“Yes, it’s very good, Boss.”
“I’ve never seen a poem as fine as this one, Senior.”
“It’s very … creative.”
Mm, that’s right. “Hear that, Ilya? People like my story!” It’s not that I’m bad at writing, it’s that Ilya’s too unappreciative of the creative arts.
Ilya rolled her eyes. “They’re saying that to be nice to you because they’re afraid you’ll hurt them if they disagree.”
“There’s no way that’s true!” I like to believe people are honest and upright. Mhm. If they tell me something, that’s because that something is true. “Right, guys?”
“Absolutely. There’s no way that’s the case. We truly think your writing is a work of art.”
I’ll ignore the beads of sweat rolling down their heads. It’s because it’s hot, isn’t it? Mm? Now that I think about it, it is pretty hot. Is it Mrs. Feathers? No, she’s sleeping in the corner over there. Then … is it just me? Ah! Nope. It’s just the crown on my head. Why is it heating up? “Wait! I learned to read because I wanted to know what was on the crown!” But I got sidetracked by Ilya telling me my story was bad, which it isn’t. “Alright, shoo, shoo.”
Once the barkeep and the other servants left the room, I took the crown off my head. Why’d I rush them out? Because I don’t want them to make fun of me if I misread the words on the crown! Not like they would know since they can’t see the words, but still. “Mm, let’s see…. This character looks like…. Wait a minute. Wait one goddamn minute! Why did I have to learn how to read!? I could’ve just copied the glyphs and had you read them for me!”
“Well, yes, I suppose you could’ve done that,” Ilya said and nodded.
“Then why didn’t you suggest that!?” Then I wouldn’t’ve had to be in so much pain!
“I mean, you know I’m a fake, right? My mind and personality are recreated off the memories of me that were found inside of you.” Ilya shrugged.
“Then that means … you’re as dumb as me?” …Then what’s the point of having an Ilya? And I’m pretty sure she gave me reasonable responses before! Maybe I only thought they were reasonable because my mind came up with them?
“No, there’s no one in this world that can be as dumb as you,” Ilya said. “What I meant was, as Ilya Pentorn, I really enjoy seeing you suffer. And I know learning to read would make you suffer. That’s why, I taught you instead of suggesting you copy the characters for me to read out loud.”
…I knew it. Ilya’s a sadist. “Mm, if I break you, what happens?”
“Depending on the severity of the damage, I either enter hibernation to repair the formation inside of myself, or I vanish.” Ilya didn’t take a step back when I took out my hammer. She didn’t look scared either. “And I’ll have you know, pain isn’t programmed into me. You can hit me, but I won’t feel a thing.”
“You’re not Ilya! The real Ilya’s a masochist who loves being hit!”
“…Didn’t we just establish that I’m not the real one?”
Oh. Right. We did. So, this Ilya can poke fun at me, but I can’t punish her? Then what’s the point of having this Ilya if all she’s going to do is insult me! Mm, she did teach me to read though…. “Can…, can you pretend to be in pain when I hurt you?” It’ll make me feel better.
Ilya stared at me with dull eyes. “I suppose I can try.”
Mm, okay, I’ll give her a noogie.
“Ow. Ow. Stop. Please. Oh, no, it’s painful. Wah, wah.”
“…Can you put in a little more effort?” This isn’t the same. Her face doesn’t change at all! And instead of a skull, it feels like I’m grinding my knuckles against a rock. Mm? What’s the difference in feeling between the two? Rocks don’t bleed! Skulls are a little squishier. Not that I want to see blood or anything.
Mm. The voice is back. Ah! “Right, the crown. Let’s read it.” The characters are on the inside, so they’re hard to see, but if I squint really hard, it’ll be fine. “Property … of … the … Slaughter … God. If … lost … please … mail … to … three … seven … two … Slaughter … Drive.”
“…Is that it?” Ilya asked, ruining my concentration. “Surely there’s more.”
“No! There’s more! I’m just trying to remember what that character is, okay? Stop talking.” Grr, reading’s frustrating, especially with someone rushing me! It’s my first time doing it, okay? It’s not my fault I’m slow at it. Everyone sucks when they first try something. Mhm. “In…, inheritor? Inheritance? Mm, these squiggles are so tiny. Inheritance … ritual: …Place … my … crown … on … your … head. Kill three … thousand … people to … activate the slaughter … aura … inside. …Accept the … will of slaughter…, and … absorb … it … into your … sea of … consciousness. …This … will…, wait a minute. Why is this will different from the previous will that I just read?”
“That’s just how the language works.”
It’s a dumb language. “This will … form … a … seed of slaughter, form…ing? Forming. Forming a … foundation … for your … divine … sense.” Mm. That’s it. “Did you write that down, Ilya?” For some reason, even though I read it, it was hard to understand, and I don’t remember the meaning of the words at all! It’s like when someone’s talking about something boring and the words turn into background noise and I have to smile and nod at the end to pretend that I was listening. Reading’s tough. But I can do it now! “Take that, Durandal! I’m officially smarter than you now!”
“Durandal?” Where is he? “You there?”
“He’s in the other room, having a discussion with Vera,” Ilya said. “More importantly, about—”
“That cheating bastard!” Where is he!? “Which room!? There’s definitely something going on between the two of them!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter