Chapter 13: The Third Power

Psychics and ghosts have always had a very peculiar relationship. Even when the existence of ghosts used to be common knowledge among supernaturals, i.e., about 1000 years ago, the two groups rarely saw eye-to-eye. Ghosts referred to psychics as ‘natural disasters’, while psychics referred to ghosts as ‘dead calamities’. It was a bizarre relationship where both sides helped each other out on numerous occasions, but never really got along very well. The reasons for them helping each other were purely political. What were these political reasons though? Mainly, they were trying to suppress a third power. This power was fairly weaker to the both of them but was led by people cunning enough to give both of them a run for their money.

Or so Barry says. Ro has no idea what these lines mean. What third power is he talking about? The question haunts him quite a lot. But,

Ro: “So who is this third power anyway?”

Barry: “You’ll find out soon enough.”

That’s all Barry would always say whenever Ro tries to ask him directly.

Ro: “Would you answer already? What’s the point of telling me all of that when you would keep the most important bit to yourself?”

Barry: “It’s not that I’m trying to hide it from you or anything. It’s just the simple fact that it will be incredibly hard to believe unless you see it with your own eyes.”

Ro: “See what with my own eyes?”

Barry: “Be patient a little while longer. We will reach there soon enough.”

Ro and Barry are floating in the darkness. Barry has told Ro that they are heading for a particular place. Barry never said what this ‘particular place’ is though. Floating around in the darkness not feeling any change when he moves, it’s only natural that Ro is getting anxious. Are they really even moving? He has no way to tell.

Barry: “Getting nervous?”

Ro: “I guess. All I can see is darkness and it feels like we aren’t getting anywhere at all. How do you expect me to stay calm at a time like this?”

Barry: “Well, I don’t.”

Barry is facing forward so Ro has no idea what his expression is but from the tone of his answer, he is pretty serious about this.

Barry: “I’m glad my sincerity is reaching you.”

For a moment, Ro thinks he muttered his thoughts out loud, but then realizes the truth.

Ro: “Damn, you mind-reader!”

It’s irritating for him to have his thoughts read without his permission, but he can’t do anything about it except complain.

Barry: “Hey, I was just making sure you aren’t going mad because of anxiety.”

Barry’s words still contain sincerity. Ro could relax a little after hearing that answer, but who can say Barry is not faking his sincerity? After all, a psychic like him should be able to do something like that pretty easily.

Ro: “You think I’m that weak.”

Ro retorts with what should be a normal response. He knows his thoughts would have already been read, but he still tries to act differently.

Barry: “I wouldn’t call you weak, but its normal human behavior to start over-thinking things in these types of situations.

Barry ignores Ro’s actual thoughts too and tries to act as if he’s actually just conversing with the man.

Ro: “Anyway, even though you are a ghost now, you are still able to use your psychic abilities, what is up with that?”

Barry: “Well, I did lose my abilities after becoming a ghost, just like you have now, but there’s a way to gain them back. You will learn about it soon enough.”

He answers calmly, but before Ro is allowed to process that,

Barry: “Anyway, we are almost there.”

Ro: “How close is ‘almost’?”

Ro asks to dispel his anxiety. Abstract words like ‘almost’ won’t help him do so. He needs more numerical of a value so he can calm down.

Barry: “Well, at this rate, we’ll be there in a minute.”

Barry’s sudden revelation surprises Ro. He thought there would at least be five minutes left, but they are a lot closer than that.

Ro: “We are that close?”

Barry: “We are.”

Hearing so should prove to be good for calming down, but it doesn’t. Ro is now anxious for a different reason.

Ro: “So what is this ‘third’ power?”

He’s now getting anxious for he is near a power that could rival psychics and ghosts and he doesn’t even know what it is.

Barry: “I said we are almost there, right? You’ll find out.”

Yet Barry refuses to tell him. Ro is displeased with Barry to say the least. When he first came here, he was afraid Barry might attack him and then that didn’t happen, which filled him with a sense of security. Now that short-lived sense of security is washing away.

Ro: “I am starting to have doubts over my safety now.”

Ro admits his concerns. When Barry can read minds, there’s no point in trying to hide them anyway.

Barry: “Don’t worry; they won’t do anything to harm you. I am sure they’ll have enough rations to not go berserk, so no one would attack you.”

Those words were pretty suspicious. Ro is at least sharp enough to see underlying meaning of those words.

Ro: “And if their rations were low, they would attack me?”

This question starts bugging Ro after Barry’s previous lines. It just sounds really ominous to him.

Barry: “You do still look like a normal human so, yes.”

Barry straight up says so. He is casually saying something so important. This reminds Ro of Ethan and irritation swirls up inside him.

Ro: “What are they, wild animals?”

He tries to ignore the urge to abuse Ethan and asks that question.

Barry: “Nah, but you may think of them that way from a different perspective standpoint.”

Now Barry’s words are almost too ominous. What exactly does he mean? Ro would love to know but he just won’t tell him.

Barry: “Okay, we’re here.”

Those words make Ro straighten up his back; that is to say, he would have straightened up his back if he had a physical body.

Ro: “O-oh, I see.”

Ro’s concerns about his safety are very genuine. In fact, if someone didn’t get anxious in this situation, there would be something wrong with that guy. At least, that’s what Ro tells himself to calm down.

Ro: “Damn!”

But no matter how he looks at the situation, the fact remains that there are people all around him who would not be anxious at this point.

Sneha Stone would be vigilant but not anxious; after all she had trained herself enough that she could keep her calm in any dangerous situation.

Ethan Kales would happily accept an invitation like this from Barry. That’s at least the impression Ro has of him.

His superior, Garfield, would probably march right into the place without a second thought, partially because he is brave, partially because he is an idiot.

Kais would definitely be really cautious about it and be ready to run away (teleport) at any point in time, but with that preparation done, he wouldn’t try to back down before going in either.

Mohammed would probably share his sentiment though, probably.

Ro: “No matter where I look, I have always been surrounded by weirdoes.”

Barry: “Am I one of them too?”

Barry asks as if joking.

Ro: “You are the top of the list, or maybe second to Ethan.”

That evaluation of his character surprises Barry. It doesn’t bring him any joy or sadness to be thought of like that, but just surprise.

Barry: “Okay then.”

Barry says as if getting back to work. He stretches out his right hand and makes his palm face forward.

Ro: “What the hell …”

Ro can’t see anything in front of them so he has no clue what Barry is doing, but he is definitely up to something.

Barry: “Long … live … the death.”

Ro: “What!?”

Barry utters what sounds like patriarchal solute but in a tone that indicates that he is saying a password.

???: “You may enter.”

A robotic voice comes telling them they can enter. But where would they enter? That’s what bothers Ro at this point. He can see no door or any other form of matter anywhere.

Ro: “Where … are we … supposed to ‘enter’?”

He asks in an anxious voice knowing the answer might not come.

Barry: “Well, it’s right in front of you.”

However, an answer does come – only it ends up confusing him more.

Ro: “I don’t see anything in front of me.”

Barry: “That’s fine. Just trust me on this one.”

Barry asks Ro to blindly trust him. Trust him? What did he ever do to earn any trust from Ro? How can he just ask Ro to start trusting the guy? It’s absurd. Ro could not think of anything else but how absurd his words just now were.

Ro: “Not a chance.”

He straight up denies it. He would not even try to be considerate about it.

Barry: “That’s harsh.”

Barry says so as if joking around. In this darkness, somehow Ro can sense what Barry’s expression is at the moment.

Ro: “I can’t just start trusting you.”

He tells Barry his honest opinion. There’s no way Ro can trust Barry. That is the situation right now.

Barry: “Well, fair point.”

Barry, on the other hand, doesn’t protest against the statement and readily accepts it, surprising Ro once again.

Ro: “So? Explain to …”

Ro starts asking for an explanation as if giving Barry a chance to gain his trust. Though before he even finishes,

Barry: “Sorry, but I would rather not.”

Barry says so as he raises his arms and points at Ro. A sigil appears behind Ro and pushes him forward.

Ro: “What! You …”

As soon as Ro enters the darkness ahead, everything becomes bright.

Ro: “Damn! What’s this light?”

He is unable to look at the brightness of the light after being in the dark for so long. But as his eyes adjust to it, he finds himself in a large room filled with royal decorations and surrounded by many people.

Ro: “Uh …”

They are all very pale and are looking at him curiously. But other than the pale skin, they look completely normal.

Ro: “Who are … no, where am I?”

As Ro asks the question, a man comes out of the small crowd as if to answer.

Man: “You don’t know where you are, I see, did Barry bring you here?”

Ro: “He did.”

Ro had expected the crowd to know about Barry, so it doesn’t surprise him to hear his name from their mouths. But what came next is a different matter altogether.

Man: “Well, you do look pretty delicious.”

The man says so with a smile on his face. A chill would run down his spin if he were still alive. Ro remembers the words Barry told him – ‘I am sure they’ll have enough rations to not go berserk, so no one would attack you’.

Ro: “Don’t tell me he meant people when he said ‘rations’.”

It would make perfect sense if that is the case, but it is just too horrifying to think about.

Man: “Well, isn’t that peculiar? It looks like you don’t want to die.”

Ro: “O-of course I don’t … wait, but I am already dead, am I not?”

Ro realizes the obvious truth of having already died. As terrible as it may sound, it should help in this situation.

Man: “Already dead?”

The man looks confused after hearing that statement.

Ro: “Of course I’m dead. I should be safe then.”

Ro thinks of how he has become a ghost. He should be safe from these man-eaters.

Man: “Are … are you telling me you are a ghost?”

Ro: “I … I think so.”

Suddenly, the rest of the crowd which had been quiet till now starts talking. Noises come from every direction and Ro is unable to figure out what they are saying.

Man: “Silence!”

As soon as the man who had came forward says so, everybody stops. He then looks at Ro.

Man: “Find Barry.”

Even though he is looking at Ro, his words are obviously not directed at him.

Ro: “He was … just behind me. He should be …”

Man: “He won’t come from the entrance he sent you in. That’s just how he does it. He’ll probably enter from the entrance from near the court.”

Ro’s words were cut without any regard by this man. But that’s not the concern here, what he said just now is far more important.

Ro: “The court?”

Seeing Ro look ignorant, the man sighs.

Man: “You don’t seem to know anything about this place.”

Ro: “That’s because Barry kept refusing to tell me no matter how much I asked.”

Ro’s irritation at that fact has not gone away. In fact, having being thrown in a place full of cannibals, his irritation has only intensified. This shows in his words.

Man: “Well, that’s Barry for you. My name is Reid Jason. What’s yours?”

Ro: “Uh, it’s Ro Garland.”

Reid turns and starts walking.

Reid: “I see. Bring this guy to the court. We’ll ask the culprit himself why he brought a ghost here?”

Everyone in the crowd bows to Reid as he declares that. Ro tries to get up by himself, but two men pin him down immediately.

Ro: “Hey, I can walk on my own.”

They don’t answer, but start tying Ro up.

Ro: “Damn! Why can I still be tied like this when I am a ghost?”

Ghosts are supposed to be the soul of a person that can’t interfere with the physical world unless they acquire a physical medium to control. So it doesn’t make sense for a ghost to be tied up with physical objects.

Ro: “What the hell is going on? The heck did you do, Barry?”

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

In the so-called court, there is a chair left open for the ruler of the place. This chair, made of gold, is accompanied by two chairs on either side facing perpendicularly to it. These four chairs are filled with the men who are designated the respective positions while the golden chair remains vacant.

Before this royal arrangement, there is a large hall, enough for at least 500 people to stand in. In this large hall, only one man is standing.

Barry: “Hey there, nice to see you all, generals.”

Generals: “Welcome back, sire.”

Barry is addressed with enough respect to make anyone think he is to take the golden chair. But that’s not the case. Yet he commands respect among these four men.

The door then opens. Reid comes in with the rest of the crew following behind him holding Ro down.

Barry: “That’s one pathetic way to make an entrance.”

Ro notices Barry after hearing his voice. He wants to retort to his words, but he knows how dire the situation is.

Ro: “Barry? Help me out here, will you?”

Barry: “Sure. Will you let him go, Reid?”

Barry asks Reid with a smile. Reid looks at Barry as if looking at someone he despises.

Reid: “You don’t get to order me around. Where’s the queen? I seek an audience with her.”

General: “That’s bold of you.”

Reid: “Don’t misunderstand the situation General Ignis. This ghost was brought here by Barry, I don’t consider myself qualified to judge what should be done with him, but neither are any of you. This is why I seek an audience with the queen.”

Reid gets down on one leg and bows his head as he says so.

Ignis: “You sure have a lot of guts deciding what my qualifications are, don’t you – you little punk?”

Reid: “General Ignis – are you saying you are capable of deciding the fate of this ghost by yourself?”

Ignis: “Uh, well, no.”

Ignis backs downs after hearing Reid’s words.

Barry: “Calm down, General Ignis. General Aquarius, if you would please call her.”

The man sitting across Ignis, General Aquarius nods and gets up.

Aquarius: “Reid! The problem was not if Ignis was qualified to judge him or not, it was your tone in speaking to a superior officer.”

Reid clicks his tongue. Irritation is clearly coming from his face but there is also a tinge of anger and hatred.

Reid: “I apologize. But if you would, please hurry. Who knows what this ghost may be capable of?”

Ro looks at Reid as he says almost threatening words to Aquarius. It is clear that this man doesn’t get along too well with Aquarius or Ignis.

Ignis: “Tch! Damn brat!”

Aquarius sighs and Ignis looks at Reid furiously.

???: “What’s all this commotion about?”

A feminine voice comes in the hall and everyone’s attention turns to the source of the voice – a woman with pale-skin but remarkably beautiful features.

Barry: “Good to see you, sister.”

Ro can’t believe what he just heard. Sister – what does that mean? This woman, who is probably the queen, how can she be the sister of Barry?

Barry: “Don’t be confused my friend.”

Ro hears those words but can only interpret them as sarcasm after having been left in the dark about so many things.

Ro: “Are you … the queen of the ghosts?”

As soon as Ro says that, the people pinning him to the ground intensify their grip as Reid turns to him with nails big enough to tear off his heart, and ready to attack.

Barry: “Wait just now! It isn’t his fault. He doesn’t know what you guys are.”

Reid: “And that’s the problem. Why didn’t you tell him anything?”

Reid doesn’t look at Barry but the hostility in his voice is quite clear.

Barry: “I thought letting him see everything by himself would be a better idea.”

But regardless of the hostility, Barry answers with a smile.

Reid: “Screw you!”

Reid looks at Barry with killing intent in his eyes. Barry does not even flinch but looks back at him with a smile. This stare-down goes on until …

Queen: “Are you done now?”

During this time, the queen had reached the golden chair. As she sits on it, everyone faces her and bows to her – including the four generals, Barry and Reid.

Queen: “Raise your heads. Now what is the dispute? You said that man is a ghost?”

Reid: “Yes, your highness. And Barry is the one who brought him here without explaining anything to him.”

Queen: “What do you have to say?”

The queen looks at Barry asking for an explanation.

Barry: “Well sister, I think this man will be detrimental to the ghosts if he joins up with us.”

Queen: “So you are saying he can be useful in the upcoming war?”

Ro: “War?”

Reid: “Silence, fool.”

Reid raises his voice to chide Ro for speaking when the queen’s speaking. The queen sighs and looks at Barry as if asking to further explain his statement.

Barry: “Sister, this man – he was killed by …”

Pausing for a moment to let everyone process the words he is saying, Barry continues,

Barry: “Ethan Kales.”

Suddenly, the queen’s eyes shoot wide open; the generals stand up in shock and Reid’s eyes gets fixed on Barry while his mouth hung open.

Barry: “That’s right. He has begun his life’s mission, as some might call it, and is now heading towards his next target – Kais.”

Queen: “So, you are saying it has started?”

What has started? Ro wonders about the question as he barely keeps himself from muttering it out loud.

Barry: “Yes, the end has started. This is the beginning of it.”

Ro: “The end?”

Ro mutters under his breath in a volume that nobody could hear him. At least that’s what he would have wanted to, but Reid looks back at him with hostile intent as if he has done the same mistake twice.

Ro: “Uh …”

Reid: “Didn’t I tell you to be silent?”

The hostility in Reid’s eyes is sickening. Ro can’t help but get terrified of it.

Queen: “Stop it, Reid. From what Barry has told us, this man is of magnificent value.”

Reid: “Forgive me, your highness.”

Reid turns to look at the queen and bows before saying those words.

Barry: “Well, anyway, ghosts would have a lot of issues if he is working with us. What do you say?”

Queen: “I see your point. I shall consider it.”

Ro: “Tch!”

Ro clicks his tongue and the echo rings out through the hall.

Ro: “Where the hell am I? Who the hell are you people? What’s up with this war and the beginning of end bullshit? Can someone ANSWER ME ALREADY?”

Ro shouts in his irritation knowing it would only do him harm. He just could not take it anymore when his fate was to be decided by someone’s hands he didn’t have any idea of.

Queen: “Reid, I told you – stop it.”

Reid had readied his nails when the queen stops him. She looks at the crowd pinning him down and motions them to leave him. They immediately obey.

Ro: “Ah …”

Having been freed of the tight clutches he was in, Ro senses relief.

Queen: “I am sorry for how my little brother has kept you in the dark. But the first thing you should know here is that we are not ghosts. In fact, we are almost at war with ghosts, so I would advise you to not speak that word so freely. It might get you in serious trouble.”

Ro: “Okay, I get it. I’m sorry for earlier. But then, what are you people?”

Queen: “We are …”

The next word describes the species. Ro unknowingly holds his breath in the anxiety of what this word would be.

Queen: “Vampires.”

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

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