The old trails ended at a large clearing where rubbles and wall remnants scattered everywhere. Lohan scanned the area and slightly nodded to himself, satisfied to know that this was the right place. The hints he managed to obtain a few days ago, coupled with rumors he heard greatly helped him to track down the demon-possessed Kintana, and it had brought him here. He looked upwards to the sky as strong winds hit his face. The sun was entirely engulfed by dark clouds moving with the wind, leaden with rain. Already he could see lightning dancing among the clouds, brightening the area with sudden flashes of light. Noting that a storm would hit the area soon he walked forward, hoping he could find shelter before that. Just his luck, he came to an old building only a few meters away from where he stood. The basic structure suggested that the building was once a keep or a stronghold of sorts, and it matched the remains of a village around the building. He wondered how many generations had passed since the building was last inhabited, for it looked as if it could crumble any minute. It would provide him shelter from the rain, true, but Lohan wasn't confident if it could withstand the storm brewing in the sky.
Deciding to find a more secure shelter before storm hit – a cave, maybe – he scouted around. Alas he found none, and as the winds started to become threatening he was left with no other option but to return to the old stronghold and hoped that the storm would at least subside before nightfall. He didn't want to be stuck there the whole night.
By the time the heavy droplets of rain started to fall Lohan had found a secure area to start a campfire and rested his tired legs. Thunder and lightning danced outside, and though he heard the structure groaning a few times from the winds, it surprisingly held on. He took out a slice of dried bread from his backpack, and at he stared at the campfire he slowly ate.
Either he was too relaxed that he let his guard down or she managed to cloak her presence he wasn't sure, but he was suddenly alert when he saw a woman standing at the entrance of the room. He knew it was a woman for her figure was unmistakably female. He wondered who she was, but he didn't have to wait long for she stepped forward, revealing herself under the light of the campfire.
Her face, even with the lack of makeup, was still what he remembered after all these years. Her large almond eyes still had the look of innocence even after she was possessed, and smooth, clear skin that he longed to feel in his arms. Her red, full lips were still as inviting as it did when he first laid eyes on her. Long, black hair flowed on her back, but lack of care had made it lose its luster, leaving it dull and messy. Once, the tight-fitting leather clothes on her body would have been finely made, but there was barely a hint of its grandeur for it was in tatters and revealed more than it should have covered. There were several dark rusty splotches on the leather that left no question of what it once was. Her sword, the cutlass adorned with a red pommel jewel hung loose on her slender waist.
"Kintana," Lohan shortly said, suddenly alert. He dropped the bread and quickly placed a hand on the hilt of his sword as he stood up, scrutinizing her movements.
Kintana let out a small laugh. It was a laugh that he had remembered hearing so many times in his dreams; a laugh that once, in a time so far away, could ease his worries and calm his heart. Yet that same laugh how brought no such feelings. Instead, it seemed to mock him for his current predicament.
She took a few steps forward and crossed her arms across her chest. "My, you look like you traveled a long way just to find me here," she began, and her dark eyes stared naughtily at him. Her lips curled up to a devilish smile and continued, "Well you found me. So what are you going to do now, Lohan? Do you want to have a little reunion chat, or do you desire something more…interesting?"
Lohan said nothing, yet stared intently at her.
Their eyes met for a moment before her expression suddenly turned serious. "I know you intent to exorcize this body," she spat. "I can smell its stench even before I enter this room."
Despite his fixed expression, he inwardly cursed when he realized that she knew of his intentions. He had hoped to catch Kintana unaware and use the blood he gained from Andraea on her before she could realize what was going on, but he hadn't expected her to find him. Still, he could probably use this to his advantage; from what he learnt on his journey, no demon could resist a blood offering. He reached for the vial of blood from the pouch on his waist and dangled it high towards Kintana. Despite being a few months old, the blood still looked fresh thanks to a simple spell devised by a wizard he met in the first town he stopped after he returned from The End of Time. "This is the real stench you smelt. Sorry to keep you waiting for so long but I'm sure it's worth the wait."
Kintana eyed the vial suspiciously. There was no reason for her to trust Lohan but she knew from the smell that the crimson fluid was blood, and since she had gone for several months without a supply of blood its temptation was too strong for her. As Lohan expected, she quickly lost control over herself. Her hardened expression softened so much that she almost looked like the Kintana he once loved. She began to take a step forward, her hand reaching for the vial. "Please…give it to me. I swear I'll do anything for you. Please, even a sip will do," she begged.
Lohan inwardly grinned. 'She took the bait!' "Not so fast," he snapped, stopping her in her tracks. "I don't trust a single word from a demon like you. Don't try to make any moves, or I'll ruin this blood." With that, he quickly took out another vial filled with holy water. "Now," he cynically continued, "I'll give you the blood, but only if you agree to my terms."
The look of disappointment in her face was priceless. "And that is?" she dejectedly asked.
"Get out from that body, and you can have this," he answered. Lohan fixed his gaze on Kintana and lowered the holy water, intentionally lowering his guard.
The flicker in her eyes told him that she was reacting exactly as he expected. "You're too careless!" she yelled and charged toward him, snatching the vial of blood from his hand before delivering a blow on his gut that made him double in pain.
Through his pain, he managed to let out a triumphant smile when he saw her pulling the cork from the vial and greedily gulped down the blood. At first nothing happened and he was worried that the blood had lost its effectiveness, but suddenly she let out a painful scream and fell to the ground. She held her body tight as she rolled around a few times. The scream continued, and when he caught a glimpse of the pain in her eyes his heart went out to her. He wanted so much to ease the pain, yet all he could do was stand there, telling himself that it was necessary for her to return in his arms again. He could only hope that she survived the exorcism.
The screams went on for a little while until it slowly ceased. Kintana lay there unmoving, facing away from him. Lohan cautiously moved closer and gently pulled her shoulder to examine her condition. As he did so Kintana suddenly opened her eyes. She stared at him in hatred and rage as she croaked, "You tricked me!"
There was a blur of movements, too fast for even Lohan's eyes to register, and the next thing he knew there was a jolting pain on his chest. There was a satisfying grin on Kintana's lips, and when he looked down he saw a small dagger protruding on his chest. He gave Kintana a disbelieving look as he stumbled backwards, and saw her grin disappearing as she let out a final howl before she fell unconscious.
Lohan knew he wouldn't survive; the dagger was poisoned, and already the numbness began to spread all over his body. With all the strength left in him, he crawled closer to the unconscious Kintana and touched her cheek with his bloodied hand. Through the numbing pain he managed to form a smile. That simple touch brought back all the memories they had shared between them, flashing through his eyes. It went too fast for him to focus on anything clearly, but in the end all he could see was her warm smile before he surrendered into oblivion.
x x x
The hard splatter of rain outside the ancient stronghold slowly brought Kintana back to her consciousness. She let out a soft groan as she slowly opened her eyes. The first thing that caught her attention was the burning campfire not far from her. Her body felt weak, yet she forced herself assume a sitting position. A slight dizziness overwhelmed her and she closed her eyes and hung her head low, trying to get her blood circulation to normal. There was a tangy taste in her mouth and she spat a bit to rid the taste away. When she opened her eyes again, she noticed the bloodstains on her clothes and splotches of blood around her. It was then that she finally noticed a body next to her, lying on a pool of blood. At that moment, everything came back to her.
"Lohan!" she cried and he rolled his body over. Blood was everywhere, and she saw a dagger – her dagger – sticking out from his chest. Her mind was blank; all she thought of at the time was continuously shaking his still body in hopes that he would respond, whispering his name in his ears. At the back of her mind however, she knew that he would never answer. Finally, she let out a loud cry. As tears flowed freely from her eyes she placed his head on her lap and cried over the death of the love of her life.
x x x
The storm soon subsided, and when the sun came out it was already twilight. For Kintana, it seemed fitting for her; the storm was an analogue to her demon-induced haze, and its end only brought twilight to her life. She glanced up to the sky, asking the Gods if they were watching her from high above and laughing at her for their great accomplishment to prevent their children from committing a great sin. She asked them if it was worth to kill the man she ever loved just to deny them the chance to be together forever. And she asked them again if they were ever sorry for what they had done and stared harshly at the sky as if challenging the Gods.
Kintana then closed her eyes and took a deep breath, calming herself before shifting her gaze to the simple grave she fashioned for Lohan. It was merely blocks of stones she picked up from around the area and stacked them upon one another over the body of her love, but for her, it was enough to show her respect in preparing for his eternal slumber. She wished that she could give the love of her life a more extravagant – or at least, a proper funeral – but there was nothing much she could do in her state. The best she was able to do was to choose the best stones she could find for the makeshift tomb. His broken sword served as a headstone for this otherwise unmarked grave.
She had been living all these years in a haze after she allowed the demon to possess her. During that time she had glimpses of what the demon did with her body to gain what it wanted, and the memories – some shameful, some horrifying – were better left unsaid. However she did remember the time she fought with Lohan and broke his sword, because it was her consciousness that restrained the demon from killing him right then and there. Through the demon's ears she heard what Lohan did after she was exiled from the land, that he went against the king's will and ultimately became an outcast, like her. She knew how foolish that was, but she knew him far too well to know that it was the only outcome possible even if she herself had begged him not to chase after her.
The thought that he had cured her only for her to lose him forever almost brought the tears back into her eyes, but she steeled herself and forced it away. She was almost certain no Gods would hear her prayers for the sins she and Lohan had tried to commit, but she knelt down and whispered her prayers anyway. She prayed for the Gods to calm his spirit and kept it safe from oblivion, so that when it was time for her to leave this world they would meet again on the other side.
Kintana slowly stood up again, and giving a last glance at his grave, she drew her cutlass and swore on her name that she would avenge him for making their lives tormented like this. She was about to turn away when she paused and glanced at her cutlass. After a moment's thought, she stacked it next to Lohan's broken sword. She didn't need that cursed blade anymore. Despite the raging tides of anger and solemn sadness, she could only sense emptiness beyond her heart's door. Even she had to avenge him the blood of others she would shed would be made by her own hands. She pulled Lohan's fur coat around her tighter and silently walked away towards the old trails as crimson sky above her turned rapidly into night.
Fugitive of Fate
Started: 28 November 2001
Completed: 09 October 2006