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The Last Angel

Discussion in 'Fiction' started by Weiss Ritter, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Weiss Ritter

    Weiss Ritter Avid Affiliate Ryonani Teamster

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    Introduction
    So, this will be my first attempt at a ryona story, and it's going to be tailored pretty much strictly to my own interests. While most people would probably prefer something about their favorite characters, I tend to be uncomfortable writing things about pre-existing characters, so this is going to be original fiction instead. Furthermore, the ryona will not come until later, so you will have to be patient with me. Inspired by this picture, for which I unfortunately lack the source. I'm planning on three chapters, written over the next few days. I will probably not be refining or polishing these, but constructive criticism is welcome. Just remember, it's my first time, so please be gentle~

    Chapter 1: Hell On Earth

    August 22
    They came. Usually the man on the TV says where they're going to go, but he never said they would come here. I wonder if our town will be on the news just like all of the other cities they went to. Mom says that New York City used to be one of the biggest cities in the world before they came, but now there's nothing there but rocks and fire. That happened when I was too little to remember, but now I don't have to. They came here. To my town. The police still couldn't stop them. There was a preacher on the street saying that they were demons sent to punish humanity for its sins, but they killed him too. I saw a painting with demons on it at a museum once, and they do sort of look like that. I guess that's why everybody calls them demons.

    It happened after school, when I was on my way home. They came and everyone started screaming and running, but they never found me because I hid in my secret spot by the playground. I'm the second shortest kid in my class, so most people can't fit there. When I came back out, everything was like the way it is now. Broken, or burning, or both. I ran back home but Mom and Dad weren't there. I wonder where everyone is now. Am I alone? I'll have to see.

    August 23
    I'm not alone. There are still demons here. I saw one today, and it saw me, but I hid inside a trash can and it couldn't find me. I'm scared and hungry, and now I smell kind of bad too. I wish Mom and Dad were here. They'd know what to do.

    August 25
    Something really amazing happened today! I was being chased by the demons again, but this time they trapped me. That was the first time I saw them up so close, and it was really scary. I thought I was going to die. That's not the amazing part, by the way. I curled up and cried, thinking "please I don't want to die" over and over again, and right before they got me, there was a bright light. It was really really bright, so bright I couldn't see. But then the light went away, and the demons were dead. Hovering over them was a lady with big white wings. She dressed kind of funny, but she was still really pretty. She says her name is Cassiel, and that she's my guardian angel. I didn't know angels really existed. It's hard to believe, but she's still here with me. And she's really strong, too. Now whenever we find a demon, Cassiel protects me. No matter how many of them there are, she can beat them. I don't think she even has to try very hard. I'm still scared, but I feel a lot better with her around. Now I just have to find my parents. Cassiel says that if we do, she will keep them safe too.

    "What are you doing, Eli?"

    The young boy looked up from his journal, startled by the voice. He was sitting on a fallen concrete slab, a piece of the ruins that used to be a post office. Behind him was a svelte young woman with fair skin and golden hair, peering down at him and smiling warmly. Ornate silver armor covered her legs, forearms, shoulders, and chest. Underneath she was wearing tightly-fitted dark blue fabric, and a long, flowing white skirt. She had heterochromatic eyes; her right eye blue and her left red, but by far the most obvious indicator of her inhuman origins were her wings. A pair of snowy white wings that were looked almost translucent in the daylight. She evoked the image of a valkyrie: pure, graceful, but dangerous.

    "Oh Cassiel, you scared me. This is just a journal. Our teacher said to write about our week for homework, so that's what I'm doing," responded the boy, putting down his number 2 pencil. He still hadn't gotten used to traveling with a companion. Until Cassiel came, every sound meant that he had to hide from yet another demon. Now he didn't have to worry about that kind of thing, with his very own guardian angel protecting him.

    "I see, even with all of this, you're still attending your studies. Good for you," said the angel approvingly, patting the boy on the head. He laughed, closing his journal and standing up.

    "Stop it, I'm not a little kid, you know," he huffed, doing his best to sound indignant. "So, did you find anything?"

    Cassiel nodded, and then pointed in the distance, down the cracked asphalt freeway. All along the road there were crumbling buildings and a few abandoned cars, most of them with cracked windshields. "There was an underground complex that way, about two miles away. It's very spacious, and best of all, quite secure. Furthermore, I could not sense any trace of a demonic aura in that area. The demons seem to have left it mostly untouched. Shall I take you there?"

    Eli picked up his backpack and slipped his journal into it. "Yeah, let's go," he agreed, standing up. If there was a complaint he could make about Cassiel, it was that she rarely acted on her own. She made suggestions, gave helpful advice, and of course kept the bloodthirsty demons away, but she seemed wholly dependent on him to make all of the actual decisions, and this baffled him. Despite his protests, he was just a kid, and she was some sort of divine being. Sometimes he wondered why she even bothered with him, when she could be out slaying demons in droves with her amazing powers. She said she was indeed from heaven, so didn't she have anything more important to be doing? He had asked her at one point, but she said that when she manifested here on Earth, she lost most of her memories related to heaven. All she knew was that it was her job to protect him and, apparently, do anything he asked.

    Although Cassiel could fly, when they traveled together, she simply walked beside him. They traveled in this way in silence, boy and angel side by side, for about ten minutes until Cassiel suddenly stopped. "Eli, we're being followed. You may wish to close your eyes." He knew what that meant by now, and not only did he close his eyes, he also ducked. The air in front of Cassiel shimmered for a second, and a beautiful silver lance appeared out of thin air. With a practiced manuever, she grabbed it and then whirled around. The tip of the lance flashed, then shot a beam of white hot light at a spot on the ground behind her. An ear-splitting shriek was followed by the sudden appearance of a hideous creature. It was vaguely human shaped, but with reptillian skin and the posture of a gorilla. It writhed on the ground in agony, then vanished again into a wisp of black smoke. Eli stood up and started to cheer, but Cassiel put out her arm and stepped in front of him, cutting him off. "An umbral demon. And it wasn't the only one. Watch." Faint shadows began to flicker all around them, each of them coalescing into a demon, the same kind that Cassiel had just killed. There were over a dozen demons surrounding them, watching them through their slitted pupils.

    "Impresssive..." hissed one of the demons, a little larger than the rest. His voice was harsh and gutteral, almost painful to Eli's ears. "But it makess little difference. A lone angel hass no chance of surviving againsst uss! Perhapss if you kneel before us, we will be kind and make your death quick. What ssay you?" The other demons cackled, eager to see the terrified reaction of the outnumbered angel, but she looked just as serene as ever.

    "I'm sorry, but I cannot surrender so easily. Will that be all?" she asked without a hint of aggression. In stark contrast to the demon's grating voice, hers was soft, melodious. The swarm of demons stared back in disbelief at the angel's apparent impudence. "Then, come."

    As if on cue, the demons ran towards her all at once, but with a wide, horizontal sweep of her lance, she knocked the front runners off of their feet. Although the weapon looked thin and fragile, more ornamental than suited for real combat, it didn't bend at all even with the powerful impact it made against the demons' legs. Before they even had a chance to register what had happened, the angel planted her foot on one of their chests, then drove her spear right through its face. The next wave of umbral demons leapt over the bodies of their fallen comrades, but Cassiel hoisted the body of the demon she had just impaled like a bale of hay, then flung it into the advancing demons. Its head ripped off at the neck, and its body slammed so forcefully into the rest that they vaporized into smoke on impact. The head still stuck on the end of her lance soon followed, so that in the end there was not a trace of blood left on the divine weapon.

    There was a momentary lull in action as the demons stared in a mixture of disbelief and horror. The angel had just slain half a dozen of them, and she hadn't even broken a sweat yet. They never could have fathomed that just one angel could do all of that, and now they were rethinking their odds of winning. "Grrrr... don't jusst sstand there, get her!" growled the demon who had spoken earlier, and his cohorts continued the assault, although reluctantly this time.

    Cassiel showed no such hesitation, diving right into the crowd of demons. She moved with blinding speed, dancing just out of the way of their hooked claws to deliver punishing blows to any that got close to her. The lance head seemed like nothing more than a formality, for she could use the butt of her lance to smash in the skulls of the demons just as easily. She became a whirl of steel and feathers, utterly demolishing the demons who so foolishly believed at one point that they had the upper hand. Amidst the chaos of the fight, two demons finally managed to get close enough to grab her arms from behind, only to learn that those wings of hers weren't just for show. With one powerful beat of her wings, they were thrown off with violent force, finally landing half a city block away. In a few short minutes, the demons that had not been killed outright were lying in a heap at Cassiel's feet, except for their apparent leader, who was now crawling away in fear. "Damn you, angel! I'll get you for thiss! You'll be sscreaming for mercy before the end!" Before Cassiel could finish him off, he disappeared into a speck of shadow, retreating as abruptly as he arrived. The demons that had not yet been killed also disappeared in the same way, until there was no longer any trace of them left.

    When it was all over, Eli emerged from his hiding place and ran towards Cassiel, embracing her from behind. "Cassiel! You're okay! That was so many of them-- I was really worried!" he exclaimed gratefully, hugging her tight. She looked down at him, surprised and a little confused. At no point had she considered herself in any actual danger, but she realized that to a human the situation may have looked perilous at first. Her weapon disappeared into tiny motes of light, and she patted him on the head with a gentle smile.

    "There, there, it's alright now. I promised that I would protect you, didn't I? Now then, let us continue on our way," she said softly, not at all like someone who had just slaughtered countless demons. "We still have to find your parents, don't we?"

    Eli let go of her, and contented himself with holding her hand. "Y-yeah! Let's go!" he said with a cheerful nod, and the two of them continued their journey to the underground hideout, side by side.
     
  2. Raden

    Raden Club Regular Ryonani Teamster

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    That is just amazing. I'm speechless. I can't wait for the rest, but I get the feeling it's going to be sad, if the angel gets beat up or killed or whatever.
     
  3. TheCrimsonRisk

    TheCrimsonRisk Club Regular Ryonani Teamster

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    *shakes his head at Weiss not wanting to post his story*

    You magnificent bastard.

    Weiss, this is some solid writing and I thought the opening with the journal was well done. I was worried when you said you weren't going to use an existing character, but you established these originals and the setting and it was easy to follow.

    I really liked the kid still doing his homework, it was a nice character touch and it serviced the narrative. Honestly, there were a ton of little details that worked for me so far (her walking with him instead of flying, his confusion over why she follows his orders, the revelation of her wings during the fight...)

    Your action scenes are outstanding and I can't wait until poor Cassiel ends up on the wrong end of things. Great start!
     
  4. Weiss Ritter

    Weiss Ritter Avid Affiliate Ryonani Teamster

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    Chapter 2: Humanity's Savior

    The trip to the underground compound took about an hour in total, even though it only took Cassiel ten minutes to find it and come back. Just as she said, the place looked like it used to be a military base, but was now utterly devoid of human presence. It was surrounded with barbed wire and electric fencing, and the only entrance was through a security gate. The booth was unmanned, however, so Eli and Cassiel simply walked right by it. At the center of the complex was a short and squat building that nonetheless looked sturdy enough to be a bomb shelter. All of the doors were closed and padlocked except one, which Cassiel pointed out to her charge.

    The inside of the building was dark labyrinth of hallways, with a few flickering fluorescent lights still struggling valiantly to keep the compound illuminated. Most of the rooms were strangely empty, except for a large conference room, and a kitchen. Eli ran into the kitchen and immediately went for the refrigerator.

    "Wow! Cassiel, come look at this!" he exclaimed, holding the refrigerator door open, its tiny light bulb casting a warm glow on his face. It was fully stocked with pre-packaged food and drinks. Some of it was partially eaten, but for the most part it had been left untouched. Eli sat down on the floor and tore into a package of salami. "Want some?" he asked, holding out a slice towards the angel while nibbling on a slice of his own. She shook her head.

    "I do not need to eat. We had best save that for you and your parents, when we find them."

    "Yeah," Eli agreed. Her words were comforting. When we find them. It sounded like there was no doubt in her mind that he would be reunited with his parents, and that made him confident too. Not to mention finding a place like this; they could probably live safely here until help arrived, as long as their food supply held out. While Eli had his miniature feast, a faint sound reverberated throughout the building. It sounded like some sort of thumping noise. Eli immediately dropped his food like a frightened mouse. "I-I thought you said there were no d-demons here!" he exclaimed, looking around nervously. But Cassiel seemed unfazed, simply closing her eyes.

    "I did say that. That sound is not coming from a demon," she said calmly. It took Eli a second to register the implications of what she said.

    "Then... you mean... that's a human?" he asked. After a brief pause, the angel nodded. "Another survivor? That's great! Let's go find them!" He stood up, eyes shining with even more excitement than when he first opened the refrigerator, and ran out into the hallway.

    "Eli, wait!" shouted Cassiel, chasing after him, but he kept running. It was nice having Cassiel around, but this would be the first fellow human he would ever meet since the demons came. Besides, it would be even less lonely with three people! Even though he knew it was unlikely, he hoped that whoever it was would be close to his age. The sound was coming from below them, so Eli ran towards the stairs, bounding down each flight when he got to the final three steps. Finally he arrived on the lowest basement floor. Here all of the normal lights had died out, leaving only the eerie green glow of emergency lights that did little more than illuminate his feet. Unlike the first floor, the basement was all just one giant warehouse, with crates and strange machines scattered about seemingly at random. Many of the mysterious machines had large tears in them, revealing their inner circuitry. Red and green LEDs blinked at him from behind every dark corner, watching his every movement. Upon further inspection, it looked like the room originally stored even more equipment, given the amount of unplugged wires and cables left lying about. Some of them hung from the ceiling as well, their silhouette reminiscent of nooses.

    As he walked deeper into the dark room, his initial enthusiasm began to waver. Even if there were no demons here, this place creeped him out. He couldn't imagine who would live down here, rather than the tidier upstairs rooms. Still, like a moth drawn to the flame, he felt himself compelled to find the source of the thumping noises. However, after a while he realized that he had gotten no closer the sound and, furthermore, it was moving around the room. He stopped walking and looked around, but the exit was no longer in sight. "Cassiel?" he called out uncertainly, but there was no answer.

    "Who's Cassiel?" came a raspy voice from behind him. Eli nearly jumped in surprise and whirled around. At first he didn't see anyone, but then he noticed a shadow perched atop a filing cabinet.

    "W-who are you?" Eli asked, slowly backing away.

    The figure leapt down from the cabinet, landing with a heavy thump that sounded just like the noises that Eli had been chasing all this time. It stood up to its full height, revealing itself to be a tall, lanky man. Frazzled red hair poked out from behind a white mask, like the kind one would wear to a masquerade. He was wearing a tight black uniform, revealing his taut musculature underneath, and formerly white pants that was now covered in dark brown splotches. Eli soon realized with horror that they were dried bloodstains.

    "Dunno," replied the gaunt man, shrugging. He put a hand on his chin, as if mulling it over. "Maybe I'm a lion. And you are a deer. Are you a deer?"

    Eli didn't know what was going on, but he could guess the correct answer in this situation. "N-no?"

    "Oh." The gaunt man seemed disappointed by his answer, and leaned forward right into Eli's face, as if examining his 'deer-ness'. Whatever he was looking at, he seemed to confirm Eli's humanity. "Then, wanna see my collection?"

    "I, uh..." the boy stumbled over his words. There was something off about this man, even though he looked human, and Cassiel had basically confirmed that there were no demons here. While waiting for his answer, the man turned around and placed his hand on the side of the filing cabinet. Suddenly, a curved, raptor-like claw came out of his fingers, slicing straight through the cabinet. He dragged his finger downwards, widening the gash like he was splitting open the belly of a pig.

    "Wanna see my collection?" he asked again, louder this time. Eli nodded without hesitating this time.

    The man lead him through the mess of upturned chairs and torn up machinery, and realized that the reason the place looked so messy was probably because of this strange man. In due time the man stopped, and when Eli saw it, he almost threw up.

    The severed body parts of demons were arranged on the wall like some sort of sick trophy display. Arms, heads, entrails. Some of them were on shelves, but most were simply nailed in, their black ichor dripping messily down the walls. "This is my deer collection," said the man with a hint of pride. "Do you like it? I worked very hard on it. You could say it's my hobby. Do you have a hobby?"

    "U-um... I like to play soccer sometimes?" The poor boy didn't know what to make of all this. The man was intimidating, despite his stick-thin figure. He was also clearly dangerous and depraved. The 'deer collection' was proof that the reason Cassiel couldn't sense any demons here, was that he had killed all of them. But if he killed all of these demons, that meant they were on the same side, right? "So you like to kill demons?" he asked, just to make sure.

    The man looked at him as if he had just mentioned leprechauns. "Demons? What are those?"
    "Um, nevermind."
    "Don't call me mister, kid."
    "I... didn't?"
    "You did too."
    "Did not."
    They went on like this for a while, and Eli gradually got the feeling that he was, in fact, talking to someone his age. "So what should I call you then?"
    Once again, the man looked surprised at his question. He sat down and rested his chin on his fist, thinking about it. "Freeman. Call me Freeman."
    "Oh, because you want to free mankind from the demons?"
    "No, because I killed those motherfuckers who experimented on me and now I'm a free man."
    "...oh."

    The uncomfortable silence that had settled in between them was interrupted by a familiar voice. "Eli! Where are you?" In response, Freeman stood up and stretched his arms above his head.

    "Cassiel! I'm here!" Eli called out, glad to hear her coming. Now he could introduce her to Freeman, and he wouldn't have to feel so nervous. Freeman, however, looked like he had other plans. "Where are you going, Freeman? I can show you who Cassiel is."

    The man waved his hand dismissively. "Nah. I've got a deer to hunt. Later, kid." He swiftly disappeared into the shadows cast by the dim green glow of the emergency lights. With that, Eli was left alone in front of the gruesome wall of torn apart demons. Well, he did want to meet another human, but this felt rather surreal. Freeman was such a strange person, calling the demons 'deer' and living in this depressing place. Although, come to think of it, Cassiel had said there were no demons here. So what 'deer' was he going off to hunt...?

    The revelation hit Eli at the same time as a loud crash erupted from across the room. He frantically ran in the direction that Freeman had disappeared to, tripping over demolished furniture and broken machinery, just in time to see Cassiel using her lance to deflect a blow from Freeman's claws.

    "Cassiel!" he called out. She turned her head to locate him, and Freeman took the chance to land a kick in her stomach while she was distracted. The angel was thrown across the room by the force of the blow, slamming into a bookshelf. After regaining her bearings, she only just managed to roll out of the way before her head was skewered by Freeman's claws. Eli could only watch as the two of them continued their duel.

    "Hey kid. Didn't know you wanted to watch me gut this deer," Freeman grunted, pushing Cassiel back with a series of claw thrusts.

    "No, Freeman, stop! Why are you doing this?" Eli shouted, distraught.

    Freeman suddenly stopped, seemingly frozen in time. He then slowly turned his head towards the boy, rotating his neck further than seemed natural. "Because... she's one of them. She's the reason why my life had to be like this. I used to be a normal kid like you, but they kidnapped me right out of my house. Said that they needed to do these experiments so that I could save humanity from supernatural creatures. I didn't want to be a lion but they made me one anyway!" Then he covered his mask with his hand, doubling over. His shoulders shook and he let out a hoarse giggle, which erupted into full-blown laughter. "But... that's okay, you see? I'll just kill all of them. And once all of their heads are mounted on my wall, there won't be anymore supernaturals, right? And then I won't have to be a lion anymore? RIGHT?!" Freeman suddenly twisted his body and his arm lashed out where Cassiel was standing. Taken by surprise, she moved her head out of the way but not before his claws raked her face, leaving three slits of blood and slicing off a lock of her golden hair. Freeman was on her in an instant, stabbing at her as she barely avoided each attack and struggled to regain her balance.

    Eli was taken aback by his twisted logic. So he was turned into some kind of human weapon designed to fight against demons, against his will? And his reasoning was that if there were no demons, then he didn't need to be experimented on? That logic didn't even hold up to Eli's limited understanding. The order of cause and effect was all wrong. While it was convenient that in the end, he found motivation to do the thing that he was created to do, it seemed that in his insanity-fueled rage, he had miscategorized Cassiel as another demon. Not only that, there was something else wrong about this fight as well. The way Cassiel moved and reacted was different from the way she normally fought. The more Eli observed, the more he realized that she wasn't making any offensive maneuvers whatsoever. And this meant that no matter how skillfully she defended herself, she was bound to lose eventually.

    "Cassiel, fight back! He'll kill you if you don't!" Eli shouted to his guardian. Even as she avoided the enhanced human's claws, she took another kick that nearly knocked her back. The distance allowed her a brief reprieve during which she could respond.

    "I cannot harm a human being. It is forbidden," she said, her voice strained. It was obvious that she was beginning to tire. Freeman, however, was getting more and more worked up by the minute, screaming obscenities at the angel. He picked up a computer tower, ripping it from its various wires, and hurled it at Cassiel, who blocked it with her lance but was knocked off balance by its weight. During that time, he ran up close and swung his foot around in a wide arc, roundhouse kicking her in the side of the head and sending her crashing into a rack full of power tools. The battered angel gamely sat up in time to see him charging at her with his claws extended. She dropped her lance to grab his wrists with both hands, holding them back to prevent them from piercing her throat. He didn't stop charging even after she grappled him, pushing her back all the way until she was pinned against the wall. Freeman licked his teeth in anticipation, pushing even harder, but Cassiel's strength allowed her to hold him off. Suddenly, he reversed direction, pulling instead of pushing, and flung the angel again, sending her sprawling across the floor. She rolled to a stop on her hands and knees, but before she could get up, Freeman jumped and landed on her back with both feet, knocking her right back down to the floor. He cocked his arm back, getting ready to plunge his claws into her back, but her wings knocked him off of her just in time.

    Freeman fell backwards but then caught himself in a handstand before flipping himself back upright. His flexibility should have been impossible with a human anatomy, but he didn't even look uncomfortable when his limbs contorted like that. He laughed maniacally once again, watching as Cassiel slowly picked herself back up off the ground. "Fun! This is fun!" he cackled, walking back to the angel. He pretended to lunge at her, causing her to lift her arms in self-defense, then moved around behind her, kicking her down to the ground again. "Isn't this fun, deer? Why aren't you making any noises?" jeered Freeman. He grabbed the back of her head, gripping a handful of her silky hair in between his bony fingers, then shoved her face into the floor. Before she could wrench him off of her, he started running, still grinding Cassiel's face into the ground while using her as a plow to smash through various objects. He made a full track around the room, breaking through chairs, tables, computers, anything and everything. Her armor made scraping sounds against the tile floor as she was dragged around, until finally he picked her up and tossed her into the pile of debris that he had just created by using her head as a battering ram.

    Cassiel coughed in the dust that had been kicked up by her landing. She struggled to get up but the debris gave way underneath her, causing her to sink further. Meanwhile, Freeman walked over to where Cassiel had dropped her lance, and picked it up. He twirled it in his hands like a toy, then tried to snap it on his knee. Instead, there was a crack and he fell down, cursing. The lance didn't so much as bend, and he now had a nasty welt on his knee where he had tried to break it. He looked from the lance, to Cassiel buried in that pile of debris, and an idea suddenly came to him. With a grin, he limped over to the pile, still carrying the spear. He was holding it by the wrong end, so the blunt tip was pointed towards the angel. After raising it high, he swung it back down as hard as he could, striking Cassiel in the shoulder.

    While she had stayed silent until now, the impact of the lance on her shoulder caused her to grunt ever so slightly. Encouraged by her reaction, Freeman lifted the lance again and again, mercilessly beating the immobile angel and drawing gasps from her each time. "That's the spirit! Sing for me! Sing! Hahahaha!"

    Eli could feel the ground shaking and his heart breaking each time he had to listen to the awful crack of the lance against Cassiel's beaten body, accompanied by her helpless groans. Even if she changed her mind and fought back now, he doubted if she could defend herself anymore in this state. "Freeman!" Eli shouted, but he couldn't hear him. The boy walked a little closer, so that he could now see the state that Cassiel was in. A thin rivulet of blood flowed down from her forehead, and also her cheek. Her eyes were shut tightly, as if trying to block out the pain. Her armor, though intact, was dull compared to the flawless shine it had before. Eli looked away, not wanting to see something so beautiful being treated with such savagery. "Freeman, please stop! You don't have to be a lion anymore if you don't want to!" he pleaded, tugging on the man's arm as he lifted it to strike the angel yet again.

    Surprisingly, Freeman did stop. "Really?" he asked like he had heard some startling news for the first time. In a daze, he dropped the lance and it clattered to the floor. Eli held is breath, watching as he stumbled backwards like a drunkard, then simply walked away. Although Eli wanted nothing more to do with the man, he had to ask.

    "W-wait! Where are you going?"

    Freeman turned, his eyes still wide like he was in a trance. But then he blinked, and his expression was the same as when Eli first met him. "To go hunt the new deer, of course," he said matter-of-factly, disappearing up the staircase.

    The answer left Eli still more confused. "What new--" But before he could finish his sentence, there was an ear-splitting crash from outside, followed by an earthquake so powerful that he fell backwards, right onto his butt. The furniture rattled all around him, and fragments of the ceiling started to come crashing down. Unable to walk due to the shaking, Eli was forced to crawl towards Cassiel, but a chunk of ceiling came down right in front of him. Soon, more blocks of cement were falling, forcing him to duck and dodge out of the way. The debris began to pile up, and out of the corner of his eye he saw a huge piece of concrete fall down where Cassiel had been lying.

    "No! Cassiel! Cassiel!" he cried out desperately, but his voice was drowned out by the rumbling of the steadily collapsing building. He half-expected the angel's warm, reassuring voice to tell him that everything was okay, but there was nothing, only the cold reality that his guardian angel was no longer with him. With tears streaking down his dirty face, Eli weaved his way between the fallen debris and ran up the stairs, emerging onto the first floor and exiting through the door that Cassiel had once shown him. He wheezed and coughed and cried as he sucked down the cold air, while the building collapsed no more than a few meters behind him.

    Blinded by tears, he failed to see the two figures in front of him. One of them was Freeman. The other was not.
     
  5. Raden

    Raden Club Regular Ryonani Teamster

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    And you didn't originally want to post this? You're insane. This is terrific.
     
  6. Weiss Ritter

    Weiss Ritter Avid Affiliate Ryonani Teamster

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    Everyone's encouragement gives me power! Here is the third, but not last, chapter. It looks like the thing that I had originally planning is going to be longer than I thought it was, so I'm separating it into chapters three and four. Also, I'm going to be away on a trip so I won't be able to start on it until I get back in a few days.


    Chapter 3: Sunrise, Sunset

    The red-haired human stood face to face with a taller creature. His skin was black, leathery, and cracked in many places all over his muscular body, seeping out a glowing orange ooze. His eyes glowed a similar color, while a saurian tail and a pair of curved horns gave away his demonic nature, if it wasn't obvious already. Furthermore, he towered over Freeman, standing a good 7 or 8 feet off of the ground. His shape was humanoid, but he looked more like a walking volcano than a man.

    "There were reports of some maggots hiding in a hole somewhere. Looks like they were right after all. Look at you, crawling out of the dirt after I disturb your nest," said the demon. His voice was deep and gravelly, like two bricks being ground together.

    "If I'm a maggot, then you're meat. Hello, meat!" responded Freeman cheerfully, grinning from ear to ear. He then crouched down like a wild cat stalking its prey. "Mind if I have a taste?" he asked, licking his lips. Without waiting for a response, he launched himself at the demon, his body snapping like a tightly coiled spring that has just been released. His claws extended and he went straight for the demon's heart, only to be swatted aside by his huge hand. Freeman tumbled into the ground, somehow managing to land on his feet.

    "I'll say this once, maggot. My name is Ignus, General of Hell. I was just going to squash you and then go about my business, but I think I'll put you in your place first," growled the tall demon. Freeman didn't seem to pay attention, instead picking up some pieces of debris, one in each hand, and hurling them both at the demon before charging. Ignus didn't even flinch as both pieces shattered on impact against his body, exploding into puffs of dust. Meanwhile Freeman closed in, but the demon lifted his knee, driving it into his stomach so hard that the human was lifted into the air for a moment, before receiving a powerful right hook to the jaw that sent him crashing to the ground several meters away.

    Freeman didn't land on his feet this time. He stayed prone for a few seconds before peeling himself off of the ground. Once he was up, he popped his dislocated jaw back into place and giggled deliriously. "Heeheeheee... it doesn't even hurt, meat!" he cackled, even as a trickle of blood flowed from his busted lip. He looked up in time to see Ignus raising his fist, then driving it into the ground. The earth shook as it did upon his arrival, and cracks snaked its way towards Freeman like jagged lightning. He sidestepped the fissure easily, jeering. "Try again!" shouted Freeman, but then thick green gasses began to shoot out of the cracks, enveloping him in a noxious cloud. The fumes invaded his lungs, weakening him and causing him to cough uncontrollably even while they blinded him, burning his eyes. A horned and tailed silhouette appeared behind him, kicking him down and then stepping on his back, trapping his head near the fissure that was the source of the poison gas.

    "How does it taste, human?" taunted the General. "The realization that you can do nothing but wait for your impending demise? Does the icy grip of despair clutch at your chest?" Freeman could do nothing but shriek madly in between his fits of coughing. All the while, Eli was watching from a distance, having escaped Ignus's attention for now. He hadn't felt this helpless and small since before Cassiel showed up, and she was gone now. Soon, even Freeman would be gone too. Deranged psychopath though he was, he was still another human, and Eli felt a connection to him if only for that reason alone. Even after what he had done to Cassiel, without him Eli would once again be utterly alone.

    I don't want to be alone! he thought fiercely, closing his eyes and curling up in a fetal position. Please don't leave me all alone!

    Then it shall be so. A different voice entered his thoughts, shaking him from his panic. A voice which reminded him of the cozy fireplace on Christmas eve, a voice which seemed to make all of the bad things fade away like a dream. He knew this voice.

    A bright beam of blazing golden light burst from the ruins of the underground complex behind him, streaking through the darkening sky and catching Ignus in the back, causing him to stumble forward and release Freeman. The choking human crawled out of the green clouds and collapsed, wheezing. "Who dares to interfere?!" boomed Ignus angrily, smoke rising from the spot on his back where he had been blasted. He looked toward the rubble, where the beam had originated. Standing there was the figure of a woman with feathered wings, the setting sun at her back, wreathing her in a halo of fiery red light. Eli had to squint to see her, although he already knew who it was.

    "Cassiel!" he shouted, tears of joy welling up in his eyes. Although she still sustained some small scratches and bruises, she looked as regal as when he first met her.

    "I promised to protect you, didn't I?" she said, smiling at her charge. She knelt down beside him and wiped away his tears.

    "But... is it really you? I thought you were... I thought you had..." he trailed off, afraid to even speak of something so terrible. As if to quell his doubt, she reached out and embraced him in her arms. Her hair, though a little dirtied, tickled his neck. He could feel her warmth, smell the scent of her hair, and he knew that she was no illusion.

    "Fear not, Eli. It would take much worse than that to permanently fell one of my kind," she reassured him.

    "Impossible! An angel, here on Earth?" exclaimed Ignus, reeling in trepidation.

    Cassiel finally let go of the boy, and stood up. All of the feelings of warmth and kindness she had been exuding now vanished, and she gazed right back at the demon with eyes full of righteous anger. "O General of Hell! Your reign of chaos ends here!" she announced, pointing her lance at him. Without taking her eyes off of him, she spoke to the boy standing beside her. "Eli. This will be a difficult battle, and I cannot guarantee your safety if you stay here. I would like you to please take that man and get as far away as possible."

    "But--"
    "Please, it will make it easier for me," Cassiel insisted sternly. She had never spoken in this tone of voice before, much less requested for him to run away or even implied that she would ever have the slightest difficulty in defending him. As if listening to his thoughts, she turned around and smiled at him briefly. "Do not worry for me. I will do everything in my power to keep my promise. Now, go." She gently nudged him behind her, and he did as he was told, though reluctantly at first. When he was gone, she turned back to the demon, who was bristling with anger at having been ignored for so long.

    "You fool! It matters not where that boy goes. Once I have destroyed you, I will- GAHHH!" he was cut off by yet another blast of light, which caused him to stumble backwards. More beams kept peppering the demon, who put up his arms to block them. Using the beams as suppression fire, Cassiel flew in and tackled the demon head-on, sending both of them rolling to the ground. The angel ended up on top, and she raised her lance to stab the demon through the chest, only to have the demon grab it and then use it as a handle to fling her off of him. She landed a short distance away and scrambled quickly to her feet, while the demon stomped on the ground as he got up as well. Another crack traveled from where his foot touched the ground, splitting open the earth underneath Cassiel's feet. Once more, poisonous gasses spewed out from the fissure, but she flew up in the air and used her powerful wings to send a gust of wind at Ignus, blowing the gasses toward him. Blinded by his own attack, he furiously swiped at thin air while Cassiel flew over him. Closing her eyes in concentration, she then fired a massive beam from her lance directly down at him, instantly enveloping the hapless demon in a wide stream of burning light. He screamed as he felt his skin peel away from the light so intense that it could been from miles away. Only after several seconds did the beam dissipate. Smoke ascended from the crater which had formed where the demon had formerly been, obscuring Cassiel's vision. She hovered a bit lower in order to see through the smoke, then suddenly felt a powerful grip around her right ankle, nearly crushing it through her armor. She tried to break free, but was yanked down into the smoke cloud and slammed straight into the ground. Ignus loomed over her, the magma-like liquid oozing underneath his skin. Presumably those were his wounds from Cassiel's final attack, but he looked more angry than injured. With both fists locked together, Ignus raised his arms overhead and swung them down with earth-shattering force into Cassiel's stomach. She gasped in pain, her slender body being driven deeper into the crater.

    Before he could smash her again, she thrust her lance upwards at the demon's face, stabbing him through the eye. Orange liquid spilled out of it, sizzling and hardening into rock when it hit the ground. Ignus clutched his eye and emitted a deafening roar while Cassiel pulled herself out of the crater, still clutching her stomach. Despite her supernatural resilence, Ignus had knocked the wind out of her and she found herself gasping for breath. Meanwhile, the demon growled, glaring at his injured adversary through his one good eye. "So this is the power that an angel wields, is it? It seems that in order to break you I will have to fight to my fullest. Then, so be it!" With that, the earth began to shake again, until a mound of rock shot out of the ground in front of the demonic general. The mound opened up in the middle, revealing bubbling hot lava inside. Ignus then reached into the miniature volcano, and slowly pulled out a huge warhammer, still glowing red from the heat of the lava. Like Cassiel's lance, it had ornate patterns all over it: magical runes written in demonic tongue. The angel took a cautious step backwards, while Ignus immediately ran toward her with his signature weapon still glowing in his hands. She lifted her own weapon to block, and Ignus ignored it, swinging the hammer straight at her. The two magical weapons collided, reverberating with a harsh clang and emitting a shockwave at the point of impact. In the next second, Cassiel shot backwards through the air, only stopped by the electric fence which surrounded the compound. She cried out as electricity coursed through her entire body while she desperately tried to untangle herself. She had only just managed to rip the last of the mesh fence off of herself when Ignus was standing in front of her again. By the time she was free, he had already swung the hammer again, this time catching her upside the jaw with all the force of a bullet train and sending her flying into the air. Before she even began falling, he jumped up above her and then intercepted her mid-flight with a downward hammer swing.

    "Unghh!" she grunted as she crashed straight through a watch tower before hitting the ground. She was then hit by a shower of splinters and iron fragments, the remnants of the destroyed watch tower crashing down around her. For a while, she lay there on her side, unmoving and covered in debris. The power of the demon's hammer was overwhelming, but for the sake of her promise with Eli, she was determined not to lose. She picked herself up in time to see Ignus using his poison gas fissure trick again. Her wings were sore from the beating but she willed herself to fly anyway, dodging the jets of poison gas that shot out of the ground from her feet. She planned on beating her wings to blow the gas back towards the demon again, but this time he had a different idea. As soon as the gasses emerged from the cracks, he swung his hammer, slinging a ball of demonic flame in Cassiel's general direction. Before she knew what was happening, the fire ignited the gas clouds, resulting in a series of thundering explosions from all around her. The devastating explosions tossed her battered body around every which way like a rag doll, with no reprieve and no way to escape. Even her cries of pain were swallowed up by the chain explosions. Finally they subsided, and she was allowed to fall to the ground one last time. Smoke rose from her burned form as she lay prone on the ground.

    Ignus watched in satisfaction as he walked towards the defeated angel. Her once fair skin was caked in black ash, and some of her clothes had been burned up in the fires, leaving her thighs enticingly bare. He loomed over her, watching her breastplate rise and fall with her ragged breathing. Even in suffering, she was beautiful, and Ignus hated her as he hated all things beautiful and innocent. Grinning, he knelt down and mounted the angel who, upon realizing this, struggled in vain to push him off. His rough hands gripped her delicate wrists, pinning them on the ground beside her as he leaned his face in close to hers. Ignus stuck out his orange tongue and ran it down the helpless angel's face, reaching down to her neck, leaving behind a thick film of glassy liquid which left a stinging sensation against her skin. Cassiel tried not to moan, but it escaped her lips anyway. The demon chuckled at her reaction, then leaned in and planted his dry lips on hers, stealing a kiss. He then forcefully inserted his tongue into her mouth, invading her throat and choking her with his acidic saliva.

    "Mmmphmmmhkgrgkk!" gagged the distressed angel. Ignus pulled back and licked his lips, grinning.

    "That was just a taste of things to come," he chuckled, placing his palm on Cassiel's chest. "Things are about to get much, much worse for you, my little angel." His hand turned red and the air shimmered as intense heat poured out from his palm, turning the angel's armor red as well.

    "Uuugh... nnngh..." Cassiel gritted her teeth as the heat around her chest rose to unbearable heights, but the demon didn't stop. Her armor got hotter and hotter until finally she could stand it no more. "Aaaaaaaaah! Nnngh! Gahhhh!" she screamed as her armor began to melt underneath the heat. Ignus smiled, gripping tightly and forcefully molding the armor to the contour of the angel's chest. He gave one final squeeze, then tore the armor right off of her, uncovering a pair of generously proportioned breasts which had previously been encased by the metal breastplate. He continued this with her shoulder armor, arm guards, and shin guards, tossing out the warped and shorn metal behind him like trash, until the only thing protecting the angel anymore was the thin layer of dark blue fabric which clung tightly to her skin from perspiration. Ignus leaned back, examining his handiwork with satisfaction. Cassiel looked so much more vulnerable now, lying trapped beneath him without her armor protecting her. In that moment when he believed that his foe was now completely helpless, she jerked her knee upwards, driving it hard into the demon's groin. He shrieked and rolled off of her, clutching his injured privates, while Cassiel doggedly crawled onto her hands and knees, groaning from the effort. By the time Ignus recovered, she was also on her feet, although she was trembling and only able to stand by using her lance as a walking stick.

    "Ha! Do you really intend to continue fighting?" sneered the demon, looking down at the battered angel. She was hardly recognizable as the shining warrioress she had once been. Blood trickled from her forehead, forcing her left eye shut. Her armor had been torn off of her and her clothes had holes in several places from the burns. Yet the look of sheer determination in her eyes remained. Even after everything she suffered, her fighting spirit had not diminished in the slightest. With a burst of renewed vigor, she charged the demon, thrusting her lance at him. He growled and swatted the lance out of the way, but that wouldn't stop her. She balled her fist, concentrating holy energy around it and delivering a punch at the monstrous demon, who easily caught her fist with his open hand. He scowled at her, feeling the energy burn his palm, and suddenly tightened his grip on her fist, crushing her slender fingers. Cassiel bit back a gasp as pain shot up her arm, but continued attacking by smashing her forehead into the demon's face. Ignus roared, clutching his broken nose with one hand and backhanding Cassiel with the other. The already weakened angel fell to the ground again, but Ignus clutched a handful of her long, golden hair and cruelly yanked her back upright. "You'll pay for that!" he shouted, grabbing her by the throat and lifting her up with one hand. She dangled helplessly in his grip, prying at his fingers with her one good hand, while kicking her feet against his broad chest. His chokehold got tighter and tighter, slowly and painfully crushing the angel's windpipe as she thrashed her feet against him in a vain effort to free herself. Even as death approached her, she did not stop struggling, and that was the last thing that Ignus saw before four curved claws erupted from his chest.

    "Nice to see you again, meat."

    Freeman gave his claws a little twist before pulling them out of the demonic general's back. He licked the demon's orange blood off of his fingers and grinned. "Spicy!" Ignus looked down at the hole in his chest, speechless, before releasing Cassiel. She fell in a heap on the ground, and he soon followed.

    "Cassiel!" Eli ran to his broken guardian angel, supporting her head in his tiny lap. "Cassiel, oh Cassiel, what happened to you?" he asked, pressing his forehead to hers and sobbing. Her eyes fluttered open and, seeing Eli, she smiled drowsily. She couldn't speak, so she just placed her unbroken hand on his head, running her fingers through his hair, and then wiping away his tears as she had done many times before.

    Meanwhile, Freeman was having a reunion of his own. "How does it taste, meat?" he said over the twitching body of Ignus. "The realization that you can do nothing but wait for your impending demise? Does the icy blah blah blah blah I'm going to kill you now." He then tore into the demon's body with messy abandon, leaving behind only a vaguely demon-shaped mess of bright orange gore. When he was done, he stood up, holding up a horn that he had ripped off of the demon's head. Next, he turned to Cassiel. "As for you, deer..." he said menacingly, standing over her. "You get to live today. Isn't that nice?" He smiled down at her, looking almost friendly if it weren't for the fact that he was baring so many of his teeth.

    Eli brightened up. "Freeman, does that mean you don't have to... add her to your collection anymore?" he asked hopefully. The blood-soaked man only shrugged, but that was good enough for the boy. It was about as straightforward an answer as he expected to get out of him anyway. "So... what now?"

    Freeman looked in the direction of the collapsed compound building. "I gotta go start my collection from scratch," he said regretfully. "Wanna come?" He waited a beat, then added, "Deer can come too."

    The boy laughed. Despite being a murderous freak, Freeman could be really easy to read sometimes. His supposedly non-chalant invitation sounded so hopeful, like a puppy standing at the door, hoping to be taken on a walk. Whatever it was, Eli was happy to finally meet someone even vaguely resembling a friend. In this ruined world, he could not afford to be picky.

    "Yeah. We'll come."

    * * *

    New York City was a wasteland. Where the horizon was once shaped by skyscrapers, now it was flat as far as the eye could see, littered with broken pieces of concrete. Amidst the depressing and monotonous scenery, one landmark stood out: a huge obsidian throne placed squarely in the middle of nowhere. In front of it, a tiny shadow appeared, which grew, and kept growing until it was the size of an adult human. It kneeled in front of the throne, shaking.

    "My Queen, I have urgent news. It seems that General Ignus... has been slain."
    There was a silence that lasted seemingly forever, until it was finally broken by a smooth, androgynous voice. "Iiiinteresting. I think I might just have to see this for myself."
    "But, my Queen, that is overkill. I can arrange to have her taken care of right away!"
    The androgynous voice dropped down to a low, threatening drawl. "Are you questioning me?"
    "No!" came the immediate, terrified reply.
    "Good boy. Anyway, I've been bored lately. I think a bit of exercise might do me some good. It's been a while since I last got to kill an angel."
     
  7. Raden

    Raden Club Regular Ryonani Teamster

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    I find myself hoping Cassiel doesn't end up dead. This is incredible stuff, Weiss.