The Visitor — Part 4
Editor(s): Sebas Tian, Speedphoenix, Joker
After we got over all the initial fuss and introduced the Spirit Lord to the rest of the residents, we sat ourselves down in front of a low-rise table for a more in-depth discussion.
“Uhm…” Leila hesitated as she cast her eyes on the hooded figure. “Would you like any snacks or tea…?” Even the ridiculously competent maid found herself confused as to how she was supposed to treat the unusual guest.
“Your solicitude pervades gratitude within me, oh child of the sheep-horned race,” he said. “Alas, I must refuse, for my form is one that remains impotent to the ingestion of victuals.”
“Wait, so how exactly do you sustain yourself if you don’t eat or drink?”
Inb4 he’s like a mystic out of an old Japanese folktale and just lives off mountain mist.
“I am of the spirit race. The essence that fuels the magical arts serves as my sole desideratum, as it is through it that we subsist,” he said.
Is that how that works? How uh… fantasy-like.
“Do not be fooled, Yuki. He is lying to you.” Lefi dismissed the spirit’s claim as soon as I finished internalizing and accepting it. “I am certain that he does not require mana to exist. Long ago, we found ourselves engaged in battle with a foe known as the Hadean Helldrake. I witnessed this so-called satanic figure obliterate the Spirit Lord with an attack. There was nothing left of him and there were no magical particles remaining in the area. I assumed that he had finally been slain. But a mere moment later, he regenerated as if nothing had happened. It was instead the Helldrake who was dealt a grievous blow.” She scoffed and narrowed her eyes at him.
“What an evocative set of recollections…” The spirit lord, however, remained aloof and ignored her accusatory glare to bask in nostalgia. “A long time has passed since I last revisited them.”
Rather than denying her statement in any which way or form, he instead implicitly agreed to it.
“Wow uh… I’ve got a whole bucketload of things I want to say about that, but first of all, what the hell is this Helldrake thing?”
“She was once a dragon with a downhearted disposition, known for both it and her obsession with necromancy,” explained Lefi. “She used the art with an unhealthy frequency and experimented with it whenever she found the time. During one of these incidents, she erred and cast a spell of spectrification on herself, and in doing so, became a member of the undead without first losing her life. The hate-filled impulses that came with the transformation destroyed her capacity for rational thought and led her on a mindless rampage. The Hadean Helldrake was the name given to her by the races.”
“Uhm…” Leila, who normally preferred to stay quiet and stand by, as a typical maid would, when we had guests, joined the conversation. “Are you talking about the dragon that appears in the Legend of the Nether Realm?”
“I have not heard of such a legend,” said Lefi.
“It’s an old folktale. It says that the Hadean Helldrake, the dragon that ruled the nether realm, was angry at the races because sinning and depravity had become too widespread. Unable to tolerate the world above any longer, it rose from the depths with an army of the dead to destroy it, only to be stopped by a divine envoy.
“We are most likely speaking of the same dragon. She often surrounded herself with legions of the undead,” said Lefi. “However, reality differs from the legend. She was introverted and often appeared dreary and joyless, and she certainly did run rampant, but she was not from the nether realm. Likewise, the old fool that put an end to her frenzy was certainly not any sort of divine envoy.”
“How intriguing… So that’s how the legend originated…”
An incredibly excited Leila pulled out a notepad and immediately began jotting down a whole series of observations and conclusions. Wait… is it just me, or did she just totally pull that right out of her skirt? No way, right? I mean, I know she’s a maid, but she’s not a batshit crazy F.A.R.C. trained guerilla, and I highly doubt she’s got a SPAS-12 lying around anywhere, let alone one disguised as an umbrella. And there’s no way she keeps grenades up her skirt either, right? Right…?
“What is the matter, Yuki?” asked Lefi. “Why are you staring at Leila?”
“…I kinda want to take a quick peek up her skirt.”
“Are you that desperate to anger me?” The dragon growled.
“Huh?” I snapped out of my thoughts the moment I realized that Lefi was giving me a cold stare. “W-wait, I didn’t mean it like that! I was just expressing some pure, innocent curiosity!” I shouted in panic.
“There is no innocence to be had if the act in question is looking up a skirt,” she said.
“E-err… yeah, good point.”
There was nothing more I could say to defend myself. She’d made a perfectly logical point with basically no holes to poke at.
“If that is what you wish for, My Lord…” The demon girl blushed and averted her gaze as she began raising the edges of her uniform.
“W-w-what the hell, Leila!? Are you trying to get me killed!?”
The moment I panicked was the moment she dropped the embarrassed facade and started to giggle. Oh goddammit. She was totally just trolling me.
“The bonds you have forged are resplendent.” The spirit lord cackled with hearty laughter. “Is the manner in which you are all acting at this moment quotidian?”
“Yup! This is how it always is!” said Illuna. “But Lefi and Yuki are the closest out of all of us. Seeing how well they get along almost makes me kinda jealous!”
“That is an account I am gruntled to perceive.” Again, the spirit lord laughed, happily.
Speaking of the Illuna-Spirit Lord interaction… The vampire referred to the bizarre, fantastical being as a guru because, to those that lived in her village, that was exactly what he was. It stemmed from the fact that he had provided the village with all the information they desired; he responded to each and every one of their questions with wisdom without fail. That was why the vampires had, as a collective, decided to dub him a guru.
I had a good bit of difficulty discerning the unknown entity’s sex, and the gender neutral title had not in any which way or form helped me solve the mystery. That said, Lefi referred to the spirit lord as a he, and I saw no reason not to agree, so I had ended up doing the same.
“Oh, right,” I turned to our resident dragon after clearing my throat “out of necessity” and promptly changed the topic. “That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to ask, were you born in the dragon’s village?”
“I suppose so, yes.”
“Then does that mean that’s where your parents are?”
“I do not have any parents,” said Lefi. “There are two ways in which dragons are birthed. Do you recall what I told you about the origins of demonkind?”
“Yeah, pretty much,” I said, as I recalled her lecture on magical particles and spontaneous generation, “what about it?”
“The same can occur amongst dragons. Some of us are born when a pair chooses to mate, but others simply come to be. I belong to the latter group.”
“Huh… I see, so you were born the same way I was?”
“That is correct.”
You know, knowing that kinda makes me happy. But I’m definitely never telling her, or anyone else for that matter. This is a secret I’m taking straight to the goddamn grave.
Speaking of dragons, especially in the Spirit Lord’s presence, led me to recall the ones that came to our aid when Illuna was kidnapped. Unlike Lefi, they were indigenous to the Wicked Forest. They’d been born here as opposed to migrating from elsewhere. I did run into them from time to time, but nearly each and every one of the rare encounters would end with them flashing me fearful gazes whilst promptly retreating in spite of the fact that their stats totally eclipsed my own. Their eyes sent a message, one that effectively said, “I’m surprised you’re capable of spending so much time with someone so terrifying.” Knowing that I not only enjoyed the company of, but also wed what they thought of as such a fearsome individual was what led them to feel the way they did about me. That was to say that they feared me as one would fear someone that belonged in an asylum as opposed to fearing me the way that they feared my wife. Personally, I wanted to get along with and be good neighbors to them given that they were the same race as Lefi, but they almost always went out of their way to try to avoid me. Sadface.
Their fear of Lefi apparently stemmed from a conflict that occurred a long time ago. When she first arrived in the Wicked Forest, they attempted to use their numbers to drive her out of their territory, only to be completely and utterly beaten down. According to her, she had accidentally gone a “little” bit overboard because they were the first of her kind to challenge her since she earned the title of Supreme Dragon. Her explanation had been a bit light on the details, but I was more or less able to read between the lines and guess exactly what had happened.
After spending a few moments thinking, I raised my head to find the two smartest people in the room engaged in a high level conversation.
“Would it then be correct to assume that the state of a spirit is heavily influenced by the state of the natural world around it?” asked Leila. “For example, if the magical particles in an area were to be distorted, would the spirits in the area also then become warped and begin demonstrating what one could consider abnormal and unexpected behaviours? I believe that…”
“Your interpretation is unerring. There exists a particular set of conditions, each subset of which is likely to ordain a spirit to become as I have and acquire the ability to become cognisant and aware of the notion of the self, as I have. And it is not only spirits through which this precept is evinced. All fauna capable of incorporating within themselves the essence of magic and internalizing it as energy is subjected to it. However, the concordance observed may differ with…”
Yeah… I think they lost me.
“Would that then imply that magical energies are at least in part responsible for both the sense of self and one’s cognitive abilities? I suppose that the races are also…”
Yup, totally not following.
The conversations that the spirit lord had with Illuna and Leila had led to two very distinct impressions. He seemed like any other kind but knowledgeable old man when speaking to the former, but transformed into some sort of all knowing professor guiding a gifted, post-secondary student when engaging the latter. Holy shit, Leila’s thirst for knowledge is seriously no joke. Sorry for the inconvenience, spirit lord dude.
Err… wait a second. Now that I take a second look, it seems like he’s not really bothered by it at all. In fact, he’s totally enjoying it. I mean, I guess I can kinda see why. Teaching someone as smart as Leila is probably a good bit of fun. Welp, if that’s what floats his boat, then all’s well that ends well, I guess.