Meanwhile, Kirihime repeatedly cursed her own powerlessness.
Back when Ryou was cleaning in the study, Kirihime had noticed hostile presence near the mansion. In order to bait them, Kirihime sent Ryou away.
But from then on, her plan had gone way off the track.
A group of men in black suit broke into her study through the window and Kirihime quickly took the decoration swords, which were actually real swords. She tried to defend herself while waiting for Ryou to come, because she painfully aware that she was ill-suited for combat. She only could rely on her luck.
But Ryou didn’t come for her, despite her scream for help when she was overwhelmed and taken away.
She was tied and dragged into a carriage, while most of her attackers left her to help their comrades, leaving only two of them to drive the carriage away.
Even so, Kirihime didn’t want to simply sit around and waiting to be taken away. She had skillfully unraveled the bound on her hands and forced her way out of the speeding carriage.
Unfortunately, to be exact, Kirihime was ill-suited for any physical activity. She was born a lady and a scientist, a very indoor-type person. So, when Kirihime crashed outside the carriage, she barely managed to take few steps before getting caught again by one of the artificial Mazoku.
This time she was accompanied by one of the Mazoku inside the carriage, preventing her from doing the same stunt again. Thus Kirihime could only lament her lack of physical ability while waiting impatiently for Ryou to come and save her. In her mind, there was no such possibility that Ryou was defeated by those Mazoku.
Suddenly the carriage stopped. Kirihime took a peek from the window and saw a big mansion in the middle of the woods.
“Seriously, what’s with noble’s mansion and woods? Though I can’t really complain since my mansion is also surrounded by woods...” Kirihime thought.
The Mazoku who accompanied her opened the door and blindfolded Kirihime before carrying her into the mansion.
Being carried like a sack of flour and blindfolded made Kirihime completely lost her sense of direction. She quietly cursed her useless and powerless self who could only rely on Ryou’s help.
“No...even though I’m useless, at least I still can rely on my hearing.” Kirihime encouraged herself.
She could hear those men walked downstairs into a basement.
“Seriously? Basement again?” Kirihime couldn’t help but remember the last time she went into a secret basement with Ryou.
Suddenly she was put on a chair and tied on that chair. The next second, someone took off her blindfold and Kirihime automatically narrowed her eyes, trying to adjust them to the bright room.
No, more like the bright underground laboratory.
Kirihime cast a glance around the laboratory that looked so much like Akatsu’s lab, from the highly advanced machines and shelves full of strange chemicals to rows of human-sized tube filled with half-developed artificial Mazoku. Surrounding Kirihime was a group of artificial Mazoku. Though they all had that empty eyes, they looked more life-like than the ones Akatsu had created.
“Welcome to my laboratory, Kirihime-sama. Or should I call you [Mazoku Princess]?”
A man clothed in black formal attire emerged from those Mazoku. He was well-built with pitch-black hair. Even without looking at his blood-red eyes, Kirihime could tell from his bloodlust that he was undoubtedly a demon, and a strong one at that.
“You...are you one of the seven demon prince?” Kirihime glared at him.
“Ho...as expected from the so-called Mazoku Princess. Even though you’re just a puny human, your knowledge is really terrifying. As you said, I’m Kurokage, the first and strongest demon prince. Nice to meet you.” Kurokage gave a polite bow unbefitting of a demon.
Kirihime frowned. “If you’re planning on talking politely, you might as well untie me and talk things out. Otherwise you might regret it when my butler came for me.”
But unexpectedly, Kurokage laughed. “Your butler? You mean the first artificial Mazoku, Satomi Ryou? I’m sorry to say this, but he doesn’t stand a chance against my army of artificial Mazoku. While it’s true that they were still incomplete, I’ve imparted my intelligence upon them, making them undefeated in battle.” Kurokage boasted.
Kirihime gritted her teeth in irritation. “There’s no way Ryou would lose to those soulless doll—”
Before she could finish, Kurokage had already closing on her and grabbed her chin, forcefully lifting her face and stared intently at her eyes.
“Rather than worrying about your servant, shouldn’t you be worried about yourself, [Princess]?” He said in deadly tone.
Kirihime returned his gaze fearlessly. “What do you mean?”
Kirihime flinched when she heard the name.
“Daughter of a wealthy noble who married the head of Kojou Clan. I heard she was a cheerful, warm person. Is that true, Kirihime-sama?” Kurokage let go of Kirihime with an evil glint in his eyes.
Kirihime clenched her fist. “...don’t ask me.”
“Hm? Why shouldn’t I? After all, you’re her daughter, right? Kojou Kirihime-sama?” Kurokage smirked.
“...shut up.” Kirihime whispered bitterly.
“It would be understandable if she died right after you were born, but she took care of you for few years! Isn’t it a bit cold if you don’t remember anything about her?” Kurokage tilted his head.
“Shut up...!” Blood slowly dripped from her bleeding palm.
“Ah, could it be her death was too painful for you, so you forget all about her? I heard she died when your mansion was attacked by robbers, but some said different things, you know. Some said she was involved in accident during an experiment and died along with her husband, some said she herself was a subject to that experiment, and some even said that...” Kurokage wore a malicious smile. “...her own daughter killed her.”
“Shut up!!!” Kirihime whipped her head up and glared daggers at him.
Her expression looked like she’d kill him without any hesitation if she wasn’t tied to the chair.
“Don’t talk about Mother like that!! What do you even know about her anyway?! You don’t know a single thing, you...!!” Kirihime snapped at him.
“Watch your mouth, [Princess].” Suddenly Kurokage grabbed her face and let out even greater bloodlust. “Don’t forget your position here.”
“Then why did you kidnap me?! Only to make fun of me and my mother?!” Kirihime snarled at him, unaffected by his threat.
“Well, it’s true that I look down to humans like your mother, but not you. You know why? Because you have something I want.” Kurokage tapped her forehead lightly.
“Let me guess.” Kirihime said bitterly. “You were saying ‘I admit that my dolls are defective and I need you to perfect them’. Well I’m not sorry but I’d rather die than helping you!! Both Mazoku and artificial Mazoku aren’t supposed to exist in this world!” She spat those words in his face.
Kurokage narrowed his eyes and all his fake politeness and warmness melted away from his face, replaced by anger and humiliation.
“If that’s how you feel, then I’ll gladly grant your wish.” Kurokage let her go and snapped his fingers at his Mazoku.
One of them took out a katana and handed it to Kurokage, who unsheathed the katana carefully.
“Pretty, isn’t it?” Kurokage referred to the patterns on the blade. “For your information, your knight won’t come. He never will. I’ve collected his battle data and came up with a strategy to defeat him. But no need to worry. You’ll be able to see him again soon enough.”
Kirihime shook her head with a stubbornness of a child. “Ryou will come!! He will definitely come!! He promised to me that he will stay by my side! That’s why, Ryou will come and save me!”
“Interesting.” Kurokage smirked. “Let’s see if you can still say that after I tortured you until an inch from your death. I’ll be happy to hear you pleading for your life!”
Kurokage raised his katana and swung it down.
“Ryou...!!” Kirihime shut her eyes tightly in fear.
“Tch!! Why is it so hard to kill even one of them?!” Ryou clicked his tongue as he evaded the barrages of attacks.
Ryou hated to admit it, but those Mazoku were on a league of their own compared to Akatsu’s Mazoku. They weren’t just faster and stronger, they were also better at making strategy and adapting to Ryou’s attacks. This time Ryou really wished he had comrades to back him up.
“No!! This isn’t the time for daydreaming! I should focus and defeat them as quickly as possible!” Ryou scolded himself.
Ryou tried to blind them with fire and lasers, but the same attack wouldn’t work twice. They simply put up a magical barrier and continued their attacks.
“There’s no time!! I had to save Kirihime or else...!” Ryou suddenly saw himself running to Kirihime’s side, only to find her lying on the floor with blood around her. Her eyes were empty and lifeless, her body cold and still. “I don’t want to see Kirihime die...! There’s only one thing I could do...”
Ryou turned his hands into giant fists and smashed the ground, making a deep pitfall out of nowhere. Those Mazoku couldn’t react in time and they all fell into the pit.
At that moment, Ryou shifted back his hands and closed his eyes.
“Body Transformation.” Ryou whispered. “Sorry, Kirihime...”
The next second, a giant two-headed dragon appeared above those Mazoku. His two mouths opened and roared loudly.
The sole creature that ruled over time and space, a powerful being that born from Ryou’s imagination and hellish training.
They finally reached the bottom of the pit and those Mazoku quickly regrouped to fight their transformed enemy.
Ryou’s dragon body was covered with metallic scales that gave off faint silver light, as if he was—or maybe he really was—the beacon of hope in the darkness. His tail, which was covered in thorns as hard as diamond, moved with high speed and broke those Mazoku’s formation.
Realizing how big of a threat he was, those Mazoku scattered and kept their distance while throwing ball of energy and bladed weapons at Ryou. Fortunately, thanks to his anti-magic scales, none of those attacks hurt him. Furthermore, Ryou opened one of his mouths and shot out a miniature black hole.
His opponents, who were more of watch-and-learn type, immediately got sucked in. No matter how fast they were, the black hole’s gravitation mercilessly dragged every last one of them inside.
The other head which ruled over time manipulated the time flow and Ryou finally found the timeframe when Kirihime was taken away. By tracing their movements, Ryou was able to pinpoint Kirihime’s location.
Flawlessly finishing his task, Ryou transformed back into human and instantly collapsed on the ground. This was one of the reasons why Ryou kept his transformation as his trump card. The energy he needed to transform was ridiculously enormous and rendered him unable to move for a while.
Ryou allowed himself to take a breath and the memory of the other reason flashed across Ryou’s mind.
“Are you stupid?! An idiot?! How many times should I tell you until you understand?!” Kirihime berated the kneeling Ryou in front of her.
“S-Sorry...I thought it’s possible to do that...so I decided to try it...” Ryou lowered his face.
Ryou, who tried to transform into a lion, was able to do it in just one try. But he didn’t expect his power to almost go out of control like the first time and as the result, Ryou had destroyed half of the mansion before Kirihime got him under control again.
Kirihime glared at him, but she had said everything she wanted to say. “Next time, make an official announcement if you’re going to experiment. If needed, you may shout it from the top of the roof, so everyone could evacuate beforehand.” Kirihime said sarcastically.
“...yes.” Ryou held back his tongue.
“Geez...who’s the scientist here, I wonder.” Kirihime muttered furiously.
Since then, Ryou would train under Kirihime’s supervision and finally controlled his transformation. Even so, Kirihime forbid him from doing it frequently.
“But why?! You know I got it under control—I won’t lose control anymore! Trust me, Kirihime!” Ryou demanded.
“It’s not a matter of trust.” Kirihime cut him flatly. “Your ability—Body Manipulation—is a very rare ability. Thus, I cannot find out for sure how long you can stay in your other form until you were forced to revert back into human, or maybe you couldn’t revert back and trapped in that form forever.”
Ryou paled when he heard the risk of using transformation skill.
“Well, ultimately the decision is in your hand whether you use it or not. But it would be too much of a hassle if I had to find a new butler.” Kirihime shrugged without much care.
Ryou forced a weak smile when he understood what Kirihime implied—I don’t want to lose you.
“I, too, don’t want to lose you, Kirihime.” Ryou thought in present time. “So please, hang on until I come...”