Lily fidgeted in her throne. It was a high-backed, hard, simple thing, carved of sort sort of ivroy-like material, with a cushion on the seat being the only allowance made for comfort. The seat itself was clearly designed for someone of a larger build, with her lithe frame barely filling out the seat. The armrests were slightly too high for her taste, though they caused no great discomfort. What made her shuffle about the most was undoubtedly the backrest – a matter not helped by the protruding metal wings she bore on her back. She briefly wondered how her predecessor – himself a winged creature – had been able to sit on this seat, but then she remembered that he had the ability to retract his wings at will – an ability which she unfortunately lacked. Lily made a quick mental note to either modify the throne or her back later on – likely the throne. It would be easier to do so.
The throne hall was spacious but barren – the ceiling rose up high above the ground, a wide, flat ceiling that completely sealed the hall into a cavernous rectangular box. Large, steelclad twin doors stood on the other side of the hall, opposite from her throne, a throne which stood on a raised platform that allowed her to look down over the remainder of the hall – a platform flanked by three sets of stairs: one on each side, and one leading up from the space between the throne and the doors. The floor of the hall was carpeted in red, but was otherwise unfurnished. Several hundred wooden chairs had been brought in from numerous storerooms for the present occasion, but these chairs, too, were simple of make and lacking in comfort. Light streamed into the hall from the large, diamond-shaped windows that ran along the walls, illuminating the crowd of demons that streamed in, casting their horns and wings and tails in sharp relief. The light filtered through a pair of wispy, translucent serving-girls who stood by the twin doors, showing the invitees to their allocated places. It lent their countenance a bit of a sparkle. In a constant stream of entrants, demons from various noble families, demons of rank in the military, influential demon merchants, and a few randomly selected members of the common folk filtered into the hall and took up their seats – Lily had previously gone over the seating plan, and had made sure to seat the commoners with the nobles, the military men with the merchants. Perhaps most unsettlingly, she had made sure to include various humans – including Roan – from the cities which had demons and humans coexisting. Several of the demons clearly took issue with the seating arrangements and directed glares of malcontent at Lily as they took their seats.
Lily sighed and turned her thoughts to the numerous other matters she had to address – primarily, that of those that remained of the human army. Having lost their leader, the humans had quickly lost their will to fight and had soon surrendered. Lily supposed it was inevitable given the circumtstances – faith had inspired them to fight like zealots, but once the symbol of this faith had fallen, their morale crumbled. Some had continued trying to fight, but the majority had thrown down their arms. Lily had made it a point to completely annihilate those who had continued to fight, to quench thoughts of resistance, but had given strict orders to leave those who surrendered unharmed. There had been some instances of demon platoons ignoring her orders and abusing the human prisoners, but Lily had sent Prei to punish the perpetrators, and these incidents quickly ended.
As it were, the humans had been taken back to the shore, where they would be forced to crew their ships and turn back home. Considering that many humans had died in the war, Lily decided that they would not require all their ships. Thus, she had decreed that the humans would be given only enough ships necessary to transport the remnants of their forces home – any ships left over would be taken as spoils of war. Of course, Lily’s attempts at deportation were facing numerous issues, such as escapees or violent behaviour, and that was what weighed on her mind most heavily at this time: She felt a strong desire to oversee the process herself, but Victoria had informed her of the importance of the ceremony on this day – an importance which Lily understood, but also one which she found annoying. There were other duties which she had to look into, but they, too had been put on hold for this ceremony.
Lily shifted in her throne, partly bothered by the backrest, but mostly anxious about the ceremony to come. Fifty days had passed since Regis – her predecessor – had died, and tradition dictated that the new Demon King – or in this case, Queen – had to be crowned on this day. While Lily had long since assumed most of Regis’ duties and authority, this was apparently a formality which was considered of supreme importance. According to Victoria, she should have been wearing a special ceremonial robe for the occasion, but they had foregone it in this instance for three reasons. The first, because Lily was the first Demon Queen and this robe was designed for male demons who were much larger in build. The second, because there was no time to design and create a new robe. The third, because the mechanical armor that dotted Lily’s body in her current form made it a veritable nightmare to design clothing for her. As such, Lily sat naked upon her throne, facing a throng of demons and humans wearing formal attire. She sighed, fully aware of how much she stood out, and decided to focus on preparing for her speech, instead.
Once the last guest filed in and the large twin doors were closed by the servant-girls, the murmuring of the assembled crowd began to grow softer and slower, gradually fading into an expectant silence as the crowd looked at Lily, waiting for her to speak. Lily took a deep breath and briefly touched the female face that was engraved on her left shoulder, feeling courage and confidence welling up within her. Even when Iris was no longer physically by her side, just thinking on her gave Lily a special kind of strength. When she felt ready, Lily stood up and threw out her left arm, holding it at a right angle to her body. There, the red brand that marked her authority glowed and pulsed, drawing the attention of every individual in the room. This was the mark that she was the legitimate inheritor of the title of King, and commanded absolute obedience from all demons: no demon could speak an untruth while in the presence of the brand, and commands issued on the authority of the brand had to be obeyed. As the crowd gazed on her, Lily spoke the words she had been told by the spirit of the previous Regis, before he passed on – modified slightly to fit her sex.
“By this mark that has chosen me as its bearer, by the authority granted me by those who came before, I hereby declare my authority as Queen. Bearer of the Brand, Lord of Demons, Queen of the Dark, Enemy of the Gods, I hereby assume the role and title of Queen. Upon this brand I pledge to lead the Demon peoples to greater heights. I pledge to never seek harm upon the Demon peoples. I pledge to work for the good of the Demon peoples. I pledge to protect and safeguard the Demon peoples. To this day I have been known as Lily Voirgaire. Henceforth, until the time of my passing, I shall be known as Demon Queen Lily. I am your queen and your liege, and I seek your fealty!”
The brand glowed briefly blue, then white, then returned to a pulsating red, glowing brighter than before. Every guest in the hall – including the humans who had likely been informed of due process by demon fellows – stood up and placed their hands over their necks, two fingers touching their lips, silently standing at attention. The demon gesture for swearing absolute loyalty – loyalty so powerful as to not require words. Lily nodded in acknowledgement and let her arm fall back to her side. As she did, the crowd took their seats again and waited – it was customary for the new King to give a speech. Lily remained standing, waiting for all her guests to be seated, then spoke, in a voice that was clear and steady.
“I should probably start by addressing some of the unconventional choices I’ve made. The first is, of course, my name. Unlike my predecessor, and his predecessor, or any other Demon King who has reigned, I have not changed my name to Regis, nor do I intend to. This is for two reasons. The first is because Regis is a male name. I am the first Demon Queen to hold power, and thus I am setting precedents for any who follow after me. Having to use a male name and to refer to myself with a male name would feel strange. I am choosing to use my own name so that any Queens who come after me may point to me as a precedent if they wish to do the same. But the second reason is arguably more important.
The second reason is that I want to remain as Lily. This is the name that those closest to me know me as, this is the name I know myself as. I am Queen now, and I have assumed the duties and responsibilities of this position, but I will not stop being Lily. I refuse to stop being Lily. As all of you are no doubt aware, I am not a Demon by birth. I am a human. Though perhaps it might be more accurate to classify me as a machine at this point. I was born a human, but over time, through various experiences, I had become something entirely different. Not a human, not a demon. I have become an abomination, an amalgam of different species. I believe a similar amalgamation is required for the demon race to continue thriving.
All of you know, I’m sure, of the recent campaign mounted by a human army. They were led by a messenger of one of the gods – particularly, Kuldevic – the god of war and justice. This is the first time in the history of the demon race that a god has taken such a clearly aggressive action, and I fear that it is a sign of times to come. This was the first incursion, but it will not be the last. Kuldevic is breaking rules, crossing lines he should not cross – and his objective is our eradication. If we are to avoid this, we need to think about how we can adapt to this new threat. Even if we fight off the gods’ forces at every incursion, we cannot thrive as long as this threat looms over us.
If we are to combat this threat, we need to accept differences and learn to take ideas and developments from those unlike us. There are numerous humans seated among demons in this hall today, and I’m sure some demons want an explanation – an understandable demand. I have no doubt that this seating arrangement upsets some of you. You were, after all, just fighting against humans until recently. Seeing people who look like the enemy seated among you cannot be easy.
However, I believe it is such a society that we need to build if we wish to win this war against the gods. Demons are strong, fast, intelligent – yes. That you possess superior physical abilities is undeniable. But you cannot use magic. Humans can use magic, can use mana to shape the world to their liking – but they are weak, fragile and slow in comparison to demons. Imagine what we can do by supplementing the innate strengths of demons with human magic. Imagine what we could do if we could build a society which takes advantage of both our races’ strengths. This, I believe, is the way to go if we are to win the war that approaches. I hope that I, as an abomination of different races, can serve as an example of this union. I am part human, part machine, and yet hold the title of demon queen. If we can build a society like this – part human, part demon, assisted by machines – our chances of victory will be significantly higher. And that is why I shall retain my name. I am not Lily Voirgaire, the human. Nor am I Regis, the Demon King. I am Demon Queen Lily – both a human and a demon. I hope you can understand.”
Lily paused to gauge the reaction – while there was a little murmuring, most of the assembled crowd remained focused on her and her speech. However, she could feel that the malicious gazes directed towards the humans had become slightly less malicious, and thus she breathed a quick sigh of relief before continuing.
“I shall now announce my new appointments. I’m going to start with a post that I have only recently created, the first of its kind in demon history. As I’ve already mentioned, I believe the way forward lies in developing a union between human, demon and machine. It should then come as no surprise that, in my capacity as ruler, I will be prioritising technological development. This is the means, I believe, that will help us attain a level of power and development high enough to challenge the gods in the shortest amount of time. This will require someone to oversee the development of new technologies in our land. This is the duty to the new post I have created – the Chief of Development. The Chief of Development will be in charge of all technological developments, and possesses authority second only to my own. As for the candidate, I have selected her based on her ability as a craftsman – ability that many can attest to and that most of you have surely heard of. I hereby appoint Tate Clarimonde to the position of Chief of Development.”
Tate stood up and turned to face the audience, which erupted into applause. Her name was hardly unknown – almost every noble in attendance either owned or had sought to own one of her masterpieces. She was, without doubt, the greatest smith in the land. Once the applause died down, Lily continued.
“The next appointment is the appointment to the position of Supreme Commander of the Demon Armies – a position many of you are no doubt familiar with. In charge of the operations and movements of the entirety of our military force, the appointee will additionally be serving as my advisor and aide. I hereby appoint Victoria Lunus Fangheldt to the position of Supreme Commander of the Demon Armies.”
Victoria, clad in her dress uniform, stood up and faced the crowd, which showered her with applause. From Lily’s understanding, she was rather popular among the nobles, known for her diligence and keen wit. She was experienced in battle, had admirable leadership qualities, and was someone Lily knew she could trust as an advisor. After all, Regis had said that he was originally intending to crown Victoria as Queen. There was no better option. Lily had toyed with the idea of granting the position to Prei, for a while, but Prei had no experience in large-scale military movements, and in any case, Lily had a seperate plan for her daughter.
“The final appointment I shall make today is the appointment of my daughter, Prei Voirgaire. I understand that this may appear at first sight to be favoritism, but Prei’s abilities in combat are unmatched – as many can attest to. I have appointed her simply because I feel like she is the most capable of protecting me in my moments of vulnerability. I hereby appoint Prei Voirgaire to the position of Captain of the Royal Guard.”
Prei, wearing her full set of armor, stood up and turned around, Myriad in hand. She was greeted with thunderous applause – mainly from the members of the military, all of whom had seen her single-handedly hold back the human army during Lily’s duel with Vessel. Any who had seen Prei in combat could not deny her talent – she was objectively the best choice for keeping the Queen safe. Once the applause died down, Prei took her seat again, and Lily cleared her throat to prepare for her concluding statements.
“These are the primary appointments to key positions I shall make today. Appointments to other positions are still under deliberation, and shall be addressed at a later date. For now, however, I wish to make an oath to all of you.
I am the Demon Queen now. I’ve never ruled a country. I’ve never held such a position of power. I can’t guarantee that I know what I’m doing. I can’t promise that I’ll always do the right thing, the best thing. I can’t promise that I won’t lead you astray.
What I can promise, however, is that I will do my utmost to ensure our prosperity and growth. I will do all that is within my power to protect my people. I will do all I can such that our race will one day walk the whole expanse of this world, unfettered, unafraid. I will do all that is within my power such that one day, we need no longer live in fear of the gods.
And to do so, we will need to tear them down from their seats in heaven. This is the only concrete thing I will promise. I don’t know how long it will take. Nor do I care. Whether it takes me a year, ten years, a hundred years, or even millennia, I will defeat the gods. I will tear them down from their thrones. This I swear, upon the Brand and upon my name. I will destroy the gods, the oppressors of our race. I hope that you will support me as I endeavour to do so. So that one day, as a single people, we may breach the heavens and eradicate those beings that would attempt to shape the world. Thus is my promise.”
As she finished speaking, Lily flared out her wings, sending waves of red mana pulsating through them, lending her countenance a menacing appearance. As she did, the gathered demons watched on in awed silence for several moments, then erupted into a cheer of approval and a wave of firm support. Several individuals began to chant her name, a cry that was slowly taken up by all within the hall, until the same line echoed over and over throughout the throne hall.
“Hail Demon Queen Lily! Hail!”
Lily allowed the chants to wash over her, then glanced out the window and upwards, glaring at some invisible point beyond the clouds.
I’m coming for you, Kuldevic. No matter how long it takes. I will see you destroyed.