Chapter One: The Weeping Willow

Chapter One: The Weeping Willow

A Chapter by RedRozeNinja13

*Megan Azalea*

March 21st was the day of Aura’s 19th birthday.

March 25th was the day of the funeral of her partner and trainee, Kurai Darknight.

The day my partner and I, Link Michaels, learned of his death was in all actuality the same day it happened, or at the very least- the very next morning after that fateful night. March 22nd. The day even the sun seemed so dark…

We woke that morning (or I guess you would say night? We only come out during night hours, so we call roughly 7pm to 10pm “morning”, any time before that is considered just too early) to a loud ruckus at our neighbor’s, and my without a doubt best friend’s, apartment. Somebody was banging on a door super-duper loud and it was so obnoxious it was almost downright impossible to go back to sleep (not that we didn’t still try…). Normally I would think nothing of it, considering Kurai and Aura have more than their share of early morning brawls, which almost never include some level of volume control. (Not that I can really talk when it comes to volume control…) But this time was different. There wasn’t the usual shouting back and forth, or the odd crash as Aura lost her temper and chucked something at her trainee’s head. There wasn’t the usually comical banter between the two as they argued over something neither would probably remember within the next hour or so, nor the quieting down as the two came to realize how ridiculous they sounded and reached a truce. One thing you should know- Aura won’t argue with you unless she cares about you. Not the best way to show affection, I know, but hey- at least she takes the time to register your opinion on something. If she didn’t care about you, she wouldn’t even listen to what you had to say. She would just tell you you were wrong and walk away, sometimes leaving you with bodily harm if you try and question her. So, if Aura only argued with you if she cared about you- there must’ve been a whole lot of caring going on in her relationship with Kurai.

But like I said before people, this time was different. Way different. Well- not so different that a complete stranger like you would be able to tell something was off, but for a Slayer like me, who was trained to know when something was wrong or off to the slightest degree (not that I’m exactly the best at that, but I feel like we should establish a judgement-free environment here…), there were a lot of red flags.

First off, whereas their usual scuffle would vary in loudness as well as sounds, this was just one sound, and it was at a constant and annoying volume. Banging. Only banging. Very very loud banging.

Secondly, there were odd breaks in the sound- it would stop for maybe two seconds and then pick right back up again. This just simply wouldn’t happen with one of their usual fights- those odd seconds would be full of vile comebacks and sounds of somebody getting knee-ed in a private area.

Thirdly, there weren’t even any voices at all. No yelling. Nothing. It was like somebody just took a hammer and decided to pound on a wall or something. Which could have been possible, if Aura was deciding to “redecorate” again. But I didn’t see her waking up at 5pm on a Tuesday to do that.

“Link, go see what those two are doing…” I swat my arm behind me to wake my sleeping trainee, and adorable (and smart!) boyfriend (Shhhh! Aura isn’t allowed to know! I think her head would explode if she found out about our relationship…). My arm winds up smacking him in the face and I get a nasally sounding ‘Ow!’ in response.

“Sorry….” I sleepily apologize, snuggling back up against my pillow as he grudgingly gets out of bed to resolve the bothersome situation. His feet shuffle across the carpet as he makes his way to the door. When he opens it, I can hear the surprise in his voice.

“Marianne? What on earth are you doing here?” So that was the source of the early morning annoyance. Marianne, Kurai’s plastic girlfriend and Aura’s loathed nemesis. Marianne just couldn’t help picking fun at Aura’s “handicap”, or anything else about her for that matter. So Aura didn’t hold back what she thought about her either. And let me tell you, a lot of the time Aura won those fights- she wasn’t afraid to play dirty, which included but wasn’t limited to including references to Marianne’s nose and b**b job in the past three years.

Reluctantly, I get up and trudge my way to the door. The chances of getting back to sleep were pretty slim now anyway. That was when I realized something was really wrong. Like, really really.

First off, Miss Marianne, half gorgon and the daughter of some ‘mafia leader’ (Aura decided it must be some foreign job), always looks picture perfect. Almost plastic, even. Too perfect to be real- which matched the ruggedly handsome facade of Kurai Darknight so perfectly. She had hair that was probably really brown, but had been dyed a champagne blonde that glistened even in the moonlight, always perfectly straight or styled in some way I couldn’t even fathom. Her skin was always perfect, as was her makeup, making her lips a soft pink and her eyes so bold and smoky you couldn’t help but look at them- all with the help of layers and layers of eyeliner, mascara, and eyeshadow. She had always just seemed so….fake. Which is why Aura hated her, and personally? I didn’t really hold any astounding fondness for the girl either. I would like to say Kurai was a good judge of character, considering he was Link’s best friend and all, but when I looked at Marianne- sometimes I thought he was just as shallow as she was, to be dating a girl like that.

But like I said, that morning- everything was different. So different, really, that you could almost feel it in the air. Like a premonition of what was to come. It was...eerie. Even for people like us. On that day….Marianne didn’t look picture perfect, in fact, she looked positively dreadful.

Her hair was frazzled and looked like she had just crawled out of bed. On top of that, there wasn’t even a trace of makeup on her face. And it was actually kind of scary, seeing this beauty queen without any of her high class make-up, because she looked washed out, like a sheet. A ghost even. Without the creams and powders, all of her flaws were really exposed- the sort that she had always pointed out about Aura. Her skin was pale, revealing its usual sunkissed tone was likely the effect of a good spray-on tan, her nose had an odd crook in it, her lips were slightly too large for the rest of her face, her eyelashes were actually very short instead of long and luscious, and she had a weird scar on her collarbone that she undoubtedly covered with foundation on any other day. But even with all of these flaws to be seen, that wasn’t the first thing that I noticed.

There were tears. Lots of them. Her eyes were red and the flood of salty droplets showed no signs of ceasing. If I had to, I probably would’ve labeled her somewhere in the ‘Hysterical’ region of sanity. She was still wearing a wrinkled nightgown- so I could only assume she literally had just gotten out of bed and then ran here.

“Where is she?!” She shrieks, and I flinch slightly at the sudden shrill tone.

“If you’re talking about Aurora, I don’t think she’s home.” Link says softly, trying to comfort the obviously distraught young woman. “If she was, she would’ve come out and strangled you by now for making such a loud racket on her door on a Saturday morning.” This was very true. Aura wasn’t known for her patience when it came to things she found annoying.

“She has to be here!!” Marianne shouts at him. I tell you what, I was about to punch this girl in the face with a blender if she kept yelling at my sweetheart like that. But Link kept his cool, as he always does (probably one of the most sane people you would ever find in this realm, actually…), and continued to speak to her in a soothing tone.

“And why does she have to be here…? Come on now, Marianne. There isn’t any reason to yell like this. Just talk to us. Calm down….” The flustered and hysterical bottle-blonde took a deep shaky breath and slowly unclenched one of her white-knuckled fists, she held it out to Link, revealing a balled up piece of paper. Link gingerly took the object from her and smoothed out as many of the wrinkles as he could.

“She has to be here...because she has to tell me….that there was a mistake….that it isn’t true…” She chokes out as Link and I lean over to read the words on the paper, printed in a very business-like script. “Because it….it just can’t be true….” She pleads with us as though we can change the words on the page. And as we both read the first few lines- we understand completely. We understand why Marianne looks so terrible, why she is crying so much, and why she is demanding to see Aura.

‘Dear Miss Julius,

It is with our deepest regrets that we at the Office of Guardian Injuries and Death Ordinance, must inform you that your beloved, Kurai J. Darknight, was pronounced dead today, March 22nd, at the early hour of 4:06am. You were listed on his contact form as one of three people to contact in the instance of such a tragedy.’

It’s almost like the world stops for a moment. Like everything could just float off into space as gravity seemed to just...give up. The print seems cold and dark, malicious as the information it contains. This letter….what is written on it….it changes so much…

I could see Link’s fingers clench tighter than I have ever seen them before. I place a hand on his shoulder to steady him, and partly even myself. I don’t know what could be crossing his head right now...after all- his best friend...dead?

“It has to be a mistake.” Link hisses out between grit teeth, after what feels like an eternity of agonizing silence. My heart aches as though something from the inside is trying to tear it open. Link and Kurai had been friends just about as long as Aura and I had, since childhood. I just...I can’t imagine the sort of pain- losing Aura would be like losing a sister….And here, Link has lost a brother…

I shake my head slightly, any well trained Slayer would know that the Office of Guardian Injuries and Death Ordinance doesn’t send out these letters unless the person is absolutely and without a doubt, dead. And the OGIDO has never made a mistake in all of its existence, never sent out a letter with the wrong name on it, or to the wrong person, or, as applies to this case- sent out letters when the person was not, in fact, deceased. I know Link is grasping at straws, trying to cling to some hope, but...there isn’t. If this letter is here, with his name on it...then Kurai is dead.

“Sweetie, No….” I squeeze his shoulder lightly. “The Office just doesn’t make mistakes like that...he really is….” I can’t even bring myself to say the word to him, not aloud.

“No! There….There has to be!!” He slaps my hand off of his shoulder and looks at me with this….with this look in his eyes that I have never seen before. His chocolate brown eyes are looking at me like….like they are abhorred- like I am some sort of monster, like….like he wants to hurt me worse than anything else in the world…. “You said she was the best of the best!! You said she would protect him- that she would make sure he survived!!” He chokes, his own tears working up his throat. “You lied!!! She….she got him killed! Didn’t she?! She was supposed to make him strong...help him fight and live….not- not kill him!! She’s nothing but a second-rate murderer!! And you lied to me, Megan! You promised me he would be safe!!”

Blow after blow, my heart feels like it’s been shoved through a paper shredder ten times over. I never imagined it could hurt this much….but then- I never imagined Link could ever say such horrible things...let alone to me…. I know he is hurt, looking for someone to blame for this terrible loss- and honestly, Aura would be the obvious scapegoat. But you can’t blame somebody else for your own actions. If Kurai had died...it had to of been because he didn’t listen to Aura, or because he slipped up on his own...It just had to be. Because Aura couldn’t….Aura couldn’t have killed Kurai. She….she loved him. Maybe she didn’t realize it yet- but I did. I could see the die-hard resolution in her eyes whenever they were training, the way she pushed him further than was necessary of a trainer, the way she would throw aside logic and good sense, the two things she has always lived by- just to protect him, to save him,... the way he could make her laugh….the way she always looked at him when he wasn’t looking…..

“You’re wrong!” I shout at the two of them, both staring at me as though I am the culprit. “Aura couldn’t, and wouldn’t, have killed him! She cared about him! So you guys have it all wrong!! I know you’re upset and hurt right now- but blaming Aura isn’t the way to go about this! When something bad happens….you can’t just blame somebody because you want there to be someone you can make hurt as much as you are! That isn’t how the world works! And it isn’t right either! I know you miss him but….We all know...we all learned a long time ago….that sometimes good people die...and I know it isn’t fair...I know it hurts but...it happens…” I trail off, my eyes getting so misty it was almost hard to see.

“If she isn’t guilty- why isn’t she here?” They both snap. I huff up my chest defiantly and walk towards the door, knocking curtly.

“Aura! Open up!”

There isn’t any answer.

“Now!”

Still nothing.

“I’m warning you….”

Not so much as a peep.

“That’s it!” I kick the door in and storm into the apartment, a whirling hurricane of emotion and hurt. But...something was wrong. As I ran through the apartment it was...too still. That was the only way to describe it. There wasn’t even a whisper of movement, a single stirring of life.

The fireplace was cold, evening cloaks weren’t hooked up on the rack near the door, shoes weren’t in their usual place- stripped at the door and placed aside so you wouldn’t track dirt inside, but most noticeable of all perhaps- the beds were still made perfectly, not even slept in or sat on. Aura always made her bed, but Kurai? He really only made his when company was coming over, or they were going someplace. But even so, Aura would leave some trace- like the way she always maintained the calendar religiously- they had the old fashioned kind with a small page for each day, or the weird way she hated tuesdays- so much she would rip them out of the month and had this weird shaman voodoo doll thingy she would put out every. Single. Tuesday.

Today was Tuesday.

The doll wasn’t out.

“She isn’t home….” A great sinking feeling seeps into my chest, like lead weights are tying me down. I know Aura….I know she would have done anything to protect Kurai so….what if ….what if she’s dead too? She can’t be….Aura can’t be dead- No, I didn’t get a letter. She isn’t...She couldn’t be...stuff like that...just didn’t happen. Not to Aura….Aura was strong, she was smart, she was quick. People like her don’t get killed...they die old…

If anyone would have survived this crazy messed up world-

It would have been her...without a doubt…

“Then where is sh-” Link stops, finally seeming to understand what I am feeling, what I am thinking, through his grief clouded mind.

“Both of them?” He asks softly. I don’t say a word. What can I say? My heart is telling me she cannot be dead, but my mind…..the evidence is right in front of me. Here it is, Tuesday, Aura’s freaky charm doll isn’t out, and the day on the calendar is still Monday, March 21st. Eerily enough, if you flipped the page of that calendar, it would skip right to Wednesday, March 23rd. According to that calendar- today shouldn’t even exist... I wish it didn’t either…

“Megan…..I’m sorry I-”

“You were upset. I don’t blame you.” I try to smile, but it hurts too much. It hurts too much to be happy. How can I be happy when my sister at heart could be…..I can’t, no- I just can’t say it. Because she isn’t.

“I just...I don’t believe he’s gone. He can be somewhere else but...not gone, you know? I mean….we’ve seen it Megan. We’ve seen people die….neighbors...teachers….villagers...fellow trainees and trainers….and we’ve never seen them again but-....none of those times ever felt like this.” He has to push his long messy bangs out of his face as his eyes water, his face twisted up in sheer agony as he tries to choke the tears down- trying to be brave...for me.

“It’ll….it’ll be alright. We’ll be alright.” Who will I do early Saturday morning yoga with now…?

“Are you sure you're ok, Megan…?” Who will I talk to about everything I could never say to Link, who will be there to be sturdy and reasonable for me even when I’m a hysteric mess…?

“I just…..” Who will listen to me….Who will understand me now…Understand the beast inside of me that nobody else could?

“Megan…” He wraps me up in his arms like a security blanket. It feels so strange right now. His arms are so warm, so inviting and I just feel so...cold. For the first time in my life I feel cold. Frozen. Frigid. Numb. I am part fire witch...I am not supposed to ever feel like this but….It’s almost like somebody has tied chains to my feet and is drowning me in a pool full of nothing but ice. I know that the shivers that start to rack my body aren’t from any sort of temperature change outside or even inside- the ice is inside of me, inside of my head- trying to keep me from breaking myself into a million tiny pieces.

“Megan, you said it yourself, we’ll be alright...we just have to keep going...We have to do what they would have wanted and keep going…” That’s how it is in this world. You keep moving, or you die. Sometimes even a fate worse than death. Sometimes you stop, you look back- and you have to watch the ones you cared about as they die. There’s just one solution for all of this- you don’t stop. You don’t look back. Even as they scream and cry out in agony behind you- you don’t look back. Because looking back is far worse than moving forward, you can never unsee what you have already experienced. I learned this. We all learned this- I guess sometimes we just don’t want to believe it.

People get hurt.

You keep moving.

You get hurt.

You keep moving.

You can’t even see where you’re going anymore.

You keep moving.

People around you die.

Just keep moving.

Aura was right. Getting close to people makes you vulnerable, it makes it harder to keep going sometimes. But she failed to see that sometimes those other people make it easier too. When you get hurt, they help you back up. When you can’t see anymore- they take your hand to guide you. The only hard part comes when they leave you- because then….how do you keep moving without them? How do I keep going without her?! There will never be another Aurora Nightingale! So how do I just keep walking when the one who helped me when I was hurt, who guided me when I was lost- how do I keep walking without her?!

I can imagine what she would say to me right now, in fact. And that only makes it hurt more.

‘Stop being such a wuss, Megan. Do what you were always meant to do. You can’t let things like this stop you. The strong don’t stop because they get hurt. The strong prevail because they can see beyond the pain. It doesn’t mean they care any less, it doesn’t mean the pain you feel isn’t real. But you have to be strong now. Be strong and prevail. You keep your chin up and fight as hard as you can for both of us now. And I’ll be waiting right here for you when it’s all over...’

Oh god...Aura may have come off as cruel- but they didn’t know her like I did...Aura was like my sister, she was so much more than just my best friend. She was...a part of me. Aura was cold to a lot of people, so very cold but...not to me. She saw something in me...something she wanted to protect, she wanted to be a part of. Just like Kurai…

“I’m alright. It will all be alright.” I manage to say into his chest. A bigger lie has never been spoken….how could things ever be alright ever again...how would I ever be alright, ever be complete, after this….

Things will never be ok. Not ever again.

* * *

That day was agonizing. No letter came, and I was only aware that I was alive from the stabbing pain in my chest as I stared at my favorite picture of Aura and I- one where we were twelve, we had just slayed our first demon ever together. I was beaming like an idiot as we stood in front of the Academy. It’s my favorite because it’s one of the few pictures in which you can see the small hint of what could be a smile on Aura’s face. She had started smiling a lot more in recent years (taking into account how scarcely she smiled before at least), I think Kurai had a lot to do with it.

March 22nd passed with little to disrupt our grief, the silence next door just a cruel reminder of what we knew had happened to Kurai, and could only assume had happened to Aura. We both bolted upright at the slightest sound that night- the smallest creak, the tiniest shuffle or bark, as though it would really be the sound of them both returning, safe and well. Of course, it never was….

So you can imagine our surprise when we woke up March 23rd to a letter slid under our door. My heart sunk like a stone dropped off the face of a cliff- because I knew what it had to be. It had to be the Office of Guardian Injuries and Death Ordinance finally getting around to sending out Aura’s letter….telling me what I didn’t want to believe but had already accepted...that she would never be coming back….

Link has to pick up the letter, because I have already crumpled onto the couch, hiding my face behind my rebellious red hair as I clench my hands in my lap and try to control my breathing.

“Megan…” I know she would want me to be brave, she would want me to look, to see it with my own eyes but…

As I glance up, it’s almost like a slap in the face. That is most certainly not a letter from OGIDO, it has the formal wax seal of Lord Death stamped on the bottom. I scramble to my feet and look at it with Link, resting my chin on his shoulder as we read.

Dear Link and Megan,

It would honor me greatly if you would attend the funeral ceremony for a certain Kurai J. Darknight, to be held at my estate- The Throat of the World, in the gardens, on March 25th, at midnight. Please do arrive on time and do not feed the gargoyles.

Thank You, and Hoping to See You Soon,

And then there was the wax seal below the last line.

I’m so confused. Lord Death wrote us a letter...to invite us to a funeral...in his palace...and something about not feeding gargoyles? I would almost think it was some terrible prank- if there weren’t his official seal on it. Which is incredibly illegal to forge.

“Lord Death is...holding the funeral ceremony?” Link asks. I’m a little insulted. I mean, personal feelings aside, Kurai was just another Hunter. Not even a Slayer. Why does he get such an incredible honor?

“This has to be a joke…” Link starts to shake his head.

“Not with that seal it isn’t….” I squeeze his shoulder. As strange as it was- it was true. For whatever reason, a ruler who had not so much as spoken to his people in years, was now holding a funeral for one of them- and was cordially inviting us. We couldn’t just say no, but I was sure as hell going to have a lot of questions when we got there...

* * *

March 25th. 11:00pm. The sky is dumping rain down as though the land had years of drought to make up for. Link and I are dressed in formal black attire- or at least, as formal as we possess. We weren’t exactly sure if what we were wearing was “My Lord” material…. Clenched in Link’s fist is our bouquet...made up of Vietellam daisies and an assortment of herbs and spices that looked nice enough to pass off as actual flowers. Hey- our choices were kind of limited in finding some flowers that wouldn’t bite, scratch, or secrete venom in this realm… But it sure as heck did make me hungry for some italian food….

Link looked quite nice, his white dress shirt and black dress pants looking very snazzy with the pocket watch he keeps tucked away, the golden chain to it however, is still exposed. I wore a fairly loose black dress, short sleeves, a skirt that drifted in the wind and ended just above my knees, with black tights underneath. As we started to make the trek towards the Throat of the World (or at least up the levitating stepping stone path) however, things started to get messy.

The stones were slippery, precariously so, and without the shelter of trees and buildings to take the brunt of the rain- we got utterly soaked. Link was looking more like a drenched mutt with all of the dripping hair in his eyes rather than an actual person. And I probably wasn’t looking the most fabulous either…

We almost fell several times, but managed to make it to the top, where a cloaked figure wrapped in chains was waiting for us. He silently held out an umbrella, which we huddled under quickly- as though it would change how soaked we already were. It was silent, other than the roaring of the rain as it poured down like angry bullets of course, as we trudged down to the graveyard gardens of The Throat of the World. The heavy rain had turned the otherwise gorgeously eerie gardens of the palace into more of a muddy swamp. The famous willow tree, which legend says has stood ever since the day Lord Death vanquished his evil brother Grim, is quite the sight to behold. It is one of the few trees in Muortum that won’t, you know, bash your face in. It is one of the Vietellam trees, that was taken from said mortal world and planted here as just a seedling. My mother used to tell Christopher and I  the story of the weeping willow, back when he was still alive. It was one of our favorite stories- maybe because the good guys won, or because the magical tree sounded so beautiful we simply couldn’t help but love to hear of it. I can still remember her voice as she tucked the two of us in, nice and tight and oh so warm, right next to one another. She would look down at us with her warm hazel eyes and her voice would start to tell the story over the comforting crackle of the fire in the hearth. I don’t think she ever had to open a storybook to tell it, she knew it so well….And it always started the same way, as all stories do….

‘Once upon a time, there was an evil and cruel leader. His name was King Grim. Once the land of Muortum was not so dark and scary, but that was before his reign. We all know the balance of our worlds- but this man cared not for balance. He cared only for power. He saw the sangmêlé he ruled over as far better, and far more deserving than the mortals in the world below. So he, and the subjects he ruled over with the iron grip of fear, terrorized the humans. He had us torture them, frighten them- kill them! We did as he ordered out of fear- and the mortals retaliated, also out of fear.

It was a terrible bloodbath- they were terrified of us, so they tried to eradicate us. This made us angry- so we also tried to eradicate them. And suddenly, it came to the realization of the people of Muortum, or at least to a good few of them- that the deeds we were performing, that the horrible things we were doing- that they were turning us evil, inside as well as on the outside. And while our leader may have been sinister- we most certainly were not! One of these few people who came to such a realization was none other than the young Lord Death, the younger brother to King Grim. He tried to reason with his brother- but so far gone in his madness was he that he would not hear a word of it!

The Young Lord Death could see how his people were suffering, how they were living in fear and slowly turning into something that they were not, and so he did the only thing that he knew he could. He, and the other few who could see the evil seeping into the good hearts of the sangmêlé, challenged the sinister king and his generals of oppression! It was a great battle, that raged on for many days and many nights. Water poured down from the clouds in such torrents that it drowned many of the mortals and sangmêlé alike that lie below. And when the smoke and rain cleared, the victor emerged- none other than the just and righteous Lord Death! Few had survived the wreckage of the great battle, and not even a single soul of those who had charged into battle alongside him. But our lord kept a brave face. He rebuilt his kingdom, and in the honor of all who had died and particularly those who had died fighting with him to silence the evil king, he planted a willow tree sapling. Taken from the mortal world below. He planted it in his garden, in a great spot of honor. Now- all thought this tree would crumble and die, such a normal average tree, now in a world with no sun, with cloud soil and sometimes harmful magic.

But to their surprise- it did not.

The mortal tree grew strong. And, legend tells, it even received some magical powers. No longer a simple tree from the mortal world- it became a strange plant, imbued with the magic that lives in the realm of Muortum. Those who have visited the tree say that it has leaves that show the night sky of the mortal world, stars and all, they say that you can hear the humming of life when you stand below its canopy and the wind blows through them, and even more so- they say the willow can predict the next great battle, or the death or misfortune of a great warrior. They say blood will drip from its leaves and pool on the ground below. Some say this is the work of the souls who died to save Muortum, warning them, trying to help them in the little way they can. Others say this magical tree is a life all of its own, that this tree cries tears of blood all on its own, mourning the souls as they fade away- even the ones nobody else will miss….and so this is the tale of the Great Weeping Willow….’

For the longest time, that was all it was. A story. A memory. I never thought I would get to see the Weeping Willow with my own eyes, since the palace was already shut off to the outside world by the time I was six years old. But I look at it now- and I still manage to feel enchanted, breathless even, as I gaze upon it.

“The story is true…” I say quietly, stepping towards the large tree. Its leaves truly are the color of a mortal sky, a deep midnight blue, with twinkling little lights- stars, dotted all over them. As I come close, I can see a shooting star dart across the miniature canvases. The leaves clink almost like glass when they touch one another, but when I touch them they feel tender, fleshy, one might even say waxy, sort of like the skin of an apple.

“You will come to find many legends of Muortum are in fact, completely true…” Lord Death says in a rather cryptic way. I do not know how I am supposed to speak with him- do I speak with honor as I was always trained? But I was invited for a funeral- do I greet him as a fellow in mourning?

“My mother used to tell me the story of this tree almost every night…” I say mindlessly, having to tear my eyes away from the tree and look over my shoulder at the rather imposing figure.

“I see, is she….deceased?” He asks politely. His voice is smooth, somewhat warm. It is a voice with authority but not so imposing you do not feel allowed to speak. This is the voice of a great leader and yet it sounds to me almost...broken. Defeated.

“No…” I purse my lips into a thin line. Unlike most slayers, my parents were still alive. Not that they wanted anything to do with me now.

“I apologize. I seem to have struck a nerve.” I pull my hand back from touching the leaves and jump slightly, there is the tinge of red blood before the heavy rain washes it away. The willow was weeping….for who? Kurai? Was Kurai actually a great warrior….?

“Why are you...holding his funeral?” I manage to choke out as I try to wipe away the image of blood on my fingers, turning back towards the cloaked figure. For what feels like a long while, there is only the sound of the pounding rain.

“A long time ago….I made a horrible mistake.” He finally speaks. His strong voice wavers slightly. “A terrible, terrible mistake….Years ago...disaster struck this home... My wife, and my son...they were both killed.”

“We are terribly sorry, my lord…” Link’s voice would have been soft, had he not had to shout to be heard above the rain.

“Do not pity me...I have done many horrible things...One of them being that I….I sent away my young daughter after the incident, and erased her memory...I wanted her to become strong but- I robbed her of the life she deserved….”

“You had a daughter?”

“Oh yes...A wonderful, sweet daughter...And certainly, she did become strong as I wanted but also….lacking something vital, something I took from her, denied her….You may know her as a certain Aura Nightingale, but her true name is Aurora Isadola Cromwell.” Bam. I can’t breathe. I mean- It does make a lot of sense, the reason Aura can’t remember several years of her life, the reason she seems to have a strength that is absolutely insane even for a Slayer, the way even the most stubborn of people feel obligated to listen when she speaks, the way she feels so compelled to protect mortals and citizens of Muortum alike- it isn’t just because she’s a great Slayer. It’s because it’s in her blood. Aura was born...to lead. She is the child of the most godly immortal that has ever lived! And she is… a princess? I can’t even imagine Aura saying the word princess, let alone being one. It’s insane to even think of it and yet-....here he is, Lord Death, admitting it himself…. My best friend is… the heir to the Muortum throne. It’s crazy….

“I hurt her so badly by sending her away...and so now that one so precious to her has died I just...I can’t leave her alone again. I cannot simply pretend it didn’t happen and wipe her memory again. She truly cared about this young man, I could tell...and she is so horribly hurt...It is the least I can do to give him the honor of being buried alongside the best Muortum has ever had to offer, in the graveyard gardens...It is the least I can do- for the young man who seemed to do what I could not, who could make her feel….complete. Who gave her such purpose…” I wipe my eyes, a war between relief and grief raging inside of my chest. The way he speaks- Aurora is alive. She is...still here. She is not yet lost to me. But Kurai...he is. If Lord Death says that Kurai is gone….then he most certainly is.

I look up to see the hole in the ground where we will apparently be burying his remains. And I notice- it is far too small for a body. Or at least, for an entire one. Good god….what happened?.... There is a new headstone, which stands out against the weathered and aged stones that make up the rest of the garden. It is polished and clean cut- and it reads, ‘Kurai J. Darknight’ in big letters, ‘What an idiot he was.’ is printed beneath that, and below that, in such small letters you almost can’t read them, ‘May he rest in peace’. Aura must have helped with the inscription- because I highly doubt any other person would insult a person on their own headstone.

“Where is she…?” I ask timidly. I have to see her. I have to know that she is alright.

“She should be down any minute….she has not been….very well lately, I am afraid.” I notice he turns his head towards the tower, where I can see not a single light is on. Was Aura up there…? I can’t even imagine what she must be feeling…

Say what you will- but she loved him.

She loved him so much that she couldn’t even understand that’s what it was she was feeling anymore….



© 2014 RedRozeNinja13


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Wow. This chapter is stunning. I love seeing more of Megan, as I have such a soft spot for her. Link is awesome too.

It's very nice how you just hit us in the face with the fact of who Aura is. Even I wasn't expecting that one.

Write the next one faster?

Posted 6 Years Ago



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Added on October 27, 2014
Last Updated on October 27, 2014
Tags: fantasy, supernatural, monsters, demons, darkness, violence, slayer, hunter, romance, drama


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RedRozeNinja13
RedRozeNinja13

Columbia, SC



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A Chapter by RedRozeNinja13


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A Chapter by RedRozeNinja13