42. Epilogue – Page of Fate
The battlefield was cleaned up. The corpses of the dead Orcs and Ogres were moved with great difficulty and decapitated, their heads used to perform the funeral rites unique to their respective races. All of the human corpses were buried as well.
The battle had been great news for the Demon Kingdom. Not only had the Hero’s army been defeated at every battle, but the Hero himself had been killed. Every single one of the tyrannical invaders had been repelled. All of the Demons lingering around the City of Twilight cheered uproariously, the victory having significantly raised their opinions of the Demon Lord.
“But, I didn’t even do anything!”
In the Commander’s Tent, Demon Lord Lily was sitting upon a shabby wooden throne with a complicated expression on her face. Karakul and Ellin were standing before her with the other Commanders standing on each side with their heads lowered. Kuman was left to stand outside as a guard.
Lily Golt herself felt that she had done nothing. However, Karakul shook his head, disagreeing.
“No, Your Highness. You are the one who deserves the merit of this victory.”
“How so?” She asked with a confused frown.
If it was his plan to hand all the merit for their victory off to her just because she was the Demon Lord, then she would be upset. She didn’t feel like she deserved it whatsoever. If anything, she should have been chastised for putting them all in danger.
“Rather, all of you were in danger because of me. So, how did I earn any merits?”
“It is because the City of Twilight would have fallen if Your Highness didn’t come.”
He wasn’t wrong. If Kuman and his Ogre armor division hadn’t been moved due to Lily’s orders then the Orc army would have been decimated. Also, they would have been unable to impede the mobility of the Holy Knights’ cavalry which would have allowed them to enter the city. If that had happened, all of the Demons in the city would have been slaughtered.
‘If the Hero had stepped in, it would have been a guaranteed loss. Also, if Her Highness wasn’t involved, Master himself would have been hesitant to step in.’
If Tom had stepped in, he would have most likely saved only Karakul. He had to not only be careful with his movements, but he also had wanted to avoid confrontation with the current Hero. But that didn’t matter anymore. There was no changing what had already happened. The Hero was dead and the allied forces had retreated.
Once this truth was known, however, the Holy Kingdom and the various other kingdoms would be under pressure to prepare a larger army and better-trained Heroes for the next invasion.
‘It’s good that we were able to buy some time for now, but…’
The true problem was only something Karakul and Tom were aware of. The scheme of Vampires. If they weren’t suppressed soon, they would prove troublesome for all of the Demon Kingdom.
“If Your Highness hadn’t brought Kuman, our clan would have been slaughtered. I am grateful.”
Karakul bowed deeply.
Lily smiled awkwardly feeling overwhelmed by such a sincere act of gratitude.
“I’m happy that you think as such.”
Lily was speaking the truth. She had been nervous about whether she had been an inconvenience this time as well, so Karakul praising had brought her some much-needed relief.
“However, the true person of merit was not me, but the one that saved both you and I. I want to see that meritorious Ajin.”
Whispers permeated throughout the Orc generals.
“That was no ordinary Ajin. He had powers far greater than anything I had thought possible.”
“Demonic Power and Holy Power. He had both contrasting powers at once. How did this happen? That Ajin… who was he?”
“The Devil of Lania.”
Ellin muttered. The Orc generals turned to her and paled in fear. The Devil of Lania was an existence that had toppled the capital of the Holy Kingdom. It was also the name of the only person to ever have had a chance to take the Pope’s life, though he had turned it down, leaving a warning instead. His infamy was widespread amongst both the human and demonic kingdoms and he was the most feared existence between the two factions. A one-man army with power rivaling that of Demon Lords. He was also the kind of existence that could stand against a Hero.
“B-but, why did that person, who disappeared for 30 years… for what reason…?”
“… I heard a report a moment ago. According to a Wandering Demon, he left quite a mess back in human territory.”
“… Wait, so he’s not on the side of the humans?”
The Orc generals were growing excited. It was becoming clear to them, after all. He was an Ain and on the side of Demons. There was no other reason for him to protect the Demon Lord. In that case, there was no reason for them to fear humans any longer. A Hero had died as soon as his heart had been pierced, just like that. So there wasn’t a lot to be afraid of anymore.
Ellin’s eyes turned to the tent’s entrance. She had only seen his appearance as a vassal of Arrtark. She didn’t know what he truly looked like. So, she expected him to look terrifying. If not, there would be no reason for him to cover his face with a white hood.
‘His face must be all roughed up without ears and a nose! He might even have a horn like a goblin!’
As Ellin’s imagination continued racing, Lily started to speak.
“Come in. I wanted to meet you.”
Then, the tent was opened and he walked in. The Orcs who saw him looked puzzled.
“No, he must be an Ajin that looks similar to Humans.”
“His ears aren’t that of a beast, so he’s not a merfolk, and they’re not long, so he’s not an elf. Looking at his stature, he’s not a dwarf either. Just what is his species?”
At those words, Ellin sighed and turned her head. Regardless of how he looked, he was the savior that rescued both her and the Demon Lord. She had to give him her gratitude at the very least.
When she saw him, her eyes grew wide in shock. He was still covering his head with a hood, but she could see part of his face. He was a young man with clear and pure pumpkin-colored eyes, bright and glamorous golden hair, and a scar on his right eye.
Ellin froze in shock. She shook her head and rubbed her eyes as though she had seen a ghost, but when she realized the man had the appearance of a certain probationary Holy Knight, she simply stood dumb having lost her words.
“… Are you both acquainted?”
Ellin paused at Lily’s question, then shook her head in reply. He was a probationary Holy Knight, and in this sensitive time, it might bring trouble to mention that.
Tom knelt in front of Lily and lowered his head. Lily smiled looking at such a natural gesture.
“I wish to see your face.”
Tom raised his head, gazing at her expressionlessly.
Lily looked back, conflicted.
“You… haven’t we met before?”
He slipped out one letter as though he wanted to say more.
When Lily tilted her head in confusion, she realized his mouth was shaped to pronounce ‘Ly’.
When Lily looked confused, Tom simply shook his head.
“No, it’s nothing.”
“You’ve contributed greatly to this battle. I am grateful that you protected me, my servants, and my people. Perhaps… Do you need anything? I don’t have much power, but I wish to give you anything I can.”
The Demon Lord herself, the reincarnation of Ellie, asked him that exact question. After giving it a moment of thought, Tom knew what he wanted and met her gaze. Her crimson eyes met with his golden-colored ones.
“… Will you let me protect you?”
Lily looked at him and tilted her head in confusion.
He formed a happy smile on his face as he spoke honestly.
“Let me protect you.”
Once his meeting with the Demon Lord concluded, Tom was led back to a tent assigned as the VIP room. Karakul who led him there opened his mouth to speak.
“Why did you let the humans go?”
Karakul had a lot of questions, but this was the question he believed Tom was the most likely to answer.
Tom sat upon the bed made of straw and smiled with satisfaction.
“Hm? Ah, would you have been happier if I had slaughtered them? Would killing them have been better?
“… I don’t make a hobby of murder, but, what I’m concerned about is the leaking of information.”
If every one of them had been killed, it would have taken considerably longer for the information to reach the Holy Empire. With survivors, the news would spread much more quickly. It was already known that the Devil of Lania had appeared in the Golden Fief. However, they would raise their guard that much more if it was known that such an existence was near the borders of the Demon Kingdom.
“The bastards will bring more soldiers, ones that are better trained, led by a more powerful Hero. Their strength will only grow.”
“Yeah, but you know…”
Tom spoke with a smile.
“What if ‘our’ strength grew as well?”
Karakul’s eyes grew wide and Tom’s lips curled into a smile. It wasn’t a natural smile. It was instead far more sinister.
“This battle destroyed their sense of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’.”
“They saw a ‘miracle’. Everyone did. The Holy Knights, the Priests, and the entire Allied Forces…!”
He laid on his bed and leaned on the side of the tent. He sat in a haughty pose.
“I don’t really know the situation on this continent. I lived for 30 years stuck in the palace, after all. I only managed to receive information through you. However, I know this much. Things are different from the era in which I lived. The world has become more wicked! So, I’ll ask you this. What happens if a rotting nation isn’t purified, but is instead left to continue rotting? The putrid juices will continue to fester.”
The continent was rotting. Under the direction of Pope Salem, the dispatching of Heroes took on a new shape while magic continued to develop each and every day. However, the continent that possessed this fearsome ‘might’ continued to fester. Every kingdom was pressured to prepare vast funds which led to a rise in taxes everywhere. This led to the suffering of their subjects and caused dissenters to be executed as examples. While this allowed for long term industry growth and expansion, it also increased the number of captive slaves without any rights. It was a free world with an established upper class that only the wealthy merchants, aristocrats, and priests could enjoy. Those that felt chilled by this injustice rose up. Something strange had happened at this opportunity. The Devil of Lania had toppled the capital of the Holy Kingdom. And with that, was the newly formed ‘heresy’.
“God has descended!”
“The Lion of God has appeared!”
“Devil of Lania! The true Lion to judge good and evil has arrived!”
‘Rebellions’ formed in various parts of the continent. It was because of the fact that not everyone was allowed to participate in the industry and expansion of the rotting nations. These people who had placed their faith in God were used as cattle to fatten the stomachs of priests rather than be rewarded for their devotion. Also, those who had seen the miracle in the rotten nation’s capital all said the same thing.
‘I saw an angel!’
It was a well-known fact that clergy that performed evil deeds were hung on the cross and killed while those that did good deeds were released. With that fact and the testimonies of the survivors, it was persuasive enough to give these people hope. People believed what they wanted to believe. That was human nature.
If they say an angel had arrived, one had really arrived. As such, a religion and faith worshipping the Devil of Lania as their god was born. The Holy Empire sensed the threat and suppressed the heretics, but the corrupt nobles turned in innocent people as well hoping for merit. It made their abuse worse which in turn grew the heretical church’s influence as they dug deeper and spread. They formed their own faith and religion as they expanded all across the continent. After 30 years of this, and with the Devil of Lania appearing once more, this would cause the uprising to form again. The survivors of the Hero’s forces, the priests, and the Holy Knights would become living proof against the current faith and religion. They would only need to say that ‘they saw a miracle’ before the Devil of Lania. This would result in the destruction of the current faith and religion. The destruction of the Holy Kingdom.
Tom burst out into laughter. He thought of the Hero he had killed, Ludin of the Allied Forces, and Aris, who he had let escape.
‘I-it’s a lie. It’s a lie! Don’t succumb! The bastard’s the devil! You must not succumb to the Devil!’
These were Ludin’s words
‘Devil! W-why did you kill Ludin! I’ll curse you! You wicked monster!’
He thought of Aris’ eyes filled with resentment. Tom didn’t feel sad nor anguished thinking of their words. Rather, he felt amused. It was because he felt that they were true.
‘Ahh, yes. You’re right. Wicked Devil? That sounds right.’
He was a being of creation, both God and Devil. A sovereign of the fallen that would deceive, pollute, and corrupt humans. As he recognized that within himself, he couldn’t stop laughing. Karakul, who was watching Tom, stood with his mouth closed. Tom’s ecstatic laughter looked too cold-blooded in his eyes.
— Ω —