After Lara finished her meal, Paimon came to Vassago’s castle. He had just finished cleaning up his own castle. Instead of his usual elegant and noble appearance, he appeared with wounds and bloodstains. With a heavy breath, he sat down.
Lara asked him.
“What’s wrong with you now?”
“There were a lot of challengers.”
“Did you win?”
“Of course. I, Paimon, will never do anything that would damage your notoriety.”
“Please just damage it…”
Lara clutched her head and groaned.
Then, another demon suddenly came to her mind. She asked urgently.
Paimon raised his head, he said that he had just realized that now. Vassago stroked his chin, looking amused.
Valac was not seen anywhere. The weak vampire would usually hide behind Lara and beg her to save him.
Was he there when I fell into hell? Where was he while Vassago and Paimon were dealing with the Hell Corps? I can’t remember where he was and what he did at that time for the life of me.
Lara was about to order them to find him, thinking he might have died of a violent death while running away. But suddenly, a thunderous roar came from outside Vassago’s castle. They were her challengers.
“Demon lord, come out and take my challenge!”
“I heard that a new demon lord has appeared in hell. Open the door! The great demons here are challenging the king!”
“Let’s decide who the real king is!”
The walls collapsed and magic was rampant outside. Their loud chatters and laughs shook the window until the glass broke.
Lara realized it was real hell there. She stepped on the broken glass and looked out the window. The demons appeared riding the demonic beasts of hell and were flying her way at a rapid pace.
“How dare you challenge my master? I must pluck out your bones and make a new cane!”
Vassago grinned from ear to ear and threw himself out of the window.
“What a beautiful sight.”
Paimon flew to them as well, his red hair fluttering in the air.
The gates of hell that were opened in the deep valley of the Gorgon Mountain Range were now closed. With victory in their hands, the humans returned to the city with cheers.
Valac did not return to hell. No, it would be more fitting to say that he could not return. He was climbing the cliff with his trembling hands, hanging from a thick branch that sprouted from the edge of a cliff.
“Why…did I…come to the human realm? What kind…of wealth and honor did I expect I would get here? I should have just stayed in hell. Even if I was ignored and beaten… I should have just lived there!”
His fingers were covered in blood as his nails had all but fallen out. The smallest loosening of his grip would lead to his fall down the valley. It was a deep and bottomless valley. He did not even know how the ground below him had collapsed in the aftermath of the earthquake. No matter how powerful a demon Valac might be, he would be shattered if he fell from that height.
“I should have just run away. Then… at least I wouldn’t have to deal with this… Aargghhh!”
Valac slipped as he murmured. He managed to grab hold of a branch that had sprouted a little further below. But it did not look strong either. The branch hung narrowly on the ground that was weakened by the earthquake.
‘Will I die like this? Is this the end of my turbulent life as a demon?’
Suddenly he missed his master. If he knew this would happen, he would have been more friendly to her. At first, it was strange and disgusting for Vassago and Paimon to obey Lara. But as time went by, he changed his mind.
Lara had the magic to attract demons. He wished he could have been more helpful to her. He was not as great a demon as Vassago, and he was not as capable of magic as Paimon, but he did try to help her with his weak power.
If I knew I’d die in vain, I would’ve risked my life to fight for her. I ran away because I didn’t want to die, yet here I am.
At the last moment, Valac hid on a slope a little bit away from the battlefield and was swept away by the earthquake that Abraxas had caused. But, instead of hell, he fell into a hole where the ground had cracked. As the disaster was a miracle caused by God with his life at stake, it was impossible for him, a mere vampire, to escape from the aftermath. Even after the gates of hell were closed and the humans returned to their cities, Valac had to try everything to crawl out of the deep ground.
He transformed into a bat by squeezing his last remaining strength. He flapped his wings a few times, but returned to his original position and clung to a branch. Now, he did not even have the strength to use even simple transformation magic.
Holding the branch, Valac’s fingers gradually had their strength drained. Below the cliff where he hung, there was a sound of the wind that resembled the cry of a beast.
“Acerus… I’m sorry.”
Valac murmured. If he died, so would Acerus. They shared a heart after all. Valac’s heart was drowned in deep guilt, a man who would become a hero of humankind and Emperor of the Empire would die because of him.
He wondered if it would have been better for him to ignore Acerus and just go back to hell back then. He really wanted to live as a ruler among humans, so he shared his heart with Acerus. But now, even an innocent human being would be harmed because of his decision.
Things of the past flashed across his mind. He wanted to come to the human realm, so he came into the body of a prince who did not even have the right to become a sacrifice. He dug his own grave with his clumsy acting and spent only a little time doing nothing properly. It was a life full of regrets.
‘Now that it’s like this, it really does seem like I’m a human.’
Valac flashed a dejected smile. It was not until his death that Valac acquired the human heart he had longed for.
Vassago’s castle was broken down shortly after the war of ranks began. It was a magnificent and beautiful castle, like an old historical site, but now collapsed debris rolled around here and there.
Lara stood by the window and looked at the collapsing demon castle. Then, she turned her head when she heard a rustling sound from behind. Demian was standing up and checking his outfit. He had a sword on his waist and was tightening his shoelaces.
“What are you doing?”
“What else? I should go out and fight.”
“They’re going to challenge my master. How can I just stay here and go sightseeing?”
“But they’re demons.”
Lara looked at Demian with a face asking if he really should do that. Demian was humming while tightening his shoelaces. Looking closely, there was a subtle pleasure on his blunt-looking face. His shoulders were slightly raised and his gait was light. Lara squinted her eyes and asked.
“Are you excited now?”
He shook his head, asking what kind of nonsense was that. However, the corners of his mouth were raised to the fullest.
Lara had never seen him have so much fun going out fighting. Demian had always fought for others because he was commissioned, and he had always protected others because he was compelled to do so and out of obligation. But what was happening outside the window now was pure combat with no obligations.
Moreover, the opponents were demons. This was hell, a place where one did not have to feel guilty for inflicting violence. It was natural to kill or hurt someone. Lara relaxed her shoulders and looked at Demian. Then, she pointed her finger out of the window and said.
“Tell them who’s the strongest warrior in hell.”
Demian approached Lara and gave her a deep kiss on the cheek. His palm was hot. Lara sighed and slowly stroked the cheek he kissed.
A demon appeared outside. Even on the battlefield where Vassago and Paimon fought fiercely, he found out where Lara was and flew straight to her.
“Demon lord, come out and take my challenge!”
Lara did not know who he was. She neither knew his name nor did she know his rank as a demon. Seeing that he just wanted to be the demon lord, she thought he must be a pretty strong demon.
The window broke and glass shards poured down. He flew straight to Lara, who was standing close to the window. At that moment, Demian stepped forward to protect her and broke the demon’s arm. Then, he climbed on top of his body and rode him like a horse.
The demon struggled. He screamed and casted a spell on Demian. But Demian did not get even a single scratch. The magic of the demons was nothing but an eye-catching trick on him.
“You! Who are you?”
Demian sat on his back, holding the horn in his neck like a rein, and said.
The demon screamed and fell out of the window with Demian. Lara hurried to the window and looked down. Demian was literally crushing the demon. When he punched his chin, the demon screeched and sprawled.
The same happened to another demon after that. Demian did not even draw his sword. He punched, kicked, and kneed them. The demons kept casting spells on him but, of course, none of it worked.
On this day, all the demons who came into Vassago’s castle to challenge the demon lord were defeated. They miserably knelt before Lara and bowed their heads.
They could not even step on the demon lord’s shadow. It was because the demon lord’s men were so strong. After winning the fight, Lara said to Vassago and Paimon, who returned with red blood dripping all over their bodies.
A deep weariness was in her cold face, on her chill voice, and on her red eyes.
‘As expected of our demon lord!’
‘What sheer perfection.’
Heated gazes poured out on Lara. It was a look of infinite respect and admiration.
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