15 – Demon Lord Route – II
Cloaked in an overbearing aura made from my chaos and darkness attributes, I slowly marched along the halls of Alvheim, persecuting every imperial soldier I came across… not.
Because Aria was in such a rush, she was sprinting down the halls at a blinding speed. Due to her wind attribute, she deftly avoided any fallen furniture and rounded the corners with ease.
Although lagging behind a bit, Titania managed to keep up due to her combat experience and natural dexterity.
As for me…
“…Right. So super strength and speed does not equal enhanced reactions. Good to know.”
Isn’t that obvious?
“No one asked you.”
And Serena answered.
I pulled myself out of the fourth wall I’d crashed into and started jogging after Aria. “Don’t you have anything better to do? Like maintaining the world’s order or something?”
Nope. I set those up a looong time ago. Everything’s self-sufficient and self-repairing.
Hey! I’m serious!
“Hi Sirius, I’m Harry.”
…That was bad.
I ignored the goddess and focused on following Aria.
The inner halls of Alvheim were a maze. Thankfully, Aria’s top speed wasn’t much faster than my casual jog so I didn’t have to worry about getting lost. I just… had to be careful not to kick off the ground too hard and go flying into another-
…I don’t think that’s how the Boy-who-lived got his scar, you know?
“…You know what? Walking’s probably a good idea.”
I pulled myself out of the wall and started powerwalking down the halls. I’d lost sight of Aria and Titania, but I could hear them talking. If I followed the sound of their voices, I should eventually catch up. And there… shouldn’t be anything to worry about now that I dispersed the chaos mana, right?
“Ari! Slow down!” Titania called out. “Da- Father will be fine! He has the twin swords of Yggdrasil with him!”
Aaand there’s a death flag.
Hey, if you’re trying to be a Demon Lord and all, why are you walking around? Can’t you just… float or something?
You have the mana for it and I think that I made gravity a subset of darkness? It should be easier to control since you have such a large mana pool then trying to run full-speed. And if not, I think that dark shroud thing you’re using could probably act like wings to propel you.
I tried it.
“…Go back to doing your goddess things already.”
With a better and more intimidating means of transportation, I followed after Aria and Titania.
Aria’s voice drifted down the halls. “That’s what I’m worried about! What if the soldiers stole them from Papa?”
“They wouldn’t dare!”
“You underestimate human darkness, Tani!”
“And how would you know, Ari? You’re only 18! Not even a toddler yet!”
“I’m plenty old enough! By human standards, I’m an adult!”
“You’re an elf, Ari!”
I sighed. Was it because they knew I was around to back them up, or were they normally like that? It seemed like Aria and Titania had completely forgotten about where we were and what was happening.
After getting used to flying for a bit longer, I kicked it up to full speed and arrived at Aria’s side. “Can you save the drama for later?”
Aria smiled. “Congratulations on figuring out a new power, Mister Demon Lord!”
“Oh. Thanks…? Wait, no.” I frowned. “Aren’t you two being a bit too reckless running down the halls like-“
“Everyone! Get in formation! The elves have called reinforcements from the demons!”
I sighed… something I was doing more and more recently.
The hallway we were traveling down opened up into an intersection up ahead. There, some remaining soldiers had created a blockade. At a rough estimate, about twenty of them were standing shoulder to shoulder, raising tower shields to form a human iron wall.
The one that called out was wearing slightly shinier armor than the rest and took the center of the formation.
I reached out with my mana and grinned. “You pathetic humans-“
“I’ve got this, Mister Demon Lord!”
Before I could say anything else, Aria ran past me.
“Ari, wait!” Titania put more force into her stride and reached out towards Aria. “It’s too dangerous for you to-“
“Dark Tempest.” Aria swept out her right hand after saying those words. Like the name, a swirling vortex of black wind emerged. Shooting out before Aria, it scattered the soldiers and sent them crashing against the walls with sickening thuds.
I muttered, “…Why does it seem like Aria’s more of a Demon Lord then I am right now?”
Because she is?
“I didn’t ask you!”
Aria glanced back. “Is something wrong, Mister Demon Lord?”
I coughed and flew towards Aria’s right side. “No. It’s fine. How much further until we reach your father?”
Seeing me speed up, Titania did the same and moved to Aria’s left.
An imperial soldier shot an arrow towards Aria. Without even looking at it, a wind blew and sent the arrow flying straight back at the soldier’s head, instantly killing him.
“We should be almost there,” Aria said. “Right, Tani?”
“…Yes.” Titania nodded. “That is correct. But Ari, um… How are you-“
“Die elf!” A soldier jumped out of a doorway on the right and swung his broadsword at Aria’s neck.
I grabbed my faithful companion to cut him down, but Aria was already in motion when I did.
Wind howled and Aria lashed out with her leg. There was a sickening crunch and the man froze. A moment later, the man’s grip on the broadsword slipped and he collapsed onto the ground.
I winced as I saw blood and other… things dripping from the man’s lower body when I flew past him. I glanced back at Aria and frowned. “Where did that young an innocent elf girl disappear to?” I muttered.
Aria’s ears twitched and she said, “Did you say something?”
“Yeah. Where do you think the soldiers took the rest of the elves to?”
Aria frowned. “Well, with your loyal servant outside to ‘clean up’ and with the chaos mana gone now, they should be fine. I think? Maybe?”
Titania chimed in. “That’s right. Lord Demon Lord… your Demoness… er,”
“Since you’re Aria’s sister, I give you permission to speak informally.”
Titania nodded. “Then… with your aid in getting rid of that chaotic aura, our people should be able to fend for themselves. We elves naturally have a high recovery rate, especially in proximity to the World Tree. That, paired with the restored natural mana should mean that the casualties should be low… if any.”
“I see. Then why are we in such a rush to get to the king? From what you told me, he should be fine, should he not?”
“That’s… right?” Titania frowned. “And with Yggdrasil’s blessing restored, the royal guards should have been revived to protect him.”
I turned towards the one responsible for our mad dash through Alvheim’s halls. “…Aria?”
“…Um.” She blushed. “…I forgot?”
I sighed. “Well, since we’re already almost there, we might as well get this over with.”
The inner sanctum of Alvheim, where the king of the elves presided over his kind. It was a spacious room in the depths of the world tree where he could observe all of the events occurring throughout Alvheim at once through its ‘branches’.
It was impressive. Although everything was organic and wooden, there was a certain elegance present that could only be found in such a setting. I was sure that most people would have been awestruck by the serenity and grace it exuded.
At least that would have been the case had we arrived any other time.
The inner sanctum was large, circular, and relatively sparse. A throne of woven branches in the center the sanctum served as the place for Alvheim’s king to sit upon while observing his subjects. Save for that, the only other decoration were a few pelts of Fenrir Wolf fur.
Well, that and the countless corpses of imperial soldiers littering the floor.
Aria ran into the sanctum and jumped into the arms of a man wearing flowing green robes and a crown of leaves.
“My little princess! You’re safe!” The man smiled and spun Aria around.
Titania stepped forward and then knelt onto the ground in front of the man. “Father.”
The man set Aria down beside him and nodded towards Titania. “Daughter. You kept Aria safe, I see.”
“…It was not by my own effort, but yes, Ari- Aria is safe.”
It was a heartwarming reunion scene. The young princess is delivered safely back into the king’s arms along with the princess knight as an escort.
…Except that young princess was practically grown up and the princess knight would have failed if I hadn’t shown up.
And what did I get in return for performing such a glorious feat? Twelve elven knights baring their blades and killing intent towards me and barring me from taking a single step inside the sanctum.
What did you expect? You *are* playing the role of the Demon Lord.
“Not helping, Goddess.”
I muttered, but the words didn’t travel beyond my ears. At that moment, Information Concealment was working overtime to ensure I had the terrifying aura of a true demon lord.
Which… probably explained the swords.
The king nodded towards Titania and then turned his gaze towards me. “Is that so?”
No doubt, the king was trying to see my features behind my fluctuating aura. Unfortunately for him, even if he did, Information Concealment would have only presented a black silhouette.
While the king scrutinized me, I did the same to him.
The first thing I noticed was that the king looked young. Whether that was a characteristics of elves or the benefits of being Alvheim’s king, I didn’t know. However, he didn’t look like he was more than a couple years older than Aria or Titania.
He was also handsome, making it clear that the elven princesses hadn’t inherited their beauty from their mother alone. Although, maybe calling him ‘beautiful’ would have been better, as the king’s appearance was the ambiguous type that would have been popular among the female population back on Earth.
His eyes were strangely blue instead of green, and his white hair was kept in the sort of wild but collected style that wouldn’t look out of place on a Korean pop star.
“So,” the king said. “It seems that I have you to thank for the safety of my daughters… as well as my people.”
I crossed my arms. “Hmph. Those humans dared to lay their hands on you, so of course I would help.”
“Is that so?” The king smiled, although the expression didn’t reach his eyes. “However, I don’t recall requesting aid of the Demon Lord. No, should I say fake Demon Lord?”
I laughed. “A fake, am I?”
The king stepped forward. With that act, the guards parted, although they remained alert. “Yes,” the king said. “Though it has been countless centuries ago, I have met with the Demon Lord before. That man, while bearing a heavy darkness, was upright and valiant. Powerful, yet restrained. But you…” His smile vanished. “You are wild. Chaotic. Not only that, but your power… it is suffocating to the extent that I wonder if there is even a person beneath that swirling aura.”
I learned something interesting. The Demon Lord was upright and valiant, was he? It looked like there was more to the conflict then the usual cliches then.
“Papa.” Aria called out. “That person-“
“Not now, little princess.” The king stared at me as if trying to look into my very soul. “…Tell me, ‘Demon Lord’. Who are you? Someone powerful enough to tame the Wrathful Sin Dragon and disperse the chaos mana clinging to Yggdrasil… are you perhaps an ancient catastrophe escaped from the Lost Woods?”
He’s not entirely wrong there.
“Again, not helping Goddess.”
Fine, fine. Back to the sofa it is.
Sofa? …No, that wasn’t important. Information Concealment was still active, so the king wouldn’t have heard anything. Instead, I would have appeared to be the strong and silent type, quietly oppressing them with my aura.
To be honest, I was impressed. Standing in front of the king, I could tell that he was nowhere near as powerful as Emperor Elio. That person was a monster that possibly could have taken Saphira on by himself, and that was before accounting in the hidden trump cards he held. But the king in front of me… in terms of mana, he only had maybe four times as much as Aria. Twice as much as Titania. Strong among normal adventurers and warriors, but nowhere near enough to stand at the top.
Yet, he remained standing in the face of my oppressing aura. And this was an aura that imitated that of the Wrathful Sin Dragon, a being that not even those otherworldly heroes could fully defeat.
“…And what of it?” I raised my hand, causing shadows to spill forth and light to dim.
One of the elven guards stepped forward and raised his blade.
Before he could take another step, a shadow billowed into the room and crashed against his blade, sending it flying into the wall.
The shadow coalesced in front of me, revealing a seductive beauty with crimson eyes and silky jet-black hair. Her left hand was outstretched, the clear cause of the sword flying away from the elf’s hand. “To raise a blade against my Master… it seems that you tire of your life, elf.”
I quickly called out to her. “Fi-er. You’ve finished cleaning up?”
Saphira glared at the elven guard for another moment before turning towards me. In an instant her expression changed into one of adoration. “Yes, my Master. I crushed those bugs like you asked and even healed the tree-huggers I came across on the way back. Did I do well?”
Ooh, she’s acting just like A*be*o!
I ignored the goddess like usual and then placed a hand Saphira’s head. “Good job.”
Saphira flushed and gave me a bright smile.
Behind the king, I saw Aria narrow her eyes, but I decided to ignore that for now.
“As I was saying, your majesty.” I turned towards the king. “What of it? Whether I am the Demon Lord or an ancient catastrophe, what matters is that I saved your daughters and your kingdom when the humans betrayed you and sought to defile both.”
“You-“ The king started to talk and then let out a sigh. “You’re right. The humans we believed in betrayed us, that upright Demon Lord launched a crusade against the humans, and the East has become silent. In a situation like this, you were the only one to reach out your hand.” The king lowered his head and said, “Forgive me.”
The elven guards and Titania cried out in protest.
“Enough! This person is our benefactor! Do you all dare to remain standing before him?” The king’s words echoed in the chamber and struck some sense into the guards.
At once, the elves took a knee. Everyone, that was, except Aria.
She simply stared at me and then rolled her eyes.
Was this how a father felt when her daughter reached the rebellious phase? I was starting to miss the young and innocent Aria who clung to me in gratitude.
Okay, red flag.
I thought you weren’t going to read my mind? Something about swearing as ‘Goddess Serena of Asifant’?
“That’s enough. A king shouldn’t bow their head to anyone but their own people, let alone someone like me.”
The king raised his head. “I thank you for your lenience.”
“Hmph. In that case the least you can do is give your name.”
“Ah, pardon me. It seems that I’ve forgotten my manners.” The king gave a wry smile and said, “My name is Aultry1 Sylvania. Might I have your name as well, Benefactor?”
A name. Right, a name. A mighty, terror-inducing Demon Lord name to be spread across the continent. That name-
“The Demon Lord Nazin2. That is who I am.”
…Hey. I thought this when you called yourself Nowun, but do you just have a poor naming sense or something? I mean, you didn’t even come up with an original name for a dragon and just used-
Timing, goddess! Do you not understand it?
Fine, fine. Back to the sofa it is…
“Demon Lord Nazin.” King Aultry contemplated for a while and nodded. “Then, Lord Nazin. May I ask what your plans are for my kingdom?”
I met Aria’s eyes.
Seeing that, King Aultry paled. At the same time, the guards instantly jumped to their feet. In the back, Titania ran to grab the sword sent flying from earlier.
“You insects!” Saphira growled and stepped forward.
“Enough, Fear.” I managed to get the name right that time. Good.
I turned towards the suddenly motivated crowd and said, “The youngest princess.” I reached out towards Aria. “Give her to me and this kingdom shall gain my protection. Refuse, and I will end everything here today.”
King Aultry was quiet, sweat running down his brow as he mulled over my words. “This… I…”
“Father!” Titania called out. “You cannot be seriously considering this! Demon Lord or not, to give up the one that mother died for-“
“You think I do not know that, Titania? But this decision concerns more than just a single life!” King Aultry glanced at Aria and then looked back at me.
The anguish of the decision was clear in his eyes.
I waited without saying a word, playing up the role of the dreaded Demon Lord.
It was a perfect scene. The anguished king, the subdued guards and princess knight. The young princess who… was rolling her eyes?
Aria shook her head and then stepped forward. “Papa. I’ll do it.”
King Aultry flinched and looked back. “Ari- No. I can’t-“
“It will be fine,” Aria said. “Mister ‘Nazin’ might look tough, but I’m sure he’s just a big softie on the inside. Aren’t you?” With her last words, Aria turned towards me and gave me a bright smile.
“…So it’s settled. The youngest princess will come with me and this kingdom shall come under my protection.” I clenched my hand and surged my mana. “No matter the enemy, be it Demon Lord, God, Brave, or the world itself. From this point on, you will have nothing to fear. This I swear as Demon Lord Nazin!”
…I still think that’s a crappy Demon Lord name.