World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 36: Sometimes, Dealing With Unfinished Business Is An Exercise In Getting Hur
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April 8, 11:44 am, Canberra, Australia
Gadiel was not expecting to be back here so soon. As he stared up at the double doors, he couldn't help but feel that the dragon etched onto it was looking down on him.
"Don't worry," said Tarik, taking his hand. "We got this."
Truthfully, Gadiel would've been fine just not going back to the shop. When Tarik agreed to take a little time to train up their powers before going back, Gadiel had been relieved. He knew it was just delaying the inevitable, but it was just too much right now. He had an essay to turn in.
It also gave him time to try maybe doing some Internet research. Of course, he didn't expect to find anything, and he didn't. Looking up monsters and "Vestiges of the Sun and Moon" only brought up video games and old mythologies. But not the mythologies they were looking for. It was almost as if they didn't exist.
"Or someone wiped all that info clean," said Tarik when Gadiel brought it up. Gadiel had simply rolled his eyes at the time.
On the plus side, Gadiel now had an excuse to see Tarik every day. Sure, they were meeting up to practise using their powers, which okay; Gadiel would admit, was kinda cool (no pun intended). But it didn't really give much time to talk about themselves.
Mostly, it was just Gadiel trying to help Tarik increase his heat and make actual fire. They figured that since Gadiel could manifest ice, Tarik should be able to do the same with fire. From where Gadiel was standing, it looked like Tarik wasn't really able to visualize the heat well.
"I am visializing," Tarik grumbled at one point. They had been practicing for two days at that time, and he had made no improvement.
"Flames, fire, dancing and leaping from my hand." He added in French.
"But how does it feel?" Said Gadiel, also in French. "How does it burn? How does the heat feel against your skin? What does the fire make you feel?"
Tarik frowned, and went quiet.
Moments later, a he snapped his fingers, causing a spark.
"I did it!" Tarik grinned. "Well, I did something!"
"Nice," said Gadiel. "Just keep thinking whatever that was. But more intense."
"Oh, I can do intense," said Tarik flirtily.
Gadiel smiled back. Okay, this was kinda nice.
The problem with Tarik improving though, was that it meant Gadiel had less reasons to stay away from the shop. Which of course, lead to this situation, back at the door, barely a couple weeks since the Shopkeeper Incident.
Gadiel looked up once again at the dragon on the door. He hadn't mentioned it to Tarik, but he'd been having some weird dreams lately. Dreams where he was looking for Tarik in a jungle, while being chased by...something. And as soon as he found Tarik...the something caught up, stabbing him in the chest.
Like the monster had stabbed the shopkeeper.
The shock always woke Gadiel up, and kept him awake for at least an hour every night.
"Ready?" Said Tarik, looking a little concerned. He squeezed Gadiel's hand a little tighter.
Gadiel forced a smile.
"As I'll ever be," he managed to say.
Tarik nodded, and they walked through the double doors together
Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump...
As they descended the stairs, Gadiel's heart rate rose. He kept his breath steady, but couldn't help but squeeze Tarik's hand a little tighter.
"Don't worry Gadiel," said Tarik, without looking back. "This time, I'll protect you."
Gadiel blinked. Tarik wasn't talking in his usual, sarcastic, jokey way. His voice was serious and steady, no hint of any irony. Gadiel had never seen this side of Tarik before.
Tarik must've taken the Shopkeeper Incident just as seriously as him. Maybe even more so.
Just that simple fact put Gadiel at ease. He wasn't alone. Tarik was here with him.
They got this.
Together, they reached the door. Tarik let go of Gadiel's hand, and stepped forward to open the door. Just like last time, it swung open inwards, silently.
"It's gone," Tarik whispered.
Indeed, the monster that had been frozen in place was no longer there. In fact, there was no sign of any sort of battle at all in the small hallway. The only evidence of any sort of struggle at all was the the fallen bookshelves and strewn books in the center of the room.
"It's probably still around," whispered Tarik, moving towards the center. "Hiding."
"Thank you, Captain Obvious," Gadiel whispered back.
Tarik looked at Gadiel quizzically.
"It's an expression," Gadiel explained. "We say it when someone says something everyone already knows."
"I see," mused Tarik. "I guess you must hear it a lot then."
Gadiel fought the urge to playfully hit Tarik, who was grinning like a maniac. This was not the time for joking around.
"Anyway," said Gadiel. "We should probably get the info and leave. Without finding the monster."
Tarik nodded. Then stopped.
"Where do we find the right book?" He asked.
Gadiel stared back at Tarik.
"I thought you knew?"
"The red book didn't say anything about a sequel on monsters," said Tarik dryly.
"Well..." Gadiel started to say something but trailed off.
"Try...the Dewey Decimal System?" He suggested.
"Does that have a section for monsters?" Said Tarik. "Does this library even use that system?"
A fair point.
They crept over to the center of the room to check if there was any sort of sorting system listed on the bookcase. Unfortunately, there was nothing there.
"Well, it is a secret library, I guess they didn't really need to write down how they were organizing everything," said Tarik ruefully. He looked over to all the books that were scattered from the fallen bookshelves.
"Hey, where is-"
"Shh!" Said Gadiel. His eyes were looking from bookshelf to bookshelf."I think I've got an idea."
He walked around from bookshelf to bookshelf, looking at the spines of the books. He remembered how things had been organized upstairs, and came up with a theory.
"I think it's by language," he whispered aloud. "Each bookcase is a language."
He'd notice when looking at the different cases, and found each one seemed to be a different romance language. Of course, speaking Spanish and French, he had a decent grasp on most of them.
"If each case is a language, then we just need to find the cases we can read, and there should be something there for us," said Tarik, nodding. "That's still a lot to go through."
"Better than this entire library."
"Fair enough," said Tarik, grinning at his mastery of this particularly Australian phrase.
Gadiel rolled his eyes.
"This one is French," he said, pointing to a bookcase. "I'll go look for an English one."
"Or Arabic, or Japanese," said Tarik. "Or Spanish-"
"Yeah, alright, thanks," said Gadiel, smiling.
Tarik walked into the aisle, and Gadiel walked around to look for the appropriate bookcase. It was only when he came to the overturned bookcase that he stopped, and sighed.
"Of course, this is the English one," he grumbled. He rolled up his sleeves, and slowly began to sift through the books.
Slowly he made a pile, quickly reading titles and discarding the ones that didn't seem relevant. Funnily enough, that seemed to be most of them. Gadiel was surprised; there was a lot of miscellaneous information here, and a lot about economics and business, for some reason.
Well, it wasn't like the shopkeeper had a coherent theme to his store. With that in mind, Gadiel kept sifting through the books until he saw something that was very much not a book poke out from the pile.
It was a hand. Clutching a book with a blue cover very tightly.
Of course. Gadiel felt stupid for not realizing it. Tarik probably noticed it before, and tried to tell him.
Where was the body of the shopkeeper?
Of course, the monster could have taken it somewhere, or eaten it. But what if it hadn't?
What if he had still been alive after the monster's attack?
Gadiel stopped caring about the books, and started digging the body out. Slowly, it revealed the body of the shopkeeper, staring blankly ahead, one hand over his chest wound and clutching the book tightly. He took it from the body; it must've been something important.
He started flipping through the book casually, and noticed the edges were tinted with dried blood. Gadiel frowned, then realized that of course it would be tinted with blood; the dying shopkeeper had been bleeding out.
It was only then that Gadiel realized the trail of blood, going from the center of the room to the book pile. He noticed the blood on all the books around the body. His eyes narrowed.
How had he missed this? How had he not seen any of this?
He had been so focused on figuring out the shelves that he hadn't noticed…
No. That wasn't right.
Gadiel blinked. The dried blood trail lead from the aisle that he and Tarik entered from. How had they not noticed that? It had been right in front of them. They had stepped on it. Sure, they had been extremely on guard for the monster, but shouldn't that have made them more aware of their surroundings?
Like this pile of books. Sure, they had noticed it when they entered, but why didn't they remember that it hadn't been here before? Maybe the monster had created it since they left, okay, but they didn't stop to think about why?
As he was thinking, he was absent-mindedly flipping through the book. He looked down, and just so happened to catch a phrase: Monsterous Magic-Users.
He stared at the phrase for a while. This meant something. It felt like his brain had all the pieces to come to a conclusion, but he was just-
Ah. Of course.
It was a trap.
A trap from a monster that could use magic. Probably some sort of illusion. One that made them not see the blood, discovering the body, making them curious about it so that they wouldn't notice when the monster came and attacked. The only reason Gadiel didn't completely fall for it, was probably because he knew that the body wasn't supposed to be here.
And now that Gadiel realized it...
He looked up slowly, to see the monster lying back against a bookcase, straight ahead of him. Gadiel's breath caught in his throat. He wanted to scream but his body wouldn't respond.
But then he noticed that the monster wasn't moving. In fact, it slumped over, chest rising and falling steadily.
Oh thank Christ the monster was just sleeping. Gadiel decided that now would be a good time to get Tarik and leave.
But just as Gadiel sighed with relief, the monster stirred, head turning to face Gadiel, eyes opening blearily.
They locked eyes for a moment.
"Tarik!" Gadiel yelled, turning his body to run.
But it was too late.
The monster leaped out from the aisle claws outstretched. Gadiel instinctively stepped back; the monster was too fast. He was right in front of Gadiel there, claws reached for his thick neck-
A ball of heat seared past Gadiel's face, just passing where the monster's claws had been mere milliseconds ago. Somehow, the monster had withdrawn them just in time, using its wings to fly up.
Gadiel didn't need to be told twice. He turned and ran for the door.
The monster had other ideas.
Gadiel was at the aisle he and Tarik entered from when he realized that something was wrong. He turned to find that Tarik was not behind him; instead, he was dodging and weaving as the monster dive bombed him.
"Go!" yelled Tarik, once he was Gadiel had stopped. "Go, I got this!"
The shopkeeper's body flashed in Gadiel's mind.
He didn't think. Gadiel ran for the monster.
Cold. He needed to be cold.
He watched as he ran; Tarik threw fireballs at the monster, aiming for its wings. Of course, grounding it would make it much easier to fight. The monster wasn't making it easy though; it twisted an turned in the air, using its superior maneuverability to slowly get closer to Tarik.
Gadiel would not let that happen.
That said, he didn't have any natural long-range attacks like Tarik; all he could do was make ice. But that didn't mean he was completely useless at a distance.
As he ran, he formed a few blades of ice between his fingers. Silently he threw them at the monster while it was occupied with Tarik's fireballs.
The monster roared with pain as the ice blades pierced through its wings, spurting blue blood. But Gadiel didn't have time to be surprised, the monster was focused on him now.
"Así es, come at me you confused circus animal payaso!" Gadiel shouted.
The monster didn't need to be told twice. It flung itself towards Gadiel, closing the distance in the blink of an eye.
Before it could attack, however, Gadiel felt a wave of heat coming from behind it as the monster roared in pain. It moved to the side, showing Gadiel what was happening.
"Don't forget about me you dumb animal!" Tarik yelled in French. His face contorted in concentration, or maybe it was from the heat of the blast of fire emanating from his palm. The monster flew around, but Tarik made sure to keep a continuous blast of fire on it, moving his palm to match its movements.
Tarik looked at Gadiel, and immediately he knew what he was asking. Gadiel rushed towards the monster.
Finally, the monster started moving back. The further away it moved, the weaker Tarik's fire was, until at last, it couldn't reach him. But the damage was already done. The monster's wings were charred and blackened, ooze dripping from the flesh. It smelled horrible, like burnt, rotting meat.
The monster crouched in pain, glaring at Tarik. Its eyes were full of hatred.
Before the monster even had a chance to even decide to attack again, Gadiel struck. He had snuck up behind the monster, and placed a hand on the back of its head.
Cold. Ice cold.
A shard of ice burst from the monster's forehead. Its eyes unfocused, and a thin stream of blood dripped from the monster's mouth. Slowly, it collapsed to the floor, revealing Gadiel, his breath visible from the cold he had conjured.
No one said anything for a while. Gadiel looked at his hand, as if seeing it for the first time.
'I just killed something,' he thought. 'I just killed a living being.'
He felt something well up from his stomach, but held it back. He staggered a little away, trying to get away.
He was a murderer. A killer. He had just killed someone with his own hands. He even meant to do it. He was-
"It's okay, it's okay...shhhh..."
Suddenly, Tarik was there, holding him. Gadiel didn't even realize he had been shivering until he felt Tarik's warm body wrapped around his.
"It was us or him," said Tarik. "It was a monster. It was going to kill us. Like it killed the shopkeeper."
Gadiel blinked. His breathing slowed, and his heart-rate with it.
That's right. It wasn't a human. It was a monster.
A real monster.
That was trying to kill them.
It was self-defense. Against an actual monster, that was trying to kill them.
"You okay?" asked Tarik once Gadiel had calmed down.
"Y-yeah," said Gadiel. "Yeah, I'm good. I just...I just wanna leave."
Tarik agreed, and they headed out. Gadiel picked up the book he dropped, explaining what he had found as they walked slowly towards the entrance.
"Wait," said Tarik. He looked back at the body of the shopkeeper, and bit his lip.
Gadiel realized what he was thinking.
"We should call his family," he said. "Let them take his body from here."
"And if he doesn't have a family?" said Tarik, looking back at Gadiel.
"Then you can come back," said Gadiel. "Just...please don't make me come back."
Tarik looked at the body for a while, then back at Gadiel. Gadiel averted his gaze.
"Yeah," he said. "Okay."
A beat passed.
"Thank you," said Gadiel quietly.
They left, the smaller Tarik holding Gadiel up.
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