To a darkman, his hat was his identity itself.
Laila quietly murmured, standing before him. She had almost never seen me actually use Dominator’s Authority. That’s because Dominator’s Authority wasn’t an inherent ability of Uriel, but a power which was granted to him by Diablo.
And I had dominated a dark merchant at that too, a noble albeit the lowest of ranked. Apparently she couldn’t have imagined at all that he would even becoming willing to hand over his own helmet
“But for what business have you come for?”
“I want to have a private conversation.”
“Ahh, I see. This way please. Luckily, there is a good place to talk.”
It seemed that Creeky wasn’t aware of the changes over his own behaviour. As naturally as water flowing, he behaved as if he hadn’t realized being influenced by me.
Otherwise, how could he not even show any suspicion or wariness at my wanting of a private conversation?
Creeky moved toward his mansion.
“My Lord. I advise prudence.”
Laila, however, didn’t let her guard down; she was the very image of vigilance. Apparently she couldn’t completely trust a darkman, even if she had traded with him in the past.
Even without having to do it myself, Laila would inspect the surroundings and warn me of dangers of her own accord. I relaxed.
The place where Creekly lead me to moments later was a secret room underground. It was a securely designed place; a hole was dug in the ground of the mansion, and it was covered up with a rug, and even had an invisibility magic cast on it.
There were countless jewels and herbs, the names of which I knew not. Laila had said that on the ‘outside’, Creeky was a merchant who dealt in jewels and herbs. Then this must also be a cover meant to mask the ‘inside’.
‘What a black-bellied fellow.’
There were several safety devices. It was made so that a door leading further underground would appear when a specific pattern is drawn in a specific place.
It was water tight. An unreachable place for the ignorant.
From what I saw of the magical runic inscriptions on the sealing tool, it seemed to be made in a way to collapse the house itself if the specific pattern wasn’t drawn properly.
“What are you hiding?”
“I procure what the customer desires, whatever that may be. Even if it means going against the wishes of the Merchant’s Association. However, I have some things which I have no other choice than to hide, as they may be confiscated if I were to be reported by another darkman.”
So replied Creeky.
A dark merchant was someone who sold everything. Did even they have things which ‘mustn’t be sold’?
There were numerous rooms nearby.
And these rooms were full to the brim of monsters and items which I’d never seen before in my life.
“Rather than jewels and herbs, I mainly trade in lifeforms on the brink of extinction. They are trade prohibited goods as they number few even in the Company. Surprisingly there are many customers that desire rare things, you see.”
“Do you even sell to the demon lords?
“Haha. My ‘rank’ is still not enough for that. How could I, a nameless nobody with no connections whatsoever, stand before a demon lord?”
I stroked my chin. Indeed, it seemed that there were merchants who did trade with demon lords.
Lifeforms in danger of extinction. They were mostly monsters of the deep sea, or creatures which had evolved in the wrong direction. They were a ‘niche’ kind, so to say.
“Here is the place. Conversations held here will never leak out. It is a place which I open only when meeting with important guests.”
There was a huge stone wall. Behind that was the room for guests. There was a table, and a half-dragon wearing a maid uniform with her head bowed quietly.
Half-dragon race. They were a hybrid species that had inherited the blood of dragons. Dragons would go into heat about once every 10 years, and at that time it is said that they would assault all creatures nearby. The number of those who survive from that encounter, and bear and give birth to the child of a dragon, could be counted with a hand.
Even I had only heard of it; this was my first time actually seeing one.
My god. A half-dragon. She had short bobbed hair, and the mana I could feel from her was extraordinary. Even if only half, a dragon was a dragon. I got the feeling that she was a mix of dragon and elf at that too.
“Welcome back, master.”
“Shasha. They are important guests. Bring out the ‘Tears of Dawn’.”
Upon hearing Creeky’s order, the half-dragon called Shasha quietly bowed her head. She then went over to an area which was decorated like a kitchen.
“Uriel Diablo-nim. Laila Diablo-nim. Please sit.”
Creeky quietly suggested we sit. Seeing as how there was a chair that wouldn’t be strained even if I sat on it. apparently he had put some deep thoughts into preparing it.
As I took a seat, Creeky began to boast.
“Although Shasha’s dragon blood gauge is on the low side at 15%, she is a rare species who possesses beauty unique to the elves. Is she not beautiful?”
I spoke without reservation.
At my agreement, the corner of Creeky’s mouth rose with a twitch.
Darkmen had no eyes, ears or nose, but only a mouth.
“And so the private talk you spoke of…?”
“Do you also take part in ‘dimension invasions’?”
“Dimension invasions you ask? Although I haven’t personally taken part in an invasion…instead I use the ‘Wolves of Twilight’ which I’ve raised.”
“Up to what dimension can you invade?”
The Rakshasa realm was assessed as a higher dimension at 18th dimension. In other words, the higher the dimension, the more powerful it would be treated as.
“I have challenged up to the 8th dimension, a middle ranked dimension where monsters of the ocean exist.”
“I want to know in more details about the dimensions, invasions and pioneering.”
I was curious about the reason why the darkmen tried so hard to carry out invasions.
Because the most basic of knowledge was necessary to make it possible to do something about it.
Fortunately, Creeky wasn’t of slow understanding.
“As far as I know, it is said that the dimensions which exist start from 1 to 25. The 1st dimension is a world comprised of literally ant-like weak creatures. The higher you go, the higher the difficulty of the dimension along with a much higher density of life. Simply put, the number of the dimension is decided according to the density of life.”
In other words, there also exists a world more powerful than the Rakshasa realm.
“Of course, going over to the 21st dimension, it is dubbed the ‘World of Gods’. It is a world mostly ruled over by evil gods. Although they say there’s also a place where only the forgotten gods of ancient times exist, but we darkmen can only invade up to the 20th dimension.”
[New knowledge has been learned.]
[Upon entering a ‘Realm’, its related information will be shown at that time.]
It was an unexpected message. What Creeky was telling me now was of ‘world history’. Was that why?
“To invade is to infiltrate those ‘beings’ of the dimensions. Darkmen are able to dominate more powerful beings according to their ranks. We spur those beings into action, giving rise to chaos, confusion and the like, and as we increase the exploration rate we also plunder good items and sell them separately. These kinds of acts assist in widening the rift.”
I froze momentarily. If all beings were targets of invasion, if so…
“Is it also possible on Earth?”
“Earth? Ahh, it’s possible. It’s the sole 0 dimension after all. Only, Earth at present is slightly complicated. Because, as you know, it is a world that exists for the sake of the ‘Great Star’’s advent. Don’t the demon lords think of that place as the ‘final battlefield’ as well? Us darkmen can’t carelessly set foot on that sacred place.”
“They say that under the ‘Great Star’’s influence, the 0 dimension, that is to say the lifeforms of Earth, are awakening. Those lifeforms are mainly called as ‘humans’ however…it is possible for the darkmen to dominate these awakened ones. By digging into their minds and sowing discord among their own kind. But as it is a place which even we can’t lay a hand on carelessly, there are several binding restrictions.”
The reason behind the numerous uprising of abnormal organizations, and the repeated slaughter among one another may have been due to the darkmen. Such a thought crossed my mind abruptly.
“When the rift has opened at least 80%, only those ranked marquis and above can carry out ‘invasions’. Our role is to bring about the demise of humans while not interfering in the demon lords’ war. It’s because the advent of the ‘Great Star’ depends on the seeds he sowed. The awakened ones can be likened to bees that fetch the seeds of the ‘Great Star’. Only, the darkmen must never set foot into the 0 dimension before the condition is met.”
The half-dragon called Shasha brought out tea, but I didn’t even notice it. Evidence of how focused I was on Creeky’s words.
The emergence of the awakened was a predestined happening. The moment people touch the ‘gates’, a seed would be transferred to them. And so the gist of it is that the advent of the ‘Great Star’ would come about faster when those seeds blooms to a certain extent and undergo sublimation through ‘death’.
I clenched my fist.
Feed. Humans were no different than feed. Right from the beginning, there was no case scenario of the humans’ ‘victory’ to them. It was just like rearing dogs and pigs.
However, there was a way indeed.
I just had to make it so that the rift didn’t open over 80%.
There was still a chance.
“U-, uhh, have I done something wrong?”
The mood had frozen in an instant, Apparently I had released energy without my knowing.
I calmed my heart down the best I could before following up with a question.
“What is ‘pioneering’?”
“Ahem. Even we darkmen don’t know specifically regarding the ‘rift’. The rift is a tunnel which leads to all realms, and is at the same time, an entrance and an exit. As our role is to widen the rift, there is a need to explore unexplored regions. That’s why a significant reward is given when pioneering. It’s an opportunity to strike it rich, should I say; the higher the dimension, one could even have their ranked promoted in one go.”
On the other hand, the risk of failure was also big. One could lose all their troops and fall in danger of demotion.
“Of course I’m not fond of pioneering. The possibility of gaining everything, means that one could also lose everything, no? I only ever entrust myself to certainty.”
Only entrusting to certainty. Quite the interesting outlook. And yet despite that he conducted trade of lifeforms on the brink of extinction, walking a dangerously thin rope. How ironic. But perhaps that’s why Laila had noticed him.
“How high do you have confidence in climbing to if I were to assist you?”
“Pardon? Lord Uriel Diablo intends on helping me?”
I didn’t reply.
Despite establishing control through Dominator’s Authority, the target’s desire had to be fulfilled. There were cases of those that have been dominated, who didn’t have their desires satisfied, not following orders properly, and even outright walking away.
That was the result of the experiments I’d done with hundreds of gnolls.
‘A command which goes completely against the desire of those dominated may fail.’
That’s the reason why I deemed Dominator’s Authority as imperfect.
It can make others follow me and hold goodwill towards me, but unless it was absolute domination, there was a possibility of a command going ignored if it goes against the wishes of those dominated.
Fortunately, my Authority worked on Creeky well enough to fall under the category of ‘absolute domination’. Seeing as he even handed over his helmet, he would lick my feet if I told him to.
Even so, the power of the Authority may weaken if I were to continuously give conflicting commands which go against the desires of a darkman. When looking at it long-term, it wasn’t the right thing to do.
Creeky, having finally regained his senses, spoke with confidence.
“Duke. If my lord will definitely support me, I have the confidence to become a duke, of which there are only three at present.”
“Those words, you must never forget even for an instant.”
“…Is there something you require of me?”
Give and take is the game.
I liked how he caught on quick.
“Enter the core of the Dark Company and become an informant. You will have to give me information such as the lists of important auctions, and official documents, all of them without anything missing. Also…”
Capable demon lords would all be doing the same thing, however. If there was something different, it would be that I intended on raising Creeky from the beginning, and that he was under the influence of ‘domination’. Through conversing with him I had confirmed that he couldn’t lie to me at least.
I continued speaking.
“Enter the rift and obstruct the other plunderers.”
“Do you mean for me to kill the darkmen?”
“There should be darkmen who are hindrances to us. The darkmen in contact with Carpediem, for example. Or those trying to make connections to him.”
Demon lords against demon lords.
And darkmen against darkmen!
If we couldn’t lay a hand on one another separately, then I would make them fight among themselves.
So that they won’t be able to spare a mind for the likes of the rift and invading. But for that I had to first grow a base. The darkmen were anything but philanthropists. They also had ‘desires’. They must quarrel and even stab one another from behind.
I planned on using Creeky, who will rapidly rise through the ranks, and cause great chaos within the abyss, and the Dark Company.
Creeky carried out illegal matters without reservation anyhow. He must have at least had several experiences when it came to meddling with those of the same profession.
Creeky locked his fingers together. He appeared to be calculating something, following which he spoke.
“Points and information are required. While I can acquire the information, in the end us darkmen are those that are moved by points. Naturally, an appropriate amount of troops and equipment will be necessary in order to keep the others in check. After all, at specific times, the performances of the darkmen are compared whereupon promotion or demotion is decided…”
“How much is needed?”
Creeky waved his hand.
“Of course It’s fine in the immediate present. For now I will be able to handle it with the amount I have earned. However, looking at it from a long-term view…the product of the Absolute Domination Company is excellent. Although there is still only one product, a rather fine picture should be completed by filling in the other parts slightly. And so there’s something I would suggest.”
Gourmandi is the representative of the Absolute Domination Company. I had never showed myself on the surface. Despite that Creeky was certain that I was the owner of the company.
Moreover, it seemed that he perceived that my immediate situation wasn’t good. Though I had woken after 100 years, I had nothing that could be called a foothold apart from the title of a demon lord. That’s why I had even proposed the second best policy.
In other words, Creeky was going to use me, just like how I was going to use him, with the intention of fulfilling each our own greed.
He was quite good. It would have been exceedingly troublesome if I had met him as an enemy.
“Why not consider playing in the ‘big waters’?”
At my puzzlement, Creeky followed up with an explanation.
“A banquet where the millionaires of the abyss gather will soon open. I will work my magic if the two of you participate in it.”
Creeky’s demeanor portrayed strong confidence as he spoke those words.