Chapter 20: The Demon Within

Dragon: “That is Barry’s blood.”

Ha! Ha! HA! HA! HA! I don’t even know if I’m laughing out loud or not but I just can’t stop.

What a pathetic lie that was. He never even fooled me for a second. And now he has lead me straight to the point where it is proven it wasn’t his blood.

Dragon: “This might mean that Ethan Kales is here.”

Might mean, huh? What a joke! He understood Ethan really is here and tried to act like he didn’t understand anything. What a sickening display of treachery! Should I kill him? I should, right? He has only been trying to deceive me after all. Liars like him – there’s no need for them in this world, is there? No, I don’t need them. So obviously, the world can’t need them either.

Barry: “You okay?”

A voice comes from somewhere. Whose voice is that? I think I have heard it somewhere before. But … who … oh yeah, I remember. This is that guy who I placed so much trust in, isn’t it? And then the bastard broke that trust. I thought he was a good person who wouldn’t harm anyone. But the bastard went and killed hundreds of people. So I killed him. Yeah, it’s that guy. But why is he here? I did kill him, right? How is he here?

Barry: “Hey, you dunce. Are you day-dreaming or something?”

That bastard’s calling me a dunce? I remember he used to call me that when I was a kid. That bastard! He thought he was so special, didn’t he? He thought nobody in the world could defeat him. I bet he never saw me coming. But because of all that, he should be dead. So, what’s going on here?

Kais: “Why are you still alive, you traitor?”

There’s no point dawdling on that question. Since the bastard is here, might as well just ask him straight.

Barry: “T-that voice? I see, so that’s what’s going on.”

Dragon: “Mind explaining?”

This is that dragon’s voice, right? Yeah, I think this is his voice. Yeah, it definitely is. So that bastard doesn’t know what’s going on either?

Barry: “Well, to put it bluntly, Kais is not here at the moment. The psycho who murdered me is.”

The psycho’s calling me a psycho? How ironic! But what does he mean by that? I’m Kais and I’m here. Why’s he saying I’m not here?

Ethan: “Hey, mind telling us your name?”

Now whose voice is that? I think – yes, it’s another familiar voice. Oh yeah, this is that man who can never betray my trust. Because I never put any, not a single grain of trust, in him. Why is he asking me my name?. He should already know that.

Kais: “I’m Kais.”

Ethan: “Oh, really?”

He says in a very doubtful tone. Why? I’m Kais. Why are those two acting like that?

Barry: “Actually, it’s not like he’s lying.”

Huh? It’s good to hear that but isn’t this bastard contradicting himself. Ah, damn it! Is this bastard trying to confuse me? I see. He’s trying to create a chance to attack by confusing me with his words. That sly bastard! No wonder he was so respected. He was always so good with using words and weaknesses of others after all. He’s exactly the kind of person the society loves to have, isn’t he?

Ro: “Will you elaborate?”

This voice – now who is it? I am getting agitated by there being so many voices around me. Oh wait, I have heard this one before too. Isn’t he … isn’t he the one who kidnapped me? Yes, yes, he is. This is that guy who came from Vermillion and kidnapped me and left me on this island. I could have been living a peaceful life if not for him and other Embers like him.

So – I gotta kill this guy. I gotta make an example of this guy.

Barry: “To make it simple, there’s a demonic personality living inside him.”

I don’t even care what that bastard is saying anymore. I gotta kill that Ro guy.

Barry: “But he doesn’t actively come out nor does he converse in any way with the Kais we know. So both personalities keep thinking of themselves as Kais despite being different.”

Kais: “Hey Barry!”

I am not looking at them but I can sense everyone present here looking at me. So then –

Kais: “Just shut up! Or I’ll kill you first.”

No one gives any comebacks. Everyone is silent. They are all afraid of me. Now I can do what I want without disturbance. Only if that were the case –

Ethan: “First? So there’s someone other than Barry you are planning on killing now?”

Does this guy have any idea who he is talking to? How the hell is he so casually talking to me like that? I know he has ‘Eyes of Truth’ or whatever. So he should know how powerful I am by just looking at me. Then why the hell is he talking like he doesn’t fear anything.

Ethan: “Let me guess then. It’s the dragon.”

Don’t be so cocky, you moron. You think you’ll know whatever I am thinking as if you’re a psychic.

Dragon: “Huh? Why?”

Ethan: “No, that’s the wrong answer.”

Dragon: “What!”

Huh? So was he just messing with the dragon … or maybe he was messing with me? This guy is a sadist after all. Whatever! I’ll deal with him later.

Ethan: “Then is it me?”

Is he just taking random guesses or something?

Ethan: “So, it’s not me either. Then I guess Sneha.”

Who the heck is Sneha? I think I have heard that name before. Uh, I’ll ignore that. I can try to remember who she is later. I need to go and kill that Vermillion’s dog.

Ethan: “I see. Not her either. Well, then it can only be Ro, right?”

I don’t understand. How was he able to know that his guesses were wrong? I am pretty sure I didn’t give him any clues. My expressions shouldn’t have changed all that much. Don’t tell me – his eyes of truth can …

Ethan: “… can see your bloodlust.”

Tch! So that’s it.

Ethan: “And to elaborate, your bloodlust stayed still when I named us three but it increased when I said Ro. That’s how I knew.”

Kais: “So what? If you thought you’ll get a prize or something, Tough luck there.”

Ethan: “Nah, why would I want some petty prize without even doing anything?”

Huh? I hear the voice of footsteps from his direction. From how it sounds, it looks like he is walking towards me.

Ethan: “I would much rather take my prize after doing what I have to do.”

Now what does he mean exactly? This guy always manages to steal my attention whenever he talks. Ignoring him isn’t a good idea. Maybe I should kill him too. Yeah! Why not? Let’s do it.

Barry: “You are going to die if you are reckless, though I guess that would benefit me.”

Ethan: “You don’t need to worry about me.”

He probably said that to that bastard. His steps haven’t stopped. He is coming closer to me with every step. Is he that eager to die? Okay, I will do him justice then.

Ethan:  “Hey, I don’t know what you are thinking right now but, didn’t the question ‘how is Barry here’ cross your mind?”

Huh? What? I stop readying my attack as I hear that.

Kais: “Yeah, it did. Do you know the answer to that?”

Without even noticing when I did it, I started to look Ethan, who is only a meter away from me, in the eyes.

Ethan: “I do.”

I see. He does. Huh? Yeah, I guess. He has the Eyes of Truth, right? Of course, he would be able to know a lot of things by just looking.

Kais: “Then, tell me.”

A smile surfaces on his lips.

Ethan: “On one condition?”

Kais: “Tch! You think you are in any …”

Ethan: “Position to ask for a favor, huh? Man, it looks like even this personality is fond of cliché lines.”

What the hell! Does he wanna die?

Ethan: “So here’s the deal? You protect me from all these other guys who probably want to torture some information out of me right now.”

He says while pointing at the four people behind him. They all have a look of shock on their face.

Ethan: “It’s easy for you, right? Or are you telling me you can’t even do something so simple?”

Tch!

Kais: “Fine, fine!”

He gets surprised for some reason.

Ethan: “Oh, it worked.”

Then he starts smiling.

Ethan: “I guess that’s why people use clichés so much, they work some times. Still though …”

Kais: “Enough with your nonsense. Answer me already!”

Ethan: “Oh yeah, it’s because he is a ghost now.”

A ghost he says? I see. So he did die after all.

Ethan: “Not only that, but he has retained his psychic powers too. He is much stronger than before.”

Kais: “Oh, that’s it? He’s still weaker than me.”

I get a feeling that chills ran down someone’s spine right now. Good to know they can see how much difference in power there is between us.

Ethan: “Also, he is working for the Vampires.”

Huh? Working for Vampires? From where in the world did they enter the equation?

Ethan: “Isn’t it ironic?”

He closes his eyes as he says so.

Ethan: “A psychic-ghost working for vampires. All three factions in one, right?”

He says while chuckling.

Kais: “Anyway, now that I know that. I want to get back to what I was doing. Get out of my way.”

He does get out of my way immediately but then says,

Ethan: “Killing Ro, was it? He’s a ghost too.”

Kais: “Huh?”

Ethan: “I killed him already. And then he became a ghost.”

Oh, that’s how it is. Well, just because he already died …

Kais: “… Doesn’t mean he can’t feel pain, right?”

No response comes. Why? Cat got your tongue now?

I walk towards him triumphantly when Ethan says,

Ethan: “And you were calling me a sadist.”

Kais: “Huh? What’s that supposed to mean? You are a sadist. What’s wrong with calling you one?”

A laughing sound comes from him. Why is he laughing though? I don’t think there is any reason to laugh here? Then again, it’s not like I ever understood his reasons for doing anything anyway. I doubt he even has any.

Ethan: “‘He probably does this for kicks or something, right?’”

Tch! Again, this guy loves to act like a mind-reader, doesn’t he? The thing is – he’s good at it too.

Ethan: “‘It’s almost as if he’s a psychic but is hiding it from me?’”

Kais: “You are gonna die by my hands someday.”

His grin changes into a wry smile as,

Ethan: “I would like to avoid that. And no, I really don’t have any psychic powers. Don’t worry about that.”

Kais: “Why would I take your word for it?”

Ethan: “Oh, you won’t. Well then,”

He turns towards the bushes for some reason and then continues,

Ethan: “Why don’t you ask her about all this then?”

Who’s he talking about? Ms. Spirit-User? Come to think of it, there is someone like that on the island, isn’t there?

Dragon: “Ah! I see. So she is here as well.”

Moving sounds come from the bushes and a woman with blond-hair and fair skin comes out.

Sona: “Yeah, I’m here too. Did you think I wouldn’t come?”

Dragon: “Of course not.”

As the two of them exchange words, I start remembering her as well. Yeah, she came to kill the dragon. She said she knows a way to get out of this island, right? I can kill the dragon for her and then she should at least take me out of here to return my favor. Uh … but I think she said only spirit-users can use it. Damn! She’s useless. No point thinking about her.

Ethan: “Well now, if you can answer my question, that would be a big help.”

Sona: “And exactly what is it that you are asking me?”

Ethan’s question was pretty vague and even I don’t understand what it meant. So I suppose it’s only natural for a low-level spirit-user like her to not understand it either.

Ethan: “What do you think about – Kais killing Ro?”

Sona folds her arms as if she is not at all interested in the situation.

Sona: “And why would I worry about any of that?”

Ethan: “Come now, think about it. If Ro’s conscience is snatched away, he could become a very powerful spirit, right?”

Ro: “The hell!?”

I can sense him getting goosebumps on hearing that. Others aren’t much different though.

In the stories that bastard had told me, there was a method to take human conscience away from a ghost and to turn them into a spirit. It is an inhumane concept the brutality of which is equivalent to slavery – at its extreme.

Sona: “T-that’s insane!”

Ethan: “Sure, sure. I know how horrible it sounds but didn’t you decide you’ll sacrifice anything to defeat the dragon.”

Sona falls into silence. All gazes are fixed on her. I don’t know what Ro’s expression is right now, being talked about like he doesn’t even exist here. I also don’t know what the dragon’s expression is right now. Well, I can guess neither of them is happy.

Sona: “It-it’s just not possible. H-his ability …”

The smile on Ethan’s face widens into a smirk.

Ethan: “Oh? His ability won’t let him die. So if there wasn’t a case like that, you would have done something so inhumane to that ghost?”

Sona: “Ah! Well, I-I …”

I sighed at the sight unfolding before my eyes. I am pretty sure she was only using that as an excuse to say no because she didn’t wanted to say that she would deny an opportunity to kill the dragon, and I bet Ethan knows that as well.

Ethan: “Ha! Whatever! You have a misunderstanding, so let me clear it for you. This dragon’s ability is not omnipotent.”

Dragon: “Oh? Are you saying there is a way to kill me?”

Ethan: “Sure there is, and within four days as well.”

Four days? Is there some reason he said it like that? I look at the dragon and Sona’s faces. While the dragon has clear feelings of anxiety within himself, Sona is shocked.

Sona: “You … even know about that? Oh, that’s right.”

She added the last few words as if remembering something.

Ethan: “Of course I do. Didn’t that girl tell you what I told her?”

I guess he is talking about that mass of energy the dragon created. According to what she said, Ethan told her that the island will be destroyed in a few days after she sees the dragon outside the tomb, or something like that.

Ethan: “The reason for this island to get destroyed is precisely that. The dragon is dying in four days and when he does die, he will take the island with him.”

Dragon: “What the hell are …?”

Kais: “All to protect Ozyllus’ secrets, right?”

A smile emerges on Ethan’s face indicating I am right.

Barry: “Hold on a second! This conversation has been going in random directions for while now. And I don’t feel safe leaving the reins to someone like you.”

He says while looking at Ethan.

Barry: “So let me bring us back to the topic.”

All eyes turn towards him. But why the hell did you feel this urge to ‘bring us back to topic’ now?

Barry: “The reason I came here is – well, there’s a war going on between The Dragon Alliance and The Vampires.”

What’s the dragon alliance?

Barry: “For those of you who don’t know, The Dragon Alliance is an alliance formed between Vermillion, an organized group of psychics; the dragons, the few brethren of this thing standing here (pointing at the tan-skinned human-like-looking dragon); and The Ghost Nation, which hosts almost all the ghosts on the planet. And they are fighting against all the vampires in the world.”

Well, that’s how it is I guess. I only knew Vermillion was waging some kind of war. I didn’t know who they were fighting and that they were in alliance with others.

Barry: “Well, that’s the outline basically. I and Ro are ghosts who fight from the side of Vampires, Sneha used to work for Vermillion so I guess she was our enemy but now she has turned traitor so I have no idea where she stands right now.”

He and everyone else turn towards Sneha simultaneously.

Sneha: “I can’t say.”

Barry sighs.

Barry: “Well, so it seems. Anyway, I’m pretty sure Ethan is on no side right now.”

Ethan: “Yeah, I’m neutral.”

He says with a smile as if to mock Barry.

Ro: “Neutral? That’s what we call someone who stays completely out of it. You are trying to sabotage anyone you can. How’s that neutral?”

With that, Ethan has started to look like a complete idiot who is only marching towards his own death with every single step.

Barry: “Moving on. I am pretty sure the dragon wants to stay neutral but can’t. Especially after hearing that he will die in four days, he probably will go down after doing some damage to at least one side, whether he does it directly or indirectly.”

Dragon: “I won’t act like I know everything. Maybe my actions will end up doing something like that. Regardless, my duties are limited to this island.”

Barry sighs again.

Barry: “Fair enough. Ms. … Sona, was it? If you are a spirit-user, you’ll probably end up joining the ghosts in the case you refuse to join us. In which case, we will kill you.”

He says with a straight face. He isn’t joking about this. He really will kill her. The intent is clear in his aura.

Barry: “Lastly.”

And then the bastard turns towards me.

Barry: “You are the biggest anomaly here. Whichever side you join; that side will gain a heavy advantage over the other.”

They all look at me curiously.

Kais: “Huh! I’m not …”

Barry: “And let me make it clear for you, there’s no way you can stay neutral. If it isn’t persuasion, then it will be deception; if not deception, then it will blackmail; if not blackmail, then some political agenda, but one of the sides will get you on their side.”

Kais: “Is that so? Well then, how about I destroy both the sides.”

All of them look at me with wide-eyed shocked expressions, all except one – Ethan Kales. He started laughing as I said that.

Ethan: “Hahahahaha! That’s right. That’s what I am talking about. Why would you possibly bend to their whims when you have enough power to defy them?”

I don’t know what he is thinking and frankly, I don’t have the free-time to start figuring out how his brain works, so I would ignore his comments for now.

Barry: “Well, you right now can probably do that. But …”

He stops mid-sentence for some reason. Go on, you bastard.

Barry: “… but will Kais really agree to that?”

Huh? Again with that nonsense? I already said I am Kais.

Barry: “Well, I guess we’ll just have to ask him.”

What? I’m right here. Who else is this bastard going to ask?

As I wonder that, he puts his right hand in front of me and then snaps his fingers. Wait, what? That was too fast. I didn’t even have time to react. I find myself falling on the ground and my vision getting blurry. I see. This is why that bastard used all that time talking. He was trying to distract us from noticing his hands. It was all to buy enough time for him to prepare himself to hypnotize me into going to sleep. But why did he do so? Damn! What’s wrong with him?

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A demon wanting to kill Ro who is already dead and has become a ghost, Ethan saying there is a way to kill the dragon, Sneha saying she can’t say where she stands in this war, Barry saying I am some kind of anomaly in the war – was that all a dream? I think this to myself as I float in The Cage.

I wonder when I will wake up. When will it be? Huh? Wait, isn’t that strange?

I wish I could stay in this abyss forever – is what I used to think. Just when did that all change? And why did it all change? Why do I not want to stay in the abyss? Why do I have to think about waking up?

“It’s because there is something you want to do, right?”

Something I want to do? Is there?

Without even thinking about the disturbing fact that I can hear someone’s voice in my head, I start trying to answer his questions.

I don’t know what I would want to do so badly that I would give up this peace I can find nowhere else.

“It’s a strong desire you see. It’s what drives that blonde woman and it’s what will be driving you know.”

Blonde woman – oh, you mean Sona? What drives her? What? Oh, I-I see. That’s what this desire is.

“Yes, you want to kill someone, don’t you?”

I don’t know why but I think I am smiling right now. But of course, it feels so good after all. This desire to kill – is really something, isn’t it? But who do I want to kill?

“There are so many people for you to kill.”

Yeah, you’re right. Ethan is pretty annoying with how he acts. I wouldn’t want him getting in my way too much. Maybe he is the one I should kill.

Or maybe the dragon – he did try to deceive me about the blood belonging to Barry.

Obviously, I wanna kill Barry, even though he is already dead. I also want to kill Ro, even though he is also dead.

I don’t know why but I also want to kill Sneha as well. I just feel like she has done something to deserve it.

And I also want to kill Sona – she gets on my nerves some times.

“You see, there’re so many people to kill. Don’t you feel the urge to kill them?”

I do. I so much do.

“Then let me out. I can kill them.”

Yeah, you probably can.

“Well?”

But the answer is no. You were in control just a little while ago. Why did you waste your chance? Now wait for the next chance.

The voice sighs.

“Ah! Fine! That’s how it will be. I will wait for you to give me the next chance. Till then, I will rest myself.”

Sure.

I feel something as big as a building descending behind me. I can’t turn to look so I won’t know what that was. But I get a feeling there was a really large head with monstrous scales and two horns behind me, like the devil had been taking to me.

For some reason, I didn’t feel even a bit of fear or shock though.

What was that? Who was that? Oh well, it’s not like I can figure out the answer to every mystery in front of me just by thinking about it. I should probably focus on the mysteries I will be faced with after waking up. Yes, after all, the next time I allow him to take charge – he’ll kill all of them. But the thing is – as soon as I wake up, I’ll forget about this deal. I’ll forget about this demon. And I’ll also forget the feeling that this devil wasn’t the one in control just now, that it was a just my own demon.

And just as I think that, I feel strong light shining on me even though it isn’t. I feel like I’m being pulled towards that light. Well, I guess my time in The Cage is already up.

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