Chapter 16:

Just One More Time

My Knight

Kirihime arrived using the portal she made herself. Despite her frail appearance, Kirihime was a true Mazoku who had extraordinary strength and able to use magic.
She stood before a giant shrine, which was hidden among the rocky cliffs around her. This shrine could never be found by humans, because a certain spell had been cast to make sure only those with demon blood could find it.
With pale-white stones as its walls and ivy plants covered some parts of the walls, the shrine gave off the impression of an everlasting beauty that could captivate anyone who saw it, no matter how much time had passed.
Shaking off the feelings that she was walking towards her own death, Kirihime steeled herself before entering the almost empty shrine. Only a man stood in the center room of the shrine, and a gigantic magic circle that almost covered the whole floor of the room.
“Ah, you finally came. I thought I must go get you myself.” Maou pointed.
“I apologized for the wait.” Kirihime stopped next to him.
“Then there’s no need to make me wait any longer. Start the ritual. With this magic circle, everyone would be changed into artificial Mazoku and fall under your control. That way, no one would ever be able to defy me!” Maou smiled greedily.
Kirihime stepped into the middle of the magic circle and errected a barrier to protect both the circle and herself. As long as Kirihime didn’t take down the barrier, no one could hurt her nor damage the circle. Then she closed her eyes and started chanting the spell.
“Even if this spell completed, Ryou won’t be harmed.” Kirihime thought as she chanted. “This is the only thing left to do. I never had the right to keep Ryou by my side. I’ve taken his home, his family, even his humanity. This atonement for him.”
But even after she closed her eyes, she still saw Ryou in her mind, running desperately to save her. Kirihime shook her head.
“No, even if Ryou’s hopelessly stupid, he’s not that stupid to come here and try to save me. He’d run away and hide somewhere until everything is over. So... wait for me, Ryou. I’ll correct this world and the fate of those who were born as Mazoku. Even if it cost my life.” Kirihime swore in her heart.
Suddenly Kirihime fell to her knees, but she didn’t stop her chant. She could no longer feel her leg, as if she had just lost both legs. Numbness started spreading from her legs to her whole body. When Kirihime fell, Maou realized something was off and quickly examined the magic circle. Then his eyes widened in shock.
“Kirihime!!! Stop your chant immediately!! This is an order!!” Maou shouted in anger and panic.
But Kirihime ignored him and kept chanting, weaving a spell that would erase demon blood in true Mazoku, making them fully human. Although that kind of spell would require a sacrifice—in other words, Kirihime’s life.
“Kirihime!!! You dare to disobey your father??!! Stop right now!!” Maou kept yelling, but Kirihime didn’t waver.
“I have to do this. I have to finish this. It’s for the sake of those who fell victim to the ruthless experiments. So that no one will be experimented anymore. So that Ryou...will be able to live as normal human...” Kirihime gasped when her chest felt a tinge of pain, when she wasn’t supposed to be able to feel anything.
Kirihime lifted her hand, which felt as heavy as metal, and put it on her chest, that was pounding wildly as if protesting.
“Why is it...that I can’t stop thinking about Ryou, even at times like this...? I can’t possibly—I don’t have the fall in love with him. He’s supposed to hate me, because I’ve taken everything from him. Even so, why am I keep wishing that he was here with me...? Why do I want to see him so badly? Why does my chest hurt so much when I think that we can’t meet anymore...?” Kirihime thought.
She clasped her hands tightly as if praying.
“I...want to see least one more time...before I die...” Kirihime wished earnestly.
Maou shouted once again, this time his voice was full with despair.
“Are you letting your mother’s sacrifice to be in vain?!”
Kirihime opened her eyes almost instantly and she turned to Maou. He paled when he saw her enraged face—all of her suppressed pain and sadness, all of her hidden anger and loneliness, Kirihime let all of them came out after many years.
“Do not bring my mother up!!! It was you who killed her, you monster!! Even so, you acted like she was the one who’s in fault!! What kind of husband are you?! On top of that, you locked me inside that mansion for more than ten years!! For what?! Just for your stupid ambition?! I’ve had enough!! I’ll destroy all that you had built for ages in one night!!! You’re not my father and you most definitely cannot tell me what to do!!” Kirihime shouted until her voice was hoarse.
Maou was taken aback by her outburst—his obedient, lifeless doll was now rebelling against him—and now she was really about to destroy everything he had worked for.
“You dare to disobey...!” Maou started to speak.
But Kirihime would never let him talk again.
“Open your eyes, idiot!! You’ve already lost! The spell will soon be completed and I will be dead!! No matter what you do, you can’t stop me anymore, you delusional demon king!! Just crawl back to your realm and stay put for a thousand years or more, old man!!!” Kirihime snapped.
“WHAT NOW?!” Kirihime snarled.
“And I thought all this time you were harsh. I seriously underestimate you.”
Kirihime paled while Maou quickly turned around in disbelief.
Ryou walked inside casually, smirking when he saw Kirihime’s reaction.
“R-Ryou...? But...why? You’re supposed to run away...” Kirihime stuttered.
“Are you kidding? There’s no way I can run away and leave my princess alone, right?” Ryou shrugged.
“Run away?” Maou narrowed his eyes. “What’s happening here? Why is he here? Most importantly, why is he human again?! Kirihime, what did you do?!”
Kirihime opened her mouth to answer him with more sarcasm—because sarcasm was the only answer to stupid questions—but she lost more strength from the chant and she slumped to the floor.
“Kirihime!!!” Ryou ran to her, but blocked by Maou.
“Don’t interfere, boy. I’m in a really bad mood right now.” Maou threatened in dangerous tone.
But instead of being scared, Ryou returned his stare with even more deadly stare. “Huh? That’s my line, old man. I’ll defeat you and save Kirihime. I won’t let her die.”
Ryou raised his voice. “Kirihime!! If I defeat Maou before you finish your chant, you have to stop the chant, okay?! I won’t forgive you if you die before me, you know!”
Though Kirihime still lie motionless, Ryou knew she could hear him. But Maou’s face darkened even further.
“You...You dare to belittle me?! You think you can defeat the strongest demon king in mere minutes?! As if I’ll stain my hand to squash an insect like you!!” Maou spreaded his jet-black, bat-like wings and flew up.
Then Maou waved his hand and the whole shrine shook.
“E-Earthquake...?!” Ryou grabbed the sword he took from the mansion.
But for a moment, nothing happened.
Ryou was still thinking on how to reach Maou when the a crack appeared on the shrine floor, few feets from Kirihime. The crack got bigger until Ryou could see a chasm under the floor. And from the crack, an army of zombies crawled out.

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