The story of a War demoness tested as Neiren's Champion. However, this isn't any demoness - it is a lowly lethaos with more honor than an entire Kingdom combined.
There once was a time, during the war of the Kuraian gods, that great champions needed to rise up and defend the honor of their god while they fought to kill each other. Such a title was earned, not given, and for this particular warrior, it was well and truly so.
We start our story in the halls of the mighty n’vaen, but it is not one of those who we follow. No, instead of the amazingly powerful n’vaen, we follow the plights of an old lethaos. She was no succubus, and she wasn’t all-powerful, but she earned her title as Neiren’s champion through honor and grit. With her stork-like legs, she walked these halls for one reason: the best of the training halls were here.
“Do you seek to rise above your station? How dishonorable! Be satisfied with the class our benevolent Neiren has given you.” The lethaos did not turn her feathered head to these taunts, but instead continued her drills against animated dummies.
“You think yourself better than us, the n’vaen! Neiren strike you and remind you of your proper place!” Her flames did not waiver as she built it and flung it at targets upon the walls. Her withered wings sat calmly upon her back. The lethaos said not a word, and when all the dummies had been shredded, when all the walls were charred black with her persistence, she left without a word.
The lethaos wandered the Kingdom, the hearty Warhorse “Destroyer” accompanying her. Wherever she went, she listened and learned. She practiced with blade in clawed hands at night and drank sparingly of Destroyer, for it was dishonorable to steal, and drinking of a fallen foe would taint the soul.
When the two finally crossed Kingdom borders, it was to challenge one who had insulted Neiren as some drunken cur. “You cannot possibly defeat a n’vaen!” she was told. The lethaos knew this to be true, but do you know why she went anyway? She went, because honor is greater than strength. If the n’vaen of the War Kingdom hadn’t responded, then she herself would.
The battle was fierce. The insulter had seen the owl face of the lethaos and assumed himself an easy victory. Instead, what he encountered was a cold and calculating bird of prey, master of her weapon, and summoner of flames. Fangs and sword sailed deadly and true, but the insulter had weapons of his own. Water and pike, the n’vaen parried and struggled under the sudden onslaught he had brought upon himself.
For hours, the battle raged, and at last the victor stood and howled his victory to the sky. “You, lethaos, get up!” he said. The old demon raised her battered body from the floor of the ring, but not because he had commanded her to. “You knew you would fail, and now you have. I hope you have learned something of the stupidity in your actions,” the insulter crowed.
The lethaos bowed low toward the one before her as bloodied feathers drifted to the ground. “Thank you for the experience. I hope you have learned of honor this day,” she said. The demons gathered were so surprised that they watched the apparently defeated War demon ride away with head held high.
The second time this happened, there was laughter in the crowd. The third gave rise to angry shouts. The fourth proved to reap silence. The fifth gave rise to rumors. The sixth held supporters in the crowd. The seventh held fans. By her tenth duel with n’vaen for Neiren’s honor, confusion reigned supreme in the gathered crowd. Why was a simple, owlish lethaos dueling for honor while the War n’vaen made no response to the insults thrown at the goddess? Other classes of demons began to fear the results of insulting the dragon of War, but the n’vaen continued to see who would break this warrior’s spirit first.
“Is there no demon within the War Kingdom honorable enough to face us? What happened to all that backbone and strength you all are so famous for?” The challenger this time was tall and surely powerful, an unknown demon just within the borders of War. Appearing almost completely human, her black hair and ivory skin only made her sky-blue eyes more prominent. The lethaos could feel that this fight might be different; she could die to this figure within her own Kingdom. Despite the knowledge of her possible doom, the lethaos stood unwavering, feet rock steady beneath her and hands still by her weapon.
“I am not my Kingdom. That is a question for my Lord. However, I have heard you insult the goddess Neiren and now challenge you to a duel,” the lethaos said. She readied her weapon, and the fight began.
It was over almost as quickly as it had begun. Summarily flipped over and pinned with deadly weapons, the black-haired individual looked deep into her eyes. “What have you to say for your pathetic defense of your goddess?”
“Thank you for the experience. I hope you have learned of honor this day,” the lethaos said. Her well-known words had not finished filling the ring before the victor spoke again.
“That is not what I asked! What have you to say for your pathetic defense of your goddess?” she said again. A strange mix of anger and curiosity glinted within those sky blue eyes.
“The words are not only for you. I am alone now simply because I am the first to fight for my goddess’s honor,” the lethaos said.
In that moment, voices were raised from the crowd. Other War demons called out to challenge the victor for the honor of Neiren. The woman smiled and stood. “Had you caused me injury, I would have let you sip my blood, honorable first champion of mine. Now you have inspired others to your worthy cause,” the victor said. Before any of the new challengers could reach the ring, she transformed into a dragon of astounding beauty and strength. Crimson scales sailed away on pitch black wings. This, my young ones, is why War is the greatest of all the Kingdoms.