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Chapter 38: Adversity

Sickness, Hunger, Envy, Greed, Betrayal, Old Age, Death. These are the adversities that humanity constantly faces every day.


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"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.


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"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.

"Get down!"

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."


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"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."


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Next chapter in a bit. - Sai

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