I know, I know! You guys are going to say, “Soooooooo long!” Sorry for the length but there was no way I could possibly shorten this without ruining the transitions or the chapter. It had to be perfectly descriptive so you could imagine the scenes in your head. I wanted to explore the characters’ psyches more and believed that some characters needed to be more badass. Besides, it’s quite ironic that Chapter 60 would have 60 parts (not including the author’s notes). I only wrote one chapter for this volume so just consider this a makeup for the chapter I didn’t write.
This chapter will tied up the events from my previous one and the title of Chapter Forty-Six will now make sense after reading. I know that there are many parts but I have separated each sub-arc with ++++ so you know when to take a break. For kicks, I decided to add four omakes to certain parts of the chapter (these events didn’t happen but it would be funny if they actually did) and a poll so keep track on how long it takes you to read the chapter! Another thing you could do is watch how much smaller the scroll bar gets after clicking every spoiler tag (I’ve done this a lot).
I hope you enjoy reading and that you like the twist.
Lione shuffled through his piles of paper, franticly searching for the funding request form. He still wasn’t used to the new location despite the fact that the move occurred over six months again. The branch leader was still adjusting to the change in scenery and environment. The climate in Boston was much cooler and rain seemed to be drawn to the area. Still, the city was more populated and supplies could be easily replenished. The female exorcists definitely appreciated the shops, which were sparse in Jamestown.
He looked down at his desk and sighed. He felt burdened by all the work assigned to him and despite his best effort to finish on time, it appeared that it just kept piling up. Sometimes, he wished that everything would magically be done or that he could just quit. However, something always brought him back to his senses. Maybe it was his attachment to his subordinates or perhaps his fear of what would happen if he disappeared. A better reason would be the fact that Komui would kill him if he quit.
Something sparkling caught the corner of his eyes and he turned to see a clear, brown bottle glistening to the sun. It laid a unique, clear prism on his desk and he couldn’t help but admire it. Lione was trying his best not to drink any drop of rum. He shuddered as he somewhat remembered the last time he got drunk.
Stress from his responsibilities and the fallout with the Brown family had caused the branch leader to retreat to one of the local pubs. Normally, he would drink responsibly and never to the point of blacking out. However, he threw all caution to the wind and just let himself go. Rum was his best friend and confidante for the night and he was going to make the best of it.
He had no idea how he managed to get back to headquarters (he would later find out that Madeline and Flames had dragged him back from the pub; everyone was worried since Lione had been missing for several hours) and he recalled little about that night. The only thing that he could remember was a beautiful woman with subtle green hair and a kind, mischievous face.
Part of him regretted not asking for her name or any sort of information that he could use to track her down. For some odd reason, she seemed different from most women whom he had met. As his fingers rubbed against the bottle neck, Lione secretly hoped to meet her some day particularly after his days as an exorcist were over.
The exorcist quickly put the rum bottle into a drawer. It was silly of him to reminisce about a lady whom he would never meet again. Besides, it would only bring back another painful memory—something that he never wanted to experience again.
Though drinking away his sorrow appeared like a good idea at the time, Lione deeply regretted that decision the next morning. Waking up, his body felt numb like he was experiencing an out of body experience. Suddenly, he felt the sudden urge to go to the bathroom and he spent most of the day in there. The branch leader still couldn’t return to the room without feeling ashamed of his actions.
Any sound no matter how light it may be caused his head to ache which made it unfortunate that Eny decided to continue her cat search. Screams of “FERMIUM, WHERE ARE YOU? HAS ANYONE SEEN MY CAT?” pierced his head like swords. Only after Lione posted the sign proclaiming “NO SOUNDS OF ANY SORT ALLOWED OR YOU’LL FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTION PERSONALLY! ” did silence in his wing of headquarter return.
As he looked out the window, Lione sighed and thought about his first encounter with Amiti. Despite the fact that he was near death, his emerald green eyes had a fire within them that relayed urgency. What information could this Bookman have that he was willing to die just to tell him? If it could help the exorcists, then it was more than what Lione expected of him.
:: flashback starts ::
Lione stared at the Bookman in front of him in disbelief. How could the person not complete the sentence? Leaving him in suspense was not a cool thing to do especially to a person deeply stressed or captivated by the moment. It could give someone a heart attack.
Noticing that he had the branch leader’s attention, Amiti cleared his throat and responded, “The Noahs are on the move. My brother and I unfortunately stumbled upon a camp which was rumored to be run by a Noah. After recording what we observed, Ahiram and I left. We just saw a lot of topless men so we thought it was THAT kind of camp. However, I guess the rumors were true since we were attacked on the way to Jamestown.”
Lione stared at him intently; the boy was slowly gaining his trust but he didn’t want the Bookman to know. If Amiti knew, he probably would not reveal any more. And the boy’s change in demeanor startled him; he appeared meek and frail at first but the person lying on the bed was cold and malevolent. However, the branch leader brushed it off as post traumatic syndrome disorder; it was expected from anyone who witnessed a loved one’s brutal murder.
“Where is this camp?” demanded the exorcist. The redhead calmly took a sip of water and stared pensively at his mug. He retorted somewhat mockingly, “My, my! How your attention has changed within a minute! If I tell you, what do you plan to do with me?” The Bookman did not see the point in revealing too much if he was going to be tossed away.
Lione tried his best to contain his annoyance. The world was endangered by the Earl and his allies and Amiti was acting rather selfishly. “Protect you, of course! There is no point in letting you become easy prey to the Noahs.” Apparently, this answer satisfied the boy for he smiled and replied, “It’s up north in Massachusetts. There, you will find the Noah base.”
If it wasn’t for Amiti, HQ would not have been relocated in such an abrupt manner. Boxes still remained unpacked and some of the staff still could not locate important files or research. The dust from the dilapidated church above was irritating his allergies every time he rode the elevator down to the base. No matter how hard he tried, this base did not feel like home.
However, the move did save them especially after Zeran’s destruction of the original branch. Lione shuddered at the thought of losing everything so the current chaos seemed acceptable. Besides, he was eternally grateful for Amiti. If it wasn’t for that bit of knowledge the Bookman provided, the exorcists would not have been prepared for the enemies’ advances. “The Noahs are heading north, huh? I wonder what is so important there.”
As the sun was beginning to rise, the exorcist yawned. He had pulled all-nighters before but as he grew older, it was beginning increasingly difficult to do so. He closed his eyes until something caught his attention. Straining his eyes, he noticed a black raven flying towards the building and landing on a tree in the courtyard. Lione stared hard at the bird and wondered what the harbinger of death was trying to tell him.
The cold air caused the girl to shiver and she grabbed the arms in front of her. As much as she admired him, Magier questioned his sudden interest in visiting the sea. It’s not like he hadn’t seen water before.
Before she could open her mouth to ask, I.A. muttered, “Why are we here? It’s so cold in this filthy region. The sea salt is affecting my breathing and you know that I hate sudden, long trips.” He was shivering as much as Magier even though he was wearing pants.
Jacques stopped walking and turned around. Giving his companions a stealth look, the former priest replied, “I thought that we needed a break from being cramped in the camp. Besides, we still needed to do the job that the Duke Millennium had assigned us so I doubt he would appreciate our prolonged stay.”
Magier dug her nails into his arm and laid her head against it. He was surprisingly warm and she was hoping to steal a bit of his escaping body heat. Jacques turned in her direction and ruffled her hair. “What’s wrong? Are you cold? I thought that you were a big girl and could handle these conditions. None of my guardians complained about the trip and they left earlier than we did.”
The Noah shot back, “I’m wearing a skirt! When you start walking in a skirt in these conditions, then you can talk! Besides, your guardians left camp when it was sunny and warm out; we left in the middle of the night!” After saying that, she turned her face away from Jacque; she was afraid to see Jacques’ reaction to her outburst. In her mind, she pleaded, “Please, don’t punish me!"
I.A. started laughing so hard that his stomach started to ache. He couldn’t stop and nor did he desire to do so. He was starting to feel warm from all of this chuckling. “My, my! Someone didn’t wake up on the right side of bed this morning! I guess that means that she didn’t have pleasant dreams about Jacques last night. Did they concern Gabrielle?”
Magier quickly tried to draw her sword, threatening “You little brat!” The mere mention of that woman’s name angered the Noah. If she could, she would have killed that guardian a long time ago. However, this would upset her older brother and she could not bear seeing his reaction to her action. Perhaps, if there was an accident… these thoughts were exciting her.
Before she could strike I.A. down, Jacques held Magier’s hand down and whispered, “For people who have been complaining the entire time, you guys have a lot of energy to spend bickering with one another.” He released the girl’s hand and commanded, “Magier, stay close to me!” The Noah shifted his body, cleverly turning the girl’s face away from I.A. He glared at him and forcibly admonished, “You walk on the other side of her! We’ll act as a wind barrier for her for the rest of the journey.”
“How much longer are we going to travel?” complained I.A. He could no longer feel his legs due to all this walking. He looked at Jacques who appeared to be distracted by something. “Jacques?”
Jacques faced his brethrens and assured them, “We’re almost there. I’m just waiting for something. Let’s sit down and rest for a while. It’ll be a long day for us today so we might as well rest while we still can.”
Upon hearing that, Magier and I.A. collapsed and lay on the soft, firm earth. “I never thought that we could ever stop,” muttered the girl and she glanced sweetly at Jacques who was leaning against a strong oak. However, he didn’t seem to notice as he kept glazing at the city before him. It appeared dead in the middle of the night.
Despite the fact that he wasn’t looking in her direction, this satisfied the female Noah; with the moon reflecting off his face, he looked like a philosopher who was trying to gain enlightenment about the world around him as well as a general who was about to lead his army into a bloody battle. The look suited him well.
The rest lasted around three hours. Magier and I.A. were lying next to each other in order to keep warm and both were about to fall asleep when Jacques commanded, “Get up! It’s time to go!” Both of his companions shot up and looked around confused. It was so sudden and unexpected. Besides, they were just getting comfortable.
“What? What happened? Why do we have to get up now?” said I.A. as he began to yawn. The sun was now rising, radiating the world with its warm glow. Magier squinted her eyes and jerked suddenly. “What is that?” as she pointed to a light shining in the distant.
Jacques smirked and helped his two siblings up. “A friend.”
The knee high waters were cool and refreshing and the faint scent of jasmine lingered in the air. The cicadas were buzzing and birds could be heard chirping in the distance. It’s been a while since she had been in the area but Stephanie knew that she was home. She always hated working the rice paddy fields since the work was tiresome and repetitive. However, deep inside, she kind of missed it. Life might have been hard but it was simpler and less troublesome. She did not have to worry about saving the world or whether her life will end that day.
As she waddled by some stray lotuses, the exorcist headed towards the shore in order to visit her old home. No matter how much she tried, the land seemed to be moving farther and farther away from her as if it was teasing her. Frustrated, she screamed and slammed the water with her fist, forming ripples that spread throughout the field.
Oddly, her reflection did not match her appearance. Despite the fact that the girl in the water had the body of a seventeen year old, she wore clothing best suited for a twelve year old and had two pigtails that intertwined together at their ends. She appeared to be innocent, uncorrupted. Where am I?
Suddenly, some thing slithered by Stephanie’s legs, causing her to jump. It felt like a snake and moved by so quickly that the Asian had no time to register what it was. She stared at the water again in order to catch a glimpse of it but nothing showed up. She sighed and muttered, “It’s just my imagination. It probably was a lotus root or something.”
When Stephanie continued her attempt to reach the shore, she felt like she had a target on her back. Every so often she would turn around only to see nothing but endless fields. Her surroundings had suddenly become eerily quiet; only when she moved did the sound of splashing water echoed throughout the area. The trek was proving tireless now; her feet were getting stuck to the mud as if the earth did not want her to leave. Her legs were becoming numb due to the water and she really wanted to sleep.
“I’ll eventually get home so I might as well just keep going,” she assured herself. As she tried to lift her right leg, it got snagged against something and she reach down to release it. When she did that, green ribbons swept past her face and before she could react, they wrapped around the neck, attempting to bring her down.
Stephanie quickly ripped them away from her and started running to the land. More ribbons lunged at her and she dodged them. The exorcist turned around to face her opponent but no one stood before her. Still she was not going to take a risk and commanded, “INNOCENCE ACTIVATE!”
Unfortunately, nothing happened. Her red ribbons, which she always sported proudly on her long black hair, had disappeared, leaving her defenseless against a dangerous enemy. In complete denial, she spoke again, “INNOCENCE ACTIVATE” and yet again, nothing occurred. What was it? Could it be that her Innocence was refusing to respond because she was not its conformer yet?
“Damn,” muttered the exorcist as she sprinted towards the shoreline. Strangely, the land seemed to sense her urgency since unlike earlier, it moved closer and closer to the girl. The enemy was still attacking as if it knew that it would lose its prey the instance she stepped foot upon the coast. More threads were sent in Stephanie’s direction that it was becoming more impossible to evade the attacks.
Fifty yards (45.72m) away from the shore, the opponent caught her, wrapping a green ribbon around the exorcist’s right arm. Stephanie still kept moving but it kept becoming increasingly difficult as more and more bands enfolded her. She was so close to the shore and yet so far.
Despite the enemy’s best effort, the exorcist finally landed on the soft ground and frantically tried to stay on it. She unluckily fell and the pull of the ribbons became increasingly stronger. As she dug her nails into the soft earth, she felt herself slipping into the water. She growled and tried to drag herself; she knew that if she fell any further, it was over.
As if it could sense her determination, a new barrage of ribbons was sent, enveloping the exorcist and making it impossible to see her. Her grip on the soft ground was slipping and her body was growing weaker. A sense of fear and terror entered her mind as she splashed into the water. The ribbons were holding her down and every time she struggled, their hold on her grew tighter. As she felt herself losing consciousness, she slowly breathed her last breath.
The girl jerked up from her bed and started panting. She brought her hands over her eyes and muttered, “It was only a dream.” Her entire body was covered with sweat and her arms were trembling. Despite the fact that she came to the realization that it was just a nightmare, Stephanie couldn’t help but feel like she actually lived it.
“Hey, are you okay?” came a quiet voice from across the room. The exorcist turned her head towards Tabitha’s direction and replied, “Yeah. I was just having a weird dream-- nothing that I can’t handle.”
“Oh my god, it’s six o’clock in the morning!” complained Rinvak. She had gone to bed late due to training and a little flirting. Besides, the longer she could avoid the girls’ dormitory, the better. It’s not like she did not like the room. Each gender was sequestered to separate ends of the base and the rooms were enormous. Everyone had a bed and dresser made from mahogany so she could not complain about the furnishing. What she could not stand living with girls she considered immature. She shot a dirty glare at Tabitha, hoping that the exorcist would get the hint and go back to bed. Stephanie said that she was going to be fine so stop talking, she thought.
“Oh, someone’s cranky!” mumbled Tabitha as she crept from her bed. She was thirsty and was heading to the sink to get some water. “Hey, where are you going?”
Stephanie had gotten off from her bed and putting her exorcist top on. “Oh, I’m just going to go for a short walk just to ease my mind. I’ll be back shortly so just head back to bed.” She grabbed her shoes and started to head out.
“Wait!” whispered Tabitha. The exorcist poked her head back into the room and replied, “What?!” The teenager threw Stephanie’s capri and commented, “Your pajama shorts doesn’t match the top. You’ll look funny if you went out like that!” She placed her cup on her dresser and tucked herself back to bed.
Stephanie caught the bottoms and gave Tabitha a weird look. “Thanks… I guess,” said Stephanie as she quickly changed and left, accidentally slamming the door behind her. Rinvak left out a loud groan and grumbled, “She’s going to see Blade.”
“Oooooooo… young love! How cute!” remarked Tabitha. “Speaking of which, how are things with Amiti and you? You should go and see him now.” This only resulted in Rinvak’s throwing her pillow at her, knocking her cup of water all over her bed.
“Hey what was that for?” demanded the exorcist. She had quickly fallen asleep only to have a pillow slammed into her face and cold water spilled all over her bed. Tabby glared at Rinvak and angrily said, “That was a rude thing to do especially when I was going back to bed.”
On the other side of the room, Eny was trying her best not to giggle so loud. In her free time, she had created a machine that could convert her voice to another else’s and in this instance, she chose Tabitha’s. Even though she had muffled her laughter with her pillow, her entire bed was shaking. Ever since she had lost her beloved cat, she decided that if she was going to suffer, someone else would too. That someone she decided would be Tabitha and she spent most of her time and effort on achieving this goal.
:: whack :: Something hard hit the girl’s head and she jumped up from her bed, only to face the angry eyes of Tabitha. “That was uncalled for! You shouldn’t be blaming me for your actions!” scolded Eny as she hid her invention into her pajama pocket.
“How did you do it? I know that it was you so don’t even deny it, you little twerp. Where did you put it?” the exorcist coldly demanded. She was pissed and whoever crossed her was going to feel her wrath. The Bookwoman backed away only to have Tabitha grab her.
“Don’t think I have forgotten all the pain and suffering you made me go through earlier. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to escape from my parents and to come back here?” the exorcist growled as she lifted Eny up. All the anger she had pent up was now getting released and Eny was the unfortunate target. “You pissed off the wrong person.”
:: flashback starts ::
“Mom! Dad! You’re both being ridiculous and irrational!” yelled Tabitha as she was dragged from headquarters into the quiet streets of Boston. Tears were streaming down her face and in a distance she could hear distant screams from the Black Order headquarter aimed at someone. “Let go of me! You have no idea what you’re doing right now.”
Her protests instead caused her parents to quicken their pace and to tighten their grasps on her arms. The exorcist still struggled but it only tired her out more. She could her parents muttering, “My God, they have brainwashed her. We need to get her away from their horrible reaches!”
Before she knew it, she was back in her childhood home—a place that she had not been for years. Tabby was brought to her room and locked inside. Apparently her parents learned from previous experience since her windows were barred causing the girl to sigh in exasperation. Escape seemed impossible this time; what was a crafty teenager to do?
“Tabitha, I’m opening the door right now so stay away from it,” said Mrs. Brown as she unlocked the door. The exorcist wanted to make a run for it but when she did, she only ran into her father’s arms. “We’re leaving this god forsaken city to visit your grandmother in Washington D.C. The farther away we are from here, the better for your head.”
A part of Tabby’s mind went into panic mode; she could only imagine her ultra old-fashioned grandmother’s expression if she saw her right now. “Stand up straight. Good heavens, what on earth are you wearing? How many rosaries do you want me to say to repent for your sins?” This was a fate worse than hell.
“You can’t do this!” protested the exorcist. “By doing this, you’re saying that Edward’s death was in vain. You’re only helping the Earl in his mission. Can’t you see that?” This outburst only resulted in her getting a slap from her mother. Mrs. Brown glared at her only surviving child and coldly scolded, “You little ingrate! Don’t you ever use your brother to propagate that cult’s lies?!” With that, the Brown family abandoned their brick home and headed towards the train station.
As expected, the train station was quiet at night. Most people preferred to leave for their destination during the day. Only those that wished to escape and vanish would leave at unusual hours and tonight it seemed that the Browns wanted to join these people.
Mr. Brown tightly gripped Tabitha’s arm as they wanted for the train to D.C. The trip would take a few days, which disgusted the exorcist. Long train rides were boring but being around two grief-stricken and irrational people would make the trip unbearable. She had to find a way out.
A loud whistle snapped the girl out of her thoughts. The train had arrived and she felt her parents push her into their respective compartment. Unlike the posh train booth that she was used to staying in, the Browns stayed in a bare and uncomfortable one. She sat down near the window and watched as Boston grew farther into the distance.
Around 2 o’clock in the morning, Tabitha noticed that her parents were drifting into unconsciousness. Her mother sat right across from her while her father was next to her, blocking her way into the aisle. She closed her eyes and listened carefully to her surroundings. Her father’s snores and her mother’s light breathing alerted the exorcist that they had finally fallen asleep.
Carefully, she tiptoed around her parents’ feet, quietly thanking the luck that both of her parents were deep sleepers. She slowly opened the door, which unfortunately creaked. The exorcist stopped and looked at her parents. They both turned towards the window, muttering about how much they hated the Order, how they wanted to punch Lione, and how stupid Tabitha was. Silently saying farewell to her parents, she sneaked out to the hall and sprinted to the exit.
The train was moving pretty fast and Tabitha knew that it would be dangerous to jump at this rate. She was already several miles away from headquarter and the longer she stayed on the train, the distance would increase. The exorcist muttered a quick prayer as she jumped into the darkness.
“Innocence, activate! Goddess song!” she ordered. A spirit appeared and caught Tabby before she hit the ground. “Thanks!” expressed the grateful girl as she got off the spirit’s arms. She was experiencing the greatest adrenaline rush at that moment and immediately started running towards the distant city.
She couldn’t wait to see everyone and his/her reactions upon seeing her unexpected return. Lione would probably freak out and send a message to her parents, which they probably wouldn’t receive due to the distance between Boston and the capitol city and the Browns’ refusal to read anything associated with the Order. Rinvak would definitely roll her eyes and sigh. Stephanie would welcome her back with a hug and force Blade to do the same. Flames would smile in amusement but would not say anything. The new Finder Daniel would give her his usual toothy grin and greet, “Howdy, kiddo!” Ying would flash her usual smile while Amiti certainly would not notice since he lived in the library. And Eny… well, Tabitha could not wait to see her.
:: flashback ends ::
As she pushed the Bookwoman to the ground, Tabitha couldn’t help but feel so much better. All her fury was finally released and she knew that Eny finally got what was coming to her. She swore that no misfortunate would ever touch her or her loved ones again and was adamant on keeping that promise.
As they rolled on the floor fighting, Rinvak got up and snatched Stephanie’s pillow from the bed next to her. She covered her head with it and sighed. It was looking like a great start to a horrible day.
As she walked down the corridor, Stephanie knew that once she came back Rinvak was going to get on her case. That girl really appreciated her beauty sleep so her slamming the door did not help the situation. She reasoned that if Rinvak did not waste her time flirting with the new guy she might have gotten her work done sooner and thus, would have gone to bed earlier.
When she arrived to the boys’ area, she quickly held her breath and ventured in. For some odd reason, this side of the living quarters always smelled like dirty laundry and sweat. The girls’ side had a flowery scent even though it had been occupied for the same time as the boys; what did the guys do to their side?
Upon arriving at her destination, the exorcist knocked the door and entered. She almost tripped on the dirty shirt that was lying on the floor and she stared in disbelief. The “floor” was covered with clothes, books, and papers; even their beds had stuff lying on them.
The room layout was quite similar to the girls (minus the mess, of course). Five mahogany beds were lined up with three beds on each side of the room; two of them were left unoccupied, awaiting the return of the two missing members. Amiti’s bed was empty though it was left unmade. He was an early to bed, early to rise type of person. The Bookman was the only person who willingly went to bed at nine and wake up at five to get work done. It didn’t help that he was now obsessed with the Pandora’s Box that Rinvak and he bought.
Opposite of Amiti’s area laid Flames in deep sleep. Unlike his counterpart, he liked to stay up deep into the night and wake up late. Even though he had a new Innocence, it appeared that the werewolf deep inside him remained. She looked at him somewhat enviously. Despite the fact that she and Blade had become “official”, he spent most of his time with the native, trying to find the mysterious Hephaestus. Sometimes, she wondered if she had to compete with her fellow exorcist just to get some alone time with the Bookman.
She waded through the mess until she came to Blade’s bed. He reminded her of angel and she couldn’t help but admire him. She shook his shoulder until he woke up. He yawned and groaned, “Huh? What’s going on?”
Now alert enough, he smiled and teasingly flirted, “Oh, hello, lady! What honor do I have to be graced by your presence?” He quickly moved his blanket so she could sit down next to him. She sat down and kissed his forehead as he caressed her hair. As she began telling him her nightmare, he brought himself up and rubbed her back to comfort her.
After she finished her story, he looked at her with concern and consoled, “It’s okay, Stephanie! I’m here and everyone here is safe. There’s no need to worry. Why don’t you lie next to me and just go back to sleep. Everything will be okay in the morning.”
Unfortunately, this was not what Stephanie wanted to hear for she got off his bed. She glared at him and retorted, “First off, I’m not a five year old. Second, even if I were or acted like one, you’re not my mom! I feel like you didn’t listen to me.” Blade quickly jumped from his bed and tried to calm her down, saying, “Of course I listened to you. You were telling me about your dream but it’s just a dream.”
She looked at him for a second and sighed, “Okay, what was my dream about?” The Bookman looked at her blankly and guessed, “It was about the Earl?” This only infuriated the exorcist as she released herself from his hug. As she stormed off, tripping every so often, she muttered, “Maybe if I was Flame or knew anything about Hephaestus, you would pay attention to me. I’m going outside.” When she arrived at the door, she opened it and left, slamming the door.
Blade sighed and went to grab a clean shirt. “You better go after her,” groaned Flames who overheard the entire conversation. “She’s probably stressed out from training and worried about everyone else.” Seeing the young couple in front of him brought back many fond and frustrating memories of Poloma and him.
The Bookman nodded and quickly grabbed his shoes and Innocence. Through his research as a Bookman, he knew that when a woman was mad, it was best for a man to get back on her good side. Otherwise, his life would be hell.
As he headed towards the elevator, Blade recalled the advice Flames shouted at him when he was about to exit the room. “Admit that you were not paying any attention but say it in a romantic way.” He sighed as he pushed the up button. How could he admit fault without angering Stephanie more?
:: ding :: The elevator door opened and the Bookman rushed in, slamming the “L” button. He paced the floor, pondering what he should say to convey his feelings that he actually did care for his girlfriend and that he did not take her feelings lightly.
The elevator beeped, alerting Blade that he had arrived at his floor. He grabbed his Innocence and ran through the church. Dust flies around him, causing him to cover his mouth in order to prevent him from coughing. Though it was a clever disguise, the messiness of the top level was somewhat annoying.
When he arrived outside, the Bookman looked around swiftly, searching for any moving object. In the distance, he noticed a female walking slowly along the trail leading to the city. Sprinting towards her direction, he screamed, “Stephanie, wait!”
Stephanie turned around and smiled. A manic man was heading in her direction and she knew only one person would be crazy enough to do that. She paused just to make his trip easier and awaited his arrival.
When he stopped in front of her, she chuckled, “Do you know how ridiculous you look! Your shirt is wrinkled and your pants are unzipped. You have horrible bed hair. You look like a bum!” Blade who was panting the entire time checked himself out and started laughing. “I was in such a rush to see you that I didn’t care what I looked like.”
After calming done, Stephanie stood up straight and inquired haughtily, “So why are you here? It’s obvious from your appearance that you aren’t here to impress the ladies.” Blade placed his arms around her waist and replied charmingly, “I don’t need to impress the ladies. I already have one.” He noticed her blushing and continued, “I’m sorry that I was not listening to you earlier. I was tired and the sound of your voice was so enchanting I thought I was in a dream.”
Stephanie turned and slapped his face lightly. “That was the corniest and cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard.” Blade was nervous now; he thought he understood what Flame had told him but he guessed he didn’t. Suddenly, he felt a finger on his lip and a soft voice spoke, “But I’ll forgive you just this once.”
He breathed out a sigh of relief and silently praised Flame. In his happiness, he brought Stephanie closer to him and kissed her. He must have startled her because she struggled at first. Eventually, she stopped and tightened her hold around his neck.
As she pulled herself away from him, she whispered, “I think we should head back before everyone wondered what happened to us.” Blade smiled sheepishly and nodded. They started their trek back, holding hands in awkward silence. Every time they glanced at each other, they quickly turned away and smiled.
“So I think that kiss was a lot better the last one,” began the Bookman. Stephanie looked at him puzzled as he continued, “The first one we shared, I believe I was ‘asleep’.” Stephanie’s eyes widened in horror and she screamed, “You were awake the entire time?!?!” He slowly backed away and explained, “I wasn’t awake the entire time. I was asleep until you kissed me. Think of it like a Cinderella story.”
Enraged, Stephanie started to storm back, grumbling, “He was awake the entire time! I feel like a fool,” Blade ran after her, scolding himself for bringing it unto himself again. When will he ever learn? “Stephanie, wait! I’m not saying that it was a bad thing…”
Unexpectedly, she stopped but it wasn’t because Blade was calling her. When he finally caught up with her, the exorcist asked her companion, “When you came out here, did you feel the cold presence of the barrier?” He thought about it for a minute and answered, “Now that you mentioned it, I did. It occurred really fast because I was in a rush to catch up with you but I did sense it. Why do you ask?”
Stephanie started swinging her arms back and forth. “I don’t sense it. There were no cold chills or any sensation at all. It’s like it’s vanished.” She looked at him with concern and he knew that it only meant one thing. “Someone removed the barrier.”
However, before he could move, Stephanie pushed him out of the way and ordered, “Innocence activate!” Her red ribbons blocked the green bands that headed in their direction. “It’s been a while, sister.”
The Akuma smiled evilly from her hiding place in the trees. “Good morning to you, sister! Though I doubt our dear mother would appreciate you cuddling your boy toy in public. She always hated PDA.” She turned to Blade who looked offended to be called that and greeted, “So you’re courting my sister. I must tell you that my family has very high standards and that you must receive our approval before seeing her. However, since I’m the only surviving relative, I guess you just have to impress me.” She quickly aimed a barrage of ribbons in his direction only to have been repelled by her sister’s.
“I won’t let you harm him,” Stephanie replied darkly and tossed her sister aside. The Akuma looked amused and joked, “You must really like him. After all you’re more than willing to die for him.” As the exorcist charged at her opponent, her twin licked her lips and prepared herself for the attack. She had a lot of rage pent up from the last battle and she couldn’t wait to release it.
“Stephanie!” screamed Blade as he headed in her direction. However, a blade appeared in front of him and he barely managed to dodge the attack. After landing on the ground, the Bookman stared at his opponent. The girl appeared to be an innocent schoolgirl appearance and he could easily mistake her as someone’s younger sister. But the girl had a dark, evil presence around her that sent chills up his spine.
He stood up and raised his katana. “Get out of my way!” He was in no mood to fight a child nor did he have the time to do so. He had to help Stephanie and warn HQ, which was a good distance away, about the danger. Still, he could not determine if the person in front of him was an Akuma or Noah; if it was the former, it would not be much of a problem compared to the latter.
Magier looked at him quizzically and grinned. “Why are you in a rush? Don’t you want to fight me?” Her skin was becoming darker and bloody crosses appeared on her forehead. Blade toughened his stance, thinking that it was just his luck that he had to face a Noah.
When he didn’t answer, she glared at him and taunted, “We’ve been watching you two the entire time. At first we were going to attack your girl since she was easy prey but then you showed up.” Her face was growing darker and more intense. “We saw you laughing and flirting. Seeing you happy made me sick!” and she swung her sword recklessly at Blade.
The Bookman had no idea how he managed to block the erratic blows from the Noah but somehow he did. He pushed her back as he started heaving. She was strong and formidable despite her fragile appearance. He had to be careful around her but it was going to be a hard and long battle.
Magier started laughing, shocking the exorcist. In her mind, she replayed the happy couple earlier and part of her wanted to throw up. And yet, part of her wanted to be like that. Why couldn’t Jacques be that way to her? Why wouldn’t he like her kiss him or hold him? Why couldn’t he love her like that? She stared at Blade and threatened, “It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a good fight. Don’t worry about your girl and concentrate on your battle. Do your best to keep up with me, Mr. Bookman.”
Ever since their childhood, the sisters had fought each other. Even their mother claimed the moment they were conceived, the twins started their long rivalry, joking about all the kicking she had to suffer through her long nine months. They fought for attention, toys, whatever siblings could bicker about. Therefore, one could conclude that the current clash was nothing new but a continuation of their war.
“Why must all little sisters be like annoying flies? I wonder if I should test your creativity,” screamed the Akuma as she sent a bombardment of ribbons shaped as spears toward her sister. The exorcist summoned her ribbons around her, causing them to act as a shield. Stephanie leapt up and started to spin her Innocence at a high speed, resembling a top.
As she aimed her ribbons at her other half, the Akuma sent her weapon to stop the drill from spinning. “Stephanie” knew that her challenge would have been answered but she wasn’t expected this much creativity.
“Owwwwwwwwwww!” yelped the twins as both collapsed to the ground. The screams startled Blade and Magier as they lowered their katanas to see what had happened. In a distance, both opponents could see two girls holding their heads in pain and a bundle between the two of them.
“You idiot! How did your ribbons got tangled in mine?” demanded the exorcist as she tried to yank her Innocence towards her. The knot looked overly complicated and it would take forever to untangle. By the time she did untangle it, Stephanie would vulnerable to any sudden attack due to the short attacking distance.
The Akuma grimaced and shot back, “Well, excuse me! You were the one who was trying to drill me and you expect me to take that willingly. Stop pulling; you’re yanking my hair! Why don’t you untie your ribbons from your damn head?”
Hearing what her sister had to say only caused the exorcist to pull harder. Having enough of it, “Stephanie” began to pull her ribbons, resulting in the exorcist to glare at her. The Akuma’s twin replied, “Why would I remove my Innocence? Like I would give you the advantage! Besides, both of my strands are tied up with yours.” Both sisters began to stare at each other and it appeared that none of them was going to budge anytime soon.
“Blade! Please come here! I need your help!” requested Stephanie when she noticed that the Bookman and the Noah was staring dumbfounded in their direction. “I need you to cut my sister’s ribbons so I can use my Innocence.” Her twin glanced at her for a second and looked like she was going to admonish her for involving an outsider to their duel.
“That’s stupid of you to request that! He’s your boyfriend so he should cut YOUR ribbons and not mine, you selfish pig,” scolded the Akuma as she then began to turn to the katana wielders’ way. “Lady Magier! Could you cut my ribbons from my bratty sister?”
The Akuma felt a slap across her face and noticed her sister standing before her. “Stop stealing my idea and get your own,” threatened the exorcist. The Level 5 (she had leveled up since the last time they met) wiped her mouth and muttered, “Don’t touch me, you brat!” as she yanked her ribbon causing the exorcist to fell backward.
As the sisters started bickering (again), Blade turned to the Noah who only gave him an unsure shrug. “Wouldn’t it be easy if we just cut both of their ribbons?”
Sirens were going off like crazy in the front section of headquarters and the base appeared to be in complete mayhem. It seemed that everyone was sleeping or working peacefully one second and then the next, it was a war zone. Lione had rushed out of his office once he heard the explosion near the elevator. To his horror, the ceiling had collapsed and a cloud of dust covered the floor. Groans from the crushed Finders and staff echoed. What could have caused the ceiling to fall in like that?
Groans later turned to screams of terror and pain. Lione quickly activated his Innocence as thousands of Level 1 and 2 Akuma began shooting from above. As his shadow swallowed the Akuma, he ran to the entrance and barricaded it to slow down the enemy’s advances. The branch leader calmed himself down silently saying a prayer for those who perished from the attack. He straightened up and headed to the command center. Lione knew that as the leader of the North American branch he had to take charge as soon as possible or the situation would become hopeless.
“Summon all available exorcists here immediately! I don’t care if you have to wake them up! Send them to me so I can give them assignments!” Lione ordered as he entered the room. Staff members sprinted from the room and headed to the dormitories. As he deactivated his Innocence to conserve energy, the exorcist turned his attention to communication personals and requested, “Send a message to the main branch and inform them about the situation.”
“Lione, what the hell is going on?” snapped Rinvak as she and the other girls entered the room. The bags under her eyes revealed that she had little sleep, explaining her crankiness. Tabitha and Eny appeared pissed but it was not due to lack of sleep or the ringing alarms. From the scratches and bruises on their bodies, Lione deduced that they got into a catfight.
The door opened and Flames walked calmly in. “I didn’t hear the alarms from my room so I apologize for not coming earlier.” Lione nodded and quickly noted, “Where are the other boys? Amiti and Blade are supposed to be in the same room as you.” He quickly turned to the girls and asked, “Where is Stephanie?”
Eny answered, “She went to go for a walk. I assume that Blade is with her since they’re always together.” Lione cussed silently to himself; this only meant two things. Either the two exorcists managed to avoid the attack or were ambushed on the way back. He prayed for the former though deep inside, he knew that it was the latter event occurred to them.
“What about Amiti?” he questioned. His subordinates looked at each other and shrugged. Rinvak began to worry as she rubbed the sparkling sapphire ring on her finger; despite the fact that she had been quite cold to him, she did truly like him. Though she could not imagine their relationship being like that of Blade and Stephanie, she did believe that there was a possibility for them to be together. Before she could say anything, Flame responded, “I haven’t seen him since last night when I went to bed. He probably is at the library since he’s been busy with his research.”
Lione sighed but knew that it was too late to send someone to search for him. He had to do with the men that he had and utilized them wisely. Suddenly, a staff member entered and shouted, “Lione, we have a problem! The Akuma have destroyed the main entrance. Estimated time for their arrival to this location is 20 minutes.”
The head exorcist slammed his fists against the desk and muttered, “Damnit!” He turned to his staff and ordered, “Evacuate the area; there’s no point in staying if you’re only going to be massacred.” Turning to the exorcists, he pointed to the youngest girls and said, “You two, lead the staff and Finders through the secret passages so you can escape!”
Tabitha protested, “Lione! I’m old and strong enough to fight. Let me stay and help you.” She wanted to prove to the branch leader that she was capable and mature enough to handle such dangerous missions but the assignment he had given her seemed simple and pointless. The Finders and staff could easily follow the paths to the exit so why did they need an exorcist to do such a task?
Lione approached her and quietly placed his hands on her shoulder. He gently spoke, “It’s not that I don’t trust your ability. This battle probably will not have a good ending and I want to ensure that at least some of us have a chance to fight another day. Do you understand?” Tabitha nodded and grabbed Eny’s hands. Sprinting out the room, she ordered, “Everyone, including you brat, follow me!”
After the staff and the two girls left the room, Lione looked at Flames and requested, “Ying and a bunch of healers are still in the medical wings. Please get there as soon as possible and get them out of there. The last thing we need is a branch with no medical staff.” The native nodded and left the room. Hopefully, he would face no enemies, making his job easier. If not, he wouldn’t mind bashing some Akuma so in the end, it didn’t matter.
Watching the exorcist disappear down the hall, the branch leader sat down on the table. Rinvak stood awkwardly before him and wondered what task he would assign her to do. Would she be a sacrificial lamb, staying behind to fight the advancing enemies? Or would she be asked to look for Amiti?
“Rinvak,” said a voice that startled her from her thoughts. Lione was looking at her with sorrowful eyes, making her think that she was going to be asked to do the first one. She always felt that Lione favored the other exorcists more so she was expecting the task. As she readied herself for his assignment, she heard him say, “I want you to come with me to find out why the barrier disappeared.”
She shot her head up and looked at him questioningly. Did she just hear what she just heard? Lione must had read her mind because he replied, “It’s not like I’m going to leave one of my own to face certain death. We need to see why the orb Flame had given us didn’t work. Besides, the library is on the way out so we can get Amiti.” She nodded and followed her leader out the door.
“You walk so slow! At this rate, the Akuma will catch up with us,” complained Eny as she stepped on Tabitha’s foot. Tabitha winced and angrily thought to herself, “One minute she’s saying that I’m walking too fast that no one can catch up and now she’s claiming that I want too slow. Make up your mind, girl!” She turned around and glared at Eny. “Well, you’re making so much noise right now that even my deceased deaf grandpa could even hear you!”
Before the girls could throw blows at each other, Daniel ran and separated the girls. “This is not a time to squabble. We’re all scared right now and the last thing we need is an exorcist and a member of the Bookman clan fighting. Let’s just get to safety and plan a strategy from there.” He released them from his grasp and started walking forward. Tabitha looked down at the ground and realized that the Finder was right. There was no time to fight with that annoying twerp and Lione expected her to lead them out safely. She got up and held her hand out Eny. The Bookwoman looked at her suspiciously but reluctantly took it.
As Tabitha pulled her up, Eny muttered, “Just because we have to work together now doesn’t mean we’re going to be best friends.” The exorcist rolled her eyes and mumbled, “As if I want to be yours.”
Tabitha pushed her way to front, grateful that she managed to grab a golem before she left. Despite his slow speed, Amadaun knew what it was going and its bright orange color stood out against the dark tunnels. Besides, it had a good pace that was perfect for leading a group through a new area. Eny had decided to stay in the back just in case someone got lost or an enemy caught up. The exorcist really liked the arrangement since it meant that the girl was far away from her, hence allowing her to keep her sanity.
The golem turned around and started making a beeping noise. A part of Tabitha wanted to jump for joy since that meant that the exit was approaching; the other part was still worried about the others left behind and was anxious about the scene that awaited them. She turned around and announced, “We’re almost there so we can rest once we are a safe distance away from the base, okay?” The Finders and the staff started smiling once they heard the news. They didn’t know how much further they could walk in the dark and the smell of the ancient tunnels was getting to them.
As if it could sense the happiness of the group, Amadaun started to speed up. Tabitha silently cursed to herself, hoping that it would slow down. She lost track of it as it rounded a corner and she stopped for a moment in order for her to hear its buzzing. “This way,” she commanded as she waved her arms to the right. In the distance she could see the orange golem head towards an earth colored door. They were almost home free.
The door unexpectedly opened and a gloved hand reached out and captured the golem. “Well, well, well! What a pleasant surprise to meet you here, pretty lady,” came a haughty voice. Tabitha jumped back and got into a fighting position. She recognized that voice and figure standing in front of her.
I.A. smiled reminding the exorcist of a clown. He crushed the golem in his hand and let the powder fall gently on the ground. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I believe the last time we met, it was in Opalo. Do correct me if I’m wrong.” By this time, Eny had pushed her way to the front, wondering what the holdup was. She gasped once she saw the dark skinned person in front of her; she had never met a Noah nor did she desire to be introduced to one.
The Noah eyed her carefully and as if he could read her mind, he introduced himself. “I am I.Amaterasu of the Noah Clan and I assume you’re from the Bookman Clan. Your service would be deeply appreciated by the Earl.” Tabitha brought her right arm in front of Eny as if she wanted to protect her from him. She wondered how on earth the Noah discovered the passage. Only those in the Order knew about it so his appearance was unexpected and suspicious. She was snapped out of her thoughts when the I.A. began laughing.
“Do you really think that you can defeat me?” teased the Noah. “Bookwoman, if you come with me, I assure you that you will be treated well and that someone—or shall I say something—will be happy to see you.” He held up a pink bow, which caused Eny to react. That belong to Fermium; how did they get her cat… and the Order couldn’t? She now knew that the Order may be good when it comes to protecting people but when it came to finding a missing feline, they were useless.
Sensing the wavering resolve of the girl, Tabitha pushed Eny back. There was no point in sacrificing one’s self just to save one dumb cat. Besides, they didn’t know if I.A. actually had it or what he planned to do after he extracted all the information from her. “I guess if you won’t surrender yourselves, I’ll have to take you by force,” he snarled as he charged at the crowd.
As the Noah came charging straight at them, the only thoughts that entered Tabitha’s mind was to protect Eny and the Finders behind her. Still, she needed to come up with something to stop her enemy. But how could she defeat someone whose ability was to turn any living thing into dust?
Before she could think of something, the exorcist witnessed something that she never expected—I.A., her opponent, fell to the ground in a quite goofy manner 20 yards (18.288 meters) away. Though the passage had been in existence for a long time, the tunnels were cramped and the ground was uneven. And unfortunately, the Noah had tripped and had potentially lowered his cool status.
As he looked up at his enemies, I.A. whispered, “Could you please overlook this and let’s try this scene again.” He was an important person after all and couldn’t bear to have anyone let alone an exorcist think lowly of him.
Eny piped up and made a hand gesture that resembled that of a Boy Scout, “Nope! I can’t allow that. As a member of the Bookman clan, I must record everything no matter how embarrassing it is.” The Noah glared at her as he rose up from the ground, “If you won’t forget it, then I’ll make you forget it!”
Tabitha stared angrily at Bookwoman next to her, thinking that an agreement with the Noah seemed like a good idea at the moment.
Flames was quite surprised to face little resistance as he made his way through the base. Every so often, the exorcist would have to battle a Level 1 Akuma but they were nothing that he couldn’t handle. The ringing of the alarms had died down, which confused the native as he ran towards the sign that proclaimed “Medical Staff Only”. It reminded him of the eerie silence of the exorcist dormitory. Why weren’t the alarms working?
“We need to get out of here now!” Flame shouted when he entered the room. The medical staff looked at him quizzically from their work benches. From the look of it, the exorcist deduced that they didn’t know about the chaos and attacks that was occurring at the moment. Some of them were conducting research or taking care of other patients as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
Ying approached him and asked monotonously, “Why do we need to go? We’re busy working right now. Is something going on?” He looked at her with alarm and told her, “Didn’t you hear from the control center? We’re under attack and need to evacuate immediately!” The medical staff then began panicking, shoving important research and items into bags. The pandemonium in the room reminded Flame of the chaos outside.
As she was packing her bag with various medicine and herbs, Ying answered Flame, “We lost communication with the control center early this morning. We also didn’t hear any alarms so we couldn’t have known that we were under enemy attack.” The native glanced at her with concern and started to head over to the back.
“Where is the alarm located?” he asked as he examined the room carefully. The healer pointed to the box which was above the door leading to the patients’ beds. He immediately ran over and observed it with interest. Suddenly, he broke through the box and yanked the machine out of its socket. “What are you doing?” questioned a medical officer. It appeared that the exorcist was losing his mind.
Flames ignored the inquiry and continued pulling out the alarm. Wires were ripped away from the walls, causing them to crumble. As the debris fell, the staff covered their faces and debated whether they should sedate the native. He appeared to be causing more harm than good and he was beginning to frighten them.
Before they could make their move, the exorcist stopped. He was holding a piece of wire in his hand and looked shocked. Ying approached him and asked, “What’s the matter?” She looked at him intently, wondering what was bothering him. Flame handed her the wire he held in his hand and responded, “The wire has been cut.”
A voice from under a table shouted, “Of course, it’s cut! You pulled it out!” A murmur of agreement was heard throughout the room as the staff sensing that it was safe to leave their hiding place ventured out. Flame shook his head and explained, “These wires weren’t cut because of me. Notice how they were cleanly cut with a sword or knife. Someone intentionally did not want us to know about the attacks.”
Flames quickly gathered the entire medical staff together and peered out the door. The hallway was cleared and it was quiet. It appeared secure enough to bring them out and he knew that the secret passage leading to the exit was only a few meters away. As long as he could lead the group there, it would be okay.
The exorcist signaled the staff to follow him and they complied. The walk was made in awkward silence and Flames couldn’t help but feel like there was a target on his back. The fact that no enemy was encountered was suspicious and strange. Still, he did not want the others to be alarmed and kept his qualms to himself.
As he approached the hidden passage, he felt a burning sensation all over his body. As tattoos appeared on his skin, he grabbed his spear and pushed the medical staff back. A group of Level 2’s charged but they proved no match for Flames—he was one of the top exorcists due to his extensive experience and disciplined training.
“Come on! Let’s pick up the pace before more come into the area!” beckoned the exorcist as he and others ran through the corridor. The secret exit was around the corner and the sooner they get there, the better. A wall stood in front of them but Flames knew better; a door that the Finders had cleverly disguised was there and it would allow them to escape.
As he was about to open the door, his hand felt a sudden shock and Flames immediately pulled it back. His hand was bleeding and he turned his attention to the direction of the shooter. There stood a woman holding a rifle with smoke coming out of it; she was surrounded by two men each bearing their own weapon.
“Good morning, savage,” Gabrielle greeted as her white form-fitting dress swayed. She appeared like an angel but Flames knew that she was a demon in disguise. As he grasped his hand, he quickly slammed his body into the wall, creating an opening for the medical staff. As he grimaced in pain, he yelled, “Everyone, go to the passage and escape! I’ll stall them until you’re a safe distance away.”
“But Flames,” Ying protested. “You’re wounded. Let us heal you first and then we’ll leave.” The exorcist angrily shook his head and replied, “There’s no time for that. Leave now!” The staff looked at him bewildered and then entered into the tunnel. Ying was the last to leave and gave Flame a disapproving look before she disappeared into the darkness.
Flame turned to Jacques’ three guardians and growled, “I will be your opponent. There is no need to involve them in this battle.” Holding a dark hand axe, Raphael laughed and replied, “It doesn’t matter if we let them go or not. Lord I.Amaterasu will take care of them. We’re only here to cage the wolf.” Drawing their weapons, the guardians faced their opponent sternly. Flames smiled back despite his worries that he might lose control today.
Rinvak was surprised by the speed they were traveling. As she ran to catch up with Lione, she noted that she had never been to this section of headquarters before. The only people authorized to enter this area was Madeline and Lione, resulting in rumors that the branch leader was having an affair with the nun. Of course, no one believed it but people like to joke about the possibility.
“How much farther are we from the library?” she asked. Lione glanced at her and answered, “There’s a secret shortcut to the library nearby that only Madeline and I know about but we should find out why the orb gave out on us. I’m positive that Amiti will be all right; if he could survive a Noah attack, he can survive anything.” He shot a smile at her, hoping that it would comfort her.
It must have done the trick because Rinvak starting to quicken her pace. The room where the orb was located appeared before the two and Lione stopped before the door. He placed his hands on the scanner until the machine went, “Access granted.” The metal entrance opened, revealing a magnificent room that caused Rinvak’s mouth to open.
The room was surrounded with countless stone Ionic columns. Lights sparkled in the rotunda and the pillars encircled a single round altar. Lione walked forward and his steps echoed throughout the room, breaking the silence. “Rinvak, do you plan on staying back there all day?”
The girl snapped out of her daze and nodded. The closer she walked toward the center, the more splendid the room appeared. However, she knew that she had a job to do and walked up to Lione who was now at the altar. He didn’t appear to be the Lione that she knew and recognized as her leader. Instead, he seemed lost and confused. “Lione?”
He slowly whispered, “It’s gone.” His subordinate looked at him questioningly and replied, “I beg your pardon?” The branch leader turned and repeated, “It’s gone. The orb is gone. It was here yesterday but it has disappeared. Where could it have gone?” He collapsed onto the floor, thinking about the worst case scenarios. All the pressure from his job and this recent development had finally taken their toll of the leader. Thinking about it now, Lione was about to swear off his abstinence; that bottle of rum was quite tempting at the moment.
Rinvak realized that he was panicking and tried to calm him down. “Maybe it rolled away or maybe Madeline took it? She probably knew about the attack and got it before escaping.” Unfortunately, this did not help for Lione still seemed distraught over the missing orb. He got up and responded, “We need to get out of here and we need to find Amiti. We’ll investigate and find out who has it and why afterward but escaping is our top priority now.”
Before they could head to the exit, a cold voice came from the shadow that sent chills down their spines. “Are you looking for this?”
Part Forty-Nine: Omake—The Problem with Technology
”Okay, here goes,” muttered Lione as he placed his right hand on the scanner. As both exorcists watched the laser move in silence, they expected the door to open any second and were readying themselves.
“Access denied!” Lione gave a puzzled look and Rinvak just shrugged. Thinking that maybe he moved a finger during the scanning, the branch leader sighed and placed his hand on this scanner again. He forced himself not to move as he felt the heat from the laser sweep by.
“Access denied!” Rinvak swore that the computer sounded too gleeful as she watched Lione cursed under his breath.
“Stupid piece of crap! This is why I hate technology!” exclaimed the head exorcist as he began hitting and kicking the wall. One of his punches landed directly on the scanner, leading his subordinate to believe that it was going to break at any second.
“Access granted!” The door opened, leading to a magnificent room. Lione cleared his throat and straightened himself up. He turned to address Rinvak, “Come now, Rin! This is not time to linger or panic.” He entered the room, leaving Rinvak to stare at him in disbelief.
Rinvak turned around and shouted, “YOU!” Despite the fact that he was standing in the darkness, she recognized the figure as none other than Amiti. The orb that he held in his right hand gave a faint glow that illuminated his face, highlighting his features. She was about to run towards him when Lione placed his left arm in front of her preventing the exorcist from doing so.
“How did you get in here? Only Sister Madeline and I are the only ones who knew about this room’s location and are authorized into this room,” questioned Lione darkly. He sensed something sinister about the Bookman—something that he hadn’t detected since the first encounter. Where did this bloodthirsty, murderous intent come from?
Amiti began circling around the pillars and smirked. Slowly he started chuckling like he heard a joke and tossing the orb like a toy. Lione eyed him, his arm still protecting Rinvak. He could see her face trembling as if she no longer recognized the person in front of her. “Answer me, Amiti!”
Instead of responding to Lione’s command, Amiti startled the exorcists by chuckling. “The person you have known as Amiti had died a long time ago. I have thrown away my old self and name and have been reborn as Uriel.” Before the exorcists could react, the Bookman hid behind a column and Lione moved in order to see what he was doing. The exorcist noted that the redhead appeared to be dragging something heavy and backed Rinvak and him away. He gasped once he saw what Amiti brought out.
Madeline appeared beaten and drugged. Her breathing was shallow and skin was pale like snow. She reminded him of a rag doll with her tied up, limp body as he angrily glared at the Bookman. “What have you done to her?” he demanded as he clenched his fists. Rinvak was now looking at Madeline frightened; she had no idea that Amiti was capable of doing such a deed. He was always sweet and helpful. What caused this transformation? Would he have done the same thing to him once he was done using her? More importantly, how could she not see this part of him during their interactions?
As he dropped the body in front of him, Amiti answered, “It’s amazing how some people could be useful. Take, for example, that bratty Bookwoman. I figured that she was quite attached to her cat but I didn’t expect that kind of reaction from her! She almost single handedly destroyed HQ that I even thought I didn’t have to do the job. With all her commotion for a dumb cat, she created enough drama and strife for an emo hero.
“Then, there was the lovely Brown family. I didn’t think much of them until they found out about Edward’s death. Their anger and grief really troubled everyone at HQ particularly you, Lione. If I knew that you would have reacted the way you did, I would have brought the family over earlier. With all these distractions, there was no way any capable leader could have foreseen this! Though I must admit I was disappointed at first when I heard that her parents took her away but I did get excited when she ran away and returned. One more exorcist to die…
“And this lovely woman helped me into this room. I’m sure that you can forgive her. I drugged her tea this morning and forced her to tell me where this room was and how I could get in.” He kicked her body, causing the nun to groan. This in turn pissed Lione off and he activated his Innocence. He didn’t want to see Madeline hurt anymore especially by someone dangerous.
Before his shadow could swallow Amiti, a figure sprinted and pushed the Bookman out of the way. Getting up off his feet, Jacques patted the dust off his priest garments and greeted, “Good morning, Mr. Exorcist! It’s a pleasure that you have us over at your own home.” He held his right hand out to Amiti who gladly accepted it. The boy tossed the Noah the orb who examined it amusedly.
“Ah, excellent job!” praised Jacques as he handed it back to him. “I’m glad that the gauntlets that I have given you proved to be useful.” The Bookman smiled and proudly displayed his gloved hands to his former comrades. Lione instantly recognized that it was created from black matter and contained great power. He whispered to the exorcist beside him, “When I give the signal, run to the exit and don’t look back. I’ll rescue Madeline and stall them the best I can.”
Rinvak continued to gaze at Amiti as if she was in a horrible dream. This could not be happening—headquarter was not getting attacked and her crush was not a traitor. This had to be a bad dream. She felt someone squeezing her hand and noticed Lione’s concerned look. She nodded to acknowledge his order and readied herself. Goodbye, Lione…
The branch leader sent his shadow towards the enemies and Rinvak started running. Suddenly the earth quaked, causing her to trip. She got up and continued sprinting towards the exit only to be blocked by a familiar black uniform. “Leaving so soon?” came the charming voice.
Amiti smiled at her and held his hand out to the girl. She slapped it away and jumped back. He laughed and asked, “Don’t you want this orb back?” She did not answer and her arms were raised in case of an attack. “I guess you don’t want it back. Oh well, I have no choice anyway.” He wrapped his hands around the orb and crushed it, letting the sparkling powder fall to the ground.
Stunned, Rinvak glared at him and yelled, “Why? Why are you doing this? Why are you betraying us? I don’t understand; I trusted you!” Tears were forming now as her face lowered. She heard Amiti sigh annoyingly and heard him walking towards her. She couldn’t force herself to move despite her desire to get away from him. Was she paralyzed by fear or by an unseen attack?
As his hand gently touched Rinvak’s face, he muttered, “I knew that you were going to say that. I suppose I should tell you since you are so eager to know.” He began to circle the exorcist and to unweave his tale. “As you know, I am a Bookman and my main purpose is to record and research the hidden history of the world. At first I hated my job because my assignments were boring and uninteresting.”
Rinvak watched Amiti’s footsteps; they were moving faster as if they wanted revealing the approach of the climax of his story. “However, I found something that caught my attention,” continued the Bookman. His voice revealed his excitement and joy. “I began my research on the Earl’s plan. At first I was horrified and disgusted by it. Yet, as I continued investigating it, I couldn’t help but agree with his reasons.”
He stopped moving and hit a pillar with his fist, causing an explosion making Rinvak jerk. “This world filled with humans is rotting away. Purging it of filthy humans is far better than letting it suffer any longer. I wasn’t sure if I was worthy enough to join the Earl but Jacques gave me the resolve to do it.” His eyes were opening wider, revealing the thoughts of a madman. Rinvak finally found the strength to speak and meekly asked, “The Earl and his allies killed your brother. How could you still work for them after that?”
Amiti looked at her hurt and scratched his head. He responded awkwardly, “I guess I didn’t think about Ahiram. He is my dear brother and yet I haven’t thought of him in such a long time." His face turned dark as he whispered, “The Noahs didn’t kill him. I did.”
Rinvak gasped and backed away. “You… you’re joking, right? You wouldn’t dare to kill your own family, your own blood?” The Bookman eyed her like a snake and slowly walked in her direction. “I tried to recruit my brother to join me but he refused. I wanted to save him but he didn’t want salvation. So I rescued him the only way I knew how—I killed him.” He stopped and sadly spoke, “It was hard the first time I stabbed him but the more I did it, the easier it got. Before you knew, I was enjoying the experience”
The exorcist felt chills run down her spine as he demonstrated the attack with his hands and silently tried to summon her Innocence. Unfortunately, nothing happened as if the Innocence sensed her hesitation to fight her opponent and refused to listen. The Bookman’s voice changed from sadistic to angry as his tale continued.
“Unfortunately, my fun ended when that female Noah entered the scene. She didn’t know that Jacques and I were allies and began to attack me. Lord Jacques had to separate us and ordered a Level 4 Akuma to send me to an area where I could easily encounter an exorcist. Who knew that I would encounter its sister who was moved by such a pitiful sight?” He smiled at Rinvak and gently muttered, “If that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have met you, right?”
He slowly walked up to the exorcist and began stroking her face. The exorcist quickly jerked back, rubbing her face where he had touched her. She had felt like he was slowly burning her face and if she hadn’t moved at that exact second, she was sure that he was going to disfigure her. Amiti laughed, “This gauntlet that Lord Jacques had given me has such amazing power that most could only dream of. Don’t you want me to save you?”
The exorcist shot back angrily, “You were going to burn my face, you psycho!’ She then looked at him sadly and asked, “Before we battle, I have one simple question to ask you.” Ever since she found out the truth, this question had been bothering her and she needed to know the answer. Amiti stared at her confused and answered, “Go on.”
The exorcist cleared her throat and softly begged, “Did you ever love me?” The Bookman’s eyes narrowed and he lowered his head. His response felt like a thousand daggers stabbed her heart. “No, I never did feel anything towards you.” The tears were flowing down her face now and she couldn’t stop herself from bawling.
Amiti sighed and declared as he eyed the exorcist’s left hand, “I’ve been doing research on this Pandora’s box for a long time now. Apparently, it holds an Innocence but the key to opening this contraption lays with that ring on your finger.” He clenched his fist and hit the ground, causing the earth beneath Rinvak to crack. As she fell deeper into the darkness, she heard him say, “I think it’s time for you to return that ring.”
The Bookman always enjoyed having an audience. When he was young, he had to compete with his older brother for attention so anytime someone was willing to listen, he knew to take full advantage of it. And today, it just happened to be Rinvak—a female exorcist whom he had fooled into believing into thinking that he actually cared for her. It’s amazing how women are so desperate to be loved that they let their judgment down.
“So you betray us for that horrible reason? I can’t believe that you would do something like this to us, to me! I was a fool for actually trusting you,” lamented the girl. Part of her was angry at him for his actions. However, most of her rage was aimed at herself for not seeing his true colors beforehand. Maybe Amiti was right; she was desperate to be loved…
“Bravo! I knew that you were special; after all, you’re smart enough to appreciate my reasoning,” praised Uriel as he began clapping his hands. Unfortunately, he forgot that he still had his gauntlets on, resulting in a shockwave aimed at Rinvak.
At that moment, the exorcist did not know what to do. Shall she cover her ears in order to prevent damage to her eardrums? Or she should use her hands to keep her skirt down, preserving her dignity? Within a split second, she covered her ears, rationalizing that saving her hearing was more important. She prayed that keeping her legs tight together would do the trick as she felt a blast of wind fly by her.
After the attack had died down, Rinvak opened her eyes and was surprised by what she saw. Amiti had shifted his body ninety degrees and had cupped his right hand next to his eyes. His face was blushing as he quickly blurt out, “Even though I switched sides, I still want to maintain my integrity. I didn’t look, honest!”
Rinvak glared at the Bookman and angrily screamed, “I can’t believe that I used to like you, you pervert!”
Lione ran towards Rinvak immediately after seeing Amiti—no wait, Uriel—head in the exorcist’s direction. However, the gap separating the two was too great for the head exorcist to make his move. Besides, he noticed a blast coming towards him, causing him to jump out of the way.
Jacques smiled at the exorcist and applauded, “Your reflexes are amazing. Please don’t forget that I’m your opponent, Lione. I’ve heard so much about you from my fourth guardian to the point it made me sick. He talked so highly of you that even I had to admire you. That’s why I’m so eager to break you.” He gathered protons in the air and sent another blast towards his adversary who barely dodged it.
His cockiness, however, got the Noah in trouble as his feet got caught in Lione’s shadow. “I just need to envelop your entire body and then this battle is over!” shot the exorcist. Jacques eyed Lione with great interest when he suddenly brought Madeline’s body in front of him, using her as a shield.
Startled by this unexpected move, the branch leader released his shadow. A figure dashed by him and before he react, he felt a sharp pain in his stomach. He fell to the ground and tried to catch his breath. Jacques stood before him and grinned.
“Mr. Exorcist, please live up to your hype,” the Noah mocked as he kneeled down. He pulled Lione’s hair so he could stare directly into his enemy’s face. The exorcist’s eyes pierced him with anger and hatred. “I hate having high expectations for someone only to be let down in the end.”
Jacques threw the exorcist across the room, creating a dent into the wall. The impact dazed Lione who was resisting the urge to fall unconscious. He struggled to keep himself standing and shook his head violently. Unfortunately, before he could recover, someone charged and began choking him.
“Foolish exorcist! Are you still resisting your fate?” taunted Jacques. He dragged Lione across the floor and tossed him towards the altar. Lione quickly got up and sent an attack towards his opponent. Jacques swatted the shot away. “Have my assaults greatly weakened you already? Or are you playing possum?”
Lione smirked and responded, “Don’t think that I give up so easily. I made a vow that I will protect everyone at this branch with my life and I will keep my word.” He summoned all of the shadows in the room and aimed at Jacques, causing a huge explosion.
After the dust settled, the exorcist surveyed his surroundings, searching for any movement. Did he get the Noah? Something hit his foot and he looked down. Madeline’s eyes stared at him and she seemed lifeless. He heard distant clapping from behind and a figure whose face was slowly regenerating was approaching him.
“What an annoyance! Don’t you comprehend your circumstances? As I speak, my sister is going to add a rare exorcist doll and a Bookman to her collection and my dear brother is blocking the secret exit. My guardians are trapping the werewolf and your precious ally in front of you is slowly weakening. Your order has fallen; accept your defeat.”
Wow, I watch a lot of trash TV according to all the relationship advice I have in the chapter. Don’t be like Amiti; be like Blade or Flames.
It’s kind of weird and amazing how the previous chapters indirectly hinted at this one so there was little revision made.
To clarify the one-on-one battles, here you go: Stephanie and Blade versus “Stephanie” and Magier (Ribbon-katana versus Ribbon-katana) Tabitha and Eny (with Daniel and Finders) versus I.A. (Battles of the egos/wills?) Flames (and Ying – she stayed behind but Flames doesn’t know) versus Gabrielle, Michael, and Raphael (Battle of the Loyal Second-in-Command/Assistants – they’re pretty much close to their respective leaders) Rinvak versus Amiti/Uriel (Angel Versus Demon) Lione (with an incapacitated Madeline) versus Jacques (Battle of the Sexies – just for you, magier )
Yes, I know that Amiti’s name changed (Raijatsu named him and I just put it in for him) and then I continued using Amiti but that part was told through Rinvak’s point of view. To her, he will always be Amiti.
@ magier, I had no idea how to introduce the new Noah but I left a lovely hint of her presence. I figured that you could introduce her better anyway. Also, I thought that it would be nice if there was a competition between Road and you over each’s respective doll collection. Your character reminded me of her so it makes sense that there will be a friendly competition between the two.
I just realized that it will be Raijatsu, rosa, and tune’s first times writing a fight chapter. Hoorah? Sorry if this screws you over but I know that you guys can do it. I’m looking forward to the Lione-Jacques battle. ^^
Another clarification: Lione didn’t get stabbed only punched in the stomach. And at the end, he’s doing the Frodo look (you know the one in which he glances over his left shoulder and gives you that pathetic look that causes girls to melt) except Lione probably would be more shocked than pitiful.
The setup is perfect if you want to kill off certain characters :: hint hint tune ::
Request: don’t kill Amiti yet. I’m still attached to him and I think I’ll be using him again. Also, deathshadow asked that he does not get the ring; he can either have the ring or Pandora’s Box but not both. Rinvak will enter the five stages of dying after the battle is over (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) which will be great to write for anyone. Blade and Stephanie need to be alive for another storyline that deathshadow is planning. The characters can get injured or captured but please don’t kill them. I personally believe that none of the main characters will die in this event (unless someone wants to kill him/herself off) since I know some people are planning their future chapters with these characters.
Please no deus ex machine. It seems farfetched if one person defeats everyone (heck Allen could barely defeat a Noah). I hope this isn’t too much to ask for Besides, there’s plenty of fighting that needs to be addressed in more than one chapter.
Anyways, hopefully you enjoyed reading this chapter despite its length and outcomes. I won’t be writing for a while due to the MCAT.
OMG, I was so so........enchained by your super long, amazing, wonderful, funny, sad, romantic, fighting, creepy chapter. OMG, never read such a chapter before. I worship you <3.
Everything makes sense, the import of known facts and their connection was awesome. It was so detailed that I saw an anime or a movie proceeding in front of my mind's eye.
Yay for Jaques and Lione fight. I am also looking forward to every fight, especially Amaterasu's since he has not got the chance till now. indded, it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to read it. I know slow but it can't be helped. my, this was exciting.
But the most impressive was, that we really seem to share the same thoughts. It's no joke when I say that I thought Amiti were a traitor and I dreamt of a scene when Magier, Jaques and I.A. attack the HQ. Even the scene with the back door and Amaterasu conformed my thoughts. Hell, this is fucking great.
LOVE LOVE LOVE
英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member
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Re: Chapter Sixty: Treachery Has a Kind Face
just finished (about half an hour)
well I need to think a lot before writing the next chapter
I still don't know which fight I'll write since I'd love to write about my guardians but well, jaques is my main chara.
anyway.... I love your wrirtng style snoogen and you made jaques bad enough
btw. how doe Tabithas goddes song exactly work?
Last edited by Raijatsu; May 22, 2007 at 03:36 PM.
Ah yush. Goddess song, keep forgetting to post more info on it. Too busy procrastinating, reading fanfiction XD hehe? Steph, your use actually turned out to be on the money, as she's got a wind spirit that I imagine would be useful for just that reason.
So here goes nothing. Prepare for a veeeerrrryyyy long rant. I've been thinknig this out for a bit, which is another reason I haven't posted much on it......I'm still fussing with details (not that I need too, but becuase I can =D) It's also a bit discombobulated, as I'm typing as I remember all my little details
Goddess song summons up an elemental spirit; Wind, Earth, Water, Fire and Spirit/Energy/Life, listed in order of summoning diffculty. They are summoned by speaking/singing ((speaking the incantation is quicker, but less powerful)) to the element in using its 'true' name. Ever hear the concept of people having 'true' names, and if you knew that name, you'd have power over that person? Like that. Speaking just the name summons the most underpowered least draining version of the spirit, like when Tabby jumps off the train, just enough energy for the wind spirit to cushion her fall. For the longer, more powerful summonings, the incantation is a bit more like the magical language in the Eragon series, but if you haven't read it, I'll just say its the true language of things, impossible to lie in. Always liked the author's concpet of magic, but I'm getting off topic. Tabby only knows these incantations as she's saying them, as the Innocence is feeding them directly to her brain. Its also impossile for others to duplicate, as their are nuances in tones unaudible for earthly ears to hear ((I say that 'cause even animals wouldn't be able to hear the exact depth of the sound)) Tabby can hear these though, as long as she's got Goddess Song activated.
There are 3 degrees of power she can summon in.
1) Just the sprirt's name - the spirit appears small and chibi like, small/limited effects, Tabby can still use orginal move set.
2) Sentence/Scale - Only a couple of couple of words to 2-3 sentences. Spoken is quicker but less powerful. Spirit is about 3 heads tall. Tabby's most used form, as she can attack with both her orginal move set (though the attacks would be more draining than if she doesn't have Goddess Song activated) and the sprirts basic moves. Can't use any of their special attacks though.
3) Story/Song - For lack of a better title for the spoken version, its called Story, but its not storybook length. This was the degree used when I introduced Goddess Song, and requires a lenghty incantation. She is extremely vulnerable during the first couple of sentences, but as the engery builds, it does form a kind of barrier. She's still vulnerable to powerful attacks, but at that point, you wouldn't be able to rush up and stab her or something. The summoned spirit is from about Tabby's height, to twice her height, depending on how much energy was used Bigger is more powerful, but Tabby could currently hold the largest size for mere seconds. She can't use her orginal move set at this size, and has her movement restricted slightly
The summoned spirit drains a certain amount of energy per second, depending on its size.
Other than the fact she's talking directly to the essence of the element, the spirit is held in place by Innocence. The whole purpose of the incantation is to infuse particles of the element (summonded up by speaking to it) with Innocence, giving it shape and form. I did say Tabby's voice was her Innocence, its just manifests itself on her throat. Thats why when using degree 3, she can't use her orginal move set. Most of the innocence isn't in her at the moment, its all in the spirit ((It goes back to her when the spirit dismissed though)) That also means the spirits can be broken down by Noah, but since the Innocence left with Tabby ((The cross on her neck)) serves as the anchoring point, the lost Innocence can be rebuilt, but it takes a lot of energy. Since its also not 100% innocence, (the innocence is just bonding particles of the element together) it might actually be harder to break down for everyone excpet Jacques and I.A, whose ablities can break down the part of the spirit made up of the element.
When Tabby performs second opening, the ribbon that normally floats around her neck snaps in the middle, and each side spreads down one of her arms. The ribbon runs down the length of her arm to the middle of the back of her hand, with ribbon running from that line straight out, wrapping around her arms, forming a series of bands. Almost makes it look like she's wearing striped sleeves. At the the place where it ends it gives off green energy/light like Lenalee's boots used to.
Blah. Not done, I have to go do my homework, and my comp is demanding that I let it restart itself. I'll post the last part, the indivual spirit's ablities, later tonight =D Hope you all like how I've fleshed this out <D