Chapter 69 Cheating Death – Decisions (Part 5)
Hannah had passed out in fear as she fell from the cliff. After spending hours running without rest, mentally scared out of her wits, physically tortured by her brother who was controlled by some super powered freak, on the verge of death, emotionally prepared to die, then emotionally punched in the gut as she healed while her brother died in her arms to give her life. Hannah had been emotionally and physically drained.
Once Daichi froze her in place, her overwhelming fear caused by being being in a state of catatonia and unable to move as she’d been tortured triggered a natural response that made her mind go blank. In that state of overwhelming fear, she’d been dropped off a cliff overwhelming her completely.
She was only awake for a second and as soon as Daichi let her go over the cliff her mind called it quits. It was just too much for her to handle as she passed out.
Fortunately for Hannah and unfortunately for her companions, she was the first to regain consciousness.
After dropping Ava off the cliff and shortly after jumping himself. Daichi could only try to get into a ball and hope for the best as he fell long enough to give him enough time to settle his mind but as he realized even with time, his heartbeat and fear weren’t going to slow down at all.
It was only as he was near the trees that a cold feeling enveloped him as he lost consciousness.
Even as Hannah woke up she began patting down her body until Hannah realized she was fine, her clothes torn in multiple places but no wounds.
For a few moments Hannah held the hope that everything she suddenly remembered had just been cruel nightmare. She stared down at the ring on her finger, stopping herself from checking the contents afraid of what she knew she was going to find. After minutes of hesitation she finally checked, and her heart fell as she found what she knew was going to be there; Kaden’s body.
Taking some time to acknowledge the events that occurred Hannah ignored her surroundings and felt her emotions as she tried to settle them down. The grief she felt was overwhelming and it temporarily staunched everything else.
Finally coming to her senses as she donned the realization that the pain she was feeling was not going to go away, possibly ever. She took the time to notice her surroundings.
Not too far from her, She noticed Ava. Ava was still unconscious but considering that they had fallen a huge distance it wasn’t too shocking to Hannah. What did trigger a sense of curiosity (however mild) was how they had survived that fall.
When Daichi had thrown her off the cliff she’d been sure he was trying to kill her. Now as she stared at Ava’s unhurt body and looked down at herself, she realized that he must have had a plan.
Thinking about Daichi made her grief only grow as she thought about Kaden dying. The self-loathing he exhibited before he passed. The injustice of his death made her bite down on her lower lip until she drew blood and only that sliver of pain finally brought her back to her senses.
Looking at Ava softened Hannah’s gaze. She didn’t realize it at the moment, but she herself felt responsible for Kaden’s actions. She’d been looking after Kaden much the same as her mother had looked after her after she’d passed, making her feel responsible for anything Kaden ever did wrong or out of place.
Instead of focusing on the things out of her control, Hannah decided to focus on the girl in front of her. She had been hurt by Kaden and had been made to become just as much of a victim as she had.
Thinking back to the entire journey they’d shared thus far Hannah realized that Ava would feel something similar to herself when she came too. She’d done everything she could to stay alive.
There was no way she would just be okay with everything that had happened when she woke up. She’d be infuriated, hurt, angry, scared, shaken, ashamed but most of all, she was sure that Ava would want revenge. The power to achieve that revenge and to take back her own dignity.
She was sure about all of those things because those were the things that would be overwhelming her if she didn’t have grief pressing down on her heart.
After deciding on what she would do, she finally took a look around her at her surroundings. Much like everywhere else they had wandered, she saw trees. Nearly the same looking trees… Perhaps taller and sturdier than the trees above. Except out in the distance she could see a mist.
Shuddering for some real as if a chill had passed through her body. Hannah dismissed it as a lingering fear of what had already happened.
Hannah sat down beside Ava and stroked her hair as she waited for Ava to wake up.
“I’ll wait as long as it takes” Ava thought.
Fluorescent dots of light flooded Daichi’s vision as he felt a coldness in his entire body that made him feel as if that coldness was coming from his insides rather than the outside.
Moving his hand to cover his already closed eyes, Daichi finally tried opening his eyes slowly, only to have his eyes bombarded by light.
Flinching and turning away, Daichi allowed his eyes to adjust as he lifted himself up and sat upright with his back to a tree. His eyes finally adjusting to the light, Daichi inspected his body to find everything in one piece and unhurt.
Surprise showed on his expression even though he had expected things to somehow work out.
“There was no way that, that guy was going to just make us jump to our deaths. I was fairly certain of it… Fairly…” Daichi thought as he spoke the words aloud.
Looking around he noticed there was no one around, and oddly enough it was nighttime and the moon was out. There was no bright light to be seen, which suddenly made Daichi wonder why his eyes had been so bothered by light.
Sitting there against the tree, Daichi finally allowed himself to feel the exhaustion that had been building up swallow him whole. Instead of thinking about what to do or whereto go, Daichi merely closed his eyes and allowed himself to fall asleep.
Instead of feeling fear of his surroundings, anticipation over what would come next or hesitation to stay in the open seemingly exposed to anything that could walk by and spot him. Daichi felt at ease, for whatever reason he felt at peace as if he was safe right now.
That feeling of safety let him drift off into sleep almost instantly.
Within his mind, Daichi drifted about in a sea of clouds over looking a beautiful forest. In fact it was strange because even as he drifted on the clouds he was facing downwards staring at the earth, but his back felt as if gravity was pulling him the other way.
The contradiction didn’t faze him as if it was overlooked because it was what it should have been, rather than the oddity it was.
Overlooking the forest beneath him, Daichi lazily made out a forest so large that it spanned his entire line of sight regardless of which direction he looked. The forest expanse was wide and the trees so beautiful from above.
Rather than the majesty of the forest Daichi was amused at how he saw the beauty before his eyes and felt it rather than just thinking the words. He was looking at something that should be beautiful and genuinely believed it to be as well, he was appreciating something for it’s innate beauty.
Wondering what had come over him, Daichi’s eyes were inevitably drawn to an area far off into the distance, but as his eyes focused on that area his body seemed to disappear into the clouds and reappear in the clouds over that area.
Gazing downwards Daichi only saw an endless fog, and a calling. The fog or something inside of it was calling him, it’s desire for Daichi to come towards it evident in Daichi’s thoughts. Something within Daichi was resonating just as strongly, making him want to go to it just as much as it wanted him to go.
Something about the fog just seemed so familiar, as if it was a part of himself. A part of himself that was and wasn’t him. That was familiar and wasn’t. It was a contradiction.
Allowing that resonating sensation to grow stronger, Daichi could almost feeling his body being pulled forward as his eyes blinked open waking up from his dream.
Staring ahead of himself as the light bombarded him. Daichi shut his eyes again and slowly opened them letting his eyes adjust, as he looked up at the sun. He’d slept the entire night.
Suddenly Daichi felt like the dream, or perhaps the sleep itself had somehow been a novelty. As he thought that, it dawned on him that he hadn’t truly slept since he’d learned how to enter a meditative state. Now for the first time Daichi wondered whether or not sleeping for a prolonged period of time could truly be substituted by meditating. He was still human after all.
Instead of thinking too deeply about the matter, Daichi decided he would sleep when he could and train the rest of the time. It was rare for him to believe he was safe.
Wondering why he’d felt that way his mind naturally drifted back to what he’d dreamed, and Daichi’s mind began to wonder if the mist like area from his dream was the same area he’d seen from high above on the cliff.
Daichi’s entire body was almost shuddering from anticipation as he realized that he needed to go there. He didn’t just want to go there out of curiosity. It was as if he felt fate was telling him that it was where he needed to go.
Standing up and gazing around and finding nothing particularly out of place, and his items still on his person, ring still in place. Daichi was about to leave when his gaze returned to the ring. Taking a moment to look through the ring, Daichi’s mind stopped on several books and one in particular.
He’d glanced over a few books, and even found a “Skill book” but that was not what had drawn his attention. It was a very thin book that only had a few pages.
Feeling the need to pull the book out of the ring, it appeared on his ring hand and he stared at the simple leather cover. The cover was leather… but it didn’t feel right. The texture felt less like hide and more like stretched skin. Finding the sensation odd, Daichi opened the book and stared at the first page.
He read the words aloud and began to wonder whether he had missed something.
“The loftiness of one’s soul is correlated to the experience and wisdom gained.
It is only through action that wisdom can be attained, but action in it of itself does not necessarily merit the gain of wisdom.
A reaction to an action equates to a separate experience but added experience doesn’t result in a given.
The soul is meant to expand and grow. The soul is meant to last forever, but never in the same vessel.
The soul moves through time, unblemished but changing.
The experiences shaping it’s essence. Turning it pure or other.
The essence of immortality lies in the soul attaining enlightenment. Challenging the order of the universe.
The process of understanding the secrets is the process of the alchemy of the soul.
The universe itself has rules. The universe demands everything have a beginning and eventually an end.
All that has an end must have a beginning. All that has a beginning will inevitably end.
This is a decree that cannot be changed. Immortals pursue the path against the tides.
The tides can only move forward. The soul can never stay still.”
Finishing the words on the page Daichi felt enlightened. His memories of the past clear. He realized that he’d shut himself from the world when he’d felt abandoned. When he’d felt his father’s hatred for him, he’d been so hurt because he understood that his father was the only one who should never feel that way towards him but he did. He’d shut himself away and locked himself inside of a cage he’d created himself.
He felt clear about himself then and now. He was not himself. He was not emotionless but now he seemingly was. He’d been detached and cold before but that was because he tried be cold and felt detached. Now he was detached and cold. He was the things he would have become had he kept living his life that way.
It was as if he’d walked an entire path and reached its conclusion before getting to make the decisions on the way that would have shaped where he ended up and Daichi realized it all now.
Everything began when the sky had turned dark and he’d thought he died. When his attribute changed, when not only the world changed but something changed him.
Realizing this train of thought had merit, Daichi came to the conclusion that he didn’t just think he died. He had died.
He had died and come back… Differently.
After reading the words he forgot them immediately. But…
Something in his mind was triggered. Something inside of him suddenly felt clearer, awake.