Yeah, sorry for not updating for a really long time. I'm a naturally lazy person, I guess. Here's the next installment.
The stench wafting from the building was enough to nearly make Leon regurgitate his lunch. He pulled the collar of his shirt up over his nose and entered, eyes nearly squinting shut.
The smell was even worse inside. Bodies covered the floor, bloody gashes making them unrecognizable. Leon slowly made his way to the corner where their guide had been overwhelmed and searched the body for his keys. He forced himself to tear his eyes away from the scene, instead focusing only on the task at hand.
It took less than a minute to retrieve the keys. Leon stood and surveyed the room for anything useful. He was about to leave when he noticed something- both the massive broadsword and the orb had vanished, as if they had never been there in the first place. No matter how hard he looked, Leon couldn't find them.
"Something's not right here…" he thought. Immediately a sharp pain erupted in his head. He groaned, putting both hands to his head and falling to the floor. He lay in a fetal position, pain preventing him from moving. Then came another surprise for the day- a voice called out in his head.
It was soft as first, barely audible. But it slowly increased in volume, until it felt as though it was someone standing next to him.
"Are you alright?" the voice asked. It was clearly male, not deep exactly, but rough.
"W-what?" Leon asked back.
"I said, are you all right?"
"Who the hell are you?"
"I'll explain soon. For now, answer the question."
"I could be worse."
"No major injuries, then? Nothing broken?" the voice sounded almost concerned.
"No, I'm fine."
"Then it's time you learned about what you just released."
"Released?" Leon repeated numbly.
"Yes, released. That orb that the boy touched- when it was held, a foul evil seeped into this world."
"Is that what caused the monsters?"
"Yes, and it will continue to create them, until the demon who controls it lies dead."
"You have got to be kidding me." Leon's headache had subsided, and he rose to his feet.
"Do I sound like I'm kidding?" The voice sighed. "The point is, you let this happen. Now you have to stop it. Look around you. Imagine this on a much larger scale. That is what will happen if the demon is allowed to live much longer."
"So what do I do?"
"You need to get help. An army, militia, even a small group of trained men might work. But the longer this goes on, the more innocents will be killed."
"Exactly how do you think I'm supposed to convince people? Just walk up to them and say that they'll die if they don't help me?" Leon scowled, hoping that the voice could sense his expression.
"I'm afraid that it's your only choice. You need manpower, and that's the only way you'll get it."
"Fine, I'll do it. Not like I have much choice, do I?" Leon shook his head. He'd started the day rolling out of bed and slowly eating a bowl of cereal. Now he had to recruit people for a cause he knew almost nothing about.
The truck started up easily. There was plenty of gas in the tank to make it to the city, even if he had to make several detours. Not for the first time, Leon was thankful that he'd earned his driver's license not a week prior to the attack. He was about to drive away when he realized something: He couldn't just leave the bodies there. Not without even a memorial or proper burial. He opened the driver's door and stepped out.
There was no way he was going back into the building to get the bodies, not again. Then Leon remembered the bus. Slowly, he got in and picked up a few backpacks. He brought them out and piled them together with some dry sticks. Finally, he lit a match and set the tower ablaze.
"That'll have to do," he thought, and got back into the truck.
As Leon pulled out of the lot, he decided to see if he could squeeze a bit more information from this voice.
"You never answered my question," he began, keeping his eyes to the road. "Who are you?"
There was a slight pause before the voice answered, "My name is not important. What matters is that I'm an Akari. When you released the demon, you also released the spirits of many Akari who were sealed away with him. We dispersed, looking for physical hosts we could enter. One of us entered the guide."
"So you're inside my head, is that right?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes."
"So you're essentially a parasite, and I'm just your host."
"Not exactly. The deal goes both ways. I get to enter your head and continue my existence, while you gain my abilities and experiences. I'm probably the only reason you made it out alive. Did you really think that you had that kind of strength?"
"No, but I sure as hell wasn't expecting a dead man in my brain to be calling the shots."
"'Dead' is not completely correct. 'Displaced' would be more accurate."
"Same difference. Tell me more about this 'demon' I'm supposed to be fighting."
"His name is Espirus. He was the man on the carving, the one with the broadsword. He was once an Akari, but he changed. He sought power, and so he attempted to steal the orb, the center of Akari strength and magic."
"And those monsters?"
"I do not know how he came across them or forced them to serve him. However, I do know that their hide is weak during their first few hours of 'life'. Over time, their skin cools and hardens until it is strong enough to block an arrow. To defeat them, you must catch them soon after they emerge from their portals, else you risk fighting nearly indestructible beasts."
"Wonderful," Leon muttered under his breath. "This just keeps getting better."
"Oh, I nearly forgot something."
"You don't need to open your mouth to speak to me. I can read your thoughts as though they were my own."
"That's a little creepy," Leon thought.
"I heard that."
It took Leon a little over an hour to get to the city, although most of it was navigating the unfamiliar roads and traffic. When he finally got into the main part of the city, he realized that he had no idea just how he was supposed to recruit people.
"Any ideas?" he asked the voice.
"Perhaps you should talk to some city guards? They might be willing to listen."
"You mean police officers?"
Leon rolled his eyes. "Great, I've got to kill a demon, get some helpers, and all while having to deal with a smartass voice in my head. Perfect, just perfect."
"That was slightly offensive."
After another half hour of driving, the traffic became more frantic and Leon saw people running in the streets.
"What's going on?" he wondered.
He pulled the truck over to a curb and got out. He grabbed one of the runners by the arm and asked, "What's going on? Why are you running?"
The man turned to him, eyes wide with fear. "Monsters, that's what happened!" He pointed in the direction of a shopping mall. "Like something out of a nightmare or a horror movie! They killed my best friend, and they would've killed me too if I didn't run!" With that the man wrenched his arm free of Leon's grip and sprinted away. Leon tightened his grip on the sword and pushed through the crowd.
As soon as he was free of the cluster, Leon ran straight into the mall. He saw two policemen crouched behind a fallen display, one of them talking feverishly into a walkie-talkie.
"You don't understand! We need backup, now! James and Charlie are both dead, and we're probably next!"
The other officer noticed Leon standing in the doorway, looking at them. "What're you doing here, kid?" he asked angrily. "You're going to get yourself killed in here!"
"You said you needed backup," Leon said. "One person is better than no one at all, right?"
"You're what, fifteen, sixteen? We lost trained officers to those things! You wouldn't stand a chance!" As he said this, a small beast crawled onto the display and bared its teeth, preparing to pounce on the man.
"Look out!" shouted Leon, and he swung the sword as hard as he could, cleaving the monster in half. The two halves fell to the floor, blood pooling around them.
The policeman was shocked for a second, but quickly regained his composure. "Thanks," he muttered. "But it's dangerous, kid. You should leave this to us."
"You're not the only ones who lost friends to these things. I'm helping, whether you like it or not."
The man sighed, but he said no more. He poked his head over the display and saw a mass of beasts charging towards them. "They must have sent that little one to soften us up," he said. "Now they're all gunning for us." He drew his police pistol and fired twice, taking down two of the beasts. The rest did not waver, they only rushed in faster.
In seconds, the monsters were upon them. Leon swung his sword madly, slicing off limbs and blocking strikes. The policemen fired a few bullets, but for the most part they beat them back with batons. They made a large dent in the mass of beasts, but it wasn't long before one monster got lucky and stabbed the officer who had been asking for backup. The blade entered through the man's throat and exited through his head. The man's partner killed the beast by smashing its skull.
The monsters retreated to the entrance, screeching and banging their weapons on the ground, as they blocked the only way out. Leon was scratched and bruised in several places, but he hadn't sustained any serious wounds. The policeman had a long scratch above his right eye and several on his arms, but he looked like he could still fight.
"Damn it, they killed Frank. He's been my partner for three years, now."
"I'm sorry," Leon said.
"Don't be. There are much worse ways to die. How many more of them do you think there are?"
"At least twenty."
"We'll have to get rid of them all. There's no way we could escape, not with them blocking the door like that. We should try to-"
The man stopped suddenly and fell to his knees. He coughed once, and then fell face-down on the floor. A hatchet was stuck in his back, and a large monster screeched its triumph. It pulled the axe out of the body and swung at Leo in a savage vertical stroke. Leon sidestepped to the right and plunged his blade into its heart, almost before he knew what was happening. The monster fell onto its back, and the others charged forward.
Their attack had no strategy; just a straightforward rush. The Akari that inhabited Leon's brain knew the attack well, and just how to counter it. He backed into a small corner where only one could get at him at once and stabbed out whenever one tried to attack. This method took a lot of time, but it was effective nonetheless.
When they all lay dead, Leon walked over to the policemen. He took one man's pistol and searched them both for spare ammunition. He found a total of thirty bullets on them and stored them in his belt. He also took their belts and holsters. He put both belts on at once so that one holster was on either side. His sword fit neatly into the holster on his left, and the pistol on his right.
When his work was done, Leon could think of no way to honor the men, so he simply left them there.
"What should I do now?" he asked the voice.
"Try searching the rest of the building for anything useful. You should make sure you are prepared for the inevitable chaos ahead."
Leon set his jaw and started to walk into the main part of the mall.
Yeah, I know this really doesn't make up for the huge delay between chapters. I haven't got much free time, and what I do have is usually wasted on video games. That, and the fact that I'm really, really lazy.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Please remember that I love criticism, so if you could help point out what I'm doing wrong, I'd really appreciate it. Later!