Eventual slash. Teioran, a high class demon, is consumed by the experiment he's worked on for years, and finally he's found a test subject in the form of the revenge driven Kylin. And with the meet...
Sakuri: IMPORTANT! Okay, this might sound a little weird, but if/when people review, can you please... well, criticise this chapter? Not flame, but ways to improve, if you get what I mean. Does it need to be clearer? Is something not explained right? Or just plain written badly...?
This is the first story I'm taking seriously (I have it mapped out and everything!) so I kinda want to get it right.
The desert was a freezing place to be at night, even in the relatively sheltered canyon that split the Sanzra Desert and which was home to the small village of Alinya. The perfectly still air coated every sand-worn surface with crisp chill. Somewhere, a cat shivered, flicking its tail in annoyance and wishing for sunrise, when the light would paint everything in golden-red and the heat would soak into the very rocks themselves.
The village was an isolated place, hidden deep within the sandy, rocky stretches of the desert, and it consisted of a population barely reaching 100. A small bazaar formed its centre, and there was a hot spring about a mile away.
It was one of the few human settlements left that had gone undiscovered by the demons.
The demons were the ruling force of Zarae, being much more powerful than the other two races, the elves and the humans. Humans scrambled for shelter in places like Alinya, hoping to escape the fate they'd meet otherwise: death, if they were lucky, enslavement if they weren't. As for the elves, they hadn't been seen in centuries, having retreated when technology began to overthrow them and their ways.
Once, they had been the one thing keeping the demons in check.
But with them gone, the powerful race ran riot, creating their empire and its main city: the Heart of the World, as they named it. And without restraint, their empire expanded until there were few places left. Only the useless, untameable areas of land remained now, like the desert, the vast ocean further to the north and a few cities and towns that had not yet been taken.
But that was already beginning to change.
Life tended to start up within Alinya as if someone had flicked a light switch. From the almost deathly silence and darkness that was night came the sudden burst of movement and sound as soon as the first glimmer of colour touched the canyon walls. It would trickle down the rocks as if the light was liquid, painting them blood red in the first moments of dawn and causing the sand to turn golden. It dripped onto the dusty surfaces of wooden houses and bazaar stalls, eradicating the bitter night air that still lingered. The first sign of life stirring came in the form of the cat that darted across the dirt road running through the village and the small green lizard it chased.
The silence quickly withdrew after that. The merchants were already pulling back the faded red and white covers from their stalls, anxious to sell the goods they had acquired during the week. They shouted to one and other as they worked, comparing prices and merchandise. Some of them had travelled from other settlements, one or two even hailing from the city. They brought with them a variety of items to sell, from the flavoured, carbonated drinks contained in screw-top bottles to the latest models in weaponry. Among that last selection was the newly released SFX-6000, a gun of demonic design. They were cheap to make, but human salesmen put high prices on them for the risk involved in actually getting hold of one.
Women wishing to get the best deals at the bazaar were already up and about, most of them attempting to control the children that clung to their skirts or ran ahead of them, laughing and bickering. The mothers chattered happily among themselves, surging with the energy and vigour of a new day and the chance to share what little titbits of gossip they had come by since this same time yesterday. Like always, they retold the same bits of idle chit-chat, as they probably would again tomorrow, but it seemed to keep them happy nevertheless.
The wooden structures that made Alinya were kept close to the sandstone walls on each side of the narrow canyon, leaving a worn path in the sand that stretched the length of the village. Kylin Kalandra watched the crowd that bustled every which way along this path from his place on the sidelines, partially concealed by the sand-stained red hangings of a nearby shop. The frayed material danced in the breeze that drifted by, the threads tickling Kylin's skin.
He was dressed casually, in a way that made people tend to forget exactly what you looked like a minute later. He wore pale blue jeans that had ripped in several places and a loose white T-shirt. Black hair was cropped short, with a fringe that fell over one eye and concealed a scar through his left eyebrow that could draw attention to him. The only other thing that could be called conspicuous about his appearance was the plain black tattoo of a rose on his stomach, but that was never seen by anyone but himself. He had the type of face that could look either older or younger than his 17 years depending on whichever effect he wished for.
Kylin didn't like people remembering what he looked like. Of course, in a village as small as Alinya, that was a hard feat, but he tended to keep away from people as much as possible. He often went days without speaking a word to anyone but Anwyn.
He shook himself from his thoughts as he glimpsed an unfamiliar face walking by. He always made sure to keep track of people that were just passing through and wouldn't know him. It made stealing from them easier.
He slipped into the crowd effortlessly, trailing after the newcomer. The man didn't look like a merchant, who were usually the only new people to show up in Alinya. Kylin guessed he was probably here looking for something, most likely one of the items being sold at the bazaar. Since it was the only thing of real value, Kylin would have put money on his target being the SFX-6000. If he'd had money, that was...
Ah well, soon to be solved.
He sped up, forcing his way closer to the oblivious man. He slid through the oncoming, uncooperative crowd as best he could, occasionally made to sidestep groups of talkative women or dodge careless children that ran around his feet. He didn't make eye contact, instead staring at the feet of his retreating target. Around him, the villagers examined the contents of the stalls and expressed their curiosity about some of the items on sale. Alinya rarely kept up to date with technology, so most of the items brought by the city salesmen attracted mass attention.
Kylin was only occasionally interested, though. He had no wish to own the latest design in music players, or to buy the new 'fashion statement', as the merchants called the articles of clothing they brought with them.
Drawing closer to his target, Kylin took the opportunity to look the man's figure up and down, trying to work out where he'd keep a wallet or anything else of value.
Abruptly, the man turned round, causing the teenage thief to walk straight into him.
Caught off guard, Kylin blinked and took a hesitant step backwards. "Uh, sorry..."
He was met with a suspicious glare. "Out of the way, kid," was the short tempered order snapped in his direction.
He sidestepped quickly, watching as his target stormed past in the opposite direction and wondering what had prompted the turn-around. For a few moments his expression was the same - that of surprise and slight annoyance - before a smirk slowly tipped his mouth.
He looked down at the object held in his right hand. The wallet was nice, made of fine leather and embroidered with what he assumed were the man's initials. Edging towards the stalls, he slipped between two of them and out of sight. Once there, he flipped open the clasp and emptied the contents into his hand. Several coins, a roll of paper notes and a couple of plastic cards fell into his palm. He returned the identification and credit cards, having no use for them, but pocketed the money.
Casually, he moved back into the main street. Passing one of the stalls, he gave the wallet to the owner, rattling off a practiced explanation of how he'd found it carelessly dropped nearby, and would he mind asking around for the owner?
Smiling at the relative ease he'd pulled off the stunt with, he glanced around amiably as if debating which way to go. Now that money was taken care of, he'd have to go in search of food and other necessities. Anwyn would probably be awake by now, and no doubt hungry and ready to complain when he got back.
Hands in pockets, he jingled the coins that now rested there. It was a pleasant sound and something he heard far too rarely.
That was when the first gunshot sounded.
The sharp shock of sound bounced around the enclosed canyon walls until it rang in Kylin's ears. Around him, people were falling silent and looking around in confusion for the source of the bang.
Then she fell.
Kylin was among the first to see it. The red bloom of colour spreading across her chest, staining the delicate material of her dress. He saw the astounded expression flicker across her face as she looked down. And then she was falling. Her husband tried to catch her as the second shot sounded.
Kylin's head whipped around, eyes frantically scanning for them. They weren't hard to spot.
The first demon held the gun perfectly level, still poised from his last shot. His eyes ran across the stunned mass of people before him. Behind him, others were rounding the canyon corner. From this distance, they looked like humans dressed in black, only taller.
Someone screamed. The demon grinned and fired yet again.
After that, chaos.
They were being picked off one by one as panic consumed them. There were only six or seven demons, but they blocked off the escape route and the villagers were defenceless.
Kylin pressed himself back into his hiding place between the stalls, watching the attack with wide eyes. Everything was too quick to keep track of. After the second victim collapsed, people had begun moving, running in all directions as the sound of their fear escalated. The thief couldn't bring himself to scream as he watched a man jerk and collapse mere feet away from him, blood seeping into the sand. He fell next to a woman, who let out a tiny noise of anguish. Her side was bleeding.
He remembered Anwyn suddenly.
Panic flooded him then. He had to get to her, had to make her stay inside, before she came wandering out of the house he'd left her in. She'd be hurt, or worse...!
He spared a second to peek around the edge of the concealing stall before forcing himself to step into the open. Everyone was running in various directions, unable to think straight in their blind fear. Kylin knew they'd be killed if they'd lost their sense this easily.
But they did provide a distraction. With so many moving targets, the demons were hardly likely to notice him as he slinked along the rows of housing. At least he hoped so.
He had to reach his sister.
He ran then. Practically bursting from his cover, he ran in the direction of Anwyn, darting away from those who would have collided with him and even having to jump as a body landed in his path. That made him stumble as he recognised it as the owner of the wallet he'd taken. Sickness rising in him, he attempted to ignore it and stumbled past, one hand bracing him against the wood panelled walls.
Then he saw her ahead of him, emerging into the massacre. His stomach went cold as he continued his sprint toward her.
He reached her just in time, scooping up the small body and all but tossing her back inside. Not that the house would provide much cover in the long run, but there was nothing else.
He lost his balance slightly with her added weight and they tumbled through the door just as something impacted with the ground where she'd stood, sending up a spray of sand. He twisted, landing on his back with her on top of him, grasping his shirt in a death grip. He could feel her trembling against him.
Fear-filled green eyes of the 10 year old looked up at him. "W-what's...?"
He shook his head, unable to answer her. He had no idea what was going on.
Realising he had little time to waste, he shoved her off him, causing her to begin crying in small, quiet sobs. There was nothing he could do for the moment. Scrambling a small distance across the floor, he braced himself on his knees and stared down at the floorboards, all the while muttering, "It's okay. It'll be okay..." as if on repeat. He wasn't sure if it was for himself or his sister.
Finally he found the right one and instantly grasped the loose board, prying it upwards. Usually, it would have taken him longer, but adrenaline was coursing through him and the wood snapped in his hands. Underneath, he found what he was looking for.
The gun was far too basic and old-fashioned to be valuable, but it was still fully functional.
Taking the SF 9mm in unsteady hands, he rose to his feet and Anwyn instantly rushed to his side. She had her hands pressed to her ears, obviously trying not to hear the shots and sounds of people dying. She pressed her face against him and he rested his hand atop her blond hair for a moment.
Another gunshot resounded around them, closer this time, and Kylin smelt something burning. With slightly clumsy movements, he dropped the safety catch on the weapon and positioned his finger over the trigger, making sure to keep it away from both Anwyn and himself.
He had to get her away from here. Moving toward the open door, he risked glancing out. More and more dead littered the ground. Others that were still alive but for various reasons unable to stand sobbed or screamed where they lay, already grieving their loss and knowing they were probably better off dead. The demons walked among them now, herding the humans deeper into the dead-end canyon. Judging by the smiles on their faces, their motive was mere amusement now.
Kylin watched it all with hard eyes. He couldn't let himself feel the terror that was steadily rising in his chest, or else he'd be too weak to act. He had Anwyn to protect. He had to be able to do something.
Desperately, he scanned the scene again, only taking in the sight of the demons this time. If they kept moving in the direction they were currently heading, he'd be able to flee the house and go around behind them, using the exit they'd blocked off earlier. It was the only shot.
Turning, he knelt and hoisted the little girl up, supporting her with his left arm. She clung to him instantly, burying her head in his shoulder.
The cold metal of the gun in his right hand contrasted sharply with the softness of her hair under his left. He'd remember that sensation long after, for some reason, but at the time it didn't even register. 9mm in hand, he emerged for the second time into the gunfire.
He used the same path as before, skirting the action along the edges of houses and stalls. His progress was slower with Anwyn, and he tripped several times, but didn't stop. There was no one in front of them, no one standing between them and the mouth of the canyon. Still moving, he risked a glance over his shoulder. The demons were further away now, and none of them had seen them!
Quickly, he righted himself, looking away from the killers...
...just in time to be met with the sight of one of them directly in front of him.
"Shit!" Without thinking, he skidded to a stop. His feet went out from under him and he lost his balance, falling backwards just as the blast of gunfire rang out above him, exactly where his head had been two seconds before.
He landed hard, the impact and Anwyn's sudden weight knocking the breath from his lungs. She whimpered as they fell.
Distantly, he heard the figure above him laughing. "Almost made it, too," the thing muttered.
Kylin was frozen, only able to hold on tighter to the child in his arms. His mind screamed at him to run, to fight, to find some other way of protecting her, but he couldn't. There was nothing left to do.
The demon raised an arm and Kylin found himself staring into a silver barrel, with an odd knowledge that he was going to die.
Before either he or the demon had the chance to do anything, Anwyn ripped herself from his grasp. He made a mad dive for her, but she was faster than him. A numb horror planted itself inside him, growing rapidly as he could do nothing but watch.
She was standing now, her small figure dressed in white, the sun making her hair glow. Then running, moving fast toward the creature wielding the weapon. Kylin scrambled after her...
And then there was the bang of the gun as the demon fired, aiming for Kylin. Only it never reached the thief.
On all fours, Kylin waited for the ringing in his ears to stop. It faded to silence. No other noise, not even the screaming.
At first, he could see no difference in the sight before him.
But then she was tipping backwards, just like the very first victim.
He didn't catch her. She landed hard, sending up little clouds of sand. He didn't hear the thud, though. Blond, wavy strands all matted with sand and flecks of crimson. Green eyes were already dead.
He heard his own breath in the silence, too harsh and loud, hurting his chest.
Glazed eyes stared at him, or so he imagined. Her white dress would be ruined after this, stained beyond repair. As he watched, the smallest trickle of blood fell from the corner of her mouth.
The demon was laughing.
He reached out, shocked to see his own hand shaking so badly. His fingers touched her hair, felt its softness.
In his other hand, he felt the coldness of the gun.
Air forced its way out of his lungs as his chest contracted sharply. Tearing his eyes away from his sister, he looked up, into the creature's face. It smiled at him.
Finally, he screamed, at the same time bringing up the 9mm and firing wildly. The sound of his voice and the multiple explosions of the retro gun deafened him, and blue lights seemed to dance before his eyes. He was losing every sense he had; hearing, sight, sanity-
Something struck the back of his head painfully, and he lost consciousness without a fight.
He remembered clearly the night Anwyn had been born. They'd been on the road when the first pain struck his mother, and they hadn't been able to reach a town or city in time. He'd sat outside the makeshift medical tent on his own and listened to her scream, tears pricking his eyes. The midwife had refused to allow him inside since she'd arrived.
After a while, his mother's screams had fallen quiet, but the voices of the midwife and another woman had only grown more urgent. He didn't understand what they were talking about, but he knew there was something wrong. He couldn't hear his mother or the sounds a baby made.
Five whole minutes later, he'd heard the tinniest, pathetic whimper of a child from inside the tent. He sighed, relieved. Maybe they'd let him in now. Patiently, he waited for someone to come, but they didn't. He listened, wondering why his mother hadn't spoken yet and why the women inside were suddenly whispering.
No one came for him, after all. Growing impatient of waiting, he pulled aside the entrance flap and peeked inside. His mother lay on a pallet bed with the covers pulled up over her. She wasn't awake. Nearby, the midwife held a bundle of some sort carefully to her, but it didn't cry, like he knew a baby should be doing. The other woman was kneeling over a bowl, washing blood from her hands. She looked at him solemnly before turning away.
He knew then. He'd never been stupid, or someone to indulge in denial, even at the age of 7. He'd looked at the quiet bundle held by the midwife and briefly wondered should he hold it responsible for taking his mother from him.
"...She wanted to call her Anwyn," he'd whispered eventually, before bursting into tears.
They hadn't liked him, he remembered, and at the time he'd had no idea why. That knowledge came later, along with the realisation that Anwyn was only his half-sister.
But despite their dislike, they'd made sure he and the baby had a place at a small orphanage in the city. It had been later, just before Kylin was 10 and Anwyn 3, that they'd been moved to Alinya for 'safety reasons'.
A month later, the city had been taken by the demons.
It was in Alinya that he'd first begun to realise that people had a general wariness around him when the villagers openly talked about how different he was. They'd point out his forever pale skin, his height, the shape of his ears.
It had taken a boy his own age to reveal the obvious in the form of an insult to finally enlighten Kylin.
"Half-breed," he'd sneered.
Sakuri: Okay, so there's the Prologue. What do people think? And, like I said, constructive criticism incredibly welcome (in fact, kinda the main reason I'm posting this at all, so...).