Arc 2: Chapter 20: Those Who Stare At The Flames

As the glass doors open, two people walk in through them. And seeing the two of them, the person who office it is they walked into sighs.

Rosevelt: “How many times have I told you to knock before entering my office?”

Walter: “What’s the point? You already know whoever and whenever is coming to your office by your ever active Aura Reading.”

Rosevelt sighs again, seemingly tired from something.

Rosevelt: “That maybe so, but there’s something called etiquette in this world.”

Walter, making an exasperated sound, scratches his cheeks.

Walter: “That’s a pretty boring subject, Phoenix.”

Knowing that there’s no way he’d be able to make Walter back off in this relatively unimportant argument; Rosevelt shifts his attention to the person beside Walter.

Rosevelt: “So, is she the one you think should replace Julius or Gin?”

Walter, hearing so, back-steps and lets the volcano beside her take the lead. She does so, impromptu.

Angela: “I’m Angela Holystone, a Volcano-”

Rosevelt: “I know.”

Cutting her introduction short, Rosevelt stares at her with an unchanging and unimpressed gaze.

Rosevelt: “Are you saying that you, a Volcano, have gained enough power to be promoted to the position of Hellfire?”

Having the question asked so directly, Angela thinks for a bit before composing herself and giving the answer.

Angela: “Yes.”

Rosevelt: “Hah!”

Despite her confident answer though, the Phoenix merely sighs and says,

Rosevelt: “What’s your age?”

Walter: “Isn’t it rude to ask a woman her age?”

Rosevelt: “It’ll be ruder to just peek into her mind to find out instead of asking her.”

Contemplating on that as if he never thought of it, Walter nods and says,

Walter: “I suppose.”

Knowing that it’s all just an act to annoy him, Rosevelt sighs and shifts his attention back to Angela, who doesn’t waste another moment in answering.

Angela: “I’m 28.”

Rosevelt: “Is that so?”

Not to say that he doubts her words but to say that he finds them interesting, Rosevelt looks away as he says,

Rosevelt: “To think that you are a Volcano at such an age, and are considered capable of becoming a Hellfire by none other than the strongest man in the world! You are quite something, aren’t you?”

Rosevelt merely stares at the darkening clouds from his glass windows as he says so but it gives him a mysterious vibe that Angela finds slightly discomforting.

She had met this man once before but it had not been a meeting worth remembering, especially for someone like the Phoenix who meets countless people every day.

For her though, it had been a meeting she can never forget. After all, the Phoenix gave her such an honor as to calling her a ‘Demi-Hellfire’ after judging her specs.

That was 5 years ago.

If Rosevelt remembers that, surely he would think it’s pretty normal that she has grown more powerful and has what it takes to become a Hellfire now.

Angela: “Well,”

With that thought in mind, Angela asks,

Angela: “So what do I have to do in order to be accepted as a Hellfire?”

Rosevelt chuckles upon hearing that question and answers, almost mockingly.

Rosevelt: “Normally, I’d just ask you to outmatch one of the Hellfires in their strong suit but, as things are right now, I think I have a better idea.”

Walter and Angela both fumble their eyebrows as they hear his ‘idea’.

Rosevelt: “Kill Abgere.”

Angela: “What!?”

Rosevelt: “If those that replace those two Hellfires will be people that Abgere can also kill like he killed them, then there’s no point in having them here.”

He states plainly.

Rosevelt: “If you want to become a Hellfire, you need to show me that you are not going to get killed and increase the burden of everyone else after encountering the man named Abgere.”

Though it isn’t the most convincing explanation given the Phoenix’s personality, Angela accepts it with a humble bow.

Angela: “Very well then, I shall bring you his head.”

*******************************

I … don’t know what to say.

After hearing what Trisha had to say in her Scrying session of Ethan, I am somewhat intrigued and somewhat anxious as to how Ethan will react to it.

For a whole minute now, he has done nothing but sigh.

Trisha: “I … didn’t offend you … in any way, did I?”

She asks, hesitantly.

Ethan: “No, you didn’t.”

As he says so plainly, there’s no reason to think otherwise, which is something pretty in character for him to be honest. Being offended from something like this isn’t what I’d expect of Ethan Kales.

Ethan: “Though, I would like to know why you had so much interest in Scrying upon me.”

That IS a good question.

Trisha: “Well, as a Seer, I have a sense of who will be an interesting subject and who won’t. And you seemed like the most interesting person here.”

Hearing so, he cackles.

Ethan: “Is that so?!”

I don’t know about interesting but Ethan definitely is the most complex and unpredictable person here. Maybe, to a Seer, those very qualities are the definition of ‘interesting’.

Sona: “If we are done with that, could we get on with the business we have here?”

She prompts them to and they comply by shifting their attention back on the purple ball.

Trisha: “Very well now. What was the place you wanted me to Scry the location of?”

Sona: “The Psychic Library.”

Though Sona’s answer comes in a pretty plain voice, Trisha finds herself in complete shock for a moment.

Trisha: “THE psychic library?”

Sona: “Yes. Is there a problem with that?”

Trisha makes a troubled face as she is asked that and Abgere and Gabriel furrow their brows at it. Ethan and Sneha just keep looking and Sona finds herself intrigued by it all. I, personally, try to show as less of a reaction as possible.

Trisha: “Well … I wouldn’t say it’s impossible … but, well, if I was really capable of doing something like that, don’t you think I would have found the library myself by now?”

A fair argument.

If someone can find the Psychic Library, a place that is bound to increase one’s intelligence as well as power, there’s no reason to think that they won’t try to find it.

However,

Ethan: “I suppose something like this was bound to come up in our conversation.”

He says so with a sly smile.

Ethan: “And it’s a good argument, I’ll give you that.”

Getting up from his seat and turning to the fireplace, he continues.

Ethan: “After all, who wouldn’t want to become more powerful and/or knowledgeable about the world, if they can.”

Trisha, Abgere, Gabriel and Sneha look at him with a confused visage.

Ethan: “However, there are forces in this world who don’t want us to find out the truth. These forces do all in their power, which is a lot of power by the way, to stop us from ever learning about the truth.”

‘These forces’ obviously refers to Ozyllus. However, since he’s using a plural term, maybe there’s someone else it’s referring to as well.

Ethan: “Maybe those forces are controlling you even now, stopping you from realizing that you can indeed find the location of the library, albeit in an indirect fashion.”

That’s very likely.

Ozyllus controlling her to think that way is very likely. And if that really is the case, we can try to get his conditioning out of the way.

Ethan: “Maybe that is the case.”

Yet, this guy and his vague remarks leave me unable to act based on just that.

Ethan: “Or, maybe there’s something more.”

Abgere: “And what would that be?”

Standing next to the fireplace, staring at it with strained eyes, Ethan answers,

Ethan: “Maybe your aunt doesn’t want us to find out the location of the library either.”

Abgere: “And why would she-”

Surprising almost everybody in the room, Trisha stops Abgere from saying anything else.

Trisha: “I guess my senses were right. You really are the most interesting person in the room, Ethan Kales.”

Ethan: “I beg to differ, but in any case,”

He turns and looks at us as he asks,

Ethan: “What deep, dark secrets are you hiding that stop you from Scrying out the location of the Psychic Library?”

Trisha: “If they are deep secrets, how can I just tell you what they are?”

So to say, that she really does have some secrets.

Ethan: “Fair enough, but I can take a guess.”

He says with a smile, the type of smile he usually has – a malicious grin.

Ethan: “When I was looking at this fireplace earlier, my eyes captured something inside it that quite intrigued me.”

I turn to the fireplace, and try to use Aura Reading but Ethan puts up a hand to stop me, knowing that I’d try to do that.

Ethan: “Two, or maybe three, or maybe even four days have passed, but the residue of something you burned here hasn’t gone away.”

Trisha eyes him suspiciously and Abgere looks at her, somewhat confused as to what is going on.

Of course, Ethan Kales just continues, not caring about either of the two’s reactions.

Ethan: “Fabric and blood, probably cotton clothes with blood on them. That’s what you burnt here some days ago.”

Trisha doesn’t deny it at all, but instead shows a defeated smile.

Ethan: “Mind explaining what the secret behind that is?”

*******************************

Walter: “Well, well, this has certainly become really interesting.”

He says as he looks at Angela Holystone, the volcano tasked with killing Abgere, and smiles excitedly.

Walter: “Can’t wait to see what you do to kill him.”

Hearing so, Angela sighs with exasperation.

Angela: “Well, it won’t be easy.”

Walter: “Definitely not.”

Like a child who is unable to contain his excitement the day before some important event is about to happen, Walter chuckles.

Walter: “So then, what are you going to do?”

Angela: “First, I’ll separate from the person who is slowing me down.”

Walter: “Ow, that’s harsh!”

Despite acting like he does though, he doesn’t take any offence to that statement. After all,

Angela: “If you help me, there’d be no point to this. And if you can’t help me, then obviously you are just going to slow me down.”

It’s true.

And so, Walter doesn’t argue with her.

Angela: “Thanks for everything you have done, but seeing the situation now, goodbye!”

She says in a half-sarcastic tone and starts heading off. Walter Schmidt watches from behind as she leaves and then brings out two of his fingers, joins them, and in quite the unnecessarily theatrical fashion, brings them to his forehead.

By doing so, he forces his brain to use long-range telepathy so he could mentally talk to a particular person. It doesn’t take too long for Walter’s telepathy to reach that person, and as soon as it does,

Walter: “Dyne, I have some interesting news for you.”

Spectre Dyne, the leader of the army of the Ghost Nation, speaks from the other end.

Dyne: “And what is that?”

Walter: “Will need to meet in person to tell you that.”

A sighing can be heard from the other end as the Spectre says,

Dyne: “Alright then, come to the Ghost Nation in the evening.”

Walter: “Hmm, alright! I hope you prepare yourself by then for some exciting-”

Dyne: “Yeah, I’m busy right now so if that’s all you had to say,”

Walter sighs and his smile fades away a little as he says.

Walter: “Man, you are such a simpleton.”

*******************************

A factory of electronic goods, on the outskirts of a city, lies silent in the veil of night.

In this night however, the lords of the night seek to destroy it.

Reid: “I don’t see how destroying a factory like this helps us in any way.”

The commander of the forces that has the factory surrounded whispers so.

Bronzer: “Don’t you know this factory belongs to Vermillion?”

Reid: “Yes, I do know that. And I can see how troubling them like this can helps us but we all know very well that these electronics are just a front and the organization wouldn’t be affected all that much even if we destroy a factory or two.”

As always, Bronzer smiles while answering.

Bronzer: “You are right about it being a front but, my dear friend; it will definitely affect them if we destroy a factory or two.”

Reid: “How?”

Bronzer: “Well, you’ll just have to trust me on that.”

Reid sighs and stands up, ordering his men to charge in and start the rampage.

Reid: “You ordered the destruction of an orphanage the other day and even made a show out of one of the sister’s dead body by writing that bloody message about … the heck was it?”

Bronzer: “People don’t just smile when they are happy, they also-”

Reid: “Yeah, that fiasco.”

He cuts off Bronzer as his focus is on a different subject altogether.

Reid: “Then you asked us to salvage through Julius Rome’s place to dig out his dead body and now you want us to attack Vermillion’s factory.”

Listing his actions, Reid only finds himself more frustrated than before.

Bronzer: “Yeah, those are the actions I have taken so far.”

Reid: “For what purpose?”

Unable to contain himself, Reid looks at Bronzer with his uneasiness clear on his face.

Reid: “I can see that our actions are leaving a dent on Vermillion but that’s all they are doing, leaving a dent. We can’t win a war against them by making a few dents.”

With a smile, the strategist says.

Bronzer: “Yes, I am well aware of that. In fact, Vermillion isn’t even going to fight us directly. They will be the backup for the Dragons and the Ghost Nation. So, putting a dent on them doesn’t do much at all for winning the war.”

Seeing the man himself saying that, Reid asks with an exasperated sigh.

Reid: “Then why?”

Bronzer sighs as well as he takes a look at the Vampire Kingdom’s troops destroying the factory.

Bronzer: “It’s because … simply put, we can’t win this war in a direct confrontation.”

This is a fact that both the Vampire Kingdom and the Dragon Alliance knows very well.

Bronzer: “That is exactly why our enemies will try to bring this war to a direct confrontation. They know that we’ll burn out before being able to defeat them so that’s what they’ll aim for.”

Reid nods as to say that he would do the same if he was in their shoes.

Bronzer: “However, what neither we nor they truly realize – is that we will lose in an indirect confrontation as well.”

Furrowing his brows, Reid urges him to go on.

Bronzer: “I mean, think about it, what have we got on our side? Spies, tacticians, a few really powerful people. They have got all that, in spades, as well. So even if we try to attack them indirectly, we will still lose.”

The greatest advantage Vampires have when it comes to spying is their night vision. However, take that away and Aurals and Psychics easily are better at spying, as well as catching spies.

The greatest tacticians the Vampire Kingdom has got are the four generals, Reid and some other commanders, all of whom know very well that the situation is beyond hope and have given all the reigns to Bronzer.

The few powerful people are, numerically, only a tenth of what the Dragon Alliance has got.

So, how can they win in indirect warfare either?

Bronzer: “So, as you can see, the only way for us to win is to use other factors to our advantage.”

Reid: “And what exactly does that mean?”

Bronzer: “Oh, you know,”

Bronzer smiles deviously as he lists a few ‘people’ who he considers factors in the war.

Bronzer: “A mysterious supernatural with immense hatred towards Vermillion, a really psychotic and manipulative individual who wants to stop the ‘God’, a revenge-seeking spirit-master with also a grudge against the ‘God’, an Aural who lost everything because of the ‘God’ and seeks to correct her life as much as possible and … a different psychic.”

Reid sighs.

Reid: “I’m assuming those are Reid’s friend and the self-proclaimed ‘third faction’.”

Bronzer: “Indeed.”

Looking at the Vampires who are almost done ruining the entire factory, Reid droops his shoulders.

Reid: “I still don’t get how this is connected to them and how either of the two things will help us.”

Bronzer: “Patience, friend, patience.”

Reid: “I WILL be patient if you stop calling me ‘friend’. That word out of your mouth makes me sick.”

Half-sarcastically but half-seriously, Reid says so.

Bronzer: “Aw, and here I thought there was something special between us.”

Joining in the sarcasm, Bronzer says with a smile.

Darcy: “You two!”

Saying so, Darcy gains their attention and tells them.

Darcy: “This factory is done for. What next?”

Seeing the sight of the burning factory from some distance, Bronzer casually speaks.

Bronzer: “There’s another factory not far from here. Let’s go destroy that next!”

With a thumbs-up, Bronzer announces.

Reid: “So it’s a night of factory destruction, eh?”

Bronzer: “Ah yes, you can say that. Since I couldn’t get it out of Ethan what those guys are up to right now, we can only proceed with these little skirmishes for the time being.”

And so, Bronzer takes one last look at the fire the factory is on, with the same malicious grin that Ethan has as he looks at the fireplace somewhere else but at the same time.

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