Yes, I thought it would never happed too but I finally updated and so I can finally slap a nice happy 'Completed' tag on this.
Police officer Pt3
The nursery rhyme definitely had something to do with these murders, Kurogane was sure of it, even if the rest of the department would laugh it off or refuse to believe it. Even though he believed that firmly now, ten people had died and nothing had happened. The number of churches had already been expended. Did this mean the end of the serial murders?
No, he was sure that it was only just starting.
His pen clicked against his paper. Deciphering the rhyme. Would have been a lot easier if he did not have to worry about a certain idiot. It was obvious that something has happened to him, he was not acting like his usual self, but just what had happened was a mystery. From the looks of things, Fai had had his memory, or at least part of it wiped. He was reluctant to probe the man in the unsteady state he was already in and, all things considered, he probably knew as little as Kurogane did.
He sighed and looked over the rhyme once more. The 'Maids in white aprons' part had to refer to the dead girls, that much was obvious and all he really understood.
Someone had explained to him the meaning of oranges and lemons before but he could not see how that would tie into anything that had been happening and the rest of the stupid rhyme was quite frankly baffling.
"Two sticks and an apple say the bells of Whitechapel." he read aloud, squinting at the strange script on his pages. The language was so inconvenient to read with all these swirls and unnecessary curls.
"What do the two sticks mean? Magic staffs? Is an apple some sort of magical fruit in this country?" he muttered to himself. Magic was not commonly known in this world and he had assumed that it did not exist here but, with last night's incident in mind, he was beginning to rethink that position.
"What are you blabbing about?" Kurogane looked up long enough to glance at a young man stooping over his shoulder to read the pages spread across his desk before returning to the books.
Frowning, the man placed a hand over the pages, blocking them from view. "Two sticks and an apple obviously refers to the crucifix and the fruit of knowledge," he said, as though anyone with half a brain would have known that.
"Fruit of knowledge?" he batted the man's hand away from the book.
"You're not religious, are you?" he thinly smiled, pretending as if he had never touched him.
"I'm not familiar with this country's religions," he deigned him with a curt response, only half listening as he read.
The man rolled his eyes. "The fruit of knowledge was mankind's downfall. It's sometimes called the fruit of temptation," he said in a matter-of-fact tone that could do nothing but irritate. "Basically, the crucifix was a torture device where…well, God, I guess, died."
"Gods can die in your religion?"
Ignoring his question, he continued with the lecture. "There was something that happened about a century ago where some lunatic tried to do the same. Yeah, some crazy priest started slaughtering his congregation. Said he was going to summon the devil. Can you believe it? There's no such thing as devils and demons, though I guess in those days they were willing to believe anything!"
"Who was this priest?"
"Father Pate. You went to his chapel yesterday. Geez, do you pay attention to anything the chief says? It's right here, see?" he pointed at a dotted map.
"Where did Kurogane go?" Fai asked, looking around as he entered the main office.
From the crowded desks, snowed under with books and maps, a man lifted his head from the endless amount of paperwork. "No idea. He's probably gone home already," he sighed, scratching his head.
"He wouldn't leave without me…at least, I don't think that he would," Fai muttered. Lately, he was becoming less and less sure of things that he once held almost as certain as solid fact.
"Oh yeah, he was interested in that chapel you went to before. You know, Bald Pate's chapel?" the man said, and all Fai managed in response was a small, insignificant, "Oh."
The chapel was old and abandoned, Kurogane had to pry some of the boards nailed over the entrance before he could squeeze through.
Inside was a dusty cavern of discarded benches and crumbling statues. The moonlight shifted through the stain glass windows, leaving haunting imprints on the faded floor. The altar was broken, wood lay scattered over the floor. Kurogane waved away the dust and proceeded cautiously towards the centre.
A sudden rush of wind attacked him from the side. In the sudden storm, he was just barely able to draw his sword.
The wind ended abruptly but he did not let his guard down for a second. A flash of grey passed over the corner of his vision. A slip of someone's cloak caught his eye. A second later, the blade of his sword met the steel edge of an axe with a clang that echoed throughout the chapel.
Biting back a curse, he shoves the cloaked figure back and positioned himself to charge at the man. Whoever he was, he was obviously no sword fighter for his movements were amateurish and ungainly, his arms hardly able to support the weight of his axe.
Yet, despite his disadvantages, the figure did not seem worried. As the moonlight passed over his face, Kurogane caught the sight of a smug smile just before the man swung his heavy blade of his axe at his head.
Too predictable. He had him now. Swinging his sword to meet him, Kurogane pivoted to one side, whirling around him until he got a clear shot of the mane's back. However, as he swung his blade down the cloaked figure disappeared before his very eyes. The sudden shock caused him to pause for barely half a second, yet it was enough time for the man to reappear behind him.
Before he could retaliate, large chains burst from the ground around his feet, throwing him against a crumbling wall. They naked up his arms locking him in place and his sword fell to the ground uselessly.
"What the hell? Kurogane cursed his carelessness.
The figure disappeared again, phasing in and out between the air, closing the distance between them with every reappearance.
"Good evening!" he smiled shrewdly.
"M - magic!" Kurogane inwardly swore. He had been sure that there was no magic in the world, although that was no excuse.
The man's face brightened with happiness. "Oh! Here's another one who recognises my craft! Come to think about it, that other guy was with you that other time, wasn't he? He was most interesting and so helpful too. I was surprised that such a powerful mage would be lurking around here but, well, it wasn't that hard to crack him open. These magic types always forget about protecting themselves from the inside as well as the outside."
"So you're the bastard that I can thank for his strange behaviour. What did you do to him?" Kurogane growled, struggling against his bonds. It was no good; they were holding tight. The man smiled, stirring his anger to fury. "I asked you what the hell you did to him!" he snapped.
"Oh, I just messed with his head a little," the man smiled like a cat who had found something more interesting to toy with. "Do you know the song oranges and lemons?" he asked. "Your partner didn't."
"The words," Kurogane reluctantly admitted. He had to force his words through gritted teeth, angry that he was even deeming to speak with such an insane man.
"Only the words?" he cried with disappointment. "Well, I'll gladly enlighten you. The true meaning behind the song - it's a song about Bald Pate, the cleric who sold his soul to the devil!"
"Is that what this is? An attempt to summon a demon?" Kurogane hissed.
"Two sticks and an apple - sin and temptation," he continued, ignoring him. "Maids in white were the sacrifices needed to summon a demon,"
"And you plan on sacrificing me too? Hate to break it to you but I'm no maiden in white."
The man flashed him a devilish smile. "On the contrary, you're the last man."
The man waved a dismissive hand. "Oh, that doesn't matter this late in the game. Anyone's blood will do for the final stage of the summoning."
"Well, that's comforting," Kurogane muttered under his breath.
The man turned his back to him, lifting his arms to the lofty ceiling in praise. "Old Father Bald Pate is this chapel, the place built disguised as a place of worship is really a sacrificial ground. The blood of many has seeped into these walls!" he cried, breathless with awe.
"Oranges and lemons - humans are no more pure than the devil. The cleric, Pate, who saw this became disillusioned and attempted to summon a demon in order to raze this corrupt country to the ground and rebuild it anew!"
Suddenly, he spun around again, pressing himself to Kurogane's body. He tapped the edge of his axe a mere inch away from his ear. Smiling teasingly, he dragged the blade down until it just barely bit into his shoulder, deep enough to draw a trickle of blood.
"However, he was lacking in blood money," the man sighed, amused. "The remaining lines are self explanatory - a conversation between the cleric and the devil. Since he could not pay the amount fully needed to summon a demon, it killed him in his sleep."
"I suppose that you plan on doing the same as this stupid cleric did," Kurogane glared at him, refusing to be intimidating by the axe about to severe his arm or the close proximity of the hooded man.
He shrugged blithely. "Yes, but I won't make the same mistake. I have almost paid the necessary amount of blood and made the sacrifices in all the necessary places. I don't suppose your partner will be coming. I thought it would be rather nice to spill the blood of someone with magic in their veins."
"I'm so sorry my blood doesn't meet your high standards," he retorted.
"It's no matter. Blood is blood in the end," the man shrugged, either missing or ignoring the sarcasm in Kurogane's comments.
He swung the axe above he head, a devilish gleam lighting in his eyes, it was almost insane.
"Here comes a candle to light you to bed," he chanted "Here comes a chopper to chop off your head. Chip…chop…chip…chop…the last man's…dead!"
With as much force as he could muster the man swung the axe forward, poised at a slant to take Kurogane's head and an arm with it.
However, the blade never touched, no blood gushed out, nothing was severed. When Kurogane opened the eyes he had not realised he had been closing, the man's back was turned and Fai was in front of him, a metal pole in his hands currently locked with the man's axe.
"So you decided to join the party after all!" the man cried with glee. He was a child simply searching for fun and the more the merrier in his opinion.
They broke away and Fai leaped aside, close to Kurogane. He slid the pole through one of the links and violently twisted it until the links snapped.
"Are you okay?"
"Peachy," Kurogane muttered, although he was secretly glad to have been asked, even if it had merely been on impulse.
"What are you doing? Who do you think organised this whole thing?" the man hissed, pointing an accusing finger squarely at Kurogane.
"Who would believe a ridiculous lie like that?" he snapped. It was an insult to his intelligence.
However, Fai seemed mush more susceptible. He paused and glanced from Kurogane to the man, looking very much lost and unsure of what to do next. Sensing this, the man spoke triumphantly, raising his hands in the air to make wild, confident gestures.
"Honestly, how much do you know about that man? How many secrets is he keeping from you? You don't know what he could do!" he cried.
Fai opened and closed his mouth. He winced. His eyes darted around the chapel. He was at odds with himself, struggling to chose which emotion to follow. Faith and mistrust battled for control, leaving him stranded until he waited for his body to reach a verdict.
Using his hesitation to his advantage, the man mouthed a few silent words. Lights swirled around his outstretched palm, bursting into scarlet flames.
"Get back!" Kurogane yelled, barrelling in to Fai's body. They both crashed to the ground as the fire blazed above them. The flames caught the benches and fire spread throughout the chapel.
"Why did you do that?" Fai asked, bewildered.
"Oh, I don't know. Because you were about to be roasted alive, maybe," Kurogane snapped, made irritable by the fact that the man seemed to have the upper hand against them.
Fai brought a hand to cover his mouth as the smoke billowed throughout the building. He rubbed his watering eyes, and tried to wave away the smoke around his face. It created a veil which obscured their surroundings in a cloudy haze. It as hard to tell where their attacker had gone but there was no doubt that he was still there, somewhere.
As the fire continued to blaze, Kurogane tugged at the hem of his sleeve, nodding towards a dark shape in the midst of the smoke hovering around the centre of the wrecked benches.
"You sneak around that side and go up there. We'll catch him off guard!" he ordered, pointing towards the podium.
"Wait!" Fai made to grab Kurogane's sleeve but he was already on the move. His fingers fell short and Kurogane disappeared into the grey smoke.
With no other option, Fai found his pole and crawled - on his hands and knees to avoid breathing in the ash - towards the podium. He managed to make it half way there before he froze, the sound of singing halting him in his tracks.
Perhaps singing was giving the sound too much credit. It was more of a low, listless hum, the tune of 'oranges and lemons' piped softly yet clearly from nearby lips. Fai forced himself to keep crawling, finally finding his way to the podium where he positioned himself behind the altar, hidden from view yet no clearly able to see the man's cloaked back just a little below him.
From the corner of his eye, he also spotted Kurogane moving amongst the shadows. Fai glanced away for a moment and suddenly Kurogane had charged forward. His breath hitched in his throat. What was he supposed to do? Was he supposed to attack now?
Blood flew into the air, a cry rang throughout the chapel. Fire turned to ice, merciless chards punctured the floorboards. Kurogane hissed as the shards scrapped his leg, drawing at thin line of blood but he did not allow himself to be deterred from his target. Charging head on, he slashed aside the blades of ice thrown at him as his blade met with the man's axe.
They danced around the spikes, their breaths coming out in wisps of vapour in the frozen air. Steel ringing against steel, their clashes shook the rickety walls. All the while, kurgan's eyes burned with frustration and Fai, watching knew that he was wondering just where the hell he was and why he had not attacked as they had planned.
Should he do as he had been instructed? Kurogane had been acting oddly lately and Fai was no longer sure if he trusted his judgement. What is it was a trick. He vigorously shook his head. There was no reason for Kurogane to try to trick him, he knew that yet still he hesitated.
A sudden gust of wind threw Kurogane backwards. The back of his legs hit back of a bench and he almost toppled over. Words were muttered and the ice returned to flames, greedily waiting to engulf him just as Kurogane twisted his body, falling just short of the flames, onto the ground. He cursed and rolled over, blocking the blow to his head as the man descended upon him. He kicked him off and leapt to his feet, swinging his sword in a horizontal arch.
The man grinned and pivoted, twisting behind him with his axe raised to sever him in two.
Fai's body moved on its own bidding, he had not even realised that he was attacking until his arms had swung the pole into the man's shoulder with a sickening crack.
The man screamed and stumbled back, clutching his shoulder. He glared hatefully at Fai and assaulted him with a whip of fire. Fai jumped back as Kurogane ducked beneath the flames, thrusting his sword forward, plunging deeply into the man's chest.
Blood tickled from his mouth. The man struggled, cursed and then fell limp as the flames coursed around him.
The police force quickly arrived on the scene with the fire fighters as the building burned to the ground. Kurogane walked away from the blaze as men in blue uniforms and striped jackets rushed on to the scene. He had done enough work for the day.
Amongst the dancing shadows, he spotted Fai sitting on the edge of the pavement, watching the fire attentively. Someone had given him a heavy brown blanket to keep out the night's chill but it lay uselessly draped over the cobblestones besides him.
"How are you feeling?" Kurogane approached him.
Fai rubbed his head thoughtfully. "I think that man must have left some of his influence in my mind when he first entered it, that's why I was so - "
"Don't worry about it."
Fai frowned. Regardless of his words, he was obviously going to keep worry about what a maniacal stranger had done to his head. "I'm sorry. I do trust you," he looked away apologetically.
Kurogane decided to neither accept nor deny Fai's apology. He remembered when they had just began travelling together, it seemed like a century ago, he had not trusted Fai then and he doubted that the man had trusted him either. It was hard to believe how they had possibly progressed to the stage they were in now. Whatever stage that was.
"Don't look so damn glum. You helped out in the end, didn't you? Though you took your time," he added.
Fai shook his head. "It wasn't a conscious decision. My body sort of moved on its own," he admitted, ashamed.
Kurogane sighed and fell on to the floor next to him. "I think I remember someone saying once that the body remembers what the mind forgets," he said, though it did not seem to comfort Fai as much as he thought it would. "Will you be okay?" he asked.
He nodded. "Since he's dead, his influence should fade from me over time," he assured him, however, Kurogane knew a lie when he saw one. He could also spot a half-truth. For all Fai's reassurance, he could not quite hide the uncertainty from him.
"Here," he threw the brown blanket over his head, "get some rest."
Despite the fact that it was itchy and felt like sandalwood against his skin, Fai clutched the edges and wrapped himself in a cocoon of brown blanket.
Kurogane could tell when Fai was lying and when he was only telling half-truths. He could also tell when the man was actually being sincere.
"…I'll be glad when we get out of here," Fai added on an after thought, laughing a little.
The sound was somewhat comforting.
Ah, it feels good to finish something! Now I can die in peace! A big thank you to everyone who has been reading this fic. I'm sorry for being such a procrastinator.