They sat eating quietly after the staff had placed the food before them. The glances from the staff member made her feel slightly uncomfortable as he gave the Hero a jealous look behind his back. Not that she couldn’t quite blame them, they were dressed like a couple ready for a wedding ceremony. Anyone who didn’t know what was actually going on would easily jump to such a conclusion.
She was fighting hard at trying not to blush and failing spectacularly. Every time he looked at her and observed her eating she felt a nervousness come over her, like her very act of eating was something to be embarrassed over. For the Hero, himself, his eyes focused on the meal with hunger almost greater than the looks he sent her way, though he seemed unhurried in enjoying his meal. In fact, he was calm and eating with a refinement she might not have believed a short while ago. Though in the end, it was just out of her own preconceptions about Demon Lords, being told what acts of barbarism they had committed over millennia had seriously colored her viewpoint.
He smiled at her every time he felt her eyes upon him, making her look away and blush even more. She was starting to worry that her cheeks would stain permanently red before too long. The quiet was unnerving as well, but she didn’t want to start a discussion that she felt he would no doubt take in an erotic direction, she wanted to eat without choking on her food. He also remained quiet, though she noticed that even as he was eating it seemed there isn’t a moment that food wasn’t in his mouth.
The meal was just above the standard fare in the dining hall, simplistic and lightly seasoned, though perhaps that was because it was fresher than she would normally be eating it as a miko. He didn’t seem to mind and one of her glances in his direction there was a pleased look on his face, it almost felt out of place for the situation at hand with how satisfied he looked.
“My Lord Hero, Lady Miko. Is the meal to your liking?”
Emiyo jumped as a voice came from behind them, turning to look towards the door she saw the Head Priest walk inside. Relief starting to wash over her now that she wasn’t alone with the hero any longer. She smiled at him and nodded her head appreciatively to him.
Haruko swallowed and then chuckled, giving a courteous nod to the Head Priest.
“Hai. It’s very delicious. Though it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten anything at all, my sense of taste may be a bit starved for sensation. Come and sit so we can discuss things in earnest.”
The Head Priest bowed slightly and moved to take a seat at the table across from the hero, Emiyo now sitting somewhat in between them as she quietly went back to finish her meal. She didn’t know what she could possibly say and merely intended to listen to them discuss things.
“So what have you managed to discover about yourself, Lord Hero?”
Haruko chuckled, setting aside the bowl and taking a glance between the two, his eyes holding a bit of annoyance. His voice was steady and calm, though she could feel the undertones of a darker mood hiding underneath.
“As you have said, all of my powers are locked away. To the point where I haven’t been able to even uncover anything. The Gods really, really, wanted to try and screw me over with this. Or they did their usual rush and slap band-aid job and called it good enough. Honestly neither would surprise me.”
The Head Priest nodded his head slowly giving a glance to Emiyo. She swallowed the food in her mouth and set down the bowl, realizing she wasn’t going to be pulled into this conversation whether she wanted to be or not.
“So you need her to let you discover anything about the locks. And how will you figure them out? I won’t allow you to ask her to unlock everything here.”
Haruko laughed and shook his head.
“Mmm, that would be too easy. No, all I need is one simple permission, to start. My lady, I desire permanent access to the power called 「MENU」.”
She looked at him questioningly, even the Head Priest seemed confused by this request.
“What does it do?” She asked, managing to beat her teacher in raising the question.
“It lets me view my status, my powers, and abilities in an easy to read manner. It won’t give me access to anything else. I can even show you both if you desire.”
She took a deep breath and glanced over to her teacher who gave a small nod. They had to start somewhere with learning how they could handle this Demon Lord hero.
Haruko smiled and sat up a little straighter as he focused on the air in front of his face. Raising a hand, he touched something unseen in midair. Emiyo and the Head Priest let out a noise of surprise. A floating transparent box now hovered in front of Haruko, listed inside was a great deal of text and numbers.
“There we go. Let me expand the resolution a little bit. It’s been about four thousand years since I’ve had this power available as a hero. I might be just a little rusty.”
She tried to start from the top and work her way down the screen. This was the power of heroes? She couldn’t quite comprehend all that she was looking at. It was nothing she could completely understand in her lifetime, that she felt certain on. Instead, she mainly focused on the top of the screen for the moment.
Name: Haruko Kuremeshi
Age: 5087 (Summoned physical age: 25)
Human, Hero, Demigod, Progenitor, Demon Lord, Whatever the fuck he wants to call himself now, I’m done with updating this shit.
Origin: Earth c.2000AD, God Realm, Hades
Heroic Demonic Attribute of Power: Leadership (Corrupted) Domination (Corruption of Heroic power) Creation (Rescinded for Betrayal of Covenant)
She looked down across the rest of the screen, the remaining was dedicated to the list of his powers, there were so many listed, each one merely giving a name that she couldn’t quite understand.
“Let’s see if I can organize these better… In fact, let’s set this up. Make it easier for the entire permission system to let me do what I need to.”
Haruko shifted things around, turning the list of powers into groupings of abilities and things. The head priest seemed to know more about it as he watched and demanded certain things be moved around. Emiyo could only watch and listen as the two started working on a way to make their task of demon Lord slaying a bit easier.
“Why do you think regeneration and form shifting should be a base permanent power?”
“Well either I stay near immortal in the face of assassins or surprise attacks, or I die instantly and your Miko explodes as my power consumes her body and soul inside out.”
“Yeah. Sorry, My lady. My powers are locked inside you, and I can’t use them without you, but if I’m not alive to act as a pressure release valve. You will die really fast because you don’t have the strength to contain it all on your own. So with this, we can make sure I keep you alive so I can use my powers, and you keep me alive so I don’t turn you into a walking bomb.”
Her body trembled at that comment, feeling a bit worried about their chances at surviving this ordeal. Could she even trust him enough to protect her? If he tried to force something was she willing to die or let him die to stop him? She continued to watch in silence as they discussed his powers and placed them into ranks of strength.
“Lord Hero, I still think that spear should be on a higher rank of power.”
“Oblivion is hardly my trump card, and it’s good for getting past pesky defensive barriers. Ranks three through five should deal with everyone but my brothers. Then I’ll need rank two and maybe one.”
“And what about rank zero?”
“That’s only if everything goes to shit. I’ve never had to use them, and I don’t intend to unless there is literally no other way. And if we reach that level of conflict I think you have more things to worry about than a fully powered Demon Lord loose on the world.”
Emiyo shuddered slightly, something worse than a demon lord? Was such a thing even possible? She quickly stopped trying to think about that scenario, it was too horrifying to consider.
“Are you satisfied with these ranks, Head Priest?”
Haruko looked at the man, he sighed for a moment as his eyes glanced over the screen one last time. Emiyo watched them, her understanding of his powers still rather light but he had promised to go over all of them during the journey in more detail.
“Not entirely, Lord Hero. But it will have to do, you are tasked with wiping out all of the Demon Lords. And if it keeps you fighting longer and keeps her alive I have no complaints.”
Haruko smiled and turned to Emiyo with a quiet smirk. “My lady, I request permission to have access to the powers listed at rank seven permanently,” his voice dropping slightly to a whisper as he teased her ear, “and to play with your body all night long.”
She shot him a look of surprise that he merely smiled back in return. It was just a tease, a test to keep her flustered and off guard around him. Unfortunately, it was working pretty well as she blushed deeply.
“You have permission, Lord Hero, to use the powers of Rank Seven.”
He made an exaggerated movement of looking disappointed that she had caught his obvious ploy. A quick laugh and a shake of his head before standing up from the table. He reached down to offer his hand to help her up to her feet.
“We have much to get started in preparations, My Lady. So it would be for the best if we retire for the night, no?”
She took his hand and felt the strength of him lifting her up, again he didn’t touch her more than needed, to her surprise. She gave a bow to him and the Head Priest. Feeling relieved the evening was coming to an end.
“Yes, I should return to my room. Goodnight, Lord Hero, Master.”
She turned to start walking away when she heard Haruko cough behind her.
“Where are you going, my lady?”
She turned around to look at him and the Head Priest. She saw the smile on his face and felt a feeling of dread crawling up her back, No. It couldn’t be.
“Your bed and things are in here.”