Domak sits on his bed, staring at a scuffed medallion with a pained expression on his face. The medallion bears an insignia of a sword surrounded by two wings. Engraved in those wings are many small stars that seem to glitter in the light.
Domak speaks in a low voice, “I’m sorry, Celes, I couldn’t protect her.”
Moments earlier, Lutz knocked on Domaks door. Lutz informed the blacksmith that Amara had gone off to fight the orcs that had killed her mother. It was a journey Amara wasn’t likely to return from. The adventurers guarding her wouldn’t be able to protect her if they got caught—not against an orc lord.
A dusty old suit of armor hangs in Domak’s closet. He carefully dresses in the celestial knights’ uniform; after all, he was a blacksmith for an inquisitor unit. Staring at himself in the mirror, he grinds his teeth before settling into a frown. He grabs his angelite knife and a shortsword and walks out the door. Down the street, several passersby stop and whisper fixated at the man’s outfit.
Finally, at the guardhouse entrance, Domak glances down at his medallion once again and takes a deep breath. He does not knock, instead taking hold of the handle he just walks in. He’s greeted by several guards.
“Domak, what are you—that outfit!” One of the guards remarks
“I hear ya guys got your hands on a demon?” Domak responds while raising his medallion with authority, “I was once part of an inquisitor unit. It’s of utmost importance that I check to make sure the restraints are set up properly.”
“Sir,” The guard gives a salute and walks Domak to the basement. “I take it you heard that your niece turned the demon in. Are you here to take out your anger on it like the chief did?”
“What did he do?!” Domak grabs the guard’s collar with wide eyes
“T-the demon is still alive; he just beat some sense into it.”
“Ya, guys, capture a demon alive, and what do you do? You immediately torture it,” Domak scoffs, “What a joke.”
Domak stands in front of the cell door and stares at the unconscious demon shackled up to the stone walls. A frown appears on his face and he barks at the guards. “Give me some time alone with this demon.”
“Sir,” The guard responds, handing Domak the cell key and heading upstairs with the other guards.
Domak unlocks the door and immediately runs inside, placing two fingers on Lunella’s neck. A pulse is felt, and he lets out a sigh of relief. “What have they done to you?”
He notices the knife still tabbed into Lunella’s leg and grabs it firmly before pulling it out in a single motion. Lunella springs awake and shouts out, but after noticing that it is Domak standing in front of her, she calms down and bites her lip. Domak carefully takes a bandage that he had in his pocket and wraps Lunella’s leg with it.
“Are ya okay, Luna?” he asks her.
“Do I look like it?” she responds with a monotonous voice before sighing. “Sorry, I shouldn’t say it like that. No, I’m not okay.”
“What did that guard chief do to ya?”
“Just punched me a lot then stabbed me in the leg,” she grimaces. “It really hurt, you know. What are you doing here?”
“I came to ask ya for help. Ama is in danger.”
Lunella blinks then balls her shackled fists. She speaks in a rough voice, “So?”
“So? You don’t care that she’s in danger?”
Lunella pulls at the shackles and yells out, “It’s her fault that I’m in this mess!”
“Perhaps you didn’t hear me. Ama’s life is in danger. If we don’t hurry, she could die.” Domak puts his hand on his forehead. “You two can work it out later. This goes a little beyond your petty disagreement.”
“Petty? I’m sorry, I just spent the night with a knife stabbed in my leg. Don’t act all holier-than-thou toward me.”
“That’s not. You don’t get it.”
“Oh, I don’t get it? I trusted her, and she betrayed me. She didn’t even attempt to talk it out; she just turned me in, and you know what she did?” Lunella bites her lip. “She looked the other way. Why should I help her.”
“Because, if she dies, you’ll never have a chance to talk it out!” Domak yells out and slams his fist against the bars of the cell. “Come on, give her a second chance. You promised that you wouldn’t hate her. I thought you were a good demon.”
“Well, maybe I’m sick of being a ‘good demon.’ All it brings is heartbreak, pain, and fear.”
“Well, I’m going, with or without ya. I’ll probably die, but her mother would kill me anyway if I didn’t even try.”Domak hangs his shoulders.“Ya let me down, Luna.”
Domak leaves the cell, closing the door behind him. He steps out of jail and leaves Lunella sitting there chained up as always.
I’m the victim here. Aren’t I doing the reasonable thing? Lunella stares into the distance and closes her eyes. Before long, she finds herself in a familiar room. She’s seated on the straw bed of the inn; looking out the window, she can see the gravel riverbank and the eternal darkness. Before long, the door opens, and a hooded figure walks in.
“Back already?” The ghost asks Lunella.
“What am I supposed to do? Amara betrayed me.”
“You’re really giving up?”
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand. You’re not even real.” Lunella gazes out the window into the eternal darkness. “She really was my friend. I liked her a lot.”
“That’s a lie,” the ghost says before sitting down next to Lunella, “you still like her.”
“Then why aren’t you going?”
“Because it hurts, and my decision is justified.”
“Perhaps you are justified, but what does that matter? People can justify anything if they try hard enough,” The ghost pats Lunella on her shoulders before pointing at her leg. “you experienced that yourself, didn’t you?”
Lunella nods in response.
The ghost continues “It’s not about what’s justified. It’s about who you are.”
“But I don’t know who I am; I don’t even have a memory.”
“And yet, all this time, you’ve clung to the idea of your humanity.” The ghost says with a smile, “It’s time to let go of the unknown past and decide on who you’re going to be.”
Lunella looks down at her hand. Who am I? I’m not a monster, just a girl. That’s not enough, though. Lunella tightens her hand into a fist, gripping it as if she were trying to break her bones. It’s not enough to be a peaceful demon because — I need to defend myself and those I care about.
The ghost asks, “Have you decided?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Lunella stands up. A harrowing image enters Lunella’s head, the sight of Amara being killed at the hands of the orcs. She slaps her hands against her cheeks and slowly looks up with clear eyes. “I’m going to save Amara, and nothing is going to stop me—”
Before she could finish her sentence, both the ghost and the inn turn to dust, leaving her swallowed in the darkness. A chill touches her skin as the temperature rapidly drops. When she stares into the dark, she sees two blue lights off in the distance. A deep thundering voice roars out, and Lunella’s body vibrates in resonance with it. “So this is the path you have chosen, young one.”
“Who are you?” Lunella speaks out in response to the mysterious voice
“I have been called many names; many have been lost among the stars. However young one, you may call me t̸̨͍͇̯͆͐͐ͅh̷͍̠̺̲̅̄͂e̷̞̮͑̎̏́ ̸̨̛̜̾̍̒̋̀c̶̡̥̲̟͎̎̎̒̀͘ö̸̲͍̃̈́̈́r̴̳̣͖̖͋͂̄ę̸͇̱͓̦̫̆͒͒̈”
Lunella cannot make out the name, but she speaks anyways, “What are you?”
“Young one, our connection is still too weak. If you desire truth, you must seek out the kin.”
“That is all the guidance I can offer, young one. I await the day we meet again. Now, I leave you with my blessing.”
The two blue eyes vanish, and Lunella finds herself awake in the cell hyperventilating. Two apathetic guards stand on duty as always. Stars, what the hell was that? She slowly gets control of her breathing once more. No, I don’t have time to wait around, pondering what that encounter was. More important things are at stake.
The guards look at her but don’t answer.
“Seriously? I haven’t spoken a word to you guys yet. How about you entertain me just this once?”
“What is it?” The left guard finally responds.
“Can you set me free? I need to save a few adventurers from becoming orc food.”
“Is this some kind of joke? No, we’ll never set you free.”
“Suit yourself.” Lunella pulls at the chains, but they won’t budge. “Come on!”
She continues to pull at the chains with all her might. She channels the flow of mana to her muscles, and she somehow begins to stretch the chains. The guards begin to panic a little bit and begin pacing around frantically. Damn it, I won’t let some piece of metal defeat me. I’m a demon for stars-sake! The guards hear a snap of metal, and for a second, they stand with their eyes quivering. The chain mounting the manacles to the walls is now shattered.
“Help, the demon is escaping!” The guards run up the steps to the upper floor, and a horn is heard.
Lunella reaches down and attempts to break the chain binding her legs. After the trial and error with her arms, she again applies mana to her muscles and breaks the legs chain at the weakest point. Lunella gives herself a satisfied smile. I’m not afraid of you humans anymore. I have lives to save. If you try to stop me now, I’ll show no mercy.
Free from the cuffs, she approaches the cell door and kicks it. She kicks it again—with a running start, she jumps into the door and kicks it with full force. The whole iron assembly breaks free from the stone holding it in place and crashes to the ground filling the room with dust. On the ground behind her, she takes the knife that was previously in her leg and, using it, cuts holes for her wings in the dress that she’s wearing.
She emerges from the dust and into the guardhouse’s first floor. Awaiting her, several archers stand ready, surrounding the opening. The guard chief stands at the forefront playing with a shiny white sword. “Hey demon! Looks like you have some fight in you after all. Get back in the cage, or I’ll use this holy sword on you.”
Lunella stands unfazed and addresses the room. “Earlier today, Amara and a group of adventurers set out on a suicide mission. I’m going to go save them. Are any of you going to come with and assist me?”
“Acting like you’re some sort of savior, there really are no bounds to your manipulations, demon.”
“I don’t have time for your inane ramblings.” Lunella begins to walk forward toward the door. “I’m leaving.”
“Oh no, you don’t,” The guard chief stammers with his sword drawn, ready to strike. The surrounding archers all aim at the demon.
Lunella wheezes out a sigh, “I’m sick of this.”
The guard begins to swing down the angelite sword toward Lunella—the sword doesn’t hit anything—Lunella’s fist collides with the guard’s armor causing him to go flying across the room with a loud bang. The archers seem to be too shocked to fight back. The guard chief’s armor appears warped, and the person inside is out cold.
Lunella puts her shaking hands together, and in a quiet whisper, she speaks, “Put the bows down and treat his wounds.”
Before the archers can react to the scene that just played out, Lunella walks out the door and takes off into the night. Leaving the town guards in shambles.