Chapter 40: Strength

It has been hours since Dyne and Walter entered the forest and since Kais, Sona and the dragon ambushed Barry and Ro.

Sneha: “The sun’s on our heads now. Are we still going to keep standing here?”

The Aural asks the human beside her. However, instead of answering, that human just smiles.

Sneha: “Stop acting cool and answer already.”

Ethan took a long breath and looked at her.

Ethan: “Three days are left for the dragon, as well as this island.”

Sneha: “Yeah, that’s true.”

Ethan: “Unfortunately for the dragon, the upcoming two days are going to be much shorter than he would want them too.”

Sneha furrowed her eyebrows.

Sneha: “What exactly do you mean?”

Ethan: “Just that time will start to pass faster than it usually does.”

Sneha: “Which, if happens, doesn’t make any sense.”

Ethan: “Yeah, I am not sure why it would happen either.”

Sneha: “But you know that it’s going to happen?”

Ethan: “Yeah.”

She sighs.

Sneha: “So, I am assuming you know that because you can see something from your Eyes of Truth?”

Ethan: “Right on the money.”

He turns to the forest as he says that.

Ethan: “I can see energy variations in the atmosphere. They seem to be triggered by fluctuations on time and space axis.”

Sneha: “Isn’t that really bad though?”

Ethan: “They are minor fluctuations and won’t cause too much problem directly but you can expect some trouble.”

While sighing, she says in sarcastic tone,

Sneha: “Just what we needed!”

Sneha also turns to look at the forest.

Sneha: “So, what’s the plan?”

Ethan: “We should go in.”

Sneha: “You sure about that?”

She says with folded arms as if to ask – “you don’t want to spend one or two more days standing here?”

Ethan: “Yeah okay, so I have been taking up a lot of time trying to think things over but you don’t need to start shooting me with sarcasm.”

Sneha: “So you say.”

She says while looking at the forest.

Sneha: “But anyway, now that we are going in after all, we should be ready for anything that might come our way.”

Ethan nods.

Ethan: “Yeah, chances are high we will come across some rather troublesome things in the forest.”

He takes a glance at her. Her face shows her resolve. He doesn’t even need to ask to know that she is completely ready to fight anyone at any time no matter how difficult that fight may be.

Ethan: “Okay then,”

He turns back to look at the forest.

Ethan: “Time to go in.”

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

Dragon: “So what now?”

The dragon asks while looking at me. Right now, I, the dragon and Sona are standing at one side a little distance away from each other. We are facing the direction that will lead us to the tomb. Barry and Ro are standing about 10 meters away and opposite to us. They are facing the direction that leads to the pond.

Kais: “Well,”

I sigh.

Kais: “What is your current goal, Barry?”

I ask while looking at him. Nothing will come out of trying to stay silent like we have been for a while.

Barry: “Are you calm enough to be asking that?”

Kais: “Why?”

Barry: “Nothing, I just thought you’d be more shocked after hearing all that.”

To be honest, I too am surprised that I am able to accept it just like that. Then again, my mind does seem to be working very rationally ever since I came to this island. But I don’t care right now.

Kais: “Well, let’s just say I knew deep down something like that was your reason for doing what you did.”

That’s not a lie, not completely anyway.

Barry: “Did you really knew it? Or did you just wanted to believe that?”

Kais: “Who knows? It doesn’t matter how it was anyway.”

He looks down.

Barry: “I suppose you are not wrong.”

Ro: “Before you answer his question Barry, I just want to tell you that I now understand why you were trying to believe in Ethan. All the things that I immediately assumed Ethan would be responsible of, in truth, can be doings of Ozyllus or Abyss’s ghosts. There is, to be honest, no definite reason to suspect him so much if I move my personal feeling about having been killed by him aside.”

Barry looks at him in unexpected surprise and then looks at the other three.

Barry: “That brings a question to my mind. What do you all think about Ethan Kales?”

Sona: “I don’t know much about him but I do know that he is cunning. I would rather not be friend or foe with someone like him.”

Dragon: “As for me, I am curious about how this island would get destroyed when I die and how he would have been able to predict that something like that would happen. But yes, I would also prefer not to associate with him much.”

Having heard the two’s answers, I can’t help but wonder what his goal is.

Kais: “There’s just so much I don’t know about him that I can’t say what my opinion on him is.”

Barry: “Well, in case you didn’t know, his goal, or at least what he says to be his goal, is to bring you into this war.”

That’s strange. Bringing me into this war – is a goal that does make sense in certain situations, but isn’t it pretty unclear? Bring me into this war from which side exactly?

Barry: “I am assuming you are wondering which side he wants you to join.”

So he’s still able to predict my thoughts, is he?

Kais: “Yeah.”

Barry: “Unfortunately, I don’t know that.”

Sona: “Then fortunately, I have a guess.”

Sona unexpectedly says so.

Kais: “You do? And what is that guess?”

Sona: “The third side.”

Sona gives a pretty confusing answer.

Dragon: “Huh!?”

Ro: “What?!”

Which obviously leads to confused expressions, but somehow,

Barry: “Did you meant …?”

Barry seems to have understood what she meant.

Sona: “I meant exactly what I said.”

Barry tries to ask to clarify but Sona cuts in.

Sona: “He acts like he is okay with you joining either side but in truth; I think he wants you to join neither one.”

None of us interrupt her.

Sona: “He wants you to bring a stop to this war. That has been his goal from the start.”

I can’t help but feel like she’s right with her guess.

Sona: “At least, that’s what my guess is.”

Ro: “Could you explain the reasoning behind that guess?”

He asks in a rather serious manner. Sona seems to notice that and seems to be answering him sincerely.

Sona: “Well,”

She takes a glance at all four of us.

Sona: “He told me too that his goal is to bring Kais in this war.”

I thought so. It didn’t seem to surprise her when Barry said that to be his goal.

Sona: “On the beach, Sneha and he were awake before I regained consciousness. And at that time, everyone else was unconscious too. If his goal was to just bring you into the war, they could have just gone in the forest after you.”

Kais: “But how would that help him?”

Sona: “He could have tried to convince you to join one side or the other. He could have acted like the bad guy and claimed to be from one of the two sides so you gain motivation to join the other. He could have also used the fact that Barry and Ro want you to join the war and tried to push you into that direction. But he just waited there.”

Barry: “That is strange. But still, there’s the possibility he just wanted to see if I and Ro can convince him and he would not have to work at all.”

That would be a pretty lazy approach but it’s not out of question when I think about it.

Sona: “Logically possible but I just can’t see someone who would we willing to go up against people like us with no offensive abilities of his own to be someone who would adopt a lazy and risky approach like that.”

That’s true. Things may not go his way if he leaves everything to others and I am sure he is well aware of it. Also, an energy-saving strategy just doesn’t suit him to be honest.

Sona: “That’s why I think his goal is not as vague as he makes it sound.”

That’s a fair point. But how did she come to the guess ‘me joining the third side’?

Sona: “After that, when I reached the pond, I met a fish, who has psychic abilities, and has an archive of past records stored into her brain.”

Ro: “Did you just say the fish is a psychic?”

Barry sighs.

Barry: “Is that a result of Ozyllus’ experiments?”

He asks while looking at the dragon and the dragon nods. Seeing that, Sona continued

Sona: “So, that fish told me that the archive in her brain can only be accessed by spiritual energy. While we didn’t get to access it, I am pretty sure she was telling the truth.”

Dragon: “Yeah, I can confirm that part is completely true.”

I can confirm it too. She wasn’t lying about that.

Sona: “So, that got me thinking – what relation do the two energies have with each other?”

Barry: “The connection between different forms of energies, huh?”

Kais: “You know something about it too?”

And were you hiding that from us too?

Barry: “I didn’t know back then. In fact, only when I fought a really powerful ghost did I realize some connection between two forms can exist.”

I see. I suppose this is something that most people wouldn’t know if he didn’t know it for so long.

Dragon: “So what did you realize?”

Sona: “I realized that the two energies are, in a way, opposites.”

Wait, they are opposites. I don’t get how she would come on that conclusion.

Sona: “It’s when the fish mentioned that they needed a particular concentration of spiritual energy to even out the psychic energy that I started thinking of this possibility.”

She did say that.

Sona: “The term ‘even out’ meant that the characteristics of psychic energy would be neutralized by the spiritual energy. It only makes sense in case they oppose each other.”

Okay, that makes sense.

Sona: “This relation probably exists with other forms of energies as well.”

Barry: “It does.”

He nods as he says that.

Sona: “Ethan’s Eyes of Truth allows him to easily see these relations. So he would find out any relations like these after seeing them in action once. So he should know about how these relations work in the upcoming war as well.”

Kais: “By that, I suppose you mean how the various sides affect each other in theory?”

She nods. Seeing that, Barry puts a hand on his chin as he says,

Barry: “Well, from what I know, the ghost and vampiric energies oppose each other. Psychic is also opposed by ghost energy but not as much as it is by spirit energy. Dragons use a mix of various energies so it depends on which ability they use.”

Sona: “I suspected it would be something like that. All the three energies, psychic, ghost and dragons, naturally oppose vampires. Think what would happen if this war does happen?”

Barry: “At this point, it’s more like when it happens rather than if it happens, but anyway, I think the vampires will get wiped out.”

I have to agree. No matter how I try to look at the situation, their chances are slim to none.

Sona: “And the result would be seas of blood.”

Yeah, that’s very likely. Wait! I see. That’s what she is getting at.

Sona: “That result would probably be …”

Kais: “… what Ozyllus desires.”

She nods.

Kais: “And the more fight the vampires are able to give, the bloodier the sea would become.”

Sona: “Yeah, so the only way to change things is to stop the war.”

She turns to look at me.

Sona: “I think he is someone who has suffered because of Ozyllus too. I just have a feeling stopping his plans is his real motive.”

I believe you, Sona. I totally believe you. And if that’s the case then … then … I should probably agree to it. But,

Dragon: “Are you wondering if you’ll be able to stop the war or not?”

Kais: “Yeah, don’t you think my power alone wouldn’t be enough.”

The dragon sighs. What? You can’t possibly expect me to stop a war between these powerhouses by myself.

Barry says irritated,

Barry: “You are actually right. You can’t stop the war by yourself.”

He says while sighing as well. Okay, I am glad we agree but what is with that tone?

Barry: “The problem with you is that a couple of misconceptions in your mind have led you back to the right answer.”

That’s … awkward to hear.

Barry: “Listen,”

He steps forward and looks me in the eye.

Barry: “You are strong, you know? You are very strong.”

Yeah, I know. I know I am not really a weak psychic for sure.

Barry: “No, you don’t get it.”

He says as if he read my thoughts.

Barry: “You are stronger than me.”

What!?

Barry: “You are stronger than everyone on this island. You may even be stronger than everyone in the world.”

That’s absurd.

Barry: “Yes, you would still not be able to stop the war by yourself. But that’s not because you are not strong enough, but because it is that great of a task.”

Kais: “You can’t be serious.”

Barry: “I am, very serious. Stop thinking you are not strong and stop thinking that is the reason you can’t stop the war by yourself. You need help, but not because you are lacking in power but because the world isn’t so flimsy that you can save it alone.”

Barry says it all looking me in my eye. How am I supposed to deny him like this? How am I supposed to tell him that he is wrong when I can clearly see his sincerity so clearly?

Barry: “I have had it with the masks. I am done trying to deceive you. So, at this moment, believe me when I say that I believe in you.”

And I can’t help but believe in him too.

Dragon: “And if hearing this from him is not enough for you, then I will say it too.”

The dragon turns to look me in the eye the same way Barry did.

Dragon: “You were chosen by Ozyllus to become his weapon of destruction. It was because you had to power to do so. And because you had the power to do so, you also had the power to do the opposite.”

He says it with the same sincerity that Barry did.

Dragon: “I know you are using Aura Reading. I know you can sense my true feelings right now. So tell me, am I lying now?”

Kais: “You … are not.”

Ro: “The reason Vermillion wanted to bring you on their side was also probably that you were powerful enough to destroy their enemies. We Embers weren’t told much but we were told that you are someone really special and will become the man who will change this world. So I too think you are powerful.”

Ro says so as well.

But I just don’t get it. How can I be powerful? How can I be someone who can change the world when I couldn’t save anyone in my life?

Barry: “What you are thinking right now – is exactly what Ozyllus wants you to think. Those thoughts were created by me following his orders and showing you that disaster 12 years ago. So stop those thoughts. They were forced into your head.”

No matter how much I try to, I can’t deny those words. I can’t deny any of their words.

Ro, a man who served Vermillion without knowing about anything, a man who was forced to think the way Vermillion wanted him to, is now sharing his true feelings to someone.

Barry, a man who was forced to do as Ozyllus told him to, had to endure the pain of deceiving a child, is now speaking without any deception in his words.

Dragon, someone who was also forced to do just as Ozyllus told him to, someone who grieved over the fact that his power would kill all who try to kill him making him a murderer without even doing anything, is now rebelling against the cause of all that suffering.

I can’t deny these people. I can’t say they are lying or run away from reality, can’t run away from my responsibility.

Sona: “Hey, you okay?”

Kais: “Uh, what?”

I can’t see as well as I could a moment ago. Why is that?

Barry, looking at me, smiles.

Kais: “What’s happening?”

I can’t see well, my vision has become blurred. It looks like something is flowing from my eyes.

Dragon: “I suppose that means you accept it.”

I … I … do. I do accept it. I won’t try to step on your words. I won’t try to act like a brat and run away. I will accept what you have said and will believe in your words. I will believe that I am worthy of our trust.

Kais: “I will save the world.”

As I say that, I realize why tears are coming from my eyes. I am about to see these people go away.

Barry: “It’s true.”

Even if I want to change this, I can’t.

Barry: “I will probably not live past the three days this island has left. My death is not certain but I doubt I will live past that.”

Dragon: “And I, as you all know, am I going to die in three days.”

Ro: “I don’t plan on dying any time soon, but I don’t know how long I will survive. Though I am already a ghost so dying doesn’t technically make sense but my existence will be over.”

It’s true. These people have been able to show their true feeling once in their life, and now they will soon all die. It’s as if these moments filled with humanity are a sin to have.

Having silently watched all this, Sona sighs. She comes forward and glances at me before saying,

Sona: “My goal hasn’t changed. I want to get revenge for all those people that died 12 years ago. But I now know who I should take that revenge from.”

She turns to me.

Sona: “I am not dying, so I am coming with you.”

I feel relieved to hear that. It’s as if, for the first time in an eternity, I really regained something I had lost.

Sona: “We are going to stop him. And we will do it together.”

Yes, I regained a friend.

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

Ozyllus: “…”

The silence continues.

Abyss: “…”

Ozyllus: “…”

The silence continues as the stare at each other.

Abyss: “…”

Ozyllus: “Well,”

But like always, the silent stare-down comes to an end. And it happens by Ozyllus.

Ozyllus: “Do you think they’ll be able to do what they are trying to do?”

Abyss: “Yes.”

Ozyllus: “Hmm … well, I guess we’ll see.”

He says as he spreads his arms.

Ozyllus: “Tell me, you do know what I have been up to for some time, don’t you?”

Abyss: “You have been trying to create a distortion in time-axis so that the time starts running faster.”

Ozyllus: “But you didn’t try to stop me.”

Abyss: “I wouldn’t have been able to.”

Abyss says calmly.

Abyss: “Besides, now there is no need to.”

Ozyllus: “Why’s that?”

Abyss: “Because everything that was needed to defeat you is already done. No matter what you do now, you can’t win.”

Ozyllus: “Don’t underestimate a god, devil.”

Ozyllus says in a loud voice.

Abyss: “Don’t underestimate humans, god.”

Abyss said in an equally loud voice.

Ozyllus: “Tch! Human, what humans? These people are not humans. Mere humans could never be able to do the things they have done.”

Abyss: “Yeah, maybe. But mere humans can do what Ethan Kales has done. And he is the reason this all is happening.”

Ozyllus: “What?”

Abyss: “Do you know why the dragon betrayed you? Do you know why Barry has become so ready to spill everything? Do you know how they all gained the courage to go up against you after all these years?”

Ozyllus doesn’t answer. He can’t answer.

Abyss: “It is because Ethan has the courage to go up against them.”

Ozyllus doesn’t interrupt. He can’t interrupt.

Abyss: “They saw the ‘mere human’ going up against monstrously powerful people and still being able to smirk at their faces. They saw the courage that borders at the line of madness. And … seeing him, they just couldn’t let themselves be cowards anymore.”

Ozyllus remains speechless.

Abyss: “It wasn’t all that long ago you said that Ethan is your pawn. But you couldn’t be more wrong. Ethan Kales is not your pawn.”

Ozyllus knows what he is saying is the truth. He has realized it over the course of these events.

Abyss: “Neither him, nor Kais or anyone else is your pawn. They are people, who at the end of their lives had what it takes to take their own path. And they will be the ones you will remember as the ones who brought you down.”

At this point, the air of sadness is felt by all.

There are those who are about to die. There are those who will have to see them die. They are those who know they will die. They are those who believe they won’t die. There are those who have to see their dreams being crushed in front of their eyes. And there are also those who will see their dreams being reached, but will lose everything in the process.

Ozyllus: “How can anyone wish for an outcome like this? How can any of you be happy with such tragic existences?”

Abyss: “You still don’t get it.”

Abyss said as he clenched his fists.

Abyss: “It’s not about us. It’s about the world.”

The so-called devil, who had sensed all of this sadness for more than thousand years, now tells the so-called god his reason for enduring it.

Abyss: “It’s the tragedy of our lives that will shape the story of this world to a comedy. Because, at the end of the day, we will give this world the happiness we can’t get. We just happen to be people who can find our salvation in that fact.”

Ozyllus looks at Abyss as every word he hears pains him to his heart.

Ozyllus: “I see. So be it. That’s how it shall be.”

He says as opens his tightened fists. And with those fists, he lets go of the trigger of time.

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

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