Chapter 10:

Loss (Shiro Rin)

Mages and Dragons in a New Land? They Obviously Haven't Seen a Modern War Man! Book 2


It was warm…

Her head didn’t hurt. She didn’t feel uncomfortable. She felt… warm.

She opened her eyes to a stone ceiling.

“Where… am I?”

Rin stood up, alarmed. No one was there. She was alone.

“Where are the others?” she asked herself.

“Aquarius!” she called out. Maybe she knows something.

But there was only silence.

“Aquarius!” she called again, “Where are you? Respond, please.”

But there was nothing. No sound except for Rin’s steady breathing.

‘What’s going on?’ she thought, ‘It’s unlike her to not answer.’

Rin calmed herself down.

‘Alright... I guess I’m alone on this one!’

She looked around for a window or a door and to her luck, she found herself a door lit with a flame red colour.

Alert, she slowly walked and turned the doorknob and what she saw… was jarring.

Everything turned dark… A cozy kind of feeling. Rin felt thoughts and memories jumbling up inside of her.

Where am I?

Why am I here?

What am I doing here?

She felt her eyes open and she saw the beautiful sky painted with a shade of orange. She found herself lying on the soft grass below her under a tree. But he had to sit up once she saw the sight in front of her. A familiar feminine figure greeted her gaze. She had the same elfish features, beautiful shoulder length wavy hair that was as dark as ash. Her warm, grey eyes felt like it could look into your soul.

“Rin!” she called with a wide grin, “Wake up. C’mon, or I’ll leave you there. We have to train today!”

Rin felt tears flow from her eyes as she recognized the familiar face.

The face of her sister, Kazumi.

---

Rin walked bewildered. Her sister… She never expected Kazumi to be here.

“What’s with the long face?” Kazumi asked, “Are you okay?”

Rin was bewildered. She cried more severely as she tried to process the scene before her. The grin from Kazumi’s face diminished and it became more of a concerned smile.

As Rin stood still, she failed to notice Kazumi who came towards her, pushing her into a warm embrace.

“You must’ve had a scary dream.” She said soothingly, “But it’s fine now. You are home now…”

Rin smiled through her tears as she hugged her back.

‘That’s right… What am I saying?’ she thought to herself, ‘All of that was just a dream.’

I’m home…

---

The house was just like she remembered it. Rin noticed that Harumi and Shizuko were home already. Shizuko went inside the house while Harumi stood there pouting.

“What took you both so long?” she asked.

“We got a little held up.” Kazumi responded, “Sorry.”

“It’s okay!” Harumi replied. She had a big grin on her face.

“Shizuko went to get ready for training.”

“Oh yes, I was supposed to teach you guys some spells today, right?”

Harumi nodded. Rin smiled at her, glad she was looking fine. Thoughts filled her mind with a sense of nostalgia.

“Ah Rin,” Harumi called out. “Aren’t you also supposed to get ready?”

Rin was snapped back into reality and was startled.

“Y-yeah…”

Harumi tilted her head in confusion.

“Are you not doing well?” she asked, “Get some rest no?”

“I-I fine.” Rin urged and she walked back inside the house.

---

Her room was where she could get a breather. Well, it wasn’t her room to be frank. She shared the room with Kazumi. Both of their things were there.

“What’s wrong with me today?” she asked herself. She placed a palm over her head to feel the temperature.

“I’m not sick.”

She gathered her training gear, her bow and her quiver. She felt like she hadn’t used it in a long time.

“I’m definitely not well. But I don’t feel bad.”

“Maybe you are having a bad day?” she heard a voice say.

Behind her, she looked to notice Kazumi with her usual calm smile.

“Kazumi…”

“Everyone has a bad day sometimes.” She comforted, “Even I do. It will be fine.”

Rin felt like she knew something but she couldn’t figure out what it was. It was as frustrating as an itch that was hard to reach. She could only nod as she was getting ready.

As Kazumi equipped herself with her own weapons; a bow, a quiver and a wand, she stopped and ruffled Rin’s hair.

“If there’s anything bothering you, come talk to me.” She said, “Wherever or whenever, I’m always there.”

Those words seemed familiar and yet so unfamiliar. She was reminded of someone else when she heard them… But who?

Rin had a weary smile on her face. She definitely had something bothering her but didn’t know what it was. And soon, she was ready.

“Let’s go?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

Outside the four of them stood facing weak target golems. Marks were painted on different parts; the head, legs and heart. The three were shooting at the targets as Kazumi walked past them instructing them on their form. It had been quickly an hour of silent training. They group was focused that no one struck a conversation.

Then Rin broke the silence

“Where is mom? She should’ve come back by now.”

“She said she had some meetings to attend.” Shizuko said softly, “She will probably be back soon. But, she has been gone for a while.”

“Maybe something is holding her back?” Harumi suggested.

“Maybe.”

“They are in a meeting with some nobles from our family.” Kazumi responded, “They will be late… Aim a bit to the right, Shizuko! Go for the head now.”

“O-okay!”

“Then what about dinner?” Harumi asked as Kazumi positioned her arm properly.

Kazumi laughed, “I’ll be taking care of dinner tonight.”

Harumi had a dreamy look on her face.

“Kazumi’s cooking! It’s been a while since I had food made by you.”

“Oh yeah.” Rin added, “Kazumi’s cooking was the best!”

Shizuko had a confused look on her face like she heard something odd.

“What do you mean was?” she asked. Then she smiled “H-her cooking is still Grade A!”

Rin was startled, ‘Why did I say that?’

“I-I meant that it still is the best!”

Kazumi had a grateful look on her face, “Why thank you, guys! I’ll make sure that I cook something delicious this time.”

The three jumped in joy. Then Kazumi turned to Rin.

“You should definitely get some rest.” She suggested.

“Yeah, you are acting weird today,” Harumi added.

“Y-you’ve trained enough.” Shizuko said, “You must be tired.”

“I’m fine you three.” Rin insisted.

“No buts.” Shizuko interrupted.

“But-”

“No!” the three asserted.

Rin sighed, “Fine… I’ll go. Thanks.”

The three just grinned, glad that she listened.

---

Something is wrong.

The voice inside her told her that. But she couldn’t comprehend the feeling.

She lay in her bed thinking to herself. All that she had said and done. It feels like her own self is trying to convey some sort of message.

‘But WHAT THE HELL IS IT!’ she thought.

‘Let’s see… I’ve used past tense when referring to her… And… I cried when I saw her. But that doesn’t make sense! Why would I do that? What could possibly make me-’

Just as she was processing everything, a loud scream jarred her back to the present.

“What was that?!” she exclaimed as a group of loud roars boomed below her.

She looked towards the window beside her and noticed a struggling pair consisting of Kazumi and Harumi. They both were in front of Shizuko who was on the ground going mad with pain. They were fighting against…

The beasts looked like menacing hounds. They had pale white eyes with no pupils. They looked almost broken… rotting. And that smell!

It smelled like a dead body.

It came back to her. The Abyssal Corpse-Hounds. She remembered everything. And knew what happened next. With eyes brimming with tears, she jumped down the then open window. The Wind Magic she used on her propelled her toward the hounds.

“What happened out here!”

“Shizuko!” Harumi shouted, “She suddenly-”

‘Oh yeah, she did have that in her.’ Rin thought as she shot one of the hounds in the eye. The hound roared in pain and charged at Rin. She quickly sidestepped and shot an arrow coated with flames at it. The beast writhed in pain as it fell. With a burst of light magic from Kazumi, the beast dissolved into dust.

‘I’ve only heard legends.’ Rin thought, ‘But when I saw it, I knew it was real. The hounds from the Demon Realm, Seth.’

Kazumi shot flames of Light Magic at the beasts. It was highly effective slowly the beasts down as if it was being drained of power. Rin noticed and supported her with the flaming arrows. Harumi in the meantime was next to Shizuko, casting Healing Magic… Hoping it would work.

“We might get past this!” Kazumi shouted.

And just when she said that a hound instantly formed behind Rin.

“Rin!”

The battle was getting too fast for Rin to keep up. She looked back to see the hound midair, claws ready to pounce.

Rin couldn’t react. She thought she was done for until, just as quickly, a dark shadow loomed over her, taking the claws head-on.

Rin was facing the back of Kazumi. Blood slowly formed a puddle below her but, she fought hard, ignoring the pain, ripping the hound apart with her bare hands.

Rin and Harumi could only watch in horror as three more hounds pounced at her. Kazumi was getting more aggravated until she snapped.

‘Her final bid.’ Rin thought, ‘She was not good at it but…’

ILUMINNAS CARCEREM

The hounds were slowly surrounded by a barrier. They were being damaged slowly but surely.

But then as quickly as it appeared it broke apart. The hounds were too damaged to react. Rin’s tearful eyes were at Kazumi’s deteriorating body. She lay on the puddle of blood.

Rin tried to cast healing magic but Kazumi grabbed her hand.

“Let me heal you!” Rin shouted with tears in her eyes, “I’ll save you. We can-”

“No… Rin,” Kazumi managed, “When you… get scratched by one of the hounds, your skin starts peeling off… see?” She lifted her hand and it revealed a skeletal structure.

“You know… what this means… right?”

“No…No. I won’t let this happen again! I won’t-”

Her voice was interrupted by the roar of one of the hounds. It jumped up in the air, ready to dive at the group again. Kazumi, using the last of her strength, pushed Rin back.

The last thing Rin saw from her was a bright smile as her head was decapitated by the hound.

Take care… Rin, Harumi, Shizuko…

Goodbye…

The world before her turned dark and colourless once again. All the warmth and love she had disappeared as the one who brightened up her world died in her arms once again. The smile filled with love and care, the warm embrace, the support…

Things she would never see again.

Everything was… again… a dark abyss. As dark as the one she jumped into.

The growls of the hounds were ignored by her.

‘I don’t care anymore.’ She thought. She had let her die in her arms again.

‘Kill me for all that’s worth.’

But her thoughts were interrupted by a scream. She looked to notice Harumi barely surviving against one of the hounds. She was too preoccupied with Shizuko who wasn’t getting any better.

She stood.

She won’t let them take her sisters again, illusion or not.

As quick and fast as a riptide, a chain blade beheaded the hound.

“Take her and run!” Rin shouted.

“But-”

“LISTEN TO ME AND GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”

She had no time to be kind. Rage was seeping out of her. There was only one thing she wanted now.

Harumi nodded and ran, hoisting Shizuko on her back. The hounds reacted and started chasing her, only to be interrupted by a sharp current.

“Your opponent is me now!” Rin shouted. The mark on her back glowed as the smell of the sea became strong.

Looks like this is where you are now. You’ve grown much since then, Rin.

The voice of Aquarius echoed in her mind.

‘It was you all along, Aquarius… Kazumi…’

Yes… It was. I’ve always been there for you and will continue to be there…

Tears of joy made Rin grin with determination.

‘Let’s go, Rin. Let’s save our siblings together!’

A sea blue armour clothed Rin’s body and on her hand, she wielded a scythe. Her eyes were a colour of the sea.

Rin was one with Aquarius.

Spirit Mode – Complete Possession

Two souls in one body. That was the situation here.

Spirit Magic – High Tide!

A huge wave of water came rushing towards the hounds. Unable to counter, the hounds just drowned. Spirit Magic made it unable for them hounds to reform.

Spirit Magic – Dead Sea!

The wave was a shade of crimson as the hounds were decapitated into pieces and scraps.

Rin took a deep breath. It wasn’t over.

The Copse-Hounds always had a boss in a pack. And it was coming. The elevated smell of rotten flesh suggested that much. A huge hound’s footsteps reverberated like bombs being dropped until Rin stood face to face with a 15- foot hound. It looked as disagreeable as the rest and its pale white eyes had a hungry look. Its face was a mess of torn flesh, mucus and saliva.

Rin sensed that she had not much time. The beast took no time to run at them. It was slower than its minions.

“How much time?” she asked.

“I have less than a minute,” Aquarius responded.

“That’s more than sufficient.”

“Yes, it is,” Aquarius said.

Spirit Magic - Chains of Neptune!

The water remaining from the attacks, her sweat and tears. They all now existed to bind the target. Shackles were formed binding the beast to the ground.

“I can’t hold it for long!” Aquarius warned, “Now, when you have the chance!”

Rin moved effortlessly like the currents of the ocean, slicing apart the legs of the creature. It roared in pain as it tried to react. But alas, it fell before it could. As the shackles dissolved, so did the monster’s head from a single slash from the scythe.

It was over.

It was finally over.

As Rin’s form disappeared, so did the illusion. Everything was white and Rin stood tiredly, facing a door. She lost her balance and was falling but Aquarius caught her, materializing in the process.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

“Yes… I’m just... tired.”

“It will take time to master so you will have to be accustomed to this.”

Rin nodded.

The two sat silently. It was awkward.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Rin asked, moments later.

Aquarius hesitated for a moment but then sighed.

“I didn’t know how you would take it…” she responded.

Rin was baffled. Her eyes filled with tears yet again.

“What do you mean by that?!’ She exclaimed, “All this time… I wished… I wished to see you again. Even though I knew I couldn’t. Harumi and Shizuko… both of them also wished the same. They both blame themselves every day just like I do. You died because I couldn’t save you. You died because of my hopelessness.”

“My death was by choice!” Aquarius retorted, “If it would mean saving the three of you, I would die happily. Once… no even a billion times.”

“But do you think we want that? We… no, I saw the world as just another colourless ugly place when you died! Would you die for us, even though we would live a life without meaning? Aquarius, if we lose one of our own, there is no point in living.”

Aquarius had a gloomy expression on her face.

“We are sisters after all…”

Rin couldn’t say anything more. She burst into tears crying without a sound.

“I’ve always waited…” Aquarius started, “After I died, I was born in Anima. Spirits can maintain the memories of their previous life by choice. I’ve wanted to see the three of you. But I wanted to watch from a distance. When you called out to me in Anima… I was glad. Glad you were doing well. But I decided to reveal myself to you as Shiro Kazumi because… Because I missed those times the four of us had. Deep down, I must’ve wanted to live the life we usually did.”

Aquarius, no, Kazumi bought Rin closer. The two embraced each other tearfully for many moments.

“We can still do that you know…?” Rin said.

“I do…” Kazumi responded.

“We can still live the same way as before…”

“We can…”

After moments of profound silence, the two were ready to leave.

“Aquarius, how will you explain this to Aquis and Aquaria?” Rin asked, quizzically.

The spirit laughed, “Kazumi is fine. And my sisters already know who I am. I’ve told them. They were amazed. I was tempted to narrate stories about the three of you.”

Rin smiled widely for the first time in a long time. She finally got back those moments she desired. Her life had been filled with colour for the first time in years. As they walked past the door, Rin was glad.

Things had changed.

She had changed.