Saturday, two days before the new start date of the School Fest.
After reading so many books about management and accounting, and trying her best to follow the bald cafe manager's directions on how to manage the cafe and the staffs, she finally heard the system's notification about the skill being updated in her user interface. Even though it received the lowest evaluation rating, it still meant that her efforts finally paid off and this managerial skill she had been working hard for the whole month was eventually acquired and acknowledged by the system.
It was truly something worth celebrating for.
After all, gaining skill through this way was really time-consuming but really worth the effort and the feeling of accomplishment should be greater than suddenly having the system award to her.
Oddly though, Sofony only glanced at the congratulatory message for a second, without the least change in her expression, before looking away.
These days, she was too preoccupied with something and had no energy to spare to brood over this minor accomplishment. She was not in the mood to feel happy about a seemingly normal life skill. In fact, as her train of thoughts got interrupted by the system announcement, her eyes narrowed and her forehead wrinkled in annoyance.
She was easily irritated these past few days. Before, even if she lost her wallet to a sneaky child pickpocketer while in the streets, she would only feel sad a bit and then move on. But now, even a simple matter, like a bus ticket collector not giving her 1 credit change for a 9 credit ride. would make her furrow her brows and raise her voice at the collector.
The irritation she felt all over her body continued to grow each passing day. She just suddenly couldn't help sighing at times, becoming cranky and ill-tempered. It was not her week of the month, this was why many people around her were confused and worried. Some of them asked about her condition, hoping to make her fessed up. But for some reason, their concern only made her mood worse. Like the only purpose of people's unwanted interest, no matter how genuine or fake, was to annoy her.
She couldn't understand herself. This fact was making her more agitated. As this condition persisted, she began to see the world differently, as if it was much darker and deceiving than ever before.
'Perhaps, it's been always like this, it's just me being stupid and blind to see reality. It's like because I've been so used to seeing things positively... or rather, because I'm too used looking at things using my naive eyes, I couldn't see the truth.'
She couldn't help but feel scared and uneasy, fueling more the uncomfortable irritation eating away at her.
One time, she thought that maybe what she did against Felicity's father turned her this way, as he was the first person killed by her. There's also a chance it began when she witnessed Gio's dark side... or maybe the darkness within her that had budded and accumulated after everything she's done under the system's directions finally erupted and was now taking over her sanity and heart.
She laughed self-mockingly at this realization.
'Now that I think about it, where am I qualified to criticize others of their faults when I'm like this? And why am I afraid of Gio when all he's done is hunt a bastard pervert who tried to target his bedmate, me?'
'I'm the worst to think I couldn't rein myself in from always jumping into conclusion.'
Sofony began shaking her head and exhaled a cold breath of air. Then while remaining seated on a swivel chair within her cafe's small office and to somehow distract herself, she started allocating pleasure points to her newly gained skill. A few seconds later, the system showed her a screen where her managerial skill had a D next to it. Since the page displayed was already displaying her skills, she also upgraded Hypnotism and Acting to A. Fortunately, she had enough points to spend. Yet unfortunately, the reason she currently had more than ten thousand points at hand was due to accomplishing a few non-system missions...
Felicity's father's death seemed to have catalyzed it all. She meant not how his death was orchestrated by her under the pretext of it being the system's second official mission. It was about her first time taking somebody's life despite it being done in an indirect way.
After she hypnotized herself that it's okay not to feel guilty over a garbage man's death, it gradually became easier for her to calm her conscience down. Of course, when the system tasked her to indirectly deliver death to a random man recently sentenced to life imprisonment due to serial killing, she still resisted. But as the system repeatedly reminded her of her fear of death and her weakness when compared to the other hosts, plus its threat about Felicity's identity, she was forced to hypnotize people again to arrange another death... which then turned into another the next day, until it became a daily thing, and her aversion to the deed itself became lesser and lesser.
At first, she was still crying and vomiting. The frequency was also high. Yet presently, even if she still felt like crying and puking, she could now stop herself from completely doing them. She could sense herself becoming much more unfamiliar and unfeeling, irritable as well. However, ever since Mr. Dimatrionez died, and the system threw at her the third official mission of entrancing herself regarding that man's death, self-hypnosis became like a habit to her, like it's the only thing that would help her lessen the guilt, pain, and fear.
Now, the sleepless nights were over.
Yet her hate towards herself never lessened. Because she's never the type to not recognize when she's in the wrong. She knew her sins. Even though she's not the one that directly inserted the knife to those people's chests, she's the one that organized the crime and she's guilty of it. Double guilty when her act of self-hypnosis to escape her conscience was factored in.
'But what's the point of realizing it? When I discovered that doing immoral things not assigned by the system would still give points, and after being forced to gain the habit of self-hypnosis, I honestly could see my bottom line blurring. I'm afraid there would come a day when even Gio would become too good for someone like me...'
After sighing for the nth time today, a ding suddenly echoed within her mind which made her subconsciously tremble at her seat. Then as expected, a very irritating voice rang in her head, which made her expression unsightly and dark.
<System: Hello, my bitchy hypocrite host, time for another mission~ Hehe, now that you're no longer as hesitant to grow stronger as before, how about we do something exciting like stealing your sexmate's prey?>
At this question, Sofony's hand holding the pen stilled in the air and the pair of expressive black eyes looking down to the documents she was working on dilated. Its last word made her think of that person Gio had captured and endlessly tortured since a little more than a week ago.
A laugh came as a reply to her question.
<System: Who else, my stupid host?>
Silence reigned for quite a long time after it showed her the official mission announcement. A few minutes later she started organizing the papers and documents into a neat stack piled at one side of her table. After this, she took a deep breath then leaned on the backrest and began chanting her calming mantra - the various crimes and reasons why it would be okay to destroy that person.
She had to repeatedly whisper, 'It's okay because he's a terrible criminal.'
'He's scum. He killed many innocent people.'
'He's destroyed the lives and future of many just to satisfy his sexual urges and other vices.'
'Yes, he's society's dreg. So it's all okay.'
Deep within her though, she knew it's never okay, as she was also someone without any right to harvest somebody else's life.
Alina City remained the same. Among her citizens, there were some living their lives in a boring and repetitive manner, while others tread on a wire to survive and see the next day. There were people like Wendy, even though not at all saintly, but were still living under the light. There were also those like Sofony who were rapidly getting engulfed by darkness. The point was, things had always been this way. And where goodness laid was also where evil hid. It's a mystery why light always has to have a dark side like a shadow.
Many things had happened this week.
First of all, the same day when Sofony caused someone's death for the first time was when Wendy visited Felicity's mother who was currently imprisoned in a pure white room with many bright lights. The process had been mentally taxing but from the mouth of the woman who would probably remain there for life, Wendy learned that the three most absurd gossips about their family she had heard from people were true.
The unfortunate thing was... so what if she had discovered the truth?
If everything she wanted to uncover were the facts behind Felicity's suicide, then she had already succeeded. But this did not make her feel any sense of satisfaction or accomplishment because it turned out that the mother who was honestly also a victim was the killer.
Why the heck did she investigate the Dimatrionez family? Wasn't it due to being badly unnerved by Mr. Dimatrionez? But now that the truth was laid before her eyes, she felt that it was so cruel because this damn man would at most be jailed for committing adultery. The wife's testimony naturally would not be counted so she would have to turn in another evidence of his infidelity which would not pose any difficulty for her. But she was saddened by the fact that a mere 6 months imprisonment would be the sentence to him. It was very unfair because it was due to his wrongdoings that his daughter died and his wife got sent to a mental institution. Yet this would be his only retribution?
Well, that was how Wendy felt before being informed of Mr. Dimatrionez' death of being run over by a delivery truck and ending up with a face unrecognizable after his skull got flattened into a mess of flesh and blood.
When she received this news, Wendy remained dumbfounded for a very long time. However, she did not feel relieved at all and was only having mixed emotions about it. She did not know if she should rejoice that heavens seemed to have moved forward to punish that man.
Wendy thought it all for a long time and just decided to forget about this. From now on, she would act as if she never uncovered anything. She would also pray for Felicity's soul and Alda's recovery. Then she would go back to her normal life as Holy Child's Academy's brainy queen.
As for the other people related to this mess...
Steffy continued being Sofony's cute and lively younger sister and was steadily adapting to her new life in the city. There were some puzzling matters, like how she found herself familiar with the lessons despite being a transferee and how she was also familiar with the school like she had always been studying there. But that's it and it all ended with a slight sense of deja vu. The rest of her days were spent recovering from her injuries while at the same time enjoying high school life with her friends and sister. There was also the thing with the student council's president's younger brother.
Chris Meyer, like how Wendy saw him at the entrance of the Greenpark Memorials, became a gloomy guy who rarely spoke. Despite hearing from Sofony Mendez that his dead childhood sweetheart wanted him to lead a happy life, it was still too hard for him to recover from the heartbreak and trauma. Thus, he became withdrawn and cold.
Unbeknownst to him though, his sudden change of personality made him more charismatic and attractive to girls. However, even if he knew about this, it wouldn't make a difference. Perhaps even if all the girls in the world came to love him, he would still not care. Or maybe, not right now that his heart was still badly broken into innumerable pieces.
And lastly, Floyd Cruz, who used to be Felicity's boyfriend, was kept chained and bound in one of Gio Albarez' torture prison located under one of his many hidden mansions. Ever since he was captured and then regularly 'interrogated' about his mysterious return to life, his consequent days became worse than death. Even though his face changed to that of a middle-aged bulky farmer, they seemed to believe he was really Floyd. And Gio's men were very creative people. Their enthusiasm which had been put at the wrong place pushed him to the brink of insanity to the point he had daily wished for the world's destruction.
He had always wanted to escape from there. Unfortunately, his phone had been taken away which cut off his communication with his system. And actually, even if his phone was with him, it would probably barely change a thing due to his lack of points. He could not think of any other way to flee from there. Because of this, he had no choice but received the harsh and inhumane tortures. This persisted for days which felt more like decades to him.
Tonight, Gio suddenly visited and personally started questioning him how he survived his onslaught and bullets. He was also curious how he magically changed his face into another person's. Floyd persistently kept his mouth closed. Gio was honestly amazed by his tenacity. As someone pampered and raised with a golden spoon in his mouth since birth, it was quite admirable to remain tightlipped after all the tortures that left his body in very bad and bloody shape.
Gio was also very annoyed though, as the information he was curious of was still not forced out of the kid's lips even after a week had gone by. Therefore, when the boy still chose to not fess up, he finally lost patience and ordered his men to chop off his limbs and third leg. The next hour was spent by the devil-like man enjoying the young man's inhuman scream and unsightly appearance.
Floyd who had never felt despair like this before started screaming madly. He also shouted that he would have killed Gio long ago if not for his bitch's interference.
Gio frowned when he heard this as the only person he had thought of that could be the one called by Floyd as the bitch was his Baby. But he was very displeased because she's in no way remotely related to that word.
As the insane boy repeatedly shouted the same set of words, Gio's eyes went to the people by his side. There were more than five men in black standing in a row on his right side. George was not one of them so he turned to the closest person.
"Old Gil, go fetch an electric stove, a pot, and other cooking necessities."
The reply came almost immediately. "Yes, young master."
However, just when the black-tuxedo-wearing middle-aged subordinate of his had just turned around, Gio suddenly changed his mind and spoke up, "No, change of plans. No need to cook. Have this dirty human swine eat it up raw."
The middle-aged man's eyes briefly widened after picking up what his boss wanted him to do. But his expression immediately turned to normal. He then swiftly and professionally executed his master's order. He even kind-heartedly made it easier for Floyd to eat by chopping the thing off into bits and pieces. He did it right in front of the young man, making sure Floyd see the bloody process from beginning to the end before he forcefully shoved the disgusting thing into Floyd's mouth. The pitiful and now insane immoral host repeatedly tried to resist by shaking his head to every direction, yet his limbless body proved of no capability to oppose a trained agent like Old Gil.
Now, the immoral host who was used to raping countless women and indulging in too much sex ended up forced to swallow the bits and pieces of his chopped manhood. Every time the bloody flesh was shoved into his mouth, his tears would surge out of his eyes. He would always remember that he only became like this due to Sofony's schemes and that he badly wanted to fuck and kill her, but with his current pitiful situation, he had no way to resist nor take revenge. He was even turned into a human swine eating his own penis under the laughing watch of six people.
The rage, humiliation, and hopelessness Floyd had felt simultaneously went beyond the peak. He was not resigned to his fate but as his life slowly left him, he could only madly curse and cry, all while wishing for death to claim him fast.
Then Saturday, 11:59 pm. Floyd Cruz, the immoral host 98 finally died.
However, before his death, he made these six people widen their eyes in disbelief to what they witnessed.
Before the end of his life, Floyd madly shouted quite a few incomprehensible things like
'I regret that I did not collect more points! I regret it so much! Dammit!!!!'
'I should have at least bought the deadliest virus to make this earth hell!!!'
'You'll die, Gio! You don't know what kind of woman you're fucking at home is!!! She'll kill you! Because she's immoral! HAHAHAHA!'
'The immoral system will surely task her to kill you!!!!!!!!!!!'
After the last stupid-sounding-like phrase Floyd had yelled while laughing and crying, Gio suddenly saw the blood-covered, miserable-looking human swine turning into ashes from the remaining lower body up to the head at a speed naked to human eyes. As his men panicked and tried to bring him away from the perplexing and scalp-numbing sight, Gio remained at his spot, his eyes narrowing as he watched everything from the start until only pure white ashes remained from where Floyd used to be.
Until the end, Floyd acted suspiciously and died mysteriously, but this did not prevent Gio from silently etching to mind every single word shouted at him.
Especially the last one.
As it was related to the only girl he had let to stay by his side for more than a month.