Chapter 18:

We Need to Talk (2)

My Demon Queen

The little devil was sprawled over the couch— catching some Z’s. My mom was watching the television, a cooking channel or something. While Liliath was reading ‘that’ book.Bookmark here

“Liliath.”Bookmark here

Sitting on the couch with the manga in hand, she raised her head to look at me before crying out. Flustered she hid volume 5 away from my line of sight.Bookmark here

Yeah.. seriously though? Well.. at least she had proper awareness this time. That’s an improvement.Bookmark here

You know, I kind of pity her. I should probably just let her read it without paying any mind. That’s for the best isn't it?Bookmark here

“Sorry, Um. Liliath, I want to read this,” I showed her the cover of a different manga.Bookmark here

She regained composure, slipping the porn into the crevice of the sofa— hey that isn’t a place to put stuff you know? It’s all dusty and musty inside. Bookmark here

I noticed her lips quiver at the title of the book.Bookmark here

The manga I was holding in hands— the title had two keywords on it: Demon Lord. I thought about what was the best way to ask Liliath about it. And the conclusion I came to was to show it to her. Not about how Demon Lords destroy an entire kingdom— but the reverse of that.Bookmark here

I wasn’t too sure what kind of impression she had on herself— as the demon lord. I was hoping that by reading a story about a good-natured Demon Lord, it could help her deal with the prejudices she held surrounding her own existence.Bookmark here

“H-how did you know?” She squeaked, ripples of fear swimming in her eyes.Bookmark here

Ah? She doesn’t remember?Bookmark here

“At school. I saw them. But don’t get me wrong, this world isn’t the same as yours. If anything, I think an existence like you would be welcomed by society.”Bookmark here

Though I said that, she was on guard.Bookmark here

“What are you talking about?” My mom who's focus left the screen turned to us.Bookmark here

“Well.. I’m just recommending her a book.” Bookmark here

Cover up, cover up. Bookmark here

Liliath shook her up and down hastily.Bookmark here

My mom narrowed her eyesBookmark here

“Something to do with a demon lord?” She raised her brow— yeah, she’s hard to convince.Bookmark here

Welp. Dumb luck. Looks like the cover was blown.Bookmark here

“Sorry. Until I get consent from Liliath I can’t say too much,” I dropped the act. Bookmark here

Liliath shuddered, craning her head to look at me. Bookmark here

“It’s impossible to hide it. My mom heard it already. Anyways, you don’t have to force yourself to talk about it,” I passed her the book. “Read it when you have time.”Bookmark here

She nodded, biting her lips.Bookmark here

I wonder— in her world, were demon lords really considered such a bad existence? A girl like her as a calamity-like existence?Bookmark here

I grew up in a peaceful world, unlike Liliath who could’ve grown in a world of war— heck, even slavery was legal where she lived. I feel that it’s impossible to understand her using my personal perception of the world as a base. I could not imagine how cruel such a world where war was rampant could be.Bookmark here

“Oh, there’s pudding in the fridge if any of you want some,” my mom remarked before returning her attention to the cooking show.Bookmark here

“Alright, thanks. Liliath, do you want pudding?”Bookmark here

“Huh?” Her dumbfounded look was so cute. Bookmark here

I walked over to the fridge— two left. Wait.. I thought we had like 10 of them two days ago..Bookmark here

Well. At least there are two left. One I think is passion fruit flavored, the other is strawberry.Bookmark here

I returned with the puddings and passed the strawberry one to Liliath.Bookmark here

She stared at the pink gelatin in a plastic ramekin.Bookmark here

“The era of war is over in this world. Though I’m not sure what kind of past you had, you don’t need to face something like war and bloodshed anymore in the future. Take your time and just chill.”Bookmark here

I stuffed a spoonful of pudding in my mouth. A sweet tangy flavor accompanied by the hint sweetness of passion fruit. Bookmark here

Well.. I kinda lied about the blood shed part. I mean.. fights between people with offensive TALENTS were a ridiculous sight to behold. I guess to Liliath, this would be considered a small trifles while in our world, it was a crime.Bookmark here

Liliath ate the pudding silently. She shook her head every so often as if trying to rid of her thoughts. Tears spilled from her eyes.Bookmark here

She wiped it off.Bookmark here

“Thank you, I’ll consider it.”Bookmark here

Huh? Bookmark here

I didn’t think asking about what she meant by that was a good idea. It’s probably because I’m dumb to not understand the context.Bookmark here

“Pudding?!”Bookmark here

The devil awoken by the smell of pudding crawled over to my side out of and squashed my head with both hands. She was begging for some, I can tell.Bookmark here

“Here,” I fed her a spoon, she ate it with glee.Bookmark here

Seeing such a development, Liliath gave a sympathetic smile.Bookmark here

Look. I know my sister is cute but she’s a devil. A DEVIL I SAY! Don’t be fooled by her cuteness!Bookmark here

“Gimme!” Bookmark here

“No. This is mine.”Bookmark here

“Hmph. Fine! I’ll go get my own,” the devil quipped, dissatisfied that I stopped feeding her any more no matter how she begged. She went to the kitchen and came back as soon as she went, “Mom, where did you keep the rest of the pudding? Wasn’t there 8 in the fwige yesterday?”Bookmark here

My mom who shifted her attention from the television to Novelle spoke with a smile.Bookmark here

“Hm? Oh. About that, I kept the rest in my stomach. Sorry~”Bookmark here

The devil paled.Bookmark here

Too bad.Bookmark here

I lifted the spoon to my mouth and finished the last bite of pudding.Bookmark here

\\Bookmark here

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I couldn’t hear anything in the living room. With my laptop in front of me, hands pressing on the drawing pad and ears covered by headphones, light music played in the background.Bookmark here

Scribble, scribble.Bookmark here

In a mere two strokes— I destroyed my masterpiece. Bookmark here

Control Z, undo.Bookmark here

I decided to take a break from rendering the illustration, it’s literally going nowhere. So what I’m currently doing would be colour-sketching a bunch of portraits. Art studies, as artists call it. Bookmark here

If anything, I should really be checking Arthub and expanding my networks with other artists. But I’ll leave that till later— once complete this last bit..Bookmark here

Tomorrow’s the start of the school holiday so I thought I should stay up a little later.. it’s almost 10.Bookmark here

Hm?Bookmark here

Liliath in the living room who I noticed kept opening and closing her mouth. Is she talking to me?Bookmark here

I paused the music and pulled my headphones down.Bookmark here

“Sorry, yes?”Bookmark here

Liliath gave me a look. Bookmark here

Wow. So she has that kind of side too— wait. I remember her yelling at me the first time we met.. perhaps she had been hiding her true personality?Bookmark here

“Sorry?”Bookmark here

All I can do is apologize.. I seriously didn’t notice her.Bookmark here

“I finished the book you requested,” she placed the book down on the table and then sat beside me. Oh, that’s fast.Bookmark here

The smell of the shampoo on her hair tickled my nose. If anything, the current Liliath was totally different from when I first met her. I still remember her trembling body wrapped around with a dirty rag cloth, the scars that covered her body—Bookmark here

So she has super regeneration huh?Bookmark here

“And your point? Do you want to talk about it?”Bookmark here

She shook her head, “I prefer not to bring up the past—however.. I understand keeping secrets wouldn’t do anything but incite problems. Hence, I’ll try my best to answer the questions you have within my abilities.”Bookmark here

Talk about being tactful. Though.. the kind of person Liliath was, I find it plightful. I think I shouldn’t dig too much into the past that she wants to forget. Rather, was it really a good idea to just forget the past? The past will always appear again, like a wreckage from the sea drifting onto shore. Could Liliath really tolerate that? Suppressing those bitter memories for the rest of her life?Bookmark here

To ask or not to ask.Bookmark here

I’m at a stalemate. Hm..Bookmark here

Perhaps I should just wait and see..Bookmark here

It’s decided then. I’ll try to avoid asking too much. She’ll reveal her past in time, I’m sure of it. I doubt she’ll be able to keep everything to herself, and if anything does go wrong, well.. I can only think of a solution to deal with it by then. It’s pointless to think too far ahead. Bookmark here

“Alright. First of all, are you a demon lord?”Bookmark here

“No. I’m an existence known as a demon lord candidate. More concise would be that I am fated to become the demon queen. However, I have yet to awaken as one. I am a candidate at current.”Bookmark here

A queen? Demon lord candidate? What?Bookmark here

“So there’s a DEMON LORD and DEMON QUEEN is what you’re implying?”Bookmark here

“That is the case.”Bookmark here

Alright.. so basically speaking Liliath is supposed to marry off to some big shot known as the demon lord— bring destruction to the world together with him or die by the hands of a hero.. that’s her fate? Fate?!Bookmark here

Not that I don’t believe in fate but to those people who keep blaming it on fate— oh, it’s impossible because it’s my fate. Oh that’s just how it is no matter how hard you try you can’t possibly achieve this and that..Bookmark here

I detest it. An excuse to run away from responsibilities. Bookmark here

But thinking about it... to not be able to live your own life.. to be constrained by one’s own ‘fate’.Bookmark here

I noticed that I was clenching my fist. Was it truly fate?Bookmark here

I don’t know why— this should be about Liliath, but I’m the one being all emotional here.Bookmark here

“About you being a candidate, is that a random thing? How does that relate to become a queen?”Bookmark here

“The demon lord candidates were believed to be chosen by the God of Demons. Both the lord and the queen must come to an agreement in matrimony before being bestowed the titles Demon Queen and Demon Lord,” Liliath said, her emotionless eyes fixated on me.Bookmark here

Calm.. too calm.. Bookmark here

To see such a gaze from within her eyes, a pitch black vortex that is her past. What the hell. Compared to me.. just what kind of life did she go through.Bookmark here

That isn’t the kind of look a normal person would have. Bookmark here

“With the coincidence of me as a candidate, it was decided with my consent we would utilize a different method to bring peace without the aid of a hero. I became a political tool to quell the conflict between us humans and demons.. just to be betrayed.” Her deep empty voice echoed in my mind.Bookmark here

Right. Liliath was a Princess. A very unlucky Princess that somehow became a demon lord candidate. So there’s a king and queen demon, and somehow Liliath was chosen. Bookmark here

“As a Princess. That was my responsibility. I had no choice— it was for the sake of the country. I don’t blame the kingdom for what I have done. There was nothing I could have done to begin with.”Bookmark here

There was nothing she could do to begin with. Wait, how does her being enslaved fit into the whole picture? Betrayed? By the demon lord or the kingdom? She said political tool— for the sake of the nation. And she probably rejected the Demon Lord’s proposal for marriage I presume?Bookmark here

Crap. I told myself not to go too deep and now..Bookmark here

“Hey Liliath. I know I’m not in any position to say this but.. I’m sorry. I-I’m sorry you had such a past.”Bookmark here

The worst experiences in my life can’t even lift a finger to what she had experienced.Bookmark here

And before I knew it— my arms were tight around her.Bookmark here

“Thank you.” She whispered. “Thank you for saving me.”Bookmark here

Right.. I did save her. But it happened on a whim.Bookmark here

Pulling back, she showed a warm smile. There wasn’t a tear anywhere in sight— it was gratitude.Bookmark here

That’s when it hit me. To her— this was the beginning of her new life.Bookmark here

“Noel?”Bookmark here

“Ah sorry. I was thinking about something.. um. You can stop if you feel uncomfortable saying anymore um.. I’m sorry for asking so much about your past.”Bookmark here

“It’s alright.. it’s enlightening to have someone hear me out once in a while.”Bookmark here

Liliath’s mental fortitude surpasses my own. There’s no doubt about it..Bookmark here

“Noel, then can I ask a question of my own?”Bookmark here

A question? Bookmark here

“Sure. Just ask if you have any questions anytime.”Bookmark here

“Could I possibly be a hero? A summoning ritual revolves around the summoned possessing a purpose— in typical cases, subjugating the demon lord and bringing peace to the world for a temporary period of time.”Bookmark here

Oh? Peace is temporary? So demon lord candidates would appear again and again? Weird. Then why do all demon lords decided to go the genocide route? Wouldn’t there be at least one of them that decided to go the pacifist route? Or such a peaceful demon lord died before the plan could be enacted? Bookmark here

“What would be my purpose?” Liliath asked in all seriousness.Bookmark here

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Author’s notes: Thank you for reading!!Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.