I couldn’t sleep. After visiting the blood chamber, the voices I heard kept echoing inside my head. In addition, I could still feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins. I thought I could already control these ferocious tendencies when I lived outside this world but coming back here awakened them. I was itching to fight someone. By nightfall, everything in the island was already engulfed in darkness. Suspicious shadows roamed around as the sound of metal hitting the ground filled the air. The Executioners were moving and I could feel the tension rising inside the island. “Curious, aren’t you?” Hearing that voice made me shudder. My hands instinctively reached my sword and swung it at the presence behind me. Blood splattered on my face and on the floor, stunned to see Kiyoko’s smiling face. “What are you doing here?” I asked as I pulled back my sword. She wiped the blood off his lacerated wound, as if it was just a shallow cut. I remembered her saying she wasn’t fond of physical fights since her body couldn’t keep up, but it looked like she had already unconsciously adapted their nature. “I figure you’d be restless by now,” she replied. “And I don’t really have any friends here. I mean, they are all so . . . extreme in a sense.” That made me chuckle since that was quite true. Being eccentric and radical is the ‘normal’ here. “So . . . what’s happening?” “After what happened to Senshins and Custos, a lot of criminals will be transferred here,” she explained. “They are preparing for that.” “I see. So aside from Nox, Shinigamis will also be escorted here.” “Yeah.” A hint of sadness flashed across her face. “And you know furious they are at them.” Vince’s face zoomed inside my head and how the rest of the Jikko clan acted when they received the news of his death. “Because of what happened, they even harbor resentment to Hideyoshi and the administration,” she continued. “Ise completely cut the communication between them because trusting them cost him his grandson’s life.” My heart almost sank upon hearing Ise’s name. I grew up with Vince and Ise was particularly strict on him. He would always say that he should never lose a fight because that’s a disgrace as a Jikko, especially for the future head of the clan. He was harsh and cold to him but his decisions subsequent to Vince’s death were those of a grandfather . . . of a family member. “However, since Ise didn’t know that Vince has a child, he wanted Dad to be the successor because he trusts his strength.” “So he’s from that school?” She smiled. “Yup. Apparently, he sneaked out of this island when he was a teenager because if he stayed, he’d be named as the chief of the village.” “What do you mean?” “According to Aristus, Vince was still too young when his father died. Ise wanted to focus on training him so he wanted to have a capable man to lead the village temporarily. Dad, knowing his fate, left Shima to avoid that kind of responsibility.” “Oh. So that’s how he ended up in that school?” “Yup. He was found by Hideyoshi and became his right-hand man.” Although some of my memories were hazy, I remembered Ise getting furious when a letter suddenly arrived from the outside. After that, he said Vince would be sent to an institution for a mission. That letter must be from Kyo. “I see. And after Vince died, Ise once again recommended Kyo as the chief.” “Yeah. The fate he wanted to avoid caught up to him. I guess he was really meant to lead this clan before the true heir steps in.” My nerves finally calmed down after talking to Kiyoko. I was grateful that she came here or else I’d be exchanging attacks to an Executioner in this moment. Kiyoko shifted uneasily and for the first time, she looked vulnerable. “Uhm, I just want to ask . . .” “Hmm?” “How’s Nigel?” My breath caught in my throat as I stared at her. It didn’t even occur to me that she didn’t have any idea about what happened to team Magnus. Her eyes looked at me expectantly and I felt awful after remembering his last moments. “I . . . I’m sorry,” I mumbled, my voice trembling. Her expression tightened and before I could explain anything, she had already averted my gaze. I could feel an overwhelming pressure from her presence and I willed myself not to step back even though it was getting suffocating. “I see,” she muttered vacantly. Kiyoko started walking away without a word. I heaved a sigh, worried about what she would do. Nel said Kiyoko was nice and sweet but her expression a while ago was far from that. It felt like she had awakened something sleeping deep in her consciousness. At daybreak, I went out of my shack and walked toward the shore. I already did my mission and gathered information. It would be the best to leave Shima before it gets hectic. “Already leaving, kid?” My body automatically reacted to his presence, jumping back and assuming a defensive stance. Kyo burst out laughing after seeing what I did. Damn it. Why was he even here? “Yes,” I answered. “I’m already done with my mission.” “Heh. I thought you’d stay,” he remarked. “I need strong people.” “You already have the Executioners. They are enough.” He cackled. “Reds are so hard to persuade.” For a moment, I think I could understand what he wanted to happen. Yes, Executioners are physically strong, but they rarely follow strategies. Only a couple of them could really lead. I guess he wanted more people like that. I remembered Kiyoko’s story last night and it changed my impression about him. For someone who hates responsibilities, he’s doing well, and I think his leadership will greatly improve the Jikko’s strength even more. “Sorry, my loyalty belongs to the Custos,” I said. “Yeah, right,” he retorted. “Besides, I’m a Keeper,” I added and smiled. “I am needed to make sure everyone stays alive.” “Heh. For someone who grew up in a place where death is normal, your position’s quite ironic. Don’t you think, kid?” A subtle smile appeared on my lips. “I think so, too. But I prefer this kind of life now.” “Well, that’s disappointing,” he commented while scratching his head. “I’ll take my leave then.” I slightly bowed at him and headed to my raft but he called once again before I could push it to the water. “Kid! Make sure you bring the remaining traitors,” he yelled. “Well, if the Custos can catch them.” “We will,” I returned. “I’m looking forward to the Shinigamis you think you can capture.” “What an arrogant brat you are.” “I learned that here.” I boarded the raft before I could throw more words at him. The fog covered the island once I got out, masking its presence from the outside. It was just a couple of days but I’m glad I went back to this place. Now, it’s time to return to the world. I opened my device and traced my team’s whereabouts. They were moving at a fast pace so I guess Nel was already doing well and currently driving. I wanted to talk to them but it seemed like they were listening to someone. Maybe it was Commander Priam. “Thank you, Commander,” Nel said. There was a few seconds of silence and it looked like they were planning something. Huh. After our encounters with the Nox, Nel was becoming more and more like a captain. “Contact Naia,” she ordered after a minute of silence. “Tell her to rendezvous at Romania—” “I’m listening,” I said, my image flickering on their car’s windshield. Nel’s brows furrowed. “Where are you?” “Leaving Shima,” I answered. “Why do you sound exhausted? Are you okay?” Well, I couldn’t sleep the whole time I was there and staying there was mentally draining, I wanted to say but I just smiled instead. “I’m fine.” She explained what was going on and it was quite surprising to hear that a Shinigami was asking for every tribe’s representative for an odd meeting. But Nel was asking for the impossible. “—in two days.” “What? I can’t,” I said. “It will take me weeks to—” “See you there, Naia.” Before I could explain how far I was from Romania, she had already ended the call. That freaking girl. Did she just cut me off? Damn it. I’m going to break her bones once I get there. But . . . I didn’t expect I’d miss their voices that much. I couldn’t wait to be with them again.