Chapter 53 – Demon
Author’s Note: Harsh content, reader discretion advised.
The night Lina’s village was ruined, the avian children were told to hide in their houses while their parents fought off the fiends from the forest.
“No matter what happens, don’t come out of the house, okay Lina?”
“It’ll be alright. Your daddy is strong. I won’t lose to mere goblins or ogres.”
Upon hearing that goblins had come out from the forest, Evelina’s parents told her to hide in their house before they left.
Lightning struck from the sky, pulverizing the rampaging monsters.
Their roars echoed outside. Bright flashes of light could be seen. Death cries could be heard from the fiends.
Evelina, too young to endure her terror, ended up fainting.
When she woke, everything was deathly quiet.
The smoke that filled the air made Evelina cough.
The roof had collapsed, covering half of the room below in debris.
Using the faint moonlight, she eventually found a gap she could fit through and crawled out.
What she saw outside — was not the home she once knew.
Just yesterday, the villagers had been smiling happily. Now, the village was merely a blood-soaked shell of its former self.
She staggered through the empty ruins.
Then, she came upon it.
She saw a large silhouette, outlined by the blazing flames in the background and the pale moonlight from above.
The figure was kicking a round object, playing with it.
Evelina slowly crept closer.
The object rolled over to her, allowing Evelina to see the other side.
It was a head. It belonged to Evelina’s father, the strongest person in the village.
It had the same face that had always smiled at her. She touched it. There was nothing below its neck.
“Heyy! There was another one!!”
The figure stretched its hand out towards Evelina.
There was a feral glint in its eyes. It had the head of a dog or a wolf, and she could see sharp canines lining its mouth.
“This one was yer dad? He was strong. That’s an Avian fer ya. He made me go this far to beat him. He was completely different from those weak human knights. I was right to come here in person.”
The dog-headed demon growled as he crept towards Evelina.
The demon stood up, as tall as a house, and looked down at Evelina.
“Come to think of it, can’t ya Avians talk to each other mentally? Like you’d expect from half-divine spirit-like guys.”
The demon grabbed the girl, who had frozen in fear, by her collar and brought her face close to his.
“I’m gonna let ya be bait. How lucky, ya get to live. I’ll let ya live, at least until no more Avians come after ya.”
Evelina could smell blood wafting from the dog demon’s mouth as he taunted her.
The demon bared a ferocious smile at the wide-eyed Evelina.
The Avians from other villages noticed the disturbances in the village and came to investigate.
Evelina’s emotions of sadness and despair summoned Avians from far away who tried to save her.
However, every time they came, the Avians would be ambushed by the dog demon and were slaughtered.
They were like moths drawn to the flame that was Evelina.
Eventually, the Avians stopped coming.
Evelina didn’t know when she would be killed.
She lived in constant terror.
”Please, someone save me!”
”Death is scary! I want to live!”
Her thoughts cried out to the Avians in other villages.
She sensed their grim reply.
When she received that message, Evelina was given no other choice but to carry on alone.
She would never again be able to feel another’s embrace.
She would never again hear another’s words.
She would never again have another smile at her.
She would only continue to remain alone in the solitude of the ruined village.
“I’m gonna let ya be bait. How lucky, ya get to live. I’ll let ya live, at least until no more Avians come after ya.”
The demon’s words rang in her head…
The Avians would no longer come.
Evelina no longer had any worth as bait.
I’ll be killed. No. I don’t want to die. It’s scary! I don’t want to die! I want to live!
Just as that thought crossed her mind, she heard a boy shout.
Upon hearing his voice, Evelina slowly roused from her stupor.
Laura put down her needle and thread and peeked into the bedroom.
Her young guest, an Avian girl named Evelina, was crying in her sleep.
The sun was already high in the sky, but Laura quietly walked over, trying not to wake Evelina, and wiped the tears from her cheeks.
Last night, after Evelina had eaten her fill of stew, she had fallen asleep as soon as she laid down.
She had taken a bath and eaten a warm meal for the first time in months. Now that she was safe, all of the fatigue she had accumulated during her ordeal had probably finally overcome her.
The effects of having not eaten a decent meal since the destruction of Evelina’s village could be clearly seen on her emaciated body.
She’s been through so much for someone so young, Laura thought, looking at the girl.
She saw two small, clenched fists peeking out from Evelina’s sleeves. Her sleeves, much too long for Evelina, had been rolled up several times. Laura gently wrapped her hands around Evelina’s.
Evelina slowly began to stir.
Her eyes, red from crying, wandered around the room and stopped on Laura’s face.
“Did you have a bad dream? It’s alright now. You’re safe here, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“…Um…Lina… Lina is bait. If Lina is here… something bad… will come and kill everyone…”
Evelina sobbed while trying to speak.
“That’s okay, the adventurers will beat up the bad guy.”
Laura said to reassure her.
Be careful everyone, Laura thought, wishing for the adventurers’ safety.
Evelina’s words worried her, but she could only continue to comfort the young girl.
“Whoa! How cool!”
Oort had blocked the kobold’s gigantic club.
Louis had taken a hit, but he had the quick judgement to block it with his spear.
Finally, they saw Eliza’s fireball spell and Paul’s desperate stab.
For a moment, the experienced adventurers’ coordinated attacks left Wynn enthralled, and he forgot to even blink.
The moment the kobold collapsed, Wynn realized that he had been holding his breath, so he took in a few deep breaths.
He felt excitement bubbling within him.
Shivers ran down his spine.
Sweat flowed down the palm of his right hand and onto his sword.
“They’re so cool, Leti! Amazing! I want to be like them too!”
As they lowered their weapons, the adventurers gave off an air of experience.
Wynn chattered excitedly to Leti.
However, Leti was far from excited. She stayed silent, clinging tightly to his left arm.
Surprised, Wynn asked her what was wrong.
“What’s wrong, Leti?”
Leti trembled fearfully and stammered,
“Scary…I’m scared, Big Brother. That dog…isn’t dead yet.”
The kobold was flat on its face with a sword through its heart.
Paul was trying to pull out his sword from the monster.
“Huh? Of course it’s dead! It’s fine! They completely beat it!”
Leti shook her head.
“You know what? I can see something weird… Scary things are gathering around the dog.”
Leti clung to Wynn’s arm tighter.
“I’m scared, Big Brother!”
“Scary things? I can’t see them. Are you sure?”
“Leti doesn’t know either. They look like the things that gathered when Miss Eliza made the fireball, but they feel wrong.”
She said tearfully as she pointed to Eliza.
“Heey! It’s alright now. What’s wrong? Were you scared by the fight? Louis and Paul took care of it, so it’s fine. How was it? Did you learn a lot?”
When he noticed Leti’s appearance, Oort began walking towards Wynn and Leti.
He tried to make his gruff face seem less threatening.
Leti has talent I don’t have, Wynn thought.
He had felt this time and time again, be it when training or when studying.
In both swordmanship and magic, Leti had quickly absorbed the skills Wynn taught her.
He was often reminded of the various distinguished people in the stories they read. The knights, heroes, saints, and finally, the Braves.
All of them possessed strength and abilities far beyond the average person.
He believed that Leti’s talent most likely rivalled that of those individuals.
She could be the heroine from any of those stories.
Even if Wynn couldn’t sense the things she saw, he decided to believe in Leti.
If Leti says it isn’t dead, then it definitely isn’t dead! Wynn thought.
“What is it, Wynn?”
“Leti says… Leti says that it’s not dead yet!”
“What do you mean?”
Wynn was about to respond when they heard Paul’s cry.
The kobold slowly stood up.
The sword was still embedded within its chest.
Paul fell onto his backside, while staring at the monster in astonishment.
“No way! We pierced its heart! A monster’s organs should still be in the same places as those of a normal animal!”
Eliza had healed Louis as much as she could and was in the middle of bandaging his other wounds. The two of them could only stare at the kobold in shock.
The monster released a loud, unrestrained laugh.
“Well well well, ya guys did pretty good! Are ya the so-called adventurers? Didn’t think I’d be this lucky! Didn’t think I’d enjoy it this much!”
“Th- the kobold talked?”
“‘It talked?’ That so weird? I ain’t a simple kobold. Name’s Veldaroth.”
The demon answered Eliza’s bewildered question.
As he laughed, the sword came out of his chest.
There was no sound, and no blood spurted from the wound. The sword seemed to slip out on its own. After floating in the air for a moment, it clattered to the ground.
“I was waiting fer that Avian brat to call more of her kind to the village, but it’s been friggin’ boring recently. Won’cha play with me?”
He provoked the adventurers with his words and a beckoning gesture.
With a shout, Oort charged at the demon Veldaroth. As he ran, he began to swing his axe furiously.
Oort had the strength to even chop through stone.
However, Veldaroth easily stopped Oort’s blow with his free hand.
The axe blade didn’t even scratch the demon’s palm.
“Good hit, but I won’t be cut by a regular blade, ya know? I’m a demon, after all. Y’all need magic or magic weapons. Didn’t ya know that?”
Veldaroth crushed the axehead with his bare hands and swung the handle around.
Oort’s feet left the ground and he flew through the air, like a weed being uprooted, until he crashed into a tree.
Oort groaned after he landed.
Eliza stopped healing Louis, stood up, and quickly began to chant.
Oort got back up and charged at the demon again.
“‘Hey, didn’t I tell ya it won’t work? What’re ya tryin’ to do?”
Oort threw his axe handle at Veldaroth with all of his might.
Veldaroth instantly swatted it away.
“O blade, follow my will: Imbue the blade with my power!”
Eliza finished her spell.
Her target was Paul’s blade, which had fallen out from Veldaroth’s chest.
Oort picked it up and slashed at the demon.
“Enchantment Magic. How interesting!
Oort swung his sword freely.
The blade, imbued with the enchantment, left a trail of light as it flashed through the air.
Oort may have been an axe specialist, but his swordsmanship was still first-rate.
Even so, his attack missed his target.
Veldaroth had dodged his swing with an agility unimaginable from his large body.
Veldaroth suddenly countered with a swing of his club.
It was impossible for Oort to dodge it at such a close range.
Instead, he quickly raised his shield to block the attack.
The club slammed into the shield with a loud crash.
Oort found himself flying through the air again, due to the force of the blow.
The sword left Oort’s hands and the blade sunk into the ground near Wynn and Leti.
“Oops. Used too much strength. Sorry for breakin’ yer arm,” the demon taunted.
Oort’s iron shield was completely deformed by the blow.
His shield arm had been completely smashed. Blood gushed out of the wound, and his bones were protruding through his skin.
Paul rushed over to Oort.
He slung Oort’s uninjured right arm over his shoulder and helped him stand.
“Hey, are ya gonna run away? Did ya think I’d just let ya?”
Veldaroth jeered as he watched them try to move away.
“We aren’t running away from you. I was just getting him out of the way.”
“O fireball, strike true!”
Eliza used all of her remaining mana to shoot a fireball at Veldaroth, which exploded upon impact.
“We did it!”
Seeing the fireball hit its mark, Eliza cheered, with a tinge of happiness in her voice.
Unfortunately, she was mistaken.
Veldaroth swung his club.
The gust of wind from his swing blew out the flames like a candle.
“Us demon ain’t affected by anythin’ but spells and magically imbued weapons. Yer spells could hardly be called magic if ya compare them to the Avians’ spells!”
“Well, it did sting a bit. I had some fun, but humans are never strong. The Avians ain’t comin’ neither. I should just take care of ya guys and kill off that bait.”
Oort bit his lips so hard that they bled. All color drained from Paul’s face.
Eliza, having exhausted all of her mana, lay gasping on the ground.
Next to her, Louis had drawn a dagger in place of his broken spear and was struggling to sit up.
Paul’s legs were frozen in fear, unable to move another step.
Veldaroth moved to stand right before him.
The demon’s feral glare caused Paul to drop Oort, and he collapsed to the ground himself.
His whole body shook and his teeth chattered audibly.
Oort, also unable to move, could do nothing but await his imminent death.
“Well, it’s the end fer ya. Least ya helped me kill some time, eh?”
Veldaroth raised his club.
The tip of Paul’s sword suddenly appeared again in Veldaroth’s chest, just like it had moments before.
Veldaroth screamed in pain.
The blade emitted a faint glow.
Veldaroth couldn’t ignore the damage this time around.
“Who…who did that?”
As if responding to Oort’s question, the person who stabbed Veldaroth kicked the demon as they pulled the sword from the demon’s back.
Oort saw Wynn standing there, wielding Paul’s sword.
“Argh. Yer pretty good fer a brat. Ya wanna play, too?”
“No! Run, Wynn! Don’t be stupid!”
Ignoring him, Wynn ran straight at Veldaroth.
He was faster than anyone thought a child his age could be.
“Stop scurryin’ around!”
Veldaroth swung his club.
Right before it reached him, Wynn leapt back.
The blast of air from the swing pushed Wynn even further backwards.
Wynn adjusted his stance midair and landed lightly on the ground.
Then Veldaroth bared his fangs.
Light coalesced in his mouth as he gathered magic power.
After a moment, he shot beams of light from his mouth at Wynn, one after another.
Wynn wove side to side, dodging the beams, as he made his way towards Veldaroth.
Once Wynn got close enough, Veldaroth closed his mouth and swung his club again.
Wynn slid under the swinging club.
It wouldn’t have been possible if he had a bigger body.
Wynn could hear the wind as the club passed over him.
The gale caused by the swing felt like it was ripping his hair out.
Still, Wynn pushed on and slashed at Veldaroth’s thigh.
“Ya messed up! There ain’t much mana left in the sword. Can’t even scratch me!”
It was true, the sword would barely cause any damage to the demon.
Veldaroth let go of his club and attempted to smack Wynn with his hand.
Wynn used Veldaroth’s descending arm as a foothold and thrust at the demon’s canine face.
The demon dodged by tilting his head and shook his arm to dislodge Wynn from it. He sent a roundhouse kick at the airborne Wynn.
Realizing that he was midair with Veldaroth’s leg swiftly approaching, Wynn stretched out his left arm and used his elbow to cushion the blow. He was launched through the air by the force of the kick.
“Leti!” Wynn called out.
Veldaroth, following Wynn’s line of sight, turned around.
He saw a fireball — several times larger than the one Eliza had created earlier — floating above Leti.
“What the hell!?”
When Veldaroth turned around completely, Leti pointed at the demon.
The fireball shot towards Veldaroth, leaving scorching hot air in its wake.
When it hit, a pillar of fire erupted into the sky.