Checking out of the hospital ended up taking far longer than Eric had expected. At least a dozen doctors and nurses tried to convince him to stay. All of them were clearly shocked that he was standing. Half of them seemed to think he was going to fall over and die at any moment. The other half seemed to think that his initial diagnosis of having broken his spine in four places was wrong. All of them wanted to run additional tests and procedures on him.
Eventually Nicole and Valerie managed to convince them to let Eric go. It took Nicole threatening to call the police and charge them with false imprisonment. That finally cut through the red tape and fifteen minutes later Eric was walking out of the hospital.
They piled into Nicole’s car. Valerie had scheduled her car to be repaired since she didn’t need it for the next week or two. Apparently it had been driveable, but not unscatched, after hitting Eric. The biggest issue being a broken windshield.
Eric nearly laughed when he saw Nicole’s car. Typical to her cold and efficient personality she had bought what had to be the most average car on the road. Eric didn’t know much about cars. The hospital room did have a TV though. Judging from the commercials and the prevalence of similar cars in the parking lot she had chosen a dependable brand. The color was a dull silver and there was nothing abnormal about the shape. Likely it blended in with every other car on the road.
Sitting in the passenger seat Eric had to admit that it was comfortable. Leather seats and plenty of room for his legs. As a cultivation emperor he wouldn’t have been caught dead in such a vehicle though. Everything he had owned had been covered in precious stones, metals, and fabrics. Although thinking back he couldn’t help but wince at the number of times the craftsmen had clearly cared more about looks than comfort.
“So what exactly is the plan?” Nicole asked when they pulled into the parking lot of the bar.
“I’ll go in and ask for Josh. If anyone attacks me I’ll take care of them. Meanwhile, you two stay in the car. If I’m not out in ten minutes then Nicole will come in. Depending on the circumstances she will either collect the evidence we need or rescue me. Although I doubt I will need to be rescued.” Eric said.
Nicole frowned at the idea of Eric going inside alone. Eventually she nodded in reluctant agreement. “Just remember you agreed not to kill or torture anyone.”
Eric nodded and got out of the car. Once he reached the door of the bar Nicole turned to Valerie. “Why are you so calm about this?” She asked.
“Calm about what? I’m just waiting in the car.” Valerie replied.
“I mean about him killing the detective and all those police officers.” Nicole clarified.
Valerie shrugged. “They were planning to rape us and then sell us to a bunch of murderers. If I had Eric’s power I would have killed them myself.”
“He could have subdued them instead. We also don’t know we would have been murdered.” Nicole countered.
Valerie scoffed. “If we weren’t going to be murdered whatever happened to us was going to be worse than death. Also you always told me that subduing someone is a lot harder than killing someone.”
Nicole couldn’t help but acknowledge that Valerie was right. “I’m pretty sure that Eric is more than powerful enough to have subdued them though. He could have just knocked them out and we could have called the police.”
“Would the police have believed us? Everyone thinks Eric is crazy. You saw how the doctor acted. They would have said he was crazy and that anything that police officer said had been coerced. If a detective and five officers were involved there are probably others. We may have been all right, but I don’t think Eric would have been.” Valerie argued.
Once again Nicole reluctantly couldn’t help but agree. Calling the police would have protected her and Valerie. Since Eric had a warrant out for his arrest it would have been much harder to protect him while he was in police custody.
“I guess I’m just worried that what happened means that Eric is evil. If he is, what are we going to do?” Nicole said.
“You weren’t watching Eric when that officer told him what they had planned to do to us. He tried to hide it but he was furious. I don’t think we need to worry too much about him being evil.” Valerie said.
“How do you figure?” Nicole asked.
“I’d be way more concerned if he hadn’t gotten angry. That would mean he didn’t find what the police officers were going to do with us wrong. There is a possibility that he was only mad because they were threatening us. But if that is the case it means that he cares about us. Which means we can at least influence what he does. I have a feeling it wasn’t just because they threatened us. Which means he has some type of code that he follows. It’s possible he’s not a good guy, but he’s definitely not a bad guy.” Valerie explained.
“I’m not sure about influencing what he does. I certainly couldn’t convince him not to come here.” Nicole countered.
“He agreed not to kill anyone that didn’t attack him first. He also agreed to let us come along and turn the evidence and anyone involved over to the police. Considering we have only known each other for a week that’s pretty good. I’ll bet once we know each other more he will be willing to adjust his plans more for us.” Valerie said.
Nicole considered what Valerie said for a moment. “I’m not as confident as you are about all of this.” She admitted.
“Just think of it this way. If we believe him then he has lived for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. I’ll bet that someone like that doesn’t trust people easily. They also aren’t usually going to change how they react to situations. Eric changed his plans, at least a little bit.” Valerie said.
Nicole was still thinking about it when suddenly her and Valerie felt intense unexplainable fear. “Shit. I think he just started killing them.” Nicole said opening the door.
After dashing to the door of the bar she flung it open. Then she stopped and stared around in shock. Eric was surrounded by over half a dozen men that were lying on the floor. Another man was slumped over the bar with a shotgun resting beside him.
“Oh good, you’re here. If you can guard this batch I’ll go get the rest before they wake up. There are over a dozen more in the employees only area of the building.” Eric said with a smile.
“They aren’t dead right?” Nicole asked leaning down and feeling the pulse of one of the men.
Eric sighed. “No. Although I suppose I could have waited a bit and killed them without violating our agreement. Sadly I still need to interrogate them. As soon as I mentioned an underground human trafficking ring all of them decided to attack me.”
“So who do we start questioning first?” Nicole asked.
Eric considered the question. “Let’s start with the people in the employee only area. There are at least a dozen all in a single room. Either it’s a meeting or a bunch of their victims. If they are victims they probably won’t know much but will tell us everything they do. If it’s a meeting then we just have to figure out who the boss is. We can start by interrogating them.”
“I think I should go ahead and call the police. Guarding this many people and questioning them all is going to be nearly impossible.” Nicole said.
Eric grinned. “Keeping them knocked out won’t be a problem. I have a few tricks for the interrogation part that should speed things up. Just need to grab someone to interrogate.”
Five minutes later Eric came back dragging a man that was dressed in a suit. “Hold off on calling the police for now. I think you should go ahead and call an ambulance though.” He told Nicole.
Nicole took a moment and really looked at him for a moment. Suddenly she realized that Valerie had been right. Eric wasn’t evil. He was excellent at hiding his emotions though, and had clearly seen some terrible things. It wasn’t hard to see how angry he was though. Nicole wasn’t sure why but at the moment he was very angry.
Grabbing a chair Eric struggled a bit to get the man into it. Nicole moved to help him and then pulled out her phone and dialed 911. As she turned around she flinched as she heard Eric slap the man. For half a second she thought he had decided to torture the man. Then she realized he was only waking him up.
“Huh. What’s happening?” The man said groggily. Then he saw Eric and apparently decided that anger was a more appropriate emotion. “Who are you? What did you do to me?”
Eric released a sliver of his killing intent and the man shrank back in his chair. “All of that doesn’t matter. What does matter is who else is involved in that business you have going on back there.” He said gesturing towards the employees only door.
The man shuddered a bit but kept his mouth closed. That just made Eric angrier. “Let me explain something to you. If you don’t tell me I’m going to rip the soul from your body and send you to your next life. Do you know what happens to people like you when you die?” The question was said coldly like he was talking to a disobedient child.
The man shook his head. “You get sent to hell. I’ve never been there but I have had the opportunity to talk to a few people that have. Demons like to torture mortals like you for mana. What is especially special about hell is that it’s impossible to die. Your soul becomes your body. So if they do something like chop your arm off it’s not like getting an arm chopped off here on Earth. Your arm is still part of you and you won’t heal unless it’s reattached. But even though it’s not attached to your body you still can feel your arm. Including the pain of anything they decide to do to your arm. Once they are done torturing you they have these places called mana pits. They like to toss the parts of their victims into the pits. If you are lucky you may even be able to assemble yourself. Of course if you do they will just torture and dismember you again.” Eric said.
“Are you done yet? You really think a story like that is going to scare me into talking? The man with a smirk.
Bio: I'm almost certainly addicted to reading. For decades I've read at least a dozen books a month. I'd say getting close to ten thousand over the course of my life. For the past few years I've been writing as a hobby. I created an account on royal road in order to get feedback on the projects I've started.