To the best of my knowledge, there is more than one demon king in existence.
I am not aware of all the details as I was bedridden and rather uninformed of worldly affairs in my past life, but they are known to be terrifying enemies of mankind. They are probably higher on the scale of danger than necromancers.
There are a couple of reasons as to why. A demon king’s sphere of influence is much wider than a necromancer’s by definition. The fact that demon kings do not have an archenemy as necromancers do in the form of death knights also plays a role.
There are even demon kings who are said to have decimated human kingdoms.
I had long thought of the demon king’s army to be a terrifying existence. I thought they would be miles stronger than the beasts I fought in the woods or the vampire hunters that came after me. However, crossing paths with Selzard made it apparent that I may have been mistaken in my conviction.
I changed out of the torn clothes, wiped off the blood and once again restarted my day anew.
Naturally, I am on guard now so no one gets the jump on me. I was just a little careless earlier, that is all.
Nevertheless, maybe everyone around had been watching me clash with Selzard, for they simply observed me from afar and no one tried to attack. Even my guide Monica walked some distance away from me.
“Were you perhaps good friends with Selzard?”
All I did was pay back for what he dished out. I would like for them to consider me generous for not having reciprocated in kind by gouging out his heart.
Monica hesitated a little before her small lips opened nervously.
“… No. But Selzard was of the same rank as me. And a soldier who is well-respected among his subordinates.”
“Is he strong?”
“… Oliver and needless to say, Lord Rainel are much more superior in terms of pure combat abilities, but Selzard still holds… a high rank in the army.”
“… Well, it was partly a surprise attack, so…”
And I had called him weak. I felt a little bad, so I had to say something by way of excuse.
Maybe he was an expert at martial arts. And I might have crushed him before he had a chance to show any moves, either way, he was not that strong in comparison to a vampire.
All the enemies I have faced so far were on guard against me. The third class knights like Neville wielded weapons made of holy silver and need I mention the Keeper. I cannot make any excuses regarding my loss to Albertus as she was simply stronger. Looks like affinity is really important for a vampire.
Of course, the fact that I am a lot stronger now than back when I fought Albertus probably plays into this. I received Senri’s blood regularly during our travels and my soul is still falling deeper into the abyss according to the Lord.
Monica linked her hands on her bosom and uttered.
“Your fighting prowess was beyond expectations, and I, Monica, bow down to you. I had heard that the night kings are not all equally strong, but to think you barely broke a sweat as you crushed Selzard without even utilizing any special skills, you must be a helluva powerful King, Lord End…”
Absurd flattery. Her tone may appear bright but true dread dwelt in her eyes.
Nevertheless, that bit of information was significant. The special skills Monica mentioned must be the abilities unique to a vampire.
As I am still a lesser vampire, I do not possess most of those abilities. However, Monica does not seem to be aware of that.
Also, my physical abilities… could possibly be better than an average vampire’s.
I can guess why. It is probably because of Senri’s blood. Which is why it makes it all the more baffling as to why I am still yet to evolve into a real vampire despite accumulating so much power.
Either way, brooding over the matter is not going to get me anywhere. I shall just check with the vestige of the vestige of the vestige of the vestige of Lord’s soul should it pop up next time.
“Everything is merit based in this army. You might easily be able to reach the top, Lord End.”
Monica uttered something preposterous despite the fact that we were smack dab in the middle of Rainel’s base. Is she trying to test me?
If Selzard was a valuable asset to the demon king’s army, I suppose she is trying to ascertain whether I am an enemy or ally.
“I’m not interested. I have other things to do, and I plan to leave here in due time.”
“That’s… a shame.”
Monica’s head hung low.
What am I to do if Senri decides to set off to god knows where, leaving me behind? I am awfully curious about Monica’s blood, but she could still never replace Senri.
Senri is aware of how long I can withstand my thirst. At most… the grace period would be ten days.
It should be possible to locate Senri if I track her scent by taking on the dog form. That is, only if she had not taken off by herself… she would not leave me behind, would she?
I peeked at the voluptuous Monica.
You are mistaken, Senri. I am not cheating on you.
I am just interested in her blood as a vampire. I am totally not thinking she would be fine even if I were to be rough while feeding on her because she is a demon. Trust me.
As I was caught in a hell of my own making, I and Monica entered the treasury.
The treasury of Rainel’s army was not as resplendent as I had imagined.
It was not even fancy, but just a simple stone walled warehouse.
From what I gather, it seems to be used like a warehouse too. It was no more than a place where all the loot was gathered.
I cannot imagine monsters coveting jewelry, so I was not completely overtaken by surprise at what I was presented with.
There was a hint of the smell of smoke in the chilly air.
My line of sight was instinctively drawn towards a particular door. Ever since I could transform into a dog, my sense of smell seems to have grown a lot sharper.
The other side of the steel door reeked. There were several scents mixed together, but one of them was human.
However, Monica said nothing about it and guided me deeper into the warehouse.
The scent of blood, flesh, death and delirium was drawing near. Monica stopped in front of a remarkable door, hesitated for a moment before opening it.
“This is the arena I mentioned before. This place decides where the spoils of war should go.”
I was shown a huge room. No, I suppose calling it a courtyard would be more appropriate.
There was no ceiling and looking up one could see all the stars in the sky. There was nothing like a stage and the ground was bare with blood stains clinging on to it here and there.
At this very moment, two monsters were duking it out. They looked humanoid in appearance, except they were twice as big. Their skin was as dark as iron, and they had two horns growing out of their head.
I wonder if they are demi-humans referred to as ogres. They are monsters classified as demi-humans just like lizardmen.
The two of the ogres were going all out in a fist fight.
They had no kind of protection or armor on. The muffled sound that escaped when their fists connected with the other’s body was only drowned out by their roars.
I heard blood spatter and bones break. The blood was black. However, none looked like they were willing to stop.
They look rather evenly matched and other similar looking ogres roared their encouragement for both the warriors.
Monica whispered more details.
“The item that’s up for grabs right now is the claymore the enemy chief wielded when we attacked Romberg. Strong weapons could help raise one’s ranks, so everyone wishes to get their hands on them.”
The weapon does not interest me in the least. If I had to pick, I am more interested in the ogres fighting.
Ogres are known for their formidable strength. They have a stronger physique than humans, with skin as hard as steel and every single blow from those fists are deadly. Also, they have the custom of devouring the warrior they defeat in battle. Experienced soldiers would know better than to take ogres head-on.
This match did not seem a fully fledged one as both of them were not using any weapons, even so, every punch had incredible blood lust behind it.
My expression warped like a demon’s as I observed the survival of the fittest that was the motto of Rainel’s army.
“Killing is prohibited. As everything in the army belongs to Lord Rainel.”
“What if you accidentally end up killing your opponent?”
“Killing is prohibited.”
Monica stressed the point once again. However, punches like that could easily kill humans. And in actuality, the arena reeked of death.
The winner was decided as we looked on. A kick from the somewhat larger ogre on the right, connected with the abdomen of the ogre on the left that swung its fists wide, despite appearing unsteady on its feet. Not even a monster known for its herculean strength and endurance could withstand such an attack from its own kind. The ogre on the left roared wildly, retching and soiling itself, tumbling to the floor.
It still seemed to be hanging onto life, its body was twitching but there were no signs of it getting back up.
The ogre that won cried out in triumph and its allies cheering on from the sidelines all joined in. Only their appearance seemed similar to humans.
I shielded my ears from their roars, when Monica violently gestured to her abdomen, and spoke hesitatingly.
“So… Lord End. How do I put this… live humans are very popular trophies.”
I see. The guests are not given any special treatment.
Then what was with Oliver stating that he would prepare hundreds of humans for me?
“… I’m fine with your blood though.”
“?!… Please have mercy.”
She seems to be really against the idea. To think she would be so afraid despite being a demon and that scantily dressed; she could learn a thing or two from Senri, who though unwilling lets me feed and allows me to touch her here and there.
“I’m not allowed to kill, right?”
“Yes. Absolutely not.”
Monica’s expression grew stiff as she declared.
Well I would have no part of this if killing was allowed, but if that is not the case, I would not mind testing my strength.
Even after observing the duel, I was unable to discern the disparity in our strengths.
I guess the only choice is to jump into the ring myself. Exchanging blows with ogres should make it clear where my physical abilities stand. Even if I were to lose, pain is nothing new to me.
Know thy self, know thy enemy. This is a good opportunity.
I am not really hankering for humans, but I am probably a better option for them than being prisoners of Rainel. I only need their blood and have no use for their lives.
I took off my shirt as it would be a shame if it got destroyed again, stretched my arms wide, and walked to the center of the arena.
Monica seemed to call out to me, but I ignored her. Even if I am only just testing my strength, it is obviously smart to choose an injured opponent to fight first.
The ogre that was the victor of the duel looked surprised to see me appear out of nowhere.
The injured, towering giant of an ogre was intimidating as hell. With its huge body, thick limbs and hard muscles, it looked nothing like me, a human.
However, what can I say, Albertus was just so overwhelming that this ogre did not seem like a threat at all. Albertus and Epée have really made my sense of danger go numb.
I cannot discern either of our strengths, but thinking back to what happened with Selzard, I had better be on guard.
Eyes like glass beads were as red as mine and despite having just been in a battle, the ogre looked raring to go.
“Ack… what the heck are you…”
“Show me what you got, champion.”
Something smoldered deep in the recesses of my mind. Maybe it was the battle instincts of the vampire that made them brutal.
And so, the ogre roared and without warning, swung down its fists at me.