0. Carry me Away
When you're running for your life little things don't matter anymore. Like where to eat lunch at, recovering stolen possessions, or getting lost. Well that should matter but if it saves your skin then time to embrace it and poor Allen was embracing it.
The nekomata was use to being lost now. Since he began traveling alone he could claim a perpetual state of being lost. The only good thing that he found about traveling with his now missing master Marian Cross was that he didn't get lost. Now he was not just lost but fucked.
With Cross was gone just showing his face in most villages can be a life or death situation. Just ignoring the fact that he's considered an unlucky demon to some, his appearance didn't help with the superstitious villagers. His white hair and silver eyes made him noticeable in any crowd. It was the dark red slash on his left eye and inverted pentacle that caused the most chaos. At least with his arm he could hide this but his face was almost impossible to disguise.
It just took one look at his face and suddenly he's being chased by a lynch mob. To make matters worse the mob managed to grab his cloak and scarf which covered his ears and everything went to hell. He was often blamed for the misfortune of others, so he wasn't surprised by their reaction, just exhausted by it. Running for one's life did that.
He managed to shake his pursuers in the maze of alleyways with a few minor injuries but he was lost. "Did I pass that hut twice?" he asked himself as he got turned around in the narrow alleyways. Allen could hear the river on the border of the village but managed to go in circles instead. Looking at the hut he thought he saw a green butterfly flitting by. Taking that as a sign he dashed in that direction. Beyond that he found the bridge.
Allen had learned to be fast on his feet so he knew he could make a mad dash for safety. Even the rock throwing mob wouldn't catch him once he hit the forest beyond. However the moment he stepped on the bridge he realized that the unguarded exit had been a trap. After a sharp disorienting sting and a rush of air, Allen found himself dangling in the air over the side of the bridge in a net made of fish line. The material had been so thin he missed it in the shadows. Unfortunately it was also strong enough to hold him as he struggled.
Demon hunters had lay in wait. He didn't know where they come from or how they got here ahead of him, but he would bet he was not the prey they were expecting from the looks on their faces. "What do we have here?" One with golden eyes and dark curly hair said pulling the net to him with a leer. "This was not the little fish we expected to catch."
"What is it?" the larger one asked as he shoved a piece of candy in his mouth.
"Oh, a cute kitty boy!" A spiky haired girl exclaimed. "Can I keep him uncle Tikki?" The looks she cast at Allen made him squirm more. This caused him to hiss as the net dug into his wounds. The worst part of it was the unmistakable dart he found protruding from his shoulder. It looked like a tranquilizer dart which gave him barely a few minutes to find away out of the net.
"I don't know." Tikki eyed Allen closely. Whatever the hunter was about to say however was interrupted by the approaching mob.
"Oh hunters, thank you for catching that demon." One of the men stepped forward as the others held back. "We have been plagued by misfortune recently."
"And you believe this creature the cause of it?" Tikki asked the mob.
"No but its blood will protect us from further harm."
At this the three hunters had to laugh. "That silly old wives tale never works," The younger laughed.
"That thing needs to die!" one of the men in the mob yelled. "It's a yokai and cursed to on top of that. Getting rid of any such creature is bound to bring us good fortune." The rest of the mob loudly agreed as the hunters appeared to be contemplating this.
Allen didn't want any of them to go down the path that that suggestion took them but knew even trying to defend himself would cause further trouble but he was about desperate enough to plead his way out. His vision was already starting to fog up as seconds ticked by.
It was that moment as the mob lobbied the hunters further to turn him over to them that he saw the green butterfly again. It was flitting around the rope that the net hung from bringing his attention to a frayed area above the knots. Acting on instinct Allen bared his sharp claws at the rope and managed to quickly sever it.
Unfortunately he was still being held over the railing on the bridge when gravity kicked in. He tumbled over into the water. The tranquilizer along with the bridge railing had done their job. He was no longer conscious as the swift current carried him away.
1. Drowned... cat
"Yuu! We shouldn't be here." Alma actually tried to whisper that but it came out as one of those loud whispers that can be heard from far away. "Yuu…" he was whining it also, which made him even louder and annoying as he jerked at the other's sleeve.
"Shut it." Kanda growled quietly jerking out of the offending grip. If it had been anyone besides Alma he'd have pulled his sword out and threatened them. Alma and Lenalee were the only ones in the group he wouldn't threaten. Lenalee, because well her brother's crazy, and Alma well that's his brother and only blood relative left.
"Yuu," Alma ignored him, but he always does. Lavi and Alma were the only one's that actually called him by his first name. Alma was there when he was born, and he very well couldn't forbid family from the name even though it irritated the hell out of him. Lavi, well that idiot was just persistent and didn't listen to him no matter how many near death experiences he's had with Kanda. "We should go back to the campsite."
Normally Alma was never this paranoid to enjoy the nice day by the river. Fishing was fast becoming useless if he couldn't calm down. Alma always had a childish nature despite being the older brother. Like many Hanyou he had extra gifts. Gifts that varied from individual to individual, Alma's was the ability to tell when something important was about to happen. The others believed that Alma tried run from his gift instead of using it, but it was more a survival instinct. Because important can include life threatening.
They usually didn't get this close to the villages in the area because many of them harboring too many enemies. In many cases whole villages will attack anyone they associate with Yokai. Kanda and Alma had cat ears and tales that gave them away as being related to the bakeneko clans. Both of them could hide them temporarily. Their other traveling companions, the old scribe Bookman, his apprentice Lavi, Lenalee another hanyou, and the blind priest Noise Marie did not have the same problems.
Kanda's outburst had only stopped Alma's fidgeting for a few moments. "Yuu…"
"Damn it, if you can't keep it down and sit still then go back to camp." Kanda growled at his brother. "I'm trying to get…" Kanda had to stop as he caught the scent of another demon and hunters nearby.
"Yuu?" Alma jerked at Kanda's sleeve as he pointed at something white in the water. "There is some thing there." The strong odor of blood assaulted their noses as they moved closer to what looked like a white mass.
"Go back." Kanda pushed Alma away as he drew his sword. Upon closer inspection he found a white haired nekomata. Its scent identified it as a male, age wise it couldn't be much younger then them. If Kanda hadn't known that nekomata often looked younger then they were he would have thought him barely a teenager.
"He's been hurt." Alma said rushing to the creature's side.
"Baka, don't touch it." Kanda swore as he watched Alma drag the small Yokai out of the water. It looked like it had been in a fight and got caught in a net. At this point arguing with Alma was useless, once he got something in his head he didn't get it out. So Kanda could only watch as Alma cut the net off the pathetic looking creature. He almost doubted it was still alive until he saw the shallow rise and fall of his chest. It was when Kanda saw the curse mark that he jumped into action lifting his katana to slice open the unconscious cat boy. "Move!" he ordered. "I'm going to kill it."
"Yuu! No you can't. "Alma protested."He's defenseless."
"Oh so you want to wait till he's ready to slit our throats to decide it's dangerous?"
"He looks like a child. You can't go around assuming just because he's full blooded Yokai that he's dangerous." Alma refused to move and the subject of their debate was oblivious to just how close he was to death at the hands of the eternally grouchy hanyou.
"How many times do you have to be told looks are deceiving? There's a reason it's half dead in the river with a cursed eye." Kanda hissed.
"Yeah and the reason doesn't always mean he's the dangerous one." Alma countered.
"Seriously," Kanda growled out in frustration, "sometimes I wonder if a baka like you can even learn. Where have you been all these years?"
"Yuu please," Alma had resorted to the kicked puppy look to get his way. He understood his Kanda's reaction since they've faced danger all their life but Alma wanted to trust his own instinct and this creature was not what they should be worrying about.
Distant sounds interrupted any further debate. The scent of the hunters that owned the net got stronger. Kanda stopped arguing as he helped Alma pull the nekomata from the net and duck into the nearby shrubbery. All they could do now was to hope these weren't the enhanced hunters who could sniff them out.
On the opposite bank the spotted three figures in black. A girl that looked no older the twelve, a large burly man with spiky hair and another man that appeared to be wearing a suit that was out of place at the riverside. "Aww, I think we lost kitty boy." the girl whined.
"Hmm maybe." the gentleman agreed. "Are you sure the nets here?" the larger man just grunted in response. He apparently was preoccupied with a sucker.
"Hmm the twins will be sad we lost him." the girl commented casually as she appeared to be looking deeply into the river.
"The twins?" the gentleman gave her a confused look. "Isn't it the Earl who wants the priest and his apprentice?"
"Oh he'll be upset also but the twins more so right now." she grinned at him mischievously. "Cross skipped out of town leaving his debts in their name when they tried to catch him." at this she giggled as if it was a great joke.
The gentleman looked disturbed. "Wow that's harsh."
"Yeah imagine having to pay your enemy's bills."
"I'd rather not." anyway let's go. We'll have to report that we lost the target."
"Tikki do you think he's dead?"
"I doubt it. He is the apprentice of the most tenacious priest around. How that guy became a priest is beyond me. "
"Let's get something sweet. " the large guy interrupted as the walked away. Kanda and Alma ignored the rest of what the hunters had to say. Alma gave him a look that told Kanda that if they left the cat boy now he'd be in trouble.
"Che" Kanda spit out before hoisting the nekotama over his shoulder. "Hopefully Marie or Bookman had better luck getting us dinner." He grumbled shooting Alma a dirty look. Alma on the other hand smiled happily and bounced ahead to the camp site.