Chapter 4:

One Life, One Death

One Step To Hell [Short]

The confrontation had begun. Kin and Yumi were in one-on-one fights. The Captain easily knocked down any opponent that appeared in front of him. I didn't want to waste time taking down Rancis's men. I decided to use all my strength to get to Rancis as quickly as possible and make him pay for what he did. Bookmark here

I started to take down every man that came my way. When I stopped for a second to see the Captain's situation, I saw that he had a very serious face and that he was giving heavy blows to his opponents. Would “taking this seriously” mean killing if necessary? Would that be right, after all, wouldn't we be acting in the same way as Rancis? Bookmark here

“Take this, brat!!!” said one of Rancis's men. Bookmark here

I ended up taking a punch, but I quickly recovered and continued to take man by man without thinking about it anymore, after all I just wanted to get to where Rancis was. Bookmark here

They never seemed to end. Although we were vastly outnumbered, the advantage was still with us, as none of us had fallen and together we had already taken down about fifty men. Bookmark here

When I was finally getting close to the place where Rancis had appeared, I noticed that he was no longer there and I wondered where he was. Bookmark here

Suddenly, one of the men appeared behind me and hit me with a big rock on the head. Bookmark here

I fell and realized I had a little head wound, but before he hit me with a punch or a kick I got up and knocked him down. Bookmark here

“You're not going anywhere, brat.” said another man. Bookmark here

This man grabbed me by my shirt and pulled me back. I ended up falling back to the floor. Bookmark here

I started to find it strange that they were more trying to stall time than actually taking me down altogether. What was going on there, and where was Rancis? Bookmark here

I continued to take down the remaining men, and before I knew it, we had all of Rancis's men on the ground. Bookmark here

“Tired, guys?” asked the Captain. Bookmark here

Kin and Yumi replied that they were a little, but they would still hold on a little longer if necessary. They also asked if I was okay as I had blood on my head. Bookmark here

The Captain asked me what had happened to me to be in that state, since I was quite strong physically and wouldn't let myself be carried away with an attack as dangerous as that. I told him everything that happened and everything I thought. We decided to go looking for Rancis's whereabouts, but first we were going to see how Peter and Ms. Rose were doing. Bookmark here

We went as fast as we could, but when we were getting close to their tent we saw some drops of blood on the floor leading up to the tent. Bookmark here

I despaired and ran to the tent. The rest of the people in that camp looked at us with even more contempt than they had the first time. Bookmark here

I called out Peter and Ms. Rose's name as I approached the tent. Upon entering, I saw their bodies lying on the floor, all bloodied. I went into despair, started crying nonstop and got on my knees on the floor. The Captain, Kin and Yumi arrived soon after. Yumi immediately turned away and started crying too. The Captain and Kin looked quite shaken. Kin walked up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. Bookmark here

“Minori... Come on, get up.” Bookmark here

I asked Kin why he was taking things so coldly. Bookmark here

“Because this is unfortunately... the world we live in.” Bookmark here

When I heard that I just thought, because two good people died at the hands of someone. Because the people who looked at us with contempt even though they didn't know us were not killed. I only thought of avenging their deaths. I told the Captain I wanted them to pay for the death of Peter and Ms. Rose. Bookmark here

“We don't even know who killed them, Minori.” said the Captain. Bookmark here

I got up out of control and told the Captain that it was obvious that it had been Rancis, there was no way not to be him. Bookmark here

“I also agree with you, but you have to calm down and understand things around you. Rancis is missing, that is, everything indicates that he was the one who killed Peter and his mother, but he could have ordered someone to kill them too. And I'm not just talking about his men, it could have been someone from his own camp who was paid by him to do this job.” Bookmark here

I understood the Captain's reasoning, but I still believed that Rancis had killed them both. Bookmark here

We took their bodies to bury under proper conditions. After that, we decided to reconnoitre the area around Ersham village, to find clues to Rancis's whereabouts. The Captain said he wouldn't be that far away. Bookmark here

We each followed a direction. The Captain said that if the situation got any worse we should head back to the rendezvous point, even if it means letting Rancis get away. Bookmark here

As I was walking through a small forest near the village I started to hear the screams of someone who seemed to be desperate. I quickly followed the screams to see what it was about. Those screams took me to a place outside the forest. Bookmark here

As soon as I got a glimpse of that place, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Some of Rancis's men and Rancis himself were there, but they were all sprawled on the ground and appeared to be already dead. Only one person was standing, without a scratch. He was a boy who looked about my age. He was very tall, I think he was almost the same height as the Captain. He was well-muscled, had a rather somber face and had his hair tied back. I also noticed that he had the same technological gloves that the Captain used to more easily cast magic. Somehow I felt like I shouldn't face that person and decided to run away, but before that... Bookmark here

“Looks like there's one left...” Bookmark here

Before I even turned my back he was already next to me. His speed was out of the ordinary. If he wasn't faster than the Captain, little was missing. When I fond myself, I was already receiving his fist towards me. I defended myself as fast as I could, but as soon as I felt his fist hitting my arm, I immediately felt the difference in strength between us. The strength he'd put into that fist was absurd. I came out shot against a tree in the forest that I had just left. I was a little injured, especially on the arm I used to defend. Bookmark here

“Hmmm... In addition to defending my punch, you survived it. Looks like I'm going to have to use a little more of my strength.” Bookmark here

When I heard that I knew right away that he wasn't kidding, he was really intent on killing me. I had to get out of there as quickly as possible, but in the state I was in, I couldn't even move. He started walking towards me. I thought about telling him I wasn't an enemy, but I couldn't even do that, I was terrified of the amount of power in that boy. Bookmark here

“Disappears at once... Blue Fire.” Bookmark here

He when saying the enchantment of the spell created a huge blue flame around him. His gloves turned blue like the flames around him. He raised both arms and placed his palms in full view of me. That flame started coming towards me at incredible speed. I realized that it was all over for me. Could this really be my end? Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“Control 0.” Bookmark here

When I realized the Captain, Kin and Yumi were in front of me. It was just in time for that spell to hit me. Apparently that Captain's spell canceled the boy's spell. Bookmark here

“I didn't expect to see you around here, Nobu.” said the Captain, laughing. Bookmark here

“Much less me, Michio.” said the boy, laughing too. Bookmark here

“Kin, do you know him?” asked Yumi. Bookmark here

“No, it's the first time I've seen him.” replied Kin. Bookmark here

“I was going to introduce you to my new student, but you seem to have already met him.” said the Captain, laughing once more. Bookmark here

“I have to apologize, I thought he was with these bandits. Let me help you.” Bookmark here

Nobu turned to me, his eyes lit up and my wounds automatically healed. Bookmark here

“Impressed, Minori?” asked the Captain. Bookmark here

I asked why I was left unharmed, as Nobu had only approached me. Bookmark here

“This is one of Nobu's powers using the spirit world.” said the Captain. Bookmark here

I started to notice things. The person I was going to meet was this guy, and for him to be able to use the spirit world it could only mean that he was the Special Class that the Captain knew. Bookmark here

I told the Captain that I had already understood everything and asked him why he wanted me to meet Nobu to which he replied: Bookmark here

“Why, because you're going to train with him.” Bookmark here

Both myself and everyone else got a little lost in the conversation, until Nobu spoke up: Bookmark here

“Michio, are you giving me trouble again?” Bookmark here

“I just need a little favor from you, come on!” Bookmark here

“What do you want me to do, specifically.” Bookmark here

The Captain lit a cigarette and said: Bookmark here

“I want you to teach him the basics. He came from Lywood village.” Bookmark here

“I see... Basically do what you're supposed to do.” Bookmark here

“Exactly! You're right.” Bookmark here

“Ahhh… Captain. Kin and I still don't understand what's going on here, can you explain?” asked Yumi. Bookmark here

“We're a little lost.” said Kin. Bookmark here

The Captain there explained everything to them and properly introduced Nobu to us. His name was Nobu Itoh, and as I had predicted he was the Special Class the Captain knew. The Captain then went on to explain to me what the “training” I was going to do with Nobu consisted of. Apparently I was going to learn literally as he had said before, the basics of magic and spells. The goal of that training was to me to reach Class 3, like Kin and Yumi, and if possible, Class 2. Bookmark here

After that, Kin came up with a question: Bookmark here

“Nobu, how did you know they were bandits?” Bookmark here

“It's simple, I have a spell that allowed me to see people's past.” Bookmark here

Both me, Kin and Yumi were shocked to hear that he could do that. Bookmark here

“I said it was simple, but it's not that simple, don't be surprised. This spell is always active on me, it's only when I die that it ends too. However, I can't use it when I want to, it only shows me people's past when "want to". Also, I can still see the past of another life a person has had, instead of the life they currently have.” Bookmark here

The three of us found the way Nobu's spell worked fascinating, but something was bothering me. I decided to ask him why he killed all those people, even Rancis. Bookmark here

“I got to see the not-so-distant past of the leader of this group, he stabbed a woman and a child to death and then decided to run away with some of his most loyal men. Of course, as soon as I heard about this I decided to give them the same medicine.” Bookmark here

I asked Nobu what he meant by "the same medicine", wasn't he doing exactly what Rancis had done with Peter and Ms. Rose? Bookmark here

*Guffaws* Bookmark here

When he started to laugh I was furious, I asked what he was laughing about to which he replied in a very serious way: Bookmark here

“Minori... in this world the rules are long gone, now it's just “kill or be killed”, you know?” Bookmark here

Hearing that, I didn't know what to answer, but I didn't think killing was the solution to ending things. Surely there were other options for those people who were causing trouble in the world. As I was thinking about this, Nobu once again speaks to me in a serious voice: Bookmark here

“Minori, your training starts now!” Bookmark here

What awaited me from then on, would Nobu and I understand each other? Bookmark here

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