Arc 2: Chapter 39: The Anthology Returns to Despair

Ethan: “Tsk!”

Touching his head because of the headache he feels as soon as he is teleported to Kesley, Ethan clicks his tongue and tries to calm himself.

But in the couple of seconds that he takes to accomplish that, Gabriel appears there as well.

Gabriel: “Sorry about that!”

He says as he knows well about the headache any non-Psychic feels when teleported over long distances like that.

Ethan: “Well, you are not forgiven, you loser!”

He says with a level of plain annoyance that would make most people uncomfortable, Gabriel included.

Ethan: “So, what was it that you needed my help for anyway?”

He asks then, as he looks around and finds the scenery of the city just the way the Hellfire Laurie Brown showed it.

Gabriel: “I need you to find some people.”

Ethan: “What?! Do I look like a Sherlock Holmes or something?!”

Gabriel: “Well, you are probably the closest to him this crappy world has to offer.”

Ethan: “Heh! I seriously doubt that!”

While using his eyes to try to analyse the state the city is in, Ethan finds something else to be annoyed by.

Ethan: “From what I can pick up, this destruction was definitely done by a Psychic.”

Gabriel: “Are you serious?”

To cause this level of destruction, and to do with Psychic prowess, the list of suspects who can pull that off is very short.

Ethan: “It was probably a simple charge of energy you guys do by Aura Manipulation. But, the amount of energy and the amount of willpower required to hold that energy – the guy who did it couldn’t have been much weaker than the Phoenix, if maybe not stronger.”

He says, already having realized who the perpetrator would be.

Gabriel: “T-that means … I can only think of one person who could fit that description.”

Ethan: “Well, I can think of two. And, I guarantee it’s not the one you are thinking.”

What Gabriel Washington, or any man in his position would automatically consider the prime suspect, would be the strongest man in the world – Walter Schmidt.

But, Ethan knows quite well that he wouldn’t have done something like this. 

Something like this, it could only be done by a ‘God’, or someone who thinks they are a God.

Ethan: “Back to our earlier topic though,”

And strongly suspecting that telling Gabriel that it was Ozyllus’ handiwork wouldn’t convince him, Ethan changes the subject back.

Ethan: “Who is it that you want me to find?”

He asks, reminding Gabriel of the topic, who, quite firmly answers,

Gabriel: “My family.”

Ethan: “Your family should be in Ruri, not Kesley.”

Without being very surprised, he points that out.

Gabriel: “And how the hell do you know that they were in Ruri?”

Taking Gabriel by surprise though, Ethan still continues in a calm tone.

Ethan: “I keep tabs on the information related to as many important figures, even those that are losers, as I can.”

Gabriel: “… is that so?”

With a sigh, the Hellfire says,

Gabriel: “Well, I guess you haven’t been able to get the latest information then.”

Ethan: “And what is that?”

Ethan asks, his curiosity starting to peak.

Gabriel: “When the Phoenix gave me this mission, coincidentally, I came across something horrible.”

Ethan: “Describe ‘horrible’.”

Feeling uncomfortable but knowing that there’s no choice and that he doesn’t have too much time to waste, Gabriel explains to him everything.

Gabriel: “My fiance and my in-laws were killed right then.”

Ethan: “Oh, the reason for your revenge took place right then, huh?”

Ethan scoffs, not at himself or the Hellfire in front of him, but at a certain word the Hellfire had said a few seconds earlier.

Gabriel: “Anyway, as you know, it was Bronzer who did it. And, since I was going after him, I didn’t want him to be able to use the same tactic once again. So I-”

Ethan: “Ahahahaha!!!”

Hearing everything he has said and knowing everything he is going to say, Ethan can’t help but laugh.

Ethan: “Y-you … hahaha … you asked the Phoenix … to bring them to Kesley and keep them safe?”

He laughs continuously as he asks, utterly bewildered by the stupidity of the man in front of him.

Gabriel: “What’s so funny about that?”

Ethan: “Heh! What indeed!”

Ethan Kales looks at the wreckage all around him, smirking at things no one can see, and tells the Hellfire.

Ethan: “Your family’s dead.”

Gabriel: “Why you- You haven’t even checked yet-”

Ethan: “I don’t need to check, you idiot!”

He says with a smirk that doesn’t at all mock the Hellfire but hurts him even more than mockery could.

Ethan: “Your family is dead. And they didn’t die in this incident by the way. They became Vampire food quite a while before this ever happened.”

Gabriel: “What!? What the hell are you-”

Ethan: “When you asked the Phoenix to bring them here to keep them safe, did you tell him to prioritize their safety before they reached here?”

Gabriel: “N-no, but-”

Ethan: “But? Seriously, ‘but’? Do you not know a single thing about Rosevelt’s personality? If you tell him to keep them safe after bringing them here, he won’t let anyone touch a single hair on their body after bringing them here but before they reach here; if they are killed, slaughtered, beheaded, chopped into a million pieces, that’s none of his business.”

Gabriel steps backs, unwilling to admit the truth in Ethan’s words.

Gabriel: “But, why … why would … Rosevelt a-allow that?”

Ethan: “Because you idiot, when you would have ideally come back to this city with us, having completed your mission like the diligent slave you are, and then you would have found all of them dead, and in the worst way possible … it would have been fun to see your reaction.”

Gabriel: “…”

Silence, complete silence surrounds Gabriel.

His whole resolve and his firm exterior have come crashing down with the words Ethan has yelled at him.

It’s true that the Phoenix, who seems to not care about the consequences of his actions, who seems to think that everything is meaningless because everything with meaning has already ended, it’s true that someone like him might use an opportunity like that to his advantage to satiate his boredom. 

But,

Gabriel: “What if … what if … how could you possibly know they were attacked anyway!? Maybe no Vampires ever attacked them and they reached the city safely!”

Trying to convince himself rather than Ethan, he says those words, to which Ethan scoffs.

Ethan: “Yeah, right!”

Gabriel: “It … it may …”

Ethan: “You seriously believe it was JUST A COINCIDENCE that Bronzer attacked your family right when you got that order from the Phoenix?”

Gabriel: “It … it’s p-possible!”

Ethan: “Possible? Me killing Walter Schmidt with a rock is also ‘possible’. But, you know what? The amount of LUCK I will need for that to happen, I will never have it.”

Gabriel: “…”

With a slump of his legs, he falls to the ground, staring at nothingness in despair.

Gabriel: “So … so what does this mean!?”

He isn’t even sure what he is asking, but he is probably not asking something pointless.

Ethan: “Well, it means that the bastard strategist of the Vampire Kingdom predicted your every move, and because it seemed like fun, Rosevelt let go of countless chances of capturing or killing him, essentially betraying the Dragon Alliance, which is also something that bastard predicted, which doesn’t really make sense how and why but …”

Scratching his head over Bronzer and Rosevelt, two of the greatest enigmas he has ever had to deal with in his life, Ethan sighs and looks back at Gabriel as he says,

Ethan: “For YOU, it just means that you now are where I, Kais and Sona were 12 years ago.”

Gabriel: “…”

Ethan: “In a pit of despair, with nothing left to lose.”

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Laurie: “Hah!”

Sighing exasperatedly with a sulking head,

Laurie: “How annoying!”

She comments on how her chance to kill Ethan was taken away from her by her fellow Hellfire who doesn’t even seem to have any interest in becoming the Phoenix.

Even so, knowing that she isn’t completely at a loss, she then turns her attention to the only possible target remaining,

Laurie: “Tell me, Sneha Stone,”

And asks her a degrading question.

Laurie: “How long do you think you will last against me?”

As if it’s already written in stone that Laurie would win and Sneha would lose.

Sneha: “…”

However, her mocking tone of her opponent doesn’t draw any reaction as the Aural merely stands there with a fighting stance, something that irritates her even more.

Laurie: “Well, if you don’t want to answer, then we’ll just have to see for ourselves, huh?”

Saying so, the brunette Hellfire disappears from right in front of Sneha and appears right behind her.

This is a tactic that she has seen Kais use many times so she’s familiar with it but,

Laurie: “Too slow!”

The Hellfire’s speed and power when executing the strategy far surpass what Kais has ever shown. And, as such, Sneha fails to defend, being knocked over from behind and ending up rolling on the ground until she hits a tree to stop her momentum.

Laurie: “Aren’t Aurals supposed to be powerhouses in fighting? And I had even heard that you are a really talented one. Man, talk about disappointing!”

The Hellfire continues to mock her. But, even so, Sneha merely stands up and readies herself for the next move, taking up her stance once again.

Laurie: “Tsk!”

For someone who can’t stop running their mouth because of how much they love to mock their opponents and see them in pain, ‘no reaction’ is possibly the best way to mock them back for their pettiness.

That said though, Sneha doesn’t do so with that intention, it’s just that she doesn’t see any need to talk, not during a battle, and most of the times, not outside a battle either.

Laurie: “What a boring opponent!”

Most people may call someone like her a quiet person. And, if, even after being partners with her for so long, Ethan Kales doesn’t see any need to contradict that sentiment, then it must be true.

Laurie: “Guess there’s no point in prolonging this fight when it’s so boring.”

Saying so, the Hellfire uses Geokinesis again, but this time, instead of making the ground shake, she uses it to the break apart the ground right under Sneha’s feet, throwing her off balance.

Using that chance she gets from her opponent being off-balance, Laurie charges straight at Sneha with her fists as hard as iron and the speed of an ostrich.

Sneha, having become off-balance, fails to dodge in time despite trying to, and becomes the victim of her opponent’s repeated punching that makes her bones crackle and her guts almost rupturing.

Laurie: “Ha!”

Scoffing at Sneha’s seemingly pathetic figure, Laurie scoffs.

Laurie: “You know, I might have been wrong before.”

She says with a grin.

Laurie: “Beating up someone who is so easy to beat but can take the beating and try to stay standing – it’s fun too.”

Like a spoiled child hammering down on a doll, Laurie continues her attacks without any precision or timing but just brute force.

One could say that Sneha has met her match.

After all,

Laurie: “Ha! Ha! Hahaha!”

Brute force is what the Aurals surpass Psychics at. It’s the one thing that increases their chances of winning against any Psychic provided the Psychic doesn’t get time to run away.

So, if the Aural is being overpowered by brute force, then there’s no way she can strike back, right?

And yet,

Laurie: “U-ugh!”

Laurie’s attacks suddenly stop, and her eyes move down to her right knee – which no longer seems to be folding the way it should be.

Laurie: “W-wha-ugh!”

She falls to the ground, blood rushing to her throat.

But, before she ends up puking, a jab with two fingers at her throat stops the flow – in addition to destroying her voice.

Laurie: “… A … Agh!”

She tries to make out words but her voice just wouldn’t come out, and she is left there, standing on one knee, with her opponent taking her time to charge her fist so she could –

Sneha: “I am not very vengeful, but I don’t like being mocked, Ms Hellfire.”

Attack Laurie the same way she was attacked – with a constant flurry of brute force destroying her bones and muscles, all while the broken bones and muscles of the Aural heal so her attacks become more and more powerful with time.

What happened here was something very simple.

The Aural waited for her chance to attack a weak spot of the Hellfire and then attacked it, then used the momentum from that to stop her voice, and using the shock from that to take her little vendetta.

It was a simple display of strategy.

Laurie: “A … agh!”

As her body goes flying back 10 yards with her face swollen and her muscles hurting, she barely makes sense of where she went wrong.

And where did she went wrong?

She wasn’t wrong in assuming an Aurals would fight with brute force so not much strategizing is required against one.

But, the thing is, she is up against an Aural that has spent the last some years of her life as a partner in crime of Ethan Kales. Laurie Brown just failed to realize the significance of that.

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

Ethan: “I can see him.”

Gabriel: “Who?”

Ethan: “Abgere.”

Hearing so, Gabriel seems uninterested.

Gabriel: “Him, huh? Well, whatever!”

Ethan, having been in a situation of complete loss before, knows how he must be feeling. But, also having been in a situation of running away from a powerful enemy while in that despaired state, also knows that Gabriel needs to get over it as soon as he can.

Gabriel: “Don’t give me that look!”

And so, he eyes Gabriel with a condescending glare, to which Gabriel clicks his tongue and makes himself stand.

Ethan: “What are you planning to do now?”

Gabriel: “Ha!”

Scoffing at the question, Gabriel Washington says,

Gabriel: “My purpose may have changed but I am still going to need to find and have a little chat with Rosevelt.”

Seeing the rage inside him, Ethan asks with an awkward expression,

Ethan: “Have you joined Abgere’s camp of people who want to kill Rosevelt?”

Gabriel: “Ha! I am not quite sure.”

He says, turning to the direction Ethan was looking in earlier when he said he could see a certain someone through his special eyes.

Gabriel: “Speaking of him, where did you see him?”

In no way is the Hellfire over the shock, loss and despair he has needed to face, but, he is strong-willed enough to subside his feelings and focus on the situation at hand.

Ethan: “Well, about that.”

His troubled expression growing more troubled, Ethan points in the direction he had seen Abgere’s aura in and says,

Ethan: “He doesn’t seem to be alone though. There are Spectres there as well.”

Gabriel: “Spectres!? What the heck is that guy doing?”

Ethan: “No idea!”

Ethan says, and sighs.

Ethan: “And to get an idea, we need to go there.”

It isn’t a suggestion but Ethan Kales telling Gabriel Washington what he will do. So, Gabriel says,

Gabriel: “Well, then let’s get going.”

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