WARNING: blood, violence and little bit strong language, viewer discretion is advised!!!
One hour before sun set, Sara Chatain hurried out of her bathroom and rummaged through her wardrobe. 'Oh does my age finally catch up with me?' She had an appointment tonight and she nearly forgot it. 'I really should start writing things down.' She thought. Oh she still can spare the brain power to worry about something else over the age old question, WHAT TO WAER TONIGHT!!! That purple gown with black ascend and silver embroidery? No, too formal. That black T-shirt and purple skirt? No, too causal. How about that purple dress and black suit coat with silver bordure? Ah that's it, smart causal for a dinner party.
A flutter of wings gave her a slight fright, "Oh hello my avian friend, we meet again!" It was that large black bird. Since Sara moved to her new apartment, that creature had become a frequenter to her window lattice. 'My avian friend' she nick named him, why him? She didn't know, just felt like. Sara enjoyed his company, many things, secrets she could confine to a bird but not to men. The bird stretched his neck, he was songless, a screech like bat's was all he could manage. He called forth a shadow lying on Sara's mind. Had she made the right decision? As Sara was lost in her thoughts, the door bell rang.
"Madame Chatain, you are most radiant tonight!" She hurried to open the door, it was her inviter.
"Thank...thank you Monsieur Sangverus." Sara blushed.
Cyrus gestured invitation, half bowed as a gentleman he is, one arm held against his back the other extended away from her, "After you, my lady."
Sara took one last glance at her window, the bird was here, wings beating the air, somewhat in an anxious manner. The door closed.
Sara sat in the co-driver's seat, watching the landscapes fleeted across the corner of her eye. They had driven a fair distant from the city, almost half an hour. Uncertainty grew in her heart. Not that he never clarified their destination, no. Monsieur Sangverus had overwhelmed her with information, Chateau de Corbeau Blanc (white raven), forty minutes' drive south of Paris. He had provided every details attainable, address, driving route, even Google map satellite. He wanted to reassure her, she thought, but it had been proven futile. Finally, they drove on to a driveway. Sara raised her eyes of curiosity, her little avian friend was perching on the door arch. That was odd. 'May be it's not a good idea after all.'
"Madame Chatain, here we are."
"Thank you, Monsieur Sangverus."
They were in front of the rusticated stone facade of the Chateau. Its large rough bricks, high walls, towering panicles and exquisite sculptures all gave out an air of unyielding authority. Cyrus opened the door for her,
"After you, Madame Chatain." Oh well, too late for any excuses, no turning back.
The hall was tall and grand, Sara’s high heels echoed crisply against the marble floor, looming over her head was the dark silhouette of a sumptuous crystal chandelier. The hall would be filled with its iridescence would it were lit, now only the dim furred ceiling shadowed above the caliginous hall. To be frank, Sara found that for herself the lighting was not bad at all, but for humans?
"Monsieur Sangverus, is your friend…resting?"
"Ah, Madame Sara Chatain, welcome." The approaching of a loud and sonorous voice of a man illuminated the entire hall. And it was not empty at all! On the contrary, along the walls, the staircases and the perch of the second floor, there were lines of people, men and women, uniformed in red. Sara felt exposed in their emotionless gaze, the coldness that frostbit her bare skin. And...she knew that uniform, she had seen it on... A man of military demeanor descended the stair in a powerful pace, with every step the men along his way clinched their heels and bowed their heads.
Sara felt each of his steps trampled her heart. This man, what was he!! He was tall, a taut build nearly towered over herself. His locks of ash blond, almost a burning white, curled on to his back, each metallic thread flickered like flame in his footfall. His face was pale, his chin angular, lips thin, nose narrow and straight and his eyes...his eyes...a shiver went down her spine. Red, blood-red, hysterical red, overflowed from his irises on to the white of his eyes. The man resembled Cyrus in some manner, but he had himself an undeniable authority, a grimly hard aura of danger. Following closely was another man, middle-aged, at least that was what he appeared to be. The man took a slightly more muscular build, tall and broad. His curls of light grey brown tumbled over his head. Sara did not like the way he looked at her. His eyes were red as well, but seemed…softer?
"Good...good evening, Monsieur..." The songstress nearly lost her voice, she did not like this, she wanted to leave. "Such a grand gathering was…unexpected, Monsieur Sangverus." She forced a smile, her hands crept on to the door handle behind. Too late, Cyrus had blocked her only exit at the front door, he caught her arms in one hand and pushed her forward. Sara collided into the solid chest of the other blond man. She felt a tight grip around her waist. Fingernail ran along her neck all the way to her chin, forcing her to look upwards, sharp pain shot along its trail.
"Your face..." Marveled the man as he licked his blood-stained finger, "I know your face…so their daughter lives." The excitement in his voice sent bolts of shiver through Sara's body.
"Mon...Monsieur, w…what is the meaning of this!"
"Oh I thought my Ensil had made his invitation perfectly clear."
"I…I do not understand…Monsieur Sangverus, you invited me here to meet with the one you seek…"
"There you have her."
A twinge of pain shocked her heart, she glared at Cyrus, "You...you lied to me!"
"Madame Chatain, we are men of honour, what did you tell her, Ensil Cyrus?" Her capturer curved a sneer.
"I was in search of a friend, I have found her and she doesn't have much time left."
Pieces began to come together. Sara was shoved back to Cyrus.
"Ensil, finish your job!"
A grip cold as steel forced Sara to face her inviter, she saw the steel light of a dagger raised high in air.
"At last..." Sara closed her eyes, perhaps that was it. For a long period of time after the death of her beloved Jean-Pierre, Sara was haunted by the lingering thoughts of death. Many ways she had tried, none worked. But perhaps this was the day, Sara was somehow relieved than frightened, 'At last, Pierre, I will see you again.'
Was it the Morrigans had mercy on her? Sara did not feel the pain of piercing, nor the lightness of passing, in fact, she felt nothing, nothing at all. 'Is it all done?' She probingly cracked her eyes lids then shot them wide open. Right in front of her stood a woman, in her grip held the wrist of Cyrus's dagger hand. Navy coat, hair of the darkest night and a silver tiara.
"Madame Chatain, I hope you are not hurt."
"Finally, my dear princess, it has been a long time." The other blond man bolted into a thunder of laughter.
"Indeed, Lugal Marcellus, how long had it been? Five, four hundred years?"
"Three hundred years, my lady, I missed you so much."
Sara widened her eyes, what are these people! They talk centuries in the measure of years, decades…just like herself.
In the moment of their exchange of words, Cyrus let loose the dagger and caught it in his free hand. Quick as a lightning the blade cut straight towards Sara's head. Alinna on the other hand was contained by his backhand grip. She had to jerk Sara away, that is to say, exposing her shoulder to the Ensil. Cyrus's dagger ran through her collarbone. Alinna booted on his stomach, the counterforce busted them away from each other. Blood welled out of her left shoulder.
"Oops my lady, you're hurt, you should be more careful." Marcellus's voice was dripping with sarcasm.
"Thank you for your concern, my lord. I am doing just fine."
"Ennn, how long does it take for you to drop down due to excessive bleeding?"
The man gently ran his finger along his lips. His nostrils flared, fanning a lungful of blood-tinted air. The haematic aroma fueled the redness in his eyes like coals to fire. The wound on Alinna's shoulder showed no sign of healing, what made it worse, metal shoot began to crystalise along her collarbone, in no time a dark red cascade had covered her left body. Sara was frozen in terror, not knowing what to do. A regular dinner went too far south than she had anticipated.
"What do you want?" Cried the songstress.
"So much for love." Marcellus tutted and shook his head. "Why must you came, you knew it's a trap."
"My people are few, everyone counts." Alinna smoothed away Sara's shaky hands trying to press on the laceration. "Still I must thank you, Lord Marcellus, after all it takes quite the amount of blood to do this..."
All of a sudden she scooped Sara up with her arms, her right foot anchored on the floor while her left quickly completed a circle around them, just like a pair of compasses. Sara heard the woman's whisper and before she knew how, they dropped to the meadow outside the castle wall! "Run, we make it to the woods!" Alinna pulled her up and they began to run.
The woman was fast, but Sara found herself having not much difficulty keeping up. As they almost made to the edge of the woods, Alinna suddenly pounced backwards, pushing Sara with her to the ground. Two trials of scorching air screeched their ways, flying through inches above the two's heads, bullets. Vague figures of men flickered in and out of the bushes, there were ambushes. Sara heard Alinna gnashed something between her teeth. In her moment of bafflement, Sara caught the glance of movement in the corner of her eye. Tessellated shadow of dusk crept from the roots of trees. The air was not still, nor the branches, nor the shadows, their arms of black and grey waved and danced…much more violently than the airflow. Without a sound they crawled, snaked on the cool grasses behind the dark figures. They rose from the ground then suddenly launched forward, in the manner of snake attack, noosing around the ambushes' necks. A sharp snap indicated the dislocation of joints, their intercepts dropped to the ground, immobilised. But they had served their purpose. More emerged from the woods in front, the large force caught up from behind, they were once again, surrounded.
"How much time do you have left, Lady Alinna." The crowd parted making way for their superior.
"Longer than you think." The black-haired woman held up her bleeding arm, shielding Sara behind her body like an eagle protecting her young.
"How about now?" Another stream of blood welled out, spattering on to the grasses in a rain of red.
"You are weakening. So unwise of you to accept this invitation alone. But after all, you are alone."
Two gunshots protested loudly against his word. At the end close to the woods, two of the mercenaries fell facing down. Through the breach, there stood two figures. Twilight bordered their dark silhouette with golden orange, one hatted woman holding a gun close to her face, the other a man resting his hands on his hip, Magistrix Anna Karnstein and Mr. Joel Haddson.
"You!!!" the unmasked joy was unmistakable in Alinna's voice.
"That's more like it! Not that matters, all of you die tonight." Marcellus snorted a harsh derision.
"In your dreams." A low rumble of laughter silenced the night. All that presented felt the thickening of the air. An invisible wall repressed their chests, the suffocating heaviness before the storm. The black-haired Lylthian stood straight, Sara wide-eyed stared at the heatless dark flame rose from her back. "Remember, who destroyed your queen's army, two thousand years ago!"
With a flurry Alinna gathered her blood into a whip, a slash their encirclement was sprang shattered. "Make it to the waterfall." She whispered, then shouted loudly, "You two, get her out of here!" She gave Sara a hard push, almost threw her into Joel's arms. "Hey, don't die! Save me the effort of resurrecting you and killing you again!" Anna shouted back.
"Bēlugal, I will bring her head to you!" Cyrus eagerly stepped forward.
"Bēlugal, allow me this honour." Another voice echoed, the light-brown-haired man bowed beside Marcellus.
"Palil Maximian and Ensil Cyrus, take everyone with you, I want her ALIVE, kill the other two." Ordered Marcellus. "Chikara, Brandr and Dilius, you will stay and witness the end of the half-blood princess!"
Before the last syllable fell, Alinna had summoned her sword and charged forward. Her attack was blocked by a red blade, a sabre forged out of his own blood. The first clash left long skid marks of their feet on the grasses. Alinna leashed masses of Dark Matter, sending them into a flurry of attack. Though physical strength was not the Lylthian's forte, the Dāmian was driven back. However, a strong opponent as Marcellus was not easily touched, the majority of the black vines was blocked. "Is that all your got?" Teased him. With a wave Alinna sent forth another wave of dark mist, one wisp feinted an attack at his lower body. As was participated, Marcellus crossed his sabre to block. But immediately his hands were pinned down by another two wisps of Dark Matter, then the true attack fell on his head. But the red blade had its advantage in length. Marcellus erected his sabre warding off the blow.
In movies the moment of cross-blade made for some dramatic exchange of words, but if you view the crossing point of the two blades as a pivot point, leverage comes in play. And that was exactly what Alinna did. She levered her sword right down his head, though was dodged, the blade still cut into Marcellus's shoulder. She took a blow in stomach, but her sword was kept low, the blade cut deeper and it resulted in a long cut across his neck when it finally left his body. Now it was time to return the favour, Alinna grasped the air and pulled, streams of blood began to flow towards her. All of a sudden, a sharp pain shot across her wound, like claws nailed into her flesh. The metal crystalisation furthered its way down her arm. In the heat of battle, one second of distraction could mean the end of it. "Oh The fun's just began!" The Dāmian held a scope of his own blood, he inhaled deeply and let out a satisfying laughter. Then he clenched his fist. Alinna was crushed into a tree. An icy claw crept on her neck, in her eyes was the triumphant smile of Marcellus. He gripped her neck, the other hand drove his saber into her right lung. "Fool, even attempt to control my blood." He whispered in her ear, his lips caressed all the way from her cheek to her neck, he tasted her skin, like lovers would do. But it was not the kiss of love but hate, fangs torn into her throat.
Joel and Sara rampaged through the woods, the Magistrix's bullets kept their pursuers in a distance. But with every shot they were getting closer and closer. Though not having an athletic figure, Sara could run fairly fast, especially when you're running for your life. But tonight of all nights, Sara was dressed for a casual dinner, not live-action. One bulged root of a tree snapped her heel, Sara was tripped.
"Hurry, they're getting closer!" Joel yanked her up, but it took only a brief moment for the Dāmians to catch up. Joel was thrown to the ground.
"Run!!" Shouted him.
"Run, we'll slow them down."
The one who attacked Joel was a woman, Joel jarred her chin with a hook. The woman's grip was loosened and he rolled up quickly, but immediately he was pinned to a tree. In no way she was a fair match for him, a human against a Dāmian, that's a suicidal mission. But fair play was never his forte either. Joel elbowed her rib cage, it basically did nothing other than making his capturer step to the other side. That was what he wanted. Joel quickly reached down his pocket and hurled out his iPhone. The woman instinctively grabbed his hand. "Say cheese!" Joel clicked the big white button. The flash light is able to temporarily blind a human in such a close distance, no mention a photosensitive Dāmian. The woman dropped down, shrieking in pain, covering her eyes with her hands. Joel grabbed his pen, pulled the cap and jammed its tip into her spine. It wouldn't kill her, but defiantly will shut her up for some time.
"So a pen IS sharper than a sword." Joel whisked his collar. "Hang on there Magistrix, I'm coming for you!"
Joel whirled around, not far to his left the Magistrix was trapped, immobilised by a Dāmian's arms underneath hers. Still she struggles with great force, shooting one on her right in the head while kicking another in front in the stomach. Setting his camera to continuous capture mode, Joel leapt forward and slide on his back. Sliding gave him the advantage of speed. In no time that small circle of trees was flashed with bolts of white light. The Dāmian, one by one shielded their eyes with their hands. Anna broke free, she backhandedly thrust her rapier into her capturer's neck, the other hand quickly reloaded her gun and shot the rest down before they recover.
"We are even now, Magistrix." Said Joel
"Cut the bullsh*t Joel, save it for later! We've got to find Sara!"
"I saw her run down the creek, that way!"
The two followed the creek band, the water was clear and babbling, the soil along the stone band was soft and moist, and easily to leave prints on. Anna and Joel ran in their full pelt, the sound of rippling water grew louder and louder in their ears, there must be a waterfall nearby! "Oh sh*t!!!" Suddenly the Magistrix's pace accelerated, so did the water flow of the creek. The edge of a small clearing leapt into their sight, beyond that was a cliff, the creek dropped precipitously to a waterfall at its petrous end. On the edge of the cliff there stood two people, a woman in purple and a man in black. The woman, shaking visibly, had reached the point of no return. For her it was a choice between fire and frying pan, to meet her end in water or in the arms of the blond man. She chose the former. Sara cast herself down, her pursuer followed closely. Perhaps just a trick of the dark woods, a fleet of black wings joined them in a free fall.
"NO!!!" Joel hurried forward but Anna hurled him back. "Look!"
More and more Dāmians were rallied around the cliff, their leader a middle-aged man with light grey brown hair climbed down the waterfall. Soon he and the blond man reemerged from the cliff edge, the later was carrying something on his arms. Joel saw the grey-haired man opened his mouth, giving orders obviously but his voices was drowned out by the sound of water flow. The Dāmians gathered force and marched back.
"It's too late." Anna sighed at their receding figures.
"No, no, no, we have screwed it!"
"If we get her body back your boss might be able to reverse her. Come on, let's follow them."
Marcellus's fangs buried deeper into Alinna's neck, his fingernails torn into her flesh. He enjoyed her moans of pain and shivers of weakening. He enjoyed the taste, the mellow sweetness of devastation and the sharp spice of fear...almost, too sharp. With a cough of chock, Marcellus pushed her aside. He grabbed his throat, brows knitted together, blood spat out his mouth, along with a razor blade? No, a metal shoot. He glared at his prey, how cruel is she even to herself. She had urged the crystalisation to her neck! With a low groan she was gone. Marcellus felt a blast of air behind him. He bent back, his own sabre swept inches above his nose-tip, following closely was a thrust of a long sword. Marcellus rolled aside but this one he did not dodge completely, the long sword sliced between his ribs. Another blow succeeded immediately, then another, then another. The Dāmian was forced into a series of dodging and rolling, but he could feel it, the intervals between attacks were increasing, she was slowing down. Marcellus counted, testing out the rhythm, when another blow fell on his head, he suddenly turned over. The sabre toe pierced his shoulder but he caught the blade in his hand. The weapon returned to its own blood. Alinna hammered the hilt of her sword on his face, they swept position in the air. Marcellus took the hard damage, but he held her even closer. Alinna pounded him to the ground, her blade jabbed into his throat. But her chest also felt the sharpness of his sabre.
"Bēlugal!" Sweeping along strong wind, something sharp cut towards Alinna's arm. She had to retrieve the stance and blocked two dart blades. The sabre sliced into her skin, she blasted a wisp of Dark Matter sending her to a safe distance. Alinna was sent down to one knee, a hand pressed against her new wound on the chest the other supported her balance on the hilt of her long sword. Cyrus had returned. He dropped something on the grasses, displaying it like a trophy. A distorted mass of flesh and bones, vaguely resembled the body of a woman. Fangs of metal bit in and out of a pile of…what can only be described as mince. The original shape was beyond recognition as well as repairation. Only a scanty few strips of purple clothes mourned for its late owner, a woman with dark chestnut hair maybe.
"No, what have you done!!!" The Lylthian bolted into a scream, blood gurgled out of her mouth, her entire body was now covered in red. Marcellus could see her hands shaking and legs shivering. Now it was time for the last blow.
"Hey you, look over!" That was beyond expectation. All of them were drawn to the source of the voice. Joel stood in a bush to their left, his IPhone in hand. "Cheers!" the waves of flash light turned night into daytime. Alinna felt a grip on her arm, she was pulled aside. "Joel, get over here!" That was the voice of the Magistrix. Alinna could vaguely make out the shape of a crystal cone in her hand, she smashed it on the ground. A blinding whiteness engulfed them, they dropped into a hedge.
"Errr...what was that?" Joel lay on the cold grasses, having absolutely no idea what had the Magistrix done other than half blinding him and flashing a bee hive into his head.
"Saving your asses." Typical Anna-styled answer.
Feeling his sight returned, Joel pushed himself up. He peeped between leaves, saw nothing but gravel road and benches, beyond that was the resplendent outline of the Arc de Triomphe.
"That was some live 'La Grande Vadrouille'." The journalist managed a smile at the other two after making sure their safety. Anna being Anna ignored his attempt of lightening up the atmosphere completely. The Lylthian had her attention at the moment, after all losing a kin was not the best of experience. The Magistrix watched from the corner of her eye while brushing scrambled crystal from her palms. "Hey, I'm sorry…"
"I thank you Magistrix, I know…it is too late." To be honest, the plainness in her voice gave Anna chills. She had been expecting an angry shout, or maybe a hysterical scream, but no, the deep dark bleakness was all she got. The calm mask you put on when you are so overwhelmed that you don't know how to react. The Magistrix of Rosenschwert knew her 'mortal enemy' well. Never had she heard this intonation in their endless confrontations. Confident, arrogant, sarcastic, patronizing even the occasional forbearing, but this, this is frustration, the helplessness of being defeated. For one moment Anna felt she pities her.
"Looks like my work here is done, I should report back to the Guild. You should go back as well, your wounds need healing."
"I will be fine, Magistrix, you have my thanks for all your efforts. I shall trouble you no longer." Still the plain blankness.
"Come, I'll walk you to the station."
"Hey Boss, I'm sorry…" Joel followed Alinna carefully into the advertisement board. Neither he nor the Magistrix had any ideas of the heat of the battle but her 'purple' outfit was not a good sign.
"Mr. Haddson, may I borrow your coat, please."
"Err, sure, of course!" Joel cursed himself mentally, how careless was he! The journalist hastily took off his overcoat, his hands reaching out trying to cape it over her shoulder, but is was never done. "Wait a minute, this is not the Sanctuary, where are we?"
"Bois de Boulogne." Alinna's yank forced Joel to complete his task.
"Boss, we need to go back! You need a doctor, not a sight-seeing tour!" Joel raised his voice, half bewildered half concerned. He brainstormed all possible scenarios, the worst being he knocks her out and carries her back, maybe?
"I know perfectly what I need, there is someone we must see."
The rustling leaves caught both of their attention. A man, tall and slim, holding a brunette woman in his arms, emerged from the shadow of the woods. He had hair of a plumaged raven, the rich black edged with an iridescent of midnight-blue. Two dashing brows curved over a pair of shimmering eyes, they were silver, the silver of stars. For a brief moment Joel thought he was staring at the black bird they saw that night.
"Madame Chatain! You are ALIVE! I mean, you're ok?" Joel's eye-balls nearly popped out of his orbits.
"Mr. Haddson, I do not do things without preparation." Alinna drew a breath of relief. The woman was wrapped in a blanket, soaking wet, terrified and shaky. She was shivering in the man's arms, hands clenched tight to her swaddle.
"Madame Chatain, I owe you my apologies." The black-haired Lylthian slightly bowed her head, but there was no respond. Sara did not even look at her. She turned her head, unintentionally, away from Alinna, eyes blankly stared into the folds of the blanket, a tint of resentment filmed her violet irises.
"You may no longer go back to your old apartment, nor stay in this city." Alinna sighed a bleak sigh. "I know you have questions to ask, and I have stories to tell, but it cannot be done here. There is a place, far from here that many of us have called home, and maybe, just maybe, you can call it home one day, if you are willing to come with me." Sara raised her gaze, only for a blink. Her eyes were dim and grey, so much unlike that of a Lylthian's. She gave a light shake of her head.
"I…understand, and I do not ask you to leave everything behind. Išūl (i-shool) will stay with you, he will take you home when you are ready."
"Ereš (my queen)!!!" The man frowned, his voice raised in protest.
"It has been deiced Išūl, you will protect her as you have protected me." Alinna spoke in that strange language, yet Sara was able to understand every word.
"Šema (sheh-Mah), Ereš. (yes, my queen)" The man bowed reluctantly. "Whatever question you have, Išūl will answer you to his best. Though he is dull in human tongue, you still will be able to understand each other." She added after a short pause "Go to the Grey Moth, Madame Fatine will take good care of you, you will be safe there, for now."
There was no more exchange of words, Išūl, carrying Sara, disappeared into the thick darkness of the night. Alinna followed them with her eyes to the limitation of her sight. Joel watched her back, he saw her poured something onto her shoulder from a small vial before turning around.
"Joel…" the Lylthian put one hand in his arm, "Let us go home."
Joel was taken aback, what did she just call him?
They went all the way back to the Sanctuary, her hands rested in his. Joel felt her cold, silky skin and hard flesh. To be honest he was never that close to her, she wouldn't allow it any way. They walked across the lobby, up the stairs and to the door of her private chamber. "Err Boss…" Joel was hesitating whether to open the door or nor while he suddenly felt weight on his shoulder. The journalist turned his head only to find Alinna collapsing into his arms.
"Boss! Boss! Alinna! Somebody, somebody help!!!!