Chapter 9:

The First Plague

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

The next morning was even darker than the last one. Thunder clouds were rolling over the sky and snow started to fall down. I didn’t even know lightning could strike when it was snowing.




The thunder was getting louder and louder. Snow was piling up quickly. I looked out the window and saw lightning strike off in the distance. It looked almost as if the bolts of electricity were moving in a pattern, or following some path.

Did this have to do with the lightning wolves? Maybe this was how they hunted.

You know something? That actually might have made sense. But why didn’t they use these powers to attack us? Unless the whole point wasn’t to actually hunt us, but something else…

“Hey, Indena?” I waved her over to the window.

I almost didn’t notice, but she was shivering, ever so slightly. She couldn’t get cold due to her fire magic, so something else was up with her.

“What?” She boorishly replied.

“I think the wolves are hunting.” I pointed to the lightning strikes.

She let out a light groan, then came over to the window to look, merrily shrugging her shoulders.

She quickly moved back to the chair near the fireplace. There was a hustle in her walk, like she was trying to escape an awkward situation with poise.

“Is something the matter?” I asked.

“What, how can you tell?” She gave me a mean look. “Nothing's wrong. I’m fine.”

Her arms folded and she scooted back into her chair toward the fireplace. I heard her take a deep breath and pull her hair over her chest.

“Doesn’t seem like it. You were shaking, and you're acting defensive.”

“Wow, look at you. Five years old and already a psychiatrist.”

“I’m seven.” If she was going to make fun of me, she could at least get my age right. This was the second time too.

Her foot kicked around the burning wooden logs in the fireplace. A few embers sparked up, but she used her magic to redirect them back into the fire.

Her head tilted toward me, her eyes were covered up by her hair. A light orange glow from her irises peeked through the silky black strands.

“When I was little, I got stuck in a blizzard and almost died,” She said. “Cold and snow ain’t my thing.”

That’s horrible. If I’d known, I would have been careful to bring up the outside.

“Look, I’m not a pansy or anything. So don’t walk on eggshells because I’m scared of snow. It’s my problem, not yours.”

“But, you're scared of it. It’d be mean if I talked about it in front of you.”

Her body twisted toward me and she gave me the most nasty scowl yet.

“Oh shut up! Not all of us wanna’ sit here and live with fear our whole lives. I gotta’ beat this, so just treat me like normal, damn it!”

I don’t think that her brute force approach was going to help here. She was sad, and scared. Those were things that always made a person pretty upset with life as a whole.

When we're upset, we need to be cheered up. That way, we can be happy and get over what was making us upset. Simple logic, really.

To be honest though, I’m not really good at cheering people up. The most I have under my belt was getting an AI to stop wanting to kill me. (Maybe that's more experience than I'd like to admit.)

But I know when I want to cheer up, I play games to feel better. Usually video games, or something. We didn’t have those around here though.

Another thing that helped me was petting Samael. His leathery scales were actually pretty good at making you forget your worries.

I pulled Samael carefully from my hair. He struggled a little at first, but allowed me to take him down.

“Don’t worry…” I whispered to him. “I’ll just let her pet you for a little while.”

“Ss…” He hissed.

As I approached Indena, I held Samael out for her to pet as a temporary service snake.

“You want me to pet the snake?” She raised a brow.

“Yeah. It always cheers me up.”

She rolled her eyes and took Samael in hand.

A lot of people wouldn't probably hold a snake like that. She might have been afraid of snow, but she was braver than most.

“Hello, stupid snake.” She poked his head.

“Sss…” He sounded aggravated.

“He doesn’t like being called stupid,” I told her.

“That’s right, you apparently speak snake.” She grunted. “Why do you even have this thing in your hair? What's a little girl doing playing with a snake?”

She’s one to talk…

“What’s a big girl doing acting all mean and cursing at a snake?”

Yeah, that got her!

She was taken aback by my remark. A smirk dawned her lips.

“You know, snakes and women don’t go well together. These guys caused us a lot of trouble a long time ago…you think you can accept that?”

Trouble? Women…snakes? I didn’t understand.

“Well, a lot of people are scared of snakes…but Samael is nice. So if every other snake is scary or evil, at least I know he isn’t.”

“HA!” She let out a loud laugh. “You’re alright, Shrimp.”

Now she was really petting Samael. She didn’t lose the ‘stupid snake’ part, but she looked like she was having fun playing around with him for a little. He did this funny thing where he wrapped himself around her fingers.

"Hey, how long are we going to stay here in this house?" I asked.

"Well, to be honest, my wounds still need some time to heal. Plus, your dad told me to wait for someone to show up if anything went wrong."

Practically speaking, it seemed like waiting here was the best option in that case. We probably needed to keep off the radar, so staying in an abandoned house for the time being had its benefits.

Uncle was definitely on his way, and when he got here, we'd be in good hands.

If that wasn't enough to convince me, all the snow was another reason to stay put. For the time being, it looked like we were getting comfortable here. But I couldn't shake the feeling that something weird was going on outside.


Things only got darker outside by the hour. And much colder, too.

The lightning became more violent. That pattern it once had was gone. Eventually it just stopped all together.

That freaked me out a little bit. Why did it suddenly stop? Were the wolves done hunting?


What the heck was that? It sounded like a siren.


It just kept going. It got really loud at moments, but had a weirdly inconsistent doppler effect to it.

“What the hell…?” Indena stood from her seat. Samael had long left her hands, so he was back in my hair. “You hear that noise?”

It was really spooky. Just this constant droning on of some kind of ethereal horn playing off in the horizon.

We both went to the window, then looked outside. The window was frozen over though, and it was really dark out too.

After that, we creaked open the front door. The siren sound was even louder now. The sky had turned a dark green, almost completely black.

The snow hadn’t stopped. It was high enough that neither of us would be able to run through it.

“Stay close.” Indena pulled me near. I clung tightly to her leg.

“What do we do?”

“Definitely not go outside…let's stay in here where it's safe.”


It sounded like a window just broke in the kitchen.

"Safety ages like milk…" I whimpered out, hugging her leg.

We both made our way toward the kitchen. I got an unnaturally bad feeling in my bones…

The kitchen was dark. Way darker than it should have been. Indena lit a fire up in her hand, but the light from that didn’t brighten up the darkness.

We had one other option…stardust.

I let some crystal grow over my right hand, and stretched it out into the pitch black kitchen.

The dark haze became transparent, and something that looked like a cross between a locust and a person was crawling around. Its bug-like legs looked a lot like warped out arms, and its hands had these bug-like appendages for fingers. Its head was like if you took a person's head and made it look like a bug.


-IFF tags activated-

-Unknown demonic hostile tagged; Foe-

“Oh no…” my eyes sank into my head, “it’s a…!”

The demon screeched loudly, accompanying its horrible voice with the siren outside.

It raced at us quick!

Indena tugged me out of the way!

The demon slammed right into the wall, causing a dent in the wood. That could have been me if she hadn't thought fast!

Indena sent out a fire ball at the demon that exploded on contact! The demon wasn’t phased by it.

The demon swiped at us. Indena pushed me to the other end of the room to keep me from getting hit.

“Shrimp! Stay the hell away from this thing! Let me handle it.”

She didn’t know that stardust was the only way to stop a demon.

“You need stardust!”

“Huh?!” She kept having to dodge the leaping attacks of the demon.

More of those things crawled in through the broken window. One of them had something in its mouth, it looked like a dead animal, but I couldn’t tell what it was.

The reinforcements saw Indena as the main threat, but a few made their way to me. It was looking like getting away from them wouldn't be possible, so I had to fight.

The first time I ever saw a demon last year, I made a stardust weapon to deal with him. It looked like a small, misshapen spear, or a long knife, since I didn't know how to control this power very well.

That was a year ago. I was a little better at controlling it now, but I only had enough Stardust Points to make something as small as a dagger at the moment. Our lives depended on any sort of weapon, so I put my imagination to the test.

Hazy white energy formed at the center of my palm, then lifted into the air and shaped into a stick-like shape. Within seconds it smoothed out into a dagger, and then hardened into crystal.

I gripped the crystal dagger, all the demons shivered and froze at its white glow.

"Eat this, bad guys!"

I swung the dagger around, haphazardly cutting at the demons. The moment it made contact with one, it’d screech and leap back outside through the window.

Indena saw what happened, then ordered me to hand over the weapon. I did so.

The tables turned now! Indena swung the dagger around, slashing across one of the demons, cutting a huge chunk of its face off!

It fell to the ground and started to sizzle up and turn to mush.

“Who else wants some?!” She announced and lit herself on fire.

The demons prowled around her, looking as if they were spooked. But they quickly grew the backbone to leap at her once more.

She kept slashing at them. Over and over she struck, killing the dark bugs. She even got the one that looked like it’d snatched up an animal.

But there was something bad I was seeing with the stardust dagger…each time she’d use it, the thing would get smaller. She either needed to replace it, or have me grow more crystal over it. But I really didn’t have much Stardust Points left in me.

My body naturally made a little stardust without sunlight, but I wasn’t sure if it would be able to replenish fast enough to repair the dagger.

“Indena!” I shouted. “Throw that back to me for a second!”

“What?!” She freaked out. “Hell no!”

“You don’t understand! It’s gonna’ break!”

Because I told her that, she noticed that it was getting smaller now. She must have figured there weren’t any other options, so she tossed the dagger back.

She wasn’t aiming for me directly, but I calculated the daggers trajectory and I moved in just the right spot to catch it at the hilt.

“Christ…good catch, Shrimp.”

I didn’t have time to pat myself on the back. I regrew crystal over the dagger. It didn’t look like the last stardust I made, it looked a bit more translucent and less bright. A bit red too. Still, this would probably work fine for now.

I couldn’t throw for the life of me, and I couldn’t trust myself to throw it in a way that she’d catch it like I did. So I slid the dagger back to her position and she snatched it up off the ground, immediately meeting the blade with one of the demons' faces.

The demon fell to the ground, stunned, and nearly defeated, but not dead. I think the potency of my internal stardust generation wasn’t strong enough to kill it!

“Not good…”

The human locust leapt back up, then raced at her for an attack.

She struck it with the dagger, cutting away part of its face, but it still went full force against her.

She dodged its bite attack, then took advantage of a vulnerable spot on what could be considered its nape. The dagger thrust down and stabbed right into its neck!

The demon screeched in pain, then dropped like a rock. It wasn’t dead, so Indena took the dagger and jammed it into its torso, hitting its heart.

Haze of pure black flooded out of its wound, then the demon turned to ash and charred the kitchen floor like the rest.

Meanwhile, others came at her even more ferociously. She had to evade nearly five strikes a second! That sorta’ speed was inhuman!


“Damn it!” One clawed at her left hand, tearing part of her glove. The shock forced her to trip over a chair.

Then another bit at her leg and tried to tear it off!

Another started biting at her foot! Her fire aura was just barely keeping her protected, but I had to help or she’d be done for!

I grew some crystal over my hands, enough to make my attacks mean something against demons. With all my knowledge of karate, I lept in with punches and chops against each of the locusts!

All I managed to do was stun them, but that was enough time for Indena to scramble away.

“We need to go!” She stood to her feet and snatched me by the hand. Then we left as fast as we could out the front door.

“Where are we going?!”

There weren’t many safe places with all the demons around, so what was her plan?

“Don’t know, but we’re not staying here!”

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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