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Chapter 9

I continued on my journey with Zelgius and Noctis. I continued to purify the shadow magic wherever we went. We ridded the magics over the oceans and mountains. There were even more unfortunate villages that got plagued by the magic. I saw more and more undead creatures and even more unfortunate fates. Fortunately, I have yet to run into any of the nobles again. It's been three months since I last saw them.

"Your flute playing still sucks, Zelgius. Why haven't you gotten any better after all these months of blowing into that wind pipe?"

Zelgius stopped playing his handmade flute and smiled apologetically, "I'm still learning. There is no need for me to rush new knowledge."

"How many more places do we have to purify?" I asked suddenly as I took sips from a gourd of water.

"It's hard to say. Strangely, shadow magic keeps erupting out like a volcano from different locations."

I sighed. I just want this to be over... "How long did it take the past Demon Kings to cleanse the land of shadow magic?"

Zelgius thought for a moment. "A few months...perhaps a year or two at most. It varies from human to human."

"Do you think I'm doing it wrong? Am I not supposed to just purify the shadow magic? How did the past Demon Kings get rid of the shadow magic?"

"Well, they didn't have any light magic to depend on. All they could do to rid the shadow magic was to absorb it into themselves. Which could be the reason why they all went mad and were put to rest."

I remained silent.

"Why are you in a rush to complete this task? It's not as if you've got anything else to do, do you?" he asked.

"The sooner we're done, the sooner I'll be rid of you."

Zelgius chuckled. "Well, we're not going to make any progress sitting around. Shall we get going?"

"Yeah, take me to the next location quickly."

Zelgius teleported us to a large, open, grass field. The shadow magic here was much more abundant that in any previous areas. Even with my attained affinity with the shadow magic, I could feel the pressure weighing on my chest.

Noctis immediately began growling viciously. I looked around, but could not see any sights of immediate dangers.

"Zelgius, do you sense anything?"

He eyed the same direction as Noctis. "Something big is out there. They're hiding behind a thick veil of shadow magic. I can't get a good sense of what's there."

"Then I'll just have to forcibly lift that veil," I spoke. I gathered large amounts of light magic within my body. I could feel the magic swell up within my core. I filled myself with so much light magic to the point I could not hold it within me anymore. With a single breath, I released all the pent-up magic. It exploded out of my body, lighting up the entire field. The brightness lasted for nearly a full minute. As the magic faded, I immediately collapsed to the ground.

"Are you alright?" Zelgius asked, suddenly reappearing at my side with Noctis.

"Is it gone?" I asked, referring to the shadow veil.

Zelgius turned his head towards the field. He shook his head. "No, it's still there."

I began to stumble to my feet.

"H-hey, you're too weak to release another blast of light magic."

"Then I'll just have to absorb the veil instead," I grumbled stubbornly. If something dangerous is hiding behind there, I can't just let it be... I raised my arm towards the field. For the second time, I began calling the shadow magic into my body. I could feel the heat increase in the palm of my hand. The heat then transferred from my hand and moved towards the core of my body. I felt ever more eager to suck in the shadow magic. I wanted more. It filled my body with wondrous power. I could feel my strength returning as I continued to absorb more and more of the shadow veil.

After a few moments, the veil had been lifted. In front of us no longer revealed a grassy field. It was now a large, barren wasteland. The ground was ashen. The trees were nearly burnt to a crisp. Only their branches remained. Even the sky had become dark and grey, as if all life had been sucked out.

I breathed as my entire body relaxed. "Humph...that shadow magic was just hiding a dead land like this?"

Suddenly, the sound of a large roar trembled the land. "What the hell was that?"

"T-that roar...," Zelgius trembled. "That's the roar of a dragon!"

"There hasn't been any sightings of dragons for decades. And from what I recall, dragons don't use shadow magic."

"What the hell are you doing breaking my shadow veil?" A small girl appeared in front of me. She had baby-blue hair, tied with yellow ribbons, in two pig-tails at the sides of her head. " again?"

"Lulu, huh? So you really are still alive." I immediately unsheathed my blade and directed it towards Lulu.

She grinned, "of course, you pathetic human. I'm a lich after all."

"So you're hiding a dragon now?"

"Mind your own business, girl."

"Hahaha, don't order me around, impudent undead. I won't let you run about as you please."

Lulu eyed me up and down. "A human concentrated with light magic and shadow magic? Ah, you must be one of those 'nobles'. But now you're just a little Demon King, am I right?"

"Humph, I'm still a Noble of Light!"

"Ahahaha, I wonder how long you'll last? Soon enough, you'll only want the shadow magic, just like every other foolish Demon King. You feel it, don't you--the wonderful feeling of power the shadow magic provides you with? Once you go mad with power, your little nobles will come to take care of you! Now that'll be a lovely sight to see!" Lulu laughed hysterically.

"Shut up!" I swatted my blade at her. But she quickly jumped back. "I won't fall to the darkness like the previous Demon Kings. I'll purify all the shadow magic and I'll rid myself of you."

"Hah! Not in this life, child. I won't allow you to purify anything! Shall I introduce you to my new pet that you were so curious about earlier?" She asked with a dark grin. Lulu raised her arm in the sky as she called, "come to me, my servant!"

A large roar shook the earth. The sky darkened as the sounds of wings flapping echoed in the air. I could only stare in horror at what was quickly approaching. In the sky, there was a large, flying creature. As it came closer and closer, I finally recognized what it was. It was a dragon, but not one I had ever seen in the books. This dragon was entirely bones, with patches of shadow magic over its wings and joints. This was an undead bone dragon.

Soon enough, the dragon was hovering in the air, right behind Lulu. At this distance, I noticed that the bone dragon wasn't alone. On its back was a rider wearing armor made of bones and steel. He looked almost human. However, he had features which contrasted him to be one. The rider had flickering black flames as eyes. His skin was as pale as Zelgius'. But most notable of all, was a large pair of demonic-looking wings with large talons sticking out from them.

"Undead dragon lord..." Zelgius gawked in fear.

I probably have the worst luck in the entire world right now...

"Kill them!" Lulu ordered.

I do have the worst luck in the entire world...

The bone dragon began gathering large amounts of fire within its mouth. The fire swirled around as its mass grew into an enormous fireball. Without hesitation, the dragon released its attack. The fire shot out like a vortex from the dragon's mouth.

"Watch out!" I cried as I jumped and shoved Zelgius away from the blow.

"T-thank you."

"Don't thank me yet. We're still not out of danger." I immediately stood to my feet and brandished my sword in both hands. The easiest way to defeat an undead creature is with light magic...even if it is an undead dragon lord... I'll have to fuse light magic on to my weapon. But as soon as I tried to gather the light magic, I felt a wave of dizziness hit me. My body began to sway as my vision began to blur. Damn it...I haven't restored enough light magic I used earlier...

"Stella!" Zelgius cried.

Lulu's shrill laughter filled the air. "This is goodbye, Demon King!"

The undead dragon prepared a second attack, aiming it directly at me. Without delay, the dragon released its flame. I shut my eyes tightly, preparing for the burning impact. But I felt a sudden jab against my chest, knocking me into the air. I heard the sound of a loud yelp as the fire reached the ground.

The dragon's attack destroyed the earth where I was. Following the initial impact came an explosion immediately after. The force of the explosion was so powerful that my body was blown away from the field. I flew into the air and into the forest. I crashed on to the ground, only to fall on to a steep slope where my body rolled endlessly. I could feel injuries appear throughout my body as rocks and branches cut into my skin.

Eventually, a sharp pain struck through my entire body as I came into contact with a large tree trunk at the bottom of the hill. Everything inside me hurt. I couldn't move. All I could do was agonize over the excruciating pain until my mind blacked out.

The figure stood from the ground, clutching its back with its hand. On its back were three long gashes, as if it had been attacked by a giant claw. The tears in its clothes were painted a deep red. Slowly, the figure turned its head. An expression of horror was plastered on its face. Its eyes looked deeply into my own. I could feel my heart race. It was then I realized who the prey was. My eyes opened wide as I realized what I had just done.


My body jolted forward as I woke from my dream--my nightmare. But as soon as I was up, sharp pain stabbed me all over my body, forcing me back down. Tears trickled down the side of my face. "It was me," I sobbed lightly.

"Ah, you're awake little miss. I was afraid you wouldn't be waking up. You've been asleep for nearly a week!"

I turned my head to the side, seeing a large man with a scruffy beard at the other side of the room. It was then that I finally realized my surroundings. I wasn't in some forest or field where I had been blown out to by the undead dragon's attack. I was in a bed in what seemed like a small cottage. I glanced over at my body. There were bandages all over my legs and arms. I returned my gaze to the stranger, "who are you?" I asked.

"The name's Edgar. I'm a lumberjack for the Kingdom. I found you unconscious and wounded out in the woods," he explained.

"Um...Did no one else come by here?"

"No one but you and me," he replied.

"Oh," I spoke, disappointed. I wonder if Zelgius and Noctis survived that attack...

"Anyways, I made some porridge. It'll be good for you to have something to eat after being asleep for so long." Edgar placed the bowl in my hands. "Eh, I can't quite guaranteed the taste though."

I picked up the spoon from the bowl, scooping some of the porridge and led it to my mouth. I swallowed the hot porridge. It wasn't as tasty as the porridge the castle's chefs made when I was sick but it made my heart warm. "It's delicious," I smiled as more tears began streaming down the side of my face.

"H-hey, are you in pain?" Edgar asked, concerned.

I shook my head. "It's been a long time since I had such warm food."

Edgar gave me a look that I was weird and usually ate cold porridge but he quickly changed his expression with a pleased smile. "Well, eat up. There's more if you like."

"Um, Mr. Edgar, you said you're a lumberjack for the Kingdom--which Kingdom exactly?"

"The Kingdom of Animus."

I was surprised. I'm back in Animus? I really need to leave the Kingdom more. I didn't even recognize that field where we ran into Lulu. "How far are we from the Kingdom?"

"A short horse ride. I can't be living too far from the Kingdom if I have to deliver them wood every day. Did you want me to bring you to town? I have to be there to make my delivery for today."

I thought momentarily. I can't return to the Kingdom. I'm the Demon King now. I even attacked everybody... I shook my head. "No, it's alright."

Knock, knock.

"I wonder who that could be." Edgar asked as he made his way to the door. The door creaked open, letting in the minimal rays of sunshine. It looked like it was about to rain. "Oh, hello there, Sir Knight. Does the king require the wood now?"

"No, Mr. Edgar, the King has requested that I accompany you back to the Kingdom. There have been an increased sightings in undead creatures lately."

"Yes, that is true. Please let me prepare myself. The wood is already loaded into the wagon. If you could attach the wagon to the horses that would be very helpful."

"Of course, Mr. Edgar," the knight nodded and left from my line of sight.

Increased sightings of undead in the Kingdom of Animus? So what Zelgius said about the shadow magic suddenly appearing constantly is true. I have to hurry and seal the shadow magic...

I quickly casted healing spells all over my body. This should be enough for the time being. I quickly got off the bed and searched around the room. It looks like I lost my sword in that fight, too.

"Oh my, are you alright to be moving around, little miss?"

"Yes, there is something I must go do. You have my gratitude for saving me."

"H-hey, you can’t be going in those rags. Here, let me give you a little something." I looked down at my clothes. They were torn with holes everywhere. It was stained with dirt and blood. He was right; I couldn't go walking around like this--not as a Demon King and definitely not as a Noble of Light.

Edgar returned to me and held a pile of clothes in his hands. "Here, change into this."

"Thank you," I spoke. He left the room and I began removing my tattered rags and put on a clean pair of clothes. There was a white blouse with puffy, red pants.

After I finished changing, I left the room. I saw Edgar packing two loafs of bread into a cloth and then knotted the ends. He picked up a red cloak and handed the two items two me. "A few things for your journey," he smiled.

I smiled, holding back the tears in my eyes. "Thank you so much, Mr. Edgar."

He patted my back. "You have a safe journey, now."

I nodded and made my way out the door. The knight who had come to accompany Edgar looked at me as I left. I didn't recognize him from the usual knights I saw when Nocturne patrolled the town with his platoon. Maybe he's a new recruit. It's been a few months since I left so I'm bound to not recognize some people in the castle now.

When I was far enough from the cottage, I closed my eyes and began scanning the area for the nearest shadow magic. I could sense three nearby areas where the shadow magic was strong. I hope I can deal with absorbing three locations' worth of shadow magic without going mad... I began calling the shadow magic to me as I held out both my palms. I could feel the magic enter my body from my hands and then go directly to the core of my body.

I inhaled deeply as the magic fueled my adrenaline and my heart began to race. I have to stay calm. I began to take slow, deep breaths. Calm down... The magic continued to pour into my body and my heart continued to race. I could feel my eyes tingling as they began to glow from the influx of shadow magic.

Eventually, the sound of thunder rumbled in the sky. Cold raindrops fell on my extended arms. And not too long after the initial drops, the rain began to pour down heavily. My entire body was soaked. My hair stuck to my face. But I remained still. I had to finish absorbing all the nearby shadow magic.

After a few more minutes, I no longer sensed any shadow magic nearby. I sighed in relief as I lowered my arms. "At least now, Mr. Edgar and that knight should be able to travel to Animus safely."

Despite being soaking wet, I felt glad that the weather was pouring. The rain made me feel calm and relaxed. I left myself to stand in the rain, letting the fresh water cleanse my mind and body.

"Ah-choo!" I sneezed. "Ugh, I guess I should get out of the rain before I catch a cold." I quickly put on the red cloak Edgar had given me and began looking for shelter. I ran in one direction of the forest until I found a broken-down house. I quickly rushed in to escape the rain. The house was dark and filled with dust and cobwebs. The majority of the wood boards were rotten and broken. No one had been living in this house for a long period of time. I made my way to the bedroom and patted the dust off the bed. I sat down on the mattress and began looking out the window, watching the rain as it fell.

I remember when I was still a child; I always had to stay indoors when it rained because of my weak body. I constantly whined to my parents and the maids how boring it was. And no matter how much work they had to do, they would always spend time with me, even if it was just a moment. It always made me happy that I always had their attention and that they still cared for me.

But there were times when mother and father were away on missions and I became sick while they were gone. Aeris and Nocturne were always playing games with me in my room when they were free. Nocturne always came to my side after his training and knightly duties were completed, regardless of me being sick. I was never alone for long in the manor.

I bent my knees towards my chest and wrapped my arms around my legs. I chuckled lightly. "Zelgius was right. I was a spoiled child." I sighed at myself and rested my head on the top of my knees.

Nocturne always remained at my side yet I always took him for granted. If only I wasn't the Demon King... If only I didn't get consumed by my greed... If only I didn't hurt him...then maybe I could still be with him.

I shut my eyes as I hugged my legs tighter. I remained unmoving as I listened to the rain splash down on the glass windows.

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