Chapter 20

Chapter 20

A Chapter by Rocki-san

The cave had to of been the most foulest of places we’d ever dared to trek. Dark, dank, the odor of musk, death and decay all over the place, it didn’t exactly bring back fond memories. The atmosphere was heavy, making it hard to breath and it was so dark that I couldn’t even see the nose on my face.

Keno pulled out a flashlight but even that didn’t do any good. The light seemed to be swallowed up by the dusty darkness. Particles of sand, rock, and most likely decomposing skin swarmed the air we breathed. Now, even Kotori looked less than pleased to be on this case.

The ground was both slick and dry, yet another bad memory; this time, however, it was certain where the blood had come from but that didn’t mean I was more willing to think about it. The crumbling rock, coated with crimson, shifted underneath our boots as we dropped into the cave and started to descend.

“You okay?” Keno murmured to me as we moved slowly and delicately.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” I lied, swallowing back the fear and bile that were screaming to come up.

“If you want to turn back at any point, just let me know, okay?” Keno asked and I nodded. We walked blindly for a few minutes before coming to a split in the mountain.

“Damn it,” Logan muttered. None of us really wanted to split up, not here. The ogre had the advantage, the thing lived here, it made these tunnels, one wrong step and it could be the end of us.

“The ogre is down,” I muttered and everyone looked at their feet as if they could see the creature, hell, as if they could even see their feet. “And so are the people.”

“They’re still alive?” Keno asked and I shrugged knowing that he heard or felt the movement rather than saw. “We’ll need to break off then, make sure your transmitters are on.”

“Oz and I will take left,” Logan said and grabbed my arm.

“Be careful,” Keno wasn’t comfortable at all. The last time we’d split up he’d nearly died, he didn’t want a repeat of that and he definitely didn’t want Logan to be that repeat.

“You too,” Logan said and we split off, checked to make sure the transmitters worked, and continued on our way. Almost immediately Logan and I were going down and I knew that we’d gone the right way. The call we got only confirmed this.

“Kotori and I are going to head back your way,” the transmission was crackled with interference. “We’re just heading up.”

“Copy that,” Logan had stopped to take the call but I’d walked on a bit. I felt as though I couldn’t stop, if I kept moving then maybe it would be hard for the nightmares and feelings of dread to follow. If I kept moving, my thoughts would be kept on the here and the now, not the past and definitely not the future.

Something large and something extremely heavy hit me from above, causing me to skid down a few feet. There was a loud crashing, almost like that of a cannon ball smashing into the cliffs causing a landslide and then the sounds of hundreds of heavy feet filled the cave.

More dust billowed up around me, catching in my throat, making it ever harder to breath. I’d hit my arm hard and in a direction most unnatural for a human arm. The coughs that I’d been suppressing the last few weeks took over and it took me several minutes to calm my breathing and get out my flashlight.

“S**t.”

A cave in. A goddamn cave in had blocked the tunnel, separating Logan and I with large masses of rocks as the only barrier. I grabbed my transmitter quickly, I hadn’t heard it before but now it was going crazy.

“Logan what was that?” I could hear Keno on Logan’s transmitter but Logan was ignoring it.

“Ozzie? Ozzie are you there? Say something damnit!” Logan’s voice was panicked on my transmitter. I cleared my throat of the scratching dust before replying with a weakened, if not nearly invisible, voice.

“I’m okay,” I said.

“What is going on?” Keno had no doubt fell the mountain shake from the crumbling roof, he’d no doubt heard the rocks falling through the transmitter.

“Keno hurry your a*s down here, we’ve got a cave in. Ozzie and I were separated.” Logan said and I sat quietly, trying to get my bearings.

I didn’t like the cave, not in the slightest. I felt as though I were a prisoner again and I hated that feeling. “Keno?” I said quietly into the transmitter. “I’m ready to go back now.”

It was pointless because obviously I was stuck in the cave, but it was the only way I knew how to let him know of my discomfort.  

“Just stay there, Ozzie,” Keno replied and I stood up to dust myself off. Again, it was pointless but it’s not like I had anything else to do.

I pressed my ear against the rock to hear Keno and Kotori finally arrive and Logan starting to move the rocks, as heavy as they were. I looked up and pointed my flashlight to see a gaping hole in the roof.

“Guys,” I was losing my voice and damn quick. “This was not accidental.”

“Ogres,” Kotori sighed. “They have the way with rocks.”

“So we’re not going to be able to move these, are we?” Logan sighed.

“I don’t think so, but it looks like there is a tunnel above,” I said. “If you go the other way you may be able to find it.”

“We’re not leaving you for that long,” Keno said.

“It’s the only way to prevent another cave in!” I shouted and had another coughing fit. It was worse than the others I’d had and the pain that wracked my body actually caused me to drop to my knees.

“Ozzie?” Keno asked in both the transmitter and through the barricade.

“I’m okay,” I said with difficulty. “Just go around and there will be a hole right here, I’m going after the ogre.”

“No, you’re staying right there!” Keno said and I pulled out my transmitter, pulling it close so he could actually hear.

“The ogre obviously is interested in me,” I said and tried to clear my throat but it didn’t really do much. “Nothing is going to happen, Keno, I’ve got a thousand demons watching every step I take. If something does happen, they’ll stop it.”

“No.”

“Keno, there are people dying down there!” I said. “I need to at least make sure they’re okay!”

Keno was quiet for a minute but eventually let out a sigh and I nodded at his approval, even if he couldn’t see it.  I started down the path again, just as slow but more careful than before when Keno spoke into the transmitter again.

“Just be careful, would you?” he said. “You find the villagers and you stay there.”

“Yes ma’am,” I snorted but took his order to heart.

I continued down the tunnel stopping every five minutes to either give or receive an update from Keno. He was almost like an over protective mother on her child’s first day of school but I didn’t blame him for it.

As I moved down the eerie of something unnatural became ever more present but there was something else too. The feeling of energy, power, desperate to be used pushing through the rocks and causing the feeling of grabbing onto me.

I pushed it away, it took all my concentration, all my focus, to keep those lives away from me. I wasn’t going to use what use to be human. I wasn’t going to stoop that low. Ever.

Unfortunately, because it took all my focus, I wasn’t paying attention to much else. My surroundings, for one thing, I should have been paying particular attention to. Because I didn’t, I tripped.

I lay on the grimy ground, hitting the cave floor face first. It took me a few seconds before I regained my breath and sat up to see what I’d tripped on.

My heart sunk suddenly, bile was at the back of my throat threatening to come out. I covered my mouth and nose, realizing the horrendous stench in the air that came off the more than half decayed body. If it could even be called a body anymore. More like a mutilated carcass of something unidentified.

A small wave of panic ran through me as I jumped away from the corpse and I had to take a few minutes to calm down and resume my concentration.

“Oh my god,” I sighed and turned away from the sight quickly.

“What’s going on?” Logan asked and I just now realized that I was pressing the button.

“Nothing, nothing,” I took a deep breath and rubbed my eyes. “Just… a body.”

“We’re almost to the barricade again, just relax,” Keno said and took another breath.

“Right,” I muttered more to myself than to either of them. Again I started the meticulous task of walking blindly and pushing back the less-than-human tendencies I’d developed.

I was getting close, the life energy (I believe Kotori had called it ki?) was now surrounding me full force, pushing itself onto me and trying to jab through the wall I’d set up. It was too much, too overwhelming for me to be able to see that the ogre was just around the corner.

I was wrong. There definitely was a difference between ground trolls and mountain ogres.

Trolls were large, hard to miss, and clumsy. Ogres were just as large- if not larger-, hard to find, and extremely tricky. Oh, and they can climb.

It hovered above me in the tunnel, waiting to pounce on me as it had done before. I’d just managed to jump out of the way as it dropped from the ceiling, causing the ground to shake beneath it. Dense bones, dense skin, these things were definitely equipped for digging deep into mountains.

I held my aching shoulder, that was twice now that I’d landed on it wrong. It grew numb from both the times I’d landed on it and skidded across the ragged floor. It was a good thing I was left handed.

I stood up quickly and pulled out my transmitter, backing up quickly to put as much distance between myself and the ogre. They were extremely nearsighted but their eyes were also small and left room for a blind spot.

I just wish their smelling wasn’t so damn good.

“Uh, Keno?” My voice was hoarse, breathing labored as I tried to stay out of the ogres sight. “What if the ogre found me first?”

“God damnit,” who replied I don’t know. It wasn’t really a concern. A large, thick fist hit me, sending me flying down the tunnel. I had a few scrapes and cuts from skidding across rocks, maybe some serious bruising but I could still stand.

“What do I do?” I asked in a pained panic.

“Just get away from it, Ozzie!” Keno said with annoyance aimed towards the universe. “We’re almost there.”

“You realize this thing is faster, right?” I said but didn’t wait for his reply. I ran.

Another thing about ogres, even though they couldn’t see well with their eyes they could still feel vibrations and they could be very fast.

It caught up with me in seconds and pushed me down, nearly trampling over me. It turned and grabbed me in its large hands to throw me. It was just playing with me.

I didn’t move from where I’d landed unless it was slow, undetectable movements. I tried to silence my breathing as best I could and for the moment, the ogre looked lost. I found a crevice in the wall of the cave and just sat there, trying to catch my bearings, stop the pain, continue pushing the energy away and finally, think of a freaking strategy.

I turned off my transmitter, lest Keno’s worried ramblings give me away and waited until I heard their footsteps.

Where the hell are they? I thought to myself and looked down the tunnel to see the ogre disappeared. My heart was beating loudly and for a second I was actually worried that its obnoxious beats would give me away.

I stood up and once again carefully moved through the tunnels. I was closer to the people now, all I had to do was keep moving. Finally deciding it was safe, I pulled out the transmitter and turned it on.

“What the hell are you doing? Having a frigging tea party?” I said quietly but harshly.

“Oh, I am so sorry that we all could not be graced with your shortcut,” Kotori sniped.

“Would you just hurry up?” I snapped and froze as I heard something shift in the darkness.

“We’re now on your level,” Keno said. “Start heading this way.”

“Wait,” I said and moved around a corner. “I found the victims.”

“Fine, stay there,” Keno grumbled.

“I’m turning the transmissions off,” I said and did just that. I had to go into that small cavern, check on the villagers that were trapped inside but… I couldn’t.

The ki was strongest here. I felt sick to my stomach just standing at the entrance.

“You’re doing well to fight it,” I jumped and turned to see Hiero standing across from me.

“Don’t do that!” I hissed and he shrugged.

“I told you not to come here,” was his only reply.

“Shut up.”

“Ogres like demons,” Hiero said. “More so than humans and you’ve just intrigued it. They like the hunt of something that will actually fight back but you are fighting two battles right now. The ogre and yourself. You can’t win.”

“You’re not helping,” I muttered.

“No, I mean you can’t win the battle against yourself,” Hiero rolled his eyes. “You’re weakening, if you just let go of your goddamn stubbornness then you can heal yourself, kill the ogre and all’s well that ends well and all that peachy crap!”

“I’m not doing it,” I said and he grabbed my shoulder tightly, the one already injured, which I was sure he did on purpose.

“If you don’t then you will die, regardless of my help,” Hiero said. “Because I won’t help.”

“What about Master?” I asked.

“He’ll have to kill me,” Hiero shrugged indifferently.

“I hate you,” I sighed.

“Fight the ogre in this state for all I care,” Hiero said. “It makes no difference to me.”

“Are you saying that you just don’t care about me anymore?”

“Why should I? You don’t trust me, won’t listen to me, and frankly I’m tired of taking orders.”

I heard large, heavy steps nearby and froze. Hiero disappeared and I was left alone again. I pulled out my gun, the one that dad had given me, and waited quietly.

It didn’t really matter.

The ogre still managed to ambush me and sent me hurtling to the ground. I landed on one of the victims, a young man not much older than Keno. He was weak, only half alive and barely conscious.

“Help… me,” he wasn’t able to say the words, but I’d read his lips. I jumped back to look at the others, all in similar conditions, some already gone. There were seven of them here, the others that had been taken were probably just like the body of the person I’d seen earlier.

The ogre burst through to the room and I jumped back, shot at it, with little to no effect. The hand swiped at me again and as I fell, its large paw like hand held me down. Slowly crushing me with its immense weight.

Suffocating and being crushed, I was losing consciousness, losing my concentration and the wall slowly started crashing down to allow the energy to flow in.

Both hands were glowing now and before I could even think a huge wave of energy shot from my hand and the ogre was soon flying through the air, crashing into a wall. I gasped for breath and looked over to the victims to find that they were all gone.

My heart skipped a beat and I moved over to check the pulse of the young man. Nothing. I no longer felt the energy swimming around the room. It was all gone. No, it was still here.

It was just my energy now.

The ogre was still in the hole in the wall it had created when it crashed through. It was shaking its head, trying to shake off its daze before it started coming at me again. My hand, still glowing, rose up as if it were some instinct and another shot flew at the ogre.

It fell but that didn’t stop me. I shot at it again, weakening it until it almost couldn’t lift its head. And then, I finished it.

I fell back against the wall and slid to the floor. Tears were flowing down my cheeks though I barely felt them, I only knew I was crying because of the blurred vision. I pulled my knees to my chest.

“You told me to fight,” I didn’t look up at Hiero. I was really getting tired of him appearing and disappearing like this. “When you yourself can’t even do it. I wasn’t trying to break you into Master’s will.”

“Then why?” I asked and felt his hand on my shoulder, this time much softer.

“You have to learn to pick your battles, Oskar,” he said. “You need to put aside your childish notions in order to survive in this world. If you can’t protect yourself then how are you going to stop Master?”

“If I keep turning into a demon then how am I going to stop him?” I retorted and Hiero sighed.

“Ozzie?” I could hear the three of them running down the tunnel and I looked up at Hiero.

“Better vanish,” I muttered and watched as he stood and held out a hand to help me up. I looked at it for a minute, contemplating.

He said he was almost like a brother to my father, hell they were just as close as I was with my brothers by Hiero’s description.  He was mostly demon now, but it seemed like, at heart, he was still human. He wanted help, just as much as he wanted to help me but couldn’t.

Pick your battles.

I took the hand and he helped me up before vanishing. I was still weak, bruised mostly but cracked bones had completely healed and wounds had healed over from the stolen energy.

“There you are,” Logan grumbled but stopped when he saw what was left of the ogre.

“What happened?” Kotori asked.

“It attacked me,” I muttered and started towards the exit.

“Wait,” Keno said, stopping me in my tracks. “What about the victims?”

“They didn’t make it,” I said quietly and continued walking.

 

We’d made it back to Headquarters soon afterwards and spent a few days resting; allowing my arm to once again gain mobility. It’d been dislocated, relocated, bruised to hell but, as Ila was sure to point out, it “could have been a lot worse” and by “could have been” she really meant “should have been.”

Keno wanted to talk about that, I really should have been in a worse condition and I was until the whole stealing energy from dying people. Even if I’d wanted to tell them about it, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

My arm was now in a sling regardless of what “could have been” or “should have been.”

Now, we were all walking to meet up with General Bennett at the CCOR base. We had to get help and soon, I’d made that clear when we’d gotten back. We needed to act and act fast before I did anything more that was less-than-human. I wanted to end this quickly, Bennett could help us with that.

Logan was grumbling about the cold, as usual, and Keno was lecturing him about something or other while Kotori was looking all around. I’d never been to Sa’hariel but by the way he was treating our country I could see it was much different.

“You shouldn’t be that cold,” Keno said thoughtfully. “I mean, you are a hothead.”

“Listen you,” Logan pointed threateningly at Keno but the rest of his words became muffled. I stopped walking suddenly, feeling incredibly dizzy and lightheaded. A loud ringing resounded throughout my ears and my legs felt weak until my knees buckled and I leaned against the nearest building.

None of them seemed to notice that I’d stopped but continued walking and talking. Their lips were moving but I didn’t hear anything they were saying. The cloud that had enveloped my sight soon turned into a blinding light which caused an intense headache.

“Ah,” I covered my eyes from the pain and instantly felt hands on my shoulders as I slid to the ground. What was happening? It was a question that was the first thing to pop through my mind but then, it was almost answered. I felt as though I already knew.

I was fading, and I was fading fast.

They would be yelling at me, trying to get me to respond. “What?” I said or thought I said, who really knew anymore?

Who really cared?

“They do” I told myself as I felt one of them, probably Keno, picking me up. It was like drowning, just like drowning actually and I would know, wouldn’t I?

It almost happened twice. Right? I couldn’t remember

It felt as though my lungs were screaming, my throat closing to prevent anything from coming in. It was hard to focus, hard to think about anything except “I’m going to die,” then there came the next part, the scariest of all: Complete bliss.

You let go of everything, your panic and your fears. You were fine with the fact you were dying, you cared about nothing else except that death. You begged for it, laughed at it, and your whole life forgotten. It was like you were already dead.

I felt my body freeze, a seizure taking hold of my body. I had no control over my limbs and felt my teeth ground together painfully until my whole body went numb.

And it all went dark.




© 2010 Rocki-san



Author's Note

Rocki-san
Sorry.. I've been a bad updater... *ashamed* but.. I've had a lot going on... a crappy roommate, crappy classes... a slight obsession and a little bit of depression for actually finishing this...
I will update... soon..
I will... TRY... to update soon..

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Added on November 16, 2010
Last Updated on November 16, 2010


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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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