Author’s Note: The number to the side of the subtitle shows the chapter’s chronological order; the left most shows the time axis while the digit on the right shows the order.
I came back, but the world is still a fantasy!? Prologue 01-01: The Farce at Noon
––––– The world held their breath as they watched that spectacle –––––
Whether it was in the open square of the public, a room within a stately mansion, or the halls of a royal palace – regardless of status or location – townsmen, nobles, beastmen, and kijins alike all watched on. Which is why in one sense, it could be said that the witness of that incident was the “world” itself.
There is a device made out of crystal in the shape of a sphere known as a crystal ball. It is a magic tool that could project images over its surface. And though each device might vary in size and quality, every one – even the small, decaying villages – had one.
『Presently, in the capital city, Lucent, our beloved hero, Master Kite, is leading–––––』
From weather forecasts to monster warnings to reports on missing children and even the best deals available, all sort of information reflected upon the surface of the crystal balls. But in the midst of all that symbolized a regular day, everything was suddenly cut. And then in the next instant, what reflected upon the surface of the crystal balls was an image no one had yet seen, shocking the world.
“W-What is that!?”
“Eww~ that’s disturbing.”
“Is that a “castle”? But where would a castle like that appear?”
A great tower of metal stretched out toward the sky, piercing the black clouds that covered it. Appraised as a “castle”, there was no doubting the magnificence of its size. And coupled with the cold and dark aura it exuded, the onlookers could not help but feel anxiety creep up their bones.
For them who had never once seen a structure made out of anything other than stone, the sight of the tower was indeed horrifying.
Whatever the intentions of the perpetrator of this incident were, showing the castle first was undoubtedly the right choice.
After all, it managed to gather everyone’s attention and strike fear in their hearts.
Then as if this result was expected, the image changed. In the next moment, countless screams rose.
“Oi, oi, you’re joking, right?”
“W-Why is the crystal ball showing these bastards!?”
Around the mysterious castle were people gathered. If it were only people, then perhaps the onlookers might have thought this to be merely some country’s festival. Indeed, that would’ve been the case if not for those horns that were growing out of said people’s heads. Horns of various shapes and sizes grew out of their heads, but they all belonged to one race.
––––––– 『The Demon Race』
It was the race that hated the most populous race, the humans. Members of the demon race all possessed a strong body along with magic power greater than any other. With a long history of war, they are humanity’s sworn enemy. Which is precisely why everyone screamed when they saw them reflected on the
Many tried to cut off the feed, but they couldn’t. People couldn’t stop watching either for the impact of seeing an impossible sight was too great. After the image changed, it immediately zoomed, focusing into one point. This one point was the highest place of the castle, the balcony. Standing there were several members of the demon race. They were members with significant position as shown by their luxurious outfits and their majestic bearing.
From amongst that group, the one with the greatest presence stepped forward.
As the humans watching also felt the man’s presence, they swallowed their breath.
The two horns stretching out from his head toward the heavens declared his strength. His pale white hair and his burning red eyes drew him ghastly and rigid. The black armor over his tempered muscles and the red mantle that flowed behind him announced his majesty. This great man appeared before hordes of demons and the entire human race without the slightest aura of hostility. He was a true noble.
–––When the humans saw him, they immediately knew who he was, and they all exclaimed.
“No way… the demon king?”
“…T-The demon king!”
“The demon king!?”
“Why is something so scary…Ahh Master Rimoa save us!”
“In the end, a demon king came out… It’s definitely because of that alliance!”
Some were angry, some were scared, some wanted vengeance, but regardless, they all referred to him as ‘Demon King’.
The demon king, the strongest of humanity’s nemesis, the demon race, he is udnoubtedly humanity’s greatest foe.
When he appeared on the crystal ball and the onlookers felt his noble spirit, they all trembled with fear. But even then, they could not withhold their eyes.
“I would like to thank my retainers and my subjects for gathering here today, you’ve all done a splendid work. As for you humans, who are watching this feed, listen well. I am the king of demons who rules over the demon race, the 142nd great demon king, Genan Giol!”
Though impudent, his words were not without courtesy; each and every single one of them brimmed with the demon king’s dignity as they echoed throughout the world. And though the onlookers could only hear them through the crystal ball, they clearly felt his power. As for the demons gathered by the castle, they trembled at the mere uttering of his name.
The only ones who were unaffected were the young man and woman standing behind the demon king. They were none other than the demon prince and the demon princess. They stood behind the demon king with a stiff expression as they quietly listened to his words.
“I am grieved,” the demon king said.
Though his actions and that saddened voice of his reeked of cheap acting, the people watching couldn’t help but grow anxious. “What is the king planning to say?” They wondered.
“Until now we have been tolerating your unjust demands and attacks. Yet you foolishly chose to form an alliance with the intentions of invading our lands!
You’ve even borrowed the power of ‘Heroes’ who have nothing to do with this world, all for the sake of destroying my people. How deplorable! How pathetic!
To actually resort to cowardice because of your lack of strength! As a fellow inhabitant of this world, I am ashamed!”
“Impossible!” the people spat back. But those who did so were no more than a few.
The demon king wasn’t making fun of the humans.
The great alliance being formed for the sake of suppressing the demon race and the heroes originating from a different world were both highly-classified matters.
As the few people who knew of this matter were left speechless at the demon king’s intel, the members of the demon race gathered near the castle yelled.
“Can’t you fight by yourselves!?”
“You even involved otherworlders! Know some shame!”
“I’m not about to let you filthy invaders do as you please!”
“Don’t get cocky just because we’re being lenient!”
At the cries of hundreds of thousands of demons, the humans trembled. Amidst their condemnation, the humans could not talk back; they could only quietly curl up. But if left alone, that horde of demons would eventually break into a rampage, so the demon king slightly raised his hand and signaled them to silence.
“I understand how you are all feeling… I also cannot leave the humans’ rampage unbridled any longer, therefore…”
As if he knew everything would turn out like this, he loudly spoke the words he prepared beforehand.
“Let us show the humans who dare trample over the motherland the power of the demon race!!”
At the demon king’s order, the horde of demons roared out a battle cry. The demons united, the humans all went pale.
At that time, in that moment, how many was it that noticed that oddity? The people glued to the crystal ball did not see it. And neither did the demon prince nor the demon princess behind the demon king.
“At this very moment, I order you, my people, in the name of the demon king, these humans who do not know their place shall–––––!!??”
–––––Even though the whole world was watching.
A black shadow, almost formless, that seemed to resemble a human’s figure. But only a white mask with a bird’s beak that hung over where the face should’ve been could be seen.
Although everyone was watching, no one noticed that shadow moving until the moment it attacked the demon king. Upon which, blood spurted and northern lights twinkled.
As a short anguished voiced left the demon king’s lips his large figure swayed, and his entire armor scattered into smithereens.
“What– Your majesty!?”
Surprised and shaken, they finally noticed the black shadow. It stood like a human, wearing black garments all over. Blood could be seen dripping from the right hand as light shone from it.
What was terrifying was that it managed to destroy the demon king’s armor and stagger him with only a barehand’s chopping strike.
“What are the guards doing!? Why was an enemy able to easily enter!?”
“Hurry up and call the healers! My father is– Father, your wounds are–!?”
Panicked, the red-haired princess scolded the guards as she reached for her sword, while the golden-haired prince gave orders as he confirmed the situation.
“Calm yourselves, stupid fools!!”
But regardless who it was, they both stopped when the king’s thundering voice roared.
As if to show he was fine, he firmly stepped over the floor of the balcony. Then with the swipe of his hands, he easily got rid of the wound and blood over his chest. He looked at the figure bold enough to attack him in broad daylight.
Though he tried to ascertain the features of the figure before him, all he could see was a blur. The only thing clearly visible was the white mask. That fact added to the figure’s ghastliness.
“But I have heard of that white, bird mask… Have you come for my neck, masked assassin, ‘Masquerade’!!?”
As he spoke that legendary name, he drew his blade and swung it down; an attack that was closer to an explosion than a mere attack. Immediately, a corner of the balcony was blown away. Fine particles scattered to the air at impact, but the black-dressed figure was gone.
At that instant, the black shadow suddenly slipped right in-between the princess and the prince to enter into the castle. It was literally a gust of wind.
With a speed that was too fast to describe, the two only realized what happened after the fact.
“…No way… What is with that speed!?”
“Y-You mean to say I couldn’t even react?”
The golden-haired prince had already turned around, but there was no longer anyone there. Meanwhile, the princess who could not even react was left dumbfounded.
“W-What was that… Just what could possibly!?”
What called her back to reality was the pathetic flustered voice of a man that was neither sarcastic nor uncouth. Although he had the same hair color and eye color as the demon king, his features were relatively delicate. With that pale face of his, he was clearly panicked by the unexpected turn of events.
“This is pathetic, Storr! Even though you were in charge of the security!!”
As the princess’ bloodshot eyes drew near, she unsheathed her sword and thrusted at the delicate man’s neck.
“P-Princess, what are you–!?”
“As the person in charge of the security, I shall have you take responsibility. Should that assassin escape, don’t even think that that neck of yours will still be attached by tomorrow!!”
“N-No! How was I supposed to know that sort of guy would–––“
“Silence, imbecile! This ordeal was your idea. And as a result? Our demon royal family has been shamed before the whole world! Don’t think this could be settled with just your neck… If you don’t want to die, then search for the assassin as if your life depended on it!!”
“Tch– Oi, you bastards! Stop dazing off, and hurry up and find the intruder! Find him and kill him!”
Pressured by the princess’ thundering voice, he took his subordinates and pursued after the assassin. After the princess watched Storr leave, she took her sword and bashed it against a nearby wall. Though weaker than her father, she still managed to tear apart the wall.
“To think I didn’t notice him after getting that close!”
“Elder sister, please don’t destroy the castle just because you’re mad.”
“Shut up! Just what were you doing anyway!?”
“I stopped the broadcast! Though it was only after mostly everything had been broadcasted…”
Why did something like this happen? Frustrated, she bit her lips. This was not a situation they could revert.
The whole world just saw an assassin easily enter the country and attack the king.
To make things worse, most of those who were watching were countries with hostile intentions to begin with.
It’s true that they were also planning to declare war themselves, but being taken advantage of like this was painful
Not to mention, their own people were also watching.
Morale must’ve weakened.
“…Reben, open the line again and connect to the world.”
The demon king solemnly ordered to the discouraged prince and princess.
“Hurry! This is an imperial command!”
Even if he was the demon king’s son, the demon king’s orders remain absolute.
After the connection was restored, the king once again appeared in the ruined balcony.
He called out to the confused crowd.
“Be assured, my people, for I am safe! An assassin sent by the humans could not possibly kill me. Now go! Block the entrance of the castle! Do not let the intruder escape!”
At those words, at that command, the demon race trembled. This is precisely why he is our king, they thought within their hearts. Unyielding to any man, stronger than any other, the strongest man who shall lead us, the strongest king. Having been ordered by such a king, there wasn’t a single one amongst them whose blood did not stir.
“Lord Demon King!!”
“Just as you’d expect from the demon king!”
“Don’t let even a single rat escape!”
They bellowed out a war cry to the king’s commands. And then they gathered together to prevent anyone from leaving the castle.
Seeing the king easily move the horde of demons as if it were nothing, the prince and the princess couldn’t help but bow to his greatness.
“So this is the demon king?” “One day, I too must fulfill that role…”
“I will also go!” The prince exclaimed.
“If we just leave it to Storr, the assassin will definitely escape.” The princess reasoned.
With their new found resolve, the two children left to look for the assassin. The king, however, did not move.
Although it was necessary for him to remain before his people, it was mostly because the events from here on was his responsibility.
This was the last time they would be involved together. It was that sort of contract.
–––––But at the very least, I should at least be free to pray for my friend’s safe return home, right?
As the demon king muttered that within his heart – for just a moment – the demon king faintly smiled.