༺ Creating Variables ༻
“Uh… what do you mean?”
“As I said. Duke Frey Raon Starlight, starting today, you have been appointed as the Chief Executive of the Demon King’s Army—”
It was a statement so absurd that I asked him again without even realizing, and the ‘Second-in-Command’ of the Demon King’s Army replied as a thin smile flickered across the corners of his mouth.
“Wait, wait, wait!”
I, who had been silently listening to his words, hurriedly cut him off.
“Oh, in case you’re worried, I’ve used spatial magic to block the sound of our conversation.”
Because he seemed confident that there was nothing to be concerned about, I had no choice but to nod my head, feeling a myriad of emotions.
“Well then, let’s go. Everyone is waiting for you, Lord Frey.”
“W-Wait a second. Let me go to that carriage first.”
As he grabbed my arm and tried to cast a spell, I hurriedly backed away from him, and started running to the wagon.
“Young Master, what the hell is going on?”
“F-Frey! Are you alright?”
Kania and Irina’s faces were pale as I opened the carriage door.
They seemed to have recalled their terrifying experiences while dealing with him from the previous timeline.
“Guys, I’ll be back in a bit.”
I didn’t want to worry them anymore, so I tried to gloss over it quickly, but Kania hurriedly grabbed my arm and said.
“Tell me what’s going on. Otherwise, I won’t let you go.”
“Uh… M-Me too.”
Then Irina, who was next to me, timidly grabbed my arm as well. I heaved a deep sigh and muttered.
“…I’ve become the Chief Executive Officer of the Demon King’s Army.”
Having said that, I left Kania, who had a blank expression on her face, and Irina, who was also staring at me in shock, in the carriage, then returned to the Demon King’s aide.
“Are they your acquaintances?”
Eventually, as the departing carriage rattled and disappeared into the distance, the aide in front of me tilted his head and asked a question.
“Uh, well sir… you can say that.”
“Lord Frey, you don’t have to speak formally to me. Lord Frey is now the highest ranking officer of the Demon King’s Army.”
My brows furrowed as I spoke with a dumbfounded expression on my face.
“Uh… But that…”
“It’s fine. You’re the Chief Executive by the Demon King themself. If you simply take your position in the Demon King’s Army into account, you already have same rank as me. You are welcome to converse with me informally.”
However, hearing the words coming out of the aide’s mouth, I was unable to continue my train of thought and muttered with a blank expression on my face.
“Sir, I have… the same rank as you?”
“It seems like you’re more comfortable with formal speech than informal. Then, there’s nothing I can do about it. Of course, you can use informal speech if you wish.”
“I understand that, but why do I, a mere servant of the Demon King, have a similar standing as you in the Demon King’s Army? Is there some kind of misunderstanding?”
I sincerely hoped for the possibility that such a ridiculous thing happened due to a massive misunderstanding within the ranks of the Demon King’s Army. However, the aide looked at me and spoke in a composed tone.
“You’re quite humble.”
“But, too much humility is detrimental.”
While saying that, the aide’s expression hardened, as I finally heaved a deep sigh and muttered.
“Well, I’ll think about what happened later… Now I have work to do…”
Soon after, the aide stopped me again, then snapped his fingers, and in the next moment I found myself in a back alley corner.
‘… This is driving me crazy.’
Obviously, I believed that I could control the situation even if any variables or unexpected circumstances did arise, but wasn’t this too much?
To become the Chief Executive of the Demon King’s Army in one day, not to mention the fact that the Hero had the same rank as the Second-in-Command of the Demon King’s Army…
‘Is it a trap…?’
I thought that this might be the Demon King’s trap, who may have noticed that I was the Hero, but no matter how much I thought about it, that idea seemed unlikely.
If she wanted to kill me, she just had to send out orders to her subordinates. Why would she send her closest aide and instruct him to treat me with the utmost respect?
Of course, she could have been trying to kill me cautiously. However, the decisive evidence appeared before my eyes in a system window.
If this was indeed some kind of plot, of course, the Demon King’s closest aide who came himself to pick me up couldn’t be ignorant of it.
From his amiable way of treating me… what the aide had told me was very likely to be true.
If so, why did the Demon King make such a crazy decision?
‘I don’t know what the Demon King is doing, but something strange is definitely going on.’
“We’re here, Lord Frey.”
I was immersed in thought for a long time, but upon hearing the aide’s call, I quickly moved and asked a question.
“By the way… where is this place?”
“This is a room created by my spatial ability. It’s located in the back alley, but you can’t enter inside by ordinary means.”
Hearing those words, I started walking down the alley quietly, my mouth agape as he explained his overpowered ability.
“Is this… a tavern?”
Eventually, we arrived at a shabby tavern. I frowned, wondering if it was some kind of test, but the aide just smiled and said.
“Do you still see this place as a tavern?”
As soon as he finished speaking, a huge underground passage appeared in front of me.
“… It’s an isolated space anyway, so why are you being so cautious?”
“The more thorough the defense, the better. It will be disastrous if the Hero manages to get past the spatial barrier.”
Looking at the underground passage, I asked the aide a question out of curiosity, and he answered with a serious expression.
“Yes. The Hero has appeared.”
When I heard his answer, I became nervous and asked a question without even realizing as the aid replied to me once again with a serious look on his face.
“The battle from 1000 years ago is about to start again. Of course, this time, the outcome will be different.”
“Uh… will it?”
“Yes, the Demon King who appeared again in the world after a millennium… is the strongest.”
“The strongest? It’s difficult to picture their strength just from words.”
When he mentioned the Demon King’s strength, I began to ask questions with a curious expression.
“How strong is the Demon King?”
“Are you talking about the Demon King’s current strength?”
Khan, who thought for a while, mumbled in a low voice.
“They erased my attack with a flick of her finger. That’s how great of a personage they are.”
“The future of the Demon King’s Army is quite bright.”
Upon hearing his words, even though I praised the army’s good fortune, I was spitting out curses on the inside.
The rank of the Second-in-Command in the Demon King’s Army is decided based on strength. In other words, the man next to me right now is literally the second strongest person in the Demon King’s Army.
But to neutralize such a man’s attack with the flick of a finger… I began to wonder what the Demon King had been eating lately to achieve such power.
“Let’s finish our chat for now and go inside. All the Executives are waiting for you, Lord Frey.”
“Yes… of course.”
While I was engrossed in such thoughts, the aide opened the door and urged to go inside.
‘…Should I launch an attack as soon as I enter?’
I fiddled with my sword as I walked through the dark passage, wondering if the situation would be better if I slaughtered all the officers of the Demon King’s army here, but I quickly abandoned that thought.
Members who specialized in combat would also be gathered here.
Even if they were regular executives, it would be impossible for me to kill everyone before the aide and combat specialized executives noticed something unusual about my behavior, triggering the penalty.
As I organized my thoughts like that, I began hearing terrible noises originating from somewhere while walking down the stairs alongside the Second-in-Command.
“What are these?”
“These are top tier monsters. They guard the entrance.”
Saying that, Khan smiled, and began stroking a black gargoyle and a Cerberus in front of us.
“Aren’t they really cute? Try petting them.”
“Ah… I’m fine.”
I stared blankly at those horrific monstrosities that could cause upheaval in the Empire as they were given a belly rub by Khan.
– Lick Lick Lick…
Then the black Cerberus, whose eyes were twinkling, suddenly jumped at me and started licking my face.
While I was absentmindedly stroking his head, Khan watched the scene with interest from the side and spoke in a low voice.
“This is the first time Cerberus hasn’t bitten someone’s face off.”
“Uh… excuse me?”
Upon hearing his remark, I asked, puzzled, as the aide stared at me in silence, saying a few more words before heading down the stairs again.
“I guess he liked you quite a bit.”
Having heard that, I stared at Cerberus, who continued to lick me with a slightly scared look.
“Well, I guess I managed to deceive him.”
I flicked the Cerberus’ head as hard as I could and began conserving as much mana as possible.
Cerberus’ magic eyes specialized in detecting pure mana.
It was unacceptable for a being tasked with guarding the entrance to an evil place to allow pure mana to enter.
Because of that, Cerberus should have attacked me.
However, I had the ❰Stone of Domination ❱ that I was carrying in my pocket since the performance evaluation kidnapping incident.
So manipulating him to like me was a piece of cake.
Perhaps Khan saw Cerberus warmly welcoming me and judged me as a truly evil person.
“Good boy, but stop licking me and stand there.”
Having concluded my scam, I sent Cerberus, who had been licking my face until then, back to the gargoyle, and began following Khan.
“When we open this door, the meeting will begin. Are you ready?”
After a long walk, both of us arrived in front of a door with a fairly complicated magic barrier.
“Oh, wait a minute.”
I knew that there were executives waiting behind the door, so I took a deep breath and began circulating the mana in my body.
I was usually able to gather enough mana to the point of being able to draw out explosive power, but when considering executives in the Demon King’s Army… if they all specialized in combat, the story would be rather different.
I didn’t know if or when these guys would try to stab me in the back, so I had to be extra prepared.
“Alright, I’m ready. Let’s go inside.”
After circulating mana for quite some time, I told the aide that I was ready.
“Please call me ‘Dmir Khan’ while we are inside, Lord Frey.”
Then the aide, who was slowly approaching the door, unlocked the barrier and spoke to me in a low voice.
Of course, I knew his name, but I nodded my head and pretended that I wasn’t aware. The barrier disappeared in an instant and the door began to slowly open.
“Everyone, I hope you welcome him with a big round of applause. This is Frey Raon Starlight, who has been appointed as the Chief Executive of the Demon King’s Army as of today.”
When the door fully opened, Dmir Khan declared politely, and after a while, applause resounded from within.
‘… Even though I’ve lived for so long, I never thought this day would come.’
As I entered the room, familiar faces began to enter my field of vision.
Of course, I was trying to look calm because I should be unaware of their identities, but Dmir Khan started taking me to the head of the table.
“I can sit in the empty spot over there.”
It was too burdensome to sit at the head of the table, but when I pointed to an empty seat at the end, Dmir Khan replied with a frown.
“The Demon King honors the dead by not allowing anyone to sit in the spot of a fallen executive.”
“Originally, that seat belonged to the Succubus Queen.”
A quick flashback crossed my mind as I recalled the scene when I beheaded her with my sword, and then quietly followed Dmir Khan to the head of the table.
“Alright then… Now that everyone’s gathered, let’s start the meeting…”
“Just a moment.”
After a while, I settled down at the head of the table while still feeling a lot of pressure. Dmir Khan then tried to start the meeting, but someone stopped him with an icy voice.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“It’s simple. I can’t accept that kid.”
And when that statement rang out, the conference hall froze.
“Now, are you saying you’re challenging the Demon King’s decision?”
In such an atmosphere, when Dmir Khan inquired with a sharp gaze, the person who was the cause of this dispute stood up and spoke confidently.
Then, the executives gathered in the conference hall began to murmur.
‘…That guy, he’s the one who does all the dirty work for the Demon King’s Army.’
In the midst of such confusion, I began to recall his personal information while looking back on my memories of the previous timeline.
This guy was a hybrid of a demon and an orc. He boasted fearsome destructive power even compared to other combat executives.
Except Ferloche and the Demon King, there are probably not many people who can defeat him with sheer strength alone.
Of course, he was just as stupid as he was strong, so his actual combat value was quite low.
“I endured even when the Demon King refused to reveal their identity. I was patient even when they declared that the Hero has appeared, but chose not to reveal their identity. And I even endured listening to your orders, the aide, instead of the Demon King.”
And right now, that kind of guy was walking towards me, seething with rage. What should I do?
“But, a human… I can’t stand such a weakling ordering me around.”
The guy stood in front of me as he snorted from his massive nostrils and started talking.
“So, I, Lihir, a descendant of the great orc and the one who possesses demon blood, want you to… raise your sword.”
“I will judge by myself whether or not you are the right person for the position.”
I was shocked after hearing that, and then I slowly turned my head to look at Dmir Khan and said,
“Isn’t this… treason?”
Then Dmir Khan grinned and began to whisper quietly in my ear.
“The Demon King’s executives operate on a strict hierarchical system. So, he can challenge a superior who he thinks is weaker than him at any point in time.”
“Well, isn’t it a good opportunity? There were many executives who were dissatisfied with the Demon King’s decision. So… take this opportunity to show your skills and clear up any protests.”
After Dmir Khan had finished saying those words, he clapped his hands, as the space of the conference room distorted and expanded in an instant.
“We’re in a meeting, aren’t we?”
“Can we even have a meeting in such a situation?”
I tried to avoid the battle somehow, but after hearing Dmir Khan’s words, I looked around and saw that the executives were watching my every move with intrigue.
“… Is the Demon King army always like this?”
I wondered if these were really the people who wreaked havoc across the world, so I asked with a puzzled look, but Dmir Khan answered with an expression that indicated that there was nothing out of the ordinary.
“You will get used to it too.”
“No, but this is…”
“Then, let’s go meet the challenger.”
I was dragged helplessly by Dmir Khan as he grabbed my arm. I heaved a sigh, thinking that I should hold back a little and conserve my strength…
“Oh, and if you don’t give it your all, your next opponent will be me.”
“What do you mean?”
Dmir Khan, who had brought me in front of the orc, had a stony expression on his face as he coldly stated that. I flinched upon hearing his statement.
“… Now that you are of equal rank to me, if you hold back, challengers will continue to come forth. If that happens… the meeting may not start for a week.”
My facial expression was distorted in astonishment when I was told that the meeting might not start even after a week.
“Thanks to holding back, I kept getting challenges for a month.”
“I’m speaking from experience.”
After saying that, Dmir Khan patted my shoulder and went back to his seat.
“Are you ready? Weak human?”
Facing this perpetual dilemma, I eventually burst into a hysterical fit of laughter as if I was liberated.
Everything was annoying.
Why the hell did the damn Demon King designate me as the Chief Executive… Did she find out who I was?
Why was the prophecy wrong, why were my memories all over the place, and why did the system keep annoying me…
No matter how meticulously and thoroughly I prepared, everything just kept going wrong. Thanks to that, the stress just kept piling up, driving me insane.
Suddenly, I opened my eyes, as the orc in front of me tilted his head in bewilderment.
Ignoring the orc, I pondered over one particular question that flashed through my mind just as I was about to completely lose it.
“I’m going to ask you one thing.”
“What is it?”
“Is it true that the Demon King has not revealed their identity to anyone?”
As I finished organizing my thoughts, I asked that question to the stupid-looking orc standing in front of me.
‘I’m tired of living under the influence of variables.’
“Yes, I’ve never seen the Demon King before.”
“Thank you for your answer.”
I was tired of living under the influence of uncontrollable variables and swayed by the system while taking irreversible losses.
“Well then, let’s get started.”
“Hey, why are you being so arrogant? If you recognize your mistake and back down, I’ll….”
“Shut the hell up and fight.”
As I said that to the orc in front of me, I mustered up the power from within my body.
“Uh, hold on…”
“What are you doing… hurry up and come at me.”
I activated the stellar mana hidden within my body and raised the output of the ❰Hero’s Power❱ to the maximum.
Each of my muscles became tense, and as I exhaled, they spread throughout my body.
“Since you’re just standing still, I’ll come at you.”
I began approaching the Orc, who shuddered in fear, as I radiated a chilling aura across the room that had turned into an arena.
“I surrender! I surrender!”
Then, the guy in front of me hurriedly knelt down on his knees and began to beg.
After all, there was no way a servant at the lowest end of the combat spectrum could be a match for me.
Likely, even before the fight, he must have already figured out that he was going to lose.
“Are there any other challengers?”
I looked down at the orc who had lost the will to fight and asked the executives who were staring blankly at the scene.
Of course, no one responded.
The combat executives must have already pictured the outcome of the battle in their minds when I mustered up all my powers.
Infinitely strong against the weak, infinitely weak against the strong.
That was the way of the Demon King’s Army. They always showed that parasitic survival mindset.
“Well done, Lord Frey.”
When the situation was settled, Dmir Khan started speaking with a satisfied smile on his face.
“I don’t think anyone will question Lord Frey’s qualifications now, right?”
As the executives responded with a heavy silence, Dmir Khan began speaking gently to me, who was quietly standing in the arena.
“It seems that you have already adapted well to the Demon King’s Army, Lord Frey. Well, now that we have to start the meeting soon, let’s return to our seats…”
“I can still exercise my rights, can’t I?”
I aimed at him with my sword and began to speak.
“I challenge you, Dmir Khan.”
And immediately after my speech ended, an icy breeze began to blow in the conference hall.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a bit inconvenient to have two people with the same rank of Second-in-Command in the Demon King’s Army, isn’t it…?”
When I calmly replied to Dmir Khan, who had asked curiously, he quietly got up from his seat.
“Oh dear, it seems you’ve adapted too well.”
A thin smile flashed across the corners of my lips as I looked at him, and I muttered the thought that had crossed my mind earlier.
“… There is no reason why I can’t try.”