Advent of the Three Calamities

C.21: Extra-curricular Activities [1]Mar 09, 2024
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Inhaling deeply, I recalled the burn.

The familiar smell that wafted through the air.

And the calmness that it brought me.

I used to once hate the smell.

But with time, I grew to love it.

My mind emptied each time.

It eased the pain, relieved the stress, and infused vibrancy into my otherwise colorless world. fr eewebn ovel.com

That was what smoking meant to me.

But at the same time, it was what killed me.

It gave me something but took everything away in exchange.

Which was why, the sight of it made me lose myself.

".....How do I control it?"

I blankly stared at the ceiling of my room.

Acting on impulse like that...

Losing control of myself and letting the emotions take over...

I couldn't let that continue.

"I need to control myself."

But how was I going to do that...? It was easier said than done. It wasn't as if I could ban all cigarettes from this world to stop them from triggering my memories.

....It was also impossible for me to stop using this power.

For my survival and goal...

I needed to use them.

"How troublesome."

Truly.

This wasn't a problem I could find the solution easily. The realistic approach was for me to slowly grow accustomed to this power.

But...

"No time."

The longer I waited, the more I exposed myself to danger.

I had to sort this problem out now. I couldn't leave it for later.

That's why,

"...."

Staring at my hands, an idea struck my mind. I felt my expression stiffen at the thought, but considering my situation, it seemed to be the most appropriate approach.

"Hoooo..."

I sat down on my chair and took a deep breath.

'To understand emotions, one must experience them.'

A few words stuck in my mind.

It was a quote I saw often whenever I researched about Emotive Magic. Thinking about my recent progress, it was without a doubt true.

But merely experiencing them, didn't equate to fully understanding them.

For that, it took time.

One needs to continuously experience them before being able to fully understand them.

Which was why,

Clasping my forearm, I muttered.

"Sadness."

A familiar pain invaded my chest as it started to feel heavy.

The world suddenly seemed to grow cold, and my eyes started to moisten. I bit my tongue and held the tears back.

"Huuu..."

I had to take calm and steady breaths each time.

The pain made it hard for me to focus but I still held on.

Clasping on the side of the wooden chair I sat on, I mumbled to myself,

"...I need to remain composed."

I couldn't let the emotions take over my mind like last time.

I needed to maintain my composure.

My aim in all of this was to develop emotional resilience by deliberately subjecting myself to various emotions.

Compared to the time when I just came out of 'immersion', the emotions I was experiencing were milder.

Mainly because my understanding of them wasn't very strong.

The only reason they had such a great effect the first two times was because of how concentrated my emotions were when I came out of the immersion.

Even so...

Drip.

It wasn't easy.

Staring at the tear that stained my pants, I closed my eyes before muttering,

"Anger."

Gripโ€”

My grip on the chair intensified and my chest started to rise.

A new emotion took over the last and my face crumbled.

"....Ah."

The sudden shift in emotion made it hard for me to keep my mind clear.

A fire brewed in my chest.

My breath quickened. So did my pulse.

"Kh..!"

My jaw was clenched so tightly that it started to hurt.

Even so, I kept myself rooted in my seat. Even as the world turned red and my vision narrowed.

I kept myself rooted in my seat.

My hands shook.

But my thoughts remained clear.

"C-control."

I forced those words through my clenched teeth.

R-right.

...I needed to control myself.

I couldn't let myself be controlled by my emotions again.

"Never."

***

Haven had 'Extra-curricular Activities'.

In simpler terms: clubs. With the world being grim and the student reality harsh, clubs were set up as a way to ease the mental burden on students.

"Swimming... Football... Exercise Club... Cooking..."

There were a lot of clubs to choose from. From physical ones to nonphysical ones. The choices seemed endless.

"Comedy club...?"

My eyes lingered on 'Comedy Club' for a few seconds too long. Enough to warrant Leon's attention as he turned to glance my way.

In order to remain consistent with the previous Julien, I had him help me select a course. It was a necessary step I needed to take to ensure my safety.

"Are you considering it? To understand emotions better?"

"Uh, yeah..."

That was part of the reason, sure. But there was another reason why the club interested me. I kept thinking back at the joke I said a week ago. The Cheetah, one.

It had bugged me for quite a while now.

But was the joke bad?

'....I don't think it was that bad.'

Or maybe there was a problem elsewhere? The delivery?

But thinking about it, the ones I did tell the joke to always had stiff expressions. That girl and Leon...

Tough crowd I guess.

"That would make sense, but Julien wouldn't go for something like that. You need to keep in mind thatโ€”"

"I think it was my delivery."

Yeah, it had to be that.

"..."

Leon's body stiffened on the spot.

'Ah, shit.'

I raised my head to look at him. He looked at me with widened eyes and an expression that seemed to say 'Has he lost it...?'

I felt a little offended by his gaze.

"What?"

Why was he looking at me like that...?

He opened his mouth but closed it shortly after. He then turned around to face the opposite direction.

"What are youโ€”"

"Kht."

Kht...?

I stopped whatever I was doing and leaned my head to get a better look at him.

Why is he...

"Ah."

An idea suddenly struck my mind.

I took a good long minute to think before finally saying,

"What do you call a fish with no eyes?"

"...."

Leon's eyes widened. For a moment, I thought I saw 'fear' flash in his eyes as his body flinched.

I continued,

"Fsh."

"Uhk...!"

His body flinched.

And I continued,

"What did the farmer who lost his rake say?"

"...."

"Where is my rake?"

"....!"

Stepโ€”

Without looking back, Leon moved forward. The entire time, his shoulders were trembling. Staring at him, I felt the need to continue and raised my voice.

"What do you call a fly with no wings?"

"..."

"A walk."

"....Kehut!"

Holding his mouth, Leon sprinted forward.

I chased after him.

"What did the cow..."

***

Krrr...

The form expanded, gradually unveiling its massive, decaying jaws and spiky back. A potent surge of mana swept the surroundings as the figure increased in size.

"Keep it quiet. We're not too far off from the institute."

Delilah stood not far from the creature. Her gaze lingered over the creature who stared at her with deep apprehension.

It's growled at her before speaking.

"...You think you can stop us? Your struggles are futile. Our preparations are almost done."

"Hah."

Delilah's expression changed. With a laugh, she looked at the creature mockingly. ๐˜ง๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘’๐“Œ๐‘’๐’ท๐˜ฏ๐‘œ๐˜ท๐‘’๐“.๐˜ค๐‘œ๐“‚

"You bastards are always the same. How many of your 'attacks' and 'preparations' have we thwarted over the years? Have you yet to learn your lesson?"

"..."

The beast growled.

"You donโ€”"

Delilah's voice, layered by two other similar ones, cut through the creature.

"You can't hide it from me."

The creature shuddered.

"Hide...?"

"Your fear. I can see it from miles away."

Crunch...

The beast unknowingly took a step back as its body shuddered. An unknown emotion welled up from deep within its body, threatening to consume him.

"Y-you....!"

A red glow enveloped the beast's eyes. It understood then that its emotions were being played with.

But it was already too late.

In the moment the beast stepped back, its defeat was already set in stone.

Delilah's expression returned to its usually indifferent one as she raised her hand.

"Krrrrrโ€”!"

The beast screamed, but it was futile.

Within moments of her raising her hand, the space around the beast compressed, and the echoing sound of bones cracking filled the air.

Thud.

Just like that, a 'Terror' ranked beast had died.

Udududukโ€”!

But something strange happened the moment the beast died. Black foam escaped its lips and its figure shrank to reveal the silhouette of a figure.

...A human.

Crunch... Crunch...

Delilah halted a few meters away from the body, her eyes coldly tracing it. Eventually, she bent down and turned its arm over.

"...."

A four-leaved clover appeared in her vision.

"....As expected."

She let go of the arm, and ambers floated in the sky as the body gradually disappeared from view.

Crackle...!

Her cold eyes remained fixed on the disappearing body.

Gradually, her mouth parted open to mutter,

"Inverted Sky."

A figure appeared in her mind.

One that she wholeheartedly preached to be the Black Star.

A crack yet again formed on her expressionless face.

"....I hope I'm wrong."

Foll๐‘œw current novโ„ฏls on ๐˜ง๐˜ณโ„ฏโ„ฏ๐‘คโ„ฏ๐‘๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ฃโ„ฏ๐‘™.๐‘๐‘œ๐˜ฎ

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