Editors: Queen of Hearts & Marshy
V.O Artist: Seraphim
Listen to this Chapter.
I Killed the Immortal
By: Oro Prizyvaushiy
It felt as if my insides had curdled; I bent over the sink and threw up blood mixed with bile. A sickening and lousy feeling—it was as if I was vomiting my own lungs out. I stood like that, tightly holding onto the no longer snow-white faience, until the urge to empty my stomach eventually dissipated.
The mirror above the sink reflected my face. I surely haven’t lost weight during this time, but I was pale, and the bags under my eyes were… quite big.
Who cares? Another dive down, another spasm. When was it going to stop already?
It looked like it was the last one. As I felt nasty dizziness, I automatically straightened up.
It was definitely time to think about the restoration of my magical powers. It wasn’t as if I just didn’t want to repeat something like that; I simply wouldn’t be able to since the price would be drastically higher.
When you don’t have mana, you have to pay with something else—something more valuable. With your own life.
Here were the consequences. For spilling the blood of the other person, I paid with my own blood. I was vomiting for the fourth time already since I’ve left Valentine’s office and returned to the Internet, and it was just an external effect. I lost a month or two of my life… A reasonable price, I must say. Although it was fine to pay it to deal with the traitor, it would be too much for other enemies.
As I said before, I didn’t really want to dig through the intricacies of my mana channels. However, if you don’t face the facts today, then tomorrow, you can face the consequences.
I spent almost everything I had on the recovery—or rather, the recreation—of my body. I didn’t know when my powers would be restored, but it would certainly take a long time. It felt like shit. I guess athletes who missed a year of training think about the same thing when they return to the gym; they remember how it used to be, but physically, were not able to repeat it.
I had to get back in shape, or otherwise… Well, this was what’s otherwise. I grinned, looking at my reflection. Evil smile, blood on the lips. Sullen glance. My appearance not only didn’t inspire confidence but was rather doing the opposite—I wouldn’t be surprised if ordinary passersby started to shy away from me.
And yet, it was worth it. Pleasure trickled through my veins at the thought that this scumbag died today and not after a while. He was the first of those who I wanted to deal with.
However, the pleasure of a job well done was a little undermined by a little thought that said everything happened so quickly—too quickly. It was fine. The rest—especially Crane—won’t be granted such an easy death. After all, the dead did not suffer—the living did. The question now, however, was how to make their lives more difficult. Take everything from them and make it my own. Finish them slowly, hit after hit, let them feel all the inevitability and irreversibility; everything that I felt, standing at the gravestones yesterday.
My stomach seemed to stop curdling; it was hard to say for sure, but, as they say, people need to believe in something. I turned on the tap and started washing away the bloody traces of my stay here. A dozen paper napkins flew into the trash can after brushing the blood from my lips and hands. I turned towards the exit of the toilet. It was time to go back. The time was ticking, and I paid for it. There was still… around an hour and a half left. Or less, if I lost track of time while staying here.
Taking one last look at myself in the mirror, I turned away and met the eyes of some narrow-eyed guy who decided to enter the toilet at that moment. His eyes flickered; he froze for a second and then ducked into the toilet stall like a bullet.
As I tried not to stagger, I returned to the PC. The place was pretty crowded, but everyone was focused on their computers and didn’t pay any attention to me. Wonderful.
Even after spending half of a day in an Internet café, you couldn’t learn everything that piled up for twenty years. However, I already started to somewhat understand the main things. So, what was I reading about when I felt sick…? Oh yeah, the Fog.
The Fog, of course, was at the head of everything. The business has become the most profitable and promising; the scientific and magical industries became the most funded. The two most respected professions in the world today were, of course, the Wanderers and the scientists who study the Fog. They were literally the elite of the new world.
Here, I also learned why St. Petersburg became so popular that the buildings had to be built ‘upward.’
The answer was pretty simple. Before I died, only the soldiers of the state armies were going to the Fog, and it was like that throughout the whole world.
Russia was the first country to allow civilian Wanderers to go to the Fog—for a certain tax, of course. And by the time the other countries also matured enough to make this decision, it was already far ahead in this sphere.
There were Wanderers’ unions, trade-in weapons, consumables, and various services and facilities—everything for the Wanderers. No wonder that adventurers from all over the world were coming here.
As to why it was Petersburg and no other city… The rest of the entrances to the Fog were either in the wilderness or in small towns that completely decayed from such neighborhoods. Only the northern capital withstood and became a unique city—a metropolis bordering the Fog.
It was quite convenient. On one side, there were foggy wastelands with monsters; on the other, all the necessary services and facilities.
As soon as I came across unfamiliar names here and there, I instantly typed them into the search bar. Oddly enough, such an unusual method of learning the topic was very informative.
Some of the names were especially common. Graham Wagner; a scientist, a billionaire, and a philanthropist. A media person. The head of a scientific group that managed to stop the spread of the Fog. Below were the dates when these events happened and the technical details about them. They meant little to me now, but if I needed it one day, I could come back to read and learn them.
Alan Cornroy. The Wanderer, one of the strongest mages in the world. The founder of the newest and at the same time one of the most influential associations of Wanderers. It was funny; ‘The Cornroy clan’ is probably not the only one that appeared in the world during my absence and rose to the top thanks to the Fog.
Shiro Hanagawa. Another billionaire and philanthropist. A scientist, a research mage, an artifactorian, the creator of several dozens of inventions that made the Wanderers’ life easier. The most famous and widespread of them was the Interface.
Stop. I need more details.
Ten minutes of intense reading gave me only a rough idea of the Interface. But what I learned was enough to understand that this thing was considered indispensable here. After all, people didn’t like difficulties, and if something could make their life much easier, they would start to use this ‘something’ all the time.
The Interface solved a problem that used to be pressing twenty years ago. Radio communication and electronics did not work in the Fog. The attempts to make a map of that place were obviously useless. All this and a bunch of smaller problems were solved by something that one of the sites called ‘the magic Internet for the Wanderers.’ Communication, database, regularly updated map, and so on.
Interesting. It seems that this was the thing the demon offered me when he promised to “help me get used to the Fog.” I guess he was right, and something like this wouldn’t hurt me at all. So, how could one get this wonderful thing?
For a minute or two, I thoughtfully studied the list of documents required to obtain the Interface with a clever look and then closed the tab. Screw it. I would try to live the next couple of weeks without this thing, and then… we’ll see.
More news sites—I was checking them from time to time. The news of yesterday’s deaths was still spreading. Oh, and here was the word of Valentine’s death. It was funny that it appeared on some yellow channel before any major site posted it.
The news itself—rather meager and briefly setting only main points—was followed by some “commentary from Kazimir Staromalskiy, a specialist in esoterics and communication with the other world.” I chuckled. What a stupid title.
“Back at night,” the specialist shamelessly asserted, “I felt a surge of necrotic energy concentrated in the area of the cemetery. Something wrathful and very powerful burst out from the Gottfried crypt; it did not stop after killing those who summoned it from the other layers of reality, and Valentine Gottfried—the traitor and one of the people who destroyed the family buried in that crypt—became the next victim.”
My chuckle became louder. Yeah, that was funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if that half-witted seer with his nonsense like “necrotic energy” and “other layers” turned out to be a real self-taught practitioner. But he was not taken seriously and got posted only on such yellow news channels.
And that was the problem. Where there was one, there were others. Those who won’t be considered fools. If my appearance really left some kind of magical trace at the cemetery, then there could be others who could detect it.
“The Crane family should beware and prepare the best magical protection because the force that began its bloody campaign will come for them too,” the schizoteric continued to utter. “Every drop of blood spilled makes it only stronger and hungrier…”
Yeah, buddy. You were right about that too. Damn right.
I will come.
“Although, was Gunther Crane the first victim? As we remember, his sister, Gerda Crane, went missing in the Fog a week ago. Perhaps, these events are related and…”
My eyes slid to the photo below. There was the Crane family in full force. And…
Fuck it. Just fuck it.
Just how… How… Just…
No, I did not have any words for that. I was just sitting, barely restraining myself from laughing loudly, hysterically, and uncontrollably. From the photo, a familiar but aged twenty years face was looking at me.
Anna. My fiancée. The one who used to be my fiancée. Michael Crane’s wife. Hugging her husband. A happy smiling face. Happy in marriage. Has two children—had, until one went missing, and the other got killed.
I slowly inhaled, counting to ten, and tried to think about it differently, more logically.
No. Fuck this too. I don’t even want to think of it. It was so freaking annoying. Why the fuck was she with that asshole?
The curse word was whispered, but loud enough for me to take my eyes off the monitor and look around. The sound came from one of the nearby computers.
Who knew, maybe someone else’s beloved girl married the man who killed his family too? It would be an interesting coincidence.
I glanced sideways at the hissing guy sitting not far from me. It seems that this was the same Asian-looking guy that I stumbled into in the toilet. Now he clung to the mouse like a beast and fought back with all his might in some FPS game. Judging by the sounds, he wasn’t very successful.
Well, it would be dumb to whine about such things in a computer club.
I clenched my teeth and exhaled. Let’s get back to the Cranes.
Gerda Crane, who disappeared a week ago, was still twelve or thirteen years old in the photo. But now, she must be at least seventeen, like her brother whom I killed yesterday. I could think about how long after my ‘death’ Anna married Michael… but it was better to focus on something else.
Gerda, Gerda, Gerda… where did you go? To me, Crane did not seem to be a person whose daughter could just disappear without a trace. If he wasn’t sure that she was still alive, the girl would’ve been declared dead to not give yellow press reasons to defame her memory with ridiculous theories and loud statements.
And if Gerda was still alive… then it means there are more ways to poke Crane in a sore spot now.
I swallowed nervously; a hard lump rose in my throat. Still waiting for your little daughter to come home, huh, Michael?
A few more minutes of searching answered my question. Although these facts were not presented as connected to each other, Crane started to actively sponsor the local Association of Wanderers around the same time the girl went missing. In particular, expeditionary groups heading deeper into the Fog quote “undiscovered” territories.
Putting two and two together was easy. The truth wasn’t even hidden—they just didn’t shout about it at every corner, that was all. Apparently, Michael has good reasons to believe that she was there.
There was no point in going back to the mansion. Indulging in memories was good, but it was better to not sleep on a cold floor. Tonight, I had an alternative—a sleeping cell here, in the club. It was a little one, but it was warm, closed and not just cheap—truly for a penny price. I guess the population of the lower floors… really did not live in grandeur.
The last thing I did before I left the PC was getting on the Association of Wanderers site to find the nearest department’s address.
Well, looks like I already know what I will be doing tomorrow.