Published at 2nd of April 2024 01:27:20 PM

Chapter 127

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"You gotta be kidding, right?" Leo prodded, hoping he just heard the feline wrong. "I barely need sleep nowadays even when I don't devour anything. So really? Over a day?"

'I have no reason to joke,' Nyx grumbled. 'You have no idea how worried I was when you wouldn't wake up all day and night. I tried everything from screaming to slapping you. Nothing worked. It was like your body shut down and didn't respond to any signals.'

Leo sighed. In hindsight, he probably should have expected something similar to happen. In a matter of one day, he overstrained his soul, fought dozens of Nightmares under the influence of Radiant quality skill, and, to top it off, went through an instant power boost unlike any other.

So yeah, maybe falling into a coma for over twenty-four hours made some sense after all. Not that he had to like it. Every single minute spent sleeping meant a minute lost when he could have been killing Voidlings or practicing his abilities. And to hear that he had wasted over a day...

Leo shook his head. Not much he could do about it, and complaining certainly wouldn't help. Besides, as much as he didn't like losing so much time, the effects were obvious. Not even an inch of his body ached anymore, and his Essence reserves were brimming with power, just begging to be used.

Alright. Sorry for jumping on you like that. He finally said over the link. It's just... a day is a lot of time. It's been what? Eleven or twelve days since this Outbreak began? Fuck I'm already losing track of time, and it hasn't even been two weeks… I think.

For a moment, their bond remained silent.

'If it makes you feel a bit better, time doesn't matter to me. Only day and night do,' Nyx explained. 'It's hard to care about more when the memories in my head span across centuries. It all kind of blends together, or it would if it weren't for the numerous holes in them.'

Not really the same thing, but thanks for trying. I will be fine, though. After everything that had happened, this is a minor inconvenience at worst. Leo frowned suddenly as he took a peek outside through a hole. Still, a working clock would be nice. That and a way to tell what day it is. Kinda surprised the shop doesn't have anything like that.

'Does it really matter what day it is?' The feline questioned, her curiosity leaking over the link.

He snorted. Nope. But I swear the day before yesterday had to be a Monday. Only Mondays can be so shit to make someone lose the will to live.

'I don't think I understand.'

This time, Leo let out a loud chuckle. Despite the recent loss still weighing heavily on his mind, at least now he didn't feel like finding a hole and staying there for the rest of the week. The short coma must have helped not only his body but also the other two pillars.

Maybe the lost time is worth it in the end. It's pretty nice to be able to think clearly again.

Shaking his head, he opened the bond again. So what did I miss? Any problems during the two nights?

'Not at all,' Nyx answered just as she entered the hall and stopped beside him. 'I think you culled enough Nightmares for them not to be a problem for quite some time. I barely saw any, and I stayed up all night.'

Leo blinked. Huh, that's a welcome surprise. I disagree it will last long, though. Remember, I have been inside the Graveyard. There were a lot more of them there than just a hundred. At best, they are just licking their wounds and waiting for more Phanthoms to be born.

'You might be right,' Nyx bowed lightly, conceding the point. 'Although, with so many Nightmares dead, other survivors should have more time to catch up now. That's still a big advantage in my opinion.'

On that, we can both agree. He nodded, slowly approaching the exit. What about Holden's group? Any movement? There's no way they stayed inside all day...

Leo could only imagine what Holden and the others must have felt when they returned to ReachHope yesterday. Yet, looking back, maybe it was for the better that the building now stood in ruins. Nobody should have to see the slaughtered bodies of their companions, not even in this world.

'A group of seven left the safe zone yesterday in the morning. The one you call Frank was among them. They came back a few hours later, with negativity practically oozing out of them. I didn't even need any sensing ability to see that.'

A grimace spread over his face. Maybe he was too quick in thinking they wouldn't find any bodies. Despite not having his or Nyx's strength, seven enhanced people should still be able to deal with the rubble if they tried. Add to that the sea of slaughtered Voidlings he had left behind...

Either way, Holden now knows a good part of his group is dead and probably thinks I'm gone, too. Leo sighed, stepping into the morning sun.

'Indeed,' Nyx said, her warmth washing over him. 'What do you want to do now? Your shackles to this city are gone. We can leave now, find your sister if that's what you wish.'

I'd love to, but not yet. Leo muttered, glancing at the few notifications that appeared when he woke up.

Two of them he had seen before. They quickly announced that Limit Break and Devour were once again active and ready to use. Yet, it was the last one that stopped him from running straight towards London.

"Initial recovery stage finished," he read out loud before Nyx could say anything. "Moving Ruthless Efficiency out of hibernation stage and into reawakening phase. Time until completion: forty-seven hours..."

He looked at the feline. "We might be strong now, but until I get my bloodlust back, we ain't going nowhere. Ruthless Efficiency saved me once; I want to have it ready in case something similar happens... That is unless you can promise me that nothing will surprise us on the way to London."

After a moment, Nyx shook her head. 'No, I can't. We will wait then.'

"I don't like it either," Leo reassured, scratching the feline behind her ear. "But look at it this way. We just received a major power boost. Might as well take some time to get used to it and work on our skills. Then there is the Tainted Wasteland. Maybe we can get rid of it now somehow."

'And the humans? You said it; they most likely think you dead.'

For that, he didn't have an answer right away. His relationship with Holden was always somewhat businesslike. They continued to take care of his family, and in exchange, he helped them with any issue that popped out. Now their deal was null, their alliance broken.

And yet...

"I will go back," he announced, Nyx's surprise surging through their link. "They deserve to know what happened at ReachHope, even if I have to modify the story. Adam's involvement and status must remain hidden. Besides, if possible, I want Wolford as a backup plan, something to fall back on in case I need a place to stay."

'Understood. I haven't considered that.'

"It's a fresh plan, one I doubt we will ever have to use." Leo shrugged and stepped onto the street. "But hey, having different options available is better than nothing."

Just like before, every single Voidling in the area ignored him, or straight-up ran away. A few dared to look in his way, but that was where their courage ran out.

'What if they don't believe your story or ask too many questions?" Nyx asked, trotting to join his side.

"Then that's their problem, not mine. I won't beg on my knees," he snorted. "I lose nothing by doing this and can walk away whenever I want. You were right; my shackles to this place are gone, even if I hate how it happened."

Silence fell upon the duo as they walked towards the Safe Zone. Soon, though, Nyx darted into an alley, her form bursting into shadows and diving into the nearest building. Just like with Adam, her continued existence had to remain a secret.

Okay, let's face the music. I hope Holden and Frank are home, or this will be awkward.

He rounded a corner, the golden barrier appearing ahead. It wasn't until he was halfway towards it that someone spotted him. The person shouted a warning to the others outside while sprinting towards the warehouse.

At once, Leo had three rifles aimed straight at his body. Either those people didn't know him, as doubtful as it was. Or Holden somehow came to the conclusion that maybe he was the one responsible for ReachHope's destruction.

Well... he wouldn't be wrong.

He came to a stop a few feet away from the barrier and dropped his cowl. The three guards tensed but slowly lowered their weapons. It seemed they really thought he was a Voidling or something worse.

"Y-you are Leo Hale, r-right?" One of them asked, stuttering a bit.

Leo sighed, raising his clawed hands. "One and only. I take you won't shoot me if I co-"

"Hale!" A familiar voice shouted in the distance. "Bloody hell, you're alive!"

Here they come...


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