After Vassago returned to hell, he threw away the body of the black sorcerer he was using when he ascended to the human realm. The old gentleman that Lara was looking at now was the original form of the demon Vassago.
‘I heard he’s lived for a thousand years.’
With a glossy black suit, red fedora, and a sleek cane, he held out one hand toward Lara. And with the other hand, he pointed to his castle, which rose sharply in the distance.
“I have my men ready to welcome you, Master. Paimon will also be here soon after cleaning his castle.”
“Why should you do that?”
She had a lot of questions. Even if she could not help falling into hell, now that Abraxas had disappeared and the gates of hell were closed, there was no reason for Vassago and Paimon to keep calling her Master and retain their loyalty to her.
Yet he was still extremely loyal to her. Lara looked at him and pressed him for answers. Then, Vassago glanced at Demian and bowed deeply to Lara.
“Master, you’re the newly born demon lord in the vast hell. You drove God away and granted my wish. You’ve also restored order in hell. I have more than enough reason to serve you as my king.”
“I don’t want to be something like a demon lord anymore.”
Vassago said with a grin. He led Lara and Demian and said that he would tell the rest of the story at his castle. Surprisingly, it was Demian who pushed Lara’s back forward.
“Demian, this is not the time to be the demon lord. We need to find a way and get home quickly. Mother must be looking for us anxiously…”
“I know. But we need the help of those demons to find a way home.”
Demian was right. Lara sighed and held his hand.
Vassago’s castle was very far away and was high up in the sky. It would take a long time to get there by foot. But Vassago was not the kind of demon to let the demon lord walk. He held out his cane and muttered an incomprehensible spell. The magical energy in his solemn voice spread out, weighing down on the damp air.
Two giant pterosaurs flew in from afar. Their canines protruding from their long snout was overwhelming. Their wings were covered in tough leather and their heads were full of horns. The pterosaurs cried violently in the air and sat down calmly in the place pointed to by Vassago. Then, they bowed their heads.
“Get on, Master.”
Vassago gave the bigger and more terrifying pterosaur to Lara. He looked proud doing so.
“I have never gotten on a pterosaur before.”
“Neither have I.”
Demian said with a smile. Lara took his hand and climbed on the back of the pterosaur.
The pterosaur waited without budging even after Lara and Demian sat on its back. It only raised its head and spread its wings when Vassago signaled with his hand. The wind blew and their bodies floated. Lara barely swallowed the scream that was about to come out and grabbed Demian’s forearm. They moved further from the ground in an instant. It had only waved its wings three or four times, but they were already in the sky.
Vassago’s castle was getting near. At that moment, Lara had an ominous hunch. She had a feeling that she would have to live there as the king of those demons for a while.
“Put your head down. The king is here!”
Who told you to ask them to put their heads down?
“You little bugger! Whoever dares to make eye contact with the king, their eyeballs will be cut out and served on the table tonight!”
Who told you to call them bugger?
Who told you to eat their eyeballs?
Every time Vassago said a word, Lara frowned as if she was going to throw up. Hundreds of demons were out to meet her. From the demon soldiers and the hell’s demonic beasts to the servants and maids working in Vassago’s castle—all of them fell before her and bowed their heads to her.
Lara had to walk through a long hallway past a pillar carved with disgusting figures of demons. Throughout the walk, the eyes of the demons glancing at her were stuck to her face. Her cheeks were burning. No matter how brazen one was, one could not laugh in this situation. Lara’s face grew stiffer and stiffer. And when she happened to meet a young demon, she straight away frowned. Then, the young demon gasped and smacked his forehead on the floor.
When Lara reached out to the little demon and tried to raise him up, Vassago appeared like the wind and grabbed her hand. He quickly led her forward and whispered in her ear.
“You shouldn’t be friendly. No matter how young and weak they look, you can’t forget that these guys are demons. Rebuke them not to make eye contact because they are like vermin. Despise those who are weak, tell them to not even breathe.”
“Because they like to be treated like that.”
Lara could not understand. No matter what, why did she have to show that attitude on purpose? But Demian, who was following from behind, silently snickered to himself.
The young demon who made eye contact with Lara was shaking his shoulders. He said, “As expected of the demon lord!” with his cheeks flushing.
“Do you understand?”
“I don’t think this is a place for me…”
“What are you talking about? You’re already perfect as you are even if you just walk without saying a word.”
Who are you to say that?
Lara felt offended and decided to just walk away.
Abraxas’ death brought a lot of changes in hell. The only gate that could climb to the land of man was closed shut and the distance between the two realms grew further and further, forcing the demons to live in hell waiting for another miracle to happen for a very long time henceforth.
“A war of ranks has broken out.”
“We have to live on our own forever now. Our common goal is gone. There are no discussions, compromises, or rules for us demons. And no conscience and compassion. The demon race is as simple and pure as it is strong. We obey the strong and we exploit the weak.”
“That’s why the war of rank happens?”
“This is what real hell is.”
With a look of excitement, Vassago led Lara to the hastily prepared demon lord’s room. There was a shiny jewel chandelier and full-vision window in the large room.
“Come this way.”
“No, I just want to go home quickly.”
“Look at this.”
Vassago pointed out the window. Even if she did not like it, she could not help but see it. The window was so large that it was difficult to look away.
The demons were fighting everywhere. They struck with their firsts, wielded their weapons, and bit with their teeth. The world outside the castle was chaos itself. One moment a pair of demons would pass by each other normally, the next moment they would have already fought each other because they made eye contact.
“Isn’t this realm going to end at this point?”
“They’re all going to die.”
“No. They never get clingy once the winner is decided. Look, the losers are acting subserviently and moving back.”
The demon who lost the fight had bowed their heads to the winners and slipped away. Then, they found someone who looked weaker than them and fought again. So did the demons who won the fight. They laughed loudly and mocked the losers. Then, they roared around looking for a stronger demon.
Lara was anxious and asked Vassago.
“When it becomes known that I’m the demon lord…”
“Challengers will flock.”
“When you say challengers…”
“Demons who have been building up their skills in hell for nearly a thousand years, the demon lord candidates will come running at you.”
Lara became pale.
The sun did not rise so she could not even tell whether it was day or night. When Vassago told her that she could eat if she was hungry and she could sleep if she was tired, Lara felt like she could see why humans described demons as beasts.
After that, a splendid meal followed. Vassago had decided to treat Lara to only the best of hell, so he filled the table with ingredients so precious that even demons themselves did not get to see often.
“Is the meal a problem now? I have to hurry back home, but it looks like I will have to participate in the war of rank.”
“I know you need a demon lord in hell, but it doesn’t have to be me. God is gone now. Any strong demon can take the throne.”
“That’s not the case.”
“Because Paimon and I swore allegiance to you, Master. And as far as I know, Paimon swore his obedience…”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“It’s a swear that we must keep until you die, Master.”
Vassago cleared his throat before continuing.
“Without defeating you… We’ll never be recognized as the demon lord.”
“I’ve lost my appetite.”
Lara put down her knife and murmured with a gloomy face. There were many delicious-looking foods on the table, but none of them felt like they would taste good. Thinking that her mother would be looking for her, nothing went into her mouth. It was obvious that she would have an upset stomach even if she ate. Lara only nibbled on the salad and rinsed her mouth with a drink.
“At least eat a little. Only then can we find a way.”
Demian gave Lara a piece of meat. It was meat that was cut into small pieces and moderately seasoned. Lara could not resist so she opened her mouth and ate the meat.
“This one too.”
This time, Demian offered food that looked similar to a potato croquette. It smelled of savory fries and of a sour sauce. Lara forced herself to eat the food again this time.
“Should I just feed you?”
“Don’t worry. I got your back.”
“Demian, aren’t you even worried? Now…”
“Lara, did you forget that I’m your mighty warrior?”
“I’ll beat them all.”
As if the demons fighting out of the window were nothing, Demian shrugged and said.
“I can just beat them all up.”
I wish it was that simple.
When Lara murmured, Demian put a piece of fish that looked like salmon in her mouth this time.
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