Today’s Dinner is the Hero. 22



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Volume 1
It’s Surprisingly Comfortable at the Demon Lord’s Castle.

Chapter 22
Not to My Benefactor, But to You: Part 1 (Side Azel)


Before I knew it, the sun was about to set.

The sunlight shining through the window was as red as a flame, and I thought to myself, ‘Ahh, it’s already this late, huh.’ as if it was someone else’s problem.

I didn’t feel the slightest bit of time passing.

Perhaps it was because I was so absorbed in my work that I felt like if I let my mind wander, I would be trapped in irredeemable regret.

The piles of calculation papers, documents, and materials that accumulated were regularly cleaned up by Reisen, and were replaced with new ones.

The plan for the rebuilding of public facilities next fiscal year had been stuck to my desk until I pulled out the low-priority items.

To begin with, even if there were territories, the number of races is small, and this is the demon realm where there is no need to conduct politics as much as the human realm does.

The amount of paperwork that a Demon Lord has to do piles up more than I could accomplish every day.

Inspections, assemblies, diplomacies, etc. I’ve turned them away for tomorrow.

It’s not even the busiest season, but I’m stuck in this confined room.
It’s easy to understand why I’m stubbornly unwilling to do anything but work in the office.

Just how cowardly can I be?
I won’t even bother mocking myself.

If today’s quota gets finished, at this point, I might end up finishing all the work in the room ahead of time.

I didn’t want to leave the room.
If I do, then I might run into Shal.

“Shal”

I stopped brushing at the thought of his name.
I was almost paralyzed, and my muscles were stiff. Feeling mentally exhausted like a sludge, I put down the brush as it is.

I went to see Shal every day, but I didn’t go today. I couldn’t.

After what I’ve done to him, how should I face him when we meet?
Once I get there, I’m sure I’d see my heart being crushed in the room that had become empty.

Just how much effort did it take for me to endure my tears at the thought of it all this time?

I become expressionless whenever I suppress my emotions. The power of my eyes that I normally control also gets triggered unconsciously.

The truth is, I’m not very good at controlling my emotions.

I used to be someone who doesn’t get shaken up easily, but now, when it comes to him… my heart’s sensitivity accelerates to its maximum value without warning.

I’ve been rejected by Shal. He must hate me now. He’s supposed to get out of here. Did he leave, or is he still in here?

I’m so scared. I hated who I was yesterday so much that I’m going crazy with anger.
Aah, how dreadful.

It’s because he was a benefactor.
It’s because he’s a precious person from another world.
It’s because he wasn’t afraid to smile and look at me.

None of these were the right reason, nor were they wrong.

I’m not familiar with the names of the subtleties of emotions and of the heart, so I couldn’t fully grasp what was flowing down my chest, but only a single thought dominated my entire body.

I’m— scared.

Even though I’m a Demon Lord with power stronger than any of the demons, and the object of many fears… The thought of being hated by just one person scares the hell out of me.

—Knock, knock.

Just as I was staring into the air with a blank look on my face thinking about such things, I heard a modest knocking sound.

It was an irritating way to knock on the door.
It might be Reisen, who was continuously exposed to my eyes acting out of control.

“What is it.”

Maybe my heart’s cry of wanting to be left alone took over, but the voice I let loose from my mouth was unintentionally sharp and cold.

It was a piercing, cold way of speaking that had no inflection.
If it’s a lesser demon, or a servant, they’ll get frightened. If it’s Reisen, then he’ll just complain, but that doesn’t matter.

I guess that’s why. There was no answer from the other side of the door, nor did they show any signs of entering.

I didn’t have the patience to wait kindly today, so I stood up, unimpressed, and walked towards the door.

Click.
“If you have any business, get it over… with…”
“Ah… You’re… in the middle of work… Sorry…”

An unexpected visitor’s apologetic voice had reached my ears.

When I opened the door in my impatience, I found a man who was not supposed to come.

No way. Is this a hallucination?

My mental fatigue must’ve been so much that I’m having a convenient vision or dream.

Otherwise, it’s strange. His voice, breathing and presence was as real as could be. Strange.

My brain couldn’t make sense of it, and my hand gripping the knob loosened up and fell.

Creak. The man that came into my view made a sound as he slowly opened the door, and he smelled of sweat, blood, dust, and just a little bit of a refreshing scent.

Why is he here?
No matter what, he would never appear in front of the perpetrator after being treated like that.

My heart was about to burst.
The pounding was shaking my eardrums from within.

If all my five senses are real, they’re going to beat me, but if that’s the case, I’m going to die if I don’t hold my head covering my ears right now.

After all, I’ve hurt Shal badly. Hurting someone you don’t want to be hated by is like being killed by that person.

Humans especially hate that sort of thing, right?
They always have this look as if they want to kill someone they’re terrified of.

But that was about it.
What I’ve done… is just an excuse to tie him down as livestock. It should’ve been just the way it was.

It should’ve been enough to make him hate me.

“Uu…”

It was a violent threat that you’d never do to someone you care about. I have no idea how he came to be in here despite that. I was so confused.

I staggered back a step or two, not knowing how to address him.

Even so, as if trying to restore the distance that had opened up the moment I backed away, Shal slowly and firmly stepped forward.

Slam. The door shut.

I couldn’t meet his eyes, and my strained line of sight drifted unsteadily to his feet.
My trembling lips struggled so hard that I almost bit myself trying to articulate the words.

“Wh-why… are you here…”
“I made a promise with you, didn’t I? Yesterday.”

Yesterday.
Throb. My heart. Aah, it hurts.

My heart throbbed loudly at the thought of my mistake.
An overflowing cold sweat ran down my stiffened cheeks, wondering if words of reproach or of goodbye were to follow.

I didn’t say anything, and Shal’s foot stepped into my view without hesitation.

When I lifted my head, I could see Shal’s arm moving.
—H-he’s going to hit me…!

Rustle.
“……W-wha…?”

I shut my eyes tightly, wanting to deny the reality that the hand that had always been tenderly offered to me was going to hurt me.

However, the tip of my nose was touched by something light, not a fist.


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