The Righteous and the Unnatural

Lily did not slow down, continuing her approach as she saw Vessel withdraw her blade from its place in the neck of the Demon King. As she watched on, the Demon King fell to his knees, his head slumping forward. He did not cry. He did not struggle. He did not rage. He simply… knelt there, dying in silence. His body did not fall – it remained in an upright position, his wings rigidly piercing the ground to support his weight, such that he did not fall, even in death. A wave of silence spread across the field, which then erupted into waves of cheering amidst the human army. On the other side of the circle, the demon army expressed a murmur of disbelief. Lily was not surprised. The title of the Demon King was granted to the strongest of the species. If the strongest among them had fallen, those that were left would likely not stand a chance in battle with his opponent.

A loud cry of anguish caused Lily to turn her attention to her side, watching Victoria cupping her head in her hands. She was too late. She had rushed here to fulfill her duty, but she was too late – she had failed. Lily sympathised with her, but was not nearly as surprised. From the moment she had left, Lily had taken this possibility into account. Between the time she had spent in the forest and the time she had spent in Riasode, the human army’s head start had grown too large. Her intention, after all, had never been to protect the Demon King – her only objective here was to enact revenge on Vessel.

Victoria growled and drew her dagger, placing it to her wrist – a demon blood oath, an oath that swore revenge. Lily, alarmed, called out to her.

“Stop that. Remember what I said. Vessel is mine.”

Victoria snapped her head to glare at Lily, who levelly matched her gaze. Then, sighing, she slowly moved the weapon away from her wrist and returned it to its sheath.

“Fine. I probably going to have to take out some of this frustrations on the humans, though.”

“As you will. Their survival is not my concern.”

“…Such callousness, even though you, too, are a human. I’m frankly astounded.”

Lily’s nonchalance shook Victoria, forcing her to turn her thoughts away from thoughts of vengeance and instead to contemplate about the enigmatic individual in front of her. Rather than providing any answer, however, Lily simply turned her lip upward in a slight grin and sped up. Was she, in fact, still human? No. No longer. She was something different. Something wholly unnatural. Something which should not exist. She was, by all accounts, an abomination. And that was exactly what she wanted. For her existence defied the natural laws of the world – and, by extension, defied the laws set by the gods. What better way to slight the deities than to have their greatest creation – Vessel – fall at the hands of an aberration?

Vessel turned away from the fallen body of her adversary. Perhaps a human might have paid respects to the thing, offerred it some honorable words. She did no such thing. She was not a human. Human concepts of honor and respect meant nothing to her. She had a mission, given to her by her Lord Kuldevic, and to carry it out was the purpose of her existence. And with this moment, with this battle, she had accomplished her mission. With the Demon King dead, the demons, with their sense of honor, would likely comply with the agreement she had set out and surrender. Naturally, their surrender meant nothing. The demons were aberrations, anomalies. They were not creations of the gods, and were thus below the creations of the gods. Their very existence was impure, unholy, sacrilegious – they could not be allowed to walk the same earth as the creations of the gods. If the demons did not surrender now, she would lead her army and tear through their ranks – their strongest had fallen, and so their morale would be shaken. They would be easy prey. Even if the demons surrendered, they would be put to death nonetheless. A surrender simply ensured it would take less effort to do so. That was the course of action her Lord had ordained, and that was the course toward which she was committed.

She walked toward her army, facing them, and held up her sword triumphantly, in a display of victory. The cheers of the human army buffeted her, but her face remained impassive. She did not understand the human need for such extraneous symbolism. It seemed a waste of effort to her. Still, her Lord had tasked her with being the leader of humanity, and so she would do so, learning their customs and imitating their foolish ways. If humans were a species so easily satisfied, then the duty fell to her to provide them their satisfaction.

However, even as she started walking towards her own lines – it would have been much faster to fly, but she knew that the humans needed to believe that their champion was as human as them – one thing worried her. Ever since the day she had been born into this world, devoid of sight, her Lord Kuldevic had shown her the way, had painted a picture of the future in her mind, directing her, guiding her. But now that picture was blurry. The future that lay before her was uncertain, for some reason. Some factor existed that defied the clairvoyance of her lord – a defiance that was highly troubling. As she mused over this matter, she became aware of a presence rapidly approaching her from above. A hostile presence. Alarmed, she brought her blade upward in a swing, barely in time to intercept an attack from a gauntleted fist that had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

Thrown backward by the force of the impact, Vessel rapidly flared her wings to regain control over her movement. The impact had caused a cloud of dust to appear over the spot she had been standing, obscuring the image of her opponent. However, she instantly knew who had just attacked her, striking a blow with such an intensity of conviction and anger. As if to confirm her suspicions, a dragon landed slightly further off in the distance, between herself and the front lines of her army. It loosed a deep, primal roar as a demon with a spear jumped off its back. She had barely enough time to register these sounds before her assailant burst out from the cover of the dust cloud, closing the distance in a fraction of a second. Again, she was barely able to bring up her weapon to block the attack, but this time, her opponent did not stop after one strike. Taking advantage of the short distance that Vessel had been pushed, her opponent followed each strike with a charge and another strike. Vessel was forced on the defensive, parrying blow after blow, constantly driven back. In the distance, she could discern the soldiers in her army attempting to come to her aid, but they were being held back by the combination of the dragon and the demon woman. The demons behind her were watching, but not moving to aid her adversary – their king had struck a deal, and it was their duty to uphold it in his absence. Finally, with a shout, she released a burst of magic into her surroundings, pushing her opponent back. Taking advantage of the temporary lapse in combat, she brought her weapon into a ready position in front of her, assuming a proper stance. However, the next attack did not come. When the dust cleared, she found herself facing Lily – a strange existence. The woman who stood across from her and glared with hostility was somehow unusual. Vessel felt a distinct sense of wrongness from her existence. She spoke up, not relaxing her stance.

“Desist. This Vessel has no quarrel with you.”

Lily laughed harshly.

“That may be so, but I certainly have a quarrel with you.”

“I presume this is regarding that doll that you kept?”

Lily clenched her fists harder and ground her teeth.

“Do not call her a doll. She was alive. She was a person. She was certainly more human than you.”

“Yet it was a doll. An artificial creation, born outside of the grace of the gods. It was an abomination. It had no right to exist.”

Lily grew deathly quiet, her face assuming an expression of calm. When she next spoke, it was akin to a whisper.

“…Say that again. Say that she had no right to exist. Go on.”

“It was unnatural. The world has no place for a thing like that doll. It could not condone the doll’s existence. All this Vessel did was to restore things to their natural state. That doll should not have ever come into being.”

Lily’s body shook with barely contained rage. She glared at Vessel, hatred and grief comingling in her mismatched eyes. A menacing growl escaped her lips.

“If the world had no place for Iris, then I have no place for the world. If the world could not condone the existence of my wife, then I shall not condone the existence of the world. If the gods could not approve of Iris, then I cannot approve of the gods. So I’ll burn them. I’ll burn the world down, destroy the creations of the gods, every last one of them. I’ll tear down the world they love so dearly, and climb over the rubble to reach the gods and tear them apart. I’ll destroy the gods and their beloved creations.”

Lily’s arms glowed, and blades of amber mana appeared along them, one blade on each arm, originating from a slit along the back of her wrist, emerging from vambrace-like objects that were a part of her body. She allowed her anger to flood her body as she snarled out her next sentence.

“And of course, I’m starting with you.”

She charged.