Chapter 1:

I'm Not An Empty Shell

The Ethereal Scarlet


"Resent me if you want. No, you really should resent me. But whatever happens, I'll
love you until the end."Bookmark here

Those were the last words I heard before I was sure my consciousness had kicked
back life unto me. My mouth and throat were dry, so I couldn't even so much as
speak yet, except for the forced coughs I did.Bookmark here

"Where am I?" I thought to myself.Bookmark here

It looks like I am in a forest. No, I probably am. But the question is, what am I doing
here? I don't remember anything that happened before I ended up here.
In the first place, who am I? I don't remember my name either.
I know that there must be something I should remember. There's this hole in my
head that's clearly telling me I forgot something important.Bookmark here

However, no matter how much time I spent knocking on my head hoping that it will
make me remember something, nothing came out.Bookmark here

I started to wander around, hoping I'll see someone I can ask. Well--Bookmark here

Not that there's actually anyone here.Bookmark here

I could only sigh with this unfortunate situation I'm currently in.Bookmark here

I continued walking in an attempt of getting out from the multitude of trees
surrounding me, that is to say, the forest that I'm currently at.Bookmark here

After a few minutes of pointless walking, I felt my body getting heavier. It hadn't
even been thirty minutes yet. It's a different story if I was running all the way.
However, I was just walking. For me to feel this tired felt unnatural for me.Bookmark here

Seems like my body is really weak.Bookmark here

Even if I forgot everything about who I am, I'm not an empty shell entirely. I still
remember the human world. That alone is a driving force that I have to find out
what happened to me.Bookmark here

I heavily panted as I used the wall on my side to rest my back. Wait, a wall?
I didn't even notice that there was a wall already.Bookmark here

Just like that, I was out of the forest already.Bookmark here

I could see a set of smoke coming from somewhere. It seems like there are factories of some sort in this area. I could probably find someone to ask there. First thing I
need to do is to find out where I am so I can track myself on a map, if ever I can
find one as well. I don't really know where to go yet, but like how it goes in most
stories, it will just suddenly come back to me once I hit a flag or something.Bookmark here

As I continued walking, something odd struck me. This city's design is fundamentally different from what I remember before. It's somewhat.... modernized? Is this even a city to begin with?Bookmark here

As I wandered my gaze and tried to catch a glimpse of the factory I'm headed
towards... Uhm, I'm actually not sure it's a factory. Sure, there's smoke coming out
from it, but the building by itself is elaborate, completely distinct from what I had
envisioned of a factory. It's more of a nuclear powerplant with how large it was.
Surely, either my memories aren't functioning as I expected and I forgot more than
what I thought I did, or this wasn't the world I once knew anymore.

Be that as it may, these questions will remain as it is until I get the much
needed answers.Bookmark here

Another odd thing, there wasn't anyone around here. Not even houses.
Sure, there's this modernized building ahead of me with its detailed architectural
composition, but there was no one around apart from that.
In addition, I couldn't see the forest where I came from either.Bookmark here

The night sky was completely rid of any light. There were no stars, and the moon
wasn't even visible from where I'm standing due to the dark clouds obstructing it.
I used the night lights the city had to navigate myself through the building
ahead of me.Bookmark here

After fifteen minutes or more of walking, I asked myself again.Bookmark here

"Is this really a city?"Bookmark here

Aside from what I said earlier about no one being around, there were no roads here
to begin with. Just an empty space. In fact, the only thing that made me think this
was a city was due to the elaborate lighting, as well as the astoundingly large
building I'm headed towards. The more I got closer to it, the more it felt like it was a
mansion compared to whatever building I had in mind earlier.Bookmark here

If it's this massive from my current viewpoint, then it probably won't even be an
exaggeration to describe it as ginormous once I get even nearer.Bookmark here

Just as I was taking my time strolling around while heading towards the gigantic
building ahead, I heard a set of footsteps drawing closer to my direction.Bookmark here

I immediately stopped in my tracks. I was suddenly overcome with nervousness as
to where this sound came from. I walked cautiously slow, guided by the miniscule
amount of light coming from the streetlights around me.Bookmark here

The sound showed no signs of falling silent. The footsteps just kept creeping nearer. Bookmark here

After a few seconds, I saw an unfamiliar silhouette. Not that there was a familiar one
based on my memory. In any case, it was a creature that I never saw before. I was
startled by it, but I only began to be gravely frightened when the miniscule light in
the area highlighted the creature's entirety. It slowly crept up from the
shadows, with its eyes that looked like gems directed at me.Bookmark here

It's approximate size was three times that of mine, clad with a tough-looking
skin, and a purple glow coming from the small crevices it had on its body. It had
serrated claws and keen fangs on its mouth. If I were to compare it to something, I'd
say that it looks somewhat like a mutated lion.Bookmark here

In any case, I'm in a very dire situation right now. My only option is to run, but given
that I'm not even aware of this monster's capabilities, running out of trepidation will
surely net the opposite of what I need. I'll most likely die in seconds.Bookmark here

However, I'm in the same situation right now.Bookmark here

Even so, I'm not feeling that much frightened as I did when I first saw this creature.
After all, even if it was just a few seconds, I took the time to analyze what I can do
with the options left.Bookmark here

I'm still currently within the open area, so aside from my presence and this
creature, there was nothing and no one else around. Nonetheless, there was hope.
Closing unto the gigantic building, there were smaller scale buildings around it. I'm
fairly near already, given how I could perceive it so clear from here. If only I
could run through one of those small buildings, I can buy time until I can ask for
help from anyone who may be in-charge of guarding this area.Bookmark here

Little did I think, the endless loop began.Bookmark here

I kept running, huffing and puffing non-stop just to ensure my safety, but there was
still no one else around. The buildings I selfishly used to keep myself safe were
nothing but temporarily shields that were now reduced to rubble. Whoever owns
this will not even so much as scold me, but probably feed me back to this creature
that's persistently chasing me.Bookmark here

I ran, ran, and ran until my legs were on the verge of giving up. My body was already
weak to begin with, and now that I exhausted it to this point, I felt like I was going to
die from being bone-weary rather than this creature.Bookmark here

It wasn't until daylight came that I realized how much time I spent running around
from this tenacious one. I was starting to think it was hopeless. Maybe, I'll just die
here. Not knowing anything, not being able to find out a single thing, not even being
able to fight back.
Bookmark here

Most of the buildings in sight were demolished already, and so my last resort was to
knock my life out on the gigantic building's door. I thought that there would at least
be a guard around here somewhere, but that was just my hopeful assumption all
along.
Bookmark here

"Where's the door? Wait, just how tall is this monstrosity?!"
Bookmark here

Aside from its size, its height doesn't fall in comparison. From the base up to the
middle portion, it was a cylindrical-shaped building, but above that, it was something
I couldn't comprehend anymore. I just thought it was a weird factory at a distant
glance, but it was definitely nothing like it.Bookmark here

!!Bookmark here

My nerves suddenly jumped out due to the ruffle in the ground. The monster's
here already.Bookmark here

"How is this thing so fast?!"Bookmark here

For something of its size, one would think that it'd be slower in comparison.
Although, given that it can take larger steps, perhaps it isn't really quick, but can just
close the distance at a faster rate.Bookmark here

However, even with those distracting thoughts of mine, the monster just rummaged
through the remaining buildings as it kept advancing.Bookmark here

I was prepared for my inevitable death the moment its presence was less than ten
meters from me. It was grumbling as it took its time approaching the cornered rat
that was me. I couldn't even so much as gaze at its face. I only stared at its claws
that I was sure was going to poke a hole unto my body.Bookmark here

With the last seconds the world gave me, there instantaneously came a sonic boom
from up in the heavens. Slicing through the atmosphere itself, it swiftly made its
way down, aiming for our direction. Specifically, the creature that was chasing me
all this time.Bookmark here

The ground shook vigorously from the impact. Apart from being blown away, my
vision was clouded with dust, so all I saw was the next thing that happened.Bookmark here

There was a girl on top of the monstrous creature. She had long scarlet-red hair, and her snow white skin was as bright as morning sun. In addition, the gallant outfit she wore complemented the dramatic entrance she had. The scene itself left me in awe, but also because of the fact that this mysterious girl saved me.Bookmark here

Before she made her way down, she pierced the creature's chest. It happened so
swiftly that I couldn't even see her blade. Afterwards, the purple glow that was
emanating from the creature disappeared, indicating it most likely died. Its future
whereabouts were unknown, but one thing was for sure, I managed to survive.Bookmark here


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