A light breeze sweeps through the small town of Aria. A rustic river town just on the outskirts of the Forsaken burial grounds. It was a bustling day due to the influx of travelers passing through. The sounds of trade, chatter, and laughter echoed through the streets.
"Haha, I'm the strongest. I'm the Great Daemon king!"
A group of children runs through the busy streets, dodging customers, vendors, and travelers. Cheerful cries and smiles on their faces. Eventually, they stop at one end of the market street and the one who cried out before leaps on top of a stack of crates. He raised up a sword made of wood in the air with his head turned up to let out a loud laugh.
"Haha! The great clans can do nothing! I will always be victorious!"
The other children pout and shout out their complaints.
"Why do you always get to be the Daemon King?!"
"Yeah, and the great clans defeat the Daemon King anyway!"
The boy above the group give a pout and turns to them. He had short dark brown hair and golden colored eyes. He points out the rest of his friends with a proud look on his face.
"Ha, that's not what Grandpa said. He said the great clans could only seal the Daemon King!"
One of the kids, a young girl crosses her arms. Her dark-colored hair was short, brushing against her shoulders and her eyes were a pale brown. She then turns up her head and says in a haughty tone.
"Nu-uh! He died! My mama says so!"
Another kid, a boy this time also rallies in. He was notable younger-looking than the others, with short brown hair and pale blue eyes.
"Yeah yeah, I heard they even killed his four generals too!!"
The boy on the create frowns even deeper, a bit of anger was seeping into his face. Then he cries out.
"What?? That's not true! You're lying-!"
"I heard that the Daemon King still lives and he hiding away somewhere!"
Another girl interjected, her short reddish hair was waving wildly in the air and her green eyes were darting around like she was telling a deep secret no one could know. Eventually, an argument broke out between the kids, each with their own personal rendition of the story.
"...Hey kids, what's wrong?"
All the kids turn and were instantly overjoyed at seeing a figure walking up to them.
They all run over the figure, it was a man, seemingly in his mid to late 30s with long hair which was so dark that it almost seemed to absorb even the light of the morning sun. His eyes, however, were unlike anything seen before. Where there would normally be white was a pale grey almost dipping into black. This only made the unnaturally bright blue orbs of his eyes just seem even brighter. His skin was slightly tan and there appeared to be horns on his head however they were broken. This man was a Daemon but the children or anyone, in fact, seemed to have no issues whatsoever. Given how much the world has changed since the war against the Great Daemon King, Daemons weren't as uncommon in town and small cities. Especially for Aria being so close to the Forsaken Burial Grounds. He was dressed in a rather dirty looking brown shirt and pants, the material was worn with use and was slightly discolored. He was carrying a large bag over his back and didn't seem all too surprised when the kids all ran up to him.
"Big brother, big brother! You must know it!"
The man looks to the children with their expecting face with raised eyebrows. He didn't quite get what they were insinuating.
"Oh come on! You know! The 'Tale of the Great Daemon King'!"
For a split second, a wide range of emotions seemed to go over the young man however it was too quick for the children to even recognize. He then puts on a thoughtful face as if trying to recall the tale.
"Hmm, I don't know. There's been a lot of Daemon Rulers in the past.."
The boy who had been standing on the crate beforehand let out a huff.
"Honestly Big brother? Those other guys weren't like the Great Daemon King! He was the strongest one yet!"
The young man gives him a look of disbelief, though it was in jest.
" I'm not too sure about that. I mean his name isn't even in the tale?"
"Ah no way, he's the strongest one ever!! He is!"
The young man let out a small laugh as he nods his head before crouching down to the children's level.
"Ahhh I think I remember that tale. About the Daemon King from 15 years ago right?"
All the children perk up almost immediantly and cry out.
"Okay, okay I get it! I do remember the tale."
The young man rubs his chin and closes his eyes briefly as he remembers the tale. He then looks back at the children who are all eagerly awaiting.
"So what do you want to know?"
All at once, the kids erupted with questions.
"How did the tale go?"
"Yeah yeah, did the Daemon King really die!?"
"No, he was sealed! I already told you!"
"Big brother, tell us what happened!"
The young man looks again through the kids, their faces just as eager as they were when he first arrived. He then smiles and gives them a nod.
"Okay, okay I will tell you...tomorrow!"
The kid's responses were immediate and predictable.
"But big brother!"
The young man then shakes his head and wages his finger at them.
"No buts, you guys have been out almost all day and it's getting late anyway. Tomorrow, I promise I will tell you everything you want to know!"
"Its a promise so you can't break it!"
One of the boys yells out and points to the older man. The young man simply nods and waves the kids goodbye as they all race off to their houses. The young man sighs after the last kid disappears. He then stands and pulls the sack over his back once again and walks off. He soon arrives at an inn that had numerous people coming through and filled with customers inside.
The young man gives a bright smile to an older woman who gives him an annoyed look in return. It was obvious she was the owner given how everyone acted around her. Her hair was a dark brown and curled wildly at the ends. Her eyes were a pale green and slightly narrowed. She then places her hands on her waist and a small frown pulls to her face.
"Ahhh, finally you're back! What took you so long?!"
"Hmm, sorry the little ones stop me on my way here."
"Hmph, a likely story! Come, come give that here."
She takes the sack from him and opens it. Inside is an assortment of fruits, not too commonly found Aria. The smile brought to the older woman's face was soft and thankful.
"Hmm, you did well once again. Now, go on and rest. I'm sure knowing you, you barely got any sleep since you left."
The young man gives her a pout.
"Aww, you think I can't take care of myself?"
The dry look she gives him is all the answer he needed. He surrenders to her and stumbles upstairs to his room. The room wasn't as big as the other inn rooms but he appreciated it nonetheless. There wasn't much in the room; a bed in one corner of the room, a dresser, and oddly enough a shamisen was seating on the window nook which overlooked the pier. Now back in his room, the sounds of chatter and laughter from downstair were muted which made the room feel colder. The young man takes a seat on the window nook, picking up the shamisen and placing it on the floor gently. He then pulls a crimson red pipe which was very notable well taken care of and uniquely designed. He places some tobacco inside and stamps it down before lighting. Take a deep drag, he lets out a huff of smoke. His head dips down and his eyes become clouded in thought.
"The tale of the Great Daemon King huh?"
He lets out a humorless laugh and shakes his head, looking out the window. It was nightfall now, the moon was high in the sky and reflected off the clear waters below. The tale of the Great Daemon King is as well known as most legends, however, everyone seems to have their own interpretation of how it ended.
"Did he die or does he still live...?"
The young man's question just hangs in the air unanswered. But he knows how the story ended, how the true tale of the Great Daemon King went.
All the pain, suffering, and heartbreak. The joy, excitement, and love. He remembers all of it as if it were only just yesterday...
The true tale of the Great Daemon King wasn't about a hero's journey to defeat a great evil or even a tale of a misguided youth fall into darkness.
The true tale of the Great Daemon King was if nothing else, a tragedy.