Trust. Friendship. Love.
These are the weapons used to rend someone a fate worse than death.
Not even the most terrible method of torture conceived by man could equal the amount of suffering caused by these weapons.
It is consuming... burning... endless...
But what makes it worse is that it is nearly impossible to fully hate the ones who cause such an agonizing affliction.
For these are the weapons used by Angels.
Puffy white clouds drifted lazily through the blue sky. High above the sun was shining, bathing the forest below with the soothing warmth of a new spring. It was a welcoming change from the last cold breaths of winter.
I stared out across the forest from a high shaded tree branch, listening intently to the song of unseen birds. Sighing, I leaned back against the trunk of the tree I was sitting against, squinting slightly from the thin beams of light piercing the leaves above me. Everything was felt so relaxing. It wasn't too hot nor was it too cold and I couldn't help but feel so lazy. I just wished everything could just stay like this... comfortable with nothing to worry about and nothing to do. Just to be at peace like this was... like a dream.
With a quiet yawn I started to close my eyes. Sitting so high up in a tree it was probably a bad idea to start falling asleep, but I figured I'd be okay. The branch I was sitting on was pretty thick, almost as thick as a car, so I decided that it was pretty safe to relax. Just five minutes, that's all I wanted, just five...
A sharp crackle of static in my left ear suddenly jolted me awake. I winced as I sat up quickly, and touched an earphone in my left ear, cursing quietly. I had been wearing it for so long that I had totally forgotten that it was in my ear. "Damn, and just when everything was perfect."
With a hiss of static I heard a male voice in my left ear. It was calm, cool, collected. "He's heading in your direction. Get ready."
I groaned as I slowly rose to my feet, wishing that I was on a vacation. I couldn't even remember the last time I had a full day to just relax. "Don't worry. I'll be ready."
Sighing once more I lifted my gaze over the forest spreading out before me. In the distance I saw the town of Aeria nestled just at the foot of the mountain range, but the town itself wasn't what I was interested in. It was the bright glimmering speck of light that was rising above the town, which was steadily growing as it moved in my direction.
I shrugged my rifle from my shoulder and loaded it in one smooth motion before lifting it up to take aim. Looking through the scope was a bit shaky at first. All I saw was the crosshairs and the forest before me, then the sky, then the forest again, until finally my sight rested on the glimmering light moving through the air. Even through the scope the light was incredibly bright, causing me to squint, but as it drew close I could see faint traces of movement within its glimmering veil. "I see him."
There was a crackle in my earphone. "Go ahead. I'm on my way."
"You got it."
I held my breath, steadying my aim as I centered the crosshairs in the center of the glimmering light. It was too bright to get a perfect aim at my target but I knew that it had to be somewhere in the center of the light.
The rifle jolted in my arms as I fired. Reflexively I quickly lifted my hand from the trigger and pulled back on the rifle's bolt, which ejected the hot empty shell before I loaded another round into the chamber. I shifted my finger to the trigger as I returned my aim on my target, but then I paused, realizing that I didn't have to shoot anymore.
Smoke rose from the barrel of my rifle as I lowered it slowly before I stared into the sky. The glimmering light was breaking apart, tearing into shreds as the moving thing inside of it fell towards the world below. I watched silently as I saw the figure of a man with a pair of large feathery white wings fall through the light. Even from this distance I could see him clutching his shoulder as he continued to fall, until finally disappearing into the forest.
I whistled slowly as I threw my rifle across my back and tightening the strap around my chest. I was hoping that I would have killed him on the first shot, but it seemed that I missed. "The Angel's down. He's wounded, but hopfully the fall will kill him."
The voice in my earphone said. "We have to make sure either way."
"Yeah..." I replied as I looked down from the branch I was standing on. I placed my hand on the black hilt of my sword that was hanging from the left side of my waist. "Well, I'll see you there."
Leaping off the branch I dove straight down. Branches and leaves rushed past me in a blur of color as I plummeted toward the forest floor. The first few times I was scared as hell to do something like this, but after all the hunts I've been on I eventually got used to it.
I flipped forward as a branch directly in my path rushed up to meet me. The moment I completed my turn I kicked downward on the branch and immediately launched myself forward towards the next tree. As soon as I reached the next branch I propelled myself forward once again, jumping from branch to branch as I headed in the direction where the Angel fell.
I cursed myself, wishing that the Angel had fallen closer to me.
A gentle breeze flowed through the forest clearing, causing the tall blades of grass to bend and rise in waves. Everything flowed perfectly until the waves reached the center of the clearing, where the grass was stamped down and in a tangled mess. It was there that I saw him, the Angel.
He was on his feet, his chest heaving as he breathed hard. His wings were curled around him slightly, poised in such a way as if they were trying to protect him. Blood flowed down the Angel's right arm, which hung limply at his side. With his free hand he clutched his shoulder tightly where the bullet had struck him. The entire right side of his shirt was soaked in blood, and from the look on his face he really looked like he was hurting. I didn't blame him. After getting shot and falling a few stories, I'd be in pain as well, if not dead. I was surprised that he was able to find the strength to stand.
I kept my back against a tree at the edge of the clearing, keeping myself out of sight as I watched the Angel. He was dressed in ordinary clothes just like any ordinary person. Everytime I saw an Angel like this I always felt a little strange. If it wasn't for the wings, they'd look like any normal person... but I knew better. They weren't normal. Hell, they weren't even human.
The Angel was sweating profusely as he looked around. I couldn't help but be reminded of a cornered animal. I reached my hand back slowly, touching the stock of my rifle with my gloved fingers. How easy it would be to just shoot him from here. It would make things so much easier, but to do that would be very expensive. A firearm was a new piece of technology, and there weren't very many of them around, as well as finding a place to buy ammunition. Looks like I have to do things the usual way.
Taking in a deep breath I stepped out from behind the tree and walked calmly into the clearing. I squinted a bit from the sudden glare of sunlight as I approached the Angel.
The Angel took a step back the moment he saw me, his eyes growing wide as he noticed the barrel of my rifle sticking out behind my shoulder. "Y-You! Who... who are you?! Are you with that other guy?!"
"That's of no concern to you." I replied calmly as I continued toward the Angel. I crossed my hand over my waist and curled my fingers around the hilt of my sword. He was panicking, but I didn't mind. All of them panicked before the end.
"Why? Why are you doing this?! I didn't do anything to you!"
"Why? It's simple, really. It's because you're an Angel." I said calmly as I drew my sword. The blade was entirely black, just like the hilt. As always, it never reflected the light nor gave off the slightest luster. This sword was... like the solid form of a shadow.
"W-wait! Don't kill me!" the Angel yelled as he stumbled backward unsteadily. He stumbled, nearly falling from his panic.
I didn't stop walking. I've seen this reenactment many times. The fear, the trembling, and sometimes fits of anger. Either way, he'll beg for mercy. No matter how tough they act, they always beg.
"Please don't! I... I have a son!" the Angel yelled. "Please... I-I don't want to leave him like this!"
I paused, surprised by what Angel said. In all the times I had hunted them, none of them had ever spoken about having children. They would beg, but always for themselves. Wait... this must be a trick.
"You're lying. You don't have a son." I replied as I stood no more than five feet away from the Angel. I held my sword down at my side as I stared at the Angel with narrowed eyes.
"No! I'd never! I-I even have a picture! W-wait! Here! I'll show you!" the Angel blurted out as he turned his upper body. He released his shoulder as he reached behind him to take out his wallet, but without warning he suddenly burst foward with a flash of light.
Shit! I lifted my sword quickly to defend myself and in a sharp crackle of energy I suddenly found myself staring into a blade of light just in front of my eyes. The Angel was glaring at me from between our clashed blades as he pushed against me with his sword.
"You bastard!" I yelled as I held my sword tightly with both hands. I strafed to the right as I turned, letting the Angel's blade slide down along mine as his forward pressure sent him stumbling forward. I quickly dropped down on one knee as I spun behind the Angel and slashed out across his back with my sword. Much to my surprise he had already regained his footing and easily repelled my sword with one of his massive wings and hit me full force.
I grunted, feeling as if I was hit by a rushing wall as I was lifted off the ground and thrown back. I winced, surprised by the Angel's strength, but I didn't have time to be struck with wonder. Even before my feet touched the ground I saw the angel on the move. He was rushing straight at me, holding his sword with his good arm. Damn he's fast! Even injured he could still move like this!
"I won't let you take me away from my family!" the Angel yelled as he thrust his sword at me as I fell towards the ground.
I narrowed my eyes as I swung at the Angel's sword, knocking it off to his left and leaving him wide open. I saw the Angel's eyes grow wide as I touched the ground and pushed forward, ramming my shoulder into him as I thrust my sword into this chest.
The Angel coughed out blood as he fell against me heavily. The fabric on shirt steadily turned red around where my blade had been planted in his chest.
"Wh...why..." he coughed weakly as he stared unseeingly into my eyes. His sword of light flickered before vanishing into the air in the form of golden mist.
"I told you." I replied calmly, despite my slight labored breathing. "It's because you're an Angel."
Bracing myself, I pulled my sword out of the Angel. Blood flooded out of his chest the moment my sword left his body, which splashed over my clothes and face. I stepped to the side, letting the Angel fall forward and into the grass.
I stared down at the Angel's body as his blood ran down my face. "Nice try, but you got what you deserved."
Kneeling beside the Angel, I pulled out his wallet. The moment I opened it I saw a picture of the Angel, smiling as he stood with a woman and a little boy, but in the picture he didn't have wings.
I frowned as I looked down at the Angel. So he wasn't lying to me after all, and that didn't make any sense. Angels never said anything like that. They always spoke for themselves and never about anyone else, but this one did.
"Looks like he gave you some trouble." I heard someone say behind me.
I turned around and saw a man walking toward me dressed all in white. On his waist he also had a sword like mine, but his was all white. I recognized him immediately. He was my partner, the one who was speaking to me in my earphone.
"Yeah... he surprised me a little." I replied before looking back at the Angel. I closed the wallet in my hand before dropping it on the body. "You're late, Justian."
Justian chuckled as he walked over to the Angel and grabbed on of his wings. "Actually, I was having a good time watching you fight. You've improved."
"Right." I said before shutting my eyes and turning away. I already knew what was going to happen next, and the sudden sound of ripping flesh only confirmed it. Even though I wasn't looking, I knew what was happening: Justian was tearing out the Angel's wings. This was the part of the job that I never enjoyed and never really liked to see with my own eyes either.
"Not bad. They're not as big as the last one's, but they should fetch us a pretty good price anyway." I heard Justian say.
"Yeah... sure." I replied as I turned away and starting walking toward the clearing's edge. I held my sword to my side as I walked, letting the long grass wipe away the Angel's blood from its blade as I moved. "I'll wait for you back at the inn."
"Sure. It's a good thing you always wear black, you know. It hides the blood a lot better." Justian said before I heard another tearing of flesh.
"...Yeah, it does." I whispered as I continued to walk away, staring at a photo in my hand of the Angel and his family, their smiles frozen in time.