The Not-So-Final Battle
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
A particularly odd realization dawned upon me as I sat upon the throne: my demon lord title was effectively just for show. Expanding my domain aside, recent history featured a grand total of zero demon lord-like actions. One particular point of dissatisfaction was the lack of intruder-trap interactions. The many complex trap sequences and killboxes that I’d spent an excessive amount of time fine tuning had quite literally never been used.
It wasn’t my fault either. There was nothing I could do to resolve the fundamental, solvable problem that the pain point stemmed from—the complete and utter lack of notable intruders. Not a single individual managed to make their way into the castle.
That wasn’t to say that I hadn’t killed anything recently. Culling the Wicked Forest’s monsters had remained a regular role of mine. But though they were technically hostile, I didn’t quite view them as intruders. To me, they were just wild animals, which meant that eliminating them was more akin to hunting than it was repelling hostile forces.
The complaint wasn’t something that came from my inner thrill seeker. I didn’t want to put myself in danger, nor expose any of the dungeon’s residents to it, especially not the kids. And as a “responsible adult,” I very much preferred a life of peace than one filled with endless conflict. I was living a happy, fulfilling life and saw no reason to seek any particular change. But even so, I couldn’t deny that, deep down, there was a part of me that craved the excitement and thrill of an enemy raid.
My false throne room, the one that I had been planning to use to greet any potential invaders, had only ever seen use as a hallway. Likewise, no one had ever entered most of the interior spaces I’d spent so much time fleshing out. Unless you count the kids, since I’m pretty sure they’ve explored them for fun…
At this rate, shit’s going to go south.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, it’s not, but shush. I just wanna do demon lord things.
Fortunately, my grumbling wasn’t for naught. It eventually led me to a realization as bright as a lightbulb. I didn’t need a hero to intrude upon my domain. We had a hero at home. And it just so happened that she had just gotten back from work.
I gazed at the final chamber’s doors from my seat atop the throne as the sole intruder forced them open. I had one leg crossed over the other and my face propped up by a fist, which was in turn placed atop one of the throne’s armrests.
“So the time has finally come…” A wide grin spread across my face as I faced the lass that had come to spell my doom. “I have been waiting, bearer of the holy blade.”
“It’s over, Yu-, er, demon lord! Today is the day I put an end to your vile… uhm… darn, I can’t remember the rest. What was the line supposed to be again?”
“Today is the day I put an end to your vile and treacherous plot to throw the world into an era of chaos and despair.”
“Right. Uhm… I guess I’ll start over.” She cleared her throat, then made her second attempt. “It’s over, demon lord! Today is the day I put an end to your vile and treacherous plot to throw the world into an era of chaos and despair!”
As she declared her intentions, she unsheathed the beautifully ornamented divine blade hanging off her waist. It wasn’t Durandal, her actual holy sword, but rather one that I had made on a whim. Its name was Glowplastickus, The Sacred Sword. And as its title implied, it was a not-so-deadly weapon made from plastic, capable of glowing if fed magical energy.
“Very well, hero, I accept your challenge. But it will not be me who meets my maker! Once I am finished, all that will remain of you is rust!”
I pulled out my own weapon while laughing satanically. It wasn’t Enne, my actual sword, but rather one that I had made on a whim. Its name was Floatfoamius, The Hellblade. And as its name implied, it was a not-so-deadly weapon made of foam, capable of floating if fed magical energy.
Unlike Glowplastickus, it wasn’t made entirely of a single material. The grip was made out of one of the floating rocks that I’d acquired while out with Lefi. Another aspect that differentiated it from the sacred sword was its lack of utility. While Glowplastickus could at least serve as a pretty decent batteryless flashlight, Floatfoamius was completely useless and had literally no utility whatsoever outside of functioning as a toy. To make matters worse, none of the kids were all that keen on playing around with tools of destruction, even if they weren’t actually capable of causing any harm, which meant that I was the poor hellblade’s only potential wielder.
Being a weapon herself, Enne was more interested in Glowplastickus and its kin than any of the others, but that didn’t mean that she was willing to play with them. She would only pay my various creations enough notice to compare them to herself and determine if they posed a threat to her position as my main weapon. In other words, her attention came in the form of hostility. RIP shitty toy weapons.
Our weapons drawn, the two of us prepared to engage in our final showdown and decide the fate of the world. Or at least that was what we would have done, had a heavy, exasperated sigh not come from the sidelines.
“I understand not the foolish act the two of you are engaging in.”
Lefi? When’d she get here?
“Oh, hi Lefi,” Nell lowered her weapon and smiled at the observer. “Yuki said that he wanted to do something ‘demon lord-like,’ so I’m helping him make it happen.”
“Were you not exhausted? I see no reason for you not to ignore this imbecile’s silly demands and lay down if you need rest.”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind,” giggled the brunette. “Doing silly things with him does wonders for my motivation. In fact, I think this might even be more relaxing than getting a few extra hours of sleep.”
“T-then I suppose I shall say no more…” Lefi blinked a few times in confusion, as if unable to understand my other wife’s perspective. “If you do not mind it, then it is not my place to complain.”
“Whaddya say, you wanna join us in deciding the fate of the world?” I asked. “The evil sidekick role is vacant right now, so feel free to fill it. The only condition is that you have to cackle like a witch after every sentence.”
“…I will refrain. I would prefer not to laugh in such a bizarre manner, nor do I see any reason for such a quirk to be necessary in the first place.”
Bruh… What do you mean, you don’t think it’s necessary!? Yeah, sure, it’s kinda quirky, but that’s just how a demon lord’s minions are supposed to be! You can’t just take away their identities like that! Sheesh…
“To speak to that point, I fail to see why any of this is necessary. Did you not wish to carry out an action befitting of your title as a demon lord? Are you certain that carrying out this game of pretend truly enough to sate that desire?”
“Two hundred percent.”
Lefi opened her mouth to argue, but changed her mind and closed it before she made a sound. You know, I have the feeling she didn’t actually come here just to complain and wanted to attend to some sort of business or other, but oh well.
“So what now, Yuki?”
“We’ll clash once, then I’ll die in a huge fiery explosion. You should probably say something like ‘you were a powerful foe, demon lord, but evil will never prevail.’ Make sure you make it all solemn and whatnot. Once that’s done, I guess you’ll just turn around and exit the way you came or something.”
“H-huh? A-a fiery explosion? Well uhm… if you say so…”
And so, Nell and I spent the day messing around. While Lefi may not have agreed, I thought that it was a day well spent.
The next day came quickly. All the fun we had made time fly by in the blink of an eye. Though it was still early in the morning, all the adults were up, about, and gathered just outside the portal that led to Alfyro.
“Well, Yuki, it’s time for me to go.”
“Be careful out there. Let me know right away if you find yourself in trouble, alright? I’ll come flying right over,” I said. “Or you can just warp back. Up to you, but no more last stands, alright? I really don’t want a repeat of the demon realm incident.”
“I know,” she giggled. “I have a reason to keep living no matter what now, so I’ll make sure I survive, even if bad turns to worse.”
“Good. Oh, and I know you’re going on a long ass expedition or whatever, but make sure you stay well fed. Taking care of yourself is important.”
“Geez, you’re such a worrywart. I’ll be fine.”
After replying with a smile, she exchanged a few words with Lefi, Leila, and Lyuu, gave me a big hug, and warped away.
I’d wanted her to stay a bit longer, but I couldn’t keep her chained. She was fulfilling her duty—something that she had resolved herself to carry out. I had no right to object or disrespect her decisions. I would either have to wait until she fulfilled or gave up on serving as Allysia’s hero. But until then, I would do my utmost to prop her up from the shadows.
“You must support her, Yuki. You are the pillar that carries her resolve,” said Lefi, after watching her step into the door that doubled as a portal. “We are close friends, but I cannot become the reason for which she clings to life.”
“Yeah. I know…” I said, quietly. “I’m the same way. I’m only able to keep pushing myself forward because I have people to keep me on track.”
“And while we’re holdin’ you up, you’re holdin’ us up all the same,” said Lyuu. “It’s like we’re all a bunch of pillars slantin’ at differ’nt angles and supportin’ each other. It’s what lets us hold a roof above our heads ‘n makes us a family!”
“…Lyuu, the concept you have proposed is one that appears wonderful at a glance, but I must remark that pillars leaning upon one another are pillars on the verge of collapse,” said Lefi.
“Oh, come on, Lefi. Lyuu was saying something deep for once. Couldn’t you have just let her have her moment?”
“Don’t worry, My Lord. It simply means that I will have to stand as straight as I can to ensure that nothing collapses,” said Leila.
As we continued poking fun at the awfully embarrassed wolf girl, we returned to the true throne room and got on with our morning routines.
Though I hadn’t made particular note of it at the time, the campaign Nell had set off on was one that ended up ultimately forcing my hand.