Original Stories Fan Fiction ❯ Into The Void ❯ Sinful Coffin ( Chapter 27 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Into the Void
Episode 27: Sinful Coffin
By: Melissa Norvell
Two medium-sized grave markers stood in the grass. Everyone wore sorrow-filled expressions and the moment was dead silent. Heavy mourning flooded the air. Yaritza clenched the folded note in her hand as she tried to fight back tears. The girl began to tremble but it was soon quelled by a small hand being laid on her shoulder. The ninja looked to her right to see Sari with a concerned look on her face.
"Are you alright?" The aqua-haired girl asked.
"You know, that's a dumb question," emerald eyes looked to the girl.
Sari glanced down. "Yeah…"
Agata walked up to one of the crosses and hung Ryouzonia's necklace over the top of it. "Let's protect this place, for her sake," the woman spoke lowly as she gazed at the crosses. Hisamichi looked down and wiped a few stray tears from his eyes. He couldn't believe that the battle had ended this way.
"You alright?" Loreli asked Udo. After all, his best friend had not only died, but proclaimed his love to him before he passed. That wasn't something that was just going to heal. There would be a lot of confusion and many unanswered questions to follow. She knew that he had to be feeling a tremendous amount of guilt.
"I'll be fine…I just need to think about a few things," Udo couldn't shake the feeling, no matter how hard he tried, Hokuto's last words ran chillingly through his mind. The words of love and the kiss that contained so many emotions. In the end, all he could do was think about how he didn't love him in the same way and for that, he felt guilty.
"Excuse me," a feminine voice cut into their sad moment. Sari answered her with a 'yeah' in question as most everyone turned their heads to see Timal standing on the outskirts of the group of mourners.
"Who are you?" Vincent had never seen Timal before but he knew that she was from the Republic of Baztok just by her looks.
"My name is Timal. I'm a friend of Ryouzonia's. I heard the news," Timal looked down in mourning.
"It's been three days since she's passed," Agata stated, and every day the group would go to her grave and mourn her death. It was like a ritual that they preformed ever since the elder had been tragically killed in her fight against Shigeki.
"She's made herself a reputation here. She founded this republic and freed the people from oppression. She was my savior…and my best friend," Timal's voice lowered at the last two words as she recalled the last time that she had seen her dear friend before her death.
"No wonder the people of Baztok liked her so much. Her funeral was huge," Zidane noted that nearly the entire village had attended and there were many, like themselves that still visited her grave.
"I never knew her personally but she sure helped us out a lot," Sari mentioned.
"She was very kind. We'll definitely miss her," Ionna agreed.
"Hey Timal, how do you know Ryouzonia anyway?" Sari looked to the osprey-like woman. She had been curious about how she knew the elder and what her relationship was.
"I was about to be sold into slavery and she saved me from a tyrannical king that once ruled Baztok. He had already sold my mother, father and six sisters," Timal explained a little painfully. "She single-handedly beat King Byron and saved everyone. She set us all free."
"So, she's like an old war hero?" Agata tried to make a comparison.
"She's much more important than that. Everyone looked to her for guidance and support. She was the village elder and role model for our children," Timal explained.
"Are you going to read that letter?" Sari had wondered what was in it from the point that Hokuto had given it to his sister.
Yaritza looked at the wrinkled piece of paper that she held in her gloved hand. The girl felt the uneasy feelings wash over her like heavy water. "I'm not sure. I mean, everything is still so fresh on my mind."
"Yeah, a whole lot of stuff happened and Valentino and his son and…everyone's deaths…" the usually spunky girl trailed off.
"We might lose more people if we're not careful," Hisamichi warned. It was not the first time that he had seen good friends die but he didn't want anything like the Ryouzonia incident happen again, if at all possible.
"Valentino…" Yaritza uttered the name as a flash of the assassin's face ran through her memories. "He was…crying…"
"What?! Valentino, cry? I've never seen him cry, no matter how bad things have been! No way! He's no crybaby!" It was the most absurd thing that she had ever heard. It had to be a mistake! The entire time that the assassin resided with them, no matter how bad things got, no matter what the predicament was, no matter how many people hated him; Valentino didn't even quiver a lip.
"No one can hold it back forever. You all would cry too. Come on, he killed his son and nearly killed Ryouzonia. Plus he was injected with that serum that made him transform. He probably thinks that he deserves that," Rubio told her. No matter how much he wanted to believe it, Valentino was a human and he had human emotions.
"No one deserves that," Udo replied. It had been one of a few times that he had spoken since the death of his friend and the village elder and ally to his team.
"What does it do anyway?" Sari wondered what the mystery fluid was and what the side-effects were. The girl wanted to know if there were any reactions that Valentino might have that would permanently change him. He had not been with them since the battle and Sari worried about the man and what condition that he could be in at this very moment. She also wondered about the casket that he was encased in and what it would do to him.
"The casket causes you to bear any guilt or regret with an amplified sense," Udo explained. He had been in the coffin many times and he knew the side-effects all-too well.
"He could easily go insane," Agata looked to the spiky-haired ex-terrorist.
"Uh, newsflash, I think he was that a long time ago. Why do you think he's so quiet?" The spunky girl could see it; she wondered why everyone else was so dense.
"Come on guys, let's go and rest a while," Loreli suggested. They were still mourning and they were both exhausted physically and mentally.
"It was nice talking to you, Timal. Please be careful," the white-haired woman turned to her new-found friend and smiled a little as a silent moment passed between the two.
"You too," Timal responded after a few moments of silence. "I wish you all the best of luck. Please take care."
Agata then nodded. "We will. Good bye, Timal."
At the house where Ryouzonia had once resided, everyone had the letter unfolded and spread out over the large table in the living room. Yaritza had her head turned to the side, afraid of looking at the words that were concealed within.
"Should I look at it?" She asked uncertainly.
Bosnia sat a few feet away from the table with Captain Aeris, who slept soundly in a futon with purple covers on the ground next to her.
"I think you should," the short-haired girl responded. It was better to face the past, rather than run from it.
Udo sat in the corner of the room with one knee propped up and his right arm draped over it. Blank blue eyes stared at the wall. He wasn't sure if he wanted to hear the words but he silently came to the conclusion that he should hear it. Hokuto wanted him to know the information that it concealed and he would do it as a last wish.
"We may get leads. Apparently he knew something that we didn't," Ionna pointed out. It was better to read it then not to.
"I think we should discuss this anyway," Vincent agreed.
"That's it! Group meeting!" Sari called out as everyone sat in a circle around the table. "Okay, let's read this thing. I know it will be painful but let's see if there are any leads it."
"Alright," the ninja agreed a little nervously as she slowly unfolded the letter and read the contents within. "If you have found this letter then I am most likely no longer alive." Her voice trembled with the last word.
"You mean he knew that he was going to die?" The bounty hunter was shocked by the very first statement.
"Then he knew something," Ionna deducted. "Otherwise, he couldn't have had to leave a note behind in case he didn't make it to that point."
"Ninja and terrorists with important messages often do that. That way if they are, when their body is disposed of, their team mates will find the letter," Rubio informed. It was a very old trick that was done even in ancient times, and it was included in the old ninja codes of Japan.
"Or the enemy will," Sari replied with a sigh.
"This letter contains all that I know regarding the terrorists' movement. I was hired by the government to investigate their movement. I have been tracking them for a while and can give several pieces of information. I know that I may die at any time but I don't want my findings to go uncovered. I just hope that that this letter falls into the right hands. I hope that Udo gets away from Ibuki before he is used as a pawn. Ibuki, from what I've heard, plans on ridding himself of everyone who's caused him an inconvenience. He had a specific plan for everyone. These are what I heard him speak of. He plans to seal Valentino in a coffin and place him in Carbunkle's Forest. If everyone goes to defeat Carbunkle, they may manage to win, and then he'll have Esta defeat them. If Esta does not defeat them, then he will himself. Shigeki was a human bomb all along. He was to sacrifice himself and attempt to take out a few, if not all of you," Yaritza continued to read in astonishment. How in the world did Hokuto get that type of information?
"So, either way someone was to die from battling Shigeki," Rubio replied. It was all just some plan, and to think that Ibuki had gotten that one over on them. He had a feeling that several more attempts on their lives were going to be made after this point.
"It also says that he would have made Loreli, Udo or Zidane kill Rubio and Valentino early on or you guys would be disposed of later. He knows of their treason-like behavior. They'll all be dealt with in the end. It also states that he hired Valentino to kill Angora in hopes that Rubio would want to kill him. He wanted them to try and kill each other early," the ninja informed.
"Seriously?" Vincent was completely floored by the new information. "Dude, how did Hokuto get a hold of this stuff?" It was absolutely amazing the amount of information that he had covered in a single letter. Too bad he wasn't still alive; otherwise, they could ask him for even more information regarding the terrorists.
"It's very thorough. He must have been spying on them for a long time," Agata informed. There was no other possible way that he could have acquired that much information from simply being there only a few times.
There had to be more to it than that.
"Hokuto…I never knew…Come to think of it, you did say that you were going on a long mission. I bet that's what he meant," Yaritza made the connection from things said in the past to those happenings in the present.
"So, he was going to have us murdered by Carbunkle?" Ionna asked in a serious tone.
"Who the hell is Carbunkle and who does he get to have his own forest?" Sari was irritated. So far the letter told them about Carbunkle, but the least Hokuto could have done was to at least vaguely state who he was.
"Carbunkle is a spirit who owns a forest called The Forest of Souls. They say that if you stay in Carbunkle's Forest for more than a week then your soul will be pulled from your body and concealed in the forest, never to escape," It was an urban legend but it was the best way that Ionna could explain it.
"What?" Rubio's face lit up. It had already been three days! There was no telling what kind of damage it had already done if that information was true.
"Man, we've got to get him out of there," Sari shot. This was a serious situation! The more that they sat around, the more time was wasted and the more damage could be done to the assassin.
Rubio rose quickly but was pulled back down by a firm hand, grasping his forearm. He looked down to see Agata, leveling him with a serious look. "What are you going? We've got to get Valentino out of Carbunkle's Forest," Rubio felt his blood run cold and a panic overcame him.
"We need to rest for today. We're not in a condition to go," they were still recovering from their last battle with Shigeki. They were hardly ready for Carbunkle and they had no plan of action. It was more than foolish to immediately rush into a problem without any information on their potential enemy.
"What about Captain Aeris?" Bosnia knew her captain had still been knocked out from who knows what when she was in the terrorists' hands. They couldn't just leave her behind!
"Someone will have to stay and take care of her," Yaritza informed.
"I will! I can do it!" Bosnia offered.
"If you're sure," the red-head replied.
Bosnia nodded in agreement. "I'd only get in the way and I don't know the first think about fighting spirits."
"Yeah, me either. How do you kill something that is dead?" Sari wondered aloud.
"We'll find a way," the white-haired sergeant still held tightly to the silver-haired man's forearm.
"Why are you still holding me?" Rubio had already sat back down and he had no intentions of leaving at the moment. It was like she didn't trust him or something.
"I want you to stay here. Don't go off and think that you can fight Carbunkle alone," Agata warned. If Rubio trued to go off and fight Carbunkle on his own, then he would be in the same predicament as Valentino and they didn't need to try and rescue two people.
"Carbunkle is the King of the Spirit World," Ionna informed.
"I remember hearing about Carbunkle when I was young but I never knew he existed," Bosnia told the group. To her, he was no more than a myth or fairytale.
"How did Shigeki know about Carbunkle, I wonder," Loreli brought up the subject. The entire time that she'd known Shigeki, she didn't take him as the type to really be interested, let alone believe in spirits. It was a little surprising.
"Well, Shigeki practiced spirit magic. The coffin is made of spiritual energy. It encases the soul for a set amount of time and if the soul tries to leave the body, it can't. It will simply be stuck in there with in until the spell wears off," Udo explained.
"Just what you want to do, look at your dead body for a little while longer and see how you deteriorate," Zidane said morbidly.
"Ugh…Nasty…" The very thought made Sari feel nauseated.
Aeris shifted slightly and let out a small groan as she opened her eyes slowly and sat up, looking around at everyone in confusion. "Where am I?" Her dark, feminine voice could be heard from across the room.
"She's awake!" Bosnia cheered.
"Captain Aeris," Agata said her name aloud.
"Where am I?" The pirate asked again.
"You're in the Republic of Baztok," Zidane educated the long-haired woman.
"Zidane…" The captain's voice was filled with nostalgia at the sight of the scar-faced man. Feelings from the past surfaced and caused her to remember the time that she had spent with the man.
"In the flesh…Well, what's left of it anyway," the bald man noticed that Aeris' eyes hit the floor when she saw Ionna and she frowned deeply.
"How are you feeling?" The scar-faced man asked.
"I feel a little strange," Aeris shrugged off her feelings for the other woman. "He injected me with something that made me pass out but I should be fine if I just rest a while."
"Are you sure?" Zidane looked a little concerned for the woman.
"I'm going to rest a while," the last thing the pirate wanted to see was Ionna.
"If you need anything captn' just tell us," Bosnia offered her help in any way that she could and her captain thanked her before laying back down in the futon.
"Where did Rubio go?" Sari just now noticed that the man had disappeared when Aeris decided to wake up. He must have found it a prime opportunity to escape. That was just like him to wait until their attention was directed elsewhere to slip away! What a sneaky bastard!
"I'm going for a walk," the silver-haired man was at the doorway. "I'm going to take my sword with me in case I get attacked. I'm just shaken up by all of this."
"Just don't get all emotional on us like you have been doing," Sari replied. It was more of a warning than anything else, even though she was irritated with his constant mood swings.
"I'm trying to avoid that," Rubio's voice held a certain edge of irritation as he shut the door behind him and exited the room.
"Do you think that was wise?" Zidane asked.
"What do you mean?" Sari really didn't see the harm in it. He was just going for a walk to take the edge off. What was wrong with that?
"He is stubborn; he'll go to Carbunkle's Forest with or without us," the bald man knew him comrade and all of his little quirks. There was no way that Rubio would take it sitting down- for any amount of time.
"Why is he so intent on saving Valentino anyway? Doesn't he hate him?" The girl questioned. Why would he want to save someone that he hated so much? It didn't make any sense!
"Well, Rubio doesn't always show it but he does have people that he actually likes," Loreli replied. She knew that the silver-haired man wasn't the kindest guy that you could ever meet and that he had a strange way of treating people that he liked and those he didn't.
"No, you don't get it. He tried to kill Valentino on more than one occasion." Apparently, Loreli didn't know the extent of the ongoing war between the two men.
"Valentino said that Rubio had been nice to him lately," Loreli replied.
"They haven't been really fighting, you know," Bosnia agreed with Loreli.
"They used to work for the same person, only in different battalions. Valentino was under my jurisdiction and Rubio was under Ibuki's," Zidane explained.
"Rubio's too used to the high life, I think," Udo remarked. "He's been sitting up there by the big man and when one person he cares about dies, he thinks that he can act like a stuck up child to get what he wants."
"He does whine a lot," Sari hated to admit it, but Udo had a point.
"You have to give him some credit," the bounty hunter spoke up, trying to defend the guy. "At least he isn't how he was when I first met him. He wouldn't leave the Angora subject alone, especially around Valentino."
"That's because he just couldn't wait to shove Valentino's mistakes in his face, as if Valentino didn't have enough to feel bad for. I mean, I might not have known everything about him, but I don't think he really asked for anything that he got," the spunky girl said honestly. To be truthful, the black-haired assassin had the shittiest life she'd ever heard about.
"I can't stand it that we're just sitting around while he's in that forest," Ionna slammed her fist on the floor in apprehension. The whole ordeal was frustrating. Her brother would surely die if they didn't do something about it and soon! Ionna didn't even care if they were murdered by Carbunkle, at least they'd be doing something other than sitting on their hands.
"Well, what can we do? We're stuck until Captain Aeris feels better. Besides, we need to recover our strength before we go up against something like Carbunkle," Loreli educated the group. It would be ridiculous to confront Carbunkle now, especially when they had no plan of action whatsoever.
"You've also got to remember that Carbunkle isn't human," Agata reminded the restless members of her group. "This may even be tougher then fighting Shigeki."
"Yeah…" Yaritza agreed. "How do you fight something that isn't alive?"
"Can you even hit a spirit?" Sari asked.
"If Rubio goes down there by himself, he'll be making a fatal mistake," the white-haired woman's voice was ominous, as if to bring bad fortune on the silver-haired man. She had no intention of making his life hell, and she only hoped that he was no headed to that forest as they spoke. Agata definitely had a bad feeling about it.
Rubio stood on the edge of a dense line of trees that signified the beginning of what looked like a large forest. Staring through the many trunks that stood before him, the man thought to himself as he held his weapon over his shoulder. His blue eyes shone with a fierce determination and a burning fire. There was nothing to convince him otherwise and he would not listen to what anyone said.
Valentino meant everything to him and he would not waste a second more on saving him. 'I'm going to rescue Valentino by myself. I can't just wait until we rest. If that means dying by Carbunkle's hand then I will. Valentino saves me all this time. What good am I if I can't save him for once?'
…To Be Continued