Marcus shot off repeated rounds as he took down demons in front of him. He was fast and meticulous. The majority of them seem to appear from the right and the front, which Marcus quickly took care off. Meanwhile, I took the ones on the left and the back. My shots were quick and steady. They had improved by quite a large margin compared to before, which made me quite pleased that my training finally bearing some fruit.
It wasn’t easy moving quickly from one demon to the other. They weren’t running straight at me like some kind of zombie, most of them materialized out of thin air, which is enough to startle anyone.
Worst of all, I didn’t know where they were going to come from, making it that much more difficult. They had a horrible knack of materializing way too close, almost to the point of touching my arms.
“Demons are teleporting in!” I shouted, shooting at the nearest Demon three times, and I dodged to the right. The demon spazzed out as the magical bullet completely killed it.
“They’re not teleporting, they’re materializing after they camouflaged!” Marcus’s
gunshots continued went off.
I felt danger behind me, my elbow backhanded against the demon that suddenly showed up, knocking it out in one hit. Spinning around, I saw the demon on the floor sprawled out. The gun quickly pointed downwards, and two more shots range out, hitting it on the chest.
The demon spazzed out as if it was going into shock. It wasn’t pleasant to see, but I hardened myself and quickly scanned around for more.
It was all instinct that was all I could say as my body moved in unexpected angles, allowing me to dodge quite a few deadly attacks. It’s true, while I could use the Dragon Scale Armor to protect me, there was a catch. Crystal stated that there were at least ten times of deadly attacks it can thwart before dysfunctioning, and right now I wasn’t keen on breaking it anytime soon. Who knew what could be crawling around here; there were any number of demons that could surpass the power of an Adult Type Demon.
Plus, getting use to dodging and parrying was something I needed to work on fast. I didn’t want to count on the Dragon Scale for the rest of my life. The possible thought of not having it on one day does cross my mind, and I wanted to be ready for those days.
“Clear, on my end.” Marcus had his gun pointing forward, scanning around for possibly more.
“Same.” I replied, although the darkness made it difficult to make sure that nobody was present. I had to scan the room with the flashlight on the gun to make sure we didn’t miss a single one.
“Good.” Marcus replied, he hurried off into the next room.
I turned around one more time, taking a hard look around me. Then, I followed after Marcus, watching for any unsuspecting movements that caught my eyes.
From what I could see, the second room was clear, allowing us to quickly move towards the third and the fourth. Each one of them was unusually clear, giving us a chance to move through without any problems.
Eventually, we came upon a fifth room. The entrance was totally different, making both of us stare at it with complete dismay. It was as if an unknown force was trying to force us back.
Hanging from the half broken door were small, shriveled up heads that you would find in Peru. There wasn’t just one or two, but ten each strung up like a bead. Each of their heads were small, and dyed black with their eyes and lips sewn shut. Some had piercings in their nose, while others had quite an exotic, fluffed up piece of hair or were braided. Even if they weren’t looking at me, it still gave me the shivers. Whoever did this probably knew how to make these shrunken heads and from the smell of it, it was real.
“Who in the… never mind. I shouldn’t have even asked.” Marcus was disgusted at the shrunken head before him.
“They were quite popular in the past. The Jivoran Tribe would trade these shrunken heads for guns.” I replied, remembering information about them that I didn’t expect to come popping out in my head. There was a time when I did read about it, but to suddenly remember it now was a bit unexpected. “The tourist would buy them up. One gun for one head.”
“Are you serious?” Marcus looked at me funny, thinking I was making it up.
“Yea, it wasn’t just guns, also gold.” I replied, taking slow steps towards the door. “There was a mass of head hunting during those days.”
“Human life is quite cheap, isn’t it.” Marcus grunted, he walked forward, guns drawn. As he passed under the mass of shrunken heads, the heads started to cackle with life as if they were laughing.
“What the hell?!” Marcus took a couple more steps forward, turned towards the laughing heads and shot one.
The shrunken head exploded outwards, leaving behind a puff of smoke and sand. Marcus coughed as he shook his hand in front of him to clear the air.
“You alright?” I asked, wearily watching the laughing shrunken heads. The thought of going under it made me feel like I’ll get cursed if I wasn’t careful.
“Yea.” Marcus replied. “They’re harmless, let’s get moving.”
“Gotcha.” I slowly agreed, not sure if I should take what he said into consideration. Taking a step forward, I stopped and glanced up. The laughing heads continually moved up and down, with some even swung side-to-side while it twirled around. Just being near these creepy heads weren’t something I would’ve ever expected to see down here. From the looks of it, they were all female heads.
I gulped. Female heads. Thinking over it one more time, then it hit me. “Marcus.” I called out in a whisper. “Marcus.”
“Yea?” Marcus was halfway through the room as he looked over his shoulders towards me.
“They’re all females.” I replied, staring at him.
“What Simon said was right.”
“Simon. He said they killed the women.” I hurriedly replied, moving quickly away from the shrunken head that was still shaking, until finally one of them had their sewed lips wide opened.
“Please!” A woman’s voice sent out a shrill like voice. “Please! Save me!”
I froze as my eyes became as wide as dinner plates. I just couldn’t believed the shrunken head just talked, something like that wasn’t possible. This isn’t real, it has to be that the Demons were playing some kind of trick on us and casting some kind of illusion magic or something.
More and more of the shrunken head’s lips were undone and torrent of voices of different females spoke.
“Help! They’re going to kill me!”
“Oh my god. Oh my god. Where am I? Why can’t I see?”
“No. No. No. No. No. This isn’t possible. This is all a dream. Yea. A dream.”
“What’s going on? Please, is anyone out there?”
Both Marcus and I froze at the sight of the shrunken heads throwing a tantrum. They were making quite a bit of noise, as one suddenly one of them screamed so loud it sounded like nails running down a chalk board.
I leaned backwards, bringing up my hand to cover my ears. The pain from her scream made my head throb, making me feel like I was hit with a sledgehammer.
Marcus grunted in pain, he raised up his gun and shot each and every one of the heads, until they finally went silent. I let out a pained breath of relief and stared angrily at the shrunken head. Whoever thought of collecting shrunken heads like that was sick.
“My head.” Marcus groaned, he rubbed his head with his hand. “What kind of sick bastard had to create such abominations?”
“That’s a question you and I both want to know.” I replied. Rolling my shoulder, I stretched a bit. “I hope there isn’t anymore of those.”
We started to walk again, and when I finally looked around, I was taken aback. It felt like I was in some kind of ritual. One whole wall was lined in black, green, and brown paint. There were decorated with foreign words that I didn’t even understand with symbols that I could barely decipher. A couple of stars were painted here and there, maybe even what look liked latin words, and pictures of stick figures that looked like they were decapitating a head.
They were even old, bloodied handprints all over the wall and even the surrounding wall, as if someone was attempting to get out. The handprints were mostly centered around the altar, giving it an eerie feeling. Quite a few more shrunken heads dangled up from the wall where the giant head of a deer with majestic antlers were placed. Even the tips of its horn looked like they were some kind of fresh meat stabbed into its horn, hanging up there to dry out, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t wanted to find out.
Underneath all that crazy mess was a long table on top of a colorful rug that didn’t fit with the whole scene itself. Black and red candles were lit, animal skulls, dried up plants, large and small shells, and even crystals were scattered all over the table. Underneath the table was an even smaller table with a multiple metallic bowl and three black candles surrounding it.
Walking over, I peeked to see what it was and suddenly I was swamped with a pungent smell of rotting blood. I held in a gasp, knowing full well that was blood, and from my guess it was human.
“Is someone being sacrificed?” I joked halfheartedly.
“I don’t know, but don’t touch anything.” Marcus replied, turning away from the altar and going through the first open door to the left away from where we came from.
“I’m already a step ahead of you on that.” I grunted to myself, there was no way I was touching something like that. Who knows, maybe I could possibly become cursed for touching something that I shouldn’t. If demons were real, why not curses?
When I turned around, ready to follow Marcus, I was face-to-face with a demon, hiding in the dark shadows opposite side of me. It wasn’t like any of the other demons that we had come upon throughout this mission.
The demon’s body was lanky and long. He was wearing a black co-tailored suit, letting the end flow behind him with a nice matching black dress shoes. A pale face stared back at me with heavy bags under its eyes, wearing a top hat. Its head was partially wrapped in gauze, only showing half of its face. There was no way I could tell if it had pupils or not, honestly it looked like they were just black empty holes in his head. His hands was neatly folded behind him, staring at me with a sinister intent.
“Another one graced our presence.” The voice was low and raspy, making me have goosebumps.
“Who the hell are you?” I suddenly spoke. The swell of energy around this demon didn’t compare to the other demons that I had met. A sinister evil pervading energy wafted through the air, bringing with it the same smell of decay and death from the bowl.
“Interesting.” The demon said, the end of its lips curled upwards. “Truly fascinating that a creature like you exists.”
“I asked who the hell are you!” I replied, getting annoyed that this demon wasn’t answering my questions, but at the same time trying to cover up my fear.
“Alexus? What the hell is going on over there?” Marcus called out towards me, I could hear him shuffling around in the back.
“I got a demon here.” I called out, aiming my gun straight at the demon in front of me.
“Kill it!” Marcus replied.
“With pleasure.” I pulled the trigger as the bullet went flying towards him. Each of the bullets ended up embedded in his chest as magical sigil formed around him, but suddenly the wound started to close and the sigil faded away as if it wasn’t there in the first place. I stared at him with disbelief, I knew that enchanted bullets were supposed to harm demons not absorbed as if it was candy.
The demon chuckled, snickering at my foolish act. He then took a step forward, making me unconsciously take one back. “How many are you guys are here? Three? Four? Five?” He tilted his head curiously staring at me.
I could hear the crackling sound of bone popping into place, making me wince.
“No. It seems there is only one.”
“What are you talking about? There’s not just one of us?!” I shouted back, glaring at the demon straight in the face.
The demon clucked its teeth, and shook its head. “No. I’m right. There is only one of you here….and that’s you.”
I felt a shiver when he said the word you. It made me feel like what he said was absolutely true.
“I’m not alone.” I fired off another bullet, this time I hit it in the face as many time as I felt like it until I felt satisfied.
Even still, the bullet holes and magical sigils just disappeared like nothing has happened, leaving behind a clean face. I was stunned, clicking back the gun back near my ankle, this time I drew my sword from my leg. If shooting him didn’t work, I was sure that fighting him head on with my blade would do the trick.
“Kuhuhuhuhhahahaha!” The demon threw back his head, laughing at my display of power. It’s hand drew back, tilting its hat forward.
I didn’t understand what was so funny. It made me a bit self concious of what weapon I was going to use. Without thinking, before the demon could retaliate. I rushed forward.
With a swing of my blade, I striked.
The demon dodged effortlessly out of the way with just a couple of steps. I continued attacking, each step and swing faster the next. Even still, the demon didn’t even seem phased at the attack that I was giving.
I wasn’t done yet, I willed up my magical power, fueling the Dragon Scale itself. Mechanical wheels clinked into place as vents opened up on my leg and hand. The swing became ten times faster and more powerful, making the attack almost invisible to the human eye. At the last minute, he raised his two fingers, catching my blade.
I was shocked. For a demon to catch the swing so effortlessly, especially a blow that was empowered by the Dragon Scale was mind blowingly worrisome. This was something that I definitely needed to tell to Crystal, especially if they was a demon who could be even faster than me. Even moving the blade was impossible, making this whole encounter surreal.
“Who are you?” I asked, staring at the demon who clashed against me. His head leaned over as his lips went up into a curl.
Hot rotten breath exude out of his mouth as he spoke. “It’s time to wake up, Alexus Tyger.” An evil chuckle resounded in my ears. The words he said made me flinch backwards, I didn’t understand what he meant or how he knew my name.
“Who told you my name?!” I shouted, pushing away from him with a vicious stomp kick that separated us apart. “Who are you?!”
The demon cringed forward from the painful stomp, he coughed a couple of times before he cleared his mouth with his arm. Slowly straightening himself up, he cracked his neck twice. A deep sigh escaped his lips, shaking his head side-to-side as if I was stupid.
“Where I got your name is not your concern,” said the demon casually. He then rolled his shoulder once as he straightened his jacket. “All you need to know is my name.”
My hands tightened around my blade, furrowing my eyebrow in front of me as I watched carefully. Something about this demon was unusually refined, honestly he seemed the type who didn’t even wanted to fight. The casual and calmness that the demon had was unnatural, almost as if any moment now the demon would spring up into action to attack.
It made me even more on edge, because I didn’t know exactly what he would do next. Would he continue fighting, talking, or would he run away? The thought of him running away was a possibility, maybe because he just didn’t wanted to fight. Though, for a demon, he sure did like to hear himself talk. I thought all demons were bent on fighting or trying to kill us on sight if they found out what we were.
“That is?” I asked.
“Naz.” Naz pulled of his hat and bowed elegantly before me. Then he straightened back up, and put back his top hat with a smile.
“What do you want? Why are you even here?”
“That is a good question, isn’t it?” said Naz. “What do I want? Let’s see.” He was thinking over what I had asked.
I on the other hand softly shuffled forward, leaning in to strike once again.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The demon spoke. “You wouldn’t be able to harm me.”
“We’ll see about that.” I dashed forward and in a blink of an eye, I was upon him. My sword came crashing down from the side, slicing his body in a diagonal line. But what was strange about that attack was that I didn’t feel any impact, making me confused.
Stepping backwards, I was surprised that the cut that I had made was healing.
“That’s not possible.” I replied, taking another swing. Once again, the wound healed up.
“I told you.” The demon sighed, shaking his head at me like I was some kind of child. Upon closer inspection, I noticed at he had no exact physical form in this world. He was moving in and out in rapid pace between two worlds naturally.
“How?” I was flabbergasted, not sure what exactly to do.
“Easy you see. I’m a demon.” Naz arrogantly stated.”I was just walking by and found this lovely place. I thought I would come here and show my presence.” He was enjoying me squirm under his intense gaze.
“But why me?”
“You?” Naz snorted, waving his hand in front of him. “I didn’t just come here for you.” He said in a prideful manner.
“Then the others?”
“Like I said, You are the only ‘living’ one here. Think of it like this, this is all just a dream. A lovely place where the so called Ouroboros like you exist.”
“I am no dream.” The thought of being called a fake didn’t sit too well with me.
Naz chuckled as if he knew something that I didn’t. “You don’t get it, do you?”
“That all you see in front of you is an illusion.”
I couldn’t help but think this demon was either an idiot or I was not quite getting what he was saying. They were others here with me, even if we weren’t in the same room. Either way, I didn’t have time to play along with this demon. Jones needed my help and dilly dallying here wasn’t going to cut it.
“Don’t worry about him.” Naz spoke as if he read my mind.
“He’s not real.”
“Okay, this is getting old fast. My friends are real and you’re just trying to trick me. Now get out of my way.”
“With pleasure.” Naz stepped away, actually letting me through. I was taken aback at how easy that was that I was immediately suspicious. Demon’s don’t just let their prey through without a catch. “Go on, I’m not going to bite.” He snapped his pearly white teeth that seemed so out of place with his whole appearance.
I hesitated, not quite sure what to do. Shaking my head, I cleared my thoughts and steeled myself. They was no way I was going to leave Jones out there to fend for himself, and right now I either needed to kill Naz or just run for it. The strange thing was, I didn’t even hear Marcus shooting or fighting against any demon’s in the other room. It made me wonder what was really going on.
Naz once again replied. “Alexus Tyger. It’s time to wake up from your dream.” He laughed evilly, giving me goosebump as he disappeared like smoke.