Scene XXII: Clashed Hearts
Concordia, Void of Chaos. 2014, May
The Enchantress had taken the chance to slip away once again after Tsume gained everyone’s attention. Yoku dragged her fingers through her tangled, violet hair and fixed it into a messy bun upon her head. She sniffled, wiping away the blood from her face with the back of her sleeve and inhaled deeply.
She had never expected anyone to get close enough to hurt her; let alone Senbo of all people. Alas, she supposed if The Parasite had been capable of killing Dotai, then he could probably kill anyone if given the chance.
Yoku exhaled, ducking down a dune slope and stopped, pressing a hand to her chest at the sight of Nara limping his way towards her. She raised a perfect brow, quickly giving him a once over and scoffed.
“What happened to you? I expected more than this, Nara.”
Nara gasped for air; a hand pressed against his bleeding stomach. His skin was battered and bruised, already turning a horrid purple in some places around his jaw and arms. He shook his head, closing his eyes and dropped both hands against his knees as he hunched forward to catch his breath; blood dribbling past swollen, cracked lips.
“You finished the job?” Yoku pressed on. She tucked back a strand of hair behind her ear and bent her knees, reaching out to grab the man’s chin and lift his head to stare into his eyes. “I would hate to think you ran away from those two idiots.”
“I, ugh, took care of it.” Nara swallowed thickly, eyes flickering between Yoku’s gaze. He glanced over her shoulder to see the destruction and flares of mayhem up the dune slope. “They’re both dead.”
Yoku moved, releasing Nara’s chin to turn back and look at the chaos she left behind. She allowed Nara to move, to walk his way back up the slope and into the fighting to get back the revenge he so craved. Yoku could hardly care for the nature of his grudge; he was nothing more than a pawn in this entire game, and the queen was not ready to surrender just yet.
The distant sounds of groans and chokes from clones in the distance caught her attention. It was time to move, and as much as she would have loved to see Nara fight The God of Chaos head on, she needed to escape before her own curse backfired.
Turning on her heel, Yoku lifted a foot to move – only to meet a fist to the face.
Tsumi Kokutan watched The Enchantress’ eyes roll back into her head before she collapsed to the floor. Emotionless as always, the girl with silver hair sighed and lifted her head to the sounds of Magick, fighting, screaming, and crying overhead. The red speck in her eye covered her pupil and she groaned, fingers twitching.
Muzai could not stop staring at Senbo as he huddled behind Hokori. She remembered the way he moved the day they first met, how he skulked down the halls of the courtroom with unease. Now he looked like a scared animal under attack – he hardly looked terrifying, despite the blood covering his arms.
Hokori had flipped Muchina onto his stomach by now, pinning him against the dirt to prevent his teeth from biting anyone passing by. He continued to struggle and wail, cries growing croaky and uneven. He was tiring himself out and it was enough to make the group relax somewhat.
Kiba sat on the outside of the group, tearing his sleeve to serve as a bandage for Tsume’s severed arm. He conjured a healing spell to stop the blood and, miraculously enough, Tsume recovered from her influence under The Enchantress’ virus. In fact, she no longer looked ill, at all.
“Hey!” Kiba snapped, grabbing Muzai’s attention. “Help me out!”
“What do you need?” Muzai asked in a small voice as she moved. Her hands gripped the ends of her ripped dress, wishing she had the fortune to meet Tsume under better circumstances.
“We gotta move Yumi.” Kiba stood up, motioning to where The Mistress was kneeling beside her dear Sorcerer. “He’s not heavy and I’m sure we can move him between us. We gotta get him somewhere shaded and out of the sun.”
“Will he be alright?”
“Mistress seems to think so,” Kiba sighed. He turned on his heel, expecting Muzai to follow. “I’m gonna stick with her theory. She’s normally right about, well, everything.”
As Muzai knelt beside The Mistress, her hand was grasped by Aisu and she squeezed her gratitude. Muzai squeezed back silently, unable to get used to those dead eyes which stared right through her. She was like some character from a horror film – the immortal girl with white eyes who knew who you were without having to announce yourself.
“I apologise,” Aisu began, returning her hand to Yumi’s chest to summon a small healing spell – something she had been doing since Kiba had taken the burden of yanking the remains of Tsume’s arm from Yumi’s chest. “I had hoped our effort to come here would be for a good cause. It seems such a thing was not so true. I believe we have only made things more complicated for ourselves.”
“I wouldn’t say it was a total wasted journey. But I’m sorry you had to expose yourselves to Yoku like that.” Muzai turned to look at Yumi’s chest slowly rising and falling. “Now that she knows you’re alive, what will you do?”
“Mother is quite unpredictable at times and I understand she has upgraded her immortality. It is unsure exactly what she would do next. It merely depends on the amount of research she has gained during this latest experiment of hers – and depending on how many allies she has under her thumb.” Aisu’s lips puckered. She blinked, white eyelashes brushing against soft cheekbones. “Mother has an extraordinary way of bribing people against their will, no doubt she already has people on her side in all of this. Like The God of Chaos, for example.”
Muzai sighed shakily, turning her head. She saw Hokori and Senbo whispering among themselves. Despite Senbo’s bloodied fingers clinging the bright fabrics of his shirt, Hokori hardly seemed to mind and leant forward, bumping foreheads with The Parasite. It would have been a comforting image if not for the struggling Muchina under Hokori’s hand.
“Not anymore.” Muzai looked away. “Before you arrived, Hokori had been ready to take Yoku down. He even helped Kin deal plenty of damage after Katsubo was… hurt.” She trailed off, turning her attention to where Kin sat with Katsubo propped against him.
“That is good news.” Aisu hummed softly. “Hokori is a very powerful man. You know he created the Void himself from scratch, yes? A barrier to minimalise all Magick in the world into one place, away from the Dabblers.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask,” Muzai wet her lips; knowing the situation was not necessary for Q&A. “What happened before Hokori was born? How was Magick managed if there was no Void to summon Magick from?”
“I shall tell you everything, one day.”
Kiba was quick to cut the conversation short as he wrapped his arms around Yumi’s chest and hoisted him up. Muzai scrambled to stand and took the man’s skinny legs. Kiba had said Yumi wasn’t heavy, but she could hardly believe just how light he was. In fact, she was sure Kiba could have carried him all by himself without aid.
“Here will do.” Kiba motioned, nodding towards the shaded ground beside the large boulder that Kobi stood atop of.
They laid Yumi against the dusty ground and settled him into a comfortable position. He made no movement of his own, save for the slight stir and the mumble of a sound. Despite how little the action had been, Kiba had smiled with relief and turned to Muzai.
Muzai nodded, leaving the man to walk around the boulder and join Kin. She tucked her skirt under her legs before kneeling and smiled when Kin looked up. Katsubo’s head was slumped against Kin’s shoulder but his breathing was steady. He was peaceful. Alive.
“Hari’s coming back.” Chishiki spoke up. He sat upon the boulder beside Kobi’s legs, having previously been pinpointing their enemy’s locations for Kobi to dispose of, or at least stun before they could get anywhere near them. “She has Kumo with her.”
Kobi turned her attention from the struggling Muchina and over to where Chishiki was pointing. She raised her porcelain arm, shielding her eyes from the sun to see their friends in the distance. “Brilliant eyes, hon. I see them-”
A scorching flash of light shot through the air. The solar flare of Magick plunged itself against Kobi’s arm, shattering the china prosthetic to pieces. The attack was so abrupt that Kobi had no time to catch herself and she lost her footing, toppling over the edge of the boulder.
Everyone turned to see Nara. His arms were raised, and a wide, wicked smile rested upon his face. The static of Magick was still flickering against his fingers when he sneered, taking a step closer.
Hokori cursed, looking from Nara and over to Kobi. He watched her roll onto her stomach and force a small cough to leave her pink lips. She nodded towards him, a silent confirmation that she was fine and sat up to catch her breath. Turning his attention back to Nara, Hokori growled.
“Whatever it is your idiotic mind is telling you, stop it.” Hokori grit his teeth, struggling to keep Muchina pinned to the ground as Nara walked towards him. “I always knew you were something of an oddball, but even this is a bit much.”
“You know what, Boss? Shut the fuck up! I mean, honestly, look at you, I thought you were s’posed to be a mastermind in the Void, but ya can’t even keep that piece of shit Muchina down. I mean, c’mon, you created this world, didn’t you?” Nara threw his arms up, stopping only a few feet away. Stony, blue eyes flickered to Senbo briefly. “But even God has his weaknesses, huh?”
Hokori stiffened, completely vulnerable given the circumstances. From behind him, Senbo stared with wide eyes and began to whisper a short, soft mixture of words. It would have sounded satanic, if anyone had heard it. His spells often radiated Hostile Magick; a taboo type of summon only he had dared to learn. When he snapped his fingers, Nara screamed.
Everyone jumped back when Nara’s arms bent back against his will and he choked. His mocking expression was wiped clean from his face. Now he looked frightened as his knees buckled and he hit the floor, bending in an awkward position until he was pressed against the ground.
“Senbo!” Hokori snapped. He moved his hands away from Muchina without thought and the grabbed Senbo’s wrists to stop him from flexing his fingers like a puppeteer. “Enough!”
Senbo jolted in surprised and vanished before reappearing opposite Hokori. He rubbed his shaking hands together and shook his head to apologise when Muchina snarled, breaking free to pounce and make his way over to Kobi. He hunched, looming over the girl and growled, baring teeth and slobbering behind heavy pants of air.
Kobi tensed, raising her single arm to shield herself from being torn apart. When no attack came, she blinked, staring up into Muchina’s eyes to find traces of pleading and suffering. It made her falter, and she dropped her arm back to the ground, supporting her weight as she leant back when Muchina bent down and reached out a shaking hand.
Kobi squeezed her eyes shut again, turning her head in fear. She had every chance to use her Magick if she really wished to. Yet she could not force herself to hurt him. Muchina was her friend, her family! Even if he was a little unwell right now. Thus there was no spell or pain, only a brush of cold fingers against her stumped arm.
“What…?” Kobi breathed, opening her eyes to watch Muchina’s fingers brush across the marred flesh of her shoulder. No-one had ever touched it; at least, not with care. Not even Nara had gone to the trouble of acknowledging her flaws when they were messing around. “Muchina?”
“…K…ob…i…-” Yet another solar flare came out of the blue, engulfing Muchina’s arm and sending him flying through the air; far from Kobi.
“Muchina!” Kobi screeched. She got to her feet and turned her gaze back to where Nara stood, having picked himself off the ground.
“I knew you liked that pissbaby!” He sneered, panting under the strain of Senbo’s spell.
“Are you seriously getting into that again?!” Kobi barked. She balled her fist and strode across the desert, giving everyone a strict warning not to get in her way. “I actually used to think you were good, but now I’m starting to see things for what they really are! You really are a dick!”
“About time you grew some sense, girl.” Nara wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead and chuckled. “Show me what a weakling like you is capable of!”
In the midst of the drama, Hokori got to his feet and grabbed Senbo by the elbow. He pulled him away from Nara and Kobi’s clashing, pushing him against a boulder and out of sight or range of any spell.
“You need to leave.” The God of Chaos ordered. “You must leave.”
“It can’t – no! I won’t leave! I c-can’t!” Senbo exclaimed, thrashing against the boulder beneath him. His eyes were wide as he stared over Hokori’s shoulder and he whined loudly, arms reaching out to get past the God. “Tsumi’s coming! I need to see her!”
Hokori grabbed Senbo around the waist, hiking him off the ground and further behind the boulder before Tsumi could see them. Senbo continued to flail and inhaled deeply to scream his location for everyone to hear when Hokori moved his hand over his mouth and shoved him to the ground, pinning him down before he could shout, cry, or do something utterly stupid.
“Do you want to die, is that it?” Hokori hissed, lowering his head to keep his words at a whisper. “You and I both know that Tsumi is far more powerful in this dimension than you could ever be. And if you forget, my dear, your powers are not as reliable as they once were. You are growing weak; you are unable to think straight. Tsumi wants to kill you – she will kill you. She shall finish the job this time, understand?!”
Senbo stared up at Hokori. His sky-blue eyes flickered between his gaze and he stilled before slowly shaking his head and vanishing in a wisp of smoke.
“Senbo!” Hokori slammed his fist against the ground and shot to his feet. He practically tripped against his own speed, rounding the boulder to find The Parasite walking towards Tsumi. “Senbo!”
Senbo ignored The God’s cries and limped. His breathing was weak, and his limp occurred after using his powers so carelessly in a short span of time. He ignored the dull pain in his ankle and continued on his way – only to be beaten at meeting Tsumi by a certain redhead getting to her first.
Senbo watched Muzai throw her arms around Tsumi’s neck and bury her face against her chest. He felt his body shake when he saw Tsumi return the affection, even if it had been hesitant.
“Aibori,” Senbo whispered. “Muzai Aibori…”
His arms turned dark, summoning the coldness of the Void into his fingertips. He had the power to absorb negative energy in his Magick and the Void was full of negativity. All that was left in the air was a sharp, sickly scream as The Parasite raised his arms to strike Muzai down.