PHA - Chapter 46 - Everyone Has Been Misled
"Hundred-Year-Old King Abducts Young Girl Into Vacant Bunker. Moral Degenerate?"
The next day, a photo of Flaman and Alice leaving the bunker together circulated all over the internet. Combined with the efforts of independent media, the image quickly made headlines in the demon realm.
In the photo, Flaman's clothes could be seen in a messy state. His face was also pale, and his legs looked weak. One could tell at a glance that he had been hollowed out. Meanwhile, walking beside him was a petite figure that had been heavily censored to protect her identity.
When Flaman found this photo on the internet, although he felt fortunate that the photo's uploader had the decency to hide Alice's identity, he still couldn't help but explode into a flying rage. On the one hand, he was mad that this photo had sullied his reputation. On the other hand, he was mad that someone in the demon realm had the gall to secretly take a photo of him and spread it.
Under normal circumstances, Flaman would've just laughed and thought nothing of this matter. After all, he was the most friendly and reasonable person out of the Four Heavenly Kings. However, now that Alice was captured in the image as well, in the off chance that her identity as the new Demon King got exposed, it could potentially lead to dire consequences.
Just like how the demons had sent assassins after the human realm's Hero, now that the new Demon King had appeared, the human realm would similarly grow alert. To Flaman, Alice was his only hope of taking over the human realm. Although the image circulating on the internet had been heavily censored, and Alice herself looked nothing like a Demon King, he could not afford even the slightest oversight.
"Davis! Find out who took this photo!" Flaman commanded as he angrily slammed his palm onto his desk. "This person must be among those six guards on duty that day if they can take this picture! Find him!"
"No problem." Davis naturally knew that the rumors spreading on the internet were nothing but lies meant to attract attention. Although Flaman was one of the Four Heavenly Kings, he wasn't the type to abuse his power. Not to mention, Alice wasn't somebody Flaman would dare to mess around with. "Once I find the culprit, should I…execute him?"
"No need. At least the guy has the brains to censor out the Demon King. With such heavy censorship, there shouldn't be anyone who can get any useful information out of the picture," Flaman said as he leaned back against his comfy chair. Then, after letting out a dispirited grunt, he continued, "Once you find him, have him plant potatoes!"
"Understood. I'll get it done afterward."
Davis nodded. The sensibility Flaman had just shown was one of the main reasons why Davis had chosen to subordinate himself under Flaman. Flaman was completely different from Ellu Shax, the Acura Kingdom's ruling queen and the Heavenly King of Water. From the rumors Davis heard, Ellu Shax would turn her retainers into puppets whenever she was in a bad mood and mess with them for several months. By the time those retainers returned to their original forms, their mental state would've long since crumbled.
When thinking about the Heavenly King of Water, Davis suddenly remembered that he had something important to report to Flaman, so he said, "By the way, Lord Flaman, the other rulers have sent in a notice stating that they hope to pay you a visit and discuss matters about the newly-appeared Demon King."
"Heh… Those bastards must've caught wind of some information."
Flaman sneered. He naturally knew that the three other Heavenly Kings wouldn't be so bored as to visit him. He was willing to bet that they had caught wind of some information and found out that the new Demon King might be staying at his place. Thus, they were using the excuse of visiting him to meet the new Demon King.
"This can't be helped. There's no hiding the fact that the Young Miss visited Demon King City two days ago. Although it is unlikely for them to know that the Young Miss has brought Lady Alice back with her, if they link the Young Miss's abrupt trip with what had happened in Demon King City, they would probably suspect that the Young Miss had acquired some crucial information during her trip," Davis explained as he pushed against his glasses. "So, should I refuse their request?"
"...What's your opinion on this matter?" Flaman helplessly asked as he massaged his aching temples.
"I recommend that we do not refuse their request as doing so will only further arouse their suspicion. It is no longer a secret that the new Demon King has appeared. Suppose we refuse to share even the slightest bit of information. In that case, it could potentially create the misunderstanding that we hold bad thoughts toward the Demon King," Davis stated his opinion without hesitation.
"Also, I think that even if we are to conceal Lady Alice's existence to the entire demon race, we should still come clean with the other Heavenly Kings and have them cooperate with us in keeping Lady Alice's identity a secret. If we choose to keep this secret to ourselves, we will only cause the other Heavenly Kings to stand against us. In that case, Lady Alice's identity might get exposed to the public amidst the other Heavenly Kings' attempts to investigate the new Demon King's identity."
"It seems that is the only thing we can do." Flaman nodded in agreement with Davis's words. Then, he looked toward the doors of his office and asked, "What do you think, Lady Alice?"
"I got discovered?" The doors parted, and Alice walked in with Heris while scratching her head in embarrassment. "I thought I hid pretty well."
"Hahaha! While I might not be able to withstand even an attack from you when you are using the Demon King's Power, your mana, physique, and concealment technique are far too weak when you are in your normal state." Flaman laughed in a carefree manner. "Well, what do you think of our arrangement, Lady Alice? Going by our plans, you might have to meet the other Heavenly Kings in person. After all, if I unilaterally keep your information secret, it might result in an internal feud between the Four Heavenly Kings. You shouldn't wish to see such an outcome, right?"
…I guess what will come has come. Alice inwardly sighed. Before coming to the demon realm, she was originally scheduled to meet the rulers of the human realm as well. However, she never thought that she would meet with the demon realm's rulers first, even before meeting the human realm's rulers. "I don't have any opinions."
"That's great, then. With the other Heavenly Kings' help, we can be certain that the human realm and most of the demon realm wouldn't find out about your true identity. Also, I have already verified your LINKS account as requested. From now on, you can use your LINKS to publish fake information about your whereabouts to mislead those foolish humans…" Flaman said with a smirk. "...Heh. I doubt they'd ever think that we are posting fake information on the Demon King. In contrast, they're giving us information on the Hero for free."
Alice was momentarily rendered speechless by this situation. The demons and humans both believed that only their side posted fake information while the other was posting real information. Never did they suspect that the other side was posting fake information as well… Although this development was in line with her plans, she still couldn't help but find this situation to be awkward.
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