Chapter 4: Zero Corps Commander Deon Hart (2)

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  • [Translator – Nine Lives]

    “Nice to meet you! I heard you’re the gardener who looks after almost all of the plants in the Demon King’s castle, right?”

    The tone of the voice was warm and friendly. Hien, oblivious to his own situation, raised his head in a daze to look at him.

    …It had such a small possibility that it didn’t even make sense that it actually happened.

    The kindness shown by the Zero Corps Commander exceeded his expectations.

    “The Demon King’s castle is quite large, it’s amazing.” 

    Hein had such a negative perception of this person.

    He was recognized by the Demon King and appointed as the Zero Corps Commander. Even if he were arrogant, no one could say anything about it.

    Even so, he spoke politely and with respect for the other person.

    ‘Is this a strong person’s leisure that I’ve only heard about in words…?’

    When someone lacks confidence in themselves, they will exaggerate their own abilities and raise their voice in order to crush their opponent in any way possible.

    In that sense, the Zero Corps Commander was confident in himself, as evidenced by his words and actions.

    “I’m curious about the plants in the Demon King’s castle, would it be alright if I asked for a tour?”

    Not only did he acknowledge Hein’s expertise, but he also requested a tour of something that he could simply order him to do.

    At that moment, Hein’s stiff face relaxed and he smiled.

    [What was his name?]

    [I didn’t hear it clearly, what was it again…?]

    “Demon. Demon Arut.”

    A name more demon-like than an actual demonic name.

    That day, Hein repeated that name several times inside his mind.

    After that, he tried to get closer to him.

    No, he didn’t dare to get closer. He just tried to persuade him to take a walk in the garden because he was concerned about the health of the man who would only stay in his room.

    Sir Demon, unlike the other Corps Commanders, did not ignore my words. There was also no violence or verbal abuse.

    He would often walk in the garden, answering steadily with a stiff expression.

    Even though he could have kicked him out or at least pushed him away to be alone, he still took care of me to walk and accompanied me on walks.

    That’s why I seemed to have become very comfortable.

    ‘How dare an incubus like me.’

    ‘Make such a mistake.’

    Today, I went too far with my words.

    ***

    I still regret what happened that day.

    Initially, it was just by chance that I saw the garden from far away before entering the Demon King’s castle, and that’s how I learned about the existence of the gardener in a conversation with the Demon King.

    I should have just let it go and moved on.

    But I, who knew nothing, was happy. Even in a place like the Demon King’s castle, there’s a peaceful job like the gardener.

    I should have been content with seeing something normal in this place full of demonic creatures bent on violence and bloodshed. But I was so excited that I went through all sorts of procedures just to find him.

    And I was able to meet a man who was more attractive than I had anticipated.

    “Nice to meet you! I heard you’re the gardener who looks after almost all of the plants in the Demon King’s castle, right?”

    This is the nest of demons. No matter how insignificant they appear, they will always be stronger than me, so respectful words are essential.

    It’s my fault I was nervous, and if I got hurt, I’d only have myself to blame.

    “The Demon King’s castle is quite large, it’s amazing.”

    It’s difficult for me to use overly flattering words. It may cause problems if I appear too insincere. It’s better to show respect and approval. Of course, I have to be careful not to overdo it and sound fake.

    With that in mind, I briefly paused, composed my expression and spoke again.

    “I’m curious about the plants in the Demon King’s castle, would it be alright if I asked for a tour?”

    For a moment, his expression was blank, but then a smile bloomed on his face.

    He happily agreed, and then he showed me around the garden. He didn’t care that I was a human, he showed me all of his plants in the garden and their names.

    ─And then I saw hell.

    Demons are, demons after all!

    It’s a painful quote that has been engraved in my life philosophy.

    From that day on, whenever we met, Hien would always suggest taking a walk in the garden. I couldn’t refuse, or else he might use his powerful plants to hurt me. So I went along, gritting my teeth and taking in the sight of the plants he so lovingly tended.

    Of course, Hien, the person who asked me to go for a walk, had to be by my side.

    What am I supposed to do if those horrible plants try to eat me when this guy isn’t here? I can’t die alone! If I have to die, let’s die together! Anyway, that’s roughly what I thought.

    …For some reason, the more time passes, the more he seems to be getting closer to me.

    ***

    I stared at Hien with a troubled expression, wondering why he was apologizing again. I still couldn’t figure out what had happened, so I began to recall the previous situation with a furrowed brow.

    What happened before he apologized?

    …Nothing happened.

    ‘Really, nothing happened.’

    I was silent, and so was he. It was just that the silence was a little too long.

    And then our eyes met, and he apologized…

    ‘…No way.’

    Is he suggesting that instead of apologizing, we go for a walk in the garden together, even if it takes longer?

    Wouldn’t that be hard to refuse?

    This guy… I thought he was stubborn, but now I see that he’s just straightforward.

    Well, it’s fine. I’ve survived every time so far, so as long as there are no problems this time, I’ll be able to survive. 

    I briefly prepared my mind and then looked down at Hien who was still bowing his head.

    “You don’t have to do that. Please raise your head.”

    He slowly raised his head. I saw the still stiff expression on his face, so I nodded my head.

    I’m going, I’m going I’m going, so relax your expression.

    “So, where are the new flowers you bought this time?”

    “…Uh?!”

    Didn’t answer.

    I began to walk towards the garden confidently. To him who was following me in a daze, I said it clearly, as if giving assurance.

    “I told you I’d like to go see the flowers. Aren’t you going to guide me?”

    “Ahhh! I will!”

    Hien frantically searched for a torch.

    Unlike the demons who are accustomed to the night, I, a human, need a torch to observe the plants closely.

    To be honest, I have no desire to observe them closely, but that b*****d always demanded that I observe them closely. 

    Sure, he didn’t say it directly, but it’s not like the phrase ‘silent pressure’ is not for nothing.

    After excitedly explaining about the plants, he’d look at me with those shining eyes. How could I ignore that?

    “Then please follow me!”

    Hien, holding a torch, seemed to have regained his energy and smiled broadly as if nothing had happened.

    He recovered quickly, so I thought why did he apologize earlier? Such thoughts occurred to me as I casually followed him without thinking.

    I stopped for a moment and looked down at my empty hands. I then took the torch from Heine and firmly held it, following his lead towards the west garden.

    As always, it’s abnormal, gross, and scary. 

    The eerie feeling of the plants staring at me like this…

    As I walked quickly to get out of sight, the eyes moved and stared at me. I was so scared that I almost dropped the torch.

    “Um, Sir Demon.”

    “Yes?”

    “I can hold the torch…”

    “It’s fine.”

    Huh, where is he trying to take my weapon? I tightened my grip on the torch in my hand.

    These plants are all carnivorous, but ultimately, they’re just ‘plants.’. They can’t do anything once they’ve been burned.

    So this is my weapon and my lifeline. I can’t have it taken away so easily.

    “How much longer do we have to go?”

    I am slowly losing my mental strength.

    When I was about to collapse from the exhaustion of trying to keep my composure, Thankfully, Heien pointed to somewhere with his finger.

    “We’re almost there, it’s just over there.”

    My eyes focused on where his finger was pointing.

    “Oh…”

    My mouth opened in amazement.

    This was not an exclamation of wonder. It was a suppressed scream. The loudest scream my newly numbed head could muster.

    ‘What the hell is that! Is that a plant?’

    Are you insane! Where does it look like a plant?

    Wrong. This isn’t normal. I have to get out of here right now…

    “Sir Demon?”

    “…Uh.”

    I barely stopped from stepping backwards.

    I’m not sure how fortunate I am that my face is naturally pale, so it doesn’t show even if it becomes paler. If my complexion had been normal, the paleness would have been noticeable.

    My reaction was entirely natural. Even if it had been someone else, they would have reacted the same way I did.

    That’s not a plant! It’s an animal!

    It seemed as though it was trying to escape, like a person with their feet stuck in the ground, gleaming.

    “Keieeee!”

    …I have to correct myself. It was also glowing.

    “What kind of plant screams?!”

    Oh no, I accidentally spoke in an informed tone!

    Putting aside his concerns about what to do if he gets angry, Hien focused on the content rather than the tone of his words.

    “They are called carnivorous plants. Sir Demon doesn’t seem to have noticed it because it’s so weak, but even from this distance, those screams contain a light energy. And the weaker demons would freeze and become unable to flee if they heard it.”

    “…”

    “It’s fortunate that they’re ‘carnivorous’ plants. And don’t eat demons, so you won’t have to worry about the demons in the Demon King’s castle being eaten.”

    No, it’s more likely the opposite. That thing isn’t weak, I’m just too weak to even feel the energy.

    Can you please remember that I am not a demon? No, more than that, is that thing just now, the water dripping from the flowers, saliva? Is that what it is?!

    It was furious, that creature, that monster, no, that plant, as it wildly shook its stem. 

    If it bends right, it could reach here…

    Kwah!

    “Hieek!”

    I barely dodged it!

    “What range!”

    “Haha, it looks like even Sir Demon was surprised. It definitely has a long range, right? I think it can cover about 10m. It’s currently actively reproducing, so soon it’ll be able to completely cover the Demon King’s castle. You can look forward to it.”

    Then how am I supposed to get around? Are you trying to kill me?

    I should have handed in my resignation letter whether I escaped or not. No, I should do it now. I have to get out of this crazy place as soon as possible. This is not a place where humans can live.

    The fact that I couldn’t feel the monster’s fear seemed to work out in an unexpected way.

    Normally, I would hesitate and prepare myself for such a situation, but now I am acting without hesitation. In other words, I am not in my right mind right now.

    “Let’s go. Where is the Demon King right now?”

    If my body had been strong, I would have trusted and relied on it, but unfortunately, my body is below average. For me, who needs to be careful to survive, the Demon King’s Castle is the worst environment.

    So, I am trying to go and submit my resignation letter right now, but for some reason, one of my feet wasn’t moving, as if it was stuck to the ground.

    “Sir Demon!”

    “…Yeah?

    Whoosh!

    The sound of wind brushed my ears. My vision started to blur and when it stopped, the world was upside down.

    Oh, I’m hanging upside down. Wait, what?

    “…Crazy!”

    In front of me, a giant flower bud flapped its grotesque fangs open, revealing its disgusting teeth. The stem was gripping my ankle tightly, preventing me from leaving.

    So this situation is, well, an opportunity to explore the stomach of a carnivorous plant…

    …Forcibly.

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