Author Notes: This is a chapter I wrote awhile ago, but neglected to upload. I am uploading it now and working on more chapters to come shortly.
Clare's eyes narrowed slightly as she stood with her back to a large boulder sitting along a rocky ridge. She wore mostly black, her cape circled her shoulders and draped down her back and front. When she held her arms at her sides it would close completely conceal what was underneath. Her shoulders and neck where protected by form fitting metallic plates that seemed more intent on accenting the outfit then providing actual protect.
Below the cape she wore a short breastplate that did well to conceal her gender and below that a lose shirt. Her pants where bound with a cloth belt and were of the same material as her shirt but grey in color. On her feet she wore metallic boots similar to the ones the organizations warriors wore. It was an outfit Riful had gifted her with recently and she was rather fond of it.
Unfortunately at the moment she didn't have time to appreciate her wardrobe as it seemed she had been too late in her mission. It wasn't easy finding that awakened being and now just as she had, three Claymores appeared to claim its head. There was little she could do since Riful had asked her not to take unnecessary risks, for now she was forced to only observe. Glancing around the edge of the boulder she stared down below where the three claymores faced off against the male awakened being.
They didn't know what they where facing or at least the two weaker did not. One had nearly been killed right off while the other recklessly rushed in seeking revenge. The high speed regeneration and body manipulation they displayed momentarily shocked Clare, but they did little to halt the awakens wrath. Finally all that stood was the leader who had displayed frighteningly speed as she rescued her downed companions and moved them to safety. Clare grit her teeth, the leader was strong but she was weakening fast, that ability of hers wasn't very efficient. Though she fought hard the awakened had far more endurance and soon captured and pinned her to the ground.
Clare felt a hatred building up inside her, this was indeed a being Riful wanted on her side but it sickened Clare. She watched with balled fists as the awakened plunged its tongue into the abdomen of the leader tearing into her. It only took Clare a moment to decide after that… Riful might scold her later but she was willing to take that chance. She couldn't bear to simply stand her and watch such a disgusting display any longer. Without a sound she leapt from her position and landed near the battle going unnoticed until she spoke.
"Excuse me." Clare steeled herself and tried to ignore the state of the Claymores as she called for the awakened's attention. Seeing the claymores up close filled her with nostalgia for Teresa, her death that still tugged painfully at her heart. The reactions to her voice was immediate from all of them as they looked sharply in her direction. The awakened thought, took his time and cocked his head slowly turning to stare. He tilted it eyeing her then pulled his tongue free from the leader so he could speak.
"A human eh… what good timing, here I was working up an appetite and was wondering where I'd find my next meal." It laughed. Of course it saw her as a human, Riful had taught her from the very first moment how to suppress her yoki so that she could remain undetected. Even if her yoki was fully released she was sure it wouldn't cause the being to even bat an eye.
"Run away, get away from here now!" The leader cried and drew Clare's eyes for a brief moment. If she had heard correctly from the cries of her companion the woman was named Miria, the other two Helen and Deneve. It was best she didn't get involved with them and simply complete her mission.
"I have business to speak with you about." Clare continued formally while the claymores looked on with confusion and shock. No doubt they too sensed her as only human and thought her to have lost her mind to speak so casually with such a nightmare. "My…" Clare paused a moment trying to find the proper word then continued. "My master has need of your service and requests you audience." The awakened stared at her in much the same way as the claymores before laughing loudly.
"You amuse me." Was all the awakened said before its tongue shot forward with blurred speed. Clare had anticipated the attack but was almost to slow to deflect it harmlessly with her sword. She had not taken a step and now stood with her claymore drawn, holding it at her side prepared to use it again if necessary. The awaked was instantly stunned by her defense.
"My master has need of your services." Clare continued. "And is willing to reward you for them." The awakened ignored her words as it lowered its head looking at her hard with burning hostility.
"Who are you." It demanded in a slow calculated voice registering her as the first real threat he had faced. Clare did not like the turn of events but did her best to remain stoic and show none of her uncertainty. She did not reply, not because she didn't want to but because she didn't know how to answer the question. To simply tell the being her name wouldn't satisfy it, but what else could she reveal? Her silence irritated the awakened and he turned completely towards her freeing Miria who gasped in relief at the loss of pressure on her body.
"You carry a claymore… did they send you?" The awakened demanded.
"I am not a claymore, nor do I serve the organization." Clare explained but it only angered the thing further.
"You lie, there is a symbol upon your blade." The awakened growled and crouched down battle ready.
"It is the symbol of my master." Clare stated and again and drew a sharp sense of surprise from Miria. Clare glanced her way feeling the change in her yoki power and grit her teeth, the woman's expression revealed she was aware of whose symbol the blade held. Turning back to the awakened she waited for his reaction. At first he appeared confused then surprised, and finally he began to roar loudly in laughter once more.
"I see, so that is how it is. I would never have fathomed one of us to take in pets." He grinned lewdly suddenly causing Clare to feel insecure. "Tell me what other tasks dose your master request of you?" The awakened sneered as to moved its tongue in a suggestive manner. She narrowed her eyes slightly and it did not go unnoticed as the begins laughter continued. Detecting no threat of attack she did not back away as he marched right up to her lowering his head less than a foot away.
"Yes… I can smell them… their all over you." The being sniffed at her grinning wickedly in a lewd manner once more. Clare was beginning to lose control of her temper as her fist tightened around her blade. "What I don't understand is why one of you warriors would serve one of us… oh but I think I already know. They must have a great tongue just like mine." He grinned and drew his putrid blood dripping tongue across her check and under her chin.
"You have not given me your answer." Clare stated slow and calm using what was left of her willpower not to sever the revolting appendage that instant.
"My answer?" The man raised a brow comically. "Well I'd tell you to inform your master I am not interested except for the fact... you will be dead."
"Very well." Clare smiled faintly quite happy with the answer. "My master has also told me to dispose of you in the event you refused their summons." Before the awakened could make the first move she vanished below him and severed two of his arms in passing.
Angered he rounded on her shooting his fingers at her, extending them like spears. A maelstrom of flesh bore down on her and none of it connecting as she carelessly and efficiently danced around them severing them with graceful swipes of her sword. She felt somewhat relived at the awakeneds weakness. He was fast and deadly but his attacks where nothing special, they where straightforward and easy to read though her senses.
"Damn you!" the awakened bellowed in pain as his fingers returned to him half their normal length. It seemed his regeneration was slow when in full battle form and this allowed Clare all the information she needed to feel victory was hers. She had only needed to remove the limbs fully and prevent them from being reattached.
As the awakened began to charge so did she. It swiped for her again but her blade had been ready and cut the arm in two. Not waiting for a counter attack as she twisted right under the him as he stood high standing, released her yoki power her muscles bulged noticeably allowing her the strength to claim a leg in a brutal swipe. Losing a leg set the awakened off balance and it cried out in rage toppling to the side.
Careless of reprisal Clare danced around the monster, its arms flailing and swiping at her. Each and every one narrowly avoided with calculated dodges. With each failed attack another limb was sacrifice until with terror the awakened found himself laying helpless with his limbs strewn around him just out of reach. Clare stared down at him and her faint smile turned downwards into resolve as she was more than happy to end this creatures life.
"W..wait stop, please I will see your…" Its last word was silenced as Clare thrust her blade into his gaping mouth, swiping and arcing around his large head. With a cry of anguished defeat the top half of the awakens head was decapitated, his tongue flailing about on its open neck till it gave a last twitch falling limply in death. It was at the same time the severed lump of flesh hit the ground that Clare's eyes turning to her right just as Miria suddenly blurred behind her with her blade tight against her throat.
"Who are you?" The woman demanded with narrowed eyes of intent, the wound in her stomach not hindering her and Clare had no illusion that if Miria wanted her dead, she would be.
"Miria, who the hell is she?" Helen growled though her pain interrupting Clare before she could reply. "She just took that awakened out like he was nothing!" Miria did not reply as she remained tense waiting for any reason to claim Clare's life.
"Is this how claymores treat someone who has saved their life?" Clare spoke softly and turned her head to stare more directly at her captor. Miria hesitated but after a moment lowering her blade and took a step back. Clare used the opportunity to sheath her claymore in the holster on her back under her cloak and then turned to leave. She did not get more then a few steps before Miria halted her, this time with a hand on her shoulder.
"I will allow you to keep your life for what you have done here; but I can't allow you to keep your secrets. Tell me the meaning of why 'she' sent you here." Miria demanded. Clare was at a loss for a moment, she had never been told not to speak of Riful's plans but she suspected that was because Riful never expected her to be asked about them. Clare had questions of her own and this was the perfect opportunity to get answers.
"Very will I will tell you." Clare glanced at Miria that turned to face her completely. "But in exchange you will answer my own questions." Miria considering until she gave a nod of agreement.
"Acceptable, now tell me what she is planning." Miria sheathed her own blade and crossed her arms waiting for the answer.
"A war is coming. The abyssal of the north is preparing to move south and he has amassed a considerable army. Very soon the lands will be thrown into chaos as the abyssal of the south defends her territory. Riful in anticipation of this is collecting allies to form her own army in hopes of defeating this invasion. If they are not defeated and the abyssal of the north conquers the south there is no telling the damage his army would inflict on the land and its people." Clare explained to the best of her knowledge and reasoned she had not revealed anything the leaders of the organization did not already know. Miria considered this for some time as Helen stared on clearly not understanding what was being discussed.
"I can not believe an abyssal would go out of their way simply to defend a land and its people." Miria spoke slowly. "What is she really planning?"
"In the event she gathers a strong enough army she plans to claim the head of both the north and south abyssal while they are weakened from combat." Clare stated simply, with logic and reason she was sure Miria would have come to the same conclusion regardless if she said anything or not. Miria looked suddenly distressed not likening what she was hearing.
"I have answered your question, now you will answer mine." Clare demanded and Miria looked defensive but didn't deny her. "You and theses two have displayed unusual abilities. How is that possible? Regeneration and body manipulation of that level is only achievable after awakening." Miria couldn't look less happy at that particular question and stared hard a Clare for a time.
"I cannot give you a definitive answer to that question but I'll gave give you my theory. You are correct, our unique ability are akin to that of an awakened beings but as you can see we are not awakened. I believe that sometime in out pasts we experienced a half awakening." Miria replied.
"A half awakening?"
"A half awaken is when someone awakens but dose not lose their mind. In my past I crossed my limit but somehow I was able to suppress it and return to normal. After that the quality of my yoki powers was completely different, it wasn't limited as it was before. So it leads me to believe I have already awoken but I have yet to lose my mind." Miria spoke and drew a gasp from her companion.
"You mean, you as well?" Helen asked perplexed.
"Yes, I believe all three of us must have awoken. That is why we where sent here to die." Miria replied.
"What do you mean sent here to die?" Helen demanded angrily and Clare too was most interested in the answer.
"You saw it yourself. We where no match for him. He was waiting for us to arrive almost as if he was told we would come. There is no doubt in my mind that the organization wished for us to fall here today." Miria explained and caused Helen to gawk in disbelief.
"I see the organization has not changed." Clare spoke softy then turned her head looking off into the distance with a scow. She was being sensed out by someone extremely far away. It was at the limit of her own range so she could not clearly read them. However she felt their surprise at being discovered. There was no reply from the others to her statement but a pained gasp sounded from Deneve as she came too. Clare's focus on the spy succeeded in scaring them off as she felt their yoki vanish.
"Deneve! Hey hold still your practically a gonner." Helen cautioned as Deneve sat up.
"You don't need to tell me something I already know." Deneve laughed slightly amused and grit her teeth. "I was listening to what you Miria was saying about awakening, if that's true that we can return to normal then if I cross my limit now maybe I can heal this wound before it kills me. If I don't I'm dead anyway."
"What are you talking about." Helen questioned and both her and Miria gasped as Deneve released her yoki power unrestrained. Clare watched on silently startled as flashbacks assaulted her. She had seen something like this before when Pricilla had killed Teresa, that thought along made Clare's hand instantly reach for the hilt of her blade.
"Wait!" Miria demanded moving between Clare and Deneve creating a human shield. "There's a chance she can turn back." Care stared at her with resolute eyes as each moment Deneve's yoki expanded.
"If I awaken fully don't hesitate to kill me." Deneve commanded as her limit was about to pass. Helen in distress managed to stand and prepare her blade to take Deneve's head as instructed. Clare for her part remained where she was and held tightly to her blade waiting and fearing the outcome. She had watched and waited and suddenly it climaxed, she was unprepared for it.
Deneve had passed her limit and just before her head could be claimed her yoki vanished retuning her to normal, her wound fully closed. Miria and Helen looked relived and turned to share their relief with Deneve about the impressive feat she had just preformed. Clare had yet to release her blade unable to believe what she had witnessed.
'What.. what just happened.' Clare's mind reeled for an answer but only Miria's previous words about half awakening filled her ears. Memories flashed though her mind of Pricilla facing off against Teresa, she had been past her limit yet… not awakened. Could she too have turned back if she wanted to, was Teresa's death something that could have been prevented? Clare did not like this train of thought, she didn't like it at all as old wounds began to open. No, she had to stop thinking about this, at least till Riful was by her side to provide her with answers or comfort.
"If the organization wants you dead, they will not stop at this." Clare spoke over her shoulder as she turned to leave. "You would be wise to abandon your loyalty for them"
"Wait." Miria called stopping Clare before she could walk away. "Tell me one more thing. Why do you server the abyssal." Clare considered the question for a moment before continuing walking away.
"There is no reason for you to know that." Clare declined the answer and was not hindered again as she walked into the distance.
"Who the hell was that." Helen growled staring after Clare who was no longer in sight.
"I don't know. But I intend to find out." Miria spoke with a hard gaze.
"Well whoever she is I think she has a point about one thing." Deneve sat up still weak from her partial awakening. "If the organization dose intend to kill us what are we suppose to do?" Miria considered Denve's words a moment before looking back in the direction Clare had left. There where options here she had never considered before, but options that where to insane to imagine. No for now they would play it safe… at least until a time when only the most reckless act would save them.
"We return to our assigned regions and speak nothing of what we know." Miria began to brief the other two on the plan. In the back of her mind she hoped she would cross paths with Clare again, and this time she would get the unanswered question.
End Chapter 5