Chapter 1: Disillusionment
In times like these, she wondered whether the Fates had it out for her.
The villagers had spoken of such a creature, whispered its presence into ears of misbehaving children and conversed in hushed tones throughout stories around the campfire. A powerful being that roamed the streets at dark, searching for someone, anyone, caught unawares, to become his next prey. His hair, elders proclaimed, was drenched with the blood of his victims, a dull crimson easily blending in the midst of shadows; his eyes, eerily amber, held nothing but joy as he hacked away at the endless rows of bodies with his stained sword.
They couldn't be more wrong.
Sure, he was dangerous, but he was also handsome. There was a grace and beauty she found while watching him move through the mass of limbs and blades, cutting down every one of them with a single slash aimed at the person's midriff or neck. Each strand shimmered like starlight, a fiery scarlet that lit up even the darkest ebony skies. The passion that gripped his eyes wasn't one of hunger, lust or fury, but rather fueled by a blazing ire, a determination mothers were wont to have protecting their young from harm, fierce and frightening.
She should have been scared, by all rights. She should have been absolutely terrified, sitting there in the clearing, bound and gagged, watching her predestined lover massacre a hoard of thugs who'd dared try claiming her for their own. Certainly a normal human would.
But she wasn't an ordinary woman. She was a sacrifice, willingly given to the gods by the people as appeasement. To Hell be damned the townsfolk…They'd been nothing but eager to offer her as payment.
And still, when he finished with his deed, effortlessly stepping over the mutilated remains of ignorant mortals towards her, gathering her form-still tied up- into his arms, crooning soft words of ownership and dominance into her ear, his magic wrapping possessively around her frame, she couldn't help but feel safe.
Chapter 2: Persuasion
Sharp fangs grazed her skin. Bone-white nails scraped against her frame, sinking into flesh and blood.Scream.
Tendrils of magic snaked across the floor, winding its way up and around her, coaxing and caressing and crushing all at once.
She gritted her teeth.
Ice-cold sapphire eyes met blazing amber ones. His scent, an alluring mixture of spices and perfume, rolled off him in waves, suffocating, intoxicating.
With a snarl, she jerked away, freeing herself of his grip and tumbling backwards, within the deepest shadows of her cell. A bell rang somewhere far off, signaling the end of his session, and he turned and strode towards the exit, ready to tend to more pressing matters.
He had to admit, she was a wily one. A true wild spirit, untamed and unrestrained. Life would definitely become more interesting after this phase.
Once. Just once more.
Then she would be his forever.
Chapter 3: Damnation
It was finally over.
She lay where she'd fallen, quietly kneeling on the outer ring of the circle. The stench of magic settled in her nostrils, threatening to overwhelm her, and she didn't dare raise her head to see what she had done; runes crackled underneath her skin, causing tingles to run down her spine and setting her robes ablaze. Such raw, destructive power they had…The spell-tattoos writhed and pulsed on her body in a vain attempt to expel the foreign energy from her system, edges of her mind shut to seal away the voices swirling inside her head.
Medics rushed to and fro, clamoring for supplies and backup. An oxygen mask was pressed over her face, providing a breath of fresh air to counteract the tainted, curse-laced atmosphere, and as she steadily drew in deep, cleansing mouthfuls of air, scattered memories slowly floated up to the surface, painstakingly playing back the events of the past few hours.
She could still hear his voice screaming her name as he plummeted deeper into the black abyss, could practically feel his smooth, pale finger sliding down her cheek in a soothing caress. Thin, supple lips were pressed against her own, tongue casually slipping into her mouth whilst he held her: Their first, and final, kiss.
How it'd come to this, she still didn't know. The villagers had constantly appealed to his good nature; helping them out whenever possible, save for a few that insisted he was a demon who would murder them in their beds lest they weren't careful. He always took care leaving no trace of his true identity out in the open. Someone must've ratted them out. There were no other possibilities.
All he'd wanted was a life of his own.
She was on her feet in an instant, stumbling towards the exit, ignoring orders to stay down and lay still. One swiftly-muttered incantation and she was free, soaring among soft clouds, at the mercy of the sky.
Never once did she look back.
Chapter 4: Satisfaction
Silence reigned in the air. No shouts, no screams: He always did his work in utter stillness, prowling amongst the buildings in the dead of night.
The doorway creaked open, signaling his return. Noiselessly, he made his way over to where she sat, curled up beside the hearth, the flickering flames casting shadows against bare walls. One arm snaked around her neck, gently stroking the layers of bone and skin, lengths of hair tickling her shoulders as the male rested his head against the cushions, strands tainted hauntingly scarlet. A feral smile graced his features as he presented the katana, golden eyes glittering with malice and dark intent. Watching. Waiting.
Slowly, she released a breath of air, letting her eyes roam over the blade with practiced ease. Blood dripped off the steel as she examined the weapon carefully, pooling at her feet, staining the soft rug a vibrant, violent red. After a moment's pause, she nodded, stating her approval. He had done enough.
Then he was off, humming softly to himself as he turned the corner, heading towards the bathroom to clean up. Water hissed overhead from the shower, and as clouds of steam floated upwards, he stole one last glance at her figure comfortably settled upon the armchair. She was stretching now, loosening her muscles with a few twists and turns of her frame, the movements languid, almost catlike. Her eyes, a startling shade of electric blue, shone with an eerie, ethereal light; the smile hovering above her lips never left, pure, bright, loving.
His hands scrubbed furiously to remove all traces of the crimson liquid from his skin, snowy-white soap tinted burgundy as it swirled down the drain. Their blood had gotten on his clothes: He would have to do the laundry tonight. Despite being killed in their sleep, the deed had been dreadfully messy, limbs thrashing as people drowned in their own fluids. No chance of getting a good night's rest this evening. Ah, well. Such was the price to pay for striking deals with a shinigami.
As long as she was happy, he didn't care.
Chapter 5: Expression
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The sun was shining and the birds were out.
Warm laughter floated in the air, joyful, free. Wildly, the woman twirled, around and around. The sky spun in dizzying circles of blue and white. A breeze swept through her raven hair, carrying along a rush of red and gold leaves. Some caressed her face and outstretched hands; others whirled, fluttered, danced at her feet. She remained like this for an eternity, open and alive, forever teetering at the very edge of space.
Slowly, she let herself fall, leaning backwards until gravity claimed her body and pulled her onto the earth below. Pale, calloused hands reached out to toy with the fiery strands belonging to the male resting alongside her and she smiled. Here did peace exist, among blue skies and a single touch, the very essence of autumn. The grass swayed underneath them, lightly licking her rosy cheeks, twining with his scarlet hair.
Right here, right now, was perfect.
Thank you to those who read and commented. Every one of them are very much appreciated, and kept this one motivated when writing for this series. (Bows low) Until next time...
I do NOT own Rurouni Kenshin. It belongs to Nobuhiro Watsuki.