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43 Settling In.

    **Bang** Aponi drives the bus through the gate and quickly brings the bus to a stop near the door of the house.

    I hop up and quickly make my way to the door of the bus, 'Hopefully, nothing has happened to them. I'll need to use them in the negotiations.'

    I run and make my way to the entrance of the house. I glance back to see Eden following with the sickle I made earlier, and Aponi and the others are tangled in the chains attached to their hands. I turn and use just a bit of mana I was able to recover to remove the chain from Aponi's hand.

    "Aponi, bring everyone inside when you get the chance," I shout.

    Not waiting for a response, I continue to run. I approach the door, and I can hear the sounds of a tv playing from the second-floor window. I quickly kick open the door and move to where the scream and the sounds of the television are coming from. As I run through the house, I glance at a digital clock showing 6:51 AM.

    'The day and night cycle is pretty normal right now, but over the coming weeks, there will be less and less daylight.'

    Soon I turn a corner to find a young girl and boy fighting. The boy looks to be around fifteen, and the girl seems to be around ten. The tv blares loudly in the background as the boy holds a waffle just out of the girl's reach.

    "Annie, you know Mrs. Andrews told you not to scream so loud!" the boy says mockingly.

    "Shut up! She's not here right now, is she!? Now stop touching my waffle with your dirty hands and give it back!"

    "..." I stand and stare dumbfounded at the duo.

    "No! This is the last one, and I don't want to be hungry at school." the boy yells.

    The girl is about to continue but sniffs the air and shows a look of disgust, "That's gross, Luke! Go to the bathroom."

    "Wha...Wait, that smells not me!"

    Suddenly Eden runs around the corner, "Eira, did you find who screamed?"

    I point at the two children, "...Yeah, it was quite the crisis."

    The toy children stare at Eden and me with both curiosity and fear in their expressions.

    The older brother named Luke moves in front of his sister Annie, "Wh-who are you smelly guys? What are you doing in our house? Do you know who my dad is?"

    "Yes, I do, in fact, we're friends of your dad," I say.

    From behind, Annie tilts her head and speaks, "Girls?... and my dad always told me that if a stranger said something like that to me, they're probably lying. He said that was kidnapping 101."

    "Yeah, especially ones that are in our house wearing a mask and another wearing a shirt as a bandana," Luke says.

    I grimace under my mask, 'I'm tired and don't feel like dealing with these kids right now.' I take a step forward only to feel Eden grab my shoulder.

    "Eira, could we try a little less violent of an approach this time?" Eden whispers.

    I sigh, "...If you have any ideas go ahead."

    Eden nods and turns toward the two, "How about we show you our faces?"

    I look at Eden in disbelief, "Eden, that's..."

    "Okay, that might help," Annie replies innocently.

    Luke doesn't make much movement but gives a small nod.

    "Okay, we'll take them off," Eden says back.

    '...I didn't agree to anything.' I think to myself, but I can see Eden looking at me with a look of expectation.

    "Fine, but this will probably just make things worse." I glance around the room and make sure the streamer lady isn't around.

    Eden unties the shirt from around her face as I reach for my mask and remove it. First, the two's face looks at Eden, and they show surprise, "Wow, she's so pretty!" Annie says loudly.

    They then look at me and their expression's freeze. Luke's reaction is especially dramatic as he drops the waffle onto the floor and slowly begins to advance toward me.

    "So beautiful." He mutters as he begins to stretch his arm toward me.

    'Uhh, what is this kid trying to do?' I think to myself.

    He walks up to me and seemingly tries to reach for my cheek, but before he can touch me, I ball up my fist and punch him in the stomach. Luke drops to his knees and starts gasping for air.

    Annoyed, I turn toward Eden, "Well, I tried Eden, but the kid is some kind of weirdo. You're in charge of these two. Get Audrey to help you if you need help."

    "**cough** You look just like the girls **cough** from the comics." Luke barely manages to say.

    I shake my head and put the mask back on, "You're just lucky I've learned to better control my strength recently, or you would be able to insert that waffle directly into your stomach."

    I nod at Eden and turn to walk back toward where the living room was. I look around the walls as I walk, seeing several pictures of Congressman Miles with his children and some older ones with him and his wife. Glancing out the window, I can see there's a greenhouse along with a large sunroom.

    'I can only assume the wife is deceased since he was hitting on Aponi. Also, this guy must have a decent amount of money to have a house like this. Wonder how he made it all? Hopefully, he's well connected.'

    I walk into the living room where I can hear the group of people talking and arguing noisily. I ignore them and glance toward the ceiling noticing some rafters running from one side of the room to the other. It seems the beams were incorporated into the design of the room.

    I clap my hands together, "Perfect!"

    Everyone in the room looks at me, but again I continue to ignore them. I walk up to the now loose chain that was connected to Aponi before. I take the chain toss it upward over the rafters creating a loop; I then fuse the two sides of the chains together.

    "He-Hey wait! You're going to keep us chained together like this?"

    I shrug, "Well, obviously, I am." Without waiting for more complaints, I leave the room.

    "Eira, wait!" I glance back to see Aponi running toward me.

    I stop walking and turn toward Aponi, "Is something wrong?"

    Aponi rubs the back of her head, "Yeah, you know there are certain things people need to do...privately."

    "Like?"

    "Uh, like go to the bathroom and...other womanly things.."

    "Oh. Well, I can't do much about the second thing right now, but..." I glance around the room, spotting an expensive-looking vase.

    "Here, probably the most expensive toilet they'll ever use, and hey, it looks like there's another one in the other room as well." I point toward another vase in the next room.

    "Yeahhhh, that's not gonna cut it."

    "Listen, Aponi. I don't have the mana to let anyone else off right now. I barely had enough to fuse the chain together, and not only that, I don't trust them...at all. In fact, I'm bordering on giving up on them altogether."

    Aponi looks at me with confusion, "Mana?... Wait, what does giving up on them mean?"

    "It means I'm starting to think they aren't worth the trouble. I've dragged them along this far, and they've shown no gratitude! It's a disgrace to the Goddess, and not only that, but apparently, they thought about trying to get rid of me. The Goddess allowed them to live and gave you a second chance at life because she saw potential in you and usefulness in them, but in the end, the Goddess has left things to my discretion. If they ever try something like that again, Aponi, well, let's just say they'll  beg for death if they're even capable of begging at all."

    Some of the color leaves Aponi's face, "I-I..." Suddenly the symbol carved into her chest lights up, and Aponi grips at it and drops to her knees.

    "That mark was given to you by the Goddess as a reminder of your oath. Never forget who you agreed to follow Aponi. Eden, you, and...even I exist merely to serve the Goddess. Consider yourself lucky as most beings who worship any god never even get to feel their presence much less speak to them."

    Aponi's body shakes a little as she stares at the ground. With a subtle sound, her sunglasses drop from her face to the floor. She looks back up and stares at me with her bright red eyes that reflect the scarce light of the night. Looking into the eyes of another member of the blood race, I can feel a tinge of sympathy rise up.

    I once again sigh, take off my mask, and gaze into Aponi's eyes, with my own blood-red eyes. For a time, we stare at one another until we wordlessly come to an understanding.

    I frown and begin to walk away, "Tell them I can't do anything now, but later I'll let them off one at a time to shower or do whatever else they need. If you need anything...tell Audrey. Oh, and make sure you don't let the Tremble people go anywhere, they're a bit strange."

    I stop and take out a pair of handcuffs I took from a police officer back in Tokyo. I turn and toss them across the room to Aponi, "If they start acting strange, run this around the chain and handcuff them together or go ahead and do it. I'll leave it up to your discretion; don't disappoint me with your decision."

    Aponi nods, and I start making my way to where I think the master bedroom is, 'All that said, one of them will have to pay the price for what they tried to do, and I already know who that will be.'

    Finding my way to the master bedroom, I look around the room, finding a king-sized bed, a hand-carved desk with a big high backed chair, a long leather couch, and a big flat-screen television. More important than all of that, however, is the door to a big bathroom with a large marble bath.

    'If I wasn't the Goddess, I'd totally be thanking me right now.'

    I glance out the window and see that the sun hasn't started to rise just yet.

    'First, I should wait for the sun to come up first. Although it's pretty doubtful that the Crawlers have made it this far just yet. Especially with all the easy pickings elsewhere in the city.'

    Deciding to wait a bit longer before I shower, I glance at the ring on my finger and decide to look through the items I've acquired from completing my tasks.

    'System, I completed the task from earlier, did I receive my reward for it?'

    [Due to the Host going unconscious, the reward was not given at the time. Now distributing the reward.]

    [Ding!]

    [Side Task: Kill The Tar Demon - Complete]

    [Congratulations on killing the Tar Demon, Host. Although, this system has to admonish the Host for allowing yourself to get carried away and overusing your talent. Due to this, the Host was placed in a dangerous situation.]

    I frown, "I know. I let the Tar Demon get me a little heated and overreacted...would you had stepped in if things had gotten really bad or more specifically, could you?"

    [...]

    "...?"

    Recognizing that the system isn't going to answer, I move on, "Whatever; I'll be more careful. Let's just take a look at the items."

    I walk over to the desk and use my storage ring causing three items to appear in front of me onto the desk. First, an earring with a small glass globe attached to it. Within the globe, red electricity shoots from the center toward the outer edges of the globe. Next, a black book that seems to absorb any and all light from around it. Dark figures seem to dance upon its cover like a painting giving off an eerie feeling. Finally, the last item a black top hat with red flowers along its equally red brim.
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