With just a glance, I recognized who that legless, pregnant large imp was. She was the imp who got captured because she tried to save me.
“You…” I wanted to ask her what happened but…there’s no need for that. It was obvious even without her saying.
“Mas…Master…” She weakly opened her eyes and smiled at us as she recognized who we were.
That smile…wasn’t beautiful at all.
“As long as you’re alive…”
No matter what, being alive was enough of a blessing already. Ever since she was captured, that look of blessing that she gave me as she was carried off had always haunted me. Whenever I thought of it, my chest would tighten up in sadness and my breathing would become constricted.
Now that she was finally in front of me, all I wanted to say to her was “Welcome back”.
With that emotional weight finally gone, I calmly walked up to her in order to check for any external injuries but for some reason, she seems scared. It was as if she didn’t want me to approach her.
Her eyes were barely able to contain the panic in them as I walked towards her. With her legs gone, all she could was drag herself away with both her arms.
“Master…please don’t come close to me…I’m…I’m…tainted…”
“…”As I looked at the self-abased imp drag herself away in fear, all the while hanging her head in shame, my heart clenched up once more, the happiness in me was now gone, all that remained was grief.
“You…aren’t tainted at all.”
“No…” As I reached out to her, she turned away with tears in her eyes, dodging my hand.
I got One-eye to single out two female devils to be her attendants after which he led the guardsmen around to search for anything suspicious. All this while, the Grimoire of the Dead was inexplicably flying around the pregnant devil.
Don’t tell me, you brought me here in order to find her…
“That…is your child alright?” For some strange reason, her pregnancy seemed to have caught my attention.
“No…there’s no problem.”
“If you don’t want it, we can…”
“No…I want to birth…I want to give birth to it…” That last sentence seemed to have shocked her a great deal as she instinctively withdrew herself as if to protect her baby against a potential threat.
“Alright, calm down. Getting agitated isn’t good for the baby.” Truth be told, her reaction seemed to be a bit excessive but then, human mothers were the same as well. Even if it was a bastard child, most of them would’ve chosen to give birth to it.
It was at this moment that One-eye came back once more with a report from his search: “Master, there’s nothing suspicious to be found in the vicinity.”
Sounds about right. If there was anything suspicious, the grimoire wouldn’t just be circling about the pregnant devil right now.
Coming in at roughly 100 meter square, the cellar wasn’t a particularly large one and its environment wasn’t pleasant either. Strangely though, it wasn’t because of a lack of fresh air that made me hate this environment.
In fact, the cellar seemed to have some unknown method of maintaining a suitable breathing environment. Instead, it was the years of neglect coupled with the artefacts left by Chipped Horn’s stay here, that made this place unpleasant. In short, it stinks.
While the main source of food in the land of the dead was souls, Chipped Horn and the others weren’t able to hunt for souls. Instead, they had to kill each other for food and this resulted in their diet being comprised mainly of meat. This means that they needed to defecate.
While they were smart enough to find a remote corner to finish their business, this was still an enclosed area after all. Even buried, it still stunk.
“Get your men ready, it’s about time to leave.” I briefly instructed One-eye to lead his men away before turning to the pregnant devil and her attendants: “As for the two of you, carry her up to the surface. Make sure to be gentle, I wouldn’t want her to get injured.”
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned. Despite my instructions and their best efforts at lifting her up carefully, they still won’t able to carry her in a stable fashion. Is it because of her weight?
As the attendants took a couple of steps forward, the pregnant female winced in pain. Their unsteady gait had caused her stomach to shake.
With her stomach this big, any sudden movement might result in a miscarriage…
Since she wants to give birth to it, I guess this place is as good as any other location. At least there won’t be any accidents from us moving her.
“Master?” One-eye inquired upon seeing my pondering gaze. “What’s the matter?”
“We’re staying here for now.”
One-eye replied in a surprised tone, his eyes blinked as if he had just thought of something. He turned to his devils and handed down the new orders to stay.
Once his subordinates were all settled down, he came back to me and asked in a hesitant tone: “Master, how long is our stay here?”
“How long…” I shifted my gaze to the pregnant devil on the floor. As she returned my gaze with an uncertain expression, I said: “Till she has given birth.”
“…” One-eye grimaced as he heard this.
“But Master, if we stay here for too long, those undead might attack us once more.”
“And we won’t encounter any undead just by moving around?” I said with my eyes half-closed. “When did you learn to question my commands?”
His gaze only lingered for a split second before he immediately dropped to his knees, his head lowered. “Master…I’m your most loyal servant…if this is what you wish, I’ll do my best to fulfill it, my Master.”
“Form a defensive perimeter around the chapel. Bring 200 reserves, all the shieldbearers, sabre wielders and half the guardsmen with you as you go hunting. The remainder will defend the chapel. Understood?”
“Is there anything else?”
“Bring No.5 with you.”
As he heard his name being called, the imp who looked like he was on the verge of dozing off was immediately jolted back to reality. With a dazed look on his face, he pointed at his nose and said: “Me?”
“That’s the plan.” As for No.5, I don’t know what to do with him…he’s lazy as a pig most of them but at least he steps up when times are dire. Given his talent for raising our morale, I decided not to treat him as badly as before. However, a little knock on the head is still called for from time to time.
One-eye had probably noticed his laziness as well. With a exasperated look on his face, he grabbed his neck and dragged him up the stairs kicking and screaming.
“Big brother One-eye…don’t be so forceful…my neck, my neck…can’t breathe…argh…ouch ouch…”
“You…oh that’s right, I haven’t given you a name.”
Strangely, whenever I looked at her, the name K*ng Ci from <<Wind and Cl***>> seemed to pop into my head. And so, through this strange stroke of fate, I came up with a new name for her: “From now on, you’ll be Mo Ci.”
Judging from the excited look on her face, she seemed to be extremely pleased with it. While her face didn’t suit my sense of beauty, her current expression wasn’t that dislikeable either.
Approximately half a day later, One-eye came back from his hunting trip with just 200 soul flames. Due to the migratory nature of the undead, the surrounding areas around the village have never been so empty. Our current situation reminded of the MMOs I played where the field would soon repopulate after being cleaned up once.
“Mo Ci, you can have these soul flames first.”
As I said so, I signalled to her attendants to feed her. She earnestly thanked me before proceeding with her meal.
In a single breath, 10 soul flames were consumed by her but she still wasn’t full. In fact, she didn’t seem to think much of those 10 soul flames and instead picked up the pace as she continued eating her meal.
At my side, Nine-finger who had recently regained consciousness, stared at her, his lips pursed and his brows furrowed. To him, a devil who couldn’t fight was essentially trash who was better off dead. After all, feeding such trash souls wouldn’t increase their combat strength a tiny bit.
In the face of this devil who had done nothing but still had the privilege of eating, Nine-finger was nothing if not jealous. He leaned in and whispered: “ Master, Isn’t that Mo Ci eating a little too much?”
“You eat a little too much as well.” I gave him a cold evaluating scan before saying: “ If you needed tens of souls as well, I would’ve still ensured that you were sufficiently fed.”
“Master, I don’t mean it that way…it’s just, you haven’t eaten yet. For her to eat first…isn’t that a little inappropriate?”
“There’s nothing inappropriate about it. Either way, my stomach is a bottomless pit, besides…” The negative emotions flooded me once more but I quickly shook them off. “This is what I owe her.”
As I said this, she lowered her hands and stopped what she was doing. Judging from her awkward and guilty expression, she probably heard us. “Master…I…I just…I don’t know why but…I’m just so hungry…I…didn’t mean to…”
“It’s fine, go ahead and eat, if you need more, I’ll get One-eye to go hunt for more.”
“Master…” Mo Ci cried.
The following days passed uneventfully as we settled down in this abandoned village. One-eye would bring No.5 and Nine-finger along with him as he went hunting for soul flames while my fully recovered bodyguards, No.3 and Big 4 continued their job of guarding me. Despite the loss of an arm each, I still had high hopes for them.
Other than the souls needed to sustain everyone, every other soul was sent to me. With No.5 taking charge of this, there were basically no instances of them being siphoned away.
Souls were a source of sustenance for the devils as well as a trading currency.
Mo Ci required a large amount of soul flames every day but initially, she wasn’t willing to eat that much. She was probably still worried that I would abandon her for doing so.
I guess I can’t really blame her for thinking so. Her appetite was frightening compared to the other devils. They were usually full after two or three souls whereas she was able to gulp down nearly a hundred soul flames in one breath. While this was nothing compared to my bottomless stomach, it was still pretty substantial.
Regarding this issue, I could only assume that this was due to the child in her stomach. I had never seen a pregnant devil before so I’m not sure if being pregnant increased their appetite. I merely tried to feed her till she was full out of sheer habit.
These peaceful days continued until the 10th day of our stay here. The hunting party had returned earlier than expected and what greeted me was a anxious No.5 dashing down the stairway. Before he even reached me, he started shouting: “Master, we’ve got a problem…the wandering undead have suddenly increased by a lot…”
“A lot?” I raised my eyebrows: “There’s always been a lot of them.”
“That’s not it, this time is different…”