A/N: It's been a long time since I've updated this story and I apologize for that. I actually did a tiny rehaul on it where I fixed my spelling errors and other things in some of the chapters. I also did my best to try and add more description as I was bad at it when this story was first being written. I can't do much to make it look better other than rewrite it. I might do that one day but as for now, I am just going to write on until the end.
If anyone's still sticking with this story, please tell me what you think!
Chapter 103: Loss
"This I an unfortunate set of events," Vespa felt disheartened to hear of the news. This was definitely a worst case scenario. "Unless you come into contact with him again, you won't be able to gain his alliance."
"What's going to happen to him?" Keiji wanted to know that he'd at least be alright. Just because Chichiri left, didn't mean that he didn't care about him at all, and it certainly didn't mean that he planned on stopping.
"Fate will take its predetermined course." That was all that the Red Witch could tell him. It was all that she was allowed to tell them.
"Are you trying to rewrite a major event, Miss Vespa?" Fife had a hunch that they were involved in something that was far beyond them, something that affected the grand scheme of all things. He just wanted to know what it was. He didn't understand why she couldn't tell them after all they had been through.
"I suppose that's part of what I ask of all of you," Vespa couldn't answer them completely on that, either. As much as she could have liked to tell them what was going on, she truly could not or they might all back out as Chichiri did.
"Rewriting fate?" Ko asked.
"Then, everyone involved…" Zangetsu was coming to terms with what exactly was going on.
"Don't assume too much on the issue. Fate is a very sensitive subject and anything you do in life can determine the outcome, no matter how insignificant. I'm not promising better than the fate you were handed before you came into contact with each other." In fact, they could call be headed towards a fate much worse depending on what happened. Vespa at least wanted to give them a chance to do something about it. So far, things were breaking even, but who knew how long that could last?
"So, does Chichiri's fate go back to what it was originally?" Ko was worried. It sounded like they all had pretty bad outcomes to their lives. If someone in the group gave up, was this what would happen? They were no longer fighting against fate, after all.
"Not completely, but a lot of aspects will stay the same," Vespa couldn't deny that it wasn't good when someone backed out.
"I was afraid of that," Hiroshima clenched his fist. Damn it to hell and back. What a fucking idiot.
"Then you know the outcome that he cannot escape," Vespa leveled the angel with a serious look and he nodded in response.
"What outcome?" Ko didn't know if he'd answer her, but she really wanted him to. She was well aware of the pact that angels had when it came to secrecy and sensitive information.
"We can't tell you that until after this mission is over," Vespa's words didn't help ease her fears at all. Ko couldn't help but think something awful had befallen Chichiri. It didn't help that his mental state was as deteriorated as it was.
Vespa placed a hand on her shoulder and gave her an understanding expression. "You can trust us or you can pull out. A lot of people don't like their fate being held in another's hands. You take a gamble either way. You can do what you've been doing and stick by Hiroshima's side, or you can abandon it like Chichiri and a let your fate return to its original state."
Ko didn't even think about her options before she answered. "I'm not going anywhere. I came too far to just drop it all and there is supposed to be a reason for this, right? If that's the case, then it's better to stay." She had a feeling that staying was her best bet. Somehow, she saw this as a second change and she wanted to take it.
"Who is she?" Temari blinked in confusion and glanced to Vespa with curious eyes.
"Her name is Vespa," Tsurigi introduced her to the Red Witch. "She's the Red Witch of Zameln and a very good friend." In fact, she was the one who had been helping them out all of this time, in more ways than any of them could ever hope to realize.
Temari bowed politely and made her presence known. "Hello, my name is Temari and it's very nice to meet you."
The witch bowed back to show her respect. "Greetings, little one, what is your purpose of being here?"
"I'm traveling with them so that I can find out who made me, and what I am." More than anything, the little humanoid wanted to find out the mystery of her life and purpose of her creation. It was something solved more easily than most humans contemplation over such a thing.
"I wish you luck on your journey. Not knowing your place in the world can be a very dangerous thing," the witch knew that for certain. Red eyes cast a glance towards the green-haired angel.
"Hey! Why are you looking at me?" Hiroshima barked out the question. Was she trying to give his whole involvement in the group away?
"Your legend rings true to you," Vespa pointed out the obvious answer to his question.
"I didn't do that because I didn't know my place, I did it because I hated that town and all of the people in it." She didn't need to go writing him off as something that was capable of being pitied. He was far from that.
Keiji stared down the angel. He didn't necessarily think that was true, considering he had been shown otherwise and he was from Sasugawa.
"Besides, I plan on staying here. So, you should, too," Fife smiled at the green-haired boy at this side. "You're my donor, after all."
"That's part of why I'm staying," Keiji then turned his sights to Ko. "What about you? Are you going after Chichiri or are you going to stay with us?"
Out of everyone there, she was the most conflicted over the issue. Even though she said she was going to stay earlier, Keiji knew how indecisive that she could be as well. He wanted to make sure that she was going to stay no matter what.
"Why are you asking me that?" Didn't they just all hear her when she said she was going to stay? Ko didn't understand why he was asking her about it again.
"You're stuck on him. You seemed like you wanted to go after him," Keiji could understand how she felt. If it was someone like Fife, he'd be tempted to go after him as well. Sure, it was wrong that Chichiri did what he had, but to a degree Keiji understood it and he understood why Ko would make a selfish decision in turn.
"I…" Ko started to speak, then paused and looked as if she was choosing her words wisely before speaking again. "In truth, I don't know. I'm torn between what to do. It's not easy to just make that choice." Both her friends and the man that she once loved were very important. If she left, then whatever fate she had before was going to be etched in stone. If she stayed, then she could possibly change whatever outcome there was for her.
It was really hard to choose on things like that. It was choosing between reason and emotion and she hated it.
"You've made harder choices. What's the difference?" Hiroshima didn't see why she was hesitating so much. She might as well just make up her damned mind.
"I feel like I'm just throwing his life away for some reason," Ko didn't like it. She already felt bad that his fate would no longer be altered because he left. It was like she was secretly doomed him by staying with everyone. It felt selfish to let him fall in order to better herself.
"You were put against Azmy, me and others. This is just another rock in our path," Hiroshima tried to talk some sense into her. Just because she loved this guy didn't mean that she could go making exceptions now.
"And, you know what you do to offending ricks, you kick them out of the way," Tsurugi added.
"That sounds so harsh," Zangetsu couldn't completely agree with the fallen angel's logic. No matter what, Chichiri was someone they had traveled with for a long time. It seemed wrong to give him that kind of send off.
"He abandoned us, so what's the point? He didn't care about us before he left," Hiroshima pointed out the selfish endeavors of the human. What made him so special opposed to those they had cast aside prior? Why were they making such an emotional ruckus over him when he chose the path he had regardless of how much they begged him to reconsider?
"He was under Soel's magic spell. No one could cure him, but he could have stuck around to let us help him," Tsurugi agreed with his boyfriend. Chichiri didn't even want them to do that. He was pretty cruel to them, so why could they not be back?
Ko frowned. She still looked conflicted over everything. "I just wish he hadn't have told me what he did." Maybe that's why her situation was so hard to come to terms with. It wasn't just something she could so easily consider.
"My opinion still stands. If he loved you, then he wouldn't have just left." Maybe it was because angels mated for life and he couldn't understand it, but Hiroshima didn't really believe his utter nonsense about caring about any of them in that moment.
"He always liked Ko, but he never told her," Keiji looked as though he felt a little guilty. "I kind of knew about it, but I didn't say anything. It was supposed to be a secret." Maybe if he had said something, then things would be better between them. Then again, saying something might have made this situation all the more hard to face as well.
"I just…don't understand why he'd do that," Ko tried to muster up all of the strength she could just not to cry in frustration and sorrow. It hurt, more than most anything that had happened to her so far and she hated it. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Zangetsu offering her a sympathetic look.
"We'll talk about this later. What do you have planned for us, Vespa? What move do we make next?" The ninja looked to the witch in curiosity. They were holding her up by talking about this kind of thing in front of her.
"I want you to go to Osawa," the words shot shock into anyone with angelic blood in the group. In fact, they all looked at her as if she was trying to kill them.
"Osawa? That's suicide," Eve certainly didn't want to go.
"What the big idea? What? Shaffon wasn't enough?" Did this witch literally want to kill them? Did she have something against angels? Hiroshima was beginning to wonder if this wasn't all a part of some grand scheme.
"What's wrong with Osawa?" Zangetsu didn't really understand. The only thing he could gather was that it was another bad place for angels.
"You must hate us, huh? I'm sorry for whatever it is I've done to make you mad," Tsurugi would gladly do anything to repent for whatever he did that made her feel that way. He didn't want to go to Osawa at all.
"Why do you say that?" The ninja still wasn't quite sure of what the angels were eluding to.
"Yeah, what's the big deal?" Ko heard them compare Osawa to Shaffon, but in what way was it like Shaffon? That place was pretty awful. She had a feeling that she didn't want to know.
"Osawa is the home of the Angel Hunters," Hiroshima decided to shine some light on his explanation.
This only stirred even more confusion from Ko.
"Angel Hunters? But in Shaffon they just hated angels and didn't really hunt them." So, why would Hiroshima compared the two places? This place sounded even worse than any of the other places they had been so far.
"Ten Sao Tami killed angels out of hate. The Angel Hunters kill them because they want their magic. They even wear parts of angels, like wings, hair and even skin," Tsurugi explained his reasoning for not wanting any part of that place.
"That's disgusting," Keiji was angry. What kind of human being did that sort of despicable stuff?
"Remember, angels are just like unicorns, centaurs, mermaids and vampires. They might look like humans, but they are regarded as prized animals," Fife was quick to remind them that humans and magical beings had a definite rift. Everyone in the group might be accustomed to treating them like equals, but it was definitely not the norm.
"Yes, Angel Hunters have been around for a long time. I never thought I'd encounter them again," Tsurugi didn't want to, but he knew he would eventually come face to face with them. There was no looking past it at this point.
'Osawa…That's near Sawsugawa…Does that mean that Soel is getting close to completing her mission?' Hiroshima had to think that there was definitely a reason they were headed in that direction. Great, two places that he didn't want to go. That was just wonderful.
"They could get any of us, and since there are three angels here together, we're a target that can't be overlooked," Eve reminded them of how much they stuck out.
"Osawa, that's mostly a ghost town from what I have' heard," Temari posed a piece of information that should have put their minds at ease. At least she hoped that her information was correct on the subject.
"Yeah, I heard that most everyone left after what happened to Saesugawa," Keiji could only hope that it was still the case.
"Last time I was there, no but dead angels and Angel Hunters were there," Hiroshima pointed out that the threat still remained for them.
"Why are we going there, anyway?" Zangetsu looked to the witch in question. Surely, she wasn't just sending them there to be killed. That didn't seem like her. There had to be a reason why she would do something like that. Maybe there was a magical item there that they had to collect.
"The Angel Hunters are said to be helping Soel in gathering magical items. They also possess harnessing staffs that were stolen from Zameln by dark angels," Vespa told them their true objective. It was another fetch quest with powerful weapons. It was the normal as far as that kind of thing went.
"Yes, without a harnessing device, they want to use the magic from the angels that they've slaughtered. The only other way that they could control that power would be by spell casting," Tsurugi knew that they would do that. It took far too much of their magical resources and it wouldn't make them nearly as efficient.
"So, how powerful are these people?" That was what Zangetsu really wanted to know. From the way the angels made it sound, they were more than formidable. If they were killing angels, that was more than likely the case in point regardless.
"They can physically do just about as much as we can. They also have some immunity to magic," Eve told them how powerful they were rumored to be.
"That depends, though," Tsurugi argued her point.
"Yeah, it depends on how many angels they've killed." The more angels they slaughtered the more powerful each one was. Hiroshima knew that for certain.
"True," Tsurugi agreed, "some have only killed one or two, but some have killed many. The Angel Hunters we've met in the last have made a blood sport out of it. They enjoy it."
As much as he would have liked to admit otherwise, Tsurugi knew that in their eyes being like he and Hiroshima were merely animals set up to be slaughtered.
"They were strong, too. I didn't get to kill them last time, either." For all Hiroshima knew, these Angel Hunters could be the very same ones he'd encountered prior.
"Well, at that time you had just found out that you were an angel. You were just dealing with a bit of an identity crisis," Tsurugi smiled at his boyfriend.
Eve glanced at him and even though her facial expression remained, she was fascinated by his words. 'What does he mean by that? Hiroshima has always been an angel…hasn't he? Something doesn't make sense.'
"I know that this mission will be hard for you, but I believe that you all can accomplish it. Also, please be aware of a new threat. There's no doubt that Soel wants to capture the legend, and she may be there personally to stand in your way. Beware, you may not be ready to face her yet," Vespa knew that there was always the possibility of that happening. Soel had already interfered with them once, that meant that she was now on the offensive.
"We'll be near Saesugawa," Keiji wasn't ready for that at all.
"That's where we all met," to Ko it seemed like they were just going around in a huge circle.
"Damn, not looking forward to that journey," Hiroshima was dreading it. That town was the absolute last thing that he wanted to see. It looked like some aspects of the past couldn't just stay that way, could they?
"It seems that we don't really have a choice," Tsurugi spoke as his form was illuminated. The familiar fire spun around them, blocking their view as they were transported to their next destination. Each of their hearts was filled with dread as they made the journey.
"You'll be put in an extreme situation. Please, be careful. Return the items to Zameln without fail. You're close to a breakthrough, but you're also close to the destination. Any sudden tip could become a milestone," Vespa's words cut through the fire before they were all transported away.
"We understand. We'll return the items without fail," Fife could nearly promise that.
"Hopefully," Ko sighed.
"Don't be so glum, Ko. I'm sure we'll do just fine," the vampire reassured her as she looked through the flames.
'Goodbye…Chichiri…I don't know why you left, but I wished that I could have helped you. I love you, and I realized how stupid I was to not tell you that I loved you back,' a single tear ran down her cheek and disappeared in the flames as she could hear Vespa tell them farewell.
"Ko, this may be a hard lesson for you, but sometimes we simply have to accept our fate. Chichiri's disappearance has put the plans I had previously going in a slightly different direction. Everything is coming to a close. It's only a matter of time before everything comes to a close. I just hope that I can pull this off. Everything rides on my shoulders," Vespa was getting worried about the fate of those weary travelers. Regardless, she wasn't going to give up on them just yet. God knew they were still fighting for her cause.
The flames of the fire swirled around them and blew out as they appeared in Osawa, more specifically; they were in a forest of dense trees. It was eerily silent around them. Not even the birds chirped, and the insects were silent as well.
It was like the forest was weeping.
"Is this Osawa?" Ko asked after glancing around and seeing nothing but trees. She was a little confused. This didn't look like a town at all.
"According to my coordinates, we are on the outskirts of Osawa," Temari let everyone know of their location.
"You're a good map," Fife complimented the girl, who smiled at him.
"Thank you! I hope to be helpful in any way I can," she was happy knowing that she was a valuable part of their team.
"So, which way do we need to move to go into Osawa?" Ko questioned. "That's where the Angel Hunters are, right?"
Temari glanced around for a few moments, before walking off to her right. The others looked at her for a moment before she turned to them. "If we go this way, we can get to the center of town."
"I've overjoyed," Hiroshima shot sarcastically, "real excited."
Keiji walked after her, and the angel begrudgingly followed. "It's been a long time since I've been here."
"I only passed through here when I was a kid," the dual-winged angel didn't want anything else to do with it in all honesty.
Ko peered through some of the trees as the two were talking. She could faintly see something hanging up in a few of them. Upon further inspection, she noticed that they were nooses, floating in the breeze. They swayed back and forth and made her feel very uneasy. "This place is kind of eerie."
"It's dangerous for us just to be here," Tsurugi noted.
"Why?" Temari asked. Wasn't it only dangerous in the village? The forest should have been safe, right?
"Angels are killed here," the words were chilling coming from his lips.
"We haven't seen any bodies yet, but there will be," Eve could nearly count on running into one at this rate.
"A lot of angels can abandon their bodies, but if they are killed it's a different story," Tsurugi explained how that issue worked with them. Slaughtering angels resulted in a horrible fate.
Ko stopped suddenly, her body locked up and blue eyes widened at the sight before her. She felt a panic flutter through her chest as her pupils darted around. Everyone else seemed unaware of what they were walking into as they went around her.
"What is it?" Zangetsu glanced over his shoulder, and as he did, in that instant he ran smack into something cold and hard. The ninja looked up to see a swinging body of an angel with no arms or wings. Glassed over eyes stared up towards heaven as if begging it for mercy.
"We're running into the bad areas," Eve warned. "We should stay on guard. If the Angel Hunters will strike, then they're going to strike us around here." She wanted everyone to be on their guard. This was a time to start worrying about being attacked. They needed to get ready if they had to get out of a pinch quickly.
Hiroshima looked up at the body, staring into the angel's lifeless eyes. "The wings and arms. That's a similar killing pattern to the Angel Hunters we encountered in the past."
"Well, if they're making this many kills, I don't blame them for staying around," Tsurugi glanced around at the nooses occupied with bodies. There were a lot of angels that had been killed there. It looked like the hunters had found themselves a good place.
"There are two more angels over here," Zangetsu called out from another part of the forest.
"Here, too," Ko was in another area, looking up at three bodies that were missing arms and wings. The more they found the more disturbing things got. Ko was learning why the angels spoke so frightfully of this place. It was nothing but a slaughter house.
"The poor angels," Temari looked sad to see so many divine beings strung up like meat. "Why would anyone do this?" She couldn't understand how anyone could be so cruel to beings that did nothing but give them blessings and watch out for them.
"For power," Tsurugi answered her question, "the same reason that humans do. Unfortunately, this world is full of people like that." More than anyone, Tsurugi knew the vices of humans and how unforgiving and selfish they could be. It was a sad but true fact that constantly reminded him of why he fell from grace all of those years ago.
"What else is new? If it wasn't for humans, then angels wouldn't have to hide themselves," Hiroshima knew it as well as anyone. Humans were the bane of his existence. They were the reason behind his legend, the reason he had done all that he had.
"We're humans here," Ko was quick to remind the two of them that they shouldn't be blaming an entire race of people for the actions of a few.
"Except me," Fife pointed to himself happily. For once, he was glad not to be in that consensus.
"Human…" Temari seemed thoughtful on the word. Her voice was wistful as she spoke. "What does it mean? To be human?"
"That's a hard one," Tsurugi answered her. "I suppose living, breathing, having a soul and emotions." That was the best way that he could describe it.
"That doesn't make you human," Hiroshima argued the fact, "it makes you alive."
"Am I human?" Temari knew that Hiroshima and Tsurugi were angels. Surely, they could tell her whether or not she was. Angels were really smart and they knew a lot. Asking them was a good idea.
Hiroshima simply stared at the girl before him. 'Her body is composed of mostly robotic parts, but…her eyes…there's something different about them, and even more bizarre…She seems to have a soul or something closer to it, anyway. What the hell is going on?'
The girl before him was some sort of amalgamate or nature and technology. No matter how much he tried to analyze her, the angel couldn't figure it out. "You're a cyborg," Hiroshima said the answer that close fit.
"What?" Keiji turned to the two. "I thought she was a robot." She looked and acted like one, anyway. How was she a cyborg? What parts of her was alive?
"I thought she was a Syntacom," Ko was equally confused.
"Pieces of her are human," Hiroshima even seemed baffled by it. What kind of Frankenstein creation was she?
"She has a soul, or something that resembles one as well," Tsurugi pointed out her one defining feature that set her apart from anything mechanical.
"It's interesting that someone could just throw her away," Hiroshima wondered if they even knew how special this girl truly was. It was more than likely a bunch of stupid humans who didn't know what they were dealing with. Even more fascinating, however, was the fact that someone managed to create something like her. Who did this? How did they do this? It defied any level of science at the time. Maybe it was magic…even so, the question still remained…why?
He knew why. Glassy blue eyes squinted at the blonde angel.
"It is," Tsurugi agreed as the two angels went silent and merely stared at each other for a while, exchanging expressions in an unspoken conversation between them.
After the silence grew uncomfortable, Zangetsu decided to speak up and avert the topic back to what they had been discussing originally.
"Going back to the angel subject, how did they get all of these angels out into the forest?" He broke the silence as Hiroshima snapped out of his glaring competition and looked to him.
"There are several ways to do that," the green-haired angel pointed out.
"They could even chase them here. From what I have seen from the corpses here, the Angel Hunters have cut off their arms and wings." With no wings, Tsurugi knew that all they could do was run. If they also had no arms, then it was all a matter of time before blood loss caught up with them and they had fallen prisoner to their inflictions.
"Most of the angel's powers are located in their wings," Hiroshima informed his group.
"It's a common fact that if you possess an angel's wings then you can be granted the power of flight." That wasn't even a legend; Tsurugi knew humans and other beings who had ended up proving it right.
"Feathers are used in spells as well," Hiroshima added.
"Yes, they are," Tsurugi nodded.
"You can grow your wings back, though…so why kill you?" It didn't make sense to Keiji. Hiroshima had his wings chopped off quite a bit. Did that mean that someone could just take his wings and be granted flight just like that?
"Humans having angelic powers is strictly forbidden. There are reasons that people aren't born with wings," Tsurugi hated to think of a world where that was possible. The consequences would be dire.
"Angels will come for their powers if they're taken away. In order to keep the balance, we can't allow humans to gain knowledge of our secrets," Hiroshima told them that simply wearing an angel's wings would only result in the human's powers being taken away or the vengeful angel acting on their own accord.
"We don't want humans killing us like angels," Tsurugi hated it more than anything.
"It's also dangerous for humans to possess our powers," Eve added. "As Temari stated, there are reasons that we know what we know and have the powers that we do. In human hands, they can become overwhelmed or egotistical and use them for something other than what they were intended for."
Most angels used their powers for purposes of good and to maintain the balance of all things. They were created to help and serve humans, to keep them safe and protect them throughout their lives and to guide their souls towards their final destination. They knew the fate of whomever they came into contact with. They were the bearers of burdens and those wise with knowledge beyond any human's.
Eve hated to think what would happen if humans had powers like those.
It was bad enough that some of them had the powers that they had in the first place. It was why they were in this predicament.
"Force Blast!" A female voice called out as everyone was caught off guard and swept off of their feet. With no time to react, the group was thrown backwards, propelled by the strength of the attack. For a moment, they were weightless, then they came crashing through the ground.
"That hurt," Temari sat up and whined as she rubbed her back. "Who is she? Why did she hurt us?"
"Eclipse…" Tsurugi's expression turned dire as his eye narrowed.
"I found you. Did you honestly think I'd let you escape?" Standing in front of them was a familiar sight, one that they had not missed and didn't intend on seeing again. The last thing they needed at a time like this was Eclipse.
But, that also raised a question…Was she a part of what was going on in Osawa?
…To Be Continued
A/N: That's it, another chapter of Sacrifice is done. I hope you all enjoyed and that you please leave a review if you're still sticking with this story so far! I really appreciate it and I'd love to know what you all think!
Until next update!