"Claudia, stay strong. You will live tonight," the old man said as his daughter shook her head, trying her best to hold on to her baby.
The old man's tears escaped from his eyes then it soon fell on his daughter's tired face. She had given birth at their home since they were too poor to afford assistance in a hospital. They wouldn't also want to be in too much debt that's why they decided to have the baby at home.
The old man felt rage when he remembered how the man left his daughter upon knowing that he got her pregnant. But what broke his heart more was that he couldn't do anything to help his daughter.
After a few minutes of silence, Claudia spoke to her father again, with her coarse, tired voice.
"Please raise my child well. I want to let her have a bright future. Surely, father, you can do something for her. I'm..."
Claudia coughed, making her loosen her hold on the baby. Instinctively, her father, Gladios, carried the baby as Claudia tried her best to open her eyes to look at her father one last time.
"I'm losing my strength. I love you, father. Forgive me for giving you a burden."
Gladios shook his head as he cried, feeling desperate on how to make his dying daughter feel at ease.
"Claudia, I'm sorry. I couldn't do anything for you. I—"
Claudia didn't let him finish. With her last strength, she held her father's cheek then weakly smiled.
"I'm sorry, father... but this is my last favor. Take care of her. She is my only child and it pains me that I will leave her soon," she said then Gladios looked at his grandchild then nodded.
"I'll do everything I can for the child, I promise," he said at last then with that given promise, Claudia forced a smile, giving her last words before she permanently closed her eyes.
"Thank you, father. I love you... and my child."
Gladios frowned. "Claudia?"
He checked his daughter's pulse and when there was nothing, he cried and embraced his grandchild.
"I promise. I'll protect your child with my life."
Gladios looked at his grandchild and wrapped her with cloth. He was too focused with his dying daughter, without even noticing what's wrong with the baby. When he looked at the baby for a long time, he noticed that the baby wasn't moving or even crying.
Panicked, Gladios' shaking hands carried the infant then he carefully put his ear against the baby's small, frail body. Her heartbeat was faint and she was barely even breathing.
"Oh no... no, no, no..."
The poor old man's voice broke as he grew worried by the second for his granddaughter's life. He already lost Claudia... he couldn't afford to lose this precious baby's life, after he promised his daughter to raise her.
As Gladios stood up to look for a hospital, he stood frozen on the ground, surprised to see another presence in their small old house.
A handsome man with black hair and purple eyes stood before Gladios' daughter. He was wearing black clothing as well, with white outlines on every edge of his clothes. The old man stood stunned, as he watched what the mysterious man was doing in front of him.
The man knelt down on one knee as he slowly carried Claudia's body. With his free right hand, he gently parted Claudia's lips making a white "shadow" come out, then it entered the mysterious man's mouth. Once he was done, he put the dead body down, then looked at it indifferently.
The old man suddenly got the courage to speak after witnessing what the mysterious man did to Claudia.
"What did you do to my daughter," he said, as he struggled to keep his knees firm from fear.
Upon hearing the old man's voice, the mysterious man looked at him, his eyes slightly showing a bit of surprise.
"You... can see me," he asked and Gladios felt something chilly in the atmosphere. It was as if winter came early.
"Wh-what did you do to my daughter," the old man asked again then the mysterious man looked at him intimidatingly.
"I just ate your daughter's soul. In other words, I eat souls to satisfy my hunger," he answered and Gladios felt threatened.
"A-are you going to take ours as well," the old man asked and the mysterious man gave him a smirk.
"Please... taking the souls of others forcefully is no longer my thing," the mysterious man reacted then he noticed the old man carrying an infant in his arms. "That baby is... getting weaker."
When he made this remark, Gladios suddenly remembered about his granddaughter. Knowing that he was in front of a being with unfathomable magic powers, he felt desperate to ask him for help.
The old man took the courage to speak to the mysterious man in front of him. "Please, I beg of you... do anything to save her."
The man raised an eyebrow as he walked slowly towards the old man, intimidating him.
"Are you seriously seeking help from me, a person who eats souls?"
Gladios' eyes began to water as he remembered his promise to his daughter. "I don't know what else to do. I promised my daughter that I'd raise her child. I can't fail her now that she's given up her life just for my grandchild!"
"Oh... is that so?"
The mysterious man's voice seemed indifferent, which made the old man desperate.
"Please, I beg of you... save my granddaughter!"
The soul eater circled them as he spoke.
"Sure, I would... but I have conditions."
Upon hearing this, the old man's face lit up.
"Yes! I'd do anything for you. Just save the child!"
"Okay then," the soul eater said as he nodded. "I'll give you the wealth to raise this child as long as you both work for me," he added then the old man nodded, feeling relieved.
"Of course, of course! We promise to pay you back," Gladios said and when the soul eater heard this, he scoffed.
"Is your old age really hindering your hearing? I said I have conditions."
The old man frowned, feeling confused. "What are the other conditions?"
When the soul eater heard this, he gave off an eerie vibe, making all the leaves present around them fly in the air as he spoke.
"When the time comes on the day of your death, you are to offer your soul to me," he said, making the old man nod slowly.
"As you wish."
The soul eater raised his finger, continuing to speak. "Your granddaughter will work for me even without your presence," he added then he slowly placed his hand on the child. "Until it is time for me to take her soul."
The old man's eyes reddened as he heard the last condition. "What? You're... going to take her life away?"
The soul eater retracted his hand from the infant and his face now looked expressionless as he stared at the old man.
"Hurry... she only has eight minutes to live."
When Gladios heard this, he looked at his granddaughter, then back at the soul eater in front of him. He was then again reminded of the promise he said to his daughter about saving her child.
"We are at your mercy."
When it was decided, the soul eater smirked as he placed his hand on the baby, emanating a magical aura from his hand, saving Claudia's daughter's life.
The old man had no other choice... but to place their souls in this mysterious man's hands.