(Author Note: Revised thanks to helpful reviews.)
Chapter One: Solid Brigade
The euphony of a crimson nightfall; tainted, but blissful in all its carnal splendor. She sang muffled notes teeming into a harmonic tune through his ears. Her voice, a lovely coloratura soprano flickered his very soul into a ravenous frenzy. Her skin, dressed in a lovely vale of mesh rose, glistened under the moonlight. And she danced—oh she danced, and danced so vigorously; sashaying side to side, jarring up and down so aggressively that one might think she's trying to break her frail virgin body in twain.
"Why do you fight?" His softened cynical words burrowed deep within her, quelling her screams in exchange for a furrowed look. He stared at her tearing blood-shot eyes pressing heavily against her skull as she hung upside down. Suspended she was, with ropes on a metal shaft bound to the bloody wooden floor. He leaned in, his porcelain flushed lips practically perched on her engorged cheeks. Her breaths shallowed as he flashed his blood-tinted fangs tauntingly. The trembling, the irrepressible trembling of her torn flesh only fueled his malice…
What an appetite…one like no other—he gazed down into her popping eyeballs, feeding from every last remnant of her despair. His hot breath poured over her face mixed with sweat, blood, and a dash of innocence, and almost instantly, her naked body jerked once more-the silence between them shattered with a gargling plea for mercy. There was no better feeling to cater to. "At this state, my dear, you should be begging for death..." He fixed himself erect as he rolled up the sleeves of his black evening shirt and drew away from her, facing the innards of his bedroom chamber. There a transverse presence of evil stood masked by a debonair demeanor, long raven black hair that framed his perfect diamond shaped face, and eyes of soft amber hedged with gold. No wonder this mysterious gent curled her interests.
"The curiosity of one very lost…" He stifled veering his head, the smell almost too intoxicating to withdraw from. But she was near death; he could feel her essence fading. "Hmm, well we all have our weaknesses, don't we? You, with the lust of a teenage girl, and I, with a vital need to feed on human flesh. Well…a weakness much welcomed. But you see, I also seek vengeance. She birthed me, and killed me. I must take her life for such a dire mistake on her part. Because of her so-called motherly love, I now am what you see here before you—damned, a mere shadow of a soul. Don't get me wrong, there is pleasure to be had in this lifestyle; my only trouble is that this wasn't my decision..." The goth-like chamber was rendered a pungent omen, cradling in its bosom the near taste of decay. He stood before her, stare drawing downward to her dangling head. His forehead pressed against her legs as a mild hiatus drew his thoughts towards mercy. "I will give you the choice I was never given…"
Warm lush tunes of a sunny day danced along the groove. It was paradise, or what this town would call such a moment. He had missed this throughout his earlier years; peace—a glimmer of unity between nature and its inhabitants. He could hear children scurrying down the green, the echo of dogs barking from beyond the entry arches. Above him a mesh of oranges, browns, and burgundy shaded him from the basking rays. A mellow grin flashed between his cheeks as the vapor from his lit keshuess bud rolled down his nostrils—exhale toxic torment, inhale toxic bliss. He needed to lose himself in the rise, and he did. Yet unfortunately through his stone-red eyes he could still see that familiar silhouette approaching him. Tipping his head towards his shoulder, he heard stomping steps closing into his flushed, droopy persona. Was he hallucinating? He hoped he was…
Click—black polished Mary Jane low pumps stopped firmly between his sitting legs.
Huff—she twisted her face in grimace, a petite honey-caramel toned girl glaring at him as he rolled his eyes. Routine, he thought, how could he break this routine of hers? Maybe it would be worth it to ship her to another district when her summer break kicks in…or perhaps, boarding school? He chuckled inwardly, witness to a blushed face ready to erupt.
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!" She predictably exclaimed in her crimson tartan school attire. Her arms enveloped themselves as she leaned into his tiring face.
"Ugh, Syreene, one day…just one day without you feeding me this bullshit lecture…" He puffed as he rolled up the sleeves of his grey hooded sweatshirt.
"Well maybe if you wasn't always bumming around, getting high as mounts, sulking in your own pitiful, depressing excuse for a life, I wouldn't have to hear myself-"
"Degrade me every chance you get? Hmph, well, that would be nice…" he interjected with a softened baritone voice as he erected himself, his shadow towering over the heated miss. "Listen sis, I'm off right now, so how about you do me a solid and let big brother here take a break, mkay?" An air of arrogance, that should fix her fancy, he thought, as the cool breeze slapped his tussled black hair and rattled those small loop earrings of his. Why not top it off with a taunting pat on her shoulder? He could already feel her blood boiling.
In an instant, she darted, fixing her piercing snake eyes at him with her snap finger prompt, "NOW YOU LISTEN! I am not going to stand for your bitter, I hate my life attitude anymore, got that?! I am your sister! And I am the one who needs to take care of you and make sure you are safe, or at least mentally healthy! Give me that!" A quick snatch at his lips and the bud was suddenly ash underneath her shoe. "No more of that kesh! It's slowly eating at your brain!"
"Well, excuse me, countess. But the last time I checked, I was the elder sibling. And," he boorishly shrugged, "that means those little elf ears of yours gotta' listen to these lips."
"Oh, is that so?" She tweeted, giving him her back and a rather perplexed sly cocked look. "Well, if that's the case, then I guess I have no choice but to go back to my city. I can live on my own."
Her contumacious behavior was nothing foreign to him, but even his adamant heart couldn't overpower the love he has for his dearest sister, and he would fall for this gesture of hers every time. "Ugh, come on Sy, stop acting so childish."
She turned to him, "You know I worry about you, right? I just want you to be safe." A smile finally found its way between her cheeks, and with it she coaxed, "Don't forget you have an appointment with Father Benoventeg in Dovve. He can really counsel you, Cabil."
He noticed her gold eyes suddenly focused down to his jean pocket, and he'd answer to the muffled ringing, "Hargann." Firmly, "I am in Dyonegar. I'll be there."
"W-what's wrong?" She asked.
"Cappehas. At least six of them sited in Amervaul by Bevoin Square." He replied.
"Cappehas? Those demons haven't been anywhere near Dyonegar for years, and out…in broad daylight?"
"Well, they are tunneling their way in from somewhere." He locked his eyes sternly to his sibling. "Stay in the apartment. Find something to mask your scent. Keep the shades down, lights out. Got that?"
Syreene understood and implying such with a nod before watching her brother flame burst out of the park and into the cerulean sky. The smell of burning grass awoken her other senses, alerting the never-ending fear of being mere playthings for the damned. She wanted to become a weapon, like her brother—fight in the militia for peace, protection, and victory against these blood thirsty ravenous beings. And as she gazed at the flashing spark of heat and energy roaring like a blazing aura beneath his feet, she began to wonder if she would ever reach his level of pyrokenetic flight. "Be careful, Cabil."
Massacre—an indigenous fleet of the undead. The blood oozing down her leg traced their path and beckoned her stagger to move with haste. She surveyed among the trash and debris down the alleyway a silhouette of her young daughter and before her a beaming light of further chaos. Sweat, she could feel her grip slipping away from the little girl's hand as frightened innocent eyes looked back to her, "Come on Mom, run faster!" Defeat cried out in her grim, exhausted face, but she must push through for her beloved child. Tired feet mustered up strength, and all she could hear was her endless panting, struggling for air through her drying throat. The murmur of death ricocheted against the narrowing aisle-its rancid, skeletal demonic form hunting them down mercilessly. She dared not glance behind her; the horror of witnessing the closing gap between them was too baleful to bare. But she knew it, its gargling getting louder and louder—
She bucked, blood rushing through her veins like wild fire. Her body slammed against the pavement with a great thump, her head bouncing down from the impact as black tresses buried her face. The cold grip of its long slender fingers around her ankle peeled her eyes wide open. Her body laid mortified, paralyzed by the demon towering over her trembling body. In one swift motion, it clenched her neck, the other hand savagely twisting at her left leg. She clutched its tightening fingers around her throat, bellowing, "RUN MYA!" The raspy distraught holler angered the grey flesh eater, squeezing out her very essence as it hungrily popped her head off her shoulders. Chords of crimson dangled over its open crusted lips as it savored the nectar dripping from her decapitated head.
Sheer terror dropped Mya's numbing knees down to the pavement. She witnessed the feast upon her mother's flesh, watching as its split blackened tongue coiled around her eye socket—gush—the juices teeming down grinning fangs. Its gold serpent-like eyes rolled back in delight, a hollow grunt echoing the alleyway as if to call the pack to the dinner table. But it was selfish.
Releasing its long fingers around her drenched hair, it stood erect. With one ravenous stare at the girl, a hiatus, then it bolted on all fours. Her mother's lifeless body on the ground triggered a tardy response before she could quell her tears and resume the chase. Surrender—clashes of ill thoughts bombarded her recklessly. There was no escaping what's to come; her legs were moving, but she wasn't going anywhere. In this very moment, a wash of serenity quieted her mind, and all she could focus on was the light before her. There, Bevoin Square…or maybe, mother? Yes, to be with her eternally would be better than a life without her. Don't fight it, let what will be, be…
An equanimous resonance of victory and defeat; she welcomed death wholeheartedly, until she noticed a figure foreground. In one quivering breath, her feet lifted, her body swinging in a half circle, almost like a ballet—and in brave elegant grace, an aura of heat magnified around her dangling person. She gasped, hearing the voice to shatter her fright into fragments.
A burst of red engulfed the alleyway before her, the hot flames dancing like a light show in her watery orbs swollen with both relief and despair. She finally looked up to her savior as demon ashes flurry around them. Tears rolled down her reddened cheeks as she pressed her tight fists against her chest. "Cabil…" she sobbed as he gently released her, but the girl quickly found herself against him once more with a thankful embrace around his thigh. "He, he killed mommy…"
Among the erosion of humanity he sought refuge for her as he trekked down the square. She held on tight, arms around his neck as she hitched a ride to Bevoin Public Library. Cabil, with a more evasive spirit, didn't make it there without a bit of help from a comrade as he side-swiped a nearly failed attempt to dodge a flesh eater.
Clank- the sharp noise of grazing metal blade against claw echoed in his ears as his knee dropped to the concrete step.
"Aye, are ya' just gonna' stand there or bring her in?" The armored fur-crowned hunter questioned his comrade with a sneer before veering back to his famished scaly opponent drooling menacingly on his combat boots. "Hey, keep your vile foul fluids to yourself, demon!" A quick death sentence- a bilateral cleave with his elbow blades showered the steps in red. "Can't have one of Aegelleon's finest slaughtered." He jested.
Cabil sneered, "You flatter me, Brenius." He escorted the girl to the front door, and upon sliding a key card to the reader, a confirming beep allowed them both passage to the foyer. Before he could step into the vicinity, a canned elder citizen guarded the agar of the door. "Your name, young sir?" He interrogated with a raspy undertone.
Cabil sharpened his gaze at him furrow browed, surveying his fragile contour and burlesque attire. "Cabil Hargann, soldier of the Aegelleon force." He gently aided in her dismount, and as he erected himself over the short balding man, the elder's upfront dry demeanor masked itself.
"Hargann?" He questioned, adjusting his bold-framed specs upon his pale wrinkled concave eyes, seeing a man dressed to fight. "My, I almost didn't recognize you." He smiled, "You can never be so careful with these demons. They take all forms." His eyes fell upon the little girl, "Oh, you are quite lucky. We all are, and very thankful." He tilted his head up to Cabil, "She's in good hands."
As the two vanished inside the womb of salvation, Cabil tipped his stern glare upon the adjacent residential building's rooftop. A shadow, a casting shadow foreground to the beaming warm rays briefly gazed down upon him…so quickly that he may have just been seeing things? Fist tightening, he furrowed his brows slipping a soft grunt under his breath before Brenius' exuberant tremor cast over his troubled persona. "Cabe, we need your fire in the battlefield." He approached with a smile, offering him his weapons.
"You know I'm a hands-on type of guy." He rejected.
"These bad boys are actually custom made by Wiver Shop; was given to me as a token of my great customer service, but I rather stick with my halberd." Cabil's involuntary opened hand grabbed the grip most sternly as he scowled impishly at Brenius. "They say these things somehow unlock your inner power as you wield them. Come on," he buoyantly hustled down the steps and into the battlefield. "let's hurry up and clean this mess before sun fall."
There was a lack of understanding; something Cabil couldn't comprehend, but appreciated. Underneath the raven-black wolf hide beats the heart of a fighter who lived life to the fullest, disallowing the reoccurring onslaught of mankind to pull down on his upbeat demeanor. Brenius was a truly unique warrior. As Cabil confidently stood in survey upon the steps, he drew his newly found blades and engulfed the pungent taste of the wild austere affair.
He bolted, utilizing the blades as an extension of his combustions. As he sliced through the demonic masses, a foreign entity surged through his veins. Quicker his movements became, as if he was rippling through thin air while the ocular oxygen ducts mounted on his back whistled hot steam. A light flickered in his eyes in an instant—he grunted, gritting his teeth in rage, in malice as he showered himself in blood. Slash after slash the blows deepened, snuffing out every last drop of revulsion dripping out of their callus revolting bodies. An amorphous abhorrence doused his path and crippled the walls of pain encompassing him, weakening his spirit, but fueling his strength.
How much longer should I fight to protect her?
The shadows of his distraught hysteria cloaked his vision. His swinging arms maliciously fell between her eyes as the whizzing sound of his blades brought her to an abrupt halt. She gasped, her peering stunned gaze finding passion in his chestnut eyes. Hanging mere inches above her upturned nose, he could see her breath bathe his blades as his own cascaded heavily upon her person. Sweat, blood, the stench of madness—bewildered, he felt the back of her hand grazing his cheek as the other clasped his grip, "Cabil…" The look of concern churned her face, and Cabil answered to it unconcernedly, withdrawing from what could have been a friendly fire. "Hey! Cabil, are you ok?" The bob-haired blond called out to him as he exited, leaving behind him a trail of corpses.
"Ah, let him be, Cameron." Brenius capped her shoulder with a sigh.
"Let him be? He almost sliced me open!" She scoffed, bringing her hands to her hips before she disengaged her dual rapid fire pistols and perkily followed her comrade. "An apology would have been nice, or was that your way of flirting with me?" She teased, walking backwards to his forward gait as she arched her arms behind her head. "Come on, Cabil. Stop being such a closed book. You have to let someone in eventually. Why not talk to me?"
He sighed indefinitely, "I'm going home."
Banished from his own home, exiled into the abyss of the divine order—Syreene made it clear her dear brother wouldn't be welcomed for dinner until he satisfied the appointment she made with a rather dignitary priest of Dovve. There Cabil stood hands in his pockets, dressed casual before the glorious goth-like exostructure. Its façade flushed a soft beige as the warm sunset cascaded upon the horizon; spade tipped spires crowned the ancient sacred cathedral-like temple.
A soft chime echoed in his ears, calling to him, beckoning a glance to the woman sitting on a bench adjacent. He choked, a swarm of butterflies sashaying in his stomach. Her long brunette tresses fell upon her shoulder elegantly in a single loose ponytail—an earthly, motherly aura roamed her compass as she mended nylon ties to a mounting bar. So graceful her posture, dressed in a cornflower blue frilly gown to compliment her radiant copper eyes. His fix to her strictly overwhelmed with bewildered emotion, she broke the odd air between them with a wave and smile. He closed his parted lips, regaining composure, and answering with a mirroring gesture. As he veered back and entered the nave, he clasped a palm over his head, shutting his eyes only briefly to erase a familiar face from his memories before absorbing the magnificent organs of the temple.
The depth floating down the dark mosaic floor resonated a calming monastic chant, between the stone pillars, the polished mahogany pews, and against the translucent curvilinear windows of Khorgathe's goddess sisters. The lofty contour wore a muted variegation of oranges and violets, and as he continued to survey across the motif radial design above him, his eyes fell to the sunlight-inviting apse. Vibrant, transparent hues of cool blues teemed onto the altar, and standing in the chancel, a man dressed in a crimson tassel-topped ivory robe sweeping the floors.
Humming to the mellowed chorale, Cabil became more apparent to the priest as he leisurely approached him. "Evening, may I help you?" He questioned as he brought his sweeping to a pause, pushing the bridge of his rectangular framed glasses over his snub pointed nose.
"Cabil. I'm here for my appointment to see Father Ben…Beno—"
"Ahh! Mr. Hargann! Your appointment was for a couple hours prior. I was sure I wouldn't be seeing you today, but, it's better late than never, yes?" He settled his broom aside, eagerly taking Cabil by the shoulder and sitting him down on a nearby pew. "Yes, yes, I am Father Narus Sierafin Benoventeg, but the congregation call me Father Nars for short." He sat aside Cabil with the most dulcet smile etched on his friendly face. "I am most pleased you decided to pay me a visit today. Not many are willing to express their deep need for assistance, guidance, or even prayer, and even more have lost all faith in our deities. This is truly the most vital step in clarity, peace with one's self, and starting anew."
As he jabbered on, Cabil couldn't help but notice an odd air floating around him. This priest was very peculiar, he mused. Although he hasn't encountered many religious men in his short years of living, he was certain of their vibe. Pretentious, perhaps wearing a mask to conceal something hostile? Malicious? A monster in plain sight, hiding in the highly respected title known as priest. And to add onto the charade, he's a pretty boy—long sand pebble blond tresses framed his oval silhouette, porcelain rose lips with crystalline sapphire eyes tinted sage. He shouldn't jump to conclusions just yet, but the monotone of itching awaiting disaster pounded in his head anxiously. Could be the recent brawl in the square raddling his jitters, could be a gut feeling—
"Hmm?" He jerked his head up startlingly, affixing crossed arms as he slouched into his seat.
"Was the website easy to maneuver?"
"My sister actually signed me up for this counseling session."
"Ah, good to hear siblings looking out for each other."
"I take refuge from this forsaken country by knowing she's safe."
"You two must be close. I can sense she means everything to you."
"She does, but all the same, she could be a real pain in my ass." Arms stretched out with a yawn, he flashed Narus with a smirk, "Look, I don't need you to talk to me about how I can better myself, lose the gloom and doom attitude of mine and see the world from the other side of the spectrum; because let's face it—this piece of shit world we live in isn't the result of some fallen protégé, or a bitchy goddess who went rogue, or a punishment for our sins against deities; it's fucking life. We deal with it anyway we can, fight to survive, and at the very least die with a smile on our faces. Cause at least we tried, right?" He paused, "Those demons aren't going to stop until they starve themselves by exhausting their food supply—us. Every last one of us…but I have a reason to fight, aside from survival, aside from that fat ass' protection."
"And what reason would that be?"
"To protect her. She's all I have now. And I would die fighting before those mother fuckers lay a hand on her." He clenched his fist, the elevation in his voice perking Narus' curiosity. "You can count on it!"
"Oh, a lover?"
"My adopted sister. She was eight when she joined the family. Aside from the heaps of corpses, The Falling left cities with orphans to spare. My father took her in; she was in pretty bad shape. He ran a couple of safe houses around the town I grew up in for kids, but there was something about her that intrigued my father, so he brought her in as one of his own. Hmph, he was always trying to look out for everyone. Especially the little ones…just didn't know when somethings weren't worth the risk…"
He read his stirred tone, "Did something unfortunate transpire?"
"So how about that token?!" Cabil bolted up his seat, fixing his attention to the rather baffled priest turned by Cabil's sudden chipper front. "Dinner's waiting, and apparently I need that token to prove we had our little chat."
There was a brief silence between them before he got up and reached into his robe's deep side pocket revealing a small quarter sized double sided sticker piece with an emblem on it. "This should suffice. No doubt your sister will motion you to visit me again. I too would like to speak to you further, when you have time to spare. I sense a lot of stoical repression in you, a lot of rage. Talking about your feelings doesn't make you weak, it awakens you to the real issues at hand. And I can help you with that." He enveloped his hands around Cabil's, looking to him potently, "So next time how about we break that tough exterior of yours and get cleansed?!"
"Pass." He replied, unfazed by the father's defeated expression. "You have a good night there, clergyman." He left with a salute goodbye, exiting the walls of the temple to note the darkness that quickly encompassed the city.
The streets tonight stood immaculate. Dim lights flickered at intervals parallel to each other down the sidewalk, and not a peep echoed through the burrows of buildings. An early curfew town-Cabil forgot about the strict nighttime regulations of keeping Dovve citizens locked up in boarded homes protected by "fortification spells." No wonder business lights were out, public grounds were closed, and not a soul ventured out at this time. He undoubtedly didn't hear the curfew siren go off from the temple.
"Hmph, all of this for a lousy church sticker." He scoffed as he paced himself, pulling out the token at eye-level with a scrunched look on his face "The print shop should be about to—" He jerked, the rattling of chains sending a rushing impulse as he veered sharply behind him, fists already igniting a flame, only to be greeted with metal hooks impaled below his collar bones. Blackout-a tessellated wash of blood red blurred his vision as his body absorbed the shock from this sudden assault. His head staggered back, his shaking hand clasping the chain tailing the hooked weapon embedded in his chest. Gritting his teeth, still unable to register the pain, he glared at the girl atop the streetlight as she bellowed,
"Class A solider Cabil Hargann! By the order of Malfoyaunt, You are under arrest for treason!"