“Pray tell, maid,” My right hand squeezed her neck while slowly crushing her knife-holding wrist with my left, “Why did you try to stab me just now?” Using my weight against her, I pushed her against the bed forcefully, “I’ll have you know I’m not merciful.”
She glared at me and slackened her jaw. I could’ve sworn she unhinged several bones and muscles in her mouth; I got a clear view of the innards of her throat and noticed white mist forming before it shot out of her mouth and hit my chest like a rock.
“Egh!” I flinched as the ball of mist bounced off me.
For a moment, it floated in the air like an abandoned puppy before violently possessing the maid again. The teary-eyed maid tried to escape, but I held her down, too interested in the phenomenon. It looked like I met an actual Majin in the flesh...or should I say in the mist?
The elven maid’s body twitched like she was having a seizure; it only lasted a few seconds before she settled down. She jumped up and headbutted me but she recoiled in pain while I barely reacted. “Gah!” She snarled.
“Huh, so you can feel your host’s pain,” I said curiously. Since my father was a scientist, I suppose I inherited his curiosity, as twisted as it may be.
Grunting, she muttered, “Cur non ego sapientia habito in vobis?”
Realizing I didn’t have the AI interpreter on me, I headbuted the possessed maid’s head, temporarily stunning it so I could grab the earpiece from a desk next to the bed. Immediately after attaching the earpiece, Athens went to work to interpret the Majin’s words. The Majin started to recollect itself from the headbutt I gave her.
“Doth the lady speaketh,” I raised my arms happily, knowing Athens still worked. In that instant she swung the knife at me, but my palm blocked it. I bit down the pain as I saw a glint of silver peeking out of the back of my hand covered in blood.
Without hesitating, I tore out the knife and flung it to the floor. I showed my hand to the Majin-possessed elf, and her eyes grew like headlights. My hand was completely healed; there was only a whisper of a scar left.
“I didn’t detected a whiff of magic,” The Majin said through the elf, “What are you?”
I laughed, “I should be asking you that question,” My fingers tapped her head lightly, “The answer to this question is rather obvious, but I just gotta make sure, are you a Majin?” She nodded slowly, confirming my suspicions.
“Tell me, what’s your...no, what’s your host’s name?” I asked. There were two reasons why I asked this question. The first reason was so I would refer to the majin as the host’s name so that no one would grow suspicious of the majin’s influence; the other reason was a craftier reason: to figure out if majin inherit the memories of those they are possessing.
“Dana,” She said, “Her name is Dana.”
“I see. And your majin name?”
She-it, whatever, stared at me for a good moment. The Majin seemed very hesitant as it furrowed its stolen brows. “Bodhi. My name is Bodhi.”
“Bodhi, huh?” I repeated. What a weird name, I thought. “So, Bodhi, how about we team up?”
Its eyes widened, then frowned as if I just insulted it, “You want me to team up with humans? Don’t insult me-”
“No no,” I shook my head, “Not humans, just you and me. Truth be told, I am not feeling very patriotic towards this so-called ‘Dahlia Kingdom’. I want out, and I doubt they’d let me just walk out of here.”
“So you want freedom,” The possessed elf raised an eyebrow, “But what can you give our kind? You cannot be a host.”
I chuckled, amused by this little Majin’s smallmindedness, “I can work for you. Trade a permanent jail sentence for a temporary one. What do you say?”
The Majin locked eyes with me; for a moment, I could see the swirls of mist in the elf’s eyes, before the host turned away. After a long sigh, the Majin relaxed its small shoulders, “If you can lower the barrier this castle has, the Majin can invade this place. We were just barely able to cast a tiny hole through it, only big enough for me to go through. Then it closed,” Its hand raised to my cheek to caress it, “Find a way to lower the barrier, and I’ll talk with the Archmajins.”
Yes! A tiny smile crept up my face, “You have a deal.”
So we developed a plan after that. Bodhi told me that the royals tend to have the keys to the barrier. In order for the barrier to go down, we’d have to have one of the royals get us the ‘keys’ to turn down the barrier.
In short, I’d have to get the Majin to possess either the king or one of the two princesses. Problem is, they are protected by a powerful protection spell casted by none other than the Dahlia Sage himself. It would’ve been easier if the Sage was in the castle; we’d at least have a physical shot at interrogating the Sage, but he apparently went somewhere called the ‘Red Zone’.
I’d have to somehow trick one of the princesses into lowering their protection spells; the king is too shrewd, Amaryllis was too haughty, but Zinnia was the perfect target. Zinnia admired me because she admired heroes.
“I’ll get you Zinnia as your host. When I get her to lower her barrier, take her.”
Our conversation ended after that. As Bodhi got up and left the room, I watched the door close behind the possessed elf.
My eyes closed. I tried to relax and sleep, but my brain was dancing with plans and conspiracies. Deciding it was enough, I jumped off the massive bed to get some exercise in.
I looked out the window and thought, I wonder what the king and his daughters are talking about right now.
Now how to spy on them…?
A part of me considered using an invisibility cloak from my suit, but when I tried to activate it, it would flicker on-and-off as it flickered with electrical sparks.
When I put down the invisibility cloak by the desk, I resumed my staring contest with the window, “Screw it,” my voice leaked slight discontent. I grabbed two plasma knives in the pocket of my suit, walked towards the window, removed the blinds, and climbed out. Using the plasma knife’s special properties, I turned it on and easily stabbed through the castle. Then with my other hand, I placed the second knife farther to the right.
Like that, I climbed the castle walls albeit with some difficulty. It was chilly outside, and my feet kept slipping off the walls. When I saw a window, my body reacted on instinct and automatically ducked below it.
The first window I passed by had a dozen knights comparing muscles with each other. Geh, the sweat permeated my nostrils, making everything reek for a good ten minutes. It didn’t help that the outside air dragged the smell outside. My facial muscles cramped into a scowl.
I scaled the walls faster to put the incident out of my mind.
There were a few magical searchlights from the patrol guards on the roof. Carefully and skillfully avoiding them by twisting my body into an S-shape, I finally arrived to a certain window I’ve had my eyes on.
“But that’s impossible! We have everything from her!”
“I’m sorry Your Majesty, Princess, but the ritual has proven unsuccessful.”
I heard a female stranger, the King, and from her haughty tone of voice, Amaryllis. They were talking about some kind of magic ritual. But what?
I shut my eyes and focused my hearing; I needed to eavesdrop.
“I gave you her blood, a piece of her hair, and her name. What more do you need?!” The King was outraged, “You are the Royal Sage! It shouldn’t be this difficult to bind a naive otherworlder!”
Bind me? My hands subconsciously tightened their grip on the knives.
“I don’t think it is the divine ritual’s fault, Father,” Amaryllis intervened; I heard the Royal sigh relief, “I trust her judgement. It must be a problem with the ingredients.”
“Are you suggesting that-”
“Yes, Father. I believe our little otherworlder lied to us about her name.”
Squealing, the Sage started, “Yes! So that was the problem, her name!”
They all stood quiet for a moment, before the King raised his voice, “How do you propose we figure out her name, then? I doubt any magic below divine could force her to spit out her true name.”
“That’s simple, Father,” Amaryllis’s voice oozed with confidence. I could totally imagine her swaying her hips confidently, “Zinnia and our Lady Hero are awfully close. If we can use Zinnia to lower her guard, maybe, just maybe, the otherworlder will give up her name.”
“Hm….” I wondered whether or not the King was scratching his chin, “Do you really think Zinnia would allow this sort of tactic?” He said sarcastically.
“She doesn’t have to know. She is quite naive, Father.”
The Sage was suspiciously quiet throughout that whole ordeal.
Well, I heard enough. Apparently they had some sort of divine ritual that would make me their puppet, a sort of ultimate killing machine without a will.
I don’t think so, I smiled.
Deciding I heard enough, I continued scaling the walls in an attempt to find Zinnia. I wanted to know what kind of person she was behind the whole ‘superfan’ attitude she shows me.
When I was escorted through the castle by Captain Albert, I decided to memorize the layout of the place. Surprisingly, it came in handy now. I accurately deduced Zinnia’s room from a couple of drapes that brushed my face; they held the flower insignia the princesses had.
That, and it was also fairly easy to spot because not many windows had a balcony below it. When I flipped over and landed on the balcony, I noticed the lights were off. Was she not in her room?
I pushed through the drapes. Thankfully, the slide window was open, giving me easy access to the room.
My eyes wandered over a large queen-sized bed with a sole silhouette resting peacefully on it. On a closer look, she was hugging a large body pillow, nibbling on it. Eugh.
Doubt wiggled its way into my head. Was she really that naive and childish? Am I paranoid?
“It’s a good thing I spotted you,” an eerily familiar female voice snaked its way into my ears. Immediately turning to assess the threat, I brought out my plasma knives, only to notice a girl barely in her twenties, draped with long blackish purple robes and a large pointed hat, standing a few feet behind me. She had a sad smile on her face as she waved hi.
I was about to charge when she raised her hands up peacefully, “Wow! Not here to fight. I want to make a deal with you.”
“Yes. I think you, me, and that little misty parasite friend of ours can be a great team.”
I raised my eyebrows. How did she know about Bodhi?
Seemingly reading my mind, she said, “It wasn’t a coincidence the Majin entered here. I let it worm through the barrier.”
“If you had that much influence over the barrier, why not let all the Majin enter?”
She shook her head, “I’m not in control of the barrier. I was only able to manipulate it for a short time. The true magic power-houses of this castle are the royals, obviously. I have no innate talent. I’m just smart, is all.” The Sage shrugged.
“So what do you want, exactly?” I said, keeping my guard up as I raised a knife to her throat.
Seemingly unperturbed by my threatening attitude, she continued, “I want revenge on the Narci family for what they’ve done.”