Experiments for War
“Eh?” Lakshman said in surprise when he heard Felix’s words. “Leave for Floria region?”
“Yes,” Felix said and nodded at him.
“U-Um…” Lakshman said hesitantly and he looked between Felix, Rasha and back. “I-Is… something the matter?”
“Well…” Felix said and hesitated.
He looked towards Indra and Lakshmi. They simply nodded and he sighed in resignation.
“The fact is…” he began and began to explain.
It was soon after defeating the monster that something happened that shocked them. After defeating the monster, Lakshman fell unconscious. So, carrying him, they returned to the spot where the remaining Serprad Demon clan warrior lay.
He was silent with his hands and feet bound by earth cast by Sumara. When they approached, he simply looked at them with a bored expression on his face. On the way, Sumara informed them that his name was Yakin.
“Still alive?” Yakin asked, sounding surprised at seeing them all. Then he noticed the unconscious form of Lakshman and said “Well, at least one of you is down.”
“Yeah, but he was the one that defeated that ridiculously overpowered monster!” Felix said with a smile.
Yakin’s eyes widened as he said in disbelief “What?! That weakling defeated that monster?! Give me a break!”
At that moment, there was a quick zing of sword and, next thing he knew, he was staring at the gleaming end of a blade. Looking up, he saw Ondine glaring down at him with utmost fury on her face.
“How dare you talk trash about my master?!” he exclaimed and her killing intent caused him to wince.
Shaking his head, Yakin shouted “What else can he be when I was able to stab and nearly kill him!”
“That’s because you got the drop on him, you coward!” Ondine shouted angrily.
“I attacked from the front!” he retorted as he glared at her. “It’s his own darn fault for not countering me!”
Ondine looked like she was going to seriously kill him. Sumara quickly moved forward and pulled Ondine away. She did not struggle, but continued to glare menacingly. Yakin, for his part, stared back at her with angry eyes.
“Okay, okay,” Felix said with a clap of his hands once as he moved forward.
Yakin took once glance at him and chuckled.
Surprised, Felix asked “What’s so funny?”
“Oh? Nothing… I’m just laughing at our bad luck at running into the Phoenix Emperor,” Yakin said while continuing to chuckle. Then he became serious and said “So? Hurry up and kill me already! I’m getting bored staying down here you know!”
“Yes… about that…” Felix said and he lowered to the ground to look closely at Yakin.
“W-What?” Yakin said, startled to see Felix’s face up close.
“Mind telling us… what you, Serprads, were doing here in the first place?” Felix asked with a serious expression on his face.
“Ha?!” Yakin said, taken aback by his question. “Are you seriously asking me that question?!”
“Yes,” Felix said with a nod of his head.
Yakin looked at him for a moment. Then he began to laugh and continued to laugh for several more seconds. Then he became very serious as he shouted “And who is stupid enough to answer that question?!”
His voice echoed across the surroundings. He continued to glare at Felix, but Felix was watching him with amusement. Then he closed his eyes and nodded at something before reopening his eyes.
“I see,” he said as he smiled down at Yakin. “Okay then. We’ll just leave you here so you can die from starvation!”
Yakin’s eyes widened and he became really angry as he shouted “Damn you!”
“Of-course, we’d save you the trouble if you just tell us, you know?”
“Like hell I will!”
“Mmm… How about feeding you to the monster worms nearby? Your flesh should make them happy, right?” Felix said thoughtfully.
Yakin was speechless at Felix’s easy words. Felix did not show a tiniest bit of concern as he said “Of-course, we guarantee we don’t do that if you tell us, you know?”
“I’d rather die than tell you bastards!” Yakin yelled.
“Oh my…” Felix said in a mockingly concerned voice. “Perhaps cutting you up and eating you for lunch doesn’t sound bad, but… I don’t have the habit of eating living flesh.”
As if reflexively, he placed a hand on the hilt of his sword. Yakin’s mouth hung open and his eyes were wide open. He could not believe what he was hearing and he suddenly. Felix looked at him and smiled smoothly even though he saw the horror in Yakin’s face.
“Course’, I wouldn’t do that to you if you just tell us what we want to know…”
Yakin gritted his teeth in frustration as he said “Why… do you want to know so… badly?”
“It’s not about knowing badly,” Felix said calmly with a shake of his hand. “I just like to know things rather than be kept in the dark. It’s an unpleasant feeling, after all… being in the dark…”
“Heh!” Yakin said contemptuously. “I can’t believe you are the Phoenix Emperor!”
Felix smiled and said “On the other hand, I could possibly torture the information out of you.”
Yakin quickly looked up at him and said “T-T-Torture?!”
Felix smiled triumphantly. He knew the Serprad Demon clan hated things like war slaves or torture. Their pride as warrior was so strong, they preferred to die fighting. Anything else to them is disgusting.
“I could very well show you living hell right here and now if you wish!” Felix said in a thundering voice.
As he said, sparks began to flicker from his extended right hand. Yakin watched the flickering sparks and felt dread rising up his throat. He gulped reflexively as sweat began to pour down his face.
“Well? What’s your option?” Felix asked expectantly. “Do you want to be tortured to death? Or, answer us and die like a warrior? Which will it be?”
Yakin looked down and gritted his teeth in frustration. Deep down he did not want to tell them as he swore secrecy to his cause. On the other hand, the thought of being tortured to death, the worst way to die, is frightening him.
He looked at Felix and the jolts of lighting continued escaping around him. Just by looking at him, Yakin knew Felix was deadly serious. He continued to hesitate when, suddenly, he remembered something.
Smiling, he looked at them and was pleased to see Felix looking surprised at the sudden change in attitude in him.
“Fine!” he said brightly. “I’ll tell you. Think of this as your reward for defeating that monster!”
“O-Okay,” Felix said, startled to see Yakin brimming with confidence.
Felix felt uneasy. A moment ago, Yakin was looking frightened at the thought of being tortured to death like all Serprads would. However, this has changed. In an instant, a smile appeared on his face and he looked confidently at them.
Shaking off the uneasiness, Felix asked “Then, tell me, what that monster is, what you were after and what you were doing here in the first place!”
“Oh! That’s a lot of questions!” Yakin exclaimed in a bright voice. “Well then, to sum it all up in four words, this is an experiment.”
“A-An experiment?” Felix asked, startled and Yakin nodded.
“Yes, an experiment. To be precise we, the Serprads, guard the experiments while the Demon Experimentalists conduct their experiments on test subjects with their crazy stuff.”
“What were they experimenting for?”
“Raise lower ranked monsters higher!”
“What?!” Felix exclaimed in shock.
“Yup!” Yakin nodded happily. “There had been a huge decline in monster above C Ranked monsters. So, experiments were being conducted on the lower ranked monsters to raise them into the higher ranks!”
“I see…” Felix said slowly while nodding his head. “That explains why that Two-Headed Cerberus monster, which is a D Rank monster, had the abilities of a monster above C Rank.”
“So then…?” Sumara asked as she moved forward to interrogate Yakin. “What is the objective of these experiments?”
Yakin turned to her and they stared into each other’s eyes. Normally, both demon clans bore dangerous animosity towards each other. However, Yakin suddenly smiled at Sumara to everyone’s surprise.
“What?!” Felix and Ondine exclaimed in unison.
Felix pushed Sumara aside and moved forward as he said “War?! Why War?!”
Yakin nodded and said “It’s too peaceful and our race is becoming dull. That’s why, the Demon Emperor decided to prepare the necessary tools for war!”
Felix’s eyes were wide open as he stared at Yakin in disbelief. Then he gritted his teeth in frustration when he thought about the Demon Emperor. Sumara, on the other hand, did not react violently like the other two. She calmly looked down at the Serprad with her usual expression on her face.
“One last thing,” she said and Yakin looked at her once more. “Whom will you wage the war against?”
Yakin’s eyes widened and he made a crazy smiled as he shouted “The world!”
As he shouted, black flames suddenly erupted around him. The flames began to attack him rapidly by burning him while he was still alive. Felix jumped back in shock as the black flames attempted to reach him.
Yakin continued to laugh loudly as the black flames scorched him to the point that he was being burned alive. Then, with the final strength remaining in him, he looked towards Felix with an evil grin on his dying face.
“A word of advice… Phoenix Emperor. You better… watch yourself.”
“What?!” Felix exclaimed, looking startled by his words.
“You… want to be careful of the Phoenix Clan members. You wouldn’t want to get back stabbed, right? Just saying…”
“What are you saying?!” Felix exclaimed and he rushed forward. He picked up the shirt front of Yakin and, ignoring the black flames, pulled him towards him as he shouted “What do you mean?! Tell me!”
Yakin did not reply. Instead, he flashed an evil grin at Felix before his body blacked out and turned into ashes. The ashes fell through the clothes, leaving an empty rag of clothes behind. Felix held onto the clothes for a moment before letting them drop.
“So you see,” Felix said as he finished retelling the events following the defeat of the monster, “I must return immediately to check on the clan.”
“Felix, aren’t you taking that freak too seriously?!” Indra asked finally after a short pause. “I mean, he could be attempting to disrupt your trust and judgement of your clan.”
“Possibly, but…” Felix said and hesitated, unsure what to say.
Rasha looked at them for a moment and sighed.
“Actually…” she began and they turned to look at her. “For a while, I’ve been feeling a strange presence within the clan.”
“A strange presence?” Lakshmi asked, looking puzzled. “What do you mean by that, Rasha?”
“Well… Now that I think about it, I think it was the presence of darkness,” Rasha said nervously.
“Eh?!” Felix said, sounding taken aback at this revelation. He quickly moved over to his wife and brought his face very close to hers as he said “Really?”
“U-Um… yes,” Rashsa said hastily and she blushed slightly when the face of her husband was very close to her.
“Why didn’t you say anything about it earlier?” he demanded urgently with a serious expression on his face.
“W-Well… I was uncertain about it and thought the boredom was making me imagine things,” Rasha said, looking unhappy at her blunder. “I didn’t want to tell you about it in case it was just my imagination… I never thought it would be… this serious.”
Felix quickly reassured his wife by saying “Don’t worry. It’s only obvious to do this, but this complicates things.”
“If a pocket of sympathisers of the Demon Emperor try to persuade or force others into joining…” Indra said uncertainly.
“Yes,” Felix said, turning to Indra and nodding at him. “We could very well lose control over the clan that keeps peace between the races.”
“A clan that is gifted by the gods,” Lakshmi said apprehensively.
Silence followed as they looked at each other nervously. A few seconds later, it was broken by Felix.
“This is bad… this is very bad…!”
He said looking very concerned. Everyone remained silent as the grave situation left them speechless.