I have never experienced passing out after reading an Erityian’s mind until now. According to Mitsuo, I was asleep for about three to four hours. Talk about getting unconscious repetitively.

“Where are we?” I asked since I felt some rocking motion.
“At the east border of the Philippines,” sabi niya at nanlaki ang mga mata ko sa narinig ko.
“What? Why?”

Aayos sana ako ng upo pero bigla akong nahilo. I remained unmoving until the throbbing subsided. The Black Dimension and his memories seemed to have a synergistic effect to my system and I’m not happy about that.

Nang umayos na ang paningin ko ay nagulat ako sa nakita ko. We were in a motor boat in the middle of the ocean.

“W-what are we doing here?” tanong ko dahil hindi ako makapaniwala sa nakikita ko.
“We’re going to Shima. Sorry if I didn’t ask your permission but I think you’re safer when you’re with me.”

Napatingin naman ako sa kanya dahil sa sinabi niya dahil ngayon lang siya naging ganito. He’s usually cold to me so this kind of treatment was bizarre to me.

“You’re my mission,” I said and he looked at me, surprised. “I’d still come with you. Hideo will scold me if I don’t bring you back.”

His dumbfounded expression was replaced with a contemptuous smile and my heart has suddenly increased its pace. I recalled the reactions involved in attraction and love and this is one of the markers, unless I was feeling fear.

“I see,” he said, his eyes twinkling like aurora. “I told you, right? I can’t return anymore.”
“Why? Give me a sensible reason.”
“I was trying to tell you but you passed out,” he teased but I managed to control my expression.
“Then tell it to me right now and not by your thoughts.”

Naging seryoso naman siya at hindi ko alam kung dapat ba akong matakot. That was the same expression he gave me when he left.

“Well, since that place has been revealed due to the jailbreakers, might as well tell you the whole story.”
“I’m listening.”

Nanatili akong nakasandal at siya naman ay nakaupo sa harapan ko. I already have an idea about his background though there are still some details that I don’t understand. I need to hear it straight from him.

“As I’ve said earlier, I’m from Jikko clan, a clan of executioners.”

Naalala ko naman ang sinabi sa akin nina Michiko at Akira bago ako umalis. According to them, those Executioners kill Erityians and even humdrums who defy the laws of their community but almost all Erityians think that they are just a myth. However, sitting in front of me is the living proof.

“Why is there a hidden clan of executioners? And where is this Shima island that you’re talking about?” tanong ko.
“Our story goes back to our ancestors. Ishida Jikko, the head of the clan and Shou’s right-hand man, killed hundreds of humdrums when they were in Germania. During that time, there was a religious war happening.”
“The Thirty Years’ War?” I asked and he nodded. I remembered reading that when I researched about post-Holy Roman Empire.
“They didn’t have anything so to survive, Ishida, without getting any consent from Shou, worked as a mercenary. He killed hundreds or maybe thousands of humdrums, or maybe Erityians, in exchange for food, clothes and money. When Shou and Veronika learned about it, they decided to exile him and his entire family.”

Bigla naman akong nalungkot. Shou is considered as a great man who established the Senshin tribe. Ishida Jikko did what he thought was justifiable but to Shou, he defied the ethics of a Senshin. It must be the differences between their beliefs.

“Shou didn’t want to lose him so he told him that instead of killing innocent people, he should catch the villanous ones
the embodiment of demons,” he said.
“Innocent? How can you say those people are innocent when they’re involved in war?”

He simpered at my words and showed me his gun.

“Politicians declare wars but they aren’t the ones who suffer. It’s the people. Those he killed were refugees and soldiers who are just the victims of decisions,” he said and I can see the distaste on his eyes. “I understand his reason but not his action.”
“Then, he was exiled in Shima?”
“Yes. Along with his family.”

Nagulat naman ako nang biglang siyang tumingin sa gilid. Humigpit ang hawak niya sa baril at ako naman ay nagmasid sa paligid.

“Why?” I asked while looking at the vastness of the ocean.
“We should move quickly,” sabi naman niya saka siya tumayo papunta sa motor.
“Nasaan ba tayo? Is this the only way to Shima? The ocean?”
“Yes, because Shima is in the Pacific Ocean,” sabi naman niya kaya natahimik ako.

I knew it. We’re really in the Pacific. I had a hunch since the closest body of water in the Philippines is the Pacific Ocean. But did I hear it right? Shima is in the Pacific? Then it must be one of the islands in the Oceania region.

While he was steering, I had the luxury to gather my thoughts. Mitsuo is from the Jikko clan, a family of Executioners who were exiled in Shima because their forefather violated the Senshins’ ethics. For centuries, Shima and its inhabitants were just a myth. Mitsuo went to Tantei High but it seemed like he was just forced to do it. He was also distant to students, even to us, just like Akemi. One night, he just left without any explanations, without any goodbyes.

I already had an idea about Akemi being a Shinigami but confirming it still surprised me. Ngayong unti-unti namang unti-unti nang pinapakita sa akin ni Mitsuo ang tunay niyang pagkatao ay hindi ko maiwasang hindi matakot at mamangha. Now that I think about it, we’re the same yet different.

Once again, I tried reaching for his thoughts, hoping that I could see some of his memories but before I could even get through his head, a whirlpool suddenly appeared in front of us.

“Be alert. Someone’s here,” mahinang sabi ni Mitsuo at agad ko namang hinawakan ang pamaypay ko.

The whirlpool became larger, pulling our boat toward its center. Mitsuo tried to drift the both away but whirlpool’s power was stronger.

“You can’t escape it anymore.”

I was surprised when I heard a voice on our left side and when I looked at it, I saw a woman on a makeshift raft. Her eyes were like the color of an unruly sea.

‘A Huntres?’
 I asked.
‘Yeah. She has a water attribute so be careful,’ he replied, still trying to avoid the maelstrom.
“Isn’t it beautiful, young Executioner? You met someone who just escaped from that hell. Are you going to catch me?” she teased and dipped her hand in the water. All of a sudden, three other whirlpools appeared around us, swaying the boat back and forth.
“Damn it!”

Mitsuo aimed at the woman and shot consecutive bullets but a wall of water deflected them. Our boat lurched sideways and we almost got capsized but the whirlpool on the right side vanished.

“This is fun,” the woman snickered, her hands still dipped and moving in a circular motion. “Isn’t it, kid?”

She pulled her hand from the water and columns of swirling water came into view. For the first time, I felt helpless and I didn’t know what to do.

“This is my territory, kid, and nobody is better than me in the water. Thanks to that guy, many of us managed to escape,” she said as the water columns grew taller.
“I won’t let you go any further,” sabi naman ni Mitsuo at muli siyang nagpakawala ng mga bala, pero gaya kanina ay hindi pa rin ‘yon umabot sa babae.
“You think your words can scare me? C’mon, kid, I know that you fear the open ocean. This is one of your weakness.”

Pagkarinig ko no’n ay napatingin ako kay Mitsuo at nakita kong namumutla siya. Hindi ko alam kung paniniwalaan ko ba ang sinabi niya pero sa kalagayan ni Mitsuo ay mukhang totoo ‘yon.

“Drown and maybe you can meet your grandfather in hell,” she said as she released the columns of water toward us.
“Mitsuo!” I yelled but he remained still. I ran to him and held his arm.
“That old man . . .”

His voice was masked by the raging sound of the water and the boat, as well as the two of us, overturned. The impact of the water pushed us deep enough and I can’t breathe properly anymore. When I checked Mitsuo, his eyes looked dead and he was just looking at me like he had already given up.

tawag ko. Hinawakan ko siya at sinubukan kong umangat pero tinutulak lang kami pababa ng tubig. ‘I’m going to get us out of here.’
‘Save yourself,’ he suddenly said and that made me stop for a second. ‘I can’t swim and I’ll just be a burden to you. So please, leave me here and save
‘Shut up. Don’t let her words affect you. This time, I’m going to save the both of us,’ I said and I used my sixth sense even if my eyes hurt.

I can clearly read his mind right now and all I could see was his grandfather. He was remembering him after the woman told her that.

The water’s movement stopped and I didn’t waste any second. I pulled him up even it the weight was too much for me. My sixth sense ended after four seconds so I had to use it again and again until I can see the surface. We broke through and luckily, we got drifted near an island so I pulled him toward it.

“W-were safe . . .” I whispered as we collapsed on the shore.

My sight was blurry and it felt like my lungs were filled with water but I approached Mitsuo and checked his condition.

“Mitsuo,” bulong ko habang tinatapik ang mukha niya pero hindi pa rin siya nagigising. I tried chest compressions to restore his blood circulation and breathing but he wasn’t responding. “Please, wake up,” I pleaded as I moved to his face. Hoping that he would wake up, I gave him air.

For several times, I went from chest compression to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, praying that he would respond and wake up and when I was gradually losing hope, he coughed out water. Tinitigan ko lang siya habang nilalabas ang tubig sa katawan niya at doon ko naramdaman ang pagod.

He was catching his breath while clutching his head. He looked around in a hurried and concerned manner and when I met his eyes, he immediately hugged me. Nagulat naman ako sa ginawa niya at parang lalabas na ang puso ko sa sobrang lakas ng pagtibok.

“W-why? What’s wrong?” tanong ko habang nakayakap siya sa akin.
“Nothing,” he breathed. “I’m fine now. Thank you.”
I can’t move after he said those words but when I accidentally read his thoughts, my breathing almost stopped.

‘Thank you for not letting me go. Thank you for letting me see your face after that endless darkness.’