"It's morning already?"
Nik questioned and sat up groggily, rubbing his eyes to clear the irritating crust that formed over his eyes and then scratching his cheeks in annoyance when he found nobody around him. Standing up after a few moments, Nik took out his trustee supply kit to brush his teeth and soon, freshen up.
Before leaving the hut, Nik suddenly looked at his side and found the door of Shigure's workplace open, igniting his curiosity. With a few steps, Nik found himself standing within a properly equipped smithy packed with an extremely heavy scent. With a frown, Nik looked at the metallic covers covering the generous vents and then started to explore the place.
'This is where Shigure works, huh... amazing...'
He may have f.u.c.k.i.e.d many blacksmith's and rich technician's wives in his past profession, but never did he get the opportunity to actually witness a professional workplace of the members of the society that can get respect in the society due to their profession.
A profession that could only remain out of Nik's grasp for no matter what he did in the past for he admitted that he may have tried to pull some strings with some of the fanatic clients of his as a proxy to free him and his mother. Alas, their employer was just that of a behemoth.
"Oh, well... it's not like I can change the past..."
Nik muttered and picked up the light hammer hung alongside other tools and waved it lightly before noticing a particular pattern of indentations over the handle of the hammer.
This was the print of Shigure's palm.
Now Nik could not only appreciate Shigure's calloused hands but also admire them as he placed the hammer back. From what he already knew of the profession, the blacksmiths hated when anyone touched their personal equipments. To Nik, it was quite an irrational thought. But when he carefully considered how easy it is to emotionally invest in objects or even humans, he floundered in his earlier thoughts.
The wall which sported the conspicuous Hammer also sported many other tools wit only a few of them recognisable at a glance and that, too, due to his prior knowledge regarding the profession. The anvil was placed quite close to the forge while the wall also held multiple pairs of tongs and hammers of various sizes and shapes to properly refine a product with many small tools that may be related to the fine processing of the weapons.
Then, his gaze found a large crowd of barely forged weapons their shapes gave them away as weapons and Nik closed in on the distance to carefully examine them and making a comparison with his own gauntlets. Unlike the muddied metal, his gauntlets gave off a clear metallic l.u.s.ter with a tinge of crimson, the same material as his Nichirin Blade, Nik reckoned and also, the pattern on the circular mound on his gauntlets a striking kunai knife could be seen etched on the pile of weapons, too.
There was still a particular difference that Nik could note and if he didn't know Shigure, he would have missed this point. The craft painted itself to be quite rugged and rough. Its shape, the work on the blade, everything spoke of Roughness, Harshness...
But not Shigure's. Her's was a gauntlet fine-tuned to fit comfortably well while also paying due attention to the requirements of such an item to be efficient and rationale in its functioning. Once again, Nik clicked on the small bump in the middle of his palms and in less than a second, a pair of thin blade emerged from the wrist of the gauntlets.
After a few minutes of careful comparison, Nik finally stood up, hid away his War Gauntlets and made his way out of Shigure's smithy while suppressing the envy he felt for Shigure to be able to inherit such a noble craft. Not that she needed to know his thoughts anyway. As envious he was of Shigure, the root cause wasn't the craft itself, but the idea of the inheritance from her caretaker and while Nik may have exclaimed internally time and again that he has put his past to a rest, sadly, such things are easier said than done.
Walking out of Shigure's residence, a bright day hit his eyes hard, making him raise his left hand to adjust to the fact that it was already afternoon... probably... before looking at the busy streets of the village. Just like yesterday, every single villager wore a red mask that features an octopus' features and mixed amongst them were the sparse members from the demon slayers corps that averted their gazes the moment they identified Nik.
Though respect and admiration remained glaringly obvious within their gazes, the thinly hidden envy was something that distanced Nik from the general demon slayers. Not minding the apparent model figure the surrounding slayers had turned himself into, Nik walked through the streets with a peaceful expression and nodding only at the female villagers and the demon slayers that would gaze at him with a hint of curiosity in their eyes.
Finally, as if his grumbling stomach's prayers had been answered, Nik found himself running into the wheezing pair of Rei and Aoi, their forehead soaked in sweat while the veins popping around their bodies already pointed out that should Nik interrupt their training, getting an answer out of them would still turn out to be a laborious task.
But he could ask for directions, right?
"Where did Mitsuri set up her stall?"
Nik came to the point instantly, something, the already irritated Rei and Aoi were grateful of and Rei the familiar one with Nik out of the duo pointed at the western outer ring of the village while Nik covered the duo in his Pheromones and started easing their nerves artificially. He didn't look for major changes, but just tweaked a bit of their body reactions to prevent any outright harm to their physique and once again, Rei, who had already experienced such a feeling under Nik's hands, now smiled towards him. The smile only lasted for a mere moment since her heavy pants broke her expression once again. Nit willing to take their time out of training, Nik waved at them and smiled.
"After the jogging, meet me near Mitsuri's stall."
His words barely left and the duo took off, "Bye, now." Completing his words, Nik turned his heels towards the pointed direction and made his way towards the outer ring of the village at a quick pace, now, not even bothering to register the look of admiration and envy from his male counterparts. With a thick scent soo. reaching his nose and guiding the way, Nik found himself walking towards a rather large setup of tents and bonfire that was surrounded by demon slayers.
His gaze observed the hard-working Mitsuri for a moment. Once again, his focus landed not on Mitsuri, but her effort for she cooked the entire time, forgetting about the world as the brilliant smile on her face remained devoted entirely to her profession and while her hands clearly demonstrated her years of hard work, Nik couldn't help but lament at the thought that he was once again growing envious of someone else once again.
What envy demonstrated is a lack of something desirable and by now, the prospect of attaining a profession that took Nik's time when he isn't training or tending to his girls really looked desirable.
"She looks beautiful, doesn't she?"
Even without turning his gaze, Nik replied to Shinobu in candour. His personality was a public secret and so were his number of partners. And even then if Shinobu wasn't the least bit intimidated, Nik didn't care about covering his thoughts.
"a hard-working woman is beautiful at any place and time." Nik whispered while Shinobu walked up and stood beside him, "Your expression," She pursued, "Points out that you want something from her. Why don't you just go and ask her out? It wouldn't be such a hard task, and she, too, is clearly interested."
"As much as I desire Mitsuri's companionship there is a time and place for everything not that I care about such saying...
She is currently busy. Busy with something she likes and it'll be a damn shame to take away that expression."
Nik smiled while Shinobu smiled.
"So it is that expression that you want from her... so, do you like cooking?"
Shinobu and Nik made their way towards the seats present around the stall as Nik reply with a smile, "I haven't tried cooking, but it could definitely pass as an engaging hobby. By the way, have you seen Elizabeth and others?"
Nik could have asked them directly through the [Partner Communication], but... that isn't any fun.
"I haven't seen them. Miss Demon from yesterday, Saya and Shizuka are still in Elizabeth's place." Shinobu replied while gazing at Nik's chin when suddenly, a snarl broke their peaceful surrounding.
"Nik!" Turning their head, the duo witnessed a furious Obanai pacing towards them and his actions finally attracted Mitsuri's attention, too. Without any other words to place his anger, Obanai grabbed Nik's collar and tried pulling him up from his chair, alas, he failed to move him for even a single inch. Nik didn't just exercise harshly to get pushed and pulled around easily. As veins popped around Obanai's wrist, Nik finally matched his gaze and asked with a soft smile.
"Is this another show of establishing yourself as my senior?" Nik stood up, the difference in both of their heights and the fact that Obanai gripped on Nik's collar tightly, made Obanai lose his footing.
"Or have you finally gone senile?"
Nik continued with a smile and not wishing to indulge the male in his furious fantasies, Nik gently grasped his wrist. At this moment, Nik could seriously hurt Obanai, but it won't look good in front of Ray. As much as the Snake Pillar was getting on his nerves, it is a known fact to NikTreat others how you want to be treated. With sending Obanai's details to Ray, he now happened to be a potential harem member of Ray and if Nik hurt him now, he would not only ruin his slowly developing friendship with Ray but also give Ray a chance to hurt his own lovers.
"Please, there are only a few matters that cannot be settled with discussion. I have never harmed your family members, neither have I ever attacked you in bias.
So, what's up?"
Nik sat down once again and pointed at the seat in front of him and Shinobu to the stunned Obanai.
After having a brief window of opportunity to understand Nik's monstrous physical strength that could be easily regarded in the category of upper-tier pillars, Obanai bit the bulled with gritted jaws and sat in front of Nik, snarling once again.
"The heck are you thinking by bringing another demon?"
Though snarling, Obanai remained sensible enough to lower his voice to not attract the ire of the already curious villagers.
"Why not? Nezuko is already here, might as well let Yuriko tag along."
"I don't name my targets." Obanai hissed and even the snake coiled around his neck flickered its tongue coldly.
"This is enough." Shinobu finally frowned. As much as she hated the demons herself, it was only due to the remembrance of her elder sister that she remained sensible enough to not hate all the demons outright. This observation allowed her to finally recognise many members that entered the corps just for personal vengeance.
And, Shinobu knew Obanai well enough to understand that he wasn't one of the members seeking personal satisfaction out of killing the demons. He was just used to killing demons that he simply did not care for the kind at all.
"By now, it should be easy to understand that not all demons are the enemies of humankind, right? Then why are you so set on confronting Nik time and again?"
As Shinobu's question made Obanai flounder, Mitsuri finally arrived at the scene with her chef's uniform on, attracting Nik's huge smile.
The pinkette's voice turned into buzzing whisper by the time she reached the area while Obanai snorted softly under his bandaged face.
"Obanai was just talking about how he hates female companionship. Why don't you sit and enjoy his points?"
Nik patted the chair beside him as Obanai's visible face grew uglier by the second.
"I said no such thing!"
"Yes, you did!"
Shinobu and Nik chimed simultaneously as Mitsuri sat down while hinting other chefs to start bringing in food. She was hungry and Mitsuri hadn't seen Nik for the breakfast, making an assumption that he might be, too.
A/N: A wave of gratitude to John for contributing to my patron! If you wish to read advance chapters, you can do so @