A Promise Between Worlds

[WARNING: MANGA SPOILERS FOR THE PROMISED NEVERLAND, AS WELL AS SEVERAL OTHER SPOILERS FOR ALL OTHER ANIME AND/OR MANGA. READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION].

Chapter 1: The Promised Wish

A wonderful and ruthless world, divided by a one-thousand-year-old promise.

A thousand years ago, there was a war between Humanity and "Demons." The Demons hunted humans in order to eat, and the humans retaliated in order to survive. One day, a deal was offered by a human to put an end to the war, to spare humanity of any more deaths. This deal was to forge a promise; that the Demons will no longer hunt humans, in exchange for a newly constructed system that guarantees the resuming consumption of the Demons only food source - a series of farms producing human children as livestock.

Since the Promise, humanity and the Demons had long ended their war with each other. Their treaty of peace held together by the blissful ignorance of the imprisoned "cattle children," raised to be eaten as the sacrificial lambs to ensure the security for those outside the Demon society, and some within it. The cattle children are born in an unassuming environment of a loving orphanage, where they are preciously cared for until the inevitable time comes when one or more of the children are "adopted."

It was known to those who manufactured these facilities, and to the foster guardians of these orphanages – the Mamas, that all of the children who were adopted and escorted away, were killed, preserved, and shipped as human meat for the Demons to procure. Their young hearts pierced with the devastation of despair, and the sharp stem of a vampire flower that drains then blooms the blood of these victims; a sacrificial offering that asks for the blessing of their Demon God.

This was the cruel reality of their situation, as it was discovered before "adoption" (shipping date) by certain cattle children, including three of the smartest children of Gracefield Orphanage. The wretched truth about their home; a plantation, a farm. Horrified, they sought an alternative, the only other option that spares them from their fate.

Escape.

But Emma refused to leave her family behind.

Though it would have been logical to save only themselves; in fewer numbers thus a greater chance of survival, Emma did not wish to abandon the rest of her younger siblings. She was determined to have all of them escape, and to a place where no child is slaughtered and eaten by the Demons. But reality was a constant, cruel enemy of theirs, as was their façade of a kind mother: Isabella, and the many obstacles that threatened to sink their spirits into the bottomless ocean of despair, anguish cementing their feet, pulling them away from ever reaching the surface towards freedom.

However, no matter the impossibility of their situation, no matter the likely scenario that there may not be a society that will accept them, or anywhere that is a safe haven for the lost children of the Promised Neverland, they must either defy the system or accept their fate. And so, they chose to defy it.

But no such action, to achieve the future of a world they wanted, comes without knowing defeat. It was a loss that will forever embed the hearts and minds of the cattle children. That despite their clever efforts and attempted deceits, they had lost yet another member of their family. Emma and her family suffered silently in grief, but their dispirited attitude was a false act to trick Isabella, in order for her to suspect the seemingly unsuspecting, while another plan unraveled outside her focus, and initiated before it was realized.

However, because of the loss of another part of their family - of losing Norman, they had to grimly accept the situation. Emma wanted all of her family to escape, but not every one of them could do so all at once. The world beyond the gate was an unknown place, where danger awaits, lived by the Demons. The youngest members of Emma's family, the infants and toddlers, their safety was not guaranteed, not while they are small and unable to help themselves. Although the oldest children had fled, they could not bring their entire family with them. The littlest ones had to stay behind.

But they were not abandoned. One day, the escaped children of Gracefield Orphanage will return for the rest of their family. One day, they will all leave this society of Demons. A promise Emma intended to keep.

And so they fled. Emma, Ray, Gilda, Don, and the rest of the older children of Gracefield venture into the wilds only the Demons would be familiar with, met with life-threatening situations and enemies, yet also allies. Their unseen guidance - William Minerva, whom the children only know of through books, a pair of friendly demons who do not eat cattle children, a human man who was also a cattle child and refuses to give his name, and many other cattle children who have discovered the terrible truth of this world, and encountering their greatest obstacle. Demons.

Their human strength against powerful foes, they must not only rely on exceptional strategies but strength in numbers as well, all in order to defeat their man-eating hunters. The cattle children will stand against the Demons. After a thousand years, the battle between humans and Demons ignited once more. This is where everything will unravel.

In Goldy Pond.

/.\

It was supposed to be a sanctuary. A place where many of the escaped cattle children may find the gateway to the Human World, a world without Demons, without fear of being eaten. But there was also the choice to remain here, in this secluded villa. A safe haven for the cattle children. Away from Demons and those who mean them harm.

This was Goldy Pond.

Now, it is a hunting ground for Demons to lavish in the thrill of chasing and killing cattle children.

The gateway to the Human World was destroyed. A traitor had exposed this villa, and the Demons have claimed it since. A private game in order to relive the glory days of the war against the humans before the Promise was made. Cattle children were brought here, involved in an event for survival. They must run and fight to avoid being slain and devoured. It was a sport for the Demons.

The cattle children who survived this horrible place had united under the leadership of a cattle child who lived to adulthood, promising vengeance against the Demons. For he too was a victim like them, for he too had watched his family be killed before his eyes. Their plan came to unfold when Emma was brought to Goldy Pond, captured and a new hunting target for the poachers.

Along with her efforts, the surviving cattle children eagerly prepared their retaliation against the Demons, to put an end to the existence of Goldy Pond. The prey biting back their most feared predators. The children of Goldy Pond unleashed their attacks. They must eradicate this place of endless tragedy, death, and sorrow. They must kill the Demons of Goldy Pond, or they will all perish.

"KEEP FIRING!"

At the center of the ruined villa that echoed endless gun shots, stood one Demon. The rest of the poachers have perished. Heavy injuries were sustained and sent several children out of commission. All that remained is this one, last Demon, the most dangerous enemy yet. Lewis.

So long as he was alive, none of them are safe, none of them will live. It was not a matter of a personal vendetta that Lewis felt towards the children, for his slain comrades whom he knew for years. There was no such grief in him, and his sympathies were only minor. He lived for the hunt, the ecstasy of fighting a worthy opponent. He would offer guns and even the secret of the Demons weakness for the excitement of it all.

To see who is the strongest, and either emerge in triumph or lay in defeat. It was an exhilaration for Lewis, and that is what made him the deadliest from the rest.

His regeneration was slow due to his old age, it was the only sort of advantage the cattle children held in order to defeat this demon before they inflict a killing blow into his eye. His white mask, tougher than any stone, was destroyed, his exposed weak spot barely protected by his three-finger claws. They only need one shot, Emma and her companions need only that one infliction, and then the terror of Goldy Pond would finally end.

But even as a hundred bullets attacked his body while his senses were clouded from an ignited flash grenade-bullet, he was smiling as a creature indulging what he had not indulged for a thousand years, a true life-or-death confrontation, a battle between natural-born hunters. This feeling of urgency, his life dwindling with every bullet, the inside of his head was swirling, and the pain was unbearable. It was absolutely wonderful.

It was stomach-turning for Emma that he actually takes enjoyment of this. She had seen the results of Lewis's evil deeds, his pleasure to experience a thrilling kill. Taking the lives of children and letting go of those he deemed to have potential; that they may one day give him a true fight and not some meager hunt against a helpless prey. He had seen this potential in Emma and wished to drive out the killer instinct from the girl. Emma had accepted his challenge, out of anger for the children he has killed, calling her out by slaughtering the family orphan members of the little boy she had befriended here.

Yet even for her hatred over his actions, she still questioned if fighting was really their only option. For her willingness to kill him, she wondered if the death of either one of them was what should really settle this. Emma understood the cruel nature of Lewis, but she also realized that he was a sentient being with thoughts and emotions like herself, that all of the Demons were indeed sentient beings, not like the Wild Demons.

Angry as she was, unforgiving as she was for what he has done, she was not so willing to match the same pleasure of killing as Lewis. She was not without reason. Not without the courage to speak out and profess a better solution, no matter the low probability of it. It was often seen as naïve, it was the logic of this child fueled by a willingness to have compassion most of the world did not have.

It was commendable, and far too beautiful to ever truly occur in a world such as this, this is what Lewis responded. There was no negotiating, he held no other desire but for them to fight each other to the death.

And so they fought.

With the arrival of reinforcements – Ray, the nameless man, and a few others – Emma supported her companions with a steady clutch of her rifle, shooting at their tremendously strong hunter. This was for their fallen friends and family, and for all others who fell victim to this hunting grounds. Together, they unleashed their anger and anguish, crying out a thousand bullets.

It was a fleeting moment of empowerment.

"EMMA!"

There were several reasons for what made Lewis terrifying, but his most infamous trait: his inexplicable speed. Able to catch bullets with ease if left unexhausted, and the ability to somehow be in one place before suddenly appearing in another, as if teleportation. An unknown power only the Demons were capable of achieving, those who have lived and fought long before the Promise. It was with this power, that in an instant, Lewis appeared from behind with his sword-like claws.

"Huh?"

It was done before it was realized. The strange burning clutch around Emma's waist, the sharp ends of two weapons that suddenly popped out from her abdomen. The blood, the immediate hurting. Her mind registered what had happened within a few seconds.

She had been stabbed.

"What a shame." So pitied the demon behind her. "But you were a wonderful hunt. I will never forget you."

He withdrew his weapons, allowing Emma to slip out from his lanky yet undeniably sturdy claw-fingers, coated in her blood. Her body slumped against the ground. Unresponsive, her life slowly bled away. Not even the screams of her comrades stirred her. Not the pain, not the increasing darkness clouding her consciousness. The voices and the world around her distances itself, farther and farther away.

Then everything faded until there was nothing but silence.

/.\

"Ah. So that's it then. That's all you're going to give?"

It was dark. Her body felt cold. Her wounds were agonizing, but there was no energy to scream.

"You still have some life in you left. Not for much longer though..."

An echo surrounds her. An unknown voice, along with several others that resonated into her soul. The screams of the children who were killed by the Demons. The grief and despair of those who have lost their loved ones. Visions of the past she did not personally experience flooded her mind; of the victims whose lives were ended so swiftly.

Their dreams, hopes, wishes, and fears were irrelevant. Their pleas for their lives and tears for others were ignored, by this vicious world that saw them only as food, and nothing more.

I cannot accept that...

She resisted the temptation of eternal sleep. She urged herself to wake, but although her spirit was defiant, her body did not move.

Everyone... is waiting for me. My family...

Her spirit started to sink, into the black abyss separate from the world of the living.

No. No! I still have so much to do! I don't want to die! I can't die yet!

The little girl did not want to give in. Her friends were still in battle against Lewis. Her family was waiting for her at the underground shelter. Phil is expecting her return, to rescue him and the rest of the orphans from the farms, from their lie of a happy home and impending doom. So much has been done and lost to get her this far, she cannot allow it all to be in vain!

"You really do have a strong will..."

A familiar hand grasped onto hers. A kind smile of a boy with white hair and a single large curled strand, the boy who had been taken from her and her family.

Norman?

Was this a dream? An illusion of the dying? A glimpse of the afterlife? Regardless of the answer, her heart cried out a saddened joy at the sight of her lost friend.

I... I have to go back...

Norman nodded, an absolute understanding and faith in his eyes. He released her hand and ushered her to follow.

"I'll tell you what." The voice of the abyss continues to speak, though it was questionable if Emma could comprehend anything that's happening to her at this moment. "If you could do one thing for me, I'll give you a chance to save your family and friends. I'll give you a chance to have anything you desire. All you have to do..."

She was led back to the surface. Another hand dipped in for her, and she reached out for it.

"Is stand up."

Mama? It was Isabella pulling her out, the very first enemy that threatened her family, a worker of the demons for her own survival at the expense of raising and shipping away from the children she had lovingly raised - cultivated. But there was no madness in the woman's eyes now. They were encouraging, genuine love from her warm expression. It was as if the mother Emma knew for so long had returned, the mother Emma had secretly longed for again before the horrid truth was known. The gleaming source of comfort and support.

"That's right. Don't give up, Emma."

Because in truth, Isabella was once like them. She had been a cattle child who chose survival over being food, even if it means pushing others to their own deaths, even if it means letting the children she genuinely loved to be killed. This was the path most if not all have chosen, those who wanted to live rather than die so young. Because there was no other choice that did not mean their end, there was no hope of rebuking the system, to change society with what little to no power they had, and so they surrendered their will and abandoned their compassion for their fellow victims, in order to be the humans the demons couldn't eat.

But the night that the children escaped Isabella, the night they escaped Gracefield, was when it was realized that acceptance was not their only option, and that Emma and her family would struggle incessantly to find a world where they can truly live happily. Not a place where others desperately claw their way towards survival and kick aside those who sought the same. Where nothing but tears flow to exclaim the broken hearts of the slaughtered innocents, young and powerless. Where they live to be eaten.

Enough was enough. No more sadness. No more sacrifices. No more tragedies.

"So you're not done after all?"

No. She wasn't. Because...

I still haven't achieved the future that I've wanted!

Her body was heavy with pain and blood loss, yet she stood up regardless of her condition. By her will alone, she had returned from death's void. For the sake of her family, for every cattle child, she will challenge the cruelty of the Demon World, and march on towards their freedom - to the Human World!

Regarded with shock and awe by all, Emma could not muster the strength to speak to her allies, putting forth all of her efforts simply to stand. Her hand clutching the four-barrel pistol of unique properties. She must tell them, she must convey it somehow. Their only hope of defeating Lewis lies within this pistol, but she cannot do it alone. She must have everyone's contribution to ensure this particular bullet will go through without fail.

"SURROUND HIM! THIS IS OUR LAST CHANCE! KEEP SHOOTING!"

Ray...

Ray's command stirred the cattle children out of their stupor and resumed firing their weapons at Lewis. Emma wishes she could thank him. He understood her intentions without having to hear it directly from her. He, out of everyone else aside from Norman, would know her heart and goal without hesitation or doubt.

How wondrously he has changed since escaping Gracefield; the cynical boy who had known the truth of this world since birth, the boy who had helplessly watched his fellow orphans - brothers and sisters, be shipped away to their demise, the boy who wanted for Norman and Emma's survival to a point where he would sacrifice himself in order for them to escape, a spy for Mama so to benefit his two closest friends and family, the very boy who had no faith of escaping with the other children because it was impossible. How far he has come from being that persona of nihilism, into a person who has devoted his life to keeping everyone around him safe, and himself alive for their sake.

Bullets enveloped Lewis's form, yet Lewis's disturbingly incredible reflexes will no doubt help him catch and deflect these bullets. Not one will he allow to pass and hit his eye. Emma's teeth clenched, the bitter taste of her own blood. This was her chance, her very last. If she does not do it now, the lives of her friends will be in danger. Everyone will die by the hands of Lewis.

Raising her four-barrel pistol, she aimed for Lewis's head and pulled the trigger.

A single bullet was fired. A bullet different from the rest design-wise. Lewis, in the midst of deflecting from the other hundreds of piercing attacks, noticed too late this odd bullet and watched as it suddenly split apart into pieces before he could knock it aside, a flash ignited from within it.

The Demon was blinded. Without his sight, he could no longer keep track of anything being fired at him. He can no longer deflect anything with precision.

This is his defeat.

"Oh, how I love humans..." The demon congratulated.

Bullets tore his body apart, shredding his clothing and flesh. His regeneration ability had all dried up. He was pinned by the onslaught, there was nothing he could do to escape, nor to survive. This is his end, and he was content. Nothing but satisfaction and pride for the humans who have finally fought back.

The final bullet came, fired by the nameless man whose family this Demon had killed over a decade ago, rendering the man an insufferable life of loneliness and survival guilt. A bullet laced with years of despair, and memories of the dead; it destroyed Lewis' eye in a single shot. A long life of vigor and treasuring experiences flashed across Lewis's mind, and he fell with a smile.

The cattle children have won.

"We did it...?" One child whispered. "Lewis... We beat him... We beat him...!"

The children gaze over his corpse, confirming their kill. Their victory. "WE DID IT! WE DID IT! FREEDOM!"

Emma smiled at the sound of the cheer. The children of Goldy Pond, the grieving members who have lived here in fear and anguish, are finally freed from their nightmare. "It's over... We did it, everyone..."

But there was still much to do. They must get Pepe's wounds treated, and they must find the other children who were unable to come here. Were they alive? Were they in trouble? She has to find them, she has to...

Her thoughts trailed as her vision clouded, and her consciousness faded before she felt the ground.

"Emma!" She could barely register Ray's shouting, the screaming of her name from her friends. "Emma! Wake up! EMMA!"

She no longer had the strength to keep her eyes open, the panicked voices of her friends were growing distant once more. She had no energy to think, to hear her surroundings, or to feel the hug and desperate attempt waking her from her friend Ray. She had given her all.

Darkness returns to her once more.

/.\

"Looks like you're qualified after all."

Emma's eyes snapped open, gasping at her sudden wake. "Huh?"

She lay on her back, a starless night sky before her eyes, sunlight glow from a distance. Slowly, she sat up. The pain in her body has vanished, along with her exhaustion. Had she fallen asleep? No... Something was strange, very strange. A cold prickle touched her palms and she looked down. A ripple formed around her hand like it touched the water. The floor was pitch black, reflecting her image as if looking down on a mirror.

Where... am I? Where were Ray and the others? She glanced back at the sky and turned her gaze towards the source of light. "Wha-!?"

Shining brightly at the end of the sky was the sun, yet it did not reflect bright colors onto the dark sky. She was upon a black land, her surroundings devoid of any person or building. No sign of her friends, the corpse of Lewis, or any remnant of Goldy Pond. She was in a different place entirely, a place that seems to defy the laws of reality.

A place of night and day.

A shadow flew over her figure. A pale four-legged creature with reptilian features and thick scales, massive wings expanded from its back, and a single large eye at the center of its head, staring down at Emma who gaped at its existence.

A... A dragon...? Emma's heart pounded in fright. The sight of Demons could not have prepared her for this. A creature right out of storybooks. Her round green eyes full of fear and awe.

"It's nice to meet you, Emma."

Emma spun around. The speaker who echoed his greeting to her stood not too far away - no, not standing, he was floating.

A demon!?

He had the appearance of one, with a stone white mask and horns on its side. A big round eye at the center of his face. Emma was surprised but realized that the demon did not emit an air of hostility, nor was he attacking outright. He floated with his legs crossed, a body like that of a child, wearing intricate clothing that seemed ancient design-wise. Glowing orbs fly around the small demon; were they sentient? Or was it this demon who's controlling them?

The dragon settled down beside the child-size demon, folding its wings to a close. "I would have expected for us to meet somewhere else... but you've proved to be very promising. I might just choose you after all."

Choose? Emma did not understand the vague statement, only raises more questions, but before that, she must confirm the well-being of her friends. "What happened to everyone else?"

She examined her contradicting surroundings, "Where... is this place?"

"Your friends are alive and safe, now that you've defeated Lewis and the others," The child demon answered. "I was really impressed that all of you managed to pull it off. You've even surprised Lewis. I can tell you how satisfied he was, and congratulates all of your efforts."

Emma wasn't sure how to take that. It was strange and upsetting to hear, for someone to feel happy to have been killed. The glowing orbs circled around the child demon's fingertips, "As for this place... Here, there is nothing, yet there is everything. The entrance isn't anywhere, yet the entrance is everywhere."

An absurd answer for an absurd place. Wait... Emma regarded everything once more. A place that has both day and night... This was in the files!

When Emma and Lukas - the surviving friend of the Nameless man, unlocked a hidden base underneath Goldy Pond, where they found a literal pond filled with strange golden liquid; it was there that they not only discovered the broken pathway to the Human World, but more information left behind their distant guide man William Minerva - or rather, James Ratri.

The author of the adventure books Gracefield House had a collection of; under the guise of a typical book series, his stories were in actuality a guide throughout the Demon World for the cattle children. James Ratri was, in fact, a man whose family had forged the Promise with the Demons one thousand years ago. For every generation since the Promise, there was to be a descendant of the Ratri family who will act as a mediator between the Demon World and the Human World, to ensure that the promise is upheld.

However, James could no longer accept this and sought to offer the cattle children a chance to decide their own fate as he could not personally intervene, nor help them all himself. So he did what he could without getting caught.

It was because of James that Emma and her family were able to achieve as much as they did from reading his hidden messages, and the use of a special pen that was a key for the underground shelter of B06-32, and the base underneath Goldy Pond, where the recorded will of their distant guide man was discovered - the last message of James Ratri.

According to the message, James built Goldy Pond to be another safe shelter for the escaped cattle children, but after suffering a betrayal from his closest comrade, the existence of Goldy Pond and James's secret revolt against the Farming System was exposed. To have found that last recording, James Ratri was more than likely already dead, and the gateway he had forged for the children to use and enter the Human World was no longer usable. All of his efforts to have at least some of the cattle children saved, utterly crumbled and brought to ruin.

But not all hope was lost, in his last message, James suggested there to be three other options for the cattle children to choose from; the first option is the search for the "other" paths to the Human World, the second option is to break the Promise and rage war against the Demons, the third option was to "Search for the Seven Walls," a most cryptic suggestion, yet Emma knew that there was an immense importance to it, and after accessing another data chip, she was able to understand completely.

But to search for the Seven Walls, she was to follow the directions encrypted within the files; to find "the place of night and day."

This... This must be that place... Emma observed, she returns her focus to the demon child, Then... this demon... could he be...?

Could this demon be what James wanted her to look for? The very demon whom all the other demons worship? The demon whose name was not of human language, but one casually said by Sister Krone when she wanted to see if Emma and Norman found it familiar if they were aware of who this name belongs to. Is this demon Him? Is he-

"Are you-!?"

Are you The One who the demons pray to?

"So, what's your answer?"

The sudden question had Emma stuttered, "W-what?"

"Do you want to fight for that chance to save your family?"

She stared, and then a steady comprehension dawns her expression. "It was your voice. It was you I heard after I was stabbed."

The bet of her resilience to stand up.

"Good to know you remember," the child Demon said. "Yeah, it was me. I wanted to see if you could pull through, and now that you have, you're qualified alright."

"Qualified for what?" Emma asked, feeling her sides. It was a shock to her that she cannot feel the impaling wounds she received from Lewis. Did this demon heal her? Or was all this a dream? It all seemed fairly real, even for the unreal scenery she was in the middle of.

"To participate in a competition for a wish."

Her look of absolute bemusement, the child demon elaborated. "Let me explain, starting from the beginning..."

Beyond space, time, and reality, a contest between people from several worlds is in the making. There are infinite worlds beyond this one, worlds of its own history, laws, individuals, and even Gods. Each of these worlds is set in its own universe, with its own set of rules and lore.

However, every once in a while, the barrier that has kept these worlds separated would be weakened, and a contest is formulated between the different dimensions, in between the realities. This contest is a competition of skills, intelligence, will, and power. Of people with a wide range of abilities, and reason to fight.

And the prize for whoever wins this competition; a wish powerful enough to change the world, to have anyone's one desire be granted.

"But in order to claim that wish, you will have to overcome multiple obstacles, survive them, and uphold the criteria required for you to remain in the competition."

The incredible tale left Emma in complete bafflement, "A wish... I can wish for anything?"

"Anything you want. You can use it to save your family. Maybe you would want to save all the other children also."

Emma gawked at his knowledge of her desire.

"Or maybe you would want to destroy the Demon World, or both the Demon and the Human world. How about that?"

A casual remark that left her stunned. Emma rejected the suggestion with a quick shake of her head and hands, "N-no! I don't want that at all!"

"Well, it's up to you anyhow. But you get the idea, right? How powerful this wish is. It could alter or erase reality in an instant. The only set-back is that it can't affect every other world all at once, one wish only has enough power to change at least one world, one universe by extension. In your case though, I'm sure whatever you want, it'll be enough for the wish to grant."

The child demon gently grabs one of the glowing orbs, "You must have intended to look for me, what you wished to do after finding me. I hope that you're aware that whatever you would have asked of me, I expect something in return, but if you decided to partake in this competition and use the wish, then there won't be any need for me to give what you desire. So, what's your answer?"

For a moment, Emma did not know what to say. Her mind wrapped in utter amazement. There was no questioning if what this demon says is true, for why would he make such an outlandish lie? Taking his words with the utmost severity, she considered all her other options.

The gateway to the Human World was closed, the other "paths" that are known were still very much unclear, a far too risky option, and too early for that matter. She must see if there is a secure way to reach the world without Demons, and it is as this child demon had said, what was mentioned in the files she's read; that third option.

To Reforge the Promise.

But if this wish could help her without having to sacrifice anything, without having to instigate a war between Humanity and Demons once more, then-!

"One more thing..."

The child demon spoke.

"If you decide to enter this competition, then you should know this beforehand. There are plenty of ways to win, just as there are plenty of ways to lose. One of the ways that you could lose is by getting killed. Don't worry though. If you end up dying in this competition, you won't actually die in your world."

"Huh?"

The demon child released the glowing orb, allowing it to float around his palm. "Your mind is what will be transferred to this competition. You will still be able to experience things like hunger, tiredness, and pain as well, but your actual body will remain where you left it. So if you happen to perish or lose in this competition, your soul will return to your dimension and back into your body."

He paused for a brief moment, "Well, there's a fifty-fifty percent chance that you might survive at all in the condition you're in at your reality. But that also depends on you, and how much you are willing to fight to stay alive, regardless if you win or lose."

So her wounds were that severe after all. Emma pondered, "...How long will this competition last? Are there rounds?"

"There are, but I can't say how long it'll be or how many there are. Each round varies from hunting the most dangerous creature to a battle of wits, and etcetera. All the previous competition, though, haven't lasted beyond a year," the child demon answered. "Of course, time is irrelevant. Even if you spend more than a year in this contest, by the time you return to your reality, nothing much will have changed. A year participating would be like the passing of a minute in your world."

A competition beyond reality, space, and time. How astonishing. Overwhelming, and a little cool too.

"Which is why even if you win or lose, your fight hasn't ended yet. At the very least, you won't have to worry about your wounds once you register yourself. Any ailments or injuries you may be suffering from in your world will be cleared once you enter the competition."

Emma considered for another minute, various questions in mind and asking each of them. "...So there's going to be a lot of people competing? Are they... humans like me? Will there be Demons participating as well?"

"Humans. Demons. And more. Some of them have their reasons. Some of them may not have any. But for a lot of them, they are very powerful," the child demon said, his single-eye peering at the little girl.

"So powerful, in fact, I wonder if you would make it that far at all? You might end up dying in the most painful way possible, or so instantaneous that you won't realize what just happened. This competition won't be kind to anyone, and it'll only grow more difficult as time goes by. Knowing all that, would you even-?"

The child demon stopped at the expression of Emma, and chuckled again. "I suppose that's not enough to waver you in the slightest. My, my, you truly are an interesting human."

There was no hesitation in Emma's eyes. In truth, she had been afraid that if she accepted this opportunity, she would have to be gone for too long, but knowing now that it may not be that long for her family to wait for her, she was at better ease. There were other questions she has, but there were only a few things she was certain of. If she could save her family and all the other children, all the humans trapped in the Demon world, she will put her heart, body, and soul into reaching that goal.

No matter what challenge awaits her, she will not shy away from it, and with her life uncertain back in her reality, she would rather not want anyone to struggle or suffer while waiting for her likely or unlikely recovery. I have to take this chance...

"It looks like I have your answer," the child demon raises one finger, pointing at her. "Then I'll be sending you right on your way. Good luck, and remember this Emma..."

One of the glowing orbs floated towards her, steadily approaching as Emma curiously studied the peculiar thing. Slowly, her vision was clouded in a glowing white. The urge to step away bit at her, but she restrained herself, embracing the painless light.

"You should not subjugate yourself to only your understanding of your world. Having a perspective is pointless compared to the truth that exists outside our minds. But if you want to enforce your truth into reality, know that yours is only one out of countless others. Sometimes there's not much room for a compromise, it's always been a competition between ideals."

Just as she was beginning to understand her own world, it was left behind within an instant.