Standing in front of me was a priest, a warm smile adorning his face.
But he was no normal person. His magic power and combat power were both quite high. In Yggdrasia, he would have been a Rank 4 or Rank 5. People with such power weren’t all that rare among the players and the senior knights, but this was Earth, a planet without mana. How had he gained such magic power?[Middle-Aged Priest] [Race: Human ♂] [Saint] [Magic Points (MP): 150/150] [Hit Points (HP): 250/250] [Total Combat Power: 840]
‘Saint’…? The skill Identification quantified the information about my target that I perceived through my senses and magic, then showed the results to me. Thus, the impression that I had of the target could affect the information that the skill displayed.
I’d always thought that as I was a monster, my Identification results were more accurate than a human with their inferior sensory organs.
Either the impression I had upon seeing him had named him a Saint, or the instincts that I had as a demon was telling me so.
“…what are you?” I narrowed my eyes in wariness and asked.
His smile only became bigger.
“My name is Aiden, a man of the cloth. Ahh, demon, I have been waiting so long to talk with you. Come, come, let me prepare you some tea.”
As Aiden was about to move to the table, I asked.
“Aren’t you a priest? Why do you believe in the existence of demons?”
He turned around with a beaming smile.
“Indeed, indeed I do. The existence of evil demons is what proved the existence of the good God, after all.”
I had no idea what he was saying. I was curious about who he truly was, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation with someone that might as well be advocating that even demons were the creation of God.
Yet just as I was about to go deeper into the facility, ignoring Aiden, a sudden attack came from my back that held not a single whiff of killing intent. I immediately blocked with my fist and retreated.
“…you want to fight?”
The edge of the glove on my left hand, the one I’d used to block, was crumbling into particles of light.
…could this be… the power of a Hero? No, not quite. It was similar to the power that Gold Hero guy had used, but the elementals couldn’t exist here on Earth. There was no way Aiden could have received an elemental’s Blessing.
Aiden, unchanging smile on his face even as he’d attacked, made the sign of the cross on his chest and replied.
“Hear me, demon… If you are still intent on corrupting the world of Man, then as a devout follower of God, I shall not allow you to transgress any further. Repent, demon. Receive my purification, and your sins shall be absolved.”
He’d absolve a demon? He wasn’t even God, just a normal human. Was he really saying that? He even used the words “the world of Man” despite proclaiming himself a follower of God. Was this the humans’ own sin, then?
So anyway, he wasn’t giving me a choice here, was he?
Aiden’s muscles bulged under his vestment, cloth straining against his skin. Was it a sort of body reinforcement? Curious, but if he wasn’t willing to listen, then I had no reason to let him live.
Aiden let loose a merciless fist. His blow looked quite a bit sharper than what his combat power suggested. As I expected, skills installed into avatars were a far cry from skills gained with real experience.
I still had far more combat power though. I effortlessly stopped his fist, grabbing it with my hand. But just as I was about to freeze him with the contact, a powerful light shone from his fist. At the same time, I felt his soul surging.
He gave a cry of sustained effort, and my grasp on his fist was repelled. For a single instant, I certainly felt power equivalent to that of a Hero’s from Aiden.
But there was something more important. I had an inkling of what the source of that power was.
“…so you’re burning your own soul to gain power, is it?”
While I might have become a demon, I was an artificial one. I wasn’t all that well-versed in matters of the soul.
But the World Tree had told me about the reason for the soul’s existence. With the knowledge, I could see how sinful it was to turn your own soul into power.
“Indeed, demon. To be closer to the teachings of God, I have trained myself for many decades, and I have finally reached the truth! I have been granted the power to create miracles!” Aiden replied, sounding enraptured.
“…even if your soul disappear for it?”
“Such a foolish question. It is exactly the moment that I shall be released from the impure flesh, when God shall welcome me to His side!”
Now that? That made him interesting to me.
Perhaps it was my demonic instincts talking. My soul, the soul of a girl who’d become a demon, was whispering to me, saying it wanted to corrupt Aiden’s own soul, so ignorant, so innocent.
“Then I’ll tell you the truth…”
“Spare me your deception!”
Aiden charged toward me, once more burning parts of his soul. Even if he could approach the strength of a true Hero in just an instant, I still had nearly ten times his combat power. I fended off his attacks, slamming him onto the ground, and I stabbed my scarlet claws into his forehead.
The evolved skill could now affect space itself instead of just electronics. And my power to manipulate electrons was no longer limited to the digital world — I could now even interfere with the faint bioelectricity that all living beings possessed.
It should work. Theoretically. I turned a part of my own memory into digital information, turning it visual, and directly poured it into Aiden’s brain.
He screamed in pure anguish. Blood streamed from his eyes and nose.
After the ‘video’ finished playing, Aiden lay still, deathly silent. Several minutes later, he slowly stood up, looking at me with the fearful eyes of a child.
“You know what you need to do, right?”
Souls of living beings who had died were gathered by the World Tree. Souls that had earned a lot of experience would get a part of it recycled to the world, while they kept the rest to be reincarnated. Evil souls were dropped into the Abyss. The rest of the souls would be recycled into the world, reborn as a completely new life.
And souls with especially high amounts of experience would transcend into elemental spirits, to carry life throughout the world.
The lifeforce of the recycled souls were ‘mana’. As mana filled up the whole world, it allowed the elemental spirits, who served as red blood cells to carry life to every corner of the world, and the demons, who served as white blood cells to kill evil souls, to exist.
But in Yggdrasia, the human race was consuming that mana without limits, and the corporation of Earth was stealing it away. It was what had set the world on the path to destruction.
Earth, a world that had lost its mana, was facing the inverse problem. More and more souls were being born without being culled, and on top of that, the humans were even consuming and killing Earth’s feeble elementals, the spirits the only thing barely holding apocalypse at bay, in their quest for more power.
Aiden, now aware of the truth, walked out without a word, heavy thoughts apparent on his face.
He would be following my wish, I was sure. He would leave to hunt down the magicians who were toying with souls and spirits, those who were going against the world’s order.
I could see his soul, formerly pure to the point of foolishness, slowly beginning to blacken with his newfound knowledge.
The presence of life deeper inside became much clearer to my senses, as if a blanket of fog hiding it was now gone. Maybe those three magicians had had something to do with it.
Two soldiers were standing in front of a door mid-way through the hallway. It looked like it was the command center. I felt the presence of several people inside.
The end of the hallway led to the mancollection facility. Once I smashed it, the corporation and the government’s effort to gather mana from Yggdrasia would be set back a decade.
If I wanted them to back off completely, though, I’d have to do something about this country and its government itself. I should be able to buy enough time for me to gain the power I needed to fight off the whole of Earth.
Reaffirming my resolve, I ran down the corridor.
“T-Target sighted! It’s Whitehare!”
“Fire at will! Kill her!”
The two fully-equipped soldiers in front of the door fired their assault rifles, probably magical. They covered the hallway with bullets.
I immediately transformed completely into mist to get through them with minimal damage. I reached the soldiers, instantly freezing them. My claws in human form shattered the ice statues.
The door of alloyed metal was half-frozen, submerged in air so cold diamond dust was forming. I put all my strength into an elbow smash and slammed into it, the impact heavy and echoing.
The combat power of a demon was calculated from magic power, so it changed depending on what my status was at the time. All the same, I imagined that if my status was converted to a normal living being’s, I should be able to get at least 300 Strength.
A few more strikes forced the bent door to open up for me. Inside, military operators were breathing out white air, looking half-frozen already. Looked like the cold mist I let out previously had already permeated the room.
They fired their guns. I instantly tore apart their necks with my knife, the final survivor being a commander who was trying to contact someone.
“D-damn you…” he sputtered.
I ignored him to give a demure curtsy to the large wall monitor. On-screen was a man whose face even I knew.
“Hey there, Mr. President. What’s up?”