Living and the dead

Chapter 21


The shadow took a step and Chou's eyes widened in fear as the moonlight revealed its identity. His silver hair is shining like it's a gift from the moon itself. His eyes reflect danger and his emotion shows that he was ... glad.

"Ani-ue..." He greeted him. "It's been a while."

"Kagiri-kun..."

Kagiri's lips pulled into a loop sided grin. "Who would have thought that we will meet each other like this? How unfulfilling ... Our reunion should be more special, don't you think?"

"Where's Mai?! What did you do to her!?" He demanded with a loud womanly voice.

His little brother laughed probably amused at the sight of his beloved big brother inside of a woman's body. "Mai ... Mai, why is everybody searching for her? Is she that important?" He took another step forward and fixed his glasses. "Ah! Yes, it's because she resembles the light. And Light invites darkness, sad to say, the stronger and brighter the light, the deeper and blacker the darkness. The two can never be separated."

"Whatever you say, it won't change the fact that it is you who decided to embraced that darkness and chase after the light." He said. "But Kagiri-kun, doesn't mean someone stumble and lose his way, they don't have the chance to go back."

"And they have a saying 'Spilled water will never return to its cup'." He says to him.

"Do you really want to sacrifice her to fulfill your selfish wishes?" He asked, clenching his fist.

"She's a necessary sacrifice." Kagiri replied.

"Or is it, you're seeking for someone who can help you escape the place where you are right now?"

His younger brother looked at him with dead eyes. "After you died, I already stopped seeking for salvation. Everyday ani-ue ... every day I can feel the suffering of those who I had killed inside of me. I'm already used to the pain to the point that I can't even tell if that suffering was mine or from the people who I had killed. It's in here... ..." He said, tapping his chest twice. "All of it."

Chou gritted his teeth. He wanted to shout, he wanted to get mad at the world that broke his brother. He didn't do anything wrong to suffer this kind of fate. Somehow, he can understand his feelings but he can never accept everything he does.

"Ani-ue," Chou gazed at the dark and cold expression of his brother. Not once he thought that his kind little brother can make that kind of expression. It was as though he didn't know him any longer. He's not the Kagiri he used to love. "Trust is enemy. You shouldn't trust anyone, not even yourself. You shouldn't have died if I didn't trust them"

He looked down, face turning sad. He doesn't know what to feel anymore, because partly it's his fault. He's the reason his brother made that decision.

"I did seek for salvation" His brother said. "-but every time I tried to reach it, the darkness only dragged me deeper than where I have been, making it hard for me to climb up. I can't even touch the end of the rope that can pull me out of this never ending nightmare." Kagiri's dead voice bears his dark emotion and he could clearly feel it.

"The only thing you can do to stop the pain is to end all of these!" He said.

"I would have done that if I could!" He roared. "I'm already at the point where I can't stop! I have to finish what I've started." Kagiri's arm fell limp on his side. "Do you ... think I'm doing all of these because I wanted to?"

"Kagiri-kun..."

"It's because I have to ... ... have you ever felt the need to accomplish something you really want that you would do anything, no matter how dirty, whether it was tricking or killing someone?" He asked. "I thought it was the right thing, but my desires blinded me. It gave me something I don't need and took away all that I needed."

Kagiri noticed the look of pity in his brother's eyes. For a moment he looked away, that's a natural reaction from a person who find him pitiful but why does it panged his heart?

"Don't make that face ani-ue…this world is a really troublesome place, I want to end the pain, I'm sick of suffering and I'm sick of tears. Why can't everything end in a simple way? Why it has to be this complicated?" He said whispering every word he says but enough for his brother to hear. "I know nothing now … I no longer know the real me."

"But no one wanted you to be like that. I never thought that you can do such things-" Footsteps cut him short. It was coming from behind his brother and slowly walking toward them. Chou blinked, thinking that the shadow was just his imagination. But it didn't disappear, instead completely showed itself out of the foggy smoke.

An unbearable creature appeared carrying the unconscious Mai. It has two big horns, red eyes like that of an angry bull, a long black hair and a masculine body of a man.

The creature wasn't really hideous. It wasn't ugly like he imagined a demon would be, but the evil aura emanating from him is enough to scare any beings that would stand in front of him. He froze when he met the demon's pointed gaze. His skinny legs begun to tremble beneath the skirt, and the pounding of his head brought his mind into chaos, making it hard to think instantly.

It came to a halt beside his brother. "-Oya, it is Kurogane Chou, nice to see you again." The demon greeted. "I should have devoured your soul a long time ago but ... it seems your little brother's soul is more of my taste."

He remained transfixed.

A pale wet man standing two steps behind his brother caught Chou's attention. Emotionless eyes were boring at him, giving him a meaningful look.

'You need to go on!' He heard a voice inside his head. 'You are her only chance ... the others were already gone, don't let it happen to her.'

A moment of confusion…

'You're helping me?' He asked.

'I have to.' The man replied.

'Are you the one who told my brother about our plan?'

The man just nodded.

'You told my brother and now you're helping us? What are you planning?'

'Everything has to end. Every wrong deed has an equivalent punishment. Stop before you fall in a deep pit of regret. Help her before you run out of opportunity. You'll learn everything in time. For now, help her.'

Chou bit the inside of his cheek and looked at Mai. He's running out of spiritual energy, any minute now, the real owner of the body will wake up. He has to do something before it able to push him out.

'Decide...' The man said.

A loud crashing sound startled every one of them. Windows in the corridor were shattered one by one, starting at the end of the hallway and gradually coming near them. Echoes of thousands of broken glass bouncing on the floor filled Chous' ears.

'What the hell is happening?' He panicked.

...

Naru jerked up upon hearing a faint noise of glass shattering. He was certain that it came from the mansion, and he knew right away that something is happening only he didn't know what it was.

He was about to move when Lin stopped him. "Whatever you're about to do now won't do either of us any good." He said firmly. "Patience Noll, I know this is not a good time for waiting, but that is what we need to do to avoid any mishaps."

Lin was right. If he went there and get caught, who knew what will happen to him. Moreover, it would put all of them in jeopardy.

Naru had no other choice but to concede and turned his attention on his laptop. 'Mai...please be safe.'

...

When the window beside them crash with a loud bang, the demon lost its focus on Mai and he knew right there. . .it was his chance!

'Everyone is starting to move! We will do everything to stop them! Help her, quick!' Another spirit told Chou.

Chou immediately leaves the woman's body and transmigrates to the unconscious Mai. It's easier to possess her body since she's not resisting. However, her spiritual energy is so strong he started to feel some pain. But it's all right! A minute is enough for finding a way to break free from the demon's hold. He felt the hard thing in Mai's dress's pocket. Good thing he told her to equip it after he leave.

He only has one chance. He must do it right!

With the strength gather in his hand, Chou pulled out the rusty dagger from his pocket and thrust it really hard on the demon's neck, taking it by surprise. But he didn't let Mai go.

The demon's lips pulled into a wide grin. "You low life ghost. . ." He said with a dangerous tone. "How dare you pierce my beautiful neck with that petty toy of yours?" He slowly laughed. "Do you seriously believe that you can kill me using some weak dagger?"

...

A sudden wobble in the here's sky startled Mai and Gene. Soon after it died down, the road shake and started to crack.

"It's happening too soon!" Gene said, clenching his fist. "If this goes on, we will be too late to free Mai from this curse!"

Gene flipped when Mai suddenly flew near the shield and tried to break it. "Mai? What's going on?"

"Gene! Mai is in danger! We have to help her or else..." She said, tears showing in her eyes. "I, I need to give her something she can use to protect herself!"

"Calm down Mai, tell me what's happening."

"I have a feeling that she's about to get hurt really bad if I don't do something to help her!" Mai said.

Gene nodded in understanding, seems like Mai's intuition is still working. "Ok, listen ... put your hand on the crack and enter some memories." He said. He doesn't know what was happening but he hoped this could help. "You can do it, go ahead."

Mai lift her hand and touched the crack on the shield. She closed her eyes, focuses and slipped some memories into the crack.

Gene wheeled and looked at the sky. Just a little bit more ... ...

'I hoped we can make it in time'

...

Chou winced when a sickening feeling covered Mai's body. It was as if something is pushing him out, the wave of spiritual energy came too fast that he didn't have any time to prepare to block it.

'Damn it! Not now!' The body is starting to withstand him. He screamed in pain, it's succeeding to push him out. He doesn't have any more spiritual strength to fight it, that's why after a few seconds of struggling, Mai's body succeeded on pushing him out. Much worst she's waking up!

Mai felt something lukewarm pressed on her side along with strong arms that was holding her taut. Slowly opening her eyes, she saw the most terrifying creature in her whole life. There she saw when she looked up is A DEMON.

'Calm down Mai!' A familiar voice said. 'Don't. . .open ... ...eyes! Do what...have to say...'

Calm down?! At a time like this? Who would? Can someone calm down when they knew there's a demon holding them?

'Don't let him... ...find out...you're ... ...awake. You need. . .to get. . .out of... ...there!'

'What should I do?' She asked even though she doesn't know if the wisp can hear her.

'Calm down... ...gather strength... ...when I said run...run!'

Her head throbbed, followed by a pricking pain started from her nape. She rolled her eyes, not at all sure what was happening. She could hear voices, echoing in her mind like a sound of running falls.

'Is this a memory?' She asked herself. 'Is it telling me something?'

She closed her eyes once again. Her mind started to show a lot of blurry images surrounded by shady colors that almost covered the whole scene. It was like watching a dancing shadows behind a thin curtains only lighted using a single lamp, it was almost impossible to see. The only thing she could make out was voices and their gestures.

'Put your finger like this.' A man's voice said and pressed his middle finger and ring finger to the other two same fingers while sticking his palm end together. 'This is the 'Fuduo Myou-Ou in'. Adjust your posture, and then ... " He closed his eyes and started uttering some unfathomable words. 'Nau maku sanmanda bazara dankan.'

'Huh?' She asked, confused.

His brow flicked and he grabbed a paper then wrote something on it. After that, he pinned it on what looks like a board. 'It's what you called a mantra.' He explained. 'Nau maku sanmanda bazara dankan. If the thing doesn't disappear with this, form a sword-symbol and use some strength.'

His voice faded soon, and then a voice of a woman comes after. 'All right, then remember this one too.' She said, showing her how to move her hand. 'Rin, Pyou, Tou, Shah, Kai, Chin, Retsu, Zai, Zen. To 9 o clock, ok?'

'So first to the sides?' She heard a familiar voice asked the woman.

'That's right. Do it after you've chanted the Fuduo Myou-Ou.'

The pictures doesn't make any sense for her. It was confusing but she has a gut feeling that it will somehow help her to break free from the demon's hold.

Mai sucked some air before conditioning herself. She knew what to do!

She copied what the man did and started to chant. "Naumaku sanmanda basaradan kan! Naumaku sanmanda basaradan kan! Naumaku sanmanda basaradan kan!"

"What-" The demon asked, startled but cut short.

Using her fingers, she draws lines and recites another chant. "Rin! Pyou! To! Sha! Kai! Jin! Retsu! Zai! Zen!"

Startled by the sudden hit of the spell, the demon dropped her. He swayed his arms so quick, it hit Kurogane Kagiri who was standing beside him, knocking the guy on the wall. The demon's nail scratched her right arm and instantly putting a large gash followed by blood that dripped down.

'Now Mai! Run hurry!' Chou's loud voice rang inside her head.

Abruptly and without wasting time, Mai crawled away from the demon before completely standing up on her feet and scurry off. She almost stumbled upon hurrying to get away from them.

'Follow me!' Wisp said, sounding really tired.

"Ar-Are you okay?" She couldn't help but asked while running.

'Just a ... ...bit tired. . .Don't worry'

...

Kurogane slowly got up on his feet and dust his pants then looked at his side. "That was a sudden blow." He said. "It surprised me. I didn't know that she knew some kind of attack spell and I'm a bit puzzled on how did she managed to remember something like that when I already wipe out all of her memories."

"Are we not going to go after them?" The demon asked him, licking the blood on his nail.

Kagiri turned to the demon and saw its eyes. Seeing the bloodcurdling expression in his eyes makes him uneasy to the point that he shivers a little. That creature's eyes are glowing bright shade of red.

'It's happening again.' He thought. This was another thing that he didn't see in his precognition, if this continues his plan will fail. 'I need a change of plan!'

The demon paused for a second and then started to laugh. "Interesting. . .Interesting... ...Interesting! Interesting! Interesting!" He turned to Kagiri. "It's been a while since I tasted this kind of blood. The kind of soul that will make any demon do anything just to have it. Enough to make me starve myself just to get a hold of it."

"Looks like it's worth the wait." He said.

The demon chuckled. "Human, I live forever. It doesn't matter if I have to wait another thousand years just to taste it again."

Kagiri smirked. "Then, I won't let you have that girl. You did say that you will let yourself starve just to have her soul. Now, let see if you can get it." He said and started walking back. He should move or the game will get dull. "I'll give you a bonus if you would be able to catch her."

"You sounded like you're planning something against me."

"I do? Why said that if you can read my mind?"

"Hmmm..." The demon hummed, gaze following Kagiri. "This is more entertaining than I expected. I wonder... ...what would be the outcome of this game? Are you going to lose? Are you going to win?" He smiled devilishly. "A draw doesn't sound so bad either." He turned to the direction where the girl had run to.

'Humans are indeed full of ugliness, they harbor a complicated malice, they always lie...always fighting desperately, taking down others who gets in their way. They make endless excuses. Greedy beings who loves stealing from others for something they thought was steal from them. Yet, in the end... ...they're still not satisfied, far from being contented...' "Didn't you know, the more one person desires for something, the more twisted he becomes and that's when everything starts to get more and more entertaining. So as long as they didn't stop their desire, I won't get bored."

He started walking. Evil grin pasted in his lips together with the look of extreme pleasure in his face.

...

Mai and Chou run to the other side of the mansion. With a gash on her right arm and feet full of scratches from the shattered glass, she tried her best to catch up with the flying wisp, who is also tired base on his flying speed.

Chou didn't tell her anything that happens when she loses her consciousness. All she could remember was: there's a tall shadow. It grabbed her really fast and squeezed her waist so hard. Instantly an intense pain enveloped her body as if her bones were being crashed, causing her a temporary loss of consciousness. When she came to, the demon was already carrying her.

Her feet came into a skidded halt when Chou stopped. Mai frown at the sight of a gray wall in front of her. A large broken window on the right, on the left side was another concrete wall.

The way she sees it ... it's a dead end.

"Ano. . .did we took a wrong turn?" She brought herself to ask.

'No.'

She looked around, trying to find another way that could lead them outside. But the window is the only possible exit, unless the wall open and show a hidden door.

'Need...jump.' Chou informed her.

"What!?" She exclaimed, eyes bulging in surprise. "Seriously!? You want me to jump from the window and get myself killed? Are you really helping me escape or making my death easy?"

'Trust. . .me ...' He said. 'Hurry up.'

With a troubled look, Mai glanced at the window for a second and back at Chou. "You sure about this?"

'Yes. . .'

Mai climbed at the window.

Her hands started to sweat and she didn't like the feeling of nervousness that is slowly creeping inside her veins. The atmosphere grows heavier it made the nightly breeze more cold than usual.

All will be fine... ...yes. That is, if she's not about to jump. For pete's sake! They're at the fourth floor of the mansion and this is definitely suicide. She's not sure if she could survive the fall with her body in decent condition if she'll live. At that rate, she's better off dead.

Mai winced. She could feel the pain from her wounded arm and feet. That demon's nail put a long cut on her arm and it's bleeding. Some small splinters from the broken glass wounded her feet. All of it are becoming more painful now.

They both fidgeted when they heard heavy footsteps right down where they came from. The footsteps are slow, as if the owner is taking his time to get where he should go.

'Who is it? Is it the demon or Kagiri?'

'Hurry up!' Chou yelled.

She nodded and quickly prepared herself. Mai shuddered as the wind touched her bare arms and neck. The night was remarkably quiet. It was like a thrilled audience waiting for the climax to start. She looked down and gulped after seeing how high the place where she stood is.

'At the count of three I'll jump.' She said to herself. 'Ok...I can do this ... if I die, I'll live again after one hundred years.' She took a deep breath and started counting. "One...two...aaaaah!" She didn't finish counting as Chou decided to push her down.

'Sorry...' Chou muttered.

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