Graverobber I can Steal Spells of the Dead

What stands in the way must become the way

Lyro instinctively knew where Mezlok wanted him to look, but after only one glance he crouched behind two half-crushed trucks, using the darkening dusk as his blanket. ”Are all daevils supposed to be this stupid? Thats a gangster. Don you see his tattoos? Hes nothing like those three you killed. And if you try, this time youll break more than just my fingers. ” Could Mezlok take back control?

”I wish I could. ” Mezlok sighed, reading his mind. ”I almost forgot how pathetic you are, ” he said honestly, but Lyro didn feel bad. How was he supposed to get strong out here? All his time and energy went into thinking if he was going to survive to eat his next cold meal or not. Strength followed survival, not the other way around. ”Lets check your Power. ”

”Power? ”

Glowing symbols burst out of thin air about his head, arranging in a specific formation.

[Power: 1 (0/10)]

[Vitality: (10/10)]

[Strength: 2]

[Durability: 3]

[Prowess: 1]

[Resistance: 0]

[Agility: 7]

[Maena: (3/3)]

”Forget I called you pathetic, boy, ” Mezlok said flatly, resentment creeping into his tone. ”You are even lower than that. Calling you scum would be a compliment. ”

Lyro read the symbols and sighed in agreement. It wasn a shocking discovery to him. ”Though seeing it laid out like this… ” He was truly less than pathetic.

”No wonder you broke your hands. ”

”It was you. I wouldve never punched in the first place. Because I know if one flies my way, Ill die. And I can die… Not yet. Not here. ”

”True enough, ” Mezlok said. ”But you have what others don . Me! ”

”True enough. ”

”And my hexes! ”

”Hexes? ”


[Daevilhex: Grim Chains and Reaper Scythe]

[Left Hand: Soul Shackles (0/3)]

[Cost: (3) Maena.]

[Effect: can temporarily suppress any (1) Power of the target by (5) points.]

[Right Hand: Soul Scythe (0/3)]

[Cost: (10) Maena. Can only be used (1) time in (1 day).]

[Effect: can harvest souls of the dead.]

Somehow, Lyro knew the enclosed values were variables.

But as for the symbols themselves…that was it.

Mezlok roared in bafflement, and covering ears did not help against the noise at all. ”Is this another joke I do not understand? Why do I only have my own daevilhex? Where are the hexes I robbed off the daemons and daevils I killed? What happened to them? ” It seemed he was on the verge of losing his shit—if he hadn already—when Lyro said, ”You keep saying that, so tell me of this joke. If our fates are truly linked, it would be best if you do. ”

”Joke? I myself do not understand how I am weakened to your pathetic level. ”

”Mezlok, ” Lyro said seriously. ”Whats going on? ” His life depended on knowing what he had accidently become a part of.

The daevil paused. ”Perhaps you are not so stupid, after all, ” Mezlok said, suddenly calm. ”I wanted to ease into the knowledge about the Duel by revealing it over time, but it seems that is the inefficient way to go about it. All this would be best for the both of us if you know what is going on. ”

”Agreed. ” Lyro breathed in and out in anticipation. ”What does it mean, Mezlok? Tell it all. Why was a daevil mask dropped in a pile of trash? Why are we locked in a fatelink? What is this Duel and whos gonna fight with who? What is this war for the throne? And why am I a part of all this? ” Before he could pile more questions on top, he felt the daevils eyes gazing into his own.

”Because thats how the Daevil Death Duel goes, ” Mezlok answered. ”Each century, a new king sits upon the Throne of the Underworld by winning the Death Duel. When the time for the Duel comes, all daemons and daevils participate in a brawl, and the best are chosen by Saetan herself for the Duel. The brawl is not to the death, unlike the Duel. But daemons cannot die in our own realm, so the stage for the Duel is set here, in your human realm.

”This year a new Duel was started to decide the King of the Underworld for the next century. I participated in the brawl, just as everyone else did. After it was done, I was chosen by Saetan herself for the Duel and a chance to sit upon the throne, but unlike most others chosen alongside me, I was already elevated to daevilhood by her long ago, so I knew I was finally going to be king.

”Then it began. Thirteen daemons—each chosen by Saetan herself and granted a daevilhex for elevation to daevilhood—were dropped into the human realm in our mask forms, just as according to the Rules of the Duel. I was picked up by you, but your will was strong enough to resist my possession. If it had not gone that way, we would not have been locked together in a fatelink and I would have just used your body until I found a newer and better host to possess. But because that did not happen, now I am weakened, not only because of your Power, but also because of what all this means.

”You see, now I understand that the joke is on me, but you are its punch line. If daevils get locked into a fatelink, our potential is reset to the level of our host. I have never been denied possession, so it slipped out of my mind. But now that it has come back to me, I realize that the reason I lost all those valuable crystals and amulets stored inside of my Pocket, the reason why my Power is lowered to such pathetic levels, and the reason why I only have my own hex and not the others I robbed… ”

”Is me, ” Lyro finished for him, feeling a pinch of guilt that didn last long. It wasn as if hed chosen to be this weak and had dragged him down purposely. This was just who Lyro was. Poor, pathetic, and powerless. But…it seemed to him that the throne mattered a lot to Mezlok, almost as if it was his immortal lifes goal. Maybe that was the reason why he claimed so proudly to already be the Daemon King. He was that sure hed win the Duel.

Lyro had doomed his chances, and Mezlok wouldn get another. He was not immortal in the human realm, as hed revealed. And suddenly Lyro realized something even grimmer. ”The others… ” he asked reluctantly. ”Those who find one of the other daevil masks…they are the enemy, right? The ones you…we have to fight? ”

”Twelve daevils, having possessed hosts or fatelinked daevilmen, are out there, ” Mezlok answered. ”And when they cross paths with us, they are sure to use your weakness as their advantage and possibly kill us for my mask, eliminating me from the Duel, along with my claim to the Throne of the Underworld. ”

”Possibly? ” Lyro asked, a glimmer of hope in his eyes. ”So theres a chance we can survive this? ”

Mezlok shook his head. ”I was referring to the winning conditions, not our chances. ”

”Oh. ” Everything turned dull again. Having a ticket out this dump, only for the ticket to turn out to be one of participation in a battle of death, was the cruelest joke the world had ever played on Lyro. Was there even a point in asking about the winning conditions? They had no shot anyway.

”Five daevil masks and fifty blight daemon masks, ” Mezlok revealed. It was easy to forget even their thoughts were linked. ”The first to fulfill those conditions wins the Daevil Death Duel and becomes the King of the Underworld. ”

The strongest daemon of a dungeon was called a blight daemon, Lyro knew. Killing one was a daunting task for a hunter, and fifty was a daunting number for Lyro. Put together, this further soured the taste in his mouth. He was in more danger than he thought.

Lyro bobbed his head up and down, death smiling over his shoulder closer than ever. ”Thirteen participants, ” he muttered. ”Each with twelve other daevils to deal with. But only needing to kill five of them for their masks… So theres a chance for survival if we come across another daevilman by— ”

”Pathetic, ” Mezlok spat bitterly. ”The Daemon King wanting mercy? Utterly pathetic. ” He grumbled. ”And I will not have it from you either, boy. You have pity in your mind for me, I can see. You think I want the throne? Why would the Daemon King want the throne? ”

”Because it would be nice and comfortable to sit upon it, ” Lyro reminded him of what hed said earlier. ”Besides, a king is nothing without a throne. You are no king, Mezlok. ” The hair on the back of his neck stood when the air suddenly chilled, his breath feeling icy.

”Say that again, mortal, ” Mezlok dared. ”I think I will just take back control and find me a stronger host— ”

Lyro braced himself, gulping. ”Yet. ”

Mezlok did the equivalent of raising a brow. ”Yet? ” he asked coldly. ”What do you mean yet? ”

”I think you didn hear me the first time, daevil, so let me make it clear to you, ” Lyro echoed. ”Im done being poor and pathetic. And you
e also a part of me. ” He stood tall, as tall a five-sevener could. ”If we
e going to die anyway in this war because of me weakening you, I say we fight to the end with all weve got. Only then maybe I can survive to die happy and you can sit upon the Throne of the Underworld to become the Daemon King. Otherwise…well just be counting days till our death. ”

That seemed to have worked in calming Mezlok. They were locked in a fatelink, so Lyro knew the daevil would know the intention behind his words, as hed intended. They needed to work together, that was the only way to ensure both of their survival. They could not afford to bicker and bash about.

”Im willing to make a deal with my daevil Mezlok, ” Lyro said finally. ”Can you do the same for your daevilman Lyro? ”

”Are you challenging me, boy—! ”

”Lyro. ”

”Huh? ”

”Im Lyro, Mezlok. ”

”Alright…Lyro… ” the daevil said reluctantly. ”What is this deal you speak of? ”

”You help me become stronger to get out this dump, survive, die happy, and Ill try my best to make you the Daemon King. Even if it means my death. You give me your powers, and Ill give you my life. ” Lyro shrugged. ”I can offer much, I know, but I don think you have many options here. So, what do you say? ”

Mezlok chewed on that for a moment. ”You can offer honesty. That is something. ” Lyro felt him grinning. ”You
e the first mortal to not lose his mind after being told of the Duel, you know that? You accept whatever is thrown at you and start moving accordingly. ” He laughed. ”You might not be so pathetic after all, but the funniest part is that this is what a daevilman is supposed to do in the first place—win the throne for their daevil! ” He laughed again.

”Acceptance is the first thing I learned, ” Lyro replied solemnly. ”If you linger too much on what you don have, you lose sight of what you do. And that means death when what you do have is just a pile of problems. Like this Daevil Death Duel. Which even after all that…we can hope to win. ” Not unless there was some way for him to get stronger.

”Hope is not out there, my daevilman, it is within, ” Mezlok said. It sounded strange coming from a daevil. ”So call me your hope, because there is indeed a way for you…for us to get stronger! ”

Lyro paused, raising a brow. Shouldve started with that…

Mezlok laughed. ”You will understand why I did not when you know what it is. ”

”So tell me. How can I get stronger? ”

”By killing other daemons, how else? ” Mezlok said simply, grinning. ”If our kind kills anything having maena, we gain Power. And now that you
e a daevilman, you can do the same. Maegic beasts, maeges, daemons, you name it. They have maena? They can make you stronger! ”

Getting stronger by killing? No wonder the hunters deemed the daemons such a huge danger to humanity. But…now Lyro had the same ability.

Im a daevilman… Lyro raised a fist to his widening eyes, seeing only a balled shadow in the dark of his cover. ”I can get stronger…! ” After a life of being poor, pathetic, and powerless, this seemed like the first blessing hed ever received. Ironic, since it hadn come from any god.

Lyro was blessed by a daevil.

The drab dullness around him seemed to brighten even as night swallowed the Outskirts, but the image of him going up against monsters still looked ridiculous inside his mind.

Its either that or death… And Lyro had much to do before drawing his final breath. So he stepped out from hiding, picking up a jagged length of rusted metal, and neared the gangster and the five thugs surrounding him. Time to get stronger.

”I told you we were going to have lots of fun! ” Mezlok laughed.

”By the way, ” Lyro asked curiously. ”Why him? ”

”Are you blind? He is possessed by a daemon, why else? ”

Lyro froze. ”You
e telling that now! ”

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