TITLE TRANSLATION: The Blade of The Little Espeon

DISCLAIMER: I do not own the song Room of Angel, Pokemon in general (or Espeon specifically), or Le Portrait De Petite Cossette. (Dudes, I haven't even seen it, and I've already fallen in love with it.)

Author's Note: I don't know if I'm allowed to enter twice, but this is one of two submissions for Delmara's Espeon-chiller contest. Although I don't know how Espeon can be scary; they're cuddly-wuddly adorable! Coochie-coo!

…Or…maybe…this is the sequel to Snopuff…Ah, who am I kidding?

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Really don't deserve it
but now there's nothing you can do
so sleep in your only memory of me
my dearest mother
Here's a lullaby to close your eyes, good-bye
it was always you that I despised
I don't feel enough for you to cry, oh well
here's a lullaby to close your eyes good-bye

-Room of Angel from Silent Hill 4

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Murdered, I was. Protecting a loved one, then abandoned by betrayal. Retribution? Not for me. But it is needed, nonetheless. Who will love me? Who would love me so much they would give their precious life for me?

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Keiran glanced over boredly. "You know you shouldn't bring things back from the city, Tara." He stood up, stretching languidly as Tara bounded up with the strange city item. "It's dangerous."

The female Umbreon set down the item, grinning. "That's exactly why I brought it!" She squealed, tail wagging happily. "We can use it to destroy those mutts who keep invading our land!" The dark pokemon reached down for the item, gripping the handle in her sharp teeth, and spoke around it as she demonstrated. "See? We can hold it like this, then we can slash them like this! We'll win this time, Keiran!"

Keiran snorted, glancing away from her. "It won't work." the Umbreon stated simply, standing up. "Just…give it up, Tara. Now give me the thing and I'll take it back to the humans."

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Murdered. Joy lost.

Betrayed. Trust lost.

Murdered. Love lost.

All emotions gone, yet there is something, still…something still inside of me. I can't tell what it is, but it drives me. I want to start over. I want a new life. I want a new love. Who would love me so much…? After all that I've been through? That I've done? Who…?

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It was nearly as long as Keiran's body, minus his tail. There was a dark handle, by which he was carrying it now in his teeth, and a longer, shinier part. The shiny part was metallic, and extremely sharp. It was not unlike a discarded Skarmory feather, but it was dirty. There were splotches of a dark liquid all over the blade. It smelled like blood; this blade had been used for murder.

The Umbreon sighed, closing his eyes. The sun was setting, and the temperature was dropping. That wasn't a problem, of course. With his golden rings and excellent night vision, he could see plenty well, and his fur was thick and warm. What bothered him was that the humans feared his kind, especially at night. What would they think if he walked up, glowing rings and a bloody blade in his mouth?

He would wait 'till morning, Keiran decided. Spending the night in the wilderness away from his clan was no problem. He had done it before, even as an Eevee. But that blade scared him. Something about it just frightened him.

The moon rose high and full, casting a strange light onto the landscape. Keiran set the cursed blade on a stone before him, and started raking up dead leaves with his paws for a bed. He sighed, settling down for a chilly night. The Umbreon lifted his ears, listening intently for the sounds of the night creatures. Far off, a Perrono howled mournfully, as if in great pain. Keiran paid no heed to the beast. He had his own pains to take care of.

Twitching his long, charcoal ears carefully, he picked up all of the night's sounds. A Noctowl hooted, not too far off. But the birds knew better than to harm a healthy beast with fangs and claws. A low wind picked up, shuffling the dead leaves and ruffling his thick fur. Sighing once more, Keiran started to close his crimson eyes when something caught his attention.

The moonlight was glinting off of the stained blade. Very brightly. The more he stared at it, the more it hurt his sensitive eyes. Grumbling softly, the dark pokemon got up, and moved the blade just a few inches to the right on the stone. Now the glinting wouldn't bother him, and he could get some light naps in before sunrise.

Just as he was settling down again, a loud, metallic, scraping sound erupted through the forest. Birds exploded from their trees, squawking in panic and fright. Keiran bolted up, the fur on his back rising and his tail bristling. Looking around wildly, he noticed that it was merely the blade. It had fallen off of the rock, scraping against the side of the stone in the process. The noise had merely sounded so loud in the still night.

Laying down again, the blade, once again, caught Keiran's scarlet eye. Something had glinted on--no, in it, and that something had just disappeared. But that was impossible. How could something be inside of a blade? The something had been glowing slightly, or at least reflecting the moonlight. Then again, it was probably his stressed mind playing tricks on him and his senses. Snorting silently, Keiran closed his eyes, determined to get a bit of sleep.

The next time he opened his eyes, he got quite the surprise.

The moon had traveled across the sky, signaling many hours past. But that he had slept for so long wasn't the problem. Someone was staring into his eyes. Great, sad, red-violet eyes peering into his own. Terror froze him in place, staring in shock as the owner of the eyes backed up.

And began talking.

"Oh, don't be silly…of course he can't see you…no one ever can…" The lilting voice sounded so resigned, so sad, so brimming with tears. It nearly broke his heart. The eyes closed, and Keiran was drawn to the body of his nightly visitor. The creature was nearly white in color, just the faintest hint of purple in the fur. It was pacing back and forth on delicate, small paws, and it's long, elegantly forked tail swished in sorrow behind. Large, tufted ears hung low, and a dark red jewel of some sort set in the forehead of the creature was glistening faintly. The creature seemed to glow, and with a start, Keiran realized that it was. He could see shadows from leaves and plants from the faint light, although the creature itself had no shadow.

"D-demon or spirit," Keiran began in a shaking voice, eyes wide in terror, "I me-mean you no harm. I only wished to travel through here tonight to return an item to the humans. If it displeases you, I shall l-leave immediately." He stood up slowly, fur bristling in fright more than anger. The beautiful demon looked up, its own eyes wide in surprise, as its ears perked up. It only had time to utter a soft 'oh!' before it promptly vanished.

Looking around wildly, Keiran couldn't spot a single hair from the spirit. Thoroughly shaken, he laid back down, shivering from maw to tail. And it wasn't from the chilly breeze.

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Someone had seen me! I don't know what this means…is it good? Is it bad? Will this work? Was it a fluke? I cannot begin to hope, yet it is there, building inside my heart…

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Keiran was surprised he had slept at all. But he had, and so deeply that he didn't awaken until midmorning. Deciding to high-tail it out of the possessed spot, the Umbreon quickly picked up the blade and bolted. He chose not to waste his energy on Faint Attacks as a way to travel; they would waste too much energy and he wasn't in an extraordinary hurry to get to the humans. He was out of the demon's range, anyway.

By noon he was hungry. Catching a small Pidgey, he was just reaching the bones when he sensed something behind him. The blade was behind him; had something taken it and was prepared to strike him dead? Whirling around angrily, he felt his fur rising for what had to be the fifth time he had started this journey.

The creature from the night before was sitting there. Its own fur was bristling, and it was staring at the blade with nothing short of disgust. The albino creature turned to Keiran, ears pinned back in anger.

"Who…who are you? What are you? Demon? Spirit? Psychic pokemon?" he stammered, holding his ground before the creature. It was glowing, as it had last night, and if possible, the creature was even more beautiful. But it was a terrible, haunting beauty held in its sorrowful, violet-red eyes.

"…I am all of those…" it said softly, relaxing as it sat down before him.

"What? That's not possible…Why are you here? Who are you? Why are you haunting me?" he demanded shakily.

"…I do not know…I do not have a name; I do not know who I am anymore…" the creature keened sadly. It let out one last, haunting trill and faded away. Keiran gulped visibly.

The creature was obviously haunting that blade. And it seemed so sad…Was that the blade who killed it? It seemed possible. Such a terrible death and such sorrow, no wonder the creature had forgotten its own name. Not having a name was one of the greatest sorrows of the world his clan had.

Keiran sat down, trembling once more, and pondered leaving the blade where it lie and just head back to his clan's land.

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I do not have a name…I am no one…I am a demon, a terribly sad, horrible demon. I will never be saved. Who could love such a horrible creature like myself?

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"…Aila…" In his clan's language, it roughly meant 'light one'. It seemed to fit; both times he had seen it, it was glowing faintly, and it was so light in color…If that creature ever appeared again, he'd present that name to it. It was a female's name, however, and he wasn't sure what gender the spirit was. It seemed beautiful enough to be a female, but aren't most spirits beautiful? Keiran shook his head. The creature had also said it was a demon…so why was he calling it a spirit? It could just be out for his blood, trying to masquerade as a beautiful spirit to tempt him to let his guard down.

Still…the spir--demon seemed so sad. Yes, it was a demon. He mustn't let himself get distracted by its outward beauty. Inside, it was most likely horrible and cold and thirsting for blood. He would give it the name, yes, but only to make it leave him alone. The demon would take that as a proper gift and leave him alone. Then he would return the cursed blade to the humans and it would be their problem.

But Keiran couldn't bring himself to pick up the blade again. He was too frightened of it. The Umbreon knew the anxiety would pass, but until then, he stood as still as a stone, staring at it. Most likely, that demon would reappear and he would give her the name--What was he thinking? Demons weren't female or male. Shaking his head vigorously, Keiran was scaring himself now.

To distract himself, Keiran started cleaning off his bloody paws. What was left of the Pidgey was behind him, flies starting to descend. His tail accidentally swished through the bloody mess, itself getting covered in the crimson liquid. Sighing, Keiran tried to turn around to get in a position to lick his tail off, but the appendage accidentally brushed against a pale rock. A curving, red line was drawn across it. Curious, Keiran studied it. None of the Umbreon in his clan were picture-drawers, but now that he had done it, it didn't seem too hard.

He dipped his paw in the Pidgey's blood, drawing another line. It was somewhat mesmerizing, drawing like this. And Keiran knew exactly what he was going to create.

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The creature returned just after sunset, as the moon was rising. Keiran noticed that it appeared to have a bit of feminine grace about it, so the creature must be female. Which suited the name he was going to offer, of course.

"Demon, I humbly offer you a gift." He said loudly, sitting before 'her'. She merely raised an eyebrow in response, curious. "I offer you…a name." Joy lit up in the violet eyes of the spirit before him. She opened her mouth slightly, absolutely frozen from surprise. "I offer you the name Aila, meaning light in my clan's ancient language."

"Oh…There is no way you could imagine how much that meant to me…" Aila said, tears welling up in her large eyes. For a brief moment, all of the sorrow and pain were gone from those beautiful eyes. Without the sadness, Keiran accidentally let his guard down, feeling himself being drawn into those beautiful, terrible, glistening eyes. His mouth slipped into a smile, and he completely relaxed, taking in the haunting magnificence of the spirit. "…Thank you so much!"

His mind suddenly went into overdrive. He had let his guard down; he was now trapped in her deception and beauty. He was entranced, but his mind was screaming at him to look away, run away, anything.

Keiran stared at her, his heart thumping painfully in his chest, as she stepped up to him. He stiffened, immensely surprised he could feel her as she rubbed against him, purring softly. Aila leaned against his shoulder gently, slipping her head underneath his chin and purring. His heart was thundering in his chest and his scarlet eyes were wide. He had never been this close, this intimately close to a female before, let alone a spirit.

No, he told himself. She is a demon. Don't trust her. Don't look at her. Don't love her…

Aila stopped purring, completely still. Keiran wondered if she would simply reach up and tear his throat out now. Instead, she stepped away and around him, staring intently at the rock where he had painted. In the Pidgey's blood, he had drawn a picture of Aila. She stared at it, and he was scared of what her reaction might be.

"…You…drew me. Why?" The spir--no, demon, he told himself--said softly, turning her head so she was now looking at him.

Swallowing hard, he murmured, "You were the only thing I could think about. You looked so sad…"

"…I am…" Her voice was so soft he wasn't sure she spoke at all at first. But his sensitive ears never lied. He gathered his courage, and stepped over to her. Maybe if he could help her get over her pain, she might leave.

"Why are you in such sorrow? Such pain? What happened to you?"

Aila looked up with lidded, sorrow-filled eyes. Her forehead jewel glittered faintly as she looked away again. "…I was betrayed…" He nodded slowly, urging to go on, to get it all off her chest. Tears glistened in her eyes. "…I was betrayed by one who I loved and thought was loved in return by…I was murdered, then abandoned."

"Oh…" was all he said. It was all he could manage. Aila's tears were coursing down her cheeks, dripping onto the leaves below her paws. The sight nearly broke his heart.

"…As a spirit, I haunted around, torturing all who had a hand in my murder. It was in that way I murdered the only one I ever really loved…" she continued quietly, sniffling loudly. "I cursed myself on that day as well…in order for my spirit to ever truly be at peace, I need someone to love me, to fill that gap I so cruelly destroyed…"

Keiran realized with a painful jolt what she was telling him this for. She was hoping he might come to love her…The Umbreon stood up, restraining a sigh. He was about to speak when he saw her eyes. So filled with tears, pain, and yet hope…He bit back his harsh words and said instead, blushing slightly, "Listen…I suppose you could travel with me while I carry this back to the humans…The least I could do is keep you some company, Aila…"

The saddest thing was that he was slowly falling in love with the beautiful demon.

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I found someone who might help…is it possible? Who could love such a sinful demon? Why…

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Keiran continued traveling with Aila on his journey to the humans. The spirit explained that she was cursed and traveled along with that blade, the one that had killed her. She was almost always 'outside' of the blade, as he privately called it, and she was with him at all possible times. She stared at him while he ate, and she snuggled up to him when he slept. It was a bit disconcerting at first, having a female so devoted to him, but he gradually got used to it. In fact, he came to like her, and accepted the fact that she wasn't truly a demon. Just a spirit who had made mistakes.

She told him about what she could remember of her past, what had happened to her, and that she had died around two hundred years ago. He told her of his clan, his friends, his mother and brother, and what had happened in the last two centuries.

"Humans have even more weapons now?" Aila asked curiously.

"Yes…it's horrible. Just before I was born, there was a great war between the humans and the pokemorphs--they're hybrids of pokemon and humans. They're mutts, and they're dangerously powerful…But the war killed a great many people, totally wiping out cities, forests and regions. Humans scrambled to capture more pokemon to help them, and the pokemorphs were slaughtering both them and the pokemon because neither race accepted them. It was horrible…" He shuddered, closing his eyes.

"It sounds terrible…" she said sadly. "Are there any more of the hybrids left…?"

"They're all in hiding, as far as I know. Although a small town of them lies far to the west of here, and they live normally. Or as normally as monsters can." The Umbreon reopened his eyes, glaring icily at the ground before him. He flinched slightly as the Espeon came over, rubbing against him with a sad purr.

"We'll stay far away from them…I'll make sure you never have to feel pain from those freaks ever again. I'll protect you, alright?" Aila mewed, smiling up at him. Her forehead jewel glinted slightly, but faded back to a shiny red before Keiran could take notice.

"I suppose…you're right, Aila…" He knew he was in love with her. He knew she was in love with him. And he knew that he was never going to return that blade to the humans.

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I…we…it…it's working…my love…my plan, it's working!

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The human city was laid out before them. Keiran sat on the crest of the hill, his spirit curled up next to him, purring contentedly.

With a sigh, the Umbreon stood up, walking down the slope toward the city. Aila gave a start at his sudden absence, sliding up next to him quickly, however. She immediately started purring, rubbing against his side. Although she was extremely careful to avoid the blade held firmly in his mouth.

"Keiran…we should stop for the night…" the Espeon whispered in her lilting voice.

Keiran could just barely suppress a smile at her hauntingly beautiful voice…"Why so soon?" He asked around the knife's handle.

"I…I don't want to…go to the humans tonight." she said softly, looking down. "We should stop…And I want you to draw another picture of me…"

This was not an unusual request. She had asked several times for him to draw her, and each time he complied. He loved to paint her in blood. The most recent time, he hadn't been able to catch a meal, so, not wanting to disappoint his love, he merely bit his forearm and used his own blood. With a soft mew, afterwards she healed it completely with a lick.

But I haven't caught a Pidgey tonight…I'm sure she'll heal me again, he thought, the tiniest frown creasing his brow. I can't believe I ever thought her to be evil…she's beautiful, sweet, innocent and good through and through.

With a jerky nod, Keiran turned his course and set down near a rocky ledge. He set the blade down, and turned to a nice, flat, very white rock near the edge of the outcropping. Glancing back at Aila, he smiled briefly. The dark pokemon leaned down, gently scratching open his forearm with a sharp fang. He dipped his other, picture-drawing paw in the blood, carrying it over to the stone.

His first few attempts came out wrong. Completely. They were unmistakably his beautiful spirit, and there weren't any visible errors, but they were just…wrong. They weren't Aila. And he was beginning to feel a bit faint from blood loss.

Keiran looked over at Aila. She was staring past him, down at the beginnings of the human settlement. She seemed to be staring into a dark alleyway of some sort, her fur just beginning to bristle. Was something down there?

Keiran stared down at the alley, but, even with his excellent night vision, he could see nothing. Just a few dirty dumpsters, a sidewalk with a street in front of it, a rusty fire escape coming off one building, and some sort of large, cross-shaped stone in the dirt near the back, where it joined the grasses by the hill. Keiran guessed that there had been a wall their earlier, but it had been knocked down, and the pair could see clearly into the dark passage.

"Your drawings…what's wrong, Keiran?" The Espeon turned to him suddenly, jewel flashing. "Why aren't you drawing?"

"I...uh…they keep coming out wrong, for some reason…" he stammered out, taken aback at her sudden interest. Usually she didn't both him while he was drawing.

"You should be drawing. You're wasting your blood. Don't you like drawing me? Can't you draw me? Do you want me to pose for you?" She asked hastily, sitting back and cocking her head slightly. He blinked at her sudden hurry. Aila was acting strange. She was acting…unnatural.

"Um…Aila? Are you alright…?"

"Of course I am! Why shouldn't I be?" She stepped forward, rubbing against him with a loud purr. "I'm alright, Keiran, and I love you. Don't you love me? I just wish you'd draw that picture…as a reminder…"

A bit surprised at the sudden cuddle, he flinched involuntarily. Aila sat back, frowning at him. "What's the matter? You aren't scared of me, are you, Keiran? You know I love you."

He narrowed his eyes just a fraction. She was definitely acting strange now. They never said 'I love you' to each other; they could communicate that through actions, not words. And she never hurried him, or spoke like that…He heard himself say, more than willing himself to do so, "…Who are you?"

The spirit jumped back with a yowl, tail bristling. "Keiran! I am Aila, your love! Don't you love me back? Come on! Draw me the picture to prove your love to me!"

He stood up, hackles rising. He laid his ears back, squinting at her. "You're not Aila. Where is she?"

"…You're right." She stopped spitting at him, her fur smoothing back down. The Espeon threw her head back and laughed, an unnatural, haunting laugh. "I am better than that fool! I am more beautiful, smarter, more true than that mutt! And I love you, Keiran. Just like you love me!"

"I don't love you!" He roared, leaping at her. The Umbreon went right through the spirit's image, but wheeled around immediately to face her again. "Who are you? Where is Aila? What have you done with her?"

"…I am Aila." she said softly, turning around slowly to stare at him. "But I am better, more. I am the spirit of that blade, a better spirit than that mutt could ever be. And you don't love her, you love me!" And, in one simple movement of her large, crimson eyes, everything fell into place for Keiran.

She looked over at the cross-shaped stone.

The grave.

This wasn't Aila. This was the spirit of the blade. The real Aila, the one he loved, was in that grave. That was the spirit he loved, not this twisted, corrupted one. She was cursed somehow. Once she got close enough to the grave, she must become trapped or something…so this spirit, instead, came on out.

The spirit of the blade stepped forward, rubbing against his shoulder with a deep purr. "Come on, Keiran. You know you love me…prove it. Break the curse…draw me, love me enough…"

"…Enough to give my life for you…" He whispered, eyes widening. She had mentioned it before; that was the curse! If someone loved her enough to give his life for her, she'd be free! And he was feeling rather dizzy, after all of that painting with his own blood…No! He didn't want to free this Aila, he wanted his Aila. So he turned and ran.

The Umbreon shot down the grassy hill toward the grave of his love, leaving both blade and spirit behind. He heard a demonic howl from behind him, and forced his legs to move faster. He heard the spirit land behind him, chasing him…and in his weakened state, she'd overtake him any moment now.

He did the last thing that he thought of; he used a Faint Attack, instantly appearing beside the cross-shaped grave-marker. But the spirit of the blade was still coming…

Keiran dragged his blood-covered paw over the stone, creating a dark red line. The rock was just large enough for him to draw…but he was getting weaker and weaker and the spirit was almost there…

One ear done. Ten yards until the spirit caught him.

Another line, another yard.

Two ears done, seven yards left to go.

Face shape done, forehead jewel hastily drawn in. Four yards left.

Eyes' outlines painted on, with his blood, and the spirit of the blade was a mere yard away…

He felt a horrible pain in his back, and felt his warm blood splatter all over. Just as he finished filling in those beautiful, sad, haunting eyes of hers…and with a blood-curdling scream, the spirit, who was digging and clawing and biting on his back and neck, vanished. Keiran collapsed onto his side by the grave and his painting, panting heavily and bleeding even worse.

"I…I did it…Aila…you're free…" he said haltingly, closing his eyes.

But he didn't feel any warm reassuring nuzzle, no soft mew.

Keiran opened an eye, but there was nothing there. Just his blood-stained grass, a bloody picture on a cross-shaped stone, and a small mound of dirt where his love lie.

And, with a skipped heartbeat, Keiran released a sob.

There was no curse; only for the spirit of the blade. He couldn't bring back the Aila he loved with that painting. He sobbed dryly. He knew he was going to die; he didn't even want to live without his beautiful Espeon…

He sniffled, his breaths growing shorter. There was blood all over, and some was trickling into his scarlet eyes. He squeezed them shut, repressing another sob. It was all wasted, in vain. That evil blade-spirit had killed his love's spirits, to take over the blade and get her chance at freedom…and he had failed his own spirit. At least he would die and be with her…

All in vain. He had banished the twisted spirit of the blade, but his Aila was dead.

Now and forevermore.