"Yes?" Ardyn looked up from his desk to see the face of a nervous, pale, young man. He froze at the sight of him but relaxed when he quickly realized it was not who he thought it was. Dark haired, blue eyed, the visage before him was still one he found rather familiar.
Well, isn't that interesting, Ardyn thought to himself.
"Uh, hi," the dark-haired man awkwardly responded. He looked exhausted, dark bags beneath bloodshot blue eyes. "I was told you could help me… Please, could you help me?"
"And what, may I ask, did you require my aid for? And you could at least do me the honor of introducing yourself before making demands of me," Ardyn sighed at the lack of manners. He supposed he could forgive his guest, looking as frightened as he did.
"Oh, sorry. My name is Noctis," Noctis quickly amended.
"Noctis…?" Ardyn urged, curious of his family name. Would it be what he expected?
"Noctis Lucis Caelum," the young man confirmed Ardyn's guess.
Ardyn smiled, "it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Noctis. As you must know already, I am Ardyn Izunia. Now please tell me what has you so afraid?"
The young man swallowed, as if embarrassed. He mumbled something.
"You have to speak up. I did not even hear a word of that," Ardyn tutted. Children these days.
"I think someone is following me," the younger man said, louder this time.
"A stalker? Well, I believe the police would be better suited for such a thing? Why come to me?" Ardyn asked. He of course knew there was more to it but he enjoyed playing around, especially with people like this young man.
"Not a… Not a stalker. It's more of a something… A monster. It follows me. Sometimes it looks like me… But it doesn't look right. Before you ask, I know it's not my reflection. It always appears from the darkness. When not looking human, all I can make out is its bright golden eyes… And its teeth." Noctis shuddered at the memory of those long sharp teeth glinting from a non-human mouth from inside the darkness. "I swear it's around all the time even when I can't see it. I can almost feel it. It's been weeks. I can't sleep. I can't eat. I'm constantly terrified."
Looks like him? Ardyn already had a guess of what it might be. And who.
"No one else sees it," Noctis continued, "or maybe, it only ever lets me see it. I don't know what to do. I know I'm not crazy. I looked you up. They said you hunt monsters. Please. Help me," the boy looked so desperate. There were tears forming in his eyes.
"Well Noctis, you are in luck. I can in fact help and I believe I may even know what has been stalking you," Ardyn grinned, teeth flashing. This was going to be fun.
Get out and wait.
Noctis jumped in his seat when Ardyn's text arrived. He was easily startled thanks to his mounting fear and anxiety. He didn't know if this was a good idea but he had no choice. The man swallowed nervously and did as Ardyn ordered. He would trust him. The young man prayed he would be free of the creature that stalked him after this night.
Noctis opened his car door and stepped out into the light of the setting sun. He'd driven outside the city at Ardyn's behest and now stood In the center of a parking lot for an abandoned building. It was so decrepit that Noctis couldn't even recognize what it used to be. There were trees surrounding the parking lot on either side.
The amber eyed hunter said he was already here, lying in wait. Noctis's presence was required to lure the creature here where Ardyn promised to take care of everything for him.
Noctis had been given a gun, though Ardyn informed him it wouldn't do much against the creature they were soon to face. Ardyn cheerfully explained the creature was a Daemon, one that liked to feed off the fear of his victims before taking their soul. It collected them to make itself stronger, though it also had the capability to enslave it's victims as well. Even turn them into Daemons like itself if it so chose. Ardyn's explanation just caused Noctis's fear to intensify.
The dark-haired man took some deep breaths, in and out, trying to calm his nerves. He was going to be okay. Ardyn was highly rated and though his price was rather exorbitant, it would be worth it if he could get rid of the Daemon. Thankfully Noctis was not short on cash as his family was quite well off.
I'm going to be okay. Noctis repeated in his mind as he readied his gun and waited.
It didn't take long for Noctis to feel the creature that had been stalking him arrive. He shivered, feeling a dark and foreboding presence. This was what he felt most nights even if he didn't see the monster. He always knew when it was nearby. Ardyn said Daemons could hide their aura's as well but that this one may have chosen not to to heighten the fears of its victims.
The sun had set by now, his surroundings blanketed by darkness except for what his car's headlights illuminated. The night was so much darker outside of the city, though the stars were more visible. If Noctis wasn't in such a terrifying situation he might have taken the time to admire them. But he could not today. Though he knew Ardyn was nearby, he felt alone and helpless with the night surrounding him. The moon and stars brought him no comfort.
Noctis's breath hitched when he heard something move somewhere in the trees. There was the snap of a twig and the rustling of something moving through the undergrowth. It could have been an animal but Noctis knew it would not be.
Soon, something emerged from the treeline, making its way toward Noctis. It approached from the only spot the headlights of his car illuminated, as if wanting Noctis to see it. For the first time, the young man could clearly see what had been stalking him. He felt himself tremble at the sight.
The thing before him was some type of monster. It was on all fours, with dark bluish tinted carapace that looked almost armour-like. There were horns on either side of it's head and a long tail with more of the carapace-armour covering it. Its claws were long, sinking into the ground easily as it walked. It opened its maw and a row of large, sharp teeth were visible. It also had two membranous wings. It looked almost draconic in its features but much more like a monster than any typical dragon.
Panicking, Noctis swiftly raised his gun and fired. He knew how to shoot and hoped his fear wouldn't cause him to miss.
The Daemon stumbled back, hissing as a bullet embedded itself into its unarmored chest. But it then made a sound, like it was laughing. Its golden eyes locked onto Noctis's own blue ones and it began to walk again.
Noctis panicked. He fired the gun again and again. The creature would hiss and falter at every hit but it continued to make its way towards him. It never hurried, staying at a leisurely pace like it knew it Noctis had no chance against it.
Thankfully Ardyn made his appearance just as Noctis's last bullet hit the creature. The hunter moved faster than Noctis thought a person could to leap upon the back of the Daemon. He held a blade in his hands that shined in the moonlight. He immediately plunged it into the gap between the armour of the creature below him.
The Daemon howled, the cry causing Noctis to cover his ears at the ear-splitting sound. The monster threw Ardyn off and he grunted in pain as he landed on his back. He quickly rolled to the side when the beast leapt at him but did not manage to escape a blow to his arm. Noctis heard the sound of tearing fabric as his sleeve was shredded.
The creature then paused as it stared at the hunter. It hissed out something unintelligible to Noctis but maybe not to Ardyn. The hunter laughed in response and then said something that was too quiet for Noctis to hear. The young man could see blood beginning to drip from Ardyn's arm onto the ground below. Strangely, it seemed darker than it should.
Whatever Ardyn said seemed to cause the Daemon to grow more angry and it screeched once more. It stood up on two legs and lunged at Ardyn. It's clawed hands reached for the man's throat but the hunter quickly leapt away. One of the monster's wings then lashed out and caught Ardyn in the chest however, and he was once again sent to the ground.
Noctis could see Ardyn grin, almost ferally, as he got back to his feet. The young man shuddered at the expression. It seemed as if the hunter was enjoying the fight.
It took a while but Ardyn won against the creature. It lay on the ground, defeated, with several more silver blades embedded in its body.
"I suppose I am the winner of this little game," Ardyn laughed, exhilarated. It had been a long time since he'd been able to fight like this.
The creature's body began to shift, shrinking and its tail and wings disappearing into its body. Soon, it grew into more humanoid in shape. The silver blades dropped out of its hide as it shunk, landing onto the earth.
"You were never part of it to begin with!" The creature snarled, now understandable to Noctis, "you interfered!"
Noctis found himself startled at the sight. He questioned why the monster still looked like him, though it still had some of the carapace covering its body. The horns were still on its head too, though much smaller now.
"I thought we swore not to do this anymore!" The indignation was clear in the Daemon's voice.
"Oh how I have not missed that whining," Ardyn chuckled as the creature before him pushed itself to his feet. It stumbled but righted itself before it fell back onto the ground.
Noctis froze at the response. Did Ardyn… Know the Daemon? The young man gave a startled glance towards his savior but the man was not paying attention to him. Ardyn was still looking smugly at the, mostly human, form of the monster.
"I have claim on the boy. By blood too, as you can clearly see," the Daemon insisted, turning to glare at the boy in question. Noctis took a step back in response. He noticed the creature's eyes were blue now, the same colour as his own. "You are also trespassing in my territory, Ardyn."
"I would say that you do not anymore, Somnus. I won this fight," Ardyn sighed, as if he were talking to a child. Noctis was confused as to how the man knew the creature's name. "And I find I'm quite bored of that silly promise we made."
"That was your idea in the first place! And you used silver against me of all things? You know how painful that is," the creature sounded hurt now as he glanced at his side where one of the many wounds Ardyn inflicted on him had been. Silver was a weakness for all Daemonic beings, and it also agony to be inflicted with a wound by such a weapon. The ache would last for weeks after this as well as prevent him from using the full extent of his power for just as long.
Us? Noctis thought, feeling his uneasiness grow at the exchange.
"Look what you filthy little claws have done to my clothing! This was all custom made!" Ardyn responded, sounding rather annoyed now.
"You attacked me first!" the Daemon snarled, pausing before continuing. "... You could also do with a new outfit. I still cannot understand your sense of style."
Noctis was incredulous. He could only stare between the two before him. A feeling of wrongness settled over him. He felt the desire to leave, and quickly.
"Oh dear. I believe our friend must be a little lost," Ardyn remarked, looking over to smirk at Noctis. The hunter's eyes began to glow, the amber turning into the same unearthly gold the creature beside him once bore in his Daemon form.
"We are lucky he hasn't run off yet," Somnus glanced at the now horrified young man, "too bad for him though."
Hearing that, Noctis finally jumped into action. He knew now this had been a mistake. The young man immediately bolted for his vehicle. But somehow luck was not on his side. He could not get it to start. Somnus and Ardyn watched the man struggle with his car, seeing him getting more panicked by the moment. They could not help but laugh at the boy's actions, as even the weakest Daemon's power could interfere with almost any type of technology. Noctis would not be able to escape two powerful Daemons in such a way.
"I suppose, as your brother, I can allow you another chance," Ardyn relented when he saw his younger brother return his angry gaze towards him. "We even can make a game of it."
Noctis ditched the vehicle, knowing the creatures outside could easily get to him if he tried to stay inside. He ran in the direction of the forest, hoping to lose them inside. Maybe he could find help after that.
"Fine," Somnus accepted. "Don't try to cheat with the silver this time."
"As you wish," Ardyn shrugged. He found himself excited. He'd truly been bored lately. Hunting other creatures of darkness was fun and all but he used to have far more excitement when he and his brother competed, even if they ended up causing far too much collateral damage in the aftermath in their fights against one another. With the rise of technology, they could not do that as much as they once did. They had to say hidden else they might be eradicated like most other Daemons were upon being revealed. It was understandable but he would rather it did not happen to them.
Somnus and Ardyn made territories for themselves to prevent themselves from causing such destruction. However, Noctis's soul had been too tempting for Ardyn to stick to the rules they made so long ago. He looked far too much like Somnus and it would be greatly amusing to use him to annoy his brother by enslaving him. It was something he could rub in Somnus's face every time they met. Perhaps he would eventually Daemonize the boy as well, like Somnus had several other of his kin. His brother had twelve other of their line's souls already anyway, both as enslaved servants and as Daemonized minions. Somnus could stand out to lose out on just this one.
"I've always been faster," Somnus stated as he stared at the back of the fleeing man.
"I've always been stronger and you should still be feeling the effects of the silver for a while," Ardyn reminded as he too watched the young man run as if he had Daemons at his heels. And well, he sort of did. "You might be able to reach him first but I guarantee you won't have him long."
"We shall see about that," Somnus laughed, his voice distorting as his body twisting back to become the creature it had once been. The wings and tail returned and he roared into the night. They'd give the boy a bit of a head start and then begin their hunt for him.
Ardyn just smirked as his own body began to change. His clothes would be torn apart but they were mostly unsalvageable anyway. He would just have to get some more made. The funds he received from Noctis for his services would cover it, Ardyn thought to himself with a vicious smile.
Noctis panted for breath as he sprinted as fast as he possibly could. His lungs, his legs, his chest burned as he ran in pure terror. He prayed he could escape the two monsters he'd seen today… But he already had a feeling that he wouldn't.
Thank you for reading! ^.^
Also, Noctis's birthday on the 30th. I don't know if I'm actually going to post something that day but I might if an idea comes to me.