It was late in the dark night, when the dark figure tightened his grip on the sheathed sword with numb fingers. Leather boots squeaked against the gravel with an almost imperceptible sound as he shifted slightly in place, though, to his trained ears, the insignificant clatter sounded like a fucking rock avalanche roaring around him. Thankfully, the black clothes he was wearing camouflaged him among the background of the gray and black stones, so even, if someone were to hear the tiny sounds of his footfalls, they would only see shadows and inky blackness in the darkness of his hiding spot.
With eyes the color of old silver, the man dressed in black glanced down from his rocky perch and observed the small village from afar. Hidden in a narrow valley that was cradled between two dark and high mountains decorated with caves and ancient pines of thick branches, the village couldn't have contained more than thirty houses. The wood and stone structures were old but well kept, resistant to the harsh winters of that country and the wet and cloudy summers. There were also an old ruined castle apart from the village where a repulsive viceroy lived and a tall church that had seen better times, but in general it looked like a peaceful place.
That was the village -located right in the middle of absolutely nowhere in Romania- he had been sent to inspect as part of his mission. It was a village that barely knew of its existence, but which was now totally dependent on him. And still, it was from that remote town, where the screams that filled the night were escaping, breaking the sky flooded with clouds with a sinister song. They came from his village, the one surrounded in an opaque fog that left nothing to see. The place that he had supposedly been sent to protect.
But the man didn't move. It wasn't yet the time. No, not until he'd seen it with his own eyes. He'd been expressly forbidden to move even if something were to happen to the town or its people, because Trafalgar Law only hunted one type of prey. They had only trained him explicitly for hunting them, the rest of the world and its problems weren't any of his concern. It may seem cruel, but it wasn't his duty to try and change their tragic destiny. No matter what happened, he shouldn't meddle in their affairs or attempt to alter what had already been written.
Unless, of course, it was related to one of them.
Law shifted his weight from one foot to the other tiredly, and leaned his back against the rocky surface of the huge cliff at his back. The young man crossed his arms, the edge of his sheath pressing softly against his thigh, and waited impatiently for the signal that would indicate the beginning of his fun. He didn't give a fuck about the desperate cries that could still be heard echoing in the valley, people had never held much worth to him. In his eyes, the only things that mattered were the thrill of a new hunt and the feeling of adrenaline pumping through his veins as he used his blade to end the lives of those abominations. Or at least that was what they had taught him that mattered. He didn't really know. It had been a long time since he'd lost the capacity to ponder his own views on the matter and decide if he also agreed.
The dense clouds above were still covering the moon, depriving the world of its light and reducing the visibility drastically. Law sighed with irritation and boredom.
And it was just, in that moment, as the air escaped his lungs, that it happened.
In the coldest time of the night. When he had resigned himself to giving up the hunt and return home without his prey and wasted time. When he had even started to think that the story had been a mistake and that he had gotten suckered in by a local legend trussed up by paranoid villagers. He heard the loud roar rise up from the town.
The noise reverberated through the trees and shook the ground at his feet loud and powerful. Like a devil that had been released from hell and finally set free to wreak havoc upon the world. The forest and the small cliff where he was hiding fell into a frightened silence as the echo of the awful roar made the stones near him vibrate.
The man however, instead being terrified by the warning as the rest of the world, only smirked sinisterly with his white teeth glowing brightly in the dark shadows.
His senses, as sharp as ever, immediately recognized the signs and tried to classify his new prey into one of the categories that had been established for its class: the smell of sulfur dense in the air, a reddish glow that had broken through the darkness, a strong wind kicking up around him and the tremor of the roar still rumbling ominously at his feet...
'Oh god.' the man thought excitedly as he realized what he could be hunting.
At last. A decent fight. He would finally get some excitement among those little preys which he had had to face for years and that were so weak that they simply bored him and wasted his valuable time. Indeed, this could be the largest prey he'd ever faced.
Stepping out of the shadows, Law moved from behind the pile of dark rocks where he'd been stealthily watching the whole valley, and raced forward as he covered the distance between his hiding place and the village quickly. Dodging branches and maneuvering elegantly around boulders like a lethal feline. Advancing deadly in the middle of the surrounding silence.
As he approached the village, everything became more clear and bright. The wood houses were lit by a blazing fire that was burning swiftly throughout the little village, quickly devouring everything in its path. Law was sure that, come morning, half of the structures would be reduced to nothing but ash, the wooden houses far too weak against the hot flames and the people to agitated to try suffocate them.
A terrified crowd was running back and forth, trying to save their families and escape the slaughter, while black smoke rose into the sky to mix with the crisp night air. Law, however, took the opposite route, moving through the crowd and instead heading directly to the town center. His path led him between wooden houses and around the bloody and broken corpses laying on every corner, but finally the young man reached his destination and his eyes felt on the monster crating all of this carnage.
Law stood paralyzed for a moment taking all of it. Red was all he could see at first glance. An intense and pure red. Like freshly spilled blood, or the roses that women so dearly loved to receive. Red coating the creature's long and powerful body like the armor covering his knight. Bloody red in a silent reminder of what the owner could do to him if he wasn't careful enough.
Law then dropped his gaze from the beast's ruby body to its sharp claws digging into the ground and cutting long, deep lines into the floor. His foot were huge and were leaving large holes in the ground and shacking the very earth under Law's feet with every step the enormous monster took. It was a mesmerizing sight. Law however keep studding his opponent and quickly turned his sight to the enormous wings the monster had, the span of which could easily overshadow an entire house and raise hurricanes when they were flapping.
This was definitely going to be difficult, the exorcist thought.
The beast however, ignoring the newcomer, roared again to the soldiers surrounding him, leaving everyone deaf and dizzy. Steeling himself, Law unsheathed his sword in his hand and focused on the beast out of legends. The dragon was huge, its head higher than the bell tower of the damn church and his body barely fitting the square of the village. Law had definitely not been expecting something so big. The elegant neck with a column of sharp spikes trailing down its spine, was so wide that even four men working together couldn't wrap their arms around it. And it also has an incredible power. His legs muscles spoke of the enormous power that the creature had, a force it had harnessed to wipe out everything around him, and even the pectorals that hide the light of the blazing fire it breathed, seemed ominous and huge for a creature of his size.
Still, despite the fearsome image of the monster in front of him, Law did not hesitate at all.
This was a creature from another world. It was something that should never have existed in this realm and, therefore, it was his duty as an exorcist to kill and remove it from this plane of existence. He had been trained to kill them, to return them to the hell from which they'd escaped. So, although nobody in this village expected anything from a little shit like him or although nothing in this situation was in his favor, Law threw himself onto the battlefield. Because that's what he should do, what he was trained to do.
Law readied his sword and watched his opponent, quickly scanning the dragon's body for any weakness. The beast's back and flank were completely covered in thick scarlet scales in an impenetrable armor, however, under the legs and belly the heavy plates seemed much weaker. Almost fragile. Weakness discovered, the question was now how to get under the dragon to take advantage of the debility while dodging claws, teeth, and the very flames of hell. Cautiously, Law began to approach his prey with fast and steady steps.
And then, the dragon saw him.
Eyes the color of burnished gold, the metal that its kind so dearly treasured, the monster watched him curiously. Law knew how his lanky appearance would be viewed by the dragon. He was completely unlike the soldiers of the village, men who tried to hurt the monster with those little sticks they laughingly called 'spears' and their ridiculously breakable swords. They got this huge muscles garnered from daily training with a heavy armor, when Law, standing beside them, must look like a skinny and uncoordinated little boy.
But his thin musculature and lean body was not from lack of training. No, it was just that he prioritized other things over brute force, seeing as how the monsters he faced always beat him when it came to physical power. He couldn't kill a werewolf with just force no matter how much he trained. It was impossible. So he'd decided long ago to focus on other skills like agility, speed or flexibility that will be more useful for him in a battle. Up until this point, his impressive reflexes alone had managed to save his life on more than one occasion.
Still, he couldn't help but feel slightly humiliated by the way the ancient creature was looking at him, with its eyes filled with mockery and incredulity. Even the soldiers of the city sent him terrified and worried looks when they saw him approaching the dragon.
Law grit his teeth furiously. Well fuck them. Without a shred of doubt, the exorcist turned to the beast, grabbed his sword in a firm grip, and moved with mesmerizing speed toward his prey with a killing intent. The soldiers shouted at him to stop, to not commit suicide. The creature let out another growl that sounded like an incredulous laugh before lifting one foot the size of a wagon and waving it over Law's head, ready to crush him into a pathetic pile of bones and sinew.
Law snorted. As if that was enough to kill him.
Raising Kikoku, his beloved sword, the exorcist brought it down slicing cleanly through the dragon's foot in one smooth stroke. The scales of the beast were cut like butter under his cursed blade, revealing the thin, smooth skin beneath.
Like he had expected those scales were weaker than the ones on the dragon's back.
Then, without stopping to even take a breath, Law turned and continued sprinting until he was finally situated underneath the dragon's body. Just under his weak spot. As he had planned.
Law smirked satisfied and then paused for a brief second to listened with delight to the dragon shouting in pain as his boiling blood felt from the recently wound to the ground below. The red liquid seeping from the injury and hissing as it made contact with the stone street scorching the solid rock.
"That's for being so naïve" Law muttered. He heard then the satisfied cheers of the soldiers fill the air, their attitudes quickly changing towards the newcomer as someone had finally managed to hurt the beast. Law ignored them.
Raising his sword again, the gray eyed man stabbed the weapon near the clavicle of the beast and, starting to run, he tore open another wound from the shoulder of the monster to its back leg. From one side of the dragon's chest to the opposite hip, Law pierced its entire belly in one huge injury, that would be a miracle to survive.
The beast immediately reared up on its hind legs as another huge roar of pain tore through the air. With his mission accomplished Law retreated, out from under the beast before the initial shock and pain receded, and the monster could attempt to crush him under its massive weight in revenge. But, to his surprise, the dragon only growled and, looking at him with death in its eyes, it opened its jaws.
"Shit." the dark haired man cursed, quikly turning his body to face the dragon head-on. If you can't run away, the best you can do is fight. Because honestly, there was no way he could escape from what was going to happen next.
Law threw his beloved sword to the ground for a moment, kneeled, raised his hands in the air, and closed his eyes in absolute concentration.
Hell suddenly broke loose around fire spilled across the floor beside him as the dragon released an angry breath of flames. The stones under his boots melted thanks to the awful heat, and everything around him sank into a deep red glow.
But it didn't hurt Law in the least.
With his arms raised he resisted hell with a little shield that he'd just begun to create with a quick spell.
However, upon realizing the enormous power that the creature had, Law swallowed anxiously. It had a power so large and dense that he knew he couldn't hold out against it for very long.
Shit, this was the first time that something like this had happened. He had never lost his magic so quickly or so foolishly. Normally, he was the one who surpassed his opponents by far, but against the huge dragon, Law felt his confidence beginning to wane. For the first time in his life, the exorcist experienced the haunting fear that came with the realization that, this time, he might fail and get killed.
Panting, he held the last flames of his enemy at bay with his own power slipping through his fingers, but at last, taking a calming breath, Law managed to control his mind and harden his protection. The tips of his unruly black hair began to smoke, blisters appeared on his hands and his breathing grew heavy as he struggled to aspire, choking from the sulfur and heat surrounding him.
'Please, it has to end soon, it has to…' he pleaded, hands shaking with his efforts.
And then, just as soon as it had begun, the fire stopped.
Panting, Law lowered his arms and dropped to all fours on the melted stone, trying to regain his strength so he could continue the fight. But it was no use, he couldn't move. His body wasn't responding to his commands, his muscles were completely numb after that last burst of power.
Law then waited, in that last moment of weakness when the world spun before his eyes, a blow from the dragon or a second breath of hot flames that would melt him as it had melted the stones in the ground. Even a quick swipe from the beast's needle-sharp claws would end him in his current state, and there was nothing Law could do to defend himself.
This was the first time in his life that he had been at the mercy of an opponent, unable to stand up in any way and fight back. This was the first time in his life that he was so helpless and exposed.
Law hated it. Absolutely hated it. Hated feeling so weak and vulnerable. He hadn't overcome everything he'd faced so far in his life for it to end like this.
Raising his clouded gaze, Law watched the creature that was going to kill him. If he was meant to die here, then at the very least he would go out with some dignity. He would look the dragon in the eye as it killed him. He would see the dragon squirm in pain at the wound he'd inflicted upon it and know that at least he had achieved something with his death.
But, when Law looked up, there was no dragon before him.
Still dizzy from draining his strength, the dark haired looked around for the creature until he felt a warm breath of air caress the back of his neck. Raising his head, the human stared at the huge dragon flying above him like a shadow of the apocalypse. Focusing on the beast then, Law realized that the dragon also looked tired with that gaping wound in its chest still bleeding a red and burning liquid. Clearly the injury prevented the dragon from flying with its normal ease and elegance, the beast's movements now tense and abrupt.
A weakness, the dark haired boy realized again, continuing to analyze the situation although he couldn't even stand up. Law spared a glance at the creature, willing to continue the fight if necessary and reached for his sword gripping the hilt with aching and trembling fingers. Defiant until the bitter end. The dragon roared angrily at him in response, opening its mouth to flash sharp teeth the size of Law's forearms.
"This is not over." Whispered a voice inside the human's head with a serious, dark tone that made the hairs on the back of Law's neck rose in alarm. "Next time you won't be so lucky, mortal."
Law smiled wryly. After finally managing, to stand up, he tilted his head back and turned to face the dragon with the sword in his hands. "You, too." Law responded to the beast in his mind. "Next time you'll die, monster."
The dragon roared in his head so loud that Law thought he might faint from it. Then the creature fly higher into the air and disappeared into the clouds of smoke rising from the burning village.