240. Promises Kept
The news came just as Saffron thought it would. It was a complete and total wipeout— the Valiant Dreamers Company fled Nixa, returning to the Sunmere Republic as the Iron Champions were utterly crushed. Death and destruction. Wherever the Primeval Demon went, it left behind a trail of corpses.
Among them was the former leader of the Valiant Dreamers Company, Baris Slydrift. Or at least, that used to be what he was called when his family was still of the nobility. Their family had been Vampires— tasked to protect an artifact of Alexander’s. Just like the Merryster Family and the Norwood Family and others. Yet, when the Slydrift family lost everything, no one came to help them. The Sword of Alexander was abandoned.
And now, it was in the hands of the Primeval Demon.
It was ridiculous. Saffron thought it was ridiculous. The old guard were nothing but fools, and her friends wouldn’t listen to her. No Vampires would. They were doing their jobs purely out of tradition— a formality. Nothing more.
They didn’t actually expect the Demons to return. Despite what every Vampire was told since their birth. A phrase that was ingrained forever in Saffron’s mind.
Regnorex is at the gates.
The Demon King was coming, and no one was prepared. Well, it was a bit of an over exaggeration to say that absolutely nobody cared about it. However, those who were apathetic far outnumbered those who were readying themselves.
Saffron was one of them. She’d been setting up meetings— speaking with those who cared. Gannon Norwood was one of them. Messages were being exchanged, but progress was slower than she’d like. But there was progress. Olivier of the Veridian Family, another of the greater Vampire families, had replied to her. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as influential as Gannon was in his own family.
“It’ll all fall apart.”
She whispered as she stared at the message inscribed before her. Her eyes flickered. She sat at a bench just outside of her dormitory. A figure walked past her, grinning.
“Hey, what are you doing out here? I was searching for you!”
Salvos, a Demon disguising herself as a Human, sauntered up to Saffron. Here was a Demon approaching a Vampire without any apprehension. Neither side bore animosity against each other despite knowing of their true natures. It was odd— they were supposed to be archenemies, no?
But no. Saffron bore no ill will towards her friend.
“It’s nothing, Salvos. I was simply getting some fresh air.”
In fact, the noble Vampire saw something in Salvos she shouldn’t have seen.
“Are you sure? If there’s a problem, I can help you out, Saffron! I’m a genius, remember?”
“Sure you are. I’ll hold you to that.”
Saffron smiled as she crumpled the piece of paper in her hands.
My finals were in three days' time, and the Devil hadn’t returned. That meant I could focus most of my time studying! I happily skipped my way to class alongside Saffron, my companion.
“So, are you ready for your finals, Saffron?”
“I… am less prepared than I’d like to be.”
The noble woman replied after a moment of hesitation. I cocked my head.
“I’ve just been preoccupied with some other matters— nothing for you to concern yourself with.”
She shook her head as she started past me, turning left at the intersection. My eyes narrowed.
“Wait, where are you going? Isn’t your morning class that way?”
I gestured in the other direction, but she simply waved a hand off.
“I’ll be there. First, I have to settle something else. See you after classes, alright?”
I trailed off, watching her go. With a shrug, I continued going to my class. After all, I was busy. Once today ended, there was just a weekend, and I’d be busy all of next week. I had to do well for my first final examination for this school term.
So, I remained focused in class. But unfortunately, not everyone else could maintain the same level of focus as me. Apparently, lecturer Claudia had other things in her mind. She approached me before our class started.
“Salvos, could I speak to you for a minute?”
She led me out of the lecture hall. I glanced around, confused.
“Why did you need to speak with me?”
“It’s about… what happened a few weeks back.”
“A few weeks back?”
I raised a brow, and she nodded.
“Yes. About… him.”
I paused. My eyes widened and I shifted back.
“R-right, about that. I have to apologize for his—”
The elderly woman gave me a puzzled look. She waved a hand off and squeezed her cheeks.
“No, no, no! There’s nothing to apologize for. I was just wondering if your father has already… left. Returned home to where he came.”
I blinked. I stared at my lecturer as she mumbled to herself. I opened my mouth.
“Actually, he’s not—”
“You see, I was hoping to… invite your father to dinner! Well, not for a date or anything like that. Why would you even suggest that? No, no. I just wanted to give him… a full report! About your performance in class. I’m sure he’d love to hear about how you did overall this academic term, right?”
Claudia gave me a hopeful look. She was blushing like a young maiden— a rose in full bloom. I took a deep breath, trying to find the right words to say. When nothing came to mind, I simply grabbed her by the shoulders, holding her gaze.
She jerked back as if she’d been knocked out of whatever fantasy that was filling her mind. I spoke simply.
“Sal is never coming back. Ever again.”
Her shoulders sagged, and I started past her.
“Now, can we return back to class? I have a final exam to take next week.”
Surprisingly and unsurprisingly, that wasn’t the last time I had to deal with the consequences of the Devil’s appearance in Mavos Academy. I had to placate Veronica Adash, and apologize to Professor Isais.
Veronica, somehow, reacted even worse than Claudia’s dejected acceptance.
“He’s never coming back ever again?”
She placed a hand on her chin, and I eagerly nodded, pretending to be upset.
“Yep. I was bummed out to hear about it, but he… had to get some milk or something.”
“Milk? Can’t you get milk at any farm or city?”
“Not just ordinary milk! He wanted…”
I hesitated, trying to come up with anything. Then a stroke of genius brushed over me.
“That’s right! Rock milk. Milk from a piece of rock. It’s incredibly rare— apparently, it’s something that’s needed to create a Potion of Immortality!”
“I thought those didn’t exist?”
Veronica furrowed her brows, and I shrugged.
“Don’t ask me. That’s what he said. So, he’s never coming back, probably.”
Her expression didn’t change. Her face remained scrunched up as if in deep thought. I sighed in relief, hoping that was it, but instead, she snapped her fingers.
“Very well then. I guess I’ll simply have to find him once I have regained my kingdom.”
Veronica nodded with determination to herself.
“A princess does not give up on the man she loves.”
“You only met him once!”
“And that’s how I know it’s love at first sight.”
I groaned. That sounded so dumb. It was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. A princess was supposed to be pretty and elegant— like me. Love was stupid. I didn’t know why Humans obsessed over it so much.
Now as for Professor Isais— despite being the one who was humiliated by the Devil, he responded far better than the former princess’ insistence of true love.
“I’m so sorry for what Sal did. I know he completely derailed class last time around, but I swear that won’t happen again!”
“It is fine, Salvos.”
Isais chuckled as he sat at his desk. Class ended early today after an hour of revision, and he asked to speak with me when it was over. I knew what it was about, so I was preemptive in my response. However, surprisingly, he wasn’t upset.
“I actually learned from that experience with your father.”
He’s not my father, but ok.
“What do you mean?”
I cocked my head, and Isais went on.
“Your father… he mentioned something about damaging space itself. And not just that— but time too. So, I consulted with an old [Chronomancer] friend of mine. This is still… an incredibly early stage of our research, but look.”
I stared at the piece of paper he showed me. It was a diagram— some kind of grid. In it, I saw what looked like holes sketched onto its surface.
“As you can see, this is completely different from everything you’ve learned in your classes.”
“You’ve heard of the paper analogy, right? Folding space and poking a hole through it like this.”
He thinly bent the paper in half, pretending to poke a hole through it.
“This is what I've been teaching you.”
Then he unfolded the paper, showing me the diagram once more, and gesturing at the diagram once more.
“But what we never considered was how another factor played into space: time.”
“I see, I see.”
I listened as Isais continued to explain.
“That means there is another… layer to it. It’s not as simple as we previously thought. While our previous understanding of it is that of a single… concept, there is actually another dimension to it. Because of this, everything we’ve previously done with space magic... perhaps there are dire consequences for our actions. I am not sure, but our preliminary findings so far don’t bode well. It’s like poking a hole in the floor of a building.”
He finally finished. His face was grim, creased with wrinkles. I looked him over, tapping a finger at my chin as Isais heaved a heavy sigh.
“Your father… I don’t know where he got his knowledge from, but he is right. And I have to admit, I was wrong. For that, I wanted to speak with you. To thank him for his contribution to our understanding of space.”
I nodded slowly. Then I glanced over at the door.
“Can I go now?”
With that, all my classes for the day were done. And hopefully, I wouldn’t have to deal with anything that Devil did in Mavos Academy ever again. I was worried that Headmaster Clayton Skyshredder would approach me too when I passed him as I headed down the hallway. But he simply grunted and greeted me.
I was glad for it. I didn’t want anything to distract me anymore. Somehow, even though he wasn’t here, the Devil both annoyed and distracted me from my studying. I returned back to my room, ready for a full night of studying.
Saffron wasn’t seated at the dining table as she usually was, and Matthew was nowhere to be found.
“Alright, no more distractions—”
I started as I opened my school bag… and I heard a loud thud coming from Saffron’s room. I looked up, blinking.
“Oh, so she is here.”
I walked towards the door, calling out to her.
“Saffron! You wouldn’t believe what happened today—”
I paused, narrowing my eyes. There was no response from the other side except for another thud. Softer, this time. But still audible to my ears. I knocked on the door before gently pushing it open.
And I saw the noble woman kneeling in her room with wide eyes. Her communication artifact lay on the ground next to her, just below her drooping arms. Her gaze slowly jerked towards me, and I rushed to her side.
“Saffron, what’s wrong?!”
She said nothing. I grabbed her by the shoulders as her lips quivered. With a weak arm, she tugged my jacket and spoke in a soft voice.
“What happened? Did someone attack you? Is it poison?”
I leaned closer as she mustered the strength to face me. My companion. My friend. A Vampire noble who I truly cared for.
“Please… help me. My father and my brother— they’re in Nightsveil. And… and...”
I stared at her as tears streamed down her face.
“The Primeval Demon is attacking the city. Hundreds of thousands are already dead. Please… save them…”