Arc 2: Chapter 3: Sparrow

Sneha: “So can someone explain to me how …”

She looks at the scene in front of her.

Sneha: “a fish is supposed to help us get out of here?”

And as she says that, our newest comrade (temporary though) seems to share the same concern.

Ro: “Yeah, I want to know too. How are we getting out of this island from this pond?”

We are, at present, surrounding the pond and the golden fish seems to be listening in on all our conversations. For whatever reason, she is not responding.

Wait! Was that attitude only for me? Or maybe she is afraid of Sona and so is not saying anything? Well, probably the later.

Sona: “Hah!”

She sighs exasperatedly and says,

Sona: “We are all not going to get out of here together. Only I, a spirit-user, can use something like this to get out of the island.”

Sneha and Ro are looking more confused now that they have gotten the answer to their questions.

Sona: “I will go out of the place and bring or send an aircraft here for the rest of you.”

Sona seems uninterested in the whole conversation as if it’s pointless but Ro is too cautious to take the same approach.

Ro: “And we are supposed to trust you with that?”

He furrows his brows and asks so in a doubtful tone.

Sona: “Yes.”

She says in a matter-of-fact way, to which,

Kais: “Well, I trust her.”

I add to make the conversation end. Ro seems like he wants to retort so,

Ethan: “Yeah, I trust her too, though it’s more like me being able to see her true intentions through my eyes but who cares?”

Our fifth member, the one who had unexpectedly been silent this whole time, speaks while his hands are folded and his voice is plain, devoid of emotion. Ro, surprised by our answers, turns to Sneha to see how she answers and,

Sneha: “I guess I trust her too.”

And with that, all our real members agree that we will take this approach. Ro, who is just tagging along to be honest, knows that he doesn’t have much of a say at this point in time and so he takes a long breath and,

Ro: “Fine!”

And just as he says that, the fish makes a big splash of water right in the middle of the pond, as if she had been waiting for this conversation to finish.

Sona: “That’s the signal.”

She says and points to the waves in the pond that are flowing out from the center forming beautiful circles that keep growing wider. Seeing that, in a plain voice, Sona explains,

Sona: “Now, by stepping in this pond, I’ll find myself at any place in the world that I have in mind, provided I have already been to that place at least once.”

That is how she is supposed to get out of here. And by doing that, she will then book a private jet (or she could just steal it) then bring it here and finally we will all be able to get out of here. If nothing else, it’s going to take some time.

Ethan: “Well then, what are you waiting for? Go.”

He keeps his arms and folded as he goes onto lean against a tree and say that in the same plain voice he has had for a while now.

Sona: “Of course, but there’s just one thing that I want to confirm before going in.”

Even if her voice at this time is also plain, her words grab all our attentions.

Sona: “I’m fine with Ro tagging along with us but what about the other two? Where are they?”

It’s not hard to guess that she is referring to Walter and Dyne.

Sona: “Who’s to say they won’t try to do anything while our group has one member less?”

A valid question but,

Ethan: “I can assure you they won’t.”

With a little smile back on his face, the greatest contributor to our recent victory against the two monstrously powerful people says in a somewhat deep voice.

Ethan: “Barry told us that there’s a thing called Knight’s Code among Spectres. If they lose a fight that they considered to be fair, then for the next 72 hours of losing that fight, they can’t hurt their opponent.”

Yeah, that’s chivalry alright. I can’t help but notice that Ethan regained a bit of his ‘evil’ side when this topic came up, as if he’s trying to mock their code despite the benefit it’s giving us. Well, I’d do the same to be honest.

Ethan: “This code gets nullified if their opponent hurts them but we are not foolish enough to do that.”

He continues in a slightly gleeful tone, probably gloating over the fact that his strategy worked against the two of them.

Sona: “Yeah, that takes care of Spectre Dyne but what about Walter Schmidt?”

As he hears that, the faint smile on his lips grows wide enough for anyone to call it a malicious grin.

Ethan: “Oh, him. He’s the honorable knight who suggested for there to be this Knight’s Code among Spectres.”

That’s … surprising. As I scan the surroundings, I see that my reaction is shared my Sona, but not Ro and Sneha. I guess when Barry, Ro, Ethan and Sneha were discussing thing back on the beach, this topic had already come up and so the two of them already knew about this.

Ethan: “He’s a true knight in spirit. He won’t do anything either.”

Even as he says that, it seems Sona still harbors a little doubt.

Sona: “Are you sure though?”

She says while narrowing her voice and speaking in a slightly anxious tone.

Kais: “Don’t worry, Sona.”

So I say that to assure her.

Kais: “It’ll be fine. You just need to bring a jet to this island within the 72 hours and everything works out.”

At times like these, the best thing to do, instead of assuring the person with your own strengths and guarantees is to leave the burden on them. At least, that’s how it works for people as skeptical as me and Sona.

Sona: “Hah!”

She sighs and says,

Sona: “Fine, I guess I’ll have to trust you with that.”

She says while closing her eyes and then takes a long breath. After which, without saying anything further, the spirit-user steps in the pond without opening her eyes. Hence, the four of us are the only ones who witness how it looks like when she is dissipating in the water as deeper as she goes in it.

Well, I did do the right thing by leaving the burden on her shoulders. That is to say, I did the right thing for her. For me, I don’t know. I am getting more and more worried about her the more I see her body looking like it’s gently evaporating into the water. But, I can’t stop her. This is bigger than any one person. I can’t let my worries drag all of us back.

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

Walter: “You sure about this, Dyne?”

Walter Schmidt says in a melancholic voice to his friend who is sitting on the beach staring at the sea.

Dyne: “Yeah, we should follow the Code and let them go, for the next 72 hours at the very least.”

Dyne replies in an equally melancholic voice to his friend also staring at the sea besides him but while standing and having his arms folded.

Walter: “Well, I guess that’s that.”

With that, they decide that they won’t attack the four people that’d be left on the island. And no conversation on the topic is to be brought up again within these 72 hours.

Dyne: “But anyhow, what about us going back?”

Dyne shifts his gaze from the sea to the man diagonally above him.

Dyne: “Our jet is safe and we can just leave. Why don’t we?”

Walter shifts his gaze to look back at Dyne with a questioning look.

Dyne: “I mean, well, it’s not like we have anything to do in the tomb now that even Sagax’s soul seems to have left the place. And besides that, this island isn’t much of a tourist spot, is it?”

Dyne becomes a bit sarcastic towards the end but he is asking the question seriously.

Walter: “Yeah, you are right about that.”

Walter scratches his head as he says.

Walter: “We should probably leave.”

He says blankly as he looks at the clear blue sky filled with clouds that look like they are within a hand’s reach but aren’t. And on seeing that,

Walter: “No, we should definitely leave.”

He says with a smile on his face.

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

By stepping in the pond, Sona finds herself at the place she had in mind. And that place, much to her own surprise was …

Sona: “This is my village.”

The village that was destroyed by Ozyllus.

Sona: “Why did I end up here of all places?”

She can’t even understand that and also doesn’t have the time to.

Sona: “No, it doesn’t matter. It’s rather advantageous for me to be here actually.”

She says as she smiles seeing the creaking wood that the entrance of her grandmother’s house is made up of.

Sona: “It’s only a three hours journey from here to the capital and there I can find a jet. I’ll probably have to steal it because I don’t have the time and resources to book it first. And like that, I can easily reach the island in time.”

She tries to convince herself that is what her subconscious may have thought of in bringing her to this place.

Sona: “Of course that’s what …”

She tries to say it out loud to convince herself even more but she stops as,

Sona: “W-why!?”

Tears start coming out of her eyes.

Sona: “Why … would I possibly … cry?”

She says as the drops keep coming out without stopping.

Sona: “I … never even considered this place my home in the first place.”

She says to stop her tears.

Sona: “I never cared about any of the people who lived here.”

She tries to convince her mind that there’s no reason for her to cry.

Sona: “I never had any good sentiments about this place at all.”

She tries to convince her heart to stop bleeding.

And then, a sparrow chirps, grabbing her attention. She looks up at a tree from where the voice came from. The sparrow chirps again. And then again. And again. And again.

The sparrow keeps on chirping, just like a sparrow used to. The only difference being that that sparrow was a spirit.

Sona: “Tsk!”

She clicks her tongue in her feigned annoyance and,

Sona: “I don’t have time for this. I need to go.”

She says and starts walking towards the gate and then to gateway that leads to the capital city while she wipes off her tears. She continues to walk through the village where no one lives anymore, a village that has been forgotten by everyone in the world.

Sona: “Tsk!”

No, it has been wiped off from the memories of everyone in the world. This woman now realizes that if she would ever have and calmed down and thought about things, she would have realized that a dragon couldn’t be responsible for such a feat anyway. It was obviously something a psychic will have pulled off.

But, she never stopped running at full-speed. And so she never had the time to look at the gravels in her path even if they were to make her fall.

Maybe she regrets it now. Maybe she doesn’t. But now that she has already run so far, she can’t suddenly start walking slowly and carefully. She needs to continue to run, and once again, ignore the gravels that could make her fall.

Sona: “I guess I’ll leave taking care of those gravels to you, Ethan.”

She mutters to herself in her sad voice.

Sona: “After all, for the past 12 years, that’s what you have been doing when I and Kais were too afraid to face the facts.”

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

About four hours later, she finds herself at a hangar in the capital city trying to find a suitable jet by disguising herself as a local citizen. Though to call it a disguise might be going too far as all she did was put on glasses and wear a red Hawaiian shirt and white jeans and made a ponytail on her head, which was common for a lot of women in the city.

That said and done, what helped her the most was the fact that this all looked nice on her, to put it mildly, and grabbed the attention of many people, of both sexes. That eased things out for her many a times. However, now, it was starting to swing the other way around.

Sona: “This is turning out to be a pain.”

She mutters to herself in annoyance as she notices the people gazing at her again and again as if they are seeing some kind of celebrity.

Sona: “So much for trying to steal.”

Stealing, a job that needs one to maintain a low-profile, is certainly hard to do when you are pretty much the most attractive woman in the place.

Sona: “Guess I should be glad I am a spirit-user.”

As she gazes at an ivory white jet and smiles, her unnamed rabbit-like spirit has already been sent to scout the jet to see if it has all the things required. After all, once they get out of the island, it’s not like they would never need a jet again. So, the jet she chooses to take will probably be with them for while and not be returned to its rightful owner.

Sona: “Hah!”

She sighs in exasperation and annoyance at the gazes that don’t stop coming her way.

Sona: “If I actually had a contract with that spirit, I would have just left this place knowing it will be able to find me on its own afterwards.”

But she can’t risk that with a spirit she doesn’t have spiritual connection (contract) with as it increases the chance of the spirit getting lost.

Sona: “Who knows? Maybe I should make a contract with it now … but,”

She remembers something important, something that causes her to stop talking.

Sona: “No, the spirit is too traumatized by what happened with its first contract. I can’t risk something like this.”

She says as her voice breaks just a bit before she regains composure.

Something Sona has kept to herself all this time is the fact that this spirit, after being banished from the island, had made a contract with someone. Who? She doesn’t really know. But she does know that whatever happened traumatized that spirit so much that it ran away when Sona tried to make a contract with it. She had thought that she would try again when she feels like the spirit has gained more mental fortitude or just has made a strong bond with her but that time hasn’t come yet. She doesn’t feel like that spirit is ready yet. So, she can’t risk it.

CHIRP!

All of sudden, her thoughts freeze as she hears the voice of a sparrow. She turns to look in the direction the voice came from and spots the sparrow that made that voice.

Sona: “It couldn’t be, right?”

Hearing a sparrow isn’t anything uncommon at places like these but for whatever reason, this particular chirp made her feel like the sparrow wanted to say something to her, and also felt like it’s the same sparrow that she heard in the village.

Sona: “No, of course it can’t be that one. I am imagining things.”

Seeing her confused expression, a female staff member comes to her and asks,

Staff: “Is everything alright, ma’am?”

The woman’s trained voice somehow immediately tells her that the humility being shown is just because of the fact that she is a possible customer.

Sona: “Ah yes, I mean, no. Everything’s fine. I had just gotten distracted by that sparrow.”

Staff: “Sparrow?”

And just like her fake humility was easy-to-grasp, so was her genuine inquisition.

Sona: “Uh, yeah. Didn’t you just hear that loud chirp by that sparrow?”

She says as she points at the tree the sparrow is still sitting on.

Staff: “Huh?”

The lady looks and tilts her head as if she can’t see any sparrow there.

Chirp! The bird chirps once again and Sona turns to the lady to say ‘that one that just chirped’ but she sees that the lady is still wondering what Sona was talking about as she is staring at the tree. It’s as if she didn’t hear anything.

Staff: “I am sorry; I can’t see any sparrow there.”

Sona: “Uh, yeah … never mind. It might have flown away.”

She tries to distract herself as she says so and dismisses the topic.

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

Even after going through every single jet available at the hangar, the best one turned out to be the ivory white jet that she had first stopped to look at.

And so, after deciding that she would steal that one, Sona makes a final stop – at a tree near the hangar.

Sona: “Come out!”

She shouts in a voice that isn’t too loud but loud enough for a spirit to hear, and then,

Chirp! Out comes the sparrow and sits on the hand Sona had extended for her. As it does so, the bird starts staring at Sona with gleaming eyes while Sona only looks back in confusion.

Sona: “You’re … similar, but you are not the spirit I had a contract with.”

There was a spirit she had a contract with that would never come out at any place other than the village of her grandmother. And whenever it did come out, it took the form of a sparrow.

As spirits are not living and not bound by physical laws, they can take multiple forms, but they prefer to take the form of the creature their roots come from. For most spirits, the form they take is of the creature they were when alive. For some though, that form can be different from their original species, for varying reasons. Even a spirit-user contracted to a spirit can’t fully understand the spirit’s mind and may not know what the spirit was when alive.

And Sona too, while now she knows pretty much everything about every spirit in her arsenal, doesn’t know the origins of the spirit that was only contracted to her when she was a child.

Chirp! The sparrow chirps again. This sparrow looks similar to the spirit she had. And it makes her sad. The fact that her sparrow-like-spirit, the first spirit she ever got a contract with also was the first to die out of all her spirits; it’s something that makes her sad just remembering it.

Sona: “To think, at the end of the day, I never realized until now what that village really means to me.”

It is a common belief that there are positive and negative instances in every life. For most, one of the two outweighs the other and that shapes them into the people they become. For Sona, definitely the negatives have outweighed the positive, and that has turned her into someone thirsty for revenge. But even so, just like everyone else, her life has also had positive instances.

And the base of that is the fact that she is a spirit-user. The one who recognized her talent as a spirit-user and taught her the basics of it was her grandmother. Even her mother had no idea about the world of supernaturals because she herself had not much connection to it. But her grandmother did.

And she was the one who taught her how to make a contract with a spirit. That sparrow was the first success Sona had in forming a contract. The entire reason she met all the wonderful spirits that are contracted to her now, the reason she met and became friends with people like Kais and Barry as a kid, it’s all because she has been and still is a spirit-user. And she is a spirit-user because of her grandmother … and the village that gave her the first spirit she ever had.

Sona: “Ha!”

A laugh escapes her laughs, followed by tears escaping her eyes.

Chirp! The bird’s chirp too gave off a sad vibe.

Sona: “Hey,”

This sparrow can’t be seen by anyone. This is only possible if it’s a spirit or a ghost. And since only a human has the impurities needed to become a ghost when he/she dies, it means that this dead creature is a spirit.

Sona: “Would you like to form a contract with me?”

She says while closing her wet eyes and tilting her head to show her inquisition, all while an elated smile is on her face.

Chirp!

While she doesn’t exactly know how to talk sparrow, she does know that chirp is a yes.

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