Fremd Torturchen Volume 2 Chapter 1
Chapter 1 - The Beginning of Chaos
This was a vast graveyard.
Grave markers were erected on a wasteland that seemed forgotten by all of the living, identifying the small hill as where the dead slept underneath, a desolate pincushion.
On this land devoid of vegetation with the cold wind blowing, two figures were standing.
One of them was peerless beauty dressed in a racy bondage dress. Her pale arms and armpits were exposed out in plain view and even her chest was merely covered by leather straps, revealing the majority of her exquisitely shaped breasts. The black fabric covering her narrow waist was attached to a short skirt with a decorative cloth extending from her back like a cape whose underside had been dyed deep red. Contrasting against the red, her beautiful legs shrouded by thin fabric became even more striking. But unbelievably, her beautiful image did not exude any impression of wanton seduction.
Wearing a sexy outfit with as much dignity as a queen in formal attire, she narrowed her ruby eyes of red.
"Come now, what is the matter, Duke? At this rate, you will end up by tortured to death, dying like a bug by my hands, to become neighbors with the dead in this graveyard, you know? At least entertain me a little, okay?"
Towards the opponent before her eyes, she smiled quite maliciously and arrogantly.
In front of her was a demon, a twisted and ugly coffin made of flesh. "Demon" was the only apt description for this bizarre appearance. The lid of the coffin glistened greasily with bulging blood vessels and organs pulsating on top. From the sides of the coffin sprouted countless human arms in a tangled mess, forming bizarre wings.
This demon—The Duke—was precisely the manager of this vast graveyard, and its creator too.
A long long time ago. there had been conflict between humans and the beast folk at this location, resulting in a tragic incident of bloodshed. After that, nearby villagers deemed this hill "taboo" and avoided it for a very long time. However, The Duke managed to locate this place.
The Duke made use of it, piling even stronger grudges upon the land. It was unlikely that this place would ever return to a level hospitable for humans.
The Duke buried countless victims alive under the grave markers here.
He abducted people, stuffed them into coffins, kept them alive by providing air and food through air holes, yet at the same time dissolving the people gradually with his digestive fluids.
Confronted by the terror of seeing their bodies dissociating before their eyes while alive, the victims all turned insane in the end, screaming while laughing uncontrollably, their tragic voices turned into a storm shaking the hill, bringing chills to anyone passing nearby. However, because The Duke had reined in his cruelty somewhat for the past ten-odd days, such voices were no longer audible.
The Duke had been agonizing whether he should abandon this beloved hill of his and escape. From what he had heard, the executioner who had brought an end to the strongest demon—The Emperor—was currently hunting him. However, The Duke wielded powers beyond human comprehension. His pride prevented him from fleeing decisively, ignoring the alarm rooted in instinct.
And this was precisely his downfall.
Right now, he was cornered by the great sinner unequaled in the world, the only one capable of slaughtering demons.
This girl in a black dress was both a great sinner and an executioner. She continued to taunt him:
"What is the matter, Duke? Hovering there without saying a word is not going to change anything, you know? Well, in any case, I shall neither listen to your pleas nor allow you to escape. The hour of punishment has arrived. You shall be killed here by a condemned sinner, to die pitifully."
"Elisabeth... Elisabeth... You accursed... girl."
"You ought to know, right? Death is at hand. The one who stands before you is death."
The girl called Elisabeth smiled tenderly.
At that moment, The Duke emitted a strange cry and flew up in the air like a bullet. With unnatural flexibility, he bent his wings that were made up human arms, spinning in a cone shape while leaving the ground behind.
When he stopped ascending, The Duke opened the coffin's lid and from the gap, he fired stakes that had been used as grave markers. Every time a stake struck the ground, the resulting impact dug up the ground, scattering the coffins and skeletons that lay underneath. However, Elisabeth evaded the impact sites with minimal movement, escaping their effects.
Elisabeth moved magnificently in a dancing manner as though she could see the trajectories of every projectile clearly. Her long black hair fluttered as she tilted her head lightly, dodging a flying stake in the nick of time. The stake embedded itself far behind her.
Finally, she turned her head and shrugged as though nothing had happend.
"—Is that it?"
The Duke was terrified that his powers were not working, but started screaming, unable to bear the humiliation of being mocked.
The arms making up his wings thrashed in pain in the air before expanding and extending like multi-headed serpents made of flesh. The many opened palms were like countless mouths, rushing at Elisabeth to bite her.
Elisabeth smiled faintly and waved her pale hand, instantly conjuring a swirl of red petals and pitch-black darkness in the air. She reached in without the slightest hesitation and drew out a long sword whose blade glowed red.
"The Executioner's Sword of Frankenstahl!"
As Elisabeth shouted the sword's name, the inscription on the blade began to glow too.
You shall obtain freedom through action. Pray for God to become your savior. The beginning, the process and the end, all are within God's palm.
Elisabeth pointed the sword's tip at The Duke, summoning countless chains out from thin air. Bundling together to form a giant snake, the chains flew straight at The Duke, smashing against the wings of flesh in a contest of strength. The balance lasted only a moment before the chains pierced The Duke's wings.
An explosion of fingers, shredded flesh and a rain of blood expanded in the sky. The Duke screamed while severing the damaged parts of his wings and firing stakes as a diversion, distancing himself unsteadily using his shortened wings. However, just as she had declared, Elisabeth did not allow The Duke to escape.
Shouting the command for an execution, she swung the red-glowing sword.
"—Bull of Phalaris!"
The ground shook violently in response. A storm of darkness and petals swirled at the top of the hill, then a giant bronze bull emerged from the storm, landing with a thunderous crash. The giant bull suddenly opened its mouth in front of The Duke, sucking the The Duke inside as ludicrously as a fly getting caught in a bull's breath. At the same time, red petals scattered all over the hill, igniting the grave markers. Surrounded by burning flames, the bull began to heat up, gradually turning golden.
As a result, The Duke was roasted inside.
What resembled a bull's bellows echoed on the hill. A device installed in the bull's head was what converted The Duke's screams into what sounded like a bellowing bull. His screams reverberated for a long time, just as the wailing of his victims had shaken the hill before.
Hearing a plea sent out by The Duke in the form of thought waves, Elisabeth narrowed her eyes.
"It burns, it buuuuuuuuuuuuurns. Have mercy, have mercy on me, Elisabeeeeeeeeeeth. At least... At least grant me a quick deaaaaaaaaaaaaath."
"...Do not be ridiculous, Duke. This is the deserved fate of the torturer. There is no better way to adorn the end of an oppressive ruler than with your current screams. Besides, why are you begging me? How could I possibly listen to you? Who do you take me for?"
As a calm and just executioner, Elisabeth thoroughly rejected The Duke's pleas. While waiting for The Duke's fat to fall off, his flesh to char and crumble, his bones to shone like jewels, all this happening in abject agony, she introduced herself:
"I am 'Torturchen' Elisabeth Le Fanu, both a proud wolf and a lowly sow."
Perhaps his sanity had burned up in the midst of pain, The Duke's screams finally turned into laughter.
The Duke's laughter shook the Bull of Phalaris before vanishing completely.
Elisabeth snapped her fingers, gradually extinguishing the flames. The Bull of Phalaris also turned into red petals and vanished. A great amount of black feathers flew out from inside the bull, precisely the evidence of a demon's death.
These feathers burned with blue flames until nothing was left. Elisabeth quietly closed her eyes and looked up, remaining silent for a moment as though offering her thoughts to the victims and The Duke, then spoke:
"Okay, time to eat!"
"Yes! Thank you for being patient!"
"Hold on, what's with this weird transition?"
Elisabeth's declaration brought a cheerful response and a stunned voice.
A silver-haired maid carrying a basket quickly emerged from the foot of the hill. Wearing a cute cap, holding up the hem of the long skirt of her classical maid uniform, she ran adorably over to Elisabeth. Following her was a young man with an unpleasant gaze.
The young man was dressed in a poor-fitting butler's uniform. He featured hair of faded brown, eyes of the same color and a skinny physique. The young man was named Sena Kaito. With a lethargic look on his face, he rushed to the side of the apparently hungry Elisabeth.
He was an ordinary person—not only that but he had also died once—and currently serving "Torturchen" Elisabeth Le Fanu.
There were deep reasons why Kaito was currently in her service.
Tracing the roots would go all the way back—To another world, the time when he had been killed.
* * *
Suffering from his birth father's abuse his whole life, Kaito finally met his demise at the age of seventeen years and three months in a pitiful, painful, brutal and tragic death, dying like a worthless bug.
Normally speaking, a murdered victim could not obtain a chance for a second life. However, Kaito's soul had been summoned to another world and thus given this chance. Although he originally had no wish to be resurrected, the arrogant master forced him to submit against his will, making him her servant to do her bidding as she pleased.
The one who had summoned Kaito was precisely "Torturchen"—Elisabeth Le Fanu.
She was a proud wolf and a lowly sow. Under the Church's orders, she was the great sinner who was tasked to kill fourteen ranked demons and their contractors before finally facing her own execution by burning at the stake. Forcibly resurrected, Kaito chose to continue serving by her side after living through various experiences.
He decided to use his life towards leaving such a footnote in the annals of history—During Elisabeth Le Fanu's life of bloodshed, she was always accompanied by a clumsy servant.
Hence, Elisabeth's demon hunt was progressing today without issue.
Elisabeth cheered like a child while chewing a huge bite from a sandwich.
Offal cuisine was Elisabeth's favorite, hence today's menu were catered to her as usual. Fragrant baked buns, thick slices of foie gras and fresh onions, and tomatoes sandwiched together with a rich sauce made from red wine. Inside a slice bucket was liver paste and honeyed figs with black pepper sprinkled on top. In addition, there were refreshing marinated vegetables and cooked eggs, making the basket a colorful feast resembling a blooming field of flowers.
The merciless and stern expression on Elisabeth's face earlier was gone without a trace, leaving only a radiant smile. Kaito almost felt as though he could see a pair of cat ears twitching cheerfully on her head.
By his side, the silver-haired maid was showing a lovely smile, holding a bottle of white wine.
"I am honored that it suits your palate, Lady Elisabeth—Lord Kaito's master."
"Yes, your cooking is the best! Although Kaito is completely useless without a single decent dish to his credit, I must praise him for activating you!"
"I thought I was working quite hard on this and that previously."
"Hmm, it must have been your imagination!"
"I see~ My imagination huh~"
Well, it can't be helped if it was just imagination—Kaito took a bite of his sandwich with a weary look.
Due to his previous life's experiences, Kaito was not picky about food and was fine with anything that did not contain detergent or drugs. However, he could definitely tell that the food was great. With her emerald eyes glimmering brightly, the maid watched his expression while he finished his sandwich.
"Lord Kaito, how is it? Is the taste to your liking?"
"Yeah, it's great. You're always so amazing. I'm so glad you can cook for us every day."
"L-Lord Kaito! You are so bold... I cannot believe you just asked me to stay by your side always, to cook for you every day... Making a wish matter-of-factly and getting it granted matter-of-factly, what a great victory this is for me!"
"What are you two chatting about?"
"No, unfortunately, I wasn't saying anything."
Kaito replied while patting Hina on the head over her cap while she kept exclaiming "Lord Kaito, Lord Kaido, kya, kya." Hina smiled happily, looking like a wagging puppy.
Hina was the robotic doll that Kaito had activated. WHen he first activated her, Kaito had selected "lovers" as their relationship, and so she fell in love with Kaito. But according to Hina, these feelings were confirmed by her own volition, surpassing the framework of Kaito's initial setting, hence they were true feelings originating from the depth of the soul.
Consequently, Hina was deeply in love with Kaito today too.
While Hina was sticking close to Kaito, Elisabeth ate her sandwiches three at a time, raised the glass in her hand and nodded.
"Well, with the demon is taken care of, this is quite an excellent lunch! With the rich flavor of foie gras occupying my palate, a sip of this cold white wine is the best!"
"What I prepared today is a dry wine that has been thoroughly chilled by ice created by a spirit!"
"Eh... Yeah, I think it's pretty nice too."
—If only this was not a graveyard and they were not having a picnic over the place where The Duke had just been roasted...
Kaito muttered lifelessly.
Of all places, they had to pick the hill where the Bull of Phalaris had been set up earlier.
Although Hina had brought a cloth to lay out over the ground, this was the final resting place of The Duke and his victims after all. Nevertheless, Elisabeth scoffed at Kaito's sullen look.
"Ha, what are you talking about? Although this is regarded as 'taboo grounds,' there is some fraction of people unfettered by superstition who use this place for recreation... That being said, the first victims were also these people. This place will be sealed away as desecrated grounds. There is definitely too great an accumulation of grudges. How sad."
"Well, there you have it."
"Prayers from us, who will not shed a single tear, are meaningless. On the other hand, pouring alcohol like so could be considered a type of funeral rite. Drink to your fill, Kaito."
"Fine, neither tears nor prayers are meaningful, that I do agree."
"I prepared dessert too~ Today we have all kinds of fruit tarts! Lady Elisabeth, please enjoy first."
Hina took out a small basket from her belongings and opened the lid. Elisabeth's eyes shone with excitement while deciding where to begin. Hina watched Elisabeth with a tender expression like an older sister. Watching them get long so harmoniously, Kaito exhaled lightly.
He stared off into the the faint blue sky. Despite the twistedness of the situation, things were peaceful at the moment. Everything was going well. The everyday life he hoped for was secure. Precisely because of that, Kaito forcibly suppressed the uneasiness in his heart.
(Yeah, everything is going too well.)
Standing at the top of the fourteen demons was The Emperor, whose contractor was Vlad Le Fanu.
After taking down this enemy of destiny, Elisabeth's demon hunt had progressed steadily.
A few days ago, The Grand President had been taken out. The Grand President was lower than The Duke in rank. Although getting to the enemy was quite a hassle, the final battle could be described as nothing less than one-sided rape.
In this world existed the fourteen ranked demons of The Knight, The President, The Grand President, The Earl, The Grand Earl, The Duke, The Grand Duke, The Marquess, The Grand Marquess, The Monarch, The Grand Monarch, The Sovereign, The Grand Sovereign, and The Emperor. By contracting with humans, they were able to manifest in this world. Merging with their contractors, these demons warped their contractors' physical bodies, conferring great powers upon them.
Demons derived power by extracting grief from God's creations—especially human suffering. Hence, places all over the world were being ravaged by demons and their subordinates—"devotees." The higher a demon's rank, the greater its power. However, without paladins armed by special equipment conferred by the Church, even great armies could not oppose The Knight, which was the lowest ranked demon. There was currently no power capable of resisting the highest ranked Emperor.
(Only one person has acquired power capable of matching or even surpassing the demons. That is "Torturchen" Elisabeth Le Fanu who brutally slaughtered her own people to gather human suffering.)
A while ago, she had taken out The Emperor whose past was intimately tied to hers.
Having defeated the strongest enemy, it was possible that Elisabeth no longer had a match. However, Kaito felt troubled because of this.
After exterminating all fourteen of the ranked demons, Torturchen was going to pay for her sins of murdering her people and the innocent through capital punishment. In other words, as soon as she accomplished her mission, she would be executed. Then as Torturchen's servant, Kaito was going to be subjected to an inquisition and end up with the same fate as her.
Despite knowing all this, he still chose to stay by her side. However, there was no way to overcome the trials ahead except by charging forward. Pouring these insecurities into his words, Kaito spoke up gravely.
"What is the matter, Kaito? I shall not yield my pomegranate tart to you, understood? Hmm? What is with you... That expression. What am I going to do with you? Fine, you may have a small bite on the very edge. Listen carefully, do not think that you could get away with just a whipping if you take more than your fair share, alright? I shall take out the cat o' nine tails."
"No thanks, you can enjoy your treasured tart. Say, didn't you defeat The Emperor?"
"Yes, indeed. Fufufufu, Vlad was totally too weak. Fufufufufu."
"You're laughing in such a scary way, cut that out. So since yuo've defeated The Emperor, who's the strongest... Then there's no one left to challenge you, right? At this rate, the demon hunt will be a breeze."
"Do not make me laugh. That would be complacency."
Elisabeth took a bite of her tart then responded in a tone as sharp as a knife.
The face of child-like innocence from a moment ago seemed like it had never existed, leaving a warrior's solemn countenance. Kaito widened his eyes in surprise.
Licking her red and moist lips, Elisabeth swept away the earlier laid back air and said:
"Not only was Vlad under the Church's restraints, but he had also refrained from merging with The Emperor. In hindsight, simply taking care of the highest ranked demon—the ultimate hound, The Emperor itself—was completely beyond the combined efforts of Hina and myself. I obtained victory by being summoned to Vlad's side, thereby killing the contractor directly. However, had he merge with The Emperor, the situation would have been utterly hopeless for us."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Vlad lost to his own principles of aesthetics. Well, he was a man who would rather die than forsake his pride... Having lost Vlad as its medium, The Emperor vanished as a result, but such a favorable condition would no longer be present when facing other ranked demons. Although I doubt there are any demons as powerful as The Emperor... I know nothing about The Grand Sovereign."
"The Grand Sovereign?"
"The high-ranked demon second to none except The Emperor. Its contractor stayed wary of everyone except for the sole exception of Vlad. Even at the demon conventions held by Vlad, I was not able to meet her when I attended as Vlad's daughter... Now that I think about it, The Grand Sovereign is quite a mysterious enemy. This is not an agreeable situation."
Elisabeth grumble then started eating another tart. Berry jam was squeezed out between her teeth under pressure, turning her lips red. Wiping the jam with a finger then licking it off, she pondered and looked at Kaito.
"Hmm? Are you not going to eat?"
"Hmm, intel is very important regardless what kind of battle... This crust is amazing... Prior investigation is quite worthwhile... The balance between sweet and sour is perfect... If only we had information... The cream's texture is absolutely exquisite... Come to think of it, we should have started gathering information long ago."
"Your food critique is all mixed up with your thoughts."
"It is decided. Let us set off as soon as we finish eating."
Elisabeth popped a piece covered with custard cream into her mouth and declared their next step. In the middle of putting the wine glass away, Hina tilted her head in puzzlement. Next o her, Kaito raised his hand to ask Elisabeth a question.
"Where do you mean by setting off?"
"Is it not obvious? Vlad was the only one who knew The Grand Sovereign, so of course, we are going to his castle. Judging from Vlad's personality, he would have made his castle more cozy when he fled back to his hometown to escape the Church. I am certain he must have moved many many things there from his secret storage."
Kaito thought back to a few months ago.
They had engaged in a fierce battle at Vlad's castle, which was also Elisabeth's hometown. Even now, with the dust all settled, that graveyard of a castle was still sealed off securely.
Picking up the last tart, Elisabeth stood up.
"There might be valuable information."
Finishing the grape tart, she licked her lips and declared.
* * *
In the end, Elisabeth's prediction was quite correct, yet gravely off as well.
"Grrrrrrrr, damn that Vlad, damn that Vlad."
"Ah... I knew it."
Vlad had definitely moved many things into his castle, but the vast majority consisted of furniture required for recreating Elisabeth's childhood room, kitchenware and antiques. Then there were materials for crafting enchanted artifacts and making robotic dolls, but there was not a single object related to his fellow demons.
Inside Vlad's room, Elisabeth was ransacking his desk while Kaito was searching the jewelry shelves behind her.
Looking at those extravagant accessories and feeling astounded, he thought...
(Figures... He's not the type to take an interest in his fellow demons.)
On his own, Kaito figured things out. At that moment, behind him, Elisabeth took out several books, recipe books apparently, and dashed them to the ground.
"Damn him! Making fun of others even when he is dead! I cannot believe that all he moved into the castle were things to make his life comfortable. Nothing less expected from the leader of the demons!"
"Well, looks like it."
"I know his robotic dolls were taken away by the Church, but apart from that, all the enchanted artifacts are his personal items!"
"On the other hand, it looks like nothing related to the other demons was left behind. Or he took care not to?"
"Ha, as if he would be the type to do that. In any case, he despised the other demons and did not bother, I suppose, woah!"
Elisabeth grabbed a drawer at the work desk while grumbling and pulled it out forcefully. At that moment, a piece of black cloth flew out and covered her completely.
"Hey, what the devil is this? Cough."
Elisabeth turned into a black mass but Kaito saw that she was still able to roll around, so the situation was probably not dangerous. Hina stopped searching the bed and turned to rescue Elisabeth, rushing over to her side.
"Lady Elisabeth, are you alright? I shall pull you out right away since it looks like it will be fine. Please hang in there, heave-ho!"
"Wa, cough... Hina... Hey, that hurts, oww, slow down, cough!"
"Hey, don't force it!"
Kaito only offered a reminder then decided to continue on his task. Moving a chess piece made of gold to the side, he returned a brooch that was decorated with bee's wings.
(They all look like they'd fetch a high price, but don't seem to have any other purpose... Hmm?)
Kaito stopped and narrowed his eyes. Between two gems was a black square box without any luster at all. For some reason, it made him especially curious so he reached for it. But upon opening it, he found only a dark red piece of velvet lining the interior. Nothing was kept in the box.
(...Did I imagine it?)
He was just about to close the lid when blue words appeared in the air.
For my dear.
By the time he noticed, there was now had a transparent stone of unknown material at the bottom of the box, which should have been empty originally. Under a surface glowing with iridescent light, there was a blue rosebud sealed inside. Around the tightly shut petals, black feathers were drifting around like snow... This was a magically crafted snow dome.
Kaito recalled how Vlad had used magic. Unlike Elisabeth, he used blue roses. Also, black feathers were symbols of demons.
Kaito reached out and grabbed the stone in trepidation. A familiar heat began to spread in his palm.
Kaito grimaced. This thing was like a small mass of flames yet it was releasing a living creature's warmth. It was like the warmth of a golem body inhabited by a restless soul, that kind of living creature.
Kaito called out then shut his mouth again. After hesitating for a few seconds, he wrapped up the stone in a handkerchief and secretly slid it into his pocket. Acting as though nothing had happened, he turned arond.
"Do not worry, Lady Elisabeth. You are almost out. Heave-ho~!"
"No, wait. You will rip off my head if you pull from there. Hey, I told you to wait, could you listen please, Hina!?"
Tragedy was narrowly averted. Kaito hastily rushed forward to stop Hina. Placing a hand on her shoulder to ask her to wait, he then asked the squirming bag:
"Hey~ Elisabeth, are you still alive?"
"What were you doing? Hurry up and help me, I almost died!"
"Really? Now that's serious."
Kaito carefully removed the decorative cloth that was draped over Elisabeth's shoulders. Hina cleared her throat and apologized, once again making full use of the super arm strength that did not match her slender arms.
"Heave-ho! How is it now, Lady Elisabeth?"
"Puha, v-very good, well done, Hina! With this gap created..."
Elisabeth rolled out safely from the black cloth. Sprawled on the floor, she was probably unaware of her bottom's seductive outline as seen from behind. Shaking her head hard, she tossed her messy hair and cried out:
"V-l-ad! Is this not a tool for disciplining pets that eat food without permission!? I cannot believe he predicted that I would open the drawer without permission and deliberately set a trap for me... Enough of this, I am going home! In any case, the search has proved fruitless!"
Elisabeth finally gave up in resignation then stood up with a huff, striding away. However, she suddenly stopped when she approached the doorway and looked to the wall on the left side.
"Hold on. Thinking calmly, is there not something usable too?"
She suddenly grabbed a sword that was hanging on the wall as decoration. Through some kind of post-processing of unknown means, a melted ruby was wrapped around the slender blade of the sword in a beautiful spiral. It did not seem like a weapon for use in actual combat. Just as Kaito reached that conclusion, Elisabeth swung the sword and whispered:
With a sound resembling steam from the blade the ruby turned into flames starting from the tip. Like fire which had life injected into it the flames flickered while releasing heat.
Turning the sword nimbly in a half-circle, Elisabeth presented the hilt towards Kaito.
Kaito accepted the sword timidly. THe flames instantly solidified and turned back into the ruby.
"Wow, what is this...? It's amazing, how does it work?"
Kaito began to examine the sword closely. With arms crossed and a solemn look on her face, Elisabeth said:
"Kaito, do you want to learn magic?"
"Huh? Magic? What are you talking about? Is it even possible for me to use magic?"
"It depends. Your body is a doll within which runs my blood that is rich in magical power. Furthermore, Vlad asked you to become his successor, right?"
Kaito thought back and nodded even though he found himself speechless for a moment. Elisabeth reached out with her pale hand and touched Kaito's chest, tapping on his heart with her black painted nails.
"Vlad is a calm lunatic. Even though his thought processes are abnormal, he does have a genuinely discerning eye. Since you were able to catch Vlad's eye, you must have good compatibility with demonic power... Although I shan't go as far as to make you eat demon flesh, your aptitude for magic ought to be worth honing. However, it is probably beyond you to extract magical power freely from my blood. On the other hand, using dark magic at a novice level should not present any challenge to you."
Elisabeth nodded on her own. Kaito placed his hand over his own heart.
Elisabeth's blood was definitely running through his body. Putting aside whether he could use it at will, simply in terms of latent magical power, he definitely surpassed ordinary people by far.
"Although you have gained Hina, you are still a total pushover. Give me your hand."
"My hand? Here you go."
"It will hurt."
With a simple warning, Elisabeth slid her finger down. Red petals fluttered and made a deep cut on Kaito's palm. At the same time, a figure suddenly appeared behind Elisabeth. Elisabeth calmly raised her arms and said:
"Listen carefully, Hina. Black magic is accompanied by pain. Nothing more to it. Do not get worked up."
"...Please secure consent beforehand. Otherwise, harming my beloved Lord Kaito would easily mark you for death by my hand. Kindly remember that."
Hina spoke softly and released the knife she was holding against Elisabeth's neck on reflex.
Elisabeth shrugged, snatched the sword from Kaito's hand then presented the hilt to him again.
"Start with basics. Use your injured hand to hold this and try to activate the magic imbued in the sword by using the blood as a catalyst. The principle is the same as how you poured magical power into the summoning magic circle carved on your abdomen."
"Okay, let me try."
Kaito took the hilt as instructed. The rough ornaments pressing on his wound caused it to hurt, but Kaito had spent many years in abuse that felt as painful as torture. To him, this level of pain was nothing.
(The same principle as pouring magical power into the summoning circle, huh? Does it need more blood?)
Kaito gripped the hilt tighter, causing his blood to flow out. The red liquid dripped from his palm. He recalled the memory of the burning sensation on his wound due to the effects of magic. Fortunately, Kaito had acquired a special skill from the experiences in his previous life. He retained a perfect memory of any information so long as it was accompanied by pain. Using Elisabeth's blood that was coursing through his body, he simply pictured burning flames in his mind and spoke softly:
With an impressive sound, the ruby transformed into flowing flames.
"Amazing, nothing less expected of Lord Kaito!"
"Oh? Not bad for a first try! You are pretty quick on the uptake!"
Praised by the two girls, Kaito responded to them while turning his attention to the stone in his pocket. As soon as he figured out the way to activate the enchanted item, it felt like the stone pulsed to tempt him.
(If my suspicions are right, this thing is probably...)
"However, this is merely the basics of the basics in the chapter of basics. True hell awaits you next. There is no time to lose. Now pick out a few weapons that feel like they would be usable and return to my castle to begin your training!"
"It's true that it's a good idea for me to learn how to fight demons, but please go easy on me."
"Hmph, no can do!"
After healing the wound on Kaito's hand, Elisabeth left the room jauntily. Hina and Kaito followed closely.
The trio went through other rooms and left the castle gate after claiming several weapons and items. Passing through streets where human bones remained, they reached the plaza that was connected to a teleportation circle. With a tap of her heel against the ground, Elisabeth made the red magic circle reappear. Red petals fluttered in the air, turning into a wall surrounding the trio, then rotated while melding into blood. Once the curtain of blood fell, the trio vanished from the town.
They arrived safely at the teleportation circle in the underground chamber at Elisabeth's castle.
Passing through the musty passage that seemed to echo with moaning, they arrived at the staircase leading to higher levels of the castle.
"How about a spot of tea to have a break first? Or perhaps we still have some tarts?"
While speaking on her own, Elisabeth opened the door to the dining hall. At that moment...
The chandelier clanged.
Wrapped in chains, a certain familiar person was hanged there.
* * *
The black figure swayed, producing grating noises.
The hanged figure looked like decoration newly added to the chandelier. The shining chain criss-crossed the chandelier arms many times, choking the figure's neck tightly.
The figure's head was bent at a bizarre angle, most likely dead.
Staring at the pitiful corpse, Kaito and Elisabeth cried out:
"The Meat Supplier!"
The victim was the Meat Supplier. He was a demi-human merchant who visited Elisabeth's castle to peddle meat. His entire body was shrouded in the tattered black cloak he always wore.
Hidden deep under the hood, his face remained impossible to see as always, but even without checking his facial expression, the broken neck was already a strong statement about the truth of his death.
Covering her mouth, Hina murmured in shock.
"...Mr. Meat Supplier? Why did this happen?"
"No idea... What the heck happened here?"
Kaito shook his head. He did not why the Meat Supplier had been killed or who did it.
Just as nervous expressions appeared on the trio's faces, the Meat Supplier's corpse slowly turned, as though to answer their many questions, then spoke energetically.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the enemy did this! The enemy came!"
"The dead body is speaking!"
"No way, this can't be happening."
"Did he fail to pass on!?"
"Hmm, to think that no one is glad that I am alive, I can certainly feel the deep love you have for me."
Hanging there, the Meat Supplier's body swayed in protest. The grand chandelier creaked and grated. All covered with scales, an arm emerged from under the Meat Supplier's black cloak, also shaking.
"...Hmm? An arm? So what's tied up tightly by the chain is the tail and not the neck?"
"Precisely! Since I was in this upside down posture, I am actually still alive! Just as the enemy was about to hang me by the neck, I swiftly reversed my posture inside my clothing! The enemy failed to notice and left after hanging me by the tail! Oh dear, what a close shave."
"Eh, how did such a trick work?"
"As the Meat Supplier, such skills are only natural, after all."
"Seriously, Meat Supplier, you're amazing."
Oh my, I am so glad to be alive, hahaha. The two of them began to chat leisurely.
At that moment, Elisabeth suddenly cocked her head in puzzlement.
"Hold on, Meat Supplier. You just said that the enemy came, didn't you? Who hanged you in my castle?"
"Ah yes, indeed. The enemy attacked, Lady Elisabeth! I am the Meat Supplier, so let me be frank. I have no interest in your war with the demons, absolutely no interest at all."
"You are on thin ice here."
"However, a direct encounter would be a different matter! A demon came to this castle! It was exuding a very evil aura from all over its body! The demon hanged me as evidence of its visit and is waiting somewhere else for your return, Lady Elisabeth... Oh, please do not go, let me doooooooown!"
Ignoring the Meat Supplier's scream, Elisabeth returned to the corridor and strode away.
Behind her, Kaito asked:
"You know where the demon is?"
"Hah, this is an imbecile who has the nerve to make a scene in Torturchen's castle, my castle. As the saying goes, stupid people and smoke like high places, so there is only one place for someone like that to go."
Elisabeth spoke with disdain, advancing along a path lit by light streaming in through the stained glass of high windows. She climbed a spiral staircase then pushed open a set of two great doors to the throne room.
The blew in. A magnificent throne was positioned on a pedestal inside the throne room. Ancient tapestries were hanging to the left and right, contributing to a solemn atmosphere. Ever since the attack from The Knight, this place had been a quarter wrecked.
Kaito did not know if it was out of laziness or obstinacy, but Elisabeth neglected to have the wall mended.
In front of the blue sky visible through the hole in the wall, someone was sitting on the throne.
It was a handsome youth with a pretty face and tidy blond hair reaching to his shoulders. His swaying legs, extending out from his shorts, were long and slender like a girl's. He was at the side table, handling some fruit he had brought on his own.
Using a knife to slice a pomegranate in half, he opened his mouth. Elisabeth's figure was reflected in his amber eyes.
At the same time, Elisabeth mercilessly shouted:
With a swirl of red petals and black darkness at the center of the ceiling, a massive blade suspended from a chain swung down with a heavy clong, stopping in midair. The blade began to oscillate in a wide arc. With a flash, the blade accelerated instantaneously and smashed the throne. However, the youth's corpse was nowhere to be seen when the dust settled.
Imperceptibly, the youth had moved over to the wall at some point. The blade corrected its trajectory and automatically approached the youth's position, but just as the blade was about to slice him directly, he vanished again.
By the time, they noticed, the youth was right in front of Elisabeth and company.
Kaito gasped but Elisabeth locked her lips with a wave of her hand, looking like she expected this. Instantly, the youth fell on one knee as though his leg had been broken. A out of place looking red shawl covering his neck came into Elisabeth's view.
Confronted by the enemy's sudden action, Elisabeth frowned.
"President, what is the meaning of this?"
"Greetings, Lady Elisabeth Le Fanu, Lord Vlad's beloved and overly perfect daughter. Although I hold enmity towards you, just as you can see, I have no intention of killing you. The purpose of my visit this time is to invite dear Torturchen to my humble abode."
"What did you say?"
"This is my letter of invitation and humble gift, please accept it."
The President took out a paper box decorated with ribbons and a letter from thin air, presenting them to Elisabeth shakily. After confirming that this was not a magical trap, Elisabeth accepted the objects despite frowning even more intensely.
At that moment, The President stood up in a weird manner as though his body was pulled by strings. Then his expression contorted softly while he took a stiff bow like a clown.
"I-I-I-I humbly await—y-y-y-your grand arrival."
His body tilted horizontally without warning, the unnatural smile remained hanging on his face as though painted on, he sank into the ground like a rock entering water.
Elisabeth snapped her fingers, turning the pendulum back into petals, and crossed her arms.
"Although The President is a small fry only slightly stronger than The Knight, something clearly looks off about him."
"Yeah, I find him very weird too. What is that box?"
"Probably... Baked goods inside. Oh my, do not touch them carelessly."
Inside the box were many cookies with jam on top, looking very delicious. However, Elisabeth warned solemnly and snapped her fingers at the same time.
The exquisite snacks burned up in the air, turning into charcoal.
"Of all the demons, that guy especially loved to curry favor with Vlad, so I know his powers. To lace food with poison or narcotics through touch, an ability suited to assassination... Hence, my original prediction was for The President to avoid encountering me until the very end."
"Would someone like him go out of his way to deliver a letter of invitation to the castle?"
"Indeed. Why send me an invitation? When did he get so adept in teleportation magic?"
Elisabeth's gaze fell upon the invitation letter. Imprinted upon the paper were blue glowing magical letters. The main gist of the text was probably explaining this object's inteference with Elisabeth's teleportation circle, allowing it to transport them to The President's residence.
Kaito frowned just like Elisabeth.
"I don't get it at all."
"Indeed, how incomprehensible. However, I must jump into this trap. Ahead of this clue is something I must confirm as quickly as possible. This is merely my premonition and what I want to do."
Hearing Elisabeth's decision, Kaito and Hina nodded. It was necessary to find the mastermind hiding behind The President. Kaito agreed with this viewpoint, but felt an intense sense of foreboding and worry.
(It feels like this is heading towards something very bad.)
Just as Kaito clicked his tongue, Hina covered her mouth and cried out:
"Oh right, before we leave, we need to let the Meat Supplier down."
" "Oh." "
Now that it was mentioned, Elisabeth and Kaito had forgotten him completely.
* * *
The trio returned to the dining hall to see the Meat Supplier desperately swaying from side to side, producing grating noises. It looked like he had resigned himself, trying to make the chandelier fall down outright.
"Hey, Meat Supplier. Stop trying to make my chandelier fall down. Hey."
"Ehh, I have been roped into a war that does not concern me and barely survived yet you people ignored me, that is so cruel, so unfair! I protest strongly! Even if my body rots into dust, a second and a third Meat Supplier shall rise in my place!"
"I apologize. I shall let you down now, be patient. Hina."
Wielding her halberd, Hina jumped and unleashed a flash of her blade against the chain in the air. The sharp slice severed steel, releasing the Meat Supplier's tail, causing him to fall hard on the floor. Then like a turtle, he swiftly retracted his tail and his arm into his black cloak, straightened out his clothing deftly, doing all this without showing anyone his face.
As soon as he stood up, having regained his freedom, he saw the trio of Elisabeth, Kaito and Hina, and cocked his head in puzzlement.
"Hmm? Why the nervous faces...? And the beautiful maid is carrying a weapon... Are you headed towards a dangerous land?"
"Yes, we are about to set off for the residence of the demon that had hanged you."
"Unbelievable. In that case, please take care, Milord Dim-witted Servant."
The Meat Supplier seldom spoke so mysteriously. Puzzled, Kaito looked at the Meat Supplier questioningly.
The Meat Supplier drew his face near and said quietly and solemnly:
"I am not too sure either, but in any case, that fellow has the stench of rotten meat on him."
The Meat Supplier felt a vague sense of foreboding.
Kaito wholeheartedly agreed with him.
* * *
Elisabeth placed the invitation letter at the center of the teleportation circle, bathing it in her own blood. The paper dissolved and vanished. However, the blue words remained and began to float on top of the flowing blood.
Elisabeth, Kaito and Hina stood on the circle. At the same time, the teleportation circle turned blue and began to spin rapidly, surrounding the three of them with blue petals. The blue petals melded together, forming a cylindrical wall before turning into black feathers starting from the edge. The feathers fluttered violently into the air and gradually vanished.
"Remember, do not get careless. Treat where we are going as your potential final resting place."
The instant the black curtain disappeared, roaring laughter was heard.
Kaito and company found themselves at a grand entrance hall, presumably at the mansion of The President.
Here, a banquet was in session.
There were many round tables in the hall, almost covering the entire floor, laden with dishes packed tightly together. A whole pig roast was mounted on the decorated mantelpiece while an old bust sculpture was being used as a pie receptacle. Popped corks were flying around like bullets while wine and beer were being drunk straight from bottles and kegs.
A beautiful noblewoman was dipping a sausage into a thick red sauce (probably tomato) then biting it with an unseemly voice. Next to her, a boy who was apparently a peasant, was stuffing his mouth with bright red cake. Perhaps people were eating too much, some of them were vomiting. Red sauce, unfinished food and vomit was spilled on the floor, stepped on and becoming a viscous mess.
This was evidently a lively event where food and merrymaking took precedence, abandoning all manner of etiquette.
In front of Kaito was a swathe of extravagant colors. Aromas tickled his nose. Lively music entered his ears. The sound of silverware colliding served as accompaniment while there was an endless noise resembling that of pigs gorging on leftovers.
"What is going on?"
Confronted with this ugly yet luxurious feast, Kaito was utterly stunned. Next to him, Elisabeth was sweeping her gaze around silently. Hina stepped forward to protect Kaito and said quietly:
"...Lady Elisabeth, this smell..."
"I understand. No need to spell it out."
Suddenly, a young girl carrying a silver platter and an old woman with a gentle countenance walked to the front. Opening their lips that were smeared with red, they smiled radiantly.
The girl lifted the lid from the silver platter, revealing a rabbit roasted whole, garnished with fragrant vegetables. Again, red sauce had been poured over the rabbit's back.
With unfocused eyes, the old woman rubbed her hands together and said cordially:
"Oh my oh my, we have new guests. Welcome to the Lord President's banquet. Ever since we were invited here, we've been freed from the troubles of the mundane world, spending our days partaking in lovely food and nothing else. Join us and enjoy the sumptuous feast. Come, please eat to your hearts' content!"
(They don't seem to be a demon's servants—Not devotees. They look like ordinary people.)
The merrymaking people (including demi-humans and beast folk) seemed to have been brought here by The President. It was said that The President had the power to turn food into poison or narcotics, but Kaito could not see any fatal abnormalities in these people. The food seemed highly addictive, but that was all.
—Then what next?
Just as Kaito was thinking...
Elisabeth spoke quietly. Black darkness and red petals responded to her words, swirling in vortex. A white doll appeared from the vortex, landing on the ground with a crash. Then this beautiful maiden lifted her face.
She was very similar to the Iron Maiden in appearance, but her image differed greatly from her title of saint.
The saint was dressed in a modest long white dress, her neat silver hair draping down, her eyes closed as though praying. Unlike the magnificently dressed Iron Maiden, Saint Guillotine was as pure and proud as a nun.
Elisabeth stomped her foot. The saint's pure-white arms crossed before her chest then opened again.
With a whoosh, two rectangular blades slid out from her arms, instantly sweeping across the necks of people in the hall, causing the room to shake, finally embedding in the wall.
With the splattering of blood, heads rolled and fell.
Kaito yelled in surprise.
Bathed in a rain of blood, the saint brought her arms together again and opened them without any change in expression.
Heads fell to the ground, the music stopped. The girl's head dropped next to the roasted whole rabbit while the old woman's wrinkly head fell diagonally, dropping helplessly on the floor.
Elisabeth was about to stomp her foot again when Kaito finally came to his senses and grabbed her shoulders tightly.
"Stop it! These are all ordinary people!"
"Yes, but what happens to ordinary people invited to a demon's banquet?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Look at what they are eating."
At Elisabeth's urging, Kaito swept his gaze across a round table, instantly becoming speechless.
The guests were still ravenously gobbling the food that had been stained by the rain of blood. An obese man stuffed a scone into his mouth, chewing with great enjoyment and swallowed, forcing it down into his stomach.
"Guuh... Ah, ah... geh, gi, oehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
With eyes wide open, mucus and blood dripping out of his nostrils, he vomited something while in pain.
The red vomit splashed over the food on the table.
Only then did Kaito realize he was mistaken regarding what he had thought was sauce.
"—Those are their own internal organs, liquefied."
Elisabeth revealed the answer without hesitation.
The guests were painfully vomiting their internal organs that had been dissolved by the highly toxic food, yet unable to resist their dependency on the demon's delicacies, they kept swallowing their own flesh together with the food on the table, back into their own bellies.
The grand feast before Kaito's eyes was hell disguised as paradise.
"It is too late for them to be treated. Their addiction itself cannot be cured either. A swift and painless death is the only mercy for them."
Asserting without hesitation, Elisabeth stomped her foot again.
Obeying Torturchen's decisive judgment, Saint Guillotine swung her arms.
All the people's heads flew into the air while the ceiling was splashed red from the splattering blood.
Many heads rolled on the ground like fruit, leaving headless bodies to crumple and collapse.
Kaito desperately held back words calling for a stop to this, leaving them unvoiced in the end. Worried about him, Hina gently touched his arm.
Elisabeth turned the saint back into petals and started walking through the piles of dead bodies.
"What are you spacing out for? We have to find The President."
"Yeah, got it. Let's find him—and kill him."
Kaito spoke softly with intense anger, following after Elisabeth. Exiting the room where the banquet had ended, he was not going to cry stop again.
To kill The President, the trio began to search the mansion.
* * *
The President was almost at the bottom of the demon hierarchy, but his atrocities were abominable. His banquet from hell was not limited to the entrance hall but extended throughout the entire mansion.
"This is the worst. Who knew it went this far?"
Confirming the tragedy in the mansion, Kaito cursed viciously.
In the dining hall, people covered in The President's spices were eating one another. In the kitchen, frenzied men went as far as to slice their stomachs open in search for food to fuel their addictions, sucking out the contents while dying. In the dungeon, a young mother left a letter before committing suicide. The letter said that she had eaten her own baby. Collapsed on a sofa was a young girl. Having eaten snacks filled with nails, her intestines were ruptured and shredded. Inside a pond in the courtyard, many young children were drowned in a sea of cake, dead from suffocation.
Climbing stairs leading to the second floor, Elisabeth answered without being prompted.
"Among the demons, The President's powers are very weak, even more unsuitable for combat than The Knight's, making him a target of despise. That is why he has been venting his frustrations on humans while gathering suffering to gain strength... Like a child trying to absorb nutrients to grow taller."
"What a joke."
"I agree totally with you, Lord Kaito."
Kaito nodded expressionlessly to acknowledge Hina.
Since Kaito's anger had surpassed a certain level, he had regained his calmness now. Kaito quietly searched everywhere for The President, and found numerous victims, but could not find the crucial youth.
Despite inviting Torturchen on his own, The President was hiding from his guest.
(Where... Where the hell is he? Hmm?)
Walking along the second floor corridor that encircled the entrance hall, Kaito frowned deeply.
There was a rotten stench in the air.
In the corridor that was filled with the aroma of food, that stench was very out of place. Apart from the second floor corridor, the other rooms and corridors had such overwhelming sweet fragrances from snacks and aromas from meat that even the stench of dead bodies could be covered up. However, one room in a corner of the second floor was giving off a stench that could not be suppressed entirely.
Just now, after making one round through the mansion, Kaito and company had confirmed the source of that stench. It was a room stuffed with rotten meat, located on the second floor. The meat's most likely purpose was to serve as food for the ravenous people. Although that was what Elisabeth decided, Kaito suddenly felt strongly that something was not right with that room. His mind had become very lucid due to his intense anger, filtering out information, the Meat Supplier's words surfaced in his consciousness.
'That fellow has the stench of rotten meat on him.'
"—The stench of rotten meat."
Kaito repeated those words almost unconsciously then began to sprint. Without telling Elisabeth and Hina first, he ran to the room in the corner, which was not connected to any other passages. Like a loyal hound, Hina followed vigilantly behind him, but did not say anything, looking like she was still figuring out what Kaito was thinking.
Kaito opened the door and was greeted by a strong stench spilling out into the corridor.
Inside was a luxurious bedroom. The bed was in the center with a canopy. A giant mass of rotten flesh was sunk in the bed. The sheets had turned dark red with rotten fat coagulating on it. There was nothing moving inside this filthy room and the shutters were closed tightly. However, Kaito could sense a subtle flow in the air and narrowed his eyes.
Scrutinizing, he saw that the back of the partially dissolved flesh was heaving up and down. The lump of flesh was breathing. Furthermore, he could see murky blood flowing through blood vessels visible under the surface of the flesh.
Confronted by this horrifying situation, Kaito could not help but take a step back.
Although this flesh was thoroughly decomposing, it was still alive.
"Rotten, flesh... I see now... It's this guy."
"Lord Kaito, what are you doing? What is the matter with this room?"
"Hey, there should not be anything in the room except for rotten flesh. What are you doing?"
At that point, Elisabeth caught up to them. Kaito shook his head at the girls and pointed to the ugly mass of flesh, answering in a whimper.
"...This is The President."
"What are you talking about?"
"This mass of rotten flesh is The President!"
Elisabeth pushed Kaito aside and walked up. Hina also had Kaito retreat further. Then inserting a finger into the rotten flesh, Elisabeth tore through the decomposing meat with her black-painted fingernail and dug deep inside.
The lump of flesh trembled slightly but did not show further reaction. Elisabeth drew out her finger. Manipulating the black blood flowing out weakly from the flesh with her fingertips, she said in surprise:
"A demon's magical power is definitely flowing through this thing."
"So it is him after all?"
"Yes, without a doubt... But what happened? The President was in the guise of a handsome youth when he came to the castle earlier. Demon contractors usually maintain human form but reveal their true and ugly appearances, the result of merging with their demon, when releasing their power."
"So this rotten flesh is his true appearance?"
"No, it is not, which is why this is unusual... I have seen The President's merged form before. It is that of a gray giant. Ugly, I give you that, but not rotten flesh... Could this be something left behind when the giant collapsed? Its powers have partially gone berserk... Did it become like this because it could no longer maintain its sense of self? What on earth happened?"
Arms crossed, Elisabeth began to think.
The rotten flesh suddenly moved.
Clinging stickily to the skin, something merged with the body fell off from what might have been the neck. Although it was discolored by decomposing fluids, closer examination revealed that it was the red shawl wrapped around The President's neck before. The damp cloth fell down to expose something silver glinting in the light. Made in the shape of a brain, the decorative pin was embedded deeply in The President's neck.
No sooner had Elisabeth murmured, the body of rotten flesh suddenly jumped. With gross noises, The President tore apart his own flesh that had stuck together while opening his eyes. His murky eyes, like those of a dead fish, stared at Elisabeth. The President opened his massive jaws and roared like a monster. The remaining rotten teeth fell out from his mouth.
Elisabeth snapped her fingers without saying a word, conjuring an iron stake to fly at The President's mouth. However, something dark red flew out of the decomposing body, brushing past the flying stake to hurtle towards Elisabeth.
On alert, Hina swiftly swung her halberd to block, meanwhile exclaiming in surprise.
No one would have expected it. The object turned out to be The President's heart.
Elisabeth's stake impaled The President's body unerringly, flying out from the back. At the same time, the heart ruptured on its own before Hina could slice it
The dark red flesh scattered.
The blood from the explosion formed over a hundred arms, reaching around Hina to target Elisabeth.
The arms tenderly embraced Elisabeth, wrapping up her body. Blood with a creepy color began to stain her pale skin like poison, marking her entire body with patterns that resembled the Church's restraints.
Elisabeth widened her eyes in surprise then collapsed to the ground. Hina hurried over to catch her by the shoulders.
"Lady Elisabeth! Please hang in there!"
Kaito dashed over to her. At that moment, having lost his heart, punctured by the stake, The President died with a torrent of tears. Motionless, the rotten flesh gradually turned into many black feathers starting from the edges.
(The demon spat out its own heart?)
Kaito was quite puzzled by this. At the same time, he knelt down on one knee next to Elisabeth. Hina hugged Elisabeth's shoulders tighter. Like an abused girl, Elisabeth shuddered with her defiled skin, groaning:
"Kuh... Ah, could... this be..."
At that moment, the sound of chains was heard.
"Sacrifice—A taboo curse for partially sealing away demonic power, using a demon's heart as the price."
His entire body tense, Kaito turned around. Before confirming the presence, he had already gotten a faint feeling.
What arrived was most likely something evil.
That woman was climbing the stairs with dignity like a king.
She was dressed in a crinoline dress making generous use of red fabric. The front of the skirt did not use any fabric, exposing the bird cage-like frame inside. Beautiful legs, pale to an unnatural degree, were exposed inside there. She was followed by a huge number of devotees, dressed in bondage suits that completely covered their faces and collars on their necks. Chains extending from their tight collars were all connected to her rings.
Featuring red eyes and red hair, she laughed like a blazing fire.
"The President's mansion is very ugly, isn't it? Don't you find it fitting that he breathed his last breath in his own playground, turned into a mass of flesh? He invited you here with the intent to smash that heart against you. If you enjoyed yourself, The President would surely be happy. Clowns exist as clowns for the purpose of bringing joy to others."
"You... accursed... You used your fellow demon's... heart, huh?"
In pain, Elisabeth questioned her in a tone of revulsion.
Feeling honored instead of offended, the woman in red nodded acceptingly.
"Indeed, Elisabeth. In deference to Vlad, I used to respect my peers' lives, but now that he is dead, there is no longer any necessity for me to do so. Even a weak demon can be turned into an effective means of attack simply by consuming its life. Don't you find that superb? Oh dear... Why am I prattling on, forgetting to introduce myself? I am terribly sorry."
The beautiful woman smiled calmly and confidently like a queen, bowing elegantly.
At the same time, she tugged the chains connected to the collars. The devotees behind her all bowed their heads together.
"I am The Grand Monarch, Fiore."
After introducing herself, the woman lifted her face and smiled. Confronted with her overwhelming dignity and pressure, Kaito and Hina were stunned. In front of these two, who still wanted to protect their master, The Grand Monarch declared:
"Playtime is over, little princess. Come, let the adult time of chaos begin."