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ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO STARTING A LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD FROM ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
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The various battles across the span of the city, were gradually meeting their end.
The destruction caused in the parts which had been turned into battlefields was immense, and the city’s faculty had been greatly impacted.
This very fact, which conveyed the extent of the catastrophe that had occurred in this city of Priestellaーー could be said to be the result, of the malice brought by the Witch Cult into the city.
Within the situation of such destruction continuing to rise and be inflicted, there existed a single battlefield with a different hair colour.
Rather, it may not even be appropriate to call it a battlefield.
Only the solemn sound of swords clashing echoed, with each of the swiping swords aiming for the other’s life.
Present there was only the tactless wish of two swordsmen, with the tips of their swords pointing towards each other, shredding everything unneeded, with their, what could be at least said, true desire upon them.
The swords’ blade continued to gleam under the moonlight, and the swordsmen continued to exchange love over clashes of steel.
Sharp reports, scattering sparks, the grey and red hair continued to dance under the rays of the moon.
It was a swords dance so magnificent and polished, it would eventually steal the glance of all audiences, or rob them of their hearts, it was such that even the Sword God would ululate.
The unimaginably lustrous movement of the longsword, as if blading through water.
Bouncing back, the twin swords swept through the breeze, striking each other as if lightning.
As if dancing a performance of reciprocated fixation, the swords of the two continued to intertwine with each other.
Wilhelm accepted the sword slash of the one in front of him, of Thearesia, who was still as beautiful as when she had been young, from the front, bathed in the sword slash with the same vigour, and felt grief at the reaction he felt in his palm.
Boiling up from the depths of his body, was the acclamation of the heart of his immature self, despite his age.
ーーHe was getting excited.
ーーHe was getting delighted.
ーーHe was blooming.
With honesty, must he affirm.
The Sword Demon Wilhelm thought back to the days before, and yearned for the present where he could, once again, connect with his youthful wife. His heart had been scorched by that.
His mind was now occupied by the thought, by how much he desired and how he would be willing to abandon everything, if only this exchange of swords, this tryst, just like this, never came to an end.
Such greed was blasphemy, it was unforgivable for him to even bear it.
Blasphemy, to the untiring days the Sword Demon Wilhelm had dedicated to the sword.
Blasphemy, to his oath of taking away the sword, from the Sword Saint Thearesia, once he put her to defeat.
Blasphemy, to his feelings for utmost dedication to his master, as a swordsman.
The love that lit up the chest of Wilhelm van Astrea, following it detachedly, would be blasphemy to everything that was living in this world at this moment.
ーーHenceforth, he must not keep settling it for later.
ーーRegardless of how much these moments, had proven to be a delightful paradise for the Sword Demon.
Wilhelm: “Hiy, a~a~a~a~!!”
A mute slash of the sword, like a storm, swept through, to which he responded with his own barrage of innumerable sword strikes.
With long, deep red hair swaying, the movements of Thearesia, who was clad in white clothes, had no faltering.
Like a leaf that had fallen into a stream, the lethal sword was fired from the interior of her completely natural stance.
Up, down, left, right, her sword strikes had no particular angle.
However, as the attacks overlapped, Wilhelm felt something be slightly off. And the convincing sense of something being off, was something he felt also in her responses.
Thearesia van Astrea’s ability as a swordsman was exceptional.
That was something, in those days, which were the golden days of Wilhelm’s physicality, he had rivalled once, which lay unquestionably in the territory of pure swordsmanship.
Right now, that skill continued to bode in Thearesia’s blade, as she stood in front of him, silent.
The art of a Sword Saint, to mercilessly kill adversaries, that brought both relief and envy to guardians.
ーーHowever, her current self and her self of those days, had a realm of decisive difference in between.
As the twin sword and longsword collided face to face and sparks scattered around, remarked the Sword Demon.
Locking swords, Wilhelm stared intensely into the blue eyes on the other side of the sword’s blade.
Wilhelm: “Without even a need to compare, it’s light, Thearesia. ーーYour sword, which dropped its heavy load, is it something so light.”
A certain tone, those words mixed with disappointment, however, the eyebrows of her beautiful face did not even twitch.
Thearesia, with perfectly clear eyes, lacking all emotion, was returning a look to Wilhelm.
No refutation, no revolt, they did not even have enmity.
She used to be a woman who used to often smile, often get angry, often sulk.
She used to be a woman beautiful like the blade when she was silent, but the times of her being silent were almost none.
She used to be a woman like a spherical flower, blooming under the sun.
ーーSo, her state now, was nothing but tragic.
Present there was only the shell of his silent wife.
As he exchanged slashes of swords with the figure he had continued to love, Wilhelm’s heart shattered into fragments.
Springing as if having returned to the days of the past, waning as if understanding the days of the past could not be returned to, casting aside the days of the past as if having a dream like the bubble on the surface.
ーーFor fifteen years, what kind of a life must Thearesia have lead.
When he thought back to the time when he had lost her, and dedicated himself to vengeance, the incurable wound on Wilhelm’s shoulder ascertained itself.
A wound inflicted by the 『Divine Protection of Death God』, never disappears.
It was a Divine Protection aside from the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』 bestowed upon Thearesia by the Sword God, in order to bring an end to those days of war.
A single cut could produce a river of blood, just a few slashes could pile up a mountain of corpses.
Henceforth, there lay no necessity of superficial cleverness and artfulness, for her, to cut off the thread of life.
Indeed, the only way of defeating Thearesia, was through swordsmanship superior to that of hers.
Wilhelm of the past had shred himself to his extreme limits, with such austerity that converted his own self into a sword, continued till the very end, had he really managed to accomplish that.
There was no way of defeating Thearesia, who, too, got her abilities boosted to their very limit through the 『Divine Protection of the Sword Saint』.
And now, having exchanged swords with her youthful self, Wilhelm understood.
ーーThe abilities with the sword were transcendent, and lay in the territory of dexterity. However, there was one enormous shadow upon that swordsmanship.
Wilhelm: “Even if you felt troubled before holding the sword, you no longer felt troubled after holding it. You were a woman, who knew that even better than myself.”
Wilhelm: “Do you remember the day we parted. At the occasion of the Great Subjugation, you shook me up, as I stopped you, and inflicted an incurable wound upon this shoulder. ーーThe words of that time, I have not forgotten even a single one of them.”
She did not answer. He did not demand it.
This was just, Wilhelm’s ceremony, looking back at that day.
Along with the pain of this shoulder, the memory etched to it was also resuscitated.
Whilst she commenced with the Great Subjugation, with the journey she could possibly never return from, Thearesia had literally let go off herself from Wilhelm, and had said.
ーーWhen I return, that day, please let me hear the words I could not hear.
Wilhelm: “I have come here, to fulfill the promise of that dayーー!”
The twin sword roared, and Thearesia’s longsword strummed.
The former Sword Saint swung the blade utilising that recoil but, Wilhelm, without even looking at that counterattack, dodged by fully reading through its trajectory.
He knew it.
Where the blade was going to come, enough that he loved it.
Wilhelm: “Ru, o~o~o~o~!”
The habits were the same. The techniques were the same.
Scorched onto his soul, within the austerity of his former self, when he shred himself, he had painted them in his mind, the sword techniques of the Sword Saint he was in pursuit of.
Defeating her, swearing to take it away from her, reaching that region, he yearned for, he yearned for, and they got scorched onto his soul.
It was the same, along with her figure, which warmed his chest.
Even against Wilhelm’s appeal, the crimson beautiful face did not flinch, even slightly.
As the sword aimed for its catch soundlessly, silently, emotionlessly, Wilhelm shot it down altogether.
He loved it so much, that he knew it even with his eyes closed.
That is precisely why, now he chose to love it without closing his eyes.
ーーAbove, returned the slash, exchanged swipes, raised the blade, slashed the sword diagonally.
Accepting the blade raining down upon him, and sinking the counter attacking strike, dodging the swipe then released, gyrating his body around the leaping point if the sword, both, who had slashed diagonally across each other’s shoulders, then entwined their swords as the key performer, and shifted the counterattack.
Surpassing the blows with an elegant safeguard, impossibility arose in Thearesia’s swordsmanship.
Thearesia, who had accumulated the blows, retreated, and Wilhelm plunged into that gap without any hesitation.
For a single moment, emotion arose in Thearesia’s eyes, who was looking at the Sword Demon.
No, it was his misapprehension. His effeminate heart, had pulled out the memory of a situation of the past, exactly the same as this.
ーーWithin the sights of abundant citizens, Wilhelm had struck and defeated the lead actor of the ceremony, the 『Sword Saint』, and robbed being a swordsman from the youth named Thearesia.
The return of that situation, exactly the same, as this one.
Then, the conclusion too, would be, again.
Wilhelm: “Thearesiaーー ~hk!!”
Wilhelm attacked the longsword, flying towards her bosom.
The Sword Demon hoisted up his twin sword against it, and unable to bear the load, there occurred a fissure in the blade. But, at the same time the longsword repelled it by turning right overhead, and half of Thearesia’s body largely opened up.
Drawing a large semi circle, Wilhelm’s twin sword made its return.
Since the origin of this tryst and till this point, Thearesia, who was right in front of his eyes, produced the greatest gap yet. With the muscles of his arms swelling up, he gripped the handle of the sword, to the point it was creaking.
And wielding the attack with all of his might, now must he put an end to this inconceivable reunionーー.
ーーHe tried to, put an end to it.
Violent passion packed his throat, with countless facial expressions floating in his eyes.
Her face when crying, her face when angry, her face when sulking, her face when smiling, floating were the beloved expressions, of the same woman.
Shaking that off completely, Wilhelm shot down the blade.
The sword slice dashed, and straight from the head to the torso of the womanーー.
Before the slash struck, a person’s shadow appeared at the corner of Wilhelm’s eyes.
At the utmost limit of concentration, it was a fluctuation in his consciousness originally impossible. However, that was all there was to it. Without any kind of influence, it was nothing beyond he could simply ignore.
As a swordsman, risking his life, he must cross swords at the border of life and death, outsiders could never create any room of doubt in that.
Devoting his everything to the existence in front of his eyes, he fulfilled his purpose with a sword slash befitting of the Sword Demon.
That was supposed to be what he was going to do. That was supposed to be what he could do.
ーーIf only the person’s shadow reflected, had not been that of a person of red.
There was distance in between.
The doubtful voice was not at a distance that its echo would reach Wilhelm.
Even still, he felt as if the voice was whispering right into his ear.
Looking towards him, was a man with blue eyes and red hair.
Heinkel Astrea, was observing the final moments of this battle.
Simply dazed, at the conclusion of the deadly swordsmanship of his father, Wilhelm, and his mother, Thearesia, as they aimed for each other’s life.
ーーAt that moment, the glint of his sword became dull.
He was supposed to have had fired a decisive strike.
Pouring himself into the trends of the fight, a sword strike that was supposed to bring an end to this long dreamーー that glint dulled, giving birth to a scope for counter attacking.
Thearesia bent her body immensely, and reversing her wrist, the returning longsword rejected away the twin sword.
The sound of the two blades colliding echoed, and she disarrayed down the strike, that had promised to wound her, with her heart, technique, physique, and distanced his purpose further away from fulfillment, as sparks scattered around.
Wilhelm: “Kh…… ~hk.”
ーーWhy, did he notice.
Receiving the blow of the sword fluttering in the wind, sidestepping its weight, Wilhelm clashed head-on with his emerging doubts with all of his heart.
If he had not noticed Heinkel’s existence, or if he had ignored that existence, if he had concentrated on Thearesia, he would not be in this unsightly shape he was in now.
He had determined to dedicate his entire life, and take Thearesia away from the Sword God.
The result of that exaggerated decision, did it have to be this predicament.
Once again, started the chaining of the sound of a light sword strike.
However, the blade that had formerly turned transparent after the exchange of blows, that swords dance had already been lost.
Foreign impurities had intermingled.
Using all kinds of strengths of all possible limits, further enhancing the purity of the blade, had all been lost by the edge of the sword, which was supposed to have had swung only twice, by a single appearance on the other side.
What was left was a single strike by the aged Sword Demon at his beloved wife, in front of their son.
Without becoming a sword, without living as a Sword Demon, he was far too immature, far too deficient, as a father, as a husband, as a swordsman, as a man.
Eventually being rendered incapable of a single swing, he realised his immaturity.
He was unable to stop evil from mixing, with the essence of his swordsmanship that was pouring into the sword.
Henceforth, this result may have been inevitable.
Shooting down the two blades, he, immediately afterwards, jolted the longsword.
Receiving the power of the sword strike with stupid earnesty, and the strengths were being compared in the gap created by Thearesia stopping her legs– the moment he overcame the resistance and stepped ahead, the slender body in front of his eyes rotated, creating a vacuum around.
A leg appeared before him, halfway, and a gap was born.
Immediately afterwards, sense of demise approached him.
He received the extremely powerful sword slash, whose coldness could not be questioned, by gyrating his sword towards the rear with not even a millisecond of delay.
Without being able to stop the shattering attack, his sword, that had accepted it, encroached deeply into his own shoulder. Stepping as if on a foot bellow, the body that had bent forward spouted blood. His bones creaked, his muscles palpitated a lighting in his brain.
The right blade had accepted it. The left blade still remained.
With blood flowing out of the edge of his mouth, Wilhelm, with his right blade, as if carrying it on his shoulder, once again deflected Thearesia’s longsword upwards.
Without any inaccuracies, Thearesia’s longsword was raised overhead.
At the same time, the sword fell out of Wilhelm’s right hand. He did not mind it. If his right hand was now free, he must dedicate all his strength into the remaining left blade and strike.
With his left blade, he smashed the blow into Thearesia, behind.
His right drew a trajectory, and pierced upright into Thearesiaーー,
And a sound echoed, a high-pitched report.
The weight of the blade in his hand was halved, and Wilhelm, with his own errors, who had countlessly recognised his own weakness, once again noticed it.
The moment he struck Thearesia with the attack, Wilhelm chose to act unconsciously.
The blade gripped in his left, to strike it by rotating it towards the left or towards the left.
A slight, mere, meagre difference.
But at the same time, for those two, who had attained the extremity of swordsmanship, it was a lethal variation.
If he chose velocity, left, or if he opted for strength then right.
After getting caught up in that choice, if he realised that he had erred in that action, things could still be helped.
Wilhelm, deciding whether or not he should look at Thearesia straight up, in that single instant, lost his way.
Accepting the Sword Demon’s attack, was a single swing released by Thearesia’s grip.
Catching hold of it while it was mid-air, Thearesia cut into the trajectory of the attack.
The moment she accepted the sword, and engaged with it while standing still, she swung it down with immense force. That cracked the belly of Wilhelm’s sword, and rejected the steel without facing any resistance.
The longsword fragmented his sword, and Wilhelm perceived the loss of his special weapon. Instantly gripping to the handle of the fractured sword, he prepared for the following attack, which was in his instinct as a swordsman.
However, that preparedness would bear fruit, if only he differed in purity as a swordsman.
In that respect, her self, in front of his eyes, was the worst possible opponent.
The Sword Demon who lost his sword, and the 『Sword Saint』 loved by the Sword God.
That difference was clear, there was no necessity for mentioning it.
ーーIn the juncture when he forgot to even blink his eyes, Wilhelm saw the longsword pierce through his right leg.
It was a sword so beautiful, he almost got charmed by it.
The blade penetrated into the joint of the aged swordsman’s right leg, and the edge of the sword was contaminated by minimal blood.
Without any unneeded destruction, right through the gap between muscle fibres and nerves, taking away only the functionality of the leg, it was the excellence of preeminent swordsmanship.
The lack of resistance was such that it seemed as if the blade was only swiping through water.
With that performance being held upon his own right leg, Wilhelm’s back shuddered.
Was that feeling admiration, vexation, infatuation, the person concerned did not know, which one complied.
What he did know, was only the truth of his defeat being thrust into his face.
Wilhelm: “Gh, ugh…… ~hk.”
As the blade hid in his right leg and slid through, the height of his knees was divided.
Just as when the longsword had pierced in, as his flesh was drawn out soundlessly, Wilhelm groaned at the delayed pain and crumbled down.
As blood flooded out of his leg’s wound, his lower body was rendered powerless.
If the power of the 『Divine Protection of Death God』 was invoked, any type of healing magic may he used, but it will not heal. If the wielder of the Divine Protection was close, then the closer the distance, the more it’s effectivity increased, no matter how slight the wound, it became a curse that eroded away life, and coerced endless bloodshed upon the victim.
The wound on Wilhelm’s right leg, was not so slight to be called a shallow wound. It was a gash that could be life threatening if it was neglected, and the 『Divine Protection of Death God』 was obliged to, and refused all recovery.
It seemed as if the deadline for his life, had been set for a period excessively short.
As his brain was being scorched by the pain, he leaked out his grief before his anguish.
The sense of pain was stimulating a scream without any interruption, but Wilhelm revealed it on his face only by furrowing his eyebrows and nothing else.
He was not frivolously holding it back, or affixing it to his willpower.
The sharp stimulus upon his body, no matter what, did not let his heart shelter from the shade of darkness.
While despair, despondency, and his own cowardliness and worthlessness was being scorched into his soul, how much meaning could physical pain hold for this aged swordsman.
Dropping the sword in his hand, Wilhelm put his hand on the mouth of the wound.
The bleeding was supposed to leak away his life but, the defeated had no intention of maintaining distance without any disgrace. However, according to etiquette, he must not meet his end by something like blood loss.
He had fought as a swordsman, he had opposed as a swordsman, he had been defeated as a swordsman.
Then, the life of the defeated, was to be taken away by the sword of the victor.
Wilhelm: “Thearesia, I am……”
The female swordsman of crimson, with her longsword on being carried on her shoulder, was looking down towards Wilhelm.
In those eyes, truly, there was no deep emotion present. Without remembering anything till the end, and continuing to not remember anything, she was the death god of the sword who was going to reap Wilhelm’s life.
He looked up at the beautiful face, to the point he was fascinated by it.
Thearesia, silently, swung the sword in front of Wilhelm. When that sword would come down, Wilhelm’s life, too, would come to an end.
Wilhelm: “All alone, never……!”
The moment the longsword descended, Wilhelm extended his right hand. Over there, the fragment of the twin swordーー the sword Thearesia had cast aside, was lying there.
Wilhelm picked it up with his fingers, and floundered, unable to accept the moment of his death, till the end of the end.
His defeat, that remained.
That could not be helped.
But her, now, he must not render Thearesia, her, alone.
Unable to stop his wife, who was being made to swing the sword against her will, he could not allow her to advance towards Crusch, whom he was greatly indebted towards, or Subaru and the rest.
If his life, being burned, was insufficient, then he did not mind the destruction of his soul after death.
ーーHowever, the brandish of that resolution was.
Keeping her sword held tight, Thearesia leapt a great distance backwards.
The blade he held in his right hand, she was a distance that its swipe would not reach her. At a position which Wilhelm, who had his leg injured, would not be able to reach, Thearesia slightly inclined her neck.
Emotionless eyes, seeing a terribly empty colour in them, Wilhelm, for the first time, got frightened.
That fear, was a fear that arose in his instinct, in Wilhelm’s instincts as a swordsman.
There lay no necessity to go out of the way and deliver a finishing blow, to a prey bearing fatal injuries.
With the pride of a swordsman lost long ago, there was the judgement which could be passed only by a cool-headed death god.
Wilhelm: “Wait…… Wait, Thearesia!!”
Wilhelm shouted, at the dread of being left behind.
His leg didn’t hurt. Forgetting the pain of his right leg, Wilhelm tried to pursue the distant Thearesia. However, the pain, or at the very least, the wound, was real. Without any strength, he tumbled. Potently striking his shoulder, the aged swordsman made an expression, conveying how unforgivable this was.
Swinging about her long, red hair, Thearesia became further distant.
Ahead of the path of her self’s footsteps, was Heinkel, standing upright.
The longsword, with no decline in fighting spirit hitherto, established him as its next prey.
Slashing the man whom she did not know was her husband, she will next slash the man whom she did not know was her son, for thatーー.
Wilhelm: “Stop, Thearesia! Do you think that is…… that is forgivable!? Fight with me! Look at me…… at me! Look at me, at me, Thearesia~a~a~a~!!”
With a voice, as if it was bleeding, Wilhelm called Thearesia.
Innumerable times, countless times, that name which he had called in front of her, with the figure he had thought of innumerable times and with the figure that used to be exactly the same innumerable times, the anger instead of the muted love, the insanity instead of ardour, putting all of it into it.
However, the woman did not look back.
Holding tightly the sword where abode the death god, the woman commenced heading towards Heinkel. Heinkel inhaled at that form stepping up, and was unable to unsheathe the knight sword he had with his hands, that should have been swung.
Heinkel: “W-Wait, I said wait. Y-You…… Thearesia he said, no way? It can’t be possible…… It, can’t be mother…… ~hk.”
Heinkel: “No, even if it isn’t mother…… that’s not it! Fa-Father had become like that, so…… shit! What is this! Just what is this, what are you doi~ng!”
Becoming imminent in front of his eyes, was Thearesia of her young days.
That form, and the form of her as a mother within Heinkel, overlapped. He shook his neck horizontally in repudiation, and desperately tried to deny the spectacle in front of his eyes, voicing words he was unable to put a halt to.
His knees sneered, his line of sight disarrayed, and his figure, while holding the sword, too, seemed frail.
Faced with the former 『Sword Saint』, there was not even the slightest chance for him to hold it.
At this rate, unquestionably, Heinkel will get slashed to his death by Thearesia.
Only that was something, which could not be allowed to happen.
Wilhelm: “Thearesia! Here! I am still alive! If you want to kill then kill me first! Heinkel, there’s no way you can do it! Right this instant, flee!!”
Supporting himself with the sword, Wilhelm stood up feeling as if he was crunching stones. With no room for grasping his wound, his burden spanned, furthermore, his blood gushed out.
The cobblestone subsequently, after the overflow of fresh blood, turned into the colour of red, and while pulling the thread of that blood, Wilhelm pursued Thearesia’s back.
Distant. Too distant.
Slow. Too slow.
Once again, Wilhelm did not make it. Once again, Wilhelm could not reach it.
Wilhelm: “Hugh…… ~hk.”
Thearesia’s longsword drew an arc, and the knight sword of Heinkel, who had tugged in his shoulders, accepted it.
With not even the slightest stagnation, and Heinkel’s knight sword left his hands too quickly, raising a shrill sound as it bounced on the cobblestone.
Heinkel: “S-Stop…… Please stop, m-mom……. ~hk.”
Rendered unarmed, the frightened Heinkel fell on his bottom at that spot. Flailing around his limbs desperately, Heinkel tried to escape, as if crawling.
However, his moving fingers, his terrified heart, Thearesia’s emotionless eyes, tied his mind and body to fear, and he was rendered almost completely immobile at the spot.
His throat was parched, he wiped off the heavy amounts of cold sweat he was perspiring, Heinkel made a pallid face.
There had possibly been some incontinence there as well. However, having been robbed of the composure to be embarrassed at that, Heinkel stared at the tip of the longsword hoisted up.
ーーAs if slicing the moon, the longsword extended straight towards the heavens.
At the brink of his life, Wilhelm witnessed the sight of his wife slash their son to his death in front of his eyes.
He raised his voice. It did not reach.
He stretched his hand. It did not reach.
No strength remained in the merely shouting voice of the Sword Demon, who had been unable to dedicate his everything into the sword.
Heartlessly, the longsword was swung to cut off Heinkel’s lifeーー.
???: “ーーThat’s as far as it goes.”
That voice suddenly, but distinctly, cut into the tension, which seemed to be stinging.
With a dignified tone and not a single fragment of vacillation in it, it wielded no pardon. Those who heard it were struck with the sense of the presence of an overwhelming existence, and it was only natural to follow its intentions.
Wilhelm, Heinkel, and even Thearesia halted all movement.
Ahead of the line of sight of the three, stood a single youth.
Blazing red hair, like fire, perfectly clear, glittering blue eyes which had captured the sky.
Even while his white outfit bad been contaminated by blood and mud, the figure, standing straight, had no need at all for words to decorate him aside from heroic.
The youth, slowly, continued to advance towards the place.
In that hand, was a scabbard with the engravings of deep wounds, and a knight sword unsheathed from that scabbard.
With the sword blade polished to the point of abnormality, he clutched to the Dragon Sword Reid.
ーーThe voice of the laughter of the Sword God, resonated raucously in the ears of the Sword Demon.