Chapter 24:

Missing Words

The Door to a Bittersweet Ending

After letting out the last tears that their eyes had, Akira and Priscilla got out of the room, in a religious silence, while Akira was bringing with him Samai’s corpse on his shoulders. Contrary to her, Leon’s body remained in the villa, burning in the inferno that the house had become after they got out, slowly transforming itself in a fireball. Neither Priscilla nor Akira said a word after what happened in the hall of the villa: the only sound they shared was the sound of their tears and of their pained sobbing over Samai’s dead body. They were united by a strong feeling: the feeling of having lost someone important for them. Priscilla lost a sister, a friend, while Akira lost the person he loved the most in that world: they were both destroyed, both emotionally and physically. Especially Priscilla: when she discovered her brother was a totally different person than what she thought, it was like she lost her brother, the same brother that guarded her while she was a child. Even though she probably didn’t understand many things of his story, getting to know what he did had surely been a shock for her. After they got out of the villa, they went out from the front gate, looking around in that city of flames, completely lost. That was when a voice screamed a name from their left.

“Akira! You there?”

At first Akira didn’t recognize the voice, but then, when a figure made its way towards them, he connected the figure to a name: the man that was coming towards them was Heinrich Vahrlein, the guard with whom he looked at Priscilla’s attempted assassination’s proofs. Why was he looking for them? He and Priscilla weren’t very willing to talk in that circumstance, but, if they wanted to survive, at least one of them had to turn their brain on once again, and he felt like Priscilla wasn’t in the condition to do so. Not that he was, either, but he needed to be strong, if he wanted to fulfil what Samai asked him.

“Live… for me… for everyone”

When Heinrich arrived near them and saw Samai’s body on Akira’s shoulders, he just looked at Akira and Priscilla, an empty look on his face, then just muttered a simple “I am sorry… for your loss…” before Akira took the word, the first time he opened up his mouth since they exited from the villa.

“Heinrich, what the hell is happening in this city?”

“Apparently… the Budkieryn army attacked the city”

Budkieryn attacked the city? That meant that they were starting a war with Norakjaele… was that in any way related to Leon and his cult? Or did he organise all of that by himself without coordinating with them? However, Heinrich seemingly hadn’t finished talking, because he continued from where he left off.

“However, no one was seen in the streets: only some guys in black that apparently disappeared after a bit. It seems like no soldier from Budkieryn ever made an appearance in the city, but there is this fire and corpses on the ground…” then, Heinrich scratched his head and whispered, like he was talking to himself “What the hell is happening to this city? Could she be…”

“Thank you for the info, Heinrich, but, why were you searching for me? Shouldn’t you be helping civilians and fight the enemy?” asked Akira, with an interrogative look on his face, still showing the signs of the tears he dropped and of the sadness he felt in the last hours.

However, when he asked that question, a series of strong noises was heard behind them: when they turned around to see what happened, they saw the remaining burning ruins of one of the buildings that faced on the street, crumbled under the power of fire. That happened not so far from them: if they had been near it, they would have probably died.

“Listen, Akira: first, we have to escape, then I can tell you why I have arrived here, okay? First your security, second what I was here to do”.

Having said that, Heinrich started to quickly run back from where he came, paving the way to Akira, who was made heavier by Samai’s corpse and slower because he was holding Priscilla’s hand, who in the meanwhile seemed to be into her own world and not paying attention to what was happening around her. They ran through the lit up streets of the city, having to various times take alternative routes because the principal ones were obstructed by fallen buildings or blazing fires. During that journey no one of the three spoke even a world, except for Heinrich, who let out various times swear words when he found a blocked path. Their objective was the southern exit of the town: that was because the majority of the people, as Heinrich said, went towards the west one, while, if there really was a Budkieryn invasion, the north and south exist were the ones from where they probably entered into the city, so they weren’t even to be considered. During that desperate escapade Akira and Priscilla always remained side by side, letting Heinrich guide them through what had become a mortal labyrinth of streets and fire. That escape lasted an eternity for them, but, at the end, they succeeded in reaching the southern exit. The strange thing is that there really was no one around them: no other assassins, no member of the Budkieryn army. How did the city take fire if it wasn’t an invasion? Maybe a local fire just propagated in all the city and there was no invasion whatsoever, a bit like what happened to Rome under Nero? Still, Heinrich was sure that that was the result of a Budkieryn invasion, like he had information others hadn’t. When they arrived to the exit, Heinrich immediately turned around, wanting to return into that flaming hell to see if there were civilians who needed a hand and to fight against what at that moment seemed more like an imaginary enemy, as if he had forgotten why he had gone to Akira in the first place. In fact, when he saw that Heinrich was about to leave, Akira stopped him.

“Hey, Heinrich… why were you searching for me? Did you need something?”

At first, Heinrich looked like he forgot why he went there in the first place, but then, without facing Akira, he replied to that question.

“No… nothing. I was tasked to see if the Natò family was all right, that’s it. Now go, you need to escape from here. You also have something to do, no?”

While he said those words, he looked at Samai’s corpse, and Akira understood what he meant with those words. He still felt like Heinrich hadn’t really told him why did he come to them, but that wasn’t the moment to make questions.

“Heinrich, thank you: without you, we wouldn’t have moved from there, probably, and we would have died”.

While he said those words, Priscilla made a little bow, as if to share them. Hearing those words, Heinrich lifted his head and looked up at the nocturnal sky, a black cloudless land that was lighted up by the red and orange colours of the fires in the city, then slightly turned his head towards Akira and Priscilla.

“Ahah, it was nothing: it is my duty to protect the citizen, after all. We helper of the justice need to keep the black masses out of this world, no?”

Understanding the reference to their only precedent discussion, Akira slightly smiled, then Heinrich faced the city again.

“Well, farewell, for now or forever. Please, don’t die”.

“Same goes for you” replied Akira.

Then, after that little discussion, Akira and Priscilla started going towards the fields that surrounded the city, slowly walking through the street that exited from the town, while Heinrich stayed still, seeing the two of them off. Then, when he saw the two of them disappear in the horizon, he prepared to return into that hell, but a voice he knew too well made him stop.

“Oh, you, you didn’t say to Akira what you wanted to… didn’t want to hurt his feeling, I guess?”

He slowly turned to his right. Near him stayed a feminine figure, shrouded in many veils of clothes that made her body impossible to recognize, a beautiful yet extremely malicious face on her neck. Still, he could never forget her. She was his ghost, his persecutor, something he couldn’t free himself of. That feminine figure had a smile on her face, but her eyes were cold like ice, like she didn’t feel anything.

“You didn’t tell him that you knew all of this would have happened, that he would have lost someone important to him… and that you had the possibility to tell him beforehand. Of course you wouldn’t tell him that: he would have killed you on the spot if you said that”.

“Shut up, you demon! Get out of my head!” exclaimed Heinrich. It was true: when he met Akira the day before, he saw that same demonic figure behind him, smiling sweetly like she was watching a child, and then, with that same smile, said him that the day after the city would have been put on fire by an enemy invasion and that Akira would have lost the most important person in his life there. When he heard that, he became pale and wanted to tell it to Akira immediately, but he didn’t want to seem like a crazy person. After all, it was always like this: since when he started seeing that demonic figure, a year ago or so, when he tried to talk about that all the people around him considered him crazy, so mcuh that his colleagues always joked about how he was seeing the ghosts of the cases he was following at the moment. At the start, the figure just showed up and stayed silent, and, when he asked to his colleagues if there was someone where she was, they all denied the presence of someone there, and he started thinking that he was getting crazy. Then, she started interacting with him, firstly by giving him clues on his cases, then by talking about more and more general things, until she started to try and make him suffer. He was always in a bad mood because of that, but at least the help she gave him at first made him go up the guards’ hierarchy. However, a bit before he first met Akira, she stopped appearing to him, and that thing made him happy: it seemed like he was sane again, and he passed those few days in happiness. However, after a bit, she started reappearing, and that was when his personal hell started. This time, her presence was more heavy, more malicious: it seemed like she really wanted to hurt him that time.

When she heard those words, her smile just became more malicious, like his reaction was exactly what she wanted.

“Oh, but I can’t, Heinrich. You are just a puppet of mine, I can dispose of you however I want. Your life is mine, Heinrich, you have to accept it”.

“Shut up! I never remember having given my life to anyone!”

“Oh, really?” Her smile seemed to say that it was exactly the contrary of what he said. “Don’t you remember what you said in that brothel, when we first met? “I don’t know what I would give for a leap forward in my career. Probably, I would sell my soul and body to the devil to obtain that”. And you remember what the girl replied? “If you want, you can do that. You just need to be sure that is really your will””.

When she said those words, a scene returned to Heinrich’s mind: a brothel in the capital, he and this beautiful red haired girl, together, in a bed, and that futile discussion. He though that she was joking, that a thing like that wasn’t possible, so he just played along her joke and supposedly “sold” his soul to the devil. If he didn’t remember badly, a few days after that he was transferred to Zuvaskja, and that was where all his visions started. When he understood what that meant, he got goose bumps on all of his body: what had he done, in a moment of stupidity and drunkenness? Seeing his reaction, the demon near him laughed, with a really malicious and malevolent laugh.

“Oh, do you remember that?”

“Y-yeah… but… with whom did I sleep?”

“Oh, you slept with one of my… ambassadors, in this world. They are loyal to me, to my cause, and they help me in creating puppets for my entertainment”.

“Your cause? Your entertainment?” asked Heinrich, not understanding anything of what she just said.

“Oh, it’s really simple: I want to see people suffer. That is my enjoyment, my daily food, my cause”. Then, with an entertained smile, she added “And you, Heinrich, have also served to my cause: some of the cases you resolved? You arrested the wrong suspect. And you did many other things for me: unfortunately, with you failing to tell Akira the reality, you just disappointed me. You are not necessary to me anymore: so, die, pretty please?”

“What the hell are you talk-“ started saying Heinrich, but then, the figure in front of him put an hand in front of her and whispered a word:


Then, she slowly started transforming her hand in a punch and, at the same time, Heinrich started feeling like he wasn’t breathing: he felt like his throat was slowly closing, like someone was trying to strangulate him. He quickly made his hands go to his throat, as if he was trying to fend the invisible hands that were slowly choking him off, while the demonic figure in front of him was still smiling, with a malice as strong as the pressure at the bottom of the ocean. Then, while she was admiring Heinrich’s useless struggles to breathe, she decided she had enough and completely closed her hand, transforming it into a punch. When she did that, Heinrich emitted a feeble gasp and then suddenly fell on the floor like a sack of potatoes, his eyes looking up, a bit of drool coming out from his mouth. Then, the girl looked at the street with which Akira and Priscilla got away, while the town behind her was still on fire, glowing like a million of fireflies together, and, always smiling but, this time, with entertained eyes, she said, as if she was talking to herself:

“Akira… do not think you have suffered enough… you are my pet… I may not be the cause why you are here, but you ended up between my hands, and I am going to fully enjoy my time with you. You can fight how much you want, but it will always be useless. Ehehe…”

Then, a gust of wind suddenly hit the town and, when it vanished, that figure was nowhere to be seen: only Heinrich’s corpse remained, immobile, in front of a silent city wracked by fire.