Off to the Capitol Again
This was the King’s bed. As usual Peach, Dams, Cliff, and the Nightmare Dragon were making there plans from here.
“Hey Peach, since the ban on Sabbath has been lifted anyways, isn’t the ‘sacrifices are OK as long as you have consent’ part just overkill? If the King orders them to be a sacrifice, then they would be stuck choosing between agreeing or going against a royal order anyway.”
Peach answered the Nightmare Dragon’s question with a snort.
“It’s good if we have the King’s decree be extreme. Generally, the King wouldn’t recklessly name someone to be used as a sacrifice for a Sabbath. That fear of being forced to volunteer to be a sacrifice is a little bonus pressure we’re putting on the people.”
“Complicated, so then I can’t have my fill on young girls’ hearts?”
Peach rolled her eyes at Dams’s dissatisfaction.
“You wouldn’t be able to just eat whoever you wanted even if you were still under the Demon Lord’s influence. Listen. The King has already allowed Sabbaths to be held, but there’s no need for him to host one personally. Cliff, go to the Merchant Guild and set up a “Sabbath Proxy Service” in a back alley nearby.”
“Got it. I can arrange it on my own.”
Cliff understood what Peach was thinking, and so he left with a wide grin knowing he was going to get to show his face at the Merchant Guild again after a long time.
Yes, the King only needs to give his approval. But there’s more to Sabbath than just eating little girls’ hearts that Dams is so particular about. The people are afraid, but once the initial chill passes, those with more twisted hobbies will start to move. At first they’ll all keep each other in check. They’ll worry about what others would think. But then they’d hear about the “Sabbath Proxy Service”. Under this service Cliff will be able to host whatever themed Sabbath that the city’s influential people desire while promising a level of anonymity. It might just start off as an orgy, or maybe it would be a simple SM show. And that’s fine, at first. But slowly the requests will grow in severity. You just have to let the public slowly rot away.
How long before somebody steps forward and says, “I want to beat someone,” or “I want to cut someone”, or “I want to kill someone”? They’ll start tormenting those weaker than them. They’ll start aiming for their political enemies. And what will arise will be a world of chaos, one where anyone can do anything they want.
“Dams should take a moment too, try enjoying yourself at someone else’s Sabbath. Oh and by the way Nightmare Dragon, is our war potential fine?”
“Yes, that Zakuroma is happily working away in the field even as we speak. When the time comes, we should be able to amass however much strength we need.”
“Sounds good. If it ever comes to that, I’d like to go all out anyway.”
And so the day’s evil plans continued moving forward.
Meanwhile in the southern suburbs of Skycastle.
The girls had managed to meet up with Duke Marsfield’s party at the prearranged destination. The dragons had all already decreased to their miniature sizes and were now hanging off their respective maidens.
“Now then, what should we do?”
Duke Marsfield just came out and asked the girls for their opinions before they all entered the capitol.
“After hearing what you have to say about Sabbath, I can’t think of it as anything else than the work of demons.”
“In that case, isn’t it fine if I just cut them down?”
“Reeve, if you keep saying stuff like that, Ellis is going to scold you again. But, what is their goal here?”
“The demons’ goal is probably just to create chaos, but I wonder if the Demon King is involved.”
“Whether it’s a Hero or the Demon Lord, bad things are bad nya. That’s it nya.”
After hearing what all of the girls had to say, Duke Marsfield posed another question he wanted to ask.
“In that case, what do you think I should do during this audience.”
“If the demons are relying on the King or his spokesman, then how about peeling them off and rounding them up in one go?”
Ellis thought about the Isolation ring Ares and Izerina had just entrusted them with. If the demons were manipulating the King or the spokesman to have their plan enacted, then perhaps forcefully separating them will help restore some sanity. And with the King and/or spokesman back to their senses, there would be no mess or fuss to just killing the demons then and there.
“Could such a move work?”
As Duke Marsfield allowed his hopes to rise for a moment, Ra-chin responded from Ellis’s back.
“It’s no good. In short it’s a matter of mental preparedness. Even if we could separate them once, the demons could easily latch back on afterwards.”
“Putting that aside Duke Marsfield, it’s more important that we have the Brave Party standing beside you when the time comes. Please make the arrangements.”
“Ah Ellis, Sir Chaffee has already made those particular arrangements for us. They should already be waiting at the castle gate for us.”
Ellis was irritated. Irritated at the King, the Demon Lord, the Hero, all of them. Why do these guys have to cause problems in her life?
Just as a test, Ellis tried asking Ra-chin a question through her mental link with him.
“What are the odds of us being able to just burn Skycastle’s royal palace down to the dirt?”
Ra-chin gave an immediate answer while a little intrigued by the question.
“One hundred percent if there was no Hero there. With a Hero, that falls to zero.”
“After all, there’s that large of a gap in ability?”
“It can’t be helped. Our attacks are just ineffective against that guy and the Demon Lord. Ah, no, there is one way.”
“If all five of us dragons were to use our full power at once against the Hero while Ellis and everyone else supports us with all your strength, we could hold the Hero down. And then Katie would get her shot to destroy either the Hero’s brain or heart in a single blow with her Brave Ripper. As long as she manages to actually destroy one of them in a single attack, he shouldn’t be able to recover from that. Of course even if we do manage to kill him, we’ll all end up dying from the battle as well.”
“An unrealistic option then.”
“What about the Demon Lord?”
“The ‘Demon Lord’s Mark’ is probably an item that restricts the Demon Lord’s magical powers for a time. If Ellis were to use it, it’d be a gamble on whether or not our full strength would be able to break through the Demon Lord’s barrier in time.”
“What are our odds?”
“The same as beating the Hero.”
“In that case our only hope is to have the Hero and the Demon Lord kill each other.”
“If Ellis wishes hard enough”
Nobody else realized that Ellis and Ra-chin had just held such a conversation between one another. And so the girls ventured through the nobles’ gate into Skycastle once again.
“What is this!?”
These were Ellis’s true and honest feelings. Skycastle was definitely lively. Although, probably not in the way people wanted.
Market prices for goods had already gone through massive inflation. Even the most simple of commodities had doubled in price since they last visited Skycastle. There was also a bunch of shady looking flyers posted around this way and that. They were all invitations for different Sabbaths, recruitment posters asking for volunteers to be sacrifices for a Sabbath. And rather than threatening anyone, they made it look so simple, like they were recruiting for a stage dancer or something. The reward was about the same as what a female hostess would make in a month.
As expected Duke Marsfield was frowning as well.
“Hey Chaffee, what’s with this scene?”
“It’s spread rapidly these last few days especially. Businesses have stagnated while an air of consumption has permeated. And this is the result.”
“However, won’t people quickly start to run out of money?”
Duke Marsfield’s simple question caused Sir Chaffee’s shoulders to drop.
“It’s just as you’d expect. In the blink of an eye the land taxes for each territory under the nobles has risen astronomically. Already they’re to the point where farmers won’t be able to pay.”
Duke Marsfield sighed and his shoulders dropped as well. He was currently regretting his own naivety at just how seriously the demons would be able to erode the economy.
“Let’s quickly go meet with my brother.”
The Duke had completely forgotten about his own position and the position of the King, heading straight for the royal palace simply so he could question his brother.
The Hero Gray, thief Gise, and magician Marionetta were already standing in front of the royal palace waiting for the Duke to arrive. As soon as he saw them standing there, Duke Marsfield started pouring on the abuse.
“Oh my it’s the Hero Gray and his little Brave Party. Tell me do your hearts hurt seeing how Skycastle is right now!?”
His words dug in deep. Because the Hero and magician were always having so much fun with each other in Warren, they failed to notice just how bad Skycastle was getting. And the thief was doing what his boss at the Thieves’ Guild told him and kept pretending to go along with everything.
Gray took a step forward representing the his party.
“Duke Marsfield, we apologize for the slowness of noticing this. But, we still don’t know the cause.”
“Which is why I’m telling you to follow me now. Now come!”
The Brave Party meekly followed after Duke Marsfield’s angry shouting.
But then Ellis walked up and approached Marionetta with a smile.
“Marionetta, long time no see. Are you in good health?”
Compared to the the Duke’s anger, Marionetta was slightly taken aback by Ellis’s carefree attitude, but she somehow managed to return a smile.
“Yes, Ellis, every day is truly fulfilling.”
“I see, that’s good to hear. Now we should get our stories straight.”
Halfway through what she was saying, Ellis started whispering into Marionetta’s ear. Marionetta hardened for a moment after hearing that, but Ellis kept talking.
“All right, let’s go watch a couple of brothers fight it out.”
Ellis’s words for some reason allowed all the other Jewelry Box girls to relax a bit. Well, it would be just another audience.