Golden Beads - The outside world
The night was cold and the freaks could be heard from every direction. After leaving Nusa, Hiroki chose a path through the jungle, to avoid sitting in plain view. The night was cold and the only light was the moon, which sometimes got lost throughout the trees, but Hiroki wasn't scared. He knew better than everyone that the last thing you should show a Freak is fear. His scaly friend, however, wasn't as brave, twitching and trembling at every sound of a branch breaking before going on full speed.
With a bit of luck, the night passed, and the duo could see again in front of them. Hiroki climbed a tree to scout the area, and his eyes were attracted by the dome of an old church in the distance. He smiled: Arafat, the evergreen plain.
A large surface of grass as soft as a pillow and as long as the nails of a young lady coming for the first time at Hiroki's tavern, Arafat was the perfect place for a pause: comfortable, cold, and most important: rarely attended by Freaks. The fields of Arafat were stretching over a large, empty, and boring area with the only thing that you can see is an old church ready to fall. The fields are also cut in half by a canyon, at the base of which is an old city, that Hiroki never bothered to explore because he saw no sign of protection against Freaks, so he figured out that the city was abandoned for a long time.
"Wanna take the first round?" Hiroki said when after demounting off zig.
Zig nodded and ran in the long grass, while Hiroki went into the shade of the church and sat on the grass. He could feel his eyes closing and didn't resist, but unfortunately, the feeling didn't last. Hiroki felt something wet slapping his face. He opened up his eyes to see Zig licking him and he immediately jumped up. He looked around but he couldn't see any trace of a Freak, but zig was acting really nervous so he decided to follow the lizard. Zig took Hiroki to the edge of the canyon, where he saw two shapes that looked pretty much like humans. Hiroki felt all the tiredness leaving his body.
"Could that be...Yuudai?"
The lizard's eyes widened as he heard that and started to growl impatiently.
"You go that way," said Hiroki pointing towards a path that took to the bottom of the canyon, "I'll take a shortcut. See you there!"
The lizard started running on the path and Hiroki closed his eyes, crossed his fingers, took a deep breath, and jumped into the canyon. Before touching the ground he opened his eyes who were now full white as if the soul has left its body and a white square soon appeared under his legs, making his fall significantly slower.
"Long time no see, yuu-" said Hiroki after reaching the ground only to see the silhouette that he saw was of a woman with long hair as blonde as a good-crafted beer.
"You're not him...what is going on here?"
"Long time no see indeed, Golden Bead." A familiar feminine voice said.
Hiroki turned to see a blonde soldier that seemed younger than him, whose eyes were consumed by a cloud of green smoke.
"Ohohoh, you call me by my name. So wonderful... I want that too. What was your name again?"
"Good try. Let's not make this a bad memory, what do you say?"
"But of course! I have nothing against you, as long as you don't have nothing against me."
"And what about her?" Hiroki pointed towards the girl that was hiding behind him.
The soldier leaned over Hiroki's shoulder.
"She's not playing in the same game." He whispered in Hiroki's ear.
"You got yourself a puppet, just let her go."
The soldier started laughing and the feminine voice turned into a thick, echoing voice that resounded over the entire canyon.
"You don't get it, do you?" The soldier started talking again in his feminine voice. "He came at me, so strong-willed, ready to do everything he can, for...that" The soldier pointed at the girl. "And then when the deed was gone, I found a weak heart. This boy cant even get me to the surface. So easy-going, ready to bet everything for something he doesn't even believe in. But she...she has a fire in her heart, a war to fight....her soul might be even stronger than yours, Golden Bead. Sure the body is weak but with a few months of training, I can take her all the way up to the mountains of Minnenet."
"So I take it this is going to be a bad memory." Said Hiroki visibly serious.
"Measure your words, Bead. You're alone, there's no friend to jump in the fight for you this time."
"Are you sure?"
Isabelle looked confused for a second before being hit from behind by Zig, who kicked him with the legs throwing him into one of the walls of the camion. The girl screamed in panic, while Hiroki quickly mounted on the lizard.
"Let's go!" He said.
"I'm not touching that thing!"
Both Zig and Hiroki rolled their eyes at the same time, before Zig threw his head under the girl's legs, launching her in the air and then catching her on his back.
"Hold on tight!" Said Hiroki before patting Zig on the back who made him run extremely fast.
"How dare you do that...that was sexual harassment." Said the girl while hugging Hiroki to not fall.
"Seriously?! Are you gonna play that card now?"
"This is the last time we'll see each other, Golden Bead!" Isabelle said in the loud, thick voice again.
"I wish!" replied Hiroki
As they were passing through the canyon Hiroki remarked that the stones around them were way too symmetrically one to another to be a coincidence.
"Oh shoot," Hiroki said.
"What?" The girl asked panicked.
"Those are not rocks, this is a cemetery."
The laugh started again as little monsters raised from the graves and started chasing Zig.
"Don't look behind!" said Hiroki
"What the hell are those things?"
"I told you not to look. We don't have time to climb the canyon boy, we have to keep moving forward."
As the three advanced throughout the canyon, little monsters started to get out of the graves ahead of them, climb the rocks and jump on them as they were passing.
"Whatever you'll do, don't let go." Hiroki said to the girl.
He then reached out in one of the bags that were tied on Zig and took out something that looked like a wristwatch. He squeezed it in his hand, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath to calm down. After that, he opened his eyes which once again were white.
"Souls who can't find peace, I release you from your duty on this earth. Go and rest. Purification!" Hiroki said then he put the watch on his wrist, targeted it towards the little monsters, and shot with a beam of light towards them, disintegrating them. He kept clearing the way like this until they finally reached a forest, where they dismounted.
"Follow me," Hiroki said.
"Do you at least know what you're doing?" The girl asked
Hiroki didn't respond. Instead, Zig pushed her from behind with his snout. After a few minutes of walking, they arrived at an old chalet made out of rotten wood that was barely sitting on 4 wooden pillars.
"We're going to hide inside this?" The girl asked
"Even better, we're going under it."
Under the chalet, there was a unique ecosystem. Everything that a girl could be disgusted by was there, from worms to bugs and even a pair of unwashed underwear. It is no surprise that the girl didn't want to enter there, but the sound of the steps changed her mind.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are," Isabelle said as approaching the chalet with 5 little monsters by her (or his) side. "Search the chalet!"
Hiroki let out a triumphant smile as the little monsters ran inside the old house. Isabelle stood down on the grass, visibly exhausted.
"Look what you made me do, Golden Bead. This body is already dying. Now I really have to catch the girl. Maybe I'll keep you too, as a reserve, what do you say?"
The girl's eyes widened as a worm started to crawl up her feet. Hiroki noticed and signed her not to move or scream, but as the worm made his way up to her chest, he could tell on her face that she isn't going to do that. That's when Zig stretched his head and ate the worm, saving the day. 'What a hero' Hiroki thought.
After a few more minutes, the monsters returned to Isabelle, notifying her that they found nothing.
"Very well bead, I'll show you some of the tricks that I've learned." Isabelle got up and started walking back towards the cemetery. Hiroki sighed in relief for a second but then he heard a weird hiss. He immediately touched one of the pillars propelling him, Zig and the girl from under the chalet right into a tree. Before the three of them had the chance to get up, the Chatel exploded.
"There you were," said Isabelle.
Zig and Hiroki jumped immediately to their feet. Hiroki mounted and then zig grabbed the back of the girl's dress and they started running, dragging the girl after them. They ran in a straight line ignoring the screams of the girl until they finally reached a dead end: a river. The river was too long to jump over it and the currents seemed too strong to be able to swim to the other side.
From distance, Isabelle could be seen approaching with 3 monsters next to her.
'Let's think Hiroki', the boy said to himself.
'Can't jump, can't swim. I don't have enough time to fly us above the river. Isabelle has new tricks up on her sleeve, so to attack her won't be wise. Maybe a defense strategy?'
"There! A bridge!" The girl pointed to a bridge that stood above two giant rocks that stood on both sides of the river.
Hiroki mounted on zig immediately, and this time the girl jumped on the back of the lizard as well. Zig looked at her and smiled with his lick hanging outside then started to run towards the bridge. Isabelle saw them and started to run towards the bridge as well.
"It is a race then" Hiroki said while patting zig on the head.
Zig let a happy growl and ran faster than ever before. They reached the bridge first and started crossing it, but then they heard Isabelle's laugh again. Isabelle's little pets came from both sides of the bridge, surrounding them.
"Right where I wanted you to be." Isabelle laughed.
"Alright, we fight," Hiroki said reaching for something in his coat.
He then heard the same hiss, watched around, and saw one of the monsters jumping towards them.
"Or no!" Hiroki said while pushing the girl out of the bridge. Zig followed too. While falling, Hiroki could see one of the monsters exploding the whole bridge out and another monster that also hissed jumping over the bridge and going towards Hiroki and the girl. Zig pushed himself and punched the monster with the legs, throwing him into one of the rocks, where he exploded, making small rocks fall with them in the water. When they reached the water, the currents started dragging them immediately. Isabelle's monsters were standing on both sides of the river waiting to jump on Hiroki when they passed. Hiroki took out his watch again and started shooting beams of lights in all the monsters. He then looked on the bridge, where Isabelle stood angry, unable to do anything.
"Your body reached its limits heh?"
"AAAH!" the girl screamed in terror.
"What?" Hiroki turned towards the girl to see how they were approaching a huge waterfall. "Oh come on."
Zig swam towards them and both of them gripped his neck. All of them close their eyes and took as much air as they could in their lungs before the fall.
When Hiroki opened his eyes, he was already suffocating. He started swimming up and reached for the shore, where he started coughing and cursing. Zig and the girl were already out of the water and ran towards him.
"We have to keep going, we're not safe yet." said Hiroki standing up and running.
The girl and the lizard took a look at Hiroki then at each other before following him. They were now in plain sight, with no trees or rocks around them for at least a few kilometers.
"At least we'll know if they come" said the girl
"Or not," said Hiroki brushing out the dust from a wooden plank that said "Orasul mortilor"
"What does that mean?"
"The city of the dead. We're in a cemetery so old that we don't know where it starts, where it ends, or where are the goddamn graves until a monster comes out and kills us from behind."
"Isn't that just wonderful?" Asked Isabelle from the cliff. He then kissed her hand and blow it on it, sending a green gas towards Hiroki that quickly surrounded the area. Soon enough from the gas little monsters started to jump on them.
"Zig!" Hiroki shouted.
The lizard reached with the head in one of the bags and threw to Hiroki a violin bow. Hiroki took the bow in one hand and moved his hand over the surface of the bow with the other.
"Souls who can't find peace, I release you from your duty on this earth. Go and rest. Purification!"
The bow started glowing and Hiroki used it to slice through the monsters around it like he had the sharpest sword in the world.
"I'm going to need something big that can fit all of us. Like a carpet!" Hiroki said to the girl
"Where am I supposed to get that from?"
"I don't know. People are buried with valuable items all the time."
"You want me to dig graves? You know how much time will that take?"
"Then start digging already! I'll cover you!"
Hiroki could hear how the girl mumbled a few swears as she started to dig. Hiroki kept keeping the monsters at distance from the girl as he and zig were digging.
"I'm running out of time here!" Isabelle, who went down the cliff, said.
"I guess you were right then. This is really going to be the last time we see each other." Hiroki smiled.
"I found it!" the girl said while pulling out a soft carpet made out of silk.
"It's over," Hiroki said.
"Indeed," Isabelle said pointing towards the girl.
Hiroki looked back to see 3 monsters leaving out the grave and jumping on her and Zig. While Hiroki wasn't paying attention, a couple of monsters jumped on his back sending him to the ground and keeping it there.
"This is so inconvenient. I have so little time to enjoy this. We must start the ritual right now." Isabelle said while signing one of the monsters that took out his claw and stabbed the girl right in the back."
"Quiet, Bead. Your time will come too."