#Zhongchi Villainess Au part 7 (They finally meet!) When Ajax reaches the village, he senses the presence of someone he is familiar with during Childe's days in the Academy. Ajax calmly makes his way through the village, greeting the demonfolks.

Many stopped what they were doing to come and greet him. The children all flock around Ajax. "Lord Ajax is back!" "Lord Ajax, welcome back!" "I'm back, I hope that everyone is safe and healthy," Ajax crouches down to the children's eye level "How is everything in the village?"

"The bridge you commissioned us to build coming along nicely, we only need to add some finishing touches," The project overseer, Yanfei, gives Ajax a report. "That's wonderful to hear, with the bridge complete, you guys should have easier access to the main town," Ajax takes

a look "Trading should be easier from now on." "Lord Ajax, look at this, we drew this together in class yesterday!" Xiangling shows Ajax a drawing, "We drew you here in the middle and everyone else around you!" "That's a very cute and heart-warming picture, I

shall hang it in my study, so I can see it every day," "Lord Ajax, while you were away, someone came looking for you, sir Alhaitham and sir Kaveh introduced him as your acquaintance from the Capital," Yanfei also reports "Since we don't know what to do,

we didn't let him stay near the village, so he has been staying in the town but came here every day to ask your whereabouts." Just as Yanfei finished, said acquaintance, who is also the familiar presence Ajax has sensed earlier, appears and walks toward Ajax. "Lord Ajax,

it has been a while," He greets. "It's certainly been some times, senior Thoma," Thoma Scutum, the second son of a Viscount, and the fiance of Duke Kamisato's heir, Kamisato Ayato. He is one year older than Ajax and was hand-picked by the Queen to serve as her assistant

while still a student. Since serving the Queen, Thoma often visits different towns inside the nation or visits other countries for diplomatic purposes, so he rarely appears on campus. In the Game, Thoma first appears as a minor antagonist in the Kamisato Ayato's route,

and later on, also got his engagement broken, but since his ability as a diplomat is high value, Thoma didn't suffer as much as Ajax. He later became an NPC and could be found in the Royal Palace. Before Lumine appeared, Thoma and his fiancee, Ayato, share a good relationship,

while there was not much love between them, the two respected each other's company. And if Lumine never appeared, Childe had believed that the two would share a calm and peaceful marriage. But then Lumine appeared, and Ayato was charmed by her.

"I'm glad to see you're doing well too, this village is looking great." "Thank you. So, to what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you here in this humble place?" Ajax doesn't sense any ill intention from Thoma, and according to the information that his spider familiars

had gathered, the chance that he's here as a spy is extremely low. But Ajax can't rule out the possibility, after all, Thoma is loyal to the Royal Family. Ajax doesn't hold any grudge against Thoma since he wasn't charmed by Lumine and has done nothing against Ajax.

This is because he had only met Lumine a few times before that sow started using the Love Potion and Charm Perfume excessively. Not long after Lumine's admission, Thoma was assigned a diplomatic mission abroad for almost a year, so he wasn't around when everything happened.

Still, Ajax can't allow Thoma to wander around the village as he pleases until Ajax can know Thoma's full intention. "Lord Ajax," Thoma says with a serious face "I came here today since I have something extremely important I wish to ask you." "? Please speak...?"

All of a sudden, Thoma kneels on one knee and takes Ajax's hand: "Please, let me become your knight." "...Huh?" -A few months prior- Thoma just completed his diplomatic mission and was ready to return to the Capital when he received the news. His junior and close friend,

Ajax Tartaglia got his engagement broken, was expelled from the Academy, and exiled to his family's fief. Hearing the news, Thoma immediately rushed back to the Capital and questioned his fiancee. "What's the meaning of this, Ayato?! What happened when I was away?!

Young Lord Ajax's engagement was broken off, and he was even expelled?!" "He was jealous of Lumine, so he tried to murder her, we have proof," Ayato testified "And after uncovering even more evidence that he had done other shady things, Diluc decided to call off the engagement."

"That perfect Ajax?! That's impossible! Why would he be jealous of that weird girl in the slightest?!" "Don't talk about her like that, Thoma. Lumine is the Saintess of Purification, she is the most charming and friendly person in the world..."

What the hell is his fiancee talking about...? Thoma immediately started his own investigation. He looked into each piece of evidence and questioned the students who testified against Ajax. He even investigated Lumine and the people she'd surrounded herself with to try and

discern her true nature. Finally, Thoma came to Snezhnaya to find out the truth from the supposed culprit himself, Ajax. Thoma had heard about Snezhnaya before, he knew that the fief was a land filled with dungeons and monsters roaming in the wild, making it practically barren.

Thoma even passed by the fief during his most recent diplomatic mission and confirmed what he had known about it. But to his surprise, when he finally visited it again to find Ajax, the fief has changed so much, from a barren wasteland to a land riches in agriculture and

happy citizens. To think that it's been developed so much in the span of just a few months... -Flashback- "I've finally got the chance to meet you, senior Thoma, it's an honor to make your acquaintance." "Welcome to the Student Council, Young Lord Ajax,"

Thoma's first impression of Ajax was that he was a handsome (beautiful) and elegant noble youth, befitting his title. Since then, Thoma has gotten to see more of Ajax's true nature. A youth filled with determination to protect everything he holds dear,

someone who tries harder than everyone else, and someone who people can only look up to with admiration. A beautiful soul so pure and so noble that elevated him above all the rest. -End of Flashback-

And this village that he has built proves that he is still the Ajax that Thoma had always admired. There is no more investigation needed, Thoma believes in Ajax.

"From the reports sent back to the Royal Family's investigation, and just from asking the villagers and townspeople in your fief; Even though everyone betrayed you, apparently you aren't seeking revenge on them at all. And instead, you dedicated yourself to building a place

where people who were left behind by society can live in dignity and peace." Thoma smiles "Hearing and seeing everything, I realized that I too, want to be a part of this process and help you." "Senior Thoma... Just knowing that there's still someone who believes in me

is enough to make me happy, but..." Ajax hesitantly says "You're a son of a Viscount, assistant to Her Majesty, and Lord Ayato's fiancee... How could I ask you to..." "Oh, you don't need to worry about that," Thoma smiles even brighter "I already broke that stupid engagement off

and left my family. I even receive a formal discharge from Her Majesty." "T-that can't be?! Even your title and family name?!" Ajax admits he has miscalculated. He never thought that Thoma would throw everything away just to come here. "There's no need to worry about it,

I'm completely fed up with Ayato and those idiots at the Academy. I don't have any attachment to a family that tried to marry their child to some piece of scum just so they could grow a connection to the Prime Minister and put their hand in the country's politics." "You know,

Young Lord Ajax, it really touches me, I've been to so many places all over the world for my job as her Majesty's assistant and diplomat, but I've never seen a village as happy as this one" Thoma admits "On my name and honor, instead of a foolhardy country

that would squander you, I'd rather dedicate my loyalty to you, Young Lord Ajax, someone who truly cares for his people." And Ajax smiles: "Thank you, your word was very touching and reassuring, I suppose I will be relying on you from now on, my knight."

The fact that Thoma's willing to dedicate his loyalty to Childe's 'Ajax', leads Ajax to believe he is truly trustworthy. Even more, Thoma has personally looked into things himself, so he should have had a clear understanding of Lumine's true nature. With how popular Thoma is

in the aristocratic world, the ladies and youths who secretly have a crush on him will likely be backing him up, and it will not take long for them to recognize Lumine's true nature themselves. "So big brother is gonna be Lord Ajax's knight?!" The children suddenly appeared

behind the bushes."That sound so dreamy!" "I also want to have a knight!" "I want to be a knight too! Then I can also become Lord Ajax's knight!" "Oh my, you kids shouldn't be eavesdropping, you know." "It wasn't just us~!"

Aside from the children, a few adults were also lying behind the bushes, clearly hearing the whole conversation. When he first returns to his body, Ajax was initially wary of every human. But now that Lumine has clearly run out of those Items, he probably won't need to be

on guard all the time around them. "Speaking of which, there should be a spare room in my mansion if you'd like to stay there," "Oh, a room in your mansion? Sure, I'll move my things in right away." "Also, if you need anything, the village chief opens a shop near the

village center, he also takes requests if something you want isn't available." "Of course, thanks for the information!" "Big brother, we'll show you around!" "The center is this way!" With Thoma being led away by the children, Ajax decides to go visit Baizhu for a full report.

"Welcome back, Lord Ajax," Baizhu and his pet, Changsheng, greet him "Here is the report of what'd happened while you were away. These are the summary of the information on the newly arrived human orphans, and these are the detailed process of the newly completed products

and those still in the development process." "Thank you," "At first, we adults weren't sure about how your plan to bring in human children would go. But to our surprise, the demon children were the ones actively welcome and take care of them, helping them adjust well here."

"I see, they truly are wonderful children." "Please be sure to praise them for it later, it will probably send them to fly over the moon." "I believe you over-exaggerated," "No, not at all, I'm merely telling the truth." Baizhu jokes "Other than that, you've already seen the

newly built bridge. As you instructed, the application we officially sent to the government stated that the bridge and the reservoir built with it will be used for 'small-scale agriculture." "Thank you very much. Right now, it's imperative that the government doesn't realize

the true development scale of this land." "Ah yes, speaking of the government, my friends in the capital just sent me the news that the place where I used to open my shop was raided as part of an investigation into illegal drugs. It's most fortunate that I've listened

to your suggestion and left that place before everything happened." "Ah yes, about that... I've actually been looking into this matter myself, and it turns out..." Ajax hesitantly replies "The Saintess of Purification was the one who initiated the investigation.

She wanted to find and lock you up for her personal use." "Huh?" "She must've grown impatient after running low on those favorability-increasing products of yours. My guess is that after you're arrested, she was going to conspire with the guards and charged you with

some kind of crime as an excuse to lock you up. Once she's got you confined somewhere she wanted you to be, she'll force you to continuously manufacture those products for her in secret." Baizhu and Changsheng had developed goosebumps all over them.

"Son of a... I always assumed that she was just another ordinary customer, I never imagined that woman would actually try and enslave someone... What a terrifying bitch!" Ajax says nothing more. There was already disquiet in the Capital, as Baizhu's customers,

who had been using his products for hair growth and weight loss, have been searching all over for news of his whereabouts. And Ajax took the opportunity to spread the news that Lumine was the one who started the investigation into illegal drugs. Once those nobles heard

about the news, they'll all hold a grudge against her. Piece by piece, Ajax is arranging the entire chess board toward his victory. There are no set conversation events or reply choices in the real world. Now that Lumine's running out of Items, it's nearly impossible for her

to get close to anyone using her 'own charm'. Moreover, so long as Ajax continues to keep the world peaceful, she won't have the pretext needed to start adventuring. So it's impossible for her to even meet with the people she was meant to become friends with during the courses

of the Game. In other words, that wretched tramp won't be able to win over any new allies ever again. "I'm just glad to know that you're safe, Baizhu." "But I have to make sure to properly repay you for this, somehow." "It's fine,

after all, I did everything up till now for my personal purpose as well." "Even so, it's important for me as a merchant to settle my debts, it's a matter of credibility." "That's true, you're still a merchant first and foremost. In that case, could I perhaps trouble you with

a single request of mine?" "If it's within my power, I will get it for you, milord." "Actually, there was someone I'd like you to help me arrange a meeting with." "Arrange a meeting?" Baizhu is a bit confused "I don't believe I have any important acquaintance

other than you, Lord Ajax." Ajax smiles, and threw out a bomb: "I would like to meet your ruler, the Demon Lord." "Hah?" Ajax continues to smile. "E-even if it's you, Lord Ajax, that's a bit..." "Is it a bit much to ask?" "..." Baizhu's expression is enough to convey his thoughts

"How about this, the affliction that has plagued Demonfolk for centuries, the 'Erosion', I may just have a solution for it." Ajax drops another bomb "What if I told you that?" "...Please, could you tell me more about that?" Baizhu's expression turned into a mixture of doubt

and desperation. A few days later, Ajax receives news that he had secured an audience with the Demon Lord Morax. Firstly, he teleported to a storehouse close to the Castle in the Demon Realm where Baizhu and other merchants usually replenish their stocks from. He is met with

a female Demon with blue hair and horns. "Lord Ajax, I presume? To think that a human could have such a rare teleportation ability, and to use it to travel to the Demon Realm nonetheless," The Demon greets Ajax "My apologize for the late introduction, I am Ganyu, and I will be

your guide to the Castle. Please hand all the weapons you have on to me." Ganyu leads Ajax through the castle. The castle was in a terrible state of disrepair, so terrible that it could have fallen into ruin at any moment. Such a state clearly shows the dire situation of the

Demon Realm, where even a simple and pertinent management matter is a major obstacle. "Please wait here," Ganyu tells Ajax, who proceeds to kneel on one knee and lower his head. Ajax can hear multiple footsteps entering the throne room, two go to stand next to Ganyu,

and one goes straight up to him. "Raise your head, O' Son of human." A deep voice speaks up "I have heard your story from Baizhu, that you know of a solution to 'Erosion'... Is it true?" Nothing should have surprised Ajax, considering how often he looks at his own face.

But even Ajax must admit that he was stunned by the beauty of this man in front of him. So this is the Demon Lord, Morax. "May I have permission to speak, Your Majesty?"

(Note: Thoma's last name, Scutum, is from his Constellation, Rubeum Scutum) (Finally, they've met! And that's also the end of part 7! Please look forward to part 8 and chapter 3 on Ao3 this week! As always, please feed me with your comments)

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