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Among these arenaceous matters

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Darkness.

That was what he saw within this Hadean void of a room, with confusion twisting like a tornado inside his head while tranquility almost permeated the air without the faint sounds of his movements and the erratic breaths of someone nearby, especially with someone nearby who he could not lose focus on if he still wanted a chance to escape from here. Blue hair. Golden irises. Metal coffin. Dangerous aura. He seemed even grimmer than the first time they met despite his deteriorated health and mentality, as turbulent and disordered as disrupted radio waves, turning every station on and it would be either a channel full of late nights' horror stories or with disturbed songs played by the futuristic itonarumori instrument. Sometimes he thought this guy could have to climb on to earth from the depth of Inferno, but he was cold, cold as Satan encased in ice as Dante had described in his Divine Comedy as the one who hold the betrayal of humans' bonds; for a while it seemed like the title of the work was ironic in comparison to that person, there was nothing divine or comedic about him, unless one considered death as a bless and tragedy as a punchline - he probably did.

"Legato, can you at least turn the light on?"

"Sure."

White dim light emitted from a dusty fluorescent lamp, glowing weakly their lusterless figures and he could see the other man's gloomy shadow casted on the metal wall like a vague specter, oddly lonesome and horrid as the same time. Maybe they could have communicated properly for a while if both of them had the patience not to get in each other's nerves, which was extremely difficult with that maniac embracing a deep animosity toward him in which he could feel that obviously murderous tendency and and was amazed by it since the day they met. By this moment that hatred had calmed down a bit, still flickering as a flame of hell, yet a tamed hostility was a tamed hostility, and while he might refrain from playing around with a wild beast but if the animal was composed enough it would be a waste of chance not to approach it, right? He had handled menacing predators before, it was just that, caracals and lynxes were vastly different from a tiger whose eyes gazed with defiance into his soul and stares pierced like knives into his perception. Knives, millions of freaking sharp knives. Where did Apollo picked this henchman of him up anyway?

"Legato, can we have a talk? I don't feel so well being in a quiet space for too long."

"You initiate, then."

Cool, or not. What were they supposed to talk about? About why the heck was the watcher so freaking creepy? Artemis bit his lower lip in a rush of discomfiture, pretty sure the dude knew that already, or not, he just seemed off, living in his own egoism, an abyss with nothing inside but the vast emptiness that outspread perpetually to the end of his lifetime. He refused to believe someone could be this desolate, there must be something secretive but it was buried so deep inside that he could not find although Artemis was pretty confident with his ability to read people's true natures. In retrospect, how did that ambassador of miseries catch his attention almost immediately every time he appeared? Like putting frozen carbon dioxide into water and here comes the fog, fog covered his sight, fog asphyxiated him within the hazy hallucinations of the earth crumbled under his feet. Those bottomless pits sucked his awareness in and squeezed it under the immeasurable mass, Artemis was afraid that if he discovered what lied beyond the event horizon, there would be no escape for him anymore. But please dear, at least collect the data beforehand for the sake of problem avoidance, then he could jump back before getting bite by the crazy cat, oh el gato. You knew what they said, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer; that was Michael Corleone's saying, perfectly suitable within this elongated war of silence, yet a part of Artemis thought, hadn't they been too close for a bit too long?

"You know. When we first met, I could feel the tension between us."

"It did not get any better."

Brainstorm. BRAINSTORMMM.

"I can tell that you have a very unique mindset, perhaps a little bit too vile, okay more like really vile, but I do believe people can change to be better."

"Which is why you got fooled most of the time letting the criminals freed and retorted on you'd actions."

"It doesn't happen much."

"It happened several times already. Not too often, but still a lot. I counted."

"What are you? A stalker or something?"

"I won't be able to track you down without gathering enough information about you."

"Yeah..."

Just barely enough of a second to sigh, his disappointment in the loss of enthusiasm in chattering was cancelled by a flood of uncomfortable sensations itching uncontrollably on his skin covered with sweats dripping on traces of the scars like rain droplets trickling on the surface of a torn leaf. He felt like a tree (granted he was a plant), perhaps a laurel, except that he was no Daphne yet Apollo still had no chill, at least the two of them chased after each other mutually. He tended to cross his fingers frequently for good luck and to ease the soreness, maybe he should try to do V sign next time (or he could do it anytime he wanted), and since V sign and laurel wreath stood for victory, mayhap it would bring him a win for this quiet combat. Now mentioned, wasn't V sign a symbol of peace during the Vietnam War? That made it even better, not only because 'love and peace' was his life slogan, but also because spreading fingers was easier than crossing them. However, reducing the pains with one's fingers crossed was not a bad deal especially when he could wish for something nice during the wait until this ache was over; hey, if there was any kind of luck that he needed, then it must be vigor, for everyone and himself to stay alive and healthy, or at least alive.

It seemed difficult sometimes.

Above the dusty bars and below the grimy ceiling, between the edge of extreme boredom and irritation, for unknown reasons he was swayed once again by the motions of the only person he could see, who was squirming and gasping inside his mobile casket for unknown reason. Unsurprisingly he found involuntarily sympathetic with the guy, Artemis himself had enough of the cramps too, everyone would be driven to disturbance being hurt occasionally, even unbelievably overpowered organisms. Both of them had been in here for months with very little knowledge of what were happening outside, paying focus to each other until exhaustion haunted their brief sleeps, only to wake up almost at the same time and find themselves inundated with concentration again, again and again.

That was sickening.

"Legato, are you in discomfort?"

"None of your business."

"Knives attacked you when I showed up so I think it had something to do with me."

"..." Not giving a damn to response, huh?

If he was not tied up in imposing this strange power that he had not yet figured out what it was, Artemis would facepalm right then. What were these techniques? Think. Think. Telepathy? Psychokinesis? Perhaps, but unsure, if the opponent was a telepath then connecting with him would be easier, no? Artemis could use his ability of clairsentience and interpret that mind but so far bizarreness in behaviors and trivialities in speeches were the predominant attributes. To be honest, as a supposed telepath, that dude's interpersonal skills were horrible. Someone needed to take Communication 101, if that class was even a thing. He would take it for sure, who knew, perchance he could convince others to calm down and tame their aggressions. If only he could convince this guy.

"Hey, Legato. How did you transmit messages without anyone else noticing back then? We didn't even sit next to each other or something."

How insipid. If there was a trademark of Artemis that Hyacinth found conspicuous, it was this habitual likelihood to ask inquiries he never bothered to answer. The method was simple, by tying one end of his string into his target's eardrum and another end to his larynx, Hyacinth could send his mumbles specifically for that person to hear. To make others dismissing his presence, he used his multifunctional thread to connect to the cerebral cortex of those who were and might be noticing him, and cause a wave of electrophysiological hyperactivity called spreading depolarization that led to scintillating scotoma that affected their visions briefly until they looked at somewhere else, usually the entire process was so quick they did not even concern much and regarded the experience as sudden migraines due to the scorching weather, maybe except for one girl he interacted with but children tended to forget really soon. Of course he would not tell Artemis any of this, one had to keep the benefits for himself, at least for the current time, but as a future gift, he would give this exceptional prey a special advantage.

If only the superior being could gather 'them' all, when those pieces of broken coins became whole again, that would be the perfect challenge for one and present for another. It could be said that both would have fun with such circumstance.

Another failed attempt to gain any reply from the conversation made Artemis popped as if he was popcorn on heat. "Alright. At least tell me, you can track what is occurring outside, right?" He bursted out resignedly to the lack of patience. "You said something about killing everyone within fifty meters, I guess that's your power range."

"You have good memory." Finally. "It is. And?"

"Can you at least update to me about the situations outside? I can't detect what's going on down there, being so high up here."

"Why don't you ask Master Knives?" Hyacinth paused for a split second, actually he should not have mentioned Apollo, he did not wish for Artemis to have any connection with his Dear Boss anymore, no. "You two share a psychical bond together, don't you?"

"We do, but I don't understand what exactly is happening in Knives's head anymore. Right now, he seems both amused and disgusted. What's with that?"

Such candor. Why would he bother to understand anyway? Repressing his envy, a flash of ill will ran through Hyacinth as he tried to shun it. Indeed Artemis could not understand, but he could. After all, he was the one that had been staying by Apollo's side all this time, yet his efforts and devotion was burnt to coal at an instant when he was ordered to bring this good-for-nothing sibling of his Lord back only to provoke negative feelings from every single person of them.

"He's probably laughing at the vista of the doomsday."

"What?"

"Humans are sabotaging one another, if that's what you're curious about."

"I knew that already! How severe has it been!?"

"Famines. Thirsts. Exposures. Robberies. Murders. Cannibalism. Plagues. So on and so on. Just use your imagination."

No.

Just-hell-no! How could Artemis imagine such misfortunes befalling people he was so graceful about? How much sufferings had they gone through?All those kind souls he wished to protect. Lina. Grandma Sheryl. Meryl. Milly. Brad. Jessica. Luida. So many, many, many. And Nicholas, he arrived here with Nick, how was Nick after they parted?

He must get out of here.

.

That man asks.

"For the sake of what do you support Knives?"

It is annoying answering that silly question for so many times.

"You must have understood by now. There is no exception in that guy's targets of purging. You guys will someday be killed too and yet... Why!?"

"You can't understand?"

"..."

"From the start, to me there was no essentials for this world nor myself. Master Knives's existence was the entire prerequisite."

.

That was an inappropriate reaction from him, or was it appropriate?

Artemis raised his ears and listened. Hyacinth's breaths were overwhelmed by the static noises from the handheld transceiver integrated on his container, that thing was pretty damn handy, except no hand was actually used. Actually Artemis could not tell whether hands were used to utilize the container or not, even at this point.

A series of banging sounds hindered his rail of continuous apprehensions, stiff and rough as if someone was hammering nails into wood. Bang! Bang! Bang! Great, now he had to deal with an upcoming headache. Never mind, he had it already. His stamina had been drained out with forebodings and confusions, not go mention the other dude did not cooperate one bit in making the atmosphere more affable for both of them; he was quite accommodating for turning on the light and engaging a bit in the momentary conversations though.

"With this kind of rumpus, it's like we're actually locked inside a coffin." Another unexpected comment by Hyacinth along with a laugh, granted he was already in one, but Artemis was not, agreed he was locked next to a guy who was trapped in a coffin.

Artemis got freaked out occasionally with those awkward interchanges, sometimes he was curious if Apollo used to feel the same too. Properly not, those two were both crazy.

But Apollo and Artemis were twins, how could they be so different?

"If you don't want to view yourself as a corpse in a coffin, you may as well imagine yourself as a carrot."

"Huh?"

How tiring, all of this getting to no particular topic. Did the guy climb up here from the rabbit hole connected to Wonderland? Was this the feeling of Alice when she met Cheshire? One thing for sure, Artemis's hair was already blond and the dude's smile was always creepy. His friend 'priest in black' could ironically be the White Rabbit, and everyone knew who would scream "Off with their head!", obvious much? Damn, it seemed like Artemis had become a bit too nutty being with Hyacinth for a while. Say, how do one construe another person's intentionality speeches? How about a piece of literature's intertextuality? Well that was no literature but the eccentricities and imageries within those spoken sentences made Artemis thought Hyacinth should write a book and name it Undivine Tragedy. That sounded suitable.

"Have a great time, Vash?"

The metal door opened with with the familiar Apollo standing nonchalantly like a stereotypical final villain, asking a sarcastically rhetorical question, a bottle held on his hand. Wait, in the other man's perspective it was very likely that Artemis was perceived as an antagonist too, or a foolish supporting role. Ah, yes, that guy was the ultimately unholy person. Each of the half, blue irises reflected in the green irises and vice versa, yin and yang, when the sky met the ground and the whole planet collapsed.

Hyacinth turned off the hidden walkie-talkie as Aopollo stared at the absent arm of Artemis, narrowed his sight with a curve formed on his eyebrows and eyelids fell down dolorously. "You've never told me why you didn't fix your amputated arm."

"It's convenient, a reminder for my purpose of living and the prosthetic arm is useful for hiding extra weapons." Artemis swallowed air to stabilize himself at the abrupt emotion solidified in his throat, then stopped for a while and got a fierce peer into his brother's eyes trying to catch his attention and dismiss it from the missing body part. When Apollo looked up, how strange for them to find the morose gazes from each other rather than seeing challenging ones. Had time made us softer or had it made us more stubborn?

"You built quite a nice golden cage for yourself, Knives. Have fun in it?"

"This ark is a shelter for our kind, Vash. You and me were supposed to be kept safe in it, away from those barbarians."

"No, you built it for yourself." From a dry throat Artemis chuckled a bit, how long had the last drop of water poured into his mouth? Was that bottle Apollo carrying along water container? "I enjoyed my freedom outside."

"The freedom you have living among those savage insects isn't worth a bit. You risked yourself too much already."

"But I was freed and that's all I wish for. Knives, you're no different from our siblings within their bulbs, just one with better conditions and you exploited it for your selfishness."

"Of course, how did you think I survive through all those days?" Apollo understood what his brother was trying to convey, or he thought he did. Cage birds. That was he view his entire species as, confined as caged birds. By the time of their own liberation from the hands of mankind, he realized being kept within a cage could also have its own advantages. Apparently one can enjoy his limited life trapped in a cozy shelter with proper amenity, or, run away and try to survive by himself while being able to go to anywhere on this sandy globe. That also represented how much they were divided.

"That's the point! You don't live. You survived bitterly within your hatred and got consumed by it that you made it a goal to reach for."

Apollo grinned his teeth, white and shiny fangs even under the subdued light that instantaneously went black unsure why and behind the shadow of him casted in the front from sun ray glowing at his back, as if he had the jaw of a wolf.

"I made the right option. You should see what those insects are doing now, brutally assault one another by the excuse of survival."

"And you took away their resources, suppressed them and created the behavioral sink that suffocated them in it."

"Indeed, otherwise how will they learn our pains?" Apollo widened his stare. It was useless bargaining with a madcap being that indulged in insanity for too long. "Have some water, Vash. The day of judgement will arrive soon."

From the small corner, Hyacinth beamed fondly as if he was expecting something. After demurely pouring the cool liquid into Artemis's mouth, Apollo left laconically with a "take care of him" directed at his servant, and left both of the two within the room of isolation behind closing doors.

And darkness one more time invaded the place.