Mar 18, 2016

Black Stained Winter: Chapter 17 - "Beware, Demons"

Red color is staining Rick’s hand. He stands looking down at a demon with bloody head lying still. Tama and Usami watch from afar, still. Both of their eyes are open wide from shock and disbelief. Usami covers her gaping mouth with both hands still surprised by what just happened.

Tama knows Rick hates demon from deep within his heart. But, this? She didn’t expect Rick to attack a passing Raygn, a demon with reason and conscience, swiftly without hesitation. And obviously she wasn’t expecting for him to attack an unarmed and harmless demon like this.

Rick’s eyes are locked to the body in front of him, watching and prepared to strike at first sign of life. If the demon is still alive, he’s ready to deliver a final strike. And then, a cough. The dying demon coughing out blood. His breath is heavy and looks like in pain. But, he still unconscious.

Rick raises his hand and prepare his favourite palm strike. A full power strike to the head will finish him off, he thinks. Swiftly, he uses full power on his palm and move it down toward the helpless demon’s head.

BAM!



A small yet hard knuckle hit Rick’s cheek really hard before his palm strike touch the demon. Rick wasn’t ready and the punch to his cheek is strong enough to throw him off his feet. He falls to the ground with pain on his jaw. When he looks up to see his attacker, he sees Tama stands in front of him with clenched fist. Her face looks furious.

“I can’t believe it, Rick,”Tama stares at Rick in disbelief. She turns to Usami and calls her, “Usami, come here and help this person.”

“Ah, o-okay!” Usami, who was shocked by the chains of events in front of her, snaps back to reality and runs carefully toward the dying demon. She kneels besides the demon and draws symbols in the air over the demon with her fingers. Everytime she moves her fingers, a white glowing light appears and leave marks on the air. Within seconds, there’s a set of white glowing symbols floating above the demon. As it floats, slowly the demon’s breath slowly stabilize and become more relaxed.

“What are you doing, Tama?” Rick rises.

“That’s my line, you stupid!” Tama shouts. Anger clearly visible on her face.

“Wha-, that’s a demon there!”

“Now, you listen to me, Rick,” Rick stunned. He’s taken aback by Tama’s unusually furious tone and calling him by his name. “Not all demon is strong. This one is perhaps as strong as normal human. And not ALL of them is evil!!”

“Bullshit! There’s no such thing as good demon! Demon is corrupting the earth and do things so vicious that no humans would do.”

“Now you’re being racist.”

“Racist? I’m not-”

“You’re hating any demon regardless of who they are and what they did. You simply hate them because they happen to be demons. Tell me what is that if not racist?”

“Now you hear me, Tama. Demons are capable of deceiving human and manipulating them to do crazy things. They are dangerous, especially those who can blend with human.”

“Don’t you know there are humans that can do that too? Even there are spirits that do things that you say demon do. Just like human and spirit, there are good demon and bad demon!”

“The existence of evil spirit and evil human do not prove the existence of good demon.”

“Why don’t you just step back and try to open your mind? You know, there are good demons that near to us.”

“You are the one who need to step back, Tama. Those demons must’ve been deceiving you.”

“What?!” Tama’s face shows a combination of annoyed and disbelief expression. She’s angered by how close minded Rick is to the point of being insensible.

“What’s up with the ruckus?” A familiar voice comes closer. It’s Ren walking towards them with Ignis follows on his side.

“I’m genuinely surprised to see the two of you fight,” Ignis asks after opening his mask.

“Finally you two shows up!” Rick looks relieved when he sees the two. “Why don’t you tell to Tama here about-”

Before Rick can finishes his sentence, Ren kneels near Usami, “What happened to this guy?”

Usami turns to Ren while still healing the demon, “Um, Rick here attacked him.”

“He’s a demon,” Rick clarifies.

Ren stands, “I’m aware,” and points to his nose to reminds Rick that he could smell the difference. “Why did you attack him?”

Rick baffled by the question and frowns, “What do you mean? I said it, right? He’s a demon.”

“And?”

“Wha- And that’s why I attack him.”

“Did he attack you?”

“No.”

“Did he attack anyone?”

“...No.”

“Then you shouldn’t attack him.”

“But he’s a demon!”

“So? That doesn’t make it right to attack him. If you think so, then you’re being racist,” Ren speaks with his usual calm manner.

“Come on! You too?”

“Well,” Ignis interrupted, “I know you hate demon, but attacking a defenseless demon is simply not right.”

“So, this is how it’s going, huh? I’m the bad guy here? Fine!” Rick throws both of his hand to the air and turns away.

“Where are you going?” Ren asks as Rick walks away from them.

Rick narrows his eyes and frowns, “Does it matter?” He dashes towards the thickets and disappear amongst the dense tree.

“You’re not chasing him?” Ignis turns to Tama.

“No. He’s getting on my nerve,” she turns her back to the direction Rick was going and crosses her arms in front of her.

“Just let him be for a while. He just needs time.”

“I don’t think that’ll work,” Ren interrupts, “His hatred to demon seems to has a deep root within his heart. There must be a reason why he hate demons so much. And as long he keeps holding on that reason, it will be hard for him to acknowledge that not all demons are evil.” Ren pulls out a toothpick and holds it with his mouth.

Ren walks towards Usami and kneels across from her, “You’re Tama’s friend? I’m Ren, nice to meet you.” “And I’m Ignis,” Ignis hastily adds.

“My name is Usami,” she bows,”nice to meet you.”

“You’re doing a good job here,” Ren points the healing symbol Usami created.

“No, it’s because Tama-sama told me to,” Usami smiles.

“Tama-sama?” Ren raises one of his eyebrow and turns to Tama, “I didn’t know you’re quite respected in spirit world.”

“It’s not that great though. I’m simply the guardian of the gate connected to Japan.”

“I see. So, that’s mean you’re good in Japanese?”

“Hoo, I’m surprised you could come to that conclusion,” Tama raises her eyebrows in surprise.

“It’s expected.”

“Ugh,” the demon wriggles a little and slowly opens his eyes, “What happened?”

“You were attacked. Don’t worry, we already healed you,” Ren stands. Usami’s white symbols slowly fades as the heal stops.

“Thanks, I guess,” the demon slowly rises.

“Are you alright?” Usami asks the demon.

“I, I guess so.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” a beautiful smile decorates Usami’s as face as she hears that her effort bears fruit.

“Go home, and be careful,” Ren sends the demon home.

“Okay,” the demon, understand that he’s weaker than any of these people, decides to follows Ren’s order. He picks up his previously nicely wrapped box. It’s now wrecked and the wraps are teared here and there. The demon looks really down as he picks his, presumably, present for someone.
He walks for a few steps and turns to Ren and the others, “Thank you.” He then continue walking the pathwalk slowly in silent; no more humming.

“Poor guy,” Tama looks sorry for the demon.

“He was in a bad place in the wrong time,” Ren pats Tama’s head.

*BEEP*

A loud beeping noise suddenly breaks the silence. It’s come from Ignis; Ignis’s suit to be precise. He put his mask on to see what’s the noise is about. “Um, guys, looks like there’s something weird coming up.”

“What’s wrong?” Ren and the others look curious.

“The sensor in my suit capture a signal from the black mist. But this one looks different yet I don’t know why. Gerogom hadn’t explain a lot of stuff about this suit.”

“So, should we check it?” Tama asks.

“I guess we should,” Rick pats Ignis’s shoulder, “Where is it?”

Ignis leads the way with Ren, Tama, and Usami follow behind him. They go through the thicket of trees and arrive near the lake. Ignis slows down and gives signal to other to keep quiet. He looks at his sensor again to search for the abnormal mist. At the point where the sensor tells stand a man at the side of the lake. He’s standing with his back leaning to a big tree that happens to be on the lakeside.

“That man,” Ignis points at the man standing alone under the tree, “The signal comes from him… I guess.”

“Him? Hmm….” Ren observes the man from his place. From what he sees, the man looks normal.

“The sensor here reads some amount of the black mist is within that guy.”

“But he looks quite normal, isn’t he?” Tama tilts her head, “When the assassin attacked me and Rick, he was very aggressive and wild. He was berserk.”

“You sure about this man?” Ren turns to Ignis.

“Well, I have no idea why the signal from him have different color than the others I’ve seen so far. Beside, this is the first time I use this suit.”

“Why don’t we approach him slowly?” Usami suggests from behind them.

Ren and Ignis looks at each other before Ren decides to go. He gestures the others to stay there and then heads toward the man. He walks casually in normal pace to avoid suspicion. As he gets closer, Ren can see the man is pressing his hand to his chest. His breath is fast and heavy. He looks as if he’s hurting.

“Hey, you okay?” Ren asks the man when he’s close enough. But after that, he stops. He couldn’t see it from afar, but with little distance between the two he can see black mist seeping out from his body not unlike the other creatures he fought today.

“Heh,” the man scoff. He moves his eyes and stops it when he sees Ren. His mouth spreads and showing a sinister smile, “I haven’t been this okay for a long time.” Suddenly, black mist comes out in a great amount from his body. Ren’s eyes widen in surprise and steps back immediately to avoid the black mist.

“Shit!” Ignis rushes out toward Ren and the mysterious man as soon as he saw the thick black mist appears, “This doesn’t looks good.”

***

“There, there, good girl,” Aqua brushes Thyella’s head gently. The big wolf lowers her head to let Aqua strokes her more. She looks comfortable with Aqua.

“You sure you want to go? Your arm just healed,” Gerogom takes a tube filled of black mist from some extraction machine and observe it under the light.

“It’s okay. I can fight now, thanks to you,” Haqua gives a quick smile to Gerogom as she stands.

“No. Thanks to your speedy regeneration that your broken arm healed. I merely taking out what prevented it from working,” Gerogom opens a glass cabinet at put the tube inside with all other black mist filled tubes.

“Well, I gotta go. I need to find Ren and the others.”

“They’re on the Great Green Park,” Gerogoms says without even looking at Aqua.

“Ah, thank you,” Aqua quickly turns and goes to the exit. Behind her, Thyella follows with her tail wags excitedly.

Realizing the presence of her canine companion, Aqua turns to face Thyella. She bends forward and pats her head, “You be a good girl and wait for Ignis to return, okay?” A smile decorates her face as Thyella answer her with a single bark and then sits. With that taken care of, Aqua heads to the exit hastily.

“Whoa!” Aqua almost bumps a man on her way out of the building as she’s quite in a hurry.

“Ah, Rick. Sorry, I was in hurry,” Aqua quickly apologizes when she recognizes the man.

“No. Not a problem,” Rick answers with his emotion slightly visible. He hastily walks past Aqua to get inside.

“Wait,” Aqua grabs Rick’s arm out of sudden. She notices something is not right with Rick. She can feels the anger seeping out from Rick. “What happened?” She asks.

Rick flicks his arm and makes Aqua releases her grabs. “Nothing,” he says while trying to hide his anger. He obviously fails to do that since Aqua is not buying his lie.

“There must be something happened. You look angry. Wait,” Aqua takes a quick glance outside as she realizes something, “you’re not with the others. Something must’ve happened.”

“You know, your boyfriend is one helluva snob!” Rick suddenly lashes out his anger at Aqua who looks surprised with the sudden outburst. He instantly regret this as he turns his face away from Aqua.

“Bo-boyfriend? Who-who do you mean? Ren? No, he’s not my boyfriend,” Aqua bewildered by the word boyfriend. Her face slowly getting redder. She turns away from Rick to hide her face. She’s not sure why she’s so surprised by the accusation and why her face is getting warmer.

“Sorry,” Rick scratches his head, “That was uncalled for. Look, I had a bad day. I had a fight with Tama and the others and right now I simply feel like shit.” Aqua turns her head slightly as she heard this and then turns to face Rick again.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Aqua places her hand on Rick’s shoulder. “I need to go now, but you can talk to me about it if you feel like it after I return. How’s that?” A confident and assuring smile is added to Aqua’s words.

“Well, thanks, I guess. I think I just need to rest and think a little bit,” Rick smiles weakly as he removes Aqua’s hand from his shoulder.

“If you say so,” Aqua takes a few steps back and turns away. Just before she walks outside, she says, “Just remember that I can listen to your story if you want to.” Rick walks inside Gerogom’s lab slowly after hearing this, still angry, but calmer.

As she exits the building, Aqua heads toward the trees. She needs them to cover her. She turns to check if she’s already deep enough into the woods. When she’s sure there’s nobody can see her, she takes a deep breath. She focuses all of her mind and energy into her back. Within seconds a pair of wings grows and rips the backside of her shirt. The wing itself looks black and reminds you of dragon’s wing in popular media.

“Ah. This is Ren’s sister’s,” she sighs, “I need to apologize latter.”

She flaps her big wings several time to get accustomed to it. When she feels ready, she raises her head to look at the sky. She bends her legs and kicks the earth hard just like when she jumps. But, this is not jumping. Her wings flaps and slowly but sure she accelerates up to the sky.

High in the sky, Aqua is amazed by the view for a while. She hasn’t seen the city from this height before and it’s a stunning view from up there. She takes a deep breath and flies away with a high speed towards the city.

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