Senia opened her eyes wide. Carr shook his head once and pulled her hand toward him, forcing her into the bed.
Her blue eyes shook with embarrassment. Carr continued to look at her with his mouth shut. He didn’t know exactly what she did as part of her role as a saint, but she was also young to bear such a great burden.
He wanted to tell her to go home and rest, but Carr couldn’t talk to her. Mouth open, he agonized over how to deliver the message. Senia looked back at him puzzled while Carr hesitated for a moment before he placed his free hand on her head. Her body tensed when he patted her head twice.
It was a comforting gesture that he could only think of.
Carr got off from his bead, leaving the still tense Senia alone. He leaned back against the wall before sitting in the round chair a few steps away. When he closed his eyes to go back to sleep, a comfortable stillness settled in the chamber.
Senia, who was left alone in a big bed, studied Carr for long time. Carr continued to sleep, his face expressionless. She thought that he would have frowned and throw her out or at least make her exchange time in the room for a night of sex. This exceeded Senia’s expectations. Moreover, the sweet pat on her head was also unexpected. Senia’s face, which still she looked at Carr, heated again. She quickly turned away to hide her reaction, but luckily he’d closed his eyes.
Senia curled up in the middle of the bed and hugged the blanket tightly. The sheets were clean and cozy as the bedding was replaced daily with breakfast. Moreover, she could smell Carr’s scent on the bed since he’d been sleeping there moments ago. His scent put her at ease, perhaps because they were together almost every night.
“Mister Carr… are you really evil?”
Carr heard the question but he couldn’t answer it. However, the fact that Senia’s voice had become calmer than the before was a small comfort for him.
“Thank you.” Senia murmured into the silence before her eyes closed her eyes gently. Soon only calm breathing could be heard. She didn’t know if it belonged to her or Carr, but for let her forget what happened that day for a short time.
“I didn’t get to know anything about her at all.” Carr muttered into the empty room two days later.
He didn’t regret what happened, but honestly, he was still disappointed.
“Well… if she needs more power or something, she will come back.”
After his meal, Carr exercised lightly. Since the place was his, there was no one to complain. He did sit-ups and push-ups despite the limited space but it was better than doing nothing. It was familiar routine as strength and stamina were his means of survival when he lived outside of the solitary cell.
Hours later, after he started exercising, the iron door opened unannounced just as he pulled his shirt over his chin.
“Huh, you still look depressed.”
Carr’s expectations, which had momentarily lifted, were brutally trampled on. His was Arte, who beckoned him to sit down. Carr stood calmly hiding his disappointment.
“Let’s talk for a minute.”
“As you please.”
Never taught about manners or etiquette, Carr sat comfortably on his soft bed as Arte had no intention of sitting there. However, the older man still frowned at his rudeness. Arte sat down on the round chair trying to maintain a solemn expression.
Arte, the archbishop of the church serving the sun god Acronix, was an old man with gray hair and a white beard. He possessed a solemn atmosphere. The total number of demons that he had killed already well past the double digits and would have included Carr if it weren’t for Senia.
The two sat facing each other and Arte was the first to speak.
“You boy, you said that you were a mercenary when you lived outside, right?”
“Because there was nothing else I could do.”
“So, you have good knowledge about the world and geography?”
“Well… I know enough. Not many people wanted to do business with the devil so I didn’t have a lot of options for work and got ripped off allot. I usually had to try many places before I could find work. I used to travel around aimlessly without a desinationed, so I have pretty good memory for places.”
Most of interactions Carr had were with blacksmiths who traded goods regardless of race and were willing to deal with criminals. He’d hand over the monster’s horn or leathery hide that he got from hunting but rarely if ever got paid for it. He could never argue with their response to his complaint, “If you are dissatisfied, go to the shopping district.”
Arte stroked his beard and frowned. It was a good answer but he couldn’t be happy about it.
“How much do you know about the loner devil?”
“You don’t know. Well, let me tell you. They are demons who live in hiding on earth outside of society and rejected like you. There are many reasons for their existence, but in most cases, the mothers were tricked by demons pretending to be human. You can be sure the women were shocked upon discovery.”
Carr watched Arte with a grave expression, but was not surprised by the priest’s revelation.
“It’s the first time I heard about it, I’ve never seen a devil other than myself.”
“Of course, that is the case. Originally, devils were exiled to the underworld after being defeated in a war with humans 300 years ago. Only a few of them have violated those rules and stayed on earth.”
“I’ve never heard of that either.”
“You’re as ignorant as I’d been told.” With a heavy sigh, Arte continued, “Let me get to the point. I need you to take Senia back to the temple.”
“If it’s that temple… I’ve heard the location, but why me? I’m sure there’s other better people since we are in the capital city. What’s more, she’s a saint?”
“I guess ignorance doesn’t mean you don’t have any sense. That’s good. I’ll explain it to you clearly.” Arte stroked his white beard slowly, wondering where to begin.
“300 years ago, there was a person called the Holy Lady who ended the great war against the devil. Unlike a common saint, like Senia, she was blessed by all seven gods and had the power to do infinite miracles. After winning the final battle and bringing peace to humanity, the Holy Lade closed her eyes to human life. However, demons are still living on the ground and tormenting humanity in all sort of cunning ways. Do you understand so far?”
“Now 300 years later, I have discovered way to bring back the Holy Lady, a miracle in which seven saints, blessed by each god, stand in the temple. If that happens, the Holy Lady will be revived and the devil completely uprooted from the earth. Usually, one or two gods will not having living saints, but at this moment all seven saints are alive as if by god’s will.”
“Right. So why me?”
“There are two reasons. First, there is a risk if we escort her openly. If anyone found out that the purpose of her journey is for the resurrection of the Holy Lady, it would cause the disturbance not just by demons on earth but also those hiding underground. The journey has to be done as quietly as possible under the guide of a pilgrimage. Even most of the priests won’t be aware of this this. And the second is…I chose you as her companion because of Saint Senia’s curse. Do you have any other questions?”
“I don’t think I have a choice in this, but aren’t you worried I’d run away or do something to her?”
“Hmph. That’s why I’m here to talk to you personally. You devils are always crazy about contracts, right? If you can safely take the lady back to temple, I will grant you any wish of your choosing. Except, of course, for anything that would cost a human life.”
“Wish?” Carr responded with a quivering voice. Arte on the other hand glared back at Carr, showing his blatant hostility. He didn’t seem to be that happy about granting him a wish.
“Why don’t we just put an end to this?”
“We are of the same mind about this unpleasant matter, but let me be honest with you. This is what the saint wanted.”
“I think it’s the devil’s work and you must have tricked her somehow. Anyway, just tell me your wish.”
A wish. The thought appealed to Carr. Moreover, as long as the saints could do it, he could wish for anything. Carr hesitated for a moment, stretched his neck, and slowly opened his mouth.
“For a devil… is it possible to become an ordinary human?”
Arte frowned to hide his surprise. It was a wish that he hadn’t expected. The devil wanted to be human? He was too old to bother to inquire about Carr’s true intentions. After all the devil excelled at lying and mischief. Arte couldn’t not believe anything the devil said.
Arte shook off the doubts in his head and answered Carr’s question faithfully.
“It isn’t easy to change a species already determined by god. It is a miracle that neither the saint not the archbishop has ever been granted…”
“I see. I expected that answer.”
“…but it’s possible for the Holy Lady who possesses all the gods’ blessings.” Arte provided the additional detail to Carr in an attempt to soothe his disappointment.
“When the trip is over and the Holy Lady resurrected safely, I will do everything I can to make your wish come true. I promise you this on my divinity and the name of the sun god, Acronix.”
It was more serious oath for priest than just swearing on one’s life. If they break their promise, they will not only lose all their divinity but also be cursed for defaming the god’s name.”
Carr didn’t know the details but he could tell that Arte was sincere. His red eyes glistened and he said seriously, “Okay. I’ll do it.”
“Then the conversation end there. You’ll be leaving tomorrow, so don’t stay up all night.”
“Wait a minute. May I ask you one more question, if I may?”
“What is it?” Arte, who was about to rise from his chair, stopped moving and raised his head.
Carr hesitated for a moment.
“Tell me about her.” Her visit last night had sparked his curiosity. “…the saint Senia?”
“Why are you curious?”
“Just. She looks like a special person.”
“Special…” Arte repeated Carr’s words. He couldn’t deny it.
Special. Extraordinary. Unique. All those words could describe Senia.
Arte took a deep breath and sighed. He lifted his hand and swept it over his face. Perhaps, because of Carr’s question, the wrinkles on his forehead seemed to deepen even more.
“I will answer you with a personal grudge.” Arte’s eyes, which hand been closed, opened with murderous intent, “I want to kill you right now. Why do you think that is so?”
“….because I’m a devil?”
“It is something that more than that. Saint Senia… Senia is my granddaughter.” Arte’s face darkened in barely suppressed rage. Carr gulped and had no choice but to keep his mouth shut.
It was clear he had made an enemy of Arte’s for reasons beyond the fact he was a demon.
Noticing Carr’s troubled reaction, Arte released a deep sigh. With his hands still folded, he dropped his gaze to his feet and said somberly, “Nurture and nature are not always the same, but it is no exaggeration to say that the child was born to be a saint. She’s ridiculously pure and doesn’t know how to be mean to others. Tto believe in the sincerity of all the dirty demon like you. I think it’s ludicrous.”
Arte stopped talking suddenly and took a moment to calm himself.
“When she was a child, she lost her parents to a devil. Three years ago she was cursed to fight a devil and ended up giving herself to the devil but she never said that she hated the devil. Could you do that? Can you understand her? As the only person sitting in the position as archbishop, you make me nervous. It worries me that someone like you could play games with the fate of my son and granddaughter..!”
Arte’s hands and feet were shaking hard. Carr could see that he was struggling to hold back his anger. There was nothing he could say and so he closed his mouth quietly. There was no admiration, no denial or even an answer.
“I should oppose this trip, but Senia is steadfast in her will as a saint.” Arte muttered faintly.
There was an indescribable sadness weighing on his hunched back. Carr thought of Senia’s face for a moment and opened his mouth.
“I know this is a devils’ words and you can’t trust it, but I will try not to cause any mishaps.”
“You are good at stating the obvious. Of course, you should do that. Because if anything happens to Senia, you there will be no peaceful death for you.”
Arte left the solitary cell after saying that his restriction on speaking to Senia would not be taken off. Carr laid on his bed, waiting for tomorrow. He was a little excited to think to leave the underground chamber and see the sun again.
Then the next morning, Senia arrived. She wore a dress, a hat and a cape. Senia smiled as she caught Carr standing up.
“Have you slept well? Thank you for agreeing to being a member of my company? All the luggage that was taken when you came here is ready for you. “Thank you.”
Carr answered with a nod of his head. After a month and a half of being trapped inside the cell, he tried to make his way toward the exit, but Senia promptly blocked him.
“Excuse me for a moment.”
Instead of explaining, Senia clasped a small gold pendant on her neck with both hands. She said few lines of prayer. A mysterious light spread out from the pendant. The dazzling white light moved through Carr’s body and then faded away.
Not knowing what happened, Carr touched his chest where the light entered. Senia was still smiling with a soft expression. She removed something small from her bag and showed it to him.
Facing the mirror, Carr did not initially realize that the person in it was himself. His face hadn’t changed at all, but one important thing had definitely changed. There were an ordinary pair of brown eyes.
Carr opened his eyes wide in surprise as he stared into the mirror. There were no red eyes that marked him as a devil. His eyes were the only indication of him being one, but the man in the mirror looked like an ordinary man who could be found in any village. Not a devil.
Senia carefully opened her mouth to address the still speechless Carr, “If it becomes known that you’re a demon, you’ll have trouble traveling. You may not like it, but I won’t use anymore miracle of this nature.”
Carr could not hear Senia.
For Carr who was born a demon but had neither the ability nor the mana nor twisted nature, a pair of red eyes was the only proof of his demonic origens. Even though he never harmed a single human, he had been persecuted for 25 years.
Of course, he had thought about deceiving people by changing the color of his eyes, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. The drugs made by the wizards did not win against his devil blood and the effects vanished immediately. Carr hand been once swindled out of a lot of money before he learned this lesson. Usually demons could maintain the effect with their own mana, but Carr had none and so it was impossible for him. He’d given up.
The impossible had happened today. No ordinary priest could have achieved this change, but Senia did not fall into that category. Remembering that she was a saint, Carr laughed dejectedly. Innumerable emotions warred inside of him in a jumbled, complex mess..
He looked both sad and happy. Senia looked at him blankly. By the time her cheeks had turned red by the time Carr stopped stopped admiring himself in the mirror and pushed it away.
“Ah, uh, do you like it? I can return you to the way you were before.”
Carr, who wore a blank expression, nods his head and then gave a slight shake toward Senia. There were no words, but he felt grateful.
Senia hide her red face and put the mirror back in her bag.
“Then, can I call you Carr from now on?”
Carr nodded before he walked out. Senia didn’t follow him straight away but stood in the solitary cell, staring at the floor.
“Laughing… he was laughing,” she muttered to herself
What ever for? Her heart quickened slightly at that memory.
Contrary to Carr’s expectation that the saint would receive a grand farewell, the two fled the church early in the morning to escape the notice of the people. Arte was the only one present to bid them farewell. She advised him that at this time of the morning, the priests would be busy doing their own things. Later she started to speak with him as a way to pass the time.
Carr couldn’t answer her but still listened carefully and focused his attention on her.
“If it’s the temple, we’ll be there in a month.”
On the way, there would be many small and large villages. Itwas an easy journey for Carr who had travelled this way many times without a map. Senia followed him blindly. It was the first time she tranvelled alone without an entourage of church officials.
The journey held many curiosities for the Saint.
“I– Carr… is that a sword?” Senia asked when they turned onto a secluded road.
Unlike an ordinary swordsmen, Carr wore his sword on his back, instead of as his waist. It was three times larger than any sword Senia had ever seen. It was much too long to hang on his waist.
Carr nodded silently to her when she wondered if it really a swingable object. Senia exclaimed excitedly with a face pure of admiration.
“Wow! That’s great. I knew that demons were much stronger than humans, but… because we’ve been using divinity, we haven’t seen them carrying weapon like that.”
She didn’t say it directly but after a month, Carr could tell that Senia was excited. Her blue eyes that twinkled with curiosity were clearer and bluer than the bright, cloudless sky. Carr quickly turned his gaze away to stop his wondering thoughts.