Chapter 5 – Acknowledgements
Yuto, Aleyah, and Aleyos arrived back at the village on their horses. They stopped at the front gate and took in everything that was in their line of sight. Bodies of fallen comrades, radical cultists, and deceived men, women and children lied on the ground. Blood was on the ground and on walls. The buildings themselves looked broken down and beaten as well. It truly looked like a massacre had recently took place. It might as well have been was the thought going through each of their minds.
"This way…" Yuto said softly. He was trying to hold his stomach in. After the fight against the rampager, seeing the aftermath took a heavy toll on his mind. Aleyos tried to ignore the bodies as they went pass them, while, Aleyah continued to stare.
It was not that she was too tough or heartless for a situation like this; she was just trying to figure out what led all these people to sacrifice themselves for an empty cause such as this. Was this the true light of humanity's greed? Or was this the result of humanity's need to try and find its faith in something that will ultimately fail you?
They went towards the stables and found Ren, Seth, and Captain Ramsey, the remaining soldiers from their unit. With them was one of the hooded men that the priest had with him. He was tied up against a post and sat the on floor.
When Aleyah, Aleyos, and Yuto got to them, they hopped off the horses and gave the reins to Ren who stood closest by the stable.
"Is this the only survivor?" Aleyah asked.
"He's the last one. How was everything on your end?" Ramsey replied.
"My team and I took care of the rampager. His soul was released from the relic."
Ramsey nodded, "Thank you Team Trinity." He looked over at the hooded cultist and grabbed him by the neck collar. He then lifted him up and pushed him back against the post.
"Your false savior is dead! Your false prophet is dead! You have no one left to depend on. Tell us if there are more of you and we may spare your life." Ramsey demanded with a firm voice.
The cultist chuckled, "I see…"
Seth, facing a wall with his arm reached out against it to stop him from falling, suddenly turned around. He had blood on his hands and some on his face. He rushed over to Ramsey and the cultist and pushed Ramsey to the side slightly.
"Seth!" Ramsey cried out.
Everyone looked at Seth as he had an assassin dagger forced against the cultist's throat. This did not faze him in anyway.
"Stop treating this like a damn joke. Tell us what you know!" He yelled.
There was silence for a few seconds but was soon broken by an outburst of laughter from the cultist. This only angered Seth even more and everyone could tell, even the cultist himself.
"We need him alive Seth. Take it easy." Ren said to calm him down.
"…Fine." He responded with. Soon after, he punched the man in the gut and the cultist stopped laughing. Instead he was in a bit of pain and started to gasp for air.
"Seth!" She shouted at him.
"He's alive!" He shouted back with anger.
Seth pulled the hood off the man and grabbed him by the neck. A scar was on his right cheek and went down to his neck. He had no hair just like the priest as well. He pushed him back against the post and stared straight into this deluded man's eyes. The cultist had no expression on his face. Instead, his eyes slowly moved over to Aleyah.
"I see…" He whispered.
Everyone's eyes shifted from Seth to the cultist. He was definitely hard to look at, but he was focused on Aleyah.
"What did you say?" Seth asked. He was probably the only person that properly heard the cultist, but he wanted the others to hear as well.
"I see…death." The cultist added on. This time everyone heard him loud enough. Their sight shifted from him to Aleyah this time. All Aleyah could do was stand idle and wait for the cultist to say more.
He then turned his head to look at Aleyos who stood closer to Ren and the horses.
"You are covered with death..." He said to Aleyos. Then he turned his head back at Aleyah, "But you…you are drenched with it." He grinned.
Aleyah's heart skipped a beat and her eyes widened. What he said brought her back to a place she did not want to revisit. In an instant, many dark memories came at her in a flash and she fell to the ground.
"Aleyah!" Yuto cried out her name and went to catch her. They were both on the ground together.
Aleyos walked over as well and checked on his sister. She was conscious, but her head felt hot. He knew what kind of thoughts were flowing in her brain at that moment. He starred at the cultist and this was the first time he has ever shown a look with killing intent behind it, but it swiftly faded away.
The cultist was laughing behind that grin. Seeing Aleyah in pain brought joy to his soul and both Yuto and Aleyos felt that. Even Ren and Ramsey felt sick to their stomach as this sick and twisted individual laughed at the broken girl.
Suddenly, the cultist gasped for air again and fell unconscious. It was Seth who punched him in the stomach as hard as he could. The cultist's body leaned forward against Seth's.
"Don't you ever make her feel like that." He whispered in the knockout guy's ear. Everyone was in shock. He turned back to Aleyah who continued to stay on the ground. Her brown hair blocked her eyes, so they could not tell if she was crying or not.
"Thank you, Nova user." He told her.
Aleyah looked up at him.
"You saved our lives. I owe you a big apology. You're not broken or insane…people like him are." He pointed to the cultist. "I am truly sorry."
Seth walked over to Aleyah and kneeled before her. He bowed his head, "Please forgive me!" He begged.
Once again, everyone was shock. They never expected this sort of action from Seth. Ren was kind of jealous, but she understood where Seth was coming from.
Aleyah was silent, however, not because she was embarrassed, but because she felt peace. This was the first time her and her team has ever saved people and although two of their comrades had fallen and a whole town of people had died, her team still saved at least one soul. She didn't know how to respond, but giving a reply was the right thing to do.
She stood up and held out her hand. He looked at it and grabbed it. Aleyah lifted him up and said, "You were right when you called me broken and I may be a bit insane, but I have learned to live with that. I know that I'm not perfect. Aleyos and Yuto aren't perfect; hell, all of us soul witches are far from perfect but…who isn't? What differs me from you is some ability, but that doesn't decide who we are. There's aura in all of us. The actions we take, with or without it, decides the person we are. If you didn't try to ask for help back then, we would all be dead right now…so thank you and I forgive you."
Yuto and Aleyos looked at each other and smiled. Ren looked away because her jealousy was taking over, but Ramsey was proud of the exchange of words both Seth and Aleyah had.
Aleyah had released his hand and did the Sentinel greeting. He did it back to her out of respect and acknowledgement.
"Can I give you some advice?" Aleyah asked him.
"Oh uh…yeah sure." He said scratching his head.
"If you want to apologize to a girl, make sure you don't bow in front of her while your crush is stood behind you." She smiled.
Both Seth and Ren's face turned red. They looked at each other and then turned away as if nothing happened. Everyone laughed except for the two of them and the unconscious cultist still tied to the wooden post.
Aleyos reached out his hand and the final snowflake landed on it. He looked up to the sky and saw the sun rising from the clouds. The blood red aura was gone and so were the dark clouds that brought the white snow.
"We should get going." Aleyos said.
"What are we to do with that guy?" Yuto asked, pointing to the cultist.
"We'll take him to Outpost Defiant with us and question him there." Ramsey responded.
They both nodded and helped tie the body to one of the horses. Ren and Seth attached the leads back to the horses and wagons, but they noticed that they had an extra horse. This horse had the cultist on its back. It wasn't brown like the other two, it was black and must've been at the stable before they arrived at the town.
"You think it belonged to the priest?" Ren asked.
"It might've been. Poor thing." Seth responded.
Aleyah went to the horse and brushed its mane. It took a liking to her doing that.
"It doesn't belong to anyone now, why don't you keep it?" Ramsey suggested.
"Oh…um, I don't know if I should." Aleyah stepped away from the horse. "I'm fine with just walking."
"If you don't want it, I'll have it." Seth stated.
He walked to it and when he got close enough, it raised its two front hoofs.
"Whoa!" Seth fell on his back trying not to get hit.
When the horse landed again, it ran away pass Aleyah and Ramsey and toward a figure near the fence. It was Sinclair Dewitt, the "Warlock" and she was petting the horse. Both Ren and Ramsey took out their swords ready for a fight.
"I'd prefer if young Aleyah kept her if you don't mind?" Sinclair said.
Both Ren and Ramsey were told to stand down by Aleyah. "Sinclair, I didn't think I would see you again."
"I felt the dark power disappear from this place, so I thought I'd look around."
Aleyah looked away from her slightly, "I'm sorry about what you saw."
She shook her head and brought the horse back to Aleyah. She passed her the rein. Coincidentally, this was the horse Aleyah was riding in the fight against Shai Zou Len. "This was not your fault. The priest soured their minds with false words and hidden nightmares."
Aleyah grabbed on to the rein and the horse walked over to her. She sneezed and Aleyah smiled as she started to pet her mane again.
"Her name is Calamity. She doesn't get along with many people, but there's something special about you Aleyah. I could feel it. That's how I really found you before and that's how I found you this time as well." Sinclair said.
"Calamity…" Aleyah whispered to the horse. The horse brushed her face against Aleyah's and she smiled.
"Oh!" Aleyah turned around and grabbed Aleyos and Yuto's hands. She brought them to Sinclair and introduced them to her as her brother and best friend.
Sinclair greeted them with grace and they greeted her the same.
"She's the one who warned me about the priest and told me to return to the town." Aleyah added as she introduced her. She then turned to Yuto, "Sinclair is also a Mythic user as well."
"Really?!" Yuto said excitingly. He was hoping she could teach him a couple of things she knew about the powers and mysteries of Mythic aura, but was then told that she carried a great burden.
The title of "Warlock" would be stuck with her and the only thing she warned Yuto about was to be weary of his own strength. Mythic was a stronger aura than he could ever imagine.
"What about you?" Aleyah asked. "Where are you headed now?"
"She could always come with us to Outpost Defiant. We'll keep her well fed and taken care of over there. Besides, we could use someone with her skill set as well." Ramsey suggested.
His offer was declined, "I things to take care of, but Aleyah, we will meet again." Sinclair walked away from the group and vanished in the trees.
Everyone stood there waiting for a command, but when the sunlight shined on them, they all looked up. It was bright and filled with hope. Each of them took in this moment for this was what they fought for. Humanity was fighting for another day under the sun's light.
Ren and Seth got on the horses that had the wagons attached to them. Ramsey stayed on foot and walked in front. Behind the cargo was Aleyos and Yuto beside Aleyah riding her new horse Calamity.
When they arrived at the outpost, it was midday. They delivered the weapons and armor to the colonel that was stationed there.
"We really appreciate you guys coming out here this far from the stronghold. I'm sorry you three had to experience that kind of situation on the way here." The Colonel said.
He watched as his men took the cultist, who was now awake, to the integration cell. He then looked back at the strike team before him. Ren, Seth, and Ramsey were further inside the compound helping other people unpack the shipment and put them in storage.
"It was bound to happen sooner or later." Aleyos responded.
"I'm just glad we survived it all." Yuto added. He stretched his arms and looked over at Aleyah. She was standing still looking down at the ground. "Hey Aleyah, are you alrig-"
His sentence was cut short when he saw her fall to the ground. Both Aleyos and Yuto shouted her name while the colonel ordered for a medic team to come and retrieve her.
At first, they believed Sinclair had cursed Aleyah by giving her the horse, but because of their link, Yuto and Aleyos felt Aleyah's aura nearly depleted. She had used more than what she had against the rampager and still tried to show a strong attitude.
The medic team picked up Aleyah's body and took her to the incubating chamber. This chamber was for soul witches whom have lost a tremendous amount of aura and needed to replenish from rest. When Aleyah entered it, Yuto and Aleyos heard her breathe. She was sound asleep.