I was leaning back against the tree where I was placed, and Coal was standing to the right of me. A slight wind was blowing pushing both my hair and Coal’s. My tan tank-top was completely tarnished and severed from my body from The Cambion’s slash, and besides my shorts, all I wore was a mix of shredded and intact long white bandages that coursed throughout my entire body. I couldn’t move my muscles or bones even a little. I felt paralyzed after having to hold The Cambion down. The only things that I could move were my eyes and mouth, but I still struggled to speak.
Coal turned his head and looked at me as the wind carried his baggy clothing. It was fascinating really. The blood from cutting Sugu and The Cambion’s arms off covered his clothing and open skin, but besides a few cuts and definite bruises, and compared to me, he was barely hurt.
Coal turned to me asking curiously, “You good?”
I struggled to respond but let out a word slowly.
He took one step towards me when all of a sudden, he froze and widened his eyes in shock. He looked surprised.
Coal exclaimed, “No way. Is it because I got the last blow? That counts as a death?”
I looked at Coal suspiciously as I laid immobilized against the tree. Coal skeptically reached his right arm out slowly towards the area where The Cambion met his demise. The wind began getting stronger and stronger. It was like a hurricane was starting to form. Trees were rustling, moving in all sorts of directions, and crimson flowers began breaking from the ground and flying crazily into the air. I couldn’t move my arms to cover my face, so I half-closed my eyes as I witnessed Coal clenching his teeth, struggling. The wind was hitting my face forcefully. He threw his left arm on top of his right perhaps for stabilization. The wind was getting stronger and stronger, and Coal began shouting with struggling eyes. He gripped the open air like it was a dumbbell and a weapon vigorously appeared out of thin air sending even more wind blasting in every direction causing both Coal and I to close our eyes completely.
I felt the wind settle down, and I opened my eyes as soon as I felt comfortable to do so. I saw Coal standing in his same position, but this time with expanded eyes and an open mouth. He looked both startled and astounded. The same crimson-light-like particles from when we were fighting The Cambion proliferated around Coal’s hand which was now holding… a new weapon. It was a humongous great scythe the size of Coal’s body. He dropped it from how heavy it was (or at least, I was guessing that was the reason), sending the crimson particles dissociating in all sorts of directions from the impact of the drop. The scythe had an incredibly sharp curve in which the blade was completely silver and steel. The sharp curved edge glimmered with a crimson color upon reflection. The weapon had a long pitch-black handle with crimson rings attached in random spots. The rings clanked against the handle when the weapon hit the ground. Besides these unique features, the one thing that stood out the most was what appeared to be a noticeable shaft right in the middle of the black handle. I wondered what it was for. Despite the fact that Coal dropped the blade from what I was guessing was because of its weight, it actually appeared relatively light. Its design was truly unique.
Coal picked the blade up, this time effortlessly like he was holding a feather, and examined it. Every time he moved it, the random crimson rings implanted into the handle were clanking like tools. Perhaps it wasn’t the weight that made him drop the blade. I was guessing now that maybe he was just frightened or surprised. I spoke to Coal as loud as I could as the wind and particles began to dissipate.
“What… the hell is… that?”
That’s when I remembered what happened before. I remembered how Coal conjured a small blade out of thin air right before our fight in the flower field. I remember that he was disappointed with what he received. At the time, we were talking about the supposed pedophile who went into shock and later died in Phoenix Village. He explained his ability to me, so I know that he gains new weapons every time he kills someone. Did he gain a weapon just now? How though? He didn’t kill anyone? Coal looked at me and spoke.
“It seems I gained a weapon from that monster’s demise.”
I responded, “But… how? You didn’t… kill it… did you?”
He looked at his blade and back at me as if he was trying to understand it all too.
“I mean, yeah. I didn’t kill it I don’t think? But, maybe my greed recognized it as a kill.”
His greed? He obviously meant his ability, but I’ve never heard anyone call it “greed” before. That was interesting. I didn’t respond to him. He stabbed the scythe into the ground precisely, and now took his right hand that was holding it and stretched it out the same way he did when he conjured the great scythe. This time, he gripped the air and a unique medium-sized dagger appeared out of thin air.
Coal spoke to himself, “So, that’s what the old man was worth.”
It made sense. If he received a weapon from The Cambion’s demise, then it’d only be natural that he received one for the old man’s since he got the final blow on him as well. He twirled the dagger and routinely stuffed it in one of his countless sheathes. It seemed to surprisingly fit well. After putting away his newly acquired dagger, he jerked the scythe out of the ground and stretched it to his right the same way he did when it was conjured into his palm. After holding it in that position for at least one second, he let go of the weapon and it vanished into thin air. It was like he just performed a magic trick.
“I think I’ll put that away for now. There’s no reason to carry something that flashy around.”
First, Coal walked over to where Sugu tripped and got dragged into the ground, and he picked up the weird book that he dropped. While still carrying the book, he made sure to snag Arsenal’s shard from the altar as well with his other hand, stuffing it into another one of his sheathes. He murmured in slight anger as he subsequently stashed the creepy book under one of his belts. It was like he was saving it for later or something.
Coal tsked in anger, “Damn it. Now I can’t even consider reviving Arsenal for at least another decade. The altar’s been used.”
After that, he came towards me and picked me up off of the ground. He threw my arm around his shoulder and began pulling me back towards town. My legs were sliding and dragging through the crimson flowers and dirt, but I didn’t feel anything.
Coal trudged us along as he reassured me, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. I’ll take you to Yuri. Oh, and the arm of The Cambion.”
We both looked at it for a moment as Coal continued.
“After dropping you off to Yuri, I’ll get it for you so you can get some money from the bounty hunters. If I remember correctly, things like this can get you millions if they’re real.”
My eyes sparkled joyfully. My life was about to change for the better! While my body was truly messed up, I was happy that this all worked out in the end. Everything was peaceful now. I felt like we both truly won. For some reason, I began to smell smoke, but I just ignored it. As Coal took a couple of steps forwards carrying me nearing the forest, we unexpectedly heard a voice. Someone was speaking to us. We turned around and saw the man emerging from the crimson bushes behind us.
“Woah, woah! Hold your horses fellas!”
Coal and I looked at the man curiously, but after a couple of seconds, my eyes widened. I can tell that Coal’s did too. Flames were devouring the entire area as the man walked, burning the crimson flowers, bushes, grass, and leaves that surrounded him. He was smiling ominously. As the man-made his way further towards us, noticeably withering and burning more and more plants, he seemed to be observing the entire area. He paused and looked around. First, he looked at the giant stone monument and the altar, and then he looked at The Cambion’s crimson severed arm in confusion and clear disgust. He also seemed to be looking at the blood all around him. Finally, after about a minute of just looking around, he looked at Coal and me with a straight face.
“Hmmm. What the hell is going on around here? I mean, seriously. Look at you guys covered in blood and cuts. Did you guys do all this?”
I couldn’t get myself to speak since I was paralyzed, so I looked to Coal to respond, but he was just frozen, staring at the man with wide eyes and an open mouth like he just found bigfoot.
“What’s the matter kid? What’s with the face? That looks like the face of a man who’s… guilty of something.”
Coal took a step back while holding me, and he even began shaking a little like he suspected something of the man.
“Come on! I’m not that ugly, am I? What? Are you going to piss your pants next?”
The man began walking towards us, smiling again like he did when he first arrived here. He was a relatively tall man with extremely long red hair that ran down to his shoulders like a woman’s. As he walked towards us, he began tying the hair back into a ponytail. As he pulled the hair and slicked it back, a design was revealed in his hair. There were carefully cut lines revealed on the right side of his head, almost in a diagonal-lined fashion. The design started at the beginning of the right side of his head and diagonally ended in the back as the final line coursed down. His left side wasn’t visible at the moment since his right side faced us. Once he finished tying his hair back, he smiled menacingly now and spoke.
“Wanna see something cool, kids?”
It was beginning to get dark out as night-time loomed near. The man laughed as he turned his head to the left revealing a design line in his hair completely different from the one on the right side of his head. It was… a number? Yea… it was… a number. Coal jumped back letting go of me as I fell back against another tree still paralyzed. The hair-lined number on the mysterious man’s head read a perfectly lined “#19”. Besides this revealed design on his head, he was a muscular man, but not too big. He was wearing a light-grey and long-sleeved tight compression shirt which revealed his great muscles and abs completely. It was still a crewneck-type of shirt, and the compression-like material truly consumed his body as it stuck to him like tape. He also wore black sweat-pant-type joggers, and he had a distinct black glimmering bracelet on his right wrist which matched his pants perfectly. Coal seemed truly shocked for some reason. I wondered why. I struggled to speak.
“Coal… what’s… the matter? Is this guy… bad… news?”
Coal glared at me fearfully and exclaimed, “Spade! Remember the numbers I told you about? THIS IS ONE OF THEM!”
My eyes widened. If I remembered correctly, Coal was telling me before that these “numbers” were the “true scum of this world”. This was bad. I couldn’t move. Flames were beginning to ignite more and more around the man as smoke and heat reached Coal and I quickly. The number faced us with a smile, began cracking his knuckles, and spoke like he actually felt bad.
“I don’t enjoy killing children. Seriously. But, if you guys are the entity that I was told was here… then I’m afraid I can’t miss this opportunity. Who knows how much I’ll gain from this!”
I closed my eyes blinking for only a millisecond, and when I opened them, I felt a burst of heat hit my face and body. The man was right in front of me. He was fast. Coal was looking at the man fearfully like he was the grim reaper. Coal quickly unsheathed his machete and slashed at the man, aiming for his neck. The man looked down to where the slash was coming as he smiled with his head held up. As the blade came down on the man, the closer and closer it got to him, the quicker it burned. By the time it connected with the man’s neck, it was ash. Coal’s right-shirt sleeve was on fire as he gazed at the flame in pure desperation. He tried to put the flame out, but as soon as he tried, the man with incredible speed kicked Coal with his left leg straight to Coal’s right oblique. Upon connecting with Coal’s body, Coal’s shirt and skin instantly burned, sending Coal stumbling onto the now withering crimson grass backward. The kick was decently strong, but his speed and burning were the real problems.
He turned toward me and before I could even speak, he grabbed my head with his right hand completely palming my head. I remember his psychotic smile. My head began to burn. The burning and pain were insane and unbearable. I screamed at the top of my lungs in great pain, but I couldn’t move my body to even try to escape. I was blanking out. The man winded his arm holding my head back and up into the air while my face continued burning. I began having flashbacks of random memories, both good and bad. Mr. Pappagul letting me rent the apartment. Graduating college with all my buddies and getting my degree handed to me on stage. Lifting weights at the gym with my friends. My family and I going to a restaurant together after one of my little league baseball games. Warren calling me a loser and yelling at me to continue stocking the shelves at the grocery store. And then there was the final memory that I had. My father pointing his finger out of the door, kicking me out of the house. My life was flashing before my eyes.
I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t hear anything. The man slammed my head into the ground with incredible force sending dirt, heat, and withered crimson flowers flying in all directions.
I blacked out.
Coal Jenie’s Point of View:
I was on the ground from the number’s heavy heat-filled kick holding the burn with my right hand. I looked up to see the man holding Spade’s head with his palm. Spade was screaming crazily as his face was clearly burning from the man’s hand. The number’s greed was clearly tied to heat, perhaps exerting from his body. Was he wearing the compression shirt to conceal all of his heat?
He was a number, but I was just sitting here. I have to help Spade.
I forced myself up, but as soon as I got up, the screaming from Spade stopped. I rapidly looked at the scene with grave eyes. The number was holding Spade up, winding his arm and his head up and into the air. I began having flashbacks of when Number One slaughtered my mother plunging her head in the pot of boiling stew. Number Nineteen was holding Spade the exact same way Number One held my mother.
Not again. NOT AGAIN. THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING TO ME AGAIN! There was no way I could get there in time to help, but I ran as fast as I could towards them anyway. The man was about to bring Spade’s head down. I howled out desperately.
“NOOO! DON’T! WAIT! WAIT!”
I was closing in on them now, but the man slammed Spade’s head into the ground with tremendous force sending rubble and withered plants flying everywhere. I covered my eyes, but a wave of heat hit me from the impact of the number’s slam burning a part of my shirt. As I looked back at them quickly through the heat, I horrifyingly noticed the number screaming and slamming Spade’s head on the ground. I closed my eyes. Dirt and heat splattered in all directions, even onto me. I just stood there… like before… witnessing the horror that filled my eyes.
The man stopped screaming and slamming Spade, and heat blasted in all directions as I covered my face with my arms. My arms were slowly burning from the immense heat being exasperated by the number. Crimson grass and flowers melted like butter around me. He was laughing like a lunatic… he was laughing… like Number One. He looked up into the sky and screamed in ecstasy like he was receiving a power-up. The heat was truly exploding in every direction now.
“OH, MAN! THIS GUY WAS ONE OF THE RARE ONES! THIS FEELS… THIS FEELS… AMAZING!”
The number was crying in joy as he laughed like a psychopath. The number. He gained. That means that… Spade is… gone. I began crying profusely. It was happening again. This was happening again. It’s always the damn numbers! It’s always the damn numbers!
Fear and agony consumed my soul. There was no way I could ever take this guy down. He was Number Nineteen. He was clearly… too strong. While crying, I turned around and made a dash for it… abandoning Spade.
I ran and ran and ran… just like before. First my family… and now Spade… for no reason at all. I kept yelling out in fear and rage as I wept and scampered away getting farther and farther from where Spade met his demise. I wanted to turn back and kill that piece of filth, but I was too afraid to even try. I wasn’t like Spade. I wasn’t brave.
I was shouting psychotically both fearfully and angrily as I sprinted, “THEY WILL PAY! THEY WILL PAY! THEY WILL PAY! THEY WILL PAY!”
While running for hours I repeated the same line over and over, I stopped, fell on my knees hopelessly crying, looked at the dark sky, and just screamed.