Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
“What the heck Yuki!” shouted Nell. “Would it kill you to be just a bit more considerate!?”
“Yeah, yeah, enough of that. Come on, I said sorry already, didn’t I? Plus, I did warn you before I lifted off.”
“Warn me? Warn me!? All you did was tell me to be quiet if I didn’t want the guards to notice us! How the heck was I supposed to know what you were going to just suddenly take off!?”
Fine. I admit it, your honour, I’m guilty. Spooking the poor girl had been a part of an overarching fiendish plot all along.
“Right, so I’d love to keep talking about how innocent I am, but it looks like we’ve got a few guards headed our way.” Although I had admitted to my guilt internally, I had no intention of letting the hero catch on. “How about we put this whole being nicer to you thing on hold for a bit and come back to it later?”
The hero had leaned in while scolding me to express her anger. In fact, she had leaned so far in that her face was uncomfortably close despite the fact that I had started bending myself backwards.
I mentioned something she was likely to pay attention to while pointing at the area behind her in order to get her off me. Of course, while it was a convenient excuse, it wasn’t actually a lie by any means. I could hear the rustling of armour as it rapidly closed in on our location; it was obvious that the soldiers in charge of security had overheard us. My ears were only one of the two sources of information I had on hand. The other, my map, was much more reliable. It had filled itself in when I looked down upon the city from above, and now it was telling me that we had a number of hostiles incoming.
Speaking of my map, it was now capable of much more than it was when I first obtained it; I had long activated the function that allowed it to display any and all enemy signatures, even those outside the dungeon’s territory. Its sole limitation was that it only functioned if the area in question was one I had filled in already.
Only recently had I discovered how the map worked. It apparently functioned by sending out signals that would run into magical particles in the air to obtain data on the terrain and any potential threats. In other words, it worked much in the same manner as the echolocation dolphins use. The sonars one would find on modern Japanese fishing boats and warships also made for a good comparison.
The reason I needed to use DP to activate the ability was because doing so actually led to alterations within my body. Purchasing the feature had changed the way I interacted with magical particles. Wait a second, that totally makes me something along the lines of an artificially modified human, not that I’m human, but y’know, whatever. Either way, I’m basically a Sho*cker Combatman. Maybe I should start doing that whole “Yee” thing. 
“Tsk,” Nell clicked her tongue in annoyance. “Fine. This way, Yuki, follow me.”
God damn Nell. Stop with the tongue-clicking. Talk about unladylike.
Fortunately, my excuse had worked, and Nell had finally gotten off my back, so I placed a hand on my chest, heaved a sigh of relief, and set out after her.
The pitter-pattering sound our feet made as they moved across the stone-paved street almost seemed to disappear as they reached the buildings that lined it. They just vanished.
And it wasn’t because our steps blended in with the noise of the citizens enjoying their night lives. For that sound was nowhere to be heard. The streets were empty, devoid of noise. Our footsteps almost seemed to be sucked into a soundless void.
“Man, it sure is quiet.” I couldn’t help but voice an opinion of our surroundings as I made note of them. It wasn’t late enough into the night for the streets to be as empty as they were. There should have, by all means, been people wandering about and slowly making their way home from taverns and the like. Yet, it was deathly silent. The whole atmosphere the place gave off was dull and lacking in life. Man, this place is way bigger than… Alfyro…? Or whatever the place Lefi and I visited was called, but god damn is it empty. The lack of people is making it seem all desolate and shit.
“It used to be really lively around here, even at this time of day,” said Nell. “But everyone’s probably holed themselves in at home because of how dangerous it’s been to stay outside lately.”
“Yeah, sounds about right. I wouldn’t be surprised if the guards started cutting down everyone they saw out this late.”
I had only been in the city for a matter of moments, so I naturally hadn’t seen it happen and there was a chance that it never had or would happen, and that my mind was simply stuck in a rut because of all its biases. But I felt as if the guards had most likely already murdered citizens in cold blood on false, completely bullshit charges just because they saw them wandering the streets at night.
As a history major, I just knew that such an act was normal in the case that a city came under the jurisdiction of an armed force intent on overthrowing some sort of ruler.
“I heard about how bad everything was already, but seeing it for myself really makes it hit home,” said the hero. “Wait, what’s that you’re wearing, Yuki? And when the heck did you even put it on?”
“What, this?” I smirked as I pointed to the mask I had stuck to my face. “It’s nothing special. I just, y’know, figured it’d be a good idea not to show my face to the church’s agents. I’m kinda a demon lord, so I’m thinking the church is probably one of my natural enemies or something like that.”
The mask was awesome. It had slits for eyes, with a decoration under each. The left eye rested atop a star, and the right a teardrop. The mask’s mouth was twisted into a wide, happy grin. And though it seemed to resemble a clown more so than anything else, it gave off a sinister aura nonetheless. 
I had actually acquired the mask quite a while ago. I’d spent a good bit of time browsing the catalogue for disguises, and this just happened to be the item that caught my eye. It was so badass that I couldn’t help but grab it and stash it into my storage the moment I saw it. It was a bit hard to see things in front of me while I wore it, but it couldn’t be helped. I needed a disguise, after all. Okay fine, yes, I’ll admit that’s bullshit. I’m just wearing it because of how fucking cool it is. It’s not like I’m wrong though. They won’t remember your face if all they see is your badass mask. God damn, that was so smart I should use one of my fingers to give myself a tap on the head.
“I’m not really sure if there’s any real point in wearing a mask…” said the hero, hesitantly. “And are you really sure everything will be okay? I’ll get into a lot of trouble if they find out I brought a demon lord back with me…”
“No problem. It’s all good.”
“…And I really can’t help you force your way inside our HQ, no matter what you say. That’s just not something I can compromise on, so you might just have to settle for staying outside, okay?”
“Yeah, I get it. No worries. Chill,” I said. I was planning to do something else while you sat around and met with people anyway. Hell, I’d probably end up following my own agenda even if I was let in.
There was no need for me to keep pace with the church and its forces. All I wanted was to overthrow the prince and have the church take credit. That was it. All other details were more or less inconsequential. The only reason I had accompanied Nell as far as I had was in order to gather intel—the only thing I needed from the church. Eh. Whatever. Either way, I’m probably just going to end up sitting around until I see out what the church is up to and then figure out where to go with the rest of my plan from there.
“You’re not making me feel like this is any less of a bad idea…” The hero spoke rather anxiously as she stopped in front of a run-down building situated in an alleyway. “But either way, we’re here.”
At a glance, it looked like some sort of store, one that was so worn out it was barely functional. Without hesitation or worry that she’d arrived at the wrong place, Nell gave the door a series of patterned knocks. A muffled male voice responded to her shortly after.
“Terminus,” he said.
“Assemble,” she replied.
A small panel above the doorknock opened by sliding to the side. There was hand extending from it. It was open with its palm facing upwards.
The hero pulled out the seal she’d used back when Lefi and I needed to enter the human city we visited a short while ago and handed it over. The man pulled it inside and went silent as if examining it.
The silence persisted for a few, uncomfortable moments.
“We have been awaiting your return, my lady.” His tone completely changed by the next time he raised his voice. “We are overjoyed to see that you are still in good health. I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience, but I must ask you to stand by momentarily while I seek a member of our organization that recognizes you before I may allow you inside. Unfortunately, the rules are the rules, and they must be abided.”
I sensed the man leave the door without waiting for a response.
“Holy shit, that was awesome,” I muttered, impressed. “You guys totally just made the church look like some sort of sinister secret society.”
“…I’m pretty sure that’s the type of impression you’re supposed to keep to yourself,” said Nell, peeved.
Yeah, I know. My b, my b.
“Nell! You’re back!”
The rickety, half-rotted door was slammed open with such force that I thought it was about to fly off its hinges. A single woman dashed out from inside and leapt onto the hero with an overly energetic hug.
“It’s great to see you again too, Carlotta.” Nell returned her hug and affectionately wrapped her arms around the woman’s waist.
The glomper in question was quite the hottie. She had a great figure and a beautiful face that seemed to belay an air of intelligence. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why, but she also gave off the impression that she was the type to bear an indomitable will.
Her armour looked pretty much exactly like Nell’s. It was of a light design, and when combined with the sword at her waist, made her look like some sort of paladin or holy knight; she was definitely associated with the church. I’m guessing she’s probably one of the ones Nell was talking about when she mentioned that there was a group she was supposed to meet up with and whatnot.
“They told me that you went MIA! I was so worried!” exclaimed Glomper McGlompface as she showered the hero with all the affection of an elder sister. “The capital’s security has gotten a lot stricter. We haven’t been able to communicate with any of our agents on the outside lately. Good job making it in!”
“I’m really sorry for all the worry I’ve caused you,” said Nell.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s not your fault! All that matters to me is that you’re safe!” The other knight immediately came to the hero’s defence. “It’s all the higher-ups’ fault for giving you those ridiculous orders.”
Ridiculous orders…? Oh, she must be talking about how Nell was sent over to my place.
…Wait a second. “Ridiculous orders?” Bullshit! All she did when she came over was hang around in the hot spring, kick back, and relax before heading straight home!
“By the way,” said Nell. “There’s someone I want to introduce you to, Carlotta.”
Only after Nell’s mention did the other knight finally notice me. She let go of Nell and directed a sharp gaze in my direction. She was clearly on guard. Seeing her like that immediately reminded me of a classic Japanese trope. I honestly can’t help but imagine her saying the good old “Kh… Kill me” line after suffering a defeat at the hands of someone with indecent intentions. God damn, I’m a fucking degenerate. 
“He’s one of my new… party members,” said Nell. “I happened to meet him a while back, and we’ve been sticking together basically ever since. I brought him along because I thought he might be able to lend us a hand. He’s really strong, and pretty trustworthy too.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said as I lightly waved in the holy knight’s direction. “The name’s Wye. You can think of me as something along the lines of an attendant.”
“Are you really sure we can trust him…?” asked the knight. “That mask he’s wearing is making him look really suspicious…”
“I-I’m sure,” said Nell. “I know the mask is kinda weird, but he’s a real good person…”
What was that? If you got something to say about this badass mask, then say it to my face goddamit!
 Kamen Rider reference. Not sure this localizes any better, but basically there’s an army of altered human specimens who only ever say “Yee.”
 Hunter X Hunter Hisoka reference. Similar things are seen in other media as well. (Heavyarms’ mask from Gundam, etc)
 Japanese porn trope that’s leaked into mainstream media.
Editor’s note (Joker): Hey, guys! Joker here. Finally back with Yuki and the hero, and it seems they’ve met up with where the church guys are, so we’ll see what the plan is next time. Of course, according to our resident Demon Lord, it doesn’t seem to matter to him one way or the other. The prince better see what’s good for him when Yuki comes a’callin’ and surrender right away, but somehow I doubt that’s going to happen. All right, getting to my letter sack, I can see that we have 5 letter, so big thanks to HONEYBEE, JokerNoticedMe (Yes indeed I did), ~Fran Fan, kx, and Zehd Cashew. Also, just letting everyone know, if I reply to you and you reply back asking another question, I can’t reply to that one because WordPress or whatever deals with the comment section doesn’t allow 4 or more replies for some dumb reason. So for example, kx asked what my ideal party would be for fighting a demon lord/king, and when I asked for elaboration, he replied with that answer. But I can’t reply to that, so I’ll answer it here. I’d probably have two tanks, three healers, couple of melee DPS, couple of magic DPS, ranged physical DPS, and EVERY SOLDIER FROM EVERY KINGDOM IN THAT WORLD. Seriously, we’re going up against the big bad. The fuck you thinking about, sending a small party. Send ALL OF THE PEOPLE. So that’ll wrap this up. It’s getting a bit rambly, and I’ve got a dentist appointment in the morning. Yay…. See y’all in the next chapter!