When the child pulled back the knife from Lyros chest, the steel was not darkened by the crimson of his blood. The young girl was just as confused when she raised the knife to her eyes. Eyes black as night, with a gleaming blood moon at the center of each.

Collect yourself! Lyro screamed in his head as he punched the young girl in the face, knocking her away. And himself off-balance as well, his knees hitting the ground. His knuckles burned, but it was not that bad. He flexed the hand a couple times as he pulled it to his chest, running his fingers along the hole in his jacket.

The tin box was punctured instead of his heart. Im…alive…!

He heard a soft chuckle from behind. ”Just how many daemons are running around here? ” the green-haired trainee huntress commented. ”Seems like my blade will not be getting dirty with any more filthblood. ” He heard her footsteps.

She thinks Ive been stabbed… Lyro stayed on the ground. No… Its probably the orders she got from…whoever that K was. Should he be thinking about anything other than killing that daemon? Definitely not. My reaction was so slow… Even if he couldn anticipate that a possessed child was sneaking on him, at least he couldve reacted better. That punch felt good. I think I knocked her out. Shes just a kid, but—

The daemon jumped to her feet, glaring past him with eyes filled with hate. ”Where do you think you
e going, you bitch! If it weren for you, this brat wouldn have been able to kill my fragment! Youve weakened me, now youll pay for it! ”

Bitch? Lyro had to keep pretending he was stabbed, so he didn turn around. You
e dead!

”So you
e the same daemon from before, eh? ” the trainee huntress said. ”You chose a little girl to possess. Harmless, victims would think before getting killed. Clever, you mustve thought. But that just resulted in this fragment of yours being even weaker than your last one. And you know how that went. So don try. ”

The little girl with black eyes laughed. ”Why? ” she shouted, running with her knife pulled back. ”Don you wanna know wheres my mask—? ” She froze, her expression paling with fear.

Lyro gulped. He didn need to look over his shoulder to sense those eyes.

”This is no longer my mission, ” she said in a clear, cold voice. ”But do not rejoice, monster. In two days, youll die. Only then will you find I was actually merciful. ” Footsteps fading behind.

”You bitch! ” the little girl shrieked in frustration as the trainee huntress left. Lyro even looked over his shoulder to confirm it before climbing back to his feet at once. ”But at least I can kill you! ” The daemon rushed with her knife held to the front, eyes wide with the same hate twisting her expression. ”You
e nothing but a pathetic brat! ”

Lyro breathed out, raising his left hand. ”Soul Shackles. ”

[Left Hand: Soul Shackles (2/3)]

[Maena: (4/10)]

[Left Hand: Soul Shackles (3/3)]

[Maena: (1/10)]

The daemons charge broke abruptly, its hosts head twitching abnormally, just as her black eyes. ”Not this again! ” the monster shouted. ”You can do shit to me! I broke through it last time and Ill do it again! You were able to kill me only because shed chopped my limbs off! You
e nothing but a pathetic brat! A **ing coward! ”

”A lot has changed, ” Lyro said, nearing her. ”You
e not the same as last time. Neither am I. And also, my hex. ” As this time, the suppressing shackle of crystal ice with its ominous purple glow was not around the neck, but around the daemons waist.


[Durability: 23 (27 – 5)]

Lyro snatched the knife away from the hands of the possessed host while she was still in the shock of her Power getting suppressed. ”Thanks for making me stronger. ”

”You **ing bitch! Ill come for you again, and then Ill fuc—! ”

Lyro slashed her throat, the body dropping to the ground, squirming and struggling as blood gushed out from her neck, pooling under her lifeless body. ”You can keep coming for me, ” he said to the daemon, tossing the knife away, as black smoke rose from the hosts eyes, ”but the outcome won change. Its quite simple. If you try to kill me, Ill kill you first. ” The purple orb shot toward Lyro. ”After all, survival is all that matters in this world. ” The rush of power within him felt tamer than last time. Then he absorbed the blue orb, the feeling it brought being unknown and fresh.


[Power Orb (Power: 3)]

[Maena Orb (+9)]

[Power: 4 (2/100)]

[Maena: (1/10)]

[Power: 4 (41/100)]

[Maena: (10/10)]

”Not enough for a Power-Up, ” Lyro observed. ”But Ill take it. ” With his maena restored, he felt fuller, even though his stomach was empty. ”I even have enough to use my Right Hand devilhex now. ” The runes emerged out of thin air in their glowing ethereal glory. But not the ones he called for.

[Left Hand: Soul Shackles (3/3)]

[Left Hand: Soul Shackles (0/6)]

[Cost: (4) Maena.]

[Effect: can temporarily suppress any (1) Power of the target by (10) points.]

Lyros eyes widened. ”Soul Shackles just got stronger. ” The cost had also gone up, but for one extra point of maena, the hex basically doubled in power. The shock of suppression would be even fiercer and longer now, he knew. ”This feeling… Ive never felt it before. ” He was getting stronger. Slowly, but surely, point by point, he was.

Mezlok sighed deeply. ”I wish I was as easily amused as you, ” he complained. ”The fight was as boring as one could go. You didn even take any damage. ”

”I-I didn ? ” Lyro was honestly surprised.

[Vitality: (18/23)]

”Its the same… ” He just faced a ruthless trainee huntress and a hateful daemon. And hed made it out without a scratch. ”A lot of it was luck… ” he acknowledged. The tin box, the call the trainee huntress got, the hex hed fortunately saved, the possessed host being a literal child. This is nothing to celebrate… I just survived better than before. This is what I should be doing in the first place.

”Of course it is nothing to celebrate, ” Mezlok said. ”And what must you be doing? Murdering a little girl in cold blood? ”

Lyro looked down at the corpse of the child, the lifelessness in her eyes, the moonlit blood around her throat. ”Little girls are innocent, ” he said to the daevil. ”But little girls possessed by hateful daemons rushing to kill me are not. I would do it again if I had to. ” The little girl had died the moment the daemon possessed her body.

Mezlok chuckled. ”I was just checking. Cannot say I am disappointed. ”

”But I am. ” Lyro began walking out of the building. ”You didn warn me about its presence. But also, you didn tell me that daemons could possess multiple hosts. ”

”You did not know? How could you not? Until the mask of a daemon is ripped, they can continue possessing new hosts, fragmenting their power to take control of multiple bodies at once. ” One host with all their power, or multiple hosts with divided power, it seemed that was their choice. Perhaps that was the reason why the daemon had not used its hex like the last time, the host being too weak for it.

Lyro nodded. ”I figured that much out. ” Once he was under the open night sky, he made for a certain spot close to the wall. ”Thats why I can stay here. I don know how much power that daemon has left, but it knows what I look like and where I am. I must keep moving and find it before it finds me. ” The thief of the daemon mask. Now…instead of robbing, hed have to kill him. But all he knew about the man was that he was a Purple Viper.

”Now that I know what you are planning for tomorrow, ” Mezlok asked, ”I have to say you are less of a fool that I thought. ”

”Chasing down a daemon to kill it without knowing who or where it is sounds like a smart plan to you? ”

”That too, since you will get Power once you rip the mask off. But I was referring to selling the dagger to get into the maege school. You facing hunters will be very interesting for sure. ” He laughed.

”Oh, yeah. ” Lyro stopped at the spot, kneeling on the ground to start digging with his bare fingers until he felt solid metal. ”For that…Ill have to move even quicker. ” He pulled out the box, opened it, then took out the remote with the small red button.

”Quicker? I thought you needed rest. ”

”I do, but can afford it now. ” Lyro sighed. ”Didn you hear? In two days, the one who was originally given this case will return, continuing from where she left off. I don think hed like finding me alive, and if she was just the substitute for him, I don wanna think what that guys like. Especially because… ” He recalled what hed heard the voice say. Ive returned from the mission the hunters called me for. ”That guy was called on a mission by actual licensed daemon hunters of hunter guilds. Why would they need a trainee? The answer is simple. ”

”Hes strong. ”

Lyro nodded. ”And I know as I am now, I can even beat the one substituting for him. ” He ran his thumb on the red button of the remote. ”I can rely on luck for survival. I need to rely on factors I can control. So if I don wanna encounter that ruthless hunter, I have to find the daemon mask and that enchanted dagger within the next day. If I can , my chances of getting into a hunter academy will reset back to zero. ”

”Then, the hunt begins! ” Mezlok laughed excitedly. ”Let it be more interesting than what you have already shown me, my daevilman! ”

”With my stronger hex and restored maena, I think itll be just that. ” Lyro turned his back on the building he called home, starting away deeper into the Outskirts. ”And this time, Ill make sure I don retreat unless my mission is complete. ”

”That is impossible, ” Mezlok said reluctantly. ”You are sure to exhaust your maena. Then you will lose your nerve as your other Powers are still underwhelming. What will you do then? Talk? Once you find your words falling on deaf ears, all you will be left with is running. ”

”Where will I run to? ” Lyro pressed the red button. ”I don have a place to return to. ”

The building behind him exploded, the destructive fireworks reaching for the night sky, brightening the Outskirts with its rising flames.

Mezlok laughed in his surprise as Lyro walked away under the plumes of fire and clouds of smoke.

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