Novel Paradoxical Library

Discussion in 'Community Fictions' started by Haxagen, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Hello, I'm writing a story called "Paradoxical Library". (1 Chapter/Day)

    Synopsis: If great power is given to the good, heroes are born. If it is given to the evil, villains are created. What happens if it's given to someone who's exactly in the middle? What happens when that someone coincidentally happens to be one of the laziest existences in creation? And why exactly does this power exist, and what purpose does it serve?

    Genre: Overpowered MC, Fantasy, Lazy Protagonist

    Edit: I completely messed up the ToC, so I'm going to redo that...right now.

    Table of (Dis)Content:
    Arc 1---Prologue Arc
    First person POV

    Let’s start from the beginning – I died.

    It was a gloomy August morning, and I had been killed by a speeding truck…was not what had happened.

    I wasn’t the victim of any crazed knife-wielding robber, nor did I die from a mistake of God.

    No. I simply picked a tall building, got to the roof, and jumped off.

    At this point, you may be curious about many things. But, assuming you aren’t, I’ll advise you to stop reading right here.

    Now, where was I? Ah. As I was saying, the reason for my death was – boredom. Simply speaking, there wasn’t much left to entertain me. Although, admittedly, being intoxicated at that time probably played a part too.

    I didn’t really have much hobbies of my own, neither was I heavily involved in any relationships.

    Family? Haven’t seen them for a while. Friends? Are they delicious?

    Anyway, after I jumped off and died, I ended up in the middle of nowhere. Literally. It was white everywhere, and there was absolutely nothing else here besides me.

    Hm? My necklace is glowing for some reason. "You have obtained the title of The Librarian...What?"

    3rd person POV

    The Paradox Library.

    Besides its priceless collection of ancient texts, displayed proudly upon rows of solid mahogany shelves, the Library was also the keeper of an item that was of far greater value. One that was kept hidden, within the innermost sanctum.

    At the same time, this treasure attracted the attention of many powerful beings, most of which invaded the Library, desiring the treasure for their own. Despite that, the Library withstood…and evolved, wiping out waves of intruders.

    However, as time wore on, it was apparent that the Library had faded from the memories of people. Fewer and fewer intruders passed through its doors, until the Library wiped out its final intruder, and grew silent.

    It then stood still, undisturbed, for nearly 20,000 years. Until…

    On the first floor of the Library, a summoning circle blinked into existence, glowing with a powerful green light.

    MC’s POV

    Hey. It’s me.

    Remember how my necklace had glowed all of a sudden? Well, I sure found out why.

    Before me, rather than an endless expanse of white, was what I presumed to be the interior of a rather old library. There was a nice fire blazing in the fireplace, and cushioned seats were located around it. There were also an uncountable number of shelves, filled with rows upon rows of books.

    The only problem – I was the only one inside this library.

    And before you ask, I already sobered up, so no, I wasn’t hallucinating. I was standing in the middle of the grand staircase, which allowed me an unobstructed view of the whole library. Not a single soul in sight…don’t tell me, this entire place is managed automatically?

    [Presence of Lifeform confirmed. Activating welcoming programme. Welcome to the Paradox Library.]

    …Called it. So, this place is called the Paradox Library, huh. Why am I here?

    [Host has been chosen as the Librarian. The Library is now your domain. The Library hopes that the Host can bring the Library back into its former glory.]

    Uwah, sounds really troublesome. I don’t wanna be a librarian, it sounds way too tiring for me.

    [The Library shall provide the Host with adequate living necessities, as well as a monthly salary of 50 mana crystals. The Library will also provide the Host with combat and magic skills in order for the Host to grow stronger.]

    Like I said, I don’t want to be a librarian, skills or no — Are you even listening to what I’m saying?

    [Tutorial stage has been activated. Good luck, Host.]

    I am so going to kill you once I get back. Wait, let me bring my sake~!

    [Location changed to: A forest in the middle of nowhere]

    A forest stage, huh. The wind here isn’t bad – great place to take a nap. I would have liked a drink too, but the idiot of a system took it away.

    [Tutorial Quest: Chop down 50 trees.]

    Nope, I’m not doing that. I’ll rather take a nap in the shade of this tree instead.

    Fuwah~ It sure feels good, with the gentle breeze blowing. If only I had some wine to drink…

    [Please chop down 50 trees to complete the tutorial.]

    Leave me alone. I haven’t taken a nap in forever, so let me sleep for a while.

    [Please chop down 50 tre—-]

    Shut up. I need my afternoon nap.

    [……]

    [……]

    [……]

    [Tutorial has been completed. Host has gained the skill: Ruler of Sloth, Belphegor]

    Mhm. So in the end, I actually didn’t have to do anything?

    ——————————————————————

    Ruler of Sloth, Belphegor (EX Skill)
    • The Sleepy One (Passive): Gains a permanent stat boost proportionate to the amount of time spent sleeping.
    • Productive Slacking (Passive): Gains 1 Exp per minute.
    • Efficient, or Slacker? (Passive): Gain Max Mastery of Space Magic (Master).
    • Gift from the Void (Active): Earns a randomly chosen treasure from the stash of Void. Cooldown time: 1 month.
    • Grants the Title《The Lazy One》(Hidden): Projects a demonic aura that is detectable by beings of both the holy and demonic alignments. Identifies you as “Belphegor”
    ——————————————————————
    The Librarian (Hidden Title):

    • This title will definitely help in some way. If not today, then tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then the day after. Endlessly repeating, eternal torture, given no place to spread your wings.
    ——————————————————————
    *Zzzz~*
    I found out later that I couldn’t kill the A.I.; after all, it wasn’t a corporal being to begin with. Well, that’s too bad.

    I also obtained a really powerful sounding skill, so I’ll be merciful for this one time only. After all, such a generous person like me has to learn to forgive others.


    Now, I wonder what other functions the Library has?

    [……]

    Oi. You dead or something?

    [……]

    Whatever. I’m going back to sleep~

    [Responding to host, this Library can also allow you to check and modify your status, as well as functioning as a map regardless of the world you are in. Other functions are currently locked and will be unlocked once Host completes the task requirements.]

    Oho? I heard something really good there. “Regardless of the world”? Is that implying that there is more than just one?

    [Correct.]

    Interesting. To be honest, I did always love to read novels relating to the ‘Reincarnation’ or ‘Other World’ genre. And now, it seems that I’m in a similar situation.

    In that case, let’s make the best out of this situation and satisfy my boredom while doing so~ I wonder, since there are game-like elements such as “Skills” here, is there also a character status page?

    Let’s see…[Status Open]

    It worked. Jeez. Miss Library Manager-chan, ripping off a game system is a very cliché thing to do, you know?

    Ah, whatever. I can’t be bothered as long as it works.

    ——————————————————————

    Human (Name: ???) Level 0 (0/100)

    • Hp:50
    • Mp:50
    • Atk:10
    • Def:10
    • Spd:10
    • Int:10
    Skills: Ruler of Sloth, Belphegor(EX)

    Magic Learnt: Space Magic level 10/10

    ——————————————————————

    How should I put it – this is really an average status, isn’t it. Well, at least I have Space Magic at max level……wait.

    My mana pool……is too low to cast something like a Rank 10 Space Magic, isn’t it. Damn.

    Hmm? There's a skill labelled [Gift from the Void]……Once a month usage, so it’s something like a gacha, eh?

    Well, since I’ve got nothing much to lose……here we go.

    [Acquired ‘Blessing of Yggdrasil’]

    ——————————————————————

    Blessing of Yggdrasil (Epic Ring)

    • Mana Boost (Passive): Adds 200 Mp, then doubles the existing Mana Pool.
    • Growth I (Passive): Gains 1 EXP every minute.
    • Life Boost (Passive): Adds 500 Hp, then doubles the existing Health pool. A 100 Hp/second regen is added.
    • Tenacity (Passive): Survive any attack as long as you have the will to live.
    ——————————————————————

    So this is what would be known as cheat equipment, huh. Wait a minute…does the effects of [Growth I] and [Productive Slacking] stack?

    [Answering the host’s inquiry, yes.]

    Oh, dear me. 10 Exp per minute.

    Having to do absolutely nothing to level up using this ring……I’m just downright cheating at this point, aren’t I. Oh well, I’ll worry about that later.

    Though, this ring does looks quite cute with it’s circle of interwoven branches. The glittering emerald inlaid in the centre was what drew my attention the most, though.

    Can’t be helped, I’m still rather fond of shiny things.

    [Host is now sufficiently strong enough to enter the Scenario Stages. Scenario stages provide abundant rewards, including equipment, titles, and skills of varying tiers, depending on the difficulty level. Scenario stages are only available thrice a day.]

    Eh.

    [Since this is the first time Host is attempting the Scenario dungeon, a previously prepared reward shall be given on completion. Additionally, for the first time only, Host can't die in the Scenario Dungeon.]

    It’s here. The long awaited, overpowered tutorial bonus that usually provides some kind of unobtainable rewards---Wait, did you just say that after the first run, the subsequent runs carry a chance of death?

    Never mind. Let’s go. I’m rather curious to see what this little thing can do, and since the first run is safe, I should take the time to get used to the ropes here.

    [Scenario Dungeon ‘Twisted Labyrinth’ has been selected. Difficulty: Nightmare.]

    Does this system have a grudge on me or something? I’ve only encountered it for barely 2 hours, and it already dislikes me? C’mon, all I ever did was to ignore you a few…hundred…times…forget it.
    I know that this is a scenario dungeon, but they sure went overboard on the templates, didn’t they.

    “CHARGE! For the Kingdom!”

    No. Just no.

    “Yeah! We are all gonna survive this!”

    That’s a death flag you know?

    “Ohhh! When this war is over, I’m gonna start my own family!”

    Somehow, the number of death flags are piling up……

    5 minutes ago.

    [Scenario dungeon ‘Twisted Labyrinth’ has started. Complete the dungeon to receive your rewards.]

    When my vision returned to normal again, I was standing atop an outcrop jutting out of a mountain, granting me an unparalleled view of the entire mountain region.

    “Sir Lodorick?”

    Eh?

    There was a girl standing behind me, dressed in a maid getup, with her head bowed low. Huh? I could see cat ears protruding from her hair.

    So, this is the famous beast-kin? She seems to be trembling ever so slightly, and there was an iron collar around her neck. A slave? She looks quite cute, though. Still, somehow…

    “What’s a lowly slave doing here?!”

    As I thought. The typical human supremarcist template, huh?

    A group of rowdy men ambled over. They were dressed in full suits of metallic armour, with kite shields on their backs and broadswords on their waists. The only thing I could think of upon seeing them was “knights”. On further inspection, I was also wearing a similar suit of armour, but I had a red mantle draped around my shoulders.

    Alright, so it seems that I have occupied the body of this person, huh. I wonder what position he held? Musing, I took a look through his memories.

    “Hmm?”

    Lodorick Guyar, aged 32, Knight-Captain of the Ferunia Kingdom. I had been expecting something like it, but his memories were filled with crimes. Murder, theft, violence. Most of it was directed at non-humans……that was the cat beast-kin in front of me that he whipped, wasn’t it.

    As I was pondering, one of the knights knocked the maid over, gave her a savage kick, and verbally abused her.

    “For a lowly slave like you, you should be glad to serve us humans for your entire life!”

    Disgusting. For a human to commit such inhumane acts. Furthermore, to go to the extent where you are rewarded for doing so.

    Disgusting. Every last one of them. I wish I could kill them all.

    “You could, you know. Just put them all down like the dogs they are.”

    Hmm...this is a scenario dungeon. And if what little game knowledge I have still holds, they usually have a hidden objective beside the main objective. I don't know what the main objective is yet, but I can guess at what the hidden objective might be.

    The Library told me that Scenario Dungeons are also a way for people to see and judge their true self by themselves. In that case, whatever rewards I obtain from this place is going to be determined by my actions.

    Since I can't die the first time around, I can afford to take more risks; let's see how this turns out.




    The expedition team, consisting of 100 knights and 50 slaves, was en-route to Lisandre, the Twisted Labyrinth.

    The knights were split into 4 groups, 25 knights each. As a Knight-Captain, I was in charge of one of the groups, with only the Knight-Commander surpassing me in terms of authority.

    “Hurry up with the food! I’m starving over here!”

    Shouted an unsightly, pot-bellied man. He stumbled around, barking orders, as the sunlight reflected off the insignia on his coat lapels. The insignia of the Knight-Commander.

    Seriously? Of all the people they could have picked, they chose an imbecile like him to be the Knight-Commander? Never mind holding a broadsword – he looks like he would faint from taking a few steps.

    Of course, I knew the reason for his position perfectly well. The memories I browsed through told me more than enough.

    When even a bastard like Lodorick thinks that he is incompetent, it’s pretty much the truth already.

    Currently, the son of a bi—sorry, the ‘Knight-Commander’, was beating up a group of slaves for failing to perform satisfactorily.

    “We don’t have the resources to spare for useless people! They should all just go and die!”

    It’s ironic that you are the one saying that, you know? Those slaves that have been beaten look really scary, especially their eyes.

    It’s almost as if they are staring at a walking corpse.

    Oh well, if the objective turns out to be what I think they are, this occurrence could turn out to be a very useful one.

    Inside the Twisted Labyrinth

    Like its name suggests, this labyrinth is rather twisted. The corridors were covered with overgrown plant life, and arching black spirals with sharpened edges.

    I’m assuming the stains on those edges aren’t tomato sauce.

    We quickly discovered that maps were useless in this place.

    “Dammit, the last turn ought to have been the right one!”

    You’re noisy. But I get how you feel, at least. Most people would go insane when the winding corridors go on forever and something breathes down your neck the entire time.

    It's about time that the objectives of this scenario dungeon are made known to me. After all, we're already inside the dungeon.

    ——————————————————————

    [Twisted Labyrinth Dungeon (Scenario)]

    • The Labyrinth is hungry. It demands sacrifices. Nobody is allowed to leave alive. Everyone must be sacrificed to keep the Labyrinth going.
    • Depending on your actions, you may gain bonus rewards.
    • The beastkin slaves look kind of dissatisfied with something.
    ——————————————————————

    Like I thought, this whole expedition was a trap—-this country’s higher ups intend to sacrifice troops to the labyrinth every year in exchange for keeping it running. Labyrinths are valuable sources of revenue; it’s impossible they will let one disappear if they could help it.

    Not that I can blame them. Everything follows the law of the jungle; if you are weak, you get eaten. In the same situation, I would have doubtlessly made the same choices.

    However.

    The main objective here is to survive. As for the hidden objective, the message already hinted at it. Helping the beastkin leave here alive, huh?

    That's slightly tricky. With this borrowed body, I have higher stats than before, and what's more, I have Space Magic with me. But, I'm not that familiar with using Space Magic, so if I mess this up, there's a chance that my secret will be revealed.

    Hmm...24 knights, excluding me. 25 beastkin slaves, and the cat-eared maid I saw earlier is one of them. I have the [Map] to check exactly where we're going. Can I do something with these conditions?
    Knight Commander’s POV

    My name is Garok Vortius, second son of the Vortius House, one of the most powerful Duke houses in the Ferunia Kingdom.

    Borrowing my father’s authority, I was granted the title of Knight Commander. This ‘Labyrinth Exploration Task’ was given to me as my first mission upon being a Knight Commander.

    This mission is a simple, yet important one. The Labyrinth is an important asset for the Kingdom. If I do this right, Father may even name me the successor of the Vortius House.

    Although, why does a Knight Commander like me have to put up with the likes of beast-kin? Mere slaves don’t deserve to be a part of this glorious mission!

    Never mind. If things go awry, they can be my meat shields. As long as I complete this mission, it doesn’t matter how many people die.

    MC’s POV

    That was difficult; slowly killing off people in a labyrinth sure is annoying, especially since I'm limited to just scheming.

    With my [Map], I had managed to discover the exact positioning of the traps scattered around, and silently made the other knights walk right into the traps. When there was just one more knight left, I stabbed him in the back with a blade, watching him gurgle up blood as he turned to stare at me, struggling to speak before he perished.

    It was the first time I got blood on my hands. It felt great. I never felt more alive.


    The group of huddled slaves were shivering, as they looked upon me, who was covered in blood, and tried to make themselves as unnoticeable as possible. I deliberately approached the cat girl, sword unsheathed, causing her to freeze up.

    *Clank* I broke the chains that were binding her hands together, seeing the fear in her eyes turn into confusion.

    "There's a room 50 metres ahead, where monsters don't spawn. Lead your group to there, and wait for me. Don't move from the room, even by a single step, alright? It's safe inside there."

    Watching the cat girl nod, I handed her a dagger, gestured to the other beastkins' chains, and then left, proceeding to where the closest group of knights were.


    The blood on my armour was quite convincing when I told them that the whole of my group was wiped out. By doing this three more times, I managed to get a sizeable number of beastkin freed. Still, if I didn’t use the Space Magic, this could have taken hours. I better get a lot of rewards from this.

    Speaking of rewards……I haven’t seen that pig of a Knight-Commander yet……so he is in the 4th group, huh?

    Hmm, [Map]. Aha, found you. There also happens to be a conveniently located nest of wyverns nearby……this could come in handy.

    Knight Commander’s POV

    “Please wait!”

    Behind us, hurrying out of a side corridor…that’s the 2nd Group’s Knight-Captain, isn’t it? Why is he here?

    “We were ambushed by a pack of wolves!”

    Tsk. Useless. For a whole group of Knights to be wiped out by wolves…what a moronic bunch.

    “However, we found a map that showed the layout of this place. Here.”

    A map? Wait…this spot is..!

    We must hurry immediately. If we found the treasure buried here, I will gain even more recognition! This is my chance to become famous!

    Back to First Person POV

    Look at him, grinning like an idiot. As I thought, a fool.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have no enmity against fools; in fact, I rather like them. After all, they are the easiest to manipulate, all that muscle and not a single brain cell. And when you eventually betray them, the look of shock in their eyes……simply priceless.

    Still, being a fool has it’s own perks. You live in ignorance, but also bliss. Life isn’t so serious, as they say.

    Unfortunately, this particular group didn't seem to have too many beastkin slaves remaining. There was only 3 of them left alive by the time I met up with them, 3 young beastkin children.

    It's a wonder how cruel humans can be, but taking into account my own actions, I don't think I'm in any position to judge them.


    Knight Commander’s POV

    That wasn’t a real map! We were attacked by wyverns, as soon as we approached the spot located on the map!

    Leaving my subordinates behind as meat shields, I ran for my life. It was truly a blessing that Father had given me a piece of magic equipment for this expedition—it saved my life.

    However, that Knight-Captain……He did this on purpose, didn’t he?

    “As soon as I get back alive from this mission, I will arrest him for treason!”

    “That’s a death flag, you know? Also, who said you were getting out of this alive?”

    50 minutes later, Outside the Twisted Labyrinth

    [Scenario Dungeon Complete]

    Finally. That’s was really tiring, I could use a nap when I get back.

    The group of beastkin slaves were with me. Even though 100 of them had gone into the Labyrinth. I was only able to get 60 of them out alive. The rest had perished as fodder for traps.

    "What do you intend to do with us, freeing all of us like that?"

    An elderly-looking beastman with leopard ears questioned me. Despite his age, his eyes were still sharp, and they were focusing on the sword still attached to my hip. Good grief, it's not good to be so wary, seeing how I saved the bunch of them.

    "Well, I don't have any plans for you guys...actually, these are in the way. |Remove disguise.|"

    The masquerade of the knight fell off me, like a curtain covering a tapestry, and my true appearance was revealed.

    "A human girl? Then, that knight..."

    "He doesn't exist anymore. Anyway, I'm not planning to have you guys do anything. In fact, this is as far as I'll take you. What happens next is entirely up to you guys now. I don't care if you choose to settle in some foreign country, or cause an uprising, because my role in this is over."

    The magical signature that was native to the Library was starting to surround me, preparing to bring me back to the Library.

    "Please wait! Please tell us your name! You saved us, after all, even though you are a human!"


    Ah, the cat girl. She's pluckier than I initially thought her to be.

    "Hmm...I highly doubt we'll meet again, and besides, I had my own motives for helping you guys, so I don't really deserve that gratitude. Therefore, it's not necessary for you to know that."

    That was all I could get out, before the spell activated, and I was forcefully brought out of this world.


    [Twisted Labyrinth Lisandre has been completed. Main and Hidden objectives have both been met.]


    ——————————————————————

    Scenario Rewards:

    • Wolf Bloodline: Allows Host to change their Race to Wolf.
    • Merciless (Rare Title): Grants a permanent ATK boost.
    • Saviour (Rare Title): Grants a permanent HP boost.
    • Betrayer (Rare Title): Your lies become more believable.
    • Solitary (Passive): All stats double when alone.
    • Feather Boots (Rare Equip): Adds SPD when worn, grants ‘Featherfall’ Skill
    First clear rewards:
    • 200 Mana crystals: Currency for purchasing items from the Library’s Hoard.
    • 1 Skill Point: Used to level up Skills immediately.
    • Beginner’s Elemental Magic Kit: Use to obtain a beginner’s ranked elemental magic (Pick one from Fire, Water, Earth, or Air)
    • Mysterious Random Box x1 (Consumable): Use to obtain one random item.
    ——————————————————————

    Ehhhhhh! That’s too little rewards for so much hard work! I demand a refund!

    Also, what's with all those titles...Merciless...Betrayer..."Under the most demanding conditions, you schemed, and succeeded. Let the world fear you, who has the gift of a glib tongue."

    Glib tongue my a**! Who's a betrayer?


    Meanwhile, in the depths of a certain Library, a shadow that was watching from numerous large computer screens cradled her head in her hands.
    Well, Library-chan? Do you have anything to say for yourself?

    [……]


    C’mon now, don’t be shy…it’s not as if I am such a Merciless person now, am I?

    [……]

    Now, now, you don’t have to remain so silent, yanno~ After all, I cant kill you, so no need to be so scared~

    But honestly, having seen the consciousness of the Library in a human form was mildly surprising.

    There was a girl sitting in seiza before me. Light blue hair, neon yellow eyes. She was trembling ever so slightly though. And her clothes……Mhm, is this what they call gothic lolita fashion?

    *Sniff* *Sniff*

    Oh dear. I only meant to joke around with her a bit, but she’s already crying…Oh well, I’ll go take a look at the other rewards from that scenario.

    Hou? She’s getting up from the floor?

    [This one……will bring you there.]

    Did she already get over her fright? That was quick…looks like she is more resilient than I thought, huh? Although, why is she glancing back at me every so often? It’s quite dangerous if you don’t pay attention to where you a—

    *Bam!*

    Yep, she tripped. What a klutz. At this rate, we won’t be going anywhere until Ragnarok rolls around. I grabbed her shoulders, causing her to stiffen up.

    |Unfathomable void, bring me to where I desire. Teleport.|

    Rank 8 Space Magic, Teleport. It allowed me to visit any location as long as I had knowledge of it. In this case, I borrowed Library-chan’s memories to get us here. It’s a costly spell with a cost of 50 mana points per cast, but my mana pool is large enough...and also because walking is a pain.

    Additionally, it seemed that spells could be invoked by just chanting the name; completing the full chant makes it more powerful, though. I unknowingly stumbled on this fact when I tested the Rank 4 Spell, Black Hole.

    Although, the full chant for that was quite short to begin with – |Devour, infinite abyss. Black Hole.|

    Never mind that. Now…where are we?

    We were standing in the middle of a room that resembled a nuclear plant’s control room (and don’t ask me why I know how a nuclear plant’s control room looks like). There was 2…glass tubes? that were filled with a strange, fizzing liquid. It glowed radioactive green, too.

    [D-Don’t suddenly invoke Teleport like that! It’s disorientating!]

    LIbrary-chan was glaring at me, flustered. Gomen, gomen, teehee. Although, it is really tiring to keep calling her Library-chan…

    "Yosh, from now on your name’s Liza!"

    [Don’t go about deciding important things like that on your ownnnnnnnn?!]

    Yeah, I don’t think she will ever bore me.

    “Still, you can drop the white lotus act now. It doesn’t work on me.”

    [Tsk…got found out. I thought so.]

    “You were observing, weren’t you.”

    [Yes. I needed to know just what kind of person the future Librarian is.]

    “Oho? And you thoughts about me, then?”

    [I exercise my right to keep silent.]

    Tsk!



    After that, I was rebuked by the Library Girl, who insisted that 1) She already had a name, Rufilia and 2) She definitely did not want to be called Liza. Even though I spent so much effort thinking of a good name, too!

    Just kidding, besides, her eyes were already brimming with tears when she glared at me. Cute.

    I was strictly not interested in yuri, but the way she looked tempted me to push her down……That was dangerous, I nearly lost myself in pink thoughts. (Author’s note: I think you are already long past the point of simply being lost.)

    Anyways…

    [This is the Evolution Room. Inside here, you can obtain newer races from fulfilling certain tasks or as gifts. Some races require you to merge the races you already currently have to unlock them, while others have strict conditions to be equipped, so be careful.]

    [Since this is the first time the Librarian has entered the Evolution Room, this one shall pick a suitable race as a welcoming gift…Please wait…]

    [Obtained Race: Spirit]

    I subconsciously stare at Rufilia. Really? Of all the races you could have picked, you picked that? And you still said you didn’t hold any grudges?

    ——————————————————————

    Race: Spirit (Common)

    • Grants minor bonus to all stats
    • Grants Spiritual Vision (Passive) when in spirit form, as well as enhanced smell and hearing
    • Minor Spd bonus
    • Can be imbued with magic
    • Can be combined
    ——————————————————————

    Imbued with magic? Uh…ok, do this, and then this…press this…done!

    [Race: Spirit] has been imbued with Air Magic (which I chose from the Beginner’s Elemental Magic Kit) to form [Race: Gale Spirit (Uncommon)]. Beside the base effects of the Spirit Race, it also granted higher Spd and a high Air Affinity.

    Besides imbuing, there also seemed to be a combination effect…What’s it do?

    [This one suggests that Librarian try that out herself to understand it.]

    ……Fine then. This girl, she really is one of those quiet and vengeful types, isn’t she?

    Well, might as well do it. After all, you only live once. (Author’s note: But you are living a second life rn lol.) Click.

    [Combine Race: Wolf with Race: Gale Spirit?] Yes. Click.

    Now, what will I get……?

    [Congratulations, you have obtained a Legendary-ranked Race.]

    Eh?

    Beside me, Rufilia’s mouth hangs wide open.
    It took a while before Rufilia was able to undo the [Petrification] status on herself. For reasons unknown, she was now sulking in a corner while mumbling incoherently.

    [Impossible……none……why……]


    Eh?

    [Impossible! First of all, how low do you think the chances of obtaining a Legendary-ranked item is?! Moreover, you even got it on the first try?! Do you know that even this one has not seen a single Legendary-ranked item for the past 18,000 years?! And what’s worse, it’s a Legendary-ranked Race that will automatically grow on it’s own! Not even the Library has one of those in stock! Boo-hoo, apologise to this one’s shattered dreams……]

    What is there to fuss over? Isn’t it just a somewhat decent item? There is such a thing known as beginner’s luck, you know?

    [What do you mean by “somewhat decent”?! It’s a Legendary-ranked item! L-E-G-E-N-D-A-R-Y! The chances of getting one of these are so low that even top-class gods do not have many of these! Even this one only possesses a Legendary-ranked equipment!]

    Oh. So getting one of these was actually quite good? Speaking of which, let me check the stats on this thing.

    ——————————————————————

    Race: Storm Fenrir (Legendary)

    • Patron of Wolves (Passive): As the ancestor of all wolves, you gain the right to summon any and every wolf to your aid.
    • Stormbringer (Passive): Grants usage of Storm Magic (Advanced) even without using this class.
    • Ancient Aura (Passive): Your presence alone intimidates most foes.
    • Lupine Howl (Passive): You are able to communicate or inflict status effects depending on your howl.
    • Wild Blessing (Passive): Massive boost to all stats.
    • Retaliation (Active): If injured, returns 1000% of damage dealt to attacker. Once per day, stacks up to 3.
    • This class is capable of further evolution.
    • This class allows user to switch between Human (50% stats), Fenris (75% stats) and Fenrir (100% stats).
    ——————————————————————

    If I'm to be honest, this probably classifies as Endgame Boss Material. Although, most of the skills here sound horribly complicated...I'm going to need some time to get used to them.


    [Do you understand how good Legendary-ranked items are now? Be grateful, many have gone for their whole lives without seeing one. In fact, getting this would have probably spent all your luck, so be careful from now on.]

    Rufilia puffs out her cheeks while she complains. Unexpectedly childish, huh? Well, I should probably open up my other consumable stuff while I’m at it. This [Mysterious Random Box] should work out fine. Click.

    [Congratulations, you have obtained a Legendary-ranked Equipment.]

    ……Erm……

    This time, Rufilia falls to her knees in despair.

    ……Seriously? What happened to being hard to get?



    Right now, I was ignoring Rufilia who was sobbing away in the corner.

    [It’s not fair…! This one worked so hard for this one’s one legendary equipment, yet you easily got two after only 4 hours…! *Sniffles*]

    How noisy. It’s just another piece of Legendary gear, what is there to be upset about?

    ——————————————————————

    Dual Elemental Clawed Gauntlets (Legendary Armament)

    Left hand: Midday Gauntlet, Amaterasu

    • Blessing of the Sun Goddess (Passive): Left claw deals fire and holy damage with each strike.
    • Claw of Antares (Passive): By injecting mana, fire off mana blades of fire and holy element.
    • Sacred Flare (Passive): Chance to set target on fire.
    • Unbreakable
    Right hand: Midnight Gauntlet,Tsukuyomi

    • Blessing of the Moon Goddess (Passive): Right claw deals water and darkness damage with each strike.
    • Claw of Polaris (Passive): By injecting mana, a mana grappling hook grabs the target, pulling you to them or them to you.
    • Gloomy Frost (Passive): Chance to freeze the target.
    • Unbreakable
    ——————————————————————

    I know that any hard-core gamer out there would probably be cussing at me for not properly appreciating this, but I don't really think these are any special. Injecting mana? Darkness damage? How am I going to utilize them properly if I've never had much experience with moving my mana to begin with?

    Also, to get another piece of Legendary item so easily, what happened to being nearly impossible to get? Is this the main character correction?

    I’ve thought about this before, but I’m really a cheat, aren’t I. Like that, it’s understandable for someone like Rufilia, who has worked on improving her gear constantly, to feel jealous about that. Well, gomen’ nasai. It’s not my fault.

    5 minutes later, in the Library’s training arena…

    |Melt the flesh and char the bones! Incinerate!|

    |Pierce, Holy Thunder Spear! Gungnir!|

    |Purify, divine light! Dispel!|

    Ahh….she snapped. Why are you casting Dispel on me, though? Doesn’t that only affect demonic or undead beings?

    Each of those spells carried enough power to be worthy of the category of Master magic, but with my insane mental defences, I barely felt anything. It doesn’t hurt me more than Garok’s (Chapter 5) trump card, Flame Arrow did…Let’s test something out. She's charging up for a big spell, anyway.

    |Freeze everything in your path! Icelight!|

    |Burn, crimson flames. Flame Arrow.|

    Rank 1 Fire Elemental Magic, Flame Arrow. It was the weakest of all magic, compared to the Rank 7 Icelight from the Frost Elemental Magic. By all means, the frost should have overcome the flames, yet the two struck each other head on…and dispelled each other.

    [That’s impossible?! For a measly rank 1 to have dispelled my rank 7 magic…You cheat existence!!!|Burn, undying flame! Devour everything in your path! Hellfire!|]

    With a gentle swat of my hand, the purple flare was knocked aside. This girl…she was really trying to kill me, wasn’t she? So she is the type that lets their emotions get to their head? What a disappointing beauty.

    [DIEEEEEEEEE!]

    And so, the afternoon passed with Rufilia trying to kill me with her entire arsenal.
    Today, I was subjected to an hour of lecturing regarding the exact details of my job, how I should be expected to behave while on duty, how I would be able to utilize the faculties available in the Library…Midway, I fell asleep, and was awoken with a fist to the face.

    [Did you actually remember a single thing this one said?]

    The girl who had taken care of the Library for over 300 centuries was glaring at me.

    “Um. Nope. Do you mind telling it to me again?”

    [Haaah….]

    I was given another hour-long lecture, this time under extreme surveillance of the girl to ensure that I was not dozing off in any way. Well, the results of that explanation was:
    • Guard the Library treasures and repel invaders.
    • The remaining time is up to you to spend.
    [That’s it?! This one told you much more things than that!]

    “It’s fineeee~ You can always tell me again later, especially since I’ll probably forget it in the next few seconds, anyway.”

    Rufilia sighs.

    [This one is convinced that letting you here was a mistake…even more so now…]

    “Hm. So, my job was to guard this place, right? Against who, again?”

    *Wham*

    The girl projected a transparent mallet, and smashed me into the wall with it. Surprisingly, there was no feeling where the pain should have been.

    [Dammit…Legendary Races and their overpowered physical stats…]



    Rufilia seems to have created an alert system to warn of incoming invaders. Apparently, one shows up every other week, on Friday morning.

    “Did they agree to a pre-scheduled timetable?”

    [That isn’t it. The entrance to the Library is only open every Friday morning, and no more than one group can enter at once. There is also only one entrance, so no more than one world can be connected to the invasion gate at any one time.]

    “One group? Isn’t that way too little people to invade this place? Do they have exceptionally strong equipment to be able to get here in a small group?”

    [There isn’t technically an upper limit to the group size. Your job is to hunt down every one of them.]

    “So, advantage in numbers and human wave tactics, huh? How annoying…so the frontrunners are usually cannon fodder, correct?”

    [Yes. The next group shall arrive in about 35 hours, so you have about 30 hours of free time before that.]

    “And why exactly is there an entrance for invasion? Couldn’t you have blown up or sealed the entrance to prevent the invasion from occurring?”

    [Well…that worked in the past, when the Library was still in a hibernating status due to the absence of the Librarian, but now…uh…]

    My eyes narrowed.

    [Um…that’s it! Yeah, because not having reactivated the entrance after the Librarian shows up would cause a paradox in the time–space continuum and create a massive explosion capable to removing every trace of creation and…uh…]

    “Your eyes are swimming, you know?”

    She reactivated the door precisely just to screw with me, didn’t she?

    [Shut up! Ahem! Anyways, your job is to just kill off all the nuisances that approach here. At other times, you’ll be free to do as you like.]

    I guess I’ll let her off for now.

    “Noted. Now, you did mention that books in this library can be…experienced? How does that work exactly?”

    [In short, you can pick to enter the plot of the story as either one of the characters, or as a completely new character. Rewards will be given for meeting the objectives of the original story, or for changing the story’s plot by your own actions.]

    Oho? That is a really interesting concept, if it works the way I think it does.

    “Does it work for any story? Are there any penalties in particular?”

    [Well, yes, it works for any story. The time flows at a different speed inside story worlds compared to here, at approximately 1/2 the speed of normal time. You can also leave story worlds of your own violation, and the time flows shall be halted until you visit those again, so don’t worry too much about that, too. In fact, there's pretty much nothing to worry about...except the fact that you can die in the story world, too, so you have to be careful. Extremely careful.]

    Rufi drew herself up to her full height, standing ramrod straight and placing her hands at her hips, as she wore an extremely stern expression.

    [If you die in the story, you die in real life.]


    *Wham*

    [Ow! What was that for?!]


    "Did you think this was some sort of messed up MMORPG? Why would I even read any of those if I could die inside them?"

    She stiffens.

    [Uh...um...you get some really good rewards, particularly if you manage to discover the secret in each story.]

    Potential rewards versus possibility of dying. Great. This is the kind of situation where 99 of 100 people would turn away from it, for goodness sake.

    But I'm part of that 1%. If I'm going to die one day, might as well go out knowing that I've tried.


    “I’ll go attempt a story since I have nothing better to do, I guess. Say, Rufi, pick me a good story.”

    [Rufi?! This one thinks that your treatment of this one is getting worse over time…*Sniffles*…Ok, this one shall pick an easier one for you…]

    [Nightmare Mode – ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (Role: Wolf) Objective: Don’t die]

    …Nightmare mode…This girl...she really hates me a lot, doesn’t she? Even if I have these overpowered equips and technically should not die, there's still a margin of error, especially with that high a difficulty level, you know.
    Arc 2: Paradoxical Library
    Side Story: Paradoxical Library
    Arc 3: Paradoxical Library
    Arc 4: Paradoxical Library
    Arc 5: Paradoxical Library
    Author's Note: This is my first writing project, so any feedback/tips are extremely appreciated! I have no clue whether the length of each individual chapter is too short or not, but generally, it's 1000~ words per chapter. May include some references that are slightly obscure.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017 at 11:04 AM
    77up and Trent like this.
  2. craz

    craz LazyGhost

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    Sounds very interesting, will be watching the thread. However, where is chapter 1?

    Edit: I love lazy MC
     
  3. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Arc 2---The First
    When I regained my senses again, I was standing in the middle of a pile of bones. Gee, thanks a lot, Rufi.

    It stinks of old blood and corpses in here. Doesn't the previous owner know anything about house cleaning? Well, to be fair, you can hardly expect a regular wolf to be capable of sweeping the house - thinking like that, I am quite the irregular, huh?

    Now that I think about it, Rufilia said something about replacing a character, didn't she. So...the original Wolf was living in here until just a few moments here, huh. I feel slightly guilty about forcefully taking over it's role.

    Rest in peace, Wolf.

    That guilty feeling persisted until I happened to open this crudely-made chest, and then......what the heck is this.

    Why are there crude drawings of what I can only assume to be the Wolf and a little girl wearing a red hood? Why are they kissing? Who doodled the entire bottom page with heart shapes? Why the hell is there a line that says 'Wolf x Red' below the drawings?


    ...What manner of creature has been living here until I came along?

    After intensive searching, I have discovered:
    • 3 pieces of fabric that appear to have been from a little girl's clothes
    • 1 hair ribbon
    • 2 wicker baskets
    • 1 complete red hood
    • Ropes
    • Herbal mix that makes people unconscious upon smelling
    • Wilted flower bouquets
    • One local map with a red cross marked out, labelled 'Red'
    ...What in the world was this previous owner even thinking about. Even any one of these items would have been enough to get you arrested as a paedophile you know?

    Suddenly, I don't feel guilty anymore. Rather, I think I deserve a reward for protecting the chastity of all young girls out there. Hm~ Maybe I'll get a reward from this? *Sniff*

    In the Library, where Rufilia is observing, left hand on her forehead.

    [...What is that idiot doing now?]

    Back to the MC POV

    ...I had to burn it. It smelled so good, too...

    And before you ask, I was talking about the herbal concoction, not the clothes, you perverts. I don't find particular joy in sniffing the clothes belonging to other people (although I don't mind either), so, wipe that grin off your faces.

    Now, what to do~? There is a very high possibility that the previous Wolf was a lolicon, so I'll avoid walking on the same path as it. Guess I'll go check on the little red hood for now, before I decide on my next course of action.

    Hmm, if she is cute enough, should I try to eat her?

    ...

    Apparently, Rufi sent me over here some time before the start of the story's events, because when I reached Little Red Riding Hood's house, I heard a middle-aged lady saying:" Now, remember to always stay on the path, and never leave it, ok?" Followed by a:" Yes, mummy~"

    By the way, regarding why this place seems rather peaceful and not in [Nightmare Mode]? That was because the difficulty was set with reference to the average human. Walking through the forest the same way I did would have required a human army of 100,000 or a detailed understanding of the terrain---monsters in the forest avoided one particular path.

    And as to how I found that out? Well, let's just say I wandered off the path by accident, and nearly ran face first into a monster, which chased me until I got back on the path. Jeez, that was a horrible experience. As I was reminiscing, the cottage door flew open.

    Not good, she was exactly in the middle of my strike zone...Just kidding. I don't have that kind of hobbies. Rather, I just wanted to try saying that aloud. Relatively on the shorter side, she had curled blonde hair, sky blue eyes which sparkled with curiosity but also determination, as well as a wicker basket on her left arm. Everything else was covered by her namesake, a little crimson hood.

    By the way, I'm actually watching her from more than 1 kilometre away. Enhanced Senses and Stealth sure came in handy when I'm testing them out...Although, these two skills are disturbingly good for stalking people. Combine that with the fact that I was atop a tall tree, and you can pretty much get an accurate image of a stalker.

    I watched as she skipped cheerfully on the main path, stopping by to greet the other town citizens every now and then. A muscular middle-aged man returned her smile, before handing her a piece of freshly baked bread---The smell of the bread even reached me who was so far away.

    Wait. Something isn't right. Why are there traces of pity and guilt in the middle-aged uncle's eyes when he smiled back at her? I mused as she wandered into the forest, humming a little song:" Lalalalalalala~ visiting granny's home, lalalalalalala~ bringing her this mysterious tome~"

    What? I don't recall the original Little Red Riding Hood ever bringing her granny a book. Is this a side effect of Nightmare mode? Looks like I have to keep a closer eye on h---

    "Uwahhhhhh! Mummy, help!"

    What the - ! Wasn't the main path safe? |Teleport!|

    "Go away! Monsters!"

    I took a few seconds to run through the choices available to me. I could technically run out there and fight those monsters, allowing her to get away. After all, with my stats, I should be able to handle those monsters with ease.

    Or I could sit here and watch her get eaten. Since I can die inside these worlds, it's not exactly wise to run out there and expose myself. I mean, logically speaking, this feels like a carefully planned out assault. Otherwise, there's no way this would have happened on the main path. Foolishly attempting a rescue could get me killed off too, and I don't plan on dying in such a stupid way.


    ...I say that, but there's only one correct choice, isn't there? I heft the left gauntlet, aimed it, and attempted to channel my mana through.

    For the first time, it worked, and a swift red claw struck the closest monster, causing it to explode into a fountain of blood. The other monsters, as a result, all turned to face me. Dammit. I didn't need the aggro.

    Fine. I've learnt some martial arts when I was younger, and with these two gauntlets, I doubt I can lose. It's the first fight I've been in since my teenage years, so I might as well get used to the rhythm of a fight, right?
    [You have levelled up.]

    Somehow, I really didn’t feel happy when I heard that, despite my stats increasing. The reason was the girl that was sleeping in front of me.

    The [Storm Fenrir] Race. One of the oldest ancestors of the wolf species, with the ability to detect its kin, as long as they are within a certain range...or so it says.

    In other words, I am supposedly able to detect wolves from their unique magic signature. And the girl sleeping here was reacting to my [Patron of Wolves], albeit faintly. Which also means, she’s partially a wolf...right?

    And from the mana signature that was radiating from her…A Rare-tier class, the Werewolf, huh.

    Once a being passes a certain threshold, certain laws no longer apply to them. For a creature of the Rare race, they can directly produce their offspring by condensing their mana into a solid form, an “egg”. Although, they can still choose to do so via natural means if they feel like it.

    An offspring born from an egg should take after their parent’s appearance. But this girl has practically no lupine features at all. Her canines are sharper than most, but that’s already stretching it. Which means – she was created via natural means, and her looks took after her mother’s, then.

    Not that I am in a position to judge, supposedly being a Storm Fenrir yet looking completely like a human.


    So her father was the Werewolf that used to inhabit this cave—who was her mother then? And no matter how I see it, somebody was behind that attack. I've felt the protection spell woven on the main path fluctuate and vanish the moment the little Red Hood stepped out of the village.

    Which brings up the second issue: the monsters that attacked her all had lupine features, but I didn’t get a reaction from any of them from my Enhanced Senses. I had my suspicions, and the Library’s Encyclopaedia confirmed it.

    Monster: Puppet Wolf
    • Created from the raw materials of real wolves, via necromancy.
    • Moves sluggishly compared to their living counterparts, but can shrug off more attacks that would have instantly killed a normal wolf.
    • As long as the core remains, the monster will rebuild itself.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tell me that kind of thing sooner, Encyclopaedia. I got surprised when one of them, which I had decapitated, rose back up and struck at me again. That had been truly horrifying. I honestly had thought I was dead there, but apparently my Def value wasn't there for show.

    Still, necromancy…someone is creating those things and controlling them, huh. Rufilia told me that story worlds gave out rewards as long as I could discover the secret behind each world.

    Right now, I honestly wanted to slap her. At least the Scenario dungeon gave a hint about what the Hidden Objective is. This doesn't even provide anything close to a hint! I mean, if we went by the original Little Red Riding Hood, the moral of the story would be to not follow strangers, and the villain of the story is the Wolf, which happens to be me! I'm not going to kill myself in the hopes of finding out the secret, you know?!

    I give up. I need to pause this, go back to the Library, and grill Rufi for answers. |Pause.|

    [Due to it being the first story world, Host cannot pause the story experience and return.]

    Are you f***ing kidding me?

    Screw it, I'll just deal with things as they happen, then. I somehow managed to lift the sleeping girl, and with the help of my Space Magic, returned to the cave I originally appeared in.

    Akane’s POV

    I woke up to the smell of cheese and toasted bread. Before me was the lady I had seen earlier, her back facing me as she held a stick of bread over a roaring fire. Without turning around, she asked.

    “…You awake?”

    If I remembered correctly, this was the lady that had rescued me from all the monsters. She also seems quite strong, despite her slender form, but was she really alright after fighting off all of those monsters?

    I could not help getting up to order to take a closer look; Pain lanced through my forehead, and before I know it, she was at my side, supporting me. I glanced up at her features, which were gently illuminated by the firelight.

    She looked no older than 18 years of age, but her expression and aura gave off the feeling of maturity—something told me she was closer to adulthood than the usual 18 year old. But…why was she glancing at me with a complicated expression?

    MC’s POV

    This girl doesn’t know that she was sent as an offering, did she?

    I inadvertently frown. I could use someone like her for a companion, but it remains to be seen whether I could bring her out of the story world with me, and besides, I’m not sure how she would react to that particular news, given that she was betrayed by her own mother. If she goes off the edge with that, I might as well kill her off now – I can’t afford to lug a burden around.


    I’m not a saint. I’ll help if I am in the mood to do so, but I never engage in pointless activity, and I’m certainly not going to take charge of a broken kid.

    Well, I’ll wait until she’s had something to fill her stomach at least…can’t have anyone say I didn’t give her a fighting chance.

    Akane’s POV

    The lady gave me a plate of cheese and toast, despite me not having mentioned anything about being hungry.

    She is unexpectedly kind, isn’t she? Although, she had a scary look in her eyes just now.

    “Eat up. Then I’ll tell you something.”

    Un! I nod. Then I busied myself with stuffing my cheeks with food. Meanwhile, the lady got up, and walked to the mouth of the cave. Her ears twitched slightly.

    *BOOOOOM!*

    I choked on my food. Spitting everything out, I ran towards the lady, despite having the urge to hide deeper within the cave—My instincts told me that the safest spot would be by her side.

    Subconsciously, I trembled.

    What had exploded?

    MC’s POV

    The town was in chaos. From my position, I could make out the dark shapes that were rampaging about the town, nearly 3 kilometres away in the darkness. Night Vision helped, but the fires also did.

    The girl ran out to join me, despite having heard the explosions. Mhm, a brave kid. More braver than I had been when I was that age.

    “What’s happening, Lady?”

    Still, bravery isn't going to be enough. It isn't nearly enough for survival nowadays. I have my own life to consider, so I'll have to...test...her slightly.

    “The town is under attack. The residents are being killed one by one.”

    She visibly stiffens. I was right, she never had any experience regarding death before, huh? I took the opportunity to land another strike.

    “Your Grandmother is personally leading the attack, you know?”
    Akane’s POV

    I don’t know how I got here.

    After the lady told me that, I had ran off, tears running down my cheeks.

    No way. That couldn’t have been true. My grandmother would never treat others with violence, nor would she kill anyone! Mummy told me that!

    Somehow, I managed to reach the town whilst running blindly. People were lying on the streets, not responding, no matter how much I shook them. They aren’t dead, just sleeping, that’s all!

    I’m not sure even I believed my own words. Then, I saw a familiar woman, stuck under a piece of rubble. Mummy!

    She looked up, hearing my footsteps race across the path, her expression changing from bewilderment, to shock, then to hate and despair.

    “Why are you still alive? Filthy half-blood!”

    M-Mummy…?

    “Why didn’t you die in the forest? This all you fault!”

    Mummy……

    “GO AWAY! I regret ever giving birth to you, filthy monster!”

    I took a step back, then another, then I turned around and ran away as fast as possible, tears spilling out of my eyes.

    “What do we have here? A natural born Werewolf?”

    A guttural voice rasped. Out of nowhere, a hooded figure appeared, blocking my path. Who is it?

    “My, did your mother not tell you about me? Come here, my darling granddaughter. Let your old Grandmother see you more clearly.”

    N-no! I was frozen on the spot, helplessly watch her advance, step by step, the scythe in her right hand gleaming cruelly amidst the harsh glare of the burning town.

    “Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to make this as painless as possible.”

    Unable to take it any further, I screamed loudly for my mother, knowing that she would never come to my assistance. An image formed in my mind, showing an elegant lady who had hair of uncommon black colour, and unusually clear green eyes. Then I blacked out again.

    Before my hearing completely shut off, I could hear a voice saying:” Well, you passed the test”, and a vicious, yet familiar aura surrounded me once more.

    I might have imagined it, but the same voice continued in an exasperated tone:” Goodness, I’m barely old enough to qualify as a mother, though.”



    Well, she didn’t go insane, so that counts as a pass, I guess. In that fact, I should probably rescue her – again.

    So, the culprit is the wrinkly granny standing before me? Seeing me appear, the granny was briefly taken aback, but she recovered and brandished her scythe before her menacingly.

    “I have no interest in you. Stand aside and hand over the Werewolf, and I may let you live.”

    "Sorry, I have no intention of letting anyone else take what I have an interest in, even if they are grannies."

    “I-Impertinence! How dare you call me a granny! I’m an all-powerful witch!”

    "But you are still old, aren’t you? Hence, a granny."

    “ARGH! How dare you mock me! |Vicious Lightning, strike my enemies! Greater Thunderbolt!|”

    A thunderbolt struck me directly, sending smoke up into the surroundings. I didn't have any opportunity to block, so I closed my eyes, awaiting my second death.

    The surroundings were silent. There was none of the pain I expected that came from getting struck by lightning, so I silently took a peek. Visually, I took no damage at all. Rather, that bolt seemed to have refilled my mana pool slightly.


    [Answer: Due to the inherently high affinity to lightning held by Storm Fenrirs, lightning of any type recharges them rather than damaging them.]

    Oh. As expected, I cheated my way past that, again. Time to settle things with the ancient relic.

    “Hahaha! This is what happens when you stand in my wa——Geh?!”

    Oh. I had initially wanted to get her in an wrestling hold, but that strike pushed her further than I expected. Judging from the mouthful of blood she spewed, that strike was a lot stronger than I thought.

    The granny got to her feet, realising that I was unharmed.


    “Impossible! How could Advanced Lightning Magic not have burnt you to a pile of ashes?!”

    Still, that probably wasn't her strongest spell. No one would tip their hand immediately when fighting an unknown enemy.

    The old hag retreated while I was pondering that, the light in her eyes betraying her fear. Oh my, somehow I already classified her as an old hag, huh? Well, no matter.

    “In that case, take this! |Demon Patron of Witches, I offer you my soul in exchange for your summoning! Answer my summons, Baphomet!|”

    Yep, I called it. This was her trump card, huh. A demon god. In that case, I probably am going to get captured, killed, and have my soul tortured for 100 years.

    A black portal opened, and a goat-headed demon jumped out, in all of it’s…glory?

    Yuck. Goat-headed human-bodied mutants never mixed well with my tastes. I mean, a black winged horned goat with the body of a humanoid? Really? Did he have some kind of stroke while he was constructing his material form?

    “Why have you summoned me, puny mortal?”

    As expected from an immortal, he has uselessly excessive pride. Still, he doesn’t seem too strong…

    “Lord Baphomet! This lowly servant of yours has called on you to deliver a sacrifice!”

    The old hag pointed at me. There was no way out of that situation any more, so I sat down calmly, and put on what I hoped was a serene expression.

    “Hmm…a sacrifice. Very well. I shall not charge you for the summoning cost, so be grateful that your life was spared. As for you…”

    Turning around, it saw me, froze, shut its mouth, and prostrated on the floor.

    “Apologies, Lady Belphegor! This lowly one did not know you were here!”

    Wait, what? Who is he calling a Lady?

    That brief confusion caused me to frown, and I saw Baphomet turn paler, trembling strongly.

    I still don't get it. Why did he call me Lady...Ah. I see now.

    What did my skill say?

    "Projects an aura that identifies you as 'Belphegor'."


    Jeez. Once again, it seems like I've somehow cheated my way out of death. My odds have to be getting shorter. Still, this situation won't resolve itself until I say something, so...

    “Hm. Since I’m a generous person, I will ignore this oversight. Now leave, and take the riff-raff with you.”

    “Understood! This lowly one will return immediately! Old hag, you are coming with me!”

    Baphomet dragged the screaming granny into the portal with him, and they both vanished. At the same time, the monsters that were rampaging in the town, having lost their supply of energy, crumbled into pieces.

    I looked around. The town was pretty much thrashed, and dead bodies were strewn everywhere. I looked at Akane, who was lying at my feet, unconscious. A sigh leaked from my mouth.

    Well, I wonder what’s for dinner?
    [Nightmare Mode ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ has been completed.]

    [As a reward for finishing this story for the first time, extra rewards will be given. You have received the following: 200 mana crystals, 1 Skill Point, Unidentified Scythe x1, Unidentified Robes x1, Flare Magic Manual (Apprentice), Shadow Magic Manual (Apprentice). Due to the Nightmare Difficulty multiplier, an additional 200 mana crystals and 1 Skill Point is rewarded. Due to the outcome of the story, you have been given the title《Stalker》and 《Ruler》. You are now being teleported back to the Library.]

    The minute I teleported back to the Library, I saw Rufilia standing before me, a grin plastered on her face.

    [This one wishes to congratula—Ow! This one requests that you do not pull this one’s ears! Ow! Stop poking this one!]

    How noisy. We are just going to have a heart-to-heart talk in this room here, so be quiet already.

    [If that’s the case, why are your eyes filled with killing intent?! We can talk about thi—No, d-don’t pull this one by my ears! Uwah—Nooooooooo!]







    Mhm, that was satisfactory. I managed to relive quite a large portion of my stress. Rufilia, on the other hand…

    [*Sniffle* This one can never get married now…*Sob*]

    Cheer up already. You are stressing me out, and you know how I vent my stress. Moreover, you aren’t even a living thing, so what’s the issue whether you get married or not?

    [It’s very important! Even if this one is not a living creature, this one is still a girl! Getting married is a girl’s dream!]

    Even if you say so…some things that are lost cannot be regained, you know? There aren’t any guys here for you to marry, and even if you find a guy you like, I might not approve.

    [Why is it your business whether this one can date someone or not?! You’re not this one’s mother!]

    Indeed, I’m not. But as you said so before, you are the embodiment of the Library, and I’m the Librarian. Which means, everything regarding the Library is part of my business. Which also means, you are part of my business.

    [That is……]

    Also, I wouldn’t want a disappointing daughter like you~

    [E-e-e-e-eh?! That’s really mean!]

    Alright now, tell me about these mana crystals, Skill Points, and Soul things. How do I use them?

    [You changed the subject way too quickly?!]

    It sure feels good to home~

    [Are you even listening?!]
    —————————————————————————————————————————————–
    《Stalker》(Rare)


    • Improves the owner’s affinity with the Shadows.
    • Lowers your presence, makes you harder to detect.
    • Large boost to Atk when using the Shadows to attack.
    《Ruler》(Rare)

    • Creates an aura of intimidation which can be withdrawn at will. If an aura is already existing, adds to the effects of said aura.
    • Your presence alone becomes more glorious and dignified; people tend to mistake you for nobility very frequently.
    • In a clash between elemental forces, if your element is inherently superior to the other’s, your attack will nullify his, then strike him with 200% power.
    —————————————————————————————————————————————–
    Again, these effects sound fine and dandy and all, but how the heck do I even utilize them? What the heck does 'clash between elemental forces' even mean?



    [Mana crystals are a form of exclusive currency—you can choose to buy treasures from the Library’s Hoard, but they can also be used in Story Mode, Scenario, and even in trades with the spirits that linger around outside the Library. As their name suggests, they are essentially a condensed, purified lumps of mana.]

    Condensed, then purified? Hmm...I tried to circulate my mana and concentrate it, condensing it into a solid form.

    "Hey, does this count as a mana crystal too, then?"


    [Where did you even…Wait. You didn’t form that out of your own mana, did you…]

    Heh. You could tell? I even took efforts to make sure that it appeared and felt the same as other mana crystals.

    [Of course this one could tell! How long did you think this one has been running this place for?!]

    Now that I think about it, Rufi did say she had existed here since about 30,000 years ago…A 30,000 year old with the appearance of a bishoujo…A loli-baba.

    [Stop saying that this one is old! This body was only created 4 days ago so this one is technically a newborn, okay! Instead of being old, this one prefers to be called mature! Moving on! The mana crystal that you created, while being of much higher value compared to one of these regular ones, is not useable here, since it would break the current market pricing…and this one doesn’t feel like recalibrating all the prices…again…]

    "Somehow, I think I heard your inner voice just now."

    [T-t-take no notice of that. Anyways, *cough* you found some unidentified items, right? Those can be identified with a small fee of 20 mana crystals, but this one personally doesn’t recommend that. After all, there is no knowing what kind of item you end up getting, so in the worst case scenario (which happens a lot), you can end up with trash items.]

    Ok…I guess I’ll try it out later.

    [Next, as for the Skill Points, they can directly advance one of your skills by one level, which makes them really useful especially when you reach the higher levels of a specific type of magic. When used on a Max Level skill, the skill can tier up into a stronger form.]

    Hmmm. Should I stick a Skill Point to my EX skill later?

    [Regarding manuals, as their name suggests, they directly provide the user with the knowledge of using specific magics, which can be a time saver, but they also possess an advantage over conventional magic learning, in that two magic manuals can be combined to create a stronger version.]

    You somewhat lost me there, Rufi. Speak human language, please.

    [Unnn……think of it this way. If you want to learn an Advanced Magic, you have to master the Apprentice and Beginner versions of the constituent elements. For example, to learn Hellfire Magic (Advanced), you need to have reached rank 10 on both Blaze Magic (Apprentice) and Death Magic (Apprentice), which would further require you to have reached rank 10 on Fire Magic (Beginner) and Black Magic (Beginner). And reaching rank 10 on any magic can usually take up to 10 years for any living being, so how long do you think it will take for someone to achieve an Advanced Magic via normal means? This is why short-lived creatures like humans proclaim Advanced Magic as “miracles” since they have never experienced any Master or Grandmaster tier magics.]

    Wow. So manuals are also a kind of cheat on their own, huh?

    [Finally...Mika. This one thinks that this one already knows the answer, but this one wants you to tell it to this one personally. Why on earth did you bring that girl here with you?]

    "Do I really have to tell you?"

    [Yes.]

    "Well...I had nothing better to do, so why not? I mean, I didn't put my life in danger for no particular reason."


    Rufi was slowly backing away from me, unease in her eyes, before she turned her gaze elsewhere.

    [Like this one had originally thought...You truly don't regard human lives as something important, do you? Each human, no matter what they have done with their lives, no matter whether they have committed good or evil...none of those matter to you. You don't believe in there being any point or goal in life. In fact, the concept of living and dying doesn't really seem to bother you. You...you're what they call a nihilist, aren't you?]


    *Gentle Snore*

    [Hey! Are you sleeping again?! Wake up!]
    After Rufilia had forcefully awoken me via a fist in the face, I decided to wake up. Hm…I spent about 1.5 days inside the story dimension, which translates to roughly 18 hours here. I messed around with Rufi for about 2 hours straight after that, then she lectured me for 1 hour in return, so that's about…23 hours in total? Yep, my math is amazing.

    [This one is too tired to even comment anymore…]

    Alright, let’s update my status! I added 1 Skill Point to my EX Skill, Ruler of Sloth. And…uh…this resulting skill…is kind of weird.

    ——————————————————————

    Nihilistic Empress, Belphegor (Unique Skill)

    • Patron of the Lazy (Passive): EXP is gained at 100x the normal rate.
    • Efficient, or Slacker? Or both? (Passive): Gain Max Mastery of Space Magic (Master) and Max Mastery of Time Magic (Master).
    • The Sleepy Elder (Passive): Gains a permanent stat boost more than proportionate to the amount of time spent sleeping.
    • Harvest from the Void (Active): Earns a randomly chosen treasure from the stash of Void. Cooldown time: 10 days.
    • Eyes of the Abyss (Passive): Whoever holds eye contact with you directly will be disorientated, but also fascinated, and they slowly lose their motivation to live. As the saying goes, When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you. People can be excluded from being affected by these effects.
    • Domain of Nihility (Passive): A circular area around you is constantly under the effects of your domain, making everyone inside it are influenced by nihilistic thoughts. Domain expands in size as you grow stronger. Domain cannot be shut off, but you can exclude people from it’s effects.
    • Grants the Title《The Lazy One》(Hidden): Projects a demonic aura that is detectable by beings of both the holy and demonic alignments. Identifies you as “Belphegor”.
    ——————————————————————
    This skill has really grown to become extremely dangerous. Domain of Nihility...If it works the way I'm thinking it does, any person that's around me would start believing that living is pointless...Even worse, people that make eye contact with me are also subjected to this kind of effect?

    What am I going to do when I go shopping in future? Close my eyes and hope I don't walk straight into lamp posts? Hah! I'm not a certain white spider goddess, you know.


    I’m not sure that this is even at the point of being overpowered any more…It’s more like I can bring around Ragnarok if I wished for it…

    Conclusion: Let’s ignore that and get the other things done first. Now, I believe [Identify] was next on the list.

    [Do you wish to identify Unidentified Scythe and Unidentified Robes for 20 mana crystals?]

    Yes. Since I have extra, might as well, right? Rufilia blatantly stares at me from the couch she was sitting on.

    [You do realise that a single mana crystal is valuable enough for countries to start wars over…and you casually spend 20 because you happened to have ‘extra’…How many mana crystals do you even have?]

    Hm. Around 500 or so? I didn’t bother counting the spare change.

    [What the……………..Even with this one’s efforts, this one only has a personal stash of 47,936 mana crystals after 30,000 years…Speaking to you makes this one feel tired—]

    [Identification complete. You have obtained Dusklight Robes (Shoulder Equip • Epic) and Arc of Annihilation (Armament • Epic)]

    Hm? It got really quiet all of a sudden. Rufi?

    Rufilia was frozen in a rigid sitting position on her couch, mouth hanging wide open. For some reason, she’s been doing that often the past few days.

    *Pokes* There is no reaction. It is just a corpse. Maybe I should run an antivirus app on her mainframe? She is technically an A.I. after all.

    [Rufilia.EXE has rebooted. Starting up…]

    [WHAT THE HELL?! WHAT KIND OF LUCK STAT DO YOU HAVE?! THE CHANCES OF IDENTIFYING AN EPIC IS NOT EVEN 0.01%! AND YOU MANAGED TO GET 2 EPICS FROM YOUR FIRST 2 UNIDENTIFIED ITEMS?! WHAT HAS THIS ONE BEEN DOING FOR THE PAST 30,000 YEARS IF YOU ARE GOING TO REPLICATE ALL OF THIS ONE’S EFFORTS IN A SPAN OF LESS THAN 1 YEAR?! Haah……haah……]

    And then she starts sobbing broken-heartedly. How do I put this; It feels kind of like its my fault? I should probably pat her head or something.

    [*Sobbing* This one doesn’t need your pity…Leave this one alone…]

    Ok then! Let’s smile and move on!

    [You could have at least pretended to care! You heartless lone wolf!]

    Ohohoho. I am a what now? Looks like we need another ‘talk’...

    I drag the screaming Rufilia off into another room.

    [H-Hellllllllp! Save me!]

    ??? POV

    Its dark in here. I’m scared. I can’t see anything around me.

    There are scenes being played repeatedly before me. A woman screaming at me, her face contorted in hate. A bunch of white flowers wrapped in paper. An old grandma holding a massive scythe. A black goat-headed demon with a red pentagram on its chest. A piece of red clothing. A lady wearing a weird outfit, dual wielding massive gauntlets that glowed, one crimson red, and one azure blue. And finally, standing behind the same lady, a shadowy humanoid being that gave off the presence of a primordial evil.

    Who are these people? Why was I being shown pictures of them?

    More importantly, who am I?

    MC’s POV

    Well, we wasted another hour. I’m blaming Rufilia. I need about 7 hours of sleep, so I’ve only got about 2 hours of free time left. As for Akane…Hmm...now that I've brought her here, she'll naturally witness the first invasion into the Library.

    After I've gotten so many of these skills, I'm fairly confident to be able to fight off an invasion without dying, but for Akane, it's a different scenario entirely. She doesn't have weapon nor armour, and I highly doubt her mother has taught her combat.


    Hm. I already have my Legendary-ranked gauntlets, so I guess I’ll give her the Epic-ranked Scythe? While I’m at that, she could probably use that Epic-ranked Robe, too. That will solve the issue with melee combat and armour but…she needs a method of ranged combat too. It’s much safer for an inexperienced fighter to rely on long ranged magic for their first battle. Maybe I should combine the Flare and Shadow magic manuals I got to create an Advanced-ranked magic……

    ……Hold on. When was the last time I was ever concerned with somebody else? Am I feeling concern for this girl somehow? No, that’s ridiculous. She is merely a tool for me to use, simply a kid that has caught my attention, and nothing more.

    Still, if I don’t give her some good starting equipment, she will either die off immediately, or be too weak for me to use as a tool, so I suppose I’ll go find more some extra equipment. Looks like I’ll have to browse through the Library’s shop later.







    Alright, done. I went on an online shopping spree and got some emergency supplies. The shop offered me free sets of Librarian outfits, as well as the [Appraisal] Skill. The librarian outfits had better defence than my current outfit, as well as a minor Spd boost, so I equipped it. It’s a pity the outfits were exclusively for me, though. As for Akane, I bought her a full set of Magical Leather Armour, as well as a Mana Regeneration Ring. With these, she should be more or less alright, so let’s wake her up.

    We don't have enough time to waste. Every second from now on matters.


    ???’s POV

    After the scenes played out, everything returned to darkness.

    It wasn’t quiet though. I could hear phrases such as ‘filthy monster’ and ‘Werewolf child’ being endlessly repeated.

    Its really scary in here! I want to go home! *Cries*

    Time dragged on for what felt like eternity. I had lost count of the number of times I wished for it to end.

    Then a bright light appeared out of the darkness, and swallowed me up.
    Akane’s POV

    When I opened my eyes again, there was an unfamiliar ceiling above me.

    I was lying on a table, with my hands and legs tied to the table legs.

    Besides a robe, I had no other clothes on. In other words, I was practically naked.

    “Oh? Looks like somebody is awake.”

    I reflexively tilt my head to the left, allowing me to take a look at the speaker. Then—fear shot through me. Sitting right on the edge of the table, staring back at me, was the lady in my dreams.

    I recognise her. That was not a good thing. I knew this lady both from my own memories and from the visions I received while I was in the darkness. (In case it wasn’t obvious enough, that was Akane in the previous chapter.)

    The two sources of information, the visions and my eyes, gave me two completely different impressions. When I had spent time with this lady before, she had appeared to be somewhat distant, but kind.

    My visions, on the other hand, told me that she was anything but. She had worn a very creepy expression when I saw her in my visions—it was as if she was standing atop the apex of the world, viewing all the mortals below her as useless trash. It was as if she did not care about the weight of human lives at all, which greatly contrasted from the lady who had rescued me and fed me. That frustrated me—I didn’t know if her real nature was the one who saved me the bread, or the one who was extremely cold, and brutal.

    While I was distracted, thinking about my visions, she entered my sight, and grinned, revealing her rows of extremely sharp teeth. Two pairs of wolf ears extended from her hairline.

    She wasn't human either. But then, it'll make sense. If she wasn't human, it would be natural if she viewed human lives as worthless.

    “Hungry?”

    She handed me a plate of toasted bread and meat, and I could not help shivering. She knew.

    “Stop shivering and eat up already. I didn’t massacre anyone to get this meat, if that’s what you are worried about.”

    "But…I’m tied up right now…"

    “Oh? Yeah…I tied you up, didn’t I?”

    Why are you asking me when you are the person who did it?!

    “Can’t be helped. Open wide.”

    And she stuffed the entire plate’s contents into my mouth at one go. Honestly, she really had no sense of delicacy despite being a lady, did she.

    MC’s POV

    Ah, she is scared of me. I can see the wariness and vigilance in her eyes. Most likely, that was due to her receiving some kind of ‘vision’—Rufi had been extremely vague about it—that allowed her to glimpse at my true nature. Which means that she knows about my demonic aspect.

    Now that it’s come to that, I cannot allow her to leave this place easily. I have no intention of letting potential future issues from arising, since she knows that I’m a demon.

    Showing off my wolf ears were completely accidental, though. I was entertaining the thought of going into my Fenris form, and before I knew it, it already happened. Never mind. The increase in power by 50% would make my survival odds higher.


    Let’s ask her then, regarding whether or not she wishes to stay with me. At this point, if she says no, I’ll have no choice but to get rid of her—can’t afford to have a ticking time bomb on my hands.

    Therefore, I waited for her to finish eating, before getting closer, staring at her right in the eyes, and put on a cheery grin.

    Akane’s POV

    “Do you want to stay here, or…?”

    It came. The question which I had been dreading. If possible, I would like to return to my town, but…

    “I’m sensing a no, is that it?”

    The grin disappears from her face, and killing intent floods the room.

    “Nonono, that’s not it! I just wanted to return to my home!”

    The threatening atmosphere disappears, and the lady starts frowning. It doesn’t look like I was going to be killed, so I could properly breathe for the moment.

    “You…do know that practically the entire town was wiped out, right?”

    “…Yes. However, that place was still my birthplace after all.”

    “Your mother practically disowned you the last time you saw her.”

    “Un.”

    “The entire village sent you off as a sacrifice to that old hag.”

    “Yeah. I knew that much.”

    “You nearly died almost 3 times making that journey, and you saw the demon Baphomet up close and personal.”

    “That’s true.”

    “And you still insist on going back?”

    “Yes.”

    “Even if I allowed you to stay here? I won’t mind if you decide to live here from now, if that’s what you are worried about, you know. If you go back, there’s absolutely no way you are going to survive alone.”

    The lady seemed rather surprised, as if startled by the words that were coming out of her mouth.

    “Sorry, but…even if there’s nothing left for me there, I would still like to return…”

    The lady threw her hands up in dismay.

    “I cannot understand you. If you didn’t know about the fact that they sent you off as a sacrifice, or strongly felt that what I said was incorrect, I would understand your choice of wanting to go back. After all, that had been your home for the past 10 years. However, you’ve acknowledged what I said as the truth, so why are you so insistent on going back? I truly cannot understand you humans.”

    She lifted her hands and fired off 4 wind blades in succession, shearing through the ropes that had bound me.

    “Do what you want.” With that, she left the room.

    You say that, but I have no clue where this is in the first place, and I have no idea whatsoever on how I should get back.

    Although…looking at the lady’s retreating figure, that formidable presence, befitting of an fighter, was absent. Rather, she seemed to become small and frail, like a gentle gust of wind could blow her over with ease.

    She paused at the entrance of the room, hesitating, as if deciding whether or not to look around. However, it seemed that she had strengthened her resolve, for the aura of a fighter surged around her once more, and she left.


    Something warm and wet streaked down my cheeks—I only realised later that those had been tears. Without realising so, my lips had muttered the word: "Sorry."
    After I left the room, I had gone on a little stroll, feeling bummed out. It was that kind of feeling when you just rescued a stray cat and gave it a home, only to have it run away immediately.

    Hm? If that kind of thing had occurred before, I would have either killed the cat or eaten it for lunch…So why did I let the wolf pup go free this time? Mysterious.

    “This is why I dislike humans…They jumble up my perfectly fine thought processes.”

    [That is fine and all, but why are you hugging this one when you say that? Also, why did you randomly barge into this one’s room suddenly?]

    In response, I held up a bottle of sake.

    [You do realise that technically, this one is 4 days old, and you are perpentually 18, right? Neither of us are old enough to drink yet.]

    A little bit won’t hurt right~?

    [You already started drinking?! Uh, this one has urgent matters to take care of, so this one will be leaving fir——Mmmf?!]

    Hehe, if we’re going to hell, we're doing it together~

    [Uwahhh……now this one has absolutely no chance of getting married ever again…]

    She was also a bad drinker, eh? While she was slightly tipsy, I took the opportunity to poke her a couple of times. Not bad, but there’s room for growth.

    [Stop poking me in those places…Unnnn…]

    Woah. That sounded really arousing, and here I thought she was never the type to be able to make that kind of noise. I gently ticked her sides with a feather quill, causing her breaths to become fevered and uneven.

    *GonGonGon* went the door. We both froze, then sobered up rapidly. Rufilia, who had realised what was going on, screamed and promptly kicked me off the couch—right into the wall.

    I managed to dust myself off, and open the door. Outside stood Akane, her face slightly red.

    “Did I…interrupt something?”







    Kids these days really mature quickly, don’t they?

    We were walking along the corridors of the Library.

    It turned out that Akane had been looking for a way out by aimlessly walking about, which brought her to Rufilia’s room. Speaking of Rufilia, she had been in a state of shock after that incident, so I left her there.

    But still, carrying on like this is really awkward, huh? I should make some conversation.

    “You aren’t planning to go back while wearing that, right?”

    Silence. Oh well, so much for that attempt.

    There’s a feeling I can’t describe. Something that borders on relief and frustration at the same time. And I’m sure that Akane’s presence is the cause of it. Perhaps, deeper down, I’ve gotten used to her behaviour, even if half of the time we spent together was with her fainting due to external factors.

    Gah, screw it. I’ve not needed companionship for the past few decades I’ve been alive, and I certainly don’t see the need to now. Friends, colleagues, teammates…when whatever’s done is done, the only person you can depend on to get things solved is yourself. I don’t need something like a moral anchor to weigh me down.







    We reached the Library Atrium without talking a single time. I wordlessly took out the “Little Red Riding Hood” storybook, and handed it to her. Then, I turned to leave.

    “Please wait!”

    Hm? Was there anything more?

    “Thank you for taking care of me up until now! M-May I have your name please?”

    Name? Now that I think about it, what was my name again? But still, even if I remembered it, that name was the one which bound me to my old life; the previous me died long ago, falling off a building, so that name should stay buried with it.

    In that case, why don’t you come up with a new name for me? (Author’s Note: You are asking a 10 year old kid to give you a name? Really?)

    “M-Me? Um…ok…”

    Come on, give me a good name…

    “Midori?” (Green)

    "Uh…that sounds fine, but it’s a bit plain…Also, it sounds really like a certain ninja technique, and that’s weird."

    “Umu…How about Mikaze?” (Green+Wind)

    "…That sounds great. Simply wonderful. I’ll take it."

    “Great! I’ll call you Mika for short then!”

    …It must feel nice to be a kid nowadays…

    “Thank you, Mika! I’ll never forget you!”

    That was what she said before she stepped into the glowing portal conjured up by the book.

    If I was to be perfectly honest with myself, I had left out quite a lot of details when I talked to her. For instance, that old hag might have died, but I could still sense the presence of monsters lurking about before I left. Akane knows that she was sired by a monster, but she has absolutely no idea that the blood of a Werewolf runs in her…that kind of knowledge can cost her her life.

    The old hag was right on one thing. The blood of a natural-born Werewolf is a precious thing. In fact, among all the Rare-ranked items, it has the greatest potential in serving as a catalyst for spells. Even more importantly, it was not any worse than some Epic-ranked materials. That’s precisely why natural born Werewolves are hunted down with more fervour than their counterparts that hatch out of eggs.

    As if to make things worse, the blood that a natural-born Werewolf has which can be used for magic is severely limited. For Akane, the passing of her 10th birthday means that the amount of ‘that’ blood she has is limited to the amount of blood in her body right now. It’s impossible to use a natural-born as a blood bag because after their blood is removed, the blood that their bodies produce to keep them alive contains no magic.

    At this rate, she is going to get sucked dry, and killed. That would be a great waste of my efforts for the past few days if that indeed happens, and additionally, I know for a fact that the secret of the story has not been fulfilled. Because, if Rufilia really went along and depended significantly on ripping off of modern game systems, the secret to each story is undoubtedly going to be related to what gamers call the 'Hidden Boss".

    Looks like I have to silently watch out for her safety, then. Seriously, I think I’m becoming too soft-hearted these days, and that isn’t a good sign.


    Still, I wasn’t aware of it then, but naming was a delicate process. If there was a lack of mutual trust, the naming process would have failed, and the person doing the naming would have suffered certain consequences. Therefore, the fact that the naming had succeeded, meant that Akane was destined to become one of my companions, whether she liked it or not.
    I landed gently on the middle of the clearing, overlooking the cave which I had left behind only a day ago.

    But Rufi did say something about time flow stopping when I’m not here…so that means its only been a few minutes ago that I had left this place? How disorientating. Now, where did Akane wander off to?

    I decided to head towards the town.







    Whoa, this place got utterly wrecked. There isn’t a single building left standing. Some fires are still burning too.

    However, still no sign of Akane, huh. Where did that child run off to?

    There’s no reason she would remain here, and she doesn’t know the way back the cave which we shared at one point.

    So, by all reckoning, she should be either somewhere in the woods or making her way back to the summoning point. But she isn’t at either place.

    Wait, it can’t be—that darned troublemaker! Why is she heading there!

    My [Patron of Wolves] confirmed it. She was heading for the old hag’s house deep within the forest.

    Putting aside why exactly you are heading towards the house of that old hag…There’s a limit to how reckless you can get!

    Akane’s POV

    I was alone in the forest, treading on the overgrown main path, once more, despite knowing that it did not ward off monsters. Perhaps deep within, I was relying on my mother’s words for solace.

    “Hehe…”

    My mother…she already disowned me. Mika isn’t here anymore; I can’t rely on either of them for help any longer. Still, I had the feeling that, for once, I’ll be completely safe on this path, even though I’ve been proven wrong before.

    Why was I even heading towards the witch’s house in the first place? I had wanted to check if my disappeared friends were still inside the house somewhere. The probability was practically zero, but I had to try.

    *Rustle*

    Every time the winds blew, I paused, wary for any attacks from monsters hiding in the bushes. However, nothing appeared, even after waiting for quite a while, even though I had the feeling that I was being watched.

    Surprisingly, the journey didn’t take too long, and I wasn’t attacked a single time. I reached the house after 20 minutes.

    Mika’s POV

    I had arrived at the house long before Akane did, thanks to my enhanced speed. On the way there, I destroyed every single attacker.

    As a somewhat hard-core gamer previously, who would say no to free EXP? Furthermore, those were perfect opportunities for me to test out my fighting skills. After all, I had no idea what most of my skills and their effects were, and I wasn't stupid enough to believe that having some OP equipment was going to make me invincible.

    Anyways, Akane finally reached her goal. So she was here to look for her missing friends, eh. She probably already knows that they are all dead, but still insists on making a trip personally, having her as a friend must have been their fortune.

    But still, having a friend, huh. That concept is rather difficult for me to grasp. After all, humans are fickle—they change easily with the lure of wealth and money. That’s why, to me, ‘friends’ are simply people who have not yet betrayed me. At the end of the day, when push comes to shove, you’ll be lucky if they stop at cutting contact with you.

    Because heavens knows what people are capable of when they want to get something done, even when the livelihood of others are at risk…No, especially when other people’s livelihoods are at risk. The human history is literally built out of trickery and lies, with plotting, silencing, usurping, assassinating and the like being very common even back in the ancient times. It’s a kill or be killed world out there, and naivety will only get you killed off faster.

    What about my relationship with Rufilia, you say? First up, Rufi isn’t a living being, rather, she’s an immortal existence, so she isn’t going to be changing her nature that easily. Second up, I don’t recall ever mentioning that we were friends. We may have gotten wasted together and did some irreversible things to each other, but in the end, she is simply using me to guard the Library, and by extension herself, while I’m using her to grow stronger. It’s a situation where we make use of each other, so no friendship is involved there either.

    I guess it would be more accurate to compare our relationship to business partners? I uphold my end of the deal and she does hers, so that we can get a common goal achieved, but both of us would rather have all the power to ourselves. That’s the kind of relationship we share, and that’s the one I particularly like. I mean, it's much better to make our intentions clear to each other than to hide behind the façade of friends and then try to backstab each other.

    But at the rate which I’m rambling, the sun will set before I finish, so I’ll put this subject on hold for now—my objective here is to keep an eye on Akane, not to reminicise about the past.

    Somehow, theres a irritating feeling disturbing me, almost like an annoying fly; I can’t shake off the sense that this place is too quiet, even taking into account that only 1 person within the nearest kilometre is alive.

    Well, Akane seems to be exploring the first floor for now, so I climbed up a tree and accessed the second floor.


    Akane’s POV

    The door opened easily; the lock had been ripped off its face, and claw marks decorated the walls.

    Forget the witch’s house, this place looks more like a demon’s abode. As usual, painted on the house’s walls were more of those red-coloured pentagrams.

    There were unknown white things lying on the floor, too. I stepped on one, accidentally.

    *Crunch*

    Upon seeing what I had stepped on, I could barely stifle a scream; my foot had gone right through a human ribcage.

    What happened in this place? I found myself subconsciously walking on tiptoes, afraid to make a sound. It felt ridiculous, but I had the impression that the house was alive, and whoever that had been watching over me had suddenly grown hostile. (Author’s Note: Just to clarify, Mika was watching her up to the point where she entered the house, so once she was inside, someone else started watching her.)

    *Creaaak*

    The rotting floor boards squeaked alarmingly, as if it was trying to give away my position to whoever was observing me. I could taste metallic flavour from my bitten lips, as I continued searching, opening door after door, and finding nothing inside.

    As I opened another door, something unexpected greeted me. A burst of fresh colour that stood out from the macabre.

    A girl sat with her back facing me. I couldn’t tell by the clothes she wore, but I recognised that hair colour, and that hair style. She was one of my friends who had gone missing last year.

    “Lilliana! You are safe!” I pat her shoulder gently to draw her attention. (Author’s note: Run, that’s not a good idea)

    Her shoulder fell off.
    Akane’s POV

    Lilliana was dead. There’s no doubt about that. Rather, if she was still alive with half of her face rotten, maggots still wriggling on her half-eaten scalp, I would be running.

    My reasoning and instincts both told me to get out of there immediately, but somehow, I was rooted to the spot. I couldn’t quite tear my eyes away from what was occupying my vision.

    Lilliana’s left half was also completely decomposed, but her right side was perfectly preserved. There was a very distinct visual difference between both sides of her corpse. And somehow, that contrast between the morbid and the typical captivated me, making me want to stare at it for longer.

    The door slammed shut behind me, the reverberating echo lifting me out of my trance.

    “!—What’s going on? Open up!!!” I hammered the door desperately, until my hands were bleeding. It didn’t bulge.

    |How nice of you to join me. I’ve been stuck here for a long time, little girl.|

    W-What the—!

    Lilliana had moved. Her head raised by itself as she leered at me with her horribly decomposed face. Or to be more precise, her rotting left half with grinning molars, and her right half that resembled a perfectly normal smile.

    |Was this girl your friend? She was stuck here some three months ago; I had plenty of fun torturing her and breaking her. Oh, what a pity she died so soon. Never mind, you will take her place. It’s been a while since I’ve had fresh blood, so I’m quite pleased.|

    I don’t want to die yet…after struggling for so long, and finally meeting people who are willing to help me, I don’t want to let go of that opportunity just like that…save me, somebody…

    |Oh? You still look as if someone is coming to your rescue. Go on then, call out. Scream for help as much as you want—I’ve isolated this place entirely in another dimension and locked the only entrance with magic, so no matter how much you scream, no one will be capable of or going to respond. Go ahead and try; I dare you.|

    My child instincts told me to call for my mother. But…she already gave up on me, and it’s not likely she will hear me anyway. In that case, there is only one person I can depend on. One that treated me gently, almost like an elder sister I never had. I howled desperately, hoping that somehow, she would be able to hear me.

    “Help me, Mika-nee-sama!”

    *Crack*

    What answered was the collapse of the door behind me, as the reinforcing magic shattered, and a gigantic crimson fist punched it’s way in.

    Mika’s POV

    While allowing my [Patron of Wolves] to track Akane's movements, I decided to search through the rooms on the second floor.

    Hmm? This room...it resembles an office of some sort.

    There was an exceptionally large book lying on the middle of the table, several bookmarks inserted into it. Out of curiosity, I flipped it to one random page, reading out it's contents softly.

    "Experiment 45. Tested out necromancy on the deceased town boy."

    What the heck. I hurriedly flip to another bookmark.


    "Experiment 226. Created artificial human from harvested parts."

    There was a picture attached underneath...wait. I've seen this person on the picture before. Akane's mother.

    *Bam!*

    The sound of a door slamming shut, and Akane disappeared from my [Patron of Wolves]. Damn it.

    I hurriedly put down the book, and made a quick exit. The slamming noise was probably from the central balcony overlooking the house, so I made a rush for the main foyer.

    You had better stay safe, Akane. I didn’t go through this much trouble for a corpse.

    It’s a wonder how my stress can actually pile up so quickly over such a short period of time. Like, I’m pretty sure that I’ve only ever lost my temper twice in my life. Once when the nurse dropped me on my head as a baby, and second when Rufi decided to ask me to teach her cooking. For goodness sake,, I’ve never seen someone so catastrophically bad at cooking. If she made the appearance nicer, that ‘food’ would have become a must-have tool for assassinating foodies. Honestly, I’m hoping that today won’t have to be the third time I ever lost my temper.

    Then I stopped in my tracks. Before me, where a door should have been, was a wall. There was no traces of a door existing.

    That’s impossible, I definitely heard a door being slammed shut here, unless——Space Magic, huh?

    There are three ways to nullify a magic spell. First, counter it with a superior spell. Second, use Dispel magic with an equal amount of mana. Third, smash through with brute might.

    In terms of efficiency, one and two were equally good, so long as the caster knew Dispel. Number three was a terrible waste of mana.

    I never did things the efficient way, though, if I could help it. I preferred to do things MY way, and damn any consequences that might follow along.

    Today of all days has been exceptionally stressful, and this act just so happened to have stretched my patience past it’s breaking point. I equipped both Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi, took aim at where the door should have been, and for the first time, I accepted it. The lineage of a mythical creature.

    |Claw of Polaris|
    |Claw of Antares|
    |Tempest Blade|


    I discovered quite an interesting secret while wielding my gauntlets previously. They were both capable of Spell Amplification and Spell Combination. Which means, whatever spells I casted using them could be boosted to much greater strength, and at the same time, Spell Combination allowed me to combine attacks of different elements into one single, powerful attack.

    I had experimented with Spell Combinations previously, so I knew the best combinations for getting the most explosive attacks. By casting the Claws of Antares and Polaris at the same time, and adding my signature wind magic to them, the result was a killing move which would later become one of my most-utilized moves.

    |Maximum Magic, Killing Move. Meteoric Storm Fist.|

    The result…do I even need to mention it? Both the door and the wall blew up, and I strode into the room, just to catch sight of Akane, who was injured, but alive, as well as a moving corpse. Something in me snapped.

    Good.

    Very Good.

    You actually dared to touch my belongings.

    You actually dared to damage what belongs to me.

    You. Actually. Had. The. Audacity. To. Injure. My. Belonging. Right. Within. Range. Of. Me.

    Heh.
    Akane’s POV

    This isn’t a dream, right? Mika actually came here?

    She was smiling at me, giving me the same gentle smile that I’ve always remembered on her face. Even the canines that peeked through did nothing to disrupt the peaceful aura she was giving off, as she gently bandaged the hands that I wounded.

    “Tsk, tsk. What a terrible wound. Hold still and this pain will be over soon, okay? Pain, pain, go away~”

    “Pfffffft…”

    Somehow, despite the life-threatening situation that I just got out off, Mika successfully made me laugh.

    Then she turned her head to look at Lilliana, no, whoever was controlling Lilliana, and her personality underwent a complete change. The aura of gentleness she was exuding disappeared in an instant, replaced by a bloodthirsty aura. One that lived for blood and slaughter. Her eyes…they had turned completely red and lifeless, and a pair of twisted horns now jutted out of her temples.

    I could have sworn that I heard distorted voices muttering:” Kill, kill, kill” over and over again.

    She looked completely like a demon. And her grin, exposing the full view of her incisors, only made it worse.

    “Close your eyes, Akane. Trust me, you really don’t want to see what is about to happen next~”

    I understood now. Mika wasn’t a saint; nor was she a demon. She was both, and neither of them at the same time. Two faces of the same coin, and she’s the metal that creates it. When she had initially saved me, she had done so completely out of her own free will, and not because she was obliged, or duty-bound to. Somehow, that made me trust her even more.

    I decided to shut my eyes.

    Mika’s POV

    Alright, now that Akane’s matter is finished, the only thing left…is you.

    I grin at the thing that was before me. With my identity as a Ruler of Hell, I recognised it. The corpse before me was being manipulated by thin strands of necromancy and black magic.

    Just like a marionette.

    The puny void demon which I had glared at was clearly trembling. What a pity. With its current level of progress, it could have achieved the rank of a Greater Demon within the next decade.

    Too bad~ You just had to go and piss me off, didn’t you?

    I mean, as a demon, you should have felt Baphomet’s earlier descent and rapid exit, so why on earth did you think it was a good idea to kidnap Akane, who was obviously the one I was looking out for? Is there nothing between those ears of yours?

    |Please forgive this lowly one, Lady! This one promises not to do it again!|

    “Hehehehe. Forgive you? Of course, I don’t mind forgiving you…once I kill you, that is.”

    |Please! This lowly one was in the wrong for not being able to see clearly! Everything was my mistake!|

    “Hm. Well, you are correct to say that. Everything was indeed your mistake.”

    |Th-Then…|

    “Since you are aware and have confessed that everything was your fault, it’s natural for punishment to follow, no?

    I could see the already ashen face of the void demon get even paler, showing it’s green veins. Ugh, gross.

    |B-But—|

    “in fact, you have accurately pointed out one thing. You won’t ever do this again.

    The pale face of the void demon turned completely white, as it understood my meaning. What are you, a chameleon?

    |Noooo! Lady, have mercy!|

    “Hmph. Coward. I hate those types the most. Ass kissers and panderers that only know how to use their mouth to get out of trouble, only to turn and beg for mercy at the first sign of trouble. I was originally going to give you a warrior’s death for daring to offend me, but now, I’ve changed my mind. Letting you die a honourable death would be an insult to the fighters that have fallen to protect others, even if I personally think that sacrificing for others is a stupid idea.”

    The void demon tried to escape, attempting to slip out of the material plane. Too bad, I can see your every move.

    “Escaping isn’t so easy. Tempest Lash.”

    Tied up like a pig, except that it’s a demon…hmmm. Is it more correct to call it a hog-tied demon, or a demon-tied? Oh well, I’ve got plenty of time to think about it later.

    |Please spare my lowly life! I’ll sacrifice mortals for you, Lady!|

    |Open a portal to the past. Time Reversal.|

    I extended my hand through the open portal, and casually broke a single string. Before me, the corpse collapsed, and the true body of the void demon appeared. It was looking at me with a mixture of fearfulness and despair.

    Feeling regretful now, are we? That’s good. Regret is a precious emotion, you don’t get to experience it too many times.

    It’s too late now. You should have known better than to have meddled around with my belongings and then try to seek mercy from me. I’m not a saint, and even if I was, your face is ugly enough to curdle fresh milk. You know how people always say that one shouldn’t bring their personal emotions into their judgement? Well, I disagree. I’m going to take this extremely personally, so I hope you’ve had time to write your last will. Heh heh heh~

    |Devour, infinite abyss. Black hole.|

    Watching the void demon get sucked into the void was an interesting thing. As it got close to the event horizon, the demon was stretched to extreme lengths, until it became no thicker than a string.

    By the way, just so you know, I would never want someone to sacrifice humans to me. Firstly, what am I to do with a harvested corpse? Secondly, by killing them, you’re denying me of the opportunity to personally hunt them down. If anything, that pisses me off even further. So, by saying that to appease me, you’ve actually signed your own death warrant, you know?

    Afterwards, I retracted my domain, withdrew my threatening aura, and gave Akane a pat on the head.

    “You were watching, weren’t you? Naughty girl.”

    [Hidden Boss of the Story has been cleared. You have received: Specific Combat Mastery Manual, 200 mana crystals, 1 Soul Fragment, and a Black Hound stuffed toy (Rare Summon Item). You have also received the Titles:《Kin Slayer》and《Pandora》. Due to meeting a certain requirement, you have been awarded the Title:《Onee-san》]

    Hmm. I did all that out of a whim, but I ended up earning a fair bit, huh. I chuckled as I continue caressing Akane’s hair.

    ——————————————————————

    《Kin Slayer》 (Rare)

    • When fighting your own kin, damage received is halved and damage dealt is tripled.
    • Grants the Passive skill, Soul Taker. The souls of those you killed all go to you.
    《Pandora》 (Hidden)

    • Grants Rank 1 Paradox Magic (Grandmaster)
    • Grants the Passive Skill, Conviction. “As long as you do what you feel is right, you shall be unstoppable.”
    《Onee-san》 (Hidden)

    • Your bearing changes to that of a caring elder sister; It becomes easier to talk to children, and get them to feel at ease.
    ——————————————————————
    Well, thanks to that unplanned trip back, we wasted a few more hours.

    “There goes my naptime.”

    “Uuuu…Sorry…”

    "It's alright."


    I don’t blame Akane though. Since she had the determination to carry it out, I guess I’m willing to sacrifice my own free time.

    4 hours left, huh. In that case, I should first arm Akane and explain to her the way things stand. After that…a meal, a bath, and then a quick nap?

    It goes without saying that I could last for very long without the first, and I could go without the second and the third, but the attractiveness of good food, showering and resting had been firmly ingrained into me. They aren’t something I’ll give up on easily. In fact, if anyone tries to stop me from enjoying those, I’ll massacre them.

    “Akane. Come here for a moment.”

    Akane’s POV

    What? This place I was in…wasn’t part of my original world?

    After casually tossing out that bombshell, Mika had handed me a scythe, a set of leather armour, a robe, a plush toy, and a book.

    The scythe was gleaming sharp, with a polished crimson crescent moon blade. The leather armour was light and comfortable to move in, yet afforded me a sense of security. The robe had been imbued with an unsettling darkness, while the book was labelled—[Blackfire Magic (Advanced)]. I'm not sure why she gave me a plushy, though.

    “I-I can’t accept this…it’s way too valuable…”

    Mika must have seen the hesitation on my face, for she said:” Go ahead, just take it. You need something to defend yourself with, and I may not be here the whole time. If you want to repay me…eh, just stay safe.”

    I realised that something had started to blur my vision; when I reached out with my hand to rub my eyes, I could see the streaks of tears that were left on it.

    It couldn’t be helped. No one was ever this nice to me before, providing me not only with food and lodgings, but also a means of self defence. Mika was really kind, despite how she had always acted domineering and proud.

    I could feel a warm hand caressing my head. (Author’s Note: It sounds wrong, but there aren’t better words than ‘caressing’.)

    “Well, now that the troublesome matters are all out of the way…Let’s eat! I’m told that there was a hot spring in this place, so let’s go and visit it afterwards—hey, don’t cry! A girl should smile more, or it will ruin their image!”

    *Sniffle* Sorry…I just feel…really happy.

    Mika’s POV

    Well, that was easier than I thought it would be. Akane is practically 100% trusting in me now. My flawless acting skills should have played a huge part, too.

    So, the saying that one lets down their guard in the presence of people they trust was true, huh. I had expected more suspicions, but the way this is moving is quite satisfactory—I’ll rather not have turned her into a mindless puppet. After all, toying with a 10-year old’s emotions can be a pretty fun thing to do, heh heh.

    I’m kind of messed up in the head, now that I think about it.

    Well, I wonder how long this façade of a gentle and caring elder sister can last? Sorry, Akane-chan. I’m not caring or free enough to play the role of your sister forever.

    That said, as long as she doesn’t try to hinder me, I’m willing to treat her fairly—that’s how equivalent exchange works. I use you and you use me, so we don’t owe each other anything…Actually, strike that.

    “Akane, follow me for a while, there’s something I need to test out.”



    We were in the arena which had already been fixed, after Rufi destroyed it last time.

    “Akane. Try lifting this scythe.”

    “O-Okay! Huuuuuuungh!”

    I grabbed it before she could drop it on her foot. A leg wound would have been annoying.

    Jeez. Gravity, you win this time. Screw you.

    The limitations of physical strength and the laws of physics have finally caught up, huh? Too bad this scythe isn’t like a certain Death Scythe…

    Hmm, what to do?

    |Remove weight, invert gravity. Weight Transfer.|

    Weightlessness type of magic was unlocked at Rank 9 Space Magic Mastery. The ability to remove the weight of an object, making it as light as a feather.

    ‘Here, Akane. Try lifting this again.”

    “O-Okay. Huu—Ehhh? It’s really light!”

    It works.

    Technically, what I just casted was an inferior version. Rather than permanently making it lighter, I decided to let more of the weight return as Akane grew stronger. It would be troublesome if I let her just remain at that level, boosted only by her strong equipment. As some random person once said, the greatest weapon is one’s own body.

    As for where I transferred the weight over to? Hmm…Let’s just say that my gauntlets have gotten heavier. More weight = more impact, so it’s a win-win situation for both of us.

    “Alright, Akane. Now that you can actually swing it, try to strike me with it.”

    “Huh?! But…Mika-nee-sama, what if I injure you accidentally…”

    [Don’t worry about that, Akane. Just feel free to swing that around. As long as you don’t hit yourself, you’re fine.]

    Rufi entered the arena grounds suddenly.

    “But…”

    [Trust me, it’s not so easy to even injure Mika. You might have an Epic ranked weapon, but Mika is already a Legendary Being.]

    Mhm.

    [If she could get hurt so easily, I would have kicked her out long ago. In fact, I should make your scythe sharper. |Enchant, Eagle's Vigil|]

    Oi. That’s true regarding my defences, but why did you cast a Grandmaster-ranked Armour Piercing sharpness enchant on that scythe? If that hits my vitals, even I would die, you know?

    You know what, fine. I’ll let them mess around for a while. Akane needs to learn how to properly kill with her scythe, anyway.

    Let’s go slaughter the fools that are invading.

    ——————————————————————

    Arc of Annihilation (Epic Scythe)

    • Minor Spd boost, Large Atk boost
    • Grants Passive Skill [Reaper’s Cleave]: Your strikes target the corporal and the ethereal at the same time. Souls of those you kill are trapped in this scythe.
    • Intelligent Weapon: This weapon has a will of its own, and is loyal to its owner.
    • Rending Strikes (Active): Upon usage of mana, scythe creates mana blades. High penetration power, homing capabilities.
    • Master Reaper (Passive): If user can chain a 15-strike combo together, damage is multiplied by 6 for the entire combo.
    Dusklight Robes (Epic Outer-Wear)

    • Minor Hp/Mp boost, Large Int boost
    • Mana Absorption (Passive): Automatically absorbs mana over time.
    • Dispel (Passive): Can lessen and nullify the damage of magic below Master Tier completely.
    • Grand Arcanum Shield (Active): Once a month, this skill can completely block any type of magic for one time.
    Black Hound Plush (Rare Summon)

    • When used, summons a Black Hound at Level 1. Level, Race, Class, and Element affinity are all capable of growth.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017 at 12:23 AM
  4. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Side Stories
    Greetings. This one is the A.I. that takes care of the Paradox Library.

    This one was born 30,000 years ago, during the Library’s Golden Age. Over the last 300 centuries, this one had been seeking out a suitable candidate to be the Librarian.

    Despite the name making it sound like an easy job, being the Librarian is no simple task. It is literally being the Guardian of the Library’s treasures, forever.

    Admittedly, there was no other lifeforms here besides this one, so being the Librarian would also be quite a lonely job. This one had resigned herself to the notion that this one could not find a suitable person.

    Therefore, this one was surprised when the main transportation/summoning magic circle glowed, successfully bringing someone into the Library.

    Then—this one could not help shivering. The person who was summoned appeared average at a first glance, but closer analysis revealed her shoujo-esque looks and bearing.

    She had hair that appeared to be a common black, but upon closer scrutiny revealed itself as jet black. Almost like the midnight itself.

    Her emerald-green eyes, in particular, resembled those of a dead fish, and tucked within their folds was only one emotion – Indifference.

    Despite not being alive, every single one of this one’s instincts warned me – This person is dangerous. Possibly even more so than the entire Library’s arsenal. Although, why was she holing on to a bottle of sake in her right hand?

    This one wonders if it is not too late to expel her from this place? As this one pondered that, the girl burped, then spoke.

    “Interesting. This place *hic!* should keep me occupied for *hic!* a sufficient period of time.”

    Uh…Those words…completely ruined her image. The status known as being drunk is fearsome indeed; even the strongest people do unthinkable things under it’s influence.

    Okay, now that this one’s seen her hidden side, this one should probably show herself—no! That’s an act!

    How unpleasant. She behaves as if she was truly drunk, but no drunkard would have such clarity in their pupils. This one nearly fell for it, too.

    I’ve lived for 30,000 years and this one has seen a lot, but this one daresay that this girl might have more mature thinking processes compared even to me.

    Looks like the Library found itself a hidden gem this time. Then, as it’s A.I., this one shall do this one’s best to assist her in running the Library. After so long, this one can’t say this one dislikes the idea of companionship.



    Oh, no. The new Librarian…is a slacker. A massive slacker, at that.

    It’s just 50 trees…I even gave you a good axe…

    Since this was unprecedented, this one has something to admit. The tutorial quest is programmed in such a way that it can reveal the deeper side of a person. Judging by their actions, a suitable Ultimate Skill is awarded.

    After all, the Library’s chosen one can’t be left that weak. But still, with that being said…

    How am I supposed to give you a reward if you aren’t doing anything?! Wake up!

    The Library’s future…will there be one?
    Hello~ My name is Akane, but people here usually call me ‘The Little Red Riding Hood’. I’m 10 this year.

    Just a few days ago, my mummy celebrated my 10th birthday for me. Yay~ I love you, mummy~ After the party, she told me that she wanted me to deliver a basket of items to my grandmother who lived alone, on the other side of the forest.

    “You are 10 this year, mature enough to enter the Forest. Don’t worry, the monsters that usually roam the forest do not approach the main path. If you are ever in danger, just call for Mummy and I’ll be there for you, ok?”

    Un! I nod. Then, the following morning, I set out cheerfully, humming as I skipped along the path.

    Hm? The townspeople…why are they all averting their eyes? I wave to the bakery uncle, a friendly uncle who always had a warm piece of bread and a smile ready for me, but he greeted me with a weird smile, and a weird look in his eyes, as he handed me another piece of bread.

    “Be careful, it’s hot.” he cautioned, but the weirdness remained in his voice.

    Was it because I was one of the only children left in the town? Every year, a child would go missing in the forest, something which made the townspeople very worried. Sometimes, I really miss my friends Lily and Thomas.

    Ohhh~ Those are the white flowers mummy told me that grandmother loved! She told me to wear gloves before plucking those, so that I wouldn’t damage the flowers…what was their name again? Magnolias…Daisies? Ah, Hemlock!

    I dug up a fresh bunch, bundling them and wrapping them in white paper. Grandmother will be so pleased~

    So absorbed in my task I was, that I did not notice something creeping up on me until it was too late. Then something spilled on my shoulder.

    There was a monster towering over me from behind, it’s claws and fangs bared as it prepared itself to pounce. I could see it’s red eyes glowing.

    “Uwahhhhhh! Mummy, help me!”

    I panicked, retreating. There was so many ugly monsters around me, all of them had glowing red eyes, sharp fangs and claws. Mummy, where are you? Help me!

    “Go away! Monsters!”

    Why isn’t mummy here yet? She said she would be here if I called out for her! Am I going to get eaten up? I could not stop crying and shaking in fear as I tripped over a tree root, leaving me sitting on the ground, surrounded by monsters.

    Time seemed to have slowed down to a crawl, as I watched the nearest monster tense up for a spring, the sunlight glinting cruelly off the knife-like fangs.

    |Claw of Polaris|

    The chest of the monster before me exploded. E-e-eh?

    A wolf-eared lady wielding gauntlets landed before me, standing between me and all the monsters. I heard her mutter:” Tsk. This got really troublesome, huh?” before a chilling aura assaulted the surroundings.

    Instinctively, I called out:” Mummy.”

    Then I must have fainted, because darkness overtook my vision, and I remembered nothing more, besides the complex look on the lady’s face as she turned to look at me.
    [Haah~]

    "If you sigh too much, happiness will escape from you, you know?"

    [And which idiot do you suppose is the one making this one sigh again? Geez...This one never fails to be astonished by your whims and fancies. And what you suggested this time...]

    "Let's go out for a trip! It'll be the 3 of us only! Rufi, you know how to magic us all to Earth, right?"

    [This one wishes this one could just magic you to Earth and leave you stranded there, penniless and homeless. Preferably in a desert.]

    "Haha~ Rufi, your sense of humour got better, didn't it?"

    Argh. There's no talking to her---This one can feel this one's brain cells dying. If this goes on, rather than an Artificial Intelligence, this one will become an Artificial Unintelligence.

    "Silence means consent, so it's decided then. After tomorrow's assault on the Library, we are going out. 5.30pm sharp, dress casually."

    [...Way to force the conclusion you want...]

    Friday evening, shortly after the invasion ended

    "Yooooo~ Let's go, I want to eat some delicious food. Akane, I'll bring you to eat some good food, so look forward to it~"

    'Yay! I love you, Mika-nee-sama!'

    [There's no stopping you two...wait up. If Mika knows Space-Time Magic, shouldn't she be able to pull this off without having this one do it?]

    "Eheheh~ I was found out, huh?"

    [Not 'eheheh'! Besides, what are you planning to do with the issue of that girl?]

    "..."

    Wait a minute. That emotion that just flashed through Mika's eyes...that was indecision, wasn't it? Even if I'm not human, I'm pretty sure she's secretly worried about something.

    That massacre in the morning affected her a bit more than she initially expected...Tsk. Somehow, I'm feeling...guilt? for bringing up this topic.

    "...I'll worry about that later! I don't know about you, but I'm sure as heck starving! Let's go procure some food already!"

    ...This one gave up. |Warp|

    ...

    So, she picked out this place for the trip, eh? This one hates to admit it, but Mika really did her research beforehand, didn't she.

    Although, it was currently winter, and she was standing at the entrance of a huge night market , dressed in nothing besides a T-shirt and some jeans.

    I could feel my veins popping. This girl...she didn't even bring along a scarf when it was already winter?!

    'Achoo~!'

    I took out a spare coat from my bag, and handed it to Akane, who happily accepted it.

    "Say, Rufi. Why is it that Akane gets a coat and not me? Aren't you being a bit biased here?"

    [This one exercises this one's right to remain silent.]

    "Oh well, never mind. I don't really feel that cold, after all. This temperature is nothing to a Storm Fenrir, you know? Oh hey, deep fried ice cream cake! I'll buy some! Akane, do you want some too? It's really tasty!"

    This girl...she truly lives for the moment, doesn't she? She reminds me of someone else from 30,000 years ago, who had a personality like her...Haha, when was the last time I ever reminisced about something that happened so long ago in the past?

    Perhaps, in a way, this is what they call karma? To make up for my 30,000 years of solitude, I've been brought a companion, and a really interesting one at that.

    Hehe, I'm getting sentimental. Since when was the last time I believed in illogical things like karma?

    "Uh. Rufi? I...kind of forgot to bring my money along...Please?"

    ...You just had to ruin the atmosphere that was so good there, didn't you.

    [This one takes back this one's earlier words. Pay for yourself. This one refuses to help, even slightly.]

    "Uwah, c'mon, its just a few dollars...Surely, to you, even a few million dollars is nothing, right?"

    That much is true. I don't need to eat or sleep, so I don't actually need any manufactured products. All the Library Systems run on a pre-programmed system, too. In fact, I haven't actually been to the human realm for the recent millennia, to say nothing of buying any products made here. As such, I have no need for human currency.

    [That might be true, but its high time you started learning to be responsible. Therefore, if you want that, pay for it out of your own pocket.]

    "Come on, don't be so stingy~ No matter what, we did sleep together, so help me this time round, please...?"

    Baka! Don't say that aloud in public!

    ...

    It took quite a while to wipe that particular memory from everyone within a 10 kilometre radius. I even checked to see if any improper messages were sent.

    Call me paranoid, but I had no intention of letting this misunderstanding escalate. Because goodness knows what humans are capable of thinking of when hearing the phrase "sleep together".

    We were currently proceeding down the street, with a thin layer of magic surrounding us, to ensure that none of Mika's questionable talk was heard.

    I ended up paying for all the food, too. Mika won the argument by saying that it was 'necessary Library expenditure'. I couldn't formulate a valid argument against that.

    [Still, you bought way too much food!]

    "I'll finish them all between me and Akane, so it's fine."

    A bag of pan-fried pot stickers. Deep fried ice-cream cake. Grilled pork skewers. Pastries with brown sugar stuffing. A roasted leg from a Ancient Wyvern...wait, what? They sell that here?

    "Oh, this? I took it off a monster I slew earlier. It seemed quite tasty, so I gave it a good ol' roasting."

    ...I think the act of cradling my forehead with my hands is going to be very common for me in the future...

    There was tugging on this one's sleeves; Akane was holding out a bottle in her hands.

    'For you, Rufilia! Teehee~'

    See what this one meant now? Mika could really learn from Akane, even a little.

    'Don't worry, Rufilia~ The vendor said that drinking papaya milk regularly will make you *grow* up faster!'

    Mika choked immediately on the Wyvern Meat she was chewing.

    "Pfffft! Hahahahahahaha!"

    [Grrr....You two are both...wait...]

    Where did Akane learn that phrase from? Being only 10, she should have been too young to have heard her mother mention that...at most, she should be too young to understand what that implied...

    "You're too short, Rufilia-nee-sama. You need to grow taller."

    "Pfffffft...What, Rufi, you thought Akane was talking about 'that'? Jeez, you sure do have a dirty mind, don't you."

    ...I hate both of you.

    "Mika-nee-sama, what does 'that' mean?"

    "Uh...Akane, you'll understand once you get older, so forget it for now, okay?"

    On that particular subject, it seems that both myself and Mika have a common standpoint.

    Oh well, I guess trips like this won't be too bad to experience in future.
    Apparently, Mika-onee-sama was going to be exploring another dimension for the next few days.

    Could I go with her? When I asked that, she patted my head, and said: "Maybe when you are older."

    I have decided! Yosh, let's grow up as fast as possible!

    Mika-onee-sama also told me to take care of Jessica for the next few days, since she was still suffering from memory loss.

    Un! Let's do our best!

    2 hours after Mika left

    [Akane! Bring Jessica to the dining hall! It's about time for lunch!]

    "Okay! Jessica, let's go have some lunch and we'll continue playing chess later, alright?"

    "Mhm. Let's go to the dining hall then...What is that smell?"

    "Eh? Now that you mention it, something smells burnt"...I suddenly had a really bad premonition.

    No way. Rufilia should be able to do something like that, right? After all, Onee-sama had told me to depend entirely on her...

    Rufilia's POV

    Uh. This goes here, right? Mika said that this one had to control the flames properly and...uh, was this supposed to be added to that?

    Wait! Why is this bubbling? Is it about to explode? What is this one supposed to do here? Um...adding water should be fine...wait no that's oil! Ahhhh!

    Akane's POV

    My worst fears were confirmed.

    Rufilia doesn't know how to cook.

    First up, why does it resemble a battlefield instead of a kitchen in there? Why are you pouring oil on the flames?!

    *Boom!*

    I hurriedly pulled Jessica behind me as black shards flew out of the kitchen at high speeds. Some shards struck my robes and bounced off, while others buried themselves in the wall behind me. What the...

    Thank god for the Dusklight Robes. More importantly, Rufilia, how high did you turn up the temperature?! How did you manage to make the reinforced steel pot explode?!

    [Uh...This one might have casted...|Incineration| on the pot...heh heh.]

    ...I really don't feel like having lunch suddenly.

    "Agreed."

    [H-Hey! At least give it a taste!]

    Rufilia holds out a plate of......what might have been 'food' at some point, but now it was just a charred heap. It wasn't even solid anymore.

    I guess I'll try a spoon? It can't possibly taste that bad, right?

    ...

    ...

    ...

    It could taste that bad. No, it tasted worse than it looked. Every cell on my tongue was screaming for water after I had a tiny spoon of it. Rufilia, skipping the fact that you added way too much habanero peppers, why did you even pour soap inside...I could taste the detergent...

    At least I got the [Poison Resistance] Skill after that...Afterwards, Jessica decided to personally supervise the cooking process to ensure that actual food could be cooked. Even so, the kitchen would explode twice more over the next four meals...

    Mika-onee-sama, please hurry up and return...Rufilia is going to kill both of us at this rate...
    The following morning, Rufi handed everyone a curious white pebble. There was a glowing blue ◇ rune marked on it.

    [These are the telepathy stones this one has created. Keep them on you at all times---This will allow us to contact each other telepathically, so *ahem* what happened 2 days ago won't happen again.]

    "Yeah, none of us wants a repeat of what happened 2 days prior to my return. It's a miracle the Library didn't blow up during that."

    [This one isn't that bad of a cook, okay?!]

    "Why are you already getting defensive when none of us have actually mentioned your cooking? It feels like you have something to hide, at this rate, you know?"

    [...Moving on, we have to decide how we are each going to spend our time. No offense to the 2 young ones, but both of you are being quite the burdens at this rate.]

    Akane pouts.
    "Hey, Rufi, don't be too harsh on them. After all, the two of them are still children. Furthermore, neither of them have had much combat training, you know."


    [Mika is an even bigger burden sometimes...]

    "Oioi, thats rude."

    [Anyway, since there's already 5 of us, we need to decide on how each of us is going to help out during an invasion, since doing that will lighten the workload on everyone.]
    We do?


    "Hm. Well, my role is already quite clear. Close combat specialist, Storm Fenrir Mikaze reporting for duty."

    "Uh...I'm a cleric, so I guess I'm in the back line..."

    "I use a scythe, so...middle line, I guess?"

    Uh-huh. Quite a well balanced team we have going on, though, it's highly probable that I'll end up doing the bulk of the work...I stare at Rufilia.

    [What? This one is in charge of all the traps and defences, you know?]

    "Which also means, all you do is fiddle around with buttons during an invasion, right?"

    [Hey! Well...if you put it like that, it's true...]

    "Which then means, Rufi, you are the biggest burden among all of us."

    [Ehhhhhhhhh?! Wait, if it's like that, isn't Jessica doing absolutely nothing?]

    "Jessica is still a child you know? Furthermore, she is still suffering from memory loss. Tsk tsk."

    [No-no way...To think that this one has the least use here...*Sob*]

    Oh, I think I broke her. Oops.

    "Mika, I have a request."

    "Hm? Go on, tell me. As long as it isn't too ridiculous, I'll agree."

    "Then, can I take the role of a hunter?"

    A hunter..."Bowman or gunner?"

    "Gunner."

    Well. A mid-ranged class..."sure, why not?"

    I was expecting her to go for the mage, though...I guess another trip to the Fusion Room is in order.
    The trip took a dive before we even begun; the problems were the other girls. Now that I think about it, I'm also a problem in my own right.

    Because all 5 of us didn't look normal.

    Think of it. Both Akane and I have wolf ears. Rufi has blue hair and yellow eyes, Jessica has lilac skin and pointy ears, and Claire has red hair and black eyes.

    None of us look remotely normal. At least, it isn't something that can be casually passed off if we were visiting a hot spring, even if cosplaying is fairly popular nowadays.

    The only option was to wear black wigs and brown contacts, at least when we were in public areas. Magic was not to be casually used on Earth, given that Earthlings don't know how to use magic. (Author's Note: Lol, are you all aliens then?)

    And so, Rufi got us to Earth with her Space Magic without a fuss this time. According to her: [Since I already did it once, a few more times won't matter much.]

    Now, we were inside an onsen in Hokkaido. I was actually planning to visit Kanto, but Rufi messed up the landing coordinates. Oh well, thank god there are good onsens here too. Additionally, since it was already nearing evening, there wasn't anyone in the baths with us, so we could all remove our disguises.

    This is bliss...

    Claire's POV

    This place that's called an onsen was really good; it was as if the hot springs melted my troubles away.

    Apparently, this a part of 'Japanese culture', as Mika had told us. It felt heavenly to soak inside the hot springs, but at the same time it was rather embarrassing too, I mean, it was the first time I had worn practically nothing...

    Also, Rufilia, please don't stare at my assets so blatantly, okay?

    I got embarrassed and hid behind Mika, only to find her grinning at me, with a rather knowing expression. H-Hey! Don't hug me so suddenly! There are minors here!

    Jessica's POV

    Rufilia was jealous. I could tell that easily. Onee-sama seems to have caught on, too, given the smug grin on her face.

    I turn to see Akane approaching me, as she asked me about what I planned to eat for dinner.

    This feeling...it's almost like we were a family...I've decided; I was going to grow up faster, in order to contribute more to this peace.

    Although...I've been wondering, but who was that boy that has been peeking at us for a while now...?

    This could be trouble. I quickly made use of the telepathic connection, and warned Onee-sama. She grinned at me, before putting a finger to her lips. A gesture for me to stay quiet.

    Onee-sama, its fine if you want to gesture, but shouldn't you be using your own fingers to do that? Claire has gotten so red it looks as if she's about to explode soon...

    Morning after the Trip

    "Say, Rufi, you feeling alright?"

    [...]

    "Rufi?"

    [...Hmph!]

    She is still angry, eh?

    At this point, I should probably explain what happened. The problem is, I'm not sure either.

    Last night, before we had returned to the Library, I had ended up procuring some bottles of Otokoyama sake. Needless to say, I had started drinking within my room the moment we had gotten back, and naturally, I had gotten heavily drunk afterwards.

    I don't recall having fallen asleep, but I had woken up this morning, in Rufi's room, on Rufi's bed, with a similarly drunken Rufi in my embrace, not to mention a massive hangover.

    Naturally, Rufi had woken up shortly after I had the chance to respond, then she had screamed and promptly booted me out of the bed.

    Jessica had thought there was a banshee here, the way Rufi had screeched...

    And now I was sitting at the dining table with the others, both me and Rufi having complex looks on our faces. I mean, given this situation, what other kinds of expression can we make?

    Claire lightened the atmosphere by sliding a cup of fruit juice to me. Thank you, Claire.

    I reach out for my cup as Rufi did the same, causing both of us to pause awkwardly. Eventually, she sipped from her cup, failing to hide the reddish blush on her cheeks.

    [Don't get so drunk next time, okay?]

    Yeah, I got that. Also...sorry. Still, what had happened exactly?

    The Previous Night

    Being in the onsen helped to remove my fatigue, but now I was too hyped to sleep. I decided to go get a drink in the kitchen, so as to hopefully make me sleepy.

    Halfway there, I spotted Mika stumbling about with unsteady footsteps.

    I could see that her lupine ears, which she usually kept hidden, were standing up straight, and her tail was quivering erractically. Furthermore, her eyes were red, and obviously unfocused.

    Such a Mika scared me. While I stood still to not make any noise, I noticed that Mika had gradually reached Rufilia's room.

    What was she planning to do?

    Rufilia's Room

    I was reading a book when the door suddenly blew open; Mika was standing there wearing her pyjamas, her eyes crimson red.

    The second thing that I realised was the smell; Mika had a strong smell of sake wafting around her. Not good, she got drunk again!

    Remembering the last time she had gotten drunk, my vigilance was at maximum, as I chanted a spell for a Reinforced Mana Shield to cover me.

    Naturally, that didn't work. Mika vanished and---my shield broke apart from her right fist. The next thing I know, Mika had me pinned down on my bed while I struggled furiously.

    "Rufi...you look really tasty..."

    This girl! What was she saying?!

    "Let me have a bite...Just one bite..."

    No! Stay away!

    I struggled with all my might as I chanted a spell to boost my Atk power, but Mika's overwhelming stats prevented me from moving an inch.

    "Silence means consent...I'm gonna bite you now..."

    Your Race is a Storm Fenrir, not Vampire! As I tried desperately to talk my way out of that, Mika stuffed a bottle of sake into my mouth and forced me to drink it.

    "Well then, Itadakimasu~"

    He-Help me......
    [Alright, Mika, you need to start working on your close combat techniques.]

    If I didn't need to work on them, why would I even be standing here right now?

    "Rufi...Tell me, why did I agree to this again?"

    [That's because your physical strength is severely lacking. I mean, you realised it yourself after you got into a fight with Wrath, didn't you?]

    That's true. I only won out thanks to my domain.

    "And you have some sort of item to make me stronger?"

    [Not me. The Library.]

    Oh. The Library's Shop, huh.

    "Open, Shop."
    ...
    There's way too many pugilist fighting styles here...besides the martial arts that I recognise from my human life, there's even fighting styles for non-humans...And for the price...

    "Why does something like Karate cost almost 200 crystals?! I can just return to Earth and learn it from an instructor for much cheaper!"

    [Mika...Even if you hire a really good teacher, humans are still prone to errors. Also, they might be affected by several factors which would otherwise prevent them from teaching everything to you. The manuals here can be used in the form of trade too, if you wish for them, and once you purchase them, as long as you train according to these manuals, you'll be able to truly reach the level of a master.]

    "My wallet surely isn't going to feel good after this, though."

    [Well, it's either your life or your money.]

    Touché.

    "I want to keep both. I'm not buying any manuals."

    [I can't affect your thinking...it's your life. Still, if you remain like that, it's going to be really troublesome in future.]

    I didn't read all of those cultivation novels for nothing when I was still alive, you know. Most of them said something about injecting mana into your own fists...I've been practicing mana circulation for quite a while now, but the destructive force never seems to be enough.

    Closing my eyes, I recalled the act of Kanon swinging her blades. Her physical arm strength is even worse than mine, but she somehow managed to strike with more force...Combat-oriented aside, there has to be another explanation.

    [I'm tired of watching you fail, so here's a tip. Mana can be used for more purposes than just coating your fists, Mika.]


    Huh. More than just coating...
    ...
    It took me quite a while, but I finally discovered that mana could be shaped.

    I learnt to coat my arms with an invisible, flexible layer of mana, which allowed me to strike faster. All those biology lessons on how fishes have streamlined bodies that allow for faster movement sure came in handy.

    I mean, I actually prefer speed over strength. After all, it's more effective to land more consistent hits than to deal punishing blows. With enough speed, you can avoid hits while dishing out damage in return.

    Which reminds me, Belphegor's inheritance actually gave me a good way to increase my offensive powers; the longer I sleep, the higher my Atk grows. Sadly, I've not had too many chances to enjoy a proper nap nowadays.


    So between my somewhat minimal knowledge of martial arts, my wealth of experience watching anime and reading light novels, and my mana shaping, I managed to copy...I mean, 'reference' several martial arts to make a combat style that I felt most comfortable with.

    Although, honestly speaking, I pretty much left the entirety of that task to Rufilia. Gotta maximize usage of the resources I have on hand, after all. She didn't disappoint.

    [Close Combat Fighting Style: Claws of the Storm Wolf]


    Mhm! This fighting style suits me quite well actually! In fact, this might actually be a unique fighting style just for me!
    Up until I was 17, I never met my mother. I lived together with my father, who did his best to raise me up well, despite his leg injuries.

    He taught me how to be a responsible and morally upright person. He taught me to value kindness, humility, and other virtues.

    The night after he celebrated my 18th birthday, he disappeared, without a trace. It was almost as if he didn't exist to begin with.

    Anxious, I delved into the deep regions of the forest, and got attacked by wild bears. As I was about to be bitten, a scorching blaze burnt my surroundings to ash, and a woman appeared out of nowhere. She led a dazed me along into a crimson portal, and brought me to a strange place.

    When I finally regained control of my own emotions, she dropped a bombshell, telling me that I was to govern the entire place. I was shocked once again.

    ...

    The same lady, who had introduced herself as Amon, tried to teach me combat. It didn't go so well. According to her, I didn't have the talent or skill to fight skilfully.

    I knew better. Subconsciously, I was suppressing my combat ability, to avoid causing damage to my opponents. As a result, even with Astras, which was supposedly forged just for me, I was unable to win against a regular Greater Demon.

    Due to that, I was aware that the other demons looked down on me, for being so weak despite my role as Pride. Aside from Amon, who kept on teaching me combat, Envy, who encouraged me, and Astaroth, who started training me in Pride's administrative duties, practically everyone else shunned me.

    It was literally Hell.

    Still, I have no choice but to do as they said, because I'm afraid of what will happen if I refuse...

    ...

    Amon went off for a while today, and came back, looking exhausted but satisfied. Her expression was one I had rarely seen; the exhilaration from enjoying a hard fight. According to her: "I lost! But I'll win next time, haha!"

    If only I could be as carefree as her...Also, to win against her in an all out match...who was her opponent?

    ...

    Today, Amon came and pulled me along to the meeting hall. I wanted to refuse, since I did not have any good memories of that place, but she simply lifted me up and brought me along. Apparently, she wanted me to meet someone. Along the way, we met with Envy, who was also heading for the Hall.

    When Amon pointed out the person she wanted me to meet, I shrunk back immediately. I could tell that the girl she was pointing out was even more dangerous than her.

    Jet-black ponytail with markings of green. A pair of emerald eyes that appeared sleepy, but secretly observed her surroundings, and strategized. Lastly, a pair of wolf ears protruding from her hair.

    She wasn't human. A wolf beastkin, maybe? The girl made eye contact with me.

    I looked away immediately. For the split second that we held eye contact, I could feel a hidden killing intent, as if I was in the presence of an alpha predator.

    "And so, this is Belphegor, Ruler of Sloth. In term's of authority, she is second only to you."

    Please don't joke around. With her strength, she could snatch my position away without effort. Just as I pondered about whether I should give up my position to her of my own violation, Amon prodded me. She wanted me to start the meeting.

    Needless to say, I stuttered, and the silver haired girl standing beside Belphegor roared at me angrily. I could feel myself tearing up.

    "Amon...This IS Lucifer, right? Not just a random kid you picked off the streets?"

    The girl known as Belphegor finally spoke, in a tone that suggested disbelief. Upon Amon's confirmation, her eyes narrowed, and she seemed to be pondering about something.

    Was she about to overthrow me, I wonder...Rulers that get overthrown are all executed, right? I don't want to die yet...

    "Pride."

    "Y-Yes?"

    Was she about to challenge me?

    "From today on, I'll be joining in your training."

    Eh?
    ...

    Belphegor did as she said. She became my third teacher. And my training schedule was bumped up to 24 hours a day.

    I want to rest and eat too, you know...

    ...

    I was sitting down before Belphegor, panicking. After Amon and Astaroth trained me for 16 hours consecutively, I wasn't thinking clearly anymore.

    Apparently, Belphegor called herself 'Mika'. As for the other two, they were 'Zora' and 'Yura' respectively. The silver haired younger girl that came with her was called Kanon, I heard. Upon hearing that I had no name, Belphegor decided to make one for me, according to the naming trend.

    But why is my name Hotori...It doesn't fit the trend at all...

    "Oi, Hotori. Wake up."

    Crap. I fell asleep. At this point, I'll rather she started her lessons already. Even though I'm not sure what she will be teaching me about with regards to common sense.

    I mean, most of the common sense I know don't apply to her, see?

    ...

    Her first lesson was ridiculous. She made me eat lots of food. According to her, sating your hunger was common sense.

    I mean, that is true, but...you are cutting down on lesson time, you know?

    I could see it in her eyes. A knowing smile that didn't show on her face. She deliberately made me fill my appetite using those lame reasons. She is unexpectedly kinder than I thought. She even made me address her directly as Mika, too.

    Next thing I knew, I was stuck in her embrace, after being told to sleep. She had closed her eyes herself.

    Are we having a lesson here, or are we napping...Still, I couldn't pry her fingers apart, so I obediently went to nap too. The way she hugged me felt really nice. It was almost like my mother...the embrace suddenly got stronger, and Mika opened her eyes.

    "I daresay, you better not be thinking of me as your mother. I'm not old enough for that."

    Perceptive. I could feel cold sweat on my forehead, but soon after, I fell asleep.

    I was woken up by a feather tickling my sides, as Mika grinned.

    "Hahaha...That tickles!"

    ...

    Why is this happening?

    Mika had just handed me a knife and told me to stab a human before me. I couldn't do it.

    She took the knife out of my hands.

    And right before my horrified eyes, she tossed the knife away, and knifehanded the human in the chest.

    I could see the human's heart in her hand. She gripped tight, and destroyed it, splattering blood everywhere.

    Why?

    Even though you were so kind to me, why did you become so merciless suddenly?

    Was that kindness all an act?

    I found Astras on my hands suddenly. When I looked back up, Mika was still smiling. Except that smile was now a satirical one.

    "Who's gonna stop me? YOU?"

    Yes. I am going to stop you.

    I am going to kill you. I lifted Astras, and went for her.

    In response, Mika grinned, showing her sharp teeth, and two giant gauntlets appeared on her arms.

    ...

    I lost. Miserably. There was no chance to strike her at all. Even when I put my life on the line, the resulting blow was shrugged off by her with relative ease.

    Like a game of cat and mice...there was no hope for victory in the very beginning. Still, I lifted my arms against her...is she going to kill me?

    The inky darkness provided no answers as I sank into it's folds.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017 at 3:53 AM
  5. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Arc 3---Invasions And Exploration
    A certain army on the march

    On a wide grassy plain, an army was marching. Towards two black spires that rose in the distance.

    These was the army from the Kingdom of Ferunia, consisted of professional knights, cavalry, and mercenaries. All of them were armed for war. And they were heading towards a certain ruin, only known to them as [The Forgotten Library].

    The head mage from the Kingdom had theorized that the ruins were about to open, thus resulting in this expedition. Every man in the army joined up, at the promises of fame, wealth, and glory.

    “I heard that apparently, most ruins hold priceless treasures from ages past.”

    ‘Yeah! Apparently, the people who first enter it are given the right to take whatever they want! It’s a good opportunity to earn wealth.’

    “Haha, no wonder so many people have signed up. Including that self-important Third Prince.”

    ‘He is probably aiming to earn glory from being the first ones to explore the dungeon…God knows that he doesn’t have enough achievements to compete with his elder brothers for the throne.’

    'Well, it seems that Knight-Commander Garok, whom he had been working with, died during the Labyrinth exploration 2 months ago."

    "That was a disaster, to be honest. One entire Knight Corp was wiped out. There wasn't enough soldiers to properly guard the capital in the first place, and now the manpower is spread even more thinly than before."

    “Agreed. Anyway, we are about to reach the ruins, so let us get ready. If any of us got injured exploring a ruin, the jokes will never end.”

    The army paused, and then shifted its formation. The knights took the spot at the back, awaiting the mercenaries to enter first.

    Even though entering late would result in a loss of relics being recovered, the knights knew that the ruins were most definitely not defenceless.

    Since someone was willing to lead the charge, might as well let him trigger all the traps, right? That was a common mentality found in grizzled veterans. In a world where magic exists and dragons rule the skies, either you had the skills to stay alive, the smarts to avoid danger, or you die.

    Inside the Library

    |They are preparing for the assault.|

    |Hm. Noted. They are entering from the Forgotten Sector, right? In that case…Rufi, you stay there and coordinate the defences. Akane, guard Rufilia.|

    |Okay! What about you, Mika-nee-sama?|

    |Well, since they are planning to plunder the relics in this Library illegally, this Librarian has to personally intervene.|

    It’s been too long (5 hours) since I last went wild, and I’m simply itching to do that again.

    |This one wishes you luck…Mika.|

    Oh, my. Raising this type of flag before a huge fight is really unlucky, you know?

    ???’s POV

    This is the Forgotten Library’s ruins? They certainly do look intimidating enough. There’s a high likelihood that the inside is heavily booby-trapped, too.

    The knights said they didn’t mind going in last. Hah. As if it wasn’t obvious enough that they wanted us to be their meat shields. Still, we were allowed to grab whatever loot we could carry, so this trade-off is worth it.

    "The door is slowly opening. Let’s go."



    This is bad. We underestimated the defences in these ruins. Poison fog traps, lava drop traps, mana cannons…whoever designed these ruins must have really despised invaders!

    The scariest problem here wasn’t the traps, nor was it the cannons.

    It was the Guardian that was chasing us.

    “Come out now, it’s useless to hide~”

    It had started off well enough. We managed to reach deep into the ruins without triggering any traps. That lasted until we turned a corner, and saw a lady with her back facing us.

    "Greetings, gentlemen. Nice weather we're having."


    With that one sentence, every trap in the vicinity activated immediately. Which led to the current situation.

    Still, no one was willing to stay behind and take their chances with opposing her.

    Four senior mercenaries, who had taken on countless quests together, tried to attack her simultaneously. We thought they had a fairly good chance until that lady had stopped a spear strike, and then parried off a sword strike with her index finger alone.

    Just one flash. The bodies of the people running behind me were split into 20 equal pieces. Oh, God, please deliver us from this evil, and grant me a safe passage home.

    The next turn brought me to a dead end. Damn, there’s nowhere left to run. All my friends are dead, and I’m stuck between a dead end and a terrifying monster. In that case, as the final survivor, I have to face her boldly, to ensure that no regrets are left behind. I heft my twin headed axe, and charged.

    “Ohhhhhh!!! Eat this!”

    The Guardian in front of me smiled, before lifting her left index finger, and she dispelled the force behind my strike completely.

    “It’s dangerous to swing that thing around, you know. I’ll be taking it.”

    Then, she reached out, and crumpled the stell axe as if it was made of paper. Following that, she completely vanished. Heh.

    There was a massive impact against the back of my head, and I heard my skull cracking…Sorry, my daughter…Looks like Papa won’t be able to attend your birthday party this year…

    Mika’s POV

    Well, the first wave has been completely wiped out.

    [Understood. How…do you feel right now?]

    I’m fine.

    [Well, if you say so…]

    Actually, I wasn’t fine. I was pissed off.

    Before I started the hunt, I had heard two of the mercenaries conversing, joking about how they were trading their lives away for first grab of the loot.

    Those words had pushed me over the edge, and I decapitated both of them immediately. Then, the cat and mouse game started, and ended with complete annihilation.

    I still don’t understand humans. If you know that you were being exploited by others, why would you willingly follow their orders? For money? Hah! You can’t eat money, and you can’t bring it with you when you die, so why are you so insistent on collecting large amounts of it?

    When there’s life, there’s hope. Dignity? Pride? Honour? Those things can be fed to the dogs.

    Still, for him to have been willing to face me in the end…hm, brave enough. Still, bravery alone is useless in the face of true might.

    Though, you had a daughter, huh…On the account of your determination, I’ll pay a visit to her afterwards, and see if she is doing well.

    Now, we wait. The next wave of idiots should be entering soon, and I haven’t vented enough of my frustration yet.
    Outside the Ruins, Third Prince’s POV

    Damn it! The mercenaries were all completely useless! At this rate, the throne is definitely going to end up in the hands of Elder or Second Brother!

    And Garok! That incompetent bastard! Dying in some measly labyrinth, could he have been any more idiotic than that?!

    “Third Prince, the mercenaries have not responded for some time. Perhaps this is a good time to retreat…?”

    "Silence! I call the shots here! Get your equipment ready, we are going to enter the ruins too! There’s no way I’m going to let this opportunity pass by!"

    Hidden in the darkness, Mika’s POV

    [Mika, the second wave is entering.]

    Copy that. Thank you, Rufi.

    [You are being very strange today. This is the first time you have thanked this one.]

    What? No way. Anyway, I’ll talk to you later. I’ve got some old acquaintances to kill. My dear departed Knight-Commander Garok Vortius, your idiotic Third Prince shall be joining you soon.

    Now…should I use them as target boards for my Storm magic, or as training dummies for my fist techniques?

    POV of an Unfortunate Knight

    This expedition was a mistake! There’s a monster in here with us!

    Not a single person saw her face, but every time a shadow passed us, an ally was sliced in half, decapitated, or had their brains blown out.

    Now, of the originally proud Knight troop of 200, there was only a handful of us left.

    “I’m the Third Prince! I can’t die in a place like this!”

    As he spoke, I felt a chill on my neck; I raised my spear behind me, defensively.

    Clang~

    I don’t…want to die…

    The last thing I saw was my own headless body, and the spear that had been sliced in half, quivering.

    Mika’s POV

    Hmph. Losing the will to fight after a mere hour…you don’t deserve to be called knights.

    That luxuriously dressed boy standing over there…I'm assuming he’s the Third Prince? Not even wearing armour to an unexplored ruin…Does his brain have defects or something? (Author’s Note: You aren’t exactly in a position to talk, Mika, wearing a T-shirt in open winter.)

    “T-T-This one is the Third Prince of the Ferunia Kingdom! Hurry up and bow before me, savage!”

    Ohohoho. Did he snap?

    “Impertinence! Not bowing when you see me, a Prince, that’s a crime punishable by death! Hurry up and surrender, then offer your services to me!”

    Yeah, he definitely broke. Sorry, but not interested.

    “H-How dare you defy me! Guards! Lock her in the dungeons!”

    Why don’t you take a good look around? All of your knights are dead, and this isn’t the capital.

    “W-what? No way…”

    Well, I’ll have you die here.

    “Wait! I’m the Third Prince! If you spare me, I’ll give you money, land and—”

    I was getting pretty tired of his rambling, so I tried to knock him out in the way they did it in movies---you know, by hitting the back of the neck. The result I got was a headless corpse spewing blood. Damn, too much strength.

    I don’t need money. As for your lands, I can easily snatch them myself, and prestige and the like is worthless to me. All I need, is this Library, and Rufi.

    Watching the headless corpse collapse to the ground, dyeing the floor red, I mused.

    "Go back to your mother’s womb, and try again, idiot."

    [Title《Rookie Guardian》obtained]

    ...


    Now that the invasion has been settled, time to go tie up some loose ends.

    I did promise to visit that mercenary's daughter, after all.

    Ferunia Kingdom, Capital City Bevaris, City Outskirts, ???'s POV

    It's getting late. Father isn't back yet. Even though he said he would be back before my birthday party...

    He is all I have left after my mother died...Please stay safe, Father...

    Mika's POV

    Rufi. Have you found her yet?

    [Please wait a bit more. Even with this one's Search magic, looking for a person in an unmapped region is difficult...]

    It's ok. I believe in you, Rufi.

    [Argh. As I thought, I can't. The spatial boundary between the two worlds is causing my magic to go haywire. I can't get any reliable information, beyond the fact that she's living somewhere in the capital.]

    Understood. Thank you, Rufi.

    [This is the second time you've thanked this one since an hour ago...and the 2nd time you actually thanked this one. Did you get infected by something?]

    Haha, no. Take good care of Akane, ok?

    [Mhm. Got it.]

    Well...I reached the capital. From the side of the mountain I was on, I could see a bustling city, built into another very steep mountain, nearly 5 kilometres away.

    The scale of the city...it's population must be exceptionally high, even according to modern day standards...How on earth am I going to find one person in the middle of all these?

    Why did I ever say that I'll visit the mercenary's daughter in the first place? Aren't my actions a classic example of digging a hole and then jumping into it?

    Screw it! I'll find a way into the city first.
    ...
    This city reminds me strongly of a city during the Medieval Era, back on Earth. By that, I mean a cliché fortress city comprised of walls, sentry towers, and the like. Naturally, the environment inside the walls were pretty similar, too.

    A caste system existed here. The top were the royalty, followed by the nobility, the knights, the peasants, and lastly, the slaves. Practically all of the slaves were non-human.

    Disgusting. I've never seen such an extreme display of prejudice. In the brief time I had spent walking around the city, I've witnessed not less than 6 demi-human slaves get beaten to death. Still, I didn't try to stop them, or anything like that. I simply shifted my gaze, and pressed on.

    Selfish? Cowardice? Pretty much. I value my life over others.


    Maybe I should begin asking around...But, judging from how that mercenary was so desperate to collect relics, I can only assume that he isn't that well off, in which case, his daughter is probably living in the poorer parts of the city...Jeez, why do I have to do all this work?

    That was as far as I could think before I heard a rumbling noise, and the building that was next to me suddenly blew up.
    What the hell just happened?

    There's no way a building would just suddenly blow up. Also, that loud noise attracted the guards, and I can hear them rushing here even now.

    Time to make a quick getaway. I've watched enough TV serials to know that anybody who just entered the city today would fall under the most suspicions. I hurried into a side alley, pulling my hood back up.

    *Swish* *Clang*

    "Woah!"

    A knife was just tossed directly at my face. It was entirely a coincidence that I managed to block in time. I know that people say scars are marks of honour, but I'll rather not have a third nostril.

    "Nice reflexes, nya."

    Again, what's with the cliché of all assassins being dressed in black? Wait...did she just say 'nya'? A cat?

    "Well, here I go, nya."

    The black-clothed woman disappeared.

    *Swish*


    This time, I failed to block it. The dagger missed my face by a few centimetres, cutting off my hood as well as a good portion of my hair.

    "You need to pay more attention to what you can't see, nya. Well, you'll die here, so that's largely educationa---nya?!"

    The assassin suddenly took a few steps back, and then prostrated on the floor.

    Again, what? The feeling of deja vu is very strong here. First Baphomet, and now you...I swear, this had better not be due to another cheat.

    The assassin pulled off her mask, revealing a girl with cat ears...She looks kind of familiar.

    "It is you, nya!"

    Hmm? Where have I seen her before? Cat ears...hmm...oh. She's that cat girl I had helped out in the Twisted Labyrinth. Great, now I'm freaking embarrassed.

    "We probably won't meet again, so that doesn't matter."


    Argh. I want to go back in time, and give my younger self a couple of slaps. Wait, Belphegor's inheritance has given me the proficiency in Space Magic, so...nah, let's not think about that.

    Still, we did meet again, so I naturally have a few questions of my own to ask.

    "I see you've gotten stronger, huh? What about the rest?"

    The cat girl looked around. "It's not safe to talk here, nya. Come with me, I'll bring you to one of our safe houses, nya."

    ...

    The cat girl brought me to the outskirts of the city, where she led me underground, into an extensive cave system. Judging from the rotting scaffolding and support beams, this place must have been a mine previously.

    Still, looking at the cracks on the walls...This place is neither 'safe', nor is it a 'house'...While I was uselessly thinking about that, the cat girl was knocking on one of the walls.

    "We're back, nya!"


    "You...why did you bring a human back with you, Celine?"

    Oh, so that was her name? I mentally filed that piece of information under "Unimportant".

    "Don't be so tense, Gerald! She's the one who saved me, after all, nya!"

    Despite using harsh words, the two of them are quite close, huh? The panther headed beastkin gave me a look, sighed, and then allowed me inside.


    We entered a room that was extremely spacious, and for once, the beams seemed solid enough to support it's weight. Equipment such as weapons and sets of armour were strewn about everywhere, as well as countless maps.

    "I'm back, Elder! I've brought a friend, nya!"

    A wizened old leopard beastkin looked over...ah, he was there too back then, wasn't he.

    "Celine, you shouldn't be bringing humans back to our secret base...wait, it's you?"

    If I'm to be perfectly honest, I wish I could just dig a hole and jump into it, right now. Acting all mysterious back then...what the heck was I doing?
    ...
    "Pardon the mess. We didn't exactly have enough time to clean this place up."

    The three of us were sitting around a table, having tea. Gerald had gone back to watch the entrance. Except me, though. I had a cup of liquor.

    I never understood why people liked drinking that bitter stuff.

    "Still, to think you were actually one of us, Miss Mika."

    By the way, I had converted into my Fenris Form. I didn't know about those two, but any beastkin I haven't met before would surely view humans with hostility. I didn't need any idiots trying to mess around with me.

    "Not exactly. I was formerly a human. The one you see before you now came from the bloodline of an ancient creature, and I can swap freely between these forms."

    It wasn't exactly wise to reveal the origins of my power, but I've interacted with these people before. It's not too much of a far fetch to say that I trust them far more than I trust humans.

    "I see. In that case, you must have seen how the conditions in the human capital is, right?"

    I could see the unbridled fury in his eyes.

    "Yep. It was disgusting."

    "In that case, may I be so bold to ask for your help, once again? We could use someone as strong as you are, especially now that we are planning a very crucial operation."

    "Hang on a second. I'm not all that strong. I can barely keep myself alive, as it is."

    "Please. We are planning to start a large-scale event very soon, and the more hands we have, the better. Celine is good at infiltration, but I'll feel much better if she had a partner to go along with her."

    Hmm. If it's just infiltration, then I won't really mind. I daresay that when I want to hide, not many can detect me. Still, I don't really want to do it for free...wait.

    "I'll do it, but I've got a request. I'm going to need help seeking out one particular human."

    Even if they are just a rebel organisation, their information network must be quite broad, too. It'll be much faster than searching on my own.

    "In that case, it should be fine. Our network of spies isn't any more inferior than the Kingdom's, after all. In fact, we could probably do it right now."

    We shook on it, and I could see the old leopard show a rare smile.

    "Celine will help you pick out some outfits suitable for infiltration. After all..."

    He ran his eyes over my current outfit, chuckling.

    "I really doubt that a librarian's garb is going to make the top 10 list of espionage gear."

    Well, I must have been drunk from that liquor. From stopping an invasion, to looking for a girl, to joining an rebellion...what the heck was I doing, honestly?


    ???'s POV

    The table was set with dishes I cooked by myself, and the cake I baked with Father's help...but Father isn't back yet.

    I have to wait until he comes back.

    *Knock-Knock-Knock*

    Father is back~!

    I throw open the door, then jumped with all my might...right into the arms of a stranger.

    Holding me in a hug was an unfamiliar lady, with a hood pulled over her head. Despite the surrounding darkness, I could make out a pair of emerald green irises.

    "Are you George's daughter?"

    She knew my father's true name. Which means, she is one of his old acquaintances? I invited her inside.

    "My name is Jessica! Pleased to meet you, Miss...uh..."

    "Mikaze. Call me Mika."

    "Then, Mika, Father will be back soon, so you can meet with him then."

    "Oh. A cake...is today your birthday?"

    Yep! After I said that, I saw Mika wince slightly. Did she injure herself on the way here?

    "No, I'm alright. Here, since it's your birthday, take this."

    Mika handed me a polished dagger, with a brightly decorated sheath and a well furbished grip.

    "In this world, danger exists everywhere. Use this for your self defence, especially when your father isn't around."

    "Thank you, Mika! I'll cherish it properly~"

    For some reason, Mika's eyes have traces of guilt inside them...Still, Father sure is late. At this rate, it will be midnight before he gets back here...


    "Jessica, from the way this is going...I don't think your father will return tonight, so you should get some sleep soon. Do you mind if I come back again, tomorrow?"

    "No problem! Take care on your way out, Miss Mika!"
    I live by a simple set of values. As long as someone doesn't get in my way, I'll leave them unharmed. If they do, I'll kill them. Any assistance received will be reciprocated in kind.

    Therefore, I didn't feel much guilt over killing the mercenary. This world follows the law of the jungle, after all; the weak are destroyed by the strong. If I didn't kill, I'll be killed one day.

    However, Jessica's issue was entirely different. Her only living relative was her father, whom I just killed, and she was too young to fend for herself.

    What would be the right thing to do in this sort of situation...Should I bring her to the Library as well? I mean, since I already have Akane under my care, one more isn't going to make it much more different. How am I going to convince her to move, that is where the problem lies...Should I just confess about killing her father?

    ...No. I'll tell her about her father's death, but I won't tell her that I was the one who killed him. The matter of the Library Invasion was only known by the people who embarked on the expedition, and every single one of them is dead. Jessica knows absolutely nothing about it, and I'll ask Rufi to keep it a secret from Akane as well.

    Sorry, Jessica. I hate lying, but I also want to give you a good life, so I'll keep this matter a secret as long as possible. Forgive me.

    "You look like you're really troubled, nya."

    Midnight was the best time for infiltration, so Celine and I were both crouched on a roof. Using the height, we could see for a fair distance.

    Of course, my Enhanced Senses cheat let me see far more than that, but that's an irrelevant detail.

    "I do?"

    "Of course, nya. Your eyebrows are scrunched together, and you have a grim look on your face, much like Gerald does whenever I bring back dead mice to the base, nya."

    Putting aside the fact that he'll obviously frown if you brought carcasses back into the base...It was that obvious, huh.

    "Forget it...I'm reaping what I sowed, anyway."


    "That's not good, nya. If you keep all of your issues to yourself, you'll explode one day, nya."

    Oh, jeez, to think that I'm at the point where I'm taking advice from a half-cat...

    "Forget it. That's the building we have to infiltrate, correct?"

    "That's right, nya. The owner of that building is a slave trader. Apparently, he's one of the biggest slave traders around here. If we can steal his trading records, we can find out where our brethren were sold to, nya."

    To have steel bars covering every window, as well as anti-magic wards being drawn up on the walls...you'll have to be blind to not know that this place is suspicious.

    "So, what's the plan?"


    "I've made contact with one of the beastkin slaves inside, nya. They'll be opening up an entrance for us, nya."

    "Let's go, then."

    Both of us entered Stealth, and silently sneaked towards that building.

    ...
    Like Celine said, there was indeed an open pathway.

    "Ho ho ho, I've been waiting all evening for your arrival, ladies."

    Like I suspected, it was indeed a trap.

    The beastkin slave that Celine had worked with was lying on the floor, dead.

    "Celine...did you, by any chance, ask him to open up a window just depending on himself?"

    Celine nods, her sobs muffled by her mask.

    Seriously...without any special tools to help him, it would be a miracle if this had succeeded, you know...

    "Now now, ladies, I have the two of you surrounded. If you don't wish to be harmed, I'll advise you to surrender and come with me peacefully. After all..."

    The slave trader ran his eyes over the two of us, lust evident in his expression, as he approached us.

    "It'll be quite a pity to let your beauties go to waste---URGH!"

    The slave trader was sprawled on the ground, both hands cupped over his 'important area'.


    I may be a novice when it comes to combat, but I still know quite a bit of tricks. For instance, where to hit men to cause the most suffering possible.

    "Ball-busting Kick. Never expected to use that here."

    One of the guards tried sounding a bell.

    If this alarm gets out, forget this shop; we might practically be fighting all of the Kingdom's Knights. How do I stop it...ah!

    |Inhale, Winds, and create an airless void! Vaccum!|


    Random middle-school science teacher whose name I've forgotten, thanks for teaching me that!

    "Celine! Eliminate all of them now!"
    ...
    Haah~ Haah~ That was tiring...

    We managed to get out all the slaves currently in the shop, as well as the records of trade. Some guards tried to raise the alarm, but I managed to time all those Vaccum Spells perfectly, allowing us to get through undetected.

    Before we left, Celine set fire to the shop.

    "This place will never deal in slaves again, nya."

    "Celine...how do we get back to the base with so many people?"

    "Not an issue, nya. Elder should have arranged for a team to come extract us soon, nya."

    "Celine! You're alright!"

    Ah, that'll be the extraction squad, I assume. Gerald's the one in charge, huh? Despite his usually harsh words, he does really care about Celine's safety, it seems.

    I don't understand. Is love really that wonderful?

    "Well, it looks like this is where we separate, Celine. It's been enjoyable working with you."

    I turned to leave.

    "Mika! I know you prefer to settle most things yourself, but if you are ever conflicted over making a decision, always feel free to come look for me, nya. You know where to find me, nya!"


    I see. So that's how it is, huh. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll ever look for her to speak about my own matters.

    Everyone has a burden to carry, and I'll carry mine by myself, without the help of others. That's my nature.


    Morning of the Second Day, Jessica's House

    "Jessica, did you have a good sleep last night?"

    "Yeah! When Father gets home today, I can't wait to give him the scarf I knitted."

    Mika was obviously hesitating.
    "...Say, Jessica?"


    "Hm? Mika, you have a really guilty look on your face."

    "Jessica...I...don't think your father is ever coming back."

    "Eh?"

    "I'm...sorry. I found out about his death yesterday."

    "Haha. Mika, you sure know how to joke around."

    ...

    ...

    ...

    "It's not true. Tell me it's not true. Tell me you are joking around."

    "..."

    "Tell me it's all a joke! Why are you looking away? Tell me that it's a lie!"

    "He died while exploring some ruins yesterday. The entire group that went with him was wiped out, or so I heard."

    "No way...Then, the reason you came here last night..."

    "Yes. I wanted to check on you, his only daughter, and ensure that you are safe. I'm sorry, I can't do anything else..."

    "Noooooo! FATHER!"

    Mika's POV

    I just fed an innocent girl a big pack of lies. It sucked.

    Now, that same girl was crying in my embrace. It made me feel guilty. Although, even if I had a second chance, it was highly likely that I would have still killed him.

    Violence is not my favourite way of settling issues, but at the same time, I treat my own life as topmost priority. So, even if time somehow turned back, the only outcome of people who have entered the ruins...is death.

    I kill when I wish, where I wish. My actions are up to my own will, never to be bound, hindered, or obstructed by any external factors. That's the way I do things.

    Time Magic...can't I do something with that?
    ...

    First things first, I have to get Jessica to the Library to live; no one is going to be happy if she starves here alone. I tap Jessica lightly on the shoulder.

    'Jessica...now that your father isn't here anymore...do you want to come with me? I live quite far away from this place, but I don't mind taking care of you...for as long as you wish.'

    "Ok...Give me a moment to pack..."

    Within Rufilia's room, Akane's POV

    Mika brought back a young girl that was around my age.

    "And so, this is Jessica! She will be living here from now on, so get along with her, ok?"

    Un! I nodded.

    "As for these two, the younger one is Akane, and the older and grouchier looking one is Rufilia."

    [Mika, this one needs to speak with you. Outside.]

    As both of them left, I could not help noticing that Rufi was frowning, and Mika was looking guilty.

    Outside Rufilia's Room

    [Mika, is she...?]

    "Yes..."

    [And you brought her here? Are you insane?]

    "I...couldn't help it. Her father was killed by me after all..."

    [Does she know?]

    "Hm? Not for now."

    [You...you want to lie to her?]

    "C'mon, Rufi. It isn't lying...it's just..."

    [Not telling her the truth. Fine, this one understands.]

    "Thanks. I feel much better now."

    [If you are feeling better, stop hugging this one. This one just ironed her clothes, and you are creasing it with all that squeezing.]

    "Then, Rufi. I'll leave that matter to you. Tell me if she gets worse. If I end up having to do 'that', I will do it without hesitation."

    [Mhm. Go get some rest, you look terrible.]

    "No way. I'm always super cute, you know?"

    [...Get out of here. Don't make me regret agreeing.]

    Inside Rufilia's Room, Akane's POV

    "Say...Akane?"

    "Un?"

    "Is Mika...your elder sister?"

    "Oh? No, not really."

    "Why do you address her as Onee-sama then?"

    "Uh...I guess it's because she feels like a caring elder sister? She's really good to me, too."

    "I see."

    She isn't that talkative, huh? I look up just to see Rufi stepping back into the room. Almost as if she owned it. Wait, technically, she owns the entire library, so that's true.

    "Where did onee-sama go to?"

    [Mika got tired, so she's going to take a nap. Jessica, if you need anything, just inform this one.]

    "Ok..."

    [Akane, bring her to one of the spare rooms in the western wing. Remember to watch out for the bookshelves.]

    "Un."

    [Well, it's getting late, so turn in early. This one shall be going to bed soon, as well.]

    Is Jessica going to be alright?
    Jessica's POV

    Mika asked if I wanted to go live with her. After a bit of a daze, I agreed.

    I don't remember much about the journey, but it seemed that Mika was living in a library.

    When we got there, she introduced me to the other 2 occupants of the library: Rufilia, who appeared to be younger than her by 2 years, and Akane, who looked to be around my age.

    They were both really kind, offering me food and drinks even though I had stayed silent. Akane, in particular, tried to keep a conversation going between us, even though I had ignored her.

    Afterwards, Rufilia assigned me a room to stay in, amd asked Akane to guide me there. For some reason, she told Akane to watch out for the "bookshelves". Was she worried about Akane bumping into bookshelves?

    As it turned out, the bookshelves moved. They floated around the hallways, sending books flying about, while occasionally pulling in books that were flying around in the air.

    We got to my room without any problems. Akane told me that she was right next door, so I could call for her if I needed anything.

    Akane's POV

    I was awoken by the sound of crying. It was coming from Jessica's room. She was crying out for her father, but something was wrong. She wasn't waking up even after I shook her vigorously, so I woke both Rufi and Mika.

    Rufi was staring at Mika without saying a word, while Mika was avoiding her gaze. What on earth happened between those two?

    [Mika...]

    "I know..."

    The vagueness was the scariest of all. I didn't dare ask what Mika meant when she 'knew'.

    Mika's POV

    Dammit. This happened in the end, huh?

    I had promised to use 'that' if the situation worsened beyond a certain point; we couldn't afford to have Jessica retain her sad memories.

    Naturally, 'that' involved using Time Magic to remove all of her sad memories. Unfortunately, the only way to prevent her acting up again in this case...would be to completely remove Jessica's memories of her father, or to replace him with someone else.

    This feels quite questionable morally, but...we don't have much of a choice. Jessica, I'm sorry things had to end up this way.

    |With my words as the key, change the past and erase the deeds. Memory Replacement.|

    Well, I guess the problem is now solved. Still...I gave the peacefully sleeping Jessica a complicated look.

    I'll make this up to you someday.
    ...
    Well. The issue regarding this invasion is fixed, so...time to explore another book! It's been ages since I picked up 'Little Red Riding Hood'. This time, let's go with something from another country's folklore.

    Let's see, which of these would be good...The Tortoise and Rabbit Race? Nah, too childish. The Dream of the Red Chamber? Nah, too difficult. Journey to the West...nope...Ghost blows out the Lights...nope...Snow White...passable, but still no. Isn't there a novel in this pile that has sufficient depth without being too dry...?

    [Why not try this one then?]

    Rufi was holding out a book.《Romance of the Three Kingdoms》.

    "Eh? Rufi, you like this kind of stuff? I thought you didn't have much interest beyond taking care of the Library's affairs."

    [T-That's not it! This one only happens to enjoy this because the Shu Strategist inside is a very admirable person!]

    "So, in other words, Rufi likes older men? Wow, I didn't know you were this bold, Rufi. I'm impressed."

    [This one told you, that's not it! Well, this one is not saying that this one minds, but this one doesn't mean that this one doesn't mind either...]

    I watch on, warmly, as Rufi continued digging her own pit deeper and deeper*.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    [Listen, whatever you just saw here didn't happen, okay? Don't go around mentioning it to Akane or Jessica, seriously.]

    "Hai, hai, whatever you say, tsundere."

    [...This one will buy you some snacks in return for your silence.]

    "Okay. Consider it done."

    Now, back to the original topic at hand...Romance of the Three Kingdoms? I could probably pull this off---just have to be aware of the different traditions back then...actually, wait a second.

    "This isn't going to be like last time, riiiight~?"

    [...]

    Yep, completely saw through her...Rufi is a bit transparent, isn't she? Guess I'll pick another book instead.

    Historical section...Light novels? Wait, you mean to say that besides historical stories, this Library also keeps stuff like manga around?

    [There's a veritable pile over there...Labelled under the "Modern Day Stories" section. Mika, this one didn't know you were the type to enjoy reading manga...]

    "Hm? Whatever gave you that impression about me? I always prefer a good book, a comfy seat, and a mug of hot cocoa during the harsh winters."

    [How many of these 'light novels' and 'manga' have you read up til now?]

    "Um...I lost count at about 2000?"

    [Whoa...does this mean you know about 2000 different types of magic?]

    "Rufi, that reference was so obvious it was lame. Also, the manga here aren't grimoires; you can't learn magic simply by finishing a book*.

    By the way, Rufi..."

    [Don't talk to this one in that tone; it makes this one feel like something bad for this one is going to happen.]

    "Oh, it's nothing much, just that you have to take care of Akane and Jessica while I'm gone, okay?"

    [You little---!]

    *The Chinese saying goes; You dug your own pit, now you lie in it.

    *+1point if you got the reference.
    In the end, I decided to settle for a modern day novel. One of the typical 'Hero-Summoning' genre with a cheat protagonist.

    It had been my favourite type of novels back hen I was still alive...Oops, back when I was still living my first life. This time, however, I wasn't going to be the main character, nor a side character. I'm going in as myself, without any differences.

    [Nightmare Mode "The Maou and the Yuusha"(Author's Note: Doesn't exist, I made it up) has been selected. Role: Mika. Now teleporting...]

    I was sent to the top of a mountain, standing atop a ridge that overlooked the entire mountain. Below me, the capital city was ablaze.

    Please, I know this is Nightmare Difficulty, but you sure picked a great timing to sent me in. I recognised this place, of course. It was in the middle of the event "Capital City Assault" where the Demon General trashed the city with his underlings. During this event, the Hero and his party, which were caught up in the assault, suffered a loss in the form of one of their members---The Cleric.

    If I remembered correctly, this novel was written by a fledging writer, so the characters inside weren't excessively overpowered. Therefore, sending me here gives me lots of options to choose from: I can directly intervene to save the Cleric, indirectly intervene to help the Cleric, join the Hero Party after ensuing the Cleric dies, or join the Demon Army. After all, I can toggle between my human and Fenris forms, so it's no issue for either side.

    And my aim? To kill the Maou---and the Yuusha.

    So, to anyone who is feeling shocked, I already told you, didn't I? Every action of mine is done on a whim, such as saving Akane and Jessica, and therefore my choices reflect that strongly.

    A bit of a technical lesson here, but everyone is typically divided into 9 alignments, which affects their personality. Mine happens to be [Chaotic Neutral]. An additional bit of information here, Rufi is of the [True Neutral] alignment, which is why both of us share certain similarities.

    Like the name suggests, [Chaotic Neutral] characters stay neutral entirely on their own free will, and is capable of changing any time to another alignment. However, we also strive to keep things fair, which is why I will kill both the Maou and the Yuusha, to keep the power balance equal.

    Nobody said the Librarian had to be a saint or anything, so I guess I'll directly intervene to save the Cleric, then join up with the Hero Party. In this way, I can learn more about communicating with humans...

    ...And also, I can learn more about betrayals and backstabbing, in particular, with regards to how to lie smoothly and make use of other people.

    In my old world, I've seen many cases of people manipulating others just by making use of emotions, or other factors, to gain sympathy. Much as I hate to say it, in the current human world, the ability to lie and backstab with a straight face is one of the factors for achieving success.

    Since I'm going to need it someday, might as well start from here.


    The Capital City, The Cleric's POV

    "Stein! Watch your back!"

    "Got it! |Taunting Roar!|"

    "|Incinerate!|"

    "Claire! Behind you!"

    Eh?! When did he get behind me?

    'Die, foolish weakling. |Demonic Fang|'

    The General swung his scimitar. Stein was rushing, but he won't make it in time...I am going to die...Sorry, everyone...

    "Heh. A mere dog barking away in front of me...|Claw of Antares|."

    I opened my eyes, which had been shut out of fear, to watch as the head of the Demon General tumbled to the floor before me.

    "It seems that I made it in time. Thank goodness. Are you all right?"

    A girl that looked no older than 18 stood before me, having just kept her weapons. Against the backdrop of the rising full moon, she resembled a goddess of war.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Hero Party

    • Stein (Swordsman): Aged 17
    • Abel (Archer): Aged 16
    • Ceria (Mage): Aged 18
    • Claire (Cleric): Aged 16
    ...

    Made it in time. The demons were a lot weaker than I had thought.

    Now that I rescued the Cleric, who seems to be named Claire, the Hero Party have become less vigilant of me.

    No matter the era, first impressions matter, huh? It's a point worth taking into consideration when I do this kind of thing in future.

    Now we were sitting around a campfire, undergoing a round of self-introductions...which I already know, since I've read the novel already.

    And since I already know them, having to experience a round of self-introductions is killing me from boredom. If I gave my two cents about the Hero Party, it will be something like:




      • Stein, Swordsman, Incorporates fire element into his attacks. Correspondingly, he is a hot-headed idiot.



      • Abel, Archer, Incorporates wind element into his attacks. Not hot headed, but nothing goes on between his ears.



      • Ceria, Mage, Incorporates water element in her attacks. Specializes in Frost and Ice Magic. Correspondingly taciturn, but also quite caring.



      • Claire, Cleric, Incorporates light element in her attacks. Strong healer and supporter, but lacks defense. Warm and caring, quite smart, but has no combat experience.
    Basically, a party with generally high-skilled newbs with absolutely no clue how to fight. When I asked Stein about how the party formation goes, he replied:"Huh? Formations? Are those edible?"

    ...Forget it, I guess I'll teach them something during the short time that we spend together. After all, if everything goes on like normal, I don't want to think about how many close shaves this party experienced.

    I looked at my right hand, upon which rested a ring that Rufi had given me.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ring of Constraint (Rare Ring)



      • Allows the user to change how much of their stats they want to restrain.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Because my stats were too insane, and my control over my power was horrible, I had to depend on this ring to suppress my power to 10%. Otherwise, the situation I was in right now would be akin to asking a baby to drive a Ferrari. In that way, the ring helped, since sealing the majority of my power gave me better control over my body, allowing me to execute more complicated melee attacks.

    Still, the issues of seals have always been an interesting one for me. I mean, if anyone's watched those types of supernatural anime before, there's always bound to be a few lines that deals with seals. If someone is lucky enough to break my ring in the middle of a fight, I'll probably say something along the lines of: "This ring, used to seal in my immeasurable, irresistible power...has been broken."

    Just kidding. I'm not that immature.

    Even so, in my sealed state, I could overpower both Stein and Abel on a two-on-one fight, and I could fight the entire party to a draw.

    That was how much combat experience played a difference, compared to swinging a sword around with brute force.

    Well, let us all enjoy this peaceful journey while it lasts...after all, if memory holds true, the fires of the last war will be rekindled very soon.

    Mhm, the orc meat tastes just like regular pork. I love eating pork cutlet.

    Claire's POV

    The girl that rescued me called herself Mika. She was 18, older than me by 2 years. She had some strange habits, but she was also rather open and honest. She was really fond of eating orc meat, too.

    Her combat skills were insane, honestly. She could beat up both Stein and Abel at the same time, even when they fought her together. Despite that, she wasn't prideful---she even taught both of them some tips to improve, such as stances, positioning, and stuff like that.

    Her past, while she had kept it a secret, certainly hinted at her having a rough life previously. When we did self introductions, she refused to emphasize on her birth country when the topic was brought up. Stein, being an idiot, didn't realise her reluctance and kept bringing up the same issue, so Ceria silently stepped on his foot to shut him up. When he apologised, she said that "It's fine", but I could tell that it was a forced smile.

    I wonder what had happened to make her smile like that---she seemed downright lonely, as if she never had companions before. Still, she saved my life, so I won't pry into her personal matters.

    Tomorrow, we would reach the Fortress City, frontline of the war, to reinforce the human forces. Apparently, casualties are very high over there, especially with the demons attacking day and nigh. I hope Mika doesn't come to harm.
    We're almost there. The area where the novel's ending is set into sequence, Fortress City Olzer.

    The event that triggered this was pretty simple, [Assassination of the Princess]. During the visit to Olzer, the Hero Party failed to stop an assassination attempt on the Princess, caused by a human traitor, which resulted in Stein losing himself in righteous rage, and the subsequent storming of the Maou Castle.

    I mean, when your childhood friend and childhood sweetheart gets killed off one by one, it will be a miracle not to rage. Which is stupid---anger clouds your judgement.

    Still, since I saved Claire, theres a high probability that the Princess won't die this time, from her healing magic. Which means, Stein won't charge the Maou Castle, and the ending sequence won't activate.

    There is another way, though. Previously, the Princess was stabbed with a poisoned dagger, which caused her to die slowly from the poison effects.

    Poison doesn't work on me, due to my Race and my Hp value, and even in the worst case scenario, I have the Skill (Tenacious) ...Understand what I mean?

    From the interactions we've had the past few days, the Hero Party treats me as a part of the team already.

    When a team member expires right before you, and you are unable to do anything...I wonder how much despair and hatred it'll create?

    Time to put up a convincing act. It feels cruel to be playing around with emotions, but for the sake of my own future, pardon me.

    Claire's POV

    Mika reacted with curiosity when Olzer was in view of us...I wonder, did she never see a castle before?

    Still, I felt slightly uneasy, almost as if I was about to lose someone important to me. Because of that, I kept my guard up, but nothing happened when we reached Olzer.

    I was a fool to have let down my guard. When we reached Olzer Castle, I was surprised to see the Princess; it seemed that she was here to rally and bolster the troop morale.

    Because of the heavy security in the area, I made the mistake of relaxing. All of us were relaxed except for Mika, who was on alert.

    "It's ok, Mika. There aren't any enemies around here."

    "I know...but I have an unsettling feeling..."

    You too? I was about to confide with Mika regarding my own unease, when a shrill scream interrupted our conversation.

    "Uwahhhhhhhhhh!"

    "Princess?!"

    When we spun around to look at the Princess, who had been walking behind us with her attendants, what greeted us was a gory sight.

    The two knights that had served as her escort were both lying in a pool of blood, and her attendant William had seized her, with a knife in his hand stabbing towards her.

    None of us were able to react on time, watching the knife arc towards the Princess in slow motion...then someone dashed out from beside me.

    *Cha-* (Author's Note: If you know what the sound effect of a knife stabbing into flesh is, do tell me.)

    Mika had thrown herself between the knife and the Princess, and the knife stabbed her right in the heart.
    ...
    We were idiots. None of us deserve to be called "Heroes".

    From the beginning to the end, none of us realised that something was off, and we all stood there dumbly as Mika protected the Princess and got stabbed.

    Finally, Stein unfroze.

    "Mikaaaa!"

    Abel got William right between the ears with 3 arrows as Stein chopped off William's left arm, which he held the dagger with. Ceria froze his other arm with ice magic, while I ran to Mika.

    Our teamwork was flawless. Not that it mattered. Try as I might, I could tell it was hopeless---the dagger had gone too far in, and---I gasped---purple liquid had began flowing out from the wound.

    "Poison" rasped William. "Poison, taken from the claws of a Death Adder. It's already in her heart, too late to save her now, hahaha!"

    "Why? Why would you try to stab your own Princess?!"

    Stein was speaking in a voice I never heard before, his face pitch black...He's furious!

    "Kekekeke! Why...the demons are obviously going to win this war, so why stay on the losing side? Argh, if not for that brat, I would have succeeded! Still, I took one of you down with me! Hahahaha!"

    I quickly checked on Mika. Her eyes were wide open, and she was smiling. If not for the horrific stab wound on her chest, I would have simply believed that she was unharmed.

    The gradual slowing down of her breathing told me that she wasn't going to last much longer.

    "Say...the Princess...is safe, right?"

    "Idiot! Now isn't the time to worry about others! We need to get you some help, immediately!"

    "Haah...it's too late...for me...I can feel the poison...affecting my heart..."

    Mika lifted her right hand with effort, and I grabbed it with my own trembling hands. Her eyes were slowly closing.

    "Don't go to sleep! Stay awake, you hear me?! We are going to make sure you get better!"

    "Sleep? Haha...no way...I'm wide awake...you know?......For dinner...later, I...want to...eat orc..."

    Mika! Stay with us! If you want orc meat, there's plenty of it! Don't leave!

    I could see her struggling to keep her eyes open.

    "Hehe. It...was a good run...I'm...really happy that...I...got to...meet you...guys...But, I feel...really...sleepy...sorry..."

    Stein and Abel were both looking away, not daring to meet her gaze. Ceria was silently tearing up, and I could feel tears begining to flow down my cheeks as well.

    "It...was...really fun...I enjoyed...myself...very much...Goodbye...my friends..."

    I felt her right hand go limp, and her eyes closed completely. She was gone.

    Mikaaaaaa!

    Mika's Thoughts

    Success. Now we wait for them to bury me, and the ending will be set in sequence. I can't wait.

    No matter how I look at it, that was an award winning Oscar-worthy performance, heh heh. I really am all kinds of messed up, aren't I.

    Oh, by the way, the combined strength of the dagger strike and the poison...dealt no damage at all. It was all I could do to make sure that it actually stabbed me. Still, I suppose it made sense. The ring only sealed off my attacking power, but my defensive power, while not being the highest in the Legendary Realm, is certainly not low enough for any base dagger wielder to bypass.
    Claire's POV

    None of us remembered clearly what happened the next few hours.

    William had died from Abel's arrows, and the Princess had been traumatized, and subsequently fainted. Ceria had also fainted soon after, and both of them were taken to the infirmary.

    Technically, being a healer, my healing magic was needed, but every Knight I met had shrunk away. Apparently I had a really sorrowful look on my face.

    We didn't have anything to do, so Stein and Abel carried Mika to the room which was assigned to the girls, and set her on the bed.

    We tried our best not to notice the knife wound that was on her chest, or the pool of blood that had collected around her. Even so, she was smiling so happily that it hurt.

    Why? Why did the rest of us take so long to react? Why was my magic so weak? Why did we do absolutely nothing as she died?!

    It was too late to regret it. The only consolation I had was that, before she died, the solitary look that was in her eyes had disappeared.

    Except...I won't ever get to see her clear, emerald-coloured irises blink again, nor would I ever get to hear her gentle laughter again...I spent the rest of the day in the room, weeping.

    That evening, we held her funeral. As her coffin was lowered into the ground, Stein showed up, carrying a plate of orc meat, and gently set it before her grave.

    Mika had used to joke around that Stein's roasted orc was so good, she would even rise from the dead to eat it.

    After a while of waiting, the last hope that was in our hearts---holding on to Mika's joke---finally went out along with the setting sun, and we went back to our rooms.

    The room that I, Ceria and Mika shared, now seemed so empty since she was no longer here. Ceria was still in the infirmary. That night, I huddled under the covers of the king-sized bed alone, and cried myself to sleep.

    Mika's Grave

    I clawed open the coffin lid, and dug myself out of the ground.

    Ok. Whoever smeared embalming liquid on my face better not let me catch him. It stank in there.

    Also, who forcefully stuffed me inside that small coffin? It was too tiny, especially the chest region.

    I'm blessed with a good sized pair, so which genius decided to give me a coffin that was meant for a flat one? Huh?

    Thank god the people in this era don't have the habit of removing the organs, or changing the clothes of the dead.

    Because if somebody had tried to undress me, I would have killed him with wind blades and suffocation.

    Then I caught sight of a plate of roasted orc meat placed before my grave. Nice.

    Stein must have made it. I didn't expect him to be so thoughtful...Hmm, makes me feel like sparing them.

    The original plan has changed. I'll kill the Maou, then reveal the truth. If they resist, I'll kill them. Mhm, that's fair. If this took place in a novel, I'll be really hated by all the readers, now that I think about it.

    Actually, you know what? It's probably false. There's no way that someone is looking at my behaviour from the other side of a screen. Nah, definitely not.

    Well, time to clean up this place, then I'll go find a place to sleep...wait. Since they should all be asleep now, maybe I should go to my room?
    ...
    Since I already followed the Hero Party to Olzer, why not sleep in the rooms they assigned us? It's pretty comfortable, too.

    Although, there's only Claire sleeping in the bed. Where was Ceria?

    Whatever, I'm too tired to care. I made my way over to the bed, and gently snuggled up next to Claire. Ah, she woke up.

    "Ehh? Mika?"

    Goddammit. I have to shut her up and erase her memory before she exposes the fact that I'm still alive---why was she hugging me?

    "Hehe, so it's a dream, huh? It feels good to see you again, Mika~"

    Eh. This is confusing, but whatever. If she thinks that this is a dream, it could be quite convenient for me to mess around.

    I grinned at her. "You look terrible, honestly."

    "That's your fault! You died all of a sudden! I was so sad, you know!"

    "Yeah, I'm sorry and all that." Still....hehe. I returned her hug, locking us both in a tight embrace.

    "Now that I finally get to see you again, you are not allowed to leave so easily, okay! We are going to spend the night talking!"

    "Hm. Whatever you say, Hime-dono."

    "Now you are just poking fun at me! You are a horrible person---stop, it tickles~!"

    I was literally poking her. Since I was naturally curious about her size.

    Hmm...Not bad. Bigger than a certain Library's.

    Rufilia's Room

    [Achoo!...Did this one catch a cold?]

    Mika's current sleeping quarters

    "Uwah! Don't poke my assets!"

    No way, they feel really good, you know? Feels just like marshmallows.

    "Then, I'm poking yours in return!"

    That was pretty much what the two of us did for the next hour, giggling and rolling around on the bed.

    "Still, this is just a dream, huh...in the end, you will be gone tomorrow..."

    Claire really is missing me, huh? Somehow, killing her would be a waste...At this age, she could take care of Akane and Jessica too, which would help me slack off even further...hmm...

    "Say, Claire, do you want to go with me?"

    "Eh? To where?"

    "Where I live, of course. There's more than enough space for you to come live with me."

    "I really want to!...But, I have to do my job as the Cleric..."

    "So, if that issue was solved, you will come with me, then?"

    "Yeah! I'll follow you anywhere, even to the ends of the world!"

    That's good...wait a second. That doesn't really sound like a mere agreement...It sounded more like a confession of love...Please, no. I don't mind, but at your age it's downright illegal...not that I care about that.

    "H-Hey! That tickles! Stop it! Hahaha!"

    "Oh, my. Look at the time, I have to go soon. And you need to get some sleep or you won't be getting up in the morning."

    "Unnnn...you definitely have to come see me in my dreams tomorrow, Mika!"

    "Got it." Well, |Gentle wind, blow and bring forth the songs of slumber. Lullaby| Goodnight, Claire.

    Alright, the plan has changed even further. Let's go visit the Maou.
    That wasn't easy. It was just plain bad.

    I took off the Ring of Constraint, and ended up slaughtering right into the Maou's Castle. Small fries? Gone. Demon Generals? Vaporized. Evil dragons? Rekt.

    The Maou? Uh, yeah, that's him over there, lying in about 50 or so pieces. Let's just say that I went over-'bored' with my storm magic.

    I claim legitimate self-defense.

    This was the Maou's army...right? I didn't attack a collection of drunkards, did I?
    Whatever. The problem has been solved, so the Hero Party should be able to disband now.


    Let's go back and cuddle Claire some more. This took a lot less time than I expected, and I'm still sleepy.

    Naturally, due to the effects of |Lullaby|, Claire didn't wake up when I snuggled next to her again.

    Next Morning, Claire's POV

    I woke up feeling a lot better. Somehow, that dream I had about Mika made me feel a lot happier.

    I could have sworn that whatever happened in the dream occurred in real life too...after all, I could make out a unique scent that I was sure had not been present when I fell asleep---the smell of a gentle breeze blowing past a grassland; Mika's smell.

    Though, it was rather embarrassing to recall the events in the dream...just thinking about it made me blush. Jeez, I didn't expect Mika to be that bold.

    Still, if it was possible, I would like to see her again tonight.

    Afterwards, Stein gathered all of us in the Hero Party, and declared that he was going to storm the Maou Castle. Abel agreed without further arguments, while Ceria agreed after some deliberation. Naturally, I agreed too, and we set off for the Maou's Castle shortly afterwards.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    "Stein, are you sure this is the correct direction? We haven't seen a demon, living or otherwise, and it's been almost 6 hours of walking."

    "Yeah, it is the correct path. Look! It's that tree over there! We are heading in the correct direction after all. Still, the lack of demons do unsettle me..."

    "Waiting tactics? Until we're tired. Then ambush."

    Yeah, what Ceria said makes sense. Let's take a break for now, since it will be dangerous if we get attacked while being completely exhausted.

    "Look, smoke!"

    I glanced towards where he was pointing, and sure enough, a thick grey cloud was covering the skyline beyond the tree.

    "Smoke equals fire. And fire equals people. Let's go and say hi."

    "Finally! We found some demons!"

    We did find demons. Except none of them were alive.

    "What in the---?"

    Before our eyes was doubtlessly the scene of a massacre; demonic beings had been dismembered and chopped up into numerous pieces, and the stench of blood was enough to make one throw up. The ground was literally coated with demon blood.

    "Who---or what---did this?"

    I hesitantly approach a demonic corpse, whose skull had been cracked wide open, for a closer look. The way he died seemed rather familiar to me.

    Not only was it's skull shattered, the neck was hanging at an awkward angle, making it obvious that it was snapped off. For someone to shatter the skull and snap the neck of a demon at the same time, the control over the force used in the strike must be very good. A pugilist?

    As to who did it...I scanned the entire area. Most demons here were chopped into pieces by wind magic, and some were crushed. And the only one I know who utilizes both wind magic and fists...was a certain girl who had saved me.

    Mika's POV


    Looks like Claire is beginning to have her suspicions; which makes tonight the most important night for me.

    I have to find out whether she likes me enough to betray the Hero's Party, and if not, then I can only kill all of them. After all, I did massacre a large portion of the demon army, so the human side also needs nerfing, no?

    To be honest, I wasn't planning to kill that many demons initially. I just planned to kill the Maou, and nobody else. But then, halfway after I had removed the ring, the desire to slaughter had taken over, and I had started a massacre.


    Let's see how this ends up.

    Night time, Claire's POV

    I wasn't able to sleep.

    What we discovered in the afternoon had affected me significantly---Mika might be still alive.

    But then, why would she be here if she was alive? Was she running recon? Or...was she working for the demons?

    I refused to think about the second possibility; there was no way she would work with demons. Looks like I can only ask her when she shows up again.

    Sure enough, a shadow walked into my tent after some time, and quietly laid down beside me.

    "Mika...?"

    "Mhm? What is it?"

    "You are...alive, right?"

    "I reckon I am."

    "But the poison dagger stabbed right into your heart...How are you alive? Don't tell me, necromancy?"

    If it was necromancy, then the Mika behind me was probably under someone else's control. In that case, I can only struggle for my life if her aim was to kill me...Thinking thus, I realized that Mika's face was suddenly right before me.

    "Silly girl...do resurrected corpses talk?"

    So she was still fully herself...thank goodness...but I still have some suspicions to confirm.

    "Hey, Mika? Were you the one that killed the demons on the way to the Castle?"

    She stuck out her tongue. "Bleh, looks like I got found out; how did you know?"

    "The demons that were killed by a blunt force to the head also had their necks snapped---that meant that the killer had very good control over their own power. That is impossible for people utilizing blunt weapons, so fist fighters were the only possibility remaining. Also, in the entire Kingdom, the only one who has the ability to one-hit a demon with fists alone is probably you."

    "Mhm. Very astute."

    Mika's smile had changed. From gentleness and a hint of mischief into something darker---a satirical smile. Bloodlust filled her eyes, and I was shocked to see her emerald irises turning crimson.

    This was her true face...everything before was just an act. However, revealing that act to me...was she planning to silence me?

    "That depends on what your decision is, Claire. The offer I previously made still stands, you know?"

    "I would be lying if I said I wasn't tempted, but...I have my job as the Cleric, so I can't. Sorry."

    Contrary to my expectations, Mika didn't kill me. Rather, she grinned, her smile back to being good-natured, and she gave me a hug, before turning to leave.

    "Be careful in the Castle tomorrow, Claire. Lots of traps lying around."

    Eh?

    (Author's Note: Now that I think about it, Claire is messed up in her own way, too.)
    (Author's Note: So, this situation has two outcomes---one good, and one bad. This chapter is about the bad outcome.)
    Claire kept my secret properly? Great. Looks like she does have intentions of coming with me, after all.


    Well, after they discovered that the Maou is dead, I guess I'll show up to ask for her decision? This way, I can gain a new friend, and I don't have to kill off the Party.

    Hm? I just referred to her as friend, didn't I...This is why I said that interacting with humans messes up my thinking.

    I don't entirely mind it, though. Well, they are entering the Castle, so I guess I should prepare to follow them.

    |Spring breeze, blow a gust that hides my footsteps. Silence|

    I could pull it off without magic, but I hate suppressing my footsteps intentionally. However, hunting and sneak attacks are my specialty, so I have more than enough skill to keep my presence hidden.

    Hoh, they got past the traps at the Main Hall Entrance...it's about time to make my move.

    Claire's POV

    I was extremely distracted the following morning.

    What did Mika mean when she told us to be careful of traps? The most dangerous things in the Maou Castle are it's inhabitants, you know?

    That misunderstanding cleared itself up when we entered the Maou Castle.

    First floor. There was practically no spot that wasn't covered in blood.

    Second floor. The remains of Demon Generals were all found here. None of them were alive, and most were vertically bisected, leaving the guts and intestines spilling out. Ugh.

    Third floor. The infamous Evil dragons that the Maou kept, each strong enough to level an army...were all neatly arranged in a big, grotesque heap of corpses.

    Throne Room. We couldn't find anyone, until Stein tripped on a hand. Then we found the Maou's butchered corpse, split into tiny pieces.

    Mika was too brutal. Does this mean that if I reject her, this would happen too?

    "Yo~!"

    It came from behind me. The voice I dreaded. Mika was standing behind us.

    "Mika! You're alive! That's......"

    The only difference? Mika's eyes were dyed red like the time I saw her previously, and this time she wasn't unarmed. On her arms were two gauntlets that were bigger than my face, and they glowed red and blue. Wolf ears had appeared on her fringe, and a wolf tail had grown behind her. Her entire body surged with electricity.

    She gave an elegant bow."Pleased to meet you, my name is Mikaze, Storm Fenrir."

    Was this what despair looked like? The once friendly and clear eyes were now murky red, revealling the utter lack of mercy within them, while also plainly advertising her intention to slaughter.

    It felt like we were standing in the presence of an alpha predator.

    Excerpt taken from Rufilia's Encyclopedia

    A Storm Fenrir, a Legendary-ranked Mythical Beast. Even within the category of Legendary Races, it ranked the top in terms of power and speed.

    The proper term to refer to it would be a "Fragile Speedster", dealing out high amounts of damage with overwhelming speed, but are unable to take much damage in return.

    For a Storm Fenrir, however, the weakness in Hp was only relative to it's high Atk and Spd stats; it was nigh impossible to kill, even with repeated rounds of Grandmaster Ranked Magic.

    Their irises are coloured according to the element they have the highest affinity with; for most Storm Fenrirs, that would be lightning blue, however, they turn red when the Fenrir is emitting bloodlust.

    Due to their Legendary Status, they do not feel such a keen desire to rampage compared to their lesser kin, but they do not mind slaughter when they are provoked, or moody.

    The easiest way to fight a Storm Fenrir is: Just don't. Retreat as fast as possible, and hope that it doesn't take an interest in you. If its characteristic red eyes show...get as far away from it as possible.

    Claire's POV

    At that time, I had no way of knowing about Storm Fenrirs, but my instincts were screaming at me to run. The hostility was so obvious that even Stein recognised it.

    Mika was grinning sardonically as she met my gaze. I could feel her asking the same question as she did the previous night.

    "Do you want to come with me?"

    My brain and my instincts were screaming at me to reply in the affirmative. And I told her, in the presence of the entire Party, "No."

    Mika's expression froze for a brief second.

    Mika's POV

    No?

    She didn't?

    Impossible. The Maou is dead, the Party could disband right now, so why no?

    "I'm sorry, Mika. I just...can't."

    I could hear the apology in her voice. It irked me even further. So, you aren't keeping your promises any longer, huh?

    Very well then. Since you broke your promises, I'm breaking mine.

    I couldn't think straight at that moment.

    Humans. Fickle and untrustworthy. Turning on their own promises at their own fancy. Burning the bridge after they cross it. I hate people like that. They deserve to be killed---no. They deserve to be driven mad, tortured, and then dismembered in the most horrific manner possible.

    At the sight of Claire avoiding my gaze, the last vestiges of reason within me snapped.

    Kill. Murder. Slaughter. Massacre them all.

    I slipped off the Ring of Constraint.

    Claire's POV

    I was running for my life, scrambling down the hallways of the Maou's Castle. What was chasing me wasn't the Maou, but an insane Mika.

    Mika scared me more than the Maou did. Even demons didn't behave as...demonically compared to Mika.

    After I rejected her, her sardonic smile had disappeared for a moment. She had stared at me in shock.

    The next second, her stiff expression was replaced with a malevolent and deranged grin, all of her canines showing. I could see the reason, the sanity in her eyes disappearing.

    "Heh heh heh."

    Run. We have to get away from here. Just as I was about to turn and warn my friends, Mika disappeared.

    *Swish*

    Behind me, Stein had his head punched off.

    *Swish*

    Abel had his heart torn out of his ribcage.

    *Swish*

    Ceria had a gauntlet sticking out of the front of her chest. Mika had impaled her from behind with a knife hand.

    At that point, fear overcome me, and I fled, not daring to look behind. I was afraid of what I would see behind me...that I would glimpse a savage beast leering at me.

    "You can run, but you can't hide, Claire~"

    I really regretted turning down her offer. I had promised her that I would go with her, but I broke my promise in the end.

    "My, my, feeling regret? Heh heh heh. Sorry, but it's too late for that, darling~"

    I ran directly into Mika, who had suddenly appeared before me. She then wrapped her arms around me firmly...was she giving me a hug?

    *Creak*

    My chest suddenly started being compressed by a horrific strength. She...Mika was planning to crush me to death!

    Ugh, I can't breathe! I tried struggling, but to no avail. Mika's grasp was like iron.

    "It hurts, doesn't it? Let me tell you this; a broken promise hurts even more than this."

    *Snap*

    2 of my ribs shattered; I coughed out blood directly onto Mika's face, but her expression remained the same. Rather, her grip strengthened further.

    *Snap*

    My other ribs cracked. In the midst of my pain, I made eye contact with Mika.

    There was utterly no trace of emotion within her eyes. It was like staring at a smiling doll.

    *Crack*

    My spine broke. I coughed up blood, a sizeable amount of it, which slowly dripped down Mika's front.

    My vision was blurry, and I could tell that my own end was drawing near. Mika still had the exact same expression that she wore previously---A look of indifference. Still, as my vision darkened, I could see a single tear trailing down her left cheek, mingling with my blood. Then---Mika let go of me completely.

    I crashed against the harsh and cold stone floor, twitching. What breaths I could muster was becoming laboured, and painful.

    Sorry, Mika...I shouldn't have hurt your feelings...

    My last vision was Mika standing over me, a gigantic red fist heading directly for my head. There was the sound of bones cracking, and then I saw nothing more.

    Fortress City Olzer, Months later

    The war drew to a close. The demons retreated, and the human side claimed victory.

    However, the Hero Party that had set out to kill the Maou never returned. The retreat of the demons suggested that the Maou was dead, but no one was brave enough to venture into the demons' castle, where the Maou had resided previously before the war ended.

    That was because scouts had disappeared around the forest that surrounded the Maou Castle, and their bloodstained remains would be washed up near Olzer by the river.

    All of the journals kept by the scouts were shredded and torn, and had dried blood stuck onto them, hinting at their owners' similarly grisly fate.

    However, what all the reports had in common would be the first few pages of writing:

    [There was a girl living alone in the forests, near the abandoned castle. She had unusual black hair which hid her eyes, yet she was very friendly. She appeared to not have much interaction with the outside world, judging from how she questioned me about 'the sharp stick on my back' (the shortsword). When I asked her where she lived, she gestured at the Castle, before inviting me inside to rest.]

    On the same night, each month, from the ruins of the Maou Castle, there would be the howls of a wolf, accompanied by fierce winds and thunder.
    Mika was staring directly at me, the unasked question floating in between us.

    I tried to get my thoughts in order.

    Since the Maou is dead, the Party can be disbanded, and we can go on our separate ways. That means I have no problems accepting Mika's proposal.

    However, I had realised it the previous night. Mika was two-faced. Her care for me was genuine, at least, but since she's showing open hostility here, that also means we aren't at the point of being "best friends".

    Which means, she has no qualms killing all of us. And there's the fact that she was holding back during our spars, which means she was a lot stronger than we thought. If we fought her here, she would hang us all out to dry.

    ...I don't have much of a choice, do I? If I said no here, we are all going to be killed. In that case,

    "I'll agree, so please let the others off."

    "Claire, that choice of words makes me sound as if I am a villain, you know?"

    Haah...Goodness me. At least your sense of humour hasn't changed much...

    "Eh? Didn't Mika die? How is she here?"

    Stein...Read the mood...

    Mika, why are you looking at me like you want me to explain? Even now I don't understand your motives, so how am I supposed to explain?

    "Ehhh? Claire, you don't understand me either?"

    Of course noooot!

    "Um...Well...Simply put, it was just a prank, so don't worry."

    *Don* Everyone collapsed.

    That was way too much of a carefree answer, Mika...

    *Sou-*

    Mika abruptly dodged the arrow that was fired at her. Wait, Abel, what are you doing?

    "Necromancy! Everyone, get back. Mika is probably under the control of black magic!"

    Wait! Abel! Use your brains a little! Since when are the undead able to talk? You too, Stein! Why are you nodding to his statement? Even Ceria is...wait...I feel really light-headed...

    Someone cast sleep magic on me?

    This isn't good...Mika, run...

    Mika's POV

    Heh. Looks like they revealed their true colours at last.

    The world of the novel that I was currently in; it had a unique ending. On the surface, the humans appeared to have won the war, but the truth was that both Stein and Abel had been corrupted by arch demons before they stormed the Maou Castle.

    Demonic Possession works slightly differently here. In this case, whatever negative emotion you feel strongly for would attract demons of that emotion.

    For example, Stein had originally been filled with anger at the Princess's death in the original novel, which resulted in him being possessed by a Wrath Demon. On the other hand, Abel had a not-so-healthy crush on Ceria since the beginning, so he was possessed by a Lust Demon.

    And now the two of them had shown their true colours, having knocked out both Claire and Ceria.

    "S-s-sorry about this-s-s Mika, but you are going to have to die here."

    "Enough talk. What's the use of chatting to a mere human?"

    "Oh? Mere human?"

    "Yes-s-s. The two of us-s-s are archdemons-s-s you know? You s-s-stand no chances-s-s agains-s-st us-s-s."

    How many times have I heard this kind of talk again? Guess the weakest dog does bark the loudest, huh.

    "Arrogant human! Die!"

    That's quite enough of this farce.

    "!!!"

    I revealed the tiniest bit of my aura, just to let them understand my other identity. I mean, if I'm going to use my identity as a Ruler of Hell, might as well use it to it's maximum potential, right?

    To be honest, it's more of a failsafe. I stand no chances against two Arch Demons directly, so the only way to win was to borrow the power of an Arch Devil. Cheating? I prefer to call it strategy.


    "A S-s-sloth Archdemon? No wonder."

    "I have quite a busy schedule to keep to, so I would appreciate it if you two could get lost right now."

    "Hah! Did you think you could beat the two of us now that we are both in our Archdemon forms? We will tear you apart!"

    At that, Stein charged me with his sword, which was clad in roaring flames, while Abel fired wind-charged arrows continuously.

    I really don't understand their arrogance. Since when was it set in stone that having an advantage in numbers will guarantee victory? Won't humans always win then, going by that logic?

    Whatever. |Domain of Nihility|

    "A domain?! Wait...you...you..."

    "Shut up." I gave Abel a right straight with Tsukuyomi, and his head exploded like a rotten pumpkin.

    Stein backed up, realising that he wasn't my match.

    "I'm sorry! Lady Belphegor! Please spare this one's life!"

    "Mhm."

    "I swear, I'll risk my life to fulfil your demands!"

    "Mhm."

    "Please! I'm willing to give you everything that I have!"

    "Mhm. Not a bad resolve, but...No."

    "Ehh?!"

    "You shouldn't have tried to touch what was mine. The penalty for doing that...is death."

    "Wait! If you kill me, my master will not let you off easily."

    "..."

    "My master is the Almighty Ruler of Rage, Satan! You better let me go, or---"

    "Shut the hell up. A mere Arch demon with the likes of you dare to threaten me, a Ruler of Hell?"

    "Uh..." (Author's note: He realised he f**ked up epicly)

    "You wanted to fight, didn't you? Very well. I'll show you what real magic looks like."

    If I had previously accepted the bloodline of a Fenrir, now, I had accepted the demonic inheritance that I had been forcibly given. Some unknown external force seemed to accede to my demands, guiding me on the incantation of a spell.


    |And the Lord has decreed, for he who does not work, does not eat. And from henceforth on, any action you take will be burdened by the sins you have committed, and any judgement you make will be plagued by indecision. You will feel like dying every minute of your worthless life, but you will not be able to get the death you seek. Origin Curse: Acedia.|

    A really vicious curse, even if I say so myself. But that's to be expected. Belphegor is the Sin of Sloth. It might not like to exert any effort in a fight, but if it really comes to that point, Belphegor's strategy is to ensure that the opponent never gets back up.

    "Now, get lost, and bring this message to your Master."


    |Satan. Ruler of Wrath. I care not for how you'll choose to act, upon seeing this waste of a demon before you. However, if you ever make a move against my kin, you can have my word that I will personally rip you to shreds, regardless of what it takes. This I swear, on the shores of the Cocytus.|

    With that, I sent the wrath demon scrambling. Trying to scare me with the name of a Fellow Ruler of Hell? I hate anyone who tries to do that. Cowards that only dare to borrow the authority of others should all perish in the flames of hell...through, can demons die from hellfire?

    Never mind, I'll set this issue aside temporarily. Now, I guess I'll heal both Ceria and Claire, then kidnap...I mean, bring Claire over to the Library. But, first things first, I have to get all the important stuff done...

    Time to take a nap!
    I hate dealing with the aftermath of situations like this. Especially demonic possession, since it by itself is an iffy preposition, and I don't want to expose the fact that I'm a partial demon either.

    Hmm...this is a tad cruel, but |Time, bend yourself to fulfil my whims. Alternate Reality|.

    I cast the spell on Ceria. Perfect. Now, when she wakes up, what she remembers will be:

    1. After we reached the Maou Castle, we fought all the way into the Throne Room.
    2. During the fight with the Maou, Claire was vaporized by the Maou's magic, and I was knocked unconscious by a falling rock.
    3. When I woke up, everyone else, including the Maou, was dead.
    I even modified the crime scene...I mean, shifted the corpses of Stein and Abel to make it look as if they had died after killing the Maou. I also had to erase all traces of Claire's presence to ensure that the faked memory was believable. Then I hid Claire in a room upstairs, and gently woke Ceria.

    I wiped her memories of me being alive, so there's no worries there, either. Sure enough, Ceria took in the scene of devastation, 'remembered' what happened, and started tearing up.

    I'm sorry you have to carry all the burdens by yourself, Ceria. For Claire's sake, please hang in there. I also took the liberty to boost your mana pool as a form of compensation.

    Soon enough, Ceria got up, and started heading towards Olzer. Since the demons on the way have all been slaughtered, she should reach Olzer safely.

    Now...my role in this story is over. Let's go back!

    [Nightmare Mode 'The Maou and the Yuusha' has been completed. You have received: Elite Pugilist (Class), 500 Mana Crystals, 2 Skill Points, The Saint's Devotion (Legendary), Deviant (Title), Walking Disaster (Title), Ruler of Patience, Azrael (EX Skill). Due to completion of Nightmare Mode, an extra 500 Mana Crystals and 2 Skill Points are awarded.]

    Uh...Rufi is really going to cry when she learns about this, isn't she.

    1 EX Skill, 2 Titles, and 1 Legendary Equip. She'll sulk for a week.

    Still...

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Saint's Devotion (Legendary Staff)

    • Blessing of the Saint (Passive): Healing and Support Magic effects are tripled.
    • The Exalted One (Passive): Boosts user's Mp and Int values by a ridiculous amount.
    • Pride of the Empire (Passive): Summons the spirits of past Paladins to defend you. No upper limit.
    • Faith (Passive): As long as you believe, it shall happen.
    • Guardian's Belief (Active): Once a day, you can use any Grandmaster Magic once. Stacks up to 5.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Let's get this straight. Of the 5 of us, only Claire is a magic user. The rest of us can use magic too, but we are mostly melee-oriented. This Staff is perfect for her. Way too perfect.

    If she uses this staff, I can already foresee her becoming a walking hospital...one that can summon a Legion of Paladins.

    Next up...

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    《Deviant》(Hidden Title)
    • Abnormal thinking processes: Your resistance to status effects increase.
    《Walking Disaster》(Hidden Title)
    • You have a penchant for causing trouble. Atk increases proportionally with level.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rude. I'm not that bad, okay?

    Rather, since when was I a deviant? How come I didn't know anything about it?

    Haah~ Last of all is...

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ruler of Patience, Azrael (EX Skill)

    • Passive (Passive): Less likely to be provoked or taunted.
    • Wisdom of the Ages (Passive): Grants the ability to access 2 other branches of magic, at the Master Level.
    • Peerless Mage (Passive): Grants Chantless Ability---can cast magic without chanting. Massively boosts Int.
    • Forced Rest (Active): Forces target to take a short nap. Target cannot resist it's effects. One use per day.
    • Grants the title《The Patient One》(Hidden): Projects a holy aura around you, identifies you as "Azrael"
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    My status is slowly growing more and more ridiculous...
    ...
    Alas, I got even busier after I returned to the Library.

    Apparently, both Jessica and Akane missed me, and Rufi was reaching the end of her rope. After all, I had been gone for 2 whole days, according to the Library time.

    Even worse, Rufi apparently fell sick after I returned, so I had to deal with:


    • Rufi's flu and undone paperwork.
    • Akane's tears
    • Jessica's memory gaps
    • Claire who was still unconscious
    Forgive me, I'll be sure to be less pre-occupied in future...Now I felt highly appreciative of how Rufi had managed to hold on for 2 whole days.

    Frankly, it wasn't as difficult as I expected. The only things that had killed me was the cooking and the paperwork; according to Jessica, Rufi couldn't cook an edible dish to save her life.

    I guess Libraries have it tough too, huh...

    The scariest thing was the paperwork; since Rufi had her hands full with the kids for the entire time, her paperwork stacked up to ridiculous amounts. Between filling in all the documents, taking care of Jessica and preparing the meals, I nearly went insane; even my high Def wasn't able to stop my Hp values from emptying out. I mean, after my first life, I really didn't want to see paperwork ever again.

    Thank god Claire woke up the second morning and took care of preparing meals. I truly felt that her presence was a blessing. On the 5th morning, Wednesday, Rufi finally recovered, and I settled Jessica's issues.

    According to Rufi: [The pause feature exists for a reason!]

    I'm sorry, I'll never do this again; gomen, gomen.

    Still, Claire was surprisingly good with kids despite being only 16, huh? She played with Akane when I was buried under documents, thus giving me some breathing room. The only drawback was that Akane had begun following Claire everywhere instead.

    My position as honorary Onee-san was in danger...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    On Wednesday night, we had a giant feast.

    Just kidding, we didn't actually.

    Still, I managed to get Claire settled in, and she was officially accepted as a resident here, so there was now 5 of us.

    Just enough to form a party of our own. In preparation for the next invasion, we made a detailed plan to deal with the intruders.

    "For this week's invasion, Operation Tabletop, our tactic will be: Leaving everything to Rufi. Meeting adjourned!"

    "Yay!"

    "Yay!"

    "Y-Yay..."

    [What'd you mean by leaving everything to this one?! It's your job to clean up invaders!]

    "Aw, come on now. I just finished taking care of that mess, you know? Give me a break."

    [Who's fault was it that the mess was created in the first place?! And the invasion is Friday, not tomorrow! There's enough time for a break!]

    "Rufi, where I'm from, there's a saying: "Clean up your own messes." Sometimes, you just have to take one for the team, you know?"

    [This one marvels at how shameless you can get, telling this one to clean up your mess...]

    "Teehee~ You found out, huh?"
    Before that, there was a really pressing issue.

    The others don't have any other spare Races, and therefore they don't have enough strength. I looked at Rufi expectantly.

    [Uh....]

    *Jiiii~*

    [Fine...This one will make scenario and story dungeons available to them, too, okay?]

    "Thanks, Rufi! That's a great help! So, everyone, go ahead and complete the Tutorial quest, okay? They give you some really good stuff!"

    There was a time when I thought that.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    How did this end up happening?

    I took a glance around me, at the other 3 who have returned from the tutorial quest.

    Akane: Harbinger of Gluttony, Beelzebub

    Jessica: Herald of Chastity, Uriel

    Claire: Herald of Kindness, Ramiel

    All 3 of them got an EX Skill each...and all of them are equally overpowered...Even though Heralds and Harbingers are one grade below a true Ruler of Sin or Virtue, they still get to draw upon the power belonging to them.

    I forgot to mention this previously, but Rufi had a Unique Skill, too. Her's was [Judge of Candor, Camael] derived from [Ruler of Temperance, Camael]. Additionally, in order not to be outdone, I levelled up my [Ruler of Patience, Azrael] to [Smiling Guillotine, Azrael].

    Forget upgrading or Race fusion...I think everyone here can stop an invasion solo. No, seriously, how did the 5 of us end up with 2 of the deadly sins and 4 of the heavenly virtues among us?

    "Well, let's not derail from the topic any further...did any of you get an extra Race?"

    "I got the Elf Race."

    "I didn't get anything."

    "I got the Fox Race..."

    "Cheer up, Akane. You already belong to the Werewolf Race, and that is a powerful Race, you know?"

    [Says the Storm Fenrir...]

    "Ahem...anyways, Claire and Jessica, the two of you are both of the Human Race, correct? You should merge the Race you just got with your own---it grows stronger."

    "Um...ok...I'll go first then."

    Claire entered the Fusion Chamber as a Human, and came out as a Fox-Demihuman (Uncommon). Naturally, upon discovering that it could also be imbued with an element, she gave it her Light Element Magic, and her Race evolved into Kitsune (Rare).

    Next was Jessica. She entered as a Human and exited as a Elf (Uncommon). Similarly, she imbued it with her innate Darkness Element and evolved it into a Drow (Rare).

    3 Rare Races, 1 Legendary, and 1 unclear. This team is looking good...for now. As long as we are still in the Realm of Mortals, any of us are nigh invincible.

    Still...Claire and Jessica, both of you are going to need combat gear. Jessica needs a weapon, too.

    "Oh? Don't worry, I got a pair of pistols of Epic rank from the scenario dungeon I did just now."

    *Sound of glass shattering*

    Yeah...let's just...ignore Rufi over there. She looks like she'll bite anyone that tries to talk to her now.

    Well, I'll just go pick up another set of Magic Leather Armour from the shop later for Jessica...Actually, no, I'll bring her along.

    But still, our getup is quite powerful. No doubt this team will grow powerful enough to slay dragons with a finger in the future. Although, all this work makes me really tired.

    Yosh~! Let's visit a hot spring!

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ruler of Gluttony, Beelzebub (EX Skill)

    • Devouring (Passive): What you eat is directly converted into health, or mana.
    • Bottomless Pit (Passive): User can directly eat food without having to open her mouth. Living beings can be consumed too.
    • The Cry of the Hungry (Passive): When hungry, stats are all boosted by an insane amount. Every time user is completely full, a +1000 bonus will be granted to all stats.
    • Double Walker (Active): Summons an exact copy of yourself with the same skills. No summon limit.
    • Grants the Title《The Hungry One》(Hidden): Projects a demonic aura, and identifies user as 'Beelzebub'
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ruler of Chastity, Uriel (EX Skill)

    • Oathkeeper (Passive): For every oath you keep, your stats grow by a massive amount.
    • The Guardian (Passive): You can call upon any and all shields that have existed since time immemorial, including Legendary-ranked shields, to guard yourself and others.
    • Defender of Purity (Passive): Absolute immunity against unclean species, including the dead, the undead, and black mages.
    • Innocence (Active): Purges Corruption from a person, returning them to their proper mental state. No usage limit, but effectiveness depends on user's own strength.
    • Grants the Title《The Solemn One》(Hidden): Projects a holy aura, and identifies user as 'Uriel'
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ruler of Kindness, Ramiel (EX Skill)

    • The One Who Cares (Passive): As long as someone is in need of aid and healing, your stats will steadily grow. No upper limit.
    • Blessing of the Light (Passive): Grants Max Mastery in Holy Magic, cuts the chant time for healing spells into half.
    • She who brings Warmth (Passive): Your presence alone drives away negative effects, and spread hope to people around.
    • Motherly Miracle (Active): Cures a disease, status effect, or magic effect, no matter how severe or powerful the source was from. One use per day.
    • Grants the Title《The Kind One》(Hidden): Projects a holy aura, and identifies user as 'Ramiel'
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Judge of Candor, Camael (Unique Skill)

    • Eye of the Judge (Passive): No crime is hidden from your sights, and no criminal remains feeling guiltless before you.
    • The Judge's Law (Passive): As long as it has to do with the law, your words are equivalent to a law itself.
    • Fairness and Equality (Passive): Lies are exposed before you, and any decision you make is completely fair and just.
    • Relentless Seeker (Passive): With every crime that you punish, you stats grow slightly. No upper limit.
    • The Judge's Domain (Passive): No place is hidden from the law. You can see, in a radius around you, any crime that is occurring, and take care of it without directly intervening.
    • Tarot Sign: The Tower (Active): At your command, any evildoers are immediately brought to an inescapable prison in another dimension. 1 use per day.
    • Grants the Title《The Fair One》(Hidden): Projects a holy aura, and identifies user as 'Samael'
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Smiling Guillotine, Azrael (Unique Skill)

    • Worldly Traveller (Passive): Immunity to crowd control or taunt effects.
    • Creator of the Ages (Passive): Grants the ability to access 4 other branches of magic, at the Grandmaster Level.
    • Peerless Origin Mage (Passive): Grants Chantless Ability: Can cast magic without chanting, and Double Chanting: Can cast two types of magic at once. Massively boosts Int.
    • The Jury's Domain (Passive): Within an area around you, conflict is curbed completely, and any whom are deemed criminal are unable to move. Certain targets can be excluded from it's effects.
    • Absolute Peace (Active): By your command, any target is forcefully calmed down, and put into a state of sleep. 3 uses per day.
    • Grants the title《The Patient One》(Hidden): Projects a holy aura around you, identifies you as "Azrael"
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Combination Effect: The Judge, Jury, and Executioner

    • When Azrael and Camael are together, all decisions made with regards to the law cannot be overturned, and are executed immediately and permanently.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Uwah, this is troublesome.

    [The next invasion shall arrive in 1 hour. Total number: 75,000 troops]

    This differed from the first invasion by a lot, honestly. Even if the invaders are equally trashy as last time, letting this drag on would be a real pain to deal with afterwards.

    Rufi, since they can get in via the portal, it means we can get out from the same portal, right?

    [Yes.]

    Hm. I made eye contact with Rufilia. You thinking what I'm thinking?

    [Good luck, then. This one will be awaiting your return.]

    Mhm. See you in a bit, Rufi. Having an open field to fight the enemy would also allow me to use the AOE skills I didn't dare to use in the Library before. In a way, this invasion is a good time to test out my skills. Claire seemed to want to take a look too, so we left Akane and Jessica under Rufi's care, and headed out.

    I wonder, how long will it take?

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Note to self: Next time, don't fire an anti-army spell at an army. The result is obvious.

    We polished off the invasion with 1 spell, and 1 hour.

    Grandmaster Tier Paradox Magic, Rank 1, Inversion. It's effect was: Reversing the alignment of the targets affected.

    In this case, the originally orderly and cooperative army lost its formation, and broke out in chaos. After all, the army was counted as one entity, of a Lawful Good Alignment. Because of Inversion, the alignment was changed to Chaotic Evil, which resulted in the ongoing melee.

    Claire and I stood in the distance, watching close friends and allies turn on each other in a massive free-for-all.

    "Ugh..."

    The former human cleric, Claire, vomited at the bloodbath caused by a single spell, so I decided to change the topic slightly.

    "Say, Claire? Are you enjoying yourself in the Library so far?"

    "Yeah! It's really fun there, especially with the kids and Rufilia...and then there's you, Mika."

    "Goodness gracious, Claire, you are only 16 this year, so you are pretty much still an older kid, you know?"

    "Hehe...I think that's why Akane calls me her Onee-sama? That girl...she gives off similar vibes to myself in the past..."

    Okay, that is interesting. Since I've witnessed Akane's circumstances personally, I can safely say that I'm the only living person, with the exception of Akane herself, that understands Akane's past. Therefore, for Claire to say that she's quite similar to Akane...this is a topic that needs closer inspection another time.

    I mean, if this was a novel, whatever Claire said would be a gigantic flag that would become really troublesome in future. Therefore, it's important to find out about it as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I tried to make the conversation more light-hearted.

    "Akane does? Maybe it's because both of you are now beings that transcend human understanding? I mean, she's a Werewolf, and you are a Kitsune. Both of you can kill off an army by yourselves, you know?"

    Judging from Claire's expression, I succeeded.

    "Hahaha...Mika, I am still a cleric after all, so I highly doubt I'll be able to do that. And besides, having a Legendary Storm Fenrir tell me that isn't very convincing, you know? Still, I don't ever regret following you here. Especially since this place has given me so much great memories..."

    That was a really big death flag. Jeez.

    I considered Jessica, Akane, and Claire as my 'belongings'. Therefore, it's natural for me to want to protect my belongings, since I am a rather possessive person, if I am to be perfectly honest with myself.

    There's only one reason that stops me from doing so. The possibility of betrayal.

    Akane probably wouldn't betray me, given that I've helped her a lot, and haven't done anything bad to her, either. The issue is with the other two.

    I killed Jessica's father, and tinkered her memories to make her forget him. Even if I did that purely out of good intentions, it's still the lowliest, most disgusting thing to do, especially for a young girl who's lost her only relative. If she ever finds out about this someday, I highly doubt she'll remain on good terms with me.

    The same goes for Claire. I pretty much tricked her into believing that I was dead, then threatened her to come along with me. It'll be a miracle if the two of us can maintain a friendly relationship like back when we were adventuring together.

    Now that I've had the time to think about it, I've done plenty of things that might become an obstacle in future. Especially the case with Rufi; she can easily reveal what I did to Jessica.

    ...You know what? Screw it. I dislike having to entertain the notion of betrayal, but neither do I regret ever having made the choices I made. It's my personal belief, and damn the consequences of that belief.

    If the worst comes to worst...my stats far outstrip that of the others, and I've also picked up Necromancy during the time I was in Akane's home world, so...there shouldn't be too much of an issue. For now, though...

    "There will be a lot more fun opportunities in future, so do your best, or you'll be left behind, okay?"

    That was all I could say to Claire. The cheerful cleric who knows that I've killed two of her former friends. The cleric which I had lied to, and toyed around with.

    Dammit...I knew nothing good would come out of associating with humans.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017 at 3:20 AM
  6. Trent

    Trent ☕ Ursine Tea Zealot ☕

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    Feelings as of the first arc:

    It's a fantastic beginning, diving right into the fun and not letting readers get bored. You won't lose your audience before it can develop.

    I like how the protagonist's sex is unimportant. You could go even further and remove any mention of it. It'd be interesting to read a story where gender doesn't matter at all.

    The POV changes are clunky. You shouldn’t delineate them.

    Why the Japanese terms? You're writing in English, not translating a foreign manga or novel. Kick those out~

    [Blessing of the Lazy], I suppose, was The Sleepy One (Passive), before you changed the name and features of one of them.

    That the MC can’t die in the tales leaves no tension whatsoever. This keeps the tales from being interesting, instead turning them into vehicles to show the MC's gains. I suppose that's why you zoomed through the first tale, instead of letting us appreciate it. The setting was rife with potential; I expected to explore the setting and characters, but nope. Well, maybe you're getting to that in a later part.

    The story's biggest issue is that it's too fast-paced and the MC's too OP. The tags are correct, but I'm concerned whether they'll be enough to maintain readers' interest. Prove my concern unfounded?
     
  7. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the feedback! Will be sure to make some modifications. I think I'll make some changes to the rule about story worlds. For the Japanese terms...hmm...I'll try to modify them, although I had been thinking of making the MC's origins influenced by Japan.
    As for the later part, hm...I have a surprise prepared once the 4th arc begins.
    Though, I'm sure I'll be making some corrections to the previous arcs first.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
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  8. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but just to check, uh...did you mean the tale about The Little Red Riding Hood, or the tale about the scenario dungeon?
     
  9. Trent

    Trent ☕ Ursine Tea Zealot ☕

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    The scenario dungeon, with its resentful slaves who seem to know more than the knights do and appear to be planning something, and the hints of the kingdom's administration. Haven't started the second yet.
     
  10. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Ah! I see! I'll make some modifications to that then, though, you are right when you said that I'll be making links to it in the future :D
     
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  11. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Arc 4---The Underworld

    After the awkward breakfast ended, I had gone for a walk at the Grand Canyon. I simply needed fresh air, in order to clear the lingering hangover that was still affecting me. For some reason, even with my status, I was still not immune to the effects of being drunk.


    The wind here is really good~ Phew, nothing better than starting the day with a clear breeze.

    I should probably get back to the Library soon, seeing that we need to discuss---oh?

    Calling up a defensive spell, I shifted away from the area.


    And the next thing that happened was that the glass skywalk shattered, revealing the nearly 2 thousand metres depth of the canyon.

    Woah, that was close. And the culprit...there.

    "Found you, Belphegor!"

    Oh? Revealing my demon name right off the bat...I assume that you are a demon too?

    "Indeed! I am the almighty Ruler of Wrath, Satan! And I'm here today to challenge you to wa---to a fight!"

    "You just bit your tongue there, didn't you?"

    "Shut up! I would never make such a base mistake like that!"

    "Well, if you say so..."

    Jokes aside, this little lady does look rather capable, especially the dual swords strapped to her back...I can sense some really strong elemental energy from them.


    Still, she doesn't look too old...at most 10, I would say. The same age as Akane and Jessica. Her silvery twin tails do suit her very well, although...why are there bunny ears sticking out of her hair? Cosplay?

    "That's not it! Those are mwy---my real ears! I'm of the Wererabbit Race!"

    "You bit your tongue again? What a cute child."

    "Stop calling me a child! Also, I'm not cute!"

    That's what she said...

    "Okay, listen up! I'm already 10 this year, so don't look down on my age! Alwso---also, my name is Kanon, Ruler of Wrath! Remember this name as the one who will send you to hell! Now, let's fight!"

    "Don't wanna. Too troublesome."

    Only idiots would happily agree to having a fight moments after the first meeting. After all, she obviously came here to meet me, which means that she's probably quite confident of winning in a clash...I have to be cautious here.

    "Stop being a coward and fight me already!"

    "Nope. Also, if I could be provoked into a fight just like that, I really won't deserve my title as 'Sloth'......She isn't listening."

    Kanon had drawn her blades, whipping them around as if they were merely chopsticks; the swords left arcs of purple and green flames tracing through the sky.

    "If you aren't going, then I am! |Domain of Rage!|"

    I frowned. A domain that provides the rage energy required for Wrath to grow stronger...And on top of it, the domain provokes enemies into mindlessly attacking. Jeez, that's a troublesome skill.

    Her domain expanded rapidly, covering me in an instant.

    Huh? Nothing's happening?

    "Tsk...To think that you have Azrael's [Patience] as well! No matter, I'll still win!"


    Kanon had flown directly towards me, her two blades each moving independently in an attempt to cut off my path of retreat.

    *Swish Swish*

    I avoided the two blades by a narrow margin; the purple fire that was surrounding the left blade nicked my elbow. It wasn't a serious cut, but I could feel my mental state, my psyche, being damaged directly.

    "My blades don't just deal physical damage, haha! This purple blade, Rasa, harms the soul itself, while my other blade, Ori, strikes at the bones themselves!"

    "...Did you just reveal the inner workings behind your weapons just like that?" Kanon, having noticed her mistake, flushed red. Still, my left elbow was throbbing with exhaustion, and I could barely lift it. It'll be really risky if I allowed her to get another strike with either blade. After all, even if I knew the principle behind her weapons, they're just as deadly if they hit me directly.

    "I-Ignore what I just said! Take this! |Purgatory Blade Shadow!|"

    A 37-hit combo with her dual blades...dammit! I crossed both of my gauntlets, hoping to withstand it.

    "Ugh."


    Not good. Even if my gauntlets don't lose out in terms of equipment quality, I lose out in terms of physical strength. No matter how good my armour is, they can't nullify the damage completely.

    I could see Kanon preparing for another attack, swinging her swords around in a wide arc.


    "Take this! Meteoric Blade!"

    As a wise human once said, don't fight brawn with brawn. Wrath, being a combat-oriented Ruler, obviously would have higher attack power than I do. The only areas I can hope to depends on would be my speed...and my own domain. I've never tried it before, wary of hurting someone innocent, but that can all go to hell now. If I don't do it, I'll end up dying here.

    *Swish*


    "N-No effect?! Fine then! |Serve as my fuel, endless rage! Walpurgis Night!|"

    Kanon's entire body was covered by a reddish aura, and the presence of slaughter in the surroundings were growing stronger.

    "With this, my power is tripled! Well, after it's effects end, my power is halved from the original, but...Why am I telling you this?!"

    Don't ask me. Also, tripling your power for a limited time, before having them fall drastically, did you think that this is an anime? Are you a mobile suit called Exia?

    "Hmph! As long as I'm angry, I'll never run out of energy! Wait, forget what I just said, too!"

    This girl...she really is simple-minded, huh...A skilled combatant, but idiotic.And that unpredictability that derives from an absolute disregard for tactics is the most threatening type of fighter someone can ever meet. There's no holding back now, then. I'll have to bet everything on my domain, or I'll end up dying here, most likely.

    I concentrated my vision on Kanon, trying to hold a steady line of eye contact with her. Thanks to that, I could see her crossing her blades, ready to make a move.

    There was no visible change in her reaction.

    Kanon charged, pulling her blades up in a figure of a cross. Dammit, is this thing even working?

    Her blades were approaching. Less than 5 feet away now. There was still no change in her expression.

    3 feet. Her blades remained speeding, aiming to slice me into pieces.

    1 feet. I tensed up, crossing my gauntlets in another cross shape.

    ...Nothing's happening?

    I took a look behind me to see that Kanon had sped past me, her eyes having turned glassy as she slowly decelerated.

    Haah...it actually worked...That was too close for comfort.

    Now, what remains is the punishment for trying to harm me. I may not have many strong offensive spells, but the ropes I create aren't going to break that easily, even if it's a Ruler of Hell.

    |Tempest Lash.|

    Kanon woke up from her stupor, struggling to break free of the bindings. Ugh. So my domain, even if I manage to activate it's effects, only lets me get in one hit at most, huh? This would put me at a severe disadvantage against beings with high hit points, especially when I take my own attacks into consideration.


    "Let goooo of meeeeee!"

    This is going to be a long day, isn't it? First, I'll have to go back and make this kid spill the beans about what she's doing here, then I have to have breakfast.
    "Stop treating me like a baby! Put me down!"

    Kanon had been forcefully stuffed into a baby chair. And the culprit was Jessica.

    "Here, say ahhh..."

    "Ahhh...Wait, why the hell did I say that---Mmpf!"

    Jessica had shoved a spoonful of porridge into Kanon's mouth. Say, Jessica, the porridge is still hot, you know?

    "Uwah! Hot!"

    Kanon spat out the contents in her mouth.

    "How dare you treat me this way! I am Kanon, the Ruler of---Mmpf!"

    Ouch. That looks painful. Jessica, at this rate you might end up killing the poor girl, you know?

    Ah. Claire took over, so it should be fine now.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    To sum things up, I had brought (kidnapped) an (un)willing Kanon to the Library. For some reason, Jessica had taken her from me, stuck her in a toddler's seat, and started to feed her. And as you can probably tell, the feeding didn't go so well.

    Akane had given Kanon a trauma during the first ten seconds they met each other, by attempting to nibble on her rabbit ears. For some reason, Rufi glared at me when she saw that. I'm innocent, you know...

    After that, Claire took over and finally managed to feed the entire bowl of porridge to Kanon, after a whole lot of coaxing and persuading.

    "So, as you guys can probably tell, this child is Kanon, and she is apparently the Ruler of Rage, Satan."

    "Not 'apparently'! I'm the real thing!"

    That's not very convincing, especially when you are hiding from Akane by standing behind me, you know...

    "S-Shut up! I'm not hiding!"

    Oh, really? I lifted Kanon by her nape, and tossed her to Akane. She's all yours, Akane. Have fun.

    "Noooo! Release me!"

    By the way, despite Kanon's stats being higher than Akane's, she couldn't escape Akane's grasp.

    It was a science thing.

    Naturally, wolves overpower rabbits, and by that same logic, werewolves are stronger than wererabbits. Also, Akane had higher arm strength, as she fought with a scythe, compared to Kanon who used twin blades, even if Kanon's Atk was nearly 10 times Akane's Atk.

    Which meant that Kanon would only struggle helplessly while Akane cuddled her like a stuffed toy...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    "Akane, it's about time you let Kanon down. Also, stop drooling. She isn't food."

    Rufi glared at me even more viciously when I said that. Why?

    [Shameless Fenrir...]

    Hey, that's rude.

    [Anyway, why did you bring her here, Mika?]

    "Well, she demanded to duel me for no good reason, so I brought her back here...is what I'll like to say, but I got bored I guess."

    [You brought back a complete stranger because you were bored...This one gives up.]

    Hey, it seems that Rufi got used to my behaviour! Hurrah!

    [That isn't something to be happy over...Still, what are you planning to do with this child?]

    "Well...I have absolutely no idea."

    *Don* Rufi fell over.

    "Then, can Kanon-chan stay with us? We have plenty of space here after all."

    Kanon...chan? Jessica, what?

    "I don't know either...but she feels like my little sister."

    Uh, I'm pretty sure that's impossible. A drow can't have a wererabbit for a sister. Or a half-sister, for that matter.

    "No, I meant...it's somewhat like our relationship, Onee-sama."

    Oh. Then it can't be helped. Kanon, you will be staying with us from now on.

    "Don't just casually decide that without asking for my opinion!!!"

    Jessica made a really mournful face.

    "*Sob* Kanon-chan hates me after all..."

    Oh dear lord, I can tell that this is going to be extremely troublesome. Rufi! This is your Library, so I'm leaving this to you! Bye!

    [Mika?! You-Get back here, you slacker! Mikaaaaa! Come back here!]
    ...
    So I went out for a while to escape responsibility, and when I got back, Rufi was looking lifeless.

    [Mika...This one feels exhausted, so this one will go take a short nap.]

    Thanks for taking one for me, Rufi. Go get some sleep; it must have been tiring.

    Well, the children are all settled, so I have some free time I guess...I really don't feel like reading a book yet.

    Let's do 'that', then.

    ...

    *Pew pew pew*

    "Mika...what are you doing?"

    Video gaming, of course. *Pew pew*

    "Video...gaming? Is that a type of food?"

    "Everything is a type of food to you, Akane. Haaah~ Still, that black lump of plastic you are holding in your hands is making me curious, Onee-sama."

    "Hmph! What's so interesting about that black object anyway? It's not even a weapon!"

    This? Oh, its a wireless gaming controller. You use it play video games. Wanna give it a try?

    "Mhm."

    "Yes!"

    "I don't mind."

    "F-Fine! But only for a while, okay!"

    Okay then. I took out 4 more gaming controllers, and handed them out to the others. They sat down on the couch, making it a rather tight fit.

    Press that button there, and then push the buttons that have those small symbols on them when those symbols show up on the screen...actually, wait a minute.

    These girls are seeing a video game for the first time, aren't they? I have no clue whether they will get influenced by unhealthy emotions.

    "What kind of stupidity is this?! It's no fun at all!" *Crash*

    Oh, dear me. I had thought Kanon's patience won't have lasted for long, and I was right...Still, these gaming controllers...are way too fragile. Any one of us can break them simply by pressing a button with too much force.

    *Crack*

    See what I mean? They break so easily.

    "Onee-sama, mine broke."

    Don't stare at me with tears in your eyes, Jessica! I'll fix this!

    |Everlasting Ice, create an unbreakable shield! Wintery Citadel!|

    To think that I would be casting Grandmaster Magic on a video game controller to prevent us from breaking it...Rufi would be mad.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Rufi got mad indeed. And it wasn't because of the magic.

    It was now 12:00. Midnight. We had been going on since breakfast ended.

    "What the...Akane, you cheated! Another round!"

    "Hehe! It's not that I cheated; you just sucked too much at this game, Kanon!"

    "What did you just say?! You wanna go?!"

    "The two of you, calm down..."

    Claire tried to mediate between Akane and Kanon, who were both excited in different manners.

    "No! I'm not sleeping until I win at least 1 round!"

    "Good! Let's play this until tomorrow morning then!"

    [Mika...What have you done here? I leave to take a short nap and this happens? Are you kidding me?]

    Oh-oh. Rufi doesn't look too happy. I better try to calm her down.

    "Good grief, two hot-headed idiots...Still, count me in too. Onee-sama, you play too."

    Jessica, I really want to, but I have the feeling that sitting down and grabbing a controller will drastically shorten my lifespan...Can't you see the veins popping on Rufi's forehead? She's furious!

    [Mikaaaaaaaa...We need to have a talk. Right nooooow.]

    Oh dear lord. Help.
    The next morning, I dragged out a half-asleep Kanon to the Grand Canyon where we previously had our fight.

    "Ahhhh...What are we doing here today?"

    "Fixing the damage we did to the environment caused by you yesterday. After all, this place is still a beautiful and natural location, so it would be a pity for you to wreck it like that."

    "T-That isn't all my fault, you know?! The fault is also with you for dodging all my attacks!"

    Kanon had unsheathed her blades and held them in what I assumed was an intimidating pose, while puffing her cheeks in dissatisfaction. The only thing I could see, however, was a child throwing a tantrum.

    "Pffft! Hahahaha!"

    "Stop laughing at me, ywou---you lazy bastard!"

    Kanon, it really doesn't help your stern image when you bite your tongue trying to give a serious speech, you know?

    I spent the next 5 hours laughing my heart out.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Just kidding. It was actually just 5 minutes, but I felt like pranking the people reading this.

    "Still, why have you brought me here, Belphegor?"

    Ah, she's finally addressing me by my real name now...Looks like I'll also have to answer seriously.

    "It's so we can have a heart-to-heart talk, Satan."

    "And...? What do you want to talk about?"

    Kanon already had her swords shifted into a defensive position, and her silvery hair was starting to be streaked by red. Well, considering our last fight, I'm not surprised actually. This child has a good sense of intuition despite being simple.

    "First up...You are a pure-blooded Ruler of Hell, right? The wererabbit form is just an identity you adopted when you chose to appear on earth, and you aren't just 10."

    Kanon sighed, and the air around her changed. The childlike feeling was replaced with something more ancient and terrifying. Something like me.

    "Yeah, that is right."

    She sounded much older now. More importantly, she sounded less impulsive, and the look in her eyes told me that she is an expert on combat tactics now, compared to before.

    "Haah~ Staying in that form is really tiring, but I try to decrease direct inference if possible."

    "Hm? Isn't it your own body? Why the usage of 'interference' if it's your own body that you are controlling?"

    "Um...How do I explain this...Ah. The Kanon that was before you a minute ago is a body created and occupied with a copy of my personality when I was 10 years old, while the original me was carrying out other duties, such as judging the dead of the underworld...Which reminds me, Belphegor, get down here quickly and help us out; the paperwork is killing us, and Asmodeus has fallen sick already. Also, Astaroth misses you quite a lot, you know?"

    "Wow. For the Ruler of Lust to fall sick due to paperwork...I can't imagine it, honestly. Is this why the lust demons are running around and screwing things over as they wish? And Astaroth...Ruler of Melancholy, correct? I've not met that child before, so why does she miss me?"

    "For that, I have no idea...Still, going back to the original topic, I only intervene in this body when there is a serious issue happening, which is when the idiotic 10 year old personality gets into trouble from running her mouth off. As soon as you told Kanon that you wanted a talk, I was alerted and decided to come here specially. However, since I have determined that you are not a threat, I'm not worried about leaving Kanon here."

    Okay, she just said something that I couldn't possibly have just shrugged off as a casual sentence, or a joke.


    "Oh wow. Not a threat? Confident, aren't we. Shall we test out that theory, right now?"

    Satan grinned.

    "Bring it on. Whoever loses has to buy the winner a bag of chips, okay?"

    "Of course. Still...why a bag of chips?"

    "Uh...That is actually because Lucifer's been wanting to eat some human food for decades. We don't usually have a direct access to human snacks, you know? Since the 4 of us that are left in Hell are working desperately to keep control over all 9 floors, so nobody actually has had time to visit the human world for a long time."

    "4 of you? There should be Wrath, Pride, Envy, Gluttony and Greed, so why only 4?"

    "That's because Greed---that baka---has gone missing. None of us can find him."

    Oho? Sounds like a problem a certain someone can fix. Let's finish up this fight quickly, and get back to the Library.

    "Alright. Ready when you are."

    Using the rising sun as a signal, both of us charged at each other.
    Satan made the first move, swinging her blades in a cross motion, and fired a aura cross at me.

    "Hmph!"

    I braced my gauntlets before me, and managed to stop the aura blades. It didn't damage me, but succeeded in pushing me back a few metres. Not bad. She is stronger now that her main consciousness is in this fight, eh?

    As expected of Satan. Her pure strength tops mine. However...I've not spent the past few days slacking off, you know? The fruits of my training have finally revealed themselves.

    |Meteoric Storm Fist|

    Taking advantage of Satan's lack of defence after she had swung both her swords wide, I landed a strike of my own, for the first time. All that practice paid off.

    She spat out a mouthful of blood, planting her feet firmly into the ground to cancel out the momentum from my fist.

    I was expecting that strike to shatter a rib, at least, But there's a Ruler of Hell for you. "That under-armour is also doing it's job, huh?"

    "Haha...You could tell?"

    Of course. No decent melee combatant would fail to keep a few trump cards hidden in case a problem arises...still, we won't get anywhere at this rate. I unequipped the Ring of Constraint, and taunted Satan.

    "Stop holding back. Let's get serious."

    Satan showed a shocked expression briefly, before breaking out into laughter.

    "Hahaha! This is a good day indeed! To think that I would be alive to hear Belphegor telling me to get serious! It's history in it's own right, you know?"

    "Well, I don't care for that, so...let's go."

    The two of us once again clashed, sending sparks flying.

    ...

    Both of us had sustained severe wounds. However, they were regenerating at a visible rate. My Unique Skill, [Belphegor] had bumped up my Hp Regen, while Satan's [Walpurgis Night] was keeping her in the fight. Still, neither of us were in shape for another extended bout.

    "Hah...Hah...The next one decides the match."

    "Huuuu...Indeed."

    Both of us took out our trump cards at the same time.

    "[Domain of Nihility]"

    "[Domain of Catastrophe]"

    I had turned off [Azrael]'s effects, by the way. Call it my pride or something, but I wanted to beat Satan on a fair fight. Which meant that her domain was affecting me.

    What happens when two opposing domains clash? The stronger one devours the weaker one, of course. And how strong a domain is? That is determined by mana.

    Which is Satan's flaw. She is built to be a pure melee combatant, and her Race, the Wererabbits, also place great emphasis on physical offensive abilities. That means, in exchange for the highest attacking power, she has the smallest mana pool of all 7 Ruler of Sins. By her expression, she realises it too. That in a match of domains, she can't win.

    As I expected, Satan immediately dashed forward, closing the gap between us. She wanted to force me into a physical clash.

    I don't think so. This is my home ground. You may top me in Attack power, but I beat you in Speed.

    |Boost me to faster speeds, roaring winds! Aeroblast!|

    Time seemed to slow down as I broke past certain speed boundaries. I could see Satan's left arm being brought down slowly, her sword Rasa tracing a downward arc. Towards me.

    |Air Cushion!|

    With the help of an air pocket, I sidestepped Satan's diagonal cleave, and punched her in the gut, sending her flying.

    ...

    Both of us were currently allowing our injuries to heal up. I took out two clean towels from my inventory, and passed one to Satan.

    "Hah~ Hah~ You are a lot stronger than I expected, Belphegor. In fact, you could top Lucifer in a fight, you know?"

    Satan wiped away the blood around her mouth, a knowing smile on her face as she told me so.

    "Nah. That would be too troublesome. If I beat Lucifer, I'll have to take his place as Ruler of Hell...Just thinking about the amount of paperwork I have to fill makes me tired. Still, if Lucifer decides to mess around with my things, he's gonna have to answer to me."

    "Wow, it's rare to see Belphegor being determined. Still...Lucifer is a 'she', not a 'he', you know?"

    "What the hell? Lucifer is a girl?"

    "Yep. Of the 7 sins and 7 virtues, most of us are all girls, you know? Michael is a guy, and so is Gabriel, while Beelzebub and Mammon are guys too."

    "What...the...heck? Was God drunk when he picked his chief advisors or something? What's with the uneven gender distribution?"

    "For that, I have no idea either, Belphegor."

    Good grief. Still...

    "Stop calling me Belphegor. I might be the one that rules Sloth, but I'm currently living my life happily as a Storm Fenrir, so call me Mika instead."

    "Sounds good, Mika. Well then, I've long since exceeded my time spent here, so I have to rush back to Hell. Don't forget to come down here and visit us sometimes...And when you do, please bring along some snacks. I'll be leaving my younger self in your hands, okay?"

    "Yep. Consider it done."

    Satan must have went back to Hell, because Kanon's eyes suddenly rolled back, and she collapsed. I immediately caught her, but since my footing was also unstable, we ended up laying on the rough stone surface, with Kanon dozing off on top of me.

    Goodness gracious. Well, I'm tired after that bout, so I guess this is a good place to take a nap as any, eh?
    We got back in time for lunch. And I realised I had nearly made a disastrous decision.

    If Claire wasn't around to cook lunch, I don't want to know or taste what Rufi cooks. According to Jessica, Rufi can create Beyond-Legendary ranked chemical weapons to masquerade as food.

    The last time she asked me to try her "crab cake", my hit points emptied out from a single bite.

    Rufilia, even if Cancer is the constellation for a crab, I shouldn't be getting cancer from eating that, you know.

    We finished lunch without any unfortunate incidents.

    ...

    [Alright, today is Monday, and there are still 3 whole days before the next invasion arrives, so we need to decide on what we will each be doing.]

    "About that, I have asked Jessica and Akane to visit a story dungeon together, so...apparently we can stay for up to 6 days inside the story world?"

    [That is correct, but still, do come back from time to time...I'm rather lonely...]

    Rufi muttered the last few words, but I heard it clearly. Aw.

    "In that case, Claire, why don't you and the other 2 come back to the Library every night? You can just pause the time flow every evening in the story world...you can, right?"

    I glared at Rufilia, who avoided my gaze.

    "Alright then, I'll keep that in mind, Mika."

    "Onee-sama, where will you be going?"

    "Ah. I have to take a journey down to a certain place with Kanon here, and we are most likely going to be gone for the whole three days, so don't worry."

    "Alright then, Mika-onee-sama! Bring back some tasty food, okay?"

    Did we raise a little glutton accidentally? Still, she is Beelzebub's Herald, so the food from Hell should be able to fit her palate, right?

    ...

    ...

    ...

    "Kanon-chan, tell your main personality that we shall be arriving in Hell shortly."

    "Don't order me around! Also, don't casually call me Kanon-chan! We aren't that close, and I'm not a kid!...Still, thank you."

    I have no idea if she is angry or embarrassed, since her cheeks become dyed crimson red in both cases.

    "And why are you thanking me for?"

    "Because...when I lost strength and fell down after our second fight, you caught me, ended up falling too, and even took the brunt of the fall."

    "That isn't much to be thankful of; a simple fall wouldn't hurt either of us, and I only did what I felt like doing."

    "But that's exactly it..." Kanon was muttering in a near inaudible voice.

    "Because something like a fall doesn't hurt a Ruler of Hell, in most cases, we would have simply allowed ourselves to take a fall. Even when I collapsed from tiredness before, people around me didn't bother trying to prevent it, because they knew I would be unhurt. However, despite knowing that, you still chose to try and support me, even when you were rather unsteady yourself...that's the first time someone has shown care for me..."

    I couldn't help patting her on the head.

    "Well, don't get used to it."

    "We had such a good mood going on and you ruined it!...Where are we going, exactly? I know you explained that we could use the books here to send us to other worlds, but how does that help us now?"

    "Patience, my child. Be patient and observe. Know thyself, and know thy enemy; of a hundred battles, a hundred victories."

    "That does sound fine and all, but how does it have an relation to what we are doing now?"

    "Just a bit more, Kanon. Don't disturb me now...I know it's on this section somewhere...G...H...I...Aha!"

    I pulled out a book with a satisfied smile on my face. Since we are going to Hell, it's more convenient to have 6 days instead of 3 in case of unexpected circumstances, right?

    "What book is that?"

    "My dear Kanon, this is one of the most famous books that deals with Hell in an extensive manner. It's title...Inferno."

    Let's go visit Dante, shall we?
    The book spat us out near a massive gate wrought out of bones and black iron. There was a crumbling stone tablet mounted at the top, inscripted with Latin words. I could guess what they said, despite never ever having learnt Latin.

    [Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.]

    Which meant that the gate before us led to the underworld.

    "Say, Kanon...I haven't exactly thought about this, but does this phrase apply to us, too?"

    "It doesn't, Mika. Especially not for you."

    That's nice to know.

    "Seeing how you are hopeless even before we entered..."

    "Ok, that was being really rude."

    Kanon gave me a friendly punch.

    "Which reminds me, Mika, since this is your first time going to Hell...As a Prince of Hell, your powers are greatly amplified by the Underworld. If you were unpredictable before, you're dangerously unpredictable now, so don't accidentally demolish anything."

    "Do I look like a walking disaster to you...Still, this gate hasn't been opened recently, so the dynamic duo hasn't arrived yet, huh?"


    "Dynamic duo...there's something off about your choice of word usage..."

    "Hey, the two of us are a duo, too! We can be known as the demonic duo."

    "No."

    "Or the diabolical duo?"

    "Denied."

    Fine. I was just cracking a joke to pass the time, you know. In fact, I think I see the two of them in the distance. Dante, and Virgil.

    "Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. We are in trouble!"

    "What's the issue, Kanon? Forgot something?"

    "We can't just approach them like this! Forget angels, even humans can tell that both of us are demons!"

    Oh. Yeah. I totally forgot that.

    ...

    "Hello there."

    We didn't disguise ourselves, by the way. I mean, both of us tucked in our ears and tails, but we deliberately kept our respective Unique Skills active, for ease of identification. Sure enough, Virgil got alert immediately.

    "Oh? It's a pair of children. You two shouldn't be here, this place is---"

    "Those two are demons, Dante! This gate is practically a symbol of their home!"

    "That is very rude, calling a lady out on a first meeting. At this rate, you won't ever get a girlfriend, you know? Oh wait, you died already, so I guess you won't be getting any girlfriends regardless. Still...the two of us aren't here to harm you; in fact, we hope we can travel together with you."

    "And you expect us to agree? Travelling down to hell with two demons? Ha! If you weren't known for trickery and lies, I would have laughed."

    "Well...what if we were to swear? On the shores of the Styx River?"

    "You wouldn't---"

    "I hereby swear, upon my name, that so long as I share this journey with the two of you, I will not harm either of you, on the shores of the Styx."

    Kanon did the same, albeit with dissatisfaction.

    "Very well. Since the two of you have sworn, I shall swear by the River Styx to allow your companionship for now. My name is Virgil, former Roman poet. Still, don't even think about making any devious plots."

    "Whatever. I'll introduce us. This little lady here is Kanon, or as she is better known, Satan, Ruler of Wrath."

    "What the---!"

    "And I am Mika, better known as Belphegor, Ruler of Sloth. Pleased to make your brief acquaintance."

    "Is it too late to take back my words, I wonder..."

    "It's fine, Virgil! They did swear on the River Styx, after all!"

    Dante is a lot more carefree than history makes him out to be. Virgil is smarter, but not by too much of a margin.

    I mean, we swore not to hurt them, but neither of us mentioned that we were going to help them, either. Also, it's fine as long as we aren't the ones directly doing the hurting. Oh my, were the ancient people always this trusting?

    "Well, we have wasted enough time here, so let's be on our way. And---"

    Dante pushes open the gate with a smile, and gestured for both of us to enter first.

    "Ladies first!"
    ...
    I've been wondering; how bad can a place get for it to be called Hell? I found out soon afterwards.

    The stench of misery was practically visible in this place.

    Let's go through the order of this dreary place again.

    • 1st Layer: For Atheists
    • 2nd Layer: Asmodeus's Domain
    • 3rd Layer: Beelzebub's Domain
    • 4th Layer: Mammon's Domain
    • 5th Layer: Satan's Domain
    • 6th Layer: Leviathan's Domain
    • 7th Layer: Belphegor's Domain
    • 8th Layer: Lucifer's Domain
    • 9th Layer: Meeting Hall
    Why do we need an entire Layer for a meeting hall?

    Still, we got past the first layer pretty easily. The scenery there could still be counted within acceptable living parameters.

    After we descended into the second layer, chaos began. Since Asmodeus was unwell, his domain reflected that. The bodies of sinners were being blown about by violent storms, almost as if they were scraps of paper floating in the wind.

    Dante didn't look so well. I think the tragic fates of the sinners here were really painful for him, since he is of the empathic sort.

    Meanwhile, Kanon was also frowning as she made her way forward. Being in her 10 year old form, she is also more empathic than expected, eh?

    I could feel my lips curving upwards to form a smile.

    "Asmodeus's Domain has the least severe punishments, seeing as Lust is often a result of two people rather than self-fulfilment. Therefore, swallow your pity and move on. If this little bit of suffering unsettles you, I'll advice you to stop your journey here. Hell is not for the weak of heart, mortals."

    Kanon managed to get her expression under control, and she started ignoring the screams of the sinners as they floated in the wind. As for Dante, however...

    "He fainted. Seriously?"

    Virgil got exasperated, too. Apparently, this wasn't the first time Dante fainted on the journey.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    "Oh hey, somebody's awake. Have a good nap?"

    "Uh...where are we?"

    "We've reached the 3rd Layer. Welcome to Beelzebub's Domain; speaking of which, that gatekeeper should be around here..."

    "ARWOOOOO!"

    "It's here. I have some mud to fill it's mouths so we can pass safely---"

    "Nah, there's no need for that. I'll handle this."

    A large shadow came bounding out of the darkness, landing square before us. A huge 3-headed black hound. Cerberus.

    |Bottomless Void, condense into the object that I desire. Creation.|

    2 seconds before Cerberus started howling again, my created objects were already in his mouths. 3 extra large bones.

    Cerberus settled down and started to chew on the bones. He no longer snarled, since I had deliberately unveiled a good portion of my aura. I took the chance to pat his head. Un, it feels good.

    *Pat* *pat* *pat*

    At some point, Kanon had joined in, while Dante and Virgil were staring at us, speechless.

    Dante, I can tell that you want to pat Cerberus too, you know? You have a really envious look on your face...a dog person, unexpectedly. I thought he would favour cats more.

    I gave Cerberus a good scratch under the chins, and his three heads all growled in satisfaction.

    "They treating you alright down here, big boy? Get plenty of snacks?"

    "Arwooo..."

    Oh dear. It seems that since Beelzebub disappeared a few decades ago, Cerberus hasn't been properly fed. No wonder he is grumpy. Take care of Hell properly, Lucifer.

    "Still, Beelzebub's Herald is back, so there isn't a need to worry, okay? I'll bring her to see you the next time I visit."

    "Arwoooooo!"
    I discovered that my resistance against water element attacks did not apply to saliva, because I was drenched by Cerberus' slobber after he happily licked me. Ugh.

    I spent the remainder of the 3rd Layer trip wiping my hair dry and changing into a cleaner outfit, which I had taken out of my Spatial Inventory. The endless icy rains that were washing upon the sinners in this layer served as a pretty good alternative to a cold shower.

    "Mika, you know, changing before two guys is rather...shameless."

    "It's fine, Kanon. I am a demon after all, so it shouldn't be too surprising, right? Also, if you want to blame someone, go blame Cerberus. Stupid dog."

    "I would, but I really don't have the heart to blame him after you sent him flying right into the ceiling...Is he even still alive at this point?"

    "Well, if the 3rd Layer's gatekeeper died so easily, it would be really embarrassing, right?"

    "Not 'so easily'! Your sense of 'easy' is warped! Down here, your physical offensive strength ranks second, only after me! Only a fellow Ruler or Prince of Hell can enduwe one of your strikes, you know?! Also, if you had actually killed him, how are you going to explain it to Beelzebub?!"

    "He didn't die, so it's fine. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, after all."

    "Stop acting so flippant already, you---you sloth!"

    "Uh...we are about to descend into the 4th Layer, so if you two could stop arguing..."

    "SHUT UP!"

    "Don't poke your nose where it doesn't concern you, mortal."

    Dante withered. Beside him, Virgil sighed.

    "Could the both of you act befitting of your titles as Rulers of Hell? Whatever terrifying images they have are being ruined by you two, you know?"

    Powerful killing intent fills the air.

    "Hmph! If I didn't swear on the Styx not to harm you two while we are journeying together, both of you would be dead by now!"

    This is a really interesting journey, isn't it?

    ...

    We entered the 4th Layer without any problems, because an angry Kanon blasted away the gatekeeper without saying a word. Ouch.

    The entire landscape was filled with people brawling, using heavy weights tied to themselves. With Mammon's absence, this place has grown more chaotic over time. In fact, I'm worried if the two humans behind us can pass through safely.

    A particularly fat guy lunged at a tall guy with his weight held like a hammer. There was the sound of falling, then the sound of snapping. I winced. This is the main problem with the 4th Layer, the sinners here have long since lost their personality and have become mindless. As a result, they attack strangers unhesitatingly, without retreating. Kanon and I can more than handle this lot, and Virgil is a shade, so he should be fine, but Dante is 100% human.

    "It can't be helped. |Keeper of the Void, erase our presence. Blackout.|"

    With this, our presence is gone, so we should be able to pass easily, so let's get out of here. I hate this place.

    ...

    5th Layer. Satan's Domain.

    "Kanon, ever heard of 'Spring Cleaning'?"

    "Shut up! I don't have the time to properly clean this place up!"

    Kanon's area of rule, the 5th Layer. The Styx River ran through this landscape, and fires burned everywhere. The sky was dyed a crimson red, and the smell of blood dominated the air. Warriors from countless eras fought on the banks and within the Styx River, hacking and butchering each other endlessly. The whole scene was practically the embodiment of the word "bloodbath" since warriors were slipping on the thick red liquid.

    As expected of Wrath Demons, they do absolutely nothing but fight the whole day long, making their brains shrink over time. I was going to suggest stopping over at Kanon's house for a rest, but it looks like even Kanon herself doesn't relish that prospect.

    "Argh..."

    Dante has been looking queasy every since we entered; he finally threw up, huh? To have lasted this long...not bad. He's more courageous than I gave him credit for.

    Still, being in this domain isn't good for humans, so let's hurry and get to the 6th layer.

    An old friend seems to be waiting for us.
    ...
    Just a heads up, the Nine Princes of Hell = The Seven Sins + Belial (Vanity) and Astaroth (Melancholy)

    Awaiting us at the entrance to the 6th Layer was a girl with a build similar to mine. In fact, her appearance was similar to mine in human form, as well. She had ash grey hair, and a pair of sleepy jade green eyes.

    The aura around her matched mine to a certain extent as well, and the strength of her aura told me that she was one of the higher ranking demons in Hell. As for her identity, I'm guessing...

    "Hello...My name is Astaroth. Pleased to see you again, Belphegor..."

    Sin of Melancholia, Astaroth, Prince of Hell.

    Also, she is apparently a good friend of mine, but I have zero recollection regarding that whatsoever. Maybe that was with the previous Belphegor?

    "I see that the angry one is also here, huh? Geez, how troublesome...having to take care of her when she is in a more idiotic mode..."

    Kanon blew her fuse immediately.

    "Why you-!"

    "Am I wrong?"

    "Mouuuu~"

    Wow, sharp tongued, isn't she. Still, we should get going before trouble starts-

    "Hold it right there! You humansss are not allowed to passs!"

    Yeah, I was expecting that. This is where the gatekeepers stop Dante at the entrance, right?

    Sure enough, a trio of old ladies with bat wings swooped down from the gloomy skies, flaming whips in their hands. The Erinyes. And the one who spoke had the lower half of a snake, with a snake hairdo. Obviously, she was Medusa.

    "Let us pass! We are here to undertake an important journey!"

    "You may passs, shade, but the human staysss. The living are not allowed into thisss place. The one who passed down thisss law isss the Great Lucifer, so there isss no changing it unlesss you can get one of the Princesss of Hell, or their angelic equivalentsss, to vouch for you and let you passs."

    Virgil glanced at Kanon, then me. He knew that we were both Princes of Hell.

    Kanon simply ignored him, while I grinned back at him, then made a gesture of victory with my left hand. Hehehe.

    Virgil's face started cramping. Don't be too worried, though. If my memories are right, someone else will clear the way for Dante. Therefore, it's high time that we split up, so why not do it here?

    "Say, Virgil? We've reached Dis, so it's about time that Kanon and I went on our way. It was fun travelling with you guys, so please treasure this memory, okay? After all, as you have rightfully pointed out, it isn't everyday that you get to travel with a Prince of Hell and come out unscathed~ Bye!"

    "Wait! At least help Dante enter the city too!"

    "Eh...It's troublesome and boring if we did it like that, so I don't wanna. Fret not, though; someone should be on their way here to ensure that Dante passes through safely, so just sit tight and hang on to your pyjamas, okay? Cya~"

    The three of us---Astaroth, Kanon, and me---turned around, ignoring the shade that had turned into a statue, and made our way into Dis.

    Hm? If I remembered correctly, the original journey to the 6th Layer took about 2 days, but we only used 1 day this time due to my magic...Don't tell me, that angel is only going to show up tomorrow? Are they going to have to wait outside Dis until tomorrow?

    ...Nevermind! They can just treat it as endurance training! Dante needs to work on his stamina anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity! Yep! I did that completely intentionally!

    Hahaha...everything is going to turn out fine, right?

    One Day Later, Outside Dis

    "Human, you have actually waited out here for an entire day?"

    "Let me give you some advisss, human. It'sss better if you go back and get an angel to come here ssso you can passs. Waiting here isss pointlesss."

    "Should we let him into the city after all? He looks kind of pitiful just sitting outside the walls with his shade companion. Still, rules are rules."
    Astaroth brought us both to the 9th Layer, where the meeting hall was located.

    Upon entering, I couldn't help myself from gasping at the splendour in the hall. In fact, it would be more accurate to describe it as an amphitheatre.

    The entire hall was shaped like a U, with rows upon rows of seats carved from marble and inlaid with dark iron serving as the audience's seats, while balconies of finely cut quartz jutted out from the sides. There was 9 balconies in total, 4 on the left and 4 on the right, with 1 in the centre. And on each balcony rested a throne, each carved from a different material and inlaid with a different gem.

    9 balconies, 9 thrones, for the 9 Princes of Hell. The central one belongs to Pride, and the left and right balconies closest to the centre belong to me and Envy respectively. Followed by that would be Wrath, Gluttony, and Melancholy on the left; Greed, Lust, and Vanity on the right. In the order of authority, which places me at the second position.

    Now for the thrones. Pride's throne was uncut black obsidian, mine was carved out of raw polished emerald. Envy's throne was shaped from clear diamonds, and Wrath had an unpolished ruby throne. Greed's throne was chiselled topaz, Gluttony's throne was fine cut sapphire, and Lust's throne comprised of rubellite completely. Melancholy' throne was made of finely cut jade, and Vanity's throne was a block of Onyx. Every throne was inlaid with adamantine features and carvings.

    And most importantly, I could tell that each throne, with the exception of Pride's, was designed to slowly suck out mana at an unnoticeable rate, while Pride's throne was designed to give the mana drained from the other 8 to the person who sat on it.

    So this is how Pride becomes the greatest of the 9 Princes? Psh, boring. Also, just how much was spent to build this throne room, exactly?

    This meeting should be quite entertaining.

    ...

    Pride...Doesn't act as befitting of her title, seriously.

    Firstly, only 5 of the Princes of Hell were here. Besides our trio, only Lucifer and Leviathan showed up. The grown-up Satan had also showed up, formally introducing herself as Amon. (Basically, Kanon is Satan, Ruler of Wrath, but her older self is Amon, Ruler of Rage.)

    This whole Satan thing is confusing me, so i shall not think about it for now. I made eye contact with the girl who introduced herself as Envy.

    "Pleased to meet you, Sloth."

    This girl is dangerous.

    Emvy...she doesn't just get envious of others, but she also makes others envious of her. Her appearance itself proves that. Flowing light purple hair, along with a pair of bewitching purple eyes, and a pair of jet black devil wings...a succubus. And a Greater one, at that.

    Still, succubi fight with mainly magic and status effects, and I have Nullity against those. In a one-on-one, I can win easily.

    Now for Pride. Hmph. Weakling.

    She had avoided my gaze the moment we made eye contact, and she was fidgeting restlessly. Her body language was greatly showing her reluctance to be here at all.

    In actual combat, this girl is useless. She doesn't even have the ability to perceive hostility. Even Kanon could beat her within 3 strikes; still, she does seem like she has just recently taken the post of Pride.

    And Amon is painfully aware of this fact, given that she has been living here for so long. No wonder the paperwork started getting tedious; I mean, having a newbie take over a professional's job, what did you expect?

    "H-Hello...The reason I called all of you here today is..."

    "Get to the point already, Pride! We don't have all day!"

    "W-Waaaaaaah~"

    She started crying?! After Kanon got angry once?

    "Amon...Just checking, this child IS Lucifer, not some random kid, right?"

    "It is as you see, Belphegor. This child is Lucifer, the Morning Star, Angel of the Rebellion. The Ruler of Hell."

    ...I'm speechless...

    Okay, for the next 5 days, Operation: Pride Training shall commence. If not, I'm going to have to frequently come here and do the paperwork, and once that starts, it's never going to end.
    ...
    For the sake of Hell, I have decided to train Pride to be better at her job. Now, a very nervous Pride was standing before me and Amon.

    Still, this is pretty confusing. Satan is Amon's 10 year old personality, but if I call Kanon, both of them responds...uh...

    "Amon, do you have an alias I can call you by?"

    "Um...how about...Zora? Will that work?"

    "Yeah, it works much better now. So, Zora, for the next 5 days we shall be training Pride here...which reminds me, what is your name, Pride?"

    "U-Um...I don't have a name..."

    "You DON'T HAVE a name?!"

    What to do...Let's see. My name is Mika, Amon's is Zora. By the way, Astaroth's name is Yura. "Going by this trend, how about...Hotori?"

    "How the heck is THAT according to the trend?! Also, you just took the Japanese translation for 'Pride' and slapped it on her name, didn't you?!"

    "What did you expect? I'm Sloth, am I not? It doesn't matter how much work I put into it; as long as it works, it's fine! So, your name from now on shall be Hotori!"

    "Y-Yes..."

    "So, Hotori, from today on, we shall begin your Ruler of Hell training. Zora will take care of combat training, Yura shall take care of admin training, and I shall teach you common sense."

    "Mika, I highly doubt that you of all people should be teaching others about common sense."

    "It's fine. I might not look it, but I used to hold a teaching job back then. Plus, Hotori would make quite a good student."

    "Worried."

    ...

    In the end, I managed to convince both of them, using the reason that "If I don't teach her common sense, I'll have to teach her something else." And they acceded really quickly.

    Hotori's timetable was decided as



      • 8 hours of combat training.



      • 8 hours of administrative training.



      • 8 hours of common sense training.
    Sleep? Eating? Yeah, Rulers of Hell can do without those. Also, it wouldn't be called 'Spartan Training' without that.

    "Hotori...whatever Mika teaches you...double check it with us later, okay?"

    Oiiii, that is rude.

    ...

    Hotori was currently sitting in front of me, just having finished 16 consecutive hours of training. She looked completely lifeless; her vibrant golden hair was now dull, and she didn't respond even when I waved my hands before her eyes.

    There's no reaction. It's just a corpse.

    "Hotori, wake up."

    "...! I'm sorry for falling asleep!"

    Oh, dear.

    "You haven't had any food yet, have you?"

    "I-I'm not hungr---*Growl*---!!!"

    I think you are plenty hungry enough.

    "Well, I'm about to eat, so join me. There's more than enough food, and I can always conjure up more if we run out."

    "But...aren't you supposed to teach me...common sense?"

    I grasped Hotori's cheeks with both my hands, and made eye contact with her. I could feel her fear through her eyes.

    "Listen up, Hotori."

    "Y-Yes!"

    "First lesson: If you are hungry, then eat."

    I could feel Hotori's face cramping.
    Hotori didn't need much more persuading. She devoured every single dish I had laid out before her, not even leaving a single scrap.

    She must have been really hungry...I'm spoiling her a bit, aren't I?

    Well, never mind. A growing child needs more food to be healthy. I'll let her eat as much as she wants; after all, there's no use learning on an empty stomach.

    Looking at Hotori, who was lying down of the grass with a contented expression, I could not help but to reach out to her.

    *Poke*

    Oh, my. Is that a satisfied little tummy I feel? Hotori had gone rather red.

    "B-Belphegor-sama!"

    "There's no need to affix -sama to my name, since we are around the same age. Also, Belphegor isn't my real name, so call me Mika. I mean, I already started calling you Hotori."

    "B-But...to call a teacher by their name directly..."

    Oh, my.

    "There's no issue, Hotori. In fact, you called both Zora and Yura as 'Amon' and 'Astaroth' directly, right? No wonder Yura came complaining to me earlier. Just go ahead and address us by our real names casually, okay? I mean, That's part of the common sense you need to learn."

    "Okay! Then...what are we doing next?"

    I beckoned to a confused Hotori. Come here.

    "Go over there? Okay---Eeeeek! Mika, what are you doing?!"

    I had caught Hotori in a hug, locking my arms so she couldn't escape my grasp.

    "Here's lesson two, Hotori. When you get tired, just sleep."

    "But Mika, when will you actually teach me something?"

    "I am teaching you something right now. Plus, there's no real point if you start dozing off in the middle of class and miss everything I said, anyway."

    ...

    I let Hotori nap for 4 hours, which puts me with 3 more hours remaining with her.

    *Snore*

    "Hey, Hotori. Wake up."

    *Poke*

    "Just...5 more minutes..."

    Oh, my. I pulled out a feather.

    "Eeeek! That tickles!"

    ...

    "Say, Hotori, you weren't born a pure-blooded Pride Demon, rather, your father was mortal, am I right?"

    She nods.

    "Thought so. That's why your pride isn't as big as the other Pride Demons, huh? In a way, that is a good thing, since excessive pride can be fatal, but at the same time, not having enough pride makes you insecure. That's why you are hopeless in combat. I believe Amon has told you that."

    Hotori nods, as she tilts her head down, not meeting my eyes. I grasped her cheeks again, and made her face me.

    "Look at me, Hotori. You are a Pride Demon. More than that, you are a Prince of Hell, the greatest among the Seven Sins. That is a lot of power. And with power comes responsibility. You are in charge of everything that goes on in Hell."

    Hotori was trembling as she continued to look at me.

    "The gatekeepers at Dis said that you passed a law forbidding humans to enter the city. On the surface, it seems as if you are driving away human visitors, but the truth is that you don't want humans to witness what goes on in the inner depths of Dis, do you? Your half-human nature has made you this way, hasn't it?"

    Hotori did not dare to move in the slightest bit.

    "That way of thinking has to change, Hotori. You aren't a human anymore. You have to start thinking, acting, and making decisions like a demon, not influenced by human emotions. Whatever attachment you have to the human world, throw it away now. Otherwise, if I have to, I will eradicate every single human that ever existed."

    She was already starting to tear up.

    "It's about time to face reality, Hotori. You aren't some puny half-human, but Lucifer, Ruler of Pride. It's high time that you started acting befitting of that position."

    Hotori was crying loudly, her tears running doen her face like two little streams. But I didn't care.

    "And that's what I'm here for. You asked me what I'll be teaching you. Well, this is what I'll be teaching you; how to act like a proper ruler, as well as how you should carry yourself in daily life. That's the common sense I'm going to teach you, and that's the common sense you will learn, even if I have to break you to do that. Are we clear?"

    Still, I can't just tell her that if she doesn't solve this mess, I won't be able to slack off, huh?
    This entire scene was giving me a serious case of deja vu. Another girl crying in my presence, mainly caused by or due to me. I should really make an attempt to prevent this from happening again.


    However. I need to fix Pride, or this problem will persist. Because of that, I have to employ some rather heavy handed methods which I'm not exactly proud of.

    "Hotori. Stop crying."

    I couldn't afford to go soft here.

    "Mika...the items you wanted..."

    I had messaged Yura earlier, and asked her to bring some things to me.

    "Thank you, Yura. By the way, I'm sorry to trouble you again, but can you get me 'that'?"

    "Okay..."

    I looked at the items Yura had brought over. One dagger, and one live human.

    "Come here, Hotori."

    I hid the knife so she didn't see it, and brought her to where the human was lying down.

    "T-This is...!"

    "A human, Hotori. A mortal."

    "And why did you bring him here? Why would you---!"

    I had placed the knife in her hand.

    "Now, Hotori, I want you to stab that human. One strike. To the heart."

    I waited. For her reaction.

    "I-I can't..."

    "And why not? He is just a human. Just a small, insignificant mortal. It's just like killing an ant; there's absolutely nothing to hesitate about."

    "B-B-But..."

    "But what? He's the same race you once were? Your father told you not to harm others? Is that why?"

    "Y-Yes..."

    Haaah. I took the knife out of Hotori's hands. Before she had the time to sigh in relief, I tossed the blade away and knife handed the human right in the chest.
    From my hand that had pierced the back, a human heart could be seen, still pumping. I exerted a little more force, and it exploded, sending blood scattering everywhere.

    Most of it landed on me, who was at Ground Zero, but some also landed on Hotori, who had stiffened.

    "No..."

    Aha, I got the reaction I was looking for.

    "Why...He was innocent!"

    "Innocent! Hah! That man that had been before you was no other than Jack the Ripper, a serial killer that had prowled Victorian London during the night. Tell me, does he not deserve death?"

    "He...He...even if he was guilty, you shouldn't be taking a life so easily like that!"

    Oh dear. I was hoping not to use this method.

    "And? Even if I wanted to take a life, who is going to stop me? You? Don't make me laugh. The world follows the law of the jungle. If you aren't strong enough, you will get killed by a stronger opponent. And for me...I'm just exercising my right to kill as a top predator."

    "Still...!"

    "Remember this clearly, Hotori. Lesson three: in this world, there is no such thing as staying friendly forever. In order to survive, people will do anything ranging from backstabbing, lying, plotting, framing and other dirty methods to give themselves an edge. There's is no such thing as helping others out of pure kindness any longer. Because, in this world, it's kill, or be killed."

    "..."

    Ah, I finally achieved the desired effect. The cowardice in her eyes are gone, replaced by rage. A very good expression.

    "Mika...I've brought 'that'."

    Yura tossed me a bundle wrapped in cloth. I removed the cloth, and tossed the thing to Hotori. She grabbed it.

    Hotori's weapon. The Titan-Crusher Hammer, Astras. A legendary class weapon.

    "I'm going to kill you!"

    Very good. I wanted Hotori to make that expression. Still, now I have to fight her, eh. How troublesome. Nevermind, I'll just inform Zora about it later.

    "Equip. Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi."

    I held my arms out in a defensive posture, and Hotori lunged at me, swinging her hammer.
    ...
    There are 3 types of people in the world. One that retaliates immediately when treated unjustly, one that takes it into their stride and ignores it, and one that bears a grudge while acting like they are perfectly fine. The third one is the scariest.

    Similarly, an enraged fighter is troublesome to deal with, a calm fighter is also troublesome to deal with, but an enraged fighter that has retained calmness is the most troublesome to deal with of all 3.

    And right now, Hotori fits perfectly in the 3rd category. Her anger has overrode her reason, but she still makes informed decisions about fighting, as can be seen from the way she swung her hammer around, not leaving any open gaps in her defence. A good combination of attack and defence.

    It's a pity that my fighting style opposes hers directly. Of all fighting styles, there are 2 broad categories: strength, speed, and 2 further sub-categories: direct and counter. Like the names suggest, strength focuses on devastating power, speed focuses on landing multiple hits, direct means you go on the attack immediately without fearing retaliation, and counter focuses on dodging the enemy's attack before returning with a strike of your own.

    My combat style is a Speed-Counter type. I'm fast enough to land several hits, but I also wait to grasp opportunities between the opponent's strikes. This opposes Hotori's Strength-Direct combat style, when she destroys everything in her path with brute force.

    A vertical hammer slam. Dodged.

    A horizontal hammer swing. Avoided.

    A diagonal hammer strike. Parried.

    I tapped Hotori a few times while doing so. It basically implied: I would have hit you this many times already.

    "Astras, Grand Cyclone!"

    An 18-hit hammer combo imbued with the wind element. Hmph. I cancelled out the wind element, and cast a boosting spell on myself.

    "Missed me."

    "Meteor Star Crusher!"

    A single hit attack that dealt 2000% damage---as long as it landed on target.

    "Time for me to get serious, I guess. |Meteoric Storm Fist.|"

    No damage at all. Even though Hotori has better equipment than I do, her lack of combat experience makes fighting a really problematic issue for her. Taking advantage of the flaws in her footwork, I managed to dissipate all the excessive force behind that hammer strike.

    The science of levers and fulcrums are overpowered when applied to fighting. Thank god I never took art classes back then.

    "Hah~ hah~ Impossible...Take this!"

    The hammer was swung again, but this time at higher speeds and from different trajectories.

    Not good. I know this move. Pride's ability [Sacrificial Strike]: consumes life force in exchange for overwhelming power.

    If this goes on, her lifeforce will be drained dry. I have to get her to stop somehow.

    *Clang*

    I deliberately relaxed my guard, and allowed myself to be blown away. Still, my first time getting thrown across the yard didn't feel too good. I crashed against the outer wall, and it crumbled.

    "Haaah~ Did I get her?"

    Good. She turned that ability off. Now I make my move.

    |True Invisibility| |Perception Blocking| |Teleport!|

    I snuck up behind Hotori, who was peering into the dust cloud, trying to see if I was collapsed under the rubble. Before I did it, I couldn't resist speaking into her ear.

    "You're gonna have to try a little bit harder than that, darling." (Author: Lol)

    Then I knocked her unconscious, and caught her in a princess carry. Problem solved.

    Still...this courtyard is completely ruined...jeez. If Zora freaks out about it later on, I'm sorry. I have no money to pay for rebuilding, though.

    [Title《Walking Disaster》has been evolved into《Harbringer of Catastrophe》]

    Oi! That's incredibly rude!
    Heads up, I'm still editing the first 3 arcs, but I've decided to post arc 4 also.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017 at 2:39 AM
  12. 77up

    77up Well-Known Member

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    Hmm... intriguing start... I'll keep on reading...
     
  13. Haxagen

    Haxagen Well-Known Member

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    Arc 5---Problems Appear
    Zora wasn't really surprised when I informed her of the destroyed yard. She told me that she quite expected it to happen.

    "I mean, with a title like Harbinger of Catastrophe, that was rather mild."

    Sadly, I couldn't argue much, since I was the one who caused it.

    [Testing, testing...Mika, you there?]

    (This is...Rufi? What's up?)

    [Hurry and get back here immediately! Claire's group just got back and the three of them are severely wounded! Grab Kanon and come to the Library immediately!]

    (......)

    "Say, Mika, you alright there? I can feel killing intent leaking from you...Almost like you are about to start torturing somebody. Your facial expression...honestly, it's very creepy."

    Oh, really?

    "Zora, some...unpleasant matters have popped up, so I have to leave to take care of them. Tell Kanon to meet me at the meeting hall. Immediately."

    "Wait, Mika-"

    Zora's POV

    What was that?

    Mika suddenly stopped in the middle of the conversation, remained quiet for a substantial period of time, and her expression contorted in a split second.

    The expression on her features wasn't anger. It wasn't rage, wrath, fury or ire, either. No, those descriptors would be way too gentle compared to the emotion that was plainly there on her face.

    What her expression was right now was pure animosity. She looked soulless.

    Oh my god. When did her eyeballs become inky black? Why are her irises blood red?

    And her voice...you know the sound of knives scraping across iron? That wasn't it. Her voice sounded distorted and---wrong----somehow. Like a horrid medley of many voices.

    I could have sworn I heard the voice of a child mixed inside. It managed to unsettle me very deeply.

    At this point on, despite being an archdevil, I could only pray.

    Whatever caused her to react like that better hope they die quickly.

    Mika's POV

    "Rufi...who did this?"

    [I'm not sure either. Most I got from Jessica was that it was of a demonic alignment. It didn't stop after it recognised that Akane was a partial demon, too.]

    The three of them were lying on the infirmary beds. Every one of them had sustained some horrible wounds. According to Rufi, quite a few were life threatening.

    Still, to overpower a party like Claire's...a demon of the Arch Rank?

    Wait a minute, these wounds...

    Akane had wounds caused by holy magic on her.

    Jessica was savagely mauled and lacerated.

    Claire had holes peppered on her upper body. Holes that resembled...gunshots.

    [They looked almost like they attacked each other.]


    Envy demon. A demon that creates jealousness and desire for other people's belongings. Otherwise, there's no way the three of them would have attacked each other with the intent to kill.

    So whoever did this made them fight against each other, huh? Not confronting them head on but having the ability to affect them with it's magic...an envy demon of a Greater rank. Not high enough to reach Arch rank, but still decent enough for most demons.

    To me, that is trash.

    My recent trip to Hell wasn't all fun and games, you know. I learned quite a bit, including the ranking order of the denizens of Hell.

    It works like this (highest authority to lowest)

    • The 9 Princes of Hell
    • Archdevils
    • Greater Devils
    • Devils
    • Archdemons
    • Greater Demons
    • Demons
    • Imps
    Naturally, you already know how the 9 Princes rank in terms of authority, so there's not much problems there. Remember Baphomet? He was a Greater Devil. High enough to be idolized, but still not that strong. I reckon he would be barely good enough to take on an offspring of Tiamat, the Coloured Dragon Queen.

    An envy demon of the Greater class...even Baphomet could beat that with his pinkie.

    Still, there's a very big problem. putting aside the fact that I don't know who the culprit is, I'm not too sure if I can bring them to justice, either. Don't get me wrong. I want revenge, but if my life is endangered in the process, then I'll need to think twice.

    If this was in the 9 Hells, I could find out the culprit easily and subdue them, but now that I've left, I can't. As a Ruler of Hell, the 9 Hells grants me a very substantial bonus to my power when I'm there, especially the 7th Layer, where my home base is.

    "Which reminds me...Rufi, why don't I get a power bonus when I stay in the Library? Didn't you say before that the Library is also a formidable existence?"

    [Mika...The Library has only just regained operation status. It'll take a while before it can regain it's old strength.]

    Oh. Can't be helped then.

    [If you can find any ancient relics, you can bring them to me. I'll be able to speed up the Library's restoration using those.]

    "Alright, I got it...Rufi, hold the fort down for a bit more. I'm going to go find out the identity of this attacker."

    ...
    I was standing in the throne hall of the 6th Layer, Envy's Domain.

    "Mhm, okay. I'll tell you who the culprit was, but in return, you have to promise me to kill the culprit, okay?"

    Leviathan had agreed to do me a favour in return for one of her own. We both agreed, swearing upon the Cocytus.

    "Here you go." Leviathan casted a few spells, and then projected it onto a large screen, gesturing at me to look at it.


    Oh, my. I wasn't expecting to see her.

    Heh heh heh. One of my favourite villains back when I was alive...It's gonna be so fulfilling when I kill you.

    Maybe I could rescue Snow White while I'm at that.
    [Nightmare Mode 'Snow White' has been selected. Role: Mika]

    One of my favourite childhood stories. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

    It never failed to amuse me from the sheer stupidity of the characters. Like, when a strange old woman gives you an apple, you bite it without any suspicions? Seriously? Also, since when did kisses become effective in curing poison?

    Let me see. I don't want the Magic Mirror to detect me and crow to the Queen about me, since I am quite beautiful after all.

    Ahem. |Perception Blocking|

    Good. Now only people whom I want to see me will see me. Speaking of which, where the hell am I? I'm pretty sure Snow White never took place around a lava field.

    "Mikaaaa~"

    What. The. Heck. Is. That.

    "Come to meeee..."

    No. Stay away; you look disgusting.

    "Come here, Mika...My child."

    ...! What did you just call me?

    The indistinct shadow turned around, and faded into the background, leaving no trace that it had ever existed. What the hell was that about?

    ...I definitely don't recall my parents looking like that. Also, last I checked, both of them are long dead. I was adopted when I was still a baby, so I have no idea who my real parents were.

    Not that I cared, anyway. Back to where we left off, I need to get out of here.

    |Meteoric Storm Fist|

    The wall that was punched cracked. Slightly.

    Imposible. That blow would have decked an Archdevil. The Underworld boosted it's power by a few magnitudes, but that's still not a casual blow that any old wall could have resisted.

    |Meteoric Earth Fist|

    The crack didn't budge, even when I landed another strike with the same force.

    Could it be that this wall is of a certain element, and I have to break it with a similar element? Thunder element worked slightly, but earth element didn't. Which means...

    |Meteoric Hydro Fist|

    Like I expected, the wall shattered. Water beats fire, after all.

    ...

    That was close---Nearly died.

    After I happily jumped out of the room, I found myself free-falling.

    Dammit. I don't have wings.

    Naturally, I had aimed towards the ground surface in order to prepare for landing, and threw a move I ripped off somebody else.

    |Meteor Star Crusher|

    You can probably guess what my velocity × my strength × 2000% did to the ground. Let's just say...there used to be a mountain range here.

    Now? There was a smoking crater spanning 10 kilometres wide.

    Oops? Ehehe~

    ...

    Hm? Somebody's in the vicinity, and they were far enough to avoid being harmed. They sure got a huge shock, though.

    [Patron of Wolves] is really convenient.

    The location...the other side of the crater? Jeez.

    Well, why not? I've been wanting to do this long ago.

    |Fenrir Form|

    Woah. My eye level got higher, and my senses extended even further. Hm. I have silver gray fur with golden markings, eh? Nice. Now, let's go.

    |Arwoooo!|

    The Hunt has begun! Let's go, my minions!
    ...
    The crisp night air brushed past me as I ran through the forest. It felt really good. Almost better than air-conditioning.

    Nothing beats an ice cream pie, though. With a generous serving of custard as well as fruit slices on top, and---oh no, I'm drooling.

    While I busied myself cleaning off the drool on my chin, I noticed something.

    The presence was close by. I was in a clearing. And a really short guy was hunkered down on the floor, shivering while looking at me.

    Oh, my.

    "Don't eat me! I'm not delicious, I promise!"

    Oh. I think that the sight of a 4 by 6 metre wolf drooling must have scared him slightly. My bad, teehee.

    "Well. I can agree to not eat you, but you have to do something for me in return."

    "What do you want me to do? I'll do it as long as I have the ability to do so."

    Alright, promise made.

    "I want you to bring me to your house, Doc."

    "What the---how did you know my name? Also, what are you planning by going to my house? We---"

    He shut up. Noticed, didn't we?

    "I'll be honest. Is Snow White living in your house?"

    "...She isn't! I'm not bringing you there, so dream on!"

    That's the same as admitting that she is...

    Doc had pulled the pickaxe out from his backpack and was wielding it with both hands, a look of grim determination in his eyes. A pacifist he might be, but those arms, built up from many years of mining, aren't for show. He might be on par with a regular demon in terms of strength.

    For me, that's the strength of an ant. Sorry.

    "I don't have any bad intentions...And if I did, you won't be able to stop me anyways. Get on. I'll be depending on you for the directions."

    I opened my mouth and grabbed him by the back of his shirt. The toughened leather caught in my teeth.

    "I hate heights! Put me down!"

    I opened my mouth, released him from nearly 4 metres above the ground, and caught him again seconds before impact.

    "Still want to go down?

    "...No."

    "Very well. Lead the way, Macduff."

    ...

    So yeah. Cue the screaming dwarf, the unplanned hike through the forest, the 200 metre tall jump off a cliff, 6 more screaming dwarves, and here we are. A 3-storey log house in the middle of a nice little clearing.

    I hate this place utterly. Not because ot's ugly, you see. In fact, it's the opposite. This place is too beautiful.

    And my Race is clashing with my Identity. The Storm Fenrir really wants to tear this place down and destroy everything with a nice thunderbolt, but Belphegor really wants to take a nice nap.

    Confused? Pretty much.

    Belphegor won out, and I went to look for a nice spot to curl up in, and fell asleep.

    ...

    Waking up tied up like a harvest day package was not on my to-do list.

    Anyway, there was the 7 dwarves surrounding me, various sharp implements in their hands. And then there was Snow White, peeking out from behind Doc.

    Please.

    If your name is going to be Snow 'White', why do you have black hair? It makes absolutely no sense!

    Also, that appearance. Ugh, grotesque. Even Kanon looked better after she woke up with bed hair a few days ago.

    By the way, if you wanna ask what Kanon with bed hair looks like, forget it. She was already pissed off enough the last time I left a photo of her napping on the Outernet a few days ago.

    Won't want any random people starting Judgement Day any time soon. If anyone is going to start it, I should be the one who begins Ragnarok.

    Still, it is inconvenient to talk with a wad of cotton stuffed into my mouth. Excuse me for this heavy-handed method, but...

    *Snap* *Snap*

    "Whew, I sure had a great nap. Thanks for tying me up. Now then, shall we talk, Snow White?"
    It didn't take long before Snow White started crying. Oops. Do I really look that scary?

    "You do, actually. She freaks out easily."

    Mind reading?

    "No. She reacted the same way when we found her, so I could predict that you were about to ask that question. Grumpy scared the hell outta her the first time, with his fierce expression, until she ended up crying."

    "Shut up, Happy! Stop laughing at my misfortune, and stop bringing that up in front of other guys!"

    Perhaps it was because I didn't eat them earlier, but the dwarves have more or less got used to my presence. Snow White was still really freaked out by my presence, though.

    "Hahaha...Still, when a giant wolf speaks to you in human language, fear is quite the normal reaction, no?"

    That was common sense, but...I never thought common sense existed inside children stories. Especially Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I mean, this story would be among one of the most logic-defying stories that I have ever read in my life.

    In worlds that have a fantasy setting like this one, I would have expected logic and reason to be on the bottom in terms of importance.

    "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah~"

    She is STILL crying...If I don't change my appearance, we won't be talking until tomorrow comes around. Sigh.

    |Fenris Form|

    And with that, my time as a giant wolf has ended. Boo-hoo. I wanted to spend more time as a full wolf, too.

    "Can we please have a talk now? I won't eat you...But if you waste my time any more, I just might."

    *Crying*

    Oh, my. Timid as a rabbit, isn't she?

    "Wait! You're a girl?!"

    Mhm. For some reason, most of the dwarves had a dumbfounded look on their faces.

    "I thought you were a guy! With that unladyli---Gufu!"

    The wall might have one more dwarf-shaped hole, but nevermind that.

    "No...presence...?"

    Ah, Sleepy. Sharp senses you got there.

    "Sleepy's always like that. He's cleverest of all of us, but he doesn't like showin' it. Says he dun want no attention, or somethin' like dat."

    Being clever doesn't help you notice perception blocking, you know...

    "Isn't that right, Sloth Demon?"

    His startled expression told me I was right.

    "How did you...?"

    "Ah, my apologies for not introducing myself properly. Allow me to try again."

    I lifted my skirt in a mock curtesy, and unveiled my aura slightly.

    "Storm Fenrir Mika, also known as Belphegor, Prince of Hell, Ruler of Sloth, Angel of the Dusk. I can grant you any one wish...as long as you have something to pay me with in return. With that being said, would any of you like to make a deal with me?"

    Snow White, who finally stopped crying, raised her hand, and made a request of me.

    "I-I would! Please help me to get my evil stepmother off my trail! I just want a happy life."

    Hearing what she said, the other dwarves hurried to stop her.

    "Wait! There isn't a need to make a deal for that! The 7 of us will all protect you! Sleepy is apparently a Sloth Demon, so we can easily keep you safe!"

    Wow, how nice of them. The relationship between these dwarves and Snow White are as good as the original story made them out to be, huh. Let's hope this doesn't end in tragedy, then.

    I mean, I don't really get moved by people putting their lives or the line for each other, but....since this story has tided me through much of my childhood, allow me to have my selfishness and try to keep these peaceful matters as they are. Which means, I should tell them some stuff.

    "Usually, I'll agree with that. But in this case, the 7 of you aren't strong enough. Not even close enough to fight a Greater Envy Demon on equal grounds."

    "Greater...Greater Envy Demon?"

    Sleepy knew what it meant. His expression was pale.

    "What's wrong, Sleepy?"

    "Yeah, what's wrong? Since you are a Sloth Demon, you should be about to do things that some of us here can't, right?"

    "That's not it. Indeed, I can do some superhuman stuff...but I don't have enough strength to take on an Envy Demon, and especially not a Greater one at that. I could do it if she was a new Envy demon..."

    I casually dropped a hint.

    "Sorry, she isn't. She's older than all of you combined."

    Sleepy started to look frustrated.

    "Then, since you are my progenitor, can't you help us defeat her?"

    "Sorry, bud. Even if I'm a Ruler myself, there are rules I still have to follow. I can't interfere in fights between demons, even if you happen to be one of mine. No, if I did that, I would tick off Leviathan epicly."

    Sleepy seemed to realise something, as he turned to the other 6 dwarves, then looked back at me.

    "What if I pay you...?"

    "That could work, but...I am a Prince of Hell, after all. My price isn't going to be cheap, you know? Even if the 7 of you all gave me your souls, it won't be enough."

    "Then, what do you want?!"

    Golly, I love it when someone reaches the end of their fuse. Maybe just a little more?

    "Hmm...I wonder?"

    "You! You despicable, lazy, unladylike, calculating, untrustworthy...demon!"

    Ahhh, he snapped.

    "The correct term is Prince of Hell, but I thank you for the compliment."

    "That wasn't a compliment!"

    Well. I'd love to continue going, but we will run out of time if this keeps up. So, time to pitch my offer. I turned to look at Snow White, who was watching the proceedings with a puzzled look on her face.

    "You happen to have something I want, child. Something that only you have. Give it to me, and I'll help you with a single favour. Deal?"
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017 at 1:22 PM