Rain sat lazily at the edge of the rooftop, the sun slowly seeping away under the horizon. The townsfolk bustled under him. Rain grabbed a hold of the edge of the roof, and cautiously leaned over, looking below him, at the people.
If only they knew... he thought.
A subtle and sweet voice came from behind him, questioning his moment of thought.
"If only they knew what?"
Rain wasn't surprised, not even stirred by the thought of the woman behind him, who knew what he was thinking. Instead, his lips turned into a small smile, not turning from his gaze over the small town.
"Hello, Gabriel," He stressed on her name, as if he held some contempt for her, "need anything of me?"
None other than Lady Arcangel Gabriel. Any other person would see her as just a normal girl, with no noticeable features. But the ones who can see truthfully, those like Rain, angels and demons, see her as the angel in glowing white armour, and brilliantly bright wings, her hair golden and flowing, soft to the touch. At her side, the thick sword with the silver and gold hilt, held by angels only of the rank of Arcangel. Her face was fair, lips pink, and eyes blue. She spoke with a soft voice, so sweet that you would swear that this fair maiden was not one to fight. But she can fight, fearlessly, mercilessly sometimes, with a power only they know of.
She spoke again.
"No, I need nothing from you, I'm just," She sighed, "checking up on you"
Lost in thought, Rain unconciously broke off a small piece of the roof's edge, and dropped it below, causing cries of protest to rise up from underneath. Gabriel looked down and shook her head. She looked up at the vampire, sitting on the edge, who had remained unstirred during this little meeting. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"If you came to warn me of the small band of demons who are currently hunting me down, you're late, I already know they're here."
Gabriel looked at him, a look of perplexion on her face.
"And.. you-... you haven't left?"
Rain sighed, "Tired of running."
"And what are you going to do when they get here? Fight?"
"What do you think, Gabriel?"
Gabriel lowered her gaze. She understood, running never really solved anything. Her eyes widened suddenly, she turned behind her, her blue eyes searching the rooftops. She gasped, and whispered.
"Rain... they're here."
She turned back to the vampire, but he wasn't there anymore. The Arcangel rushed to the edge of the rooftop, only to see Rain's long, dark jacket flutter in the wind behind him as he fell. He landed softly, and gave a quick glance up at the rooftop. She was already gone, only one of her silky, white feathers floated down and tipped the ground softly. As soon as he started walking, he accidentally bumped into someone on the street. Giving a quick glance at her long, snow white hair and red eyes, he whispered a soft 'Sorry' and moved on hastily, not waiting to hear her response.
The sun was set. It was almost pitch black now, except for the torches that lined the walls of nearby buildings. Several bat shrieks, louder and harsher than any natural bat shriek, filled the night's cold air. Rain turned into a dark alley, he made his way in a little, and the stopped suddenly. The shrieking came to a complete halt. The vampire heard the sound of a blade being unsheathed quickly. He turned around, only to see a flash of familiar snow white hair, and deep red eyes, and feel cold steel pressed against his neck.
“Rain Seraph. He robbed and killed my only son. He’s a terrible, terrible man.” The old woman closed her eyes and sighed, “Dark hair, and those eyes…those terrible, golden eyes. He looks like a demon. Wouldn’t be surprised if he was one.”
She seemed so out of place in this tavern, even though it was only late afternoon. The rowdy customers hadn’t even begun to arrive, and yet the place still held its rough atmosphere. The tables still smelled of alcohol even after they’d been wiped down, and several of the chairs had been badly mended, most likely broken in bar fights. It was obviously one of less respectable taverns Aemilia had been to, definitely not the place for a gentle, distressed old lady to be spending her afternoon.
“So you’ll do it?”
“Of course,” Aemilia offered a smile, “I’ll take care of it.”
The woman fished in her purse and pulled out a bag of coins, passing them across the table with a frail hand. “There dear, it’s what we agreed on.”
“And where can I find him?” she said, taking the pouch. She did feel a little awkward taking the money from this old woman, but it wasn’t as if she’d asked for a ridiculous amount. It was a dangerous business, and she didn’t work for free.
“Outside of this building, at sunset.”
“How do you kn-“
“I know, dear,” the old woman took a sip of her tea, “I know.”
Aemilia composed herself. She didn’t want to anger a customer. Her position wasn’t quite respectable, but it was all she had. “Well, ma’am, would you mind giving me a second location?”
“He roams the alleyways after dark, searching for people to rob. Innocent, hardworking people…” The woman trailed off until her voice was but a subtle, personal whisper.
She thought it best to leave before her client became emotional. She was helping the woman in the way she was accustomed to helping people, and that was all she planned on doing.
“You’re such a kind girl…” the lady called after her, a smile driving back the wrinkles on her cheeks.
Aemilia returned the smile then looked towards the door, pushing it open and speaking into her shoulder. “Too bad I’m going to hell…”
Outside the tavern she squinted her eyes, met with the glare of the setting sun. The woman had likely been mad with grief. How could she have known exactly where her son’s murderer would be? Regardless, she didn’t plan on searching for him out here in the open. She would take the woman’s latter advice, and greet him with his death in the alleyways of the town that night.
She turned from the tavern door and began walking, not sure where she was going, and not really caring. It wasn’t quite dark yet, and there was no sense in trying desperately to find someone at this time. She preferred to do her job at night.
Gold eyes?, she thought to herself, He shouldn’t be too hard to find, especially in the dark…
She smiled, entertaining herself with thoughts of an easy kill. Lost in her musing’s, she found herself colliding with a stranger on the street. He rushed off with a quick apology, and Aemilia looked up quickly to offer the same, but only caught a glimpse of his features as he passed her.
Dark hair, and those eyes…those terrible, golden eyes…
She turned around and caught another glimpse of the man she’d run into, walking away. He had to be the thief the old woman had described. He had to be Rain.
Aemilia kept her distance, walking casually behind him, as if she were just another person making her way home. Twice she nearly lost him when he slipped around sharp corners. He moved hastily, as if he were running from something. Surely he wasn’t onto her; she’d posed no obvious threat.
Finally, she followed him into a narrow alley. It was pitch black, and she stood still behind him until her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she could at least make out her target’s sillouette. With one fluid motion she drew Tira from behind her and moved forward, trapping him between her body and her blade. He was finished…
She smiled softly, an expression noticed only by the shadows, and pressed the sword to his neck-
Her satisfied expression turned to one of shock. The sound of steel clattered against the street beneath them, and her victim’s, her victim’s hand was around her wrist, twisting, squeezing, depriving her of feeling. Desperately she tried to move her arm against his, towards his throat, but he held fast. Much to her surprise he let her go, and yet before she could do any damage, he sidestepped and moved away.
Even in the dark, she could tell he was facing her. She wasn’t at all aware of the weapons he possessed, and she’d planned on him being dead before he could even consider fighting back. Keeping her eyes on Rain she retrieved Tira from the ground, all the while cursing herself for letting an assassination evolve into a contest.
Rain blinked, breathing softly. His attacker was human, pure human. Such anger and desperation within this red eyed girl.
Burning red eyes...
Those eyes put some doubt within Rain's judgement. Human or not, this girl's eyes were not of this earth. But yet... they weren't angelic, nor demonic. They didn't even look human.
The incomprehendable muttering whispering softly from her lips seemed to be the only sound in the air around her. Her long, dark sword made a smooth scraping sound as she unsheathed it from her lower back.
Was she sent here by someone to kill him? Or was she here on her own?
If she was, then she must have a good reason to be here. Rain thought back, searching his mind. He'd never seen this girl before, except when he bumped into her in the streets.
It couldn't be that... could it?
She cursed under her breath, a little louder this time, breaking the vampire's chain of thought, and grabbing his attention.
"Who are you?" The vampire questioned.
She remained silent, determined in standing there, staring him to death with cold red eyes.
"Fine..." he whispered.
Rain, spun around quickly and moved into the shadows of the alley. Moving at a normal pace, so as not to be careless, still wary of the girl behind him.
... Maybe I shouldn't have turned my back to her...
OoC: told you... short, and not at the quality you deserve v.v
Aemilia took a step forward and stopped. He was closer than he appeared to be, and pursuing him while he was aware of her presence wouldn’t lead to an easy kill. As far as she could tell, the alleyways connected, looping around the city. She would simply take him by surprise again, and not fail in her task.
But what if I can’t find him again?
It was unlikely. Never before had she doubted herself in seeking out and doing away with her victims. Never before had she failed. And yet, Aemilia was suddenly filled with sympathy for that woman, sympathy and a pressing need to avoid any action that might compromise the keeping of her promise. Her reasons for wanting this man dead had been valid, and much nobler than many of her clients’. Her wishes were bold and just, and deserved answers of the same.
“You’re a coward.”
Her words cut through the silence. His footsteps cast a metronome for the shadows that waltzed around them both, dragging his silhouette deeper into obscurity. He didn’t stop.
She stole one fleeting glance behind her, then began walking towards him, her pace only quick enough to prevent losing him in the bends and turns of the alleyways.
“You’ve courage enough to deal death to others, yet not enough to face your own…”
He continued walking, and she followed, until her disgust at his cowardice took over. How could he just walk away? Why wouldn’t he stand and fight? She caught up and stepped in front of him, drawing her sword and holding it between them. The point faced off into the shadows, but the edge faced Rain’s throat.
“If you value your life, you will fight to defend it…”
Her eyes found his, a faint gold glow. She took one step forward.
Rain sighed, and looked away slightly from the snow-haired girl.
The cold steel was pressed against his neck, detecting his every movement, his every breath. The vampire looked into his attackers eyes, and narrowed his.
"Should I kill you now?" The girl said, threateningly.
She held her sword which such prowess, and such fierce determination were in those deep red eyes. Rain could tell she was not one to be tampered with, her eyes made her look demonic, and devious, ready to rip a person to shreds in seconds. He would fight her, but he wouldn't know what he would be getting into.
Neither would she.
He lowered his brows, and glared directly into Aemilia's eyes, raising his right hand up, and pressing his palm against the sharp edge of the blade. He curled his fingers as he pushed the blade away slowly from his neck, all the time still looking into the girl's eyes, as she struggled to keep the blade in place. The sword was being slowly pushed away from his neck, while his palm seeped blood unto the blade, and stained the shadowed ground. Aemilia's eyes and hands were fixed with the determination to keep the blade in place.
Rain blinked. In the shadows, behind Aemilia, a set of eyes blinked back, and scattered themselves among the cascading shadows, spreading the darkness wherever they slithered to.
Rain muttered under his breath.
Why didn't he feel their presence sooner?
Could this girl be working for them?
He looked at Aemilia.
But she's just human...
A pair of eyes slinked in behind her, growling softly, the wall opened below them, baring sharp fangs and a thick black tongue. Long and slimy, it slithered its way down the wall, nearing Aemilia's foot. Rain's eyes were no longer on the girl, but on the tongue. Rain pulled on the sword, ripping it from the assassin's grasp, making her stumble forward. The vampire grabbed her hand and pulled her further forward, at the same time, spinning, to jam the sword into the tongue, stabbing it and pinning it to the ground. The creature squealed. Rain grabbed the tongue, and pulled the being out of the wall.
"What the..?!" He heard Aemilia mutter.
Rain stepped back, as a devilish hound emerged from the wall, lapping back up it's tongue, which was still bleeding it's black blood. The sword fell to the ground with a small 'clang' as the hound moved towards the two slowly, licking it's lips and snapping it's jaw shut, making a loud clapping sound every time it did. The vampire turned toward the assassin, who was looking directly into the canine's bright white eyes.
She can see that?!
Her eyes are different after all...
The dog clamped it's jaw shut for the last time. It began to howl, a sound that echoed and distorted the sound at the same time. The howl rose in pitch, Rain kept looking at the dog, his hand still dripping blood. The vampire clenched his fist, within the blink of an eye, Rain was gone.
The dog stopped howling as Aemilia's sword was driven through it's skull by an unseen force. It lay dead in the alleyway. Aemilia blinked, and heard her sword being put back into it's sheath. She looked at the vampire, standing right next to her, his bloodied hand on the handle, he was looking in the opposite direction she was, but not facing her directly, his stare was blank, breathing normally. But he was too late in disposing of the Summoner.
The shadows, once etched into the walls, moved and danced swiftly and vigorously around them. Rain ripped a piece of his shirt off, and bound the wound on his hand, then, taking Aemilia's hand, he pulled her along swiftly. She was utterly speechless, she couldn't even breathe because of the speed they were moving at, everything was a distorted blur; beyond recognition. He pulled her deeper into the alleyways, all the while watching the shadows moving around them and behind them.
Rain turned a sharp corner, into another alleyway that branched off from the main one. Jamming Aemilia against the wall, and clasping his hands over her lip. They were extremely close to each other, their noses almost touching. The smell of blood from the bandaged hand on her lips filled both there nostrils. He looked into her eyes and whispered to her, while his left hand restrained her right.
"Don't move, and don't make a sound."
The vampire turned his face away from the girl, not facing the main alleyway, but the one they ran into. He closed his eyes.
The brooding shadows passed by them, he heard another Summoner clicking it's jaw and walking past slowly. It ceased clamping its jaw shut. The shuffling of its feet suddenly stopped.
Over the sound of her own panicked heartbeat Aemilia heard cloth tearing. A hand grasped her own. Before she could protest, she was being pulled along at a speed she would’ve thought to be impossible. Everything around her was a darkened blur. She gasped for breath as they turned a corner, and found that she was barely able to inhale. She closed her eyes and held on tight. Regardless of her task, letting go of Rain’s hand didn’t seem to be in her best interest.
Suddenly she felt herself being pushed up against a wall. They were still in the alleyway. She struggled to catch her breath, even as Rain clasped his now bandaged hand over her mouth. Her eyes narrowed and she began to move away, but his other wand was clasped in hers, forcing her up against the hard stone wall. He was much too close. He could kill her if he wanted to.
But he didn’t.
Instead he whispered to her, quite gently for a man that she’d just tried to kill.
“Don’t move, and don’t make a sound.”
Aemilia obliged. He seemed quite intent on keeping her there, and she had no strong desire to move back into the shadows after what she’d seen emerge from them…
Oddly, she felt safe. For the time being, Rain Seraph was not the enemy. She would kill him only after he’d disposed of the devilish hounds. He seemed to have practice in doing so, and she didn’t want them in her way. Still she couldn’t help wondering where they’d come from. And what they were.
He still restrained her, but was now looking away, deeper into the alley he’d pulled her into. She exhaled into his bandaged palm, and quickly realized that breathing would once again be difficult. His hand nearly suffocated her, and when she inhaled through her nose she was met with the sickeningly strong smell of blood.
As she stared ahead over his shoulder Aemilia was aware of more shadows dancing through the alleyway, passing over the walls, moving into the ground, everywhere. She heard the all-to-familiar sound of jaws snapping shut, and the shuffling footsteps that marked the dogs approach. They stopped.
Aemilia turned her head to the side, away from the noise. She wanted to run, get out of there, at least fight back, but she couldn’t. The cold stone of the wall scraped against her cheek as she pressed herself further against it, breathing as best she could. Her eyes widened. A shadow moved swiftly along the wall she was up against, towards her face. She had no desire to find out what it would do when it reached her.
With a small cry, nothing compared to the deafening howl, she pushed against Rain, moving them both away from the wall and out into the middle of the alleyway.
The howl stopped, and once more she felt her hand being taken into his. However, this time was different. They stopped abruptly, before her breath had even been taken from her, before they’d made it past the entrance of that branch of the alley. The force of the stop nearly caused her to fall forward. Rain’s grip on her hand kept her standing. She pulled away, and began to step back.
Before them, spread out into the darkness like the ranks of an unholy army, where over a dozen pairs of haunting, white eyes.
Rain’s hands clenched into fists, his lips curved upwards into a daunting smile.
All slight movement in the sea of eyes ceased to exist, and one of the hounds sprang forward. Rain disappeared. Behind her, Aemilia heard a whisper.
“I’m borrowing this again…”
She watched idly as her sword was once again driven through the skull of a dog. As it’s body fell, two more appeared from the shadowed ranks, snarling. One struck out at Rain, the other ran further back into the alley, wheeling around for its attack. It ran right past her.
They’re after him…
Regardless, she moved closer to the wall. Without her sword or an opponent interested in her defeat, she felt no need to involve herself.
The hounds came quicker, and Rain countered every blow until one managed to take him by surprise. Snarling, it lunged towards him, knocking him against the wall opposite Aemilia, measuring to his full height while standing on its hind legs.
Baring vampyric fangs, he drove her sword straight through the demon’s heart.
Rain's faint whisper seemed to linger in the air at the moment Aemilia's sword was unsheathed. Her eyes were too slow to detect the vampire's movements, as Rain drove the blade through another dog's skull, ripping it out sideways to make another demon's life end at it's tip. Another one came from behind, where the girl was standing. Rain twirled and ended it's miserable attack with one swift blow.
His eyes caught the gaze of the girl's.
Another one came from the front, knocking him out of his relentless attack into an almost solid defense, while mercilessly digging its claws into his chest. Up against a wall, glaring directly into emotionless eyes, Rain bared his fangs, as the sword went upwards, straight through the demon's heart.
They kept coming. The vampire moved swiftly into the midst of them, intending to destroy them all from the middle, and expand outwards with his attacks. He was disturbed by the amount of Summoners in one small area, he was disturbed even more by the girl standing right there. There were no reasons for an innocent to be harmed in this... 'war'.
Innocent... He could have questioned that word, but now was not the time, nor the place. If she could see the demons, then that means...
A small gasp escaped Aemilia's lips. The vampire turned to see a summoner, in mid-leap. Jaws wide open, baring the yellow canines. It was leaping towards the assassin, who's hand was about to curl into a fist, as she stepped slightly back, her hair moved forward slightly as she did. Rain exhaled, increasing his speed, so that the world around him seemed to stop. Sounds, movements, everything seemed to halt. Even the cloud of frosty vapour he had exhaled into the cold night's air had stopped dissipating. The vampire rammed the black blade through the leaping dog's neck, parting the girl's snow-white hair slightly in the process, making a few strands of it float to the ground, calmly, as the world resumed it's activities. He was close to Aemilia again, his hair slightly touching hers, as she wasn't facing him, but at the demon hanging on the sword infront of her. Rain was at her side, holding the handle of the blade firmly.
"You see them, they see you, understand?"
The vampire didn't see her respond. He turned and watched the rest of the pack whimper, and rush into the shadows, their tails, or what was left of them, between their legs. They joined their shadows, and 'escaped' the area. Rain panted, and looked down slightly, bending the sword downwards so that the dead summoner would slide off. He watched as the wind picked up, and carried it's withered remains away. He looked at the bloodied sword, and using the cloth wrapped around his hand, he slid the sword through the ravelled cloth, wiping the blood off the black metal. He looked at the girl, holding the blade in his hand, pointing the handle in her direction, waiting for her to take it.
She reached out and grasped her sword, pulling it back towards her, trying her best to submerge her disgust with the fact that he’d taken it in the first place. Aemilia kept her eyes fixed on Rain, watching for even the slightest ominous movement. It was quite obvious to her now that he wasn’t human. She still didn’t trust him any more than she had when she’d first left the tavern, intent on killing him. If it was possible, she trusted him less. Her goal hadn’t changed, regardless of what he’d done for her. Perhaps he’d only saved her from the hound in order to preserve the pleasure of killing her. Perhaps they had been illusions. Perhaps…
She shook her head slightly. Her contemplations were distracting her from the task at hand. In the distance she could hear the last scampering footsteps of the dogs’ retreat, faint whines and whimpers that would instill fear in nothing. Had he really chased them away?
Aemilia stared him in the eyes. It didn’t matter. She had been given a task, and more than enough reason to follow it through. She had delayed long enough; she should have had him finished before the “distraction” had come along. Nevertheless, she would do it now. It wasn’t often she felt this much sympathy, if anything at all, for her clients.
Closing her eyes for a moment, the assassin gripped the hilt of her sword with both hands. She took a deep breath. A sudden breeze pulled a few strands of her hair to the right, tickling and caressing her face. It had barely the force of a whisper, but it was there.
It hadn’t been a simple current of night hair, nor had it been a whisper.
She swung Tira around behind her a split second before turning around herself, opening her eyes as she did so. Her blade struck only air, and she caught a glimpse of her target before she was once again facing the wall of the alley. He was still in front of her.
Her next movements were executed at the highest speed she could manage. Rain was faster.
He was simply dodging her attacks, not even trying to fight back. Once she had him standing right in front of her and struck out with her sword, the black blade whistling as it cut through the air. She turned a few steps in the process. He was right in front of her again, unharmed.
She sighed through her teeth.
Aemilia tightened her grip on Tira’s handle, breathing deeply. Spinning around aimlessly with no plan, only a goal, was obviously getting her nowhere. The vampire was teasing her.
She swung her sword out in an arc in front of her. Rain seemed to disappear. She was staring to the left, not bothering to try and catch a glimpse of him in her peripheral vision. He was behind her and she knew it.
Her sword was passed from her right to left hand, smoothly, and she lowered her gaze. It wasn’t often she could handle a sword well left handed. It wasn’t often she tried. Fortunately, she wouldn’t have to try for long.
The blade swung back again, cutting its familiar path through the air, but then passing again, behind Aemilia’s back, to her right hand. It continued its journey around the front of her body once more, as Aemilia turned to face the side, offering it more force.
The black steel had left his hand, and entered the assassin's. Closing her eyes, she seemed to be concentrating on the task at hand, whether to carry it out, or whether to leave him alone. If she was a full fledged assassin, she would strike out, no remorse, no regret, no second thoughts. Her mind would be set on one thing, and one thing only; the quick death of her target. But on the other hand, if she had a speck of warmth within her heart, encased in such a beautiful frame, she would at least say 'thank you' before trying to slash him to death.
Rain took only a second to observe her features under the pale moonlight. As the wind caressed her hair, twirling around, stroking her cheek lightly as it seemed to glow in the pale light. Aemilia's eyes closed, she breathed, her chest moving in accordance. He hadn't seen it before, in the darkness of the alleyways, and the distractions that had passed. He hadn't seen it.
He had never seen anyone so beautiful to him in his life. The way her hair glowed in the moonlight, as it ran smoothly across her face, her chest rising and falling steadily as she breathed softly, the frost floated out, and dissipated in front of her lips, which parted slightly as she took another breath in. To him, even Gabriel paled in comparison.
Rain blinked, the sound of a sword whistling through the air had sliced his thoughts, before the blade had even reached him. Breaking the cage around his mind that was formed by the assassin's entrancing beauty, the whistling sword slashed at only air. The vampire had stooped low, dodging the attack, and stretching out his both arms as wings, curling his bandaged right hand into a fist, ready to counter with, what would have been an immensely damaging rising punch to her chin.
But he didn't do it.
Stretching out his fingers, he moved quietly and quickly, dodging her flurry of sword slashes. His hair fell in his eyes, not distracted by the black strands obscuring his sight, he moved quickly, circling his attacker, to face wherever she faced. All the while, staring blankly into her eyes, not even allowing the sword she wielded with such speed, grace, and dexterity a glimpse. And all that time, questions faced him, as if they were glaring back at him, directly into his eyes.
The meaning of this... ? Why is she here? How is she able to see those things?
He fumbled slightly in his movements, feeling her black sword grating into his left side. Closing his eyes tightly in pain, the vampire grasped the blade, hindering the quivering sword from grinding further into his body. Gritting his teeth, he hung his head down to face the blade, but his eyes remained locked with the girl's, a small smile appearing on her lips.
Rain ripped the blade out of his own side, causing blood to splatter on the ground. Grasping the wound, he fell to his knees before her.
His golden eyes broke the gaze he had with Aemilia's crimson eyes.
He knew if he didn't do something fast, his head would be rolling on bloodsoaked floor. He rested his bloody palm against the ground, as his eyes flushed crimson. From the spatter of the demons' blood on his face, combined with his red eyes, he seemed to be crying blood. He exhaled, as the vampire's own shadow rose up around him, and exploded, expanding into an unnavigational thick black mist.
"****." He muttered under his breath.
The shadows were meant to move slowly, intending to scare the girl away, but he was concentrating on the wound, and couldn't control it. So it took the assassin by surprise, making her stand her ground. The dark mist rolled away, as the vampire stood up before her, once again entering the lock with their eyes.
Holding his bloodied left side softly with his right arm, breathing calmly.
She was nothing short of satisfied as she watched him fall to the ground, clutching his side. Blood seeped through his fingers, onto the cool black pavement, and Aemilia regained a tighter grip on her sword. She could’ve had him had he not, of all things, pulled the blade out of the wound himself. Nevertheless, she would have him soon.
She held her sword out vertically, tilted towards her just the slightest bit, prepared to make a clean cut across his throat. He knelt before her like a sacrifice. From somewhere deep inside she could felt a barely recognizable pang of guilt.
This was her job, and this man deserved what he was about to get.
She blinked a few times, in succession. Her eyes struggled to adapt to a new level of darkness, and she reached out in front of her, moving her hand through the air. Aemilia almost expected it to be of a thicker consistency, for it was becoming harder and harder to see the man in front of her.
As she strained to see her target, daring not to take one more step towards him in this moment of confusion, she realized the source of the shadows. That’s what they were. Pieces of his shadow.
She didn’t falter, didn’t move. It had to be an illusion, perhaps the second of the night.
As quickly as it had come, the dark mist rolled away on the cool night air, dissipating around her as if it had never even existed. Nearly as soon as it had cleared, Rain was on his feet again, facing her, staring into her eyes. Staring her down.
He was standing steady and his breathing was calm, but he still clutched the wound she’d left in his side. Next to him, drops of his own blood collected on the ground, where he had been kneeling. They caught the attention of a sliver of a moon hanging in the clear night sky. In the almost complete darkness, the blood could’ve been mistaken for water. Two more drops we added to the collection. His hand wasn’t much of a tourniquet.
Common sense told her that he’d eventually bleed to death.
Her recollection of the fight earlier, of the fangs he’d shown in aggression, told her that he wasn’t capable of bleeding to death.
Instinct told her not to wait to find out.
One quick, fluid motion left her hand grasping his upper arm, Tira at his throat once more. The blade against his skin became less of a caress with every frantic heartbeat. Aemilia’s lips were shaped for the familiar goodnight wish.
She stopped short.
“You haven’t finished the job?”
It was barely a question, more of a threatening statement, a harsh observation. Aemilia barely allowed herself to turn her head towards the source of the voice, towards the entrance of the alley.
The woman from the tavern.
She’d spoken with her, given her this assignment, but no one had ever followed her. No one had ever monitored her progress. This was breaching the rim of ridiculous.
“Ma’am…” Aemilia’s voice began to waver. She paused and composed herself, keeping her tone firm, hiding her anxiety, annoyance and confusion. “You really should leave.”
There was something about the old woman, something that she hadn’t noticed before. Or perhaps it hadn’t been there. As she stood there in the opening of the alleyway, a small ray of moonlight cast eerily across her face, she didn’t seem to feel the cold, or any aching in her bones. She stood up straight, not shivering, not shifting. Her eyes were piercing, her arms straight down at her sides. She wasn’t the kind old woman Aemilia remembered from the tavern.
Her voice was flat and harsh. “I’ll be doing no such thing.”
The pressure of Aemilia’s sword against Rain’s neck lessened even more so than when she’d first seen the old lady standing there. Part of her wanted to kill him then, to escape the apparent wrath of her client. Part of her wanted to run.
A breath left his lips, and a few grains of hair floated slowly down, hanging almost vertically, in front of his eyes. But he didn't see that, he was focused on Aemilia's eyes, how they captured and held their prey within the tempting lock of eyes. He heard the slight shuffle of some footsteps, at the entrance of the alley. He exhaled again, his eyes shifted slightly, away from the assassin's, to a small pair of feet that had stepped out of the shadows. A small stone rolled away from the person's feet, it hit a bump, and ticked, mixed into the breathing and sounds of the night, it was drowned out. The assassin was too intent on ramming that sword through his neck to notice that there was a demon in human form approaching from the entrance of the alley.
Rain would have warned the girl, but no, she was bent on killing him, he was too hesitant. The vampire found himself once again at the edge of the black sword, pressing into his neck. Her hand gripped above his elbow, glaring straight into his eyes, her lips set in a position with which to whisper a soft and menacing 'goodnight'. Rain found his hand once again, pressed against the sharp edge of the black steel blade, ready to force it away for a second time. The steel pressed more, at the point of surpassing his skin. But Aemilia stopped suddenly.
"You haven’t finished the job?"
The assassin turned to the old woman, not letting her grip on the sword flicker. She took less than a second, as a slight breeze swept her hair. The snow white hair stretched out, embracing the wind. Aemilia regained her composure, and spoke words of response. Rain didn't hear, he was concerned with which demon was this. He sensed an immense amount of power in it, but it wasn't distinct. In accordance with Aemilia's lessening of her grip, the vampire let go of blade. He glimpsed it after he blinked. Three heads, slobbering tongues, four legs, making the demon stand almost seven feet tall, encased within the illusion of a short, old woman. Even if this demon did hire this girl to do their dirty work, she's just human, and wasn't supposed to be mixed up in this. Now that she hadn't finished her job, being the unforgiving wretches that demons are, they would kill her alongside the vampire.
Rain made a bold move. He stood in front of the demon's path, as her eyes began to glow white. Barely able to stand up straight after that devastating 'slash and rip' scene a few minutes earlier, he questioned the demon's wrath.
"Why involve a human, Cerberus?"
"I do not answer to you, Key Keeper!"
Within the span of that statement, her voice doubled, then tripled, becoming lower, equivalent to a low growl from a ferocious dog.
It was intent on taking over Aemilia's job.
"You push it any further, you'll go back to hell with one less head." The vampire spoke calmly, no sense of fear within him. But Cerberus attempted to add a little more to Rain's sentence.
"...with your blood and body on my tongues."
Rain took a step back, almost stepping on the assassin's foot. He had forgotten that she was behind him, and he turned to face her, taking her hand in his hastily.
"We need to leave, now."
She gripped her sword tighter. Rain wouldn't face the three headed hound, not now, not in this condition. He looked into her eyes, as his became crimson again, even more red than Aemilia's. He saw her eyes tremble slightly, her lips parted. They were once again engulfed in darkness. Gripping her hand tightly, he pulled her out of the black mist, away from the alleys and into the main street. He ran at a human's speed, so as not to hurt the himself or assassin if he ran into anything by accident. They stopped in front of the tavern, and, realizing he had held her hand with his sorry excuse for a tourniquet, he let go swiftly.
She spoke, but he didn't hear. Rain felt his mind swim, his eyes rolled. The ground came up to meet him, it seemed as if skies and earth shifted, then everything went black.
Rain wasn’t running nearly as fast as he had been before. It was a normal, human speed, and although he was grasping her hand, pulling her along just behind him, she could easily let go and break off on her own.
Aemilia stole a quick glance behind her. Even at this pace, the scenery was somewhat of a blur. She didn’t know where he was taking them, but trusted him a great deal more than the beast from the alley. That was quite a development compared to when she’d first met him.
Something, maybe common sense, advised her not to let go of his hand.
With what she barely recognized as a pang of guilt, Aemilia admitted to herself that this man probably didn’t trust her much either. She’d tried to kill him, and with no valid reason. It had become quite obvious during the previous events that the old woman herself had been a lie, which only left room for the assumptions that her claims had been false too. Rain Seraph was not a murderer. It seemed fitting that the creatures’ motives for wanting him dead were a bit more complex than that.
And she had been helping them.
He could have easily left her several times back in the twisting confines of the alley, but had instead dragged her with him to safety. Why not leave her to become the prey of the hounds? They seemed to have no had a problem with killing those that they weren’t hunting. But Rain had spared her that fate when she had only wanted him dead. She found herself contemplating how she would apologize if ever given the chance. Trying to take a life wasn’t the simplest of things to formulate an apology for.
Aemilia couldn’t look bring herself to look behind them again, for fear that the Cerberus would be right on their heels, three tongues licking three sets of lips, curled back to reveal countless fangs.
She nearly panicked when he stopped running, almost pushed past him and continued on, until she realized that they were standing in front of the tavern where she was staying, where she had received her assignment to kill him. The lights inside were dimmed, suggesting that only a few patrons remained. No usual sound carried through the closed door and windows.
In the cold night, in that brief moment of silence, Aemilia felt a slight sensation, like warm water rolling off her fingertips. Bringing her hand up from her side, she found that the water was red. Rain’s makeshift tourniquet was obviously failing him.
“Um, sorry.” It seemed that he’d noticed her hand as well, but it didn’t really seem the time for apologies.
“It’s okay, come on, let-“
She reached back for his hand again, as if, in some wave of insanity, he decided to stay back and enjoy the weather.
His hand wasn’t where it had been only a split second earlier, and as Aemilia turned around, nearly praying that he hadn’t abandoned her, or led her into a trap, she witnessed the final leg of his journey to the ground.
“No, please, get up!” It was said through clenched teeth as she pushed him back and forth, gently, trying perhaps to jostle him awake. It was more contact that she desired with a man she’d recently tried to kill, but it seemed that, for the time being, they were on the same team.
He failed to respond to her slight shaking, nor to the urgency in her voice, and so, in senseless desperation and with practice obtained while hiding freshly killed bodies, she took up his legs and drug him.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Aemilia muttered as she reached her destination, a door at the side of the tavern. The violent means of transportation were most likely not doing much to better his condition.
At that point, with two, although short, flights of stairs waiting beyond the door, she found it scarcely possible, nor humane, to continue dragging him up. Using the wall to brace them both she managed to lift him to an unstable and unconscious standing position, and allow him to lean forward, over onto her back. Although it proved to be a little difficult with the added wait, Aemilia managed to get the up no more than twelve stairs this way before she found herself in front of the door to the room she was staying in. With an urgency that bore no resemblance to terror, she fished inside her dress pocket for the key. Being inside the tavern made her feel quite a bit safer, but the slightly ridiculous fear that some demonic creature would be waiting inside the dark room kept her alert.
The hallway was, for the most part, dark, but a few strands of light from the bar room below managed to travel up the stairs, accompanied by hushed and ordinary conversation that gave the place a more comforting feel.
The door gave way to her key, and as it swung open she made her way inside, right to the bed in the corner of the room, and let Rain fall back off of her, onto it. She stood back and stretched for a moment, staring at him, examining his condition. From his appearance it was obvious that he was still breathing; his chest rose up and down in shallow but regular movements.
Aemilia sighed softly, glancing in thought and slight frustration out the door which stood ajar, just to her left. His wounds needed to be treated. Sympathy, guilt, her debt to him and the general circumstances obligated her to do so, but it would prove quite a task if he didn’t wake up.
Eyelashes fluttered, as the vampire's hand moved over them, unto his forehead, as if trying to caress and ease this headache that had seeped into his blurry eyes. He tried looking around the room, making neither head nor tail of the items in the shadowy room. A stream of slightly opaque white light filtered through a single window. Soft speckles of dust flitted in and out of the darkness and into the light. Rain exhaled softly, as he felt the soft touch of a hand against his chest. He looked up at the person, and not knowing who it was, but assuming that he had felt that same caring touch from somewhere before, from someone he knew closely from long ago, he called out softly, his voice barely able to lift from his lips.
His eyelashes fluttered, fighting the soft blur, to reveal two red eyes staring at him, trembling slightly. Narrowing his eyes, the vampire studied the assassin's face between the distortion of the blur. She rested her hand gently on his chest, and moved closer to him, bending over slightly, she whispered into his ear, a sweet, deceiving voice.
With those soft words, her hand pressed harder against his chest, and his breathing ceased, and his eyes shot wide open. She moved her lips slowly down to his neck, slightly touching it, and, reaching the spot her lips desired, they parted, her fangs lengthened. Rain felt her smiling lips as her fangs punctured deep, drawing the red from within.
* * *
Rain's eyes opened suddenly, expecting to be within the crimson soaked walls of Hades' chambers. But no, there was no blood, no screaming, no faces of pain etched into the walls. Nothing... It was just the same dark room which he had dreamt before. He sat up slowly, a soft cry of pain escaping through his lips and nostrils. Rain put his hand over the wound in his side, feeling the bandages that bound it tightly. He didn't realize that his shirt and cloak were off, until he saw them next to him, draped upon the bed next to him. He twisted slightly, grasping the clothes with his hand while feeling the scraping of the tightly wound cloth around the injury.
Struggling to stand up while quietly dressing himself, he looked across the room. Aemilia's head was tilted slightly, her eyes closed. She was breathing calmly as she sat on the hard wooden chair, her chest rising and falling slowly.
The vampire moved softly towards the window, a decision faced him as his eyes met the street below. Should he leave? He was in no condition to fight anything if he encountered danger out there. But then, if he stayed, she'd be in danger because of her involvement.
But then, she'd be in danger anyway.
The vampire had no speck of hatred against her, she was not supposed to be dragged into this war. And she had no idea who, or what she was working for. Rain turned his back on the welcoming light of the moon and leaned against the window sill. A soft ruffle of cloth had reached his ear. His gaze fell upon the girl, who's eyes were now open, looking up at him.
To wake Rain or attempt to move him would have been ridiculous, and so Aemilia took to occupying the small, wooden chair next to the window. It looked and felt as if it had just been brought upstairs to this room from a table in the bar room below, but it would do for now.
To the left of the chair, directly across from the door, was the simple square window through which a few strands of moonlight found their ways onto to the dusty wooden floor. To the left of the window, in the corner, was the bed where Rain lay, wounds tended to, shirt and cloak sprawled beside him like covers cast away during the night. His chest rose and fell in rhythmic motions, shallow yet always present. Fighting the slightly unwelcome fear that those movements would suddenly cease, Aemilia closed her eyes. She struggled for the smallest bit of comfort; a fight that found her slumped down a bit in the chair. Her head titled to the side, pulling her white hair over her face like a curtain as she gave herself away to sleep.
It was a light sleep, one stirred by nightmares, images of demons and the illusion of being chased. Part of her knew she was sleeping, and yet she still couldn’t escape the feeling of terror that bound her in her dreams. There was a sudden, anguished cry, one that could’ve been of fear, pain, or both. It resonated through the bends and turns of her mind, throughout her nightmare, and yet she heard it outside of her, subconsciously.
It was an odd feeling, being fully aware of the fact that she was sleeping, and yet still unable to open her eyes. Aemilia stirred and willed herself to break away from the fictitious terror she had fallen into. She forced her eyes open with a faint wave of relief and the strong intention of closing them again, which she followed through. However, in that second, in that mere span of a blink, Aemilia was suddenly aware of someone standing in the room. She opened her eyes again.
Rain was standing still at the window, looking out, the moonlight illuminating his features. His gaze seemed to be fixed at one location, and yet his expression didn’t suggest any particular intrigue with anything on the other side of the window. He appeared to be lost to contemplations.
Studying him, Aemilia shifted in the chair, the soft fabric of her dress murmuring against the rough, hard surface of the chair beneath her. Rain turned towards the sound; the room had formerly been shrouded in the thickest of silences. Oddly enough, it was only then, when he turned to her, that Aemilia realized he had dressed himself. It was then upon her that the cry she had heard in her sleep must have belonged to him.
“You should get back to bed,” she said. Her soft tone was more than sympathetic; it was persuasive. She would feel much more comfortable closing her eyes knowing that he was lying further away, in bed, preferably asleep. It wasn’t to say that she didn’t trust him. She did, to an extent, seeing as how he had saved her life, but she still wasn’t completely convinced that he was the safest of people to be sharing a room with.
“I’m fine, thank you.” Rain turned back to the window, away from Aemilia and her suggestion.
She spoke again, while she still had the courage and cared enough to urge him back to bed. “Are you sure?”
He responded with a nod and continued his surveillance of whatever happened to be outside the window. Aemilia sat up a little straighter, keeping her eyes on him.
“Well, you’re not leaving, are you? You really shouldn’t…”
“No, I’m not, not in this condition. But we’ll have to in the morning…” He seemed to lower his gaze a bit, resting forward on his hands against the window sill. “It’s too dangerous now.”
Aemilia paused before replying, running his words through her head, hearing them for a second time with the same inquiry pressing against her lips.
The complete circle of the moon was brittle, forced to be broken by a silver-gray cloud that forced it's way, breaching the outer wall of the once perfect sphere. The wind whistled, sweeping the streets accompanied by the night's eerie glow. Rain watch as the once silver cloud dissipated, the moon swallowing it up, and without a sound too.
Everything was quiet.
The shuffling of cloth, the soft murmur of people's whispers that tried to keep the night's silence intact, the wind causing the leaves to flutter like butterfly wings; all these things blended within the silence, becoming part of it. A black figure of a bird fled across the white of the moon. Rain could have scarcely made out what was a raven, it's feathers shimmered a dark purple in the pale light. But, a raven wouldn't be flying about this time of night, would it?
Aemilia's soft voice cut into his blank stare, asking a question which he answered softly.
"... It's too dangerous now." The vampire finished the answer to her question.
She slipped another question, softer, and in a monosyllable this time. The vampire turned to her with a gentle nod, and predicting the expression of inquiry she would have on her face after his gesture, he began to explain. He strode slowly over to the small bed in which he had his wounds tended by an unexpectedly soft touch of the assassin.
"That little old lady," He began, taking a seat on the bed, across from Aemilia, " 'she' hired you to kill me. You failed, and to them, failing is unforgivable."
The perplex look had fixed the girl's face as predicted. Rain continued.
"Those are... were..." Hesitation was on the tip of his lips, for slight fear of something he wasn't sure of, "... demons from hell. Finger puppets of Hades himself."
Rain's voice trailed off. His eyes were on Aemilia, but he wasn't looking at her. To provide an explanation for the oncoming answer to the question of 'Why?', Rain relayed an abridged version of how he became like 'this', and why he's being hunted now. He leaned back a bit, his story completed. A slight whistle developed from his throat as his once contracted wounds relaxed slowly, eminating pain throughout the surrounding muscles.
That's why they had to leave. If they stayed in one spot, they'd surely be found. The night befriended the antagonists, they were safe in it, which was why daylight was needed to make a collected and unhindered escape.
But why help the girl who tried to kill him?
She was dragged into this, fooled, manipulated into believing that Seraph was the enemy. And now, she knew the truth. Or, at least, Rain thought she did, and thought she understood it, too. The monotone of the night did not help the weighty silence in the room. Rain had closed his eyes a little. That episode within his sleep a little earlier, although slightly scary, made him realize how much rest was missed. He opened his eyes slightly and looked across to the assassin who held both her upper arms, rubbing them slightly as she breathed cold mist. The vampire got off and moved silently but swiftly over to her, taking off his cloak and gently draping it over her figure. Paying no heed to her red eyes and facial expressions, he moved back towards the bed, his torn shirt, smeared with blood, shone whatever white it had left, as if the colour was trying to redeem itself.
Rain stopped suddenly, his head turning towards the door. He displayed a slight wordless notion of 'stay here.' The noises floating up from downstairs disturbed the night's simple tone. Irritating the very darkness, the scraping sound from the bar below rose in volume. Rain's feet went gently on the floorboards, peeping around the corners first before stepping out. Reaching the bar downstairs, which was still lit slightly for anyone who came in during the night, Seraph heard the scraping sounds increase. Shadows moved outside the windows, swift and distorted. The door began to crackle under the relentless attack of shadow.
Without a second thought, the vampire bolted upstairs, bursting through the door. Aemilia was literally startled to her feet, letting out a soft cry as she did so. She blinked, and found Rain's arms wrapped around her tightly. A swift movement was all that was needed for the both to find themselves soaring through the air from the window of the room. The vampire landed lightly, sparing Aemilia and himself from a hard fall as she floated down after him, his hand grasping hers tightly. Turning to her, he muttered a slight sentence, ending it with a blank space for her to fill.
"The time of our departure has moved up, miss... um... "
“Aemilia,” she answered his indirect request for her name, trying to hide the shudder in her voice. Although Rain’s cloak, such a kind and unexpected gesture, helped to fight against the cold, she was shaken. It wasn’t often that she was truly frightened-she’d been through too much, seen too much to be bothered by most of the things that she encountered on her assignments-and when she was even the slightest bit afraid, she did her best to push her fear aside, to tell herself that she’d overcome the same, of even worse, in the past. But if Rain’s story had been true, then that was not the case. Never before had she dealt with anything literally demonic. Never before had she found herself tangled in the wars and motives of hell.
And after what she’d seen that night, she found it wise not to doubt him.
He gave a slight nod in response to the answer she had given him, and Aemilia thought for a moment that he had repeated her name under his breath, but it wasn’t at all the time to take notice of such minor things.
The night air stung and bit at her cheeks as he pulled her along again, clasping her hand firmly in his own. They seemed to be moving back into the alleys, away form the font of the tavern and the main street by which they had arrived. With a quick glance behind them, Aemilia found that the open streets behind them, in clear view of the moonlight, had become darker than the bends and sharp corners that lay ahead. Turning back didn’t seem to be an option, if it ever had been.
Aemilia followed him now in a manner that seemed almost willing. Her only other option was to be pursued as open game by Hellish creatures that she would have, without Rain’s explanation, known nothing about. She thought to herself that, had she witnessed the night’s events without his company, she most likely would have written them off to the deterioration of her sanity.
They rounded the first corner and were once again the modern labyrinth of the alleyway. He was moving at a normal, human speed again, perhaps to gain more of a feel for his surroundings, or perhaps as a result of the injuries he had sustained. Although a few unfriendly shadows slithered and scattered along the walls, Aemilia knew that the worst was behind them, not dealt with, but literally behind them.
It wasn’t a cheap premonition that was merely assumed; it was felt.
And it would be felt until the morning light shone, splitting the more natural shadows that devoured the town, and driving away the others that tormented them. Surely she and Rain would be overcome by then, for they were outnumbered by countless amounts, and those that outnumbered them thrived in the darkness through which they fled. The maze like atmosphere did nothing for them, and they would soon be cornered again, like last time, but perhaps with different final results.
They were falling into the same trap.
“Rain.” It was the first time she’d used his name, and in her urgency she found it fitting to do so.
Aemilia let go of his hand, and his recently slowed pace became a full stop. She formed her words quickly, not wanting to stall for too long, but they betrayed her, confusing themselves and idling on her tongue. Finally, and yet only a few seconds after she had begun, she spoke.
“It won’t work, running through the alleys. We’ll only be cornered again.
“And what do you suggest, miss Aemilia?” It wasn’t a snide remark at all, delivered with the sincerest of slight desperations.
Aemilia looked to both her sides, exhaling, nearly afraid to make a sound as she did so. Her searching gaze faltered for a moment before her scarlet eyes found the rooftops suspended eminently above them.
She called his name for the first time, the shudder in her voice shielded the sheer perfection of soft sweetness. Though this was not the time to notice anything of that matter. Her hand slipped out of his. Rain halted and turned to her, fearing that she may have fallen behind, swallowed by the jaws of darkness that the vampire feared so much. But fear was no longer an expression on this face. No, the fear had become an emotion that was weak enough to cast aside, nothing more than a speck of dust that needed to be swept off the surface.
The speck was blown away as he turned and saw Aemilia standing before him. She stuttered slightly, her words stumbling upon the tip of her tongue. She picked her words up, and they came out, not with the sturdiness that they contained when they first met, but with the quivering tone of a little girl's.
"It won’t work, running through the alleys. We’ll only be cornered again."
Rain shifted his weight; she was right. The alleyways were narrow, with dead ends and shadows waiting to swallow the foolish. He spoke plainly and calmly, no hint of fear or desperation in his words, hoping to sweep away some of the fear which was instilled within the red-eyed assassin.
"And what do you suggest, miss Aemilia?"
Rain glimpsed her quivering eyes as they searched around her. The moans and creaks of the shadows around them began to lengthen and rise in volume. The vampire's expression remained unchanged, but his heartbeat grew louder, overpowering the sounds of the outside. Aemilia's shaking red eyes reached towards the edge of the rooftops.
Rain understood immediately.
His hand found hers again, with a soft whisper in her ear.
Aemilia looked down, and saw the rooftop just a little way below her feet. They landed safely, but Rain didn't let go of her. With a quick tug, they were off again, scampering over the rooftops. The banging of their footsteps raised cries of protest and annoyance from within the buildings they trampled upon.
Rain stopped suddenly.
Aemilia bumped into him.
Then, without the slightest warning, they found themselves soaring over the street to a rooftop on the other side. Rain saw his passenger look down again, she let out a small scream and clung to him. The other side reached, they landed safely and slowly once again. Turning around, Rain looked at the starting point of the leap. His hand was still clamped tightly unto Aemilia's. He faced the assassin, who was breathing heavily, attempting to calm her racing heart. A small smile curved the corner of his lips and he spoke softly, but loud enough for her to hear.
Aemilia’s cheeks flushed to a color that mildly mirrored her eyes as Rain turned to her, reassuring her that she was “quite the natural”. Her blushed cheeks resulted not from his compliment, had it been caustic or sincere, but from her inability to mask her fear. Her small cry of surprise was more than suited to the scene of practically flying from rooftop to rooftop, but she scolded herself for allowing such an expression, especially while Rain, whom she’d only just met, showed no fear in protecting the both of them.
And how was he doing this? Were they flying? Aemilia reminded herself of what he had earlier explained to her, and what she had assumed long before then-that he was not exactly human-yet it had never occurred to her that vampires were capable of such things.
Then again, he was the only vampire she had ever met.
She responded to his approval of her “abilities” with an absentminded nod, muttered an awkward statement of thanks, and promptly shifted her gaze and attention to the sleeping city, strewn out like a dream-or nightmare-before them.
Before she knew it, Rain was leading them towards the edge of the rooftop once more, but as they’re time of departure from stability grew near, she stopped, jumped back, delaying all progression. Parallel to her feet, a living shadow slithered across the highest point of the wall beneath them, making frequent, brief appearances over the very edge of the rooftop. Near enough to the edge that she was almost unable to avoid doing so, Aemilia peered over into the alley below. The darkness trapped between the walls seemed to, no, was moving, swirling and dancing as if it were trying to escape the confines of the alleyway, awaiting their single mistake and quick plummet to an untimely demise.
From somewhere in the scarcely distant distance she heard the snarling and snapping of hungry jaws.
Aemilia was suddenly inclined to draw her sword, the action that had so often proven fit to warm off any threat. With a faint pang of annoyance and indecision she found her right hand, the hand that she was most confident handling her blade with, still clasped tightly in Rain’s. The firm grasp of his hand had gotten her this far, and it was with that realization that she folded once more to her newfound trust in him. He obviously knew much more about their current situation, and was in turn more skilled and experienced in handling it. Her pride was not worth her life.
But, looking at him once more, she wondered if his vampiric nature granted him immortality. The demons were able to harm him, but were they able to kill him as Aemilia was suddenly certain that they could kill her? And if he was immortal, did that lessen his regard and concern for his own life? It seemed to her that that would, in turn, with him so careless in the face of danger, lessen his regard for and saw away at the safety of her own.
Surely he hadn’t brought them this far only to feed her life to his own carelessness.
Aemilia forced a halt to her owl rapid, worried thoughts. The facts were simple. The leap ahead was a long one, and posed much more of a threat than the ones they had cleared before. And if they didn’t make it…
She willed herself not to look down again.
Staring him straight in the eyes, seeking action more so than reassurance, Aemilia spoke in a voice that did not waver, but had been quieted to the slightest extent by peril and fear.
Fear and desperation were both hinted in her voice.
There was something that had caught the vampire off-guard in her sentence. She used 'we're' instead of 'I'm'. All the years that Rain had lived, never did he detect concern for him in someone else's words. As far as he was concerned, he was almost a total loner. He hardly ever talked to anyone, and when he did, he said as few words as possible. The vampire shifted his feet uncomfortably.
What Rain did next was, surprisingly to him, an act of subconscious compassion. For some reason, he felt guilty for this girl being pulled into this. The vampire breathed, resting his hand softly against her cheek. He looked directly into her eyes as a few grains of his own hair fell before his gold irises. His lips trembled slightly, forcing the words to come, but they just wouldn't.
Why weren't they?!
They were in his throat, then at the tip of his tongue, but still no sound escaped his lips.
Seraph stared into Aemilia's crimson eyes, just waiting for the words to come.
There was a sort of pleading in her eyes, she was seeking positive reassurance from the one she had tried to kill not too long ago. Rain exhaled again. His thumb finger gently stroked her cheek, and without realizing it, he spoke in a soft whisper. For her, and her alone.
"No, we're not going to die."
And then, he said something that he hadn't planned to say. Something that was completely subconscious, but something he wouldn't regret saying.
"I'll protect you."
All this happened within the span of a few seconds, but in all that time, he had never broken his gaze with Aemilia's eyes. Time was wasting, but Rain was entranced in this small moment.
His mind snapped.
They're coming closer.
The vampire broke his soft gaze, and turned his attention towards the gap. Surely, his abilities would be able to make him get across safely. There was no doubt in that. But with Aemilia, the added weight would-
They're getting closer, Rain.
His mind interrupted.
Grasping Aemilia's hand tightly, he yanked her over the edge with him. He pulled her towards him, and held her tightly in his arms as the ground was moving below them. She clung to him as he whispered a soft string of words in her ear.
"Don't look down."
The vampire glimpsed beneath them, at the swirling and slithering shadows sweeping across the street.
Rain had set foot first upon the rooftop they had aimed for, he was holding the assassin in his arms in such a way that her feet didn't touch the ground until he gently let go of her. Now, taking her right hand once again in his, a smile slightly curved his lips once more.
"I told you," He started, soft as a whisper, "you're quite the natural."
Considering their situation, including the ominous task of escape and the catalyst and current extent of their relationship, Rain’s response to her request took her by surprise, if not also striking her as a bit out of place. At first Aemila had begun to doubt that there would be a reply, and in turn began to wonder if her request had upset him. Its surface had, she now hoped, appeared rhetorical, but in this hour of distress and confusion, it was reassurance that she longed for more than the sudden strength or wisdom to defeat the ever-churning darkness beneath them.
With their gazes locked once more, although in a stare that greatly differed from the ones shared upon their first meeting, Aemilia considered turning away, taking his hang and urging him to, once more, bring them over the barely metaphoric chasm. However, in the last seconds that she allowed herself to hold out for an answer, she recognized his expression as one of a man losing his words to the tip of his tongue. Rain collected them and spoke the phrase that the assassin had been inwardly hoping for. Aemilia exhaled softly, the first unconscious step in moving away from him, and yet as she did so she was suddenly aware of his palm resting gently against her cheek. His touch was soft, reassuring, and yet she forced herself to assume that he simply had more to say-that this was his hurried method of keeping her eyes on him.
It was then that Aemy found it rather difficult to look away.
For the first time, and she told herself that this was understandable, she noticed how handsome Rain was, lacking the often harsh appearance and sickeningly pale skin she’d formerly associated with vampires. His eyes were captivating, holding her in place, and a few fine strands of his jet black hair played freely in front of his golden orbs. His features were strong and defined, his expression stern and yet exhibiting a reassuring calm, and as she further inspected his lips she found their corners marked with the slightest, the faintest of curve lines, suggesting a charming, somewhat mischievous smile. A charming man, no doubt, she mused, but now was certainly not the time for such considerations.
“I’ll protect you.”
Rain’s words interrupted her thoughts and sent her careening off into a whole new endless thread. Had he honestly meant that? Did he want to mean it?
Although the current situation required them to work together, it only seemed to be for the time being, and they both appeared to have an equal parting the preservation of their places among the living. Even if, Aemilia considered, her part thus far had mainly consisted of a strong grip and cooperation she had never thought Rain to be responsible for her safety, never expected that he would even want to be willing to protect her.
But she wouldn’t deny the words, not to Rain nor herself. Something, perhaps his tone, made her believe them, and the reassurance and comfort that they offered her were not things she would easily give up.
As she found herself at a loss for a proper, or any, response, her hand was taken into Rain’s once more. They were approaching the edge of the rooftop at a speed that longed to leave her breathless, but she couldn’t escape the gnawing doubt that they wouldn’t make it across.
Even if she’d found herself able to speak, Aemilia felt that her voiced thoughts would’ve proved futile, and of course, any communication could only take place provided that she found her words in time.
But no matter. They were in the air, death below them, a solid savior just ahead, and yet it seemed that they were bridged to the next rooftop by infinity. Aemilia clung to Rain tighter than she’d ever imagined she’d be inclined to. He offered calmly in her hear advice she’d given herself as soon as they’d taken to the rooftops, but his words seemed to cushion her nerves.
As they reached their destination, infinity having proven to be pleasingly finite, Aemilia looked down, if only to mark the end of their endeavor. She would look down, but not behind them. Despite her relief at being back on something solid, even if it wasn’t exactly ground, her feet refused to contact the surface beneath them until Rain gently lowered her from his arms.
“I told you, you’re quite the natural.”
She began to shake her head in slight protest once more. This didn’t seem at all the time for him to be trying to charm her, and her modesty won the best of her, as it would have regardless of the situation.
A snapping of jaws from below, although now behind them, and it was with something resembling instinct that she reached for his hand, finding that hers was already safe in his grasp. She hadn’t realized, for this night had left it as almost second nature.
The leaps ahead of them were relatively small, causing much less anxiety on Aemilia’s part. The sky ahead and above them was paling to a royal blue, dark, but in welcome contrast to the black midnight they had since been shrouded in.
Although she oven glimpsed a mass of demons as they bridged a gap, the hungry swarms were beginning to dwindle in number, and they seemed to be driven back after scaling less and less of the vertical walls of the buildings, never threatening to breach the safety of the rooftops as they had before. Aemy found it quite obvious that they were leaving them behind. Despite any familiarity with the alleys or comfort within the darkness, their pursuers were still forced to navigate around corners, buildings, across side streets to merely catch a glimpse of she and Rain as they covered equivalent spaces in seconds.
The demons were already unable to join them at such heights, and the sun had not yet offered even a single ray. Aemilia wondered how long it would be before they were forced back down to their depths, their permanent darkness.
Exact units evaded her, but the slight ache in her chest moaned an eternity. With something just short of regret, she recalled the fact that she hadn’t much practice in running like this, much less jumping endless gaps between city structures, even if the only work she did in that area could be described as holding her breath. She was only more than used to tailing her victims slowly, slyly and, above all, inconspicuously, dealing a quick death and abandoning the scene rather calmly. Her body described the current means of escape as torture, but it was, of course, an exaggeration.
Nevertheless, how long had they been running?
With a slight tug on his hand and a barely loosened grip, Aemilia caused Rain to stop and turn to face her with an inquisitive expression. She spoke with an ease and fluidity that surprised her.
“They’re dying down. Isn’t it okay now?” The phrase was punctuated with a glance at the ever-paling sky. Not quite an early morning pastel, but promising. “I mean…I assume that they can’t come up here anymore?”