I knew the guy was a Katteri but I couldn’t help admiring his beauty.
His long blonde hair glimmered under the moonlight and his eyes seemed to be changing colors every time his appearance flickered—from green to hazel to blue. His body looked lean yet muscular. Even the soft features of his face were too beautiful to ignore.
I had to pinch my arm to remind myself that this was an enemy.
“So, it’s true,” he said in a dreamy voice. “A Stryzyga is wandering around Batara.”
The Katteri looked at me lovingly, not in a way someone would look at a person, but he was seeing me as a source of food—of blood.
“Lady, be careful,” Irus warned while shielding me from the Katteri’s sight. “This one’s different.”
I felt that, too, but I couldn’t pinpoint what was different besides his ethereal beauty. Nagulat na lang ako nang biglang nawala sa paningin ko ang Katteri. My skin crawled and it felt like something was prickling my nape. Agad akong napalingon at pasugod na ang Katteri mula sa likuran ko. Fortunately, Irus was faster.
He lifted me and stepped back a few meters. Napayakap pa ako sa vial na hawak ko dahil baka masayang ang dugong nakuha ko.
Muli kong tiningnan ang Katteri at ibinalik ang tingin kay Irus. He unsheathed his sword that was so thin, it looked like a rapier. Ngayon ko lang siya makikitang gumamit ng sandata dahil kadalasan ay sobrang bilis ng mga nangyayari at wala na akong time i-process ang mga iyon.
“He has drunk blood from high clans,” Irus muttered.
“Look at his skin.” Agad naman akong tumingin sa Katteri. I had to squint my eyes to see what he was talking about. “Siphons usually have green blood vessels but his were bluish.”
He was right. The veins on his arms appeared bluish to purplish under the moonlight. Hindi ko iyon napansin sa grupo ng Katteris na na-encounter namin kanina dahil nag-panic na ako nang makita ko sila.
“That’s an indicator that he drank blood from higher clans—”
The Katteri lunged at us again and Irus fended him off, but he lurched at my direction. I ducked and crawled away from him but he continued attacking me. If it weren’t for Irus, I would have been dead by now.
“Let me taste your blood!” he excitedly screamed.
Napasigaw ako nang mahawakan niya ang damit ko. I kicked his arm and scuttled away but I gasped when the vial fell from my hands. My reflexes took over and I caught it before it rolled from the roof. However, I scraped my hand on one of the tiles. Blood started clotting on my skin and I was surprised when I heard an ear-piercing yell from the Katteri.
His body convulsed as he sniffed. “A high-quality blood,” he said in daze.
“Lady!” called Irus as he rushed to my direction. He winced as he looked at my wound. “Cover it. He’s getting addicted to its smell.”
Kinilabutan ako sa narinig ko at agad akong pumunit sa dulo ng dress na suot ko. I dressed my wound hastily, trying to prevent him from getting a whiff of my blood any further.
My thoughts drifted as Irus fought against the Katteri.
That Katteri got unhinged once he smelled my blood. How come both Irus and Kei seemed to not be affected by it? Not that I wanted to state it, but I also have a maiden blood. Why didn’t they want mine? Could it be assassins and trackers were only attracted by human blood?
My body tensed when I heard the Katteri’s shrill. Halos patakbo akong umiwas sa kanya. Mabuti na lang talaga at kasama ko si Irus kung hindi ay kanina pa ako nawalan ng ulo!
“Lady!” he called. “Stay close to me.”
“Okay,” I breathed.
It was reassuring to have an assassin as your ally and not an enemy.
Napasinghap naman ako nang makita ko ang pagbabago ng anyo ng Katteri. He was changing from children of different ages and races, back to being an adult and then to some middle-aged man—all were beautiful except for their sinister smiles.
He grinned at me as he stared at my gauzed hand and I had the urge to hide it behind my back but I didn’t want to appear more frightened than I was already.
Gusto ko sanang tumakas na lang kami ni Irus pero mukhang mabilis din ang isang ‘to. He could go on par with Irus in terms of speed and Irus wouldn’t be able to protect me while running.
I remembered what happened when I yelled at the Katteris we encountered a while ago. I wanted to help but I doubt I could do that again . . . if I were really the one who did that.
Nanigas ako sa kinatatayuan ko nang muli na namang sumugod ang Katteri. He went straight to Irus and I yelped when he suddenly thrust his right arm on Irus’ chest. It went through his body and reached my neck but he immediately cut it off from the Katteri.
The Katteri casually backed away as if nothing just happened. His freaking arm got cut off! And what the heck, Irus had a hole in his chest! Yet those two continued moving just like before.
Nalaglag ang putol na kamay sa harapan ko at napaatras ako nang makita ko itong gumagalaw-galaw pa. The Katteri lunged again, and this time, he was faster. I shouted in pain as he pinned me to the ground while Irus jumped sideways. Wait where was he going--
The Katteri suddenly wailed in pain and I could see the blood vessels under his skin . . . moving. His body stiffened and the next thing I knew, blood was already gushing out his eyes, nose and mouth. However, instead of streaming down his face, the blood moved into a horizontal direction as if it were attracted to something.
Irus scooped me away from the Katteri and that was when I realized what was happening.
“How dare you disrespect our lady like that,” Kei muttered in a controlled voice and my skin tingled upon hearing the anger in his tone.
He was holding the knife he had and the Katteri’s blood started surrounding it. The blade changed colors from blue to purple to crimson.
The Katteri hissed as he retreated several meters away. I wasn’t sure what happened but it looked like the beauty he had a while ago got sapped together with his blood.
“His blade could absorb high quality blood,” Irus explained in a muffled voice.
The blade seemed to gleam brighter, as if it just got polished to perfection. Its crimson color looked menacing at night.
I stared at how it immediately weakened the Katteri. Nang akmang lalapit si Kei ay umatras naman lalo ang Katteri.
“A djall,” the Katteri hissed. I thought it would attack Kei but it suddenly fled.
“Coward,” he scoffed.
I was about to call him when I noticed that there were blotches on his face now . . . and it took me a few seconds to realize his sleeves were pulled around his elbow so those were his arms. They had turned purplish black now. Halos napasigaw kami nang bigla na lang siyang natumba.
“Kei!” sigaw ko habang patakbo kaming pumunta sa direksyon niya.
I put his head on my lap and made him drink the blood in the vial. He wasn’t responding to my calls anymore and that scared me more.
“Hey, pull yourself together, come on,” I murmured, hoping that he would at least move. “Come on. Please.”
“It’s not enough,” said Irus.
Napatingin ako sa kanya. I was about to say that he had to look for Kei but he grabbed the vial from me and requested for the other one kaya agad ko iyong binigay sa kanya. Nawala siya sa paningin ko at nakarinig ako ng ilang pagsigaw sa ibaba. Oh, damn, I hope he didn’t do anything weird.
Halos manginig ang kalamnan ko nang bigla na lang siyang lumitaw sa tabi ko habang hawak ang dalawang vial ng dugo. Kahit hindi pa ako kalmado ay kinuha ko iyon mula sa kanya at agad na ipinainom kay Kei.
We waited for several minutes but nothing happened. He still wasn’t responding.
“W-what should we do?” I asked, worried about his condition.
“It’s okay now, Lady.”
Pagtingin ko ay muli nang nakadilat ang mga mata ni Kei. The blotches on his skin and face were also gradually disappearing. Doon lang ako nakahinga nang maluwag. I wanted to lay there after that encounter even though I didn’t really do anything exhausting.
“Let’s go,” sambit ni Irus kaya napatingin ako sa kanya.
Bago pa ako makapagtanong ulit ay hinawakan niya ang bewang ko at inilagay naman niya sa balikat niya si Kei. The next thing I knew, I was already cursing his name as he cut through the crowd and places like a burst of high-speed and angry wind.
I woke up feeling hungrier and thirstier than ever.
My eyes fluttered open and I felt disoriented. I immediately saw the crown of trees and thousands of stars littered on the sky above me.
“Oh, you’re awake.”
Paglingon ko ay naroon si Kei sa tabi ng apoy na mukhang mas malaki pa sa ginawa niya kanina. Agad naman akong napabuntong-hininga. I was wishing everything was just a bad dream but it looked like I had to continue living in this nightmare.
Napatingin naman ako sa paligid at nakita kong wala na roon sa Irus.
“Where is Irus?” tanong ko.
“He’s hunting the remaining Katteris.”
He laughed in return. “He said he felt useless a while ago, so he went off to finish what we have started.”
“Don’t worry about him,” he said. “He can kill hundreds of Katteris in a few minutes.”
Napatikom agad ang bibig ko nang marinig ko ‘yon. Kaya pala parang restless siya kanina sa ilalim ng cloak. If only those Katteris attacked us during the night.
Naalala ko naman ang nangyari kanina. I remembered shouting at the two Katteris and something went wrong with their bodies. Lumapit ako kay Kei at umupo sa tabi niya.
“What happened earlier?” I asked. “I mean, those Katteris . . . exploded all of a sudden.”
He stared at me and the embers of the fire reflected on his gray eyes. “They were poisoned.”
“W-what? What do you—”
Napahinto ako nang makita ko ang braso niya. He tried to hide it but I reached for his arm and saw blotches of blue and purple bruises, just like what happened to the Katteris. I looked at him but he averted my gaze.
“Bakit nagkaroon ka ng ganyan?” I asked but he remained silent.
Muli kong inalala ang nangyari. The Katteris’ bodies exploded and . . . some of their blood splattered at us. Agad kong tiningnan ang balat ko pero wala namang nangyaring kakaiba sa akin. Did most of the blood get on him?
“Don’t worry too much,” he said as he hid the blotches under his clothes. “I’ll be alright once I drink blood.”
“Oh. So you have an extra vial of blood?”
He snickered. “None.”
Tinitigan ko siya at hindi ko alam kung bakit nakuha niya pang tumawa. “What the heck? What are you still doing here? You should have—”
“I couldn’t leave you here alone,” he said. “And Irus went off before I could tell him to get me some blood.”
Sinamaan ko siya ng tingin dahil parang wala lang sa kanya ang nangyayari. What if he suddenly explodes just like what happened to the Katteris? Hindi ba siya nag-aalala sa pwedeng mangyari?
“Ah,” he exclaimed, cutting me off again. “It’ll be okay. Once we reached Kariota tomorrow, this would disappear.”
I knitted my eyebrows. “What do you mean?”
“We’re meeting a mage there,” he said. “See, the mainland is a lot more dangerous than Hallim and Batara. Stronger creatures reside there and we need a mage to strengthen our defense and offense.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. He could have night-traveled us there if he could. He could have used that, too, to collect blood in the cities of Batara but he didn’t. Maybe those blotches were preventing him from using it. And if that was the case, then we wouldn’t reach Kariota by tomorrow.
Muli kong tiningnan ang braso niya at may mga panibagong nadagdag doon kaya napatayo ako. He was in no condition to move. Besides, I felt responsible for those.
“I’ll get the blood for you,” I said even though I wasn’t sure how I would do that.
Tiningnan niya lang ako at makalipas ang ilang sandali ay bigla siyang natawa. “Oh, Lady, you aren’t doing that.”
I raised my eyebrow at him. “And why is that?”
“Can you even defend yourself? Do you know how to do it?”
“I . . . I saw how you did it,” I said despite not being confident. “Besides, I’m not alone.”
“And what do you mean by that?”
“Irus!” tawag ko.
I was ready to get embarrassed and say any excuses because it would be impossible for Irus to be here after calling his name but I yelped and cursed when he suddenly appeared beside me. Oh freak, he really appeared! And what the hell! He was carrying three heads along with him!
“Lady, you called for me?” he asked in a muffled tone.
I was still in shock after seeing him that I just stared at him for a few seconds. He casually threw the heads into the fire and they immediately turned into green dust. Were those the Katteris that cornered us a while ago?
Nakailang buntong-hininga pa ako bago tuluyang kumalma at pakiramdam ko ay tinatawanan na niya ako sa ilalim ng bandages sa mukha niya. I cleared my throat and stood up. Hinarap ko si Kei at tinuro si Irus.
“I-I’ll go with him.”
He looked at me with an incredulous expression but I didn’t budge. Sinabi ko rin kay Irus ang kalagayan ni Kei kaya agad siyang sumang-ayon sa gusto kong gawin.
“Khmer, you should’ve told me about it earlier,” Irus said in a cold tone and I almost stepped away from him.
He shrugged. “Well, you ran away before I could tell you about it.”
I heard him grumble. “I’ll get you some blood.”
“No,” Kei objected. “You two together is a bad idea. I’m already getting a bad feeling.”
“Hah! We could also do things without your help,” I retorted. “Right, Irus?”
Irus nodded aggressively.
Bago pa siya makapagreklamo ay kinuha ko mula sa coat niya ang empty vials at muling tumabi kay Irus. Medyo napakunot pa ang noo ko nang nakita kong para siyang nagwa-warm up. I heard Kei heave a loud sigh.
“You’ll regret this,” he muttered.
“I won’t. You better say thank you when we return.”
I was about to tell Irus to lead the way when he suddenly crouched in front of me. He turned his head to me and I stared at him, baffled.
“Lady, hop on,” he said in a serious tone.
Hindi ko matanong kung seryoso ba siya dahil baka bigla na lang siyang magalit. I would never want to anger an assassin.
Wala akong nagawa kundi ang pumasan sa likuran niya. I almost flinched when I felt his steel-cold skin despite the military uniform he was wearing.
“Irus,” tawag ni Kei kaya pareho kaming napalingon. “Protect her.”
He nodded in return. Just when I was about to ask if he would run, he suddenly kicked the ground and before I knew it, I was already screaming in fear.
Irus’ running was just as bad as Kei’s night-traveling.
Halos nakakapit na ako nang mahigpit sa leeg niya kanina dahil pakiramdam ko ay malalaglag ako anytime. He was so fast that the wind felt like thousands of arrows prickling through my skin. Nang huminto siya ay napabitaw ako at naramdaman ko ang muling pag-ikot ng tiyan ko.
Damn these guys. Couldn’t they walk in a normal way?
Napatingin naman ako kay Irus at nakaturo siya sa isang street. There were a lot of food stalls and it was packed with people. This was probably in the same city because it looked like there was a festival.
Ibinigay ko sa kanya ang empty vials para siya ang kumuha ng dugo dahil nanghihina pa rin ang mga tuhod ko pero bigla siyang umiling.
“Eh? Why?” tanong ko at tinuro niya ang mukha niya.
Ah. Right. He couldn’t do it looking like that. The victims would probably freak out if they saw a bandaged man approaching them.
Sinubukan ko namang tumayo at kahit nanginginig pa rin ang tuhod ko ay naglakad ako papunta roon sa maliwanag na eskinita. Paglingon ko ay wala na si Irus. I panicked for a second but I could feel his presence around. He was probably watching over me from the shadows.
Napatigil naman ako dahil hindi ko alam kung paano malalaman na ‘pure’ ang kukunan ko ng dugo. Alangan namang tanungin ko sila kung maiden pa sila o kaya naman ay nasalinan na ng dugo. That would be weird and extremely rude.
Then, I saw a group of children, maybe around ten to thirteen years old. Oh, right. Children probably had the purest blood. Pero okay lang ba kahit kaninong dugo ang kunin ko?
Napatingin ako sa paligid para hanapin si Irus pero hindi ko siya makita.
“What is it, Lady?”
Halos mapasigaw ako nang marinig ko ang boses niya sa tabi ko. Damn it, this guy would kill me even without beheading me!
“U-uhm, okay lang ba kahit dugo ng lalaki o babae?”
He nodded. “Yes. As long as they are pure.”
Matapos ‘yon ay agad din siyang nawala. I carefully approached them and was about to ask for direction when one boy suddenly tripped over his footwear. Oh. Lucky. Agad ko siyang nilapitan para tulungan.
“Okay ka lang ba?” tanong ko habang inaalalayan siya.
He nodded. “Opo.”
“Oh, you have a wound here,” I said while holding his chin between my fingers.
I imagined my nail getting longer and sharper and when it did, I almost lost my focus. Fortunately, the boy seemed to be in trance as I continued staring at his eyes. His blood trickled down my fingers and into the vial I was holding. When I filled the first one, I let him go and smiled.
“Thank you,” I said and he dreamily nodded.
Gusto ko pa sanang kumuha ng isang vial pa mula sa kanya pero nang makita kong nanginginig ang tuhod niya habang tumatayo ay na-guilty ako. Maybe that amount of blood was too much for a child. Di bale, marami pa naman akong pwedeng pagkunan.
Maghahanap na sana ako ng next target nang may maramdaman akong kakaiba. The hair on my nape bristled and before I could react, I was already up in the air.
Doon ko lang na-realize na karga na ako ni Irus at nasa bubong na kami ng isang bahay. I heard someone chuckling and when I looked in front of us, I gasped.
“Hello there, lovely lady,” he greeted with a sweet smile.
Irus positioned himself in front of me but I craned my neck to see the one talking. In front of us was the most beautiful man I had ever seen.
My stomach churned as soon as we landed on something. Agad akong napaupo at napahawak sa tiyan ko dahil sa sobrang hilo. When I opened my eyes, I realized we were back in the inn.
“Irus,” he called.
Kei immediately put the vial of blood in Irus mouth and he drank it in a second. I wasn’t sure how I saw that in darkness but I knew what they were doing.
I was still a bit disoriented but I managed to stand properly. Tumayo rin sina Kei at Irus at pareho silang tumingin sa direksyon ko.
“Oh, Lady, you’re not going to like it.”
Kei held my right arm while Irus stood behind me. Before I could ask what they were doing, a wave of nausea hit me and I realized he just did it again. Everything spun and my vision turned black.
I swear I feel like dying every time he does that travel thing.
Hindi ko na sinubukan pang tumayo dahil hilung-hilo ako nang makarating kami sa kung saanman. My legs turned jelly and I collapsed against a tree trunk. Irus was worse. I could see smoke coming from his skin despite running toward a shaded area. Kei threw a thick and black cloak at his direction and he immediately hid his body in it.
“He’ll be fine,” Kei said as we both stared at the black cloak.
Tiningnan ko naman siya nang masama. “Could you, at least, tell me beforehand if you’re going to do that?”
He chuckled in return. “You should have gotten used to it already.”
Hindi na ako nakasagot dahil naramdaman ko ang pag-ikot ng tiyan ko. Could an undead still feel this way?
He started setting up a camp. It was still noon so Irus wouldn’t be useful in this case. Gumawa siya ng apoy pero napakunot ang noo ko nang sobrang laki ng kinalabasan no’n. Isa pa, tanghaling tapat pa lang. Why would he set up a fire?
“The Katteris’ weakness is fire,” he said as if he just read my mind. “We should set up some traps as well. They would be here before the sun sets.”
Kinilabutan ako sa narinig ko. I still don’t know what they could do but I’d rather not see it personally.
“Pero nakalayo naman na tayo, ‘di ba?” I asked, hoping for some reassurance.
“Don’t underestimate their sense of smell,” he said, “especially since they have already got a whiff of your scent.”
My body tensed upon hearing that. “D-do I really have a strong scent?”
Kung pwede lang paliguan ko ang sarili ko ng kung anong makakapagtago ng scent na tinutukoy nila ay ginawa ko na. I didn’t want to be followed by those creatures.
“Oh, it’s indeed a powerful one,” he sneered, and I glared at him in return. “But don’t worry. Yours seems to still be masked by that charm,” sabay tingin niya sa bracelet ko.
Agad ko namang naalala sina Nana at Tata. Okay, now, it was weird calling them like that. Nang malaman kong hindi ko sila tunay na pamilya ay naging kumplikado na rin ang pakiramdam ko.
“Hey,” I called. “Do you know where they are right now?” tanong ko habang nakahawak sa bracelet ko.
He sat beside me. “I’m sure they’re back in Vrivarya.”
Vrivarya . . . Kei and Irus were from there, too. I wonder what kind of place that was.
Hundreds of questions lingered in my mind. Marami na akong naipong tanong simula pa lang noong nasa jeepney ako pero lagi na lang may nangyayari kapag gusto kong magtanong sa kanya. This time, I wanted answers.
“You said nothing good will happen when I turn seventeen,” panimula ko. “What exactly do you mean? Why did you save me from those guys in the jeep? Why were they searching for me? Why—”
“Can’t you ask one at a time?” he returned, cutting me off.
Muli ko siyang sinamaan ng tingin pero parang wala lang naman sa kanya. Napabuntong-hininga ako at tumingin sa malaking apoy na ginawa niya.
“What exactly am I?”
“A vampire,” he casually said.
I stared at him in disbelief. Gusto ko na lang siyang itulak sa apoy pero baka ako ang matupok kapag ginawa ko iyon. I breathed deeply and tried to calm myself.
“I mean, what’s with me? Bakit ako hinahabol? Bakit ako kailangang bantayan? Do they want something from me?”
My questions made his expression hard to read but he seemed to be holding back some information. I had been bewildered since yesterday, trying to figure out what kind of freak show I was in. Ilang beses na akong muntik mamatay sa loob ng isang araw pero ni hindi ko alam kung ano bang dapat kong maramdaman o gawin.
“It’s not my place to tell you that,” he said while throwing twigs in the fire.
“Why? Can’t you just—”
“I’m just a tracker,” he continued. “My mission is to keep you safe until we reach Vrivarya. But I can fill you in with what you should expect now that you know you’re an undead.”
Sinimulan niya na naman ang pag-e-explain sa kinds of undead that we had encountered. He mentioned the bloodsuckers before, and honestly, those creatures were something I didn’t want to meet again.
“They are fast and agile but they are also easy to turn away,” he added. “Just throw a garlic and that will burn their skin.”
“But Irus decapitated them, right?”
“That, too. Any undead could be put to death once you remove their heads.” Bigla naman niyang ipinakita ang leeg niya. I squinted my eyes to see what he was showing. “That’s why most of us guard our necks the most.”
Doon ko lang na-realize ang bakal na nakapalibot doon. It was the same color as his skin, ash gray, and I didn’t even notice that before.
“That applies to you, too.”
Bigla naman akong napahawak sa leeg ko. Great. Another thing to worry about.
I saw him chuckling as I tried to cover my neck with his scarf. Na-anxious na tuloy ako dahil pakiramdam ko ay may bigla na lang pupugot sa ulo ko.
“How about those Katteris?” muli kong tanong.
“Right. They actually belong to the clan of vampires known as Siphons,” he answered.
“Yes. They are shapeshifters,” he continued. “One of their subspecies is the Katteris. They inhabit Batara. The ones who attacked you yesterday were Macars, another subspecies of Siphons.”
Naalala ko naman ang dalawang lalaki na umatake sa akin sa jeepney. I remembered how terrible their voices were. Just when I was about to ask another question, the trees several meters away from us rustled.
Agad siyang pumosisyon sa harapan ko habang nakaharang sa pagitan namin at ng mga puno ang apoy. Then, there they were—the Katteris we saw from the streets.
There were nine of them in total: three adult women, four adult men, one young girl and one young boy. However, most of them were shifting from different ages and genders and looking at them were making me dizzy. They were all dressed in extravagant clothing which was quite outlandish now that we weren’t in that festive street.
One of the adult men stepped forward. Then he transformed into that naked ethereal guy I saw earlier. I had to close my eyes because it was my first time to see something like that.
“Don’t close your eyes,” Kei whispered, though I wasn’t sure how he saw that given that I was behind him.
“B-but . . .”
“Don’t you ever let your guard down, Lady,” he said as he pulled out a strange knife.
Its black hilt was embellished with golden and silver carvings while the blade was iridescent, changing colors from blue, violet and red.
I wasn’t sure how he could fight nine undead with that kind of weapon but he didn’t have a choice. Besides, Irus wasn’t in a good condition. Napatingin ako kung nasaan siya. He seemed to be squirming under the black cloak but he couldn’t get out because of the sun.
Agad ko ring ibinalik ang tingin ko sa harapan at napakapit ako kay Kei nang sumugod sa amin ang siyam na Katteris. I thought it was already our end but Kei slashed the knife in a horizontal arc and despite being several meters away, the attack seemed to reach them.
The two women roared in pain as blood gushed out of their gut. The other continued running toward our direction but the fire kept them from a distance.
They started hissing angrily at us. On the other hand, the two kids ran to the opposite direction where the fire wouldn’t reach them. I wasn’t sure if Kei noticed because he was preoccupied with the adult Katteris. Handling seven of them at the same time must already be tough.
Palapit na nang palapit ang dalawa sa amin mula sa gilid. The two started changing into adult men and charged at us at full speed.
“Stryzyga!” one of them hissed as he bared his now pointed teeth.
Ilang metro na lang ang layo nila sa amin at doon lang napansin iyon ni Kei. Meanwhile, the seven were starting to approach the fire that was slowly dying down.
“W-were in deep trouble, aren’t we?” bulong ko.
He snickered in return. “Yes. Seems like we’ve been cornered.”
Hindi ko alam kung paano niya pa nakuhang ngumiti kahit napaliligiran na kami. My instincts were telling me to run but we were already surrounded in all directions.
He slashed his knife again, this time, targeted at the two, but they suddenly jumped. A horizontal cut ran through their chests but they continued running. I heard Kei cursed under his breath. If they didn’t jump, I supposed those would have sliced their necks.
Nabalot ng takot ang buong katawan ko. I hated this. I hated how my life was at constant danger since yesterday. I hated how I was constantly being followed and targeted.
The frustrations and anger that bottled up inside me started churning. I wanted to at least have a peaceful day. Even just a day.
I breathed deeply as I watched the two who were just a few meters away from us. My body started feeling hot, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the fire beside us or the anger boiling inside me. My eyes felt hot, too, as if I were directly looking at something burning. The moment the two Katteris were just a few steps from us, I let out a scream filled with rage and resentment.
“DON’T COME NEAR ME!”
I was just so frustrated with what was happening since yesterday that it felt like I needed to let it all out . . . but something odd happened. The Katteris stopped moving and they were frozen from where they stood. Suddenly, blotches of blue and purple contusions appeared on their skins, until their whole body turned purple. They started writhing in pain, clutching their faces with horrified expressions.
“W-what . . .”
The next thing I saw made me stifle a gasp. Their bodies burst open and a fountain of purple and black blood exploded from them. Some splattered at us and I stiffened upon seeing the black blood on my hands.
I was still dumbfounded with what had happened that I didn’t notice Kei calling me for several times already.
Napatingin ako sa kanya at doon ko lang na-realize na wala na ang ibang Katteris sa kabilang side. I wasn’t sure if they fled because of what happened. I stared at the two bodies that were now crumpled and squeezed dried.
My voice faltered as my eyes got blurry all of a sudden. Orbs of light started to dance in front of me. It felt like my energy was being sucked out.
I wanted to call him back but Kei’s voice was starting to fade away. And then I blacked out.