04-07-04 – AHHH, Fictionpress… why are you doing this to me?!?!?!  My breaks have been stripped os now the wole thing looks like one big clump, meaning confusing scene transition TT_TT  For now, I'm going to find a cheap way of…  splitting my paragraphs until I can… find another way.

The sword made no sound as it was slowly pulled out of its protective sheath. The ominous rain tapped wildly from the outside, drowning out his nearing footsteps. 

            Standing in the shadows, the light from the room emitted an eerie glow, releasing the mysterious figure of a woman.  With dark, gray eyes, he watched the woman's smooth movements as she combed her hair and her gentle breathing fall from her mouth.  Soon enough, he would steal that from her.

            His grip was trembling and his feet felt heavy.  His body wanted to turn back, yet his mind refused to turn away.  Slowly lifting the sword above the girl, his hands began to shake.  The air that escaped grew staggered and uneven.

             "Damian?" The girl uttered, noticing the shadowy figure in the mirror.  Briefly, she turned around to glance at her protector, the man who swore he would never hurt her.

            Immediately, he drove the blade into her heart.  The necklace on his neck grew heavier as he stepped away from the girl.  Instead of the vibrant, crimson glow that exploded from the bodies of the soldiers he slew, crimson petals emerged from her body.  As she shrieked, her body was engulfed by the petals, the sweet flowers that she loved.  Damian shielded his eyes as the light radiated from her body, shining off of the necklace that hung loosely around his neck.

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Humdrum Fairytales – The Voice of an Angel

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            Once upon a time, there was a land far away from our own.  It was a place where the light of life rose like a mighty fire, only to be snuffed out in the darkness, a place where love and hate were bound by matrimony, a place where wayward hearts searched the land for unattainable dreams.  It was a place where crows cloaked the skies and doves bathed in oceans of crimson, a place where spirits betrayed justice for ignorance.

            Art's paintbrush was the artist of dark, and music's refrain was silence.  A sword's blood lied in the palms of assassins, and dreams interlaced with the souls of reality, confusing which is who.  Time's hands once laughed at everything but the arms that move to the fore and back, devouring all but the present.  A brother's sword can slay the throat of his reflection, and kiss the lips of his lover.  It was a place where the blind are led to the truth, and those with eyes are led to deceive, a place where war and peace can only be found in churches and bloodshed only found in books.  It was a place where fairytales and reality were indifferent.

            It was a dark, rainy night in which our story unfolds.  A man's heavy boots pounded through the lonely streets, mingling with the harsh winds, the incubus of the night.  His eyes were of a ash color, burnt by the scars of time.

            Damian gazed lazily at the necklace in his open palm.  A broken tip from a crystal, unicorn's horn rested soundlessly against his flesh.  It wasn't the first time before that the vision had come to him.  It was a haunting memory that refused to desert his heavy heart.  It was a haunting memory fused together with a premonition, or so he believed.

            Just then, he ducked his head as a wooden chair was thrown across the pub -  crashing into the opposite wall behind him.  If it weren't for those annoying club-fights, he'd be able to drink in peace.

             "If you dare open your fucking mouth again, I swear I'll fuck you up so badly your fucking mother won't even fucking recognize you!"  Damian rolled his eyes as he heard the loud obnoxious voices from his left.  From the corner of his eye, he could see a tall, bulky man nearing a small boy about half his size.  Shrugging, he figured the boy just got into the wrong place at the wrong time.

             "I-I-I'm s-sorry!" A high-pitched voice came from the boy.  "Please, don't hurt me!  I just wanted to help my family!"

             "Your fucking family.  I'll fuck them up too after I'm done fucking with you!"

             "Please!  I'm sorry!!"

            The giant swung his fist along the counter, breaking a glass bottle.  The pub was vibrant with commotion.  Damian's eyes, shaded under his hair, fervently turned to the scene.  "Oh, it's too fucking late to be fucking sorry."

             "Please don't hurt me!"

             "I'll do whatever I fucking please."

            The noise was growing more and more rackety, taking Damian's patience to the limit.  Why couldn't he just find a place where he could appreciate the beauty of silence?  "Must you always curse to make yourself more intimidating…?" Damian asked casually, rising towards the giant.

             "What did you say?!" The giant yelled, enraged.

            Damian winced, "Damnit, your voice is so annoying.  If you're going to yell like that, at least do it outside."  In a matter of seconds, the rest of the pub began to close in to view the event.  There was a long silence between the two as the spectators whispered loudly to each other.

            The giant cracked his knuckles, glaring deathly at Damian.  The boy cringed as he saw the giant's body shaking.  "Oh, you've done it.  I'll fuck you up first, and then I'll fuck up the boy."

            Impatiently, the giant threw a blow at Damian, yet he swiftly moved to the side almost effortlessly.  As the momentum of the giant's colossal body forced him forward, Damian ducked to his side and tripped the giant with his leg.  The boy shrieked as the giant's body came tumbling down.  Quickly, Damian angled his sword down at his throat.

            Damian stared with contempt at the quivering face of the giant, crying for mercy.  "You think it'd be wise for me to kill you off now."

             "I'm sorry!" The giant cried.  His pathetic voice nearly invoked pity inside Damian, yet it wasn't quite there.

             "Fortunately, I believe in learning from your mistakes.  Do that again and you'll get killed.  Or, in your style, you'll be fucked up."

            As Damian pulled his sword away, the giant quickly got to his feet and scampered out the door.  Damian attempted to sit back down in his seat, continuing his drink as if nothing had happened; unfortunately, that just wasn't possible.

            Eventually, the silence had begun to annoy Damian even further.  He knew full and well that the entire pub had their attention focused on his little spot in the corner of the bar.  I guess it can't be helped.  Another bar I'm forced out of.

            Damian slipped the necklace into his bag and threw it over his shoulder.  The only sound that reeked from the put was the rhythmic tapping of Damian's boots exiting out the door.

             "W-wait!" The boy yelled, chasing after Damian.

            Trying to ignore the boy at first, Damian continued out the door, but young people have fast legs.

             "Wait!" The boy panted, tugging at Damian's trench coat.

             "Don't you learn from your mistakes kid?" Damian turned impatiently at the entrance of the pub.

             "Please?  Won't you help me?  I saw how you fought in the club!  That was awesome!"

             "Believe me kid, I didn't do that to save you.  I did it because the bastard threw a chair at me.  If he didn't bother me, you'd be beat to a pulp right now."

             "Please help us." The boy was like a broken record player, "My parents are fugitives!  We're hiding out here in Lystra to get away from the government."

            Damian raised an eyebrow beneath his shadowy, raven hair, "Are you sure mommy and daddy wanted you to disclose that type of information?"

             "We need someone to help us.  We need someone to fight off the bad guys!"

            Damian shrugged and continued walking, "Find someone else.  I'm through with jobs like those."

            The boy sighed, frozen for a second.  Damian's heart was relieved, temporarily believing that the boy had given up, but after a few seconds, he ran back up to him.

             "If you don't come, we're going to die tonight."

             "Look, kid.  If you're looking for a hero, heroes don't exist.  In the end, they always fail you.  They're either cowards at heart, or corrupted with their lust for wealth.  There isn't anyone out here that's going to accept your plea of pity." Damian would have continued if he hadn't noticed the bright color of the boy's eyes.  They were of a ghastly blue hue, an eye color nearly extinct.  "Riona eh?"

            The boy looked down shamefully, "Yes, we're from Riona…  We've been running from town to town ever since the war.  But now, Papa's sick and Mama can't take care of us.  Big brother is gone, and all they have left is me.  All we want is just a peaceful life.  We're… running out of time."

            Damian had enough from the government, and he wasn't about to meddle into their affairs once more.  It was the damn Montegarde government that kept using people for their lavish splendor. "Next time you beg for help, leave out the fact you're from Riona."

            At that, the boy had given up as Damian continued out towards the night.  He could hear the boy's footsteps walk away, robbed of his pride and humiliated in rejection.  He would probably die that night just like he said – Damien knew he wouldn't be able to find a mercenary, but none of that convinced him to help him.  He'd just be another wandering, cowardly mercenary, shedding blood for his own salvation.

            The skies cried and cried with rain, refusing to wipe up its tears.  It was an everlasting rain in Lystra, never giving a day at rest.  The sky was crying for the forsaken city.

            The usual crowd passed by through the streets minding their own business, without a care for the person they walked beside.  The raven-haired assassin strolled down the streets of Lystra, simply another person trying to make his way home.  His clothes were colored the same black as his hair, and his coat matched the same hue as his shaded, gray eyes.  He had his sword to his side, exposed to label himself shamefully a mercenary, but he kept it out so people would leave him alone.  The only companion he had were the streets that unfolded ahead of him.

***

             "Where… where am I…?" A girl muttered to herself.

            Sinking in at the corner of an alley, she had her bare arms trying to cover herself, shielding from the freezing weather.

            With skeptical eyes, she scanned the unfamiliar area.  Her golden-colored hair was wet from the rain, and her raggedy clothes had tears and holes that exposed her snow-white skin.  Her skin was so cold that the color on her lips was as red as the rose.

            Rising to her feet, she slowly made her way out into the night.  She had no money, no food, and no clothing.  All she had left with her were memories of her little brother.  She couldn't remember who she was, or how she got there, or even her little brother's name.  All she knew was that she wasn't where she was supposed to be.

             "Um, excuse me." She asked a random bystander.

            He gave her a disgusted look after giving one glance at her unkempt appearance.

             "Have you seen my brother?  He's about this tall… up to my waist, and he has brown hair like mine.  He's-"

            Before she could finish her sentence, the man had walked off.  She was simply another annoying beggar to plague the streets of Vienna.

            She frowned, quickly realizing there was little hope left for her in the city.

***

             "I'm out huh…" Damian grumbled, staring at the few gold coins he had in the blood-red sack of coins.  More and more, he began to regret refusing the job from the boy, but he refused to turn back on his decisions.

            Casually, he stuffed the sack back into his bag and continued down the road.  There was no longer anything left for him in Lystra; it was time to follow the wind once more to the place it would lead him to.

            Suddenly, Damian felt a tug on his bag.  Giving into his instincts, he pulled out his sword and aimed it towards the mugger; however he had just swung over his head.  The looter was a short, plump kid with frizzled hair and a red bandana over his forehead.

             "Hey!" Damian yelled, but the kid had already run off with his bag.  His eyes shot open at the sudden realization that his necklace was still in the bag.  "Get back here!" He yelled.

            The bandit snickered as Damian chased him down streets and alleyways.  Damian cursed at himself, annoyed at his irritating encounters with children that day.  The bandit was so quick that Damian could barely make out his figure.  All he saw was the red bandana tied onto his forehead.

            After realizing he was chasing the bandit around a building in circles, Damian figured he'd run the opposite direction to run into the little brat.  He leaned against the wall, trying to catch his breath.  The kid was smart; he figured it was just a routine he's been through countless times before.  He led Damian into they alleyways of the city so there couldn't have been a spectator to watch the scene.  Now, he was lost in a maze of closed in, deserted passageways.

            Making as little noise as possible, he listened to the bandit's nimble footsteps, nearing closer and closer by the second…

             "Gotcha!" Damian yelled, as he collided with the bandit.

             "Ah!" The bandit yelled, trying to get back onto his feet.  Reaching down, Damian grabbed his left shoe, yet he was still able to squirm out barefooted, still with Damian's bag.

            Damian cursed once more at the bad luck of his day and continued chasing the bandit.  Getting onto his feet, he took after the boy, but his legs would no longer move.

             "Please!  Don't hurt us!" He heard in the background, "We've done nothing wrong!"

            Damian quickly stepped backwards into the shadows, unnoticed.

             "We've done nothing wrong!" The woman yelled, "Please, my husband is sick and my son is only nine years old.  Please, let us go!"

            The cry from the woman's voice was so sharp and piercing it caused Damian to cringe.  Tears, shed for loss of everything, streaked down her face like the thunder that ripped across the sky.  She bent down on her knees, begging the heartless soldier for her dear life.  She kept screaming the same words over and over again, "Please!  Please!  Please, we've done nothing wrong!"

            A tall, blonde man smiled and took up his sword; his eyes were dark red, the opposite of light blue, "I apologize.  It's nothing you've done, or your family.  I'm only following orders."

            Offhandedly, the soldier raised his sword and plunged it into the woman's body before she could even scream.  Damian had no reason to gasp; he had done the same before.

            There was a loud, deafening shriek from inside the house.  The body of the woman shook violently, trying to writher out of her inevitable fate, but she was soon still.  The soldier pulled the sword from her back, letting the corpse of the woman fall onto the floor.  As she splashed into the puddles of tears, blood began to gush out from her back like a fountain.  Her eyes were still open, crying out pinkish fluids.  They were the tears for the family she couldn't protect.

             "Lex, you take care of the rest." The blonde man said.  Then, another soldier came up from behind him.

             "Me?  I wouldn't want to get my hands dirty." He looked down at the woman, "Look what happened here, Edwardo.  I don't want to get all messy and stuff.  Sorry lady, we killed you.  I hope you didn't take it personal."

            Edwardo chuckled as he stepped backwards.

             "Watch this." Taking out a golden locket, appearing to be a pocket watch, he opened it towards the house.  Damian squinted his eyes as shadowy figures began to emerge from the locket.  It crawled down the soldier's body and groped the floor, seeping into the house.  The light was hushed out as Damian heard a scream, a scream from a familiar voice.  One was of an elderly man, and the other was from just a small boy.

             "What are you doing?!" A voice called from his memory, "Please!  Don't hurt me!  You promise me you'd…"

            Damian could feel sweat coming down from his side.  He looked in the opposite direction, figuring that if he followed the path that the bandit took, he'd be able to escape.  A hero would have gone to save the innocent, but instead Damian stood there, listening to their cries.  Heroes no longer existed; in the end, they were just cowards.

             "Please don't… Damian."

            Just then, he tripped over the loose shoe of the bandit.  He tried to reach out to take it before it rolled out into the moonlight, but it was too late.

             "…What was that?" Edwardo queried.

             "Never mind that." Lex replied.

             "I heard something."

             "I didn't…"

             "There's someone here…"

            For the third time that day, he cursed at himself.  The blonde soldier was staring directly at him.  Finding it futile to escape, he had no choice left but to fight.  Taking the easy way out was no longer an option; the annoying and inconvenient way was the only one left.

             "You know, I'd prefer to dismiss this situation as painless and as efficiently as possible, but unfortunately you're not letting me do that." Damian said as he stepped out of the shadows.

             "You've seen too much." The rain began to wash off the blood from Edwardo's sword, cleaning the murder from the streets of Lystra.

             "I'm assuming I promise I won't tell doesn't work here, huh?"

            Without another word, Edwardo lunged towards Damian with his sword.  Specks of rain flew off as their swords collided.  The sparks that shot from his sword revealed the reddish hue from Edwardo's eyes.

             "Give him an introduction, will you?" Lex intervened.

             "Forgive me for being rude.  Allow me to introduce myself.  I'm Edwardo of Montegarde."

            Damian rolled his eyes, snapping away from the soldier. 

             "After you, this will be the 700th man I've killed, not counting women and children."

             "You know, to be honest, I really don't give a shit what your name is."

             "You won't have to after you're dead."

            The two battled beneath the crying, thunderous skies with murder glistening in their eyes.  The battlefield was a place that turned men into monsters.  Warriors would fight on to reach an unattainable goal, or an impossible illusion, simply for the excitement of battle.

             "Is there really a reason to fight?"

            Damian glared at his opponent, trying to catch his breath.  Edwardo had already been tired out after exhaustedly trying to defeat Damian.  The two had evidently underestimated each other's abilities, leaving them fatigued after a futile battle.

             "All life really is, is a fairytale.  We fancy our lives with illusions, yet we'll never get them.  It's all chasing the unattainable dream.  We search for things that the world can never give, thinking it can promise us happiness without realizing what we search for is just around the corner."

            Once again, Damian's sword had collided once more with Edwardo's.  The thunder roared triumphantly as both of their bodies were dripping in both sweat and rain.  The light from the house had been completely snuffed out; the family was probably dead by then.

            Several valuable seconds passed as they stood directly in front of each other.  The silence pounded in their ears, screaming and shouting for deliverance.  Silence and wait are the two things that can hurt a man the most.

            Savoring his last chance to escape, Damian surreptitiously reached for a smaller dagger on his right.  The heavens exploded with light as Damian drove the dagger towards the soldier, yet he was able to deflect it just in time.  As Edwardo had his arm raised, knocking the dagger out of Damian's hand with his sword, he had his side exposed.  Raising his right shoe, Damian kicked Edwardo's side, stabbing him with a knife beneath his shoe.  Feeling his warm blood spill between his toes, he heard the torturing yell from his opponent.  Then, the force against Damian's sword weakened and Edwardo dropped to clutch his wound.

            The rain poured down like waterfalls, cascading down onto the two wounded opponents.  Edwardo's armor was soaked in a crimson tide, but he refused to give up.  He jerked forward, ready to charge once more, knowing it could have been his last.    

"Edwardo!" Lex yelled, refusing to let the battle continue any further, "Let's go!  Forget about it!"

            Edwardo paused, scowling at Damian.  Then, without wasting any more time, he fled.

            Damian stood, letting the rain drip from his charcoal hair as the two Montegarde soldiers had vanished.  Abandoning his defenses, the sword slipped from his weakened fingers and plunged into the puddles of pouring rain.

            Half-opened eyes stared vaguely at the ghostly house in front of him.  The angel's tears spilled down from the roof as if trying to guard away the dead.  Sluggishly, he limped towards the woman's corpse lying motionless on the stone floor.  Her eyes were still open with terror, yet they were void of the light of life.

             "Take this…  Take this to my son…" He almost heard her say.  Held loosely in her arm, almost hidden in the rain, was a golden broach.  It was covered in mud, but it had yet to loose its glimmer.

            Damian knelt down onto his quivering knees and took the broach from her hand.  Then, as he stroked his hand over her face, casting shadows of death over her ghastly skin, he closed her eyes shut.

             "Instead, we just all live our lives out in humdrum fairytales."

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            I looked upon an angel.

            Her wings beat effortlessly in the wind.

            Her voice keeps singing the same song as she flies into the sky.

            She sings of a tune from a faraway land.

            She whispers, 'Someday, I'll be able to grant your wish'.

            I sleep as I am engulfed in dreams as orange as tangerines.

            A promise, bound together by eternity.

            It races into the sky, hoping to reach that special place.

            That special place where it reaches, it breaks.

            And you'll continue, chasing that never-ending dream,

            On the wings of an angel.

            I reach my hand out.

            And she keeps singing.

            That was what was engraved beneath the feet of the statue.  Silas rose, sighing after the completion of his sculpture, or rather the near completion of his sculpture.  It was the commission he had been working on for the passed two weeks for the Vienna Cathedral.

             "That's really pretty…" Ophelia mused.  She had her long, black hair edged between her fingers, fiddling with a few strands of black.  The bracelets on her wrist jingled together, chiming like bells in Silas' ears.

            Silas stood back to bask in the awe of his work.  He brushed off the white, marble dust from his clothes and wiped his hands off in his light-colored hair.

             "That's gross, Silas."

             "Ah, whatever goes." He smiled, "Who would have thought that such a beautiful goddess could be so dirty."

             "You're full of yourself." Then, Ophelia bent down to read the poem at the base of the statue.  Not only were Silas' hands exemplary at sculpting, but he was good at writing as well.  She was always amazed at how he could sculpt so well when he couldn't even see with that handkerchief over his eyes.  "I don't get it… how are dreams orange like tangerines?  That's really random."

            Silas sighed at the sixteen-year old girl standing beside him.  He was already eight years older than her, yet he had no authority.  "Ah okay, let me change it." Bringing his fingers across the inscription, he felt his way up to the second stanza.  Taking his hammer and chisel, he scratched out the verse, and changed it to "I sleep as I am engulfed in dreams white as purity."

             "I like it.  The goddess is really pretty." Ophelia said as she leaned backwards to stare at the larger than life statue of the goddess.  Looking upon her face, she smiled.  She remembered the time when Silas had told her he was carving the face of the goddess to be like hers.  The goddess was much more beautiful however, yet it still had the likeness of her.  It was a pretty good sculpture for an artist that was as blind as a bat.  Just then, she figured she'd ask him.  "How are you able to sculpt so well if you're unable to see?"

            Silas froze, while cleaning up his hammer and chisel, cleaning his hands in a bucket of water he had on the side.  "It's difficult to explain.  You don't always have to rely on sight to get your away around.  No one ever said seeing is believing."

            Ophelia crinkled her nose, being utterly confused again at Silas' rambling.  "I guess so...?" Then, she smiled, "Well, you're probably really hungry.  You've been working hard the whole day, let me cook you something."

             "And don't I love Ophey's cooking."

            She turned back to Silas with a glare, "Stop trying to suck up, and don't ever call me Ophey."

            Ophelia made her way to the entrance of the empty Cathedral.  Turning behind her once more, she looked back at Silas at the apse of the Cathedral.  The entire church was darkened except for the lamp behind the giant, marble statue.  He waved back at her, and she smiled back.  Then, raising her pink parasol over her head and slipping on her sandals, she exited the Cathedral.

            The rain drizzled onto her parasol as she took out the piece of paper with the shopping list scribbled onto it.  She planned on buying all of Silas' favorite delicacies, but since he liked eating extremely strange and exotic-tasting foods, she also planned on buying something simple for herself to eat on the side.

            Knowing most of the villagers, she nodded and waved at them as they passed by her.  She was known as the sweet little girl who lived with Master Vienna in the Cathedral.  Silas, and her older brother however were the only ones who could testify that she was a monster if she really wanted to be.

            Briefly, she went to her favorite restaurant and ordered frozen foods and instant delicacies that she claimed were the acme of life.

             "Good evening, Ophelia." The plump, storeowner greeted her.

             "You too, Mrs. Watson." Ophelia said as she closed her umbrella.  "Working late today?"

             "I don't prefer to call it work.  As long as I get to keep doing what I love."

            Ophelia smiled, "And as long as I can keep dropping by late at night for food."

             "Ah yes, as long as you keep stopping by."

             "The baby's going to love the food."

            Mrs. Watson blushed, glancing down at her protruding stomach, "Oh, well I sure hope so."

             "What are you gonna name him?"

             "We're not sure yet…"

             "Heh, I'm sure he'll be a cute little baby.  Just like Mr. Watson."

             "Oh good heavens, no!  That'd drive me crazy."

            Ophelia chuckled.

            Mrs. Watson warmly smiled.  Then, as she bagged Ophelia's foods, she asked her, "So, how is your brother doing?  He's been gone for a while now, hasn't he?"

             "Yeah, it's been around…" She counted her fingers, "Five months, or so.  He usually comes back frequently for visits, but this has been the longest he's been away."

             "Oh…" A stern face overcame Mrs. Watson.

             "Well, if you're thinking that, you don't need to worry about him.  He's the strongest fighter I know!  He won't get into trouble like that.  And besides, Silas can take care of me while he's gone."

             "Ooh, that boy from Riona."

            He's not as young as he acts… She nodded, "Yeah."

             "He's a fine gentleman."

             "Hehe.  He's fun to be around; I like him."

            At that, Mrs. Watson handed Ophelia her grocery bags. "Well, that's it.  I hope you have a good dinner."

             "You too Mrs. Watson." Ophelia called out as she exited the store.

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            Holding her grocery bag in her right hand, she sang silly folksongs as she strolled down the marketplace.  The rain added a catchy rhythm to her voice, and also provided as a noise that could drown out her awful voice.

            Just then, as the thunder crashed above her, she saw a shadowy figure leaning against the wall across from her.  At first, she thought it was her imagination but as the rain grew harder and the thunder roared louder, she recognized the figure.

             "Hello?  Are you okay over there?" She yelled.

             "O-ophelia…" The man said, staggering towards her.  Once he had stepped into the light, Ophelia immediately saw him as her older brother.

             "Damian!!" She yelled, dropping her bag and her parasol into the rain.

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            The massaging tick of his pocket watch ticked, penetrating the heart of the silence.  Silas sat against the wall, leaning against the back wall of the Cathedral.  Everything around him was dark, filling the atmosphere with perpetual ebony.

            Though he lived in a world of blackness, he still possessed the childish fear of the dark.  He thought it was haunting and threatening.  The world he lived in was a world where he had to constantly fear his life.  He had learned to fight for himself, without relying on his sight, yet he was still much afraid.  If he hadn't lived under the protection of Master Vienna, hiding inside the cathedral, he probably would have been killed by the government already.  The blue color of his eyes was a mark of shame, branding him a betrayer.

            At times like those when he felt lonely, Silas thought of memories that made him happier.  Waiting for Ophelia, he reminisced of the time she first brought him in.  It was a rainy night when he had first met the orphan girl.  He escaped from Riona into the neighboring city, Vienna, and Ophelia had taken him into the Cathedral.  At that, he fell in love with her cooking, even though they were just leftovers, scrapped together.

            Suddenly, Silas heard the doors of the Cathedral swing open.  Though he could not see, he felt the warmth from the candle snuff out in fleeting second.

             "Silas!!  I need your help!!" Ophelia cried desperately from the doorway.

            As fast as his feet could take him, Silas dashed down the corridor to aid Ophelia.  The girl had abruptly dropped Damian's motionless body onto the wooden floor.  "What's wrong?"

             "I need to get him somewhere where he can rest – he's wounded!"

            Urgently, Silas took the body over his shoulders and rushed towards the cottage beside the Cathedral.  There were still faint breaths that Silas felt on his back, though he still knew there wasn't much time left.  Ophelia led him into her bedroom where Silas had laid the body.

             "Quick, get some water!" Ophelia ordered.

            Ophelia stared into Damian's deathly face as she felt the floor vibrate from Silas' shoes.  Briskly, opened his blood-soaked coat and ripped open his shirt.  Her eyes softened, noticing that the muscles on his body were larger and rougher than before, reminding her of his dangerous lifestyle. 

            In a matter of seconds, Silas had returned with dampened towels draped over a bucket of water.  Before Silas had set them down on the floor, Ophelia had taken them and soaked away the blood seeping blood from his body before she wrapped his wounds in linen.

***

             "It only matters what's important to you."

            A silly smile grew across Damian's face, "And what do you mean by that?"

             "I don't mean anything.  I just want you to think about it."

            Damian paused for a second, but after that, he got impatient.  Oh how quickly he grew impatient.  "Okay, I'm done thinking."

            She laughed, "Well then, answer this question.  What do you hate most about yourself?  If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be?"

             "It's simple.  So I could become stronger.  Why?  What about you?"

             "It's simple.  I wouldn't change anything – I'm happy the way I am."

            Damian gave her a suspicious look, "What are you trying to get at this?"

            She giggled, "I'm done, I promise."

***

            Ophelia scoffed, simply waiting beside the bed for her brother to wake.  She loved him, yet she hated him at the same time.  The light from the lamp was uneasy, quivering from the thundering of the clouds.  In times of waiting, she simply fiddled around with the relic collection she had over her wrist.  The sound of soft chiming lingered frailly in the air.

             "Don't worry too much." Silas consoled, refilling the water.

             "I can't believe it…" Evidently, Silas' words made no effect on her, "He hasn't come in six months and once he comes back, he's half-dead.  What am I supposed to do?"

             "I'm sure he appreciates the fact that you care so much about him; I can feel it from him.  I can sense that he's really troubled."

            Ophelia eyed him strangely as he paced around the room, "Don't ever say that again, that's really creepy.  It makes you seem like some psychic or something."

            Silas' warm laughter always made Ophelia smile on the inside, "I know it creeps you out, and it gets you every time."

            She sighed, reverting her sight back to Damian. "He promised me he wouldn't die on me.  I'll be so angry if he breaks that promise."

            With his head hung low, Silas could feel the frustration from Ophelia's voice.

             "You know, at first when our father was killed, Damian promised that he'd protect me.  Back then, he thought he could be the strongest fighter in the world, chasing away anything that tried to harm us.  He's changed so much since then…"

            Silas sighed, reminding him of how he used to be before.

             "Master Vienna took us in and Damian became a mercenary.  He'd come home frequently and would always bring me gifts along with new clothes and food.  Then… well, the visits grew less and less frequent.  As he grew more exposed to the world around us, I felt his attitude gradually change.  Then once, he told me of a job he accepted from Lystra.  I remember that night, he returned empty-handed.  His eyes were bloodshot, and he couldn't say anything.  He stayed with us for several days without speaking a single word to us."

             "You never found out what happened… huh?" Silas added, as if finishing her sentence.

             "He makes me worry too much.  He thinks I just sit here smiling, cooking to my heart's content, but I do worry.  I actually think every night that there's a possibility he won't come back."

            Just then, the two of them heard a low grumble from the bed.  Automatically, they both turned towards Damian.  The ribbons from Ophelia's skirt dragged across the floor when she rushed to Damian's side.

            Blink.  Blink.

            At first, Damian's sleepy face resembled the face of him as a boy, waking up into a bright new world.  Then, as the pain from his wounds began to seep in, he cringed.

             "Is he awake?" Silas asked.

             "He better be."

             "Celeste…" Damian muttered, still possessing that distant look in his eyes.

             "Celeste?!  It's Ophelia!" Ophelia yelled.

             "Huh?" As he squinted his eyes, he could see his little 16-year old sister staring at him worriedly, "I'm sorry…"

            Though she couldn't feel them, crystals of water began to fabricate around her eyes.  A broad smile cracked across her face as she stared into the face of her brother.  She looked at him as if he had just come back to life.

             "I'm sorry, Ophelia, that I couldn't have come earlier."

             "Ahh!!  What were you thinking, you idiot!" Ophelia screamed, shaking him uncontrollably by the shoulders.  She didn't care if it hurt him; she needed to release her anger in some form or way.

             "I have to tell you that you look most unpleasant when you're angry." Damian commented rudely.

             "I don't care!  You can't keep doing this…"

             "Ophelia, what's that?" Silas asked, turning to the four corners of the room.

             "Huh…?" Ophelia's hand grasped her wrist with her golden bracelets dangling from her hand.  "What's… what…?"

             "There's something going on outside…"

            Ophelia screamed in shock as the lights had suddenly burnt out.  The windows were covered and the sound of the rain was muffled so that they were closed into complete darkness and silence.

            Damian tried to get out of bed, but Ophelia pushed him down.

             "Don't you dare think you're going anywhere."

             "They're back.  They've chased me all the way here."

            The red from Ophelia's face was drowned away, though no one could see her pale whiteness.  "You come back half-dead, and you bring monsters with you!!"

            At that moment, the glass from the windows shattered, throwing in a million broken pieces like arrows.  Ophelia rose to her feet planting her feet firmly onto the ground.  Though her eyes could not see, she anxiously tore one of her bracelets from her wrist.  Breaking the golden relic, jewels scattered across the wooden floor.  Sharp, bursts of light escaped from the broken bracelet as Ophelia's hands released the shards of gold into the empty space in front of her.  Damian watched in amazement, seduced by the light that illuminated the room.

             "That'll keep them off for a while…" Ophelia reassured, turning back to Damian.  An invisible barrier had fabricated itself to keep the demons of the night.  Like the soft caress of a mother's breath, silence was once again returned.

             "I have to go." Damian said, itching to fight.

             "No, I sad you can't!  You've barely recovered if you even call that recovery.  You'll die!"

             "I'll go." Silas had already slipped on his gloves.  They were as black as night with silver knives attached to each of his knuckles.

             "What?  No, I don't want you to fight either.  There's no place for you in the battlefield."

             "It doesn't matter.  I'll defend this place for as long as I can breathe." Those words sounded all too familiar to him.

            Ophelia stood amidst the awe.  The light flickered as her eyes stared at the man who was standing so close to her, yet too far for her to reach him.  "Silas, I don't want you to get hurt."

             "Don't worry about me."

             "I'm going to have-"

            Just then, the light was snuffed out like the quivering flame of a candle.  Her voice was cut off as Silas felt a sudden chill against his skin.  "Ophelia!!"

            All he could hear was the sound of her muffled voice, slowly sinking into a hoarse whisper.  His heart grew heavier, finding itself grasping all it had left.  A sharp panic tore through his body like a small boy, about to lose all he had in a mere second.

            Closing his eyelids shut, they scraped across the burns on the whites of his eyes.  He focused his mind on the emptiness of the room, trying to control his breathing.  With his hands spread open in front of him, he concentrated on the thing he was most familiar with Ophelia.  Then, as a sudden realization, he felt Ophelia's flickering presence from towards the window.

             "Silas!" Ophelia yelled, breaking free.  In less than a split second, Silas had torn apart the shadow that held her body captive.

             "I'm going out there…" Silas said in a low voice, releasing his fists.

             "Silas, I…" She yelled, but Silas had already disappeared.  "Be careful…"

.

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.

             "Who's that over there?" Edwardo yelled to his partner.

            Lex narrowed his eyes "Hmm…  Someone who dared to come out and fight us?" Though he tried to mask it, Lex had felt a hint of fear inside him as he saw Silas' figure.  Someone who was stupid enough to stand up to them had to have guts, even though he could probably kill his opponent as his punishment for foolishness.  However, he still had the sense of fear inside him; he liked it.  "I'll check this out… you stay here."

            As Lex neared towards Silas, the rain grew harder.  Lex had a smirk across his face, yet Silas was fuming in anger.  The thunder screamed in fear as the two had come to meet each other.

             "Normally, I'd be polite to my opponents, but coming in and trying to suffocate us was not the right way to go."

            Lex smirked, looking at Silas with contempt.  "It's a real shame that you had to come and get meddled into this.  I guess it can't be helped; I'll have to kill you too."

             "You shouldn't speak before your actions."

            The thunder clapped as Silas made the first move.  The air was cold and the rain was thick, making it harder for Silas to move, yet he could feel his opponent's agility decreasing more than his.  Using his leg as a decoy, he kicked towards Lex's chest, but he ducked out of the way.  Silas learned that his legs had power, but his fists were lethal.

            As Lex tried to regain his balance, Silas threw his fist into his stomach, sending him back a few feet.

            Lex smiled an eerie smile, "You're pretty good.  I normally prefer to fight with my shadow since doing it myself gets messy, but I need a little fun once in a while." Just then, Lex felt something pierce inside his stomach.  He quickly looked down and found a small blade that had just broken into hundreds of smaller pieces, just like the glass from the window.  Then, he glowered at his opponent with eyes as red as the blood that seeped from his abdomen.

            Secretly, Lex pulled out a pair of knives, hiding them between his fingers so Silas wouldn't notice.  He had them hidden underneath his shirt, coated with a deathly poison.  As he came towards him once more, Lex shot the knives towards Silas.

            He smiled at first.  The knives ripped through the night's drapery, slicing the ribbons of rain that tumbled down.  Like shooting stars, the light pierced the darkness, only to make death more inevitable.

            In less than a split second, Silas faced forward, concentrating on the abruptness and immediacy of his opponents actions.  Before his breath had escaped from his mouth, he twisted his body, only barely escaping the path of thorns.  The knives had only grazed over the thin air over his skin, but it was enough space to dodge the poison.

             "You think that'd work on me?" Silas mused at Lex's faults, "Something as strong as poison, I can sense most apparently."

            Before Lex's face had a chance to change to shock, Silas had thrown another blow at him, this time in his chest.

            Blood spilled onto the cobblestones, contaminating with the evanescent purity of the rainwater.  Silas' knuckles clashed together with Lex's knives as they fought each other.  Lex's eyes burned with murder, but Silas had no intention of taking his life.  Too many innocent lives had been shed for futile reasons; his fists were only to protect what was important to him.

            Then, in one quick movement, Silas had caught Lex off-guard, ramming his fist straight into Lex's chin.  If the blades had stabbed him all the way in, they'd be able to pierce his tongue from below.  His eyes shot downward, foreseeing a flash of immediacy, foretelling death or life.

            Lex had felt the tip of Silas' blades brush against his skin right before his arm had frozen.  Lex backed away as he watched the arms of his shadow wrap around Silas' arms and legs.  Silas yelled as he tried to break free, but struggling was futile.

            Lex hadn't failed to put up a smile, even when catching the breath he had lost from the fear of losing his life.  "I'm sorry, but when things get ugly, I have to cheat a little.  I wouldn't let myself die off that easily." The golden locket was dangling from his neck, seeming almost untouched.

            Gazing lazily at his near-dead opponent, Lex was able to make out is figure clearly.  Silas opened his mouth to speak, but the shadows had held onto his throat too tightly.  His lungs were burning as if his body was about to explode.  He could only imagine his body being cut open, spilling all across the floors of Vienna.  Was this really the end…?

            Then, as Lex leaned in closely, he noticed the piece of cloth tied over Silas' eyes.  "Oh please, don't make me laugh…  Are you trying to tell me I was fighting a blind man this whole time?  Damn, this has got to be one of the most humiliating battles I've ever…" He sighed, bringing his fingers to meddle with the cloth over his face, "You wouldn't mind, would you?  I apologize for my rudeness."

            As Lex took the handkerchief away, unveiling Silas' eyes, his eyebrows furrowed.  He peered in closer, looking at Silas' pair of crystal, blue eyes.  "Well isn't this interesting…" he said in a softer voice.  His eyes were badly burned, scarred by the fires of hell – the fires of Montegarde.  The strange marks on his eyes were utterly familiar to him.  They were of murder and cruelty, flames that burned the face of innocence.

            Silas refused to give up.  Life was too short and precious to disappear so insignificantly, yet irony allowed it to happen that way.  He closed his eyes, trying to refuse the fate that would soon descend upon him, the fate that was cast upon everything he ever possessed and loved.  It was as if the fires that had destroyed his hometown were burning inside him, taking him back to Hell.

            Then, all of the sudden, the grip on Silas' limbs were loosened.  In a state of shock, Lex jumped backwards, trying to dodge the sword that had been swung at him.

            Silas knew exactly who it was.  "Damian!"

             "I was able to convince Ophelia that if I hadn't come, it'd be too much for a single person to handle."

.

             "And the tall blonde man, he swung his sword effortlessly like a cold blooded monster.  The other can summon demons just form a golden pendant he hangs across his neck."

             "Ahh!!  Silas is gonna die!!"

.

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            Silas bent down and picked up the dampened handkerchief from the ground.  Tying it around his eyes once more, he said, "Good think you came when you did."

            Damian sighed, watching Lex's cowardly figure scamper off into the distance.  He knew the blonde soldier had been wounded previously, and Lex wouldn't dare return again. 

            It was then that he had noticed the hue of his eyes, and the light color of his hair.

            Then, he turned to Silas, "You'd better return to Ophelia.  She's worried about you."

            Silas smiled awkwardly, "I'm sure she's more worried about you."

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            The next morning, the two defeated soldiers had returned to the Montegarde Cathedral.  The sun had shined triumphantly, yet the city bathed in humiliation.

             "Don't… J-just stop…" The queen interrupted.

             "Please, Queen Audrienne, forgive us." Lex pleaded, bowing down to the two figures in front of him.

            The queen looked upon the two with contempt.  Striding down from her throne, her dress draped across the velvet carpet.  The beads from her crown jingled as she brushed passed the two wounded soldiers.

             "Even with this…" She chastised, snatching the locket from Lex's neck.  "Next time, failure is not an option."

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* Thanks to Rach/Foxdance for practically ALL of the names of the characters.  I think I came up with like… 2 or 3… but everyone else was from the angst-goddess. 

* Thanks to Steph/Aznistic for thoroughly editing this chapter.  Without her, the opening chapter would not have been as great as it is (although, there is still room for improvement ^_^;)

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A/N – Well okay, I'm… back…  I wasn't planning on updating today, but I figured u know what I might as well.  This is… VERY different than my usual, and I'm going to try to tone down the romance a bit, but you all know it's gonna inflate in the later chapters.  I have up to chapter 8 written up until now, and I'll be trying to update every week, but since school is so horribly busy, we'll see how that goes.  Well okay, I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. 

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Hated it?  Liked it?  Tell me what you think.  I'm doing a lot of experimenting here so I'm gonna need a lot of feedback.  Drop by a few comments, it wouldn't hurt.