The Visitor — Part 1
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“You have to come visit again! No matter what!”
“We’ll be waiting!”
“Mhm. For sure.”
Illuna, Shii, and Enne said their farewells to Iryll in turn. The girls had, like everyone else, gathered in front of the castle to see off the two that would soon be leaving.
“Of course! And maybe you can come play at my castle too! I’d love to show it to you all!” responded the princess. She had undergone quite the noticeable change since her arrival. Spending a whole three days in the great outdoors had left her skin tanned; it was a much darker shade than it’d been when she first warped in.
After watching the girls initiate a series of smile-laden handshakes, I turned my gaze away from them and began speaking to the resident adults.
“I’ll be taking them through the forest to make sure they get back safe and sound.”
“A wise choice. You will be spending quite some time apart, so do give her a proper farewell,” said Lefi. “And that is a statement that applies to you as much as it does him, Nell.” The dragon looked straight into the hero’s eyes. “I am aware that I am merely repeating myself, but I would like to remind you that you have our support and that we will offer you our aid should you ever need it, no matter how difficult the path you tread becomes.”
“That’s right, Nell! We’ll be right there with ya, every step o’ the way!” said Lyuu.
“Thank you, both of you.” After exchanging words with Lefi and Lyuu, Nell turned to the resident demon, who had been watching over the three with one of her usual kind smiles. “I’m sorry, Leila. I won’t be able to help with any of the housework anymore, so it’ll be up to you to keep the dungeon running.”
“There’s no need to worry. I have everything under control.” The sheep girl replied to her with a kind, reassuring smile.
Looks like they’re just about wrapped up.
“Alright girls, it’s time to go.” Once everyone was done saying their goodbyes, I mounted Rir and called out to the two that would be departing, as well as another. “You too, Enne.”
“Mmk,” replied my trusty weapon.
“Bye Nell! Bye Iryll!” said Illuna.
“Bye bye!” said Shii.
“Bye! I hope to see you all soon!” Nell waved to the girls as she joined Iryll, Enne, and I atop Rir.
Once she was secure the wolf began his advance.
“Thank you so much for letting me stay over, Mr. Demon Lord! I had lots of fun!” The princess spoke excitedly as she played with Rir’s fur.
“No problem, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself,” I said with a light chuckle. “It looks like you got along with the other girls just fine too.”
“Yup! They’re the closest friends I’ve ever had. Can I come again?”
“Of course. Feel free.”
I glanced at the map as I spoke to her just to make sure we were heading in the right direction. Looks like we’re almost there.
“Hey… uhm… Yuki? Would you mind if I asked you something?” said Nell.
“Yeah, sure, what’s up?”
“Are you sure we’re going the right way? Because I’m pretty sure the city is over there,” she said as she pointed away from our destination.
“I’m surprised you actually remember given how terrible your sense of direction is.”
“Nell has a bad sense of direction?” asked Iryll, wide-eyed.
“You betcha. I still remember the first time she tried to show us around Alfyro. Oh man, she was lost as a—”
“S-shut up, Yuki! You didn’t need to tell her that!” She interrupted my words in a hurry, but she was too late. The beans had already been spilled.
“You’ll see,” I vaguely responded to her doubts, but only after laughing at her expense as I dismounted. “We’re already here, so yeah, you’ll see.”
I used the dungeon’s functionalities in order to manipulate the foliage and reveal a hidden doorway, one whose plant-based design rendered it nearly impossible to spot amongst all the greenery around it.
“Is this door… like the ones in the castle?” asked Nell.
“Yup, and it leads straight to Alfyro,” I said, a matter-of-factly. “Er, well, kinda. Technically, it dumps you into the forest just outside the city, but same thing.”
“Alfyro, you know, the city with the old governor? You know, the guy that gave us a lift to the capital?”
For a while, Nell remained silent. She seemed to be struggling to find the words to express her thoughts on the matter.
“…How long has this been here?” she eventually asked.
“Oh you know, a while. I made it after our last trip to the city.” I said. “I figured that, if you were going to keep doing your thing, then I should probably have a door or two in Allysia.”
“Does the governor know?”
“Nope. He doesn’t even have the slightest clue.”
I had already extended my domain so far that it had not only reached, but also encompassed Alfyro. Creeping my domain in the city’s direction was something I’d been slowly working towards ever since learning of its existence; I had always suspected that the metropolis would make for a good source of DP. It wasn’t exactly home to anyone as strong as Nell or the old butler, but I was still getting about as much as I’d expected. The sheer quantity more than made up for the lack of quality. I’m starting to regret not doing this earlier. It’s already starting to make a good bit of progress towards paying itself off, even though I basically just grabbed it. That said… Even with all these additions and whatnot, I’m still not getting anywhere near as much as I was getting when Lefi was still churning out DP. Really goes to show just how ridiculously OP she is.
Allysia’s capital was another plot of land I had my eyes set on. It, like every other settlement anywhere even remotely near the Wicked Forest, was definitely on my shopping list—and it was pretty high up there too, given its status as Nell’s main place of residence—but acquiring everything nearby was a todo that was going to have to span a matter of decades. Taking over just one quarter of the forest was a task that had eaten up a whole year and a half’s worth of time. Heh. My dark influence will know no bounds, and it will continue to spread, unbeknownst to all who would seek to stop it. One day, all that the sun shines upon will be mine! Hahahahahah!
Unlike the doors that could be seen all around the castle, this one wasn’t able to warp to different locations. It was only connected to the identical door just outside Alfyro. As could be easily inferred, the setup was a precaution, one put in place to make the castle more defensible. That was the same reason I’d gone out of my way to set both doors up in the middle of their respective forests, even in spite of the fact that they couldn’t be used lest one of the dungeon’s residents was present. Better safe than sorry, right?
Door shenanigans aside, their arrival in Alfyro was already expected. It was the drop-off location that I’d mentioned to the king prior to our departure from the capital. After they made it back to town, it would be up to the governor to transport both girls back to the capital. I had no doubts that he would be able to deliver them safely.
“Sir Raylow is going to have one big headache when he hears about this…” At first, Nell spoke in a serious tone. She was genuinely expressing consideration for the old governor. But she soon switched to one that was more light-hearted, impish, and teasing. “He has no idea you already have your sinister grasp around his neck.”
“That’s just how demon lords work,” I said. “We wouldn’t be anywhere near this threatening if we didn’t at least try to be all sneaky-like.”
“Geez, Yuki. There you go again with all that demon lord stuff.” Nell sighed.
“Well, I am one,” I said with a cackle. “Anyway, this is going to have to be where we part ways. I would’ve liked to accompany you all the way back to the capital, but…”
“Don’t worry about it, Mr. Demon Lord! You don’t need to go through all that trouble just for us! You’ve already done more than enough!” said Iryll.
“We’ll be fine, Yuki. We’ve already spoken to Sir Raylow and arranged for him to have us taken back to the capital,” said Nell. “And I’m more than tough enough to deal with anything that comes my way outside the Wicked Forest.”
“Alright. If you insist, then I’ll take your word for it. But be careful, okay?”
“I know. I will,” she said. “Oh, and one last thing!” She closed the gap between us and pulled me in a tight but gentle embrace.
“That’s not fair, Nell! I want to hug him too!” The princess immediately imitated the church’s greatest asset and wrapped her arms around my waist.
For a moment, I faltered, surprised by the sudden development, but I soon recovered and wrapped an arm around Nell’s back while patting Iryll’s head with the other.
We stayed like that for a moment.
And then another.
“Okay, that should be enough!”
After several seconds had elapsed, Nell reluctantly let go and backed away. She looked up to meet my eyes, and warped her lips into a small smile. I swear, she’s the cutest thing ever.
“I’m going to go now. Bye Yuki. You too, Enne, Rir.”
“See you soon,” I replied.
“We definitely have to see each other again! No matter what! And that goes for you too, Enne!” said the princess.
“Mhm.” Enne nodded. “Bye Iryll. Bye Nell.”
After stepping through the door, the two girls waved, and they continued to do so until they eventually made their way out of sight. Losing track of them wasn’t enough to make me budge though. I continued to simply look through the door for a good while before silently closing and obfuscating it with the dungeon’s menu.
After closing my eyes and taking one last deep breath, I turned to the two who had remained. “…Let’s go home.”
“Are you sad that Nell’s gone?” asked Enne.
“A bit, yeah,” I said while ruffling her hair. “I’m feeling a bit lonely, probably going to have to have everyone cheer me up once we get back to the castle.”
She stood on her tiptoes and, in a reversal of roles, began patting me on the head as if to console me. It was a moment that made me want to laugh. But I couldn’t. And not because I was feeling down.
Rir began to growl. He lowered his head and raised his rear as he directed his gaze off at something in the distance. His expression was stern, aggressive even. It was the most anxious, panicked look I’d ever seen on him, despite having fought many powerful foes by his side. He had quite literally never been on this high alert.
“What’s wrong, boy?”
He didn’t need to answer the question. My map shot open right as I began catching his anxiety.
The screen was focused on a single red dot.
I clicked it, entirety out of habit, and began glancing through the details.
Class: *****t Lord
Br****r ** ****ledge
“What… the fuck… is that…?” The only words I could manage came out as a hoarse whisper.
My newfound foe was so much more powerful than me that I was effectively incapable of acquiring his information.
Unlike Lefi, he had not intentionally exposed his own stats to ward off any would-be observers. But I could see as clear as day that his level was in the nine-hundreds.
Just like her.
He was a threat of the highest possible order, a living calamity.
The moment that thought crossed my mind was the one that I realized I couldn’t allow myself to remain a deer in the headlights. So I began to act. With utmost haste.
“Orochi, Yata, Byakku, Wsprit! Get back to the castle immediately! Ignore everything you encounter on the way and focus on getting back ASAP!” I barked an order through the dungeon’s Farspeak system while pulling up the trap UI and activating everything at once.
This storm wasn’t one I could wait out. Combat was inevitable. Because, for whatever reason, he was headed straight to the castle. At his current speed, it would only be a matter of hours.
“Shit!” I screamed a curse in frustration. “Rir, take us back to the castle at full speed! Enne, stay in sword form!”
Both of my companions voiced their acknowledgement and began following my orders. Enne deactivated Personification, and Rir took off like a lightning bolt the moment I secured myself on his back.