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A note from Prince Corwin

Thank you to Xhally, Arcane Snowman and my newest patron S4mur411

Many thanks to Azure Feather for editing the format of this chapter!

“Did you really just say that? ‘Let’s go hunting.’ That is just a little cheesy.” Rose says, standing up and putting on a backpack. “Do you have any idea where we are going to be ‘hunting’?”

Huh. I actually didn’t think of that. Teehee~♪.

When she sees my expression Rose laughs. “You’re lucky that I am here. I’ve been practicing with my abilities.” She pulls a map of this part of the city out from her purse, then takes off her necklace, holding it directly over the map. “You have no idea how many youtube videos I watched trying to figure out how to do this. What are we looking for exactly?”

I look at her in confusion. What is she doing? “Red Caps.”

“Let’s see if this works.” She says, shrugging. “[Scry, Monsters: Red Caps]” The bottom of the necklace is pulled towards a corner of the map, she moves her hand until the necklace points directly at a small park near my sister’s school.

Blake and Damien look at Rose wide eyed. “You can use magic too?” Damien whispers.

“Yeah. In a way.” Rose packs the map and keys back into her purse. She picks up her purse, standing up. “As Elena said, ‘let’s go hunting.’ Are you driving us Blake?.”

“I guess I will” Blake says, shrugging as he stands up “Unless any of you have a car?”

None of us answer as we leave the little Cafe. I shiver as a chill wind brushes by us, we don’t have much longer before winter hits.

“Why didn’t you show us your power before?” Blake asks Rose, pulling his coat tighter around himself.

“I just figured out my magic recently… Whoa. That is weird.” Rose answers.

“What is weird?” Blake opens the back door of his car for Rose and I.

Wow, sometimes I forget why Blake has had so many girlfriends. He is a natural gentleman.

“How I don’t want to tell you the whole truth, like something is affecting my very thoughts. This compulsion is weird.” Rose responds, moving into the car with a frown on her face. She continues “I’m all for making an entrance, but how are you guys expecting to fight the Red Caps? Using a gun in a public park doesn’t seem like the best idea.”

“You know what they say, ‘who doesn’t want to go out with a bang?’” I interrupt, sliding into the car next to her.

“I’d very much like to go without a bang.” Damien mutters from the front seat.

Blake gets into the driver’s seat. “This wasn’t my idea.” He says, starting the car, “I do have a crowbar in the back, but that only works for one of us.”

A smile grows on my face as I remember a certain item from my inventory. I pull out a wooden box with intricate carvings and hand it to Rose, “It’s about time you got a proper weapon anyway.” I say, letting her identify them.

I don’t have any use for them, I’ve never thrown a knife accurately in my life. I’d probably be more of a danger to my allies with those Throwing Knives, than a help.

Rose stares at the box curiously. “Identify box.” She says, bringing up a screen that only she can see.

I look out the window, my eyes going to the sky. Clouds cover the entire sky, turning the world a depressing gray. “I hope you guys brought umbrellas. It might rain on us.” I say with a smile.

I love the rain, something about it brings out the child in me. I’ve caught more than a few colds because I stayed out too long in the rain. The rain reminds me of laughter, play and a young man’s smile. A smile that I have forgotten in most other ways.

“I only have one umbrella, but we should be fine. I don’t think we will get any heavy rain.” Blake says, leaning on the wheel as he briefly looks up at the sky.

Rose opens the box, revealing twelve beautiful knives of different sizes. The same egyptian lettering that my gloves use, covers the handles of the knives and the center of their blades.

Rose whistles as she looks at them, “their beautiful” she says quietly.

Damien twists around in his seat to look at what caught Rose’s attention. “Wow. Where did you get those?” He asks.

“I stole them off of a dead guy.” I answer truthfully.

“Not funny.” Damien immediately responds.

“I wasn’t trying to be.” I mutter under my breath, my gaze turning back to the sky as small droplets begin to fall.

Blake pulls into a parking spot. The park where we stopped is fairly large, with a playground sitting in front of a small wooded area. Little paths go through the woods, leading to other parts of the park.

We all get out of the car as Blake grabs the umbrella and the crowbar he mentioned earlier.

I look up, ignoring what the others are doing as droplets land on my face.

“Don’t worry about Elena. She always does this when it rains.” I vaguely hear Blake tell Rose.

A touch on my arm brings my attention back to the real world. I look at Rose who is touching me, Blake and Damien leaning against the car behind them, sharing the umbrella. Damien is holding a wrench in his hands, while Blake taps his crowbar against the ground in a nervous habit.

“We should get going.” Rose says to me, smiling at my happy expression.

“Do you have any idea how to find them from here?” I ask her.

She shrugs.

I take a moment to think, before I remember something that I learned a lifetime ago. I enter a meditative state, before I use my communication chakra to bring my thoughts outside of their usual box. “[Telepathy]”.

My thoughts travel to the closest targets briefly touching in on them.

Rose: Telepathy? That is a pretty cool power. I hope she will teach me how to use it sometime soon.

Blake: Dad has been acting strange ever since that night. Almost… nice. It’s so unlike him.

Damien: How are those girls not freezing cold? They are just sitting there as the rain pours down on them.

I ignore the thoughts, recognizing who they are from as soon as I touch my friend’s minds. My targets should be farther out. I expand my mind, recognizing some homeless guy as he rests underneath a overhang.

Then I find them, most of their voices not nearly as loud as a humans. At first they sounded like animals, but their thoughts were too concise for that, too organized.

One of them watches the homeless man, it’s thoughts going to gruesome images. I sense six of them in the park, but one of them is different, it’s mind more advanced than the others, capable of complex thought. I force myself to not actually listen to its thoughts, they contain a darkness that I don’t want to hear.

All at once, I feel my body again, shivering slightly from the rain.

Opening my eyes, I briefly glance at the blue window that had appeared. “I found them. There are five normal ones and one slightly smarter one. The closest one is near the covered basketball courts.”

Blake pushes himself off of the car, Damien hurriedly following him so that he can stay under the umbrella. “What are we waiting for then?” Blake asks.

I let Blake take the lead as I turn my attention to the blue window.

■ - ☼ - ■

Thanks to your ingenuity, you have gained the skill [Psychic Search]

■ - ☼ - ■

“[Define ‘Psychic Search’]”

■ - ☼ - ■

Psychic Search: allows you to find nearby creatures and read their surface thoughts.

■ - ☼ - ■

Blake stops in front of us, staring at the creature which is now standing over a bloody mess.

“Shit.” I say, recognizing the scattered body parts. It was the homeless man. My thoughts focus in on the creature as a strange feeling fills my being.

The creature dips its hair into the puddle of blood it had created, not even looking at us, confident in its ability to be invisible.

A crooked smile appears on my face as water pours down it. “[Unmatchable Speed]” I say, disappearing from the spot I was standing.

I appear in front of it, my fist moving towards its face. My punch sends its small body flying. It falls to the ground, its head twisted at a strange angle. I keep my gaze on it, making sure that the others can’t see my strange expression. Some of the rain traveling down my face tastes saltier than it should.

I ignore that last thought with all my willpower.

I take a deep breath trying to calm down, when something catches my attention. The blood at my feet is sucked into the creature as its head cracks and goes back to a proper angle. It opens its eyes, staring at me with anger.

It pulls the blood from around it, levitating the blood and hardening it into darts. I quickly bring my forearms up in a defensive stance, creating the same shield with my gloves that had saved my life against the other beta tester.

The darts hit my invisible shield, splattering against it and turning it crimson. My vision is blocked and I can’t see the monster.

“Behind you!” Rose shouts. My instincts kick in as I roll out of the way. A small amount of pain coming from my back.

The Red Cap stands behind where I just was, two knives made of blood resting in its hands. It smiles at me, showing pointed teeth.

I smile aggressively back at it.

“You must be a Beta Tester.” It says in a harsh voice. “how proud I will be when I take your head back to my mas-” It stops as a knife appears in its shoulder. The knife glows as the creature starts wilt.

Desperation its eyes, it pulls all of the blood in the area to itself. The blood enters its body and it begins to gain back its strength. Then it starts to wilt again. The creature reaches towards the knife in its shoulder, but I don’t give it the chance.

My fist impacts its head, multiple cuts appearing across its body as I use the ability “[Force Of Many Blades]

All of the blood dries up on the ground as I continue to punch it and it continues to wilt. As the blood disappears, it looks up at me one more time with hatred, before it turns into dust. The dagger that had impaled it falls to the ground.

I stand there, breathing heavily. Slowly, the others approach.

Rose walks all the way up to me, giving me a hug.”It’s ok. Everything is ok Elena.” She coos into my ear. Small droplets fall down from my eyes, into her hair. I ignore them as I keep breathing.

Damien carefully reaches down, picking up the dagger between two fingers. He studies it with weariness.

“Thank you Rose.” I whisper into her ear. “And nice throw.”

She lets go of me, giving me a wane smile. She turns around, grabbing the dagger from Damien. “You probably don’t want to touch that.” She tells him, making it disappear into her inventory.

Damien doesn’t respond, staring wide-eyed at the body parts around him. “I’m sorry for not believing you about the monsters earlier.” He says, looking at me with wide eyes.

I close my eyes, taking a deep breath. I open them, looking at Damien with seriousness.“At least you believe me now.”

Blake step into view, his expression carefully not giving anything away as he looks at the carnage. “I don’t think anybody could think you are lying now.” He says, stepping over an arm. “Where is the next one? I need to make up for not killing this one myself.”

“The rest are in the woods.” I say, my gaze going to the grey woods.

“Hey, so I hate to be that guy, but don’t you think we should call someone about this?” Damien says, his eyes very carefully not looking at anything gory. “I mean, I understand why they never call the authorities in movies. But this is the real world, shouldn’t we be calling the police?”

“We don’t have the time to be detained.” I respond “There are five more of these buggers out there.”

“What if some kid sees this? Shouldn’t we do something?” Damien continues persistently.

I open my mouth to respond, but Rose beats me to it. “I’ll call my dad. He will arrange it so that the police find the body without any connection to us.” After saying so, she takes out her phone.

“Who is Rose’s dad again?” Blake asks me, Damien leans in closer, curious about my answer.

“A mob boss.” I respond.

“That makes the whole kidnapping thing make a lot more sense.” Blake says.

A few minutes later, Rose hangs up. “Come on, let’s get going. We won’t want to be here in an hour.”

We enter the forest cautiously. I end up taking the lead, since none of them really know where we are going.

The rain increases as the forest makes the drops larger than they were outside. I take a moment to just let the rain wash away my harsh thoughts and feelings, bringing me back to that time of play and happiness.

I continue down the path, until we reach an old oak tree. Two of the Red Caps are sitting against the tree, sleeping.

I pull my gloves tighter, “You guys take the one on the right, I will get the one on the left.” I whisper to my group. “[Unmatchable Speed]

I appear in front of mine, punching its head into the tree with a loud snapping sound. A knife hits the other one a second later. Mine falls to the ground, but I keep kicking and punching it, making sure that it is dead. It doesn’t heal.

My gaze turns to the other Red Cap, which is slowing down as it is covered in frost. It reaches towards the knife in its shoulder, but Blake is already there, swinging his crow bar at the Red Cap’s head. Blake played baseball, so he hits the thing hard. The sight that greets my eyes afterwards isn’t pretty.

We stand there a few minutes, waiting to see if either of them come back to life.

Thankfully, neither of them suddenly wake up. The other one’s regenerative ability must have had something to do with the blood surrounding it. These Red Caps aren’t even using each other’s blood.

“Three down. Three to go.” I say to the people around me.

I turn towards them, studying each of them in turn. Rose looks resolute, as she pulls her dagger out of the now frozen corpse.

Damien is looking pale, subconsciously taking a few steps back from the carnage.

Blake keeps his emotionless expression as he stares at the blood on his crow bar with contemplative look.

I look down at the dead creatures. They disgust me, their thoughts are horrible, their very lives depend on being horrible, but they still have a conscience. I could tell when I first sensed their minds and I could tell when the first one looked at me with hatred in its final moments.

So, I say a small prayer. Not for them, but for whatever they went through to make them who they are.

I won’t let their viciousness destroy my empathy or my convictions.

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A note from Prince Corwin

Hey guys! Someone convinced me that having a $1 patron option would be a good idea, so if you want to read one chapter ahead, feel free to sign up for just a dollar. There are only 20 spots available and if you want to sign up, I would suggest doing it as soon as you can.

Cheers and Thank you!

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Prince Corwin

Bio: Just a guy who likes reading and writing.

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