The long, bloody night is almost over.
No, I am not referring to this physical night, though it has been long, and sleepless, as most of them are. And it has been bloody. Even my eyes have rarely seen such an abundance of gore.
But when this dawn comes, it will bring another. A dawn, a new beginning that I had hardly dared keep believing in, though my doubts are kept as always, confined where they cannot influence my choices.
The sunlight of that new dawn will bath me in her warm forgiving light and I will be reborn.
The mocking laughter I hear does not assault my ears, but rather my brain. No one else can hear it... of course there is no one to hear.
Strewn about me lie the bodies of the shinigami I trapped, or, perhaps I should say, the discarded parts of them. The fusion of magic and technology it took to ensnare the errand runners of Enma Daioh, to imprison them alive and to take what I needed as they breathed and watched in horror taxed my skills in both medicine and the Dark Arts beyond the limits set by science and nature.
Even my beautiful Tsuzuki...
/So you still fancy yourself in love with the God-Forsaken, do you? How pathetic you still are, Kazutaka, despite your arrogance and your vaunted powers./
The laughter fills my head again. Even raising my hands to my skull cannot block it out for it penetrates every thought.
I have only to turn my head to see the source.
When I answer, it is aloud. That is the one bit of defiance I preserve, though he can obviously hear my thoughts as clearly as if each one were shouted.
I can't remember when he gained the ability of ESP. Wait, it comes back to me now. It was years ago, when I had my first real doubts about my plan. How I came by his head is a matter best left undocumented, but once I had it, I put all my resources and knowledge towards preserving it, in as perfect a condition as possible. It had to be perfect. It had to be more than perfect.
It had to be *alive*.
What good would it do to kill him if he were not truly alive?
But even alive, I eventually realized, wasn't enough. He must be alive and he must still possess that black thing he had been given in place of a soul.
It was in my quest to determine whether his soul still remained, tied to his preserved mortal remains, that I began to explore the Dark Arts. It was a pursuit that has served me incredibly well over the years. Most minds tend either towards the arcane or the technical. But combining them, I have found, leads to undreamed of levels of ability.
/There you go again, bragging. How amusing it is to watch you puff yourself up about your so-called abilities. It makes such a lovely contrast next to my clear memories of you as a whining, sniffling, inept and graceless brat.../
My research to determine whether his brain lived, and whether indeed it still had function, cognition, thought... the study took years. Not an easy thing to determine, not at all. His face never changes expression... he always seems to be less than half awake, his eyelids barely open, the set of his features serene. Sometimes his eyes seem to move a little, the lashes to flutter very slightly, but I have determined that this is an optical illusion, caused by the movement of the preserving and nourishing liquid.
The EEG readings have always been inconclusive and puzzling.
However I no longer have any doubts about his continued existence. Not once he began to laugh.
/What else have I to do, floating in this ornate aquarium like an exotic tropical fish? Less than a fish - your hellish liquid feeds my cells nutrients, the slight electrical charge in the liquid stimulates my own immeasurable energy, I can never sleep.../
"Why should you sleep, you demon spawn? Why should you be allowed the peace of human sleep?"
/Why should you?/
It's best if I resist being drawn into an argument. The first time it happened, he goaded me until I found myself in the act of smashing the container, and suddenly realized like an icy slap of water that this had been his sole purpose.
"Laugh all you like, my brother. Tomorrow you will open your dead eyes, breathe real air, perhaps I'll even let you walk a few steps, if your sad brain remembers how."
Then, I will kill you.
I will kill you with my own hands, watch the light in your eyes die, feel your soul rended from your body by the messengers that will come for you, summoned by your sins.
And I will be free.
More laughter. Shut up, Saki, or I will torture you for days, years before releasing you...
/But I thought you refused to speak to my in your mind? I thought you chose only to address me with your lips, demonstrating your superiority at having lungs, dear sweet pathetic brother.../
/Never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never/
Tsuzuki would have understood. My beautiful, purple-eyed demon angel...
/Understood what? That your perverted lust cause you to desire him so you could kill him?/
"He would have understood that it wasn't I who did these things. It was you, Saki. It was you who drove me to it. You are the monster, not I."
/You think so? You believe you have only done what you needed to? Nothing... gratuitous... nothing... unnecessary? Nothing you enjoyed.../
"No. I did only what I had to do. As I will do what I have to do now. We are almost ready. I have performed all the tests. Your brain shows activity. The spells which I've woven detect the presence of your soul. Your body lives... It is almost over."
When you are finally gone I will wake to a new day. I will never need to kill again. I will never have the blackouts again. I will never look at my hands and clothes covered with blood and wonder...
"Shut up, Saki. Soon your new lungs will give you the power of real speech. I don't expect you to use it. I expect you only to scream..."
/Make me, brother./
A childish jibe. Are you finally beginning to feel fear, as you gain consciousness of your new home? Hear blood finally pouring through your veins again instead of nutrient fluids? Is your fear robbing you of your clever words?
"Breathe, brother. No answer now? That is because I have introduced a sedative into your new body. A little real sleep for you, so that you can feel what you will lose."
I am exhausted. The night's work... or has it been two, or three? I don't remember. I only know the end is so near...
"Saki? You should be unconscious..."
/...you are so stupid.../
The sedative must be taking longer because of the shinigami metabolism of the parts... of course. A foolish miscalculation. I am tired...
/...and my soul?/
"Your soul is here. The oracle confirms it. Here so I can send it finally to a hell beyond any recall..."
I feel cold. I should be feeling energized. It's finally going to be over. I should be...
There are... wards rising... magic energies I didn't summon... what... is it the retaliation from Enma Daih? How did they find me...?
/...my soul...is in you...and now I have a place to put yours..../
It's a darkness like death.
It's a cold like the grave.
There's a heaviness that weighs me down, pressing me into the earth until I feel as if I am made of it. Clay, inert and without volition.
No. I must fight. Whatever this is, I must fight.
It is like raising a mountain to lift my eyelids. The light stabs into my mind, tearing at me.
Something moves between me and the light. Something... a shape... pale but solid. I cannot focus. Everything looks...wrong.
The voice... wrong... too familiar. Deep, melodic... wrong...
"Yes, I think you are awake, dear brother."
A touch, like something felt through layers of numbness. As if my nerves are all dead or dying.
"Hello, Kazutaka. Nice to see you again."
What has happened?
"I supposed you want to know what is happening to you. Of course I cannot hear your thoughts any more. Where you are now, they cannot reach me. What a relief that is, I must say. This body of yours is amazingly powerful for all the shit you put it through, and it might perhaps be possible to develop the ESP ability, but of course, I have no desire to hear your thoughts, ever again. So all you can do is listen. Delicious."
My eyes are trying to focus, and the image before me sharpens a little. A man, with grey eyes and silver hair...
"I'm impatient to finish this, so listen closely," he says, in my voice.
"I was always inside you."
Laughter. It's deeper, much deeper, but recognizable, all the same.
"I have been inside you for a long, long time. Do you think it was you who committed all those murders? Ridiculous. You were an idealistic man, before I came to live inside you. Bitter, yes, hurt, scarred... but you truly wanted to help people. How refreshing it was to take lives with your hands, to taste the blood and revel in it, and then leave you to justify each terrible act. But I don't think that will weigh very much when you come up for judgment. Even the gods would have trouble trying to figure out what you did and what I made you do. But we know, don't we... because you did suffer for it. I made sure you suffered. You were always so pathetic..."
"Good night, now, Kazutaka. You were right. It's finally over."