a demoness working as a tailor at Lord Saint’s farm.

I suddenly earned a considerable sum of money after trying to sell my clothes under the suggestion of my former superior, Miss Astres.
And all of them were sold at an incredibly high price.

Since my clothes went through an intermediary, a reasonable margin was taken out by them. Still, a considerable amount went into my pockets.

It was a sum of money that I had never obtained even when I was part of the Demon King’s army.

But because Miss Astres, Lord Saint, and his farm provided me with the environment I work in as well as the fabric and thread I use, I tried offering a portion of my earnings to Lord Saint. He then firmly refused, saying, “Money doesn’t serve any particular purpose here.”

I doubt Miss Astres will accept it, either. In the end, all the money went to me.

The problem is that I’m clueless myself about how to spend it.
I’ve been separated from my family and lost touch with them, so I can’t send them an allowance or anything.

Just when I was wondering what to do, an idea came to mind.

As I am in the midst of fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a tailor and a designer, I will use this money to keep that dream alive.

The only thing missing from this farm that seems to have everything is new information.
Being isolated from the rest of the world, there’s fear of being outdated with the latest trends.

Now that I’m able to present my own clothes to the public, I need to be sensitive to the fashion boom in the central city.

I’ve decided to use the money I’ve earned to go to the capital for the first time in forever and buy the latest clothes for reference!

After getting Lord Saint’s permission, I headed towards my beloved capital, the Demon Capital.

By the way, we use teleportation magic to traverse between the farm and the Demon Kingdom.

I didn’t ask anyone to send me there.
I went there by myself.
I couldn’t use teleportation magic back when I was an aide, but I can now.

Sensei, the Lifeless King, is extremely good at teaching mortals.
Even though he used to be human when he was alive, he can still teach magic only the demon race can use. Isn’t he amazing for an undead king?

Just before I left, my partner Belena gave me a look as if she was looking at a traitor, but it didn’t really bother me.
It’s about time she acquires a quirk other than using teleportation magic.

*    *    *

I arrived at the regulated waypoint on the outer perimeters of the capital.

From there, I entered on foot.

After living at Lord Saint’s farm for a while, I felt nostalgic, as if it’s been years since I came here.
In reality, it probably must have been less than a year.

Life back at the farm was just that rich and extraordinary.
…I mean, the typical events that occur there would never happen even once in my lifetime if I lived an everyday life.

Anyway, now that I’m here, I decided to have a meal first.
When I was an aide, I used to have lunch at a public mess, so I tried to order the usual from their menu, but to be honest, it wasn’t all that good.

Has my tongue gotten too used to the food at Lord Saint’s farm?

The food there tastes better than what the Demon King eats, and even the gods approve of it.

…I need to be careful not to take that for granted.

Let’s do this…
I’m going to finish this…
Without any leftovers…
Ooph…

…Phew, I ate it all.

Now that I’ve filled my belly, I should accomplish my main goal for coming here.

And that is to observe the latest fashion trends!

“…Huh? Batemy, is that you?”

Or so I thought, but I was held back by someone.

“It is you! It’s been so long that I barely recognized you! Where have you been this entire time?!”
“Aren’t you a former comrade of mine?!”

She’s a fellow soldier of the army.
We enlisted at about the same time, and she had risen to the rank of company commander now, I believe…

Crap!
If it’s a restaurant that I frequented as a soldier, it’s only natural other soldiers would be there.
I got so absorbed in feeling nostalgic that I let my guard down. If I had done this while I was still an aide, I would have been beheaded right away by Miss Astres herself.

Ah…
I’ve finally realized that I’ve lost my touch as a soldier and have fully embraced my life as a tailor.

“Come with me for a minute! Peimos, Gomorin, look! Batemy’s here!!!”

Ahh, there were more of them…
Were they having a group lunch?

It’s been so long since the time we got enlisted, and even though we’ve been promoted to different fields, everyone’s still close with one another…

*    *    *

This is how I unexpectedly ended up rekindling old friendships.

The female soldiers, Valefor, Peimos, and Gomorin, are all non-career commoners like me who had risen through the ranks with their own talents.

“Well, we’re just glad you’re still alive, Batemy. We thought you were dead already!”
“Back when you were exceptionally promoted as Lady Astres’ aide, everyone else from our batch regarded you as the most successful demon, yet your superior was suddenly banished from the capital, you know? Since then, we’ve lost contact with you.”
“And when your superior made a glorious comeback as the new demon queen, her aides who were supposed to be with her during her disappearance remain unseen. What was your partner’s again?”

Belena.
She’s from a noble family, so she’s not exactly part of our group.

“Anyway, your whereabouts were rumored in the military, and all sorts of theories popped up.”
“Stuff like you operating behind the scenes under Queen Astres’ orders, or that you died a dog’s death before her comeback, or that you were executed for being one of the traitors who was connected to the force that plotted Queen Astres’ downfall!”
“The most romantic theory is that she sacrificed herself to bring the Demon Queen and the Demon King together!”

Nearly all of those are about my hypothesized death…

Oh, well. Being MIA for so long, I wouldn’t blame them if they started thinking I was dead.

…All right.
I obviously can’t talk about Lord Saint or the farm here. That’s why I didn’t want to meet any of my comrades, but now I have to come up with something to deceive these girls…

“Actually, when Miss Astres became queen, she let me retire from the military, just as I’ve always wanted. She said she doesn’t need aides since she’s no longer a Heavenly One. I didn’t plan on staying in the army forever, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity.”
“Ah, I do remember you saying that. You wanted to open your own store after retiring or something.”
“Wasn’t your family running a clothing store back in your hometown that the humans destroyed? You said you wanted to continue the family business. Have you fulfilled that dream yet?”

I’m surprised they remember that!

“W-Well, I’m still at the starting line of things…”
“Wow! You go, girl! Congratulations!”
“You should’ve at least told us that. We couldn’t even give you a farewell party before your retirement, but we can still help you with your store’s sales.”

T-Thanks…
But even if they wanted to help me with sales, my workplace is situated far, far away from here.
Besides, I haven’t really opened a proper store just yet…

“…Oh, right. Speaking of clothes, have you heard, Batemy? Or maybe you already know that’s why you came here?”
“Huh? About what?”
“It’s the new fashion brand that’s all the rage in the capital right now! I’ve been told by the army that it’s also important in recon! I even have one of those items right here with me! Look!”

Suddenly, one of my comrades unbuttons her military uniform and pulls it open.
I thought she was being shameless by undressing in public, but she was actually wearing a shirt underneath. Even if she completely took off her uniform, it wouldn’t count as revealing herself.

Except…
The shirt she’s wearing under her military uniform is…

The same shirt I made back at Lord Saint’s farm!!!

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C151: More Negotiations

I am Shax, president of Pandemonium Trading Company based in the Demon Kingdom.

First Demon Queen Astres summoned me to the royal palace.
Her offer last time has brought my company and me quick riches, so I eagerly went.

“Could you act as my intermediary once again?”

There it is! The smell of profit!!!

“Of course, Your Majesty! All of the clothes you introduce to me are first-class!”

We’ve already received reservations from some of our clients and to contact them as soon as Queen Astres puts up another sale.
They’ve even paid in advance.

I made a prompt decision because who would ever want to hesitate in a highly profitable negotiation?

“So, what kind of vestments will it be this time? Will it be a dress? Or perhaps formal wear? If Her Majesty offers it, the price of even a single shirt would be exceptionally high…”
“Oh, no. In fact, it’s not clothing this time.”
“Pardon, Your Majesty?”

Not clothes?
Odd…

“Inspired by the previous auction, a few people came up to me and said they want to sell their creations as well. So, I’m acting as their intermediary. Then again, you’re the one doing all the legwork here…”
“Think nothing of it, Your Majesty! So, who are they?”
“Ah, they’re different from my tailor.”

Yet another unforeseeable development…

The mysterious tailor’s garments sold via Her Majesty’s proposal have already left their record in the market, and a very good one at that.

The materials, tailoring, and design are all first-class, so much so that I thought Her Majesty wanted to turn them into a brand.

But this time they’re goods made by a different person?

Well, even though I am confident in Her Majesty’s referral, my merchant instincts telling me never to trust someone a hundred percent are alerting me.

“May I know who is the genius behind this time?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t reveal their identity. I can assure you as Demon Queen, however, that they are reliable and trustworthy.”

If Her Majesty says so, the likes of me have no choice but to stop prying any further.

“May I have a look at the articles?”
“Very well.”

When Her Majesty rang the bell beside her, several maids came in from another room.
Are they carrying the articles in question?

“Of course, you are free to refuse if you find it unfit for sale in your eyes. We’ve already established this agreement with the clothes from before.”

I am aware, but can I really refuse a queen’s request upfront?
Her Majesty has already worn the clothes in public and has been talked about by nearly everyone; that’s why I had no qualms acting as her intermediary for last time’s auction…
I just hope those items are worth selling, at the very least.

And so, one of the maids presents me with…

“Oh, a bag?”

Made of leather, too.
Though it’s used daily, it may not sell well among aristocrats who leave everything up to their servants, including their change of clothes.

“…”

Hold on…
Is this leather what I think it is?!

“Y-Your Majesty! Where did the creator of this bag get the skin it’s made from?”
“Sorry?”
“Is that confidential as well? Well, not that I doubt Her Majesty’s seal of approval, but…”
“But?”
“But isn’t this hydrolex leather, Your Majesty?!”

Hydrolexes are reptile monsters that only appear in cave dungeons rated three stars or higher in terms of their danger level.
Their skin is the perfect material because of its unique luster and composition. And because they’re aquatic monsters, they’re highly durable and resistant to moisture.

However, cave dungeons with three stars or higher are rare, and the monsters are also powerful.
The cost of obtaining it alone, including the danger money paid to soldiers who go hunting for it, would be enormous.

“A-Ah, right, hydrolexes. I’ve fought several of them during my time as a Heavenly One.”

Although it’s highly disrespectful of me, I don’t have time to listen to Her Majesty’s reminiscent talk.

Hydrolex leather bags…

The material used is already first-class, and manufacturing is also well made.
The leather is tanned so perfectly and meticulously that you can immediately tell that it’s done by someone who knows their stuff. Even the stitching is straight and evenly spaced, just like that of the clothes provided by Her Majesty last time!
Was it really a different person who made this?

My curiosity hasn’t even been satiated yet, yet more and more leather goods came, not giving me time to process things.

“Gloves! Overcoats! They all appear to be made from leather of powerful monsters. How many people lost their lives to gather this much material?!”
“I don’t think anyone died from gathering them…”

It will fetch a ridiculous price if you put even one of these on the market.
In fact, the value would be so high that I worry about selling it…

“The next items are…”
“Huh?! There’s more, Your Majesty?! Please give me a minute to collect my thoughts!”
“You’ll have all the time you need to think later. Anyway, the next set of articles is glasswork…”

‘Glasswork?’

At Her Majesty’s command, glasses, plates, and handicrafts were presented to me.

…Um, Your Majesty?
This has got to be some kind of prank, right?

What part of this is ‘glasswork?’

Do they seem like glass to you with their translucent quality, free from any visible impurities?
They’re more like crystals, elaborate and intricately crafted!

“How much would these be worth, Your Majesty? I think you could even build a castle with one of these!”
“No, they said they’re really made of glass. As proof, if you hit one like so…”

Smash.

“AHH!!!”
“See? It breaks easily. Don’t worry, that one was a flop item meant to be smashed just to show that it really is made of glass.”
“AHH! AHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
“A-Are you all right?”

Oh, my word!!!
That was a flop item?!
Inconceivable!
That could’ve cost several months of the minimum wage here at the capital!

So be it, Your Majesty!
I’ll buy them!

Our firm will buy all these articles!!!

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C150: The Elven Artisan Soul

The reduced silk thread quality is about the same quality as regular silk back in my world.

However, silk itself has always been a luxury item, so it still has high commercial value.

Batemy made clothes out of the silk and sold them through Mrs. Astres, selling out immediately once again even when her buyers were informed of the reduced quality.

She is working diligently to meet extra orders.
The mechanical sound from the sewing machine could be heard non-stop from her room.
Well, she’s free to do what she wants as long as it doesn’t interfere with the production of the clothes here.

And just when I thought this episode was coming to a close, something followed.


“We would like to sell our work as well,” appeals the elves.

It seems they were jealous of Batemy’s clothes being well-received by the public.

“…Well, aren’t you guys former bandits? What’s the use of seeking social approval and self-esteem to outlaws like you?”
“That is already a thing of the past. We are now full-fledged workers on the farm devoting our lives to crafting items. It’s only natural for artisans like us to make our creations more available to the public.”

Aileron, leader of the pottery group.
Maelga, leader of the leatherwork group.
Mieral, leader of the woodwork group.
And Poel, leader of the glasswork group.

I find it hard to disregard their plea as it came from all four leaders of the small elven groups divided according to their field of expertise.

“… We’re trying to be self-sufficient and prioritize items for ourselves,” they say, choosing their words carefully.

“We have no problems there. Everyone else on the farm already has their own crockery and daily necessities as well. At the pace we’re going, we’ll start losing work.”

Seriously?

“That’s why we would like you to sell our work to plug this gap!”
“Please take a look at these artistic masterpieces I spent much labor on!” interrupts Mieral.

Her group makes wooden bowls, bows and arrows, and other wooden furniture such as chairs, tables, drawers, etc.
But what she presents to us is…

“These wooden idols I made as a pastime!”

Mm-hm.
I can tell by looking.

She probably carved a human-like figure out of wood using a chisel or a carving knife…
And since it’s an idol, it’s meant to imitate a deity’s figure.
They look so real; it’s as if the almighty beings are right before us.

Then again, it’s no surprise.

With that many gods descending to our farm recently, one can make idols that look exactly like them!

“It looks pretty good if I dare say so myself, but there’s no need for idols on this farm! No way there is!”

She probably has a point.

“Hence, I would like to request you bring these with you to the Demon Kingdom and give them to those who need them! Please!”

I understand what she’s trying to get at.
I don’t want to start some kind of weird cult on the farm with all these idols, either.

“Belena.”
“Yes, what is it?”

I ask Belena, who is standing beside me.

“How are idols such as these treated in the demon society?”
“Fundamentally, they’re regarded as profitable works of art. Of course, we demons believe in Hades, the god of the underworld, and his family gods, but we follow no particular custom of idolatry.”

I see.

“Depending on the motif, statues of the sea and heaven deities are also made and sold, but most of them end up in private collections or art museums.”

Thanks, Belena.
For someone who suffers from an identity crisis, she sure can be reliable as an advisor at times like this.

I would like to point that out to her now, but I should probably talk to the elves first.

“Lord Saint, I also have a request to make,” says Maelga, leader of the leatherwork group, as she steps up.

She used to be the second-in-command of the elven bandits.

“After you complied with our request for having a sewing machine, our productivity has increased dramatically. For us to take the next step, we need your permission to sell some of our products on the market!”
“Wait, Maelga!” interrupts Aileron this time around.

She used to be the leader during their bandit days, so it’s like the former No. 1 confronting No. 2.

“…Maelga. Your wish of getting a sewing machine has already been granted, isn’t asking for one more on top of that too greedy of you? Wherever did your pride as the Thunderstorm Stonecutter’s second-in-command go?!”
“I’m the leader of the team in charge of making leather goods at Lord Saint’s farm, and my responsibilities take precedence. I will only do what I think is best for the farm, not what I want for myself. Whether it’s making work more efficiently through the use of a sewing machine or selling our works to the outside world for profit, either will benefit the farm.”
“Ugh! You still are the cool-headed second-in-command I know! So eloquent!”

Is that the case, though, I wonder?
I could’ve sworn Maelga kept pressing me to make more sewing machines for their group before…

“Anyway, our ceramics will be sold first! Their leather goods can go last!”
“No, leather goods are more useful and in-demand than ceramics. And since our creations offer more benefits, we must go first.”
“Say what now?!”

Did the strong bond between the leader and second-in-command just form a crack?!
Must they fight over this with their personal relations on the line?!

“P-Please calm down, you two!” shouts Poel, leader of the glasswork group.

She was an underling who didn’t have any particular role to play during her time as a bandit, but now, she’s a leader of her small group and is a promising young lady full of talents.

“You can’t just impose your ideas and wishes all at once. Lord Saint remains the head of this farm. Everything on this farm belongs to him! It’s only natural that his ideas take precedence over our own!”

Well said, Poel!
First, they need to hear my say on this!

“That is why my group will be prioritized first! The group that Lord Saint loves the most!!!”

H-Huh?
My body froze at her claim I have no recollection of ever saying.

As soon as Poel said that, she turns around and gives me a sultry look as if trying to win me over.
Heart shapes are showing in her eyes.
She scares me.

Wait…
Come to think of it, Poel comes to me more often than the other team leaders to let me inspect their products.
Whenever she does, she’s awfully close and makes a lot of physical contact. On top of that, she’s always too revealing with her get-up…

…Huh?!

Smack! goes the sound of something grabbing something else.
When I was brought back to my senses, I saw someone grabbing Poel by her head.

And that someone was none other than my wife, Platy.
She was nowhere near this entire time. When did she get here?!

“… M-M-M-Ma’am?!”
“I heard you prattle about something interesting. Who’s being loved by who again?”

Platy is even scarier.
She’s smiling right now, but it still scares me.

“Dear, could I have a moment with this girl? I need to have a heart-to-heart talk with her.”
“N-No problem!” I reply.

It seemed nothing but problems for Poel, on the other hand, though.
Anyway, after Poel was dragged away by Platy, no one dared negotiate any further.


We go back to discussing the idols from before.

Mieral made quite a few wooden idols, and I thought they were all the gods and goddesses that visited us last time.
Alas, there were more than that.

“There’s even a statue of Sensei?!”

Sensei, as in the Lifeless King.
It blended in so naturally with the rest of the statues that I didn’t notice it.
Now it’s starting to feel out-of-place for me…

“Well, he’s got one foot in the realm of the deities, anyway.”

Mieral sure is bold…

“…Are you also planning to sell this?”
“Yes, it’s one of my prized works.”

I think this might invade Sensei’s privacy. I’ll have to ask for his approval later.

“…Why is there a statue of me as well?!”
“Is there a problem with it?”

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C149: Detune

“You like Olba, don’t you?”

Queen Astres’ sudden question caught Batemy off guard.

“W-W-What are you talking about, Miss Astres?! Ow! I pricked my finger! It’s because you asked something so weird out of the blue that I missed my aim, Miss Astres!”
“You aren’t even sewing by hand.”

The mountain of gold coins Batemy managed to earn from selling her clothes at the demon capital was an overwhelming amount, enough to stuff some of them in a bag and use it as a blunt weapon.

“There’s also an audit of purchase just to reassure you I didn’t pocket a single coin out of it.”
“I would never suspect you of committing such an act, Miss Astres…”

Then they immediately shifted the topic from business matters to a love story.
Mrs. Astres’ is as sharp as ever, even after her days of being a Heavenly One are over.

“Huh, Batemy has a lover?”

I was also drawn in by the bittersweet air of someone else’s love story.

“He’s an aide to another Heavenly One, so in essence, he’s Batemy’s equal. I often saw them engaged in conversation while they were on duty…”
“I-I was just giving him advice as his equal! It’s because of his pampered upbringing that he’s lacking in multiple aspects! Wouldn’t it be sad if his men died because of his own ignorance?!”
“Still, you looked like you enjoyed talking to him.”
“That’s because you’re a crazy romance fanatic despite appearances, Miss Astres!”
“Despite appearances?”

Batemy remains unfazed.

“I know for a fact that the armor underwear you secretly mixed in with the rest of your clothes to sell at the capital were specifically meant for him. I even heard the size was a perfect fit.”
“You sold them to Olba?!”
“His mother purchased it from a local merchant. After going through the hands of that many people, he’d never suspect that you’re the tailor.”
“He has an Oedipus complex, so I can see him treasuring it!”
“I actually have an interesting story to tell you regarding that…”

The story Mrs. Astres told was thrilling about how Olba, Batemy’s supposed lover, was attacked by a Lesser Dragon and was almost eaten alive.
Hearing the details also kept me on the edge of my seat.

“When the Lesser Dragon caught him by his stomach, he was already prepared to die, but surprisingly, its fangs didn’t penetrate his armor underwear and had a narrow escape from death.”
“Yipes…”

Batemy ended up fainting from the intense thrill.
She’s usually not even this sensitive.

“So, it was all because of the clothes Batemy made?”
“There’s no doubt about it. I heard his actual armor had a hole in it.”

The clothes from Batemy make use of a unique fabric called adamantine silk that’s produced on this farm made from the thread silkworm monsters spew. It’s overwhelmingly tough, so we call it as such.

“I knew it was hard to the touch, but I didn’t expect it to repel even a dragon’s fangs…”

The clothes I’m wearing right now are also made of adamantine silk.
Perhaps my defensive stats will skyrocket if I equip a complete set of armor.

“Upon hearing that story, I thought of asking Batemy to make a set for the Demon King as well, hence my coming here. But at the same time, I thought up another idea.”
“Oh?”
“I suggested selling Batemy’s clothes because I wanted her clothes to be widely available. However, the material used to make them, adamantine silk, is too expensive to sell at a low retail price.”
“Mm-hm.”

A fabric that boasts strength more remarkable than that of metal would be too bizarre in the eyes of the general public.

“Having a select few is still fine, but supposing the clothes Batemy made falls into the hands of the wrong people, it wouldn’t bode well for us.”
“Hmm, I understand what you’re trying to say, Mrs. Astres.”

In short, we must control the distribution of adamantine silk.

“There’s nothing else we can do about the ones we’ve already sold. But from now on, it would be beneficial for us if we screen our buyers to keep things to a minimum.”
“Agreed.”

Batemy regained consciousness.

“I don’t want my works to be sold because of the materials I used. As much as possible, I want them to sell because of my ideas and fine tailoring!”
“That’s the spirit. Naturally, I still want to continue selling your clothes within the capital.”

Then, we must change the material from adamantine silk to something else.

“How about cotton or hemp?”

Cotton and non-toxic hemp are grown and used to make fabric out of each on our farm.
Of course, we can’t possibly use silk for all our clothes, and using adamantine silk may be too luxurious for daily wear.

“I have an idea,” says Batemy.


According to Batemy, she still wants to continue using silk for making clothes.
It’s her fixation as a designer, and she’s not willing to compromise.

But now that adamantine silk is regarded as a potential threat, what does she plan to do?

“…Mr. Silkworm, I have something to ask of you,” Batemy addresses the silkworm.

“The fine quality thread you spew has been of great help to me, but they’re too good that it’s starting to cause us problems. So, I came here with a small suggestion…”

Batemy continues talking to the adamantine silkworm, the creature behind the adamantine silk thread.

“All this tailoring has gotten to her head. Poor kid…”

Mrs. Astres makes a pained look as she watches Batemy talk to the silkworm.

“No, wait, please don’t assume just yet.”

Adamantine silkworms are, in essence, still monsters.
Moreover, they have mutated throughout their life on our farm and now spew a stiff fiber called adamantine silk.

Batemy probably thinks they can understand human language and respond accordingly now that they’ve mutated.

Yep, in fact, I also think that’s possible.

“…So, could you please lower the quality just a teeny-tiny bit? I want to use it for something else, you see! Of course, a variety of adamantine silk is still good, so maybe you can do that side-by-side?”

She’s starting to sound more and more ambiguous with her words.
How could you behave like that in front of the silkworm, Batemy?!

…But did it understand what she said?

“Tsk.”
“Did it just make a tongue-clicking sound?!”

But it’s a worm! It’s not even supposed to have a tongue!
Wait, was it a sign of affirmation or denial of Batemy’s request?

“Yay! Thank you! Thank you very much!!!”

Batemy gives a deep and sincere bow toward the silkworm.
The room is filled with a strange atmosphere.


The next day, we returned to the silkworm room only to be dazzled by its appearance.

“Woah…”

There’s so much thread!
The silkworms immediately spewed silk thread of lower quality than the adamantine silk!

There’s so much of it! Too much, even!
I can’t see the floor because it’s covered with nothing but thread!

Does this mean that by reducing the quality by a hundredth, we can increase our production rate by a hundredfold?

Anyway, I better call the goblin and elf teams to weave this.

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C148: Guardian Garments

I am Olba, a regular soldier of the Demon King’s army.

The Lesser Dragon’s infamy is well known even among the army.

It is a fallen, inferior dragon that’s also not a dragon, so you can consider it the remnants of one.

We demons are no match to the original dragons, and we would inevitably perish if they were ever hostile.
However, dragons have wisdom as well as overwhelming strength. They do not attack without reason and are willing to talk in some cases.

Lesser Dragons, on the other hand, are mere beasts deprived of such intelligence.
Why this happens remains a perennial mystery, but once dragons lose their magic and ego, they become a violent Lesser Dragon, which is much worse than their original counterparts.
Even if they lose their magic and intelligence, they still have their huge, strong bodies, making them more troublesome than any monster out there.

Moreover, since they have no reasoning power, they indiscriminately go on a rampage, and whenever a Lesser Dragon is sighted, we have no choice but to fight and kill them.
If we leave it alone, it will only cause more damage around us.

But a dragon is a dragon. Defeating them will prove extremely difficult.

Catastrophic beings free from the restraints of one’s senses.
Such were Lesser Dragons.


Balaam and I ride our horses side-by-side at max speed without minding our horses’ welfare.

A formidable threat is approaching from behind us at a terrifying speed.

“That stupid dragon is still chasing us!”
“It is what it is. Of course, it would notice us, especially considering our number.”

We were only informed of a monster’s trace, but I wasn’t expecting to find a Lesser Dragon upon arriving here.

Neither of our squadrons can handle it. We have to contact the main force at the capital.

Facing the dragon head-on would only result in a foolish suicide attempt, so Balaam immediately ordered the troops to retreat.

He decided that fleeing in all directions would confuse the dragon and decrease the chances of us being totally wiped out, but…

“Why are you with me?! There’s no point if we don’t split up!”
“I know what you’re thinking! You’re going to make yourself a decoy so the rest of the soldiers can escape unscathed, aren’t you?!”

Otherwise, he wouldn’t be zigzagging in his tracks and provoke the dragon on purpose.
Balaam is a veteran aide who also worked his way up from being a commoner, just like that girl!

“…I have to do what’s needed at times like this; otherwise, the infantry won’t be able to escape from that brainless dragon with the pace they’re at right now. They’re just going to get eaten alive.”
“I’ll go with you then! I’m also an aide permitted to ride a horse! I can’t just run away here!”
“Watch out!!!”

My horse abruptly turns to the side after I heard Balaam’s shout.
We barely missed getting snagged by the dragon’s claw.

“It has already caught up to us!”

Even our horses are at their limit.
We can’t expect them to run at top speed now.

“I know we mustn’t lose our men, but that means their commander must also survive! What are you charging yourself towards danger for?!”
“I could say the same to you!”
“That’s exactly why the two of us came here! Either one of us must survive to inform Lord Belphgamilia of danger! An aristocrat like you should survive for more reasons than one! Just go already!”
“But-”

Hesitating was a mistake.
My horse and I are sent flying in the air by the strong impact behind.

“Olba?!”

I knew after the direct hit that I had been mowed by the Lesser Dragon’s arm.
I gradually got separated from my horse mid-air as the world spun around me.

The dragon’s mouth is wide open right under me, awaiting my fall.

“OLBAAAAAAA!!!” shouts my colleague in a strained voice.

I heard a loud clang echo throughout my body.
The Lesser Dragon failed to catch my entire body as my upper half poked from the dragon’s mouth.
This meant that I was going to be bitten in half, feeling the sensation of his sharp fangs crushing my spine down to my torso.

And at that moment, I could feel the dragon’s jaw slowly crushing me…

I’m sorry, Mother. It seems I won’t be able to succeed as the heir.
I won’t be able to see her again, either…

“Skreeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

The painful screech of the Lesser Dragon almost ruptured my eardrums.
At the same time, a shock struck my entire body.

…Did I fall to the ground?

Does that mean I’m still alive?
But I was just bitten by the dragon!
Wait, my upper and lower halves are still connected.
I won’t part from this world with just half my body!

“Hey, are you okay? Are you still there?!”

As Balaam rushes over in a panic, I look up at the head of the Lesser Dragon.

“Its fangs are broken?!”

Is it suffering from the pain?!

“Snap out of it! Now’s our chance while it’s writhing in pain! Run!!!”


After barely getting away from the Lesser Dragon for our dear lives, we called out to the other soldiers and regrouped.
We sent an express messenger to the capital and waited for the main force led by the Demon King.

There is a set procedure when it comes to exterminating Lesser Dragons.

First, you must fire long-range magic from a certain distance.
This is done not by one or two people but by thousands. It is carried out while alternating turns, hence becoming a massively scaled attack.

As Lesser Dragons are bereft of intelligence and judgment, they try to fight back head-on, only to exhaust themselves.

If this were the original dragon, it would plan its moves or might as well wipe out our race with its almighty dragon magic.

But Lesser Dragons don’t use their heads.
While it exhausts itself in vain, His Majesty will deliver the finishing blow with Furious-Holy Sword Einrot.

A dragon’s scales that are invulnerable to any normal weapon are no match for a holy sword. If everything goes as planned, the inferior dragon will fall without us having to suffer any casualties.


“You’ve done exceptionally well.”

I received a word of praise from Demon King Zedan with the dead Lesser Dragon in front of us.
What an honor.
This is the greatest merit a demon soldier could ever hope for, so much that my body quivers.

“Aides Olba and Balaam’s quick-wittedness from the discovery of the Lesser Dragon to their report was absolutely brilliant. They lost zero soldiers by deciding to evade a futile battle. You have fine aides, Sir Belphgamilia.”
“Oh, no. Those two deserve all the credit,” says Lord Belphgamilia, who came with the Demon King.

As expected, he didn’t do anything significant and just watched the scene unfold.

“Olba is an eager chap, and Balaam is already experienced in the ways of the world. How about you fire me now and make them the next Heavenly Kings? Then, I’ll be able to enjoy my pensioned life without any worries.”
“I’m afraid not, Sir Belphgamilia. We still need you around.”

Demon King Zedan surprisingly thinks highly of Lord Belphgamilia.

“You are the only general to whom I can safely entrust my absence. We still require your presence, so you can’t retire just yet, Sir Belphgamilia.”
“Good grief, you can be so rough with your men,” says Lord Belphgamilia as he lets out a big yawn.

I can’t believe he can still act like that in front of the king.

“Granted, the report sent to me had rather concerning details. Are you really all right, Olba?”
“…Pardon, Your Majesty?”

I didn’t expect the king to be considerate of me!
A-Anyway, putting my emotions aside, I must give him an accurate and brief report!

“Y-Yes, Your Majesty. I was indeed trapped in between the fangs of the dragon, but strangely enough, I don’t have a single scratch on me!”
“Strange things really do happen, don’t they? When I heard the situation from the express messenger, I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest.”

That’s unexpected, coming from Lord Belphgamilia.
Lesser or not, any demon body wouldn’t be able to withstand a dragon’s fangs.
I was already prepared to die when I was caught between the jaws of the dragon, but just how in the world am I still alive?

“If I were to guess…”

I look at my own armor underwear.
Its fabric, faintly shimmering, is too elegant to be used in battle.

Is this what protected me?

“Immediately after escaping the dragon’s fangs, my armor got pierced with a large hole. Yet, not a single tear or hole can be seen on my armor underwear.”
“Your metal armor was easily pierced by the dragon’s fangs but not the cloth underneath it? Impossible!” says Balaam in shock, but I’m honestly just as surprised as him.

Just where did Mother buy these mysterious clothes?!

“…I heard adamantine silk has the durability to repel all dragon magic as well as their fangs.”
“Huh?!”

The Demon King’s expression appears as if he has seen through everything.

“Does His Majesty know the origins of this armor underwear?”
“Nope. Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”

He knows!
Man, the Demon King’s terrible at lying!!!

“But there is one thing I can tell you… It’s that love is great.”

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C147: An Earnest Soldier

My name is Olba, an aide of Lord Belphgamilia the Corrupted, one of the demon army’s Heavenly Four.

I take great pride in my position.

The Demon King’s army was once the strongest and fiercest army on earth.
Just being in the lowest rank is already a lifelong honor in itself. Still, I was able to rise to the position of assistant to a Heavenly King.

Of course, I’m not being vain about my own abilities that got me here.

A novice like me wouldn’t have received such an honor if it weren’t for the luck I was blessed with.

The most fortunate thing for me is that I was born into a relatively influential noble family.
My family is reasonably influential and is one of the followers of a Heavenly One’s family that held the Corrupted-Holy Sword Viergelb in their possession for generations.

I was granted the position of being Lord Belphgamilia the Corrupted’s aide, one of the Heavenly Four of this generation, precisely because of this connection.

But that doesn’t mean I’m ashamed nor haughty about it.

Whatever form the opportunity takes, I will do my best to seize it.
I want to fulfill the great responsibility of a Heavenly One’s aide and push myself to the limits.

That is the significance of my being here as a Demon King’s army soldier.


Today, I was tasked with subjugating the monster that appeared within the Demon Kingdom’s territory.

“A’ight, ya know what to do.”

My superior, Lord Belphgamilia, always gives me orders in such a tone.

Slothful, lethargic, carefree, and lazy.

That is how the world sees him.
In fact, Lord Belphgamilia has never taken an active role ever since he assumed the position of a Heavenly One. He only carries out orders given by Demon King Zedan and does nothing more than that.
Naturally, Lord Belphgamilia doesn’t have glorious merits like the other Heavenly Ones, so it’s no surprise that he lacks public appeal.

However, for me, none of those change the fact that he is a superior I must respect.

“Understood. I will fulfill my duty and return victorious.”
“No need to be so formal. Keep it cool and casual. Besides, you’re just going on a simple patrol, and if there’s nothing wrong in particular, then all the better.”

As my superior said that, he went to the hammock he brought to his office and napped there.

“…”

It’s not like he’ll change his ways even if someone like me starts criticizing him now.
I left the office without uttering another word.


“…I think he’s fine the way he is,” says Balaam, a fellow aide accompanying me as we lead our troops.

Most of the Heavenly Four have four to five aides, so Balaam is my colleague.
I will be guarding the territory together with him.

“It’s his way of protecting himself by making people think he’s lazy and useless. In fact, thanks to that attitude of his that he didn’t get involved in any political issues and survived the recent reformation.”
“I know, but still…”

Two of the three remaining Heavenly Ones were married to His Majesty and became demon queens.
It’s almost like a promotion for them.

Comparing Lord Belphgamilia to Lord Ravillian the Coveted, the only person who was overthrown from being a Heavenly One, would only mean that he didn’t commit any mistake that allowed him to secure his position!

“Return is the opposite of risk. Just dodging that bullet is already an achievement. Besides…”
“Besides?”
“Lord Belphgamilia’s way of life just might be the perfect thing for the army from now on.”


Balaam’s words emotionally resonated with me, perhaps because I had a vague idea of what he was talking about.

“Demon King Zedan has destroyed the Human Kingdom and put an end to the generations-old war. That was probably the greatest achievement of our race. But now that he’s accomplished his mission, there’s nothing major left to do.”
“You mean he’s done all that he needed to do?”

Come to think of it, with the Human Kingdom gone, what are we left to fight now?
There is nothing more useless than an army without enemies.
In addition, will soldiers like us, mere pawns of war, still have future opportunities to rise among the ranks?

Taking such a bleak future into account, it rings true that having a peaceful lifestyle like Lord Belphgamilia is the most suitable for us soldiers.

“…We can’t say for sure just yet,” I say under my own breath.
“Humans aren’t the only enemies of the demon race. There are still monsters out there. Sure, we may command some anthropomorphs, but the great majority aren’t one bit controllable and just run amok indiscriminately.”

The reason for our sortie today was that we received a discovery report of a dangerous monster. Hence we’re headed towards the place it was sighted at to investigate.
If there really is such a monster, we, Lord Belphgamilia’s commanding unit, will use our forces to crush it.

“We are still needed. We’ll do a meritorious deed by slaying these monsters and garner Demon King Zedan’s praise.”
“Don’t bite more than you can chew. You spent most of your life as a sheltered boy, so if you get killed in action, I’ll have to deal with consoling your family.”

Balaam’s words irked me.

“Don’t put it like that. Didn’t I say that lineage doesn’t matter in the military?”
“You’re saying that exactly because you grew up sheltered in a well-to-do family. I mean, look at that armor of yours.”
“?”

Since we’re on a combat mission, I have armed myself from head to toe. Some cloth can be seen from the gaps of my armor. I believe it’s called armor underwear.
Though it’s underwear, they cover my entire body like any typical clothes. They’re essential to keep direct contact with the hard armor from injuring its wearer and protect one’s joints.

“It’s all brand-new and shiny. I heard that your mother gave this to you just before we set out on our mission. It totally shows her desperate desire for her adorable only son to return home alive.”
“…”

Honestly, I find my mother’s consideration a mixed blessing.
People around me already ridicule my sheltered upbringing, and this brand-new complete set of armor that I’m wearing makes me stand out even more.

Still, I’m not an inconsiderate son who disregards his mother’s concern, so I can only wear the armor she gave me.
My previous armor was wearing out, anyway…

“Those who are born into noble families like you have their own roles to play. Once you’ve served your country and gained prestige, retire right away and succeed as the heir. Then, marry someone and start your own family…”
“…”
“Now that the war with the human race is over and times are peaceful, such a way of life is becoming more and more in line with our world. Let’s just hope the locals were wrong and we don’t encounter any monsters in this mission.”

Balaam’s right.
Soldiers will gradually become a thing of the past from here on out.
They will be deemed useless and disappear from the center stage of history.

Speaking of which, what happened to her?

She was an aide of the former Heavenly One Astres, now Demon Queen. Perhaps we were in the same rank that we often saw each other during military meetings. Still, ever since her boss, Lady Astres, became queen, I haven’t been seeing her around.

I don’t think she was transferred someplace else. Maybe she took advantage of her superior’s prosperity and used the severance payment she received to retire?

She was a commoner who went from rags to riches by becoming an aide to a Heavenly One. As someone who grew up with connections, I felt inferior to her.
If I remember correctly, she was born to a family of tailors and dreamed of taking over their business and opening her own store once she retires.

If she’s no longer part of the Demon King’s army, does that mean her dream has been realized?

That’s fine with me. We soldiers are losing our place on the battlefield, anyway. It’s better to pursue dreams that hope for a peaceful life.

“I… I’ll chase after my own dreams!”

My dream is to be on the battlefield.
For the time being, I hope that the battlefield I’m heading to has stronger monsters than what was reported to us…


Or so I thought, but as soon as I got there, I changed my mind.

While I may have wished for a strong monster to appear, there’s a limit to everything.
In fact, we faced something far stronger and dangerous than some ordinary monster.

happy new year!

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C146: Auction

I am Shax, a merchant of the Demon Kingdom.

The day has finally come to sell the apparel under Queen Astres’ orders!

“Nevertheless…” says Her Highness, still taken aback.

“I did say I want you to act as an intermediary to sell these clothes for me, but I wasn’t expecting you to host an auction for it!”

That’s right, an auction!

The venue we had set up inside our company was already full of spectators and bidders alike.
Our business is roaring.

“Going all out with our advertising was worth it.”
“I understand your enthusiasm, but was it really necessary to go this far? I was certain you were going to cater directly to your customers according to their size and needs…”

Indeed, that would be the usual case since we cater to the upper-classes.
We don’t do retail; instead, we directly take orders from our customers, just as Her Highness said.

But the art of selling must also conform to time and circumstances!

“The vestments Her Majesty wears have always been a hot topic. Frankly put, everyone envies it.”
“R-Really? I didn’t know!”

Many demon aristocrats have asked for custom orders from various famous designers to make the same dress as Her Majesty.
However, the results were all different.
Perhaps there may have been a difference in materials or ideas because none of them were one bit close to the original.

The more imitations were circulated, the more they envied the original. The more people wanted to buy them, the higher their value became.
It’s the perfect inflation spiral!

“Hence, the moment Your Majesty’s precious, exclusive designer is made known to the public, and her works are put up for sale, it’s inevitable for it to attract attention.”
“I see…”
“So, if we only approach specific customers, the rest will feel that they’ve been left out. If that happens, our company will suffer a huge loss of profit from incurring our customers’ enmity.”
“That’s why you set up an auction?”

There will be less partiality if we equally advertise to all our valued customers and have them gather at one venue.
And because of the auction system, the prices will naturally rise on their own.

“Your Majesty’s presence here today makes the apparel more authentic. For that, Pandemonium Trading Company is forever grateful.”
“Think nothing of it. I was the one who asked. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t cooperate somehow since I’ve already been a little selfish…”

I accepted Her Majesty’s request to act as an intermediary to sell her articles, but she still hasn’t revealed the identity of her personal designer.

Signing an exclusive contract with Her Majesty’s designer could have promised us success till the day I die, but I guess I’m being too greedy for aiming a grand victory in one fell swoop.
For now, I’ll just do my best to get the most out of today’s event.

“Well then, Your Majesty, I’ll be taking note of the highest bid prices, so please grace us with your presence till the very end!”
“O-Okay… But don’t be too greedy, all right?”

The audience applauded the moment I went onstage.
I waited for the applause to die down, then proceeded with my speech.

“…Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for gathering here today at Pandemonium Trades’ special auction!”

Another round of applause from the audience.
I waited for it to die down once again.

“By the favor of Queen Astres, we have prepared a line of goods made by her personal designer! Please give a round of applause to our queen!”

Of course, I didn’t forget to mention our honorable guest.
With the demon queen in a good mood, we’ll be in luck if she makes a slip of the tongue about her exclusive designer.

Now that I’ve gotten the introduction and formalities out of the way, it’s time to proceed to the main attraction.

“Without further ado, let us begin introducing our articles one by one!”

At my signal, a dress mounted on a mannequin appeared on stage.
I received several garments from Her Majesty, but I’m going to introduce the most luxurious of them from the get-go!

“Item number one is a formal dress perfect for a noblewoman. If you wear this to a ball, you’ll definitely be the center of attention!”

Ecstatic oohs and aahs could be heard from the audience.
The majority of our audience is female due to the nature of our items. I had succeeded in entrancing them.

“We shall delve deep within Her Majesty’s mysterious dress, which has been the object of envy as of late. First, its fabric! It’s unlike anything we know of!”

It’s smooth to the touch and has a faint shimmer to it.
Even I, president of a huge company well-versed in various articles, have never seen such beautiful fabric.

“I believe it’s called silk,” comments Queen Astres.

It’s as if she’s imparting second-hand knowledge; nonetheless, its peculiarity and unfamiliarity excite me!

“It’s a special fabric made in a certain place. Its quality is completely different from the fabrics we know of.”
“Truly! However, that’s not the only marvelous thing about this dress!”

To avoid staining the dress, I turned the hem inside out with utmost care through my gloves to reveal the lining.

“Please take a look at the seams on this dress! It’s natural for clothes to be sewn together, but this dress has an entirely different dimension to it!”

The first time I saw this dress during my inspection, I was so astonished that my knees gave way.

“The seams are straight and are evenly spaced! It’s hard to think it was hand-sewn! Whoever sewed this dress must have the hands of a god!”

There’s no way an article with so many noteworthy features wouldn’t sell at a high price!
That’s why I’m going to sell it at the highest price possible!
Such is the purpose of today’s auction!

“We’ll now proceed with the auctioning of this dress! The minimum bid price is…”


All articles exceeded the expected bidding price, and the auction ended successfully with the final item, a camisole, being bid on.

I was pleased as punch.

“Wow… It’s scary how all the winning bids have reached astronomical numbers!” says Queen Astres, evidently shocked at the profits made from today’s auction.

However, not a single penny from today’s auction will go to Her Majesty’s pockets.

“Are you sure, Your Majesty? The proceeds from this auction will be equally split between our company and the producer. I feel ashamed since none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the opportunity you created, Your Majesty…”
“It’s all right. All I want is for her efforts to be recognized by the public. Of course, make sure you have receipts and payment notifications, so people don’t think we’ve cut corners.”
“Naturally, Your Majesty!”
“I have one last favor to ask,” says Queen Astres as she suddenly lowered her voice into a whisper.
“I have one more of her works on hand that I want to sell.”
“Pardon?”
“It’s not for personal use. It’s meant to be released to the public.”

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C145: Purveyor

I am a merchant of the demon race. My company, Pandemonium Trading Company, has been in business for more than 20 generations.
We are the number one influencer in the Demon Kingdom and are proud that we handle all the products being distributed across the country.

Similarly, I, Shax, president of Pandemonium Trading Company, am one of the handful of purveyors who had the honor of receiving direct orders from the king.

Now that His Majesty has destroyed the Human Kingdom and indeed became the king of the earth both in name and substance, we will be able to expand into the untapped distribution network of The Human Kingdom and steadily increase our profits.

The future of our firm alongside the Demon Kingdom is going to be smooth sailing.

But then, I was suddenly summoned by a certain someone…


Being in front of First Demon Queen Astres’ dignified presence made me so nervous that I kept sweating bullets.

Her Majesty used to be part of the military circle as one of the Heavenly Four and exemplary in her accomplishments and abilities. She was temporarily exiled after losing in a political war. Still, she and His Majesty somehow became a betrothed couple during those times and she made her splendid comeback as the Demon Queen.

Her Majesty has also contributed immensely to the invasion of the Human Kingdom recently, and no one dares oppose her since she became queen.

And now that she is carrying the king’s heir, her glory would be absolute should she give birth to a boy.

In short, Queen Astres stands equal with King Zedan, so we must pay her our utmost respect.
As a purveyor of the king, orders from His Majesty’s immediate family are also valued highly.
Suppose we fail to entertain their requests and be banned from entering their place, it would cause our business’ downfall.

“It is my humblest pleasure to have an audience with you, Your Majesty!”
“You don’t have to be so formal. I also should’ve summoned you sooner than later, but matters regarding the reform and invasion of the Human Kingdom right after my inauguration as demon queen haven’t given me the time to do so. Surely, you’ve been impatient. Forgive me.”
“Please, think nothing of it, Your Majesty!”

That’s right.
This is the very first time that I’ve ever been in an audience with the demon queen as her order-taker.

That’s why I’m this nervous.

Women have always been pickier about their choices than men. I don’t know what kind of orders I’ll be receiving from our new queen, who now has life-and-death power over us.

Of course, she had been doing business with us even during her time as a Heavenly One, but she was in charge of different things back then. You never know how people change once they gain even higher power.

I pray that she’s an easy influencer to do business with.

“…W-We, Pandemonium Trading Company, has served as purveyors to the demon king’s family for generations. If there is anything His Majesty’s family desires, we are more than prepared to search till the ends of the earth just to provide it to you.”

I just have to promote my sales for now.

“It would be an honor to receive your request, be it from the most trivial item to the most invaluable one. As a merchant of the demon race, I, Shax, pledge to always live up to Your Majesty’s expectations!”
“Very well. I have one favor to ask of you.”
“Whatever can I get for Your Majesty? A dress? Jewelry? In fact, I’ve already brought with me multiple articles that I think will suit Your Majesty!”
“No, that’s not what I meant. I already have enough clothing with me.”
“I-I see!”

Drat!
But Her Majesty’s right.

I can see that she has wonderful vestments with her.

All the attire she has worn in public had exquisite designs, shocking the demon fashion world.
I, including other demons in the same industry, know nothing about where she purchased it.

Could it be that a new merchant group has gotten close to the demon king’s family without us knowing?!
If so, we, Pandemonium Trading Company, are in unprecedented danger of being thrown off our top position in the merchant industry!

I was so excited to offer Her Majesty maternity dresses now that she’s conceiving…

But she is already wearing one.
Her maternity dress has a sophisticated design, divine fabric, and fine tailoring!
Even I, who pride myself as the best merchant in The Demon Kingdom, have no confidence in my ability to prepare such a high-class item.
It’s my total loss!

Where did Her Majesty procure such a fine article?!

“I want you to be my middleman.”

“…Middleman?”

She wants me to sell, not to buy?

That’s not an unusual request.
We often acted as the past demon kings’ intermediaries to sell their treasures for raising money used in war.

But…

“I’m not knowledgeable about commerce, so I’m not sure if that’s what you call it. But I’d like you to sell articles in place of a certain someone. The profits would be split 50-50 between you and her. What do you think?”
“I’m willing to do my very best no matter what Her Majesty wants, but I cannot say anything for sure until I see the articles first…”

Selling inferior goods would affect the reputation of our company, after all.

I know I shouldn’t offend Her Majesty, but do I really have the courage to refuse if needed?

“You make a valid point. What I want you to sell are our clothes.”
“Clothes, Your Majesty?”
“I have a very special friend who tailors clothes for me. I want to make sure that her work reaches others.”
“Your Majesty’s apparel?!”
“Yes, in fact, this maternity dress I’m wearing right now was also done by her.”
“Understood.”

A quick decision.
I can’t call myself a merchant if I don’t grab the opportunity right away.

I never would’ve expected that Her Majesty’s clothing was a one-of-a-kind piece tailored by her own designer!
No wonder I couldn’t find out where it was bought!

My merchant heart beats hard like a wild animal from the sense of security that the possibility of a new rival penetrating the market has been eliminated and the anticipation of handling delicate articles!

“Please rest assured and leave the mediation to me! I’ll sell them at the highest reasonable price possible!”
“I-Is that so? There’s no need to go the extra mile for it…”
“First, allow me to meet the designer face-to-face and sign an exclusive contract with her then and there!”
“Now?!”

I was so excited that I didn’t notice Her Majesty was taken aback by my own behavior.

My intuitions are screaming at me that this product would definitely sell.

The apparel made by this mysterious designer will definitely take the fashion world by storm!
I can also make profits from it! What could be better than that for a merchant? None!

Our company will continue to thrive in the new era with bigger profits!

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C144: Big Dreams

After receiving the sewing machine, Batemy’s tailoring life became livelier.

Her days of hand-sewing work clothes have come to an end with the help of mechanization, drastically increasing her work hours.
Now, she can devote her free time to her hobby, consequently making our farm more colorful.

Moreover, the thread spewed by the silkworms mainly used as the raw material for clothes has suddenly become more diverse.

They used to spew just white thread as expected of them, but for some reason, their threads have also become more colorful now, with red, blue, yellow, green, blue, blue, and blue threads…

“…Why is there a bias for blue?”

There’s also another version of silk thread that has the elasticity of rubber.
We can make stockings out of them now!

I don’t know what made them evolve, but I’m jealous of their carefree life.


“Hm…”

Demon Queen Astres came to visit us today.

She’s in Batemy’s tailor room and is evaluating her new work.

“How is it, Your Majesty? I would like to offer you three maternity dresses in celebration of your pregnancy.”

A significant amount of time has passed since she got married to the Demon King. If they do what any normal couple does, it’s only natural that her belly will grow bigger over time.
Mrs. Astres successfully conceived an heir, and her belly is a clear indication of it.

“It seems you’ve honed your skills even further since you came here, Batemy. It is clear to me that these garments are the best in terms of functionality and originality.”
“Generous words, Your Majesty. I tried to make the garment as functional, breathable, and warm as possible to accommodate the special body shape of a conceiving woman while still keeping enough room so as not to constrict its wearer. Above all else, the native adamantine silk used as its material provides protection for your heir such that annihilation magic won’t inflict a single wound on you.”

Her explanation was overwhelming.

“Wonderful, not even maestros with their own ateliers at the demon capital can achieve something like this.”
“Once again, I am not worthy of such words!”

Batemy served the Demon King’s army by being Mrs. Astres’ aide during her Heavenly One times.
It was also under Mrs. Astres’ discretion to let Batemy stay here. Even though they no longer have a boss-subordinate relationship, their bond is still deep and strong.

“Tsk, this is boring. I’m also a queen, yet only Astres gets all the attention and flattery,” says Mrs. Glasya, the second demon queen.

She also used to be a Heavenly One.

“Hey, Batemy! Make me a maternity dress, too! I’m also expecting an heir! I’ve been pregnant for three months, you know? Three months!!!”
“Talk to me again once God has descended.”
“WHAT?!”

Spoken like a true artisan.

“I’ve been under Miss Astres’ direct care. I plan on repaying her kindness bit by bit, even if I’m just making clothes now. So, why do I also have to make clothes for her rival?”
“Have you forgotten that I’m also a queen?!”

Please calm down, Mrs. Glasya.
If you suddenly have a miscarriage here, we wouldn’t know what to do.

“…”

On the other hand, Mrs. Astres is contemplating Batemy’s work.

“…Batemy, there’s something I’d like to ask you.”
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
“Do you want to sell your work at the capital?” she proposes.

“Pardon?!”

Batemy is both shocked and confused.

“I wasn’t lying when I said earlier that your works are that of a professional designer already. I personally think these articles would be popular among the higher classes in the demon capital.”
“I hate to admit, but I agree with her!” says Mrs. Glasya as she eyes the maternity dress with envy.

“Why don’t you give it a try and see how your work is perceived by the public? I’ll ask one of the purveyors who frequent the royal castle and act as your intermediary to find buyers for you. You don’t need to do anything on your side. This place, obviously, won’t be revealed either.”
“Um… I’m delighted by the offer, but…”

Batemy glances at me.
She’s so thoughtful.

“I don’t mind,” I say.

Besides, our farm’s residents all have their own set of work clothes and daily wear, and she’s getting more and more free time now.
If we don’t outsource here and channel her energy into something else, her appetite for tailoring will be unmanageable.

“Miss Astres! I have a request to make!”
“Mm-hm, your original dream was to open a shop in the capital, right? Naturally, it can only be realized when you actually start selling there.”

It was an all-too brilliant concern of Mrs. Astres, who has now embodied the dignity of a demon queen.

Batemy’s childhood dream came true after an unexpected turn of events, starting from the ups and downs of being a Heavenly One’s aide.

I feel honored to say that my farm also played a part in her journey.

“…How nice.”
“Eek! Belena?!”

Batemy’s partner, Belena, the other half of our demon duo, was already standing right next to her without anyone noticing her presence.
She has recently mastered the skill of moving around quietly like a ninja.

“While I was struggling to find my identity, Batemy only keeps moving ahead! We both started as Miss Astres’ aides, and yet…”

Belena went on with her usual drama, so no one’s surprised at this point.

“Um, Miss Astres, congratulations on your pregnancy. However, someone as useless as me can only offer stones and weeds as a congratulatory gift!”
“I-I see… Belena, I think your character stands out the way you are right now!”

Mrs. Astres has finally gone and said it!
I’ve been aware of it the entire time but never dared to bring it up!

“Wah!!! I’m destined to be jobless for good!!!”

Surely enough, Belena ran off.

“…It’s not that I think she’s jobless. She’s been helping us with important matters in her own way.”
“It still feels like she doesn’t have an actual job, though.”
“Batemy, shush.”

Aren’t you only making things difficult because of the way you make her see things?!

I’ve been thinking of having a heart-to-heart talk with Belena to help her find her identity for a while now, but I’m afraid it would end up in a disaster and do the exact opposite of it!

…I guess I’ll wait and see how things go for a little longer.

This period continued for a while.


A few days have passed since Batemy started producing clothes to sell in the demon capital under Mrs. Astres’ consignment.

“People bought them,” says Mrs. Astres, who directly came to tell us.

“It had the highest bid in history.”
“WHAT?!”

Now, the Batemy-wave is sweeping the entire capital.

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