The Devil's Evolution Catalog Chapter 138: Search For Nicole (draft)
I’ll admit that blaming Ferti’nier wasn’t really going to accomplish anything seeing as she didn’t scare away my pee pee on purpose. In light of that I should probably be more accepting of her as well but that still didn’t tell me how was I going to coax my pee pee back.
“Once this one separates from you, all you have to do is undergo another evolution and the problem should fix itself.” She promptly chimed in with a straight-to-the-point answer. Looks like she at least felt a smidgen of guilt for causing this.
That simple? Sounds a lot easier than I had initially thought...so how do we split up?
“First, we have to find Yi Yi.”
Yi Yi huh...the legendary fiancee! Alright then, first we’ll go find Nicole and then we can visit Yi Yi in Gehenna, that’s settled then.
Having dealt with the bandit troupe, the remainder of our trip to Azure City went by uneventfully. While my masked and hooded get-up was rather strange, it was still in vogue amongst the adventurers although admittedly, mask wearing adventurers were still in the minority. However, with so much thoroughfare passing through the city every day, our addition didn’t raise that many eyebrows. In short, it wasn’t strange.
According to Regine, Nicole was a student of Azure’s warrior academy so our first objective was naturally to head for the academy. With no time to spare for the city sights, we left straight for the academy, at least that was what I hoped to do...I still didn’t meet the requirements to enter the school...should I pose as pizza delivery?
Hmm...doesn’t sound like it will work.
Standing in front of the school’s gate were two burly men whose stature was akin to those guardian deities you saw in front of Asian temples. With backs straight and body at attention, their eyes which reeked of danger, swept back and forth over the entrance as they watched for any suspicious person.
Looks like the front entrance is out of the question with these two fellows guarding it...should I scale the walls? Hmm...that probably wouldn’t work either, they probably had patrols and magical spells guarding the walls. For all I know, my reckless infiltration might end up triggering some magical alarm array.
With no other choice left open to me, I decided to wait for a better opportunity.
Thankfully, our previous two opponents were pretty loaded so money wasn’t an issue for now. I rented a couple of rooms for us while we staked out the campus entrance. Thus began my daily morning routine of loitering around the front entrance which swiftly earned the guarded stares of those two guardian deities. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I hadn’t done anything overtly provocative, I bet they would’ve already “invited me over for a cup of tea”.
Everyday, a large number of students would pass through the gates and yet after two days, there was still no sign of Nicole.
As time ticked by, my heart grew ever more uneasy. Was she even in this city? Did Regine make a mistake or perhaps she decided to return home...these worries and questions swirled about my head as I stared intently at the bustling gate while pacing back and forth. It was as if I was thrown back to my high school examination days except this felt a lot more stressful.
Just as my nerves began to fray, a diminutive silhouette caught my attention as it passed through the crowd of students. It was an adorable little girl that seemed to have come out of some 2D animation. She had long, blue flowing hair and a peach face which, judging by her youthful skin, was probably that of a 10 year old’s. As she walked up to the fierce looking men, she would skip from time to time like an energetic and lively little girl.
What drew my attention however, wasn’t her appearance but rather the fact that I sensed the presence of Nicole on her.
As a devil, I was able to pick up the traces of a person’s aura and determine certain facts from it. Nicole’s aura was one that I was particularly familiar so there was no way I could ever mistake that aura I felt on the girl.
That girl definitely knew Nicole and their relationship should be rather close as well.
In that case, all I have to do now is to approach her and ask about Nicole.
“Master, here’s lunch.” From the nearby inn came Ancarin, with a basket of bread and juice hung around her arm. Ever since I began this non-stop surveillance two days ago, it was Ancarin who brought me food and drinks while Regine stayed behind in the inn to look after Duran.
“Food? Hold on, there’s something I must handle right now, just head back first.” The little girl greeted the two burly men after which I saw them point at me from a distance away and mention something to the girl. She turned to look at me for a moment before answering them and leaving.
Now’s the time! In order to find Nicole, I must catch up to her, she’s the only clue I got right now. No matter what, I mustn’t let her go!
“Master!” Ancarin immediately called out to me, worry written all over her face as she did so. Seeing that I stopped and knowing that I was in a hurry, she cut straight to the point and said, “I saw a number of robed people loitering nearby with a murderous aura surrounding them. They seemed to be searching for someone.”
I immediately understood what she meant. Knowing her, she would never mention such a thing right now if she didn’t think it was absolutely urgent, “And then?”
“Among them was a girl who wasn’t wearing a robe, if I’m not mistaken, she was one of the girls who was captured by Duran…”
Duran’s captives had all been freed by me and I even gave them a small fortune when I sent them off. Seeing as all of them knew of my identity and my goal of coming to Azure, that could only mean one thing...they were looking for me!
Damn it, why must this happen now! A lead to Nicole was just standing in front of me a few moments ago!
No...I must catch up to him, I mustn’t let this lead disappear.
“I know, you can return back to the inn for now, I’ll take care of it later.”
Ancarin wanted to dissuade me but I immediately interrupted her, “I know you’re really worried about me but I have my own reasons. Just return to the inn first and wait for me there.”
Understanding that nothing would change my mind, she finally nodded her head: “...mhm, Master, take care.”
Without waiting for her to turn around, I took off after the little girl.
The little girl turned around and looked at me, anxiety written all over her adorable face, she whipped her head forward and immediately broke into a run.
Damn it, those burly men must have said something bad about me. That’s the only explanation for her reaction. I need to catch her quick.
As I was chasing after the girl, I was similarly being chased by several strangers, six of them to be exact. Five of them were similarly dressed in loose robes that not only hid their faces but also their bodies and genders. Between them was a teenage girl dressed in a green skirt that was currently trending among the common folk. She was rather young and her face was one that I vaguely remembered...a girl that I vaguely remembered...there weren’t that many to begin with...only those I rescued from the bandit troupe and those I rescued from Duran…
From time to time, the little girl would turn around and throw me a glance. Upon discovering that I was still tailing her, she would quickly whip her head back and make a turn into some convoluted alleyway. Behind me, I had that party of six hot on my heels. From them, I could clearly sense an aura of hostility.
While they tried their best to hide it, I could clearly see their weapons jutting out from underneath their loose robes.
Looks like they weren’t here for a social visit.
“Yo, Little Brother, looks like you got yourself into some trouble again, this one smells the stench of a demon hunter from those six humans.” Seems like I wasn’t the only one who noticed their aura.
“I sensed a total of five demon hunters, one five-star, one four-star, and three three-stars. They seem to be out for your blood.”
Demon hunters! Hunters who specialized in hunting down creatures of the darkness!
Then that girl following them...so I’ve really been betrayed...even though I saved her life…
On one hand was a clue about Nicole, on the other was a threat a my life, I…
“Little Brother, don’t think too much about it. You can always find that girl later but if you lose your life now, it will really be over for you. Don’t tell me you expect to be revived again?”
Damn it...I know that, I’ll make escape now but now that they have their eyes on me, there’s no way I can return to the inn.
In order to avoid implicating Regine and Ancarin, I made a turn into a crowded location in hopes that these demon hunters would stay their hands in lieu of the innocent citizens.
Speaking of crowded locations, the one place that came to mind immediately was the city plaza. While I wasn’t familiar with this city, I ended up in the city plaza just by following the flow of the crowd.
The plaza was full of people as expected, yet my hooded appearance was still rather eye-catching. Looking at my robes, the citizenry immediately assumed that I was an adventurer and tried to avoid me. I briskly walked up to the memorial plaque in the center of the plaza. The over ten meter tall plaque was engraved with the history of Azure City and was apparently a popular attraction within the city.
Around the memorial was a variety of roadside stalls that sold everything from snacks to daily necessities. There were even a number of buskers littered about the crowded plaza, performing their various acts in exchange for tips.
Those demon hunters shouldn’t be mad enough to attack me here, would they?
“Not bad, Little Brother. At least you know to come to such a crowded place. However, this is only a temporary solution. Last I checked, there were no nightless areas in the human world, once night falls, the crowd will disappear as well.”
That’s right, working in the day and resting by night was how a normal human lived, to some faithful, this was the life dictated by God.
Must I really make my escape...I finally found my way into the Western Human Realms and even made it to Azure City. Even if I wasn’t able to find Nicole, at the very least I wanted to let her know that I had been here…
“Little Brother you seem rather unwilling.”
Of course I am. After all that hard work, I still ended up like this, how do you expect me to be satisfied! All I want is to see Nicole, just one look that’s all, is that too much to ask?!
“Then this one will help you just this once. If it’s only broadcasting your will, this one can let the entire city hear it.”
Is that true? That would be a great help!
“Mhm, mhm. Don’t forget, this one is a demon king, a demon king with the title of Soul Bard no less. Even without this one’s body, such a matter isn’t a problem.”
Soul Bard...so the reason why I am a Soul Bard was because of you...either way, as long as it helps, I’m fine with it. I’ll leave this matter in your hands then, do you mind sending out the message of “I was here”?
“Little Brother, I think you’re misunderstanding something here, this one only said that she had the ability to help you broadcast something. Whatever you wanted to say or wanted to do has to be broadcasted by you yourself.”
What...then exactly what should I do? Broadcast “Nicole, I’m back”? No, that’s not possible. If I reveal my relationship to Nicole, I might end up implicating her. Then how should I communicate with her in a way that only she understood?
Just as I was wracking my brain over this problem, the mental image of Ferti’nier gave me a thumbs up and said, “Little Brother, how about singing.”
“That’s right, this one is a Soul Bard not a Soul Whisperer, all this one can do is help you broadcast songs. Normal sentences aren’t possible right now.”
Ah, in that case, I’ll sing then. All I have to do is sing a song that only Nicole understands. Mhm, let me think...back when we were kids, I used to sing a lot to Nicole, I’ll just pick one of those songs then.
Special thanks to Steve Granger, Kaung Thant Win Naing, and Antoine Thompson!!