Chapter 31:

Chapter 25: Opening

Your Healer

Chapter 25: Opening

It was Friday, September 3rd, the day of the opening ceremony of this year's Dungeon Raid. For the last few days, our whole guild was getting more nervous as this date drew closer. To my surprise, it was Lilith's behavior that became almost unbearable. You could feel the pressure she put on herself to be elected the future Queen of Magic next year.

Tonight's event will take place in a pretty luxurious hotel in our country's capital. I read through the schedule for the evening again as we slowly rolled through the slow-moving traffic. Contrary to what I had expected, the raid was an event that played a pretty significant role in the mainstream media and the general public. Don't ask me how I managed to ignore it every year.

“Try to not look directly at the protestors,” Luna said after the navigation system announced we were closing on our destination.

"Protesters?" I asked as a hint of panic rose in me, not knowing the details.

“While many fans of mages and witches gather, there is also a small but loud group of people who demonize the existence of magic and those who use it.”

It's maddening to think how much the persecution of witches first destroyed the bonds between mages and humans and then ultimately brought them closer together than ever before. But nowadays, some still hate us on principle, even though we protect them by clearing the dungeons.

"Some claim that we create the dungeons ourselves and lie about their contents in order to make money. Since we are largely paid from taxpayers' money, they feel even more involved and think they should have the right to judge our work." Lilith explained and ended up laughing.

"They should be grateful that we're on the side of the ordinary people because after meeting Kajsa, I don't know why we shouldn't side with the demons, just as an example. Not that the demons are interested in invading our world any time soon."

"Do you have the parking permit?" Eliza asked, and Lilith handed it over immediately. I didn't have the best view because I was sitting in the last row of the car we'd rented for the Dungeon Raid so we could fit the whole guild and our bags inside it.

After the car stopped, I heard Eliza talking to someone with the window down. We were then allowed to drive into the restricted area in front of the hotel. The security for tonight seemed pretty tight.

“So, girls, powder your noses again. I'll kick you out right at the entrance. I'll drive the car to the parking lot and take your bags to your rooms.”

What would we do without Eliza?

"Okay, okay. We'll behave as we discussed earlier. If someone asks you if you want to work together, you refuse with disgust on your face. We don't want outsiders interfering with our plans. Do you understand?" Lilith was speaking way too loudly, but at least we could all hear her.

A few moments before we were due to get off, I was getting a little nervous. But I wasn't alone, and we had a plan. I knew what role I had to play that evening, which gave me confidence. Because even in my previous jobs, I had to act in different ways to please my customers. The only difference today was that my job was not to please anyone but my guild.

“Is that a red carpet?” Luna asked in disbelief.

“Who planned that?” Miko sighed, annoyed.

"I'm so ready." Lilith hyped herself up and opened the door of the car. We followed her immediately. You can’t imagine how often Lilith changed our formation for our entrance into the lobby.

In the end, Lilith was the leader of our group. Behind her, Kajsa, whose role was to show how important she is despite her being a demon.

Behind them, Miko and I, her role was to play out the rumors about her like she was this crazy, dangerous witch. Now for me, I was supposed to act like the apprentice to Miko, imitating her behavior and being the watchdog to protect her from the pesky people trying to talk shit about her.

And Luna formed the tail of our formation. She was the protector who would keep an eye on anyone who dared to stare at our guild members for too long.

Lilith wanted to portray us as an absolutely elite guild, even though they had never completed anything higher than a C-rank mission in the years since the guild was founded.

But looking at our members, even I, as a relative rookie in this world of magic, knew that this image we were supposed to convey was probably closer to reality than one might think.

The red carpet in front of us was practically empty. Definitely not like a film event with lots of paparazzi. It felt more like an exhibition for the ordinary people, who were separated from us by high fences about twenty meters away. On the left, I could easily make out angry booing from the protesters, while on the right, there was loud clapping. I tried to look over without turning my head. I didn't see much, but people took photos and videos with their phones.

Am I going to be famous?

About thirty seconds later, we arrived at the hotel entrance, which was guarded by two huge guys with the typical mean look of a nightclub bouncer.

"Please move along. The women's pat-down is inside." Although he looked so scary, the voice of the one who spoke sounded quite gentle. I would have smiled at him if I hadn't been ordered to look like a real meanie.

After passing through the sliding doors, we stood in the hotel's entrance area. You could hear a lot of noise from the left side that led to the dining hall. After all, almost 20 guilds, with 300 members, would take part in the raid, plus ministry members who would lead the whole event organization and send their own mages into the dungeons to judge the participants. Ultimately, each participant would be given a rank and paid accordingly after the event ended.

The five of us were then gently patted down by a friendly lady, and from then on, we were allowed to move freely around the hotel. Our first destination was our rooms, where we would meet up briefly with Eliza. On the way there, we kept to our formation, and the first few other mages we came across in the corridors all averted their eyes as soon as we came within range.

I'd like to know what we look like from an outsider's perspective; do we look that dangerous? Or just a bit unapproachable? I can't really imagine anyone seeing Lilith and being frightened by her appearance. Maybe they all look away because she's so pretty, and they don't want to come across as creeps.

Anyway, we had our rendezvous with Eliza and looked at our rooms. The arrangement was pretty obvious: Miko and I shared one room, Luna and Kajsa another, and Lilith, our guild leader, had a single room all to herself.

"The official opening in the dining hall starts in about an hour. We'll go there now. Start in the formation to catch the first glimpses of the other guilds. Then you can drop the act to some extent and wander around a bit. Maybe you'll see familiar faces, talk to them, be present."

This was Lilith's last speech to us that evening, and although I was excited to enter a room with so many eyes on us, I was looking forward to the food. I didn't eat anything today, absolutely nothing, because I had read that there would be a huge buffet, so I decided to leave space for that.

After roaming the hotel corridors again, we arrived at our destination. We entered the hall, where hundreds of people were sitting at tables, chatting and eating. It was only natural that many of them looked at us as we walked past them. Still, the defensive reaction of averting their eyes or even turning their whole bodies away seemed a bit over the top.

"This is our table. I'm going to sit down. I really don't want anyone asking for a photo or trying to talk to me." Luna declared. Perhaps it was her repellent aura that gave us all these frightened reactions.

"Would you like something from the buffet?" I asked, but she just laughed at me.

"Are you sure you even have enough hands to carry all the plates for yourself?"

"You can be sure I'll go several times."

"Miko, Kayla, would you please accompany me for a short visit? I have someone I'd like you to meet." Lilith ruined my plans for the moment, but who was I to deny her anything?

Kajsa sat down with Luna, and just then, I noticed how many people stared at her and started whispering without taking their eyes off her. I hoped it was just curiosity.

Besides the regular short views at us, I felt we lost the gathered attention we briefly held as we entered the hall. But the deeper we went into the hall and the closer we got to the stage that had been set up, the more glances we attracted.I could see from a distance that we were approaching a group of tables that were a little more secluded than the others. About 30 people were sitting there, and one of them hastily got up and walked in our direction with a small entourage before we could get too close.

"Is that Wace?" I whispered to Miko as we waited for the group of four to reach us while Lilith stopped in front of us. He looked a little different, more handsome, I would say. He wore his long, curly hair in a firmly tied ponytail.

The black suits with gold decorations worn by the three walking slightly behind the one in front looked quite expensive. It's not that our uniforms weren't top quality; maybe they just wore theirs better than we wore ours.

Wait, Wace was part of the current Magic Kings guild… so the guy walking in front, whom I had not yet given a proper look, was that king? Almost shyly, I slowly turned my gaze up to him. Firstly, his face looked far too young. Somehow, I would have expected someone more mature to be the king. Secondly, he wasn't wearing a crown on his head, but a crown-shaped mana signature under his left eye, just like the one Lilith had to inform everyone of her role as the one who had used a terrible forbidden spell.

His ears

Only now did I notice his long and pointy ears, similar to Kajsa's, but his skin was pale, he had no horns, and his hair was dark instead of white. Nevertheless, I was sure he wasn't human.

For a brief moment, his eyes met mine, and just then, I realized that I was staring at him. But he gave me a gentle smile and switched his focus to Lilith again.

I remembered asking Miko how mages usually behaved in the king's presence, and she told me that almost all of them got down on one knee and waited for him to speak until they raised their heads again. Somehow, these old customs of how to treat a king were very popular in our world of magic.

But as members of Lilith's guild, we were not like other mages; as she said, we were better. That doesn't mean we are disrespectful; we just see ourselves as equals to the king. Not that I had any qualities to back up this self-confidence, but as long as Lilith and Miko were with me, I could put up with acting this way.

"Finally, a face I've been looking forward to seeing." His voice was unexpectedly deep and pervasive. Despite the background noises, I could hear him very clearly.

“You're happy if I say that in return, right?” Lilith answered, sounding somewhat annoyed.

"We should go somewhere where we can have a better conversation, don't you think?"

"No, I don't think so. I just wanted to show someone your face. So, she knows who to avoid."

“Why exactly do you keep portraying me as evil? I can't remember ever having done anything wrong to you.”

“Except that you're always trying to hook up with me.”

“What's so bad about that? You're the most beautiful, intelligent, and strongest witch I know.”

“There you have it, Kayla.” I wasn’t sure what Lilith meant by that, but in my opinion, he was pretty charming. Throwing words around like he did would definitely work on some women.

"You've grown up, Miko. And it's very nice to see you again. I hope Lilith isn’t too hard on you."

"I'm glad too, Jora, but I'm not in the mood for small talk right now. We were planning to explore the buffet." Miko answered with a faint smile. Did she just turn down the king because she knew I was starving?

"So insolent." The comment came from a red-haired woman standing next to Wace, which made him give her a serious look, causing her to turn her gaze to the ground. I suspected that she was somehow important, too, as she was part of the king's immediate escort.

“It’s funny, isn’t it?” Jora asked us without telling us what he was talking about.

"Funny? Annoying if you ask me, they look at us like we're something special. But you were just lucky that the last election was interrupted while I had to wait so long for another fair chance." Lilith responded.

"I'd love to know who had the brilliant idea of scheduling the election after this year's Dungeon Raid to give every single mage worth their salt a stage to show their suitability for the role of King or Queen." Jora chuckled and turned around.

"At least you realize I'm tired of looking you in the face," Lilith said as Jora walked away with two of his three followers.

“What’s your room number?” Wace asked, looking at me directly. What did he want? I knew about his reputation as a playboy, even if he didn't seem like one on the last mission. Should I tell him? What would Miko think?

“Why?” my protective girlfriend replaced me in this conversation.

“I want to show you something you definitely will enjoy.” He grinned and blinded us with his shiny white teeth.

“067,” I said.

“Wow, a room on the first floor. I'll drop by tonight around 11 pm, so please try to be there.” Before he disappeared, he bowed slightly to Lilith, which she answered with a slight huff.

Now that this situation was over, we could finally go to the food. On the way to the buffet, I looked around. I didn't expect to recognize anyone, but seeing so many different faces was exciting.

"What do you think of him?" Miko asked after Lilith had parted from us at the buffet.

"About Jora?"


"He seemed nice, I am a little worried about how addicted to Lilith he seems to be, but other than that, he didn't give the strong kingly vibe."

“Your first impression is similar to mine back then, so I won't tell you more about him. It's more exciting if you experience it for yourself.”

I already suspected that he seemed so down-to-earth because of Lilith. I couldn't imagine that someone with such behavior would be elected as the person who was supposed to represent the mages in our country.

"I can barely wait to find out more."

"You're a bad liar."

She knew me too well. I didn't care about anyone here, not even the king. The most important thing was representing our guild and securing Lilith's nomination for next year's election.

With a large portion of food, we returned to our table, which was quite central in this vast hall. The opening ceremony would start in about 40 minutes, so we had plenty of time to eat before and probably after.

Kajsa's eyes sparkled as she tried to watch me eat without me noticing.

"Are you hungry?"

“Yes, but I shouldn’t take the food from the same place as the humans.”

Luna rolled her eyes in annoyance, "Want me to get you something?"

"No, I'm going with her. It's better if she can choose what she likes herself." I was about to get mad because we acted like Kajsa was worth less than a human being.

"Have you seen another demon that looks like me?" Kajsa asked, looking unfazed.


"Do you want to know why? Because even if a guild decides to acquire a demon, they will never sit at the same table with them. The King of Magic is an elf and is accepted, even celebrated, because he doesn't look as scary as other races.” Luna was about to get angry, and although I wanted to eat, I stood up, took Kajsa's hand, and pulled her with me.


"Isn't that the girl from Lilith's guild stomping around with the demoness in her hand?" I said with a laugh on my lips.

It was an irritating picture, a demon as an official member of a mages' guild. As a half-demon, Wace was the only one in mine who was allowed to sit with us. The other demons we owned stayed in their rooms until we needed them in battle. I had no problems with these creatures, but you can't ignore where they come from. They're no different from the dungeon monsters we kill without hesitation. But luckily, they're smart enough for us to use them.

I'm curious why Lilith did this. I know she never cared about the customs of us mages nor the responsibility or consequences of her actions. She was always too powerful for her own good, which made her ignorant, which is why I love her so much. I've been waiting for a witch like her for centuries.

"You can't just pull her tail!" the human girl shouted angrily, while the demon one seemed to try calming her down.

"Looks like someone's bothering them," Wace remarked, and I knew he was ready to act, but I had a better idea.

“I take care of that,” I said, standing up from my chair.

Ready to save the day, I took another quick look down at myself to ensure my suit was fitting correctly and was shocked when I raised my head again.

The girl's eyes, fixed on the mage before her, were fierce, but her expression seemed cold. Her face could be interpreted as tired of the world. I forgot why I had got up in the first place and simply watched the situation dissolve just by her gaze.

“Never mind," I sat back down and couldn’t help but grin, somewhat self-satisfied. What an exciting girl! I want to know where she keeps finding people like her.

Unfortunately, I knew I could do nothing to free her from Lilith's clutches.