Chapter 4: The battle was straightforward while the military expenditure was a crematory.
From the appearance of peace, security, harmony, and happiness alone, no one could tell that Subabienne City was preparing for war.
As the early morning dawn was once again cast toward the Demon King City above the Floating Flower Abyss, the demons began to move about. A demon with broad bat wings flew low over the streets of Subabienne City, delivering the daily orders of milk to each household and door with precision. When he delivered to a particular door, the man of the house had got up already and was standing by the window, smoking with his horns bent back.
“Good morning, Uncle Harwin,” greeted the demon delivering milk amicably. Then, he stealthily approached and asked in a low voice:
“Have you heard the news of the battle? I heard that this battle…”
The man of the house flicked the cigarette ash with a face like fine sunny weather. But, the somewhat backbent horn revealed his pride.
“His Majesty Ansel dispatched 400,000 soldiers,” he said with certainty as if he had long learned of the inside information. Of course, it was not any secret. It just wasn’t reported by the media for the time being. The man of the house heard the movement of windows opening coming from all sides. Obviously, in the warlike Demon Realm, his good neighbors could not resist the temptation of war-related news and were eavesdropping. As a result, he became even more proud of himself.
“As for why I know…” he dragged on in his tone, “Wasn’t my son unwilling to inherit family property before and ran off to His Majesty’s army? This time, he is going to serve the battle as a small captain. Ai, my child has grown. I’ll let him go to achieve his goals.”
What a humblebragging edition of the Demon Realm!
The face of the demon delivering milk was full of envy.
“Being able to join His Majesty’s army, maybe there’s a chance to meet His Majesty. What a great honor that would be!”
His words spoke for the other demons’ thoughts, and the eavesdropping neighbors sighed in envy. The man of the house immediately felt the horns on his head were filled with brilliance. He was all smiles as he lit another cigarette.
“It probably won’t get to that, probably won’t. After all, it’s His Majesty the Demon King.”
* * * *
The ‘probably won’t get to that’ His Majesty the Demon King was pulling his own hair.
Because of the military expenditure issue, this movement had already been continuing for several days. But no matter what, the pulled hair couldn’t be turned into military expenditure. Pulling his hair was useless.
The battle was straightforward while the military expenditure was a crematory.
The immortal bird Finni stood on his wutong wood shelf and was somewhat unable to stand it as he looked at Ansel being this anxious.
“Your Majesty, must we go into battle?” He tilted his feather-crested head, “The Seventh Abyss is not Your Majesty’s territory. Even if something happens, it will not affect Your Majesty. If you’re just concerned about the honor of the joint battle, then wouldn’t it be fine to just lessen the amount of people?”
Ansel, who was squeezing the finance minister to try to get himself to think of another solution, stopped his hand after hearing that. In that instant, his train of thought seemed to go back to when he was still an angel.
“It’s not like that, Finni.”
The finance minister was put down, and the soft jelly-shaped pink body stood up softly, looking very elastic.
“The troops aren’t being sent out of honor. Rather, the matter of the Seventh Abyss must be resolved. Otherwise, it will involve the entire Demon Realm.”
Ansel had seen the kind of things that now appeared in the Seventh Abyss before. When he was an angel, he stood in front of the tide of those things with a bow in his hand, his pupils reflecting the sunset. It was an unmatched disaster. He unexpectedly almost couldn’t return with his strength. After he luckily escaped, he delivered the documents to the higher authorities with all his might, recounting the horror of those things to the angels around, but—
No one listened to him.
The funny thing was, on the contrary, he had authority in the Demon Realm that he didn’t have before. As soon as the matter of the Seventh Abyss appeared, Ansel immediately recalled what he had seen in the past. He wasn’t sure if anyone would listen to him this time.
The Southern Region’s Demon King Levi had given up and let things go downhill all year round. He phoned Saros, who always opposed his policies, with no alternative. Ansel thought that ok, even if, even if this time, there was still no one listening to him, he would go to counter those things alone.
[… Don’t rush, take your time speaking.]
That’s what led to the current joint battle.
“The situation cannot be optimistic from the looks of the battle reports coming from the frontlines.” Ansel retrieved his train of thought and said, “We still don’t know exactly what those things are right now, but their social class is clearly strict, and they have enough intelligence. The Third Region’s Demon King has already dispatched advanced soldiers. Look, after the news of the advance soldiers was sent back, weren’t there no more objections to sending troops?”
Even Levi, the Demon King of the Southern Region, who always liked to give up and let things go downhill, shut up and started raising money for military expenditure. The Demon Kings had clearly all realized the severity of the situation.
Finni understood. Despite that, he was very sorry for His Majesty’s hair.
“Blurr, can’t you squeeze a little more money out?” he asked the lump of pink jelly-shaped object, “As the finance minister, now is the time for you to help with His Majesty’s worries and difficulties!”
After the jelly-shaped Blurr heard that, his facial features made up of three black holes floating in his body showed a very reconstructed expression of ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch.
“Just sell me off sob sob sob sob sob! All the places are using money! All are! My money sob sob sob sob sob!”
His whole slime body looked like it was on death’s door.
“It’s not time yet for this year’s taxes to be paid, and the funds regained from the infrastructure investments are also limited. If His Majesty’s new trade policy passes, we’ll get leeway to take a breather from the first order’s down payment…”
Ansel got angry when he thought of this.
“Saros rejected our proposal.”
Blurr shouted at once.
“How mean! He must know that Subabienne City is unable to make ends meet right now!”
The avaricious Blurr couldn’t comprehend that there were unexpectedly people who didn’t get along with money. His jelly-shaped body was a temporary entrance to the state treasury of Subabienne City. Blurr lowered his eyes and looked inwardly at the pitiful little amount of remaining gold coins in the state treasury for emergencies. Very quickly, sadness came from within.
Too poor! So impoverished!
But even if it was like this, Blurr still bypassed the entrance to the state treasury in his body and fished from another place: his own private hoard. Ansel only saw a chunk of soft translucent tentacle extending out, the tentacle holding a gold coin.
“Here you go, this is from my private treasury.” Blurr choked with sobs, aggrieved, “There is already no more, giving you the last gold coin. The rest… The rest… Blurr will carefully think of a way…”
The Demon Realm’s rising cities were burning money everywhere, and the position of finance minister was very difficult to do. If it weren’t for the fact that the person sitting in this position for three hundred years was Blurr, who raked in money as a hobby and guarded his wealth as if it were his life, the situation would only be even messier. At least every time Ansel personally was tight on money, Blurr always would spit out some of the accumulated gold coins for him.
And this time, clearly, there was truly no more.
Ansel looked down at the shiny gold coin. He raised his hand and rubbed Blurr’s head.
Sure enough, the jelly-shaped body of the finance minister rippled up and down under the Demon King’s hand when it was rubbed.
“No need. No need to use your private treasury. You’ve already given too many times for me, for Subabienne City.” Ansel rubbed the lump of flexible jelly just like every other time during the three hundred years.
“I’ll think of a way. Go to work.”
He put the gold coin on the top of the slime’s head, and it was immediately swallowed into the jelly body with a “gulp.” Blurr was only half a person tall, and he looked up at the Demon King, who was seemingly beginning to re-read and evaluate the documents.
“But Your Majesty…”
“It’s okay. I’ll think of a way.”
Blurr’s tears fell down. His Majesty. His Majesty was so nice, but so poor! He heard that the Demon King Saros was so extravagant that he could use gold coins to pave a road. One day, Blurr would definitely run to the Western Region and strip clean the land across from them!
After sending off his flexible finance minister, Ansel still had to face reality. He stared at the financial report forms with a gloomy expression. He could be certain that without easy money raining from the sky, he couldn’t overcome the military expenditure threshold.
But it’s not that he couldn’t find and borrow money from Saros, who had accumulated several generations of extreme prosperity, but…
Ansel closed the report forms expressionlessly.
He would not borrow money with that guy unless he was desperate. So humiliating!
There seemed to be a burst of strange magic fluctuation outside the door, Ansel raised his head keenly. The Demon King’s office was soundproof, but he could detect the slightest flow of magic. Sure enough, not even a few seconds later, the office door was gently knocked, and the head maid said in a soft voice.
“Your Majesty, Lord Andre has returned.”
If he wasn’t worried about a Demon King’s aloofness, Ansel was afraid that he would have stood up straight away.
Prime minister! The prime minister he had dispatched for inspection!
For this trip, he had given Andre an important task, which was pertaining to this military expenditure. Now Andre returned a few days early, so it was clear that the purpose had been achieved.
A demon with a tall and straight bearing was brought into the door. He had dark blue slightly curly half-length hair with bluish-green peacock feathers mixed in and gold-rimmed glasses that did not damage the feeling of sharpness on his body of an abyss creature. The back-bent pair of demon horns displayed his arrogance. But this arrogance would melt completely in front of Ansel. He slightly half-rose from his chair1 towards Ansel with perfect etiquette.
“Your Majesty, I have returned from taking bribes.”
The prime minister was all smiles and could be said to be very open. Ansel looked at him with his chin in one hand, originally wanting to be serious and scare this old subject who dared to joke with him. He couldn’t help it and smiled anyway.
“How much did you collect?”
“Enough for the current military expenditure and a little surplus.” Andre spread both hands, and his tone was slightly hyperbolic, “Your Majesty, you do not know how enthusiastic every one of those Demon Lords are, shoving money to me with all their might like as if I took these funds, there will be an uprising in the next moment and your rule will be overthrown… After all, it’s rumored on the outside that Your Majesty and I, a ruler and his minister, do not get along.”
Ansel gave a smile that wasn’t quite like a smile.
“So will you?”
The big demon deeply half-raised out of his chair toward Ansel, peacock feathers slipping off his shoulders. His voice wasn’t calm and arrogant as it was in front of outsiders. It was instead full of emotion, rarely seen, an emotion that bordered on devotion.
“Never, Your Supreme Majesty.”
After he finished speaking, he raised his eyes slightly again.
“Pity that such a method can’t be used a few more times.”
Ansel also knew that. After all, the big Demon Lords weren’t stupid.
“Until then, either I will uproot the Lords or open up new avenues of wealth,” Ansel calmly said, “Subabienne City still has a long time to go. We can take our time doing what we should do.”
Andre lowered his eyes. He was looking at the dazzling black gold thin chain on the Demon King’s wrist. The black gold was extracted from the Inferno, the darkest place in the Demon Realm. A light-engulfing black metal was born there. Legend had it that Demon King Ansel came out of the Inferno to Subabienne City above the Sea of Flowers.
The Demon Lord sighed.
“Yes, Your Majesty. We still have a long time to achieve your great ambition with us.”
Black metal that engulfed light. Engulfing light… He feared that this was exactly what His Majesty was hinting at.
He dared to be certain that His Majesty’s ambition wasn’t limited to the Demon Realm alone and was instead set to a higher place.
But Ansel slowly sent out a question mark. He was a little confused. Great ambition? Did it mean building the Subabienne City?
“Before that day comes, we will make thorough preparations until we attack the Highest Heaven. When that time comes…” Andre looked as if he could be conceiving that scene, and his expression became slightly fanatical.
“When that time comes, the Highest Heaven’s multicolored sunrise will only be a decoration on your demon horns and royal crown. The demons will submit to your rule, and the angels will kowtow to you. Ah, that scene…”
He narrowed his eyes, reveling.
And Ansel, who was in front of him, was already submerged in question marks.
The Highest Heaven was his home state!
Why would he want to attack his home state?!
* * * *
The author has something to say:
Ansel: I’m not! I didn’t! Don’t spout nonsense! (Covers mouth in excitement)
- A polite gesture ⤴
look what a beautiful Ansel: (from Weibo)