Chapter 3:

Knot 0.5 - Link 2 : Entrapped Amidst Fear And Incandescence... The Knot And Link Allied Under The Parasol Of The Heavens!

SLATE[=]GRAY - The OELN Series


********** LINK 2 **********


“G’h…ngh…kg-gch…!”.

Gagged due to pain
and shock;
beads
of sweat cling
above Kessetsu’s bulged eyes;
now fixed—

*Hiss~SSsss~~…*


—upon the Tsukumogami.

Growing amused
by his terrification;
the monster’s-

*Gr~in~…!*


widens—tearing
through its decayed cheek
with a sound similar
to an old,
crumpled plastic bag being pulled
to the point
of tearing.

As if mimicking a footballer
on the brink
of serving a penalty kick,

*Ra~ise…*

…it slowly lifts its bony leg back…

*S~wiff!*


before driving its foot-

*Dh-whaa!!*


right
into his ribcage.

The bone-snapping blow
—despite the gravitational shift
within the barrier—
easily scoops the boy
off the ground.

“Gh-…g’aa~arrgghh~~!”.

Following a winded gasp…his rotating body…on account
of the barrier’s exerting force…

*Dhof-fhh!!*

—slams
down spine-first.

“—LEAVE MY OTOTOCHAN ALO~NE!!” Rensa shrieks
with pressed eyes.

Even so,

*V~eer!*


the creature throws her only an irked side-glance.
Eventually…

*Tu~rn~…*

…it returns its displeasure
to its target.

Unjustly free
from the barrier’s influence;

*Tchok…Tchok…Tchok…Tchok…*


it approaches him;
positioning itself
above him;
legs far apart.

*Glare…!*

Scowling—

*Pant-Pant-Pant-Pant*

…as the human boy breathes insufferably…

—it speaks
with a hissing,
woman-like voice when it tells him,


“You have belated my engagements twice now by refusing me your allegiance!
Which is why I find it befitting that you be rived from your beloved sibling on account of death,

…ere she suffers the same fate!”.


That said,
the decayed being lowers—

*Wra~p…*

…seizing Kessetsu’s neck
with its icy,
clawed fingers.

Like a farmer hauling a giant turnip
from
out the soil,

*Skgg~~gg~h!*


it easily scoops him
up
from
underneath itself as it straightens again.

“…!!”.

Rensa now plays a hopeless,
wide-eyed witness.

The Tsukumogami
—its distant image that
of a longhaired corpse standing
over its own grave
at witching hour—
effortlessly holds her brother
out
at arm’s length—

*Clasp!*

—squeezing his neck as if it were nothing,
but rolled up newspaper.

“N-no…” she murmurs as if
under hypnosis.
“—I SAID NO,
YOU BASTARD!
LET MY OTOTOCHAN GO!
LET HIM GO~!!”.

Enraged now,
she struggles,
but manages
to-

*L-Li~ft*


a trembling arm.

*Dhgh!*

Slamming it
down a few inches
before her,
she uses it,

*Skg~~ghg~h*


to drag herself
forward.

*Dhgh! Skg~~ghg~h… Dhgh! Skg~~ghg~h…*

As she persists,

“Gch…o…totochan…hn~ng~h…”.


the razor-like,
rock-strewn patch
of ground
beneath mars her tender forearms.

Yet,
despite her pains,

*Grind!*


she gnashes her teeth
and,
overlooking her suffering,
ploughs on…

*Dhgh!*

…inch…

*Skg~~ghg~h…*

…by
grueling inch.

*Squee~ze!*

“AAAARGGHH!
GHAA~AAARGGHH!”.

Kessetsu’s agony forces his cries
passed his tightened throat.

In an attempt
to fight
back;

“Kg…kg~ggg~gghhh…”.


he resolves
to lift his arms.

“Gngh…kg-g-gh-g-gg~gh~…!”.

However,

*Shiver Shiver*


they simply quiver;
not budging a single inch.

*Squee~ze!*

“—G’KH~AA~AAARGGHH!”.

*Squee~ze!*

“G’YA~AAAAARGGHH!!”.

Elated
by the sounds
of its retribution,

“Kh-kh-kh-kh-kh…!”.


the spirit cackles
with nil shame or,
mercy.
Although,
its glee,

*Hiss~sSSs~sSSs~…*

…quickly sours
from loathe.

The clawed ends
of its boney fingers,

*Pierce!*


digging deeper
into the soft,
unreliable skin
of the human’s neck,

*L~eak*


draw trickles
of blood when it tells him,


“During our former encounter at that wretched Kaname,
I required your assistance to decimate that vainglo~rious Kiu!
Yet…you opted to flee!
Then,
tonight,
both you and your sibling refused me your assistance yet again,”.

*Squee~ze!!*


“—GLA~D TO REMIAN TRAITORS IN MY PRESENCE!”.

*Squee~ze!! Squee~ze!!*

The glint
of life clinging
to Kessetsu’s doleful gaze steadily begins
to weaken.

*Squee~ze!!*

“—Tell me,
traitor!
Assistor to the selfish swine!!
What made it unfeasible for you to assist me…?
On one side,
it truly does gri~eve me to be the one liable for the demise of a Haikan comrade,
yet…—YET THE OTHER SIDE CRIES TO ME!
ASSURING ME THAT YOU DESERVE TO BE DAMNED TO THE AFTERLIFE!!”.

*Squee~ze!!*


“—DAMNED!!
ALONG WITH EVERY GLUTTONOUS OPPRESSOR WHOSE FOREFATHERS HAD DIVIDED THIS HALLOWED ISLET BY REASON OF THEIR SUPPOSED PREPOTENCY!!!”.

*Squee~ze!! Squee~ze!!*

At this point,
the boy’s limbs stiffen
like tree branches
during a frosty winter—

—his head lolls
back
from his neck as if his only hope lies
in the heavens—

—while the pale violet
of his face
and bareness
of his eyes illustrate his intimacy
with the death wished upon him.

*Squee~ze!! Squee~ze!!*


Yet,
startlingly,

*Squee~ze!! Squee~ze!!*

the frigid grip tightened
around his neck lets go-

*Dhoofh-fh!*


allowing him
to drop
to the ground
like a punching bag that just got its stuffing beat
out
of it.

“*cough-cough*…!
*cough*…!
*cough-cough*…!”.

Sprawled
on his back,

“*wheeze*-*wheeze*-*wheeze*-*wheeze*…”.


you would think a giant stepped
off his chest considering how he pants.

“*wheeze*-*wheeze*-*wheeze*-*wheeze*…”.

Consequently,
his countenance flourishes
back
to life as his once-withdrawn blood flows
back
into his face.
Yet,

“*wheeze*-*wheeze*-*wheeze*-*wheeze*…”.


all too suddenly,
the shadow
of jeopardy,

*Loom…!*


spreads
over him
like a killer
in the night.

*Blink Blink*

“…?”.

Opening his eyes questioningly…

“—*gasp*!”.

—they distend—

…at the sight
of the spirit’s open hands;
aimed at
him
with the intimidation
of a pointed firearm.

Soon after,


*Flash Flash-Flash Flash Flash*


a million specks
of blood-colored light materialize
around the creature’s lean ankles.
Similar
to an astral constellation
in appearance,
but not color,

*S~wi~~rl~*


the glowing flecks spiral
upward,
and,

*S~wi~~rl~*


after having encircled its skeletal legs,

*S~wi~~rl~*


torso,

*S~wi~~rl~*


and neck,
fades
at the point
of its crown.

Two similar colored orbs
of light,

*Flash Flash*


then appear
at its gaunt shoulders.

*S~wi~~rl~*

Coiling
round its downward-slanted arms
like a pair
of twin,
glowing serpents,
they come
to a stop once reaching its spread palms…

*Merge!*


afore blending
into one another-

*Flash!!*


forming a large,
glowing sphere.

Kessetsu,

“…!!”.


unable
to tear his eyes
from the radiant orb;
watches
in exposing vulnerably as it begins
to warp
and…


“Conceived from a spheric portion of Paradise:
was a lengthy nose skewed like its owner’s nature;
a scoundrel’s grin that curled into a pair of ears akin to an imp’s;
and eyes filled with the ill-omened disobedience of man…
Thus, His creations were Sanctioned to them to use…however they so desired…”


“Wh-what the…!
Th-that’s…!?”.

Presently floating
before Kessetsu’s stagger…

*Doom!*

—is the decapitated head
of an almost reptilian-faced goblin.
The size
of a beachball;
it burns bright red—the tattered cloth cloaking it giving it the impression
of a dark sorcerer.

*Roll…*

Having aimed its toad-like eyes
at the boy,
it mocks his helpless state-

“Hhe~h-Hheh-Hheh-Hheh-hhe~h…”.


with wheezing croaks.

The spirit,
clutching the side
of its manic-grinning face,
thereupon hisses,


“Sanction…

—of
the Afterworld’s Beheaded Fugitive!”.

A few feet
away,

*Dhgh! Skg~~ghg~h…*


“G’khn…nnng~gg~ghhh~…”.


Rensa continues
to push
forward
by way
of crawling
on her belly.

Her forearms are now disfigured-

“A-a…ow!”.


with numerous,
tiny,
bloody scratches.

“Ng…kg-gg~ggg…”.

Battling
against the persisting force
and her anguish;
she lifts her head—

*Sh-Shiver Shiver*

“O…toto…chan…?”.

—and encounters her twin’s terrified face.

“…?!?”.

Trailing the path
of his horror,
thenceforth…

*P-Pe~~er…*

…she spots the huge goblin head afloat
before the spirit.

“!!”.


Quickly comprehending the imminent-

*Dh-dhoobh!*


her heart dies
for a split second.

“—OTOTOCHAN!!
NO~!!”.

As if prompted
by her fraught cry;
the luminous goblin head squeezes its eyes-

*Shut!*


and,
with a disgusting ‘croak’-

*Bloat!!*


balloons
like a frog’s throat.

The gusty force
of its sudden growth spurt-

*Vwoosh!!*


blasts the Tsukumogami’s bone-dry hair
back (the creature’s hand already covering its unknown right eye
from any intrusive gaze,
though).

*V~HoO~~O~ooOOoo~~*

Whilst the produced gust continues
to scruffily comb the length
of its desiccated hair;

*Snee~r…!*


the monster’s face livens
with delight—its infamous,
uncovered,
protruding eye-

*Glower!*


rolled
to the boy.

“…!?!”.

Gawking
back,

*Shudder Shudder*


Kessetsu’s words are gripped
back
by the cold hands
of fear.

“Do you see now,
boy…!?
WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER HAD DENIED ME YOUR ALLIGIANCE!?” the spirit shrieks—the goblin head now twice its original size;
seeming ready
to burst any second.
“—NOW,
WITH THE REMORSE OF YOUR POOR CHOOSING,
DEPART FROM THIS MISFORTUNATE MATERIAL PLANE AND REMAIN DAMNED IN THE AFTERLI~~FE!!”.

Pursuing the creature’s death-desiring exclamation—

—an elongated object,
resembling an arrow shot
from heaven,
descends
from the dark,
starry sky
with the velocity
and appearance,

*Ss~~ssh~~yhuu!*


of a fired missile.

*Ss~~s-shing!*

Piercing
through the hexagonal structure;
it speeds
towards the spirit
and Kessetsu
before vanishing-

*Dh-BOOOFFV~VHHhhh~!!*


into the calamitous explosion that consumes them both.

“…!?!”.

The sight-

“—OTOTOCHA~N!”


devastates Rensa.


********** TO BE TIED **********