Chapter 13:

Dual Ego (Shiro Shizuko) - Part 1

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


The voice.

It had always been inside her. Taunting her, filling her with a sense of grief. Making her think that she was pathetic. Horrible.

It was quiet all this time. But ever since that happened. Ever since she died, the voice was getting stronger.

Her voice felt like freezing ice, pressing on your body and being etched into your soul.

The more she tried to ignore the pain and regret she felt, the worse her situation became.

As she stood with a solemn look and red, tearful eyes, her mind overflowed with many wonderful memories.

Memories that were now gone, replaced by longing alone.

After all, she -her sister- had died because she was killed.

As Shiro Shizuko stood recalling those memories, she also remembered the fact that her own sister died... Because she had killed her.

---

She was awoken by the Voice again today.

Wake up, girl.” it shouted.

Shizuko was startled awake. She looked around, gathering her bearings.

“Where… am I?”

Are you blind?” the voice asked, “We are in your room, dumbass.”

“I-I know.” She responded with a hint of irritation, “But how did I end up here?”

And why should I answer you?

“Y-you could’ve kept quiet inside if you had nothing nice to say!”

Sorry, girlie. But this is what I do. Why don’t you, I dunno… deal with it?

Shizuko groaned. As tolerant as she was, this wasn’t one of the things she could tolerate.

“S-shut it!” she hissed back.

The cold laugh of the Voice echoed in her head.

Even what you say carries no meaning just like your actions. You are a wimp after all. Boss me around once you have a backbone alright?”

Shizuko ignored that statement but a part of her told her that the Voice had a point. As she looked outside she realised what she was doing there.

It’s time to say goodbye to her.” The Voice taunted, “Bawl like there’s no tomorrow because that’s what you are good for.

---

The body of the girl was draped in black. Candles surrounded the place where the body lay. Shikuzo stood beside Harumi and Rin. Harumi was trying not to cry, holding back her tears. Rin still had that petrified expression on her face.

Shizuko could tell that Rin couldn’t handle it.

You see her?” the Voice asked, “She’s in that hopeless state because of you.

It cackled wildly, “I’m celebrating here. C’mon, join me!

Shizuko chose not to listen. It only made her more depressed. She looked around at the others. Her mother had a grim face as the Elders recited chants. The others who stood watching the cremation progress, shot a loathful look at her mother and sisters. The Shiro clan were ‘tyrants’ after all, both hated and/or feared.

But Shizuko was the one who received those looks the most at the moment.

She even noticed little Kaeda, sad but also confused of what was going on. Even she began to cry out of pity while meeting Shizuko’s gaze. Her mother had an arm around her, comforting her.

Well, look at that. They know it too! It’s your fault that she died.

As the Elders finished chanting, as the body was being burned, as Kazumi’s beautiful figure burned into dust, ash grey like her own hair, Shizuko couldn’t help but recall that time.

‘The Abyssal Corpse-Hounds…’ she thought, ‘If only I hadn’t summoned them whilst I was training that day. Even if it was by losing control… If only…’

You couldn’t even control yourself.” The voice chimed in, “You wanted her to die didn’t you?

Shizuko was aware of the people whispering around her.

“That girl is the demoness right?” she heard one say.

“It’s that girl’s fault!” whispered another, “She should’ve died instead…”

“It would be one less of a monster to worry about if she had died instead…”

Shizuko’s lips quivered trying not to tear up. She went back inside the house, noticing Harumi looking at her with concern as she did.

‘It’s my fault.’ She thought to herself. ‘I hate this…’

---

She sat on her bed, her head hidden between her legs. Her mind was distraught. She was crying profusely.

I know what you need!” the Voice suggested, “Power.

Shizuko shook her head in response.

You could use more power. I can give you some of mine. What do you think?

“No…” she responded weakly.

You could use it to protect everyone. You and I both know how weak and hopeless you are.

“It’s your fault that Kazumi died!” Shizuko shot back, “You think I would accept help from scum like you?”

Oho?” the Voice said, “You blame it on me? Listen here, girl. You lost control so it’s all on you. All. On. You. So don’t call me scum. We all know who is the real scum here.

Shizuko was silent. She only sat in the same position with her mind blank. She was weak, yes. But she didn’t want this.

‘Why do people hate me…’

Everyone is scummy. The world itself is trashy. People hate for no reason. But you… no we… we could end that cycle. We could destroy everything and create a world anew... I could help you clear out every foe in your path and together we can rule our new world...

Shizuko was lost in thought and conversation as a knock was heard.

“Shizuko?” Harumi’s voice called out.

That’s my cue.” The voice said, “Think about it though…

The Voice left just as it had come.

“Harumi?” Shizuko said.

“I’m coming in, alright?”

The door opened and Harumi stepped inside.

“Your room is a mess.” She said, moving a large pile of books and papers to a corner.

Shizuko didn’t respond to that. She liked the messy atmosphere. A great place to hide from everything. Trash should be in a trashy place, no?

Harumi sat beside Shizuko with a weary smile.

“Ignore them.” She said, “They don’t know you.”

“But they are right, aren’t they?” she responded quietly, “Kazumi shouldn’t have died. It was all because I… It’s because of me that Rin is like this. And I know how bad it is for you too. And there is mother’s case. It’s all my fault”

“Something was wrong then. I could feel it. But that wasn’t your fault. If anything, I’m glad you didn’t die back there.”

“Kazumi died saving the three of us with that powerful spell. Those hounds came out when I lost control. I technically brought them here to kill her! It’s my fault. I should’ve died in pain instead of Kazumi dying that way.”

Harumi put an arm around her and brought her closer with a smile. Shizuko rested her head on Harumi’s shoulder.

“You are not to blame for that. I am perfectly fine, see? Rin just needs some time. We all do. But you do not have to wish death on yourself. The two of us don’t want to lose another sister and I know even you feel the same way.”

Shizuko felt herself crying again. She thought again and again about that time. The time where she messed up. She recalled the faint sight of Rin and Kazumi fighting together. And Kazumi’s last stand.

“There there…” she heard Harumi say, “It’s going to be fine, okay? Nothing will go wrong again. So please don’t cry…”

Tears fell down Shizuko’s face. A wave of tiredness fell upon her. She felt herself collapse on Harumi’s lap and drift into sleep.

---

She found herself standing in a dark plane.

“Where… am I?”

She looked forward, noticing a spotlight above a throne.

She walked forward, her mind confused. Hurtful images entered her head as she got closer. Images of abuse, despair, hate… gruesome and grim scenes.

She then stood before the throne. She locked eyes with the dark eerie figure occupying it. Its deep purple eyes pierced into her soul.

So…” the Voice said, “You came.

“Why did you bring me here?” Shizuko heard herself ask.

You came by your own violation.” It responded, “Your heart brought you here?

“My...heart?”

Yes. Since you are here though for who knows why… Let’s continue our discussion, shall we?

“I already refused.”

Oh?” the voice responded, amused, “Let me enlighten you on something then.

The “hands” of the voice waved in memories. It showed Shizuko taking a walk across the village. With a wide grin on her face, her younger self was coming back from picking flowers. Everything looked fine until she was interrupted by a cry in the distance.

She saw herself looking at a crying boy and saw her running towards him.

“What’s wrong?” she asked the boy.

“M-my foot!” he said. He looked younger than Shizuko was and was teary-eyed.

Shizuko looked at said body part the boy mentioned. A large wound was on his left foot and there was some blood oozing out of it.

“Did you fall down and hurt yourself?”

“Mhm!” the boy responded and began to cry again. “It hurts so muuuch!”

Shizuko smiled at the boy.

“It’s going to be okay.” she said.

She focused some mana and began to cast a healing spell.

Naturae amplexus dolorem tuum depelle et expurget.

Uvena’s Embrace!

A blue light enveloped the wounded foot.

“Pain, pain go away. Don’t come again another day. The little boy wants to play. Pain, pain go away.”

The boy looked in awe as Shizuko sang the song. The wound disappeared.

“Try standing up now,” Shizuko suggested.

The boy did as she suggested and smiled as he stood and jumped.

“Yay!” he shouted, “Thank you big sis-”

“Naoki!” a voice interrupted him. He looked back and had a wide grin on his face.

“Mom, look!” he exclaimed, “She-”

But his mother pulled him aside and looked at Shizuko angrily. With no hesitation, she landed a slap on her face and pushed her down.

“Stay away from my son, Demon!”

She then proceeded to drag the kid along.

“Stay away from her, she whispered to the child. She’s not a good person.”

A crowd started forming around the group. The crowd murmured as Shizuko got up.

“What did you do to the kid, huh?” a man asked.

“I-I healed his leg.”

“As if we would believe you, demon!” said a woman.

Another person picked up a rock and threw it at Shizuko. It hit her arm and Shizuko cried in pain. As the others started following the person’s example, she ran away from the mob. Rocks hit her back, her hands, her head too.

She finally found shelter in an alleyway and didn’t move out of fear.

The scene dissolved.

See?” the Voice said, “This is what happens when you try to do something for someone even when you are so weak. Others will shun you and even hurt you.

A cold feeling crept up on Shizuko as the voice put its “arms” around her neck. The cold felt soothing for just a moment.

Won’t you be happier getting revenge upon everyone that hurt you? Wouldn’t that set your mind at ease?

Shizuko was starting to feel like she should take up the offer. But then she shook it off.

“I-I won’t!” she shouted, “I won’t do that!”

You reject it even if your heart tells you not to? Pathetic!” said the Voice, “Forgiveness is not always an option, Shiro Shizuko. You will see that one day…

The throne disappeared and everything turned black.

---

Shizuko opened her eyes and saw she was still on Harumi’s lap. Harumi was smiling down at her.

“Had a good rest?”

Shizuko nodded. She sat up and noticed Rin sleeping as well.

“She came out of her room to check on us.” Harumi explained, “Ended up staying here.”

“She’s tired…” Shizuko said.

“We all are.” Harumi responded with a faraway look, “It’s only been a few days since her death and just a few hours since her funeral but…”

Shizuko understood what she meant. Kazumi was… and still is an important part of their lives. Losing her was the last thing she… no, the last thing they wanted.

She sighed.

“That voice in your head.” She heard Rin say, “Has it talked?”

Rin opened her eyes and looked at Shizuko.

“Yes…” Shizuko responded, “She has-”

Pain shot inside her head as she tried to continue. She clasped her head and hissed in pain.

Do not tell her about our conversation.” The Voice threatened, “Or I’ll kill you within the next second.

“Shizuko are you alright?” Harumi asked.

She nodded with a forced smile, “Just a minor headache. Nothing to worry about. So as I was saying, she just said some things that really confused me. Nothing important though.”

“Anything on what she said?” Harumi asked with a serious look.

“N-not really.” Shizuko lied, “My memories are hazy… It felt like a dream. A very… weird dream.”

Good job.” The Voice commended, “You know how to keep a secret.

‘I did it for my life.’ She thought, ‘I didn’t do it for you.’

Keep telling yourself that.

“Rin,” Shizuko said, “Are you alright?”

The question startled her but she smiled.

“I’m fine, Shizuko,” she replied, ruffling her hair.

Shizuko sighed, “I’m glad… K-Kazumi has influenced you a lot, hasn’t she? I know you can’t accept it. I can’t either…”

“… But she wouldn’t like us to cry or be sad like this, would she...” Rin continued, “I know where you are going with this.”

“Kazumi would be sad seeing us like this...” Harumi added.

“Yeah...” Rin and Shizuko agreed in unison.

Moments passed with silence but Rin said something that surprised the other two.

“Let’s make her proud. Let’s be strong enough to protect each other and the people who matter… That’s what Kazumi would’ve wanted.”

Rin had a flustered look on her face while she said this she hadn’t made this face in a long time. Shizuko had a look of surprise on her face.

But she did now as she extended her fist.

Well this is the past. She was way different back then.

Harumi had a relaxed smile on her face. But her eyes showed that she was pumped up.

“That’s right!” Shizuko exclaimed, “That’s why we trained. Kazumi wanted us to be as strong as she was. Let’s make her proud!”

“Shizuko…” Rin said, bewildered by her enthusiasm.

Harumi burst out laughing and brought the two closer to a huddle.

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” she exclaimed, “Let’s do this.”

---

The Voice was in Shizuko all along… Watching... Feeling.

She laughed to herself.

This girl has hardened her resolve but it won’t help. She’s weak. As long as I can taunt her, I can gain control.

And when I do… Oh. When. I. Do, That’s when I exert my revenge.

As it watched Shizuko pick herself up and step out for a walk, it immediately noticed the eyes that were discreetly looking at the girl.

See them?” it said to her, “They are watching. They hate your guts.”

Shizuko sighed in response.

“And do you think I care?” she asked.

Oh you do.” The Voice responded, “Otherwise you would’ve stayed quiet right now.

Shizuko walked past houses and street vendors and markets, eyes following her every move. She was ignoring the uncomfortable feeling that followed.

‘Stop.’ She thought, ‘Stop looking at me!’

She slowly hid her face with her hair. This was the norm, she knew she should’ve brought some kind of veil with her. And the dark blue skirt she wore also attracted attention. She should've had second thoughts!

Then an eerie feeling passed through her. She collapsed writhed in pain.

Something is coming!” the Voice exclaimed.

Shizuko couldn’t hear the Voice. Pain enveloped her body, blinding her of her surroundings and deafening her. But she knew that the people around her wouldn’t come to her aid.

‘It was always like this… ’