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Hero, Don't Kill The Demon King! Chapter 1: Lives Not Yet Thrown Away

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Despite the rain pouring down over the battlefield, fires were still burning. Magic that nature could not extinguish so easily. Two forces, battered and bruised, stared each other down. The humans from Coteon, their hero at the head… The monsters working for the Demon King, and their head general, Nessraya. Despite the overwhelming power of the general, the hero wielded a magic sword, that staved off most all her attacks, the rest unable to stop the girl’s advance. Still, the Demon King had ordered for the hero to be stopped, alive. Something had to be done. Weather this storm would just mean more sadness and misery for all involved…

“It is time to put an end to this foolishness… ‘hero’. Surely you must see by now, on your warpath… that the Church has imbibed you with naught but lies.” Nessraya finally managed to get out, a small cease in the fighting… just what was the King’s plan for all this? Learning more about the hero and the mechanisms that brought her here perhaps, but keeping her alive as she still held that sword…?

Marina’s legs shook and her body trembled. She was so close, wasn’t she? But the demon’s words caught her ear. Putting thought into it, since making her way here, the ‘monsters’ she was told to eliminate would cower in fear of her actions. And now, one of the big bads still asks for her to stop. She held up her sword, until… something odd occurred. The glow of the blade suddenly… dissipated. Myrithali suddenly felt heavy, and the wear of the constant fighting took effect, and her arms dropped, the sword’s blade thudding to the dirt below. Sweat, rain, and blood surrounding her, Marina finally spoke out, “And… what of my comrades, then?”

"Marina! Be careful, don't underestimate this demon's magic. You saw what happened to our men." Agni warned, removing his dagger from the slit throat of a felled demon. This 'truce' made Agni uneasy, ready to doubt the demon's intent. The church's lies? Carnage like this demon wrought made their name fitting, perhaps it was right to strike first. It meant they were doomed if anything happened to Marina, unable to fight back in kind. Agni had to be wary for Marina sake, rushing to her side. "Think of your safety first! Pick up the sword!"

Those damn humans! How had they spotted her and her group? It… didn’t matter how they had, she was battered and bruised, barely able to fly with all her injuries. Still, she needed to continue on so all of this wasn’t for nothing. If she could just get one hit on the ‘Hero’ that would be enough for her. Then, she saw them, two humans and a lone demoness. That had to be the hero if they were this far. “Not a step further, humans!” She roared as she landed by the demoness, lance at the ready.

Good, she was listening. It was a start, at the very least… of course, one of the human comrades was telling her to pick up the holy sword, and a Vaian soldier… not one of her own men, at least not one she recognized, came into the fray with a war cry. Holding her hand up to the newcomer and beckoning her backward and away from the hero. They may have a chance yet…

“Those whose lives you have yet to throw away on this farce shall be spared, and allowed to leave… provided they do not aggress further. Our King wishes to speak with you, and I will not-” Nessraya began, a sigh escaping her lips as a foolhardy wraith lunged at the hero, once her sword was dropped. With a snap of her fingers, a bolt of lightning came down on the demon soldier, turning the man to dust mere feet away from the hero.

“As I was saying… I will have my King’s will done. Even if my own men should make an attempt on your lives should you surrender… I shall prevent it. You have my word as a General.”

Though her hands continued to grasp the holy sword, even Marina knew she was tapped out. She wanted to reply to Agni’s request but she was intent on hearing out the general speak. Lives you have yet to throw away, caught her in a way unlike everything she has been told since she got here, possibly even her entire life. That got Marina thinking, she never did think this through, did she?

It was just then that she caught the wraith in her sight, and fear caught onto her like a hook to a fish, and before she knew it, the demon just saved her. Even if she could wield the sword, she didn’t know if she stood a chance to begin with. Marina turned to Agni,

“...I-I can’t keep this fight up anymore…” then she turned to the general, completely letting go of Myrithali, “I surrender.”

Agni remained uneasy, listening to the demon general's words with scrutiny, trying to find anything that would belie her intent. The dragoness' roar had put him on guard, and once a wraith moved in to attack Marina, Agni raised a hand to chant a spell --too late, seeing as the demon general got to it first.

Agni was hoping to hear words of determination as Marina turned to him, that perhaps they had a way out. What he was met with was a defeated woman, and the sound of metal hitting the ground. The holy sword was entirely dropped. "Wait, no..." Agni's voice faltered, they'd sacrificed so much, but for what? He couldn't fight back if Marina had given up…

“What?” Xalrei growled in confusion. She was being told to back off, but the hero was right there! She had been about to lunge anyway, but a wraith beat her to it, vaporized for their troubles. That was enough to give her pause. A demon, a powerful one at that, defending the hero... Slowly, she stepped back and lowered her lance, but she refused to lower her guard even as the hero threw down her sword. Why the demon king wanted to meet with these humans was lost on her. Just what could he be thinking?

“Wonderful. I am glad to see this violence finally come to an end. MEN! Stand down… her men may return from whence they came, or accompany their hero as she comes to meet our King. So long as they are peaceful, no harm shall come to them… you have witnessed first hand what end disobeying this order will bring. Of course, you understand… any who attempt to continue fighting shall be shown the same in kind.” Nessraya commanded, magic amplifying her voice to boom over the battlefield.

“Stand, Hero. And give me your name… Nessraya Tryxyss is my own. And I would ask you give the holy sword to your charge, there… the King has not told me what exactly it is they wish speak with you about, but I cannot allow you wield that blade within the royal chamber. I hope you understand.”

Briefly falling to a knee, Marina’s breathing was light, suddenly the stress of the fighting came to a stop. She once again addressed Agni first, “Captain Agni, please understand… I have a strange feeling about all of this. I felt something before, the mon- the demons we fought begged us to stop. And now…” She caught the general’s name, “General Nessraya has asked me to stop too.”

Removing her sheath, she picked the sword off the ground, still struggling from it’s sudden weight, but she managed to sheath the weapon. “My name is Marina. Marina Fairchild.” Nodding to Nessraya’s request, she turned to Agni.

“Please,” She handed the weapon to Agni, “Captain, please. Leave me to this. I… I need to hear their piece.” She trembled a bit, definitely unaware of might happen to her now. “I’m sorry.”

A sudden explosion of smoke puffed out between both groups, a rather… Pink and out of place looking fox woman under an umbrella stepping out of it. “Everyone, stop fight-- Oh. You’ve already stopped. Whoops~ Good! This way, then. Good work, Nessraya~” Smiling and turning towards the castle gates, her tail swished with excitement. They’d actually stopped killing each other! Hopefully this would go much better than last time.


The Demon King’s castle was quite like any human one in decor. Well crafted stone work for walls and hallways, tapestries with their crest-- a large snake coiled around twin swords --paintings of the previous Demon King and other vistas the surrounded Vaia (mostly rolling hills and small forests).

Asami, as she’d introduced herself while walking, led the humans and monsters down the main hall, towards a large set of double doors. “Your audience with the Demon King awaits, poor little hero~ Mhmhmhm~” Opening as if by magic, they were met with a well torchlit room, a red carpet to guide them, and a throne to gaze upon… And, a child on it?

"Humans! My name is Thesephine Adozosi! And I am the Demon King." The small girl propped herself up off the throne, scowling down at the... Admittedly smaller than she was expecting group of humans. "L...Lavinia, where are the rest of them...?"

"Your highness, the wounded soldiers have been taken to be treated... The Hero and her consort are the only ones who managed to survive Nessraya's carnage enough to speak." A taller, pale skinned knight with jet black hair and glowing red eyes, stood next to the smaller girl, leaning down to give her the information.

"I... I see... S-Still! You! You, Hero with the holy sword... Do you know what you've done!? All the lives you've taken, and for what!?" The girl stomped down the stairs leading up to her chair, not exactly intimidating right in front of Marina. She was almost an entire foot shorter than her. "What do you have to say for yourself!?"

The fox woman chuckled, closing her umbrella and shaking some of the water off. "She's maaaaad~"

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Agni had no option but to follow Marina, he stood no chance without her. I really hope your feeling is right... Personally, Agni preferred not relying on gut, but his other options were stripped away... they had to turn themselves in. At least holding the holy sword instilled some safety in him, even if he couldn't use it...

Still, Agni couldn't help but stare in disbelief as a child claiming to be the Demon King stomped her foot towards them,and... started yelling at him, assuming Agni to be Marina, the Heroine. That's right, he was holding the holy sword, but... this was still too bizarre of a prank, even for demons. Agni had to turn to Asami, hoping for some answer. "...What's, with this sassy, lost child?" He pointed at Thesephine. "Where's the Demon King?"

Edited by Xinnidy

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As Xalrei was lead through the Demon King's castle she couldn't help but be amazed. It was much grander than the family manor back in Khach. Truthfully, she felt a little out of place, going to meet the Demon King and all. She was just a soldier, or she had been before she rushed off at least. She'd be lucky if she was just discharged when she went back. As the doors opened she gulped, trying to prepare herself to see the Demon King in all his glory... 

What? She didn't know what she'd been expecting, but it definitely wasn't the short-statured Medusa on the throne. Still, she could feel her power, taking a knee in reverence. Of course, the non-hero human just had to open his smart mouth to make light of the Demon King's appearance. The Demon King was probably young for a Medusa if she was still that short. Xalrei knew that pain too, being a young dragonewt herself. Still kneeled, she growled at Agni. "Show respect for the Demon King, human. She may be young, but she's even more powerful than her general."

Edited by Ursali

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Obeying the orders of Asami, Marina took steps inside the throne. In truth, it really was a beautiful looking place. Not a detail she should be worried about at the moment, but it was the first thing that came to mind.

The one thing catching her off guard was the 'Demon King'. Suddenly this... child? Immediately stormed down towards her and Agni, shouting, probably seconds from vaporizing her and Agni immediately. However, another problem arose as the Demon King approached... Agni. Oh no.

What's, with this sassy, lost child?

Oh noooooooo.

"...C-Captain!" She spoke out, before stepping up. Whether or not it was the right, formal choice, she had to step up. "Your highness, I am the Hero, please..."  She took a bow to the Demon King. "I am... Marina Fairchild." She had to protect Agni, who chose to stand by her, "Please, he has to be skeptical enough for both of us."

Then the topic did hit her, what did she have to say about all of this? She blindly did what she was told, she's only a teenager, she didn't know any better... Those were excuses more than anything. She didn't have a real defense to it.

"Your highness, I have nothing to say in regards to what I've done. All I can give you is my ear..." Oh god will she take my ear,  "...and listen to what you wanted to speak about." Never mind, no need to panic, Marina. Okay no wait, there's plenty of need to panic.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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"S... S-S, S, Saaa... Sassy..." Thesephine looked about ready to explode, before a hand hit her shoulder, Lavinia having walked up to try and defuse things.

"Thesephine, we have to talk with them... If you kill them, this will all be for naught. Please... Try and remain calm." Ever composed, the knight attempted to ease her liege, the little medusa slamming her tail against the carpet and grumbling out a sigh.

"F... Fine..." The cap had been put back on her anger... Until, "Nothing to say!? Not even an apology for all of my people you've killed, you genocidal maniac!?" Growling again, she stamped a foot before turning back towards her throne. "Fine, then! Listen you will!" Taking a seat and folding her arms, she huffed and continue to scowl down at everyone there. "Killing you would just give the church an even bigger excuse to try and wipe us off the map... You'd die a... Mmm, martyr?" She looked to Lavinia for confirmation, the knight nodding. "Yeah, a martyr! And that's pointless for all of us... So you're gonna work for me, miss 'Hero'!"

"Oh my~" Asami commented, fake surprise dawning on her face, and a hand covering her mouth.

"Yeah! You be surprised, you dumb fox! And you... Here's what you're gonna do for me. You're gonna take Nessraya and Lavinia, and you're gonna clean up the country you've taken apart. Then you're gonna get to the bottom of why the church wants us dead! We're just trying to live, here!" Still full of tiny rage, her eyes seemed to scowl just a bit harder every time she met Marina's. Wrenching her head away from the hero, she grit her teeth. "Now... Nessraya, take them away, and explain things further, before I turn her to stone! It's already hard enough to hold myself back."

"Shall I accompany them as well?" Asami had spoken up again, excitement on her face now, tail wagging.

"Whatever you want... Anything to get you out of the castle. I need a break from your pranks..."

"Mikon~ Wonderful! I'll make preparations right away~" Another puff of smoke... And she was gone.

Lavinia sighed. It would be rather trying, with this one coming along. "Nessraya, if you would, then." Hopefully this 'captain' would not cause trouble in his complaints. Nor the hero. "And you, dragon, come with us. I'll have you explain your situation to me, while Nessraya informs the hero of the current state of Vaia."

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"Of course, your Highness." Nessraya replied, having taken a knee in deference to Thesephine as the group entered, only rising after the debacle with the hero's retainer... that man was lucky to still have a head, as she was ordered to further fill in their new guests on what destruction they had wrought. Standing up and stepping towards Marina, the petite general stuck her hand out, gently cupping the hero's cheek, guiding her towards the door with a light pull beneath her chin.

"Come then, Miss Fairchild... before your ill-mannered retainer loses both of your heads for you~ Follow me, if you would." Nessraya noted with a slight grin, clearing the doors to exit the Royal chamber, knowing that Lavinia would make sure no one straggled to the point of lingering within range of Thesephine's ire... unless they were rather quick about it.

 

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"Okay, hold up. This is moving a bit fast." This... was the Demon King? A little child-looking thing? This wasn't even an attempt at deceit, this Thesephine was trying (and failing) to act imposing, rather than trying to endear them to her. Everyone seemed to treat her with due respect... so this wasn't a play. While still bewildered, Agni lowered his finger. "One... I'll admit I was expecting prison, why do you want us to work for you? I can undersrand penance work, but what do you think we, two prisoners of war, can do about the church?" There had to be some sound logic behind it, penance was fine, but... once they got back to 'find out about the church' they could simply turn the escorting demons over. Something had to be off. "There's not much to get. You're the antithesis of the church. They'll always believe your kind to be humanity's natural enemy. I doubt even Marina could change their mind."

"...And if you may, can I know why your moniker is 'Demon King', not queen?" It was such a violent break from the image Agni had in his head, taught by the church. He'd prefer to solve all misconceptions while at it.

Edited by Xinnidy

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"Young human, I would suggest you do not test your boundaries." Lavinia wasn't scowling, just staring Agni down, hoping he would stow his questions.

"Who's ever heard of a 'Demon Queen'? Besides, I'm not even married. I'd have to be Demon Princess, and that's stupid!" Honestly, did the humans not understand how this worked? "I want you to help fix the country you destroyed, you worm," she growled out, eyes glowing a moment. "How dare you question me? You're, what, ten? Fifteen? You're just a spec, I've lived five times that, and you dare to question me?" Anger was a problem for Thesephine, but at the moment, she felt it was justified.

"You can help my country, and then show the people of Hwein that we aren't the hellspawns your precious church seems to claim we are. Or you can die here! I could always use a new statue or two... And once you've paid back what you've done to us, and tried to show some of the world that we aren't creatures from beneath, you can use the people and the Hero's name to try and change Coteon around. Figure it out, you're smart and strong enough to have made it here, no?" She suddenly gasped, covering her face. "Guards!" Two armored soldiers rushed into the room, lances pointed at the group.

"Yes, your highness!?"

"Attend me!"

"Y-Your highness?" They approached the throne, Thesephine uncovering her eyes as a vivid pink light enveloped them, turning them to stone.

"Hrrgh... I still... Need to learn to control my anger... Lavinia, call for some clerics to deal with helping them..."

"Of course, Thesephine... I suggest you direct any further questions to Nessraya, young human. If you are confused by my King's anger, the last hero killed her father, his men killing her mother. That this is happening all over again is dragging out some uncomfortable memories. Come, and we shall answer you as best as we can." Lavinia placed herself between Agni and Thesephine, hoping to usher them along after Nessraya.

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It seems that, unaware of the girl's power, Agni was skirting death with his questions, or at least a rather rocky end. She can't believe we'll just shut up and work for her to the end... Turning on his homeland to give a good name for demons? That'd be suicide to his rank, title and given name... There was no way they'd serve such a pushy, weird person, once they got out. I suppose I'll get more from her generals than herself. The Demon King was not a very diplomatic or charismatic figure, which befit her apparent age --actual age be damned--.

"...Lavinia, is it? I think that'll be all from me, for now." Was Agni on board with this? No, but he still needed to live, at least to ensure Marina did as well. There was a subdued nod, Agni then turning to Marina, awaiting for her decision.

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Did this human have no sense of self-preservation or did he just not realize what sort of danger he was in? Either way, his fate wasn't her concern. Rising to her feet as she was addressed, Xalrei bowed to the Demon King before turning to leave, matching her pace with Lavinia's. "I am Xalrei Id..." She paused, unsure if she should give her full name. She didn't want to damage her father's reputation because she had acted rashly. "Just Xalrei, a soldier of Khach, no rank to speak of. I heard the Hero was marching on Vaia and rushed here to lend my assistance; though, it seems that I wasn't needed..." Although her face remained stoic her claws balled into fists, recalling what had happened just a day prior because of her decision to rush ahead. 

Edited by Ursali

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She expected to not set a good impression with the Demon King. She felt no matter what she said, it wouldn't have ended well. She would've replied to her comments, but it felt too late for that.

Then she was given a mission: help the people that she just spent the last month slaughtering. She knew this might've been an awful idea, but how much choice did she really have now? And even then, she wanted to help these people now. She felt awful about all of this. Actually, awful was an understatement. And the words of the King calling her a maniac definitely dug the nail deeper. Just as she replied, Agni spoke again, and she listened to their discussion, still keeping the bowed stance out of respect.

Despite the King's age, her anger reached Marina in a way she didn't expect. It almost... drove Marina's resolve. Then, upon hearing the one named Lavinia:

The last hero killed her father, his men killing her mother.

"I wasn't the first...?" She quietly asked herself, now even starting to feel guilty. Why? This event in particular wasn't even her fault. But it started to eat at her. Marina decided that it'd be a better idea to just leave and do what she was asked.

"I will help you rebuild your country, Your Highness." Marina finally stood. Did she want to say anything in regards to her parents? The said 'first hero'? She was too afraid to do so at that point, especially after seeing the medusa freeze her own people. Despite that, her voice betrayed her, giving out only a soft,

"I'm sorry."

For a moment, there was a pause as her gaze directed at the Demon King. She turned around, and giving a determined nod to Agni, then a nod to Lavinia. "Please. Tell me what you need me to do."

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Well... with that outburst taken care of, it was finally time to move along, leave Thesephine be, and hopefully not become outlets for her ire. Since it seems the others were following at this point, it was time to begin business.

"Now then. To speak nothing of the countless civilians and town watch that were slaughtered by you and your men... the problem lies even deeper than that. In the wake of your advance, many fled their townships into the surrounding hills and forests, in terror of your holy sword... the problem is, these ruffians have since noticed that without the soldiery in place, and with town guard and able-bodied men few and far between, they find a much easier life in banditry, than attempting return to their farms and shops." Nessraya began, pulling out a scroll and unfurling it into a map of Vaia, pointing out several villages that had been unfortunate enough to land on Marina's warpath.

"In addition... all of this foul business has left the merchantry in Hwein... wary. They do not believe it worthwhile to fight us, but so close to Coteon... they struggle to maintain trade routes. Normally, Vaia would be relatively self sufficient, our economy would suffer, but we would survive, however... the Church has sent your crusade on a very specific path... cutting straight through these plains-" The General continued, tracing the path that Marina had taken to arrive at the castle, pointing out a few key locations once again.

"Well, to be blunt, our heartlands are in tatters. Food production has been devastated, and what remains is harassed by bandits and defectors far beyond what the forces we can muster are able to deal with. Textile farms are all but wiped out in the aftermath, and if they are not restored by winter, many will freeze to death with their prior possessions looted or destroyed." Nessraya concluded, figuring that was enough information to begin with.

"You've quite a bit of atoning to do yet. Welcome to the adult's table, Miss Fairchild."

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Marina intently listened to what Nessraya had to say. She kept a watchful eye on the map, almost like keeping a mental track of every spot she needed to know.

Once again, words in regard to her actions stung at her again. Noting everything the general pointed out just reminded her of how this is her fault. With Vaia in the condition she made it, more people would just suffer and die, then?

I won't let that happen, were Marina's first thoughts on the matter, but even she seemed doubtful for a moment. Could she even do that? Or would her actions just make everything worse? There was a brief pause as she looked around a bit, then looked at the map again. Another thought went by in her head, deciding to play a little more to her lifestyle,

I guess we'll find out.

She gave a nod to Nessraya, "I have a lot I need to do, ma'am. And I'll do everything in my power to help you."

Then there was the elephant in the room; she wasn't the only human here. Marina turned to Agni, "What are you going to do?" she asked, clear concern in her voice.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Marina was too apologetic... she shouldn't take it so personally, after all, she was brought here by the church to do it. If it turned out these demons had a point, the church was to blame, not her. Still, the requests put forward by their head general weren't offensive to him. Getting rid of monstrous brigands was just like getting rid of monsters --fine by him--. Making alliances with Hwein though? He didn't expect the Demon King to ask for help to other humans...

When Marina asked him of his choice, Agni shrugged. "I don't have much of an option. I was supposed to keep you safe during our mission... I believe that still holds true." Agni wasn't much of a protector, but a sense of duty still remained.

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"Hmph..." Thesephine didn't care much for such a half baked apology. Perhaps if they could fix most of the problems they'd caused, things would be alright again.

"Just a soldier from Khach... I see. You'll have to tell me what your division was, once we have a moment, miss dragonewt." Lavinia followed the rest of the group, making sure everyone kept in line.


Now was the time for talks, it appeared. Nessraya outlined plenty, but... "You've missed two things, Nessraya," the vampire spoke out, having chosen to fold her arms and lean against this room's wall. "One... The current Duchess of Khach, presiding over it... Asphodel Ana. While Thesephine has attempted to keep things civil and play on the defensive whenever Coteon strikes... Duchess Ana believes that fire should be met with fire, so to speak. If there is any monster you should be turning your holy sword on, miss Marina, it would be her." How they were going to deal with that without turning this into somewhat of a civil war was beyond her... But they had to figure something out.

"Least pressing, but still wishing to be attended to. At the far end of the continent, a good two weeks of travel out, there is a tower... Around the time of your summoning, little hero, it appeared as if from nothing. Thesephine wishes it explored, as it likely has something to do with your arrival. Perhaps there is even a way for you to return to your own world. The trouble that would save us in the future..." Lavinia almost sighed, holding back the expression. That was all that needed to be said.

"To make things clear, choose. Nessraya and I will do our best to assist your decisions, but you are leading this little group... I say little, but I am sure Nessraya will be ordering a small militia of soldiers along with us, to ensure safety should a Coteon battalion befall us."

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"Once there's time, feel free to ask what you will." She sighed, loosening her claws and crossing her arms. "I don't want to get in the way of your plans for the Hero."


Yikes, is it really that bad...?. Xalrei knew that the situation was bad, and she hadn't expected the Church to pull any punches, but she had been operating off of rumors and hearsay. To hear that the state of the country was this devastated from the Demon King's own general was eye-opening. All the more reason that these humans needed to set things right. But where did that leave her? Right now she was just a nobody, at worst a nobody deserter. She didn't want to go back, at least not like this. She'd come all this way to help, she'd be damned if she didn't at least try. "I want in with... Whatever it is you're going to be doing, hero." She tried to mask the contempt behind that word, but she couldn't manage to keep it completely locked away. "Whatever you're doing there'll probably be fighting and if there's one thing I have confidence in, it's my battle prowess."

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Go, go and go. Now is the time to get your hands on some sweet cash. That is what Gabriela, aka Gabby, thought. She had heard rumors about the hero and their followers being caught and brought before the king. Long live the king and all, but Gabriela had other plans with the hero. What does she care for what they have done? She doesn't have a home to go back to anyways. She didn't know much about this supposed hero besides that they were in the castle. And, Gabby also assumed that 'the hero' had a lot of money. Money that she needed! Getting inside the castle was little problem for her, but actually finding the hero in these grand halls was another thing. Getting lost is a very real possibility and if she ran into guards who she couldn't outwit? Now that would be a big problem. There were many a door, but as sirens have advanced ears, listening in wasn't a big issue. 

After looking for a good 30 minutes, she thought she had hit the jackpot. She heard multiple voices in a room, talking about the issues that were caused to the land, or whatever. Something to that effect. Truth to be told Gabriela had seen some of the remains of what seemed to be the destruction caused by the hero. But...Gabriela is no better in that regard, so what does it even matter anymore? There was only one thing to do now, just... head in. She was a little nervous, as she is not certain if she is even allowed to be here. Wings ready, voice ready, keep your fingers crossed, Gabriela! That is when Gabby opened the door to find several people inside, some demon, some human. She didn't know which of the two humans inside was the hero, so she made an educated guess to go for the man, who looked arguably more impressive and rich. ''Pardon me, I hope i'm not interrupting anything....but I simply wanted a word with.... the hero.'' She did her best to look sweet, and looked over to Nessraya too with a hopeful eye. 

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"Thank you," for the first time since they entered Vaia, Marina was able to crack a smile. Regardless if it were for concern of her, or it was because of being the 'Hero', but Agni's reaffirmation of his protection helped calm and comfort her. 

She turned her attention back to the planning. At first, it seemed fine just doing what she was told, until Lavinia dropped what felt like a mental bomb for Marina.

Choose... You are leading this little group...

They're putting HER in charge? It seemed strange, but she was sure it was for a reason. She barely had time to think before hearing the other demon come up and volunteer to assist them. Turning to the dragonewt, she gave a nod. "If you're willing to trust me... put your faith in me, whatever you need to do, I'd be happy to have you along." Suddenly she gave a smile again. It felt bizarre given her situation, but she ignored it and turned back to observe her options, process of elimination to find out which is the most important:

The Tower - Admittedly, going to explore the strange tower interested Marina as well. If she could find anything, she could potentially go home, save the people around her the fear of her still being around and potentially forgetting about all this happening... But could she? And would it even be able to send her home? From this point, it didn't seem like Lavinia, or Nessraya, or anyone really had anymore information. There were too many unknowns, and wasting time that could've been spent on something or someone else came to mind. There were too many other questions she wanted answered as well. Why her as the 'Hero' was the first of many things, but it was too much to dwell on with everything else on hand.

The Duchess of Khach - Taking on this Asphodel Ana seemed like an understandable plan at first, but Marina remembers the last time she was told to take the holy sword and go... holy sword something. It was almost completely rejected to her just for that, but other issues arose. There was also the issue of their crumbling military. If her group were to leave, that could leave free reign for Coteon to attack again, and if she was taking several of the King's generals, that'd put Thesephine at risk. The smallest of them, but a problem that needed to be fixed was Myrithali itself; she needed to know why it suddenly stopped working, and even if they figured it out... could she pick it up again?

The Trade Dispute - Despite allowing the neighboring countries to make their own plans and potentially attack at their own accord, Marina felt personally obligated to help the people. With the people suffering, she couldn't bring herself to just go off and make trouble somewhere else. If anything, her personal biases pushed aside, the country's hurt and might not be able to last another invasion from either side. Along with the idea of setting up trade with Hwein seemed reasonable too. They could use all the help they could get. Despite how much she wanted to learn, what she wanted to do, she felt this to be the most important right now...

- The Tower
- The Duchess of Khach
- {The Trade Dispute}

"I've made my decision," Marina spoke up, in a more proud manner than she had since coming here. "When it comes to exploring the strange tower, or going to Khach, there's too many unknowns for me at the moment. I shouldn't act or sound so selfish about it, but I don't want to..." She briefly choked on her words, "If the tower can possibly send me home, I can't leave yet. Not while I have so much I have to fix," So much I want to learn... "And if we went to Khach, we could leave the castle open for attack again. As well, I had a sudden issue happen with Myrithali... the holy sword, near the end of the fighting. I don't know what happened, or how to fix it, but I need to know that before I'm 'sent on any more crusades'." Or will I even want to use it? Shrugging off her doubts, Marina nodded , "I say we take care of the bandit problems and work on an alliance with Hwein. If there's anything I know enough of right now, your people need our help."

She reached into her pocket, holding the medallion she was given by the High Priest. "...I truly feel horrible for what I've done. I have to make it right, no matter what it takes. That's what a 'Hero' should be trying to do, right?" She felt a sense of determination rise back up in her, ready to do some good, right some wrongs, fix her mistakes. "I only ask for a chance. If to any of you, should I make a choice you don't feel is good enough, or I do something wrong again..." She swallowed, "You're free to leave me behind."

It was only moments after she finished her... speech (Would that be the right way to put it?), that suddenly another individual entered the room, and she approached... Agni, thinking he's the Hero. 

Oh no not again...

"Um... ma'am that would actually be me..." She embarrassingly replied to the woman.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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They had a brave dragon along with them, at least. Newt or not, dragons were powerful, good at battling due to their natural instincts, and overall incredibly tough. If she was a bit older, she could do a lot more, but still... Lavinia was about to speak up about Marina's choices, before another body entered the room... A siren? Did they have any sirens working at the castle? She couldn't remember any, but then how did she get into...

Asami, as if out of nowhere, appeared and leaned her head onto Marina's shoulder. "Your holy sword stopped working because you stopped seeing us as monsters~" she informed, before slipping away and joining Lavinia near the wall. "Oh, and hello, Gabriela~"

"Gabriela?" Asami knew her? Lavinia felt the name familiar, but who... Wait, a siren named Gabriela-- "You!" Lavinia finally showed an emotion, hand quickly holding the hilt of the short sword at her side, as her brows furrowed. "One, you have the wrong human, and two, what does a swindler like you want with Marina?" Gabriela wasn't exactly famous, but rumors were heavy enough to have reached the castle's ears. A rogue siren, who went about the countryside, using her powers and looks to frisk money out of anyone she felt she could. No better than a bandit, as far as Lavinia was concerned.

"Calm down, Lavinia~" Asami cooed, shaking her head. "There's no point in starting a fight. Why not, promise her a lot of money if she helps us? She's probably here for money anyway~"

"You would have us hire a two bit crook...?"

"The more bodies the merrier... And she'll get more than she could ever find in the hero's empty pockets~"


"Bishop Carlon... It appears the hero has been brought over to their side, for the moment." A gravely old voice spoke into a darkened room, light shining through a stained glass painting of a warrior holding a shining sword. At the other end of a round table, a man in white robes sad, nodding, fingers stroking his beard.

"Yes... Perhaps this is not, entirely terrible, though. That Duchess has been quite troublesome... If we let them continue as they are, the hero can still do our work for us." A smirk, and a heavier nod, that did seem like a good plan. "The trade with Hwein would have begun again all the same, so let her play around for a while, before we go to get her back."

"As you wish, Bishop... Still, the knights we have sent after her, they will be unable to know of these changes."

"That's fine. If she strikes them down, we can use it as ammunition, and if they turn to her side, we can declare them heretics. We do not lose, in this situation. Trust me... This is perfect."

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Gabriela was taken aback by the sudden appearance of the laughing kitsune. ''Oh, Asami. How glad I am to see you.'' Gabriela did a little bow. Then she faced the vampire, who appeared to be both angry and incredibly suspicious of her. ''Well, I guess the cat is out of the bag, isn't it?'' she looked a bit annoyed, but at the same time, Gabby was happy enough. While she made a blunder by identifying the wrong human for the hero, the plan seems to have succeeded anyway, thanks to the help of the tricky kitsune, Asami. She waved to Marina really quick, and then walked over to Lavinia, carefully.

''So, rumors have been spreading about me, huh? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. But, I would like to travel with you.'' She looked over to Marina once again with an indignant look on her face. ''I guess since she doesn't have any money, i'd be glad to help out your cause, as long as you can cough up the cash, of course!'' She gave an innocent smile, and spoke in a soft voice. ''We sirens are very powerful you know, i'm sure i'll be of use on the battlefield, if you'll have me.'' Did I go overboard? I hope not.... Needless to say, Gabriela was a little worried if they'd let her into the group. She didn't like being called a crook, but I suppose they would see her that way.

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"I missed nothing, Lavinia. I was going to get to those in a moment." Nessraya countered, but the points were already on the table, so it didn't rightly matter much. It would seem that Marina wished to restore the damage caused by her crusade, rather than go off on an adventure to slay the vampire countess or to spelunk about the newly sprouted tower. As much as either of those things were important endeavours, Nessraya was glad that the hero realized what was most important... restoring Vaia to some semblance of sustainability. As their new arrival appeared... apparently a swindler of some notoriety, if Lavinia was aware enough of her to cause a fuss, it seemed there was a  bit of back and forth between the Knight and the trickster Kitsune on whether she was a worthwhile addition.

"A mercenary type, is it? Loyalties are dubious, but it's not like anyone in Vaia could match an offer from Asami of the Dawn, in it's current state. The choice is yours, Marina. You are expected to lead after all, so it is only fitting."

Edited by Ether

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Asami's sudden appearance was enough to spook the poor girl, she jumped a tiny bit when she touched her shoulder, put she caught what Asami had to say. And Marina was not a fan of what Asami told her. She understood, these people weren't monsters to her; she took some cold words from several of them, but it was warranted. It was more, how it made her feel like an idiot. Was she really that blind to just blanket demons like that, manipulated or not? And with that thought in mind... could she blanket another being in the mantle of 'monster'? She shook it off, it wasn't the time for that.

Now, for the concern of the siren. Hearing their discussions, she understood very clearly what everyone's thoughts were. And with the approach from Gabriela herself, and Nessraya giving her the decision... I'm practically the worst person in the world at the moment, how bad could she be?

"Unfortunately, all I have is right here," Marina gave a sheepish laugh, "I suppose if Asami has already has a proposal, I see no problems with it. Just be wary," she warned, "There will be a lot of fighting, and days could go by without rest. Will you be okay with that?"

Edited by Silver Gallade

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"You'll have to earn my trust if you want it." Even with Marina smiling at her, and her having at least seen the error of her ways, Xalrei couldn't find it in herself to attempt to be civil with the human. "Don't mistake my intentions. I'm coming to watch you, to see if what you're saying has any truth to it. If this is just an attempt to get back to the Church..." she scowled, "Then we'll continue where we left off on the battlefield." Her piece said she stomped off to a corner, tail angrily swishing behind her, to cool down before her anger got the better of her. Thankfully, distractions appeared in the form of Asami, the kitsune from earlier, and a siren, an apparent swindler by the name of Gabriela. Agni was once again mistaken for Marina, Xalrei shaking her head at the foolishness of it.

As for Marina's actual decision, she was relieved to hear that she wasn't going to be marching on Khach, at least not immediately. Right now that was the last place she wanted to be, especially as part of an invading force. It also gave her a small speck of hope that Marina would actually stick to her word and that she, at least partially, understood the consequences of her actions.

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Out of the options presented by the Demon King's generals, Agni preferred a healthy deal more to deal with this Duchess, untrustworthy and a demon, it wasn't a far cry from his original mission... Marina seemed more intent in helping, full guilt bearing down on her... Too much of a bleeding heart for a 'King' that yelled at you to fix their own realm....

Once more, Agni was mistaken by Marina, perhaps information did not travel at all in the land of demons. Still, this one wasn't the most savory type, if the following argument was any indication. Agni had to keep that in mind. More demons to not trust, got it. "Marina, if we're going to speak on behalf of the demons to Hwein, we won't be able to go back to Coeton. This will make getting to the bottom of why the church antagonizes them harder." Agni reminded, in part wishing to still have a chance to return home, but it was a valid criticism --they might as well be seen as demons from that point on. "You decide, but... keep it in mind." At least he could put his mind off by dealing with unruly demons soon.

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Lavinia bit back a sigh, shaking her head. "Fine," was her giving up, Asami giggling at the normally composed knight losing her cool so quickly.

"It'll be fine~ I'll pay you Gabriela, but do be warned, there will be a LOT of fighting~" Hopefully the siren would be able to put up with that... And not just run away on them as soon as things got difficult. "If you wish to deal with Hwein, then the bandit problem comes hand in hand with the trade issues~ We'll have to deal with some nasty customers, before Hwein is willing to send merchants back into our lands... I'm sure you're up for that, what with how well you can swing a sword around!" Poking more fun at the hero, Asami swished her tail, heading for the door. "If that's decided, we should probably get ready..."

"Yes... We should. Nessraya, please inform Marina about who exactly we will be dealing with, in regards to the bandits. I'm sure you already know... Even if it may be a bit of a sore spot, for you." Lavinia stayed put, ready to usher along the back of the line again. What a motley little crew they'd established...

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