It had been three days already but this guy was still unconscious.
I checked his temperature and fortunately, it was already back to normal. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang pinagdaanan niya para maging ganito ang kalagayan niya. But one thing was for sure—he did it for Akemi.
Three days na rin na dito ako natutulog. I couldn’t bear sleeping in the dorm because it would just remind me of Akemi and Mitsuo. Besides, I had to monitor this guy. He was an enemy and I would be in trouble if he suddenly escapes.
Chineck ko ang oras at 6 A.M. pa lang. Tumayo ako at dahan-dahang lumabas mula sa cabin. I activated all barriers and alarm systems to prevent any problems.
Papunta sana ako sa grassland pero nakaramdam ako ng kakaiba. A presence so menacing that I wanted to run away and hide. It was coming from the campus.
Nagmadali ako papunta roon at dumaan ako sa Green’s Bane. Fortunately, the beasts residing there were mostly nocturnal and I got lucky that nothing was in my way. Several minutes later, I arrived at the campus and walked toward the Teachers’ Village. I went to Hideo’s roof and saw a commotion in the Council House.
‘What are you doing there?’
Narinig ko ang boses ni Hideo sa isip ko at nakita ko siyang naglalakad patungo roon.
‘What’s happening?’ tanong ko pabalik.
‘The head of Shima is here.’
Halos kilabutan ako nang marinig ko ‘yon at parang lumubog ang puso ko dahil naalala ko si Mitsuo. His body was still in the mortuary because we didn’t know what to do after the Council decided against his burial here.
Pinanood ko si Hideo na maglakad patungo roon. Kahit hindi ko makita ang mukha niya ay alam kong bakas doon ang pagod. He wasn’t sleeping that much and I remembered what he said last time.
“I might dream about her and our daughter, and I might not want to wake up.”
Muling sumagi sa isip ko ang gabing iyon. I immediately pushed it at the back of my mind, afraid that I might break down. Huminga ako nang malalim at nag-focus sa Council House.
There was an unfamiliar face among the elders. Despite his old age, I could tell from his scarred and well-built body that he was physically stronger than the council members. But what caught my attention was the huge scythe he was holding.
He was walking calmly toward the Council House, his tattered cloak fluttering, while Sir Hideyoshi followed behind. Kinilabutan ako nang makita ko ang expression sa mukha niya. His intense green eyes were gleaming with rage.
I hopped from one roof to another to get closer. The elders were preparing to greet him outside but I could tell from their movements that they were anxious.
When I learned about Mitsuo being an Executioner and a member of Jikko clan, I realized how fearsome he was. Maraming myths tungkol sa Shima at sa Jikko clan. They were branded as savages, just like the Shinigamis. But I was silently admiring them. They were the ones who give justice to those who couldn’t. They were the ones who kept the criminals at bay and punished those who deserve it.
Seeing the head of that clan here was something I didn’t expect. And his presence alone was enough to send chills down my spine.
Nang makarating siya sa harapan ng elders ay huminto siya at itinukod ang scythe sa harapan niya. He looked like a death god who was ready to reap some souls.
“Sir Ise,” Sir Hideyoshi called but the old man shot a glare at him.
Wow. I didn’t know someone could look at the leader of our tribe like that. That man was downright frightening.
Nagulat na lang ako nang bigla niyang ginamit ang scythe niya. He swung it with an unbelievable speed that I was barely able to follow its movement. The next thing I knew, the curved blade was just an inch away from Kozuke’s head.
The elders used their sixth senses and weapons but the old man didn’t budge. A kunai grazed his cheek and blood trickled down his face.
“Stop it,” Sir Hideyoshi said with a cold tone and the elders looked rattled.
Sir Hideyoshi was the kind of guy who would always smile no matter the situation was. The total opposite of Hideo. Even during confrontations, he would smile, making the enemies confused. And honestly, that personality of his was scary. Pero ngayong hindi siya nakangiti ay mas lalo akong natakot sa kanya.
Napatingin ako sa kaliwa nila at nakita kong tumatakbo papunta roon si Sir Kyo. And did he just call someone an old man? Was he referring to the head of Shima?
Pagkarating niya ro’n ay bakas sa mukha niya ang takot pero halos mapasigaw ako nang bigla siyang napahawak sa ulo niya. He groaned as he clutched his head, as if something was torturing his mind. Pumagitan si Sir Hideyoshi sa matandang lalaki at kay Sir Kyo.
“Sir Ise, please,” he said and few seconds later, Sir Kyo collapsed on his knees, panting.
Kinilabutan ako sa nakita ko. What did that guy do to him? Ngayon ko lang nakita na magkaganoon si Sir Kyo. He was the strongest fighter among Sir Hideyoshi’s subordinates yet he crumpled in front of that man.
Kahit na hirap siya ay pinilit pa ring tumayo ni Sir Kyo at yumuko siya sa harapan ng matanda.
“I trusted you,” the old guy muttered while Sir Kyo remained bowing down. Even if I couldn’t see his expression, I could feel that he was in pain. “You should have saved him. You could have saved him.”
Parang lumubog ang puso ko nang magbago ang expression ng matanda. His eyes softened for a bit and for a second, I could see Mitsuo’s face on him.
Is he . . .
Muling bumaling ang tingin niya sa council members at napaatras ang ilan. He pulled his scythe toward him and Sir Kozuke whimpered in fear as he moved along with it.
“My grandson died here, fighting, protecting your peace while you lot sit here in comfort,” he said with suppressed anger in his tone. “How dare you dishonor his death. How dare all of you to reject his existence in this place.”
Napatakip ako sa bibig ko sa narinig ko. This guy was Mitsuo’s grandfather. He was supposed to be a future leader. He was supposed to be the next head of Shima.
He removed the scythe around Sir Kozuke’s neck and looked at them in their eyes. All of a sudden, the eight council members cried and yelled in pain as they clenched their heads. The same thing that happened to Sir Kyo occurred to them, but it seemed to be more excruciating.
I wondered if that was his sixth sense. What exactly did he do for them to act like that?
“If you won’t change your decision, then I won’t change mine, too,” he said and he turned to Sir Hideyoshi. “I’ll let you feel the wrath of the Jikko clan. I will make sure you will never see the peace you’re yearning for.”
Muli siyang tumingin sa elders at nagulat ako nang sinugatan niya ang kamay niya. He splattered his blood onto them and on the pavement.
“I will kill the Shinigamis who made him suffer,” he seethed in anger, “and I will tear this place down. Call us traitors, I don’t care. You are all traitors to our eyes. The Jikko is now your enemies.”
Naglakad siya palayo at naiwang nakatulala roon ang elders. Sir Kyo and Sir Hideyoshi followed him, trying to talk to him but he ignored them and continued walking . . . and then there was Hideo who stood in his way.
He deeply bowed at the old guy without saying anything and the old guy stared at him. Just like earlier, his expression softened a bit. Napatayo ako nang bigla niyang iwinasiwas ang scythe niya pero itinukod niya lang ulit iyon sa harapan niya. I was surprised when he bowed lightly in return.
“Thank you for acknowledging my grandson,” he said and I saw Hideo’s shoulders flinch.
Agad na tumulo ang luha ko nang marinig ko iyon at kahit hindi ko nakikita ay alam kong ganoon din si Hideo. Mitsuo was the only guy friend he had. They spent most of their time together and even if they didn’t say it our loud, they depended a lot on each other.
Losing both Akemi and Mitsuo and bearing the responsibilities of their death was something he had to carry by himself.
“If it weren’t for you and his . . . friends, this place would already be in ruins,” the old guy said. He shifted his gaze to Sir Hideyoshi and Sir Kyo. “I’ll give you a chance. Listen to this young lad.”
He continued walking away as the three of them remained bowing at his direction. Unknowingly, Hideo had saved our tribe from another war.
Bumaba ako mula sa kinatatayuan ko at mabilis na bumalik sa cabin ko. This wasn’t the time to relax. I had to get stronger. I had friends to protect. Friends that already had families to protect. Losing two was already too much.
This time, I wouldn’t let anyone hurt any of them.
This time, I’d make sure they would live the life they deserve.