232 – The raccoon and fox spider try to outfox each other
「Envoy-dono, with merely that I fail to comprehend the meaning.」
What the!? Wh, why you. You want me of all people to give you a lecture!? Are you trying to kill me!? Only just before teleporting did I think hard on this, now he wants a detailed explanation. Wh, what’ll I do?
No answer huh. When she opened her mouth I thought she’d reveal more, but she’s more guarded than I expected. For her to teleport to me without me being able sense it she certainly has skill, I should think. However, after opening her mouth she rashly lost control of the situation.
Providing that this girl is really an envoy from the Demon King, I shall take control of the situation now. On top of it being dangerous to challenge an unknown Space Magic user, even should I win it is far too disadvantageous to make an enemy out of the Demon King. By any means, I would presently prefer to measure the abilities of the girl before me, but my appraisal stone is in my desk. Is it possible for me to take a seat on my chair in a natural way?
For now, I should try to keep her off-guard for a while I suppose.
「Can you not respond? In that case, I shall compose a letter to the esteemed Demon King. At a later date you may deliver it to the esteemed Demon King. For my response, I am requesting a formal notice of the appointment, please take it with you.」
The heck? With natural movements Argnar sits at his desk, takes out pen and paper and begins to write something. Hmm. He’s requesting a discussion with the Demon King? That’s, inconvenient. As much as possible I don’t want the Demon King to comprehend my secret manoeuvring. Particularly related to this matter. It’ll become a scramble for the prey.
I don’t know what has happened between the Demon King and Potimas, I do know that it probably has extremely intense origins. For matters dealing with him, the Demon King will likely want to become involved. That’s unacceptable. I will kill him. I have decided. So, if I can I want matters involving the elves to go no further than me.
Ugh, I can’t stand it. My thoughts might be unfocused, but I have to say something!
With that reply, my doubts have grown. It appears that this girl does not know that I have met the present Demon King previously. If a suspicious person suddenly appears, there is no way that person can be readily trusted. Whether she is really an envoy for the Demon King or not, in order to ascertain that by pretending not to know the Demon King, the girl has not raised an objection. At that point, I gained doubts about whether she was truly an envoy. If she was the real thing, then she should have heard about me from the Demon King beforehand. Certainly we have not met since her return to the Demon King territory, but even still she should have sensed something from my words. When she did not correct me, I became suspicious that this girl is a fake. Being a fake, she brushed aside my suggestion. It’s as if she said that it’s bad for me and the Demon King to be in contact.
If my prediction is correct, then she is no envoy of the Demon King. In which case, who is she, what is she after?
Become a double-agent. What is the significance of those words? Could it be, that incident has leaked? Nay, I think not. I will proceed carefully. Those involved are all unswerving, being kept behind closed doors to the utmost. It’s hard to conceive of it leaking outside. If it had happened, it would be carelessness by the third party. Even so, considering that crafty lot it seems inconceivable.
What’s to be done? My appraisal stone is at hand. When taking out the writing brush and paper, I took hold of it with natural movements. If I activate it I will be able to read her abilities. But, that also means bearing the risk of her sensing the start of the appraisal. In that case it will change from a battle of wits, to a battle of lives. That’s premature. If I can gain time it is possible that somebody will notice something unusual and break into this room. If she does not wish for that, then it may be better to try to use that to gain some information from her.
「What do you mean by that?」
「I am the Demon King.」
What am I saying!? Ehhh, ahhh, ummm. Why am I talking gibberish? It makes no sense to me either! It makes no sense, but now that I’ve actually said it there’s no going back. I’ll just have to go with the flow!
「Oh-ho. So you’re the Demon King. I see. In that case there is no point in writing a complaint is there. Since the real one is before me after all. By naming yourself an envoy it seems you like to play jokes. Then, please allow me to ask again. In your orders just now, was there some kind of prank included?」
「I meant what I said. You have a link with the elves, so keep it going to probe their internal affairs.」
Sweat is almost flowing down my back. How, does this girl know about that? Where did it leak from? I can’t believe anyone involved is a traitor. I can only think that it’s a blunder by the elves, but I’m still doubtful as to whether that crafty race would do such a thing. However, in truth it has been exposed to this girl. Furthermore, she believes it to be the truth. I can’t afford to be drawn in, so I’ll judge it from her attitude.
What to do? Even if I feign ignorance here the results will be weak. This girl from who knows where, clearly acts as if she has firm evidence in her grasp.
Just who is she really? From the point she styled herself the Demon King the attitude of a true envoy has vanished. But, I still cannot perceive her true character or intention. She has shown her ability, with mastery of Space Magic and holding secret information. It is certain that she is no ordinary person. However, I cannot think of anyone to equate her to. Even going just by those who can use Space Magic, there are not even any likely rumours that I am aware of.
Now she has seized the initiative. This is not the place for humble excuses, it is vital that I shift the point of contention to seize the initiative. It is a touch forceful, but I have a route to attack her with. If in the worst case the balance between us deteriorates, then it can’t be helped.
「You sure make unreasonable demands, fake self-proclaimed Demon King.」
I’m so outed. Well, no big surprise. It’s not like I am the Demon King. It’s not like I meant to even say such a thing. Like blurting out gibberish in a panic would work well. It’s not like I’m evil either.
「I have met the real Demon King. Did you think that you could successfully deceive me now when the Demon King’s existence has yet to come to light? Girl, just who are you?」
Eh? He’s met the Demon King?
『Of course. When I inherited the title from the previous Demon King I occasionally kept in touch. At least I chatted with a veteran called Argnar, and a youngster called Balto who is currently gathering the demons. Well, at the moment when I was about to try to take center stage as the Demon King, I did get struck by an impossible attack from a certain someone so progress became stagnated.』
Ah. When was it again, that the Demon King told me that? I forgot. What’ll I do? No, even if I’ve been outed I really am involved with the Demon King though. Ahh, ohh, ahh. This is why talking with others sucks! Ah hell, now I’ve gotten desperate!
「When did you delude yourself that that was the Demon King? In that case what about the person right in front of your eyes? Just how do you see me? From your point of view, her or me, just who is more worthy of being the Demon King?」
I don’t even get what I’m saying myself, but let’s go with threats. I open my eyes, and as an additional option my clones peep out a bit from another dimension. A fixed smile service is included.
What the!? What is this!? Terrible eyes. A smile like a slanted semi-circle. They suddenly appeared inside the room – eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes-eyes! It’s as if I’m peering into the darkest abyss, and countless shining red eyes are staring back.
Involuntarily, I drop the appraisal stone in my hand. But, I don’t consider picking it up. Even without using such a thing, the difference in abilities is clear. The possibility of winning, cannot be conceived. This is, even beyond the Demon King I met before.
I cannot defy her. If I do I’ll be killed. I understand. I’ve been made to. This person is the true Demon King. For a worm like me to this great one, I can only beg for mercy. If not given, my will and meagre motives will be forcibly lost in the mists of time.
「Yes. I fully understand. From henceforth, I shall worship you as the Demon King, and do as you ask.」
I shall henceforth bend knee. Remaining in obscurity, surrendering before this monster in the form of a dreadful girl.
I should have done this from the start. Threats make life easy.
For the title, it is referring to the phrase “狐と狸の化かし合い” – “the raccoon and fox try to outfox each other” except it has “fox” replaced with “spider”. In Japanese folklore, foxes (kitsune) and raccoons (tanuki) are typically sly characters.
The lines of Ariel that Shiraori remembers here are from chapter 205 of the main story (chapter 278 overall).
For the lovely smile that Shiraori gives Argnar, this image is pretty much spot on: