Lino’s eyebrows twitched as he stared at the newcomer in his room who was sitting next to his bed, with one leg heaved over the other, calmly sipping a cup of tea with a faint smile on his handsome face. Perhaps the most irritating part of it all for Lino was the fact that the man before him was truly handsome; though a bit pale in skin tone, it hardly affected the fact that he could walk into a room full of noble ladies and have them all swoon over him.
Lino had no clue as to how the Skydevil managed to enter this room as he was fairly certain the entire compound was blocked by numerous fortifications. Yet, there he was, casually drinking tea like it’s his own home. He’s been doing so for nearly ten minutes without uttering a word.
“... how’s tea?” Lino asked, tired of the silence.
“Hmm, quite good,” the Devil replied, taking in a deep breath of rather intoxicating fragrance. “It’s my own mix, actually. Six flowers of [Ice-blazing Lotus], a root of [Heavenly Jasmine], and a few other secret ingredients. I’ll tell you the rest if you tell me you love me.”
“Suck my dick.”
“Eh, it can be---”
“What are you here for?” Lino realized that the Devil was a bit of an oddball so he decided to cut the long story short immediately.
“Tsk, no fun.” Linger clicked his tongue sweetly before putting down the cup of tea and facing Lino. “Your progress is much slower than we anticipated.” FUCK YOUR-- Lino shook for a moment and took in a deep breath. “Don’t get me wrong,” as though realizing Lino’s state of mind, Linger quickly added. “It’s unprecedented. But, it’s still too slow to keep up with our plans. Initial idea was for you to take a beating over in the Umbra Kingdom as to mask your Qi, but then take the stage here as a star and grab us by our balls and squeeze us dry. From the looks of it, we’d be lucky if you could survive.”
“Eh, sorry. I really do apologize.” Lino said. “Now if you would kindly fuck off back to your mother’s womb so I don’t have to look at you anymore.”
“Hehe, that’s not how Devils are born, though,” Linger merely laughed. “Though female Devils do have wombs, babies come out of there only when they’re impregnated by humans.”
“It happens more often than you’d think.”
“I’m honestly just... just not interested in sex stories between humans and devils. Rather, I’m more interested in the shape of Dragon’s shit.”
“Please... just... please... tell me why you’re here.” Lino was on the verge of tears; he finally understood how Eggor feels whenever he talks with him. Poor old bastard... I should cut him some slack once he comes back...
“To be honest, you shouldn’t be biding by our expectations, as it should be other way around,” Linger said, his tone suddenly turning serious. “You can hardly be expected to understand the world’s situation at large and what you actually mean to the conflict.”
“What do I mean to it?” Lino asked.
“Nothing.” Linger said, suddenly smiling faintly.
“Ha ha, did I hurt your fragile little ego? Eh, that’s the way you’re supposed to be. I’m sorry to demolish your imagination, but a single man cannot change the course of the world... even if they’re an Empyrean. Do you think no one else before you flew higher than the rest of us?” Linger’s lips curled up in a wider smile. “War of Writs had been ongoing since early days of Skyhaven Dynasty, Lyonel. In that Era alone, two figures who nearly changed the course of the history were born.”
“... was Q’vil one of them?” Lino asked, somewhat expectant.
“Q’vil?” Linger looked at him strangely for a moment before shaking his head. “He was the last Empyrean of the Era. Even if talented, he simply didn’t have time to grow. To be honest, there’s a Devil within thousand miles of you that could have crippled Q’vil with a single hand.” Lino’s heart shook for a moment but he decided to simply listen. “We’re already aware of our little miss throwing some bombs at you,” he continued. “Which is why I was dispatched here. Nobody’s expecting you to change the world,” Linger said. “Because you can’t. Even if nobody tried to kill you, even if you were given every resource in the world freely, you would still need a few million years just to become as strong as some of my Ancestors. Not my Origin Father, just a few of my Ancestors.”
“...” Lino remained silent yet again; he truly did imagine for a moment being the chosen one, the person who would change the course of the world with his own two hands.
“If I’m to be even more brutal,” Linger continued. “We don’t even need you, but the Writ itself. You could have been anyone else and it would have been all the same to us. Why am I telling you this? So you don’t get dumb ideas and rush like an idiot into the fray like you did this time. We need you alive, not strong.”
“...” Lino’s eyes flashed in understanding for a moment as he looked into Linger’s eyes. “So, at the end of the day, I’m really just a puppet?”
“Is it humiliating?” Linger asked, smiling faintly.
“Not really,” Lino shook his head. “It would be if I cared what any one of you cocksuckers thought.”
“Oh?” Linger arched his brow as he looked at Lino curiously.
“Heh, why do you think I’m cultivating for? To fight Gaia? To help you lot? Of course not,” Lino shook his head. “To be honest, I’d be the happiest person in the world if you all fuckers just dropped dead this very instant. What do wars of idiots who have nothing better to do than measure their dicks have with me? All I ever wanted was to live a simple life...” Lino sighed faintly as he got up from the bed and walked over toward the window, opening it slowly. “Yet, with two years that I’d gotten this shitter inside of me, I’d experienced sorts of pain and understood sorts of things I couldn’t even imagine before.”
Lino looked outside the window toward the lofty, blue sky marred with petty, silver clouds. It looked like it was about to rain any moment now. He was truly free at heart. He wasn’t putting up any sort of a front; he really didn’t care about the ‘grand mission’ that some old fart imposed upon him.
“But... I’m sure that if I keep growing and survive till the point I’m strong enough,” he turned around and looked Linger into the latter’s clear eyes. “I’d have no choice but do your bidding. It’s not humiliating... but it is frustrating...” Lino smiled bitterly. “Isn’t it? Even as a cultivator, you are rarely in charge of your own fate. Look at you. Are you resigned to sitting there, bickering with a kid you could kill with your fart and are most-likely told to listen without complaint? Though you are a sissy, I doubt you’re that much of a pushover.”
“...” Linger said nothing but merely smiled oddly.
“And I very much doubt your entire race is resigned to sacrificing their brothers and sister to be a grindstone for some random kid they couldn’t give two shits about,” Lino continued calmly. “Big picture? Grand ambition? Heh, ask a mother next door who lost her son what sort of a shit that is and you’ll get the truth behind it all. Do you believe your Origin Father is truly doing this to simply battle Gaia out of goodness of his heart? Surely not.”
“... be careful, kiddo.” Linger’s smile grew slightly fiercer. “A lot of things can be forgiven, but you’re close to crossing the line.”
“...” Lino turned toward him yet again and smiled faintly. “There it is. The truth behind it all, no?” he chuckled weakly. “I’ve no imposing and lofty ambition.” he tucked his hands neatly into his pockets as he stared at the sky which began spitting out rain slowly. “To me, Gaia is better than all you lot. While you bicker and fight, causing millions upon millions to die, she forged the world as it is and granted us all a breath of life. Perhaps she’d done horrible things to you lot, but what’s that got to do with the rest of us? To us, she’s been a proper mother all the while.”
“Mother, eh?” Linger chuckled as he also got up and walked over next to Lino, looking at the rain. “Surely you don’t think you’re the first Empyrean to think so, no? After all, you seem quite witty. Yet... without a single exception since the dawn of time... every Empyrean chose to defy her. You don’t know her yet, Lyonel. If she’s a mother, she’s the sort that changes an innocent kid into a genocidal maniac. You don’t have to take my words to mean anything...but, trust me when I say this, sooner or later, you’ll be the same. Just as all your brothers and sisters before you, you’ll turn toward the sky and scream. You’ll curse her till you’re out of breath. Indeed,” he slanted his head sideways and looked at Lino’s clear face. “We are no saints. Devils have done things that can hardly be called humane, as have humans. One way or another, we’re all sinners. Yet... all the same... we’re all more fit to be called Saints than her. Every single one of us.”
“It’s fine to be witty,” Linger continued as he turned around and began walking away. “And to have your own outlook on things. But, if ten thousand out of ten thousand agreed on something, can you truly claim to be wittier than them? With all my heart... I truly hope that you remain steadfast in your belief till your grave. That would mean she never scarred you too. Farewell Lyonel. We’ll meet again.”
Lino was left alone in the room as he stared at the fading shadow of the Devil. Though he didn’t truly believe Gaia was a saint, he after all didn’t really hear or see any of the supposed evil things she committed, yet Umbra Kingdom alone was enough evidence to condemn the entire Devil Race.
“Is he right?” Lino asked nobody.
“...” yet, Writ didn’t reply. It only meant a few things; either he was so bored out of his mind he couldn’t be bothered, or that the truth is something Lino wasn’t emotionally or mentally equipped to handle. He took a deep breath and turned his gaze toward the sky yet again; the rain was pouring ceaselessly right now, battering against the soil. Only time will tell, eh?