Hi everyone! I'd just like to inform you that I am NOT discontinuing anything (except maybe my Pokémon story…). I was just having a bit of a stump when it came to actually writing. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story!

Disclaimer: I do not own Claymore

Chapter 3

As Artum and Kari were traveling through the plains Kari's stomach began to growl. "Are you hungry?" Artum inquired, though his question was already answered by Kari's traitorous stomach

"Huh? Oh yes." Kari replied, "We have gone a whole day and a half without eating since we left yesterday… so it is normal for me to be hungry now." She speculated

Artum took out his sword and threw it to the side. In went right through a crocodile that happened to be behind them, instantly killing it. Kari simply looked behind to see what they would be eating, not even fazed at Artum's sudden movement. "Is that okay?" he inquired while thinking to himself, 'She seems quite used to obtaining food like this…'

"It'll do fine!" Kari replied happily, unknowing of Artum's observation of her

Kari and Artum took refuge within a forest; Kari promptly began to roast the crocodile over their fire like a pig. While it was cooking, Kari went out to get some water. When she returned she overlooked the crocodile and stated, "It's done. It may not look very good, but it should still taste just fine." As she ripped off a piece of the meat, Artum quietly agreed with her. "Here, this is Artum's." Kari stated as she offered a leg to Artum.

"Thank you."

"We won't have to worry about food for a while if we dry the left overs." Kari speculated. Kari sat down in front of Artum and began to eat. Artum watched Kari quickly eat up her meal, but he also noticed that Kari was eating less than a normal human would in her condition. Once his observation was over he began to take a few bites from his meat and set it down when he finished a few bites. Kari noticed Artum's actions but said nothing about it.

Artum was curious now, "You are not surprised by my eating ways?" he inquired. Any normal human would be.

But then again, Kari was far from normal. "Hm? No, not really. I mean, my father ate about that much too. And it's not like I eat a great amount myself." Kari explained, "While I was with my foster family, eating three meals a day made me feel bloated most of the time."

Artum nodded in understanding. The two sat in an awkward silence for a bit, not knowing what to say. Artum suddenly stood up and began to walk away, "Ah. Artum, where are you going?" Kari inquired, somewhat worried.

Artum simply gave an insuring smile and said, "I simply need to take care of something." And promptly walked away.

Kari didn't really understand what Artum said but understood that she was not to follow him. Once Artum was no longer in sight, she grew bored. Kari heard a sound behind her, rustling leaves. "Hello?" she called. Again the sound echoed, as if calling for her. Against her better judgment, Kari followed the sound. What she found was a small clearing, just big enough for herself and the bag left in the center. On the bag was a note addressed to her. "Father's handwriting!" Kari exclaimed as she quickly took the note and began to read.

My dear child,

It is good to see that you are well. Surprising to see you are in the company of a 'Claymore', as they are called. But I am glad you are in good hands nonetheless. I have heard of what happened to you at the town I left you in and I am sorry I was not around to prevent it. I, unfortunately, cannot spend more time with you since the male you are traveling with brings company I cannot be seen by, but I wished to leave you the supplies you would need for your travels. Within the bag I have left you is about a year's worth of your medicine; you should be fine as long as you take the medicine properly. I also wanted you to know that I will be watching over you much more often now and will help you whenever this 'Artum' cannot. But I implore you to, under no circumstance, reveal your medicine or this note to your new 'friend'. I know you will not understand why I am asking you of this, but please do as I ask. It is for both your safety and my own.

Until we can truly be together again, my child


Kari checked the bag and found that her father was right. Inside were three semi-large bottles that she could easily fit into her current bag without Artum noticing. Though she was indeed confused with why her father demanded secrecy, she had long since learned that her father only made decisions if he believed they would be in her best interest. Kari quickly turned back to the campsite and hid the bottles within her bag. Once they were secure, Kari took a piece of paper and wrote a note to her father saying thank you and that she was glad that he was, at least secretly, back and hoped his mission was successful. Once she was done, Kari took the note back to the bag she had not choice but to leave behind for her father to find. With that done, all was left was to wait for Artum's return.

Artum was walking through the forest looking for someone. "Right here." A voice called, it was Ruvuru leaning against the tree behind Artum. "Artum… this is strange." Ruvuru stated "Why do you have a kid with you? She will only interfere."

"She's only a cook. She won't interfere." Artum replied, not even looking at Ruvuru

Ruvuru laughed, "A cook? That sounds very human of you." He then had a smirk on his face, "Is it because of the similarity between your situations? Or the curiosity she represents?"

"Did you bring it?" Artum inquired, becoming impatient.

"Yes. It's new." Ruvuru answered, as proof he threw a whole new armor set at Artum's feet. Artum unshackled his armor and quickly took it off. "Look this way, Artum." Artum still had his back to Ruvuru. Artum turned and showed his wound to Ruvuru as the man checked his wound over. "You've lost your mind. Don't forget that if this sealed and rather serious wound is hit again, you can die with the monster. And there are no problems with the other thing?"

"No, everything is fine for now." Artum replied.

Artum turned and began to put his armor back on. "What if… the girl saw your body?" Ruvuru speculated, "What would she think?" Artum didn't respond, only shackled his armor back on. "Curiosity has its limits. If you get too emotional, you'll only hurt yourself." Ruvuru warned as he turned away. "Ah. I brought something for you." This had Artum's attention. Ruvuru took out a black envelope.

Artum was stunned. "A Black Letter…? What?"

"It's the opposite of you… Someone unreliable has appeared." Ruvuru tossed the letter at Artum's chest, "You can read the details yourself." At that Ruvuru walked away from Artum's stunned form

Artum's hands trembled as he opened the letter. Inside was a single black card with a large symbol on it. Artum's eyes widened, he knew this symbol.

Kari was waiting at the campsite. Now starting to get worried about Artum. 'He's taking so long… what if he's hurt?' At that moment, Artum stepped onto the clearing. "Artum!" Kari cried, relief pouring off her. That is, until she saw how serious Artum looked.

"We are going to the mountains tomorrow." Artum announced, "And I want to leave early." Kari could only nod.

The sun was high up in the air by the time the two arrived to the mountains. The entire time Artum was silent. Kari finally managed to bring her courage to ask, "Artum? Are we killing a Yoma today?"

Artum paused, "No." he replied, "The mission is to kill what you people call a Claymore."

Kari was shocked, "What? Why?"

"My kind is half monster and half human." Artum started, "We have to use our human intelligence to control our monster strength to survive. Simply put, we are human heads on monster bodies. But even though we are half monster half human, we stand on the human side to slay monsters as our goal. We are the humans' best tools. Up until now, there was no way to match monsters' powers but to use their powers against themselves." Artum explained, "But there is a big problem: a half monster half human… will eventually become a monster."

"Eh?" Kari exclaimed, beginning to wonder which her father was.

"It doesn't interfere with daily activities." Artum explained, "But if we have to use the monster's powers, then our bodies tend to be more monster-like. The human emotions and monster instincts battle each other from within. When the human emotions lose, the monster's strength will take over. To prevent this, our organization has this system." At this moment, Artum took out the black letter, "This is known as the Black Letter."

Kari opened the letter to find the symbol, "Eh? This mark… is similar to what's on your neck and sword…" she realized

Artum nodded, "When we are on missions, we are our own symbol. This is to represent the person's name, to help identify each other." Artum took out his claymore, "And…" he took out the tip of his grip and another Black Letter came out. "There's a letter inside each of our swords. We know the limits of our human emotions. We know we will become monsters one day. When that time comes… we think 'I want to die…as a human'. That's why we will place the Black Letter in the hands of the person we want to die most from."

Kari's eyes widened in realization, "Then… the owner of this Black Letter… is Artum's…" she began

"Her name is Elena. She joined the organization at the same time as me. After we joined, whenever it got tough we used to cheer each other on, when our bodies became half monster half human, when the pain was unbearable, we used to embrace each other to sleep. And…" Artum didn't get to finish; the sound of a metal footstep was heard near them. A beautiful girl with fine blond hair, a somewhat wide forehead, and a kind and gentle smile on her face approached them.

"Long time no see… Artum." She welcomed

"Elena," Artum called, "You haven't changed… it's just like old times…" he commented, "I thought your face would curve a bit more."

"You're so mean." Elena called back, "In order to meet you… How long has it been...? Even if it was a long time ago, it feels like it was just yesterday… There should only be a painful past, but seeing you again… I can only remember the happy times." Kari seemed to only be able to stare at the girl, "I started missions later than you, but I've lost my spirit earlier than you. I'm such a loser…"

Kari started to shake her head, "No…" she whispers, unable to accept what Artum is about to do.

"I always thought that with the monsters' powers, I could get stronger. But with a monster inside, one must have a strong human will…" Elena's body was beginning to curve, veins were popping up all round her body and face. "That's why… I beg you. Hurry… while I still have a human heart." Elena was even beginning to tear up

Kari couldn't hold herself, she ran up to Artum crying "No Artum! Don't do this! You're friends!"

Kari continued to beg Artum not to kill Elena, but Elena simply called "Artum…" and Artum knew what he had to do. Without hesitation, Artum cut through Elena's body. Giving a swift and as painless a death as he could to his comrade. "Thank you… Artum…" Elena said as she fell to the ground. Like a true warrior, Elena died while still gripping her sword.

Artum and Kari held a funeral for Elena that was standard for the Claymores. They buried Elena's body and dug her sword on top to symbolize that Elena's body was there. The only one crying for the funeral was Kari. Artum was silent for most of the funeral. It was only after Elena's sword was placed that he spoke. "Elena… she joined the organization at the same time as me." He started, "After we joined, whenever it got tough we used to cheer each other on. When our bodies became half monster half human, when the pain was unbearable, we used to embrace each other to sleep. And… most importantly… to a person who joined the organization at a young age… she was the only friend in my life." He finally admitted, a look of sorrow on his face as he silently said his goodbyes to his only friend