Take What Is Yours

Ch 36 Aloft

Five minutes ago...

Akasha and Moka appeared in a flare of black fire just one mile away from a tall castle nestled in the crook of a mountainous alley. Trees, thick and sturdy, swayed with the evening wind, pulling at their hair and clothes.

Moka inspected her surroundings curiously.

"Mother?"

"Wait, my daughter," Akasha's piercing green eyes sought out high into the sky, seeing beyond the misty clouds. "He's coming."

"Who?"

"You'll see soon enough." She touched her daughter's arm in a show of support. "Are you prepared, Moka? This whole event was created to entertain the vampire clans with your punishment. All I can promise you is that you will see Tsukune, and I will do what I can within the boundaries I have with the other Clan Heads. They aren't happy with me as it is. I am sure, this night, I will be acting more as the Dark Lord than Queen."

Moka pulled at her hair near her hip, looking about the land itself as if to find answers in its nightly shadows.

"I just want to see Tsukune again, Mother. I don't know what to do after that."

"Be brave, Moka." Akasha sighed, unable to encourage her with facts or falsehoods. Reality and vampire customs were against them both. "Even if you fail, be yourself. Even a failure in love was still able to enjoy love."

"But...when its gone?" Moka mumbled, unclear as to what her mother was trying to tell her.

"Then you find another." Akasha opened her fingers to Moka, "It's time, Moka."

"I don't want another." Moka accepted, holding onto her mother with a tight grip.

"Then you will be alone."

The spell cast, the duo disappeared.

xxx

Inside Castle Akashiya

"Welcome home, Mother Akasha and Moka."

The separate gouts of fire erupted on top of the castle, greeted by four elegant guards and one petite red headed with emerald green eyes and pig tails.

"Kokoa imotou?" Omote Moka lips turned to smile at her little sister, but that grace fell when she noticed the austere, thin lipped countenance of someone that had recently turned on her since her admission of infidelity.

"Do not call out to me so informally, Aono Moka." Kokoa announced, regarding her once beloved elder sister that she had once lavished her affections on. Now, there was simply a young vampire fulfilling a duty with an emotional distance usually seen by strangers.

Akasha's eyes shifted left and then right, then glancing briefly behind her shoulder. "Thank you for the escort, Shuzen Kokoa, but I believe Moka and I can arrive at the Hall of Shadows without you."

Kokoa's eyes were hard, her lips pressed tight as she looked up to the Queen of Vampires. "It would be against the orders given to me by Gyokuro, Mother Akasha. Please, this way."

Two of the handsome elite opened the door, gesturing inside with unfriendly smiles.

"So be it," Akasha took her place in front of Moka, but that was where she had made her first mistake.

Two guards stood their ground between Akasha and Moka, gripping Moka by her wrists and forcing them behind her back. A third was about to slap a tag on Moka's forehead, but Akasha was quick, snatching his hand and twisting it, to look at the paper rune.

"It's a teleportation rune." Akasha twisted harder, making the young vampire's wrist splinter in her grip. "Where does it go to?"

"The Hall." Kokoa called out, intervening. "We have a special place for Moka that you, as the Queen Of Vampires, are to witness and, if you wish, to defend, but, as of now, you can't dismiss her crimes against our kind without a proper trial."

"You're going to-"

"Yes, in front of everyone, Mother Akasha." Kokoa confirmed with a straight gaze.

"Mother," Moka hiccuped, her large fearful green eyes darting from one guard to the next.

Their smiles were sinister.

Akasha gazed about the ceiling, as if trying to pierce the very stone and mortar for what she sought.

"So be it," She spoke, knowing in her heart this trial was going to take place. She had hoped it wouldn't be in such a barbaric way, but, as she mentioned earlier, this would be done as the position of Queen versus that of Mother or Dark Lord.

Moka was about to say cry, it was obvious as the whimper that left her lips, but it took one look at the younger sister's appraising gaze for her to realize how far she, as a vampire and elder sister had fallen.

"It's good to see you again, Kokoa-chan."

The brittle smile Moka gave her itmotou barely registered on her sister's face.

"Mother Akasha?" Kokoa turned to face Moka's mother, glancing purposely at the tag in the hand of the guard Akasha still held in her perfect grip.

With little emotion, Akasha released the hand. Giving Moka one last gaze, she voiced what she had earlier with just a look.

Be brave.

Freed, the guard slapped the tag on Moka's head. A fiery pulse surrounded her, dissolving her into a flurry of smaller shadows that disappeared like smokey confetti.

xxx

From the grand hall, a cheer, an uproar, a loud reverberating echo of applause reached Tsukune's ears. Something dark and cold ran down his spine, like a ghostly touch of a predator about to pounce.

As much as he wanted to deny it, in his heart, Tsukune knew Moka had just made her appearance. Why? He had only had one thing to ask himself to confirm his hypothesis: What would stir a throng of vampires into such a noisy frenzy?

Entertainment by blood.

Then it hit him, among the scents he was assaulted with, there it was...barely discernible through the mass of other aromas present, her's was there just as he had remembered its fragrance when they last held the other.

Before his death.

He tried not to think about that moment, considering everything that he was about to be presented with concerning Gin's website and her pregnancy, but there was no denying that look in her eyes before everything went black.

She was feeling his pain when he was being torn, she begged him to know she loved him, she pleaded with him to forgive her. Everything she said, every word uttered, including their last conversation at his mom's house over the phone, made him teeter on the apex of what he should do, if he was to do anything. Everything that had happened, everything that she now endured was brought about by her actions. Just as he had to suffer his choices, this was a result of her own.

When he could see past the heads of the crowd gathered, he only had to direct his eyes where theirs were lingering with delight to find her.

Up.

"Moka..."

xxx

Down.

They were all down there, staring at her, giggling behind fans or gloved fingers. She could see their fangs peek through their mocking grins or smirks, each one a measured contort of disgust or antipathy. Every now and then someone would show the slightest bit of pity. Was that the most she would get at this moment of her life?

Pity?

Moka had only to look to her right and to her left to see her wrist were bound by shackles connected to the heavy raw cut bough that dangled from the chain attached to the ceiling. Her feet and legs were wrapped with wire, barbed wire. It bit into her skin just enough to cut but hardly enough to bleed, less she move. While she offered no complaint aloud, she didn't need to wondered what it meant to be in this kind of position, hovering over them all as a chandelier with torches lit at the cross linked lumber supporting her in mid air staring down.

Yes, for the start of tonight's entertainment, she had been crucified.

Naked, her pink hair loosely draped over her face to give her the tiniest bit of modesty, Aono Moka searched the faces, each one offering another form aversion to her maternal state or whispered word of her smell.

They all pointed, especially towards the showing bump low on her abdomen.

She could hear their snickers, their gasps when word spread of what she was carrying inside of her.

Disease, cancer, germ, and, above all, abomination were used often enough that it sounded like overlapping variations of another. Only the different tones of their disgust wavered. Among the faces, she saw her sisters Kahlua and Kokoa. Kokoa kept her gaze straight forward and stoic. Whatever love the youngest Shuzen had for her was now lost somewhere in eyes that were as ashamed as the rest of the crowd gathered. Kahlua offered her a serene gaze of acceptance. This was their life, one that they had been warned about since birth. Even she, the ditzy bumbling blonde knew that.

Kahlua offered her a friendly wave and smile, as if this was just another day or event and Moka's punishment was just some kind of small thing to not be taken seriously.

Among the smoke, the candle light, the beautifully decorated bodies moving over each other in a graceful dance and social chatter, she got the hint of a scent she had been looking for since she had last heard his voice over the phone.

Her head shot up, looking about, almost in a panic.

He was there, but where?

Left, right, down, her neck jerked to even try and look behind her, but he wasn't there. A few chuckles and ill mannered comments made her way, but it didn't matter.

Where was he?

Where was her...

It was his stride, even if it was just the darkness of his shadow. She knew it, oh, how she knew it was him. From the length of his legs, the taper of his waist, the hands that had touched her and held her so lovingly, so carefully, to the shoulders that she had leaned against, had fell asleep on, and then, from his chin, to his mouth, to his nose and his eyes.

There he was, right before her, alive, staring at her, knowing where she was before she knew where he was.

Her beloved had come to her, witnessing the deepest pit of her shame, and all she could think about was how happy she was that he was alive.

"Tsukune..."

Before she could raise her voice, in the middle of the raised dais underneath her, Gyokuro presented herself, prowling the floor with that hint of a smile that was demeaning and prideful beyond words. With a lift of her fine hand, the crowd quieted.

It was time to begin.