Corruption

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Chapter 7

About an hour later, I easily spotted Ren. He was by himself as he gathered water at a nearby ravine.

"Ren!" I called out as I approached him and dismounted from the horse. "Do you still have the stone I gave you to track the corrupt magic?" I asked.

He turned to me. "Stella, you're alright," he said in relief as he stood up. Ren began to make his way towards me but immediately stopped a few feet away. His expression changed from surprise to confusion, then to worry and guarded.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Why do you want the stone?"

"I just want to see it." I took a step forward but he quickly took a step back.

"No."

I frowned in irritation. "Give it to me!" I snarled as I drew my black sword.

Ren immediately turned and began to run. But I quickly grabbed the back of his collar and shoved him to the ground. I placed the point of my blade against his throat. "Give me the stone." I commanded as a line of blood trickled down Ren's neck.

"Ren!" Ace called out as he ran from behind the trees. "What the hell? What do you think you're doing you brat?"

I didn't even look at Ace. I kept my entire focus on Ren.

"Hey, get off him!" Ace grabbed my shoulder.

I swung my blade out, shallowly slashing Ace's chest. "Don't touch me."

"Damn, have you lost your mind?!"

I finally took my gaze away from Ren and glared at Ace. This guy...I should just beat him badly right now. Maybe that ought to teach him some respect.

"Nocturne, you shouldn't be getting up!" I heard Aeris' voice.

Soon the sounds of rustling leaves echoed in the air and then he appeared. Nocturne wobbled towards the area where we all stood. His eyes were wide, staring in surprise at the situation.

"Stella.." was all he managed to say.

Grr, this is so irritating. All I want is for my powers to be complete.

Nocturne took a few steps forward.

"Stop! Don't come any closer." Ren yelled from beneath me. "There's something wrong with Stella."

"There is nothing wrong with me!" I retaliated. "You're just delaying what I deserve. I won't allow any of you to stand in the way of what I desire."

"What do you desire, Stella?"

"Power!" I roared as I emitted a wave of my newly obtained magic. The magic shoved everyone away from me, knocking them against the ground and trees. Everyone seemed dazed from the blow. Ren, being the closest to me, became unconscious from the force of my magic. I reached my hand into his pocket and took the stone. "Finally, I have it," I giggled in relief as I gazed into its purple depths.

Suddenly the stone began to glow. Its purple light began to envelop my entire body. The stone disappeared from my palm. And as the light faded, my body felt entirely at ease. "Ah...hahaha. This feels wonderful. Such extraordinary power and it is all mine."

"S-Stella..." Nocturne whispered meekly. He laid on the ground, unable to stand. His wounds had reopened as red spots of blood bloomed on his clothes. "Your hair--" he gasped, "your eyes."

"My hair and eyes?" I held my hair in my hand and brought it in front of me. My pale blue hair was no longer the same color. It had now turned pitch black. Ah, if only I could see my eyes. What color did they change to?

"Finally, you are complete, my Demon King--or should I say Queen!"

"That voice--" I quickly turned my head to the direction of the sound. A stranger in a blood-red robe approached me from the shadows. "Who are you?"

"My name is Zelgius." His voice was deep. As he walked out into the light, I noticed that he had deathly pale skin. His hair was a silver color, causing him to look even more ghostly. But the most disturbing feature was that there were no whites in his eyes. They were completely black.

"Stay away from me." I pointed my sword towards the stranger. "What are you?"

"I am an undead creature, more precisely-- a Wight."

I observed him, intrigued. Wights are corpses with part of their decayed soul still residing in them. They only survive by sucking the life out of their victims. "What does a life-draining undead want with me? You're the one that's been talking to me in my mind, aren't you?"

Zelgius chuckled. He then dropped down on one knee and placed his fist over his chest and bowed at my feet. "I desire nothing but to provide you with what you desire-- power. And right now, I can teach you to hone your new powers. We do not want your new powers going out of control, since you have just awakened."

"No, don't, Stella!" Nocturne pleaded.

I immediately glared at Nocturne. "Don't ever tell me what to do. I'm not the same, weak Stella anymore."

"Zelgius, we're leaving," I turned my face away.

"Of course, my Queen," he stood and made his way to my side. "Please allow me to teleport us to a suitable location."

I nodded and Zelgius began casting a spell. I could feel an aura of magic surround us. Before we vanished, I peeked at Nocturne. He bore an expression of despair and confusion. Hehe, that's a wonderful look you have, Nocturne.


In our new location, I noticed that we were in a keep of some sorts. The room was filled with large golden artifacts and chests filled with gold coins and jewels. I realized that we were in a treasury. Not too far away, I noticed a golden, framed mirror leaning against the wall. I quickly made my way to look at my reflection. I gasped in surprise at my eyes. They were no longer a violet-blue color. My eyes changed to a deep shade of purple, the same color of the stone I had taken from Ren.

"Welcome, Demon King."

I turned to the door and noticed a man entering the treasury. "You... If I recall, consorting with the undead is a crime punishable by death, regardless of status, King Darren."

"I am willing to be punished by following the wills of a Wight. However, I do have my reasons." I continued to look at him, waiting for him to continue. "You've already seen the undead spawn in the world. After a century of tranquility, the balance of magic is falling apart."

"The balance?"

"Magic is divided into two factions," Zelgius explained. "There is the magic that you human nobles use and its elements. But in counter balance there is shadow magic."

"Shadow magic?" Everything they said sounded completely foreign to me. I've never heard about anything like this before.

"I believe you humans call it 'corrupt' magic. As you may have learned, our shadow magic allows the higher class of undead to cast spells of necromancy and many other spells. And you, as the new Demon King, may use your powers to seal up the shadow magic which is spreading throughout your human world from our underworld. And if there is a thicker amount of shadow magic, it makes it much easier for us undead to be stronger."

"But you're an undead. Why would you want me to keep your type of magic in check?"

"Ha! If you're able to keep the creatures such as liches and death knights at bay, then I don't have to worry. All I require to survive is the life of the living. And there may not be many living creatures if the undead are allowed to roam freely. I have remained in the human realm for almost two centuries. I know what would make my life easier."

"So why is it me? Why am I the Demon King?"

Zelgius shrugged. "You seemed like you wanted power. And I decided to grant it to you by selecting you as the next Demon King. You just happened to be following the path that had been set out for the next candidate," he chuckled. "And as the noble, mage of light, you can control the shadow magic that is quickly seeping into the human realm much more easily."

"So then what happened to the previous Demon King?" I asked curiously.

"Well, from what I know, the Demon Kings have always been human. Though they usually go mad with power and get killed by other humans."

Could it be that those humans that have obtained magical power are those that become Demon Kings? "Do all humans that obtain the power to control shadow magic become the Demon King?"

Zelgius scratched his chin. "Well...that is possible. I prey on humans but I don't pay much attention to their affairs."

"Humph, so then I am bound to be going mad in the end, as well?"

"Hmm, well no nobles have ever been turned into a Demon King before. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see what will become of your sanity."

I rubbed my temples. Eventually, I will be killed by everyone... I breathed a long sigh. "Anyways, teach me how to use my powers," I urged the Wight.

"Alright, alright. But, the only condition for me to help you control your powers is that you'll go around the land to seal the areas where the shadow magic is seeping from."

"Fine, whatever."

"Then I shall leave you both. I have a Kingdom to protect," Darren spoke as he left us.


The next morning Zelgius teleported us to a remote, open plain surrounded by a mountainous region and thick forests. If I get found out that I'm travelling with an undead creature, I'll be burned at the stake! Well...being a Demon King already writes a death sentence on my head regardless... But I rather keep going as long as I possibly can. "Hey, you better keep your hood on low. I don't want to be spotted in the open with you."

Zelgius chuckled. "As you wish. It shouldn't be too bad since I'll be teleporting us around and we will only have to be in contact with humans for...restoration."

I sighed. "Keep your deeds with human life to yourself. Even if I'm a Demon King now, I will still die like a human."

"Don't worry, I'll make sure you stay alive long enough to subdue the shadow magic in the human world."

I rolled my eyes at the undead. "Maybe it'll be best if I cripple you right now then. I can probably trap your soul and burn you with my light magic."

He laughed nervously, "please do not say that, even in jest."

"Anyways, this is the place?" I asked as I stood at the base of the mountain. I scanned the surrounding area. I could sense the shadow magic throughout the air. But I had yet to see any signs of the undead.

"Yes, it's up there," Zelgius pointed towards a tiny opening in the middle of the mountain.

"You expect me to climb a mountain? Why don't you just teleport us."

"I provided you with the knowledge of necromancy and taught you how to control your powers. Please demonstrate the fruits of my labors."

I sighed. "This is the only time you give me orders. The next time you do not follow mine, your soul will not have a corpse to return to," I warned. I began scanning the ground. Not too far away, I found a large pile of animal corpses directly below the mountain's opening. There were half-rotting corpses of wolves, coyotes, squirrels and crows. Good, there are bird remains. I began to weave my shadow magic around the corpses. I used my Demon King magic to replenish the deteriorated flesh and reconstruct the joints of a black-furred, dire wolf. Once I completed the first step, I began to fuse the corpse of the wolf with the wings of multiple crows. Soon enough, I had created an undead dire wolf with three pairs of elongated crow wings on its back. I made sure to strengthen all the joints, so this should be strong enough to fly me to the cave.

As I completed my undead creature, the undead dire wolf looked at its new limbs on its back curiously. It then experimented with flapping its wings up and down. It then looked up at me with its vibrant blue eyes, wagging its tail in joy of being alive once more. Despite having to patch up its missing flesh with shadow magic, the wolf looked quite adorable, just like a puppy. "Alright, boy, I need you to take me up to the cave," I spoke as I sat on its back. "If you do a good job I'll give you a treat."

The dire wolf immediately flapped its wings and took to the sky. Without difficulty, the undead dire wolf was able to fly with ease. And in no time at all, I stood at the entrance of the mountain-side cave.

I can sense the shadow magic in the air. It feels so dense. But my body doesn't feel heavy like it did before when I was with Nocturne. Could this be because I've become the Demon King and shadow magic now flows within me?

The sounds of groaning echoed in the cave. Even the dire wolf became aware of the presences within the shadows and began raising its fur and growling. Slowly, a few figures were becoming visible as they stepped out towards the sunlight. There were zombies, gradually emerging from the depths of the cave. They must still be attracted to the light magic still within my body. I began to envelop my body with a cloud of shadow magic, camouflaging myself with the auras of an undead creature. Easily enough, the zombies stopped their limping and sliding towards us and returned to mindlessly roaming around.

"Alright, now to find where the shadow magic is seeping out from. Wolf, you stay here." I began making my way into the cave but I immediately stopped my footsteps as I heard whining from behind me. The dire wolf was right at my heels, not wanting to be left alone. "No, don't follow me, I don't want you to get purified along with the rest of these undead." But the wolf argued back at me with more whining. It responded with a pleading look. "Ugh, alright, alright. You can follow me," I sighed in defeat.

We walked down into the cave, losing the sunlight as we progressed. It's starting to get too hard to see. I placed my hand against the stone wall, trying to get a feel of my surroundings. I conjured a small orb of light magic and flicked it into the darkness. It bounced on the ground, lighting my path. I quickly walked towards the light before it faded and before we got surrounded by confused and agitated zombies. I continued this tactic until my orb of light bounced back towards me. "A dead end?"

Suddenly the dire wolf walked towards the wall and began digging down on the ground. Curiously, I followed it and dropped another small orb onto the ground. There were cracks in the stone wall and floor. "W-wait don't keep digging or else--". I was interrupted by the sounds of rock crumbling. Suddenly the floor gave way and we both tumbled down the hole.

We dropped to a deeper area, completely surrounded by pitch darkness. I noticed that the air had changed. There was a higher amount of pressure in the air, making it slightly uncomfortable for me to breathe. "Urgh, where are we now?" I summoned a large orb of light and held it in my hand, illuminating the entire area.

"Ngaaaa, stop it! It burns!" screeched a high-pitched voice. A shadow swiftly jolted behind a pile of stones, running away from my light magic.

I cautiously approached the location of the voice. "Who are you?"

Suddenly, Zelgius teleported to my side. "Careful, that's a lich," he cautioned.

Curiously, I peeked over the stones. Curled up in a ball, I saw a tiny person, trembling from the light. This tiny person had a head of baby-blue hair, tied into two long, pigtails with yellow bands at the sides of her head. This little kid is a lich? Aren't liches supposed to look terrifying and powerful since they can summon undead creatures? And they're basically immortal since they place their soul in some sort of artifact, away from the corpse that they possess. I tossed the orb of light to the other end of the room, to reduce its effect on the lich.

Slowly, the lich opened her eyes. She had big, blue eyes with little star patterns in the irises. "Who are you?" she asked.

"My name is Stella," I introduced. "This guy is Zelgius."

The little lich smiled happily, "I'm Lulu."

"So what's a lich doing here?"

"I've always been here," she giggled. "So what's a Wight and a human doing at an area seeping with shadow magic?"

Just as I was about to respond, Zelgius raised his arm, signaling me to stop. Even the dire wolf began growling at the lich. I took a closer look at the lich. She no longer looked cute and adorably innocent. The lich now bore an expression of anger and suspicion. Her expression was dark as she glared at us.

Suddenly, the ground began to rumble beneath us. Skeletal hands sprouted from the ground, bringing up corpses of full skeletons. "Leave now before I turn you into my next undead puppet, girl."

"Stella, hurry and purify this place!" Zelgius yelled.

"But--"

"Just do it!"

"I won't let you!" the lich shrieked. The army of skeletons swiftly jumped towards me.

Out of surprise and fear for my life, I released as much light magic from my body as I could, bathing the entire area in blinding light. I could feel the darkness try to sweep over my mind, but I forced myself to stay conscious.

As the light began to fade, I could see piles of ashes spread out throughout the area. Even the location where the lich had been standing momentarily was replaced by a pile of ashes. I was finally able to take a breath of relief and dropped to me knees.

"Stella!" Zelgius suddenly appeared at my side, holding me steady.

"You're not a pile of dust. That's too bad," I chuckled weakly.

"I teleported myself and the wolf out before you purified the place. It seems like I made the right choice in making you a Demon King. Purifying the shadow magic is much better than having to absorb it."

"That lich is dead, right?" I asked meekly.

"Unfortunately you just destroyed a corpse the lich possessed. Its soul is probably elsewhere. But at least the lich is severely weakened unless it can find another area saturated with thick amounts of shadow magic."

"Anyways, get us out of here," I ordered softly.

"As you command."


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