The Country of the Star Tree
I was pretty out of it while I translated so there might be mistakes, so please do let me know if you find any errors.
〈The Country of the Star Tree〉.
This was the name Lemuse was commonly known by.
It was the day after the fierce fight they had, that they finally made it to this country in the east.
「In the past I used to be embarrassed by that name but well, now, it’s kind of grown on me」
Merea passed through the western gate of Lemuse, riding on a horse.
Hasim was riding beside him.
Incidentally, the black scaled earth dragon, Noel, was going to be standing by outside for the day.
Hasim did say that he would make some preparations later but, as expected, letting a dragon into the city without any preparations beforehand would just shock the citizens.
At first Merea was rather hesitant to leave Noel alone outside, so he tried to apologize as he turned back but,
――I was an idiot for caring…
Noel, himself, was attracted to the feed that Lemuse’s stable hand had raised up and happily went towards that place while drooling profusely. Without a single care about the apologetic expressions that the demon lords had towards him.
Noel quickly entered into the provisional dragon house that had been quickly constructed and while looking around his surroundings, he started eating the feed at a violent speed.
――He’s rather bold. Unexpectedly, he might be the one with the toughest mentality amongst all of us.
While thinking that, Merea heaved a heavy sigh.
After a little while, a large group of citizens of Lemuse showed up to welcome them.
While being affected by the enthusiasm of the citizens, Merea asked Hasim about the name Lemuse was commonly known by.
「I understand the tree part but, what does the star part mean?」
Trees. In Lemuse’s townscape, trees and other flora could be seen in various places giving a rather fresh feeling.
Civilized city streets with white stone, in perfect harmony with nature.
「The balance between nature and civilization is achieved to a point that the stars are visible at night」
「Is that all?」
「――And, there is a huge tree in the center of Lemuse known as the big star tree. It’s that one over there, can you see it?」
The point where Hasim had pointed at, there was a large tree producing strange green and blue particles.
Even from the gate, the tree had such a size that it could even be called a castle and it wouldn’t be strange.
「Thanks to the last king, the majority of the greenery in the city has more or less withered but, the citizens and I have somehow managed to protect at least that one」
It was beautiful.
He wondered exactly where the blue and green particles were flowing out from.
「In the right season, it even has golden particles mixed into it」
「How exactly does it work?」
「Who knows. It’s a spirit tree that’s been there since ancient times. It might be sucking up a particular technique’s essence from the deep underground or it might be absorbing it from the air but, even now we still haven’t understood what’s going on」
「The tree is using a technique?」
「A technique is basically a formula that expresses the phenomenon in the world. In a way that humans can understand. In that case, spirit trees like that one, which can even be called the very incarnation of nature, using techniques that we’re familiar with, shouldn’t be that strange right?」
Merea was entranced by the brilliance of that large tree.
「I’ll eventually have all the nature in the country recovered. It hasn’t been long since I became the king. Not just foreign affairs, I need to proceed well with internal affairs too」
「Sounds like you’ll be busy」
「I’ll have you accompany me at times as well. Of course, with a proper negotiation」
「I already figured that would happen」
Merea shrugged and laughed.
「Well, any time other than that, you can do as you like. You have stuff that you want to accomplish right?」
「Let’s help each other out at those times. ――Well, to start with, if you don’t have a place to live then nothing will begin. There are also the huge contributions in the battle this time, so let me pay that off right away. From the very beginning, you achieved results that were way above my expectations so I’m a little worried about our treasury」
「Even I had no control over that flow of events」
「I hope that’s true…」
Hasim put his hand on his forehead, 「Haa…」, and forced out a sigh. As the battle passed by, the number of expressions that could be seen on Hasim’s face had increased.
Merea watched that while looking like he was really enjoying himself.
「Actually, there’s a large house right next to that star tree」
「Is that so?」
「I’ll give that to you」
「You’re rather generous」
「There are twenty two of you, if I don’t provide at least this much, it wouldn’t be enough right?」
「Incidentally, they’ll probably increase」
Hearing Merea’s declaration, Hasim noticed something and gave a huge nod.
「I don’t mind, it can still handle much more」
「Just how big is it…that house?」
「Well, if you see it, you’ll understand」
Saying that, Hasim made his horse move faster.
Although the residents of Lemuse were approaching them and they wanted to pay attention but they still hurried along.
While receiving words like, 『Long live the King of Lemuse』 and 『Welcome to Lemuse』, Merea and the demon lords along with Hasim, walked through the streets of the town of the star tree.
As they approached the big star tree, they were once again overwhelmed by the sheer size of that tree and they were also able to see the large house that Hasim had talked about. They couldn’t not notice it.
Merea momentarily became speechless before he turned a reproachful gaze towards Hasim.
「Exactly, which part of this is a 『house』?」
「If you live in it then, then describing it as a house shouldn’t be a mistake right?」
A castle. It was definitely a castle.
Not to mention, a fairly large one at that.
In fact, it might have been easier to react if they had just prepared a small barn or something.
The criticism this time was,
「It, it’s a little too much isn’t it…?」
So it was a criticism that stemmed from the situation going in a fairly good direction.
Merea turned his gaze away from Hasim and once again looked over at the castle.
As he looked towards the back, he noticed another large castle, which he could see from in between the branches of the big star tree.
「Lemuse castle is on the other side」
It seemed like the other side was the royal palace of Lemuse.
「…I don’t even know where to start retorting from anymore」
「In any case, no one is using this castle right now. It seems like someone used to use it long back though」
Hasim looked up at that castle as he floated a smile.
When you looked at the complete view of the castle, it had an imposing appearance that was perfect to have next to the big star tree. It attained a perfect balance with the nature around it and the light from the star tree gave the castle a fantastical appearance.
With white stones as the base, there were parts which had green and blue precious stones used which would reflect the light from the star tree and shine in response.
There was one part where a branch of the big star tree had entwined around the castle and there was also a place where there were plants, which shone like the big star tree, were growing.
「Let me ask you once again but, are we going to live here?」
While tilting his neck, Merea asked that.
Next to him, Shaw looked up at the castle, 「I wonder how much we could make by selling this castle」.
The other demon lords around him, somehow managed to swallow their thoughts of, 「This guy might actually sell this castle off」 and waited for Hasim’s reply to Merea.
「That’s right. Well, I put on airs but, this is a building that was built for 『all your sake』. ――If you go inside, you’ll understand」
Leaving behind such meaningful words, Hasim turned on his heel.
Merea didn’t miss that Hasim seemed to be staggering very slightly.
As if he remembered something, Hasim turned back towards Merea and spoke further.
「I’ll send over some useful stuff tomorrow, so we’ll discuss the detailed stuff after tomorrow. Insides of the castle are more or less set up so you can use it as you want. That will be yours from today onwards.
――I’m a little tired as well」
With his light brown hair swaying, Hasim left.
Immediately, from somewhere, a woman in black clothes approached his side and supported Hasim.
It seemed like he was really tired after ll.
「I told you so…」
「In any, case, want to…enter?」
Aiz approached from the side with small steps and like a small animal, she tilted her neck to the side as she looked up at Merea.
「We’re all fairly fatigued as well. Sleeping outside is a little annoying after all so, why don’t we enter first and then see」
Elma came from the opposite side and spoke.
Merea nodded while shrugging his shoulders.
「Well then, let’s check it out then」
They finally took a step forward.
They went through the imposing gate of the castle and walked through the courtyard.
The courtyard had been maintained quite well and although it hadn’t been used much for quite a few years but it was still quite clean.
As Merea looked around the courtyard, the person who had called out to him, came towards him.
From within the sparse line that the demon lords had formed with Merea at the head, Salman walked out with a light step.
Salman walked up to Merea and when he reached next to him, he put his hands on the back of his head and with a cool face, he started speaking.
「I somehow understand what you plan on doing from now on but you haven’t actually said it out loud. I don’t plan on going against that decision though but I just thought that I might ask once」
Merea turned the gaze he had on Salman back towards the castle.
He then had a thoughtful expression for a few moments before he finally started speaking.
「――I’m planning on, gathering demon lords」
「Just as I thought」
Salman lightly laughed.
「If there are any demon lords who have been given the label of demon lord and unreasonably oppressed then I want to save them.
For that sake, I need to first find out, how many demon lords there are in this age and what sort of thoughts those demon lords are living with.
Of course, all the demon lords might not sympathise with my thoughts. There might even be demon lords who have taken advantage of the situation and done whatever they wanted like the evil demon lords of old」
「But, even if I want to make a judgement, I first need to see it with my own eyes to be able to make that judgement」
At Merea’s words, Salman breathed out a sigh. It was a melancholic sigh that he breathed out with a thoughtful expression.
「Although it sounds reasonable when you put it in words but, it also sounds idealistic. You’ll probably have to put in a lot of effort」
「I get that. However, especially in this age, 『we all know』 exactly useless labels given by others is. ――Effort? …I’ll put in as much as I need to. That is exactly why I’ve come this far」
「…that so? In that case, I’ll go along with that as well. I was saved by you after all, though it might be a little off to say it after saying that but I agree with that thought of yours. I just thought it might be a good idea to give an opinion from this point of view as well」
Merea understood Salman’s intention as well.
Due to that, he laughed lightly and clapped Salman on the shoulder.
「I’ll probably give you a hard time」
「Don’t bother. I said it at that time as well but, I don’t plan on being the one being saved all the time. If it’s something I can do, then I’ll do whatever needs to be done」
Salman laughed like he truly enjoyed himself as he clapped Merea back on his shoulder.
As if sympathizing with that move, the other demon lords walked up to Merea and while saying words of approval or fake sarcasm, they clapped Merea on his back or shoulders.
「Even so, I wonder how many demon lords there are in this world right now」
While watching the female camp walking in front of them, raising shrill voices, he asked that.
「Who knows. Not just this continent but there are probably many demon lords on the other continents as well. Those who are running away, those who are fighting, those who pledged allegiance, there are probably many kinds」
Moreover, there’s a possibility that they might increase from now on.
It felt like the entire world had stood up in front of Merea.
「I’ll reach out there. No matter how far, I’ll reach my hand out. The place my hand can reach, the place my feet can arrive at, the place my voice can reach. ――What I’m trying to do is very dangerous so, I won’t compromise」
Merea was well aware that, what he was trying to do was similar to trying to walk on an extremely thin rope.
For some people, he would be a hero.
For some people, he would be a demon lord.
It seemed like a balance that would never equilibrate.
It might never be possible for them to attain harmony.
「I won’t give up. No matter who gives up, I at least, never will. No matter how thin the rope might be, I’ll continue till the very end. ――That’s what I’ve decided」
Merea went there.
The path that he thought was the right one, he made up his mind and continued to progress on it.
In a certain sense, on the point alone, Merea might be as stubborn as Flander.
「Well, don’t be that eager. Even if you make a mistake, we’ll all be beside and behind you.
Even if you go crazy, even if we have to use force, we’ll still bring you back to your senses.
When you feel like you’re going to fall over, it’s fine to take our support. We’ll support you no matter how much.
That’s why, I beg of you――don’t fall forward, okay?」
Salman laughed once more.
The other demon lords joined in and laughed as well.
「Yeah, i got it」
Merea flashed a smile that wouldn’t lose to the others and finally, he took a step into the entryway of the castle.
That step was the premonition of the start of a new path.