“So, you tried to cast some morbid illusion again?” Adam asked, slapping the table. “It was an interesting one, much like your dead rabbit in front of my house, but it’s strange. You didn’t sneak attack me this time.”
Muraco stood on the counter in silence, with his tiny fists raised. A baffled expression slowly formed on his face.
“Human… What on earth are you talking about!?”
“Don’t try to deny it. This is the second time I saw some freak-ass scene before you showed up. What’s it all about? Some scare tactic?”
“I-I have no clue! It’s true I may have a few skills at my disposal, but that’s certainly not one of them!”
Adam raised his eyebrow. “A few tricks? So you can do more than jump around, kicking things?”
“Don’t worry about it, human! I am here, once again!”
“Gonna try to throw me into one of those portals in Nexus again? Sorry, but if you recall, I’ve already taken a trip into one! Not only that, but I’ve gotten out of it as well. So, that’s not gonna work!”
Adam sighed. “Although, I still don’t know how I got out of it…”
“I am curious as to what occurred that night. However, that’s not why I’m here—ahem.” Muraco cleared his throat. “Human—are those words you spoke that night accurate?”
“Huh? Which ones?” Adam asked, rubbing his head. “I had a lot going on that night, so you’ll have to jog my memory.”
“You want to go down the path that will make everyone happy… correct? And you want to at least get the world turning toward the direction where that can be a legitimate thing one can do?”
“Oh, that? Yeah, that’s what I would like to do. Figuring out how to do it is going to be the tricky part.”
“That’s correct…” Muraco nodded. “You would need a will of steel—no—a will of diamond to work toward that goal… therefore—” He pointed at Adam with his paw. “I wish to help you achieve this goal!”
“Huh? Really?” Adam was baffled. “What happened to your hatred to the Ouderkirks, and wanting to throw me away?”
“If I can manipulate you and, yes, even that Ouderkirk demon, to work alongside me, then perhaps I won’t have to dispose of you!”
“Manipulate? Dispose of?” Adam sighed. “Man, I could have sworn you called yourself a hero, but here you are, saying that kinda crap.”
“Would you not appreciate my assistance, human? Want to see just how strong I can be?”
“I mean… I’m not supposed to have a living person helping me…” Adam smirked. “Charlotte passes, cause of the dead thing, and you could pass cause of the rabbit thing.”
“I see. Well, then I guess it works—”
“How can I trust you, though? You did kidnap me after all—” Adam let out a loud sigh. “...Charlotte did that too, didn’t she?”
“I’ll fight you then! If you win, then I’ll have to listen to you, and if I win, you have to listen to me!” Muraco put his paws around his waist, standing with a smug, confident posture.
“We can’t fight in here! I’m surprised nobody has even come in after all the noise that’s been going on!”
“Oh, you can thank me for that.” Muraco pointed at himself. “That’s one of my—what do you call it? Abilities! Yeah! I can deafen creatures around me, absorbing their hearing capabilities to boost my own! On top of my already powerful ears, it’ll make sure nobody comes in either without alerting me—”
“You have multiple Abilities!?” Adam was shocked at how casually Muraco told him that fact. “What even are you!?”
“I guess you can call me a ‘Chimera’ of sorts. That’s what the Ouderkirks did to me. They tested on all kinds of animals, seeing if they could awaken Abilities within them. My appearance, as well as my multiple Abilities, are a result of those experiments. To my knowledge, I was the only creature to survive them.”
“Well, that brings up a good point, actually…” Adam started to stretch his body.
“What’s that, human?”
“You’ll be a treasure trove of information. So, yeah. Why not? Let’s fight. I’ll win, and you’ll help us figure things out.”
“Hah! You’ll be the one to help me out, human! There’s no way you can possibly compete with me—”
An apple flew at Muraco with a remarkable amount of speed. Adam had been holding it the entire time, ready to use it in this fashion. Muraco lowered his ears, shielding his head as the apple connected, bits splattering all around.
“Hey, I didn’t say we could start—”
Adam was already directly in front of Muraco, the World Mirror forming a thin, ghostly line around his body. His hand was lit up as well, ready to strike down.
“Let’s go, then.”
Muraco leaped up with his legs, evading the jab at the last second. His ears came into contact with the ceiling, and with enough force, Muraco pushed his body back downward, attempting to stomp on Adam.
Adam flipped his body off to the side; his ghostly aura making his movement difficult for the rabbit to track, as Muraco assumed that he aimed well enough for a hit.
“He’s moving differently this time. The aura’s not unleashing like crazy... He has it under control, surrounding his body just enough as to where it gives him a good enough boost.”
As Adam landed, he flicked an object out of his hand, heading to Muraco at much swifter speed than the apple. Using his ears, Muraco blocked it once again, although this time, he felt a slight sting.
“He picked up a piece of the broken glass from the dishes!?”
Adam dashed at Muraco with the same attack as before, his hand fueled with the World Mirror’s energy.
“You’re really easy to read, you know that?” Muraco bent his knees, ducking from the second jab Adam attempted. He raised his ears and propelled Adam away from him, pushing him toward the door to the lobby.
Adam’s feet slid across the floor, as he attempted to stop himself from ending up where there would potentially be people. Although, something caught his attention away from that fear.
It was as if he was building up energy from sliding backward. He could feel the World Mirror focusing a lot of power into his lower body, even though he wasn’t trying that hard to come to a stop.
Typically, he considered this amount of energy buildup to be powerful enough to blow his legs clean off his body. But the World Mirror was operating differently this time.
It flung Adam back at Muraco, which ridiculous speeds. At that moment, the thought entered his mind, which he would only be able to process to the fullest later.
It was as if the World Mirror was reflecting himself back toward Muraco.
Before his collision with the rabbit, which would have most certainly blown a hole right through the hotel, Adam had stopped. It took him a second to realize what had halted his movement.
Glowing blue cloth had emerged from Muraco’s scarf, creating several ribbons that had grabbed hold of Adam’s body.
“I can expand and reshape my scarf, even using phantons to strengthen it. Good thing I stopped you, we don’t want to destroy this place.”
“So you can steal someone’s hearing, and do that thing with your scarf.” Adam attempted to struggle his way out of Muraco’s grasp. “Please tell me that’s it?”
“I call them ‘Sound Thief’ and ‘Scarf Manipulation.’ And don’t forget ‘Bunny Hop,’ which is basically me using my rabbit skills! And no, that’s not all.”
“You freaking bunny…! All right! I’m gonna finish this before you can use anything el—” Adam screamed as Muraco tightened his hold on Adam, moving a ribbon around his neck.
“I have you right where I want you! I’ll just squeeze you until you pass out! Then I will be the victor!”
“Dammit! Guess I can’t hold back now—”
The ribbons holding Adam had been slashed apart, causing him to fall on the ground. Muraco was astonished, knowing instantly that Adam was not the cause. His guard was raised, attempting to find the source.
Glancing to the right, he saw Charlotte. Her back was turned, wielding her typical blue long sword. However, she retained her black-haired form.
“The demon! It was you! How dare you interrupt our fight!” Muraco leaped at Charlotte without hesitation. As he went for a kick, Charlotte spun around and blocked it with her blade, knocking Muraco back toward his previous position.
“I could sense the fight easily, so of course I came back.” Charlotte held out her empty hand, forming a second sword. Adam watched her in silence.
“She can form objects in that state? Is this due to that energy that came out of me?”
“Demon!” Muraco pointed at Charlotte. “You were not here, so let me tell you about the deal the human and I came to! We’re to fight, and whoever is the victor will give the other orders!”
Charlotte looked over at Adam. “Did you really come to such a stupid deal? Why the hell would you even consider fighting in here to be a good idea? And even then, what are these orders he’s talking about?”
Adam shrugged. “Listen, I haven’t slept well this week, so forgive me on the ‘fighting indoors when there are probably people around’ thing. He’s willing to help us out, and I figured he’d be a good source of information. The whole ‘who takes orders from who’ thing is his idea. I wanted to beat him so I wouldn’t have to listen to—”
“I recall you talking all about this rabbit, and how it kidnapped you that night. You really want to work with someone like—”
“Charlotte.” Adam stared at her with a blank expression. “Do… Do you think you are in a position to say anything like that?”
Charlotte lowered her weapons in shame. In her head, she tried so desperately to construct a counter-argument—but failed miserably.
“All right. That’s fair.”
“Human…” Muraco stepped forward. “How can you talk to someone as vile as this demon so casually?”
“Vile!?” Adam put no effort into hiding his anger. “Just like I told you during our last encounter, I know Charlotte, and she’s not vile in any fashion. Just because her family is the cause of your suffering, doesn’t mean she’s to blame!”
“Muraco, is it?” Charlotte squatted down in front of Muraco, who put his arms up in defense.
“Get away from me, d-demon!” Muraco’s voice shook. It was evident to Adam and Charlotte that he was afraid.
“I would apologize for what my family has done to you, but I’m not sure if I’m in a position to do so. I’ve… lost the majority of my memories, so I’m not sure if I had any role in your suffering. However, what I can say is…” Charlotte took a deep breath. “I’ve had some memories return to me, and… they’re not pleasant ones.”
“What were these memories?” Muraco asked her.
“I… I can’t get into details, but—”
“Can’t get into details!? I’ll have you know that the experiments I was a part of absolutely ruined me! The amount of agony and suffering and-and… I can’t go a day without feeling the pain, inside and out! ‘Unpleasant’? Yeah, I’m sure daddy not buying you that horse sure was—”
“They used me!” Charlotte shouted right at the rabbit, causing him to trip and fall. “From what I can remember… I wasn’t at the level they wanted me to be when it came to combat. Therefore, what else can I do? There were plenty of options, but when it came down to it, my blood was just too precious to let it go to waste…”
Adam’s eyes widened. He had a feeling where Charlotte was taking this conversation. From the bottom of his heart, he begged for it not to be true.
“...There were… many different men… Ones they deemed to be fit enough to keep the power of the Ouderkirk blood flowing strong. Of course, I didn’t know any of them. Of course… I didn’t have a say in the matter… It… absolutely ruined me, as well.”
“D-de…” Muraco could not only speak but could not muster up the energy or the will to call Charlotte a demon, as he had been.
The two felt a gust of the wind begin to pick up inside the cafeteria. They looked to see it emerging from Adam. He was staring at the floor, not moving a muscle. There was no glow from the World Mirror, simply tremendous pressure, causing cracks to form on each side of the door frame behind him.
Charlotte stood up, slowly approaching him. “I knew you would be upset if I told you… I wanted to, but I just—”
“There’s no way I’m upset at you. Not at all.” Adam said in a shaky voice. “I do have one question though—” Adam’s eyes met Charlotte’s. They as well lacked the glow of the World Mirror; it was merely his angry gray eyes that were presented.
“If these people aren’t alive anyone, then who am I supposed to beat to death?”
Charlotte continued to approach Adam, forming a half-smile.
She embraced Adam, going against the gale that he was creating.
“You’ve already done so much for me. Please don’t add a revenge quest to the mix. I’m okay… no—I’m going to be okay. Cause I have you by my side. No—I have everyone else as well. Even—” Charlotte turned toward Muraco. “You, if you want to join us.”
Adam’s power faded while Muraco approached the two.
“So, they were even cruel to their own family. I see…” Muraco sighed, holding back how upset he was at the fact that somebody else suffered from the same source. “I… sincerely apologize. I was… scared, once I sensed you existed.”
Charlotte let go of Adam and sat down on the floor next to Muraco. “I can understand you being afraid. If you would like, I would like to help you deal with it.”
“I-I mean… Only if I can help you… deal with your stuff, too…” Muraco said bashfully.
Charlotte smiled gently, nodding her head. “Yes, you absolutely can.”
Adam walked over to the two. “I want to help both of you… If that’s okay?”
“You already are, Adam.” Charlotte looked up and grinned at the boy.
“Human—I mean—Adam, apparently. We’ll save our battle for another time. For now, I will cooperate with whatever you plan on doing. A-Although… one day, I will take over!”
“Sure, sure. Sounds good. I think I actually know what we should do first—” Adam pointed at the door, embarrassed at what he had done.
“Get the hell out of—”
An elderly couple had entered the doors of the hotel, walking through the lobby toward the front desk. The cafeteria was clearly visible off to their left.
“Crap!” Muraco shouted panicking. “I stole the hearing of the person working at the desk. They’re in a position as to where they can hardly see what’s going on in here—” He pointed at a large plant placed in a pot on the side of the desk. “—that right there blocks their vision. So all good, right? No, now these two could see us!”
“Then let’s go.” Charlotte grabbed Adam’s hand, pulling him down toward her. She wrapped her other arm around Muraco, phasing the three of them through the floor, out of sight.