Chapter 21: A Storm is Brewing (The Chronicles of Time)
The lines of spiritual power Akira released slowly wrapped itself around the soul, providing it no loophole to escape. It squirmed with resistance as he entered it. Controlling his powers, he lowered his fingers slowly. More spiritual power poured out of him like tentacles, dragging the soul towards its former body. It struggled, but his powers that were absorbed into it slowly merged with the soul’s power and gained control over it.
Once a soul has parted with the body, its defenses are weak. It couldn’t blast powers like it once could when it had a solid host; in other words, it was incorporeal. Malevolent creatures like demons or evil would then seize that opportunity to devour it. Fresh souls that had just detached themselves were the most appetizing.
At that moment, black wisps of smoke emerged through the walls and cracks in the room.
“Damn it!” Yuu cursed as the wisps of smoke started to transform and take shape. “Soul-eaters–they just have to appear now!”
Sharp jagged teeth, long slimy purple tongues with dark black saliva dripping down, and a large eye planted in the middle of their tiny bodies, rolling around madly. It fit every characteristic that defined the appearance of a soul-eater—no mistake. They shrieked in joy at the sight of a rare soul. Long sharp claws popped out of their round, plump bodies and swung in the air. Sensing the presence of powerful souls gathered together, they were attracted to the feast. At the moment they saw Natsumi’s soul glowing brightly, they lunged forward.
Yuu conjured up balls of fire in his palms and shot at the demons furiously. Although they were low-leveled demons, they were stubborn and came in a large number. If you spotted even just one, there was bound to be a whole pack resting nearby. “Damn. Demons!”
Takuma-san groaned, swinging a tall sword with ease, cutting down the numbers by four to five at a time. “Why do they have to appear in such a cramped space?!”
“Hey!” Yuu shouted. His usual annoyed face returned and replaced the sullen one he had before. “Careful with the sword! This is my room!”
He tsked then sheathed his sword. The sword returned to its rightful place as a beautiful chain around his neck. Resorting to using his spiritual power, he could only blast the creatures away. No matter how many they slaughtered, more would come and take the dead’s place. It was truly exasperating. But using any higher-leveled attack spells might affect Natsumi’s body–especially her soul which was now weakened.
He landed a punch that was coated with his power, “Eat this!”
After blowing up a couple more, they soon realized that the demons were proliferating. Rapidly so! It was to the point that almost every inch of the room–beside the area that they stepped on–were teeming with soul-eaters! Yuu quickly casted a barrier, pushing the soul-eaters back. Their gnarly, exceedingly sharp nails, scraped against the barrier. As they were pushed back, furniture were toppled over; the room was just too small to fit them all. Some tumbled into the corridor and rolled off their balance like small balls being tossed about.
Their eyes spiraled around as they knocked into each other, growling, and cackling in an oddly high pitch like they were singing a chorus. An awfully screechy one.
No matter if you were a god or even the celestial emperor, these creatures would come charging like mad, knocking on your door to eat your soul the moment they sense a soul filled with power. Soul-eaters were born when vicious and greedy humans die and refuse to leave the world. They then, were transformed into these annoying weak demons who run amok, causing trouble to all that have great power, hoping to consume that power to become stronger. The more souls they eat, the more powerful they get, and have a higher chance of increasing their rank.
“We can’t fight them here!” Takuma-san finally said, raising his voice so it would drown out the frantic shrieks of the demons. “If Natsumi’s soul re-enters her body and she wakes up to this, she’ll just be torn apart!”
“‘We’?” Yuu raised an eyebrow, frowning.
“Does how I address us matter at this point?!” Takuma-san choked out exasperatedly. It was a serious predicament, otherwise he wouldn’t even have said such a thing! Partnering up with a magician who is stuck to his precious Natsumi? He wouldn’t even acknowledge him! But…his powers were worthy to be praised. Even against the onslaught of soul-eaters whose numbers were overwhelming, the magician was composed and deft with his spells. He leaped back to Akira who’s eyes were closed as his hands moved about, closing the distance between Natsumi’s soul and her body. “Alright, magician! Can you kill off the soul-eaters if I throw them out one by one?”
“What?” Yuu’s gaze swept across the tide of soul-eaters while aiming at them. “How about I throw them out and you destroy them instead?”
“Huh?!” Since when did it become a time to bargain about positions?! “Fine! Throw them out! I’ll kill them one by one on the roof!”
But would such a maneuver work depended on if Yuu had the power to do so. Tossing the soul-eaters “one by one” would be too exhausting and time-consuming. Yuu walked out of the barrier. The moment he took a single step outside offhandedly, all attention was on him.
“Are you a fool?!” He barely got the words out of his mouth when he saw the boy drowned in the sea of soul-eaters. Takuma-san’s jaw dropped.
“What are you doing, standing there like a fool?” He heard a sound of a snap and the group of soul-eaters thinned. “Get on the roof.”
So he didn't die! He would’ve continued to stand there in awe if it wasn’t for that mocking smirk laying on the boy’s lips. He was a god! A mountain god, how could he sit still when his dignity as a god was being challenged?! Without another word, he vanished, left to his own devices as to how to deal with the disgusting creatures.
Yuu could hear the shrill screams of agony from the soul-eaters on the roof and loud explosions. Then after the last batch of soul-eaters were sent up, the house fell silent.
The tiles of the roof were painted with dark black blood and drool. Disgusted, he stabbed his sword into one of the carcasses of the creature and dragged it around, drawing a circle from the blood that leaked out of it.
“There, that should keep other evil creatures away; a warning.” He clicked his tongue and flicked his pure-white sword now dyed with filth. Splatters of blood fell off its blade and formed the shape of an arc around him.
The corpses that were piled up high to the point where it could challenge a mountain, began to rot and break off into chunks as it crumbled into the air. Even if a demon’s remains were to disappear, its splattered blood would not.
He hopped off the roof to rejoin the others, releasing the barrier that he casted to prevent the dying screams of the soul-eaters and his blinding powers from leaking out. Attracting human attention was the last thing he wanted to do. It would not only cause problems for him, but also Natsumi. It’d be the worst ideal reunion for the two if neighbors came knocking on their door while they were busy being lovey-dovey. “Pup, are you almost done with the soul-combining ritual?”
“Al…most!” Akira grunted, a few drops of sweat were visible on his white face.
“Won’t you get in trouble with the Heavens if they found out that a god participated in “black magic”?” Yuu hugged his arm, leaning against the drawer. He had not a mote of dust on his outfit, completely clean of dirt even after that messy battle.
Takuma-san turned to him then replied curtly, “It’s not “black magic”. Besides, we’re just linking a soul back to its body. Natsumi-chan isn’t fully dead. We’re just saving her, not reviving her.”
For some reason, it sounded funny to Yuu. He laughed spitefully. “A god like you, saving a human? Laughable! I thought that all gods were cruel and emotionless. It just shows how much has changed from before.”
His brow twitched. “What’s that supposed to mean? Don’t forget, I hold seniority here. Dare to be arrogant and you’ll be blown into smithereens. Such blaspheme!”
Now that the soul-eaters were out of their way, they no longer had to work as a team. Nothing stopped them from hosting their own battle. Yuu let out a scoff and continued on with a disingenuous tone, “So what if you hold seniority? A battle would suffice to determine who’s more powerful between you and me. Age has no power.”
“You-! Wait…have I…met you before?” The more he looked closely at the boy the more he felt that he had seen him before. But where? He didn’t notice it before since he was occupied with the battle and the sudden events blowing up in his face. He stayed silent, racking through his dusty memories. Just how many years has he spent underneath his mountain in solitude cultivation? While he was talking to himself inside his head, Natsumi’s condition improved.
“Ah!” Akira exclaimed. His hands trembled and his heart rose, brimming with joy. “I-it’s working!”
Natsumi’s eyelids fluttered, and her fingers twitched. Slowly, her body was regaining its senses. Warmth gathered around her fingertips and her face gradually became flushed with the colors it had before. Soft breathing could be heard.
Yuu, seeing this, breathed a sigh of relief. However, his heart never stopped shaking. He could sense the shackles around his heart falling apart with ‘clinks!’ and ‘clanks!’. That unsettling feeling that overpowered him before melted away from being respited. But if this was just the second time…then next time it would be worse.
Weak blue eyes peeked through her eyelids and stared in their direction. Akira stopped pouring his powers into her and smiled widely. “Master! You’re awake!”
Natsumi could feel numbness throughout her body. She was paralyzed and could only do small movements like twitching her fingers or shifting her head slightly.
“You don’t have to worry, master! Everything’s alright now!”
“You’ve been asleep for almost two weeks now.” Yuu spoke up. He leaned over her so she could see him properly.
Surprisingly, for someone who had slept like the dead for about two weeks, her body was well nourished and she didn’t feel hungry or thirsty at all. But that just made her even more guilty. “Yuu…I’m sorry.”
He raised an eyebrow and crossed his arm. His long hair tickled her nose. “For?”
“For…pushing you out…I’m not sure how that happened.” She smiled weakly.
“Don’t apologize to him!” With a loud ‘bang!’ Yuu was almost thrown back again, but this time, he dodged the blow. Takuma-san stood in between the two with a glower on his face, his hands shaking with spiritual energy.
“Who…who are you?” Natsumi asked. Akira met her aids and helped her sit up. Her smile dropped. “Why did you attack Yuu?”
Uh-oh! This was not the reaction he had expected. All the dreams that he had of her smiling happily and calling him “grandfather!” and chasing after him, cracked away… No matter! Saving her from this devil was more important! He could just resolve it later with her!
“I’m your ancestor, a god!” He answered.
She gave him a disgusted look, not expecting to hear something so ridiculous the second she woke up. “Don’t think I’m a fool. A god? I’m not a child who could be swayed when someone tells them they’re the tooth fairy. I already met a magician and an Okami, I don’t need to meet a god.”
Mental damage +500! Damage taken +2,000!
‘T-that was a rejection, right?!’ Takuma-san almost slipped. He was late! He was beaten by that evil magician and that silly demon pup! If he just showed up earlier…then he would set the standard, not them!!
Natsumi didn’t just stop there. For someone who had just woken up, she sure had a lot of words to say. “If you’re a god, what are you doing here? I never heard of a god being my ancestor. Besides, aren’t gods supposed to be divine beings? They wouldn’t have so much free time to visit a humble abode of a mere mortal like me. And aren’t gods supposed to be good? They shouldn’t be attacking people randomly.”
He almost spat out blood from the attacks that his heart endured. Yuu snickered behind him while Akira hesitated to jump in and back him up. He had come all this way, used his powers to destroy an army(?) of soul-eaters to save her, but in the end the outcome was an ambush of words that was tantamount to a fatal heart attack! And here he had hoped that he would be welcomed and regarded as her savior but instead his image became a ‘fake god’?
He already suffered enough mental blows, okay?!
But his cute Natsumi rambled on. “You also look like a kid, about Akira’s size. How could you be a god?”
So now it was a height problem?! Takuma-san began to wish that his beloved Natsumi had just continued to play as sleeping beauty forever and that he, the prince, had never come.
“T-that’s not the issue here!” He stammered. “Natsumi, trust me, trust this ancestor! This magician who had stuck to your side is nothing but a deceitful ingrate!”
“I know that.” She said, not fazed at all. “Yuu’s an idiot everyday. But calling him an “ingrate” is a bit harsh.”
He was absolutely confounded. The magician truly had her wrapped around his finger! Brainwashed! Realizing that it was too late for her, he turned to Yuu. “You! I had a feeling that I know you from somewhere! But who would think that I would meet you in person!”
Yuu tilted his head.
“You murderer! Bloodthirsty demon!” He roared, unsheathing his sword.
“Wait!” She raised her hand and his sword was knocked out of his hand, clattering away. Natsumi looked down at her hands in bewilderment. “Whoa…”
Takuma-san turned to her shouting in outrage, “What are you doing?! Don’t you want to get revenge on this man who killed your parents?!”
A loud ‘thud!’ echoed throughout the room. The stone that was placed in Natsumi’s hands before, fell.
“...What are you talking about?”