Chapter 13:

An Evil Self-Created

Why Kill? When Witches Can Be Tentacled!


When it came to people getting bashed for their interests, Snazzy wouldn’t stand for it. When people were ostracized for devoting their passions to the things they loved, Snazzy was there to support them. Throughout the years, as he spoke to all the unseen people across the world, he believed that if there was one more person that could break out of their shell, one more person who would feel proud of what he or she could achieve, then his efforts were not in vain.Bookmark here

Though his goals were nothing lofty like world peace or feeding the hungry, he had something he was proud to spread. His message was simple.Bookmark here

Be free!Bookmark here

Free to put one’s efforts into one’s interests. Free to believe in what one can achieve. To let anyone that bothered to hear him think that one supporter with him or her. It didn’t matter what people around them considered was popular. It didn’t matter that what they loved merely trickled to them from halfway around the world where another language was spoken.Bookmark here

Snazzy was there to spread the word. To correct people for their misconceptions, and to show what being proud of oneself meant.Bookmark here

And he could tell, Maribell was a lonely voice in the dark, waiting for someone to show her that she wasn’t alone in the world. For Snazzy, he started off with one horribly planned video that screamed his love for otaku fandom. But even that carried a voice that was filled with passion and made people take notice. A voice in the endless sea of the internet managed to find the first few people who had given up and let themselves drown in its waves.Bookmark here

But Snazzy’s passion stirred up that ocean and plucked them out. That feeling perfectly described what he wanted to do for Maribell.Bookmark here

With a swish of his tentacles, flowing water burst from them and glided into the air. But rather than using it as a freezing rain attack like Cassandra did, his tentacles grabbed onto the denser fluid and used it as a foothold. Creating a burst of speed by swimming in the water magic that surrounded him, Snazzy’s body sped over to Clive before he could react.Bookmark here

The swordsman dodged hastily in surprise, clearly unnerved by this sudden burst of speed. Now, the jellyfish was moving several times faster, which Clive could barely keep up with. Spinning around in a U-turn, Snazzy went for another attempt.Bookmark here

Moving with water that was constantly spread around him was faster, but quite difficult to control. His mind was literally trying to throw down platforms as he was stepping on them. If his magic didn’t keep up, he would lose his momentum and crash. But if he didn’t swim hard enough, the water would escape his reach. He had to ride the waves like surfing the tide in midair, a feat that no doubt astounded the current audience.Bookmark here

But after a few poor turns and moments of panic, Snazzy felt like he had it down. Clive, too, took that same time to readjust for Snazzy’s newfound movements. He swung his sword where the jellyfish would pass by next.Bookmark here

However, the blanket of water allowed Snazzy to glide right by. The sword bounced off the magic like a buffer zone coated his body. And with that miss, Snazzy curled up half of his tentacles into a fist to give a wet smash right into Clive’s kisser.Bookmark here

But even with a full force blow to a face, the swordsman was strong enough to withstand it. There lacked a heaviness behind the punch, which was expected as a jellyfish hardly weighed anything. Clive simply ended up with a sopping wet face and a mild sting, like a damp washcloth whipping him.Bookmark here

Still, Snazzy didn’t give up. He circled around Clive’s body and did one-two punches that flung water all across his armor and clothing. Meanwhile, Clive was getting annoyed by the fact that he was being hosed down rather than hurt.Bookmark here

“Stop with these games! Can’t you tell that we are saving you from being controlled by a Witch?!” Clive barked at him.Bookmark here

“Controlled? As if Onee-san could put a lid on the passionate cries of an internet sensation! Ha, if her magic’s that powerful, then she would certainly deserve praise!” Snazzy retorted.Bookmark here

“You don’t care?! That she’s playing you for a fool?”Bookmark here

“Me? I think that it’s you that needs glasses, Mr. Hero who can’t tell a good Witch from a bad one. Cause you’re like, ‘GRR, WITCH! Bad! Must kill!’ to me! Can you not be the one to hear her out?!” Snazzy argued as he continued to slap the man with watery tentacles.Bookmark here

“Hear her out? And what, let her possess me again like she did last time? As if?” Clive yelled as he tried to swat Snazzy away like a fly buzzing around.Bookmark here

“Trust issues, man. Everyone has ‘em.” Snazzy raised a tentacle up that was crackling with electricity. “If that’s the case, welcome to Guidance Counselor Snazzy’s services!”Bookmark here

Bringing the livewire tentacle down upon Clive’s drenched body, a huge shock coursed through the swordsman. As he couldn’t swipe away the magic with his sword, there was nothing he could do to stop the jellyfish from sending thousands of volts running through a big conductor. That turned the man into a twitching puppet with no control of his body.Bookmark here

Eventually, Clive gave in and collapsed to the ground, still suffering from the aftereffects of the electric pulses. Snazzy kicked aside his sword and sat on top of his head, feigning a yawn with a tentacle over his mouth.Bookmark here

Another body crashed into the ground beside them. Cassandra, looking a little slapped in the face, quivered under the glare of Maribell. With the giant boost in her magic, Cassandra stood no chance against her.Bookmark here

“Tch, what are you… going to do… to us now? Roast us? Serve us to… your little servant that you possessed? Or… will we become… mindless toys for you?” Clive croaked out as he tried to regain control of his breath.Bookmark here

“I haven’t done anything to Snazzy. His thoughts are his own.” Maribell replied.Bookmark here

“Liar.” Clive chuckled dismissively. “You expect us to believe that?”Bookmark here

“Actually…,” Snazzy peeked down at Clive’s face from atop his head. “Onee-san can’t lie. Her Witch curse prevents her from doing so.”Bookmark here

“Prevents her? Now, you’re making things up. Her Grimoire of Lies made me spew out frightening untruths! How do expect me to believe that she hadn’t done the same to you?!” Clive spat at them. His eyes showed not an ounce of belief.Bookmark here

“Because… I, I only used it on you in a moment of weakness, because I was afraid….” Maribell looked away, unsure of what to say.Bookmark here

The two former friends looked at her like she was crazy.Bookmark here

“A moment of weakness? We were trying to protect you!”Bookmark here

“You had our trust, but you broke it by possessing Clive!”Bookmark here

Their thoughts, however, told Maribell something completely different.Bookmark here

I want nothing to do with that grimoire! Not after all the pain I’ve endured!Bookmark here

As if I’ll let you seduce Clive back to you!Bookmark here

Ever since Maribell was able to hear their thoughts, she heard nothing but doubts from them. That was the reason her heart become petrified, and words failed to escape her lips. But now, they burst forth like a crumbling dam, flowing with months of sorrow that had pooled up.Bookmark here

“Did you think that I was really using my Witch powers to hurt you?! Spells that make you bleed when you lie! Spells that turn the relationship we have into a farce! To turn my friends into puppets! Am I THAT KIND of person?! That I would crush the bonds that we shared?! AM I?!”Bookmark here

Maribell screamed at them, tears staining her cheeks. Baring her sorrow at the very thought of how little faith they had in her. She dropped to her knees as their accusatory thoughts bore down upon her, like lead weights upon her shoulders.Bookmark here

“I had no faith in either of you because of all the negativity in your minds. But I kept silent. Because it hurt. It hurt to find out.” Maribell’s voice fell to a whisper. “Even now, the two of you only think about how to save yourselves and your interests! I know, because I can hear them because of this stupid grimoire!”Bookmark here

Cassandra and Clive’s faces paled.Bookmark here

“Y-You can hear our thoughts? Why have you never said anything?” Clive asked.Bookmark here

“How am I supposed to tell you? When you tried so hard to hide the panic and put on a tough front? And how could I say that my best friend was jealous of all the attention you were giving me?” Maribell broke down in sobs.Bookmark here

Snazzy wrapped his tentacles together like a pair of folded arms. “Well, you guys better explain what the heck happened. As it stands now, I have no idea what’s going on. Go on, we have plenty of time out here.” Somehow, he felt like the adult in the room.Bookmark here

With that, each side started telling their story.Bookmark here

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On their final travel as Trifecta six months ago, the party was exploring some ruins far to the north, near beastkin territory. Some said that the monsters took on a strange behavior around the area, but no one knew why. A few teams of adventurers scoured the area, finding nothing after killing the crazed creatures. However, they kept coming back.Bookmark here

With it being Trifecta’s turn to take a stab at it, they went through the same procedure of ridding the area temporarily of enemies. At least, it made for good material drops to sell.Bookmark here

But then, Maribell happened to activate a glowing magic circle on the ground. It activated out of nowhere, invisible until her feet tread well into the center of it.Bookmark here

But as the glow faded, her hand suddenly gripped the Grimoire of Lies. If she had known not to open it, then her troubles would have ended there. The magic circle only activated when a female magician with an affinity to it approached. And opening the book sealed the contract.Bookmark here

By simply undoing the clip, a dark aura escaped from the grimoire and swirled around her. Instantly, Maribell realized her error in judgment and screamed.Bookmark here

Her companions, well within earshot, heard her shriek and raced to the scene. But they too looked on in horror as they witnessed the birth of a Witch. They didn’t want to believe their eyes, but every child had read fairy tales about the Witches and what harm they did to the world.Bookmark here

For Clive, his heart, in particular, sank into conflict. He watched his hometown burn to the ground after a Witch came by and infected its residents with a madness of hatred for each other over the most trivial of things. Arguments broke out, then fists, and finally, the fresh scent of blood and fire filled the nose of a seven-year-old Clive. He swore that he would get revenge on the Witch of Madness, who carried the Grimoire of Antipathy.Bookmark here

That was why the transformation of Maribell, the woman he cared for, in a Witch nearly broke his soul. At first, he was determined to keep her safe and the grimoire she possessed a secret. He put on a brave front and told bold faced lies, all to reassure Maribell that he was on her side.Bookmark here

Hearing all of Clive’s inner thoughts run completely opposite, Maribell couldn’t bear it. She couldn’t face Clive tearing himself up to protect her. Talking to him wouldn’t work either, as she soon found herself unable to lie. Her silence exacerbated the already terrible trajectory Clive was spiraling towards. Finally, she gave into her fears and cracked open her grimoire.Bookmark here

Looking for some form of relief, she cast Vanidicus. She wanted Clive to tell her how he truly felt. Maribell wanted the statements to come out of his lips rather than simply think them. But the Grimoire of Lies did far more than just that.Bookmark here

“We have to kill Cassandra. She cannot keep a secret like this.” The words just sprung from Clive’s mouth not long after the spell. Cassandra, who was in the other room, heard everything. And even Clive, after hearing himself say such a horrible thing, wanted to hang himself.Bookmark here

But it was Cassandra that shifted the blame to Maribell. All this time, she watched in jealousy as Clive attended to her best friend. She was in love with Clive, but the incident made it clear to her that he held Maribell in much higher regard than their own safety.Bookmark here

And Cassandra had seen what Maribell had done. She was convinced that an evil tried to destroy them all.Bookmark here

“Clive, she has ensnared you with the Grimoire of Lies. She cannot be trusted anymore. The powers of the Demon Lord have corrupted her and turned her into a slave! She is now a Witch, Clive! Stop tearing yourself up over her. She is no longer our friend!”Bookmark here

Jealousy, fear, rage, betrayal – these thoughts filled their minds and horrified Maribell. Cassandra and Clive had taken a drastic turn. They now viewed her as a Witch, a horrible being that would commit the same atrocities as others. Meanwhile, Maribell was struck silent, unable to speak a word at the growing shadows that clouded her companions’ eyes and ears.Bookmark here

Make a person speak of his inner fears and watch as they tear him apart.Bookmark here

That was a warning written for those who cast Vanidicus upon people with fragile minds. A person without a strong hold on wild emotions would end up consumed by them.Bookmark here

And now, Clive had discarded the love for Maribell and only saw the Witch. That was the only way for him to salvage his own self-destruction. Drawing his blade, he and Cassandra marched forward to kill her.Bookmark here

It was a perfect storm of miscommunication, cowardice, and poor decisions. But to Maribell, losing her closest friends meant that the world had abandoned her.Bookmark here

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For the first time in six months, Clive and Cassandra heard what Maribell had thought during those times. Their expressions softened as they recalled the crybaby she was as a child that refused to share anything until it had spiraled out of control.Bookmark here

And then they realized, the sobbing person before them was no evil purposefully aimed at them. Maribell hadn’t changed at all. They were the ones that did. The grimoire had given Maribell new abilities that were inexcusably dangerous. But it was Cassandra and Clive’s changes in attitude towards her that created the situation in which she used the forbidden spell.Bookmark here

They had been so caught up in her betrayal that they never saw the reason why.Bookmark here

Maribell got up and wiped away her tears. She fetched Clive’s sword and dropped it before the man, turning her back on them. “Snazzy, let them go. I’m done running. If they want to kill me even after all this, then I’m fine with that. I’m tired. I want it to end.”Bookmark here

Cassandra and Clive had only remained still because the threat of Maribell and Snazzy’s abilities were so overwhelming. They had long recovered from the exhaustion of battle.Bookmark here

“But Onee-san, I can’t agree to that. I swore to protect-”Bookmark here

“You want me to believe in others, right? To make them think that Witches are not the bad people they make them out to be. Then, show me that you’re right. Convince me that there is still some hope in this world.”Bookmark here

With that, Maribell waited for her fate. She heard Cassandra and Clive shuffle to their feet. And then, the sound of a sword clinked in its shaft. Two hands gripped her shoulders, before two heads rested upon either side of her own.Bookmark here

“I think that we both need some time to cool down, to rethink a few things. About you, about us,” Clive said, giving up on his vengeance.Bookmark here

Cassandra relaxed as well, kicking the dirt with her feet. Their broken relationship had mended the slightest bit, but it would take some time for them to come to terms with everything.Bookmark here

After all, Maribell was still a Witch that carried the Grimoire of Lies. Who knew what she planned to do with it? But for now, they would hold onto the feeling that their friend was still sound of mind.Bookmark here

“So, what do you plan to do now?” Cassandra asked, unsure of how to speak to Maribell.Bookmark here

“Find another Witch, figure out if this bond can be severed, and I don’t know… just live,” Maribell responded, tears of relief in her eyes. For the first time in a while, a heavy weight had been lifted.Bookmark here

“Another Witch, huh? We heard rumors of one in the Kingdom of Roswalia, wayyy to the east. Some colony she’s built up or something. We hit up a few tracks but gave up after the Witch’s description didn’t sound like you.” Clive scratched his head as he tried to remember the details, but that was all he could recall.Bookmark here

“Another Witch to the east? How did you two find that out?” Snazzy interjected.Bookmark here

“Huh, who else? Probably the same person that guided you to the White Witch rumor. That beastkin lady, the owner of the fancy pub,” Cassandra nonchalantly said.Bookmark here

Maribell and Snazzy looked at them in surprise. Madame Jacoux had some explaining to do!
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