Mortem appeared in a brief flash of crimson light. The light became his aura as he hovered in the air, angry eyes locked on the smirking green-haired woman.
"What's up, Pipsqueak?" she said. Mortem shuddered, furious, but calmed himself with a deep breath and exhale.
"What are you doing in this world?" Mortem said, tension oozing from his voice like lava. "We have rules for a reason. And breakers of those rules are shown no mercy by the masters. Remember what happened to the Iron Maiden?"
Selkie's smile dropped. Clyde and Dark remained in place, hoping to make their presences as small as possible.
"Do not speak of that name in my presence, Pippy." Anger briefly flashed into her eyes. "There are no rules against third parties. You know five of them are allowed into this realm."
"But only the stone and the viper matters," Mortem spat. "Why do you think it's called the Stone-Viper game?"
"You know some of the others have gotten secret approval from the masters. Other than my Leaf, there is—"
"We are simply guides, you reckless idiot," Mortem interrupted. "I don't have time to babysit you or the others—don't make my overseeing job harder than it needs to be." He gave Selkie a stern look. "They're watching every battle, tuning in every now and then with a careless eye. But when the Stone and Viper cross paths, all of their eyes will be there. Do you really want to be seen?"
"So what? I'm not breaking the rules," Selkie said.
Mortem let out an exasperated sigh.
"Watch what you say because if you say too much, they will order me to kill you. Out of respect, I'll make it quick, but it will be under compulsion. Do you hear me? Compulsion. As much as I'd like to enjoy death, yours, old friend, old enemy, will not be fun. You continue following the Leaf at your own risk but as long as you don't interfere."
"I know," Selkie said. "But my mission is important. For my sister."
"Iron—" Mortem paused at Selkie's severe glare. "Don't make me kill you."
Clyde's chills finally emerged as Mortem looked at him with the red-eyed gaze.
"You're doing okay with the night-crawling in the city, but it's way too little," he said. "Use your increased intellect. Or lack of." He shook his head. "To think you were number one in your college, yet your actions aren't that smart. Nowhere near the potential, the masters saw within you. So, start using your head or you won't stand a chance when the time comes to face your counterpart."
The creature gave one last look of warning to Selkie before vanishing. Time returned to the world. Clyde allowed himself a breath of relief. Harumi stared at him.
"Are all of you alright?"
"Just a little post-fight exhaustion," Clyde lied.
"Get up, chuuni, we're leaving," Selkie said then eyed Clyde. "I'm going to let this one join your little city night outing. I hope you don't mind."
"Oh god," he said then sighed. He lowered his voice. "At least tell me about this place. I was simply sent here with hardly any information. Mortem…he's right. I've played with my life without using my head. If this keeps up, I'll end up losing my soul or whatever demons do when they eat you."
Selkie gave him a long stare.
"There are things I cannot tell you," Selkie said, "but…I'll tell you what I can about this world. Meet me Tuesday at the Maid Café. The one on Twentieth Street." She turned to Dark. "Meet with them at…"
"Eight," Clyde interjected. "The bus stop about a block or two from here. Near the ramen shop."
[Your quest log has been updated!]
Demon Lord's Estate….
Zeth, Left Eye, knelt before his great master. Demon Lord Hades, father of the beautiful, yet infuriating Princess Alice, stood in front of his throne, arms folded.
He was a tall and handsome man with long snow-white hair, piercing red all-knowing eyes, and a perfect white beard. Three half-naked demonesses surrounded him, ready to attend his every need, even if in public. Two of them gave Zeth looks of scrutiny, as if he imposed on them. The third liked to wiggle her tongue at him when the lord's back was turned.
Zeth himself was on the tall side, just a few inches beneath his lord's Six feet, eight. Long black and silver hair dropped to his armored back. His blue skin seemed to glow in the dim lighting of the throne room.
"Report, my eye," Hades said in a voice that could command every army in the world.
"It is still not found, my lord, but at least, we have a lead," Zeth said. "A beast kin girl, by the name of Neko. I've mobilized some of my Hidden Lotus's to catch her. She's a dodgy one."
"Good," Hades said then nodded. "Make her talk by any means necessary. You may have your way with her, but do not kill. If he voluntary speaks, she may be released. But we both know it will be the hard way.'
"Yes lord," Zeth said.
"How is Alice doing with her cousin?" Hades asked, catching Zeth a little off guard. The demon lord rarely asked anything that wasn't about duty.
"She's fine, my lord. Although the succubus is kind of a troublemaker," Zeth said.
"My niece has always been energetic," Hades said. The demon lord gestured for his three demonesses to leave. They bowed deeply then complied. "I need you to locate some bold humans. Pesky gifted. Kill them all. There are two that don't belong in this world. One of them in particular has a troublesome reserve of power. I'll need him dead before he learns how to use it."
"On my honor, my lord," Zeth said.
"Rise! And serve me well."
Clyde grudgingly answered the knock on his door. Can't a guy practice his crafting in peace, he thought.
Alice smiled when he answered.
"Alice, pleasant surprise," he said as he let her in. "Chocolate's running low?"
The demoness stuck her tongue out at him.
"Nope—but I do want pie," she said.
"You're not showing your cousin around?" Clyde asked.
"She's...busy. Stay out of the city for another hour and you'll be fine." Alice pulled the untouched pie out of Clyde's fridge. One muttered spell later, it was hot and warm as if freshly baked. "Sex would go nicely before this." She poked the young man's chest. "Too bad my cousin's in town. She'd sense us and ruin everything."
Clyde allowed himself a small moment of loss and anger before shrugging.
"You're not going to eat that alone."
"I totally am going to eat this alone," Alice said with a smug smile. "You could lick the blueberry off my lips."
Before Clyde could return with a quip, his phone buzzed. A text from Toru? Now that was odd.
Toru: weakling, you've got to come see this.
Clyde: Look dude, I'm not interested in your porn collection.
Clyde: I'm kidding. What's up?
Toru: I think she's a demon. Part cat. Apparently wants to know where you live. Just come here. And be on guard.
Clyde's anime trope senses let out a rang that was almost palpable. He was hoping to finish up his backup plans. The plans that were there in the case of not going home. He looked at Alice.
"Even after someone dark said to use my head, I'm going in the city anyway," he said. "Want to come with?"
"At least you're smart enough to ask me for protection." She placed her hand on his forehead then spoke as if addressing a baby. "Don't worry. Whittle Clyde will be safe all behind Awice. That meanie succubus won't steal your life."
Clyde's glare sent the demoness into a spiral of laughter.
"On second thought, stay here," Clyde said, but before he could leap toward the door, Alice grabbed his arm.
"I don't think so," she said. "Can't have you embarrassing me."
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