Dantega:Volume 3 Chapter 11
"Um... the map says that the Gate is only a day away..." Strauphius awkwardly points out.
He is behaving cautiously due the happenings with Mammon two days ago, the subject has yet to be properly addressed so he has been stepping on eggshells ever since.
He and the group are now resting around a campfire for the night in a seemingly endless hilly grassland.
They are all disheartened by the death of Niomyo; all of them feel bad but Trojia is devastated. Ever since her beloved guard died she has yet to say even a word, she just follows the rest quietly and emotionless, and her grieving has sapped the energy of the rest of the group.
"Good, we'll leave as soon as the sun rises." replied Napoleon.
Taking the loss of his comrade has been hard on him as well, but he has had the unfortunate disposition of losing many comrades in the past, he’s able to compartmentalize it much better than the others. If no one else here can be composed enough to think ahead to the future, he feels that he must take the helm of pushing them forward.
Ubica is sitting next to Trojia and cannot seem to find anything to say to her, every time he tries he stops himself in fear of making her feel worse.
Daey notices this and wonders why he’s struggling so hard to try and help her through this.
She breaks the silence of the group and asks, "Hey Ubica, can I talk to you for a moment?"
Ubica looks to the rest of the group who aren't paying any mind to much of anything at all, he then looks to Trojia, who is zoning out at the fire and glaring aimlessly into the light.
He turns away with a troubled expression and says, "Sure..."
The two leave the camp and head out over a hill on the moonlit grassland, now about a couple hundred yards away and out of earshot they start to speak.
"So what is it you want to talk about?" Ubica asks.
"Is there a reason why you’re not trying to help Trojia cope with Niomyo’s death?"
He walks to a little pond that rests a few feet away and takes a seat on it's bank. "I’m not so sure I know how to do that."
"I don’t think it’s something you need to put a lot of thought into, you were able to help me with my loss after all."
Ubica leans back and rests his head on his hands.
"But this time, I really feel like it’s my fault that this happened."
He feels guilty for attracting the danger that brought upon her death, the more and more he thinks about it the more he agonizes over the fact that his presence with them has them under constant threat of annihilation.
He sighs and looks troubled when he says, "Rudo died because of me as well, I’m struggling to even look you all in the face because of it, what right do I have to try and cheer her up?"
"Don't you dare think like that."
"But it's true, the ghosts of my past won’t stop chasing after me, so long as I’m with you all you’ll never be safe."
Daey leans down and pinches his cheek while saying, "How are they more your enemies than ours? Their goal is to keep us from getting home, so they'd be after us whether you are here or not."
Ubica reveals a strained smile and shifts his gaze away. "I wouldn’t be so sure about that anymore.”
"Listen, Ubica… there's no way that we'd be able to handle this whole situation without you, and there’s no way we’d turn our backs on our friend just for the hope that we may be a little safer. Don’t beat yourself up over things out of your control and realize that we need you here… realize that we want you here, no matter what."
They stare at each other for a moment until Ubica's eyes start to water a little, he smiles and turns on his side, attempting to hide such an embarrassing expression.
Daey takes a seat next to him and she looks up to stargaze, the lights of the night sky are truly breathtaking as there are so many different colors that it looks like someone threw luminescent paint on a pure black canvas.
With a gentile smile, she teases, “There there, don’t cry.”
“I-I’m not crying!”
She giggles at how easily flustered he is at times, and then finds herself zoning out on his back.
“Tell me something…” she says softly, “these ghosts of your past, can’t you tell me why they are chasing you?”
Ubica keeps his back to her, and stays silent momentarily, Daey can sense his guard being put up the moment she asked that, but to her surprise his guard breaks and he answers,
“It’s what I truly am, it’s what gives me life, but it’s what will take it away if I’m not careful.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s hard to explain, but a long time ago the person I am now didn’t exist, I was simply the living embodiment of the evil power Dantega. Back then I did so many terrible things, I made myself the enemy of the world.”
Ubica seems to struggle to tell her this, but at the same time Daey can feel a sense of relief coming from him, it’s as though a weight is being lifted off of his chest as he talks.
“These enemies of mine couldn’t defeat me, so instead they sealed me in a place where Dantega would slowly get eaten away until nothing was left. But I escaped and returned as the person you see in front of you, no longer consumed by my power I am able to make friends and share moments of happiness alongside you and the others; because of this my enemies think I’m weaker, they want to destroy me while they have the chance before my powers return again.”
Daey is very surprised, not so much about his past but about how he felt comfortable enough to finally reveal himself to her. It has seemed this has always been kept a secret from the group, and by him telling her this it begins to answer a lot of lingering questions.
“I see… does anyone else know about this?”
“The night Niomyo died, Tsubiri had caught a glimpse of it. But i haven’t told anyone yet.”
Daey smiles, “I’m glad you trust me enough to tell me more about yourself.”
“Well, as much as I fear being rejected for what I am, I wouldn’t be a good friend if I kept everything from you… It’s only right that you know why Rudo and Nyomio fell victim to my past trying to hunt me down.”
She puts her hand on his shoulder, prompting him to look up to her. Daey is still smiling, but to him this smile seems more accepting and her delicate touch sends a series of warmth pulsating from within the deepest part of his body.
“We’ll face it together with their memories in our hearts. And we’ll get home because they fought for us, and because you fought against your past. So go on and comfort Trojia, she needs to know that you’ll still be there no matter what.“
“Can I ask you something?” Ubica said, staring up at her with a look of bewilderment.
“As a princess, how did you turn out to be such a good person?? You’re so kind!”
“Eh? No it’s nothing like that! Also, Messor said the same thing last week, just what is it you’re making me out to be??”
“A fairy maybe? A benevolent forest spirit? You’re definitely something magical, if Messor said that about you that’s proof enough!”
Ubica starts rattling off sweet comparisons as though he were naming different types of sugary candy, prompting Daey’s face to flush red in embarrassment.
“An angel! No, you’re actually christ like! Are you a reincarnation!?”
“Stop it already you’re being stupid!”
“But it’s true! You’re just like him!”
"Hahahah I'm getting closer to you Pilate!" Phoenix shouts as he watches the discs chase the limber Pontius.
Not an ounce of panic can be seen on Pilate's face as he dodges the dangers; he avoids one more disc and begins to speak, "Running around doesn't suit me... I think it's time I make my offensive."
Pontius leaps off a rock and lands only a few feet away Phoenix, he looks at him with his statue-like eyes and spreads his arms. Standing there like that makes him a sitting duck, and by the looks of it he is doing so intentionally, the three discs hit him simultaneously and explode.
"...Papa..?" Sora asks while looking up at the scraggly old man.
Aria doesn't answer but instead grabs at Achilles’ legs with her shaking hands.
"W-Wake up... Wake up."
No answer comes and she is left with a sickening feeling in her stomach; she nudges at him roughly but to no avail.
Sora pulls her off him and gestures her to lean down, with her usual straight face she says, "...Boost..."
Aria sniffles her nose and kneels to give Sora a lift up, Sora stands on Aria's knee and is head high to the crucified Achille. She puts her two fingers on his neck to check his pulse, after holding it for a few seconds she jumps off Aria's knees and stares at her.
Because of her unaffected appearance, Aria can't help but be nervous, her face is asking the question her voice can't and Sora sees it.
Aria takes a huge sigh of relief inhales sharply when Sora adds,
It would seem that Achille is on the brink of death, crucifixion is one of the most brutal forms of torture; when the feet are nailed into the wood, the legs of the victim are originally set up to be bent and the knees.
The reason for this is because it puts an immense pressure on the region between the organs of the waist and the organs of the chest, and this results in the pressing of the lungs. The cause and effect of said pressure causes breathing to be near impossible, so the body's natural reaction to asphyxiation is to stand to relieve the lungs, but this turns into a painfully horrible task when the entire weight of the body is put on the nails that are impaling the feet.
Aria squeezes her hand in determination and punches the base of the cross, the wood lightly explodes and like a falling tree it tips over. Both of them grab the falling object before it hits the ground and they let it down softly.
With her index finger, Aria touches each of the nails that connect him to the cross and they all explode upwards into the air like a rocket from a launch pad.
What she did was direct her ability to the bottom tip of the nails, turning the bent part into an explosive allowing the energy emitted from it to propel to the other side and send the whole thing flying.
Now off the cross, Achille's breathing becomes a little more consistent.
"Is there any way we can wake him up?"
"Should I use CPR!?" Aria shouts.
Sora looks down at the raggedy face of Achille and turns back to her.
Fearing being grossed out she answers with a firm, "...No..."
It's also true that it wouldn't help, with the lungs naturally starting to function properly, blowing unnecessary air into them would do more harm than good.
"...Water..." she says, and removes the canteen strapped onto her belt and hands it to Aria.
Aria opens Achille's mouth and drops water into his dried throat; he instinctively swallows and coughs as a result of not having any form of liquid enter his throat for quite some time.
He opens his eyes and through his blurred vision he sees two girls standing over him, the one he immediately recognizes has a big smile on her excited face.
With the first words he's spoken in a long while, he raspily says,
"I think that might have been the worst offensive I've ever seen." Phoenix said with a slight laugh.
Rage walks to his side and addresses him. "Do you understand what you have just done?"
"Of course I do, I killed him."
"That's not what I'm talking about! Do you not realize that you have now corrupted yourself!?"
Phoenix retracts his flames back into his cloth and tosses it over his shoulder, he smiles and says, "Corrupted… I’m long past the point of corruption."
"What are you saying?"
A cold sweat rolls down Rage's temple.
The person in front of him is the Messiah, how could he seek out revenge like a regular person like this?
Before Phoenix can explain any further, they are interrupted by the sight of Pontius standing there unscathed from within the passing smoke and dust.
"How!?" Phoenix queries.
Pontius remains calm when he explains, "You said that your flames burn its target until the evil is no more." He spreads his arm and finishes, "If the target has no evil, then it cannot burn. I believe you have misjudged me Jesus."
Phoenix's eyes are so large that the color of them can hardly be seen, he tries his best to make sense of the situation and shouts, "Then you should be dead!"
"I am a man of honor who has lived only for God's will. Should a man like that be burnt by you? "
"Don’t fuck with me!!!" Phoenix shouts as he slams his foot into the ground. "Your right arm burned did it not!?"
Pontius looks at his amputated arm and says a quote that he has already spoken before.
"Behold the man..."
He points his nub of an arm out toward the two and continues, "This was the only part of me that was evil... it was the arm that presented you to your true executioners afterall. I guess I should thank you for ridding me of it.”
Phoenix frowns and becomes enraged with a feeling that should never be inside the body of a man like him; he folds his arms and he grits his teeth as hard as possible.
From his back comes massive wings of purple, red, orange and yellow flame. The blaze grows so fast that within an instant it has more than a hundred foot wingspan. The wings flap and Phoenix floats into the air like a bird, the heat from the wind of the flames char the ground.
Once in the air his whole body gets surrounded by fire and the heat exuded from his words causes the skin of Pontius to crisp.
Phoenix laughs aloud and frowns with wide grin,
"This unique feeling is brand new to me… I can finally feel true anger."
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