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A note from MelasD

Shoutout to Eric River's new story! TWIG - The System Can't Save Me, But It Can't Stop Me Either [a gamelit-portal-fantasy-poem by eric river]

This is an experimental new type of fiction
It's a gamelit verse novel, a brand new concoction
Follow Twig as he rebels against his status screen
And learn why its messages are always cold and mean

Like my main work, "Hero's Song," its form follows a rule
every rhyme and syllable is taken from that school
see the prologue for a quick guide on this new format
this will be a first draft, so I hope you're fine with that

TWIG - The System Can't Save Me, But It Can't Stop Me Either [a gamelit-portal-fantasy-poem by eric river] | Royal Road


227. Mentor

“I said no.”

I repeated myself, and the Devil’s brows snapped together. He stared at me, his face contorting into a frown.

“What do you mean exactly by… no?”

“It means I don’t want you to teach me anything. I want you to leave me alone!”

I crossed my arms. He nodded slowly.

“I see, I see, I see. Actually— I don’t see it at all.”

“What is there not to see?”

Raising a brow, he looked at me expectantly.

“Well? Elaborate, then.”

“I mean, you’re a bit of a jerk.”

The Devil blinked, and I continued.

“And also, you pranked me. This could just be another one of your pranks. Or you could prank me down the line by giving me a fake lesson, you know?”

“...is that it?”

“Kind of? Those are the big reasons, at least. It means I can’t trust you. Why should I let you mentor me if I can’t trust you?”

He just stared at me as I finished. There was a crackle. My flames danced in the background— it burned around my artifacts. Some of them had melted, which kind of annoyed me. But then the Devil snapped a finger, and my eyes widened.

Everything in my room began to… recover. The melted metal, the burned books— everything that had been damaged was repaired. It wasn’t just like they were being fixed. It was like they were being returned to the state they were in before I fought the Devil.

The flames didn’t wink out of existence. They almost shrunk back into themselves, returning everything they ate back from ash and dust to paper and wood. I looked around, puzzled— in shock.

“How…?”

“You’re not the only one who can cast a magical time field. I did it before the battle started, knowing that you’d probably wreck your own Lair.”

I pursed my lips, but he let his spell finish and folded his arms.

“Anyway, let me get this straight: you’re rejecting help from me, the Devil, one of the highest-leveled people you will ever get to meet. Someone who has been alive for fifty thousand years; who has seen the time of Dragons and High Elves and Deities come and go, leaving their continents to come to this sanctuary on their own; who was there when Worldwalkers littered the lands, far and wide; who has been to worlds you can only imagine in your wildest dreams, where paradise and torment can be a reality. That is who I am, and that is who you’re rejecting because you don’t want to be embarrassed if I prank you?”

“Yep.”

I nodded slowly, feeling slightly nervous. Was he mad? Was he going to try and kill me now? [A Hunter’s Sense] didn’t flare up, so I felt like I was fine.

His eyes narrowed. The Devil peered at me, his face scrunching up in disbelief. I hesitated.

“I mean, I also think you’re mean. So, it’s not just that I’ll be embarrassed.”

I waited for his reaction. He placed a hand on his chin. Then he arched his back, rocking in laughter.

“That is HILARIOUS!”

The Devil doubled over, slapping his knees, slapping the floor, and slapping his face.

“What an utterly ridiculous reason— and yet, it makes sense to you too, doesn't it? Why would an Archdemon of Pride accept such an offer? You fit your mold perfectly, Salvos. The same can’t be said for most other Demons.”

I watched him as he picked himself up, shaking his head. Again, I didn’t feel threatened. Not from his demeanor and not through [A Hunter’s Sense]. I was optimistic for a moment. Myface brightened.

“Does that mean you’ll finally leave me alone?”

The Devil chuckled.

“Absolutely not.”

My shoulders sagged.

“What? Why not?”

“I said I wanted to teach you, Salvos. Sure, I was being polluted and asking for permission. But I was going to do it anyway whether you liked it or not.”

He cheerily twirled around, a wicked grin on his face.

“Huh.”

I stared at him. Then I sighed.

“Well, this really must be how Saffron feels when dealing with me.”

—--

The Devil… didn’t leave me alone for the next few days whenever I returned to my Lair. He’d constantly peer over my shoulders, asking me about what I was doing, even if it was something as inane as reading through my notes.

“What are you doing?”

“Reading. I told you this like three times.”

“But you’re reading a different book!”

“It’s all the same stupid subject!”

He’d do this constantly, pestering me about whatever I did or was doing. He wouldn’t leave me alone, even when I told him anything that could get him to leave.

“You know, there’s this big and scary Demon called Belzu that’s rampaging across Nixa. He works for your good friend, Regnorex. You should pay him a visit!”

“Hm? I’m not friends with Reggie boy. And Belzu?”

He raised an amused brow.

“So, he finally decided to carry out his plan, didn’t he?”

I blinked.

“You know Belzu?”

“I paid him a visit once. He’s not under Reggie boy though. Very ambitious fellow. Actually, has he hit Level 200?”

“No, he hasn’t… wait, he’s not?”

“That’s what I’m asking you.”

“Not that— I mean, he isn’t a minion of the Demon King?”

I furrowed my brows. I had suspected that— with the way he spoke about Regnorex, I wasn’t sure if he was actually a minion. But that was what everyone had claimed. That Regnorex was invading the Mortal Realm once again, or something. Since I didn't care all that much, I just nodded along with that.

But to receive confirmation…

The Devil clapped his hands together.

“How did you meet him?”

Having the Devil himself speaking into my ear was annoying, yes. But the worst part of it all? Sometimes, I’d get caught up in conversation with him. And we’d waste an entire hour talking about things he wanted to talk about!

“Oh, I—”

I explained the situation with how I first encountered Belzu when I entered the Brilsum Ruins, then with how I met him again. The Devil seemed intrigued by the conversation. His curiosity drove my enthusiasm to explain the story where I’d nearly died to Belzu twice!

When I realized I’d gone off the rails, I’d quickly try and make up for lost study time. He’d still bother me, but whenever I entertained him for a bit, he’d be placated and disturb me even less.

The biggest problem from having him in my Lair was not really how he bothered me. I didn’t feel like it’d ruin my grades. But it definitely was hurting friendships.

—--

I did manage to tutor Valda twice this week, but I had to skimp out on two other sessions I had arranged. Nolan was the most hurt— we usually met up during the weekends, and I couldn’t see him then. And Saffron…

“I have the runes, Salvos. Don’t you want to… be more inconspicuous?”

She gave me a flat stare. I drew back.

“I do! I do! I just… can’t, right now, you know?”

“No, I don’t know, Salvos. Did you not already invite me to your Lair once before? What is the problem?”

Saffron was perceptive. She knew something was amiss, and I really wanted to tell her what was going on. I shuffled my feet uncomfortably, hoping that maybe the Devil wouldn’t mind if his identity was exposed.

But he was the Devil. He was unpredictable. I glanced around Saffron’s room: the wards she had set up couldn’t possibly protect them against the Devil’s magic. He could be listening in at this very moment!

“It’s… not something I can say, Saffron. I’m so sorry.”

She sighed, looking slightly annoyed.

“It’s fine. If you don’t want me to help you for your own good—”

I grabbed her by the arm.

“You’re my companion. I trust you a lot. But this is something that I genuinely can’t speak about. Maybe. Probably not.”

Saffron frowned, but I held her gaze, loosening my grip.

“Please. For your own good, Saffron. Just… until I deal with this problem, alright?”

The problem was— could I even deal with this problem? I didn’t know. I’d try. Saffron stared at me for a while, until finally, she nodded.

“Very well. If it is disturbing you, then it must be no small matter. I trust you too, Salvos. So, I will leave you alone for now.”

I smiled at her.

“Thank you.”

—--

“No, no, no, no, no! What even is this?!”

“Um. That’s my textbook?”

I returned to my Lair after speaking with Saffron, only to find the Devil stood over my notes, pacing back and forth as he held up a book. He scowled.

“This is what they teach you in Nafis Academy?”

“It’s, um, Mavos Academy—”

“Doesn’t matter!”

The Devil stormed up to me, pointing at the textbook.

This is what you learn in your space magic classes?”

I cocked my head.

“Yes?”

“Ridiculous! Utterly ridiculous! It’s all wrong!”

He spun around, throwing the book to the ground. Then he paused.

“Well, it’s not technically incorrect. It’s just… misinterpreted. Yes. That’s a better word for it— misinterpreted.”

He licked his lips as he spoke the word. I faced him, the puzzlement evident on my face.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“The basics— the fundamentals— yes, they’re correct. But what they do with it… it’s inefficient, it’s over extrapolated, and it’s bad theory!”

I shrugged.

“Maybe it could just be different from how it works in your world?”

The Devil blinked.

“My world? What are you talking about?”

“Daniel told me you’re from his world.”

I replied simply. His brows creased.

“From that [Hero]’s world? Where’s he from again?”

“Um, he called it Earth or something?”

He snapped his fingers, nodding.

“Earth, right. But which Earth? Hm.”

He ran a hand over his goatee.

“Is it Earth A314? No— that world is ending right now. Is it Earth Z40813? No, no, no. That world has no Humans... full of dinosaurs though, those cute feathered creatures. He’s from… he’s from Earth A1. That’s right.”

The Devil shook his head.

“I’m not from Earth. Although I’ve paid a visit to one of the Earth’s before— it might’ve been Earth A1. It doesn’t have a god— or rather, its ‘god’ is its world, if you get what I mean? And it doesn’t intervene, even if outsiders try to break in. It’s just… so peaceful, though. It doesn’t have much going on for itself. No reason for me to ever visit.”

I frowned.

“But Daniel said his world has the Devil.”

“Bah, that’s probably what they decided to call another Worldwalker who decided to play a prank. Anyway, my name is not ‘Devil’. That’s just my Title. Being a Devil can mean a myriad of things— don’t just trust the word of an idiot. Trust the word of me, instead.”

That was true— Daniel was an idiot. But he was my companion, while the Devil was… well, him.

“Then where did you come from? That void you tried sucking me into?”

“That is not a void. That’s just a fold between planes. You should see the real void between worlds. Actual worlds, not just the various levels in a single world. It’s… well, it’s nothing! Get it? Because it’s the void!”

I tapped a finger on my chin.

“Huh.”

The Devil waved a hand dismissively.

“Anyway, that’s not what matters— look, the fact that you don’t even know the distinction between the real void and the tiny bit of empty space between two connected planes is proof enough that your academic curriculum is inadequate. Nay, it’s abhorrent!”

I gave him a shrug.

“I mean, what can I do about it?”

“Nothing, really.”

He let out a heavy sigh.

“You can’t do anything about it. But… I can.”

I paused. My eyes widened slowly as I got the implication. The Devil spread his arms wide.

“Don’t worry, Salvos. Because tomorrow, I’ll be going with you to your school.”

 

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A note from MelasD

Fun fact, you can read up to the end of Salvos Volume 4 now on patreon. It's the best time to be a patreon too since it's still early into the month. Check it out!

 


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About the author

MelasD

  • Self-proclaimed most Successful Young Author on RoyalRoad based off the overly specific criteria he set. Became the 21st novel to hit 10,000 followers on the 21st of September, 2021, at the age of 21.
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