A nicely-dressed noble was passing through a narrow alley, with his leather shoes knocking the ground. A slave was following him barefoot, holding a large gift box above head. The slave was sweating buckets. The box was so heavy that his hands sometimes dropped, where he needed to exert his strength to lift it up again. While the noble was walking at ease, the slave strained to follow. It had been quite some way until the two arrived at the noble’s mansion. The noble stood in front of the gate, waiting for his slave to open it for him.
Suddenly, someone in black dashed to them. The stranger pushed the slave to the ground, snatched the box and vanished into the nearby trees. The noble and the slave immediately chased after the thief, but they could not find a sign at all. Strangely enough, the noble did not get angry. Instead, he smiled enigmatically.
The thief ran for a distance into an alley, and was ready to open the box after ensuring no one was in pursuit.
‘That noble is a treasure collector. The box is so heavy. There must be something valuable inside!’
However, the thief’s excitement evaporated upon the opening of the box — there was nothing but rocks!
What was worse was that loads of people appeared, blocking both ends of the alley. There was no way for the thief to escape. The noble slowly stepped out from the crowd.
‘Caught you! The criminal of the recent thefts of nobles’ treasures. You can’t run away. Surrender!’ The crowd closed in on the thief. The thief looked around, trying to find a way out. She noticed there were lots of stuff and boxes of different sizes in the alley, so she decided to make a bold move.
She lit up everything using a match. The alley was immediately wreathed in a pall of grey smoke. Everybody was choked that they lost their focus on the thief. She seized the opportunity to break away. Just as she was about to run out of the alley, someone stretched out a hand from the side to catch her. Though she calmly dodged away, her black mask was pulled off.
‘You… Cough cough! You’re Mammon?’
‘How unexpected! You’re a noble yourself… Aargh!’
Mammon did not allow him to finish his sentence. She kicked him away and ran to the street, where she opened a sewer grate and climbed down to the underground. She found her way home from memory and familiarity, as she always did in every case.
“I must go back home and run away with my parents before they get there…”
Mammon liked snatching the properties of other nobles. She did not aim to sell them, since money was obviously not a concern for her as a noble. It was all about excitement. She enjoyed stealing things and being chased as a thief. Obsessed by such excitement, she committed thefts one after another and became a wanted criminal in the city.
While she was about to arrive home, she heard commotion above her, and, her parents begging for mercy. She gingerly climbed up to the ground and hid behind a wall. As she poked her head out, she saw her parents being dragged out of the mansion by that noble, and forced to kneel down.
The gang slowly walked to Mammon’s parents and put knives to their throats as they shouted, ‘Mammon you thief! We have your parents! If you don’t want them to get hurt, just surrender!’
‘What do you think, Mammon? Do you wanna see them die?’
Mammon clenched her teeth and her fist, hesitating.
If she stood out, she would have to face a trial. She might be downgraded to a slave, or even worse. If not, she would have to witness her parents being slashed to death. Mammon did not have the heart to abandon her parents, so she decided to meet her fate. Just as she wanted to show up, an army of great many soldiers surrounded the scene. Someone slowly walked to Mammon’s parents. Mammon recognized that he was Baal — the Demon prince.
‘Lord, lord Baal! May I ask what is going on?’ The noble asked in panic.
‘To catch the criminals. A considerable amount of treasures were found in you and your friends’ houses. Quite many of them are other nobles’ lost properties. You are the thieves, and now you are looking for scapegoats?’
‘No, we are not… Oh, I know! You are fitting us up because we oppose your proposal. Humph! If Lord Belial is here...’
The noble was not allowed to finish his defense, as he was knocked unconscious on the ground by Baal’s powerful punch. Baal glared at another noble and sternly said, ‘you don’t dare to admit what you did… What a gang rogues!’
Witnessing their leader’s experience, the other nobles were too frightened to say a word. All of them were taken, while Mammon’s parents were untied. Baal gave them a pat on the shoulder and said smilingly to the bystanders, ‘it was a mistake. Now we have brought the true criminals to justice. You don’t have to worry anymore!’
Everyone clapped and cheered for Baal, calling his name. Baal smiled at Mammon — he had long known her hiding — before he turned to leave.
A few days later, Baal came to Mammon again. He brought her to a garden where there was no one else.
‘You… Why did you help my parents and me?’
‘I want to know why you stole treasures from the nobles.’
‘I feel excited to see them losing important things, and to keep worrying myself about being caught.’
‘Haha… Great! Desire drives one ahead. But, are you really satisfied with all these?’
‘Well…’ Mammon was tongue-tied, as Baal read her deepest thoughts.
‘Far from here, there is another world. A world full of unknown wonders.’
Baal took out a sphere. It suddenly shone brightly and projected inside forests, rivers and glittery stones. Mammon was fascinated by the images. She reached out for the stones, but the radiance dispersed. The view before her eyes returned to normal.
‘What is this?’
‘A whole new world. Only there can you find what you truly want. I can assign you to go there as one of the “Pioneers”, but you need to do something for me — to tackle Belial.’
‘I don’t have to obey your commands if I’m far away from you.’
‘Never mind. When you are not here, I can take care of your parents for you.’ Baal said with a smile. Mammon understood what he meant. She responded with a smile too, but a bitter one. She knew that she did not have a choice.
‘What can I get after the mission?’
‘All treasures you find there belong to you. Deal?’
The two shook hands and smiled at each other, but both of them were harboring thoughts of other plans...