Episode 171

Demodras (3)
1 week ago
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The embrace ended more quickly than expected. Shiron slowly walked into the open arms…

Boom-

And that was the end.

“It’s bland.”

Compared to the swirling emotions, the process was infinitely plain. No, those emotions gradually became calmer too. Was it an attempt to maintain a certain equilibrium? But if that was the assumption, it didn’t explain the heart that had settled into calmness.

However, one thing was clear even in the midst of understanding these complex emotions. The human form that Demodras had taken on had a… quite sticky relationship with the person in front of him.

“Thank you.”

Shiron said quietly, touching his flushed face. Demodras, intrigued by his youthful appearance, lifted one corner of his mouth.

“What are you thanking me for?”

“For accepting my request… Thank you.”

“Well. Honestly, it didn’t matter whether I listened or not. Then, it’s logically right to listen.”

“…”

“Did you find it unexpected?”

“No, not really.”

Shiron shook his head, feeling more at ease. The Fervent Dragon Demodras. A dragon that had killed as many allied forces as the One-Horned Yuma in the past, and a wicked dragon that couldn’t forget the grudges of the past, causing earthquakes strong enough to crumble mountains.

Therefore, Shiron felt no guilt in wanting to kill Demodras. It seemed inevitable that harm would come someday since its essence was evil.

However, the Demodras standing in front of him was clearly different from the one Shiron knew.

“You’ve had a change of heart. Whatever the reason, what’s important to me is now.”

“Aren’t you going to ask why?”

“I’m curious, but it feels like asking will only bring unnecessary attachments.”

A moment ago, the word ‘angel’ that slipped out of Demodras’s mouth. Shiron could guess who the person who visited this place 500 years ago was.

‘Yura. Yura must have been here.’

Shiron lowered his gaze to Latera. The little angel, who had been silent for a while, was now blushing and fidgeting.

“Yura has changed a lot of things.”

“And, even if I heard why you’ve changed, it wouldn’t change anything, right? You’re a person generous enough to give your heart to someone who almost killed you. Plus, you listened to a favor.”

“I’m not a person but a dragon.”

“Regardless.”

“You… have developed quite a fondness for me.”

“I will make sure to repay my debts.”

“Is that so…”

Demodras, considering Shiron’s words, stroked his chin as if pondering. Then, as if he had thought of something amusing, he chuckled and suddenly took off his coat.

“What are you doing?”

“I suddenly don’t want to give you my heart anymore.”

“What?”

What nonsense? Shiron widened his eyes in shock. Latera, blushing at his side, lit up with hostility in her eyes.

“Oh! Changing your words now?”

“Don’t misunderstand, half-angel. The talk of repaying debts got me unnecessarily hopeful.”

“…”

“I don’t want to give it but make a contract to lend it for a while.”

Demodras finished speaking and then created a black blade. The blade, filled with tremendous power, pierced through the white chest, spewing a sticky, dark liquid.

Demodras inserted his hand into the dark crevice, stirred it a few times, and then pulled out a clenched fist.

The pain of having an organ extracted raw contorted his face, and Demodras extended a mass that was contracting and relaxing.

“A contract? But is that really a heart? It looks more like…”

“Isn’t it beautiful? Like a gem.”

Expanding and contracting, wriggling here and there, the black gem… Shiron watched Demodras’s hand with curiosity-filled eyes.

“I’d like to show you more, but we’re short on time. Now that I’ve extracted the heart, I can only stay in human form for about three more hours. I must transplant it before then.”

“Wait, what’s this leasing contract? Shouldn’t you explain that before extracting the heart?”

“I’m not giving it to you for life but lending it for a set period.”

‘Time attack again…’

Shiron was aware of the devil’s mark etched on his heel—a chilling contract stipulating that if he failed to kill the demon within a set time, it would take his eyes and arms.

“How many years…”

“You reek strongly of demons. You must have made a contract using your soul or a part of your body as a medium. I don’t want my heart to end up in the hands of demons, so I’ll lend it for a shorter period.”

“…Make it 20 years.”

“Yes, come back here in 20 years to return the heart.”

Demodras smiled satisfactorily and nodded. For dragons, 20 years would pass like a few nights’ sleep—a mere blink of an eye compared to human lifespans. But Demodras wanted more from Shiron.

“And, to find a living dragon together.”

“Are all dragons not extinct?”

“Not extinct. Am I not shamelessly alive here?”

“You could be the only dragon left.”

“We’ll think about that later. There will be a way then.”

“…”

“If we’re done talking, take off your shirt quickly. We’re already running late.”

At Demodras’s command, Shiron quickly stripped off his shirt. Although the cold was enough to frost his breath, Shiron only felt a slight chill.

“Turn around, it’ll sting a bit.”

Thud-

“Hm?”

“Why again?”

“You…”

Demodras frowned, looking at the back where not a single drop of blood was drawn. Despite putting all his strength into inserting the heart, Shiron’s skin, as if it were a formless monster, swallowed the heart without any resistance.

Be it slime, homunculus, or a chimera with similar traits, Demodras couldn’t figure out what this human had done to his body.

“…It’s done. That’s not important.”

“What a letdown.”

“It’s done, so try checking it.”

At the sarcastic remark, Shiron clicked his tongue and closed his eyes. Indeed, he felt a foreign sensation in his chest that hadn’t been there before.

But it wasn’t unpleasant. As if clearing a blocked channel, a refreshing sensation spread throughout his body, relieving muscle soreness.

“Somewhat… refreshing.”

“Is that all? Try casting a spell.”

Yes, magic. The long-awaited experience in this fantastical world he had yet to try. He needed to see if he could actually use magic now.

But there was a problem he hadn’t considered. Shiron pointed his finger into the air, exerting force, then turned to Demodras.

“What’s wrong? Did something happen?”

“How do you cast magic?”

“To think you tried to kill me without any plan.”

“Who says I had no plan? Even if the transplant is one thing, I can learn magic from Seira.”

“Who is Seira?”

“Only the greatest magician in the world.”

“Never heard such a name.”

Demodras scoffed at Shiron.

“There’s no need to lie out of embarrassment.”

“She exists! She’s under a curse that makes people forget about her…”

“It’s okay. Mortals always make mistakes. It’s foolish for mortals to lie to escape immediate crises.”

“I’m not lying, really.”

“The claim of being the greatest magician is suspicious. Honestly, it’s a bit offensive.”

Demodras felt an old ember in his heart flare up.

“I’m alive and well, yet you claim to be the greatest magician? Such arrogance from a frog in a well.”

“You can’t use magic now, can you? So, not the greatest at the moment.”

“When you come to return the heart, bring this Seira or whatever.”

“Fine, let them settle it then.”

“First, I’ll teach you a simple incantation.”

Demodras cleared his throat and grasped Shiron’s hand.

“Start by feeling the mana lingering at your fingertips and voicing the incantation.”

“Do you always need to chant?”

“For those with talent or those who have mastered mana for a long time, chanting becomes unnecessary. They can awaken mana with a simple gesture or specific action. Chanting is just a tool to align mana more closely with the caster’s will.”

If you want to shoot a fireball, imagine it and extract and process the right amount of mana. Demodras’s explanation was easy enough for novice Shiron to understand.

“Follow me, …light that envelops darkness.”

“…light that envelops darkness.”

“Illuminate.”

“Illuminate.”

Whoosh-

As the short chant ended.

A small orb of light bloomed from the fingertips. It didn’t feel warm or holy. The cold light illuminating the darkness was clearly magic, not divine power.

“Magic…”

“Amazing, hero! You succeeded on your first try!”

Latera, as if it were her own achievement, jumped up and down, cheering, and Shiron looked at his fingertips with an ecstatic expression. Compared to the divine power radiated by the holy sword, it was a humble light, but the inability to use mana until now made it overwhelmingly moving.

“The transplant is a success.”

Demodras smiled satisfactorily and patted Shiron’s back. A hero this happy over a simple light magic success. The satisfaction felt oddly gratifying compared to the hostility just moments ago.

There’s a sense of accomplishment in teaching. However, unfortunately, his role as a teacher ends here.

“It’s time for you to go. I need to lock the door.”

“Thank you. I’ll definitely come back.”

“Yes, do come back. Teaching magic to someone else for the first time, I find myself unexpectedly attached.”

But first, stripping away the shadow of death was the priority. Demodras tried to shake off the lingering regret.

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