“…And I still can’t find her, huh?”
A man wreathed in darkness muttered as he gazed out at the endless emerald forest below him from the highest branch on Yggdrasil.
Aria had been missing for a few hours now, vanishing without a word. Granted, she had done that a lot recently, but she always made sure to say that she was going out first. Today though…
The man now known as Demon Lord Nazin, Protector of Yggdrasil, frowned and then let out a deep sigh.
It had been a month since the Imperial Troops attempted to invade Alvheim and seize Yggdrasil.
It had also been a month since Nazin had officially risen to his position and sided with the elves, along with start his easy-going other world fantasy life.
Titania, Aria, and Saphira.
After that unforgettable night, Nazin had started living with the three girls in his home at Yggdrasil, swearing to make them as happy as he could. It was… difficult to manage the relationships at time, but it seemed to have worked out, somehow.
There was only one problem left… And one that was also related with Aria.
“There’s still that guy to deal with.” Nazin muttered and stared up at the sky.
A clear blue expanse, with only a few stray clouds passing by. As expected, there was nothing there. No one there.
But Nazin didn’t let down his guard
The Nameless One. The person who took that title away and distorted his memories as well as both time and space for some unfathomable reason. The same person who ruthlessly dismantled Aria and devoured her existence for the sake of power.
Nazin could feel it. That guy… he wouldn’t be satisfied just evading Serena’s gaze. No, he wouldn’t stop until he became powerful enough to surpass her.
And in order to do that, he needed to return to this time, this space.
After all… Nazin still possessed the other half of that guy’s strength.
A tremor of fear.
Nazin placed his hand over his heart and then recalled that night.
It was by chance. On that night, he felt like getting some fresh air after spending a long time with the girls. Then, like now, he casually stared at the sky.
And something stared back.
Unfathomable darkness and malice.
It was restrained, but since they were connected, Nazin could sense it.
The Nameless One, the ‘true’ self that enacted an unthinkable plan to obtain power beyond Serena’s reach, had stared into the world.
Nazin shuddered when he remembered it.
Serena occasionally peeked in, no doubt finding amusement in the slice of life comedy that had become Nazin’s daily routine. When she did, her gaze, although irritatingly intrusive, was gentle and calm.
The same couldn’t be said for that guy.
An apathetic gaze that observed everything as if it were worthless. A strong, unconscious bloodlust and hunger that could only have come from killing countless people, innocent or not.
It was a sickening existence, one that Nazin refused to acknowledge.
…Even so, it was a terrifying existence.
A self-made demon. One who had the resolve and power to sacrifice everything in order to attain his ambitions. That was who the Nameless One was… who ‘Nowun’ was.
And that was also a possibility for himself.
After all, ‘Nazin’ and ‘Nowun’ had the same start.
Nazin felt the soft warmth from his heart and shook his head. “No. That won’t happen.”
A person capable of such ruthlessness. ‘No one’ could do that. And so he had become ‘no one’ in order to do so. A nameless ghost that went against the natural order and the entire world. A demon that was bound to result in everything’s destruction.
Although undeniably a Demon Lord, Nazin was not ‘no one’. Not now, and not ever again.
Power… That guy did it all for the sake of power. The power to surpass Serena, the power to not fear anything in the world.
“…But what’s the point of that power if you end up alone?”
That was the conclusion that Nazin reached.
The Nameless One and he had arrived at different ends, taken different paths.
And so, while that guy was undoubtedly strong… horrifyingly so, Nazin refused to give up.
After all… unlike that guy, he had something to protect.
“Is that so?” A soft and delicate voice echoed from behind.
Nazin froze and then sighed before turning around. “I thought you said that you’d stop reading my mind, Serena.”
An out of place female Japanese high school student sat atop a branch, idly swinging her legs. Hearing Nazin’s words, she smiled and then jumped off… or so it appeared. The moment she did, she vanished and reemerged directly beside Nazin.
The Demon Lord sighed. “Don’t you have anything better to do than bother me?”
“Sorry, sorry.” Serena waved her hand and said, “I just can’t help it. You’re too fun to tease.”
“Right. And you stick out as always.”
It was definitely an odd sight. They were in the middle of a completely fantasy setting, standing atop a tree higher than any building on Earth, and yet Serena was standing there with an ordinary white sailor shirt and pleated skirt.
Nazin shook his head and said, “Couldn’t you pick something more fitting? Or do you like cosplaying as a high school girl that much?”
Serena grinned. “What if I do? Are you planning to add me to your group of girls too?”
Nazin flushed but then recovered his composure and said, “As if. That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Serena laughed. “Yeah, I think it would be. I don’t think your precious princess would take kindly to me being around.”
Nazin blinked. “Which one?”
“Well, wouldn’t you like to know?”
Nazin rolled his eyes and turned his gaze back to the surroundings. “If you’re just here to waste time, would you mind being quiet? I’m trying to make plans to sort out the mess you tossed me into.”
“Me?” Serena shook her head. “I haven’t done anything. Well, I guess I did set the stage and help that Emperor summon some kids over, but I’m not the one who made him want to abduct and kill the elves you know?”
Nazin swept his gaze across the horizon and said, “Whatever you say, useless goddess.”
“Hey! I’m much better than that water girl!”
“Aqua… but whatever makes you sleep better at night.”
Serena huffed and stuck her tongue out.
Nazin ignored her and focused his gaze on the Northern Empire’s territory.
Although he couldn’t physically peer into the city, with his powers, he didn’t need to.
[Imperial Forces mobilizing. Estimated time of arrival: 1 month.]
“A month, huh?”
It would be a bit of a time crunch, but it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Nazin already got rid of most of the Braves the last time, and he doubted that Emperor had the resources to summon more. As for the soldiers, well he was far and above what any adventurer could hope to achieve, so it should end fine.
“You know, things are going to end poorly if you take the humans that lightly, ‘Demon Lord’.”
Nazin glanced over and raised an eyebrow. “Don’t tell me you’re planning on intervening?”
“Oh no.” Serena waved her hands and said, “This is the path that you chose. I’m just going to sit down on the sidelines and cheer you on.”
“Good.” Nazin turned back and said, “Stay that way.”
Serena draped her arm around Nazin’s shoulder and said, “I’m just saying, you’re going to be in for quite the shock if you think that you’re fine as you are.”
Nazin shrugged Serena off and frowned. “And why’s that?”
Serena stepped back and said, “As strong as you and your dragon are, the Emperor’s not someone you can dismiss. After all, he forcibly united the scattered human kingdoms in the span of a few years… And before he was even a teenager at that!”
Nazin frowned. “…But shouldn’t I be the strongest in the world?”
[Legend] granted unrivaled strength and speed and Saphira was one of those ancient beings of catastrophe that had been sealed away.
Even with all of that… Nazin should be cautious of the Emperor?
Serena crossed her arms behind her back and started pacing. “Oh you definitely are. In this world, you are, without a doubt, the absolute. In sheer stats, you can beat anybody up, even the real Demon Lord fuming down south.”
Nazin blinked. “…Then there’s no problem, right?”
Serena stared at Nazin a bit and then muttered, “So you really are different, huh?”
Serena shook her head. “It’s nothing! Just thinking to myself a bit. Anyway, it’s true that you’re the strongest, but that doesn’t mean you can be everywhere at once, does it?” She paused, “Well, maybe you can figure something out with that ridiculous power of yours, but it’s not like it’s infallible, you know?”
Nazin narrowed his eyes. “Just what are you playing at?”
“Nothing!” Serena smiled and said, “I genuinely want to help you, you know? After all, you’re doing your best to keep this world in order… and you’re on the side of my darling elves. How could I even think about harming you?”
“Right… Says the same person who would have let those ‘darling elves’ suffer the worst fate possible if I didn’t show up.”
Serena shrugged. “Well, a bit of tough love never hurt anyone, right? Turmoil breeds strength… You’re living proof of that, aren’t you?” She laughed and said, “Though, you really pulled a fast one with your choice of power.”
Nazin waved her off. “Yeah, yeah. Just go back to watching on that couch of yours, you useless goddess. Some of us actually have work to do.”
Serena laughed. “And that’s what I like about you, Mister ‘Nazin’. So honest and predictable… It’s refreshing.”
Nazin bristled at that and turned around to argue. When he did though, nobody was there.
Don’t slack on your training now, Mister Demon Lord! And don’t forget that time travel has its consequences!
“…As annoying as ever.” Nazin shook his head and stared back at the Northern Empire. After a few moments of thought, he muttered, “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more careful. Didn’t Titania say she wanted to go over some battle plans?”
With that thought in mind, Demon Lord Nazin walked off into a portal of darkness, emerging somewhere else.
The moment he did, a soft light appeared where the goddess had left, followed by the appearance of a woman wearing a pure white gown.
If Nazin were still around, he would immediately recognize her. At the same time, he would be confused.
The mysterious woman let out a dark grin and then muttered, “Just as planned. Now all I have to do is let those two play against each other and bide my time…”
A wicked cackle echoed through the air. When it died down, the woman had vanished, leaving everything as it was when Nazin left.