Arc 2: Chapter 24: Those Who Seek Something

Grisham: “What … do you mean by ‘unbeatable’?!”

Asks The Reaper, unable to hide his shock at hearing that word out of this man’s mouth.

Walter: “Exactly what it sounds like. You can’t beat him.”

With a grim look that helps his words instill despair and anxiety within the hearts of the two listeners, Walter Schmidt states so.

Dyne: “Oi! You can’t be serious, right? If there’s anyone in the world who can be called unbeatable, it’ll be you-”

Grisham: “No.”

Cutting off Dyne’s words, Grisham says while looking at Walter with still eyes.

Grisham: “Even you, Walter Schmidt, are not unbeatable. Are you?”

Adding the question to the end, he makes sure that Walter replies to that. And though with some irritation and embarrassment, Walter does admit himself.

Walter: “Indeed. It is as you say. I’m not unbeatable. In fact, I have very recently suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of some rather unique but weak individuals.”

Grisham: “The self-proclaimed third faction, huh?”

Muttering that to himself, Grisham realizes that he may have touched a sore spot.

As The Reaper, he obviously has heard everything about their mission on the Psychic Island. Therefore, he must have realized that saying something like that would hurt Walter’s feelings. The fact that he couldn’t realize it makes Grisham feel guilt and irritation. However, before any of those can be voiced,

Walter: “But,”

Walter continues.

Walter: “It is precisely because I know that I can be beaten, it is precisely because I know what it is that I lack that has, in the past, and can, in the future, lead me to defeat,”

Gritting his teeth, he says,

Walter: “It is precisely because I know what it is that I can tell, that man’s doesn’t have it. That one essential thing that anyone needs in order to be stopped, in order to be defeated, that man lacks that.”

There is a shocking amount of horror in his eyes as he says so, and Spectre Dyne, who has known this man for so long and has come to know quite well about the strength of this man, just cannot ignore something like this.

Dyne: “That which is needed for one to be defeated. What are you talking about? What exactly are you talking about?”

Walter tries to answer but stops himself from doing so, knowing whatever he says will be beyond the Spectre’s understanding.

It is understandable that someone who was artificially created as a powerful ghost and has never lived in any way that strayed from the preset rules set for all Spectres, would not understand a very human thing that Walter referring to.

Grisham: “Please, do answer, Walter!”

However, as he hears that voice, Walter realizes that this Reaper might be able to understand it.

He who was once a human, who has experienced death and became a ghost – Walter does not know what lead to Grisham’s death but seeing as how he looks so young, surely whatever caused his death would be something he regretted. And if he regrets it, that in its own way can be considered a defeat.

Following that logic, he might be able to understand what Walter means.

Walter: “The strategist of the Vampire Kingdom, Bronzer, is a human who does not have any enemies.”

Grisham widens his eyes while Dyne looks confused.

Walter: “Only an enemy would defeat a person. But he does not have any enemies, none at all.”

Because he was defeated by the plans made by Ethan Kales, who is similar in that regard, he understands how terrifying someone like that can be.

Those people.

Those existences.

They, who do not regard anyone as an enemy, who do not hate anyone, will never lose to anyone.

People like them, when faced with those who want to kill them, merely smile and make cheeky arguments, with no fear of death.

But there is one big difference between Ethan Kales and Bronzer.

Because he has faced him, Walter knows that Ethan only tries to be that way. Sure, he doesn’t hate most people and he can genuinely turn tables on most people. But, even so, there is someone that he hates. There is someone who he absolutely hates enough to want to destroy them. And because of that someone, he can’t let go of his fear of dying completely as he doesn’t want to accept an outcome where that someone is not defeated.

On the other hand, Bronzer hates no one. At most, he may have a certain level of disgust towards some people. But, he doesn’t hate anyone. And so, nothing can ever consume him with rage. Nothing can really terrify him. He could mock the God and the Devil in their face when they come to take his life.

In other words, Ethan Kales, who was capable of devising a way to defeat Walter and Dyne, is just a wannabe Bronzer. Then, is it not possible that Bronzer will be able to actually pull of the many miracles that the Vampire Kingdom needs to win the war?

That’s how Walter perceives the situation. And that’s why he’s horrified ever since he ran into Bronzer and that man mocked his power as if it amounts to nothing.

Grisham: “Hah!”

Seeing the complicated look on Walter’s face as he waits for a response, Grisham sighs.

Grisham: “It seems to me that you have a unique way of thinking. I would not approve or deny it as I don’t fully comprehend it but, all I can say is that I won’t be intimidated by that man.”

Walter: “…”

Grisham: “The Ghost Nation’s greatest king was Abyss, the devil himself, while the Vampire Kingdom’s greatest king was Dracula. While the Dracula was someone to be respected as well, he could, by no means, even compare to Abyss, could he?”

Walter: “… No, he couldn’t.”

Grisham: “And that difference between them has remained constant with every one of their respective successors. As you can clearly see, we have been better than them since then, for more than 1000 years now. Plus, we have powerful Dragon allies and the backing of Vermillion. Just one man alone would not change the fate of the Vampires, especially when it’s already set in stone.”

Walter does not respond. It is clear as day to see from just his expression that he does not agree, but he does not respond to Grisham’s words.

This is because he knows that the pride of the Ghost Nation is well-deserved. It’s because he knows that the Ghost Nation indeed has been far ahead of the Vampire Kingdom ever since the ruling period of Abyss slightly more than 1000 years ago.

Walter Schmidt knows all too well that nothing Grisham has said is untrue. Therefore, he gives up on trying to refute that statement.

Walter: “Well, if that’s the case, then I have no qualms. I will put my trust in you and your qualities as a leader. And of course, I have a lot of faith in Spectre Dyne as well. Maybe it’ll be fine after all.”

He says those words he doesn’t really mean, and even though Grisham can feel that those words aren’t from his heart, he does not say anything about that.

Grisham: “Yes, it’ll be fine after all.”

Grisham plainly says so.

Grisham: “After all, this nation no longer is the place where mere ghosts live. Those living here are-”

Quite literally,

Grisham: “Angels and Demons.”

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Author’s Notes: The rest of the chapter is mostly exposition and can be skipped, if you want. However, I do strongly recommend reading the rest for various reasons.

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Those living in the Ghost Nation are indeed Angels and Demons.

While the current knowledge among supernaturals lacks a lot of information on Angels and Demons, there are many theories about them.

There are the obvious theories like Angels and Demons having been a race of supernaturals like Psychics, Ghosts, Vampires, etc, but all the Angels and Demons died and hence their races are gone forever. They were definitely alive back when Ozyllus and Abyss were still living but sometime around the time that the great battle between the two happened, their population had reached low numbers. Eventually, they all died.

This theory is contradicted however by the unproven but seemingly believable occurrences of phenomenon that only those of either of these two races could cause.

And like that, there are many other theories that try to explain them but most of them are either very unbelievable or have something that contradicts them.

One of the most popular but unbelievable theories is that neither was a completely different supernatural race but both were related to the Ghosts. Some could say they were the advanced forms of Ghosts.

If a Ghost reaches a particular height of power, he/she would become either an Angel or a Demon, based on their character.

There is no hard proof supporting this theory. And it doesn’t seem very realistic. So, most people don’t believe in it. However, if one were to assume it’s the truth, it would fit perfectly with all the mysteries surrounding Angels and Demons, including why they disappeared.

Since that was a time that the ‘God’ and the ‘Devil’ were engaged in a battle and no one was left to keep an eye on everything, it’s possible for information manipulation to have happened. It is believed that, seeing as how their ruler, Abyss, was being defeated, they could have used that opportunity to lie that without him, they could not attain the forms of Angels or Demons.

It would have taken some effort, but with time, they could have circulated enough rumors about this and kept themselves under control in a way that the lie started to look believable. Those who had seen Angels and Demons probably would not have completely believed them. However, the generations succeeding them that had never seen those races with their own eyes, could be swayed to believe them.

With this, the Ghost Nation would have been capable of hiding away such powerful secrets and also been able to exploit them to their fullest extent.

Said exploitation could have been something like, making an army of Angels and Demons and keeping them hidden so that, when the time comes, they could wage a war against weaker factions and swallow them whole. There could have been multiple other things as well, like using their unique abilities for spying in ways the current supernaturals would not be able to detect.

As this was and still is a really popular theory, when it was first revealed that the Ghost Nation have produced artificial Ghosts, naming them Spectres, and made an army out of them, while making sure all the real Ghosts withdraw from serving in the army, more was added to the theory.

The theorists came up with many conclusions as to how this could fit with the various theories, and one of them is that, by withdrawing from the armies, the Ghosts are trying to wash themselves of any sin they can commit, and become Angels. On the other hand, Spectres would continue to sin one after another, albeit on the orders of The Reaper, so the Spectres would end up becoming Demons.

In this way, the Ghost Nation could reach a level of peace, division, as well as power, that they may become capable of surpassing any and every other supernatural faction.

And indeed, the Spectres had proven themselves to be more powerful than any other army and while Vermillion’s strength was still considered the greatest overall, the Ghost Nation was catching up rather fast.

When concerns about the Vampire Kingdom brought Vermillion, the Dragons and the Ghost Nation to a discussion about teaming up to take down the Vampire Kingdom, this obviously became a concern for the other two factions.

Hence, the Ghost Nation was asked to disclose all they know about Angels and Demons – or so one would think.

Instead of asking them about it, the Phoenix dismissed the topic as something insignificant. Some Dragons tried to argue against that but since they don’t have a strong hierarchy and lack a leader, following the philosophy of ‘complete self-rule’, some of them arguing against it while others not caring ended up making their arguing pointless too.

And so, the Ghost Nation managed to get away with their scheme.

While it was obvious that the Dragons were going to be a mess with anything but fighting, it was truly unexpected for The Reaper Grisham, who had just become The Reaper back then, to see the Phoenix dismiss the topic like that.

Ever since then, Grisham had found himself curious about what the Phoenix was thinking and what his motivations are. But, despite the best attempts, even the Ghost Nation has been unable to dig much information on him.

The mystery that is the Phoenix might be as interesting and scary to Grisham as the mystery of Angels and Demons is to the rest of the world.

But, when there is black, there is always white.

If there was a Psychic that interesting and scary for his allies, then there had to have been a Psychic that’s completely boring too.

The Reaper Grisham found that in Walter Schmidt.

This man was so powerful that he could destroy countries on his own. He could even get away with it by changing the memories of all the people in the world. That’s just how ridiculously broken he is. One can say that the reason behind him having so much power is a mystery in itself but, to Grisham, that is a very uninteresting mystery. He doesn’t care about that at all.

And so, when his General, Spectre Dyne, said that he had met and befriended Walter on a mission, Grisham couldn’t care less.

When he said that he would like to be honest with his friend as much as he could, Grisham couldn’t care less.

When he said that he would like to tell him about Angels and Demons, that was a moment when The Reaper was forced to care.

And so, that was the time when he met Walter for the first time.

And meeting him, Grisham had asked of him to make an oath to never disclose the information he gets about them to anyone.

Walter agreed to it.

And hence, The Reaper gave Dyne the permission to do what he wanted. After all, having a friend, especially one this powerful, may help the General of their army, and so simultaneously, them.

However, The Reaper had no way of knowing how much involved the two would become.

It seemed that there were two people that Spectre Dyne had formed a connection with. One of them was an enemy, a rival of sorts – a Ghost who was working for the Vampires. The other was the strongest man in the world.

Not only did Walter become a friend of Dyne though, he also befriended many other Spectres as well as normal Ghosts and started being considered a part of the Ghost Nation despite not really being a Ghost.

Grisham had once suspected that he might be plotting something to get close to them and take advantage of that position somehow but, in the short 2 years that have gone by since him first meeting Walter, he came to understand that there is no such intent behind his actions.

Strangely enough, Grisham realized that the strongest man in the world longs for a friend, for a family, for a place to call home.

Many consider his humility and always (or mostly) smiling face to be a mockery to them because of his overwhelming difference in power, but the truth is, whether consciously or subconsciously, Walter Schmidt only does anything he does because he wants to find connection.

He is humble and polite to anyone he meets unless there is a reason not to be, and this is because he cherishes the opportunity of making just one more friend, if at all possible.

This … such a mindset … such longing for connection that never gets fulfilled even after making so many connections … it seems Walter Schmidt is searching for someone in particular. It seems like, by trying to make so many friends, he is trying to regain a friend that he has lost.

Such stupidity!

If you lost a thread that was special to you, would you go through every single fabric in the world to then find it? Of course not, that’s stupidity. For all you know, that thread may have been burned and extinguished from this world for all eternity.

Yet, Walter Schmidt tries to grasp these threads, trying to hold onto every single one, trying to find that one special one but also unwilling to let go of any new one that he has caught in his hands.

Just how much does this man fear losing? Just how precious are people to him? It’s a point where you stop admiring him for such a thing, and start finding it creepy.

Yet, as he mocks Walter every time in his head, Grisham realizes that in trying to understand his motives, he has become just as interested in the boring and straight-forward Walter as he is in the unpredictable and mysterious Reid Vezalius Rosevelt.

And then comes such an incident. Walter Schmidt, who longs for connection, has appraised the strategist of the Vampire Kingdom as someone without hate. He said that is why he is horrified of him.

But, in Grisham’s eyes, isn’t Walter himself a man who wants to befriend any and everybody, someone overflowing with so much love and appreciation that there basically is no hate?

Grisham: “Isn’t he … the same as the one he is terrified of?”

He questions so. But there is no one to hear it, much less answer.

And so, with no one to disturb his thoughts, The Reaper questions his question. He questions why he would even care about a man whom he himself appraised as a boring person. Why would he end up caring so much about a man like him?

It’s not like he cares if Walter dies or stays alive, but he cares about how Walter thinks, how and why he feels the way he does, what’s his core?

Could it be … that The Reaper sees himself in that man? Could it be that Grisham is reminded of the long lost friend of his own when he sees Walter desperately trying to find his?

Unfortunately, even though they would answer his queries, these thoughts have been blocked inside his mind. They are never allowed to come to the surface and so, he is never is able to answer that query of his. He is never able to understand, just how much he misses that childhood friend and former classmate of his who suddenly disappeared alongside his brother without telling anyone 12 years ago?

Grisham wonders sometimes though, what that friend of his would say if he found out that Grisham died at the age of 16 and became a Ghost, and then proceeded to be elected as the new Reaper not much after that?

How would he look at such a world full of anomalies and supernaturals and mysteries and deceit and dangers and death?

And what would he do if he was thrust right in the middle of this war, and as a very important figure no less?

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