A/N: Whew, what a work load. Y'know, between reading manga, playing videogames, checking out Hent-nevermind, I really haven't spent much of my attention on my work here. For that I'm deeply sorry, everyone. It usually starts out with slumps and then it escalates to complete negligence, and soon enough I start choosing to play around instead of work on these one-shots. However, I can promise that once I get back into it, like I did here, it becomes an even better chapter than I started with. Funny, isn't it? Anyways, if any of you have been following along on my Google Plus page, then you should be in the know about most things happening for me. If not, then please check it out. Yes, that was self-advertisement, and I'm not ashamed. So, for this Lilim one-shot, I've decided to do something new and put the story's focus on someone else in the Director's circle since he's currently eating dinner right now with his family. Hope everyone enjoys themselves and please spread the word about the secret info on my Google Plus!
“Now, is everyone present?”, Lord Kisuke Asakura asks, “Then, this meeting of the Greater Zipangu clans shall now begin.”
The council members, each a representative of their own villages, nod in agreement at Kisuke's word. The soft crimson of his eyes crinkles gently as he meets each and every council member's gaze in respect. The council, mostly comprised of males, respectfully nod their heads as he addresses them. I myself, however, do nothing of the sort. Instead, I opt to lazily roll my eyes and wave a hand towards Kisuke.
“Silverine-san, it's quite rude not to return the gesture with an equal level of respect. You do realize that Asakura-san is still the head of this council, yes?” A plucky councilman scolds me with that 'you should know better' attitude.
“Yes...I take that fact very much to mind, Hakabe-san. I was truly showing Lord Asakura my respect when he met my gaze. There is no custom of mine that states I need to bow my head, so why should I?”
Before I could continue, Kisuke holds a hand up to signal me to stop.
“That's enough, Magnus. I will tolerate the sarcasm, but I request that you refrain from holding up this important meeting.”
“...Very well. I'll try to to keep it in check. I apologize as well, Hakabe-san.” I emphasize his name, letting him know my displeasure.
“Hmph, a young little up-start like you is too reckless to be a councilman anyway...” Hakabe mumbles airily as he nods his head.
“Now, I believe it is time we reveal the main purpose of this: re-defining our boundaries with each other.” Kisuke brings everyone back on topic.
Why the hell do I even show up for these things? It's the same stuff over and over again: boundary disputes, supply distribution, whether or not to mobilize our defense forces, nothing that really interests me in the slightest. Sigh, life was so much easier when I didn't have to deal with all these boring responsibilities...
“Magnus? Magnus!” Kisuke's voice snaps me out of my thoughts.
“What?” I bark back.
“We need your input on what we should do about the immigrants from the Mist Continent. It seems that they are branching out far more than we initially expected.” He holds a calm voice despite my rude outburst.
“Er...right. My own village has not seen many travelers from the Mist Continent, so I really can't form an opinion on that matter. However, I would be honored to take my share of the burden and relieve our people. Our northern neighbors are still as mysterious as ever, so it makes sense that they would want to reach out and exchange cultures with the rest of the world. It's nothing worth worrying about.”
“I see. Then that's another in favor of welcoming them with open arms. With that, our decision is unanimous and this meeting is now adjourned. I hope to see you all again tomorrow afternoon.”
The meetings are always so boring, but at least they end rather quickly. The fact that most of the villages will follow whatever Kisuke decides helps speeds up the voting process, so I can't really complain about much. Just as I leave the council chambers, my mood picks up as I spot the most pleasant sight for me these days: my family. My wife, Kasumi, and my daughter, Shiori, wait patiently in a small corner of the lobby separate from the other families. Those two are more alike than I ever realized, even after raising our child for more than 10 years. Shiori shares her mother's violet hair, albeit a bit lighter-toned, and the scales on her body have the same deep emerald color. For all her looks, she is practically a younger copy of Kasumi down to her mother's love of wearing kimonos. And yet, there is at least one thing that Shiori inherited from me; something very prominent.
“Shiori, are you okay with ignoring the other children? Friends can make life much more enjoyable, you know?” I ask while walking towards her.
“I fully agree, Father, but it's pointless to act friendly with such spoiled brats at this age. I'm more comfortable with carefully choosing my friends.” Shiori explains.
Of all the things that I could've passed on, she just had to get my superiority complex...
I cringe internally while showing my daughter a soft smile, and then glancing at my wife. The theory about a Mamono's long life span must be true, as Kasumi hasn't changed at all. The only difference I see today is her hair, which is now shoulder-length instead of reaching down to her waist. Kasumi gives me a quick kiss and turns to the door, silently gesturing that we should hurry up and return home as a family. Shiori makes the first move, taking her mother's hand and leading the way out of the council building. I reach to take her hand, honestly happy that my life is turning out so-
“Magnus.” A familiar voice whispers to me.
I retract my hand and glance at Shiori to wait outside with her mother. As she leaves, I look around for a moment in case anyone is watching me. As a precaution, I duck into one of the private offices down the hall and lock the door. My contact appears as soon as I close the curtains in front of the windows, effectively darkening the room.
“Tsukiko, has something happened? What sort of threats will I be expecting this time?” I question to a seemingly empty corner of the room.
“No threat...this time...” She responds, stepping out of the shaded corner.
Every time I see her, I have mixed feelings about how to talk to her. She's an old flame, a lover, a former Human-turned-Kunoichi, and now most of all, she's my second wife. After Hikari Cromwell's birthday party 10 years ago, Kasumi begrudgingly offered to share me with Tsukiko. I could never decide who is better between the two of them, so I was glad that they settled the matter themselves. The fact that I've been able to have such caring wives is just another reason why I took up my job as a councilman. Tsukiko leans into me for a hug, which I lovingly accept. It feels like I'm missing some-
“Mom! Stop doing things when you feel like it! And Dad, you need to stop encouraging her!” A blunt, tomboyish voice shouts from the other side of the room.
“Aww, but your mom works so hard for this family; it's the least I can do.” I teasingly plead.
My other child, a young Kunoichi named Hana drops down to stand between myself and Tsukiko. Her magenta uniform looks quite form-fitting on her and compliments her looks very well. Unlike Tsukiko, Hana inherited my stony-gray eyes and coarse style of speaking,
“I get it, but sometimes there's more important things to worry about. Mom, if you would please finish our mission.” Hana suggests firmly.
“Ahh...yes. Magnus...this letter came...for you.”
In Tsukiko's outstretched hands is a small envelope with a pure-white seal on the backside In an eloquent calligraphy on the front is my name, Magnus Yamato Silverine. A little-known fact like my middle name is evidence enough to warrant a degree of worry from me. I give Tsukiko a quick peck on her masked lips and pat Hana on the head as thanks for bringing this to my attention.
“J-Jeez, Mom! Aren't you even a little bit embarrassed to say stuff like that!? And you can lose that weird way of talking, you know!? Everyone already knows that you can speak normally!”
“Dad doesn't complain because he's so used to it! It's really degrading when you talk like that to everyone else! It makes you seem like a scared animal!”
I step away from their 'mother-daughter bonding' to find a quiet spot in the room to read the letter. I tear the envelope open with a letter opener lying around on the office desk and take out the letter.
Love is not something so easily settled.
After receiving that letter, nothing happens which unnerves me persistently. Despite the neutral expression that I hold most of the time, Kasumi and Tsukiko notice my changed mood immediately. It's a given since they've both gotten to know me very well for more than 10 years now. However, I only care about whether Shiori or Hana observed anything different. Thankfully, neither of them seem to react strangely since they started arguing with each other as soon as I rejoined Kasumi and Shiori with Tsukiko and Hana. With a sigh from both of their mothers, we all start walking on the long road back to our village.
“...Hana. It's a pleasure to see you again, as usual.” Shiori's normally soft voice adopts a chilling tone when addressing her Kunoichi sibling.
“Well well well, if it isn't the Princess. Still have no one to meet your impossibly high standards?” Hana replies in a mocking tone.
“Only a chosen few have the right to be around me. I can avoid a sorrowful future, unlike yourself.”
“I'm plenty happy right now since I make so many friends, but you wouldn't know about warm feelings, would you?”
“Shiori. (...Hana.)” My wives sternly remark.
“Y-Yes, Mother? (Mom?)” My daughters respond at the same time.
Rare as it is, the times when Kasumi and Tsukiko work together are terrifying. As we reach the halfway point of our trip back home, I start to smile and forget about my troubles for just a passing moment. It's endearing to see those two, even if they are half-sisters, to be such good friends. Shiori has never had someone her age make her feel so humbled, just like how Hana can find a strong opposition in Shiori.
The Kunoichi who drags her friends around wherever she goes, and the Ryu who holds too much pride to let anyone into her comfort zone...I wonder what a certain idiot would do in this situation? Probably start fawning over them like the doting man he is. I wonder if he's had a child yet? I would've thought he'd be the first to have a daughter of his own...
“We're home!” Kasumi's cheery voice brings me back to reality.
I don't even remember climbing up the steps to reach Kasumi's temple outside of our village. It used to be such a daunting place to me when I first came here, but after years of spending time with both Kasumi and Tsukiko, I could think of nowhere else as home. The entire temple grounds is large enough to accommodate us and servants, but we all agreed that living here by ourselves would be best for the children.
“I shall...make...dinner.” Tsukiko volunteers, tying on a (blatantly) cute apron very unlike her usual appearance.
“Very well. May I lend a hand, Sister?” Kasumi asks while putting on a white apron of her own.
The Kunoichi looks mildly bewildered for a moment, but relaxes quickly.
“Yes. Thank you...Nee-sama.”
With those two making dinner preparations, I take the little ones to their respective rooms and let them have some space from each other. I find it rather amusing that they have rooms on opposite sides of the hallway, even though they say that it's to 'keep an eye on each other'.
I take after them as well, retiring into my private study located in one of the smaller rooms in the main building. Apart from my official job as my village's leader, I often enjoy a much simpler hobby that has reached out further than I expected: novel writing. The unfinished drafts from my current story are still sitting out on my desk along with my ink brush. Though we have cellphones and computers these days, I prefer using handwriting my work so that I'm forced to create even more meaningful stories.
“...The most perfect woman for me is...illusory...”
Almost done with this. Now if only I could just have one more spark of inspiration...
“Magnus Silverine. Hard at work, I see.” An unfamiliar voice flies into my ears.
I whip around with record speed and throw a hard punch at whoever this newcomer is.
“Ahahaha, oh my~! Aren't we a bit hostile this evening?”
To my surprise, the visitor is one of the famous daughters of the Demon Lord, a Lilim. The silver hair and red eyes are like a badge of honor to the Mamono world, and it's no different with this one. I raise an eyebrow at her clothes: a white kimono with blue embroidery, and a fox mask like the ones they sell at festivals. Despite the strange appearance, she managed to catch my punch without even putting forth an ounce of effort to hold it there.
For a mere Human like myself to just attack her without warning is like begging for death. The Lilim are not just powerful, but unpredictable as well. What did I ever do to deserve this kind of punishment? Why do I have to entertain such a high-class visitor when I'm simply living a peaceful life for once?
“It's because you're interesting. Your books are enjoyable to read; I especially frequented 'The Moonlit Goddess' novel that you based on my sisters. I'm pleased to finally have to chance to meet with you, Yamato Silver.
“You know my pen name as well as my real name...as expected of one of the most powerful Mamono. What purpose do you have in meeting with me like this?”
“Simple: I desire a contract with you. Seeing as you are a rather obscure author and I happen to greatly admire your work, I believe we can both benefit from a detailed...partnership.”
“Hmph, no thanks. You're mistaken if you are looking to involve yourself with me in a sexual manner.”
“Hear me out, Yamato. Don't you wish to clear your unsavory past? Wouldn't it be better if your precious family could live life without having to worry about being held hostage?”
Those last few words grab my attention in an ominous way. For years, ever since I vowed to atone for my previous bandit lifestyle, both Kasumi and Tsukiko have been targeted as a way for people to leverage me. So far, Tsukiko has been doing an excellent job of deterring kidnappers, but there's only so strain that I can put on her.
It's only to be expected after all, when an imposing reputation like mine suddenly vanishes; it's natural for my enemies to be curious. I'm even more worried now because my daughters are also at risk. It would destroy my life if anything happened to those two at such young ages.
I clench my hands tightly into fists at the thoughts. If I've never put hope into anything, I somehow feel like I can trust in this Lilim. She seems lackadaisical, but there's a subtle cleverness that I can detect underneath it all. However, there's always a catch when one sells his soul to the “devil”.
“So, say that I wish to consider your offer...what would the details include?”
“-Smile- I think that you'll find them quite agreeable...” The Lilim lazily waves a hand and a piece of paper appears in her grasp.
[A Formal Contract Between: Magnus Yamato Silverine / Giselle Eveline Libra]
By the power granted by the Demon Lord and Her Husband, the above-named individuals have agreed to enter into a contract for the sake of furthering each other's goals. Through this single extension of a Lilim's will, anything can be made possible given the right conditions. (...-Blah blah blah-...)
As the contractor, Giselle Eveline Libra ensures that the following conditions will be met until the contract is fulfilled: 1. Magnus Yamato Silverine and all related to him shall be placed under protection at his discretion. 2. Magnus Yamato Silverine will grow more popular as an author around the world.
In return as the contracted, Magnus Yamato Silverine will meet the following conditions at the risk of punishment given by the contractor: 1. Giselle Eveline Libra shall have any one wish granted within the means of the contracted. 2. Saya no Yami, the contracted's village, shall be transformed into a Demon Realm with all inhabitants monsterized. 3. Following the completion of the previous condition, the Demon Realm shall be governed at the discretion of the contractor and the contracted.
[I have read and understood all of the details described in this contract. By signing my name below, I reinforce that fact and acknowledge the start of a mutual relationship between both parties.
Signed, ___________________________, Contractor / __________________________, Contracted]
Such a thorough contract and yet all of the conditions seem beneficial towards both sides. I can keep my family safe under Giselle's protection, and even wipe away my dark past by nourishing my name as an author. Giselle's wishes are not difficult to fulfill at all, as I'm more than willing to allow my village to be converted into a Demon Realm.
It's only fair that the village gets exactly what they deserve for treating me like a slave all those years ago. Kasumi and Tsukiko were my only saving graces back then, and now fate gives me the power to pass my own judgment; life is such a sweet surprise...
I'm holding the brush in my hand, ready to sign my name, but something makes me hesitate. It feels like a strong feeling of refusal and...caution.
“Dad? I'm staying over Takahiko's house. I'll be back in the morning!” Hana's voice shouts from behind my study door.
Those simple and pure words are what cause the brush to fall from my hand.
That's right...I'm no longer alone. I have to consider what Hana and Shiori would be feeling if I signed my name. They must be so lonely at times whenever I retreat into my study. I feel so distant to them, and it's painful...
“Giselle...I refuse to accept your offer. It is very generous to me as an individual, but it does not satisfy my family in the slightest. If there's any chance that my daughters would feel distraught because of my signing this contract, I would rather shoulder all of the burdens myself.”
“...Very well, Yamato. I respect your choice and I will not try to sway you. However, should you find yourself in doubt of whether or not it was the right choice..."
“...I'll be there waiting for your eventual change of heart.” Giselle's voice softens to a whisper as she fades away into the evening darkness.
“Father?” A small voice calls.
“Ah, Shiori? How long were you watching?” I answer in ragged breaths.
“From the beginning...Hana joined me as well. She was on the verge of tears when she left for Takahiko's. Are you about to weep too, Father?”
It's true; my eyes are welling up with tears from all of these thoughts on my mind. I have to maintain the image of a strong father, so I give it my all to resist the urge to break.
“Do you think...I made the right choice, Shiori? You and Hana could have lived your lives freely if I signed, and your mothers would be happy to be rid of my previous history...”
“Father...your decision, no matter what, is always correct. I would prefer not to worry about kidnappings each day, I also would not want it to change. It brings a feeling of excitement to me when I think about everything each day can bring. I want to experience new things and learn how to live my own life, just as you did in the past. If all else fails, I can always count on Hana to be my protector just as her mother is to mine.” Shiori's warm smile as she looks at me just lets out the flood of tears.
“...Shiori, I'm so sorry that you have someone like me as a father...I failed both...you and Hana.” I confess between sobs.
“You're wrong, Father. I will always be proud to be your daughter and I know that Hana feels the same. Your precious daughters love you more than anything else in this world, no matter what faults you may have. You are light that brightens our world each and everyday.”
A/N: Boy, was that a tearjerker! I almost cried myself when I was planning out that last scene. I almost have a certain softness when it comes to children, especially with their inherent innocence. I originally wanted to add Giselle to Magnus' harem, but I think making it a late-bloom was a safer choice. The dynamic between Kasumi and Tsukiko (and their kids) was pretty surprising, huh? The daughters are almost nothing at all like the mothers in personality, except for their constant clashes between sisters. I really wanted Magnus to show another softer side of himself here, so it worked out pretty well that he refused to sign a contract with Giselle. For next time, we'll be taking things a bit slower because we'll be waiting for the cows to come home! Yep, I just made that pun as a reference to that one insult you should (or not) use on a female. The point is, the Mamono on the list is Holstaur. I've always wanted to try something with them since they seem so affectionate and warm. I seriously would consider them for my top species if the one-shot turns out well. Whatever comes, I guess. Be sure to check out my Google Plus page once in a while to find out the reasons for delays, what I'm currently working, and what's on the list of species! Till then, this is Drake Kanto wishing you a wonderful day!