11.0 Candela_Chapter 2: Queen’s Gambit

Void Ray!

A beam shot out of my hand towards the giant spider monster hanging in the branches above. It didn’t even get a chance to cry out before its head was pierced by the beam. Strangely, no blood flowed out from the hole in the monster’s head, even when it fell onto the ground with a loud thud!

Ping!

Ah, I leveled up again! Finally hit level 200. Can’t stay here for much longer, it’s getting tougher to raise my level in this forest.

I walked away from the monster’s corpse, thinking about the week I had spent here. Although I could only hide and pick off the smaller monsters for the first couple of days, I’d soon become strong enough to hunt most of the monsters in the forest.

After all, this was the world of my favorite game, so I remembered all the spells and their effects. Besides, I always chose the demon lord route anyways so I knew exactly how it worked.

If I remember correctly, level 200 was good enough to beat the main story-line but I should probably aim for at least level 300, since the secret bosses are insanely strong.

And then I’ll go claim my army!

Iya ha ha ha!

…It’s a good thing I only laugh inside my head…

A young man stood on a balcony. His long black hair flew in the air as a gentle breeze brushed by. At the moment, the young man’s deep blue eyes were gazing off into the distance. His face was a sculpture; perfectly crafted and devoid of all emotion. Thus, although he looked like he was barely twenty years old, he gave off the air of a great scholar or sage.

Suddenly, there was a loud boom in the distance. The young man frowned and turned his gaze towards the sound. Just as he moved closer to the edge of the balcony someone knocked on the door outside his room.

“Come in,” he said.

“Sir! I apologize for disturbing you so late at night, but someone just smashed through the city gates!” said a knight wearing a set of steel armor, as she saluted him.

The man frowned. The city gates were enhanced with magic and protected by the elite guard, destroying them was no easy feat.

There was another loud boom, even closer this time. The knight ran out into the hallway. There were a few crashes, groans, and cries of pain before everything went quiet. The young man still stood on the balcony but his gaze was locked onto the door which the knight had left open. A figure clad in swirling black robes slowly walked into the room.

“I am the Demon General Azoth. I would ask who you are but I already know,” the young man said as he kneeled.

The figure observed the kneeling young man, but didn’t respond. The clouds covering the moon shifted, bathing the room in silver moonlight.

Azoth looked up and saw a young, expressionless face. He realized that the face belonged to someone even younger than he did but what surprised him even more was that this person’s face was impenetrable. He couldn’t glean the tiniest bit of information from it.

“Welcome, oh great Demon Lord,” he said, bringing his gaze to the floor.

The dark robed teenager didn’t respond, but when Azoth raised his head to look at him again, a shiver went down his spine. Even though his face remained expressionless, for some reason, Azoth felt as if he was smiling.

I sat on a chair at the end of a large oval shaped table. Eight people surrounded the longer, curved sides of the table and on the opposite end facing me sat the man who had introduced himself as Demon General Azoth.

“Your majesty, on behalf of your loyal citizens and the Ministry, I once again congratulate you on your safe arrival,” said a tall, bald headed knight wearing a set of glistening black armor.

“It is truly fortunate that His Majesty managed to reach us safely, the previous demon lords all died mysterious and untimely deaths, leaving us at the mercy of the hero. In fact, if it wasn’t for the oracles informing us of their deaths, we would have assumed that the demon lords were not being summoned anymore,” said the fat mustachioed man to my right.

They know that the demon lords get summoned but they claim to not know how they keep dying. Didn’t that annoying voice say that most of the previous demon lords were killed by the demon army?

“Now that our liege has arrived, we can finally return the favor to those filthy Light kingdom savages!” spat the middle aged woman on my left.

“Long live the demon lord!”

“Lead us to victory sire!”

“Crush the hero!”

The people on the sides of the table started cheering and shouting.

“Sire, we have prepared a report on the state of the army and we can have them ready to set out in a fortnight,” said the old white haired lady sitting beside the bald, dark armored knight as she placed a file in front of me.

“With His Majesty leading us, how could we possibly fail?”

“Those savages will regret challenging us!”

“We can finally avenge our fallen comrades!”

“All hail His Majesty the demon lord!”

They cheered again.

Lead the army? Do they want me to fight on the front lines or something? Do they want to get me killed or are they just incredibly stupid?

I mentally frowned. At first I was surprised by how the Demon Lord’s long absences and untimely deaths had led the people of the kingdom to form the democratically elected “Ministry,” and I was sure the Ministry had something to do with the previous Demon Lords’ deaths but these people were far too stupid to be a threat to anyone but a hot-blooded battle junkie.

I raised my hand a little and they all stopped cheering. I smiled inside my head and Azoth on the other end flinched.

Interesting, it’s like he can see my smile even though I’m only smiling inside my head. Well, I guess there’s no point in hiding it then.

A small grin broke out on my face again and this time they all flinched. I picked up the report and tore it straight down the middle.

“M-my lord, was it not to your liking? I’ll immediately compile a new one-” said the old woman but I raised my hand and she stopped. I swept my gaze over them.

Now, I’m sure. These guys are just a bunch of stupid politicians.

I stared at Azoth on the other end of the table. I nodded, indicating that he should speak. He hesitated then said, “My Lord, I believe the best course of action for now would be for you to leave to a safe place.”

Oh? Concerned for my safety, are you? I frowned.

“I meant no disrespect of course, I am certain that you possess the strength to protect yourself but the previous demon lords were strong as well. Yet, they died and we don’t know who or what killed them. Therefore, it would be wise for you to hide and increase your strength, sire.”

This is confusing. If I become stronger, wouldn’t I be an even greater threat to his power? Does he only wish to retain his power for a little longer, perhaps intending to prepare for a way to deal with me upon my return? Or does he plan to get rid of me when I’m out of the public eye? Just another demon lord dying an unfortunate death.

I grinned again and Azoth’s face paled. I pointed at him.

“Play with me.”

I raised my hand and brought it back down onto the board. “d4.”

Azoth frowned as he gazed at the pawn I had just moved.

“I’m surprised you have chess in this world though,” I said, looking at him while crossing my legs underneath the short table.

“Yes, it was derived from a defensive mechanism in the original demon lord’s castle.”

“Oh, I thought that might be the case. I’ve always wanted to play chess on a giant board like that, is it still around?”

“No, although it was a death trap, it was a terrible defensive mechanism. The first hero just smashed through it and we never saw the point in fixing it afterwards.”

“Pity, I wanted our game to be grander. After all, you’re the first person I’ve spoken to in years.”

Apart from an annoying voice that spoke inside my head of course, I thought.

“I am flattered.”

“Sure you are.” I smirked.

He finally moved his hands, hovering above a pawn before picking it up and placing it in front of mine.

“c4”

My fingers started tapping on the table.

“So what do you think I intend to do here?”

“Lead the army to crush the Holy Union or set out to conquer a dungeon?”

“Oh? And why do you think I would do something so dangerous?”

Azoth frowned. “Your Majesty, that is what most of the demon lords have done in the past. After all, the hero’s growth is supposed to start slowly but become much faster than your own later on. It is therefore advisable for you to set out to increase your power quickly and crush the Light Kingdom before the hero becomes more formidable.”

I looked at him but his face was unreadable.

“Tell me Azoth, why must we go to war?” I said.

He gave me a confused look before replying, “For the same reason the people of the Dusk Alliance cannot harm you nor disobey your commands, sire. It is Fate.”

“Fate?” I frowned. “I’m surprised that someone as smart as you would say something so irrational. I for one, like to make my own fate.”

I moved another piece on the board.

“d5.”

He stared at me pensively.

“Your Majes-”

“And stop it with the Your Majesty crap. Call me Runir, Runir Candela.”

“Very well Yo- Runir, it seems that the ancient documents were correct. The people of your world are not confined by Fate the way we are. For us, Fate is an inviolable existence that binds us all to our positions and roles. Much like this game.” He gestured towards the chess board. “The pieces move at the behest of the player, each unable to escape the shackles of their role. Even the strongest of us are just pieces.”

“I see. And how does this analogy explain your hatred of me?” I leaned closer to him.

“Hatred? No Y- Runir, I do not hate you. After all, you’re just the Queen. A powerful piece yes, but a piece nonetheless.”

“Oh, I’m the Queen? Well then, who’s the King?”

“The Goddess, of course.” He said, leaning back in his chair.

“The Goddess?” I frowned. “I assumed she was the player.”

“Sadly no. She is at once the most powerful and the most restricted piece on the board. Most of the population believes that the Goddesses made this world and that the wars are a result of their internal arguments. But the ancient documents state otherwise. The Goddesses are mere pieces as well.”

“…I see. But that begs the question, who is the player then?”

“That would be Fate. Fate prevents the Goddesses from killing humans or interfering in our wars. Fate compels the hero and the demon lord to fight each other to the death. And Fate prevents those who wish to prevent war and needless bloodshed from doing what must be done to stop it.”

“And what must be done to stop the wars?”

“Kill the hero and the demon lord of course. Well, the hero isn’t compelled to go to war, they are merely compelled to defeat the Demon Lord, so perhaps killing them isn’t necessary. One would also have to eradicate the royal families of each of the kingdoms to really stop the war, but the demon lord, they must die for peace.”

“I see. Do you know how the other demon lords died?”

“The earliest demon lords died in battle, mostly at the hands of the hero. Some were assassinated while a few committed suicide. The last twenty-three, however, died mysterious deaths that even I am not aware of.”

“Does Fate prevent you from lying to me?”

“Yes, no human from the Dusk Alliance can betray you, even to the extent of a lie.”

“Ah that reminds me! Why do we call ourselves the Demon army or the Demon general and so on, when we’re all just ordinary humans? Wouldn’t it help our public image if we were called the Justice army or something?”

“Fate compels us-”

“Yeah, yeah. Fate. Well Fate shouldn’t be a problem in my case.”

“What do you mean?”

I grinned. “I’m going to focus on governing the kingdom for now.”

“Your Ma-Runir, I don’t think you understand. The demon lord’s Fate is to conquer the Holy Union or die trying. You cannot resist Fate-”

I raised my hand to silence him. “I never said I wasn’t going to conquer the Holy Union. I just don’t want to fight a long, bloody war. You see, in my world, wars aren’t fought by large armies running into each other on a plain. No, it’s time for some modern warfare.” I grinned. “Your move.”

We considered each other for a moment. Then he moved his pawn to d5, toppling my piece with a flick.

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