“Marcus!” Alexus shouted hurriedly, stumbling forward from bumping into a chair. “Marcus!”
There was no answer, only silence, which made Alexus feel even more alone.
Curse words rang through his head as he searched for any hint or clue that he wasn’t alone. He hoped to dear god that what Naz said was a lie, but every second that Marcus didn’t answer, the more he started to panic. He knew that demons told lies just to get in his head, but it wasn’t easy to believe when things quickly became true.
“Jones! Marcus! Timothy!” Alexus raised his radio, calling them. Only static answered m=him back.
“You gotta be kiddin’ me!” Alexus cursed some more for falling into a simple trap of a mind game, but it was eating at him fast. He could not just forget so easily and brush it aside anymore, especially since he was panicking.
Trying hard to calm Alexus’s nerves, he breathed in and attempted to think straight. Naz was a demon, a liar. He shouldn’t believe in the demon and get back to what he came here for. Unfortunately, there was a chance that Marcus was just a bit far away to hear his voice or possibly fell into a trap like Jones.
Yea that could be it. Steadying himself and feeling better, he clenched his sword in hand, looking around for surprises. So far, in the dimly lit dark room, there was no other movement or sound, just dead silence.
Alexus carefully peeked out the door, pushing it open with his foot. Finding out that it was clear, He searched for Marcus from the last place he heard him. The dimly lit hallway made it difficult to see beyond his arm, in which he strained his other senses to find any unsuspecting demons that could come out and jump on him.
With steady steps, Alexus pushed forward. Using the end of his sword to poke forward at times or even brought it forward to guard if necessary. It was a long two-minute walk across the dark hallway, making him feel like he was the only living thing there.
There were times when Alexus thought he saw a blur of shadows zip past him at the edge of his vision, but when he snapped towards the shadows, it wasn’t even there. This didn’t happen just once, but many times, making him wonder if he was starting to hallucinate.
Pushing through the hallway, Alexus came upon another door made out of metal. This door wasn’t as creepy as the one he went through with the shrunken heads; it looked normal, almost too clean. He had to wonder what the heck was down here that needed a metal door, so he quickly pulled up his watch to see where Jones was located.
The map led directly towards the door, and he was on the other side. What was strange was that he didn’t see a single dot for possible demons around, making him wonder if this was the door he had to go through. The last time he saw the map, he was sure there were several demons hanging around, waiting to burst in, but there were none, making him very uneasy.
“What’s going on?” Alexus mumbled under his breath. Then, anxiously looking around, he checked to see if any demons would come jumping out from the dark.
Nothing happened, and Alexus inched forward, examining the metal door in front of him. His hand touched the cold metal, electrifying up the arm and then spreading like wildfire throughout his whole body. It was icy cold, more so than any normal metal door that he had felt. Ice started to build around the door, becoming white as the fog spewed out from other cracks. Confused, he took a step back, wondering what was inside the door.
The question came down to, was Jones okay? Alexus knew the Dragon Scale could take icy cold weather, but this felt like it was possibly going below zero. When he checked the watch, he saw a sharp decline in temperature.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to go inside now, but he stilled his heart, reached over, and pulled. A gust of cold air slammed into his body, causing him to shiver in the cold even inside the Dragon Scale. A bright light blinded him until finally, he could adjust and see.
Taking small steps, Alexus noticed that the whole room was lit up with a strange, orange light that slowly bled into a harsh white light, reminding him of the first time he had entered the hospital ward. Then he saw the same bed that he was on. He froze.
This was a memory that Alexus never wanted to relive. It was the day he was called to become Ouroboros and baptized by the first demon-slaying experience. Fighting hard to survive, knowing full well that failure wasn’t an option or his death was on hand.
“Jones?” Walking through, Alexus called out his comrades’ names. “Marcus? Simon?” His voice echoed through the white room, hoping that someone would answer.
The whole room was empty, making this a very strange experience. Only cold invaded Alexus’ skin, making him shiver. Even the Dragon Scale started to heat up, finally making him warm. Hot air escapes his lips, squinting his eyes, trying to find something.
Alexus rechecked his watch, ensuring he wasn’t in the wrong room, but it was correct. Jone’s GPS was pinging exactly where he was standing, telling him he wasn’t wrong.
“What the hell?” Alexus shook his wrist, checking if it wasn’t malfunctioning. “Is it broken?” He tapped a couple of times.
Nothing changed, making him wonder what was going on. Something was wrong with this house, he knew that much, but he decided to step in here for his friends and wipe out the infestation that was killing those near it. The thought of seeing so many people that fell into the hands of the demon made him furious.
Checking the room, Alexus carefully walked through. He stopped and tapped each wall and the ground with the point of his sword, hoping to find something that he was seeing.
Suddenly, the door behind Alexus slammed shut, startling him. He ran over before ruthlessly
banging his body on the metal door in the hopes of breaking it down. But instead, only the clang of loud metal against metal was heard, echoing down the hall loudly.
“Marcus! Jones! Simon!” Alexus pounded into the door with his fist. “Anyone out there?!” He shouted to the point where his voice was going hoarse.
Frustrated that nobody was answering, Alexus stepped backward to see what else he could do to break down the door blocking his path out of here. He didn’t want to stay here any longer than necessary because it brought unwanted memories that he didn’t want to remember.
“Hello?!” Alexus radioed in, but all he got was static. “Damn it!” He kicked the metal door with a bang, frustrated that he was trapped back inside the hospital ward. In his frustration, he even pulled out his gun to fire off rounds in the hope to signal to someone that he was there, but all he was rewarded with was a painful sound of echoes.
Even his sword didn’t do any damage. It was as if the metal door was created by titanium or something because not even a single scratch was seen. He tried everything, from throwing things at it, running at it, or focusing his attacks on one particular spot. Absolutely nothing worked. There was nothing even when he searched the whole room for any cracks or weak points he could exploit.
Defeated, Alexus walked over to the only hospital bed. He looked over it to make sure it wasn’t rigged and found nothing. He sat on the bed with a sigh, thinking of other ways to get out of this mess.
He had to wonder why there was something like this here in the room. He reminded him of his past awakening, especially in a half-run-down building like this mansion. It was weird to see a half furnished and half-decayed facility in the first place. It honestly didn’t make sense how half of it was perfectly fine. The weather didn’t just rain on half the building in the first place. It was just too illogical.
The only thought was that something strange about this mansion brought up a strange illusion, and this room might be a lie to begin with or a trap. His thoughts ran rampant for a while, trying to find ways to get out of this room, but no answers came. It was as if his mind was going numb and sluggish, keeping him sedated.
He eventually lay back on the bed, staring up onto the ceiling. Wondering what he was doing here in this room. Thoughts like failures and depressing moments crossed his head. Then, finally, he realized that he had lived through his second life without a specific goal.
With a sigh, Alexus closed my eyes.
He felt small compared to the world, while the demons were constantly barraging them on all sides. How long would this fight last? He wasn’t sure, but he knew that this would be a fight that was vastly going on until he died. It was quite a depressing thought.
“So, it seemed you gave up.” Naz’s voice echoed throughout the room, startling him awake. He bolted up onto his feet, drawing his sword in front of him to use.
Standing not too far away from Alexus was Naz standing by the only dark corner of the room. It was as if he couldn’t move from that shadowy part of the room, making him wonder where the dark shadow even came from. The last time he remembered looking around, there wasn’t a single dark spot that cast a shadow.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
“What do you mean what the hell am I doing here? The question is, what the hell are you doing here?” Naz replied like a parrot, mocking him for his words.
“You should know better than I that I am trapped.” Just saying the last words made him annoyed, but Alexus knew that it wouldn’t affect him.
“Being trapped is all in your mind.” Naz chuckled, standing up straighter as the dark shadows elongated towards Alexus.
“I don’t think so,” Alexus replied, looking at him strangely. Though he had to wonder if it was all in mind and this house was affecting his sanity, the better question was, why would Naz even tell him all about this? He could keep him here forever like any demon would. They all hated
humans from as far as he knew.
“You think so?” Naz smirked, knowing that he was making Alexus think round in circles.
“Why don’t you just leave me alone.”
“Why would I do that?” Naz pretended to be offended, gasping back as if Alexus said something horrible.” I wouldn’t dare miss this opportunity to pick the minds of your kind.”
“We’re not science experiments,” Alexus replied, watching every movement he would take.
“I never said you were….though I find you quite….fascinating.”
Alexus wasn’t sure the word fascinating to the demons was even considered a good thing. Being less interesting was better than being caught by a demon’s attention.
“How so….?” Waiting for his answer, Alexus examined himself for any unsuspecting attacks.
“Simple, really,” Naz shrugged. He took a step forward where the harsh light divided from the shadows and flinched. A nasty hissing sound could be heard as Alexus saw Naz’s foot bubbling and burning. At first, Naz didn’t move; he just stood there accepting its burn as holes started to appear. “You, who are more than human…..no….you are more like monsters like me.”
“What?” Alexus asked, confused, wondering at the same time when Naz was going to pull back his foot. The longer he kept it in the harsh light, he continually burned, and the strange part of it all was that he wasn’t responding.
“I am sure I am not a monster.”
A deep chuckle erupted in Naz’s throat; he pulled back his foot, allowing it to quickly heal back in the dark. It was as if there wasn’t anything wrong with him in the first place, allowing Naz to look brand new.
“Do you believe that?”
“Let me ask you this. Where do you think demons come from?”
Alexus was stumped; that was something that he had never thought about or realized who or where they appeared from. The only thing he ever thought about demons was that they were creatures of hell or made from the evil that God had created and messed upon.
“It seems, like most humans, you don’t know the answer.” Naz sighed, shaking his head in disappointment in Alexus’ lack of knowledge. Then, with his eyeless face, Naz stared at him with a creepy grin that slowly spread from one corner to another. “It’s human, of course.”
“Bull.” Alexus quickly replied, realizing that he had shouted. “Demons aren’t humans!”
“You think so?” Naz chuckled; his body was shifting into a more humanoid figure. He was now an older gentleman who looked around his mid to early fifties. He wore a clean black suit, a white undershirt, and a red polka-dotted tie. Surprisingly, he still had hair, nicely slicked backward. Straightening himself, he adjusted his white cuffs and then to his tie, and with a knowing smile, he replied. “What do you think?”
Alexus gapped for a moment, then snapped back to reality. “You stole that body.” Quickly, he remembered that demons were good at possessing people’s bodies in real life.
Naz snorted, then he raised his eyebrows at Alexus, stating that Alexus was being illogical. “I am in my spirit form, Alexus. There are times when demons like me can materialize in front of a physical being without a shell. That’s what we call those….” He motioned his right hand in front of him in circles. “Humans.”
Naz made it sound like humans were different from him and Alexus, making him feel uncomfortable. He didn’t completely see other humans as different from Ouroboros as much; Alexus always thought they were the same kind of species, just a bit more…evolved.
“I am a human too.”
“Well, not completely,” said Naz. “Now, humans have three paths to choose from when they die, if you didn’t know.”
Alexus tilted his head slightly, confused about where Naz was going with this.
“You get to one, peacefully go with your supposed guardian to the afterlife, which I believe is completely bogus.” Naz’s fingers were brought up towards him, then started to count, raising one finger at a time. “Two, choose the path to fight to stay alive and become an Ouroborus.
Personally, fighting to stay alive is such a drag. Three, choose to exact revenge, hate, or destroy other humans who have dealt harm to yourself, and that, my young Ouroboros, is where I come in.” A sinister smile erupts from his lips.
“So, you’re implying that humans can become a demon.”
“Exactly,” Naz snapped his fingers in agreement with what Alexus had said. “But, I would say that humans are more demonic than demons themselves with the way they hurt each other for pleasure.”
“And demons don’t?” Alexus asked, skeptical of what Naz was saying.
“Not always, though there are quite a few who find it pleasurable.
“How do you know all this?” Alexus asked.
“How? You were given a choice when you died.”
“Such as? To fight, stay behind, or fester in the dark emotions and gain true power.”
“That was you who talked with me?”
Naz raised his eyebrows, not agreeing or disagreeing with what Alexus said. Instead, he replied. “Once again, you are at that crossroad of life and death. Why don’t you leave the life of an Ouroboros and step into the role more fitting for you.”
“Fitting?” Alexus didn’t know that there was even a role to begin with. Being a human was tough, and now, being an Ouroboros was even tougher. So what else would there be that would consider something higher than an Ouroboros?
“And what would that be?” Alexus asked slowly. He wasn’t sure if he should continue listening to Naz or shut him out. He didn’t want to listen to a demon, especially when they are considered habitual liars.
The heavy silence was in the air; Alexus was stunned by what he had just heard and could not believe what Naz had said. A god? That was something he knew humans would love to be, but something that powerful was something people can’t get a grasp on or understand. For Naz to become a god was a huge burden that he couldn’t even phantom.
“So…..you’re saying that you’re a god?” Alexus asked, motioning one of his hands in front of him. “A little g or a big G?”
“Does it matter?” Naz asked.
“Actually, yes. God with capital is different from a lower case god. You were created from something higher than the lords above you. That is supposedly the only one if you believe in such a thing. While the second is a smaller g, where you were born into a world where and made into one.” Alexus thought over what he had said, “well, something like that. First, though, I thought you were a demon.”
“Well, you can say I’m a god either way. Large or big, it wouldn’t matter.” Naz stated pridefully as he puffed up his chest as if he was someone important. “I was gifted with power, turning from human to demon to a god. With such a path led out to me, why wouldn’t I attempt to be one?”
“Because it’s wrong.” Alexus cut him off; being an Ouroboros was one thing; being a god was another. At the rate that Naz was talking, Alexus could tell that he was full of himself as if he was self-important. “I would state you’re a demonic god.”
Naz snorted, chuckling deeply with malicious intent that Alexus could feel his power creeping out of his body and spreading the dark energy around the white room. Already, Naz was halfway in, taking over the whole room with darkness and stopping at the foot of the bed, close to my feet.
“You don’t know the half of it.” Naz’s energy sparked out erratically; light and shadow danced together in a frenzy of dominance, telling Alexus that he would be in serious trouble any more eradication of the light. Alexus didn’t want to become like the foul demon god before him and change into something evil that wasn’t his goal nor the path he wanted to go.
Alexus unconsciously took a step backward but stopped, knowing that if he cowered now, he would lose. There were two options, he had to fight for his existence or become dominated by the demon’s energy that wanted more harm to his soul than the good.
Taking in a gulp, Alexus stood up straighter, wrapping his right hand tighter on his sword. There was no way he would run, especially because he couldn’t. Pushed to fight for his life, he willed his energy to spike.
Gold energy streamed out of his body, wrapping around the sword itself. The Dragon Scale started to glow with the same color as his energy, humming loudly in excitement. Then, the gold energy smashed into the darkness, and static of black and gold erupted outwards in a frenzy.
Naz stared in surprise, but he didn’t falter. “Come now, Alexus. Why don’t you sleep a little longer…..or maybe even join me.”
“No,” Alexus replied with a cold voice. He wasn’t going to let Naz win. “Leave.”
“Why?” Naz’s voice was low with a hint of an animalistic growl. “It’s just getting good, you know.”
“Leave,” Alexus stressed the words again.
“But, you should know that you can’t leave.”
“I don’t care.”
“Oh, yes, you do.” Naz said slowly, “Why don’t I make a deal with you? Be who you are meant to be and follow me, or be stuck here forever.”
Alexus stopped for a moment, thinking about his offer. Leaving this place was good, but losing his soul and becoming like him? “No. Never.”
“Are you sure?”
A burst of gold energy shot forth, splashing outwards like a tidal wave as it continually hit against the demonic energy. Electric sparks continually got stronger, striking everywhere they could. A couple of times, he had to duck under or even jump so he wouldn’t get electrocuted, especially because it seemed to particularly like to aim straight towards his sword.
Naz burst out laughing, “then so I shall.”
With a snap of his fingers, the darkness burst outwards, attempting to swallow the light in one go. But instead, the gold energy around him flared to life, keeping him in a bubble as the room became completely dark.
“Alexus Tyger, why don’t you wake up from this dream and follow me?” Naz’s voice boomed.
“Wake up, Alexus. Wake…..up.”
Suddenly, the world shattered like glass, startling him as he fell backward into the void. He felt a rush of adrenaline kick in as fear doused his very soul. He was confused at the sudden fall, wondering what was happening as he flailed around. Then, when he thought the fall would last forever, he felt a jerk of pain as he slammed onto the ground. The sudden shock vibrated throughout his body, and he felt himself stir. It was as if he was suddenly brought back to his real body as he woke up, meeting the sun’s glaring light.
P.S Taking a week break before starting volume 2 of Mind Linker. We are 1/3 of the way for the series to be complete! Woot!