Exiled West

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Delidaware City

Chapter 8: Delidaware City

It was a strange thing becoming a High Roller at that time since in a sense I started to live with another person and a child at that but dead. Sharing mind and soul with someone was uncomfortable as I was able to look into Grace’s memories while she could look into mine along with knowing what we were feeling in our emotions. I wasn’t fond of such a thing wanting my memories of Isabella to be private but I guess I’d prefer a girl like Grace to be seeing them over some other dead stranger with malicious intent. As for a stronger physical body, I didn’t feel much of a difference back then and the only thing I noticed was suddenly having a bit more energy the moment I became a High Roller. But that was mainly because my body was wounded and weak especially after getting hit on the head twice and not having eaten or drink anything since morning.

I intended to take Grace back to the towns to give her a proper burial but she refused. Instead, Grace wanted me to simply burn her body in the middle of that forest. From what I felt from her at the time she didn’t seem too bothered about dying or not being remembered.

“Are you sure about this? You don’t need to worry about lessening my burden.” I asked Grace because once her body is utterly burned and left there the only ones who would know of her existence would be her little brother if he was still alive and me. Grace had no other relatives alive or friends.

Grace couldn’t explain to me in words since she couldn’t exactly directly speak to me but I could sense her thinking and emotions and she would rather be turned to ashes letting the wind blow and spread them throughout the world and possibly far out into the sky. Her reasoning was that she had experienced being caged for so long in hiding and held captive by the Nahr’Shak, so, Grace wished her body to be forever free in the form of ashes.

“Alright, seems like you won’t have any regrets,” I said and began setting up a proper way to burn her corpse.

It took some time and there wasn’t much other than sticks and leaves but I did my best to make a casket out of it with Grace’s body inside. With the lantern, I burned a small stick and placed it inside to start burning her body. There was no regret in Grace’s feelings as her corpse was up in flames and all I could sense in her heart was worry and hope that her little brother Sam would still be alive. Quite strange for a girl who only lived at most ten years of her life not feel much sadness or anger no longer able to experience life but it seemed Grace wasn’t exactly living happily with a beating heart.

I couldn’t stick around long since the fire grew big and bright making it obvious for any enemy to possibly see it and attack. So, I left it there burning and moved on but I had no sense of direction and didn’t know which way was Ardien Town. I spent two hours aimlessly walking with a mere lantern utterly tired, hungry, and thirsty. My wounds were also aching in pain while my eyes were in a constant state of giving up. I would have passed out sooner but after becoming a High Roller I had a bit of energy recuperated but it wasn’t enough.

“… For someone who just died you seem to be enjoying yourself too much.” I told Grace who was fascinated by the Dead Realm looking at all the other souls along with herself as she phased through my body and floats around freely but only within a few meters since she was bound to my body. “I don’t know, I’ll have to ask Marcus or John or someone with longer experience being a High Roller,” I told Grace who was curious as to why she was the only soul that stood out being more on the brighter side and had less of the aimless misery sensation about her.

Eventually, I reached a road which made it easier for me to determine where to go but my legs started to become wobbly especially my left leg that had a knife wound.

“Ugh… I feel… sluggish.” I tried forcing myself to continue standing but my head injury was starting to give me a loud ringing noise again and my vision was turned to a blur.

I reached my limit and fell face-first onto the ground as my body forced itself to shut down on me in the middle of a cold dark with countless souls eager to devour me. It was a bad situation where I no longer had any control over once my eyes were closed shut. However, whoever controlled my fate was cruel as they continued to pump my heart with blood and awoke on a bed with a few rays of light shining through a boarded window. Before I could figure out my situation Grace suddenly appeared before me which slightly made me flinch.

“Wo!” I almost took a swing at Grace’s ghost but had remembered immediately who she was. “What’s so funny? Don’t just suddenly appear like that before me.” I told Grace as I could sense her emotion of laughing at me getting a bit scared. “Where am I?” I asked Grace.

Grace raised her ghostly arms to indicate to me she didn’t know which made sense since she wasn’t from Delidaware City or the other smaller towns run by it. However, from the faint recent memories she shared with me of what she saw while I was out it was clear that I was in Ardien Town. Upon confirming it I breathed a sigh of relief no longer needing to have my guard up. On the left side of the bed, there was a table with a bowl of soup, a cup of water, and a piece of bread. It smelled nice enough to make my body move on its own to grab the bowl ignoring the pain and soreness of my bones.

“Aahh… to think food like this would taste good,” I said as my mentality of being used to eating exquisite foods was long gone.

After witnessing such horrible things and going without food or water for twenty-four hours. It was only natural I’d no longer complain about any kind of food whether it was made in a high-quality kitchen or some dirtied pot by dirty hands. That whole experience with the Nahr’Shak gang truly opened my eyes entirely on what I must expect outside of the Delidaware area.

“Hmm, I feel energized now,” I said as I squeezed my hands tight feeling my strength coming back once I finished the soup and felt much better compared to how I was struggling to even walk.

Since I became a High Roller the sounds of the dead were still reaching my ears but not as loud and were more like super low whispers. This was because it was daytime as the sun shined brightly and also because I was in an area where the Dead Realm is kept out by a barrier made of spices. My wounds were patched up and sewed a bit poorly but I was able to move with slight aching. I walked out of the small room I woke up in hearing people talking from outside. I reached and headed down some stairs having been on the second floor and found myself having been inside Marcus’s office and home building in Ardien Town.

“Ah, finally awake,” Marcus said as he leaned on his chair swinging being bored.

“…Your soul,” I said as I was able to see the soul from the Dead Realm that is bound to him which wasn’t a friendly one.

“Hm? Oh, this guy here?” Marcus casually said and looked at the gray darkish soul grabbing onto Marcus obsessively. “Bastard been trying to eat my other half for three years now.” He calmly said.

“That looks uncomfortable,” I told him not knowing how Marcus hasn’t lost his mind living with a soul that is actively trying to kill him.

“Heh, almost put a bullet in my head a few days in living with this asshole. But I lived through it and got comfortable. Can’t say the same for others who have become High Rollers, anyways, you have yourself an interesting lad.” Marcus said finding it curious and a bit jealous I had a soul that wasn’t trying to kill me.

“I was about to ask you why mine is… brighter?” I wondered.

“Don’t know, first time I have seen a soul like yours. Where did you exactly sacrifice half of your soul?”

I explained to Marcus the method I used and about Grace, however, he told me that people have already tried that method before of killing someone without any other souls lingering but most of the time it still ends up with the soul trying to kill the host. Some are less hostile whether by nature or when certain conditions are met but overall a soul that is fully cooperative according to Marcus at the time is extremely rare.

“You found yourself a unique one, some people who were coming from Delidaware found you laying on the ground surrounded by souls. But one of them who was a High Roller said that little missy was keeping them away shinning some bright white light.” Marcus explained to me what happened when I passed out.

“Is that so?” I said and looked at Grace who didn’t have an expression but I could sense she was happy to have helped me. “Thank you for saving me,” I told her being grateful.

“Anyways, you should be careful. You’re going to stand out with that Grace girl. High Rollers with unique souls are sought out whether for experimentation or out of fear.”

“Fear?”

“Yeah, take that wanted one for example. Some Beaner bitch calling herself La Muerte. Which means The Grim Reaper in our language. Past two years she’s been making quite a ruckus against the most ruthless of gangs in all of Velorian and they all want her dead.”

I looked at the La Muerte wanted poster but I focused more on seeing if there was one of Uisai but there wasn’t.

“Say, do you know a Negro called Uisai or a gang calling themselves Nahr’Shak?” I asked.

“The Nahr’Shak was originally a small gang part of a bigger one named Dephal. It’s common for big gangs to have their underlings run off and start their solo gang. Don’t know the full details yet since there still hasn’t been any official report on why they were here or if the Dark Rider and his gang managed to kill them all.”

“Dark Rider?” I recalled at that moment of the Native who saved me from Uisai.

Marcus then explained to me about him and confirming that what I saw was indeed true. About the Dark Rider using a massive pistol that fires fifty caliber bullets. The Dark Rider’s real name is Mato and his gang of other Natives goes by the name of Patriots. Mato is considered to be the most reliable and strongest when it came to protecting Delidaware and its ambitions that I would come to learn later. Mato had a unique soul that makes him physically strong beyond a normal High Roller’s limits which allow him to carry around such a dangerous massive pistol.

“Seems like I have a long tough road ahead of me. If more people like the Dark Rider and this… La Muerte exist out there.” I said having no intention of taking Velorian lightly just because I became a High Roller with a unique soul especially after finding out there are others with rare ones.

“Still planning to head out there? Well, it’s your life but… it would benefit Delidaware greatly to have a High Roller like you around here.”

“Sorry, the moment I decided to come here I had no intention of stopping until I find Logan Campbell.”

“I know, I could see your resolve still hasn’t changed since I last saw you. Spend another day in bed, you need it.”

I listened to Marcus since my leg was still limping and didn’t want to exert myself knowing if I wanted the highest chance of survival in Velorian. I needed to be in top shape at all times because just being short of ten percent could cost me my life. Although I was still far from fully recovering, I didn’t want to stay in bed for two days straight and decided to head out for Delidaware City. I wanted to visit the place and ask around about Logan Campbell and also learn more about High Rollers because that’s where most of the big shots lived like the Dark Rider.

Marcus lent me a horse and some resources for the long journey including a pistol. He was seeing me off as his men prepared the horse for me but there was still something Marcus gave me which I didn’t expect and it was a small bag with a few pieces of gold.

“What’s this for?” I asked as I looked through the gold.

“You’ll need it to buy stuff over there. Try not spending it all on some booze.” Marcus said.

“Does everyone in Velorian use gold to exchange goods?” I wondered.

“That’s right, anything shiny and rare is money. But sometimes food, water, and even weapons can be used as money. It all depends what the seller is willing to accept for their goods.”

“I see, interesting. Thanks for that information. I appreciate your help, Marcus.” I said being grateful towards him as his men just finished setting everything up for me to leave.

Marcus walked up closer to me and took his dark brown hat off that was worn out after years of use.

“Take it, years ago before I came here, I was living through hell but survived it all with this hat. Consider it a good luck charm.” Marcus said and reached out his hand to give me his hat.

“…Thanks.” I accepted the hat and wore it on my head not exactly finding it to my liking but I could see Marcus was being genuine about going through hell and back with that hat. So I chose to wear it and get comfortable with it. “You seem to be quite invested in me, why?” I wondered why he was helping me out a lot.

“Because you’re an interesting fellow. Giving up the wealthy life to come here and risking your life to head out into the wild side of Velorian. Been a while since I last saw someone interesting and I want to see just how far you’ll make it.” Marcus explained having high expectations on what I would achieve in Velorian.

Without saying any more words we simply shook hands and nodded. I hopped onto the horse and began to ride straight for Delidaware City. It would take me a shorter amount of time to reach it since I was on my own. And along the way, I passed by the other two towns similar to Ardien named Reish Town and Marlo Town. The closer the towns were to Delidaware the more developed they were and Marlo was only a year or two away from officially being a city.

“Welcome to Delidaware City, the land of prosperity.” Is what a sign had written on it when one reaches just on the outskirts of the city.

The city was huge and under construction, as they were still expanding the territory with people hard at work just outside the city building houses, farms, stores, and other necessary things to go from being a city to an entire state. I slowly rode through the path on my horse watching everyone do their best to bring this land of prosperity to life. One much better than the land they were born in and although some wouldn’t be able to witness the result of their work they still wish for the young and future generations to live happily and freely.

“Hold it right there, partner!” A man walked in front of the path chewing onto something and spit on the ground. He was a High Roller with a normal soul that wasn’t too active in trying to kill him but from looking at it I could sense its intention of wanting to kill him. “Who are you? And where did you come from?” He asked me and his hand was near his holster ready to react upon the slightest hint of hostility.

“My name is Levi Carter; I came from Vornil Town,” I answered his questions and reached to my pocket to give him a signed pass from Marcus. “Here, this is a pass from Ardien’s sheriff,” I said.

The man cautiously approached and took the paper from my hand to read its contents. After a few seconds, he folded the paper and returned it to me.

“What brings you round here, Levi Carter?” The man asked wanting to know my business before letting me off.

“Looking for someone, Logan Campbell. Heard of him?” I asked.

“No, don’t know a Logan. Might find someone who knows him at the registry.”

“Registry? Where do I find that place?”

“It’s where they keep a list of everyone living in Delidaware. Though depending on your reasons, they might not tell ya and you can’t lie so don’t bother. As for how to get there just ask around for directions along the way. Even I don’t remember where the saloon is at times. Haha!”

“Thanks for the help.”

“No problem brother, take care.”

The guard walked to the side to let me continue riding into Delidaware City. For a moment, I figured things wouldn’t go so smoothly but my guess is it’s because he didn’t know I used to be wealthy. Since I didn’t receive much of a warm welcome when I first arrived at Vornil Town I kept the fact that I used to be rich to myself while in Delidaware in case it made things difficult for me. Anyways, I encountered more security with a few being High Rollers while the rest were normal still having a full soul. They thoroughly checked me and my horse and asked me the same questions as the last and I was fortunate enough they didn’t ask why I was looking for Logan Campbell. Instead, the High Rollers nearby were fascinated by Grace who was a rare soul from the Dead Realm. After some idle chatting, they allowed me to enter the city which to my surprise seemed very civilized.

As I rode along the streets on my horse during the day among a crowd of people walking and running around trying to make their living. There wasn’t anyone living on the streets dying of hunger or sickness and instead people hanged around smiling. But what I found most surprising was that it wasn’t just people from my country who are considered Crackers. Many different ethnicities were living in Delidaware including Negros which made things awkward for me after witnessing the Nahr’Shak doing inhumane things. But I was level-headed enough to not set expectations off of one horrible experience. From what I saw being in Delidaware not everyone was getting along and there was still plenty of people not liking the fact that some had different skin color than them or slanted eyes.

While asking around where I could find the registry, I came across four brawls between people of different descent. Law enforcement is always nearby to stop the violence but even then, some police weren’t exactly playing neutral. It made things apparent there was still a long way to go to reach a true prospering land but I’d say that’s just the way human nature works. Delidaware compared to my home country was still better since there was land and opportunity, unlike other lands where the average status class struggle just to have a piece of bread for a day.

“You never knew this place existed?” I asked Grace who was very surprised seeing the city never expecting a civilization like Delidaware in Velorian. “I feel the same as well,” I told Grace as I felt her desire of wishing to go back in the past and change it by moving to Delidaware before her small town got raided. I also wished to change the past and be there for my family but that’s just wishful thinking.

After an hour of exploring the city, I eventually reached my destination of a concrete building considered to be an official government building. It was quite guarded with some High Rollers questioning those who wish to enter. There was a long line of people who just arrived at Delidaware wanting to register themselves as a citizen or people who want to know if a certain name is registered in the books. There were various other reasons why people were waiting in line which was a bit annoying for me since I needed to wait and stood around for an hour until it was my turn.

“I’ll be damn, that’s one shiny fucker you got there. Ain’t seen one like that before.” A female High Roller known as Ginger told me when I was next to enter the building. They called her Ginger because of her red hair and freckles.

“Yours doesn’t look all that friendly,” I said as I saw Ginger’s dark-grayish soul being very close and grabbed her in inappropriate areas of her body.

“Don’t mind him. Luck wasn’t on my side the day I became a High Roller and ended up with this perverted scumbag.”

“Least he ain’t trying to kill ya. I’m scared to even fall asleep at night with mine.” Another High Roller named Calvin said who worked with Ginger in guarding the registry building.

“So? Who are you? Someone like you would have made the rounds like Mato with a rare soul.”

“I only recently became a High Roller. But my name is Levi Carter and I was living in Vornil Town for a few months.”

“Ah, that’s where John is stationed. He doin well?” Calvin asked.

“Yeah, because of him the town is safe.”

“Hmm, sounds like John alright. He’s not one to slack off on the job. So, what brings you here to the registry?”

“I’m looking for someone.”

“Relative?”

“Not exactly, just someone I know.”

It stayed silent for a few seconds and was hoping they wouldn’t pry further. Since if they asked for a reason then they would see through me that I had evil intent towards Logan Campbell. But Ginger seemed to pick up that something was off and further asked for details.

“This someone… is he or she your friend or something?” Ginger asked which caught me off guard as within my mind I felt utterly angry that they would consider Logan my friend.

Thinking they saw the hints of anger in my emotions their expressions didn’t change and I felt surprisingly calm and at peace. Grace had stepped in knowing I couldn’t control my emotions when it came to Logan Campbell and she was capable of replacing my feelings with her own. It was the first time I found out Grace could do that and at that time I wasn’t sure how effective such a thing would be against other High Rollers. The power to lie against those who could see all emotions.

“Y-Yeah, he’s a… friend,” I answered with a lie but Grace concealed my true intent by using her emotions over mine. It still ticked me off greatly saying such a thing but I had no choice.

Ginger was still suspicious that something was not right but because she has gotten used to just being able to tell when someone is lying or not. She didn’t exactly know what to do in such a situation and didn’t want to pry further and cause possible problems with me.

“Alright, go on ahead. Just make it quick, got a long day ahead.” Ginger said with a bit of an annoyed tone since she was confident in her hunch that I was hiding something.

I walked towards the registry building and noticed Calvin followed me just in case but I didn’t mind since I had no intention of causing problems. Unless, of course, Logan Campbell was right before my eyes but I doubted that would happen. Had to wait some more in a line but eventually found out there was no Logan Campbell in the registry. It was frustrating having wasted so much time waiting but at the same time, I was already prepared to not find anything regarding Logan Campbell for the rest of my life since it was possible his corpse would never be found.

“Hmm, what now?” I wondered as I exited the registry building and looked at the sky seeing it was becoming dark. “Explore?” Grace conveyed to me a sense of wanting to look around more at Delidaware City. “I thought you wanted to find your brother as soon as possible?” I asked Grace.

Because our minds were connected, she was able to think similarly to an adult and wanted me to fully recover from my wounds first and also learn more about being a High Roller. Because going out deeper into Velorian would be dangerous especially when I lacked experience in fighting as a High Roller and against other High Rollers.

“You’re right, Marcus said this would last me a few days here. Might as well take advantage.” I said and returned to my horse.

I first had a bite to eat from some general store that sold fruits and other goodies and asked some High Rollers where I could find someone or somewhere to train. Unfortunately, there was no such place in Delidaware as many High Rollers there had little to no experience in fighting as a High Roller. Only a handful like John and Marcus were experienced and came from the wild side of Velorian. But one of them told me I might find someone who could teach me in a certain saloon where High Rollers who are bounty hunters or general hunters that head out into the outskirts of Delidaware and other towns to take out any potential enemies heading towards the civilizations. Those guys were the real deal who go out facing danger which was perfect for what I was looking for.

“Dandy Saloon, so, this is the place,” I said standing outside the establishment exclusive to High Rollers in Delidaware. “Grace, I want to test out what you did with that Ginger woman earlier in the day. I want to confirm if I can truly lie even against High Rollers.” I told Grace who simply nodded in agreement.

As I mentioned earlier, having the ability to swap my emotions with Grace would be a huge advantage since High Rollers heavily depend on reacting towards the intent to kill. If I can suppress that intent then High Rollers would only be normal people in my eyes when it comes to me taking aim and ready to kill.

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