There's so much blood...
Where did it come from?
His pistol rests on his oustretched hand, warm and smoking. Heavy like a curse.
Nicolae is staring at him with an expression he never thought he would see from him. Fear? Revulsion? Both.
And he's in no better condition.
It takes him a few moments to gather his wits and put what he's done into words. To name this heinous act.
'I've just killed Gino Gambino.'
He can't dwell on it for long, as the ship's crew arrives at the crime scene, alerted by the gunshot of what has taken place.
The old man, Edmund, is by far the most affected of the four remaining, his eyes opening wide in shock briefly before his hand fastens around the handle of his rapier, lunging at the perpetrators in blind ire.
He cannot move. He's paralyzed, ready to succumb under Edmund's weapon, to pay blood with blood.
But Nicolae is swifter.
He shoves the elf out of the way of the human's first strike, and drags him along towards the nearest window until he finds his legs and can flee on his own.
They crash through the window to the ground below, and disappear into the forest's shadowy embrace, never to be seen again.
He will never be able to purge the scent of blood from his system.
And neither he will be able to forget Edmund's anguished cry as they fled.
The ship ride is silent, the muted rumbling of the engines being the only company for its taciturn crew of two.
As they descend, Cresento is the one to walk ahead. His gait is heavy, and his knees threaten to give in with each step he takes.
Still, he manages to make his way to the Don's office, parting a sea of inky black skins and white suits. None of them say a word, not a whisper can be heard. They all stare at him with the same two questions in their eyes.
Even Franco, the Fish, Don Kuro's most trusted muscle and by far the most vile of the organization's members, seems appalled at what he's done. His golden gaze burns his back as he walks past him.
He cannot blame him.
Finally, he reaches the door to Don Kuro's office. Cordell is there to receive him, but she doesn't say anything. She doesn't move, doesn't shift her eyes, just staring at a blank point on the wall, deeply in shock.
He feels his heart tighten at the sight. 'Oh, Cordell...'
She might not be as close to him, in terms of bloodlines, but he still feels her near his heart. Like a cousin. A sister, even.
After long moments in which he has to fight the urge to cry, the painful tightening of his chest, Cordell opens the door to the Don's office.
He just hopes she'll flee and be spared of whatever Nyx has in mind...
When he enters the Don's office, he expects to be received with the dourness that characterizes the sickly heir.
Instead, he's met with an effusiveness that throws him off completely.
It makes him uncomfortable.
"Cresento. I see you've fulfilled your end of the bargain. At first, I was dubious, especially considering the kind of creature you decided to ally yourself with. But I must admit, you have done a magnificent job."
The Don is pleased. Through and through. He's smiling wider than he's ever seen him do, and his posture further conveys this.
He should be happy as well. He did a good job. The days of his kind living hidden, afraid of the searing caress of the sunlight are finally over.
Why isn't he happy?
"Cordell." He snaps his fingers, calling his sister. "Show Cresento our gratitude."
She nods curtly at the order, and retrieves a black briefcase from the table behind herself, walking towards the taller elf and offering it to him.
She doesn't look at him in the eyes.
Despite himself, Cresento hesitates.
In the briefcase, there's enough money to allow him to live comfortably for a long time. Under different conditions, he would have taken the briefcase without a second thought.
But not now.
The Don notices his hesitation.
"What's the matter, Cresento? Are you afraid? Do you feel pain? Pity, perhaps? For the human?"
The captain doesn't answer. However, his silence fills in the void where words would falter.
"You were always too soft. Is it because of the human muck running through your veins? Do you feel more human than elf? Closer to those who shun us rather than your own kin?"
His words are like needles, and he cannot find his voice. Neither to deny or confirm.
The Don raises his voice again.
"I was expecting this. Cordell." He snaps his fingers again. "Make it double."
Cordell walks towards the table once again, setting the previous briefcase down and taking another one, similar in size. But heavier.
"Consider this a rather generous tip for the troubles Gambino caused you. Maybe with this, you'll be able to afford some therapy sessions to ease your mind. With a human professional, perhaps?"
It was a jab at his elven pride. In other circumstances, he wouldn't have hesitated to defend his honour. To deny time and again any affiliation he could have with the human race.
But not now.
Instead, it takes all of his strength to force even a thread of voice from his lips.
"Thank you, Don Kuro."
He turns around, and doesn't look back. He must leave this place at once.
It takes him a superhuman effort to return to the ship. Nicolae is waiting for him leaning against the hull, his face streaked with a sullenness he'd never seen before.
He opens the briefcase he's been given, and hands Nicolae his fair share of the deal. The human doesn't spare more than a glance to the wad of cash he's offered, grabbing it quickly and shoving it into his jacket's pocket.
This money burns. It's tainted. Even more so than every other payment he's received in his lifetime.
An uncomfortable silence stretches between them, a moment in which they refuse to meet eachother's gaze out of shame and fear. The words linger in the air, unspoken, but they both know what this means.
Once again, Nicolae is swifter.
"I guess this is it, then."
Cresento only nods in response, still averting his gaze.
Nicolae presents his outstretched hand to the elf, who can't help but return the gesture, if only as a way to dissolve their union.
Albeit weakly, they share a handshake, and once again, silence falls upon them.
This time, it's Cresento the one to break it.
"You should go. It's dangerous to stay around."
The human only nods slowly at this, and turns his back to the captain, retreating somewhere far away. Where, he wouldn't tell. And Cresento wouldn't ask.
Once he was positive the human had left, the elf boarded his ship again.
Despite his companion's tendency towards boisterousness, he's come to expect and embrace the silence of the ship. In turn, it embraces him, like it's done countless times before, sheltering him from the world outside, the world below. His world.
The dull sound of his heels against the hardwood as he makes his way towards the bridge is the only noise that can drown the deafening silence. He can't help but feel a wave of unsettling relief wash over him. He's safe.
It will only take the push of a lever to be safe. To take flight and never be seen again. To leave this all behind. To forget.
But he can't forget.
Through the windshield of his ship, he can see a tar-like darkness crawling, engulfing the forest and suffocating the dawn. It's happening.
It's only then that he fully realizes what's happening.
'My god... what have I done...!?'
Months have passed since the rise of Nyx. Those who submitted to his power were subjugated by the kirin. Those who fought back, perished.
Notice arrives to the forgotten city of Dref Dur. Notice of a missing ship, of a runaway Gaian shopkeeper.
Of the sound of a weapon going off through the radio. Of a tragic accident over the ocean that left no survivors.
Rumours are exchanged like currency, and soon, they arrive at a small, shady place where dubious deals are made.
The owner would nod at this, but nothing else.
Some say there's pain in his eyes as he tips his plaid cap to shield them from sight.