TL note: it only took me two years and a half to notice that the 12 guilds in this novel are actually references to the zodiac costellations, sooo… yep, some names are going to change:
Silver Mug –> Silver Aquarius
White Goat –> White Aries
Purple Scorpion –> Purple Scorpio.
Mhhh… taste of epic fail…
The king of guilds and the underwater danger
The second floor of our guild’s dormitory was almost empty, but the rooms were ready to host people, so I proposed Zect and Mizuha to sleep there.
“Tomorrow I’ll officially leave Blue Sagittarius. I’ll also take the stuff I’ve left there back. Not like there was anything important, but still…”
“Let me come too! I’ve left some of my stuff there as well.”
“Leave it to me. You didn’t have much stuff with you, I can handle it by myself. Go rest for today.”
Zect then shifted his gaze from his sister to Verlaine and I.
“Thank you for everything. I’ll leave her in your care.”
The next moment, he turned around to leave the room.
“Zect, the guys from Blue Sagittarius who guarded the demi-humans’ prison are just sleeping, right?”
“Yes. I made them faint with a blow from behind, so none should’ve seen or recognized me. Thinking about it, all of them might become homeless once we sue Blue Sagittarius…”
“We could say they were obliged to Blue Sagittarius, as it was the place they worked in, but they reaped what they sowed. They might get employed by another guild, anyway. If we exclude ours and Blue Sagittarius from their options, they still have ten other chances in the capital.”
Garamdoor imprisoned and sold demi-humans as rare articles. Their actions were extremely illegal by the law of the capital, so their trading license was going to be blocked and their organization dismantled. Blue Sagittarius was their accomplice, so its Guild Master probably had to dismiss from their position as well.
The Royal Court, an organ of state under the direct supervision of the King, would declare it in the court hearing.1 If necessary, the Royal Court could even mobilize the army and the royal knights to make the population abide by the laws. A guild could try to fight back, but that would’ve potentially made them face the knights—their end. We can say there wasn’t any organization in the entire capital who could escape the law’s iron grip.
Actually, my guild and White Aries had enough power to withstand them, so what I just said isn’t entirely true, but doing something like that would plunge the entire country into chaos… that wasn’t exactly what we hoped for. I wasn’t unsatisfied of the laws yet.
“We should assume that Blue Sagittarius’ Guild Master knew what Garamdoor was doing and accepted to collaborate. If that’s the whole point of this, Blue Sagittarius will either be forced to stop any activity for some time or have their Guild Master dismissed from the position.”
“Our former Guild Master resigned due to the bad results the guild was achieving, right, Master? In that case, replacing a Guild Master should not be that much of a hurdle.”
“I’ve been here for five years now. I’ve seen people retiring by themselves, but none of them have resigned from their position before. This is going to be on everyone’s lips… although it won’t last forever, I guess.”
Then, a thought crossed my mind.
Blue Sagittarius was affiliated to White Aries. What would the top ranking guild think of us when they knew we were the cause Blue Sagittarius’ wrongdoings had been found out? Once their activity were officially suspended for some time… how would White Aries react?
I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
When I first became Guild Master of Silver Aquarius, all the other guilds were affiliated to White Aries except mine. Up until now, I made three guilds withdraw from that affiliation.
Vinceburg’s underlings were part of Purple Scorpio, which was just another guild affiliated to White Aries… thinking about it, I had to gather some more information about White Aries’ Guild Master. Maybe they were behind this case too.
What if White Aries was planning something obscure along with the seven other guilds affiliated to it…? I didn’t like conspiracy theories, but what if that was actually true…?
“What’s up, Guild Master?”
“Oh, nothing, Mizuha. Leave Blue Sagittarius and Garamdoor to me. I only have to show the Royal Court the proofs our intelligence has gathered.”
Anyway, this wasn’t probably going to end only by pointing the wrongdoings of two organizations out.
I felt like somebody had pulled the strings of this matter… but who? White Aries’ Guild Master? Or… someone else?
I had to research the influential guilds of the capital, which meant paying extra attention to everything. It was time to gather my intelligence team and talk things over with them.
I knew some of the guilds that were affiliated to White Aries. When we had to rival against Red Gemini, I met their Guild Master to talk it over. I heard from White Aries that she was perfect for the job, but it had been a while since I last saw her.
I knew Black Leo’s Guild Master too. His guild wasn’t affiliated with anyone and they were rivals of White Aries, so I could’ve probably earned their help if I played the right cards.
If we found out that White Aries was planning something darker than expected, the capital would’ve become a sort of war zone. Was it worth to keep investigating, knowing that it could’ve caused a disaster like that?
I kept racking my brain over a solution, and time went by slowly in my office on the second floor…
“Master, what is it? You look lost in thoughts.”
“Purple Scorpio is affiliated with White Aries. We might have to face them.”
“…I see. Are you worried about our guild members and their closest relatives? I don’t think we’ll face a foe that wicked, and if there was someone pulling the strings of the demi-human traffic, that someone would be like cancer for this city. I understand and share your worries on the matter.”
Verlaine’s words made me feel somewhat better.
I didn’t fear White Aries. The city could’ve took their side, but that wouldn’t have stopped me from fighting them with all my might.
“There might be more victims if we don’t take care of Mizuha and the other demi-humans. This is what bothers me the most. If what you addressed as cancer really does exist, it will surely keep this up.”
“Then push onward your researches. Ask the intelligence team to move as you’ve done so far. As long as it’s within this capital, it can’t hide forever. If Dick Silver from Silver Aquarius means it, he can reach even the top secrets information, isn’t it?”
At first, I created our intelligence team to search for requests that only we could fulfill.
Even if I knew about the internal condition of other guilds and that led me to some other additional information, I never ordered to search a guild specifically.
There were twelve guilds for a reason—they all had a role. As I didn’t want anyone to nose around my guild, I made a taboo of investigating the others.
And yet, this time I had to break it. I had to interfere with them and gather information about them.
Furthermore, I needed to pry into all the other guilds.
I thought interfering from the shadows was right… Everything could go my way, but that had never been my intention… so far.
The next moment, I understood that something had changed inside me.
I noticed that… to stop demi-humans from being assaulted, I couldn’t just deal with every single case about them. That wasn’t a solution to the problem.
“I might say too much as a mere maid, Master. Forgive me in advance, but as the former Demon Lord, I will speak my mind freely. You should rule over all the guilds of this capital.”
“What?! W-Why should I? I’m fine with being Guild Master of the 12th guild. I would be arrogant just by considering your suggestion.”
“I wouldn’t call arrogant those who stand above the others and have the ability to be so. What we call a king is something that people want to be led by… and you, Master, should become the king of all guilds. It doesn’t matter if you seem to only keep the twelfth, I believe you should extend your control over the others too. I feel like everything will surely bend to your ideals.”
Never before had I heard words that straightforward… and frustration started to well within me for having thought about it in the past.
I wanted the best outcome without standing in the limelight.
I wanted to live quietly and egoistically like I had been so far, accepting jobs I was interested into and drinking all day.
My guild had finally grown closer to the ideals I embraced.
That’s why there was no reason to extend my influence over the other guilds… or at least, that was what I believed up to that day.
I wanted to fix the ill feelings between humans and demi-humans. That was the cause I wanted to follow although it didn’t suit me at all.
“Right… I don’t need to rule over them… I can just influence them.”
“Eheheh… I’d call it a great step onward. I always believed you could have the capital in your hands, Master. Information are a strong weapon, and no one is better than you at gathering them. No one has better instruments than you to do it. Your influence might reach the farthest place in the world if you only wanted to. The Transfer Magic circles are just proof that this guild is already working on it.”
Having the capital in my hands…? Becoming someone who rules from the shadows, leaving the center of attention to the real King and becoming in turn a secret King…?
That thought made me crack a smile. Wouldn’t people call that… a Demon Lord?
“Grrr… what’s so funny? You think I’m speaking the absurd?”
“No, not at all. I just thought you’ve really been the Demon Lord, Verlaine. Of course, I mean it in a good way.”
“…I might speak like one, but currently I’m just a failed Demon Lord—I moved into the house of a human I rigorously serve every day due to my expectations. Thinking about it, I look like an impulsive girl who’s run away from home.”
She laughed at herself. Phrasing it that way probably made it sound funnier than expected for her.
“Let’s keep doing things our way for now… and let’s act when it’s needed. I just hope the top guild doesn’t have any rotten egg among their members.”
“If that will be the case, you should just extend your hand to grasp all the guilds in this capital from the shadows, Master. It would be better to do it for your just cause.”
Verlaine’s opinion of me never wavered. She was unbelievably strong, and yet she was now my subordinate. Was she actually fine with wasting her life on someone like me? I couldn’t stop that thought from surfacing in my mind.
Her purple irises shone like amethysts the moment we locked eyes with each other, the color of her hair darkening.
She said she liked to talk to me. That was the key to know someone better… and I believed her words nailed the situation.
Why did she want to dispel my doubts?
She mentioned her expectations. If I betrayed them, would she have returned home to the demonic region?
“S-Stop looking at me like that… I’m good at attacking, but defending is hard…”
“I see… that’s why we won back then, huh?”
I knew she meant something else, but I still wanted to crack a joke. She let out a soft chuckle, her eyes still locked with mine.
We couldn’t look away. If one did, our relationship was going to change forever.
In the end… I doubted it would’ve been a turn for worse.
But… was that thought really mine… or was it just the thought of a lone guy?
The sound of the door opening behind us blocked my train of thoughts.
I was so used to being interrupted at that point that I guessed the Goddess of Destiny was just fooling with me.
“Grrr…! L-Lady Mylarka? What is it? Weren’t you sleeping in the living room?”
Right. Mylarka, Yuma and Aileen were spending the night here and they should’ve been sleeping on the sofa in the living room. What was the genius girl doing here, spacing out still half-asleep?
“I need the toilet, where is it…? Gosh, my head hurts… It won’t explode, right…?”
“W-Wait, Mylarka! I’ll heal your headache right away. Sorry, I forgot to sober you up before.”
“No problem, I enjoyed it anyway… You didn’t do anything funny while I was sleeping, did you?”
“BHHH—W-What do you mean?! Oh, right, you’re still half-asleep… I won’t take it seriously.”
“Master, I’ll show Miss Mylarka to the toilet. It would be better for a girl to help another now.”
Verlaine arranged her look quickly, made Mylarka hold onto her and helped her walk to the floor below. The only toilet in the entire building was on the first floor, so she had to use that.
When I looked at my desk, I noticed the red mark of Verlaine’s lips on the cup of tea she had left behind.
What I felt a few minutes before resurfaced within me, and I ended up wondering… what would’ve happened if Mylarka didn’t interrupt us?
It was pretty late when I went to take my bath.
The water was very hot when Mizuha took hers, so now it should’ve been just lukewarm. It was probably better to heat it again.
I entered the bathroom without thinking and I noticed a bit too late that there were bubbles popping on the water surface of the bathtub.
Who the heck was hiding underwater?! Was it some assassin?! No, wait, let’s think about it rationally… it was surely someone who was sleeping here, and the only two persons small enough to fit entirely in the bathtub were Yuma and…
“Hey there~! It’s me~!”
Looking at the humanoid figure who emerged from the bathtub, I thanked any superior entity for making Verlaine and Mylarka go downstairs. I was reminded again of how fleeting the sense of relief was when someone could finally satisfy the eager of bathing.
1 I’m not good with law-related stuff. The original (国王直属の法務庁の審問官たち) actually says “ministers meeting/hearing under the direct supervision of the king”, but I thought it would be closer to the Supreme Court, where they just do the trial under the supervision of the King. I’ll probably keep Supreme Court given the Japanese one, but feel free to suggest something that works better!