Chapter 26: Betrayal

An hour has passed since the dragon had passed by the tomb. Night has fallen by now and he has needed to travel through the forest in the dark. But that is of no concern to him. What is of concern to him is that he needs to reach the place he is trying to reach – the only place which a spirit-user could use to get out of the island. That place is the uncanny, unstable and a deceivingly deep pond where a golden fish resides.

Dragon: “If I knew it would turn out like this, I would have sent the girl to tell the fish to not let Sona leave the island.”

But he didn’t predict this situation he is in right now, so now he is nervous of what may happen. And then she would come back with some other way to kill him and will be a nuisance.

If he had predicted that so many powerful beings would assemble on the island that the girl and him alone wouldn’t even be enough to spy on all of them, then he would have definitely made contact with the fish before. But he couldn’t predict it; how could he have when the situation involves Ethan Kales?

Dragon: “That guy!!”

Now things have gotten out of hand. The situation is no longer in his control. And he is also not very excited to see those bloodshot eyes of the spirit-user who hates him. Even though the dragon is easily superior to her in every way, those eyes can still cause him to freeze in his place. It’s almost as if an unexplained power comes from her hatred.

“GRR!!! KAW-KAW-KAW!!! FU-FU!”

As he hears numerous animal-noises, he almost finds himself to relax a little. Having lived on this island for so many years, it’s only natural that listening to other residents of the island would make him feel at ease.

Dragon: “But,”

Now’s not the time. He can’t afford to relax now. He doesn’t have enough time. Three-and-a-half days are left before he dies. He has to do what he needs to do before his time runs out.

And what is it he needs to do? For now at least, only he knows.

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They have been travelling for a while now. Ever since Sona decided to help Kais, they have kept walking towards the direction Kais said the pond is. She wonders if he is actually lying to her.  She has to consider the possibility. After all, it is true that he indeed is the boy she knew when she was an 8-year-old child but that doesn’t mean anything at the present. Can he really be trusted? Can she really let him lead the way without any care? No, of course she can’t. This is why she has summoned the rabbit-like spirit to keep an eye on him.

It is a nimble-spirit that can (probably) stop any surprise attacks that Kais may try to use. It is also capable enough to hurt Kais severely. That said though, there is a limit to what it can do. As someone who saw Kais as a child, she knows full-well the true extent of his power is far beyond any spirit she can possibly summon. She also knows that, for whatever reason, he is not able to use his abilities to that extent and also doesn’t think he is capable of doing so.

Kais: “Well, was I making a suspicious expression?”

Sona: “Hmm?”

As she heard that, she started wondering the same thing to herself. Did her expression show her thoughts on her face or something?

Kais: “I was wondering why there is so much hostility emanating from you? It’s a little uncomfortable using Aura Reading when the first thing I feel is your suspicious gaze.”

‘Aura Reading’ – she remembers what that ability does. Sure she can’t know everything about it since she doesn’t have the ability herself but she does remember both Kais and Barry’s explanations of the ability and its uses. That is why she can’t drop her guard against him. He can sense her internal feelings with the pretext of looking out for enemies but she has no way to do the same.

Sona: “I see. So you noticed my suspicion on you.”

Kais: “Yeah, I did. What? Do you think I am some kind of imposter?”

He asks while looking a little nervous. For some reason, he is acting as if he might be an imposter. But Sona knows that is not the case, then why is he acting so nervous?

Sona: “No, I know you are the real Kais. There is no deception there.”

Deception would mean that he is not the Kais she used to know as a kid. But that deception is only possible if he had been the one to convince her of that. That’s not how it went though. She is the one who recognized him as soon as she took a good look at him when she saw him walking with the girl in the forest.

Sona: “But, just because we had been friends in the past … doesn’t mean I can fully trust you now.”

Looking at Kais, she is left surprised to see him look relieved.

Kais: “I see. That’s fair.”

He is getting more and more confusing. He is acting like an imposter who is relieved that his bluff didn’t get called out. What’s wrong with him?

Kais: “By the way, hypothetically speaking, we end up needing to fight each other, who you think will win?”

Sona: “Ha!?”

Surprised by the question but she tries to keep her cool.

She knows full-well how terrifying of an opponent a psychic can be and doesn’t intend to get into any situation where she would need to fight him. Unfortunately for her, things don’t always go as she intends them to and the ‘hypothetical’ situation he is talking about can very well become reality.

So she has to prepare herself for anything that might come her way.

Sona: “I would win of course.”

And the first thing she needs to do to prepare for it is to have confidence in her abilities.

Kais: “I see. Well, that’s reassuring.”

He says as a glint of smile comes on his lips.

Sona: “What?”

Kais: “No, nothing.”

He doesn’t repeat the confusing statement he made just now, which only ends up putting her in more confusion. She is unable to understand the man in front of her and is unable to see the image of the boy she knew in him. Even though she knows they are one and the same person, it’s almost as if this Kais has developed the complete opposite personality of the one she used to know. And that is not a very pleasant development in her eyes.

Kais: “Well, we are here.”

As he says that, he fastens up a bit. Sona turns her head and sees small fragments of a clearing from the leaves that covered most of her vision.

Kais: “Oh yeah, in all of this time, I can’t believe I forgot to mention this.”

He says as he stops just before entering the clearing.

Sona: “Mention what?”

She says as she narrows her eyes.

Kais: “There is … a fish living in the pond.”

Sona: “Oh, I didn’t know fishes lived in the pond.”

She says in an incredibly sarcastic tone but,

Kais: “Uh-I meant, there is a psychic fish living in the pond.”

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It has now been one-and-a-half hours since he passed by the tomb but the dragon has still not reached the pond. He doesn’t usually walk this much through the island so this is fairly mentally taxing on him, but that doesn’t bother him at present. He does have the whole map of the island in his head so the direction in which he needs to go is not a problem, only the distance is. From his calculations, it should be another fifteen minutes before he reaches the pond.

Dragon: “Man, maybe I should try to do more physical work from now on after all this is … over.”

He speaks in a casual manner before coming to realize that there is no time for that anymore. After all, he is already at the end of his life.

Dragon: “Well, I guess I don’t need to worry about that, huh?”

At the thought of him dying in a few days, the dragon doesn’t feel sadness, he doesn’t feel regret, he doesn’t even feel fear, all he feels is an emptiness. He feels as though there is something he still has not done in his life, as if he wants something more from his life.

Dragon: “It’s strange, isn’t it Ozyllus?”

He asks a question he can’t get an answer to.

Dragon: “Yeah, that’s right.”

But he pretends to have gotten one. And that answer, which he thinks Ozyllus would have given him, is ‘It’s not strange at all. I know exactly why you feel that way.’

The answer he imagines he has been given is along the lines of how Ozyllus usually acted whenever a question like that was asked to him.

Dragon: “You sure liked to show off like that, didn’t you?”

But for some reason, no one thought badly of him for showing off like that. Maybe they just got used to it after a while and stopped caring. Or maybe they never cared from the start. Either way, any of his negative qualities – no matter what they were – got overlooked by everyone around him. Whenever he would do anything unpleasant to anyone, they would just blow if off, but when someone else did the same thing or even caused a smaller problem, they would not blow it off.

Dragon: “I never really understood why that was though.”

The dragon had once mentioned that he doesn’t understand humans. But just how could he understand humans when they are so unpredictable.

Stealing a penny in order to get food would put a human in prison. That is, if it wasn’t Ozyllus who did it.

Hurting livestock would make their owner ask for compensation. That is, if it wasn’t Ozyllus who did it.

Dragon: “Ha!”

Blowing up a city and killing thousands of innocents would make a man a monster. That is, if it wasn’t Ozyllus who did it.

Dragon: “Ha! Ha!”

Torturing people and animals to death for no other reason than experimentation would make a man a demon. That is, if it wasn’t Ozyllus who did it.

Dragon: “Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Destroying the beliefs of every religion and claiming their god as false along with claiming himself as the only true god would make the whole world run after that man in order to kill him. That is, if it wasn’t Ozyllus who did it.

Dragon: “Ha! Ha! … Ha! … Ha!”

The dragon noticed a tear fall of his eyes. He touches his eyes only to find out that they have become a little wet.

Dragon: “Why? Why … would I cry … on remembering … something like that?”

It’s not like the dragon was forced to fight the wars from his side. It’s not like the blame for those atrocities that Ozyllus created was all thrown on him. It’s not like Ozyllus turned him into a symbol of hatred to gain power for himself. No, none of that was true.

Why is it not true? It’s because the legend says otherwise; because the one who wrote these stories didn’t mention any of that.

Why didn’t they mention it though? It’s because Ozyllus didn’t tell them. And why would he anyway?

Dragon: “What would you think of it, Sona?”

She had once said that the dragon is a coward, someone who had twisted the pity shown to him by Ozyllus into a friendship when he spread the legends of the past.

Dragon: “So how exactly would you describe Ozyllus I wonder?”

Ironically enough, the dragon is unable to let the truth slip away, because in return for being shown mercy on their first encounter, he was asked to sign a contract – the contract that forced him to spread the falsehood. It was the contract that if he didn’t sign, he would be killed and if he did sign, he would be an unwilling tool in Ozyllus’ conquest of the world.

His thoughts come to a sudden halt when he realizes that he is only a couple of minutes away from the pond.

Dragon: “Well, I guess I should put my focus back on this.”

He says as he clenches his fists while continuing to move forward.

Dragon: “I wonder why I even started thinking about him anyway.”

And then he realizes.

Dragon: “Oh yeah, it was because I was worried about running into him – the person you said will be the next you.”

Before he wondered what Ozyllus would think of him feeling the emptiness of death, before he thought of how taxing walking so much was, he was thinking of the man Ozyllus’ prophecies foretold to be his successor, the one who will bring – the end of the world.

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

Sona: “So this golden fish is a psychic?”

She looks at the golden fish while asking me.

Kais: “Yeah, it is.”

Fish: “Yes, I am.”

With a startled expression, she asks,

Sona: “Wait, did I just hear two voices!?”

Kais: “Yeah, well, one advantage it has for being a psychic is that it can communicate its thoughts telepathically.”

I try to explain it to her but I wouldn’t be surprised if she remains confused about it. I still have a hard time believing it myself. It completely makes sense in theory, but seeing something like this in reality is just weird.

Sona: “I see. Well, that explains things.”

However, after listening to my explanation, she seems to have no problem taking it as it is. She nods and turns to look at the fish. Seriously, you can accept this that easily? Is it just me who thinks this is weird?

Sona: “Anyway, I need the help of the pond for myself but first tell me what you want with it?”

Kais: “Well, would you mind explaining what you are to this lady?”

I try to talk as politely as I can to the fish. It will really help if it doesn’t go on a fit because of some word I say not being to its liking.

Fish: “Are you trying to mock me with that tone?”

Well, would you look at that?

Kais: “I was just trying to be polite.”

Fish: “Which is why I think you are mocking me.”

Kais: “So you don’t want me to be polite to you.”

Fish: “Tch!”

It was damaging my earlobes earlier because I wasn’t showing respect to it even though it’s an old hag and I am just 20. So now what’s the problem?

Fish: “Huh! Anyway, let’s get back to business.”

Yeah, thanks!

Fish: “Huh? What the hell are you sighing for?”

Kais: “Now I can’t even sigh?”

I apparently sighed without noticing and that also somehow hurt its feelings. Is this why old-age is called second childhood?

I notice Sona getting annoyed and sighing.

Sona: “Hey, can we start talking about the important stuff here?”

Fish: “What do you mean, woman? Are you trying to say this conversation we are having right now is not …”

Sona: “Not important, not in the slightest!”

She says while glaring at the fish with murderous intent in her eyes. The fish shuts up immediately.

Sona: “So, the question was – ‘who are you?’ answer it.”

Sona says as if giving a command and the fish immediately starts talking.

Fish: “R-right. I am an archive created by Ozyllus to store all the records of his time.”

Its behavior sure changed with that one glare, not that I can’t understand why.

Sona: “That’s a lot of information to store then.”

Fish: “Yes, since I was made into a psychic, my brain capacity was unlocked further than any fish generally has and so I was unable to store all the information without any problems.”

Sona: “I see.”

The sudden change in its attitude is understandable and I am thankful to Sona for it. But seeing that glare is something I can’t be too comfortable about. Sona may again become an enemy due to circumstances. If there does come a time where we have to fight, I doubt I will be able to think straight after seeing that murderous intent of her. This is why; I asked her back then who would win if we fight. Her answer was that she would win. If she thinks that, then she wouldn’t be that suspicious of me. If she thinks I am somehow more likely to defeat her, she would try to examine my every step carefully. But since that’s not the case, I would be able to deceive her if needs be.

Sona: “You have been uncomfortably quiet for a while.”

I realize she is talking to me.

Kais: “Well, there’s nothing I want to say between the explanations. My problem comes after that.”

Sona narrows her eyes as I continue,

Kais: “I really need to find out more about a lot of things, but spiritual energy is needed to access the archive in its brain.”

Fish: “Would you mind calling me ‘she’ instead of ‘it’?”

It … she told me in a threatening tone. From what I can tell, she didn’t say this to Sona. Since she is talking telepathically, she can decide to just talk to one person and if the other is not a psychic, they would have no way to listen in. I guess she is genuinely scared of Sona, isn’t she?

Sona: “Well, I don’t get it.”

She says in a sighing voice.

Kais: “Oh, which part?”

Sona: “No, I understood all the things you guys told me. But I don’t understand why spiritual energy would be needed to access an archive that is completely psychic in every way.”

Oh, that. Our feelings are mutual there.

Kais: “Yeah, I don’t understand it either but that’s what it … she says.”

Without paying any mind to that pronoun correction, Sona looks at the fish and sighs.

Sona: “Well, I guess I can help you access the archive. After all, now that I have a chance, I too want to find out about some things.”

Okay, that helps. I didn’t want to try to force her to do this, I am pretty sure I won’t be able to. And if I act in a suspicious way, maybe she’d end up seeing through my bluff of having remembered her.

Sona: “Okay then. What am I to do with spiritual energy?”

Fish: “You’ll just have to start filling this pond with it so that it can counter-balance the psychic energy already present in the pond.”

Sona: “That means half of the pond, right? That would be a lot of spiritual energy.”

Fish: “No, it’s not half. I don’t know the exact composition needed to counter-balance the energy but it has something to do with spiritual energy being denser than psychic energy or something like that. I would know when we reach the desirable composition, but I can guarantee it’s much less than half.”

Sona: “Hmm … well, let’s hope what I have is enough.”

Sona agrees to it and puts her hand in the pond. I guess she would need to do that to transfer the spiritual energy. I try to leave her be for now as I don’t want to accidentally say anything that may arouse her suspicion.

Since I am trying to deceive her into thinking that I remember her, every time anything happens that may mean she has seen through my bluff, it makes me really nervous. Back when we were coming here, she was suspicious of me the whole time which had made me nervous, but when I couldn’t sense a lie in her saying ‘she can’t believe me just because we used to be friends’, I became relieved. Now that I think about it, I could sense confusion in her aura too. Maybe it was because I wasn’t completely able to stop my expressions from being shown on my face and she didn’t understand why I was relieved on hearing something like she can’t trust me. Yeah, that’s pretty logical. Now that I think about it, what the hell was I doing? How can I just let those emotions show on my face like that?

???: “I see someone is trying to find the secrets of his predecessor, huh?”

As soon as we hear that voice, both of us recognize it. Damn it all! Since Sona agreed to help so easily, I dropped my guard a little too much. I should have kept using Aura Reading. Now, it’s already too late.

Sona: “Bastard! You are here too!?”

The one person who may end up making her loose all rationale steps out of the forest into the clearing.

Dragon: “Yeah, I am here alright.”

With arms widened, he says while smirking.

Fish: “Well, that reaction is certainly something. What’s the deal here?”

Dragon: “Nothing really.”

He sighs and,

Dragon: “I just came here to tell you two, something about the archives.”

Our glares ask the question, “What’s that?”

Dragon: “The archives don’t really hold every single truth. The words of the archive are mixed with lies.”

Fish: “What? Are you trying to …?”

That … is … true.

Dragon: “Before you say anything to me, why don’t you ask him?”

Their eyes turn towards me. I can sense Sona being confused and worried right now.

Sona: “What’s with you?”

I think she is saying that to me. Maybe I have a stupid expression on my face, but I can’t even think about it. Because at this moment, I, who had activated Aura Reading in order to grasp the dragon’s emotions while he talks, felt no lie in his words.

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His lies are exposed. For the first time ever, his faithful dragon servant has betrayed him. He is no longer the noble godly figure in the eyes of the psychic whose mind he is in. And so,

Ozyllus: “No! No! You bastard!!”

He abuses the dragon.

Ozyllus: “You’ll die the most pathetic death there has ever been.”

He curses him.

Ozyllus: “And I’ll make you pay for this before that happens.”

He threatens him.

But nothing he can do will stop his exit from The Cage from closing.

Ozyllus: “No, Kais, don’t listen to him. Don’t believe that bastard’s words.”

Abyss: “Shut up, will you?”

Ozyllus: “Huh?”

Abyss: “You do know Kais is a psychic, don’t you? Even if your voice somehow reaches him, he would still know whether you are lying or not.”

The demon says as a smile starts appearing on his face.

Ozyllus: “Damn!”

Ozyllus clicks his tongue, which he is unable to do because of not having a physical body. He looks at the exit, the faint light coming from outside of The Cage closing faster than he could reach there. He sees this scene which is the proof of his life’s work being crumbled before his eyes, all because of one betrayal.

Abyss: “Well Ozyllus,”

Ozyllus looks at the demon Abyss with rage clear on his face.

Abyss: “It’s time for the ‘god’ to learn what humanity is capable of.”

Ironically enough, the humanity Abyss speaks off is coming from a dragon that caused humanity only harm before he met Ozyllus.

Thinking about that, Abyss’ smile only widens.

Abyss: “Well Kais,”

He says to someone who wouldn’t even hear him, but that doesn’t bother him.

Abyss: “time to become the hero of this story,”

He continues on as the last glint of light fades away,

Abyss: “the story of which the villain is god himself.”

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