Saturday, 22 January 2011
Disclaimer II (Bonus DVD)
Azura lies amid the wreckage of her burned home staring skyward at the stars that have begun to peek through the velvet of night. She’s covered in ash from head to toe, her alabaster skin now chalky jet. Her nakedness doesn’t faze here, she isn’t even aware of it. All she knows is the voices clamoring inside her head, each one vying for her undivided attention.
You better understand the resolve of our enemy, Larkin says.
Kill him, speaks Triyel's voice. Kill him for me. Kill him because I loved you.
You killed him when you chose an angel over your family, replies Fay's voice.
Kill him or we'll kill you, threatens the voice of Kylu.
Kill him and we'll spare you, says Weifron.
Azura sits up, possessed by the voices of her dead family members (only one of which doesn’t speak to her, the voice of her sister, Janza), and mindlessly crawls from the pile of rubble into the surrounding forest, towards the cliff she’s always known since her early days as a child in this forest.
Azura enters the clearing at the edge of the cliff where the full moon illuminates the rocky grass in ghostly light. Her bare feet plow through the grass, unmindful of the pebbles biting into the soles of her feet. She stops at the edge of the cliff and stares down into the violent waves ravishing the shore line. The sound of the water crashing against the rocks silences the steady hum of the voices inside her head. Their absence is soothing and Azura spreads her arms out to her sides and steps forward, her foot leaving the ground and hanging out into mid-air, and smiles as she starts to walk off the edge of the earth and into the awaiting arms of the ocean; the ocean that’s calling her sweetly, promising removal from the horrors of this world and the comfort of familiar darkness for all eternity.
Shugo steps from the line of the trees as Azura approaches the cliff. He’s certain she doesn’t sense his presence though his heart is slamming a beat inside his chest. His pace quickens as her foot steps off into mid-air and the first real clutches of panic grip his sides.
"Azura!" he shouts dropping his staff and pushing his legs into a mad sprint.
A voice shouts her name from behind her and Azura turns towards the voice with one thought in her head; father! She’s so certain she’ll see him standing at the edge of the trees, just like she dreamed, or whatever it is vampires do, that for a sublime moment she does see him, only this time he’s running towards her and she doesn’t understand that. He’s dead, he’s a ghost, there’s no need to run; besides, she’s coming to join him in the afterlife where they will be together again forever, so why is he running?
Then it dawns on her, slowly the figure she presumes is her father melts into the brilliant white hair and electric gaze of Shugo Tenshi, her sworn enemy, and a swell of anger and shock rolls through her likes the waves rolling beneath her, beckoning. As she turns the rocks beneath her feet give way and she feels herself tumbling backward into nothingness. Her arms pinwheel as she tries to steady herself but it’s no use. She’s falling backwards into the open air and it doesn’t matter because she’s going to be reunited with her father once and for all.
Shugo’s face disappears as her body plummets through the open air. Now all she sees rushing past is the cragged surface of the cliff face and the cold air rushing around her stings against her skin, though the bite of the frothing water below promises to sting even worse.
Shugo dives over the edge of the cliff without another thought, wings unfolding from his back like a parachute. With the grace of an eagle he dives after Azura. The wind resists him and he struggles to catch up with Azura as the roar of the waves below laugh at his pathetic attempt at rescue.
She’s falling just out of his grasp and she’s going to hit the water in a moment and the waves will pull her under like a malicious child and he’ll be less use to her fighting the waves than the air. Her arms stretch out towards him and Shugo reaches for her, their fingers just barely touching, as the ocean screams laughter inside his ears.
Then he grabs her by the wrist and in one sweeping motion pulls her into him as his wings carry them out of a dead dive. His great wings flap once, pulling them higher, until their soaring above the cliff face, circling over the tree tops to land lithely upon the moonlit grass. It all happens so fast Azura barely has time to process it.
With her feet firmly on the ground she looks up into Shugo’s worried face and for one brief moment she can’t contain the swell of gratitude and love she feels for him. It was always there, beneath the surface, biding its time until the appropriate occasion to make itself known. She stares into his handsomely carved face; sharp features, electric blue eyes, and all the love and concern in the world and suddenly everything clicks into place.
This isn’t her father and it wasn’t her father in her dream, premonition, whatever it was because her father is dead; murdered at the hands of the man who stands before her. But is murder an apt term?
"Are you all right?" Shugo asks holding Azura by the elbows, staring down into her perplexed face. She looks lost and worse, sick. His glance flows downward to the amulet on her chest which he quickly ignores, for the moment, as he takes in the nudity of the rest of her. He’s perplexed by it and aroused by it all at the same time.
"Azura, why are you naked?"
She looks at him like someone slowly surfacing from unconsciousness, like a person waking from the grips of a terribly vivid dream. "What?"
"You’re naked; why?"
Azura looks down at herself and realizes for the first time that he’s right. She steps back in shock and shame. "I don’t know."
Shugo quickly removes the royal cloak from around his shoulders and hands it to her. "There’s holes in back for wings but otherwise it should fit, for the most part."
"Thanks," Azura mumbles and she dons the cloak quickly. It’s awkward draped around her, much too large, but it covers and that’s what matters.
They look at one another awkwardly for a moment and then Shugo grins. "You never have a normal day, do you?"
Azura grins in response but it’s half-hearted; she’s still shell-shocked. "Not really, no."
Silence descends as they stare at one another as if they were both hallucinations of the other’s mind. So much needs to be said, so much has passed between them even in their time apart, but neither have the words to express those thoughts. Shugo reaches out to brush a lock of hair from Azura’s eyes but she steps back, a wary expression upon her face. The distance is now a tangible thing, not merely metaphorical.
"Azura, I-" but he doesn’t know where to carry that sentence. I’m sorry for murdering your father? I’m sorry for leaving you? I’m sorry for loving you? These simple things seem too much to say.
"Why are you here?" Azura snaps back icily. Her sanguine eyes burn through narrow slits and she can hear his heartbeat pounding inside her head.
"I’m not sure." Shugo replies with a look of torn regret and sympathy.
"You should not have come here."
"I’m sorry," Shugo says and he seems to deflate as he says it. It’s the most he can manage.
Azura shakes her head in blatant defiance. "No."
"I am. I’m sorry for everything I did. I’m sorry for killing your father." Shugo says stepping forward and in response Azura steps back shaking her head vigorously back and forth.
Shugo steps forward again, nodding to her shaking, "Azura-"
"No!" She replies stepping back further. She’s nearing the edge once again and Shugo closes the distance between them quickly. He grabs hold of her by the elbows and she struggles against him but not hard enough to actually equal trying.
"No, no, no, no!" She sobs as Shugo pulls her into his chest, wrapping his arms around her. She buries her face in his shirt as bloody tears roll from her eyes involuntarily. Azura wraps her arms around Shugo’s waist in a tight squeeze but he doesn’t mind. He kisses the top of her head and holds her while she cries.
Kylu and Weifron Raiki emerge from the shadows of the trees with their swords drawn. Weifron wears a smirk upon his face but Kylu is absorbed by utter, unmasked hatred. His demon eyes burn into Shugo’s back who hears their approach a moment too late. Shugo turns around, still holding Azura, to see the faces of her vengeful brothers as they approach on different flanks. Shugo’s eyes immediately light upon his staff on the ground between them, too far to just pick up without starting an unruly fight. He pushes Azura around behind him and stretches his arms out in either direction to shield her from them.
Azura looks at the faces of her brothers in total shock as she smears her bloody tears upon her cheeks. "Weifron? Kylu?"
"Didn’t think we’d find you, did you?" Weifron asks.
"I thought you were dead," Azura replies with bare honesty, her voice a hollow drum.
Weifron hesitates but Kylu continues to advance. His eyes are locked on his target and his mind is solely focused upon the blood rushing through the angel’s veins.
"You sound regretful," Weifron observes cautiously, recommencing his advance forward, a step behind Kylu.
"I am. I didn’t want you dead."
"No, you just wanted father dead." Kylu spits between his teeth as if the words are literally something awful upon his tongue.
"Liar!" Kylu hisses as he and Weifron close in.
Shugo glances from Kylu to Weifron, preparing for the fight he knows is inevitable. He’ll have to disarm Kylu first but he knows the moment Kylu attacks, Weifron will follow immediately after. He spares a single moment on regret for having dropped his staff. This is the second time you’ve allowed yourself to get cornered, Shugo thinks mentally kicking himself.
"Kylu, you have to believe me!"
"You’re a traitor! He killed father and you’re still with him!" Kylu yells, drowning her out as he lunges, jabbing his sword forward, aimed for Shugo’s abdomen. Shugo watches the move carefully and brings up his right hand beneath the blade in a reverse karate chop motion. The blade digs into his flesh as the momentum of his arm drives the sword upward and out of Kylu’s startled hand.
Weifron jumps in immediately, just as Shugo knew he would, with a jab aimed at his kidneys. Shugo turns swiftly on his feet; his right arm’s momentum carrying him around, and brings the same karate chop down upon Weifron’s attack, knocking his sword from his hands as well. Disarmed, they both stare stupidly at Shugo who continues to move in one constant forward motion. He balls up his left fist and brings it up around the side of Weifron’s head where his knuckles connect with Weifron’s temple. The blow sends Weifron staggering backwards.
Shugo turns back towards Kylu who’s slowly gathering his bearings as he watches Weifron stumble around. Shugo curls his bleeding right hand into a fist and swings for the side of Kylu’s head. At the last second Kylu pulls back and instead of taking the punch in his cheek, Shugo clips him in the jaw. The blow rocks Kylu back on his heels and sends him to the ground like a bag of bricks. Shugo doesn’t wait for Kylu to hit the ground before he’s rushing for his staff.
His fingers close around the familiar thrumming instrument and a rush of gratitude washes over him. Now perhaps you can remedy this situation, he thinks to himself as he straightens and turns around to face Azura whose standing in the same place with her jaw hung slack in astonishment. Weifron’s steady on his feet, massaging the side of his head where Shugo hit him, in a what-the-fuck-just-happened gesture. He pulls his hand back and looks at his palm, almost as if he's expecting to see blood. He looks from his hand to Shugo and then to the dazed form of his younger brother slowly stirring in the grass.
Weifron knows he stands no chance against the angel; he's too strong and the staff in his hand is shrouded in a misty-white aura. He towers above both of them, emanating power, but he killed their father- and a murderer must be punished. Weifron bends for his sword upon the ground and Shugo reacts before his fingers even get close to the hilt.
Shugo plants the end of his staff in the ground and a ripple instantly moves toward Weifron from the point where the staff meets the ground. The ground rumbles and cracks like an earthquake as the wave roars toward Weifron, sending chunks of dirt and grass into the air. It knocks Weifron off his feet and away from his sword. At the same time Kylu returns to his senses, plucks his sword from the grass with ease, and charges at Shugo's back.
Shugo doesn't hear Kylu's approach over the cracking of the ground but Azura knows what's going to happen before it does. She tries to scream a warning to Shugo but he can't hear. As Kylu charges Shugo she begins to move, knowing it's hopeless, knowing he'll be hurt before she even gets there, but damnit, she's got to try.
Kylu's sword enters Shugo's lower back and exits through his abdomen. In the shock of the attack Shugo merely grunts in pain as the sword runs straight through him. Now I know what Triyel felt like, skewered. Instantly he feels warmth draining from his body. The pressure from the sword's owner disappears as quickly as it came.
Regretfully, she's a second too late but Azura hits Kylu with the force of her entire body, knocking him off his feet once more. With her arms wrapped around him in mockery of a loving embrace they fall to the ground, fangs extended, both snarling like wolves. Azura sinks her fangs into Kylu's throat as they fall. As Kylu's body is crushed momentarily beneath her own her fangs rip a jagged slash through his neck; blood paints her face like Van Gogh dot art. Kylu's snarls become careening wails of agony as poison settles inside his veins.
Azura rolls away from her brother in horror of what she's done. Her ensuing paralysis will only save her the regret of salivating over angel blood. Shugo staggers several paces forward, staring down at the sword sticking out in front of him and the blood drenching his robes from the waist down; the rich white of the royal robes has become saturated in sanguine. Shugo's knees buckle from beneath him, one and then the other he falls into the grass, wondering how he could have misjudged the situation so badly. His staff lies beside him in the grass like a forgotten relic.
Weifron gets to his feet as Shugo staggers then collapses upon his knees. He forgets his sword as the scent of divine blood fills his head. The thirst for blood consumes his every sense as he charges directly at Shugo. As Weifron goes after Shugo, Telio and Razul emerge from the line of trees just in time to watch a bloody fight become hell.
Shugo looks up from his mortal wound in time to stop Weifron's attack. He senses the presence of the staff beside him, almost as if a voice has whisperes inside his ear: pick me up. He moves fluidly and plucks the staff from the grass and waits, but he doesn't have to wait long.
Razul reacts to the blood at the same time as Weifron; both of them heading for the dying angel. Telio has a split second to stop the carnage before him. He cuts off Razul's path toward Shugo and picks her up in a bear hug. She thrashes against him, trying to claw her way over his shoulder but he refuses to let go.
Shugo grips the staff in his left hand with one clear goal in mind- stop Weifron, especially if it's the last thing he does. A small blade, much like a calligraphy pen, emerges from the tip of the staff; all of which is made entirely of silver. As Weifron nears Shugo braces for impact and Weifron is impaled upon the staff. His progress is halted immediately and he glances down at the silver stake jabbed into his lower abdomen.
Now we're even, Shugo thinks as his strength gives out. His grip slackens from the staff as he tips over sideways into the grass, gasping for his last breaths. Weifron's eyes slowly move from the silver staff to the horrified look upon Azura's face; the last thing he will see in his life. What've we done this for? he asks himself as he collapses to his knees.
Azura, finally jarred from her horrified paralysis, rushes toward Weifron thinking there must be some way to reverse everything. As Weifron falls sideways, opposite of Shugo, Azura skids across the pebbled ground upon her knees to his side. Instinctively she grabs the staff, intending to remove it from Weifron's body, but yanks her hand back just as suddenly because it burns her. Helplessly she begins to scream incoherently. The blood in Weifron's veins burns into obscurity from the liquid silver concentrate imbued inside the staff. He dies staring up into the velvet sky as the silver moon looks down, passing judgement.
Telio throws Razul back into the trees; his instincts tell him he's got to help Shugo soon or he'll be beyond saving.
"AZURA!" he screams as Razul regains her feet and charges again. Telio barely grabs her around the waist.
Azura doesn't hear Telio scream her name; she's solely focused upon Weifron's lifeless visage. The look of sublime horror etched into his face forcibly reminds her of her father. She weeps but her tears of blood make no difference considering how much she's all ready covered in.
With one arm wrapped around Razul's waist, Telio reaches for his satchel at his hip, but she's much too strong and breaks free. Telio jams his hand inside his satchel and pulls out a syringe as he chases after Razul, hoping he can stop her before she exacerbates the situation.
It's a narrow miss, but there isn't time to consider it until later. Razul lands upon her knees beside Shugo, who barely takes notice of her through the haze of darkening pain. As she goes to bite his throat Telio grabs her by the jaw from behind and yanks her chin upward while ramming the uncapped syringe into her jugular. He depresses the stopper and Razul's thrashing ceases almost instantly. She falls over, eyes glassy and distant, but still alive.
Telio falls on his knees beside Shugo, dropping his satchel uncerimoniously in the grass. He grips Shugo's shoulder with one hand and the hilt of the sword with the other. His window of opportunity is dwindling fast and he knows it- it's something he can sense like second nature.
"This is going to hurt," he says as he yanks the sword backwards. Shugo reanimates momentarily to scream in pain as he feels the sword sliding back out of his body and the blood gushes faster in response.Telio places one hand over the exit wound in Shugo's abdomen and the other over the entry wound in his lower back. Closing his eyes he concentrats, tapping into the magical energy within himself that only partially relates him to the individual he's trying to save.
Despite the venom burning in his veins, Kylu drags his body over the ground toward the angel and the one kneeling beside him. Kylu assumes they must both be angels, at least to some degree. Either way he plans to stop them no matter the cost.
Focused on healing Shugo's wounds, Telio doesn't notice Kylu's slow dragging approach. He only registers something amiss when Kylu's fingers pull at the back of his shirt. He's only partially completed his task as he looks over his shoulder to see Kylu's salivating face leering behind him. He doesn't think, only reacts, and smashes Kylu's jaw together with the curve of his elbow. For one second Kylu thinks he may finish the job as his finger's grasp Telio's shirt to help pull himself up and just as quickly as he thinks that his world turns black.
Telio turns back to Shugo, who's passed out, and finishes closing his wounds. When that's done he reaches into his satchel and retrieves a small vial filled with an emerald liquid. Telio pries the stopper from the top with his teeth, spits it out into the grass and rolls Shugo over on his back. Telio opens Shugo's mouth and pours the contents of the vial down his throat.
After he's done everything he can for Shugo he turns toward Azura. He approaches apprehensively- she's the only one who can fix Kylu, if she still wants to; though why she would Telio can't comprehend.
"Azura?" he says timidly, placing a hand upon her shoulder.
The face she turns toward him is contorted in agony and grief. It breaks his heart. "I'm sorry, but you're the only one who can remove the venom from your brother's veins."
Azura looks at him perplexed. Telio gestures over at Kylu's unconscious body.
"Is he dead?" Azura asks.
"No, unconscious. You bit him and I had to knock him out. The poison needs to be removed from his veins, can you do it?"
Azura looks back at Weifron. "Can you help him?"
Telio lightly squeezes her shoulder. "No."
Azura bows her head in silence. A moment later she leans over Weifron's body, placing both palms on either side of his face, and plants a tender kiss upon his forehead.
"I'm sorry," she whispers as she closes his eyes and gets to her feet. She turns to find three unconscious bodies upon the ground - Shugo, Kylu and Razul.
"What did you do?"
Telio intwines his fingers with her own. "I had to knock Razul and your brother out, they were trying to kill Shugo."
"What about him?" Azura says looking at Telio, indicating Shugo's unconscious body.
"He passed out from blood loss. I've done everything I could for him. I think he'll be all right."
Azura sighs and walks toward Kylu, disentangling herself from Telio. She kneels beside the body of her brother and considers him for a moment.
"You don't have to help him," Telio says.
"Yes I do. I can't leave him like this. Something else will come along and finish him."
"He'll only try to kill you again."
"That doesn't matter. I still deserve it."
"No you-" Telio starts to argue but Azura holds up a hand to stop his useless protest.
"Stop it." She says as she leans over Kylu's body and places her mouth over the jagged slash her fangs cut into his throat. She sucks the poison from his veins and spits it out into the grass.
"I'm going to bury him beside my father and grandfather," she says looking over her shoulder at Weifron's body.
"I'll help you," Telio offers.
"No," she replies curtly, and amends it when she sees the hurt expression on his face, "this is something I have to do myself."
Telio nods. "I'll stay here with them, I guess." He says gesturing to the unconscious bodies of Shugo, Razul, and Kylu.
Azura gets to her feet and approaches Weifron's body. She considers the staff sticking out of his abdomen for a moment. Telio starts to say something but stops as she grabs the staff, not caring about the pain and the smell of burning flesh, and rips it from Weifron's body. She tosses it behind her, unmindful of where it lands. Tenderly she picks up his torso; he's much too large for her to carry by herself.
"Let me at least help you carry him there." Telio says picking up his feet. Azura concedes without words and together they carry him through the forest, to the Raiki graveyard. They set him down upon the earth beside the place where Azura will dig his grave. There's two other graves to the right, each with a sword as the grave-marker. Azura picks up a rusty shovel from the weeds and begins the laborious task ahead of her. Telio watches her in silence, trying to come up with a way to help, but he results in nothing and head's back to the clearing at the cliff's edge.
Five hours later the job is done. Azura stands inside a six-by-six foot hole as sunset slowly starts to make it's appearance over the horizon. She tosses the shovel out of the grave and it lands among the weeds once more, to remain unused for, hopefully, quite some time. She pulls herself out of the hole and sits upon the edge for a moment, staring down in it.
The cloak Shugo lent her is covered in blood and dirt. Not so royal now, she thinks with a half-hearted laugh. Her mind returns to the moment when she looked up into Shugo's face and realized her love for him greatly overpowers any hatred she has for his murdering her family. I can't kill him and I can't be with him; what the hell am I supposed to do? There's no answer in her mind's eye and so she casts the question aside. For now she still has to bury Weifron.
Azura rolls Weifron's body over the edge of the hole. His body lands sideways with one arm cocked behind his back in what would be a painful position. Azura jumps back down inside the grave with him; she lands on his legs and mumbles "I'm sorry" before she realizes he's dead and can't hear her. This causes a fresh wave of tears she has to overcome before proceeding further. When she's mastered control of herself she bends down and readjusts his body. This is more difficult than digging the grave because everytime she moves one part of his body the rest settles into another cock-eyed position.
When she's finally content with the arrangement she pulls back to look over her work. Weifron now lies in the bottom of his grave upon his back with his hands placed over the wound in his gut. If it weren't for the blood on his tight black T-shirt he could be sleeping.
"I loved you and I love him; why couldn't you understand that?" She asks Weifron's corpse. Azura bends over to brush specks of dirt from his face (only after she's filled in the hole over him will she wonder why she bothered in the first place) and kisses his forehead one last time.
She climbs out of the hole and scans the ground for the shovel. She finds it father away than she expected and picks it up. Standing outside the grave, looking down, her eldest brother who once seemed so large and lively only looks insignifant and dead. I'll never hear you laugh at a dirty joke again or see you smile when I give you a hard time about being all brawn and no brain. You're dead and it's all my fault.
"I'm so sorry; please forgive me." Azura whispers unconsciously as she begins to shovel the dirt in over the corpse of her beloved eldest brother. At least none of the others can see me now.
Back in the clearing Telio sits between Razul and Shugo. Shugo's heartbeat has resumed an almost regular rhythmn and Telio knows he'll be fine, he just needs time to get back on his feet. Razul, who woke up an hour after Telio injected her with a sedative, sits beside him.
"How much longer do you think she'll be? It's almost sun up."
Telio shakes his head. "I don't know. We'll have to get him out of here, take him to camp, he needs time to heal properly."
"What about him?" Razul asks, indicating Kylu's still unconscious body.
"I gave him enough sedative it should keep him under for quite a while. I don't want him waking up any time too soon. We don't need to fight him off again."
"I don't know why Azura wants to spare him; he's tried to kill her on numerous occasions. If he were my brother I'd have no problem driving a stake through his heart." Razul replies.
Telio shrugs in response. "Help me carry him to camp?" He asks, lifting Shugo's torso. Razul grabs his ankles and together they carry the body of Shugo Tenshi into the forest. Even between the both of them the move is tough. Shugo is heavy and the proximity of the trees doesn't make it any easier. Eventually they get to camp where their tent has all ready been constructed.
Razul helps Telio carry Shugo's body inside where they lay him upon a blanket of sheep's skin. They both sit down panting lightly from the work.
"Should we go after her?" Razul asks.
Telio shakes his head. "She needs time and the amulet protects her from the sun."
"I thought you hated that thing?"
"I do, but in this instance I don't really care."
"Hypocrite" Razul says with a playful grin.
Telio chuckles half-heartedly before becoming somber once again. "I don't know how we're going to deal with this."
Razul moves over beside him and lays her head upon his shoulder. "We've managed before, we'll manage now."
Telio glances over at Shugo's unconscious body. "Even with him?"
Razul grins playfully. "Foursomes are fun."
Telio scowls. Razul laughs lightly.
"Is that jealousy I see?"
Telio grunts in response and Razul grabs his face by the chin, turning him towards her, and kisses him on the lips. She pulls back after a sensual moment.
"Nothing's going to change between us. Nothing."
"And what about Azura?"
Razul gives Telio a dark look. "Careful, your highness, or you'll get nothing."
"That's not what I mean."
"Bullshit." Razul breathes bitterly.
Telio pulls Razul into a kiss this time. He parts her lips with his tongue and pushes her backward. It doesn't take long before they're both undressed while the unconscious Shugo sleeps soundly not two feet away.
The first rays of golden orange sunlight climb over the horizon as Azura finishes burying her brother and Telio and Razul climax simultaneously. Azura picks up Weifron's sword, examines the Raiki symbol etched into the hilt, then plants the blade in the dirt at the head of Weifron's grave. She walks around and stands before all three graves as the sun peeps through the trees. She bows her head in silence for a moment then throws her head back and lets loose a banshee scream as she crumbles to her knees. Telio and Razul can hear her all the way at their camp and they stop in the process of getting dressed to look at one another.
"I'll go get her," Telio says and slips his shirt over his head and exits the tent before Razul can possibly protest.