Lord Grim didn’t remember how long he has been detained in the facility. Was it a week? A month? A year?
He just knew that every day was worse than the previous one. And he was surprised it was even possible after what they have done to him in the span of the first few days.
They tried to bond him with some humans but the fools usually disappeared in minutes or days. They tried using “breaking” but he somehow nullified the effect and returned the strain of the bond onto the handler. Even like that, Lord Grim was too strong to be bonded.
When he was conscious enough to look around when they dragged him through the empty corridors, he noted with horror that he wasn’t the only one here. There were others. The ones who fought against him, the ones who fought arm in arm with him and the ones that stayed neutral. All in one place.
Some were relatively fine. Some were clearly dying.
And when he looked at them through the Venice glass, he could see how hopeless they were.
They were broken.
Lord Grim could understand the hatred the humans had for him. After all, he killed thousands. But some of the avatars that he recognised, were pacifists. He didn’t understand why would they torture the innocent ones.
He couldn’t speak because of the strange device but he could see and hear the ‘scientists’ as the humans in white coats called themselves. And he listened.
They really had no idea how avatars work. They knew only the basics. That… and how they can phase through solid objects.
That’s why they were taking apart the spirits now.
He always knew he is deemed to be different from others. After all, he is one of the first ones that appeared in this world. A ‘Prometheus’ generation. He is the only one that is still alive.
Then there were the eight from the first generation. Those were similar to him but yet so different. The main difference was their classes. What was strange through that one of these was created out of part of his own soul. That was how his brother was created.
Then there were next generations. These were also different from the first bunch. He knew that, although it was hard to spot the signs.
Yet, knowing it and listening to the list of differences between him and the latest generation was concerning, to say the least.
Lord Grim was a hermaphrodite. He knew that. The latest ones weren’t. He knew that. He was grateful to hear they didn’t manage to get their hands on the first generation. He knew they were like him too.
Apparently, that was a shocking discovery for those humans.
And when he heard what they did to some female spirits… if he could, he would probably puke.
They drugged them, cut them to see the full shape of their reproductive organs. Lord Grim listened with horror when they congratulated themselves on ‘successful artificial penetration and closer examination’.
When they cut him up for 10th? 20th time? They were surprised to see the same organs from both genders. Fully functioning.
It was too tempting, wasn't it?
One day they took him to a different room after injecting him with some strange substance that made him choke from the increased pain. It was as if he became hypersensitive. At the same time, he couldn't willingly move a muscle. All his moves were purely instinctual and he couldn't control it. They also took away the… the thing that disabled his ability to talk. Not that he could now anyway. But he could finally take a deep breath. And it hurt. He forgot that they cut out part of his lung too.
The new room… It still had a metal table but it was much narrower. There were even more mirrors that he now knew were actually thick windows. One on ceiling and two on his sides. They took off whatever clothes he had on himself and chained his hands above his head. That hurt quite a bit. His head lolled to the side against his will. He was confused when they chained his legs, not to the table but spread them wide and chained to the ground on each side. They cut him up so many times now, that it was agonizing for his drugged body to be stretched like that.
He couldn’t help but whine from pain. He felt blood trickling down from his nose. That got one of the humans’ attention. He saw one of them hastily grabbing his head to check whether his eyes are dilated before he lost consciousness.
“Hello~ brother~” Lord Grim heard a familiar voice coming from his right side. He sighed tiredly and turned away from his work to look at his younger brother.
He flew from his chair along with a person that ran at him with full force. He could only hopelessly watch as his meticulously gathered and written notes went flying and scattered everywhere.
“Would it HURT YOU TO SAY HELLO LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!?”
"It would be an unbearable experience.” One Autumn Leaf said grinning like an idiot.
He was so cheerful then.
“What are you working on again?” The other looked around at the notes while still sitting on his older brother who was glaring up at him unamused.
“I WAS working on a new set of armour before you bargained in.” That snatched One Autumn Leaf’s attention back to him.
“Again? For who this time?”
“Let me help gather the notes and get off me, then maybe I will show you.”
One Autumn Leaf happily complied and removed himself from Lord Grim. After gathering all of them, the younger avatar curiously kept looking above his shoulder to see what he was working on.
“Woah.” He said when he saw a set of obsidian armour with golden rims. There were also finished notes about battle lance. “Is it for me? Please say it’s for me!” One Autumn Leaf started whining and shaking his brother, while the other rolled his eyes at his antics and gave him the notes.
“Yes, yes, this is for you. It’s lighter and stronger at the same time. It also covers more body for protection. A bit more and it would be too heavy. The only limitations are materials. They are a nightmare to gather." He said while chuckling at how One Autumn Leaf's eyes sparkled with joy.
“We are losing him!”
“Give me one of the confiscated red potions! Hurry!”
“It’s you?” Lord Grim looked up from where he was laying. He could barely believe his eyes. The one who attacked him so fiercely was…
“One Autumn Leaf?” he winced at how raspy was his voice.
“What are you doing here?” Lord Grim could only gape at the other’s appearance when asked. The energy was literally pouring off him. Not only he grew in power but also his appearance changed. The last time he saw his brother, he had a coat with furry lines, double coloured lance and black fitting leather costume adorned with silver accessories. Now he looked nothing like the person he once knew.
He had a black battle lance with a red gem shining wickedly. Instead of a coal-black coat, he had a scarlet cape with a golden clip. Instead of leather and cloth he now wore a jet black light armour and under armour with golden rims.
There was a scowl on his face.
Why did it have to change? What did I do wrong?
“…and never, ever, ever do this bond with a human. Better not to do this bond at all.” Lord Grim finished his long lecture about types of bonds.
“Why not?” One Autumn Leaf looked at him sceptically.
"Because Blood Bond is special. It's life for life. You will be theirs and they will be yours. You would belong to each other. Between avatars, if one dies, the other does too. With human… if the human dies, avatar dies too but if the avatar dies… human will live. That’s a simple waste of one’s life.”
One Autumn Leaf was thinking hard what to say before he asked.
“And what if they are special enough?”
“Blood Bond is like a promise. It’s a promise to live and die together. When we love, we love unconditionally, until death and beyond. Humans just move on and don’t die from this bond. When they die, we die for them but when we die, humans don’t die for us. It says something.”
“Stabilizing my ass! He has internal bleeding! Where the hell is that potion!”
One Autumn Leaf…
He was healthy. Too healthy for someone who was running away for all this time. That could mean only one thing… Lord Grim took a quick look at where his weapon was laying and then he looked at the boy behind One Autumn Leaf. Then it all clicked. The barrier was nothing else but a Magic Shield. ‘Their auras are entwined…’ he noted with horror. A Blood Bond.
What did I do wrong!?
Lord Grim woke up with a gasp. Everything hurt. He was still chained in the same position but this time he could move on his own.
He looked around to see that one of the humans was in the middle of chaining down his right leg and finished just in time to see Lord Grim moving it to see the whole range of movement, which he concluded was almost non-existent.
The human looked down at him with a strange look on her face and turned to one of the cameras.
“Subject S-000 is ready for experimentation.”
“Proceed.” Said a baritone voice from the speakers.
The woman nodded after a moment and turned to Lord Grim who was now watching himself in one of the mirrors.
He could see that the red scars faded and he didn’t look as sickly as before. ‘A potion… was I really dying?’
The human came closer to him and injected him with a different substance than previously. This one only heightened his senses and didn't make him weaker as the previous one did. Then he was blindfolded.
He felt as someone ran a finger across his body. This and the cold table made him shiver. He was painfully aware that he was lying naked on a steel table. Not a second later hands in rubber gloves grabbed his thighs and pinned them down.
And then he felt something big and cold being pushed into him.
A blonde man walked into the room in which “scientists” were watching one of the spirits being… well… he wasn’t curious about it.
They were so engrossed in watching and writing down notes that they didn’t notice their guest. He cleared his throat.
One of the men in lab coats turned to him with a smile.
"Oh, Mister Su!” They started nervously. “You are much earlier than we anticipated! If you will excuse us, we are still in the middle of experimentation! Please come back for the subject next week!”
Mister Su only crossed his arms and to the scientists fear, walked closer towards the window. His eyes widened at what he saw.
Seeing the shock on his face, one of the scientists hastily explained not to worry and that this avatar is surprisingly a hermaphrodite.
Another lab coat happily added that the subject was a virgin and they can’t wait to analyse the information gathered from this experiment.
That unfortunately only further drained the colour from their guest’s face.
He came here as a head of a family with one of the highest resistance to avatars’ bond effects. When he asked about the spirit he was to receive, they told him to head here. He didn’t expect to see a naked avatar, with a body littered in so many scars that it scared him, crying, writhing and arching its back in both pain and pleasure.
He hastily walked out to calm down. His wife who arrived with him but headed to ask about some things about to be their new avatar found him in a hallway. They both knew what people do with spirits but actually seeing it is entirely different.
Mister Su could only wonder how an avatar so damaged managed to stay strong enough to decline even a ‘breaking' bond. Not to mention that he was informed about the weapon this avatar carried. According to the hunters, it's an umbrella that changes forms to weapons from all classes. The spirit itself seems to be classless. He heard about such avatars but they were not only extremely weak but also didn't have such a weapon. ‘Interesting.'
So these were his reasons to be here:
- To be an aid for his country by claiming and taming a powerful avatar.
- To get this weapon.
Ye Xiu woke up abruptly, trying to catch his breath. He looked around to see the same cluttered room. He turned his eyes towards the card silently laying on the desk. Lord Grim’s card.
When he first saw this card in Muqiu’s hand, he knew that there is something wrong with it. His intuition was proven right when One Autumn Leaf saw Muqiu working on a strange weapon. An umbrella that could change shape. He barely stopped his avatar from ripping his friend into bits when they walked into Muqiu working on it.
It resulted in One Autumn Leaf not wanting to move away from the card for the next three days and then crying for the next few weeks because it was as if Lord Grim’s aura was barely there, Muqiu being scarred for life after seeing first hand how terrifying his friend's avatar can be, and Ye Xiu having no idea what to do.
Muqiu didn’t know what happened to Lord Grim before his parents gave the card to him and told to keep working on the umbrella. That alone was suspicious. The second suspicious thing was that avatar was locked deep inside the card. The only time One Autumn Leaf did so was when he was heavily wounded and needed some time to regenerate.
Now that he is actually using this card he is more or less bonded to it. Today was even worse than yesterday. It was as if trying to move a giant rock. It felt as if the avatar didn’t want to move. This in itself was a miracle. It meant that the avatar inside is still alive.
After being blood bonded he started receiving dreams that were part of One Autumn Leaf’s life.
He was barely bonded with Lord Grim, so he was surprised to see his point of view. And it only reinforced his second theory about why Lord Grim locked himself deep inside the card.
He was barely alive.