Azhure: this second part of the first chapter rewrite except it was too long, so I’ll have to keep both parts separate. Oh, and there will be a third and final part.
“What do you mean the call is unreachable!?”
“It says here, ‘the number you have dialed cannot be reached’.”
“What the hell, did he change his number or something?”
As blood circulated enough oxygen back to Alicia’s brain, she heard two men arguing amongst themselves.
They were two men wearing matching grey winter jackets and jeans. One of them was a large man, wearing a beanie under what she assumed to be his bald head. The other was a skinny man, at least half the size of the former, holding a smartphone. Her school bag was also there.
Looking around, she was in a large room, probably meant for huge gatherings. But it seemed unused for a long time; there were piles of chairs on the corner and several parts of the wallpaper decorating the hall was torn off.
Alicia tried to get up but felt resistance. Looking down, she was tied to a pillar in a sitting position. She also found her mouth covered with a cloth. And despite wearing stockings, she still felt the ceramic floor in the last days of winter under her thighs.
What happened? She asked herself, recollecting her memories before falling unconscious.
I entered the car and saw someone else driving a car instead of Liam. Then, someone from behind choked me. Ah!
She was abducted by them. The large man was the fake driver and the skinny man had choked her from behind.
“C’mon,” the skinny man said frustratingly. “We’re getting close making a huge buck!”
Ah, of course.
“What’s wrong, Alicia?” Ronald asked, seeing that his daughter was down. “Did something happened in school?”
“I broke up my friendship with Kathryn.”
“Why? She seemed to be a nice girl.”
“And that is why. She is only nice to me because my family is rich!”
“…Ah, I see.”
“Did I do the right thing?”
“Well, it is for the best.” He rolled his eyes. “It is better to end a friendship bought with money than letting it continue when you know that it would end if you lost the money.”
“Then who would be friends with me for just me and not for money?”
“Hmm, I know it’s hard to find people who would be friends with you for who you are. But, you do have someone who is your friend for who you are, right?”
“…Yes.” Little Alicia cheered up. “Owen is friends with me for what I am.
“And I pushed him away…”
Upon the realization, she clasped her mouth. “Oh no… I-“
“And that is why you should cherish the few true friends you have,” Ronald said as he pulled his handkerchief and wiped his daughter’s tears. “Come on, we’ll go to Joshua’s apartment so you can make up with him.”
“Oh, I know!” the skinny man exclaimed. “Go grab that girlie’s phone, it’s got her mom’s contact. We’ll just call her!”
“Right, boss!” The large man said and rummaged through Alicia’s school bag. “It’s not here, boss.”
“Then it’s on her person.” The skinny man stood up and turned around. “Oh hey, the lass is awake.”
“Now don’t be scared, girlie,” the skinny man said in an unsavory tone as he approached her. “We just need-”
But suddenly, the double door was busted open and revealed a boy in a white buttoned shirt and light-blue trousers.
“Get away from her, ugly!” he shouted.
Hearing a noise resembling a magical gunshot, Alicia watched Owen, who was still shorter than the skinny man, made an impossible jump high enough for him to place his knee on the skinny man’s face.
A few moments ago…
“Apologies, young master Ruze. Due to an encounter with some… hoodlums I have arrived late for five minutes. Where is young mistress Bell?”
Suffice to say, the old driver’s innocent question had turned both men young and old into a frenzy.
Owen, having realized that Alicia had entered the wrong identical car, that meant one thing.
She was abducted.
From what Owen guessed, the kidnappers somehow got a replica of the old car and knew that Liam would always arrive on time down to the second. So their idea was to somehow cause Liam to arrive late, arrive at the school with the fake car themselves, trick Alicia into the car, and knock her out.
Owen assumed that they didn’t account for himself joining since it’s only for today. Damn it, of all time he had forgotten his favorite pen that somehow ended up in the bathroom and went back for it.
Explaining it to Liam was easy as now Owen was in the speeding car. The elderly driver, whose face is white as a sheet, pushed the pedal hard and furiously switching gears to accelerate the car even further.
“Turn right!” Owen instructed the elderly driver. “It’s got less traffic!”
“Yes, sir!” Liam turned the wheels without losing speed, making a solid drift.
However, while that road has less traffic, it was only comparable and they were forced to stop for a red light with a bunch of cars in front of them.
“Curse you traffic jams appearing just because I’m five minutes late.” Liam curled his hand to a fist.
Now, your asking, how do they know where they are going?
Alicia’s father, Ronald Bell, installed a freaking shoe tracker, hooked up to multiple gadgets including Owen’s phone, under her shoes like she was some child. Owen swore that he had definitely put one in his shoes too.
But, no matter how Alicia wouldn’t like her father for doing so, it has certainly proved useful for finding where she was taken to.
“We’re here,” Owen declared, the res dot on his phone had already stopped at one location for a while.
“There’s the car,” Liam pointed out.
Owen could see the fake car parked under a building. He could see how Alicia would mistake that car for her own if the license plate was not read. As for the building, it was an abandoned building, its paint had worn out and the walls are covered in moss, a perfect place to hide hostages.
“Liam, I’m going in.” Owen declared. “Go home and tell Irene about it.”
“Right, I will get to the manor as fast as I can.” The elderly driver nodded. While any sensible adult wouldn’t let someone like Owen go into a criminal’s hideout, Liam knew him well that he would be fine.
“Should I call Oswald when I’m back to the manor too?” Liam asked since he doesn’t carry a cellphone with him and was too illiterate to use Owen’s smartphone (and Owen doesn’t have time to make a call).
“Yeah… we probably should’ve called him from the start.”
“…Yes, we should have.”
“Oh,” Owen stopped halfway out of the car. “There might be a chance that she’ll be back much later.”
“…Ah, of course.” Liam said, knowing what he meant. “Best of luck to you, master Ruze. Do bring back young mistress Bell back.”
Jumping over the fence, Owen dashed into the building. Fortunately, the kidnappers were making enough racket to know which room.
Obviously, the door, which was a double door, was locked.
“Oh, I know!” A raspy voice was heard inside. “Go grab that girlie’s phone, it’s got her mom’s contact. We’ll just call her!”
“Right, boss!” a deeper voice replied. “It’s not here, boss.”
“Then it’s on her person,” the raspy voice said. “Oh hey, the lass is awake.”
Oh no you don’t, Owen thought.
In situations like this, not even his Maneg Soul would be able to hold back his feeling of rushing to his childhood friend’s aid.
Looking at the slit between the double door, he placed his hand upon it.
I order you, attach to solid structure that I touch with my right hand, spread to 30 cm diameter of object, lower temperature to absolute zero, thus is my order. [Deep Freeze]
Owen felt his ice maneg performing his signature Order, stripping away all the thermal energy within the part of the double door he touches.
And then, he made a solid kick to the double door, busting it open, surprising every occupant.
Inside Owen saw one of the kidnappers, the skinny one, getting too close to Alicia, who was tied up to a pillar with her mouth gagged.
“Get away from her, ugly!” Owen shouted as he pushed his legs towards the skinny man.
[Eject] 0.01 percent from my left foot.
Although he doesn’t want Alicia to see him giving Orders, it should be fine if it’s subtle. So, he quickly gave an [Eject] Order from his left foot to give himself a jumping boost.
And landed his right kneecap to the skinny man’s face.
Upon impact, the skinny man writhed to the floor pass Alicia in agony as Owen landed from his high jump with two feet on the ground.
“W-Who the hell are you, kid!?” the larger man screamed, taken aback as his boss was taken down so suddenly.
Owen, what are doing here? It is dangerous! was what Alicia would
“Don’t worry, Alicia,” Owen assured her as if knowing what she wanted to say. “This time, it’s my turn to protect you.”
“What happened to you, Alicia!?” Ronald shrieked for his beloved daughter came home with a bruise on her arm.
“Owen got picked on again,” little Alicia replied. “Tony was going to punch him so I got in front of him to block the punch from getting to Owen.
And I also threaten him that if he does not stop, I will not be friends with him. But I do not think it worked.”
“Whoever you are,” the larger man exclaimed. “You’re not getting out of here!” And he charged at Owen with his fist pulled back.
Alicia’s heart skipped a beat as the larger man thrust his arm to Owen’s face but Owen skillfully ducked under his attack and…
Swung his leg upward between his two legs. But the larger man had only stagger as he held his groin. Owen simply prepared for the next round.
But a slash came at Owen instead. It was the skinny man, whose face was bloodied by the kick, holding a knife.
However, Owen dodged the attack by reflex. But as he was distracted by the skinny man’s assault, the larger man came behind him, tackled and pinning him to the ground.
“Gah!” Owen groaned.
“Well, well, well,” the skinny man said in a delirious state. “So you’re a piss boy hiding in the back of a girl!”
“I see, why would Tony pick on Owen?”
“It is because of Owen’s hair color. He said Owen looked like a grandpa.”
“Ugh, this has happened for a long time, me and Joshua had already talked this over with the principal,” Ronald complained. “I believe I will have to resort to more… drastic measures.” An evil grin formed in his face. Alicia shivers as her father chuckled like a villain.
“So now you wanna be a knight in shining armor, huh!?
“Give some space, you big oaf,” the skinny man shouted at his partner. “I’m gonna teach this kid what happens when you mess with my face.”
“Sure thing, boss,” the larger man replied as he moved the position of his hold that Owen’s back is exposed.
“Gah!” Owen shrieked as the skinny man plunged the knife to his back.
But it is useless and Alicia could only watch her only friend being killed.
And as if time slowed down with each stab, she recounted her memory of him as to what got them both in this place.
He, whose mother’s life was forfeit to bring him to the world.
He, whose loving father was lost to the unknown.
He, whose grandmother answering to the natural cycle of life.
He, who is all alone.
He, who regressed into coldness.
He, who was not completely cold, for he has a friend.
She, the girl who was with him since the beginning.
She, who has always shielded him from harm.
She, who endlessly done so even if it means dragging her into further solitude.
She, who is now in peril and now it is his turn to protect her.
He, who had done so and this is what happened.
And there is nothing that Alicia can do but simply wallow in despair as her only best friend dies.
And slowly, her vision darkens as if to shield her away from witnessing the tragedy that folds.
Don’t give up now, Alicia!
But then, she heard a voice.
He’s still alive! You can still save him!
Huh? W-Who? W-Where?
Look in front of you!
In front? Ah!
As she turned her head up, Alicia saw a small but bright tongue of flame.
Normally, we should introduce ourselves to each other! But we don’t really have time for that, right!?
Then can you help me?
Right to chase, eh!? But yes! I’m here to give you a superpower to save your friend there!
Then I accept it.
Whoa! Not asking why I’m helping you or whether there’s a string attached or something!?
I don’t care! Alicia spat, ignoring the voice’s weird antics. I want to save him!
Right! Right! Lemme at least make this dramatic.
Ahem, now then, step forward and take my Eternal Flame!
And Alicia did just that.
Oh, and remember to scream REALLY loud!
At once, a burst of fire erupted upon Alicia’s bondage, it did not hurt at all. She forced herself up, breaking the burning rope.
Looking down, she found her two hands were set ablaze, but it did not hurt. It felt as if it were an extension of her. In fact, her clothing doesn’t seem to be damaged by the flame.
But that wasn’t important for Alicia has a friend to save.
“Haaaaaaa!” And taking the voice’s last advice, she shouted at the top of her lungs while running to the kidnappers.
Surprised by her shout, the skinny man stopped as he was about to plunge another stab to Owen.
“What the?” The skinny man turned to the source of the sound…
Only to be met by Alicia’s burning hands grabbing his face.
“Argh!” the skinny man screamed.
“Aah!” And the sudden turn of events shocked the larger man backed away, releasing his hold of Owen.
“Agh! Let go you b*tch!”
The skinny man tried to yank Alicia away from him, but she held on. But because Alicia did not have a proper hold of the skinny man, he was able to push her away.
Unfortunately, when the skinny man tossed her away, she hit the back of her head against the wall.
Oh no. I can’t pass out now, Alicia thought as her vision began to blurry.
“My face! My beautiful face!” The skinny man staggered as he held his face. Between his fingers, the swollen skin of his face was red and full of blisters. “You’ll pay for this! I’ll kill you!”
As Alicia falls into unconsciousness yet again, she felt a cold chill. Looking at the skinny man approaching her with pure rage, Owen was right behind him.
“Thanks, Alicia,” Owen said to her. “I’ll take care of the rest, for real this time.”
And you did great!