No Hero: Chronicles of a Nameless Misfit
The dust just settled on the battlefield as a man clad in armor and a girl in black stood back to back, swords unsheathed.
Both their breaths are short and their eyes are searching the area without rest. A mixture of blood and dirt permeated their faces and clothes. Sweat plastered the man's forehead. He was panting and still in shock. His pupils flickered still unsure of what to do. In the near distance columns spiked from what remained of a now-destroyed road. A big winged lizard laid next to one of the destroyed columns, with multiple holes in its wings. A wivern.
The two were using her as means of transport flying up above when they were attacked. Flashing bolts came from the ground from an unknown location shot directly at them. It took seconds for the Wyvern to fall from the sky after the impact and attempt an emergency landing on the battlefield below. The man and the woman had been launched of their transport in the middle of the street while the Wyvern slid across the pavement lifting rocks and eventually crashing into one of the marble columns. By sheer luck, everyone was still alive.
“Come on big girl! I know you’re still there. Don't leave me here” shouted the man at the wyvern.
Her body moved for a second. With a pained growl, the winged lizard stood back on its feet shaking off her head all the dust and debris she created when crashing. Opening her wings again the wyvern tried to take flight, failing miserably. Directing her lizardy yellow eyes towards the man she showed the holes in her precious wings making him sure of their inability to escape from that place.
“We will fix that, don't worry” responded the man in armor without taking his eyes off the dust that began rising again around the three.
In a matter of seconds, a dusk screen blocked the vision of the battlefield. The woman in black was worried, her legs still shaking for the impact, her bloodied hands tightly gripped around the hilt of her sword. She knew what was coming, she escorted the man completely aware of the consequences. A gust of wind blew strongly, barging in the silence.
In the middle of the dust screen, in front of the man, a black shadow came into sight. Two horns grew from the forehead, wrapped in a black mist that burned like a never-ending flame: a demon. Even hiding its appearance behind the smoke was not enough to avoid having to acknowledge the dark future the man in armor had in front of him. The silhouette carried a greatsword on its shoulders, wore what seemed a full set of armor and was slowly moving towards the man in armor and his comrades. The sound of his boots stomping the ground scared the Wyvern who took a step back after hissing.
“A trap” the man was not surprised by what was happening.
“Of course it’s a trap” the woman changed combat stances spotting another shadow in the dust “Do you think we could have travelled all the way to the Boss without a fight?”
"I just hoped we wouldn't have to fight them as well"
Other horned shadows began appearing. Seven of them in total, each with a different weapon, armor, and shape of horns. Gleaming amber eyes could be seen through the dust accompanied by a smirk on their faces.
“His guards are here. He finally decided to deploy them, it seemed strange not seeing them on the battlefields” the woman informed. By only looking at her figure she definitely seemed like a human, only her two thin horns reminded the man that she was one of them as well. At least the man was sure that she wasn't the type to stab him in the back. Or so he hoped.
The wyvern growled again letting the two know that another shadow was emerging from the dust closing in the distance. She opened her mouth trying to spew fire but only sparks and smoke came out. Her tail slapped the ground in frustration and multiple thorns grew from the tip of it.
“Damn, we've been surrounded” a drop of sweat run down the man’s cheek falling down and wetting the scorched ground, he readied his sword freeing it from the scabbard "This will not be easy"
“So we finally meet again!” one of the demons talked, his pace was slow and coordinated with his steps. The seven attackers had probably set a code word to jump at us all at the same moment. “The so-called “Hero of humanity" and the "Traitor" of our kind, I guess you like your new titles”
“I am not a traitor, Mammon” the woman responded with anger recognizing the demon talking
“You left our side to help these puny humans fight us, not even the help of the other higher races nor that of the Gods has stopped our advance. Did you perhaps forget our cause? Or were you charmed by his words like many of the other mortals” the demon began to impatiently tap his sword on his armor creating a metallic sound similar to the hammering you could hear in a forge.
“You’re not doing the right thing” the man was taking the side of the girl “Waging a full out war on all the rest of the continent for an unknown reason is something that has to be stopped”
The man was trying to buy time, the girl at his shoulder was trying to create a magic circle while being unnoticed. Various light lines could be seen under their feet diffusing a dim purple light. The man knew what was going on. The size and characters of the circle described a big spell that would have hit everyone on that battlefield. It was hard for a human to learn the demon magic language but he had studied it during peace times.
The man kept talking.
“You killed many of my comrades, friends, and even my family. I am not the only one who suffered this much, many others went through the same pain as me because of you...it was meant to happen sooner or later, and I am here to end this”
“The same goes for you mortals” another demon talked “How many of our kind you slaughtered in the name of the Gods, even when we could leave peacefully together. You hunted our kind deeming us the spawn of Chaos. The elves used us for experiments and the dwarves treated us like slaves. The other races did the same. How can a human like you even begin to understand our oppression”
The man stood silent. The demons weren't wrong. Many people thought that their existence was just a plague that needed to be exterminated.
"It's funny how a Human, one of the weakest species that ever walked on this earth is standing here in front of us right now. I'm sorry but your little fairy tale ends here"
Every demon hidden lowered their weapon.
“I’m done” a whisper came from the lady in black.
Looking at his feet the man noticed the magic circle reaching far off in the distance. She must have used all her mana to cast this single spell.
A light enveloped the ground beneath everyone. Seconds after, a magic explosion burned everything in its radius, ground, rocks, corpses. The burst had been so loud that even the Vanguard, kilometers away, could have heard it. That roaring purple fire was what made the girl in black famous among the Demons.
The man in armor was now kneeling on the ground, his ears were bleeding and a whistle was the only thing he could hear. In the short time after the tip he had managed to protect himself from the blast breaking a barrier crystal. The shards cut his hands and fell on the ground. A circle of lighter dirt had formed under his feet while everything else had turned black from the excessive heat. The ambushers were laying on the street, already trying to get back on their feet using their weapons. A hand helped the man up and forcefully pushed him aside.
“Y....ha…...go” the words of the lady in black were muffled. She was screaming as loud as she could to be understood.
“Come on stupid Knight! You have to go” the voice of the girl turned back to normal and the whistle ceased in the man's ears.
Behind the two, a volley of black projectiles appeared, directly aimed at the man. He didn’t have enough time to get up, not enough time to even try and parry with his sword. Just before the impact, the wyvern stood in between. Opened her full wingspan, tanking all the hits. Turning her head back she looked at her master still on the ground. She wrapped her tail around the man’s body and helped him, just to then throw him into the dust, away from the fight. The two companions turned to shadows just like the demons they were fighting.
The man was now on his own, hearing growls and war cries in the dust behind him. After a deep breath, he sheathed his sword on his hip and started running towards the palace in the near distance.
Abandoned houses covered the sides of the street he had landed on. Just years ago they were full of people living their daily lives in happiness. Kids run chased by animals, elves sold their advanced technologies in the market, and dwarves repaired any type of equipment. Fairies danced in the sky among the spirits. Beastman of every kind offered their villages products to the passers-by.
Everything was now dead and silent. Not a single trace of life could be seen in the city. Many fled as soon as the Demons declared war, others remained hoping for someone to save them. The war had taken many lives already. The last count revealed half of the population in the entire continent missing. Prayers were sent non-stop to the Gods, who finally decided to help us sending their messengers on the front lines. Angels joined the fight before it was too late.
And here was the man, shouldering everything. He believed it was his fault if many people had died. If only had he acted sooner...
The clanging sound of his iron greaves and the panting accompanied the man in his journey. The entry of the palace was forced open, countless corpses of men with the same armor laid outside, their swords still in hand, their eyes determined to stop this insanity. The first attempt at putting a stop to this war had happened the year before. An army of soldiers, members of the Order, broke into the city and managed to get to the royal palace while the Demons were engaged in a battle against the main force. The army never reported back and hope was lost.
The man kneeled near one of the cadavers. A shiny golden cross was hanging around the neck. One of the many friends the man had made in the Order was lying dead in front of his eyes. He recognized some of the others by the remaining of their armors.
"May you rest in peace"
The Goddess of Death was kind and accepted anyone in her humble abode. There everyone was equal. No poverty, hunger, nor diseases. Not even war existed in that place. You could find your loved ones and live eternally. It was known by many names throughout the living ones, but during the war, the man had forgotten them all.
The enormous stone portals were slightly open. Just enough for the man to squeeze through. The sacrifice of his men helped him get to his final destination. He was sure after this was all over he would have not lived the same.
Halls, corridors, rooms. The Palace was immense and any common person would have lost themselves in that intricate labyrinth. A turn left. The one right. The stairs leading down and another turn left. The man finally entered the throne room, not even looking up how to cruise through the immense palace for he knew it by hand.
The cold room decorated with marble tiles, immense golden columns, and statues did not fret the man who headed straight for the apse. Cold seeped through the armor in that place where no light shone. Flickering torches and braziers lit the place creating a dark yet comfortable atmosphere. At the end of the room, the throne was occupied. Two other corpses stood in front of it. The man recognized one of the two and grit his teeth shifting his gaze at the figure who sat in front of him.
Only amber eyes could be seen in the complete darkness that kept the figure hidden. No grin on his face. Sadness was the only thing that image let out.
“Why are you doing this?” asked the man, his armor getting heavier by the second, his breath getting shorter and shorter. He was tired. "It's been two years and I have not heard yet the cause of your actions"
The figure did not speak. Its hands helped him get up from the throne, he then raised one and a black mist started to take the form of a longsword. No magic circle was formed, he was a true genius of magic.
“You forced me to” the figure left the shadows.
Black shining armor dressed the demon, leaving only the head free. His white long hair were not let down like usual. It felt like he had ripped them from his head and were now disorganized. Strands rested on his face. The pale skin was still the same but his calm and loving smile had long disappeared. Distress, despair, and anger could be read in his eyes as he looked at the man, the Hero who came to slay him.
“You know I can’t do this, I've come to try and talk this through” the man held his sword up again. The scabbard fell on the pavement from the hurry “You’re like family to me. Let me know why you had to resort to this”
Not even caring about the words that had just been spoken, the demon walked down the few steps under his throne. The clang of his armor could instill fear in the heart of the brave, the look in his face could make even the best warrior falter in an instant. The aura around him made even an Ancient Dragon tremble.
“We were family up until the point you betrayed me” the demon shed a tear. "How could I imagine that someone I considered closer than my own children could break my trust?"
“Betrayal? What are you talking about? I needed to stay with humans once the war started” the man was confused "I couldn't join you"
“I’m not talking about the side you chose to join, my boy” the demon disappeared from sight.
The man instinctively held his sword with both hands parrying an invisible strike. He already experienced the might of the demon, he wasn’t invisible, the demon was moving so fast that the eyes of many could not catch it, but that wasn’t the case for the Hero. Keeping his sword as a shield the man parried the next couple of slashes that bounced off his black iron sword. He had experienced those moves before. Most of them were the foundation of his own fighting style. The one he taught to the recruits in his Unit.
“Then why are we fighting right now?” the man was trying to reason with the demon. "Why did you have to slaughter all those innocent people? Even the ones who followed you. You destroyed your city, your capital, the proof that Demons and the other species could coexist"
“Why do you act so ignorant, my boy” the demon reappeared “You...you killed her”
At the mention of the cause of that horrible war that already killed thousands of brave men and women, the Hero’s eyes lit up in confusion and surprise. He had no time to respond nor react as the demon started over with his attacks. Sparks lit their faces in the darkness at every impact.
"What are you talking about, Chaos?" the man couldn't follow "What happened to her?"
"IT WAS YOU" Chaos' scream echoed. His eyes full of rage "You were the one who took her life. I saw your blade in her chest. You were laughing over her dead body"
The two began trading blows at an inhuman speed, the swords shone from the sparks created by their fight creating a breathtaking spectacle. The beauty of that duel could not be seen by anyone, unfortunately.
"I did not kill anyone! When the war started I was dealing with the riots in the Outer Lands"
"Are you saying that my eyes, the same eyes that are hating you at this moment, saw the wrong thing?"
Chaos upped his pace. The man followed him in the trading of lethal blows. The columns around them began shaking and breaking from the recoil of the blows, the marble tiles at their feet cracked continuously. Chips of stone flew in the air reflecting the light of the torches. The clanging of the two swords echoed through the pure silence of the room as the fight continued.
The man didn't know how to respond to the Demon's accuses. He understood his hatred and decided to be the target of it, since the real culprit was nowhere to be found. Maybe his sacrifices could be the last one needed to end the war. Maybe his death could have awakened Chaos. It was a gamble the man was happy to make.
Despite being in a life or death situation the two seemed to be enjoying the fight, it reminded them of the past, a past where this war was nothing but a story to tell the kids to behave properly. Where did this all go wrong?
The man's arms were already heavy from the previous fights. Life on the front lines was hard and lacking in pauses to catch a breath. The fatigue that was previously relieved by letting mana flow into his veins and heart, was starting to kick back in. The body of the man felt like a massive boulder, ready to fall at any time. One wrong move and he was dead. Trading hits at this level was already hard for a normal Human and the man was already over his limits.
The man’s black sword, which was supposed to be indestructible, broke right in front of his eyes. The blade flew straight into the ground cutting it like butter and stuck into it. The Demon, noticing the inability of the man to continue the fight, stopped its high-speed movement and stood in front of him. A black gauntlet reached for the man’s throat and pulled him up above the ground.
"I'm sorry I have to do this"
Suddenly feeling heat coming from his torso, the man lowered his eyes only to notice that the mist sword of the Demon had pierced his abdomen crushing the armor he was wearing. Blood poured from the wound, dripping on the iron, onto the ground. The man began gasping for air, punching Chaos' arm trying to free himself from the ever more tight grip.
"Don't make this harder for me"
The Demon began crying while seeing the man struggle for his life, with a gesture of his hand the mist blade dissolved, leaving the cut wide open. Blood poured on the withe cracked marble.
The man, the Hero, knew that he had nothing else up his sleeves. His vision became blurrier every second that passed. He could not breathe anymore. He was not sure the war would be over after that. He wanted certainty that he was the last one to die.
Channeling all the remaining strength to his arm, the man started writing a magic circle. One which color had never seen before. White lines coated his left arm making his armor part of the spell. Another magic circle appeared under the Demon's boots expanding without rest.
"What are you trying to do? You know I will not follow you to the Death's den"
The circle was now bigger than the whole room and was not stopping. Chaos let the man fall on the floor releasing his grip. He understood the move of his opponent and sat on his throne once again.
"Fate will make us meet again"
A pure white light engulfed the room. It made no sound as it grew bigger.
The man's heart stopped. The armor soaked in blood broke, leaving his body on the ground. A smile formed on his face knowing that he had pulled his crazy gamble off.
Then his eyes closed.
Hey! Ecspo here. Hope you liked this chapter!
Since this is my first serious work and also my first work in English I would very much appreciate any tips, critiques, comments of any kind. Tell me if the chapters are too long, short, or whatever, it would mean a lot to me.