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The Dark Side

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Some wonder, how we… powerful, extremely dangerous spirits were made to bow to handlers’ will.

You see… it’s a long story.

Some have been caught and promised a bit of freedom after the bonding. Some were caught and were tortured until they agreed to bond… some perished because humans didn’t know their limits… There were also those that came willingly. These were the ones who saw their brothers and sister die from humans hands and had enough. Avatars for their destructive power were not aggressive towards humans unless attacked.

For few first months after we appeared here, avatars were safe, only a group of 5 wanted to slaughter the human race. This five was enough to bring nothing but sheer suffering on all of us.  

After humans found a way to disable our incorporeality, we could do nothing. The more we killed, the more of them appeared with better weapon and equipment. A never-ending slaughter.

Nowadays, the cards have so many safety measures that it takes a lot to disable them. But ten years ago? There was only a bond between avatar and human, card with basic protection and unyielding mind of the handler. Back then, if someone managed to get hands on the spirit and make it create the bond, one needed to have a strong mind. If not…

At worst cases, the handler’s body would crumble and turn into dust. At best, one would only get injured. Some could preserve for a few years and some just a few minutes.

This is why humans started to create strong cards and overwrite them to accommodate the bond. It was obvious how much damage the spirits could cause, so they created “Glory”. A game.

The avatars’ power was now locked up until you levelled up in a game. Updates and access to higher levels were being granted if there was no danger from avatars. Thanks to their classification, one could choose the class suitable for them. After choosing it, an avatar compatible with you and your choice was given to you.

Of course, some avatar’s power was still above lvl 70. I am one of them.

Time passed and many still ask me how can someone like Ye Xiu have the strength to make me obedient. I only laugh at their idiocy and beat the shit out of them for their audacity to even talk to me. Unless it’s a human. Then I leave it to Ye Xiu. Because if not then he will glare at me and won’t talk to me until I apologize. And I don’t like to apologize.

Ten years passed and I never dared to tell this story to anyone. Well, there is always a first time for everything.

 


 

 

Six months before “Glory”

10km away from Ye residence.

The sun went down a few hours ago. Loud voices could be heard behind him. At the beginning, he tried to simply run away but that only encouraged the hunters. He was hit with 4 tracking bullets but managed to get them out. Fighting attempt and the fact that he was shot, slowed him down. He could feel that they were getting closer and closer. The dense forest not stopping them at all. They tried to chase him with helicopters but he took them all down.

“Damn.” He muttered clutching left side of his stomach. He got shot there three times. The other one lodged into his leg. It definitely wasn’t the nicest sight. He was dirty, covered in his own and others blood, half-running and half-limping. He knew it’s only matter of time until his pursuers reach him.

He silently counted the things he has with him.

‘One lance that will most likely break if use higher ability but still good enough for me to lean on it, last mana potion, no healing ones, shit. No bandages, no food, no communication device, and… oh, I still have one mist grenade and one clay mine. A shame to use it now but… this will give me at least some time to get off their radar.’ He knew that even if he had other things, he wouldn’t be able to use them. Humans learn very fast and accommodate even faster. ‘I need to use both at the same time. This should confuse them enough. They will probably think I changed directions just like the previous time.’

After fast preparation, he dropped these two on the ground. They will activate when someone steps closer to them. At the same time, it will tell him just how far behind him they are.

His side was painfully throbbing. Same for the leg. Still hoping to escape, he pushed forward.

After a few minutes he heard a loud bang.

He grits his teeth and started to run faster. This was his chance. If he runs away far enough and hides, he might survive this encounter.

By the time he got closer to town borders, he was on verge of crying. He ran away but now he had to hide and a city was not a good idea.

Five more steps. Rasping breath. Rounding the corner. Leg finally gave in. He plummeted down into a puddle.

Knowing humans’ curiosity, he didn’t dare to let out a sound.

‘Just how pathetic I am now. I can’t even move properly. I don’t know where I am, no idea where I am going.’ He laid there for five minutes before he gathered his strength to rise again. Each time he did, it was harder and harder to stand up.

All around him were villas and large houses. They obviously belonged to rich humans.

‘That’s bad. The rich jerks have barriers against us. It will be a miracle if I manage to enter a barn, alcove or anything. On the other side… it means fewer guards. It all depends on how strong are the barriers. I entered the town so the newest, stronger ones still weren’t installed. Because of the coating on the bullets, I can’t even phase through things. If I could I would have gone down to the severs.’

After looking around he concluded that this wasn’t even a town. It was one, big residence. Only the richest humans could afford it. It must have been used for summer and winter vacations, considering that it was so close to the forest.

He could carry on forward or change directions again but if he had to run even a few hundred meters, he will fall unconscious from the strain. He might be one of the strongest avatars but even he couldn’t go on materialized like that with such injuries and without supplies. He also couldn’t stay outside. The hunters would bring the drones again to spot him. For now, he took care of all aerial equipment so they had to track him on the ground but who knows when they will call for reinforcements.

One Autumn Leaf sighed.

He really had no plan. Not even an idea what to do next. Somehow, the area felt wrong. It was too quiet. As if something was lurking in shadows to trap him.

He closed his eyes and focused on his surroundings. Clear. There was no one outside. The only problem now would be entering the mansion while avoiding possible humans that might be in there.

‘Risk being caught inside and walk into a trap or stay here and be caught outside by specialised forces and be probably contained or killed in the process?’

He looked around again. ‘Huh?’ He lost sight in his right eye. He remembered being hit by the sonic blast and smacking into a stone wall. ‘As if barely being able to walk wasn’t enough.’ Now his chances to survive definitely dropped to 0%. Without one eye he couldn’t properly estimate distance and aim accurately.

He looked down at his wound. Blood soaked through bandages long time ago. He didn’t even notice that he was standing in a poodle of his own blood. Were it any other avatar, it would be dead a long time ago because of the blood loss.

‘Fuck it. I’m going in. I will die anyway.’ He again propelled himself, this time using both his lance and the wall.

Glancing once again at the surroundings, he moved forward.

‘Right leg. Left leg. Right leg. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Left.’ He stumbled forward catching his balance with a lance. ‘Great. Can’t even do such a simple thing. The closest entrance is the main one.’ After walking up the few stairs that were there, he reached the doors handle. The doors opened without resistance.

Carefully, he walked in, closing the doors behind himself. He made few steps forward and fell onto the strangely shining floor. His lance dropped onto the marble flooring with a clatter. The pain was so intense, he started choking.

Before he lost his consciousness, he heard a bunch of footsteps coming down the stairway and a male screaming:

“Honey! It’s our lucky day! You won’t believe what we caught! HA!”

 


 

Pain.

That was the first thing One Autumn Leaf felt when he started to wake up. He took a little bit bigger breath but then started to cough violently. This made it all worse. He gasped as more pain surged through him like a waterfall. A waterfall of pain.

That snapped him from any remains of sleep. He tried to move only to find out that he is chained up for hands onto the ceiling. The chain was long enough to let him kneel. That would explain why his wrists hurt so much. The next thing he noticed was that he was wearing a heavy, metal collar with loose chains attached to the ground. Thankfully his eyesight came back.

With chains clanking loudly in a besides him, empty room he looked down at his wounds. His bandages have been changed and properly applied. Same for the leg. He looked around as much as the bindings let him. The room was made from some smooth grey material. The whole room was huge. The ceiling was at almost 7 meters high. One wall was over 10 meters long. One Autumn Leaf didn’t know what shape this place had but he guessed it was a square. In every corner were a few cameras to cover all the angles.

‘This doesn’t look good.’ He thought.

He heard a door opening behind him. Heavy footsteps were followed by a bit lighter ones and by someone walking in heels.

SMACK!

Something long hit him in his back. He surged forward as far as chains let him. Which wasn’t much. He wheezed as the pain radiated on his backside.

Before him, appeared a large man that could easily rival Desert Dust with his sheer muscle mass. In his hand laid One Autumn Leaf’s lance. Besides that, he had a heavy armour used for avatar hunting.

‘Fucking great.’

Next, standing was a man dressed in a suit. Ordinary looking but clearly he was the one in charge. One with money.

The last one was a woman in a lab coat with a crazed look on her face. When she noticed him looking at her, she started to write frantically on her notepad.

The man in a suit stepped forward with a smile plastered on his face.

“I will be your new master. Form a bond with me and you will be let free.”

One Autumn Leaf looked up at him through his bangs. ‘As if I would believe him.’ “No.”

Apparently, that was a bad answer because the instant he uttered this word, he was slapped so hard that for a second he thought his jaw dislocated. The slap was followed by a hit to his wounded stomach. He hung his head low, gasping loudly.

“Don’t worry Mister Ye. By the time we finish with him, he will beg for you to bond with him. This is what we agreed on after all.” Said the bulky man who hit him.

“Ah, yes. How long will it take? I will need him for my next meeting.” Said the man in a suit.

“This one might be tougher than the ones we usually work with. It survived with such extensive wounds and was also able to deal with at least 1 000 hunters from the special force. When we tame it, it will be beneficial for our country. Moreover…” she looked down at him. “This one might actually possess some intelligence. It was able to mislead its pursuers for a few months. Judging on its state, it will take around a week.” She said with a sickening gleam in her eyes.

“Splendid! I will leave it in your capable hands then!” Said Mister Ye with happiness dancing in his eyes. After saying that he went out.

“Shame it’s so beaten up. I am itching to perform a vivisection.~” Said, woman, while sighing and heading to the doors.

“Let’s just go with the usual and be done with this.” Said the man while following her.

Meanwhile, One Autumn Leaf tried very hard not to panic.

After living through the first wave of torture, his oppressors left him alone. One might think it’s stupid to leave something so dangerous without supervision but One Autumn Leaf was so weak now that he couldn’t even move.

They started slowly. Started with beating, waterboarding and finished with electrocuting him. At the end seeing that he hadn’t started screaming, they left the electric device to send an impulse every 10 seconds. Just so that he won’t fall asleep.

After they left, he could almost hear as the electrical surge went through the collar and chains across his body. At the beginning, they made the dose too high and had to take a break because his spasm reopened his wounds. Now they were perfect.

After what seemed like few days (but was in fact just a few hours), the electrical device was turned off. Not a minute later, someone walked not the room. He didn’t recognise these steps.

He looked up to see a child’s face. ‘A kid too? Just how wicked is the human race?!’ He thought.

He expected that this child will take out some torture device and have his fun but was surprised when a warm hand reached out to sweep the bangs from where they fell to hide his face.

“You poor thing. What did they do to you?” The kid mumbled softly.

One Autumn Leaf stared at him with a mouth opened as this child, no more than 14 years old, tried to open his shackles. He almost succeeded. Almost.

A man in a suit came over with another, similarly looking, child, clutched in his hand.

The humans argued, the older slapped the child and took it out with him. The electrical surges soon came back.

 

One Autumn Leaf couldn’t stop thinking about the little human. After all, it honestly tried to help him get out of here.

For now, he was kind of thankful that he was in such a bad shape. The crazy woman kept complaining about not being able to perform any experiments on him because of that. But that didn’t stop her from groping him everywhere. By everywhere, he meant inside too. When she threw a thick tube down his throat, he honestly started to cry thinking she tries to kill him for good. Turned out she was ‘just’ curious about how his maw works…

After every day, the torture was more and more intense. After the third day, he started to scream. A music to their ears considering their happy faces.

After the fourth one, a loud bang could be heard from above.

Everything around him went dark.

Doors opened. Someone ran in with a flashlight. It was the same child from before. And he didn’t recognise it because of the hand imprint on its cheek but because of the aura.

The child was panicking, fumbling with the keys in its hands. After excruciating minutes, he was freed. After that, he was grabbed by hand and almost dragged away towards the exit. Through all of this, the kid said nothing.

When they reached the ground floor, he found the reason why the child was in such a panic. It seems that some avatar broke loose and started to tear the mansion bit by bit. He could see a body of the bulky guy lying on the floor slowly disintegrating.

One Autumn leaf could see that this spirit lost his mind. A blademaster suddenly stopped and turned around towards them. With a crazed look, the avatar attacked them with a loud battle cry.

One Autumn Leaf quickly hid the kid behind him. It was all he could do as a return for freeing him.

Magic Shield followed by a Falling Flower Palm. The enemy fell down. Fire Chaser formed.

“Ye Xiu! Run!” Screamed a female voice.

He charged at the blademaster. The other clearly has gone mad and will be able to use only basic attacks. One Autumn Leaf might be extremely weak now but it’s still enough for him to beat a crazed avatar with his bare hands and magic.

But something was wrong.

Shadow Steps. The Blademaster suddenly used shadow steps. Thankfully, only 2 afterimages were formed. He didn’t notice another Battlemage coming from behind.

“Look out!” Screamed the child and lunged itself on him, bringing them down just in time to avoid a Double Stab.

‘Ah. The woman must be dead too.’ Right now, they were in extreme danger. He can take on one crazed idiot but two idiots using skills? Impossible.

Somehow, he managed to manoeuvre himself and the child glued to him without gaining any damage.

But that seemed far from over. He was already standing up again with a help of a wall when the kid brought him down again. A light ray swept through, killing the two avatars.

“Thanks… uuh” He said glancing at the child.

“Ye Xiu. You’re welcome.” Ye Xiu said with a small smile. He smiled back.

He looked at the place from where the ray came out and his smile fell instantly. Special anti-avatar hunter unit.

“Stay here.” He said to the child, while slowly rising.

“Stay where the fuck you are standing you DEMON!” A guy with a gun screamed.

“No! There is my child! Don’t shoot!” Screamed a female again. ‘It must be Madame Ye.’

A man standing beside the entrance took out his gun and pointed at him.

BANG!

One Autumn Leaf was staring as Ye Xiu was falling down before him. The kid saved him, while sacrificing its own life. This kid saved him for the third time. This time by paying the highest price. It was as if time itself stopped. ‘No.’ The only person who wasn’t afraid of him and valued his life so high.

‘No. I won’t let it end this way.’

He threw himself forward to catch him. He didn’t hear the chaos around, people screaming, a woman crying. He had eyes only on Ye Xiu.

One Autumn Leaf laid him down on the battered floor and reached for his right hand.

‘If this manages to save him… please let it work.’ He thought with a tear running down his cheek.

After that, a pillar of light so bright formed around them, that it could be spotted from the satellite.

 


 

 

A few weeks later New Ye residence

“Are you crazy?” One Autumn Leaf asked.

“I won’t let Ye Qiu destroy his own life. I at least have a plan.” Told him Ye Xiu while throwing something towards the backpack stolen from Ye Qiu’s room.

“Will you even listen to my arguments?”

“I can listen but won’t consider them. Ah, there it is.”

One Autumn Leaf looked curiously at the small human before him. It was a cookie jar. Ye Xiu looked at him with that face again.

“I am going and you are going with me or else…” One Autumn leaf looked at him slightly afraid of what might he say next.

“I will take all the cookies.” Ye Xiu said with eyes shining in mirth.  

 

And this is how our journey started.

With cookies.