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S e r e n e: Distinc.t
Summary: Amongst all things good and evil, there are the confused. Elise Xue was such one.
RATED T for Violence, Coarse Language and(somewhat) mature themes.
(Mind you, it's probably worthy of M but my cousin didn't mind reading it, so I'm posting it as T.)
A/N: Delightfully forgot about the 2-day delay for posting work.
p. Waltz of Death
Dedicated to those forgotten in the ages
The feeling of death was near.
"I've always wondered what it felt like to lead a life without the voices."
Joshua raised his blade ever so slightly, anger flaring is his murky blue eyes as he took in the sight.
He raised his head up from an Earthland magazine and faced her. "Voices?" He asked, curious.
His entire world was gone and he couldn't stop it. Walking slowly along the edges of the grounds, he observed the flaming banners that hung limply on the poles, condemned to their fate; to perish. Just as how the humans that had affixed them to their deathbeds were. The renowned location where the acclaimed 'Melbourne Cup' took place every year was in ruins, as was the complex metropolis that once spun around it.
She tapped the side of her head. "Voices," she murmured quietly, as if in trance. "The ones that come at night and when you're alone, without music."
His steps were light as he passed various fallen pieces of debris, and with a heavy heart he slowly made his way towards the heart of the prestigious location, his destination being the exit at the other end. A single, lone hawk above him swiftly moved in arcs, its sharp, beady eyes scanning for prey as it called every time it turned in the ever-darkening sky. The sky itself was dreadful, turned a dreaded scarlet as a result of the bloody haze from the merciless manslaughter of at least five thousand innocent Earthlanders.
"You mean the boogeyman, right Elise?" He asked brightly, enthusiastic at the prospect of an urban legend being true.
The stench of open flesh beginning to decay constantly hammered at his nose, the mutilated bodies of countless spectators splayed disgustingly across the grounds. He was forced to breathe through his mouth, to no avail as foul stench didn't improve in the slightest.
"No no, you idiot." She replied with a light laugh, reaching across the sofa to smack the back of the boy's head. "Never mind."
'That was then,' his voice echoed in the distant parts of his mind. 'Not now. I understand it all now, Elise. I promise.' He stared into the distance, the eerie silence wrapping itself around him. 'You don't have to run away anymore, we understand now. I won't let-'
"Let me?" A shrill, delusional laugh splayed through the shuddering silence. "You can't even touch me, let control what I can or can't do!" The light breeze dancing on his skin turned for the worst. Extremely strong winds conjured by what could only be assumed to be magic flew across the grounds, clearing the last of the debris into the stands and releasing dust into the air. Through the screen, Joshua could only make out a slight, slim silhouette that could only have been Elise step into the grounds.
'Her mana...' He doubled over as the wind intensified even further, almost blowing him away yet not quite, instead battering at him. 'It's so... Strong...'"ELISE!" He roared, his voice feebly fighting a losing battle as the sound was tossed carelessly aside. "Come out and fight me like a true warrior!" He slammed the blunt edge of his weapon into the ground, sending ripples of wind outwards, countering her own wind.
"A REAL warrior, huh?" In a flash, she appeared, sneering. "You are aware that it was you who cowered during battle and revealed our location?" She glared at him, a cold, solemn glare unlike of the Elise he had once known. "That it was your fault that he died, saving us for something that you failed to do?"
"I am aware of that, and I always have been." Joshua replied curtly. "It was a matter of honour, and he was willing to do it to help us escape and continue protecting the Shaman-"
"Mission or not." Her steely gaze abruptly began to unnerve him. "It. Was. Not. Our. Mission. To Sacrifice. A. Friend." She said through her teeth, breathing heavily.
"Adam only knew too well the consequences." He said flatly, briefly closing his eyes for a moment, before re-opening them. "It wasn't expected that he died in the ambush."
She had enough. "Excuses, EXCUSES!" She roared, a demon-like voice edging her own. "Consequences or not, you don't let them take a friend, a teammate!" She raised her blade, and fell back into a battling stance, closing her cerulean eyes. "Oh, what am I saying now?" She opened her eyes- now turned a eerie, striking violet- with a glare. "I'm no longer a part of this so called team. Let the Light make the final judgement for your selfish actions!" In a flash, she had disappeared and reappeared in front of him, her broadsword moving in to slash at his arms.
Instinctively, he backed off, his blade drawn faster than her attack and the two weapons collided, sparks flying wilding into the air, the two skidding back a few metres from the impact of the blades alone. With two hands, she raised the diamond-edged blade, to which Joshua caught his reflection in the reflective surface just as the weapon burst into a brilliant nova of light, only to swing her weapon down as a double sided bronze hammer that was surely at least double the size of her.
"The Light has made their divine judgement, and nothing will be reversed." She whispered, disappearing once more into the shadows of the ever-setting sky. "They have been kind. They are condemning you to a life in the shadows."
Joshua turned as soon as he had sensed her mana, only to see golden rose thorns miraculously rising from the cracking ground and winding itself around her hammer. 'Is it me, or did that hammer GROW...?'He swore and sidestepped the attack just in time as she swung the enormous weapon down towards him, slamming it down. "Well," he landed on the trunk of a fallen tree, observing the sizable crater that now lay in the middle of the ground before reverting his gaze to her own poisonous one. "Perhaps, just perhaps, this 'Light' of yours ought to look at YOU, instead." He lifted his hand, and a double-edged dagger with an obsidian hilt materialized in his hands. "Killing thousands of innocent Earthlanders, yet you're accusing ME of merciless murder! Look at yourself, Elise, for you are the very definition of a DEMON!"
"Tch, you're much more ignorant than I thought." She wiped a trail of blood off her lips on the back of her sleeve before gripping her hammer with both hands. "Come and meet your fate, Joshua!" She charged at him, her arms behind her gripping on the hammer again, scarlet rose-thorns rising from the ground and digging itself into the hammer.
'Why would she be using Scarlett?' He leapt into the air and rolled over her hammer just barely. A thorn brushed the sleeve of his left arm and tore it off as a result. 'The deity of the Blood Nation... Hold on, that means-'He landed awkwardly but twisted around and flung his dagger straight into the deity seal on the centre of her hammer, just praying that he had enough will and strength behind the blade.
For a split second, he was certain that the blow had not made the cut, but a moment later, cracks slowly formed in the surface of the great hammer, moving across intricate bronze carvings and pieces of the hammer soon began to clutter to the floor. Rolling her eyes, she merely tossed the crumbling hammer aside and moved into a position that he was only too familiar with.
'Shit.'He could only stare at Elise, whose head was facing the sky, her arms outstretched as if wanting a hug. She was slowly rising into the sky, an intricate, glowing pattern filled with runes circling the floor and etching themselves across her arms. With her pupils rolled back, she began... Glowing.
'The HELL? The last time I checked, insane teammates didn't glow.'He crossed his arms in front of him, his left on top of his right and swung out, particles gathering to form two long, curving claws around his hands. Focusing on the girl that had once been his mentor, his teammate, his friend. A blazing yellow aura enclosed him, replenishing his strength, giving him the will to take on the girl that he had once... Loved, at a point in time. He sped forward and aimed for her before he hit something- a force field made entirely of high-pressured wind- and flew backwards, creating a large tunnel in the foundations of the spectator stands.
He was in trouble. The only thing he knew was that she was preparing for something big. Something that would be spectacular, gruesome, and beautiful, at the same time. Something virtually indestructible. Joshua picked himself up and charged forward again, a cold aura circling his arms. He struck the edge of the force field with his left claw, only for him to be forced backwards in another direction.
'To err once is human. To do it twice is stupid.' They were words that he had ignored, so many times. They were the words that could have saved a friend. Yet, being himself, he had ignored them. It was a fatal mistake that he had vowed to never repeat again.
He simply stood there, gently swaying side to side as he observed the now-light violet bubble gradually expand outwards, as if it was a giant bubble made from gum. The surface eventually came to a point where it was near transparency, and he was only about twenty metres away from the thing.
Joshua closed his eyes for what was less than a fraction of a second, and in that moment his whole life flowed through his mind. Memories, experiences, lessons, moments, they all lingered in his mind, moving faster than he could comprehend them yet they seemed to drag on forever, and he saw times from his past, a time when he was determined never to have a choc-chip ice-cream ever again, times where he thought that he would die in a seemingly impossible battle, times when he were laughing until tears came out, times when he had supported his friends. And in between, faces of everyone he had met, everyone who had talked to him, everyone who had made an impression on his life.
Yet above it all, was a feminine voice, one he could not have distinguished, singing a song in the distance, with words which he could not have made out.
He was plunged back into reality the moment a loud, resounding crack echoed through the now barren land. A blood-red wisp began curling towards the edge of the bubble right in the centre on the top, slowly but surely forming a seal which he finally recognised to be a Blood Contract. He bit his lip as he stood, breathing heavily and gazing at the seemingly thin bubble, wondering what lay ahead of him.
He knew only too well the consequences of a Blood Contract, as they had observed the events unfold with an age-old enemy, yet this time it was different. It was Elise that was doing it, and as an obvious result her movements were much more elegant, much to his taste compared to the brisk and clumsy movements of Julius. He merely twisted around the bubble, looking queasy whilst she twirled with the grace of an angel around her growing bubble of, as odd as it sounded to his delusional self, despairingly oppressive doom. The bubble seemed to grow faster as it continued to expand.
'She really can change a lot in the space of a month.' He drearily thought, his eyes raising towards her. 'Sorry Elise, but I'll have to burst your bubble.'Smirking at his own half-witted humour, he focused on his claws and the familiar gentle, warm yellow aura surrounded them. With an abrupt burst of speed, he ran head-on towards the bubble, launching himself into the air just before the bubble reached the spot where he had just occupied, somersaulting halfway across the now-rapidly expanding bubble when he conjured a strong wind to raise his altitude.
Half a second later, he was falling back towards the bubble, his arms pressed together with the claws forming a point facing the seal.
The metal struck the seal, sinking into the waxy material. A small crack appeared at the tips of the claws, much to his triumph.
Which slowly turned to a small gasp of horror, for the seal was beginning to eat into the pristine metal of his claws. Trying to apply more force, he pressed harder, but the material only ate into the metal faster. He clenched his right fist and abruptly unclasped the inner mechanism, releasing the iron grip it had to his hand before he punched the claw- still with power, miraculously- and recoiled instinctively from the barring sensation of punching solid diamond-infused metal. He punched again, to no avail. His left claw was at half-length and deteriorating at a set rate.
'Third time's the charm, I suppose.'He thought bitterly before he punched the claw even harder, forcing it into the seal and bringing his left hand dangerously close to the weird substance that was eating at his weapons. Blood started to drip from his right hand from the impact, yet he had advanced no further than he was ten seconds ago.
Until something strange happened.
A drop of his blood had landed on the seal, and it had affected the substance considerably, burning through the seal quickly.
'Blood must have been the weakness all this time! I can't believe I didn't know that!'He gritted his teeth, unclasping his left hand from the claw as well. Balancing in a crouched position precariously on a deteriorating set of top-quality claws wasn't exactly the best situation he'd been in. Nor was reforming the air into a dagger and forming a wound on the back of his hand, blood flowing swiftly and landing on the seal.
Smoke was rising all around the seal as it burned away at the contact of his blood. Before long, the bubble was deteriorating as the seal was broken.
Elise instantly fell out of her trance, collapsing onto the ground. Joshua twisted and landed, taking out his gun and loading the last round of bullets. Slowly, carefully, he approached her unmoving body as if he was approaching a hideously disfigured creature.
He reached her, his gun pointing to her head, his bloodied right hand trembling as it curled defensively around the gun. Yet, he sighed and stooped down, returning his gun to its hold and gently lifted her, arranging her arms loosely around his neck and holding her legs. With a slight limp, he began towards the exits of the stadium that they had classily trashed. Like they always had.
"Why... Are you doing... This?" Her voice was cracked and weak, in a soft whisper that only barely reached his ears. "You're... Supposed... To kill me..."
"As much as I'd like to admit, you're pretty chill to hang out with." He responded, his breath coming in slightly ragged breaths. He'd have to drug her later, since for him, it was practically a declaration of his love forever. Which wasn't precisely good for his reputation.
"The enemy... Shouldn't declare that... I'm 'chill to hang out with'." Her voice lowered even further.
"I'm not your enemy." He stopped briefly to shake his head. "I'll always be the same Joshua. Your friend."
"But... You killed him... And blamed me... Because of that... Everyone abandoned me." Glistening drops fell onto his chest.
"No, I didn't blame you. And no-one abandoned you, you went missing on the last mission we were supposed to do." His head lowered, as if in shame. "It was my fault. I saw your body... Then when I heard you were alive, that you actually didn't die, I was overjoyed. But, you didn't recognise me. You didn't recognise anyone. And when you disappeared again, I thought you hated me..."
"I do hate you." Her voice abruptly changed from a hoarse whisper to a sneer. "As if I'd let the enemy try to brainwash me again."
His eyes widened as she clicked his own gun to his temple. He stopped almost immediately. Her voice was filled with malice. "I would be a disgrace if I let anyone escape, let alone defeat me. Ha! I won't even spare you a quick and merciless death; you destroyed my Blood Contract, which is absolutely unforgivable." She lowered the gun and ripped his right steel shoulder plate, tossing it carelessly aside before tapping the gun against his shoulder and shooting at it. He winced as the bullet dug into his shoulder, dropping to his knees. A flame billowed out after the bullet made contact, but she quickly snuffed it out with a wave of her arm. "Can't have you dying too fast now, can we?" She untangled herself from his arms and pointed his gun at him. Unsatisfied at the lack of response, she kicked his back. "Not too fast now, can we?" She repeated.
"No." He responded in between ragged breaths. "Of course I won't die that easily."
Her eyes were drawn to the gaping hole the fire had left in his coat and shirt. "My, my, we can't have you in such a manner in front of your new leader now, can we?" She shrugged and placed his gun in an empty hold, forming a dagger and holding the cool metal against his skin. His body froze at the contact. She rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, if you claim to know me so well then you would have seen this" she tore the right side of his coat and shirt off "coming."
"Oh no, don't get me wrong." He turned to face her and grinned. "I just didn't know my darling partner was such a pervert when she's so evil and sadistic." He raised something- an air blade that she could barely see- and held it at her. "Now, don't you think it's a little perverted to be doing this to your poor little martyr?"
"You little bastard!" She screeched, slashing his back. "I'm not your fucking partner anymore! Get that idea through your thick little skull, you blithering idiot!"
Joshua groaned at the wound in his back, but he still rolled around and slashed at her legs. She easily fended off the blows before dealing another to his left arm and leaping back to safety. "Since when did you have so much energy after the Blood Contract?" He grimaced, using the blade to help him stand up.
"More curiously, how do you still have half your mana capacity intact after I inflicted those wounds on you?"
Snap. She knew all about it all along.He shifted his hold on the sword to his left and swiped at her, an air wave flinging from his blade and flying towards her.
It hit her squarely in the chest, the wind knocked out of her and blood flowing freely out of the wound.
"Did you have this power with you all this time?" She laughed, collapsing to her knees. "How odd is it that this power couldn't even save your brother?" All the color drained from his face and he stopped on the spot, much to her satisfaction. "It was so fun, hearing him scream!" She cackled, meekly raising a finger to her neck and tugging at a leather cord. "This was his, didn't you notice?" She lifted a silver medallion from her shirt, bloodied and barely hanging from the blow he had dealt to her.
"You... Killed my brother?" Was all he managed to croak out, his eyes widening as he took the information in.
"Yup!" She grinned sadistically. "Exactly the way you killed Adam, you bastard."
"Why, you... FUCKING BITCH!" He roared, launching himself at her with all his fury, his fury from the loss of a dearly loved one, his fury directed at the one whom he had once entrusted with his life. "YOU KILLED HIM, SO I'LL KILL YOU!" He screamed, slashing at her body, blood spurting at him, mingling with his own. "I'LL AVENGE HIM!" Her body fell to the ground, her limbs splayed out, the same, haunting grin on her face.
I avenged you, brother. Panting and out of power, Joshua soon followed, falling on top of her, his blood mingling with hers, his consciousness slipping away from his grip as all went black.
From a distance, a shadow walked away from the scene, a sly grin on her face as she licked her midnight purple lips. For her work was done. Elise Xue was no more; fallen in the waltz of death with her lover.
Didn't you know of love anymore, Elise?
A/N: Reviews are appreciated, not mandatory. Do you know how freaking hard it was to pull off the poor attempt at trying to convey the fact that Joshua here actually still likes Elise? Poor fellow. Man, I must seem like a bloody sadist right now ._.;;
Just a FYI #1: A Blood Contract was an agreement for the caster's body to be used as a host to the demon they summon. The demon's power is tremendously powerful, although it comes at a price. The caster's blood is slowly sucked away as the demon continues to fight. The only problem is that there is no record of any Blood Contract caster to live through the ritual, as all either died from the loss of blood or they died fighting the demon they summoned, trying to break the seal.
The Blood Contracts' weakness is from its seal, which is weak to another's blood, especially if it's purer(in terms of conscience) than the casters', where in usual cases, it is. The seal then has trouble accepting both such pure blood and such murky blood, to which it disintegrates from the overload of different blood.
Backstory(And a little A/N)
The story takes place in both modern-day Earth(Referred as 'Earthland') and a world found orbiting the sun in the opposite direction, where the mass continents are direct mirror images of how Earthland's continents are. However, the two worlds are not linked in a physical way, as it is actually the result of a rip in space's fabric and the new world is actually from a parallel dimension.
Astronauts recently discovered the new world and discovered that the newly discovered world contained a form of energy known as mana, which is not available at Earthland.
However, the worlds went into strife as both didn't want to exist in the same space, but the conflict was eventually fixed in a subsequent peace treaty called by the current leaders of both worlds. The treaty also called on a series of portals that allowed the user to teleport between both worlds, landing in exactly the same geological spot as Earthland. (Both planets are identical in size and shape, although the only currently 'inhabitable' country by normal citizens is the Earthland equivalent of Australia.)
The prologue is more of a futuristic scene, which is a direct consequence of common themes and problems regarding mental illnesses and the modern society today. It won't be exactly accurate, but I think I'll be having a lot of fun researching topics for this.
The idea was derived from my delusional brain whilst eating pasta. Just thought I'd let you guys know.
Characters featured in this Prologue:
Elise Xue: Age 21
Joshua "Sharp": Age 19
Alison: Age 20