A Demon’s Temptations — Part 2
It felt like I was thrown into the midst of a nightmare. Everything I thought I had was taken away from me—no, that isn’t quite right. I was forced to realize that I never had anything to begin with. It’d all just been an illusion, a hallucination I happened to be able to touch. And today, I’d finally learned the truth. Coming to understand my own circumstances had already made today the worst day of my life. But the day had yet to end. And neither had my suffering.
Losing everything I had—and everything I’d thought I had—was only a turning point. His words, my supposed saviour’s words, only tortured me all the more.
“It’s a pity, but still the truth. At this rate, you won’t be able to do a thing, not to the demon, nor to Yumis. I’ll murder her in cold blood without allowing you even the slightest bit of involvement. I could care less about how you feel, or what she’s done to you. There’s no reason for me to yield anything to you,” Kaito sneered.
I leapt at him. It wasn’t a conscious action, but rather, something my body had simply happened to do. The sheer amount of hatred coursing through my veins had forced me to action, to attack.
But I was powerless.
He evaded my pathetically weak attempt at a lunge, knocked me to the floor, and suppressed me by placing a foot on my back.
“Hurts, doesn’t it? How about this, I’ll lift my foot if you swear that you’ll give up on exacting vengeance.” He spoke in an overbearing, know-it-all like tone as he pointed out all my weaknesses and forced me to face everything I’d tried to avert my eyes from. “I’ll get you out of here if you give up on her. I really do feel sorry for you, so I’ll even give you some cash. You can find a place for yourself out in the countryside and live the rest of your life out in peace.”
The combination of his smirk and the preposterous words he spoke made him look exactly like an evil sorcerer taken straight out of a fairytale. But the offer he made was the opposite of enticing. It was something that, as far as I was concerned, held no value whatsoever.
The life I used to live was one I could no longer go back to. It’d already been shattered, destroyed, spirited away to a place beyond my grasp.
Quietly living out the rest of my days was downright impossible.
“I see,” he said in a gentler tone as he removed his foot from my back. Looking up, I noticed that his face was now decorated with an ever so slight smile. The heavy, intimidating air that’d surrounded him just a moment prior had vanished. And only then did I finally realize that he wasn’t a spirit—but I didn’t care.
He would steal my prey if I didn’t do something to stop him. Both the people I wanted to kill, to enact vengeance on, would be taken away from me. That alone, I couldn’t permit. I would much rather die than yield.
And for that reason, I assaulted him again. I opened my jaws and sank my teeth into his leg
I knew I was going to fail. He was once again going to dodge my miserable excuse of an attack and step on me. And this time, he was probably going to kill me.
It was only a given. I rejected his aid and met his kindness with hostility. There was no reason for him not to kill me with the way I’d turned down his offer.
He’d completely overwhelmed a demon. There was no way someone like me could so much as scratch him, let alone beat him in a fight. Yet, I still chose to attack him.
Because I had no other choice.
Because I myself had decided that revenge was all I had left.
I’d already given up once. I’d accepted my death as an inevitability. But the moment that’d happened, I realized I didn’t want to die. And for that reason, I decided. I wanted revenge, and I would attempt to take it regardless of how likely or unlikely I was to succeed.
“Why… aren’t you fighting back?” I asked.
I didn’t think it’d be possible for me to hurt him, but, for some odd reason, my attack had damaged him. At first, I’d seriously tried to bite into his flesh and tear it apart. But soon, my jaws began to slacken. I realized that, for reasons unknown, Kaito had decided not to avoid or resist me in any which way.
“Because I deserved it. It was just for confirmation sake, but still. I spouted a bunch of annoying bullshit at you, and I know it.” He responded in way that left me taken aback.
Recovering from the shock, I looked him dead in the eye, only to find that his gaze was lightless. His pupils seemed to contain a sort of endless darkness, much like that of a bottomless abyss.
It was precisely that gaze of his that prompted me to look at him, not just as someone out to poach my prey, but as a person; his eyes caused me to take interest in him.
“Have you already forgotten the first thing I said? I’m here to recruit you, Shuria,” he said with a smile.
“Re…cruit…?” I questioned.
“Exactly,” he replied. His one word response had been accompanied by such a wide range of emotions that it almost seemed to reverberate its way into my head. It seemed to sneak its way into every last nook and cranny of my brain as I digested his words. But before I could, he added even more. “You said you would rather die than forget your vengeance. And so, Shuria, I have an offer for you.”
“Would you like to be reborn, here and now?” Kaito smiled demonically as he whispered. “Won’t you join me down vengeance’s path?”
His hand looked exceedingly human, but I was sure that taking it was no different from taking a demon’s, for his offer was as tempting as would be a forbidden fruit.
“Join… you…?” I repeated his words under my breath.
The words were so alluring that I felt like taking his hand would cause me to plunge into the darkness of the abyss.
“Would you rather be an observer? Or join me as an accomplice? Make your choice, here and now. If you take my hand, then I’ll give you the power you need to exact the vengeance you desire, but accepting that power will take you beyond the point of no return. You’ll be forced to continue your quest for vengeance and shoulder all the grudges I bear, even after Yumis’ death. The contract you’ll make with me runs deeper than blood, no joke. If you die, then I’ll die. And if I die, then you’ll die,” Kaito elaborated. His words almost seemed to come from really far away; they were all blurred together and extremely difficult to make out.
I was convinced that the person before me was a true demon, the kind that tempted people and led them astray in fairytales.
But as far as I was concerned, that was perfectly okay.
“I don’t care about all that extraneous detail. There’s only one thing I want to know. Will taking your hand allow me to see her suffer? Will I be able to see her expression twist in indignation and resentment?” I asked. I only cared about getting my revenge. I didn’t care whether I had to do it alone or if I had to work with an accomplice. All that mattered was that I would be able to carry it out. And that was why the only thing I wanted to know was whether or not taking his hand would allow me to achieve my goal.
“Did I not make myself clear? I said I was giving you a chance to become one of my accomplices. Therefore, the question shouldn’t be ‘will I see her,’ but ‘can I make her?’ I’ve pretty much said this already, but, you decide,” Kaito paused for a moment before continuing. “Pick your own future. Choose your own fate. I won’t make any guarantees, nor will I only only show you the conveniences that come with siding with me.”
“You really are a like a demon,” I said indignantly. “You’re enticing me to join you without any words of comfort, nor even a guarantee of success. You’re basically not doing anything for me at all.”
“Well, I’m sure you already know all about just how much it can hurt you to leave something entirely in someone else’s hands,” he countered my complaint by hitting me right where it hurt. His lips curved upwards even though his expression seemed far too dark to be entertaining a smile—an expression I was sure I shared.
Though he wasn’t doing much of anything at all, the hand he had extended symbolized an offer that could give me everything I could ever want. I was sure that taking his hand would turn me into a demon, just like him.
So I accepted. “Fine. I’ll offer you my body, heart, and soul if you make me into a demon, just like you. I don’t care what happens, as long as accepting will take me even one step closer to getting my revenge.”
“Fine. I’ll offer you my body, heart, and soul if you make me into a demon, just like you. I don’t care what happens, as long as accepting will take me even one step closer to getting my revenge.” The hand I had extended was gripped by a smaller, paler one as Shuria acknowledged my offer.
Wait, did she just tell me to make her a demon?
“Damn, you’re harsh. First you called me a ghost, then a spirit, and now a demon? For the record, I’m only human.” I grinned as I pulled Shuria to her feet. I let go of her hand as soon as she got up and summoned in it the dagger the Holy Sword of Vengeance used to establish its contracts.
“A regular human being wouldn’t be able to make take on a form made entirely out of mana. Nor would they be capable of making a dagger that ominous out of nothing but mana,” she retorted.
“Well, this sword’ll probably be able to answer about half your questions. I’ll answer the other half later, when we have more time,” I said.
A dark light that burned more brightly than the sun filled our sights the moment I handed Shuria the Holy Sword of Vengeance, a clear sign that she was more than qualified to use it.
“How strange. The light’s cold, hot, dark, and bright at the same time,” Shuria remarked.
Her eyes filled with a deep, red glow as she stared at the blade she’d been given. Black sparks radiated off its blade, as if it was both giving a cynical blessing to the girl holding it and urging her to set out on vengeance’s path. She brought the sword to her chest as she would a something she treasured—and drilled it into her body. But despite that, there wasn’t even the slightest trace of a wound.
“Grggghhhh…” I groaned. Second hand knowledge began flowing into me, just as it’d done when Minnalis and I had made our contract; I felt another person’s passion and hatred enter me. It was already my second time feeling the sensation, but it felt strange and foreign regardless. I couldn’t hold back the sheer amount of negatively that suddenly flowed through my mind no matter of how hard I tried; it eventually made its way onto my face and distorted it in rage. By the time it stopped, by the time the blade finally ceased glowing altogether, Shuria’s thirst for vengeance had become one with my own.
“Ugh, that really is way different from just talking to someone and sympathizing with them,” I complained.
“Wow. I really didn’t think I’d run into anyone with circumstances similar to my own so quickly,” Shuria mused as she made an expression comprised of a mix of distaste and resignation. “That was a really strange sensation… but it looks like I’ve obtained an incredible ability.”
She clenched and unclenched her fists several times as she observed her surroundings. A delighted expression appeared on her face a few moments later.
“And I think I’ve found just the thing I need to make it work,” she said. “He’ll be just perfect for commemorating my new skill’s first use.”
The elf-like girl slowly trudged her way over to a stuffed cat. She crouched as she reached it and picked it up by placing her hands around its stomach. And then, she began to chant.
Mr. Cat, Mr. Cat, where are you?
The clock breaks in the country full of kindness
The ice cracks in the country full of cold
Right this way, Mr. Cat. I know you’re lost.
You’ll find a tasty snack right over there.
Thread Spinner Dance — Puppet’s Spiritual Possession
Glowing particles dyed in red, yellow, and black began to rise off the ground and illuminate Shuria’s vicinity as she sang to activate a peculiar sort of spell. Her magical formula pumped the doll full of magical energy, and as the amount reached its apex, the particles that’d appeared around her did as her mana had and suit and entered the stuffed toy.
“Nnn… I feel really unsteady. I must be mana drunk… kyaha, kyahahahaha!” She laughed as she spoke to the stuffed toy, “now, get right up!”
The cat reacted to Shuria’s voice. It twitched several times, gave itself a shake, and got to its feet.
“Huh, that’s a pretty interesting ability you ended up getting,” I said.
“It’s only going to get even more interesting from here on out,” she giggled.
The smile on Shuria’s face was a happy one, but the rest of her expression seemed to indicate that she’d fallen into delirium. Even so, the cat she’d empowered didn’t mind. It simply looked up at her and gave her a refine bow. Seeing that, Shuiria smiled again and issued it a command. “Okay! Here’s your first order. Go consume that pitiful clown. Make sure you get a good taste of him while you’re at it.”
The cat’s lips curved up into a smile. “Nishishi Nishishishishishi!” It responded her instructions by both laughing and nodding simultaneously. The fork and knife it held clinked against the floor over and over as it walked its way over to the demon that’d watched us throughout the contractual process.
I’d originally intended on killing it myself, but I thought it’d be too unrefined of me to cut in now of all times, so I took a step back and decided to play the role of an observer instead.
“S-Shit! What the fuck are you people!?” The demon screamed. It had managed to regenerate about half its body, but it was out of time. Knowing that, it put on one final struggle by decreasing its density so it could complete its form. It tried its best to escape, and it would have, had the stuffed animal retained its original pace.
Shuria’s puppet kicked off the ground and leapt towards its prey the moment it attempted to run.
“Stay away! I refuse to let you take me for a fool!” The demon swung its arms to swat the stuffed animal out of the air.
But to no avail.
“Nishishii!” The stuffed animal laughed, mocking the demon as blade suddenly grew several times larger.
“W-What!?” The demon’s eyes widened in shock and panic as the enlarged knife cleaved its arm right off, but soon calmed down and even laughed in relief as it realized that its assailant’s blade lacked the Heart Flame Ghost Blade’s ability. “Hah… hahaha… Whew. It doesn’t look like it’s the same as the sword from earlier. I can regenerate immediately if all it does is cut me.”
But his respite was brief.
“You do know I told it to eat, right?” Shuria smiled as if entertained.
The demon didn’t get the chance to finish processing her words before the stuffed cat executed its orders.
“Nishishishii!” Again, it laughed as it stuck its fork into the demon’s disembodied arm and cut a piece of it off with the knife, which had returned to its regular size. And with the most natural motion, it raised its fork to its face and consumed the demon’s flesh.
“Huh…?” The unholy spirit stared, dumbfounded. Its mental facilities lacked the ability to allow it to react before the stuffed cat consumed the rest of its arm. “Oi, you’re kidding, right…? That thing just ate… my arm!?”
“Kyahahaha! Is something wrong? You’ve got a really funny look on your face.” Shuria mocked.
As of resonating with its matter’s sadistic urges, the cat turned towards the demon and brandished its fork and knife against one another twice instead of answering its question. The sound that came from it was the usual “Nishishi.”
“Fuck!! Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck! What the hell!? You have to be fucking kidding me! First, a sword that can cut something made entirely out of mana, and now a stuffed animal that can consume me!? This is just plain unfair! What the fuck!?” The demon complained, ridiculing the situation it was stuck in.
“Pffft.” I couldn’t help but laugh. “Did a demon really just complain about something being unfair?” I’d originally been intending on totally staying out of this, but the demon’s words were so silly that I couldn’t resist making a remark.
“I’m a demon goddamit! Unlike you fools, I’m a higher form of life! This shouldn’t be happening to me! No! No no no no no no no no!” The demon screamed as it fought back against the stuffed animal, but it failed to provide any significant resistance. It was completely outmatched.
The demon lacked proficiency in close quarters combat. It could no longer rely on its ability to regenerate either, and so, it panicked. It lacked the composure it needed to cast any complicated spells, so it ended up randomly throwing out weaker ones. But again, to no avail. All its attacks were either dodged or intercepted by the stuffed animal’s fork.
Though the demon was immune to pain, it did still feel fear. For that reason, it simply sat there as it was eaten, paralyzed by its own lack of mental fortitude.
Its body was consumed from the extremities, and soon, all that was left of the demon was its head.
“How… How could I, a demon, get done in by that sort of inferior life form? It’s not even sure whether it’s a human or elf!” Knowing its eventual demise, the demon moaned resentfully. There was so little of its mana left that it was already beyond repair. It wouldn’t have been able to heal itself even it took in all the mana around it. Its fate was sealed; it was going to die.
“How boring…” Shuria sighed. “Why did you have to lose so easily? I wanted you to struggle more and hold on a bit longer so using my new powers for the first time would have felt more special and exciting.”
“Well, Yumis is next, so you can just think of this whole event as a something along the lines of a prologue that ended up dragging on for too long.” I shrugged.
“I guess you’re right… In that cause, I’ll should probably end it now.” Shuria squat herself down right in front of the demon and kindly smiled as she issued her stuffed cat one last order. “I’ll watch every last moment of the demon’s demise. So dig in, Mr. Cat.”
“Fuuuuuck yooooooouuuuuuuuuuuu!” The demon cursed at the girl that proclaimed she would enjoy its death, its voice filled with hatred and rage.
Though faced with the demon’s bare hostility, both she and her puppet only laughed in response.
The stuffed animal stabbed its knife into one of the demon’s eyes and its fork into the other, consuming both before chucking the evil spirit’s head into the air and skillfully catching it in its mouth.
After swallowing, Mr. Cat huffed, as if satisfied before once again tapping the two utensils together. The demon episode had finally reached its conclusion—or so I thought.
The moment the situation calmed, something happened, both to the cat, and to Shuria herself. The stuffed animal, which, at first, had mostly been pure white, was the first to change. Swirling black patterns suddenly coined themselves all over the cat’s body and turned it into a black and white tabby.
Likewise, change also began taking place in the puppet’s master.
“Hm…? My body suddenly feels really warm. It’s like I’m burning up.” Shuria blinked curiously as she examined herself. The change in her temperature was a cause for concern, but I was much less worried about it than I was worried about the pitch black magical energy that’d suddenly started swirling around her body.
“Shit! Are you alright!?” I fretted. We were bound by the Holy Sword of Vengeance’s contract. Minnalis and I would both be in some deep shit if Shuria died.
“I think I should be fine. It doesn’t feel like I’m in any danger. My body just feels like it’s burning hot,” Shuria answered. Though the situation was abnormal, she remained quite calm. It didn’t look like she was at risk of losing her life. In fact, the heat wasn’t even causing her any pain or suffering.
After a few moments passed, the magical vortex eventually began to slow; our warped surroundings were allowed to return to their prior state.
“Well, this is unexpected,” I commented.
“Did I just… transform?” Shuria questioned as she looked over her own body.
Her soft, porcelain white skin had strengthened itself and turned into a milk chocolate-like light brown, while her pretty blonde hair had lost all its colour and turned a shade of silver. The torn parts of her clothes revealed that her abdomen was now covered in dark, tattoo-like markings.
She lifted a bit of her hair to the flame, and found that it reflected the fire’s colour and shone with an orange hue.
The change that occured within her seemed to be a side effect of her intaking the demon’s mana.
“Whew, you didn’t end up becoming a demon.” I remarked. “It looks like you’ve become something along the lines of a dark elf instead.”
“Dark elf?” She asked.
“That’s what the people back in my world call elves with skin like yours.” I explained.
Elves weren’t too rare a race. In fact, there were quite a few in town. Many of the race’s members would take advantage of their inherent talent in magic and become adventurers. But I’d never actually seen any elves with dark skin, not even before everything was reset. I’d been convinced that they simply didn’t exist, but evidently, I was wrong.
I looked over Shuria’s stats and confirmed that she was no longer a human with elven traits, and that she’d obtained a brand new innate ability.
Race: Dark Elf
MP: 780/780 Transfering (525)
Magic Power: 679
Magic Resistance: 582
Puppet’s Spiritual Possession
Presence Detection: Lv 1
Presence Concealment: Lv 1
Meditation: Lv 3
Dismantling: Lv 3
Thinking and Reaction Speed: E
Rate of Physical Recovery: F
Current Status: Healthy
One With Re-emerged Elven Roots
The Avenger’s Subordinate
Possessed Puppet Manipulator
“It doesn’t look like you’re in any danger, so I’d say we’re in the green,” I concluded as I looked over her stat page.
“A dark elf, huh…? I like it. It makes me feel like I really was reborn,” Shuria smiled, accepting her new form.
With that out of the way, I informed Shuria it was time to go. “Alright, the demon’s dead, so let’s get the hell out of here. I may or may not have forced Yumis’ barrier a slight bit to get inside, so she’ll probably be back before long.”
I even moved towards the dungeon’s exit, but Shuria told me to wait before I reached it. “Please give me just a few moments. I want to free everyone.”
She gave a few orders to her now marbled cat plush and had it eliminate all the undead.
Undead creatures were technically immortal, but you could turn them to dust and return them to the earth if you damaged their bodies enough and whittled away at the magical energy they used to sustain themselves. She did exactly that for all the undead locked up in the prison.
“Alright, let’s hurry up and leave. We’ve got a lot of stuff to talk about, and a very finite amount of time to get it all covered,” seeing that she was done, I urged her to leave.
“Mkay.” Shuria turned back one last time as she reached the staircase. “I swear I’ll make her pay. I’ll make her suffer more than enough to make up for everything she made you go through.”
Her dark, passionate words were met with silence, for all the creatures within the dungeon had already ceased their groaning. With that said, Shuria ascended the stairs, her black and white stuffed cat following right behind her.
Puppet’s Spiritual Possession
Skill Level: 2
Sacrifices a portion of the caster’s max MP in order to give an inanimate object false life and turn it into the caster’s servant. The servant’s abilities depend on the amount of mana sacrificed, the emotions embedded into it, and the caster’s environment.
The maximum amount of MP that can be sacrificed is equivalent to the caster’s max MP. The number of autonomous servants that can be created is equal to twice the skill’s level. The number of manually controlled servants the caster can deploy and use at once is based off of their own talents. If an autonomous servant consumes one of many specific types of organism, then the caster will absorb the organism’s magical energy. This can happen once per species. The caster’s species race can change if the newly absorbed individual had more mana than the caster.