85. The Demon
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“Well, that happened,” Gray commented with a small grin.

 

Rakna huffed and glanced at him. “Were those two important figures? I can’t imagine you listening to their request otherwise.”

 

The clown shrugged. “You can see it that way. Those two are somewhat powerful, politically that is. In terms of power, let’s say that any Host from above the 500th or 600th could take them. To be fair, the Basilica of Eternal Night is disgustingly influential as well. They have many assets. Sorry, kid, I couldn’t really refuse them to see you since it concerned their arch-nemesis.”

 

“I see.”

 

“But, of course, I will never go back on my word. Throne of Glory will always be on your side. If these two had been hostile to you, I would have taken care of it, war be damned,” Gray declared with a crimson grin. Rakna could actually smell the sincerity coming from him.

 

“Thanks. I’ll be taking a nap now if you don’t mind,” Rakna said as he lied down on the sofa.

 

“Sure, but before I go, take this,” the clown brought out a small box from his storage and tossed it to Rakna who caught it midair without bothering to sit up. “It’s a gift from Vegas. It’s the tonic he used on you this morning. Each dose lasts around five hours and if you don’t want to worsen your condition, don’t take two at once.”

 

“Noted.”

 

Gray nodded and left him alone on the private floor. Rakna closed his eyes with a sigh afterward and spoke to Pronos who seemed a bit lost about what he should do now.

 

“If you don’t want to stay, you can do whatever you want, little guy. I’m sure pets can also do their own ‘adventures’, right?” He asked out loud to which Alexa promptly reacted.

 

[Affirmative. To be exact, B-rank and higher pets are allowed to use nearly every privilege that Hosts possess. The Pavilion’s services and the System’s Quests are two of them.]

 

“Hm, I have a question. Are my Quests shared with Pronos?”

 

[Yes.]

 

“What about the rewards?”

 

[They are duplicated. But that only applies to attribute and skill points. For instance, when you completed the Hidden Quest earlier today, Pronos was granted ten free points and one skill point alongside you.]

 

Pronos nodded at that as if to confirm her claims.

 

“I see. Then be on your way, little guy. You’re free to go wherever you want. It’s going to get boring around me for the next week anyway. Use the free time to get stronger on your own.”

 

The little snake seemed to hesitate for a moment but he ultimately agreed with a hiss and started slithering toward the stairs.

 

“Be careful,” Rakna added right before his reptile friend left for good.

 

Once that was over, he let out a small sigh and willfully shut down his mind. Albeit unfeasible for normal humans, this was something that his mental conditioning and nano-machines allowed him to do as easily as breathing.

 

* * *

 

Once again, he had a dream. However, this one turned out to be one of the rare ones that didn’t turn into a nightmare in the end.

 

He found himself looking at a certain scene from his past.

 

He stood at the entrance of a house with a hollow gaze; devoid of life. A dreadful contrast to even his present self. The door was wide open in front of him but he didn’t dare to enter.

 

On the other hand, another person did. A tall old man with defined muscles beyond the classical physiology that the elderly should have. He had a black coat draped over his shoulders and a cigar in his mouth, releasing a blue smoke.

 

His hair was completely gray along with his trimmed beard. But what stood out the most was his silver eyes repressing a sort of slumbering madness. It appeared as if a turmoil of emotions were concealed behind them but that didn’t make them any less sharp.

 

At the moment, he was wearing black gloves covered in blood and a sheathed katana in his right hand. Karma was the name of that weapon.

 

“Get in, kid. Are you planning to stay there all day?” The old man said as he took off his coat and hanged it on the wall. Without showing any sort of feedback, Rakna proceeded to step inside and close the door behind him.

 

“Take a shower and meet me in the backyard,” the man said and pointed at the door at the end of the corridor. “The bathroom’s over there. Get rid of that blood on you. There should be a few clothes that fit you in the closet inside.”

 

Rakna didn’t even blink as he looked at himself and the dried blood on his tattered clothes. He walked past the old man without saying anything and disappeared inside the bathroom. He came out a few minutes later wearing a simple shirt and jeans.

 

He did what he had been told to and walked to the backside of the house where he spotted an open window door that led to a small terrace. He walked through it and found the old man sitting on a bamboo chair while smoking his cigar.

 

“Sit,” he said and Rakna complied. “What’s your name, kid?”

 

“…Rakna Xiorra.”

 

“Cool name,” the man nodded. “I’m Arimane Blade. Some call me the Demon,” he said with a cackle before looking at the young man in the eyes. “So? What do you choose?”

 

“…sorry?”

 

“Do you want to die? Or not?”

 

Rakna’s inexpressive face changed for the first time when he heard that.

 

Arimane huffed a cloud of smoke before continuing. “Answer me, kid. Which one do you prefer? If you want, I can do it for you right now,” he said while pointing at Karma next to him. “As things stand, you’re a worthless empty shell; some people would prefer death over the state you’re in.”

 

“Why… did you save me if you’re going to say that?”

 

“I didn’t save you, kid. That would have been true only if I had spared you from that fate in the first place. I’m not a charity and if you want to kick the bucket, it’s not my problem. All I did was eliminate my targets and you happened to be there.”

 

Rakna clenched his fists. “Do you… know what that group was looking for?”

 

“Hm,” Arimane puffed a cloud of smoke. “Flood; a terrorist group that has connections with several arms dealers. Lately, they have been set on acquiring an outdated nuke for their agenda and I got wind that they were getting a bit too close to their goal. There was a rumor about a certain couple of dealers affiliated with them living here; supposedly capable of providing what they wanted. Long story short, I came to this country to deal with them.”

 

“Seriously, Aurora should be taking care of this stuff,” he grumbled. “The fuck is Jin doing; making me do all this shit… I’m retired for god’s sake.”

 

Rakna gritted his teeth and opened his mouth, “There are more?”

 

“Hm? What are you talking about?”

 

“Flood; there’s more of those guys?”

 

“Yeah, all over the world. Why?”

 

“I’ll live.”

 

Arimane raised an eyebrow. “For?”

 

“For the sake of killing them,” he replied with a dementedly empty expression. “I’ll kill them all until there’s none left.”

 

“That’s not what I would call living, kid.”

 

“Then I’ll die doing it if it is what it takes. I’ll kill all of them. They killed my parents for their weapons; I’ll do the same to them.”

 

Arimane paused. “Those rumored arm dealers…. They were your parents? I guess that means they had a fall out. Most likely out of greed. So, what, you want revenge or something?”

 

“Never. May they rot in Hell, for all I care. All I want is to annihilate everything that had ever had anything to do with them. Every weapon sold by them and the ones who used them, I’ll destroy and kill them,” he stated with a hollow stare and a maniacal smile.

 

Arimane squinted his eyes. ‘Kid’s broken,’ he thought and extinguished his cigar. “But…” He uttered and stood up. “That obsession of yours might have some potential. You want to kill, you say?” He snorted and abruptly threw a kick at Rakna who promptly flew off and crashed on the grass of the backyard.

 

“Then, stand up!” He shouted and cracked his knuckles as he stepped down the terrace.

 

Rakna shook his head and his expression returned to an irrationally blank state. He slowly stood up with his right arm completely broken and bending unnaturally.

 

“All right, kid. I’ll shape you up to be an even better killer than I am,” the old man declared and loomed over him with a pair of silver eyes forged in war and death. “I hope you’re ready for it.”

 

* * *

 

Rakna’s eyes snapped open and reflexively sat up when the last thing he saw in his dream was the old man throw an unavoidable punch at him. He groaned at the pain afflicting his muscles and covered his face.

 

“I remember that day… He knocked me out for two days. When I woke up, we were already in another country and I had nano-machines in my body,” he recounted as the memories resurfaced. “Why am I having that dream now?”

 

He shook those thoughts away and pulled out the tonic box Gray had given him. He opened it and found exactly fifteen small vials inside of it along with a high-tech syringe along with a small manual on how to use it.

 

It was one of those that needed to be loaded with ‘ammo’ to be used. The most popular variant of it was called the syringe revolver. The one in front of Rakna was cylindrical in shape and had a small button at the end of it to inject the content.

 

Rakna grabbed one vial with quivering hands and opened a small compartment of the syringe where he slid the tonic. He closed it back and pierced his neck with it. The tonic was instantly injected into his bloodstream to the point where his veins were seen bulging for a few seconds.

 

When the drug kicked in and he was able to move freely again, he took a look at the time to see that he had slept for two hours and a half.

 

“Not as much as I expected but it’ll do. I have no missed calls or messages too so I suppose those three aren’t done yet,” he muttered and lifted himself out of the sofa with a grunt. He stretched and popped his joints while thinking about what he should do.

 

“Let’s see… let’s go back to the Quest Board for now. I might find something to do even like this. I can also take the occasion to develop my soul power a bit better,” he concluded and made his way to the commune section of the Pavilion.

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