...it is the summoning collar of a Demon that lets them cross to our plane, the Mortal Realm, from the Netherworld and back; it is the same summoning collar that binds them to the sacrifices made by the [Cultist] to form a contract. Only Demons with a collar bestowed to them by our King can make this trip or go back— those who can do so without it are rare exceptions.
However, if a Demon comes to the Mortal Realm and decides the sacrifice isn’t worthy, no contract will be formed and they’ll be able to return to the Netherworld as they please. They will not be able to leave their summoning circle until such a contract is formed, kept back by the magical link between the summoning circles and summoning collars.
I leafed through the large tome, reading its contents slowly as I tried to figure out how these Demon summoning rituals worked. Lots of long and big words. Maybe I should try speaking like that!
I had tried speaking with the surviving [Cultists] and making them tell me how I could do one, but they refused to speak. And Daniel did not let me force it out of them, citing something about how ‘torture’ is ‘unethical’ even if it can be aruged that ‘killing’ is ‘necessary’.
I did not care enough to argue with him since I realized these books kept by the [Cultists] had all the information I needed. I simply read through it, letting him deal with stupid things like ‘feeding the prisoners’ so they ‘wouldn’t starve’.
I put down the book I had read through the night and started a new one, more focused on the sacrificial part of the summoning rituals.
Demons come to the Mortal Realm for the same reason as Spirits: to harvest mana and experience. And that is why Humans, as a master of mana, are considered the best sacrifices for a Demon in a ritual. No other sapient species— not the Elves or the Kobolds— are born with as much inherent magical potential as a Human. The highest natural Stat of a Human is their [Wisdom], and it is because their [Wisdom] that Demons prefer Humans to be used in their rituals.
Of course, monsters known for their magic would suffice too. A Mindreaper or a Behulder would offer more mana than even a great [Mage] would. But the difference in experience awarded from sapient beings and mindless monsters would counteract any additional mana offered in sacrificing a monster. Furthermore, due to the sacrificial nature of the rituals, the experience awarded from their deaths would not be lessened by any level differentials between Demon and Human.
It is, therefore, more practical to sacrifice a dozen low leveled Humans than to sacrifice a single high leveled Mindreaper—
So, if I wanted to carry out a summoning ritual, the best sacrifice would always be a Human. Good thing we have three Humans tied up in the other room. Daniel was open to the idea of using them for me to summon a low leveled Demon so I could just rip their summoning collars off them to return, but he wanted it to be done in a ‘humane’ manner where they were asleep and it was done quickly.
However, having dozens of Humans sacrificed all at once would be impractical in any scenario, and it would be even more difficult if it were a large amount of monsters that were being sacrificed. To commence a ritual without such impracticalities, [Cultists] would have to have all but one sacrifice killed beforehand, and mix their blood and mana signature into the ink used to create the summoning circle.
This will allow a Demon to…
“What are you reading?”
I glanced up and saw Rachel peering at me; the Human girl had been staying with us over these past few days while I went over everything I needed to prepare for a Demon summoning ritual. I wasn’t going to just give up, after all.
She paused, tilting her head up to the ceiling for a moment to consider this. I had expected her to respond with an ‘I see’, but instead she came back with another question.
“What are you reading?”
Slowly, I raised the book up and gestured for her to come closer. She stepped forward and sat down next to me on the bed as I showed her the contents of the tome.
“I’m reading about how to sacrifice Humans to summon Demons into the Mortal Realm.”
“Aren’t you already a Demon, Ms Salvos?”
“Yes I am.”
“So, why do you want to summon another Demon?”
I cocked my head and she mirrored the gesture. I spoke simply, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“Because my companion is stuck in the Netherworld.”
Rachel cocked her head even further. She spoke softly.
“Are you lonely?”
Blinking, I furrowed my brows.
“No, why would I be lonely?”
“Because you’re a Demon. There aren’t many Demons here in the Mortal Realm. At least, that was what mommy told me when I was young. Before she left daddy and called him one of them. Since there are no Demons here, I thought you’d be lonely.”
I crossed my arms and huffed.
“Well, I am not lonely. I have Human and Spirit companions here too! Like Daniel! And they all know that I’m a Demon, so it’s fine.”
“Where are your other companions then, Ms Salvos?”
She looked at me inquisitively— it was not meant to be an attack, just a question. However, I couldn’t help but hesitate before responding to her.
“They’re… not here right now. But I know other Humans too! Like Helen and Saffron! They aren’t my companions, but they’re… my friends? I think.”
“Do they know that you’re a Demon?”
I stared at Rachel for a moment, then I deflated.
I sighed, slumping back onto the thin mattress. Rachel just looked at me with her big copper-colored eyes. She was curious, and maybe slightly afraid— still not processing that her father had left her. Daniel had told me that it was apparently a big deal for a Human to have their parents leave them.
I never had any parents so I didn’t get it.
“But so what? They know that I’m Salvos! That’s all that matters, right?”
I threw my hands in the air and sat back upright. I looked at Rachel for confirmation, but she simply stared back at me.
“I don’t think so, Ms Salvos. Many people knew my name— they knew who I was and who daddy was— but I don’t think they cared. I’ve been gone… missing… with you and Mr Daniel for a while, but before that, daddy didn’t let me go out for a long time. He kept me at home and no one came to see me.”
I watched as the Human girl brought a small hand up and fixed her gaze onto it. Her voice cracked as she spoke, sniffling and struggling to get the words out, but she managed to compose herself by the end.
I caught a glint of light from Rachel’s eyes— there was water forming at the edge of her eyelids, above the dark circles underneath her eyes. They did not stream down her face like I had expected them to, but instead a single blink sent a tiny splash in all directions before she lowered her hand.
She was so… delicate. I realized that one wrong word now could break her, just like a flower. She wasn’t a rock that was hard and sturdy— I didn’t need to target her joins to shatter like as I would with a Golem. I had to be careful with her.
I did not know why, but I slowly lowered myself to meet her gaze and offered her a reassuring smile— one that almost reminded me of Edithe.
“I… don’t know what the other Humans in your village are like, but they sound stupid. How can they not see you? You’re like a flower! A pretty flower! Anyone would spot you poking out of the bushes! It makes me want to pluck you!”
Rachel paused, eyeing me with an odd look. I grinned and grabbed her by the shoulders, helping her up.
“Um, Ms Salvos, what are you doing—”
“I’m bored. I’ve been doing nothing but reading for a week! I have this General Skill— a Title Skill— I want to learn. Come on, let’s go outside and try it out.”
I took a step forward, pulling her with me. The little girl blinked and followed me, slightly confused. I stopped for a moment and glanced back at her with a smile.
“Also, stop calling me ‘Ms’ Salvos. I’m Salvos. If you want to call me anything, call me Princess Salvos!”
“No— not just a princess. Princess Salvos! With a Title and all!”
“I-I see. Princess Salvos… I—”
Rachel closed her mouth, hesitating. Then she shut her eyes and spoke out louder than she had ever spoken before.
“I think you’re weird!”
I laughed and she giggled, following me.
“Well, I think you Humans are weird too!”
Daniel had been feeding the head [Cultist]— or well, trying to feed him since he refused to eat— when he heard an odd noise coming from the stone corridor that led out of the cave. He frowned and grabbed his sword.
What’s that sound, he thought hurrying out of the cave, attackers? More [Cultists]?
He paused mid step as light from the evening sun shone down on him and stared at the chaotic scene ahead. He saw two girls— one young woman and a child— laughing and shouting at each other as they ran around just outside of the mouth of the cave.
Salvos pointed at Rachel as she ran from the little girl.
The young man looked on as the scene continued. Salvos easily avoided the little girl as she tried grabbing for her legs, calling out once more.
“Oh yeah, how about this? Title Skill: Zealous Call!”
“Nope! You’re stupid! You don’t even know how your Skill works!”
“Hey! I’m trying!”
The young woman paused, placing her hands on her hips, and was immediately pounced on by Rachel.
“I caught you! You’re so slow!”
“No— I caught you!”
Salvos grabbed the girl, and pulled her up into the air. Rachel squirmed and laughed as she was spun around by the young woman. Rachel— the girl that had almost been sacrificed by [Cultists] just a week before. The same girl that had been abandoned by both her parents.
Daniel had tried everything to get her to even just smile, but she refused. She barely even spoke to him. And now, here she was playing with Salvos, happily beaming and giggling as they rolled on the dirt together in a hug.
“If someone catches you or annoys you, make sure you punch them like this—”
The young man from Earth shook his head, a smile plastered on his face as he turned around and entered the cave.
Just like her, huh? Except, a little more childish.