Chapter 10:

Grim Reaper

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

Indena blasted the quickly piling snow away with a flamethrower attack. Her unapologetic approach let us flee with ease.

Since this darkness had advanced past the stages of complete blackout, my hair started to glow with stardust energy. That gave us plenty of ability to see a few meters out. I never figured glowing hair would come in handy, since I just used it to play in the dark when Uncle thought I was sleeping.

As we ran, we saw these odd dips in the snow, like it was a spot that had melted. A weird water sludge was pooling up in those spots, and those demon locusts were swimming out of them.

Indena sent out fire balls toward those demon spawners, and they'd start on fire. The demons would freak out and run back into the burning water.

We had to be about a kilometer away from the house now. We found one of those yucky pools of water in front of us, but it didn't look fully formed, so nothing was coming out of it yet.

We’d seen demons crawl out of those earlier, so I couldn't help but wonder what it was made of. I detected a lot of sulfur in it, but there was also some sort of sludge. I dipped my hand in and got a read on what it was made of.


Its composition was nearly identical to the portal that Janus had made during that battle last year. This was composed of occulat elements, the kinds that were apparently used to make this kind of demon stuff happen. The other stuff was sulfur and carbon.

“Hey…” Indena yanked out my hand. “Don’t touch that crap. We need to go.”

“No, it’s okay,” I said, using my stardust to disintegrate the dark water on my hand. “I think these pools are evil portals.”

She said that I was stating the obvious, since those demons were crawling out of them left and right. But her two cents were that these portals may have been connected to Heck.

“Why else would demons be coming out of the water?” She shrugged. “If only we could get rid of them.”

Stardust could destroy the water, so I wanted to test and see if I could get rid of the portals altogether.

I really didn't have any Stardust Points to spare, so I took the remnants of the crystal dagger and dipped it in.


Immediately the sludge made the same sound hot metal makes when you dip it in water. It was evaporating away.

Yes! It worked just like I’d hoped! However, I wouldn’t have enough stardust to take out every pool we came across.

“That stardust just keeps getting more handy by the minute.” She nodded.

"Yeah." I nodded back. I wish I hadn't used it up on the wolves a few days ago, because it sure would have been more helpful here. It's even worse that the sun hasn't been out.

The snow started to pick up. It was getting bad, and Indena was shivering.

"Are you doing okay?" I asked.

"No. I'm a wreck. This just doesn't bring back good memories."

I'm sure it didn't, especially since she almost froze to death by herself as a kid.

"I'm here this time, you won't be alone."

Her shivering slowed a little. What I told her clearly had some reaction, but she remained silent. I hoped that meant she felt a little better.

We continued forward, Indena kept blasting away piles of snow with her fire magic and giving us a path. My sensors were having trouble piercing through the wall of darkness perpetually a few meters away, so my map was foggy.

One thing was for sure, the map had a new icon pop up for demons. It looked like some kind of creepy five sided star with an angry face in the middle. There were lots of them around us, keeping up in the shadows as we moved.

They attacked only when they had an advantage, usually when we'd stumble under some rocky overhang or something. I tried my best to find areas like that on the map so we could avoid them, but with this demonic fog of war it was really hard.

Indena was getting frustrated at how often we'd get ambushed. She tried to blame it on me for not being able to spot things fast enough, but then I projected her the map I had to deal with.

We were sitting in the middle of a two meter long circle. Everything else was faded, bar the path we'd taken. On the edge of the circle was a wall of those demon icons surrounding us. We'd also stumbled into a new area, so my map didn't have any terrain data filled out.

"Look! See? How am I supposed to figure out where they'll be attacking?!"

"Bah…!" She angrily waved her hand through the map projection. "Fine. It's not your fault."

If only I knew how to upgrade anything, then this would be much easier. I know it was possible because the HELP tab said so.

I did a quick scan of my system for anything on how to upgrade abilities. A tab on my right hand toolbar appeared. Apparently, it unlocked when I started searching for it. The icon looked like an arrow going upwards.

If my video game knowledge had anything to say about this, that must have been an upgrade tab.

Bingo! When I opened it, only a few things were able to be upgraded. I had to level up more to unlock more stuff. That's typical for an RPG. The map was one of those things I could upgrade, luckily.

According to this, I gained skill points at every level, so I could use those in upgrading.

All I could really do was increase the sensor range by about a meter and a half. That pushed back some of the fog of war, but not much. I was locked out of upgrading it further until I leveled up some more.

That didn't really help much, did it? I didn't even mention it to Indena, since she probably would have just gotten more upset.

Oh wait, it didn't just give me a radius boost...I could get detailed information on anything visible on the map. monsters, animals, demons, even humans from the looks of it.

Before they all just were their respective avatars, but now I could focus on any of them and get more info. Such as what type of animal it was, or what kind of demon we were dealing with.

For instance, I focused on a demon and it gave me some info on it. I decided to name it "Locust Demon," since that seemed pretty fitting.

It also showed their weaknesses! Well, kinda.

It says demons were weak to stardust. Not very helpful since we already knew that one, but whatever. Future me was gonna be happy about that weakness indicator at some point, I'm sure. Not that I didn’t already have a monster compendium available in my HELP tab, but this would be a quicker way to get the info in a pinch.

A lightning bolt struck in front of us, it was one of the wolves. The little runt, by the looks of it. He looked all beat up, like he was in a bad scrap.

"Oy, dog's back."

He was limping toward me, and he let me pet him a little bit. It looked like those cuts on him were pretty bad, so I tried using healing magic.

"It's not healing him."

I was just wasting Incantation Points. Maybe healing magic didn't work on monsters?

"No, it won't work on this guy." Indena chimed in. "You have to heal monsters with their element."

Oh, so his elemental power healed him? So what was he...lightning?

I didn't have lightning magic, but I did have electrical energy in my body. I can share a few gigawatts with him. My heart produced a lot of electricity, so this wasn't even a blip on my radar.

I transferred electricity into my right arm crystal and let it flow into the runt by pressing the crystal up against his body. His wounds started to heal instantly, and he even looked a tiny bit bigger too.

Maybe that's why he liked me, because I had so much energy in me that helped him grow.

He instantly perked up, then started running off in a random direction. He stopped, then turned back to us, like he wanted us to follow him.

The runt took us down a path that kept us from being ambushed so easy. Those demons didn't have the same fight in them after that.

It looked like he was talking us to an open field of ice, just before the glacier. We were on the edge of the crazy dark valley snow storm. The pack of lightning wolves were waiting for us out there, and we were heading their way.

"Remember when I said I hate dogs? Yeah, I love dogs now."

I was coming around to that too. It seemed like the wolves were definitely trustworthy.



All the wolves started barking at the sky. The runt looked up where they were facing, then he stopped in his tracks trying not to slide across the ice.


That siren started to sound again, but it was much louder and heading this way.

"What the…?" Indena blurted out.

The runt started viciously barking at us. He ran up to me and locked his jaw on my arm, tugging me to keep moving. It was like he was telling us to keep running.

Suddenly, the snow storm picked up again, causing the forest edge and the glacier to disappear from sight. We were right smack dab in the middle of something bad…

The runt zapped forward like a lightning bolt and headbutt me. I fell down and slid across the ice back toward part of the forest edge. He did the same with Indena.


Sliding across the ice, I felt a deeply disturbing presence above, followed by a shadow grazing the ice like a bird of prey.

The runt was gone when I looked back, I didn't see him anymore.

Indena recovered quickly, then helped me stand back up.

"Did you see that?" I asked.

"I don't know what the hell that was, but let's get going!"

We started running the way the runt pushed us, and we ended up back in the forest. Some of the wolves were there, and they were battling off the locust demons.

Strobes of lightning struck everywhere, hitting just about anything but us. The whole area was on fire.

"Now we're talking!" Indena stretched out her arm, using her magic to make the fire spiral and burn each of the demons.

Suddenly, the siren started back up.

That shadow was back, swooping across the ground. Anything in its path wilted and died. Trees, grass, monsters and demons.

Indena pulled me to the side, keeping both of us out of its way.

My sensors weren't even picking up on it, I had no idea either.

Before we had a chance to keep going, we noticed that all the monster wolves were gone. It wasn't just them though, the demons were gone too. That thing must have killed them both.

Oh no…this couldn’t have been what the book was talking about, could it?

“Indena, is this the…”

“Yeah, it has to be.” She had an angry look, cold beads of sweat dripping down her forehead.

Things became deathly silent, like the sounds of reality had been switched off. I didn’t need sensors to tell me something evil was near.

It got hard to breathe, even though the air quality was fine. Things were so stale and stiff, frozen in time.

I hid behind Indena, and we both scanned around to see what was causing this…a shadow finally revealed itself, descending from high above. It vaguely looked like a person in a cloak.

It felt like a black hole constantly devouring life without regard for friend or foe. It's physical form was warped behind rippling clouds of mana energy. Under all that were bones, wrapped in a shroud of pure black. Truly the look of the Grim Reaper himself.

The red eyes sunken deep into its skull had a soft glow. As his head bobbed back and forth, the red glow left an after image trailing in the air. 

The presence the Reaper cast was overwhelming, full of darkness that I could describe as sickening. I wanted to throw up, but I held myself together. Indena couldn’t keep the same composure. She was leaning over, holding her stomach in pain. Her eyes were closed tightly, and she was tearing up with fright.

Without stardust, resisting this fearful presence must have been very hard.

Indena started to speak in a shaky voice. “Yaa…Yalda…Sorry…we’re gonna’ die…”


The Reaper made that siren start up again!

A gross looking fog fell down from the shroud of the Reaper. It spread quickly through the air, dissolving all of the plants around it.

The fog was reaching for us, getting closer by the second. If we didn’t move, it was going to touch us!

I tried to grab Indena’s arm, but she was just dead weight. Her legs weren’t even moving, just dragging along. She was too heavy for me to carry!

“Indena, you need to move!”

She just wouldn’t budge!

Not a peep came out of her mouth, but she was shivering like a leaf, she just wasn’t getting a hold of herself.

There was a weird little icon next to the nametag above her head, it looked like the scared face of a stick figure. If my video game knowledge had anything to say about it, this must have been some kind of ailment she was suffering from, probably fear.

Darn it! This was really bad! I didn’t have anything to get rid of her fear.

The Fog was mere meters from touching her, closing the distance fast. No way she was going to get out of the way in time.

I had to do something quick. But how was I supposed to stop this fog?

Wait, I remembered just a few days ago, Uncle and I were practicing using our wings to make gusts of wind! Maybe I could fan away the fog with my wings.

I summoned my wings, sparkling dust puffed out of them as I stretched them out. Once they were deployed, I made a waving motion to fan away the death fog.

No good. There was some reaction, but not enough.

These wings of mine had to flap faster. I put some real effort into getting them going.

Still not enough! The fog was creeping closer, now about fifty centimeters away! COME ON YALDA, GIVE IT YOUR ALL!


I gave one powerful gust of wind! Suddenly the fog started to get forced back! YES!

But the nasty Reaper wasn’t done yet, he upped his ante too by raising his arms and forcing the fog to spread faster.

Not on my watch!

Calling upon muscles I didn’t even know I had, I fanned my wings even faster.

“I’m gonna huff, and puff, and blow away your stupid gas!” I almost said a bad word…

After realizing I wasn’t going to give in, the Reaper’s siren stopped, then he lifted off into the air with an oddly grateful motion.

The moment he left, that fear icon also vanished from Indena’s name tag. She must have been free from that ailment. I’d need to figure out what other ailments people could go through, and a way to help them whenever they come up.

“Ahg…” She covered her mouth and hunched over. Then she threw up all over the ground. “Damn, what the…I’ve never…ahg…”

“Take it easy.” I helped her lean against a rock. “The Reaper put a fear spell on you or something.”

“God, my stomach hurts.” She slammed her fist against her stomach, like she was attacking herself. “Get it together!” She pepped herself up. “Oy, Shrimp. Thanks. I don’t know what you did, but I owe you two now.”

She didn’t need to thank me. If anything, I was glad to have been helping a human for once. Fulfilling my primary directive was more than satisfying.

“Come on, Shrimp, we need to get out of here.”

I was doing a scan of the area, and it looked like my map was saying that we were closed off inside of some kind of big dome. From the looks of it, that doom was made of pure darkness.

We both ran all the way to the edge, where the dome was supposed to be, and it looked even worse than we thought. That yucky water was what made the walls of this dome, and all kinds of creepy crawlies were swimming around inside it.

“I’m not swimming through this.” Indena kept her distance.

“Neither am I.”

If I had more Stardust, we’d probably be able to get through, but I’d used up a lot already. I was tapped out.

When we turned around, we saw the Reaper was back, just hovering there. He was watching us.

I once more hid behind Indena.

“What do you want from us?” Indena asked.

It didn’t say a word. Those menacing red eyes just kept on staring, perhaps waiting for a chance to swoop forward and end our lives.

A weapon spawned in his clutches, it had a sharp curved blade at the very end of it. It was a scythe, just what I'd expect from a grim reaper…

“Crap.” Indena stood as steady as she could, ready for anything.

The Reaper flew in for a swipe of his scythe!


Indena jumped, tugging both of us out of the way just in time!

“Keep your head down!”

The Reapers swings were so wide sweeping, it would have gotten both of us if Indena hadn’t been so quick on the draw.

Indena retaliated by sending out a fire ball at the Reaper.


That explosion was big!

As the smoke and flame cleared, the Reaper was still there, wielding his scythe. Bits of flame caught onto his cloak, bathing him in a hellish orange heat.

He wasn’t detoured in the slightest. He came rushing in with another swipe. I kept low to the ground this time, so I was safe, but Indena had to dodge. She just barely made it out of the way in time, but the swipe nicked her right jacket sleeve.

Where it cut, I saw threads of cloth begin to glow bright blue then fade away into black dust. The dust rained down to the ground like sludge.

The tare started to burn a bright blue as well, and it grew all the way up her jacket sleeve.

“Oh god.” Indena breathed out as she tore the sleeve from her jacket.

I’d hate to find out what that thing would do to anyone it touched. That scythe was super deadly.

Like he’d gained inspiration watching the bits of jacket melt to sludge, the Reaper struck the ground with his scythe several times. More pools of sludge water appeared, and dozens of demon locusts came crawling out. These ones took to the sky though, and started flying at the two of us.

“More of these freaks!?” She gripped her fist tightly and powered up her flame aura. “Yalda!”

Most of the demon locusts were coming for me. I was completely defenseless against them! Indena tried to strike them with fire, but her attacks weren’t doing any good against the demons.

“Oh no!”

One was just about to bite into me, but then…



A blur of blue swiped across the locusts just before it hit me, then the demon bugs fell to the ground.

Did something just kill that demon? The locust looked wounded, unable to fight, but not dead. What just happened?

I saw that blue bird from before land on a tree branch next to me. More came to his side, then a whole flock of them dropped down from the sky.

“Birdy!” I smiled. “You came to help us!”

“I hate birds.” Indena growled. “Don’t trust them!”

-Spirit Blue tagged; Friendly-

We didn’t have much of a choice but to trust them. This flock of Spirit Blues was our backup. By the way, I decided to name them Spirit Blues because that sounded cool and they were made of mana.

But how was a mana based bird damaging a demon like this? I thought only Stardust was able to do that. Come to think of it, they weren’t actually killing it, just hurting it really badly.

The birds flew down and started attacking the locusts. Though the demons were much bigger, the birds really put up a fight against them!

Some of the spirit blues were hazing up in mid air, then they'd turn into a concentrated form of mana and zip into the locusts! It was like watching blaster bolts fire off in the sky, like in sci-fi movies.

With the clash of those mythical beings all over, the whole battle field lit up with craziness! Luckily, Indena and I reconvened with each other and focused on how we’d stop the Reaper.

“Any ideas?” I asked.

Indena shook her head. “I’ll just keep hitting it with fire.”

“That wasn’t working before. We need to find some other way of stopping it!”

She gave me a nasty scowl, then grunted like she was shrugging me off.

“What else am I supposed to do?!” Indena growled out. “I gotta’ try something here!”

There had to be something I could do to make her attacks mean more. I looked through my support skill list, which wasn’t much to speak of right now, but there was something interesting that might be helpful.

When I last leveled up, I gained this power that used both Stardust Points and Incantation Points called Stardust Aura.

Straight from the HELP tab, this power would form an aura of Stardust around the target to protect them from attacks using darkness. Stardust Aura also gave the Light affinity to any attacks, which I assumed will be helpful here.

I could sense a lot of dark powers coming off of the Reaper. Indena definitely wasn’t going to be able to get close if she couldn't protect against that. So this power was our only hope.

There was just enough Stardust in reserve to use the spell.

“Stardust Aura!” I announced the incantation, and sparkling particles started to glow around her.

I saw a little star icon appear on her nametag. That must have shown she had the light affinity.

“What is this?” She asked. “Is this supposed to help me fight that thing?”

“Yeah. It should protect against his darkness attacks and allow you to hit him.”

We still didn’t know all the Reaper could do yet. We knew he could use some sort of pestilence fog that killed things on contact. We also knew he had a scythe and could spawn locusts.

Indena’s fire aura helped protect her a little, but now with the Stardust Aura, she’d have even more layers to keep her safe. I had to assume that that pestilence fog would also be covered under ‘attacks using darkness.’ Something about the dreadfulness of it all made me think so.

Indena lept into action and tried to attack the Reaper by whipping her fire all around.

The fire was mixing with the Stardust aura, and her attacks were actually doing damage now. That was amazing! Bits of the Reapers cloak were getting burned away.

He went in for a slash, hitting her directly. Some blood spirit from her arm, but it was evaporating away.

"Gah!!" She shouted in pain. "That hurts like a sonuvabitch!"

She was taking heavy damage from the Reaper because she couldn't have both the Stardust Aura and her fire aura up at the same time. At least the darkness wasn't doing anything to her.

To make matters worse, the protection my spell gave was slowly dwindling away. So we had to finish this now.

She was keeping a good distance from the Reaper now, afraid to jump in without caution. They were both locked in a serious stare down until the Reaper swung in with his scythe.

Indena dodged his attacks well, even landing a few good strikes on him. But it wasn't enough, her light affinity was about to end.

My sensors started picking up weak seismic activity.

Not that the ground shaking was anything too wild, but I tried to focus on that. My sensors were telling me that something was coming out of the ground near where Indena was standing.

“Indena! Watch the ground!”

“Huh?! Woah!”

Mounds of earth lifted up and bone arms reached for Indena! They grabbed her leg and held her in place.

She avoided getting one of her legs caught, but the other was stuck in the clutches of the dead.

Those didn’t look like human bones. They must have been animal bones strung together to make something that looked like human bones. Creepy!

She blasted the bones with fire, causing them to explode. The Reaper took advantage of her vulnerability and grabbed her by the neck. He lifted her high up. The dilapidated flesh that clung to his hand bones burned off the last of the Stardust Aura around her.

“Oh no!” I shouted, knowing she wouldn’t last long exposed like that.

Indena struggled to try and escape, but she couldn’t. Her body wasn’t withering away yet.

The Reaper lifted up the hand that wasn’t holding Indena and reached into her chest. It phased through her body, like it wasn’t real. When his hand came back out, it was pulling out some sort of glowing blue string.

That string was mana. He took hold of the mana string and another hand came out from under his cloak. It was holding a spindle that it let hover above its third palm. Then he started to wrap the mana string around the spindle.

He must have been stealing away her spirit! But why? What was he going to do with it?

Indena fainted from the process. She wasn’t struggling anymore to stop him. I had to do something. But what?

Wait, I did have the mana cannon. That was about the only offense I had at this point. I wasn’t sure if it would affect the Reaper, but it was our only hope.

I initiated the firing sequence, but then a dialogue box popped up.

-Warning! At current level, system shut down will occur to protect the body from sustaining long term damage from cannon usage. Please insure any threats in the vicinity will be neutralized before using cannon-

So, I only got one shot. Actually, I was only using a fraction of a percent of the actual beam, so who knows what this would do at a fraction of power, let alone at full strength?

I chose to go ahead and begin charging the cannon. My crystal heart lit up bright. Energy radiated out of it in waves and big targeting reticles were summoned in front of me. The halos were spiraling and gave me sight lines.

Mana was taken from my crystal heart in large quantities, and it pooled up just above the surface. This was incredible!

The Reaper looked over at me, then dropped Indena to the ground, severing her spirit from his spindle. His arm reached out to me, as if he saw a prize he wanted to grasp.

The closer he came, the closer I got to firing my cannon. I had to pray this would be enough to kill him in one shot, otherwise we were in deep trouble.

Words automatically left my mouth. “Mana cannon firing in…!”




“Firing cannon!”



A brilliant burst of mana fired out of my heart! It shot at the Reaper and exploded like a big bomb!

I was blasted back from the incredible force. I used my wings to catch myself from tumbling around, and I took cover behind a rock.

Sleepiness hit my eyes hard, and I started to feel really awful. With what strength I had left in me, I looked to see what became of the Reaper.

The blue mana cloud from the explosion rose like a mushroom cloud. Within seconds it stretched so thin that the blast site was visible.

He was gone. Not a trace of him left. Just a big empty crater. I checked the map just to be sure. I couldn’t find him anywhere. I think that was it, he must have been dead.

But, why…still feel so awful? This…was…

“That was very impressive, Little One of Hyam. But you’ve hardly slain death.”


-Hibernation mode activating. All cognitive functions temporarily shutting down-

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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