Summary: Niou is an assassin for Rikkai, in a world where there is no such thing as safety, where comfort is scorned upon, where warmth is only temporary, and where love is nonexistent. [Platinum Pair]
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis, and am not making a profit from this in any way, shape, or form. Furthermore, I do not own Niou. *sighs*
Fire Rainbow: an opical phenomenon that is, in reality, not a rainbow, but an ice-halo formed by ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds. It is an illusion of sorts, a rare one, but an illusion no less.
The village was bathed in the soft, golden light of sunset. The men who worked in the fields besides the village were returning to their homes, hot, sweaty, and weary after yet another day of backbreaking work. Spring had come late that year, and there had been a delay in the planting, inevitable, of course, for none could fight against the weather. But the summer had been colder than most, and the crops were not growing as strongly as they had in years past, nor were the earlier pickings as abundant as they used to be.
The traders, too, seemed to mirror the ailing fields. They came rarely to the village, and the goods that they traded they demanded a much higher price for. But what was needed was still needed, and so the villagers clenched their teeth, tightened their belts, and paid their gold and silver and copper to the traders for the items that they needed.
Night and the darkness that came with it had not even fully taken over the village when everyone was out of the streets. Windows were locked and shuttered, doors were barred and any cracks were sealed by pushing a thick cloth, rolled tightly, against it to prevent any light from the candles that burned inside homes to leak outside. For when night fell, he roamed, and anyone who crossed his path was never spared to tell the rest of the villagers of his nightly encounter with him. In fact, all that remained to herald of such an encounter was their bodies, lying still with an expression of absolute morbid horror on their faces.
So it was rather unfortunate, then, that a young traveler had happened upon the village after nightfall. His horse plodded wearily down the worn, dusty trail, too tired to go at any pace that was faster than a steady, plodding walk, and the young man knew that it would be a waste of his efforts to try and make the animal go faster. A cold wind blue over the road, and the man shivered, drawing his traveler's cloak more tightly around his thin frame.
He was looking forward to getting to the nearest tavern, to lodging his tired horse so that the poor beast could get a decent night's rest in a proper stable, and most of all, he was looking forward to the warmth that a tavern offered. He could just imagine the heat of a brightly burning hearth fire, could taste his first hot meal in days on his tongue, could feel the cool refreshing feel of ale as it slipped down his throat, and could feel the softness of a real bed underneath him.
"Stepping into this village after nightfall is a dangerous thing to do, sir."
The traveler straightened up, staring warily around him. His horse shifted uneasily from side to side, ears laced back against its head. "Who's there?" he called out into the darkness, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. When no answer came, he relaxed, gently nudging his horse forward again. It was nothing; simply a village boy playing a prank on a newcomer under the cover of night. That was all.
It was nothing to worry about.
His horse suddenly lifted its head in a violent jerking motion, and the traveler could see the white of the animal's eyes as the moon's light hit it. In the next instant, he was bucked off of the horse and sat up gingerly on the hard road, rubbing at his aching backside, cursing his bad luck as he listened to the quickly fading sounds of his horse's hoof beats.
"Horses are interesting creatures. They understand danger even without seeing it. You, sir, on the other hand, are a totally different matter."
Something grabbed the traveler roughly around the neck and he was hoisted effortlessly into the air, as if he weighed nothing. Struggling got him nowhere; the grip simply tightened and he was forced to stop all of his movements in order to concentrate all of his efforts to breathe.
"Why did you ignore my first warning? You should have turned tail and left for another town. If you had done so, your life would have still been yours when dawn breaks."
Fear clenched at the traveler's heart as he was set down. He turned to flee, but found himself in a labyrinth of hallways, stairs, and doors. He ran to one door, opened it, fled through it, and found himself back in the labyrinth. He repeated this procedure for another few times before coming to the cold realization that he could not escape. "Who are you?" he cried, whirling around, a rabbit pressed into a corner by an extremely hungry wolf. "What do you want with me? I can pay you gold… I'll do anything you want, just let me go!"
There was a dry, humorless chuckle. "Oh, keep your gold, sir. I'm not interested in it. Nor has it ever crossed my mind to let you go. You're amusing, and I suppose that I could call you a brave fool, but all fun must come to an end and with that, the instruments of such fun."
A cold sweat broke out over the man's body as dark mist poured out of the doorways, tumbling down the stairs and through the hallways towards him.
"Be grateful to have died by my Shadow Labyrinth."
He got a fleeting glance of a man wrapped in a red mage's robe with light brown hair, tousled and messy from the wind, before the mist stole over his body, wrapping itself cheerily around his limbs, and pinning him to the ground, strangling the life out of him.
That was the last thing the man ever saw. When dawn came, the rays of the climbing sun illuminated the traveler's broken body from where he lay on the road, his eyes wide with fright and his mouth open in an eternal scream. No trace of the labyrinth or the man that was the cause of his death remained.
The dead man's only sin was that he had ventured into the village after night had fallen.
A/N: I got off my lazy butt and am now writing a Platinum Pair fic. It's probably a bad idea... I most likely won't be able to balance all of my fics. I hate you stupid plot bunnies who decide to hop in and make yourselves at home when I'm already drowning in work. *shakes fist*
But I should also blame my friend Helen... since if she never mentioned anything about fire rainbows the plot bunny wouldn't have decided to move in next to all my other plot bunnies (maybe I should charge rent for them all...).
Alternate Universe and pretty pretty magical powers! I love mages! :) Reviews are loved (as usual), and feel free to whack me on the head with a stick and tell me not to start so many multi-chapter stories and run them at the same time *coughTeresacough*
I really should learn how to write a successful oneshot... *sighs*
So... you know the drill. Click that little green button and review away! =(^_^)=