Chapter 4 - Years as a Hybrid Demon
Saladin’s clothes were caked in blood and the cloying metallic smell of it hung heavily in the air. Despite sporting fresh traces of death all over his body, Saladin’s laugh was incredibly bright. It was as if death had not so much as touched him. His gleeful expression filled me with disgust.
Though, my disapproval hardly meant much considering that I’d also killed not that long ago. Keeping my expression blank, I rested my hand on his head and said, “I’m glad you’re uninjured.”
“I like it when you’re worried about me,” Saladin giggled, as he leaned his body against mine. His eyes—pitch-black like the depths of hell—gazed up at me, filled with warmth and affection.
Still, it was hard to ignore the fact that the hair cascading over his shoulders, which was normally as white as the hottest flame, along with the rest of his body, was completely dyed in the blood of his slaughtered victims. Suppressing the inner turmoil I felt, I fixed my face into a neutral expression before pointing at the kneeling apostles.
“Would you like to take care of them?” I asked.
Saladin’s gaze followed the direction of my finger until he reached the apostles. Instantly, the corners of his mouth twisted into an upturned arc. Puffing out his chest proudly, he chirped, “Yes! Leave it to me!”
Crossing my arms, I leaned back and watched as Saladin walked past me and headed toward the group.
Saladin. Saladin Apocalita was a therianthrope—a hybrid of human and Cerberus, also known as the gatekeeping hound of hell—that possessed the power to wield hellfire. Having yet to experience his growth spurt, he remained smaller in stature despite his 16 years of age and still struggled with the concealment of his demonic traits.
Father had rejoiced when Saladin was born and held a grand celebration in his honor. However, that joy quickly morphed into anger when his power failed to bloom. Saladin was supposed to be consigned to the fate of having his mana core plucked out for reuse, but his life was spared when I intervened. From that moment onwards, Saladin began following me around like an adoring puppy.
In truth, Saladin’s life wouldn’t have ended even if I had stood idly by. In the novel, his latent powers awakened the moment he was thrown into the black lava for disposal. He would have survived no matter what I had done, and it wasn’t technically necessary for me to step in and save him. Nonetheless, I chose to do so on purpose, since maintaining a certain degree of friendship with him was important for my future. Although, admittedly, we’re closer than strictly necessary for the simple goal of achieving my purpose. The thought made me click my tongue, as I absentmindedly stroked the back of Hiron’s neck.
Having scanned through the parchment, Saladin squatted until he was eye-level with the kneeling apostles and questioned, “This is it?”
“Yes. Th-that’s everything.”
“It’s not enough. Father won’t be pleased.”
“B-but it’s because the northern area isn’t as densely popula—”
“Shoot. Should I have waited until he was finished speaking before I killed him?” Saladin asked, cocking his head to the side. He carelessly flicked off the blood that had splattered all over his hands from the impromptu beheading, “Anyhow, do the rest of you have anything to add? Anyone else wants to offer up other excuses?”
The apostles—now a group of six—lowered their heads down to their chests and trembled. A few of them even began to weep. Meanwhile, dark energy—Father’s powers—was spilling out from the decapitated apostle’s corpse. The dark energy swirled and soared high up into the air, before undoubtedly making its way back to Father.
Geez, I ask him to take care of it, and he goes and takes their lives.
Letting out a sigh, I slowly made my way toward the group.
“Hey, you can’t just go around killing people like that,” I scolded, as I rested my hand on Saladin’s shoulder, “You know that Father ordered us to maintain seven apostles.”
“Oh, right. I forgot.”
“Next time, spare a moment to think before you act. Now, you’ve created one more troublesome situation we’ll have to deal with.”
“Alright,” Saladin’s ears drooped and he added, “I’m sorry.”
It was difficult to believe that my simple scolding had left Saladin feeling so downcast. Was his personality like that of a dog’s simply because he’d been fused with one?
I sighed and gave him a quick, encouraging pat on the head to comfort him. I then turned my attention back to the group of apostles still quivering in place.
“Gather 300 more believers,” I commanded. Ignoring how they flinched and their shoulders shook in terror, I continued, “That way, we’ll be able to create test subjects that can then protect you.”
It wasn’t an unreasonable demand—a thousand human lives were needed in the creation of each test subject, and the apostles wished for the endless proliferation of the Apocalita. Besides, they weren’t about to try and bargain with me after having just witnessed the death of their comrade. I watched as they nodded their heads and scrambled to kneel obediently.
“Yes, Lady Karina,” one apostle said.
“We apologize for causing you any inconvenience and humbly accept your orders,” another apostle added.
“Also, here,” I added, as I pulled a small pouch from where it was tucked near my chest.
Tossing the pouch at them, dozens of gold coins spilled out and onto the floor. The sound of coins sliding against each other rang out, and I watched as the apostles’ eyes widened in surprise.
When they raised their eyes to gaze at me, I explained, “Use this to pay your respects to your friend.”
“Th-thank you! We will fulfill our duty and recruit more believers!”
Yes, yes. Waving my hand as a sign of dismissal, the apostles quickly rose to their feet, bowed, and hurried away. Watching them disappear, I held my forehead and let out a long weary sigh.
“Karina’s too soft-hearted. She’s much too nice when there’s absolutely no need for her to be so.”
Hearing Saladin muttering to himself, I turned to look at him. The way he pouted his lips clearly indicated his displeasure with the compassion I’d just shown the apostles. Perhaps sensing my gaze, he lifted his dark eyes to meet mine. Because his pupils were pitch-black, I could clearly see myself reflected in them. A figure with dark blue hair, pallid skin like that of a corpse, mysterious chartreuse eyes, and a snake wrapped around their neck—it was the image of a monster.
“Do you pity the humans?” Saladin asked.
“No,” I replied.
I wasn’t lying—if I truly felt sorry for them, I wouldn’t have given them money and sent them along their way. If I had pitied them, I would’ve given them the gift of eternal slumber. After all, the reality we existed in was far more horrendous than hell. The reason I had allowed them to leave with their lives was precisely because I did not pity them.
Shifting my eyes to look up at the murky sky, I softly added, “I pity us more.”
You are required to login first