I Was Tasked With Defeating The Demon Lord, But For Some Reason, She Is Now My Girlfriend!?
My knees felt like they were ready to buckle under me at any moment. My throat tightening on the air I was breathing, making my breaths shallow and raspy with each pull in and out. My knuckles were turning white from gripping my magic staff so tight I might have snapped it in half.
No matter how hard I tried to turn and run, my feet were glued to their spot while I trembled in place.
My eyes were locked forward.
“I have been expecting you.” came the sickly, sweet voice of a creature of pure terror before me. “I am the Lord of this Stronghold. You may call me Lord Lillim Zeroth Von Millionflame. Though, I was expecting someone, oh, I don’t know, bigger and more intimidating than you.”
The Demoness who spoke was the only one I had seen in the Stronghold to this point. And alone, she sat on what appeared to be a throne in this throne room. It was easy to assume she was the ruler of this castle; the Demon Lord.
I tried my best to steady my breathing, but it was taking more than I could muster to keep it under control. I narrowed my eyes to a defiant glare and raised my staff towards her. I put all of my energy into my next words.
Time to declare war.
“I-I-I h-have been… been sent t-to…”
Why can’t I get the words out?”
“Not exactly intimidating, are you now?” Von Millionflame stifled back her laughter as she spoke
I was silently screaming to myself to act braver, and if nothing else, make it seem like I was confident. Maybe then I would be capable of psyching her out and catch her off guard at some point. The entirety of this was a maybe and completely dependent on me keeping up the act I was currently stumbling over.
“But that’s how the old tales go, yes?” she put one clawed hand to her chin and looked up as if she was deep in thought. Had I been completely ignored already? “The Hero, brave and tall, storms the Demon’s home, and they fight fiercely. In the end, either the Demon remains standing, or the Hero is able to return home alive. That’s how all the tales I was told went, correct?”
I was left there dumbfounded as she proceeded to think aloud in front of me as if I was not even worth giving the time of day to. I am sure my jaw was hanging slack.
“If the Hero is strong enough to take on a Demon alone, it doesn’t matter their stature, theoretically speaking. But, I was hoping for someone more defining of the word ‘Hero’ to arrive. You do understand, right?” While she continued to mumble to herself, I began to wonder if maybe this was my chance.
I took stock of the situation as quickly as I could. I am a mage who specializes in the history of sorcery and magic theory. My magic is weak, but my strongest nature type is water-natured. I am facing down the Demon Lord. I know nothing about her specifically, other than she might be easily distracted. But I do know some basics of Demons. They are creatures known to be almost pure magic.
At the start of the world, there was a war between the Gods and the Devils. In order to show their individual dominance over the other, both sides created a race of beings to wage war in their place. The Gods gave birth to the Elf race, while the Devils brought forth the Demons. Still, the war waged on endlessly, as both sides were unable to defeat the other entirely. From this more races were stemmed forth. The goblins, the dwarves, the orcs, the humans and even demihumans.
As time passed, the war settled to a stalemate and world lines were drawn. Skirmishes would break out creating new wars, but the fact remained the same, the two strongest races were, and always will be, the Elves and the Demons.
In comparison to my strongest spells, her beginner spells would most likely trump them. That is just the leagues of difference between our base abilities.
Taking everything into account, I came to only one conclusion:
I was screwed.
There was no way I could beat her in a direct confrontation. But I believe I have one advantage. The element of surprise. I held two surprises for her at this moment. For one thing, she is currently distracted and paying me no attention. I can catch her off guard and possibly pull one over her. The other is a slight ace up my sleeve.
Normally, mages have to incantate their spells to produce them. The words work both on the energy in the air and on the mental focus of the mage. If they don’t concentrate on the shape of the magic it would fail, and the words spoken helped keep their focus.
But, Father has found a way around this. In his many years of adventuring, he developed a new form of chanting that lowered the number of words significantly. Now, basic spells and some above that needed only their names spoken to activate them. Father had taken it a step further and could activate them without a word for some. And I was one of the few who had mastered this technique.
I can barrage her with a flurry of spells and crush her before she has even a chance to react. That is my plan. I just hope I can pull it off.
I steadied my staff, once again pointed right at the Demoness and readied my spell as quietly as I was able to. She continued to mumble absentmindedly. In a hushed voice, I whispered my spell, “Orbis”.
“Maybe you are the messenger sent to announce the Hero’s true coming? How brazen could one be to give up the element of surprise. Though I was waiting for the Hero to come regardless, so I am prepared either way.” She continued to talk to herself instead of noticing the incoming attack.
Surrounding me came forth several spheres of water that steadily grew in size to almost the size of a wagon wheel. Concentrating harder, several more began to form in a pattern that completely engulfed the Demon Lord lost in thought.
“Or is it possible that you are sent here to negotiate peace. That would be something the weak Humans would try in hopes of avoiding needless bloodshed. Quite possible…”
And with all of my might, I sent each of them hurtling at her at a speed that no one should have possibly been able to react to. In an instant, the Demon Lord was completely engulfed in a sea of conjured water as I concentrated on tightening the spells further down on her. I was hoping the pressure would be enough to end her, but if not, she should drown in the airless environment.
I kept pressing the spells further and added another on top of it. Induresko, a spell that froze the surface of the water into an impenetrable shield of ice. She was trapped with no hope of escape.
I began to relax once my spell had come to an end of a swirling white mist emitting off the massive frozen ball, and saw no further movement beneath the ice.
“I… I did it?” I choked out in disbelief. I was absolutely amazed that my plan worked as flawlessly as it did. I knew I was smart, but this was better than I had expected.
I fell down from all of my energy being drained and crumpled into a heap on the floor, laughing the entire time. “I did it! I seriously did it!”
My laughing came to a stop in an instant. I heard something I did not want to hear ever. My ice was breaking.
It wasn’t just a small crack coming from here or there. It was a massive one right in the middle.
And then another. And another.
I couldn’t respond. I was only able to watch as my spell fell apart before my eyes.
And with one final crack of the ice, it finally shattered, with splinters of ice flying in all directions. Some had dug into my skin on my arms while I had raised them to brace for the impact.
But they didn't last long as a massive heat wave crashed into me, melting the ice and sending me flying backwards into the doors I had entered from. I looked up through wincing eyes from the pain of my crash landing to see the Demoness standing amongst several waves of flames, completely unscathed and a brutally devious smile on her lips.
“Oh, so you did come here to be the Hero? So be it!”
Her voice was no longer soft like it was when I arrived. Now it crackled with fire and roared, so fiercely it made my blood run cold.
Worst of it all was her magic affinity, Fire. Normally, fire-natured magic was easy to quell by water-natured magic. This was beginner’s knowledge. But her powers were so densely powerful, she was able to defend herself with the essence of her fire magic against a massive wave of water spells.
In short, She truly is a monster.
So much for that plan…
I knew I shouldn’t have been putting my money on a surprise attack being enough to quell a Demon, let alone Von Millionflame here.
“Prepare yourself, Hero. This shall be a fight spoken of for all ages!” She stepped forward with flames emanating off of her scaled hands and her pointed, red tail flicking as she walked closer. Her heels clicked loudly against the stone floor with each step.
... It's a good thing I didn’t just have a plan A.
Weary, I raised my hand, still clenching my staff, up at her.
“Ah, I see!” she cheered as she continued her casual approach, her magenta eyes gleaming passionately in the glow of the fires, “You aren’t ready to concede yet. Yes! Give me your best shot!”
I was raised by Alfred Magnus, the most famous Mage in history. There is no way his craftiness hadn’t rubbed off on me. And one thing he had taught me, which I never thought I would need to remember, was never go into a fight without at least one back up plan.
“Sure thing,” I replied as I raised my staff higher over her, and cried out one more spell, “Lapsus cadentem!”
This finally seemed to catch her full attention, as she stopped where she was and followed the path of my staff up to the ceiling above. Cracks started to appear in the stone ceiling as it began to bow downwards over her. Through those cracks came drips of water.
As the creaking of the ceiling continued, the drops became small streams of water and ice. The Demoness paused as she stared at the ceiling with great confusion crossing her face.
But before she could understand what was happening, the ceiling gave way. Crashing down on her was a torrent of ice, water and snow mixed with the broken stones of the ceiling. Her eyes grew wide as the massive spell landed on her, crushing her in an instant.
I had been stocking that spell up since the moment I began the first wave of spells. I was hoping to not have to use it since now my magic was completely spent, but I am glad I prepared for it just in case.
The wave of ice flowed forward and ended right at my feet. The weight of this spell was more than enough to crush anyone foolish enough to get caught in it. I had won. It had taken all that I had, but I had won.
“I finally did it.” I spoke through clenched teeth as I pulled myself up, using my staff as a crutch to a standing position once again. “Maybe I should wait until I am better before going to see Krystal. I am wiped from the magic drain.”
When a mage uses the entirety of his energy, it affects their health at that moment. They can come down with massive headaches that last until the magic restores itself slowly over time on the light end, and complete organ failure in the worst case scenario.
Currently, my vision was starting to blur slightly, and my mind was going foggy. I was incapable of seeing straight, let alone thinking straight.
But after a nice rest and even some food, I should be fine in quick order. My abilities aren't extensive, so using it up wouldn’t affect me as much as someone with much more.
I turned to walk as best I could to the dining hall I had passed earlier. Most likely, there would be food somewhere nearby. I had to make it there and relax until I was better.
I began to push the doors open with what remained of my strength, but froze when I heard the sound I feared to hear behind me.
“Where do you think you are going? We are not done here yet.”
Hesitantly, I turned to see my mountain of ice, melting quickly into steam and rising to the heavens of the now open ceiling above. Without warning, a massive spire of fire erupted from the center of the melting mound, like a volcano unleashing its fury.
In a gust of super-heated winds, the flames separated, revealing the Demon Lord standing upright with steam still billowing off her body.
“You dare attack me in such a cowardly way. And you had the gall to believe such a paltry spell would be enough to inflict the most insignificant amount of harm on me? What’s worse, you attempted to destroy my throne room with your assault. This is a sin punishable by death. Accept your fate, Hero!”
With each breath she took as she spoke, the surrounding flames grew more and more intense. The tapestries behind her caught fire, and the ebony throne itself began to melt.
You are the one doing more damage to your throne room than me!
My energy was gone, but without hesitation, my feet began to turn and grip for traction so they were able to make their way as far from the conflagration as possible. Turning tail and running was my third and unfortunately final plan I had come up with before entering.
“Don’t you dare run, Human!” echoed behind me. I did not want to look back, but I could tell that as fast as I was running, she was not falling behind in the slightest. I tried increasing my speed further.
I wanted to look for a hiding spot, anywhere I was able to escape her grasp, but the hope of finding one in her domain was slim at best. There was no way she would not know all the best hiding places in here like the back of her hand. Hiding was not an option. I had to make my way out of the Stronghold, then maybe I could survive.
But as I navigated my way through the seemingly endless number of halls in this massive fortress, I started to question my recollection of the route out of the castle. I remembered taking the door on the far end, then taking a right down the split in paths, ending in the dining hall, right?
But as I crashed through the wooden doors, I came to a halt. This was a massive room, but it was not the dining hall from earlier. Had I made the correct turns? Or was it because I had been following it in a reverse order and I had failed to account for the flipping of directions?
Curse my horrible sense of direction!
“Stand and fight, Human! Do not flee from your retribution!”
The echoing of her call told me that it was not safe to sit and think further. Only to run faster and pray, I stumbled my way to safety quickly.
That was the only thing I was capable of thinking at that moment.
But no matter how much I forced myself forward, it felt completely useless.
My entire body felt as if it was going to fall apart with each pound of my feet against the stone floor. My lungs burned with each breath I struggled to take.
Despite the number of doors I crashed through, I couldn’t find any resemblance of an escape from this literal hellhole.
I, in my utter incompetence, briefly looked over my shoulder and stared deep into my death approaching fast on my heels. Flames scorched the walls and obliterated anything in her path as she moved in quickly on my heels.
“You cannot escape, Human! I shall catch you soon! Hahaha!”
Her laugh sounded so deranged, I was able to tell her anger had reached a boiling point and had tipped over into pure madness. I had poked the proverbial sleeping bear and now was trying my best to outrun death.
In a desperate attempt to live even a second longer, I strained my body beyond its limit and sped up further.Disregarding my fatigue, I doubted I had run faster than this in my life. I have never exactly been considered athletic, but this was astounding how quickly I was moving. Not that I was reveling in that fact in joy, but rather was too focused on the path before me.
But that was completely in vain, as somehow I found myself airborne. I had stumbled over something. Whether it was a loose stone or my own feet was meaningless now as I came crashing to the ground in the least graceful way I ever have in my life.
That laugh sounded too close for me to wallow in self-pity. I sputtered to get to my feet, but instead, I just clawed my way forward in a crawl.
I wasn’t paying attention to what was in front of me and crashed face-first into a wall. I fell to my back and looked for an exit, but no luck.
“Dead end! Hahahaha!”
From the other end of the hall stood the Demoness. She looked down on me with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye. It was like a hunter finally cornering its prey and savoring the kill.
Though all the fire before me, my blood flowed like ice in my veins. Standing there was a literal reaper cloaked in crimson red. With echoing heels, she slowly proceeded down the hall towards me.
Raising a hand engulfed in flames towards me, she spoke with a boastful power behind it.
“Prepare for perpetual torture for your crimes against me.”
Out of desperation, I raised my arms up to cover my face. I regret even thinking I could survive being here, let alone slaying this beast.
I only wanted to go back. But if I did without slaying this monster, I would be executed on site for treachery. Either way, I began to accept my fate.
Like waves on the water, the memories of my life started rippling across my mind.
I remembered my young childhood. Being raised far from the bustle of the cities in a quiet village with my parents. Not a care in the world, and ever joyous. I remember them being called on a Quest. I remember receiving the news from Magnus that they would not be returning and that he would take care of me like a father from that day on.
I remember moving to Stalvart with Magnus and being trained by him as his only apprentice. He claimed to have seen potential in me with my abilities, but I never saw what he did in me. Though he never pushed me harder than I was able to handle, he tried expanding my skill set, but instead ended up settling on magic theory, rather than practice. He sent me to the most prestigious magic academy in the Human Realm, Thamaturgis, to become a full-fledged mage.
I remember meeting our neighbors for the first time, the Scarlet's. Anders and his daughter would visit on a regular basis, and Krystal would then take me out on adventures through Stalvart and beyond its walls. I remember doing my best to keep up with her demands for excitement, like playing knights with sticks and being unable to defend myself from her barrages. Even if she regularly brought me to tears, she was also the first to defend me when other kids in our neighborhood would bully me.
The longer I recalled the past, the harder it was to keep the tears from welling up behind my eyes. I didn’t want this. I just wanted to live a simple, peaceful life with my loved ones, no matter how few of them there were.
But here I was facing my own mortality in the fiery eyes. What stung the most was in my final moments I wouldn’t be able to see them as I went. I wasn’t even able to say farewell to them.
Quietly to myself, I began my goodbyes.
...Krystal. Father. Everyone, I will miss you! Mom. Dad. I will be joining you soon...
Right above me, Von Millionflame came to a halt. Reaching down, she grabbed my collar and raised me high in the air. It was at that moment I realized just how tall she was in comparison to me. She had raised me above her head, and yet the ground was so far below me.
I struggled to breath as she gripped harder, the grin she had grown wider and more demented as she watched me continue to put up a fight. “Any last words, Human? I am a merciful ruler, and will provide you with this last entreaty.”
My mind was fading to darkness as I gasped for air. In utter desolation, I spoke my final thoughts:
“I LOVE YOU!”
Everything seemed to fall into silence as I could feel my life ebbing away. The flames grew colder around me. I tried looking forward through my glassy eyes to see my death coming, but the Demon Lord had stopped moving. Even the raging inferno surrounding her had calmed to a dull roar.
“What did you just say?”
I wasn’t sure what she was saying, I hadn’t said anything, had I? I wasn’t able to respond anyway, as my airway was still constricted.
“I demand you to repeat yourself!” The Demoness shook me after dropping to hold me by my shoulders. Finally, I was capable of breathing again, as I sputtered and coughed hard, unable to answer her demands at that moment. “Now, speak, I order you!”
“I… I…” I tried to say that I didn’t know what I had said, let alone what was going on at that moment. But I couldn’t through my hacking up a lung.
“Y-you said… that you…” Von Millionflame started stuttering, seemingly incapable of putting her words together. For once, she seemed out of her element and discomposed. “...that y-you… lo-lo-love… me?”
As she finished her question, the flames exploded back to life, filling the whole hall with incredible heat. Through the light of the flames, I was able to see her head down, her bangs obscuring her eyes. But still, her entire face seemed red and flustered. And rightfully so.
“I did!?” I yelled back in surprise, hearing her accusation. My face heated up to an incredible temperature, which had nothing to do with the fires surrounding me.
When did I do that? Why would I do that?
Having heard my response, The Demon Lord raised her head in a rush and took a deep breath through her nose. “If that is the case, you must stay true to your word! We two shall become… become engaged at once!”
She struggled to get those final words out, but as she did, she turned her eyes away, them twinkling in the fiery light like a shy little girl would when she was too nervous to directly express her feelings.
My eyes went wide in my head. I struggled to object to her decision, but I couldn’t. My magic drain was finally catching up to me and my head went blank. In an instant, everything went dark, and I drifted off into a deep sleep.