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The Hornet of Red Square

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She paused.

She turned her head ever-so-slightly but didn't even look at him. He couldn't see her eyes - he just wanted to see her eyes, her beautiful green eyes. For a second he thought that she might look at him one last time.

But she turned away and ran. Nothing, no lingering attachment, remained now that the spell was broken, now that he wasn't beautiful anymore. He had always been nothing to her, dirt on the tip of her shoe; to think that it wouldn't have ended any differently was a folly. He would have laughed at how miserable he was, but he only coughed up purple blood, that spilled on the ground in front of him.

Life was unfair. He should have known from the start that people like him were simply not meant to be happy, no matter the price they paid to obtain an illusion of this happiness. Had this pact with the devil even been worth it, when it could all be taken from him in an instant? He doubted that now. Even during the most intense fits of passion, he still remembered that they were all under his spell, that they couldn't possibly love the true him.

He thought of the man that had killed him. Life was unfair indeed. This murderer would never know what it was to be ugly and lonely: one look at his beautiful face told Gakupo just that. He had even thought him to be a woman, and the irony of his punishment was like the cruelest of jokes. Curse him, whoever he was! Of course this other man would want to kill him - people hated what they couldn't understand, and that murderer couldn't have understood the loneliness in Gakupo's heart. Never had the duke hated anyone more than this stranger.

There was a slow clapping from the shadows.

"Bravo, my dear, excellent work," said the demon of lust as he emerged from the shadows. "It was a grand show."

He was a beautiful man, with thin, elegant features and a royal air to him. He was slim but with wide shoulders, looking down on the human with eyes half shielded by long lashes. Never had Gakupo seen a man so beautiful, one that made him want to taste the forbidden fruit of pleasure with another male body. Even his demonic features enhanced the temptation: bat-link wings emerged from his back, cooked hooves from the bottom of his pants and impressive horns from the top of his head. But the most dangerous thing about him was the aura of lust that emanated from the creature, an aura that drew his preys in and made them want to adore him on their knees, like a god. For all he had given to him, he might as well have been Gakupo's god.

Fear filled the human: it was time for the demon to collect his due.

"I do not believe that I thought that it would be useful to give you my name on our last encounter," said the creature, stopping a few steps away from Gakupo. "I am Asmodeus, the Lord of Lust, one of the seven rulers of all demons everywhere."

Gakupo's eyes widened. Even him, a mortal, knew this name. The creature had told him that he was "a demon of lust," which, fair enough, was important, but he would have never guessed him to be the Lord of Lust. What could a simple mortal like him have done, that he might be of interest to such an important figure?

"I see that it strikes a bell," continued Asmodeus. "Good! I would have been offended otherwise. You must be wondering how someone like me might even get interested in someone like you. All you need to know was that you were lucky, and you proved to be more interesting than what I had predicted, Gakupo, and that is rare. I am quite satisfied with your performance - you are indeed talented at putting on a show. A shame that you needed my powers to acquire beauty, or then you would have turned into the most fascinating man of all of the nobility - but then you wouldn't have needed my services."

As the demon talked, the mortal felt his own death take a hold of him, and both the demon and his flow of words have been gradually fading into the void. Or maybe he was the one that was fading.

"I'll just go over the formalities," continued Asmodeus. "As per our contract, I have all the rights a demon can have on your soul, now that you are dying. I suppose that you can guess this much. I can throw you in a pit of fire, or I can have you served for dinner, and, as you have signed your rights away, you will do nothing about it. If you try to break your part of the deal by, let us say, resisting, you will feel yourself tear up from the inside until you do get split into multiple pieces, and believe me when I tell you that the pain is absolutely excruciating - among one of the worse that you can experience even in the deepest, darkest realm of hell. In other words, you have no other choice but to do as I say, and this for a duration of time that is proportionate to the amount of my powers that you used, which in your case... would make something like eighty years. Which is remarkable, considering you had them at your disposal for only six months."

The poison was working its foul disease on Gakupo's body, yet even as his vision darkened and purple spilled further and further on the carpet the demon seemed unfazed. The terms only vaguely made sense in the human's mind. He recognized it all, and knew it all related to events he had accomplished during his life, but did it really matter?

"Ah, I think he's leaving us," said Asmodeus, talking to seemingly no one. "Let us wait."

Finally, there was a little silence. Gakupo closed his eyes and sighed, and with that sigh exited his last breath.

He had the oddest sensation of falling, falling, falling until he was standing on something hard. He opened his eyes slowly and found that he was now standing near a corpse - his corpse. Looking at himself laying there was odd, and he stayed dumbfound for a few moments before looking away from the mess that had once been his mortal flesh, examining his new appearance. He recognized his own body, but it was draped in a white cloth, made in a material that he had never seen before: so light that he barely felt it, and slightly transparent, but only enough to let the outlines of his body be guessed through it. He wore nothing under, and his long purple hair was undone. He reached up for his face and, with horror, felt his old deformities. The crooked nose, the split lip--

No! It wasn't possible. He was dead. How could this follow him in the afterlife? He had made a contract with the demon of lust so that he could become beautiful. He refused to deal with this nightmare again. There couldn't have been a worth punishment in death!

"Ah, no need to look this distressed, dear Gakupo," said Asmodeus as he crept closer. The demon gently pushed the human's hand away from his face. "There are ways to fix you, and you will have access to them. And this time, they will be permanent."

Gakupo looked up at the hellish creature, hope filling his greedy heart. "I want my true face back."

"You shall have it," replied Asmodeus with a cat-like grin. "Granted that you do a little something for me... Miku, come forth."

Gakupo turned around just as a second demon emerged from the shadows. She passed right by him without a glance and kneeled in front of Asmodeus, bowing her head in reverence.

She looked young, but Gakupo already knew that this shouldn't fool him. Her hair was the softest, most remarkable shade of blue and tied up in twin tails by silky ribbons. She was small in size and delicate in appearance, just like a snowflake. She had no demonic features, or maybe they were all hidden under her satin gown.

"Rise, my dear," said Asmodeus. "I think that our friend wants to look at you."

She obeyed and turned to Gakupo. He met her gaze. There was nothing but ice in it, cold and distant with a touch of disdain. He could feel them eyes trail over his deformities, surveying them, measuring them and judging them. This unnerved him. He had to gather his will so that he wouldn't flinch away from her examination - something about her made showing weaknesses repulsive.

"Because you made a contract with a demon, don't need to bother with trivialities such as going through the Hall of Judgement - your soul is, by default, deemed sinful - and belong to me," explained Asmodeus, "but I am too busy to take care of you personally. Luckily, Miku Hastune here expressed her interest in working on you. Believe me when I tell you that this relationship can only be mutually beneficial."

Gakupo looked at the woman, then at the man. "So, you are saying that I won't burn in the pits with the damned?"

"You are going to wish you were sent there," said Miku.

The human stared back at her in shock. "How come?"

"Master Asmodeus, I must express my feelings on this, forgive me," she said, ignoring Gakupo's question. "I am only taking this project for the artistic challenge. You have advised me to watch this man and get to know him, yet I have seen nothing from him so far that I like, save for his taste in aesthetics."

"Oh. That sounds quite harsh, Miku," said the Lord of Lust. "Why so?"

"Must I point out the obvious?" She sneered. She was smaller than Gakupo, yet still managed to look at him down her nose. "The man died right in front of us because he abused the powers that you offered him. He brought attention to himself by taking all the pretty women of the land to his basement. He should have gone for four, maybe five of them at most, exchanging them with others when he grew bored of them, yet he didn't. He hoarded them - and a hoard always attracts thieves, or the rightful owners of the stolen goods."

"Stolen goods?" Asmodeus laughed. "You talk of those ladies as if they were objects."

"To him, they might have been," she snarled. "And that's another reason why I dislike him."

"Ah," said the Lust Lord. He smirked. "I personally think that he went out in my favorite way: taking it all, and living a short life where he only seeks to sate every single one of his desires. Yes, that is the type of people that I favor, but I can see where you are coming from in your hate of him and his ways. I take it that you are glad to be the administrator of his punishment?"

Miku smiled. It wasn't a pretty one: it was cruel and triumphant, a real demon smile. This was answer enough.

"What is going to happen to me?" Asked Gakupo.

She cast her eyes on him, disdainful, and sneered. "Becoming a demon is no idle process. You will have wings and a tail, but those will be sown in your very flesh. And for you, there will be no anesthesia."

"What?" cried the human.

"What?" repeated Asmodeus, before bursting in laughter. "Oh, those humans are priceless. They make pacts with the devil, yet they are always surprised to hear that they have to pay the price. Gakupo, dearest creature, my dearest possession, don't frown so. When all will be done, you will be quite glad about the results. Miku is a brilliant flesh crafter... and a crafty woman, and a wonderful singer."

"You flatter me, my Lord."

"But I don't want a tail and some wings," protested the human, "I'm fine as I am."

"They shall not be just any tail and wings," said Miku as she stepped closer. "I'll rip your skin off and replace it with a white shell, that will be polished down until it is as smooth as porcelain, I'll remodel your face, I'll break your legs and stick them back together in the way that is the current fashion, I'll tear your arms in two and rebuild them so that you have four of them. And then, when you will be perfect on the outside..." she leaned in, whispering the last bit. "I'll reach into your gut, and make you into the perfect servant for His Lordship's entertainment. When I am going to be done with you, you will be able to do things that will make the weeks of sex you had with your harem look like a mere warm-up. You can count on that."

Gakupo stumbled back in horror, tripped and fell backward on his ass. She smiled at him when he looked up to her, a cruel, cold smile. Both demons loomed over him.

"How exciting," said Asmodeus. "I can't wait to see the final result. He is going to be the next star of Red Square - what am I saying, of all of Allacard. May I ask about what will inspire you when you work on him? Surely, knowing the way you craft, you have a theme in mind."

"A hornet."

"A hornet? Why..." The Lord of Lust's eyes widened in shock when he figured it out. "A horny hornet. With a nasty stringer. Oh Miku, you are a genius. The titles of his show literally write themselves. Why have I never thought about something like this before myself?" He chuckled.

"But... I don't want to become a hornet." Gakupo looked at Miku, then at Asmodeus. "Please, is there any other way?"

"Quit your whining, pet," she hissed.

"And how long do you think that the whole transformation will take?"

"For a first draft to be completed, we are looking at a few months of work." She sighed. "But your Lordship knows how it goes, there are always adjustments to be made - especially if he's going to be a performer doing acrobatics. I think that I am looking at roughly four years before he is physically perfect, and then that will only be the start of his training proper. You will have to be patient."

"Four years?" Gakupo wasn't sure that he understood what they were talking about, but four years was too long.

"Oh, look at him, he's impatient too," said Asmodeus.

"Oh, believe me when I say this," answered Miku, "but no one will be waiting for the end of it all more than he." She turned to Gakupo and gave him the creepiest smile. "No one."