We still haven't found the killer, and each step forward seems to be two steps back. The murders in the city have stopped, and it seems as though the last murder was done by the pair of Onis we've been dealing with.
The oni tried to get into the city last night, and I figured this time we would get them and I'd lead the charge. The Bronze had us locked in the safe house. There was a commotion outside and it looked like one oni was distracting some of the men, and the other oni was coming for us.
I thought we were strong enough to do it, so I convinced Mustafa and Nixie to help me chase it. Nixie can turn into animals! So she turned into a wolf and I rode her and we chased the oni into the forest. Mustafa wasn't far behind.
Once we were in the woods we lost it, but I was trying to be brave. Nixie was with me and Mustafa was coming. We heard a nearby search party come under attack. I figured we'd show up just in the nick (Nixie?) of time, but when we arrived they were all dead. The smell of blood is one I'll never forget.
Then the oni struck, and the three of us had to deal with it. It was terrible. I was far weaker than I thought. Finally help arrived and we slayed the oni, but the other one had found us. We were all beaten and bruised. I thought I was going to die.
Worse, I thought everyone else would. Since you died I've never really cared for anyone else. Not really. Yohan was my friend, but I'm beginning to realize friendship is deeper than knowing someone by name and having lunch with them. I'm friends with Ares and Nixie. Dorn is trustworthy but he treats me like a child.
What if I had gotten them killed? What if they came to help me, but they died? Died because of me?
The second battle was hard. I was struck down over and over. The massive looming oni would appear out of thin air and stabbing people. But we killed it. And no one died. Everyone was muttering to themselves about how bad that could have been and all I could think is that it was my fault.
I thought back to the bridge with Ares, and how he said I was pretty heroic. Standing there covered in blood, surrounded by people covered in blood, I couldn't help but feel it was luck. We looked as terrible as the slaughtered men and women around us. The only difference was luck.
I slipped away without anyone noticing. I went to the bridge to calm my nerves. Usually I want to write after a battle. I want to remember it. But all I want is to forget it. I don't want to hear the screams. I don't want to smell the blood. I don't want to feel cold steel bite into my body.
There were people waiting for me on the bridge. They told me to stop investigating the murders and absolve Jogrin of suspicion. They were wearing those accursed masks. My scars hurt looking at them. I wanted to fight, but then they threatened my friends. They threatened Ares.
I'm not strong enough.
Should I have fought? Should I have raised my flag and died upon that bridge? They offered me gold. And I took it.
Good and evil is so much harder than I thought it would be. This is why James is always alone. This is why no story ever had repeating characters. I wonder what he was doing in between stories. Was he abandoning everyone he met and sailing away? Was he running? Was James Highwind a bad guy in the end? Just not as bad as the rest?
Am I a bad guy for thinking about doing the same thing?
I miss you, grandma.