25/8/20 – updated
Season 1 completed
I ran towards the staircase and the lift. From the corner of my eye, I saw one of the Hags charge at me only to get stabbed by Kylie’s claws before being pulled back into the fight.
The Hag broke off all the claws embedded inside her and went after Kylie whose injured fingers had already regenerated before I could blink.
I didn’t even catch a glimpse of Kristin with the mess of bodies crisscrossing each other.
I took 3 steps down the stairs before jumping the rest of the flight onto the landing. Stumbling I little, I looked back up to see the humanoid spider crawl rapidly into the stairwell I was in.
It’s head rotated 180 degree such that is was no longer upside down it continued to come after me.
I went down another flight of stairs and was about to make my way down to the ground floor when I almost screamed.
Another Hag just arrived and it was looking cautiously at the unattended trolley of it’s kind.
The moment we made eye contact, I could see it’s limbs relaxed and it climbed over it’s own trolley towards me.
I backed up and ran into the 2nd level.
My feet barely carried me past the old and dinghy lift lobby when I was swept to the ground by the spider.
It felt like someone rammed into me.
I got up and looked up at the spider that was hissing and screaming at the burn on it’s elongated hands.
The cloak. The energy cloak by Hector.
It will burn them if I hit them.
Joel : Hector…. Is the energy cloak permanently on… ??
Hector : I can keep it on…. But it would mean announcing to the whole world where I am….
Joel : Do it… !
I ran at the spider and I jumped up towards the ceiling as if I was about to dunk a ball into the basketball hoop.
I grabbed onto one of it’s long limbs with both hands and it screamed and I yanked it down to the ground.
Writhing in pain, the spider right itself up and swung it’s limbs at me.
I ducked twice before blocking a hit with my raised left arm to protect my head.
I could hear a sizzle by my ear. Like you are pressing raw meat onto a hot iron skillet when the arm of the spider hit me. The impact was hard enough to disorientate me even.
I staggered to the side and right into the waiting flailing limbs of the hag.
I heard the sizzle again as the cloak of energy Hector put up around me burned and stung the Hag.
Her limbs let go of me and I punched it in it’s face, sending it sprawling backwards into the stairwell.
The spider was backing away, swinging it’s arms wildly like when you suffered a burn.
Not wanting to waste time, I went for the spider. I jumped onto it, hugging onto it’s body like I was riding an angry bull.
The sizzling sound from the burn made me sick as it tried to shake me off it’s body.
It rolled onto it’s back and could feel the weight of it’s body on me. It’s squeezing the air out of my lungs. I thought it would be probably be the weight for a human but it appears to be twice as heavy.
I tried to push it off me. I felt like I was a gym goer that overestimate the amount I could lift and doing it without a spotter by my bench.
The spider rolled off me and it was hopping mad.
I could literally see the skin melting off it’s body from the places I’ve touched.
It backed into a corner of the wall and it started to shiver and tremble.
I turned and the Hag was gone.
There’s just this spider glutton left for me to deal with.
Joel : Hector… it’s shaking… it’s shaking… what does that mean… ? is it afraid of me or what???!!
Hector : put up a water shield…….quick !…
I did my best to concentrate and I pulled water in from the pouring rain outside the building.
I barely managed to get a horrible looking shield the shape of a crumpled mahjong table when I watch the spider spat at me.
A long stream of goo like stuff splattered all over the water shield and upon hitting the floor, I watched that stuff bubble and eat into the bare concrete.
Joel : Ewww…..
Hector : it’s going to dissolve your flesh if it hits you without my cloak…….
Joel : Then why do you need the shield for??!!
Hector : Because that shit stinks !!
The spider started shaking again and instead of waiting for it to spit, I held my hands up with the shield and I started running towards it.
Like pressing a table against an opponent, I bulldozed it against the side of the abandoned building.
It shrieked and trashed, the limbs were not burning this time round since it was shielded by the water.
I thought of removing the water shield so I could burn it with Hector’s energy but another gob of spit splattered all over and onto the ground beside me.
I could smell it, there’s this rotting stench that made me feel like puking.
Joel : aRGHHH!!!
I could feel the water in my hands getting harder and stiffer and I really used it as a table.
I kept smashing it onto the spider like some gangster fighting in a coffee shop.
The more I smashed, the more the glutton backed into a corner.
In my excitement, I lose control of the shield and it broke into 2 before returning to it’s original useless form.
It splashed everywhere and I got wet. If I didn’t knew better, I would have thought I’m attending the Songkran festival in Thailand.
The spider back to the corner and just when I thought it had nowhere to go, it climbed backwards onto the wall before changing it’s plane of movement to the ceiling. Within seconds it was back on top of me.
I tried to pull it back down to the ground but it was faster.
It backed away, putting distance between itself and me.
I thought that was it, it will stop coming after me after it knows I have a cloak of energy around me. I was wrong.
It’s hands went to it’s mouth and the grotesque fingers started pulling something out of it’s mouth.
Joel : I’m going to be sick…. What is it doing…
Hector took a while to reply but by then, the spider pulled out a string of some sort that is glowing. I felt the heat and that was when I realised it was fire.
I could feel the heat from it’s flames.
Hector : Clever boy….
Joel : What… !! ??
Hector : It knows you have the shield….. he can’t grab you physically… but he can still hurt your with it’s elemental energy….
Joel : Fire…? It’s using fire…. ?
Hector : duck !!!
I dove to the side as the spider swung the whip of flame towards me, charring the ground I was standing on.
It retracted and it swung the whip back before swinging it at me again.
I barely ducked it this time round and the heat felt so close to my face that I thought it singed some of my hair.
Joel : I’m water….!! Aren’t water suppose to counter fire or something…
Hector : It’s is… but do you know how to use it ??
Joel : Teach me something… anything… !!
I feigned left then right, then left again and I ran towards the spider just at it whipped at me. I got away again and I tried to jump up to the ceiling but it got smarter. It’s legs scurried the body away as if it had a life of it’s own.
Hector : I can’t !! …the cloak is the best I can do…. I’m too full to eat anything…
Joel : Shit… !
Right about then I saw a pair of legs appear from the ceiling, stomping down on the spider and bringing it to the ground.
Kylie and the spider went at each other when I heard Kristine call out to me from behind.
Kristin : Joel !!! are you ok ??!!
I looked at her and saw that she was bleeding on her forehead. Her knuckles and elbows were scrapped and she was bleeding too.
Joel : I’m fine….are you ok ??
Kristin looked at the spider glutton on the floor before turning to look at me.
Kristin : How is it possible you are without a scratch… ?
Joel : What… ?
Before I could say anything else, I felt a something grab me from behind.
Joel : aEGHHH!!!
I was yanked backwards into the stairwell. My back hit the old metal railing before I dropped onto the steps, rolling down onto the landing just above level 1.
My ribs felt as if I broke something.
Hector : Sorry man… I stopped the cloak…. you are going to have a hard time explaining if the girls sees that….
Before I could reply Hector, I saw the 1st glutton with the long arms grabbed onto Kristin’s neck. Kristin was lifted off the floor and both her hands were clawing at the fingers of the monster grabbing her.
I ran back up the steps and I balled up my right fist.
Joel : ARGNHHHH!!!
Just before I hit, I felt a whoosh of energy surging towards me.
Somehow I managed to cover my fist with my element just before I smashed it into the arm of the glutton.
Kristin : gASP!! Aghhh!!..
The glutton did not register the pain but it was enough to let Kristin loose.
Without thinking twice I dove at the glutton and clasped my fingers around it’s neck.
My right hand that still had remnants of my element felt the ethereal neck while my left hand touched nothing but air.
Joel : aRGNHHH!!!
I tightened my grip on the glutton and I pushed it back into the other wing of the industrial building, brining it further away from Kristin.
The shorter hand of my opponent punched me several times. I could feel the impact but I could also feel it’s punch being absorbed as well.
With each punch, I could feel water splashing at the spot it punch me.
I didn’t have time to bask in my short triumph when I lost control of my element again.
One moment I was grabbing the neck and the other moment I was grabbing nothing but air.
I fell right through the glutton and onto the cold wet floor.
Hector : roll to your left Joel !
I did exactly that and as I flipped up, I saw hand of the glutton sharpened itself into a stake, stabbing into concrete floor beside me.
The glutton swung in a mechanical manner like a MechWarrior, rotating it’s torso and jabbing the stake towards my stomach. I shrunk and was suddenly glad I practised the YMCA dance often enough at the club to be able to form a really curvy ‘C’, narrowly avoiding the fatal stab.
I felt a sudden vortex of wind behind me and before I knew it, I was lifted off my feet, plunging backwards into the lift lobby.
Kristin pulled me back and she clasped her hands together with a smack, conjuring up another shield of wind.
A circle opened up on the dusty ground upon which we stood. Years of dust swept outside the protective circle, revealing the tiles underneath.
The glutton charged right towards the sphere of wind, it’s longer arm wrapped around the angry ball of dust and debris while it’s shorter and sharpened hand rear back like the tail of a scorpion ready to strike.
Kristin : aRGHHH!!!
I felt an increase in intensity from the swirling air around me.
The glutton’s stab penetrated right through the shield and I saw it’s hand disappear into Kristin’s left shoulder blade.
Kristin : eRNGHH!!!!
No blood came out but you could tell she is hurt.
Remaining on her feet, Kristin took a deep breath like she was playing a game of tug of war. Only in this instance, she was trying to stop the hand of the glutton from going further and deeper into her.
Kristin : 1st gate of will………. Kai !
For a split second, I could not breathe.
I collapsed onto my knees as I felt air being sucked out from my lungs.
It’s like someone jab a knife into me and deflated my lungs.
It felt like vacuum.
My vision went blurry for just a brief second before I felt the explosive burst of energy rippled outwards from Kristin.
It was so strong that it snapped the arm of the glutton off cleanly before repelling it 5m away.
It tumbled and rolled on the floor before coming to a stop.
Both it’s arms were gone, leaving only a stub that looked like it was smoking.
Kristin collapsed onto my arms and when I touched her shoulder, it felt like it was on fire.
Joel : Kristin !!.. Kristin !!
The armless glutton is not giving up yet.
It bared it teeth and duck walked towards me like a damaged doll.
I felt something I could not explain.
A surge. Like a tidal wave.
It started from my groin area, rising rapidly into my chest.
My hands felt the same ticklish feeling from before. The rain got heavier and my palms started to accumulate water droplets.
I swung my body in front of Kristin, and I was about to swing and punch the glutton when somehow I tripped and fell. I could feel the change in equilibrium as I fell to the ground.
The glutton is almost upon me.
I opened my palms to break the fall and when I slapped my opened hands onto the ground.
A vertical column of water sliced from the bottom upwards like someone driving a piece of glass though the concrete floor below me and into the ceiling above.
I could hear the sick sizzle of water cutting through the glutton’s head.
It happened so fast.
When I felt the pain of the fall, the glutton collapsed onto a heap beside me with smoke smouldering from it’s ghostly remains.
My nose suddenly was assaulted with the strong scent of ginger like someone just injected wasabi into my nostril.
Hector slid out of me and I watched him chomp down on the severed head of the glutton before he slurped it into him.
As Hector fed, I could feel something weird happening inside me.
It’s like I could feel him grow.
Just when I thought he was going to make some more smart or snarky remarks. Hector gave me a warning.
Hector : oh boy…. The Fire users are here….you’re on your own for a while Joel…
And he’s gone. The smell of ginger disappeared altogether.
Joel : Kristin ..!! Kristin !!!
I saw Kylie being pinned down by the spider glutton on ground before the 2 of them disappeared. A second later, I heard an explosion of water on the ground floor below.
I tried to wake Kristin up but she’s not responding.
I carried her up in my arms and made my way down the stairs.
I ran towards the exit and was about to make my way into the rain when I slid to a stop, almost dropping Kristin.
A head is popping out of the ground.
The head of a lady. It crawled up slowly but it increased it’s speed the moment it’s torso appeared.
This glutton didn’t have legs.
It had hands where her legs were supposed to be. This made her shorter than the average adult.
I backed away and I looked around me for Kylie. She’s nowhere to be seen.
Joel : fuck…. no way….
I could not believe what I was seeing next.
As the legless glutton circled Kristin and me, more heads were popping up from the ground.
3 more gluttons appeared but they looked normal with proper limbs.
I backed towards the old reception table that used to greet visitors when the building had seen better days. I put Kristin down and I stood in front of her.
I thought of praying but then I’m not sure who should I be praying to.
Trying to calm myself down I clasped my hand together, trying to pull as much water as I can towards me.
Joel : ARGHHHH!!!
All 4 gluttons charged at me together.
I stood my ground as I felt the swirl of water coming over to me from the rain.
Suddenly all 4 gluttons paused in mid air.
It’s as if time stopped for a couple of seconds.
Then they were thrown backwards as a felt a new gust of wind hit me.
A fresh breeze. A stronger breeze.
Fong’s nimble body sliced through the rain before he shattered an entire row of windows.
He appeared in front of me, totally dry even through he just ran through a raging thunderstorm.
The 4 gluttons already recovered by then and were re-evaluating their options.
Just then Kylie and the spider appeared again, smashing onto the ground in front of us.
Kylie’s foot was on the head of the spider but it was far from a clean victory.
She did a backflip, disappeared from view for a moment before appearing beside her father.
She looked exhausted and tired.
Fong : Go back into your Sister Kylie….
Kylie : But daddy….
Fong : Do it.. keep your sister alive….
Kylie nodded and disappeared from sight.
Joel : Kristin was stabbed by one of them…..
Fong : We’ll worry about that later….
Joel : What should be do… ?
Fong : buy a bit of time…
The spider back away from us and started climbing up a column and onto the ceiling.
Joel : Buy time for what… ??
Just then, I heard a familiar sound.
The sound of an engine.
A super car engine.
It roared through the rain and it got louder.
I was suddenly reminded of Hector’s warning.
The fire users.
He must be referring to the Fang family.
The gluttons did not waste time. They came straight for us and when Fong summoned his shield, I could feel the obvious difference in quality and strength.
His basic shield repelled all of them, sending a couple of gluttons tumbling into the rain outside. A simple repel however is not enough to stop them.
Fong asked me to pick up Kristin and follow behind him.
We ran into the rain and I saw Fong jump up, swinging his foot and delivered a powerful seemingly at nothing in the rain, but his foot found the target.
I saw an explosion of water as one of the glutton was sent hurling away from us.
Fong punched, kicked and he even rammed into the gluttons coming at us with his own body.
I struggled to see through the rain as I carried Kristin on my arms as I followed behind Fong.
I could almost see the main road.
Suddenl, Fong was plucked from the route in front of me. He was lifted off the ground. Fong immediately wrapped his legs around the arm of the glutton that had just grabbed him and tried to wrestle himself loose.
Fong : keep running Joel …!!! Go !!!
I did as I was told and I saw the super cars.
All 3 of them parked behind my car.
I ran straight for them.
They saw me approach them with Kristin in my arms.
The doors of the cars opened up and I could feel a heatwave hitting me the same way an air curtain hit you when you first walk into a shopping mall.
2 men and a women ran in the rain towards us.
My legs pounded on the ground as I turned to look at Fong behind thrown against a nearby tree.
The women in front of me reached into her pocket and I saw her pull out a lighter.
In one swift motion, she covered the lighter from the rain and ignited the zippo as she slid on the muddy ground in front of her 2 companions.
I barely saw the flame.
Just a spark.
A brief spark.
That was all they need.
The 2 men clasped their hand together with a smack and I saw 2 streaks of fire erupt from their closed palms. Like an angry eel seeking it’s prey, the fire streaked about 20m behind me straight into the gluttons that were going for Fong.
One hit, and one missed.
The one that hit tore a chunk off the glutton’s body and it screamed before disappearing. The other, barely keeping it’s life, decided to disappear.
I saw the rain curve around the shield Fong put up and that’s when I knew he’s fine. He crawled onto the main path. Barely 20m away, Fong scrambled in the opposite directions of where the gluttons were, trying to get over to us.
The other gluttons scurried away except for the spider.
It rolled onto the path and snared at all of us. It’s right behind Fong.
I heard the low voice boomed out behind me.
I turned as I saw a older gentlemen from the Fang family. His hair is all white as he walked purposefully towards us.
San Huo : Felicia…
He must be calling the girl with the light.
Felicia flicked open the zippo and this time ignited a burning flame while keeping her hand right on top of the fire as if it didn’t matter she was getting burnt.
Fong ran towards us and when he saw what the man behind Felicia is doing, he dove towards the ground like someone taking cover from artillery.
The older gentlemen’s palms met and a python the length of a bus shot towards the spider glutton.
The python of flame coiled itself around the spider and exploded.
The resulting heat wave rippled outwards and set off all the car alarms. The spot which the glutton was at previously is on fire while an immediate 5m radius were all charred black despite the pouring rain.
I sank onto my knees and I tried to wake Kristin again.
Fong got up on his feet, muddied and drenched, he looked at the older man from the Fang family.
Fong : It’s been a while Sanhuo….
Sanhuo : You’re still the same……. Fong…. Old and slow…..
Fong closed his eyes and he dried himself up before a shield of wind came up and sheltered everyone from the rain.
Fong : and you are still the same too Sanhuo…… still an asshole….
Sanhuo’s interest is obviously not on us or the gluttons. He ignored Fong and walked past him, looking at the abandoned building.
I could see the frustration on his face.
It’s a mix of anger and disappointment.
More so of disappointment I would say.
It’s like travelling all the way to your favourite durian stall after you smell the fragrant fruit only to realise the delivery has yet to arrive from the farm in Malaysia.
Sanhuo : Felicia…. Find it….
Felicia : but the rain… it’s going to affect the accuracy…. We can’t…
Sanhuo : Just send them in…
Felicia looked a little irritated but she did as she was told.
Walking to the edge of the bubble shield Fong put up, Felicia brough out her lighter again.
She looked at the skies for a couple of seconds.
The small rectangle zippo lighter tumbled and rolled on Felicia’s right hand. She’s toying with it like a coin, the same way a seasoned gambler would do with his casino chip.
I heard the metallic cling of the lighter as it’s cover sprung up.
Felicia blew into the flame, sending a hive of fireflies towards the building we just came out of.
Joel : Woah….
A mini draft of hot air whipped up by the buzz of the fireflies warmed my wet and drenched body for a brief second before they exited the protective circle Fong put up.
The fireflies flew into the rain on a suicide mission. Some barely lasted 5m before fizzing off into nothing. The numbers Felicia conjured up numbered in the thousands, perhaps more.
They spread out and disappeared from sight towards the building.
Fong held Kristin’s hands and her eyes opened as if some magical spell has been cast.
Kristin : gasp !! arguuuhh…
The manner in which she woke up reminded of someone waking up from a nightmare. Her nose started to bleed the moment she woke.
Kristin tried to sit up, only to lean back in my arms, grimacing in pain.
Fong lowered Kristin’s top, revealing her shoulder which is badly bruised.
The place where her bra strap is at left a patch of skin lighter than the rest of her injured shoulder
Although she had no cuts or laceration on the surface of the skin, the bleeding is all internal. Her entire shoulder area literally changed colour.
A very bad bruise from what I could see.
Fong : ok.. I think it’s not too bad… you just need to rest….
Kristin : What happened… ? if everyone ok… ? Kylie… are you there… ??
She must have got a reply from her, one that only she can hear because I could see her relax visibly knowing that her sister is ok.
Fong wiped the blood from Kristin’s nose.
Fong : You opened the 1st gate without warming up…. ?
Kristin : I had no choice… had to do it fast….
Fong nodded before turning to me.
Fong : Are you ok Joel… ?
Joel : I’m fine….
Kristin looked at me from top to toe. I know what she is thinking.
How am I standing in front of her without a scratch ?
Especially after being pursued by Hags and Gluttons.
Sanhuo : what are you guys doing here…. ?
There’s no way to miss the passive aggressive tone in Sanhuo’s voice. It came in an interrogative manner, the same tone I would use when investigating a suspect.
Fong : I could ask you the same thing….
Sanhuo : We’re tracking the ginger breadman….
Fong : what… ? here… ? don’t be silly…. If it were here….
Fong stopped talking, suddenly aware that if a GBM is here, the gluttons and the hags are the last things we should be worried about.
Sanhuo : The GBM was here… it’s gone now…
Fong : I don’t smell it…. I don’t feel it…..Something must be wrong with your sensors…. Only last night you told everyone it’s in town… now you are back here in Bedok……
Sanhuo : It was in town last night….and I know for sure it was right here….until a few minutes ago….
Fong looked at Kristin and his daughter just shrugged her shoulders, puzzled with the exchange between the 2 man.
Fong : None of us would be standing here talking if a GBM is here….
Felicia suddenly spoke. Looking at her, I realised her eyes were closed and her hands were clasped together with only the little finger left sticking up.
Felicia : There’s a glutton with a missing head inside that building…. I could feel remnants of its body still smoking away…. But it’s head is gone….
Fong : gone.. ? what do you mean gone… ?
Sanhuo : I knew it…. The GBM was here… !
Fong : It ate the glutton… ??
Felicia : Only the head I think….only the head is missing…
Sanhuo : It’s still growing….it’s still growing….
Sanhuo paced about while lost in thought.
He eventually came to the conclusion that the GBM was an opportunist.
It’s a young one afterall.
Sanhuo : It’s probably hungry…. Saw the fight and took the chance to feed when he saw the glutton…..then went back into hiding…
Sanhuo looked at Kristin
Sanhuo : You cut the head off a glutton … ?? that’s not an easy feat….
Kristin : No I didn’t …. I think I broke off an arm when I opened the 1st gate….
She looked more puzzled than ever and all eyes came towards me.
I shook my head, before I could try to spin a tale to protect myself, Kristin commented that I could not even put up a decent shield.
Kristin : He’s a total newbie…. We came here to train…. Never expected to run into the hags and gluttons…
Fong : A GBM that knows how to hide…. That sounds dangerous….
Sanhuo : It probably figured out how to cloak itself with an element…. Blending into the environment….
Everyone just went quiet for a while Felicia updated us that the Hags and gluttons are still in the building.
Felicia : They’re massing in different corners…. I’m not sure why…. it’s like they are waiting…..
Fong : this don’t make sense….Hags and gluttons don’t gather….not like this…
Sanhuo : perhaps the presence of the GBM is attracting them…. Everyone is attracted to power…..
Fong : Why would the hags and gluttons come for the GBM… ? they are not it’s match…. Even a young GBM is a force to be reckon with….
Sanhuo : Well, they are obviously here for something…
The rain got heavier and it felt so surreal to remain inside Fong’s bubble.
Fong and Sanhuo started talking and I looked at the shield of air that Fong had put up. It’s beautiful
Raindrops pelted the invisible barrier before rolling down the sides like it hit a glass panel.
Although invisible to the naked eye, the water made the shield visible in a way. Every time contact is made, you could catch a glimpse of the thin layer of air separating us from the rain.
It felt so surreal , like a dream.
No one will ever believe me if I told them I stood in the rain under a shield of air that works better than an umbrella.
Fong : That was a bit heavy handed earlier don’t you think….is there a need for the fire python….??
Sanhuo : It’s a glutton Fong…. You can never be too careful….i rather err on the side of caution….
Fong : Look at what you’ve done to the place…. If there were explosive materials around….
Sanhuo : It’s a small python Fong…. Don’t make a big deal out of it….
Fong : you could have restrained it…. You could have repelled it….Instead of
Sanhuo : Instead of what… ? smashing it into smithereens ?… it almost killed you… and your daughter….
Fong : We were in control….. we just need to…..
Sanhuo cut Fong off in a condescending manner.
Sanhuo : The Fong I knew may be slow…. But he never had to run from a fight with gluttons…..hmmmm… let me guess…..hahaha…. seeing how soft and beat up you are……mmmmhhh…
Sanhuo turned to Krisin and casually added.
Sanhuo : Can you conjure a mask…
Kristin : what… ?
Sanhuo burst out laughing, clapping his hands gleefully.
Sanhuo : you mean you have never seen the masks your father can conjure up ?? ….
Kristin : what masks ??
Sanhuo laughed before shaking his head at Fong.
Sanhuo : The masks your dad uses….. is much more violent and deadly then my python and snakes….
Kristin : What masks… ? I’ve never seen any masks of any kind….??!!
Sanhuo gave Fong a look before laughing out loud.
Sanhuo : teaching your daughter only defensive skills….that will turn out to be the biggest mistake of your life Fong…
Sanhuo must have hit the nail on the head and it made Fong really uncomfortable talking about this in front of Kristin.
Fong : What I teach her is none of your busines…
Kristin : Daddy.. what is he saying… ??
Sanhuo : your dad conjures up some of the fiercest masks ever in the history of air users…….. I have witnessed his death mask chew a glutton into 2…… that same mask would have easily chewed up my python…… ask him to show you sometimes…. Ahhahah
Fong : Enough…. !
Fong is upset, it was written all over his face.
Fong : Let’s go… we need to get out of here.
The bubble shrank immediately, putting the Fang family out in the rain.
Sanhuo chuckled and laughed, happy that he got back at Fong for calling him an asshole.
Calling out after us, Sanhuo had to rub it in further.
Sanhuo : Teach her Fong…… She’ll need it… hahahaha….
We drove silently in the car back to Fong’s place.
The 2 of us helped Kristin up and brought her to the bathroom.
After she showered and changed, it was my turn. Fong lent me some of his old clothes and I took them into the toilet with the walls charred from the accident. The faucets and shower heads have been replaced. It smells of soot but otherwise, still functions well as a toilet.
I removed my dirty clothes and with the shower on, I whispered softly to Hector.
Joel : Hey… you ok in there… ?
Hector : Yeah… I’m fine…. The glutton taste better than the Hag….
Joel : Looks like the Fang family will not give up hunting for you…
Hector : I’ll be fine as long as I’m inside you… and for god sake… brush up your skills…. The moment you can cloak me with an element, I’ll be fine. I won’t need to keep hiding inside you….
I finished up my shower and came out to see a hot pot of tea waiting for me at the dining table.
Kristin looked pissed.
Kristin : What is it that you are not telling me… or rather…. Not teaching me… ?
Fong : It’s not like what he said ah girl….it’s difficult to explain….
Kristin : what is difficult to explain… ? you have some special skills you are not teaching me… I just want to know why… ?
Fong : It’s dangerous… and too powerful… I’m just afraid you would lose control….
Kristin : I almost died back there…. If I didn’t opened the 1st gate in time, Joel and I might have died…
Fong immediately changed the topic.
Fong : This is highly unusual. …. The hags and gluttons don’t do things like this… this don’t make sense at all…. Why are they gathering there… ?
Kristin : You see…. you changed the topic…. You do this all the time…!!!
I poured myself a cup of tea and since the table has sunk into an awkward silence, I thought I’ll do the asking instead.
Joel : What…. Mask… is Sanhuo talking about… ?
Fong sipped his tea before draining it all.
I quickly refilled it as he considered whether or not to answer my question.
Fong : every family…. And users of elements have their preferred way to manifest their magic….
The Fang family manifests their power using a combination of snakes & eels for offence, while their defence and detection capability are usually in the form or insects.
Fong : From serpents to eels, the Fang family uses them for attack. The most powerful fire users can conjure up a dragon…. The elder of the Fang family once called up a 100m long fire dragon in his prime….
Joel : A 100m dragon… ? In Singapore….? Are you kidding… ? And nobody sees it… ?
Fong : It lasted a few seconds… cloaked with fire, only magic users like us can see it…. As for the rest of the population, they would feel only the sudden heatwave… nothing more….
Kristin : And ours…. ? Masks ? why… ?
Fong : My grandfather was the first to use Mask to manifest the power of the air and wind…..
Fong explained that a circular shield can repel threats and if enough energy is concentrated on it, it can crush enemies too. Think of it as putting a balloon into a box and you keep pumping air into it. It will soon take up all the space in the box. Imagine for a moment that the surface of the said balloon is not soft, it’s hard.
Anything from the epicentre of the user will be crushed and plastered against the walls.
Fong : You can stop your foe, with enough force, you can crush them….but it’s not fast enough for my grandfather. The energy is spread out evenly in a radial pattern, he wanted a way to concentrate the energy….. that was when he developed the mask…
Kristin : Why a mask…. And what kind of mask… ?
Fong : he tried to concentrate the energy into many different forms but none held as tightly together….
Fong poured some tea leaves and tea dust onto the table.
With his right hand, raised slightly, I watched in awe as the leaves and dust rearranged itself into the shape of a tribal voodoo mask. It’s elongated, it’s eyes hollow and dark. It’s mouth a single line as if it was sealed shut. The rest of it’s surface had no details. Just eyes and mouth.
Fong : This is a shield mask….. it can take pretty heavy hits…. Much heavier than the standard air shield you use….
Fong shut his right hand into a fist and I jumped when I saw a series of sharp tea dust spikes spring out on the surface of the mask.
Joel : Woah….
Fong : Without dust and other objects to take the shape of the air, it is essentially invisible to the naked eye….. the shield can also be use as an offensive weapon…
Powerful magic users will have no problems using their energy to help them see what you are conjuring up, but this essentially gives you a big advantage over Hags and gluttons.
Fong changed the mask onto a one that looked like it was cracked in half.
Something similar to the one the phantom of the opera wears but it’s bottom is jagged and sharp like it was broken off in a crude way. While the eye sockets were hollowed out for the previous mast, this one had eyes but instead of looking forward, it was looking down.
Like you are keeping your head straight ahead and trying to look down at your toes.
Fong : This is a heavy mask…. One that has been designed to drop from above…..It can slice everything cleanly into 2…. Including cutting the head off a glutton….this is why Sanhuo was asking if you are the one that sliced off the glutton’s head…. He has seen this before….
Kristin : what about the death mask…. ?
Fong relaxed his hand and for this, he needed both his hands.
Clasping his hands together, goosebumps appeared on my skin as I watched the 2 figurine Fong conjured up. I recognised the figurines.
The 2 masks are familiar to anyone acquainted with the Chinese ghost month culture.
It’s the manifestation of the black and white Impermanence.
In Singapore, they are called 1st and 2nd master.
Instead of the full body, the mask consists of only the head and the hat that the 2 deities in Taoist culture is known for.
Kristin : Oh my god….
Joel : Wow….
Fong : These are the death masks…… my grandfather forbids his descendants to use them unless absolutely necessary….
Joel : Sanhuo….. saw you use them before… ?? on who… ?
Fong exhaled and sipped the tea I refilled, his mind recalling memories he want to bury.
Fong : Many years ago….. when a clan meeting was disrupted by an army of gluttons…..it was an abnormal day…… gluttons just went mad…. Massing in large numbers and just striking out at us…….. not just wild gluttons…. The ones that were kept and fed by other magic users went mad as well…..
Joel : Holy shit…. No way….
Fong : No one knew what happened by chaos ensured….. it was madness…. Gluttons attacking their host like they didn’t know him and her…..
Joel : what happened then… ?
Fong’s lips trembled when he revealed the very glutton he kept snapped too, heading straight for Kristin.
Kristin : Oh my god Daddy….!.. why didn’t you tell me this…. ??!!! I always wondered why you didn’t keep your own glutton…..??
Fong : I did….he stay with me for almost 20 years…..
Joel : Jesus… and…….you……
Fong : I knew how strong it was…. I had no choice…. To protect Kristin….. I hate to kill it….
Joel :With the death masks…. ?
Fong : The death masks took care of 4 gluttons that day. … including the one that Sanhuo kept….. that’s why he knew how powerful they are….
Joel : this… is one of the coolest thing I’ve heard this year…..
Fong : The masks are not without it’s downside…. They are dangerous…. If you are not careful…. You will hurt yourself….you might die trying to sue them.
During a fight, you may not be able to concentrate well enough to use a weapon that you yourself cannot see clearly.
Imagine using an invisible knife. During the chaos of the fight, you might accidentally grab the cutting blade instead.
Fong : There are dust and debris everywhere…..they will give a bit of visibility to the masks but my grandfather, he has use and fought with these mask inside a barrier before. … one that is free of dust and debris…..they will be invisible unless you constantly cloak it with your own energy, of you have an opponent so good, that he cloaks it with his to make them visible….
Kristin : Why are you only telling me this now… ? why didn’t you teach me ??? !!
Fong : It’s too dangerous…..
Kristin : Not knowing about these…. Are more dangerous….
Fong : The mask don’t form purely from our elemental energy…. It draws from the other energy around you…..
Kristin : I don’t understand….
Fong : Think of it like a credit card…. When you use it… you need to pay back…. And if you don’t…. interest would be charged…. Instead of money…. It’s your energy….
Fong painted a clear picture for us with regards to conjuring up the masks.
Each time you use it, it’s meant to draw blood in a way. When the masks are out, they demand to be fed. Either by the Hags or gluttons you kill, or if not, by the very lifeforce that conjures them.
Fong : You borrow the energy from everything around you….and when you make your kill, you return what you borrow, plus interest….
Joel : And if you can’t afford the interest…. ?
Fong : They will drain what it demands off you….. it might weaken you for weeks….. you might be hospitalised….. or you die….
The table went quiet and everyone just looked at their teacups.
When Kristin spoke, it was so soft that it came almost like a whisper.
Kristin : I … can’t always be the little girl in your heart Daddy….. you can’t always protect me like this….
I could sense a father daughter talk coming up. Picking up the teapot, I walked into the kitchen to fill it with hotwater.
Hector spoke to me then.
Hector : Joel…. I recognised those masks….
Joel : what… ?
I set the teapot down and walked into the bathroom.
Joel : Which one… ?
Hector : the death masks…. It bit me right off my host….that’s how I was spawned…..
I froze as what Hector just said slowly sank into my head.
Joel : But…. The only wind users left in the country are Fong and his daughter….
Hector : I know what I saw…. I was ripped off my host by them….seeing them jolted my memory….
Before I could deal with what Hector said, I almost fainted when I saw Kylie appearing beside me in the toilet.
Kylie : who are you talking to Joel ?
I would have froze but somehow my body just reacted the moment I heard Kylie’s voice.
Joel : Nothing… I just need to go urgently….
I pulled my pants down as if I wanted to use the toilet and upon seeing my privates, Kylie screamed and disappeared.
My heart was slamming inside my heart as I flushed the toilet before coming out to see Kristin and Fong coming to the kitchen.
Kristin : What is happening… ?
Fong : Are you ok… ? Kylie… ?
Kylie appeared behind her family and she told them everything is fine.
Joel : Sorry… I ermm… I was a little urgent and Kylie was in the bathroom earlier….
Kylie gave me a weird look before disappearing.
I could hear Hector speaking to me as I walked back to the table.
Hector : You’ll have to deal with that glutton later Joel…. If not she’s going to spill the beans….
I ignored Hector and got back to the seat.
The tea dust and leaves were no longer taking the form of the death masks. They laid lifeless in the middle of the table.
I took a sip of tea and I asked Fong who else can use the death masks.
Joel : who else….ermm… can use these masks…..?
Fong gave me a puzzled look and asked me why would I ask such a question.
Joel : I’m just curious… the 2 of you are the only wind users left in Singapore…. Kristin doesn’t know it… which means you are the only one right… ?
Fong : Ermm… yes…. What are you getting at… ?
Joel : Nothing… nothing….just sort of ermm… it’s a lot to take in…ermm… that you are the only person around that knows how to do it….
Fong : My grandfather had 3 sons….. all of them knew how to do this….my father taught me….. my distant cousins might know too…. We haven been in touch in years…
Joel : I see….
Fong : They move around a lot… Malaysia… Thailand…. I don’t know…. it’s been a while since I last saw them….
I nodded and wondered about what Hector told me.
If it’s true, that means there is someone else in Singapore that knows how to use these death masks. Not just that, he or she used it recently on a GBM.
That was how Hector was born in a way.
Fong : anyway…. You need to practise more Joel …. Get a basic water shield up…. It’s the least you could do….to protect yourself…
Joel : How do I open the 1st gate. ??
Fong laughed and shook his head.
Fong : Don’t…. it puts a great strain on your body…..learn to walk first….then you learn to run….
The rain let up a little and I decided to make a move.
Kristin : I’ll walk you down Joel …
Joel : What… ? it’s ok…. you’re injured…
Kristin : No I insist… …..
I could tell from the look in her eyes that some tough questions are going to be served as we exited the door.
Hector mumbled good luck to me and I assume Kylie must be talking to Kristin as well. Perhaps sharing her suspicions.
The moment the lift door closed, Kristin asked ;
Kristin : Kylie said you were talking to yourself in the bathroom….
Joel : It was nothing… I was just mumbling to myself… sometimes I ermm… do that when I’m stressed…..
We alighted at the ground floor and while walking towards my car, Kristin asked how did I survive without a scratch.
Kristin : There are gluttons and hags around…. You looked practically unharmed…..
Joel : eh hello…. I am a police officer ok…. I go through training a lot tougher that this….
Kristin don’t looked convinced
Joel : Ok…. to be honest….
I paused for a moment and I turned to look at her.
Joel : I did a lot of running and ducking…..i tried to do what I can with water… but….in the end…. running is still the best option….
Kristin must be considering whether or not to believe me as she looked at me with folded arms.
Kristin : Thank you… for keeping me alive earlier….
I heaved a sigh of relief inside my head.
Joel : Don’t mention it…your sister did most of the work….
Kylie appeared beside her sister.
My heart started beating faster again.
Kylie : I was pretty sure you were talking to yourself earlier Joel….
Joel : it was just mumbling… I erm…. It’s stressful… a lot to take in for me today…. I mean … fire python… fireflies…. And all….
My hands gestured wildly all over the place before I pointed to my car.
Joel : alright… I’ll make a move first…
I hurried to my car and quickly drove out of the carpark.
Hector : They’re suspicious of you Joel…. They’re….
Joel : No thanks to you….
As I was about to turn into my estate in Pasir Ris, I heard the roar of a powerful motorcycle pulling up beside me.
It’s a Ducati bike in red.
I took a casual glance and realised it was Felicia.
Joel : Oh…. This is not good.
She waved at me and I did the same.
I drove normally and I noticed Felicia following me into the carpark.
Hector : we might need to kill her Joel….
Joel : What !!… are you out of your mind… ?
Hector : it’s either that… or they kill you… it’s the only way they can get me out of you…..
Joel : Calm down… nobody is killing anyone….we don’t even know what she wants….
I parked my vehicle and Felicia pulled into an empty motorcycle lot.
I didn’t pay much attention to her earlier but as I watched her dismount that bike, I noticed her slim and toned legs.
Felicia wore a pair of black tights that really brought out her sculpted legs and thighs. Her leather jacket gave her a badass vibe and when she removed her helmet, she pulled down her scrunchie , letting her hair fall gracefully down on her shoulders.
She’s quite attractive to be honest.
Felicia : Hi….i don’t believe we were introduced earlier….
Joel : Hi…ermm… you’re Felicia…..
Felicia : Yea … and you… ?
Joel : I’m Joel….
She extended her hand to shake mind and I froze, wondering for a moment whether to let her touch me.
Would she be able to detect Hector ?
Hector must have read my mind and he told me it’s fine.
Hector : There’s no way for her to know just by touching….. but we need to find a quiet spot…..nip this at the bub….
Felicia laughed and gave me a weird look as I took her hand after a few seconds of hesitation.
Felicia : what’s wrong… ?
Joel : Nothing… I was afraid I would burn myself touching you…
Felicia chuckled and laughed as we shook hands.
Felicia : That’s a good one….that’s a good one… hahaha….
She held onto her helmet on her left arm and asked if I could spare some time to talk.
Joel : ermm… sure… what is it about… ?
Felicia : You live here….? Shall we go upstairs to your place… ?
I gave her a look of surprise and she laughed again.
Felicia : why… ? you afraid I would burn your house down… ? hhaha
Joel : Nah… it’s just been a while since I ermm.. have a female guest ….
Felicia brushed her hair behind her ears and gave me a sweet smile as we walked towards the lift.
Joel : I really like the fire fly trick earlier by the way….
Felicia : oh… that….
Joel : I mean like…. just wow…. If I was a guy looking to impress a girl….. woooo!
Felicia : ahhaha… you’re funny….
Joel : I’m serious… it’s impressive….
I unlocked the gate to my place and I invited Felicia in.
Joel : Can I get you something to drink… ?
Felicia : hmmm… tea or Coffee would be nice….
She set her helmet down on the table and I scooped a few spoonful of coffee powder into my moka pot, I put it on the stove and when I turned to look at Felicia, I saw her looking at the photos of my travels and the stuff I bought back.
Hector came up with the suggestion on how to kill Felicia without making too much noise just as the pot of coffee started to boil.
Hector : turn the fucking flame off Joel….. I need you to shield me with water…. no open flames…. If I can grab her throat…. It will all be over fast….. I can’t promise it would be painless but I can make it fast….
I ignored him and brought the coffee out to the living room.
Felicia : you’ve been to quite a few places Joel ….
Joel : yeah….i love to travel…. But it’s been a few years since I last do it….
Felicia : you’re a police officer…..
She added while looking at pictures of me with my batchmates.
Joel : Yeah….i’m on long leave at the moment…. Probably going to go back to work next week or the week after….
Felicia : I see…
Hector spoke again, commenting that Felicia is heating up.
Hector : She is hot Joel….. and I don’t mean it in a nice way… she’s radiating heat…. It’s all over your place…..
Felicia took a seat and I quickly looked away from her sculpted legs as she crossed them on my low sofa.
Felicia : Joel… I won’t beat about the bush… I have some questions….
Joel : Well…. go ahead….
Felicia : you were the one that cut the glutton into 2….
I accidentally burnt my lips with the hot coffee and I quickly set the cup down on the table.
Felicia : Fong and his daughter are air users…..the glutton was cut by water…. I could feel it….. There’s no one else around…. It had to be you…
My mind was racing to come up with an excuse but Felicia went on.
Felicia : Don’t worry…. I never told Sanhuo about it….no one knows….
She picked up her coffee and took a sip.
I kept quiet and waited for her to go on. There must be a reason why she is here without the rest of her clan.
Felicia shared that the hunt for the GBM has gone a bit overboard.
Felicia : the family has dedicated a lot of resources for this and…. This resulted in quite a bit of friction internally….. some of us wanted to stop…. And just let sleeping dogs lie….. Sanhuo is pushing really hard to find it…. We suspect he might have some ulterior motives….
Joel : Oh….
Felicia : anyway…. I just want to find out more from you….. what did you see in there…. I mean… is there anything out of the ordinary…. ?
Joel : Not that I know of…. I was there to train…. I’m still a total newbie….
Felicia : But you sliced the head off a glutton…..
Joel : I have to admit…err….
I smiled sheepishly and added that was an accident.
Joel : I didn’t know what I was doing…..i tried to get a shield up… and… I fell … somehow…. It just happened….
Felicia : I see…it’s normal… sometimes people discover abilities they don’t even know they have…. Especially when their lives are in danger….
Joel : there were 2 gluttons and a few Hags… but more gluttons came in the end…… thankfully you guys came….i didn’t see any GBM though…..
Felicia : What about smell… ? any scent of ginger….or anything…. ?
I shook my head.
Joel : How did you come to know about your…. Ermmm.. gifts… is it hard for you to master it… ?
Felicia took a sip of her coffee and she leaned forward to set the cup down on the saucer. She started to remove her leather jacket and I had to force myself to look away from her chest as a full and firm pair of breast stretched the black racer back singlet she was wearing to it’s limits.
Felicia turned and showed me her back. It was literally disfigured. The scars of wounds showed up like a mesh of angry wires all crisscrossing together.
Joel : Oh my god… what happened… ?
Felicia : haha… car accident….was thrown off the back of pickup when I was young….It was in the middle of an expressway……
Joel : Oh dear…. Then what happened… ?
Felicia : had been training to work with my element for close to a year then….but I couldn’t feel it…. Just before I was ran over by a approaching truck, the car that hit the pick up I was in earlier caught fire…..and it happened…. I got a shield up strong enough to stop the truck but it was a partial shield….
While it stopped her from getting flattened, the impact dragged her across the rough tar road for almost 5m, ripping most of the skin off her back.
Felicia : are you… uncomfortable seeing it… haha ?
Joel : No… no…not at all…I’ve seen some pretty gruesome stuff at work too….
I didn’t have to try very hard not to look at her back, because honestly, her breast was what’s grabbing my attention.
Felicia : I didn’t come to know about it by the way…. As an extended member of the Fang clan…. All of us knew we could control fire….and we start learning about it as young as 7….
Joel : I see….
Felicia looked around my place and continued with her question.
Felicia : So … you live alone… ?
Joel : Yeah….
Felicia : Not in a relationship…. ?
Joel : Well….. haven found anyone suitable…. Haha… anyone to intro ?
I gave her an awkward smile and she just laughed.
Felicia : What kind of girls you looking for… ? if you don’t mind the fiery type that can burn you to a crisp …. I have a few cousins that are actively looking around..… hahah
Joel : Oh.. that sounds pretty scary… hahaha…. What about you…. Are you in a relationship… ?
Felicia : Nahhhh…. Not exactly what I’m looking for in life…. besides…
She turned and gestured to her badly scarred back with her chin.
Felicia : This will probably scare the suitors off…ahhaa
Joel : Come on…. I’m sure that’s not true… looks can only take you so far in a relationship….
Felicia smiled but said nothing as she squinted her eyes to look at a picture of me in Korea taken at a ski resort.
I could hear Hector talking inside my head again.
Hector : oh god… I can feel you thinking with your dick Joel…. Thinking with your dick…..
I ignored him but he kept talking.
Hector : Use your brain for once…. A pretty girl… coming onto you like this…. She wants something from you and I’m pretty sure your dick is the last thing on her mind….. you dumb fuck….
I coughed and cleared my throat, trying to give Hector a hint to stop talking.
Felicia thought that cough was directed at her and she snapped out of her daydream.
Felicia : Oh… ermmm … I better go….
Joel : Oh….ermm… you’re welcomed to stay…
Felicia : No it’s ok… I don’t want to impose on you….
She got up and put on her jacket while pulling out a card.
Felicia : my number… if you see anything out of the ordinary….ermmm… please give me a call ?
Joel : absolutely….
I walked Felicia to the door and waited for her to put on her boots.
I think women who wear boots are hot. Women riding on a Ducati, that is hotter.
Felicia pulled out a packet of cigarette from her leather jacket and tapped it on her hand, pulling one out.
Felicia : So you smoke Joel…. ?
Joel : Oh… no I don’t…..
Her zippo lighter came out and I watched the flame come on, reminding me of the heat I felt earlier when she summoned the fireflies.
I reached over and shut the lighter’s cap, extinguishing the flame much to her surprise.
Joel : It’s illegal to smoke along the corridor Felicia…
Felicia gave me a raised eyebrow with her cigarette at the corner of her lips before she turned to one side and lit up the zippo again.
Felicia : or what officer Joel… ? hahah.. you going to arrest me… ?
She lit her cigarette, inhaled a deep puff before exhaling to the side like she don’t want her 2nd hand smoke to get to me.
Hector : HOLD YOUR BREATH JOEL !! that smoke has her energy in it…. !!!
Hector literally shouted and I stopped breathing.
Felicia took another puff and I backed up into my place, my hands waving the smoke away.
Joel : Not a fan of 2nd hand smoke too…….
I tried to speak as normally as I can since I was holding my breath.
Felicia : Alright… see you….
Joel : ok… see you…
I shut the gate and then the door.
Hector : hold… hold… hold it… hold it…. Get to the kitchen… right to the end… !
I walked right to the deep end of the house and towards the kitchen before I opened the window and inhaled a fresh breath of air.
Joel : GASPPP!!!.. oh fuck… what was that… ?
Hector : I told you she was up to something…. !
Joel : What ? trying to poison me with 2nd hand smoke… ?
Hector : She infused her energy into the smoke…. If you inhale it, she would have been able to sense what’s inside you……
Joel : You cannot be serious….
Hector : Well I am…..we should have killed her….. we could do it…
Joel : What… ? are you out of your mind… I’m a police officer…. ! and you don’t kill people just because they smoke in front of you….
Hector : I’ll give it to you straight…there are only 2 possibilities…. One. she wants to know if you kept a glutton…. Two, she suspects I’m inside you…. And if you inhaled that smoke at that proximity, you’re a goner….
Joel : maybe we’re overthinking things….
Hector : get out there and kill her Joel…. I’m telling you… we need to kill her….
Joel : dude… calm down…. we’re not killing anyone…
Hector : I can feel her… she’s still nearby…. Get out there Joel…. I’ll kill her for you… just grab her and I will do the rest…. We can burn her alive with my energy cloak…. just hold onto her…
Joel : You’re mad…. I’m not having this conversation with you….
Hector : well… don’t say I didn’t warn…. OH FUCK GET DOWN!!!
Hector literally screamed into my head as I watched the border of my door glowed a shade of bright yellow and red for barely a second before it exploded.
I could feel myself being thrown backwards and I heard the mangled metal gate bounce onto the floor beside me. The fire rated door apparently is not rated for the Fang family’s direct assault.
The wooden door splintered and broke into so many pieces and I could see the entrance of my place charred a dark shade of black.
I choked on the smoking bits of the door as I watched Felicia appear at the entrance of my place with the small flame dancing on her lighter.
I heard a familiar buzzing sound and when I looked up, I saw fire flies similar to those I’ve seen earlier.
They started to emerge from different corners of my place before going over towards Felicia.
Joel : fuck….
She must have put them in my place when I was making coffee.
I coughed as I got back up on my feet.
Hector : well…. I said we should have killed her didn’t i….
Joel : Why didn’t you know there are fire flies in the house !!…
Hector : oh screw you…. I told you she was hot…. It’s all over the place….
I got on my feet and pointed a finger at Felicia and i gave her a warning.
Joel : Assaulting a police officer is a serious offence !! I’m warning you… !!
Felicia did not even bother to reply me.
She kept the lighter and clasped her hands together.
The flames from the burning splinters of wood from what remained of my wooden door sprung up and extended into cobras.
Joel : Oh shit….
Backing into the kitchen, I watched the 5 fire cobras slither towards me at breakneck speed.
I turned on the tap and just before I could feel myself connect with the water, a torrential flood of water shot into my house from outside the corridor, ramming Felicia and fucking up all my furniture and extinguishing all the cobras that were about to jump me.
The water rushed into the kitchen, reaching up to my waist like I was standing in a pool.
Joel : What the fuck….
Felicia got up and I saw the flame come on in a split second but a hand 3 times as large as that of a man grabbed onto Felicia, pulling her back into the water with a splash.
It was a horrible sight.
Felicia was pinned down in the water and I could see her eyes bulging as she struggled to breathe. She’s drowning right in front of me.
I deliberated whether to help her when I saw a gasp of bubble rise up to the surface before she stopped moving.
Joel : Oh fuck…. oh fuck…. what is going on…. ??
Hector : did you do this Joel ??
Joel : Of course not… !! why the fuck would I drown a person in my house… !!
I was in full on panic mode when the water started to drain into the nearest floor trap like there is some vacuum pulling it down at a abnormal speed. Aside
When it was all gone, my floor is totally dry except for the water that were caught in containers or other bits of furniture that could hold it. As for the floor, It’s as if the water were never there in the first place.
Felicia laid motionless on the floor in front of me.
Before I could get over the initial shock, I almost fainted when I saw another Felicia at the door.
The lighter came up again but before she could cast another spell, I literally watch her being ripped to shreds by a torrential swam of bees that looked like it was on fire.
They just shot into her body, ripping her into nothing but ashes.
Then the Felicia on the floor disintegrated too into a pile of ashes.
Hector : someone’s coming…
My mind was still trying to process what I just saw when again, at the door, I saw Felicia. Another one.
She’s not wearing that motorcycle get up anymore. No more tights and boots and leather jacket.
She was dressed the same way as I saw her earlier. A pair of hip hugging jeans and a sleeveless blouse in black. She has a pair of sneakers on her instead of boots.
Joel : bloody hell…… Tell me I’m hallucinating….
Hector never answered me.
Felicia entered the house and looked around before speaking towards my wreaked entrance.
Felicia : He’s ok …. Still breathing…..
I was expecting Sanhuo to walk in but I was wrong.
It’s not him.
I felt as if someone dropped a stone in my chest as I watched my boss walked in through the front door.
And with a snap of his finger, the remaining water caught in the containers and wreck furniture merged into a larger blob before disappearing into the floor trap by the washing machine.
Yip : Are you done clearing your leave Office Joel … ?
I could not move.
I just stared at the man in front of me.
A man that I had grown familiar with over the years.
I was literally rendered speechless and I simply cannot accept what I’m seeing.
Yip : Felicia…. Do you mind… ?
Felicia seemed to know Yip wanted some privacy and she exited my trashed flat.
The commotion drew out a few neighbours and I could hear Felicia telling them it’s all ok. She pulled out her identification tried to keep the neighbours away.
She’s a police officer, just like me.
I was breathing but it felt like my lungs were not getting enough oxygen.
No matter how hard I sucked, it’s just not enough.
My hand reached for the sink in my kitchen for support and I could hear Hector talking to me again.
Hector: Hey… hey Joel… Joel !… don’t pass out… don’t fucking pass out…..dude… !
Yip bent down and picked up a chair from the kitchen floor.
He took a seat and he waited.
He just waited.
Joel : WHAT …. THE FUCK!!!!
I literally shouted at my boss. The man that I had been reporting to for so many years. The one doing my appraisal and approving my leave.
Yip : Joel I know it’s a lot to take in…..and…. this is why I sent you to Fong….
I buried my face in my hand as I sank to the ground.
Joel : Does…. Does Fong and Kristine know about this… ?? that you send me to them…?
Yip shook his head.
Yip : No they don’t…. they don’t know me…
Joel : So.. you knew all along…. That… that I can do…. Do shit like this… ?
Joel : Then why the fuck didn’t you tell me !!! ??
Yip : would you have believed me ??
Yip gestured to the trashed kitchen and living area.
Yip : Isn’t this ridiculous ? does this make sense to the Joel a few months back ?
Yip was oddly calm as he replied.
He told me I was so bent on fighting scams and magic stones, cure all talisman, if he had told me anything remotely associated with magic , I would surely think he’s mad.
Yip : You were not ready Joel…. It’s because you were not ready…. It’s as imple as that….
Joel : And what…? Sending me to Fong… ? you were hoping that would make me ready … ? ???
Yip : No… of course not…. I sent you to him with the hope of you seeing what he can do…..and perhaps your mind can open up a little….maybe you can be more open to things science and technology cannot explain…….perhaps when your mind opens up a little, we can then have this conversation without you freaking out….
Yip went quiet for a while before going on.
Yip : I just never expected you to get in trouble with a Hag…..on the very 1st day no less…
I looked at my boss in disbelief.
Joel : You knew….you knew and you pretended that you don’t !!??
Yip : yes, that because I know exactly what would happen… look at you freaking out like this….
Joel : I’m freaking out because Felicia tried to kill me ….. twice….. and then now you come along, snap your fingers and what…. All the water is gone from my place….. what the fuck… you’re a water user…. ??
Yip : Yes I am….
Joel : i….. i…..
I don’t know why but I just can’t seem to find anything else to say to Yip.
I really don’t know what to say.
Felicia came back into the flat and instead of sitting down, she leaned against the portal leading to the kitchen.
Joel : why did you try to kill me…. ??
I directed the question to Felicia and she just denied it was her flatly.
Felicia : That’s not me… those are my clones…. Someone cloned them…
Joel : What… ? Sanhuo… ?
Felicia : No… not him…. Someone else….
Yip : Another fire user…….
Joel : Wait… wait… wait a minute…… Felicia is from the Fang family… why is she a police officer…. ? They are bankers and investment gurus isn’t it….. you mean within the police force itself, there are more …. More like us… ?
Yip explained that among the Fang family, not all share the same ideology.
Not all of them enjoyed the endless flow of resources and has access to the financial muscle the main family has.
Yip : Felicia is more of a distant cousin….
Joel : And you have her what…. Working for you as a spy… ?
Yip : of course not…. she is part of the Fang family …. And she also happens to be a police officer….
Joel : This is a lot for me to take in…
Yip gave me a quick rundown of the Fang family’s structure. Right at the top of the list is Grandelder Fang who fathered 7 kids with 2 wives.
There are a total of 5 brothers & 2 sisters.
Dahuo, Erhuo & Sanhuo came from the 1st wife.
Sidi, Wudi and the 2 sisters, Huojie, Huomei, came from the 2nd wife.
The 3 brothers from the 1st wife inherit the bulk of the resources that their father left behind and went on to build their own fortune.
The kids from the 2nd wife although not as well to do, but still live comfortably enough.
The entire extended family of the Fangs number in the hundreds as it goes down the family tree.
Yip : Grandmaster Fang has a younger brother, People call him Huoshu, Uncle fire in short for his fiery temper……. Huoshu is relatively low profile…. He is Felicia’s grandfather
Joel : Wow…..
I turned and looked at Felicia who was looking down at the ground while playing with the zippo lighter from earlier.
Despite the difference among siblings, distant cousins and all, the Fangs knew that staying together as a clan is the only way to remain strong. It’s also the only way to learn about their innate ability.
The schools don’t teach the stuff they want to learn. You can only learn it from your clan.
Yip : Learning special skills aside, not everyone has the same interest in banking and investments… and this being Singapore…. Everything cost money… people need to eat….. the rest of the family who cannot afford to live off inheritance or are not good with numbers, still need to make a living….
Joel : So I guess Huoshu is the more laid back one….who didn’t leave anything for his kids…
Felicia shot me a dirty look.
Felicia : My grandfather is still alive you dick….
Joel : Oh… I’m sorry…
Yip : as for the clones from earlier….. Felicia… ?
Yip looked at her, expecting her to do the rest of the talking.
Felicia told me that when she sent out her fireflies earlier to the building to look for clues as to what happened, not all came back.
Joel : Came back as in… ?
Felicia : the energy I released…. And the amount that came back is different…. Someone else was there… and he or she…. Stole my energy….
Joel : What… ? why would they do that…. ?
Felicia added that in order to steal the energy from another user, you need to be either from the same family of elements, or you are a space user, one that can manipulate all the elements.
Felicia : There are no space users left …. So it can only be a fire user… someone from my family….
Joel : Someone else is there…. ?
Felicia : Whoever he or she is, they did not show themselves…. but they went as far to steal my energy and clone me…… and for some reason… send them after you….which probably means, they were there much earlier than us….
Joel : Someone else from the Fang family was there and they did nothing while we were fighting for our lives….? Your clan is full of pricks isn’t it… ?
Felicia stopped playing with her lighter and I saw the flame come on. A sign that I should stop talking immediately.
I swallowed a gulp of saliva and I looked at my boss.
I changed the subject and asked Felicia how did she find me, or rather, her clones.
Joel : How did you know they are coming to kill me…. ?
Felicia : you cannot clone other magic users without them getting flashes of what the clone is seeing….. it’s a dead giveaway….which is why whatever you need the clone to do, it has to be done fast…..alternatively, you need to make sure the original of the clone cannot interfere with what you want to do….
Felicia saw flashes of me and she reported it to Yip immediately.
I got up off the ground and I grabbed a cup and poured myself a glass of water.
Joel : I’m sorry but I need time to digest this….it’s a lot to take in….
Yip : Joel… what you just experienced….. these are not your parlour magic tricks…. These are skills wielded by some of the most advance magic users in the country…..
Joel : You mean watching you drown Felicia….?
Yip : I don’t mean that… I mean using a clone…..it’s not easy to use one… not to mention control one…. the person behind this…. He must want something from you…..and I don’t need to tell you that he is dangerous….
I shrugged my shoulder and looked around my trashed flat.
Joel : I can’t possibly imagine what he or she would want from me….i mean… look around you….
Felicia’s eyes settled on me and she capped her lighter.
Yip looked at me without a word for a few seconds before getting up on his feet.
Yip : You know what Joel…. Clean this shit up… and I’ll see you back in office next week…. You’re done clearing your leave….
Joel : So am I getting transferred or anything… to some magic department in the police force… ? to catch magic users… ?
Yip replied coldly
Yip : Yes…..There is a special department… but you’re not going there…
Joel : What ? why… ?
Yip : Because you can’t do shit with your magic that’s why….
Joel : WHAT !!…boss… wait…. This is not fair….
Yip walked on ahead followed by Felicia.
Joel : YIP !!!..hey !
The 2 of them did not even bother to wait for the lift and took the stairs instead.
Heading back to my place, I looked at the mess and I asked Hector is there’s some magic that can clean up my place to it’s original condition.
Hector : Not that I know of….
I bent down and started to pack up and Hector told me from the looks of it, someone knows that he’s inside me.
Hector : this is getting interesting….One of the Fangs know I’m inside you…whatever game he is playing, the rest of his family is definitely in the dark.
It’s most likely someone from high up the order in the Fang family.
I agreed and while we don’t know who that person is, it’s likely not Sanhuo.
I called a contractor in to fix my door and they could only fit a temporarily gate.
Hector told me it’s time to lock myself in the toilet and start practising.
For the next couple of days, I did not leave my place.
I clean up the mess, did some repainting and then I locked myself in the toilet.
It’s not easy trying to balance water, much less try to mould it but the more I tried, the easier it got.
By the end of the week, I could put a water shield up even though it lasted barely 5 seconds.
I text Kristine and told her that I need to go back to work and I will head over to her place when I can.
The first day I was back to my table, I forgot all my login password.
I spent 2 hours trying to get the IT department to reset it all while I opened the stack of mails that accumulated on my in tray.
Colleagues dropped by and asked if I’m ok and to make small talks.
When I opened my mail, I almost fainted at the 3000 email in my inbox.
I looked up at the ceiling boards and sighed.
It took almost a dozen cups of coffee and an entire day at my seat just to clear 30% of those mail.
Yip was in office alright but he did not bother me.
Not a single bit.
I kept up my routine. 5am runs in the park before I changed and go to work.
The more I ran, the more I work out, the easier I find it is to control my energy.
I went back to giving talks in schools and to engage the community. In the day, I fight scams like I used to.
At night, I find myself sitting in the bathroom as I enjoyed the rising steam of water evaporating off my body.
After that close encounter with the hags and gluttons, I could feel something different about myself.
I’m a lot more intuitive and connected with my element.
I started to get more confident and I took Kristin’s description of moulding my element like playdough a little too literally.
I started to enjoy moulding small everyday items, food in particular.
I did a water Kueh tutu, Ang Ku Kueh, Soon kueh, peanut pancake.
Hector : As much as I enjoyed the performance of you making a Kueh Tutu, I hope one day that will save your life..
It’s just for fun and I enjoyed sculpting it, so why not.
It’s all connected. The more I mould, the longer I can keep up the water shield.
Hector finally had a chance to come out of me after almost 1.5 months.
When I finally saw him, I realised he has grown again.
He’s almost like a teenager heading into adulthood.
I could keep my water shield up for a full 5 minutes by then.
Hector was excited of course, it’s good to be out and about.
No one bothered us for a full 2 month.
Every Friday, I would head over to Kristin and Fong’s place for dinner.
I would catch up with them about the latest news regarding the various clans.
The hunt for the GBM has died down after they stop detecting him as frequently.
The Fang family suspect that it has left the country.
I could hear Hector chuckle.
Hector : Now that you can get a shield up and are more in control of your element, there’s no way they can find me…. ahhaha
I saw Felicia once at the police headquarters. She walked right past me and pretended she didn’t know me.
It doesn’t bother me at all.
12th Jan 2019
It’s like any other weekend for me.
I got up and made myself a cup of coffee as I stretched in the kitchen.
Hector didn’t make sound so I assumed he’s still sleeping.
I put on my running attire and I stepped out of the house, walking by a few wandering spirits.
I started to run towards the neighbourhood park, cutting directly towards the beach.
The moment I enter the park at the beach, I could feel something wrong.
I don’t know if you can call it 6th sense, or my intuition or magic. Something feels off.
And as if to confirm my suspicions, Hector woke up inside me too.
Hector : do you feel that Joel… ?
Joel : Yeah….
I picked up my pace and my eyes scanned the surrounding
It’s only 5.20am in the morning and while I can hear the crashing of waves on the beach as I run along the pavement, it’s pitch dark out there.
The only illumination I had were the street lamps.
I could not see any hags around. There were a few other wandering spirits but they were minding their own stuff a distance away.
The deeper I ran into the park, the stronger that weird feeling became.
Suddenly I saw the spirits in the vicinity scattering away in various direction.
It’s as if something spooked them.
I stopped running, slowing down to a jog as I evaluated my option.
Hector’s warning came just as I started to jog on the spot.
Hector : It’s coming Joel…. A glutton…one we’ve seen before…
I turned behind me and I looked down the empty path.
There’s no one behind me.
I turned again towards my front, again, it was empty.
Hector : It’s close Joel….. it’s close….
The lights on the street lamps flickered and it started going off, plunging the whole park into darkness.
Joel : Hector… ?
Hector : Something is wrong…. i can’t put my finger to it….
I backed off the track and I find myself standing on the sandy beaches as the waves crashed behind me.
I could feel the water behind me.
An infinite source of water at my disposal.
Joel : I can’t see shit Hector…. Warn me if they are coming….
Hector : It’s right in front you, about 20m away….
I focused at the spot in front of me and as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could see it.
It’s one of the gluttons from before. The one in the form of a lady without legs. The one with hands in place of legs.
It hobbled towards me and that’s when I saw it was injured. It was missing a hand.
Joel : Ok… I see it….
Hector : This don’t make sense Joel….
Joel : Which part… ?
I clasped my hand together and I pulled the seawater towards me, putting a water shield in front of me and the glutton.
Hector : why the fuck is this glutton here…? It doesn’t make sense….
Before I could reply, the glutton charged at me in the same manner as an ape digging it’s limbs into the sandy beach.
I knew exactly what I want to do.
The moment it clashed into my water shield , I reversed it, trapping it within my shield like I was using a plastic bag to catch a lizard. Turning around, I flung it as hard as I could towards the sea.
And I started to run.
That’s the only trick I know.
Hector : It’s coming back Joel…. !…
I turned to see it jump into mid-air, pouncing towards me.
Joel : Cloak me Hector !…
As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt a strong scent of ginger assault it’s way into my nostril as I rolled onto the grass with the glutton on me.
I could hear the sizzling hiss of it’s body being burned by Hector’s energy cloak while my hands held onto it, trying to block it’s mouth from coming anywhere near me.
I punched it a couple of times before it kicked me back and disengaged from the fight.
I could still hear the hissing sound from the burn as the glutton backed away from me.
Hector : grab it again, it’s weak enough for me to eat it…..
The glutton did not want to fight and instead, it turned and started limping away from us.
Just when I thought it was over, the glutton soared through the air towards me. I thought it was pouncing on me but it’s not.
It was falling towards me back first.
Like something grabbed it and threw it at me.
I barely got out of the way to see it land on it’s back screeching in an enraged manner.
It righted itself and turned towards me again.
My left hand pulled at the water from the beach and I swung it in front of me, punching the glutton with a fistful of water, sending it tumbling onto the grass patch on the right.
It rotated itself upright and snared at me before charging again. I pulled what I could off the ground and held onto the glutton that was shaking violently in the shield I conjured.
Joel : Hector! …
Hector burst out of my body and ripped into the glutton, devouring it whole, slurping it’s energy into his body.
I expanded the water shield and covered Hector with it immediately.
Hector’s body glowed an eerie shade of reddish orange and he was looking behind my shoulder.
Hector : Amazing…..
Joel : huh ? …. What…? What is amazing… ?
Hector walked around me before putting his body in between the pitch dark park and his host. It’s like he’s trying to protect me from someone, or something.
Suddenly I smell a familiar scent.
No, not the same as Hector’s
This ginger smell is richer, more concentrated. It’s so strong that it hurts my nose just to breathe.
Hector’s smell is different, more refreshing in a way but this.
This one that I’m smelling is one that feels old, like a well-aged whisky.
I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand as Goosebumps rippled throughout my body.
It finally dawned on me what is happening.
There is another GBM here in the park.
Hector did not move. I could feel this heat radiating from his body and his fist was clenched.
I mustered up all I had as I pulled a horizonal column of sea water towards me, letting it pond and flood onto the grasspatch around Hector and i.
When I was satisfied I have enough water around me, i asked Hector what he saw.
Hector did not reply me. He was concentrating hard at a single spot when he charged out of the protective barrier I put up and went straight at a distant tree.
Joel : Hector !….
I saw a figure glow in a similar manner as Hector, only much brighter. The 2 light source collided and the next thing I knew, Hector flew backwards towards me at breakneck speed.
I pulled up a column of water to slow him down and it caught him like the horizontal ropes in a wrestling ring.
Hector cursed and got right up. He was about to charge towards the other GBM again when he paused.
The strange feeling I got earlier is gone.
The unsettling feeling that I felt upon entering the park has dissipated.
Joel : Is it gone .. ?
Hector : It’s gone….it’s gone….
Joel : It’s another ginger breadman isn’t it ? it’s another one of you…. ?
Hector nodded as he got up on his feet. It was then I noticed his right hand.
Joel : Oh my god !! what the fuck happened… ?
His right hand from the wrist right up to the forearm is gone. It was left with just a stump.
Joel : He took your arm… ? !! holy fuck….
Hector looked at the stump on his right arm and say he’ll be fine.
Hector : It’s grow back….
Joel : But you’re ok right… ? are you ok… ? are you hurt… ?
He shook his head.
Joel : let’s get the fuck out of here before the Fang family gets a wind of this.
Hector, suddenly realising he’s out without a shield immediately disappeared into my body.
Hector : If that GBM wanted to kill us, we wouldn’t stand a chance Joel…. It’s too strong…..
Joel : I think you did pretty good there, at least you punched him away…
Hector : I didn’t punch him away Joel…. It stood there and let me hit him…
I felt as if someone sucker punched my stomach upon hearing what Hector just said.
Joel : no way….and you lost an arm because of that… ? because you punched him…?
Hector : It’s too strong…. It’s energy cloak alone could burn right through mine….
I quickened my pace and I broke into a run.
Joel : I think it’s time to report this….. this is getting too dangerous…. A GBM appearing out of nowhere and we don’t even know what the fuck it wants…. It’s probably out for blood.
The lights along the running path came back on like nothing happened, illuminating the road in front of me as everything went back to normal.
Hector : I know why it’s here….
Right about then, my mobile phone buzzed. A message had just come in.
Who would message me at 5.45am in the morning ?
I opened my phone and it was Kristin.
I read the message and sighed.
Bad news always travel fast.
Kristin msg : Joel, The Fangs detected 2 GBM at the same time in Pasir Ris beach…..all the clan heads are going to meet tomorrow…. Call me when you are up.
Before I could digest what Kristin just told me, Hector added.
Hector : It didn’t come to kill us…. It came to feed me.
I ran back to my place as fast as I could and double bolted the door.
Ever since my door got wrecked, I’ve upgraded to a better one.
Instead of asking the contractor to give me a run of the mill timber door, I had him install a customised frame and put in a 3 hour fire rated door typically used in industrial applications.
No telling if it would be effective against the Fang family but it sure feels a lot more secure.
I made myself a quick breakfast before changing for work.
It’s a weekend, most of my colleagues will not be around but with something as big as this going on, I’m sure Yip would know about it. What I want to know however, is would he be doing anything about the incident.
Making a deliberate detour towards the beach, I drove past the carpark to see a row of supercars parked all over the place.
The Fang family is already combing the beach for signs of the 2 GBM.
I saw a couple of cement mixers and a truck belonging to one of the largest construction companies in Singapore taking up several vehicle lots as well.
I rolled past them as I saw several man talking to a driver who was blocking their way out of the carpark with his Porsche 911.
It looks like things are about to get ugly.
Hector asked me what I am doing back there in the park.
Joel : I just want to see who’s turning up to the party.
Hector told me straight away that majority are from the Fang family but he detected a lot of earth users too.
Joel : Looks like not only the Fangs are interested in you…. Looks like someone opened up a can of worms….
Hector : 2 GBM appearing at the same time, it’s not normal. The amount of energy from our brief contact would have rippled throughout the country. Even those without people constantly monitoring the different energies would be able to feel it…
I pulled out of the park and made my way to work. Aside from a few other colleague, the office is empty.
Yip is in his office. His lights were on.
I logged into my terminal and grabbed a random file off the table. I walked directly to Yip’s office and knocked on the door, opening it immediately after 3 taps like I always did.
The moment the door opened, I got my answer immediately. I apologised and quickly excused myself.
Joel : Oh… sorry… I didn’t know you are having a meeting.
Yip was talking to Felicia and another 2 colleagues from different departments.
Seeing how they immediately went silent was a dead giveaway.
Yip must know about the 2 GBM contact as well.
I was about to shut the door when my boss called me back.
Yip : Joel…. Wait… come in….
Joel : What is it ?
Yip : why are you back here… ?
Joel : what kind of question is this… ? I work 7 days a week…
Yip motioned for me to shut the door behind me.
Yip : How much have you learned from Fong… ?
Joel : What… ?
Yip reassured me that it’s ok to answer his question and introduced me to the other 2 colleagues I only know by face since we work in the same building.
Yip : This is Terry and Sam, they are from the water and earth clan.
Joel : Oh. Hi… ermm… I’m also water… but I got no clan..
We shook hands and Terry asked me how can I be without a clan if I’m a water user.
Yip explained that I found out about my ability only recently without elaborating further.
Yip : His skills is equivalent to that of a primary school kid.
I felt a little insulted, but I said nothing.
Yip : Joel, something big has happened and all the clan heads are meeting tomorrow. Things are moving at breakneck speed.
Yip did not tell me about the GBM incident and only referred to the urgent meeting as a chance for the heads to discuss some urgent matters. Since the clans don’t meet regularly, they decided to use that opportunity to approve and admit new members into the family.
Kristin has told me about this before.
Proof my skills at the clan meeting and I might get a chance to catch the eye of a senior water user. Someone who could teach me the skills I want to learn.
Yip is a water user but he did not look like he was interested to baby sit someone like me. If he wanted to, he would have offered right away.
Yip : Did Fong tell you about the entrance exam… ?
I shook my head.
Yip explained that it’s a formality for all magic users who reached puberty to demonstrate to the rest of the family their basic control of their element.
Joel : err… I think I’m a little over puberty….
Felicia laughed and quickly composed herself, looking away from me while the zippo lighter turned and did mini somersaults on her fingers.
Yip : It doesn’t matter. Can you put up a basic water shield ?
Joel : Yeah… sort of…
Yip : then it’s good enough.
Yip explained that everyone in that room has already cleared the entrance exam. They will not be allowed into the hall.
The only people allowed into the clan meeting tomorrow are the heads or respective clans and the ones who nominated their proteges for the exam.
Yip : Fong will be there as the head of the Air users, tell him you are ready to take the exam and he will get you in.
Joel : What do I do after I get in ?
Yip : Having a basic shield up will get you a pass. That’s good enough. Someone from the water clan will take you under his wing to guide you further… but that’s not why I want you to be there.
Joel : Oh.
As expected, Yip wanted ears on the inside as to what the heads of the family will be discussing.
Yip : The exam will start first, it’s going to be all kids and teenagers so please prepare yourself mentally. You’re probably going to be the oldest fart in there.
Joel : Gee. Wow…. Can I don’t go for this…?
Yip ignored what I said and went on.
After the exam has been settled, the clan heads will start talking while the rest of us will be seated in the clan hall.
Yip : You will take note of what is discussed and you will report everything back to me.
Joel : Err..ok.
Yip : It’s doesn’t matter if you don’t understand what the hell they are talking about, I want to know everything that they say. What they want, what are they going do, who is not happy with who. I want to know everything. Even if someone digs his nose or scratch his armpits, I want to know. Is that clear Officer Joel .
Joel : Yes Sir….
Yip : questions. ?
Joel : Yes… a lot..
Yip exhaled and rolled his palms forward at me, asking me to ask away.
Joel : Why can’t you teach me about water ?
Yip : I was exiled from my clan due to differences between me and my elders….
Joel : But you still can teach me right… ?
Yip : I can, but I only know the equivalent of what an intermediate user of magic know….. you should learn from the better ones….
Joel : What if I fail the exam ?
Yip : Then you better dig a hole and hide because the 13, 14, 15 year olds are going to shit their pants laughing at a 30+ uncle fail.
Joel : That’s reassuring to know.
Yip : Get out of the office and go practise. It’s not hard to get a shield up to pass. Ok ? Any other question Officer Joel.. ?
Joel : What if I don’t want to just pass, as the oldest one there, I can excel and do the police force proud.
Yip : Jesus….
He buried his face in his palm and asked me to get out.
Felicia chuckled and rotated to face me on the swivel chair.
Felicia : Can you open the first gate Joel ? hahah
Joel : No I can’t…. would opening it earn a better grade ?
Felicia : Every year, only 1 or 2 manage to open the 1st gate, it’s not easy, but if you manage to do it, it’s going to be a feat regardless of your age…
Yip : Don’t open any gate, no metal gate, wooden gate….. just open my office door and go …. Please…. practise …… I want to know what those guys talk about… that’s all.
My hand touched the knob of the door and I turned around again.
Joel : Just to clarify, am i….going to be there as an individual candidate, or this is going to be some official police work that I can put as part of my achievement…. You know…. year end appraisal and all…
Yip grabbed the file I brought into the room and threw it me. I caught it easily and I shrugged my shoulders at him.
Joel : I’m just saying…
Yip : It would be a very good achievement if you don’t embarrasses yourself..
I shook my head and went back to my desk.
It’s just getting a shield up. What’s the big deal.
I cleared a few urgent emails and stuff before logging off.
I went straight to Kristin’s place. The long lines are back outside their place. People eager to communicate with their love ones or those who want to have their so call fortune told.
I walked right past them and entered their house.
I could hear Fong scolding a man for his gambling habits and trying to ask for help from his late father.
Kristin was typing away on her laptop on the dining table.
Kristin : No need to work today… ?
Joel : Ermm… I’m on leave today…. Kristin , about the clan meeting tomorrow… I have something to discuss with you and your father….
Kristin seemed to know exactly what I want.
Kristin : Oh yes, about that. My dad was thinking of entering you into the exam, he wants to have a chat with you about it….
Kristin went on to explain to me what it’s about and I let her go on even though I already knew from Yip.
Kristin : It’s one of the rare occasions all the clan heads will be there…. All the most senior and most powerful water users will be witnessing the exam….that’s the best chance for you to hook up with someone who can teach you the ropes…..
Joel : Orh…sure. I would love to take part.
Kristin : My dad will put in the recommendation for you under the air clan but it’s ok. Just get your water shield up, there’s always someone looking for new blood to train them up.
Joel : ok. Anything else I should look out for ? or anything else I should know ?
Kristin shook her head before adding ;
Kristin: oh one last thing. You might be the ermmm… most senior person there…. Most of the participants are actually kids or teenagers… but it’s ok la, you don’t look like the kind that will be embarrassed..
Joel : You meant I’m thick skinned…. ?
Kristin : Seeing as how you have been coming over for dinner and tea without offering to pay us, I would say that is the case….
Joel : Need to be so calculative or not…. ?
Kristin laughed and clicked way on her laptop.
Joel : What are you doing ?
Kristin : online shopping….
I went to make tea and when Fong took a short break from his consultation session, he chatted with me about the clan meeting, telling me what Kristin already told me.
That I will be going for the so call entrance exam.
Fong : Very simple… basic shield…. Hold it for more than 20 seconds and it’s done….. I will go talk to some old friends tomorrow… get you hook up with a water user..
Joel : Thanks man. Really appreciate it….
Fong : No problem at all…. All magic users are family.. haha…
I lingered around Fong and Kristin’s place and I find myself helping out a little with the queue management.
I didn’t mind at all. Their place may be small but I feel quite comfortable being there. I hardly bade an eyelid with spirits walking by me like the flat is some major interchange.
I saw one of those officer fiddling with his mobile phone and I was reminded of something.
Something from a while ago.
One of them took a photo of me at the hospital.
I wonder why.
Even though I only come to Kristin’s place once a week now that I’ve started work, we remained as close. Not in a boy girl relationship kind of way, but we’re just really comfortable with each other.
We’ve never done any ‘dating’ related stuff by the way but the way we talk to each other is as if we were friends for a very long time.
Kylie appeared in front of me that day and quickly told me to say no to the 1st 2 outfit and yes to the next 2.
I have no idea what she meant until just before dinner was served, Kristin decides to put on a mini fashion show with the stuff she bought online.
Nothing revealing or outrageous, it’s dresses and tops.
Kristin : Oei…. Officer Joel…. Nice or not… this dress…. ?
I remembered Kylie’s advice and I took a look from top to toe and shook my head.
Joel : ermm…. I think this cut doesn’t bring out the best of your…. Ermm…. Frame…
Kristin’s eyes widened in surprised and nodded in smug satisfaction.
Kristin : ok… at least you are honest… although I figured you are the kind that would say everything looks good on me… hahaha… I think this is not suitable for me too…. Sigh….
I did exactly what Kylie told me to and when it’s time to eat, Kristin told me I’ve earned myself a drumstick for having good taste in clothes.
Kristin : nah… for you….
Joel : wow… thanks….
Kristin : I thought men only liked clothes that are tight and revealing… apparently you don’t fall into that category…
I smiled and bit into the drumstick as Kylie gave me a wink from behind her sister.
My favourite outfit was the 2nd one though. That body-hugging contour dress that has layered wraps running diagonally from the side of her waist towards her breast.
It’s tight. Real tight and it really brought out the best of Kristin’s figure. It’s not exactly short but damm, pair it with a pair of heels and all I could think of that combination was her bent over at my desk.
I tore myself away from that thought and chose to enjoy my free dinner instead.
13th Jan 2019
The clan meeting location is in the middle of a sprawling industrial estate to the north of the island.
Before I could turn into the private road leading to the site, a makeshift checkpoint was set up. It’s odd seeing a RR Phantom and a RR Ghost parked by the side of road with it’s tyres 5cm deep in soft soil. The only vehicle that looked like it belonged to that area is a large covered 20foot truck you usually see movers use.
The Fangs that were guarding and screening every vehicle took their work seriously.
First my name was checked against a list of participants against their tablet.
I could not miss the small table by their side with a container of water, a bucket of soil and a series of lighted candles.
Upon verifying I was one of the participants, I was to mark my attendance using my element.
I pulled a small ball of water and up before letting it drop back into the container.
Satisfied with my eligibility, the Fangs at the checkpoint waved me through.
Just when I thought someone with malicious intent could crash right through with a large truck terrorist style, I saw what was lying in wait behind the 2 RR.
Joel : Bloody hell….what the fuck…
I depressed my accelerator a little too hard as the heat from the 9 headed hydra permeated through my car and warmed the left side of my body.
Right at the entrance to the industrial building I was stopped again for another check of my name against my ID.
This time round by what I assumed are members from the water clan.
2 artificial fountain made to look like mythical mountains churned a 2m tall water feature that send an endless stream of water into the koi pond below.
The 2 security guard in uniform may look nondescript and uncle-like but I knew they were not the one guarding the entrance.
The cascading waterfall is the one that guards the final barrier into the clan meeting.
I might have missed it if not for my sensitivity towards water. Beneath the cascading water, stood 2 1.7m tall figurine made out of water. Shaped like the imposing deities that appears on both doors leading to temples and places of worship for Taoist, the ‘Menshen’ or threshold guardians guards against evil spirits and encouraged the entrance of positive ones.
Entering the massive site, my car joined dozens of others in the open carpark.
While most of the industrial sites are a portrait of raw concrete when viewed from above, this particular site is different.
Matured trees popped out like sore thumb every 15m along the entire carparking area.
The large crown of the rain trees that you see along the expressways now provided much needed shade and cover to the gathering of men and women from all over the country.
The industrial building is shaped like a U, with the opening facing the narrow stripe of sea that separated Singapore from Malaysia.
Sea water rolled over the large chunks of granite and concrete before lapping against a old concrete wall. Immediately after the wall, An imposing length of 6m tall shrubs and trees blocked prying eyes from those across the causeway. People who might be curious what business this peculiar shaped building engages in.
With the 6m green wall as a backdrop, a 4-step terraced spanned the entire length, providing an amphitheatre like setting looking towards the U shape building.
I was free to wander around the place until the main event start.
I dropped Kristin a message to let her know I’m already there.
She told me Fong and her are on their way. I offered to pick them up but Fong declined. Customs dictate that they need to meet up with the rest of the clan heads at an alternate site before making the entrance together.
Kristin will joining her father since she’s going to be the future heir of the air clan in Singapore.
The industrial building itself looked clean and high tech. Bathrooms are scented and air conditioned too.
I could see kids openly practicing their craft in the open area.
A little girl which I estimate to be around 12 balanced a 15cm water tornado on her palm, laughing and trying to bounce it around while her brother told her to stop fooling around.
Another boy was held onto the hand of his older sister who was talking to some friends about a up and coming Korean boy band. The girls gushed as they shared photos of the idol before one of them in the group made a 1:10 scaled model of that dude with the very earth they were standing on.
While the water and earth users seemed more relaxed, the Fangs are the more tensed up ones.
A row of them sat cross legged with their fist clenched. I could see their eyes looking towards the more carefree kids. You can instil all the discipline you want but you cannot deny the kids of their youth and innocence.
Their desire to join the kids from the rest of the clans was evident from the looks on their faces. The family trainer standing in front of them, reminding them to concentrate, to excel, to be the best there is seemed to be the one that is stopping them from enjoying their childhood.
2 catering trucks pulled into the compound and started to set up refreshments and a mini buffet spread for the guest.
There’s a set of vending machine by the lobby too that is absolutely free to use. A variety of beverages, both hot and cold are available.
As the crowd build up, I could feel the tension and excitement in the air.
Hector : The amount of energy that is swirling around this place….. wow…. Hahah…..
I made my way to a corner before answering him.
Joel : Amazing isn’t it…. How all these is happening right under everyone’s noses, makes you wonder how much do we really know about the world we live in….
Hector : Well…. the heads are on their way…. I can feel them… their combined energy field is impossible to miss…. Besides, there’s a massive fire shield over our heads right now covering the entire district….
Joel : Really ?
I looked up towards the sky but I could not see anything.
Hector : it’s huge…. I guess they want to make sure none of the things you guys do get spotted from the sky…
Joel : Will there be any issues if when I put up a shield later ? Will it affect you… ?
Hector : Nah…. Nothing will happen… I can keep myself hidden inside you….
There was a bit of commotion as I saw people running towards the entrance of the building.
A convoy of vehicles are on approach down the straight road. I could feel that surge of energy as well. Kristin and Fong got out of the 1st vehicle. No introduction was made but the 2 threshold guardian by the waterfall stepped out of the fountain, rising to it’s full height.
Joel : woah….
It’s impressive no matter how you look at it.
The 2 guardians were tethered to the water feature by another stream of water coming out from their back.
Fong acknowledged the 2 guardians before stepping into the compound.
Upon stepping into the compound, everyone gasped as a rippled of wind gust outwards with the epicentre being the very spot the 2 guardians was standing.
Their water cape and their beards lifted and float in mid air as if they were standing on a powerful wind turbine.
A matured gentlemen came forward to shake Fong’s hand before his assistant showed him to his seat at the open space.
Kristin saw me and she left her father’s side.
Kristin : Hey… nervous or not… ?
Joel : A little….
Kristin gestured towards the next group of men walking through the gate with her chin.
Kristin : There… your water clan….
2 gentlemen walked in through the gate one after another. The 1st one dressed smartly in a traditional Chinese long shirt, the male equivalent of a Cheongsum that a woman wears. His pants is loose fitting and he looked like some Kungfu master from an era ago.
He’s old, at least 70 by my estimate. He looked dignified, like the abbot of some hundred year old temple.
The other man behind him however is a stark contrast to the one in front.
Kristin : Heshui, the head of the water clan in Singapore and Jingshui, his brother…
Joel : What’s the brother’s problem ?
Jingshui, compared to his brother, looked like a total slop. He came in shorts that had stains on them and he wore a old singlet with several holes. His hair is unkempt and he looked like a street tramp.
He held 2 sugar cane on his hand, each about 40cm long. As he walked in, he bit into it, tore a chunk off and started chewing on the cane. After he was done extracting the sweet juice, he spat the pulp onto the floor.
The 2 threshold guardian grew 50% in size, bolstered by the increase in the water energy and they are now almost 2.5m tall.
Kristin : Jingshui is the rebel in the water family… he’s awfully rule, don’t give a damm about rules and all. In fact, he hates stuff like this. Traditionals, gatherings, clans, he once spew vulgarities and cursed everyone at the meeting….
Joel : Ok.. he sounds like he needs help…
Kristin : Stay away from him, he’s like a wild horse…. He’s mad I think…. He likes to antagonise people, pick fights, stir shit, basically he just goes the opposite direction where everyone is going….
Joel : Is he good with his water ?
Kristin : Heshui and Jingshui are the only 2 person left in Singapore that can summon a water dragon to rival the Fang family’s fire dragon…. But it takes both of them to do it… while the Fang elder can do it on his own.
Kristin also told me that instead of helping with clan matters and teaching the next generation, Jingshui chose to hold himself up at a hawker stall, selling sugarcane juice.
Joel : hahah.. you’re shitting me…
Kristin did not laugh as she shook her head, gesturing towards the next group of guest arriving through the gate.
I recognise a couple of them. I’ve seen them on TV and on the news before.
They are the bosses of big construction firms. Dressed in suits and business attires, 2 men and 2 woman entered the compound, acknowledging threshold guardian one after another.
Kristin : The Wee brothers, and the Koh sisters. 2 of the largest construction firm in the country. They rotate the head position among them every year… this year, it’s the younger of the Koh sister, Liyun.
A layer of coloured dust and what looked like hardened plate mail appeared on the menshen, cladding their water body and putting colours to the amount of details that were not visible in it’s water state.
The 2 guardians anchored themselves onto the ground firmly and as they shifted their weight you could almost feel the earth beneath your feet tremble.
Joel : This is amazing….
Kristin : the 2 guardians has kept generations of magic users safe….
Then came the Fang family in their fancy trench coat and black attire.
Kristin :There… the matrix family…. Neo wannabe….
I laughed as I looked at the Fangs coming in.
Kristin : Head of the fire clan… grand elder Fang…
The threshold guardian’s blade and spear burst into fire the moment grand elder Fang acknowledged them. Everyone could feel the sudden heat wave from the flames.
The flames on the weapon burned bright and sharp. It’s not the kind of flame you see dancing on your birthday candle, it’s burn with the intensity of the flame under the wok of your Tze Char store with the gas nozzle opened all the way.
The man in black robe walked in, flanked by his children.
Dahuo, Erhuo & Sanhuo from the 1st wife on his left, Sidi, Wudi and the 2 sisters, Huojie, Huomei, came from the 2nd wife.
Kristin, not knowing I already received a brief introduction from Yip, went on to introduce the rest of the Fang family to me. I listened quietly and nodded as I looked at the imposing aura the most powerful family in the country walked into the compound.
Kristin : Grand elder Fangs’ brother, Huoshu, stopped turning up for clan meeting since a decade ago…. I’ve seen him only a couple of times.
I nodded at the mention of Felicia’s grandfather.
Ushers gestured us towards the open compound behind the building as I turned to look at the 2 guardians that looked like they were ready for war.
The 2 metre tall stone lions set by the gate jumped off their marble perch and each took a separate direction to patrol the boundary of the industrial building.
The fire hydra from the truck slithered into the centre of the tared road and laid down before it disappeared from view.
A cement truck pulled up to block the road as I watch construction cones and road diversion signs were quickly erected.
Well, you can be sure no one is getting in or out until this is over.
I walked to the open compound and I took a seat at the terraced steps together with the rest of the candidates for the exam.
Placed in a fan shape facing the terrace, are 5 chairs. The head of each clan took their seat leaving the one in the middle empty.
Fong took the extreme left seat, followed by Liyun from earth, the empty middle seat for a non-existent space user, grand elder Fang next, followed by Heshui from the water clan.
The rest of the clans sat behind the 5 chairs.
The host for the clan meeting, a man in his fifties walked into the centre of the open compound.
He used no mic, no amplifier and he spoke with his normal voice but it registered crisp and clear, as if he was speaking right in front of me.
Yeow : Good morning to all the heads of the family, candidates and the future generation of magic users…. My name is Yeow….on behalf of all clans representing all the elements we wield…… Welcome to the annual clan meeting.
Everyone on the terrace I was sitting on started clapping and I followed suit.
Yeow : we are blessed with fine weather and clear skies, not that it mattered since we’re in a giant bubble.
Sporadic laughs broke out in the audience and Yeow seemed visibly pleased his joke elicited some laughter as he walked around and looked at the latest batch of candidates.
Hector suddenly spoke, sending a feeling of dread down my spine
Hector : It’s here Joel….
I have other people seated to my left and right. I can’t answer Hector outright, I wanted to ask him what he meant but he answered the question in my head even before I had time to form the words.
Hector : That GBM is here…. I can feel him…..the same one from yesterday….
I could feel a sinking feeling in my stomach.
My eyes looked towards the gathering of magic users seated in front of me.
The most powerful users of the different elements are all right in front of me.
If Hector could feel the other GBM, I assumed the connection is 2 way. It could also feel Hector.
And since there are no obvious scent of ginger, it led me to a obvious conclusion.
The other GBM, like Hector, is hiding inside one of the men or women seated in front of me.
Yeow raised his arms to the side and made his announcement right as the 1st group of candidate got up and lined up by the side of the open area.
Yeow : Alright…. Hahah ….. without further ado, on this 8th day, of the lunar 12th month, I declare the official commencement, of the 2019 annual clan meeting…….
End of Season 1
Season 2 begins 2/10/2020
(10 updates split into 2 updates a week for 5 weeks )