Chapter 4 – ‘A Piece of Panic’
Despite his protests, Levy succeeded in getting him to eat with her. He decided on a simple hamburger, while she picked up a sandwich and some candies that were being sold. Judging by her gaze focused on the candy, it looked like she wanted to eat them all right then but was holding herself back.
“Hmm? What’s wrong?” Her black hair, worn in a braid that continued down to her waist, shifted slightly along her shoulder as she looked at him with her green eyes. “Is something wrong with the hamburger?”
He’d heard something coming from the road next to the cafeteria. It sounded like a lot of students shouting at each other.
He thought to himself, “A commotion this early? That’s unusual…”
“No, I’m fine with them.”
He deliberately took a bite to placate her; after all, he still didn’t feel that hungry. The hamburger tasted good, though the lettuce had definitely already wilted. She smiled, popping a round green candy into her mouth. She ignored the sandwich.
“That exam earlier really was hard, though! I’ll be happy with even a B grade on it.” She sucked on the candy furiously. “I don’t know how you did it,” she began, but after a moment of silence, “… Well, whatever!” Her expression changed as though putting it aside entirely, her lips forming a smile.
All Aden could do was laugh slightly, he was still trying to avoid that subject.
Just then the shouts increased. He heard a scream as well.
This time, Levy noticed it as well, “What’s going on? I wonder if something happened?”
“HELP! Call the medics, quick!”
Someone ran by cafeteria since on his way to the closest staff building.
He realized just then, “He came from the martial arts building!”
Given the day’s events, how could he not expect the worst?
Standing up, he hurriedly apologized, “Sorry, Levy! I’ll be back in a moment!”
He got up from the table and ran towards where David was at full speed.
“H, hey! Wait up for me!”
She grabbed the hard candies she’d bought and got up, following him at a run as well. Although she wasn’t out of shape by any means, for some reason she couldn’t keep up to him at all. It was as if he was a bullet. He was still accelerating before reaching the building.
If he were being timed by someone right now, they would faint from his speed. He ran the approximately two hundred meters in less than fifteen seconds.
She was shocked, “So fast!”
Dashing into the building, he pushed his way through the crowd that formed in the hall to see what happened. After weaving through quite a few students, he finally arrived and saw what everyone gathered for.
In the center of the large practice hall filled with training equipment, in the sparring ring.
It was David.
“Huh? What the…”
His dobok, the traditional outfit for taekwondo practitioners, was torn from the knees down. That wasn’t the surprising part, though. Aden saw his legs.
They were pitch black and glossy, like obsidian!
David was panting heavily with a shocked look on his face and was otherwise unmoving, as though he stopped in place the moment he realized what had happened.
In front of David was what seemed to be his sparring partner, a young boy one or two years their senior, on the floor clutching his chest. A rib could be seen poking through the skin near his heart and the surrounding area collapsed towards the lung. He was having extreme difficulty breathing, with blood covering his dobok and pooling on the floor. Amongst the panic, a few students had apparently rushed to get emergency supplies from nearby until help came. Others were shouting incomprehensible words towards David and his legs.
The student on the ground suddenly stopped gripping his side, his arms collapsed to the side, and he stopped moving altogether.
David was still standing there, his legs gradually returning to a more human coloring.
Aden didn’t know what to do. This scene shattered his carefully constructed barricade against the events from earlier. He stumbled forward, grabbing David’s shoulder to get his attention while he did all he could to remain calm.
Shocked out of his daze, David slowly turned his head. His eyes were unfocused, his voice cracking, “A, Aden… I… I… d, didn’t…” Tears had welled up in his eyes.
While David stuttered out those words, Aden heard a small gasp from behind. At some point, Levy had arrived and stood next to him, lightly gripping the edge of his shirt as she saw the gruesome scene in the middle of the ring. He ignored her.
Rather, he didn’t have a chance to react to her.
His heart beat loudly in his chest, his pulse beating faster and more intensely than last time. Every time it thumped, the world around him slowed down more and more.
Unbeknownst to him, the fox from before stood nearby watching him with her golden eyes focused on him; becoming increasingly less ethereal as Aden’s heart beat on.
Fire hot enough to melt rock. Ice cold enough to shatter iron. The same sensation from this morning engulfed Aden’s entire existence. He knew nothing outside of the war raging inside his body.
The agony spread from his chest.
First his legs, then his arms. When it reached his head—
His consciousness flew away.
Hellfire, frozen wastes.
An eternity of torture.
Suddenly, it stopped. All at once, everything shattered.
He saw a man. Raggedly dressed, an unkempt beard, struggled breathing and reciting a name to himself over and over. The hood of his blackened, torn cloak covered his face.
“Elena… Elena… Elena… My dear Elena…”
Droplets—tears?—fell from his face towards the ground. He was on his knees, holding two fingers against the stone floor as blue streaks were left where they passed over.
The man looked towards where Aden was. At least, where Aden was viewing from.
His eyes were clouded, almost entirely white. He tried to smile at Aden, but it seemed as though seeing Aden’s face threw his heart further into despair.
“You have her eyes…”
Blue light surrounded him, and his body seemed to fill the room. He felt warm. Somehow, impossibly, he felt himself become many balls of fire.
His voice shook weakly.
“At last, I’ve fulfilled my oath to her…”
The man collapsed.
With this, Aden blacked out.
He felt people holding his hands. While his body felt like it had just rested for days, his mind was on the verge of collapsing from stress. Opening his eyes weakly, he saw the ashen-faced David and teared up Levy hovering above him.
Looking around slightly, he saw trees. He was laying on thick grass. He tried to sit up, but something stopped him.
It was the voice of someone that shouldn’t exist.
“Welcome back, Master.”