Chapter 18:

Death Over the City

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

“The Reaper?” Uncle furrowed his brow and turned to the sky.

Storm clouds were forming, a big funnel hung high over the center of the city.

“Yeah.” I nodded. “Me and Indena had to fight the Grim Reaper. Then a witch came and must have helped us temporarily defeat him.”

Thinking back on it, that was definitely Melpomene’s doing. I remembered hearing her voice. She saved us, then must have brought us back to the house. It made me think she wasn’t so bad of a person. But with the awful goal of wanting to kill Yamin, she was far from ultraistic.

“Yalda, you said that the reaper was defeated,” Yamin spoke.

“I thought so, but Melpomene said he wasn’t gone.”

“How did you defeat him before?” Uncle asked.

I explained to him that I used my mana cannon on the Reaper. He blew up, and we figured that was the end of it.

“You have access to the mana cannon?” He sounded bothered by that.

Thanks to the mana cannon, my body was working under 50% efficiency. I don't know if he could tell that though.

“Did any of your other combat protocols activate?” He asked me.

“Yes. The First Commandment protocol did.” My combat protocol was even worse. it was at 30% efficiency. All that damage would recover over time, but not until I got rest.

Yamin describe that moment my combat protocols activated with detail. It was like she saw a completely different person in me.

“Hmm…” he shook his head. “We knew this time would come eventually, and within your life time, Yalda. I just didn’t realize it would be so soon.”

“Misour Uncle, is Yalda truly an angel?” Marek asked.

He shook his head. “No. However, to all of you, she will be."

Uncle picked me up and let me sit on his shoulders.

“Young Mistress, we must find Indena quickly. Project your map in front of me.”

I did as he asked. Uncle took off running to find Indena. The others followed close behind.

“Where is this Reaper guy?” Yamin asked while we ran.

“He isn’t here yet. He’ll show up when you hear his sirens.”

Every second was filled with dreadful anxiety as we awaited those sirens to howl out. He was sure to show up at any given moment.

Uncle was sprinting at full speed across town. Anyone watching us must have thought we were nuts, but we had a mission.

Halfway to Indena, I saw some of the piles of snow sink and melt, turning into those pools of sludge. Nasty looking arms started to claw out of it.

“Oh God!” Yamin screamed as she clung to Marek. “They’re back! It’s happening all over again!”

She mentioned her town was under attack by demons, so she probably had an idea of what would happen.

“Keep running!” I shouted to them. “We can’t stop now!

If we didn’t get to Indena quickly, she’d be in trouble from the demons. We couldn’t lose her!

Yamin gathered up strength and continued moving, holding close to Marek. The two of them struggled to keep up, but everyone managed to have a steady pace.

We got into an area where two pools of sludge water had already formed, but a new abomination crawled from the blackened mess.

It was a collection of bones, vaguely coming together to form a human shape. Some bones looked human, some looked like animals. Little yucky tendons of meat clung them together enough to allow them to hobble around as a collection of death.

-WARNING! Threats sighted! IFF tags active-

-Bone Mass demons tagged; foe-

-Enemy count = (25)-

Uncle’s suit transformed into his combat armour, then his radiant blue stinger sword appeared in place of his hand. I held on tight as he slashed at the demons!

They had attrition on their side, but Uncle was strong and fast. He cut down those demons quickly, but it wasn’t killing them.

“Uncle!” I spawned a Stardust dagger in my hands, then handed it down to him. “Here!”

He used it to finish off each demon he’d cut down with his stinger sword. I watched the enemy count drop.

More spawned, and now those locust demons were here. They weren’t much more of a challenge to Uncle.

Once Uncle had cleared out this area of those demons, we kept moving.

“Oh! I forgot!” Yamin had an ah-ha moment. “Stardust is strong against them."

She spawned herself a club of Stardust, then Marek one too.

Holy cow. I figured she could use stardust, but she had some skill to boot!

Some demons showed up, but everyone attacked them with some form of stardust weaponry, turning them to dust. Yamin and Marek smacked them around like baseball bats, and Uncle stabbed them with his dagger. Uncle was the only one who looked like he knew what he was doing.

“Okay Yamin…” Yamin started talking to herself, “just remember softball practice!”

She struck a demon across the head!

I wanted to be more useful, but I couldn’t activate my combat mode right now.

As we were running down a road filled with cars, everything started to quake. Then it all went still, and a visible black fume came from the sewer drains and manholes.

The fume was purposefully floating toward people, many who were unaware of what was going on. The gas filled their noses, and their skin turned pale.

“Uncle, we have to save them!”

I leapt off his back and materialized my wings.

“Yalda, no!” He stopped and went to grab at me, but I used my wings to smack him back.

“Don’t worry, I’ll save them!”

I started to fan my wings, so fast that all the fumes were getting pushed back and away from the people. Some damage was already done, but with the wind blowing the miasma away, things weren't getting any worse.

Uncle was so impressed, he decided to go along with my ploy by waving around his own wings. “Yamin, cover up all the manholes and grates with stardust!” He ordered.

She quickly ran up and down the street, covering every hole to the sewer by growing stardust over them. The fumes could no longer escape, not here at least.

“Good work, both of you," he said to the two of us. "We must continue."

Now we were closing in on Indena’s location, but she started moving. We heard explosions not too far, so she was definitely fighting something.

When we got to the road she was on, she was fighting off the same demons we were. And she was using her flames to cause an updraft so that the fumes coming from the sewers would stay away.

People were behind her, she was defending them!

Once Uncle joined in the fight, the demons were defeated quickly. Yamin then went and sealed up the sewers.

“Indena, are you alright?” He asked.

“Hey, you finally showed up.” She brushed some hair out of her eyes. “Yeah, I’m fine.” She turned to me. “Oy, I thought you killed the Reaper? What’s all this about?”

“I don’t know. But we have to get all these people to safety.”

Yamin and Marek ran up to them, then announced something.

“Can you all see what’s going on?” Marek asked, and all the people started nodding.

“That means they're like us,” Yamin said.

According to Yamin and Marek’s experience, a lot of people couldn’t see these demons, or even that there was a change to the environment at all. That’s why so many people were just standing around in freezing darkness. They just couldn’t tell what was going on.

I hated that! People were being attacked by demons, and they couldn’t even do anything about it!

“We need to get these people somewhere safe.” Yamin announced with a shaky voice.

She turned around, looking up to the castle on the plateau. Then she took a look at the cathedral, which was also visible over some buildings.

“I think we should get people to the castle,” she said.

“Why the castle? What about the church, wouldn’t that be good?” Marek asked.

“I thought about it, but there’s one big problem. Remember what happened to the cathedral in our town?”

She explained that the cathedral in her town turned into some sort of demonic fortress. I would have liked to see that. Not because I thought it would be cool or something weird like that, but because I almost couldn’t believe it was possible.

“Look at that,” Indena grinned. “A church goer who doesn’t think a church is safe.”

Yamin gave her a very mean look. “It’s not like that. I just saw what happened before, and I can’t risk it happening again.”

“Clearly you are an observant one,” Uncle said. “This plan may be a good idea, seeing as the castle is built for defense. But how do you intend on getting all of them into the castle to begin with? There's still people out here who need help.”

“Hmm…” Yamin was stumped there. If they couldn’t see what was going on, it wouldn’t be easy to get them moving.

“I have an idea,” Marek said. “I’m not the most famous Royal Council member, but I have authority in this city. I can send out a PSA for people to head up there for safety. The Urnan guards can help me with this by giving me access to the security comms and escorting people.”

He said one of the standard excuses to evacuate a city was monster attacks. There were a few different levels to indicate severity. Attacks didn’t happen often, but we might just get attention if it came from him. It was all the more believable, since Esma was full of monsters.

Indena figured the church guys might intervene and tell us we can’t do that. As unlikely as her worry was, I had authority over the church, so I could tell them not to worry about it. But the inquisitors probably already had an idea what was going on. I hoped.

“While the people are evacuating, I’ll follow them to insure they arrive there safely.” Uncle said.

“I’ll help too, since I can use stardust.” Yamin nodded.

Indena let out a loud grown, then turned toward the church.

“Crap. I told people to head to the inquisitors like an idiot. The church’s full of people right now.”

Irony strikes again.

That meant someone was going to need to go and get them. At first Uncle said he’d do it, but he needed to watch over the big crowd of people that Marek was going to draw up.

“Me and the Shrimp can make our way to the church, you guys can head to the castle.”

“I’d rather not leave the Young Mistress on her own again.” Uncle said.

“You didn’t see what this kid's able to do." Indena said. "She’s incredible in a fight. With me, we’ll be fine.”

I wanted to tell them both that my combat systems were currently damaged, but doing that would mean that all those people in the church would possibly die to the Reaper. Uncle would never let me on my own if he thought I couldn't fight. I kept quiet and nodded along with Indena.

Uncle gave me permission to head off with Indena, and he and the others went off to warn and gather up as many people as possible to protect.

Just when we all split up, those sirens started blaring. The Reaper was here.


What we thought was already dark as night turned pitch black. Indena lit up her arm with flame, but it wasn’t enough to break the dark.

I engaged my night vision. That really helped me see in this dark. It had to have been made for times like this, no doubt. Too bad I didn't think about it before.

Then I lit up my hair, like when the demons came around the first time. We were met with a very dreadful sight of the city streets warping and looking like something out of a weird Halloween village.

The streets were bending and folding over themselves, fences were getting sharp spikes, buildings were looking like haunted houses. It really looked like I could walk up to a door and say “Trick or treat!” that’s how spooky it was.

“I hate how dark it gets when this demon crap goes on. Good thing your hair can glow in the dark.”

“Yeah. Do you see what’s happening to the city's infrastructure?”

She didn’t notice how bad things were looking until I pointed it out. Of course, she didn’t see nearly as much as I did, since her sight was very limited right now.

A screech came from the speaker on a lamppost. We heard a fuzzy, but familiar voice come out of it.

“Attention all subjects! This is Marek Le Verren of the Royal Council. There is currently a monster threat entering the city. All subjects are required to evacuate into the Urnan Castle and await further instruction.”

Marek went on to repeat his message a few more times. He must have gotten in touch with the local guards. Hopefully they can see the demon problem too.

There were some people wandering around that heard the message, but only about two of them actually reacted to it. The rest just turned their heads all around, trying to see if anything was wrong.

Those that clearly noticed were panicked at first, but after seeing everyone else return to normal, they didn’t seem to care.

“These idiots aren’t even going! There’s demons attacking, people!”

A few people just gave Indena some angry looks.

“What a jerk.” One person commented under their breath.

“Back-at-ya, crap stain.” Indena barked. She really needed to get that swearing in check. “Well, looks like they're screwed.”

That wasn’t necessarily the case, I had hope that someone would break this herd ignorance, but this bunch didn’t look too lucky.

Things started to brighten up a little bit, but that wasn’t a good thing. There was a light coming down on the city from the big funnel cloud above our heads.

A shadow came down from there and swooped over the people. Then I saw an ailment pop up next to their name tags. It looked like a skull with two crossbones behind it.

I scrambled through the HELP tab to figure out what it was…this was the plague affinity!

Their bodies started to seize up, then they collapsed to the ground. I attempted to cast Cure Curse, but my spell wasn’t powerful enough to prevent it from taking effect. Then I cast Lesser Heal, but that did nothing too!

“NO!” I screamed.

Their pulses were quickly fading. I did my best, but these people were…

“Yalda, they’re goners!” Indena pulled me up. “Let’s go.”

How come my power wasn’t enough!? What an oversight to give me all these spells and none of them could save these people!

Maybe I was defective? What sort of protector of humanity couldn’t even save these poor people!

I was crying over them, falling down and spreading out my arms to hug two strangers. At that moment it didn’t matter if I knew them or not, or if they were good or bad people. These were humans who’d just lost their lives without a chance of fighting back. No matter what happened from here on, they’d never have a chance to change their fate.

“You want more people to end up like them?” Indena asked. “Stop crying and get up! We have to stop this before it gets worse.”

“Shut up!” I shouted. “You’re always so mean! People are dead, and you’re just being a big jerk!”

She looked disgusted with me. Then she grabbed my ear and tugged me up.

“Yeah, I know I’m a jerk. But you know what? In a time like this, when the whole world may very well die, I need results. We’ll mourn for them later, let’s do our job now.”

Her implying that being a jerk gets results wasn’t comforting to me, but I knew Indena a little better than that. She did want to help everyone, and she wasn’t to blame here. Maybe this was how she dealt with stress, getting angry and putting it to the side.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “This just hurts me a lot.”

“You and me both. But at least we're not hurting like these poor guys.” She gestured to the people. “That means it’s our duty to do something about this. This isn’t play time. Were the last line of defense these people have, so let’s get to work!”

My heart was racing like it was fueled with adrenaline at her speech. What was I thinking, sitting here and crying now, while others found a terrible fate? I couldn’t let these sorrows get the best of me.

With a firm nod, we continued to head for the church. While we were running, some people, who clearly didn’t see what was going on, were walking down the street. The shadow of the Reaper came cruising over them, then they turned into a pile of dust and clothing.

Looks like this was the first test of my resolve.

I wanted to cry watching what happened, and a few tears seeped through my walled off emotions, but I pursued.

Despite those who were unaware, there were plenty of people who hadn’t gotten the message Marek sent out over the broadcast, but knew exactly how bad the situation was.

“Hey!” We called out to them.

My hair was like a beacon. The glow illuminated the area, giving them better sight.

The aware people stayed close to us. Thank goodness there were a few who we had a chance of saving.

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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