Arc 2: Chapter 41: When Friends And Enemies Meet

Abyss: “…”

Silence befalls the ‘devil’ as he witnesses the blood of the Hellfire, Ross Green, spewing about. 

With complete disregard to humanity, the one whose body he inhabits had murdered a Hellfire in the most brutal way possible.

More than horrifying or surprising, this was saddening.

Abyss: “…”

And yet, he couldn’t put it into words why.

When looked from a logical perspective, Kais had defeated his enemy, healed himself and temporarily even had the power to reattach Sona’s arms, basically nullifying all the damage the two of them had taken in defeating two ridiculously powerful opponents.

So, shouldn’t he be happy?

They are winning, after all. That should make any ally of them happy.

As far as brutality goes, this is nothing new for him either. He has seen much more vicious things in his life, some so horrible that they could give nausea to Ethan Kales. The brutality displayed while killing Ross Green pales in comparison to everything he has witnessed in his life.

So, that shouldn’t be a bother either.

Yet, there’s something – something that is not right.

Abyss: “… Tsk!”

He cannot quite put his finger on it but there’s something really wrong with Kais defeating Ross like that.

And, whether it’s the fact that he can’t understand what it is or whatever it is is so powerful that it affects him regardless, he feels sad about it.

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

Rosevelt: “Ha!”

A scoff – that’s all the Phoenix’s reaction is as he realizes that two of his Hellfires have died.

Rosevelt: “How stupid!”

He doesn’t feel any grief whatsoever. All he feels is disappointment upon the fact they battled and died when he wasn’t watching.

Rosevelt: “Such a waste!”

There’s no point in them dying when they don’t even provide any new information that could give him an advantage over those who defeated them.

After a life of stupidity, the flames on his wings are dying out in the stupidest and most useless fashion as well.

Rosevelt: “Well, if nothing else, I guess I know that they can defeat those idiots.”

Perhaps the only redeeming factor of the situation is that he can at least infer the third faction is capable of taking down two Hellfires, albeit the weaker ones.

Rosevelt: “Huh?”

Walking through the darkness of the night as his wounds continue to heal constantly, the Phoenix feels no fear of uncertainty as he gladly walks back towards the battlefield he was thrown out of.

Still, even though their individual deaths has no effect on him, the same can’t be said about the big picture.

Rosevelt: “Well, they have been cut to almost half now, huh?”

The ten Hellfires have now been reduced to six.

And surely, the number is going to decrease even more.

So,

Rosevelt: “Maybe it’s not a pipe dream, after all. Maybe, it’s possible.”

For this to be an indication from the fate that his time is up, for this to be a message from death the march is coming towards him – it’s certainly possible.

And, with all he has got, he hopes he isn’t disappointed, he hopes that his death does come finally.

But,

Rosevelt: “Before any of that though, there’s a score I have to settle.”

He mumbles to himself, thinking about the ‘God’ who thought blasting him away was a good idea and made him miss the death of two Hellfires already.

There’s a score to settle there indeed.

“Going somewhere?”

A voice calls out to him, a voice that seems like it belongs to a 16-year-old, but it still a voice that seems to hold a lot of firmness within it.

Turning back, the Phoenix sees the owner of that voice standing there as if it’s the most normal thing to do.

Rosevelt: “Grisham? Or, shall I call you The Reaper? What are you doing here?”

The Phoenix asks with a shallow grin, to which The Reaper replies with a smile.

Grisham: “Well, I came to sate my curiosity.”

Rosevelt: “Ha, your curiosity? And what’s that all about?”

Grisham: “It’s about you, Phoenix. It’s all about you.”

Elated by seeing the Phoenix get surprised, The Reaper continued.

Grisham: “I have been curious about your stance in this war, about why you seem to take everything so carelessly, about why you are indifferent to so many secrets of the world.”

As he says so, he walks over to Rosevelt and offers him his support. Rosevelt, still yet to fully heal, accepts the support.

Grisham: “I have been curious as to why you seem to not care about the results of anyone’s actions, about why you seem so indifferent towards consequence and why the many mysteries in this world that has the whole world running here and there have no effect on you.”

Hearing all of it, Rosevelt chuckles.

Rosevelt: “So you left your duty as The Reaper and come here because you were curious about all that?”

In a sardonic tone, Rosevelt asks. 

Grisham: “You sent your Hellfires on a mission you knew they were likely to fail and die at. Furthermore, the purpose of this mission doesn’t even seem to be anything THAT important. So, you are the last person who gets to mock me about my actions as a leader.”

Rosevelt: “Well, I guess that’s not a bad retort.”

Rosevelt, throughout the conversation, keeps a smirk on his face, owing to the realization that something unpredictable like this can only happen by sheer stupidity, but it can happen at least.

Rosevelt: “You want to know why I am indifferent to the world’s ‘mysteries’?”

He can’t help but feel a tinge of excitement for how The Reaper would react when he hears the answer.

Rosevelt: “It’s because I know the answers to all of them.”

Says the Phoenix casually.

Rosevelt: “There’s nothing you people call ‘a mystery’ that I refer to the same way.”

Grisham: “…?”

Rosevelt: “Surprised? Or, are you doubting me? In either case, that is the truth.”

For the moment at least, the leader of the Ghost Nation has been put at a loss for words.

Rosevelt: “I suppose this all began when you saw me not inquiring about your Nation’s stupid secrets, like how you people have been trying to build up Angels and Demons or how you were able to keep it all a secret for so long? Or, maybe it happened when you saw me not inquiring about how those Dragons have been keeping their existence hidden from the common folk when their appearance clearly is hard to hide?”

Even if it was anything else that had sparked his interest, it didn’t matter. The answer would remain the same – The Phoenix knew the answer, so he felt no drive to try to inquire about it.

Well, if speaking from the perspective of Vermilion, it may have been better to at least act like he was curious so no unprecedented attention is given him, but then there comes the disregard for the consequence and the general disregard for anything that happens following the idea that everything is just a meaningless epilogue.

Grisham: “Well,”

Sighing once,

Grisham: “I don’t know what to say. I thought my interest would end when you answer my questions.”

Grisham says with a scowl on his face.

Grisham: “In contrast, it has grown.”

And so, The Reaper does not yet reach for the blade he has prepared to kill the Phoenix, and the Phoenix, as usual, does not even care.

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

Dyne: “Abgere, is it?”

Asks the Spectre’s Commander as he confronts the person spying on them, who, finding out that his identity is already known by the Spectres, responds.

Abgere: “I don’t see any reason for you to know about me, and yet you seem to do?”

He says so with an inquiring voice while slowly stepping out of the rubble he had been hiding behind.

Dyne: “Well, you know, when you go around killing the most influential Psychics in the world, word gets around.”

Answers the Spectre his inquiry.

Dyne: “But, why are you following us?”

On the three sides he can see, Abgere can spot Spectres forming a formation that would put them in an advantage if a battle begins there.

That said though, it wasn’t specifically his intention to battle them. Things could be dealt with without a battle.

Abgere: “I was curious as to why you guys were heading to Vermilion’s tower. I was curious if you were allies of my enemy.”

With a straight face that is not visible because of being covered by a devil’s mask, he says so.

Dyne: “Well, what conclusion did you reach about us then?”

And with a straight face that is also not visible because of being covered by his golden helm, he asks so. 

Abgere: “Well, I realized that the way things stand right now, the answer to that question is irrelevant.”

Dyne: “… Is it?”

Abgere: “…?”

Dyne: “You seem to be suggesting that since the Phoenix isn’t here, you have no reason to be hostile or friendly towards us but, what if that is not the case for us?”

Abgere twitcher his eyebrows as he realized what the Spectre’s Commander seems to be saying.

Dyne: “What if, let’s say, the Phoenix asked us to come here to eliminate you because you were being a nuisance?”

Abgere: “That would be a nuisance.”

Without a sliver of anger, knowing that it isn’t true, the anomaly of a supernatural responds.

Abgere: “However, if you people were here to do that, you would be doing that. You, the Ghost Nation, wouldn’t waste their precious time on formalities like meeting the Phoenix. You would just simply kill me and hand my dead body over to him so you can be done with this mission.”

Dyne: “And what makes you suggest that? You don’t even know me. Maybe I do things on a whim or something.”

Abgere: “Except you don’t.”

Abgere does not yet notice the presence of a couple of eavesdroppers nearby.

Abgere: “I may not know you personally but I have gained some information about you from … a trustworthy source.”

Dyne furrows his brows, curious about who this ‘trustworthy source’ would be, but, before he gets to ask,

“Aww! I am flattered that you trust me so much!”

The source reveals itself.

Dyne: “You!?”

The Spectre’s Commander gawks in surprise as ‘The Man With The Eyes of Truth’ steps out and interrupts their conversation in his usual manner.

Ethan: “Yes, me.”

There’s a tinge of annoyance in Ethan’s words, which Dyne decides to not try to guess the reason for.

Abgere: “What are you doing here? And … what about him?”

Abgere asks with half of his attention focused now on Ethan and the other eavesdropper who has shown himself.

Ethan: “Well, it’s a long story but the basic conclusion you would gain from knowing it is that we are all looking for the Phoenix right now, just like everyone else present here is.”

Dyne: “I suppose you would be doing that to find out the truth about what happened a thousand years ago?”

A sense of disappointment permeates his tone as he asks that question.

Gabriel: “Well, I am looking for him for a different reason but for him, that’s it.”

Dyne: “Oh, and you are – Gabriel Washington? One of the Hellfires?”

Gabriel: “That’s me.”

For some reason, Dyne’s tone grows even more disappointed.

Dyne: “So, Ethan, what are you gonna do when you find him – beg him to tell you everything? Because, well, there are very few people in the world who can force that guy to do something and you are not one of them.”

Ethan: “Big words for someone who couldn’t even kill a blind, scared and psychotic little child.”

Dyne: “Need I remind you that YOU were that ‘blind, scared and psychotic little child’?”

Despite the sarcastic tone from Ethan, Dyne’s voice remains straight-forward and unshaken.

Ethan: “Need I remind you that what that means is that I, as an 8-year-old, kicked your ass?”

Dyne: “Kicked my ass? You were about to be blown to the last century for crying out loud. You are only alive because HE showed up in time.”

Looking at the scene unfolding in front of him,

Gabriel: “… can I ask what’s the point of this argument?”

He asks so, feeling like the two are only wasting time.

Dyne: “Heh! Whatever! Ethan, tell me, are these two your new allies? New members of your ‘third faction’?”

It isn’t that Ethan does not sense what the Spectre wants to say but that he chooses to let him say it regardless.

Ethan: “Members, no. Allies, yes – temporarily.”

Dyne: “Hah!”

An exasperated sigh, a tired voice – it seems as if he is talking to a hopeful child who is too optimistic for his own good.

Dyne: “Do you really think you can accomplish what you are trying to accomplish? Do you?”

This question – Ethan Kales has asked himself this question hundreds or maybe thousands of time over the past twelve years, and the one answer he always ends up at is –

Ethan: “It doesn’t matter.”

Dyne: “What!?”

Ethan: “It may be hard for artificial Ghosts like you to understand but results don’t always matter to us humans. All we care about is doing what we want to do. Even if we fail at it, it still is enough to bring us a satisfactory level of happiness, one that is the minimum requirement for us to live.”

Dyne: “…”

Ethan: “If we take the safe path and don’t do what we want to do, we will always regret it, and we don’t want to regret.”

Dyne: “…”

Gabriel: “…”

Abgere: “…”

Ethan: “Now, granted all this pep talk is generally used to convince high school graduates to follow their passions and whatnot but I think it can just as well apply to us.”

Or so says The Man With The Eyes of Truth.

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

Ozyllus: “…”

Silence befalls the ‘God’ as well as he witnesses the encounter between the four.

In contrast to Kais, Ethan talks purely about humanity, embracing it with all its flaws and not even wanting to correct them, for he knows that there is no ‘right answer’ and so no way to really ‘correct’ them.

More than horrifying or surprising, this is elating.

Ozyllus: “…”

And yet, he can’t put it into words why.

When looked from a logical perspective, Ethan is saying that no matter what happens the third faction will continue to oppose Ozyllus, sacrificing everything for that purpose if they have to.

So, shouldn’t he be sad?

The third faction seems to be doing fairly well, after all. That should make any opponent of them sad.

As far as stupidity goes, this is nothing new for him either. He has seen in his long life things that are so utterly stupid that they make no sense, decisions made by people that cannot even be scorned because it’s so much easier to laugh at them.

So, there shouldn’t be a reason for him to be this happy about what Ethan says.

Yet, there’s something – something that is really special.

Ozyllus: “… Tsk!”

He cannot quite put his finger on it but there’s something really special about Ethan’s resolve to oppose him and to never stray from this path.

And, whether it’s the fact that he can’t understand what it is or whatever it is is so powerful that it affects him regardless, he feels happy about it.

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