RE: Red Noon
Ok, I STRONGLY recommend that only mature readers read this from now on. This chapter has some pretty gruesome parts to it, and I might just have the whole thing like that. SO. Only read it if you can handle it. My stuff is pretty mild to some other stuff I've seen, but even so...
Anyway, chapter 2. Enjoy.
Red Noon, Chapter 2: The Dive
Although he had done this sort of thing many times before, each person was different. Russell didn’t know exactly what to expect, but it was bound to be something unpleasant. Not to mention, the Black Feather considered this act – “Diving,” as it was called – more harmful than any other exorcism method due to the risk it carried to the victim. The soul was the most protected, sacred part of any being, and to violate its sanctity in such a powerful manner could, in rare cases, cause a sort of fusion between demon and host. Even if that didn’t happen, there was no telling what would happen to the physical body just due to the Dive itself. There was always some sort of price to be paid.
Regardless, Russell looked now upon the inner “world” of Sheena Hughes. This part of a life form would normally take the form of their most treasured place, and would have changing weather much as a real environment would. This was part of the order of things, and it can be described as natural for a being – most often human – to project themselves in a familiar place when confronted by something unpleasant, somewhere they felt most comfortable, or happy. For Sheena, it seemed, this place was an old village, surrounded by snow-capped mountains to the north, and a small evergreen forest to the direct left of where Russell stood. Snow fell from the overcast sky, flecking his dark hair and clothing with spots of white. However, it wasn’t cold. Even upon making contact with his skin the snow didn’t melt, nor did his breath become foggy.
‘Strange…’ Russell thought to himself, before taking his first step towards the village. ‘At least I’m leaving footprints behind…’
The snow was only a few inches deep, making the search through the village that much easier. It was crucial to get out as quickly as possible, and Russell could feel a deep sense of foreboding increasing the further in he went. Although the sun was hidden he could see very clearly, and the look of the buildings didn’t help matters any: the once livable structures bore mars of battle – recent marks – that could only have been created from a creature with incredible strength, and weapons to match. There were broken windows, doors that had been smashed in, and apparent claw marks all over, and things looked more like a war zone than a small town. Russell ran his fingers over one of the marks, noticing how deeply into the dark wood of the house they went. Even more disturbing was that whatever had made it had almost human hands.
The center of town wasn’t much of an improvement. The only sign of life ever having been there was a stone fountain in the middle of a circle of houses. Frozen icicles of water flowed down from the flutes and horns of many cherubs, like crystalline streamers, trapping small coins and tokens at their bases. The main focal point of the fountain was a tall, fierce looking woman, with her face upturned to meet the rising sun, and her long hair blowing in a non-existent breeze. Although each of the figurines was smiling, their grey, stone faces were all lined with frozen tears of ice, and it seemed to Russell that for a moment he could hear one of the happy-looking figures crying. But suddenly he realized that it was no trick of the mind. He turned, and to his right he noticed that behind a large building (probably a church of some sort, judging by the stain glass windows) was a small stack of boxes, a small shoe appearing in between a gap in the wall they formed.
“Sheena!” Russell called, but he got no response. Nor did he spot any movement, so he tried again, louder. This time the girl pulled her foot back, at least trying not to be seen, even if it was already too late. She was obviously planning on running.
“I’ve already seen you, Sheena.” Russell said, inching towards the boxes so that she couldn’t hear him getting closer. “I know exactly where you are, there’s no use running. I’m not here to hurt you.”
Russell mused over the way he sounded – he had never been “good” with children, much less in a situation like this. He probably sounded the exact opposite of his intent, and he felt stupid for not being better at this sort of thing, but chose to ignore his faults: he was only a few feet away from the closest box now, and stealth was everything. Only a few more steps and he would be able to at least catch her if nothing else. He certainly wasn’t going to be able to talk her out…
He took one more step, the final step, but the minute he put his weight into it there was a slight crack and he realized with a sudden jolt that he had failed to notice a stray piece of wood while he had been lost in the moment. Instantly, the box towers began to shake with the force of Sheena trying to make her escape. She broke past her protective fort and tried to flee into the town, but Russell was faster. He barely managed to grab hold of one of her sleeves, and he pulled her back taking hold of one of her arms. She was still struggling, and so he wheeled her around to face him, and knelt down to her eye level. Sheena was only about ten or so, he noticed. The ribbon in her hair had come undone long ago it seemed, for her golden blonde hair fell down into her eyes and over her shoulders. Her eyes were closed, and she refused to meet his gaze.
“Sheena, calm down!” He said, trying to sound as gentle as possible. She didn’t open her eyes, but she stopped struggling. Maybe she knew she was caught, or maybe she could tell there was something different about him – after all, the demon had only known he had been by her bedroom because it used a gift that had originally been hers. “Sheena, calm down. I’m here to help you.”
Russell loosened his grip as proof and brought his hand away, but just enough so that if she ran again he could still catch her. “Your brother –”
“What?” she asked suddenly, opening her eyes and looking into his. He heard her gasp and she took a step back. “Your eyes…” she said quietly.
“You’re not a –”
“No,” Russell said, “I’m not a demon.”
“Then where is it?” she asked, obviously suspicious of him. Russell was used to that kind of thing – people often felt his red eye color was unnatural, but he couldn’t help being born with them like that.
“I don’t know.” he replied truthfully. He stood up and looked around again. It was possible that it was nearby if it had heard them talking, and he knew Sheena hadn’t been hiding for nothing. He reached into his jacket and pulled out his pistol, checking it to make sure it had been loaded. It looked like an ordinary gun for the most part, aside from the “RN” etched near the edge of the barrel. He had built the gun himself, spending hour upon hour learning how to use and construct a weapon specifically for him – so much time that it had almost become a part of him. Russell knew that if he ever lost it somehow, it would be the same as losing a close friend or parent. But he hadn’t given it a name yet. Other demon hunters from the Black Feather had given their weapons names, but as he looked past the barrel of his oldest ally he knew he could never come up with one that fit just right.
Still, he knew he would at least find one eventually. He had left just enough space for a name when he built it, and momentarily set his eyes on this spot just below his initials before returning to gaze past it. The area around him seemed empty: there was still no movement, and even Sheena seemed frozen, although perhaps by fear more than anything else. The snow had almost stopped falling now, and a slight breeze had moved in, blowing what remained of the snowflakes anywhere but to the ground. The cloud cover that had been thick before was now starting to dissipate.
‘That’s good…’ Russell thought to himself. ‘More light means that if it’s only a lesser demon it won’t be able to stay outside for long.’
But while that was true, it was still important to learn anything he could about his foe – while he was here, he was equally as vulnerable to the demon’s influence as Sheena. He relaxed his stance and brought his gun down, but he didn’t put it away.
“Sheena,” he said turning to meet her gaze again, “do you know whether or not the demon is close?” She probably didn’t, but asking the question was both for information and to keep the girl calm as long as possible. She seemed uneasy, and kept shifting her weight from foot to foot. She looked ready to run if she had to.
“Its close.” she replied quietly. “Or it was. That’s why I was hiding. But it’s not now, and even so, if the sun is out –”
Russell registered what she had said – apparently she and her brother weren’t just ordinary people if they knew anything like that about demons.
“- it shouldn’t be able to attack us as easily. Maybe it went into a building of some sort. I for one intend to relax as long as possible before whatever happens now that you’re here.” She climbed on top of the pile of boxes and stretched out on top of a rather large moving box. For a minute the newly blue sky was reflected in her eyes as she stared into its depths, but suddenly she looked back at him. “What’s your name?”
“What?” To be honest, Russell had been a little taken aback. This girl, who had – at first glance – seemed like any other, was now relaxing and making small talk when she could be attacked at any moment. He hadn’t encountered someone like this before, and he didn’t think it likely that he would again.
“I asked you what your name was.” she replied, thinking he had misunderstood her.
“That’s a weird name for a demon hunter.” she said smiling to herself.
“No, it’s not.” Russell shot back, but it only made her start to giggle.
“If you say so...” she said finally, and began humming to herself to end the conversation.
The tranquility didn’t last long. Even if the sun was slowly emerging from the clouds, there was no guarantee that there wouldn’t be a demon around. Russell knew that keeping tabs on all the shadows was important, but so far there were only two: his, and Sheena’s. The snow had stopped falling completely now, and in the stillness it was hard not to hear everything around. Russell could hear even the slightest of movements as if they were close up. The only other noise came from the breeze that had started to pick up in the absence of further snow.
‘Maybe we’ll get lucky this time.’ Russell thought to himself, but only half believed it. It was highly unlikely that his presence was not already known to the demon, and every moment he prolonged the Dive the risks of serious damage increased.
Finally, he decided it was in both their interests to leave the church building and see what else they could find in the town. Sheena didn’t seem at all troubled by the thought of running into anything while on the move, which, while a good thing, meant that she could be at risk for a surprise attack, so Russell avoided enclosed areas. The town was much bigger than he had previously thought, although most of the buildings shared the same damage as those he had first seen. There were no people, either. Although this was the norm, Russell vaguely recalled one of his first Dives where there had been townsfolk, and they had all been slain by the possessing demon. The victim had gone insane as a result.
The darkened buildings were arranged almost like a maze, and it was hard to find the right path. Often they found they had crossed their paths, only to take another wrong turn and end up back where they started. It was certainly a unique layout, but it was no coincidence, Russell was sure.
“What do you expect to find?” Sheena asked after they had circled the area a few times. “We’ve been passing this same place over and over.”
“That’s the point.” Russell explained. “Most likely the demon already knows I’m here, so if we keep moving, we’ll leave a trail behind.” He pointed back at their footsteps. “It’ll know exactly where to find us.”
“You WANT it to find us?” Sheena asked, for the first time confused. “But what good could that possibly do?”
“It’ll do all the good in the world.” Russell replied simply. “You’re trapped here because of it, and the only way to fix that is to get rid of it.”
“But the other demon hunters would never-” she stopped mid-sentence, before hesitating and adding, “It’s not what I would think to do.”
The sun finally burst from its shadowy veil, flooding the area with bright noonday light. Again Russell counted the number of shadows to be safe – but discovered there were not two, but three. It had finally found them.
The demon stepped out from behind a small house and revealed itself to the group. Standing before them was a shadow darker than coal. It had basic human shape, but it was several feet taller than Russell, and had no facial features other than circles of fire where one would expect to see eyes. It’s skin was strangely pulled back, forcing it to have a permanent scream upon it’s face. It opened its jaws and a strangely metallic shriek of laughter escaped its lips. Russell could see flames inside its throat.
“Sheena, get back!” he warned, as the demon advanced on them. The girl nodded, and took cover inside a building, climbing over the broken door and not daring to look back. Russell held up his pistol and aimed it at the things forehead, but it merely laughed again.
“What do you expect to do with that?” it asked, it’s voice a screeching mix of what sounded like a dog in pain and the human voice. “That gun alone isn’t going to leave a scratch.”
“Maybe so,” Russell said staring down at his weapon. “But it’s not the gun that matters.”
He pulled the trigger and instantly the gun roared to life, sending out a single bullet. The demon tried to dodge, but at point blank range it was nearly impossible, and the bullet penetrated it’s left arm, sending dark matter swirling up and around the wound like smoke.
“AAAARRRGH!” the demon shrieked in pain, and plunged it’s right hand into the wound after the bullet. It pulled it’s hand out after a few seconds, and in it’s smoking, bloodied fingertips was a bullet made of pure silver, a large magical symbol similar in shape of a classic transmutation circle decorating the tip.
“What is this?” it shrieked, cradling it’s now useless arm in the other.
Russell didn’t answer. He instead fired several more shots, but this time the demon knew what was coming. It lunged at him, it’s wounded arm trailing awkwardly behind it. It was easy enough for Russell to avoid being hit – with it’s wound slowing it down, it was possible to anticipate it’s next move and counter before it had a change to strike. It’s arm also made it clumsy in motion, and in an attempt to turn it accidentally smashed a group of barrels, splintering the wood and shattering the metal into razor sharp blade-like pieces.
‘This should be easy enough,’ Russell imagined as three additional bullets sank into the demon’s abdomen. Again it tried to attack, and again he dodged, but to his surprise the demon did not stop. He turned to face it’s direction and to his horror saw Sheena climb out from the building and begin to walk towards him – towards the demon. Her eyes were sightless, and it was clear she had no control.
‘Shit, shit!’ Russell fired again, hoping to bring it down before it got to her, but if it had the energy left to control her even with such severe wounds – Suddenly there was a sharp click and the shower of bullets stopped dead. His gun had jammed.
Russell searched desperately for another weapon. The demon had closed in now, and extended it’s claws, raising it’s good arm for attack. He had to do something, anything, but there was nothing he could use, and without a weapon the demon would surely – It didn’t matter, if he didn’t act now Sheena was going to die. He grabbed the closest object to him and prayed.
The next thing Sheena saw would be etched into her memory forever. Russell knelt with his back towards her, a piece of metal from a broken barrel held above him, glaring in the sunlight. Crimson blood rained down on both humans as the demon collapsed, bent over the steel that now impaled it’s heart. The Demon Hunter shifted his weight and let the corpse fall onto the newly reddened earth. Instantly, the black, smoke-like skin of the demon peeled back, revealing the body of a middle aged man. Or so it looked, it was nearly impossible to tell by his face: there was almost nothing left of it. The skin and most of the other tissue appeared to have been melted off, leaving only bits of rotting flesh clinging to the jaw, nose, and empty eye sockets. What was left of the hair was dull and graying, the color of the jogging outfit he wore, now bloodied and full of bullet holes.
“What is this?” Sheena screamed as she fell to her knees. She stared in horror at the body, trembling violently and tears streaming from her eyes. She closed her eyes and turned away, sobbing quietly. “What is this….”
It had begun to snow again. It wasn’t cold, but Sheena bundled up in the jacket of Russell’s suit. It wasn’t much comfort. The dried blood that now dotted the black fabric was an ever present reminder of what had happened. She sat down on a nearby bench, deciding to watch the snowflakes rather than what was happening– after all, a grave yard was the last place she wanted to be right now. They always seemed to have something unnatural about them, and this one was no exception: without the sun, everything had a strange grayish look, like a black and white film from before the War. The trees were bare, covered only by a group of jeering crows, and the headstones that weren’t broken had been nearly lost in a sea of weeds. Her home town had really changed…
She brought her gaze back to Russell, and watched as he finished covering a newly dug grave. He stood up and bowed his head as if praying, before casting protective charms over the grave site and for an instant Sheena thought she could see the faint outline of wings coming from his back, but she knew that it must have been an illusion created by the weather. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder otherwise as a black feather fell slowly from the sky and landed at her feet. She picked it up and examined it, slowly twirling it in her fingers and watching how it moved in the air.
Russell had finished with the protection charms and was eager to be on the move. Sheena nodded, and placed the feather back on the ground. They walked past the old man’s grave and into the adjacent churchyard. Here Russell had drawn a circle into the snow and surrounded it with swirling symbols she had never seen before, and they stepped inside it one after the other. There was a clear difference between the atmosphere in and outside. Sheena found that she could breathe easier, and the mood was somehow brighter. But as she looked one last time at the new grave she couldn’t help but feel sorrow at the thought of leaving the man behind.
“Will he be alright?” she asked.
“He’s already gone on.” Russell replied, not looking at her. “The angels came for him.”
Sheena didn’t entirely understand what he had said, but there was something about it that had reassured her regardless. She glanced around at the broken town one last time and as her eyes reached the site of the bench she had sat on she noticed that the feather had disappeared.
‘But there’s no wind…’
Repeating what he had done before, Russell placed his finger in the center of his forehead and touched it to hers, preparing to exit the Dive. He couldn’t help but notice an uneasy feeling that things were only about to get worse, but he but his fears to the back of his mind and returned to the task at hand.
“This will only take a minute.” He told Sheena. He took a deep breath, and readied himself for whatever was about to happen.
淡い記憶がまだ 残した傷みに滲む 手に入れたものが 全て過ちでも
Awai kioku ga mada nokoshita itami ni nijimu Te ni ireta mono ga subete ayamachi de mo
Asai nemuri no naka hagareta omoi ga kishimu Nani mo kamo ima wa subete keshisaretara
浅い眠りの中 剥がれた想いが軋む 何もかも今は 全て消し去れたら
||Foxxes Cove||Silver Patronus||
||Administrator || Professor||
The Order of the Phoenix
Currently Working On:
I Solemnly Swear I am Up to No Good - Chapter 6
Red Noon - Chapter 3