Miss M, the three-foot-tall former demon queen in an imp body, holds up two scabbards in her hands. She holds them up and pulls them back as if she is about to charge right in my direction.
“Surely you aren’t...”
“You are an abomination,” she says. “As the demon queen Mestopholees, I hold legal judgment over the fates of souls. And if your soul is not at rest, but your body has long since dissipated into the etherflow, I am charged with the duty of putting you down.”
“But you aren’t a demon queen anymore, Miss M...”
“Shut the Hells up!”
She charges straight at me.
In an instant, she’s already behind me, her feet sliding against the dirt. In a single swift motion, one so quick it is imperceptible even to my ghostly eye, she has already sliced through me, bisecting my body.
I don’t have a body.
I can’t be cut in half because the lower half of me doesn’t exist in the first place; I’m a ghost floating in mid-air.
(I wonder what I look like? Perhaps there is a mirror somewhere nearby?)
Miss M huffs and puffs. That single masterstroke attack must have taken a lot out of her puny, ill-fitting body. What was once one of the strongest magical beings on Mystix is now an oddly shaped potato, and even with most of her power theoretically intact, she cannot wield it like she once could.
Her eyes widen. Her jaw slackens.
“What?” I ask.
“Why didn’t you...”
“Why didn’t I what?”
“Why didn’t you die?!”
I look around at myself and try to figure out what she means. “I am certainly fitting of all definitions of the word ‘dead.’ Am I not right?”
Miss M growls and snaps, “You know what I mean! Ghosts are vulnerable to magical damage just like any living creature. My [Speed Slice] should have wiped you out in one blow.”
“Perhaps it is destiny itself that is protecting me,” I suggest.
“No! Ghosts are low-level enemies, and you’re not going to somehow be an exception, you hear? You stole our loot, and I want revenge! I waited for two days for this!”
“You mean you didn’t wish to see me again? You simply wanted to avenge the items I unfairly whisked away from this world?”
“Exactly correct!” she shouts.
“I feel somewhat hurt by this...”
Miss M jumps up into the air in a somersault and slices her scabbards through my head, swiping my head clean off. Or, rather, it would swipe my head clean off if there was any head for her to even attack. Instead, it merely phases through my spirit.
“No, you DON’T feel hurt by anything, which is exactly the problem here,” she says once she lands.
“I’m just as confused about all this as you,” I tell her. “Every time I sleep, I come to this place. And now that I know this place is Mystix, that I am somehow tethered to my homeland even after death, I am even more baffled by everything.”
“And that means... I probably shouldn’t kill you, because you’re far more interesting as a specimen,” she says. She poofs away her scabbards back into her inventory and walks around me in a circle, trying to inspect me as close as her demon eyes can show her.
Of course, because my vision is a full 360 degrees, I can see Miss M the entire time she walks around me. It is a strange and unpleasant experience to be paced around and not even lose sight of the person walking.
“You’re a dream, and a ghost, and you’re invulnerable to all attack...” Miss M puts her tiny fingers to her chin and makes a most inquisitive expression as she continues to examine me.
“I would suggest taking me to somewhere with more experienced [Mages] who could look into my situation with greater detail than you can be afforded yourself,” I say. “It may be difficult for you to ascertain the truth.”
“Better idea: let’s never, ever make you public knowledge,” she says. “Do you know what your existence would do to the entire world order? Especially with the fact that you’re actually—um, nevermind.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You most certainly did.”
“Say something. You certainly did say something.”
“I did not.”
“Fess up, Miss M!”
“No,” she says. She immediately changes the conversation topic. “I cannot let you become public knowledge, but I can definitely show you to some trusted confidants.”
“Like the other members of Team Fanghook? How are they doing, by the way? I would like to know how everyone is doing, especially the former love of my life, Malia. Is she okay?”
“We broke up the team,” Miss M says. “Losing you further strained the cracks in our team, and we could no longer remain together.”
“...What? Our team was strained? Since when?”
“There is a lot you were too naive to know about us,” she says. “We hid a lot from you because of your youth and inexperience. You were too kind, too simple to understand what Team Fanghook was going through.”
“My child, one day, if you ever had survived to reach B-Rank, or The Goddess forbid, A-Rank, you would have realized just the scope that Mystix truly held. Our adventures were not free. Everything we did came at a price.”
“I have no idea what you mean,” I say.
“And that is exactly why we didn’t want you to know any of it.”
“And so the others... What happened to them?”
“Hells if I know,” Miss M says. “We only broke up a few days ago, after we defeated the dragon and found you gone. Borguk has probably found a new team already. He’s good at that stuff. Thalia’s probably sailing back home as we seek. And Malia...”
“Malia... Yes, what about Malia?”
Miss M shrugs. “I don’t know. Last I saw her, she was in a bad way. She was convinced that nothing had happened to you, and you’d left with our loot and stole it for yourself. She even claimed at one point that you told her you’d like to abandon your adventuring and live off the grid forever, even asking her to run away with you. So as far as I know, she thinks you were a thief in a long con to steal all our stuff before we could sell it.”
“I... I did say those things, yes,” I say, “but that was so long ago. Back then I was young and inexperienced. I wanted an easy way out, and a way that would lead to enhancing my love for Malia. Now, I would never give up my adventures. I will journey to the ends of the world to achieve my destiny. And I would never abandon a friend.”
(Except for in my choice to abandon Mystix in favor of Earth. But I will not tell Miss M about that.)
“Well, maybe you should tell Malia that,” she says.
“Unless you bring her here, I obviously cannot. I cannot move fast enough, far enough in this ghostly form. I cannot control my body, or lack thereof, in any direct way. It is like I can only nudge it in any given direction. Sad, isn’t it?”
“Hmm... I may have an idea for that,” she says. “It may cause some major temporal issues for you and your entire other world, if my ideas about your spirit prove to be correct. But that will help us a lot.”
“Oh. Really? Could you really help me?”
“Yes. Just a moment; let me burn some extra cards in my Destiny Deck so I can get an extra slot.”
She spends the next several moments staring forward, with sparks flying around her when she draws or discards cards once every few seconds.
“Say, if Team Fanghook broke up, and if everyone already went their separate ways, how come you were still in this village to find my ghost in the first place? Aren’t we still in the same town where I died?”
“That,” Miss M responds once she breaks away from managing her Destiny Cards, “is something you should be able to answer by thinking about what a pathetic person I am.”
“You stayed behind drinking away your sorrows in the tavern?” I ask.
“Precisely.” She puts her hand on me... Or in me, I guess, but that sounds odd. “Hold still. If this works, you won’t even know—”
My field of vision disappears.
Miss M poofs me into her inventory.