After I threw a light tsukkomi at them, Alice continued to talk while moving her gaze towards Aoi-chan and Hina-chan.
[While we're at it, let's make them be a bit more aware…… Kuro-san, I believe you started teaching Sieg-san today, right]
[Eh Unnn, that's right.]
[Then, let me ask you this…… From your point of view, do you think that the current Sieg-san could win a fight against Bell]
As Kuro seemed to think a bit when she heard Alice's words, I felt a little uncomfortable. This is because I was feeling that even if Bell was a strong monster, Sieg-san would probably be a much better fighter.
But when I think about it…… when Eta and Theta attacked back then, Sieg-san defeated Eta. But when the Baron-level, High-ranking Demon Sigma came out afterwards, Alice decided that Sieg-sand Anima couldn't win against him and intervened.
Anima may not have been in perfect condition back then, not having slept or rested for days, but Sieg-san had just a Fruit of the World Tree, and was in almost perfect condition.
And even though she won against Eta, it seems that Eta's basic physical capabilities and magic power were higher than hers. I'm pretty sure Eta and Theta were High-ranking Demons who didn't manage to acquire a Peerage rank, so Sieg-san's combat power must be around that level.
[……I think she can win, but it will be a close one.]
[That's right. I also think so…… So, the three of you must have understood what I was trying to say. Sieg-san was comparatively stronger than the three of you…… and became aware of what it means for someone to be equivalent to the Peerage-holders, right I mean, I'm pretty sure you've gone numb and started misunderstanding things here from being around Kaito-san, but in the first place, High-ranking Demons are just a handful of geniuses in the Demon Realm.]
[That's right. Counting all those who managed to become at least a Baron-rank…… There's only about 50,000 of them, I think]
[There are a little over 40,000 that belong to one of the camps, and about 5,000 that live by themselves, so you're about right.]
Errr, according to what I heard before, the population of the Demon Realm…… Even if you exclude the monsters and only count the Demons, the number would still be over 15 billion. And only 45,000 of those are Peerage holders…… It could certainly be said that there's only a handful of them.
[Well, I guess having this misunderstanding is unavoidable. It's hard to imagine the middle ground when the people around Kaito-san are on the extreme side, and since he hardly knows any Baron or Viscount-rank, you couldn't feel much the difference between those who couldn't become a Peerage-holder from those with strength greater than Count-ranks.]
[Ahh~~ I understand now that you mentioned it.]
[And then, there's that too. There's also the fact that Lilia-san, Lunamaria-san, and Sieg-san are so close to each other often together in a set so it's easy to misunderstand. Of the three of them, only Lilia-san's level is completely different from the others…….]
[Speaking of which, Sieg-san once told me that she could only compete with Lilia-san until she reached 14 years old.]
Well, one of the reasons for this may be the gentleness of Lilia-san's atmosphere…… or rather, it may not be the best way to put it, but one of the reasons may be that I don't feel the aura of a powerful person from her.
No, of course, I understand that Lilia-san is incredibly strong when she fights, but with her being usually friendly, I don't feel any sense of dreadfulness from her. Well, I guess that might also be part of Lilia-san's charm……
[When it comes to talent, Lilia-san could be described as a bug-level genius after all.]
[That's right. I've taught a lot of kids before, but I've only encountered children with talent like Lilia-chan's "6 times".]
[Just now, you were probably thinking "Arehh They're that many", but the people Kuro-san was talking about was the Six Kings, including me, and Ein-san. Ahh, going back to the topic…… but before that, I remembered a few things with the conversation earlier. Kaito-san, can you call Eta-san and Theta-san for a minute]
[Eh Ahh, alright.]
Titling my head at the suddenness of the situation, I sent a hummingbird to Eta and Theta.
[It might be redundant to say this…… but the Peerage-ranks are targets of admiration even in the Demon Realm. After all, once you've been recognized as such, you could say that your future is guaranteed. Even if you become a subordinate under one of the Six Kings, you are guaranteed a good position, and there are also plenty of other places that will welcome you with good treatment. But for that reason, there is a very thick wall between the High-ranking Demons and the Peerage-holders. There are a lot of people who have failed to get over this wall.]
[……Is that also the same case for Eta and Theta]
[Yes, those two were also among those that were held back by that wall. That setback caused them to stop looking up, becoming content with looking down on those who were lower than them. It was at that time that they met Kaito-san~~ Well, now that their warped conceit was broken, they've loosened up regarding this matter.]
Now that she mentioned it, I did kind of felt like Eta and Theta were somewhat tense when I first met them…… As if they were frustrated by something. Perhaps, it was just a short while ago that they were overwhelmed by the wall of Peerage-ranks.
As I was thinking about this, I heard footsteps and saw Eta and Theta coming towards me. They looked shocked for a moment when they saw Kuro and Alice, before bowing towards them, and then bowing again towards me.
[I'm sorry to keep you waiting, Master.]
[Is there something we could help with…… desu.]
[Ahh, no, it's not me who's looking for you, but Alice……]
[ [ Phantasmal King-sama ] ]
Tilting their heads in wonder upon my words, they then looked back towards Alice.
[Yes, I asked Kaito-san to call you here. I was actually going to have my subordinates tell you later, but since I remembered about this just now…… And thus, both of you, come over here for a moment.]
[ [ Y- Yes! ] ]
Upon hearing Alice's words, Eta and Theta walked in front of her, clearly frightened, and bowed their heads and got down on one knee.
……Ahh, I see…… From our conversation so far, I can guess what Alice has called them for. I can also predict that this would be good news for the both of them.
However, when the two of them were suddenly summoned by Alice, the Phantasmal King, the first thing that may have come to their mind was the question of whether "they had done something wrong"…… and they were probably thinking that Alice was angry at them.
[Well, it's not that big of a deal…… Eta-san, Theta-san.]
[ [ Hahh! ] ]
[I have deemed that you two have reached a certain standard of ability. Thus, I hereby certify you as "Baron-level, High-ranking Demons".]
[ [ ……………………………..Eh ] ]
When Alice declared in a somewhat nonchalant manner, Eta and Theta froze, as if time had stopped. It feels like their minds weren't able to keep up with the words they've suddenly heard.
[Well then, that's the end of my business with you two.]
I'm not really sure if she should really be that nonchalant with something as important as this, but the Peerage system certainly is just a means to make it easier for Alice to manage information. I heard that there is no particular certificate given or anything like that, so the process of designating someone as a Peerage-holder might really be something like this.
When Alice looked away from them, looking as if their minds finally caught up with the situation, Eta and Theta's shoulders trembled before they looked at each other. There were tears in their eyes.
[……Theta…… W- We……]
[Unnn…… We're finally…… Baron-rank……]
They were so overcome with emotion to speak properly, but soon after, they vigorously hugged each other.
[We did it! Finally! We're finally…… Baron-rank!!!]
[Unnn! I'm glad, really glad……]
Perhaps, because Alice had just mentioned how the two of them had once been blocked by the wall of Peerage-ranks in the past, seeing the two of them with tears of joy in their eyes makes my eyes moistened up as well.
In fact, both of them had been training every day while working as maids, and it was deeply moving to think that their efforts had paid off.
[……Congratulations, you two.]
[ [ Masteeeeeeer! ] ]
[Uwoooohhh! Wait, both of you calm down……]
As soon as I called out to them, they vigorously jumped to hug me. How should I say this…… Eta is usually very imperious, while Theta is cool and calm, and it's really rare for these two to get emotional like this outside of a fight.
That's how much being a Peerage-holding, High-ranking Demon means to them.
I got a little sidetrack from the conversation regarding Aoi-chan and Hina-chan wanting to become adventurers, but it was nice to see them really happy.
Serious-senpai : [I'm just curious, which one is stronger: Sieg or Lunamaria]
: [There isn't that big of a strength difference between them, but overall, I'd give the victory to Lunamaria-san here. Lunamaria-san is an all-rounder with lots of cards to draw, and she also has her trump card of being able to dramatically increase her overall ability by drinking blood. In contrast, Sieg-san may be an excellent knight overall, but her lack of a decisive offensive move is an issue. Well, she herself is aware of this, and that's why she was feeling powerless the most among their trio……]
Serious-senpai : [Speaking of which, wasn't it mentioned that she's going for a different strengthening route than in the Light Novel I wonder how she'll be strengthened……]
: [Based on Kuro-san's guidance, she would be referred to Funf-san and her words about having m……. Alice-chan as her goal…… I'd guess she'd be a technique type who uses her speed and dexterity to fight close physical combat.]-