Arc 2: Chapter 68: Strategies And Threats

Sona: “Wow! This sure was a waste of good money.”

She says after moving her fingers across the entire house we are in.

Ethan: “What was?”

Sona: “This kind of spacious and more-than-comfortable house being given to you to live in. It’s kind of a waste of money.”

Ethan smiles sardonically in response.

Ethan: “And, well, this kind of spacious and more-than-comfortable house allowed me to study everything I did and is the reason why we are all here and not in much worse emotional, psychological and physical predicaments and also this is the place that we are using as our base.”

He seems quite passionate about arguing that this house was not wasted on him. And well, I personally want to side against him, like I always do, but I think he is right, like he is most of the times.

Kais: “You know, Sona, he kinda has a point.”

Sona looks at me with a disappointed gaze. I don’t really know why but it does make me feel a bit bad about my response.

Sona: “The reason why this is a waste of money is because all it would take is one flick from a guy like Walter Schmidt to destroy it. And I think you have a lot of Walter Schmidts as your enemies.”

Well, that’s also a good point. If the house was cheap, it getting destroyed wouldn’t mean much. But the owner of this house, with pretty much all of his actions, has been basically asking people to punch him in the face and he’s living in such a great house. That’s, like, asking for the place to be demolished.

Three bedrooms, one library, a living room, a garden, a yard, a pool, a store room, and some other miscellaneous types of rooms are present in this house. To be honest, I do kinda feel jealous of the fact that this jackass has been living in such a big house while I have been living in, what – a one-bedroom flat?

Sona: “You look like you are pretty much ready to destroy it yourself.”

She says so with somewhat of a grin on her face.

Kais: “Not completely out of the question.”

And so I answer with somewhat of a grin too. And of course, since the whole point of all this is to annoy the winner of our ‘annoyance of the life award’, we turn to look at his face.

If my understanding of him is correct, then he’d try to change the topic to get out of this. And we won’t let that happ-

Ethan: “Congratulations! You two are perfectly in sync. I’d say you two should marry already.”

-en.

Kais: “…”

Sona: “…”

Ethan: “Why the red faces?”

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

Deciding that taking turns to keep watch over Abgere was the best option and that more than just one person should keep watch over him (just to be safe) has lead to now, when the three of them of are talking about demolishing the house and marrying each other and whatnot while Sneha and Gabriel keep watch over their quite seriously injured but stable patient.

Gabriel: “Sneha, I wanted to ask you something.”

He says, not with the intention of just starting a conversation but because he really does want to ask something.

Gabriel: “Why did you decide to leave Vermillion and join up with that weirdo?”

The rather tall woman sitting diagonally-left from Gabriel and diagonally-right from Abgere sighs and answers,

Sneha: “The answer lies in the same reason that I joined Vermillion in the first place.”

Gabriel finds himself surprised but continues nonetheless.

Gabriel: “I never got to find out what that reason was.”

Sneha: “I wanted to find the person responsible for killing all of my teachers and fellow students at the temple I was brought up in.”

Gabriel, like every other high-ranking official in Vermillion, knew that she was brought up in a temple and that her fellows at the temple were killed in the carnage of 12 years ago. That, and they also knew who was responsible for it.

Gabriel: “Didn’t you already know that Barry was the one who did?”

Sneha: “Not before joining Vermillion.”

She says and takes a glance at Abgere to make sure he is stable and then continues,

Sneha: “After I joined Vermillion, I found that out. But, for whatever reason, it just never seemed real to me. I just wasn’t convinced that a psychic who had been known as such a kind person for so long would suddenly go on a rampage and do something like THAT.”

Gabriel: “…”

Sneha: “I probably also didn’t want to believe that a psychic going nuts was all there was to that disaster. I didn’t want to accept that it was just bad luck that they all died. I wanted there to be an enemy I could blame this all on.”

As he is someone whose hate towards Bronzer for the murder of his fiancée and in-laws has reached a high point, Gabriel can understand that emotion.

However, to him, there always has been Bronzer to blame it on.

He has never felt the need to find someone he can blame. So, he can’t completely relate. That is why, he asks his next question, something he wouldn’t even bother asking if he could relate to her.

Gabriel: “Did you want revenge for what happened?”

Sneha: “Nope. Not at all.”

She says and gets up as if to say she has no intention of talking about that any further. And as if just on cue,

Abgere: “ah … hah”

Abgere starts regaining consciousness.

Sneha: “Well, we better tell those three.”

Gabriel: “Right.”

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

Within a minute, all six people in the house gather in one room.

Abgere: “Wh-wh-”

Ethan: “If you say ‘who am I?’ I am going to rip your head off.”

Well, all of us saving him only for him to forget his memories would be pretty aggravating.

Abgere: “Uh, where … the fuck … am I?”

Ethan: “Well now, that’s better.”

The man hanging onto the bed that Abgere has been placed on, smiles, and continues,

Ethan: “You are at my house. And if you don’t know who I am, I am Ethan Kales.”

Abgere: “Wh-what … did you say your name was?”

Ethan: “Why? If you have ever heard this name before, I doubt you could have already forgotten who it belongs to. After all, it’s the name of the person who put a bullet in Ro Garland’s gut.”

Sometimes I think this guy wants someone to break his arms and legs. Other times I don’t because I realize that he is more of a sadist than a masochist.

Abgere: “…”

Despite the silence, I feel an overwhelming urge to push Ethan out of the room.

The glare Abgere is giving Ethan at this point is quite scary, even though I have no harm coming my way.

Abgere: “And you all?”

He glances at us as he asks,

Abgere: “You are his allies? Accomplices?”

Okay, I take that back. His glare is at all of us and if any harm comes, Ethan would be the first but then this guy’s hostility will lead him to us too.

Gabriel: “Look, let’s just calm down and-”

Abgere: “I think I know you. Aren’t you Gabriel Washington, a Hellfire?”

Gabriel: “Oh boy!”

Abgere: “You piece of shit needs to die!”

Abgere tries to grab Gabriel by the collar, which obviously does not happen because Gabriel moves away and Abgere can’t move very well with all his wounds.

Sneha: “Okay, Gabriel, calm down!”

Abgere: “You are in Vermillion too, aren’t you?”

Sneha: “I was, not anymore. And more importantly,”

Abgere: “There is nothing more important than killing you piece of shits!”

Even Sneha back away a little, feeling his hostility cutting through her heart. And so,

Slap!

Abgere: “Tsk! What the-”

Slap!

Abgere: “…”

Sona: “You are getting on my nerves, you half-assed edge-lord.”

Yeah, the best person to deal with this kind of situations – deals with it.

Ethan: “Nice catch.”

Ethan says to me without turning my way, causing me to turn his way in annoyance.

Sona: “And by the way,”

She says with a mocking smile as she brings up her other hand (the one she didn’t slap with) which is holding a peculiar item,

Sona: “You are not wearing your mask anymore.”

Abgere: “Huh!?”

And for whatever reason, Abgere seems more surprised and troubled by that than he was when Ethan told him his name and flaunted about killing Ro.

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

After parting with the self-proclaimed third faction of the war, Ro Garland had one thing to do.

He needed to find his friend, Abgere. He needed to find out if he was alright or not. And he needed to stop him from going on the rampage he had been planning for so long; little did he know that he was already too late.

It was some time in the evening when the third faction was fighting Gabriel Washington on the docks that, on the other side of the city, Ro was passing by a street-side food stall while thinking of how to contact Abgere. And at the same time, every television in an electronics shop nearby was switched to the same channel. Ro wasn’t interested at first but when he saw all the heads around him turned to those televisions, he had to see what was up.

And then he found the horror of his life.

Ro: “Shit!”

-was his reaction to the news of the death of Julius Rome and the mention by the reporter that ‘another member’ of Vermillion’s board of executives had died recently too.

Ro: “That idiot has already started it. And he’s not going to stop unless he kills them all.”

So, he talked to people around him (by possessing some random person he saw there) to learn about who the other dead member of Vermillion’s board was.

After coming to know that it was Gin Hanks, he started thinking of a pattern or a clue that could lead him to who the next victim of Abgere’s wrath would be.

And it wasn’t all that hard to figure out – there was no pattern.

Abgere wasn’t some complex maniac who was trying to send a message or something. He just wanted to kill those people for the sake of his definition of ‘justice’.

There was no message to give, just judgment to pass.

And so he would go with whoever is the most near to him.

He killed Gin Hanks. The Hellfire living closest to Gin Hanks is in a nearby city from his home, the city Ro is in now, Julius Rome, who also happens to be his own goddamned father.

So he killed him next.

Then, the closest Hellfire to Julius Rome would be the priest running a church a little distance away from the city. So, Abgere’s next target, Ro surmised, would be Halogen Dietrich.

Thinking back to the cunning of that man, Ro wouldn’t be surprised if Halogen had already figured out that he was going to be the next target.

And so, he would have probably taken some countermeasures.

But, it’s not like Ro just wants to stop Abgere. If that was it, he could let Abgere go in and try to kill Halogen and end up in whatever trap Halogen had set for him – and die.

But, Ro wants to save Abgere above all else.

And despite being a ghost now, he hasn’t gained enough power to do much on his own. So, while he may just have separated from them just then, he needed to go back to them – the self-proclaimed third faction – and tell them everything, and then, hope that they help.

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

Abgere: “How did you people know where I was going to be?”

-is the first thing he asks after hearing about who we are and how we found him and brought him here.

Kais: “Someone tipped us off on where you’d be.”

Abgere: “Someone?”

Being that he is going on this vigilante revenge route, I can understand why he is looking at me with eyes full of suspicion and wariness when he hears that ‘someone’ tipped us off about his whereabouts.

Kais: “Well, it was Ro Garland.”

Abgere: “That’s not funny!”

A sharp glare comes my way when he says that.

Kais: “I know. But it’s the truth. Even though your friend is dead, you can still meet, talk and do whatever you want to do with him.”

That last part might have some morally incorrect interpretations I never meant it to have.

Abgere: “You are telling me he’s a ghost now?”

Kais: “Yes. I am not surprised you know that ghosts are real as you have been researching on Hellfires and you probably know a lot of their secrets by this point. However, I AM surprised that you didn’t think of the possibility of him being a ghost when you knew about their existence already.”

Abgere sighs to my statement-like-sounding question and says,

Abgere: “I didn’t think he would have enough regrets to warrant becoming a ghost.”

Well, the myth about a person becoming a ghost only if they die with some regrets in their heart, huh?

I don’t know how accurate it is but I don’t think it’s completely bogus, and it seems like this guy believes in it.

Ethan: “Ha!? That guy wouldn’t have regrets?”

Ethan scoffed.

Ethan: “You should have just seen the look on his face when I shot him. If that myth is true, he would probably already have enough regrets that he could get another shot at becoming a ghost if we destroy his existence.”

The bastard has troubled himself to yell from outside the room just to say that so he’s probably not exaggerating too much, though it’s obvious he’s exaggerating a bit.

Why he is outside the room though?

Well, Abgere’s bloodlust wouldn’t have gotten lower unless he and Gabriel were out of the room so a glare from Sona threw them both out.

And then the two women in the room left all the talking to me seeing as how one of them is the fear of the masses whose every word can make a guy pee his pants and Abgere doesn’t really trust the other because of her past affiliations with Vermillion.

I am the most ‘normal’ guy in the scenario according to them so I have been conversing with him for this whole time.

Abgere: “So anyway, where is he?”

Kais: “Ro?”

Abgere nods and so I sigh. The answer to his question is where things get complicated.

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

Ro: “What do you mean ‘no’?”

Ethan: “You want me to explain what ‘no’ means?”

Ethan casually threw sarcasm as if it didn’t even matter; all the while Ro was gritting his teeth in annoyance.

Ethan: “We are not wasting our time trying to save your friend, Ro. We have more important things to do.”

Ro looked at the other four people at the docks hoping that at least one of them wanted to help. But, no one did.

Kais knew his priorities and Sona was completely disinterested in Ro and his troubles. Sneha wanted to help but knew that it could be detrimental to their actual mission and Gabriel – why would he save a guy who wants to kill him?

Ro: “Are you seriously going to let a man die like that?”

Ethan: “A man who also happens to be a killer of two Hellfires and others around them? Yeah sure, I don’t think anyone of us has a problem with letting a guy like that die.”

Ethan looked at the other four just to let Ro see them nod and understand that none of them have any intentions of helping him.

Gabriel: “I’m sorry, Ro Garland. But I”

Ro: “Enough!”

Ro, as one would expect, was hopelessly despaired at that point.

Ro: “If you aren’t going to help, keep your trap shut!”

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

Kais: “We haven’t seen him since then.”

Abgere: “If you denied his request to help me, why did you then help me anyway?”

Well, we just decided to believe in the bastard’s mind.

Kais: “The head of the third faction’s strategy department later changed his mind and said that helping you would benefit us.”

Abgere: “And who is this head of the strategy department of yours?”

Abgere asks with a sarcastic expression. And I answer equally sarcastically.

Kais: “Here’s a hint: he’s the second ugliest person in this house.”

I mean, as I have said before, I have a face many girls have fallen for. Sona, even as a kid, was the most beautiful thing in our school. Sneha is rather elegant and good-looking as well.

And Abgere himself is quite the charmer. Behind the devil mask we found him in, he has a really impressive face. Deep brown and deep-set eyes, square face, hook nose, honey skin, about 6’3 tall, surpassing me and Ethan in height, and a rather fit build. He is not the charmer of the century but he does have a good combination of features that might attract much more than just glances from people.

Abgere: “Ethan Kales.”

Yes, indeed.

There is only Gabriel who looks more unimpressive than Ethan so Ethan becomes the second ugliest person in this house and the man responsible for all our strategies. And the man in question, from the outside of the room, keeps mumbling to himself.

Ethan: “Head of Strategy; Second ugliest; I can’t really figure out if I got insulted more or praised more.”

No one praised you, jackass. I just made a joke and then insulted you.

Anyway, I do wonder what exactly happened that made Ethan change his mind.

He didn’t really tell me no matter how much I asked, always saying thing like, ‘will tell you later’ or ‘have patience’ or something along those lines.

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

While trying to think of a way to save Abgere, Ro Garland did not notice until it was too late that he had been surrounded on all sides and that the people who had surrounded him were somewhat wary of him.

When he finally noticed was when they came out of hiding and cut of all his escape routes. Looking at their faces, it didn’t take very long for him to realize that they were all vampires.

Ro: “What the hell do you guys want?”

“We want you to come back to our side.”

A man, for whom the vampires moved aside and made way, said so.

He was a rather good-looking man who would remain in a person’s memory for a long time even if they never actually talk to him. This man also happened to be the mysterious strategist of the Vampire Kingdom.

Ro: “Who are you?”

Bronzer: “I’m Bronzer. I think you would have heard of me.”

Ro: “Yeah, I have. What do you want?”

Bronzer: “Just to make you come back to us.”

Ro: “And why is that? How am I important enough for you to want me on your side?”

Bronzer: “You are, you are. You are very important. And it won’t be possible for you to understand how.”

Throughout their conversation, Ro had a wary attitude while Bronzer was relaxed. And it continued.

Ro: “I have something else I need to be taken care of.”

Bronzer: “Saving your friend Abgere?”

Ro: “How did you-”

Bronzer bought a finger up to stop him from saying anything further, and said,

Bronzer: “Let me help you with that.”

And then he cut their conversation off by dialing a number on his phone. Ro didn’t know who he was calling until the person picked up and Bronzer said,

Bronzer: “How are you doing, Ethan?”

Ro could not clearly hear what Ethan said in response but, from the type of noise he could hear, he figured that the guy was angry – quite angry in fact.

Bronzer: “Yeah, yeah. See, the thing is – I want you to go and save Abgere and nurse him back to health if you have to and then bring him on your side. You know, team-up with him and all that?”

Bronzer was carefree, almost too carefree considering he was talking to, well, Ethan Kales.

Bronzer: “Why would you do that? Hmm … a valid question, boy. So here’s the deal – you do what I am telling you to do and I will NOT rally my troops to come and kill off your little ‘third faction’.”

Ro was barely able to keep up with the conversation, not even having a hint as to what Bronzer’s motives were. But, from everything that was happening in front of his eyes, he could understand one thing-

Bronzer: “Of course I can do that. You are overestimating yourself if you think your little group can win against me.”

He could understand very clearly that someone really dangerous was standing before him.

Bronzer: “So, what do you say? Wanna see how your little party fairs against the entirety of the Vampire Kingdom or think that I won’t be able to keep my promise and be killed alongside everyone else on your side?”

The answer, at that point, was obvious, even if it was Ethan Kales making the decision.

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