Monday, February 5, 2018

Page 1519 -- CLXIII

((Double Monday -- Page 1 of 2))
Royo holstered his weapon as the “dead” superman’s body hit the ground, blood splattering and sizzling against the uneven stone.

The ghost squirmed in his grip, but the glove allowed him to maintain his hold. Its horrific face almost made him want to destroy it, but he knew that to be his own, unjustifiable impulse. As he understood it, the reason the supermen existed in the first place was because these ghosts retained no powers or potency of their own.

“Lorios, was it?” said Royo, and the ghost stopped moving. “I cannot hear anything you are saying, but you needn’t worry. I will not hurt you. You may not believe me, but I hold great affection for your Manuel. I promise to reward him for his heroism as soon as it is within my power to do so.”

The reaper could not respond, of course, but Royo allowed a moment for it anyway, just in case some new revelation occurred. He took the opportunity to look over the treasure on this side of the room, and though there was certainly plenty to admire, nothing in particular caught his eye or sparked a sense of recognition. He wished he had devoted more time to studying such artifacts.

“However,” Royo eventually continued, “I do not know if this qualifies as a victory in this tournament, so I would like you to voice your surrender to Malast, if possible. I believe he can hear you, no?”

More silence as he waited.

He decided to release the ghost, if only to build back a modicum of trust. He still kept his eye on it, though. He’d only heard that they were powerless. He still wanted to be prepared for any unpleasant surprises.

But when his vision began to distort in that familiar way, Royo knew that he had indeed made it through the first round.

Chapter One Hundred Sixty-Three: ‘O, deadliest Knife...’
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Jercash’s thick boots crunched over the gravelly, smoldering earth as he entered what was left of the town of Orobell. Vanderberk, Germal, Koh, and several others came crunching up behind him as Jercash caressed the left tip of his mustache, taking in the scenery.

Barely any buildings still stood, and those that did looked like they’d been blasted out by mortar shells, the smoke from their ruins rising all the way up to the evening clouds. Automobiles were everywhere, though not as they should have been. Instead, they were overturned or on fire or buried in rubble or crumpled up like an old newspaper.

“Huh,” said Jercash in two voices. “Ya know, last I checked, this place was being protected by the Vannies. I’m not goin’ senile, am I?”

A small red-haired woman shuffled up next to him. Her thin-rimmed glasses didn’t do much to conceal the diagonal scar down the middle of her face. “No, sir,” she said, rifling through a briefcase. “Our latest intelligence placed thirteen mid-level threats in this town only five days ago.”

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