Serving the Dark Lord? I Didn’t Sign up for This!
Welcome to the realm of darkness? Acolyte? Hold on hold on hold on. Surely I passed out and I’m dreaming right now, right? Right!? I tried to reason out the situation to myself as I sat on the floor, but it was no use. My senses weren’t lying. I became self-aware in a dream before, and it was nothing like this. The moist, frigid air, the mosquito buzzing around me, the sound of dripping water droplets—it was all too real, and terrifying. I had no idea where I was, or who the man in front of me was.
“Who are you? Why am I here? What’s going on?” I began to panic.
“I am Dark Lord Andromalius. And you are here because you chose to come,” he said matter-of-factly.
Dark lord? Like, the kind of big bad guy who’s out to destroy the world or take over it? I never really had much time to indulge myself in fiction, but I had at least had a vague awareness of how the fantasy genre went, and if this was anything like that, then I’d be in for a bad time. I hadn’t even started to think about the second half of his sentence when Azazel chimed in.
“Quite the magic circle you constructed. I never figured you to be a witch,” he sounded impressed.
You mean the magic circle I completely made up as a prank actually did something? All I could do was stop and stare at the two of them with my mouth hung open for a moment while my brain processed everything.
“So you’re telling me that I coincidentally drew the same magic circle as you,” I pointed towards Andromalius, “they connected, and brought us here?” then pointed my finger towards my feet.
The dark lord chuckled. It was as if he understood everything just by seeing the confused look on my face.
“It may seem like a coincidence to you, but for me, it was inevitable. There are infinite worlds—infinite realities. Someone, somewhere, had to construct a sender-styled circle to match my receiver.”
“The many-worlds theory… So it was true…” Azazel said to himself quietly, still kneeled down, and fist pumped the air.
I can’t believe this. I just wanted to pull a prank, and now look what happened. I’m in this dark dungeon, with an ominous man and my idiot classmate. I didn’t sign up for this! I stood got up off the ground and began scuffing the heel of my shoe on the magic circle underneath me.
“Wait, what are you doing!?” Azazel stood up and questioned me aggressively, as if I was vandalizing a fine piece of art.
“I can’t let anyone else get sucked in! This thing’s still active right?” I responded. If Azazel came here first, and I came after him, then who’s to say someone else won’t stumble into the lab and get brought here next.
“Ah, I suppose so…” Azazel backed off.
“And you!” I began walking up towards Andromalius. “I don’t know who you think you are, but you better send us back right now!”
Now that I look at him up close, the dark lord was very intimidating. He had extremely handsome, chiselled features, he was above 6 feet, maybe even 7 feet tall, and his eyes felt like they were piercing my soul. And yet, at the same time, I did not sense danger from him for some reason. Maybe it was all the adrenaline pumping through me.
“Well, I cannot force you to help me,” he sighed. “I would aid you in returning, but--” the dark lord continued, but then stopped as if he was interrupted, and slapped his hand against his exposed neck. He then pulled his hand away, looked at his palm, and his eyes shot open. There was a speck of blood on his hand.
“Mos… quito…” he muttered before collapsing onto the ground.
That was when a cloaked figure rushed out from the shadows at the back of the room.
“Milord!” the figure rushed up to Andromalius and put his hand over him. As if the light underneath his hand was fading away, a dark glow emanated from it, and shortly after the dark lord started to cough.
“Thank you, arch-bishop. Yet again, I owe you my life” Andromalius managed to say. The figure bowed quickly, before backing into the shadows once more. No matter how hard I looked, it was as if they vanished into thin air. Andromalius regained his composure, and stood up again.
What kind of bizarre comedy act did I just witness?
“I suppose I better explain myself.” Andromalius cleared his throat. “I lost all my power, or rather, it was stolen from me. That’s why I require your assistance.” He seemed almost pitiful, but I couldn’t ignore what he had said earlier.
“Why should we help you? You’re the dark lord, right? Aren’t you supposed to be an enemy of humanity?” I didn’t trust him.
“I’m sure you have your doubts, but I simply want the best for my people. Going to war with the realm of light would go directly against that,” he started, but he could tell that I wasn’t buying it.
“Rather than explain, allow me to show you. Come with me,” he beckoned before walking away.
We were led down the dim hallways that all seemed to look the same until we reached a room with nothing but a giant crystal ball. It was by far the biggest crystal ball we had ever seen in our lives, taking up over half the room and reaching the ceiling. Unlike the hallways and the room we were summoned to, there were no torches in this room. Instead, the ball gave off a dim purple light of its own. We climbed up a small ramp in front of the ball that took us about halfway up.
“Does this tell the future?” Azazel couldn’t help but ask.
“There’s no such thing as a predetermined future,” the dark lord answered. “What it does show is the past. The more you know about what you are trying to see, the clearer the picture will be,” he put his hands up. In it, a blonde boy in his mid-teens was shown lying in a patch of grass. He was wearing casual clothes—a white t-shirt and jeans, and had a short sword and a round wooden shield lying next to him.
The blonde boy woke up. He looked very confused, but quickly noticed the equipment next to him. He timidly took the sword and shield in hand, and looked around. He was on the top of a hill, underneath a tree that shielded him from the sun. In front of him was a peninsula. Grassland, filled with wheat crops and farm animals, leading to a small town surrounded by the ocean. Behind him was a dark forest, reaching to each end of the peninsula such that there was no going around it. The boy headed in the direction of the town.
The scene cut as the crystal ball briefly faded to white. Then, we saw him in what looked to be a typical fantasy adventurer’s guild. There were all sorts of races sat at the tables, drinking ale and eating mutton. These included elves, dwarves, lizardfolk, and of course humans. However, the boy was not with them. Rather, he was seen taking a “help wanted” page off a wall.
The scene cut again, and it would continue to cut several times. First, we saw him defending sheep from wolves. Then, we saw him in a forest, fighting off a giant snake. Next, we saw him wearing a stuffed backpack and an iron chest plate waving goodbye to the townspeople. He had become a proper adventurer.
Camping by the road throughout the night. Discovering a new town filled with restless people. Driving away ghosts that were haunting the residents. At some point, a woman with an otherworldly beauty had begun traveling with him. Time passed, and the boy had grown into a young man. On his travels, he saw a small village burned to the ground. There was nothing he could do but move on. Up next was the capital. We saw him in a lavish throne room, kneeling before a middle aged man wearing a magnificent red cape laced with gold and matching crown. Having heard of his deeds, he must have been summoned to have an audience with the king. The king signaled to one of his servants, who bowed, and brought a bag of gold to the adventurer. These funds would be used to commission the finest golden armor, and eventually, we even saw him slay a dragon atop a mountain. The residents of the city celebrated him and cheered “Hero! Hero! Hero!” It was all quite typical adventurer deeds. He was doing a lot of good and protecting people from dangerous beasts. However it would quickly become unsettling.
He heard rumours of a cave full of goblins, and even though there was no quest or reward offered, he went in and slaughtered them all. The goblins were too panicked to even try to fight back. All they could think about was trying to escape. However, he would not stop until there were none left. During his travels, he found a troll under the bridge. The troll was letting people cross. It wasn’t disturbing anyone, and yet the hero challenged the troll. The troll picked up its giant club and took a defensive stance. He managed to block a few attacks, but in the end it was no match. The hero mercilessly sliced the head off the troll. He would harvest the body parts from each enemy he vanquished and sell them off to whoever would buy them. Next, we saw him invade an ancient crypt, where heroes of old were laid to rest. Disturbed, the dead arose and tried to stop him. But he could not be stopped. At the end of the crypt, surrounded by scattered bones, he pulled a long sword out of a pedestal. When he pulled it out, a pair of small, black wings sprouted from the hilt, and the blade began to glow like the sun. He began to laugh maniacally. Then came the final scene.
It was twilight. Ahead of the hero, the grass turned a deep violet, and the dirt on the ground became black. He was approaching the border to the realm of darkness. At this point, the dark lord appeared in front of him.
“Heh. I didn’t expect the last boss to come to me,” he snorted.
“I’m afraid I cannot allow you to proceed any further,” Andromalius said with such a grave voice that neither I nor Azazel had heard yet. It chilled me to the bone.
“That sounds like a challenge,” the hero drew his sword. The dark lord stretched out his hand, and a sword of his own materialized within it.
“You’re making a very big mistake,” the dark lord tried to warn the hero, he didn’t listen, and charged in blade-first. After a grand battle, the dark lord collapsed, and the crystal ball went back how it was originally.
“The hero is prejudiced against monsters and thinks they’re objectively evil!?” I blurted out. The monsters aren’t objectively evil!? I thought to myself at the same time. It looks like in this world, they’re just another species trying to go about their own lives in peace. I still didn’t fully trust the dark lord—after all, he could be showing us an illusion—but I’d be able to confirm the situation for my own eyes once we leave this place, so I decided to trust him for now.
“He saw my people as nothing but enemies to be eliminated. He never once tried to understand them or see their side. Instead of letting more die within the realm of darkness, I had to settle things for myself. Even if it meant my loss,” the dark lord said with a voice of resignation.
“To be fair, you didn’t really try to explain anything to him. Maybe he would have understood if you told him you weren’t his enemy,” I told Andromalius.
“Did you not see? I surely told him that he could join me and we could rule together,” he responded as if I had not understood anything at all. Of course the hero, someone convinced the dark lord is evil, would see that line as some kind of stereotypical ‘let’s be bad guys together’ line. It looked like there were some cultural differences at play here, but there was no use trying to explain this now. What’s been said has been said.
We were once again led down a hallway, and again, I had no idea where we were going.
“That’s why you need us… He won’t expect humans to be working against him,” Azazel thought out loud.
“Precisely. The hero believes me to be dead. If it wasn’t for my arch-bishop, I would not be here right now. A few months have passed since then, however my contacts within the realm of light say that the situation is becoming worse, not only for monsters, but for races of light as well. The hero has gone unchecked for too long, and has become a tyrant believing himself to be entitled to anything he desires. Not to mention, he somehow gained the favour of the goddess governing this world,” Andromalius explained. I’m assuming ‘races of light’ means any intelligent species that’s not a monster or some kind of wild beast.
“Sounds like a tricky situation. If even you lost, I’m not sure if there’s much we can do,” I glanced at Azazel, hoping he would back me up. However, he did not.
“As I said, I cannot force you to help. However, without my original power, it will be difficult to send you back from whence you came. My subordinates could transport you to other realities, but it would essentially be a game of chance whether it would be the correct one,” Andromalius kept gazing ahead as he walked on. A moment later, we reached the door he was looking for, and he swung it open.
“That said, I do not expect you to do this without help,” he reassured us.
The room was filled with swords, spears, and all kinds of weapons in display cases, armor affixed to stands, and even scrolls containing spells sealed by magical chains.
“I shall arm you, and bestow upon you three spells: ‘Transformation’, which will allow you to transform into any creature befitting your strength, ‘Silver Tongue,’ which will enhance the effectiveness of spoken word. And finally, my ultimate magic: ‘Dark Art ~ Apocalypsis Arrow.’”
“I’ll do my best to serve you, milord,” Azazel kneeled once more before the dark lord.
“Yeah, me too I guess,” I followed up with a sigh.
I can’t believe we’re actually doing this.