The Operation Begins
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
A meeting between a certain pair of individuals began as Yuki ran amok in town. One sat atop the throne reserved only for the lord of the demon realm while the other genuflected before him in an expression of subservience.
“Well, Haloria?” The king addressed his servant. “What did you make of him?”
“Yuki is an odd man, my king,” responded the agent. “Travelling with him has taught me that he is nothing if not inconsistent and bizarre.”
“And what, precisely, is that supposed to mean?” The unexpected answer caused the king to cock an eyebrow in interest.
“Like many other demon lords with dungeons at their disposal, he is confident in his martial prowess. However, to my knowledge, it doesn’t appear as if he is drunk on power. Unlike others of his kind, he remains fully rational. This is something that can easily be seen in the way he treats those that he holds dear. He appears to be rather intelligent as well, as evidenced by how easily he saw through your words and read your intentions. Despite seeming smart, however, he completely skimped on negotiations. He thoughtlessly went along with your suggestions without even bothering to question them,” said Haloria. “In summary, My King, both the retention of his rationality and the disparities in the level of his intelligence lead me to believe that he is a man of many contradictions.”
“Putting it like that certainly does make it seem that way,” chuckled Phynar. His subordinate’s observations had him quite amused.
“I believe that the issue may stem from his outlook on life. It is so different from my own that I cannot see him as anything but strange.”
“I can see that. I guess the best way to summarize your observations would be to say that his values differ from ours. The only way we can really understand him would be to change the way we think.” Phynar put a hand on his chin as he spoke. “He doesn’t act like any of the other demon lords I’ve met. Not even those that were of the demon race were nearly as eccentric. He’s so different from everything else in this world that I’m tempted to think he might have come from another.”
Little did Phynar know, his conjecture had hit the nail on the head.
“Surely you jest, My King.”
“I suppose I do,” laughed the blonde.
A shadow approached the two individuals situated in the throne room as they continued to converse.
“My King, I have returned. The stage is set, and my mission is complete.” The hooded man spoke in a respectful tone no different from Haloria’s. “I have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that our newfound collaborator is now free to take action at any point in time.”
“So it’s done? Did it all go as smoothly as expected?”
“Of course, My King. Everything is as per your orders. Our collaborators can expect to take action in relative safety.”
“Great. I wouldn’t want him to turn on us because we can’t keep our promises,” smiled Phynar. “In fact, I’d like him to continue working with us even after all this. I’m going to be counting on you to make sure everything goes as planned.”
“I understand. I will ensure that his experience remains positive,” said the hooded figure. “I do have one other thing to report.”
“And what would that be?”
“The demon lord has made contact with humanity’s hero. The two appeared to have met in a bar. Do you have any further instructions?”
“Humanity’s hero? Oh, you must be talking about the girl you mentioned in the report you made the other day. I’d say that you probably don’t need to worry about it. He did know he was being watched, right?”
“I believe so.” The king’s subordinate nodded. “We happened to make eye contact. He stared right at me even though I was supposed to have been hidden.”
“Then it should be a-okay. That was probably just his way of telling you that he thinks it’s okay for us to know that they’ve made contact,” said the king, cheerfully. “Besides, her enemies are our enemies. Sharing enemies doesn’t immediately make us allies, but it does mean that our foes will be worse off. And that, that is something I appreciate. I believe that it’s safe to leave things as they are. Let Yuki deal with her. I’m sure that whatever he has in mind will be to our benefit.”
“Understood, My King.”
The subordinate bowed, which led Phynar to nod in satisfaction.
“Thank you for the report,” said the king. “If all the preparations are complete, then I suppose I’ll send for him tomorrow and tell him what it is I’m going to have him do.”
“Well, Yuki? What do you think of participating in a martial arts tournament?”
The demon king called me in for another audience the day after Leila sat me down and nagged my ear off. He was situated on the throne with the same big smile on his face as always.
“A martial arts tournament?” I asked, skeptically.
“Mhm! That’s right! It’s a huge event. All of the demon realm’s proudest warriors gather to show off their strength and compete to be named the strongest. It only lasts a few days, but it’s still considered one of the most important events that the capital is home to. It livens up the city the same way any other festival would.”
“So it’s basically a festival? That sounds fun.”
I paused for a moment to contemplate the possibilities. There’ll probably be food stalls all over the place, which means Enne’ll be in for a treat. Literally. But uh… so people come from all over just to “show off their strength?” Yeah, that sounds like a… mild way to put it. Iunno about you but that sounds downplayed as fuck. I’m pretty sure the whole thing is just going to end up as a bunch of violent fights where people try to almost kill each other.
“The fiend faction is participating. They’re dispatching some of their finest warriors in order to demonstrate their strength and gain public support. That’s where you come in. I want you to not only crush them, but also stand out as much as you can. I want you to win first place and take home the title of the demon realm’s most powerful combatant.”
“Look… I know that sounds pretty simple on paper and whatnot, and I don’t really want to throw a wrench in your plans or anything. But, just sayin’, I’m not exactly the greatest fighter. I mean, I’m pretty decent and I’m not about to just fall over. I’m totally fine with chewing bubblegum and kicking ass and all that, but I can’t say for sure that I’ll be able to win. Especially if I don’t really know what I’m going to be up against.”
While I wasn’t the worst fighter, I only really knew how to brawl. I was more or less incapable of approaching any sort of combat scenario with anything but brute force. I could use a sword and I could cast magic, but I relied much more on my stats than I did any sort of technique. I was fairly confident that I would be able to easily destroy anyone else that relied purely on power, but I had no confidence in taking down martial masters that spent their lives perfecting the finest details of their craft. Ehhh, you know what? If I end up stuck against someone like that, then I’ll just fly around and bombard them with magic from up high. Obviously won’t work if they’ve got wings too, which is uh… bad. I don’t really have a plan B right now, but fuck it. I’m sure I’ll figure something out if push comes to shove.
“I’m sure it will be just fine,” said the king. “I made use of my authority and had all the other participants examined at the time of your registration. You should be the strongest of the bunch.”
Wow. Talk about abuse of authority. Dude’s literally doing whatever he wants.
“There happen to be a few individuals you might want to pay a bit more attention to, but we’ll tell you everything you need to know about them a bit later. We have their weapons and their styles documented already, so you don’t have to worry.”
“Thanks. So I’m guessing you guys will be working behind the scenes while I do all this shit and get their attention up front?”
“You sure are quick on the uptake,” laughed the demon king. “Oh yes, that’s right. I believe you said you were planning on wearing a mask?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Then I suggest you take this.” The king handed me a ring.
“What’s this thing supposed to be?”
“Why, it’s an accessory, of course,” he said. “It is enchanted with the ability to allow you to change your hair and eye colours at will. You’re free to keep it even after you finish helping me, if you’d like.”
The first thing I did was analyze the item and check its stats.
Ring of Transfiguration
Description: Pouring magical energy into this ring allows its bearer to freely change the colour of their eyes and hair.
Long story short, it was a handy little high-performance tool that would allow me to better my disguise. Hair and eye colour weren’t exactly things that one could readily change under normal circumstances. Most would probably assume that whatever hair and eye colour they saw me with was natural.
I put the magically enchanted item on one of the fingers on my left hand. Of course, I made sure to avoid my ring finger, which was already decorated by the gift I had gotten from Lefi. Alright, let’s give this thing a whirl. I should probably make it a totally different colour from usual to add to the effect. Something really bright and eye-catching would probably work best.
With a few criteria in mind, I began thinking of different colours before finally arriving at a conclusion. I focused on the one I ended up choosing and began channelling my magical energies through the ring. A faint bit of mana coursed through my eyes and hair. And as it received, my transformation found itself complete.
“Huh… neat” I looked myself over in the mirror brought to me by one of the maids in the demon king’s employ. My black hair and my red and black odd-eyes were both gone. Everything had instead been dyed silver. Yeah, this’ll work. This plus my fake stats’ll make it pretty damn hard for people to figure out who I really am.
The serious contemplation I was in the midst of was interrupted by a giggle. I turned away from the mirror and spun around in order to look at Leila, its source. The sheep-horned demon had an even bigger smile on her face than usual.
“I’m sorry, My Lord. I couldn’t help myself,” she said whilst stifling another snicker. “Your hair matches Lefi’s quite well, I must say.”
Only after Leila’s remark did I come to realize the implications of my decision. All I had wanted was a bright colour. I could have picked anything else. Blonde, red, and orange were all within the realm of possibility. And yet, I had picked silver. And it wasn’t just that. I had subconsciously picked the exact shade of silver that Lefi’s hair shone in.
“Uhhh… So, just saying, this wasn’t intentional. I just wanted something that stood out. And this is just how it ended up. I wasn’t actually trying to make myself look like Lefi or anything, alright?”
“Of course, My Lord. I totally understand.”
Although Leila claimed that she caught my drift, the way she was looking at me made it obvious that she really hadn’t. Please cease and desist. You’re making me feel all awkward.
“Anyways.” I faked a cough, drained the ring its mana, and changed my hair back to its default colour before turning to face the demon king. “As I was saying, I hear you loud and clear. I’ll do what I can to nab first place. So when exactly is this tournament thing happening anyway?”
“It’s set to start in five days. I’m sure you have some last-minute training to do, so I’ve prepared the parade grounds for you. Please feel free to use them.”
Training? Yeah uh, I’ve kinda never actually practiced martial arts or anything. Like, tell me to train all you want, but I’m not actually going to get anything done since I kinda don’t know what I’m even supposed to be doing. Oh wait, I got an idea. I’ll come up with some flashy looking spell that goes with the whole festival mood the city’ll have going for it. Yeah, that actually sounds pretty nice. I’mma do it. Oh, oh, another idea. I could totally make it into a combination spell, one that’s actually a bunch of smaller spells weaved together into a combo. You know, it’ll be like setting things up in a P*kemon Contest for extra points. Yeah, you know what? I’m really starting to look forward to this whole martial arts tournament thing. And just to be clear, it’s not because I’ll be working to further King Faggot’s agenda. It’s time to show the masses what a demon lord can really do.