Chapter 3 Temporary Peace
It was a calm day with little wind and no rain. Faded white clouds could be seen in the distance. Birds chirped happily in their cosy nests as Garacius and Jeremy walked slowly forward.
"These people are very welcoming. Don't worry about asking for anything... They jump at the chance to provide excellent hospitality." Garacius stated looking at the surrounding green fields.
"Right, so you're coming back in a few days?" Jeremy asked also looking at the surroundings.
"Yes." Garacius replied.
A small modestly sized cottage lay atop an equally modestly sized hill. Small grass pastures surrounded it while only one large tree stood several metres from the house. Jeremy looked at it in a discontented way. He never liked farms... They were too stereotypically calm. There were two dogs chasing each other in the distance past the peaceful cottage. Garacius smiled as if reminiscing his ancient past. A young girl with pigtails skipped merrily to the house to tell of impeding guests.
"Alright Jeremy. Go to the front door and introduce yourself. I must return to Indonesia. Remember what I have asked of you." Garacius said calmly.
"What? Wait. Do they even know I'm coming?" Jeremy queried quickly.
"Yes... Farewell." Garacius finalised.
A bright blue light flashed out before leaving Jeremy alone and uncertain. Unsteadily he marched up a well placed path to the front door. He paused for several seconds before knocking. What was he going to say? Hi I'm a half-demon coming to train to be a Buddhist? The idea seemed absurd but Garacius despite his size seemed to be a trust-worthy person. Somewhere within the house Jeremy could make out footsteps. Slowly they got louder. Finally the door opened. But to Jeremy's surprise and annoyance no one was behind it.
"Oi. Anyone here?" Jeremy bellowed disturbing the peace.
Suddenly a small playful hand touched his left arm. Quickly he turned his head to see the same young girl smiling up at him.
"Ah... Hello." Jeremy unsteadily greeted. He was never very good with kids. They annoyed him too much. "Your parents home?" He asked, stiffly lowering his posture.
"Welcome American. Garacius has told us of your coming." A middle aged woman said suddenly to his right. These people seemed to just appear out of no where.
"Thanks... And I'm not American, if I have to be related to a country, it'd be New Zealand." Jeremy corrected abruptly.
She bowed politely before gesturing to come inside. From where Jeremy was, the place looked like a typical country house. It was wooden with various decorations. Coloured plates and pot plants and the like.
"Cheers. So has Garacius told you why I'm here?" Jeremy questioned walking further in with the small girl behind. Now a middle aged man of Asian descent appeared.
"Yes and no..." He started. "You are apparently a half-demon. We will explain what that means and how it ties to our religion. Then you are to choose your course in life. That will be for you to discover. Do not worry if you do not understand. Things will become clear in time." The relaxed man said. Jeremy just looked blank.
"Right. Whatever." He rudely responded before walking into the dining area.
Things were surprising Rhilian even further. His so called monastery with the large M turned out to be some kind of in door food area. He had never experienced a place like it in his time. The beautiful young girl who had whisked him off was standing in a small cue to buy some food. He tried to act casual despite the fact that everyone in the fast-food restaurant was looking at him in his old cloths, rugged chainmail and most distinctively the three glowing swords sheathed on his back. A business man in an expensive suit walked past him holding a tray with various foods and drinks.
"Hi..." Rhilian greeted in a friendly tone as the man past him.
"Bug off!" The man promptly replied before taking a seat in the corner.
Rhilian blinked and brought his head back in surprise. Had people become so corrupted by the meteor shower all those years ago? He saw no other reason for why they were so rude. So far the only person who was acting friendly... perhaps too friendly was the young girl who had saved him from the police officer.
"What you want my sword-wielding giant." The Lorn-skinned girl asked looking back at him. Rhilian raised his head, realising she was referring to him.
"Um..." He paused to look at the large display pictures. The person who had painted them was an exceptional artist. They almost looked real.
Nothing on the boards looked normal to him. What the hell was a cheese burger? Obvious a decision like this shouldn't be taken lightly. Rhilian looked back and forth between the girl and the coloured boards.
"Ah... you better decide." Rhilian said finally. The girl gave a cheerful chuckle before telling a uniformed man something. This was incredibly embarrassing. He just decided instead of standing up in the middle of the food shop, he'd take a seat next to a polished table. This place was obviously very fancy.
Several seconds past before the cheerful girl came holding a large platter with food atop. Carefully she placed it on the table before taking a seat opposite Rhilian.
"So stranger... what's your name." She asked with a tilted head.
"Rhilian... Cullin." He replied trying to smile.
"Rhilian aye... that's unique. I'm Sabrina Culler." She said opening a wrapped burger. Rhilian smiled and did the same. Except instead of unfolding it, he just ripped it open. Suddenly something caught his eye. It was amazing! It must have been magical. It was a drink. And it was bubbling constantly. "You look like you've never seen a sprite before." Sabrina said looking in surprise at Rhilian's gawking.
"How... how does it keep bubbling?" He queried continuing to look in amazement.
Sabrina narrowed her eyes while giving a questioning expression. Rhilian picked up the paper cup which was also unique to him.
"Are you Armish or something?" She asked before taking a bite out of her burger.
"I don't think so... What's Armish?" Rhilian replied finally losing interest in the fizzing soda. Sabrina smiled and put her right hand across the table.
"I like you Rhilian. You're different. You don't care how you dress. You're not all fashion orientated." She said putting her hand on his.
"Thank you Sabrina. I like you too. You're the only one here who doesn't stare." Rhilian stated looking around at everyone.
He took his first bite out of the rather large burger before pausing. His eyes opened wide and he began chewing quicker. Whatever this was, it was exquisite. Not even the best foods' people in Hynula Region could match its brilliance.
"What..." Rhilian started before swallowing the chunk he had in his mouth. "What do you call this?"
"Um... I think I got you a barbeque bacon double cheeseburger." She answered smiling at how much Rhilian was enjoying it. "Thank you very much. I will not forget your kindness." Rhilian said finishing the rest of the burger in few seconds.
Sabrina smiled whole-heartedly. She had finally met someone she liked a lot and in an odd way he was like her. She wouldn't admit it but deep down in her mind, Rhilian was like her father who had passed away many years ago. She however didn't see him in that way. She saw him as boyfriend material. He must have been about thirty while she was twenty two. It may have been a large age gap but she didn't care. The older you are the more mature you are.
"Like your drink?" She asked staring into his eyes.
"Um... what?" He replied not hearing her properly.
"Do you like your sprite? I saw how much you were staring at it before." She stated softly stroking his rather hairy arm.
Rhilian gave a weak smile. It became abundantly clear that this young lass fancied him. But he couldn't reciprocate it. His love was for Minella and Minella only. Wherever she was, his love would only be for her. Slowly he took a sip from the paper cup.
"I don't want to destroy its enchantment." He replied putting it back on the table. Sabrina moved her leg from her side to his side and slowly began to move up his leg. Rhilian gave a small squeaky noise before jumping up.
"You know I think it's time to go." Rhilian said quickly.
"My thoughts exactly." Sabrina replied quickly moving over to him. "So where do you want to go? Mine or yours?" She asked lowering her head.
What could that possibly mean? Oh well it didn't matter. He just wanted to get back to the parking lot so Elsen could take him back to the place called Indonesia. She wrapped her right arm around his side and proceeded to walk with him. Rhilian gave an extremely weak smile and stiffly strode forward. Soon they were out the door leaving the busy fast food restaurant back to its business.
"Did you see those weirdo's?" A man said looking at Rhilian and Sabrina make their way across the street.
"Yeah well what do you expect? We're in Los Angeles." Another man said looking back down at his food.
It was a plain house. Nothing out of the ordinary. Painted white along the sides and a dull red for the roof. A small path led from the pavement to the main door. Small pillars held up the balcony above the front door. Tidy, well groomed grass dwelled either side of the path. Elsen looked down at the small note in his hand. This was the address. Eight Dolphin Drive. It didn't seem like a place Roland Piker would own but then again this guy was full of surprises. Slowly and confidently Elsen strode up to the door.
He pressed the small button to the side of door which in turn created a cheerful ringing noise somewhere inside. Elsen stood in complete silence as something moved towards the door. Quickly it opened revealing the full figure of Elsen's former friend Roland Piker.
"Elsen?" Roland said in surprise. "How's it going my brother?"
Elsen gave a smile but kept the expression of seriousness.
"It is good to see you again Roland."
"To right it is... What are you doing here?" Roland asked walking forward. Elsen took sometime to answer.
"It will be hard to explain... Let's catch up first. Do you mind if I come in?"
"No... Not at all. Come on in." Roland said enthusiastically.
He was a dark-skinned English man with a happy, mischievous personality. He was around the age of thirty but his face looked more in the age gap of the twenties. He had dark-black hair gelled in the front and let loose at the back. His eyes were a dark brown yet seemed cheerful. He wore a white singlet and long Levi jeans which descended down to his feet. His choice of shoes were steel-capped work boots. All in all a combination of cloths that looked perfectly fitting for his personality.
Everything inside however was quite unique and didn't in any way match Roland's personality. Old grandfather clocks and large decorative platters here and there. The wallpaper was similar to ones you would see during the nineteen thirty's. The carpet was soft on the toes and was equally unique. Some kind of old animal skin. Elsen blinked and immediately remembered what he was here for. It was odd... Roland Piker was the only person in his whole lifetime that was still able to surprise him.
"So what have you been up to brother? The police force treating you good?" Roland asked taking a seat on a comfortable old armchair.
"Yes, the force has been treating me well. It was quite different from the Special Forces, but still adjustable. How is your retirement?" Elsen answered then questioned.
"Adjustable..." He answered smiling.
They spent several minutes chatting and reminiscing about the days of the Special Forces. It was amazing how well these two men got on despite the fact that Elsen was old enough to be Roland's Ancestor's Ancestor. Finally Elsen decided it was time to let Roland know his request.
"Now in all seriousness Roland I need your help. But what you'll hear from me will not sound humanly possible." Elsen said at last. Roland smiled his usual toothy smile.
"I've been in some of the most top secret missions with you Elsen... I think you should have a bit more confidence in my understanding.
Elsen and Roland had taken a seat in the odd grandma-like dining room. Elsen had definitely not expected his good friend to live in an old-fashioned manner. Then again to Elsen this was definitely not old fashioned. It was a bit more like new and hip in his book. His forty thousand year old book of what was in and what wasn't. Carefully planning on what words he'd use, Elsen explained the situation to Roland. The reaction Elsen's good friend gave was quite unexpected. It was calm...
Roland sat with his usual placid expression as Elsen watched with a worried expression imprinted on his face.
"You do understand what I've just said... don't you?" Elsen questioned, his worry of his friend beginning to mount.
"Elsen, I've lived a fair while... Thirty-four years is quite a bit in my mind. And of those years I've never heard such a convincing story that magic, undead, immortals and that shi... stuff exists. You may have been my squadron leader and you may not have received a single wound during your service but..." Roland said, with his feet swinging back and forth while he sat. "But I just don't take to fantasies as well as you. Don't get me wrong my old friend, but what you are implying is simply... non-sensible."
Elsen knew something like this would arise. He softly placed his hand on his friends arm.
"Roland... I know that what I just said goes against what you've been brought up with, but there are forces out there that you aren't used to... if you wish I can give you a small demonstration." Roland's eyes narrowed. An obvious sign that he was intrigued or at least allowing some time to humour his old squadron leader.
"Very well old friend. Show me this magic of yours." He replied sitting back smugly. Elsen looked uneasy. He could perform many illogical things however he knew all too well how intimidating such power could be. If he did something overly showy then he may lose a friend as well as an ally.
Roland continued to sit. His body posture relaxed and unimposing. He clearly thought he was not going to be inspired by something extraordinary. Elsen chanted some words under his breath... it sounded alarming. Almost dark... then again in this modern world anything magical or the rasping words co-relating to spells sounds satanic and dark. The effect was slight, unimposing yet unexplainable. Slowly Roland floated above his chair. Suspended as if a puppet held up only by its strings. Roland wriggled a bit, then concentrated hard. An explanation lost to him. His face remained calm.
"Very good Elsen. Well you're right of course... I have no idea how you're doing this but still..." He started. "I don't think I can demonstrate such willingness to accept this as you... How about..." He continued before getting interrupted.
"Roland... I can do a great many things but I do not wish to intimidate you. If you can promise me you'll not disown me as a friend then I will show you the full extent of my power." Elsen announced quickly.
"Do what you want Elsen. I will not react disapprovingly." Roland said back his tone vacantly monotonous.
Elsen got up from his red-cushioned seat. Before Roland could react, Elsen grabbed his arm... tightly. In an almost callous manner he rasped out horrid shouting screeches. Words seemed to echo inside Roland's ears. The image portrayed by his eyes seemed to melt away and morphed into a terrible vision of cold life-less corpses. Yet they stood staring at him... gleaming yellow eyes. Some with wounds so crippling it didn't seem possible they could stand. Amongst the barrage of zombie-like humans stood three dark figures... each covered by swirling protective cloaks. One was fully silhouetted by an ethereal blue/black fire behind. The other two were partially visible. One was almost bald... several lengths of grey wire-like hair waving in the heated air-currents. His eyes as yellow as those around him. The second was younger by far... He had black, coarse and thick hair. It waved around his shoulders. His eyes alarmingly black as if the pupil had engulfed the surrounding white. The more Roland watched the more ghastly creatures seemed to spew into existence.
He tried hard to close his eyes. It felt as if they were bleeding. The very image seemed like hell itself. It was like a horror movie yet no director could catch the true horror of this image. Blackened, red clouds ate away the background. They were in a village of some sort. Cabins held cruelly tortured people. Some missing eyes, some missing limbs. Heads on spikes. Mutated creatures dashed back and forward in the distance. Their bodies without hair and skin but rather the flesh underneath. Screams of terror echoed into his ears. The sound of one thousand people simultaneous being torn apart by something merciless. Trees were alive yet bore the similarities of emptiness. They were a pale grey. Living but lifeless.
Soon something changed. Elsen and three other figures appeared. However they were either dead or restrained. A bald figure with no eyebrows or body hair stared vacantly forward with yellow eyes. The figure looked familiar somehow. Roland was sure he may have seen him on television before. Elsen lay motionless on the ground. The young black-haired man with black eyes stood above him. His metal staff pressed against Roland's old friend's throat. Blood poured out from his neck and eyes. His arm looked chewed and mutated. The other larger figure with a buzz-cut sort of haircut sat kneeled with saddened green eyes. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he stared forward. The silhouetted figure stood behind him with two blue flaming axes. The final new figure lay slain on the ground. His eyes cut out and blood leaking freely from his throat. The dark older man stood behind him holding two crystalline swords. Roland could face it no longer. It was horrible. Why would Elsen do this to him? It was hellish in every aspect of the word.
"No! Stop... Please." He cried out in horror. In that second he could blink... when he reopened his eyes Elsen stood above him with a glowing sword.
As expected Roland was shaking uncontrollably. His skin pale and clammy. Tears were built up in his eyes yet hadn't been released. Elsen lowered himself down to his friend.
"I am sorry you had to witness that Roland. But that is the future the world has without your help." He said calmly. Roland quivered as he spoke.
"I... What happened? I mean where? No... How? Who were those people? What's going on Elsen?" Roland queried in a wavering manner. Elsen took a deep sigh.
"They are the three necromancers... Krit, Lokken and Bulgurius. What you just saw was my representation of what would happen if you do not help us in stopping them. We need you Roland." Elsen explained. He felt bad... His old friend laying on the ground in terror, sweating profusely and quivering like a small child. Roland opened his mouth but no words came out. "Let me take you to meet my father... He will explain the situation better than me..."
Whilst Elsen attempted to convince Roland to join their cause, Jeremy was still getting use to the environment. He made the foolish mistake of trying to please the small girl. He did this by pretending she was an airplane and spun her around. He had seen some movies where some parents did this, so assumed this would make her content and leave. Unfortunately it seemed to cause the opposite effect, where every five minutes she ran to Jeremy demanding to be a plane. Several times he was close to sending her way into a nearby wall, but decided against it. The black box may report it as his fault.
At the moment he was in the dining room eating tofu. He was use to its taste from previous years. He wasn't vegetarian but rarely ate meat. His odd mentors were also sitting at the table. The male of the house was bald with thin grey hairs just above his ears. His forehead bore wrinkles caused from many years of stress. He had friendly eyes yet they didn't quite seem trustworthy. Jeremy took this into account as he continued to shovel down tofu... full of that soy goodness.
The female of the house was tall, just a bit larger than the male. She had thick bushy black hair that reached the middle of her back. Her eyes were also friendly. Dark brown yet more inviting than the males'. The small girl was also at the table, she was watching a bug scuttle mindlessly from one side to another. They sat and ate in silence for several minutes. This silence was interrupted by Jeremy as something rubbed against his leg. He let out a discontented grunt as he looked down. One of the playful Jack-Russels was rubbing past him back and forth on the quest for food. He had the mind to kick it to the other side of the table but thought against it. Instead he grabbed it stiffly by the collar and using pressure but not aggressively pulled it out from the table. It looked up at him panting and half expecting food. Jeremy scowled at it and whispered
"You want food? Go catch a rabbit."
The male of the house seemed to have heard but did not say anything in return. After a while the female of the house decided to get to business with Jeremy.
"I think it's time we talked about what my husband Xiahou Cao and myself have in preparation for you." She said while relaxing. Jeremy finished off the last piece of tofu on his plate.
"You mean I wasn't sent here just to eat your food?" Jeremy replied in a sarcastic manner. Cao looked up with narrowed eyes.
"To begin with, we are your masters... I am to be referred to as Master Cao. My wife is to be referred to as Master Xiao. My daughter is sister Lin to you. Proper titles and control of attitude is your first step in controlling your inner demons." He announced sternly but still calmly.
Jeremy was taken back. It was clear he was fighting an internal struggle. Finally he concluded to halt the smart-arse talk but instead question his objectives.
"And what if I disobey?" He queried with clenched fists.
"You just have... And in answer to your question, you will be given a chore of our choosing." Master Xiao stated calmly. Jeremy narrowed his eyes.
"To begin with my young apprentice, you will feed the dogs." Master Cao said happily. "You will find the dog food in the shed outside. Lin will show you the way." Jeremy arose from the table angrily bumping it as he went. Several emptied cups toppled over.
"I will not be treated as a child. You are not my masters. You are red-neck Asians with an agenda to make me do all your work." Jeremy yelled with a silver fork clenched in his hand.
Calmly Xiao picked up a bottle of water from the middle of the table. She swished it around a bit before splashing a very minimal amount on Jeremy's face. The effect was instantaneous. He launched backwards gripping his face in agony. The fork being sent into the wall behind. Jeremy cried out in anger and pain. His energy gave way as he continued to back away. His vision was blurred and he was disorientated. The Jack Russel barked as it tried to escape Jeremy's legs. Unfortunately for both, Jeremy tripped up over its body. His head smacked hard against the wall behind. The silver fork still sticking some distance up.
"This water here is a demon controller." Cao said bluntly. "It will kill the demon in you if we place too much on you. However that may also kill your soul. That we cannot allow. For you to leave us, you must pass the test of faith. And that is by drinking and finishing that entire bottle. Only then will you be free of us and hold the ability to control the demon better than you know." Cao continued. Jeremy moaned, completely fatigued.
Lin was a sweet young girl. Without hesitation she jumped off her chair and rushed to 'brother Jeremy's' side. She clutched his broad arm.
"Are you alright Brother?" She queried in a slightly worried tone. Jeremy moaned again as he looked up. The parents were gone... He pushed the girl aside.
"Don't touch me little girl." He warned. The dog stayed several metres away from Jeremy as it quivered underneath the dining room table. "The mongrel has the right idea... Go join it." He ordered angrily. Lin frowned a bit but remained next to her new brother.
Slowly Jeremy arose to his feet. Keeping his eyes from the little girl. His anger was barely under control. If anything else happened that displeased him, it was likely he'd murder the whole family here. The length ratio of Jeremy and the girl was amusing. While he stood she was barely able to reach his arms... so instead she gripped his left leg.
"What the fuck is your problem?" He yelled at her angrily. Then suddenly something strange happened. It was something he had not felt since before falling into the pool as a child. He was glaring at the girl when he noticed her eyes fully. They were familiar. His expression faded into a blank, vacant stare. She let out a weak smile.
This girl had all the characteristics of Jeremy's old Buddhist teacher. He never knew the man's name... he would just call his teacher Master. He stuttered for a bit in confusion. Something tingly shot up his spine. He shivered without thinking. Before he could control himself he whispered one word:
"Master?" The following moments were rather non-climatic. She scratched her head then whispered back:
"I'm sister Lin. You're brother Jeremy." Jeremy paused then the feeling faded. In several moments he walked towards the door unsteadily. Every second step he'd look back at Lin with... sad but loving eyes. Lin continued to smile sweetly. "I'll help you feed Ruffy, Speed and Shadow..." She said before Jeremy reached the door. He did not reply but stiffly nodded his head.