Chapter 19: Apothecary Alastor was on his way to visit Shana again. He has become fond of her. It was almost like having a little sister for the first time in his life. He was used to being led around by Alice but now he felt really like a big brother. From afar he could see Shana waving at him. The little girl showed a cheerful expression, smiled brightly while swinging her cat tail excitedly. "Alastor, you are late!' said the running girl toward Alastor and hugged him. "Sorry Shana! I was a little busy this morning. But I brought you a gift!" Alastor took out a blue crystal like bracelet and gave it to the cat girl. "Wow it's so beautiful! But isn't it expensive?" asked the girl hesitantly. She clearly wanted it. However she was afraid that it would trouble the boy for giving her something so expensive. At least it should be since it was quite marvelous with an unique look on it. The craftsman who did it must be so proud of his product. Well of course he was since it was none other than Alastor who made it. He asked Stella to make a small crystal stone and Alastor would turn it into a bracelet. It still took the little demon lord the entire night since the crystal was extremely solid. "It's hand made by me so there is no price to it! Don't worry!" Alastor comforted the girl. The girl giggled looking at her present. Her eyes sparkled since it was the first time someone ever gave something to her. Not even her parents who abandoned her on the street. And here a boy slightly older than her whom she only met a few days ago, showed her kindness she has never seen before. A few tears dropped on her face but she held it back. She wanted to look pretty in front of Alastor. One could guess that these tears were simply tears of happiness. For someone who has never felt it, it was natural to cry. But there was another reason. "Why are you crying Shana?" the boy asked. "Did you not like it?" "No no! It's beautiful. I love it! It's just I was thinking about my friends." the girl sniffed. "What about your friends? Did something bad happen?" "I am just sad because a few of my friends were adopted by a couple a few days ago. Now I could not see them again. The priest said that they are now in a happier place so I am glad for them. But I feel a bit lonely without them. I want to see them again. Am I a bad girl for thinking like that?" the small girl was too young to distinguish the good and bad. But for a child to think about something like that. What a wonderful girl! "Of course not! It's normal to feel that way! Just wait for a few days. Maybe they will send you some letters or perhaps even a gift!" Alastor tried to console Shana. An orphan who was adopted could be considered a fortunate one. Not many children had the chance to have a family again, especially after they have been abandoned. Alastor has thought about taking Shana with him. But he knew that the journey might be too arduous for a small girl like her. And who knew how she would react when she learnt that Alastor was a demon? The boy himself had a few personal experiences of losing someone close to him. He was afraid of letting another one in his life, only to let them die because of him. While it was not his fault, he was aware of the danger surrounding him. The whole world was against him after all. Just when Alastor was deep in his thoughts, the priest came out of the house. "Hello Alastor! I see that you have come to visit us again. Great I have some good news. Shana, I have found a family who can take you in! They will come tomorrow!" said the priest. Shana was an active girl. A good news like this should make her jump in excitement. But instead, she only slipped out a forced smile. Alastor could feel her hand clenching on his. He did not know what to do. He was supposed to be happy for her. The little girl finally had a family now. Something he could not provide to her. All he could do was to smile for her, reassure her that everything would be fine, even if he may never see her again. Perhaps he should. At the very least that was what he was thinking about. That evening, Alastor decided to stay later than usual since it might be the last day he would ever see Shana. Under the moon light, the two talked a lot, although Alastor avoided or changed things a little when they talked about their past. It was only until Shana felt asleep that Alastor could finally go home. But that was his last chance to see Shana. The next day, when Alastor came back, the girl was already gone. The priest told him that the couple has come and took Shana away from the early morning. Sadden by the news, the boy had no choice but to went back. He thought he had prepared himself enough for this. He thought he did. But saying goodbye was never easy. Perhaps when this was all over, he would search for her, rekindle their friendship once more. To do that, he must continue, finish the journey. He was so distraught by the news that Alastor did not notice someone was keeping an eye on him the whole time. "No no! I am too late!" Said the shadow ..... ..... ..... Alastor decided to make a visit to the apothecary he has been wanting to go since one week ago. Since he took down the poster no one should have completed it already. From afar he could see small wooden building locating in the middle of the woods. The building seemed a bit decrepit. An apothecary normally was supposed to stock herbs and such for medical purposes. Therefore the building must be in top condition or at least had a warehouse somewhere else or the medicines could rot. Especially in wooden area where it tended to get quite humid. Also why an apothecary in the middle of the woods? Understandable if it was the countryside or somewhere far away but there was a big city right beside. It was too weird. But standing here wouldn't do anything. Alastor knocked on the door White smoke came out the chimney above. Someone must be home. But what would he say? Perhaps nothing about the quest for now, just making small talks and see how it go. He knocked on the door. Alastor swore that the door almost broke from just a touch. Still there was no answer. He decided to go in. The inside of the house was even worse than outside. Spider webs tangled everywhere. There were some herbs and medicines placed on the shelves but they were the most basics ingredients for the common potion, could be found anywhere, even just taking a walk in the forest could get you something better than that. Alastor realized just how suspicious this store was. Then someone came out of the curtain behind the counter. "Oh sorry! I did not realise we have a client! I have just been sorting out the new patch of herbs. Bit busy since I am the only one here! But enough babbling from me. What can I do for you young lad?" said the dubious man. "My sister is sick so I am here to purchase some herbs for her. Do you have Twilight herb and some Cylia mushroom?" asked Alastor. "Oh...hum... Those....let me see if I have it!" the shady looked at the shelves, pretending to take out one basket of herb after another then put them back. He seemed a bit confused. Finally he took out a few leaves and showed to Alastor. "Should be this herb. Unfortunately I ran out of Cylia mushroom. If you want I can order them but it might take some days." "Hum... Isn't that the Celcia herbs? The Twilight herb does look similar to Celcia but its color is a bit darker and the edge is more sharp." said Alastor holding the leaves. "Oh you are right! Sorry I was a bit tired. I am afraid we ran out of twilight herbs too. How about coming back tomorrow and I will see if the supplier has it." implored the man. "Ok. See you tomorrow then!" Alastor said as he left the store. 'This is no apothecary. There is no such thing as Celcia herb or Cylia mushroom. I just come up with some random names on place. And if he has twilight herbs, he would not be in such an establishment. It's one the rarest herb in the entire world. One leaf of that thing could earn an entire mansion easily. No way he could have it.' Alastor analyzed the encounter with the man inside the store in his head. But just before he went out, he saw something on the floor. Something shiny. He picked it up and looked at it in disbelief. In an instant, he appeared right before the man and held him on his neck on the counter. "How did this get here? TELL ME!" Alastor shouted angrily as he showed the scared man what he just picked up. A blue bracelet. "What? What are you talking about?" the man's voice trembled. How could a kid be so powerful? "TALK OR I WILL BREAK THIS NECK OF YOURs!" "Please! I don't know anything! They just pay me to tend to this shop and pay if someone brings demon blood for some quest I don't know! Please let me go! I really don't know anything else!" pleaded the crying man. But no. In a fit of rage, Alastor held the man's head and bashed into the table, smashing the table. Paying no attention to what he just did, he quickly left the store. The orphanage. He must go there. That priest must know something. He went as fast as he could. He just left there a moment earlier. That priest should still be there. But from afar, he could hear someone shouting. He hided behind a nearby tree and peeked at the scene. A white haired woman was pointing a sword at the priest. "Where are they? Tell me!" a woman yelled. "Who are you? How did you ...?" but the woman did not let him finish. "It's me the one asking questions here. Tell me! Where did you transfer them to?" Alastor decided to show himself. He had no time to sneak around now. Plus he knew the woman. It was the same one who he saw at Terrick's residence. The one who apparently killed the bishop. "Stop right there! I have some questions for him first!" shouted Alastor. The woman turned back and showed a surprised expression. She thought the boy was gone. But Alastor passed her without even looking at the woman. He stopped right in front of the priest. As he drew near, the priest realized Alastor was no common boy. The bloodlust he felt could not belong to just some kid. "Don't come any closer!" the priest shouted. "I have no time for your babbling! <Absolute Authority>" Alastor touched the man's forehead. Suddenly he collapsed down before standing up again but his eyes were lifeless. "Speak!" "The children are currently inside a facility to the south." the priest spoke in a monotone voice. "Why? What are you doing to them?" Alastor angrily said. "To bring a new age! One where God will descend from the heavens to Earth and stand beside humanity against the demon threat!" "I don't care about your religious gibberish! Tell me exactly what you are doing to them!" Alastor lost his calm. "They are infusing demon blood into the children!" a voice said. Alastor forgot that there was also this mysterious woman beside him the entire time. Was she one of them too? "Before you jump to any conclusion, let me make this clear! I am not one of them. On the contrary, I belong to a certain group that opposes this organisation. To summarize, this man is a member of a circle who calls themselves Sanctus. They consist of very influential individuals across Astora and control everything from behind the scene. But that's not the main concern here. Now they are kidnapping children and do experiments on them. If you want to save your friends then let me come with you! We don't have much time left!" explained the woman. "Why? What will happen?" asked Alastor. A memory flashed through the woman's mind. Something bad in the past. "Something very bad!" * * * Alastor's POV I was now on my way to the place where Shana and the other children were being held captive. The woman I met from earlier was right in front of me. She called herself Maria and claimed to be on my side. I had no choice but to trust her. For now. We finally arrived at the designated place. It seemed to be a small keep but in no way it was abandoned. Above nothing seemed suspicious but the priest told us that the facility was actually underground. There was no time for stealthy. With a single fireball, I blew up the main gate of the keep. The guards, understandably realized that we were not simple guests, rang the bell and rushed toward us. The mages, hiding on the balcony on the second level, together with the archers threw arrows and spells at us. As I took care of the ones above, I saw that Maria was indeed skillful. She used a two swords stance and cut off one enemy after another like flies. It was as if she was dancing on the battlefield. I could hardly keep my eyes on her as she was moving like a shadow from one enemy to another. Now that I thought about it, she used a similar spell to get away when I arrived at Terrick's mansion. Perhaps she had a darkness elemental affinity. Back the enemies, I absorbed all their spells with <Devour>, then converted it to my own mana. The mages could only make a horrified expression as none of their attacks worked. "Fire at the brat you idiot!" one of scumbags shouted to the archers. He was standing behind the lines of the coming swordsmen, right under the archers. So while his comrades were fighting down here, the boss holed up from behind. What a great leader! Time to test a new ability. I pointed towards the archers and used my ability: "<Asmodeus' Dominion: Oppression>" Suddenly the archers started screaming in panic. Of course they did. I took away their sight. Or rather I forbid them to use their eyes. This was one of the abilities that originated from Asmodeus but I was the one who developed it. As Asmodeus' main ability was about 'Control', instead of just taking control of their bodies, I could possess only a part of it. It made it easier for me as controlling multiples persons at once could be quite straining to my mind, as if I was doing two different things with both of my hands. Some of the archers, losing their sight, decided to shoot arrows in all directions but it only hit their own comrades. Bunch of idiots! Still some of them managed to shoot in the right direction and the arrows were towards Maria. I raised my hand and cast a protective spell. "<Wind Shield>" A wind gale formed in around Maria, deflecting all the arrows back to where they came from, killing all the archers. It also blasted away the foot soldiers surrounding her, allowing her for a clear path to finish them in a single swing. Shortly after, no one was left alive except for the two of us. "I did not need your help earlier you know!" said Maria as she swung her blades to the sides, throwing off all the blood on them. "But thanks!" "I need you alive since I still have a lot of questions for you. But that can wait after we rescue Shana and the others. They must still be alive." I said to her. It was true. She knew a lot of things I did not know. Terrick and this whole situation we were in. I needed to interrogate her once I rescued Shana. And so we walked inside. 'Shana I am coming to save you now!' Little did I know at that moment, how fate could be so cruel sometimes.