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And So, the Succubus Girl Smiled, Part 2
「 This is bad.」
「 What is it? Well, spill it out already. I'm not in my best mood right now, but depending on your answer I might just beat you only half-dead.」
Aur said some pretty malicious things to Logan while remaining perfectly calm.
「 Master, please don't joke around like that. When you say that with such a face it's not funny at all.」
「 Who told you that I'm joking?」
Apparently their search for the culprit was unsuccessful, and Aur was beginning to run out of patience, even if he tried not to show it.
「 The clone that I made out of my arm died, but I don't know where he is right now.」
「 You don't know where you are, but you know that you died?」
「 Yes, that is what I'm saying.」
To Yunis's question, Logan raised his arm and explained.
「 Look, it works like this: When I create a clone of myself out of one of my limbs, it becomes a separate, independent existence. It is functioning on its own, and that's why this one arm is not regenerating. But since my clone kicked the bucket just now, it should grow back in a while.」
「 For someone like you that's surprisingly useful.」
「 Well you learn one or two tricks when you live as long as I am.」
「 Wait. If what you're saying is true, then you could just go to the Demon World, follow the trail to your missing hand, and guide us to where Lilu is in such a way, am I right?」
Aur send Logan a glare so intense that it would have probably killed him if he was your average weaker monster.
「 Don't ask for the impossible, master. No demon could ever do something so complicated, even the ones bound and powered-up by a contract.」
Magical energy was needed for demons to maintain their physical forms in the Human World. Unlike humans, they could hardly obtain it by themselves. That is what contracts were for: demons helped magicians and did their bidding, and received the precious magical energy as compensation for their work.
In other words, nothing held them back in the Demon World, where there was no need for such power to exist in the first place. That is why some of them answered the summons frequently, even if the summoner was someone incompetent whom they would always disobey.
But Aur felt that there was something else behind it.
「 So you could do that if you tried hard enough?」
「 Heh, just who the h.e.l.l do you think I am? If I put my back to it, there's nothing that I, the great Logan, cannot achieve!」
Logan says so while showing off his four arms. The tip of the left one was also cut off.
「 But I cannot do anything while I'm on this side. The connection is too weak to even think about doing something with it.」
「 Fear not.」
To trace his missing arm back, he'd have to go back to the Demon World. But even if Logan possessed an immense amount of magical power himself, he was not so good at maneuvering and manipulating it through such precise actions. Someone would have to do it for him. And in the current situation, there was only one way to do it right.
「 I will go with you.」
It was for Aur to go to the Demon World himself.
「 And this should go somewhat like… this.」
With a complicated expression on her face, Lilu tried to put together something that would aid her in her escape from this place. But since she had no tools and the materials were scarce, her job was really crude. By the way, the material s she used came from the bed that Markt prepared for her.
Using her nails as knives, she put together a contraption that looked like a tube on a pedestal. The tune itself was designed so that it could rotate and move back and forth, and it was covered with intricate patterns and inscriptions from top to bottom.
「 A fine, if a bit crude, job, if I dare say so myself. This might even work out.」
Lilu mounted it on a wall opposite to the door and cast a spell on it. The barrier might have drained her from her demonic powers and weakened her, making her the same as any human girl, but she was still able to cast spells, although they should be considerably weaker. But for what she was about to do, it should be enough. Besides, that what all the inscriptions were for. They were supposed to interact with the barrier's flow of magic and redirect it to the contraption, making it stronger.
Essentially, Lilu created a portable magic cannon. But since it was hastily made from sc.r.a.p and wood, it could probably only withstand one shot.
The blast was so powerful that it sounded like a roar of thunder. The magical power that could not be converged was scattered about, raising clouds of dust, making Lilu cough furiously as a result. But apparently…
「 It was a huge success, was it not?」
Where there were doors just moments ago, was now a giant, gaping hole.
Lilu herself was amazed at how well it went. She had to adjust the power output so that the blast would only destroy the wall of that one room, and not pierce through to the other one, and it required come complicated and precise calculations to be done. But as was expected from a genius of her caliber, she totally nailed it!
She run down the corridor, taking one of the torches hanging on the wall with her. Judging by the structure, she was in an underground dungeon. It shouldn't be as big as Aur's dungeon, but nevertheless getting out of it surely will not be easy.
At the same time, she realized one possibility. Instead of running around blindly, it would be better to follow the trail of the torches placed on the walls. If her hunch was on point, she should have more than enough time to do so uninterrupted.
And as she followed them, gathering them for materials and slowly regenerating her magic power, her nose soon picked up on a peculiar smell. Her intuition from living in a dungeon for so long coupled with her experience as a dungeon planner told her that she was nearing the exit.
When she opened the door with a kick, Markt was already waiting there for her with his arms spread widely.
All labyrinths had one thing in common: there was always one road pointing towards the exit. This was a must, otherwise it wouldn't be a true labyrinth, just a mess of corridors without the way out. Unfortunately that also meant that when Markt would realize that she escaped, he would be waiting for her here without fail. And sure enough, she was right about that.
「 What took you so long, Lilu? You're late to the party, but there's nothing to worry about. Now that you're here, the best part can finally start! Now…」
He didn't have the chance to finish, because in the middle of his speech his face erupted into a b.l.o.o.d.y mess. It was because the magical artillery created by Lilu on the spot constantly fired at him.
One by one, explosions were blooming all over his body like flowers. He had no choice but to wait for her to arrive here, but she, on the other hand, had more than enough time to prepare to fight him.
「 This should put you out of commission for good!」
「 I wouldn't be so sure about that.」
Lilu was shocked to see that Markt has emerged from her cannonade practically unscratched. But something was terribly off about him.
He looked like a normal human, but his eyes were glowing with a crimson shade of red, and his mouth was cracked all to way to his cheeks.
「 Oh, I'm sorry but it looks like I'm no longer able to keep my human appearance up.」
「 What the h.e.l.l are you?」
From the looks of it, he clearly was not a normal human. But that would mean.
「 You're almost like…」
「 Yes, that's right. I am a demon.」
Markt opened his grotesque mouth and laughed hysterically.
That took her completely by surprise. The thought that he could be a demon just like her didn't even crossed her mind. And that face of his filled her with both fear and disgust. She has never before seen a demon like him.
「 Don't be absurd. If you're really a demon, there's no way that you could summon another demon! This is simply not possible!」
Unless he was similar to her and possessed immense magical power and apt.i.tude towards magic. And that must've been the case, since he did to her what she tried to do with Logan earlier.
「 Yes. I see you've realized it. We really are similar, you and I.」
With a loud noise, Markt's body started to change its shape.
「 Although I have become a demon under slightly different circ.u.mstances.」
He still looked more like a human than Logan, but he grew taller, had six arms in total, and horns growing out of his temples and forehead.
And his body was practically radiating with raw magical power.
「 You have to be kidding me.」
He seemed to be stronger than any demon she met in the Demon World up to this point. Just where did he got so much power from?
「 Now let us go, to the chapel ahead.」
「 Yes, the sacred place where we will swear our eternal love to each other.」
With that, Markt opened the grand door behind his back.
Lilu's breath was caught up in her throat. In the next room was a grand chapel that looked exactly like the ones from the Human World. Deep inside the chapel was an altar, and instead of decorations there were countless demons pierced with spears and chained to the walls and the floor. Just like with Lilu, their power must have been drained, and they were unable to either live or die.
「 How do you like the decorations I prepared just for you?」
「 Way too pompous for my tastes. You have no sense of style whatsoever. Looking at it makes me want to vomit.」
She didn't know any of those demons personally, but still, it was not a pleasant sight.
「 Whatever, you'll come to like it soon enough.」
Markt reached his hand out towards one of the demons and ripped his still-beating heart for his chest. The demon convulsed and screamed in agony, but something like that was not enough to kill him.
At the same time, Lilu understood what the secret of Markt's abnormal magical power was.
「 This will serve as proof of our eternal bond.」
He was eating the hearts of demons.
「 Now please, eat this together with me.」
Lilu took a step back as he stretched the heart holding hand onto her.
But his arm was grabbed by another arm.
「 This woman is mine. Hands off.」
The man who grabbed Markt's arm swung his other hand and used it to draw a magic circle in the air with astonis.h.i.+ng speed.
「 Now turn to ash and die.」
And a lightning bolt struck Markt square in the face.
「 Sorry I made you wait.」
Aur said in a calm voice after he took a hold of Lilu and made some distance between them and the enemy.
「 You idiot! Why did you come here?」
If Lilu's intuition was correct, then something was wrong here.
「 Because he wanted him to.」
Pulling himself up from the ground, Markt pointed towards Lilu's shadow.
「 All because of that little demon over there.」
「 Oh, so you did noticed my presence?」
A small Logan gave him a snarky reply.
「 I welcome you, your majesty Demon Lord Aur! I knew you would come here.」
He bowed respectfully and offered him his thanks.
「 I have no grudge against you, truth to be told. Rather, I am thankful to you. Because of you I, just a lowly Imp, was able to attain this much power for myself!」
Little by little, slowly, but surely. Markt was able to grow in strength because he slowly devoured the hearts of demons, who grew in numbers ever since Aur made his debut as a Dungeon Master. It was only possible because Aur was so strong that he could command such a ma.s.sive army of demons. In a sense, he was the one who created the monster that was Markt.
「 I offer you my heartfelt grat.i.tude, but I must now bid you farewell. My and my love have much more pressing matters to attend to.
Markt waved his fingertips and Aur's cloak fluttered like wings in the strong wind.
But Lilu's scream was too late, as the light emitted from Markt's fingertips has already pierced Aur's breast.
「 What was that?」
There was no pain. None whatsoever. Aur looked at his hands and felt like the power was overflowing from them. And then he realized what was done to him.
「 Soul Summoning?」
「 With this, you are no different than an ordinary human being!」
Of course Aur came here using a doll created with magic while he himself was still at the castle. Even if that doll was destroyed or shattered, as long as his soul was intact elsewhere, there would be nothing for him to worry about.
However, now that his soul was forcibly summoned to this body, temporary or not, it was a different story. If this body died, the soul would die with it.
「 This was my first time using this spell outside of the experimental phase, but I see that the results speak for themselves!」
Aur just put his hand on his chest. Under the skin and the tissue was a wooden body covered with inscriptions. It was also covered with a barrier to avoid detection while infiltrating the enemy territory, but now he could also feel something else pulsing in his chest.
「 From ancient times, the hero's true worth was decide by the number of monsters he has slain!」
Yunis popped out from behind him, her s.h.i.+ning sword in hand.
She came at Markt with G.o.dspeed, but he was able to keep up with her movements without breaking a sweat. A black sword, spear, greatsword, s.h.i.+eld, axe and a mace appeared in his six hands. Sensing that none of them were ordinary, Yunis stepped back.
「 … and what is with this place anyway, huh? It's all gross and tasteless!」
Yunis screamed, and Lilu finally noticed.
「 d.a.m.n, this place is…!」
This place, this cementery of half-dead demons was filled with magic power the amount of which could rival even that of Aur's dungeon. This was a place from which Markt was drawing his power, his absolute demonic dominion in which the strength of Heroic Spirits and all beings related to light was drastically decreased.
「 Ugh, why you….!」
And he was unbelievably strong even without that. Yunis clearly had a hard time keeping up with his six weapons.
Spina came out of a small bottle thrown by Yunis. She is a demon's natural enemy, an Evil Slime that devours
magical power of anything that it comes into contact with and melts away demonic being.
「 I know your weakness, slime woman!」
Because he is partially still human, Spina's powers are not as effective on as they are supposed to be. Markt took out a bottle out of his pocket and sprinkled it over Spina's liquefied body.
It was salted water, the substance that made her turn back to normal after she turned into her slime form, leaving only her human form behind.
「 Look out!」
Yunis took the blow of the sword aimed at Spina and blocked it, but was grazed by the greatsword and a spear, causing her eyes to shoot wide open and blood to spill out of her mouth.
「 I don't want to hurt your friends too much, you know?」
Markt whispered sweetly. Yunis' body collapsed on the ground, and a pool of red was forming around her.
「 Just say what I want to hear, Lilu, and let this all be over. If you do, I promise I'll let your master live.」
The demon's heart in Markt's palm stopped beating, so he threw it aside and got himself another one.
「 Aur, I…」
「 Do not even think about it!」
In response to the tragic determination in Lilu's eyes, Aur made his hand into a fist and smacked her across the head.
「 Aren't you going to eat that heart to make yourself stronger?」
He asked him in a ridiculing tone.
「 There's no need for me to do so. Although, I can give one to you if you want it, your majesty.」
「 I refuse.」
And so Markt swung his sword at him. But all it cut was just empty air.
「 Yunis, Spina, thanks for buying me time!」
Aur sunk his body into the ground to avoid Markt's blow. No, he did not sunk, the floor swallowed him!
「 You are already dead. (TL NOTE: Insert "Omae wa mou s.h.i.+ndeiru" meme here)」
The moment Aur said that, countless spears protruded from the ground and pierced Markt's stomach.
「 What is this?!」
Although he easily destroyed them, he looked astonished.
「 I just allowed myself to hijack that labyrinth of yours and made it mine.」
The pillars, the wall, the floor, the entire room bared its fangs at Markt.
A mouth filled with razor sharp teeth gnawed at him, the ceiling crushed on him, and the pillars coiled themselves around him body, mauling him.
「 NOT ENOUGH!」
s.h.i.+ning brightly like a burnt coal, he slashed them all away with his weapons.
「 I'm your next enemy, you sh*tty brat!」
Logan declare in a fancy voice, coming at him with his flame covered hands. The fact that Aur took control of Markt's labyrinth meant that his pesky barrier came crus.h.i.+ng down.
All of the chained demons rushed at him to enact their revenge.
「 Small fries, all of you!」
He swung his spear at them, but even despite that they managed to reach him with their claws and fangs, recovering the magic power that was stolen from them.
「 Guh, gahaaa… Don't you dare thinking you can bring me down, you idiotic sacks of meat!」
All of Markt's body gets covered with spikes and fanged mouths as he tries to kill all the demons that are attacking him. But they stop before they could even reach their targets.
「 THE F*CK?!」
「 Lord Aur, I've finished repairing the barrier's boundary, so praise me lots and lots now, okay?」
「 Mari, stop frolicking around so much. And more than half of the barrier still has holes in it. You call that a good job?」
Mari and Mary, the two identical girls rushed to Aur's side. Now that the labyrinth was seized, they could use the anti-demonic barrier to their advantage.
「 Mari, Mary, even you guys…!」
「 And we're not the only ones who came!」
A dull sound like a bolder crus.h.i.+ng against the ground could be heard in the distance.
「 Because Lilu is important to everyone!」
It was the sound of the giants striking their fists against the walls.
「 You did enough and fought valiantly, my daughter.」
「 Should your big brother give you a reward for making such a good work?」
「 Father, big brother, I am fine, there's no need for you to worry. See? I made sure not to overdo it, geez!」
Healed by Aur's magic, Yunis screamed at Zaitreed and Wolfe.
「 Do you understand now? You may be strong, but the power of the individual will always lose to the combined power of the many.」
Leaving Markt with such words, Aur turned his back onto him, who was destined to be torn to shreds by all those whom he tried to use.
「 When it comes to love, violence is rarely the answer.」
「 If you wanted to leave him with a sick burn, you should have told him about the infinite power of our bond, Aur!」
Lilu made a comment to Aur's words.
And behind them, the villain was being ripped apart while his screams filled the halls of the grotesque chapel.
「 Goodness gracious, talk about being unreasonable.」
Aur felt asleep as soon as he returned to the labyrinth. The atmosphere of the Demon World really drained his of his strength, but that was to be expected. For a human, physically entering the Demon World was like swimming in a highly acidic sea.
「 What would I have done if you died?」
Lilu stroked his amber hair. This time he went a little too far. It was unusual for him to be sleeping so soundly and peacefully like that.
「 A demon, huh?」
In her hands, Lilu held a gem s.h.i.+ning with a dull red light: Markt's heart. At the very end, when it was all over and he was turning into dust, he secretly told her to take it with her.
「 If you want to spend the rest of eternity together with him, make him eat this.」
He left her with such words.
He chose to become a demon of his own volition. If only Aur could do that… the temptation gnawed away at Lilu's conscience.
She stared blankly at Aur's lips. Now that he is sleeping so soundly, he is pretty much defenseless. Nothing would stop Lilu from putting the gem in his mouth right now.
「 Don't even try that.」
Aur opened his eyes a little, and noticed what she was holding in her hand.
If she wanted to do it, now was her last chance. But she was still conflicted. She couldn't bring herself to do it.
「 What? You're not going to make me eat it?」
Aur said so as he took Markt's heart from Lilu's hand.
Not hesitating for even a whole, he put the gem into his mouth and swallowed it.
「 Hmm, I don't feel anything strange, but…」
He muttered whole chewing. And then his eyes shot wide open.
「 Gu, ghaaaa!」
He fell on the ground. His back exploded with blood as two long demonic arms emerged from his body, and a horned head followed behind them.
「 I was able to see you again, LILUUUU!」
Markt laughed with his bloodshot eyes clouded with madness.
His smiling face was split in two as Yunis brought her sword down upon him, cutting him clearly in half from the forehead all the way to the crotch.
「 I see, so that was your plan.」
Aur raised his upper body from the ground and stared at Markt.
「 Your plan wasn't bad, but your own short sightedness doomed you. How low have you fallen, Markt. But I guess it was to be expected from the likes of you.
「 Im… possib….」
But he wasn't allowed to finish speaking. His two halves fell on the floor, and thus he was gone from this world for good.
「 Thanks, Yunis.」
「 Don't mention it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll make myself scarce. You two have something important to talk about, after all.」
With that, she put her sword back in its scabbard and looked Lilu in the eyes.
「 You owe me that one.」
And with a metallic sound of the sheathed sword, she disappeared.
「 Ah, well, Aur…?」
When it was just the two of them left in the room, Lilu tried to find something to say to get the conversation going, but it wasn't working very well for her and it felt awkward. Should she apologize or what?
「 Don't worry about it.」
Aur was the first one to break the silence.
「 I will definitely turn into a demon when I die, and I think that might not be so bad after all.
「 But that is not like you at all, Aur!」
She thought about it many times. It does not matter that she inherited Raz's memories. It does not mattered if Aur decided to become a demon or not. She loved him, and every moment she spend with him. Those were her honest feelings that would never change.
「 You might be right.」
Aur nodded and confirmed her words.
「 And you are not Raz, the woman that I loved, but that does not mean that I don't love you for who you are. Quite the opposite, actually. You are dear to me precisely because you are you, Lilu. Isn't that good enough?」
Lilu managed to find comfort in his warm words.
「 Yeah. It might not be so bad after all.」
And so, the succubus girl smiled as she thought about the distant future.