Rainer could only give a confused look at Luna and everyone else as if there was a fire lit beneath their eyes. When he first saw Kara, a member of a truly different race, he had expected a degree of racism. Yet there was none. Not from the Winter’s Guardians, not at the outpost surrounding the dungeon, nothing, absolutely nothing. Yet now, the simple fact of her being a Demon elicited such a response that an ally who saved their lives became no different than their greatest enemy.
“Luna, can you make clothes for two people?” Rainer asked, seeking to solve one problem at a time.
“I can but Rainer…”
“Go make them for Kara.”
“Rainer she…” Luna tried to protest.
“I wasn’t asking,” Rainer responded with a cold look. She had just saved all their lives and Luna couldn’t do such a simple thing? He found it unreasonable no matter the hatred behind the Demon Race. Rainer gave a glance over to Kara who only looked at the ground with a sullen face. Luna with a now shocking lack of hesitation, began forming clothes for her.
“Rainer I understood you were ignorant about some things but this? Do you truly not understand what she is?” Leaf spoke up first. The rest of the Winter’s Guardians tightly held onto their weapons though arrows had not yet been drawn.
“A Demon? So what?”
“So what...so what?” Leaf, who was practically shaking, muttered.
“You truly do not understand...their kind, they are no better than the monsters we hunt every day. No...they are far worse, they revel in fears of their killed and massacre of any…”
“Just as there are humans who kill, pillage and rape, do we not judge individuals?” Rainer interrupted and his words only prompted laughter for Leaf.
“Then ask your little Demon, Rainer, what their rite of passage is to be considered adults. How she can control her demonic form so well, what she had to do for that cursed power.”
Rainer could only sigh. Whatever she did in the past she clearly wasn’t such an individual anymore. How can a child be blamed for pressures placed upon by a greater authority? On Earth, most adults couldn’t even be logically blamed in such a case.
Numerous experiments showed that good honest people could be pushed by a simple authority figure whose only source of power was a lab coat into shocking a man to death. Where a pseudo prison set up by the leadership of a single man sleep tortured its fake prisoners and saw nothing wrong with their actions until they saw the light of day.
Rainer didn’t need to ask, however, as Kara began to speak.
“In order to gain control of our Demonic Auras there is a shortcut we take. We call it our “Rite of Passage”. It is a..pilgrimage...towards any settlement when enough demons of a tribe have turned 12. We hunt people, we feast, and we use their blood in a ritual to fully awaken our abilities…”
“Most demons practice something similar to help awaken their powers…I am no different...” She spoke solemnly.
Rainer had no arguments nor words towards Leaf and the others. To Luna he’d take his time to convince if needed, but how can he convince people who had been so personally affected? He couldn’t convince himself if he or his family had been on a receiving end of a “Rite of Passage” that those demon children who committed it were actually innocent. He’d show no mercy.
He couldn’t bring himself to ask the same of those in front of him nor even if he did would it have any effect. Rainer just stared at Leaf not sure what to do next. Soon after finishing creating clothes for Kara, Luna flew over and whispered in Rainer’s ear.
“Rainer...we have a problem.”
Rainer only gave a glance acknowledging her presence not wanting to alert anyone else.
“Demons can only enter Demonic Dungeons. They can’t enter World-Tree or Natural Dungeons like this one. Yet Kara could…and she has two primary classes even though she hasn't advanced her first. Two! Half-Demons shouldn’t be able to exist either.”
Seeing Kara done with her explanation Leaf spoke out again.
“Now do you see Rainer, it isn’t a matter of difference, it is their entire existence that is designed to kill us. I mentioned earlier my sister was in a minor mage guild...but in truth her talent was high. Yet she accepted such a position to raise our whole family after our parents were culled by these inhuman creatures. Why do you think nobles of this land accept the authority of Mage Guilds?! Why I had to leave my home for any country smart enough to do so?”
“And yet this thing took advantage of my hospitality, to hide amongst us as such a monster.”
“Leave this thing here, let's go Rainer,” Leaf said while giving Kara a glance, not seeming too intent to kill her.
Leaf nodded his head towards the portal that had opened up.
“Wait” Rainer called out.
He took a long and careful look at the Winter’s Guardians and spun around facing Kara right after.
“I understand now, such an existence can't be allowed.” He spoke out before he charged an [Arcane Bolt] at Kara. He steadied his breath as he truly grasped what must be done.
Kara looked up at Rainer, one of her eyes still red, and merely closed them, too weak from overextending her Aura.
Don’t accept your fate so easily…
All 6 of his still armed [Arcane Bolts] launched with a fury. They knew too much. About Luna. And now about Kara. Screams rang out as all the [Archers] and [Hunters] of Winter’s Guardians were killed. Rainer fired his prepared bolt right after towards a remaining [Warrior]. Rainer instantly began casting two more [Arcane Bolts] prepared to finish off Leaf and Lewis.
Both Lewis and Leaf turned and ran straight for the portal, not even having time to question Rainer’s actions. Just as they were about to pass through, Rainer fired his bolts. Unexpectedly Leaf spun around and gripped Lewis as a human shield. The two bolts smashing into only Lewis and throwing Leaf through the portal.
[Total Experience Gained: 1.1%]
Rainer ran forward but soon collapsed to his knees, still not fully healed.
“Fuck!” He yelled trying to cast another bolt through the portal yet his mana had been completely depleted.
Kara now with her eyes open along with Luna stared at Rainer not sure what to think.
“Luna! What's on the other side?!”
“The other side!”
“It..gives an option, to leave, to head to a rest area, or to move on to the next stage.” She answered quickly.
“Kara go through, finish him off, he can’t be allowed to escape!”
But Kara struggled to stand and had a hesitant look on her face.
As the seconds passed Rainer realized it was too late.
Rainer hit his fist into the ground. As he kneeled there the weight of his actions began to sink in. He desperately wished to look away from the ruined corpses, yet he did not. He slightly shook as he looked at their faces, frozen upon their death. Shock, confusion, rage, an assortment of thoughts and feelings reduced to the nothingness of death. A lifetime of memories...
As he looked at them he repeated to himself that this was the choice that needed to be made, that had to be made. That both the existences of the two behind him were cursed by the attention of this world and he could not allow knowledge of to spread.
Yet what had he accomplished? Leaf had gotten away and he could barely get up, lacking the mana for even a single spell.
Rainer leaned back onto the ground. Wondering how his adventure here came to this...
Luna flew over and began healing him once more. The soothing flame bringing Rainer some comfort.Kara walked over and sat quietly by his right.
“You know why this had to be done, what your existence means to the demons and humans of this world, why did you let him get away?”
“I’m sorry Rainer I didn’t react fast enough. I owed him a great debt for helping me when I ran away from my tribe and had gotten injured. He found me and helped me expecting nothing in return..”
“Now there may be those who come seeking your Fairy...I’m truly sorry.” She said looking downcast.
Rainer just lay there and decided now was as best a time as any to look at his messages. It would keep his mind away. Leaf had likely already left the dungeon entrance and ran towards the town. Whatever would happen would happen now.
[Revenge of the Fallen has been completed. 10% Static Experience Gained for the first time having cleared it]
[First to complete the Revenge of the Fallen of the Fallen City of Nalmar. 15% Static Experience Gained]
[First to complete Stage 1 of the Fallen City of Nalmar. 25% Static Experience Gained, Title Gained: Dungeon Pioneer]
[Calculating Boss rewards.]
[Bonus Added for being the first to defeat the boss.]
[Items Available: Signet Ring of the Nalmar Knighthood, Spear of the Sunlight City, Banner of the First Calvary]
[Contribution Reward: Return Stone x 3, Accept Y/N]
Rainer inspected the items, he looked at the spear first given that Leaf would likely choose it.
[Spear of the Sunlight City: A spear once used by the Wyvern Riders of Nalmar. Made of Blessed Steel. +3 Dexterity, +3 Strength, +3 Constitution.]
[Signet Ring of the Nalmar Knighthood: Once known throughout the land as an unmatched order not just for their training but by even the lowest of members having access to enchanted items. All wore this Enchanted Signet Ring. +2 Constitution, +2 Endurance, +2 Vitality]
[Banner of the First Cavalry: Brought courage to the hearts of the men who saw it. To see it is to know no exhaustion. -30% Endurance Usage to all allies within 1000 Yards]
Rainer became astounded by that last item. Had he someone to sell it to he’d most certainly choose it. In the end, the ring had the greatest purpose to him. Rainer sat up, mostly healed by Luna, and at the same time he chose his reward he accepted the 3 [Return Stones].
Holding the three small black orbs in his hand he used [Appraisal] on one.
[Return Stone: Returns one to the entrance outside of the Dungeon. 5-second cast-time.]
It was perfect for his plan. Rushing outside now could mean running straight into anyone Leaf would have told about his fairy and about Kara being a demon. More importantly a demon in a dungeon.
Sure they could run from the town but to where? This was in the middle of nowhere and it wasn’t as if Rainer could ride a horse with any ability.
Perhaps they would assume we went further and died?
“Luna” Rainer called out.
“Yes, Rainer.” She said a bit sheepishly.
“Can you use the spell that makes one considered a group in a dungeon?”
“Luna can, would you like Luna to cast it on you and Kara?”
“Yeah and Kara give me your plate, I’ll destroy it with mine.” He said as he looked at Kara to his right before he finally saw her new appearance. White boots that extended just past her knees and black tights. A white skirt reached just above her knees and a white blouse traced with black had a small split in the back for her tail.
“I see Luna took some liberties huh…” He said.
“Ah? Does it look strange? Luna said if I was to spin so much that it’d be a crime not to wear a skirt.”
“Of course, if Rainer keeps the She-Wolf she must look like a proper Lady Knight.” Luna replied matter-of-factly. Though Rainer couldn’t see what about this denoted a proper...Lady-Knight. Not that he minded.
"You look striking." Rainer answered simply.
“You turned around real quick…” He spoke to Luna next.
“If Rainer knows about Demons and still doesn’t mind, Luna will accept it. So Luna is sorry to She-Wolf for calling her vile.”
Within a moment Luna had finished healing Rainer fully this time and flew over to his hand and starting writing something with magic on the back of it. An odd symbol similar in form to a shield soon lit up a violet color prompting a message for Rainer.
[Leave [Winter’s Guardians] and join [Rainer’s Party]? Y/N]
[Warning: Joining a new Party while in a non-rest Area will eject you from the dungeon.]
Luna went over to Kara and drew the same symbol before flying back in front of Rainer. Seeing the apologetic Fairy, Rainer extends a hand as usual and they all walk towards the portal.
“Kara, head to the rest area, I have a plan. Pick up all the supplies we can first, leave the water.”
She merely nodded and, after taking all they could carry, they entered.
Leaf walked back to town passing by the wooden wall with little issue and heading towards the Hunters Guild. No sign that anything was wrong appeared on his face. Rather, holding a golden spear with a silver-like tipped end, he seemed quite content. He noticed a couple people seemingly waiting for him to report back, but he wasn’t too worried.
Walking into the Hunter’s Guild, he ignored Riv’s questioning and immediately asked for some pen and paper to add letters to his will.
So long as enough coins were available the Hunters Guild would mail out any letters as part of the will. And so Leaf began feverishly writing to all the nobles he knew. He included a quite detailed drawing of Rainer and Kara along with the fairy before telling all he knew of them in the letter.
The situation devolved poorly. He didn’t except Rainer to have something like that in him. But now that he got away was he simply going to spread their secrets? No! Why would he desire to benefit a noble or some Lord Magus. Sure he could retire if they successfully captured Rainer’s fairy but then what? Die as some old man never able to advance beyond his station? It was true he could never forgive Kara for what she was, but if Rainer was determined to stick with her he'd just use them both. Such a powerful force in a dungeon, combined with Rainer’s exceptional magic, it meant everything to Leaf.
To blackmail them instead meant a golden future no less bright than his spear.
And so he prepared his backup plan, should they try to betray on his planned deal for them.
Though soon a small flash of light from his plate gave him some worry. He was now the sole remaining member now of the Winter’s Guardians. He headed over to hire a few people with the money he had from the boar to look out for when Rainer exited the dungeon.
It was accurate to call it a rest area. On a long table were various food and drinks. To the left and right of the feasting hall were 15 total doors perhaps leading to bedrooms. He sat on a bench to the right.
Holding both plates in his hand Rainer began channeling Arcane energy into them and it took but a second before cracks appeared and the item shattered.
He looked at the status screen for a moment before talking to Kara.
[Rainer’s Party: Leader: Rainer Nvos, Familiars: Fae Princess Luna Emralira-Igna]
[Member 1: Kara Varg, Familiars: None]
“We should continue forward now that I have [Return Stones] and you and Luna no longer need to hide any of your abilities. Luna’s buffs could have made the gauntlet from earlier too easy.”
Yet sitting next to him Kara just looked downwards.
“You should know...I...did not leave my tribe for any noble reasons or because I hated demon-kind. I knew it was wrong and I had regrets but it never truly bothered me enough to leave my mother and tribe…”
“So why?” Rainer asked without any real reaction visible on his face.
“When I was found out to be a half-demon rather than my fears of being ostracized it was the opposite. It was a wonderful time until I was to be given to one of the Demon Princes, my tribe fought against it, but in the end, my mother assisted me in fleeing. A Demon Prince cannot so easily move into a human territory with so many Mage Guilds but I don’t doubt there are pursuers out there, if you wish I’ll…”
Rainer looked over to his left at her.
He didn’t care about the problems she ran from, the only thing that mattered to him was that she immediately revealed herself when he was in danger and jumped in front of him without hesitation. Nothing she had done in the past affected him, he was not from this world, and while he certainly didn’t approve, it didn’t matter beyond that. So what? Was he now any different killing all those people just on the chance they’d reveal information about his fairy? It was death for an advantage and at least Kara actually got an advantage from it…
What was one more companion with a troublesome past? Speaking of Luna, if she didn’t tell him about herself by the time he left this dungeon he’d have to get it out of her. He’s had enough surprises for now.
Looking at her downcast eyes Rainer reached his hand over. He gently turned her towards him, gazing right into her golden and crimson eyes. He pulled her towards him and, unresisting, she followed. As his lips pressed to her's she felt a feeling she could not control. The anxiety of revealing the truth had filled her yet he took it away. Her eyes wide open she paused before they closed and she shared in the moment. Even as her face burned red she responded to his answer. Her reply was a bit clumsy but he took it in nonetheless.
Pulling away and seeing the tint of her face Rainer could only think that he got his message across. He went back to the task at hand, leaving a slightly embarrassed Kara to organize herself.
“Now that we can leave if it gets too dangerous, we should move forward and become as strong as possible before facing whatever awaits us out there.”
As he was talking Rainer then awkwardly recalled Luna was on his head this whole time.
“Luna has Gift of the Wind, of Lightning, of Stoneskin, and of Translucence.” Luna spoke without any hint of being in a different mood.
“You never thought to give me the Gift of Translucence when we were in the cave…?”
“Rainer expects too much, it is very long cast with very short duration. It also isn’t perfect.”
“Alright we’ll discuss the other two later but, for now, do you have any spells that could put someone to sleep?”
“I know one...but it is very basic and won’t work well against an enemy.”
“Perfect, you’ll use it on me and wake me up in 2 hours,” Then he’d switch what he was [Sleep Learning] on and have Luna put him to sleep again.
Rainer said as he planned out his time. They had 8 hours before the rest area would remove them. He’d make himself as strong as possible in that time.
“Hmm but if we are moving forward shouldn’t Rainer train some…” Luna questioned but Rainer immediately shared his [Sleep Learning] skill information with her.
“Why is Luna even surprised, Luna should expect such things. Luna thought it was a silly skill when Luna saw it. It is in fact, the silliest.”
Kara stood up afterward still slightly embarrassed and spoke her intentions.
“Then I’ll follow you through to wherever you go. I’ll go train for a while.” She spoke before heading to one of the 15 doors.
Luna giggled a little watching Kara leave.
“What's so funny?”
“Of course it's funny. Demons were the greatest enemy to First Hero. Yet Luna was silly to compare Rainer to First Hero. Instead of killing demons, Rainer woos the demon with the greatest potential to his side. Luna will have fun writing this story. Will Rainer woo Elven Princess next, maybe Rainer will go even further and woo some Demon Princesses. Luna can’t wait.”
Rainer looked at her a bit confused. He understood now her jealousy was likely from having to hide all the time and not being able to spend time with him rather than romantic.
“But Luna is always first in story. It’ll be called Rainer and his Fairy, or Luna’s Quest with Rainer...or...”
Or maybe not...
He headed towards the room closest to him and was happily surprised at how comfortable the bed looked. Falling back he planned out his first 2 hour [Sleep Learning] session. Feeling Luna’s spell cast on him, he drifted off.
For once, he was glad he couldn’t dream, or worse…
As the clock ticked down and their time in the room ended, they headed towards the portal at the very end of the room. They carried with them as much food as they could, though, they feasted on what was given. Any attempts to pack it, however, caused the food to instantly rot.
Rainer was truly satisfied with his several sessions of [Sleep Learning].
[Arcane bolt Armament has reached Lvl 10.]
[Reached the maximum proficiency of a Tier 1 spell: Rewarding 1 skill point. ]
[Candle Flame has reached lvl 10.]
[Reached the maximum proficiency of a Tier 1 spell: Rewarding 1 skill point. ]
The reward was far smaller since it wasn’t a first-time bonus like it was with [Arcane Bolt]. Given how little [Candle Flame] took to reach level 10, he was pleasantly surprised. Especially since as a fire spell it didn't receive his Arcane bonuses but only his general ones.
[Cone of Arcane-Flame has reached lvl 10.]
[Reached the maximum proficiency of a Tier 2 spell for the first time: Rewarding 10 skill points.]
[Arcane Energy Manipulation] had leveled up to 5, while [Fire Manipulation] reached level 3 as he used them extensively to level up his spells in [Sleep Learning]. [Cone of Arcane-Flame] had taken his remaining 5 hours after [Candle Flame].
He grew excited imagining the various skills he could get when he reached level 10, as Luna mentioned he could then purchase class related skills as well as get a class related attribute if there was one.
“You ready to go?” Rainer looked towards Kara who seemed well rested herself.
She simply nodded and they, with Luna on Rainer’s head, stepped through the portal.
Rainer felt a familiar feeling. Not the same as when the dungeon had teleported him before, or when he entered, but a shifting. The same as when he first came to this world…
The messages in front of him explained his feelings.
[You have been deemed worthy by the Ancient Spirits of Nalmar. Stage 2 and 3 have been decided as unnecessary. Transferred Directly to the True Fallen City of Nalmar.]
[Main Quest Granted: Retake the Fallen City of Nalmar]
[Description: Defeat the High Lich occupying the Fallen City of Nalmar and its surrounding forts.]
[Maximum Party Size: 25]
[Maximum level: None]
[Time Limit: 6 Months, before other parties invited]
[Quest Granted: Capture First Fort.]
[Description: Capture the closest fort of Sunlight’s Keeper.]
[Recommended level: 5-15]
[Time Limit: None]
[Reward: Ring of Party Transference: Nalmar]
Both Kara and Rainer stared at the messages reading them carefully. Luna flew overhead giggling with glee.
Finished reading Rainer looked out over the forested landscape to see a tall white stone tower in the distance, surrounded by a wall. The sky was completely overcast by dark clouds. A single wide stone road extended forward beneath their feet.
He had wanted to avoid any more surprises...though he welcomed this one.