Chapter 7:

Chapter 7

I Was Tasked With Defeating The Demon Lord, But For Some Reason, She Is Now My Girlfriend!?

Several hours had passed since I had schlepped my tired body into the bed. Bookmark here

I had no idea when it had happened, but now the warm amber glows of the morning sun were filling the once darkened room.Bookmark here

Groggily, I stirred from my resting place and slowly stumbled from the bed to my feet. With a long yawn, I reached for the latch on the door and raised it from its holster. I had just opened the door when I was greeted with a familiar surprise.Bookmark here

“Good morning, Lawrence! I hope you slept well, my dear.”Bookmark here

“Good morning, Lillim,” I responded with another yawn. Was I already getting used to her surprises, or just that tired? Hard to tell. Though the bit she tacked onto the end was enough to raise a brow.Bookmark here

“I have your breakfast ready!” A warm smile erupted on her face as she offered another silvery tray filled with food to me. I hadn’t even removed the last one from this room at this point.Bookmark here

I was far too tired to come up with a good excuse not to eat fast enough, so I let my mouth go on autopilot again.Bookmark here

“Are you sure?” I pointed to where we were, “I mean, we are in a bedroom once more. Alone.”Bookmark here

A couple of moments passed as Lillim looked between the food she had brought and the bedroom. Suddenly, steam erupted from her ears as her face turned a scarlet color. Bookmark here

“Right! How foolish! This is no place to eat! Come, Lawrence! We shall eat in the dining hall.”Bookmark here

I loved to have turned the offer down in some fashion, but before I could interject, I was hoisted into the air by Lillim and carried under her arm like someone would carry a sack.Bookmark here

I was jostled down the winding halls of her Stronghold while the scenery blurred incoherently.I hadn’t realized that I had even come to a halt when I found myself in the head chair of a wooden feast hall table with enough room to seat some 50 people.Bookmark here

I looked around in bewilderment, trying to figure out where in the colossal castle this room was located, since I had traveled the halls several times in the last day and had yet to run across this one in particular. But that ended in vain, as this seemed to be yet another new addition to my sprawling map of the domicile.Bookmark here

“Lawrence, say ‘ah~hh’.”Bookmark here

I faced Lillim, who, unsurprisingly, was holding a breakfast pastry filled with meat and dripping with honey before my lips.Bookmark here

Again?Bookmark here

“Uh, Lillim?” I asked, unsure where to even lead the conversation, as many questions and concerns swirled endlessly in my mind.Bookmark here

“Yes, my love?”Bookmark here

I guess that is as good of a place to start as any.Bookmark here

“Why are you doing this? Why do you love me?”Bookmark here

Lillim set the breakfast debacle down and straightened her posture. “I do not understand what you mean? Why would I not show my affections for you? When you confessed your love first? It would be disrespectful to turn your emotions away heartless, correct?”Bookmark here

“I know what I said,” though honestly I did not, “but do you not find this at least a little odd? You were confessed to by a human. And you, you’re a demon yourself? Don’t you desire my head on a spike or something gruesome?”Bookmark here

“Lawrence?” Lillim’s eyes began to rim with tears, “I-”Bookmark here

I cut her off, voicing as many ideas as quickly as I could to her.Bookmark here

“We are not of the same race. Our races have been at war since the dawn of time. Demons have done so many atrocities to humans. And Demons have only seen humans as lesser beings. Not even worth acknowledging on a power scale.”Bookmark here

“Lawrence, please-”Bookmark here

“And here you are. Serving me food like a cute couple on a date? You are the Demon Lord, are you not? What happened to the power, the dominance you showed upon my arrival? Weren’t you going to make an example of me as a Hero?”Bookmark here

“Lawrence-!”Bookmark here

“What is going on? Why do I feel like the only sane person in this world, while everything I ever knew is crashing around me? Why-”Bookmark here

I had been spewing words as quickly as I had been thinking them. I hadn’t even been watching Lillim for her reaction as I unloaded on her, let alone giving even the slightest breathing room to console my concerns as I barraged her.Bookmark here

But that had ended in an instant.Bookmark here

In the middle of my tirade, I found myself with my feet dangling in the air once more, with a sharp pain radiating out from my shoulders. I glanced to the side to see Lillim’s hands grasping hard at my upper arms as she held me eye level to her. Her eyes had turned an inflamed red, as she was clearly straining to keep her tears back. She huffed and puffed repeatedly through her nostrils as smoke and sparks escaped from her clenched teeth.Bookmark here

There it is. Bookmark here

There was the fire. There was the rage I was expecting.Bookmark here

There was no way she could keep up the farce of a ‘romance’ as I exposed the ruse. Bookmark here

I expected my death at any moment now, as she returned to her demonic self.Bookmark here

But that wasn’t what happened.Bookmark here

Suddenly, and without warning, I found myself buried deep in Lillim’s arms as she squeezed me tightly into her chest. Taken aback, I was not able to respond as my whole body went completely limp. Unlike what I had grown accustomed to, I was not in pain.Bookmark here

Is it possible to be so tightly embraced by a woman so foreboding and powerful and not be crushed within an inch of my life? The only difference I could quickly account for was how my entire head was engulfed in Lillim’s ample cleavage. Bookmark here

That was something that would never happen with Krystal. Sorry, my dear friend.Bookmark here

But my mind, nor my body, could not dwell there any longer, as I was raised up once again to face Lillim. Her brow line was set hard, but she was no longer wavering on the inside.Bookmark here

“I love you, Lawrence.”Bookmark here

I was astonished by her declaration after all that had been said.Bookmark here

“I love you, and that is the only thing that matters. I am not even sure of why myself. And what does it matter if I do not understand love? Who understands love? Undoubtedly, not you, nor I.”Bookmark here

She lowered me down slightly in order to set me on my feet again, but her hands never left my shoulders as she continued. “Whatever apprehensions cloud your thoughts, heed them no mind. As we can conquer them. But we can only do that together. Therefore, I make you this promise.”Bookmark here

With that, she stood tall, the top of my head barely matching her upper arms as she took one of my hands in hers, lacing our fingers together. Bookmark here

“I promise to never leave your side. No matter what torments come your way, I promise to vanquish them for you. The only thing I ask for you in return is to do the same.”Bookmark here

Lillim leaned down once more, placing a warm hand on my cheek as I gazed on, completely bewildered by the pact set at my feet. “I shall ask you once more. Lawrence Larkdale, do you promise to stay with me, forever?” Bookmark here

I had no idea what lay at the end of the contract, but at that moment I felt like there was only a singular thing I could possibly say in response. Bookmark here

“Lillim,” I placed a hand over hers on my cheek, “I promise.”Bookmark here

Lillim’s face warmed greatly as her eyes creased into a brilliant smile, which radiated with so much intensity that it caused a warped smile to appear on mine. Bookmark here

“This, in my limited experience, is what love assuredly is. And I love you, Lawrence. I truly do.”Bookmark here

I couldn’t keep gazing upon that beautiful face as it inched closer to mine, her forehead almost grazing against mine. I turned away, completely embarrassed.Bookmark here

“I am sorry, Lillim,” I sheepishly blurted out, “uh, you know, for before.”Bookmark here

Lillim sighed through her smile as she rose upright once more, “Perish the thought. We are now entwined as one. Nothing so trivial will cause us to depart from each other.”Bookmark here

Though the thought of being espoused with a Demon, let alone the Demon Lord, was a concept that probably had never existed previously to a human in a positive light. But here I was, living it. Yet…Bookmark here

Depart? Bookmark here

Oh, crap! I am not supposed to be here. I started pacing around the feast room as I began another long dialogue with my conscience.Bookmark here

Disregarding the fact that never once in recorded history had a human and a Demon coexisted peacefully, I was still bound by my Quest. As far as I understood the order, I was not allowed to return to Stalvart until the Demon Lord, Lillim, was dead. But there was no way for me to do that, as she outclassed me in all aspects of strength. Plus, it would reflect poorly on me to slay a lady who truly did have the deepest affections for me.Bookmark here

Curse my morals finally kicking in...Bookmark here

In fact, I still am feeling nauseous for even attempting what I had the night before. So in the end, Lillim's life was safe.Bookmark here

But as for mine?Bookmark here

I have never heard of a Hero returning unsuccessfully from a Quest. It was unthinkable. As the Hero always returned triumphant or died seeking that honorable end. But was that the only outcome?Bookmark here

No story I had ever come across discussed such a possibility. There has never been a law or precedent made on what was to happen to those who failed their Quests and returned. As such, I believe, it became socially accepted that failure led to execution.Bookmark here

But there was anything that said that was the final outcome, right?Bookmark here

And what of subjugation? Was that an optional route in my Quest?Bookmark here

I knew what Delphai had prophesied, how I would slay the Demon Lord. And I remembered that Archbishop Britedon had reassured me one way or another the prophecy would come to pass. So would that mean that some day, whether soon or sometime long from now, I will…?Bookmark here

Honestly, taking into account what I had been through in the last day's time, I'd rather not continue the thought further.Bookmark here

But I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind for a while now that was gnawing its way to the surface.Bookmark here

If the prophecy is correct, one way or another, could we be interpreting the meaning incorrectly. I had poured over the words restlessly in the back of my mind, but never had a hidden meaning surfaced.Bookmark here

But something that did catch my attention was that Delphai never named the Demon Lord. Unfortunately for humanity, there wasn't a single Demon Lord. It was a collective term for all high-bred Demons, their ruling class, who out ranked the others in both authority and prowess. So, was it possible Lillim is not the one I am destined to slay?Bookmark here

I kept repeating the words of the prophecy over and over again until they felt distant and unrecognizable. I needed to return to Stalvart and try to talk to Delphai about the prophecy in detail.Bookmark here

But that returned me back to my first problem; can I even go back?Bookmark here

"AHHRRRGGGG!" I bellowed out in frustration as I scrambled up the sides of my hair with my hands.Bookmark here

Suddenly, my hands were unable to move further. I glanced over to see Lillim holding my wrists, preventing further dishevelment to my hair.Bookmark here

"Lawrence!" Lillim cried out, "I have been calling your name for minutes now. Are you alright?"Bookmark here

I inhaled deeply, attempting to calm my nerves prior to speaking. Especially to the person whose life I had weighed taking earlier. Bookmark here

"I-I am fine, Lillim. Thank you. I am- I just… I am puzzled."Bookmark here

"Tell me your woes," Lillim cooed softly as she pulled me to the seats and held me close. Though this gesture was warm and inviting, it wasn't helping my mental state, both in bringing me closer to one of my problems and the way she held my head pointed my eyes into the vast chasm of her bosom.Bookmark here

Once again, I tried to set my mind straight as I needed to carefully pick my words, lest I reveal something unbecoming. Bookmark here

"I… I need to go back. Back to Stalvart. I-I am just supposed to be a simple magic professor. And being gone for so long, I may have lost my job already. I am worried about that."Bookmark here

Obviously, that wasn't my main concern. But to say it wasn't a concern would be a lie. I was worried about my job, as I never discussed what would happen to my position with Father before being called out on the Quest. The Quest itself trumped the majority of my concerns at the moment. But slightly more worrying to me at this exact moment was what Krystal might do if I didn't return.Bookmark here

Knowing her, she might raise an army to storm the castle and seek revenge. Without knowing what was happening on the inside, that may turn into a bigger disaster than what I was already in. I needed to nip that catastrophe in the bud.Bookmark here

"Stalvart? In the Human Territory?" Lillim's eyes radiated a brilliant light as her voice rose in elation at the word. Her breathing became excited as she grabbed my shoulders and pulled me right next to her face. “You need to go to the Human Territory?”Bookmark here

"Uh... I-I uhh…"Bookmark here

“Ahem. What I mean to say is, of course, you need to return to the Human Territory. It is obvious, correct?” Lillim rose up and began to puff out her chest in a matter of fact sort of way as she continued, “And just as obvious as that truth is that we are bound together. What, with that fact, if you are to return to your home, I shall have to follow you wherever you may go. It is only right for me to do so, correct? Indeed, I am right.”Bookmark here

“Uh… I-I uhh…”Bookmark here

I couldn’t really argue with her and her logic. Mostly, I couldn’t argue out of fear of retaliation. Though, in all honesty, if what she said was her true feelings, then it would make sense that she would stay by my side like she had promised. She had stayed consistent on this resolution since the beginning, and I shouldn’t question her further.Bookmark here

Though, I was a little concerned as to why she so desperately wanted to go to Stalvart. She had yet to display any interest in humans to this point, other than myself, so it is quite shocking her thrill over it.Bookmark here

In fact, she has been muttering under her breath about “proper attire” and “social etiquette of the Human Territory" for several minutes now.Bookmark here

“Right!” Lillim finally stopped mumbling and stretched out her hand towards me, "It has been decided. Pack your belongings, Lawrence. We must depart immediately."Bookmark here

"Um, Lillim?" I began wearily, trying to wrap my mind around the hasty decision, “My belongings are packed, remember? I came with only my bag and nothing else and never really had the time to unpack.”Bookmark here

Lillim’s pink eyes fluttered repeatedly at this revelation as she sat motionless for several moments.Bookmark here

“And if anyone would need to pack, it would be you, right? Or were you planning on going for the long time we shall be there with just the clothes on your back?”Bookmark here

“Uhh…”Bookmark here

Clearly Lillim had not taken that into account as she stood there dumbfounded for the first time in the short time I have known her. Bookmark here

“P-pack?” Lillim began to stutter as her eyes darted around, “Right, I knew that! I intend to begin packing now! And for a long stay, as you had said! I shall prepare and return in a moment! Do not go anywhere in the meantime, Lawrence. I will return posthaste!”Bookmark here

Why are you yelling?Bookmark here

As Lillim called out, she put a hand to the side of her mouth and proceeded to yell out the open door like she was trying to get someone’s attention. And without missing a beat, she ran through the door, slamming it behind her. From down the hall, I could hear her crying out repeatedly “stupid, stupid” as it faded behind her.Bookmark here

I am starting to notice the best policy to deal with the insanity that a Demon Lord brings is to just ignore it and continue on with your business. So, acting like nothing was wrong with my life, I trudged my way through the snaking halls to where I had attempted to sleep the night prior. But, once again, I found myself utterly lost amongst the labyrinth castle’s way. Bookmark here

Taking one final turn, I ran face-first into a soft and springy mass, pushing me back. Peering up, I noticed I had run right into Lillim. More specifically  into her chest as it perfectly matched me in height. Straightening up, in more than just a single way, I bow repeatedly, apologizing for my blunder.Bookmark here

“Ah, Lawrence. Where did you go? I have been looking all over for you.”Bookmark here

I was about to explain how I easily found myself lost in her Stronghold several times, and it was getting worse with each passing pursuit. But my attention was first grabbed by the copious number of black suitcases behind her. Bookmark here

“Um, Lillim? Where did you-”Bookmark here

“I brought your knapsack and your staff. Everything is accounted for. We shall be off immediately!”Bookmark here

Sooner than I could inquire if she was planning on bringing all the suitcases with her, I was cut off and ushered down the twisting halls to the front entrance of the Stronghold. I was also perturbed by how she had packed them so quickly to leave. Or had she prepared them beforehand? Was she planning on leaving soon before I had mentioned needing to go?Bookmark here

But, one more time, I was not allowed the proper time to contemplate this issue as I found myself outside the iron gates of the entryway. It took no time for us to make it so far that I hadn’t even noticed we were outside until my eyes started to burn from the intense sunlight suddenly filling my vision.Bookmark here

I need to learn the layout of that castle one day…Bookmark here

I shifted on my feet to see Lillim holding my bag and staff out to me. I gathered them both from her and readied them on my person. Bookmark here

But then, I noticed the small mountain of suitcases behind Lillim had come with her. How did she carry them with her when she had both hands on me? The more I see her accomplish, the more I fear what destruction she was capable of if she put her mind to it.Bookmark here

Sighing in defeat at the notion, I took a final look at the visage of the dark-stoned surface of the Stronghold. I knew it would (hopefully) be a long time until I would return here. No point trying to memorize the floor plan now. So, mentally, I said my goodbye.Bookmark here

"It will be some time until we return here, Lillim. Remember that."Bookmark here

"Return?" Lillim asked perplexed. She raised a hand flat towards the massive stone fortress and began speaking in what I could only assume was the Demon tongue. I couldn't decipher the meaning of the words, but a soft red light emanated from her hand.Bookmark here

Without warning, the walls of the castle began to shudder. Slowly, in succession to each other, the stones fell to the ground. Upon landing, they melted into the mud and clay below, as if they had never existed in the first place.Bookmark here

I was completely awestruck. Never had I seen such a spell. The closest was an earth-natured spell that split the ground to swallow its target and close up behind it. But this was more natural and almost as if it was an organic flow of the landscape.Bookmark here

As the spell came to an end, all that was left in its wake was an even surface on the ground and a swirling mist of dust above it. No brush nor debris was in the large clearing. As if it had always been cleared throughout history.Bookmark here

"I do not plan to return, Lawrence," lowering her arm to her side, Lillim turned to face me directly, "I am bound to you. I only go where you wish to go. And if that is to the Human Territory, then that is where I shall dwell."Bookmark here

I looked on still to the now vanished Stronghold. “Is that how they are created? Strongholds are just spells?”Bookmark here

"Hmm?" Lillim murmured in confusion at my question. "Why, yes, of course. Strongholds are created with the owner's magic. The shape and design are reflections of the casters heart and mental state. And the castle of Stalvart…" at the mention of the capital's castle, Lillim raised her hands cupping her cheeks and began to drool slightly, "it's so magnificent. I must meet the caster."Bookmark here

I did not have the heart at that moment to tell her that it was the work of several workers and designers over countless centuries. Not nearly as bewildering as a Demon’s Stronghold’s creation, but a feat nonetheless.Bookmark here

“Right…?” I moved on my heels and began to trek into the thicket of the forest, sighing as I sized up my endeavor, “This will be a long journey on foot. We’d best leave now.”Bookmark here

“On foot?”Bookmark here

Why is everything I say not getting through to her…?Bookmark here

“Do you have a better idea, Lillim? I am not the best at directions, or else I would be able to get us there faster.”Bookmark here

Standing upright, Lillim waved her hand in a beckoning motion towards me. I hypothesized she did indeed have a plan and move before her like she wanted.Bookmark here

Leaning down again to match my height, she pressed her forehead against mine and held my cheeks with her hands. “Close your eyes. Imagine where you want to go. Have the vision as clear as possible for me.”Bookmark here

“O-ok?” I wondered what her plan was as I did as she asked. Squeezing my eyes shut, I pictured the front gates of Thamaturgis, the passages I had wandered through countless times in my life. It was simple to see it in my mind's eye due to its pure familiarity to me.Bookmark here

The deeper I remembered the details of the academy, I felt a warmth swirl around my body, emanating from Lillim’s touch. I winced as a bright light seemed to begin to glow on the other side of my eyelids. But slowly that faded and I hesitantly opened my eyes.Bookmark here

We were in a grassy plain that was lined with trees. Sporadically spread out in the field were people, human people specifically. They were laying out in the pleasant warmth of the daylight. Some were playing and moving about jovially, but as soon as we locked eyes with each other, everyone came to a halt.Bookmark here

I scanned my surroundings for a minute, trying to figure out where exactly we were. In a flash, it became clear to me. We were in a park set aside for the citizens of Stalvart located just a few blocks away from Thamaturgis. I had taken many breaks from studying on the benches that lined the walkways of the park. Bookmark here

I swung to face Lillim with haste.Bookmark here

“Wait!” I exclaimed loudly. “We are in Stalvart? How!? We were so far away. Was that yanwæ? You can cast that spell? I didn’t know Demon’s knew that spell. And you used my vision as a destination? How? That’s not possible!”Bookmark here

I mean, we weren’t exactly where I had pictured us arriving, but it was closer than I could do with my abilities.Bookmark here

Lillim shrugged slightly, “Yanwæ? I know not what you speak of. But yes, this spell is easily produced if you make a circuit of magic, connecting your magic desire with my spell, to move us here. That has been a spell known to Demon’s for generations.”Bookmark here

For generations? I thought Father had developed it when he was younger…? I need to talk to him about it.Bookmark here

But I had a bigger problem to deal with first.Bookmark here

“Freeze! Don’t move!”Bookmark here

Upon our arrival, the peaceful meadow had since fallen into chaos. Not only had a large magic spell shown up mysteriously, scorching the ground in its wake. But out of its center stood a tall and proud Demon. Even without the common man knowing the difference, anyone present who gazed upon Lillim knew undeniably she was of the highest class of Demons.Bookmark here

Citizens ran in terror, collecting their children in their arms and colliding into one another in an attempt to flee first.Bookmark here

In their place arrived the Royal Guards, swords and spears at the ready, as they encircled us, making a defensive perimeter.Bookmark here

I raised my arms in a sign of surrender and tried to motion to Lillim to do the same. Instead, she stood there, her hands clasped together as she glanced around with joy in her eyes at the houses and buildings visible just beyond the treetops. “Success! We are in the Human Territory!”Bookmark here

I couldn’t help but grimace at her obliviousness to our dire situation as the guards closed in, taking us into their custody.Bookmark here

Israeli Kaiser
Marshall Eastman
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