World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 40: Can You Count How Many Chickens There Are?
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April 13, 4:05 pm, Canberra, Australia
"Tarik, I have an essay due tonight," said Gadiel softly, yet dangerously. "The world might be ending a lot sooner if I don't hand it in on time."
"Fine, I'll go over to your place then," said Tarik. "You're living at B\u0026G, right?"
Gadiel blinked, a little surprised. He hadn't expected that.
"Ah, yes, but um," he stuttered. "I-I'm cooking right now."
"Didn't you say you had an essay due tonight?"
"Can't write on an empty stomach."
"Oh, okay. Cook some for me too then," said Tarik. "See you soon!"
And with that, he let go of the call, leaving Gadiel in his apron, staring at his phone.
Gadiel did, in fact, have an essay due tonight. One that he had not started. Furthermore, was also cooking in the communal cooking area at his dorm, B\u0026G (the full name was "Burton and Garran Hall," but no-one called it that).
The communal cooking area had about twelve islands, each island housing two cooking stations, in two rows. Between the two rows was a row of tables and chairs, where students could eat after cooking. It was all quite convenient.
Gadiel sighed, put down the phone, and unwrapped the bowl of raw chicken he had set aside to marinate last night. His mother's voice echoed in his mind: "Always said to tackle hard tasks on a full stomach." And this essay on Japanese tones was going to be difficult.
Not to mention, now Tarik was coming. With news about the whole...monster...thing. And Gadiel did not know how to feel about that.
He turned on the stove, and placed his pot of oil over it, preparing to get it nice and hot. He started dipping the chicken in the breading he had prepared, one by one, while he mused.
On the one hand, powers were cool. No matter what anyone said or did, powers were just objectively awesome. Gadiel loved the feeling of using his powers, of calming down and becoming cold. He realized that his powers were tied to his emotional state; being calm often produced the best results. Sometimes, he practiced his powers just to get into that cool state of mind, before tackling schoolwork.
On the other hand, Gadiel mused as he placed his breaded chicken strips in a strainer, there was the fact that he had to fight monsters.
Gadiel was aware of how he looked; he was a tall, buff guy that made women clutch their purses when he walked by them in the street. He also liked how he looked; he worked hard for the body he had, and wasn't going to give up on it any time soon (besides, he loved food and needed a way to burn calories).
But the fact was that Gadiel just didn't like hurting people. Or animals. Or, as evidence by the guilt he was feeling now, monsters.
"What kind of man can't even defend himself?"
He gritted his teeth as he remembered something unpleasant, and dipped the chicken in the pot of boiling oil.
About fifteen minutes later, Tarik walked into the communal kitchen, his laptop bag slung across his shoulder. He looked around, and found Gadiel frowning intensely as he waited for something to fry. Tarik smiled; he had a few friends who said that Gadiel looked kinda angry all the time, but Tarik knew that was just the face he made when he was thinking or concentrating. He found it kind of cute.
He walked closer to see that there was a rack of golden-brown chicken set on a rack. As soon as he saw it, he could smell it; the scent of cumin-spiced fried chicken. His mouth began to water as he immediately went to grab a piece.
"No," said Gadiel, slapping away his hand. "It's not cool yet."
"But it looks so good," Tarik whined.
"Fine. Eat it. Get burnt," said Gadiel. "I'm not gonna pay your hospital fees."
Tarik rolled his eyes, but relented. He leaned against the island, drumming his fingers on the surface.
"Do you want me to tell you now, or once we're eating?"
Gadiel looked up from what he was doing, then absentmindedly stroked his chin, getting some batter on it. Tarik fought the urge to wipe it off.
"Just tell me now, my night is shot anyway," Gadiel sighed. He went back to focusing on his chicken, completely unaware of the smear on his face.
Tarik clicked his tongue.
"Hold on," he said, taking out a tissue from his bag. He lifted himself onto the island, surprising Gadiel.
"What are you-"
Then Tarik leaned over, and wiped his chin. Gadiel watched, frozen as Tarik completed his mission, tongue slightly sticking out.
"There you go!" said Tarik. "That was bothering me."
They locked eyes for a brief moment. Gadiel felt his heart skip a beat.
"The, uh, monsters?" he said finally, looking back at his frying chicken. Focus, he didn't want to overcook this.
"Ou-Ouais, yes, monsters," said Tarik, sounding slightly embarrassed as he lowered himself to the floor.
Gadiel sneaked a glance up, watching as Tarik reached into his bag to take out the book from behind. His eyes lingered on Tarik's plump rear for just a little while, before Tarik turned back. Gadiel was immediately very interested in his chicken once more.
Tarik opened the book up, and placed it on the counter. He started flipping through.
"No, no...right, here it is!" he said, stopping on a page. Gadiel looked over, and saw there were no pictures, just words. He went back to focusing on the chicken. They should be almost done now…
"'Approximately one year after the opening of the portal, the pendants will chose their weilders,'" Tarik read. "However, the invasion will have begun long before then. For that, we must prepare."
"'First will come the foot-soldiers, working on instinct and bloodlust. They will carve the way for the Captains, who will in turn, organize the world for the Commanders.'"
At this point, Gadiel was just watching Tarik read, chicken forgotten.
"'Then, once the world is under subjugation, the Demon Lord will make himself known,'" finished Tarik, looking up. He found Gadiel simply staring at him, mouth open. Tarik quickly looked at the pot of frying chicken, clearly forgotten.
"Gadiel your chicken," he said.
Five minutes later, Gadiel had another rack of chicken cooling, while he and Tarik sat at one of the table, a plate of fried chicken between them. Or at least, there had been. The two boys seemed to devour the chicken pretty much instantly, until there was only one piece left.
They both glared at each other, saying nothing, eyeing the last piece. It was a drumstick. Gadiel loved drumsticks.
Quick as lightning, Gadiel snatched up the piece. At the exact same time, Tarik got up and walked over to the cooling rack, where the rest of the chicken was cooling.
"They're cool, so it's fine, right?" said Tarik, smugly taking a bite out of a thigh.
Gadiel shook his head, but smiled back. At least he didn't have to give up his drumstick.
"Alright, so what were you saying about the uh...monsters?"
Tarik's eyes lit up and he swallowed and walked closer.
"So, I think it's pretty clear that the book was referring to our pendants," he said, taking a seat again. "That means that the portal has been open for at least a year."
Gadiel nodded, still eating. So far, they were both on the same page.
"Given the fact that we haven't seen like, any monsters yet though, I think it's safe to assume we're still at the early stages."
"What does that mean?" asked Gadiel.
"Well the book said that the monsters will 'carve the way for the Captains,' right?" said Tarik, taking another bite of his chicken. While he chewed, Gadiel went over to his assigned fridge near the cooking station, and took out two cans of soft drink. Tarik was done swallowing by the time he got back.
"I think that means that the world is gonna be hit by a wave of these foot-soldiers," Tarik accepted the drink and went on like nothing had happened.
"I think they'll try and destroy as many people as they can, and then the Captains will come to organze the remains."
"What about the Commanders then?" asked Gadiel, taking his seat back and opening his can.
"Well, from I gather, it looks like they're just there to clean up any messes the Captains might still have, before the Demon Lord comes through," said Tarik. "But anything about Captains and Commanders are all guesses. The book only really had information about the foot-soldiers."
"I'm not going back down there," said Gadiel flatly. "You can't-"
"Calm down," said Tarik dryly. "I don't think there's anything back down there anyway."
"Because I already checked."
Gadiel stared at Tarik as he took a swing of his drink. He realized the implications of his words.
"So...no-one?" he asked.
Tarik shook his head.
"Couldn't find anyone related to the shopkeeper," he said. "Guy was a total mystery. I'm still looking, but I took care of the burial already."
Gadiel looked away, ashamed.
"But we can't leave out the possibility that he was working with someone," continued Tarik. "After all, there's no way that someone can build a library like that all by themselves."
(On the other side of the planet, a certain CEO sneezed.)
"So...what now?" said Gadiel, after a while.
Tarik took another swing from his can, and slammed it down on the table.
"Monster Nests," he said, smacking his lips. "Foot-soldiers often come together in large groups called Monster Nests."
He then explained that monsters liked to use buildings to build nests, using their magic to clear out floors at a time and inhabit them slowly.
"Once an entire building is taken over, they usually start attacking in public," Tarik explained.
"This was all in the book?" said Gadiel, surprised. That was a lot of weirdly specific information.
"Like I said, we can't discount the possibility of a group of people already fighting these monsters," he said. "They were probably the ones who wrote the book, to prepare."
Gadiel breathed out a sigh of relief. If there were other people already taking care of this, then it would be fine. He could just focus on his essay and they would all be good.
"So that means our next step would be…" Gadiel started.
"...to find these people," said Gadiel.
"...to track down Monster Nests," said Tarik at the same time.
The looked in confusion at each other.
"No, yours makes more sense," said Gadiel quickly. "I mean, we don't really have a way to find these other people, right?"
"Right," said Tarik warily.
"Besides, it's more likely we'll find them at Monster Nests, since they would be exterminating them too," Gadiel went on.
"Oh. Yeah. I guess," said Tarik.
They fell into a weird silence after that.
"So...how do we find a Monster Nest?" Gadiel asked, trying to turn the mood back to how it had been before.
"Well...that's where we come in," said Tarik.
He then went on to explain that as users of the pendants, they both had an innate ability to sense monsters and Monster Nests. They would be able to know by a general sense of unease…
"Plus, out tattoos will glow," said Tarik, giving Gadiel a look.
Gadiel didn't know how to respond to that. And Tarik seemed to know it. Still, he seemed to be waiting for some kind of response.
But Gadiel didn't know how to make it better. In the end, Tarik ended up leaving while Gadiel packed up and headed for the library.
The weather was cold. It didn't snow; Gadiel had never actually seen snow in his entire life. But the cold was still there, piercing Gadiel into his bones. He wore a sweater and a jacket, with a beanie on top, and still he felt the wind pierce cold straight into his bones.
As he made his way to the library, he thought back on the awkwardness between him and Tarik.
The fact of the matter was that Tarik was all in on this monster hunting stuff. He liked it, and couldn't wait to get more into it. Be it the legends, the mysteries...Tarik seemed to love it all. The dangerous, the ugly, everything.
The thing was, Tarik was also expecting Gadiel to be into it too.
But he wasn't. And Tarik seemed to sense that.
Gadiel really wanted nothing to do with any of this. He had way too much on his plate already. He thought about everything he had to do while walking up the stairs of the library.
His parents were always complaining about how he never talked to him, asking about girls. It seemed like he had an assignment due every week. He didn't need to add hunting monsters and saving the world on top of all that.
But...Tarik needed him. There was no way for Tarik to see his own tattoo; it was on his back. Therefore, he needed someone there with him, at the very least to check his tattoo.
And it would be blatantly irresponsible of him to ask someone with no powers to do that. Doing so would be to invite them to this world of monsters and powers, and that would be a death sentence to a normal person.
Gadiel sighed as he sat down at a desk. There was a knot of anxiety in his stomach that just wouldn't go away, making him restless.
He needed to talk with Tarik. There was no other way to deal with this.
He took out his phone, and called Tarik. This wasn't something that could be done via text.
Tarik picked up on the second ring.
"What?" he said, sounding annoyed.
"I don't want to do this," said Gadiel. "I don't want to lie to you, or pretend around you. You're one of the only people I've been completely honest with, and I want to keep that up."
Tarik said nothing. On the other end, he was on his bed, lying on his back, listening. His room was a mess.
"I...I don't want to do this whole...monster fighting thing," Gadiel whispered the last part. "It's too dangerous."
"Are you scared?" asked Tarik. Gadiel thought he could hear a trace of mockery in that voice.
"Yes. I'm terrified. Aren't you?" Gadiel shot back.
Tarik said nothing.
"But all that said...I don't want to lose you," he continued.
He went silent. Gadiel liked to pace while talking on the phone, and had somehow walked all the way back to the stairs again. He felt the knot in his stomach tighten.
Tarik opened his mouth to speak.
"I know I can't convince you to stop," he said. "We've known each other for a year; I know you never change your mind once you've set it."
"So I guess...I'll help you," said Gadiel reluctantly.
Tarik blinked. This was not the way he expected this conversation to go.
Apparently, neither did Gadiel. He was surprised by the words coming out of his own mouth. But now that he said them, he felt a certain sense of relief. Like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
"But I'm not fighting," he said. "I'll check your tattoo, and I'll help you find monster nests, but I'm not going to fight."
"But they're monsters," said Tarik. "They'll probably come after you even if you don't do anything."
"Self-defence is different," said Gadiel, waving the question away.
Tarik smiled, amused. He wasn't really sure it would be that easy. But if it meant that Gadiel would be with him, helping him...
Well, he didn't care about the reason why. He just wanted Gadiel by his side.
"Okay," said Tarik.
There was a small pause.
"Okay," said Gadiel, breathing a sigh of relief. "Okay."
"Was that all?" said Tarik, a little teasingly.
Gadiel went silent.
"Gadiel? You there?" Tarik asked after a while. He frowned. What was going on with Gadiel today.
"Ah, yeah," said Gadiel. It sounded as if he had been engrossed in something else and had forgotten he was on the phone.
"Um, so this might be just because I'm being paranoid now," he said. "But..."
Tarik waited patiently for Gadiel to finish his sentence.
"...I think I found a Monster Nest."
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