Flame in the Dark

Chapter 6

The woman with golden hair stood in the centre of living circle formed by strange figures, coming from some ghostly circus gang of oddities. Colorfully dressed people moved rhythmically around their queen reciting the rhyme, the only memory from Mei’s childhood which was not blinded by irrational hate for two friends, fueled by tempting of the centuries-old evil. The woman sensed that people hated by her approached her kingdom with the intention of destroying her. Some stranger was with them, somebody whom she personally didn’t know, but it didn’t make any difference for her. She was sure that she would be able to defeat his easily. Lamps on attractions of the funfair shined with colorful lightings, merry-go-rounds were revolving and spectral figures of guests, children and adults, were walking along avenues surrounded by sounds of the laughter and conversations heard as if they were played from tape recorders hidden somewhere. Mei wanted the place to resemble the funfair she had visited a few hours before the fire destroyed her body.

“Friends, Thank you for being with me through all the time. Thank you for everything you did for me. I will never create new companion for you again, since my enemies destroyed the place which gave me the power of creation... now my enemies are coming here and want to take everything away from me! This beautiful park, you, my friends... even this beautiful body.”

Everyone gathered listened carefully to the woman. In spite of the fact that each of them was only a fragment of the mind of the small girl or memory of somebody who lost his life in the completely different place many years ago, everyone of them had a fragmentary self-awareness providing understatement of other people’s words and carrying out orders.

“You are my last line of defense, my friends! Therefore I ask you for the last favor... stop my enemies, even for the price of your own life!”

None of circus performers needed hear the order twice. They walked around all over surroundings, heading to forest, to the place shown by the woman with golden hair. The lady as great as the mountain rolled in the company of two smiling clowns and the two-headed dog dragged his owner with three legs. Short men with shaven heads equipped themselves in daggers and soon disappeared in thickets surrounding rust-eaten enclosing of the entertainment park. Mei stayed alone in the middle of her kingdom.

At the same time, Rei, Masanori and Arthur were walking through the path overgrown by grass and bushes with thorny branches from both sides. The music of the park reached their them from a distance, muffled by leaves and hills stretching all around.

“Nothing is happening.” Masanori said being pleased that he came across no situation which would remind him of his nightmares from last years.

“Perhaps closing her portal was enough? Perhaps she was defeated?” He asked.

“I’m not such an optimist. I could see a lot of bastards similar to her and believe me, they aren’t giving up so easily.” The bald man spoilt his mood with his pessimism.

“Arthur is right. I sense her... or rather than the woman who became a demon. I sense the part of living flame in her. It’s completely different than the one which I have in myself, it’s rejecting me even from the great distance.”

“Rei, remember that she... she is very powerful even now when she isn’t drawing the power from the wormhole. And moreover, now when you recovered your memory, she can use it to her benefit. She can try to cheat you, to arouse compassion... you cannot be fooled.”

“I’m not going to. I’m not a naive teenager.”

“Rei, have something changed since you came back from the past? I mean, your ability to control the flame.”

“No. It’s as the same as before. I’m feeling fuller and stronger. I’m sure that I can generate flames even not being transformed. I think that it will stay this way forever. Visions of spells about which I had not the foggiest idea, are turning up in my head.”

“That’s great. You must be in the full combat readiness.”

“I could see Rei in an action, so I don’t worry...” Masanori joined conversation.

“But in how do you want to fight? Do you know some tricks?” He asked coming up to the bald man.

“Only the one which I’m holding in the hand.” Dale replied showing his handgun.

“Ah yes... I already got to know it. The last time I could see it, its barrel was next to my head.”

“You deserved it.”

“I’m glad that I don’t remember this.” -The girl interjected after a brief lapse.

“Who do you want to shoot with it? I tried to free myself from her this way, I borrowed the weapon from my friend and I waited for her appearance with her procession. I became convinced that she was immune to bullets, after all she is already dead.” Masanori communicated facts known to him.

“The ordinary weapon won’t hurt her, you are right but this handgun has unusual bullets inside. Each of them has special spell engraved, destroying all signs of demonic powers. I think that one shot will be enough to stop the control of the demon and destroy her undead body.”

“Why didn’t I have it, when she tormented me each night?” The boy asked rhetorically.

“Quiet! Something is coming near!” The bald man announced. Some shapes flashed in darkness of the forest. Rei closed eyes and the diadem on her head glistened with scarlet glitter. The ball of fire which lightened the entire neighborhood like a lamp appeared above her head. It was possible to see short figures with daggers in hands in the thicket. One of them approached Masanori’s back dangerously.

“Rei!” The boy shouted. The black-haired woman-warrior kicked the face of the assailant with heel of her shoe. The hunter of demons knocked next two Lilliputians over, disarming them effectively. Short men very quickly got up from the earth and disappeared in the darkness taking their unconscious friend with them.

“You are a quick learner, Rei. You can’t waste the magical energy on such things.” Arthur said smiling.

“But you surely can waste the energy on such things, right?” Masanori spoke pointing at the approaching huge woman, strongman with the face overgrown by a beard and a few horribly laughing clowns.

“This fat woman irritated me from the beginning. ” The bald man said pointing the handgun at the large old hag.

“Are you sure that these aren’t real people?” Rei asked.

“Yes, you were a witness of the birth of the demon and his group.” Arthur replied.

“I wanted to hear it from somebody one more time. ” The girl answered and a bow of fire appeared in her hands.

“Mars Flame Sniper!” She shouted and the fiery arrow appeared on the bow and extremely quickly dashed in the direction of circus clowns. One of them was pierced through with it. He reeled and turned into the heap of ash, with a horrifying scream and senseless laughter. At the same time, Arthur Dale shot the second circus performer in the head. Clown, similarly to his friend a few moments earlier, tumbled down like a large mountain of sand destroyed by a coastal wind.

“Damn it, I’m feeling completely useless now.” Masanori announced looking at work of destruction of his companions.

“Hwaaa” The fat woman screamed with a terror, turning around awkwardly. She was ready for the escape, because her simple mind was able to predict the results of the clash with more powerful opponents.

“Get lost from here and say to your ghostly acquaintances that if they want to live, they’d better let us walk through” Rei spoke to the woman trying to pick up speed and be farthest from the ones which horrified her so much.

“It was too easy.” Masanori told as soon as the big ass of the woman disappeared behind bushes.

“They aren’t so terrible as we thought. Mei, and the one who controls her, gave them too much human features, including the cowardice.” Rei replied.

“I wouldn’t be pleased prematurely.” The hunter of demons added. The entire threesome moved into the way forward. They went along the overgrown footpath through grass and weeds and the ball of fire generated by abilities of the black-haired girl lightened their path up. Soon the route transformed into the forest clearing and lights of the funfair appeared before their eyes. Rei stood being silent on the edge of the precipice from which the panorama of the abandoned funfair stretched, listening to the music repeating itself as played from a broken gramophone record and a colorful lights of non-existent neon lights glittered in her eyes. The girl remembered newly regained memories: the warm summer day, meeting on the market and a walk to the funfair, playing with Mei and Masanori. After a moment she remembered also recent events: ghostly procession of circus freaks, malaise, fever and pain in every part of the body, frenzy which forced its way into her mind along with whispers of the children’s mouth and the dance of circus clowns. She closed her eyes and firmly clenched fists. Meanwhile, the bald man came up to Masanori.

“Ghostly place.” He announced looking at spectral roller coaster.

“Yes, all years it was in my mind and drove me mad.”

“Therefore today we must destroy this funfair.” The girl added.

“And you’d better start right now.” She finished. When she took a few steps along a path leading down to the gates of the funfair, she noticed that the reception committee had awaited her there. Great strongman, three legged dancer, short men, a few acrobats and fire-eaters, and fat woman with the male facial hair in the distance. All were protecting the place of their own creation.

“Aren’t they able to learn by mistakes?” Rei asked upset with the appearance of the next obstacle.

“They aren’t able to oppose the will which appointed them to a life. They are worried about what will happen to them, because they understand the world surrounding them, but without the free will they can be only a tool of the crazy intelligence ruling this place.” The bald man shared his ideas.

" I’m fed up with all of this!” The girl didn’t hide her irritation.

“Fire Soul!” She shouted forming the sphere of fire in hands. The ball flew in the direction of the strongman, setting him on fire as if the man was poured with liters of petrol. Daggers thrown by unusually thin mimes, sword swallowers, soared up towards Rei immediately. Dale wanted to react, but Sailor Mars was faster.

“Burning Mandala!” She cast the next offensive spell, this time looking like many hoops of fire rushing with a great speed to the knives. She managed to destroy every sharp object and the next portion of fiery circles destroyed artificial bodies of ghostly circus performers dressed in white.

“Fire Soul! Burning Mandala! Mars Flame Sniper!” The girl fell into the battle trance, casting a spell after a spell at the armies of circus freaks. Martian flames ravaged acrobats, swallowers of flames, clowns, three legged dancer and her bizarre dog, short men with small bald heads and a lot of other colorful people whom she was afraid so much not so long ago. Masanori and Arthur looked at performance of the girl with a concern, thinking whether they weren’t in danger in the vicinity of the raging element controlled by the black-haired woman-warrior.

“Fire Birds Soul!” Rei used one of newly taught spells and two wild birds with eyes shining like dying stars appeared above her head. Ardent ravens encircled the warrior a few times and attacked the fat woman. Both hit simultaneously, arousing the explosion in the shape of large, flaming wings.

“Rei, I’m afraid of you... who are you?” Masanori said, but not loud enough so that the girl could hear him.

“Are we coming in?” The bald man asked.

“No. We didn’t defeat all opponents.” The girl announced.

“How come?” Arthur looked all around in search for enemies about which her friend was talking.

“Look ahead, Arthur. All these lights, sounds, the music and laughter’s. They should not be here, it’s unnatural work of the evil consciousness. We must extinguish these lights and restore the funfair to a state in which it should be after many years of abandonment and disintegration.”

“It will take a bit too long for us, don’t you think?” Masanori asked.

“No. Not long.” Rei answered smiling. She raised hands above the head and closed her eyes. The diadem on her head lighted up with a glitter of a ruby again. The girl opened eyes which turned out to be changed, flaming with a real fire, like the ancient flame of Mars, burning outside the time and space, took over her body.

“Mars Flaming Storm!” Sailor Mars recited her most powerful spell. Red-brown clouds appeared on the sky and after a moment the rain started to fall down. It wasn’t an ordinary rain, or a downpour or even a hailstorm, but the real rain of the fire, like tens of burning meteorites in the atmosphere. Fiery balls fell on the park and destroyed its attractions one after the other. All lights on places of entertainment and on large roller coaster were consumed by flames and disappeared like darkening windows of the large tower block in which people are lying down to sleep after a heavy working day. The merry-go-round with wooden horses hit with the ball of fire smashed into small shreds and its music went quiet, the laughter of spectral children also silenced. Fireballs were falling also on the main square of the funfair and Mei was watching with a terror her work of live and a tool for revenge being digested by the fire of her old friend and the biggest enemy. One of the greatest flames, looking from a distance like the column of flame fell on the palace of the curiosities, in which everything began many years ago. Stuffed mutated animals, human fetuses of wax in large jars with formalin, photographs of old freaks living in the circus as well as the box, thanks to which Mei got the second live, everything disappeared under the influence of the heat of Sailor Mars’ spell who was learning her real power. Rei lowered her hands, simultaneously falling down on her knees. Dale and Masanori ran to her quickly, not letting her fall down to the ground. In the same time, the rain of the fire ended and dark brown clouds disappeared as fast and mysteriously as they had appeared. The fire devoured every element of the scenery of the funfair, its glitter lightened up the entire neighborhood above which the night slowly yielded and a new day began. The girl looked mutely at her friends and they noticed with relief that she had been herself again and her eyes assumed the natural appearance. She pushed hands of both men from herself, trying to get up and to stay in the straightened position. She was weakened with using the unusually powerful spell, but yet she insisted not to stop, to go further into raging flames consuming wooden attractions of the destroyed funfair.

“Are you sure that you are ok? We can retreat and come back here when you regain strength...” The bald man suggested being worried about the health of his friend.

“No!” Rei replied coldly.

“She would also regain strength. We cannot afford it.”

“Or perhaps she already died... after what you did with this place...” Masanori said looking at raging flames and the viewing tower tumbling down in the distance.

“She didn’t die. And she is regaining the strength to square up with me for the last time.” Rei moved ahead, using the magic in order to extinguish flames burning on her road. She was in the middle of the square, exactly in the same central place in which Mei surrounded by the procession of bizarre figures from the circus stood not so long ago. The girl looked all around trying to spy her opponent, but the fire consuming everything around and the thick smoke of the burning wood of both old paints and varnishes constituted the effective cover to her senses. The place looked as if it became a victim of the concentrated air raid a moment ago, the prevailing heat around had an influence on Rei, her eyes were watery and the smoke annoyed the her respiratory track. In spite of all inconveniences, the girl persisted in her search. At some point, she felt that something was approaching to her with a huge speed. Instinctively, she dodged aside and the big ball compound of flames and strange black tar smashed beside her showering her leg with burning chips. Mei loomed from a clouds of smoke. Arthur Dale pointed his handgun to her.

“I have you demon. This time I can look into your real eyes rather than into the eyes of some puppet!” He shouted. The woman with golden hair looked at him with the contempt.

“I don’t have a time to deal with such an insect as you!” She hissed through clenched teeth. The fiery ball formed in her hand and soon it was launched towards the bald man. The bullet exploded right before his body, effectively deafening him and burning exposed parts of the body. Arthur fell down to the ground and his handgun fell down besides, straight into dirty sand.

“Dale!” Rei turned to his side. She got scared seeing the motionless body of the man, she was afraid of the worst. It was her mistake. The opponent used her moment of inattention and her fingers transformed into fiery knives. After a moment, their dreadful whistle deafened all other local sounds and Rei’s blood splattered on the earth and the nearby building.

“Rei!” Masanori got scared seeing the black-haired girl kneeling before the demon, holding her arm on which blood appeared. Soon the entire Sailor Mars’ glove became wet and red and blood not only dripped up to her feet, but it started flowing with a large stream. Mei looked at the hurt woman-warrior with ill satisfaction. Rei didn’t think too long, she knew that she had had to save herself with every possible means. She generated the intense warm in the hand which effectively stopped the bleeding. She felt great pain, but in spite of it the girl didn’t show her opponent the weakness.

“Why are you doing it Mei? Why do you hate me so much?” She asked.

“You know the answer. Who are you now Rei, after many years? You have your own life, you certainly studies, you have a work and friends. You have everything what you took from me in one night, in one brief lapse.” Mei generated a warm wave which violently knocked the woman-warrior down. Rei raised from the dirty earth looking at her old friend. She decided to use the last chance to talk some sense into her. Masanori stood by the bald hunter of demons. He became convinced that the man hadn’t been dead but only unconscious. He looked with a fear at the heroine with golden hair of his nightmares as well as her former friend kneeling at her feet. Rei had triggered the storm of fire, she had destroyed the entire funfair and in spite of it she surrendered to the power of the demon. How much powerful he was and was there any chances of defeating him?”

“Mei... what happened then in the funfair isn’t my fault... neither mine, neither Masanori’s, neither yours... it was unfortunate accident. We became victims of the power which had fun with our cost...” Rei was talking to delay the fight against her old friend.

“How dare you lie like this! How dare you to tell me that you were also a victim! You weren’t burnt alive then! You didn’t feel the same pain! You escaped from there with this bloody coward leaving me behind to become a prey for the element! You killed me!”

“Mei, I was a child then... we were children... I could not help you in any way, if I tried, I would finish the same as you! I was afraid!”

“If you didn’t turn up in our city, it wouldn’t come to this! It’s you who are the real anomaly, much more disgusting than all my friends whom you destroyed! If not your fire I still would be alive, I would have a life and a work and friends and a beloved! I wouldn’t be an apparition roaming through the abandoned park of entertainment, frightening people in sultry summer nights! I wouldn’t be a spirit of a revenge, whose happiest thought was that at one time I would be able to destroy the ones who took my life away!” Mei ran up to Sailor Mars and slapped her in the face.

“And now you took away from me even these... my friends... my kingdom... source of my power...”

“Everything what you’re saying is the truth... my fire summoned the demon, freed him and made him able to posses you. My fire destroyed your body and filled your soul up with the hate of the evil from ages ago... but if there is at least a piece of the former Mei in you, you must know that I didn’t make it specially... I was a child, I didn’t know that I was different, unusual... I didn’t know what kind of power I had... I still don’t understand it, although I’m able to use magic flames. Other powers participated in what had happened with you, like for example the tunnel which connected the past with the future during the ritual initiated by your grandmother. That’s all is so complicated, it is hard to judge explicitly what was the result and what was the cause...”

Meanwhile, Masanori approached Arthur’s handgun. He squatted next to it and after a moment of thought picked it up going toward two women.

“Perhaps you weren’t conscious of what was happening, but it does not change the fact that you killed me Rei, you destroyed my body and changed my soul into something horrible, infernal... I hate you and I will destroy you no matter what.” Mei said angrily. Sailor Mars got up from the earth and ignoring pain approached the demon with golden hair.

“Mei... I promised your grandmother that I would give you the well-deserved rest. I am here only for this reason, if you provoke me, I am ready to do everything in order to fulfill the promise even without your agreement. But I would like these last hour to help us find agreement and forgiveness...”

“A long time ago I decided that there was no other way for me than the revenge on two of you. I won’t change my mind and even if I won’t achieve my purpose today I will find you and I will kill. The same as your entire family, if you have anybody.”

The last Mei’s words convinced Rei that the girl had been too pervaded with pain and hate to try to talk with her rationally and to reach any agreement. Only the power had any chance of a success.

“Well. In that case I’ll fulfill the promise and I’ll send you to eternal rest.” She said closing her eyes.

“Fire Soul.” She whispered throwing a huge ball of fire at the girl with golden hair. Mei smiled stopping the large bullet in midair, right before her face. Rei was surprised. Instinctively, she prepared for the defense. The energy released by the charm was returned directly at the black-haired woman-warrior. Rei managed to dodge the huge outburst, but ardent wave reached her, deprived her of the balance and knocked over into dirty sand. Mei bent over her, grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head up with all her might.

“Now you can experience your own power. You can feel tongues of fire on your own skin. You aren’t able to defeat me because I control every aspect of your magic, I am immune to it. Your death will be equally painful as mine years ago... I will burn your hair, hands, legs... I will burn your throat and lungs... you will be suffering the same as I then...”

“Leave her alone!” Masanori cried pointing the gun barrel at the women. Mei noticed him, pushed Sailor Mars from herself and approached the boy with a saunter.

“Did you already forget that you had tried to do something similar at one time? Did you forget how I had punished you then? Or perhaps I must remind you about it?” She said smiling maliciously.

“Stay away from me... you’ll regret this!” Masanori’s voice cracked, he wasn’t able to hide the fear at the sight of women demon.

“I have a proposal for you Masanori. If you will come up to Rei and you will shoot her at the head, I swear, that I will leave you alone. I will never again be invading you in your dreams and better I will let you depart from this place. This woman destroyed me, reduced my body to ashes, so it will be just, if a similar fate meets her from hands of other childhood friend.”

The boy hesitated, he was looking at Rei getting up from the earth.

“Bullets won’t hurt, you had seen this in the past. You also know that I always keep my words. I promised that I would turn your life into the nightmare and it had happened, right? Now I promise that I will leave you alone. You have to put the barrel to the head of this murderess and pull the trigger. It’s so simple. Once, you have agreed to destroy her in the indirect way by infecting her with the virus created by me. My request now doesn’t differ from that one.”

Masanori slowly raised the handgun, pointing it at the black-haired girl. His eyes was running all around, every couple of minutes meeting with eyes of Rei or the crazy Mei’s eyesight. Fear of the woman and memories of a few final years caused that he seriously considered fulfilling the proposal of the blonde. In the end, he decided to act. He made a decision to get even with demons from the past. He violently moved the weapon at Mei’s direction body and fired. The bullet on which magic inscriptions were engraved hit the shoulder of the woman, piercing it through. Mei was shocked, she felt great pain which she could not expect. She clutched her wound from which fiery blood poured.

“How is it possible?” She asked.

“Every bullet of this weapon is protected by the spell. It isn’t an ordinary handgun.” Masanori replied feeling relief that the bald hunter of demons had told the truth about his handgun.

“I won’t let you...” Mei raised her healthy hand towards the face of the boy. She wanted to attack him the same as Rei a few minutes ago.

“Be gone you witch...” Masanori said shooting again. This time the bullet hit blonde straight at the centre of the forehead. The woman fell down to the ground silently and burning blood pool started forming around her body.

“I really did it... it’s the end..” The boy was talking to himself looking at still warm barrel of the gun belonging to the hunter of demons. Rei moved closer to him. She was surprised by what he had done a moment ago, his courage and the final decision.

“You risked a lot. What would you do if she turned out to be immune to it? The second solution was much simpler.”

“I told you I won’t run away anymore” The boy replied coldly and walked away towards Arthur who managed to regain consciousness. He gave him his weapon back.

“It is your property.” He said.

“Good job.” The hunter replied.

“This is really the end. Let us go away from here before somebody from the city becomes interested in “Rei, you must do something more.” Dale informed.

“Yes?”

“You must destroy her body. We aren’t sure if she is able to revive if we leave her like this.”

“I don’t want to do it for the second time.” The girl said.

“You must. After all you promised that you would let Mei rest for the eternity, true?”

“Yes.” Rei answered and turned around coming back to the place where Mei’s body lay. She looked at dead eyes of the girl petrified in a huge surprise.

“Mei, prepare for the dream. You deserve this after many years of your endless nightmare.” She whispered. Tears appeared in her eyes.

“Now when I remembered all of this... you will remain in my memory forever as the friend from the childhood with golden hair. Fire Soul...” Rei create huge ball of fire which quickly consumed the slim body of the woman.

The girl was standing over the charring body of her forgotten friend. Arthur came up to her, because he guessed that people from the city could turn up at the burning funfair soon.

“Rei, let us walk away. We have nothing to do here anymore.” He said touching the hand of the girl.

“Yes... let us walk from here.” She replied wiping the tears away from her eyes. The entire threesome walked away from the park leaving the fire, clouds of smoke and pieces of burning matter afloat everywhere which once belonged to the most cheerful place in the surroundings. They won with the demon in the fight, but their triumph wasn’t a reason for joy. They were not talking to each other, not commenting and not looking back. Each one of them knew that they had been forced to take difficult decisions in the fight, whose consequences would torment them for years.

At dawn, an intense rain fell, the real downpour identical to the one which greeted Rei when she had got off the bus for the time first and had gone to the hotel, not suspecting what was supposed to happen to her in that city. Rivulets of water stifled raging flames in the funfair, effectively stopping them from attacking a nearby forest and then houses of small town. Rei spent the time in her hotel accommodation, packing up and preparing for the departure. She sat down on the sofa taking the shirt off and started examining the wound on the arm. The scar was ugly, the scab from blood clotted under the influence of the temperature looked hideous and bladders from burning appeared on the skin all around. The girl closed her eyes. She sighed leaning against the couch.

“Even when it gets well there will be a ugly scar.” She thought.

“Oh well, I must forget about the short sleeve.” She added. She looked towards the table on which scattered photographs taken from the house of the older woman lay. They all portrayed the small girl with blue eyes and they were done a short time before the death of the child in the funfair. The face of her friend from which hate fueled by the ancient demon radiated turned up at thoughts of the girl. Moment later, the image disappeared and others, even more terrifying view of dying Mei from whose wound in the head flaming blood was flowing, appeared. Rei knew that this image would be tormenting her in nightmarish dreams. Suddenly, somebody knocked at the door. Rei opened the door and asked the guest to come in. He turned out to be Arthur Knight.

“How are you feeling after all of this?” He asked. Rei corrected her hair, she lowered the eyesight in order to avoid the look of the bald man.

“Somehow, I am relatively fine. Really well for somebody who has killed her old friend twice.”

“Rei, you know that it was the only way. If you didn’t destroy her body, she could recovered and found you at one time. Sparing her would only postpone the ultimate confrontation. Apart from that, you destroyed only the demon, your friend died once, then in the park when you were children.”

“I know it. But the attempt to explain it in the rational way isn’t making it better, I’m feeling terrible.”

“I understand you Rei. But it’s a good sign that you’re feeling this way. If it became irrelevant to you, you would be lost completely.” Arthur noticed Mei’s photographs which the black-haired girl took away from the breaking down house of the girl’s grandmother.

“Are you sure that you want to take it? They will be reminding you of what happened here.”

“And that’s good. I must remember how far I went.”

“Don’t impose too heavy penance upon yourself. It won’t give you anything more than a psychic self-annihilation.”

“I conclude that you went through something like that at one time... otherwise you wouldn’t have this many advices for me.” The girl sat down on the sofa. She turned her head away towards the window and the bald man understood that had wanted to finish the theme. He sat down by her simultaneously looking attentively at her hand.

“Ugly looking. Are you sure that you don’t want to visit some hospital?”

“Perhaps I will do it when I come back to Tokyo, now I want only to get out of this place as soon as possible.”

" But we cannot leave the arm in such a state. Even if you get no infection, it will be hideous to look in the future.”

“Do you want to take me to the plastic surgeon?” Rei touched the wound on arm.

“No. Do you remember when you asked me about my abilities?”

“What’s that got to do with it?”

“I didn’t tell you the whole truth. I have one power, which cannot help me in the fight, but is useful when everything ends and the dust of battle falls down.” The hunter touched the arm of the girl. She instinctively broke free for him and moved away.

“What do you want?” She asked surprised.

“Trust me and don’t move. Did I cheat you before?” The bald man asked. Rei relaxed.

“No...”

“Sit calmly and close your eyes.” Dale said again touching the arm of the girl. Rei felt warmth going along her limb, radiating all the way to the torso and the head. At some point, she opened her eyes and turned away from the man, because the warmth started being unpleasantly hot. She looked at the arm and in astonishment she realized that her wound as well as burns entirely disappeared.

“How?”

“It’s my real ability. I’m able to heal wounds.” Dale replied overjoyed.

" You helped me... how many times now? Thanks.” The girl said.

“Actually I came to you from the completely different purpose. I forgot because our small conversation and the trick with treating the wound. I brought you the invitation.”

“Invitation?” Rei was surprised very much.

“To cool forest behind the café. Today, in a minute.”

Rei thought for a few seconds and very quickly understood what it was all about.

“Masanori! Isn’t he able to understand that I don’t want to talk to him?” The girl became nervous. She went to the window and opened it widely, because it was getting hotter outside.

“Rei. He made a terrible mistake and I felt like killing him not so long ago. But everything what he did after you got well in that abandoned factory, how he helped us... he did it to rectify his mistakes. Don’t you think that you should give him a chance? That you should let him say goodbye as friends do?”

“Nothing will change the fact that he tried to kill me.”

“Rei, don’t you think that the meeting with him can make you feel better? He is the only person who experience the exactly the same thing as you. He was with you in the funfair when the fire broke out, Mei hated him the same as you and she tried to destroy his life. Both it was he who had pulled the trigger and passed one of my magic bullets straight through Mei’s head, right?”

Rei came closer to the window. She looked silently at few clouds moving in the sky. She wanted to look at the night sky above Tokyo, on which there is no stars, as soon as possible.

“You’re right.” She said not turning to the man.

“I will go there and I’ll talk with him.” She replied deciding to grant the request of her friend.

When Rei reached the forest with the mountain stream hidden behind the café, there was a noon, but the heat wasn’t so bad because clouds appeared above the small town again. The girl went along the path, surrounded by green pleasant for eyes and the soothing rustle of water washing stones. She spotted Masanori standing on the bank of the stream, exactly in the same place in which she had stayed, when the boy had invited her to forest for the first time. She hesitated, whether to speak to him, or to go up closer, or perhaps to turn around and to walk away farthest from that place and never come back to it again. Masanori noticed her and asked her to join him.

“How are your wounds?” He asked.

“Well. Arthur Dale healed them. He has healing abilities or something similar.”

“It’s interesting. Looking at him one could think that he is gifted only for the destruction.”

“Rei, I went to forest in the morning. Many people are squirming there, the police, fire service, a lot of gawkers, everyone is taking photographs. From what I could hear, the park is supposed to be entirely demolished and the entire area will be converted into the forest with new trees. We won. Not a single one spot will remain of this cursed place.”

“It will remain...” The girl interrupted him, not waiting for his next statement.

In my memory. In the memory of us all.”

“Rei, thanks to you I managed to take revenge for all these years of suffering. I will always remember about it. Thank you.”

“It’s a pity that you tried easy ride at first.” The girl squatted. She put hands into the cold stream.

“I’ll always remember about it also.” The boy replied throwing the small pebble to the water.

“I’m not asking you for a forgiveness, but I want you to understand me.”

“I already understood. I went through psychological tortures of this woman, I know what they mean. You had enough of them and when the chance presented itself you used it. You behaved like the ordinary man fighting over his surviving and I’ll never be holding a grudge against you. You demonstrated that you can save yourself and what is the most important for me, you showed that you weren’t and you would never be my true friend. I came to say goodbye to you today, I will never come back to this place anymore. Thank you helping me to see my past, thank you for saving my life there in the park. Goodbye.” The girl answered gearing herself up to walk away. Masanori continued the conversation after the moment of silence.

“You mean there is no chance for us to become friends?”

“You’re right, Masanori. There is no chance.” Rei walked away leaving the boy with his thoughts.

Rei and Knight Arthur Dale met on the railway station in the nearby city for the last time. They both were ready for the travel and the return to everyday duties. They had a lot of questions to each other, but the majority of them was supposed to remain unanswered at the moment.

“Thank you that you helped me with my hunt, Rei.” The bald man said.

“I should thank you. After all it was who caused the entire thing and I drew you into it. Apart from that I don’t know how I could repay you for saving my ass, like three times.”

“Four times, if we want to be accurate. In the hotel when you fell ill for the first time, in the funfair, in the abandoned factory, where you almost died and at the end in the hotel, where I healed your arm.”

“Right. Let’s stop talking about details.” The girl smiled.

“How are you feeling? Did something change since the last night?” Dale changed subject.

“Are you asking about the flame? Nothing, it is still the same. I’m feeling strange being able to do something like that...” The girl showed the hand above which the tiny fiery ball went up.

“You will get used to this. More important is that you found the part of you lost long ago.”

“It puzzling me how many fragments of this fire are still in the world? The demon showed me images from the past. Some Inquisitor from the Europe used the fire for killing people. Who knows whether somebody is doing similar things to today’s times.”

“I think that you are now the only person who can find answers to these questions. If you want I can help you. I know people who know the greatest mysteries.”

“Yes, I would like to learn more about this fire. When it appeared inside me, I have a strange, irrepressible desire for searching for the truth.”

“Just remember to take care of yourself. I crammed myself into different trouble by looking where I should not have to.”

" I would like to know about this more also.”

“Rei, your train will leaving right away. You should hurry up.” The bald man recalled showing railroad cars standing close by.

“See you.” The girl smiled and waved goodbye to her new friend. After a moment she got one of railroad cars on. Arthur Dale Knight took his bag with luggage and moved ahead of himself in the direction known only to himself.

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