"Are you okay now?" I asked while tending her injured arm.

"I feel sick but better than I expected," Raven replied.

Nandito kami ngayon sa hideout niya. Well, not exactly the hideout you'd expect since we were in her mansion. Her husband's mansion, to be exact.

I had to close my mind even though she couldn't read it. Pakiramdam ko kasi, nababasa niya ako. Hindi ko alam kung bakit niya ako tinulungan. She was known to operate by herself, just like any other zweites, yet she managed to track and help me.

"Is your husband here?" tanong ko dahil parang wala pa akong nakikitang kahit na sino rito.

"He's out of the country," she replied.

"I see."

Nabalot naman kami ng katahimikan at pagkatapos kong lagyan ng benda ang sugat niya sa braso ay lumayo ako sa kanya. Her gaze was following me and it felt like she was studying every bit of my movement.

"Why did you save me?" I asked and she gave me a subtle smile, as if she was already expecting that question.

"What do you think?"

"I don't know. That's why I asked."

"I generally don't like people, especially guys, but you seem to be the only one I can bear to be with."

"Liar," I blurted out and she flashed an amused smile.

Hindi ako ganoon kagaling tumingin kung nagsisinungaling ba ang isang tao but my instinct was telling me that she was. Among the zweites I had seen and talked to, she and Ebony were the most complicated.

Pinatuloy naman niya ako sa guest room at agad ko 'yong ni-lock. I left Nigel an encrypted message about what had happened since he might not be able to see me there tonight.

Humiga ako sa kama at naalala ko ang mga nangyari kanina. I was wondering why those three went there. Was it their idea? Was it an order? We were already briefed about what happened to Nigel's hideout so any agents weren't allowed to go there.

Were they still tracking me?

Oh, God. Just like what Ulysses said, they might really become a hindrance to our mission. Should we let them act this way? Would they tell them the truth? Hindi ko alam kung ano ang plano ni Dad pero sigurado akong nakarating na ito sa kanya.

Naramdaman ko naman angpag-vibrate ng comm device at pagtingin ko ay may message galing kay Ulysses.

Looks like they did that on their own. They were already reported and according to the Executives, they won’t be handed any missions for the time being.

A sigh of relief escaped my lips and even though I felt sorry for them, that would be the best solution to our problem. I couldn’t believe that Naia would be that reckless. Hindi ko tuloy alam kung mata-touch ako o mafu-frustrate.

I laid on the bed for a few minutes before I decided to search this room. However, I didn’t find anything related to the Nox. Nevertheless, I still put a listening device to monitor this place for a while.

Lumabas ako ng kwarto at pinuntahan ko si Raven. She was looking out the window, her gazed fixed on the moon. I quietly approached her but she glanced at my direction before I could even take a step closer.

“We will be busy for the next few days,” she said as she returned her gaze outside. “The auction will be Nox’s greatest achievement.”

“Right,” I replied. “Several countries will surely be interested with the Navis.”

“Of course. They can help them win wars. Who wouldn’t want to possess a weapon like that?”

I bit my lip to keep myself from retaliating. Those Navis were humans, too. But because of them, they couldn’t even feel any emotions and they had no choice but to obey them. They became machines controlled and used by mere humdrums.

“Then those zuersts must be busy right now,” I said, fishing for more information.

“Those monsters are always busy,” sagot naman niya. “You know what, even now, I still couldn’t believe that those kinds of people exist.”

“You mean, the Chromes?”

Napatingin naman siya sa akin pero hindi ko mabasa ang expression niya. She sipped from her glass of red wine she was holding and it looked like blood upon the glint of the moonlight. 

“Did you hear that from Spider?” she asked and I shuddered when I remembered that hideous man. “Well, the Blacks call them that but according to Ebony, they call themselves Erityians.”

Hearing that name from a humdrum’s mouth felt wrong. It should only be spoken among us, among Erityians themselves, yet some mundane organization had the nerve to talk about us.

"Erityians, huh? I still can't forgive those fucking brats who stomped on my pride," I muttered, pertaining to myself and Cliff.

"Those Reds?"

"Yeah. But that girl already died before I could even kill her."

"Speaking of that Red, there's something suspicious about her death," she said and my shoulders tensed for a bit.

"What do you mean?"

"I was there when I checked if she was really dead but I still can't trust that man," she said, her expression was a mix of annoyance and curiosity.

He must be pertaining to Ulysses.

"Are you saying that that Red is still alive?"

"I don't know. What do you think?"

She fixed her gaze on me and for a moment, it felt like she could see through my disguise. I flashed a quick smile and looked outside, the moon quietly listening to our conversation.

"I don't know. I wasn't there. Ikaw lang ang makakapagsabi. If you think she's dead, then that's it. However, if she's alive, then she must be doing her damn best to hunt all of us, and I hope she'd find me first so I can settle my unfinished business with her."

She snickered. "Still sore about that loss?"

"I didn't lose. I was just unfocused."

"If you say so."

Ibinigay niya sa akin ang isa pang wine glass na nakapatong sa window sill. We drank in silence as we listened to the crickets and other nocturnal creatures outside.

Matapos no'n ay napag-usapan namin ang mangyayari sa auction. She was assigned to assist the delegates from the countries while I was tasked to prepare the other items that will be auctioned.

"So you're going with Pitch and several drittes," she said and I shuddered when I realized I'd be alone with the guy who almost killed me in Nightfall.

"That guy's a nightmare," bulong ko at nakita ko ang pagngiti niya.

"Speaking of nightmare, I still can't believe that that person is Midnight," she said, a curious smile pasted on his lips.

Hindi naman ako nakagalaw matapos kong marinig 'yon. Midnight? Alam na niya kung sino si Midnight? Ang sabi nila noon, wala silang idea kung sino siya. Then, how did she know?

"You know his identity?" I asked, still in disbelief. Seryoso ba siya?

"Ebony and I know Midnight's voice since we already received orders directly from our boss. It was quite a surprise to see that person's face."

I was itching to ask about Midnight but she might find me doubtful and the last person I want to be suspicious of me would be her.

My mind and heart were racing from trying to remember who we had encountered. Midnight might be a Shinigami or a Senshin but my senses were telling me that that person is from our tribe. The Nox's boss is a Custos.

Almost all agents I know flashed in my mind and I couldn't imagine that one of them, one of the people I trust, is Midnight.

Matapos ang ilang oras ay nagpasya akong umalis at dinahilan ko na kailangan ko pang asikasuhin ang mission ko. Raven didn't say anything anymore and that kinda crept me out. It felt like she was watching my every movement, just like what her alias does.

I turned on my earpiece to hear any movement from Raven's home but there wasn't. Still, I left that on, just in case. Dumiretso rin ako sa zweite's headquarters para tingnan kung may makukuha akong kahit anong information. Isa pa, ayaw ko munang bumalik sa hideout dahil may probability na may nagmamasid pa ro'n.

The mansion was empty when I arrived. Buti na lang at nakita ko ang susi sa mga gamit ni Jade bago ako umalis sa hideout. I figured out it would be helpful, especially since I'd be here frequently.

I went straight to the living room and I stifled a scream when I saw the severed head, still on the table. Nanghina ang tuhod ko dahil dim lights lang ang nakasindi at sa direksyon ko pa nakatingin ang mga mata niyang nakadilat pa. Damn that lunatic Ebony!

Kinuha ko ang tela sa gilid at tinakpan ko ‘yon. If it weren’t for the ice bucket where it was placed, that thing would decompose in a faster rate.

Naglibot naman ako sa mansion. I didn’t dare to turn on all the lights, in case there’s someone here. Instead, I use my watch’s flashlight and started roaming around.

I didn’t care about the details when I first went here but I realized Ebony was really rich. His huge portrait was hung above the fireplace and you could easily say that he was a fine man and had the looks of an actor. Now, I just see him as a madman.

The walls were also quite a sight, as they were patterned from the Renaissance Era, I think. I approached one side to inspect it but upon looking at the design, it seemed like something was off.

“A hidden compartment, maybe . . .” I mumbled and when I touched a specific brick, I heard some kind of gears turning and clicking. I might have activated a mechanism.

True enough, a five-level shelf appeared from the wall and the rows were filled with files and folders about the five Nox circles. My eyes paid particular attention to the two highest shelves containing the zweites’ and zuersts’ classified information. I was about to reach one folder but I felt an intense killing intent and the next thing I knew, my dagger had already clashed with a sword.

“Why are you here?”

I shuddered when I heard the man’s voice. I couldn’t see him in the dark but I already knew who he was the moment our weapons hit each other.

“What do you think, Pitch?” I asked, thinking about any possible escape plan. Fighting him directly would be a disadvantage for me.


Napatigil naman siya sa pagsasalita at maging ako ay napalingon sa direksyon na tiningnan niya. We felt another presence and my body trembled that person’s intent was much stronger than Pitch. Nagulat naman ako nang biglang takpan ni Pitch ang bibig ko at hinila niya ako para magtago. Hindi na ako pumiglas pa dahil alam kong ‘yon din ang mas ligtas na paraan.

I heard careful footsteps approaching our direction. My heart was pounding painfully and I couldn’t decide if it was because of his presence or my nerves were on the edge.

“Finally, Lace,” that person muttered and I wasn’t sure what surprised me more: him, mentioning my Mom’s name or his voice that seemed familiar but I couldn’t remember its owner.

Who in the world is he?