Author’s Note: I know, it’s been a long time since I posted a chapter. However, I did have a lot going on. Normally this would be posted on a Saturday… but I ended up going to a Halloween party last night despite my abscessed tooth and swollen jaw. The swelling had gone down a lot before the party. Anywho, please enjoy the chapter?
The Oracle and the Gunslinger Chapter 03 – A Living Will?
And how did I get into this predicament? Right now… I’m doing something that I never thought I’d ever have to do. What you ask? Simple, I’m running from some lizard men. Some literal four-eyed, cold-blooded bastards. No, they don’t wear glasses. They have flat heads and four eyeballs. All I know is that they are the creepiest things that I’ve met so far. Now… how did this happen in the first place? Let’s go back a few hours…
(A few hours ago)
“Well… I’m glad that that’s over. So… where are we now?”
We had just left Pauline’s court, so it was on to the next destination. The place seemed modern, more like Japan than Libertonia. But seriously… what’s with it always being an alleyway?
“Another world other than Earth. I don’t really remember them by name, you know. I’m here to visit another of my kind.” (Oracle)
Wait, another of her kind?
“No, a servant of the gods. Well… a servant of something similar to a god. Not all god servants are oracles, you know. Actually, my role is more of a messenger. There’s also guardians and weapons.” (Oracle)
How is that a role?
“That’s a term for hands. Those are the servants who specialize in fighting and punishing. Like some are called ‘sword of’ and ‘spear of’ whichever god they serve. They mainly move on the will of their god. The person we’re meeting is… or was basically one of them.” (Oracle)
“Their master hasn’t contacted them in a long time.” (Oracle)
I honestly don’t get it. Either way, this ain’t getting me any closer to my objective to learning how to defy a god. Hell, we just got done cleaning up after one who got punished for being too lazy.
“So we just gotta deliver a message?”
“Yes, that is our current task. Something nice and simple… barring any accidents.” (Oracle)
Why don’t I like the sound of that?
“This world… borders a different area. To be honest… there are things out there that are even hard for me to explain.” (Oracle)
As she’s supposedly supposed to know everything… then why did she have a face like that. It looked like she was debating whether or not to frown or just get lost in thought. Seriously, pick one!
“It’s a long story, but I’ll see if I can abridge it a little. Many eons ago, there were more races than the humans.” (Oracle)
“Yeah, even I know that. Like the demon-folk, elves–”
“That’s not what I mean.” (Oracle)
“Believe it or not, humans can be considered as one of fifteen upstart races. Not to mention there is the five transcended ones… but they are not important, other than the fact one of them likes to categorize the upstarts.” (Oracle)
“To that race, the Symphony, humans and elves are no different. They actually consider all humanoids to be the same, whether it be man, elf, orc, or goblin.” (Oracle)
I had to repeat it so soon.
“Because of their status, they consider all races that you’re familiar with as humans. Though it would be less insulting if it were humanoid instead… they are too high on the totem pole to argue with. Not even the gods can argue with them; the Symphony brush off the gods as ‘a local species’. There’s no way to fight them, so it’s better to remain ignorant and ignore them. Actually, humans are the weakest of the upstarts. The only reason that humans still exist… is due to adaptability. Whether it be science, magic, qi, etc., humans can adapt and evolve. But due to the fact that humans have popped out in many different worlds… the other upstarts consider them the equivalent of cockroaches.” (Oracle)
“Wait… what the hell?”
Seriously, we’re cockroaches?
“I cannot comprehend how they think, which is why I never talk about it.” (Oracle)
“Then why bring it up in the first place!?”
“I only brought it up as a precaution. Now… let’s see how Metri’s doing?” (Oracle)
“Metri? Who’s Metri?”
“A pet name for the one that we’re here to visit. Well… I’m the only one who calls him that.” (Oracle)
Maybe I should be thankful she hasn’t given me one of those. Just the thought of Nagisa finding out something like that just sends shivers down my spine.
“Whatever, let’s get this over with.”
We ended up walking for a while before reaching a bar named “Cymphica Atri”. Those were words that I wasn’t familiar with. But before I could ask, the Oracle answered.
“Cymphica Atri, it’s got a nice ring to it. The name means ‘Peaceful Rest’ in one of this world’s old languages. Since I’ve only been here a few times, I’ve forgotten which language.” (Oracle)
“Again, are you a mind reader?”
“Not really. Even though you wear a mask, it’s easy for me to read your emotions.” (Oracle)
What does that have to do with knowing what I wanted to ask!? You know what, forget it.
“Whatever, I could use a drink.”
“But do you even have money?” (Oracle)
I had forgotten, this is another world. I don’t have any of the currency and I’m not sure that gold from the world I’m from is good here.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pay for your first shot.” (Oracle)
“Well, that’s mighty nice of ya.”
We then entered. The bar… let’s just say it wasn’t like the saloons that I’m used to. Frankly, it reminded me more of a fancy restaurant that I was dragged to, way back in the Old World, before everything went to hell. Fancy tables, posh-looking servers, and the clientele looked closer to nobles than the rough-necked company I tend to keep, these days. Even the bar, tucked away in an inner room like it was trying to hide itself, was polished stone and not heavily scarred hardwood like one would expect.
There was a young man at the counter, cleaning a beer mug. His appearance wasn’t anything worth remembering. He was blonde haired and blue-eyed. Except, something told me that he was trouble.
“Outsiders, is it… what will it be?” (bartender)
“My friend here would like a shot of whiskey from your top shelf. As for me, a water.” (Oracle)
He followed through with the Oracle’s request and got our drinks. But he somewhat put some force down when placing them down on the bar.
“What the hell?”
“Sorry, that was an accident.” (bartender)
It didn’t seem that way to me.
“What did you–” (bartender)
Before he could finish, I already drew a revolver and had it pointed at his temple.
“There’s many things that I can’t forgive. One of them, just happens to be unjustified prejudice.”
Yeah… I lost my cool here. But could anyone blame me? Okay, sticking a gun to his head may be going overboard…
“Before my bodyguard splatters your gray-matter over this establishment, might I suggest you call in the owner?” (Oracle)
Even though she seems her usual composed yet playful and slightly flirtatious self, even I could tell that she was holding back her own anger. And I had the feeling… that it wasn’t aimed at me.
“Yes… ma’am.” (bartender)
“There’s no need.” (unknown)
We all turned to a door at the side to see a woman had just walked out of it. She had a short and delicate figure. Her hair was long and dark. And her features… even I would admit that she was beautiful. However… I didn’t feel any attraction towards her. I actually felt more attraction to my current boss… which within itself is weird. Her attire was all back, a long dress with long black gloves. A shimmery black shawl adorned on her shoulders. But the thing that seemed out of place was the band on her left arm, which is one thing that she and the Oracle had in common. It was glowing a dark red. And there was another thing that stood out. I’ve seen many eyes in my time… but her’s looked dead.
Wait… that’s Metri?
“It’s been a long time, dear Oracle. But please, call me Metria?” (Metria)
And now she’s back in her playful mood?
“Now… as for you…” (Metria)
She said looking at the bartender. Wait… did the color of her armband change?
“Yes… Miss Metra?” (bartender)
And now he’s shaking? Or is he faking it?
“Leave for the day, I will be the one to service these customers.” (Metria)
The bartender gulped before leaving the bar. I almost felt sorry for him when he left the building… almost, he was a prick. Besides… that gulp felt forced.
Not long after the young bartender left, Metria spoke.
“I’m sorry for that employee’s behavior; he’s new.” (Metria)
“He does seem a little odd, doesn’t he?” (Oracle)
I don’t know why, but I feel that there’s a double meaning to the Oracle’s words there. Still, Metria did pour us fresh drinks.
“These are on the house. Now… what brings a messenger of otherworldly gods to my humble establishment?” (Metria)
“To deliver a message, of course. Now before I give it… mind telling me why you’re dressed like that?” (Oracle)
“Wait… why are you asking her such a thing? Black’s a good color to wear.”
Says the guy who is mainly wearing black.
“Well, it feels comfortable, and frankly everyone seems to expect it of me, these days. Oracle, didn’t you tell him?” (Metria)
“I did… but he seems to have forgotten.” (Oracle)
I tried to think about when the Oracle first talked about Metria. Metri was their pet name… oh crap, ya gotta be kidding me?
Right there, the Oracle pointed at Metria.
“It’s a trap.” (Oracle)
“Pardon? I don’t think I understood…” (Metria)
“It’s actually a meme from a famous movie in another world. Except… it’s normally yelled at the top of the lungs.” (Oracle)
“A… movie? Oh, a screening. How interesting…” (Metria)
“Wait… what’s a meme?”
“It will be explained later. Now for Metri’s message…” (Oracle)
I don’t get her sometimes… okay, most of the time.
“Yes, what brings you here, again?” (Metria)
“It has to do with a young couple you brought together despite their circumstances, some years ago.” (Oracle)
Metria froze for a second. I just lifted up my bandanna while hearing his reply and drank my shot of whiskey.
“Beatrice and Simon?” (Metria)
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that she… I mean he was trying to hide his emotions.
“In five years time, the proof of their love will find you.” (Oracle)
“The proof of… Irene!? Where is she!?” (Metria)
The Oracle took a sip of her water before putting the glass down.
“Now is not the time, Metri. Irene will find you on her own accord. Do not forget, even I am not allowed to meddle with events set in stone.” (Oracle)
“Or so you say…” (Metria)
Metria took a moment before calming down. I could tell that it was tough for the guy. Also, he had taken the words right outta my mouth.
“…Very well, I will accept it. If I had listened to you the last time we met… perhaps I would not have suffered this injury.” (Metria)
He then rubbed his right arm with his left. I had noticed earlier that Metria was using only his left hand, but I normally don’t question other people’s circumstances.
“That’s why I had also given you the advice at the time to start practicing with your left arm. Anyway, Miss Bellvaunt is only part of it.” (Oracle)
I could tell that the Oracle was actually getting serious here.
“There’s more?” (Metria)
“That is correct, Metri. Do not forget, even I know that the gods have abandoned this world. Thus the Reaper Lords haven’t given much instruction to the Chosen for a while now. But there is one other Chosen that you must gain the aid of.” (Oracle)
What’s with the emphasis on the word “Chosen”?
“Dear Oracle, I’ve told you before, but the Reaper Lords are not like unto any god, but aspects of Creation itself. If what you say is true, and the gods of this world have drawn away, that would explain a number of things… but it would not affect my service. Besides… I might be the only Chosen left, by now…” (Metria)
“No, Metri, you are not the last. Setting aside the other continents… there is another in this very city, waiting in the place no one ever goes.” (Oracle)
“But other than me, there’s only… no, impossible!” (Metria)
And Metria’s panicking right now. Just who is this Chosen?
“That’s right, the wielder of Arkesis himself. Zagadactulus Invodotus Gedarasus.” (Oracle)
“No, not Zedda!” (Metria)
Normally, I could tell when someone was convulsing due to their breathing. But Metria hasn’t breathed this whole time. I could tell that he wasn’t human, but I was sure that the Oracle would tell me later. But still… are they talking about the same person?
“That’s right, Zedda. I knew you would overreact… but isn’t this overkill?” (Oracle)
“Overkill? You of all people know what Zedda’s capable of! Out of all of the Chosen, he’s the deadliest. All of the other Chosen feared him! He was my mentor, I know him the best. Only the Reaper Lords can control his actions! And they seldom bother, since he’s Jurisanti’s most trusted servant!” (Metria)
“True, not even my bodyguard here could stand up to Zedda in a gunfight.” (Oracle)
No one can beat me of all people in a gunfight!
“Lost, it pains even me to say it. It’s true that you have the fastest draw in your world. Actually, you could be the fastest in all of the worlds. However, even if you used the proper rounds for your revolvers… Zedda’s still a Chosen. Mortal weapons cannot harm him. Not to mention, his gun is a problem on its own, seeing that it is actually a dead god.” (Oracle)
Okay… when she says it like that, even I can’t argue.
“Besides… I think he faded out, after that business with that Aivon woman. He retreated into his office, inside the dead city, and never came out again…” (Metria)
“No, Metri, he is not gone. He merely… sleeps, I suppose. Awaiting his next moment on the stage…” (Oracle)
Ok, now that’s creepy. I’m starting to hope I never meet the guy.
“…Sorry to change the subject, but I’ve noticed something about your bodyguard. He doesn’t have a heartbeat.” (Metria)
So he noticed?
“As observant as usual, Metri. I expect no less from the Apostate’s Chosen. I had to use a draconian ritual on him due to the time differences between worlds. He’s essentially immortal right now. However, he’s nothing compared to a Chosen.” (Oracle)
Hey, don’t think that I haven’t noticed the emphasis on “essentially”!
“How upsetting… I can tell that he is not a true Cultivation, but if Zedda is truly still in existence, you should take him away quickly. You must remember that he only released you at that time because Lord Jurisanti interceded on your behalf… But, why a bodyguard, now of all times?” (Metria)
“First of all, you need to stop it with that way of thinking. I thought I had told you in the past that there are immortals that are not Cultivations. As for why Lord Jurisanti interceded… you should have asked Zedda. Now for as why I have taken a body guard… you yourself know that immortality and invincibility do not mean the same thing, Metri. Even Chosen can die. Even I can die.” (Oracle)
“We are already dead… no, that isn’t important. I will concede your point… but even I can tell that’s not the real reason.” (Metria)
“True. But for the record, he’s a happily married man. So that’s not the reason either. But, please don’t treat him like he isn’t here?” (Oracle)
Meh, I was ignoring the fact that Metria was ignoring me.
“Ah, my apologies, sir. That was rude of me. Then may I ask of you, why are you traveling with my old friend?” (Metria)
And it looks like I’m no longer being ignored.
“To learn how to defy a god.”
“My… you wish to ‘defy’ a god??” (Metria)
“Let’s just say that the jerk currently in charge of my world took something precious from me. Until I can get it back, I’m forbidden from ever returning to my wife.”
Metria originally had an expression of mild surprise from my earlier words. However, his expression changed to understanding when I told him why.
“Hm, that sounds familiar. But beware: there is no escape from cause and effect, and for every great deed, a great sacrifice must be made. Or as the Oracle once succinctly put: every action has an opposite and equal reaction.” (Metria)
More stuff that I don’t understand. Meh, let’s just go with it for now.
“I’ll think about it.”
“There will be time for that later. Lost, this is where we take our leave.” (Oracle)
“But before we leave, I have a warning for Metri. Be more careful of who you hire.” (Oracle)
We both then left the bar. I was just glad that I didn’t feel any attraction towards Metria. But the Oracle decided to explain some things as we walked.
“I’m sure you’re wondering why you felt no attraction to Metri before finding out that he was not a she? It has to do with your current condition.” (Oracle)
“You see… even you can sense those who are not human. The thing is that your sense is not trained well enough yet. You do not know it, but you could tell that Metri was no longer human.” (Oracle)
She had a point, I could somehow feel that something was off with Metria other than the fact he was cross-dressing. Like the whole not-breathing thing.
“The Chosen are similar to the undead, but are different at the same time. Unlike undead, they were not brought back by necromancy. No, it was the power that the gods had granted to the Reaper Lords. Even I have problems trying to describe it, but the Reaper Lords can bring back the dead. Those that they choose, do not decay like the undead do. Oh, if you ever meet Zedda, please don’t call him an undead? It irritates him.” (Oracle)
“Well, that explains why Metria wasn’t breathing the whole time.”
“Not too many people can notice that. Then again, it’s mainly mortals that are fooled. As you’re no longer a mere mortal, you are now more perceptive of these things.” (Oracle)
Even I forget, I’m not really what I used to be anymore.
“And in reverse, Metri could tell that you had no heartbeat. But at the same time, he could tell that you’re not an undead either.” (Oracle)
“Wait… am I some form of undead?”
“That, you are not. I used a ritual on you that removed your heart, the sign of your mortality. You were never dead in the first place, so you’re not an undead.” (Oracle).
“The sign of my mortality, huh?”
I really didn’t get it, but I could tell that there was probably a deeper meaning. But before we could get any further, I noticed that we were being followed.
“I can tell that you noticed as well.”
She gave me a smirk that told me I was right.
“To the asshat tailing us, we know you’re there!”
We looked at a corner, and saw the bartender from earlier.
“So you outsiders noticed?” (bartender)
He didn’t look too surprised that we noticed him. But then the Oracle continued.
“Well… I noticed that you’re not really native here either.” (Oracle)
“So there exists a human that could actually perceive me? Ah, it is due to your modifications, I suspect. Most likely, you were modified precisely for that purpose. How unfortunate; I went to a great deal of trouble to infiltrate the ranks of the hidden Servant of Power, but I suppose you already exposed my true identity to her. Deceiving a Power’s own spy, I had thought my disguise unbreakable.” (bartender)
Apparently he didn’t know that Metria was actually a ‘he’?
“I’m a higher existence than Metri, I work directly for the gods. So I could easily tell that you weren’t human.” (Oracle)
“I see…you are a Greater Servant. I shall remember. But your rank is irrelevant to my kind. Humans will always be inferior to a true species.” (bartender)
“That can be debated, your kind are arrogant after all. But to think… you’ve already infiltrated this world so deeply?” (Oracle)
“I see that thing with you is ignorant of greater truths. Humans really are insects without memory. Nevertheless, we cannot currently let ourselves be known to humans outside of this sphere-plane with the ability to traverse the gaps. The nest-heart must be protected until negotiations, or conquest, can be completed.” (bartender)
Right there, he revealed a crystal bracelet on his left wrist. He tapped a pattern on it… and started to change his form.
It was… it… Ok, look. Have you ever seen a manta ray? Its head was like that, only it was scaly and green, with four eyes, two on top of its head, and two on the sides, like a hammerhead shark. The eyes on top were staring beadily at us, while the two on the sides seemed to be wandering around independently of each other. Oh, and it had a mouth on the lower side that kind of looked like someone had slit its throat. It kept flapping open and shut even when it wasn’t talking, revealing a gross purple color inside.
The rest of its body looked kind of like a giant lizard, except it had too many elbows and knees, and its… fingers? Claws? Tentacles? I don’t know, but they seemed to twitch and twist around a lot. Oh, and it had two weird stubby little flaps on its sides, that wiggled a lot. Creepy as hell.
The only good news? It was only about two and a half feet tall. I’d hate to see a man-sized version. Oddly, three rings of floating rocks circled its body, giving off a strange hum.
“Should have known, a Melcine. And… three rings. This might be bad.” (Oracle)
What the hell is a ‘Melcine’?
“One of the other fifteen Upstart races. They consider everything with logic rather than instinct. Even though they do not know it themselves, they are highly arrogant. Their territory borders this world.” (Oracle)
“It is slightly amusing to hear a human insect accuse us of arrogance. Unlike you insects, we Melcine have true memories. We do not make petty mistakes.” (Melcine)
“Ugh… this is why I cannot stand them. This is why I warned Metri to be more careful.” (Oracle)
I could only assume that Metria couldn’t tell that he wasn’t human either. Either way, I was surprised by the Oracle’s next words.
After Note: And that was the third chapter, peeps. Yeah, it’s a crossover with Dark Jackel’s “A Living Will”. Part of the reason it took so long was because I had a bit of writer’s block. But this was actually started before he used both the Oracle and Lost Justice for “Anubai Hero”. And yeah, he had a lot he wanted edited before I posted this. Still, thanks again Jackel for letting me do this.
If you’re expecting the next part soon, I’m sorry to disappoint. I’m not sure when I’ll have it out. Hell, I’m not sure if I’ll do the live streams this week. I do hope that I will get better soon and get some more stuff out for ya guys.