Chapter 39:

Volume 2: Prologue

The Dusk of Revenge

"Guess what time it is?" I looked at the man sitting behind the bars of magnetite. He gave me a smile and raised his hand to his mouth in an old-fashioned gesture as if he were about to whisper something secret.

"As if I can differentiate between day and night in this cell." The voice was dry with contempt, but the man's face remained calm. "I'm sure you want to ask me how many years have passed since I've been incarcerated here," continued the man, looking straight at me through the bars.

"I am not here to dwell on the past or to have a friendly chit-chat with the likes of you," I said coldly.

The man shook his head with a sad smile on his lips. "You are right; I don't have anything to say that would make sense to someone like you. 6 years have passed now? Have they done any good for you?" The man paused before continuing: "It seems like you already know everything there is to know about me... Am I right?"

"Well, yes, I do. All the information I could get my hands on. But I want more. How about we make a deal... This might help you." I tried to sound convincing.

"Help me? You're kidding, aren't you?" asked the man with a mocking grin. "If you think I'll be able to walk out of here in exchange for some information, then you are mistaken. They won't let you lend a helping hand even to someone who really needs help. And it doesn't matter anyway," he added softly, "because I am no longer a person. Since that day, 6 years ago, I stopped existing. I'm no one anymore. I'm nothing."

His words echoed in the empty, dimly lit room.

"Well, that doesn't matter to me," I replied coldly.

"What do you mean?" asked the man. "Are you going to kill me?" He looked at me warily.

"No, I won't kill you. The strike that didn't kill you six years ago was the perfect execution of my revenge on you. I am here only to hear the answer to one question. And then I will leave."

There was a long silence.

The man's eyes seemed to search for something in the darkness beyond the bars of the prison cell. In the end, he leaned forward and spoke quietly and menacingly: "Now, that's what I need to hear. What is it that you search for? Tell me and I'll tell you. I'll give you the truth."

He stared into my eyes. For a moment I thought about saying no, but then I decided to trust him, after all, I knew for sure: that mouth of his can't keep a secret from me. So I nodded.

"Do you want to know who killed Rin 6 years ago?" The man smiled again.

"You know?"

"I take it that's your question? Careful smart boy, I may just be wasting your time... I have nothing to lose after all. But you, well, you might be in really deep trouble..."

"I forgot how cunning can you be... Here's my question: who killed Rin 6 years ago?"

"So it is that question after all..." The man threw back his head and laughed loudly.

"You see, it wasn't a coincidence. It wasn't an accident," continued the man without stopping his laughter.

"I know that the one who passed the order of the attack 6 years ago wasn't the boss of the Red Claws. I knew that lately. I knew also that the man who killed Rin is the one who gave that order. So, who is he?"

"Just relax, the answer is not far away. I will give you the name of the man who ordered the death of Rin. The only thing you have to do is to promise me that you will never reveal my name to anyone else."

"And why should I believe you?" I asked sarcastically.

"And why wouldn't you? We stand in the same position but in different locations... If I agree to your proposal and you keep your word, then you have nothing to fear. But if you betray me, you will feel guilt like you never felt before. If you betray me, my death will be your own guilt!"

"I see..." I made a small nod.

"With that out of the way, let me welcome you on the villains' side, Takahashi Shinji!" A diabolic smile was immediately printed on the man’s face.

As I realized that this was the real reason why he accepted to help me in the first place, a shiver ran down my spine.

He looked at me, waiting for my reaction silently for a few seconds.

"As for the name of the killer, that would be...