Bringing Hell In A Dress

(Huntress - The Echoing Green)

Light filtered into the dim room. Though it was part of an abandoned warehouse, Cobra had his soundproof room decorated lavishly with beautiful paintings and expensive furniture, all stolen of course. He couldn't care less about the rest of the place but he, for one, wanted to live a life of luxury. Standing at a nearby window was a young woman clad in a tight, red dress. As he sat on a red sofa, Cobra gave her a once-over before licking his lips. She was small in stature but her barely-clothed curves more than made up for it. Her slightly wavy reddish-brown hair cascaded down her bare shoulders, and in her striking green eyes was a fire he had never seen before in any other.

It wasn't every day that a woman was willing to give herself to him, even if it was for money. Most tried to run away, making the locked metal doors screech as they tried to claw their way out. All their efforts were futile for even if they were somehow able to get past the doors, his many underlings were stationed throughout the abandoned warehouse they had named their headquarters. Cobra was tired of the games he played with these women; pretending that she could escape and then brutally taking her, after which he would toss her to his underlings to toy with. But this one was different. She was more than willing to become his pet. Change is good.

The young woman flashed Cobra a dazzling smile and he tugged her to him so that she now straddled his legs. He began to kiss her neck, eliciting soft gasps from her as his scarred hands moved downwards. Her tight red dress slowly rose up her legs to revealing more of her smooth, tan thighs.

"W-Wait a moment," she said shyly. Cobra chuckled. A shy prostitute. Now there's something you don't see every day. He ignored her protests and his hands continued to explore her luscious body. The young woman sighed with happiness and wrapped her arms around Cobra's neck.

She then brought her mouth to his ears, and she whispered softly, "Sweet dreams." Cobra's eyes widened in alarm. He pushed her away with a shove, cursing all the while. Damn. She was here to kill him. Even if he shouted for help, the guards wouldn't be able to hear him through the soundproof walls. He rushed to grab his gun from across the room, but he had realized the dangerous threat too late.

The young woman unsheathed the knife she had concealed in her cleavage and threw it. It flew straight and embedded itself into Cobra's neck to the hilt. Sticking out from the other side of his neck was the bloodied point of the knife. cobra let out a strangled gargle before crumpling onto the floor. The young woman walked over to his lifeless body away and withdrew her knife, making blood spatter across her face. "Pathetic," she spat. "I was hoping for more of a fight."

The young woman promptly picked the lock of the only exit to the room and opened the doors. As she was informed, there were two men "guarding" the other side: one was sleeping where he stood and the other was twirling his gun around his finger when he looked up at her. She smirked. Too easy. She plunged her knife into the head of the sleeping man. He crumpled to the floor, still in a state of blissful dreams.

At the sight of his fallen comrade, the other guard snapped to reality rushed towards her with a roar and she kicked him square in the chest. The guard grinned. Such a weak kick could never bring him down, but the young woman never intended to kick the guard away. As the thought passed, the guard realized that protruding from her black stiletto heel was a knife that had made its way to his heart.

Satisfied with her work, the young woman retrieved her knife once more and the clicking of her heels resounded down the filthy corridors as she passed through them. She walked quickly, for the guard's scream was sure to attract others, like moths to a flame. But she walked as if she belonged there, not as if she was trying to escape. She wanted to move quickly and unnoticed. Nobody gave a second glance at her bloodied appearance since it was common for Cobra to abuse his women. She sauntered right out of the warehouse's main entrance just as cries of alarm and anger echoed behind her. They had found their boss's body.

"You're as quick as ever." A young man materialized from the warehouse's shadows. He fell into step beside her and they quickly navigated the alleyways of the broken city together.

"Nathan Lancaster," the young woman chided him. "I told you to stay in the motel room to monitor the security cameras."

"You're not my mother Lilia," Nate scowled. "Do you know how boring it is to watch people sleep? Seriously, they get the award for the world's most boring gangsters. I rather watch ants crawl around. And those cameras are ancient! It's a crime to have such low resolution."

Lilia grinned. She brought her hand to his fiery red hair and messed it up, despite the fact that he was a head taller than she was. Nate was just like a little brother . . . a little brother whose birthday was three years before hers.

"By the way, that dress looks good on you," Nate said with a twinkle in his eyes. Correction: Nate was a perverted, womanizing little brother.

Lilia glared at him in response. "Shut up Nate." They paused in a small alleyway and Nate proceeded to rummage through his duffle. He produced a simple black t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and sneakers and handed them to Lilia. She couldn't stand being in this dress for another second . . . if you could call such a small piece of cloth a dress. Lilia turned around to change but stopped abruptly. She turned back to face Talon with an "ahem" and raised an eyebrow.

"What? I can't watch?" Lilia's stare evolved into a piercing glare. "Alright alright." Nate turned his back as Lilia threw the skimpy piece of cloth to the floor in disgust. If not for the fact that Nate was one of the few that she could not intimidate to do her bidding, Lilia would have forced him to play the role of the voluptuous prostitute. He was certainly feminine enough for the job. She'd rather be dead than caught wearing that . . . thing.

"So what's next?" Lilia inquired. She walked around to meet Nate's face.

Nate studied her appreciatively before he gave is reply. Lilia was never one to flaunt her feminine side but the t-shirt and jeans, though simple, hugged her body in the right ways.

"My eyes are up here Nate."

Nate looked up, unabashed. "Honestly Lilia, you're a hopeless workaholic," he sighed but continued to brief her nonetheless. "Including Cobra, we've just done in all the gang lords in this city. The only thing left is to kill off the rest of Cobra's runts, and I'm already one step ahead of you on that." A few moments later, a boom, followed by a raging fire erupted at the abandoned warehouse they had just left.

"When did you plant the bombs?" Lilia asked in surprise.

"Can't tell you," Nate winked. "Trade secret."

The two watched the explosion from afar, the dancing flames reflected in their eyes. Black smoke began to eat the sky and shrapnel rained down from it.

"Three months," Lilia murmured. "Now we can finally go home. It's been too long since this mission has started." Gardior used to be a city full of bustling, lively trade. Located on the border between Dres Vaan and Orions, it had been a grand city, full of life and cultural exchange. Sadly, the war had turned the beautiful city into rubble, making it an ideal place for gangs to occupy. Black zone, they called it. And there were quite a few black zones that had sprung up across the kingdom. With this explosion, Gardior would be the first black zone to ever have been completely wiped out.

It was a daunting task for merely two hunters which is why they had taken so long, but there was no other alternative. All the other top hunters were currently on other missions and anybody of lower rank would have been a hindrance. Talon was ranked 7th within the Hunt and Lilia was right behind him as 8th.

Lilia squinted. One . . . two . . . three figures darted out from the warehouse. They probably were escaping the city. "Sloppy," she said. "They're not all dead."

"Our orders weren't to kill all of them. We just had to destroy their gangs and with the majority of their members dead, they won't be able to continue their activities," Nate said.

Lilia shook her head and they continued to walk down the road leading to the next city. It was there that their ride to the Capital awaited them. They were lucky that the Hunt had even sent them a car. During the war, most of the roads were rendered unusable. For now, only the royal family and the Hunt had permission to use automobiles.

The pair had to dodge crowds of shady looking people heading the opposite way to check out what had happened. Lilia kept her eyes looking downwards and they slipped through the crowd. To pass so many gangsters and not be able to do anything was frustrating. But she couldn't start a scene. Not here. If she was alone then perhaps . . .but she wasn't. She couldn't endanger Nate's life for her personal vendetta against the gangs.

"You're too nice," Lilia continued their conversation. "And because of that, the people now know of the existence of the Hunt. If only you had killed that girl when she found out who you really were. It was the Hunt's number one rule to keep us a secret no matter what you had to do, and you broke it."

"I'm not like you Lilia. I wouldn't kill a pretty woman for such aninsufficient reason. That would be a waste," Nate smiled. "I was hoping to do her later."

Lilia sighed. "Suuuuure. Whatever you say."

Nate's baby face reflected the kindness in his heart though he disliked to openly show it. He was not the strongest hunter but his looks coupled with his charm and intelligence was the perfect recipe for a chick magnet. Normally, Lilia would never even think of striking up a conversation with such a person, but there was something about Nate that never made for a dull moment. Though many of ideas were absurd, they were certainly . . . creative. And though he had a tendency to be immature from time to time. from Lilia's perspective, Nate was one of the more bearable hunters. But . . .

"Hey there," Nate winked at a passing woman to which she promptly tripped over her own feet and fell over the irritated man standing next to her. Nate's bad habit of picking up women, especially those that were taken, almost made her regret calling him bearable. It caused them all sorts of trouble and attracted unwanted attention at practically every city they visited. A small sigh escaped Lilia's lips as she bopped her companion's head with her fist. After forcing an apology out of Talon, they continued on their way.

The pair walked through the Capital. It felt good to be finally home. The Capital was as lively as ever with its bustling crowds. Many who traveled to the Capital found the sound of construction did nothing to be unpleasant, but to its residents, like Lilia, it had become a comforting sound that added to the pleasantly busy atmosphere. Half-finished buildings towered over them and children shouted and ran through the streets. Delicious aromas wandered and beckoned those with empty stomach to come eat.

By this time, the sun had become a faint glow on the horizon, and the creeping shadows swelled to a size twice that of their owners. As they strolled down the cobblestone streets, the pair earned stares from those passing by. Some curious, some fearful, some disgusted, and some a combination of them all. And as if the staring wasn't enough, loud whispers followed their steps. They didn't even try to hide what they were talking about.

"Hey . . . aren't they . . . ?"

"Yeah, no doubt about it. They're hunters. I've seen that man before. I was in a bar once and he had women all over him . . . "

" . . . That's the Commandant's daughter isn't it? How vulgar. Shouldn't she be acting more like a lad? Her father must be ashamed of her."

"When will people ever learn to stop staring? Honestly . . . " Nate muttered. "It's not like we're some kind of circus to gawk at."

"This is all your fault you know. Because everyone knows-"

"Yeah yeah . . . Because of me everyone knows about the Hunt. It's all my fault. Blah blah blah," Nate said drolly.

The corners of Lilia's mouth turned up a little at Nate's words, but they quickly turned back down when she heard a passerby's words. Word, to be exact. "Lilith." Lilia wheeled on the woman who had spoken that name and gave her a murderous glare. The woman flinched and scurried away. Good.

Lilith. Oh how Lilia despised the name. Lilith. The mother of all demons. Lilia had begun to train to be a soldier at a very young age. And then when she was being bullied by so-called friends, she had accidentally hurt them. That was how she had earned that nickname. To any child, it would have been just a part of growing up. But Lilia wasn't like other children. For her, it was painful. As a young soldier-in-training, and a girl at that, Lilia had not been able to make many friends. Partly because she was too busy with training to interact with those around her own age. Partly because she was just different. In any case, somehow, the name had spread like wildfire, but only few dared to call her that with her ears around.

After taking a long path from the heart of the city, the royal palace appeared in their line of vision. Only a single guard stood by the gates, but that guard was more than enough to protect them.

"Good evening Elias," Lilia saluted.

"Good evening Miss Carlton, Mr. Lancaster," Elias's eyes crinkled as he smiled, saluting back.

Nate turned around to check if anyone had followed them. No one. At this he plugged his ears and said, "Oh. It seems I have temporarily gone deaf. I think I will go take a look over there." Lilia burst into a fit of laughter as Nate walked off.

"Oh youth . . . Thank you Mr. Lancaster," Elias chuckled.

"No need to thank me! I can't hear you anyway."

Elias turned to the young lady in front of him and opened his arms. "Come here." Lilia took his cue and flew into Elias's embrace. Elias peered into her face. "You look much thinner than you were three months ago. Have you been eating properly?" Lilia nodded to which Elias smiled even more. "Oh how I've missed you dear child."

Lilia laughed. "You sound as if you were my grandpa Elias. You're not that old."

Elias's eyes twinkled. "Oh but I fear that I am. It's as if you were a wee baby only yesterday."

Lilia adored Elias. Though he was past his prime, his uncanny ability to read people was still top notch. It was the only reason why the higher officials allowed him to continue his job guarding the gates, with a partner of course. It was thanks to him that not a single intruder had infiltrated the castle since the war ended.

Not only that, but though now inferior in rank, Elias was once a formidable hunter. Lilia knew that best. Elias worked very closely with the Commandant and thus, Lilia some him quite often as a child. He had taught her many things about the world, and he was in charge of her training when her father was away - which was often. He had a very caring persona, the perfect foil to her own father.

The Hunt, or rather Lilia's father, emphasized formalities and respect for superiors. Meaning, Lilia and Elias could not be affectionate towards one another in the presence of other soldiers, including Nate. But coincidentally, Nate had gone temporarily deaf and was looking the other way,

Elias released his hold on the girl - no - the young woman he helped raise. "You must be tired from spending three months in another city. And Mr. Lancaster's hearing will probably be returning soon. Please come inside and give your reports so that you can go rest as quickly as possible."

"Thank you Elias." Lilia gave her teacher a kiss on the cheek before entering the palace with Nate behind her.

Like the city outside of it, the palace was buzzing with life. Maids were scurrying down the lavishly decorated corridors as the pushed tea carts, carried flowers, brooms, and other oddities. People were tripping over each other, muttering quick apologies to each other. Shouts resounded throughout the palace and the collective echoes of footsteps sounded like a stampede. The beautiful marble floors seemed to quiver a little with all the movement, but their elegant red carpets softened the blows.

Where there used to be walls before the palace's reconstruction, now stood giant, one-way windows, each stretching from the floor to the palace's high, arching ceilings. They were bulletproof of course. Nine inches thick. Lilia paused to soak in the view of the courtyard. It was a shame really. The palace's grand interior design was a sight to behold. And yet, none of its inhabitants gave it a second glance as they rushed past. From the gorgeous paintings to the historic furniture to the spiraling staircases . . .

Lilia had been here more times than she could count, but the palace was still as beautiful as when she first saw it as a little girl. She remembered begging the king if she could have it all to herself when she was older. He said she could if she married his son. It was one of the few promises Lilia regretted making. Even if the king was joking, his son, the crown prince, really intended to marry her. Nate had explained the prince's motivation once. Something about the prince always getting what he wants so pursuing Lilia was a change of pace. Honestly, what a stupid reason. His little infatuation with her would go away soon enough, like all the others.

"The preparations for Prince Alex's coming of age ceremony seem to be coming along nicely." Nate observed, making Lilia snap back to reality. He winked at a nearby maid who flushed at his attention.

Lilia rolled her eyes. "I don't think 'nicely' is the right word for this panic. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that were a fire or intruder." She sighed, "I can't believe that brat wants to start preparing now. His birthday is still a ways off. The king spoils him too much."

"I remember my eighteenth birthday," Nate mused. "I got so drunk, I passed out on your couch." He laughed at the memory. "It's a good thing the Commandant wasn't home. He would have butchered me."

"Somebody's getting old," Lilia teased. "Maybe I should start calling you Mr. Lancaster like Elias does."

"Ugh, no. Have you seen this face?" Nate pointed to his baby cheeks. "I don't look a day over eighteen" Lilia laughed at his refreshing arrogance.

They came to a stop at an overly embellished door, where two more soldiers saluted them. The soldiers then proceeded to knock on the door. "Come in," a voice called out. They entered the king's chamber followed closely by the two hunters. "Your Majesty, I apologize for the interruption but Lady Carlton and Lord Lancaster have come to see you." At the ornately made mahogany desk was King Liam, and sitting across from him was the Commandant. Their faces were grave as a result of the discussion they were just having.

"Greetings Your Majesty, Father," Lilia said as they bowed deeply. She was slightly curious about what they had been just talking about, but she knew better than to ask.

The king brightened visibly at the sight of the two hunters. "Welcome home, the both of you. Thank you for your hard work. Three months away from home is quite a long time. Alex has been in quite a foul mood since you've left Miss Lilia." The king winked. Nate had to give it his all to suppress the snicker bubbling up inside him as his partner frowned. It was fine for the prince to have a romantic interest, but it shouldn't get in the way of his conduct. The prince needed to grow up and assume his responsibilities, like his younger sister, Brianna. Lilia had no doubt that the bad-tempered prince had been acting selfishly and ill-tempered the three months she was away.

"So?" Lilia twitched a little at the sound of her father impatiently drumming his fingers on his chair. The light atmosphere the king had created with his bright smile darkened immediately by her father's single word. "How long are you going to make me wait for your report? His Majesty and I have important matters to discuss." The Commandant ignored Nate's presence and looked at his daughter sharply. Lilia bit back a retort that was ready to spring from her mouth. She knew her father loved her. He just had a very. . . unique way of showing it ever since her mother had passed away. Lilia wanted to answer her father but she was afraid that if she opened her mouth, something nasty would come out instead.

"All of Gardior's gang lords have been disposed of as well as most of the gang members," Nate said for her.

"'Most'?" The two flinched at the subtle anger underlying the Commandant's voice as he narrowed his eyes. "You mean to tell me that you left some of those maggots live? Need I remind you that people are kidnapped and are killed by their hands every day and you left some of them alive to do it? Do you not remember what happened to your mother Lilia?" His piercing black eyes stared them down until they looked at their feet. It was as if they were five again, being scolded by their parents for breaking a window. The difference being that their punishment would be far more severe than a time out in a corner. "Lilia, why didn't you kill them?"

It was times like these that made Nate realize that Lilia was indeed the Commandant's daughter. They had the same exact intense stare. Nate ground his teeth together. How could he bring up Lilia's mother, his own wife? It was cruel. "But Sir, our orders were merely to destroy the gangs. We didn't have to-"

Lilia silenced him with a meaningful look. It was common knowledge that talking back to the Commandant was basically a death wish. But Nate couldn't help it. He couldn't idly stand by and let Lilia be punished for a decision he had made. He had expected the Commandant to be strict on his own daughter, but this was absolutely ridiculous.

"Now, now," the king who had been watching the exchange interrupted. "I'm sure they are very tired from their mission. Why don't we leave it at that?" The king turned to address the pair. "Once you two get a scan run, go get some rest."

"Excuse us." The two hunters bowed once more and left.

Once they had left, the king looked at his best friend. "Edgar, you shouldn't be so strict on her. She may be a promising hunter but you have to remember that she's only seventeen."

The Commandant frowned. "It is precisely because she is young that I am strict on her. As a young hunter, she must be disciplined well and as my daughter, she should know what I expect of her. I will not tolerate anything less than a stellar performance."

The king sighed in exasperation. Ever since his wife passed away, Edgar was no longer the same man. No, it was before that. It was even before Lilia's birth. The king strongly wished to comfort him, but Edgar was past the point of no return. The king believed that no one could melt his icy hard. But that didn't mean he couldn't hope.

Lilia and Nate silently shuffled their feet towards the lab below. The air was so heavy with tension that neither was able to summon the courage to speak for a while. Encounters with the Commandant were frightening and this could have been a lot worse if it weren't for the king's interference.

It was Nate who finally dispelled the spell of silence over them. "I'm sorry." Nate's voice was barely even a whisper. Lilia had always preferred silence over commotion but with Nate, quiet was unnerving. "That was all my fault. If only I have been more thorough . . ."

Lilia gently shook her head. "Don't blame yourself. Father is always like that. His anger will subside eventually."

They had reached the more modern part of the palace where the lab was when Nate grabbed on Lilia's arm. She looked at him questioningly. "Let's take a detour," he said.

They soon found themselves in one of the Army's many interrogation rooms. Nate took a deep breath and, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

Lilia jumped at Nate's sudden scream and covered her ears. When he finally stopped to gasp for air, Lilia uncovered them. Bad move. Another ear-splitting scream was sent her way and she could have sworn that her ear drums were breaking. Before he could let out another scream, Lilia quickly clapped her hands over his mouth.

"What was that for!? Were you trying to make me go deaf!?"

Nate removed her hands from his mouth and said, "When I was little, I would bottle up all my anger and frustration. I didn't want to show my bad side to my little brothers. So I would go into the bathroom and scream my heart out. And it always made me feel better. Now, I can't exactly scream in the bathhouse in front of everyone, but since the interrogation rooms are soundproof, they're perfect. Why don't you try it?"

"No," she refused him flatly.

But Nate covered his ears and smiled encouragingly at her. Lilia was doubtful but she decided to do it anyway. It couldn't hurt to try. So she screamed for as long and as loud as she could.

"Well?" Nate prompted. "Feel better?"

Lilia pondered for a minute and realized that the tightness in her chest had been lifted. "Yeah, I do actually."

Nate broke into a smile. "Now that we've gotten everything out of our system, let's go."

And so they did, leaving behind their troubles in the interrogation room.

Wheeee! Chapter 1 is done! I'm not used to writing "dirty" things so writing the first scene with Cobra made me feel.. well... dirty XD And it sounded quite awkward too... Well a writer should write about things not in their comfort zone to improve right?

Well, about Lilia's little bullying experience as a child, I know I gave a really crappy explanation about it, but only because I don't want to spoil anything that's going to happen in the future. And I promise it will be explained in the future.

And just to clarify, one-way windows are windows that you can see from one side, and are tinted on the other.

Thank you for reading and feedback is always appreciated!