I can’t say that I learned much from writing this chapter. I’m presently on chapter 20 (I believe) of Cullinan Diamond Hunter and Leonardo and Kode have yet to interact. I intend to add more depth to their relationship and make fewer references to Barcode.
8 – LOST
Kode and Leonardo hike up a long, muddy path. Fallen branches and large stones make the road difficult to navigate, but the men move quickly, like soldiers trained to endure these conditions.
They travel through complete darkness with the sounds of various creatures croaking or crawling in the background. Leaves occasionally shuffle, following the sound of wings that belong to an evolved species of animals that have learned to thrive in the darkness. Much like those creatures, Kode has a god-like ability that allows him to both see and hear anything within a five mile radius. His ability improves as his strength returns, but his abilities are presently limited.
Leonardo also has techniques that guide him through the dark. His countless insects scout the areas ahead and guide his steps.
“But that’s the best part,” Kode says while sliding down a small hill. “They never expect you to return to the scene of the crime.”
Leonardo follows closely behind Kode. He coughs, “This is still a game to you? I’ve lived in misery for—”
“Blah. Blah. Blah,” Kode interrupts. “I welcomed you to Shiva, and I would’ve taken you off this planet at any time. But you chose to stay, and stopped me from getting back to Earth.”
“That’s after you cloaked Earth in darkness,” Leonardo shoves Kode while passing him up and climbing over a large fallen tree stump.
“How many times do you want me to say sorry? This permanent darkness is a consequence of me becoming a god.” The demon loses his footing when trying to climb the log, but Leonardo reaches down and help him up. When he reaches the top, Kode continues, “I would’ve fixed my mistake, but you stopped me before I could. Now, half of the people on this planet aren’t even human anymore.”
“More than half,” Leonardo corrects. “And I wasn’t the one who stopped you. Valerie found an ancient spirit known as Adu Ogyinae. He taught her magic to protect us, but when she finished her training, it was too late. The world drove her mad and she blamed you.”
The two men reach a stone wall that is twenty feet tall. The uneven layout of the stones provide just enough space for them to climb, but there are too many obstacles in their way. They have traveled on foot for three days, the stones are wet, and they are exceptionally tall. Smaller fingers would certainly help them.
Kode leans against the wall, taking his first break in the past hour. While catching his breath, he complains, “First, I would like to petition that Val was crazy long before I met her. She tried to kill me after I helped her dig up her immortal boyfriend. He killed her to protect me, which is how she discovered her immortality.”
“I know the story,” Leonardo says while rolling his eyes. He sends a few of his insects ahead to search for any form of technology that could help restore his energy.
“Secondly, I’m not responsible for your behavior. This world was filled with technology before I left, but the survivors of my war were so innately evil that they fought for rights to control the world and destroyed it instead.” The last words to Kode’s statement are slightly difficult to hear because he runs away without warning. Leaves rustle and various animals scatter as he attacks a two ramanga that had been stalking him for the past few minutes.
The creatures cry mournfully as they are absorbed into Kode’s flesh.
Kode returns to the stone wall, running swiftly. He releases a toxic energy from his heels and leaps up the wall. He manages to grab the ledge of the wall and hold on tightly as Leonardo makes a similar jump. The alchemist grabs ahold of Kode’s shoulder and climbs to the top.
Kode and Leonardo fall onto the cement while gasping for air. Leaning his head against the wall, Kode punches Leonardo’s arm and asks, “How many wars have you lived through? Should you blame me for each one?”
“I do blame you, Kode.” Leonardo stands slowly and looks out at the entrance to Valerie’s castle. “And after you help me regain my strength, I’m going to kill you.”
Kode chuckles while asking, “Isn’t that your daughter?”
Brick and Celeste walk down the stairwell at the entrance of the castle. Celeste holds two large containers that have clearly been chilled. Vapors fall from the box while Brick continues to shove and taunt Celeste.
“Hurry up,” Brick commands. “Mother needs as much blood as she can get.”
Celeste loads the containers in the back of the vehicle and replies, “Yes. But fear cannot spare her.”
Brick grabs Celeste’s shoulder, spins her around, and slaps her. Though her statement wasn’t enough to encourage an attack, he always searches for any reason to abuse her. Celeste reminds him of everything that lost. She also reminds him of Sol, which is the reason he slaps her again.
Kode clears his throat and waits for Brick to turn around. Brick removes a gun from his holster and aims at Kode and Leonardo.
The demon ignores the weapon and takes a step forward. Brick fires a shot that strikes Kode’s torso twice, but Leonardo punches him before another round can be released. When Brick is on the ground, Leonardo lands nine more punches. Then, he stands and inspects his daughter’s cheek before leaning against the car.
With a wicked grin, Kode stands over Brick and says, “Young man. Despite your crude treatment of a harmless girl, we require your assistance.”
Brick grits his teeth, which are coated with a layer of blood. He cries, “Demon!” while attempting to stand.
Kode steps on Brick’s throat, and listens to him choke. “You see, Seth. That’s what I’m talking about. Everyone calls me a demon because of you.” He points at Leonardo. “And you think it’s funny.”
Leonardo drones, “It’s hilarious actually.”
After pouting for a few seconds, Kode remembers that Brick is beneath his foot. He quickly jumps away and halfheartedly apologizes. While Brick gasps for air, Kode says, “Listen. You’re too weak to consume, but I’ll still throw you from the mountain if you don’t help us.”
Brick threatens, “What are you doing here? If Mother—”
“You’re right. Mother might be able to kill if she were here.” Kode slams his hand against his forehead and pleads, “Seth, please don’t tell me that your digital insects are eating the car!”
The alchemist jumps in the front seat and turns the key to the ignition. “I’m the genius, remember?”
“No. I don’t,” Kode replies while lifting Brick from the ground and throwing him in the back seat. While walking to the front seat, Kode checks the bullet holes in his clothes. The wound has already sealed. A small bruise remains in their place, but that soon fades also.
Kode holds the passenger door open and motions for Celeste to enter. She sits beside her father and watches as Kode joins Brick. Kode is seven feet tall and Brick is over two hundred pounds of muscle. The two large men struggle to find space in the back seat of the coupe, but Kode manages to get comfortable.
Brick, on the other hand, remains uneasy and searches for a way to escape. When he realizes that he is trapped in a car with the two oldest and most powerful men to walk the earth, he lowers his head and asks, “What do you want?”
“Directions.” Kode slaps the hood of the car, which prompts Leonardo to drive. Then, the demon confesses, “We got lost on our way down the mountain.”
Greer and Kami sit at opposite ends of a long workbench in the newly constructed laboratory. The workbench has several beakers and flasks with colorful liquids sitting inside. One of the flasks has a dark green fluid that continues to twirl without being stimulated.
The room remains rather dim, besides the bunsen burner that sits between Greer and Kami. The lights are still being tested throughout the building, but the gas line is rather stable.
Kami plays with a cavansite crystal, a spiky blue and white stone, between her fingers while adjusting controls on the workbench. The controls are connected to a large crystal ball that sits at the center of the room. The crystal ball works much like a weather monitoring system, but the screen monitors magic usage within various populations. This includes ramanga movement, which Greer intends to analyze.
The sorcerer removes the cavansite crystal from Kami’s hand. The sudden action causes her to jump in her seat slightly. She nervously tucks her hair behind her ear and continues moving the controls.
Greer takes the twirling green fluid and pours it onto the cavansite. Once the fluid strikes the crystal, a grainy substance is produced. The grains resemble white sand, but they glimmer slightly. Using his spatiomancy, the sorcerer places the sand inside of the crystal ball while chanting a spell.
Kami adjusts the controls once again, causing the sand to turn black. A map of all seven provinces appears. The map is made of tiny alchemic equations.
The spins around the map. The millions of tiny grains each represent ramanga. Larger grains are for stronger creatures and smaller ones are for the weak.
As Kami zooms in on specific areas, Greer checks his watch and analyzes the room. The sorcerer chuckles and says, “I think I’m going to fire my contractor. Blas’ team built this place in thirteen hours.” Annoyed by Kami’s vow of silence, he turns around and snarls, “What? Are you really still mad at me?”
Kami frowns and smacks her lips slightly. “You left a hole inside of Sol’s abdomen. You kidnapped Celeste. And Sol stabbed himself because of you and Eris, but you ran away just when your neck was on the line.”
“I only helped my customer,” Greer states earnestly. “Your psychotic mentor, Eris, did most of those things.” The sorcerer circles the crystal ball, searching for any potential anomalies. “If you ask me, you’re more likely to cause this group harm than I am.”
“Why is that?” Kami sputters.
“I only kill for money. If no one pays me to kill you, you’re safe. But you’re still practicing black magic, and we saw what that did to Eris.” Greer stops near the east side of the map, near Valerie’s castle. “Now, let’s talk about those patterns on the screen.”
Kami squints and leans forward. “What patterns?”
“The one near that mountain.” The sorcerer points to a mountain that’s just south of the castle. “Zoom in.”
With one swipe, Kami zooms into the area, revealing a small cluster of very powerful ramanga. “I’ve never seen something like this. How big are those grains?”
Greer never takes his eyes from the map, but he steps back and commands, “Now, dial it back four days, when Kode first attacked.” He watches as Kami slowly moves the timeline of the analysis. The grains move all around the mountain, but they are never close to escaping. “Just like I thought.”
“They never left the area.” She stutters, “We have to tell Sol.”
“After you tell him how you feel.”
Kami snaps, “What does that mean?”
Greer grins and points to the map. “They’re lost. Or they were, but they’ve found a dragon’s lair.”
Finally stepping away from the workbench, Kami joins Greer near the map. She tries counting the number of grains that join together just around the time that Kode appeared. “Are you sure this is because of the demon? This could be a coincidence.”
“No. I did the same thing when I first met him,” Greer confesses. “If it weren’t for a friend, Kode would have consumed me too.”