Mar 11, 2016

Black Stained Winter: Chapter 16 - "Foreign"

“Ignis, is that you?” Ren asks the man in black suit and armor in front of him. He recognizes his voice even though it’s slightly muffled by the mask.

“Yeah,” the mask opens in the middle of the face and slides sideway revealing Ignis’s face, “It’s me.”

“What’s with the suit?”

“New stuff from Gerogom. Ah,” Ignis leans sideway a bit and tries to look pass Ren. Ren turns and see Lyon already walks away.

“Keep on talking, go on. Those trespassers will wait for us,” says Lyon without even stopping. “Useless bunch,” the words whispered just before she dashes away and soon gone from the view. The two man on the rooftop are left alone together by the blonde swordswoman.

“So, who’s that?” Ignis frowns curiously as he turns to Ren.

“Lyon, a girl I met several minutes ago,” Ren reaches to his pocket and, like always, pull out a pack of toothpicks and take one out and bite it.

“That’s not helping.”

“Well, can’t help more than that. She’s strong, I give you that. This, “ Ren points to a dead white beast with his thumb, “was her doing.”

“Not half bad.”

“Not at all. But her attitude needs some help though.”

Ignis chuckles, “You got that right.”

The two man look around from the high rooftop and see the vast city lays before them to the horizon. “We can’t cover this much area,” Ren mumbles. There’s only a handful of them while the city is too big.

“Hey, how many do you think are there people like us and that woman?” Ignis asks suddenly.

“You mean people with powers normal people don’t have?” Ren asks back which is replied with a nod from Ignis. “Quite a lot. I’ve seen several others in the city. Who knows how many exactly are there hiding their existence? Though, I’m not sure a lot of them care about this kind of incident.”

“You have a point. They don’t really have the obligation to protect the city, do they?”

“So do we, in that matter.”

“But we choose to protect it anyway, right?”

“Sort of.”

“Well, let’s hope they choose to protect the city. If not, we’re gonna see dragons and chimeras on news soon.”

“Hey,” Ren face looks serious, “Do you think there are people who are watching over the city in the shadow?”

“You mean, like us?”

“No. I mean, someone with more power and more influence. Someone who are really powerful. Someone with plans and trying to keep everything under control.”

“Who are you suggesting?” Ignis asks with confusion visible on his face.

“The Raven.”

“The Raven?” Ignis’s face shows even more confusion when he hears the name. He simply has no idea who or what Ren is talking about.

“Remember the big talking crow with glowing red eyes you were talking about?”

“Yes. Is that the Raven?”

“It could be. It told me something bad will happened and it happens. It told you to bring me to Gerogom place and now, although I hate to admit it, I’m glad you brought me there. It’s as if this crow is guiding and watching over us.”

“That just an oversized crow!”

“Controlling a familiar from afar is not uncommon, isn’t it?”

“You got a point there,” Ignis folds his arms with thoughts running around on his head. “So, why do you call it, or him, whatever, the Raven?”

“That blonde girl, Lyon, called me ‘one of the Raven’s guy’ when she saw me.”

“Hm, that’s really curious,” Ignis seemingly falls into deep thought. “If she called you that,” he adds, “doesn’t that mean that she’s under someone else’s watch? Just like us being watched by that Raven guy.”

“That is quite possible. That’s why she already here before us. Somebody else gave her guidance.”

“So,” Ignis puts his hands on his hip, “What should we do with this dead beast? We can’t just leave it here, right?”

And before Ren can reply, something catches his attention. He raises his head and looks up to the sky. Loud caws can be heard coming from above. Ignis turns to the source of the sounds and sees a group of black birds flies toward them while making loud noises.

“Wait, they’re coming here, right? Um, should we go?” Ignis isn’t sure what to do.

“Don’t worry. Just watch,” Ren looks calm with both of his hands tucked inside his bright red jacket. He had been in this kind of situation before.

The group of crows flapping their wings as they land on the corpse of the dead beast. Without any delay, they start pecking the unmoving beast ferociously. Blood splatters everywhere as the birds tear the fleshes apart. Cracking sounds can be heard as bones broken into pieces and eaten by the black bird.

“How long have you been living here?” Ignis suddenly asks an out-of-nowhere question as they watch a ‘cleaning’ in progress.

“Years, why?”

“I’ve been here for years too, yet somehow for the last few days, this city feels so foreign to me,” Ignis’s eyes glued to the moving black things ripping apart the dead beast in front of them. Not long after, the crows fly away with a lot of noises. Behind them, there’s no sign of the beast anywhere except for some blood stained the roof. The group of crows flies away from view, going as fast as they come.


“Hah!” A hard palm strikes the jaw of a red scaled canine-like creature from below. The two meters high beast’s head snap upward with a loud crack sound before its whole body fall down to the ground with a thump. Rick, the owner of the palm, lets out a long breath and breaks out of his stance.

He has been punching and defeating many kinds of otherworldly creatures for the last hour. And each time after a creature died, a group of crows came and devoured all remains until what’s left is nothing more than just splatters of blood. And right now, inside the Great Green Park, he watches as a group of crows yet again descents from the sky and pecks, tears, and eliminates the creature he just killed.

“Still no sign of Ren?” He asks the pink haired girl behind him.

The girl raises her head to put her nose high and starts sniffing around. “Nope,” Tama answers with confident.

“He’s late,” Rick drops down to sit on the ground. He leans back and use both of his hands to support his body.

Tama walks passed Rick in a refined movement befits her elegance appearance. She turns to left and then right looking around before turns to Rick, “Do you think something happens to him?” As she spins, her blue kimono flails gracefully, complementing her already beautiful appearance.

Rick stunned. The way Tama’s moved has captured his attention. He knew that Tama is beautiful, yet the way she just moved is simply elegant. Rick suddenly realizes that all this time he’s going around accompanied by a refined and elegant woman. This sudden realization occupies his mind to the point that he forgot to reply Tama.

“Hm? What’s wrong, Mr. Hobo?” Tama leans forward to look closer to Rick who’s sitting on the ground.

“Uh, err,” seeing Tama getting closer turns Rick’s face red slowly. He abruptly stands and turns around to hide his face from Tama. “You’ve seen him fight, haven’t you? I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.”

“Un, I guess you’re right.” Tama nods in agreement.

“Hm?” Suddenly, something looks like catching Tama’s attention. She’s looking around restlessly while sniffing every now and then. “This is…”

“What’s wrong, Tama?” Before Rick gets his answer, Tama runs away with her pink hair flailing about. “Hey,” Rick instantly runs after Tama.

Not long after, they reach an opening in the Park. This part of the Park is wavy; hills up and down cover the area. The hills are not high but enough to make the area uneven and wavy. On top of one of those hills, sit a girl in a white kimono. Her short white hair shines under the sunshine. On her head a pair of white rabbit ears can be seen with one of them bends down. Her head is raised with her red eyes fixated to the moon that already out in the middle of the day. Slowly her lips move, “It looks the same.” The girl whispers in a soft voice that Rick and Tama can’t hear her.

“Usami!” Tama waves and runs upward the hill to reach the rabbit girl. Hearing a familiar voice, the girl moves her eyes from the moon and looks down toward the source. Seeing the pink haired young woman clads in a blue kimono, the rabbit girl is surprised and almost jump from her sitting position.

“Tama-sama,” the rabbit girl cover her gaping mouth from surprise and excitement with her kimono covered hand. Her kimono sleeves are longer than her arm and hide the girl’s arms inside it.

Tama reaches her arms out and hugs Usami tightly. The rabbit girl, Usami, bewilders from Tama’s sudden hug. Red shades start appearing on her white face as the hug continues. After several seconds of hug, Tama lets her go and smiles at her.

Behind Tama, Rick stands with some distance to give the two girls some space. He can’t help to overhear the two girls speaking though. Unfortunately for him, they aren’t speaking in English. They’re speaking in a language that Rick doesn’t understand. But, he feels somewhat familiar with how the language sound. He’s almost sure that they are speaking one of the language that is used here on earth. He’s guessing Japanese.

The two girls turn to Rick after they’re done speaking. Usami bows with both of her hands neatly placed in front of her, “Hajime-, ah, I mean, name is Usami. Thank you for helping Tama-sama.” The girl speaks English with an obvious accent. Her grammar also not that great. It seems like she’s not too fluent in English.

“Tama-’sama’?” Rick is confused with a new word that he believes is Japanese.

“Ah, that because Tama-sama has a high position than me. ‘Sama’ is use to show respect,” Usami raises from bowing while explaining with a gentle smile. Although with visible grammar mistakes and accent, her gentle and deep voice shows her polite personality. Her calm demeanor feels like the opposite or perhaps the balancer of Tama high-spirited upbringing.

“Oh, is that so?” Rick takes a glance on Tama with slight disbelief. He’s not sure what to think hearing a girl that he always see as carefree and childish being held in high regard by a polite girl like Usami.

“That is true. Tama-sama is a gate guardian. Only selected people chosen as a guardian. And it is not easy to be chosen,” Usami looks at Tama with eyes glittering in admiration. Rick looks at Usami in surprise. Is Tama really that important in spiritrealm?

“It’s not really that important, isn’t it?” Tama waves her hand in front of her. “Anyway, Usami told me that she was with me in spiritrealm when that black stuff appeared.”

“Yes. I am assisting Tama-sama in the gate to Ni-, no, to Japan when it appear. Tama-sama protect me when it cover us. When I wake up, I can’t find Tama-sama and I already in earthrealm.”

“Yeah, my memory is a bit fuzzy about that too. I didn’t remember that I was with you until you told me.”

“Are you hurt or affected by the black mist?” Rick remembers what happened to Tama after exposed to that black mist.

“No. I think I am okay. The black stuff didn’t touch me at all because Tama-sama was protecting me,” Usami’s English slowly getting better. It seems like she learns quickly by hearing how Tama and Rick speak.

“Me?” Tama looks surprised.

“Ah, perhaps that’s why you got a lot of that black mist inside you. You tried to protect Usami from those black mist and took it yourself instead.”

“Oooh, that seems likely.”

“D-did I give you trouble because you’re protecting me, Tama-sama? I am really sorry,” Usami bows.

“Ah, no worries. It’s not really that much of a trouble, you know,” Tama smiles.

“Thank you, Tama-sama!” Usami raises her head and shows a cheerful expression on her face while still keeping her calm demeanor.

“Hm?” Tama’s ears twitch. Something catches her attention. She turns and starts sniffing around to locate and determine the source.

“Is there something near?” Rick looks around to find whatever it is that Tama is trying to locate. Not long after, Tama stops. She knows that it is a demon’s scent, but she can’t determine what kind of demon it is. It could be a demonic beast that they need to defeat, or it could be an intelligent demon with reason and conscience; a raygn.

Tama chooses to stay quiet until it’s certain. She knows how much Rick hates demon. And he won’t care even if it’s actually a kind, or at least not evil, demon. She wants to avoid unnecessary blood spilled if she can, especially when she has a demon as acquaintance, Aqua.

Not far from the hill they’re on, a human looking figure walks following a pathwalk crossing the Park. Tama sees the man and instantly realize that that man is the source of demon scent she smelled before. The humanoid demon looks indifferent with normal human, just like Aqua. He’s holding a box nicely wrapped and tied with a red ribbon. One can hear that he’s humming a song as he walk.

Okay, that demon looks nice. I don’t think we need to pick a fight with him. Rick’s better not knowing.

“That demon looks happy,” before Tama could say anything, before Tama could warn Usami, before Tama could reason with Rick, Usami says the forbidden word.

“That’s a demon?” Rick’s eyes widen. He grits his teeth and his fist is clenched hard. He hates demon, but he hates humanoid-looking demons even more.

“Ye-” Before Usami could finished her reply, Rick darts forward with immense speed.

“Rick!” For the first time ever, Tama shouts Rick’s proper name in hope to stop Rick. But, he’s not stopping. Tama tries to catch him but Rick has a head start.

In mere seconds, Rick is already on the demon’s side. The demon is just now realize Rick’s presence. Without any semblance of hesitation, Rick grabs his head and smash it to the ground with great force. The demon had no chance to retaliate.

The ground is cracked under the demon’s head. Blood slowly flows from the head. The demon is not moving. His mouth is gaping open. His eyes don’t show any consciousness. Rick releases his hand from the demon’s head and slowly stands. He looks down to the unmoving demon with his hand red covered in blood.

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