Chapter 19 - House Belladonna
"But wow, to think that the Anna I know would actually take on an apprentice."
After Anna had summoned Irina, she brought the both of us back to her home. I was surprised to find out that she was living in a pretty normal house. Even if you ignored the awe-inspiring presence that surrounded the house, you'd think that she just lived in a normal middle-class household.
Currently, the three of us were sitting in the middle of the living room.
"That's not the case," Anna replied to Irina's comment. "I'm teaching him the basics, but I haven't formally accepted him as my ward. We're just working together while we both help each other with our problems."
The demon tilted her head. "Problems?"
Irina was a beautiful girl. Platinum blonde hair that almost looked silver, a bountiful figure that was easy on the eyes, and a cheerful disposition that matched her natural charisma. I could easily see how she could be considered royalty, even if Anna insisted that there weren't any demon princesses.
"We're looking into a possible apostle for Lord Lustra." Anna saw my confused look and clarified. "The demon lord we're investigating."
Huh, somehow I never thought to ask about the demon lord we were looking for. I should probably get the details out of Anna later.
Irina blinked her eyes. "Is that why you refused to attend the Academy?"
"Academy?" I asked.
"The Academy is a noble institution on the Demon World that is famous for teaching many," Irina explained. "The Belladonna family has also sent several of their members to attend in the past. So it was quite a shock to learn that Anna wasn't enrolling this year."
"I'm too used to Earth to think about living on another planet for the next four years," Anna replied. "Besides, I'm not really interested in dealing with all the politics involved."
Irina smirked. "And yet, you're looking into my uncle."
"That's different," Anna quickly answered. "I have reason to believe that Lord Lustra is thinking of opening a gate between the human and demon world."
The smirk quickly left Irina's face. "That's a bold accusation there, are you positive that is the case?"
"Definitely," Anna answered. "You've heard of Madame Vista's prophecy, so you know that her skills of foresight are not in question. She has given me information that he'll attempt to make his move here."
I didn't know who this Madame Vista person was, but judging by the surprised look on Irina's face, she must have been someone with quite the reputation.
"Surely?" Irina shook her head. "Then I guess all I can do is warn you to be careful. My uncle is not a foe to be underestimated."
She suddenly turned to me. "So, what's your role in all of this?"
"There must be something special about you if Anna believes you must listen to our conversation. Otherwise, she would have dismissed you while we discussed this issue."
"He's helping me investigate," Anna answered. "I've said so already."
"But you admitted that he is but a novice." Irina gave me a curious gaze. "Well, maybe I shouldn't doubt an awakened with silver eyes. But I doubt that's all you see in him."
Silver eyes? What does that have to do with this?
"He's also an apostle," Anna answered.
"Really?" Irina turned to look at Anna. "Which being is he contracted to?"
"Unknown," Anna answered. "But he must be a powerful one. Apparently, the miracle granted upon Wren was the ability to travel back in time."
That caused Irina to blink and look at me with shock. "Time travel?!"
"Um... to be specific, I send my memories back in time to a point in my past." I gulped as she took in every word I said. "The first time it happened to me, I traveled back in time by about five years right to the first day of high school. The next was after two weeks, and the third was a day later."
"He's still not sure about the extent to his powers," Anna followed up. "In exchange for understanding what he can do and figuring out who he's contracted to, he'll help me in my investigation. Clairvoyance is always a valuable ability, even if that's not exactly what he's doing."
Clairvoyance? Does she mean foresight? I guess if you look at it from a certain angle without knowing all the details, it would look like I can see the future rather than experience it.
Irina gave Anna a worried look. "A high-level apostle just conveniently appears in the school you go to and you're not questioning how suspicious that is?"
"Oh, no. That's definitely suspicious." Anna easily agreed with Irina. "I'm pretty sure our meeting was pre-arranged. Our interactions were not caused by luck or happenstance, and I believe it is the intention of whatever being Wren is contracted to that we meet. Though I have no clue what their intention is, I've decided that I'd rather have Wren under my supervision rather than be left on his own."
That... actually explained a few things. So Anna wasn't exactly teaching me out of the goodness of her heart, but because it was more logical to keep an eye on me by having me work with her.
Sure, there was the reason for helping her look into the apostle. But let's be honest here, I'm pretty sure I'm more of a liability than any actual help. Since I've never heard of a gate between worlds opening in my time, I'm pretty sure Anna was able to figure things out all on her own. So I seriously doubt she really needs my help.
But that just makes me wonder why exactly Text wanted me to meet Anna in the first place. It can't just be to help me get introduced to the supernatural world, right?
"But let's move on to other topics." Anna smiled at Irina. "Are you planning on staying at my place until your father is done with his business?"
"Yes," Irina happily replied. "Daddy's going to be looking into those Murim people and figuring out if they're going to cause trouble later down the line. He's going to be flying to the eastern countries tomorrow, so he told me it was okay if I could stay with you until then."
Anna sighed at that. "He's too lenient with you."
"That's because he loves me," Irina cheekily replied. Standing up, she began to leave the room. "Well, I'll just quickly unpack all my things. I'll be back in a few minutes."
Once Irina was out of the room, Anna turned to me and sighed. "Sorry about ignoring you until now. I know we've kind of excluded you from most of our conversations."
"It's okay," I quickly reassured her. "Your friend seems nice. I'm pretty sure you haven't seen her for a while, so it'd make sense if you were distracted by that."
She gave an awkward smile at that.
"But why exactly did you ask me to come with you?"
"I wanted you to meet someone who lived on the supernatural side," Anna answered. "Our encounter with Mary today has brought to my attention that I've been too focused on teaching you the technical knowledge of our community without informing you of the politics and culture of the awakened world."
I blinked at that. "And your answer was to have me meet the demon princess?"
"She's not a princess," Anna repeated. "But not just that. What I'm trying to tell you is that as a denizen of the awakened world, our duty is to preserve the order between the human and awakened world. Understanding why it is imperative we discover who the apostle is was one of the reasons why I've had you listen to our conversation just now."
I tilted my head. "Can you explain that one?"
"The worst-case scenario for if a gate opened between the human world and demon world is the possibility of war." She sighed. "As one of the daughters of the current ruler of the demon world, Irina would be one of the first in line to be conscripted to fight on behalf of the demon world."
"So... you're doing all of this to protect your friend?"
She blinked at that. "While... that's certainly one reason why I'm doing this, what I meant was that you should understand that this investigation of ours will most like have us encounter other demons like Irina. As a demon lord, we may run into followers of Lord Lustra. While many demons would not wish for a gate to the human world, those who would are most certainly going to be working together with Lord Lustra. There is a chance that we will have to fight against such forces during our investigation."
She gave me a worried look. "And there's a chance that we might have to take their lives if the situation forces us to."
My heart froze at that.
Irina, for all that I knew about her, looked and acted just as human as any person I've met. If all demons were like that, could I truly force myself to fight them with the intent of taking their lives?
I was almost certain that the answer was no.
She sighed and stood up. "If you want, you can go home now. I think you should take a break and think about what I'm asking of you."
Anna left the room, and I continued to stare into space while various thoughts ran through my mind.