Naoya had told him, the rhythm of his typing the only indicator of his worry or hesitation.
You don't have to do it. I can find another way. I'll plan around it.
But he'd refused. This wasn't a path of easy ways out. And he'd chosen it of his own free will.
The angels' thunder crashes through him, makes his human nerves crack and scream and his demon senses howl at the alienating wrongness of divine power forcing its way into him. His muscles spasm with the strain of antithesis.
You don't have to lead from the front lines.
But there was no other way, no other right way to do it. If he who had conquered his way to their throne didn't lead them in battle, what right had he to be King? If he who had submitted demonkind to humanity's plight didn't risk his life along with theirs, how could he hope to lead them united against God?
If he who had absorbed the power of all the Bels and merged it with the fierce potential of humanity couldn't withstand God's thunder, who would?
He feels his army around him, their senses and emotions resonating in him with their multitude, almost a hivemind in the emotional crucible of battle. Rage and fear and hunger, horror at seeing their heart striked at. And as the wave of anger rises, he realises that they have accepted him, endorsed him, this human who became one of them through conquest and combat and unwavering emotions.
(Embrace the darkness, Babel had told him before he claimed its power for his own, and he knows now what it means, that in darkness there is no "should," that you protect what you love not because it's the "right" thing to do but because you want to from the bottom of your heart and the deepest of your guts.)
I will lead them, he told Naoya, not for any honour, but because loyalty goes both ways.
The thunder courses through him, but so do the power of thousands of demons and the hopes of humanity.
Drawing his strength from love and hate and everything in between, the Overlord stands.