Rating: Originally T, but put up to M due to violence and language.
Author's Note: As of the 17/12/07, this story has been edited. This first chapter anyway. I'll work through the others as I can. The reason for this is that I've restarted this story after a few years, and my writing style has changed a lot. I'm not happy with how the rest of the story is, so I'm editing the earlier chapters. The plotlines will be the same, but the chapters will be changed to my style now and extended. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy it!
Covering a yawn, a small angel jiggled as she sat on a hard wooden bench, watching as a court assessed her father's situation. At six years old, she didn't particularly like going to court (she never understood the men before her - prosecution this, charges that - their words ran together in a muddy stream of legalities and formality) and her view was only reinforced by her father's contempt for lawyers. A sharp rap of the judge's gavel startled her, and she turned tired eyes to the angel overseeing the hearing.
"The jury has reached a decision regarding your fate." The woman the judge addressed looked aged beyond her years. Her face looked like it may have once been beautiful, but she was thin, too thin, and tired, and her wings were dull and torn from neglect. Her mouth was pinched in sorrow and her shoulders slumped forward in defeat - a picture of resignation. But her eyes! They drew Anzu's gaze and locked it in, until she couldn't look away, even if she wanted to. They were fierce, unyielding - a deep, searing crimson - or were they more purple? She couldn't tell.
"The jury decrees that for the crimes you committed you will be condemned to death, and your son will be exiled to the mortal realm for an indefinite period of time. The judge stared coldly at the woman and turned his attention to the crowd. "This woman has stolen a substantial amount of money from the lord of Orlath. The sum will be paid back in double in reparation."
There were numerous murmurs of approval throughout the courtroom. "Do you have anything to say in your defense?" The judge asked the woman.
She snarled and spat on the polished wooden floor. "Nothing to you, maggot." The judge stiffened and motioned for the guards to tighten their hold on her.
"The case is now closed. Lord of Orlath, you shall receive your money within a week."
"A week!" Muttered Anzu's father as he gripped her hand, making his way through the throngs of bystanders. "Damned lawyers, I want my money now!"
"Does that lady really have a son, father?" Anzu gazed up at him, her eyes searching for some sort of reassurance.
"Probably, kitten. Look, that must be him now."
Flanked by guards, the woman knelt to embrace a boy not much older than Anzu. He had the same hard crimson eyes as his mother, but the oddest hair - black, red-hued spikes and golden bangs.
The boy's eyes met Anzu's, and she smiled and waved. He watched her silently, and then turned to gaze without any emotion as his mother was lead away to the guillotine.
- Elven years later -
Yami swung himself into the saddle of his horse and nodded to the men that stood before him. "Stay here, don't attract attention to yourselves. Now, who are you if anyone asks?"
"We are industrial workers and we are planning out renovations for this old, run-down building." The men chorused. Yami let himself relax a little. They'd be fine.
"Good. And remember; mortals aren't all that used to people who are undead. So behave. I won't be gone long." He looked around and shook his head. "I feel like I'm forgetting something." He murmured.
"Your wings, master?" One of the zombies growled in question.
Yami swore and withdrew his wings into his body. Best not to let any travelling mortals see them. He knew from experience the effect the unknown had on those people.
"Thank you. I will return with the target in several days. Now stay out of sight as best as possible." His horse shifted impatiently beneath him.
"Do not disappoint me."
Anzu knocked softly on the open door to her father's study. Without looking up, Menzero motioned for her to come in.
She did, shifting a stack of papers from a chair to the floor so she could sit. She smoothed out her white silk dress.
"What are you doing, father?" She enquired, eyeing the mass of documents spread over the deck.
"Oh, just putting the touches on a law suit. These poor suckers have no idea I'm framing them for plagiarism. By the end of this trial, we're going to have an extra hundred thousand to spend!"
"Father, no!" Anzu exclaimed, horrified. "You said you'd ended all this! You've been doing it for years. It's got to stop."
"No, it doesn't sweetie, not as long as the cost of living is so high. How else are we supposed to pay bills and taxes? Do you want us to end up in the street?"
Anzu's cheeks burned. "That's not what I meant! You could start by getting a job and earning money the respectable way...the way everyone else does."
Menzero sighed and pushed back his chair. "I don't know kitten. That sounds like a lot of work!" He narrowed his eyes when she didn't laugh. "Anzu, this is the business world." He turned back to his files. "I don't expect a girl like you to understand."
"Father! I..." Anzu stood up, sighing. Their conversations always seemed to end this way. And they always seemed to be about money, and how to get more of it. 'Why can't he care as much about me as he does about our funds?' She started to walk out, stopping when she reached the door.
"But one day you're going to get caught." She informed her father before leaving. Stalking out of the house, she sighed - there wasn't much point in mulling over it too much - as she took to the air and drifted along lazily on the thermals, enjoying the afternoon sun.
At the sight of a large building made entirely out of coloured glass, she smiled and returned to the ground.
"Hello?" She called, stepping into the building and looking around. At once she was barreled into by a small child who wrapped his arms round her legs.
"Anzu! Anzu!" He cried in delight. "Have you come to play with us?"
Anzu laughed and picked the child up. "Yes Thomas, I have." The sight of the eager boy calmed her mind, and for a moment she forgot all about her troubles with her father.
For a moment.
She shook her head and smiled at Thomas. "Would you like to come to the park with me?"
"Oh yes, yes! I'd love to! I'll go get the others!" Thomas wiggled out of Anzu's arms and sprinted off to the children's rooms, leaping and stumbling about, trying to fly.
"Welcome, Anzu. It's good of you to join us here today." Anzu turned to see the matron of the nursery smiling kindly at her. A wizened little old woman, Matron had been head of the nursery for as long as anyone in the city could remember. She was growing weaker though, and Anzu feared her time there would end soon.
"Hello, Matron. How are you today?"
"I'm fine, dear. Would you like to take the orphans out?" The Matron pried a small girl off her leg and put her back in a playpen.
"Yes, if that's alright with you. It's such a beautiful day, and they really need some fun."
"Of course they do. Here they come now." About two dozen infant angels tore down the hallway and bombarded Anzu with hugs, questions and the occassional bite.
She led the orphans down to the nearby park, watching carefully as they practised their skill for flying (even if it only took them a few metres) and keeping them all together.
She settled herself underneath a tree and leaned back, turning the day's events over in her mind. She desperately wanted a way to help her father, to get things back to the way they used to be - no, the way she wanted them to be (she couldn't remember a time when her father didn't care for money over all else) but the realisation that he wouldn't change was numbing her mind. Perhaps, if she just closed her eyes and let the wind take her, let herself drift away, everything else would become just a memory. If she just...
Yami's horse picked its way down the mountainside slowly, taking care not to slip on loose rock or shingle. At the bottom, he took a look around to see where they had gotten to. Barricaded on three sides by mountain ranges, a bottomless chasm on the other, the overhanging cliff was tailor-made for any activities that one did not want seen.
After a surreptitious scout of the area - a double check for wary eyes - Yami dismounted from his horse and patted the beast's side, nudging it over to a lavender bush. He wandered to the edge of the cliff and peered at the thick fog rumbling slowly about the chasm, before walking quickly backwards towards the base of the mountain. He whispered the words of a forgotten language, and something appeared in the middle of the chasm - a portal, flickering like a candle against the wind, almost invisible. After a deep breath to steel his nerves, he started towards the cliff edge at a run. Nearing the brink, he ignored the wave of excited panic that rippled across his mind, and as the toe of his boot touched the edge, he spread his wings, pushed off, and flew through the portal, hissing in pain as his body disagreed with the realm shift.
He landed lightly on the ground in heaven, and straightened with a sigh. The end result never did seem worth all the hassle. He checked his phone, took a mental note of how much time he had left before the portal closed, and went in search of the girl.
He found her beneath a tree, apparently dozing. He moved behind her, knelt, and clamped one hand over her mouth, the other around her waist, yanking her roughly backwards. She let out a muffled shriek and struggled against him, but he pushed her forewards and twisted her arm up her back.
"Not a word, do you understand?" He whispered in her ear. Anzu nodded meekly.
Yami slung her over his shoulder and took to the air, flying back towards the portal. He expected the girl to scream, or cry, or something else equally damsel-like and distressed, but she instead rested her elbow on Yami's shoulder and idly drummed her fingers on his back. He turned his head to look at her, trying not to be amused.
"Would you stop that? It's irritating. You're quite calm for someone who's being kidnapped."
Anzu sighed and inspected his hair. "What do I have to worry about? You're probably just another beggar looking for father's money. He'll come and get me soon, and then you'll be sorry."
Yami arched an eyebrow. "Really? I suppose I should be worried then. As soon as he gets to the mortal realm, you let me know."
Anzu let out a squeak when she saw the gateway. "The – the mortal realm? Then you must be a sorcerer!"
Yami didn't even try to hide his amusement this time. "From where did you learn your astute powers of observation? Never mind - you won't need to observe much where you're going."
Anzu cried out and started whacking Yami's back with all her might.
Which wasn't all that much.
"Spoilt brat." Yami pulled Anzu in front of him and tossed her unceremoniously through the portal. He flew through and caught her on the other side while she was falling - looking pleased when he saw his horse still there, absently munching its lavender.
Now that they were safely on the ground, Anzu rounded on Yami.
"Who are you? What are you going to do with me? You aren't going to rape me...are you? If you do, I'll claw and bite and scratch you!"
Yami gathered his horse, hiding a smile. "No, I won't rape you. Although now that –"
Anzu shrieked and darted away. She took to the air, flitting through the crevices in the mountainside, doubling back and changing her path - anything to escape that man. He was different to her other kidnappers, that much she could tell. His very prescence was...dark. Terrifying, but exciting at the same time. She wasn't sure which part of it frightened her more.
As she turned into a mountain pass, there was a flutter of wings and Yami had her wrists in his hands. A half-grin formed on his face, and his voice lowered dangerously. "Don't make the mistake of thinking you can outfly me." He pulled her back to the ground, withdrew his wings and then withdrew Anzu's as well.
She panicked, and twisted her head to see behind her. "What did you do to them?"
"I spelled them." Yami lifted her onto the horse and swung into the saddle in front of her. "Two reasons: mainly so you can't fly away, and also because mortals are around here. They wouldn't take it well if you had your wings showing."
Anzu looked at her unbound hands and feet. "Shouldn't you tie me up? You're doing a rubbish job here. What if I run away?"
Yami shook his head and urged his horse forward. "You won't." The answer was simple.
Anzu scowled and wrapped her arms around his waist to keep from falling off. As much as she didn't want to admit it, she knew she wouldn't survive amongst the mountains on her own. Her best chances lay with the man in front of her. She poked her captor in the back. "What did you say your name was again?"
Yami half-turned his head to look at her. "I didn't. But if you must know, and I suppose you do, it's Yami."
"Well, that's a start. Mine's Anzu."
Yami turned his attention back to the path ahead of them. The girl's naivety was priceless. "I know."
He noticed that Anzu shivered in the cold wind. With a sigh, he fished about in one of the packs (looking surprised as he found a bowl of petunias in there) , took a spare cloak out and handed it to the girl.
"Here. Take this." Anzu smiled and put it on.
"Thank you. You're such a big softy, aren't you?"
"Not at all. I just don't want you dying on me. You won't be of any value if you're dead."
Anzu rolled her eyes and snuggled down inside the warm cloak. 'I bet father will hire a magician and come for me in the morning.'