After the progress of chapters slowed to a halt, Ken decided to stop writing at one point, being too busy about other things. During this time, I made an effort to develop some of the other characters, namely Lenin and Grave. But mostly just Grave, seeing as he was the only other Chemosh that didn't try to kill Sai and Ken. And the closest one in relation to them.
Since I doubt anyone else is ever gonna read this anyway, I'd like to say that it was an interesting experience to write all this down. I've seen how important a collaborator is as well. There are always times when I would feel too tired to bother and then Ken comes up with something new and I feel driven to match his work. That happens a lot after the first few chapters. Taking the lead halfway to the finish, I noticed how difficult it is to lead someone else at my pace.
I realize now that much of what happens here doesn't make sense. We agreed that we'd clear things up as we went on but we ended up just making it worse. I also learned that 1st person perspective suffers the development of every other character. The personal opinions of Sai or Ken are not enough to draw out the essence of others. They're always biased that way. An omniscient and omnipresent 3rd person in the form of a narrator is truly necessary. I tried this in the last 2 chapters and I think it worked out pretty well.
Well, if you're reading this and you're not me or Ken, you have my gratitude for putting up with all this and hope you enjoyed the ramblings of a lonely and unstable mind. Now go share this with other people so it can go viral or something.
- Current Mood:accomplished
What does one hope to achieve when all one knows is mediocrity and tedium? Isn't the fear of being in such a situation enough to encourage one to go about and do different things? No matter how small or how insignificant. Little things eventually build up into something monumental. Something as simple as waking up just a bit earlier each day or not waking up at all; spending time outdoors and actually using your whole body or shutting yourself in your room; telling people that you love them or acting indifferent all your life. There is no good or bad, nor are there only two extremes. This is a world of infinite possibilities. Possibilities that we must work for. So what will you do differently today?
"Did you find whatever it was you were looking for?" asked Sai's female companion.
"No. I didn't know what it was anyway..." replied Sai as he took his last step off the stairs.
"Well, if there's nothing else..." the girl muttered as she motioned for Sai to follow behind the staircase. She revealed a false wall which gave way to yet another staircase, this one heading down to what seemed like a basement.
"It's a bit cold down there, just thought I'd say..."
After that warning, both of them descended along the steps. Sai followed silently behind the girl as a faint bluish light began to come into view at the very bottom of the stairs.
"Have all the reserve teams dispatched to the 2nd line! If this wave gets through, it'll be impossible to recover!" yelled Lenin as the sound of gunfire drowned out all other voices.
"Grave! I need you to-" she started but stopped midway when she saw that Grave and his men were already heading to the front.
Lenin briskly turned around to the person calling her. "You're that girl... Cartwright, right?"
"We want to help! Let us tend to the wounded!" Cartwright announced without paying Lenin's comment any mind.
"What do you mean we?" asked Lenin and, as if to answer her question, she saw two girls standing behind Cartwright. One of them was Meyer, one of Ken's friends, and the other one was...
The other Lenin looked upon her cousin with determined eyes. Lenin couldn't help but chuckle. This girl she had tried so hard to protect in Ken's stead had grown much stronger since then. She who once clung onto the younger Chemosh as if her very life depended on it was now making a decision to help others.
"Charge! Get over here!" called Lenin. Before long, a man in glasses and medic garbs arrived in front of them.
"You called for me, Micah?" Charge asked as he knew this had to be urgent for him to be called away from his post in such a dire time.
"I put these girls under your care. I'm sure you need more hands and that they at least have the basic knowledge about first aid." commanded Lenin before again walking away to observe the battle.
Relics of the family's history surrounded the dim cold hallway. Sai paused to examine a piece every now and then before moving on. All these things told more about the Chemosh than any book ever could. Even just seeing these artifacts could give one the idea that the Chemosh family had been in existence since before the age of discovery and exploration. Many were sure signs that the Chemosh themselves were conquerors in their own rights.
"If all of this were in a museum... relics ranging from different eras, easily tracing the evolution of human technology. Studying and cataloging this whole collection could very well be worthy of a Kluge." muttered Sai as he put down a rusted scimitar.
"You haven't forgotten why we're here, have you?" asked the girl, obviously annoyed at Sai's sudden interest in all things Chemosh.
"Think you I would forget such a thing" No!." replied Sai, in an overly dramatic tone.
"Ha?" was the girl's only reply.
Sai sighed in disappointment, seeing as she failed to follow the joke. They resumed walking through the labyrinthic hallways. The temperature seemed to drop even more the deeper they went. At some point, Sai removed his overcoat and placed it over the girl's shoulders.
"W-What are you doing?" she quickly remarked.
"Well, aren't you getting cold? I mean, you're not wearing much. I'll be fine, I've spent a lot of time in cold climates." replied Sai without making eye contact, his face flushed.
The girl quietly smiled as she pushed her arms into the sleeves and continued to lead them further down. Eventually, they reached a doorway. The double-door was surprisingly carved out of wood and didn't seem to be very secure.
"You should have this back. I can't fight properly wearing it." remarked the girl as she returned Sai's overcoat. Sai hurriedly put it on and faced the doors once again.
Placing his hands on the handles, Sai opened the doors with a slam.
"RAAAAAHHHHH!!!" screamed Grave as he thrust his fist into the head of yet another foot soldier. Three of his copies had fallen. Another wave was in clear sight. He had no idea how much longer their little resistance would last.
"Better to go out fighting at least." he muttered as he threw another over his shoulder and onto a burning heap of flesh. A wave of pain flashed through his mind and he knew this meant that yet another of his copies had died. The creatures were getting smarter. Whereas before, they only cared about reaching the defense line, now they were more focused on Grave and his squad.
"Corvus! Where are you?!" Grave thought out loud. His feathered friend had not returned any messages for the latter part of the hour and this meant that none of Grave's men were getting commands. As his foot crushed the skull of a downed enemy, Grave's eyes sank as he witnessed in the distance a most saddening sight. He tried to rush there, hoping he could somehow make it in time. But he was constantly pushed back by more foot soldiers.
In the end, Grave could do nothing as his little Corvus was ripped apart and devoured by two bladed monsters. Emotion welled up in his very being. The only thing that held his sanity intact had been taken from him once again.
Sai walked into the room, instantly taking note of the giant glass columns that formed a circle within. He dared to stand in the midst of them, as he had done so many years ago.
"Hello, Council of Elders. It has been quite some time since we last met. The years have not been kind, have they?" spoke Sai. The stirring of the liquids in the columns filled the silence. Before long, the middle column lit up with the same pale blue light as outside the room.
"It is nice of you to come visit after running away from your responsibilities, grandson." spoke a voice into Sai's mind. The leader of the Council, the head of the Chemosh family...
"Holstein Chemosh..." mumbled Sai as he slowly drew his blade. Behind the glass, Holstein's body floated, nourishment and oxygen being fed through tubes that ran into his mouth and nose. The rest of the columns it seemed had been emptied since Grave's visit. "Where are the rest of the Council?"
"They have chosen to go to sleep, until this whole mess subsides. These measures would not have been needed to be taken if you had simply obeyed." explained Holstein. Still grasping his sword, Sai locked onto his grandfather's figure.
"Why? Because then it would be you who would be waltzing around in my body?" exclaimed Sai. Holstein's voice was silent as Sai spoke again.
"Yes, I know now. It's what happened to my parents, right? Even I had noticed that you were moved around sprightlier after their deaths. But I had no clue as to why. At least not at the moment. But this house holds many secrets. You couldn't expect me to not find out after living here all that time. That body you inhabit now is that of my father's. Your son, who you killed in order to extend your own pitiful life!"
Sai paused to catch his breath. He then turned to the girl who had brought him here. His eyes were clear and his gaze was piercing. He reached inside his pocket with his free hand and pulled out a small handkerchief. This time, it was the girl's gaze that was fixed upon Sai.
"That's..." she attempted to ask before her voice failed her.
"So you want to know what this is? This is a memento from my late mother. It's the only thing I have to remember her by." spoke Sai. "I found it a bit strange when I met you actually. A hint of nostalgia. It indeed felt that you were someone I once loved. But not for the reasons I thought I did. Hehe...haha...hahahahaha!"
Sai cackled like a madman before continuing.
"It was very well-played, I'll have to admit! You were so very convincing, after all!" exclaimed Sai. He turned back to Holstein.
"To think that you planned this far ahead... I'll have to give you credit, old man. Must've been a lot of work just to make sure that you could control me until you were ready to rip my brain out."
Holstein's eyes opened wide as soon as Sai finished speaking. But they were blank and it seemed that it was involuntary. His voice began to ring out again.
"I do not know how you found out but I guess there's no helping it now. Yes, the body of the woman who stands there does indeed belong to your mother. Preserved for over a decade, waiting just for you. You seem to have this all figured out, don't you Simon?"
Sai's grip on his sword tightened, his teeth clenched, his rage almost getting the better of him.
"You sick bastard! You killed my parents to harvest their bodies! You trained me to hell so that you could use my body when the time came! You messed with my memories so that I wouldn't suspect a thing! You staged this whole thing so that I would trust your doll! Everything was a lie!" yelled Sai.
"And so you came back here to try and find your answers. And you have!"
As Holstein said this, two spinning blades whizzed through the air from behind Sai. With a backhanded slash, Sai deflected one but the other was able to brush past his neck, trailing blood as it returned to its owner. The girl's eyes were blank and white as she lunged forward after catching her swords. Black steel met hers as she attacked. Sai struggled to parry her blows, failing from time to time, resulting in wounds to his arms and legs.
"If I had to guess, you were somehow able to lock in your true memories somewhere in your mind. You merely needed a trigger, a key, to release them." voiced Holstein as the fighting continued. "And the key would have to be something one-of-a-kind in order for the lock to not be released haphazardly. A memento from your mother? I was not aware of that at all."
Sai crashed into of the the glass columns, shattering it to pieces. Soaked in blood and whatever the fluid inside the column, he slowly resumed his fighting stance. His opponent was not without injuries of her own, but Sai's were evidently much more concerning.
"What's this? Can you not bear to kill your own mother's form? Priceless!" joked Holstein. But his words held some truth. Sai couldn't bring himself to kill the person in front of him. Try as he might to deny it, he was still Simon Chemosh. He slowly sheathed his blade and merely held it in his left hand.
"If you can't kill me, then I hope you don't mind if I don't share the sentiment!" yelled the girl as she pounced to attack once again. As she neared him, she twisted her body while extending her blades. It was only a second before she made contact. Then everything went black as blood and flesh splattered to the ground.
Grave forgot how long it had been since he witnessed Corvus' demise. He didn't even know how many of his copies were still alive. He didn't even notice that he had moved so far away from the line that he could no longer make out his comrades. All he knew now was that he had to kill. And kill he did. But he did not relish this act of killing now. It only seemed to be a matter of course.
"How many have I killed? How many more will I have to kill? Why am I still alive?"
These questions buzzed through his head. But he made little effort in way of answers. But soon he found an answer to one. A mere ten feet away from his current position was a human body, kneeling on the ground, being approached by the huge figure that the scouts had earlier refrained from describing.
"That thing truly is disgusting..." Grave thought before he fell to the ground exhausted. His eyes failed him and proceeded to shut tight. The last thing he saw was a pack of bladed ones closing in on his soon-to-be corpse. "I am Chemosh...I will not die..."
"H-How could you..." stuttered Holstein.
With sword in arm, outstretched, Sai regained his senses. Behind him was the body of his mother, possessed by another, and cut up into 17 bloody chunks. It seemed Sai changed his stance at the last minute, drawing his sword and countering before he was killed. He had almost forgotten one thing amidst all the commotion.
"I am Chemosh after all. Killing is something that comes naturally to me. I really shouldn't have been giving it as much thought as I've been doing so lately." he stated, before turning to Holstein. "And now it's your turn."
"You would truly have been an excellent vessel. I was right to have chosen you." confessed Holstein before the sound of gears cranking broke the silence. The glass column containing his body quickly retreated into the ceiling before Sai could react.
"Running away now, old man?!" called out Sai.
"I have lived far longer than you might think, boy! And I have no intentions of dying at the hands of a mere pup!" echoed Holstein's voice. "The Council and I will retreat into space until the surface is once again safe! Our machines will continue to research methods to prolong our lives while we sleep! And you will have to face the fact that I will still outlive you, bwahahahahaha!!!"
A loud explosion thundered throughout the manor as a gigantic rocket launched from the nearby forest. Sai rushed to the doors before another explosion caught his attention.
"He can't have rigged this place to self-destruct... that would be too cliché..." Sai mumbled before yet another explosion completely demolished the room he was just in. Cliché or not, he decided it would be wise to escape to the surface before it was too late.
Lenin found herself joining in the fray as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th defensive lines fell almost in an instant. There really seemed to be no end to the enemy reinforcements. She had already ordered all who wished to retreat to do so. Despite that, most of her soldiers stayed on, knowing that there would be no safe place if they escaped anyway.
She held back the tears as she remembered what had just happened. While falling back, she caught sight of Wilbur, barely alive with the lower part of his body blasted to bits. He told her to leave him, seeing as he was obviously doomed.
"You cry a lot, you know..." were his last words to her. But inside he was thinking, "I wish you'd cry for me for once..."
"They're using our own weapons against us!" yelled one of the remaining commanders as a Sheridan drove up to view and started firing at them. Lenin saw the all too familiar tank and realized its course.
"It's heading for the infirmary!" shouted Lenin as she quickly ran towards the tents. Quickly picking up speed, Lenin's life rushed in front of her eyes. The day she met Irene. The day she met Irene with Ken. Their childhood. Growing up and enjoying everyday together. Meeting with Wilbur and Charge and Ray and the rest. Losing her parents in the chaos. Stepping up to be the leader. It all seemed to blur.
"Cartwright! Meyer! Irene! Get out of there!" shouted Lenin in the highest volume her voice could muster. She pulled back the flaps of the tents. Outside, the enemy-controlled Sheridan fired at their location.
Just as Sai feared, the stairway that was his only escape had indeed collapsed. There was so much rubble that it was impossible to dig through.
"Damn it!!!" Sai cursed to the heavens. After a few minutes of well-deserved cursing, he decided to look around in case there was another way out. The winding hallways did little to calm him as he only grew even more annoyed.
Is this it? Is this really how I die? Trapped beneath the earth, waiting for the ceiling to collapse on my head or to run out of air? Somehow, I think I'd have been better off staying at Lenin's with Ken.
After passing through a bunch of ancient weapons, Sai realized that he was now walking along a hallway with ancient machines displayed. And soon enough, he came across a few old computers and video game consoles. His geek interest piqued, he decided to spend his final moments tinkering around the machines of his childhood.
"GameGear...GameBoy...Oh, cool! A FamiCom!" Sai exclaimed as he was rummaging through the displays. "And this is the version with a reset button!"
As he sat down to tinker with the outdated machine, Sai couldn't help but wish that somehow life could be reset just like video games. When things would seem bleak and nothing could be done...
"...it would just as simple as hitting reset!" Sai shouted as he pressed the reset button on the FamiCom. After a few moments, loud noises disturbed the silence. Sai quickly stood up, dropping the machine he was tinkering with. As it fell to the ground with a thunk, more noises could be heard in the distance. These could have easily been the rest of the explosions as Sai expected. But they sounded strange. Like explosions but played in reverse.
Sai rushed back to the path to the stairway and was speechless at the sight. The rubble and dust started rising and the broken staircase was fixing itself, exactly as if going in reverse. Thinking only of escaping, Sai quickly ascended the steps. Before long, he found himself at the grand staircase of the manor. The ground started to rumble as he continued to the hall. Soon, the various overgrowth and moss on the walls started disappearing and so did the cracks and holes. Color soon returned to the carpets and walls and the suits of armor once again stood upright as they always had. It wasn't long before people started scurrying through the halls. But they were facing backwards. Walking backwards. Speedily acting out their lives but backwards. But they paid Sai no mind, as if he weren't even there.
Dazed and confused, Sai proceeded out of the manor and was assaulted by a vision of green and blue. The once lush gardens were lush once more and the bright sun in the blue sky was a sight that Sai had not seen in months. His gaze drifted to the wartorn city that had become a battleground due to the recent outbreaks but there was only a city there, relatively peaceful and more or less thriving. Day turned into dawn then night then dusk then day again. The world was indeed going in reverse.
"I must have gone insane. That's it... oxygen deprevation induced insanity! That's totally believable!" Sai tried to reassure himself but to no avail. Without much else to go on, he noticed that his Z2 was still where he'd left it, in the middle of the forest path between the Chemosh estate and the main road. Deciding not to confuse himself even further by figuring out why a motorcycle was outside the bounds of time, he picked it up, revved the engine and rode out into the highway.
It was interesting to see the world going in reverse while on a motorcycle. The passage of time didn't really matter as such.
Eventually, after a few reverse day cycles, Sai found himself in Ashwarren. Looking to his watch, which was also going in reverse, it was the day he and Ken met again. It felt even stranger to see himself and Ken in the cafe that afternoon, then going back to the meeting with Grave and then separating as he returned(?) to the park and to the train station.
What the hell was I thinking? If I never met up with Ken, things might not have gotten as bad as it did. Wait, going backwards means that...!
Realizing that this was maybe his only chance to find out the truth, Sai revved up his Z2 again and rode off to another city. It was weird that he never got hungry or tired, nor did the Z2 ever run out of gas. And that the rewind sped up every now and again when he was lost in thought. He soon reached the city where he was reunited with Karen.
I need to know...Then I can at least rest assured...
Sa waited for some time before he witnessed the event where he saved Karen in an alleyway. He then followed her every retraced step. Except for when she was in bathrooms. This was not easy to do. But as he observed her, he slowly remembered why he'd fallen for her in the first place. Her gentle nature, her humble personality, her lovely smile. She cared for the people around her and took care of them. It was impossible to even think that she was capable of the betrayal Sai thought her guilty of.
No...I don't...I don't need to know...
Sai decided to trust in her once more. It couldn't hurt this time, he thought. And so he rode off back in the direction of the Chemosh estate.
Stopping in the suburban area near the city close to the estate, Sai got off his Z2 and approached a small house. It was just enough for a family that was starting out. A mother, a father, and a kid or two. And in a park near that house was a tree. The tree itself wasn't anything spectacular. It was just a tree after all. But to Sai and Ken, that tree was special just by being there. Sai sat down under the tree, taking in the everchanging hue of the sky as time continued to rewind. The colors blurred as the pace quickened and Sai fell asleep eventhough he wasn't tired.
He awoke to a very familiar sight. Tears welled up in his eyes as nostalgia took over. For a short while, time started moving forward again.
"Whatcha putting in your time capsule, Sai?" asked a very young Ken.
"Shaddap. I don't wanna tell you. You'll just hafta wait til we dig them out again." answered an equally young yet more open-mouthed Sai.
"Why are we burying so many of these again?" again asked kid Ken, still digging holes.
"I dunno. Wasn't it your idea in the first place?" said kid Sai as he carried another batch of 'time capsules' from their room.
"It was? Can't remember..."
Kid Sai sighed. "Ah well. At least we're not bored. Hope this tree keeps these safe. If not, we're definitely gonna come back here, cut you down using spoons and then we're gonna turn the wood into toilets for all the poor people with diarrhea so that you're gonna eat poop until you rot!!! You got that, tree!!!" he shouted at the tree as if it could hear him.
"Yeah, that's right!!!" shouted kid Ken in agreement.
"Bwahahahahaha!!!" Sai laughed at the sight. He couldn't help but feel so happy.
"Whutcha laughing at, misters?" kid Sai asked as he approached. Sai stifled his laughter as he tried to answer.
"I just feel so happy. Aren't you happy right now?" Sai asked his younger self, not even bothering to think about why he could interact with them at all.
"Um, I guess I'm happy! I'm having fun wid Ken!" replied kid Sai.
"I'm happy being with Sai too!" kid Ken joined in.
"Well, it's important to laugh when you're happy! Because it isn't fun to laugh at all when you're not!" exclaimed a present day Ken who appeared to be sitting right next to Sai under the tree. Sai was shocked to see him there but was distracted by the childish voices who had started laughing at the remark.
"That's right. It's the most fun to laugh when you're happy..."
- Current Location:At Peace
- Current Mood: satisfied
- Current Music:Tell Me Why - Penpals
The empty halls of the once grand Chemosh mansion continued to grow darker as the sky outside started to fill with clouds. The rays of light that had been seeping in through the crevices found in the walls and ceiling were slowly snuffed out. The two figures of Sai and his betrothed continued to push through the ever-growing darkness.
Their progress came to a halt as they came upon the grand staircase that would lead to the upper floors and the various other wings of the mansion. Before Sai could take a step up those stairs...
"That's not the way we should be going. There's nothing to find up there." spoke the girl. There was a hint of an emotion in her tone that Sai couldn't really identify. He paused, taking a few moments to think, before realizing what she meant.
"That's right. They've been using you all this time after all. Of course you'd know where they are," Sai stated, "but there is something I need to see for myself first. When you said there's nothing to be found up there, that's only because you think that the Council is my only concern as of now."
Sai proceeded up the stairs, slowly and carefully as the wooden steps seemed likely to collapse at any sudden weight placed on them. The girl decided to follow him up when he suddenly stopped.
"Would it be possible for you to wait here? I haven't been here for nearly a decade. Looking around alone and without a guide would really help me remember." Sai asked, without even turning around. Not knowing what he meant but not wanting to press him for details either, the girl reluctantly agreed to wait for him here. With a sigh of relief, Sai continued up and soon disappeared into one of the many corridors that led into the maze that was the Chemosh mansion.
"Hold the line! They can't be allowed to get past here or we'll be completely overrun!" yelled the commander of the 3rd defensive line.
The 1st and 2nd lines were completely annihilated just as the 3rd was finished setting up. It seemed that their sacrifices had not been in vain as the enemy force suffered enough casualties to render them unable to break through just as easily as before. Many of the soldiers still thought that this standstill would not last long. Nor would they be able to retake lost ground. The recon team had just announced that another wave was coming. What had broken through the preceding lines was merely the first wave and consisted mainly of the new bladed beasts. The next now comprised of about the same number of said beasts and also the gunned foot soldiers that had been seen since the start of the whole war.
Behind the 5th defensive line, Lenin was giving out commands as her liaisons brought back more news.
"The 1st line consisted of bunkers and forward guards. The 2nd line held rear guards and demolitions. The 3rd line has assault teams and the snipers as well as most of the tanks."
"Have the snipers fall back to the 4th line and move the reserve guards to the 3rd. How's the supply route?"
"Despite our initial losses, we've got things under control."
Grave took in the sight with as much respect for Lenin as always. Every bit the leader she was expected to be. Whether she had always been like this or she grew into the position, Grave could no longer remember. Not that it mattered right now. All that mattered now was the plan of the damnable Council of Elders.
"With the next wave incoming, the 3rd line may fall."
At this moment, Grave decided to join in on the fun.
"Lenin, let me and my squad take back some ground. We can't just wait here to die after all."
Facing Grave, she merely nodded as if he had not even needed to ask. She knew their predicament and that Grave volunteering for the duty meant that she needn't openly condemn any other to the task. Without another word, Grave walked away from the ever busy leader and started cracking his knuckles. The raven on his shoulder cawed as if to ask, "What now?".
"Call them, Corvus. Let them know that the time is now."
The raven set off from its perch and flew in the direction away from the conflict. As Grave saw his flighted companion off, he was approached by a few familiar faces.
"Good luck out there." said Wilbur, armed with his sniper rifle and heading down to the 4th line.
"You finally decided to fight?" asked Grave, almost with a sneer.
"Gathering information was always part of the fight. But now is the time for action. To see if all that gathering pays off." answered Wilbur defensively. Without another word, he went off to his post.
"We could all die if you fail out there, you know?" joked Ernie, also armed with a sniper rifle, and rushed to catch up to Wilbur.
Grave watched the two men, knowing more about the whole conflict than either of them. "Mere pawns...but useful ones." he thought to himself, finally steeling his nerves for the battle to come.
"This was my room back then. Sure looks better than I thought it would." Sai exclaimed, more to himself as he was alone. The room was more or less how he left it when he made his escape. It was on the side furthest away from the explosions months ago so it remained unscathed unlike the rest of the mansion. Even so, the room was pretty bare, evidence that this was merely a place for sleep than anything else. Classical wooden walls, a solitary window on the wall opposite the door, red carpet all over the floor, a single sized bed, and a closet built into a wall for clothes.
Searching the closet turned out nothing as it was empty save for a single handkerchief. Discarding that, Sai turned to his bed and threw the mattress off to search under it. Still nothing. It seemed even Sai didn't know where to look.
"I don't even know what I'm looking for..."
Blood splattered to the ground as gunfire continued to roar. Underneath his dark cowl, Grave surveyed the battlefield after taking down one of the bladed. His squad was faring quite well given that this was their first battle. Ten in number, including Grave, all of them wore the same dark robes and hoods that hid their faces from the world. Only their claws stood out, being uncanny weapons when coupled with their inhuman speed. It was wholly impossible to tell Grave apart from any of them. But to keep his anonymity, it was also impossible for him to voice out any commands.
"Their left flank is advancing too much." Grave thought to himself. It wasn't long before one of his "copies" remedied the problem. Flying past his shoulder was a small black bird.
Technology could easily remedy the problem but Grave held a great dislike for such means of communications. Not because of anything personal but because such devices tended to be jammed easily during their encounters. He learned this lesson many months ago and would never make the same mistake. Grave didn't need to shout out for his commands to reach his squad. After all, he shared a telepathic link with his little Corvus. After merely thinking what needed to be done, it took little effort for Corvus to swoop in and share the message with the soldiers.
But Corvus was but a raven and couldn't speak in any human language. The soldiers themselves needed to be conditioned not only to be able to understand Corvus but also to be able to move and fight just like Grave. This would be impossible if not for the Chemosh blood that Grave also possessed. Grave had learned a much greater extent than his cousins as he had full support from the family and no great responsibilities prior to the fighting. Along with a complete research team at the family's beck and call, he learned that it was possible to share the Chemosh "gifts" with outsiders, those with no connections to the family whatsoever.
Experiments had been done in the past but often ended horribly. The subjects would come to possess powers depending on the ones of those whose blood was transfused into them. At first, they could be able to use these as they wished with none of the side effects found in members of the family. But after only a few days, they started to lose their minds and exhibit even worse behavior than any Chemosh. These test subjects died after some time, their brains literally exploding out of their skulls. It seemed that while those born into the Chemosh gain the ability to use more of their brain in order to control their powers, normal humans' brains would need to expand further instead. They would expand and expand until they filled the skull and proceeded to burst out.
However, Grave was able to come up with a solution to this. The conflict broke out before he ever got a chance to test it out so he soon lost the resources to do so. This study of his took a backseat while he acted as the Council's agent within Lenin's Resistance. He was kept very busy during this time until he remembered one day when he was torturing a deserter. Realizing that these fools would no longer see the light of day, he slowly resumed his study. He saw first-hand that as people broke down, they would start losing their minds, often going into a state of shock. It was then that he experimented, transfusing his blood into these "brain-dead" bodies.
After a few tries, he finally succeeded in creating a false Chemosh. This one survived longer than any other subject before and displayed a closer degree of Chemosh abilities as well. Grave was ecstatic. As he continued the process on others, his first creation started to deteriorate. After a full month since the transfusion, he died much like any other. This revealed that Grave's method's merely extended the time it took for subjects to break down. He learned later that keeping them in a state of shock would preserve their states and that the one-month period would not count. Grave decided to make as many as he could at least. It took a lot of blood and of course that meant that he had to take time to recover before the next transfusion. These nine around him now were the only ones he had. They would have to do.
The second wave was almost completely wiped out, with a few stragglers being taken care of before they could even reach the 3rd line of defense. Grave's squad suffered no casualties, only minor injuries. they gathered close together as Lenin's soldiers continuously rushed past them to fortify the 2nd line of defense that Grave had recovered.
Lowering his hood, Grave took a deep breath. A 3rd wave would not be far-off so he took this time to rest. In the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Lenin, no longer behind the safety of her desk and advisors.
"Is something the matter, Miss Leader?" asked Grave sarcastically.
"Things are going to get much more complicated from now on. I need to be closer to the front lines so that my commands will reach the soldiers faster." answered Lenin, completely ignoring Grave's baiting. As Lenin walked on, Grave felt a smile creep onto his face.
"Looks like this pawn has been promoted to a queen." Grave muttered under his breath.
I ended up writing a lot. This is done. Chapter 41 will finish it. Just gonna take a break... - Sai
I stood from my reverie and jumped at the sight,
The beast was no more, as if he vanished into the night.
Then with a snarl, the abomination did reveal,
That what goes on in the mind, might not be real.
“Come now child, I am a demon from which depths cannot be fathomed” He snarled, cursed, and garbled the words as if he were eating them, flesh by flesh. His form slowly emerging from the warm, yet moist, ground not ten feet away. His face smiled a smile that only a mother could love, with worms, centipedes and other creepy crawlies inching out of where his face was supposed to be.
“How cliché” I laughed as I charged towards him, rifle in hand, shooting every bullet left in the cartridge. I weaved and I ducked, spending all of my energy to avoid any counterattack he might or did use against me.
A loud metal clang erupted from the rifle “damn! Empty” I grumbled as I sidestepped into the abomination. I gripped the rifle’s head and decided to make one last use of it. I decided to swing it as hard as I could, into his bloody annoying face, twisting my hips as I swung for good measure.
Suddenly I felt the side of the rifle collide with his face. The loud thud I heard afterwards simply affirmed my guess.
I felt something slowly crack as the blow reached its climax; I had hoped it was his skull.
To my surprise, the blow had found home… but it made no sign that it had dealt any particular damage. The horror simply laughed as it brushed the blow aside and struck me back. I felt the side of my head explode with blunt force pain. My world had become suddenly become so full of bright-lit stars.
“It is such a pity child, you could have ran” He bellowed
“A Chemosh can only be killed by a Chemosh, I have no need to run” I yelled back as I got up again, ready for another round.
“So it may be” blow by blow, he smashed me deeper into the ground. I felt my ribs slowly give way to his blows, cracking, then shattering into a million pieces inside me, tearing my organs apart in a whirlwind of bone shrapnel.
He then stopped as quickly as he started. Standing over me, he smiled his twisted smile and laughed. I lay there, dying. I could feel the blood slowly inch out of my increasingly weakening body. I could hear his laughter, mocking me, taunting me to continue to pursue my feeble attempts at retaliation. His sickening gargles and belches made me want to vomit, but I didn’t even have the strength to do that.
I could feel myself slowly slip from reality as everything began to blur into a hodgepodge of colors… but even in this decrepit state, I knew I must move forward.
It’s because only in moving forward can you even move at all
“Or some shit like that” I murmur to myself as I slowly try to stand up, using the rifle as support. My knees wobbled and screamed with pain as I tried to posture myself upright. I could feel my body slowly crumble away as my body, howling to no end of its pain, slowly lets my blood drip from its various cuts and openings; my blood slowly trickling down to meet the hard yet warm kiss of terra.
As my body screamed for sweet release from the torturous pains that afflicted me, so too did my mouth scream “Is that all you got?!” By sheer force of will, I stood there, defiant to the last breath- ever with a smile on my face as any other time.
“Ho? You still have some ‘fight’ left in you, little one?” He laughed his sickeningly wet laugh, letting his saliva drip from the sides of his cracked fat face. “I shall relish devouring you”
He moved closer towards me, slowly, as if he were enjoying every moment of my agony. I did not look away, I neither felt fear nor weakness, I would not give him that satisfaction.
He opened the mouth at his torso and placed its tongue on my cheek. “You taste delicious, little boy” it spoke using its other mouth.
He started to wrap his disgusting tongue around my neck, slowly tightening his grip. “Prepare yourself, child, I shall show you true ecstasy” he smiled
“I am a Chemosh” I smiled back "I will not die."
- Current Mood: fuck
- Current Music:Sex Pistols
"Lenin, we have to take action now. The missing scout team probably means-" spoke Grave as he was interrupted by a large thud on the table.
Lenin held her head low with both hands on the table. "I know what it means, Grave. It means that the enemy is mobilizing. For some reason, it's just as those two suddenly left us."
"Do you mean to say that it's not just a coincidence?" asked Grave as he softly petted Corvus' head.
"I don't know what to say." Silence filled the tent for a few minutes before she spoke again. "What's our status?"
"We don't have enough men who are well enough to fight. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that we could get wiped o-"
Grave was interrupted once again by the same thud on the table.
"This place sure looks different compared to when I left." I muttered as I took in the view of what was once the magnificent Chemosh family estate. The girl across me just sighed as she motioned for me to approach.
"That's what happens when the world ends. This isn't the only place that ended up like this as I'm sure you already know. We have to keep moving."
This was it. I was so close to finding my answers. Whatever those answers would be. Our footsteps quickened as we approached what had been the front door to the mansion, now merely a hole in the wall. We continued forward, not knowing exactly what lay ahead. Through the hole was a hallway, dark and unlit except for the occasional beam of sunlight that shone through the decrepit walls. A sudden wave of anxiety hit me.
"Sai? Is something the matter?"
I could still hear her voice. But it sounded weird. Like hearing it from the other end of a tunnel. Echoing. Flashes of light blinded me as I fell to my knees.
"Sai?! What's happening?!"
Could she not see what I was seeing? It seemed whatever was happening was affecting only me. As I adjusted my eyes, the flashes no longer blinded me. Instead, they merely blurred my vision, appearing and disappearing like light reflected from a disco ball. Where they touched, they seemed to change the image before my eyes. They revealed what had once been red velvet on the ground beneath my feet, polished marble walls around me, chandeliers shining brightly and hanging from the high ceiling. Suits of armor adorned the hallway, laying by the walls every few steps. My attention then diverted to figures in the distance, further across the hall. I rose to my feet. I had to see who they were. I had to know.
"There are people there. Can't you see them?" I asked, not even turning to face the girl I had almost forgotten all about.
She stared in the same direction and raised her eyebrows questioningly. She really could not see. I smiled as I resumed my steps, drawing closer and closer to the figures only I could see.
"I believe... that I'm seeing the past. Another flashback maybe. But unlike the others I've had before, I'm not blacking out to see it." I struggled to say, to clear her mind of unimportant notions of my insanity. I was surprised to find her already at my side once again.
"You needn't worry. I believe what you're telling me." she answered while looking directly into my eyes. I wondered for a moment if she was serious. But my curiosity would not wait. Following my pace, we walk forward as the figures become clearer. They were indeed people. People that used to live in this house when I used to live here. It took me a while to search my memories, muddled as they were. Among them were maids, instructors, and bodyguards. The people I saw and interacted with everyday. I reached out to grab one of them but my hand merely passed through their bodies, swiping only air.
A low growling sound then made its way to my ears. My eyes scanned the area for the source. The growling was then followed by screams. The people in my vision were being mauled by a huge wolf. But it had blue fur, horns like a bull and gigantic claws. I don't remember this ever happening before. With a few limbs still hanging out of its mouth, the beast then turned to me and pounced into the air.
I instinctively heeded the warning as a spinning blade cut through the air just above my head, embedding itself into the beast. Its blood spilled across the room and I finally regained my senses.
"That thing was real? But h-how the hell did it..." I trailed off as I realized the beast was still alive. I drew my sword while approaching the downed animal. The blade from earlier was buried deep into the left part of its neck, just slightly missing its throat. Blood and growls continued to escape its mouth as I stepped closer. I looked into its eyes, keeping enough distance should it suddenly pounce again.
"This was an experiment, wasn't it?" I asked my companion as she also drew closer.
"One of many. The creatures you and your brother have been fighting were also experiments." she answered curtly, as if to stop herself from divulging more than that.
"I see. But this one... it feels different."
As I continued to observe it, I noticed that the gaze it returned to me was not of rage or anger. It was one of fear, tinged with expectation. None of the others that I've killed shared this. Given that I never truly took the time to observe.
"What are you doing?" she suddenly asked me.
"What do you mean?" I questioned back. It was then that I realized I was crouching at the beast's side and my outstretched hand, moving as if to pat the beast on the head. I paused. I wondered for a moment. What was I going to do?
My hand changed its path and grasped the handle of the blade in the beast's neck. Wordlessly, I pulled it out and splattered more blood all over the remains of carpet on the ground.
"Here." I muttered as I offered the blade back to the girl. Silently, she took it from me and shook of the excess blood on it. The beast continued to lie on the floor, still gasping for breath.
"Are you going to kill it?"
She asked the same question on my mind. Was I going to? My unsheathed sword waited in my hand. It attacked me. It would only be common sense to kill it now. After all, had I not killed everything else that tried to attack me? Why was now any different?
Clenching my hand tighter, I quickly stood and stabbed the beast in the head. I made sure to kill it quickly. But not because it tried to kill me before...
"... but because it pleaded for me to kill it..."
This single act of killing changed what I thought all along. Perhaps it was indeed the same for all the others.
"If what I' realized just now is right... then things are a bit less complicated than I thought."
"What did you just say?" Lenin asked in shock.
"These creatures, they're spewing out of Ashwarren. Not just the huge-bodied foot soldiers like before. Now there are also ones whose arms seem to be blades made out of bone. These ones move much faster and attack in packs. Aside from that, there's also word of a gigantic form leading these new forces. Reports say it was too disgusting to describe into words but that it was, uh, human-ish, with a large mouth on its belly." reported Wilbur, having just returned from recon.
"Wilbur, why do you hold back the info we both know that Miss Leader here would appreciate the most?" snickered Grave. "Someone was seen fighting off those things. One of the boys from the recon team identified this someone as Ken."
Silence filled the tent as Grave delivered this piece, knowing full well how this would affect Lenin. Wilbur made an attempt to curse Grave but decided to keep it to himself. Grave merely waited for someone to speak up. When it seemed apparent that no one else would...
"So what would you have us do, Miss Leader? He can't be expected to hold off the whole force himself. But I believe that he would at least do well enough to draw attention."
This statement finally evoked a reaction from Lenin.
"You would have him act as bait?!" she shouted, not anymore caring if the soldiers outside could hear her outburst.
"He's already acting as bait," Grave replied calmly, "so the least we could do is make use of his act."
Grave waited for his words to sink in. "And maybe we could end up saving him should he need it."
Next chapter in a bit. - Sai
- Current Mood:awake
- Current Music:Melodies of Life - Nobuo Uematsu
I had to leave, I had to escape their world and head back into mine because it is only there that I can face the demons that walk in and out among us.
I had to escape, I had to run...
I slowly crept out of the window, holding everything I might need for the journey ahead. The clothes on my back, some rations, a gun and a whole lot of ammo.
"So is this how all Chemosh return their favors? Pack up and disappear as if you were never here?" She snarled angrily at me. It felt as if a thousand daggers were pinning me to the window I was slowly creeping out of.
"N-now Micah, this isn't what it looks like. I was just going out to get some air. It's just that the air I want is a couple of hundred miles away frome here." I said, thinking how stupid I sounded then and there.
"Why do you relish in making other people worried about you?! How do you think Irene feels?! And Anna?! And this, this Miki person?!" She screamed at me as if I was at fault for everything.
"Can't you at least stay until all your injuries were healed? You can do whatever you want when the possibility of you collapsing after taking a few steps from here disappears."
Without another word, she turned around and left the tent. The other girls slowly made their way in, somewhat in a dazed state. I did not know what to do, but I knew I must make my escape quick, before they would be any more affected by my actions. I knew this was the most opportune time to run.
And so I ran out, trying to find a vehicle I can take with me towards whatever hell awaited the Chemosh. I ran past Grave and his fetid turkey and suddenly my world became black.
I suddenly found myself in Ashwarren, I was surrounded by screaming, yelling and gunfire. I barely noticed my bleeding leg and the various medical equipment attached to me as I made my way deeper into the city, grabbing whatever object I could find that could be used as a weapon.
I saw one of them run at me, holding a bayonet high above his ugly head. Jumping to the left I quickly evaded him then bludgeoned him on the nape. No problems there. I took his gun, not knowing if it would do me any good. It looked as if it had been from a sci-fi games with its glowing and weird oddities and accessories.
By now my leg was fixing itself in a weird autonomous disgusting fashion. The wound seemed to rip iteself apart then re attach itself. It reminded me so much of coral reefs, pollips, and the ocean. 'How strange' I thought to myself.
Then I faced a menace, a bloated deformed disgusting thing brought about the sick minds of humanity. It turned towards me, fully revealing its disgusting vysad. It looked like seemingly familiar, like the boogeyman from a Tim Burton movie, only covered in liquid and organs. It had two mouths, one on its arm and one located in what I believed to be its torso.
It roared at me with its hideous mouth. "You, I know you!" He bellowed
"You are the child that all men must face.
You are the one that shall doom this entire place!"
He laughed hard
"You are a child that shalt bring darkness and fire
You are the one that have made things so dire!"
I did not know what the hell it was talking about. "Uh, okay"
"You don't even know the problems you have created
but in due time you shall learn, that an alliance between us is fated."
I quickly aimed my weapon and played with its numerous switches, triggers and buttons, hoping one of them would be the button that shoots the damned thing.
"Listen to me child of Chemosh blood"
"I don't really think I should!" I screamed as I shot at him with a thousand rounds of whatever the fuck I was shooting. "DIE YOU BIG FAT PIECE OF-" suddenly a resounding thud hit me from the side. I felt my ribs crack.
I was thrown thirty meters towards the side with pain wracking my entire body.
"Foolish child, there is no way my own weapon can harm me!"
Even through the pain, I had to make a wisecrack "Shut up you poor copy of free willy! You're damned ugly!" Damn, why did I have to rhyme with him?
"Sure has been a while since we spent a night without constant gunfire."
"Wasn't it just a few months ago that everything was normal?"
"Normal, huh? Never thought I'd be missing all that."
The two soldiers continued their idle conversation, sitting in the middle of a small make-shift encampment consisting of a few small tents, a bonfire, and the jeep that they rode in. The rest of their squad were busy collecting new info on the sudden geographical changes in this area. Where once the city of Ashwarren stood, now there was a large crater, implying that the ground had collapsed from under it. From what the sensors could pick up, the city(or at least the ruins of it) now lay at the bottom of this crater and with the lack of light from the clouded sky, it was impossible to discern anything without actually going down there.
"So how long have they been gone?"
"It looks to be well over an hour. Anything on the radios?"
"Nope. Nothing but static."
"If they don't return soon, we'll have to follow protocol and report back to base. The boss will want to know what's going on here."
"They're probably just scavenging for some stuff to take back with them. We should wait a bit longer. Who knows? Maybe they found some magazines that survived the attack."
"Magazines? You don't mean..."
"Yeah, you get what I'm talking about."
"God, now that you mention it, it has been a while since the last time. Everything's been so busy that I hadn't noticed at all."
"Yeah. Even with all the surviving women in the base, there really isn't time for that."
After a few more minutes, the two soldiers heard a shifting sound from behind them. Then, they heard a low growling sound. They both reached for their rifles but were too late. A sudden gust of wind brushed by and they each had both arms cut off and fall to the ground.
Now in front of them, the source of the growling and the cause of their severed arms, was a creature that resembled a man. In fact, it resembled one of their own comrades who had gone off to investigate the crater. But he was no longer what one could call human. Though his body was still that of one, he no longer had arms and instead had scythe-like appendages. His face was mangled, the skin on his mouth hanging in shreds to the sides and his eyes glowed an eerie red. He stood slightly crouched, still snarling and growling.
The two soldiers, now armless and hopeless, both fell to the ground trying to get away. Their blood now soaked the ground and soon more of their former comrades arrived, in more or less the same condition as the first one. Blood-curling screams could be heard for miles, ripping through the once-peaceful night.
Dawn of the next day broke and Grave arrived to Lenin once again shouting out in fits of rage.
"Damn it! Not even one of them made it back here?! This is just, just, aaaaarghhh!"
Grave walked closer quietly and approached Wilbur, who was now trying to calm down Lenin.
"What just happened here?" Grave asked, lowering his voice so as not to draw Lenin's attention. Wilbur noticed him and motioned for them to walk away from Lenin while she was vexed. When finally out of earshot, Wilbur started to talk.
"Last night's scout team that was sent to Ashwarren didn't return. We think that they may have been ambushed or something."
"You don't think that they may have just been delayed?"
"There's a possibility of that but they were strictly instructed to rush back here if anything were to happen. Plus, they should have contacted us via radio the moment they were heading back."
Wilbur then gripped the tri-symboled amulet that he wore on his neck and lowered his head. Grave noticed this and looked at Wilbur confusingly.
"Is something wrong? You look disturbed."
"It's just that...Vin was on that team. We'd known each other for a while and you know. I can't stand the thought of him being dead." answered Wilbur, his voice shaking.
Grave decided not to push the issue. It was probably better to consult with Lenin herself and so he left Wilbur to his thoughts. But that amulet...was it 505? Can't believe he's still holding on to something like that.
""So what now? I remember more and more as I encounter more things related to the past. But how do I know what's real and what's not? There's still too many inconsistencies. How can I be sure what to trust?"
Dawn was breaking and I had snapped out of my flashback faced with the same problem as always. My memories needed fixing and I had no idea how I could even begin do that.
"Then just trust in the same things you've trusted in this past decade or so, Simon. No one but yourself. After all, you can't expect to be lying to yourself while you're fully conscious, right?"
She had a point. I only trusted myself and in extension, Ken. Wherever he was, it didn't matter now. I was here and it was my conviction that led me here. I slowly unsheathed the sword on my back and examined its obsidian luster. I ran my left hand over it, taking solace in its metallic coldness. Whatever comes my way will be struck done by this blade and I couldn't wait until this coldness was replaced by bloody heat.
"If you're coming with me, then I welcome your company. Seeing as you're supposed to be my wife; that idea is still really alien to me. At least try to keep up."
I return my blade and start heading off towards the mansion as she hurries to follow beside me. She was smiling a bit more honestly now. A smile of joy. I was also smiling. But it wasn't just for joy. No, it was probably for excitement.
"By the way, call me Simon one more time and I will definitely cut you down where you stand. If I can't trust even my own memories then the man once called Simon Chemosh is dead. I've never been so sure as I am now that from this point on and until the day I cease to live, my name is Sai Kanzen!"
I'm churning out these ideas as I go. Gotta make up for lost time and I feel that writing something here is more productive than playing games at the moment. - Sai
Grave continued to feed the raven, ignoring Lenin as she left the tent. He was getting tired of always answering to her but he knew he had to put up with it. There was still much they didn't know about the enemy and it was Grave's mission to collect as much information as he could while within the Resistance.
"What thoughts are you muddled with, Grave? The woman has gone now." spoke the ebon fowl on Grave's shoulder.
"That woman is nothing but a pawn. A figurehead of this so-called Resistance. She is a very useful pawn however and, as a Lenin, it is only right for her to be such." answered Grave as he started to stretch a little before heading out himself.
"But are you not as much as a pawn as she is? As those other two are?" inquired Corvus.
"Perhaps. You may have a point there, Corvus. In the end, aren't we all just pawns in the hands of the gods?"
"How very philosphical of you."
Corvus ended their conversation there as they approached the front gates of the encampment. Sentries were stationed every 500 meters from here and around the whole base. Grave had to check up on them since there had been issues with security. Sometimes a few men deserted and abandoned the cause due to insanity and fear. Few of them ever escaped completely. For those that succeeded, they would soon find death out there in the wasteland surrounding them. For those that were caught, they would find something far worse than just death. First, they would find regret. Then, they would enter a deeper level of despair than they had ever known. And when at the very end of their wits, when they were literally begging for death, they would find themselves denied such a convenience. After they start to think they would never die, that is when he finally kills them. These were things that Grave was in charge of. Exactly what he did to achieve these were never disclosed to anyone. And it would be an understatement to say that he enjoyed it. No, one could even go so far as to say that he reveled in it, relished it, and still it wouldn't be close enough. It was something that could not be put in words. He was Chemosh after all.
Much to his dismay, no one went mad today. His hands were itching for some activity but it seemed that there would be none for now. Grave looked to the sky. It was still covered in clouds but it was getting even darker now. Night was coming.
"Should we not be going now? If we wait any longer, we may not make it back by morning." cawed Corvus worriedly.
"You're right. We shouldn't keep him waiting after all." answered Grave as he headed back into the base to acquire a vehicle.
The jeep Kreuz had driven to get here was still in pretty good shape. With an order here and there, it was refueled within the minute and Grave rode it out into the darkness. Despite not having a compass or a map, he knew where he was headed. As with Sai, it was instinctual. He could hear the call and hurried to answer it. Corvus was silent during the whole trip, only cawing every now and again at the creatures that could be hiding in the darkness around them.
A few hours passed before they reached their destination. From the outside, one could see the ruins of a once extravagant estate, the gardens now filled with dead grass and wilted plants and the mansion itself was now slowly crumbling to the ground. Grave left the jeep and proceeded through a crevice where a door may once have been. He entered into the grand hall, just as broken-down as the rest of this place. He sneered at the once familiar atmosphere of the family home.
"So this is what you will be inheriting after Master Holstein dies? I see why those brothers wanted nothing to do with this." said Corvus sarcastically as he left his perch on Grave's shoulder and fluttered around the room.
"Are you finished, Corvus? We don't have time for this." remarked Grave as he motioned for Corvus to return to his perch and stay silent.
Grave walked on towards the large staircase that split into two, leading to different sides of the second level. However, he did not ascend these steps. Instead, he approached behind it and revealed a secret stariway by pushing back a trap door hidden on the wall. As he descended into the lower levels of the mansion, the temperature started to drop to nearly freezing conditions. His breath started to fog and he was now shivering slightly. The temperature did not seem to affect Corvus in any way however. Whatever the reason, Grave paid no mind. It seemed he already knew why, seeing as he had been with Corvus for quite a while now.
"Ah, young master Grave. I'm glad to see you have arrived."
Now at the bottom of the stairs, the coldness was supposedly unbearable but here was a man, clad in normal butler attire, grreting Grave as if it were nothing.
"Save your breath. Just lead me to the elders so that I may report and be done with this."
"As you wish. Please follow me closely. The halls may be confusing to those unaccustomed to it."
Grave followed the manservant through a series of winding paths. Around him were a myriad of strange artifacts hung on the walls. Artifacts of an age long past. The age when the Chemosh were more than just a family of power-hungry madmen. When people called them either gods or demons. Swords, statues, crests, medals, portraits, trophies, shields and many more. All of them bore the insignia of the Chemosh. The encircled upright fish god that the family was named after.
"Here we are. I shall wait here to escort you back."
Grave entered yet another dark room. Around the room were seven large cylindrical glass cases. Inside each of them were aged men and women, the Council of Elders. Old farts that refused to just quietly die, Grave thought to himself. Grave stood in the middle of the room as the liquid in the cases stirred.
"What have you learned, Grave?" spoke an old woman, her mouth unmoving as it was full of tubes that provided her body with nourishment and oxygen. Her voice seemed to speak directly into Grave's mind, as did the rest of the council, seeing as they were all in similar conditions.
"There is some inactivity within the enemy. We fear they may be preparing for a larger assault." reported Grave, his voice monotone.
"Or perhaps they are merely waiting for something." spoke out another elder, a man this time.
"It is imperative that their technology be known to us before the year is over! I fear that many of us would not last any longer than that!" shouted another female elder, the fear of death evident in her tone. Another shared his fear of much the same thing and before long, all but one of the elders were arguing amongst each other.
"It is beyond our power as of the moment to seize any of their bases. We just do not have enough manpower. More and more fall with each passing wave. The situation is grim." continued Grave despite the ramblings from all around him.
"Enough! We achieve nothing by bickering like this!" thundered the man who had stilled his voice until that moment. At his command, the rest of the council was silenced. "What of the two who have abandoned us?" asked the same man to Grave.
"One of them remains in the Resistance base, fawned over by his women. The other one is missing but I believe he may be heading here." answered Grave. "Even if he does reach this place, I am sure he will be able to do nothing."
"Do not be quick to conclude such a thing. Those two are my own descendants. Whatever power I possess, they too may have attained. Continue your work and return on the next full moon. We will return to stasis until then." finished the man.
"As you will...Grandfather."
It's a bit difficult to get into the minds of characters I didn't conceive on my own. In any case, I'll write on as long as it takes. - Sai
"So, how long can we stay here?"
"With the supplies we have now, it'll probably be a couple of weeks. That's given that everything goes according to plan at least."
After their report, the scouts quickly left the two officers alone. One of them slammed her fist onto the makeshift table in the middle of her tent. This was not good. Many had died and many more were injured and unable to fight. She had no idea what to do now. It was impossible for them to launch a full-scale attack and succeed. It almost seemed that all hope was lost. The other officer, a slightly huge man in a black cloak only watched as the woman known as Lenin vented her anger.
"Take it easy, Leader. Getting stressed out won't do us any good."
"Easy for you to say, Grave. You only need to follow orders. I'm the one who was to think of them."
"We've survived this long because of your orders though. Don't be so quick to imply that you're not fit for this position."
"In any case, how are those cousins of yours? Will they be of any use?"
"Well, Kreuz was able to rescue them not far from here. I've lost count how many times they've had to be rescued now. Anyway, I've been informed that Sai had left a few hours ago. No one knows where he's headed. We can't rely on him."
Lenin listened silently as Grave reported on this. She had known Sai for only a short while and though he had shown much prowess in fighting of the enemy, he was far too unpredictable and did not trust in anyone.
"And what of Ken? Is he still here?"
Grave did not answer. Lenin waited a bit longer and when still no response came, she turned around and was about to demand answers from Grave. She almost shouted as loud as she could before stopping halfway when she saw Grave feeding the little black bird on his shoulder.
"Yeah, that's right, Corvy. I found this meat in a freezer in an abandoned butcher shop a few miles from here. It took a while to thaw but I'm sure it's delicious, isn't it? Don't worry, we'll have fresh meat soon."
It was kind of sickening to see a grown man babying a pet bird the way Grave did. Lenin calmed herself by remembering that Grave was also a Chemosh. She left the tent to check on Ken herself. She was sure that he was still around here.
"Yo, Leader! What's up?" one of the soldiers called out to her.
"Wilbur, I didn't know you were back here already. What's the situation?"
"The enemy isn't showing any signs of activity. They most likely won't attack any time soon. We should be safe for a few more hours."
This soldier Wilbur was a member of one of the scout teams in charge of recon. Lenin had actually known him before this all started since they were classmates in school, when everything was still normal.
"Nice work. You should rest up a bit and I'll talk to you again later. I just have to check up on some things."
"No problem. Make sure you get some rest yourself. You won't be able to lead well when you're half asleep on the battlefield."
Wilbur walked on away from her, heading towards the barracks. She appreciated his concern over her well-being and it made her feel good to have others think of her. Remembering her true objective, she rushed on to the medical tents. In front of one of them was her cousin Irene. Where Irene stayed was probably the same plave where Ken was.
"Micah, what's wrong? You look tired."
"I'm fine, nothing a few hours of sleep won't fix. Anyway, is Ken still here?"
"Yeah, he woke up just a while ago. I left the tent to give him some time to change his clothes because he was covered in so much dirt and- wait, you shouldn't go in there yet!"
Lenin brushed past Irene and entered the tent where Ken supposedly was. What she saw inside was exactly what she feared. Ken was just about to leave through the back of the tent when Irene's yelling stopped him.
"So is this how all Chemosh return their favors? Pack up and disappear as if you were never here?"
"N-now Micah, this isn't what it looks like. I was just going out to get some air. It's just that the air I want is a couple of hundred miles away frome here."
"Why do you relish in making other people worried about you?! How do you think Irene feels?! And Anna?! And this, this Miki person?!"
She refrained from stating that she herself was worried about him. It had been some time since she had been open with such feelings. She didn't feel like she had to.
"Can't you at least stay until all your injuries were healed? You can do whatever you want when the possibility of you collapsing after taking a few steps from here disappears."
Without another word, Lenin turned around and left the tent. The three girls whose names she mentioned rushed in past her, one by one. Many people were worried for this sick puppy. She didn't need to compete with them.
"Don't judge me!!!" - Sai
Amidst the cloud-filled skies, one could still tell that night was coming. I looked for as much kindling as I could. Anything that I could use to make a fire. Luckily, the forest which once covered the manor was filled with dead wood. It wasn't long before I had a fire starting.
"Are you ready to talk to me now?" I whispered to the woman who was now seated beside me, basking in the heat that the meager flame provided.
"Can't you remember my name yet?" she asked without even glancing in my direction.
"From what I've learned, I can't trust all of my memories. Even if I did remember a name, I wouldn't be sure if it would really be yours." I answered sternly.
"Looks like you've seen through some of the illusions. I'm glad to hear that, Simon."
"Stop calling me that. My name is Sai."
"As you wish. But I still won't tell you my name. You can remember it on your own, if you try hard enough." she interrupted.
"Is there a reason for this? Some kind of game maybe?"
"No, not really. I just...I just want you to remember my name on your own. Can't a girl be allowed a little selfishness?"
"Well, given our supposed history, I can tell that you must be close to my age so you should be old enough alre-"
"Did you just say I was old?" she asked with aggression in her tone.
From my personal experience, I have learned that it is never good to say that a woman was old, no matter how true it might be. Given the situation, I didn't think it would be an issue though.
"Uh, no, I just meant to say that, um, never mind."
"That's what I thought. Now that you're done, I guess I owe you an explanation now. First of all, I am a member of a branch family of the Chemosh. I am sure you are already aware of the multiple branches and that each one has a purpose to serve for the main family. Our purpose was to provide suitable spouses for the heirs of the main family. For generations, that has been our task."
She paused for a moment before continuing again. There seemed to be some hesitance in her eyes.
"But there have been times when the heir would choose to marry from outside the family. Such decisions are often met with considerable opposition from the Council of Elders. Your father was one such man to do so. Because your grandfather opposed the idea so much, your father chose to run away from the family to live with your mother. Soon after, you and your brother were born into the world, with no knowledge of the blood that flowed through your veins. I was born at about the same time as you and even though you were away from the family, it was still decided that I would be your future wife."
Once again she paused. I did not dare interrupt, choosing to save any questions I had for after she was completely finished. I merely stared intently at her face as she spoke again.
"When news of his grandchildren's birth reached him, your grandfather decided to make amends. He had no other children and did not wish to transfer control of the family to his brother's child. Maybe you still remember his attempts to attain your father's good favor. Your father could not deny him interaction with you. Whatever had come to pass between them, they were still father and son. It took some time but your grandfather succeeded in regaining your father's trust. He even seemed to get along with your mother, who he once hated so much for taking your father away."
She paused for a longer time now, as if to catch her breath.
"Yeah, I remember some of that now. That must be the time from where I got the idea that my grandfather was a kind old man." I spoke out.
"In any case, this peace did not last long though. Your father still never returned to Chemosh Manor. After you turned five, your grandfather pleaded to be allowed to groom you to be a proper heir. At that proposition, everything fell apart. Your father realized that this may have been the sole reason for your grandfather making peace with him. He would not allow it and once again broke off ties with the family. By now, I was already being trained to become a suitable Chemosh wife. You cannot imagine what I was going through."
A few tears escaped her eyes but she wiped them away and continued with the story.
"After a few more years of trying to reason with your father, your grandfather was starting to lose hope. It was then that the accident which claimed your parents' lives occurred. To tell you the truth, I do not know the details of the accident, only that it was covered up by the family. Your grandfather took custody of you while he sent your brother to live with another branch family. It was then that your training to become a proper heir started and that's when we met soon after."
"I do remember meeting you back then. I actually thought maybe you were an angel sent to save me." I remarked, blushing a bit.
She smiled as I said that and now turned to face me. The fire was burning out by now but I could still make out her face in the dim light. She was smiling but her face showed me sadness.
" I was brought up to be the perfect complement to you, Simon; To be flame when you were cool; To be ice when you were fiery; To be your sword when you needed action; To be your sheath when you needed control; To stay in the background when you were acted; To take center-stage when you were subdued. All of these things to keep up with the blood of Chemosh. From the day my training started, I was told that all strong-blooded Chemosh were dangerously unstable people to be feared. The only thing to be expected from them was either complete dominance or unending death, sometimes both."
By now, her smile had completely disappeared. This would be the first time I heard more about the family ever since the days with Grandfather. The main idea of the Chemosh was not much different coming from someone else. Simply put, we were monsters.
"When I met you on that day, I could not see any of these in you. Despite the cruelty you endured, the severity of your situation, you always smiled when you looked at me. I actually started to think that maybe my role wasn't as much a curse as I thought it was. At least I was no longer alone in my suffering."
Her words right now pierced me deeply. I did not remember smiling that much at all. Maybe I had been doing it unconsciously. Maybe she just imagined it all. Maybe I just didn't remember. But a sudden wave of guilt hit me. I realized where her story was leading up to now.
"Then you started talking about escaping. That you could no longer take it anymore. And you wanted for me to escape with you. I was so happy when you asked me. I hoped for the future for the first time in my life. But I should've known better. There was no way to keep that plan a secret from your grandfather. Do you remember now, Simon?"
My vision hazed like before. I was remembering something. Something relevant.
"Hurry! We have to get out of the forest before they catch up to us!"
I could hear my heart beating as I held her hand tightly. My plan had failed. Just as we got to the other side of the outer walls, the spotlights blinded us and then there was Grandfather, his fury shown on his face. Despite all this, I resolved to still escape no matter what. Hell waited for me back there, especially now that I had attempted escape. I would never get the chance again.
From the trees in front of me, two guards appeared, wielding shock guns. Without hesitating, I pulled out a knife I stole from the kitchen and rushed into one of them. Caught by surprise, he quickly fell to the ground as my blade dug its way into his abdomen and so I grabbed his gun and fired on the other one. The shock must've been powerful as he fell to the ground with his mouth foaming. Having dispatched both guards, I looked at the girl I was running with. She was petrified at what I had just done. I thought nothing of the life I just took and reached out my hand. For a few seconds, she just stared at me with fear-filled eyes.
The sounds of rustiling leaves returned my attention to our pursuers. Not waiting any longer, I grabbed her hand and started running again. It seemed like hours before we finally exited the forest and reached the main road. I was about to continue running when I felt her tugging on me. She would not move from where she stood.
"What's wrong?! We have to keep moving!" I shouted at her, the fear of getting caught evident in my voice. Silence soon followed. I couldn't bear to leave her like this. God knows what they'd do if we were caught.
She muttered something. I leaned in closer to hear it.
I must've heard wrong. She can't have just said that.
"...just go now, Simon. If you leave me here...maybe I can buy you some time to get away..."
I couldn't believe I was hearing this now.
"What're you talking about now?! When I said we'd escape, I meant WE! The two of us!"
I started shouting at her, not caring how loud my voice was. i just couldn't stay calm.
"I'm...I'm glad you said that. And...I'm glad that you care so much for me. But I care just as much for you! And I can't let you be caught while I'm holding you back! If you had left without me, you'de be long gone by now!"
"But I couldn't just leave you there!"
"Which makes me so happy! That you think of me that much, to risk your own capture. But no more! I'll be fine. They won't kill me. But they might kill you, now that you've shown the desire to escape."
I held my head down. This was not a choice I wanted to make. I was torn. This was probably my only chance to escape. If I ran now, I could actually make it. But that would mean leaving her behind. This would mean I cared more for my own safety than for the promise I made to her to face whatever happened together.
"I won't blame you for breaking our promise. Just promise me something else."
I slowly raised my head. Tears were filling my eyes as I looked at her smiling face for the last time.
"At least remember me, okay?"
I hope this clears up a lot of mysteries. I haven't revealed much about the parents' deaths yet since that'll be a surprise for later. Writing this alone is kinda a drag. - Sai