Author's Note: I wrote this oneshot years ago. I figured I might as well post this little story of mine at some point. Here seemed to be the best place. So now this story has turned into a series of fantasy oneshots.
Summary: Kaoru was running, heading to the only exit she knew. Then the roof exploded. Alternative Universe.
Warning: some swearing and unedited
Status: Complete... I think.
She was running. Her feet beat a hastened cadence as she raced along the rooftop's edge. Cloaked in darkness, Kaoru had to rely on starlight to guide her steps. Her left hand clutched her broken ribs; her other arm, dislocated at the shoulder, flopped uselessly against her right side courtesy of a skirmish with the shogun's men.
Drawing in a deep breath, Kaoru grimaced at the resulting flare-up of pain from her left side. One of the shogun's men had fists as strong as iron. If her lung had been punctured, she didn't have much time. She cursed the day she was handed this assignment. She was beginning to understand just why the pay had been double her normal asking price. They were sending her on a suicide mission.
Of course that wasn't how they described the mission to her. No, the well-dressed men said it would be a fairly simple and straightforward mission. Go in and grab a scroll from an informant on the inside. The reason they were willing to pay double her normal rate was they were on deadline and needed someone who could work quickly and quietly.
Kaoru's instincts had protested that they were keeping something from her, but she was in desperate need of some cash. She couldn't live on salted crackers and peanut butter forever. She hesitantly accepted. Then they told her the specifics of the mission she had signed up for.
She would be sneaking into the shogun's personal headquarters located at the very top of a steep plateau. She had to do it without back-up and without getting caught. A dangerous mission but not impossible.
Kaoru excelled in subterfuge; as a mage who specialized in illusions and manipulations spells, Kaoru was adept at getting in and out of places without being seen. In fact, getting into the headquarters had been a cinch. A few carefully woven spells and she had a guard unknowingly escorting her under the mistaken belief that she was his paid companion for the evening. A basic sleep spell then knocked him conscious and left her free to head to the meeting place unhindered.
That's when it all went to shit.
No one was supposed to have been at the temple besides a few stray priests that the shogun kept around for scrying the smoke and interpreting ruins and the informant with the scroll. Instead, she found two legions of armed soldiers waiting for her arrival. Worse, she hadn't realized the trap they had set until moments before they attacked. If she hadn't been cloaked so deep in defense spells and illusions she would be dead now.
As it was, her breathing was labored, her right arm was useless, and she was running low on magic. Only the thin remnants of a darkness spell kept her invisible to the eyes of the guards while the rest of her magic was focused on attempting to heal her wounds. A difficult process considering she wasn't much of a healer. Her only real option was to keep running. If she was caught by the enemy, things would only get worse. She heard rumors that the shogun was a demented man who derived pleasure at the pain of others. She didn't want to risk finding out if the rumors were true.
Already, she could hear the men rousing from their tents. News of her break-in and the skirmish in the great temple was no doubt was spreading among the camp's occupants. Mages lit fire orbs to illuminate the dark sky and soldiers stumbled out of their tents struggling to slip into their armor. She crouched low to lean over the side of the roof. She didn't want to risk getting too close to the shogun's men in case one of the mages was skilled in sensing ki but at the same time it would help to know what she was up against.
She couldn't make out all the words the head captain said but the words Griffins and mage-hunters managed to catch her ears. Looks like things had already gotten worse. Even at full strength, her magic and illusions spells would never fool a creature as powerful as a Griffin. And mage-hunters would be able to use such a beast to track her by her magic. If they caught her, they would strip her of her abilities and essentially killing her in the process. Lovely.
If Kaoru did manage to escape, she was hunting down the pompous ass who hired her without mentioning important details about things like Griffins or mage-hunters. Even her vow not to kill wouldn't stop her from pounding her fist into the man's skull a few dozen times.
Kaoru started running again, heading towards the one exit she knew. She jumped over two guards stationed ahead of her, ignoring the painful spike in her side as she did so. Her illusion spell kept her landing soundless and any wind they would have felt as she passed would be disregarded as a passing breeze.
She turned a corner sharply and nearly collided with another soldier who just arrived on the roof. She spun on her heel and avoided touching him but it came at a price. Her broken rib screamed in protest and her hold on the darkness spell began to waver. She saw the man's eyes widen in confusion as the air around her glimmered, a side effect of her illusion fighting to stay superimposed over reality.
When he opened his mouth to alert the others, she disabled him with a quick blow to his temple. He crumbled against the roof. She didn't want to have to kill him. She had seen enough bloodshed in her time to abhor the practice so she left him where he lay and continued to the gates.
Only now her escape route was covered by thrice the amount of guards it normally had. Frowning, she slowed her pace, quickly searching for any other potential exits. Her only other option was to scale the wall. The wall itself wasn't above her reach, but the fortress rested on a steep plateau which meant that beyond that section of the wall was nothing but air. She doubted that she had any of the necessary skills or spells to offset the nasty fall that would result. Her best bet was the gate, even if it was well guarded.
Taking in a deep breath, she increased her speed to the closest thing to a sprint she could manage. She needed to make this quick. She summoned her magic into her hands as her mouth carefully whispered the words to weave together a chaos spell to launch at the guards. It was risky to form such a great spell with reserves so low but she had no other options left. Halfway into forming the spell, her illusion protection fell away.
"On the roof! The intruder is on the roof!"
Kaoru swore under her breath and sharply changed directions. Just in time too. A rather large and nasty fire spell blew away the portion of the roof she had been standing on. The mage responsible was quickly forming another blast to send her way. And a quick glance told her that the guards by the gate had heard the shout and were readying their weapons.
Kaoru let out a frustrated growl changing her direction midair. Looks like she had just lost her escape route. There was no way she could battle her way through the number of troops stationed there.
Even so, she launched the fully formed chaos spell at the gate. The effect was immediate. Doused in the smoke of her spell, a haze of confusion had taken hold of the soldiers' minds. They began fighting amongst themselves turning their weapons on one another in a bloody frenzy. They were no longer able to distinguish friend from foe.
Even so, Kaoru knew the chaos spell wouldn't last for much longer. A quick counter-spell by one of the mages on the ground and the guards would awaken from their confusion and turn their focus on her once again. She couldn't risk being in their midst when that happened. Instead, she angled her body towards the outer wall.
'Please let this work, she thought desperately, channeling her magic into a speed spell to gain momentum before vaulting her body over the wall, hopefully beyond the reach of the guards. As her body cleared the wall, she smiled. Step one complete. As her body began its descent, her hands reached into her side pocket and pull out an old scroll she hoped she would never need. And one she hoped would have the power to save her life.
Sano had given the scroll to her years ago with the instruction to only use it in extreme emergencies. And this definitely constituted as an emergency. The ink on the scroll was old, from old magic most likely, and Kaoru struggled with the ancient words. She had gotten through most of it when she stumbled on a word she hadn't anticipated.
It was then she realized that the "protection scroll" was actually a contract. She would be making a blood pact. Cursing her luck and Sano's stupidity, she knew she didn't have much choice. She was running out of time before she hit the ground. She swiped the cut on her forehead and pressed the blood from her fingers unto the paper. The black words on the page began to glow and she watched in horror as the paper began to disappear.
A second later, she followed.
Kenshin stepped out of the bar to grab some air. The alleyway was empty and offered him a brief chance of solitude. His wings itched for freedom, but he kept them tightly reigned in beneath his skin. He didn't want to risk having to deal with the consequences should someone stumble across him. Although magic was widely accepted, demons were rare in the modern day and age. Most of his kind tended to stick to the shadows and let mankind forget they ever existed in the first place.
Kenshin however chose to mingle with the mortals. At one time, he believed there was still hope for humanity. He stayed behind to protect them from the dangers of immortal creatures who wished to prey on their vulnerability. Yet in the last hundred years since the first magical nexus was discovered, the world had erupted into chaos.
Humans begin to bicker over claims to the nexuses. The bickering turned to fighting and fighting turned to war. The countless mage wars that followed in quick succession led him to a new belief and conviction. Humans were becoming much too dangerous to be left unattended. Kenshin remained to keep an eye over the foolish mortals and to keep them from wandering too far into the dark arts.
But as he leaned against the brick wall of the bar, he knew that his task came at a cost. He was an outcast from his own kind. He mingled among mortals but never was one of them. He could never reveal his true existence without risk. The blood of a demon such as himself would fetch a high price on the black market. And although he doubted anyone would succeed. Humans were still new to magic; he was not. Even his own people knew to fear him. He was the Battousai, the demon of the two blades.
It was then that a woman fell from the sky.
The sudden appearance of ki above him and scent of magic in the air had him summoning his twin blades in an instant as his face automatically snapped upward to gauge the threat. But that particular scent of magic and the presence of the spell that accompanied… it seemed strangely familiar.
Eyes widening, he dispelled his swords. Full black wings snapped open behind him. Quickly he leapt to catch her. The soft impact as she landed in his arms caused her to wince and let out a quick hiss of pain. Golden eyes quickly scanned her body for injuries. One arm was clearly out of commission but he was willing to bet that she had other injuries hidden beneath her clothes.
He landed as gently as he could. When she tried to remove herself from his grasp, his hold tightened, not enough to hurt her but enough to let her know that escape wasn't an option. Blue eyes turned to glare at him. But before her pert mouth could snap off a reply that was surely on her tongue, he interrupted.
"Who are you?" he demanded as his eyes narrowed in on her slender form, "and why do you carry my spell?"