Confronted by three Hellfires at the same time, surprisingly, what Ethan suggests we should do is to split up.
I wish we had more time so I could ask why but we don’t, so, in the short window we have to answer, everyone lays their opinion out.
Gabriel: “Why? That would only be detrimental.”
Sneha: “I am with Gabriel on this one, why should we split up?”
Sona: “Kinda does not make sense but I am not against it, I guess.”
Kais: “Yeah, I am not against it either.”
In addition, various Heise members show confusion and dilemma as to what to do, with the major consensus seeming to be on the side of not splitting up. However, Li Wei, the leader of Heise, doesn’t seem to be that much against it.
He looks to be seriously considering it.
He says as he looks cautiously at the three Hellfires,
Ethan: “Everyone willing to split up, come with me. Everyone who is not, stay here and hold them back.”
Also probably because of the lack of time, Ethan does not do any usual mocking or make satirical comments, he just gets on with the business as he says that and starts running ahead.
Taken by surprise and not having time to think much about it, I, Sona, Li Wei as well as Sneha involuntarily start running after him as everyone else stays behind, all in a state of confusion.
However, the curious thing is that, as they see us run, the three Hellfires only look at us with smirking expressions and do nothing about it, as if they don’t care at all.
If I was going on pure logic here, I would think that they are saying that whatever we do doesn’t matter to them. And I mean, I guess if they came here for Abgere, it would make sense why they wouldn’t bother with us but still, is that all there is to it?
It seems like there’s more.
Looking at their smirks and condescending glares, it seems different than not caring, it seems like they are telling us what we are doing is futile.
Not noticing that,
Li Wei: “Keep them off us!”
He shouts to his subordinates as we run, who snap out of their confusion and nod dutifully to their leader.
Sona: “Gabriel, you better make sure that idiot doesn’t die or our deal is off.”
And Sona shouts to Gabriel as we run, reminding him of the deal we had about helping him take revenge of Vampire Kingdom and that it would be broken if Abgere, the idiot who wouldn’t come with us when he has the chance to fight three Hellfires at once, dies.
However, as I and her gaze back at Gabriel’s expression, he seems to be troubled about something else entirely, looking like he didn’t even hear Sona. And just then, Ethan stops in his tracks as well.
Sneha: “What now!?”
She asks a bit irritatedly, probably because she wasn’t very enthusiastic about the idea of splitting up and didn’t like the fact that he forces us into doing it without any explanations.
Instead of answering though, he looks in the direction of the shrine with a cautious and troubled expression.
Ethan: “Those three … aren’t the only ones we need to face.”
Probably having picked that up because of his eyes, he says so, prompting me, Sneha and others to read our surrounding Auras and find out about the presence of supernaturals, or rather, Psychics.
They are all around us, leaving no corner unattended.
In extrapolation to that, some of them have a great deal of power and might be a real pain in the ass by themselves while the others, albeit not very powerful individually, have numbers on their side. I am guessing the former ones are the Volcanoes and the latter ones are the Embers and Flares.
Li Wei: “Guess we should have expected them to bring a little backup.”
He says with irritation, and as if on cue, the Volcanoes and the rest step out of their various hiding places and surrounds us from all the sides.
Their numbers do really surpass that of Heise and considering that they even have 5-6 Volcanoes on their side, we might be at a much greater disadvantage than we fathomed.
Following their leader’s orders, the strongest army in the world reaches the outskirts of Kesley, with the mission to meet the Phoenix.
Dyne: “What the heck is going on here?”
Instead of the large, developed city known for being an economical centre, they are met with a wasteland that looks devoid of life and seems like it just suffered from a bomb exploding.
In essence, it looks like a battlefield, set upon bloodshed, specifically for more bloodshed.
As one of the Spectres sees through a telescope, the rubble that the topmost quarters of Vermilion’s base tower have been reduced to, he warns Dyne about it, who gets more and more curious about what happened there.
Dyne: “Whatever the case may be, we probably should go in.”
Their mission is to meet the Phoenix and discuss some things with him. Surely they can’t let something like this stop them. If anything, they should hurry up even more as there is no guarantee if the Phoenix is even there, and they need to know it if that’s the case.
So, hoping that the division sent to ask the Dragons to come to the Ghost Nation is not in a similar crisis, Spectre Dyne orders his troops to march on.
Dyne: “However, we need to be cautious.”
At a time like this, the possibility of a battle is only growing more and more. Not to mention with how the sun is out and the night has just fallen, the Vampires would be out there, looking to strike at any moment they can.
One can even say that while going in to meet the Phoenix, the Spectre Army is making themselves vulnerable to any attack whatsoever.
While knowing all that, still, programmed to be dutybound, the artificial Ghosts keep marching on.
While we have a good amount of capable fighters on our side, our side is also joined by a few non-combatants like Trisha and medical experts who some of the fighters have the duty to protect. While those guys are well-equipped and a little behind us, it is a fact that even when they catch up to us, it’s not like they would be able to help much.
On the other hand, every single member of Vermilion has no other task but to fight us.
Kais: “Maybe we should try talking thing out. I mean, we all just basically jumped at each other guns blazing without even giving them a chance to say much.”
I make a pointless suggestion, more as a joke to calm my nerves than to actually suggest it.
Ethan: “Yeah, genius, that would work, especially when the first words out of those three Hellfires’ mouths were about fighting us.”
He mocks me as expected, probably knowing that even I wasn’t serious about that suggestion.
And then, one of the three Hellfires, a middle-aged brunette with bored eyes and with the name of Laurie Brown, states plainly.
Laurie: “I don’t have much interest in fighting you simpletons. I am just here to do my job, which is to kill that ugly bastard.”
She says as she points at the ‘ugly bastard’, Abgere, who is actually very high on my list of people that should never be called ugly because they are too beautiful.
Abgere: “I am fine with that. In fact, I would gladly take the opportunity to finish you bastards right here and right now.”
Of course, Abgere, whose primary objective has always been to kill the Hellfires and the Phoenix, appreciates wholeheartedly the opportunity to do so.
Ethan: “This is bad. If we don’t do something, not only will that idiot get himself killed fighting three Hellfires, the entire purpose of joining up with Heise would be gone.”
Taken by curiosity as I hear him say that, I look at him with frowning eyes asking him to explain.
Ethan: “Well, I guess I didn’t mention, did I?”
With a slight grin, he says,
Ethan: “I have been after the ‘weapons’ Heise has stored away in their shrine. I didn’t stand much of a chance before at getting it forcefully and even with you guys around, it would have been a real problem if they became our enemy. That is why I tried to use the first opportunity I got to team up with them.”
Ethan: “Basically, getting those weapons is the entire reason I wanted this alliance.”
… I see.
It’s not at all surprising that he had an ulterior motive in mind but what is surprising is that those ‘weapons’ Heise spoke have might be that powerful that Ethan would go to all this trouble for them.
And as things stand right now, we might lose the weapons or an important ally in Abgere or both if we don’t deal with the current situation well.
Sona: “What are those weapons anyway?”
Sona, who seemingly overheard our conversation, asks as soon as Ethan stops talking.
Ethan: “There’s a lot of variety to them but they are basically things that will help us immensely against all kinds of supernatural foes.”
That does sound like a thing we’d want to have.
Sona: “I see.”
Even she is speechless as she hears that.
And at the same time, the situation keeps growing worse and worse as the tension continuously increases between the rest of our allies and Vermilion members.
And in addition to that, another thing that I felt was problematic was how Laurie Brown, when addressing us, mentioned how she was not interested in fighting those she doesn’t need to. However, she specified ‘she is not interested’.
From the looks on the other two Hellfires’ faces, I don’t think I can assume the same about them.
Sona: “I guess you’ll have to make a choice then. Abgere or those weapons? Which will help us more?”
Grimly, herself very conflicted and irritated, she lays it out for Ethan nonetheless.
Sneha: “Ethan, what are you gonna do?”
Sneha, who hasn’t been listening in on everything, asks from nearby as she keeps her eyes fixed on the Hellfires.
Ethan: “Firstly, I would like to solve my dilemma. I can’t decide whether to get to the shrine or not.”
She sighs, exasperatedly.
Sneha: “Is the shrine really that important?”
Ethan: “It is.”
Sona: “It is.”
Kais: “It is.”
As she hears all the three of us say it at about the same time, she is taken aback, and a contemplative look covers her face as she says,
Sneha: “If it’s really that important, I can lead you there through a different route. But, we will have to abandon Heise … and maybe Abgere too since he doesn’t look like he’d be willing to back away from this fight.”
Wait a minute!
Ethan: “I guess that’s the only option. Abgere is a wild card but those weapons are a sure-fire advantage. It’s probably better to choose them.”
Kais: “Hey! I might be able to do something about this situation.”
All their eyes turn to me as I say that.
Gabriel: “Hey, what the heck are you people rambling on about over there?”
The same yell comes from some Heise members too, and knowing that we don’t have much time as we are also attracting those three Hellfires’ attention, I quickly say.
Kais: “I can teleport Abgere to Kesley.”
Considering what I know about this place’s location, my ability to teleport a person should be good enough for me to be able to teleport one man to the outskirts of Kesley.
And, if we have him teleported there, at least he will be away from this fight, not lose his life, and we would only be abandoning Heise, whom Ethan seemed to have joined only for the ‘weapons’ at their shrine so not much of a loss there.
Ethan: “Well, do it then.”
He says with a grin as he looks at Sneha, signalling that the plan she suggested earlier is what we will go with.
I call out to him and start running towards him with a stone in hand. Right as one of the three Hellfires grows suspicious enough to be about to attack me to stop me, I toss the stone towards him.
If this was a classic action sequence, or in Ethan’s words, a cliche action sequence, that stone would probably do something pretty epic and would be really useful.
And obviously, cliches are things that most people know about. So, considering that possibility, all present shift their gazes towards that stone, a very normal and useless stone that Abgere himself catches thinking it will be something special, giving me ample time to reach him and touch him, with my adrenaline making me needlessly yell,
And there, to the complete surprise of everyone around me, except the three I was with earlier, Abgere disappears.
Laurie: “What the- where is he, you jackass?”
All of the sudden changing her tone as things become troublesome for her, Laurie yells at me with raging eyes.
Chang Lu: “Oh my, oh my, oh my, you really should answer that. Oh my, where is that guy? Where did you send him?”
With a similar but less angry and more dumbfounded expression, the child-like figure of the Hellfire known as Chang Lu too asks the same thing.
Ross: “I don’t mean to spoil your anger or whatever, but I kinda like this guy.”
Ross Green, a shrill teenager with psychotic eyes who also happens to be a Hellfire, looks at me as he asks,
Ross: “Aren’t you the guy that Mr Rosevelt was causing so much fuss over? The guy that we tried to bring into our organization for years and years and you kept refusing, right?”
Well, I am famous. Nice!
Ross: “Cutting you up and presenting your head to Mr Rosevelt might be a nice present for his retirement, right? Right? RIGHT?”
No, actually, not nice! Not at all! I take it all back, this guy IS a psycho.
Gabriel: “Well, well,”
Unexpectedly, Gabriel says with a smirk,
Gabriel: “He indeed is the person you are thinking he is, Ross. Unfortunately for you, you are not laying a scratch on him. You see, bringing him to Rosevelt without those scratches would be MY present for his retirement.”
He says so, provocating Ross quite easily into wanting to fight Gabriel.
And right on cue, Sneha punches the air in front of her with a blow powerful enough to blow Embers and Flames away from the wind pressure it creates. The few of them in her range who are able to stand their ground are then taken down by Sona’s all-too-familiar but unnamed rabbit-like Spirit and her Vampire-like spirit, Sagzear.
And with that path cleared, I, Ethan, Sona and Sneha all run in that direction, with Sneha easily overtaking all of us so she could lead the way.
While surprise is eminent on his face, Gabriel too follows suit and catches up to us within a couple of seconds.
The others are all left hanging in surprise as they see us running off.
I make a mental apology to those of Heise and make a wish that Trisha doesn’t get harmed so whenever we reunite with Abgere, we still have the option to team up.
But, that is all I can do for Heise.
They are a sacrifice for improving our prospects of winning and while I won’t pretend it’s not inhumane to leave them there to be slaughtered, doing that is the best option for us.
That said though,
Chang Lu: Oh my, oh my, oh my, you people sure are in a hurry.”
Laurie: “Those cowardly bitches! Who the hell do they think they are?!”
Ross: “Why are you complaining so much, Ms Laurie? This is so much more fun than simply doing our job, right? Right? RIGHT?!”
From a distance, I hear those voices and realize that they are following us too.
We are running through narrow alleyways that Sneha knows very well so we are able to keep our distance maintained for now but they are undoubtedly following us and with a great pace.
Getting those ‘weapons’ and leaving for Kesley without having to face them – is definitely not going to be a possibility.
With half the city blown to bits, a tragedy that could rival the one caused 12 years ago by a certain Psychic, the authorities in Kesley and the entire Orland Union start running wild and panicking, with members who had families living in those parts of the city going amok fearing the worst.
For those who have no idea about supernatural and didn’t even consider the possibility of them existing, this is definitely a very confusing and horrifying situation.
For those who have no idea about supernatural but pretend to be associated with them to rip people off, this is a golden chance to do their conning.
For those who believe in the supernatural but don’t know about the actual existence of theirs, this is like an excuse to start losing their minds over.
And so, all those types of people, who collectively make the ‘normal’ part of the world, panic and make others panic.
As for the supernaturals, the news is yet to be spread to all of them.
But, what about the man in the middle of all this?
What about the Phoenix?
Having been hit by a powerful blow by the Ghost of someone who called himself a God, Rosevelt is in no condition to even stand, as blood oozes out from 50 different wounds in his body and his skin is burned.
He is a sight that might be nauseating for anyone who hasn’t seen a lot of dead bodies or bloodshed.
One could even think that this is the end for him, that he is dying and will not be able to recover from this.
And for pretty much everyone, that would be the truth.
Even Walter Schmidt probably would not be able to recover from this, though he would probably be fast enough to teleport out of the way before the blow hit him in the first place.
However, the one thing that Rosevelt, the Phoenix, surpasses everyone in the world in is the art of not dying.
If it’s near-death experiences one’s talking about, Rosevelt has had over a thousand of them in his life. Many of them were so severe that no one could have returned from them alive, no one except him.
He is, after all, the one and only immortal in the history of mankind.
And so, even these burns and wounds start healing themselves slowly but steadily.
It would, however, take some time for him to be able to stand back up and realize how far he has been thrown from the Vermilion’s base tower.
It would take that much time for him to realize that he is as far away from there as the shrine the third faction is headed towards is. The only difference is that they are on the opposite spectrum from him, like the two opposite poles with Kesley being the equator.
An experiment gone wrong had produced a superhuman with Psychic abilities ingrained in his core, all of his cores. That had led to the birth of the fastest and forever the smallest Hellfire, Chang Lu.
By no means was he among the strongest Hellfires. In fact, most would call him the weakest of the current Hellfires.
Still, he is trouble for us and that trouble is fast enough to catch up to us.
Chang Lu: “Oh my, oh my, oh my, it seems like I outraced you guys.”
The Hellfire with the body of a little kid looks at us with excited eyes as he steps on the floors of the shrine’s entrance before any of us could.
Chang Lu: “I don’t particularly have anything against you guys, it’s just that I can’t let you guys interfere with my job, you know?”
His voice being carefree and enthusiastic, something that really doesn’t fit with the current atmosphere and especially our tense moods, he says,
Chang Lu: “So now then, where did you-”
Sona: “It’s hard to believe this joke of a human being is a Hellfire”
Interrupts Sona with a disgusted expression, and before anyone says anything,
Sona: “Go on ahead, I can take care of him.”
She volunteers to stall, no, to fight Chang Lu.
Chang Lu: “Oh my, oh my, oh my, you will take care of me, will you? How very cute!”
Sona: “You are the one whose being cute, you pipsqueak.”
Despite her words, one can tell from her eyes that Sona is not at all taking him lightly and doing any sort of mistake in fighting him.
She knows that it would take a lot to defeat him and she seems to have enough confidence in herself to be able to do it.
Kais: “Well, we’ll leave him to you then.”
I say so, see Ethan smirking, Gabriel worriedly sighing and Sneha nodding, and start running ahead along with all of them.
Sona Pectus, the Spirit-user of the third faction, has volunteered to single-handedly take on a Hellfire. And I am the one who worded the words to let her go at it alone.
If something happens to her, I am probably gonna curse myself for the rest of my life.
So, as I step foot inside the shrine at last, I pray for my sanity as much as I pray for my friend’s victory.
And obviously, I pray not to God but the Devil. But, I pray regardless.