35 Chapter 34

Elma once again stood before the ruler of Tempest with the communication orb in her hands. No amount of mental preparation could make her calm around the Overlord. The only solace was that this time the demons were not present, but instead of them were the other two Lords of Tempest.

As a seasoned spy, she had made a habit of memorizing anyone of importance, and the two majins surely fit into that category. What she found strange was that they were considered siblings despite their vastly different appearances. How a birdman and a slime could come from the same parent was beyond her.

Momonga took the orb, placed it on the table in front of him and his friends and activated it without any hesitation.

"King Gazel!"

"Overlord Momonga! I discussed your proposal with my advisors. Since Jura falls into the domain of Veldora, no other nation can lay claim to it if they do not wish to anger the Storm Dragon. If your guardian is giving you the blessing to rule over that part of the forest, I will not oppose it. However, if our nations are to share a border, I want a nonaggression pact to be signed before the borders are opened for merchants to travel freely."

'Is there a system to enforce the deal in some way? It would be safe to assume there has to be one, otherwise what would prevent either side from breaking it?'

With the accelerated thinking, Momonga didn't have to worry about looking hesitant as he sent a message to Pero who had a similar ability because of his |Analyst| skill. Even without directly using the |Dark Sage|, his reaction and thinking speed were way beyond what he would have imagined. Come to think of it, even Buku and the Guardians had mental speeds way beyond what he would consider possible in his previous life.

{ What do you think about his demand? }

{ The guy is suspicious of us, but then again Veldora is known for his destructive tendencies and we have him as our protector. I assume we don't plan to invade his nation? }

{ Demiurge had drawn up some contingencies just in case, but for now, we are leaving developed nations alone. It is better to be on friendly terms with Dwargon. }

{ Then I say you can agree. If King Gazel tries to screw us over, can't you just send something from the eighth floor in his direction? } Pero asked.

{ I guess. But we don't know what skills Gazel has. He is considered quite strong, and judging from the reports, could instantly detect a shadow demon. }

{ More reason to not piss him off for now. }

"Your request sounds reasonable. I would prefer for our nations to be on friendly terms as well." Momonga said.

"I am glad we have come to a mutual understanding." Gazel said through the communication orb.

'A magical contract would not be a safe deterrent in any case, but for a newly formed nation and one run by monsters, they would be foolish to show the world of not being trustworthy.'

The reports from his spy were sparse, as she could only send information the other party permitted her to send, but the details still slipped through. From what he now knew, the Storm Dragon was considered only a formal protector of Tempest and likely was still in his prison. Besides him, on the very top were the Supreme Overlord Momonga and two of his close friends, wielding almost the same amount of authority. Below them was an entire roster of very powerful majins capable of naming creatures left and right.

'A troubling development no matter how I look at it. For now, I can safely assume that even if individually I could defeat every single one of them, I doubt I could win in case they use a carefully planned force. Playing nice with them may be the only way to go forward and save my nation from an unwinnable conflict.'

The talks were short, as most was left to his envoy. The recent dismissal of Vesta had left a bad taste in his mouth, but Vesta's family was one of his most trusted allies, and he knew the Laurents overall were trustworthy.

With his usual precise movements, Gazel put aside the communication orb and rolled out the continental map on the table. The forest of Jura was an immense territory. Only the Eastern empire in its entirety rivaled Veldora's domain. It was safe to assume that Tempest would take over the entire forest over time. An untold number of various sentient monsters lived there. United under a single ruler, they would become a superpower in the center of the continent.

'If I would ally with human nations, we could wipe Tempest out.'

The thought was worth consideration. There was, however, one big but… If the demon lords decided to get involved and take Tempest's side, the resulting conflict would weaken the entire continent, letting the Eastern Empire expand without much resistance.

'Maybe I should revive the magi soldier project and put Vesta to use again?'

Gazel rubbed his temples. No matter how he looked at it, every decision was a risky one. Humans would not come to his aid if Tempest decided to expand into the dwarven domain. Sarion was unlikely to help either.

Even putting Veldora aside, there were far too many unknown variables to assess Tempest's full might. Considering that Momoga gave the impression of a careful and smart ruler, the willingness to sell the beliat ore could only mean one thing. He didn't feel threatened by Dwargon's ability to produce weapons from this new metal.

'What if it isn't the best they have? If I would sit on something like that I would have never even revealed the existence of such material, yet Momonga used it as a lure. They must have it in much larger quantities and only sell amounts that would not threaten them!'

Leaning back in the chair, Gazel let out a tired sigh. Being in the dark about a potential new threat was not a situation any monarch would want to find himself in, but the let's wait and see approach was the only one on the table for now.

Soon, the first shipment of the beliat should come and Dwargon's best could start mastering the material. Beyond that, the arms production had to be accelerated as a precaution.

'I need a drink, and a strong one.'


Despite already knowing how it would end, Koby was still nervous to be the one to lead Lord Peroroncino to meet the council of kobold clans. The official leader of kobolds, Tobtu, was known to be rather self-assured and stubborn. Even for a low-ranking creature like him, the accumulated wealth could provide the muscle to push others around. His hired ogres were the ones to sort out anyone who stood against Tobtu.

He stood outside the Tempest castle with his two trusted bodyguards, trying to appear calm. Soon enough, Lord Peroroncino walked out, followed by an elf child, and what Koby presumed was a young vampire, judging by the pale face and red eyes.

"Hey, Koby. Ready to go?" Pero asked in a cheerful tone.

He and his two guards kneeled. "Yes my Lord. But with my cart, the trip will take a few days."

Pero chuckled and said. "We have a better method. Goblin riders will be here any moment and then we are making the gate. Rise, you know I don't like that overly formal attitude."

Koby jumped back on his feet "Of course, my Lord. I am sorry."

"Ah, don't sweat it. Oh, there they are." The orderly rows of fifty goblins riders led by Rigur arrived just in time. "Shalltear, you can open the gate to the kobold main trade hub."

"At once da… Father." Shalltear exclaimed and looked down after seeing her father flinch. He didn't mind her calling him daddy in private but in public? Not so much.

With a casual movement of her hand, a dark void appeared in front of her. Koby gulped but didn't dare to ask what he was seeing.

"After you." Pero said to Koby and motioned for him to walk into the void.

"T-t-tha… W-w-wh…"

"It's the safest transportation magic there is." Pero said to the kobold who shook so hard the avian was afraid the small creature would shake his fur off. With a gentle push to his back, Koby collided with the void. For a moment he felt the end had come, but then he opened his eyes and saw the familiar streets of the main hub with the council building in the distance.

"See? Perfectly safe way to travel."

He could only nod as he led the group towards the council building. Knowing that all the clan representatives lived there, it was a rare occurrence when the council leader and most of the council were not present. He had already sent a message via thought communication to his clan leader, informing him that Tempest's representative is coming.

Being on the lower end of the power scale, the kobolds had to carve their path in life by other means, and thus their natural talent for trade flourished. With wealth came mercenaries willing to protect them and with that, they could make a part of Jura their own. With that came the veneration of the forest guardian Veldora. Each village always held large amounts of food reserved for appealing to the mighty dragon should he ever show up to inspect his domain.

Over generations, the villages grew and alliances were made. War among themselves was bad for business and thus needed to be avoided. The council of kobold clans was created as a natural consequence, with the leader of the wealthiest clan being its head. If Tobtu would step down from his position, the next leader of his clan would take his place as it would still be the strongest force among kobolds.

'I hope they don't think Lord Peros is weak because he hides his aura.'

A door guard, seeing the procession, ran inside and returned with an elegantly dressed kobold. Pero quickly noticed that kobolds were vastly different and resembled many of the dog breeds found on earth, from the vastly different sizes to different shapes of muzzles and ears.

The buildings were somewhat crude, made from stone and wood, and the road under his feet was paved with uneven stones, but it at least resembled civilization. The interior of the main building was a different case entirely.

The small corridor leading to the central hall was decorated with various art, no doubt imported from more advanced nations. The hall itself was spacious and well-lit. In the center stood a long table with about twenty chairs on one side, filled with kobolds of various sizes and looks. At the sides stood lizardmen and what Pero assumed were the ogres. They did resemble the ones from Japanese mythology, with thick horns on their heads. From the limited information they had, the ogres were some of the strongest creatures found in Jura and goblin riders would have problems defeating an ogre in one on one battle.

The kobold guiding them inside walked to his seat and sat down. With goblin riders remaining outside only Shalltear, Aura and Koby were with him.

A kobold sitting in the middle leaned forward and, with a smile that revealed his teeth, said.

"Welcome, representative of Tempest. I am Tobtu, the leader of the kobold council. We are ready to hear your plea."

"I'll get straight to the point then. Tempest is expanding towards Dwargon and thus we plan to incorporate kobold lands into the Tempest Hegemony."

The kobold let out a barking laugh. "You think you can just walk in here, majin, and make demands?"

Pero stared down at the kobold that resembled a german shepherd and calmly said.

"That is not a threat. I am just informing you that Tempest is taking these lands and it is in your best interests to cooperate."

"Such insolence. Remove him from our presence."

"Wait, Tobtu, they are rumored to be very powerful. Maybe we shouldn't…"

"Shut it. You sense it yourself. He is hiding his aura. Surely he is too weak to intimidate us and has to resort to trickery. Guards, toss them out." Tobtu barked.

One of the largest ogres approached Peroroncino, but before he could grab the avian, the ogre's head fell off and rolled on the ground.

"What just happened?" Tobtu shouted in shock.

He would have wanted to resolve the situation more peacefully, but at the same time, his daughter was rather rash when it came to protecting him. Pero and Aura, of course, could perceive how fast Shalltear decapitated the ogre with her bare hand, but the rest of the creatures present in the room could not even see her move.

The ogre's lifeless body dropped to the floor as the blood started to flow upwards and make a sphere over Shaltear's head.

Another ogre tried to make a sudden movement. In the blink of an eye, he was split in half vertically, with a large portion of the wall behind him destroyed. Aura's whiplike sword could not be stopped or even slowed down by the armored body of the ogre that got into its trajectory.

Pero stepped forward as Tobtu sunk into his chair, trembling. The rest of the guards had frozen up, not wanting to provoke the duo that casually killed the strongest guards present.

"Wait, wait!" Tobtu hastily said.

The avian made an expression resembling a smirk and dug his talons in the back of the neck of the kobold who let out a loud yelp and casually picked him up.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." the kobold whined.

"Now then…" the sudden stench of ammonia hit his nostrils and the avian looked down. The kobold he was holding had soiled himself and a puddle was forming underneath the creature. Disgusted, Pero dropped him in the puddle and stepped back.

"So, where's all the bravado gone?" Pero asked. The creature's behavior invoked nothing but disgust in him. The moment he couldn't hide behind his guards, all he could do was to whimper and soil himself.

"P-please. W-we will agree to a-all your demands." Tobtu said prostrating himself in the puddle he was soaking in. The rest of the kobolds followed suit and prostrated as well. The little demonstration had driven home the point and Pero didn't even need to take the ring off and unleash his aura on them.

"Glad we came to an agreement. Now then, we will slowly incorporate the kobold lands into Tempest, and I guess you will all work under me, as industry and commerce fall under my responsibilities. Any objections?" The room filled with deafening silence, giving Pero the answer he was looking for.

"Good. We will be on our way then. Koby, I will appoint you as my representative. Sort them out and await Nazarick's assistance."

Before Koby could protest, he was left alone with his kin who all looked at him expectantly.

'How did I get myself into this again!? Why am I even surprised it all ended like this?'

There was no point in even wondering anymore. With a tired sigh, he resolved to deal with the hand fate had given him.

Edited by Edgy

Additional proofreading by placid_void

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