Chapter 2: The Demon
“I fucking can’t!”
“URGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Ignoring the terrible torture I pressed on finishing the final mile in a waddling jog.
Running on instincts to find somewhere cool away from the beating sun I found myself dashing under a tree.
My legs burned, my mind was on the verge of passing out, and my face was drenched in sweat too tired to wipe it off. I laid in the grass heaving and panting spread eagle trying to maximize the surface area the breeze could wick away my heat.
A wet towel smacked me in the face in a heavenly coolness.
“120 miles in just under 3 hours. Not bad at all.”
“Shut up. I don’t want to hear your voice right now, it rings in my ears and it pisses me off.”
“Hahaha! Good! Then it means you’re still listening to me.”
Talking to me was the demon knight put in charge of my training. Not the royal knight captain like Hiromi got nor a member of said royal guards. A simple knight captain the first son, kinda, of a rising baronetcy looking for a hero to nab into their forces.
It’s been four weeks since we’ve been summoned and because of this evil sick man every day has been absolute hell for me.
Without being blessed it meant more than just not having some innate ability it meant I was left as I was when I first arrived in terms of physical ability and magical ability. The bastards with the blessings could probably run 150 miles in the same 3 hours the day we arrived.
After a few more huffs I crawled on my back and was able to prop myself against the tree that had been shading me.
Demon, I mean Damon extended his hand. In it was a large vial filled with a purple liquid, “Drink it.”
After experiencing this so many times I didn’t bother to say anything and wolfed it down feeling my entire body be replenished and nourished.
Closing my eyes for a few more breezes I got back to my feet. Demon, I mean Damon also got up smiling with his stupid and angelic handsome face hiding away his twisted personality.
“Let’s go! I’m sure you could do 130 miles five minutes faster now.”
“130!? If I can’t do 140 I’m gonna fucking kill myself and be done with this shit. I told you that day the moment I feel like I’m stagnating I’ll kill myself.”
Maybe already used to my curses Damon only laughed without a care and began stretching with me as if to mock me because the speed I ran at was nothing but a brisk jog for him.
Soon if I can break 150 then I would have caught up to the current slowest bitch with a blessing and start working on body strengthening.
After a hopping a few times I placed one foot after the other before me and my feet began to pick up speed into a run.
“You won’t get to 140 at this speed you know.”
“ARGHHHHHHH” I grunted as I put more power into my feet.
“Gahaha there you go, but didn’t I say not to waste your breath with grunting? Calm down, focus your breathing, and circulate your mana like a looping river coiling within you.”
Not wanting to see his sweatless face talking so casually while running besides me I sped up only to hear his again laughter from behind.
Speeding up after my mana began to run a little smoother I was irked that his reminder helped me get away.
Four Weeks Prior
Shit! No blessing? Me!? Fucking me!?
I chewed on my lip hearing those words. Filled with so many thoughts about the stability of my future I couldn’t formulate a single plan of action. The princess looked as gentle as ever and the king nor the other old man had a change in their expression but from the feint frown in her eyes, the same appearing on her father, I could tell they were not pleased.
Leaving would be the best choice and trying to survive on my own might not be a bad choice now.
As my thoughts soared far and wide on what to do the beautiful princess walked down from steps of the throne stopping before us. Her beautiful hair shimmering in the abundant daylight afforded from the large windows showing how little justice the dreary basement where we were brought did her.
“Everyone, I’m sure you’re all tired and much to process. I’ll guide the transport crystal to the the Shining Palace and send a message to call you for dinner later. Coming for dinner is not mandatory but I would love to chat and discuss with you more. And if you desire anything the staff we have there will be glad to be of your assistance.”
Smiling so brightly she looked at our pleased faces just watching her gentle voice talk and lull us.
“Ah, and in a week’s time there will be a ball to commemorate the arrival of the heros. I hope to see you all in attendance.”
With a demure smile and a tilt of her head she bowed to us then began to lead us away. All of us including me where entranced and followed her back out into the hallway then into a smaller room with a crystal steele.
“With just a single touch you will be transported to the palace. The head maid there will lead you to your accommodations. I hope they will be to your standards.”
With that she left as one by one we touched the steele disappearing into thin air. Maybe due to the princess’ residual charm no one even batted an eye at the teleportation.
Instantly my location changed into a foyer.
High ceilings, dozens of chandeliers, masterwork masonry, and an abundance of pure white seamless marble giving the appearance that the entire building might have been carved out of a single piece.
Calling this a palace is no joke. The opulent but tastefully decorated walls , the incredible calm yet proud to serve demeanor of the attending servants, and the sheer detail in cleanliness was staggering. This was a palace made for leisure for royalty — a world renown 5 star hotel on Earth would be the real joke compared to this.
Everyone had looked to be in awe and one by one we were separated by an attractive butler or maid of our choosing. There wasn’t anything that wasn’t a pleasure to look at.
Witnessing them going all out made me suspicious if they were trying to get us hooked. Showing this as a “hey if you do good for us look at the life you get!” type of thing.
I have to adapt quickly. I have to make use of the time I have before everyone realizes I’m useless. I’m so fucked by not having one and honestly maybe honestly I should look for a quick poison so I can end it if things gets too messed up. The magic showing us the war is a good sign of the fucked up shit that could happen to me.
Thinking about it now…
Wasn’t that also a warning to us? Indirectly showing us if we leave we’ll be targeted and get captured by the empire? Would these dogs would leak our whereabouts if we decline helping them?
I clicked my tongue. The screams and the stench of what they showed put me in a daze unable to process this thought until now.
Well its not like if it would have mattered what I realized because at the moment I’m powerless. If I had a blessing…
Ugh there is like no point in wondering.
Standing before me were neatly lined rows of servants. To my right were all women and to my left all men. We were asked to pick whomever we wanted to assist us for messages, clothes, errands, and as human alarms.
Who to pick…
I was the last one out of my choosing but there were still plenty of these pretty people left. I wanted someone who I could trust but also control and also capable. Of course I knew its impossible to have all three immediately so just capable was fine.
Scanning my eyes over one girl stood out. She had soft pink lips and fair skin with beautiful gentle curls of a platinum-purple hair. Curious I walked up to her and met her gaze. Her violet eyes they were stood unmoved like a still lake surface.
“What is your name?” I asked her.
“I am Ixus, young hero.” She said in a clear cold voice without a inkling of nervousness then closed her eyes and gave a small bow.
Her air seemed a little aloof. I wanted to assume it was due her believing she was capable of handling anything thrown her way giving her the confidence to be so indifferent.
I like her. I judged on a slight whim. Gut feelings and instincts are a real thing so if she caught my attention to this extent it must mean something.
If she is the type to warm up slowly then that’s fine and if she is just a cold mean bitch instead of the cold and aloof person then I’ll drop her.
At the moment only a few people know what kind and who has blessings. So for now I at least have some weight with my words.
“Ixus, what a pretty name. I’ve decided I’ll choose you.”
“You’re too kind young hero.” She bowed again my words showing no trace of having affected her.
“If it’s no trouble I would like you as my only attendant focused on only me staying by my side at all times during my stay is there anyone I need to speak with to allow this?”
Ixus looked to her right towards an older, but still extremely beautiful, woman standing apart from the rows silently.
“It is no problem hero Aheni. I will clear Ixus of all her other duties.”
“Good, thank you.”
I nodded my head making sure not to bow then turned my eyes back to Ixus.
“Then, I’m feeling a bit tired could you lead me to my room?”
“As you wish, if you will please follow me.” She said and began walking with her back perfectly straight and hands together at her front her long hair bobbing behind her.
Soft steps filled the palace halls, dampened from the thick patterned carpet, as I followed Ixus. Honestly it was a bit embarrassing trying to copy the princess’ manner of speech.
Is it her slender statue that made her movements look refined? I wondered as I watched her delicate movements so perfectly controlled.
“180 miles in under two and a half hours. You weren’t lying when you said you wouldn’t let me down.”
“uhhhhhhh” Everything was ringing, my vision was black, I couldn’t even formulate a response from the sheer drain the run had on me.
Did I hear something?
“Oh my, it really took a toll on you this time. C’mon lean back for me and tilt your head a little.”
I could hear him talking but it seems my brain didn’t have the capacity, or blood flow, to remember. I could feel the words enter in an echo and leave from the other ear.
“There you go, now drink it. Yes like that, slowly, and another one. Good just keep drinking it.”
Little by little I began to regain my awareness as a cool liquid slid down my throat disappearing before hitting my stomach spreading its stamina recovering magic all throughout.
“We-re you saying something earlier?”
“I was just saying you did 150 miles right at 3 hours. Good job, really. ”
My eyes narrowed.
“You’re such a fucking bastard. That was at least 175 miles significantly under 3.”
“Huh, I think you’re right. It was so slow I might’ve gotten bored and forgot to keep track.” He said unfazed with his hand over his mouth in a show of shock.
I glared at him for a moment but then turned away to wipe off some sweat.
“Well, we can start your strength training ahead of time now as well as begin combat training. Did you decide what association you wanted to join?”
“I decided it a while back ago when you asked. The most prestigious, the most powerful, and the most exclusive.”
“You want to join the Dimensional Reapers?”
“Pfft…” Damon clutched his stomach and fell over in a fit of laughter.
“What the fuck? Why are you laughing?”
Trying to stifle his laughter into a giggle he looked up at me from the floor only to break out into hysterics again.
“You’re too funny Eni.” He said wiping a tear from his eyes then looked at me.
“How much do you know about the Dimensional Reapers? You know they’re older than both our kingdom and the Agerian Empire. They only personally recruit and I’ve been with you everyday since we met not once have I seen a member even near you.”
I can run 170 plus miles non stop. Why wouldn’t they want me?”
“Y-you think 170 miles means anthing! AHAHAHAHHHAHAHA”
“You’re being so damn rude again. Like shut up.” “I’m being serious you bastard. I’ve already sent them a message and they replied with an actual letter basically said to come to their headquarters in the capital whenever.”
Damon’s laughter stopped.
“What’s with that face? Huh? What’s with the silence?”
“Did they truly reply?” His playful voice was gone.
“Uh yeah?? I don’t mess around with my future. I’m trying my best to survive in this world, I told you this. We had a deal and I intend to keep my side and get strong.” I flipped my palm summoning a piece of parchment from my storage ring.
Damon took the letter and began inspecting every inch of it putting the insignia up against the sun. It’s silver threaded embroidered insignia glittered brightly.
“Y-you weren’t kidding.”
“Holy shit sorry for doubting you, really. Forgive me for laughing earlier…” He handed the letter back to me.
The mood dampened.
“It’s fine. Ugh, I didn’t think it would be this serious. Don’t feel bad I mean I’m just a blessless nobody right now. Just don’t go back on your word and support me well.”
Damon’s face brightened.
“Yes sir!” He yelled jumping up and stiffly saluting.
“Pfft what the hell is that? Was that your attempt to liven the mood back up?”
Damon scratched his head with a half smile.
“Did it work?”
I couldn’t help but chuckle.
“No not really. Come I’m starving take me to go get food.”
“Shut up with that, stop screaming it so close to my ears. It freaking rings still.”
“Sorry sir! Hero sir!” He yelled walking right besides me.
“Arghh my damn ear. You’re such a kid shut up!” Unable to bear the loudness I tried to nudge him away but he was too nimble and easily dodged my shoulder.
“Hero sir! You asked me to stand by your side sir! You can’t get rid of me like that sir!”
Ahhh my poor hearing. How is he so loud? Is he using his wind magic?
Irked I couldn’t get him away I continued to try and push him only to fail and even touching his clothes.
“So annoying, whatever. ”
“Just wait till reaper gives me some techniques I’m gonna use them to beat the shit out of you as pay back for being such a dick all the time.”
Damon smirked seeing he had won whatever little game this was and skipped besides me in triumph as we made our way through the single dirt road that connected the Highmark Baronet’s training grounds to his family’s estate for lunch.