“I’m going to need to find a way to make money quickly.” I sighed as the last of the ingredients was used up.
We had returned home to the lair of the hero and his family. After I had put a bit of fear into the obstinate boss, he quickly succumbed and even urinated himself. By the time I had finished in the checkout, he had already frantically sent a text to this mother, offering her job back, with a promotion and a raise, starting in one week after her paid vacation. She was beaming when I went to the car. She told me everything would get better. Her smile, for some reason, caused my heart to palpitate. This body might have had some kind of heart defect, but I’d need to do more tests first.
Once I had gotten home, I used the ingredients I had purchased to conduct such tests. It had cost every dime in the hero’s birthday money. Work through the night, I had managed to create an assortment of parlor tricks, like the forget powder and the fear toxin. Most of the resources went into experimenting with trying to get mana.
This world did contain mana, but it was at a level so thin that absorbing it from the atmosphere was impossible. Thankfully, plants were a good substitute, as they absorbed the atmosphere and condensed mana. Even with all of that, it was like trying to squeeze a drop of water out of a leaf. It was technically possible, but it was exceedingly difficult, and at the end of it, you’d only have a drop of water.
After a night, I had developed a technique that allowed me to extract as much mana as possible from as many mana-rich ingredients as I could find. The result was that I had restored just a wisp of mana. Compared to the amount of mana I could store, it was like a drop in the ocean. I was far from being able to show my original power. Even an apprentice mage in his first year could utilize more mana. However, I was far more skilled than an apprentice mage, and even these drops were enough for me to do a couple of things.
The first thing I did was do a check-up of this body. I had checked myself once before, but at the time I didn’t know how little mana existed and I had wasted it quickly. I needed a much more thorough look now. The gods had put the hero into a coma to serve their own selfish purposes. Now that I was in this body, it wouldn’t be unbelievable if the goddess did something vengeful, like give me some degenerative disease.
“Weak physical body. Underdeveloped muscular structure. Puberty, incomplete. Moderate skin condition. Slight Overbite. Slight dehydration. Slight Constipation.” I muttered as I used the sparse mana to feel through my body and correct any blemishes with my internal organs.
That wasn’t to say the body was in horrible shape, but I was a mage of flesh. I had created the perfect and immortal demon race. How could any measly human mortal meet my body standards? Of course, my own body hadn’t been of great shape. I was thin, weak, and pathetic. However, that was because I was already an old man by the time, I had gained mastery over the flesh. My body had finished developing, and it had been destroyed by many long nights giving my everything for those who would never appreciate it. The fact I was able to keep myself alive for half of a millennia or so spoke to my skill.
This body, on the other hand, was still developing in the prime of youth. If I started to refine it now, then the strength and longevity of this body couldn’t be underestimated. Even I had to admit that the hero’s body, whatever world he lived in, was good starting material. It was no wonder that the goddess chose him.
I used the most of the mana after fixing the defects in my body weaving wards and protection spells. These would keep me from experiencing a swift death. If the god of this world came to realize what the goddess of my world had done, he might just strike me down with a blast of lightning, or implant an incurable disease in me. My wards would keep me protected not just from a god, but also from accidents that might happen. I wasn’t immortal, but it gave me a chance.
After I used most of the remaining mana, I was both tired and melancholy. I had burned every last penny, and it was clear that my predecessor didn’t have any reliable source of income. After I slept, that would be my next course of action. The night was already finished, and the sun would be rising soon, as I planned to sleep most of the day. That was fine with me. I didn’t like the light too much. It didn’t agree with my old complexion. Although the hero had a fairly tan body, that was after adventuring the world. In his body’s current state, he was almost as pale as I had been.
Pulling out a poultice I had made, I applied it on my face to deal with the skin condition. As I was finishing up, the door opened. This didn’t startle or anger me. How could I have gotten along with demons if I took offense to someone barging in my room all of a sudden? I used the mirror to see the blue-haired sister with acne had barged in. What was her name again? Oh, right.
“What do you want, Hina?” I asked.
She jumped, apparently startled I knew who she was despite not turning around. People could be so foolish sometimes. If they just used their brains, they wouldn’t be shocked or startled so often. Everything had a reason. Understanding cause and effect were essential. Well, if I had been better at that, I would have foreseen the hero, and not end up with such a grisly fate, so I probably didn’t have room to talk.
“You’re up? It’s so early…”
“You’re up, and you also entered my room. Don’t tell me you were hoping I was asleep.”
“Th-that’s not it.” She lowered her head shyly. “I was just… looking for pain killers is all.”
“Pain killers?” I frowned. “You are in pain?”
“Ah, that’s, I mean…”
I stood up and approached her. She took a step back, but I moved extremely carefully. I had healed many demons before, so handling a human wasn’t difficult at all. Although I was all but out of mana, I still had many tricks that may help. Leaning close to her and sniffing, I could smell a distinct odor of blood.
“Why are you smelling!” She took several more steps back, covering her abdomen where my nose had closed in. “It’s not like that.”
“It would appear you’re having your moonflow.”
“Moonflow? It’s just a period! Can I get some medicine?” Her face was red, and she looked ready to flee.
“Right. Period.” I nodded.
“If you wish to become stronger, you should face this pain. Only by making the pain a part of yourself, will you learn to surpass it.” I gave her sage advice.
“Idiot!” she shouted, causing me to be surprised as she suddenly grew angry. “You’re such a dumb idiot spaz of a brother! I know you took the pain killers when you had a fever! Just give them to me and mind your own business!”
It seemed like I had managed to upset her. How ridiculous. A demon woman could lose a leg and keep limping along, but this human required aid just from cramping. I found it difficult to sympathize. However, if I was going to cohabitate with them, it was better if we got along. I bridged the gap between us and laid my hand over her abdomen, where her ovaries were.
Her body froze. “Wh-what are you doing?”
“Shut up. It seems like your moonflow is abnormally painful because of a hormonal imbalance. Rather than dull the pain like an alcoholic, it is much more reasonable to fix the source of the pain.”
I pulled my hand away, and her legs stumbled like she had suddenly become weak. She was staring at me with wide, confused eyes. I didn’t really care. I walked to the dresser drawer where all of my finished poultices and mixtures were, and I pulled out a small jar of one such item. Turning around, I offered the jar to her. Her confusion turned to curiosity as she grabbed the jar from my hand and looked at it.
“What is this?”
“It will help correct the imbalance. It will reduce the pain, and also caused your moonflows to be weaker in the future.”
She blinked. “What do you have on your face?”
She had noticed that my face was also covered in some kind of mask. It was another kind of poultice.
“This is merely a facial treatment. It will remove acne and dry skin.” I responded.
Her eyes brightened, but they were filled with hesitation. She actually had a lot worst acne than my own body. It was to the point where her appearance diminished as a result. Calling her outright ugly would be a bit much, especially compared to demons, but the acne was at a level where lifetime scars might occur.
“Do you… um… have some more?”
I sighed, returning to the drawer and handing her the last of the poultice. If it worked right, I should only need to use it once a month. It was best to use fresh poultice anyway, so I might as well give her this one.
“Apply it to your face for two hours. Then, take it off with water. Do not eat it, and do sleep with it on.” I ordered as she took this jar as well.
“Th-thank you…” She responded, looking awkwardly. “What about the other jar?”
“The other jar absorbs. The closer to the problem area, and the more absorptive said area, the better it works.” I explained. “Therefore, it’s best you put it inside.”
“Inside, you mean, eat it?” She frowned.
“No…” I made an incredulous look. “Don’t be ridiculous. What’s the closest area to your ovaries?”
I took two fingers and then pushed them up between my hands. She stared at my hands for a few moments as her face turned completely red.
“You pig!” Slap!
She turned and stormed out of the room. I blinked, rubbing my jaw. Her hand didn’t hurt all that much. In the past, some demons had raged and beat me to the point where it was lucky I was alive. Twenty was particularly good at that. Thus, I wasn’t phased by explosive tempers, or even being struck suddenly. The difference was that I could usually tell when things were going south. I had ended up pissing off this sister Hina, and I didn’t even know why.
“Women are more confusing than demons,” I concluded out loud.
I went to the bathroom, washed off my face, and then went to take a nap.
“Wake up! You’ve been asleep all day!” Mother stormed into my room only a few hours later.
I frowned regarding that logic. Besides the reality I had been up all night, didn’t this body just come home after waking up from a coma? I felt it was a little ridiculous to put any demands on me. It was the afternoon now. I had lived with less sleep, so I decided not to create conflict with this place’s matriarch. Standing up, I left the room to find Mother in the kitchen.
“Honey, we’re having chicken tonight. Can you take the chicken out?” She asked as she dropped several grocery bags.
“Mom? What are you doing? Can we afford all of this?” Kio appeared at the door, looking over the bags of food.
“Ah… we’re celebrating tonight.” Mother smiled, seeming happier than I had ever seen her before. “I was going to wait to tell you all tonight… but… I got a promotion!”
“You didn’t get fired?”
“No! He gave me my job back, a raise, and a week vacation.” She smiled before muttering under her breath. “He must have had second thoughts and been afraid I’d sue for sexual harassment.”
I was content letting Mother think whatever she wanted. After briefly looking around the kitchen, I had found a block. After looking through the knives, I found a particularly good one. As I tried to leave the kitchen, Mother noticed me with a knife in my hand.
“Aiko! What are you doing?”
“I’m going to slaughter the chickens and bring them in as requested, Mother.”
She narrowed her eyes, and then walked over and put her hand on my forehead. She seemed to do this often. This time, I kept myself from flinching. Once again, the warmth of her head felt strange to me. I didn’t hate it.
“Maybe I should have let you sleep longer.” She muttered.
“He’s just faking it!” Kio snapped. “He’s already been a waste. Don’t forget, we still have all his hospital bills to pay!”
“Hospital… bills…” I repeated the words as Mother pealed the knife from my hand helplessly.
“Even with a raise, Mother will be paying off your bills until she’s fifty!” Kio accused.
“Kio, that’s enough… can’t we just enjoy the blessings we have!” Mother retorted.
Rather than respond, Kio glared hatefully at me before spinning around and returning to her room. Mother looked helpless after her as she left and then turned to me with a guilty look.
“I’m sorry, Aiko. You know how your sister can be.”
“She’s right,” I responded, stroking my chin.
I didn’t like to owe anyone any debts. If the illness that this body was under accumulated so much debt for this family, then it would be my responsibility to settle that debt. I wasn’t a moocher that would only take from others. That was never my style. It looked like on top of more money for ingredients, I’d also need money to help pay off my debts. That bastard hero had certainly left me in a precarious situation.
“Aiko?” She raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“To the best of my knowledge, I am at an adequate age to work, correct?”
Mother blinked. “Ah, that’s true. You’re seventeen now, so you can get a job.”
“Is there any job requiring indulging in the flesh?” I asked.
Flesh magic was my specialty. Any job that involved working with it would be a job that I could do with precision and skill.
“A porn star?” Her eyes widened in shock.
“Very well… I will become this porn star!”
“You absolutely will not!” She cried out, looking both angry and like she was about to cry.
As she grabbed my arm and stared at me with such a strong reaction and tears in her eyes like I was falling into a dark abyss, I couldn’t help but clear my throat.
“Ahem… then… I will find some other job!”