A Young Man, Together With the One He Deems His Master
Dale brought his left hand close to his face. He clenched it once, then opened it up again.
He repeated this action a few times, then let the magic coursing through his body accumulate into that one spot.
Though faint and hard to make out, he could see what appeared to be an array of letters on the back of his hand. They formed words written in an unfamiliar tongue.
“The language demons use is a lot like a magic incantation. Their words have a high affinity for magic.”
“So these words are written in demon-tongue too, huh…?”
“To tell the truth, I would’ve liked it better if I could just write your own name as is…”
“Well, that’s fine by me. You gave me a pretty precious name. I don’t have any problem with that.”
His right hand roughly petted her head.
Dale’s right hand may have been his dominant one, but that was the reason he usually only reached out to Latina with his left. Should he ever be caught by surprise, then it might wind up being fatal if he were to pull the one he had sworn to protect aside with his dominant side.
“Seriously though, there really isn’t much about me that changes with this, huh?”
As he muttered to himself, he could feel an unknown new power surging through him. That being the only difference he could be aware of, there were few other words to express himself with.
This new power was hardly beyond manageable, too. Being an excellent user of magic on top of possessing the great blessings, Dale was no stranger to controlling these kinds of immense powers. While these new powers were immense, he didn’t feel the need to cause the kind of commotion that would force him to use them.
“Of course not. I didn’t mess with your sense of self, Dale.”
Latina pursed her lips and continued muttering her objections.
Dale, overhearing her, decided to inquire further.
“Can you actually do that?”
“I could change the psyche, and dominate someone into not going against me. The Demon Kings that treat their own Retainers like slaves do that all the time… I’m pretty sure that those that don’t still make some kind of restraint, too.”
“So that the demons don’t use their new powers… to kill their Demon King.”
“Aah… Yeah, that makes sense…”
Just because someone swore their loyalty didn’t mean they wouldn’t have a change of heart. Avoiding any and all situations that might end up having their throats slit in their sleep was a reasonable conclusion. They would have their own preparations to make against those that had turned into demons, along with the great power the could wield.
“But I didn’t do anything to you, Dale.”
Dale found himself slightly taken aback by her response.
“I want you to be the kind of person who can stop me whenever I do something bad.”
Her words were filled with unrivalled faith in him.
But if he ever did have a change of heart, then – Dale swallowed those words before they could come out. But Latina, wise girl that she was, realised his inner conflict immediately.
“I would never change the man I love so much out of my own free will. If I even tried to rule over you like that then there’s a chance you could change completely. I might… I might end up forcing you to look at only me… To always be mine…
“But I don’t want that. I don’t want to change the same Dale I love this much into someone completely different. That’s why you shouldn’t change a bit. If… If you ever end up hating me for something, then I can accept that. As long as it’s your own choice.”
“Latina, when you say stuff like that… It makes it way clearer that I’ll never stab you in the back.”
How should he put it… She was just too cute when she was being so brave.
As long as she could stay by his side and stay the way she was now, then he was sure he could do the same for her.
For now, he chose to settle with embracing her and kissing her forehead. Kissing it once or twice wasn’t even close to enough.
With Latina still locked in his arms, his gaze flew to the letters on the back of his hand.
The name she had whispered was that of her own father, and now his own name as a demon that had been engraved into him.
The Demon Kings engraved their Retainers with new names. This would mark them as recipients of their power, and would single them out as those domineered by Demon Kings.
While this information was already known to him, he had never thought the day would come when he would receive that kind of mark.
The reason Latina had chosen Smaragdi, her own father’s name, was because out of all the letters her kind used she was only familiar with those that made up her name and his.
It would appear that becoming a Demon King wasn’t enough to become knowledgeable about every little thing this world had to offer. It would also seem that Latina, being a rather new addition to the line of Demon Kings, wasn’t quite at the point where she had a full comprehension of all powers she now possessed. For now, at least, this girl would remain in the dark of what was already unknown to her.
In all honesty, the way she was exempt of that knowledge was still very much like her, in Dale’s opinion.
“So, are you gonna start calling me Smaragdi from now on?”
“No, I won’t. But I’m pretty sure that other demons and people with strong magic can read that name, so… you might get called that from time to time.”
“Makes sense to me…”
Once he ceased the flow of magic, the letters disappeared from his sight.
“So, do they become visible when I’m not paying attention or something?”
“They… might be related to your mental state.”
“Kinda vague, don’t you think?”
For whatever reason, her most recent replies seemed just a tad unreliable. Then again, she was still a beginner; that much might be expected. Not that she seemed all that majestic…
But come to think of it, was it possible that the idea of Demon Kings being creatures with a natural majesty and oppressing aura just something humans had come up with on their own?
Dale found himself deep in thought on the subject, somehow completely forgetting that Demon Kings were beings that came close to godhood.
Nevertheless, Latina was still his Latina.
“I don’t think… I don’t think it’s ordinary for them to disappear like that, either…”
“You really think so?”
“It’s still supposed to be proof of being dominated… so it might be because even though my powers changed you like they did, I haven’t tried to conquer your mind…”
“… That so?”
It really looked like this girl was just doing one ‘abnormal’ thing after the other…
Well, that shouldn’t be so surprising at this point. Ever since she was little, she’d been the kind to blow away the expectations any adults had for her.
Actually, with that in mind, becoming a Demon King was totally not an unreasonable thought…
Even Dale himself had, thanks to the many years spent in Latina’s company, had been steered in a strange direction. Heck, there were a lot of incidents in his family history with people stepping out of bounds like that.
‘Still, did I really become a demon just like that…?’
The reason for Dale’s internal monologue was his original power. He had no intention to regret what he had done, nor did he plan on doing anything wrong, but he couldn’t deny that he had acted in the spur of the moment.
The first thing that had to be questioned was whether he, someone who existed as the polar opposite to the Demon Kings, could even become one of their Retainers.
The possibility of him being unable to accept that kind of power had already come to mind, along with the possibility that accepting it would result in an immense detriment of some sort.
The only reason he had kept his mouth shut was that if Latina were to realise the potential danger he might be in, then there would have been no way she would have continued. He was sure of it.
Whatever power had influenced him was nowhere near as unpleasant as Dale had initially assumed it would be. Even the natural rejection to the Demon King’s power he had grew weaker once he recalled that it was Latina’s power flowing into him.
She was a Demon King; there could be no denying it now. But more importantly, she was still herself. He couldn’t quite explain it himself, but he had a good feeling that his ‘core’ would be more than lenient in accepting her as a Demon King.
With it being Latina, that was probably a given. Dale thought so, at the very least. He already wished to be together with her so much that he could state that without hesitation.
‘So how do I explain all of this…?’
He had to tell his folks back home about this. Having his life span changed didn’t mean he had to hide that titbit from others. The duke might have to be notified at some point, but his grandmother, as the current family head, should also let her own opinion be heard.
“Well, I’m sure it’ll work out somehow.”
Until the moment he had decided on Latina, he had been wrecked with worry and the occasional desire to run away and leave it all behind. Now that he had made his decision, there was nothing that could make him waver.
As long as he kept that in mind, and as long as Latina was there to support him… then he felt that there was nothing he couldn’t do.
With the future ahead of him still uncertain, he couldn’t confidently declare that he wouldn’t change his mind. But that didn’t change that he had already met his decision. If he ever wound up blaming someone, he could only blame himself.
Now, there wasn’t a sliver of fear that would keep him from moving forward.
His dear, adorable Latina. The young girl that had possessed a life span that surpassed his own immensely. Someday, the day would come when he would have to tell her to forget about him and settle down with some nice lad.
If he wanted to make himself look good in his final moments, then he should say something like that.
If he really cared about her, then he should let her do that much.
But he didn’t want to. The idea alone of seeing her smiling happily in someone else’s arms… no, he couldn’t accept it.
He knew he was being selfish. That’s why he would never tell her that directly.
But still, to him, the choice the girl had offered him through her power as a Demon King… that was the choice that might just grant his selfish whims.
Original Author’s Note: Okay, okay. Enough with the sugary stuff for now. The ‘serious’ tag of this story is about to see some real work for once, but I hope all of you can still stay with us until we make it through that harsh journey.