Leona was more prepared this time, and was able to take proper aim. She was still new to guns, however, managing to hit the sheriff in his shoulder.
The men chasing Leona had caught up to her by now. The sheriff grit his teeth and shouted:
“Shoot the little bitch! Kill her!!” The sheriff took an arrow and shot it towards Leona. She quickly lunged forward, barely avoiding the arrow. The arrow struck and dug into the ground with a loud thud. Arrows take time to reload, but it would take Leona at least 30 seconds to reach the main gate. The guards could easily take their time, aim carefully, and shoot Leona given this amount of time.
Sparks flew from the revolver once again, but Leona missed her target. She wasn’t yet practiced in the art of shooting.
“Catch her! Take the gun!”
Leona had become not only the enemy of Motgol survivors, but the whole town of Hyuljin when she attacked the sheriff.
‘I’ve only got three rounds left…’
There were dozens of men, and not enough bullets. The men were carrying clubs and dull swords, swarming in on Leona, ready to kill. Leona was quick - but no amount of wits would extract Leona from this situation.
Zin had given Leona the gun as a means of self-defense, not as a message to fight. The men were moving faster and more systematically than she had expected. The plaza was completely wide open, and many of the men had bows. There was nowhere for Leona to run.
The men closed in on Leona to make shooting her less of an endeavour.
“Hurry up and shoot! She’s surrounded!” shouted the sheriff.
The Motgol survivors had cut off all of her escape routes. She was as good like a hare, surrounded by hounds.
‘No way I’m gonna die in this shithole!’ thought Leona, clenching her jaw. She’d lived like a dog up until now, and she may die like a dog. But not today.
‘I’m not gonna die like my mom!’
Leona managed to roll and narrowly avoid the arrows flying her way. It was no use though. The men simply reloaded their bows. Leona had nowhere to run. She would have have to continue to avoid the arrows, like an acrobat.
Three bullets left.
‘Can I shoot the men blocking the alley and head for the trash wall? No, I’ve gotta save the bullets...What good are bullets if you’re dead? What should I do…?’
The sound of the flying arrows sounded once again. Leona responded with a fierce shout of her own:
“Stupid fucking hunter! When are you gonna get here?” The arrows suddenly stopped right in front of Leona, as if they were answering her shout.
The arrows stopped in the air, as if caught by an invisible hand. They hovered for a moment before falling harmlessly to the ground.
“Hey kid. Do you know your Pyschowave is super fucking loud? My head’s about to explode.” Somebody was approaching from the main gate. Leona saw her face first, then their clothes - nothing more than tatters, revealing most of their skin underneath.
The woman walked slowly towards Leona, ignoring all the other men. Her bleached white hair reached all the way to her calves, and her deep purple eyes called her sanity into question.
She wasn’t human. Rather, she was something else, disguised as a human.
“What the fuck...what kind of trick are you playing? Who are you??”
“You’re looking right at me...you don’t know?” answered the woman. She clenched the sheriff’s bleeding shoulder. She cackled as he let out a cry of pain. She extended her hand, emitting some kind of formless wave of air, blowing the sheriff to bits.
The next person to speak wasn’t the woman, but one of the men in the crowd.
“It’s a witch! A real witch!!” shouted the Motgol survivor.
“What do you mean? You’re saying that I’m a real witch, and the kid is a fake one?” asked the woman.
Everyone had started to scream in horror and run for their lives. The woman’s mouth opened into a huge smile.
“That’s right. I’m a witch.”
The man didn’t have any time to even plead for his life. The white haired witch penetrated the man’s abdomen with the tentacle of air coming out of her fingertips. He died on the spot. The witch continued to speak as the tentacle danced around her fingers.
“I’m also an alien.” A red wave burst out of her left hand, devouring all the men in its wake. They shriveled up instantly, as if they were mummies, desiccated from thousands of years of rest.
“And I’m a vampire.” The witch stomped her feet and a black liquid emerged from the ground. It began sucking up the men, dragging them into the ground.
Leona could distinctly hear the terrible sound of bones breaking, as the men’s bodies were forcibly into the ground.
“Oh, and don’t forget demon,” added the witch, as if for good measure.
There was an energy emitting from the witch - black, crimson, violet, even white light. She cackled in front of the crowd as they released their bowls and pissed themselves in fear.
Alien, demon, vampire, witch. This woman with the white hair was four types of devil, all wrapped in one. She continued to laugh, her expression unflinchingly horrific. She didn’t seem phased at all by the amount of death that had just unfolded at her hands. She placed a hand on Leona’s hand, her expression darkening.
“Where are you, E.L.? Are you dead?” asked the witch, staring at Leona. She hadn’t arrived here by accident. She had followed Leona’s psychowave.
To be precise, she had mistook Leona’s psychowave for that of someone else. The witch opened her mouth to speak again, visibly saddened.
“Hey kid...stay away from people.”
“Huh? What?” answered Leona.
“If you mix with people, they end up thinking they’re something special and do something stupid”
The witch extended her hand, shooting those tentacles of air in all directions. Any man that was still alive was blown to bits. Leona leaned forward into a ball, shouting. She had never before felt this level of horror.
She could hear shouts of terror and fear in all directions. The witch stroked Leona’s hair and took a step forward.
“What are you?” asked Leona as the woman strolled by, walking away.
“I’m a devil. Just like you,” answered the witch. It was as if she meant to say ‘I may be a bit more seasoned, but you and I are the same.’ The white haired witch had appeared out of nowhere, saved Leona, and calmly walked away, disappearing. There wasn’t a trace of regret or reluctance in her stride. By the time the witch had completely left Hyuljin, the only thing left alive was Leona.
Leona remained sitting for what seemed like a very long time. She was completely out of it, like a person who’d learned something they didn’t want to learn. She was completely silent.
She wasn’t exactly sure who or what that devil was, but Leona had learned something about herself.
All her life she’d believed that above all else, she needed to stay alive. That’s how she’d lived up until now.
But now, Leona wasn’t the same. What exactly was her reason for living? Leona stood up, however. She began to explore the free city. She roamed through the carnage, looking for chips to steal. Once she left the shock and horror behind her, nothing else remained. By the time Leona had taken everything from Hyuljin worth taking, Zin returned.
“....what a mess,” said Zin to Leona, who was waiting for him in the motel room. The motel was blatantly no longer in business and about to collapse. Zin had no idea what had happened in this place.
What he did know, however, was that this destruction looked eerily familiar to the destruction he’d witnessed at the fortress. He was able to take a stab as to what took place.
‘Was a devil here?’ wondered Zin. He didn’t press Leona about what’d happened, relieved that she was in one piece. Leona stared at Zin, eventually breaking the silence.
“Are you going to kill me?”
Both Zin and Leona had learned something during their time apart. The first thing Leona needed to ask was how the devil hunter would react in this situation. Zin responded with his own question, however:
“Why didn’t you just run away?” Leona lowered her head and replied in a subdued voice:
“I want to live.”
“Well then you should’ve run away, if you wanted to live.”
“I want to live, but not like this.”
“You want to know why I didn’t run away? How about you? Why didn’t you kill me, mister?”
“I couldn’t be sure that you’re actually a devil.”
“How about now? Are you sure?”
“Almost. I’m about halfway there.”
“Then are you going to kill me?”
Zin sat silent for a while. She said she wanted to live, and here she was, sitting defenseless in front of what amounted to her most dangerous foe. Leona grit her teeth, lowering her head.
Leona had managed to stay alive while on her own in the wild. She’d successfully avoided thieves, gangsters, rapists, slaughters and vagrants. All on her own. It was her steadfast belief that she had an obligation to stay alive. Until now. She sadly, unabashedly explained herself to Zin:
“My mom used to say that being alive is all that matters, even if you’re rolling in a pile of dog shit.” Zin remained silent, and Leona continued:
“But I don’t want to live like that anymore,” explained Leona. Up until now, she had chosen to be alone. Now, those solitary moments were scary and painful.
“Rolling in dogshit is just rolling. I’d rather die than live like that any longer. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to sleep under a pile of leaves, alone in an empty forest.”
She was shaking, tears streaming down her face. Leona believed that it would be better to die at the hands of the hunter, than have him leave her alone in that kind of life again. She’d learned the many good things about not being alone in her time with Zin. She didn’t want to be on her own again. Finally being around someone else had taught her what it meant to be alone. She could no longer be satisfied with merely staying alive.
She wanted to stay with Zin. She wanted life, not just survival. She’d waited for Zin when she learned she might be a devil. She thought it was impossible, but she had to make sure. Even if that meant he would kill her. Judging from Zin’s cold expression, however, she knew that he couldn’t allow that.
“Goddamn it...fucking life.”
Zin managed to conceal any expression, despite Leona’s somehow cute, albeit crude, language. Leona remained silent, head lowered. She was ready to die, if that’s what Zin decided. Zin was thinking, judging, struggling to make a decision.
He was sitting in front of Leona as Zin, not a devil hunter. He finally opened his mouth to speak as he gazed at the shuddering Leona.
“I lived as a devil hunter for 100 years after the collapse of the world,” started Zin. He seemed even more strange to her, talking about such a huge amount of time so naturally.
“And for the past 100 years, I’ve lived as a devil hunter in a world without devils.” There was no expression in his face. But it was clear that something was boiling inside him.
“It’s been such a long time…”
“Such a long time that I don’t know why I have to hunt devils anymore.”
When he was talking with Beckgu, Zin had realized the meaningless nature of his existence - roaming the earth, looking for devils. He’d forgotten long ago why exactly he did it.
Now that devils had returned, Zin didn’t feel happy. On the other hand, he felt uncomfortable. He felt like someone who was remembering a nightmare they’d long since forgotten.
“Still, I’m here on this earth to hunt devils. That’s what I’ve done, and that’s what I’m going to do.” He didn’t need a reason in particular. He’d lived up until now hunting devils, so he’d continue living like that. That also meant he’d have to kill Leona.
“This time, I’m thinking about making an exception - changing the order. I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be able to keep my promise and take you to a safe place.”
Zin was steadfast in his creed that devils had to be eliminated. Letting Leona go meant admitting to himself how much he had become attached to this stray. Leona looked up at Zin when he finished speaking. His eyes were red and watering.
“You’re next,” he said.
“Go.” What he meant was there was a much stronger devil, much, much stronger than Leona, on the loose that he had to take care of. Ultimately, however, what he really meant was that he didn’t want to kill her.
“Go somewhere and live quietly. Somewhere I won’t find you.”
A hunter showing mercy to prey - especially a devil hunter to a devil - was taboo. Zin had decided to let Leona live however, under the pretext that there was a much more dangerous devil out there that he had to take care of. The time Zin spent hunting the prototype would act as a grace period for Leona.
Leona stumbled, barely managing to stand up. Zin’s dark expression left Leona speechless.
“I’d rather...stay with…”
“Stop.” Leona was about to finish her sentence, but Zin cut her off mercilessly.
“Stop talking.” Leona bit her lips in response to Zin’s cold demeanour.
“You’ve got no idea what it means for me to tell you to go.”
“I’ve had to hunt some of the people I’ve cared about most.” He didn’t have to say that he’d killed them for being witches.
“I’ve killed people who’ve never even seen or heard of a monster, just for being a witch.”
“This is the first exception I’ve ever made. In my whole life.” Zin wasn’t even sure himself why he was doing this. He looked down at Leona and continued:
“Just by keeping you alive I’m insulting everyone and everything I’ve killed until now. So just get out of here. Please,” added the hunter. Leona couldn’t find words for a response. All she could do was clench her fists. She didn’t know exactly what he was feeling, so she couldn’t criticize him or understand him. He seemed to be saying, ‘I can let you go, but I can’t be around you if you’re a witch.’
Leona walked past Zin slowly. She barely had enough energy to move. As she passed him, she mustered the courage to mutter between sobs:
“You’re a coward, Mister.” Zin didn’t respond, and Leona continued walking, slowly disappearing. Leona had gone off somewhere else, and Zin stood motionless, alone.
He had to track his prey, but at that moment, Zin needed time to organize his thoughts.
[MUST FIND DEVIL”S BLOOD]
This message was all he could see, like it was engraved on his eyelids. Was it his obligation to cut open her chest, and rip the life right out of her?
He’d decided against that, and his reason wasn’t logical at all. His life usually followed a path far from any logic, but this time, he had thrown away his code as a hunter.
Was it worth it? He didn’t know.
There are only choices...and the consequences those choices bring. Zin didn’t stay motionless for long, and soon started moving again. Rain was starting to fall from the gray sky. The drizzle steadily turned into a heavy rain.
He was alone again. He walked directly towards his destination.
His hundred years’ of wandering were over.