World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 6: Three Storylines
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The next few weeks were the most fun I have had in this world.
True to her world, Ms. Kang had prepared a proposal for three separate storylines in one night. One was a classic superhero story, one was a mystery-thriller, and the final one was a "person-wakes-up-and-sees-world-as-a-video-game" storyline.
We took our discussions to the large meeting room one floor below my office. The room was spacious, with floor-length windows for walls. The sun could be seen peeking over the the first skyscrapers in the distance behind me as I looked through the proposals Ms. Kang had written up. They were all printed and organized, laid out in front of me on the long, white conference table. Ms. Kang sat, face impassive as ever, to my right, just a little further away. She was looking through everything on her tablet. There was no one but us in the room.
"I wasn't sure if you could do the gamer one, so it's not as developed as the others," she said, bowing her head apologetically. I shook my head.
"No, it's a very popular idea right now, especially in webnovels," I said. "Plus, I think it would be a challenge for me. What kind of gaming cheat were you thinking of?"
"Basically, the idea is that they have a gamer HUD," she explained. "They'll be able to see people's names and health bars, as well as their own stats. The idea is that every time they defeat an enemy, or complete a task, they gain Exp and level up. Leveling up then lets them unlock new Skills."
"What sort of Skills?" I asked.
Ms. Kang hesitated.
"That...I don't know," she admitted. "My first idea was something like hardening skin, but I don't know how useful that would be..."
"Well, it will be difficult for me to give her a lot of Skills, since one Skill sounds like basically one ability..." I mused. "Plus, if she has stats like Strength that will level up, that would also count as some sort of power...therefore, when it comes to abilities, we probably need to give her something she can level up..."
"Multiple Skills is no good?"
"Are you set on multiple Skills?"
"I mean...it doesn't really feel like a game if they only have one Skill..."
"That's true," I admitted. I stroked my chin, thinking.
"I can probably give three Skills, at most," I said finally. "Three Skills...in addition to her superhuman stats...and maybe something like a familiar?"
For a moment, I thought I saw the corners of her mouth turn upwards into a smile. Then it was gone.
"That works," she said calmly, and I began to doubt if I saw her actually smile there.
"So what can we do for the three Skills?"
Silence. I frowned in thought, getting up and turning to face the cityscape below me.
"Well, first, we need to start with something our hero can verify easily," said Ms. Kang slowly. "That's why I was stuck on Iron Skin."
"Why?" I asked, my back turned to her, enjoying the view.
"Because I don't believe someone who just wakes up with the ability to see her own stats will immediately believe it," she explained. "It's more likely they'll believe they're going crazy."
That made sense.
"Iron Skin..." I thought aloud, stroking my chin. "It's a bit dull isn't it?"
Ms. Kang agreed.
"In that case, how about something like flight?" I suggested, turning back around. Still quite standard, but it was definitely more exciting that Iron Skin.
Ms. Kang thought it over as well. Or at least, I think she did. All I saw was her brow creasing slightly.
"It can work," she allowed. "The problem is that flight isn't really something that can be leveled."
"What if we have some sort of MP bar?" I suggested. "With every level of flight, MP increases, and the MP cost decreases?"
"That's...definitely workable," she nodded slowly. "Maybe we can also limit the max speed of the flight until the Max level, slowly increasing it?"
"Yes...have her at slow speeds at first, then something quite fast in the middle levels, before going supersonic and beyond in the upper levels...I like it."
"Wait, if they're getting supersonic speed, will they be getting some sort of air resistance as well?" asked Ms Kang. "I don't want them to die as soon as they reach Mach 5."
I laughed. Cute.
I then explained to her that I would make it so that the ability included a protection that didn't let their body liquefy at high speeds, but didn't protect them in any other way. Things like that were easy with magic.
"Right, magic," said Ms. Kang, making a note of it on her tablet. "We can do pretty much anything with magic, can't we?"
I liked how she was starting to think of us as a 'we.'
"What about their other Skills?" I asked.
"I think we should hold off for now," she said. "We can give them new Skills at crucial times, or in relation to stat growth, just so the hero feels like they have more control."
A very good idea. I nodded approvingly, and she noted it on her tablet.
"In that case, what stats are we measuring?" I said, taking my seat once again.
We discusses it for a while, eventually ending up with HP, Strength, Speed, Agility, and of course, the aforementioned MP.
"Should we have an Int stat?" Alice wondered aloud.
"What would it be used for?"
"Maybe we can use it to increase the amount of info on her HUD?"
That was a pretty interesting idea.
We could start with her simply seeing people's names, then if she levels the Int stat, she could start to see their stats, maybe more personal information…
"That sounds like an Appraisal Skill," I said. "Couldn't we just make it a Skill?"
"Well, we're already implementing some of it in the HUD," Ms. Kang reasoned. "I'd rather keep it contained to that rather than waste a Skill slot on it."
A fair point.
HP, MP, Strength, Speed, Agility, and Intelligence/Wisdom. We'll decide on the final names later.
We shelved that storyline for now; I needed to do some magical research to see how to make such a thing possible.
With the conference room now bathed in yellow sunlight, Ms. Kang went over the superhero storyline next.
To be honest, it was very basic plot. That said, there was a certain charm to the simplicity.
The idea was that we would open a store of all sorts of trinkets and things. Someone would walk in, and they would leave with an item, whether they liked it or not.
From there, they would get a dream, where they would be warned of a coming danger, and they would wake the next day with powers of fire and ice.
"Why fire and ice?" I asked, leaning back in my chair and putting my feet up. Ms. Kang ignored my rudeness, as was expected of her.
"Well, the idea is that they would eventually end up fighting with a pair that have the same powers," Ms. Kang explained. "I saw someone like that in your presentation yesterday, so I was thinking..."
I nodded approvingly.
"Of course, there are variations," she went on to explain that since this storyline was dependent on someone coming into the shop and getting something, it may be a while before someone suitable came along, or it was possible that multiple people came along.
"Personally, I like the idea of two people coming in and having one get one power each," she said. "Just the idea of two people, bonding over a shared secret power..."
Was it just my imagination, or did Ms. Kang go a little pink?
No, I must be seeing things. That said, the concept she was describing was quite interesting. I fiddled with a pen as I imagined...seeing a romance blossom between a fiery, sharp-tongued girl and a steady, reliable guy...especially if the girl had the ice powers and the boy had the fire powers…
"Ahem...yes, I think the idea of a couple with fire and ice powers would be quite...interesting..." I said, coughing and sitting back up. "Maybe we could even give them some sort of...special telepathic connection, that lets them know when danger is around."
Okay, that was definitely pink on Ms. Kang's ears there.
"That sounds very...entertaining," she said.
She went on to explain the plot. It was a standard, monster of the week affair, but with all the elements discussed, plus the fact that it would be real people in these situations, I could see it becoming something quite exciting. Definitely something I wanted to try. But before we could decide...
"What about the last one?" I asked. "The mystery/thriller?"
"That one...I have a very specific vision," said Ms. Kang. For the first time that day, she set down her tablet, and looked straight at me. Her eyes were black and bottomless, promising absolutely nothing. For some reason, my heart started pounding just a little bit faster.
But now was not the time for that. Ms. Kang began her explanation.
Due to the fact that we would be doing all sorts of experiments on humans to create chimeras and eventually homonculi, Ms. Kang reasoned that there were likely to be a lot of failures.
"My idea is that we let some of the failures...escape," she said.
They would escape, probably kill someone, and the body would be found by the authorities. Once of the authorities would start an investigation, which would end up getting shut down due to pressure from our company.
"Basically, I want a police officer to try and come for us," she said. "They'll try to discover what we are trying to do and expose us, while we try to frame them and possibly kill them."
Mystery and intrigue...hmmmm.
"That does sound quite interesting," I said slowly. "But I don't think it can work."
"My company is too powerful," I said simply. "If I wanted, I could simply crush whoever is coming after us, especially if they're from the police. The same goes for any kind of government body."
"Then they'll be from the press!"
"Unlikely for them to find the body first," I countered. I swiveled my chair around, looking back out the window. "I suppose they could be the one to find the body, then try to follow up but...you would need to get very lucky with whoever you found."
"What if I found someone first?" she said, standing up. Despite her blank face, I could feel her passion.
"What if I found someone suitable, and tailored the storyline to fit that specific person? We'd do that for the gamer storyline too, wouldn't we? So it wouldn't be that much of a resource drain."
I was surprised at how stubborn she was being with this. Then I remembered that her favorite manga was Death No*e. I realized that an avid thriller fan such as her probably had some ideas for scenes. Now that she had a chance to act them out in real life, she probably couldn't bear to let go of this chance.
Hmmmm...my eyes wandered again to the window. The cityscape was different under the light of the sun. There just wasn't as much...mystery to it. There were no visible shadows.
This storyline could add some shadows to it.
Besides, I didn't particularly hate the idea of the storyline...and it would help with Ms. Kang's motivation if she was invested…
"Alright, in that case, we can do the mystery/thriller storyline," I relented, turning back around, just in time to see her face warp. This time, I was sure. Ms. Kang was definitely smiling.
There was something...weird about her smile. Like it was hiding something. It was a good smile. I liked it.
"However," I added. "There will be a few conditions."
"First, we will be doing all the other storylines as well," I said. Her eyes went wide as she realized the scope of what that meant. "We'll be doing all three storylines together, at the same time."
"I can do that," she said.
"Second," I paused for dramatic effect, "while I will be helping with the other two storylines, you alone will be doing the research for the mystery. You will need to do all the prep yourself. And if the quality of the work for any of the other two storylines drops, the thriller is cut."
"Thank you, sir!" she agreed without even thinking, and bowed.
For some reason, I felt a bit unsatisfied. Still, I couldn't complain. My words seemed to have the intended effect on Ms. Kang's motivation. Her eyes were brimming with enthusiasm as she left to go start her work.
I turned back in my chair as I thought about how we would need to proceed.
First, we needed to establish the labs. Thanks to my preliminary research, it looked like my father's pharmaceutical company had a total of about seven labs, all dotted across the world. Four of them were legitimate, while three were off the books; in China and the Philippines. We needed to look over the resources and their management to see how we wanted to go over changing their experimentation. Most likely we would need a complete staff change in all locations, but if there was any way to retain personnel, that would make things a lot easier. Mentally, I assigned the task to Ms. Kang.
I also had a few labs absorbed into my company in the past, and I needed to go over whether or not any of them would be suitable for our purposes. I would personally do that, as Ms. Kang didn't really know what sort of equipment/staff we needed. I'd let her know in the future, but for now, I would do it to save time.
Next would be to look for potential candidates for each storyline. I grinned in anticipated excitement for this. Sure, Ms. Kang would be looking after the one for the mystery/thriller storyline, but I needed to look for both the superhero and the gamer storylines.
I watched the cars move like snails in traffic as I pondered.
Superhero would be a lot easier, since I would just need to find a concentration of young people in an area. I didn't need to do too much research into who they were, since we would screen them once they came into the store we would set up. Ideally, they would be about college age or younger, so a college town would probably be the best bet. For that, I decided to narrow my search to the US, or maybe Canada.
As for the gamer storyline, I would need to be more selective. I had a set criteria for the type of protagonist I wanted:
1. A gamer
2. Someone yearning for the extraordinary, but not doing anything to better their life
3. Someone good-looking
The last one was something I was absolutely not willing to compromise on. In fact, it was a criterion that I would have to add in Ms. Kang's priorities as well. If I was going to watch people try to save the world, I wanted to watch good-looking people. Does that make me selfish and terrible?
I scoffed aloud to no one.
I'm trying to become a Demon Lord. I don't care about being selfish and terrible. I am a horrible person. I. Don't. Care.
My first two points, however, were flexible. I could give it to a non-gamer, but a gamer would make the adjustment period a lot easier. And while I was specifically looking for a loser-type, that was only because those were the types of protagonists that were usually in these kinds of stories. I wanted to see if those kinds of people really could become heroes, or if that was really just wish-fulfillment. I suspected it to be more of the latter, but it couldn't help to try.
And like that, three weeks passed.
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