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Chapter 10

I got woken by the sound of whispering outside. I looked out the window. The rain stopped and the sky was dark with a new moon. Outside the house, I noticed people wearing black robes. Around their neck, they wore, what looked like, a pentagram. Each of them held a torch as they murmured inaudible words. They dropped silvery powder as they circled the house with slow steps.

I kept myself hidden behind a torn curtain as I observed them. There were about twenty people surrounding the house. It looks like these people are part of a cult or something. What are they doing here?

Suddenly, the people made their way to the front of the house. I tiptoed my way to the front door, peering out through another window. They were all now holding their torches high in the air. And then, one after another, they began throwing their wooden torches at the house, lighting it ablaze. Some of the torches crashed through the windows and landed on the floor beside me. I cried out as I quickly rushed to the back of the house. I used the end of my cloak to help cover my nose and mouth to not inhale too much smoke. Despite the house being recently rained on, the fire spread throughout the house quickly. Without hesitation, I jumped through the glass window in the bedroom, landing on my feet outside. The glass shattered into pieces on to the forest floor. My body convulsed into a fit of coughs as I ridded the smoke from my lungs and gasped for fresh air.

"Who goes there?" called out one of the cultists. The entire group ran to where I had jumped through. They all stood in spot, staring at me while the house burned.

I regained my composure and stood in a proper posture. "What the hell do you think you people are doing?" I asked, trying to sound menacing.

One of the members stepped forward from the group and got down on one knee in front of me. He was most likely the leader of this cult group. He had a head of short, well-kept, burgundy-brown hair. His skin was tanned, similar to the color of honey.

I could only look at the man in confusion.

"We've done it," he spoke, "we're summoned a demon, everyone!" he shouted with joy.

"Excuse me?"

"Your hair is darker than the night. Your eyes glow with ferocity. And you beauty is beyond this world. And I can feel it--a powerful aura coming from you."

I looked at the man in surprise. Is he just some stupid human interested in the occult? Or is this a human who has a type of 'sixth sense' where he is aware of the surrounding magic, but is unable to use it himself. "What do you want from me?" I asked, deciding to play along with their farce.

The man bowed his head down to the ground. "Allow us to be your followers."

I eyed the man and his entire group. What kind of people are you that you want to follow a demon? "Well, if you want to become my follower, I require something of you."

"We're willing to give up one of our own as a sacrifice if that pleases you," he said eagerly.

I thought momentarily. "I require something of mine. It's been lost."

"What is this item?"

"A sword. A black sword with gold. It was last in a large field around the Kingdom of Animus."

The man looked at me in confusion, as to why a demon required a sword. But he decided not to question me. "I will have my people search for it."

I nodded, satisfied.

"In the meantime, please come with us."

It doesn't look like they're going to let me roam about since they think I'm a demon they just summoned. Though I'm not really not a demon. "Alright, let's go," I spoke as I pulled my hood on so it covered my face into the shadows of the cloak's hood.

We travelled into town of Animus. Since it was the middle of the night, there were no townspeople roaming about. Everyone was asleep. Only the street lanterns lit the roads. Once we reached the town square, everyone began going their separate ways as they returned to their homes.

"Please follow me," spoke the leader. I followed him towards an area close to the castle. The homes and mansions nearest to the castle were usually owned by high-class aristocrats.

"You're an upper-class man?" I asked curiously.

"Yes, though my fortune is still small compared to many who live in this area."

"And despite your fortune, you've invested your time with the occult."

The man chuckled. "Yes, I've been fascinated with the occult since my childhood. Anyways, please come in," he spoke as he opened the door to his small mansion.

Despite the man being interested with the occult, his home appeared quite normal. There were no pentagrams drawn on the walls, no skulls lying on the tables. Everything looked as one would expect of an upper-class' mansion.

"So, do you have a name for yourself, Ms. Demon?"

"It's rude to ask for someone's name before introducing yourself first."

"Ah, of course. My apologies. I am Azir." He took off his robe and bowed to me.

His name sounds foreign. I wonder if he came from another continent. "My name is Stella."

Azir raised an eyebrow."If I recall, the youngest noble of his kingdom is called 'Stella'." He began eyeing me from top to bottom, as if he was analyzing me.

"It's late," I stated, changing the subject."I'm going to rest."

"Of course, please allow me to show you to your room."

I followed Azir up the stairs into the bedroom. He told me there were fresh clothes in the drawers if I wanted to change and an attached bathroom. I thanked him and shut the door. I listened carefully for his softening footsteps, ensuring he wasn't hanging around my room.

I walked over to the windows and pulled open the blinds. There were iron bars on the windows. "Does this guy think iron bars can stop demons?" I decided to ignore the bars and decided to relax for the rest of the night.

I grabbed a change of clothes and prepared a hot bath. I took a long soak in the bath and diligently washed my hair. It's been a long time since I stayed in a house and had a proper bath. I guess I should make the most of it while I'm here.

As I left the bath I let out a long sigh. I didn't have any intention of returning to Animus so soon... I still have to purify the shadows and deal with whatever that stupid lich is planning. If she's summoned an undead dragon lord, it's not so she can play around with it. What does that stupid lich have planned?

Suddenly I began to hear the sounds of air being blown quickly. Something smelt strange in the room. "Urgh...what is this smell?" I started to feel dizzy. My body swayed back and forth. My legs wobbled towards the bed and I flopped forward, landing on the soft mattress. My body felt heavy and numb. I could barely lift my arms.

Soon, the door to my room opened. Azir walked in, holding a cloth over the lower half of his face. Behind him stood a large, muscled man. The large man approached the bed and threw me over his shoulder.

"W-what...?" I tried to speak.

Azir chuckled. "Finally, I can learn more about demons. However, unfortunately for you, you'll be my very own, living specimen."

Oh my God, this guy is crazy! I attempted to struggle, to escape, but it was difficult for me to muster any strength. I couldn't even focus enough to gather my magic.

"Haha, don't worry," Azir reached his hand to my cheek, “I’ll take very good care of you." Azir walked out of the room, followed by me carried by the muscled man. Azir led us down the stairs to the main floor. Further back in the house, there was a large, iron door, hidden behind a large painting. He unlocked the door and grabbed a small torch that remained at the top of the stairs and led us down. The basement area was chilling. All the walls were made of stones. At the bottom of the stairs lie another door which Azir unlocked. Once the door was opened, I could only stare in horror.

Behind the second door was a single white table. However, there were modifications done to the table. There were leather straps at the sides and bottom end of the table. Beside the white table was a small, wooden cart. On the cart was a wide variety of metal objects. There were small scissors and scalpels and a few tools which were unfamiliar to me.

The large man laid me down on the table and began fastening the straps. I attempted to escape but my struggles were futile. My wrists were strapped down at my sides. And my ankles were secured at the base of the table. I pulled at my restraints but they were secured tightly. Once I was completely tied down, the large man left the basement, shutting the doors behind him.

Azir put on a pair of gloves and picked up a small scalpel. “Now, let’s see what makes you a demon, shall we? Where should I cut first; your stomach, your brain, your heart?” he asked as he slid the scalpel over my chest.

My heart began to race. My breath was more shallow and rapid. I was too panicked to speak Am I going to die here? Am I going to be dissected until there’s nothing left of me?!

He then pointed the scalpel over my face. “I think I’ll start with those beautiful eyes of yours,” he grinned as he approached the gleaming tool.

“NO!” I cried as loud as I could with tears welling in my eyes.

Suddenly the sounds of door slamming open startled the both of us. We both looked at the wide open door. I couldn’t believe my eyes at who was there.

“Who are you? What are you doing in my home?” Azir questioned.

“Azir, you are to be sentenced for judgment by the king’s court for unlawful confinement and kidnapping of a noble,” spoke the knight. Soon after, two other knights hurried into the room and grabbed Azir by the arms and began dragging him away.

“No!” Azir cried, “I didn’t do anything wrong!” His voice began to slowly fade as he was forcefully taken away.

Without hesitation the knight walked up to the table and began unfastening the restraints. “Are you alright?” he asked.

My tears ran down my race in uncontrollable relief. “Nocturne,” was all I could say.

Once Nocturne removed all of my restraints, he immediately grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me up into his arms before I could even attempt to move. “I’m never letting you away from my side ever again,” he murmured into my ear.

Even though I tried to avoid all of the people who were close to me, I still felt such relief. I sobbed loudly in Nocturne’s embrace. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe. Once my sobs were under control I began speaking, “how did you find me?” I asked with my face buried in his chest. I couldn’t bring myself to look him in the eyes.

“One of my knights said he saw a girl with black hair and purple eyes in a nearby forest. I was sure it must have been you. And when I noticed you in town with a shady bunch, I had to follow you. And you’re lucky I did.”

With a swift movement, Nocturne lifted my legs and was now carrying me in his arms. We began leaving the house and made our way through the streets. “W-where are you taking me?” I asked.

“Home,” he replied.

Once we arrived to the castle, Nocturne immediately headed towards the Light manor. He brought me to my room and sat me on my bed. “It’s been a long night for you. We’ll talk more in the morning.”

I didn’t reply. I kept my eyes on the ground until he began walking away. Once I was sure I wouldn’t see his face, I watched his back as he left my room and gently shut the door. I can’t believe I’m back…I quickly shook my head vigorously. There’s a reason why I didn’t come back in the first place; I had to control the shadow magic that was seeping into our world from the underworld. Feeling the strength returning within me, I stood from my bed and made my way to the door and slowly turned the knob.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Nocturne stood at the side of my door. He was keeping guard, making sure that I wouldn’t be running off any time soon. Even as he was right beside me, I still didn’t look up at him. I didn’t know what to say. I had hurt him and abandoned him. I didn’t deserve to be saved by him.

“Are your wounds alright?” I whispered, keeping my eyes on the ground.

“It’s been over three months. I’m fully healed.”

Slowly, I shut the door and leaned my back against it as I slid myself down to the floor. “I’m sorry,” I muttered, not sure if he heard me. There were so many things I was sorry for yet I was too much of a coward to apologize to his face.

There was a moment of silence. Then finally, Nocturne replied, “I know.”

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