“The Dark Lady is attacking!!”
News from Quanneuf, the neighboring country, arrived through the magitech telecommunication system. The governor of Quanthuit jumped to his feet, eyes wide, his glass of rum — a luxury, now that the world’s commerce was grinding to a halt — clattering on the floor.
“Impossible… why?! What grudge does she have for this region?!”
Just the other day, the five countries that were their friends and neighbors had collapsed, one after another. It hadn’t been even a week.
It had been a wake-up call for the whole world. Large countries worldwide had held a meeting, and they had declared the rabbit beastman behind it all to be the Dark Lady.
The last time an official Dark Lord Declaration happened was centuries ago, when half of today’s countries hadn’t even existed. At the time, the demihuman races, including the Elves and the Dwarves, had come together to defeat what had been considered a Calamitous threat, the Vile Dragon. But in most of the human countries, the story went that the credit belonged solely to the humans.
Back then, there had been two Heroes. They had left the Central Continent to start their own countries in the Western Continent and the Eastern Continent, bringing the whole world into the grasp of humans.
And today, there were three Heroes.
The vast majority of humans believed they would win against any Dark Lord or Lady, as long as they had Heroes. They might be fearful, but they held not a hint of pessimism.
The human countries had begun preparations for war against the Dark Lady. Among the countries of the small continental group Shedy attacked, only Quanneuf and Quanthuit had been spared, by virtue of holing up inside their borders. They were aggressively hiring adventurers to add to their soldiers and militia as part of their defensive measures.
But while large countries might have the ability to keep up their guard for long periods of time, the small countries certainly did not. Forming the militia meant lost production, and hiring high-rank adventurers costed several times the pay of a normal soldier.
So the only thing the small countries could do was to rely on the Dark Lady Prediction report that the Temples had sent to every single country’s ministry of foreign affairs. According to the report, the next Dark Lady attack was most likely to happen in either the eastern region of the Central Continent, or the western region of the Northern Continent.
The report calculated a 40% probability even for those most likely regions. This small group of continents, a region just recently attacked, only had less than a 10% chance of another assault, and so the governor couldn’t afford for the country to stay in their shell forever. The militia had to be disbanded, and citizens returned to their usual lives.
But now, the Dark Lady was attacking the neighboring country of Quanneuf. This wasn’t right. They were supposed to be a low-probability region.
“Your Majesty, please give the order! We must save Quanneuf!” An army general shouted, impatient to set off.
The governor blanched. “W-wait, no, we don’t have enough soldiers! Scout out the situation first!”
The nobility of the two surviving countries of the region had relatives living in both, so there was no lack of sympathy for the general. But even if the army set off right away, just the preparations alone would take up two days, plus another two at the very least if they took the magitech train. It was very unlikely Quanneuf could hold on by then.
The officers of both countries were keeping in contact by the magitech telecommunication system, and what they understood about the situation could be summarized as follows: Quanneuf had changed their monster-repelling barrier into the more mana-intensive magic-repelling barrier, as the target of their caution was a beastman. And so, the Dark Lady hadn’t been able to infiltrate the capital as easily as she used to do.
So she covered the whole capital in arctic mist instead.
Like Quanthuit, Quanneuf had disbanded their militia. They lacked the soldiers for a counteroffensive. The citizens had their hands full just trying to survive the blizzard, and even their plumbing had frozen over. They needed immediate support.
“Would we be in time…?”
“In time or not, what about the humanitarian aid…”
“But what if even our country falls…”
“Oh, you won’t need to worry about that.”
A voice cut through the clamoring nobles. It was a maid with chestnut-colored hair and eyes. Plain colors, but cute-looking.
She looked in her early teens. Was she a noble’s apprentice maid?
No one knew how long she’d been here. The sudden interruption to the meeting prompted the general to stand up, his face set in a frown of irritation.
“The adults are talking here, little girl! Guards, throw her out!”
Several soldiers approached her. But the moment they grabbed the maid’s arm, they stood stock-still, as if frozen.
No. They were actually frozen. The soldiers turned white in a blink of an eye. The warmth of spring suddenly turned into the freezing cold of arctic winter, and right in front of the crowd’s shivering eyes, the girl’s hair and maid uniform melted into a small little slime, revealing scarlet hair and a crimson dress. The very embodiment of their fear.
“…the Dark Lady…?”
The governor’s whisper of despair echoed in the silent room. A blizzard of glacial mist ravaged the castle, and the inhabitants did not even realize they had already drawn their last warm breath.
“—My Lady, were you successful?—”
In a room now devoid of living people, a voice rang out from the magitech communication device. I gave it a glance.
“Thanks for the help. But I don’t plan on being your ruler.”
“—of course, we understand. We simply do not want to repeat our mistake, that is all.—”
The voice cut out. Panda stopped working the communication device and joined my former disguise, Blobsy, in returning to their usual places on my waist and shoulder.
Ever since I got declared a Dark Lady, the humans had raised their security up a notch. I couldn’t just stroll into their countries like I used to.
My original plan, if I could call it one, was to freeze them all from outside, forcing them to choose between dying out or waiting for rescue. Just as I got ready to begin, however, some people contacted me.
Well, it was less them contacting me and more Panda finding them when they were on their desperate search, really.
They were demihumans. A group of beastmen and elves who hadn’t been captured by the humans, or had managed to escape. I had snuck into the city with their help, got into the castle with everyone none the wiser thanks to my disguise, dealt with the witnesses, then destroyed Quanthuit’s Sapling.
Quanneuf’s Sapling was already gone, of course. The people talking to Quanthuit just a while ago were elves, using their own magic to work the magitech communication devices.
The middle-aged elven leader of the group had said it was a “mistake”.
Elves were long-living. Perhaps this leader person even knew of the time when their race still considered humans to be their brothers and sisters.
This mistake… would be them allowing the humans to parasite on the Saplings, right?
…well, whatever. If some other people decided to follow the humans’ footsteps, I just needed to crush them once more.
The demihumans’ help was helpful, for sure, but much more useful was the effect of my Disguise.
No, I didn’t get any skill to change my looks. The ones with new skills were my kins.
[Blobsy] [Race: Jelly Slime] [Kin of Shedy, the Demon] [Magic Points: 10/10] [Hit Points: 10/10] [Total Combat Power: 10] [Special Skill: Laundry - Cleaning - Fashion]
[Panda] [Race: Monochrome Monkey] [Kin of Shedy, the Demon] [Magic Points: 20/20] [Hit Points: 20/20] [Total Combat Power: 20] [Special Skill: Makeup Artist - Banana]
Where did I even start.
Blobsy got a new skill called [Fashion]. Apparently it was what she used to stretch herself around me and mimic clothes.
…so I don’t really care, but this probably came about because Blobsy cared more about the clothes I wore than myself. She’s more feminine than I was.
The amazing thing about her skill was that it could even hide the rabbit ears on my head. Even so, it couldn’t change my face, nor could it change my eye color. If anyone looked, they might realize who I was. And here was where Panda’s skill came in.
[Makeup Artist]… huh, why the name? Anyway, Panda’s skill had changed my eye color and my looks a little bit. The rest, Blobsy’s mimicry could cover up and make to look more natural.
Amazing. The two of them were amazing. They covered for so much of my weaknesses. They were so impressive I forgot myself and petted them for a whole hour.
Also, if I let those two picked my next target instead of doing it myself, I almost never got ambushed.
There were some players this time around, but not many. Rather than their numbers, however, I was more curious about how they seemed to be a lot less willing to fight me ever since last time.
Did they realize the difference in power? Those I met didn’t even pull out their weapons, they just smiled and took a commemorative picture. And when I killed them, they just cheered, looking absolutely radiant, before disappearing into dust.
Were those true gamers…? Such unfathomable creatures.
I asked my kins with a map of the world spread out before us. Surprisingly, they looked indecisive. Was everywhere difficult now?
“Then tell me where it would be interesting.”
I had access to a disguise now, anyway. Maybe I could go scout things out and sightsee at the same time.
They pointed right at the center of the eastern continent.
The Torrann Caliphate… looked like a troublesome one, judging from its name.
And there… I met a certain somebody.