1 The Hero

The small party of four moved cautiously through the caves tunnel. The leader of the party was covered in armor from head to toe and gave no glimpse as to who it was within. He moved with careful steps, sword raised and ready to swing. Behind the knight was a man in light armor with a scimitar in either hand, his brown hair was cut short and his build was broad, like someone who spent hours every day lifting weights. The last two were walking almost shoulder to shoulder; two women who wore dark grey cloaks over beige tunics. They were holding hands and the one on the right, with shoulder length red hair, was holding a ball of light that illuminated their path. The woman on the left, with long dark brown hair, held a staff.

They ran across small groups of low level demons as they pushed forward. These demons were easily killed by the leader. It was about two levels down, and almost a full day of traveling underground, when they found themselves at the entrance to a large room. The leader stopped them just before entering.

Gavin took a deep breath as he tried to center himself. It had been relatively easy so far but he knew that beyond the doorway was what he was down here for. The aura of evil was strong enough that they could all feel it. His first thought was to run. This isn't his world, it isn't his problem. He's almost seventeen, in his world he should be in high school and hanging out with friends. If he had friends. What he shouldn't be doing is killing people.

It was about six months ago that he had been summoned to this world, a world full of magic and fantasy beings. He met an elf prince on his first day. Six months of training, six months of being told that he could only return home if he killed the Demon Lord. The last couple months of training had been spent killing other creatures. Most of them had been monsters straight out of a nightmare, but a few of them had been human or human-like beings. He had thrown up after killing the first one, bandits that had come to kill his party and rob them. He had rationalized that he had no choice, but what sixteen year old in his world has killed someone?

The lower level demons didn't really bother him, most of them were more beast than man and were without any intelligence. From what he's heard about the Demon Lord, he will be a sentient being. He may look monstrous, Gavin isn't certain, but he will be on the same level intellectually as Gavin and he's not certain if he has it in him to kill like that again. Can he afford to risk his chance to go home?

"Gavin?"

Sara, the red headed woman, called out softly. He could hear the concern in her voice and was probably worried that he was tired. He gave her the thumbs up sign and moved through the doorway before his doubts sent him running.

The room they walked into was spacious, big enough that a dragon could comfortably live within and keep a large hoard. The only thing in the room is a large chair that is directly across from them. On the chair sits an imposing figure clad in black armor with horns protruding from the helmet. A black aura was visible around them and red eyes watched them from the helm. On the right side of the throne stood a female demon who looked more human than monster. She wore what Gavin would consider an Asian style dress with slits on either side that went all the way to her waist. Her skin was a dark shade of grey, her hair obsidian and her eyes a deep red. She had deep red horns upon her head, though they weren't more than a foot long and about a third of the size of the Demon Lord.

"Welcome, Hero, I've been expecting you."

The Demon Lord's voice was deep and filled the large room. With the voice came an aura of fear that hit all four humans. Pushing through the fear, Gavin moved forward. The closer he got the more his sword began to shine. It had been a gift from princess Joelle, a holy sword that would be able to kill the Demon Lord.

"I guess I don't need to say why I'm here if you've been expecting me."

Gavin was shocked that his voice came out like normal. He had expected the fear and hesitation that he felt to fill his voice and cause it to tremble. Is going back home worth all this? He couldn't help but questions everything, though he knew it was too late. There was no way that the Demon Lord would allow him to escape alive. He had to kill the Demon Lord.

The Demon Lord laughed and stood, taking a step towards Gavin.

"No, there is no need. You will be my only opponent, though, Hero. Xanthe."

One word was all it took for the female demon to move. In the blink of an eye she stood between Gavin and the rest of his party. He took a quick glance behind him before continuing to move forward. He had to trust that the others could take care of the demon. The Demon Lord did not move any further and Gavin was forced to walk all the way across the room to the throne, leaving him too far away from the rest of his party to help if they were to need it.

"I don't think I need this anymore."

With the snap of his fingers the Demon Lord's armor disappeared to reveal a human man dressed all in black. He stood a little taller than Gavin, which put him just over six feet tall. His short hair was black, his eyes were a blue/grey shade that looked like a stormy sky and his skin tone was a deep olive shade. Gavin found himself stunned at the sight, unable to move.

"Surprised?"

His voice was less intimidating without the suit, though it was still deep and sent a chill down Gavin's spine. The Demon Lord moved closer to Gavin, his steps casual, as if he wasn't worried in the least bit about his opponent.

"I'll admit that I was excited when I learned that a Hero had been summoned. It gets lonely being the only outworlder here."

"You were summoned?"

The Demon Lord smiled, though it didn't reach his eyes. "Yes, I was summoned. Will you let me see your face before we start? I promise I won't attack you while your helmet is off."

Gavin's mind was a jumbled mess. He had been told that he was the only one, that no one else had been summoned. How can this be? His hands were shaking as he sheathed his sword and removed his helmet. He could hear the other's fighting in the background and knew that he shouldn't be doing this, but the need to connect to another human like himself was too strong.

Removing the helmet revealed light blond hair that was almost shoulder length, bright blue eyes and pale skin. Gavin was what one pictured when they thought of a hero; blond hair, blue eyes and an athletic build. What no one from this world knew was that in his world he was a nerd and a loner who spent more time hanging out with his older sister than with friends. His athletic build came from the years of martial arts training that had been needed to combat the bullies and his low self esteem. The people of this world expected him to be a leader with lots of charisma and he had tried his best to fulfill that role.

"Ah, exquisite." The Demon Lord had a strange glint to his eyes as he looked at Gavin. "I go by Caine on earth."

"Gavin. Where did you live?"

"New York, you?"

"Indiana."

"You should put your helmet back on, I wish to get this fight started now."

Gavin put his helmet back on but hesitated to draw his sword.

"We're from the same world, should we really be fighting?"

Caine held his right arm out and a sword appeared in his hand. He didn't say anything as he moved towards Gavin while swinging his sword. Gavin barely pulled his sword out in time to block the attack. It took all he had to block the sword every time Caine swung at him, each hit sent a jolt down his body. Caine came at him with so much speed that he was only able to defend, he had no time to take the offensive.

In one swift motion Gavin lost his sword and found himself laying on his back, his helmet off and Caine's sword pressed against his throat. Caine laughed and drew back.

"Again? No weapons this time."

Gavin stood up, his eyes on Caine as the sword disappeared. He rushed at Caine and tried to utilize his years of martial arts training. Unfortunately the armor was too bulky and hindered his movements. Caine got in two good punches straight to his chest and sent Gavin back down. Gavin found that it was hard to breathe after getting hit and noticed the indentions on his armor.

"Why don't you take the armor off? Such things are a hindrance to fighting. I've never understood why knights use them. I won't do anything while you remove it."

Caine held up his hands to let Gavin know that he would wait. It took a lot of effort for Gavin to stand. He removed the armor like Caine suggested, but deep inside he knew that he had no chance of winning. It felt like he was being played with, like he was the mouse and Caine was the cat. Gavin used what little magic he knew to add protections to his body and heal himself, though it was only minor. He hasn't had enough time to learn much magic.

Caine waited until the last of the armor was off and Gavin moved to attack before he moved. Gavin was faster without his armor, but his speed was nothing compared to Caine, neither was his strength. Before Gavin knew what had happened Caine had delivered a punch to his chest and kicked the backs of his knees causing him to go down once again.

When Gavin took a breath he nearly blacked out from the pain. If he had to guess he would say that at least one of his ribs were broken and potentially puncturing his internal organs.

"I had hoped for a better fight than this. It seems that they left you woefully unprepared for battle. I suppose it's their loss."

Gavin felt his hair being gripped and his head turned. He found himself watching the female demon as she ran a sword through Roderick. From this distance Gavin was saved from seeing the life flee from Roderick's eyes, but he could see the lifeless body fall after the sword was removed. The bodies of Sara and her love, Nikki, were off to the side. From what he could see it looked like Sara had died first and Nikki had died while crawling to Sara.

"If they had waited longer, trained you harder, you might have stood a chance. Your comrades? They never stood a chance no matter how much they trained. Xanthe is my right hand man, but she is significantly weaker than me."

Caine leaned over and whispered in his ear. Gavin's vision blurred as tears filled his eyes. He hadn't known them long enough to become close, but they were people that he had traveled with the last couple months. They had enough trust in each other that they could fight together and not have to worry. He had failed them, failed this world and wouldn't get the chance to see his family ever again.

"Will you kill me now?"

His voice was hoarse and barely above a whisper. Caine's laughter was his answer as his hair was released and he was pushed back onto the ground. The impact of hitting the ground jarred his injury and he found himself coughing up blood. At this point he was in so much pain that he wanted death. Caine knelt and straddled his body, the face that looked down at him was more demonic than human.

"No, death is too easy. I truly do miss being around people that I don't have to explain every little thing when I talk to them."

Cain pulled out a small dagger and cut Gavin's shirt open then cut his own finger.

"I'll make a deal with you; if you will be a good boy and not give me any trouble, I'll reward you with a visit home."

With the blood on his finger he drew a symbol over Gavin's bare chest, over his heart. Before Gavin could reply to him he felt a sharp pain in his chest, as if the symbol had been drawn with a blade. The symbol glowed and the warmth of magic filled it and spread throughout his body. The combination of the pain he was already experiencing and the magic that had been performed caused Gavin to lose consciousness.

*******

Gavin slowly started to wake, his mind was lethargic and for a moment he thought he was back home. The moment his mind cleared, and he remembered what had happened, he sat up. The room wasn't familiar, the bed he was laying on was large and a black blanket lay across his lap. The sheet and pillowcases were a dark shade of grey. It was dark enough in the room that he wasn't able to see past the foot of the bed. When he turned to his right he saw a small table with a lit candle, it had been burning for a while.

He moved to get up and discovered that he was completely naked. It was about then that he discovered that he was no longer in pain. He took a deep breath just to be certain. It seems that someone had healed him. He heard the jingle of a door knob turning and glanced over in time to see a door open further back and to the right, light from the other room illuminated the tall figure that walked into the bedroom.

Gavin found himself holding his breath, his hands had a death grip on the blanket, as the figure of Caine walked towards him.

"I see that you are awake. How do you feel?"

Caine sat down on the side of the bed and looked at him once again as if he were a mouse he was toying with.

"I-I'm not in pain."

The memory of his comrades' dead bodies appeared suddenly in his mind and he found that he was unable to look at Caine. Caine wouldn't allow him to look away, his hand came out and grasped hold of Gavin's chin and forced him to look up at him.

"I want to make this clear; you belong to me now. The mark I made on your chest is called a slave crest, it binds you to me. I expect complete obedience. I will reward good behavior, earning a chance to visit your family can be one of them. I also will not hesitate to punish you for disobedience."

There it is again, he said that I can go home. Gavin knew that he had said that before, but how could that be? He had been told that he could only return home if he killed the Demon Lord.

"How? I was told that the only way I could return home was to kill you."

"Really?" Caine shook his head, "I suppose they felt it was the only way, but that's nonsense. I've been here nearly ten years and make a trip home at least once a year.

Gavin felt like he had been hit again, all the pain and sadness he had felt over being torn away from his family and kept away hit him all at once. He didn't realize he was crying until Cain moved his hand to wipe the tears away.

"I can't give you the freedom to return home permanently, but I can give you the freedom to visit for a short time. Once you've earned it."

"Thank you."

"Oh, I wouldn't thank me just yet. You don't even know the terms of our relationship."

Caine's hand moved to the back of Gavin's head, fingers in his hair, and pulled him forward to kiss. Caine took advantage of Gavin's surprise and deepened the kiss, his tongue slipping between the other's lips. When Caine pulled away from the kiss he was smiling. The hand that had been holding Gavin's head moved to caress his face then traveled down his arm to rest on his hands, the blanket still clutched tightly.

"I desire a loyal servant, a lover and potentially another General to stand at my side."

Gavin was finding it hard to breathe. He certainly found Caine attractive, the sight of him when the armor came off had startled him in more ways than one. He shouldn't be aroused by the man who had caused the death of his comrades. It would be wrong, wouldn't it? Caine's hand moved to grasp hold of the blanket and threw it aside, ripping it from his hands and exposing his body.

Gavin felt his cheeks heat up as Caine looked over his body. He should run, should tell Caine 'no' in no uncertain terms. Sara and the others were dead, killed by a demon under Caine's command. Didn't we kill hundreds of demons when we came in? We came to them, attacked them first. When he looked up he saw that Caine's shirt was off and he was pulling down his pants. He found that he couldn't stop looking. The sight of Caine naked before him caused his heart to speed up and his mouth to dry out.

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