Cries of terror and anguish. Weapons clashing against each other. The raindrops that felt like a thousand arrows prickling your skin. Blood soaking and tainting the ground in sinister scarlet.
And then there was Hideo's wail, drowning all the noise I could hear. Naomi's thoughts flooded my mind as Mitsuo collapsed on his knees, refusing to slump on the ground even on his final breath.
My heart sank upon seeing two of my friends in the brink of their death. Gusto kong tumakbo papunta sa kanila. Gusto kong gumawa ng paraan para mailigtas pa sila. Gusto kong sabihin na hindi pa ito ang katapusan . . .
. . . but at the back of my mind, I knew both of them had already surrendered.
Rielle's wishes broke my heart. Paano pa kaya si Hideo? She wanted him to smile for her. She wanted his smile to be the last thing she would see. And he did.
We could vividly hear their thoughts and pain, and it felt like my heart was slowly tearing apart as I watched the four of them go through this tragedy that they didn't deserve. 'Ah . . . I think it's time . . .' she muttered.
Naomi was running away with Akemi's daughter. Mitsuo coughed blood but he remained looking in the sky, the rain falling down his face. His eyes were already closed but I could still hear his faint voice in my head. 'Run away, Nathalie,' he mumbled, a smile of resignation on his face. 'Please don't look back. Save yourself. Save yourself . . . Don't worry . . . I . . . I will always remember you . . . N-Nathalie . . .'
Kasabay ng pagbagsak ng katawan niya sa lupa ay ang muling pagsigaw ni Hideo habang yakap nang mahigpit si Akemi.
"Assist Naomi!" shouted Mayu.
Right. This wasn't the right time to mourn. We still need to win this war and save our people.
Kahit na halos madurog na ang puso ko ay pinilit kong maging matatag. I choked back the lump in my throat and brought my focus back to our enemies.
I summoned my weapons and ran toward Naomi's direction, fending off the Shinigamis who wanted to take Akemi and Hideo's daughter. I opened a path to Mayu where she could transport them into safety. Akira did the same. The rain was pouring hard so it was getting difficult but we did everything we could.
"Naomi! Now!" sigaw ko at agad iyong naintindihan ni Naomi. 'Don't look back,' Akira said, repeating Mitsuo's words. 'Go forward and leave this place, Naomi.'
She continued running while hugging the child tightly. She didn't look back and boarded Miyu. 'Please be safe.'
And those were the last words we heard from her.
Bigla naman akong kinilabutan. Mula sa kinatatayuan ko ay nakita ko si Hideo na dahan-dahang tumayo. He carefully lay Akemi's body on the ground and covered her with her cloak. 'Hideo . . .'
His eyes looked different. Even from here, I could feel his murderous presence. He clutched his sword and he disappeared. Everything happened so fast. Every Shinigami in his vicinity collapsed, their heads decapitated. 'Protect everyone,' he ordered in a blood-chilling tone. 'I don't want to lose another life tonight.' 'We will,' I replied. 'So please, end this war, Hideo.'
That night, he turned into a beast—someone who was more terrifying than a thousand Shinigamis.
The fights lasted for a few more hours until the Shinigamis were forced to withdraw. Rin, Akemi's sister, glared at Hideo as they both faced each other before her body. If it weren't for the stitches on her face and her malicious eyes, she looked exactly like Akemi, and facing her must be a torture for him.
Nabaling ang tingin ni Rin sa katawan ni Akemi. I wasn't sure if the rain was distorting my vision but her expression softened. There was pain in her eyes.
"In the end . . . you chose this side," she muttered and it felt like she was just next to me. Akira's sixth sense was kind of terrifying in this situation.
The Black Dimension opened behind her. Hideo stayed by Akemi's side and watched as her sister entered that place.
Agad namang kumilos ang medical teams para mailigtas ang mga sugatan. Hinayaan namin si Hideo sa tabi ni Akemi at pumunta kami ni Akira kay Mitsuo. He died kneeling and looking at the sky. Magkahalong lungkot at saya ang naramdaman ko nang makita ko ang bahagyang ngiti sa mga labi niya.
"They are safe," I whispered as I tapped his shoulder. "Don't worry. Naomi is strong and Hideo will take care of your son . . ." My voice faltered and tears started streaming down my face. "You will stay alive in our memories. You can rest now."
Akira broke down as he hugged him and I cried beside them. Few seconds later, Hideo came while carrying her body. He placed her beside Mitsuo and stood in front of us.
"This is the only time we can honor their death," he said, his voice filled with grief. "The Council will surely question their ties and loyalty."
Hindi ko pa rin matanggap kahit nasa harap ko na ang katotohanan. It felt strange seeing lifeless bodies. Pakiramdam ko, panaginip lang ang lahat. Sana nga, panaginip lang ang lahat.
"Rielle Miyamoto. Vince Alejandrino," Hideo said. "Remember their names. Let us do this for them. Let us honor their names if the Council and the people won't."
That night, I lost two of my closest friends. I lost hundreds of comrades. The new year welcomed us with misery, but I didn't know this was just the start.
Little did I know, another tragedy was already on its way.