I open my eyes, but see the scenery I didn’t want to see. I had fallen unconscious because of the intense headache. That headache made me go back to the same dark abyss. Barry used to call it ‘The Cage’. I don’t know what that means or how that name fits it. To be honest, I don’t think it does. But regardless of the name, going back there helped me calm down again and collect my thoughts.
This island – I want to deny it, but I can’t – This Island had been in one of the many stories Barry had once told me.
An island where only psychics lived.
After the dizziness I felt completely matching up to what any psychic feels when they step on the island in the stories, I have to believe I really am on that island, not to mention my intuition tells me the same thing and the intuition of a psychic is something to be proud of. To be completely honest, I did think that those stories were not all fiction. I did consider the possibility this island exists. But to be thrust upon by the realization that it does and I am on it was still a little shocking. I still don’t want to accept it. But, that won’t solve anything.
From what I heard in the story, I know that there’s a forest on this island, which is another thing that matches up with the story since I can see it from here. There’s a tomb in the middle of the island. There’s a pond near it where no creature can survive. There’re some creatures that can only be found here. But that’s about it. Everything else about the island that was present in the story was the history of the island. All that was back then is gone now.
That said though, the tomb should still be here. If I try to go into the forest and walk towards the middle, I should find the tomb in a few hours. That’s the only way I can find any clues as to what is going on.
But still, it’s kind of awkward to think I got kidnapped by some people and was thrown off at an island. It’s pretty obvious I need to be careful. Especially, because of that woman who knocked me out and people as strong as her. I still don’t know how she did it, but it’s clear she is strong enough to overpower me. Whatever I do, I need to keep my mind protected. As long as my brain works, I can use teleportation and escape to safety.
Well, that being said though, just standing here won’t solve anything. I need to get a move on. It’s already evening. At this rate, I will have to travel through forest at night. Visibility shouldn’t be a problem for me, but who knows what kind of creatures live in the forest and whether I’ll be able to handle them at night or not.
And so, I start walking towards the forest that I can spot in a distance. There’s a large area of sand before the forest. But that’s to be expected from an island that was the home of a whole civilization. That reminds me, I haven’t used my psychic ever since I got here. Though I may just be a little paranoid, but what if my abilities aren’t working? I should check just in case.
I brought my hand up and tried to force the process of forming fire in my hand. It’s the ability called Pyrokinesis. With my level, I should be able to generate fire in 15 seconds. And just like I assumed, a small fire lit up in my hands in about 15 seconds. 15 seconds for Pyrokinesis – whether that’s good or bad, I would say it’s slightly better than average. Though my own knowledge of what’s good, bad or average comes only from what Barry told me. But it’s pretty obvious that Pyrokinesis isn’t my strong suit. I do like it in terms of sheer attack power. But I’m not a big fan of playing with fire, so I am not worried about it not being that good.
I turn my attention back on the road. The trees are only about 5 steps away. I didn’t even realize I had reached this close as I kept walking while trying to activate pyrokinesis. Well, no reason to stop now. Thinking that, I enter the forest – or so I would have liked to do but something blocked the path. It was a couple a dog-like creatures. They have golden fur even though they look like bulldogs. It’s awkward to see such creatures. I wouldn’t call them pretty, but they are definitely not ugly either.
Both of them stare at me intently as if warning me to not come any closer. I remember there being a mention of these creatures in the story, but I don’t remember anything about them stopping people from entering the forest. Then again, the story was set during the past, who knows how many things would have changed by now?
Kais: “Uh …”
Wait! Did they just talk? They did, didn’t they? And both of them said it together as well. They are acting like trained dogs and can manage to form words. That doesn’t make sense. Who could have trained them? And if they were trained to say ‘go away’ to whoever tried to enter then,
Kais: “So someone wants me to stay out of the forest?”
Same line again? Are those two words the only thing they are capable of speaking?
Kais: “Well, sure, I’ll go away. That is, if there’s a way out of this island, please tell me.”
They remain silent. They are still looking at me intently. It looks like they are ready to attack if I try to come any closer to the forest, but they won’t attack if I stay here or get back. Observing this, I can’t help but sigh.
Kais: “I see you are really good guards and all, but I have to wonder why your master doesn’t want me to go in the forest.”
There can be one possibility I can think on. Of course it’s based on the story Barry told me, but it sounds really plausible.
Kais: “Is whoever trained you two trying to protect the tomb?”
They give no reaction and keep staring at me. It sure is hard to tell what this silence means exactly, but
Kais: “I think I should take that as a yes.”
According to how the story played out, the tomb was given to someone to guard it. That someone was a dragon. He was the protagonist of a different story, ‘the dragon who befriended the god’. The tomb is for the said ‘god’, and the dragon protects it. That’s how the story ended. This ‘god’ was not really god but someone who was so powerful that people called him a god. But regardless of that, it’s his tomb. And its guardian seems to not want me near it.
Kais: “Yeah, yeah, I heard you the first time. But neither of us is helping the other’s situation right now.”
Even if about 1000 years have passed from the time the story is set in, the dragon would still be alive and probably be doing his duty as the guardian. So, I have to assume that the dragon is controlling these dogs. If that’s the case, they are like machines that can’t do anything except stand there and block the path and attack when necessary. On the other hand, if they were trained by the dragon to do this instead of being controlled right now, I doubt they will be left without any training further than those two commands. I think so because the dragon is said to have human-level intelligence, if not more.
So taking all that into consideration, there is one trigger I can pull right now.
Kais: “So well, tell me; is Ozyllus’ soul still in the tomb?”
Their expressions finally change. They have started growling now. They are gritting their teeth and anger’s clear on their faces. I thought this would work, didn’t know it would work so well. Ozyllus is the one this tomb is for. He was a psychic, but not an ordinary one. He was so powerful that many preached him as god. Even saying his name brings unrest to the creatures around the tomb. Again, I knew about that because of the story of this island.
Kais: “Now that you look all fired up, I don’t think getting in without a struggle is possible.”
They are still looking at me intently and barking from time-to-time while doing so. I could try to teleport into the forest as far as I can see, but that’s risky. Who knows how many and what kind of creatures will come out to stop me there. I am confident I can handle these two if it comes to fighting, but I am not overconfident enough to say I can take care of anything this forest throws at me.
Wait! What! Did I just hear that right? Are they actually saying that? They were kinda creepy when they were saying ‘go away’ in sync, but this was beyond creepy. For a second, it looked like a thirst for blood came in their mouths.
I take a step backward. I don’t know how and when they might attack me, so I need a safe distance between us. Or wait, is it them who’s going to attack? Or are they going to call someone else? Now that I think about it, they did say it in a way that indicates they are saying it to someone else. I know they weren’t saying it to me. Then, who …
???: “Well now, isn’t that a pleasant surprise?”
An unknown voice comes from behind. It doesn’t seem hostile but I can’t help but suspect it. And so I turn back readying myself for teleportation. But the sight that greets my eyes is,
???: (chuckling) “Your face is so funny. It looks like you have seen something unbelievable.”
It’s a little girl. She is about half my height and looks like a normal girl. Except, I find it hard to believe a normal person can be found on this island. She can’t possibly be ‘just’ a little girl. There’s definitely more to her than meets the eye.
Girl: “Don’t glare at me like that, mister. You should be at ease seeing how I am just a girl.”
You saying that made it impossible for me to even think about it now.
Kais: “Like hell I am dropping my guard against anybody on this island.”
The girl chuckles hearing my answer and holds up a finger to order the two bulldogs to get back. I wasn’t oblivious to them approaching, but I just couldn’t focus on that. I get a feeling this girl will be more dangerous than those two combined.
Girl: “You really don’t drop your guard, mister. Well, that’s fine. I was bored of everyone always giving me the same reaction. It’s good to see someone who would be suspicious of even a little girl.”
Kais: “I just happen to not judge people based on appearances.”
She tilts her head as if she wants to ask something, and then closes her eyes and smiles.
Girl: “Did you learn that from personal experience, mister?”
I click my tongue. She is right. Of course she is. It’s not like someone is born thinking like that.
Girl: “Looks like I was right. Yay!”
She raises both her arms and smiles. She looks and acts just like a normal girl, I almost feel guilty about doubting her … almost.
Kais: “And why the hell are you so happy?”
She stops celebrating as soon as I start speaking but the smile never disappears from her face. Why do I get the feeling I’m being made a fool out of?
Girl: “Let’s see … I don’t know.”
Girl: “You asked why I was so happy. I don’t know. I’m just happy.”
Kais: “That … uh …”
Damn it! This conversation isn’t going anywhere. I need to get to the topic. That’s right; I need to ask her about the tomb. Who knows? Maybe the dragon is not alive anymore and she is the current guardian.
Kais: “So anyway, who are you?”
Girl: “Who am I?”
She puts a finger on her chin and tilts her head trying to think.
Girl: “Well, for starters, I am human and then … I am a girl and then …”
Kais: “I already know all that. I meant to ask why you’re here.”
She tilts her head as if wondering why I’d ask that. She is acting like the answer should be obvious to me.
Girl: “Why I’m here? It’s because I live here.”
She … she does? She actually lives here? I never expected that now, did I?
Girl: “That’s different too. Everybody is always shocked still after hearing that, but you are not, mister.”
Kais: “What? I don’t look surprised enough to you.”
Girl: “You did look surprised at first, but for only a second.”
She isn’t wrong actually. For some reason, I am able to accept it really easily. To be honest, I’m surprised at why I’m not surprised.
Girl: “So then, is there anything else you want to know?”
Kais: “Well, do you have a name?”
Girl: “My name … let’s see, what was it?”
She says as she puts a finger on her lips and looks up as if trying to remember it.
Kais: “You didn’t actually forget your name, did you?”
Girl: “I did.”
She says as she smiles again. It doesn’t make sense. If she really lives here, she should be a psychic. In that case, there can be other psychics who live here too. They could be the descendants of the past civilization. In which case, they should have names to call each other by.
Girl: “Everyone asks my name. And then when I say I don’t remember what it was, they give me a new name. By the time the next person comes, I always forget the previous name. But it’s not my fault. Those names are so hard to remember.”
Till now, I had thought she was talking about others who live here whenever she said ‘everyone’, but looks like I was wrong.
Kais: “Are you meaning to tell me … that people like me have come here before?”
Girl: “Huh! Of course they have. Did you think you were the first?”
Kais: “How do they come here?”
I always thought coming here was next to impossible and nobody would want anything to do with it but from what this girl is saying, it …
Girl: “I don’t know.”
Girl: “They all come here and try to enter the forest. Then Jack and Jill stop them and I learn someone’s come. And then I come to greet them.”
I don’t remember ever being greeted by you and what’s up with Jack and Jill, is someone a big fan of that rhyme? No, that all comes later.
Kais: “So you don’t know how they end up here?”
She is proudly smiling. Why the heck would someone be so proud of being ignorant? I am getting kinda crept out by how innocent she is acting.
Kais: “Is that really true?”
Girl: “Of course it is. Why would you doubt me?”
Kais: “I do want to believe you.”
Girl: “Oh really?”
Her eyes lit up for some reason. Is she faking these expressions?
Kais: “Well, that’s more or less because you look innocent. But as I said before, I’m not going to believe you just because of your appearance.”
Girl: “I see.”
Seeing how happy she was after hearing I ‘want’ to believe her, I thought she would get down after hearing I ‘won’t’, but she is still smiling. I don’t get her. She’s like someone who only knows how to smile and how to make an inquisitive look. But it doesn’t look like she is making fake expressions, even though she has shown very few expressions, they look natural.
I have the ability of clairaudience. It allows me to hear things I can’t normally hear. If I focus, I can listen to her heartbeat while she talks and tell when she’s lying. But I need to be ready for any attack that might come my way. So I can’t divert my attention to some other ability. I don’t know why, but I just can’t trust her. I have to be ready for teleportation at any point.
Kais: “So then, what did these people do after you met them and all this talk we just had was over?”
Girl: “Let’s see …”
Again, she puts her finger on her lips and looks up.
Girl: “They ask me to take them to the tomb.”
If she really lives here, then it would be really convenient if she could take me to the tomb. That’s the line of thinking that most people would follow and so it makes sense they ask her to take them to the tomb. But it’s kind of hard to believe no one would try any different approach.
Kais: “Did everyone asked you to take them to the tomb?”
Girl: “Yep! No exceptions.”
Kais: “The heck!”
That’s suspicious. I myself definitely thought that as well and I do think it’s the best course to take, but that’s not the only option. Someone should have taken a different route.
Kais: “So do you know, about how many people have come here before me?”
Girl: “Hmm … I didn’t count.”
Girl: “But there have been a lot of them, at least fifty.”
That’s too large a number for there to be no exceptions. If I take into account that they all should have been psychics, it’s just next to impossible.
Kais: “Didn’t you ever feel curious how they got here or where they’re from?”
Girl: “I did. But when I ask about it, everyone says the same thing – that they are unable to tell me.”
Kais: “Unable to tell, huh.”
Now that’s a clue. If they are unable to say it, then what could that mean? Does that …
Girl: “Something wrong?”
A realization suddenly hit me. I was brought here by the people Ro, Mohammed and whoever that woman was, worked for. In other words, I was brought here by Vermillion, but I never agreed to join them.
When they kidnapped me, they left me here. I was brought here against my will. But what if others like me who actually agreed to join them were also brought here. But unlike me, they came here willingly and so Vermillion could have given them some instructions. It would make sense that they would then follow those instructions and not pointlessly take risks.
In short, people who agree to join them are brought to this island, told to get to the tomb and to do something there. They may also have been told about this girl. Now that I think about it, if you tell someone there’s someone like a guide here and then they find her and think that this little girl is the guide, people would surely drop their guard. I think it is a little loose logic, but for now, I don’t see any major holes in it.
Girl: “Hey, hey, what’s wrong?”
Kais: “Nothing, why?”
Girl: “Then why did you just go silent all of a sudden?”
It’s the tilting-head-curious-expression right now. Ignoring that though, I need to know how these predecessors of mine proceed from here.
Kais: “Anyway, when they ask you to take them to the tomb, what’s your answer to them?
The answer to this question will determine whether the guide part of the theory is right or not.
Girl: “I tell them they shouldn’t travel through the forest in the night and that I will take them at morning.”
I see. So maybe she is a guide after all.
Kais: “And does everybody listen to you?”
Girl: “No. Not everybody does. Some do, some don’t.”
Kais: “What happens to the ones who don’t?”
Girl: “I don’t know, but I never see them again.”
Kais: “Uh …”
Girl: “And when I walk through the forest after that in the morning, I see blood on a lot of places many times.”
Damn! That’s one way to scare people. No, looking at her expression right now I feel like she might actually not know why she doesn’t see anyone again.
Kais: “So, if I happen to wander off into the forest in night too, you might see blood in the forest in the morning.”
Girl: “Yeah, and also I sometimes hear Hans chomping on something.”
Kais: “Who’s Hans?”
Girl: “Hans is Hans. He is as big as you and has golden fur like Jack and Jill. He has a snout and really sharp teeth and is really powerful.”
Sounds like a bear; yeah, I’m not even gonna think about going in at night. There’s no reason to take risks right now.
Kais: “So then, what about those who actually stay till morning? Do you take them to the tomb like you promise them?”
Girl: “I do.”
Kais: “Do they reach the tomb safely?”
She nods along with answering. Well, it’s going to be night in a while. From what she has told me, I would become food if I go in at night. So should I ask her to take me to the tomb in the morning as well? Before that though …
Kais: “I think I should have asked this sooner, but are you the guardian of the tomb?”
She tilts her head in curiosity as if to say that was the stupidest question ever.
Girl: “Of course I’m not. The dragon is the guardian.”
I see. So the dragon really has been alive for that long. Well, it could be some different dragon but I really doubt it.
Kais: “Then can you tell me more about this dragon?”
Girl: “I’ve never seen him.”
Kais: “Wait! What!”
Girl: “I never go inside the tomb and he never comes out. But the dragon definitely is in there. I see his silhouette on the roof of the tomb sometimes.”
Kais: “I … see.”
Well, that’s that I guess. There has been a lot of talking between us. Well, it was actually just me asking and her answering.
Kais: “So, will you take me to the tomb tomorrow morning?”
Girl: “Yeah, sure.”
Kais: “Okay then, I’ll rest on the beach for now.”
Girl: “So all your questions are over?”
Kais: “For now.”
She nods and smiles.
Girl: “Then I’ll go back.”
She quickly runs past me into the forest. Jack and Jill look at her as she disappears into the forest and then turn their heads around to look at me. They are no longer on edge but still look like they won’t let me take a single step forward.
Kais: “Don’t be that cautious now.”
Doesn’t look like that changes anything, not like I expected it to anyway. Well, I’ll go back to the beach for now. Thanks to all the questions I asked, I have a general idea of what’s going on here. Until a few moments ago, it was just a theory that I tried to put my faith in, but now I know for sure that this place really is the island in the stories.
That dragon was given the power to take a human form. But even in that form, he would never show his face to anyone. At the end of the story, when the god dies due to reasons unknown, he would take the initiative to guard his grave. He would never allow anyone to come near it unless he deems them worthy of it. But since he doesn’t like showing his face, he materialized a huge mass of energy and made it look like a human. Then he scripted human intelligence with the function of judging others in it. Even to that mass of energy who thinks they’re a human, he would never show his face after he had made them. And obviously, that ‘mass of energy’ never got a name because even if the dragon gave them one, he would never actually meet them and so they would never really know it.
If I’m going to meet that dragon in the tomb, then I also understand why psychics will be send here. After all, Ozyllus, a psychic so powerful people started calling him a god, is the one resting in the tomb. Obviously, having befriended that psychic, the dragon’s feelings toward psychics would at least not be of hate. And so there’s a chance the dragon may consider one of those psychics sent here to be worthy.
Kais: “Damn you all! You people think everything will go your way, don’t you? I bet you’re thinking I’ll have no choice but to join you all after this. Well, too bad. Bringing me here was your biggest mistake.”
As I prepare myself to go to ‘The Cage’, I almost burst out laughing.
I can’t take anymore of this. If I keep thinking about what’s about to happen, I’ll lose my sanity. Whatever happens; happens tomorrow.
I think that to calm myself while my face contorts into a smile – no, a grin.
Ro: “We have managed to safely take him to the island and leave him there.”
Ro says to the person he had called. The man he’s talking to is Garfield Jacob. He is leader of the small division of Vermillion Ro works for.
Garfield: “I see. Then everything on his end should be fine now.”
Ro: “Yes, sir.”
Garfield: “I assume you’re still with Mohammed. What about her?”
Ro: “Actually, Mohammed had to carry out different orders from the northern branch, so he has already left. And as for her, she left Kais to us after knocking him unconscious and disappeared. She has refused to pick up any phone calls since then.”
Garfield: “I see. Well, like Mohammed, you too can’t rest. Your next orders are already here.”
Ro: “And they are?”
Garfield: “Look for the man I’m sending you a picture of.”
Ro: “Should I report back when I find him?”
Garfield: “No. Eliminate him as soon as you find him. You can call for as much back-up as you want for this.”
Ro: “So this man is that dangerous of a psychic?”
Garfield: “No, he’s just a human.”
Ro: “Just … a human!?”
Garfield: “Yes. Even though he is just a human, he dares to meddle in our affairs. And he has proven himself quite a hassle too. Just don’t take any chances and finish him for good.”
Ro’s surprise at what he is hearing is justified. No human can ever win against a psychic. It is a saying Ro has complete faith in. In fact, for him, it is a fact. So hearing how some human is trying to interfere with their business, he’s shocked at the man’s foolishness.
Ro: “I understand, sir.”
Garfield: “Well then, I’ll send you the picture and other minor details.”
The phone call ends there and shortly after, Ro’s phone rings. He checks the picture. It’s a man with brown hair, average built and a normal face. His age is 20. His name is …
Ro: “Ethan Kales”
He puts his phone away as he walks through the side-walk at night. There aren’t many people on the road at this time. Ro finds this peace to be perfect to think of a strategy. Even if his target is just a human, he would never go unprepared. This probably is why this case was given to him, because there’s no way he will end up underestimating his opponent, no matter who they are.
Ro: “Well, let’s see what this man’s made of.”
In some distance to Ro, there is a black Safari. It is a pretty old model and looks like something a person living in this developing neighborhood might have. This is why people don’t give any mind to it. If someone not living here were to be inside it, no one would notice it. And so the 20-year-old, brown-haired man sitting inside will not be noticed by the man walking on the side-walk.
Ethan: “Well, looks like I’m getting really popular with these people.”
Seeing Ro thinking of how to kill him unaware of how close to his target he was, he smiles.
Ethan: “Let’s see then, how capable of a person is out to kill me?”