When I asked Knell what he liked, he answered, “Metal.”
Of course, he meant the music, not the material. I would assume he’d had bad experiences with the latter…anyway, I set out to find as many files as I could for him. Collecting music was difficult these days.
It’s not that no one was making any, it’s just that the industry had never fully recovered since ancient times, and if no one with money was interested in a certain genre, you simply wouldn’t hear of it.
I ended up working with professional collectors to find older files and make the necessary conversions. I even made some recordings from physical media. Then, I’d upload each file to his PC remotely and discreetly, and wait for him to discover it. I have to admit: the look of surprise and delight on his face is one of the things I live for.
…I know I spoil him rotten. But I’ve never been good with words or hugs…the only way I know to make him feel welcome is to give him things.
It goes without saying, at this point, that Knell had been living in my house. He didn’t have a room of his own, but he didn’t sleep, so that was just as well. Instead, he’d taken over a small corner of my living room and filled it with his favorite things: stuffed animals, art supplies, and physical books. Most of it was stuff I’d bought for him, but occasionally he salvaged things from hunting trips and added them to his collection.
When this started, it was all hunting trips. He kept “coincidentally” appearing outside my house whenever I was about to leave for one, and we’d end up travelling together. We convinced ourselves that it was just for safety reasons: I worried about him being alone with humans, and he worried about me being alone with demons.
But the obvious truth was that we didn’t want to leave each other. He enjoyed my company for some reason, and I felt responsible for him. Eventually, I got tired of the act and let him come inside. And the rest is history.
One day, I was looking through the news feed on my PC, trying to find a job. Being part of the guild meant constant income, but it was very small; I was expected to earn most of my money on the road, like waiters are expected to make up for their meager wages with tips.
It had been a light month for demon attacks, which was good, but it meant that both money and work were in short supply. It hardly put a dent in my simple standard of living, but the winter solstice festival was coming up, and it would be Knell’s first since becoming a half-demon, so I wanted it to be special for him. Which, in my case, meant thoughtful yet expensive gifts that I currently could not afford. I was determined to fatten up my “Presents for Knell” fund before it was too late.
Yes, I spoil him rotten.
At the time, Knell was sitting in his corner, listening to music and coloring an instruction manual. I’d quickly learned that coloring was his favorite activity. He had to color everything he drew, even if it was just a scribble, and he would color any other picture he could get his hands on. He always colored the pictures in the physical books I bought for him, even if they were just maps, and even though I told him it would destroy their resale value.
Once, we ended up in an art museum during one of our hunting trips, and seeing the black-and-white photographs actually put him in a bad mood. I supposed it was a demon thing.
Anyway, if I wanted to keep that 64-piece set of pastel crayons on the “Presents for Knell” list, I had to focus on my task. Find a job.
No matter how much I scrolled, I couldn’t find any news of demon attacks. It seemed like every article was about some angel visitation from the Satellite, and I honestly couldn’t care less about that. I was about to give up and just wait for the excitement to subside, when I noticed that one article had a photo of someone I recognized.
It was Peal.