Monday, 19 July 2010
After a while Azura notices the forest around her seems to have died. She stares at her father's feet on the bank of the river almost as if she expects him to get up and start walking. Vaugely she wonders where her heartbeat has gone, then remembers she's never had one. When she can't stand the silence anymore she gets up, using the tree trunk for support and stands swaying for a moment before going to her father's side. She stares down into his horror-stricken face until she can't bear it anymore and looks away. She spots his sword lying in the mud paces away and goes to pick it up. For the first time she notices something etched into the hilt of the sword. She can't read it because she doesn't know the language. She stares at it for a moment trying to collect her thoughts and remember how many times she's seen this very weapon but never noticed the writing. She can't remember.
Azura takes his sword with one last look at her father's corpse, verifying to her own satisfaction that he's dead and his killer is on the run. With that she turns and heads home to break the news to the others. She walks without any purpose or sense of direction. She loses herself several times throughout the night on her way back home but eventually stumbles through the trees and into the clearing of her family's manor. She stops and stares at it, taking in the emptiness that stares back at her from the windows. She starts forward when a voice over her shoulder stops her.
"I'm surprised you have the guts to return here," says Kylu as he moves out of the shadows and into the moonlight. Azura turns to face him as he moves forward, not expecting the arrogant look upon his face. Then she remembers he doesn't yet know.
"Not going to say anything?" Kylu prompts as his eyes trail down to her hand where she's holding the sword. He stares at it blankly for a moment as the pieces click into place. His eyes move back to Azura's as his face contorts in rage.
"Where's father?" He growls. Azura just stares at him; she can't bring herself to say it.
"Where's father!?" Kylu growls louder closing the distance between them so they're standing face to face. Azura doesn't move, doesn't flinch even when he screams in her face.
"WHERE'S FATHER!?" In his rising anger Kylu slaps Azura but she still doesn't respond. "Where is he!?" He slaps her again, harder. "Where!? Tell me!" He slaps her a third time and this seems to knock sense into her.
"He's dead," Azura mutters through clenched teeth, staring at the ground.
Kylu doesn't respond at first, struck dumb by her statement, so she looks up just as his fist collides with the side of her head. Completely unprepared for it Azura is knocked off her feet and drops her father's sword. She stares up at her brother as he draws his own sword and she knows by the rage in his face he fully intends to kill her and question it later. However, Kylu's yelling alerts the others and Weifron, Fay and Janza come out the front door as Kylu draws his weapon.
"Kylu, no!" Weifron shouts hurrying to the scene of the fight. He shoves Kylu away from Azura and disarms him before he realizes what's happened. "What's the matter with you?" Weifron asks Kylu who's shaking with anger and glaring at Azura. Weifron looks from Kylu to Azura and back again, then notices the sword lying on the ground. He asks the same question as the pieces fall into place.
"Where's father?" He says looking directly at Azura. She doesn't anser him and Kylu kicks her.
Weifron shoves Kylu farther back but he wrestles his way forward again; Weifron's attention is locked on Azura.
"Tell me what?"
Azura stares into Weifron's confused face for a moment before answering. "Father's dead."
Fay and Janza both gasp in shock, still standing over by the door holding onto one another for support. Fay looks at her daughter as if she's never seen her before. Weifron shakes his head in disbelief. "No, how is that possible?"
"It's obvious isn't it?" Kylu spits bitterly, trying to get closer to Azura so he can kick her again. "She killed him!"
Weifron's head whips around to look at Kylu in abject horror at the thought. "No, that can't be." He looks at Azura, "Tell me it isn't true."
"It isn't true."
"Liar!" Kylu screams breaking free from Weifron's hold and kicking Azura several times. It takes Weifron a moment to restrain Kylu once more but he does.
"Calm yourself, Kylu. We have to find out what happened."
"I know what happened! She and that angel of hers killed father! I'll kill her!" Kylu shouts as he fights to break free and launch himself at Azura. Fed up with trying to restrain him Weifron throws Kylu backwards. He lands on his back in the dirt and glares at Weifron.
"Enough! I want to know what happened, so shut up and control yourself!" Weifron turns to Azura. "Tell me everything."
Azura looks from Weifron to Kylu, hesitating. "Father found us...together. He attacked Shugo first and he defended himself."
"Bullshit!" Kylu screams getting to his feet. "He killed him in cold blood I know he did!"
"I never said he didn't!" Azura shouts back, finally getting angry herself. "He killed him and there was nothing I could do to stop it!"
"Bullshit! You could've listened and obeyed father and he wouldn't be dead! You never should've brought him here! He didn't belong here! You should've let Teera kill him!"
Azura jumps to her feet, fuming. "You're so fucking selfish, Kylu. You-"
Weifron cuts her off by slapping her across the face. "Don't talk to him like that. He's right and you know it."
Azura looks at Weifron in shock. His face is cold, impassive; the face of their father. Anger flares inside her once more. "You're both idiots. You have no idea what he's done-"
Kylu cuts her off by tackling her to the ground and sinking his fangs into her shoulder. Azura screams in shock and pain as the venom enters her system. Weifron pulls Kylu off Azura and throws him backward once more. Azura clutches at her shoulder and pulls her hand away covered in blood. Weifron stands over her, watching her bleed with his fangs exposed.
"You've disgraced your family, Azura. You don't deserve to live. However, you don't deserve to die either." Weifron says staring down at her. Instinctively Azura reaches for a sword and grabs the hilt of the one on the ground. Kylu is enraged by this and charges at her again. Weifron holds out an arm to restrain Kylu. "She's not going to fight us. She knows she can't win, don't you Azura?"
Azura looks between the two of them, debating. After a moment of hesitation she lets the sword go and Weifron bends to pick it up. He hands it to Kylu and shoves him towards the trees.
"Go find father's body."
Kylu looks back at Azura. "Where is he?"
"By the river."
"Go," Weifron orders and Kylu disappears into the trees. Weifron crouches next to Azura. "We're going to kill your angel and you're going to be there to watch."
"Just like you murdered Markis." Azura retorts and they both turn and look at Janza. A devious smile turns up the corners of Weifron's lips. "Exactly. Only this time we'll get the joy of murdering an angel, one of the holy bastards."
"I hope he kills you instead."
Weifron grabs Azura by the throat in a choking grip. Her hands flutter to her throat as Weifron squeezes. Her fingers grasp feebly at his fingers, trying to pry them from her windpipe.
"How about I kill you now then hunt down your angel and give him your head as a prize. Do you think he'd like that?" Weifron says with a sinister grin, his fangs turning his face feral.
"Stop!" Janza screams running at Weifron. He jumps up just as she gets close and knocks her to the ground.
"Stay out of this, unless you want to join her!" Weifron shouts then turns back to Azura who's scrambling away from him as fast as she can. "Where do you think you're going?" He says and leaps upon her, sinking his fangs into the same shoulder as Kylu. Azura screams and tries to fight him off but her strength wanes as the blood leaves her body. She gets a leg free and brings her knee up into Weifron's groin. He rolls off her with her blood drenching his chin. Janza moves towards Azura but Fay grabs her by the shoulders.
"Come into the house, Janza."
Janza looks over her shoulder at her mother, confused. "We have to help her, they'll kill her!"
"Come into the house, Janza." Fay reiterates calmly, pulling her daughter backwards. Azura locks eyes with her mother and sees the cold passivity of her husband's murder.
"I didn't kill him." Azura whispers.
Fay's expression hardens as she continues pulling Janza backwards. "Not with your own sword but you killed him when you chose an angel over your family. Your father gave you everything and you repaid him with betrayal. I can't forgive you for that and I won't let you divide the rest of this family." Fay escorts Janza inside and closes the door behind them.
Weifron finally recovers from Azura's attack and turns back towards her, eyes glowing with hate. "I'm going to make you wish you were never born."
Azura rolls over and gets to her feet. She runs towards the trees just as Kylu emerges from them before her. She stops dead in her tracks the second she sees him. He's carrying the body of Triyel over his shoulder. They stare at one another for a minute then Azura makes a run for it.
"Stop her!" Weifron yells getting to his feet. Kylu drops Triyel's body without another thought and chases after Azura. She runs into the trees but doesn't get far before they both catch up to her. She makes it as far as the river, a mile out, before they overtake her. Kylu lands on her back, growling savagely. Her knees buckle underneath the weight and she falls in the mud at the riverbank. She feels hands on her shoulders, hauling her up and kicks out with her feet. Her high-heeled boots connects with Weifron's gut. She hears the air rush out of him before her world gets rocked by another blow to the head. Azura collapses in a heap upon the ground once more and her world goes black.
"Fuckin' bitch," Weifron gasps.
She feels hands undo the belt at her waist as she's disarmed of her sword. She gropes blindly and finds Kylu's leg. She curls up and sinks her fangs into his calf. Kylu screams in rage and kicks her repeatedly with his other foot but she holds on desperately. Weifron regains his wind and grabs a fistful of hair and yanks her fangs from Kylu's leg.
"Enough is enough." He says bringing her to her feet. Her hands reach around back for his hand but she can't break his grip.
"Let's kill her all ready," Kylu says.
"No. She needs to live long enough to see the death of her precious angel," Weifron says as he pulls her close enough he can whisper into her ear. "That doesn't mean we can't have our fun now." He throws her forward and she skids through the mud. She blinks while she's down and realizes her vision is slowly returning. In front of her she can see the river through a heavy fog. She hears it better than she can see it. Kylu and Weifron approach on either side of her. Azura moves quickly. She pushes up to her knees and grabs Kylu around the waist. He's so shocked by this that she's able to drag him into the river with her.
"Get her off me!" He shouts as Weifron jumps into the water to help. Azura drags Kylu under and sinks her fangs into his hip. His scream turns to gurgles as his head is fully submerged. Weifron grabs one of Kylu's arms and pulls him up while reaching under the water with his other hand he grabs Azura by her hair once more. He pulls them apart and sinks his fangs into Azura's neck. He drinks for a moment, draining her of the last of her strength before dragging her back onto the bank. Azura gasps for air as Kylu kicks her in the side.
"Leave her, she's as good as dead." Weifron says soaked.
"I'm not done yet," Kylu responds drawing his sword and before Weifron can say otherwise he stabs Azura in the back. She screams as the silver penetrates her flesh and brings her back to reality long enough to know what agony really is.
"That's enough, " Weifron says putting a hand on Kylu's shoulder. "If we hurry we can find the angel before he gets too far."
Kylu rips his sword from her back. "Don't go anywhere," he says and for good measure he kicks her in the side once more before turning and leaving with Weifron.
Throughout the course of the night Azura zones in and out of consciousness. Each time she comes back to her pain filled reality she's amazed to find she's still alive. The silver eats it's way through her all ready dead veins like a virus eradicating her blood. At one point she wakes up and hears the constant melody of the river and mistakes it for a heartbeat. She smiles thinking that everything's going to be all right as she falls back under. The next time she wakes dawn begins breaking over the horizon. Azura doesn't know this though she can tell by the sounds of the forest that the time of day has changed. There's still enough darkness left to keep her safe, but that won't last for long. She digs her fingers into the mud, relishing the feel of the last thing she'll ever touch on this earth. Inside her mind she replays the night before but she doesn't focus on her father's death or the beating that left her for dead; she remembers Shugo's smile and his electric blue eyes and vaugely wonders if he got away.
She doesn't wonder long before she hears footsteps approaching. She's conscious enough that panic shivers up her spine as the footsteps near. Azura figures it must be Weifron and Kylu coming to finish the job they set out to do earlier, but why they would have waited until morning doesn't make sense. Either way it doesn't matter because she's powerless to stop whatever happens next. She senses the presence of a body standing beside her. A booted toe nudges her in the side. She manages the weakest of grunts as the person beside her crouches down to examine the damage. Her body is rolled over by a pair of gentle hands. Azura can barely make out the tops of the trees and the face leaning over her. She doesn't recognize it through the haze of near-death but it doesn't look anything like Weifron or Kylu.
"Can you hear me?" A male voice asks and Azura smiles as his heartbeat thuds a steady rhythmn in his chest.
"I'll take that as a yes. I'm going to lift you now, this may hurt." The voice says as a pair of arms move behind her head and the back of her knees. Then she's being lifted into the air but there's no more pain than the silver that's moving towards her heart for it's final attack. Suddenly the world is rushing all around her as the sun climbs higher, beginning to peer through the leaves now at the forest floor below. The first rays of sunlight penetrate the forest canopy in odd intervals and Azura feels a flash of fire every time they pass beneath a beam of sunlight but she's slipping out of reality again and doesn't register the added pain. The exposed flesh chars and curls into smoke that drifts away into nothing. Her companion is panting as he rushes to get her out of the sunlight. It isn't much farther before darkness envelops them once more and she's being laid upon the damp earth again. Her companion speaks again but Azura's world is going dark and she doesn't make out what he says. She smiles as the world disappears, hoping this is the last time she'll ever fade away.