The Damned Demon - Chapter 379: Stand Strong Or Fall
As the embers from the explosion still glowed in the night, a tall figure clad in black armor that seemed to absorb the light around it descended towards Asher on her mount.
The blood-red slits of her helmet betrayed no emotion, and her crimson cape fluttered dramatically in the night breeze.
"Are you alright, Your Highness?" Eradicator's stoic voice, muffled slightly by her helmet, echoed beside his ears.
Asher, still thinking about what happened, gave a silent nod. His form returned to normal, but his gaze remained distant. Fortunately, he survived Kira only because his Rupture of the Damned ability activated on its own as if knowing he was about to die. It was a good thing he learned about it.
Shoichi was also nowhere to be seen, and based on the remains here, it didn't seem like he died nor could he be that weak to die instantaneously. He was pretty sure Kira had warned him about escaping the moment he got trapped in the illusory world she had created in his mind.
It now made more sense why Shoichi was so protective of her. The two must be from the fallen Eclipsion Kingdom and he must be from the vulpini tribe on her mother's side.
But what concerned him was that Kira was a dangerous threat on the loose, and he knew she had a very powerful information network that she must have built over a century.
She must also have some powerful allies who may even die for her after getting beguiled by her charms.
He had no idea what she was planning to do next and when she might try to attack his kingdom.
Eradicator shifted, her armor clinking softly, "Your Highness, you shouldn't linger here. This place... it could lead to misunderstandings among the people."
Regaining his focus, Asher glanced down at the gathering crowd below. Their faces reflected a mix of fear and confusion.
How weird it was to be spotted at a brothel on the day of getting declared to be their king.
He cursed Kira under his breath for dragging him into this scandal, especially on this day.
But then, an idea sparked in his mind, "No need to worry about that," he said, more to himself than to Eradicator. With a swift motion, he floated down towards the crowd, raising his hands in a gesture of peace.
"Everyone, please, calm down," Asher spoke, his voice carrying a calming authority that seemed to resonate with the crowd. His presence, a blend of regal composure and a hint of mystical power, immediately began to ease the tension in the air.
The crowd's murmurs quieted as they turned their attention to him. Asher knew he had to spin this situation to his advantage before his enemies used this to turn the narrative against him.
It was not like he had to conjure any lies though.
He let out a heavy sigh, which seemed to carry the weight of the kingdom.
The people, already tense, leaned in closer, their faces a mix of anticipation and concern.
Some were already feeling skeptical about what he was doing here at this time of the night.
"I have bad news to break to you," Asher announced finally, his voice steady yet filled with a gravity that immediately silenced the murmurs.
A collective gasp rippled through the crowd, a wave of anxiety washing over them. They exchanged worried glances, each person bracing for the unknown.
"The Madam of Honeyed Pearl, whom many of you know and have visited, was not who she appeared to be," Asher continued, his gaze sweeping over the crowd, "She was an enemy in disguise, a danger hiding in plain sight within our kingdom."
The revelation struck like a bolt of lightning, leaving the crowd, especially the men, visibly shocked. Whispers of disbelief swirled among them, their faces reflecting a mix of betrayal and heartbreak.
For many, the Temptress Supreme had been a figure of allure and fascination; now, she was the face of treachery?!
"I just saw her divine visage last night. How could someone like her be planning all this??" A nobleman lamented as tears formed in his eyes.
"Shhh. Do you dare doubt the words of our future king? Do you think he came here for fun when he is married to our all-powerful and beautiful queen? I always knew that foxy bitch was too good to be true," A noblewoman said with a look of contempt.
"An anonymous informant revealed her true identity to me," Asher elaborated, his words measured, "I acted immediately upon this intelligence and confronted her. I could have come here with a huge army, but then she would use that as a warning to escape. So, I had no choice but to try and take her down on my own. Unfortunately, since she had been here for a long time, she already had contingencies in place for situations like this and managed to escape."
He paused, letting the gravity of the situation sink in. The crowd was hanging onto every word, their initial shock turning into a thirst for answers.
Asher decided to not mention Kira was the last Caleumbra alive until he discussed this with Rowena and let her decide.
However, House Thorne was surely going to hate him more because of this, but at the same time, they would feel relieved since it was better than Kira executing her plans right under their noses.
"She is dangerous, and her escape poses a threat to us all. But I assure you, I will not rest until she is captured and punished. She will answer for her attempts to sabotage our kingdom," Asher declared, his determination clear in his voice.
The crowd nodded in agreement, their expressions hardening with resolve, though some of the men were still in shock, suffering from heartbreak.
For so many years, they had pined for the heart of the Temptress Supreme, but now not only did she turn out to be an enemy of the kingdom but also out of their reach forever.
And the very same night, so many men were unable to sleep and kept drinking to heal their broken hearts.
Asher stepped into Rowena's study room late at night, his footsteps muted against the rich carpet. The room was barely lit, with only a few candles flickering, casting long shadows on the walls.
As usual, she was always up here late at night. But now she seemed even more busy considering what happened not too long ago.
Rowena, absorbed in her task, was using her Whisper Stone to send out a flurry of instructions. Her face was a picture of concentration and regal responsibility.
Upon noticing Asher, her expression softened, and she set aside the Whisper Stone. Standing up, she looked at him with a mix of concern and relief in her eyes, "Are you alright?" she asked, her voice betraying a hint of worry.
Asher offered her a reassuring smile, "Yes, I'm fine. But you shouldn't spend too much time and resources on this hunt for Kira. It's unlikely we'll catch her using conventional methods," he advised, his tone practical yet gentle.
Rowena sighed, acknowledging his point, "I'm aware," she admitted, "But as queen, it's my duty to act, even if the results aren't guaranteed. It's about reassuring our people and maintaining order. You'll also have to do things like this when you become the king tomorrow."
Then, her expression shifted to one of curiosity and concern, "But why do you believe Kira is so dangerous? What makes a vulpinari a significant threat? Even if she is a peak Soul Devourer, she can't be too dangerous."
Asher's eyes narrowed as he recounted the events, detailing Kira's unexpected powers and her true identity. As he spoke, Rowena's eyes grew wider with every word.
"She...is the last Caleumbra? That's..." Rowena whispered in disbelief, her voice barely audible. The revelation seemed to shake her usual composure, bringing a rare look of astonishment to her face.
Asher nodded, his expression serious, "It seems not every Caleumbra perished all those years ago. The real issue is Kira's vendetta. She wants to annihilate our kingdom because of its role, including your father's, in the downfall of her kingdom. Did you know about this?"
Rowena's eyes reflected a complex mixture of memories and cold detachment. She exhaled softly, "Yes, I was aware. My father once confided in me about the necessity to obliterate the Eclipsion Kingdom. They were seen as a burgeoning threat, potentially aligning with the Draconians or the werewolves to dominate our realm. He chose secrecy over public revelation, attributing their downfall to our enemies to let any lingering Eclipsion sympathizers target them instead of us. He told me so that I would take the same measures if a situation like that arises again."
Her gaze hardened, the queen in her resurfacing, "Kira's vendetta, though understandable, is misdirected. She only has her kingdom to blame. If you pose a danger, you either stand strong or fall. We can't afford to make the same mistake again."
Asher's brow arched slightly, absorbing her words. The ruthless nature of demon politics wasn't lost on him, but Rowena's indifferent acceptance struck a chord.
But he could see she was thinking like a queen, and any demon ruler would consider this normal.
When one excels at something, they garner attention, and demons seek to take advantage of them.
So, just like Rowena said, one had to either have the power to discourage anyone from taking advantage of them or succumb or fall to others, for nobody in this world would sit still while letting a potential threat grow in power.
The same happened with Draconis Kingdom, which grew in power rapidly over time, and he knew this was what Rowena meant by saying they could not afford to make the same mistake again.
This was also why he wasn't surprised the Bloodburn Kingdom covertly tried to kill every Caleumbra. Otherwise, those like Kira would come back with a vengeance.
All this contrasted starkly with things on Earth where the entire world would judge for destruction at this level while a number of organizations promoting all kinds of rights and welfare would also put their noses in.
"But did they really pose a threat to us? From what Kira said, it seems like we destroyed them for their power," Asher asked with furrowed brows.
Rowena shook her head and asked with strong confidence in her eyes, "Would you rather believe an enemy or our kingdom?"
Asher fell into a dilemma, and he knew Rowena had absolute faith in her father and everything he must have told her.
He also didn't know if Kira was telling the truth, but he felt that she wasn't lying. Why would she if she was going to kill him?
However, he couldn't convince Rowena what was wrong or right without solid proof.
But even if Kira was telling the truth and had every right to be angry, she was targeting his kingdom.
No matter how tragic her past was, he couldn't let her destroy everything he painstakingly earned. He suffered years of torture and lost an entire lifetime. Just like Kira, he also couldn't let anyone stand in his way.
"You are right. Don't worry. We won't let her touch our kingdom," Asher said with cold determination, making Rowena's expression soften as she placed her hand on his cheek and said, "I know. She could pose a serious threat to us in the future and we will destroy her before she does anything to our kingdom. But for now, we should now focus on your coronation tomorrow. Nothing is more important," Her eyes softened as she added with a hint of warmth on her face, "I want it to happen without any hiccups and-"
Before she could complete her sentence, Asher's hand suddenly wrapped around a startled Rowena's waist as he pulled her closer and smirked, "That can wait. I will be becoming the king tomorrow, but it doesn't change that I am your husband, and I shouldn't neglect my duties as one, especially this late at night."
Rowena's face began to form a reddish hue as her eyelashes fluttered, and averted her gaze, "Let's…go to our chambers…" She said in a low voice, her hands on his arms, and couldn't believe he wanted to do it here, a place where she worked. There was also a huge dignified portrait of her father hanging on a wall, facing them.
While he was away during the quest, she even made arrangements for him to sleep in her room and let him use it as his own room. She made sure to let him know right after their Sacred Union was over.
And still he...
"No need to worry about losing face here. We are alone, and this entire castle is ours. We can do whatever the hell we want anywhere," Asher said with a wink.
"You know no restraint..." Rowena said in a low, chiding voice, though her words contrasted with losing strength in her hands that was holding him back.
"But you love that about me," Taking it as his cue, he grabbed her round, soft buttocks and lifted her up onto his body, her big breasts pressing against his chest like a pair of soft, large sweet buns. His hands were already busy pulling apart the back of her gown, revealing her alluring and curvy naked back.
Rowena couldn't find it in herself to answer his shameless comment and could only put her arms around his neck, letting him seal her lips with his.
But the moment she felt his warmth and smelled his tantalizing blood, she began to forget any embarrassment she felt earlier.
And for the next few hours, the merciless consort didn't let his queen get back to work by keeping her supply body busy on the table with his one-eyed dragon.