Everyone gathered around, making a long circle. “Come on, hurry up!” Aurora said to get last of them stop their doings and join everyone. They all were looking at me, waiting for me to start with some speech.
“First of all, I want to thank you all for taking this moment and helping me out. I heard you all agreed to that, despite knowing what’s hiding under this city. You’ve all proven yourself to have the biggest quality one adventurer could have - courage.
“I’m blessed to have all of you here, helping me. Weirdly enough, it’s always the young and new who help me, while the adventurer’s guild is nowhere to be seen,” I said jokingly. Many chuckled. “But the problem is serious. Under this city is the new Demon Lord. Usually, it takes a long time to find a new one, but not this time. And this one is as powerful as the last, if not even stronger.
“So, I want you all to promise me one thing; promise me to run. If you run out of your magical pool - run. If you discover that you can’t do anything with the weapons you have - run. If you feel that you’re getting only on our way - run. If you’re out of your resources - run. If you feel that your life is in danger - run.
“You can replenish your resources. You can lick your wounds and heal. But if you die, it’s over. Even if the worst does happen - and it very well might do - there’s always tomorrow. At least for now. People can rebuild cities. But lives will be lost forever.”
I took a step forward, looking at all of them. “Promise me!” I said loudly. One by one they all promised. Some were more serious, while others were smiling. And as Alice was the last one to promise me, I nodded.
“What about you?” Alice asked.
I chuckled. “I’m Hero. So don’t worry about me.”
I could see Alice wanting to protest, but she didn’t. She knew very well what I meant. She wanted to disagree with my thoughts, but she couldn’t. Not now.
“So, our time is limited. That demon could come out at any moment now. Tell me what you got!”
There was a moment of silence while I slowly walked back to my position in the circle and turned around to look at all those students.
Four-Eyes was the first to cough. “Yes?” I said immediately.
“Valgrathan is mentioned only once in the books. To be honest, I’m lucky that I found it. It’s in a book written by Zi Lai.” The reaction was as expected - there was mumbling. It’s a rather known name. Interestingly enough, he was part of the Akagi family. Of course, that was around a hundred years ago, and he’s long dead. But he had the power of scrying and contributed most to the knowledge of how the next Demon Lord was chosen. After all, he could look beyond the wall without going there.
“Heh. That’s intriguing,” I said, crossing my hands. “Joel was it? Continue.”
Joel nodded. “Well, it’s only written in one spot. It talks about how the previous Demon Lord, the one you killed, got into the power.” It came without saying that I couldn’t remember that demon’s name I had accidentally killed. I could barely remember Valgrathan name. It was slightly embarrassing, but I kept up my straight face and nodded.
“Long story short, there were two demons who were strong enough to become Demon Lords. So, there was a demon war. It was so brutal that adventurers didn’t want to go deep into Barrel Lands either. According to the stories, Valgrathan was the strongest Demon; many times stronger than Egmomaun.”
That’s when I nodded once more. That’s what was his name after all. Of course, I had read his name before, but I had a hard time remembering it. I was lucky that not many asked about that demon, the demon I had slain — or so they believed.
“But Egmomaun won the war because Valgrathan couldn't stay out during the day - even if Barren Lands day is very short. Egmomaun attacked Valgrathan controlled lands during the day when Valgrathan was weak, while also protecting his lands during the night. In the end, the shadow demon lost and was banished from Barren Lands. He disappeared, and nobody knew where. Most assumed that he was dead. Even Zi Lai didn’t know the truth — or didn't want to share it.”
I released a long sigh. “Well, now we do. He was probably waiting his turn for Egmomaun to die. And now that he’s dead, there’s no stronger demon than him. First, he destroys The Capital, impressing all the other demons. And then he starts counterattack towards Barren Lands.”
There was a moment of silence as everyone thought about it. I was first to chuckle. “Of course, he made a fatal mistake. He underestimated me. Now we know that he’s here, taking out the element of surprise. We just have to stop him here and now, and everything is fine."
Many grinned. Others laughed. And some stayed serious, even moaning. “So, what do we know about shadow demons?” I asked.
It seemed that many were much more prepared to answer that question.
“They are weak against the light, sunlight to be more specific.” I had to try hard not to grin. For once, I met an opponent who I countered perfectly. Except for the part that I had used all my stored magic on the water dragon. Dammit. “That leads to the second best power, which is fire.” And of course, Aldrynte was also out of her firepower. Things just got better. I looked at the student, giving him a nod of approval.
Another one continued. “The strongest element against them is cosmic and air, though, and if we are looking at elements directly. Air element because of the shadow it can burst away. Cosmic because it’s supposedly strong against anything. But I assume that no-one here has it." Of course, I had the cosmic power, but there was no way I could use it, yet.
“Anyone over here who can use air element?” I asked loudly. Only one hand raised slowly. It was a young shorter man, whose hand was shaking. “What’s your name?”
“Leron,” he said.
“Alright, Leron. Do you have a focus?”
I frowned. “Well. Try to do the best with your wand. But once you’re out, run.”
“Eh?” he murmured. "I don't think I can-"
“Don’t worry about it. Think about yourself first. We’ll figure it out. If possible, we just have to delay him until the sun comes out, and backup arrives.”
“I don't want to break your bubble, but that won’t happen,” a voice reached us from behind, as a large mouse got himself seated at the edge of the table, gasping for air. “I just checked out every adventurer’s guild area. They have been all destroyed, filled with the bodies.”
I bit my lip. So, we were too late. Valgrathan wasn’t just doing nothing underground, but he had begun his move, giving orders and controlling the ground army.
We could all hear a small earthquake. We didn’t even need to ask what was going on. It was only so obvious.
“Remember your promise!” I shouted over the room, looking at all of the students. “And if you want, you can still leave now. Nobody is forcing you to come. There's a very huge chance that you might die. But it seems that time’s up. It’s time to go and protect this city, this country and our future.”
I turned around and began to walk outside. The time was up, and it was time for a battle.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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