When she was young, Jackie had accidentally burnt herself with her own flame for the first time. That instant of pain had become connected with her father’s shocked expression. Now when Jackie ignited her Demon blood, and the flames burnt her skin, she would recall the disappointment in her father’s words:
???: ‘You had so much potential...’
From then on, Jackie had felt like an alien, one who did not belong in Wonderland. Even in her youth, she thought that the outside world would probably be more suitable for her than her home.
Young Jackie: Uncle, what's different between here and the outside world?
The Lost Mad Hatter: Everything.
Young Jackie: How is it not the same?
The Lost Mad Hatter: Not much.
Young Jackie: Everything is different, but not much is not the same?
The Lost Mad Hatter: Most things are different; yet, they remain the same.
Young Jackie: You wouldn’t stop saying things people cannot understand, would you...
Living in the castle, Jackie was not familiar with worldly affairs. Hence, despite her mother’s opposition, she would spend time with the Mad Hatter and the Caterpillar.
Caterpillar the Remonstrator: Once you go onto your own path, there is no return.
Caterpillar the Remonstrator: With the long distance from the destination, if we veer onto a wrong path, it would be very difficult to return to our initial goal.
Young Jackie: If the distance is far, then I would have time to the right path, right?
Caterpillar the Remonstrator: Yes, since you are unwilling to give up, you would have to endure extended pain.
Young Jackie: How nonsensical!
Caterpillar the Remonstrator: If you study more, you will understand.
Young Jackie: I don’t want to be a nerd!
As young Jackie heard about the outside world from them, she started to develop thoughts about living out there. By the time she grew up, she was even more resolute against the dissuasion, fully determined to leave Wonderland.
Rook of Draconic Frost: Your Highness! Please stay!
Jackie: Get out of my way! I don’t want to make this difficult!
Dormouse of the Round Table: Even though Your Highness is the princess, I still can’t let you go!
Jackie: I am very familiar with your weakness though, Uncle Dormouse.
Guard of Stern Shield: Your Highness, please come back with us.
Seeing her persuasion fail, Jackie could only lift her left hand. Tolerating the pain from the burn, she blazed out with a surge of flame —
Jackie the Postwoman: Nothing ever changes here, I can’t take this anymore!
Stephen: Even if it is just preparation, before saying “I love you,” my heart is still so excited that it seems to leap out of my chest!
Ed: I understand. Your mind is blank, and all you want is to satisfy the urges in your brain.
Stephen slammed the empty wine glass onto the table, almost shattering it.
Stephen: You are a great friend! Barkeep, give me another —
Ed: Don’t drink anymore. You would lose consciousness if you get drunk.
Stephen: Leave me alone! I am trying to numb myself!
Ed picked up Stephen and pulled him out of the bar. From eyes of others, they were a pair of close friends. Yet, none would expect that Stephen and Ed had actually just met. Ed did not intend to take Stephen home; rather, he was taking him to his own execution chamber.
Jackie: Hey sir, did Stephen come?
Bar Owner: Yes, he was at that table with a friend last night.
Jackie: ‘Wait? This is —’
Jackie sensed demonic pneuma in the bar. She panickedly ran into the street. Having seen the missing persons notice on the bulletin board, Jackie was fully aware that a Demon had been hunting in the city. Yet, to conceal herself, she had stayed silent, not anticipating that they would go for Stephen.
Jackie ran through the streets searching for traces of the Demon. Her anger grew. If she was not with anyone, then her emotions would not be heightened. She would not have become agitated in search of that person.
Snow fell throughout the day, gradually covering the streets. Jackie kept searching from day to night, before locating her target in an abandoned home. Ed had been having fun. To honor each victim, he would spend the whole day with them. He would not stop until fresh blood no longer seeped from the body.
When Jackie blasted open the door with flames, Ed immediately wrapped his “materials” in linen before tossing a still-bloody knife at Jackie. She dodged and chased after Ed who had escaped through the window.
Ed the Innocent Necrophilia: Get out of my way!
Ed the Innocent Necrophilia: You wouldn’t like getting disturbed when you are delivering letters, right?!
Jackie: Give him back to me!
Ed the Innocent Necrophilia: What do you want with the body? Are you interested in this as well?
With her flaming claws, Jackie grabbed Stephen’s body and the murderer’s right hand. The killer howled in pain, but to prevent capture, he actually chopped off his own arm with his rapier. Jackie pulled her clawed arm back but still furious, Jackie dashed at the murderer. In the split of time, a flying blade cut into her ankle. She collapsed forward, and the murderer took this opportunity to escape.
Jack: Ed, over here!
Flames expanded as anger clouded Jackie’s heart. Her blaze spread across fields, leaving an inferno covering all —
???: ‘Since you have sinned anyways, let’ s push everything to the extreme!’
???: ‘Nothing can be taken back, and it is also unnecessary!’
Caterpillar the Remonstrator: ‘Jackie, if we veer onto a wrong path, it would be very difficult to return to our initial goal.’
Jackie extinguished her flames, collapsing onto the charred earth. Tears fell on her burnt flesh, and the pain was reminiscent of knife cuts.
Standing before the forge, Jackie read Stephen’s notebook.
Stephen’s Poetry: ‘Stars join to form chains, as man walks to the predestined guillotine’
Jackie stiffly flipped through the pages, and began reading the poetry he wrote after they had met.
Stephen’s Poetry: ‘You are the bonfire lit during winter, and the warmth from the core of a forge.’
At that time, Stephen had just joined the post office. Jackie had taught him the operations there; rather than having gotten close with him, Jackie had actually criticized him for his clumsiness... Thinking back to the past, Jackie could not help but laugh.
Jackie: Hmpf, what a crappy poet.
She flipped to the last page. The penmanship was increasingly messy. This had all been written after Jackie had rejected him...
Stephen’s Poetry: ‘I would prefer being burnt to ashes under your roaring flames,’
Stephen’s Poetry: ‘Ash reduced by fire was desperate to retain its shape, as I stand determined not to be shattered by your rejection...’
Jackie closed the book and threw it into the fire. Determined to disregard everything, she threw Stephen’s remaining earthly possessions into the furnace before noticing a letter stuck in the edge of the box. She roughly yanked down the letter, accidentally ripping its seal.
Jackie suddenly realized her own anger and compelled herself to calm down, before she noticed that the letter bore her name. Her metallic fingers stiffly opened the letter to find that it was unfinished. On the letter, there was simply a greeting and a short sentence.
Stephen: ‘Miss Jackie, please allow me to stay by your side...’
Jackie: I have already rejected you; yet, you still...
Jackie shook her head and threw the letter into the flames as well. The sight of the paper reduced to ashes reminded Jackie of that snowy night when her claws had done the same to Stephen —
Heisenberg: How are your limbs?
Jackie turned, showing her metallic arms to Heisenberg. Jackie, who was now being pursued by authorities after losing control of her powers, had sought Heisenberg’s help. He had not only allowed Jackie to hide in his laboratory, he even replaced her severely burnt arms with metallic ones.
Jackie: The coordination is a little off, but it still feels fine.
Heisenberg: Before the exterior covering arrives, I would like you to wait in the laboratory.
Jackie: Sorry; this must have taken much effort.
Heisenberg: I should be the one thanking you.
Heisenberg: If not for your help, I would not have been able to get the materials I needed to continue my research.
Jackie: Stop using this contraband; from tomorrow on, no one will “take care” of your mail.
Heisenberg: What do you have planned from here on out?
Jackie: I will stay for some time, first to find the murderer who had killed my friend.
Heisenberg: Before all this, let me first properly adjust your limbs.
Lilith the Alchemist: Darn it...Everything has been burnt!
Lilith was searching through the ruins, but could not find anything useful. She had just been out for a couple of days, but when she returned, her home had been burnt by an arsonist. It was rumored that there were Demons hiding in the city who had burnt everything. Yet, people treated such rumors as nonsense, deeming the fire as the work of an arsonist.
Lilith was still searching through the ruins, where she found a few objects that were unscathed in the fire. She stayed in the ruins until nightfall before she summoned a small rock monster. It pushed the collapsed furniture aside, revealing a hidden trapdoor on the ground.
Lilith had just entered the hidden chamber when a shadow leapt out from the ruins. It grabbed the doorframe with its metallic hand and pulled itself into the room, knocking over the surprised Lilith.^ Lilith waved her wand, summoning light, allowing her to see the sharp claws reach at her throat.
Jackie: Where is the Demon blood?
Tongues of fire spontaneously erupted around the room, not only revealing the many alchemy tools, but also igniting the notes that had been lying about. Lilith could not help but scream:
Lilith the Alchemist: Stop! You will kill us! It is in the third box of the wooden cabinet, behind the Kabbalah Dictionary!
Jackie snapped the alchemist's wand before stretching out her arm to remove the book; then, she broke into the hidden compartment, where light now shone onto the wall opposite. With her right claw, she pulled out a little bottle from the compartment. By now, the hidden chamber had fully ignited; Jackie threw the little bottle into the blaze —
Lilith the Alchemist: No—
Lilith the Alchemist: You have destroyed my treasure!
Jackie: That is why I have come! To destroy these things!
The Heartless Umpire: ‘Follow your own thoughts! That is a rare opportunity for the annihilation of Demons!’
The defeated Demons transformed into hellfire, and mixed itself with the flames blazing from Jackie’s body. Yet, Jackie did not notice. Thinking that the Demonic blood was destroyed, Jackie opened the trapdoor, throwing Lilith outside as she herself leapt into the air. Using a lamp post as a stepping stone, she agilely reached the roof.
She kept skipping through until she reached the garden of a grand mansion. At this time, snow slowly fell; once the flakes landed on her body, they seemed to assimilate with the metal that constituted her torso.
With each of Jackie’s leaps, the accumulated snow would fall. The heat of her body sliced through the snow like a hot knife would butter; snowflakes seemed to anticipate her presence, and melt before they even reached her. Although there was some distance between roofs, Jackie kept leaping across them —
Jackie in Childhood: ‘Since the destination is far, I would still have time to return to a right path, right?’
Jackie shook her head hard, throwing the memory to the back of her mind.