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Low droning chants fill a watchful spire far from the imaginations of common men where the nobility of Okabe gather. They sit in their stilted chairs, dressed in the most expensive of suits, ever vigilant and omnipotent, in their own minds. The young high priestess, Lady Kyo rests on her knees in a circle of candles. With a long brush she paints bloody signs and symbols about the checkered floor. Her cloak sails through a dull red haze of smokey incense as she sings a haunting croon.
Before on the ground is the body of a young girl. Her throat slit like a lamb as an ever-growing pool of blood flows onto the floor. Kyo drops her arms to her sides and takes a deep breath as the girl’s body pales. “How old is she?” Kyo thought to herself. Maybe old enough to be in middle school. Maybe. Sadly, her sacrifice was unheeded. Yet even so, it must be done to appease her masters. Though tonight, this girl would be the last of many useless killings. Kyo lowers her sights to peer back into the scarlet pool. “Tis I that have watched you in your perpetual slumber, I give you this in return, you stood at the edge of the door, yet paradise evades you, your high place, has been brought low, and now you have unlocked and opened the door, but ye found not a habitation, but instead you have given a home to every unclean being and so your nightmare shall begin, tonight you shall be cut free from your seduction, I shall do this favor for you alone and transcend where you have failed.”
“What is this?” Mitsura howls from his ceremonial throne. Normally this little act would have frightened Kyo, but tonight. It did little to nothing. She was no longer Kyo, but instead she was High Priestess. Her duty to the Okabe clan far outweighs the ones she had to her Lord. “Is this a joke? Lady Kyo, you violate our ritual with such blathering?”
At this Kyo stands. A brazen courage wraps itself around her heart. “I have not, you had your chance but your Alchemy was given to a secret weakness. The order of the Okabe family requires swift action, new blood.”
The other men in cloaks draw their daggers like hounds awaiting orders from their master. There is no fear of their blades. If the scry is true, she would stand before the gates to the evermore and see the New World born from her own hands. As curiosity sits itself in Mistura, he raises his hand putting the cloaked men at ease. Lady Kyo rounds a glance at the other men, her expression hidden behind her mask. Returning her attention back to Mitsura she takes a deep audible breath. “All these sacrifices, for years you have performed these rituals without understanding. How many children like her have died, have you not seen the results?”
“The results.” Mitsura smirks. “I suppose with a mouth like that you know better? We do not see the spiritual world. We do and the world beyond responds.”
Mitsura’s eyes widen as Kyo takes a dagger from her own sleeve. Placing the cold steel to her palm she slices her palm clean open. Blood pours out from her wound like a fountain. She closes her hand forcing a stream to fall into the scarlet pool. It reflects like silver as it hits the ground. “You have never understood, my lord.”
“She has done it.” one noble applauds. The onlookers break into commotion as the room crane their necks to see the sight.
Mitsura grips the armrests of his throne jumping to his feet. “How is that possible?” he barks while the puddle of blood forms into a small stone. Bewilderment captivates the room. Kyo looks up from the pool gazing out over the others. “I have received a vision. The time here has dwindled, what should have been complete, you have failed to do, because of your ignorance the nobility of Okabe has forgotten the greater work.”
“You are just a child, you dare speak to your elders this way. Kyo do you think a parlor trick like this impresses us. This is not an Azoth either. Look at that stone, it is hardly complete.” Mitsura snidely remarks.
“You would be correct. The time has come to create the new world. That was my call was it not? That is what I shall do. We cannot remain here any longer. The long night is coming and with it an endless nightmare. We have seen the birthing pains of the end. Oblivion has seeped through. If we do not finish the greater work, all is lost. I have seen you Lord Mitsura feasting on the bones of your children. All of us will be forced to eat the flesh of the dead; until we too join them. The moon will rise and never set again. We shall be robbed of the light and everything will be removed from its place. I refuse to follow the plans of disaster you have set forth. I know the way to the new world. This Azoth is not complete because it still hungers for what we have forgotten.” Lady Kyo holds out her hand beckoning Lord Mitsura into the circle. “I shall show you.”
Mitsura’s reluctant steps echo through the silent room. Kyo grabs his hand and helps him over the dead girl leading him to stand in the pool. The stone below rattles as it drinks the meager portion of Kyo’s blood like a suckling babe. Moving in close, Kyo rests her head on Mitsuru’s shoulder, her warm breath washing on his earlobe. “We used to use, our children, that’s the secret.” a stinging pain enters Mitsuru’s stomach as Lady Kyo plunges her dagger deep into his gut. She carves an open chasm eviscerating his body. Blood sprays out of Mitsura as he grabs his side. His blood spills onto the floor from between his fingers. He stumbles back a step into two men who latch onto his arms. Gasping in agony Mitsura screams as he knows he is draining out. “Your lack of enthusiasm is troubling Mitsura. I thought you would be more pleased. See this is the first true Azoth since the old ones corrupted the elder stones.” Mitsura looks down to see the stone growing in size as his blood flows into the red orb.
Grabbing Mitsura’s hair, Kyo hoists his head up exposing his throat. Sweat pours from his red face as his mouth hangs agape. A low moan crawls out of his mouth. “It’s all in the nobility.” she chirps slicing a nasty laceration in his neck. As she releases Mitsura’s head it falls to his chest. Kyo raises her arms looking back to the rest of the nobility singing “Our great work has begun!” With her hands still in the air, she walks out of the circle of candles dancing over the floor spinning like a ballerina. Each step she takes leaves a bloody footprint across the black-and-white tiles. The last thing Mitsura hears between his wet gasps is the sound of his cohorts clapping their hands giving a standing ovation for Kyo’s performance.
The white-haired man appears to be half dragon, his head crowned by a pair of horns and eyes like a serpent’s. He slashes a long spear like sword at another red-haired man who blocks the attack with a large blue cross shield. The red-haired knight jumps into the air slashing at the horned attacker only to meet the grip of the dragon man against his sword mid air tearing. With a roar the dragon man wretches the sword from his hands and knocks him onto the ground. As a powerful hack, he slices the mighty knight through the middle depleting his life bar. “Falaris Wins!” smashes onto the screen written in shining golden letters.
“Ha, I won!” Apricot shouts raising her controller into the air. Sweet sweet victory.
Jasper growls under his breath kicking his feet up onto the couch. His face falling into a frown. “Of course you won. You picked Falaris.” Folding his arms together he looks down at the floor. “He is like a million times better than Brigeld. That is the only reason you won.”
“Want a rematch?” Jasper looks up to Apricots smiling face. He faintly smiles himself, giving a slow tiny nod. Playing games is always fun when both players have emotion Apricot thought to herself. That satisfied feeling of winning when both players are trying hard wells deep in her heart. If truth be told, Jasper is her favorite person to compete against. He had pride but never went too over the top.
“Alright, well this time I will pick, that moonstone guy.” Apricot says hovering her cursor over a man in red armor.
“Well, if you are going to pick a Drakr,“ Jasper grins moving his cursor over a big black dragon. “I will pick Valis!” he shouts starting the match.
Apricot get’s wide eyes. The screen turns black displaying a loading screen. “You picked the dragon! How am I going to win?” Jasper sticks out his tongue. “Fine, fine, I will still win and wipe that stupid smile off your face even with you playing with a dragon.”
Several matches had occurred between the two, each of them winning a fair bit. “You know Apricot, you should find a husband.” Jasper suggests.
Apricot nearly drops her controller at the random statement. “What!?” she laughs to cover up her embracement.
“Yeah cause like, you are in danger a lot.” Jasper comments while mashing buttons.
Apricot chuckles even though she knows he is right. However no husband could save her from this kind of danger. “I have not found the right guy yet.” In that moment deep sadness comes over Apricot. She has not found the right guy, and she never will. Not until this nightmare which encroached her life is over, and who knows if that is even possible. The idea sits heavy on her mind.
“What about Sato?” Apricot’s face turns flush.
“Sato and me!” she shakes her head. “No way, that would never work.”
Jasper looks over to Apricot. “I don’t see why not? I mean you both are into journalism. He could go take the photos and you could write the articles. Plus, you two are really good friends right. I know you think he is cute too. I see the way you look at him. Including, you would be safe. You wouldn’t have to work at the supermarket anymore and you could stay home. It’s not safe out there for a girl anymore. Just let him take care of things.”
“You’re such a kid sometimes Jasper.”
“What!” Jasper shouts. “What do you mean by that?”
Apricot busts a gut laughing and continues playing the game. “He is concerned about me. That is kind of sweet.” Apricot thinks to herself.
“Where is Mom and Dad?” Jasper asks. Apricot looks up from her desk of papers and laptop.
“They’re on a date tonight.” she continues to type her grueling report on the duties of a state journalist. Ever boring subjects as ever, ones which really had nothing to do with journalism at all. Still the work needed to be done as an assurance to the state you understood when to shut up. Jasper stands in front of her door waiting for Apricot to invite him in. Instead, he tired of waiting and enters anyway. With a loud slam he jumps on top of Apricot’s bed. “Jasper!” she shouts.
“Don’t break my bed you little monster.” she barks.
He rolls onto his back snuggling up under her covers. “I’m not.”
Apricot continues to study her textbook “The role of media in civil society is to control the collective narrative and propel people in a positive direction. The advancement of,”
“Hey Apricot, do you think there will be more terrorist attacks?” Jasper asks.
Apricot puts her book down. That is a question on her mind too. “Terrorist attacks” are all the talk of the town now. Every single day it seems there is a new “attack”. All of which are pseudonym for paranormal activities. Yet the public is eating it up. “I hope not.”
“Was it scary?”
“Very,” Apricot lets out a sigh picking her book back up. “Jasper, I don’t have time to talk tonight. I got to finish this paper for school.” she says, half wanting to avoid the subject as she finally had those memories gently tucked aside. Hidden beneath a few layers of slumber and a bit of relaxing gaming.
“Yeah, I know but, can’t you do it later.”
“No Jasper. I played games with you earlier so now I have to finish my paper.”
“Well, can’t I stay here.”
Apricot groans before saying “Yeah but you got to be quiet.”
She picks up her book looking at what she last read. “So what is that book about?” Jasper says leaning over her shoulder.
“Out.” Apricot says with a finger pointed to her door.
“I was just asking what it was about!” Jasper wines.
“Out Jasper. It is past your bedtime, anyway. Go to your room.” Apricot commands.
Jasper jumps down off the bed running out of the door. “You are such a jerk,” he shouts.
Apricot walks over to her door and shuts it. Before she could make three steps to her seat, she hears a knocking at her door. She opens the door to look down at Jasper. “What do you want now?!”
“There is a dog in my room,” Jasper quakes, his eyes full of an almost convincing act of fear.
Apricot rolls her eyes. “You have been taking home stray dogs again.”
“No, but my window was open. I think it came in from the window.”
If she believed the act, his rouse was up with such a weak excuse as that. Apricot shakes her head. “On a two-story house. Do you really expect me to believe that? I don’t have time for this Jazz.” A dog coming through a window. How foolish did he think she was? It is almost insulting.
“No, I am not lying. There is a dog in my room. It’s black and has a lot of teeth and red eyes.” Jasper whines.
“Then go downstairs until it leaves,” Apricot says not believing anything her brother is saying.
“Apricot!” he shouts at her.
A wave of anger rushes over her as she grips both her fists. A roar follows that shivers Jasper to the bone. “Downstairs now, I don’t want you to bother me again Jasper or else when Mom and Dad get home I will tell them to ground you.”
“But Apricot!” Jasper cries.
“No! I have heard enough, now go downstairs and let me study.” Apricot stomps her foot once causing Jasper to hurry down the stairs.
She sits back down at her desk with her book in hand. It is not long into her study when she hears stirring in Jasper’s room. She smiles to herself. “Silly kid. Thought he could pull one over on me.” A few moments later she hears a loud crash come from his room. Apricot jumps to her feet stomping over towards Jaspers room yelling “What are you doing now?”
Jasper had turned off the lights. “Jasper stop messing around, I have to finish this report tonight!” she growls flicking the switch on to see Jasper’s shelf on the floor surrounded by the pieces of his models. The light flickers off and a sudden chill fills the room. “Phantom,” Apricot whispers to herself. She reaches beside the door and grabs Jasper’s baseball bat. Looking through the dark she spots several red eyes in the shadows. Clutching the bat in hand, Apricot raises it up to her side. “Just like softball,” Apricot murmurs to herself giving a slow swing. The memories of proper form come flooding back into mind. “Feint, perry, riposte.” Apricot whispers to herself.
As Apricot remembers her fencing technique from primary school, the creature makes a step towards her. It appears to be more like smoke than flesh as it moves through the shadowed room and the many red dots suggest it has many eyes about its head. Apricot can just make out its prowl across the room with the streetlight outside of Jasper’s window.
“Come on!” Apricot roars feeling herself grinding her teeth. Her fear being washed away by a rush of unspeakable anger. The wolf monster lunges at her opening its thousand razor teeth. Apricot dives into the creature slamming the bat in its mouth knocking several bloody teeth into the air. It lands on the ground behind her turning its head back to her. “It’s blocking my exit.” Apricot thinks to herself.
The monster stares at her baring its teeth as Apricot readies the bat for another blow. The creature once again lunges at her this time biting her in the arm. Apricot works the bottom of the bat and smashes the monster in the head causing its teeth to tear the sleeve of her shirt off. She does not have time to recover as the snarling beast dives into her again. Her bat mauls the creature in the head slamming it down to the ground. Rising to its feet it snaps at her only to be met with another swing that knocks the smokey creature into the wall. It stands up injured snarling at her.
Apricot grips the bat tight drawing back. “Get out of my house!” she screams jumping up slamming the bat as hard as she can onto the monster’s head. The beast crashes onto the floor as Apricot continues her flurry with the bat. Each blow causing smoke to flow out of the creature. It sparks like a blown circuit. When the flashing stops the lights turn back on, the creature nowhere to be seen as though extinguished into thin air.
She drops the bat onto the floor before falling on her knees. Sweat pours off her brow. She turns her head to see Jasper staring at her with wide eyes. “I told you there was a dog.” Apricot nods her eyes wide with fear. Jasper’s eyes are much the same. They face each other in silence for several moments.
“We can’t tell Mom or Dad.”
Jasper nods shaking, “Where did it go?”
“Out the window.” she groans. “Keep your window closed from now on. I will keep mine closed too.” She has been lying a lot more lately since all of this happened. A part of this made her feel guilty. However, it is better no one knew what is really going on. Especially little Jazz. He does not need these kinds of worries in his life.
Jasper looks around his room. Apricot can feel the frustration and worry from his frown. “What are we going to tell Mom and Dad?”
The room is an absolute mess, everything is scattered about; broken plastic and model pieces littered the floor. “We have to clean it up before they get home. They can’t know anything about this Jasper. They won’t believe us even if we did and you mister will get in trouble for bringing in a stray dog.”
“But I didn’t!” Jasper yells.
Apricot nods her head. “I know. If I told them it came in from your window, they will think I am covering for you. I might get in trouble too. So we clean up before they get home and forget this ever happened.”
Jasper looks over at Apricot’s arm noticing blood has seeped through her light orange shirt. “It bit you? Are you ok?”
Apricot glances at her arm not paying much mind. She looks back at Jasper putting on the best smile she could. “Yeah it got me when I was shooing it out. It’s not a big deal.” Her eyes drift back to her torn sleeve. The wound stung but was not as bad as she expected. The gash amounts to a dull throbbing pain at most she considers. Gazing around the room Apricot picks up a piece of Jasper’s model. “Come on let’s get this finished up.”
“But you have to study,” Jasper’s voice quivers.
Apricot reaches out grabbing Jasper’s wrist. She rubs his hand letting out a sigh. “That does not matter now.”
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