UPDATE FEBRUARY 1, 2009: Chapter 1 has been polished! A few plot holes and grammar errors have been repaired. Slightly extended. Looks about ten times better now!
Alright, so - this was something inspired by Ladyhawke, which I have always loved, ever since I was a wee little thing. It's an absolutely wonderful story, as well as a movie. I watch it still. I totally dig it.
If you've never seen Ladyhawke, that's fine. You need have no knowledge of it to read this. If you can, try to see the movie - I promise you won't be disappointed. If you are familiar with the tale, I'm sure it would still be fun to revisit it with DGM in the mix. Indeed, this is a very fun thing to write. :) Heheh... even though it's basically ripped straight out of the movie. I tried to add my own little things in there, though. Different elements, names (of course), and background that was not included in the film.
"Nothing is impossible!
"Come on, mouse - dig! Dig - mouse - dig!"
The chubby warden that was in charge of the Aquilan dungeons entered the gloomy confines of his lair.
"I want Allen Walker."
Boric was a respected man, although nobody liked him. His Grace left him to manage the hell that was the dungeons, while the Earl ruled up above. Surely nobody under the castle would disagree that this place was indeed their grave, for, as much as Skinn Boric enjoyed teasing and torturing his prisoners, he took his job very seriously. The Bishop promised this Skinn Boric that should any of his pets escape his grasp, he wouldn't have a head to see the next moment of it.
"This is the cell, sir,"
At last, he arrived at the cell he had been searching for, the one that held his little mouse. The mouse was a young boy no older than 15, even younger by the looks of it, whom one of his guards had caught picking the pocket an Earl's acolyte. A sin, through and through. It was no easy task, capturing this boy. He had put up quite a struggle, and at one point had even managed to get away for a while. He was difficult to find because his snow white hair passed him off as an elderly citizen. However, Skinn Boric knew better. This boy was marked. Cursed. He was branded by the devil and did not belong in such a holy city as Aquila. The scar on his face, which ran over his left eye and ended in a pentagram on the youth's forehead, was a clear indication of this fact.
The warden paused as he peered into the boy's cell. Where was the little devil? Where was his mouse? A malicious grin spread across his rusty features as he spotted a small lump on one of the cots in the corner. The giggling lunatic who also occupied the cell watched him with round eyes that seemed to somehow fit into his skull despite their impossible size. Boric shoved the door to the grimy cell open and approached the cot, smirking.
"Little mouse? Trying to hide are we...?" Boric grabbed a handful of the soiled old cloth that covered the cot and tore it away, only to find a pile of bed linens. Boric's smirk vanished instantly, quickly being replaced by a disturbed expression.
"What the devil?" Clearly not liking the situation, Boric threw the pile of linens to the cobbled stone floor, turning around for a full inspection of the cell. There was no way the mouse could be hiding in here. And there was no way he could have escaped either; he kept a guard watching the prison every hour. The warden knelt down and searched under the cot, without satisfactory results.
"This is the wrong cell," Skinn barked, startling the guard who had led him to this particular cell, "I want Allen Walker. The one they call the Mouse."
"The mouse? The mouse! He's left our house! No mouse today, he's run away! To ease the pain, he's down the drain!" Boric spun, seeing the lunatic who was smiling widely, most of his teeth missing or about to be lost. He flew at the prisoner, seizing him by his ragged tunic.
"Think you're funny, eh? Speaking in riddles. I should have you scragged. Suman!" The prison guard, Suman, entered and was startled by this loopy man who was still grinning in his crazed bliss.
"Where is the one called Allen Walker? He was supposed to be in this cell! I do not see the brat anywhere!"
"As of feeding time, he was still here. In this cell, milord, he couldn't have left," Suman the guard replied honestly.
The lunatic giggled maniacally, freeing himself from the warden's hold and crawling weakly over to a small drainage hole in the center of the cell. "Kind lord, I've already told you!"
Now thoroughly had with, Boric looked down to the prisoner at his feet, who was pointing at the drain. Impossible. The man really was crazy. Suman peered down at the pipe as well, stunned. It was no wider than sixteen inches...
"Impossible. Nobody can fit through that!" Suman declared, after estimating its width. He was clipped in the face by Boric's well aimed fist.
"And yet he did! Fool, we must find and capture that little bastard before the Earl hears of this! You understand? Not a word! Search every sewer - every drain!" Suman nodded sheepishly, stepping aside as Boric moved to leave the cell.
"Surely there is a reward for my help?" the crazed prisoner asked from the warden's feet. Boric promptly landed a kick to his gut, sending the last of his teeth into the drain pipe.
"You'll be first in line for hell today, how does that sound?"
"Please kind lord, not that!" In the end, it was a vain attempt to win his mercy, for Boric had no intention of showing any as he dragged the man to his fate at the gallows. But now the warden had a new concern on his mind. If he didn't find the little mouse soon, this madman wouldn't be the only one going to hell this day.
"Only a little more...!"
What used to be the dank silence beneath Aquila was broken by the voice, slightly muffled by the soil separating it from the sewers. A blood red hand broke through the rotting mud of an unused drain pipe, grasping at the air it now felt. A mess of white followed, caked by the grime and filth of the pipe it had just been forced through. He grunted as he attempted to pull the rest of his body out.
"It's not unlike escaping mother's womb! Oh, God, what a memory!"the teen exclaimed, pausing for a moment at the sheer oddness of his spoken thought. His cerulean silver eyes widened as his entire body came sliding out of the pipe, having just freed his hips. The boy plunged into the stank waters of the Aquilan sewers, sinking deep into the murky liquid and God knows what else. Despite how utterly disgusting it was, the teen opened his eyes and desperately searched for a way out. He spotted a gate below the water, and taking that as a sign to freedom, he swam for it. It was a tight fit, but having just crawled through a drain pipe, it was not much of a challenge for the boy. His body slipped through and soon he found himself swimming upward as his lungs constricted, screaming for oxygen.
He broke the surface with a violent gasp for air, and the scenery hadn't changed much. He found that was still in a sewer, but in a different area of the city. Perhaps a more wealthy district? He peered down the length of the tunnel, rejoicing as he spotted light filtering in from some opening. He scampered to the side, however, as an fearsome beast appeared in the water, floating toward him. An Akuma? His eye hadn't reacted to its presense, so he knew it could be no Akuma. But what was it? Instinctually, his Innocence activated, his left arm transforming into a large, crude-looking black claw.
"Mana, I'll never pick another pocket as long as I live - I swear." The beast ignored his incoherent muttering and continued to drift toward him.
"If you've heard me, this ledge will remain steady as rock, and the thing coming toward me won't be what I think it is... of course if it is, there will be no hard feelings. But I would be very disappointed!" He ground his teeth together, forcefully lunging at the menacing creature in the water. There was a loud splash that echoed about the sewer's walls as the teen tackled the beast, dragging it under. There was a moment in which the two resurfaced, the enormous claw holding up what appeared to be the skull of an ox.
"You've got a silly imagination, Allen," he said to himself, chuckling with slight discomfort and hurling the skull back into the water. Who could blame him? It was dark down her, and he figured he probably already had the entire city in search of his head. Allen continued swimming, his large claw speeding up the process by using his claw as an oar to propel him faster. Eventually this led him to a break in the light, which, looking up, Allen discovered was coming from a long tunnel leading to an elaborate setting above. Curious, Allen began to climb. The fact that the drain was not well cared for made it easier for him to scale it, for his claw could easily dig itself into the wall while his human arm couldn't. At last, as the light grew closer, Allen felt that he had hope after all.
"It's Allen, Mana - Allen! You won't regret this - I'm a wonderful person, really!"
His scampering finally came to a stop as he reached a grate that separated himself from the world above. Men in long white robes stood around the drain, completely oblivious to the small white-haired boy lurking beneath the grate. Of course - of all places he had to end up! Here - under the Grand Cathedral! The Bishop's lair!
No matter. He had to escape, one way or another. His grubby fingers coiled around the rusty steel of the grate, ready to move it to the side.
A small girl apparently noticed him there and knelt by the grate. She smiled innocently, then glanced down to inquire about his current situation.
"Hello! What're you doing down there?"
"Get away! Get away!" Allen hissed at the girl. The girl looked up as her mother called for her. ("Come here, come here...")
He was quiet enough that he could easily sneak out of here without notice. However, with his plans for freedom occupying his mind, he failed to notice the boots belonging to a distressed guard traveling across the Cathedral's marble floor, straight for the grate. The boots plunged down on his fingers, and it took everything in him not to cry out in pain as his frail bones were crushed under the man's boot. As the boot lifted from his poor fingers, he lost his grip on the grate and fell back into the murky depths of the Aquilan sewers.
The guard's brow furrowed as he heard an odd splash from somewhere below him, but he paid it no mind. For now, he had a job to do. He was Lord Mikk, captain of the Aquilan Guard. As he approached the Earl, he felt the man's eyes bore into his own, but he kept a firm posture and plowed on. Part of his job was to report the bad news. He knew that the news he was about to tell the Earl would anger the man to no end. He also knew that the news would mean the end of a certain warden.
"Praytell Captain, what brings you here at this hour?"
"I bring... disturbing news, milord. One of the prisoners has escaped."
"Impossible. Nobody ever escapes the dungeons of Aquila - the people accept this as historical fact. Who informed you of such nonsense, Captain?" The Earl's voice was calm as ever, but Mikk could hear the steel edge beyond it that indicated that he meant business.
"Where is Boric? How could he allow a teenaged boy to escape, of all prisoners?"
"He is currently under watch of the Tease, milord." The Earl sensed the delight behind Mikk's words. It was not unknown to him that Mikk and Boric have never been on good terms. Perhaps he even considered them to be foes.
"I have no need of the bastard. Do what you will with him. I will not tolerate failure," the Earl said, dismissing Mikk. He trusted that Mikk would ensure a long, painful, and torturous death to Boric rather than simply tearing the warden's heart out of his ribs.
"Milord, his service has been well in the past. Will you simply rid of him so easily?" The Earl knew Mikk was only lingering for the simple amusement of it all. Surely Mikk would volunteer to slip a noose around Boric's neck any day. The Earl turned on him coldly, disregarding his comment.
"Captain, capture this boy yourself. He must answer to both me and God for his crimes, and soon, Mikk. Bring him before me - dead or alive, I care not."
"It would be a miracle if he were to get through the sewage system."
"I believe in miracles, Mikk, it's part of my job."
"At any rate, milord, tis but a insignificant, petty thief." The Earl rounded on the Captain, who visibly shrunk away in surprise.
"He is not just a boy, Captain Mikk. He is an exorcist. A devil. A monster. He must be captured. I will lend you all the Akuma you need," the Earl paused, "Great storms announce themselves with but a simple breeze, Mikk, and a single rebel spark can ignite the fires of rebellion."
"Yes, milord, by all means. If he is out there, I will find him." Mikk said, defeated. He bowed low and kissed the ring on the Earl's hand before taking his leave. Mikk's expression transformed into a sadistic grin as a Tease crawled out from under his sleeve. Tyki Mikk raised it to his face, which had darkened in pigment, revealing a birthmark running across the man's forehead. His now golden eyes gazed fondly at the Tease sitting complacently on his wrist.
"Make it slow and painful," he said, his voice soft and velvety despite the chilling instructions he had just given. The bell of the Cathedral rang out like a funeral march as the Tease fluttered toward the dungeons.
The bells on the Grand Cathedral of Aquila chimed in the distance. The sounds reached for a few miles around the outside of the city, alerting those who happened to be passing by that something unwanted beyond its walls had just occurred. Among these passerbys was a man wearing a black cloak with a hood that hid his features under its shade. His black horse neighed softly, and the man reached a strong arm out to pet the stallion's mane to calm him. The wind picked up and lifted the hood from his head, revealing a mess of crimson hair and a mystifying emerald eye, the other of which was hidden by an eye patch on his left side. Although the man was quite handsome, his face was set into a grim expression. The look in his eye as he gazed out at the city could only be described as sorrowful.
He heard a cry from above and he raised his gloved wrist. A dark feathered hawk descended upon him and perched on his arm, a feather drifting from the hawk's tail and landing in the grass by the horse's hooves. His remaining eye continued to gaze out at the city, pulling the hawk closer to him. He had once seen this city as a golden one - one that was beautiful and full of pleasant wonders that he could never thought to be true. But now, as the sun sank beneath the horizon, he felt a bitter shadow biting at his conscience. This city was no longer beautiful, not to him. The tall oak gates that guarded the entrance to the city resembled the gates that lead to the depths of hell itself. A hell he would have to return to if he desired to fulfill his only remaining purpose in life. The powerful sound of the bell sounded like death to him. It meant that somewhere, in the depths of that gray place known as Aquila, some unfortunate being has lost it's life to the Earl. It meant that his time for vengeance had arrived at last.
He now eyed the hawk, stroking the fine dark feathers on top of her head.
"Soon, my love..."
Those of you who know Ladyhawke may be able to guess the rest of the cast. But don't go giving it away yet! :D There's still more characters that might appear and /possibly/ be a surprise.
Next up: Who is the mysterious man with the hawk? And how much longer can Allen go on such an empty stomach?