The <Northern Overlord> Zardish hide himself in this room whenever he was lost in thought.
It was black. The walls, the floors and even the ceiling were all black. This room, which looked like it was carved out of the darkness from the abyss of the underworld, was very comfortable for him, who had reached the height of glory in this world.
One would wonder what the designer of this room intended when they chose such a colour scheme.
Intimidation, loneliness and omnipotence.
Everything seemed right and everything seemed wrong at the same time.
The <Northern Overlord> was enjoying his boredom in the ‘Dazzling Black Room’ located deep inside the Great Demon King’s castle at the capital.
This was the Demon Realm. This was the domain of demons.
In the past, the Great Demon King, who resided in the Great Demon King castle, ruled here and the Big Four TN: They used Four Heavenly Kings kanji here, but it feels weird to call demons the Four Heavenly Kings… assisted him along with the officials of the Great Demon King’s Office.
One of the Big Four and the first of the big four was the <Northern Overlord>. He made a move when the Great Demon King died.
There are two people who have the right to succeed the Great Demon King. Draco, who was the direct grandson of the Great Demon King and was the <Crown Prince>, and Renis, who’s grandfather on his mother’s side was the Great Demon King.
Zardish had dethroned Draco and drove him to the frontier, and elevated Renis up to the position of <Crown Prince>.
Only the Great Demon King had the authority to appoint and dismiss as well as give orders to the Big Four. But that position was now vacant, and the future Great Demon King was in Zardish’s hands.
He also had a private army with 240,000 men. This was an overwhelming military force in the Demon Realm.
The Central rule has weakened now that the Great Demon King was gone and although there are still many Demon Kings who are in power, none of them were able to oppose him politically or with military might.
It was no exaggeration to say that he was the highest authority in the Demon Realm at this time.
The ‘Dazzling Black Room’ where Zardish was in was one of the rooms given to one of the Big Four. He was the sole master of this room since he assumed the Supreme Ruler title. He stayed in the north where he was appointed, but recently, he would make up reasons to return to the capital to stay in this room in solitude.
He didn’t consider himself old.
The most prominent characteristic of trolls, the dominate race of the Demon Realm, is their longevity and perennial youth. Zardish, as a member of the troll race, is 73 years old but he still retained his steel toughness. He had dark skin, rust-coloured hair and black horns. He was slender, but not at all weak. The <Northern Overlord> was proud of his military appearance.
He was confident that he could command a large army at a moment’s notice and run through the battlefield. This confidence was the source of his vitality, and his never-ending vitality was the foundation of his prestige.
He playfully reached out his hand towards the ceiling.
The entire map of the Demon Realm was carved on the ceiling and large diamonds were embedded in the locations of major cities.
Supremacy over a nation. The world.
Whatever you wanted to call it, the greatest thing a living being can ever hope for was in the palm of Zardish’s hand.
Each inlayed diamond not only represented the city, but also the tens of thousands of people who live there. He held the power of their life and death in his hands even though he wasn’t an Evil God, but Zardish wasn’t moved by this.
“Are you here?”
The darkness shook.
White, a colour which didn’t suit this jet-black room.
It was Lakoit del Ada, the <White Haired Princess>, who was known as the <Northern Overlord> Zardish’s right-hand woman.
“Lakoit? What happened?”
“Nothing. I heard you have returned from the north.”
Lakoit was half troll and half orc.
Zadish was tall, but Lakoit was slightly taller than him despite being a woman. Her long silver hair which was almost white like her title implied was a sight to behold. Her slightly broad forehead and glasses made her look intelligent. She was extremely popular among the bureaucrats she leads.
Of course, beauty alone wasn’t enough to serve as Zardish’s right-hand woman. Her reputation for being gifted with both intelligence and beauty wasn’t an exaggeration.
The double life of Zardish, who went back and forth between his post and the capital, would normally be very strenuous, but thanks to Lakoit keeping an eye on the Demon King’s Office in the capital, he was able to spend time on his own plans.
“Don’t burden yourself, Lakoit.”
“Those are wasteful words to say to me. It is the vassal’s job to fulfil their Lord’s wishes to the best of their abilities. But it is time for the next Great Demon King to ascend to the throne.”
This kingdom ――― the Demon Realm cannot hold out any longer. Was what Lakoit was silently petitioning.
A vast realm, a huge population and enormous wealth. All of these things exist in a whirlpool around a single Great Demon King. That was the way the Demon Realm should be. A whirlpool without a centre doesn’t exist. At this rate, the Demon Realm could be completely split up.
“Ascend the <Crown Prince>?”
“Yes. Even if he is just there for show, it is better to have him on the throne than not.”
Zardish could enthrone him at any time. It would be impossible for anyone other than Zardish since he held that much power. The power that was rightfully given to him, the authority that he has stolen away by force and his invisible clout. There was no one in the capital who could oppose Zardish.
“The time. The time isn’t ripe.”
“You may be right. Some people in the Great Demon Office are trying their best to oppose, but their protests are becoming weaker and weaker. There is no need for a giant dragon to hesitate because of the hinderance of a few small insects.”
Even though he had successfully dethroned the <Dethroned Crown Prince> Draco, the civil servants in the Great Demon Office were stubborn. They were hesitant about the accession of the <Crown Prince> Renis because he was from a female line.
Lakoit’s irritation was directed at the indecisive civil servants. They should have known that he would enthrone Renis as soon as he dethroned Draco.
Of course, the civil servants weren’t so short-sighted that they didn’t predict this.
This was politics.
Being reluctant to support Renis because he was from a female line was their miserable attempt to extract some kind of concession from the <Northern Overlord> who was now the real ruler of the capital.
The male line of the royal family has ceased to exist many times in the past. Each time that happened, the Great Demon King Office would tinker with the history books and propagate the legitimacy of the Great Demon King’s lineage. There was no way they would hesitate now since they have done this many numerous times in the past.
Zardish understood Lakoit’s anger to the point that it hurt.
But that wasn’t the core of the problem at hand.
“Discard those vassals. I have other concerns.”
There were a lot of bandits around the capital because of tax.
The people around the capital have become bandits one after another because they can no longer bear to be taxed to the limit. The tax from the fiefs under the direct control of the Great Demon King no longer reach the capital so the citizens in the capital were taxed more.
The tax from the fiefs under the direct control of the Great Demon King have been stolen away by neighbouring Demon Kings. In some cases, local officials have even voluntarily contributed the taxes to the Demon Kings to ensure their own safety.
The absence of the Great Demon King was affecting those areas as well.
“The bandits are definitely a problem, but that’s not it.”
“Your problem is not the vassals nor the bandits, so it is either the <Locust Emperor> or the Night Demon Tribe.”
“It wouldn’t be that big of a problem if it were either of them.”
“Then what is making you so displeased?”
“It’s the <Dethroned Crown Prince>.”
The <Dethroned Crown Prince> who had been expelled to the south, had gained Alunaha, a remote caste city in the southwestern part of the Demon Realm.
He hadn’t just gained it. He had officially taken over the city by defeating the goblin Demon King, Benan, who was based in Alunaha.
Usually, it wouldn’t be possible to recover quickly from such a crushing defeat. Zardish had expected Draco to die. It was a meritorious deed for a defeated noble who has survived after defeat. Zardish even though of offering him a small favour and a comfortable position to the powerful tribe that had decapitated the head of an enemy.
“Ri Gudang, the nephew of the <Clairvoyant> Benin tried to avenge the death of the Demon King, but both sides tied. The one who pulled the strings behind Ri Gudang was the <Succubus Princess> Palmyra.”
“I’ve also heard rumours that Evil Gods have manifested.”
“That is absurd. This isn’t the Age of the Gods.”
“――― Ah, you’re right.”
Zardish held himself back from smiling. The Evil Gods exist. One manifested in the Zardish’s immediate vicinity. The God of War with long black hair. The most powerful Goddess with blood on her hands.
The identity of the Black Haired Princess was his best kept secret.
Even Lakoit doesn’t know about the true identity of the <Black Haired Princess>. They were known as the <Black and White Princesses> when together. He would reveal this to her eventually, but now wasn’t the time.
“I would like to ask you to consider the accession of the Great Demon King. There is a limit to how much I alone can handle.”
“Alright. I will reconsider it.”
The <White Haired Princess> left after saying what she had to say.
Zardish looked up at the ceiling again then closed his eyes.
The Great Demon King.
Yes, the Great Demon King.
What should he do?
“The <Dethroned Crown Prince> Draco, huh.”
He didn’t feel old.
No, he was just stopping himself from feeling old. It was harder for him to get rid of his fatigue. He could move on his own, but he needed lightning speed to curb the <Dethroned Crown Prince> politically. If he were to exhaust his strength here, then he might regret it one day when he and Draco meet on the battlefield.
So, Zardish begun thinking about leaving it to someone else. If this was aging, then perhaps the <Northern Overlord> was getting old.
“… Or use the nephew of Benan.”
He’ll create a stir in the south in a way that wouldn’t require a lot of work or money.
The answer was surprisingly easy to find.
“It’ll be good entertainment.”
He muttered as he looked around the room. The ‘Dazzling Black Room’ was filled with a chilling black glow like always. It was still the same as it was when it was created thousands of years ago according to legend.
The other rooms given to the Big Four were ――― red, white, and blue. There was also a room that didn’t have a master and there was no Great Demon King, who has the authority to appoint a master to the room.
“Though, it isn’t a good idea leave a room empty in the Great Demon King Castle for a long time.”
The Supreme Ruler’s mutters were absorbed into the black walls without being heard by anyone.
|↑1||TN: They used Four Heavenly Kings kanji here, but it feels weird to call demons the Four Heavenly Kings…|