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CHAPTER 148

YESTERYEAR (IV)

Sitting at the edge of a snowy cliff, with a pair of legs dangling over, was a boy seemingly around twelve. He had relatively long, unruly hair and a pair of jet-black eyes that were currently watching the snowflakes plummet to the ground, adding atop an already sizeable amount. Trees around him were withered, snow already knee-deep, yet he seemed to hardly mind the decadent cold despite somewhat lacking clothes.

He sat with his gloved hands perched back as to sustain him, head angled lightly toward the sky, as though he was wondering when it would stop snowing. He sat so for nearly half an hour, in complete silence, before suddenly sighing and getting up. Leaving behind imprints in the snow, he moved to a nearby forest on a downward decline leading to the small town roofed white.

Moving next to a tall oak tree with a thick trunk, he crouched and shoved his arm into the snow beneath, scattering it away before beginning to dig into a half-frosted earth. It took him awhile but he showed no signs of impatience. Beneath the earth, a glint of silver flashed for a moment as he hastened his movement, unearthing a short dagger, slightly rusted at edges. He looked over it a few times before tucking it into a furred vest and heading further downhill.

He entered the town calmly, with streets mostly deserted. Only occasional kid raced and laughed amidst the horizon’s white, their rosy cheeks sticking out like blood. The boy moved until he was out of everyone’s view before ducking into an alleyway and stealthily beginning to crawl and sneak through the streets, soon reaching a rather tall and well-endowed building made of stone.

Glancing over a meter tall fence, he saw a couple of rabid dogs chewing on bones just near the main entrance to the building. He ducked back down and moved around till he reached the back end of the courtyard. Pausing, he pressed his hand against the wall and began to seemingly feel something over its surface as he inched forward. Suddenly stopping, he crouched and began to move away snow which was piled beneath. Soon, the muddy brown of earth surfaced, but he didn’t stop. Rather, reaching into his vest, he took out a small, hand-sized makeshift shovel and shoved it directly into earth.

He began doing it repeatedly as the cluster of smoke lifting off his lips rumbled into the sky, his eyelashes trembling as the first sign of frost began appearing on them. He dug for nearly half an hour before a hole suddenly opened beneath him, like a pit, just large enough to fit him whole. A faint smile escaped his lips as he jumped in, but didn’t crawl further.

He huddled against the earth and brought his legs into his chest, trying to warm up, his eyes veering up, outside the hole, into the sky. He watched the somewhat gray clouds turn darker and darker as the day descended and night arose from its troves. Though he trembled and his jaw crackled and his nose wept and his limbs grew frigid, his expression remained placid, almost akin to the snow itself. Cold... distant... aloof in a strange, ethereal way.

Seeing the moon crawl out from behind the clouds, round like a circle, casting faint, silver light over the ever expanding landscape of the world, the boy suddenly moved. He got down on all fours and began crawling through a rather narrow tunnel, barely fitting his size. It was completely dark, as dark as the world without any source of light could get. He didn’t close his eyes, choosing to stare at the darkness in a childish sort of defiance.

He crawled for less than a minute before he reached a bump whereupon he took out that same, small shovel and began hitting the earth above him. Over and over, it began slowly crumbling, large chunks of frozen parts squarely hitting him in the face, even opening several gashes. Yet not a wince of pain sounded out in the brewing chaos. Bit by bit, hole opened up and a faint cascade of light managed to pierce through, revealing his frosted face, chilled with scarlet blood all over.

Seeing the first ray of light arrive, he sped up, till a similarly-sized hole to the one he entered during the day opened up, allowing him slowly crawl out. That large fence reaching nearly three meters behind the building was now behind him. He found himself in a somewhat crowded backyard, with firewood scattered amidst the animal bones and unrefined timber.

He didn’t pay much attention to it, however, looking at the piled firewood and slowly climbing it, using a extrusion from the wall where the floors broke off to propel himself upward. A low grunt echoed out into the otherwise silent night as he grit his teeth and endured the pain enriching his muscles. He grabbed at a window frame with both his hands quickly and pulled himself up, looking through it.

The room was entirely dark, and it didn’t seem as though anyone lived in it. The boy took a deep breath and lowered himself down, suddenly letting go with one of his hands, with pressure increasing greatly on the other. He quickly reached into the vest and took out a small patch of thick, woolen cloth and brought it up to his mouth, holding it with his teeth as he grabbed at the ledge with both hands yet again.

He was forced to take deep breaths through his nose, causing him to close his eyes and force a sneeze back. With teeth tightly gripping at the cloth, he pulled himself up again, placing forearm over the ledge and fumbling over to grab at the piece of cloth from his mouth. He then pressed it against the window and took a deep breath before closing his eyes and striking directly with his head.

The window cracked almost immediately, and though the sound was loud, it was still somewhat contained. He quickly looked around and waited for a moment, but seeing as there was no sound of anyone coming over, he reached through the hole and unlocked the window from the inside, opening it. He used the last ounce of strength to pull himself over and land onto the floorboards, immediately leaning against the wall, panting furiously.

Holding onto his chest, he rested for a moment before forcing himself to get up. He was already feeling drowsy; he knew he couldn’t allow himself to lull away any further. Though the floor beneath creaked ever so often, it wasn’t too loud. As he reached the doors to the room, he once again reached into his vest and took out the small, rusty dagger, gripping its handle tightly into his right hand.

Opening the doors as carefully as possible, he tucked his head out into the hallway and looked left and right. There was no light anywhere to be found, causing him to furrow his brows. He took a careful step forward and left the room. His heart suddenly froze as he noticed light flicker from behind him; he quickly tried to turn around and run back into the room, but a flat, wooden pole came diving down, hitting him squarely over his nose.

Lino cried out as he felt the force push him down, rolling backwards several times before stopping. However, just as he was about to get up in an attempt to run away, he felt a stinky, large hand press against his chest and a face heave over his, illuminated darkly by a faint light of the lantern. It was a familiar face, face he had seen numerous times throughout the twelve years of his life in the town.

Old, wrinkled, double-chinned, with yellowed beard and a breath stinking of alcohol. Lino’s eyes exploded with unbridled rage, yet there was little his tiny, underfed body could do under such pressure. He tried to wriggle himself out until he felt a knee press against his stomach, nearly suffocating him immediately.

“Ha... ha ha ha,” the man suddenly burst out into maddened laughter as he finally got a good look of the face beneath a makeshift, thin hood. “I-I thought it might be some assassin, ha ha ha, but look, ha ha, it’s a scrawny kid!! Ha ha ha... though, gotta admire you for breaking all the way here. You really have some talent, y’know?”

“...” Lino couldn’t reply due to the hand covering his mouth, but he did his best to convey what he had to say through his eyes.

“He he, look at you... it’s been four years, y’know?” the man said as he suddenly licked his lips strangely. “Aah... I still haven’t forgiven you... for taking away such pure flower... he he... she was like a fine ale, boy. Like a fine ale.” Lino once again began thumping furiously to free himself, despite the pain. “Ha ha, look at you, like a little worm. What can you do, eh? Bastard!” the man pressed his knee deeper into Lino’s stomach, causing the latter to gag and gargle for a moment as the corners of his eyes turned tearful due to pain. His arms and legs once again turned limp and no matter how much he forced them, they didn’t seem to respond to his call.

“...”

“... eh, now that I look at ya’,” the man drew in closer suddenly, merely inches away from Lino’s face. “You ain’t half-bad yourself. Not bad. Fair. Ah... fair.” he stuck his tongue out and lashed it over Lino’s cheek, causing the latter to shiver and goosebumps to overrun his body. “Tastes... like snow.” the man grumbled as his lips curled up into a smile. “What does the rest of ya’ taste like, eh?” Lino suddenly panicked, his eyes turning into eggs as he began wriggling yet again. “Ha ha, you’re---AAGGH!!!” he finally managed to angle his right hand which held the dagger properly and stabbed at the man’s thigh, doing so repeatedly. “AAAGH!! B-BASTARD!! F-FUCK!!” Barry suddenly rolled over as he grasped at his thigh, releasing Lino in the process and letting go of the lantern. The flames blazed out momentarily, but Lino ignored them.

Taking the opportunity, he leaped over to the cradled man who held onto several holes on his thigh and stabbed again, this time aiming at his arms. Barry cried out as he tried to swat away the stick-thin arm, but to no avail. Lino stabbed like mad, screaming to his fullest. Arm... stomach... chest... face... neck... soon, Barry bled out of every part of his body. As he lay listless on the floor, staring terrifying at the bloodied face of a crazed boy, he saw Lino squat next to his crotch. Panic assailed him, yet his body wouldn’t respond. Lino stabbed forth, desecrating and mutilating the man’s genitalia till nothing but gore remained.

Barry was already whimpering, yet Lino ignored silent pleas for mercy; while fire behind him blazed in hellish glory, quickly spreading, he lowered the dagger further down and pressed forth, skewering the hole beneath. Deeper. Rougher. Wider. He shoved it as deep as it could go and slowly got up. Barry was trembling, barely able to keep his eyes open as he stared at Lino in utter terror.

The two pairs of eyes met; one jet-black and one faintly hazel. The latter could not endure it; it felt like staring into the eyes of the devil himself, the creatures of ye old tales of the eons past, who would come from clutches of eternal flames to exact vengeance that was due. Barry truly believed in that moment that Lino wasn’t just another child; he believed the boy to be a devil, his fears only further fanned by flames blazing behind Lino. They besieged walls, creating this odd sort of a scenario whereupon they seemed to surround Lino from Barry’s point of view, but never stand in his path.

Lino would long be gone, but Barry wouldn’t recover from his fear. Not even when flames engulfed him whole and began burning him to a crisp. He didn’t weep, he didn’t cry or scream in anguish. It felt more like a release, being engulfed in hell’s flames, being torn away from the clutches of the devil himself. In his eyes, the fire that melted off his skin like butter was not the enemy - it was his savior.

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About the author

beddedOtaku

Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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