Title: As Swift As the Wind
Disclaimer: I don't own Flame of Recca so don't sue me…
Chapter Dedication: Fuuko-san, Ranka, hyper_shark, kh@y, bishounen lovah, Kurei, goddess of the wind, Aeris
She couldn't shut them out. Even if she closed her eyes, covered her ears, and held her breath.
The sight of people slashed to death crowds her vision whether her eyes are open or closed. The screams of terror that sent chills to her very soul were there inside her head. And even the stench of flesh and blood that made her bile rise to her throat was impossible to shut out.
Why couldn't she do anything about it? Why? Doesn't she control her own self anymore? Why was all this being shown to her anyway?
"Don't kill me!" The nobleman begged. "Have mercy!"
She stood there, multi-colored eyes empty as she looked down at the man groveling at her feet. Her angelic face betrayed no emotion. Moments later, she turned away. The nobleman smiled inwardly at the error she had done. But when he stood up, she turned sharply and slit his throat with a dagger studded in precious gems.
Blood oozed out of his slit throat and he was dying slowly from the cut on his neck. He staggered back and fell to the hard stone flooring of his castle.
"You may have forgotten that I was raised by warriors but have the power class ability of nobles like you," she said coolly. "Therefore I have much to my advantage. I will not kill you yet. But I do give you my word that you'll die painfully for participating in the order of the slaughter."
She walked towards him and looked at him with empty yet strangely piercing eyes. A wicked half-smile played at her red, soft lips as she pulled his hair back effectively yanking his head backwards and making the blood ooze out more.
"Don't worry for now. You're still an immortal as I have not yet extracted your soul stone. I had just impaired your healing capabilities through the dagger. But your blood will last long enough for you to see what I have in store for you and your family."
The nobleman struggled and reached out to grab at her waist and pull himself up. But his hands could not tolerate the fire it had received the moment it was within two inches away from her body.
"Do not even dream of being able to retaliate. You may be an immortal noble of Darkness, but you cannot exceed me," she remarked.
"Princess, I will finish him off for you if you wish," a raven-haired beauty said.
"No, Dark Star. We must continue with the plans," she said as she shoved him away and turned to her beautiful general. "Soon enough, the King will realize that I will carry out the threat he feared most."
"Princess," a male voice interrupted.
The multi-color eyed princess turned to her newly arrived general. "Nexus, I assume that the other generals are through with their tasks."
"Yes," he answered. "They will be here moments later."
And soon, a gorgeous pair of male and female appeared with guards dragging the nobleman's wife and two sons, and two more noblemen.
"Princess, we are here." They chorused.
"We brought you a gift, Highness." The beautiful red headed girl informed as she motioned to the two noblemen. "The army had noblemen leading them."
The princess smiled without humor. "Phoenix, I assume that the army is now no more but a scattered pile of corpses." She looked at the redhead steadily.
"And Twilight, I assume that you and your army have razed the nearby camps." She turned to the redhead's companion.
"Very well. Now shall we start the torture on your family?" The princess asked as she turned to the nobleman with a slit-opened throat. "Or shall we begin the tortures you inflicted to my people on your two friends here?"
Fuuko vomited again and again. She couldn't get rid of everything. The tortures, the pain – everything. It was as if she was really there when it all happened, wherever it happened.
She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She looked tired, scared, and most of all, familiar. Why? Why does she look so familiar in a way that sent shivers down her spine? She stared at herself, every angle, and detail taken into her mind.
Just then, it dawned into her. It was her eyes that made her remember the multi-colored eye goddess who was called Rhapsody. Her purple eyes had become multi-colored just like Rhapsody's and just like the angel's.
The angel – where was she? Was she locked within? Was she, Fuuko Kirisawa, once again locking up the angel who was the Essence?
"Where are you?" Fuuko whispered with tears in her eyes. "Please tell me what really is going on."
She walked away from the bathroom and laid in her bed, afraid of staying awake and yet, afraid of falling asleep at the same time.
"Fuuko," a gently melodic voice called forth.
She opened her eyes and found herself staring into the multi-colored eyes of the angel, the Essence within her. She soon discovered that her head was rested on the angel's lap and that they were by the sea during one time nearing sunset.
"It's you," Fuuko whispered, immediately feeling safe and at ease.
"It's been quite a time, Fuuko. I am glad you remember me still."
"I won't forget."
"Then perhaps you would not forget the fact that I am the one who brought you Pain."
"Why did you do that anyway?"
"I did not mean to do so. I am drawn to you."
"Because you are yourself."
"Who am I? I was no one to begin with. How am I able to draw a being such as you?"
"You are yourself. A mask you have adopted may have become you, but the one who holds the mask is the true self."
"I don't understand. What is my true self?"
"Yours is the heart of one who loves, yours is the mind of one who is altruistic, and yours is the soul of one who is enduring. Your true self is these three. That is why you have let the mask of so long ago consume you. You have believed you are no one and yet how can the mask exist if the foundation is not present? Yours is the persona who fought back Misery through the goodness of a fire. Yours is the belief that if you cannot have what you desire it does not mean others can not have theirs. I am drawn to one who believes what I believe in."
"I can't be that perfect."
"But you are not for perfection is only a state of mind. An object becomes perfect for one but is not so for another. How does that come to pass? It is so because one makes the object perfect in his mind's eye."
"Then my suffering comes from myself all along?"
"The answer to that is both yes and no. Suffering comes from everything. It is only the self who deciphers what is suffering for himself. But know that as the intensity of the flames of a furnace helps a blacksmith forge the paramount blade, so does the scorching suffering of destitution cleanse the essence of one to radiance. Do not fear the shadows lurking behind, for it only tells of a nearing gateway where light seeps through."
"But I do not understand why I alone suffer this way."
"No one suffers alone, Fuuko. There is such a thing as silent suffering, but one is never alone. Others might not have felt the pain you feel, but that is because they might have felt something more. Everyone is different and that makes one unique. You must not expect others to live your life or for you to live theirs. Therefore, you must not look at others and compare them to ones' self because in doing so, one digs the grave for himself through jealousy and enmity."
"If we don't compare, how can we know if we're doing well?"
"Comparison is good if it results to inspiration. However, for most beings, comparison leads to envy and soon, they end up hating what they will never have but want with all that they are. You must realize, Fuuko, that everything is done by one self. You chose what you are, not others. Is comparison a must when one decides what is best for himself? Is comparison a must when one has another standard from others?"
"So it's not. But why do I see things that I don't even know if it existed or not? Why do I suffer with something I have nothing to do with?"
"Not all things are as they are in reality. Perhaps you need to look between what are and what are not to see the hidden message that they are trying to show you."
Fuuko fell silent and soon remembered something. "You look like Rhapsody, the one who caused all pain."
"Perhaps I am she."
"You can't be her! She's evil and you are not."
"You may never know unless you venture to find out. Look closely and see what is not readily seen. But be wary of the conclusion you will draw. Either emotion clouds the thought or the thought clouds the emotion. Learn how to balance, for with harmony can everything be existent."
Amethyst closed his eyes tightly. He felt himself wanting so much to go home and be beside Fuuko. But at the same time, he wanted to find Meia. Her disappearance might have been because of a mission – a suicide mission or else, he wouldn't be looking for the Essence as of the moment.
But why had the Council of Light sent her off to a suicide mission if they would be looking for her Essence afterwards? He would question them if he can, but he would be breaking the promise he made her so long, long ago. That he would fight by her side.
"Where could you be, Meia?" He whispered unconsciously as he looked at the amulet with the royal crest he held in his hand. "I wish I could keep you forever, but you always did leave me."
Locke clenched her fist from far away. She could hear his whisper for it came from his very soul. "Why do you love her fiercely then if she always left you?" She asked bitterly before turning away.
"Are you sure we should read it?" Ganko asked uncertainly. "I mean, what if Kagerou-san finds out that we touched the scroll?"
"She wouldn't if we scram now," Koganei replied. "But before we do that, we could just read an excerpt. Now let me see…"
"Can you actually understand those weird writings? They don't even look as if they're from Earth or something."
"Actually, I've seen this kind of writing before."
"This may sound weird but… in my dream."
"And how exactly did you learn to read it?"
"There was this blonde guy… he spoke to me about it but I can't really remember what he said. All I know was that it was about some writing. And he brought me to this scary fortress-castle and we went to some secret passage. Then, I saw a book. I couldn't remember how thick or big it was or what color it was of. I can just remember it had an eye."
"An eye. I don't know. But that's what I can remember. Then, he opened it and showed me a part of it."
"And I know then that I can read the thing."
"Yeah. I woke up and I know I can read things like this. But I dismissed it as a dream and since there wasn't any writing like this anywhere, I thought that maybe the dream was just a product of an over-active dream sequence."
Koganei's eyes suddenly widened and he read a part of the scripture in almost a whisper…
…And so it came to pass that Rhapsody, who was named after great joy, obliterated all in her path… And her name of which was loved and respected became feared and detested as the Bringer of Crimson Rain. Her reign was marked by Disorder, Dissension, Destruction, Death, and Doom. And for many years, the land bathed in blood and there was no cry heard but that of victory and of pain.
But there was a shining but brief moment in which the panic-stricken nobles joined together and vanquished the Bringer and her Minions, the Four Generals. The Bringer's Essence was said to have been sealed in a stone and cast away into another realm by an unknown hero.
The Bringer was believed to have a son, although some say that he was buried alongside the rotting skulls of which was known as the symbols of her triumph. Her four generals was said to have been scattered among the Four Directions of the land; the North, the South, the East, and the West. However, it was believed by many that they had perished along with the Bringer.
Seekers of the Essence of Rhapsody will find it through the portals of another dimension as the stone disappeared from one place to another to seek its body. But be wary of one foundation obscure. For once the wrath of the Bringer be set loose once again, everything will fall into…
"Kaoru, what's wrong?"
"Are you alright?"
"Kaoru, what's wrong with you?"
"Stop it! You're scaring me!"
A girl with multi-colored eyes.
Eyes of pure hatred glittered with satisfaction.
"Kagerou-san!! Help me!"
Falling luminous white feathers gradually became tainted black.
Soft, snow-like hands became stained in blood.
Multi-colored eyes turned to him amidst the turmoil.
"Please!!!! Someone help me!!!!"
Blood-stained hands reached out.
Come and join me…
Abruptly, eyelids fluttered open to reveal amethyst-like eyes. A thin sheet of perspiration covered his delicate skin. He dreamed of her; his Rhapsody, his life.
He rose from the bed and walked towards the patio of his room. He needed to clear his mind.
The three moons that hung above shone brightly, peacefully in the midst of the stars. The light illuminating him made him far more breath-taking, more ethereal. The passing wind moved and caressed the exposed skin of his torso and ruffled his hair.
Gripping the metal railing of the patio, he shut his eyes tightly for a time before moving back and holding the pendant of the necklace he wore.
"Sister, tell me where you are. I will help you," he whispered pleadingly.
The wind flew by and caressed him in a more comforting way. It seemed to feel his pain and wanted to offer the comfort it can give.
Amethyst… I will never leave you…
"But you did. You always did," he unconsciously whispered back to the voice of the past. "You always did love him more than me."
Locke spun around abruptly and looked with blazing eyes at her sister, Psyche. "What are you doing here?"
"Watching my little sister slice air to vent her anger."
"Why don't you forget him? He will never reciprocate what you feel."
"I said go away!"
"You will only hurt yourself even more if you continue this insanity of yours."
The blade of her sword rested in an instant on Psyche's unprotected neck. "I will not hesitate to hurt you."
"I know that. If you don't hesitate to hurt yourself, why should I expect you to hesitate on others? Go ahead. Slice my neck."
Locke's grip on her sword's hilt tightened and she pushed the blade more closely. "Leave me alone."
"You will never have him, Locke. Never. She will always have his heart. You must understand that she was and always will be the center of his world."
"Why do you know such things?!"
"I have fought by her side for a long time before you even became good enough to join me. She didn't tell me things but her heart spoke much. Haven't you seen the way she looks at her brother?"
"They-they a-are lo-lovers?"
Psyche laughed and pushed the sword's blade away from her neck. She drew her sword and rubbed her boots against the grass of the hill they were currently in. "Come, let's have a spar."
Before Locke could protest, she was forced to defend herself from the constant and persistent blows of her sister. She would have to ask Psyche some other time then.
"We have razed the entire region." Twilight stated emotionlessly as he sat down on the chair around a long table. "I also managed to execute all the nobles."
"I would have gladly done that had I been assigned to that place." Dark Star said venomously.
"So the Prince was there then?"
"Damn him! Why does he always interfere?!"
"Because he was ordered to," Phoenix interrupted as she strode inside the enormous room and sat on one of the chairs. "And he will continue to interfere unless we dispose of him."
Twilight laughed. "But of course we can't do that; unless of course we want the Head General to dispose of us personally."
"Why does she allow him to interfere?!" Dark Star snapped.
"They go a long way, Dark Star. A very long way," Nexus' voice intruded as he appeared by a chair. "Far longer than we have known the Head General herself."
"How do you know that?"
"I have moved within the circle of the Prince. The Head General had been his… favorite warrior and I had often wondered why. Then I discovered through Taurus that the Head General had been the playmate of the Prince."
"How can that be? The caste system does not allow such especially since the Head General had been known coming from the warrior class." Dark Star interrupted. "We were nobles but we moved in different circle of friends and still I never heard of such absurdity."
"That was because the King and Queen made sure that the matters be closed. You were aware of the fact that the Prince had been sent away from the capital when he was a child. I had learned that he had been sneaking away just to see her."
"And the Head General?" Phoenix asked.
"Always whipped and tortured." Twilight broke in as polished his dagger with a cloth. "The Prince had always been touchy on the matter. I think he had been blackmailed into leaving the capital and the Head General by the Queen."
"Blackmailed?" The red-headed general asked with a raised brow.
"I think the deal had been centered on the Head General's life. The Prince stops seeing her, she lives. The Queen might have thought it the best way to make him forget. But he didn't. He keeps on talking about her."
"We have thought that he had been far too much attracted to such a low ranking creature," said Nexus. "The Head General, I suppose, returns his affection. But they chose different sides as we all did. And that will always be the fact that would determine whether or not we succeed."
"So, it is clear then. We must convince the Head General to withdraw her affections. Then, we could move in to destroy the Prince unless you two have an objection to that." Dark Star voiced out, eyes alternately traveling from Nexus to Twilight. "The two of you were the Prince's friends."
"Friends, true enough. However, our principles are more important. Our loyalty is with the Head General and not with the Prince." Twilight announced firmly.
"So how do we convince the Head General to hate the Prince?" Phoenix asked suddenly.
"Have you seen Rhapsody?" A child's soft voice broke through the tense atmosphere. "I can't seem to find her."
The four generals turned towards the massive doors to find the child Rhapsody had so cherished. His blue-black hair glinted against the dim light of the torches and candles.
"Fuuko," Mikagami's voice broke through her hazy mind.
She opened her eyes and stared at her comrade. His face hid nothing of the concern he felt and she wondered what was wrong with her now.
"You're burning hot. I think I may need to bring you to a hospital."
"No, I'm alright. Just… leave."
She suddenly had this nauseating twist in her stomach. Her vision doubled and her head felt like it was going to explode from the throbbing pain it suddenly was invaded with. Her body stung at every inch and she was once more thrown to the place she feared most to go to.
Dead bodies scattered everywhere. The nearby river flowed with red liquid from the bodies of the people who used to inhabit the land.
She walked aimlessly, stumbling once in a while at mutilated corpses. She was almost growing accustomed to seeing all the dead bodies that were sliced, to smelling the foul stench of rotting bodies and of Death itself, to feeling the wet feel of blood and the cold feel of the air and the corpses, and to tasting the coppery taste of the very air she breaths either from her nose or from her mouth.
From the still air around her, the war had obviously been over for a time. And as she walked further and further, she discovered that the place had been razed. But what she wasn't prepared of showed up.
She had been used to seeing limbs and headless bodies of soldiers, mages, and nobles. But they were all men. The only women she had seen dead where inside a castle and they were the noblewomen of the region.
But now, in this village, she had stumbled across the bodies of women and of children – all cruelly disfigured. And there were even babies – cut in half vertically.
A wave of nausea swept her entire being at the inhumanity of it all. How could anyone do such a thing?
Author's Note: Sorry for the long slack. I'm really so sorry. No, I didn't have WBS (Writers' Block Syndrome) but I had lesser time on this. Besides, I was thinking of ways how to reduce the gross parts and to make them seem less detailed. The last ones that were detailed were already revised and it was still a bit gross when some of my friends here read them. So it took me this long to make a far less detailed after-war and war scenes.
Moving on, I know there is still much too questions that are arising and don't worry, everything will gradually be answered as the story progresses. To Aeris who asked for more Amethyst, probably in the next chapter coz I need to establish something in this chapter. I hope that this chapter is alright and can pass the mark 75. I would entertain questions and suggestions on the story so please feel free to rant on me or even e-mail me at email@example.com
Comments on characters would be GREATLY appreciated. I know they are too off-tangent and the new characters are way too… whatever you would like to refer to them. Anyhow, ending the already long rant, I would like to dedicate this chapter to the reviewers. Thank you so much for the support. To everyone, please read and review. Have a nice day/night. Thank you once again. ^^