“Are you ready?” The voice asked again when I didn’t answer
“Leave me alone,” I replied
“Very well.” it returned
Just as I asked the voice remains silent. Being stubborn I do the same for what feels like hours before finally speaking up.
“Why must I do it again? Just let me pass on.” I eventually barked out with a bitter and angry tone
“Elaborate. What do you mean by ‘pass on’?” It asked with slight interest in its voice
“Die, pass on, go to the afterlife!” I yelled out in anger feeling mocked by his words
“There is no such thing. This is as close as you will ever find to an afterlife.” It answered
“Then let me disappear! Why must I stay here to anguish in my memories?!” I yelled out as tears begin to stream again
“I still require you. If you wish to leave then I will send you to fulfill another task.” It answered
“I won’t! There is nothing special about me, find somebody else!” I snapped in anger
“I will wait until you are ready.” the voice answered before growing silent yet again
Again I wait. Wait for my anger to fade, wait for the situation to seem any more reasonable than it is. It never does. In the silence, there is no distraction to fight off my memories. They fuel my hatred.
“Hey.” I let out in a dry and bitter tone
“Are you ready?” It asked in response
“No. Were you watching?” I asked coldly disregarding him
“The entire time.” It answered
I swear I hear a slight chuckle in his voice, and my anger swells again. I choke it back and continue.
“Why did they do it? Why did they kill me?” I asked hoping for an answer that would soothe me
“Because they feared you. Just as the small one feared your partner.” He answered
In that one statement my world grew red. It finally dawned on me. The one who killed Aina, the one that I had so desperately searched for, the one that had ruined my life… IT WAS TUY?!
“RYHAAAAA!” I screamed out in anger to the void
“WHY NOT JUST SEND ME BACK?! I WAS READY TO LEAVE!” I scream out
“There never was a way back. They lied to you so you would do as they asked.” The voice coldly responded
“KRYHAAAA!!” I screamed out again
My memories grow blurry after that. My blind rage continued for some time. In the void I require no sleep so my concept of time is warped, but I can only imagine it must have been days before I calmed down enough to think again.
Here, I require no air, no water, no food, no rest, and yet I could feel the fatigue on my mind.
“Why should I do as you ask?” I asked with a weak voice
After screaming for so long my voice should be rasped, my lips should be dry, but they weren’t. Nothing ever changes here.
“You have no choice. Until you are ready, I shall wait.” The voice answered
I was held, hostage. That was the deal. I did as he asked or I stayed in this empty void forever. My anger had begun to shift to the strange voice. As if to spite him I grew silent again. I was the only one that my silence ever seemed to hurt, however. The voice never spoke out alone, it never grew impatient, but I was forced to face my demons in the silence. To remember every excruciating memory of my past life.
The silence grew painful on my ears. The only thing that broke it was when I or the voice talked… but my demons only grew stronger with each conversation. It felt like madness was setting in from all sides. My past, my present, and my future all seemed like a different kind of hell.
“Fine. I’ll go!” I finally shouted out in anger and inpatients.
“State your wish for your new life then.” The voice said without even a tint of satisfaction in its voice
It’s lack of interest in breaking me sparked a new anger that nearly drove me into a rage yet again… but I refused to do so. I was getting out of this prison, I would not go silent again. I shoved down my anger before continuing.
“I get another? That’s rather generous.” I mocked
The voice never answered my sarcasm. It simply left me in silence to pick my wish.
“Fine. I wish for the power to complete my task alone. I have no desire to make any more friends on my journey.” I answered with fire in my voice
“Very well, your wish is granted. Use your new powers well as you slay the lord of the demons. Are you ready?” It asked
The question no longer shakes me. Not in the way it did before at least. Now it fuels the fire that seems to burn in my gut. The one that makes me hate my answer.
“Yes.” I said with regret as the world flushed from around me again
“G-Great hero! We have succeeded at last! Please save us!” A meek man in a fancy robe greeted me
My surroundings were similar, yet clearly different. The room was clearly some kind of church, and the symbol beneath me seemed to resemble magic circles from fairy tales in my world. Neither resembled anything from the world I was first summoned to. I was in a new world yet again.
“If you will come this way our great leader will gree-” The small man began excitedly before I picked him up by his collar
“Do you have a way to send me back?” I asked angrily as I stared the small man in the eyes
I dared him to lie to me.
“I-I don’t know! There are many more familiar with summoning magic than I am! Please don’t hurt me!” He spouted in fear squirming around in my hand
“Bring them to me,” I said as I threw the man to the ground and sat on something resembling a stool
“Y-Yes! At once!” The man spouted off as he scurried away
I learned quickly to despise the rat as I waited for far too long. The others in the room waited awkwardly unsure of whether I wanted them to stay or leave for a while, but after some time they all managed to slip away. I didn’t care. I grew irritated as I saw the sky begin to change color from the setting sun. My sense of time was distorted because of my period in the void, but I knew that I had been kept waiting for far too long.
The sky had grown dark before someone finally returned to the room, but it was not a summoner.
“Arrogant hero! You would be lucky if I didn’t sentence you to death for your disobedience.”
The man that entered saying such an annoying statement was none other than the king. He was a small man, not only in character but in stature. I’m sure his skin wasn’t red, but in the short time I knew him his face was almost always beat red with anger. Perhaps that was my own fault.
He didn’t enter alone, however. Along with him were five warriors of obvious caliber. Each staring at me with the same look of contempt as the king.
“Do you have the means to send me home?” I asked without answering his anger
His pride meant nothing to me. I wanted to return. Not to my own world, my desire for that had long since passed. No, I wanted to return to the world that I rid of the Lich. I wanted Tuy and Mault to tell me why they betrayed me themselves.
“Know your place! What grounds do you have to make a request of a king?!” He angrily yelled as he marched towards me
In an instant, I closed the distance between us and placed my sword against his neck. Surprised by my speed the warriors all stumbled to raise their swords on me. I wasn’t afraid. In the time I spent waiting I managed to confirm something. My body and equipment were the same as when I died. Without some kind of trap, there is no way a normal weapon could do any real damage to me.
“I will ask only one more time before I cut you down and ask someone else. Can. You. Send. Me. Home?” I asked with my anger and irritation beginning to resurface
Surely I had killed humans before, especially against the mages opposition, but I had never grown used to it. At that moment I surprised even myself. The man before me was not human to me. Nobody there was.
“Hmph! If you had only listened to our proposal you would have known that we can you fool! All we ask is that you rid us of the demon lord!” The king yells in my face
With a bit of spit landing in my eye, my anger was fit to burst.
“No! You will send me back now!” I yelled
“and why would we do that?!” He screamed back with an ever reddening face
I was done.
“RAAAAAAAAH! Kill him! Kill him now!” The king screamed as I let the sword sink into the fatty flesh around his neck
The next battle happened in a flash. I threw the king away to give myself some space to take down the five that had started charging me despite my hostage. Perhaps as an instinct from my previous life I used the flat end of my blade as I quickly dispatched them.
I had no idea how these five stacked up against the warriors of this world but compared to even a simple soldier of the front line they were untrained fools with shiny gear.
It was only moments after the king himself landed on the ground that the five fools he brought with him followed suit.
“IEEEeee! Don’t kill me! I’ll give you whatever you want!” He pleaded as his face quickly switched to a shade of blue
“Just send me back,” I said as I placed the sword against the king’s neck again
“Kuh! We… Can’t…” He let out with a look of shame and defeat
“It was a lie?” I asked in the same emotionless tone
“..Yes.” The king eked out as he braced himself for the attack he was sure would follow
I sheathed my blade and began to walk towards the door. I had no reason to take his life if they didn’t even have a way to send me back. In the first place watching a defenseless man grovel and throw away his pride for the sake of his life quelled my immediate anger. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but my instincts told me to leave.
“W-wait! You can still go home!” The king yelled out in desperation as I approached the door
I stopped but didn’t turn to look at him. I was tired of his lies. This pause was his last moment to speak.
“The king of the demons should have the spell you seek. Demons are known for making pacts with otherworlders through summons. Surely they must have a way to return home!” He was wise enough to take it
The speed and sureness in his words made a small part of me believe he was telling the truth, but perhaps I had begun to lose hope that I could return. After he finished talking I continued to leave.
“You will need the holy sword! My daugh-” He continued to yell as I left
What was it that gave me this sense of melancholy? How familiar the scene was to my previous life? The fact that I had given in to the voices demands? That I had thrown away my pride as a hero to serve myself? That question haunted me for a great deal of time.
Perhaps due to my lack of direction, I began my journey to the demon’s territory. The towns I passed through were helpful in that regard. Many were quick to tell of the legends regarding the demons, and where they were rumored to preside. What I found rather quickly was that nobody truly knew the location of the demon lord. Many doubted he even existed.
With the lack of evidence surrounding him I might have even questioned his existence myself if not for the voice. I didn’t trust the voice. I knew nothing of his motivations, nothing about why he would even tell me what he did, or if he had ever lied to me. Even still, he gave me a mission. Whatever motivation he had to send me to this world, I can at least meet it along the path to the demon lord. That was what I believed.
I expected to have a bounty on my head after I tossed around the king, but to my surprise word of a hero being summoned never even made it as far as the town I was summoned in. Perhaps the king kept it a secret intentionally to save face, but regardless of the reason, I found it convenient. Without the duty of a hero barring down on me, I was free to live this life as I wanted. Not as the voice wanted, and most certainly not as the king wanted. I traveled to find the demon lord for my own purposes.
I continued to gather information diligently as I traveled. I talked with merchants, innkeepers, and bards just as I had done in my previous life, but I never learned anybody’s name. Likewise, I threw away my own name. Names are for those who have a need to remember each other; friends, acquaintances, lovers. I didn’t need those. I didn’t want those. I talked with people for information, nothing more.
This journey was so different from those I had before. For as long as I could remember Aina and Tuy were at my side; laughing, arguing, and fighting side by side. Even when it was hard, it was always so much fun. Things always looked so vibrant and colorful. I would marvel at the sounds of nature. I don’t see the colors anymore though. I don’t hear the birds or the wind. I see the road, and I continue to follow it.
I met little resistance on my path. Monsters and demons became more common as I drew closer to my goal, but they were a meager distraction. Perhaps the inhabitants of this world are weaker? This world seemed… peaceful. The demons ravaged the land, but by no means as savagely as the Lich did. There was never any tension.
I knew I was drawing close when the miasma began to fill the air around me. A poisonous stench with a purple hue. When it first set in I would find various corpses scattered around. Monsters, animals, humans, even some demons dotted the land as if stricken by an epidemic. This miasma was powerful. Enough so for even me to be worried.
This was the first time I found a use for the gift the voice had given me for this world. It gave me the aptitude to fulfill any role by myself. In my previous life I had very little aptitude with magic, but with this ability, I gained the aptitude to cast any spell that my mana could handle. I also gained skill with a bow and various other weapons that I had troubles with in my previous life, but I continued to use a sword out of habit. Using this ability meant that I didn’t have to rely on a healer or a priest to make my way through the purple haze that grew ever thicker.
I won’t say it wasn’t lonely, but I preferred it this way. Nobody to betray me… nobody for me to hurt.
I struggled with my sense of direction in the thick miasma. It was hard to see more than a couple feet in front of myself, and I had been walking for so long that I had lost track of the way I first started walking. I knew, however, that so long as the mist grew thicker, that I drew closer.
The miasma was so thick that I no longer knew whether it was day or night. The miasma was the perfect defense in this way. No direction, no sense of time, and an always hostile environment. With the castle lost so deeply in the mist it was impossible for most to reach. Even if you managed to somehow survive the poisonous air, you also had to have the mental fortitude to walk through an endless void with no sense of when you would reach your goal. Maybe I really was the most suited candidate for it in that respect.
After walking for what I could only imagine was a few days I eventually began to notice a light, similar to a flickering flame, shining through the thick poisonous air. It became a lighthouse for me. I feared that it was a trap, but even I was growing fatigued in the miasma. Perhaps the excitement or danger of a trap would be good for me. I couldn’t get the idea of a moth flying towards a flame out of my head.
My worries were in vain however as the air suddenly cleared around me, revealing a castle that seemed to melt away at the edges. It was an amazing sight, but even this hardly shook my stoned heart. I continued on, determined in my goal.
The castle itself was abundant with high ranking demons, many of which attacked at once. At times the battles seemed close, and I worried I might fail, but somehow I would always pull through. The closer the battle, the more my melancholy would fade. I began to cherish each ambush and monologue of the demons that grew stronger and stronger the deeper I went.
Before long I had begun to look forward to meeting the demon lord, and fighting the strongest demon here… I resented that feeling. Yet again the voice had sent me to a world, and I was following his will mindlessly. I would not be so naive as to enjoy it again, however. I attempted to negotiate with each demon that crossed my path. To convince them that I would leave peacefully if they would simply let me speak to their king.
They didn’t listen. I was an invader to them, and they would not let me threaten their king.
I began to resolve myself that fighting the demon lord was inevitable. I began to feel a heavy painful feeling in my heart at the thought of giving that voice what he wanted yet again.
The castle wasn’t incredibly large in comparison to the vast expanse I crossed to get here, so my arrival at the throne room felt far too quick. My journey was already at an end? No… it wasn’t over until I hear the answer from Tuy and Mault’s mouths. This was merely a single step in that journey.
On the throne sat a man nearly twice my height, with deep purple skin and long sharp ears. Two horns protruded from his head, each curving backward with twist and turns. He wore dark robes of red and black. His overall appearance somewhat reminded me of a vampire. I’ll admit I tried to check for fangs when he spoke.
“So you have arrived unsung hero! To take down my four divas so easily… you are truly to be feared! Well then, shall we get to it then? Fight m-”
As he began his monologue I swiftly stopped him. If I was going to leave peacefully then this was my last chance.
“I don’t intend on fighting you, I just have a question I need you to answer,” I explained plainly
“…he.. Hehehe… Mwahahahahhaha! You came this far, all to ask me a simple question?! Perhaps you’re are not some unknown hero, but a far greater evil than even myself! Very well then, out of respect for your efforts, I will answer your question before I kill you.” He exploded with laughter at my statement
“Why was I sent to kill you?” I asked
“You jest surely? Because I have sent countless demons to kill the humans? Is that not why someone sent you?” He responded with confused amusement
“I wasn’t sent by humans. I was summoned to this world by some being with the express purpose of killing you. Why?” I ask as my anger began to boil
Somehow I had become so focused on getting here, that I forgot how ridiculous my story must sound to others. How was I supposed to get the information I needed like this?
“Do you speak in metaphors, or are you simply mad? Regardless, I do not know the answer to your riddle.” He said as the look of respect he previously had faded from his eyes
He might have really thought me mad at that moment.
“Let’s try another then… Why are you attacking the humans?” I asked
The common link between the two worlds was that I was summoned to defeat something attacking the humans. Perhaps the voice like humans enough to send them aid? Are his actions virtuous then? Does he play the role of hero by sending me in against my will?
“Because they have driven us to extinction. Hundreds of years ago humans and demons shared this land, just as countless other races did. The elves, the dwarves, the forgotten, as well as countless others. The humans think they are the superior race, and thus they spent centuries wiping out anything that wasn’t pure-blood human… A demons power comes from its resentment towards others. A power I can feel burn brightly in you. Pushed as far as we were, our resentment began to boil, and eventually, we gained the upper hand. We are still too few, however, and we have little room to expand with so many humans across the land. Humans are a plague that has wiped out most of the world! We will eradicate them so we don’t meet the same fate!” The demon lord explained with explosive anger
True to his word, as he grew angrier his appearance grew more menacing.
Listening to his words confused me again as to the voices purpose. If his story was true, then the voice didn’t act out of some sense of justice, but out of preference of the humans. One final thing bothered me, however. I didn’t seem necessary. The humans weren’t at their full potential, I saw that plainly in my travels. If the demons ever attacked in earnest against the humans, then the humans would simply rise to the challenge. The demons would have eventually been eradicated whether I was here or not, so why send me?
As my questions grew, so did my anger. It seemed like my answers were not here after all.
“One last question. Do you know of a method to send me home to my previous world?” I ask trying to steady my anger
“Why would I know such a thing? It is the humans that developed summoning magics, surely if such a magic existed the humans would have it.” He scoffs
I expected to get angry when I learned I was lied to, but I suppose I never put much hope in the red-faced kings words. With a sigh, I turned to leave. There was no reason for me to be here any longer.
A shooting pain came from my side in the next moment. The demon lord had sent a sword slashing into me. It was rather deep, and it hurt badly. He hadn’t surprised me, however, I had known all along that the moment I showed him my back that he would attack. I had hoped in this enraged state of his that he could deal me a fatal blow, and I had a smile on my face as I realized that I was right.
“I hope you enjoy your answers. You are surprisingly sturdy.” The demon scoffs as he pull the sword from me and waits for me to die
Death came quickly this time, and I was happy for it.
“Are you ready?”
Though my feelings of content were quickly replaced with blinding anger as I heard that same familiar question and opened my eyes to the void yet again.