【 SCARLETT PARADE 】
「 Also known as “Asian District”. Well known for its exotic entertainment and organized crime rendezvous points. The Asian Crime Organizations—also known as “Hell's Yakuza”—have a wide range of illegal trading of weapons, narcotics, and bizarre experiments around the place. 」
“This is my last offer Mr. Starphase, I will give you the proper connections and the information that you need, whenever you want it, if you protect Scarlett Parade's Soul”
“What guarantees me that you won't succumb to treason if I were to decline your offer, Madam Himura?”
The woman ceased smoking her pipe for a moment, her black eyes hardened, and her body went completely still.
“Because I would rather die than let something happen to my son; I really guarantee you Mr. Starphase that I'm a woman of word, and I always keep it.”
The man took his glass with Sake and drank. Himura's slanted eyes never left from Starphase's face.
【 KAKURENKO 】
「 Famous Brothel and Power House of the whole Asian District. Its clientele comes to engage either in a sexual intercourse with its Prostitutes, exchange information, or to relieve their worries. Whichever of these three requirements is the cause, at the end, each employee keeps a record of high class information that helps or prejudices both governmental or criminal organizations 」
“I thought that the Scarlett Soul was a myth.”
“The thing with myths, Sir, is that no one dares to prove if they're real; the few ones that do, end up either rewarded or dead.”
“Myths are gospel for those who have nothing to believe in”, he said as he put down his glass, “and I'd rather follow my own beliefs.”
Madam Himura began to panic when Mr. Starphase stood up and took his coat. This man was the most secure—and her last—resource to give to her most precious worker a safe line of support.
“Mother, I don't feel well”
Both adults stopped when the third presence was added to the mix.
【 SCARLETT SOUL 】
「 The only male prostitute that the Asian District has. An endearing and nameless boy that has his reputation for having all kinds of clients. He has the title of “Scarlett Parade's Soul and Pride” for gaining most of the powerful and resourceful men in New York as his clients. No one outside the walls of Kakurenko has ever seen his face. Trespassers only spread the rumors of the most beautiful young man that fills his soul with the hearts from his clients. 」
He was clad in dark blue colors, the large and heavy layers of Yukata that clung to his body left uncovered his shoulders. Unruly wavy hair cascaded down to his nape, and his eyes were closed.
The man would have lied if he said that that wasn't the prettiest face he had ever seen on a young man.
“Raio, go back to your room.”
“Raio, please go ba—”, the boy's stomach growled and Madam Himura turned white, “When... was the last time you ate?”
“Two weeks ago”, replied the boy calmly.
The old woman's eyes turned from the boy to Starphase, and hardened at the end when they landed on the older man for one last time.
“It's okay”, said Raio, looking from Himura to the taller man, “You don't have to accept her offer, Sir. If you want information, you can come with me.”
“You don't know what I want, you don't know if I can do something to you, why would you do it?” he asked cautiously, with a hard edge on his tone.
“Because I'm sure you really need it", he said with a soft smile, "Whatever it is, I can get it for you.”
Starphase felt how something inside him clenched, and turned around to face Himura, “I'll do it.”
“So, you're after 'The Blood Strings'. Tell me, Mr. Steven, what kind of business does a man like you have with organ dealers?” Raio asked with his hands resting on his cheeks. His half naked body laid face down on his blue bed, covered in green robes.
Steven sat on the chair next to it, resting his chin on his crossed fingers, “I take that you have met one inside their circle”, he said meticulously.
“Maybe, maybe not. All kind of people come to see me, sometimes it's really hard to find out who they work for.”
“I can imagine, but I guess they talk faster than I could bargain; with that pretty face of yours, you probably don't have problems.”
The boy smiled mischievously, “You flatter me, Mr. Steven”, Raio's legs went up, “but sometimes they don't come to gaze at a pretty face. Some of them are rougher than you could think, and it's not that easy to make the hard ones talk.”
“Considering they're hard, I can see why it's very difficult”, replied the man with a smirk.
Steven felt a pang when the boy started to laugh, oh so endearingly; his closed eyes and the dimples in his laughing face stirred something inside him.
“I think I like you already Mr. Starphase, I hope I don't cause you trouble in the future.”
Steven relaxed his posture, and gave a small smile, “Believe me, you won't.”
“It's been a while since I've written a letter to you, how's Heaven?, I hope It's peaceful and not ratty like here in Kakurenko. I bet that you have an amazing view of the city from up there in the clouds. I wish I could see it, most of the guys I slept with have told me that it's really pretty.
Speaking of guys; you wouldn't believe me if I told you that I've met the first man that hasn't paid, nor is interested in laying a hand on me. His name is Steven, he's very polite and kind, he looks like he hasn't slept properly in days and is in need of a strong cup of coffee. I wonder who he works for, or what he exactly does. He agreed with Mother to be kind of like... my "body guard", and in exchange we give him information.
Luci... I'm scared, he's trying to take down one of the main resources of food for people like me. It's kind of good, if you see it from a righteous perspective. The boss of that group is the one that comes frequently for me... and I don't like him. The way he talks and touches me, I really don't like him. I've contained myself whenever he visits... whenever he comes. I've tried so hard to not tear him apart, limb by limb, and eat his heart... but I can't do anything.
Because if I did, what would happen to the Flesh Eaters out there?
If Mr. Steven got rid of that man, would I be saved from another pair of dirty hands, or will my remaining kin out there starve and go mad towards their execution?
Luci... am I doing something wrong?"
“Saturday, at 21:25. Old Bart Whiteman's, Road Maville 11747. One of the inner rings plan to exchange merch.”
Rook takes Horse
“The fact that they gave you directions amazes me.”
Pawn for Pawn
“There's nothing a bottle of liquor and some narcotics can't do to make them spill", he said with a calculative pause, "I'm glad he dropped down before he could do anything to me, you will have to repay me one day, Mr. Steven.”
Queen advances, tower to F3
“Oh? Do tell, what would you like in exchange?”
Rook takes Queen, Check
“Is it true", he asked in a husky tone, "that the clouds after twilight shine bloody red near the sea?”
King Retreats, Rook Advances
“It depends, sometimes, they are golden or orange.”
“I want a picture.”
To the Stampede:
It's been 3 years, 7 months, and 2 days since I've last seen you. Mariee thinks you're far from dead. She always says that you went to burn hell properly. Sometimes it amazes me that she never liked you. Since you started to see me, she was always wary of you, with all the trouble that you caused wherever you laid your feet on, I really don't blame her for getting anxious whenever clients of your kind come around to spend the night.
There are times that I miss you. I miss hearing things about your adventures that are "out of this world". I miss seeing you smile, I miss hearing you laugh, I miss you and that horrible eating on bed habit of yours, it always made me punch you for bringing disgusting things to bed. I miss hearing your complains of how you couldn't go to public places, of how law enforcements, broke mercenaries and old towns made your wanderer life so complicated for that bounty on your head. Of how you barely had money to eat, and yet, you went out there spreading 'Peace and Love' as the lame pacifist that you are.
Most of all, I miss your silly way of being.
But... there are some times that I don't. Because I start to think of the things that could have happened if you were still here. I try to forget the time that I spent with you; I try to forget your voice, I try to forget your careful and loving touch. You were the only client that treated me as if I wasn't something dirty, small, and meaningless. You were the one I thought whenever I had to sleep with someone. I imagined that it was you doing the things that they do to me.
Recently... I don't, because I've met someone. And I've come to realize that I didn't feel that something with you like I do with him. I'll never know if I would have had that something with you, and I will probably never have it with him either.
Who would ever love a whore like me?
Hey Vash... If I ever end up in hell, I hope to find you wreaking havoc there.
Lately, Madam Himura had trouble obtaining his food. The few decent places were being taken down for retrieving dead bodies illegally. The other day a small aiding café had been shut down. He wasn't picky with his food, whatever he got was enough to satisfy the hunger that could drive him mad and made him lose control in no time.
With Mr. Steven slowly taking down 'The Red Strings', it was hard to find willing patrons on the blind side of security to exchange human parts for those who didn't recur to hunting. He was glad that the Ring Boss didn't come anymore, and he felt at ease knowing he wouldn't see him anytime soon.
“Raioooo! You lucky little devil, tell me who sent them!”
He was met with two of his sisters when he exited the kitchen.
“I don't know what you're talking about, Jujou”, he said with his brows furrowed in confusion.
The voluptuous redhead wrapped her arm around his shoulders, “Oh? Don't play with me, you must have already seen them if you're telling me that 'you don't know what I'm talking about'.”
“No, I really don't know”, Raio said irritated.
“Oh my God, I can't believe this, Alé, let's take him!”
He was immediately dragged to the main room of the building. In the central table was a big bouquet of red Camellias, yellow Lilies and orange Orchids. He approached carefully to the present and found a white rose with splashes of red at the base of the table with a note.
To: My Pretty Faced Boy
Thanks for your help, sorry if I couldn't get you a picture, hope this bloody twilight does.
He smiled as he felt a warmth spread over his body, he brought the white rose to his nose, smelling something that made his mouth water and his heart race madly.
“You've been dozing off lately, Sir”, said his secretary when he entered the office.
“Am I?” he asked back, his eyes never leaving the papers in his hands.
“Definitely", she said solemnly, "If you're not thinking about your last appointment, then you're have someone special in your mind. Are you seeing someone, Mr. Starphase?”
“If you count Work as someone, then yes, lately I've been seeing it frequently”, he said in a deadpan with a tired tone.
“Don't be silly Sir.”
Steven sighed, the stack of papers in his hands fell with a heavy 'thud' on the counter.
She paused, “It can't be that complicated.”
“Believe me, it is... it's something impossible.”
“Tell me about it, Sir.”
“I don't know his name...” he started slowly, waiting for her reaction. When he didn't hear anything, he continued, “In his work they call him either Raio or Lulleo, but that's not his real name, I know it...”
“Does he has something to do with your recent job, Sir?”
“Yeah, he... gives me information, and I believe he's the most resourceful person in the whole city. And to be honest I don't think I will ever see him out from his work, or if I will ever get him for me alone. But you know... I feel comfortable around him, I feel completely at ease whenever I talk to him, and god, he's really beautiful, I wish you could see him smile", he said with a besotted look.
“He's like a courtier...” she paused for a minute, and Steven felt like that small silence was prolonging to centuries of judgment, “You're in love with him, aren't you?”
Steven sighed, his head lumped down, and his hands gripped his hair “Estoy jodidamente enamorado, y no hay nada que pueda hacer.”
Leo opened the door to his room, and was caught unaware with a surprise visitor, “I wasn't expecting you Mr. Steven”, he said with a bright grin.
Steven turned around, and returned the gesture a bit slightly, “I like to bring the surprise factor, I'm glad you didn't throw something at me.”
“Yes, you should be grateful I left the knives in the kitchen”, he said after closing the door, making his way to his closet, “May I ask, what is it that brings you here?”
“Is my presence making you uncomfortable?” asked Steven with a frown.
Leo laughed softly, “No, not at all, I'm just amazed that you came here, I usually don't get visitors during the day.”
“Is it okay, then, if I come to visit you in the mornings?”
He felt how his heart started to race, his hands stopped roaming over his clothes, his fingers falling down the bright blue Yukata with frost patterns. He turned around, his face turning into a delightful expression, “I would love that.”
The way Steven's eyes sparkled melted his heart.
To my lovely Michella:
"Happy Birthday, you should have been 18 by now. I hope Luci is taking care of you up there, and that you aren't eating anyone's toes. You had a weird habit of looking at peoples fingers through their sandals whenever we went to have a stroll on Scarlett Parade when we were little.
Things here are yet the same, clients and guests come and go. I've met new people, and the mayor part of them only come to talk, this change is really new, and I love it, I wish it could last forever. The other day an old lady stayed the night, and told me so many things of her life, at first I didn't understand why she came, and before she left she told me “I always wanted to talk with you, I'm grateful you heard me, you deserve to know many things out from here.” She was really sweet, I was told that she died yesterday.
If you see her, please tell her thanks from my part.
I also wanted to tell you... that I think I'm in love.
This hasn't happened before Mich, I thought I would never experience this after my crush over Vash. I kept saying that it was just something small and meaningless, that it was going to be something that would disappear with time. I didn't think that such a childish infatuation could evolve as quickly as it did. His name is Steven, and I really can't describe how I feel about this. Mother hired him as my body guard if something bad were to happen to me. I'm helping him take down 'The Red Strings'. And he comes to visit me every morning. I've asked him really stupid questions and I feel silly for it, my curiosity about the outside makes me feel really stupid whenever I talk with him, but he says he really doesn't mind, and answers everything I ask.
He taught me how to play chess, I've beaten him three times. He also taught me how to dance, it's really fun Mich, I wish that you were alive so I could show you. He tells me small things about his life. How his work is tiring, how many paperwork awaits him at his lonely home. He is a really nice man, and I feel bad for myself, because I don't deserve to have someone like him in my life.
I feel really disgusted of the many things that I am. A filthy confined Red Light whore that feasts on human bodies. I wish I could tell him of my impurities and desires, but I'm scared, I'm scared of him leaving me here, all alone, forever.
Fate always seems to play it unfair with us, doesn't it, Sis?"
It's been seven months, and Steven can't get away from his head the young man he has fallen for so hard. After arresting the whole Organ Traffickers, he went back to work at the Investigation Department, waiting for another case. This didn't stop him from visiting his dear boy.
He felt so sickly in love it was kind of disgusting from his part. Meggy always got the right moments to tease him whenever she could.
This morning he was running late on his way to Kakurenko. He hoped Raio didn't mind it.
He was not prepared for the thing that greeted his eyes.
The whole Asian District was burnt down.
The Police and Fire Department were confining the place, few people were being treated on the ambulances that were parked on the street. All the colorful buildings that consisted of the first main street were rubble. Ashes and debris were spread everywhere, and smoke still lingered in the air.
Steven ran, deep into the streets, ignoring the warning calls he received from a police officer.
Burnt wood, ashes and flame particles scattered across his vision. What remained was a mere ghost of the Power House of the famous Scarlett Parade. Steven went inside and had to cover his nose before the putrid smell of cinders and corpses hit his nostrils at its max.
The stairs to the upper levels were no more, the bright yellow and pink rooms of the first floor were now tainted in a coal black. A dead body laid on the floor, and Steven approached it.
When he turned it to take a good look, a strong nausea hit him after seeing Madam Himura's distorted burnt face. Her arms were wrapped around her torso on a tight grip, hiding something.
It took him five minutes to extract what she was shielding so protectively with her last forces.
It was a small envelope with a dying message.
Please save my boy before he loses control.
Take care of him
His body hurt, his head hurt.
He was hungry
But he couldn't do anything, he was very weak, the more he moved forward, the more he started to lose coherent thoughts. Most of his captors were human. His bare hands were covered in blood, his feet ached, and he wanted to find an exit. He needed to know which turn was the right one to get away from this place.
“Where do you think you're going, you filthy whore.”
Something hit his body. And soon enough he was laying down on the floor. The silhouette of that voice was blurry, but his nose couldn't fool him. He smelt cut human flesh, he smelt food. His whole body was suddenly on fire, and his eyes opened to catch a better glimpse of his pray.
“GHOUL!” screamed one.
He got up immediately, only to be beaten down again. He growled, the inhuman sound that came out of his throat put his captors on edge.
“C-calm down, he's w-weak, I-I-I bet the fucker hasn't e-eat-en a-anything”, said one with a small whimper.
“And he won't be doing it anytime soon”, replied another one with a dark growl.
The scream that left his lips was a massive bloody one, a deep burning pain ran across his feet, his tendons snapped and felt like hot fire when something cut through them.
The whole city was a complete mess, the eerie atmosphere was unnerving. The blue, green and yellow flames that surrounded the mayor part of the main roads were unnatural. After the big explosion, and the quake that follower after, everything went silent.
Weird creatures started to roam around, the left side of his cheek hurt like hell. He didn't know what was going on. He didn't knew where Madam Himura's son was. He went searching like mad to every corner of the city. The few contacts that he had weren't having any luck either. He didn't know what to do. He had failed completely with his contract. He failed in his duty as Scarlett Soul's bodyguard, and the despair was eating him alive. He would never see him again. He would never know his name. He would never forget him. The guilt would definitely never go away.
The train wrenching thoughts stopped abruptly when a cutting sound pierced the air. A weird light materialized on the far cost near the statue, and in less of a minute everything went back to normal.
Steven ran again.
“What is it that you want to see?”
The magic circle beneath him activated, the man on the other side of it was dying of blood loss. A weird entity appeared before him. The smell of the salty sea and ozone hit his nose trills and made him feel sick. The excess of colors made his eyes itch.
But his body never trembled, his dark eyes were focused on the many ones of the thing.
“Those who don't want to see, don't need their eyesight.”
“WAIT! NO! WAIT, WAIT, WAIT”, hollered the last of his captors that was left standig.
Leo left out a throaty scream, his eyes were now burning, and his sight started to change.
“You are now the witness, of what is about to unravel.”
When the pain ceased, the creature disappeared, leaving him with a dead man, a broken magic rune, and the starving hunger of a pride of lions.
The sight before him made him feel at ease. He was there, he was alive. But he was also covered in blood in front of a dead body that was torn open, one of his hands inside the thoracic cage of the body, the other holding an organ that he was certainly eating.
Leo turned his head around, and the hand that was inside the body's chest snapped in two the bones that he was holding. What greeted Steven were a pair of shining black eyes with red floating orbs, with a half-eaten heart centimeters apart from Leo's bloody mouth. Leo felt how his insides crumbled down; just how his tears began to fall down from his eyes. The black and red pattern of his suddenly turned back to a bright blue.
“Steven", choked out Leo, frightened, like a deer caught in the headlights, "Don't—don't come near."
He didn't stop.
"I said don't come near!” he said again, with a brash tone.
Steven didn't listen, and stopped before him, taking the sight of his gorgeous boy covered in blood. He knelt before him—Leo let out a warning growl—the puddle of blood started to wet his legs. He looked at him straight in the eyes, and said in a breathless relieved voice, "You're alive."
Leo took in a sharp breath, and slowly, the tears began to fall more furiously. Steven's hand cupped Leo's left cheek, and the smaller man leaned into the touch.
"You're alive", he repeated, and then, he pulled Leo into an embrace, and held him tight.
He felt a pair of arms wrapping around him, the other body then began to tremble. And they stood like that for a while, Steven relieved that his boy was alive, and Leo crying in shame over the messy predicament in which Steven had found him.
But the other man didn't care at all; he didn't say anything about the mauled body; about the half eaten heart that fell from Leo's hand; about Leo's burnt feet and the deep scars on his tendons. He could leave that aside for a little bit longer.
Steven was relieved, glad, and happy that his beautiful boy was alive.
This is probably the first and last letter I will ever write to you. To begin with, we never had a special relationship. You didn't think thoroughly what to do with me after Michella died. You didn't hesitate to sell me as one of your many girls. You didn't take in consideration the small things that I ever wanted, or the request of taking care of us from my real mom; I don't know if I will ever forgive you about it.
It's been four years since Scarlett Parade's fall, since New York fell and became "Hellsalem's Lot". It's been four years since I can no longer walk. It's been four years since I have the 'All Seeing God Eyes'. It's been four years since I've slept with other man that isn't Steven. It's been four years since I've ever felt this happy.
And for the latter, I want to thank you.
I bet it wasn't on your plans. I clearly recall your words of 'No one will ever love you, because you are rotten to the core'. But guess what? Steven says he loved me since the moment we met. That he was constantly thinking of me wherever he went. That he had planned many times to kidnap and never return me. That he didn't mind what I was. For he has become much more than he ever was thanks to me.
If it weren't for you, I would never have met him.
Regarding my eating habits, we have it covered. Another Café opened near Trading Road, the owner provides me with food every two months, he also gives me a second portion since I have some cravings each month. I help him most of the time with his small business. He ends up kicking me away after lunch time. Every month, I have two appointments with the doctor in the main hospital of the city. He knows what I am, and he has the decency to keep quiet about it. He told me that when my tendons were cut, my system in its weak state couldn't make it in time to heal it. He tried two times to mend it with RC Cell's transfusion. But it didn't work, my feet are burnt with scars, and I will never walk again.
But I don't mind it, I really don't mind it.
I'm still dressing in Yukatas, because I can't stand 'normal' clothes. I still wear my sister's blue braid, and the other day that I passed through Scarlett Parade and visited home again, I found Luciolo's goggles. Our house Keeper said to me that it's a weird feature for 'an exotic beauty like me'
Steven doesn't mind it, he really doesn't mind anything about me.
Thanks Mother, for bringing Steven to my life.