Pandora's Box

Chapter Ten - City of Flickering Destruction

Kaito walked into the Clarius chamber with a determined look on his face. He had dropped his Kid’s guise, and was dressed in his usual jeweler outfit. The Jewel Master noted this as he walked up to him, and chuckled.

“So you have returned,” the Jewel Master commented as he nodded slightly. “How was it? Happy to be reunited with your love?”

Kaito remained silent, and the Jewel Master lifted a questioning eyebrow up.

“I see that you’ve dropped your pretense. You’re not afraid of being found out then?” the Jewel Master asked again, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “Or have you finally decided to kill those two Jumis who have been following you around?”

“No,” Kaito finally answered, looking straight back at the hunched man. “I have decided to quit. I will not collect any more Jumi cores for you.”

“Oh? And you don’t care that your beloved will not heal?” the Jewel Master taunted as he grinned lopsidedly. “I never knew you could be so heartless. All those people dying in vain.”

“She will not heal,” Kaito said. “Definitely not because of you.”

The Jewel Master stared at Kaito sharply, before the edge of his mouth twitched upward and he started laughing hysterically. “And why not?”

“She can only be healed by Crimson,” Kaito replied with a frown.

“You believe in fairy tales?” the Jewel Master scoffed. “That’s why you lost everything you hold dear. You’re weak... and naive. You can’t even protect a tiny bird. How do you hope to protect others?”

“I am naive,” Kaito admitted, “but I’m not weak. I am naive to have believed in you,” he added as he spoke through gritted teeth, his tone laced with anger. “Show your true self, you deceitful beast!”

A thunderous laugh echoed throughout the whole chamber, a laugh that didn’t sound human.

“Are you sure you want to defy me, weakling?” the Jewel Master asked as he grinned evilly. “You don’t have what it takes to defeat me. Your resistance is futile. It will only serve to add one more Jumi core to the number that I’ve already consumed.”

“So be it, then,” Kaito answered with resolution, pulling out his sword. “I will no longer betray the trust of one who does care for me. If I am to die, at least I know I have chosen to do the right thing.”

The Jewel Master laughed again. “And this right thing is to die in vain? Foolish little human.”

Kaito stood his ground, and the Jewel Master laughed, again.

“Very well then, let’s see how you would fare against me,” the Jewel Master said as he smirked. Just then, the door to the chamber banged open and in rushed Shinichi, Heiji, and Shiho.

“Shin-chan,” Kaito said, half in surprise. “How did you know I’m here?”

“Nakamori-san told us,” Shinichi replied easily. “But that’s not important right now. We have to defeat him first.”

“How interesting,” the Jewel Master said. “All the remaining Jumis are gathered here now. After I kill all of you, I will then take my time killing the frail little girl you all try to protect so hard. I know I will enjoy it very much.”

“You’re twisted,” Kaito said as he frowned, gripping his sword tighter.

Heiji pulled out his sword as well and Shiho took a fighting stance, while Shinichi took out the Sword of Fate.

“I never thought there would come a time that this sword would be so important,” Shinichi said as he held tightly onto the gleaming sword. “Now show your true self, Deathbringer!”

The Jewel Master laughed out loud, then slowly transformed into a huge monster that took up almost half of the chamber’s space. He had glowing golden eyes and sharp claws, pointed tail and fangs that could tear through flesh effortlessly.

“You’re sharp,” Deathbringer said as he looked down at Shinichi, cackling evilly. “How did you know it was me?”

“Figured it out from Pokiehl’s story,” Shinichi said as he held his sword up. “Also, Gaeus hinted at it. You know what this is.”

“The Sword of Fate,” Deathbringer said as he smirked. “Yes, of course. How could I forget such a thing? I sealed it away in the Tower of Leires’ Room of Fate after I killed the previous wielder. I must admit, I never thought a time will come for me to see it again.”

“Chris forged a replica of this sword from diamond, didn’t she,” Shinichi said. “She defeated you and made everyone think she killed you. So you’ve come back for revenge.”

Deathbringer laughed at that. “My, that was the funniest story I’ve ever heard.”

“What do you mean?” Kaito asked.

“Chris Vineyard, she became the leader of the Jumis?” Deathbringer asked, scoffing slightly. “Don’t make me laugh. That power crazy woman is nothing. She faked everything to gain the Jumis’ trust in her. Why do you think you could kill her so easily?”

“So you’re saying she struck a deal with you, to make it seem like she defeated you?” Shiho asked. “How cunning, yet cowardly.”

Deathbringer grinned. “You’re sharp, woman. I like you,” he said. “That’s true. That cunning little woman made a deal with me. She said she would give half of the Jumis’ cores to me, as well as the Clarius’. That was why she led an army in a losing battle against me.”

“But we got to the Clarius before she could sacrifice her to you,” Heiji concluded. “And the army she led retreated and was healed before you could kill them.”

“That’s what happened,” Deathbringer confirmed. “Then I thought of a better thing to do. Why not wipe out the whole Jumi clan? And lucky me, I found a lost soul with great hatred towards his own race who was willing to do anything for this girl... even being lied into believing that what he did was the right thing.”

“You--!”

“Calm down, Kaito,” Shinichi said as he held Kaito back. “He’s trying to rile you up. We might have lost the previous battle, but we haven’t lost this war yet. There is still hope.”

“Hope?” Deathbringer asked. “Don’t make me laugh. What do you hope in? Your ability? What makes you think I won’t kill you just like the previous wielder of the accursed sword?”

“I believe in a lot of things,” Shinichi said. “In this sword, in everyone around me, in my sister, in the Wisdoms, in the Mana Goddess... and in Crimson.”

“Another believer of a stupid fairy tale,” Deathbringer said angrily. “When will you foolish little humans see that this is reality!? This is not a fairy tale!”

“Sometimes, a fairy tale can become reality,” Shinichi said easily. “Now then, shall we start?”

“Very well,” Deathbringer said, growling deeply. “I will show you just how wrong you are. Reality is harsh, foolish little human, and I will show you just how harsh it is.”

“Miyano-san, please stay back,” Shinichi said as he held up the Sword of Fate. “I can’t guarantee your survival in this battle. If you were to die, I would feel bad to Hakuba-san.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to die,” Shiho said as she chuckled. “Although, I’d appreciate it if you could buy me some time. Fight him, and I’ll see if I can find out where his weak spot is.”

With that said, Shiho jumped up and stayed on top of a pedestal of some sort, watching the battle from afar, her gaze sharp and critical as it followed every movement of the Deathbringer.

Kaito swung his sword as hard as he could against Deathbringer, however his scaly skin didn’t even crack. Deathbringer laughed triumphantly as he swung his tail and threw Kaito off.

“Ordinary weapons will not harm me,” Deathbringer said as he bared his fangs. “Foolish, foolish humans. Have you realized what a losing battle this is?”

“No,” Shinichi retorted. “We will not lose.”

“Strong will can only take you so far, misguided child,” Deathbringer said as he cackled. He swung his tail at Shinichi, but was blocked by the Sword of Fate, and his skin chipped off a little. “Hmm... interesting. So the Sword of Fate hasn’t lost its power yet, huh? Still, one little weapon will not kill me.”

“Hattori, Kuroba, catch!”

Heiji and Kaito turned around quickly, right in time to catch a small amulet that Shiho threw at them each. It was a small, curly-shaped pendant with a ruby in the middle, hanging from a short chain.

“What is this?” Heiji asked curiously.

“An exorcist amulet. If we’re lucky, your weapon will now harm him,” Shiho explained. “Those amulets have been used for generations in the Temple of Healing to fight off demons with ordinary weapons.”

Deathbringer’s eyes widened slightly. “Tch, so I got a little careless,” he said as he grunted. “Someone from the Temple of Healing, huh? Maybe I should have destroyed all of you just like the Jumi clan. Just like this city.”

“And now you’re starting to regret it, hm?” Shiho asked, still perched on top of the pedestal. “Even if you haven’t now, I will make sure you will.”

“You talk big,” Deathbringer replied, smirking at her. “Prove to me that you’re not all talk.”

“I will,” Shiho answered. “Not now, though. Your enemies are still down there. Where are you looking at?”

Deathbringer’s eyes widened in surprise for the second time as he jerked backwards, barely able to dodge the slash of Heiji’s sword. His skin tore open and blood poured out from the wound, although it wasn’t deep.

“Foolish humans,” Deathbringer said as he gritted his teeth. “You will regret invoking my wrath!”

He bared his fangs and lunged at Shinichi who quickly jumped out of the way. He pulled back and swung his arms at both Kaito and Heiji, although his claws were blocked by their swords.

“Interesting,” Deathbringer commented. “So you’re not as hopeless as I thought. But that isn’t enough.”

They knew what he said was true. Not being hopeless wasn’t enough to defeat him. They had to find out where his vital spot was, because the wound Heiji made had already healed in such a short time.

The fight continued on for a couple of minutes, and the gravity of the situation hit them even more. All wounds they inflicted to him had healed in such short time, while they barely had time for Shinichi to shed healing tears for them every time they were wounded. They also knew that if they kept up like this, Shinichi would suffer the same fate as Shinku before they could defeat the Deathbringer.

Deathbringer laughed as he looked at them. “What is it, foolish humans? Have you finally noticed how pointless this battle is?” he asked, sneering at them. “If you have, then just surrender and stop this foolish charade. I will let you die a quick death if you do.”

“We haven’t lost yet!” Shinichi shouted, gripping onto his sword tightly. He had asked Heiji to take the sword and use it because he was better at swordsmanship than him, but Heiji told him to hold it to protect himself, because he noticed that Deathbringer was more reluctant to be wounded by the Sword of Fate.

“How long do you wish to keep this up?” Deathbringer asked with a mock sigh. “You and I know well that you aren’t faring well. Do you wish to at least share your sister’s suffering this way?”

“You never know unless you try,” Shinichi said.

“Humans, such foolish creatures,” Deathbringer said as he shook his head. “You know you’re losing but you’re too stubborn to admit it. I wonder if I could ever break your spirit enough for you to stop being so foolish.”

“That’s why us humans are better than you,” Shinichi said. “No matter what, we will rise up again and again. You might be able to stop us temporarily, but never permanently.”

“Oh? Did the Wisdoms tell you that?” Deathbringer asked as he grinned. “Well then, show me just how strong your will is!”

Shiho watched as the fight resumed. It was really a flurry of movements, and she almost lost track of what actually was happening in the battle a couple of times. All three of them attacked Deathbringer at the same time, but he was able to block their attacks and throw them back with a single swipe of his tail.

“Kudou, behind you!”

Shinichi turned around in panic but her warning was a little bit too late. He watched in terror as Deathbringer’s tail lunged at him and jumped aside to evade it. He wasn’t quick enough, however, as his leg was scratched. He was lucky the cut wasn’t deep, or he was sure he would bleed to death.

Kaito rushed towards him and knelt down to inspect the injury. “Stay here,” he said.

“Oh ho, I seem to forget that you can’t heal yourself,” Deathbringer said as he laughed. “How forgetful of me. So all I have to do is kill you, and then I’ll take my time killing the rest.”

Deathbringer lunged at him, again, baring his fangs. This time, however, Shinichi noticed a light layer of fluid around the fangs, and they looked sharper than before.

Kaito stood in front of Shinichi, sword raised up to block the attack, because he knew he wouldn’t make it in time to get Shinichi away.

“No, go away!” Shinichi shouted. “You can’t block his attack!”

“Then what should I do, leave you to die!?” Kaito shouted back.

Shinichi screwed his eyes shut as he heard the loud, shrill noise of metal against fang. He felt his eyes tearing up slightly when he heard the tell-tale sound of metal shattering and blood dripping.

“Hattori...” Kaito mumbled and Shinichi snapped his eyes open in shock.

True enough, standing between them and Deathbringer was Heiji, holding onto the hilt of his broken sword tightly with his right hand while his left hand bled so much. Deathbringer’s fangs were embedded on his left side, and his core was cracked.

“Heiji!” Shinichi shouted as he tried to stand up, but was unable to do so because of the pain shooting up his right leg. Kaito quickly caught him before he fell down again. “Heiji!”

Heiji turned around slightly, looking at Shinichi right in the eyes. “Shinichi...” he whispered croakily. “If you ever see Shinku again... tell her I’m stupid.”

Shinichi choked on his tears. “I’m sure she knows that already,” he said, trying his hardest to smile.

Heiji smiled back at him. “I’m sure,” he said, and he slumped forward. Deathbringer pulled back and let his body fall onto the floor, and Shinichi noticed that Deathbringer had taken his core and swallowed it.

“Now it’s only the two of you left,” Deathbringer said as he cackled, licking his bloody fangs. “So tell me, are you still willing to fight?”

“I will fight to death,” Shinichi said in determination. “But I will not die.”

“How cocky of you,” Deathbringer commented. “And what made you say that?”

“Heiji’s sacrifice isn’t in vain,” Shinichi said as he held onto Kaito’s arm. “You seem to forget something.”

“Oh?” Deathbringer asked as he raised a mocking eyebrow. “Tell me what it is, then.”

“You lunged straight at us,” Shinichi started, “yet at the last moment you turned aside and bit Heiji at an angle. What does this mean?”

“Huh... you tell me,” Deathbringer challenged. “What does such a thing imply?”

“You were protecting something,” Shinichi said, his voice sounding triumphant for a while. “You were afraid of his sword. I wonder why? Aren’t you able to heal flesh wounds easily?”

“I see it,” Shiho said, her voice suddenly so close to Deathbringer’s ear. Before he could react, she had already perched herself on top of his head and stabbed the Sword of Fate right through his right eye.

The scream that followed was blood curdling. It was filled with such agony that for a split second Shinichi almost felt bad for him. Blood poured forth from the stab wound as Shiho pulled the sword back out, and he finally bled to death. Just like humans, such injury to the eye meant death.

Deathbringer had no heart. His only weakness was something that he had hid within his right eye, and they noticed it finally.

The three gathered around the fallen Deathbringer’s body, watching with rapt attention as it started to disintegrate. When he finally disappeared into thin air, hundreds of Jumi cores appeared from within him, and from his right eye, came out a bright red gem—Crimson.

“So what the legend said is true,” Shinichi mumbled. “The worst, indeed. Crimson has been Deathbringer’s core all along.”

“This is no time to mull over things, Kudou,” Shiho said as she still held onto the Sword of Fate. “You know what you have to do.”

“Right,” Shinichi said as he wobbled over and grabbed Crimson in his hands. “You know...it’s kind of sad to think that to revive the whole Jumi clan, Shinku might have to suffer like this again. Then what is the point of finding Crimson?”

“Don’t be so pessimistic,” Shiho said. “At least you have each other. You can heal each other before it gets ugly, right?”

Shinichi stared at Shiho, then smiled at her. “Yes, you’re right. I’m being stupid,” he added. “Hey, Kaito.”

“Yes?” Kaito asked as he stood beside Shinichi, holding him upright.

“Do you think you could cry for us?” Shinichi asked, staring intently at Kaito. “If not out of compassion for them, then at least for us.”

“Even if I could, they would be tears of guilt,” Kaito replied.

“Don’t,” Shinichi said as he reached up and held Kaito’s face. “You aren’t at fault. There’s no need for you to feel guilty. Come, I know you have been hesitating to kill the Jumis. You feel bad for them. There’s compassion in your heart. That’s all you need to shed the healing tears.”

“If not for them, at least for you,” Kaito murmured.

“That’s right,” Shinichi replied with a smile. “At least for me.”

The two stood facing each other, eyes closed in concentration as Shinichi held the Crimson between them. Moments later, teardrops fell from their eyes, onto Crimson.

The gem shone brightly, and the next moment, Shinku was there with them, her core replaced by Crimson. She blinked her eyes a couple of times, then looked up, smiling at the two.

“Hello there, Kaito-san,” she greeted warmly. “Now I see you.”

“Shinku,” Shinichi called as he smiled in relief. “How good to see you again.”

“I feel the same way,” Shinku said as she chuckled. “Here, let me heal you,” she added as she walked over and shed a tear for Shinichi. His leg healed as if it had never been wounded before.

“Oh, you best try to find Heiji’s core now,” Shinichi said as he turned to the pile of cores. “He got killed during the battle.”

“Alright, I’ll get to it,” Shinku agreed as she walked over to the pile and began browsing through it for a particular topaz gem.

Meanwhile, Shiho watched from the side, allowing herself a small smile of relief at the fact that the disaster has now been put to an end.

“Why do you think I would be able to cry?” Kaito asked curiously as he looked sideways at Shinichi who had began collecting the Jumi cores into small piles.

“Because I saw it,” Shinichi answered easily. “I saw it in my dream, and I knew you would be able to. You’re a good person, Kaito. Good and a little bit naive.”

Kaito snorted, and laughed. “I don’t think you have the right to say such thing to others. You’re naive yourself.”

“Well, anyway, we have work to do,” Shinichi said. He looked over towards Heiji who was confused as to why he was still alive, but then rejoiced when he saw that Shinku had been healed.

Heiji, also, out of his compassion for the misguided Jumis who became victims of an unnecessary war, started crying for them. They told the truth behind the fall of the Jumi clan to the ones they had just resurrected, and told them to cry for others and tell them the whole truth as well.

Soon enough, everyone in the room was crying and speaking, telling the truth to everyone who could hear, so that they would not feel contempt towards the Gem Thief or lost.

Shiho watched from the side, leaning against the wall right beside a huge window. It was a moving sight, to see the whole clan finally regaining what they had lost—selflessness and compassion.

“Hey there.”

Shiho paused, then smiled slightly. “Hey there,” she greeted, closing her eyes as she smiled serenely. “Why aren’t you crying for the others with them?”

“We have enough pairs of eyes crying at the moment,” Hakuba commented, “but not enough person to keep you company. I heard about the battle from them. You were great, as always.”

“And you flatter me, as always,” Shiho replied with a low chuckle. “It was Hattori’s sacrifice that made us win, not me. I would never have found out if he hadn’t stood in the way.”

“A Knight’s dedication to a Guardian is indeed remarkable,” Hakuba said.

“He’s no longer Kudou’s Knight,” Shiho retorted. “But yes, he does have a remarkable dedication towards the two. What about yourself? Would you say you have a remarkable dedication to your Guardian?”

“She’s no longer my Guardian,” Hakuba said as he shook his head.

“Why not?” Shiho asked curiously, turning to look at Hakuba. “You were dumped?”

“You could say that,” Hakuba said as he shrugged. “They have finally decided to learn magic properly and become Knights. They’re stubborn when they want to be.”

“I’m sure,” Shiho mumbled. “So what are you going to do now? Back to the Temple of Healing?”

“Now I will go with you,” Hakuba said, holding onto Shiho’s hand. “Even if only as fellow Knights.”

Shiho stared straight into Hakuba’s eyes, and sighed, looking out of the window. “Look,” she said, staring at the gray sky. “Just like the prophecies said, when the Jumis cry, the sky does cry with them...”

Hakuba looked out as well, watching the brewing storm. “Indeed...”

And after the whole Jumi clan sans Chris was resurrected, the rainbow shone brightly, as if the sky was smiling down at them.


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