I went to the Royal Library as usual that day. The Royal Library is the largest library in the country, with a collection of several hundred thousand books. Books are lined up in the spacious building. Even the librarians may not have a perfect grasp of exactly where and what’s there.
As I was looking at the books lined up as usual, I found a book that caught my attention. It was sitting quietly on one of the bookshelves in the corner of the library. It is a beautiful book with majestic binding. When I picked it up and touched it, I could tell that the book was quite old.
It wasn’t just beautiful and antique, the book had a kind of magic to it. It’s difficult to put into words. Something mysterious is oozing out of the book. Something invisible that fascinates people…
The title of the book is “Mephisto”.
To be precise, I’m not sure if it’s the title of the book. It was the only thing written on the cover. I tried to open the book, but the book opened on its own before I did. The pages are turned over without permission. The book emitted a pale light.
“Eh, what is this…!?”
There are no people around. Therefore, it does not bother others. ――Good lord, I shouldn’t think so carelessly.
I dropped the book and tried to run away. No matter what I thought, this was not normal. I had to get out of there quickly. ――But before I could escape, something appeared from the book. That something looks like a human being. However, humans usually don’t come out of books. Therefore, it is not human.
It was wearing a black tuxedo-like attire. Brand new clothes with no wrinkles and no dust. Long bangs are parted in the middle, a face too neat to be human. Skin is pale beyond white and lacks vitality.
“The Grim Reaper…” I muttered, and it frowned and shook its head.
“No. I’m not a Grim Reaper.”
“Then what are you?”
“Hmm. This book――,” it points to the book that fell to the ground. “Did you not read it?”
“It opened on its own before I read it, it glowed, and you…”
“I see. Is that right?”
As it was tapping the side of the head with a thump,
“Well, to put it bluntly, I’m a devil. The name is Mephisto. It says so on the cover, right?”
“What’s a devil?”
“Eh? Yes. Well…… I honestly don’t really know what you humans think of us…”
“Then, you’re saying I summoned a devil!?”
It talked as if to comfort me or calm me down after I let out a heartbreaking cry.
“What? I will not take you away and eat you.”
“Then, what are you going to do to me?”
“Hmm. It’s not that I came to you with the intention of doing you any harm. Me being summoned like this was some sort of accident.”
The devil Mephisto picked up the book and put it back on the bookshelf.
“In the first place, we don’t force anything on human beings. All is simply in accordance with the contract.”
“A contract… for example, where you give something in exchange for something to be done?”
Mephisto nodded with a smile.
“Mainly, what I ask for when I sign a contract with a human is―― their ‘soul’.”
In other words, life?
“When the soul is extracted, humans die. The soul is the source of life. The body is merely the vessel.”
“So, you’re saying that if I make a contract with you, as the price of getting my wishes fulfilled, I will be deprived of my soul and die in return?”
“I suppose so.”
So, and the devil continues to smile.
“If you have a wish that you want fulfilled even at the cost of your soul, then make a deal with me, ―― with a devil.”
I didn’t have any wishes that I wanted to fulfill. I’m reasonably happy right now. There was no reason for me to destroy that happiness.
I shook my head.
“I will have to decline.”
“Is that right? Unfortunate.” he said, as he picked up the book on the bookshelf ――a Grimoire for summoning a devil ――and flipped it open.
“Then I’ll take my leave. If you ever feel like signing with me, please take this book again and summon me.”
That said, Mephisto became a myriad of grains of light and disappeared into the Grimoire.
When I picked up the Grimoire that fell to the ground, I put it back in the bookshelf.
I feel like I was dreaming. However, even if I don’t pinch my cheek, I understood that this is reality.
I met a devil for the first time in my life, but it was surprisingly gentlemanly. It could have deceived me and stolen my soul, but it didn’t. It properly explained the contract and its price. Does the devil also have its own devilish style …?
I searched the entire library to see if there were any other hidden Grimoires. However, there was none.
I went home, feeling strange.
I have a fiancé.
My partner is an aristocrat, and in fact I am also an aristocrat. There seems to be a rule that engagement and marriage should be done between people of the same class. I don’t know who decided it, but most people follow the rules in a manner.
Commoners marry commoners and aristocrats marry aristocrats. Within the nobility, there are ranks, and most marry people of the same rank, with a few marrying people who are slightly higher or lower than them.
I’m a “baron” and he’s a “viscount”. He is higher in rank.
Why isn’t my fiancé the same baron? I’m not sure about the details. The engagement was decided by our parents. As the daughter, I was not privy to the details. Did my father successfully butter up the viscount?
I cannot refuse this engagement. Because my house has a lower rank. Only his house has the right to annul the engagement.
He―― Damien Albert ――is a kind person, I think. I like Damien, both inside and out. In other words, I like everything about him comprehensively.
Damien and I are not in a so-called love marriage. However, we are fond of each other and like each other. I think this is a very happy thing. I am a happy person.
So even if at the cost of this happiness or to offer my soul to the devil, there is no wish I want to fulfill――
“A, Anna…” said Damien, when he saw me come into the room.
Damien was in bed, naked, and underneath him was a woman, also naked, breathing wildly, looking at me with a triumphant sense of superiority.
The woman was familiar to me.
“Laura…” I muttered.
Like Damien, she also is a viscount. A friend of mine from my academy days, she was my best friend … why……?
The innocence and beauty of a saint has now been transformed into the lascivious glamour of a witch. Perhaps her true nature is this figure now …?
“Why are you here…?” Damien asked me.
“Why… I told you, right? I was coming to Damien’s house today.”
“Was it… hmph?”
I shifted my gaze from Damien to Laura. The moment I made eye contact with her, she smiled devilishly at me. I felt dizzy….
“Laura, how long have you been with Damian—”
“A long time, Anna.”
Laura was unusually calm as she got out of bed and wore a white robe.
“I was really looking forward to when you would realize it. I thought you’d notice it sooner, but Anna ―― really, such an i・di・ot.”
Laura looked ecstatic as I trembled and desperately struggled to hold on and shudder, almost collapsing on the spot.
“I’ve always wanted to see it. Your face in despair when you found out the truth. At last. I finally got to see it! I am very satisfied now. It’s a full, great feeling!”
Something broke in me. What is this? Happiness crumbled…? I thought Damien loved me. But it was a lie. Damien didn’t love me…?
A lie. It’s a lie. Damien is being deceived by Laura. Or maybe it was a bit of fun with her. I didn’t like the idea of any other women, even just for fun. But I’ll forgive him. Break up with Laura and build a relationship from scratch again.
“Anna” said Damien, dressed in a white robe. “I’m sorry, but I’d like to pretend that you and I never got engaged.”
“That is, to say, I want to annul our engagement. Do you understand?”
“No, way… why …?”
“Yes. I decided to get engaged to Laura.”
When Damien said that, he hugged Laura’s shoulder.
“Mostly, I didn’t want to marry you. You’re not my type. Besides, you―― the Hermites are ‘barons’ and my Alberts are ‘viscounts’. Even though they are the same aristocrat, we’re higher in rank. Do you understand what I’m saying? You and I are not evenly matched. In that respect, she―― Laura Boisley is a viscount like me. She’s better looking and more my type.”
Damien said quickly.
“Well, that’s why Anna Hermite. I’ll have my engagement with you annulled.”
“I’m sorry, but you don’t have a choice in the matter. I’ll be sure to mention this to your father.”
Damien and Laura walked over to the door of the room.
“Anna, you’re very pretty, so there should be plenty of potential suitors. I sincerely hope that you can marry a good man. Farewell.”
“I’m sorry, Anna. I’m sure I’m a bad woman who took away your happiness. You can hold a grudge against me if you like, okay?”
Intoxicated by the glory of victory, Laura pushed my shoulders hard with both hands.
I staggered, and fell on my rear. They seemed to have lost all interest in me, and the door was slowly closed.
I felt dizzy.
A few days later, it was officially announced that I―― Anna Hermite and Damien Albert’s engagement ――had been annulled. Damien Albert and Laura Boisley’s engagement was subsequently announced.
My father didn’t comfort me. He sighed deeply and was disappointed.
“Why was your engagement to the Albert family annulled? Isn’t it because you misbehaved? Even though I did my best to get you engaged to Viscount Albert’s son and heir……”
And then, one last word.
“I’m disappointed in you.”
The public had the idea that “Anna Hermite was at fault” in response to our engagement being broken. That was the mainstream.
On the other hand, they were somewhat sympathetic to Damien Albert, and his new fiancée, Laura Boisley, had a good reputation.
I tended to stay indoors. When I’m indoors ――locked in my room―― I can’t hear the voices of those around me. It’s quiet. I can’t hear any noise.
However, I can’t stay cooped up forever. At this rate, my soul will only become more and more stagnant. Soul. Soul……?
Oh, that reminds me. About the devil I met at the Royal Library.
That devil――Mephisto, in exchange for the soul, will grant a wish… I mean, if I give out my soul, Damien and Laura… those two hated people could be killed.
I offer my soul. Meaning, I’ll die. Death is not so scary to me now. Because I don’t have a shred of happiness right now. I have no attachment to life. Actually, I may as well just die. That’s how I feel.
I decided to head to the Royal Library. I don’t care if it’s a demon or not. I want to talk to someone. That devil would be kind enough. Because to it, I am a potential client.
I greeted the devil who appeared from the Grimoire.
“Oh, it was you, was it? I haven’t seen you for a long time. How can I help you?”
Mephisto was friendly, as if talking to a neighbor. It doesn’t look like a devil. I don’t know any other devils, but do all devils seem gentlemanly at first look? It’s a far cry from the image I have of devils.
“Umm, I just wanted to have a word with you.”
“I’m sorry. Couldn’t I?”
He must have been so excited to be able to make a deal, to get a soul. He looked puzzled for a moment, and then returned to his usual soft smile. The smile looks more like that of an angel than a devil.
But he’s definitely a devil.
“No, I don’t mind. I was bored,” said Mephisto. “So what do you want to talk about?”
“Um… I want you to listen to me.”
“In other words, you want me to be your listener?”
“Oh, will this count as a contract?”
I hurriedly confirmed. In exchange for listening to my story, it might ask for my soul… as expected, I don’t want to do that.
“No, just listening is fine, so go on. I find listening to people quite interesting.”
I talked about Damien Albert annulling our engagement, that his new fiancée was my friend Laura Boisley. It was as if I was releasing some pent up anger through the act of ‘talking’.
Was it interesting just hearing such a unilateral story? Maybe it had no choice, and might be listening reluctantly. I thought so and tried to observe the expression on its face, but it seemed very amused. At least, it’s not bored.
When I finish talking…
“Oh dear me, how ugly human beings truly are,” said Mephisto. “In essence, human beings are not very different from us devils.”
Indeed, humans are sometimes as scary and ugly as―― or even more so ――than devils. Human beings have their own level of dread and ugliness.
“I want to make a contract with you.”
“Contract? Does that mean…… you’re prepared to give me your soul?”
“I’m a devil, yet I will tell you this…”
Mephisto smiled wryly,
“You should cherish your life. You only have one.”
I never thought a devil would say such a thing. That a devil, who isn’t very close to me, would be the kindest to me…
Involuntarily, I almost cried. Even though there’s no one around, I’m ashamed to cry in the library, so I held it in.
“Well, it is you who will ultimately decide.”
Yes, there is only one life―― one soul.
If I sign a contract with Mephisto, I will die. I don’t mind dying. I have no regrets in this world. Or rather, I have no hope in this world. I’ll involve Damien and Laura in my death. A dark, black flame burns in my heart.
“I ―― Anna Hermite, want to make a deal with Mephisto.”
“What do you wish of me -I – Mephisto?”
“Kill Damien Albert and Laura Boisley.”
“It doesn’t matter how. I just want you to kill them.”
“…… very well.”
Mephisto nodded slowly. But – . . .
“All right, but ―― I want you to wait one month.”
“A month?” I tilt my head. “Does that mean it would take you a month to kill them?”
I thought a devil could kill two people in one night… are you going to kill them slowly with poison or something, not just outright kill them?
Mephisto shook his head and denied it.
“If, after a month, you still hate them enough to want them dead, then let’s make a deal.”
“You think I’m being too passionate right now?”
“Well, that’s right. Human emotions can be very turbulent.”
“Okay. I’ll be back in a month.” I said and I tried to walk away,
“If possible, please come again tomorrow.”
Mephisto called out.
“Like I said, I’m bored,” he said. “With all this free time, do tell me a lot of stories. It doesn’t matter what you talk about.”
I didn’t understand Mephisto’s purpose. Why does he want me to give him a month and to talk with me in the meantime?
Just because he’s bored. …… really? I don’t understand. A devil’s way of thinking may be completely different from that of a human.
“Do you have any plans for tomorrow?”
“No, I don’t. Because I’m not ―― it’s fine. I’ll come to the library tomorrow.”
“Thank you. Well then, see you tomorrow.”
Mephisto smiled and waved as he returned to the Grimoire.
Then, for a month.
I kept going to the Royal Library on a daily basis. I summon Mephisto, and the two of us have a long and pleasant chat and then I go home. That was the routine.
Talking with him was the only thing that kept me alive at the moment. I’ve recovered somewhat from my despair, but I still can’t forgive Damien and Laura. I want to erase those two hated people from this world. Even if it means my existence disappears from this world.
It seems that Mephisto cannot move freely without contracting with humans. He can only live freely in this world while under a contract.
“I would like to travel.”
Mephisto said in a laid-back tone. He seemed to like this world better than the world he lived in.
If I signed a contract with Mephisto ―― would he take plenty of time to kill Damien and Laura to enjoy his freedom? I want to believe that he wouldn’t do that.
One month and a day passed quickly.
When I went to the Royal Library as usual and summoned Mephisto, he had a more serious look on his face than usual. He should know that today is the day of the contract.
“It’s been a month, has it?”
“So how is it? Have you changed your mind? Or do you still hate Damien Albert and Laura Boisley enough to want them dead?”
“My feelings remain the same.”
Mephisto nods. After a few seconds of silence, he continues to talk.
“Then, let’s sign a contract. I’ll ask you again. What do you wish of me ―― I ―― Mephisto?”
“My wish is to kill Damien Albert and Laura Boisley.”
“Will you be happy if you kill them?”
If they are killed, the contract will be fulfilled and my soul will be taken away by this devil. I don’t think there’s happiness or unhappiness because I’ll be dead. I think I can feel somewhat better, but… if it’s a little bit of happiness, I can say that I’ll be happy…
“I think I can be happy, if just a little bit.”
“Hmm… So why don’t you change the terms of the contract a little?”
“If killing Damien Albert and Laura Boisley makes you feel any happier, I’ll make your wish ‘to make me happy’ come true. If that’s your wish, killing them would also be an inclusion.”
Indeed, the desire to “make me happy” may include killing them. However, it is very ambiguous in that case. How happy will it make me? How can my wish come true and my soul be taken away?
In the first place, is there a benefit to Mephisto with such a complicated wish? It may be of great benefit to me, but …
I don’t think a devil who is not selfish is very devilish. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure, but I feel like he is thinking of me and giving me advice.
“Okay. I’ll follow your advice.”
“All right,” he smiled. “What do you ―― Anna Hermite, wish of me ―― Mephisto?”
“My wish is – ‘To make me happy’.”
“Very well. I will grant your wish. But in exchange, Anna Hermite ―― I’ll take your soul. May I?”
Mephisto took a contract out of his pocket, wrote it, and finally signed it with a blood seal.
“Confirmation, signature, and blood seal, please”
I checked what was written on it and then signed and stamped my blood. It was my first time I had ever done a blood seal, so I was nervous and honestly it hurt quite a bit.
“Now the deal is done.” said Mephisto, as he put the contract away,
“Then, let’s kill Damien Albert and Laura Boislay. Would you like to watch as I kill them both?”
“Very well. Let’s go.”
Mephisto and I went to Damien’s house.
Damien’s home was a large mansion and there were servants. Mephisto used a hypnotic technique to put them to sleep. Seeing Mephisto using his supernatural powers made me finally realize that he really is a devil. Humans cannot do this.
Damien’s room was on the second floor of the mansion.
“Damien Albert and Laura Boisley are there.”
How does he know where they are? I thought so, but if it is possible to use hypnosis, it can also be possible to determine the location of the target.
Mephisto kicked open the locked room. Contrary to his smart figure, he seems to have tremendous strength.
“Hello,” said Mephisto.
Damien and Laura, like before, were in bed, naked. They look at me―― or rather ――at Mephisto and their expression asking, ‘Who is this?’
“My name is Mephisto. Even though things appear this way, I am a devil, pretty much.”
“What are you saying, sir!?”
Damien approaches, wearing a robe. Mephisto’s appearance was momentarily blurred, and the next moment he was slamming his fist into Damian’s midsection.
Damien vomited on the floor.
“Anna, what did you come to do…?” asked Laura.
“I’m here to kill you.”
Laura’s complexion changed.
She realized that I was not joking, that I was serious about killing them.
“Somebody! Somebody help! Intruder!”
Laura calls for help as loudly as she can, but unfortunately no help comes. All but two of them are now traveling in a land of dreams. It seems to be a pretty deep sleep, and they will stay asleep for five hours.
“I hate you. I hate you so much. I want to kill you. That’s why I made a deal with a devil.”
“A devil? Don’t talk nonsense!”
Mephisto grabbed Damien’s right arm and broke his bones with a snap as if breaking a twig.
Even if you scream, no help will come. No one will wake up.
Perhaps Laura realized that help wouldn’t come, so she tried to escape on her own. She opened the window and jumped outside. No, she tried to jump. But before she could, Mephisto’s shadow stretches out and wraps around Laura’s body. She is caught in the materialized shadow, slyly dragged, and brought before me.
“This is… a dream……?”
“It’s not a dream. This is reality.”
I slapped Laura’s cheek as hard as I could. There is a nice, crisp sound. Her white cheeks turned red and she cried out in pain.
The two desperately apologized after realizing Mephisto was truly a devil. It was not a heartfelt apology. They’re not remorseful. It was just a token apology, as if they were trying to survive, trying to be coy.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, forgive me, please forgive me, I’ll start over with you again, I really like you, I’ve only been deceived by her, we’re friends right, forgive me, I’m sorry, save me………
Their voices died away to a meaningless noise.
“What will you do?” asked Mephisto.
“Kill them as cruelly as possible,” I said.
Mephisto smiles like a devil and tortures them with a gleeful expression.
Their screaming and crying. I vaguely watch and think. Did this make me happy? I got revenge and felt better. But is this happiness?
Eventually, the two died.
We left Damien’s house.
Mephisto called my name.
“Are you happy with this?”
“…… Not much,” I shook my head. “But with this, the contract―― my wish has been granted. So my soul―― “
“No. The deal is not done yet.”
“The contract remains because you’re not happy. ‘Make Me Happy’ ―― That was Your Wish.”
“…… Come to think of it, it was,” I said. “But then what are you going to do now? How do you make me happy?”
“I will stay by your side for the rest of your life until you die happily and content.” said Mephisto with a serious expression. Involuntarily, I laughed.
“What’s that, it’s like a proposal.”
The devil smiles.
“To make you happy, would require keeping by your side, and would take a lot of time. Do you hate to go about your life with me, a devil?”
“No. I don’t mind it. But are you okay with that?”
“Yes, because you can live your life with someone you love.”
He said something ridiculous right now…? Someone I love ――me. In other words, I fell in love with this devil.
But I don’t feel bad at all. Rather, I am very happy.
“What is this, after all, a proposal?”
“Yes. I’m proposing.”
Mephisto reached out to me. I held that hand. I thought that a devil’s hand would be cold, and it was quite warm.
“What shall we do first? How do you make me happy?”
“That’s right. Now that I can move freely, how about traveling to make memories?”
“…… you just wanted to travel.”
“Precisely,” the devil laughed.
“Well, that’s fine. Make me happy by the time I die.”
“Very well,” Mephisto nodded confidently. “Such are the terms of the contract.”