Chapter 14

Chapter 14

A Chapter by Rocki-san

The whistle of the train startled me out of my tired stupor, I looked out the window just in time to see the station at HQ begin to roll by. So many times I’d seen it rolling in and out and, yet, I didn’t think I would ever see it again. I sighed and looked at my watch, just about now Logan or Kotori would be waking up to see my empty bed. Logan would go to Keno, thinking I went there, I was glad that I wouldn’t see his surprised face when he saw that I wasn’t.

How long will they look for me? I wondered to myself with chin resting in my hand as snowy fields and cows desperately grazing for the last bits of grass passed by. Keno and Logan would probably never give up, not until the day they died-or I did. Both were pretty determined and stubborn, it was a personality trait that went along with the purple eyes.

I sighed and leaned back in the uncomfortable seat. I didn’t really need the first class arrangement; in fact, it would probably be better if I hadn’t but I needed to be alone. I wouldn’t have been able to stand the stares of my fellow travelers.

“So, you decided to come, just in time too.” I jumped at the voice and looked up to see Hiero. Crossing my arms in a huff I looked out the window again just as it started to snow.

“What are you doing here?” I muttered. “I’m coming so you don’t really need to stalk me anymore. You won, okay? I give up so stop rubbing it in my face.”

“Sorry, kiddo, I have to make sure you reach my Master in one piece,” he looked out the window just as I did with his arms also crossed but in a more casual manner. All the spiteful glee that I’d come to know as part of his character disappeared and now left a professional glower. “Until this is all over my job is not complete.”

“What do you demons need me for?” I asked. I’d asked it before and it seemed that I wouldn’t be getting any closer to the answer since Hiero completely ignored it. I looked back out the window but everything was just a blur of muted colors and dark skies. The snow came down heavily enough that I could actually hear the flakes beating against the window. “You killed my mother.”

“Is this your idea of small talk?” He said without moving his umber eyes from the window. After a moment he finally relented. “And I killed nobody. Tried, yes, but I never successfully killed anyone. Your brother may  or may not be the first.”

“You were the one who grabbed Logan at Kuromura, right?” I asked and he nodded.

“I thought it was kind of ironic since I had to save you from the same fate.” He tried for a smile but it didn’t work out too well. So there had been someone pushing me up that day on the river, it wasn’t a slip of the imagination of a dying boy. “I also sent the ghoul after him. It was supposed to go for the blonde one first but it was attracted to Red.”

There was silence again save for the clacking of the train against the rails, I’d always thought it was a comforting sound but now it just seemed daunting. It was the sound of distance, the sound of me getting farther and farther away from my brothers, the only remnants of a home that I had. I felt my chest tightening, I felt claustrophobic in the tiny room, the snow causing a shroud that kept me in. It was the first, no, the second time that I’d ever felt alone. I hated that feeling.

For a moment I didn’t realize that I was still watching Hiero, I’d thought that I’d turned back to the window ages ago. He ignored my stares and continued to watch the land pass us by. I’d never really gotten a calm look of Hiero, I was always in the situation where I couldn’t really pay him much heed but now I could see the difference in his eyes from all the other demons, how his ears were rounded instead of pointed. He looked almost familiar to me but I couldn’t think of where I’d seen him. He was still wearing the tank top, despite the harsh blizzard outside but the blue marks that I’d seen at Normont were no longer there. The scar on his cheek, however, still blazed.

“I used to be human, you know,” he said so quietly and unexpectedly that I almost didn’t catch it.

“What?” I blurted with disbelief. He let out a humorless chuckle.

“Amazing, isn’t it? How I can be neither human nor demon but an unnatural hybrid that not only goes against the morals of either peoples but against nature itself?” Again he laughed sullenly at the irony.

“But,” I started without having a full question at the ready. Finally, the one-word question found its way through the jumbled mess of my brain. “How?”

Again Hiero was silent, I wasn’t sure if he’d just ignored the question or if he hadn’t heard it over his own thoughts. Maybe he was just letting the reality of what he just said really sink in. He was part human, or used to be anyway, and his humanity was tainted with demonic genes. There wasn’t a human in the world who didn’t hate demons, sure, the Sa’harielans tolerated them but to us there was nothing more evil than a demon. But Hiero, Hiero was stuck in a never ending limbo of DNA. A contradictory mix of human and demon, black and white. What little humanity there was left of him could probably barely handle that. But, if he was once human, then he knew what it was like to have a conscience, to have human feelings. Maybe it were true that Keno would be the first human Hiero had ever killed but then again maybe he wasn’t. Everything all made sense now though, why transmitters, designed to find demons, couldn’t pick up on him but I could.

“I hate it,” he muttered the ironic smile disappearing and replaced with a deep frown. “It always feels as though I’m torn in two. One side of me wants to do horrible things, demon things, but the human side doesn’t. It’s small, diminishing more each day, but luckily the human side usually wins.”

“If you hate it so much, then why do you follow this ‘Master’ of yours?” I asked, hoping there was a way out of this. Hiero pointed to the blue scar on his cheek indifferently.

“Because demons don’t have the luxury of free will,” he said matter-of-factly. “Especially when they’re slaves.”

From his bitter tone I decided to not further that particular conversation. I didn’t really know where we were going, I’d just left as I’d been expected to do. I was guessing it was Hiero’s job to lead me to where I needed to go, whether or not I needed to know didn’t matter. I was going to ask anyway.

“Where are we going, exactly?” I asked.

“Just relax and enjoy the ride, would you, kid?” he said with annoyance and closed his eyes, ending any other conversations and questioning.

An hour later and we switched trains going from north to east. I checked my watch, just past midnight, I hadn’t eaten since the day before I left and yet I wasn’t all too hungry but that didn’t stop Hiero from ordering me food.

“You need the energy,” he said but didn’t sit down. “I’m going to give the train a once-over.”

“Why?” I asked. Usually that was something we did to ensure there were no demons.

“Just because,” he said and left. I was beginning to like the chipper, if not annoying, Hiero better than this one.

Just before I took a bite of the questionable, yet familiar train food, I could hear the beeping of my transmitter.

“Where are you?” Logan’s strained calm, but very angry, voice spoke as soon as I connected him.

“On a little trip,” I said, trying to sound indifferent but coming out as ashamed.

“Where?” He demanded but before I could answer him his transmitter was handed to someone else.

“What’s going on, Oskar? We’ve been searching for you all day,” it was Keno’s voice.

“You should be-”

“And you should be here,” he interrupted with authority before I could say ‘hospital.’ “Now what’s going on? Why did you leave?”

“Because,” I muttered, unsure of what to say.

“That‘s not an answer, what is going on?” Keno sighed with annoyance. I looked over to make sure the door was shut tightly and let out a sigh of my own.

“I know,” My words were so quiet, I wasn’t really quite sure if I’d said them. Silence was on the other end, either Keno hadn’t heard me or at least wished he hadn’t.

“What?” his voice cracked, more than uncharacteristic for Keno because I didn’t even think it was possible. He always knew what to say, always had confidence but now all that leadership seemed to leave him.

“I know, Keno,” I said darkly and the other line was silent again.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he muttered finally.

“I know everything, Keno!” I said with anger, pushing my food away. “I know about the demons and I know about me.”

“Oskar-”

“Why did you lie to me?” I asked, tying to ignore the tears that threatened to spill over my cheeks. Male egos… they were killer sometimes.

“What do you think you would have done if I’d told you?” Keno replied quietly. I’d already known how he was going to answer my question but it was one of those things that I was expected to ask by an unknown force. I would’ve given up if Keno had told me, blamed myself and been distant. Sure, I basically did all those things but Keno couldn’t be the bearer of this bad news in this case, not to me.

“When?” I sighed.

“Wha-”

“When did you find out?” I asked angrily. He knew what I was asking, he was just being difficult.

“Not long after…” he cleared his throat. “The raid. I could connect the pieces so I just kept my eye on you and figure out what to do.”

“And even though you were dying you wouldn’t say anything?” I shouted.

“No,” he said curtly. “Now, what are you doing?”

“What I have to do,” I muttered.

“No, you’re coming back here, now. What train are you on?” He asked.

“Sorry,” I said sadly. “But I have to do this, Keno, there’s no other way. No matter what I do they’ll always find me. If I’m not around then they’ll leave you guys alone.”

Silence again, he was thinking, thinking of anything that would make me come back and not give in. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could say.

“Um, I just…” I paused but continued with difficulty. “I just want to thank you and Logan, you know, for everything and I guess this is goodbye.”

“Oskar, wait-”

Hiero grabbed the transmitter from my hand and disconnected the call without a word. He opened the window and tossed the transmitter outside to clatter against the snow and smash into pieces.

“I was only saying goodbye, the tracking doesn’t work anymore, remember?” I said. I’d been able to say farewell, but my brother’s hadn’t; it was weird to think that something so little as a simple goodbye could be missed so. I actually felt empty without it.

“Sorry,” he replied without sincerity as he sat down. “I have orders. Eat.”

“My name is not Hansel, in case you were wondering,” I muttered sarcastically to myself.

“And I’m not a mean old witch, their just sulky old ladies with a big pot and large nose anyway.” Hiero said and started whistling an old tune that I could remember my mother humming as she did her work.

“So, you won’t tell me what your…Master wants with me?” I asked and he shook his head. “Because it’s an order or you just don’t want to?”

“You’ll find out soon enough.”

 

We were so far southeast now that I had no idea which town I was in. We’d landed at an east station and just headed south from there. The town we were in looked to be some kind of backwater desert town, almost deserted. There wasn’t as much snow, just a small frost that permeated the ground and a slight chill. Hiero had me sit and wait while he found us a car. I was leaning against a tree before he finally showed up in an old beat up car.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“I don’t know, a tiny little border town that no one cares about. Let’s go!”

Hiero drove back up north until we were in a dense forest where green trees had turned to white from the snow. The trees were so plentiful that their dead branches loomed over the broken down road to create an unnerving, sinister tunnel. 

“We just went around in a circle,” I said and looked at Hiero.

“Almost,” he replied. “Your brothers are following us, I’m trying to keep them off our trail.”

We stopped suddenly in that spooky forest, Hiero parked the car on the side of the snow covered road and got out. I watched him for a minute and it wasn’t until he stopped to look at me that I realized that we’d reached our destination.

As soon as I stepped out of the car, Hiero pushed it over the edge of the road and down the ditch where it rolled to its top, the sound of cracked saplings and shattering glass filling the silence of winter. I looked over at Hiero just as the car came to rest right-side-up but compacted and crushed.

“My stuff was still in there!” I said.

“You don’t need it,” Hiero grumbled. “Now, hurry up, Master doesn’t like to wait.”

We walked across the road and went through the forest. There were no signs of any animal life, no tracks in the snow, nothing. The snow was deep, up to my knees but it was light which made it easier to trek through.

“I’m going to go ahead,” Hiero said.

“Wait, how am I supposed to find where we’re going?” I asked, my breath misting in the cold.

“Just keep walking straight,” Hiero said. “You’ll find it.”

He started to walk off but stopped to turn and look back at me. He walked over and touched my shoulder. “When you meet him,” he started with sincerity that this time didn’t need questioning. “Try your hardest not to look.”

“Why?” I asked. He said nothing but the look on his face was answer enough. He disappeared into the frozen wonderland, leaving me in the silence.

I continued to trudge through the snow, my legs numb and fingers tingling from the intense cold. I stuffed my hands under my arms, trying to keep them warm. The thought of frostbite and my fingers falling off suddenly came to mind, making me paranoid. I’d walked for half an hour and Hiero had neither come back or had been found and I was getting frustrated.

“What the hell?” I grumbled. “He ditched me! That son of a-”

I took my next step and suddenly fell through a chasm, hidden by roots and snow. I landed on my spine in a dark chamber where the ground was still frozen but much warmer than at the surface. Dust had scattered about the naturally made room. I wiped the dirt from my face to find that the alcove lead to a tunnel that was dark, almost pitch black.

A dark, ominous feeling radiated from the tunnel. My heart skipped a beat, my stomach churning just from standing near the entrance. This was where I was supposed to go but my legs refused to pick me up and take me through. I stood and walked over to the opening, pulling out my penlight to look inside but the small light barely put a dent in the darkness.

“Hiero?” I called quietly but the menacing feeling was my only answer. I sighed. “Yeah, this is definitely the place.”

There was a lift to the channel as I stepped through the opening. The walls and floor were rugged, the rock and dirt scarred from long, sharp claws that had penetrated through it. I took another step and slid down a few feet before catching myself but not before covering myself in scratches from the sharp rocks. The tunnel was on an incline and it was slick. It wasn’t until now that I noticed the stench of death and decay. Blood. I’d slipped on muck and blood, from what I couldn’t be sure but I didn’t stop to figure it out.

I stood slowly, using a hand propped against the wall to prevent myself from falling again. I used my penlight to look around the passageway again when it suddenly flickered before I was left in the darkness. I stopped to smack the light a couple times, trying desperately to get it to turn back on but with little luck.

“Piece of crap,” I muttered to myself before stuffing it in my pocket. I started down again, slowly but surely, using both hands to feel my way around. Suddenly, something out of the darkness reached out and grabbed my ankles, pulling my feet out from under me and sending me down the tunnel as if it were a spine-chilling slide to hell.

I hit the bottom hard, the wind temporarily knocked out of me. I sat up slowly and found that I was in a large cavern with just enough light for me to see the dripping stalactites and the jagged stalagmites that cluttered the room.

“We don’t like to wait, no, we don’t.” The voice was soft but it was creepy. It was a hissing coo that came from the walls.

“Hello?” I said, I couldn’t see where the voice originated from. A black mass of smog suddenly materialized and surrounded me. The black mass circled around me, holding me in my place, keeping me from running in fear. It let go of me and started to form into a figure but remained black. It was nine feet tall and thin the claws that had dug out the tunnel formed on its hands and I could now see its eyes. They were fierce, a metallic silver like that of liquid mercury and they appeared empty.

I jumped back, tripping over a broken stalagmite. Sure, I’d seen many terrifying things in my day but this thing took the cake. Even in its current form it appeared to be nothing but a black smoke and yet it was solid, I learned that when its claw caressed my chin.

“Mine,” it whispered with the same coo and pulled its claws back to taste my blood. The night of the raid ran through my mind after that one word and I could suddenly remember the demon that had grabbed me, tasted me in a similar manner. It gurgled the same word. I remembered the black mass, the long black claws, but I had never seen its eyes but its voice always rung true in my dreams. “Did we frighten you, my pet?”

I pushed the clawed hands that had come for my throat again away with revulsion. “I’m not your pet.” I said and found myself pressed up against the wall. “I’m here so now you will heal my brother and leave them alone.”

“Yes, my pet,” the demon crooned with boredom before stroking the top of my head. “Hiero.”

“Yes, Master?” Hiero appeared beside me but didn’t dare to spare a glance in my direction.

“The blonde,” Master sighed. “Make him well.”

“Master?” Hiero quirked an eyebrow and ignored my glare. “I thought you said that we weren’t going to-”

“Feel his spirit,” Master said. “It has grown significantly with hope. We have decided to let them live as long as they stay away. It makes our pet well.”

“Yes, Master,” Hiero said and disappeared.

“What do you want with me?” I asked, uneasy with the way the demon continued to stare at me.

“In due time, my pet,” it soothed and then turned to the far wall where the light illuminating the cavern originated. I moved over to look in a large pool of dark sludge, I covered my nose from the stench just as a claw began to swirl the liquid around.

The mire suddenly turned into a scene of a winter forest. The one I’d just been walking through and there, trudging through the snow, was Keno and Logan. The blizzard had picked up, the wind blowing them around and the snow hindering their vision. Logan was helping Keno walk and I could see that my eldest brother had really taken a turn for the worse. He could barely stand on his own but still he pushed on until he fell into the snow. Even with Logan and Kotori helping him, he struggled to get back up.

“They are persistent,” Master said. “Maybe we don’t have to kill them ourselves after all, no we don’t. Hiero, make sure to hide the entrance.”

The large demon turned to me as I watched in horror while my brothers slowly froze just outside. How had they found me so quickly?

“Blood of deer and psychic meat puppets,” Master cackled. “We can see anything we want, yes we can, my pet.”

The claw reached over to stroke my cheek and my muscles tensed up until my body shook. I could hear my heart pounding in my chest as the mercury eyes watched me with glee. It started to pat my head as if I really were one of its pets.

“Shall we get started?” Master chortled and moved away from the pool. I heard the demon turn to look at me and I sighed.

“Yeah,” I muttered and also turned from the sight of my brothers.

I stood there, facing the demon who grinned a black-fanged grin. It held up its claws towards me and a black mist flowed from the claws to surround me as it had done before. I barely felt my feet leave the ground and my whole body became numb, just as my mind did. Not a single thought went through my mind and I was once again submerged in that state of feeling as though you didn’t exist.

A tingling ran through my body, as if both ice and fire ran through my veins instead of blood. My head felt as though it were about to burst as a loud ringing filled my ears from an immense pressure I couldn’t explain.

“Oskar!” I was knocked down from the force field that had held me. An intense headache and the sight of blonde hair brought me back to reality. I heaved violently from the pain, despite having little to throw up. Keno patted my back and I realized that he was holding me as support. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” I lied. “I’ll be fine.”

“Good,” he said. “Because after this I’m going to kick your-”

“Hello? We could use some help over here!” I looked over to see Kotori and Logan fighting the demon back.

“Don’t move,” Keno warned and stood up, though stiffly. He was still hurting but he already looked better. Logan had brought out the big guns and explosive rounds. “Don’t use those! You’ll cause a cave in!”

“It’s the only thing that’ll bring this sucker down!” Logan said only to be swiped to the side and crash into the wall, taking a few columns with him.

“Amateur,” Kotori scoffed and shot an arrow out of his crossbow, the point embedding into one of the mercury eyes. The demon screeched, the sound ringing throughout the cave. Kotori turned to Logan with a smirk. “An iron arrowhead doused in holy water works just fine.”

“Shut up,” Logan muttered and stood up while Kotori shot at Master again.

The demon turned to me, his mercury eyes taking me in before he started shuffling towards me with an outstretched hand.

“Mine,” he hissed. “My pet!”

Keno jumped between the demon and I with the same sword he’d taken out of our house. Master looked at it thoroughly and then disappeared suddenly, the pool disappearing along with him. My arms shook as I started to get up; Keno helped me up the rest of the way and let me lean on him for support.

“What were you thinking?” Keno said with annoyed anger.

“Hey, you’re better now, aren’t you?” I said and wiped the blood that started to trickle from my mouth. “And I’m still alive, I get kudos, right?”

“No,” Keno narrowed his eyes.

“What the hell else was I supposed to do?” I retorted. “You were dying and it was my fault did you just expect me to sit there and take it?”

“Yes!” Keno said but sighed, relenting. “The whole point was that the demons weren’t going to bring you into their sick and twisted plans, whatever they may be. There was no guarantee that they were going to keep their end of the deal!”

“But they did,” I said, leaving the fact that they almost didn’t in my back pocket.

“I’m not arguing about this right now,” Keno sighed and touched his chest, making sure he was truly alright. He was still trying to help me walk but I pushed him away, I may have teetered but I had my teenage pride to worry about. “Let’s get going.”

“How did you guys find me so quickly?” I asked.

“I put a bug on you,” Logan said apathetically. “A little, tiny tracking device.”

“That’s something I’d expect from Keno,” I glared at Logan. “Sheesh!”

“I’m paranoid, what can I say?” Logan shrugged.

“What is sad is that you take pride in that,” Kotori shook his head.

I stopped abruptly and it took the others a few seconds to realize that I had. I leaned against the wall, needing the sudden support of something sturdy as my hand went to my chest. My heart beat faster and faster, abnormally so and then it just seemed to stop beating completely. My lungs refused to work as my throat burned and closed up, denying air to enter.

“What’s wrong?” Keno asked, his words seemed distant as if he were in another room. Spots obstructed my vision and I felt incredibly dizzy.

“I think,” I paused for a labored breath. “I’m dying.”




© 2010 Rocki-san



Author's Note

Rocki-san
Yay! another chapter! Sorry it took so long... I was trying to get ahead again and ended up writing myself into a corner... ah sugar honey ice tea...

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Added on September 5, 2010
Last Updated on September 5, 2010
Tags: ANWA saga, sci-fi, supernatural and occult


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Rocki-san
Rocki-san

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Hey, I'm Rocki! I live on a 14-mile long island where there isn't really anything to do so I write. I'm an Anthropology major and willing to read your stories or books if requested as long as you give.. more..

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