Chapter 2


The pain in his cheek was unbearable. That much he could understand as he walked past the boy who marked him, his brown eyes staring at the ground in hopes of avoiding the teen's look of ice.

"I wouldn't think you would have decided to join," he heard Ame whisper, lifting a stained rag and gently padding it against the cut. His touch sent shivers rippling through Chris's skin, though a feeling of relief flooded him as a soft mist rested on his cheek. It was cool and welcome.

Ame and Sorey, they seemed like complete opposites of each other, Chris noticed as he cupped the injury with a hand. Ame gentle, with an almost fragile look about him; Sorey sharp and cold, resembling a dagger tipped with numbing acid.

"I didn't think so either…" He murmured, taking a quick glance behind him. Through the windows he could see the bright lights of the city sparkling like beckons in the dusk, a tiny fleck of the lake that surrounded the city was visible in between a couple of the buildings. There was only one person left standing in the originally occurring line, though he seemed to shake at the thought of stepping up to have his cheek torn apart, hesitating in front of the impatient pink boy. The teen was slapping the flat of the knife against his palm, showing his irritation. Chris saw the boy's lips move, but his attention was pulled away when Ame spoke once more.

"I think The Raven will be able to help you," he said honestly, a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips. His green eyes seemed to sparkle in the night, almost like a cat's. "Though it may take a while to gain his full support," he added as an afterthought. "The Raven tries to understand the needs of his people, but sometimes his wings can't take him quite far enough in the direction he should go. He usually forgets about certain duties when others call."

Chris was about to step away from the teen when the words hit him, choking him up. "Wait-"

The look in Ame's eyes cut his words off abruptly. "Despite all that, he's still a really good leader. Even though he tends to be a little hard to trust and understand."

"I hope you're right."

"You'll find that I am," the teen said sincerely. "Just go in and hear him out. He'll give you some information that will help you in your search for your brother, whether you realize it or not. But you should hurry. His speech is about to end." He tapped his ear, "I can recognize his ending words anywhere."

For a moment, Chris stopped and listened. But nothing could be heard other than Sorey's consistent tapping of his knife upon his palm, and he began to wonder how Ame could possibly hear it.

"Will you just hurry up and decide!?" The pink teen's growl sliced through his thoughts, making him jump. "Do you want the mark of tERTO or not!?"

He could hear the man stutter a reply, but didn't want to stay around to find out what happened next. The teen's threat was still ringing in his ears, and it told him just what the boy could do with the dagger in his hands if you made him angry enough. Nodding in Ame's direction, he hurried out of the Auditorium's lounge – or whatever you call it – and pushed open the doors into the concert room.

Cooled air hit his face and brushed at him with the softness of feathers as he stepped into the room. The front seats were filled with people, their eyes trained on the man clad in black as he perched upon the stage. The Raven did resemble a bird as he stood, crouched close to the floor so that he could stare into his member's eyes and test whether or not they were paying attention.

He looked up as Chris came in – it was a swift glance, nothing more – before he continued his words, slow and steadily.

The room was small, a lot smaller than Chris had thought when he was up on the balcony. Glancing over his shoulder and up, he could see where the room he had sat within was. Though, it looked awfully a lot like a gray square floating above him, supported by three walls of glass and one of wood. A feeling of vertigo fluttered through him, making him look down once again to take a seat.

When Chris looked forward, he saw that The Raven gripped his mask with a hand, gloved fingers tapping its surface as if he were debating something. His eyes were closed, eyebrows slightly furrowed. Strands of white-blonde hair stuck out to the sides of his black mask like sores.

"Please, Raven?" Chris heard a woman ask, her sweet sounding voice traveling easily through the room. Her words were pleading, and he could see that she had rose from her seat in the very front row, her arms pulled across her chest and interlaced at the hands, her curved form slumped in a kind of bow.

Chris sighed, realizing that he missed the man's whole speech. Well, a big chunk of it anyways. He wasn't sure what else would be happening at the meeting. Though, he still had two hours to find out.

The Raven opened his eyes and lowered his hand, straightening his legs and back. "I'm sorry, Ma'am," he said, his words tight yet polite. "But I don't think this is the right time."

The woman lowered her head in acknowledgement. "Okay," she murmured, sitting back down and tilting her head up to catch the man's gray-eyed gaze. "But one day I want to see your whole face."

"And you will," he answered, jumping down from the platform. His feet hit the floor with no sound, and his black clothing fluttered about him elegantly. Even though he was now at the level of his people, Chris noticed that The Raven seemed to tower over them. The man was probably over 6 feet tall.

"Now," announced the man, "let's get back to business, shall we?" And like a cat, he turned and padded down the front isle. Chris could almost picture a slim tail swishing with anticipation behind the man.

He didn't make it to the end of the aisle.

Ame burst into the auditorium, nearly throwing the doors off their hinges. "Raven, get out of here!" He screamed,"All of you-!"

A bang interrupted his flow of words. It wasn't just a chair hitting a wall - no, it was no dull thud - it was the ear shattering fire of a gun.

The muscles in Chris's shoulders and back tensed. Ame's eyes widened and he staggered. Time seemed to slow, showing each painful moment the teen experienced. He fell to his knees, his legs no longer able to hold him, and collapsed against the ground. Blood pushed out of a wound on his leg, spreading out along the carpeted floor and staining it a dark crimson.

Chris sucked in a sharp breath, jerked back to reality when Sorey shouted. His heart sped up and he turned and bolted, shoving through the crowd, saving his own life and his innocence.

A black blur threw him to the side before he could make it, thrusting him into an aisle and shoving his head sharply down onto a chair, racing down the way to Ame's side. Chris couldn't think - the only thing that ran through his mind was to get up and get out. His body struggled to make it happen. His legs weren't cooperating with him and he found himself unbalanced by the desperate attempt to stand up.

Finally he pushed a leg under him and stumbled to his feet. He lifted his head and darted toward the exit once again. He didn't dare look behind him.

He didn't even take two steps.

Something hard collided with his head. He slammed onto the ground. His vision split into two. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't breathe.

He pushed a hand underneath him and lifted his head. The world dimmed and fuzzed, lost its color. He shook his head, hoping to clear his vision, but he only made it worse. He fell back down and rolled onto his back, lifting his head again.

He shouldn't have looked.

Sorey slammed his precious blade into the chest of another man with both hands. Chris barely saw the movement before the teen yanked it out and kicked the man away. The pink boy then dropped his dagger and pulled something from beneath his blanket. A two bladed knife appeared in his hands. It was connected to a ten foot length of wound up chain. He swung the blade in circles, his frigid eyes staring down his next opponent, who took a wary step back.

Chris couldn't breathe for real this time. Air caught in his throat and his lungs shriveled into puny raisins.

That boy just… did that. He expertly wielded a blade and struck a man down with it.

What kind of group was tERTO? A group of assassins, that's what.

The Raven rose from his crouch, blocking Chris's view of Sorey, and he nearly let out a breath of relief. If it weren't for the situation and the lack of air in his lungs, he might have.

"Sorey, stop. We will not take anyone's life," he ordered. His voice was stiff, but still authoritative - not something any person in their right mind would ignore. He stared down at the people the teen had taken down, judging their wounds and injuries. They weren't fatal - at least, they wouldn't be with proper and instant treatment.

He cast his gray eyes to the remaining soldier, who gripped his gun so tightly his knuckles were white and his arms shook like leaves in the wind. They shifted their gun to point at The Raven and took another step back. A large K was written on his uniform. It was a dark maroon, and surrounded in a bold, white outline. An arrow surrounded in a film of ice was shot through the letter and burst out the other side. The Kuras' symbol.

"Ice is constantly changing, as are we. We change with our environment. In times of peace we will remain peaceful; in times of danger we will remain dangerous. Understand this and all will be well," The Raven said, reciting a part of the speech the former president who brought upon the rule of the Kuras. "I always thought that to be a neat analogy on your part. A way to create peace and keep away the dire moments every government is challenged with."

"What's this have to do with anything?" The soldier growled through clenched teeth. He was trying his hardest not to shake in the presence of the mercenary teen and the leader.

The Raven pulled something out from a pocket that was barely visible on his dark clothes. "Yes, it does. This is my first and last attempt at coming a gentle conclusion with you. I have never done you any harm - I've just merely set his group up to show you how many people are against your pacts and rules. Surely the people you have been protecting these past years from the wars should be allowed to live in peace without having to worry about whether they'll get their long lost daughter back." He held the item out to the soldier, who didn't take it. "Please, give this to your commander. This is all I want. You are free to leave now, and whether you take my note or not. Sorey, put your weapon away. I don't want you threatening him to accept my offer."

Chains rattled and the weapon was once again tucked neatly underneath the pink boy's blanket.

Chris sucked in a breath, then another and another. He never longed for air so much before in his life. He blinked and gave his hair another short shake. Finally the fuzz cleared from his vision and he was able to sit up fully.

The soldier flinched and threw his head to look directly at him, his gun pointed in his direction. Chris jerked back.

"Make him put away his gun," the soldier hissed.

Gun? Chris looked down at his hands, but there was nothing there that he could have taken ahold of in his daze. Then he looked to the side. Was that what was chucked at me?

There was a hand gun resting beside him. A couple drops of blood had slide down its surface.

He kicked it away as far as he could. It skidded into another aisle way, and the soldier seemed to relax. In all honesty, seeing the gun out of reach made him relax, though only slightly.

"Thank you, Chris," The Raven said with a minute nod of his head. From where Chris sat, he couldn't see the movement, and the leader couldn't see his own nod in reply. It was a surprise that The Raven still remembered his name.

Once again the leader held out his hand. The slip of paper he was urging the soldier to take was still locked in his fingers. The soldier didn't take it, and continued to stand with his gun pointed toward Chris, shaking and debating the best actions to take. In time he turned back to The Raven, but he didn't lower his gun or back off.

"No, I won't take it."

And he pulled the trigger.


Don't you all just love cliffhangers? I'm going to try and leave off of every chapter with one, so their lengths are going to vary throughout the story. Hope you enjoy! If you find anything I can work on, please just tell me.