“Hey, that reminds me. What about Ieg and Khiel, huh? Ain’t they gonna get huntin’ too?”
“It is better for Ieg to focus on his mission. And you know Khiel. Anything I might tell him would go in one ear and out the other. We three are the only ones who can collect.”
“Yeah, I can buy that. But jus’ the tree of us huntin’ down a thousand souls? Looks like we’re gonna have a real workload.”
“There is one more thing you ought to keep in mind.”
Ceal raised her index finger for emphasis.
“The Gate of the Beast will only accept the souls of humans who are at the peak of their vitality. If we wish to keep the needed sacrifices as few as possible, we have to focus on humans in their prime. Humans somewhere around their early twenties are preferable.”
“Say what now? Am I supposed ta check if they’re all in their twenties before I can get to huntin’ ‘em? What a drag. C’mon, what’s the difference? Shouldn’t matter how old they are, they could be kids or droolin’ fogies for all I care.”
“I do believe, Gabri, that I told you to never forget your duties as an Angel of the Seven Stars. Do not do something that would drag our name through the mud.”
“Keh. We’re out here huntin’ humans, ain’t we? What’s our damn name worth now?”
“Did you say something?”
“Nope. Nothin’ at all.”
Gabri’s tone betrayed the deceptive intent in his words.
“Very well then, we will now move on to the human realms. Remember, we must gather a thousand souls at all costs and undo the seal to the Gate. We must destroy the High King and remove the source of all evil from this world!”
And so, they approached the human territories. Ceal took to the South. Gabri had ventured westwards in search of souls, and Micha had gone eastwards. They had all gone their separate ways.
“Ain’t been in the human lands for a while. The damn air’s as stagnant as it’s ever been.”
Gabri descended and landed on the summit of a mountain that stretched a good thousand meters above the earth, then took in his surroundings. Finally, he set his sights on three villages of his choice.”
“Kukuh. Guess I’ll get started.”
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Gabri raised his right hand to the heavens. A large sphere materialized far above, bearing a strong resemblance to a full moon.
“Incantation: Moonlight Doubles!”
Dazzling light shone from the orb, throwing a long shadow at Gabri’s feet. The shadow then split in two, and from each part sprung forth an exact duplicate of the angel.
“Gotta focus on efficiency, don’t I?”
Gabri lowered his right hand, and the orb in the sky disappeared as he did. A manic grin sprouted on his face, his iterations mimicking the expression.
“Alrighty boys, let’s raise the curtains for a good, fun huntin’ game! Hahahahahaah!”
The Human Soul Hunt had finally begun, and Ceal, Micha, and Gabri were the perpetrators.
You never really notice how time flies. It’s already been a month since my reincarnation as the High King. I’d spent the last few days in relative peace, and not one horde of angels had made an appearance since then.
What am I doing now, I hear you ask? Well, I’m at my castle with Anri and Peta. We’re playing card games, specifically Old Maid.
Not too long ago, Anri had been the only one around. That also meant that my choice of games had been rather limited. But now that Peta’s here, the variations to these games are getting better and better. I hadn’t invited any other demons over to play, largely because my position hadn’t made it that easy for me.
“Okay, it’s my turn now!”
Let me brief you in on how the game’s going. Peta has one card in her hands, and I have two; a six of hearts and a joker. Anri had stepped down not too long ago, so it all comes down to either Peta or me. If I let Peta take the six of hearts, then I’m a dead man.
“Let’s see. I wonder which one’s the joker…”
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The index finger on Peta’s right hand begins spinning around. The joker is on my right. Take the right one! Take the right card, Peta!
My prayers go unanswered, and Peta grabs the six of hearts.
“Yaaaay! I win!”
“…I’ll admit to my loss.”
Peta rejoices, repeatedly throwing her hands in the air and cheering, and I just let my head droop down. That’s odd. Was I always this weak? I have the strange feeling that I’ve barely even won at card games and Jenga and the like, not since my reincarnation. Did I make myself suck at these games in exchange for the strength that comes with being a High King?
“Yuuto-sama, you really need to work on your poker face. You were staring at that card so much you could’a burned holes into it; it was so obvious it was the joker.”
Did… did I really look at it that much? I hadn’t even noticed.
“Damn it all, Peta! If you knew, why didn’t you just let him win?! How can you call yourself one of the Four Demons of Ruin?!”
“…It doesn’t matter, Anri. Neither status nor rank has any place in these games. The minute you give someone special consideration is the minute you lose the core aspect of the game.”
“You heard him! Also, Anri, you can’t exactly be that convincing when you were the first one to drop out.”
Anri offers no verbal retaliation, instead keeping quiet in a manner that’s almost unpleasant.
“I didn’t know you knew so many kinds of games though, Yuuto-sama. Where’d ya pick them up?”
“…I came up with all of them. They’re my original creation.”
Yes, let’s just keep it at that. The following is a message to the people who first came up with card games and Jenga. I am so, so sorry.
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“For real?! That’s our Yuuto-sama! Who else’d come up with these amazing games?! I, like, super respect that about you!”
“Please, that’s only natural. Coming up with games is so easy for Yuuto-sama it might as well just be him breathing.”
Okay, Anri, it doesn’t matter how much you want to spin this, but you’re really overestimating me.
“I can’t wait to teach these games to Yuna and Elitora! When’re they comin’ back to the castle, anyway?”
“…Well, I don’t have the slightest as far as Yuna goes, but I’d prefer it if Elitora doesn’t come back just yet.”
Anri’s words are further accentuated by her visibly strained expression. If there’s just one thing I can figure out here; is that Anri really doesn’t like this Elitora chick.
“Yuuto-sama, what’re we gonna play next?!”
“A good question…”
Hold on; we really don’t have the time to keep playing games. I have to remember that plan of mine; I want to make the public see me in a new light, and bring about an era of coexistence between humans and demons. That said, I can’t really recall any recent instance of me even trying something that might help the plan move along.
I have to see this plan through, before the Demons of Ruin can find all four ingredients to make that Black Mist of theirs. I don’t really care how, as long as some people someplace out there get into some kind of trouble…
A knock on the gates to the hall wrench me out of my ruminations. I call for whoever it is to enter, and a lone demon comes in and kneels.
“I must apologize for interrupting you in your sacred rites, milord. There is something you ought to hear. May I?”
“Of course. Speak.”
Also, what’s this about a sacred rite? What, are they talking about this card game?
“There have been repeated accounts of humans falling unconscious all throughout the human territories.”
“The victims’ ages range from late teens to their early twenties. Youths, Sire. About three hundred to four hundred of them have been found. It’s as if they had their souls yanked right out of their bodies. The reasons for this have yet to be understood, but it is generally suspected that multiple perpetrators are behind this.”
There it is, that’s the kind of thing I was waiting for…!
Yep, this is just it! I’ve been waiting! If I can just find a way to resolve the issue, then it’s practically guaranteed that the High King gets a nice little change in public opinion! Also, I know it’s a little off for me to get so ecstatic when so many people are in trouble, but I can finally feel fortune moving things in my favor!