William showed up at the meeting location, a different one this time. It was actually quite a nice place, with a stream flowing nearby. It was strange to think it had been about ten years since he met the demoness. The previous meeting had been somewhat enlightening, but without an concrete help for defeating the demon king. There was only the mysterious scroll which gave a vague feeling of… something.
He sat on a smooth rock near the stream and waited. He’d already checked for ambushes, though the feelings he got from the last time told him it was unlikely there would be one. It was probably also unnecessary for the demoness, even if she couldn’t beat him alone, it would be close. Realistically, though, there wasn’t any need for them to kill William even if they worked for the Demon King, which they obviously didn’t.
Regardless of the truth, William found it hard to relax, for various reasons. He didn’t even know if there would be any helpful information this time, though he felt it was likely. The scroll from the last time would probably only really be relevant once the Demon King reincarnated, though William was certain it wouldn’t solve all their problems even if they figured out the mysteries it contained. He decided to try to relax by closing his eyes and listening to the sound of the stream.
“A demon lord is going to attack.”
The voice came unexpectedly, causing William to jump up… and fall off his rock. It was hard to stand up from a cross legged position. After he picked himself up off the ground and looked around, he saw the demoness looking at him from a few meters away. She wasn’t laughing on the outside, but William thought he saw a slight grin on her face, though it could have been his imagination as it quickly disappeared. “Well, that was abrupt.”
“Last time you didn’t seem interested in smalltalk. Should I have started with a statement about the weather?”
“Well,” William looked up at the clear skies, “You could at least have said ‘greetings’ or something. Do you know when this attack is?” A demon lord was just any powerful demon. Theoretically, they wouldn’t be reincarnated, and would have less supporters. Thus, they would be less dangerous than the Demon King… but that didn’t mean they couldn’t start a deadly war. Hopefully, at least, they would only cause “normal” deaths instead of being able to annihilate souls like the Demon King.
The demoness held out a scroll. “It will probably be about five years before they are prepared. A general outline of the probable army makeup is included here.” William took the scroll and looked at it. It contained a large amount of information. “Well, these are approximations at best.”
William looked back up at the demoness. “So, why give us this information?” She might hate the Demon King, but that didn’t mean she was really an ally or friend to humans. She certainly hadn’t stated any such thing.
She slightly smiled. “Well, although I don’t hate this guy as much as the Demon King… he’s currently my least favorite of those living at this moment. Unfortunately, I can’t just go kill him, so I figure letting you humans prepare gives a higher probability of him dying.” She shrugged her shoulders slightly.
At that, William had to wonder if she had encouraged him to send an army, or if he already had such plans. Although she had been friendly towards him, she was obviously also helping them because it would benefit her. William had no way to judge her true character, though she was obviously capable of political scheming since she had survived for a long time while still opposing the Demon King, if not openly. If she had instigated the attack in any way, there wasn’t much William could do about it. William knew she had the answers, of course, but he didn’t think asking such questions would be good for his continued longevity if she really were scheming against the humans as well. As she turned around to leave, William stopped her. “Wait, I have some questions… if you have time.”
She turned back. “Well, this time… I do. However, I’ll have you answers questions for me, too. One for one.”
“What if we don’t want to answer one of the questions?” William wasn’t sure what type of questions would be asked. He definitely wasn’t going to give out any information that would compromise Ostana or any of the other human nations, though it seems like the demons may have spies giving them such information already.
The demoness shrugged. “Then you ask for a different question… or we can just leave.”
William nodded. “What’s your name?” The question came out unbidden. There were certainly more important things to ask, but that was what William’s mouth said.
She put on a thoughtful look. “Unfortunately, I can’t answer that one, on the small chance my name finds its way back to the Demon King. Ask something else.”
William was disappointed, but also glad he hadn’t wasted a question on that one, though it wasn’t necessary that he would have a limit on numbers, they should be important questions. Thus, thinking of the future, he came up with another question. “Do demon’s horns… do anything?” They obviously weren’t for goring people with, since human-shaped bodies weren’t made for butting heads.
The demoness actually smiled at this, and clapped her hands together. “Good question! Actually, horns enhance our ability to sense and manipulate mana.”
William was taken aback. He hadn’t actually expected such an answer. In addition, it was information that would be useful for fighting against demons, but she had freely given it out. William was under the impression it was the truth, too.
“My question… why is your staff not glowing this time?”
“Well…” William didn’t think the answer was important to the safety of humanity or anything, but he still hesitated slightly because of her connection to Chris, “I already know you’re dangerous this time, so there’s no need to warn me.” It wasn’t a complete answer, because he wanted Chris’ warning to be available in case more dangerous people showed up, but it was true.
She stroked her chin. Then she whispered to herself in a voice William thought he wasn’t supposed to be able to hear. “Hmm… interesting, I didn’t know it could do that.”
Since he’d already started on the topic, William decided to continue with it. “If a demon loses their horns, can they no longer do magic?”
The demoness shook her head. “We don’t need them. It’s more like the function of… a magical staff, though we can use those in addition. My next question is… how did you subdue the staff to let you use it?”
These questions were going in a direction that were making William uncomfortable, but he decided this one wouldn’t hurt to answer. “I asked nicely.”
She stared at William as if he were an idiot, and her mouth hung open slightly. “Really?”
William decided that was still technically part of the first question. “Really.” He nodded. William pondered his next question, and once he came up with it, he thought about whether it was a terrible idea to ask it. Meanwhile, the demoness seemed to be thinking intently about William’s answer. Finally, William decided to ask the question, even though it could have some dangerous consequences. “If you… implant demon horns in a human who can’t sense mana, does it let them?”
The demoness broke out of her thoughts, and looked at William. Then, a grin spread across her face, and he could almost swear her eyes sparkled. That actually terrified William a little bit. “You thought about that too? I’m ashamed to say… it doesn’t work. As a bonus… it doesn’t work very well on those who can already sense magic, either.” The demoness spoke with authority like someone who had actually observed such experiments.
William’s suspicions about this woman were somewhat confirmed. That is, she was a mad scientist, or something like it. William had thought about the possibility immediately after learning that demon horns enhanced the ability to sense magic, but he wouldn’t have actually done it… except possibly with willing subjects, but probably not even then.
“As for my next question… how much does the staff enhance magical ability? Double? Triple? It should be at least that…”
That was an awkward question for William, since he wanted to know the answer too. Unfortunately, Chris wouldn’t let anyone else use him even for experiments. His only reason given for this was “don’t wanna”. “Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to that question.”
The demoness glared at him in a scary fashion. “Hey, I thought we were exchanging information here? You can say you don’t want to tell me, but lying and saying you don’t know is no good.”
“I really don’t know.”
Her glare grew more intense. “Ridiculous. There’s no way you wouldn’t have tested it and measured it. I can tell you’re that kind of person. Just say you don’t want to tell me and we can move on to another question.”
William wasn’t sure why he answered as he did, but for some reason he told the truth. “Well, I can’t use magic.”
The demoness’ face turned from angry to shocked. “What? But… that’s…” she started mumbling, “that shouldn’t be possible…” Before he could react, she had moved up to him and grabbed his head in her hands. She frowned as she looked in his eyes from immediately in front of him. “You’re not lying though.” Chris swung down on her arm, but William only felt a vague feeling of something and he bounced off. “You came up with subverting chants on your, own, right? You understand how magic works?” William nodded. The demoness stepped back until they were a more reasonable distance apart, then bit down on a finger as if thinking intensely. “I can’t stay here long this time… Next time, we’ll have longer. Make sure to show up.” At that, she left, leaving William to stand there staring at her back, wondering what was going on, and what she was thinking. He hadn’t even gotten to ask about the details of the coming invasion, but he realized he barely cared about that.