Chapter 14:

The Bitter Truth

My Knight

“Hmm...where should I begin...” Maou pondered for a moment.
“Kojou Clan...are you the founder? Are you the one who built those laboratories and turned humans into Mazoku? Are you the [nobleman] that those scientists were talking about?” Ryou barraged him with many questions.
Maou laughed. “You sure don’t waste your time. Yes, I’m the one who made Kojou Clan. You see, I need a front to plant my influence in the human world, and I found out that a noble family is the best option out there. That’s why the members of Kojou Clan were only me, Emilia, and Kirihime. Though now only Kirihime remained.”
“So the clan’s sole purpose is to fund those experiments?” Ryou looked surprise.
“Of course. Everything I did in the human world is solely for creating the ultimate army of artificial Mazoku. Including taking another noble woman as my wife. I’ve been very interested in true Mazoku, you know, because I thought that only a Mazoku could understand another Mazoku.” Maou seemed carefree.
“I was pretty disappointed when Emilia had a baby girl, but I immediately changed my mind when that baby girl displayed her genius traits before she even reached the age of one year.” Maou smiled gleefully. “Such terrifying intelligent and talent as researcher, paired with her ability to control the heart of others, is exactly what I’m looking for.”
Kirihime joined them and put their cups of tea. She sat while making Ryou took a sip from his cup. He glanced at Kirihime and saw her wearing some kind of medieval black dress, with complicated frills and ties. It must be Maou’s hobby.
“Her mother...why would you kill her mother?” Ryou demanded.
“Because she’s an obstacle, of course.” Maou said in a matter-of-fact tone. “When she knew what I was planning, she tried to run away with the three-years-old Kirihime. What a foolish act. I killed her and took Kirihime back. Simply covering it up as murder by robber is enough.”
Ryou felt Kirihime tensed and noticed drops of blood on the wooden floor. Kirihime had clenched her fist so tight that her nails dug into her palm and hurt herself.
“After that, I forbid Kirihime from going out of the mansion and gave her everything she needed to study about Mazoku.” Maou continued without any guilt in his voice. “I went back to the demon realm and left few servants to take care of her. A king couldn’t leave his throne for too long, you see.”
Ryou gasped when he remembered Kirihime’s reaction whenever he asked her about her life before she met him. Now he understood that Kirihime couldn’t possibly tell him that she was being looked after by demon servants.
“When Kirihime turned 14, she finally completed the serum to turn human into Mazoku. So, as you said, I built those laboratories. But Kirihime was the one who planned everything. She gave order to those scientists and hired soldiers to kidnap test subjects. I only came once in a while to check in on her. I guess that’s why those scientists referred to her as [noble] and me as [that man].” Maou lost in his thoughts for a moment.
Ryou glanced at Kirihime and saw her hiding her face under her hair, which—now Ryou realized—was the same color of Maou’s hair.
“So that’s why I had that misunderstanding. The scientists were talking about different persons after all. But even I had to admit...” Ryou lowered his face. “It is painful to hear that Kirihime is the one who burned down my village and everything that I knew.”
“Then, one year later, she found you.” Maou suddenly continued with a wide smile on his face. “Even I never expected that she would yield such result in a very short time. But unfortunately, you rejected the absolute obedience that the serum forced on you and on top of that, you lost control of your power.”
Ryou still felt goosebumps whenever he remembered that stormy night.
“Well, thankfully, Kirihime was able to help you control it. To make things even better, you didn’t know that she was the one who turned you into Mazoku. Seriously, I can’t decide whether you were too naïve or she was too good in acting.” Maou shook his head in amusement.
“Don’t worry.” Ryou gritted his teeth. “It’s my fault. Kirihime was never that good in acting after all.”
Kirihime whipped her head and shot a surprised look at Ryou. He guessed that she must have thought that Ryou hated her, who had plunged him into the world of demons and Mazoku.
“Then, guess what? Not so long after, another lab produced the same result! Isn’t my daughter impressive?!” Maou clapped his hand. “What’s his name now...I totally forgot...”
“Kushu.” Kirihime spoke up for the first time. “Shinta Kushu.”
Ryou gasped, though he should’ve guessed it.
“Ah, right, right. That Kushu boy. Kirihime went to see him, but just like you, he refused to obey his creator and destroyed the lab instead. Though he didn’t go berserk like you, he did see Kirihime and concluded that she was his creator. Knowing that he couldn’t win, that boy ran away and apparently waited to take his revenge.” Maou looked at Ryou. “You have my gratitude for protecting my daughter from him, Ryou.”
“I’m not...” Ryou gritted his teeth. “...doing this for you.”
Maou smirked. “Of course you’re not.”
“Fake...he’s all fake.” Ryou thought. “Everything he said, everything he did, was all fake. He used a mask to hide his bloodlust and played the nice guy, waiting for his victims to fall for his trap. Even though Kirihime deceived me for a whole year, I know that she would never do this. Kirihime that I knew...Kirihime that I protected...Kirihime that I real. She’s not a fake.”
“Then you know the rest. I took Kirihime back to her real home and you miraculously followed her here. End of story.” Maou finished his story.
“...home? You called this place her home?” Ryou asked in disbelief.
“In case you don’t know or simply ignore it, I’m the daughter of the demon king. By all right, this place is my home.” Kirihime flatly pointed out before Maou could answer.
Ryou once again looked around and felt piercing sadness in his chest. “No. This isn’t your home. A home is the place you decided for yourself. Not where you were taken by force and kept locked like a bird. This is not your home, Kirihime. Please, come with me. Let’s go home.” He pleaded.
Kirihime’s eyes met Ryou’s and he could see deep longing in her eyes. But she quickly averted her eyes, as if not allowing herself to feel such attachment.
“Go home?” Maou laughed. “She’s already home, Ryou. And soon enough, this will be your home as well.”
“No!!” Ryou struggled to stand. “I’ll take Kirihime home with me! That’s my duty as her knight!”
“Knight, you say?” Maou narrowed his eyes. “Funny, you remind me of someone who used to say exactly the same thing. Perhaps you’ve met him already. But it doesn’t matter now. Soon enough, you’ll be her perfect knight. Isn’t that what you want, Satomi Ryou?”
“Someone could be called knight because they decided to protect the person they thought as precious!!” Ryou fought against Kirihime’s will and forced himself to stand. “Protecting someone because they have no choice—that’s not a knight!!”
Maou’s face darkened. “Enough. You remind me too much of that man. Kirihime, throw him into the dungeon. We’ll deal with him later after we conquer the human world.” He ordered.
Kirihime hesitated for a second, then she nodded. “Yes, Father.”
She directed her gaze to Ryou and bent Ryou’s will once again, controlling his body as she wished. She turned around and started walking to the door, followed obediently by Ryou.
“And don’t take too long. I want the human world in my hand before sunset.” Maou added.
“As you wish.” Kirihime replied in emotionless tone.

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