I ran. I was still running. I would continue to run. I could never stop running. If I did, I would have been swallowed. I would have died. I would have kept dying. I would have continued to die every day until I was completely dead.
No, I couldn’t take that. I would have had an instant death than lived a life that would become death itself. So, I had to run. In order to protect myself, I had to run. There’s no other way then.
Kais: “I … I have … already lost everything … everything except myself. This might be … selfish … but I don’t care … because I don’t want to die.”
Barry: “And you think wanting to not die is enough?”
I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to think about anything he said. And yet, his voices rang in my head so loud I couldn’t ignore it. Why was that torture happening to me?
Barry: “Look around you, look at the corpses, Kais.”
He said as he spread his arms; his arms that were covered in the blood; the blood that was all around us.
Barry: “Do you think any of these people wanted to die?”
I was running, running so fast I couldn’t even see the road. So why – why couldn’t I shake him off?
Barry: “Do you think all of them came to me telling me to kill them or something?”
It was a nightmare, right? It would be over as soon as I woke up, wouldn’t it? Yeah, the moment I woke up, I would see Barry’s smiling face. The smiling face – his smiling face –
I remembered seeing his smile every day. The expression of happiness rarely left his face. He was so … so amazing. That smile – I used to envy that. Not anymore though, I didn’t want to see that face anymore. I didn’t want to see that face anymore. Because the only smile of his I remembered then – is the one covered in blood.
Kais: “Go away!”
I don’t know how loud my voice was. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore.
Barry: “Well, if that’s what you want,”
I fell. My feet came to a halt automatically. No, I had to have kept running.
Barry: “then make me go away.”
Barry: “You have everything you need for it, don’t you?”
I looked up. I looked up from the ground I had fallen to. No, was it really ground I had fallen to? Looked nothing like that. All it looked like was a sea of blood.
Barry: “Do it for yourself.”
As I stared at the sky, my vision was blocked by the face of the brother I had known for so long. His face covered in blood, his voice cold, and with a smile on his face, he looked at me.
Kais: “S-s-stay away!”
Barry: “Make me stay away. If you want something, take it for yourself.”
I couldn’t even move. I didn’t know why but no matter how much I wanted to, I just couldn’t move my limbs. Why … why was this happening?
Barry: “Come on. Do it.”
I couldn’t do it. I wanted to … so badly, but I just couldn’t do it.
Barry: “You were always given everything you ever needed.”
I wasn’t. There were so many things I needed that I wasn’t given.
Barry: “Our parents left us before you even knew what family means. You didn’t lose anything by that, did you?”
Kais: “Shut up!”
You were wrong. I could see with my own eyes how parents cared for their children. I could clearly see how all the kids around me got the love I never did. You got it too, even if not forever. But I didn’t.
Barry: “You were also given psychic abilities. That made your life a breeze, didn’t it?”
Kais: “I-It didn’t.”
Barry: “It did. You could accomplish anything with your abilities. Everyone else had to work hard for it. But you could do anything because of your abilities.”
Kais: “You are wrong!”
You were wrong. You were wrong. I didn’t use my abilities for things that you told me not to. I always stuck to the rules you laid out for me.
Barry: “I am wrong, huh?”
Kais: “You are. I also worked hard. I worked hard knowing I didn’t have to.”
It’s not easy to suppress the urge to use those abilities every single time. But I did. I did suppress it every time. I never used it to cheat it in any way.
Barry: “You worked hard, you say? Oh yeah, you worked hard, didn’t you? It would have been so easy knowing you could make up for anything you ended up lacking in by your abilities.”
What the heck did that mean? You were just spouting non-sense.
Barry: “It would have been so easy for you, wouldn’t it? While everyone in the world tries to do their best trying to achieve their goals without knowing the end result, you knew you could make up for anything with your abilities. The only reason you worked hard was to satisfy yourself. It was so you can say those lines you are saying right now.”
Kais: “Shut up! You are wrong! You are … just wrong about EVERYTHING.”
Barry: “Is that so?”
Kais: “Yeah, it is. And who are you to talk anyway. You were far superior to me in every way. You didn’t even have a big brother to tell you to not use your abilities. You would have exploited your abilities all you wanted.”
Barry: “Ha! Ha! Ha! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!”
Kais: “Stop … laughing.”
He didn’t stop laughing. I sat there looking at him as he laughed like a maniac. He laughed so loud that it echoed throughout the place, that everyone around could hear it. But, they didn’t hear it, because they couldn’t hear it, because the only things around me and Barry were corpses.
Barry: “HA! HA! Ha! Ha!”
As I barely kept myself up, as I barely stopped my legs from completely going numb, the sound of Barry’s loud laughs kept piercing me. They weren’t piercing my ears as much as they were piercing my soul.
Kais: “S-SHUT UP!!!”
I shouted at the top of my lungs. I couldn’t help it. I just couldn’t take it anymore. The brother I had known for so long was dying. This man – whoever he was, he wasn’t my brother. And I felt like every laugh from him was killing my brother.
Barry: “Tell me, why are you crying like that?”
And only then I realized – I had been crying. I had been crying for some reason. But why was that?
Barry: “Why are you crying, Kais?”
Kais: “I … don’t know.”
12 years in the future, in the Vampire Kingdom’s courtroom, four people are gathered.
Reid: “What’s up with this war between you and the ghosts?”
Knowing that he was touching the heart of the matter, Ro had prepared himself for a cold stare from Reid.
Valdis: “Well, that really is the most important query you have, isn’t it?”
Valdis looked him in the eyes as she said so.
Barry: “Well, in simple words, it is a political conflict between the two for the balance of power.”
Ro: “What balance of power?”
Barry: “Vermillion, the Vampire Kingdom, the Ghost Nation, Aurals, Spirit-users and Dragons. These are the six supernatural factions the world seems to be divided in.”
Ro: “Okay, and?”
Barry: “Well, let’s see, it was about a thousand years ago that a different factions had risen. It was the faction led by Ozyllus.”
Ro fell silent as Barry continued to explain.
Barry: “He didn’t per se oppose any factions but he did demand to be left as an uninvolved faction in their struggles for power. And well, apart from the minor conflicts that happened throughout the history, he was left alone. The biggest reason for that was that he was just so powerful. But there was another reason why no one attacked him.”
Ro’s curiosity kept on rising and he questioned further.
Ro: “And what was that?”
Barry: “Well, it was the Ghost Nation. They were a faction waging a war against everyone else. Every other faction except that of Ozyllus’ formed an alliance to take them down.”
It surprised Ro to know they were that big of a threat but the real shocking news was yet to come.
Barry: “They all lost.”
Barry: “The Ghost Nation defeated all of them.”
Ro glanced at Valdis and Reid. While Valdis had a discomforted expression on her face, Reid was barely holding in his anger. It was clear that this was indeed the truth and neither of them is very proud of this piece of history.
Ro: “But …”
So, he decided to ask the question that he couldn’t have predicted the answer to.
Ro: “How could they be that strong?”
Barry: “It was because of their king.”
Who was their king? – Ro wondered. And the answer soon came.
Barry: “Their king, someone you may have heard about in all the legends of that era, was the demon Abyss.”
Ro’s eyes widen in shock. Reid clicked his tongue making it clear just how much that name annoyed him. Valdis kept a calm expression but disdain was slightly visible on her face as well.
Barry: “The only reason we hear about the legendary battle between Ozyllus and Abyss is because no one could stop Abyss and finally Ozyllus had to step in himself.”
Ro: “Okay, wait! I get what you are saying, but how does it all tie up to now?”
Unable to hold his excitement, Ro looks at Barry with a questioning gaze.
Ro: “Abyss has long been defeated, hasn’t he?”
Barry: “Yeah, but the thing is – a demon as powerful as Abyss should have had no reason to become the ruler of ghosts. This is what led to a large amount of theories on how ghosts and demons can be connected.”
Ghosts and demons can be connected. It is a terrifying thought in every way. Ro and a lot of other people involved with supernaturals didn’t know about the existence of ghosts but all of them know about the existence of demons. And no one wants to mess with them.
Barry: “Back when I got into a fight with a ghost, I found out how they are connected.”
And suddenly Barry cuts down all the hope of ‘this is just a theory’ excuse.
Barry: “And not only that, but they are also connected to Angels. And they are trying to raise both to empower themselves. That’s when we decided we would put a stop to them.”
It makes sense. They need to be stopped at once or a repeat of thousand years ago may happen.
Barry: “But they are capable of fending our whole army off. And since Vampires are not very friendly creatures for those that have blood in them, Vermillion and the dragons have formed an alliance with the Ghost Nation – what we call The Dragon Alliance.”
The pieces of puzzle fell into place as Barry’s explanation ended.
Barry: “That is what brings us here. We need to stop the ghosts, no, the entire Dragon Alliance at all costs or a tragedy like the past may strike again. And this time there would be no Ozyllus to stop them.”
After remaining silent for a while, Ro finally sighed and then said,
Ro: “I understand now why Vermillion’s upper echelon kept sending us after Kais even when he kept refusing again and again. They wanted him on their side and you want him to join the Vampire Kingdom. He is the one you want taking the place of Ozyllus, isn’t he?”
Barry: “Precisely, he is the only one who can do it. His potential as a psychic far surpassed anyone else in the world. But because of incidents like the one 12 years ago, it might be very difficult for me to convince him of joining the war alone.”
Ro got an urge to ask about the ‘incident 12 years ago’ but decided to save it for later so they could focus on the topic at hand.
Ro: “That’s why you brought me here.”
Barry: “Yeah, you are not on the best terms with him either but your position is much better than mine.”
Ro: “I see. But it’s not just about convincing him, is it? He is capable of taking Ozyllus’ place but he is not yet strong enough to do it, right?”
Barry: “Right. We also need him to get stronger. This is why; we need to give him a lot of time.”
Reid: “And to buy that time, we’ll fight them.”
Their attention turns towards Reid.
Reid: “Aurals have scattered throughout the world and spirit-users have decided to not take part in any wars. So they are left with the three factions that form The Dragon Alliance. And we’ll have to fight those three factions. It obviously is not going to be a walk in the park but don’t have a choice.”
He turns to Ro with a resolved gaze and asked,
Reid: “We won’t be able to completely defeat them. The most we can do is delaying them.”
Ro: “And you need Kais to become stronger, start wanting to defeat the Dragon Alliance and then join the war.”
As Ro came to understand everything, he felt a heavy burden on his shoulders all of a sudden. His job – to convince Kais to join the war from their side – was tantamount to saving the world at this point. If he failed, everything may fall apart.
Barry: “But that isn’t all.”
Ro: “What? What more is there …?”
He realized mid-sentence the answer to his question.
Ro: “Ethan Kales. How does he fit into all of this?”
The one loose end came to his mind.
Barry: “Well, to be honest, no idea.”
Barry: “During the battle between Ozyllus and Abyss, there was a person in Ozyllus’ faction, someone by the name of Sagax.”
Ro: “Yeah, he was the man whose eyes could never be deceived.”
Barry: “Right, it seems Ethan somehow plays a similar role in this war, whatever that may be.”
Ro: “You are telling me …”
Reid: “Wait now, what is all this?”
Ro turned to Reid and saw a shocked look on his face.
Valdis: “You never told us about any of this.”
Valdis says with a concerned expression.
Barry: “Because I never got the chance to.”
The three look at Barry wanting to know the explanation to what he just said.
Barry: “Before I brought Ro here, I was following Ethan. I saw him trap Ro and kill him.”
Ro: “You were there?”
Barry nods and continues,
Barry: “I also noticed how he used my name to scare you and all that.”
Ro: “Uh, that …”
Ro tried to come up with words to retort, but Barry cuts in.
Barry: “But anyway, what immediately caught my attention was him saying that he had seen ghosts.”
Barry: “I wouldn’t be that surprised that someone working with an Aural would know that ghosts exist. I was a little surprised that the Aural herself didn’t know though. That said though, the fact that a normal human like him could see ghosts was the most concerning matter.”
All three of them nod in understanding.
Barry: “That is why; I followed him. I had already known Ethan Kales is someone who is causing problems for Vermillion so I also wanted to find out just what card does he have up his sleeve. But I couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary even after following him for four hours, his aura was completely normal and it looked like all he had got on his side was a cunning mind. That is when I had decided that I would stop following him, but …”
Barry: “I then suddenly saw his soul being pulled into a void … and I followed suit. The place that void led to looked like the interior of a cave or a tomb. When he woke up in the there, he took one look at his palm and knew only his soul is present there.”
Reid: “And how’d he do that?”
Barry: “Don’t know but it looked like his eyes were glowing.”
Ro: “Does he have some kind of special eyes?”
Barry: “Probably something like Sagax has. But I didn’t know it back then so I kept following him. I became more and more curious about his secret. And then he came across … Kais.”
Valdis, Reid and Ro simultaneously raised their eyebrows and widen their eyes in surprise.
Barry: “There, in the conversation they had, I found out three things.”
Valdis: “And what were they?”
Barry: “The first, they had met once before that point. Second, Ethan had those eyes or at least similar ones to what Sagax had. Third, he was present there on that day 12 years ago.”
Valdis, Reid and Ro remained silent. The shock of these revelations was already too heavy on their minds for them to speak anything anymore.
Barry: “After Ethan’s conversation with Kais, he decided he would turn back and leave. I followed him back as well. I think Kais noticed my presence when I tried to get away because he was being really cautious and putting up a barrier and whatnot. Either way, after he reached the point he had entered from, his soul returned to his body. I came back from there the same way.”
He continued seeing how no one else was trying to say anything.
Barry: “Then, I went to bring Ro here and that brings us to the current situation.”
After a moment of silence,
Valdis: “I … see. This Ethan Kales – till now I had only thought of him as a small nuisance and so I was glad that he is causing problems for Vermillion, but now I understand that was my mistake. He might be a detrimental factor to our plans as well.”
Barry and Reid nod.
Reid: “He could be the biggest obstacle in our path. We need to take care of him as quickly as we can.”
Barry: “I would agree.”
As they said so, a sudden realization hit Ro’s mind.
Ro: “If his eyes are similar to Sagax’s, then could it be he knew you were following him?”
Ro asks nervously
Barry: “It’s possible, but I don’t think it would be that much of a bother.”
Ro: “No, you are misunderstanding.”
Barry got curious as he urges him to continue.
Ro: “Could he have known that you were following him before the whole incident with me happened?”
Ro: “If so, it could mean that the reason he mentioned that ghosts exist was for you to hear and not for us. So he could make you keep trailing him till later.”
Barry: “Well, it’s possible but I doubt he knew that he would be pulled in a place like that. And other than that, nothing really happened with him so I don’t know what he may have wanted from making me trail him.”
Ro: “I-I see. But even so, this current situation where he killed me and you brought me here and we are discussing all of this, it could all be part of his plan, couldn’t it?”
Barry was left speechless. Ro’s assumptions, if they are true, could very well mean that everything that’s happening is part of his plan.
Valdis: “If that’s the case, you two need to hurry and get to Kais before he can. We can’t allow his plans to keep succeeding.”
Reid: “Yeah, I doubt his end goal, whatever it is, would work in our favor. We can’t take the risk.”
Valdis nods as she looks at Barry’s horrified expression. Feeling a little concerned but trying to put her duty as the vampire queen before that of the elder sister, she said,
Valdis: “Barry, I want you to go there along with Ro and bring Kais to our side.”
Barry listened to her. He knew that he needs to do just as she said. He knew they need to hurry, but …
Barry: “12 years ago,”
They turned to look at him in surprise,
Barry: “The reason I did all that –”
His hands were shaking, his voice was weaker than usual and the impression it gave of him was far different from the impression he would usually give.
Reid: “What’s wrong?”
The most astonished of the three on seeing that sight of Barry was Reid. He had asked this question out of genuine concern.
Barry: “Call him; call our strategist and ask him about the truth of the legends.”
The two are left in surprise by Barry’s sudden words.
Barry: “He and I had kept these things secret from all of you for a reason but you need to know. Tell him I want him to answer; I am sure he would catch on.”
Just as he told them to, they asked their strategist about the legends, he sent some books that would explain to them the truth that they had been ignorant of. He sent enough books for there to be one for the four people in that room and the four generals.
What would they have thought after reading those books? What would they have thought of Barry who had kept those things a secret from them?
Barry had made himself suspicious in the eyes of Reid and Valdis. But that was nothing new for him. Barry is someone whose actions have always raised questions. He has always been mysterious. Why did he use the invisibility technique on his jet to try to follow Ethan when he knew about his eyes? Anyone who is around him often ends up thinking questions like these.
The answer is a really simple one though – It’s because he wanted to test out if Ethan’s eyes really are the same as that of Sagax. Even though his actions may sometimes look stupid or suspicious, there always is a genuine reason for them.
This is why, when a truly suspicious question comes up, it becomes really hard to want an answer to it. This is why the question of ‘Why did he cause that tragedy 12 years ago?’ was something no one really wanted an answer to.
Barry: “You don’t know why you are crying, huh?”
Yeah, it’s true. The eight-year-old Kais was crying. But why was he crying?
Barry: “Let me tell you why you are crying then. You are crying because you can see yourself in me.”
His eyes widen in shock as he looked at Barry.
Barry: “That entire time playing house you could only admire that kind, good-natured façade of the man you called your big brother. But now that you have seen this horrible side of him, you can actually see yourself in him, isn’t that true?”
Kais was left speechless. That’s how true the answer was.
Seeing that, Barry turned around and started walking. He ignored Kais and anything he may have said from that point on and started walking.
Barry: “There, you happy now?”
He said in a soft voice. And a reply came back from within,
“I am. I am very happy. By doing this, you have set him on the path to become my successor.”
Barry: “Is that so?”
“Yes, yes. You should be proud of yourself, Barry. Even though you are incapable of saving the world from the Ghost Nation, you have managed to push your brother on the path of doing so.”
Barry: “I should be proud, you say? What the hell should I be proud of? Should I be proud that I showed an eight-year-old this horrible scenery? Should I be proud that I killed so many people? Are you kidding me?”
“Well, I guess this was a pretty horrible act and you would be hated for the entirety of your life for this. But I am sure at the end of the day, you can find solace in the fact that all of these things are for the greater good.”
Barry: “Greater good my ass! You only want him to fulfill your own goals. You don’t care if the world gets destroyed. And I am helping you. There’s nothing in all of this that is for the greater good.”
“Now, now, don’t be so pessimistic. It’s not like you are helping me out of you own violation after all.”
Barry: “Of course I am not.”
“Right, the only reason you are doing this is because you knew this was inevitable. You knew I would make this happen by the hands of someone else if not you, so you decided that you will take the burden of doing this on yourself in order to keep anyone else from getting involved.”
Barry kept walking.
“You are such a kind soul, Barry. I do feel bad for making you do this. But you know, at the end of the day, it really is for the greater good.”
Barry kept walking as the voice continued to talk in an elated tone.
“After all, what good can be greater than trying to bring your god’s ambitions to fruition?”
Barry: “Shut the hell up! You are no god, Ozyllus. You are just an arrogant ghost of a psychic who was more powerful than others.”
Barry: “Yeah, because you were powerful and defeated a demon or two, you are put on a pedestal and praised as a god.”
Ozyllus: “And that doesn’t make me a god?”
Ozyllus: “Face the truth, Barry. If people think I am a god, then I am a god. Their perception is all that matters.”
Barry stopped walking. He was forced to stop walking.
Ozyllus: “Oops! It looks like our conversation here is over.”
Ozyllus said as he cut his link off Barry. Barry, at the place he was, kept standing unable to a move as a red liquid flowed out of his chest.
Kais: “Die, Barry! Die!”
Barry fell as the sharp object piercing through his chest was pulled back. In his last moments as a living being, he took a look at Kais – but he didn’t find him. The only one he could see was the demon who had taken his place.