Black and White

Black and White

A Chapter by Aylex

Vicky awoke from her dreams; not suddenly, not slick with sweat, not with the final echoes of her scream reverberating in her ears, but with a familiar, albeit irritated, ease.

 

This particular dream first came to her several years ago. Although then it had recurred only every few months, she now faced the scene with the woman and the child close on every night. The most frustrating thing for her, however, was that she still did not know what it meant.

 

With a gentle sigh, Vicky slipped out from under the covers of her bed. Her toes tingled as they made contact with the cold stones of the floor. Moonlight danced through a nearby window and caressed her small, slender form as she padded across her room. Quietly, she pushed the door open – she knew from experience that she would not be able to fall asleep again.

 

The corridor that she travelled through was drab to say the least. Dust coated every surface, puffing around her bare feet as she walked. There were no decorations, no pictures or plants, only the absolute necessities: two walls, a floor, one window and a door at each end. Vicky trailed her fingers across the walls as she walked, her fingertips catching periodically on the holes left by an infestation of termites. Perhaps it was not the ideal home, but it was the only one she had.

 

As she passed into the adjoining room, her lips, almost as pale as the skin around them, pulled into a smile. She paused briefly beside a lone bench. Smothered snores emanated from a pile of blankets beneath which her guardian, Aylex, lay sleeping. Drawing the blankets away from her face, Vicky kissed her weathered cheek.


“Thank you for taking us in…” she murmured, before heading towards a wooden door in a corner of the room, as was her custom each night the dream haunted her.

 

A slight shiver rippled over Vicky’s body as she stepped into the chilled night, but she enjoyed the sensation, and she stood, eyes closed, as it ran its course.

“Can’t sleep either?” a voice called from across the courtyard. Vicky glanced up, and found herself blind. The moon lay hidden behind a few wandering clouds. The darkness was sludge to her, impossibly thick, never-ending, and she could not make anything out. Of course, she knew that he knew this too.

“Don’t start, Jesse,” she responded wearily. She was in no mood to put up with his antics.

“Hey, that’s right. Angels can’t see in the dark, can they?” Vicky pursed her lips. She could hear that smirk in his voice, infuriating in its complacency, and took a precarious step forward.

“Oh, watch out. I think you might hit something there.” His words flew at her from every direction. She could hear the sporadic thuds of his feet against the barren earth as, presumably, he leapt about the courtyard. He finally landed in front of her, his pointed teeth glinting white through his grin. “Boo.”

 

Vicky could not help but smile up at the towering figure. For all his childishness, Jesse was her only family now, aside, of course, from Aylex, who hardly counted anyway. As grateful as she was, how could she feel any connection with the aged woman who spent her days asleep on her bench? She rarely spoke or even moved, and Vicky had never seen her without blankets wrapped tightly around her body. Her hair was thin and grey, her skin wrinkled; the only parts of her that seemed alive were her eyes, which were the colour of the richest sunset.

“Ah, come on Vix, no reaction? Not even a little jump?” Jesse frowned, folding his arms. “I think I need to work on my technique.”

 

“Nah, you’re just getting predictable in your old age.” Vicky smiled as she watched his eyes narrow. They glowed sanguine in the darkness, the clearest indicator of his demonic nature.

“I’d be careful if I were you, young miss,” he teased. “You never know what’s lurking in the night.” He paused for a moment and then sighed, looking her in the eye. “In all seriousness though, Vix, you should watch out. I’ve heard that there was another attack in town. They still don’t know who it was.”

“I think I’ll be ok,” she responded, turning away. The thinnest stream of moonlight had pierced the clouds and now shone brilliantly in the gloom. She stepped towards it. Jesse stared after her with one eyebrow raised.

“Oh, you always manage to ruin my fun,” he complained, but Vicky merely smiled.

 

The thread of light arced towards her outstretched hand, becoming entangled in her fingers. She grasped it loosely and pulled, watching in fascination, as always, as her handful of light broke away from the original stem. Short wisps fell away from it as it rejoined, floating to the ground like the softest down feathers of a dove. Compressing the knotted thread into a ball, she turned to the demon in triumph, only to find that he had formed a ball of fire himself. He winked at her through a mask of black hair as he threw it around above his head.

“What? I could hardly let you have all the fun.”

Vicky only shook her head and began walking away from the house. “If we’re going to the market today, we should leave for the T-station now. You know how crowded it’ll get.” The latest innovation in the town of Traden, the teleportation-station, had become exceedingly popular. The fact that they had existed everywhere else for several years now seemed not to matter to the locals.

 

“Must we?” Jesse moaned. “Magicians are always so moody in the morning. Who knows where we’ll end up?”

 

“Stop being so disagreeable,” Vicky called over her shoulder. “Put all that energy to good use and start walking.”

She could hear him muttering grumpily, but she did not turn back. He was beside her a few moments later, tossing his fireball idly from hand to hand. It lit up his face each time it streaked past; each time his eyes flashed ice blue through the red, which only appeared in darkness. Her ball of light circled their heads in a lazy halo, illuminating their way.

 

***

 

From the trees, a figure watched as the angel and the demon began their journey. One gloved hand rested on a long, thin blade at his side. He paced forward, slow and deliberate, ensuring that he kept a good distance from the pair, though he was not concerned that they would spot him. After all, it had been several weeks that he had gone unnoticed by them.

 

Aten could not deny that he was amused by the fact that no one had discovered him yet. His ability to blend into the background was somewhat diminished by his appearance; he was tall and powerful, muscular, adorned in a thick maroon cloak with intricate patterning in black along its edges, which partially concealed his loose black pants and white shirt. His choice of weapon, a katana, only served to make him stick out more.

 

Twelve years was a long time to spend keeping watch over a person. Aten knew that. He also knew that few other people would be able to do it, and he took silent satisfaction from that. It required a dedication that not many people, human or otherwise, actually possessed these days. Most would have grown bored long ago, while he had not wavered. Each year over the past twelve years, on the same day each time, he had paid a visit to a certain reliable fortune-teller, who each year would relay the same news: nothing had changed; the girl was still carrying out a mundane existence. This year, though, things had been different, and Aten had quickly travelled to the town of Traden where she resided.

 

He had been forced to live in the forest over the past few weeks; he could not very well stay in the town – the risk of discovery was far too great. Yet, armed only with his katana and an intelligent mind, he had gotten by. There was no shortage of creatures living in the forest, and even though not all were truly edible (Aten could not suppress a cringe as he thought back to his first and only encounter with a young – and, apparently, heavily diseased – troll) he had soon become skilled at hunting suitable prey. There was a brook nearby, and he had fashioned himself a shelter of sorts beneath a colossal oak tree. True, it had not been particularly easy, but it was certainly doable.

 

Although many would suffer without human contact, he had not. He preferred solitude, having learnt at a young age that trust could rarely be well placed, and that building relationships and spending time with others was foolish. This belief had served him well – he had no obligations, no dependants, and no one save himself to please. And that, in a sense, was exactly what he was doing.

 

Of course, he had ample motivation for his actions. A wry smile crossed his otherwise impassive features. They had not asked it of him – indeed, they could not possibly have – but he owed it to them. They were the only exceptions to his lack of trust and belief in others; they had proven that there was still goodness in the world, rare though it may be. He would journey to the ends of every world in existence to repay them for their kindness if he had to. Aten was aware that this would make no difference to them now. After all, they had died many, many years ago. It was simply in his nature.

 

He turned his attention back to the angel and demon who were talking quietly to each other. She, the picture of a rebellious young adult – her hair, dirty blonde and untidy, was cut at the nape of her neck, and she wore an almost permanent scowl. He, a contradiction – his rather frail and weedy appearance belied the power that Aten knew was under his control. And, Aten noted with a chuckle, both were entirely oblivious to the chaos that would soon ensue.

 

“And so it begins.”



© 2009 Aylex


Author's Note

Aylex
I did indeed end up lengthening the chapter slightly. Yay! Not sure how I feel about it, so I'd love some other opinions. =]

My Review

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Featured Review

Ah, you've rewritten this quite a bit. As Crashbang said, it was described beautifully and formed images in my mind, just as a good story should. I really enjoyed reading this. Aaaand, I'm not just saying that because you're my friend and I love you. =P If you ever end up writing more, I'll be back to stalk you!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Ah, you've rewritten this quite a bit. As Crashbang said, it was described beautifully and formed images in my mind, just as a good story should. I really enjoyed reading this. Aaaand, I'm not just saying that because you're my friend and I love you. =P If you ever end up writing more, I'll be back to stalk you!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Its very, very good description - it hits all the right details, and has just the right pace. Perhaps I could say something about the varied 'she saids' in this first bit, but that is a stylistic issue and technically there is nothing wrong with what you have done at all.
If it is a first chapter then it's fine for it to be that short - it could easily be a prologue. But if you were going to expand it, i guess you have to tell us about this building where they are based.

Oh, and this.

'She could hear him muttering, but she knew he would never leave her alone � he was fiercely protective of her.'

Dont tell them this. Make them aware of it in the story itself. And especially don't make them aware of it yet.

Hope I helped.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on December 6, 2009
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Author

Aylex
Aylex

Johannesburg, South Africa



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Victrixia Victrixia

A Book by Aylex


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A Chapter by Aylex