20 The Lonely Vagabond

 Celine was still quite young; she was only 17 years of age. Compared to Link's image of her from the game, she looked a lot more innocent, less guarded and wary. Her powers, though far less powerful than before, were stronger than the norm.

Link tried to look at her information on the game interface, but all he got was a line of question marks. In the game, such a phenomenon only happened when players were more than 3 skill levels weaker than their targets.

Link now had the strength of a Level-2 Magician. Since Celine had used the Level-5 Obsidian Barrier Spell, Link inferred that she was at least Level-5.

Such power currently ranked her among the strongest 1000 throughout the Firuman Continent. It was enough for her to be a guest of honor at any kingdom.

Of course, this was all provided that she didn't expose herself as a demon, the public enemy of the Legion of Light.

The multitude of Level-2 Dark Elf Assassins could do nothing with her there. Grabbing Link by the arm, she sprouted black wings and took off with a mighty flap of her new appendages.

The Dark Elf Assassins, seeing their target suddenly leave the protection of the shield, started raining arrows on them, but a sword of blue crystal suddenly appeared in Celine's hand. She swung it around with incredible speed.

It was so fast that it appeared just like a light-blue haze.

The sound of the arrows being struck down by Celine's sword rang out clear and sharp as the fall of rain. Not a single arrow breached her defenses.

Then, Celine shot up to more than a 300 feet above the ground, beyond the reach of the arrows, leaving the Dark Elves gaping in her wake.

Just ten seconds later, Celine landed atop Gladstone City's clock tower. Link, still in a daze, just stared at her blankly.

"What? Cat got your tongue?"

The young maiden was captivating. Her red lips tweaked with the bare hint of a smile as she veiled her eyes and spoke with a voice as smooth as honey. She held an indescribable air about her.

Sweet, sweet evil. The description popped into Link's mind as memories from the game flooded back to him.

In the game Legends, there were four famous beauties-the Angel of Light, Herrera, the Red Dragon Queen Gretel, the Elf Princess Milda, and lastly, the Demon Princess, Celine Flandre.

The four beauties, who had been chosen by the game players for their spectacular looks and style, were each extremely powerful.

The demon mistress' personality, in particular, was like sweet poison. She was a goblet of enticing venom, drawing others deeper and deeper with her charms.

Celine's smile widened as she read Link's expression. She reached out and traced his face with her white, soft fingers. In a coy and enticing voice, she said, "What? Aren't you scared? I'm a demon, you know?"

With that, she bared her little fangs.

Link finally came back to his senses. He shook his head slightly to clear his mind. "You saved me. Why should I be scared of you?"

In the game, the mission leading up to unlocking the Ultimate Boss, Nozama, had been a long one. Link and the NPC, Celine, had spent a long time together. He knew her inside and out. Though she had a penchant for pranks and had an eccentric personality, she definitely wasn't one to kill without good reason. In that aspect, she drew a stark line between herself and the other demons.

Truth be told, she drifted around, evading her father's lackeys because she didn't want to be a true demon.

"Who said that I was saving you? You lied to me earlier. I'm very angry about that, I brought you out here to punish you!" Celine's dainty brows grew tight. She placed a slender white finger in front of her face. Her dark eyes, though fixed on Link, danced around his face, as if she really was considering what to do with him.

Link wasn't scared in the slightest, neither did he become complacent. Instead, he just waited patiently.

If he wasn't wrong, the quirky young maiden was probably coming up with a prank.

His behavior made Celine feel as if she was reprimanding a porcupine-there was nowhere for her to get her hands on. It was a strange, new experience for her. In the past, everyone ran away in fright whenever she had shown her demon appearance, regardless of how close they might have been. Why wasn't this human scared at all?

She circled Link. "Hey. I'm a demon. Can't you at least give me a normal reaction to that?"

"No, you're not really a demon," Link shook his head softly, "The demon part is just on the outside. In my eyes, you're still Celine, the kind girl who looked after me for a month after I broke my arm."

Speechless, Celine was really cornered this time. The playful, evil air around her vanished, and her voice grew cold and distant. "Human, you're not as naive as to think that I'd be swayed with just empty words of flattery, are you? I've seen many just like you-all so full of themselves."

The original Link, at the sight of Celine's cold and distant behavior, would have run off in fright.

But this Link knew that Celine behaved that way because his words had struck close to her heart. She had taken off that sweet, mischievous facade, and her indifference was just a way of protecting herself.

The half-blood demon was actually very lonely and sensitive. Thinking about it, it made sense. She had seen her mother killed by demons, and the mastermind behind it had been her own father. It was already a miracle that she hadn't gone insane.

But Link didn't back down. Earnestly, he said, "A real demon wouldn't have saved me, nor would one have said so much to me. They would just have torn me apart and devoured my soul. Celine, what I see in your eyes is pain and loneliness. Can you tell me what you've been through?"

Celine's petite figure shuddered. It was the first time anyone had told her something like that. Before this, they had either been after her for her looks, or shied away from her demon identity. No one had ever cared about what she actually felt.

But this human seemed to be able to read her soul. Each word had rung true.

Celine was a mess inside. There wasn't a trace of the sensuality she had worn earlier. Taking a few steps back, she turned her face away and stared into the darkness under the clock tower in silence.

Link, too stayed silent, again waiting patiently.

At the top of the tower, gusts of the night wind caressed her thick black hair. Celine stood still as if she was a beautiful statue of a Goddess.

Her childhood memories flashed before her.

"Mother, why do I have these things on my head?" Celine had asked adorably while stroking the little nubs on her head. She was only five-years-old.

Her mother, that gentle, beautiful woman, hadn't hidden her disgust. "That's from your father," she replied briskly.

"Mother, I don't want to train anymore. I'm too tired." Celine had collapsed onto the ground in exhaustion-she was seven-years-old. Her mother cared for her every need tenderly, but she had done so with a stern hand.

"You must get stronger quickly! Your father won't let you go!" Her mother had been quite harsh about it, despite the sorrow hidden in her eyes,

"Ah! Mother, what happened to you? Who are you people?!" Her mother was sprawled in a puddle of her own blood, almost torn to pieces. Still somehow clinging to life, she rasped, "Celine, my daughter, don't ...fall..." Celine was fourteen-years-old.

Her mother hadn't finished when the hideous creatures, shrouded in black miasma, had cut off her mother's head.

"Princess, the Lord has asked us to bring you home!" the heinous beings had said.

"Die!!!!" Celine had learned martial arts for many years by then- she had already been very powerful. The demons were completely defenseless against her as she slayed them with ease.

Having found out about her background, she disguised herself and wandered around to evade her father's clutches. Three months ago, she had come to The Lower Magic Academy of Flemmings.

She had never really considered becoming a Magician and had only developed a passing interest in magic.

Celine remembered the times she had spent with Link.

"Mr. Morani, I think that staring at a lady the way you are is poor manners."

That had been two months ago. The first time the young man had laid his eyes on her, he had behaved rather oddly, as if he had lost his soul. Of course, Celine hadn't thought much of it. She had seen so many others like that during her travels.

That fact that such an inconspicuous boy had brought her away from the academy at risk to his own life, had been completely beyond her expectations. Yet he had done it.

Celine had to admit that the human now held a special place in her heart.

She had bottled her secret for so long. When Link brought it up, she stayed silent for a while before opening her mouth in spite of herself. "My father is the Lord of the Deeps. He wants me to go back to the Deeps to become his vassal. For that, he sent his subordinates into the Firuman Continent to capture me. All I can live is a life of hiding, of drifting from place to place. My mother, a beautiful woman, was torn to pieces before my eyes. She had tried to protect me. For my mother's sake, I cannot become a puppet of the dark."

Towards the end, her spirits sunk. She lowered her head as her beautiful brows drooped. After her long speech, she sighed heavily, her face full of loneliness.

She was a demon, the symbol of darkness and terror, the public enemy of the world of the light. Demons were attacked by all other creatures around them. Yet, she had grown up in the world of the light-deep in her heart, it was the place that she had acknowledged as home.

That was why she was damned to live a life of pain and loneliness!

"This is indeed a lonely journey." Link sighed.