Chapter 9:

Chapter 9

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


I had readjusted my tie several times in the last few minutes, but no matter what I did to it, I felt like it never sat right on me. Sighing in defeat, I finally resigned myself and let it lay where it may.Bookmark here

Moving over to the mirror, I gave myself one final check over before continuing on. I had on my nicest slacks with a matching white button up shirt.Bookmark here

I needed to adjust the collar after messing with it so many times while being frustrated with my tie. The tie, long and black, issued to all of the faculty of the academy, did not look good on me no matter what I did to it.Bookmark here

I was starting to miss my old red one that signified me as a student, but it wouldn't be appropriate for a professor to ignore the dress code prior to the first day of class.Bookmark here

Actually, my first day was a few days ago at this point. I hadn't actually gotten a chance to begin my duties as a teacher since I had been busy. What, with fighting and becoming engaged to a Demon Lord then starting a brand new political position and any of the new work that entails. Bookmark here

In the last week I felt my energy reserves running dry and sleep become too far and few in-between to be good for my health.Bookmark here

We're those bags starting to form under my eyes? Not good…Bookmark here

I did my best to shake the concerns from my mind while smacking my cheeks to stay mentally fresh.Bookmark here

I walked to the other side of my room and hoisted my mage's robe off the back. Slinging it over my shoulders, I pulled the heavy blue fabric as tight on my arms as possible until it fit snugly all the way around.Bookmark here

I inspected myself once more in the mirror. Finally, my tie started to look fashionable on me. It's the robe, it is important to my looks, it pulls my image together very well.Bookmark here

I smiled as I walked over to my door. Turning over my shoulder, I made a once over of my room. This was officially my first day in my allotted housing provided by the academy.Bookmark here

It was small, consisting mainly of a singular room, a cooking corner, an out of the way wash closet and plenty of room for a bed and work desk. It was small and quaint, but most importantly, it was mine. Bookmark here

Taking in the view of my room, I sighed in content and ended the spell causing the magic stone lamps to light up. As the room fell into darkness, I shut the door tightly and locked it up safely.Bookmark here

Moving swiftly, I charged down the school's halls. I had somewhere important to be and I needed to be there soon.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Elsewhere at about the same time.Bookmark here

Lillim sat alone in front of a mirror as well. The room in which she sat was graciously provided to her for her position as the newly appointed ambassador to the Demon Realm.Bookmark here

Her heart began to race at just the thought of her new responsibility. Having been raised to rule one day as a Demon Lord and oversee her own Domain, she should have been ready for the responsibilities. Bookmark here

Or at least that is what she had been telling herself. Bookmark here

She sighed softly so nobody could hear her, though she was very much alone in the massive suite provided to her. Bookmark here

The suite, though small in comparison to her personal lodgings in the Stronghold she had grown up in, was much larger than she had expected to be available for a Demon in the Human Territory. And this was regardless of her role as an ambassador.Bookmark here

After the treatment she had received upon her initial arrival, she hadn't expected to be given quarters, let alone somewhere so spacious. If she was being absolutely honest, she would say it seemed like they were trying to make up for her previous reception.Bookmark here

Swiveling in her seat, Lillim peered over the vastness of her new abode. The many shiny decorations scattered about felt tacky to her. Not that she could really speak. Her Stronghold, built around her heart and intentions, had much the same inside.Bookmark here

Another problem was how many chairs were apparently required for a single person's room. With couches and gilded chairs scattered about. Even the love seat felt a bit overkill.Bookmark here

But maybe the most disconcerting to her was the large bed set on the far wall of the room. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the bed itself, in fact, it looked just as wonderful to the eye as it was to lay in. Actually, it reminded her of the one she had at her Stronghold, minus the fact the color of the blankets and sheets were different.Bookmark here

The part that troubled her heart so greatly was the sheer size of it and how she couldn't share it with Lawrence. She clenched at her chest, attempting to quell her stormy heart as she thought of how little she had seen of Lawrence in the last few days.Bookmark here

In the time she had begun the process of formally becoming the Ambassador, Lillim had only seen him in passing and talked only briefly at a time only over paperwork mostly.Bookmark here

Heaving a crestfallen sigh, she slouched back into her seat before her vanity, looking sullenly at her reflection.Bookmark here

Her hair was in utter disarray. She was still in her silky undergarments, but had no desire at that exact moment to get dressed further. She needed to be dressed for tonight and she had plenty of time to do so, but her will to don them had long since faded.Bookmark here

Resting her chin in her hands, Lillim glanced over at the dress prepared for her for the evening. Truly, she did love the shade and feel of the fabric, but this ache in her heart prevented her from putting it on right then and there.Bookmark here

But then a vision flashed in her mind. It was of Lawrence. His hair was trimmed and styled up handsomely. The very dapper tuxedo he wore made her heart beat quicker. With a shiny clear face and a deep soothing voice, he spoke, "Lillim that dress you are wearing makes you look ever so beautiful. In fact your allure in this dress is so intense, I may not be able to help myself around you."Bookmark here

"Oh, Lawrence, you beast, people are watching," Lillim swooned, holding her blushing face in her hands. After a few moments of wiggling about in her seat, she finally opened her eyes. Realizing what she had just imagined, though she was still by herself, her face burned a furious red.Bookmark here

She covered her face while trying to look at herself in the mirror. She had a hard time locking view with her reflection but she had been able to focus on her mess of a hairdo.Bookmark here

"Wait!" she shot her hands into her hair, moving the rosy strands around as she went, "how did I have my hair then? Up? Down? Oh, why wasn't I paying better attention to the way he liked it?"Bookmark here

Rummaging around on the desk she searched for a comb. As soon as her fingers wrapped around the handle she brought it up and furiously began to brush her magenta locks.Bookmark here

Mumbling about different ways to wear her hair, Lillim was unaware of the door behind her beginning to open. Moving swiftly, a figure stepped into the room and closed the door behind, silently. It wasn’t until they were almost on top of Lillim did she happen to notice the reflection in the mirror.Bookmark here

Turning in her seat, she greeted her guest.Bookmark here

“Commander Scarlet, a pleasure to see you. Did you knock? I apologize for not coming to the door sooner. And please excuse my attire, I was in the middle of preparing for the event tonight.” Lillim said this while still brushing her hair.Bookmark here

Krystal stood there, out of her armored uniform and into a more casual outfit of baggy workers pants, and a cutoff sleeve shirt. She coldly stared down onto Lillim for a brief moment prior to bowing slightly and replying.Bookmark here

“My apologies, Lady Von Millionflame,” Krystal said in a soft voice, doing her best to conceal the sneer on her face as she spoke Lillim’s new title, “I let myself in. I thought you would not mind having an extra guard on duty."Bookmark here

Lillim definitely thought it would be a good idea. The guards that had been assigned to watch over her only sat outside her door and did nothing further, mostly just playing cards.Bookmark here

"And with us both being ladies," Krystal continued, still in a bow, "I thought it would be fine to enter without knocking. My sincerest apologies for having been wrong.”Bookmark here

“Oh, no trouble at all, Commander,” Lillim laughed lightly waving her hands in a way to clear the air, “But I insist, no need for formalities. As Lawrence’s friend, I ask that you call me by my first name. Just Lillim will do fine.”Bookmark here

“My apologies, Lady Von Millionflame,” Krystal answered in the same flat tone as before, “But the reason for my arriving was solely to inform you about the importance of tonight.”Bookmark here

Lillim’s laugh became weaker as she raised a brow in confusion. “I am sorry, Commander, but I do already know. Tonight’s gala shall be my debut as the Ambassador for the Demon Realm in your country’s stead. I shall mingle with the nobles and understand their needs and concerns for their people prior to reporting to the Demon’s capital and attempting to start negotiations.”Bookmark here

“Correct, Lady Von Millionflame. But there is a greater purpose to the gala than just that.”Bookmark here

As Krystal spoke, she rose to an upright position and opened her eyes fully for the first time in their conversation. Noticing the brush in Lillim’s hand, Krystal offered her hand to her. “If you wish, I could brush your hair for you.”Bookmark here

Lillim blinked in confusion towards Krystal's hand before turning the comb over.Bookmark here

"Yes of course, I would greatly appreciate it if you would. Thank you so much." Lillim turned to face the mirror, giving a slight smile in anticipation of her new friend styling her hair for her. She was excited to see what fashionable style was common in the human territory.Bookmark here

Like a gently blowing breeze, Lillim's hair was raised, separated and combed in such a soothing way. She had never experienced such bliss.Bookmark here

"As I was saying previously, Lady Von Millionflame," Krystal began again while working out Lillim's split ends, "the gala tonight is for more than you to meet your people. Likewise, it is for your people to meet you."Bookmark here

"Ah, yes," Lillim contemplated while remaining as still as possible, "I had considered that before. I suppose I was a bit too optimistic to disregard such a notion."Bookmark here

"The people are still disturbed by the notion of their leaders working with the Demon race. Who could blame them? All of us were told for our entire lives that Demons were to be feared no matter what. It was basic survival needs."Bookmark here

Though Lillim was doing her best not to move and disrupt Krystal's work, she couldn't help but slump down in her seat. She didn't want to think about it, but it was undeniable, Humans were terrified of her.Bookmark here

She didn't blame them. Growing up, she remembered being told of the glory Demons brought by massacring all of the other nations while sitting on her grandfather's knee. These stories were fantastical to her when she was younger, but as she grew older she realized how true they were.Bookmark here

What ashamed her the most was how she just accepted it as the only way things could be. It wasn't until she fell for Lawrence that she truly opened her heart to the world and wished for better.Bookmark here

And in return, the human’s had great contempt for her presence. So much so that a mob had arrived at some point in the kingdom's largest in front of the castle doors to protest her appointment. Most of them were members of the Church, the one led by Archbishop Britedon. They didn’t get very far with their requests to remove her from her post but many were whipped up into a frenzy that it was not impossible to hear them from anywhere within the capital.Bookmark here

What disturbed Lillim the most was how Archbishop Britedon did not subdue the masses. Though he did nothing to support them, his silence on the matter betrayed his seemingly warmer welcome than the others.Bookmark here

But Lillim did not want that to sully their future partnerships. So she had since tried to heed it no mind.Bookmark here

"I see." Lillim sighed, stifling the pain in her soul. "I shall keep that in mind and watch my words and actions at the gala. I thank you for your words of wisdom, Krystal. I greatly appreciate it."Bookmark here

Krystal's hands came to a stop, laying the comb down on the vanity, "Lady Von Millionflame. May I offer you another piece of advice?"Bookmark here

"Please, do." Lillim bounced with joy from the feeling of gaining yet another friend, patting Krystal's hand in approval. "I appreciate any help I can get. And I greatly appreciate that it is coming from you, Krystal."Bookmark here

Krystal took one section of Lillim's separated hair and prepared to braid it. But first she clenched it tightly and pulled sharply back. This caused Lillim to flinch and yowl in pain.Bookmark here

"Krystal? Is everything alright? Is something wrong?" She twinged in pain, trying to look back on the off-duty knight.Bookmark here

"Don't you dare say my name so nonchalantly."Bookmark here

Krystal spoke those words so softly under her breath, Lillim had assumed she had misheard it. Turning around to get a better look at her than the mirror provided, Lillim was stopped by a sudden surge of pain on her scalp again.Bookmark here

“I don't trust you,” Krystal leaned in close to Lillim's ear but keeping a slight distance away from her horn. “I don't like you and I don't trust you. I don't know what your plan is or what your end goal is. But I am watching you. Your every movement. And if you are just using Lawrence or if I find out that you have hurt him in any way, I swear, I will make your life a living hell. You will beg for death.”Bookmark here

Through the excruciating pain being inflicted on her head, Lillim fought hard to pull away from her hair's captor. But upon hearing that a question of Lawrence's safety was possibly in jeopardy by her had arisen, a spark ignited in her belly. Bookmark here

Without warning she grabbed Krystal's wrist and rose to her feet. She turned to her assailant with eyes burning with passion and literal fire.Bookmark here

The towering figure in front of her intimidated Krystal enough to get her to let go of the hair. She carefully pulled her arm against her chest, gently nursing it. As she inspected her wrist for the expected damage, her wrist was unscathed. Even Lillim's razor sharp claws did not even break her skin in the altercation.Bookmark here

Looking up, Krystal glared daggers at the Demon before her.Bookmark here

"I do not care for your petty quibbling," Lillim's voice rumbled out of her menacingly, "but I take great insult to you questioning my fidelity to Lawrence. Never doubt the depths of Hell I am willing to throw myself into for his sake."Bookmark here

Krystal could do nothing but snarl back at the behemoth in front of her. Even the knife secretly stowed away on her body would do nothing to feel this mighty beast.Bookmark here

But before she could make her tactical retreat, Lillim spoke up again, this time in a calmer voice.Bookmark here

"In the interim, I do have a single humble request for you." Not letting Krystal have a moment to respond, Lillim turned and sat down in her seat with her arms crossed over her chest. "I do still want my hair to be styled by my friend. Now please, do continue, Krystal. I would greatly appreciate it."Bookmark here

Krystal's hands clenched into balled fists at her side while she chewed hard on her lip. With a heavy sigh she let her fingers go slack and began running them through Lillim's hair once more.Bookmark here

She grumbled a great deal the entire time she worked, mumbling under her breath, "don't say my name in such a casual tone."Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

In a far right corner of the capital’s governmental district, stood a massive white building of pure marble. During the day it was a beautiful sight to behold, but now at night, the building’s edifice was illuminated with glowing torch lamps. This gave it an ethereal air to the structure, conjuring images of the dwellings of the Gods in the heavens above.Bookmark here

Amongst the stone pillars that rose high overhead, many mingled on the outside. Lords with their ladies and other people considered high of class had arrived from the far reaches of the Human Territory. They met, embraced, exchanged pleasantries while exiting from their lavish carriages that had enough space on the inside to seat several people comfortably and have room still to move about if they wished.Bookmark here

Though it was still summer outside, the air had fallen a bit chill so the guests slowly made their way into the banquet hall. The colossal ballroom had been decorated with draperies of gold from the ceiling to the ground several feet below. Numerous tables had been set for the guest to eat at with some of the finest silverware that could be found in the entirety of the kingdom. Decorative chairs were the only ones that had been assembled around the tables, as many of the guests chose to hold their plates as they socialized amongst themselves in different collections.Bookmark here

A lovely ensemble of musicians played soft melodies that were soothing to the ear but jaunty enough to cause a few couples to break off and dance in the open floor provided for such.Bookmark here

The food was large and plentiful. A feast to behold filled with meats, varied fruits and vegetables, and other treats and delicacies hard to find in the Human Territory.Bookmark here

All of this elegance though was lost on Krystal, who proceeded to eat from her plate that she repeatedly filled while never losing her scowl for the entirety of the time. Despite the fact that she never liked such formalities nor was usually invited to them even with her high rank, her father had insisted she accompany him and her mother.Bookmark here

Begrudgingly she accepted, but that did not mean she had to like it nor had to act as dignified or delighted in the affair. Ignoring her mother’s pleas to straighten up and act ladylike even for just this one night, she stayed along the wall and watched the crowds intermingle.Bookmark here

She did not despise those in attendance, rather only did not enjoy the formalities that meetings such as this entailed.Bookmark here

The night had drawn long and Krystal had begun to wonder where Lawrance was. She hadn’t known anyone well enough on the guest list to try and converse with them. But she knew Lawrence, her only real friend, was to be a guest of honor here, but she had yet to see him.Bookmark here

Abandoning her plate on some random table she rested her back on a far wall and began to play with the white decorative flower designs that flowed down the front of her blue dress. Her mother had that dress made and Krystal’s hair straightened in hopes of attracting a potential suitor, but the glares that Krystal gave to anyone who approached her prevented her wishes from coming true.Bookmark here

Sighing heavily, she turned to the far door and prayed that Lawrence would appear and make her evening better. Bookmark here

And the Gods answered her prayer. Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

I was late.Bookmark here

To be accurate, I was extremely late.Bookmark here

I had left hours earlier and even had a map planned out in my head on how to get to the banquet hall in the quickest route possible, but I got lost along the way, took too many shortcuts, and walked in a complete circle then arriving back at the academy's front gates.Bookmark here

I had to beg, and even pay, for someone to guide me to the right location. I felt so embarrassed, I wanted to turn around and go home but I was worried I might not make it home before dawn tomorrow.Bookmark here

So I hurriedly made my way through the gathered crowd and apologized to the couple I had bumped into as I tripped when I entered. Trying my best to avoid any more potential mishaps, I scanned the room and looked for anyone I knew well enough to mingle to.Bookmark here

And surprisingly I found someone quick. Alone against a wall on the far side of the hall, stood Krystal. I waved at her enthusiastically, prior to hurrying to join her. The closer I got, I realized that she looked absolutely stunning dressed up as she was, I was amazed people weren’t swarming her trying to make her acquaintance.Bookmark here

As I approached, Krystal gave me a surprised look (can’t blame her though), but then turned red and looked away like she was ignoring me.Bookmark here

I stopped a little ways away and walked more calmly asking, “Good evening Krystal. Are you OK? You seem a little perturbed by me being here.”Bookmark here

She shook her head furiously before answering, “I am fine, just a little warm in here is all.”Bookmark here

With everyone inside, the air had indeed grown quite balmy. “You’re right. I wish we could leave, but I am sure we both have to stay. Best to make the best of it right?”Bookmark here

Krystal smiled and looked down, kicking her leg lightly a couple of times. Then she pushed herself off the wall and looked me right in the eyes. “Hey, Lawrence? You wanna- I mean you don’t have to, but like, wanna dan-”Bookmark here

Unfortunately, I was unable to hear what she was saying as the music had died down and an announcer had called for everyone’s attention, causing her to fall silent.Bookmark here

“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, Lady Lillim Zeroth Von Millionflame. Ambassador for the Kingdom of Stalvart to the Demon Realm.”Bookmark here

From the balcony overlooking the banquet hall descended Lillim on the curving, marble staircase. She was dressed in a long form fitting red ball gown that seemed to be made entirely of roses. Her normally voluminous fuchsia hair had been straightened completely down to a flowing river of pink down her back with two braids forming behind her pitch-black horns pulling together into a single braid and falling down behind her.Bookmark here

Everyone fell silent as she made her way down the staircase one step at a time. She was a vision of absolute beauty, but that was not why everyone had gone quiet. Though my gaze was locked solely on Lillim, I slowly became aware that everyone was looking at her not with admiration, but rather with contempt.Bookmark here

I was becoming irked by the callous way they were treating her even after all this time she had tried to warm them up to her. Many had presented welcoming faces and kind words to her in person, but the things that I heard spoken about her in private made my skin crawl.Bookmark here

Even now a few had applauded her entrance mostly in a feeling of obligation, while the rest just stood silent, eyes glazed over in apathy.Bookmark here

I wanted to yell at every member in attendance for their treatment of her, but came up with a better plan.Bookmark here

“Come on, Krystal, let’s go join up with Lillim.” I motioned for her to follow along. Unfortunately I hadn’t noticed it at the time, but Krystal had tried to say something, reaching out for me, but as I moved away from her, she stayed there, feet planted and dejected.Bookmark here

I rushed through the throng of people trying to get closer to Lillim but the closer I got, people began to swarm her. They seemed to move in close to her, but still kept at least an arms length’s distance from her the entire time.Bookmark here

They began to shower her with pleasantries most frivolous. Bookmark here

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance most assured.”Bookmark here

“I look forward to working with you in the future.”Bookmark here

“Your dress looks quite lovely on you.”Bookmark here

All of these compliments were empty to be sure. And what burned me up more was how many of the men did come in closer in an attempt to get a better look at Lillim’s cleavage that was exposed from the low dipping collar of her dress. Even with their wives and girlfriends glaring at them, they just kept staring and smiling for the entire time.Bookmark here

I carefully shoved my way through the congregation, and popped up right in front of her. Luckily I stopped short of needing to use her body as a safety net. Bookmark here

I glanced up at her with a smile brimming over on my face. I was really excited to be with her, strangely enough. It had been quite sometime since we had been separated and seeing her made my heart skip a beat.Bookmark here

I did not mind it though, as when our gazes met, I saw hers shimmer with joy behind them.Bookmark here

“Good evening, Lady Von Millionflame, may I ask you to join me for the night?” I bowed, offering my arm to her as I asked. I had learned this line from Father, he said it worked all the time.Bookmark here

But the snickering from the slowly dispersing crowd made me wonder what I had done wrong. “Lawrence, dear. I do not think that phrase means what you think it does.” I looked up in confusion but Lillim only laughed. “It is nothing. It would be my pleasure to accompany you.”Bookmark here

She wrapped her arm in mine and began to move to the other end of the hall. There was no place we had planned to walk, but everything felt right at that moment. Though with her height and strength I felt like she was taking the lead and dragging me along for the ride.Bookmark here

I watched as several faces seemed to sour at my presence with her and many hushed voices whispered unflattering things about us as we passed, but I ignored them. Lillim had a worried and stressed face earlier, but now she truly looked like she was enjoying herself.Bookmark here

“Lawrence, my boy!”Bookmark here

We hadn’t made it far into the crowd when we were stopped. From out of a separating crowd came Father dressed in a nice black suit with his magic robe as his overcoat. As he approached us, he ran his fingers over his beard which slightly hid his beaming smile underneath.Bookmark here

“Ah, Father, there you are! Good to see another friendly face in the crowd.”Bookmark here

“Indeed it is, boy” he chuckled softly then turned his attention to Lillim. “This must be Lady Von Millionflame. Pleased to meet you.” He raised his other hand to her.Bookmark here

“The pleasure is mine.” Lillim happily took his hand and shook it.Bookmark here

“Such a strong grip, even for a Demon. And a Von Millionflame as well?” Father leaned his head back as he began to recall something, “I knew a Von Millionflame. Back in the day. A brilliant general he was. I do miss the old coot,” he ended with a long sigh.Bookmark here

Lillim cocked her head to the side, “You knew my grandfather?”Bookmark here

“You were friends with a Demon, Father? This is the first time I am hearing of this.”Bookmark here

“Ah yes,” Father laughed loudly, “We go way back. Though I would not say it was so much a friendship as it was almost a rivalry. Honestly…”Bookmark here

“You never cease to amaze me, Father.”Bookmark here

“Oh, stop, boy. You are making me blush.” He rubbed the back of his head as he blushed lightly. “Oh but I have others to meet with in the meantime, don’t let me stop you two from having fun. Stay safe.” He began to walk away, waving back at us as he went.Bookmark here

“Good night, Father, have a good time as well.”Bookmark here

“Yes, have a safe night as well, Mr. Larkdale.” Lillim bowed as he spoke.Bookmark here

“Oh, I am not a Larkdale, dearie.” Father had stopped and returned slowly to correct her.Bookmark here

“Yes, Lillim, he is actually my adoptive father, not my biological one.”Bookmark here

“I see, my apologies. I did not catch your name then.”Bookmark here

“Where are my manners?” Father shook his head upset at himself, “Call me Alfred. Alfred Magnus, dearie.”Bookmark here

Lillim went stiff. Though she was still smiling, I could tell something was off.Bookmark here

I tried to ask what was wrong, but I was unable to due to Father taking his leave. At the moment that he was too far away to see, Lillim’s smile finally cracked leaving a gnarled look on her face.Bookmark here

Her lip curled up slightly revealing her fangs grinding them together.Bookmark here

"Lillim?" I took her hands into mine and tried to get her attention, "Are you alright? What's wrong?"Bookmark here

Her eyes turned toward me. But as quick as the sparks flickered about her, they disappeared. She drew in a long breath and took on a new demeanor.Bookmark here

"It is nothing, Lawrence. Nothing to worry about." She was giving a soft smile, but I could tell she wasn't revealing the whole truth from the way she truly wasn't looking at me. Actually, it was apt to say she was looking beyond me.Bookmark here

I wanted to press her further, being worried for her, but I was cut short from speaking by the announcer calling for everyone's attention again.Bookmark here

"Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the Lord of the entirety of the human territory, our Sovereign Ruler, King William Leonard. With him, Queen Catherine Leonard. Together, long may they reign.”Bookmark here

All who were in attendance raised their glasses high and cheered the last part together as the King and Queen descended the same staircase Lillim had earlier. The King's royal attire was a stately blue dress shirt covered in his kingly robe of red. His white beard swayed up with each step. Beside him, Queen Catherine was the very essence of majesty and beauty with her arms draped around his.Bookmark here

Her dress was a shimmering mass of radiant silver. Her pearly blonde hair was pulled up high and let loose behind her in an array of several curls. Her absolute beauty radiated so magnificently next to the stern glare of her husband.Bookmark here

As they reached the final step, they waved at the crowd gathered before them who celebrated their arrival. Then they separated to the opposite ends of the wide staircase.Bookmark here

The announcer began again in his demanding voice:Bookmark here

"Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, Lady Charlotte Leonard. Princess to the House of Leonard, Heir to the Royal Throne of Stalvart.”Bookmark here

The music began to play again in a tune that gave a grand entrance to the young lady, who was being flanked by two handmaids, coming down the stairs next.Bookmark here

If her mother was the definition of beauty, this girl was the ideal of pretty. Her silvery curls, much shorter than her mother's, bounced joyfully with each step. Her blue eyes sparkled brilliantly alongside the rosy color of her cheeks and lips.Bookmark here

Every eye was locked on her, unable to turn away. As she reached the final step she raised the sides of her pure white dress in a curtsy before all in attendance.Bookmark here

And the crowd began to applaud and swoon over her. It was clear that everyone was in rapture with her darling appearance, and who could blame them.Bookmark here

Her near porcelain skin shone in the light like the most valuable doll one could find. And that matched her perfection of attire, not a hair out of place.Bookmark here

She too began to look over the gathered and waved to them. Then she seemed to stop cold.Bookmark here

Even stranger was how her gaze seemed to fix on me solely. I glanced around me, wondering what she was looking at. I mean Lillim was next to me, but she was looking lower than she would if she was at Lillim. Strange.Bookmark here

I thought nothing of it, and turned back to Lillim as the music turned to a more upbeat melody.Bookmark here

“Lillim would you-”Bookmark here

I was about to ask if she wanted to dance with me, but I was interrupted by my breath leaving me forcefully. Something had collided with my back and then wrapped itself around my chest. It wasn’t heavy at all, but it was so sudden that it had completely taken me by surprise.Bookmark here

Hesitantly I turned around to see what it was that had latched onto me.Bookmark here

“It's you. It has to be you! I recognized you, the greatest of Heroes!”Bookmark here

Attaching herself to my ribs was Princess Charlotte. How she had made it from as far away as she was on the steps to my back in mere seconds, I do not know. But the greater concern was why she was hugging me like she was and why me?Bookmark here

“Umm, e-excuse me, Princess?” I began to nervously sweat, terrified of what was happening, “I have to be who? I believe you might have the wrong person. We have never met previously, right?” Bookmark here

I had to be careful. I didn’t want to be imprisoned for upsetting the Princess. Not that it was a crime I believe, but I didn’t want to take my chances just in case.Bookmark here

“No it is you,” She looked up, sparkling in confusion, “You are Lawrence Larkdale! The Hero everyone is talking about! And my future husband!” As she finished that declaration, she snuggled her face deep into my back, lovingly.Bookmark here

“...huh?”Bookmark here

I was about to try and figure out what she meant by that very bold announcement, especially considering the situation at hand, but I was a little more distracted by Lillim’s rage becoming a little too apparent as fire rippled around her body.Bookmark here

“What is this? Have I been dumped so quickly? Or are you planning on having me as just a concubine? Well, Lawrence?”Bookmark here

“I have no idea what she is talking about Lillim, I swear!” I swiftly began defusing the bomb that the Princess had so carelessly dropped in my lap. But it was hard to do that as the Princess refused to let go of me and instead turned around to be between Lillim and me.Bookmark here

Lillim’s furious gaze began to glow crimson as her flames grew numerous around her. I probably needed to apologize to those who might have caught fire from being too close, but I had matters to attend to first.Bookmark here

“P-p-princess, could you please let me go. That way we can talk better?” I tried coaxing her into compliance with my most compelling smile I could, but she only held me tighter.Bookmark here

Why must the females in my life try to seize me in such a way?Bookmark here

“Hmm? Is something wrong, Lawrence?” she gave an innocent face when she looked up, but her hands began to move over my body, sliding their way under my clothes and going lower. “If this doesn’t feel good, maybe I could try something else? I know several ways to please a man.”Bookmark here

“What the hell?” I tried to worm her way out of her grip as quickly as possible, “Why are you doing this? And more importantly, how old are you even?”
“Oh, I am 15,” she said with so much enthusiasm in her response. She was so much younger than me it surprised me that she knew about… that.Bookmark here

That’s not helping my case at all!Bookmark here

“You are too young to talk about such things, Princess! Besides, I insist you please stop! Please, I am begging you!”Bookmark here

I continued to struggle to break free of the Princess’s grasp but failed to do so, while Lillim seemed to stop stewing for the time being and preparing to kill either of us. Her hand had moved to her hip as flames collected there. Where she was aiming that burning jealousy was not obvious.Bookmark here

Thrashing about I finally found myself out of her grip and sighed in relief, but it was only then that I realized that I was no longer touching the ground either. I was feeling a tug on my robes about my shoulders though.Bookmark here

The crowd that had formed around us, watching the excitement unfold, was now trying to contain their laughter, but were not doing well. I turned around to see what I had become snagged on to see a golden metal glove holding me high in the air. Attached to that glove was the rest of the matching suit of armor with a very large fellow inside. Bookmark here

He had what most women would consider a very handsome face. With soft eyes and an imposing chin line. His amber brows were furrowed and his glare narrowed on me. I don’t know what I had done to him, but I could tell he was not pleased with me.Bookmark here

“Um, sir?” I asked, distracted from the Princess jumping to pull me back down, “Can I help you with something.”Bookmark here

He only scoffed and dropped me hard on my butt away from him. My backside sung with pain as Lillim rushed to my side to soothe my pains.Bookmark here

“Lady Charlotte, please heed these heathens no mind,” the golden knight knelt down before the Princess and attempted to pull away from his grasp, “I implore you, go on and enjoy your evening without these irreverent creatures bothering you further.”Bookmark here

While he wasn’t looking, Princess Charlotte had ducked away from him and used me as a shield which brought back Lillim to her furious state. I could tell she did not want to be around this guy, neither did I, but I really wanted her to not use me as a defensive barrier.Bookmark here

“Um, Princess Charlotte?” I started readjusting my glasses from the fall, “who is this guy? Why does he seem to have it out for me?”Bookmark here

“That’s Percival Steelgate, and he is my assigned Guardian. He claims he will one day marry me, whatever,” she spoke condescendingly while pulling down an eyelid and sticking her tongue out at him. “I don’t like him. I don’t know what problem he has with you though.”Bookmark here

“Might it be the part where you said I was going to marry you instead of him?” I tried putting the pieces together.Bookmark here

“You will marry me?” the Princess beamed, completely ignoring the problem at hand and injecting her own reality. Where were her parents at this moment?Bookmark here

“And as for you knave,” Percival, who honestly had just as annoying of a name as he was, rose up and approached me once again. “Know your place, Demon Lover. Get lost from the Princess’s sight. Or must I make you disappear? Permanently.” Bookmark here

His feet made an intimidating thud between my spread legs making lurch back in fear of being crushed. His hand was already on his sword at his hip as he prepared to draw it. Bookmark here

But he was unable to as a loud smack rang out. Gasps of surprise erupted as well from the crowd watching for some possible bloodshed.Bookmark here

Percival had his head turned to the side in shock as a red mark grew brighter on his face. He turned his furious eyes at who had smacked him.Bookmark here

Lillim stood there above him with her arm still in the air. She glared at him with near tangible death emanating from her.Bookmark here

“Don’t you dare speak to Lawrence that way. I shall not tolerate your behavior further.”Bookmark here

With a hand to his face Percival gritted his teeth. “You!”, he roared over the crowd. “You dare strike me! My honor has been sullied. I shall not stand for this any further. I shall reclaim my honor on a field of battle. I challenge you, Demon, to a duel.”Bookmark here

He turned in a huff and left with his cape swaying in the breeze behind him.Bookmark here

Great first impression, Lillim...Bookmark here

Yoshino
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Marshall Eastman
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