by treave
Prologue: The Man Who Slew the Demon Lord
The Last Campfire
Demon Lord's Castle
The Final Battle
An Offering to the King of Demons
The Hero’s Destiny
Chapter One: A New World
Awakening in the Ruins
An Unexpected Reunion
Lightning Storm
Oath of Partnership
Scouting Party

Prologue: The Man Who Slew the Demon Lord

The Last Campfire

The Last Campfire

The embers whirl and dance away, carried by the cold wind. Like the fire burning fiercely in the ring of stones, the chattering of your comrades is infused with warmth. Yet underneath their cheerful, carefree words, you can hear a tinge of uncertainty. It is not a mark against their courage: to have ventured this far into the Netherworld means that every single one of them possessed the courage of a hundred men. It is an uncertainty borne of the fact that the foe you must soon face is deadlier and stronger than anything you have ever fought. After all, they do not call him the Demon Lord for nothing.

From his throne atop the black spire, the Demon Lord commands his legions of fiends to pillage and plunder the human world. He is a creature filled with the blackest malice, the embodiment of evil itself. In their time of need, man begged the skies for aid. The three goddesses that created the world and spun its fate answered man’s call, and selected from their ranks a Hero. A champion of the light. The sword that would drive back the darkness.

At least, that was how the prophecy went. High Priest Ardunnos at the Temple of the Fates had been quite adamant that his dream – filled, unsurprisingly, with nubile maidens in sheer gossamer cloth attending to gorgeous goddesses – was a prophecy from the gods. And so the Seven Kingdoms of Man had begun searching for a hero to save them: a champion that fulfilled the requirements of the Goddesses’ Prophecy. You remember the day that the emissaries came knocking at your door, the day when they revealed that you were one of the hero candidates.


A. As a member of nobility, you had been accorded the best education that money could buy in both swordsmanship and magic. A life of luxury afforded you many benefits, and to your family’s pleasure, they were not wasted on you. Your innate talent meant that you soon exceeded your peers, and as the war against the demons dragged on, it did not take long for hopeful eyes to turn towards you.

B. You were one of many to leave your struggling village for the capital, hoping to find a better life. There, against all odds, you were accepted into the famous Order of the White Falcon. They were an esteemed group of knights who had a long tradition of loyal service. You soon proved yourself as one of the best squires in the fortress, even besting some older knights in practice.

C. Your village was one of the first to be destroyed by the demon army. Orphaned at a young age, you were picked up by a band of roaming mercenaries. You spent your early years knowing only war, and nothing else. Thankfully, your luck turned for the better when you were bested by the greatest swordsman of the age. Impressed by your skill, he spared you and made you his disciple.

D. You lived the comfortable life of a merchant’s son, but your interests had always been towards scholarly pursuits and less about the chase for money – although you were no less talented in that field. Your family was kind and supportive, allowing you to take your own path. You did. You became the youngest graduate of the capital’s most prestigious academy, and a skilled magical researcher in your own right.


You met the others soon after that, and you had been together since. A motley crew that had been full of conflicting egos and dysfunctional personalities at the start… but the fires of battle have forged a bond that you have come to appreciate. You look at each of your friends in turn, while they sit around the campfire and talk.

“To be frank, I am not sure whether I dread the coming confrontation more, or its aftermath. As the leader of the Seven Kingdoms, my father will surely have me busy with the victory celebrations for months to come!” jokes Kyle Theseon. The dashing young knight – said by many be the most talented fighter in generations – is also royalty: the third son of Emperor Gradio Theseon. He had not gotten along with you at first, but saving each other's lives had soon put that feeling to rest.

“Celebrations are a fine thing, Master Theseon.” Althus, the protégé of High Priest Ardunnos and renowned warrior of faith, clasps his hands together as if in prayer. “It would be a good opportunity to give thanks to the goddesses for our success.”

“Aren’t y’all talking a bit too quick about success?” drawls the mysterious rogue, Syke Nimfeet. He has never spoken about his origins, but his mastery of stealth and poisons has bailed your group out of many tricky situations over the past year. “Of course, retirement’s good and all, but we gotta live first. Retiring to the grave ain’t in my plans.”

Kyle laughs. “Do not be so pessimistic, Syke! We will be victorious on the morrow, I am sure of it!” He glances at you askew and adds, “After all, we have the Hero, Fate’s Chosen, with us in battle!”

“Indeed,” nods Althus. “Atropos herself has decreed that our threads are to last beyond the battle with the Demon Lord, for it is his thread that shall be cut in our confrontation. Put more faith in your creators, Nimfeet.”

“Alright, alright. I know not to get into another of these debates with ya, Althus,” chuckles Syke. “Right, Lobelia, m’dear?”

The wizard scowls at him when he mentions her name. “Do not drag me into this.” But even the full, icy glare of one of the Nine Archmagi of the Tower, the most powerful magic organization in the world, is insufficient to smother Syke Nimfeet’s wide, cocky grin.

You see Rurik Magnussen shaking his head gently, his beard covering a faint smile. He catches your gaze and winks, demonstrating sharp instincts undulled by age. The master bowman is the oldest one here, and has constantly been a source of stability when all hope seemed lost. That he has not said anything so far means that he knows they are engaging in nothing more than banter.

All of them had their reasons for coming this far. So did those that had fallen along the way. Layla. Rennock. Talley. You still remember their deaths clearly, and the vows that everyone made: that those who remained would fulfill the wishes of those who had departed.

“You don’t seem to be particularly chatty tonight. Worrying about the dead again?” A tap on your shoulder gets your attention. It is Mieren Zaos, the wandering martial artist from the north who could match knights with her bare hands and feet. The wild, freezing lands there were beyond the rule of the Seven Kingdoms, inhabited by fierce, independent tribes. You had to wonder – just how did the emissaries pick a girl like this as a hero candidate? Watching your expression keenly, Mieren snaps, “Hey, you were thinking something rude about me, weren’t you?” She tosses her head in that distinctive, familiar way, her auburn hair glinting in the firelight.

“No, not at all,” you reply lightly. “I was just trying to remember what I was thinking when I joined up.”

As far as you could remember, at the time, your thoughts were of…


A. Justice. The suffering of the people must come to an end. You will lead humanity’s fight against evil in order to bring justice to the Demon Lord and his fiendish army. His reign of terror must come to an end, and you will be the one to do it.

B. Glory. Honour and glory. It would be a good way to prove yourself and increase your standing in the world. A hero would go very, very far in the power structure of the Seven Kingdoms. A messianic hero, even more so.

C. Materialistic needs. Money, women, and more money, not necessarily in that order, and more women wouldn’t hurt, either. Surely they will reward a hero handsomely. You are sure that you will be swimming in more than one type of booty if you survive.

D. Reluctance. If it were left up to you, you couldn’t even be arsed to lift your arse up and save the world. Let the world save itself for once, you have better things to do! But unfortunately, the amount of spears aimed at your neck has given you no choice.

Demon Lord's Castle

Demon Lord’s Castle

As you recall your initial reluctance, the offer that you could not refuse, and the elaborate scheme of madness you pretended to avoid being involved in this war, you yawn. Mieren jabs at your cheek playfully with the finger that you had once seen her use to pierce an orc’s skull. The head had exploded seconds later, almost showering you in bits of orcish brain if not for the magic shield that you had put up just in time. “Really, are you feeling sleepy already?”

“I like to reserve my strength for more important battles.” You’re close. You can feel it. Success is at hand! You pat the ground besides you and say, “Why don’t you-“

“Oh, no.” With a cheeky grin, the red-haired martial artist spins away, her taut posterior wiggling slightly as if to taunt you. “I’m reserving my strength for a more important battle.” Damn. Ah well, baby steps, you suppose. You are just making an investment for the future.

“Shot down again,” chuckles Syke.

You shrug. “It was worth a try… I think I’ll try again tomorrow, Mieren?”

She sticks out her tongue at you.

“Tomorrow we face the Demon Lord.” Rurik chides you with a gentle smile. “I scarcely think that even you could find time to flirt during such a momentous battle.”

“You would be surprised.” Lobelia speaks up, impassive. “Remember the thousand orcs battle at Redtaur Valley? He found time then.”

Mieren raises an eyebrow. “Was that what you were doing when we were split up?”

“I fancied myself a skirt-chaser, but you surely triumph over me in so many ways.” Kyle slaps his thigh, shaking his head in laughter. “How were you picked as the Hero over the rest of us? A lazy scholar who did not even know how to hold a sword when we first met?”

“I don’t know myself.” As you speak your doubts, the Hero’s Medal pinned to your chest tingles gently, subtly reminding you of your destiny and of the righteousness of your cause. “Perhaps the goddesses love me?”

“The goddesses love all mankind equally, but they would not reciprocate the love of a womanizer. Not in that profane way, so stop your drooling,” lectures Althus mockingly.

“Hey, I resent that. I’m not a womanizer,” you grin. “I’m the best damn womanizer in the world.”

“Oh? You mean like that time at Kolyptus, where you…”

As the band laughs, recalling some of the escapades that they have been through, you lean back, feeling utterly relaxed. It is a feeling that you have only had in two places in your life: your parents’ ancestral home in the Windspear Heights, and your cozy corner in the Academy of Towers. Perhaps it is strange to feel this way, the night before the battle… but it feels right.

With them, you feel at home.


Dawn breaks, and the ground shudders with the reverberation of a thousand horns blaring in the distance. You open your eyes blearily, nudge awake by a combination of the noise and of Mieren shaking your shoulders.

“It’s time!” she hisses excitedly.

The Seven Kingdoms are marching on the Demon Lord’s stronghold. The armies of humanity and demonkind would clash before the black spire, in an apocalyptic battle that would decide the fate of this world… but in truth, it was a diversion, planned as cover for your heroic assault on the castle.

“Are we ready?” asks Lobelia, her staff held high.

“Wait, wait, wait,” interrupts Syke. “Are you certain this will work?” he asks you nervously.

“It should,” you scratch your chin.

“His plan is sound,” agrees Lobelia. “If I am the one casting the magic, it will work.”

“Who would have thought that jumping short distances would not be disrupted by the demons’ anti-teleportation field?” Althus murmurs. “Why is that?”

“They spread it wide in order to prevent any direct incursions from the Seven Kingdoms. Think of it like casting a net over the Black Spire and the surrounding lands… hey, I’m not here to give a lecture on magic,” you sigh. “All you need to know is that it will work. If you are that interested in the theory, go hit up the library once we finish the job.”

“You only suggested this plan because you were tired of walking, weren’t you?” Kyle smirks knowingly.

“That’s true,” you admit. It is riskier than walking, but it is also so much quicker once you make the effort to get the magic right. “But if it works…”

“Then it works,” says Rurik. “Results are all that matter.”

“I just hope we don’t get our body parts mixed up or something…” mutters the still reluctant Syke. “Magic travel… oh man.”

“Please, I am not such an amateur that I would let that happen,” retorts Lobelia, brimming with icy pride.

“C’mon, we’re wasting time here. Let’s get this over with!” Mieren pounds her fists together impatiently. Her fiery red eyes glint with barely restrained bloodlust. She gives you a wink and a grin: you take it as a promise of fun things to come once this is ‘over with’.

“That is correct. It is time for the Hero and his brave companions to fulfill their Fate-woven destiny…” says Althus.

“We are ready.” Rurik nods confidently. “Give the order, Hero.”

“Very well. It’s been a long journey, my friends, but soon that journey will reach its conclusion.” Looking each of them in the eye, you continue, “For Layla, Rennock, and Talley…” They bow their heads, their eyes closed as they murmur the names of your dead comrades. “We will put an end to the Demon Lord today, save the world, and return victorious! Then I can finally use my well-deserved fame to declare a Month of Laziness throughout the entire land, so all of you… don’t die before you can enjoy it.”

“But before that, one last bout of effort,” says Kyle solemnly. “Don’t slack off now, dear leader.”

You laugh. “Lobelia, take us in.”


The demon knight stands in your way, its gigantic two-handed axe poised to strike. The ragged red cloak swishes gently behind it, striking a sharp contrast with the spiky, black armor. With the knight clad from head to toe in full plate, you are unable to see your opponent’s expression. Behind it is a set of massive double doors, and beyond, you can sense an overpowering presence awaiting you. The Demon Lord.

“So, you are the last obstacle?” You are alone, in the depths of the Black Spire. The others had been bogged down by the endless hordes of desperate demons attempting to defend their king, and you had been separated from them. No matter: you had dispatched whatever monsters you found on your way easily enough. A trail of corpses lies behind you. The blessing of the Goddesses was stronger than ever, here in the heart of evil. “I don’t suppose you would let me walk past without a fight?” you ask. “It would be so much easier for all of us.”

The black knight responds by swinging its over-sized axe at you. You leap back. It impacts the stone floor with the force of an explosion, hurling rubble everywhere. As you dust off your armor, you draw the Hero’s Sword. Muttering a thanks to Rennock for training you in the handling of weapons, you take up a basic stance. The knight attacks again, and you parry. The force of your swing pushes the demon back, and even behind its faceless helm you get the feeling that it is surprised at your strength. You might not have the best technique amongst swordsmen, but as you are now, you could still best almost any human knight in the world.

You exchange a few more ground-shattering blows with your foe: it is more skilled, but you are stronger and faster. Though you might win at this rate, who knows how long it would take? You would like to finish off your opponent quickly without dragging things out - after all, its king awaits you beyond those doors, and it would be impolite to keep him waiting too long. Given the demon knight's high durability…

You take a step back and sheathe your sword.

The surprised demon speaks for the first time. “What is the matter, Hero? Have you given up?” it taunts, its voice distorted badly by the monstrous helm. It still seems confident that it can defeat you.

“No, I just thought it was rather silly of me to engage you in a physical battle when my specialty is in magic,” you say casually. Yes, one of your own creations would do the trick. You would need nothing less than that to put the demon knight down in one hit.

“Your… what?”

You grin, and begin to cast your signature spell…


A. Gigadyne. The original spell that earned you the nickname of the ‘Thunder Emperor’, and the most powerful lightning magic in existence. It transmutes matter into pure electrical energy, and can be cast directly as an attack magic, used to empower your equipment, or to transform you into an intangible lightning form that is impervious to most weapons and spells. Initially conceived as a way to both bypass anti-teleportation defenses and damage security measures in the Academy’s female bathhouses.

Rank increase: Agility (in lightning form)

B. Soulscythe. The original spell that earned you the nickname of the ‘Saint of Death’, and the most feared death magic in the Seven Kingdoms. It summons an enormous, ethereal scythe that can reap an entire battlefield of enemies in the blink of an eye. The use of death magic in the summon grants the scythe the chance to sever a target’s thread of life with a lucky hit, turning them into your skeletal minions. Initially conceived as a way to clear lawns quickly in a brief attempt at starting a lawn-clearing business.

C. Black Dispel. The original spell that earned you the nickname of the ‘God Crusher’, and the strongest application of gravitational magic at present. It generates a powerful force field that multiplies the weight of everything besides the caster a thousand-fold and draws them into the center of the spell. Those who are able to survive the crushing force will find their physical capabilities impaired while within the field. Initially conceived as a way to compact garbage infinitely without having to clean up.

Major decrease: Physical Attack, Physical Defense, Agility (on opponents)

D. Reality Tear. The original spell that earned you the title of the “Killer of Dimensions”, and the finest offensive magic known to humanity. Following the caster’s fingers, it rips a tear in the fabric of reality, effectively acting as a slashing attack that bypasses physical and magical resistance. Only dimensional magic can defend against it, and once struck, its damage can only be healed by the reversal of time. Initially conceived as a method of spying on examination papers through opening a dimensional rift.

The Final Battle

The Final Battle

The massive, ornate doors to the Demon Lord’s throne room buckle, crack, and then explode inwards in a golden torrent of energy. As splinters of stone and metal rain down across the polished black marble, you walk through the deformed opening left behind by your spell. The demon knight is on its back, the thick armor sizzling and broken. It stirs, struggling to get up. Its gauntleted fingers fumble weakly for the melted remains of the battle axe by its side.

“You’re a tough one, aren’t you?” you whistle. “Tell you what, if you stay down and take a nap, I’ll pretend I didn’t see you slacking off.”

“I… I will not let you get your way,” gasps the demon.

“Have it your way.”

“WHAT DO YOU PLAN ON DOING TO MY DAUGHTER, HERO?” The loud, commanding voice stops you before you can deliver the final blow. That’s right, the Demon Lord. You had almost forgotten about him. You look towards the end of the great hall, where he is seated on his throne. Almost as if he was patiently awaiting your arrival. As tall and as powerfully built as an ogre, with six great horns sprouting from his head, black, bat-like wings that could span the hall’s width, a full beard that would put any emperor to envy, and a fiery glare malicious enough to wither spines at a single glance, he looks every bit the grotesque Demon Lord you had expected to see from the tales told of his evil exploits.

But more importantly… “Gigadyne.” Daughter, he said? With a flick of your fingers, you turn the demon knight’s battered armor into lightning. The knight yelps out in a panic. It is enveloped in a dazzling light which arcs away, shattering stone where it lands. As the crackling electricity subsides, you are able to see the demon’s actual form. You look down at the voluptuous silver-haired girl in front of you, helplessly trying to cover her nakedness. You look back at the Demon Lord. You shake your head.

“I’m sorry, I really don’t see the family resemblance,” you murmur apologetically.


“Does she take more after her mother, then?”


“A stroke of good luck, Demon Lord.”

“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!” The enraged demon princess, as stunning as her father is hideous even in her anger, musters up enough of her remaining strength to fly at you, her claws raking the air. She is stopped quite ignominiously enough by a dark, translucent wall. It transforms into a cube and encloses her, floating away into the air. She shouts at you, kicking and punching the cube, but her words do not make it past the barrier. Though you seem to recognize some rather rude words from the movement of her lips.

The chill of fear runs down your spine for quite the first time in a while. Dark Wall, an extremely powerful defensive magic. It twists space to form a nigh impenetrable barrier, yet the Demon Lord had seemed to cast it on a whim without even reciting the incantation. Of course, you have ways of getting past magic of this nature, but all of those methods would take effort.


“It would be,” you agree. You had long acknowledged the real nature of your quest. In war, sending an agent to bypass armies and decapitate the enemy’s leadership is an act of assassination. Though some of the others – Kyle and Althus, in particular – would have balked at being portrayed that way, you are under no illusions about your actions. The Hero’s Medal throbs warmly as it always does when you have the slightest doubt in your heart, reassuring you of your righteousness once again, and you say, “But as long as it is for a just cause, it does not matter.”


“I have seen your dungeons on my way here, Demon Lord. You do not have a right to moralize about causes. Are you going to deny that you have harmed innocents next?” They were a gallery of horrors that had caused even stoic Rurik to turn away. Captured villagers peeled open like frogs, their innards laid bare while still kept alive by healing magic. Rows and rows of live brains in jars. Strange experiments that mated man and beast in various ways, creating misshapen monstrosities that could not survive on their own.


You had heard of captured prisoners being experimented on, but those rumours had begun after you left the capital. You could probably start to argue about who started it first, and how experimenting on prisoners of war could be more morally justified than doing so to innocent civilians, but it would be too much of a bother to engage in such a long debate. After all, you are here for one reason only: to slay the Demon Lord. And if he is talking this much instead of immediately ambushing you with his strongest spells, he must have something in mind.

“I can’t say that you are being very convincing, Demon Lord,” you say, drawing your sword. “You’ll have to offer me something better. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can go back to lazing about.”


“That’s a bit more tempting, I must admit.”

“AHEM.” The massive demon coughs politely, and stands up from his throne. His wings stretch out, blotting out the light from the torches. The gust created from such a minor movement almost forces you to your knees to stay upright. Placing the full weight of his attention upon you, he declares: “JOIN ME, HERO, AND YOU WILL HAVE HALF OF THE WORLD IN YOUR HANDS.”

You respond:


A. “We have a deal.” It’s half of the world! How could any sane person turn down an offer like that? It would be a great start for your ambitions, a perfect package to kick off the rest of your life. When you are the ruler of half the world, you can easily laze your days away without any consequence, with more luxury and women than you know what to do with.

B. “I would rather have your daughter instead.” Ruling the world, even in name only, sounds like a hassle. Being the son-in-law of the Demon Lord that rules the world seems like an easier life. After all, you do not discriminate. A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, no matter the species, and the demon princess is quite possibly the loveliest girl you have ever seen.

C. “I refuse!” It is an insult to think that you would bow to the fiend that you have been fighting so long against. Humans are livestock to him: the Demon Lord cannot be trusted. The Hero’s Medal shines brightly, giving you confidence to fight. What sort of betrayer would you be to turn against your allies when the enemy is pushed to the brink? Besides, if you actually wanted the trouble of ruling half the world, you’d plan for that yourself.

An Offering to the King of Demons

An Offering to the King of Demons

“I would rather have your daughter instead,” you say, half in jest. Surely he would not agree. But if he did, you would consider the offer rather seriously. It would be as good as marrying into royalty. Sure, there was that little issue of possibly becoming the greatest traitor the human race has ever known, and betraying all that your comrades have died for, but would it not be easier to change the world by showing them that: yes, demons and humans can coexist?

That would be a nicely noble excuse to give everyone later on, you think to yourself in satisfaction. The perfect excuse for you to get your hands on those perfect spheres of magnificent wobbling.

The cube containing the Demon Lord’s daughter shudders as she unleashes a dazzling flurry of powerful punches and kicks on the dark walls, silently screaming what you can only assume to be demonic profanities. You begin to wonder if she might not actually do the impossible and break free. She has clearly picked up on your words – and perhaps your lecherous intent – and she does not like it. Not one bit.

The Demon Lord is silent, his massive bulk towering above you. When he speaks, it is in a slightly softer tone of voice than before.


“Yes,” you wink. “Your lovely daughter.”


“A hero,” you correct him. “I am not without my strengths.” You would have wagered some money on him being angered by the very idea, but to your surprise, the Demon Lord actually appears to be intrigued. You are entirely unsure how this will play out now.


That’s right. He was never going to agree so easily. You saw it coming a mile away. “So it comes down to this, does it? I will not attack my comrades-“


“This thing? It’s just a cheap piece of silver,” you say quickly. Why would he want the medal?


The Demon Lord is very insistent. Hesitantly, you place one hand over the Hero's Medal. There is something strange about it at the moment. The surface is warm, and it appears to be vibrating in a gentle yet somehow slightly menacing manner. When you close your hand around the medal and pull, the vibration begins to intensify. It feels like a warning to you: a warning not to betray your heart of justice, a reminder from the Goddesses to stay on the path of light. Are you doing the wrong thing? Is this an ill-advised rejection of your destiny? The act of merely thinking about giving the medal to the Demon Lord is causing you to sweat where a hundred-strong demon army had failed.

“IT LOOKS LIKE YOU CANNOT DO IT AFTER ALL?” The Demon Lord is not surprised: this does not seem to be an unexpected outcome for him.

“I…” Your fingers tighten around the Hero’s Medal…


A. You rip the Hero’s Medal off and throw it at the Demon Lord.

B. You leave the Hero’s Medal where it is.

The Hero’s Destiny

The Hero’s Destiny

“Of course I can. Who the hell do you think I am?” You rip the Hero’s Medal off, suppressing the ever-growing mountain of doubt over your actions. As the Medal comes free, it shudders violently. You feel something inside you snap, like a thread being cut.

“IMPRESSIVE,” murmurs the Demon Lord thunderously. He does seem genuinely impressed. “THE PUPPET CUT ITS OWN STRINGS.”

“Here, you can have this. As we agreed,” you say, flicking the medal at him. The Demon Lord raises one massive claw to catch the spinning emblem, but it never arrives at its destination. Suspended in mid-air, the medal spins wildly.

The Demon Lord’s fiery eyes widen. “NO, THAT IS-“

He roars an incantation, calling forth a barrier of absolute darkness.

As the realization sinks in, you try to throw up all of the protective spells that you can muster.

The Hero’s Medal shatters. A pure white light bursts outwards, washing everything away. The floor disintegrates beneath your feet, turned into dust by the destructive force of the explosion. Your spells are shattered without giving even the slightest bit of resistance. The radiance burns your armor away, sears your flesh, blackens your bones.

You do not even have time to scream.


“Was it clever insurance against your betrayal, or was this meant to be the means of the Demon Lord’s destruction, all from the start?”

You stir, excruciating pain rushing back in to meet you. You almost wish you had not regained consciousness. Your sight is blurry, and your field of vision is limited. You can barely move your arms, and you feel nothing below the waist. Every sound that you can hear is overlaid with a painful buzzing.

“Thus is the fate of those who go against the Goddesses’ will.”

You recognize the voice. Althus. Squinting, raising your head slowly, you see him standing over you. Kyle is there too. Lobelia too. They look tired and wounded, but they seem to have survived the blast a lot better than you did. If they cast a healing spell on you, you could still survive this.

“Did you really betray us?” Kyle says heavily, panting. At that moment, from the tone of his voice, you instantly know that you are not getting any healing of any sort, not from them.

“The devastation you see around us is proof, Master Theseon. It is the anger of the Goddesses manifest in this world, brought down by their champion’s betrayal. In so doing he has twisted the fates of not only himself, but other innocents who were not meant to perish here. I can feel the Goddesses’ sorrow deeply within me that such a thing has come to pass.”

Seeing your puzzled expression, Lobelia explains, “Syke is nowhere to be found. Rurik and Mieren are dead. The explosion killed them. Rurik was blasted to pieces. Of Mieren, we could only find an arm.”

As it probably did nearly everything else in the castle, demon warriors and human prisoners alike. That is probably your fault if Althus is telling the truth. The Demon Lord’s massive, mangled bulk lay just in front of you. He seems to have taken the worst of the attack. Of his daughter, there is no sign. You remember seeing – just before the light swallowed everything up – the Demon Lord reinforcing the cage around his daughter rather than protecting himself, but you are not sure if even that was enough. The black spire itself, a mountain of obsidian rock taller than the highest human towers, has been all but destroyed by the explosion.

“As for us, we survived because the Goddesses have selected Master Theseon as their true hero,” Althus says. “The former hero betrayed his destiny and joined the Demon Lord. Master Theseon’s righteousness marked him as the real hero, and thus he was granted the power to defeat both villains and save the day with his loyal followers.”

Lobelia remains silent. She would usually bristle at the implication that she was anyone’s loyal follower, but this time, she remains silent.

Kyle raises his sword reluctantly and says, “Even if you are a traitor to humanity, you are still my friend. I will end your suffering.”

Gathering up all your strength, you attempt to speak from your ruined throat. “Kyle… my friend…”

“If you have any last requests, I will honor them,” he intones solemnly.

“…I still have the bigger dick.”

“Such crude words even while facing death. You have no honour at all,” grimaces Althus. “The Goddesses must have seen this coming all along, and selected you for this reason.”

Kyle chuckles despite himself, glancing downwards at the lower half of your body. “Not anymore, no.” He moves to drive the sword through your chest.


With a loud clang, his sword is knocked aside. Kyle staggers, having been pushed back by a powerful blow. Looking at the person now standing in between you and him, he smiles happily. “Mieren. You’re alive!”

Clutching the wound where her arm had once been, Mieren glares back. “What is this? Why are you trying to kill him?”

“He betrayed us all. I am just doing him a favour by ending his pain. More importantly-”

“Even if he did, it is not our place to punish him. He must have had his reasons!”

Ah, yes. ‘Reasons’. If you are physically able to squirm guiltily at this time, you would.

“Heal him, bring him back to the Seven Kingdoms, and have him stand trial when he is better. Let him defend his own actions,” continues Mieren.

“No. His destiny ends here, with his betrayal,” states Althus flatly. “Any other outcome is blasphemy.”

Kyle approaches Mieren, extending one hand in a reasonable and friendly manner. “Come on, Mieren. Think about it. He would have killed us all. He sided with demons. He already caused Rurik’s death because of his betrayal.”

“Rurik died protecting me, and yes, he will have to answer for that. But not this way. Something feels wrong about this situation, and until I find out what it is, I’m not leaving his side, Kyle.”

“Why do you always… always…” Kyle grits his teeth, visibly enraged. Tousling his beautiful blonde hair, he murmurs, “Do you like him that much? Then you can share his fate, traitor.”

Unable to help, you can only watch helplessly as Mieren engages Kyle and Althus in battle. Her red hair streaming brilliantly behind her, she dodges, kicks, and parries their slashes and spells with a strength borne of desperation. Even with one arm, she is holding her own against the other two. Had she always been this strong?

“Tiger Cannon Fist!” Mieren unleashes a powerful punch that drives Kyle stumbling to the ground, throwing up a cloud of dust. Turning around, she delivers a kick that knocks Althus away before he can finish incanting his spell. Then, as she leaps towards the fallen Kyle to end the fight, Lobelia acts.

“Mie... Mieren!” you shout, a croaking gasp that fails to reach her ears.

“Icestorm.” Countless sharpened icicles materialize as a freezing gust of wind chills you to the bone. They rain down upon Mieren like a hail of arrows. She dodges the first dozen. Parries the rest with her arm and legs. The last icicle gets her, embedding itself deep into her stomach. Her blood, spurting into the air, freezes almost instantly. Kyle rises, his eyes full of determination. He steps towards the wounded Mieren, before she can recover, and he cuts her head off.

It bounces on the ground, rolling until it rests right at what remains of your feet. Mieren’s head. Her eyes are looking straight at you, the expression blank. They blink once, twice, and then fall still forever.

“Stupid wench,” spits Kyle. He begins to advance upon you, wielding the sword that took Mieren’s life. “Well, you have no need to fear loneliness. I will send him to join you soon enough.”

The ground begins to quake. Large cracks criss-cross the area, widening into fissures that separate you from your former friends. As the rock begins to split, Kyle cries out, “What is going on, Althus?”

“The… the demon world is collapsing! Upon the Demon Lord’s death, nothing is keeping it together anymore! I fear that whatever remains here will soon be swallowed up into oblivion! Let us go!” shouts Althus.

The heroes flee, leaving you for dead. They would have a bright future ahead of them as the saviours of humanity. All the highest accolades the Seven Kingdoms could confer, those would be theirs. They could even declare a Month of Laziness if they wanted.

You, on the other hand, would die here. Your name would be reviled as that of a traitor. Your family would pay the price for your betrayal. Perhaps your father would be put to death. Perhaps your sister would be tortured before meeting her end. At best, they would be ostracized, exiled from their homes. You are under no illusions that the people would not seek some form of retribution against the one who betrayed their hopes.

Yet they were the ones who dragged you from your comfortable bed, the ones who saw through your feigned madness, the ones who elected you Hero against your wishes.

The ground falls, somehow falling upwards into the sky, and you sink into darkness.


You can no longer tell which way is up and which way is down. You cannot see anything anymore. You know that you are dying, that you will not last even a few more minutes. Even so, you cannot let it end here. Blindly, you crawl forward.


Somehow, you hear the Demon Lord’s voice. There is a wet, tearing noise, that of flesh being ripped apart.


The voice fades away. Your sight returns. The corpse of the Demon Lord sits in front of you. His chest is torn open, and in one hand, stretched out as if offering it to you, is his black heart, still pulsating and beating. You can sense powerful energies still emanating from the massive organ, though it is rapidly weakening with each passing second.

You reach out for it.

It is slippery to the touch, throbbing underneath your torn and broken fingers.

A hunger wells up inside you, despite your misgivings.

It is the hunger of survival, that which all men must confront at the brink of death.

You have no intention of starving it.

Opening your jaw wide, you bite into the Demon Lord’s heart.


Chapter One: A New World


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The power obtained from the Demon Lord’s heart surges through and around you. It seeps into your body, rebuilding it, changing it…


A. Your flesh starts to decay and fall away, leaving only bone. You are becoming undead.

B. A burning heat rises in your body as your skin hardens into scales. You start to take on the aspect of a dragon.

C. Fur begins to sprout along your arms, and your fangs lengthen. Your bestial nature stirs.

D. Horns erupt from your skull, bat-wings from your back, and a barbed tail from your spine. The demonic energies have taken form.

E. Glowing wings emerge behind you, shedding feathers of light. A bright halo appears above your head, awakening your angelic state.

F. Your skin becomes translucent and jelly-like, as does the muscle and bone underneath. You lose all solid form and become a slime.

G. The power restores your body to its human state, repairing and regressing your physical form to the extent that you are now a baby again. But you are the strongest baby in history.


Awakening in the Ruins

Awakening in the Ruins

When you come to, you find yourself in the middle of a small clearing, as bare as the day you were born. Your injuries from the explosion have been healed: your right eye has returned, as has everything below your waist, including the important parts. It had not come without a price, however. The meaty, bloody taste of the Demon Lord’s heart rises up in your mouth as you recall what you did. Unable to hold back, you vomit from the sheer memory of the disgusting ordeal. Nothing comes out but thin drool. Coughing and gasping, you wince in pain.

Something had happened when you ate the Demon Lord’s heart. Something has changed.

As you clutch your naked shoulders, shivering, you feel something brush your fingers. It is a wing. Your wing, you realize, and there are two of them. They are magnificent specimens as far as wings go, majestic in size and sporting downy white feathers that are comfortable to the touch.

This has been the strangest day ever. First… everything that happened in the Demon Lord’s castle. Then… this. Your wings flap clumsily. Though you have no idea why they are there, or what you have become, you are beginning to suspect that you are no longer human. But what exactly you have become... that is probably something you can only find out in the days to come.

As you begin to calm down, you start to observe your surroundings more keenly. You are no longer in the Netherworld - the sunny day and peaceful atmosphere attests to that. But where are you, exactly?

The clearing’s true identity appears to be a small room – what you had thought to be tree trunks at first glance turn out to be stone pillars overgrown with moss and vines. There were also actual trees, growing through cracks in the walls, their trunks twisted as they reach out for as much light as they can get. The floor is cracked and overrun with weeds, to the extent that you can barely feel it with your hands. Above you, the ceiling has collapsed in places, allowing some light to pass through. That is also where most of the vines have wound up, their green leaves eagerly taking in the sunlight.

You do not recognize the style of architecture – it is unlike any you have seen in the Seven Kingdoms, nor is it demonic in origin. Strangely enough, you recognize some of the rubble strewn around you as belonging to the Demon Lord’s castle: the scars of battle are clear, and they are not as aged as the surrounding stone.

You have not slept for thousands of years then. It is not a matter of when. As you begin ruling out the possibilities, only one remains: how did you get here? Transportation. Teleportation. But why?

As you look around the clearing, you discover words carved into tablet-like protrusions on the pillars. The script is alien to you – though it bears some resemblance to what you have seen of demonic writing, you cannot be certain that they are related. You run your hand past the carvings, feeling the rough grooves beneath your fingertips. Lobelia would probably be interested in this, you think idly.

The memory comes back to you unbidden. Mieren being impaled by Lobelia’s icicle. Kyle cutting her head off. Your fingers clench involuntarily, cracking the stone and possibly damaging what would have been classified as a national historical treasure, were this place monitored by a kingdom keen on preserving history.

Kyle. Althus. Lobelia. They killed Mieren, and they would have killed you. As you think about them, you feel…


A. Anger. You will not take their betrayal lying down. You will find your way back to the Seven Kingdoms, and the traitors will pay, one way or another.

B. Indifference. If you should cross their path again, then you will decide what to do with them. Before that happens, you will not waste any time thinking about those traitors.

C. Mercy. What they did, they must have done for a reason. After all, you did betray the Goddesses first. You let go of the grudge. An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.


You shake your head, trying to focus again on the present instead of the past. You take a look around again. You cannot stay here forever, after all. There are three passages leading from the clearing, and you wonder which one you should take…

Suddenly, you hear the splash of water, and a gentle, melodious humming from one of the passages. It sounds like a woman’s voice…


A. You climb a narrow pathway winding above you, into a passage between the stones. You should get a better vantage point if you head upwards.

B. You take the large stairs heading down into darkness. There is a rank smell coming from within: it means that there is something living there.

C. You head towards the side passage where the humming is coming from. You are merely curious. It is not because you are hoping to see something nice. Really.

D. You did not spend all those nights learning teleportation for nothing! Focusing strongly on the mental image of the outskirts of the capital, you cast the spell.

An Unexpected Reunion

An Unexpected Reunion

You follow the sound of the humming. Though the melody echoing off the corridor’s weathered walls is light and sweet, there is a hint of sadness permeating the tone. You wonder who the voice belongs to. As you travel along the narrow passage, you notice that the shadows are not as deep as you would expect. They shift when you move – as if you were radiating a circle of light. Strange. You do not remember casting Orb of Light. The humming stops, interrupted by a loud splash of water.

Casting nervous glances all around – it reminds you of the time you inadvertently sprung the trap of the luminescent man-eating worms deep within the tunnels of Acbar, and how they got the jump on you from above, and how Rurik calmly shot them all off with his bow – you suddenly recognize that the light seems to move along with your head. Almost as if…

You reach up. There it is. A strange, flat, disc-like shape – no, it is a ring, you realize, as your fingers close around the edges – hovering above your head. It budges slightly when you pull at it, but no more. What a strange thing. Since it does not seem to be doing you any harm; at least, nothing you can sense, you decide to leave it be for the moment. Just then, the humming starts up again, and you decide to press on.

Reaching the end of the passage, you see a larger clearing identical to the one you awakened in – this is perhaps five or maybe six times the size of that room. There is a waterfall streaming in from an opening at the top, and a pool has formed underneath it. A girl is there, washing herself at the center of the pool.

You recognize the beautifully slender yet enticingly curved body that any human woman would sell their soul for. And the silver hair, of course. It is the demon princess.

Unfortunately, you can’t quite exactly see everything from your current position. Before you can move in closer, she glances up. Her golden eyes narrow, focusing on the passage you are lurking in. She seems to have sensed your presence. The invisibility spell that you have cast shortly before arriving at the corridor’s end, out of instinct from your previous experience in such operations, melts away before her gaze.

She lets out a little squeal of surprise when she confirms your identity. Leaping from the water, her bat wings wrap themselves around her body hastily. They dissolve into seething shadow and are reformed into a black armor similar to the one you destroyed, along with an axe even larger than before.

“Definitely S-rank,” you mutter. The difficulty of peeping on her without her knowledge is definitely rated S, a rare ranking you reserve only for the toughest of opponents.

“The Hero!” the girl growls angrily. “I will get revenge for my father’s death!” She shouts a battle cry, unleashing a mighty swing from her axe that produces a shockwave, tearing apart the corridor you are standing in from a distance. You narrowly tumble out of the way and crash into the pool, but the demon princess is upon you before you can stand. You realize, too late, that the wings are weighing you down and you are yet unaccustomed to having two large, cumbersome extra appendages in battle.

“These are… wings?” You hear her wonder at the sight of your new body parts, but it does not stop her from chopping down on you with the gigantic axe.

You try to roll away. You make it, but you had forgotten to compensate for your wings yet again. The axe tears through one of your new wings excruciatingly – the left one – and slams into the pool, throwing up a large spray of water. A large fissure opens up in the ground, the waterfall now spilling into the new chasm unhindered. You grit your teeth in pain. Thankfully, the thoughtless attack has temporarily obscured your location from the angry demon princess. You have less than a second to act. From the power of her strikes, which you well understand from fighting her in the Demon Lord’s castle, Forceshield would be useless, and Displacement would be less effective thanks to the area effected by the destructive force generated through her swings. Resorting to Gigadyne is an option, but perhaps you do not need to go that far. Thinking quickly, you make your move.

As the mist dies down, the water draining to a lower level, the first thing she sees is you charging at her, fire blazing from your fingers.

“Did you think I would fall for a doppleganger?” shouts the demon, seeing through your ruse in an instant. She blocks the fire easily and spins around, whirling her battle-axe to cleave everything around her into two. Doing that, it would not matter if you were using the doppleganger to flank her.

From protection to destruction; let magic’s lifesblood burn in dazzling fury. Right before her axe connects with the clone, you finish the chant: “Spell Maximize: Mana Destruction.” You cast the spell on your own doppleganger, detonating the magic used to create it. The resulting explosion of mana rocks the entire area, blowing a good portion of the ruins apart. Irreparable damage to a national historical preservation site, most likely – you are certain that Rennock would have chewed your head off over your disregard for collateral damage, noble paladin that he was – but as a caster in wartime you had developed a tendency towards flashy spells that deal a lot of damage to a lot of people in very little time. Much easier that way, you’d found; plus such shows of force tend to make a statement and scare trouble off. Now, if you are lucky…

The smoke clears, and to your utter lack of surprise, the demon princess is still standing. The black armor is scuffed and smoking but otherwise unscathed. It was never going to be so easy, was it? You can tell that she is somehow stronger than before. Her intense wrath permeates the air, manifesting itself as a visible red aura wreathing her armor. She takes a step forward, and the earth shudders. Perhaps you will have to use your trump card after all.

“Is that the best you can do, huh? Hero? Why don’t you try that lightning spell you were so proud of again? Or do you have nothing left in your ballsack to toss at me?” She speaks in a rough and crude manner, tossing you a gleeful challenge. “You are a-“ She stops. “Y-you…” The aura of wrath wavers. “You are naked. Why?” It looks like she has only just noticed it. Her voice, even though distorted by the menacing helm, is genuinely perplexed at your state of nakedness.

“I’m about to toss whatever’s in my ballsack at you, that’s why,” you holler back.

Before she can retort, the both of you sense the arrival of something else. As one, you look towards one of the collapsed walls, where a strange creature is peeping from behind a fallen tree. It looks like a goblin of some sort, but whereas the ones in service to the Demon Lord were hairless and wrinkled, this one was furry, with large floppy ears. It looks, in fact, slightly similar to a squat, bipedal cat… and you suddenly realize that the goblins you used to slaughter by the hundreds did resemble ugly, hairless felines.


A. A slight and unbidden pang of guilt runs your heart through for an instant – but only for an instant. You have always been a cat guy, after all.

B. You do not really care about cats. Dogs are where it is at.


It looks harmless, and if it is as strong as the goblins you know, it is harmless to you – though not so much to helpless villagers – but you cannot be certain it is on that level of strength. It could be some horrible monster surpassing the Demon Lord for all you know. The furry goblin chitters in some unknown language. More and more of the critters appear, numbering in the dozens. Most of them are wielding crudely-made spears and axes, and a lucky few appear to have shields; nothing more than a plank of wood, but it would stop arrows. This grants you a bit more confidence that they are not that strong… but you have seen Layla once beat off a giant serpent with only a branch, so you are taking nothing for granted.

The lead goblin – the one you had seen first – barks out something fearfully.

The demon princess tilts her head. Then, tentatively, in a stilted manner, she replies to the goblin. It cowers, shaking its head but making no move to retreat. “Interesting. Their speech is… interesting. It closely resembles a more archaic form of my language, but it is not quite the same,” she explains absent-mindedly without your prompting. Though you are unable to see her expression behind that helm, her body language tells you that she appears to be fascinated by these creatures.

“What do they want, then?” you ask carefully and quietly.

After listening to your question, she asks the lead goblin something in that strange language. It nods desperately and replies with a long, fast chattering, at times dragging the other goblins in to pantomime actions you do not comprehend in the least.

“Something about… I’m not too sure how to pronounce that name… the lord of this land being angry if he is awoken from his slumber, and that if he does, their apologies, but we would have to become food to appease his anger because if we do not, he would eat three dozen of them, so would we powerful ones kindly leave and take our fight elsewhere before the lord wakes up. That’s what they want.” After pausing for a while, she adds, “Probably.”


“It could also mean that they are planning to have an… an o-orgy at this place and we are in the way. I’m not sure, it’s been a few decades since I last had Ancient Language studies!”

There is a guttural roar from the bottom of the hole that you and the demon princess created. It echoes upwards, causing the goblins to squeal and prostrate in fear.

“I think your former interpretation is correct,” you say.

The ground begins to tremble. Something massive is moving in the chasm’s depths. It is climbing upwards, and at a rather rapid speed. As you jump back, the monster appears: a giant with the head of a bull. Its horns are long and sharp enough to impale a man, and its oiled body ripples with a terrifying amount of muscle. The bull-headed monster clambers out of the hole – it is at least twice a man's height, if not more – and bellows. It is angry. Very much so.


A. You take the new monster on. It may be a good test to help figure out just where in the hierarchy of strength you fit in at the moment:
1. You face it head on in a physical match, fist to fist, chest to chest, one-winged man to bull-headed man.
2. You try a mid-level spell to gauge the results: Fireball. It may look strong, but perhaps its bark is worse than its bite? You can always escalate if it is insufficient.
3. You play it safe and open with a Lightning Spear, one of your most powerful attack spells. Hopefully that spell will be all you need to put this monster down: if not, you may be in for a long fight.
4. It looks like your previous statement was not strongly worded enough to scare trouble away. You will have to make a bigger one: to the demon princess, to the goblins, and to this beast. You cast a full-strength Gigadyne right at the limits of what your magical power can achieve.

B. You stay back. You’ll let the goblins or the demon princess handle this one: it is not your fight, nor do you want it to be.

C. You are not staying here a moment longer. You cast teleport and flee: it's time to go home.

Lightning Storm

Lightning Storm

The ferocious beast towers over you. Its nostrils flare widely as it snorts, blowing out a cloud of steam. Its eyes are burning red with anger, and as it lets out another earth-shaking bellow, flames run up and down its horns. Not just your normal, everyday monster, it seems. The goblins squeak and plead loudly, shaking their furry paws. Though you do not understand their language, the overall message is clear: please spare their unworthy lives. The monster hammers its fist down on the ground with tremendous force, causing the goblins to scatter and flee as far as they can, and the floor to crack even further.

“They’re calling it the… uh... Minotaur Firelord.” The demon princess shrugs, unconcerned by the beast’s display of strength. “Well, no matter what they call it, this thing is in the way.”

“It’s a bit of a pain, but let me take care of it,” you say, scratching the back of your head. Stretching out your hand, you concentrate on the spell that you want. Drawing upon your mana, you use it to change the world. The ground begins to crackle with energy, freezing the minotaur in its tracks – stunned by the electricity, it lets out a painful lowing. You call out a warning to the demon princess as a matter of courtesy. “I can't guarantee your safety if you don’t move out of the way.”

“For a spell such as this? There is no need.”

“Well… suit yourself.” The material earth will transcend and soar the skies; my will is the light of judgment that illuminates the world. Putting all you have into a single casting of the spell, you summon lightning. Bolts of glowing energy, drawn down from the clouds, strike the stone all around you. The ground quakes. More and more of the ruins begin to crackle, sparking with electricity as the effect of your magic spreads. The minotaur is now cowering in fear, unable to move. The demon princess’s posture begins to change, from unparalleled confidence into a cautious hunch. Yet you realize that you can still push yourself further. Above the roar of the thunder you can hear a high-pitched whirring, getting stronger and faster by the second. The disc above your head is spinning. And as it does so, it is somehow drawing in mana, replenishing your reserves – not faster than you can consume, but enough that this will be the strongest spell that you have ever cast in your life.

Your remaining wing becomes wreathed in electricity; from the stump of your left, blood spurts out and is transformed into lightning, molded into the shape of the missing wing. This is all rather beyond your expectations; you are not exactly sure what is happening to your body… and it is almost veering out of your control, as the spell greedily takes in everything you can give it.

“Hero… this… you are…” You can hear the demon princess shout angrily, her words drowned out by the deafening rumble of your spell. A split second later, she vanishes from sight, leaping away in a bid to escape the range of your incoming attack. You decide to end the spell before you are entirely drained. Clenching your fist, you shout out the spell’s name, ending the incantation. “Gigadyne!”

The ground underneath the minotaur’s feet disintegrates, transmuted into golden plasma by your magic. So are the remaining ruins around you. Doing your best to minimize any further damage to your surroundings, you concentrate the overwhelming flow of energy into a single, colossal pillar of lightning. There is an explosive bang of thunder as the intense heat of the pillar’s formation blasts away the air around it in a powerful shockwave. Like a vengeful dragon, the lightning roars into the skies, piercing the heavens and parting the clouds.

As the lightning dissipates, what is left behind is a molten hole in the ground the size of a small field, and scorched earth as far as you can see. Of the minotaur there is no trace – having been trapped in the epicenter of the spell, there was not even a speck of ash left of the monster.

You gasp, trying to regain your breath. Your knees feel weak, and a slight dizziness is troubling your head. It is probably not something you should make a habit of doing. A strong wind begins to blow, stirring the air around the wasteland that you have created.

“What have you become, Hero?”

Behind you, the demon princess approaches, her expression tinged with fear, fascination and uncertainty. Soot blackens her beautiful frown. Her armor is ruined again, and she has only kept enough of it to retain her modesty.

“That power… I could sense a bit of my father’s essence within it. Just what did you do? What happened after the explosion at our castle?” she asks.


A fearful yowl interrupts you. Turning around, you see a surviving goblin, creeping forward in a gesture of worshipful submission. It appears to be the one that had spoken to you first. There are a few others, some of them missing limbs from the destruction, crawling out from the rubble that had sheltered them… all in all, five lucky survivors in total. It starts saying something. You glance at the demon princess.

With a sigh, she begins to translate.

“The light of your arrival killed fifteen of our people, the earth shaking from your battle killed twenty more, and the judgment you brought down upon the lord of fire must have killed at least fifty of us. Oh, truly, you are the Shining One, the Demon God prophesized to return and bring us to paradise… and that is the gist of it,” she says in disgust. “They seem to want you to go back to their village, to rest, and to bless them. Of course, I am invited as well, as your…” She frowns at the lead goblin, who stops talking and shrinks underneath her fiery stare. She barks out something at it, and the goblin responds apologetically.

“Well, that is the gist of it,” continues the demon, as if nothing had happened. “This is a good opportunity. We can talk more easily rather than standing around here in this blasted place. Do not even think about running off. There are things you have to tell me.” Her grip on the battle-axe tightens: she is serious.


A. You agree to go back to the goblin village and recuperate there.
1. You will tell the demon princess everything. Honesty is the best policy. Covering up lies with more lies is more effort in the long run.
2. You will tell the demon princess half-truths, leaving out the scene where you ate her father’s heart. She might not like to hear that at all.
3. You will not tell the demon princess anything at all. She is not entitled to any explanations from you.

B. Teleportation is the best way for getting out of sticky situations such as this. You’re going home!

Oath of Partnership

Oath of Partnership

The goblin village lies a short distance from the destroyed ruins. It is a higgledy-piggledy collection of huts and burrows: the goblins appear to have made themselves at home wherever they could find space. There are homes carved into the massive tree trunks which even five men would not be able to encircle. There are homes dug into the ground, their only entrance a trapdoor set into a mound. As you would find it hard to fit into one of their houses, the goblins lead you to their great hall, a well-preserved stone building that is similar in design to the ruins. Along the way, every goblin villager that you pass falls to their knees immediately, touching their foreheads to the ground in awe.

Inside the hall, there is a large statue of a horned demon with three eyes. In its right hand is a staff and in its left a coiled serpent.

“That must be their god,” says the demon princess. She begins to explain what she had found out from the goblins during the journey here. According to the goblins, they worshipped a Demon God named Vaalgrahf, who once walked amongst them ten thousand years ago, and united all of the races under his harmonious rule. He was vanquished by five heroes chosen by the Five Gods of Light, and banished along with his castle to a land of eternal darkness.

“As it so happens… that is the name of my ancestor. Vaalgrahf. Unfortunately, my family history was wiped clean. There are no records from the time before Vaalgrahf, who claimed to have single-handedly created our entire line.”

“So, the ruins that we appeared at…”

“Left behind by Vaalgrahf, I would assume,” she nods. “The goblins in this village say that out of all the races, they are the only ones to have kept the faith, believing that one day Vaalgrahf would return and deliver their salvation.”

Vaalgrahf… is that who the goblins think you are? You wonder if that land of eternal darkness refers to the Netherworld.

“Well, now that you are more rested… and clothed… it is time to tell me everything,” the princess demands as she changes the subject.

You do, leaving nothing out; including the part where you devoured her father’s heart. It is better that she finds out now rather than later: you have found that the amount of effort going into the construction and maintenance of a lie often outstrips the benefits of the lie in the first place.

"So, you were betrayed," she says, her voice filled with satisfaction. "I guess you got what you deserved, for trusting humans. Was that anger in your voice that I heard? Is the Hero upset that his friends turned on him?"

You are angry, and it is an anger that is still fresh. But are you really just upset over being betrayed by those who you thought your allies?

(The choice with the highest votes will be the primary trigger of your anger, with up to two secondary reasons, except for H, which will override all other choices if it wins.)

A.The Goddesses. As the beings with ultimate power over all, they also have the ultimate responsibility. From your perspective, they betrayed that responsibility.

B. Mankind as a whole. Fools enslaved by destiny, unable to break free of their own volition.

C. The Seven Kingdoms. They called you hero and made you a scapegoat against your wishes. You never asked for this.

D. Kyle, Althus and Lobelia. They betrayed you: that is the only thing you are certain of right now.

E. Mieren's death. She did not deserve it.

F. The Demon Lord, for without him this would never have happened.

G. Yourself, for not seeing it coming.

H. All of the above, equally.


“As for what happened to you... Father never shared the full details of his work with me, but I can hazard a guess at what did happen. He was looking for a way to turn humans back into their original form.” She does not seem overly surprised, but a troubled expression creases her elegant brow.

“By original form, you mean…”

“Demons, of course. The superior life form. You humans are just degraded devolutions of our stock,” she says arrogantly.

Right, insults. You don’t feel up to arguing with her at the moment, and you let it pass. “I don’t feel human.” You flap your lone wing to emphasize the point. “But I am not a demon either, am I?”

“That is… strange,” she admits. “Perhaps there was something else to his research that I did not know, or did not understand. Or more likely, the essence of your lower-class filth was too strong for my father’s experiment to overcome.” The demon princess looks up at the arched ceiling of the hall. “Regardless, you took my father’s heart. It was the culmination of his work. It is hislegacy, and as his daughter, it belongs to me.”

“Am I supposed to just dig my own heart out and give it to you?”

“Would you?”

“No. There is no chance of that ever happening,” you reply truthfully.

“Well… even if you did, I have no use for a filthy human heart anyway. All I am interested in is my father’s legacy, and it is no guarantee that your heart will contain it.” She spins around, her black gown billowing around her, and performs a perfect curtsey. “Let us start again.”

You eye her suspiciously, though you still find time to appreciate the enticing view of her cleavage.

“I am Crown Princess Rinnefiela, the only daughter of Demon King Kimaris and sole successor to the Kingdom of Vaal. What is your name, Hero?”

You glance around restlessly. “You want my name? Did you cast a geas or something? An oath to bind me to absolute loyalty?” You cannot sense any magic at the moment, but perhaps to be on the safe side…

“Would I do something as dishonourable as that?”

She seems truly offended. You decide to believe her for now: if it is a geas that you cannot detect, then you would be helpless against her whether you gave your name or not.

“Fine. It’s Erdrick. Erdrick Mercant.”

“Erdrick… as in Erdrick, the first so-called hero that defeated Dark Lord Vaal the First? That Erdrick?”

“My parents were going through a phase.” You shrug. Why bother changing it? Sure, you had been bullied in childhood over your name, but once you had made it quite clear that you were no hero, in no uncertain terms, the bullying stopped, and they closed down the school.

Stifling her laughter, Rinnefiela composes herself and says, “Very well… Erdrick Mercant. My eyes shall be on you until the day I may regain the legacy of Demon King Kimaris, my departed father. I shall guard you from harm until that day comes to pass, as the Demon King Agares guarded his enemy’s children until he could harvest the precious gems that were their eyes. I shall not betray your trust unless it is broken first through your own actions. Will you reciprocate?” She offers her hand to you earnestly. Rinnefiela blushes, seeming to understand the awkwardness of the situation. “It is tradition,” she mutters. "An oath of partnership." You could be mistaken, but it almost sounds like a proposal of some sort. Or at least a business deal. And she does not even have the foresight to plant magical compulsion into the terms of the deal. This should be easy to ditch if you change your mind later.

Scratching the back of your head, you say, “Alright, alright. I, Erdrick Mercant, former Hero of the Seven Kingdoms and third son of the Mercant family, hereby swear that my eyes shall be on you, Rinnefiela Kimaris, until the day you regain the legacy of your father, Demon King Kimaris. I shall guard you from harm until that day comes to pass, and keep your trust for as long as you keep mine.” You take her fingers gently, lower your head, and kiss the back of her hand.

Rinnefiela stiffens. Her fingers scoot away and clench into a fist, seemingly ready to crash into your face.

“W-w-what are you doing?”

“You wanted to seal the deal, didn’t you?”

“By shaking hands!”

“You should have specified that earlier. This is how my people do it. In fact, it is the minimum level at which two people express their trust for one another, Rin.”

“Please have some more respect when addressing me, you lazy piece of slime. Do not shorten my name without my permission. It’s Rin-ne-fi-e-la,” she says slowly, as if talking to a small child, an expression of pure disdain on her face. She turns on her heel and stomps off, her large, black wings flapping unhappily as she does so.


That’s right. Your wings. Or rather, wing, with Rin having chopped off one of them and all. You wonder what you should do with it.

A. Take it off. The lopsided weight distribution is affecting your balance and making it hard for you to move around. Besides, you would be able to hide your strangeness more easily without those wings.

B. You keep it. It did grow from your own body after all, and it’s a rather pretty looking wing…


While residing in the goblin village, you are unable to communicate directly with any of them. Furthermore, it appears as if they share this language with a few other races. Relying on Rin as a translator might not be ideal in the long run…

A. You put the effort into learning the local language from scratch, getting Rin to help you. This way, your mastery will be genuine, and there will be little room for misinterpretation. You can rely on being able to speak this language whenever you want.

B. You invent an auto-translation spell that should work with any language, putting in as much effort as you would to learn a single language. It would allow you to communicate in multiple languages with ease. On the downside, you have not truly learnt anything, and if the spell fizzles, so does your comprehension of foreign languages.

C. There is no need to learn any other language when the language of electrical violence works so well. You are confident in the ability of other people to truly understand you when you are shocking them with countless volts of electricity.

D. In the penultimate expression of hardworking laziness, you decide to create as your next original magic a spell that will allow anyone to learn anything at a higher pace. You are not entirely sure where to start, as there is no prior work that you know of that hints at such a thing being possible, but you are not giving up until it is completed.

Scouting Party

Scouting Party

Two days after your arrival at the goblin village, some scouts return from the remnants of the ruins. Rin had sent them out to scavenge whatever they could from the detritus left behind by the arrival of her father’s castle. They returned with a few bags of supplies: steel armor and weapons, most of them twisted or broken. A case of blank scrolls, which could be of use to you. Half a dozen healing potions that miraculously survived the arrival.

Then, there was Mieren’s corpse.

It had shocked you to see her head and body tumble out separately from the goblins’ large travel packs. Decay had begun to set in, and her eyes remain open and staring in death.

“Oh? Is this the woman that foolishly gave her life for you?” says Rin callously, looking down at the corpse. “What a sad end.” Turning around, she sees your expression and stops. She does not say another word.

You walk silently towards Mieren’s body and kneel down. With a wave of your hand, you close her eyes.

“Wait… if they found her body, then my father’s…” Rin asks the goblins something. They shake their heads. That is right – if Mieren’s corpse could be found here, where was Demon Lord Kimaris’s body? Shouldn’t it have come through together with everything else?

But that is a mystery you will have to solve later. For now, you have to decide what to do with Mieren’s remains. Even if you were back in the Seven Kingdoms, reviving her would be near impossible for the priests, not after the decomposition has begun. Not to mention that they would rather kill you on sight than help you. You are not a powerful necromancer either; and even they have their limits, only being able to call back husks of the being’s former living self rather than achieve full resurrection. There were tales of a Necromancer Queen who could achieve such control over life and death – and was later struck down by the Goddesses for her hubris – but those were old stories dating back centuries now…


A. You have the goblins dig a purpose-built room under the great hall and you freeze Mieren’s body within it with your magic until you can find a way to bring her back to life.

B. You give Mieren’s body a decent send-off and burial. She would not want you toying about with her remains after her death.


You begin working on a spell to allow automatic translation of languages. You are uncertain where you are at the moment, and whether you will meet anyone who speaks your language, or even if the goblin language is any sort of common language for the people in this land. This way, you should be prepared, no matter what creatures you encounter.

In order to create the spell, you need a limited understanding of many different languages so as to identify the differences in linguistic rules: it would be needed to create a framework for the spell to operate within. You already have knowledge of the three common languages within the Seven Kingdoms, but that is still insufficient. You would need Rin’s help, and ideally that of a goblin.

Most of the goblins rarely venture far from their village – Grahferde – the ruins, and its surroundings, seeing themselves as the last guardians of Vaalgrahf’s legacy. Only a few have ever seen another settlement, and even fewer have interacted with non-goblins. Of those few, all but one had been wiped out by your arrival and battle with the minotaur. The chief goblin, who the others called Boss, brought his son to you. As far as goblins go, this was an even punier and scrawnier one than usual; according to Rin, he had been lost in the forest as a child, and enslaved by humans for a few years before managing to escape and find his way back to his people. At the moment, he was the sole goblin left alive that had experience with other cultures, if only because he was stuck looking after the village while the others had bravely ventured to the ruins on that fateful day.

Rin tells you his name: Runde. In his green-flecked, slitted eyes, you see a spark of intelligence beyond that of the average goblin.

As the quiet and shy Runde begins working with you on the spell, you recognize that he has a keen sense for magic. He’s not as good as you are – obviously – but he is talented for a goblin. Thanks to his help, progress on the spell turns out to be faster than you expected. Within two weeks, you have a working prototype.

Universal Translation. It will allow you to understand any speech within ear-shot, and translate your own speech into the language that the listener is most proficient in. You are not sure what will happen if the listener is equally proficient in two or more languages, but you suppose you’ll have to cross that bridge when it comes. For now, it will allow you to communicate with the goblins and learn more about them, as well as the new world you find yourself in.

From words to words; let all be understood. Murmuring quietly, you cast the spell. “Universal Translation.” Runde and Rin are your first test subjects. Looking at them, you say, “Hello. Testing. Can you hear me now?”

Rin nods. “Modern Demonic. It seems to be working as we expected… this is a useful spell coming from someone like you, I must say. Oh, and I am saying this in my own tongue, of course.”

Meanwhile, Runde is trembling, staring at you with glowing eyes. “S-S-Shining One… I hear and obey! I can hear you now!” He falls on his face and prostrates himself before you in awe. It looks like the spell is working just fine. Of course, it is not perfected yet: the mana cost is inefficient, and there is an annoying, buzzing static in your ears whenever it is active. That would take time to fix.

There is a polite but urgent knock at the door.

“Come in,” Rin says commandingly.

A tall, muscular goblin – he reaches almost up to your chest, rather than your waist like most of his kind – strides in confidently, wearing one of the few remaining helmets in good condition that they had salvaged from the ruins. He is missing an eye, an injury he displays proudly like a badge of honour. After all, it is not every day that the Demon God returns and accidentally scorches out your eyeball with a stray bolt while making an easy example of the flaming tyrant that once lorded over your kind.

Upon seeing you, he makes a salute and bows down so low that his helmet slips off, clanging on the floor. “O Shining One, and the Supreme Mistress of Darkness, Grand Princess Rinnefiela, I have urgent news to report!”

Mistress of Darkness? You glance at Rin. What has she been telling them while you had not been able to understand the language?

“Yes, what is it, Robust?” says Rin, her eyes avoiding your pointed gaze.

“Humans have invaded the ruins. They took down the Boss while he was out leading the Second Great Expeditionary Salvage Force! Only Petze made it back, and she is near death, pierced by many arrows. She… she insisted that I bring you this report at once, no matter what happened to her.”

“P-Petze?” squeaks Runde. “She… she’s dying?”

Robust does not reply to Runde, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the floor.

“How many of them are there?” asks Rin.

“I… I did not think to ask, Supreme Mistress. I am sorry. I suppose… Petze would know.” Robust bows his head even further, seeming to expect some sort of punishment. “This is my failure for wasting your time, Great Ones. Have my life as compensation for my mistake!”

You stand up from your chair. This is a pain, but it sounds like something you should investigate at least perfunctorily. “Where is this Petze?”

At the sound of your voice, a gasp of awe escapes from Robust’s mouth. “Y-Y-Your Radiant Magnificence… you deign to speak to us in our own words! We are not worthy!”

“Yes, yes, we will leave the issue of worthiness for another time,” you say impatiently. “Where is this Petze?”

“Just in front of your old statue, Shining One, she staggered her way in here and bled all over the floor, but she did not mean it! And we will clean up the blood soon, we swear! At the moment, we have our healers attending to her, but she will not survive the day…”

You walk out of your study, heading towards the statue. There, you find it is just as Robust said: a young female goblin is being attended to by the old healers, her body run through by multiple arrows. There are marks of burns and frost all over her back – it seems that the humans have brought spellcasters. Though you can see the healers are doing their best, their traditional remedies of herb poultices would not be sufficient to save her. The healers look up when you arrive and immediately flatten themselves in worship. Cries of “Shining One!” echo around the hall. Ignoring them, you make your way to Petze’s side. Her eyelids flutter and open, her large cat eyes fixing themselves on your visage. She coughs, a bloody froth spilling from her mouth. It looks like the arrows got her in the lungs too.

“My god... Sh-Shining…”

“Calm yourself, Petze. You did well to make it back here, but I need to know the details of what happened at the ruins.”

Nodding her head worshipfully, even on her deathbed, she forces herself to speak. She tells you of how when they arrived at the ruins, there were human soldiers poking around, in shiny armor. She tells you of how the Boss valiantly fought so that they could escape, and how when she last saw him, he was pinned under a dozen spears. She tells you of how she stumbled back here injured, hoping to let you know of the invaders desecrating your land.

“How many of them were there?”

More than three tens, she could not count beyond that many.

“Did they use any magic?”

She nods.

“Did they bear any emblems?”

A flag with a two-headed raven. You are not familiar with that flag – it does not belong to the Seven Kingdoms.

“Where exactly in the ruins did you encounter them?”

She tells you: it is just next to where you fought the minotaur.

Petze coughs again, and her eyes slip shut. She will not be answering anymore questions.


A. You use a healing potion on her before she actually dies. She did well to come back and you should reward her bravery. Though you are uncertain if it will work on non-humans, it is worth the experiment: even if it doesn’t, at least you now know it doesn’t before being forced into a situation where you might have to use it on yourself.

B. You do not use a healing potion on her: you only have six, with no guarantee of being able to obtain any more. It would be a waste to use such a precious resource on a goblin, as there are so many of them to go around and so little of those potions in comparison. You will let her die a hero, and save your potions for a rainy day.


Next, you need to decide what to do about the humans in the ruins. From what Petze said, they are here for a reason, and it is no coincidence that they were found next to the site of your battle. After all, you had made a very strongly worded statement that could be both seen and heard from miles away.

A. You will head for the ruins. Whether you slaughter them, capture them for interrogation, talk to them or merely observe them… you will decide that after you get there. Bringing whatever is left of the goblin fighters would not be helpful: if this is a force that can defeat you, the goblins would be slaughtered outright. On the other hand, it might not be safe to go alone either, and having secluded yourself for the past two weeks, you are not familiar with the lay of the land yet. You would need a guide. Runde or Robust should be able to take you there, while having Rin at your side would be good insurance in case you run into anything you cannot handle alone. However, you think that one of them should stay here in your absence to keep an eye on things.

You decide to go with:
(Pick two)
I. Rin
II. Runde
III. Robust

B. It is too much of a pain to set foot out of the village. You send out more goblins to spy on the humans while fortifying the village’s defenses with more walls and traps. Perhaps if you leave them alone, they will go away after getting what they want. You will only deal with them if they happen to come your way.