Chapter 23: A Precious Past

In a city that had never seen a disaster, there was still uneasiness in its peace. The cause for this uneasiness was –

Barry: “We ready to go?”

The 20-year-old psychic asked his 8-year-old brother.

Kais: “Yeah.”

He nodded with a smile. The two were not at their home but at the home of their parents. Their parents were afraid of their powers and so had decided to not live in the same house as them. Kais, however, was not aware of that.

Mother: “Okay dear, I see you two are ready to go. Please be careful on your way back.”

Both brothers nodded to their mother’s words. These words were nothing more than a forgery put up by her to look like a genuinely caring mother to Kais.

Father: “Yeah, if you want, I can drop you at the station.”

Another sentence came full of falsehood. But Kais, not knowing the truth, started to smile wanting to ask him to do so. And so,

Barry: “No need. We’ll manage on our own.”

Barry denied him immediately.

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

After they left and were in a taxi that was driving towards the train station, Barry looked at Kais and said,

Barry: “I know you wanted them to come drop us, but just think about it. It would be really troublesome for them to leave their work just for us, wouldn’t it?”

Kais: “Oh yeah, then why did they offer in the place?”

Kais asked while pouting as Barry sighed.

Barry: “Because they are our parents. Of course they would try to look out for us even if it meant …”

He stopped mid-way, irritated. But then continued,

Barry: “Hurting their schedule.”

Kais looked down not sure how to retort to that. On the other hand, Barry tried to stop the frustration from showing on his face. He was utterly disgusted by his parents and himself trying to lie to Kais as if those two really cared about him at all. If they did, they wouldn’t run away leaving their kids like that.

When they first left the house, Barry was in high-school first year. From that day, they used to send money to two boys monthly for them to take care of the finances. And so, there was no shortage of money for their daily needs. And for Barry who had come to the age where he would want some freedom and privacy, it wasn’t a bad thing. But Kais was just a small child. And they left him in his care just because they were afraid of them. Barry would never forgive them for that.

Kais: “You okay, big brother?”

He realized that the anger on his face is causing Kais worry. He calmed himself down and patted Kais’ head.

Barry: “Yeah, I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.”

Just at that moment, the taxi took a sudden break.

Barry: “Wh-What happened, driver?”

Driver: “T-there’s some kind of animal outside. It c-came out of nowhere and suddenly blocked the road.”

Barry peaked outside the car screen and saw a black, riveting jackal blocking the path.

Kais: “I-is that a wild animal?”

For a moment, there was silence.

Barry didn’t say anything as he looked at the jackal.

The driver didn’t say anything as he looked at the jackal.

Kais didn’t say anything as he looked at the jackal.

The jackal didn’t make any noise as he looked at them. And then,

Barry: “Sorry about this.”

He said as he put his hand to the driver’s head and hypnotized him to sleep.

Kais: “W-what’s going on?”

Barry: “Kais, stay in the car. That thing is a supernatural creature, most likely a spirit.”

Barry stepped out of the car seeing Kais nod.

Kais: “Um … be careful, okay?”

Barry: “Yeah.”

He said while facing the jackal as he walked towards it. The jackal just stared at Barry with an aggressive expression.

Barry: “You don’t look like a very powerful spirit. But I will give it you, you seem cunning.”

As he said that, he raised his hand till it was pointing at the spirit. Then, he raised his hands more, but this time the spirit also started levitating in the air.

Kais: “Is he using Psychokinesis? That looks like it, but …”

Barry: “I see. So it is as I thought, you have no will to fight.”

Kais: “Huh?”

Barry brought the jackal-like spirit down to the ground and leaned against the car. They were in a deserted area. But in the daytime, some people would pass by there. So, a little crowd has started to gather near them. Barry put a hand up to his forehead and said,

Barry: “Sleep.”

With that, he hypnotized everyone in the radius of 100m into sleep. Suddenly, he heard some ruffling noise in the bushes beside the road.

Barry: “Who’s there?”

He asked as he saw a person’s silhouette sneak through in the bushes. They must have been hiding there silently but Barry’s hypnotization caused them to break the silence. Still, someone skilled enough to hide themselves from Barry can be pretty troublesome. This was Barry’s thought process as he walked towards the bushes and spotted a girl.

Barry: “Ah, wait!”

She had blonde-hair and from the looks of it, she was of Kais’ age. But she wasn’t a psychic. He could tell this from the fact that psychic energy in nowhere to be found in her aura.

Barry: “I get it.”

The girl looked up at Barry in disdain.

Barry: “You are a spirit-user, aren’t you?”

She clicked her tongue as she barely kept herself from falling asleep. The fact that she was able to fend off Barry’s hypnotization for so long even though she was just a child was a testament to how greatly talented she was. In fact, Barry surmised that she might have the potential to be at the level among spirit-users as Barry is among the psychics.

Barry: “Well, might as well stop that.”

He dismissed the hypnotization on her. Realizing that she was no longer feeling drowsy, she moved back swiftly to get away from Barry.

Barry: “Not so fast.”

He said as he stopped her in her tracks by controlling her legs with Psychokinesis.

Barry: “Well then, this might be rude but …”

Barry, on the judgment that she wouldn’t tell him her name if he asks; he pried into her mind to find it.

Barry: “I see. Well, Ms. Sona, might I ask you what you are doing here?”

Sona: “H-How do you know my name?”

Barry: “My question came first.”

Sona: “Tch!”

She tried to break free from his Psychokinesis – to no avail. Kais stepped out of the car and walked towards where they were.

Barry: “Didn’t I tell you not to come out of the car?”

He said in a rather mild tone as he didn’t sense any real threat around them.

Kais: “Yeah, but that girl-”

Barry: “You know her?”

Kais turned towards Sona as he answered.

Kais: “I have seen this girl before. She … goes to the same school I do and … she is also the daughter of the principal of our school. So …”

Barry: “I-I get it.”

Barry immediately released her from his control. As she fell to the ground, she looked at Kais with hostile intent.

Sona: “Tch! So it’s my family name that saved me here too.”

She muttered under her breath. Unfortunately for her, the two psychics were capable of hearing that. Fortunately for her, they acted like they didn’t.

Barry: “So you mind telling us what’s going?”

Barry asked. Sona looked at him while calming down and said,

Sona: “Nothing much. My spirit just started to not follow my commands is all.”

Barry looked back at the jackal-like spirit and the girl and then sighed,

Barry: “Well now, we can’t have a spirit-user like that running around, can we?”

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

Twelve and a half years later, on an island detached from the rest of the world, the spirit-user comes back to consciousness.

As soon as she wakes up, she sees Ethan Kales and Sneha Stone look at her while Barry, Ro and the dragon lay unconscious.

Sona: “W-what’s going on?”

Sneha: “Illusion and hypnotization was used to put us to sleep so he could get away. Or so this man says.”

As soon as Sona hears that, she remembers the darkness that had engulfed them whole. So, it was just an illusion and a little bit of hypnotization, huh? She thinks so feeling relieved.

Ethan: “While it’s good to see you are relieved and all, could you answer some of my questions?”

Sona: “Huh?”

Ethan: “I didn’t really think a spirit-user would be here. My plans are kinda disturbed because of that.”

It’s true. He never accounted for a spirit-user to be on the island. In fact, she is the only one he doesn’t know anything about except the clear bloodlust she feels towards the dragon.

Sona: “Hmm … so you are telling me everything else is happening according to your plan?”

Ethan: “More or less.”

Sneha looked at Ethan with a look of ‘are you sure telling her that is a good idea?’ Ethan looked back at her with a smile indicating ‘it’s fine.’

Sona: “Well, so Kais coming here is obviously also part of your plan, isn’t it?”

Ethan: “Um … yeah, I guess.”

Sona: “Well now, that means my own plans got disturbed because of your plans. I would say that evens us out.”

Ethan smiles after hearing the answer.

Sona: “What? Did I say something funny?”

Ethan: “You didn’t. I just realized that I underestimated you. I thought since your goal, from what it seems to me, is to kill the dragon; you will try to bring us to your side to help you with that.”

Sona: “And so things didn’t go as you thought they would. Why’s that a reason for you to smile?”

Ethan: “Don’t you see? I took you for a boring person but you are not. I am just thrilled anticipating what twists you, an unseen factor for me, will bring to the table.”

She gets irritated by him as she says,

Sona: “What is all that supposed to mean? Is this all a game to you?”

Ethan: “Yes, precisely.”

He doesn’t waste a second in giving that answer. For Sona, who had devoted all her life to finding a way to kill the dragon and escaping, this sounded like a mockery at her.

Sona: “You …”

But just as she tries to reprimand him, Ethan’s next words come in,

Ethan: “You are monstrously powerful people who can wipe someone like me out within seconds. A hundred of me wouldn’t stand a chance against one of you.”

Sona stays silent as she sees a despaired smile on his face.

Ethan: “So how the hell else can I be sane unless I treat it like a game?”

Sona has nothing to say to that. She understands very well that people suffer in life in different ways because of different circumstances and unless two people share a similarity in their circumstances, they can’t understand each other’s pain. She now realized that Ethan wasn’t mocking her by treating this ordeal as a game, so she would not say anything to mock him either. And so,

Sneha: “Anyway, would you two mind getting to the topic?”

They turn towards Sneha who stood a little distance away from both of them, leaning on a tree.

Ethan: “And what, exactly, was the topic?”

Ethan asks with a smile. Sneha sighs.

Sneha: “How are we proceeding from this situation?”

Ethan: “Oh yeah, so Ms. Sona, was it? Us two are working together but we have different goals. And we are willing to join up with you as well. So, before we talk about our goals, I just wanted to ask, are you willing to work together if everything favors you?”

Sona has realized by this point that Ethan Kales is the same person that little girl was talking about. She had also once considered working with him to defeat the dragon. The problem, however is –

Sona: “I can’t really say.”

Her goal to kill the dragon is something that could put her in danger even by mentioning it. But without mentioning each other’s goals, they obviously wouldn’t want to form an alliance. So she is in a difficult situation.

Ethan: “Well, I guess we should move on if that’s the case.”

Sona: “Huh?”

Ethan: “So my goal here is to drag Kais into this war that’s going on right now.”

A silence follows to which,

Ethan: “No comments?”

Sneha: “I don’t even know what to say to you anymore. By just what incredible logic did you figure that outright telling her your goal was the best thing to do?”

Ethan: “Well, not much of a logical choice, was it?”

Ethan starts giggling as if to say he didn’t think about it much. But Sona realizes what he was aiming for when he said that. By saying his goal like that, he put pressure on her who is to say what her goal is next.

Sona: “Ah …”

Ethan: “Well then, do you have a goal other than killing the dragon?”

Here is where the problem begins. Her other goal that only became important after coming to the island, it’s something that interferes with his goal. But if she says she won’t tell them what it is, it won’t be that hard for him to start guessing it. If he hadn’t said his goal outright like he did, there’d be no reason for her to look suspicious when she decides to keep a little privacy. But now that has changed.

Sona: “Well?”

She turns to her last resort out of the situation as she turns towards Sneha. If Sneha decided to not say what her goal is, there’d be no point in Sona worrying over the things she was worrying about. Understanding the meaning of the gaze, Sneha sighs.

Sneha: “My goal is to go inside the tomb for … personal reasons. I think taking out the dragon would probably help in that so I am willing to join forces as well.”

Now she is in a pinch. She could just say that her only goal is to kill the dragon. But if she does say that, she would have to act like she is completely okay with everything they are doing until the dragon is killed. By that point, it might be too late for her to accomplish her other task.

Sneha: “So then, what’s your other goal?”

The both of them look at her as she tries to come up with the best possible answer she can give.

Sona: “Well, I …”

At this point, the only thing she can use is her reply to Ethan’s first question.

Sona: “Can’t join you.”

And so she does.

Ethan: “That’s something.”

He smiles. When he asked if she would join them provided nothing came in her way, her answer was ‘I can’t say’. There was no reason to not say ‘yes’ but if she had done that, denying the alliance now would mean that something in what the two of them said comes in between her and her goal. Because she didn’t say yes, it’s not that easy to start guessing what her other goal might be.

Ethan: “I guess that call’s off the negotiations. Well then, neither of us is in the mood for pointless violence and I don’t think you would want that either. So let’s just get back to our situations for now.”

Sona stands up after nodding. The three of them look at the other three lying unconscious. They look vulnerable even though all three of them are probably on par if not stronger than Sneha.

Sona: “Well, that’s that.”

Sona decided she would leave and starts walking towards the forest. Before going in, she takes a glance backwards as she spots Barry. She remembers both Barry and Kais very well but she doesn’t know if either of them remembers her. With that, she disappears in the forest. After which,

Sneha: “I thought you had nothing to gain from all of this.”

Ethan: “Yeah, dragging Kais in all this doesn’t benefit me in the slightest after all. But I still have to do it.”

He said with a fading smile.

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

A dozen years earlier, there was an innocent, easily-trusting, honest boy who could use psychic abilities. And he had a friend who could control spirits.

Kais: “So how did it go?”

Sona: “Like it always goes. I am gonna get a 100 out of 100 on this one.”

Kais: “That’s not like it always goes.”

Sona: “Eh! Scoring in range of 90s is pretty much like getting a 100, you know.”

To energetic voice of the girl, the boy replied with a bored expression,

Kais: “If you say so.”

They had the last of their final exams on that day. One was capable of peeking into everyone’s minds and finding out the answer to every question without being caught. The other was capable of using small spirits to take a look at other’s answer sheets. Both could easily score a 100 if they wanted to, but neither of them relied on this power of theirs when it came to studying. This was partly because both were good at it by themselves and partly because ‘some 20-year-old’ always tells them to not cheat using their abilities.

Sona: “So do you have any plans?”

That was the last day of that academic year for them. So from that day, they had a little vacation to enjoy.

Kais: “Not particularly. Barry said he wanted to take me to some place, but the name of the place is being kept a secret from me.”

Sona: “Oh really?”

Kais: “Well, he said it’s an island. I don’t know anything other than that.”

Sona: “Hmm, that sounds interesting. Looks like you’ll be having fun.”

Kais: “Maybe, but what about you? Didn’t you say you were going to go somewhere?”

Sona: “Oh yeah, now that I think about it, we are kinda in a similar situation.”

Kais: “Huh, how?”

Sona: “My parents want to take me to some place too. And the name of the place is also being kept a secret from me.”

Kais: “Oh, I see.”

Sona: “The only problem here is … I am not so confident any place they’d be taking me will be any fun at all.”

Kais: “Well, I’m not sure an island would be very fun for me either.”

Sona: “Oh come on, an island is a great place for a vacation.”

Kais: “I don’t really agree.”

The two continued their bickering as they kept walking towards their homes. Kais continued with his unmotivated tone and Sona continued with her cheerful one. Even though the two had only truly come to know each other about six months before that day, they looked like childhood friends.

Sona: “Well, I guess it’s bye-bye for now.”

She says as they reach an interjection from which both had to take different routes.

Kais: “Yeah, bye.”

They lived in a very well-kept half-urban city. Surprisingly enough, there were a lot of greenery and the atmosphere was clean. That said though, there was no place for either of the two children to want to spend their vacation there. Seeing that, guardians of the both of them had decided to take them on vacations.

Both of them, regardless of how they tried to make their vacation plans seem uninteresting, were eagerly awaiting that vacation. Both wondered where they would be taken. Both wondered what they would do there. Neither of them had any idea that the next day would be the worst day of their lives.

Kais had no idea that the next day, he would see his brother massacring thousands in front of his eyes and then kill Barry himself.

Sona had no idea that she would see everything she had taken from her; destroyed by the likes of that dragon and find herself unable to do anything.

Neither of them knew that would be the last day they would meet each other before coming to the island 12 years later.

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

5 Replies to “Chapter 23: A Precious Past”

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