Tuesday, 10 August 2010
Brand New Eyes
They lie tangled together in the dazzling sunlight listening to the roar of the ocean over the cliff's edge. Azura lies on her back with her right arm cocked behind her head; Telio lies along the length of her body on his side, head propped up by his elbow. His finger traces the lines inside the amulet around and around and around. He looks down at her, squinting from the brightness of the sun bouncing back from her flesh.
"You really think it means something?" He asks dubiously, his finger no longer tracing the lines, at least for the moment.
Azura nods and smiles. "It's too perfect to be solely coincidental. Don't you think?"
Telio half-shrugs with his left shoulder, glancing at her nipples. "I think I've seen a lot of things in my days."
"And none of them lead you to believe in any sort of destiny?"
His eyes move back to her face, all pretenses vanished. "I believe in free will and choice. I believe in making your own destiny."
"I'm making my own destiny. I'm chosing to embrace the possiblity that this was meant to be." Azura replies placing her hand over his, the one resting on the amulet.
"You're sure it wasn't just a dream?" Telio asks, looking away again.
Azura shakes her head, trying to catch his eye. "Vampires don't dream because we don't actually sleep. I haven't dreamt since I was turned. It was a memory, a human memory, and before that I had a, sort of, premonition." She adds hesitantly. This brings Telio's attention back to her.
"A premonition? Like, you saw the future?"
"I think so." Azura supplies timidly, glancing up at him from underneath her eyelids.
"What did you see?" Telio asks, raptly attentive now.
"I was standing here at this cliff in the middle of the night. I heard a voice calling me. At first I thought it was coming from the trees but then I realized it came from over the edge. I went over there and looked down only to realize it was the waves calling my name. Then the voice called again and it came from behind me. So I turned and the ground gave way beneath me. I fell but as I fell I saw someone emerge from the trees."
Telio glances over his shoulder at the edge of the trees then back at Azura. "Who? Who emerged from the trees?"
Azura looks down at the amulet, fingering it lightly. "My father." She answers barely above a whisper.
Telio balks, his eyes bugging in their sockets. "No."
"I know it was him. I saw him." Azura responds more firmly, sounding as if she's trying to reassure herself instead.
"Azura, he's dead." Telio says painfully, not wanting to re-open sore wounds.
"I know he's supposed to be dead...but what if he isnt?"
Telio laughs a single wild bark. Azura gives him a dark look and his expression softens. "Do you realize how insane that sounds? You saw it happen. He was dead. I'm sorry, Azura, there just isn't any other way around it."
"Then explain why I found this amulet?" Azura retorts angrily, eyes flasing dangerously. "Explain why he never showed it to his sons, the one's he favored? Explain to me why I was the only one who ever saw him wear it. Explain to me why I was the one who found it?"
"How do you know they never saw it?"
"They weren't here in my memory!"
"He might've shown each of you separately!"
"No! It didn't happen that way. I know what happened. I saw it, I relived it!"
Telio laughs wildy once more, rolling over on his back and sitting up, grabbing fistfuls of his hair. "This is insane. None of it is possible."
Azura sits up as well, glarind at Telio's back. "Just because you can't scientifically prove everything doesn't mean it isn't real. Some things just are."
Telio looks over his shoulder at her, fury burning through his usual carefully constructed mask. "No." The blatant refusal of his tone stuns Azura into silence. There's no arguing her point; she might as well talk to a wall. Telio gets to his feet and begins walking away, fist curled into balls. He stops and turns back when he's halfway to the line of trees.
"I love you, Azura, but you're being irrational." He says with as much composure as he can muster before turning back and stalking into the trees, leaving Azura sitting in the middle of the clearing, her jaw hanging open in shock.
Telio climbs furiously into the tent and almost cracks heads with a fully conscious Razul. They stare at each other for an awkward moment as Razul takes in the waves of anger rolling off him like heat from pavement.
"What happened?" She asks as Telio sits down and begins pulling his pants on.
"Azura." Telio grumbles.
Razul looks around the tent as the oddity clicks into place. "Where is she?"
"In the sun?"
Telio's furious one word answers leave Razul speechless momentarily. "All right Mr. One Word Answers, why is she out in the sun?"
"Because her amulet contains an ancient magic I thought was a myth."
Razul digests that for another moment before prodding forward for more information. "So when she wears the amulet she can stand in the sun?"
"I'd like to see that." Razul replies pensively, ticking her head sideways in a humanly thoughtful gesture.
Telio glares at her but she doesn't notice. "She's barking mad."
"Sun's gone to her head, hasn't it?" Razul teases, grinning devilishly.
"It isn't funny. She believes she was destined to find that amulet. She says her father had it before her. Claims she recovered a human memory in which she saw him wearing it." Telio recites shaking his head in disbelief.
"And what's wrong with that? Maybe it's true."
"That's the problem with it. I think it is true." Telio responds darkly.
"What could be wrong with that?" Razul asks curiously.
Telio frowns, his face taking on age he hasn't yet achieved. "Are you really that dense? She believes she was destined to find this amulet, The Amulet. It's like giving a gun to a child and saying don't pull the trigger."
Telio sighs. "No one reads do they?"
"Not like you. Tell me what you know."
Telio runs an anxious hand through his hair as he fumbles for the right words. "I think the amulet she's wearing is the Amulet of Death."
"The Amulet of Death! The one the Devil made to carry on his part of the bargain! Jesus, I have to spell it out don't I?"
Razul glares at him, fangs elongating to perfect points. "Don't be cross with me."
"I'm sorry, I just can't believe any of this is happening." Telio pauses a moment, gathering himself. Razul's fangs retract and he continues his story. "According to the book of Life and Death, God and the Devil made a deal. The book itself is supposed to be the contract that they both signed. It outlines the laws that govern half-breeds like you and I. God gave the world to the humans, the way it was supposed to be, but Satan didn't like that idea so he unleashed the half-breeds and took by force what he was never supposed to have. God was angered by this and so he devised a plan. He would create a contract with the Devil. Each was to create an amulet that would contain unimaginable power to whoever wore it and would do the bidding of the one who created it. However God had a different plan for them. When the amulets were brought together they would send all the half-breeds back to hell where they belonged, and the the humans would inherit the earth the way God always intended it to be."
Razul stares at Telio in shock, her jaw dropped. "And you believe this amulet Azura found could be the Amulet of Death?"
"Have you told her this?"
"Absolutely not! She's all ready convinced it was destiny she found it. Do you have any idea what she'd do if she knew what I suspected?"
"So why do you think this amulet is the one? What makes it any different than any other amulet?"
"The markings in it's surface. I've only ever seen them associated with the book of Life and Death. Nowhere else have I ever seen those markings."
"That story can't be true, can it? I don't want to go to hell."
Telio's fists find his hair again as he shakes his head. "I don't know, Razul, I just don't know. I know there have always been a lot of people who believed in it. Revolutionaries who thought that the amulet's power could make them immortal."
"You've got to admit, it's a nice power for a vampire, being able to stand in the sun."
"Yeah, but what happens if she takes it off?" Telio asks looking up at Razul. His eyes tell her everything she needs to know; the consequences could be limitless and dangerous. Would the absense of power kill her? Driver her mad? Drain her until she was nothing but a hollow shell?
"I wish she'd never put it on." Telio says rocking back and forth, the agony and strain in his voice undeniable. Razul places a gentle hand on his shoulder and pulls one of his hands from his hair and places it upon her breast instead.
"She'll be okay. If her father wore it before her and took it off she'll be fine."
Telio looks at her, the pain clearly not eased. "You don't know that. For all we know he only wore it occasionally and for short intervals. She said he liked to watch the sunrise. She hasn't taken it off in twenty-four hours. Whatever power that thing's got it's powerful. I can feel it whenever I'm around her. It's like it's got a heartbeat of it's own."
Razul kisses his lips tenderly, pulling the other hand around her waist and snuggling against his chest. "She'll be fine." Razul croons pulling back. "You couldn't get it off her even if you tried. Not if she believes it's fate."
"That's the part I hate and I'm afraid if I tried to take it by force something would happen to her."
"Leave it. What will be will be. If it's destiny she'll be fine."
"If it's destiny we're all doomed."
Azura stands outside the tent with one hand wrapped around the amulet, listening to every word they thought she couldn't hear. She turns when the talking ceases and the unmistakable sounds of sex begin and wanders away into the trees. Azura only walks so far before a gnawing sensation creeps up the base of her skull. Instinctively her hand reachs back around her head to scratch as the sensation intensifies into pain. Black wings flutter at the edges of her vision as the claws crawl up her spine and into her brain stem, settling like leeches. She stumbles and falls forward, arms flailing out before her as if she can stop the inevitable fall. She crashes to the ground with a thud, cracking her jaw upon the earth as darkness overwhelmes her brain. The last thing she feels is the presence of the amulet pressing into her chest and a warmth spreading around her hollow heart. She doesn't know it but the gash marks upon the amulet have begun to bleed.
Azura stands over the body of her dead father. She steps back in horror and revulsion as his eyes stare vacantly toward the tops of the trees. This can't be happening, Azura tells herself, staring at Triyel's lifeless corpse for the second time. Before she has time to think anything further a figure emerges from the shadows of the trees across the river. She recognizes him even though she's never actually met him. His waist length brown hair hangs over his shoulders, covering most of his bare chest, and ends just above his belt.
"Larkin?" She questions unbelievingly, taking another step backwards, away from her father's corpse.
"Your grandfather, yes." He nods stepping closer to the edge of the water.
"This isn't possible. You're dead. Have been for years. This isn't possible."
"It's possible, however unprobable, it's still possible."
Azura shakes her head like a defiant child. "I'm dreaming."
Larkin shakes his head very lightly. "Vampires don't dream, you know this."
"Then I've lost my goddamn mind."
Larkin grins at that. "The mind of which you speak doesn't actually exist for you."
"Whatever this is it isn't real!" Azura retorts angrily, her voice rising to an unsteady pitch.
"Reality is what you make it." Larkin responds nonchalantly raising an arm and beckoning her over. "Come, we haven't got time for metaphysical discussion. I have something to show you."
Azura barely begins shaking her head again before he's crossed the river in a single leap and taken hold of her upper arm. His touch sends a jolt of white-hot electricity through her arm, at the same time a heavy fog descends abruptly upon her vision and the claws begin digging at the base of her skull once more. For a space of seconds she knows nothing but the fog surrounding her head and the electricity in her veins. Then the pain halts abruptly but the fog dissipates slowly, fading into nothing. When Azura's vision clears she finds herself standing in another stretch of forest with Larkin standing beside her. He leans into her ears and whispers softly as he gently takes her hand in his own.
"Be quiet and watch." He says pointing through the trees at something she can't make out just yet. As she follows the line of his finger she notices what he's pointing to. There's a young boy crouching behind the shrubbery ahead of them, he can't be much older than ten. She can hear his heartbeat pounding fast in her head; he's scared. His raven hair hangs over his naked back similiar to Larkin's fashion. She looks through the shrubbery, it seems to melt before her gaze, exposing the man standing beyond it. It's her grandfather still dressed the same, only this time he's crouched and baring his fangs at something that hasn't yet made it's presence known. Through the trees emerge two angels, she recognizes them instantly by their brilliant white hair and flowing robes. The first one to emerge stands taller than his younger counterpart, with lines of age beginning to form around his eyes and mouth. He's bulky and strong unlike the scrawny adolescent accompanying him. Azura finally looks at the younger of the two and she speaks before she even realizes what she's going to say.
"Shugo." Her mouth whispers and from her peripheral vision she notices Larkin nod. His electric blue eyes breifly turn in her direction and for a wild moment she thinks he's going to see her but his attention turns back to the Larkin in the clearing as if he senses nothing amiss. The older of the two angels steps forward, hand resting on the hilt of his sword.
"Come quietly, Larkin." He says in what's supposed to be a soothing tone but only comes across condescending.
"I'll never come quietly, Daraku." Larkin hisses. The raven haired boy behind the bushes trembles; he wants to move but he can't. Larkin launches himself forward, fangs bared, but Daraku draws too quickly. Larkin screams as the silver-imbued sword slices straight through his chest and the raven haired boy turns around to face Azura and she recognizes him as well. He's so young but she knows his face, it's the face of her father. She feels her grandfather's fingers wrap around her upper arm and the jolt of electricity again. The world whitens and the base of her skull crawls until the forest around her disappears completely and the last thing she remembers is the face of her ten year old father; the scared, tear-stained face of a child forced to see more than he ever should have.
Azura returns to consciousness lying face down in the dirt. She rolls over on her side and stares at the tree trunks as her mind tries to put together all the puzzle pieces of sanity. Her hand reaches for the amulet once more and connects with something sticky. She pulls back and looks down to see her palm coated in blood. She looks down at the tawny stone now covered in blood but it isn't hers, she's sure of that and only that. Azura sucks the blood from the tips of her fingers, closing her eyes as she does so. The bitter, rustic taste fills her mouth and invades her senses. She can hear the faint sound of a heartbeat pounding in her head, the heartbeat of thousands that came before her. It's as if she's drinking the blood of everyone who wore the amulet before her.