Runo's hollow eye blankly stared at Dolly.
He parted his lips as if he wanted to say something. Within a split second, the side bang covered his face. His hands dragged across the dirt to stop himself from crashing onto the tree behind him.
Everything happened at light speed that Dolly couldn't comprehend what just happened.
The man she'd been traveling along with his companion Netty was a regular monster slayer who knew his way around a lot of things.
He can't possibly be! THIS WHOLE TIME?!
He was the guy she originally despised and couldn't get along with at first. Just when she thought she was able to open up to another human being...
Please no. Not right now. You were the only one I...!!
Runo's sleek hair glossed under the ominous sunset. The shadows behind him seemingly loomed over his presence, a sense that he was no longer the person Dolly felt safe around. A susceptible threat.
The man didn't say anything. In fact, he stared at Dolly as usual, like a normal person who was a little confused as to why she was looking at him with such a bewildered expression.
"Hey," he said calmly. He placed his hand on the tree trunk. "What's wrong? We defeated Lewis."
The knot in Dolly's throat prevented her from speaking. Her eyes begged otherwise. The gruesome taste of blood lingered as the wind started picking up. Like a scene prepared for this unraveling moment.
"Dolly," Runo called to her, a little more stern this time. "What's wrong?"
"Y......." Her lips struggled to form the words. She shook with anxiety. "You are....."
Was Runo playing dumb? Or he was genuinely not certain whether Dolly was aware of his eye? He glanced at her with both of his eyes during that split second, so he had to know. Otherwise, why wasn't he approaching her either?
"Runo," she snapped out of her paralysis and blinked. Her cheeks slowly faded in color. "You're a monster, aren't you?"
The leaves of the golden rain trees started to fall like tears, while the baleful rays of the weeping sun focused on Runo. The man's right eye widened. He closed his gaping mouth and gulped. For a second, he pondered immensely on his response.
"Hmm," he mumbled a few words, then spoke up. "I suppose you could hypothetically say I am, given your presuming nature that a hollow eye is a trait of a monster. What makes you certain that I just didn't lose an eye?"
Dolly's eyebrows furrowed, her confusion slowly turned to frustration. She flung her arms out like an angered person. They shivered.
Her voice cracked. "Don't play games with me. It's a simple yes or no question."
Runo's hand was still on the tree trunk.
His face softened at the raging android. "That's a compelling statement."
The android sighed and dropped her head. The breeze felt comforting.
If only happiness can come back to me.
Runo blinked. The next thing he saw was a deadly beam shot from Dolly's palm headed straight for him.
The sound of a mini bomb rang across the forest. Countless roses were tossed into the air from the shockwave and smoke. Leaves scattered violently as they swayed away from the scene covered with chaos. The sight of her destruction would spell doom for any human being.
Unfortunately, Dolly saw a faint purple barrier after the dust had pardoned itself out of view. And yet, she was equally relieved that the man she once had respect for was still alive.
Or was she? She wasn't sure anymore. Emotions are confusing.
"Oh dear," the scandalous yet condescending voice danced in her ears, "that would've been extremely bad if your assumption was incorrect."
The tree trunk that Runo once had his hand on was completely transformed into a gigantic shield, along with another barrier of purple energy that shielded him from Dolly's impact. The trunk was badly damaged. Runo rolled his eyes and flung it to the side. Useless.
With a sigh, Dolly lifted her head to face Runo. To his surprise, she gave him a bittersweet smile, one of genuine disappointment.
The smell of death.
It was one that monsters carry. But she had assumed.
She had assumed, for thinking the best of people, that Runo's faint scent was only there because he had fought so many.
But the only recollection blasted in her mind was the unnerving fear she had when Runo carried her away from the dream monster.
Everything made sense. She just didn't want to face it. Was she genuinely naive?
Runo closed his eyes. "That wasn't the reaction I expected."
Dolly took a step forward before pausing. She stared at the man. "So what gives?"
He gave her a smug of confidence and pride.
"Hmm," Runo frolicked with his fingernails, "I had my reasons. For one, I'm quite the vengeful spirit."
The android's eyes no longer radiated that shine she once gave to Runo when they were in the flower field.
The feeling of betrayal.
That's right, he had mentioned this before.
After all, life is but a cycle of abuse. And she should've seen this coming.
At least, she can finally say she knew how it felt to be bamboozled.
"I'm just glad you're OK, Runo."
The man licked his lips and chuckled. The devilish hunger in his crazed eye spoke volumes. "I appreciate you, Dolly. I really do."
For the first time, she decided to laugh. A tear dropped from her colorless cheeks.
"It's such a pity. I'm back to being..."
That feeling of isolation hurts.
It really hurts.
"I do apologize," Runo's flipped his hair, showcasing his hollow eye. "But now that everything's out, looks like it's time I should've taken back..."
He lunged from his position.
"...WHAT BELONGS TO ME."
His face switched from one that was scandalous to one of pure rage and hatred. Before Dolly could analyze anything, he was inches away from her face.
His fingers aimed for the gem below Dolly's collarbone.
Her eyes darted, trying to match up with his speed. Not knowing that he was aiming for her chest, she dodged. The fingers scratched her face and tore a small section of the outer skin off.
Dolly twirled around and threw a fist at Runo's stomach.
Only to realize his stomach was completely hardened.
She glanced up. Her eyes trembled with shock. The new form Runo had shaped into was a mixture of abominations she recognized.
His elongated tongue, the freakishly tall height, and...!
A sword that looked exactly like Noah's formed on top of Runo's palm.
The creature wrapped the sword with his chains around his waist. He pulled out an energy bar he took when he stood next to the tree he used as a shield moments ago.
It was the energy bar left from Lewis.
"Bon appétit," Runo licked the tip of the energy bar teasingly before he took a bite. Dolly's legs started shaking. Her memories of Noah and the rest of the monsters flashed before her eyes.
You've got to be kidding! This man's been using us this entire time!
The man finished his bar and grinned. Lewis's rings formed around his claws.
"You..." His teeth grind against each other as his eye glowed with profound rage, "took EVERYTHING FROM ME!"
He sliced into the ground with his tongue, splitting it in half. Chunks of dirt flew all over the place. The android jumped at the last second when the crack reached her.
She turned. Runo levitated above her menacingly.
The man grabbed her face with his gnarly fingers, then bent his knees to kick her stomach. The clunking sounds of shattered components rattled within Dolly. She tried to shoot a beam, but he was too fast.
"For an agonizing twenty years, darling, twenty years!" He shoved the android's head onto the ground several times.
"Oh, the inability to grow! Thousands would dream to be immortal! But why do I feel miserable? Imagine the emotions I felt watching my friends die and getting slaughtered by my own hands! And whose fault is that?" He tossed Dolly with a swing of his arm and gripped her by the neck.
The smell of unjustified deaths became horrid as he widened his mouth and eject his tongue out to surround Dolly. It tightened around her waist before it whipped her against a tree trunk. The man leaped from the ground and sped through the field like light, leaving a desolated trail of dirt behind him.
He lifted a leg and kicked her in the face. The android tried to gasp, but the man pulled her by the hair and shoved her back onto the ground.
I can't fight... I can't fight him!
He grabbed her head and threw her onto another open field in front of the line of damaged trees. Dolly's rattling body skidded several times, her eyes shut from all the scratches inflicted by the grass and blades around her. Only a few bushes ahead stopped her body from rolling.
Her arms shrieked with foreign noises as she got up. She was lucky they hadn't given up on her.
Her eyes witnessed a scene that colored her emotionless. Numb.
Runo had leaped. His tongue swirled in front of him, ready to slice her from above. Noah's sword was held by his hideous claws from below.
Her eyes focused on Noah's sword.
To think I'd see that again.
Noah's reflection appeared for a brief moment. His beautiful heterochromatic eyes. That genuine smile of love.
Forget about being numb.
The android blasted herself upwards with a beam, her eyes now raged at the sight of her former comrade's sword being used against her.
The fury dwelling within Dolly gave her the adrenaline to fight. She spun several times around the elongated tongue before smashing a fist at Runo.
Or so she thought.
"Tch," Runo's eye widened as a purple barrier blocked Dolly's punch from harming his horrid face. "Now you're getting feisty."
"You disgust me!" She threw punches at the shield in an attempt to break it, but it was no use. Her cries only sent Runo laughing as his feet dragged slightly backward against the soil every time she slammed onto his barrier.
"WOW! Do you miss him that much? Even when you barely knew him?"
The android jumped to dodge an attack from the side as Runo's swiped the air with his long claws. Her legs aimed for Runo's head, but he swayed effortlessly.
"I must say, his energy bar was quite delicious, heart-felt even," he slashed at the air in front of Dolly. She jumped away from him. "Did he ever confess his feelings for you? Ah, I hope you didn't reject him!"
"STOP!" She sent multiple beams at Runo, but his tongue only whipped them away like mosquitoes. The beams flew back at her.
Dolly ran for the bushes. She dove into the leaves like a cushion as the balls of energy exploded behind her.
She turned her head. The obvious rattling all over her body became louder. She felt the grinding of metal and wires rubbed against one another inside her. Runo swung around a couple of branches with his tongue and landed on top of her.
The poor android shrieked in pain when he stepped onto her gem. The pressure of his shoes eventually cracked it. It was a tough gem too, for Runo started to stomp on it with pleasure while Dolly screamed.
It was music to his ears.
"Aah, how invigorating!"
"UGH! How could you do this to us! What about Netty?!"
He lifted his foot and stamped onto the grass next to Dolly's head. The man leaned over and grinned.
"Oh her! That's right!"
His tongue licked Dolly's injuries all over her legs.
"I guess it's expected of you to assume it was Lewis's doing."
"Wait, what?" Her eyes widened.
The sickening tongue slowly made its way up to Dolly's cheeks. It caressed her like a child. Her eyes reflected Runo's sadistic expression.
He leaned forward and whispered into her ear.
"I disposed of her."
Dolly bellowed. She unleashed an energetic blast to Runo's face.
The man jumped away, allowing Dolly to get up, and dashed between the trees. He laughed. The sinister tone of his voice echoed around the trees as she tried to give herself a break.
"Eh? Why are you so emotional? I thought you didn't like her!"
Dolly panted behind a tree trunk as her chest rattled with damaged wires. Her gem shimmered uncontrollably. That demonic voice surrounded her like a taunting nightmare.
"You didn't even shed a tear for her!"
The android started sweating in anger. All those times she had been together with them, her memories, they were lies.
"FIXING HER WAS MY WAY OF BIDDING MY TIME FROM THAT DRAT OF A PARASITE."
His voice boomed louder. Dolly's heavy panting became so noticeable she feared that her breathing would disclose her location.
"AND YOU? WELL, I ONLY FIXED YOU BECAUSE I FELT NICE."
He lies! Just lies!
"I FIGURED THAT WOULD BE THE LAST NICEST THING I'LL EVER DO FOR YOU!"
He clenched his fist and punched the ground, sending large chunks of rock and soil in the air. His tongue grabbed a few and chucked them into random tree trunks, destroying the scenery of the forest.
Dolly ran from her position when a chunk of rock headed for her tree. The rock slammed right at the base of it, sending the tree falling. The android took a leap of faith and jumped off to the side. Her body rolled down the mini hill until she slammed onto a couple of fallen branches.
She struggled to lift herself up from the ground, but there wasn't a need to. A stretched arm from Runo grabbed her by the throat and pulled her towards him.
"Aw, what happened? I thought most people would get their cute little power-ups after hearing such devastating news!"
The monster slammed her head into the ground. Her body bounced back up, allowing the sadistic creature to strike at her stomach with his fist. Dolly's body sped past a dense area of trees, as several branches smacked her violently.
The android was only saved from further damage when she coincidentally landed on a jasmine shrub.
The shrub that Noah once made for her. It had been preserved all this time as if faith decided to bless her with one final stroke of luck.
Ah. It was a comfortable rest too.
The monster suddenly leaped forward from the darkness of the trees and landed swiftly onto the grass. His tongue immediately wrapped around Dolly. He smirked.
And off she goes.
He swung his tongue. Dolly's body rattled against the impact of the trees and back onto the ground. An endless cycle of unbearable torture.
The android was close to losing her consciousness.
Maybe losing those memories isn't a bad idea.
Her body smashed onto a tree trunk. The clunking noises in her chest ignited sparks between her wires.
After all, they were fake.
What was there for her to remember that was real? Noah's death? Creepy Lewis? Netty's demise?
After several rounds of endless slamming, Runo tossed her onto the grass and pinned her down. His grip on her wrists was so tight she thought her wires would break, and the pungent smell of a thousand corpses made her feel terrified of the man on top of her.
Runo's tongue slashed at Dolly's gem, sending deep cracks. She jittered in pain. The gem wasn't shattered yet, but he was having his entertainment seeing the android suffering.
"I don't under-s-S-TA-Nd..." The android's voice cracked while her eyes desperately glanced up at him, looking for answers. "What d-D-Di-d I d-Do?"
Runo's face hovered over hers. She tasted his desire for an exquisite feast, felt his excitement for pleasurable pain, and heard the screams of terrified people who had once fallen victim to this malicious being.
"Ah, I guess I can tell you before you gracefully die by my hands," the monster licked his lips. His arm slowly lingered over the cracked gem, and lightly tapped it.
He parted his seductive lips next to her ear, whispering the answer that Dolly was looking for.
But it was an answer she never saw coming.
"According to you, my dearest Dolly, you're the scientist."