I Was Tasked With Defeating The Demon Lord, But For Some Reason, She Is Now My Girlfriend!?
Deep within the confines that is the Royal Castle lies a long series of hallways that lead to different parts of the castle itself, and even different parts of the city itself. The ancient escape routes had been carefully hidden from the knowledge of all those who were not sworn to their secrecy.
Far enough, down the labyrinth of twists and turns, is a room known only as the Interior. This strategic meeting room's existence was another one of a clandestine nature and whispered about by guards not ranking high enough to have access to its confines.
I looked up as we moved through the hall and noticed that after a few minutes into these halls, all windows or views to the outside had since disappeared and the only source of illumination was torches scattered every so often on the walls in ornate brass holders. We must have been fairly deep into the belly of the castle and still it seemed as if we weren’t half way there as it was.
“Um, I don’t want to complain, but how much further are we going?”
The guards on either side of me remained stoically silent as they shuffled their way down the hall. The only reply coming from the clicking of their armor with each step on the red carpeted hall.
“OK, that is fine,” I sighed in defeat, “but, um, could I at least walk on my own?”
The entire time since I was picked up off the streets near the entrance of the city, the two guards had an arm under my arms and had carried me all the way. My feet didn’t touch the ground once. I know I am pretty featherweight even for my size, but this was just dehumanizing, and I wanted to hide my face as we passed by curious onlookers while we moved from the far side of the city to the other.
“I am still trying to figure out what His Majesty wants with you specifically.” Krystal was still mulling over the events that had just transpired while following behind the guards and me. I looked over my shoulder to give her a shrug, showing that I was as lost in this as she was. But she glared up at me momentarily, so I rocketed my head back forward to keep out her line of sight.
No point in poking the bear further, especially after she had paid the café for our, mostly her own, treat at the café. I couldn’t pay, starting with the fact that I was now penniless after being pick-pocketed, but the guards had dragged me off without letting me argue in the slightest.
Krystal, I do feel bad, I’ll pay you back sometime, someway. Hopefully…
After several minutes of traversing the endless stone walls, the guards finally let me go. And by let me go, I mean dropped me flat on my backside without a word of warning. I strained to regain my balance as my senses had been knocked for a loop and fell forward after losing track of my own feet. Luckily, my landing was fairly soft. Quite soft, actually. It also smelled lovely, like a fresh spring day.
“Do you mind not using my body for your own purposes, Human?”
That voice came from slightly above and vibrated from within what I was using as a balance. I looked up in shock to see a face staring down at me. First to come into focus was the large green tinted eyes looking on to me with a bit of indifference, like I was a bug. Further out, I noticed the taunt, pale skin pulled over a high-boned structure beneath. Above that, was silvery blonde hair pulled tightly into several braids, going down behind long pointed ears.
It was an Elf, the first I had ever seen in person, and I had just pressed my face deep into her chest. Speaking of the chest, it was quite large for the slender body my arms were wrapped around.
“Step away now, Man, or lose your life.”
I looked over, and around the wall of flesh pressed against my cheeks to see another Elf, this specifically a male, in leather armor standing tall beside me with a dagger drawn near my ribs.
My eyes went wide in terror. I tried to move away, but my body was locked from the sheer shock of the situation. Luckily for my life, I was pulled off from the Elf’s chest by someone pulling on the collar of my cloak.
Falling on my butt, I finally got a look at the Elf as a whole, and not in such an up close and personal way. She was wearing a long robe of emerald green, like it had been made with freshly fallen leaves and blades of grass, that had a long slit descending the front almost to her belly button. She had a white under dress peeking out from beneath the robe, which appeared to be made of a material similar to that of spider's silk. She was tall, as tall as most men in the army, but her slender figure didn’t show her as being one to be afraid of in a fight.
But, as for the two other Elfs flanking her, They were taller and much more well toned for combat with the daggers pulled in order to protect the female Elf. They were enough to cause me to continue to fear for my life.
“Our apologies for such impudence on display before you, Lady Yriden.”
From behind me, Krystal spoke in a tone that showed a great level of respect to the Elf before us. She had her head bowed and a hand over her chest. Further behind, the two Royal guards were doing the same. And with great strength, she forced me to bow my head as well.
“Please forgive our rudeness.”
A moment of silence passed, so slowly as our fates were determined.
“I shall let this pass. Anyone could tell it was an accident.”
Her voice was so cold and indifferent, it chilled my soul even as it seemed to spare my life. I didn’t let out a sigh of relief until after I heard the daggers being sheathed.
I heard her turn and continue walking again down the castle halls. The Elf guards grunted at us, “See that it doesn’t happen again, Humans.”
I turned to see them briskly making their way further away from us, but the entire time the lady Elf had her head turned to look behind her. I wasn’t sure, but I felt like her eyes were trained on me alone, like they were trying to bore deep into my soul. I shuddered from the terrible feeling it gave me.
But that was short-lived, for as soon as she turned the corner, I was raised into the air by my collar.
“Why do you keep causing trouble for me today?”
Krystal was trying to get answers out of me whilst trying to strangle me within an inch of my life.
“What were you trying to do? Cause an international conflict? Do you have an idea who that was?”
“No! I don’t! Krystal! I can’t breathe!!” I gasped for breath as I was sure my spirit was about to leave my body at any moment.
Finally, she let go of strangling me, but then turned and put me in an arm bar, threatening to snap my arm in half.
“That was Meredith Yriden, the Ambassador from the Elvish Alliance. The only thing keeping us from going to war with the largest army on this planet! Think before you go around groping random women!” Clearly, I didn’t do it on purpose. Even the Elf Ambassador agreed, right?
She started to pull harder on that last sentence, so much, so I was worried I was going to lose that arm completely.
“I promise! I will never touch another woman again! I swear!”
“Idiot! Don’t make that promise, you idiot!” She screamed much louder, and flexed tighter against me.
What the hell is with these mixed signals?
The only thing that saved my arm from being separated from me permanently, was a cough coming from the guards standing before the wooden doors at the end of the hall.
“Commander Scarlet, the King is ready to see Mage Larkdale.”
Krystal took not a second to release me from her grappling and force me up right, patting the dust and dirt off my cloak and hair, before turning me around and pushing me forward to the door.
“Don’t embarrass me anymore, got it?”
She whispered under her breath as I sensed that air of death emanating behind me again. I gulped hard and prayed that I had the ability to do just as she wished now.
The guards opened the doors. And with a final push, Krystal forced me hard through the threshold into the Interior. The force was more than I could handle at that moment, and I staggered forward again, but thankfully this time I was able to keep my balance without needing to grab onto someone for support.
I finally came to a halt, on my own feet even, and looked around. The room was spacious. Enough to house a feast for over 50 people. The walls were made of a different stone, something that appeared harder and grayer than those outside of the room. On the floor was a huge map, one that had enough detail on it to tell it was a map of the whole world, with the borders to the different nations marked. It was more appropriate to say the whole floor was the map itself.
On the far end of the room opposite me, was a raised platform clad in a royal red carpet 3 steps up with the flag of the Human Nation behind it. In the center of it stood a singular golden chair, with intricate designs cascading on the arms and legs and a lion head effigy crowning the top of this chair. Sitting in that chair with an elbow resting on an arm being used to prop up his head was the Lord of the Human Domain. King William Leonard, in all of his majesty, was before me. He was dressed in a royal blue outfit that looked like it cost more than I could afford in a year of hard labor. His long graying beard was combed clean, as it fell majestically over his chest. His brows were stern and furrowed to the point that he was glaring at me.
A shiver went up my spine. Yet again, someone with enough authority to order the end of my life was giving me a death glare. This is not a good way to keep my heart healthy.
“Lawrence Larkdale, I presume?”
His voice rumbled throughout the Interior in a way that commanded attention and shot me straight up in attention. I was so nervous before him that as I tried to speak, nothing came out but a squeaky, “Y-yessir!”
“Ah, Lawrence, my boy, you made it after all.”
My brain shook in my head as it tried to process who it came from and why I should hear it here.
“Father? What are you doing here?”
“This isn’t my first time in this old room, my boy,” he answered with a bit of a chuckle as he approached me and placed a hand on my shoulder, “What is strange is why it has to be you here instead, yes? I guess, like father, like son? Both of them in this case as well.”
“Why have I been summoned? A-am I in trouble?” I could feel the reassurance in Father’s words and tone, but I was unable to shake the nervous feeling filling every pore of my body.
“Quite the opposite, my boy.”
As he finished that sentence, the doors to the Interior opened once more, letting in a series of people. Most of them seemed to be high ranking military generals or nobles, as their robes and garments were made of high class materials that even I could tell cost more than I would want to think about.
An odd one did stand out though. Cloaked in an orange dress made of what almost appeared to be a bedsheet, a girl about my age twirled around as she walked amongst the group. Upon her head was a red veil that covered most of her tangled blonde hair as it swayed with each twist of her movements. Below the veil was a black blindfold tied so tightly, I was amazed she was able to walk a straight line, let alone dance around in a moving group without bumping into a single person.
The rest of the group seemed to be annoyed by her antics, but kept it to themselves as best as they could. Minus the dirty looks that came out as she passed them.
“Be careful, my boy. There are many foxes guarding this hen house.” Father had leaned down to whisper that in my ear before patting my shoulder once more, before departing to mingle with the crowd, laughing wholeheartedly as he mingled with them.
Shortly after they had finished shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries, they began to disperse to the sides of the map floor, where little alcoves had been notched into the designs. Once all had taken their place, it seemed as if they were chess pieces lined up on all sides, facing right at me.
Except for the dancing girl, who was behind me, still dancing by herself and humming a tune wildly incoherent.
Other than that, a harsh silence fell over the room. It felt strangling. I glanced about the room wondering what was about to happen, and why I was there, but the only response I received was cold silence and even colder stares. I have never felt so judged in my life. When I was questioned for my mage license graduation. I was sweating bullets endlessly then, but now, the air was so stilled by the utter silence surrounding me, it chilled me to the core.
Well, except for Father, who was waving at me from his corner nearest the monarch and giving me a thumbs up with a big, reassuring grin. Normally, that would be enough to calm me, or at least make me laugh, but I was so nervous, I just glanced at him with a trembling wave in return. I am not sure what face I was making in return, as his wave slowed and a nervous look slipped out from under his normally cheerful facade.
“All are present, I see.”
King Leonard’s voice resonated within the stone chamber, calling all to attention who gave silent nods in agreement.
“Then, we shall begin. Lawrence Larkdale.”
When the sovereign ruler called my name, I instinctively dropped to a knee with a hand over my chest and my other flat on the ground with my head lowered. Normally, one would call that the proper way to bow and show allegiance to the King. Instead, I was just so nervous, I dropped mostly out of fear and couldn’t raise my head even if I wanted to.
“Raise your head, Larkdale. You are being given a Quest.”
I did look up on King Leonard, who had now risen from his seat and was standing still on the platform. I did not actually look up because he commanded me to, but out of confusion of his words to me.
“A Q-quest?” I asked in a near silent voice.
Quests were missions ordered by the King himself with the express meaning that it had to be completed without question. The only way out was death. Die trying, or be executed.
“As Commander Scarlet is not present, I have ordered Commanding General Lockhart to give the details of the quest to you. General.”
Another voice rose up from a front positioned alcove to the left of the monarch. From there, a large man stepped out.
Calling him large didn’t quite cover it, as he towered a whole head above anyone else in the room. His shoulders were so wide, I was amazed he fit into this doorway, especially with its double doors. His skin was tanned dark, probably from toiling under the sun for long hours.
With each of his footsteps, the ground trembled under me, and he walked with such emphasis on the precision of his strides, like he was marching up to me. He had to be stomping extra hard on purpose. He stopped about 5 paces away and took a stance with his arms behind his back like he was in a military line up.
His eyes were hard as he stared down at me, once again staring deep into me, as if he was sizing me up for a fight. I wouldn’t fight him if my life depended on it, because it was forfeit from the start if that was the case.
“Mage Larkdale,” as he spoke I stiffened up and tried to take an attention stance like I had seen from the army drills that took place outside Thamaturgis.
“As you know, the most pressing threat to humankind is the ever present threat that is the Demon Nation to the East. We have had a steady treaty at the border for generations now, but they have turned on the treaty on occasion and have tried slipping their way into our land to create new Strongholds, a Demon’s point of authority and safe haven, thus expanding their territory mostly unchecked." As he spoke, he pointed to different points on the map, as if they held a strong meaning, but they were just dots to the east of us to me.
“Previously, our army has been able to beat back any of their advances whenever they try. But there are a few in the Demon’s ranks that would cause too many casualties on our side just to stalemate them. Though their numbers are incredibly small in comparison to ours, each is an army onto themselves. Their strength is not to be trifled with.”
So far, everything he had said so far was common knowledge to a human. We were taught these truths in school and told of great warriors fighting them back to keep us safe in nursery rhymes as even smaller children.
“OK, but… umm, what does this have to do with me?” I asked, becoming more and more confused as to why I was at the center of this discussion in particular.
“In recent days,” General Lockhart began again, almost trampling over my words there at the end, “A new Demon Stronghold has appeared almost overnight and quite far away from the Eastern Border. A clear sign of aggression.”
My eyes went wide, hearing the news for the first time. A Demon Stronghold? A castle of theirs appearing? And within our borders? This is terrible, we were all in danger.
“Though there have been no movements from the Stronghold, nor from the other side of the border since its arrival, we have been cautiously watching it. Our scouts have gotten as close as they could without being detected. The details they bring are dire.”
Dire? Now the news is dire?
“The strength of the creator of the Stronghold is more powerful than any Demon we have faced in my lifetime. It is entirely possible that the creator is a Royal.”
As he finished his report, gasps and murmurs erupted around the room.
“A Demon Lord?"
"In our territory?”
“This is an act of war!”
Apparently this was the first that the others had heard this news. King Leonard's face has tightened to deeper frustration upon hearing this, if that was even possible.
“This is why I still say we send Magnus to take care of this. He defeated the last Demon Lord to invade. He can still handle this with his old age considered.” A portly nobleman hollered towards the ruler as he pointed a fat finger at Father.
“Aw, thank you, Duke Silvergaze. Your words are too kind,” Father chuckled awkwardly, blushing and rubbing the back of his head nervously, “I say these old bones can still take on a Demon Lord no problem, but it's a no can do.”
“That is correct, Duke Silvergaze, this Quest can be given to none other than Mage Larkdale. Remember your place.” The man who chided the Duke was wearing long silky robes with golden emblazons on them, with a tall head covering matching it and a golden scepter in his right hand. I recognized this man. He is Archbishop Aren Britedon, the current leader of the church in the human realm. I wouldn’t expect him to be in a war planning room, but I guess it is even stranger that I am still there.
In response, Duke Silvergaze clicked his tongue in frustration and turned away, clearly upset by having his idea eradicated so harshly. “I don’t know why we are going along with this farce. This could be a trick caused by the Demons. They are crafty bastards, after all.”
Though it was under his breath, all heard his scoff, but no one was going to call him out on this. They were justified concerns. For as long as Man walked the earth, their biggest threat was the devious plans of Demons leading them astray and bringing ruin to Humanity.
Or at least that is how all of the stories went throughout history.
“As for Mage Larkdale,” Archbishop Britedon moved from his alcove and approached me, slamming his scepter on the stone floor once he came to a halt roughly the same distance away as Lockhart had taken, “It has been seen in a Prophecy that you shall be the one to fell the Demon Lord. It is up to you to save the human race. Our Soothsayer shall recite it to you now. Delphai, if you would.”
“Yes, Archbishop! But first...” The dancing girl cheered from directly behind me as she answered to what I am guessing is her name. I nearly fell trying to avoid her movements as she pirouetted around me before stopping in front of me, staring me face to face. I would say our eyes were locked, but the blindfold blocked all traces of her eyes from her face. I couldn’t tell if she had any to start with.
Though, my eyes were drawn a bit lower, as her dress was opened from the top. This allowed me to have the best view into somewhere I am sure I was not supposed to see, And there was plenty to see there.
“Ooh, what pretty blue eyes you have!”
“Uh… T-thank you?” Crap, maybe she can see? Look up, stupid!
“It’s wonderful to meet you, Lawrence Larkdale! And in person too! I am Delphai Pythia!”
“Delphai,” Archbishop Britedon spoke up, bringing the both of us back into focus, “The Prophecy, please.”
“Yes, Yes, Yes!” she skipped about as she spoke, giddiness dripping with each word she spoke. “The Prophecy! I saw the Demon Lord. Their ability to fight is gone. How prone! Above the Demon Lord stood a single man. With a thrust, the Demon Lord is impaled and cries out at last. This act shall bring peace and harmony to the Humans and Demons. A peace that shall not be broken for all of time! What a brave and powerful man he is, impaling the Demon Lord! Proudly, everyone cheering his name, Lawrence Larkdale! It is him! And him alone!”
Her body began to quiver the longer she spoke, until she was wrapping her arms around herself and moaning in near ecstasy at the end.
“Is… Is she mad?” were the only words I could come up with after hearing her so-called “prophecy”.
“Yes, she is mad,” Archbishop Britedon answered without missing a beat as he stepped between us.
Two clergymen moved quickly to gather up Delphai as she continued to moan and convulse. “He is so strong and handsome, I might fall before him as well! AHH!!!” Her final call of pleasure seemed to fade into the stone walls as she was carried out by the clergymen.
“She might be mad,” Archbishop Britedon continued once the room had fallen silent again, “But all of our Soothsayers throughout history have been correct on their Prophecies. Even if it sounds like the ramblings of an insane person, they come true in their entirety. Therefore, Mage Larkdale, you shall be the Hero to slay the Demon Lord.”
“What? There must be some mistake!”
I hadn’t thought before, I spoke so loudly. Actually, my brain hadn’t been working since I had heard there was a Demon Lord so close to us as we speak. There must have to be some error in the Prophecy.
“It can’t be me! I can’t fight, let alone hold my own with magic. I am only a magic researcher. My spells are less than that of a young child’s, usually. It can’t be me.”
“The name proclaimed by the Soothsayer was Lawrence Larkdale! It has to be you,” a random noble answered my argument with another.
“But… But… There has to be some other Lawrence Larkdale in the Kingdom, right?
“Unfortunately, you are the only Larkdale as there is, my boy,” father was who answered this time, his voice stern and unwavering. Rarely had I heard him take this tone. He only did this because there was no arguing with him further, and he wanted you to know. “Your birth father took on that name when he was young. Now, with him and your mother gone, you are the only one with the name Larkdale. I don’t know why it has to be you, but if it is the Prophecy, then it must be you regardless.”
“I-I… I can’t…” I turned in circles around the many faces staring at me with grim stares, each telling me my fate was sealed.
I continued to try and talk my way out of it, there had to be some mistake. But as soon as the monarch called my name, all that had come to an end. I turned with tears welling up in the corners of my eyes, and fearfully looked up at King Leonard, who was now descending the steps of the platform, walking right towards me.
“I give you this Quest: You are tasked with defeating the Demon Lord.”
With those few words, my life was doomed.