XVII – Colour, Scent & Energy
“Down here, quickly.”
Koatsu looked down into the darkness unable to move. It was the stench which made him hesitate but in a matter of seconds, he took a long deep breath as the wind blew against him, closed his eyes and leaped.
He hit the wet earth, the water splashed his legs and the smell stunned his senses so badly, his eyes started to water and he felt himself close to retching but he was able to hold his composure.
Another splash behind him and he turned round to see Koshin gesture to follow him as he quickly started wading through the waste and he had to move quick to keep up with the long strides of Koshin.
They walked through almost absolute darkness, only the faint torch locked in Koshin’s hands light up the tight sewage tunnels and Koatsu looked up to see other smaller holes, which he would never have been able to jump through though he knew what could. A few of the holes had faint light streaming through them, coming from the houses above their heads which helped illuminate their path.
He had visited briefly the sewers a while back, though it had been during the day. At night this place slightly intimidated him. He had checked the sewer systems in the search for the typical signs that the underground normally left. Symbols on the wall, messages in the stones, even a meeting taking place but this Ring, this Ring was different from the Ninth. It was empty, almost abandoned.
“You’re fortunate I was the one who found you first” said Koshin finally breaking the silence between the two of them “and not Aludin’s soldiers or Hichami’s more loyal men.”
“I’ve been watching you for a few days” he continued as they kept walking down the sewers “You’ve done well, being able to stay in a safe area unable to be found. I’ve been patiently trying to find the right time to approach you without any prying eyes about.”
“I’m thankful it was you who did” said Koatsu “But you still haven’t told me where we’re going? The sewage systems won’t take us out of the Eighth Ring. It will only take us around this village and around its outskirts.”
“That’s exactly where we’re headed” he replied “We’re heading to a small safe house where you and Skora can stay safe while I figure out how what to do with the both of you. Your little friend should be waiting for us there as we speak” said Koshin.
“Wait, what?” said Koatsu “How…”
“Staying hidden in the crypts inside the temple area was smart but it was only a matter of time until someone found you two, someone who wasn’t me. Don’t worry I sent one of my most trusted men to bring him to where we’re going” said Koshin.
“Thanks, thanks for everything Koshin” said Koatsu “But Koshin, what happened at the tunnel? I saw you, I thought…”
“I was dead?” said Koshin who started laughing loudly, the laughter echoing around them as they took a right, this tunnel narrowing and the water level rose as they trod on.
“Yes, I thought it was my time too but looks like I’ve got more fighting spirit than I give myself credit.”
“So what happened? They said there were no survivors and those things, those…” said Koatsu unable to find the words.
“Demons” said Koshin turning round to face Koatsu and they looked at one another in silence, Koatsu’s shadow jumping and twisting against the wall.
“No…no, they’re just myths, stories, they’re what old people tell kids so they’ll behave” said Koatsu.
“Oh, they’re real and you saw them with your own eyes” he said.
“Tell me, with all the rumours to the east, what do you think would happen if these people were told that Demons had somehow got inside our very walls?” he asked rhetorically and Koatsu seemed to understand.
“I see” said Koatsu as the tunnel started to rise and swerve to the left, the air was growing colder and he shook himself to heat his body up, the water reaching his knees “So how did you find me and Skora?”
“You’re a Magi, aren’t you? You should know the answer yourself” said Koshin
“What do you mean?”
“Magi’s are able to use energy of the universe and can manipulate the physical world. It is not magic but a fine tuning between the universe and human body” said Koshin.
“Everyone is capable of unlocking this potential, though it is rather difficult for ordinary humans. Omicornians such as yourself, as you well know, are the Magi people. Did you know that every living thing has a unique colour, scent, and amount to the energy they hold within themselves?” said Koshin.
“Yeah, sort of, Skora knows more about this than me to be honest” said Koatsu who had always proud himself on his abilities but never had he felt so ignorant and disconnected to them as he did now. He felt his clothes and clutched the pendant through them for a few seconds before letting go.
“The strongest and wisest are able to raise these traits to higher levels. Everyone leaves behind a trail, for everything is connected, although some are harder or easier to detect than others. Invisible to the human eye but visible to those who look hard enough” said Koshin “It was only a matter of trying to sense your energy level, which is higher than most in this Ring and I was lead to you.”
He stopped abruptly before a ladder made of rope, with hoop rings which led upwards and Koatsu looked up to see wooden planks above him.
“Up you go” said Koshin holding the ladder as Koatsu grabbed onto the first hoop ring and sliding his foot through into the lower one, he started to hoist himself up until his head scraped the wooden trapdoor and with the greatest force he could muster he sprung it open. He climbed out of the hole and landed onto the earth.
He looked about him. They were in a run down garden of a small dilapidated cottage. The grass had grown to waist height and the wooden fence was run down, several planks laid on the ground. He realised they were far from the village from where he had come from, he could make out the outline of the temple and surrounding him, were many similar looking houses and many construction scaffolds left abandoned.
He had heard about this place about the village. This place had been a district of the village until it had burnt down a few months back in a terrible fire. There had been plans on rebuilding but they had been halted due to low resources and financial uncertainty and had been left abandoned.
It felt strange standing amongst these ruins and he spotted a cotton bear buried in the weeds, half of it burned, the other worn by weather. He looked up to the sky, to see the stars and the moon had completely vanished.
That’s when he felt the pendant weighing heavily on his chest and it felt as if he had two hearts.
He looked down, pulling the pendant free from under his clothes and was blinded by a red light emitting from the red jewel of the pendant, which enveloped him in a red glow.
That’s when he remembered the last time the pendant had acted this way and he felt as if a noose was around his neck.
‘It’s happening again’ he thought to himself in frustration ‘Why now? Why? Why? Why’
“Koshin” he said turning round to see the elderly man standing behind him, extinguishing the torch.
At that moment he saw it. The fluttering of hundreds of wings on the cottages broken tiled roof, hundreds of crows, their yellow eyes illuminating the world, looking down at him.