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Chapter 11

The next morning, I was greeted by gentle knocks on my door. Nocturne walked in calmly. “Everyone’s waiting for you.”

I hesitated. What if they don’t forgive me after I attacked them? I’m also the Demon King now. Aren’t they going to have to execute me? But I also still have to purify the shadow and stop Lulu from doing whatever she’s planning.

Nocturne noticed my hesitant expression and held out his hand to me. “It’ll be alright,” he spoke reassuringly.

Finally, I looked up at him. His face looked tired. He looked very worn out. I wonder if he’s been worried about me all this time. But despite his exhausted appearance, his expression was completely calm. He even smiled a little at me. I smiled back nervously and nodded. Slowly, I reached out my hand and placed it into his. We then left my room and exited the Light manor and entered the castle.

Nocturne led me to a large room where all the nobles sat around a table. Everyone looked at me as I entered. Feeling vulnerable and self-conscious, I watched my feet shuffling at the floor. Nocturne walked to the end of the table and pulled out a chair for me to sit down. Nervously, I followed the lead of his actions and sat down silently. After I was sitting, Nocturne walked over to the end of the room, standing by the wall behind me.

I quickly glanced around the table fast enough so that I couldn’t be able to get a clear image of any of their facial expressions. Then, I kept my eyes down on my hands which were crossed over my lap. I didn’t want to see the expressions they were giving me. It was so silent in the room. It felt like my heart was pounding loud enough for everyone to hear. I felt that there was a high amount of tension in the air which surrounded all of us. It feels like I’m here to be interrogated or persecuted...

“Stella,” Olber spoke up finally. I looked up and saw him standing beside me. He took my hands from my lap and held it in his own. “Forgive me, Stella. Prince Odin suggested it would best for everyone if you became the Demon King in order to protect our citizens. I was more concerned with protecting the world than protecting you. King Darren informed the Crowned Prince and I that if the Demon King were to be summoned, it would prevent the spreading of the shadow magic across the land and stop the spawns of the undead. I didn’t even question why he decided that it would be you. And moreover, I knew that the shadow magic could change and corrupt one’s mind yet I still brought you towards the path of becoming the Demon King. I knew that Nocturne wouldn’t be willing to let you become the Demon King which is why I forcibly took you away to the Kingdom of Potestatem.”

I was speechless. One of the reasons why I ended up becoming the Demon King was because Olber was thinking of saving the world. Even if Olber asked me to become the Demon King, I don’t even know if I would be able to accept such a burdening task.

“Even if being the Demon King wasn’t something I would have chosen in the past, I still have to bear the responsibilities now.” Olber looked disheartened. “But it’s because I’m the Demon King that I’m able to have strength to protect those that are important to me.” I smiled at Olber reassuringly.

“Stella, all this time, were you just cleansing the land of shadow magic?” Aeris asked.

I nodded my head. I began recounting my journey with the Wight, Zelgius. I spoke about how I summoned undead creatures without really thinking of my actions just to spite bandits who were trying to rob me. And I explained our encounter with the lich, Lulu and how she had summoned an undead dragon lord. I told them how I felt when I absorbed the shadow magic--how powerful I was and how afraid I had become of myself.

Nocturne walked over to my side. “There’s still something else you want to say to everyone, right?”

I was silent for a moment then nodded slowly. Everyone looked at me, eager at what I had to say. I swallowed hard before I looked up at all of them. “I...I’m really sorry for what I did. I attacked all of you just so I could gain power and then I ran off with an undead. I-If you want to execute me because I’ve become the Demon King, I’ll accept my fate once I settle all my responsibilities. I know that I don’t have the right to continue living as a Demon King.”

“Stella,” Olber spoke once more, “we would never want to do that. You are precious to us. You’re like a little sister to us all. And this problem, with the shadow magic, should not be burdened by you all alone. This problem of the shadow magic is the responsibilities of all the nobles.” Everyone nodded and agreed with Olber.

“Don’t push us away, Stella. We want to help you as much as we can,” Aeris expressed.

Ren nodded. “Let us help you.”

“Even if you are the Demon King now, you’ll always be you. And we’ll always care about you,” Zeno voiced.

“B-but what if it comes to the point where I go mad from all the shadow magic? I don’t want to hurt you all again.” Tears began welling in the corner of my eyes.

“Ha!” Ace scoffed, “if you do go out of control, we’ll just have to knock some sense back into you. And you better not complain if you’re hurting after, you brat.”

I wiped away the tears that formed in my eyes as I looked at all the nobles. “Thank you, everyone.”

Nocturne placed his hand on my shoulder. “See? I told you it would be alright.” He smiled at me.

“Thank you, everyone.”

“So, Stella,” Olber spoke up again seriously, “how many more areas of shadow magic are left?”

“I-I’m not really sure. Apparently the shadow magic keeps appearing randomly. I’ve been trying to purify and absorb as much shadow magic as I could.”

“That shouldn’t be happening. Once an area of shadow magic has been cleansed, it should not reappear, nor should any new areas of shadow magic appear.” Ren remarked.

“Could it be because the balance of magic is unstable?” I asked.

“Shadow magic should not be pressuring the land to this extent. There must be something or someone pushing or pressuring it from the land of the undead,” Olber informed.

Suddenly, my eyes lit up in realization of a possibility. “I think that lich, Lulu, might be planning something. When I found her and the undead dragon lord she had summoned, she tried to hide it behind a thick veil of shadow magic. I wasn’t able to remove the shadow veil with my light magic alone.”

Olber nodded in agreement. “If that undead truly is the cause of the increased appearance of shadow magic, we have to find that lich and put an end to her.”

“Well, the last I saw of her was in a large field not too far from the Kingdom of Animus. But she might have left after I took down her veil.”

Ren shook his head at me. “Stella, you won’t be searching for the lich.”

I looked at him in confusion. “Why?”

“You have the responsibility of cleansing the land of shadow magic. Please allow us to deal with tracking down the undead,” Aeris spoke.

“So I’ll still be travelling around to search for the shadow magic again?” I asked, disheartened that I would be travelling alone once more.

“I told you I’d never let you leave my side again,” Nocturne grinned. “I’m going to be coming with you.”

“Alright, so the plan will be for Stella and Nocturne to travel the land to rid it of shadow magic. Ren, you’re in charge of tracking the lich. Aeris will help you with whatever you require. Zeno, work with the knights and secure their patrol around the Kingdom of Animus. Make sure that no undead comes near the town. Ace, you and I will go to the other kingdoms and inform them of the current situation and have them prepare in case they need to evacuate their citizens,” Olber assigned our roles confidently.

We all agreed in unison. Then we began leaving the room, one by one. “Stella,” Olber stopped me, “welcome back.”

“I’m glad to be back.”

I made my way back to my room with Nocturne at my side. “Nocturne,” I spoke softly, “if I ever lose myself and start to attack you or anyone else, I need you to stop me.”

“Of course I will, Stella.”

I shook my head. “No, I mean, I really need you to stop me. If it ever comes down to it, I want you to end my life.”

Nocturne stopped his steps. “Why?” I turned to look at him but he suddenly grabbed my shoulders and pressed me against the wall. He looked torn at my words.

I moved my eyes away from Nocturne, avoiding his intent gaze. “If I end up hurting you-- if I end up hurting anyone precious to me again, I could never forgive myself.”

Nocturne wrapped his arms around me tightly. “I finally have you back at my side. I don’t want you to disappear-- ever again. I’ll do everything in my power, so please, don’t torment me like this.”

I nodded. I’m sorry Nocturne. I must always burden you until my very end. “Anyways,” I started, changing the subject, “we should get going. The shadow magic isn’t going to wait for us.”

Nocturne slowly let me out of his embrace. “Yeah, I’ll meet you by the horses once you’ve gathered everything.”

As Nocturne left, I entered my room and shut the door tightly. “Am I really allowed to stay by their sides?” I asked myself as I looked into the mirror. Beside the mirror was a painting done of Nocturne and I when we were kids. I had my pale, blue hair and violet-blue eyes. I could only stare back at my current self--at my darker appearance. My black hair contrasted the light purple dress I wore. And my dark, purple eyes seemed too unnatural.

I thought back to the times where I was so innocent and naive of the world. And my magic’s only use was to heal others. But now I have power. I have the strength to use the shadow magic, like no other human does. And even without the powers of the Demon King, I am still the most powerful against the undead. I sighed, “I wonder if I should be thankful to the undead for giving me the opportunity to prove that I have power?” ...Or should I be thankful to Zelgius for turning me into the Demon King?

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