Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine. But this story is.


Vindico

~ by RC Mason ~


1
Fallen hero with your exhausted powers,

In the shadows, I wait for hours.


It was on the fourth hour of the fourth day of the fourth month that he was appointed to die.

The lots had been cast, the prayers offered to the gods, and when the copper die left the chanting priest's hands, they landed with harsh clunks on the cold stone floor and rolled to their sides to scream: four! four! four!

(and the crowd cried: die! die! die!)

Shackled to the damp dungeon walls below, with the iron chafing the pale skin at his wrists and ankles, it was these copper die, not the roaring approval of the crowd, that he heard. They echoed away, long after they fell, into the hollow chambers of his mind like funeral bells

(paving a way to hell).

The rough stonework bit into his back as he leant his head against the wall, his raven black hair spilling over the eyes that were the same colour of the sunset that he would never again see. He drew a level breath in, inhaling the rotting dampness of the place, and let it out in a cool, delicate mist that traced the smoothness of his jaw, which hinted of the ancient aristocratic bloodline that ran through his veins. After a couple more languid breaths, it appeared that he was


'Sleeping!' snorted the guard, jabbing a fleshy finger over his shoulder. He was a hulk of heavy muscle, and he leered down at the unassuming girl before him, flexing the tendons in his shoulders as if to scare her off.

The cherry lips, like a china doll's, pressed into a firm line.

'I would still like to see him.'

The voice was quiet, almost meek as it came from under the bowed head and downcast eyes, but there was a slicing edge to it, the barest trace of a fierce determination that cut the air and held it to a deadly ransom.

The sneering corners of the guard's mouth turned downwards and the lazy mockery vanished from his eyes, replaced instead with the brawny scowl he wore whenever his Authority was challenged. He thrust his right forearm forward, letting the jagged tattoo, an angry black circle with eight barbed wire stokes clawing over to his biceps, catch light from the flickering torches that hung by the dank walls of the dungeon.

'I'm a Sentry of the Alliance,' he proclaimed, arrogance propelling him to thrust his huge chest forward as well. It bulged against the black leather of the Sentry uniform, and he could not resist making a slow and deliberate show of placing a bear-like hand on the hilt of the glinting broadsword that hung from his belt.

Black water dripped from the ceiling, a dull thudding beat to a music that was not there.

The silence was submission to him, of course; the silly girl had finally understood who she was talking to and- why had his grip on his sword tightened?

'I'm a Blessèd Survivor,' she said finally, slipping it in smoothly like a serpent between covers.

She pushed back the sleeves of her dusky grey fur coat like unfolding a nightmare, revealing a small blood-red tattoo on the soft underside of her delicate wrist. It was shaped almost like a pearly teardrop.

Blood rushed to his beefy face, the tanned and weathered skin not enough to hide the purple that swelled across his bulbous cheeks, colouring his face like a great livid bruise.

Then, with a snap of fabric, it was gone, and she stood there, as meek and unassuming as ever, her hands folded neatly in front of her, her eyes covered by the thick fringe of hair

that was blue.

In the dingy darkness, he had assumed it was a peculiar shade of black, but it was as though the blood-drop tattoo had opened his eyes to everything that was strange about her. The hair that beckoned of squalls and strife, of stormy seas and tempest sky; the scars that drew jagged shapes on her hands and the calluses that filled them in; and the fact that she had dared to wander here all the way in and all the way alone …

A muscle spasm on his jaw and words spat out.

'Five minutes.'

'Fifteen.'

He clenched his fists and his wide nostrils flared out like a bellowing bull's. The rot of the place seeped into his nose and he was maddened suddenly by the outrageousness of it all. Stationed in the underground depths of a deserted prison with only one prisoner, not seeing daylight for days on end, cold all the time, the dampness always managing to find its way into his boots, and, now, badgered by some stranger with no other feat or claim to importance than being the lucky sole survivor of a village that had meddled in the old crafts and had it all coming-

Then, in a cold sweat that he would never admit, he realised that he could no longer see her hands.

'Fifteen then.' The words had shot out of his mouth and he flushed darkly again.

'Alone too.'

Now, the words sounded condescending and, in his mind, seemed to smile lewdly at him, exposing a long red devilish tongue smacking against small pointed teeth. Yet, the girl looked innocuous enough, still standing a few feet away and completely motionless as if she had not spoken at all.

Half-blind with rage, he curled his lips back to remind this girlie exactly who she was talking to – and he remembered

who laid chained behind these bars

(devil, demon, fiend)

and he brought his lips back to bare his fangs in a smile of his own.

'Sure,' he said courteously, dropping the words like dripping poison. 'In fact,' he said as he produced a large shiny brass key out of a hidden pocket tucked beneath the layers of his tunic, a key that gleamed in the same way that his eyes gleamed, 'I might get some lunch after all. You can be in there for a whole hour. By yourself.'

The girl made no motion, her long hair cascading down her hunched shoulders, a perfect blue veil, so he sniffed the dank air, looking for the emotion that he was so finely attuned to. (fear).

He smiled.

He thrust the brass key into the heavy lock and, with an exaggerated bow, gestured the girl in.

She hesitated but only for a bit. Those hunched shoulders straightened and she took the step in, dirty boots leaving entrails of mud and debris on the stone floor.

No sooner had she done so, there was a resounding clang of metal and a victorious swish of the key.

'Have fun,' his black eyes were dancing behind the locked bars. 'Oh, and, if you need anything, don't forget to scream.' He had leaned in close for the last word, his voice dropping to hushed whisper, as if telling a dirty secret, and his breath tickling the hairs on the back of her neck.

His steps had a light spring as he strode down the windowless corridor, almost forgetting, for the first time in months, of the dampness that chewed at his thick socks and the blister that was festering at his heel.

He flung his head back, the fires catching this sudden movement and throwing his shadow against the coarsely cut walls, transforming it into a gigantic grotesque monster that laughed and laughed, its cackling echoing to the very end of the corridor, settling at the obscure cell where there was a girl who had a


Death wish.

Secluded in the cell, Hinata finally threw her head back, her long hair immediately springing from her face to sweep gracefully behind her shoulders.

Thick veins throbbed around large, colourless eyes.

And, in her hand, there was a kunai that had been sharpened to a deadly precision.


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The summary will change as this story unfolds, but I can confirm for now that this is a SasuHina fic, set somewhere post-Shippuden.

The chapters will be kept short, like the above, and I'm anticipating that there will about ten in all. Perhaps, when this is done, I'll merge it into a one-shot, but I like the brevity so far which allows me to make constant updates.

Anyway, please leave a review and let me know what you think ;)

(Also, did anyone understand the reference to four?)

~ RC Mason.