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Old April 23, 2011, 02:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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To Judge the Innocent [Private, self-mod]

[Timestamp]
8 Aperitus, Era XVIII P.F.

People are able to hold on to hope,
Because they cannot see Death standing behind them.


He did not kill on command. He wasnít a dog to be sent out to do his masterís bidding, playing deaf and dumb until told to cut down and destroy. He wasnít some mindless animal that remained chained to an immortalís throne with an iron-clad choker and no will of his own.

He killed because it needed no reason. Once upon a time, he had tried to wave it away as something just and right, maintaining that he only killed those that had long given up their right to life. He destroyed ghosts and had felt no remorse when his sword had ended the breath in their chosen mortal vessels. In truth, they had died a long time ago; he was merely placing them back where they belonged into the pits of the Umblat that would swallow them whole. There was no sin in bringing a protracted judgment that had been determined long ago down upon their heads. It wasnít murder. It simply was a delayed response.

That hadnít lasted long. Too many sleepless darkenings had kept his mind wandering and loose, probing into all corners of doubt he kept in his restless mind. He knew the truth, of course. He knew that he was doing precisely what he swore he would not do, that he was becoming that which he had vowed to destroy. He was serving the interests of Jalat by swelling his pockets with more lost souls passed over the great void of mortality, and, what was worse, he didnít care. It was just a means to an end.

That was where the thin veneer of justice he had created for himself slipped away. That was the moment when Shiro Shimizu admitted the fact that he killed to kill and for no other reason. The dead, all those that slipped from this life into the next at his own hands, stood in accusation, and the judge, that great, blind figure of justice, remained silent in her verdict. He had called this upon himself. By seeking to understand the devilís ways, he had become the devil incarnate without even noticing the change.

But it was for a purpose, he reminded himself. It was for a purpose. His hands clenched tightly together at the thought. It had to be for a purpose, and it would be. For their daring presumption to meddle in the affairs of mortals, he would destroy those that declared themselves gods. He would break that line of immortality to which they clung so dearly and let it shatter, exposing the weak, pathetic, and meaningless beings underneath. He would show the entire world just how misplaced their faith had been and he would see the end of the divide between good and evil, mortal and immortal, and let all know the utter lack of distinction between either case.

And this brightening would be another step on that path. He would see to that.
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Old April 23, 2011, 03:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It was never quiet here in Secyclion. The replacement of the suns with moonlight only amplified the cacophony the island’s citizens produced. The sounds were different; the noise reluctantly seeped through the crowds, as if aware of just how dark and wrong its sources were. But that didn’t stop them. They grew louder, bolder, and more forthright about their doings in the darkness, as if the small curtain of privacy its lack of light availed was enough to hide any sin, no matter how tremendous.

It sickened him, this misplaced confidence that they found to envelop their depravity. They thought that if they couldn’t see the consequences, they didn’t exist. He had dwelt on this island long enough to have seen judgment come to even those who ran the furthest. At times, he had been that instrument. That realization disgusted him more than any sin or twisted act that the Secyclids could have done. He hated the fact that he had fallen directly into the hands of the gods he so despised, but there was little choice in the matter. What was done was done.

His pace quickened. The last few rays of sunlight drenched his face and brought up a reddish glow to his cheeks that combined with the small beads of sweat forming the edge of his hairline, the only strands of white still left exposed to outer view. The hood of his tan cloak covered the rest. There was a gentle thud that combined strangely with the sound of his feet pacing the ground, but he paid it no heed. It was natural now. There was no escaping it. This burden was self-created, and he knew fully the guilt that realization caused and the pain that would never cease to sear itself into his mind.

Now he was nearing a jog. His knowledge of the island city’s layout had increased to an almost natural, instinctive state over the eras of his residence here. Without thinking, the Kemite boy turned sharply to the left. He didn’t try to justify these compulsions anymore; he didn’t even try to explain them or discern from where they came. He simply accepted that he was to move here or to change there, and such was life. To play a piece on the board was his fate; to do as his gut required was his destiny.

For now. Just for now.

Small slits of turquoise formed underneath pinched brows as he stared forward, intently looking into the growing shadows for any sign, any indication of who or where or what would find its end this darkening. There was never any premeditation in what he did or where he went. There was never an actual plan or thought put into play before the moments took their places. It was a fall of the dice or a tumble of the dominoes, being made of chance and nothing more.

Chance was a fairer mistress than fate could ever be, and in that, was his rebellion.
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Old April 23, 2011, 05:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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There was a doorway to the right. Even in the dim light of the sunset he could distinguish its arched outline and the shape of a wrought-iron ring fastened at its knob. His pace slackened and he approached warily with one eye fastened on the houses exterior and the other sweeping back and forth over the surrounding road. From the looks of the architecture and the direction of the sea, he had to be in the Neos Megalis district. He could hear the gentle rustle of standing water and the house’s upraised foundations provided a hidden cobweb of passageways underneath the city’s architecture.

The boy stopped just around the corner from the house and pressed his back tightly against the nearest plaster wall. His face pinched as he peered toward the nearest window left open to the spring sea breezes. He couldn’t make out a sound from inside; the abode seemed abandoned with the onset of darkness. There wasn’t even the flickering light of a candle indoors; the shadows had grown and covered every orifice with pitch black darkness instead, as if Shiro had found the one single house on all of Secyclion that was used for sleep underneath the moons.

His attention was jerked back toward the road. He could hear noise somewhere underneath the next building, deep in the basements. It was slight and barely audible, but he felt it pull on his mind like fingers clawing at his very thoughts, begging him to take notice.

And he did. With another surreptitious glance back at the closed doorway, the boy shrugged his cloak further over the white crown of his head and ducked underneath the nearest building. The initial going was slow; the water was still lapping in the recesses. He wove from side to side, opting to hop as lightly as he could between still-exposed rocks to avoid the muddied, stagnant water. He looked up quickly. The sound of pained moans was becoming clearer now; he could make out the feminine tones in the voice and the rustle of something in the background. A loud thud collided next and the female cried out in quick succession and causation.

His pace quickened. The boy’s hands instinctively tightened as swung to the right, catching sight of an open cavern cut into a stone wall with a staircase leading upward. Its once-locked door had been left ajar. Its chain and padlock had been carelessly left unconnected on the side of the doorway. He didn’t pay it, or the warning that he was intruding on private property, much heed.

He could make out voices speaking in quick, flowing Euensian seeping through the doorway. He slackened his footsteps to the barest of treads on the staircase, rolling all his weight forward and moving with slow, deliberate motions one step at a time up the curved ramps. It only went up about half a floor in elevation before the firelight from the side lanterns grew intense and illuminated the entire space, casting flickering shadows on the pavers below.

He didn’t know why he was here. He didn’t know what his purpose was here. But he was here, and that was it.
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Old April 23, 2011, 06:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Footsteps made delicate music against the stone walls and echoed back and forth, side to side. His hands slipped up and pulled the hood down around his neck, revealing the colorless strands of hair bedecking the top of his head and the gleaming fabric-bound grip of his katana bouncing just over the ridge of his right shoulder. Instinctively, his hand began rising up toward the revealed weapon strapped diagonally on his back. It was his soul now; it would have to suffice in place of the one he had lost long ago.

Stretched out against the curved plaster walls, the boy’s eyes first caught sight of the darkened outline of the doorway that signaled the end of the staircase. His sense of hearing came next; the pained sounds from the female voice echoed out again and crashed down the passageway, growing louder with every passing moment. Someone was being beaten. In his life before, his sense of justice would have been inflamed at the mere thought of unwarranted violence. Now it was a mixture of curiosity and the compulsion to end another life this darkening – deserved or undeserved.

He knelt forward and crept through the doorway. He instantly darted to the left with his head lowered over his hips and his feet padding quickly across the ground. From all appearances, Shiro had entered a middle-class Secyclid’s wine cellar, complete with barrels and bottles bedecking each and every wall. The roof hadn’t been finished but left open to rafters and heavy beams to hold up the stone making up the next floor.

His eyes alighted on a particularly thick and roughly-hewn beam halfway covered by the level of the wall. A loose, thick braided rope held the heavy chandelier that hung from the ceiling before being tied around a rusted knob. The Kemite boy glanced up. The row of barrels on his right were large enough to hold one of his small weight and size easily, so long as he could manage to match them in elevation and swing over across the emptiness.

Another muffled scream punctuated the room. Some sort of gag made it little more than a pathetic whimper. The boy could feel every muscle in his body tighten. He’d end someone, something, tonight.
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Old April 29, 2011, 12:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It shouldn’t have bothered him. None of this should have bothered him. None of this should have been his concern. The drive, however, was there, and he couldn’t deny it. It was Agar’s doing; it had to be. That would-be prophet of the Black God had done something to incite this growing fire in Shiro’s soul the moment he had commanded that he end the life of that sickly boy on the swing in Narim. He had done something to twist Shiro to this point, to derange his mind and soul and heart into this utter madness that had beset him over the past era.

Or maybe it had always been there. Maybe he was always like this, always this torturous, smoldering ruin of what had once been a human being, Aeternia-bent on destruction of everything good, evil, and in between. He was chaos incarnate, that terrible being that the common Aelyrians named Jorel and feared to the very foundations of their being. He had become the eye of the storm, decentralizing and demolishing everything in his path.

That was all the reason he needed to exist and all the logic that needed to be employed to explain his actions this darkening.

With a quick spring, the boy leapt from the ground and grasped with both hands onto the rope above as high as his momentum would allow him to reach. He twisted both feet around the rope and, using the rough edges created by the threads’ braid as balance, began pulling and crawling up with head leaning backward and knees bending up and down with every slow, smooth motion. His ears were constantly listening and his eyes darting from side to side, ensuring that no one had noticed his entrance nor marked his movements.

The crawl was slow but the distance short and soon done. He released his feet’s hold and used the sudden momentum to swing like a pendulum to the top of the nearest row of wine barrels. A dull thud sounded with impact, despite his best attempts to soften it by spreading out his hands in both directions and thus lowering his center of gravity over a larger surface area. He instantly froze. He couldn’t lose the element of surprise; not yet.

There was that daring, expectant moment of silence pouring into the room next as the course of events teetered on a needle’s point. Then it all broke loose. A clatter of sandal-covered feet and a cacophony of quickly-spoken Eunesian words exploded in a sudden flurry of activity as the room began to echo with the islanders’ movements. They had heard. They knew he was here. And they were coming to find him.

The game was up.
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Old April 29, 2011, 09:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Crouching down, the boy’s eyes turned anxiously in the direction of the footsteps. His hands still remained outstretched to either side and waited expectantly for either eager escape or frantic defense, whichever would soon be required. His hood had fallen loosely down about his shoulders and the revealed star-shaped guard gleamed in the low candlelight, serving as warning of the murderous intents that floated in his mind this darkening.

Shiro hadn’t noticed its giveaway, though. His attention was still too caught up trying to catch the first sight of his would-be attackers to prevent being taken unawares. His green eyes darted from side to side, trying to use the elevation he had gained from his perch atop the barrels to his fullest advantage. They were moving fast, but their pace was erratic: a clear sign that they were far from trained at the arts of combat. The sound separated, indicating that they had opted to split up to search.

That was a bad choice.

He rolled his weight onto his toes and then began to creep as silently as he could along the top of the barrels, being careful to stick to the very top of the circle where it flattened the most. His hands were still busy being used as ballast and thus kept from their usual instinctive grab for the hilt of his sword. It wasn’t time for that yet. He couldn’t be too hasty. He darted a quick gaze down along the canyons on either side of his chosen ridge and, content that none had yet taken his path, kept moving.

Just before the edge of the wooden barrels, Shiro stopped. His hand rested lightly on the corner with the barest hint of his fingertips folded over the edge. Peering downward, the boy let his neck crane and his head fold over, constantly turning side to side and up and down the rows, waiting expectantly. His mind knew what would come next; his heart was ready. He could feel the very fibers of his muscles grow tight with expectation at their coming use. The adrenaline was pounding on the sides of his temples. His spine pricked up like an alley cat casting its threatening shadow.

He didn’t have long to wait.

Unsuspecting, a Secyclid came rushing down the row with flying ends of his light toga and a long pole crossed in front of his chest, held by both hands. He was sweeping gazes left, right, and forward, but never up. In normal circumstance, the islander would have the clear advantage by his much greater height and weight alone. But Shiro wasn’t about to let his be a normal circumstance, for he was very far from a normal combatant.

His weight shifted forward again. His feet rolled onto the very edge of their toes. His hand released its hold on the barrel and began the slow, deliberate swing back behind his spine with its opposite to create enough momentum for his flight. His turquoise eyes were now fastened on the approaching figure, gauging his pace and measuring his stride until he was just barely behind Shiro’s position.

And then it would truly begin in earnest.
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Old April 29, 2011, 10:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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One narrowed gaze measured for one last time the Secyclid’s approach as closely as it could. One swing of his hands changed the pendulum of his balance. One lift of his feet made the boy forever leave behind the stability and obscurity that his high perch had offered. One tightening of his legs plunged the point of his heel forward as he hurtled downward, trying to pinion what it would of the other man’s flesh or perhaps even break bone, and do as much damage as it could within the first instant of collisions.

There was a satisfying crush and the echoes of collision that reverberated through the boy’s much smaller form as the force of gravity and momentum combined to add exponentially to his weight. As soon as the edge of his foot hit, Shiro was already springing off to the man’s side with arms spread and hands dragging on the ground to catch the last bits of motion in the wrong direction and grind to a controlled halt. His knees were bent low and his weight was pushed forward as he crouched down just barely off the stone ground below, using a spread hand like a tripod to hold up his weight.

The man hadn’t a chance to respond. The instant he and the half-Kemite collided, he lost his breath and the wind was cleanly knocked out of his lungs. There was a crack of bone hitting the ground hard and an instant sharp pain in the very middle of his back along his spine, warning of the beginnings of a huge bruise and accompanying lesion as the skin broke and cracked too under the force of impact. His chin collided first with the ground and thus carried all his weight, dislocating his jaw in the process. He was stunned, surprised, and otherwise helpless.

The boy dug his toes into the ground and again sprang forward, using every inch of his coiled legs to propel himself forward with all force and haste. His fingers, too, were used as springboards to force himself toward the Secyclid again before swinging forward and shaping into fists just before running into the larger man. The first hand hit right above the islander’s kidney low in his back; the other flattened and pushed hard against the back of the man’s skull, forcing the front of his face down hard into the ground once more with a snap and pop of the top of his neck.

The third and last attack came from a bent knee place directly into the small curve of the larger man’s back. What little strength the islander had mustered was quickly squashed again by the quick onset of Shiro’s movements. Blood sprayed out of his broken nose and began soaking out the back of his light toga in a heavy, sticky stain. The staff he had once held onto in hopes of its defense had now been his undoing; it had shattered due to his fall and the serrated ends dug into the soft flesh of his belly, creating what would easily turn into a mortal wound if not treated soon.

Content that the man was fully incapacitated and growing weaker with every passing second, the boy slowly and carefully extricated himself from the man’s back and rose, with head still tucked forward and green eyes peering into each and every corner. He looked left once, then right, then up, before striding quickly forward to turn the corner around the end of the row.

One down, and however many more to go.
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Old April 30, 2011, 11:11 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Flattening his spine against the vertical edge of the barrel’s side, the boy now let his ears do the investigative work and his eyes simply watch the ground for approaching shadows. His first target had been dispatched with relatively quietly, all things considered; the suddenness of the attack and the added surprise and force by leaving his perch had seen to that. Those were, however, elements that Shiro no longer had in his possession. The rest would have to be dealt with in more mundane means, as long as he could manage to find them.

The soft-padding feet sounded like a herd of wild beasts in the thousand echoes the room’s rounded ceiling created. It made tracking their movements confusing, at best, and impossible, at worst. Still, chance favored the more methodical mind. He stood completely still just out of sight of the fallen Secyclid, listening intently between the sounds of the man gurgling and drowning on his own blood for a hint that another of his fellows might have seen and come near.

He didn’t have to wait long.

The first distinct sound of rushing footsteps came from behind the boy: a direction that he hadn’t anticipated. Turning his head in the direction of the onrush of sound and pushing his cheek flat against the wooden boards, the boy let his hands instinctively clench together again and his weight slip down over slightly bent knees. It was the aisle next to him now that echoed with movement, over to his right. They wouldn’t see the body until it would be far too late.

A heavy man, from the thick sound of his pace, and not very well kept from the heaviness of his breathing, was approaching the young half-Kemite. Good. Both would serve to his disadvantage. Lowering himself carefully along the barrel’s side, the boy crept to the very corner of the row’s end and cowered over bent knees, just barely off the ground. He measured each step carefully, using the sounds to assume just how fast he was traveling and just how much ground he could cover with every new swing of his feet. Timing wasn’t as much of an issue as it had been with the previous islander, but with caution Shiro could, at least, still keep surprise on his side.

The Secyclid was just a few more steps from turning the corner. The boy inhaled slowly, letting his lungs fill with all the life-granting oxygen they could carry in preparation of their soon-to-be exertion of effort and strength. The toes of his feet rolled forward again; his opposite left leg shifted most of the weight off to the right and had extended just slightly out from his position. His legs were already tensing for the inevitable impact, intending to be literal stumbling blocks to utilize the man’s weight as his downfall.

They’d all fall. It was their duty as mortals to fall. They’d all fall in the end.
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Old April 30, 2011, 12:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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One more step and he’d be close enough. He just had to come one more step.

Counting down the fragmented seconds, the boy waited until the larger man would be just starting to change the course of his direction. Quickly, he swung out a large arc with his opposite leg, using his fingers curled into the barrel’s edge as ballast and the toe of his right foot as the fulcrum. His left leg extended to its full height and, with his weight depressed, braced for the collision of the man’s weight while stabilizing his own.

He was just a moment too early.

The Secyclid saw the foot, but not quite in time to stop. His bulk was constantly and irrevocably moving forward. Still, he wasn’t quite at the right angle. Shiro’s foot caught him in the very middle of his pace and had his foot already up at the top of its arc. The first thus missed Shiro’s own extended limb. The second, however, wasn’t as lucky. The larger man’s toe caught on the edge of the boy’s ankle and, as expected, began the awkward, flailing descent downward face-first with the loss of his balance.

There was a moment when their eyes met: the cold, piercing green of the Kemite boy and the surprised, shocked hazel orbs of the islander. It was a dichotomy of purpose. One was keen, intent, and concentrated at the task at hand, reacting and reacting again as a fast-paced chain of events hitting off each other in predictable collisions. The other had been taken unawares and was growing more frantic by the passing moment. Maybe he was a slave too or maybe a paid mercenary to protect his lord’s goods and property.

Or maybe he was just an unfortunate soul caught in the wrong moment at the wrong time.

The boy finished his body’s natural arc and matched the heavy-set islander’s fall with one of his own. He quickly jumped down hard knees-first onto the man’s back and, with a hand flattened, pushed his face down into the floor to muffle any sound that dared to squeeze out of his lips. It wasn’t enough, though; the force of the fall and the brief moments between sighting Shiro and falling face-first had been enough to let loose a yell caught in a strange mix between surprise and pain.

Grimacing with annoyance, Shiro released his grip on the Secyclid and quickly picked himself up. He darted a glance back down the row and before backing up and disappearing around the corner, sprinting as fast as he could. It’d be a good few minutes before the fat Secyclid managed to recover, sound a further alarm, or present any other type of threat, and in those few minutes, the diminutive human could quite easily manage to disappear amid the rows of storage and the lengthy shadows they cast.

So he ran. With all his power, he ran. Dodging the still-bleeding islander, the boy sprinted as fast as he could back down the row and around the corner to put as much space between him and the results of his actions to plan his next move.

Or, at least, as much as he would.
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Old April 30, 2011, 02:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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His feet flew. His mind raced even faster. He was thinking a million different thoughts now, trying to plan out where and when his next attack would come. He had lost the power of the unknown now and he couldn’t bother to care if they heard his approach. The cards were flopped and the battle lines were clearly drawn now with nothing kept hidden or stowed away in one’s sleeve. It was now time to adopt a much more direct approach.

Whirling around the end of the row, the boy’s hand reached out to grab the barrel to both facilitate a sharper turn as well as absorbing some of his momentum. He stopped suddenly. His back hit hard against the uneven wooden planks behind, but he didn’t care. A sharp pain dug into his side just above his hip, drawing his attention downward in his momentary lapse of movement. Already a small stain of red was beginning to form on his shirt from seeping blood underneath. He frowned and gingerly touched it with his fingers to try to assess the damage.

He had been too slow. He wasn’t quite good enough yet. That would have to change.

Pricking his ears, Shiro used his own pause to try to measure the movement of the others. Now the footsteps had quieted to a pair, at most, that were still walking fast through the rows. He couldn’t tell exactly where; the echoes were too disorienting. Still, they hadn’t stopped. That either meant they hadn’t found their fallen comrades yet or they just didn’t care enough to check on their conditions. It also meant that the last fat man the boy had felled still hadn’t managed to get his bulk off the ground.

The boy smirked. People were always so insistent that they cared about their fellow man. They liked to believe that banding together in a society somehow made them moral, just, and right. And they loved to assume that they could protect the helpless and the weak. At the bottom of the matter, though, they were no better than animals. Self-preservation was the only universal precept that every mortal carried and even that was based on the false idea that they had some right to live.

That idea he’d soon rid them all of: first those here, and then Telath at large.

Footsteps came near again and just close enough to distinguish. From their echoes, their author was at least two rows away and approaching quickly. It was a lighter, more agile step now, warning that this opponent would require a slightly different approach than the last two.

The boy’s hands tightened. He glanced once more at his side wound and pressed two fingers hard against it. It wouldn’t do much to stop the bleeding or alleviate the pain, but it was all he could manage for now. A long, careful sigh escaped his lips as his fingers pushed just a bit harder. It would have to hold on for now. There was still work to be done.
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Old April 30, 2011, 03:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Waiting, he counted down two more footsteps of the newest approaching figure before he swung himself around and quickly dodged down the row. It was coming from his left; that much he could tell. Where, exactly, and how far this target was, he couldn’t quite discern. Keeping one hand still pressed hard on the side of his waist and the other outstretched and swinging to try to keep what little remained of his balance, the boy skirted from end to end of the wine barrels, trying to spend as little time as possible out in the light and stick to the shadows instead.

He stopped two rows further down the side of the room. Pressing his head and back flat on its edge, Shiro waited. He listened intently to the pattering footsteps to try to pick out the one closest to him. It took a moment, but he heard it. This pace was significantly lighter than the others and it was moving faster and more directly. Green eyes turned quickly back over his left shoulder. The fat Secyclid was grunting and spouting out words in Eunesian now between spittle and gurgling blood. He would have to be dealt with later.

The boy’s weight slunk down again as he waited, listening. It was close now. His knees bent and the boy tensed, ready to jump. He would have to take a different tactic now; the pain emanating from his side and the tenderness swelling in his legs was warning that he couldn’t take much more abuse. He would have to move quickly and effectively with what little energy and strength he had left.

He waited. They were close now. It would be just a few seconds more at most.

First around the corner came a splash of blonde hair left long and free, a choice that hindsight would prove to be ruinous. Second came the sight of another tall makeshift quarterstaff that had clearly been more appropriately used as a broom handle. Third came the delicate face of a young Secyclid girl, tanned and worn with eras spent out in the Eunesian suns and already starting to show the lines of a difficult, wearying existence.

He didn’t hesitate. There wasn’t time.

Shiro swung around as fast as he could, using all the momentum he could gather as centripetal force. His free fist was clenched and aimed directly above the girl’s hip, connecting with the soft, empty space just below the ribcage. He wasn’t done, though. With a quick reorientation of his arm, the half-Kemite boy swung his elbow about to slam into the side of the girl’s waist, hard. The blow would add incredible pressure to the area of her right kidney and cause enough of a shock to keep her from screaming.

Another rough push from the boy’s opposite elbow was aimed at her other side, but this time forced itself forward with the intent of throwing her in the same direction, flat onto her back. Shiro’s lack of height worked to his advantage; his head was far removed from any danger her makeshift weapon would have presented and thus kept all his blows low and steady from his centralized point of gravity. She was no fighter and fell easily. The sickening thud of skull against stone assured the boy that she would prevent no further threat for a long span of time, but he pulled back and placed a hard, heavy punch in the center of her face just to make sure.

It was one of the few things of which he could be sure.
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Old April 30, 2011, 09:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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He had eliminated two of the footsteps’ sources entirely, and one more was still, for all intents and purposes, incapacitated. That made tracking the last series of echoes a very simple task as the room had died out into a silence that was only punctuated by the heavy breathing and low moans of those he had laid to waste. There was very little left to extract his fury upon this darkening; this task was nearly finished. The time of final judgment was at hand.

Slowly, then, the boy’s right hand stretched up over his same shoulder. His fingers grasped eagerly at the thread-woven hilt of his katana, letting the blade sing in the lightest and most high pitched of tones as he brought it out of its sheath. It gleamed in the torchlight and the copper star functioning as its guard glowed a pale, dangerous orange in its reflection on the ground. Now it was time to finally and utterly end this.

There’d be none left to mark his entrance.

With a dangerous purpose glinting in his turquoise eyes and the heaviness of his stride, the half-Kemite boy walked around the end of the barrel back toward the girl’s fallen form, watching her intently. An unruly strand of white hair had flung itself over his face as warning of just what sort of undead specter had visited them this darkening. The end of his katana hung at a straight angle from his arm, just high enough to avoid scraping along the ground but no more.

The fire pouring out of his gaze would have been enough to consume the flesh any lesser mortal. It was an anger he had learned from the pits of Aeternia itself when their ilk had dared to come up from their dark abodes and endlessly meddle in his existence. He had faced demons. He had slain ghosts. And in it all, he had become little more than a wraith himself, striding this strange balance of life and death and the eternity that stretched between. To the latter would he be sending these souls this darkening: tokens to the Ferrymaster to keep his own reckoning far away at another time.

The girl was still stunned and coughing up blood. His last strike had managed to break her nose; shards of bone protruded from the surface of her skin. There was blood underneath, too, seeping from the back of her head. She was too delirious to react, though, from both the extremity of her injuries and the loss of blood and simply laid there, prone, half-dead already and losing more of her grip on existence with every passing moment.

She wouldn’t even be able to mark the time of her death.

Without the slightest hesitation, the boy strode near and, pulling up the edge of his sword to shoulder’s height, plunged it downward with both hands and the added force of shifting weight into the proffered center of her heart. There was another loud gasp and a quick inhalation of breath, her last. Her eyes widened and filled with the last image that their mortal veins would see, staring incredulously at the child that had brought about this grisly end.

And then her hourglass expired. Her last grain of sand fell. Her time on Telath was done and she was sent to the hands of the Dead God to torture or spoil as he pleased.

And the boy moved on, immovable.
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Old April 30, 2011, 09:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
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A trail of blood followed his every step now like the haunted memory of his sins. But Shiro Shimizu didn’t pay it any heed; he never did. The crimes he had committed would be judged when his own time to pass over was finally come, and they would damn him to the very last fragment of his being beyond all recognition or chance at redemption. There would be no grace for this one lone figure that lived in the fringe of dark and light and that held allegiance to no god, no man, and no cause or moral. He would be obliterated, and then he would finally rest.

But not now. Not yet. His task was not yet completed; his war was just barely started. There would come a brightening when he would have to reconcile his conscious to the pain and devastation he had caused, but not now. Not yet. For now, he was an unfeeling, unthinking wraith and caused havoc where and when he willed by some code that only he understood. That was his task: fighting on the very front of the battlefields and working his way through the ranks until he stood at the tents of the masterminds of this mortal struggle, finally prepared to slay them in their sleep.

Just like he would slay these bodies this darkening to reunite soul with its eternal, undying form.

He didn’t run. He didn’t dart. He didn’t even hurry. There was an utter, deadly calm in the boy’s frosted composure and still-fiery eyes, daring anything or anyone to step across his path and try to shake his resolve. It wouldn’t, couldn’t, be done, not this darkening. Shiro’s hand clenched a bit tighter around the hilt of his weapon as he let it trail behind again, waiting expectantly for the next life it would take.

He strode heavily down the row and turned the corner at the end, approaching the figure of his first victim. He hadn’t moved since Shiro had first fallen on his back, but the boy had to be sure. He glanced up once through strands of colorless hair at the sound of moving footsteps, but the distraction didn’t last long. The last live figure in the room, besides the bound voice that had originally caught his attention, was scurrying backward toward the other side of the room. He’d have to hurry if he wanted to catch him before he disappeared into the rest of the house.

Shiro’s pace picked up and with the same quick, nearly effortless motion, let his katana slice through the air and pinion the Secyclid’s body against the ground. He waited until he felt the very tip of his blade connect with solid stone before withdrawing it again, now washed with red, sticky liquid anew. The half-Kemite’s gaze turned over his shoulder as he stopped to listen for the footsteps again, trying to mark their trajectory. He had to hurry.

So he ran.

There would be no survivors this darkening.
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Old May 14, 2011, 09:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Feet pounded. Echoes rattled off walls and floor. It was a dance that had no script and a song with no words, but both predator and prey knew what the inevitable end of this struggle would be. The former picked up his pace to ensure that such a conclusion came; the latter ran erratically, desperate to do anything to prevent it. It wasn’t even a battle of wills; it was, instead, a conflict of instinct on this small, otherwise invisible scale.

There wasn’t even the barest hint of bloodlust in the young boy’s visage; he didn’t even seem to enjoy the carnage that he was leaving in his wake. His expression was, instead, purely apathetic and almost pained, as if the burden his yoke put across his neck was growing much too heavy to bear. It wasn’t guilt, though; there wasn’t the barest hint of remorse. It was simply as it was: existing, being, and nothing more.

Just like he was nothing more.

The boy’s head bent forward and his pace picked up again, close to a near sprint. He tilted his head to try to track the running Secyclid’s footsteps, but the echoes his own created were making the task difficult. Shiro’s eyes glanced up toward the ceiling again and, alighting on yet another rope anchoring a candle-laden chandelier above, though briefly of trying to climb back up to an elevated perch but quickly put the idea away. No, there wasn’t time. He just had to play to the good graces of chance.

His head lowered again as he plowed around the corner, using his low center of gravity to anchor his turn. It did not, however, prevent his feet from slipping slightly against the pavement. He could feel his balance drifting. Instinctively his hand swept down into a pivot point on the floor, trying to keep the side of his leg off the ground and swing around on his opposite foot.

It wasn’t good enough; his speed was working to his disadvantage now. Tilted too far off vertical, Shiro’s feet couldn’t grasp any sort of hold on the smooth planks of the floor and he slid sideways as his feet completely lost contact. Frowning, he was already mentally berating himself for his mistake while his hands flung out in all directions, desperately trying to grab onto something, anything, that might stop his fall. His grip on the katana loosened with impact and the weapon scattered to the ground, sliding somewhere off to the side.

Then he hit something, and his momentum stopped.
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Old May 19, 2011, 12:22 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The matter was soft, but he still felt the shock reverberate up his entire spine. The boy grimaced as he felt muscle and bone give way to the sudden change in both momentum and direction. His knee bent forward at an uncomfortable and unnatural angle; his hands were still grasping at the floor, only finding unending smoothness without the slightest hold to maintain his balance. He could already feel his skin rubbing raw, rough, and scratched to peel away the harder outer layer and reveal the softer, more fragile flesh beneath.

That was nothing in comparison to the searing pain that tore up his side. His speed was fully absorbed; the boy’s trajectory stopped and gave him half a second to try to process the events that had just transpired. It hurt; the pain was distracting at best and overwhelming at worst. Shiro’s hand clutched tightly at his side just over the rounded edge of his hip, clamping down with his fingers to try to push and will away the discomfort. He felt the sticky, warm liquid seep over his hand again as it dripped through the fabric of his shirt, warning that the wound he had sustained earlier had reopened with a vengeance.

Biting down hard on his teeth and clenching his jaw in sheer determination, the Kemite boy’s other hand quickly moved into motion. Using it as a springboard and fulcrum, he swung his weight around on the bottom edge of his palm and, with a push that cost him both energy and a new wave of nausea-inducing pain, pulled himself back up onto his feet. He didn’t dare stand, though; that couldn’t be risked yet. Instead, he leaned over bent knees and, just barely off the ground, nearly crawled one-handed over toward what had stopped his fall.

Green eyes pored over the shadows as they took a moment to grow accustomed to the dim light. His eyebrows furrowed. The rise of wine barrels and the shape of the walls made this particular corner of the basement dark in even the best of circumstances; he couldn’t quite make out shapes in any sort of exact detail. Slowly, Shiro slunk against the ground in slow, dragging motions to get closer to the grey mound that barely made its presence known against the blankness of the dirty, dusty corner.

His toe swung forward and hit it again, once more aware of its softness and the strangeness of its texture. He snuck a little closer. With his one free hand, the boy reached out toward the shape and gingerly moved the folds of a well-worn cloth this way and that, trying to free the image of what laid inside.

The first motion was all he needed to see. He could make it out now: a nose, a pair of eyes swollen shut by purple-stained flesh, and dried rivers of blood stained magenta on almost black skin. Her hair had been white once but it was now crusted yellow in a disgusting mix of sweat and gore pouring out from a gaping wound across the top of her skull.

An elf, and a Vysstichi at that. The trails left in the dust showed that the collision had moved her body nearly two feet from its original position; there was a thin line of red left as another shadow, too. Someone had hastily tried to hide her underneath a pile of tattered rags like a piece of refuse just waiting for someone to carry it away. What had been her life was so utterly disposable in every sense of the word.

Maybe some would have pitied the scene, despite the tangled mess of her bloodline and the shadow of “curse” and “evil” on the tint of her skin. For this boy now, though, he merely envied her.
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