The hardened dirt beneath the scythe began to slowly crack. As Number Fifteen noticed the terrain under the scythe rumble, he stopped sprinting and hastily took a step back. He was still wielding Number Fourteen’s katana as Number Nineteen and Number Twenty-One gathered themselves together, tying up their injuries. I stepped back and tossed Sugu’s book at the scythe when…
A dark red arm extended up from underground and grasped the scythe that was pierced into the dry dirt by its handle. The crimson rings clanked as the arm grabbed the giant weapon. The floor instantaneously detonated alongside the scythe completely shattering and sending dust enveloping around the entire wasteland like light brown mist. Directly after, the wind gusted above the ground, extinguishing the particles of dust and dirt in the air. Crimson particles began rapidly manifesting around the detonated ground. He rose and forced himself out of the ground and into the air.
It was… The Cambion.
As the fiend exploded into the air above, he flapped his pitch-black wings, launching fulminating wind in every direction. He quickly landed directly beside me. Injured and beginning to hold my wounds, I smiled and giggled psychotically as I shouted across the wasteland to the numbers with widened eyes.
“YOU’RE ALL SCREWED NOW!”
My giggle turned into a hysterical laugh as the numbers widened their eyes in disbelief. The Cambion simply stood beside me, looking at his open hands as if he couldn’t believe that he was back above ground. He looked completely different from before. Almost every feature of his crimson body was different. Crimson particles continued coursing through the air. Number Fifteen, Number Nineteen, and Number Twenty-One all gazed at me and The Cambion in perplexity and disbelief. They were truly shocked.
After observing his hands for a few more seconds, The Cambion turned to me and spoke.
“You have brought me back into this world even after extinguishing me from it? You turning to me for salvation is proof that you have changed. You must be a follower now. Perhaps Sugu and I did open your eyes last time!”
I continued laughing as I responded seriously and this time fearlessly. I had nothing to lose.
“Don’t get the wrong idea. I brought you back because I need you, and it’s as simple as that. I’m no follower of yours.”
The Cambion seemed different than last time. His vibe, the way he spoke, the way he looked. Everything about him seemed completely different this time around. He responded as if he was amused.
“You… needed me? Yes… you’re saying you needed your God, aren’t you? Explain boy. If you’re no follower of mine, then what’s stopping me from striking you down from where you stand?”
Coal grimaced psychotically as he faced The Cambion.
“Don’t play stupid with me. I’m the one who slashed Sugu, remember? I know the gimmick. You can’t kill me because if you do, then you’ll be back down in hell in no time.”
The Cambion joined me in smiling now with exhilaration displayed on his hellish face.
“Well done boy! Well done! Last time I acknowledged your friend for being a rare one, and now I acknowledge you! Not only did you have the decency to bring back God, but you’re even aware of how to keep God safe! Well done!”
As The Cambion spoke, I began to properly observe him. He didn’t look the same as last time and was truly different in every way. Besides the crimson skin and the crimson particles that were unleashed upon his resurrection, his body as well as the features that encompassed it were completely unique from before. Perhaps it was because I revived him the proper way while Sugu, on the other hand, used improper ingredients. I responded to The Cambion’s praising with a very important question.
“So… are you at… one hundred percent now?”
He began evilly smiling with his pitch-black teeth as he exhilaratingly responded with only one word.
I smiled now too as I continued observing his new appearance. As mentioned earlier, he had crimson skin (like before), but this time, pitch-black lines were running around his body and skin in a random-looking design. His horns were the same as before. They were pitch-black, and his right horn was extended upwards and curved to the right of his head while his left black horn was circling and curving backward while connecting with his skull. Before, his eyes were different from each other, but this time, they were both the same. Before, one of his eyes was pitch-black like a demon’s while the other was like a human’s (the human-like eye that he had had a white sclera and a crimson red iris). Now, The Cambion’s eyes were both identical to each other and matched. They were both in the form of a human’s, but the sclera of the eyes was not white like a human’s. The sclera was completely black for both of his eyes, and the iris of his eyes was bright red. His eyes were practically glowing red from how bright they were in the sun. His eye sockets were of a crimson red color with pitch-black lines included. The lines ran through his face from the top of his forehead all the way down through his eyes and to his nose. His nails were alternating black and red colors and were noticeably shorter from the nails that he held when he fought Spade and me. His wings were now colored in crimson red with black lines running across them just like the ones on his body and around his eyes. I also noticed that there were some new features on his wings. There were what appeared to be black spikes running across his wings in random areas. Finally, his muscles were far more ripped and inhumane this time around compared to how they appeared last time which was scary considering the ridiculous size of his muscles last time.
The Cambion began questioning me in the terrifyingly deep voice that he held.
“So… what exactly do you need me for? Why have you cast me into this world? And your name was… Coal wasn’t it?”
I answered, “You see those guys over there?”
I struggled to point my left hand’s index finger at the distanced numbers but succeeded.
I continued, “I need you to take them out. Oh, and yea. My name is Coal Jenie.”
The Cambion squinted his horrifying eyes as he continued questioning me. He seemed far more serious than he was when Spade and I previously fought him.
“And why would I do that? You think you can order a deity to do what you desire?”
I used my injuries and the probability of death to my advantage.
“Well, you see… they’re numbers. They’re trying to kill me. If they kill me… then… you go back to hell… but…”
I glared at the face he was making as I continued. He gave me a nasty and unmerciful face.
“If you kill them… then I’ll have no problem letting you go free in this world. You won’t have to go back to hell. Do you understand? They are what stands between you and hell.”
His face seemed to spark with life as I spoke those words.
The Cambion responded as the open-mouthed numbers continued to stare at us while we spoke.
“So, you’re trying to make a deal with me, is that it? Now that’s interesting Coal. Very interesting. I can’t lie… I like the sound of freedom in this delicious world!”
I assured him, “If you take care of them for me, then you will have your freedom.”
The Cambion continued squinting at me, thinking for a couple of seconds before giving his answer.
He horrifyingly responded, “Very well Coal Jenie… you have a deal.”
Immediately, he turned from me while preparing his sharp blade-like nails. He faced the three numbers who gazed upon him in confusion, clear fear, and even caution.
“So… you three are known as ‘the numbers’, huh? I’ve never heard of ‘numbers’ before. You guys didn't exist since the beginning of time, did you?”
Number Fifteen took a step forward and ignored the fiend’s question. He seemed more cautious than before.
Number Fifteen expressed, “So… The Cambion. Half-human, half-demon, right? Yes… I’ve heard of you. I didn’t think it was possible to revive you during an era such as this one…”
The Cambion responded, “Well, here I am. If you kneel now, I might consider sparing you from my judgment despite my summoner’s wishes.”
Number Fifteen countered angrily as he tossed his shades into the sandy ground beside him.
“Me? Kneel? Don’t be mistaken. I am no man to grovel at the feet of a disgusting creature like you. You kneel to me, and maybe if you beg me enough, I’ll make you a number. We just happen to need a new Number Seven.”
The Cambion laughed, “You clearly refuse to see the world as it is, fool. You gaze at me, a being that you can’t even comprehend, and tell me that you’ll make me into something?”
Number Fifteen frowned as he wrinkled his nose in anger. He now stood right in front of The Cambion, a fair distance apart, as wind drifted his lab coat.
“I don’t know of the real world? Me? You’re not even of this world, you abomination of a creature. I know humans, and I know this world. You couldn’t understand a human because you aren’t one yourself. They are feeble creatures that need a king to lead them. All humans pathetically worship things that they believe are greater than them. Kings, popes, Gods. It’s all superficial.”
Number Fifteen extended his sword in front of the fiend as he continued speaking.
“They use these higher-believed authorities to ease their puny minds and to make themselves think they’re doing something to ‘advance’ in this society, but in reality… there is no advancement. There is no God. There is no working your way up. There’s only reality, and reality alone.”
I had trouble processing what Number Fifteen was saying, but The Cambion kept a straight face as if he was truly comprehending every word. He responded with his own ideology.
“You’re wrong, foolish human. You tell me that I can’t understand because I’m not a human, but in my eyes… you can’t understand because you’re not greater than a human. You’re bound and limited by your human body, human abilities, and human knowledge, but a being such as myself… I’m not limited to such things. You humans look to higher beings because higher beings are what created you. This is normal. This is correct. For you to ostracise such a way of thinking is for you to be ignorant of the way things ar-”
Number Fifteen shouted angrily, not allowing the monster to finish his sentence, “The way things are? Tell me again, how are things exactly?”
The Cambion shouted back, “Humans like you obey and strive for a better life every generation! Marriage, occupation, friendship, etcetera! Blah, blah, blah! If you don’t understand these things, then that doesn’t make you a king, that makes you an idiot!”
Number Fifteen countered, “How ironic! The literal half-demon understands how pathetic humans are! WELL LISTEN HERE YOU UGLY FREAK! I’M NO SLAVE TO SOCIETY AND THE VALUES THAT IT FORCES ON SHEEP! I AM KING, AND I AM THE LEADER OF THE NUMBERS!”
Number Fifteen threw his sword into the air and shouted.
The sword zipped across the air straight at The Cambion who deflected the blade by rapidly swiping at the middle of it with his right hand’s nails. While the blade was spiraling in the air, Number Fifteen rushed The Cambion quickly. The Cambion responded by charging toward Number Fifteen viciously. As the blade came down, Number Fifteen happened to be in front of the falling katana as he grabbed it by its handle and swung at The Cambion horizontally aiming for The Cambion’s abdomen. The Cambion tried to dodge, but couldn’t due to Number Fifteen’s ability slowing him down.
The Cambion exasperated, “What the? I can’t move!”
Number Fifteen followed through and slashed The Cambion’s abdomen sending blood splattering into the air. The Cambion smiled delightedly as he shouted loudly in excitement.
“I’m really no longer limited! I’m really at one hundred percent!”
He waved his hand at the blood flying in the air, turning it into an iron pike. He gripped the pike and launched it at Number Fifteen who didn’t even try to dodge the impending strike. The pike gradually slowed down as it neared Number Fifteen’s body. By the time it was about a foot from Number Fifteen’s head, he yelled out assertively, “Spring!”
The pike flew back at The Cambion at a ridiculous speed slicing his right shoulder sending more blood flying. The Cambion lifted his arm up attempting to perform another attack when, all of a sudden, Number Nineteen sent a heat-filled fist crashing into the back of The Cambion’s head. The punch sent him flying towards Number Fifteen. The closer and closer The Cambion got to Number Fifteen, the faster he began to slow down just like the pike that he threw. Before he could get close enough to the point where he would freeze completely, he threw his lifted-up arm forcefully downwards which exploded the terrain beneath Number Fifteen’s feet. Dry dirt and boulders erupted into the sky. Number Fifteen swiftly swerved and jumped from one of the rocks that exploded to get back onto the surface. Sandy smoke covered the entire battlefield now. I ran back to a distanced boulder as I watched the entire fight while holding my bloody wounds.
Number Nineteen and Number Fifteen both stood side-by-side in the smoke, trying to find The Cambion who disappeared within it. Before The Cambion could attack them through the smoke, Number Nineteen yelled, unleashing a heat blast that consumed the entire area. The heat blast sent wind blasting in every direction clearing the smoke. Number Fifteen was unaffected by the heat since it slowed down the same way everything else did as it neared him. Once the smoke cleared, Number Fifteen and Number Nineteen gazed in shock. The Cambion wasn’t anywhere in sight.
Number Fifteen seemed to realize rather quickly as he widened his eyes and screamed to Number Nineteen.
Before Number Nineteen could properly guard, The Cambion, who was now in the sky, cut his own forearm and felt a red illuminating pulse run through his body. The Cambion looked down on the numbers and screamed as he lifted both of his arms aggressively. As soon as this motion was carried out, an unrelentingly loud explosion boomed, shifting the entire terrain before my eyes. The whole wasteland began to rise and detach from itself, cutting the ground beneath and separating sandy regions of terrain from areas where it previously stood. Sending and blasting wind in every direction, the battlefield continued to shift. Number Fifteen clenched his teeth as the terrain adjusted and jumped into the sky. Number Nineteen was now nowhere to be seen.
The Cambion, who was now in the sky, cut himself several times until one of the cuts granted him the ability to gain instant regeneration. After about seven cuts, all the wounds on his body healed, and he rushed Number Fifteen who was now in the air. Midway to making contact with Number Fifteen, The Cambion cut his right wrist with his left hand’s nails granting him a new greed. The Cambion seemed to gain unbelievable speed as he jolted at Number Fifteen at the speed of light trying to counteract Number Fifteen’s ability to pressure things down. The Cambion pointed his left hand’s fist at Number Fifteen, aiming for his head, and struck at it with speed equivalent to that of lightning. His hand froze directly on Number Fifteen’s forehead which now had one of The Cambion’s nails on it. While The Cambion did manage to make contact with Number Fifteen, he still froze in the sky. From the nails touching him, Number Fifteen widened his eyes in utter disbelief as he drifted in the sky. Blood trickled down his forehead as he spoke his single daunting word.
The Cambion was sent soaring across the desert at a speed similar to the one The Cambion used to reach Number Fifteen. The Cambion spiraled across the desert leaving guiding sand in his stead until he smashed into a boulder sending shards and wind detonating in every direction. Number Fifteen landed on a large region of the shifted floor now as he touched his open hand to the blood on his forehead. His eyes were shaking in disbelief.
“I haven’t… I haven’t bled since I was a child… How? This is unbelievable. What the hell is this demon’s ability?”
The Cambion emerged from the smoke created from the exploding boulder, forcefully sending wind blowing in every direction. There was a noticeable cut on The Cambion’s muscular left shoulder. Even though The Cambion was at least a whole mile away from Number Fifteen now, The Cambion tossed and extended his long arm at Number Fifteen. Throwing the arm alongside wind rightwards, Number Fifteen was sent flying into a boulder. The boulder detonated, erupting the shifted terrain beneath once more. Rubble collapsed and the ground shook.
Number Nineteen came out of nowhere, jumping high from the chiseled and shifted terrain, and attacked The Cambion to the right of where he stood. Number Nineteen went for a flaming punch straight to the Cambion’s face, but The Cambion, as soon as he noticed Number Nineteen and before he threw the punch, cut himself again. The Cambion effortlessly dodged the strike and forcefully punched Number Nineteen right in the stomach, sending him rapidly flying into a boulder. The boulder exploded just like the others.
Number Fifteen emerged from the smoke, injured and cut up horridly. Screaming, he propelled his arm into what remained of the tall boulder, sending countless rocks spiraling into the air. He stabbed his sword into the ground and swiped his arms in the air towards The Cambion and at the falling rocks.
The countless rocks flew at an unimaginable speed straight for The Cambion who covered his face with both of his arms, unable to dodge the barrage fast enough. The rocks smashed into his body and the terrain around him creating hundreds of bomb-like echoes and explosions erupting from where The Cambion stood.
Number Fifteen was gasping heavily and gazed in the direction where he just launched the attacks, and to his amazement, The Cambion erupted from the smoke flapping his wings up into the air. The Cambion was clearly banged up from the attack as his skin was peeling and bleeding profusely in several areas of his body. There were also bruises and dirt marks scattered everywhere throughout The Cambion’s body.
As the demon made his way into the air, he cut himself one time right on his face with his right hand’s nails. Immediately and out of nothing, The demon reached his left arm into the sky, and the atmosphere began darkening as clouds swarmed the sky relentlessly. The Cambion, using his fingernails, cut his forearm three more times resulting in him gaining even more. He swerved his body toward the falling blood from his cuts and gripped it alongside the sky. The sky shattered as if it was glass, and he conjured what looked to be a literal thunderbolt straight from the sky. Sending both red and yellow particles fulminating in every direction, he bent the thunderbolt back. Number Nineteen was now coming out of the rubble where The Cambion punched him, and as The Cambion winded his arm back, stretching the arm back even more inhumanely, he took aim at where Number Nineteen stood.
Number Fifteen screamed at Number Nineteen, “Watch out! Nineteen, move!”
Before Number Nineteen could even react, The Cambion howled at the top of his lungs like a mad man gripping the lightning like it was the heaviest thing in the world. Every muscle in The Cambion’s body contracted and flexed. The Cambion followed through and launched the bolt straight at where Number Nineteen stood. The lightning bolt completely neutralized the entire area sending rocks, wind, electricity, and dust flying in every direction. The whole area where Number Nineteen stood was vaporized by the lightning as it coursed between the rocks and straight into the Earth. The Cambion smiled menacingly and laughed noisily.
Number Fifteen angrily shouted from the ground that he attempted to hold his footing on, “YOU FIEND!”
He smashed the ground with his feet, causing countless more rocks and rubble to soar into the air.
He yelled out, “Spring!”
Rocks were sent hurtling in the direction of The Cambion like bullets and cannons. The Cambion stood still and just tanked the barrage of projectiles while screaming upon impact. He fell from the sky and came crashing to the cracked and shifted land. Number Fifteen began running toward him desperately, perhaps in hopes that he could finish The Cambion off. As he neared The Cambion, The Cambion noticed the attempted assault and quickly rushed to cut himself once more, but unexpectedly and out of the smoke, Number Twenty-One erupted behind him screaming with her two daggers still gripped to her hands. Number Fifteen obviously understood The Cambion’s abilities at this point, but Number Twenty-One who wasn’t fighting at all the entire time definitely didn’t. She cried out at the top of her lungs.
“I’ll cut you into a million pieces! AHHHH!”
Number Fifteen yelled out trying to stop her desperately, “NO, STOP! DON’T DO IT! YOU FOOL!”
She viciously and unmercifully slashed at the Cambion with what appeared to be at least fifty cuts leaving a cut in practically every single crevice of The Cambion’s body. The Cambion’s eyes turned white as his mouth was open from the sheer amount of cuts performed on him in such a short amount of time.
She smiled and exclaimed in joy, “TAKE THAT! I WIN!”
The Cambion, whose eyes were white, began to smile menacingly through the pain and unconsciousness. Her eyes widened in disbelief. All of the injuries on The Cambion’s body instantly recovered, and he now had at least fifty abilities in his arsenal from the number of cuts that Number Twenty-One delivered on him. The Cambion quickly exploded from the ground and gripped Number Twenty-One's head with both of his hands. They both began screaming like maniacs. Countless elements and rubble engulfed Number Twenty-One’s skull and face which literally disintegrated her entire body from the air like it was made of ash. Her body faded out of existence as if the sun just passed through her.
Number Fifteen yelped in stress, “NO! YOU BASTARD!”
He forcefully snatched the katana and rushed The Cambion slashing and swiping at the demon as the demon dodged effortlessly and acrobatically. The pressure from Number Fifteen seemed to not work on The Cambion anymore at this particular moment in time. Number Fifteen went for a distinct slash right for The Cambion’s head, but The Cambion quickly dodged and slammed his left knee into Number Fifteen’s stomach.
Number Fifteen exerted with his mouth and eyes opened from the remarkably strong impact as saliva gushed from his mouth, “HOW CAN YOU MOVE?”
Before getting sent flying from the sheer strength and impact of the blow, Number Fifteen shouted at the top of his lungs ordering his ability to do its job.
“SPRING DAMN IT! SPRING!”
Number Fifteen’s greed activated, and The Cambion alongside Number Fifteen screamed as both of their bodies flew at boulders at ridiculous speeds. I couldn’t even see their bodies fly from how fast they were launched. Once they hit their corresponding boulder sending rocks, smoke, and debris flying everywhere, I quickly got up and ran to where Number Fifteen was sent.
As I approached the now smoky area… he was gone. Just like that, his body was nowhere to be seen.
There was only Number Fourteen’s sword impaled into the ground. I glared to my left and right to see where Number Fourteen was and if he was still paralyzed from Jessica’s poisonous bullet… but he was gone too. I forced myself up, dashing through the smoke, and saw Number Fifteen running away whilst carrying Number Fourteen on his back. He sprinted at an unbelievable speed. Damn! He was getting away, but I was too hurt to chase him. I had no choice but to watch as he got away, still clutching my wounds.
I trudged back to where The Cambion’s body was sent, but The Cambion was also gone. There were only crimson particles left. I was able to confirm two things though after this war.
Number Nineteen’s charred corpse rolled out in the shifted and detonated area where The Cambion launched a literal thunderbolt, and the ash that The Cambion warped Number Twenty-One into was nowhere to be seen.
They deserved it. For once in my life, I was happy. I saw this as a victory. It was the first time that… I actually won. It was the first time that… the numbers lost. Two were dead, and for now, that was enough for me.
I looked up and felt the breeze running through my clothing and hair. It was over. My purpose, although slightly, was fulfilled today.
In this world, we are all numbers. It’s just the ones that wear them that are the issue. Yes… the ones that wear them. The ones that wear the numbers. Up until this point… they’ve won every single battle and have killed every single person that I’ve ever cared for. But not today. Today… I won.
Today… I was the winner.
I’ll never run away from the numbers again, I swore. I’ll never give up again. I’ll win every time from now on, and I’ll make sure to cull every single number from this world.My name is Coal Jenie, and my story is far from finished.