Riches and Spoils that decay with Time. Chapter 1


Chapter 1

The Futility of mortality

You know…I never really knew what the phrase ‘Hell on Earth.’ really meant up until now. And I can confirm without certainty of a doubt that the saying is right…

“What the fuck?! What do you mean you’re pregnant?!”

It was just one mistake…

“Honey! You can’t do this to me! We’ve been together all these years! Does that mean nothing to you?!”

In my drunken stupor, I messed up…

“I told you to keep using birth control you stupid bitch! How many fucking times did I remind you every time before we had sex huh?! You know damn well I hate kids!”

I messed up…I know that…

“But…you I-if you wore a condom, we could’ve-”

*Smack!*

Before I could react, he gave me a backhanded slap to the face.

“What was that?! You know how much I hate wearing a condom. SEX DOESN’T FEEL THE SAME WITHOUT IT YOU DUMBASS!!!”

I had it all from money to food to expensive clothes. I had everything I wanted and more. All I had to do was stay pretty for him and occasionally fuck him.

“Get out!”

It was just one mistake…only one…

“Wh-what?! You can’t do that! We’re a couple aren’t we?!”

It was just an honest mistake, and yet…

“OUT!!! I never want to see you again you damn moron!”

In a blink of an eye, I lost everything that I worked for. This was the only way I knew how to live. Relying on others since I hadn’t finished school to be a responsible adult like my parents wanted me to. They wouldn’t understand though.

Teachers judged you before you even had a chance to say your piece. Boys treating you like some sort of sex object, and girls that envied you and called you an attention whore. It didn’t matter how diligent I was at school if every person either expected you to fail or had no expectations for you from the start.

Of course, I’d drop out of school from all that bullshit. And when you try to explain to your parents that all those problems happen at school, they simply say that I’m spoiled or I’m just being a cry baby.

So after being kicked out, I had to survive by hooking up with any guy I could find, becoming the very sex object I always protested in my youth. For a while, I jumped from guy to guy, from ones that were fat to smoking studs that had a serious case of narcissism. As long as they had a thick wallet and a pension for spoiling, I didn’t care who they were or what they liked.

I know the relationships with them weren’t genuine, but when I was given all the clothes and money to spend on whatever I wished, I felt like my opinions mattered, because I had a choice on what to buy and what to spend it on. With their sweet words, fat wallets, and their need for attention, it gave me a false sense of love that I grew used to.

Then one day, I stumbled on a goldmine. He had everything I wanted, and the only thing that he didn’t want was kids, something I had no interest in either. All the other guys I was with were always egging me to have kids with them, which is why I eventually left them. But after getting pregnant when I forgot to take birth control, everything I worked for fell apart.

I tried to sue him for abandoning me, but I failed due to in part of my intoxication being my fault as well as the fact he had all the money in the world to pay for a really good lawyer while I was left with no money when he kicked me out, forcing me to have the provided attorney given to me by law, who hardly sympathized with my case.

Desperate, I went to go get an abortion, but that also didn’t work as I was well past the twelve-week limit. The way I found out about my pregnancy was from the sudden bump I got in my gut that I first thought was fat. A pregnancy test quickly proved I was wrong though…

So here I am, kicked out with no place left to go. The only silver lining I had was the fact that I had the smarts to have a savings account from all the other men I’ve been with before. Along with public healthcare, I was able to give birth to my son Fabio without hardly paying anything.

From the moments before I gave birth, Hell would’ve welcomed me in its fiery embrace with all the different ways I thought of getting rid of my soon-to-be-born baby. But from the moment I held him in my arms, I felt a sense of maternal duty that I never knew I could have. His grey eyes staring at his deplorable mother, I cried right on the spot from both the heavy sense of guilt of having the thoughts of getting rid of him, as well as the joy I felt from having my baby boy in my arms!

I knew it was going to be hard, but I was prepared to be a mother, giving him everything I could and didn’t have. Though, I was definitely in over my head…

Living in a crappy apartment compared to a fully furnished house like I was used to, I quickly found out how expensive it was to live while taking care of Fabio. It wasn’t his fault that he was born, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t hate myself for being reckless that day.

In the years I spent having only spent money for myself, I realized that my savings wouldn’t be enough to keep us going. Knowing nothing else, I turned to prostitution to get cash as it was a fast way to earn it and it was something I was familiar with.

That too had its fair share of difficulties though. For one, I couldn’t leave my baby boy alone, so my clientele was pretty small since I had to bring my baby with me whenever I got scouted. And for a couple of years it worked…but…

“Goddamit bitch! What’s up with your used-up pussy huh?! It’s too damn loose!” The men who did use my body were rough, inconsiderate, heartless.

“OWOWOWOWOW! Please don’t pull on my hair!” It didn’t matter at that point how much I gussied up. Whether I had my naturally long, brunette hair or a short black, they all treated me roughly.

“What was that?! You’re talking back to your precious client like that?! Well, in that case, you can get the fuck out and leave!”

“What?! Fi-fine! You still owe me money though!” The fat bastard ignored me as he got off the bed. He took a cigar from his drawer before lighting it and taking a puff before he blew all the smoke at my face.

“Pay you? HA! Yeah right! I ain’t paying shit for that piece of shit you call a pussy! I should’ve known better when I heard you had a kid, but I thought you’d still be tight!” This fucking asshole…

“You can’t do that! I’ll sue your ass for this!” I should’ve watched what I said before I said it.

“Sue me?! You’re just a high school dropout whore!” He threw his cigar at me, burning my left cheek. “You’re the one whoring yourself out you know? Isn’t it illegal to sell your body in the first place?” Kicking the door to the bedroom door open, he walked out to where Fabio is.

“Now…get the fuck out of my house bitch!” He walked to and stared at Fabio. As a five-year-old, my son tried to talk back when he saw me crying, but his dirty look and screaming voice quickly brought him to tears, prompting me to come to his aid. I ignored the fact that I was naked, hugging him while he pressed his face on my chest to cry. “And take your brat with you!” After gathering my things. I left that assholes place along with my dignity and no money to work with.

That pig-headed man along with the other clients I had from then on led to an eventual phobia of men. I…I couldn’t even be near a man without shivering in fear and distrust anymore!

I tried applying for jobs too, anything at this point. Waitress, cashier, even janitorial duties, I tried to apply to them all. Each job that I got only lasted me a couple of months at most. My phobia of men or my lack of job experience had led me to jump from job to job just to make ends meet.

With no friends to turn to and no money to spend on a babysitter, I did the unthinkable and left my son who was now seven years old alone whenever I went to my jobs. I always kept the hours I worked at for four hours at the most so I wouldn’t have to leave him alone for too long.

He’s a bright boy…so much so that I regretted not having enough time or money to give him the education deserved. He understood the situation we were in, happily complying with my selfish request and staying home by himself. He learned how to read from the times I could rent books in the library for him, and even learned how to use the microwave and wash the dishes by simply watching me.

What I was doing, it’s wrong no matter how much I rationalized it in my head, but he always listened to me obediently, happy as long as I came back home.

I also had monster girls to compete with as well in terms of jobs. With some of them having an unfair advantage over us humans, I grew a disdain for them from taking all the high-paying jobs that I could’ve gotten. This disdain grew to jealousy, and at one point, I even came to the idea of just giving up my humanity to become one. But whenever the idea came up, my son would always come to mind.

Would it really be okay to be a monster while I have a human son to take care of? Should I forsake my humanity just so I could take care of him? These plagued me to no end as I struggled to compete.

By the time Fabio was ten years old, I was at my wit’s end on what to do. Kicked out of our apartment after failing to pay the rent on time, I was on the verge of homelessness as even food would become an issue.

Fast forward to the present day a few weeks later, I couldn’t handle it anymore. The urge to want to end it all started to creep into my mind. Before the love I have for my son wavers, I had to make the hardest decision in my entire life so far.

Going to an adoption center, I decided to give Fabio up for adoption. It’s not because I don’t love him…no…it’s because I love him that I went through with it. I was treated fairly well by my parents up until my high school days when I started failing, but my situation was even worse. How can I even give my kid the education he needs if I can’t even provide him a roof under his head. Maybe my parents were right. Maybe if I had just toughed up and pressed on with high school, I would’ve never had to deal with all this.

However, if I had done that, I never would’ve had Fabio in the first place. Through the years he spent with me, not once did he complain about our way of life. He was always grateful for what we had, no matter how little it was. He was born out of my sheer stupidity, but I would never, ever regret giving birth to such a sweet young man.

It’s because I love him and that I want him to have a bright future that I had no choice but to leave him to someone more capable.

Leaving him in the kid’s playroom area, I had a talk with the receptionist in private about why I was giving Fabio up for adoption. The receptionist was also a monster girl, a Hakutaku to be exact. Keeping her sharp eyes locked onto me, she probably noticed the disdain I carried for her kind, but I had to control it…for Fabio’s sake.

“Here we are.” Leading me into a small office, She took a seat next to her office table. I decided to stay standing up. “What’s the matter? There’s a seat for you right behind you.” The way she’s looking at me, like staring down at someone who’s dirty.

“I don’t want to get your nice chair all dirty miss…” I looked around her table until I saw her name on a small display. “Sagaki…” Staring her right in the eyes, she narrowed her eyes as if to judge me. “Aren’t I nice? Being considerate for your stuff with how filthy I look? It’s obvious from how you’re looking at me!” Her gaze never shifted once.

“It must’ve been hard for you wasn’t it?”

“Wha-?! Of course, Isn’t it fucking obvious with how I look?!” Torn clothes that were covered in stains, no makeup to hide my scars, and disgustingly frizzed hair that water alone couldn’t fix! Is she just trying to humiliate me by getting me to admit that?! That’s when I noticed that she took a deep breath and shook her head side to side.

“I’m not talking about how you look physically dear.” I stood still, waiting for her to continue. “The way your son Fabio was clinging to you along with how your eyes softened so whenever you spoke to him. You’re a wonderful mother, one of the kindest I’ve seen walking in these doors…”

“…” I couldn’t say anything. Even when I tried, nothing would come out. Instead, my vision started to go hazy before the tears came. I fell to my knees as I started crying without hesitation.

“From the moment I saw you and Fabio walking in front of the reception booth, I could tell right away just how much you care and love for your son Fabio miss Valery.” How could she possibly know from a glance?! Maybe monster girls from her kind can read minds…no that’s not right! Wait, why am I thinking about that right now?! Why is she being so kind to me?! Aren’t I a scumbag mother for leaving my son from another person’s perspective?!

“H-how could you possibly know that?” Barely able to say what was on my mind, I felt something on my right shoulder. I look up at Sagaki, leaning down to smile at me.

“I’ve seen many parents come and go in these doors, so I acquired a keen eye that discerns parents who bring their kids here for various reasons. From what I can guess, you’re giving Fabio up because you have to, for his sake right? Fabio’s clothes for one are in better shape than yours. He also looked healthier and cleaner too. This tells me that you were prioritizing your son over yourself right?” She was spot in with that guess. Was I wrong about my opinion of monster girls? No…she’s probably an exception.

“Plus, the way your son was clinging to you and calling you mommy tells me that he loves you very much, just as much as you love him.” Trying to calm myself down, I try to wipe the tears off my stained face. That’s when Sagaki handed a handkerchief to me. I reached out for it with my right hand, but I hesitated since I didn’t want to get it dirty. That’s when she gently wiped my face for me.

“Sorry…I know I’m being too physical here. Who knows what kinds of abuse you went through. But it’d be such a shame to see such a kind-hearted mother crying like this.” Her touch… was so gentle and careful. By the time she finished cleaning my face, I almost felt a sense of longing, wanting to feel that gentle touch some more. I’m convinced, I can trust her.

“There. Now then…” Sagaki leaned up again and brought the chair closer to me. “Why don’t you sit down alright? I need to know why such a loving mother was forced to give up her child.” Seeing no reason to protest, I took my seat before Sagaki took her own at the other side of the table. “So…tell me more about how all of this came to be alright?” It wasn’t easy to spill my guts to anyone, but each time I shared an aspect of my story, she’d chime in and give her own piece, letting me know she listened carefully to everything I said. It’s like she actually cared.

After what felt like an hour of talking while Sagaki took notes and gave me papers to sign, it was time for me to say goodbye to Fabio. The moment I came into the playroom, Fabio ran up to me for a hug, clinging tightly to my legs.

“There you are, mommy! I got scared for a moment when you left. But mom, there’s kids here too!” Fabio was pointing at the other children. They all looked to be near his age. Some were monster girls, but if Sagaki who’s standing right beside me is any indication to go with, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry.

“That’s great honey! You’re having fun right?” It was nice to see Fabio having fun for once. Even though he insisted that he was always having fun as long as he was with me, I knew that he would’ve had a much better quality of life if someone more capable would take care of him.

“Yup! All the other kids here are really nice! There are lots of toys and…and videogames to play with!” It’s such a relief to hear that he’s having fun here. I can trust to leave him here until someone else more capable can take care of him.

I grabbed his hand as we walked away from the playroom area and went back with Sagaki to her office. Once we closed the doors, we had the privacy needed for what was to come.

“Fa-Fabio…you like it here a whole lot, right? Like a lot a lot?”

“Uh huh! This place is awe…mommy? What’s wrong?” Fabio stopped smiling and looked at me with those little grey eyes of his. His smile withered away before looking worried. “Mommy, are you okay? Why do you look so sad?”

“Uh…well…” I wanted to lie, saying that I’d come back for him, but I brought this up earlier with Sagaki. She told me it’d be better to be honest, even if I ended up hurting Fabio.

“Fabio…listen to me.” Fabio’s a smart boy, so I’m sure he’s figured it out by now. “I’m blessed to have had you. You’re such a sweet boy, and you deserve a better life.” I saw the light fade from Fabio’s eyes. He moved his head frantically to look around him, then looked back at me before tears started to swell from his eyes.

“N-no! Mommy, you’re not leaving, are you?! Did I do something wrong?!” It was heartwrenching to hear his voice crack. This isn’t what I wanted, but I know it’s for the best.

“Of course not sweety! You didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Then why are you leaving me, mommy! I said I was happy even if I didn’t have toys or games, as long as I’m with you mommy!”

“Mommy! I won’t complain okay! I don’t care if I don’t have toys or games, as long as I’m with you mommy!” Damn it all! I didn’t even bother suppressing my tears. I kneeled down and hugged him as hard as I could. The maternal instincts I got through the years I had Fabio was screaming to me not to let him go!

But the more rational side of me knew that he’d be better off with someone else who could give him the home and education that he deserved.

“I’m sorry Fabio sweetie. You didn’t do anything wrong okay! It’s just mommy can’t bear to have her sweet, loving boy live with mommy in such a deplorable way!” Sagaki quietly watched the two of us, looking like she was hurting too from watching this. Everything of value I had left, I sold to buy Fabio everything he needed to be comfortable. Yet…YET!

“Mommy! Please I’ll be good! Don’t leave me!!!” I knew this was for the best. It hurt me so much to give him away. There was nothing more I’d want to do than keep him. But still!

“I’m sorry Fabio…know that mommy loves you okay!” I kissed him on the forehead one last time. I looked up at Sagaki and nodded to her.

Grabbing hold of Fabio’s shoulders, she kept him in place, giving me the chance to leave.

“NO!!! MOMMY!!! I don’t need all the stuff they give me here! All I need is mommy!!!” I look back one last time at Fabio. His cute little blonde hair, his beady grey eyes, his outstretched hand. I wanted so badly to just run back and never let go. But if he stayed with me, I’d ultimately make his life miserable.

Even Sagaki held back her tears, barely able to keep her grip on my son’s shoulders. I knew if I stuck around longer, she’d eventually let go. So I ran. I ran as far away as I could.

As I ran and ran, nighttime came by before I knew it. There was nowhere for me to go now, and while I was lost in thought, I instinctively opened and closed my hands, forgetting that the little hands that used to clutch onto mine were no longer there.

Tired from everything that’s happened today, I decided to find a local park where I could just wallow in self-pity and rest.

Two weeks had passed since then. Now I sit in a local stretch of a street near a local park where I sleep every night. Thinking about it, why do I bother with staying alive? I made do by begging just like any other beggars out there, though it hurts sometimes to see that they clearly know you’re there, they still walk past you as if you don’t even exist.

“…just like how I was when I was like them…” Back when I was still with my sugar daddy, there were times when I went out alone. I had plenty of chances to give to those less fortunate than me at the time. Instead of giving them help, I sneered at them and even avoided them as much as possible. Just thinking about how ironic it was, I started laughing like a maniac to myself, only adding to the weariness of the people around me.

I’m sure Fabio’s either enjoying himself in his foster home. Or even with his new family. Who knows right? Seeing as I had nothing else left and feeling hollow inside, I walked and walked away until I ended up in a remote cemetery. Convenient seeing as how I feel hollow and dead inside. No boyfriend or husband to call my beloved, no job to take pride in, no dignity as I threw it all away when I whored myself, and no one who relied on me. I had nothing left.

Maybe if I had just carefully planned my future…I wouldn’t be staring at the starry night sky like I’m doing now. The life decisions that lead me to this point, I could’ve avoided it if I had just put a little more effort into getting my life together instead of relying on sugar daddies to take me with them.

There was one thing I don’t regret though, and it’s the fact that I gave birth to Fabio. He taught me the value of motherhood, he reminded me of my past and how I was lucky in comparison. His compassion and lack of greed showed me humility and to appreciate the things that I had. I was grateful to him in every facet I could think of.

Another thought came to mind though. On the other hand, I regret the fact that he had to have a mother as incompetent as me. He couldn’t have the things he deserved while he lived with me. I knew that he’d be better off without me.

And so…with my mind in a murky mess…I found myself walking to a stone bridge that led to a wash thirty feet below.

With no will to live left in my soul, I climbed up the stone bridge’s edge before looking down at the wash below. I wonder if people off’ed themselves this way here before. Taking a deep breath and closing my eyes, I leaned forward, welcoming death as I plummet down to the wash…

As I plummet down to the wash…

As I…okay why am I not falling? I opened my eyes and saw that I was staring down at the wash below at a ninety-degree angle. I saw something hazy in front of me. I tried to move my arms and legs, but I couldn’t move them at all.

“What in blazes are you doing woman?! You’re not planning on committing suicide in my graveyard are you?!” I couldn’t even turn my neck to see who was talking to me. Then, I felt myself being lifted up and turned right back up before landing on my feet and back on the bridge’s surface. I felt whatever force holding me down disappear before I turned around to see who stopped me.

“Honestly…just because this place is a graveyard, doesn’t mean you can just go kill yourself here!” What I saw before my eyes stood a stunning beauty.

Despite her light grey skin, they looked so smooth. Her golden hair tied into a long ponytail with white highlights complemented her striking ruby red eyes. The clothes she wore screamed regality as her shiny black red dress glittered in the moonlit sky above. She even had some gorgeous black heels with dark red, torn leggings, and velvety smooth arm-length gloves. Everything about this woman was absolutely tantalizing despite her otherwise otherworldly appearance.

“…I’m sorry…but who are you?” Whoever this lady was, there was one thing I knew for sure. She wasn’t human. Aside from her grey skin and red eyes, she had these spectral-like claws that seemingly extended far beyond her hands. It’s what she probably used to stop me earlier.

“Oh! How rude of me! Ahem! My name is Welhemia Casagranda Von Vilhiem, but you can just call me Cassy alright? Not sure if you can tell or not, but I’m a Wight” What a mouthful of a name. Is she some kind of noble? She certainly dressed like one. “And what’s your name miss?”

“Valery…” Why did I tell her that? I wanted to end my life right here this very instant…no one needs to know who I am at this point.

“Valery…now that I get a closer look at you dear, you look terrible.” The spectral claws on her arms disappeared before she walked over to me, gently caressing my cheeks.” Stained mascara on your cheeks, multiple scars on your face and arms. What happened to you?! You’re no doubt a beauty before all of…this happened to you!” I know what she was saying, and I knew deep inside she was kind…but…

“D-DON’T TOUCH ME!!!” I swatted both of her hands off my cheeks without thinking. Realizing I overreacted, I tensed up and squinted my eyes closed, waiting for her to inevitably retaliate.

It always came down to violence in the end. Even when I was doing so in self-defense, I always got beat up afterward. So I stood there and waited, shaking uncontrollably as the beating I knew was coming came close.

“You poor thing…” With a voice as gentle as could be, I felt two soft mounds pressed against my cheeks. What is this…this warmth. It felt almost supernatural in nature, but I didn’t hate it. If anything, it’s something that I’ve sorely wanted…needed…and only gave to my son.

Unconditional love…

“I don’t know what you’ve been through…but I can guess that it’s been pretty rough.” Nestled between her bountiful chest. I felt her soft hands gently gliding against my undoubtedly dirty, frizzy hair.

I wanted to stay like this for a while, but I remembered that she’s not human, she’s a monster girl, an undead one at that! This could be a ploy to change me into one of them. I pushed out of her embrace, albeit gently since she didn’t attack me from before.

“Di-didn’t I tell you not to touch me…” A few stinging words outta provoke her into showing her true nature. She stared at me for a couple of seconds, blinking in between before smiling gently at me.

“Ah…of course how insensitive of me. I keep forgetting that not all humans trust us monsters. I understand.” Cassy laid both of her hands flat against her hips, standing perfectly still. “I won’t touch you anymore, but I won’t leave your side either.” What did she say?! Never leave my side?

“Wh-what’re you implying…” My body moved on its own as I slinked back to the edge of the bridge.

“It’s simple really. I’ll respect your decision and stay away from you as far as I need to. But with that said, after seeing how badly you’re mistreated and how you tried to commit suicide, it’s my moral obligation to make sure you don’t go off harming yourself again like that.” Unbelievable. I know I look like a total mess, but don’t pretend that you know me!

“Fuck off…don’t pretend like you know what I’ve been through!” They’re all the same…earn your trust with false words, then they treat you like shit. It’s what my rational mind was thinking anyway, but I can’t deny that the feeling of warmth and love I got from her earlier felt genuine, no matter how much I didn’t want to admit it.

Cassy scoffed at me, shaking her head while she raised both of her hands up in a gesture of defeat.

“I don’t have to know what you’ve been through you know? It’s called having empathy Valery. Whether you believe me or not is up to you, but I won’t leave you alone. Because I’m a big scary monster after all.” She was smiling at me while talking in a sarcastic manner. She’s dead serious huh?

“Suit yourself.” I sat down on the bridge on my ass. I could care less how dumb I looked. But if I stayed like this, I know that eventually, she’ll get tired of waiting, eventually leaving me alone.

While I was waiting, I looked up at the sky. Seeing just how dark it was with only the stars in the sky and a crescent-shaped moon to fill the void, it was probably the dead of midnight. Cold too considering the time of night.

When I turned my attention back to Cassy, I saw her sitting down on the other side of the bridge. She sat nearly in the same way I did with her ass firmly planted on the ground.

“What the hell are you doing?” I didn’t even think before asking her what was on my mind.

“Sitting down obviously. Looks like you’re not planning on going anywhere for a while, so I might as well get comfortable.” Are you kidding me? She’s this serious about trying to prove herself to me?.

“What about your dress? It’s gotta be pretty expensive right? You’re getting it all dirty on the bottom by sitting like that.” Cassy looked down at her dress, scoffing in amusement before looking back at me.

“Oh, this? I’ve had this old thing for ages. I’m not too worried about it. It’s sweet of you to say something though.” Unbelievable. With a dress like that, I’d do everything I could to keep something like that clean and pristine. I shook my head and decided to just ignore her.

I’m not sure how much time had passed at this point. It was still dark out, but the moon had definitely moved some while I sat here. Yet Cassy is still here, smiling at me whenever I took a glance at her. Just as I was about to say something, another part of me decided to be vocal before I could use my lips.

*Growl*

“Oh?” Holding back her rising smirk, she turned around to hide her face. I could see her back twitching from how hard she was trying not to laugh.

“…I…Alright fine! It’s true that I’m hungry, but I don’t plan on living anymore so what’s the point?!” Almost immediately, she stopped laughing and turned back to face me. Her face, now all serious and crap, brought me to silence.

“The point? Dear as long as I’m here, I won’t let you die a senseless death.” Cassy’s ruby red eyes shined brightly against the moonlit sky. This woman’s as serious as she is dead.

Ignoring my stomach, I just turned away from her and kept to myself.

I’m not sure how much time has passed now. All I know is that it was getting even colder as my body started to shiver from how cold it got. I had nothing on me to really keep warm aside from what I’m already wearing which is just a torn-up black t-shirt and blue jeans. Anything that I had that could’ve kept me warm, I gave to Fabio

If this keeps up, I’ll end up going into hypothermic shock. Then again, I did want to kill myself, so maybe that’ll work. But just them, I saw a dim, blue light shining from behind me, growing in intensity with every second.

“There you are, Princess Cassy! We’ve gotten worried after you hadn’t come back from your midnight stroll.” Hearing an unfamiliar voice behind me, I turned around and saw two other monster girls.

The one that talked was rather bizarre as she was essentially a walking fire lantern as she was standing on top of a black metallic cage that was floating from the ground. Her gothic lolita fashion complemented her blue skin and the same colored blue flames surrounding her. Doesn’t it burn?! Her black dress was adorned with light grey patterns that resembled little sputters of flames with the details on her long skirt being outstretched. She didn’t have much of a top so to speak, so her chest was mostly filled with frilly dark furls to fill the otherwise empty top. In the center of her frill stood a blue gem that glowed a brilliant white.

Her short, pixie-cut hair was white for the most part, but it was only white on the surface as her inner hair had a more light blueish color in appearance, matching her striking sapphire blue eyes. From the way she sounds, she seems to be a bubbly, loud person.

Aside from her, there’s another girl who seems much less inclined to be dressed properly, looking closer to me in terms of clothing with how old and torn her clothes looked. She had on her a black t-shirt like me, but it had a sort of punk rock design on it, showing a red electric guitar on her chest which, unlike the other girl, was outstretched near to the size limit of her shirt. She also wore jeans like me that’s covered in tears, but I think those tears are intentional, showing off her light purple skin beneath.

She did wear a purple torn cape too though which is an odd thing to wear over modern clothing. Her eyes looked dead more than anyone else, bordering hollow in feel as the light purple color of her eyes barely popped in contrast to all the dark rings around her eyes, or left eye specifically as her right was covered by her purple highlighted bangs, fading into white with the rest of her hair ending in a braided ponytail on her back.

“No kidding…you really need to use that cellphone you have you know?” The other girl sounded so much more dead, monotone in her tone of voice.

“Oh Chandice, Laila! I’m sorry for not letting you two know.” Cassy pulled out a phone from her pocket. It was a flip phone that’s normally designed for old people. “I still haven’t figured out how this stupid thing works yet.”

“It’s not that hard to figure out you old hag. Even I figured it out…” The girls then took notice of me, with the one that was on fire coming closer to me to take a closer look.

“And who’s this lady? She looks like she went through a lot!” Without realizing it myself, my hands moved on their own and opened as wide as they could, getting close to the flames to feel the soothing warmth. “Oh yeah! It’s really cold out today isn’t it?” Without warning, she moved closer to me, making my hands touch her flames.

“Ouch…wait…” I moved my hands away from the flames, only to realize that the flames didn’t burn.

“Ahahaha! I always get a laugh when people do that! It’s okay. My flames are ethereal flames. In other words…” With a snap of her finger, the same blue flames surrounding her erupted underneath me, surrounding my body in it.

“AAAHHH…ah…what?” The flames surrounding me scared me, but like before, the flames weren’t burning my skin. It was so odd. I felt warm, like the heat itself is ignoring my skin and warming me from the inside.

“See? Nothing to worry about.” Extending her hand, the lantern girl smiled at me “The name’s Chandice the Will-O-Wisp, nice to meet you.” I hesitated for a moment, but reached out with my own hand and shook hers afterward.

“Valery, Valery’s my name.” I looked around my body and watched the flames surrounding my body. The flames would even pass through my body as if they’re intangible, but every time they do, I feel a comforting sense of warmth from where the flames passed through These flames…they’re not going to do anything else to me are they?” Before Chandice had a chance to reply, the other girl who I assume is Laila walked up to me as well, looking bored before smiling slightly.

“It’s always a delight to see more morons like you come around every once in a while. If Chandice wanted to do something to you with those flames, you’d already be helpless to do anything about it.” Unlike Chandice, this one’s pretty rude. “Chandice is being nice and trying to keep you warm is all.” Walking between the two of them, Cassy put the phone she had on her hand back into her pocket before speaking up.

“Give the girl some room you two. Can’t you tell that she’s been through a lot?” Chandice just giggled before moving a bit further away from me, waving her hand to the right before the flames surrounding me disappeared. I was worried about what the flames would do to me, but I won’t lie that I already miss the warmth it provided.

“It is getting rather late, so I should go back to the mansion…” Mansion? Does Cassy own a mansion?! I mean with the way she’s dressed and how Chandice called her princess earlier, I kind of pieced together that she’s royalty, but she owns a mansion? “Valery, as I mentioned earlier, I have no intention of leaving you behind. So you’re coming with us back to the mansion. You don’t have to tell us what’s happened to you, but I want to at least provide you with a place to stay and food to eat.” The two girls turn around and walked slightly ahead of Cassy. “Come now dear, or would you rather continue or little game here?” Referring to when I refused to move from my spot earlier, I gave in and decided to follow them. As much as I wanted to just end everything now, I can’t deny that droing so while they’re around is going to be impossible.

“Fine…I guess I’ll follow you. But don’t try anything funny like turning me into one of you guys or something!” Turning back around, Chandice lifted her right hand and giggled while Laila took a deep breath and sighed in annoyance.

“…found another unwitting human huh Cassy? You really don’t learn do you?” Another one, what did she mean by that?! Cassy noticed my face turning pale before she gently slapped Laila at the back of her head.

“Don’t phrase it like that Laila!” The way she slapped Laila was so out of character from what I expected of a noble, so I couldn’t help but let a chuckle out when she slapped Laila.

“Hey, you can smile and laugh after all!” Bringing her hands flat against each other, she wiggled her hips and smiled at my reaction.

“It’s just…oh just lead me to your mansion already!” The irritation of being denied my suicide attempt along with my hunger brought me to raise my voice unintentionally.

“That was the plan!” Turning back around, Cassy walked ahead of Laila and Chandice, following them a few feet from behind. I’m not sure where we’re going, but as I follow them, I see more and more gravestones lined neatly on the left and the right side of a nicely paved walkway. Every so often, I see Zombies and other undead monster girls. As we pass them by, they either wave to say hello or bow in respect to Cassy as she passes by them.

After passing through another small bridge between a canal, we reached the mansion. Holy crap! It really is a mansion! It seemed so out of place, but the mansion was constructed out of stone. It’s bigger than even some of the hotels that I know of in the city. In its front yard area, there are several people, not just monster girls, but humans too trimming and tending to the many hedges and flowers upfront. Some of the humans around were men, making me shiver at the idea of being near them. At the center of the yard, a beautifully crafted fountain depicting an angel pouring water down the fountain’s base sits in the middle. It didn’t look much like an angel I’ve ever seen though, depicting a more sinister smile rather than a subtle one you’d see on them.

“Oh hello, princess Wel!” Hearing a dreadful voice behind us, I turned around and immediately recoiled in fear. Their brutish, muscular arms and their rough voice.

“HYAAAHHH!!! NO, STAY BACK!!!” I sat down and tucked my head between my legs, covering the top of my head with my hands.

“Huh? Who’s this lady here? What’s wrong mam?” I heard his voice coming closer, getting goosebumps as I just felt his presence coming closer. I won’t let him touch me!

“GET AWA-!” Just as I was about to stand up to take a swing at him, Cassy stood between me and that man.

“Gregory…I don’t want to be rude to you just now, but please can you and the other men leave us alone for now please?” Cassy looked disheartened when she asked this Gregory guy to back off, but it only took a few seconds of silence for this guy to smile back in response and nod in agreement.

“Alright, princess. Sorry for the trouble. I’ll let the other guys know too.” Taking his leave, I see him walking to every other guy’s around the area, taking a few seconds to convey Cassy’s message before moving on to the next guy.

“Are you alright Valery?” Cassy turned around and offered her right hand. I took her hand as she gently pulled me back up to stand. “I’m sorry about that, I hope that wasn’t too much of a harrowing experience for you.” What the hell is she? Every time she speaks, it always comes out as genuine no matter how much I try to rationalize it. What does she hope to gain from being nice to me?! Is she even expecting to get anything in return at all?! While I pondered about it, I could see from the corner of my eyes that both Laila and Chandice had a look of surprise. When they noticed that I saw them looking, they just smiled back at me.

“Ye-yeah…I’m fine. Sorry about my outburst. I just…I have a fear of men…” Why did I say that? I didn’t want to make things uncomfortable nor was I ready to say anything about it either, yet it felt so natural to tell them about it.

“I see. I had a feeling based on your reaction from earlier. But talking about it here seems hardly appropriate dear. Let’s get you some food first alright?” Cassy pulled her hand away from me. Again, this feeling of longing came back as I wanted to hold her hand more. It felt so warm, so without even my brain telling me to, my body moved almost on its own as it reached out to grab hold of her hand, clutching it tightly. “Valery?” What am I doing? Now that I think about it, why did I take her hand before this moment? I couldn’t make any sense of it. It’s like my body naturally trusted her more than my mind did.

“I…uh…well you…” I stuttered between my words. I couldn’t fight the embarrassment that came over me as I tried to make sense of what I had just done. I was ready to hear the three of them laugh, but instead, I felt Cassy’s hands clutching my own. “Wha…” Cassy just smiled back at me instead of mocking me like I thought she would.

“Relax Valery. If holding my hand makes you feel safer, then, by all means, hold it until you feel better.” I walked closer to her so that we’d stand side to side, nodding silently before she started walking again. I made sure to follow her pace. She didn’t even question the fact that I suddenly had no problem touching her when before, I swatted her hand away out of fear of being tricked. Was it the feeling of comfort and trust that I got from her?

Meanwhile, I could see Laila just staring absentmindedly at us while Chandice looked slightly annoyed as the flames on her lantern cage grew in intensity ever so slightly.

When we reached the main gate, we were greeted with a large wooden double door with two large ivory door handles. Laila grabbed the right side of the handle while Chandice grabbed the left. Opening the door, I was blinded for a few seconds by the light that leaked out of the mansion.

The moment my eyes adjusted, I was left awestruck at the interior. The front yard was already a great contrast to the cemetery, let alone the interior of the mansion itself. Chandeliers decorated the absurdly tall ceilings above, making my eyes wander at the several cases of stairs. Each set of stairs had a woven red carpet draped in the middle of them.

Starting with the wide stairs in the middle of the mansion that connected the upper floor to the first floor, the other flight of stairs from the first floor onwards occupied the left and right side of the floor levels, leading up and down to the separate levels which were five in total. Each floor had a different set of decorative stone pillars that either had artisan vases on them or other relics that I really couldn’t wrap my head around with. From the bottom of the mansion to all the other top floors, several doors lined the walls that led to who knows where, but wherever it led, it emphasized just how large this mansion really is.

“Well…I guess I should get going. Now that I found yah, I’m going back and heading straight to bed.” Breaking me out of my train of thought, Chandice moved in front of me and smiled. “I’ll see you around Valery. Take care.” With a playful twirl, Chandice leaves, heading straight for the main stairs.

“Guess it’s my time to go too…” Following Chandice’s lead, Laila turned around to face me as well. “Assuming you want to stay up after eating, I want you to stop by my office alright? I run a clinic here just two floors up to the right side of the mansion four doors over. I’ll take a look at you and see what I can fix alright?” Laila’s a doctor? She didn’t look the part at all considering the way she dressed.

“Hehe…even though she acts cold, she cares a lot about the people she comes across, just like before.” I felt Cassy place her right hand on my left shoulder. “Come now, we’re heading for the dining room so we can get you fed alright?” Nodding silently at her, I followed Cassy as she took the lead.

Noticing the other details in the mansion, there are several tapestries hung on the walls, with some designs looking really old like they existed all the way back during the medieval era. Like the front yard, the mansion had several people walking about, some human, some monster girls, but a lot of them also wore what looked like maid outfits. As I was absentmindedly following Cassy, one of the maids approach us.

“Welcome home princess. Everyone was starting to get worried about you.” Chandice was pretty bizarre-looking, but this maid made her look normal in comparison. Her body looked almost…no, it was definitely gelatinous in nature. It’s like every part of her body oozed downward. A number of yellow glowing eyes open and close in random places on her body, all staring at Cassy. There are also mouths that occasionally open up, mostly occupying the bottom part of what I could only call a skirt in her otherwise maid attire. Around her face, her eyes were almost completely black save for her bright yellow pupils. Her hair if I’d even call it that was tied into a short ponytail. Her bangs were relatively short, keeping her forehead exposed while the hair on the left and right side of her head extended down to her chin to cover her ears, dripping on occasion back down to her wriggling skirt below.

“Sorry for any trouble that I caused Xera. I have with me an honored guest named Valery who could use a nice meal.” The otherworldly maid named Xera turned her many eyes at me, keeping her primary eyes on her head locked onto Cassy.

“To be fair princess, you call every person you bring here to help ‘honored guest’.” She giggled slightly before giving her full attention to me, indicated by turning her whole body to face me before she lightly bowed. “It’s nice to meet you miss Valery. I’m the head maid of this mansion. As you might’ve heard earlier from my master’s lips, the name’s Xera.” She’s so polite. From the way she moved to even the strange, soothing voice she had. Her movements were rather elegant despite her wild appearance.

“Haha that’s true! Anyways, I’d appreciate it if you can tell the chefs to cook something that’s suitable for humans…and you know exactly what I mean by that, right Xera?” Cassy spoke in an authoritative tone, almost as if she’s had to tell her this multiple times before. Raising her head and turning back to face Cassy, Xera closed her eyes and spoke softly in return.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about princess, but very well. I shall let the Kikimora’s handle miss Valery’s late dinner then.” Turning back to me again, Xera left her eyes half-open. “Do you have any particular preference on what to eat miss Valery?”

“N-no…I can’t possibly afford to be picky.” A slight chuckle escaped her throat before she bowed in response.

“Very well. I’ll convey it to the Kikimora cooks. I’m sure that whatever they cook for you, it should be more than enough to satisfy your palate.” With another small bow, Xera went ahead of us, heading straight for another double-sided wooden door.

“Well then, shall we head in as well? I promise you the food that the Kikimora cook is just the best!” From the moment I saw her warm smile, I felt the same warmth that radiated from her smile fill my heart. I still don’t know if I can fully trust her yet, but there’s no denying that her eagerness to help me was truly genuine

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