A Hero’s Tale
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
“So this is where you were, Gojim. You sure are looking all banged up.”
Phynar stopped in place as he came upon the fiend’s corpse. He was underground, in the Rogardian laboratory, all by his lonesome. The redhead was covered in injuries. No part of his body was left untouched by blades or flame. It didn’t take a warrior to recognize that he had fought with all his might. To the last.
“Thank you for sharing your sacred water recipe. It’s what allowed us to win this war. When I first saw this letter, I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to think of it,” muttered the king, as he drew an envelope from his chest pocket. “But it seems like your hunch was right. They really did have one big scheme in store, behind all the curtains.”
The letter contained several items, the recipe, an outline of the fiend’s future plans, and a final request. To bring about a brighter tomorrow.
It was something he received shortly before the attack on the elven village.
“You never were a man of many words. Not now, nor when you were the captain of my guard.”
The king breathed a sigh, a fed-up, exasperated sigh.
“You know, Gojim? I was really confused when you first left the royal guard and started your own faction. I thought that you left because you didn’t want to join me in reconciling with the humans, after they burned your hometown during the war. But… I was wrong, wasn’t I, old friend?”
The memory was one from over ten years ago.
Phynar had given him permission to sortie after discovering that his home was under attack.
But they were too late. The enemy had already retreated by the time the squad arrived. Gojim had asked to be alone, and had remained amongst the flames as his village was slowly reduced to ashes. And he never returned.
He had simply vanished, without a trace. His next public appearance was four years ago, and by then, he had already become the head of a brand new faction, opposed to the demon king’s rule.
And when they met in person, when Yuki visited the demon realm one year ago, Phynar had thought that Gojim really did mean to oppose him. He had thought he had become an enemy, a hostile entity out to destroy the demon realm.
“But you knew all along, that peace would have been impossible the way things were. Without a common threat, one to unite everyone under the same banner, there was no way for us to develop a deeper connection with any of the other races. That was why you chose to become that threat. You joined forces with all of those in the demon realm that had lost their way, built up your power and influence, and joined Draggodt in becoming a threat to the world itself.”
Phynar didn’t know how long Gojim had been working with Draggodt, but he was sure it was the emperor’s influence that led the fiends to use the undead.
Because, awkward as he was, Gojim had been an honest man with strong values. And as such, he had likely thought that it would be easier for him to present as a villain if he was to emulate the clear wrongdoer he was working with.
His value set was likely one of the reasons that the fiends and Rogardians had never gotten along, with the other being that they were both just trying to use each other. There had never been any trust between them.
“And as your faction grew and grew, you got to the point where it was impossible for us to ignore you. You made it so that it was only natural for us to seek other nations’ aid. That attack you launched on the elven village, that was an outstanding move. It was what truly bound us, the reason we chose to act the way we did.”
Gojim was the reason that they had forged such a strong alliance.
Much more time would have been required for their relations to develop had he not attacked in the midst of the summit.
“And you clearly did something about the Hadean Helldrake as well. Though truly monstrous, it seemed… incomplete, like its revival had gone wrong. And there wouldn’t have been any reason for the empire to bother with it if that were to be the case.”
According to Eldegaria, who had also been on board the airship at the time of the undead dragon’s defeat, it had yet to be fully resurrected. It was still in the midst of absorbing all of the negative mana it required. It was almost like it had been forcibly awakened in the midst of the process.
Apparently the sword in its forehead was what was enabling the absorption. Had the creature been in top form, the blade would not have been required, and it would have been several times more powerful.
“No one will know what you truly intended, seeing as how you have already passed, but I’m fairly certain I’ve grasped your thoughts correctly. And if I have, then this victory belongs to you, Gojim. All of us were dancing in the palm of your hand, the emperor included. It was an excellent scheme, old friend. If only you’d lived. You would’ve been able to put those skills to use, under me. Again.”
The king’s tone was lighthearted. But his words were not. They were tinged with sadness, profound, deep sorrow.
“The records will speak of you as a criminal, a rebel, and a sinner. People will hesitate to speak your name, ever again. But I won’t forget.” Phynar took a breath. “And I’ll make sure that you’re buried next to your wife. That, I will swear to you.”
The king shut his mouth and offered a moment of silence. He stared at the deceased fiend, engraving his memory into his mind.
“…It’s time for me to go. I’ve still got mountains of work to do. Because if you are a sinner, then so am I, for knowing and keeping quiet and dancing along, and working, cleaning up this mess and building a better tomorrow, is all I can do as recompense. The life you laid down, the blood you shed, none of it will go to waste.”
Phynar swore. He swore to carry on the hopes and dreams of the fool that dared, the fool that bet his life to change the world.
“Goodbye, my friend. I will never forget you. Not your name, nor your deeds.”
His final farewell said, the king departed from the laboratory.
Making his way back above ground, he found Yuki in one of the halls, leaning against the wall with something along the lines of an insect in the shape of a human ear sitting in the palm of his hand. It wasn’t visible for long. He soon put it away with what looked to be a form of storage magic.
“Done with your business?”
“Yes, I am.” Phynar took a deep breath. “…Are you going to kill me, Yuki?”
“…I’m still going to need you to take care of Rogarde now that the war’s done. I know it’s technically mine or whatever, but fuck politics,” he said. “Keep everything running nicely, and I’ll pretend I didn’t hear anything.”
“Then I guess I’ll have to get to work,” chuckled the blonde. “I don’t plan on dying anytime soon.”
The demon lord didn’t respond and instead just heaved a sigh.
And so, the war ended with the Race Agnostic Alliance as the winners.
Future treatment of the Rogardians and the fiends had yet to be discussed, but at the very least, both parties were sure to cede at least a portion of their territories. They would also have to pay significant reparations, albeit over a longer period of time in order to prevent any extreme backlash. Not all of it would be paid for in cash either, some would come in the form of the empire’s knowledge.
They actually offered me a fair chunk of the cash as well, but I refused. The dungeon I’d absorbed was already more than enough in terms of payment; my domain was much larger than it was before.
Hell, I’m pretty sure I profited way more than anyone else. I happened to inherit all of the DP that the emperor was unable to use, which was to say that I was technically paid in a currency I valued much more than gold.
Apparently all of the countries that made up the alliance were going to have a say in government affairs as well. They mentioned something along the lines of experimenting to see if different races could exist in the same place, but I wasn’t all that clear on the details.
Things are looking chaotic for the next few years. Here’s to hoping it actually all works out. I’m not planning on actually dipping my toes in any of the complicated shit, but I’ll at least help out a bit from time to time if I can. The empire is my territory now, after all.
I wonder what everyone’s going to say when I casually announce that I happened to get a whole country? Oh man… I can’t wait to go home.
That was how the curtain closed on the conflict that would go down in history as the Helldraconian War.