Chapter 16: Urgency
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Spiritual World

Ozai’s voice boomed and his eyes opened, revealing a black nothingness. Ozai had no eyes. They were taken from him. But then the space in which his eyes started to glow white. 

The glowing number on his forehead finally changed to the number ‘99’. His wound was healed. But that wasn’t all that changed.

Ozai screamed in agony as limbs started to sprout from his torso, similarly to Khan’s transformation. Two pairs of limbs sprung out, each arm was equipped with an exoskeleton and claws. The rest of his body followed suit, a thick hard armour began to form on Ozai’s skin, like a centipede’s exoskeleton. The armour crept up to his face like a helmet, covering his head and his cheeks but leaving his glowing eyes and scarred mouth alone. 

The armour on Ozai resembled that of a samurai’s armour, thickly layered and pitch black. 

On his original pair of arms were long talons extending from his forearms that had a dark red tip, resembling a pincer.

“Finally… I can stretch again…” The voice that came out of Ozai’s scarred mouth wasn’t Ozai’s but that of another person, or another spirit. Ozai’s body stretched and extended his limbs, each arm clacked and clicked, and they extended, growing in length. 

“Hmmm… though it looks like the convergence failed…” Ozai spoke as he looked down and saw that the transformation wasn’t complete. His lower body had only partially transformed, the armour on his legs did not cover it fully.

“Oh… heehehheee” Eugene’s body was mangled and beaten up, but he could still find amusement in the sudden new development.

Khan was equally shocked. 

What just happened? Convergence? No… it’s not proper…the transformation is incomplete and Ozai doesn’t have control… This… this is just Omukade…

So… whose side is he on?

Ozai stepped out of the barrier. 

Khan decided that whatever would happen next, it didn’t matter, he needed to exorcise Eugene as fast as possible. 

He grabbed Eugene’s head tighter and shoved it harder into the whirlwind of energy. 

Eugene resisted, but he knew he couldn't fight back for long. He was losing grip on the spiritual world. The cracks in the world were evident of that. He was losing this fight.

“Stop!” Omukade’s voice called out. 

“No… not yet… I still need to realise my form…” Ozai’s body started to stagger and jerk uncontrollably. 

This was bad. Khan needed to deal with this separately. He had to bring them out of the spiritual world. If not, Ozai would be in deep trouble. He had to end this now.

Eugene once again seized the chance Omukade created and slipped away. 

But Khan had made it hard for him to find a space to operate in. The darkness that was once abundant was now fragmented and facing pressure in almost all directions. Khan was slowly injecting the space around them with more and more of his deadly spiritual energy. Eugene and all of his fragmented blobs of darkness could not seem to come together to form a larger body.

Eugene popped up, only his upper body could operate in the space. There was only enough darkness around him for that.

Ozai’s body was still jerking uncontrollably. He was having trouble containing Omukade. If Khan allowed it to go on any longer, Ozai’s soul might be corrupted, possibly forever.

Khan dashed after Eugene, he had to exorcise Eugene so they could return to the physical realm. Doing so would bring Ozai out of his unstable Convergence.

But Ozai stepped between Khan and Eugene.

“Let… me… Let me at least stretch my legs!” Ozai screamed in Omukade’s voice. His hands reached out to stop Khan, pushing him back. Khan was sent flying, slamming against his own barrier. Khan was surprised at the strength of Omukade. This was bad news for him.

Eugene smirked. This was his chance to regain his lost parts.

“Do you know how it feels? To be locked away, suffering for what seems to be eternity?” Omukade spoke.

“The White Guard punished me… for doing what was in my nature! I have repented, so the least you could do… is let me enjoy some semblance of freedom!” Omukade yelled as he got on his six limbs which extended longer than Ozai’s legs. The sight of Ozai’s body being held up by six black armoured limbs with his partially human legs still dangling was rather frightening. 

“It’s been a while since I’ve tasted the flesh of a human…” Omukade licked his lips slowly, feeling the scars around Ozai’s mouth with his tongue.

Khan was too tired for this.

Not another enemy…

Even though Omukade was a formidable foe on his own, Khan was sure he would be able to take him on. The problem was that this foe was possessing Ozai. And the longer he allowed Omukade to possess Ozai, the more likely for damage to Ozai’s soul. 

Khan couldn’t help but feel he was responsible for his current predicament.

Ozai had to resort to forcing Convergence in order to activate his Hundred Lives ability… I made him have to resort to that…

Some SS rank exorcist I am…

Khan shook his head and rose from his spot. 

What’s the point of receiving that rank when I let things come to this? What’s the point of all this power if I can’t even protect the lives of those around me?

Khan felt the emotion build-up from within him. He had sacrificed so much to obtain this power. He was at least going to use it properly. And he had to use it fast. There was no time to be moping about his failures. He knew all too well. This was part of the job. He had to keep pushing forward. 

Khan’s heart was racing. He felt the immense sense of urgency pushing him forward. He was going to end this.

Omukade could tell. The man before him was no longer simply just human. He was more God at this point. 

“Hahahah… I see… Well, even though I said that… The binding law of The White Guard prevents me from eating human flesh… But I do sense something human in this realm…” Omukade turned to face Eugene who was frantically crawling to gather his body parts. 

“Made from the emotions of humans, their fear of the unknown. That’s my favourite flavour of human… fear!” Omukade crawled towards Eugene.

Khan was slightly taken aback by Omukade’s sudden assistance. But it didn’t change his resolve. Time was still ticking.

Eugene could tell. This was it. He had wanted to prolong this battle as long as he could but recent developments have made it impossible. Khan’s energy was even higher than before. Khan alone was perfectly capable of destroying him but now he had to worry about Omukade as well? He had to cut his plans short. There was no way he was getting exorcised. He wasn’t going to give Khan that chance.

“It… issss… regrettable… but time’s up! I played my partttt…” Eugene hissed. 

“Your part?” Khan raised his eyebrows.

“Of course! This was all part of the larger plan… to distract you. I’m sure you knowww, time passes differently here hehehee…”  Eugene smirked as he positioned his hands into the cradle he formed before.

Khan’s eyes widened. 

Each minute in the spiritual world roughly translates into an hour in the physical world.

This was one long distraction the whole time!

“[Reverse Dispossession]” Eugene chanted and everyone was forcefully pulled into the ground once again.

Shen gazed at the gravel pavement in front of him. It was nearing evening and the hill up ahead basked in the glow of the now setting sun. Shen checked his watch, it was around half-past five.

Ryu’s house was a bust. Shen found nothing there of significance. In fact, it was too empty. It was as if Ryu himself had taken extra care to remove any evidence. 

The shrine was the only lead left. 

Shen followed the gravel pavement, it was supposed to lead him up the hill ahead. It was where the shrine Ryu built was located. Perhaps he would find a trace of Ryu’s vengeful spirit there.

As Shen approached the top of the hill, he could feel something odd. It was the feeling of him approaching something spiritual. But it was nothing too powerful, and definitely not a spirit. Still, Shen approached cautiously, there had been times when he had underestimated spiritual phenomena.

Like that time in the carpark…

Shen was particularly embarrassed by that one. 

Shen walked slowly up the hill. Soon, a large tree rose into view, next to it was a tall structure built entirely from stone. It was almost like a tower. 

This is definitely man-made. 

Shen paused before he got any closer. He was at the border. The border of a barrier. 

He looked around and saw the charms. Barrier charms in the form of small pebbles had been placed around the shrine area. But these were different from the ones used to keep spirits trapped. The charms formed a warding barrier, meant to keep spirits out. 

Shen stepped inside without issue and examined the small pebbles. 

This is no doubt Ryu’s work. So… he anticipated that some spirits may interfere? There’s definitely something going on here…

Shen slowly surveyed his surroundings. It was unlikely any spirit would be here, seeing as the barrier was unbroken, still, Shen erred on the side of caution.

In the barrier, the surroundings looked mostly the same. The tall tree was still there, branches spread wide, providing ample shade. Next to it was the same stone tower. It must have taken Ryu years to build such a shrine for his spirit. 

Shen walked around the tower, examining it. It looked about the same from outside the barrier. But then Shen’s sharp eyes caught something. He squinted as he moved closer to the stone tower. 

There were footprints on the ground near the tower. It was only one set. Of course, they belonged to Ryu. He was here to set up the barrier after all. 

But Shen noticed they were abnormally close to the tower. 

If Ryu wanted to offer another offering, he wouldn’t have to stand so close… the tower is rather high, he would have to stand back to continue building on it, even with his powers…

Shen bent down and observed the footprints. 

Ryu stood in front of the tower, near to the stones, facing them.

Shen stood how Ryu would have. Facing the tower. Then he noticed it. It was faint, but there was a subtle trace of energy inscribed onto one of the stone bricks. 

It was very faint and precise, making it hard to detect if not paying attention. 

It required immense concentration to etch an inscription of this size and detail. It would be like inscribing a detailed map onto stone with a needle. 

The inscription inscribed with Ryu’s energy was a simple set of instructions written in code. It was a code that was taught to only members of the SAIB. 

So he wanted us to find this place…

“Using spiritual energy, trace the stones in the order: Left, Left, Down, Right, Down, Down, Left.” Shen read out loud. 

It was a passcode powered by spiritual energy. 

With spiritual energy imbued in his index and middle finger, Shen traced the pathway starting from the stone brick with the inscription. When his fingers landed on the final brick, the brick started to wiggle, Ryu’s spiritual energy pushing it outwards. 

Seems like we taught him well…

Shen grabbed onto the stone brick that was now jutting out and carefully slid it out of its slot.

The brick revealed a small compartment. In it, was Ryu’s notebook.

Jackpot.

Shen fished out the notebook and weighed it in his hand. It was thick. The pages were worn out from frequent use. Shen flipped it open and briefly scanned through the pages. 

The pages contained lengthy reports made by Ryu. Details regarding the Nan Ching Massacre, eye-witness reports, transcriptions of interviews he did with residents, photos, geographical data, maps and more.

So he was doing his own investigation into the massacre…

As Shen flipped through the pages, he started to get a bigger sense of how deep this went. 

The SAIB had done their own investigation into the matter and had concluded that the spirits responsible were dealt with that day. A bulk of the investigation went into finding out who was responsible for tampering with the barrier and trapping the exorcists inside. The event had shaken the exorcist world and it was a major PR disaster for the Bureau. They quickly found the traitors and held a public execution in front of the leading exorcists and major stakeholders. The upper management wanted to quickly leave this incident in the past. To this day even Shen didn’t know if the traitors they found were actual traitors or just scapegoats. And to this day they still didn’t know how exactly the Nan Ching Massacre was orchestrated and why.

But Ryu was getting close to the answer. Shen could tell, that the information in this notebook was invaluable. He had to bring it back to HQ at once and carefully go through this with Daiyu. 

As Shen was thinking this, a picture attached to one of the pages of the notebook caught his eye. 

It was a picture taken of someone Shen found extremely familiar. 

Shen paused and stared at it. He had seen this person before. In fact, it was recent. Shen’s eyes widened in horror as he recognised the person in the picture. 

He immediately started running. He pulled out his mobile phone and dialled HQ. 

“Hello? This is Shen. I have an urgent request. Get me Daiyu on the line, and bring all trainee exorcists on non-urgent missions back to HQ as soon as possible!”

Announcement
Came down with covid on top of having a lot of stuff going on. So sorry for the late chapter and thank you once again for the support!
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