Chapter 15:

Dual Ego (Shiro Shizuko) - Part 3

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


Her eyes opened to an unexpected surprise. The world that surrounded her was not the darkness that she had anticipated to land in. Instead she was in a space. The floor was chequered marble like a chessboard. The surroundings, dark and empty except for the presence of two thrones. One was as black as the void that swallowed her. The other, blue as the night sky. The former was occupied by a somewhat familiar figure who yet felt so alien in her eyes.

"W-what's this place?" Shizuko asked herself. "Hell?"

The figure laughed, its feminine voice ringing throughout the space. Its face which was just covered by faint darkness now revealed the sight of a black eyes maiden.

"You are… me?"

"C'mon, girl!" the Voice scolded, "At least remember the person who saved you. Is this the thanks I get for pulling you in here before you passed on?"

"You are her aren't you?" Shizuko asked, "The Voice. Stuck in my head"

"Voice… huh?" the girl said, her face reflecting distaste, "Even your naming sense sucks ass."

"I am not you." she answered, "I'd rather die than become the deplorable bitch you are!"

"Why did you save me when you hate me so much, huh?" Shizuko shot back, "Won't it be in your best interests to get rid of me?"

'It would've been better for my sisters if I were dead too… Better for everyone to get rid of the freak I am.'

"Are you stupid?" a response came, "Best interests? On the contrary, I need you alive for my plan. It's funny that only you can sustain my life. Like c'mon! To hell with everyone! You are a Demon, Shiro Shizuko… no, Raizel. Think about yourself. No one fucking cares about you. You should be the one above it all! You know it, I do too. We can work together for it…"

"On that note, take a seat. Just seeing you stand like that pisses me off!" she said, pointing to the zoned-out expression Shizuko had.

Shizuko sat down on the blue throne feeling better instantly.

"So… About what's going on outside." Shizuko started, "Who was he?"

"He told you himself." the Voice responded, "Valak. He's one of the 13.. And weirdly, your older cousin it seems. His aura seems… as powerful as one of the 13. I’ve never seen him. Even though I know almost everyone."

"How is he doing? Has something happened?!"

"Relax, girl. He's having a hard time breaking out I guess or we would've actually died in the real world too. If you haven't guessed, if we die here, that doesn't mean we die in the real world. The death I saved you from was basically your soul going to retry the process of this sim it looks like."

" Meaning if you hadn't saved me, I had to rewatch those moments again?"

"Yes, finally! But only this time, you would probably be stuck in a very… distorted place. Meaning that I won't be able to reach you."

Shizuko took a while to process all this…

'I should've died but…'

"T-thanks…"

"Huh?!" the Voice exclaimed, baffled.

"...For saving me."

'Thanks?' the Voice thought, 'Why even bother thanking a monster like me?'

"You are no monster…" Shizuko decided "You saved me."

"What do you mean? Did Valak hit you in the head or something?"

"No… he didn't. Although I wish I would've died. Everyone would be happier-"

A punch landed on Shizuko's face.

"JUST SHUT UP WITH YOUR BULLSHIT!"

"You stupid, naive piece of crap. You are so bothered over people who you don't even know. People who at least pity you is one thing but total nobodies who hurt you? I have told you already, girl. Being nice is not a good thing. It will only get you so far in this messed up world! Do you know why I call you a disgrace? Because you don't listen to your heart. You know you don't want this and yet, you cry like a little three-year-old."

Shizuko contemplated. Her whole life was a mess. She wanted something else…

The voice was right after all.

"Now, since you have no choice or time. You must answer. At this instant, what is it you want to do?

Valak's face floated into her mind. If he gets out of here… the real world, her family, her friends… They all will…

An unfamiliar feeling overcame her. Was it the Voice playing its tricks on her? That didn't matter. Nothing did except what she wanted to do.

And she will do it now… whatever it takes.

"Good… Now, will you give me everything you have; your thoughts, your strength, your entire being itself?"

'If it means I can have the power… I have no option, don't I? Aquaria isn't with me either. Now that I think about it…'

The Voice cackled, "Good, Raizel. You have grown up! You want to save her, no? You want to have the power to protect, yeah? You want to break away from your shell, don't you?! So you know what to do now..."

The Voice was being absorbed into Shizuko whilst she took on a new appearance. A maniacal smile was on her face now. A long horn grew from the middle of her forehead. Her eyes looked lifeless yet filled with unquenchable anger. And huge wings, delicate-looking but sturdy.

This time the calm, cutesy voice Shizuko had was replaced by an eerie, chilling voice.

"Let's go Demon hunting, shall we?"

---

Outside, Aquaria was stuck. She was shackled as spikes dug into her body. Her screams of pain echoed in the cold abyss. She surveyed her surroundings, only to see a desolate red sky. She shivered against the cold, hard floor that she was bound to. A child-like figure towered above her, his eyes piercing into her soul. Feelings of fear, grief, hopelessness. They all coupled together, she wanted to submit but her mind didn’t let her. One moment ago, she was unconscious, the next moment she was here, suffering.

"Who the hell are you?!" she shouted, aware of the fear in her weak voice. "What do you want, huh?"

"You've got guts speaking up to me, vermin!"

Valak landed a slap on her face.

"Just stay there like a good girl, okay?" he said in feigned kindness, "Your friend will be here soon."

"Shizuko…?" her struggle became more intense but it was pointless. The more she struggled, the more those spikes dug into her.

"You won't do anything to her." she will find a way… She won't lose to you… or her."

"Oh?" Valak said with a quizzical look. He gently stroked Aquaris' chin, "But they are already here, proving you wrong…"

Shock registered on her face. "No…"

The same aroused grin passed Valak's face..

"Yes… that look!" he explained, "Ohh how you turn me on! I love the look of hopelessness you people give out. And especially a spirit. Wait till Raizel sees your corpse. Ahh I can't wait!"

Aquarius spat at his face, enraging Valak.

“You-!”

A loud explosion interrupted his words and a menacing smile crossed his face.

“Nevermind~,” he said, in a sing-song way, “They are here! Enjoy your front-row seat... and your demise..”

He turned away and disappeared.

The sim at this point was dust and rubble. Valak looked over the smoke with blissful anticipation.

A dark glow emanated amidst the dust, and a single figure stood. Valak could make out the expression of blinding rage.

The Demoness, Raizel. She's finally come around.

Shizuko leapt up in the air and zoomed towards a surprised Valak. Consecutive punches followed the closure.

"An attack blinded by just your wrath doesn't work on-"

Wait

Valak suddenly jumped away from Shizuko. He felt a warm liquid flow from his right cheek.

"Huh…?" he was baffled and ran his hand on the cheek…

The Voice laughed inside Shizuko's mind.

"Not bad, Raizel… Not bad at all! " she praised.

"Blood?" Valak thought… "My… blood?"

His expression changed from euphoria to that of a madman's.

Shizuko recalled something Aquaria had told her.

"Expand your aura." she had said, "Your aura is the root of all your magic. If you can use that, you can protect yourself and others better. Create an area of effect…"

"Bitch you-!"

But before he could finish, a dark portal appeared behind him. Shizuko's hand delivered another punch. Then another portal and a punch. A torrent of punches landed on Valak. Blood spilt everywhere. Even though Valak dodged her punches, the aura around it damaged him. He didn't want to imagine handling a direct hit!

It takes a demon to fight another just as it takes a spirit to fight another. They are their own natural enemies and natural enemies of each other… But this power…' he thought, 'It's oddly familiar.'

Valak exhaled. He sharpened his senses and readied himself. The portals were coming. Raizel, his own cousin, was coming at him with killing intent.

Then the volley stopped. Instantly, Shizuko was held by the neck. Valak had caught on. A third eye grew from his forehead.

"This was fun!" he exclaimed, "You even made me reveal my Trinetra. But the fun must come to an end…"

Shizuko struggled in his grasp. It was too tight. She couldn't escape.

"Shizuko!" the Voice shouted, but she was slowly losing strength. Then everything turned black…

'Not…again!' she thought.

Valak surveyed the aftermath. Everything was in shambles. The sim was buffering. Everything was fading away slowly. Valak took a deep breath, savouring the air.

"This is it!" he shouted, "THIS IS WHAT WINNING FEELS LIKE!"

He laughed with hysteria, admiring his work.

"All this DESTRUCTION! It was worth the humiliation! The girl is dead. The girl who hurt me is dead! Everyone who dares to hurt me will rot!"

"No…." a voice whispered. Valak looked behind him with disbelief to see Shizuko awake. “I can't..lose here. I can't… let her die. I don't want to be pathetic anymore!"

With the last of her strength, she grabbed onto Valak.

"You are sooo persistent!" he shouted, stomping her head. Once, twice, thrice, but the girl didn't let go. She touched the Demon's cheek until his blood was on her hands.

"What do you think you are-"

He has to stop and witness the unthinkable. Shizuko had ingested Valak's blood.

"What?!" Valak used all of his strength and pushed her away from him. He wasted no time delivering a punch on her face.

'I hope you know what you are saying!' Shizuko thought.

"Trust me." the Voice responded, "I have no reason to lie to you in this situation!"

'Alright."

As the blood entered her, she felt power welling up all the same. She knew what she had to do next.

Porta Kaligos

A dark mist surrounded Shizuko and she felt like she was being dragged to a place. Everything was darkness, the air felt cold but calm around her… and then everything brightened up.