Lindyss groaned as her eyes flickered open. She winced as she sat up and placed her right hand against her forehead. She reached with her left to rub at her eyes. She froze. Her eyes widened and she looked around, taking in the surroundings. She was sitting on a bed in a white room with no windows. A chain led from her left leg to the wall, and runes decorated every inch of the room. Vur laid unconscious on a bed adjacent to hers, his body bound tightly with metal. Chad sat on the floor to the right of her with his back leaning against a metal door. His spear was propped up next to his body.
Chad tilted his head to the side. “Finally awake? Sorry about the arm, Tina destroyed it on accident.”
Lindyss glanced at her residual limb and nodded. “It’s easy enough to fix,” Lindyss said. “No worries. How long was I out?”
“About a week.” Chad tapped his spear against the door without sitting up. “Tell Dustin she’s awake,” he said. Footsteps echoed from outside the room. “How’s the basilisk doing?”
Lindyss smiled. “Pretty good, he’s a nice guard. The only person I’ve been bothered by the whole time since I’ve had him was Vur. He might be getting fat though,” Lindyss said and frowned. “The civilians of Konigreich pamper him and feed him too much.”
Chad chuckled as he stood up and stretched. “You’re not going to ask about your situation?”
“I have the general idea. How bad’s the damage?”
The door swung open and Dustin, along with Tina and Tafel’s grandmother stepped into the room. “About 25 percent of the city is completely destroyed, while another 40 percent is damaged in some shape or form. A lot of people have died, but we don’t have an exact number. There’s not enough volunteers to help out,” Tafel’s grandmother said as she stared at Lindyss, “everyone’s afraid the dead aren’t actually dead.”
Lindyss scratched her nose and nodded.
“Not only that,” the grandmother said, “but every member of the royal family on Zollstock’s side has gone missing. The only ones left are my grandchildren and the ones related to Mina by blood.”
Lindyss raised an eyebrow. “That wasn’t me,” she said. Tina’s eyes flickered towards Chad.
“Don’t look at me,” Chad said and shrugged. “I only killed eight of them.”
Tafel’s grandmother’s eye twitched as she glanced at Chad. “You really shouldn’t say things like that out loud,” she said and sighed. “Luckily for you, my hearing seems to get worse the older I get.” She turned back towards Lindyss. “I’ll be straightforward. Why did you attack us?”
Lindyss frowned. “I came here to retrieve Vur. Unfortunately, I ran into the fairy queen and lost a fight against her. She put the berserk curse on me and I accidentally destroyed your capital. Of course, reparations will be paid in full.”
“The fairy queen? Why would she be in Niffle?” Tina asked.
“She’s been locked away in your mana source. You didn’t know?” Lindyss tilted her head.
The demons glanced at each other before shaking their heads. Lindyss shrugged.
“Then it was most likely kept as a secret by the throne,” Lindyss said and paused. “She’s probably the one responsible for the disappearance of the royal family.”
“If she was locked away, then how’d she get out?” Chad asked.
Lindyss blinked and pointed at Vur.
“I think we should dispose of him,” Chad muttered as he picked up his spear and walked towards Vur. Dustin placed a hand on his shoulder.
“You trust me, right?” Dustin asked. Chad snorted. “Then believe me when I say you shouldn’t hurt him.”
“Whatever,” Chad said as he lowered his spear and leaned against a wall. “Why’d the queen curse you?” he asked, returning his attention back to Lindyss.
Lindyss smirked. “We had a little tiff way back when and she never forgave me. That woman can really hold a grudge; it’s been over four centuries.”
“Four centuries?” Tina asked with a raised eyebrow. “What did you do? Kick her dog?”
“Killed it, actually,” Lindyss said, “but close enough. I also, may or may not have betrayed her and sold her off to the demons.”
Lindyss’ face beamed as she smiled.
Stella sat cross-legged on a green slime as she stared at the thirty demons hanging, upside down, from the ceiling. She was in a cave with Rella and Bella standing behind her, their eyes downcast and faces pale. The cave was located in a valley teeming with hundreds of fairies, most of which were sunbathing or playing with slimes.
The demons were naked, their bones leaving an outline on their skin. Their cheeks were sunken in and dark bags were underneath their eyes. Black scabs covered the regions where their nails used to be.
“Isn’t this too much?” Bella whispered to Rella.
“No.” Stella’s voice was soft, but the two fairies behind her trembled and flinched. “Four hundred years. Four hundred years without seeing the sun, living in total darkness. Four hundred years without food or water. I couldn’t even die because of the mana they poured into me through that chain.” Stella gnashed her teeth together and narrowed her eyes at the chains suspending the demons.
Stella smiled. “Let’s play a game. I found one of these worms and I really want to see what they can do. The thirty of you are going to vote on who gets the worm. Of course the winner will be kept alive as long as possible as I experiment with them.” Rella and Bella shivered.
Thirty minutes later, one demon was strapped on a table underneath all the other demons. The worm floated above it, trapped in a bubble. “I can tell you everything we know about the worm,” the demon said. “Just please, don’t put it inside me.”
Stella grinned. “Speak then,” she said as the worm thrashed against the wall of the bubble towards the demon.
The demon gulped. “They’re parasites, but they can reproduce and survive without a host. When they infect a host body, the host body becomes extremely resistant to magic. Their ultimate goal is to consume as much mana as possible before reproducing. All the worms are the same level as the parent worm. The smallest sized piece we’ve seen grow into a new worm was one tenth the size of the parent. Thankfully, they’re not very strong without a host. We started killing them before they reached level 100. There was one worm that was able to use the host body’s spells at level 100 and the next host it infected retained the ability.”
Stella nodded and hummed as she drummed her fingers against her knee. “How resistant is extremely resistant?” she asked.
“We don’t know the exact numbers, bu-“
“Then I guess we’ll just have to find out,” Stella said with a grin.
The bubble holding the worm burst.