15.0 Grayscale_Chapter 3: Shade

The sun was out but the trees covered the sky, casting long shadows on the ground. I stood in the shade and the dark robed guy stood under the sunlight. I stared at him, cursing inwardly when he called me Ms. Hero.

If he knows who I am then he’s stronger than me, I thought, quickly calming down.

There was no need to be afraid. I’d dealt with stronger guys before so I knew exactly what to do.

Rule 1: Don’t break eye contact. You don’t wanna miss a punch or something. I met his dark brown eyes with mine.

Rule 2: Always be ready to jump back and start running, in case they’re crazy, perverted, or stupid. I shifted my weight and pressed down on the ground.

Rule 3: Be ready to defend yourself in case they jump at you too fast. Maybe kick some dirt in their eyes or…

The ground was wet and grassy so there was no loose dirt to kick.

…kick their nuts.

He stepped forward. I took aim. He stopped.

Damn it, did he find out? Won’t work if he’s expecting it. Gotta distract him.

“Hey uh, are you sure you aren’t confusing me with someone else?” I said.

“No, Ms. Lilith Grayscale. You are most definitely the Hero,” he replied indifferently.

Fuck, he really does know. I took a deep breath and lifted my chin at him.

“Fine then. Since you know that I’m the hero, you better stop stalking me, you creepy stalker!” I said confidently.

“Creepy stalker? But I’m not-” he said, flustered.

I inwardly grinned because I’d finally broken his poker face.

“Look, I’m busy right now. I have important hero stuff to do. Tell you what, send me a letter when I’m done and I’ll give you an autograph for free. Sound good? Okay, bye!” I waved at him while slowly taking a few steps back, but never took my eyes off him.

He stared at me and I saw some confusion in his eyes. He seemed a lot less scary now that his facade had been broken. He looked at me for a little longer before he smirked, chuckled and turned around.

“Oh well, guess it can’t be helped. I’ll just send you a letter when I find the way back home,” he said, as he started walking away.

“What did you say?” I said.

“Oh? I said I’ll send you a letter.” He stopped but didn’t turn around.

Jerk. I thought, as I bit my lip. But if what I heard was true…

“Are you an earthling too?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

I waited for him to continue but he just started walking again.

Asshole!

“Hey wait! I just remembered that I have to find a way back to Earth. To… um beat the Demon Lord!” I said, as confidently as I could.

“Oh? How does that work?” He chuckled.

“Well um…” I stammered. “…that’s a secret!” I finished lamely.

Fuck! I broke his composure but he regained it way too quickly. Gotta steer this conversation somewhere else.

“Anyways, I’ve never heard of any Earthlings being summoned here except for the hero and the demon lord. So unless you’re the Demon Lord-” A sharp pain stabbed my chest, along with the urge to fire off my strongest skill.

He still hadn’t turned around and for a moment I couldn’t help thinking this was a good thing. It made it easier to drive my knife into his back.

“No, I am not the demon lord,” he replied calmly, as if he didn’t notice my growing killing intent. “If I was, I would have killed you right away. You must have realized that I’m stronger than you? Besides-” He held his arm out to the side and a few drops of water started falling from it. “I’m a Water mage. Although I have absolutely no talent in magic.”

The pain in my chest faded a little. “The hero and the demon lord can use all types of magic to an extent. This doesn’t prove anything.”

“True. However, why would the demon lord come to the middle of the Light kingdom?” he asked, still facing his back towards me.

“I don’t know, to gather intel? Maybe kill the hero before she’s strong enough to beat you?”

“Well, I suppose I can’t reason my way out of this. I’ll just have to tell you.”

The pain in my chest intensified and I unconsciously reached for the knife hanging around my waist.

Fuck! He really is –

“The Demon Lord is dead.”

“What?”

“It was announced about a month ago in the Dark Kingdom but it took a while to reach the Southern continent. I only found out because I happened to meet a merchant from the North. The demon lord died under mysterious circumstances, just like the past twenty or so Demon Lords. So rest assured, Ms. Hero, I am not the Demon Lord,” he explained, finally turning around and flashing his creepy smile at me.

I felt numb for a second as the pain in my chest suddenly dissipated. Then something else vanished too; a vague purpose or goal that I had kept in the back of my mind. A little part of me had wanted to kill the demon lord. Had wanted to be the hero.

But now I didn’t have any reason to stay in this world. I had no excuse to stay here anymore. But I didn’t want to go back. Because going back meant facing Dusty. I’d tried to avoid thinking about him because every time I did, a frenzy of emotions overtook me and made my head hurt.

After my mother died, no one had cared about me at all. The strangers I begged from, the policemen who shoved me away from the richer parts of town, and the other beggars on the street – none of them cared.

But Dusty was different. He was the first one to talk to me after I came to the orphanage. He cared enough to do so. He introduced me to the other kids, let me play with them. He played pranks on me so I got mad and whacked him with the old lady’s stick. And then the old lady whacked me for messing around with her stick. He was with me when we made our first heist, after the orphanage started running low on money.

We did everything together. We always had each other’s back. He’d been my friend. My best friend. Maybe more than that.

I still didn’t know if it was true though. The shopkeeper could have been lying. But if he wasn’t, meeting Dusty again was not something I looked forward to.

So I had been trying to put off the question. Trying to avoid the decision. Did I really want to know if Dusty had betrayed me? Did I really want to go back and find out? But now there were no excuses. There was no demon lord to vanquish. The only demons left were my own.

“So,” he said, snapping me out of my thoughts. “Do you want to go home?”

I paused.

“Maybe.”

He looked at me, frowning at my response. “Well, why don’t we look for a way back first. You can decide on the way. Does that sound good to you?”

“Fine.” I nodded. “Where do we start?”

“I don’t know,” he said, smiling.

“Then what the fuck are we supposed to do?” I asked, the corners of my eyes twitching.

“Why, we go ask someone who does know, of course!” His smile grew wider.

“And who would that be?” I asked.

“A Goddess!” he exclaimed.

I paused and thought about what he’d said. The Goddesses might know about a way back to Earth, but why would they tell us? After all, they were the ones who brought us here in the first place.

Well, it’s not like I’ve got any better ideas.

“Alright, but how are we gonna find one?” I asked.

“We can visit a shrine, perhaps. The Light Goddess’ shrine isn’t open to the public, so there’s no point in going there. However, the Fire Goddess does receive visitors and it’s fairly close by, maybe a couple of weeks on foot, I’d say.”

The Fire Goddess?

“Alright. Let’s do that.” I nodded.

“Great! We should stop by Fohil and grab some supplies first, and maybe buy a carriage if we can scrape together enough money,” he said.

I grinned. “Perfect. You take care of the supplies, and I’ll acquire a carriage.”

He blinked a few times and looked at me with an uneasy expression but then shrugged it off and started laughing.

“Interesting, very interesting. At least I won’t be bored on this trip, Ms. Hero,” he said, flashing his annoying smile again.

“Stop calling me Ms. Hero, you already know my name! Call me Lily!” I exclaimed.

“Iya ha- ahem. Very well, Lily.” He coughed.

What the fuck was that? I thought, feeling slightly…weird.

He started walking down the road.

“Hey! You’re supposed to introduce yourself too!” I said, angrily.

“Oh? I apologize, it completely slipped my mind.” He turned around.

He doesn’t look sorry at all!

I glared at him. He smirked.

“My name is-”

“Found you!” A loud shout interrupted him.

What the…?

I turned towards the voice.

A large ball of fire was shooting through the air, coming straight towards us. I stood still, mouth agape, until the heat from the incoming meteor snapped me out of it.

Shit! Gotta get outta the way!

I looked at the dark robed guy in front of me, but he was just as surprised as I was.

“Run!” he shouted, but I was already ahead of him.

We ran as fast as we could, but the fiery meteor kept following us.

“Stop!” it yelled.

Hell no!

We kept running, but the fireball kept getting closer. The air getting hotter, and a sizzling sound filled my ear. I didn’t dare look back. That guy looked at me as if he was thinking about something. He moved his hand towards me as the fireball passed over our heads.

It crashed into the ground, throwing a large cloud of dust into the air and causing the ground to tremble from the force of the collision. I shielded my eyes against the dust.

What the fuck is going on?

Something warm pressed against me, but it didn’t feel uncomfortable. In fact, it felt vaguely familiar.

“I finally found you! Why did you run off without me? It seems you need a little more training, doesn’t it?”

“Teacher?” I asked.

As the dust settled, I could finally make out the woman who was hugging me. She had long, red hair that fell all the way down to her waist, bright red eyes that shone with a fiery light, a perfect face, a perfect body, and unblemished olive skin.

Simply put, she was beautiful. She finally let go of me and held me at arm’s length, staring at me with her bright red eyes.

“Do not even think about running away again. I have to protect you, after all.” She gave me a warm smile.

Even though she was probably only a year older than me, she always acted like an overprotective mother. She wouldn’t let anyone hurt me at all. Of course, she beat me up herself all the time.

“Teacher! Why are you here?” I asked, still recovering from her shocking entrance.

“Like I said, I am here to protect you,” she said.

“Protect me? From who?” I asked.

“From –” She stopped and her eyes widened as she suddenly turned around. She pointed a large red sword at the dark robed guy.

When did she take that out?

“You! Who are you?” she shouted.

I looked at the dark-robed guy and surprisingly, he didn’t look flustered at all. In fact, he was wearing his poker face again.

“It’s rude to not introduce yourself first,” he said.

Hypocrite.

“What’s the matter teacher? Why are you pointing your sword at him?” I asked.

“Listen Lily, his name is Runir Candela and –” She started coughing and choking.

The dark-robed guy, Runir, gave her a startled look. “You can see my status?”

Teacher cleared her throat and glared at him.

“What are you –” She coughed and her angry glare intensified. “Leave! Or else…”

He looked at her for a little while before smiling.

“No.”

“Leave!”

“Why should I?”

“Because –” She started coughing again.

He kept smiling but his eyes were lost in thought.

“Teacher, what is going on here?” I asked.

She suddenly started glaring at me instead.

“Were you traveling with him? Is he the reason you left the castle so suddenly? Do you even know who he is?”

“No, I – we just met. I left the castle because I wanted to. And he’s from my world and we’ve decided to look for a way back together! Wait, why do I have to tell you all of this anyway? You’re not my mom!” I pushed her away.

She blinked, obviously confused by my actions. Then she turned to glare at Runir. But he just smiled at her.

“You know, it’s about time you introduced yourself. After all, we’ll be traveling together from now on, won’t we?” he said, still smiling.

She kept glaring at him for a while before she took a deep breath and sheathed her sword. Seeing this, Runir held out a hand.

“Runir Candela, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

She looked at his hand and snorted. I shook my head at her childishness.

“Teacher, I don’t want to have to call you teacher all the time. Can you please just tell us your name already?” I said.

She brought her gaze to me for a second, and then back at Runir. Finally, she sighed.

“Very well. You may call me Amy, Amy Genis. And if you ever try to hurt Lily, I promise to make your death as slow, and excruciatingly painful as possible. Understood?”

“Understood.”

The three of us stood in the middle of the road, staring at each other for several minutes as an awkward silence descended around us.

Well, now what do we do? Wait, what’s that sound? Is someone… snoring?

< Back | TOC | Next >

14.0 Grayscale_Chapter 2: Clouds

Clouds drifted over the sun, shielding the city from the blistering heat that had plagued it for the past month. I walked out of an alley and blended into the crowd going down the streets of Cerena, capital of the Light Kingdom, after having finally escaped the castle.

Vendors shouted praises for their wares, horses neighed as their riders walked them down the street, and the general sounds of a bustling medieval city rang through the air.

Well that was surprisingly easy. I thought. Or am I just too amazing?

And that wasn’t simple narcissism, mind you. I’d been planning my escape ever since I got here and had executed it perfectly. They never suspected a thing while I walked right out the front door!

You see, when you train so hard that everyone thinks you’re willing to die for your cause, they never expect you to not give a damn about defeating the Demon Lord or whatever. When you wear bright, shiny clothes all day and waltz around in armor and makeup, nobody bats an eye when a grubby little maid leaves your room, even though no one saw her go in. If you keep stealing cookies and fruits and asking for money to buy candies, they never suspect that you’ve been swiping small change from all over the place and saving up a small fortune.

And of course, when the Hero can summon the Sacred Sword and Holy Armor whenever they want to, summoning them when you’re safely out of the castle isn’t a problem at all.

Those royals were pretty dumb, but at least they taught me something useful.

This past month had been grueling. I learned sword techniques, magic, skills and the History of Erath. All that knowledge and training would definitely prove useful eventually. In fact, it had already proven useful.

For example, the Sacred Sword and Holy Armor that I had acquired, were safely tucked away inside my ‘Inventory,’ which was a skill that only the Hero and the Demon Lord could learn. Of course, over the years, people had created another skill called ‘Storage’ which was derived from ‘Inventory,’ so my skill wouldn’t stand out unless someone used appraisal.

In fact, it was because of the ‘Appraisal’ skill that I had to wait so long before escaping. I’d learned it quickly enough, but I didn’t want people to know that I was the Hero so I had to find a countermeasure for it first. In the end, I had to settle for a skill called ‘Obscure’ that made it harder for people weaker than you to see your status through Appraisal. Even though it wasn’t perfect, I couldn’t bear staying in that castle any longer so I escaped as soon as I learned Obscure.

But why did I leave? They were giving me food and shelter after all, and it’s not like I’d get bored there either.

But that old geezer’s eyes…they were disgusting. I’d seen eyes like those before.

I’d seen them on the self-important politicians and privileged assholes that ran my old city to the ground; eating away the money meant for orphanages and homeless shelters.

I’d seen them on people who wanted to use me for their own goals. Gang leaders that wanted me to bait some police officer, a pimp that wanted me to spread my legs for his clients or a police officer that promised to spare me if I ratted out my friends but would probably throw me in jail anyways.

I hated those eyes and I couldn’t bear staying near him or being under his control. Besides, why the fuck would I risk my life to kill a Demon Lord? I didn’t give a damn about these privileged bastards and I didn’t owe them anything.

I’d spent my History of Erath lessons mapping out a route to the nearest city, since I was sure that they’d come after me. I was their precious Hero, after all. So even though traveling to a new city would be dangerous, I reckoned that with my new sword skills and the crazy strong magic I’d learned, I’d probably be able to get to the next town safely.

But first I needed to get some supplies. Luckily, I had the money that the king had given me as well as some that I had acquired from various sources, so I made my way to the marketplace with a spring in my step.

Someone bumped into my shoulder. For a second, I felt like telling the guy off but he just kept on walking, not even giving me a glance. Strangely, a weight fell off my shoulders. I’d been standing out so much for the past month that it made me uncomfortable all the time. Under all those scrutinizing stares, I had to put up an act longer than any I’d ever had to for a heist.

I walked into the marketplace and bought some food, a knife, and a few other necessities. After I left, a bunch of shady looking guys stared at me for a second but I wasn’t too afraid. Apart from the fact that I was probably stronger than them, I also knew their type.

These guys wouldn’t come after a little girl, nobody did unless they were real perverts. It wasn’t worth the trouble since they usually didn’t have money, would scream for the cops, without a second thought and weren’t much fun to play around with anyways.

I walked out of the city gates wearing a brown hood and robes. I followed a merchant caravan for a few miles before they started giving me suspicious glances, so I decided to part ways.

Cerena was built on top of a plateau, so I would have to walk downhill for a while before I reached the hills that surrounded the plateau. From there it was just a few days’ hike to the town of Fohil.

I walked down a stony, dirt road that was a shorter route to Fohil than the official road but also a bit more dangerous. But I was sure that I could handle anything that came my way.

For now, the clouds were still covering the sun and the air under the trees was cool and refreshing, so I couldn’t help but relax and gather my thoughts.

I’d left the castle but what should I do now? I obviously wasn’t going to go kill the Demon Lord, but I really couldn’t think of a purpose or goal either.

Did I want to go home?

I was a lot richer here than I had ever been back home. I was also stronger and probably wouldn’t get beat up anymore. Should I go back to being a petty thief on the streets? Not likely.

Back home, I used to steal for survival until I got so good at it that I started doing it for the thrill. The old lady whacked me with her stick when I brought snacks for the little kids but she still begrudgingly accepted the supplies I brought.

The mayor and the government were corrupt but nobody gave a damn. Nobody ever gave a damn for the poor, or for the little kid begging for food down the street or for the-

I stopped myself before I started thinking about that night.

What should I do here? I thought, as I took a deep breath. I don’t even know anyone in this world. Or rather, I do know some people but I don’t like them or trust them.

I kicked a pebble lying on the ground.

Well, my instructor wasn’t so bad. Though I don’t know why she hugged me the first time we met. I never did hear her name though, did I? All we ever did was practice sword techniques and magic. Oh right, now that I think about it, wasn’t she supposed to be my bodyguard or something? Guess she was supposed to keep tabs on me. Good thing I left without telling her.

But it really is lonely here…

I’d been lonely before; back on the streets after my mom died and before the old lady picked me up. After that I’d always been with her or the other kids.

Especially Dusty…

A slight pain cut through my chest when I thought about him so I shook my head and kept walking down the road. The sun was still hidden behind the clouds.

I’m being tailed. I thought, as I sensed someone following me.

I didn’t know who it was but years of shaking off police officers, gangsters and angry shopkeepers had taught me how to deal with situations like this.

But for some reason, I couldn’t shake off this creep at all. Worst of all, I couldn’t stop and rest because I knew they were right behind me. Just as I was worrying about what I’d do at night, I heard a loud roar in front of me.

Perfect.

I jumped back as a silver ball of light shot past me. A large, gray haired ogre stepped out from behind a bunch of smoldering tree trunks. It was a Light ogre.

Ogres were a very common monster found in every country on Erath, however, their elemental affinity depended on the country they were born in and of course, this one had been born in the Light kingdom. Or at least that’s what my magical creatures’ textbook said.

It roared and stomped towards me while shooting balls of light from its mouth. I dodged and ran backwards, straight towards my stalker. I fired a few smaller light balls at it that didn’t even leave a mark on its thick, gray skin, but at least they managed to anger it even further!

I avoided all the trees that came into my path until I stopped, put my back against a large oak tree, and faced the ogre as if I was going to fight it. Just as the ogre charged at me, I jumped to the side and let it barrel straight through the tree and into the stalker hiding behind it!

Or at least, that was what was supposed to happen. Instead, the ogre suddenly stopped charging and opened its mouth. But instead of a roar, it started releasing particles of light that gathered in front of its mouth.

It was preparing a level four Light magic spell – Laser!

Shit! Gotta get out of the way!

I tried jumping to the side but stumbled because my robe got caught on a branch.

Not good!

I hurriedly tried to activate magic but it was too late. A beam of light whooshed through the air, straight towards me. I stared wide-eyed at the beam as my vision flooded with bright, white light.

Light as white as snow.

Still as pathetic and powerless as ever, aren’t you, Lily? I chastised myself.

But just as I’d resigned myself to death, there was a flash of darkness inside the white light. The light was cut in two and incinerated the ground around me. In front of me appeared a vaguely familiar figure.

It was the guy who bumped into me outside the market! What was he doing here?

He wore a dark, black robe that faded into the darkness. In his left hand, he held a glistening black blade that sucked the light from its surroundings. The ogre was surprised by the interruption and roared intimidatingly.

“Shut it.”

The black robed man waved his sword as the ogre came up to smash him with its fists. There was another flash of darkness and the ogre was cut in two. Blood and gore sprayed through the air, some of it sprinkling onto my face.

I almost puked. I’d seen plenty of dead people on the streets and I’d seen some pretty fucked up corpses too, but I’d never been showered by guts before. The black robed man turned around just as my face grew green and my stomach acids began to rise.

A streak of sunlight broke the clouds.

I saw his face. He was a dark-skinned teenager, maybe just a bit older than me. His face looked calm but in a creepy way; like he was wearing one of those freaky masks I’d seen outside the theater back home.

He shook the blood off his sword and sheathed it before meeting my gaze. He smiled, sending a shiver down my spine. I took a step back and readied a magic spell just in case. His smile grew wider, making me even more uncomfortable. His eyes looked like they could see right through me.

But that wasn’t possible, was it?

“Hello Ms.Hero, wonderful weather isn’t it?” he said.

Shit.

< Back | TOC | Next >

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.

< Back | TOC | Next >

10.0 Candela_Chapter 1: In my head

Again?

I sighed and made a disappointed face. In my head, of course.

I was standing in front of my school locker, mentally pitying the poor monkey who had filled it with some putrid, brown substance that I had no wish to identify. It was both amusing and disheartening to know that there were still idiots in this school who hadn’t realized that provoking me was akin to a self-condemnation.

Laughter. “What’s that in your locker shit-face? Your mom’s tampons?” More laughter.

Well, looks like I won’t need to check the video cameras after all.

I didn’t even turn around because I had already identified the voice. In fact, I had already deduced that Frank Stones was the only muscle brain with a skull thick enough to not realize how utterly stupid his juvenile prank was.

But you see, I am a very nice person, so I selflessly took it upon myself to educate this buffoon before he got himself into any real trouble.

As Frank disappeared down the hallway, my face contorted into an evil grin. In my head, of course.

Frank Stone was feeling much better today. He’d been in a foul mood all week, ever since his friends had inexplicably stopped coming to school. He called them a million times but they never picked up and when he went to their houses, their parents would tell him that they were sleeping or feeling sick or crying over their dead dog’s body.

But he wasn’t buying it. There was more to it than that, but he couldn’t figure out what. Back before all this shit started happening, they’d been stealing lunch from nerds and hitting on some girl. Business as usual for the Kewl Kids Klub.

The only other thing he remembered was one of his boys walking into a stone-faced black kid and the rest of them ganging up on the little fucker to teach him a lesson. But a teacher had seen them and broken it up before they could do anything.

Black kid musta brought em some bad luck then.

He resolved to deal with the little bastard himself. Hopefully that would get rid of the bad luck haunting his boys. If not, squashing a filthy bug should fix his mood up anyways. Besides, he’d always hated the kid, not just because of the color of his skin but also because he never said anything at all. For some reason, looking at his stoic expression always sent shivers down Frank’s spine.

 

He filled the kid’s locker with dog-shit and made fun of him in front of everyone in the hallway. But, although he felt a lot better afterwards, something kept nagging at the back of his head as he went to gym class. Again, he couldn’t tell what.

Once the class ended, he wiped the sweat off his forehead and headed into the showers. He was just taking off his gym shorts when he heard his phone beep. He walked over to it and smiled as he read who it was from.

Melissa: Hey Frankie, wanna come over tonight? My folks are leaving for the weekend so we can have a lot of fun ~ iykwim

He smirked and told her he’d come over to chill. He put away the phone after texting Melissa for a few more minutes.

Fucking whore. Just won’t shut up will she?

He finished showering and wore his regular clothes.

Hm? Something smells strange, was there a gas leak or something?

He walked out into the hallway and was just thinking about how to mess with that black kid again when someone called his name. He turned around instinctively.

“Joanne! Hey how are ya babe, are we still on for tomorrow night?” He flashed her his perfect smile.

She slapped him.

“J-joanne? Babe what’s wrong? Did you not like the bag I bought you or-”

She slapped him again. “Frank Stone you fucking two timing bastard! Don’t you ever show your face around me again! Fuck you, damn it.” She slapped him again.

Frank was shocked. How had she found out? Then he noticed the phone in her other hand.

That’s Melissa’s phone! How the fu-

Joanne slapped him again before storming off. He held his sore cheeks and stared down the hallway.

Whatever! Fucking whore, you think I was gonna stay with you for more than a month anyways? Bitch.

“Frankie!”

“Melissa? How are ya babe? We still on fo-” He shrieked, putting his hands over his face. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“I heard everything. Fuck you, asshole!”

“Shit! Why the fuck did you bring pepper spray to school?”

“Because of fucking pigs like you!” She only stopped when the can ran out. Then she stomped away after flinging the empty can at the wincing blonde haired boy’s head.

Motherfucking bitch! Just you wait, I’m gonna fuck you up so bad you won’t be able to sit-

“Frank Stone, please report to the Principal’s office, immediately. Frank Stone, please report to the principal’s office, immediately.”

The principal’s office? For what? Don’t tell me that little bastard bitched about me to the principal just because of a little dog shit? Shit, I’m gonna fucking kill that bastard.

Frank wobbled his way to the principal’s office, rubbing his eyes like crazy and lashing out at anyone that wouldn’t get out of his way in time. He entered the office, not waiting for the secretary to give him permission.

“You called for me ma’am?”

“Ah yes Mr. Stone, I’m afraid we have some very serious things to discuss today but first, do you want to go freshen up a little? You look awful.” She lowered her spectacles as she analyzed the boy’s face. A slight frown crept up her face.

“Nah, it’s alright Ms. Garfield. Just got something in my eye, is all.” He rubbed his eyes again.

“Very well then, I’ve called you here because we have received some very disturbing images from an anonymous source. Here, take a look.”

She pressed a button on her desk and images popped out of it.

“This is… No Ms. Garfield, ma’am, I’ve never- I mean I wouldn’t even think- These are definitely fake!” Frank stuttered, cold sweat pouring down his back.

“Well, I’m afraid we also found a large stash of drugs in a secret compartment in your locker, and with these pictures showing you smoking hashish and inhaling cocaine as well as obviously selling them to others, we have no choice but to detain you until the police arrive.”

“B-but Ms.Garfield, I don’t do drugs! There’s been a mistake, I-I-”

“Mr.Stone, please stop lying to me. Your eyes betray the truth as does the stifling stench of drugs that surrounds you. Please wait quietly outside my office until the investigators arrive. Good day.”

I chuckled inside my head. Dealing with that muscle brained buffoon had been far too easy.

I sat on the school’s roof, playing my favorite video game, all alone. Not that I was lonely. I’d never attempted to make any friends in the first place. In fact, I barely talked to anyone at all. After all, other people were so insufferably stupid that conversing with them would not only be an insult to my intellect, but also an undoubtedly torturous experience for my superior mind.

But then again, it did mean that I had no one to talk to. Life wasn’t challenging at all, ‘school’ was nothing more than a distraction and tormenting monkeys like Frank had long since lost its appeal.

I was bored.

Well, at least I have this, I thought, as I played my favorite RPG. It was a rare gem in an age where the only games you could find were mindless endless runners and shoot em up games.

It’s too bad the guy who made these killed himself a few days ago. I always loved his work, but I guess these imbeciles were too much for him too.

I didn’t know much about the guy. I knew he’d burned himself to death after the game companies rejected his latest game. He’d already tried self-publishing it, but nobody bought it.

Although I regretted not being able to play his last game, I didn’t feel sorry for him at all. In fact, I envied him. He had a purpose in life, a goal even. Something to drive him and motivate him. Even if he failed to achieve it in the end, I envied him for having something to fight for in the first place.

Unlike him, since I had no idea what I wanted to do, I was always just drifting in my thoughts or immersing myself in video games and web fiction.

I heard someone open the door to the roof and absentmindedly turned to see who it was.

Ah… fuck…

Frank Stone had a gun in his hand. There was a loud bang and everything went dark.

I was drifting in space. I wasn’t sure if I was awake or if I was having a very surreal dream, but whatever it was, it made me nauseous.

“Oi, wake up!” shouted an annoying voice.

“Annoying? That’s it, I’m not being gentle anymore. Wake up!” screamed the voice.

Urgh! This voice is so annoying! Why won’t it shut up? What sort of fucked up dream is this?

“Call me annoying one more time and I’ll-”

Oh? You can hear my thoughts? Fascinating. At least it’s an interesting dream.

“Shut up about the dream, will you? You’re not asleep.”

Oh? Well then, tell me annoying voice, if this isn’t a dream then what is it?

“Again, with the annoy- Look here! I already hate explaining this shit so shut up and listen. You were about to die whe-”

Die? What do yo- Oh, now I remember. Frank, the gun, the rooftop. I see. So, this is the afterlife, is it? It’s more annoying than I thought it’d be. Can I choose oblivion instead?

“Why you! Don’t interrupt me! You didn’t die, all right? Your soul was summoned here before you could die an-”

Oh? A summoning you say? And who are you supposed to be? Are you the one who summoned me?

“…No, I did not summon you. I’m just supposed to show you the ropes.”

But you didn’t answer my question. Who are you?

“I’m a goddess of course!”

Of course,.

“Why you! Listen, I don’t like this either all right. Just let me finish so we can both move on.”

Fine. But I have a question. Where am I?

“I don’t know where you are right now. I can’t even see you. The only reason I can speak to you right now is because our minds are connected while you’re in that place.”

Oh, so you won’t be able to talk to me after I leave. Thank god.

“Why you! If you’re done asking questions, let me-”

Ah, but you misunderstood my question. I meant, which world have I been summoned to.

“Oh right, welcome to Erath!”

Hmm? Sounds fam- I’ll think about it later.

“What was that?”

Nothing, just wondering what kind of blessings I’ll be receiving from you! A hero needs his cheats after all!

“Blessings? Hero?” The voice laughed. More like cackled, really. “Who said anything about a hero? I am the Dark Goddess Lunaris, and you are here as my champion.”

Ah, I see, so I’m the Demon Lord. Demon Lord Runir Candela, doesn’t sound so bad. And what about my cheats? You can’t expect me to survive a world of magic and monsters with the skills from my previous life, can you?

“Oh! I don’t expect you to survive at all, actually.”

Excuse me?

“Well, unlike my overachieving sister, I don’t like putting in a lot of effort into my champions.”

So there have been other demon lords before me?

“Hundreds of them. Though the last twenty or so died in their first week.”

Wait? You’re not serious, are you? How can the Dusk Alliance win against the Holy Union without the Demon Lord? Who else could stop the hero?

“Shut up! Don’t tell me how to do my job. Oh look, it seems like we’re almost done. But I guess I’ll give you some advice because I’m bored.”

Thanks.

“Don’t mention it! Right, you’ll wake up somewhere in the Twilight Forest and then get viciously attacked by a bunch of bloodthirsty monsters. If you somehow manage to run away, you’ll be hunted down by the demon army-”

Hunted down by the demon army? What for? Aren’t they supposed to be my subordinates?

“Of course not, they hate the Demon Lords. They always throw them into a war that kills thousands and destroys their economy. In fact, most of the demon lords that died early were killed by the demon army! Now don’t interrupt. Let’s see, if you somehow manage to survive, you’ll probably be killed by the Holy Knights of the Union.”

Great. What about the hero?

“Well, the hero was summoned at the same time as you were but they’ll be a lot stronger than you. Your growth rate will be almost as ridiculous as theirs but you won’t have the holy sword or armor nor will you get any help from me. Of course, my sister will be trying her best to bend the rules to favor the hero but I believe in letting you grow in the face of adversity!”

Grow in the face of adversity? Don’t you mean you’re too lazy to care? Well whatever, this part was only supposed to last five minutes. See ya!

“Sure, sure, good bye!”

“…”

“Wait? Why did he know when this was supposed to end?”

I woke up in a dark forest and instantly heard a bunch of loud cries, roars and snarls around me. I stood up.

I never thought I’d get to play my favorite RPG like this! Ah yes, since I’m going to be the demon lord, I’ll need a cool evil laugh won’t I?

How about, muahahaha! No, kukuku. Maybe, hehehe. No wait, I know!

Iyahahaha!

I laughed maniacally as my lips broke into a menacing smile. In my head, of course.

 

< Back | TOC | Next >

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑