With a quick flick of his wrist, the red-haired male sent another rock tumbling effortlessly across the water’s surface. He’d set up a small campsite alongside the body of water, a fire burning brightly beside him. The only sound that broke the silence was the burning of wood and the stones bouncing across the still liquid. It wasn’t as if he wanted to stay beside a lake by himself, but he had no choice.
After losing his fellow members of Oracion Seis, Cobra realised that there was nothing else going for him. His only friend was his purple snake, Cubellios, who had curled up by the fire, falling into a deep slumber. Cobra had been separated from them and it made him angry. It made him want to inflict upon others the same pain that he had felt.
For a while, after the event, he’d merely wandered. He’d wandered without any idea where he was going, or where he wanted to end up. It was if he had been trapped in a daze, as if he were sleepwalking. His mind didn’t properly wake up until he had reached a village. A village that no longer existed.
It wasn’t as if he’d intended to hurt all of those people. He just spent a while wandering around, asking people to see if they would offer him some shelter or hospitality. When he was turned away by every other family, Cobra began to lose hope, fearing that he would have to rest up behind a random house. But, after arriving at the last house in the village, Cobra found people that were willing to take him in.
A young girl had opened the door, her green eyes wide as she stared up at him. Cobra grimaced as he looked down at her, fully expecting to be screamed at. But the girl stared for a while, as if she were caught in a trance.
“H-Hello, are your parents’ home?” Cobra’s voice was hesitant as he addressed the girl, not wanting to scare her away. The young girl blinked, seemingly snapping out of her daze.
“Hi, Mister!” Her blonde pigtails bounced as she greeted him enthusiastically. Cobra sighed inwardly; he didn’t want to stand and have a conversation with her, only for her parents to turn him away in the end. “My Mama’s making dinner right now. Do you want to talk to her?”
“Y-Yeah.” Cobra said, before adding, “Please.”
Suddenly the girl gasped, her eyes going wide again. Cobra froze where he was, wondering what had caught her attention that time. And then he felt the scales dragging along his neck, the small head peeking into the corner of his vision. Cubellios.
Cobra’s brows furrowed. He shot another glance at the small child, fearing that she would be afraid of his friend, like most other people. But the girl started giggling, bouncing up and down in front of the dragon slayer.
“Is that your pet?” Her emerald eyes were now fixated on the creature.
“More like my friend, but essentially, yes.”
“Can I touch it?!”
Cobra nodded, kneeling forward so that Cubellios was at the girl’s height. For a moment, he feared again that the girl would run away. But instead, Cubellios remained still while the child showered her with attention.
“Who’s at the door, sweetie?” An older female voice resonated around the hallway as Cobra continued kneeling on the floor. The child drew her hand back, spinning around to face her mother as she emerged from the kitchen. The older female looked straight at Cobra, her eyes wide. “Can we help you?”
Cobra straightened himself up, before getting to what he had been meaning to ask the whole time. “I was wondering if you might allow me to stay here for the night. I don’t really have anywhere else to go, so I would be really grateful.”
The older woman thought for a moment, before ushering her daughter into the kitchen, whose warm light looked so inviting to the dragon slayer. Then she approached the door cautiously, her brow arched. She pondered for a moment longer, before stepping aside. Cobra felt his chest tighten.
“I haven’t made that much food, so you’ll have to forgive me for giving you a smaller portion. But you can use our spare bedroom for the night.” The woman finally showed him a small smile, to which Cobra nodded. He headed inside, grateful to have been shown some kindness.
The night passed peacefully, as Cobra made conversation with the girl and her mother. The little girl was enthusiastic when talking about their village, going on about her friends and her school and how much she liked the park. Cobra could only listen, nodding and smiling gently. The girl paid close attention to Cubellios, fawning over the snake at every possible moment.
Her mother was quiet though, her eyes clouded by sadness as the girl rambled on and on. There was something wrong, Cobra could tell that immediately. But he chose not to pry; it would be wrong for him to hassle strangers about their business, when it had nothing to do with him. Yet Cobra couldn’t help but notice the girl’s mother growing tense with every praise the girl paid to her village.
It was only as the girl was being put to sleep that Cobra noticed something was wrong. He was clearing up dishes, after offering to do them, when he heard the child coughing, spluttering. At first, he thought nothing of it, waving it off as nothing more than the child choking on air. But the coughing became more violent. Louder. Harsher.
Cobra decided to abandon the plates, instead creeping upstairs to see if he could offer some help. When he peered into the girl’s room, full of pretty colours and stuffed animals, he saw crimson staining the mother’s apron. He saw tears falling from a pair of eyes that were prettier than any jewels. It made his heart stop.
Soft whimpers were coming from the older woman, though they were hidden by the intense coughs coming from the small child. Cobra made his way into the room, not wanting to intrude, but unable to stand back and do nothing. The mother glanced up at him, sobs threatening to spill from her lips.
“Wh-What’s happening?” He asked her, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“N-No, there’s no-nothing.” The mother cried aloud, hugging her daughter closer to her chest, despite the blood that was staining her clothes. The daughter wailed piteously between fits, her blonde hair falling out of its pristine pigtails. “S-She’s always been like this. Sh-She grew ill after some people in the village did h-horrible things to her.”
Cobra wasn’t sure why the woman was giving him such private information, but he couldn’t help feeling sorry for the child. He kneeled down again, patting the girl’s blonde hair gently. Surely there was some medicine he could get, surely there was something more he could do.
“E-Ever since, they’ve refused t-to give us medicine. Th-They wanted us to leave this town, b-but I just don’t have the money. I-I can’t take her away from this awful place!” The woman’s desperate cries touched Cobra’s heart and he stood up, ready to search the village for the medicine. But when he went to leave, the woman’s voice stopped him. “I-It’s too late. I knew this day was going to come. I’m sorry you had to see it.”
There was something about the way she spoke, something about the resignation within her voice that spurred Cobra even further. Already, he’d had to deal with such awful misfortunes in his life. He knew how hard it was to lose someone you cared so deeply about. He wasn’t about to stand by while another person lost someone they loved.
As Cobra walked out of the house that night, his anger led him to do things that he never would have dreamed of. One by one, he brought sleep upon each and every person living in the village. They were going to pay for what they had done. If they were going to take the life of someone so young and innocent, then he would take it from them.
He was sick and tired of people being forced to suffer such injustice when they didn’t deserve it. And so havoc was wreaked upon the village that night. Screams and cries bled late into the night, piercing through the overwhelming darkness. People tried to run, but they were unable to run from the sleep that overcame their bodies.
Yet, when Cobra returned to the house, where the little girl had been struggling, her found that both of the girls were dead. His heart broke, seeing them cuddling one another. The mother, stained with blood, had her arms wrapped tightly around her daughter, her chin nestled in the soft, blonde hair. The child, despite the dried blood on her chin, wore a soft smile.
Cobra sighed to himself, throwing another stone at the water as he pushed the memory from his mind. The rock, instead of skipping, merely sunk through the water with a harsh plop. He groaned to himself, laying back on the grassy bank, beside his warming fire.
Once the town had been found, people began to speculate about what had happened. People knew that someone had slaughtered the villagers living there, but they had never quite figured out who. There were some people that tried tying it to him – particularly those from Fairy Tail, who knew exactly how he fought – but he hadn’t been found since Oracion Seis had been destroyed.
And he never would be found. Because Cobra decided, after enduring so much pain and after inflicting so much pain upon others that he wanted to sleep, too. He wanted to rid himself of his own suffering, wanted to finally be at peace.