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Chapter 29 – The Chief of Staff’s Anxieties (Second Half)
“T-Tilea-sama. Had you not turned in for the day…?”
“Mm mm. I’m just not really in the mood to sleep right now.”
Tilea-sama was feeling despondent!?
It had to be related to that top secret mission.
My lady was suffering and yet I was helpless at a time like this.
How could anybody call me the strategist of our Evil God Army!?
“Tilea-sama, if there is any way in which I may assist then you need only say the word. I may be lacking, but please allow me to ease your burdens.”
“Haa. It’s really nothing.”
She was clearly keeping something from me.
I was a failure of a strategist who lacked his master’s trust.
“Is my lowly self not worthy of being relied upon?”
“I beg your forgiveness for my rudeness, but I must ask,” I said as I drew near her, “Am I of no use to you, Tilea-sama?”
I had to know.
I knew that I was overstepping my bounds, but I could not help myself.
Had my master, the subject of my adoration, turned her back on me…?
It felt as though my heart was being crushed by the unease.
I existed for her sake alone.
If she no longer had a use for me, then there was nothing left I could do.
Any lack of trust was simply a reflection of my own failings.
I would immediately end myself.
“I’m sorry, Dryas-kun. You’re right; I am worried about something. But I can’t talk about it. If I told you, it’d only be troubling you.”
“Wha-!? Tilea-sama, how could you ever say such a thing? It would be one thing if you were keeping quiet because you found me lacking, but if the reason is concern for me then please stop this.”
“But even if you say that…”
What a disaster… To think that she was being considerate of me…
Camilla-sama had brought me into this world as a perfect and faultless strategist.
If I ever made even one mistake, I would lose my raison d’être.
If it ever happened, I would surely end myself.
So that was why Tilea-sama was reluctant to give me orders.
In order to stop me from dying if I ever lost my reason to live…
Tilea-sama was always kind to her subordinates. Of course, this was exactly the kind of thing she would do.
But if that was true, then it was proof that she lacked faith in my abilities.
I still wasn’t working hard enough.
I needed more power. I needed to do things even better so that I could put her at ease.
“Tilea-sama. For your sake, I dedicate my entirety to the Evil God Army. You need not be considerate. Please just be unreserved with me,” I pleaded.
“…You’re right,” she eventually said. “I already knew that you cared about your relationships with everyone in the Evil God Army. I was being too distant.”
“You are blameless, Tilea-sama. The fault lies with me for being unreliable and inexperienced.”
“No. With something this important, the first thing I should have done was consult somebody as smart as you, Dryas-kun. I made the wrong call. And that could have still cost me…”
“I am ashamed and humbled by your words, Tilea-sama! Please allow the unworthy Dryas to resolve your troubles,” I said faithfully.
With that, Tilea-sama began to tell me about the mission.
“The Fiend Liquidation Mission.”
I knew what was going on now.
The mission was not difficult in and of itself.
It was actually rather simple, all things considered.
But the point of trouble was Tilea-sama’s concern over Edim’s life.
What boundless compassion…
Even a half-demon like Edim was a subordinate worthy of concern in her eyes…
“I understand now, Tilea-sama,” I said. “The Fiend may certainly have the qualifications to call himself ‘Strongest’ amongst the humans. However, a human is still a human, Milady. Not match for a demon. Even Edim could run roughshod over somebody of his level.”
“Really? I know that Edim’s a vampire, but she used to be a human, you know. What if she doesn’t have enough experience? What if he has a vicious trap waiting for her…?”
“Demons are not so frail, Tilea-sama. Even half-demons like Edim are no exception. The little tricks of those humans amount to very little in the face of true power. Besides, having damned Ortissio as her support should be more than enough to account for any inexperience on her part.”
“Yeah. But I know this is mean of me after asking for it, but do you think Or will be able to support her properly? He’s a little air-headed.”
“Your worries are most justified. After all, that bastard is imprudent, foolish, and foolhardy at the best of times.”
“So you thought so too.”
“Despite all that, he is still one of the executives of our Evil God Army. He is more than capable of settling this matter.”
“All will be as you wish. Did you have any other concerns, Milady?”
Tilea-sama began to ask for advice on all the other problems she was having.
I analysed our present forces, as well as the climate, and gave her thorough answers for each.
“Mmn, mmn. As expected of you, Dryas-kun. I really feel like everything’s going to be okay now.”
“Please rest assured that I, Dryas, will continue striving to ease your burdens.”
Tilea-sama nodded, looking a lot more cheerful than before.
Her burdens had definitely been lightened.
It was proof that she had faith in me.
I felt my eyes become moist with unbidden tears.
Perhaps I had finally lived up to the name of her Zifang…
Tilea-sama turned to me with her regular pose, now that she had settled back into her own pace.
“Well then, Dryas, my Zifang. Shall I consider the Fiend Liquidation Mission as a guaranteed success, then?”
“Most certainly. I can guarantee that by the time the sun rises in the east, the Fiend will be no more.”
She nodded in satisfaction at my words, before returning to her personal quarters.
Huhu, my words had calmed her down.
I, Dryas, had become a factor in setting her heart at ease.
I had almost gone mad from jealousy because of Ortidiot, but things had worked out in a surprisingly fortunate fashion.
This Fiend Liquidation Mission would serve as an excellent opportunity for me to demonstrate my prowess.
A few hours later, I heard the sound of steps descending into the Underground Empire.
It was a little early, but I supposed that things were settled then.
I decided to give him a few word of thanks.
He was annoying, but this time he merited them.
I stepped out of the General Staff HQ to find Ortissio heading my way.
“Ortissio, well d――”
“U-, Ummm~ Chief of General Staff, the truth is…”
This was not the haughty look of triumph that I had expected…
Instead, he looked rather pathetic.
And that tone of forboding horror in his voice…
D-, Don’t tell me, this idiot…
“Ortissio, what happened? Report the results of the Fiend Liquidation Mission at once!”
“Oh? You’re aware of the parameters of the mission, Chief?”
“I am. Tilea-sama informed me earlier. Tilea-sama was worried sick about you lot, which is more than you could ever deserve. That’s why I told her that everything would be all right. Now stop wasting time and report! The Fiend is dead, correct!?”
“Ortissio, you had better not tell me that you let him escape.”
“T-That would be unthinkable. As if I could fail to deal with the likes of a human. The one who let him go was Edim――”
Before I knew it, I had picked him up by the collar and smashed him to the ground.
While he writhed in pain, I stomped on his face.
“Ortissio… You were supposed to support her! Accounting for accidents was your job! Are you telling me that you left such an important task all to that half-demon!?”
“B-But, the one who assigned the roles was Tilea-sama――”
“You…! Of all things, you dare to blame Tilea-sama for your mistakes!?”
Infuriated by his insolence, I pressed down harder on his face.
“Guuuaah! T-That’s not what I meant. Haah, haah, that’s――”
“You listen very carefully, Ortissio. If this mission ends in failure, I will be forced into suicide!”
“Because if you lot fail, then that means I will have lied to my master.”
“Plenty of strategist make mista――Guaah!”
I cut off his thoughtless words by crushing him even more fiercely.
“Ortissio. Unlike you, who happily commits blunder after blunder, I must be the perfect strategist in all respects. This was what Camilla-sama created me for. Even a single mistake would be unforgivable.”
“Hiiie! I-I understand. I will bring you the Fiend’s head without fail.”
“Can I be sure of that? I won’t allow you to tell me that he’s escaped the Capital or the like,” I said in a low voice.
“T-That is not a concern,” he stammered. “Edim’s kin have been guarding the gates since the beginning, and she has already confirmed with them that nobody has left. This is proof that the Fiend is still within the city walls.”
“In other words, Edim was the one who successfully stopped him from escaping. What were you doing then?”
“T-That can’t be… I was the one who set a large scale encirclement. It was thanks to me that we even have a vague idea of where he is. Why is Edim the one who――”
“Enough talk. I have no time for your excuses. You will take the Fiend’s head before daybreak. Else you will be charged with grand treason and punished accordingly!”
“A-As you will. But, Bernandes could――”
“Oh? You even want our intelligence units to assist you? I reported to Tilea-sama that two people would be enough. If you are trying to turn me into a liar, then――”
“N-No no no, absolutely unthinkable. I can do it. Edim and I will take his head.”
“Then do so!” I bellowed, “And the next time I hear from you had better be news of his death. Do not report to me until you have his head!”
Looking unsightly, Ortissio fled to the surface.
…What a disaster.
I was clearly still lacking as a strategist.
Had I considered Ortidiot’s character, it would have been clear to me that this situation was within the realm of possibility.
I was still much too inexperienced…
For now, I had lit a fire under Ortissio’s buttocks.
If he still failed to produce results, then I would execute him at once.
I would charge him with the highest of high treasons, and then kill him myself!
I had to start considering the worst case scenario for myself as well…
Tilea-sama had once told me about a belly-cutting ceremony performed by warriors.
In the land of ‘Jyapan’, warriors who had disgraced themselves would perform this ritual as a way of taking responsibility.
I decided that I should do it too.
I changed into the white clothing that was standard for the ceremony.
If Ortissio had not brought back the head of the Fiend by sunrise, I would slit my own belly to atone.
Death did not scare me.
However, I had brought shame to the words ‘my Zifang’.
She would undoubtedly feel dejected at this failure.
That was my only regret.
I held the ritual dagger in my hand, and placed it at my belly.
The only lingering desire I had left was…
If Ortissio failed in his mission, then I had to finish the job in his stead.
The Fiend would die by my hands.
As would the useless subordinate who was thwarted by a mere human.
I called for Bernandes again.
“I have arrived, Dryas-sama.”
“Bernandes. I have an urgent mission for you.”
“First, upon my death, you are to carry out the orders on this missive.”
“Eh!? Sir, what do you mean by――”
“No need to worry,” I cut him off. “If I am no longer in this world tomorrow, you simply need to carry out these orders.”
“B-By your will.”
That paper contained orders for the General Staff HQ, the appointment of my successor, as well as the execution orders for Ortissio.
“I also order you to prepare the Bazooka Call(Magic Bullet Artillery) for activation.”
“Wha-!? A-Are you serious, Dryas-sama? You truly intend to level the Royal Capital!?”
“Of course. I order you as the Chief of General Staff of the Evil God Army. You will fire it at dawn, should you not hear from me again.”
“A-, As you command.”
“I won’t let a single ant escape.”