Dear Not Cunning Witch - Chapter 4.1
Only the sound of dripping blood continued within the silence. Diana was nervous as she glared at the other side. A seat in a cabin in the corner of the passenger car where the moonlight didn’t reach. That was where the sound of dripping blood was coming from.
The passenger car was quiet —she could not even hear any footsteps, much less the gunshots that had been raising a racket earlier. She could not feel anyone’s presence around her —had all the other passengers escaped? Even the wizard had left, and Diana was fretfully guarding her seat while startling at even the sounds of her own breathing.
But she was not alone. She had initially thought that the noise, which she had started hearing at some point, was simply water leaking down from the ceiling, but she had been mistaken. Diana, who had been staring out at the bright moonlight outside the window with nothing better to do when she suddenly turned around had nearly fainted on the spot. The water had patiently made it all the way to her feet at some point. And it was blood.
She had been absorbed in figuring out what was going on across the aisle ever since. It was too dark to actually see anything, but she felt like she could maybe hear some faint groaning. Diana was on the verge of tears. It would have been even a little better if she could at least move freely, but her arms were tied firmly to the armrests of her seat.
Carefully, she spoke up.
She had whispered as quietly as she could, but it sounded like a thunderous roar in her ears. Diana immediately startled and quickly looked toward the closed doors on either side. But just as she had mustered some courage and was about to try her luck again.
“……So like I was saying, you…….”
A quiet voice suddenly buzzed by her. She naturally grew frightened again when she heard the mixed footsteps and unfamiliar voices coming closer.
The passenger car door was slammed open. The first person to walk inside was the robed wizard, who was quickly followed by a masked assailant.
“We don’t have any more members left. We must escape before it’s too late!”
His voice was terrifying, like the sound of steel grating against steel. Diana instinctively realized that the assailant was the very same man who had been talking about the Ingram Armed Revolutionary Army previously.
“For how much longer do you intend to whine like a child, Morgan? I’m just saying that we should wait and see for now.”
“That’s all that you’ve been saying! Please explain to me just how long you intend to wait!”
The assailant was indignant. But the wizard simply ignored him and made his way over to Diana. Diana reflexively shrank into herself, but his destination had been on the opposite side of the aisle from her. It seemed like he was studying whoever it was that had been sitting there.
“Shit. Stop ignoring me and answer the damn…….”
The assailant’s words were cut off. Diana had suddenly turned around and had immediately frozen up. The assailant was glaring directly at her. He continued,
“……Who’s that girl?”
Flatly, the wizard answered,
“Oh, she’s a witch.”
“A witch? Why is there a witch here……?”
“Don’t worry about pointless things. She’s nothing important.”
“How is a witch nothing important?! You murdered all the soldiers without exception, so why are you letting this witch live?!”
“Well, she truly is nothing important. She’s used up all her magic and won’t be able to cast any spells for some time. So she’s nothing more than an ordinary wench,”
the wizard replied irritably. The assailant stopped arguing about the matter, but his gaze was still frigid as he glowered at Diana. Diana broke out in a cold sweat as she slyly avoided his gaze.
The wizard prodded the soldier, who was sprawled out on the seat, with his foot. The soldier groaned and cracked open his bleary eyes.
“Are you awake?”
“What, are you still sleepy?”
the wizard asked as he squeezed the soldier’s shoulder. The soldier’s unclear eyes immediately widened. He began screaming as the wizard twisted his shoulder, which had already been torn to tatters. The wizard continued,
“Still perfectly fine, I see. Have you sobered up a bit?”
It was only then that he let go of the soldier’s shoulder. The soldier took a ragged breath.
“They’re all dead, and you’re the only one left.”
“Then kill me too……,”
the soldier replied grimly. The wizard began mocking him.
“No need to worry —you’ll be meeting your comrades soon enough. But first, there was something I’ve been curious about.”
The wizard brought his face down before the soldier’s eyes. His eyes were glowing a dangerous red from beneath his black robes. He continued,
“Who on earth did you bring with you?”
“W-what are you……?”
“I already know everything, so stop feigning ignorance. Who else did you bring with you besides Hugo Alpheus?”
The assailant startled.
“There’s another wizard besides Hugo Alpheus here?”
“Yes. And no ordinary wizard either, considering he was able to cast spells remotely,”
the wizard mumbled with no expression on his face. The soldier, who’s visage had crumpled up in pain, suddenly burst out in laughter. There were words hiding between his laughs.
“You’re……finished now. You won’t ever make it back alive…….”
“He must be rather famous, I take it? What’s his name?”
“You’re done for…….”
“Hey, your ears are still working, yes? I asked you what his name was.”
But the soldier didn’t reply. His closed his mouth and glared directly back at the wizard with the light of spite in his eyes. Then, the wizard reached out for the assailant without another word. The assailant handed him his rifle in disbelief.
The wizard pointed the rifle at the soldier’s head. But the soldier never even wavered. The corners of the wizard’s lips curled up —he had expected this— as he brought the gun down against the soldier’s shoulder. The solid barrel of the rifle dug into the wound on the soldier’s shoulder in no time at all.
the soldier screamed. Diana huddled into herself and shivered. The desperate screaming and the cruel and muddy sound of the gun digging into the soldier’s wound beat at her ears.
“Hester! Hester Sol!”
Ultimately, a name poured out from the soldier’s lips. The wizard pulled the trigger without any lingering regrets. The booming gunshot shattered the silence inside the train. The soldier died instantly.
Then, the wizard asked,
“Who’s Hester Sol?”
“You don’t know? She’s Hester Sol,”
the assailant quickly asked back.
“She must be rather young if I don’t know of her.”
“She is. But that’s not important. She’s one of the most famous witches in Ingram these days. Everyone in Ingram has heard about the Constellation Witch……. Do you really not know of her?”
“Why would I ask if I did? Just who is she that you’re making such a fuss about her?”
the wizard asked as he indifferent handed the rifle back to the assailant. Absentmindedly, the assailant muttered,
“……But she’s the daughter of the famous Griselda Sol.”
“What? Griselda Sol had a daughter?”
“I hear that she’s inherited her mother’s talent. Griselda Sol is dead, but the masses have been saying that Ingram was blessed with eternal glory because Hester Sol is still here.”
“Dead? Who? Griselda Sol is dead?”
the wizard asked back blankly. The assailant made an astringent face.
“……Did you not even know that Griselda Sol was dead?”
The wizard looked remarkably bewildered as he slowly sat down. His gigantic frame, as large as a bear, sagged in sullenness.
“I had wanted to ask that woman for a duel when I finally broke out…….”
“W-well, Griselda Sol’s daughter is still here. And you’ll be able to face Hester Sol soon.”
The dispirited wizard slowly nodded back. The assailant was happy to see that the wizard had quickly regained his vigor.
“All right. First things first,”
the wizard consoled himself as he stood back up. Then, he immediately turned his gaze toward Diana. He asked,
“So what’s your name, little miss?”
Diana gulped. She may have been ignorant to the ways of the world, but she did know that she mustn’t disclose her real name. The rest of the world thought that Hester Sol was the only daughter of the great witch Griselda Sol, and it would be stupid of her to simply tell the wizard the truth.
Luckily, Diana was decently good at lying.
“My name is Diana Talbott.”
Her tender voice permeated through the silence so still that Diana thought it was gouging into her flesh. The wizard tilted his head to the side.
“Talbott? I’ve never heard of that house before.”
Of course he hadn’t. Talbott was the surname that Diana had taken from Bianca Goldworthy’s “Madam Talbott” series. Diana quietly thanked Oliver for telling her about the strange novel’s title. Not that Oliver could really sympathize, of course, if her sister truly did enjoy popular novels.
“My parents weren’t wizards.”
“Wait. Were you born prematurely?”
“Yes. But in Ingram, people like me are referred to as mutants.”
Diana did her best to hide how nervous she was. Thankfully, the wizard did not seem to doubt what she was saying.
“Then who’s your teacher?”
One always declared the name of their teacher when introducing themselves in the world of magic. People might forget the individual’s name, but the name of their teacher was a slightly different story. A teacher needed to be of at least some repute before they could take in an apprentice. Diana’s lies could be uncovered in an instant if she put forth any random name as her teacher.
Diana clenched her hands, moistened by cold sweat, as she slyly looked up at the wizard. She could not see him very well because of his black robes, but she could plainly feel his gaze as he observed her. Ultimately, Diana did not know what else she could do but say,
“Barbara Jiles. My teacher.”
A new expression suddenly crossed the unenthusiastic wizard’s visage.
“Barbara Jiles? You mean the Witch of Dawn?”
“Yes. She’s the head of House Jiles. I’m aware that I’m not deserving of such a distinguished teacher,”
Diana replied weakly.
“Why would Barbara Jiles take in someone premature like you as her apprentice?”
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask her yourself.”
“You don’t know?”
“She was probably just being charitable on a whim, like when she gives beggars money. That, or she decided to make a game of challenging the impossible when she was younger,”
Diana replied gloomily. The wizard, who had been listening to her quietly, laughed out loud.
“You say such interesting things for such a young child. But looking at you makes me wonder if your teacher, the Witch of Dawn, is finally starting to lose her light.”
“Isn’t that why some things are just impossible? My teacher might be an outstanding witch, but even she can’t make the impossible possible.”
The wizard stared quietly back at her. Diana turned away as his staring became persistent.
“So Barbara Jiles took on a premature child as her apprentice. Can you swear that on your birth star, little miss?”
Swearing something on one’s birth star was akin to swearing that everything you said was true. It was only natural that swearing on a star was a sign of truthfulness, as wizards must always be sincere to the stars who granted them magic.
“……I swear upon the light of Callisto that I have not lied.”
But Diana had no other choice at the moment.
She begged her star for forgiveness as she swore to it. Callisto had never given her the same kind of powers that the greater stars could, but Diana would never have been able to step foot inside the world of magic to begin with if she didn’t even have what little Callisto gave her. She earnestly hoped that the heavens would take her perilous situation into account and overlook the fact that she had lied.
“Your birth star is Callisto, the Star of Darkness?”
The wizard was astonished. Sadly, Diana was rather accustomed to this question.
“You must be the unluckiest of all our brethren I’ve met thus far. How on earth did you manage to get blessed by that star……?”
He clicked his tongue in sincere pity. Diana could only laugh as her enemy unexpectedly poured his pity on her. Her star was amazing —it had even made a cold-blooded killer feel pity for her.
The assailant, who had been watching over them from afar, irritably asked,
“You’re not going to kill the witch?”
Diana flinched. Apathetically, the wizard tilted his head to the side and asked,
“Why would I?”
“What do you mean why? Isn’t she a witch?”
“Do I have to? —she can’t even use magic right now.”
“But who knows when her magic will come back?”
the assailant sharply shot back. The wizard smirked as he waved his hand.
“Oh, come on. Her birth star is the Star of Darkness.”
“What does that have to do with anything? It doesn’t change the fact that she’s a witch.”
“You’re only saying that because you don’t know. This little girl is the smallest of small fry. Besides, I dislike killing my brethren over trivial things like this.”
The assailant looked incredulous when the wizard replied.
“Haven’t you murdered your brethren in the name of dueling them or whatnot? —and so many that I’ve lost count. Is it only now, after you killed so many of your brethren, that you finally realized they were precious to you?”
“……Enough, Morgan. The reason why I don’t want to kill this kid is because she isn’t even worth killing. I fight those who are worth fighting, and I only kill those who are worth killing.”
The wizard growled like a beast. Then, he looked chagrined as he turned to Diana and continued,
“It’ll be for the best that you don’t cross me, kid. I normally only kill those who I think are worth killing, but I do find crushing ants beneath my feet entertaining from time to time.”
The wizard who had pitied the unfortunate witch just earlier had vanished. His chilling red eyes were filled with bloodlust. Diana was flush with fear as she nodded back, unable to do anything else.
* * *
Valdivia, the Winter Star, had returned to its slumber, and the unseasonable north wind had faded into the night. But the insides of the command tent were still locked in an ice-cold winter.
Hester muttered with her face frozen stiff.
“I’m not fully certain yet, but it’s highly likely that the enemy wizard is Niolo Pagliacci.”
“What nonsense……. Did he say that’s who he was?”
Her tone was uncharacteristically sharp. With unchanging composure, Hugo replied,
“I am told that crosses were tattooed on the wizard’s body. There aren’t many wizards who were born under Muzetta and have crosses tattooed on their bodies, no? Are I’m sure you’re also aware, my lady, Niolo Pagliacci was born under Muzetta, the Inverse Star, and he is a powerful wizard who was imprisoned in Gwaltiello Velli. It makes sense that he had crosses on his body and that he was able to stand against dozens of soldiers all on his own.”
“But this is still Gwaltiello Velli we’re talking about. It’s a natural prison that has never once been breached in its entire history. It doesn’t matter how skilled the wizard is —how could he escape such a heavily guarded place when he couldn’t even use magic? Besides, Gwaltiello Velli has yet to announce that a criminal has broken free.”
“The witness claims he had red eyes.”
It was only then that the look on Hester’s face, once as firm as an impregnable fortress, became blank and crumbled.
“……I’ll try contacting Gwaltiello Velli for now.”
Her voice was labored, as if she had forced it through her throat. Hester sat down at her seat and busily began scribbling letters when Colonel Oxley grew puzzled and asked Hugo,
“Did you figure out who the enemy wizard is? Who is Niolo Pagliacci?”
“Ah, right, you wouldn’t know, Colonel.”
Candidly, Hugo continued,
“He’s a man who murdered about fifteen of our innocent brethren in the name of dueling some fifteen years ago. He’s a direct descendant of Pagliacci, so it was big news at the time. He should have been serving a life sentence in Gwaltiello Velli, so I have no idea how he managed to get out.”
“Is he that dangerous?”
“I’m told that he particularly enjoyed destructive magic, but there’s another reason why Niolo Pagliacci is so infamous.”
Hester was scanning over an unfamiliar map of the South as she looked up Gwaltiello Velli’s coordinates. Wizards normally exchanged letters by carrier pigeon or through the post office because the world of magic customarily held that not bothering the lives of others was a virtue, but she did not have the time to spare right now.
Hugo, too, made no move to stop her. Instead, he stared at the flickering candlelight and quietly said,
“Rumors say that he’s summoned a demon before.”
The strangely bleak term made Colonel Oxley frown.
“By demon, are you referring to the angel who betrayed the goddess in the Book of Rob?”
“That is nothing but a story from the scriptures. I am referring to an actual living creature.”
“Then, are you saying that demons are real?”
Hugo nodded back in nonchalance.
“Demons have existed for a very long time. Mankind simply called them demons because we fear their unimaginable power.”
“Where are they now? Is there one with us here?”
“Do you really think we’d be able to find one so easily? Demons have been considered as taboo for so long that I don’t know much about them either. However, the stories say that they live in a dark world where the starlight cannot reach.”
The demons were one of the reasons why the Church of Santigma and the world of magic had been hostile to each other for so long. Unlike wizards, who were generally indifferent to the outside world, it was said that demons harbored malicious intent against humans and would harm people as readily and as easily as waving a hand. Each country had at least one old wives’ tale about how a foolish witch had summoned a demon that wiped an entire city off the map just for fun.
It wasn’t unreasonable to see why demonology had become taboo after the Millennium War was over, especially considering how frightening demons were. Unlike regular people, who regarded demons simply as monsters from the scriptures, young witches and wizards were warned against demons so constantly that the warnings were practically nailed to their ears. That being said, it wasn’t as if there was much known about the demons to begin with. Teachers taught their disciples to fear demons, and nothing else.
“There is a popular saying that claims that those who had contracted a demon will have their eyes turn red. I’ve heard that Niolo Pagliacci’s eyes were, in fact, red when he was transported to Gwaltiello Velli, but I cannot say much more on the matter because I have not seen his eyes myself.”
Colonel Oxley was pallid as he nodded. The colonel had lived a very ordinary life, and the things Hugo was telling him were terrifying to him.
Then, Hester quietly got up from her seat.
“I’ve sent a letter to Gwaltiello Velli for now. But if Niolo Pagliacci truly has escaped…….”
She could not bring herself to finish her sentence. She covered her face with her hands in exhaustion as she hopelessly continued,
“It cannot be Niolo Pagliacci. Anyone but him. My sister, Diana, is an ordinary witch. She is not strong enough to stand against him.”
Half of her heart wanted to blindly rush inside the train, while the other half wanted to calm down and draw up another plan. Half of her heart was determined to find Niolo Pagliacci and plead with him to return her sister to safety, while the other half was rearing its head in resentment at herself for not going to bring Diana to Wokingham in person. Herrace labored just to keep her heart from breaking in two.
Slowly, Hugo asked,
“Do you believe your sister is dead?”
The blood drained from Hester’s face. In his unchangingly monotonous voice, Hugo continued,
“Indeed. It’s possible that she is. Why would he take pity on the young witch when he has already mercilessly slaughtered our brethren previously? But it’s also possible that she is still alive.”
He began to organize the maps that were lying messily on the table. His voice grew clearer as the table grew tidier.
“I am not suggesting that you should hope in vain. But, in the possible event that your sister is still alive, you must not allow yourself to crumble first, my lady. I am not able to use magic at the moment, as you are well aware, and it will take too long to summon another wizard here. You are the only person who is capable of breaking through this situation at present, as well as the only person capable of standing against Niolo Pagliacci and rescuing your sister.”
Nonchalantly, he turned back to Hester and continued,
“But you are in such a mess right now that even I felt the need to speak up about it, my lady. Please, pull yourself together. Or do you simply wish to hear things like this from me?”
Wizards generally couldn’t have cared any less even if people dropped dead right in their front yards. It was quite rare for someone like Hugo Alpheus, who was not very different from most other wizards, to go out of his way to say something like this.
Hester nodded back in a daze. She still looked like an utter wreck, but some of the brilliance was beginning to return to her grief-filled eyes.
Hugo sighed and looked up at the night sky. He was not the best at astronomy, but even he could guess where most things were situated in the heavens. His blue eyes searched instinctively for his birth star before he suddenly stopped and said,
“……It looks like winter has ended.”
Valdivia, the Winter Star that had woken briefly from its summer slumber, had gone back to sleep, and the sudden winter that had frozen over the late spring had disappeared. The warmth only made the camp more anxious as it regained its rightful place.
* * *
Inside one of the train’s passenger cars.
A small flame suddenly lit up the heavy darkness. The flame, which had been the size of a fingernail, grew to the size of a newborn’s head. The wizard’s lips curled up into a smile as the bleak light of the flame oversaw the entire car.
“……Looks like that damned winter is finally over.”
The warmth of late spring spread across the world once more now that the frigid northern winds had left. Diana looked up at the sky outside the window. The once-frozen Summer Star, Orphedellè, had regained its brilliance, so, while Morgan was none the wiser, the wizard’s star had probably thawed as well.
Meanwhile, the wizard and the assailant continued their leisurely exchange.
“Can you use magic now?”
“Yes. Looks like it’s finally thawed. It’s a good thing that the winter was shorter than I’d expected —they nearly had me because I wasn’t being careful.”
“In any case, that’s a relief. But there’s still a problem……. I only have a map of Ingram and a map of our border with Banzè with me right now. It’s not easy to get your hands on a map of another country, as you should already know.”
“A map? Why a map all of a sudden?”
The assailant, who had been rummaging through his things in a hurry, stopped working and looked up at the wizard.
“……Aren’t we going to retreat?”
“You said similar nonsense earlier too. You still haven’t cast aside your lingering regrets?”
The wizard snorted. Rage flared in the assailant’s eyes for a moment.
“All of my comrades died! While you fell for the Ingram wizards’ trick and couldn’t do a single thing! Didn’t you say that you were going to massacre the enemy army?! Is this what you call a massacre?! We’re the ones who were wiped out!”
“I said that I would massacre the Ingram military —I don’t recall promising that I’d protect you,”
The wizard replied coolly. He continued,
“Besides, Morgan, shouldn’t you resolve yourself to get revenge for your comrades if you truly cared about them? But look at you now. Aren’t you trying to sponge off me because you don’t have the courage to run away alone?”
“Revenge? Did you just say revenge right now? Our goal was never petty revenge. Our goal is to overturn Ingram and win independence for Tutel! How could I possibly accomplish our goal if I stayed here and killed a few more soldiers in the name of revenge? The best way to honor my comrades who fell today is to retreat for now and prepare for the future. Don’t besmirch their noble sacrifices with something petty like revenge,”
the assailant retorted as if he was spitting blood. The wizard narrowed his eyes and turned away from the assailant.
“Then I will stay here and enjoy myself for a little longer. Hugo Alpheus and Hester Sol humiliated me today, and I won’t be at ease until I’ve managed to kill at least one of them.”
“If you want to run away, then go. I won’t stop you.”
The assailant urgently grabbed the wizard by his shoulders. Slowly, the wizard turned back around.
“Morgan. You’re a pretty decent man for a normal person. So get out of my sight while I’m still being nice.”
His voice was frigid and suggested that he wasn’t unwilling to kill the assailant right this instant. The assailant was overwhelmed by the force of the wizard’s words and could not find it in himself to respond. A terror that he hadn’t felt even as he was facing off against the Ingram military was crawling through his entire being.
But a delicate voice pierced through the chaotic silence just then.
“Hester Sol is a much more powerful witch than you think she is.”
The wizard and the assailant both turned around at the same time. Diana, who had been deathly silent until now, was looking back at them. She continued,
“Hester Sol is so powerful and famous that even a weakling like me knows about her. Did you know that her birth star is Dulcinea, the King of Stars? She was the youngest person to ever write her name in the White Hall, and people are openly talking about whether she’ll be the next chairperson of the Ingram Magic Society. Won’t you need to plan thoroughly if you plan to fight her and walk away unharmed? You knew that Hugo Alpheus was here in Penzas, but you never expected Hester Sol to be here too.”
It was not a secret that Hugo Alpheus lived in Penzas. Even Oliver Fenley, a normal businessman, had known about this, so there was no reason why the people planning to hijack the train wouldn’t have known too. Which meant that hijacking the train ‘in Penzas, where Hugo Alpheus lives,’ had always been a part of their plan. It was currently late spring, when Valdivia, the Winter Star, was asleep. It had been a clever choice.
But what about Hester Sol? They probably hadn’t imagined that the witch who lived in Wokingham would be visiting Penzas or that she would go out of her way to travel to Penzas. Especially considering that wizards were people who would only travel, with extreme reluctance, on the king’s personal orders.
This meant that Hester Sol had completely ruined their plan. Just like how neither Diana, Oliver, nor the Ingram military had been able to predict the existence of the unidentified wizard. She continued,
“Get out of here. The nearest observatory from here is probably in Wokingham, and it’ll take some time before they trace you if you teleport away. If you teleport multiple times and cross the border in the meanwhile, then Ingram probably won’t be able to find you. Isn’t it more advantageous for you to withdraw for now and plan for the future, and to kill Hester Sol or Hugo Alpheus at some later date?”
Diana ended on a clear note. Her expression was nonchalant without a trace of anxiety to be seen, but her hands, hidden by her seat, were trembling pitifully. Now, all Diana could do was wait endlessly for the wizard to reply while sitting in the terrible silence that she felt would crush her any moment now.
“……You want me to flee?”
The wizard spoke shortly thereafter. He continued,
“I already fled and found myself here, so where else would I run to?”
Diana’s visage stiffened. The wizard smirked.
“Now that I think about it, you must not know who I am, little miss.”
He slowly began walking over to her. Thud thud. The rhythmical sound of his footsteps echoing against the floor quickly turned into the dreadful sound of ripples shaking across the puddle of blood.
He walked up to Diana and smiled, frightening her.
“My name is Niolo Pagliacci. But it’s been so long since I last stepped out into the world that I can’t say if you know who I am, little miss.”
Niolo Pagliacci. A newer noble of Messina, and a direct descendant of <Noble Pagliacci>. He had been ostracized by the world of magic for having been born under Muzetta, the Inverse Star, and it was said that even his own house had found it difficult to deal with his temperament because he had grown more brutal by the day. Ultimately, the Three Central Kingdoms had come together to judge him for his evildoings, and great witches and wizards from all three nations had gathered and unanimously sentenced him for life. It had been over a decade since Niolo Pagliacci had been imprisoned in Gwaltiello Velli.
Diana looked up at him in shock. It was only then that her vaguely concealed anxiety made itself seen. The crosses tattooed on his wrists. His exceptionally violent personality. The strange way he carried himself, as if he was accustomed to combat.
And most of all, the ominous glow of his crimson eyes.
“The Wizard of Flames……,”
Diana mumbled to herself. Intrigued, Niolo Pagliacci replied,
“It’s been a while since anyone’s called me that. It’s probably even been erased from the Encyclopedia of Names. Did Barbara Jiles tell you about me?”
He placed his hand on Diana’s head as he spoke. Her tiny head, small enough to fit in his hand, was quivering. Niolo Pagliacci roughly tussled her crimson hair. He continued,
“I don’t take pleasure in killing people as young as you are. When it comes to my brethren, I only kill those who are a match for me. And who knows? —you might grow up to be an outstanding witch one day, kid. I don’t want to rip out that possibility from its roots. I have to leave it be so I can enjoy it in the future. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Niolo still looked amused as he took his hand away. He was only interested in people who were ‘worth killing.’
“Keep quiet from now on if you want to keep your life. And don’t do anything pointless like you tried just—”
“Is it true that you summoned a demon?”
Niolo was suddenly cut off by a chipper voice. He scowled and asked back,
“Did you really summon a demon before?”
Diana asked again as she slowly raised her head. Her fear-filled grey eyes glistened in the light.
Indifferently, Niolo replied,
“Yes. My eyes turned crimson after I saw it.”
The blood immediately drained from Diana’s face. Her tiny face became a maelstrom of unfathomable emotions like tremendous fear and anxiety.
Niolo snorted as he turned away. After the compromise with the Church of Santigma, countless teachers had instilled an adamantine fear of demons in their disciples. All so that the forbidden art of demonology could never be resurrected, so that no demons could ever step foot in the world ever again. But he could not have cared any less about how the young witch before him had been educated.
He slowly walked away. The fire obediently trailed behind him, and Diana was left inside the darkness alone.