A Girl of White Gold, Resolving Herself
“Dost thou know… Just how long I have searched for thee…”
She knew. As the First Demon King, burdened with the responsibilities of an entire kingdom, he was certainly in no position to leave his home on a whim.
It had always been that way, even when he had been a simple candidate for kingship raised in the deepest nooks of the temple.
Still, it wasn’t hard to assume that the only reason he had come here was to meet her.
For that, at least, she was grateful.
“I… I finally found someone precious to me. I found someone I want to be with… Someone I want to spend the rest of my life with… So no, Phryxus. I can’t come with you.”
It was also why she expressed her thoughts as clearly as she could. For someone still precious to her, it was imperative to offer her own thoughts without hiding anything away.
“I’m sorry. I… I can’t go back with you anymore.”
Even more strength seeped into his arms as they held her, enough to make her feel pain. It showed just how much he refused to let her go, to let her run away from him. Latina’s expression clouded over.
“… No. I shall not accept this.”
Seeing her face contort as if she were close to weeping, Phryxus’ own face turned to puzzlement.
But he still refused to relinquish the strength in his arms.
“I have the power to protect thee.”
“Thine existence is one that may turn the reality of the Demon Kings on its head. That is the one true power of those crowed with the power of Eight… Or rather, Null. I doubt not that the others would seek thee out.”
“My… My powers aren’t even that amazing to begin with…”
Latina’s voice wrings out another response, just about to be soaked in tears.
“The absolute existence of the Seven Demon Kings has been altered and warped, an affront to reason itself. Thou poseth a threat to them. The Demon King Beyond Reason is borne once all Seven are assembled, a being that may reign over the Demon Kings the Gods hath given this world.”
“… Why, Phryxus?”
Latina’s voice was one of confusion, not quite understanding why Phryxus seemed to be more knowledgeable on the matter than she herself was. She knew that there was a difference between his time and hers as a Demon King, but she had not expected it to be enough to further comprehend the reasoning behind this world to this extent.
“… Ever since thou hast left us, I have toiled to become the ruler of Vasilio. In doing so, I have had ample chance to study that accursed prophesy that would bring calamity to the king, enough to form enough conjectures from ages long past.”
“Once all Seven Demon Kings have appeared in this world, that is when the Eighth shall be borne, a being both Demon King and not Demon King… And as far as I know, the only one given the power to vanquish our kind by various Gods is the Hero, a mechanism mean to reign in the Demon Kings. I have looked through all possibilities, and neither tale nor folklore have been left untouched… that is why I have come to this conclusion.”
All while wishing that wasn’t the case. That much was something that Latina could still take away from his expression, and shed small tears over it.
And still, he was adamant on protecting her. Even though he had come this far, spent so much time.
But that couldn’t make her lie to herself. There was only one person she wanted at her side, and that was Dale, no one else.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Phryxus.”
After coming to understand so many things, she only found more reason to decline his proposal.
“Phryxus, you have to stay as the First Demon King… There are so many demons that’ve been waiting for a new king, so…”
Though her eyes were stained with tears, they still stared straight into Phryxus’ own.
“So… When a time like that ever comes around… you have to try and cut me down. You have to. You can’t use your own interests to change the way you protect the country and its people…”
“So when that time comes, you have to be a king that protects his people, more than anything else. I won’t mind. I’ll be the one who can affirm that that’s who you really are, Phryxus…”
Phryxus had turned into something akin to a saddened child, something she hadn’t even seen him do when she was little. Her ashen eyes, filled to the brim with the force of her own will, met with his. Tears dripped down her cheeks, forming lines as they did.
“If I ever turn into the enemy of all Demon Kings… then the First has to treat me just like the rest would. You can’t just shield me away and turn Vasilio into some kind of battlefield.”
Her resolve was a sad one.
Latina was a kind child. She was also a girl that held her own wishes close to her heart.
For her, measuring her own worth against an entire country was out of the question. And that logic didn’t only apply to her own homeland.
“Saying sorry… you won’t hear me from here, will you? I can’t beg for forgiveness either… Dale, I’m so sorry…”
She muttered in her small voice, letting even more tears flow down her cheek.
“I want to protect Kreuz and the people I love as much as I can… So when that time comes… I…”
She couldn’t have this treasured place be trampled down when they came looking for the enemy of the Demon Kings. She couldn’t allow it to turn into a battlefield.
“When all Demon Kings come looking for me, then I won’t run. I won’t hide. So just aim for me, don’t cause any more harm. This town is like my second home, so please protect it. You’re the only one I can ask to do this, Phryxus.”
Her voice echoed silently, and not even the slightest hint of a waver could be heard.
“When that time comes, destroy me.”
Even stronger than her desire to spend the rest of her life with Dale was her desire that no harm would befall him. While she knew that he was a highly-ranked adventurer and more than capable, she never stopped worrying that he would gain an injury or find himself in life-threatening peril.
Now that Dale had become her Retainer, a demon, whatever powers he possessed would escalate immensely. She still didn’t think that would be enough to survive the full onslaught of the Demon Kings. If he would ever gravely injure himself because of her, she would no longer be able to look him in the face.
There was no way she could tell him to risk his life for her.
Dale’s desire to protect her hadn’t waned in the slightest, and neither did her own wish to protect him.
Retainer or not, Latina had no full control over his life. She was immeasurably relieved that his individuality had been maintained, too.
Even if she, his ‘Master’ were to disappear from this world, it would be little cause for him to sacrifice his own life.
He would only return to the way he was before.
He was sure he could do that, for her.
Sealing away the pain in her heart, Latina came to believe that.
If her positions were turned around, she would not think that. She would struggle with her entire mind and body to protect him. The two of them shared the same principles in that regard. She knew that would be how the story would go.
That was why she couldn’t let Dale choose that option, no matter what.
“I’m sorry, Dale… I’m so sorry…”
She turned to the other one she would force a choice upon.
“I’m sorry, Phryxus…”
If she had just rotted away in the middle of that forest, she wouldn’t have to make the people she loved suffer like this. It might be true; she might really be a being that would bring about unspeakable calamity.
Lamenting what a sinful creature she was for her wishing what she did, Latina’s shoulders shook as she wept fresh tears.
Original Author’s Note: We’re going the ‘Latina doesn’t know about Dale being the Hero’ route.