Chapter 16: Soul of the Inferno

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Log #20: Kingdoms

The Three Kingdoms are protected by a massive, extendable wall known as the Barricade. Its origin has yet to be discovered, and it has existed for as long as any humans who still live can recall. It appears to be an elaborate system of machinery, and requires constant energy to be fed into it in order to stay active due to its massive size. The entire system is approximately 125 meters tall, with a 15 meter-wide rampart. Below the rampart, the Barricade is largely hollow. Large parts of the interior are inaccessible, therefore we have little knowledge of the innermost workings of the system; however, we are still granted the machinery to activate it, expand it, compress it, and shut it down. For reasons currently unknown, those monsters refuse to attempt scaling or flying over the Barricade, and when it is active, they even refuse to approach it. Nobody doubts the indescribable sophistication of the Barricade, and many doubt that it was created by mortal means. Whatever you may believe, it is still humanity's savior and will continue to be so for generations to come.

-General Elvira Ramos

498 BPE


A hand reached out from the shadows, towards my oblivious shoulder as I stood in the dim, massive cabin. As a grown teenager simply reliving this memory, I knew who it was behind me, and exactly what he would say. But I couldn't move independently or change what happened, since it was still just a moment from the past that I relived through my own eyes from back then. I knew that the hand was approaching, but the Kazuki from this moment in time was completely clueless. It would almost have been fun watching the dramatic irony play out like a movie if I wasn't so terrified of what would quickly follow.

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I was just about to turn around and look for the others when I felt something suddenly grab my left shoulder. Alarmed, I yelped, spinning around and lifting my left arm to deflect whoever had grabbed me, only to slap Jack right in the face.

"Hey, ow! Come on, dude, was that really necessary?" He rubbed his cheek, grinning despite the pain.

"W-What? Hey, Jack! What the hell do you think you were doing?! Have you forgotten that this is a covert operation? Sneaking up on your teammates like that is not how it's done!" Despite my obvious anger, I couldn't help but chuckle a little inside at how openly I had handled the situation. We were both technically whispering, but I didn't doubt the possibility that everyone in this house was able to hear our cries.

"Well, jeez, it was just a practical joke, you know, lighten up the mood a bit? You gotta loosen up a bit, and not be so scared of dark houses." By now his voice had quieted down considerably, but he was still grinning. He added a wink with that last remark.

"Yeah, alright, it was a little funny, I guess," I muttered, looking away.

"See? That's our second-in-command! Ha, ha!" And with that, he proceeded to treat me like Russell and trap me in a headlock, giving me a hearty noogie.

"Owowow, okay, you can stop now, Jack. I swear, why are you always so... direct? Also, what are you doing here? Have you also explored your room?"

He took a minute to consider the sudden change of subject before responding, holding up a finger for every answer. "Because it's fun. I wanted to meet up with someone else here. Yes I am done with my room. Turns out I got the short end of the stick, since it was just an empty storage closet, basically. There were a few things scattered around, but nothing noteworthy. Just some headphones, a few colorful rocks, and newspapers. And you? You were the first one done, so you must not have gotten a stick at all!"

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