Having a sibling could be a happy thing at times. In hindsight, I feel lucky that my brother turned out to be the person that he is. There are many stories told by the dead where family feuds have caused them suffering and thus forged an indefinite attachment to the living world. As my only direct relative, he sure is acting the part despite all his shortcomings.
We are both walking through, according to him, one of the caves surrounding Comodo. I can feel the damp air, wet ground and hear drops of water on puddles. It’s also very, very cold…
“So, why are you in your birthday suit?” he asks nonchalantly.
“I don’t know,” I sigh, “I was already cold and nude when I woke up.”
“How about I give you a piggy-back? It can keep you warm!”
As much as I appreciate his thoughtfulness, I hope he doesn’t make this kind of suggestion to every ‘liberated’ person that tells him they’re cold. “No, thanks.”
But I smile a little; he probably would.
The sound of his footsteps stop and I bump into what presumably is his back. “What is it?” I whisper. He holds my arm and pulls me back a little.
“You can’t fight without your dagger, right?”
“I’m helpless without it. What’s up?” Making use of his silence, I take the opportunity to concentrate on my hearing. There are the ambient sounds of the cave as usual. Then I pick up something else; a mass of slithering in the distance. A monster?
“Well,” he finally speaks, “go ask your friends to show you the exit.”
“What? I’d rather stay with you-” I groan. He doesn’t know what they’re like. A bunch of dead people who don’t want to pass on to the afterlife are clingy and obnoxious, even if I’m grateful that as a Soul Linker, I can rely on them to work around my disability. Still I prefer to be with someone I trust…
“See you later!” He lets go of my arm and darts ahead like he usually does, displaying one of his staple skills to the monster; Provoke, “OH ODIN, WHAT HORRENDOUS HAIR THAT IS.”
Immediately I sprint forward. Regretfully it’s the only thing I can do right now, and as much as I tire of dealing with ghosts I will have to rely on them. They will provide the sight that my eyes lack.
Like the countless times I’ve done in the past, I slip my mind into the ‘other side’. This is the side full of wailing ghouls and sobbing spirits only visible to those with a tight connection to their spirituality and instinct; the only world I can see.
As expected, numerous voices start ringing in my head— A flurry of complaints, insults, and names of various foods.
“I want hamburger! Sushi!”
“Princess, you’re naked!”
“Shut up and help me run!” I plead, “Lead me to the exit!”
“Sure thing, babe~”
Glowing spheres of light zigzag in front of me and I take chase. The ground changes textures between hard rock and damp sand, cold air blowing over my skin giving me goose bumps as I plough through. Is my brother safe? No… he should be. He doesn't know how to die.
Suddenly I sense a life force ahead. Crap—
I collide with it, falling forward and grazing my palms as they save my face from the same fate. My knees hit the ground, losing balance on impact, and I start rolling then slide to a stop on slimy gravel. Suspecting that I might have hit a person I slip back into the living world.
“Agh! Oi, watch where you’re goi— Huh! Why aren’t ya wearin’ anythin’????”
That’s the natural reaction for a person, I guess. I’m safe. “Sorry about that. Are you stuck here as well?”
“Damn right I am. There’s a Tao Gunka loiterin’ about near the exit. It ain’t budged the whole time I been watchin’ it.”
“Um, are you male or female…” Suddenly I feel self conscious about my predicament. That voice does not sound feminine.
“Wuh— Of course I’m a lady, doesn’t the bikini make it obvious?” She snaps, “More importantly, we need you to wear somethin' before we run into a guy…”
Then a familiar voice echoes through the caves, “HEEEEEY! SO YOU MADE IT.” Oh of course he’s safe—
“Oh hi, Kafra Cali! So you found my sister!”
“Geeeeeeh…” Cali seems distraught. My brother has that effect on people. “I-is that your blood?”
“All this? Yeah, I suppose it is. Ha ha ha ha!” He then holds my hand and places something on it, “We’re almost out so I made this turtle shell bra for you to wear. Here, you can wear my swimming shorts too.”
“Uh, wait,” I stutter. Cali snorts and clears her throat as he thrust his shorts on my other hand. Whatever, I’ll just wear it.
“Ahem,” Cali starts. She appears to be taking this pretty well. “You’re a Lord Knight, yeah? Do ya think you can do somethin’ about the Tao Gunka near the entrance?”
“Oh? My sister is good at baiting. She can really run!”
I feel their gaze on me. Sure, I took the bait role not long ago either, but right now— as I’m trying to ignore the dull, numbing pain on my knee—
“Actually, I’ll do it!” My brother speaks up, “I’ll need a save point here. Can you do that for me, Cali?”
Cali coughs again, “Yeah, I’ll try… Okay. Ya good to go. Also…” She pauses for a moment, “Can we try get the gemstone on the monster’s head? Eheh…”
Huh. Do we really need to do that—
“Sure! Here Sis, you know what to do,” my brother says as he gives me another turtle shell. Oh boy, I’ll need their help again.
“You guys,” I call out in my mind.
“What is it princess?”
“What can I do for you?”
“What is it?”
“Mark the top of Tao Gunka’s head for me, please…”
Even without the Stapo card on me I figure I’m a good enough shot to knock it off. With the momentum of a single rotation, I launch the turtle shell at the fuzzy glow amassing over in the distance.
“You did it, princess!”
I quickly slip back into life to hear rapid footsteps and the noise of tumbling rocks, steadily moving further away, and eventually, my brother’s war cry echoing.
Not long after, his rapid panting is present. I can feel his body heat nearby bringing comfort to this dank place. He's sputtering and coughing. Gee, he didn’t have Butterfly Wings on him so it must be a near death condition that allowed the save point to activate…
“Ya ain’t dead yet,” Cali says, “Here, let me help you up, yeah? Wait— get somethin’ to cover that up first…”
We start walking towards the cave mouth, stopping a little midway— probably Cali picking up the gemstone— and I wonder why my brother does these things for people.
I reach out to him, and bring one of his arms over the back of my neck so I can support some of his weight. He has carried me since I remember, so carrying half of him is really the least I can do. As we approach the smell of sea breeze and sounds of crashing waves outside I’m once again thankful for my one and only sibling.
Please don’t turn into one of those wandering spirits. Not until I can right what wrong I’ve done to you…