Chapter 15: Memories of Grief

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Log #73: Kingdoms

Often considered to be the best of the best in humanity, the Elite Scouting Force, or ESF, is in charge of clearing out creatures in designated areas, as well as surveying the land to determine whether it is suitable or not for settlement. After Slayers clear out an area until it has become a safe zone, the Barricade is extended to engulf the new territory, and civilization can expand further. The ESF also takes pride in discovering and studying new types of monsters outside the Barricade, and occasionally finding small settlements of humans that have managed to survive outside the Three Kingdoms. The ESF do not use custom weapons, but instead wield extremely sharp and resilient blades known as Duratanas. For eliminating taller Shade, Pressurized Launching Devices, or PLDs, are required, which fit on its user's back like a heavy backpack. Referred to by commonfolk fairly accurately as "jetpacks," PLDs utilize controlled streams of extremely powerful air pressure to guide its user through the air to its target. PLDs are incredibly dangerous to their users, however, so only the most skilled and experienced of Warriors can join the ESF.

-General Elvira Ramos

490 BPE

No matter how many times I closed my eyes and reopened them, I was still here. I still carried wings on my back, I still possessed a nest of black, scruffy hair, and I still housed a coward within my soul. This was the third chamber in Heim's Pit, and from what I saw in front of me, it was likely the cruelest of them all. The room itself was a simple box, far smaller than its predecessors, and what resembled a projector screen covered every wall, as well as the floor and the ceiling. The entryway that led to the ghoulish creatures had vanished and no exit had presented itself for the last ten or so minutes. Honestly, I had no idea how long I was standing there; it could have been weeks or seconds as far as I knew. The only thing that wasn't a white screen in my vision was a small pedestal, with a blue button on the top.

The label read MEMORIES.

I was terrified of that button.

After what this cave had done to me the last time I had dared to venture further, I was completely terrified of that button.

Despite my terror, I could also sense that part of me, that strangely human feeling of curiosity. That small part of me was willing to take a leap of faith and push onward, if only to experience everything that Heim's Pit had to offer. The other, larger segment of my conscience reminded me that I wasn't presented with any other option; I was still trapped in a box, whether I hit the button or not. It wasn't really a question of if I should push the blue button, but when I would. Stalling wasn't getting me anywhere, so I steeled my nerves, gritted my teeth, and smashed the button with my right fist with the force to shatter bones. The entire pedestal glowed an unearthly light, and vanished. Seconds later, I was plunged into darkness, swept into the one night I would gladly have died to avoid.


"Hey, Kazu. The heck are we doing here? Aren't we a bit too young to be out this late?"

"Yeah, Russell's right, man. Your dad would be so mad if he found out."

"Both of you, be quiet. Dad won't find out, and that's that. As long as the six of us are together, then we will be fine.

Or, that's what I was hoping. Jack, Terry, Russell, Kazuki, Eir, and Junior. I was only ten, and somehow also the oldest one in our group. The six of us were all just kids, but we had strength in numbers. Junior, our leader, always knew just how to handle every situation, and she led with grace, kindness, and an iron tongue. That wasn't her real name, but it was the nickname she had adopted within days of the six of us uniting for the first time. She was the youngest of us, the cutest of us, the smartest of us, and she loved the nickname. None of us knew why, or anything else going on in her head. None of us dared to ask.

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