- “And who are you two?”
- There was something about the air that made Mary’s throat feel coarse and dry. If it wasn’t for the heavy incense the Lilim in front of her was smoking, it was the powerful aura she seemed to just radiate off of her slim form which made her legs tremble under the weight of the obvious power difference the two had. Her piercing gaze, two violet slit eyes which she swore burned straight through her and looked into her soul, seemed to be entirely focused onto her and not the 6ft tiger who leaned onto her shoulder in pain. The twin armour clad guards which stood completely paralleled from each other in front of them didn’t have any indication of eyes under their helmets, but Mary could feel their gaze on her meek form. Every moment she tried to speak only made her gulp in fear. The sheer majesty and power in which the Mamono Mary had only until now seen in the history books was something to behold—and it seemed to grip her heart and hold her in its arms that scared Mary to the bone.
- The ‘watcher’, as Shiroe called it, seemed to be studying her. Even as she asked a question—one in need of answer—she seemed to have taken the time of waiting to instead read the teenager who trembled before her. Mary tried to look away, to avoid the gaze of the high level Succubus, but she seemed to be almost forced to look into her eyes. Her skin was fare but pale, and her face had no indication of blemishes or wrinkles. Judging by how beautiful she looked, she prided her looks and boasted them by showing them off to her subjects. Even as her long silver hair draped over part of her face it was devoid of knots or curls. Mary couldn’t help but watch as she was being scanned by her; she even felt when her eyes looked her up and down like a hot light. She then looked back into Mary’s blue eyes, and looked away towards Shiroe.
- “You both must not be familiar with where you stand, for you’re supposed to bow.” Mary’s heart was seized by some invisible force. “That makes you two intruders.” Her voice was so calm and beautiful, yet her tone shot blades and daggers.
- The two guards seemed to shift, and Mary heard the grip on their polearms tighten. But they didn’t need to attack, for the Lilim’s commanding tone made both Mary and Shiroe fall to one knee in compliance. Even as Mary hung her head low, sweat dripping down her forehead, she swore she heard the sound of the Watcher’s lips curling into a smile
- There was a sound of smoke being puffed, and she spoke once more. “You can get up.”
- Mary and Shiroe obliged. But, by the look of Mary’s tall Jinko friend, not willingly. It was as if they were being pulled by strings every time the Lilim spoke and Shiroe was trying to resist. She looked at the Watcher in defiance, and the Lilim met her piercing gaze with her own.
- “Now,” the Lilim almost seemed to spit out everything she said as if she hated speaking to them. “What do you two want?”
- Mary tried to speak, but her voice caught in her throat once more. Shiroe took the initiative. “My friend here wants you to remove something. Do your job.”
- The sound of metal and chainmail being tightened around the polearms broke the silence, but the Lilim held up a hand to calm her guards down.
- “I take it you’re not from here.” She seemed to say with masked anger. “Or you would know to respect those above yo-“
- “I don’t care.” Shiroe on the other hand, didn’t mask her hatred. “I may not be from here, but I’ve dealt with your kind before.”
- “’My kind’?” The Lilim repeated. “I’m offended. To think that you come into my place of residence and insult me: You have a lot of bravery.” She puffed out some more smoke. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you used to be a knight.”
- Shiroe eyes narrowed, which got a snort from the Lilim.
- “I thought as much. You’re all the same: arrogant, idiotic, and disrespectful.” Her gaze moved towards Mary, who flinched. “And I take it you forced—I’m sorry, ‘accidentally’—gave your armour to an unsuspecting child. And she wants it off.”
- There was nothing but silence. A growing silence that made any sort of sound amplified. The mystical wind which seemed to blow through this plane of existence, the calm ruffling of the long white drapes, the blow of smoke from the Lilim’s mouth every time she inhaled more of her incense cigarette—they were all almost deafening. Even the sound of Mary shuffling in her place, the glare of the Lilim’s purple eyes on her almost sounded like hammering on the cold marble floor. Mary finally broke the gaze when she looked away, and the pain she felt trying to muster up enough willpower and resistance to look away felt as if she was being branded. She winced even as she looked down at the foggy floor, but even though their gaze never met, she could still feel her eyes on her.
- “P-Please…” Her voice sounded more like a meek cry of a mouse than her usual cheery voice. “Please just take it off.”
- There was a clatter, and Mary flinched in response to the sound. She knew what it was. She recognized the sound of heels hitting the marble stone floor; she recognized the sound of the Lilim’s long black dress dragging across the smooth surface. Fear prevented her to look up, but she could hear her draw closer—she could feel her draw closer. Step after step it grew louder and louder, and step after step Mary’s heart pumped in an irregular fashion. She was afraid; scared of the powerful being that was approaching her. She was even tempted to run away, to just say never mind and brush the whole debacle under the rug. But some unforeseen force seemed to be keeping her in place. Her legs seemed to be locked in place, almost as they were being held by something; or someone. Her tail which usually limply hung behind her or swished left and right when she was happy wrapped around her right leg in fear. She didn’t even realize she was trembling in fear until the sound stopped--until she stopped.
- A gentle hand brushed her face, and she froze like a deer in a headlight. It embraced her cheek, its warm touch filling Mary with an almost calmness. But even though it felt warm, it also felt rough. It was as if a million needles were brushing her cheek, and she almost lurched away in pain. They say that the touch of a being with a lot of Demonic Energy felt rough and painful, and Mary was getting firsthand knowledge on it. But even though it held her face with no force at all, Mary swore she was being forced not to move. She didn’t want to look up, but the only thing she could look at was the long slim form which stood before her in a lace black dress. One leg seemed to be exposed, showing off her perfectly toned thighs and calves. The cold white fog seemed to almost make it appear as if her legs disappeared, given by how pale they were. The black dress seemed to hug her form to show off her perfect figure, with large cut-outs that showed off her waist on each side from the bottom of her ribcage and a little past her waist. Large white wings sat on her back below her waist, draped over her hips almost like an apron. She was the mere definition of perfection, and Mary was awed.
- But the major distraction that was her perfect figure made her not realize that the hand that cuffed her cheek now cuffed her chin and her gaze soon began to go upwards as her head was forced to look up. Her eyes passed her flat stomach and passed the large bust the Lilim had which seemed to strain against the black lace before they were staring right at the demon herself. Mary’s breath caught in her throat, and she felt her face begin to flush. She was so close, and she smelt of the incense she had been smoking. It was so intoxicating that she began to feel lightheaded. There was a noticeable size different considering Mary went only up to her chin, but they hypnotic gaze of the Lilim made Mary not even realize.
- “You are so cute and defenceless, yet you hold so much bravery within.” Her voice sounded motherly now, as if she was going to force Mary to be breastfed by her. “Yet, you are a pacifist. And you fear the demon that lingers in the armour. So it isn’t that you want to part with it out of refusal of the burden in which you carry, but out of fear.”
- Shiroe seemed to watch the scene unfold, but by the look she gave Mary she seemed surprised by the revelation the Lilim had given. Yes, Mary was a pacifist. She didn’t like fighting, and instead tried to avoid it. But that seemed to be a beacon for others to bully her; for she was prime bullying material that even Cyclops’ were baffled by how they only went after her and not them. But just because Mary was a pacifist, that she was against violence, didn’t mean that she wasn’t in any form brave. Although she was meek and as a child was afraid of her own shadow, Mary would do anything to protect those she cared about. It was how she and Felicia met when they were in kindergarten, and it was her bravery that made them the friends they were today.
- But what the Lilim said was true. Of all the information she had received from Shiroe, and of the visual a physical proof of her story she was being presented to at this exact moment, Mary was afraid. She was afraid of the role she would have to play. To kill other Mamono-- even when Shiroe told her time and again that they were no longer Mamono but actual Monsters--scared her. That she would have to fight those who were much stronger than her, which isn’t much of a feat since she herself wasn’t that string, frightened her. But the demon, the monster that sat dormant within the ring that was on her delicate finger and within her herself, the creature that took no pity and only satisfaction off of Mary’s growing fear of it, mortified her. Even now, just thinking of the demon that waited for her to close her eyes shook her to the very marrow of her bones. The Lilim noticed this, and frowned.
- “You really are afraid of it?” There was sincerity in her voice. Was it genuine, or was it out of pity Mary questioned, but she nodded in response. “Then I must tell you the truth: I cannot remove it.”
- “…What?” Mary looked at her in anguish. Even as the Lilim turned around and began her walk back to her couch, the baffling un-believability of the statement she gave her made Mary’s mind halt.
- “Why?” Shiroe took a step forward, as if to pursue the Lilim, but the guards were quick to act. The one on the left, nearest to her, pointed its polearm directly at her face, while the other moved to defend the Lilim. Not even their stances told what their genders were, but their readiness was enough to tell that they were devoted to the Lilim. Shiroe took a step back and they seemed to calm down, but they never took their eyes (?) off of her. “What do you mean you can’t?”
- The Lilim sat back on her couch with a sigh. She leaned backwards, resting her arms against the back while allowing her head to look up at the void that was the ceiling. She crossed her legs out of decently.
- “What I mean is I can’t.” She explained. “Your friend has a high level of a magic item that I do not have the power not the authority to remove. Such a power can only be removed by the higher ups, and there’s only one type of armour that holds such a power that only the authority of the Chief God or the Demon Lord can remove.”
- “The Crimson Knight: Fortis.”
- There was something familiar with the word, and Mary knew it. It was in the old language: the language of the gods and the old Mamono. Now it was known as Latin. It was a word, but not a name, for the brave and courageous. But Mary was neither of those. She was a coward, she was meek, and above all she wasn’t what this armour, what that gatekeeper, thought she was.
- “Why…?” The fog cleared away from Mary when she fell to her knees. She ignored the pain she felt when her knees hit the marble floor, or the coolness the floor seemed to feel. “Why me?” There was a growl that made her shiver, but it wasn’t from the metallic lion that haunted her.
- “Can’t you see that she’s suffering!?” Shiroe growled, taking another step. The guards were quick to move, but the Lilim held her hand up to calm them down.
- “You’re one to talk. Wasn’t it you who forced it onto her?” She looked at the Jinko at the bottom of her eyes and smirked, and Shiroe clenched her paws.
- “It picked her.”
- “’It picked her’ she says.” The Lilim scoffed. “You could’ve taken it off at any point in time, even when she was asleep. But you resorted to watching her. You wanted to see if she was worthy to the Gatekeeper and to bear the title of the Crimson Knight.”
- Shiroe gritted her teeth. “I was in the hospital-”
- “I watch over this district!” The Lilim boomed, no longer looking up at the ceiling, no longer resting her head on the back of her couch, but instead looking directly at Shiroe. “Although your wounds were grave and although they were magic, in one night they were healed because you still had the holy armour. You inflicted those wounds to yourself. You’ve lied to this girl.”
- Shiroe was speechless. It wasn’t as if the Lilim’s loud voice scared her, but it was the fact that she was right. Even as Mary slowly turned her head towards the Jinko, tears welling in her eyes, Shiroe looked away as if to avoid eye contact. She was caught with her tail in between her legs, her paws in the cookie jar, and there was nothing she could do but confirm her crimes.
- “I…” But although she wanted to admit her crimes, she didn’t know what to say. Her voice caught in her throat caused her to close her mouth and say nothing. Even as Mary whelped, as her tears fell to the marble floor, she only stood in silence. “Mary-“
- “Why!?” Mary cried. She turned to look at Shiroe, whose chiselled expression was beginning to crumble, and sniffled. “Why did you lie to me!?”
- “I…” It was the only thing Shiroe could say. Mary waited for her to continue, to explain herself, but nothing more came out of Shiroe’s mouth. It was the Lilim who broke the silence between the two.
- “I’ll return you back to your home, if you’d like?” Mary looked towards the Lilim, who gave her a compassionate look. She rubbed her eyes, clearing them of tears, and nodded sheepishly.
- The Lilim snapped her fingers, and a blaze of purple fire erupted next to the two. The pillar of flame began to expand and lengthen, widening into the size of a door. The center began to fade until it was nothing but a border of purple flame, and an image was formed. It was Mary’s room, judging by the angle from her room door. Sunlight began to shine through her window, bathing her bed in its warm light. The faint sound of Mary’s alarm going off made her ear flap. It was early morning, and she was going to be late for school. Through sniffled and coughs, she got to her feet, clutching her arms. The feeling of the cold metal band around her finger reminded her of her sealed fate, and even as her left arm erupted with goosebumps she shivered in fear. Shiroe stuck her paw towards her, as if to stop her to say something before she went back, but once again her voice caught in her throat, and instead watcher her depart. The fiery portal soon began to shrink and de-lengthen, and it wasn’t long before the fire was snuffed out.
- Mary was gone.
Knights of the Demon Chapter 5: Truth
GWS Sep 1st, 2015 500 Never
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