Near the clearing in the forest, there’s an eerie silence. As Sona stands there with her palm outstretched, for a single moment, nothing happens. But just then, a flock of birds fly out of the tree trunks and branches. It happens so suddenly that anyone there would be distracted for at least a second. And in that one second,
Sona: “Vessel of Abyss, sink the world into your darkness!”
The ground in front of her, tears open as if it’s made of paper. A beast emerges from it. It is a black, shadowy creature. No, it’s more like it is covered in black shadow. This beast has four legs, is as tall as a human and resembles a tiger in many ways.
Sona: “Wreak Havoc!”
And with those words, Sona unleashes this beast on the tomb. The beast looks at the clearing and roars. Its roar silences what little noise any creature around it had been making. From the largest of the creatures to the smallest ones present in the forest, not a single sound came out of any of them.
A human, a psychic, an animal – no matter who it was, it would be clear to them how terrifying of a creature they are faced with. This tiger-like shadowy creature is a spirit known to people as,
That’s the name of the spirit. It isn’t that those who named him have a bad sense of naming, but nothing else would come to anyone’s mind when they look at this beast and look at what it can do.
Sona: “Go on. What’s wrong?”
Yet, at this moment, this killing machine that has come to be known as ‘Death’ itself is not moving. It’s just looking intently at the clearing it has been ordered to rush to. Sona can’t tell what kind of emotion is on its face, but she can tell that whatever it is, it’s not happiness or anger.
She sighs. This situation isn’t completely unexpected, but she did wish it didn’t happen. She had wished Death would attack no matter who the opponent is, even the dragon.
Sona: “But I guess that was being too optimistic.”
She again stretches her hand in front of her. But this time, it is the other hand, the left hand. She points her fingers towards Death and,
Sona: “Your enemy is the dragon. Go, and kill him.”
With those simple words that aren’t nearly as flashy as her first two incantations, she orders Death again. This time, Death cannot do anything but listen. This is a technique to force a spirit to obey the person it’s contracted to. While it may look like just stretching your hand and ordering the spirit around, there is more to it than that and most people with contracts don’t have a clue how to do it.
Death: “GRR … GRRRRR!!!”
Death’s rage is clear at being forced to do something against its will, but it still moves forward. It doesn’t run forward, and it can’t run backwards, so it just walks forward. With a few steps, it reaches the clearing with Sona some steps behind.
Suddenly, a light shined in a distance. Stepping in the clearing just a moment later, Sona sees that it’s a building glowing golden. The shine is so bright that it’s hard to tell what its shape is, but Sona understands that must be the tomb.
Sona: “Be ready!”
Death is not happy at being bossed around like that. The irritation is clear. This is one of the few spirits that could manage to be in this aura which is deadly to the spirits; of course it regards itself with much self-esteem. But it won’t do anything foolish like run away or attack Sona. It knows full well how dire of a situation they are in. If they try to back down now, they’ll instantly be killed and if they start fighting among themselves, there will be no chance of survival. Considering these possibilities, it holds itself back. Death didn’t have any loyalty towards Sona, and she is well aware of it.
Sona: “Why don’t you come out in front of us already?”
She shouts as to provoke the dragon. For a moment, there’s silence. Gazing at each other, they both confirm that they are ready for battle. Then,
???: “Very well then.”
A figure emerges from the tomb. The golden glow suddenly starts to dampen.
Sona: “Did I … just hear him talk?”
She knows instinctively that is the dragon even if it has a human appearance. That said, the fact that the dragon can talk, while not out of bounds of her imagination, it is certainly an unexpected discovery.
Dragon: “Don’t be so worried about it. I can talk because it was one of the things my friend blessed me with.”
Sona: “What …”
She is still a little shocked at hearing his voice, but her mind immediately starts to work. She understands the dragon is referring to Ozyllus when he says ‘my friend’.
Dragon: “Oh well, I wonder if you even actually care about that though.”
Sona takes a short glance at Death. It is ready to attack. It is smart enough to realize that there’s no way out now, so it is ready to give it all it has got. That brought some relief to her knowing that her most powerful weapon is in top form.
Dragon: “Now, why did you call me here?”
During all this, the glow had continued to dampen little by little. Now finally the tomb has stopped shining. Now it looked like just stone, the color golden is just painted over it. But with this, they can finally take a look at the Dragon.
He looks completely like a human. Built of a slightly muscular, good-looking man with green eyes, slightly dark skin and brown hair length of which almost touched the shoulders, the dragon stands there. If she didn’t already know he is the dragon, she would have mistaken him for another human.
Dragon: “If you are worried about this form, don’t be. It is just convenient for me to be like this when I have to interact with humans.”
And this human that she may mistake him for is not someone whose lookalike can be ignored.
Sona: “What the hell? Why do … why do you … look so much like Ozyllus?”
Death turns to look at Sona. Beneath the shadowy figure, there is surprise on the spirit’s face. The dragon’s surprised too.
Very few people know what Ozyllus actually looks like, so few that every single psychic that had come to this island and met the dragon had not known, those who sent them here had not known, those who ordered them to do so had not known either.
But Sona knows. She knows what Ozyllus really looked like. And it was perfectly clear from the story that the dragon was much different than Ozyllus. So it doesn’t make any sense for the dragon to look like him.
Dragon: “Well, I’m surprised you know what he looked like. Could you tell me how you learned that?”
The look on the dragon’s face is not the eerie smile that Ethan has when he asks questions or the cautious demeanor Kais has when he asks questions; it is a completely serious expression devoid of any smiles. It looked as if he is giving a message that they can’t not answer.
Sona: “None of your business.”
But even in front of that, Sona doesn’t say anything to him. It’s not like the expression hasn’t terrified her, but that she could not let that factor control her.
Dragon: “I see. What will I have to do to make you answer me?”
Sona: “Nothing, because you are dying today.”
Dragon: “That’s what you would like, wouldn’t you?”
While his attention was grabbed by the fact that the woman in front of him knows what Ozyllus looked like, he has failed to notice the movements of the spirit beside her. Death has been building up energy in its body. However, it’s a spirit so it itself is made from energy. So the correct way to say it would be that it is condensing the energy around him into his body to become more powerful than it already is.
The dragon has failed to notice this until now. However,
Dragon: “I see you are planning to attack me once you’re ready. Well, feel free to come at any time.”
With one glance, he notices it. That said, whether it affects him or not is a different matter altogether.
The confidence in his voice irritates Sona, but she knows full well that the dragon is capable of defeating both of them and so the confidence is not really a problem for him.
Death grits its teeth and looks intently at the dragon, the intent being murderous. Even if the dragon is more powerful, Death has suffered enough humiliation to lose control and go berserk. Sona knew from the start this could happen, in fact, she wanted it to happen.
Dragon: “Are you sure letting your spirit succumb to anger and attack in blind rage is good for you?”
She looks at the Dragon; the expression of seriousness on his face is accompanied by hostility now. There is a hint of madness in his expressions as well but for now, she judges that it would be fine to ignore it and focus on the muscles twitching in the dragon’s arms out of his hostility.
Sona: “Are you sure letting yourself succumb to anger and attack in blind rage is good for you?”
Even if it is a pointless troll, it still satisfies her. If even that small victory brings joy to her, she wonders what will happen when she gains a real victory over him. But will she able to do it? Now, at the worst time for it to happen, doubts have come back to her mind. She has decided to completely believe in her plan, yet now she is having doubts once again.
Her irritation is at herself the most. But the dragon doesn’t understand that. To him, it is an odd change of expressions from trying to joke at him to some kind of irritation.
Dragon: “What’s going on in your head? I can never tell with you humans.”
Sona hears the dragon but doesn’t pay much attention to what he is saying, and just then, she notices.
Sona: “Well, it doesn’t matter now, it’s time.”
As soon as Sona says that, the ground beneath her feet cracked. Just in time, Sona manages to jump back, but the cause of it all stood there. Beneath the feet of the tiger-like shadowy spirit, the ground had been torn apart like paper.
Dragon: “What are you …?”
Before the dragon could finish its question, Death disappears. It takes just a second for the dragon to realize the spirit is behind him, but it is already too late. Claws have peeled the skin of the dragon’s back. The impact moves the dragon a little as he tries to gain back some momentum, but a kick comes from Death. He was hit in the same spot he had been cut and the pain worsens because of it. The kick, by itself is powerful enough to send the dragon flying towards the trees.
The clearing they were in is just a circular area devoid of trees which held the tomb in it. Trees aren’t very far from there, and the kick is powerful enough that the dragon crashes at one of them. His body had first been cut at the back, making huge amounts of blood flowing out, then it had gotten a kick at the same spot as the wound powerful enough to shatter his bones and then he had been hit a tree right where his rib cage was.
Sona: “Finally feeling like you underestimated us?”
The dragon tries to stand up, but is not able to. It’s not that his bones are broken so much that he couldn’t get up. The problem is that Death, within a second, had reached the spot where his body had fallen.
Sona: “Get him.”
Death’s paws stomp at the dragon’s body. The dragon’s priority is to try to protect itself, not to run away. He has clearly underestimated the sheer speed of his opponent. It is impossible to run away now, impossible to run from Death.
Dragon: “That hurt … quite a lot.”
Sona: “It’s just the beginning.”
Death moves back so the dragon can get up. The dragon understands that if he refuses to get up, he would get stomped over again. He also knows some sort of pain will come after he gets up, but maybe that time he would be able to defend himself.
Dragon: “But this spirit is something else I have to say.”
The fact that it has moved backwards and has started to wait for him to get up is a testament to the fact that it has not lost all of it mind yet.
Dragon: “I guess it makes sense for you to let the rage fuel inside it if it can control itself to this extent.”
The dragon had earlier asked if letting the spirit lose itself to rage is a good thing for Sona but if even after that humiliation, it doesn’t lose itself to rage, then that would rather be beneficial to her. The dragon now understands this, but
Sona: “Maybe. Or maybe you just can’t see the other possibility.”
Dragon: “Other … possibility?”
Dragon looks at Sona. His face is still serious, hostility has now become clear, but there is also an inquisitive emotion coming out on his face.
But as the dragon wonders what it means while he got up half-way through, his arms feel a certain sense of pain. That pain is not of getting hit or of bleeding, it is the pain of having something sharp piercing inside. With one glance, it is clear – Death has opened its jaw and bitten into the dragon’s arms. Just as soon as the dragon is about to react to it, the arm comes off. Death moves its jaw sideways and the arm gets detached from where it used to be.
The dragon fell a little away from the impact of the reactive force. But the beast is still near, holding his broken arm in its jaws. It throws the arm away and looks back at the dragon. The dragon says nothing but only looks back.
Sona: “I’m surprised you are not screaming in pain right now?”
Neither terror nor pain has shown up on his face. The expressions of seriousness and hostility and are still present, with some inquisition clear on his face. He looks like a helpless victim who can’t even cry in agony over what is happening to him.
But that won’t stop Death. Having fallen a little distance away from where he previously was, the dragon is near to a tree. Within a second, his head starts cracking by the impact on the tree’s trunk. The cause of this is the paw that has pushed the dragon’s head on the tree with a force that defies logic.
Dragon: “AH!!! AAH!!!”
Pain finally starts showing on his face. Little by little, the expression that clearly shows the results of the fight till now is surfacing on his face.
Sona: “Finally feeling pain?”
Sona has started to enjoy seeing the dragon get beat up. This sadistic joy was hindered till now by just one aspect – the dragon didn’t show any pain. There was no reaction from him that could assure her that he really is getting beaten up badly and is not trying to bluff it. Now that assurance has finally come.
Sona: “Death, what are you waiting for?”
Death pounces on the dragon at the same time she shouts at him. Neither Death nor Sona feel any sympathy for the dragon. No matter how miserable he looks, both have enough rage in them to ignore every other feeling that may come up.
But while Death’s rage is a result of superiority complex among high-class spirits like him, Sona’s rage is much more than that. She has suffered a lot because of this dragon, so she wouldn’t allow herself to pity him. To pity him would mean betraying everything she has worked hard for all her life.
Dragon: “That’s a sadistic smile if I have ever seen one.”
Sona realizes that she is smiling. She realizes that this isn’t something she should be smiling about, no matter how much she hates the dragon. But there is no way around it. It is happiness born out of her lifelong opponent’s defeat. If it is sadistic, so be it.
Sona: “I couldn’t care less right now.”
Her face has twisted into a smile that dampens her otherwise beautiful features. But she would not let something so simple stop her.
Sona: “Kill that bastard, Death.”
Death responds without a delay as it runs its claws on the dragon’s stomach. Blood rushes out of the wound much faster than it did when he got cut in the back.
The dragon is clearly losing the battle. In fact, calling what is happening there a battle is absurd. It is just a one-sided slaughter. But can this really be true? Can a dragon who befriended god lose to some mere spirit? Is this not an insult to other dragons that he is considered the greatest of them? If his peers were to see this, they would disown him. These thoughts run through his mind. While the expressions may not be visible on his face, every single one of them is felt by the dragon. He feels the pain, the anger, the irritation, the regret – he feels all the emotion one would feel at this point and more.
Dragon: “I did underestimate you.”
Death climbs over the dragon’s fallen body. It looks at the dragon, in his pitiful state, with a look of disdain in its eyes. What could it be thinking? Did it consider itself so superior that even now when it has already shown the dragon which one of them is stronger; it still feels rage for being belittled earlier? What an arrogant spirit? The dragon never knew spirits could be capable of being so prideful.
Dragon: “Ha! What are you – the incarnation of arrogance or something?”
Death raises its paws to finish the dragon once in for all. With the next strike, it will cut-off the head and everything will be over.
Sona: “Go on! Behead him!”
Sona cheering the beast up is out of her character, but seeing the dragon pummeled down like that, she can’t help herself.
With the next strike, the dragon will lose his life. He closes his eyes, accepting what’s about to come. And with the next strike, blood splatters everywhere. Or it should have. However, spirits don’t have blood.
The spirit named Death has died.
Sona: “What!? What’s going on?”
The dragon opens his eyes. He looks at the lifeless corpse of the spirit above his body with his lower body bathing in the dragon’s blood. The dragon had accepted his fate, the fate of becoming a murderer yet again.
Dragon: “Well, it doesn’t bother me anymore.”
He moves his gaze at the woman who has fallen to her knees with shock on her face. This woman had been so glad his enemy was going to die. Obviously, when the opposite happens, she will be shocked beyond what she can handle.
Dragon: “I truly underestimated you two.”
The dragon is not being sarcastic. He is not trying to make her feel bad. He is just saying the truth. He had truly underestimated Death. And that is why, another murder fell upon his hands.
Sona: “Why? What … does … this … mean?”
???: “I think I get what it means.”
The dragon does not feel surprised. He had sensed the presence nearby, but Sona and Death had been so focused on the fighting they had failed to notice it.
Sona: “Who’s there?”
She looks back and gets her answer automatically. Who else would it be but the only other human on the island?
Kais: “Yeah, me. I saw the whole thing go down, and I think I know why your spirit lost in the end.”
The look on Kais’ face is that of despair. He walks out of the forest into the clearing but keeps his distance from the two of them.
Dragon: “I see. I figured a psychic should be able to figure it out.”
Death’s corpse has started to vanish, a fate that awaits all spirits after death. Getting out from the remains of the spirit, the dragon stands up.
Sona: “What do you mean you know why it lost? Death was winning just a moment ago.”
Sona’s eyes are filled with shock and despair and elude an aura Kais doesn’t want to witness, but he has to come to the dragon eventually, so there is no point in backing out now.
Kais: “Hey, dragon. Your power …”
The dragon, soaked in blood turns his attention to Kais. Kais doesn’t flinch, but as always, he is ready for anything suspicious.
Kais: “It’s pretty twisted, isn’t it?”
Dragon: “In what context?”
Kais: “In the context that you hate it yourself.”
The dragon smiles, a mild smile, and then nods. It is not a grin or a frown that covers his face right now but a relieved smile on seeing someone who could understand him.
Kais: “Your power is conditional. Only when certain conditions are met, it will perform itself.”
Sona takes a look at the dragon and sees him nodding. She too understands what that could mean, but doesn’t want to believe it. So she still needs to ask about it.
Sona: “What’s that condition supposed to be?”
Kais: “The condition is – ‘Whenever anyone comes close to killing him, that individual will die’.”
Of course she knew the answer, but she just couldn’t accept it. So she forces herself to be shocked.
Kais: “If I combine that with a dragon’s regenerative abilities. It might not be that much of a stretch to say – he is immortal.”