Arc 2: Chapter 40: Master of Deception

Arc 2

The World Falling

Chapter 40: Master of Deception

Sneha: “Are you serious!?”

That question, asked with clear surprise on her face was, up until that point, perhaps the only real reaction I remembered anyone having to Ethan’s words.

Ethan: “Well, if you have a better idea, I’ll be happy to hear it.”

With so much calm in the face of that adversity that one might think he’s not even human, he said so and turned one eye to the other female member of our group, trying to ask her the same question.

Sona: “Hah! Whatever!”

She said so, not much fazed but still somewhat surprised and uncomfortable by Ethan’s suggested plan.

Sona: “We’ll have to deal with them one way or another. If no one has any other ideas, I guess we’ll just go with your plan.”

Yeah, that’s how it happened. That’s how we agreed to follow Ethan’s strategy to face that problem.

What else could we do though?

We were up against two ridiculously powerful individuals, one of whom was the strongest individual in the world altogether. If we had a plan that seemed like it could work, we had to use it no matter how crazy and unpredictable it sounded.

But,

Kais: “Ethan Kales!”

Before we went out of the tomb and confronted those two monsters,

Kais: “Answer me something!”

There was something I wanted to ask.

Barry, Sona, and even that Dragon had told me that I was someone special. Abyss had hinted at it many times as well. Ozyllus was obsessed with me for the same reason, I presume. Others not mentioned also didn’t exactly treat me the same way they would treat any other Psychic.

It truly felt like I was different from others, for whatever reason.

But, that is how it felt from the way they treated me. I, personally, never really felt anything like that about myself.

I mean, I was a pretty normal person in my opinion.

From my favourite pieces of fiction to my favourite sports teams to my favourite pastime activities, everything about me felt pretty normal to me.

Kais: “How am I someone important in the world?”

How then?

At that point, I was determined to not let anything change my mind about what I was going to do. But, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t curious about things I didn’t know, especially things about myself.

Ethan: “How are you different from the masses, you ask?”

And throughout the course of the four days before that point, that man had left enough of an impression on me for me to want to know what his answer to that question would be.

Ethan: “Well, you are the best liar in the world when you need to be.”

And, knowing every single one of my thoughts, he gave that answer.

Ethan: “One could even say that you are a master of deception. And hence, you are more invincible in this world that any other human being … save for maybe one.”

There were many things to infer from his words, like that ‘save for maybe one’ probably referring to Bronzer and showing his anxiety towards that man, or even the fact that he gave a reference to Ozyllus with his ‘master of deception’.

But, the one thing that struck me the most and possibly started by self-introspection train was the sentence that I was more invincible than anyone in this world.

Walter Schmidt was waiting for us outside.

Even Spectre Dyne, who was with him, was far more powerful than me.

Heck, even Sneha Stone, who was with us, was stronger than me.

And, even then,

Kais: “More invincible, huh?”

He said so about ME.

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

Ross: “Tsk! There’s something wrong with you.”

He says, stepping back, as he sees me smiling even though I am crushed under the rubble.

Ross: “Y-you are …”

Not seeing your enemy cry in pain is painful for quite a few supernaturals, but seeing your enemy dismissing the pain you dish on them like it’s no big deal is just plain terrifying for anyone.

It basically means that they aren’t powerful enough to do damage worth crying over, that the difference between their opponent and them is just that big.

Kais: “You want to know what all the hype is about, right?”

I ask with a smile I just can’t remove from my face.

Kais: “You want to know why everyone thinks I am someone special? Well, I want to know that as well.”

Sadly, by the time I find out, you may not be alive.

I mean, Ethan Kales said that you are ‘almost invincible’, which is still a lesser praise than ‘more invincible than anyone else in the world’.

So, as far as this fight goes, it’s only logical that I win.

It would be wrong for you to win when you are less invincible than me.

Losing, for you, wouldn’t be pathetic because you will be losing to someone who is invincible, more than you or anyone else in the world at least.

But, losing, for me, would be pathetic, far too pathetic, because I would be losing to someone who isn’t even on the same level as me.

Seeing as how I have to defeat Ozyllus and crush his plans and all that, if I lose to someone lesser than me, how can I possibly defeat someone better than me?

Yes, no matter how you look at it, me losing this fight would mean the end of everything.

Since I am supposed to be the hero of this epic, one could even say the entire epic depends on this fight right now.

So, I have to win. I have to win at all costs.

And, since everyone else thinks I do, I probably have the power to win as well.

So, what’s stopping me?

Why am I sitting under the rubble doing nothing as if my legs getting crushed is a big deal?

That guy is less invincible than me and he can heal from stuff like this so it’s obvious I can deal with it too.

Hence, I stand up, or at least try to.

My healing isn’t the best and I know that but I am supposed to be more invincible than anyone despite that. So, I should have some other alternative that would work just fine.

Ross: “Y-you are kidding, right? Right? RIG-”

Kais: “You are shaking in fear, right? Right? RIGHT?”

The smile on my face grows into a grin as I see his legs starting to wobble and his astonishment robbing him of his chance to attack.

Kais: “Now then, let’s make the epic interesting.”

For a fight like this, a fight which holds the entire epic on its shoulders, certainly there should be more theatrics.

So, I turn to the sky, spread my arms, and yell,

Kais: “You will know the meaning of losing right here, Ross Green.”

The clouds in the sky start forming a vortex around me as if creating the passage for a deity to come through. And, supposedly, this deity happens to be lightning.

Ross: “Y-you … psycho!”

100 million volts? 200 million volts? 300 million volts?

No, each bolt of this lightning is 500 million volts.

Yet, it doesn’t kill me like it would kill most people.

It makes me feel incredible pain, yes, but just like before, I don’t even have any urge to scream. Instead, I can think calmly.

And so, I can see everything happening around me.

I can see Ross Green shaking in his place as he sees me. I can see Sona, in the distance, trying to get through the rubble and come here. I can see the mass of rubble that crushed me just a moment ago.

I can see it all. And I can feel it too.

I can feel my blood burning up, my tendons ripping apart and my bones heating up with a speed that very few may think is even possible for the human body.

They are all burning up, ripping apart and getting destroyed.

And, in the place of their destroyed selves, this lightning is filling me with its unsurmountable reserves of natural energy that my Psychic Potential is processing to form a healing factor for me.

Ross: “W-wh-”

I hear a slumping sound, and as I turn to look towards the direction it came from, I see Ross Green having fallen to his feet as he stares at me with pure shock and horror.

Ross: “You … you … d-did you just … heal?”

He asks me as my crushed legs and my electrocuted muscles are formed back up, and this time, stronger than they were before.

So,

Kais: “Well, I AM supposed to be invincible.”

I still really don’t get what Ethan meant by me being the best liar when I want to be or the master of deception, but maybe that’s a good thing.

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

Ethan: “So, what’s this about?”

He asked, confused as to why the Spirit-user of their faction had asked him to meet her alone and without telling anyone else.

Ethan: “Don’t tell me your heart is starting to waver because of my badassery! If that happened, I’d feel really bad for Kais.”

Sona: “If you don’t want a second asshole, shut up!”

Ethan: “E-ek!”

Sona: “Now, the reason I asked you to be here – it’s simply because I have a question that I need answered, and I don’t think asking it in front of Kais would be a good idea.”

With a serious and contemplating glance at the house they were residing in, and maybe at the people residing within it as well, Sona asked Ethan,

Sona: “Back in the tomb, what did you mean when you said Kais is the ‘master of deception’?”

Hearing that question, Ethan couldn’t help but smile.

It was nighttime and the streets were mostly quiet, allowing for better concentration for any supernatural trying to use some ability. Hence, there didn’t seem to be a way with which he can force his way out of the situation, much less dodge it.

So,

Ethan: “Hah!”

He sighed, and answered,

Ethan: “There is something deeply tragic about a man who can’t live without deceiving himself.”

For him, who had lived the past 12 years of his life with the philosophy of never lying to himself and always facing the truth head-on, self-deception was truly something very special.

Sona: “I … suppose.”

And for her, who had lived the past 12 years of her life consumed with rage and hate and never tried to even look at the truth because in some recess of her mind, she had realized that the truth would hurt a lot more, self-deception was also truly something very special, though for completely opposite reasons.

Ethan: “Ha!”

For the one who had never deceived himself and for the one who had grown past deceiving herself after doing so for most of her life, there was someone really important to both of their causes whose case was very special to both of them.

Ethan: “We live in a world but believe means a lot. As long as people believe, even an asshole deserving to be called the devil can become a ‘God’.”

Believing – this was a concept he had faced himself far too many times, so he knew despite not being a supernatural that –

Ethan: “If a supernatural believes they are weak, they will probably become weak. And conversely, if they believe they are strong, they will probably become stronger than they are at least. It’s just how the Potential of supernatural abilities work, and even more so for Psychics than anyone else.”

And so, something so tragic and foolish as self-deception can become something far too great.

Ethan: “For him, a man capable of constantly deceiving himself into thinking whatever is convenient, this is probably both a blessing and a curse.”

Hearing so, Sona looks back at the mansion with a distant and sad look.

Sona: “Does … does all his power emerge just because he can deceive himself into thinking he has that power?”

Ethan: “…”

Sona: “Does he not have anything of his own?”

It was saddening to hear that the only childhood friend of hers lives by constantly deceiving himself. So, it was only natural she wondered about that, wishing for the answer to be the more positive one.

Ethan: “Well, I am sure there is something inside him that is not just present because of his self-deception. But, whatever it is, it’s present so deep inside him that even I can’t see it.”

There was a genuine uneasiness in the air from the start.

Sona: “Uh …”

And it had grown worse.

Ethan: “If we want to bring that something out of him, we’ll need to remove many layers of defensive mechanisms. It’s definitely not going to be easy.”

Sona: “But, we don’t have a choice, do we?”

She said, not even really asking but just stating.

Sona: “We’ll have to do it. We are the only ones who can.”

Ethan sighed, and said simply,

Ethan: “Yes, indeed. But, until we are able to do it, he will remain a mystery to himself, a mystery that is so simple but will always appear complicated because of who he is.”

That’s all Ethan Kales sees in Kais. That’s all he thinks of him. And, maybe, that IS all there is to think about him.

Ethan: “He will never be able to understand himself. Because, well, if he did, he will not be able to continue deceiving himself. But, because of his nature, he will continue to try to understand himself. And if we don’t do something, this spiral will be the entirety of his existence.”

And so, they have to do something.

They have to, somehow, pull the hero out from the deepest pits of his dark mind, make him stop being a hero by doing that, and then pull him up even higher, so he can be a hero again, but this time a true one.

Ethan: “What a pain!”

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

Sona: “Damn!”

The words and reactions just come out without intending to as she notices the zenith of self-deception right in front of her eyes.

The Hellfire, Ross Green, attacks him.

Within a second, the Hellfire uses many, many combinations of moves – from flaming his opponent with Pyrokinesis and strengthening the fire by Aerokinesis to trapping him in a vortex of wind and rock through Aero and Geokinesis respectively and then releasing tons of energy right into the vortex to make it a hundred times more destructive.

But, each time,

Ross: “N-no!!!”

His opponent comes out of the attack with his injuries healing completely, after which he waits for the Hellfire to make his next move.

Obviously, the waiting is to mock him as if to say that no matter what the Hellfire tries, he would be able to do nothing.

Sona: “This … this is … wrong!”

One would expect her to be happy that her friend and comrade is defeating the enemy in front of her and so easily at that, but there’s just no way a true friend could be happy for him when his power comes not from his true heart but from the deal he has made with the devil that is the deep and dark recess of his mind.

Ross: “Just die already!”

The Hellfire shouts and lounges at his opponent, who, having grown bored of constantly healing, stops the Hellfire’s fists with his grip and twists his arm around like it’s made of soft plastic.

Ross: “AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!”

The Hellfire screams in pain obviously but the pain experienced is a lot less than the terror felt by him.

Sona: “Master of deception? No, master of self-deception. Yes, that is truly who you are.”

She says with a sad voice and a shaking resolve, realizing that trying to bring him out of his cage might be harder than she thought and could potentially damage their friendship as well.

Meanwhile, the Hellfire finds his arms detached from his body.

Ross: “AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH!!!”

And, before he gets a chance to heal, his opponent rips off his legs as well.

Ross: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

The sight was like a butcher handling a hard-to-kill chicken, just a lot more sadistic and a lot less opportunistic.

So,

Sona: “Kais!”

She screams, unable to continue just staring at that sight.

Sona: “Just kill him already!”

Just kill him and be done with it, stop letting your inner demons take over, stop letting them drag you deeper into your mind.

That’s what she meant to say.

But,

Kais: “Don’t worry! He won’t be able to fight back anymore!”

To him, it may have just sounded like nothing more than a comrade of his cheering for him to win and maybe somewhat worries about the opponent fighting back.

Kais: “He’s done!”

So, he said that and continued the torture as he proceeded to heal his opponent himself, even going as far as to reattach his limbs, only so he can tear them out again, but this time inducing much more pain than before.

Sona: “N-no …!”

One’s own mind is a great place to visit. It is capable of giving respite, counteract situations and even get over pain and suffering.

But, all of that can be achieved by nothing more than the surface of one’s mind, and so one should only go as far as that.

Everything beneath the surface, the layers upon layers of darkness, depression, depravity, deceit and danger – one must never traverse into those parts of one’s mind.

That abyss of darkness is for the devil to reside in – a human should not touch it, because if one does, he might never be able to break away and only fall further and further into that endless pit, into that chasm of darkness – that abyss.

Kais: “Well,”

Standing up, covered in the dead Hellfire’s blood, the supposed ‘hero’ of the story says.

Kais: “That was fun!”

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