Gone--he was gone, just like that, and she hadn't even really noticed the moment that he'd left. There had just been... his voice, and then it faded away, and she was left standing in the hall amidst the crowd of passengers hurrying through, but still somehow feeling very alone.
Cadenza started to walk back through the halls, barely conscious of her own steps, letting her feet guide her through the thronging people with the instincts that came from traveling through a lot of big cities. She dodged suitcases, and weaved between arms and elbows, like a salmon trying to swim against the current. When a door swung open in front of her, she blinked back to the present for a moment, seeing that the two figures who'd stepped out were not just walking by her like the others.
When her thoughts finally caught up with her eyes, she realized the two figures were Tiffany and her mother, leaving Rain's cabin hand in hand.
"That's the lady who helped us!" Tiffany cried, her hand slipping out of her mother's to point up at Cadenza as a bright smile spread across her face, showing two missing baby teeth and lots of joy.
Mrs. Miller looked over the woman with a sort of half-smile, half-gape, that seemed to have a little hint of "You're not what I was expecting..." to it. She nodded in recognition and gratitude nonetheless, and held out a hand to shake Cadenza's. "I'm... truly grateful for what you did for us, Miss. Tiffany told me of how you and the man that had been with you looked out for her as best you could, and how you comforted her back in the store..."
The gypsy shook the woman's hand gently and withdrew her own quickly back, folding her arms as she glanced back down at Tiffany. She felt a little uncomfortable about the way the older woman kept looking at the feathers in her hair, and the weapons she carried... it was like Mrs. Miller was worried about what kind of person had helped her and her daughter. Did that have to matter right now? Sure, Cadenza knew she was no angel, but she'd genuinely just tried to help them...
Tiffany was still smiling up at Cadenza, a look of admiration in her eyes. Mrs. Miller gently tugged on the girl's hand a little, and started to step past the gypsy. "We should really be going to our cabin, I'm afraid, before the boat takes off from port again..."
The mage was going to leave things at that, and just take the experience as another reminder as to why she never bothered sticking her neck out for most adults, when something the woman had said brought an image back to her head. Their cabin. It was in ruins right now... all stained and ripped up... many of the things they had brought with them had probably been lost or destroyed in the struggle with the demon. Mrs. Miller... Cadenza didn't have too much sympathy for, but Tiffany...
Tiffany spun around right away, wriggling a little out of her mom's grasp. She looked at Cadenza expectantly, her little face lighting up again.
"Here..." the mage said, pulling something out of her pocket that gleamed brilliantly even in the dim hall lights, "...take this. It should be enough to replace... any possessions that you lost during any of the... excitement... on the cruise. I don't need it, so..."
The watch plunked down softly with a little clink! in Tiffany's delicate hands. Her small, warm fingers wrapped around it, smudging the shine as she breathed a small gasp and opened the clasp that kept the inside of the watch shut.
"You're...you're giving this to us?" she asked, her eyes wide in awe. Her mother came to look down over her shoulder at the gift, and gasped a little in a way that Tiffany had obviously picked up from her.
"We... lost enough... to need... a new gold watch, with gems ins--?"
"--don't worry even if it's more than enough. It's not something I want to carry around. Ah... please, just hold onto it for now. If you feel bad about selling it, you don't have to... I'd just... feel better knowing you had something to make up for whatever you lost."
Mrs. Miller was about to say something in return, but the gypsy had already begun to walk off, her boots thudding quietly into the room they'd come out of. She looked again at the watch in her daughter's hands... and saw the tiny needle moving about, shaped like a feather, around the amethyst in the center...
"I... think it's really a compass of some sort, dear."
"It's following her, Mommy. See? It moves where she goes. I think it's magic."
The woman thought back to the feathers... and to the scant few flashes of memory she had of the past few hours... just who had been those people who'd helped them, really? "I... think so too..." she whispered.
When Cadenza came back out of the room, lugging a bag of Rain's things and now bound for the store to retrieve her own, both mother and daughter had already left. She continued on down the empty hall, with a thoughtful look hanging about her just as visible as if it were a cloud over her head...
OoC: This post turned out longer than I realized. XD
And then, the sound of shattering glass filled his ears, followed by the ringing of an alarm. It was painful, but he had to concentrate. One person, smashing the pane of a window to a jewelry store and just grabbing up items and shoving them into his backpack—Not much planning went into that at all.
The robber quickly found himself being pulled backward by the collar. He dropped his loot when he suddenly slid backward, and then dropped his backpack when a pair of needles sank into the right side of his neck. The man faltered, his mouth open with a silent gasp.
He slumped down to the ground soon after, not dead, but in shock. He put his hand on his neck and wriggled away from his attacker; the one with the glowing golden eyes.
“Next time you do something like that,” his voice tore through the darkness as he wiped the blood away from his lips, “I’ll drink the rest, understand?”
The man nodded quickly, a small squeak coming from his mouth. Rain took up the backpack and the scattered jewels and threw them back into the store. His fingers picked up a simple necklace, inlaid with a few small rubies. It’s just pretty, he thought, and grinned for a second, “I’m sure they won’t miss this,” he turned around to look at the robber, “right?” But that man had ran and in the distance, sirens began to close in.
When the gypsy reached the front counter of the shop, not only was her bag of clothes awaiting her, but a message as well.
"Mrs... Valentia, right? There was a very urgent message left here for you earlier, which I had to write down...urm...somewhere... on a paper here because I did not quite understand it, and..." the young clerk trailed nervously off, disappearing behind the register to rummage around for his note, and leaving Cadenza to ponder what this sudden and important "message" could be.
The first conclusion she immediately jumped to was that it was from Rain--it wasn't far to jump when her thoughts were already circling around him--but then she reminded herself that him leaving her a message on the ship would make no sense. He'd left the ship--why would he bother coming all the way to the store to leave a note, especially when getting himself some nourishment was so much more important? That idea had obviously missed the line to pick up some logic on its way to her attention.
But... if not the vampire, then who?
All her wondering was cut short by the re-emergence of the awkward young clerk from the behind the counter. "The message w-was, and I quote, 'The Fisher's in the city, and he has his Bait.' The person p-put special emphasis on the 'The' and wanted to make sure I knew 'Fisher' and 'Bait' should be capitalized and... why do you suddenly look so worried, Mrs. Valentia? Your eyes went kinda wide for a second."
"...Who left you this message?" Cadenza demanded, ignoring the boy's questions.
He looked from the fist she'd just slammed down on the counter, to her blazing blue eyes, and anxiously back down to the tightening fist. He knew he was supposed to stay calm and professional with the customers... but he couldn't help letting a muffled gulp escape his mouth. "W-well it was some tall blonde lady in a white dress... I... I kinda felt faint when she first came, but someone said she had an expensive-looking firefly pendant on too that I didn't notice... do you... know her?"
The gypsy's eyes had gone wide for a moment again at the mention of the firefly... it didn't seem as if she'd heard the clerk's last sentence. When he blinked again, she'd seemed to have just vanished--as if she'd melted into her own shadow or something. But she couldn't have... his mind must have been playing tricks on him. He chalked it up to the stress of a long day, and went back to business.
In the shadows, Cadenza was rushing, bags in hand, towards the port city.
He was making his way back now, leisurely; in not much of a hurry. He had not taken very long to find what he was looking for; Cadenza was probably just leaving the port by now.
Rain’s mind wandered as soon as he thought of her; a small smile crossed his lips. He didn’t know how to describe this attraction, but it felt wonderful; his heart skipped a beat and he felt like singing for a moment. Ah…I’d like to do that for her, but I’d like to do it with a piano, if I could, his smile grew wider. “I wonder if she’d like that…” he thought aloud.
Rain stopped walking for a moment. What was he thinking…? Did he really like her that much already? His hand was in his pocket, a thumb running over the surface of one of the rubies. Why had he really picked this up? He looked down at the ground, beginning to walk again, Ah…maybe I shouldn’t give it to her yet…
OoC: *nudges any readers towards Cadenza's rewritten bio from a little while ago if they're confused about who this "Fisher" guy being mentioned is* I'mma try to explain him more here though.
IC: The Spirit of Life must've left me that message as a warning before she went off the ship entirely... I...I'd hoped I wouldn't have another run in with Death's idiot lackey for a while... thought that if I left where they normally found me, I had a shot to catch a bit of peace for a little while... and yet now here he is somewhere in this city, waiting for me.
Cadenza had already had two run-ins with the being called the "Soul Fisher" in the recent past--one was their first meeting, which she still couldn't really tell how much had been a dream, and how much had been a very unpleasant and unexpected reality--but the other had been a bit more explanatory. The gypsy had known from the moment she first saw him that he was going to be no friend to her. What she learned about him, though, was that he was the gypsy Spirit of Death's way of getting to her where he himself couldn't--the material world of the living. Death could only go to those people who were dreaming, or about to die--but this "Fisher" that he'd created, by using magic to separate a small part of his own soul into a new being--this little old man could enter into the world with a physical body and take care of tasks that rules and limitations prevented Death himself from doing, albeit he was much weaker and lacked the Spirit's knowledge.
The Fisher, quite literally, "fished" for souls. He carried a magical fishing rod, which could expand or shrink at his will, and "hooked" people's souls like fish caught on an actual fishing hook. Then came what he'd describe, with an eerily calm smile, as the "fun" part--he yanked the person's spirit from their body, killing them in one swift, agonizing pull like a much more severe way of tugging a fish out of water. After that, they waited for Death to come along and claim the "catch"...
The last thing Cadenza was ever going to let happen to herself was ending up in that dumb old man's "catch".
And so, every fisherman and salty, old sea-loving type the gypsy passed as she made her way off the docks was treated to a suspicious glare and a moment's sudden fright when the woman's hand came to rest on her dagger's hilt and her lips curved slightly in the hint of a scowl. She didn't trust a single one of them, young or old, not to be the Fisher in disguise--he could look just as normal as any human in the physical world, and the only forewarning she'd get if he really wanted to sneak up on her was the sound of a fishing line being cast out when he tried to "hook" her--not exactly a noise that'd stick out as being strange in a port. If she wasn't on her guard, she knew even she'd never notice him coming.
The thing that was troubling her the most though, even more than the idea of not being able to hear the Fisher coming, was this mention of "Bait". Just what the hell did he mean by that? she kept worrying. He took things pretty literally--and since humans were his "fish", that meant it was going to be something that lured a human--that much was plain. But what kind of "bait" was he going to use?
Cadenza didn't want to let the thought spring to mind, but she just knew she couldn't deny the very likely possibility that the Fisher was going to use some kind of live bait... and that only made her glare at passing fishermen and sailors even harder as her step quickened and her hands tightened even more firmly on the handles of her bags.
He had just barely arrived back at the port; and he was right, too. He spotted Cadenza among the tourists, hurriedly moving among them and glaring around at every fisherman, young or old—Yes, that was her glare, alright. But why was she doing that? Did she hate fishermen? Did she dislike fish? Maybe it could be the latter, just because of what had happened on the ship before.
Rain smiled, having second thoughts about not giving it to her. He thought she deserved it, she did destroy the demon on the ship without any help at all; and had saved Rain, Tiffany and her mother to boot.
“ ‘Denza…!” he called out to her without evening thinking about it. Swiftly, he moved closer to her, and before he knew it, he was standing right in front of her. He smiled, and took the necklace out of his pocket, about to show it to her.
Suddenly, he heard something whiz passed his ear, as if a fishing line had been cast from right behind him. He felt as if a needle had been plunged into his back; there was a small gasp as the necklace clattered on the ground.
She'd turned to see Rain coming towards her, and her worries had faded away for a short moment when he smiled at her, his eyes... did they seem to light up? At... the sight of her? Maybe that was just the sun... or her hopes playing around with what she saw, but... her heart felt like it skipped a beat all the same.
Maybe it wasn't just some fleeting thing when I was helping him stay up back there... maybe, he does feel a little... a little something...
He was pulling something out of his pocket, and she was waiting, with bated breath, to see what it could possibly be when she heard the sound--the line being cast, zipping by, flying towards its target. It didn't register in her mind right away--it was just the hint at the edge of her awareness, something that made her tense, until... until Rain let out that little gasp, and whatever he'd been holding clattered to the floor.
Her breath came to a screeching halt then.
The scarlet glint of the rubies shined in her eyes, but her gaze was locked on the Grim Angel's form, dangling from the fishing hook of a little old man standing on the roof of an inn. Even from this distance, she could see he was smiling--grinning at her. He tipped his big straw hat, and pulled the fishing rod up, waving the slightly-dazed Rain around.
"What do you think, Shadow? Good bait?"
Cadenza couldn't find words at the moment--or rather, she had found some words, but... they weren't ones she wanted to shout out to the world. ...What do you want to hear? That... for that moment there, it felt like you'd hooked my...my heart?
"Now, I can trade this in for a bigger fish--the one I came for, you--or, I can just take away this one's soul here and wait for the bigger one when her time comes. As you know, Shadow, fishing is all about patience!" the little man giggled, waving Rain around again, just tickled pink by the anger he could see boiling up in the gypsy's gaze. "Make your choice, and make it good!"
“Now, I can trade this in for a bigger fish--the one I came for, you--or, I can just take away this one's soul here and wait for the bigger one when her time comes. As you know, Shadow, fishing is all about patience! Make your choice, and make it good!”
Like whispers accompanied by echoes, that’s how he heard them. But that made him sure that he wasn’t dead, or unconscious, just slightly dazed. He was well aware that he was being tossed around like a doll—a valuable piece of bait to lure in the larger prize.
He fidgeted slightly, on the end of the line. This was no ordinary fisherman, of course, but Rain had never seen or felt anything like this before—it must have been something or someone from her world.
His body shook abruptly as he was dangled once more in front of the woman.
Rain raised his hand and grasped the line tightly before using the opportunity to land effortlessly on a wall and stay there. The Grim Angel tugged the line hard, tugging also on the Fisher’s surprised expression as a menacing grin, fangs glistening, crossed his lips.
Bet he’s never had his bait fight back before.
“… You’re going to trade me in for the bigger catch… Is that so…?”
There was something odd about the person, Rain observed, oddly familiar. There was a sort of…distortion about it and a gloomy, decreasing dark presence about him. It was as if… he was looking at Death itself—but it was something entirely different.
“The bait at the end of the line…” Rain tugged again, but harder this time, “…isn’t some kind of minnow. You’ve just hooked a shark.”
Worry flickered across the Fisher's chubby, wrinkled face for a fraction of a second. Then he glanced over towards Cadenza, and he reverted back to his serene little smile, with his eyes half-closed, like he was looking at some pretty little vista painted on the inside of his eyelids that only he could see.
"That may be so, that may be so," he said, grinning at Rain and holding onto his fishing rod a little tighter as it seemed to glow, "but the second most important thing in fishing is to fool the fish--and so long as I have you hooked, I've done that. I may know you're a big old shark, and you may know, but as long as Shadow doesn't, she won't lay a finger on me for fear that I'll reel you in."
He grinned again, showing rows of yellowed teeth, and a dark sort of hollowness inside beyond them. He looked almost like a Buddha statue as he stood there, rotund and happy, still smiling even though Rain was now resisting his tugging and swinging of the fishing line. As long as the man was hooked, he felt confident that he had the upper hand.
"Would you like me to toss him back?" he yelled out a little louder, to Cadenza. She was still standing where she had been before, seemingly running through her list of options, with a glare burning in her blue eyes. Somewhere in the back of that anger on the surface... there was fear... and concern... but she let the anger shine through the most, hiding those other two. She didn't want the Fisher to see that she was afraid of becoming part of his catch, and... she was anxious about letting Rain see how worried she was, because well... he was already in a bad situation, and that would just make him feel worse...
...There's... got to be some way to actually hurt the Fisher before he gets the chance to yank out Rain's soul... the guy has no organs, he's just a part of Death's spirit in a shell, so... it won't be easy, but... there's got to be some way...
OoC: Sorry that is post is so meh. <__<;; *having some trouble writing lately*
Rain looked at Cadenza, mostly at her eyes, as the man with the rod and the straw hat spoke to her. He could see anger blazing behind her blue irises, but…there was something else, too… Perhaps, she was worried? That could be it; but there was no need to her to be worried. Couldn’t she figure out from Rain’s reaction alone that the Fisher was only bluffing…? Maybe she didn’t see, didn’t want to see; or she knew that Rain had no idea what he was dealing with.
“You’d be bad at Poker, old man,” Rain called out, hoping that Cadenza would hear him.
This time he tugged on the line hard, as if to pull the old man off the roof. But at the same time, Rain leapt towards him, his fingers now curled around his signature swords, Night and Gale.
All of a sudden, his figure blurred and disappeared. The wind picked up and rippled behind him as he sped beyond sight, appearing swiftly behind the Fisher, baring both swords down on him; the line still attached to his back and shimmering as bright as his slit purple eyes. The wind rippled around him, forming slithering vacuums that tore the shells of bricks and paint off of the surrounding buildings.
"You’d be bad at Poker, old man!" Cadenza heard Rain call out, and she could see him nearly pulling the Fisher off the building, blurring out of sight for a moment as two swords appeared in his hands.
What... what does he mean? He thinks the Fisher's... faking somehow? Bluffing? But... Rain has no idea who this guy really is... what he can do, and--
--the woman's thoughts were cut off by the sounds of shingles being torn off roofs, the wind whipping up around the docks and rustling the few trees. She looked up again--and caught a glimpse of Rain reappearing behind the old man, his eyes gleaming a brilliant purple. But at that moment, the reel from the Fisher's pole fell away, and the wood turned to metal--another line split off from the main one, and at the end, the ball of a mace appeared, its spikes glowing darkly. He was finally changing his weapon--showing that it was no ordinary fishing rod. It could morph as he needed. A wide grin spread across his wrinkled face.
"Now it gets serious," he said, cackling in a giddy way.
Rain tried to move again, but the line he was on was taut, and stronger, and the Fisher himself seemed stronger now--his grip on the fishing rod was tougher, his stance on the building more stable. He swung the pole around once, sending the vampire flying, and the mace-head on the attached line flying after him like a ball following another in a Newton's cradle toy--one struck into the other with the force of inertia. The spikes dug a little into Rain's chest, and knocked him into a wall, sending bricks flying.
Cadenza had seen enough--a cry escaped her lips, and her cutlass shot into her fingers out of the shadows.
The spikes dug into his chest, but they didn’t go all the way in; he had swiftly moved the shorter sword in the way to stop its progress, resulting in only nail-sized wounds under his clothing, which healed up extremely quickly. As for the pain searing through his back and the bricks falling on his head…
A shout cut through the dust and his line of thought.
Through the clouds of dust, he saw the Latina call out her sword from the shadows. Was she intent on attacking this man? But…she couldn’t! Rain knew that neither of them was in the old man’s league, just from that tiny blow. At least he could try to drive him off, but if Cadenza were to get hurt…
Rain quickly batted the spiked ball towards the old man, pushing out of the hole and pulling himself toward the Fisher using the taut line. The old man swung the ball around, but Rain had simply just vanished from its path at the last moment. The wind around the Fisher picked up, and his hair rustled in the wind.
His hair… Where was his hat, now? That odd little straw hat that he tipped so annoyingly when addressing either one of them.
“I don’t think you understand exactly who you’re dealing with here.”
But then again, neither do I. Rain stood a little way off, the man’s straw hat hanging on the blade of his longsword, skewered by it.
There are only a few people in this world who can possibly drive him off—let’s send out a message to one of them; we move separately sometimes…I hope she’s nearby…
Rain tugged hard on the line, gritting his teeth, as if he wanted to pull the Fisher off the building.
“This tight leash just might be your undoing, Fishy.”
Originally Posted by me, above
“I don’t think you understand exactly who you’re dealing with here.”
The Fisherman just cackled again, his beady little eyes focused not on Rain, the supposed threat before him, but on his target, Cadenza, who had slunk into the shadows, and he could feel approaching.
That was the thing about this guy, Cadenza remembered--he could go into her realm, his weapon could travel into her realm, he could track her even when she was there. She was just recalling this when the Fisher materialized another weapon--a harpoon of sorts, glowing in a different way from the fishing rod, and it plunged into a shadow, piercing through into the realm just a few feet away from where she was. It was yanked back up and then thrown in again, just like as if it were being used in the sea, and this time she had to dive away, blocking it with her cutlass. The harpoon, as she learned before, wasn't like the fishing rod--if it caught her, the barb on the end couldn't pull out her soul--but it'd impale her and keep her from running while he used the pole to do the rest, and that was just as bad.
I can't... even get close enough to try to cut Rain free... and... if I try to attack him directly, he'll just catch me with that harpoon...
When the spearhead tore through again, lunging towards her, she knew she had to come back up. The Fisher's weapon was ripping up the realm, with no regard for what it might affect. And this was still her responsibility...
The gypsy reappeared on a rooftop, away from the Fisher who was still too distracted by Rain to be able to give her his full attention. The Fisher... he may be pretty strong, but he still answers to somebody. He's still just an underling. And when his boss shows up... he's supposed to leave, and leave everything to him...
Rain would be safe. Everyone around here would. My world's Death couldn't take them, their souls don't belong to him, and... I... I think I know a way to keep him away from me for now too...
She glanced up at Rain, her cheeks a little pink. It would just be to protect herself, she could say later. He'd held onto her earlier too...
"Morticus," she called, putting down her sword.
Rain, she knew, had no idea what was going on then. But the Fisher knew perfectly what she had said, and what it would do. The Spirits were formerly humans, as Cadenza was an example of, and they all still had their old names they could answer to--if you called one by that name, you were summoning them--they had to come and answer your call. Plenty of people called the Spirit of Life to look for help, just as many would call the Spirit of Water begging for her mercy, but very rarely had anyone ever shouted Death's name. You didn't seek Death.
But Cadenza was calling him now. "Morticus!" she yelled again, sounding impatient.
The fishing rod in the Fisherman's hand faded. The harpoon faded--and his grin faded. The hook disappeared from Rain's back, leaving only a small mark that started to heal.
Soon the only thing left of the little old man was the straw hat, still skewered on Rain's sword like a shish-kebab. Another gust blew through the docks, colder this time... the blue sky ahead slowly faded to gray, losing its liveliness and color...
Rain reached around, passing his finger over the healing cut. The hook had gone deep under his skin. He was really caught like a fish for a while, wasn’t he? He glanced at Cadenza who was looking up at him. The world around them turned grey, the docks became lifeless, the sky grayed and a thickness filled the air. The wind picked up, grabbing up the straw hat as Rain let it slide off the sword.
Something was coming…but Rain’s mind wasn’t entirely on that. In the blink of an eye, he was beside her, holding the necklace he had dropped earlier.
“Thank you,” he said softly, smiling—he knew that whatever she did, she didn’t really do it for her: she wasn’t the one being swung around like a wrecking ball, and she reacted when he took the first hit. She was ready to attack, then.
“I don’t know what you did, but it worked… Who’s Morticus, by the way…?”
At that moment, the earth beneath them started to shake. A massive amount of blue light washed over the area, seemingly distorting everything it touched—it picked cars off the road, and was on the verge of uprooting all the poles along the sidewalk. The sea reacted violently as well, tossing waves around with no order or form. Waves rose up from the beach and crashed into others that were coming from the horizon.
It was a short while before things calmed down, and a gold-eyed, gold-haired figure stood out from amongst the bleak background.
“Rain?” Raisha looked at him, and then at the lady at his side, “I’m sorry, I must be late.”
Rain smiled at his sister, a small amount of pink appearing on his cheeks, “That’s okay,” he looked at Cadenza, “Cadenza, meet Ms. Seraph.”
"M-Ms.... Ms. Seraph!?" the words came out far shakier than Cadenza meant for them to, and it took her a moment to remember to stop staring and blink. When she finally did, she couldn't stop, her eyes darting from Raisha to Rain and back again. How could he? This lady, she... she couldn't be... not after... she'd just called Death here for Rain's sake, and he was...
"...wait a second, you said Ms. Seraph, didn't you...? Zorlo... told me you had a sister. And, now that I think back, I've met her before, and--what were you trying to make me think!?"
She rose up a fist to punch him, but felt a little awkward about it with his sister standing right there looking at them. Cadenza just grumbled instead and let her hand fall back down to her side, beginning to feel a little self-conscious with both their golden gazes upon her, Rain's amused, Raisha's perhaps a little puzzled.
"I... erm... I was only upset about that, because I... thought..."
The woman was saved from explaining by the telltale sound of bones clicking along on pavement, coming towards them. She shivered a little as another cold wind blew by, and the Seraph siblings seemed to exchange a meaningful glance with one another.
"...I... didn't get a chance to explain who Morticus was, did I...?" she said, wondering if repeating his name yet another time would quicken his approach any more. No, no, that was silly. That was... fear talking, as much as she hated to admit it. When she glanced down, she could see how brightly her amulet was gleaming--it'd been working especially hard to keep her going on the boat, and now, in the presence of Death himself... did she have anything else to cling to for safety?
W-well, I suppose I still could...
The click-clacking of the bones grew closer, the sky darkening to a deep, cloudy gray overhead... there was a hazy, tall figure at the end of street now, holding a scythe and staring ahead out of black, empty eyesockets in a pale white skull...
Cadenza felt another shiver run through her petite body... this time, not from the cold, but from the feeling of death-related magic being so close... it seemed to tug at your soul a little, trying to coax it out...
Acting before thoughts or embarrassment could get in the way, the gypsy threw her arms around Rain, hugging him gently but snugly, trying to keep her eyes on the dark figure up the street instead of watching his face for a reaction...
"I'm sorry... but with him coming, this is the safest place for me right now... I hate to get you and your sister involved, I'm sorry, but... I... don't want to let him take me yet..."
She snuggled herself closer to him, trying to ignore the burning of her flushed cheeks, trying to ignore how she knew Raisha must be staring at her right now... just feeling guilty for putting Rain through all that danger with the Fisher before, getting him tangled up in that when the old man had just been after her because she was too much of a coward to face him, and... also feeling relieved that Rain was still here, and he was okay now, and that she could hold onto him like this again...
"Unlike the last guy, he can't hurt or touch either of you... you don't belong to his world, so... please, don't worry..."
Rain glanced at his sister, and then at the woman in his arms, and at Death’s silhouette that came upsettingly closer to the three of them. He turned his eyes to Cadenza, staring at her for a moment before putting his arms gently around her, and with his lips to her ear, he whispered.
“It’s alright now,” he closed his eyes, “and… I won’t let him take you.” He held her tighter against his chest as the clicking of bones got closer and closer before finally coming to a halt.
Death’s jaw clicked, looking at the scene in front of him.
And at the same time, Raisha began walking forward, her eyes glaring deep into Death’s sockets; she walked passed Rain and Cadenza, her right hand moved to the back, gently moving aside the red cape to reveal the handle of her zanpakuto. She was ready to pull it out at a moment’s notice; she didn’t even blink.
There was this... blonde woman, standing there between him and Shadow. Death wasn't sure who she was supposed to be, but she was staring intently at him, poised to draw a weapon. Did she think she could kill what was already dead long ago? Or... harm the Reaper of a world in some other way, without causing mass chaos? If there was no one left to claim the souls of that entire world, the balance would be horribly thrown off...
No, there was nothing she could do. She probably didn't realize that, but he knew, and that was all that mattered. He came here to get someone, who'd been foolish enough to call him here--summoning him to the world of the living when normally he couldn't come unless they were close to death, and now...
His eyesockets, not as empty as some said, because they couldn't see the blackness burning deep inside them, a sign that his soul still remained somewhere... their gaze fell upon Shadow, in the arms of... some man.
"This is... the first time I've seen you not just hide behind the amulet that man left behind," he said, in a voice like a thousand stones dropping from the ceiling and echoing through a mausoleum. "But don't you think it's time to 'put out the light' and move on, Shadow? 'I have finished with all earthly business, and high time too. Yes, yes, my dear child, now comes death.' "
The gypsy just looked defiantly back at him, as she always would, and clung tighter to Rain, her cheeks red, and... Death couldn't help but noticing, it being his trade, her eyes and just her whole manner more full of life. He'd only ever seen her angry, or stubborn, but... here was another side. When the man had put his arms around her, whispering whatever he had in her ear, color had rushed to her face, and she looked as if she felt... safe? Content? Trusting that as long as he held her, she'd be okay?
It was a very different look than he was used to seeing... where normally, he'd find her more like the blonde woman, who still stared evenly at him, waiting to act if the need arose. Death could see, for the time being, that he could not pry Shadow away from these people...
He turned to leave, pivoting on his long, bony foot, his scythe cutting open a black tear in front of him like carving a door between worlds. He left Shadow with a quote, as he always liked to, " 'We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.' Ponder that one for a while, hmm? I think you may have found something already, Shadow. Enjoy it while it lasts."
And with those words, he left, feeling the blonde woman's golden glare on his back until the very last.
Cadenza knew Death had gone, but it still took her several moments to make herself let Rain free from her tight embrace, and her gaze shot down immediately to the floor when she did, staring bashfully at anything that could keep her from having to make eye contact with him. She fidgeted with the chain of her amulet, saying in a soft voice, "Th-thank you for... letting me hold onto you... and... keeping him away."
Rain smiled at her as she looked down bashfully; it was easy to see that she was embarrassed, or she wasn’t used to clinging to someone so tightly. She fidgeted with her amulet for a tiny bit before Rain’s fingers gently caressed hers; he opened her hand and placed the ruby necklace inside before closing her fingers over it.
“You don’t have to thank me,” he whispered in her ear again and gently brushed his lips on her red-tinged cheek, planting a small kiss on it.
He looked at her for a few moments more before glancing upwards, toward his sister, who had seen them, but paid the actions no mind and just kept walking.
And then she stopped.
“I’ve seen you before…” She looked at Cadenza.
“Ah…I think some reintroductions are in order, here,” Rain grinned, “Cadenza meet my sister, Aisha. Aisha, meet Ms. Cadenza Madrigal.”
A small smile crossed the blonde’s pink lips as she extended a gloved hand toward the Latina, “Hello,” she said, “I’ve seen you in Chinatown, right?”
She was aware that Raisha had said something to her, but she was still stuck back in that moment, when his lips had touched her cheek, her warm red cheek, and he'd slipped those... those rubies, really? Yes, he'd... somehow managed to come upon a necklace with her favorite stones, not even knowing it, and had placed them in her slightly trembling hands. She found herself wishing she had the bravery to lean forward and... thank him how she wanted to then, but instead she just looked down at the beautiful gems again, and smiled a little.
"What... what are these for?" she whispered.
She blinked, realizing then that Raisha's gloved hand was still waiting for her to shake it. Cadenza took it slowly, trying to keep her own hand steady and finally meeting the woman's gaze.
"Ah... Chinatown, yeah. What was left of it after that, anyway. I remember Broccoli Head introduced us for a moment... it's... erm... good to see you in a better condition than back then."
There--she'd managed to somehow speak without sounding like a flustered idiot. She withdrew her hand back, breathing out a small sigh of relief.
Raisha smiled slightly at her, turning around, beginning to walk away. "I need to relax," she spoke calmly, "I didn't intend to let out so much power just now." And with that, the blonde-haired woman began moving towards the ship that Rain and Cadenza had been on when they met.
"I'll see you soon."
She disappeared into the crowd.
Rain was standing behind Cadenza, looking at the Latina. She looked shaken--of course, almost anyone would be after calling Death itself. With gentle hands, the Grim Angel softly pulled her closer, hugging her from behind.
"Thank you for saving me," he spoke softly, "Let me treat you to something... you need to relax, as well."