Death by Midnight
Summary: While it ends at midnight, this is not Cinderella's story. Much rather, it is not a fairytale. There are no happy endings when this clock strikes twelve.
A/N: It's interesting to see how people change over time, isn't it? Finished at 16.4k words, edited and in 44.
ORIGINAL TITLE: Once Again
UNIVERSE: 44th Moon
PROJECT: 44, ex-MMC
SHIPPINGS: KaylaXEdgar, LilienneXClyde; Suggested- LilienneXMirago, RaenXVerge
Disclaimers and the like:/
I don't own Maplestory, though you can't see much of it in here. This is borderline fanfiction.
Pre-requisites before reading is playing MS past the Union Eternal patch. That way all the skills'll be familiar to ya (:
Dedicated to all the regular nutters/nutettes on the forum 44, which this atrocity was inspired from. May you all leak troll and for Shin Shin, refrain from tainting people please.
"… What on earth are we doing here for?" I asked suspiciously, eyeing the busy square in front of us. "There are too many people here. You know how ridiculous my sense of direction is!"
(There are people out for my blood, you know.) Bah, how pitiful, using code like this! I shook my head in disbelief.
"I'm sorry…" She sheepishly murmured, scratching her head. "I really wanted to see the meadow around here…" She looked about curiously, noting the pathways leading out of the bustling crowd.
I rolled my eyes. "So much for something important…" I sighed. How perfect. If we were attacked now, only she would be able to defend. "I left my decent weapon back at home… We wouldn't be able to train, Lilienne."
(I left my spear back at camp. If we get attacked now, we'll have to run.)
She merely nodded. "I know, I know. You still don't know how to use that sword well, do you?" She laughed. "I told you that you should have taken it up earlier!"
(I know, I know. If you attack with the sword, it'll look too much like using a spear. You should've had your mentor teach you more sword fighting techniques.)
I raised an eyebrow. "I guess." I kept my hand on the katana at my hip, stroking the hilt. "The meadow's that way, mind you."
"Um… Right." She fumbled for her bottle of water, but I grabbed her arm and started walking towards the right of the busy square. "H-hey! Slow down would you?!"
I grinned slyly and only began to walk faster. "You can easily catch up though!"
We were weaving through the crowd when I started spacing out, thinking. Thanks to that, one minute later I remembered where I was and the fact that I was no longer abusing Lilienne with my iron grip. I looked around, searching for my particularly eccentric partner. How the hell did I manage to lose a white haired elf in a crowd?
I grabbed my hair in frustration. Where the hell did she go?! It's as if she had disappeared into thin air… The meadow! Of course! I walked towards the area I had originally intended to go to, sidestepping the various citizens of Henesys and murmuring apologies at every turn.
Yet despite the general hustle and bustle of the crowd, I felt uneasy. I was brushing past so many people! I never remembered the place being so freaking busy! As I was trying to locate my comrade's mana signal, I nearly walked into someone. Someone who was standing silently, in the middle of a freaking crowd. That guy had some nerve, just standing blankly like that. But even so, just as I was about to apologise to him like the good exiled person I am, he walked off. Seriously, what the hell? I moved along, following a small path formed between two stalls selling some sort of meat.
Paved stones gave way to grass as I stepped out into the thickets of trees surrounding the town. The meadow she was blabbing on and on about was one I used to frequent when I lived in Henesys, though it may have changed since I last saw it.
I pushed past the last bush quietly, only to face an abundance of aromatic flowers. Yep, the meadow definitely changed since I was last here. Not that it was a bad change, but still. What was a bad change was the familiar face of Lilienne, fending off the man I had nearly walked into before. The same man, though bearing the clear medallion of his army, was immediately obvious that he wouldn't go too far under his reign, for he would never have allowed such a man to join.
Like Lilienne and me, he was a Dark Knight. One of us.
I sidestepped back into the shadows of a nearby tree, thinking. Lilienne hadn't resorted to using her skills yet, but from the brief moment I witnessed it was dreadfully obvious that they weren't having a light sparring match. Both parties attacked with an intention to kill.
The man in question was wearing a black and red coat which was torn towards the bottom and bore red cloth dangling in thin strips with small bells attached to the ends. His chin was hidden away in a crimson-red scarf tattered from use at the ends. Thick golden gauntlets covered jet black gloves that expertly wielded what I recognised to be a modified arcglaive; the length of the unique polearm was encased in a swirling golden grip of sorts, with an elegant red tassel hanging at the end, tossing about as he swung swiftly with a precise, almost mechanical aim. Lightweight metal plates bearing the occasional scratch covered his boots. His face was passive; nothing was given away in his gaze as he continued to strike at her.
But why he was targeting Lilienne and not me was a question that I was all too willing to see answered. Perhaps he thought that by isolating me, it would make me magically rethink things? Doubt it.
A cold, metal ring pressed against my neck and I froze. "End of the road, warrior." A gruff voice sneered. "You should know better than to spy on our leader." The unmistakable click of a gun resounded in my ears as the battle before me unfolded.
"Unfortunately for you..." I smirked a little prematurely at my own joke, "today's really not your lucky day." I twisted and ducking low, knocked the wind out of him with a good ol' punch to the gut before drawing my sword. He pulled the trigger all too late; the bullet flew wildly and embedded itself into a tree not so far away. I kicked the gun out of his hand and pointed my sword at him. "If you think you can even try to inflict a cut, much less a bullet wound on me, then obviously you don't know who I am."
After a moment's pause, I caught a small movement out of the corner of my eye and sidestepped a wild swing with a dagger. I grimaced at the poor aim and retaliated by plunging my sword straight down, resulting in a clean stab to the gut. Blood gushed out of the wound and I flicked off the blood, triumphantly resheathing whilst looking admiringly at my handiwork.
However, in the process of defeating my own assailant, The gun shot had diverted both Lilienne and her assailant's attention, to which he recovered faster and held the tip of his polearm at her neck, energy rippling across the blade dangerously. So much for keeping hidden, huh."You can stop right now." I paused, staring at Lilienne. She had a look of disgust on her face, but remained relatively passive otherwise. "Do not interfere. This is not your battle. Throw down your weapon."
His voice gave off the presumption that he was used to being obeyed, yet it was obvious that he would not hesitate to harm my comrade if I defied his orders. I reached for the hilt of my sword deliberately slowly, staring intently at Lilienne and hoping that I could somehow convey telepathic messages. She widened her eyes at the motion, but didn't give me away. My hand now firmly gripped the sword and I began to pull it out until halfway, where multiple things happened. For one, I utilized a technique where I twisted the handle, cutting through the leather sheath easily and freeing the sword. A soft yellow aura enveloped the sword as I cut a circle through the air before lunging straight at them. Another thing was the movement only barely registering with Lilienne as she rolled to one side, picking up her dropped spear and poised to attack the man. He sidestepped and deflected our attacks respectively, but raised an eyebrow at me.
"Another spear user, how interesting." Whatever he said was obviously not portrayed in his ever-passive face. Until a moment later where to my disbelief, the corner of his mouth twitched up in what may or may not have been a smile. "Ah, it makes sense now. You must be Kyra Moon." He almost lazily avoided Lilienne's second attack, instead swiping his free hand at her, snagging the beanie she had been using to cover her elven ears. "An elf," he remarked, "one of your accomplices, perhaps." Lilienne snatched the beanie back, with a surprised look on her face as she leapt back to a comfortable distance. "My apologies, elf. Had I not be led to believe that the person I was sent to retrieve was you, I would not have attacked you in such a way."
"If you oppose her, you'll be against me as well." Lilienne snarled, glaring daggers at the man.
Oh, hell. I used a spear grip! If that didn't give me away, I have no idea what would have. I mentally smacked myself and promptly switched to a reverse sword grip, the yellow aura beginning to glimmer along the length of the blade again, forming a rune corresponding to the grip and slashing horizontally across.
The velocity of using the correct grip was surprising, but with enough power I steered myself left towards Lilienne, who reached out with her spear. I begrudgingly took her ridiculously heavy Pinaka- I never liked that bloody thing anyway- and tossed her the sword before raising the spear, purple sparks crackling dangerously around my fingertips.
He raised his glaive across his chest, before sending himself hurtling towards us without a moment to spare. We rolled in opposite directions, missing the tingly yellow aura with centimetres to spare. While Lilienne was off to her own devices, I raised the spear overhead before smashing the blunt down. The second the energy made contact with the ground it spontaneously exploded and we both leaped into the air, ready to attack amongst the flying debris.
I heard a quick shout of "Slipstream!" and caught glimpse of a streak of blurred black, red and purple. He seemed to move with a strange grace through the war zone, leaping delicately on one boulder to another, his glaive poised to strike.
I pointed the tip of the spear at him, the sleek black blade fading under a cloak of dark and crimson mana and commanded, "Slipstream!" propelling myself towards the nearest boulder. With an encouraging battle cry, I pushed off, aiming to impale our assailant.
He raised his polearm overhead in a manner as if he was using a hammer and sheer, uncontrolled vermillion mana snaked down his arms, forming a pattern on both his gauntlets and the entire length of the arcglaive with it. I swung down and the two weapons collided- Dark Impale against Berserk- sending sparks from the weapons flying wildly between us. The force of the impact between the two skills sent us both flying in opposite directions, but I circled the spear and casted another Rush technique, landing on a boulder.
He re-entered my field of vision, calmly (to my extreme distaste) observing me as if I was a fucking lab rat. I caught a glimpse of a maniacally grinning Lilienne emerging stealthily from a tree behind him, a cut on her hand leaking blood onto the blade of the sword. I knew what she was getting at, but geez... I polished that thing until it was pristine! I took off a glove with my teeth and gripped the blade of the Pinaka until a nice amount of blood coated it, the liquid absorbing into the spear.
The wound instantly sealed itself, skin stretching over the wound quickly but it remained a delicate shade of pink. It was of no concern though; I'll just ask it to fix it once I get back to camp. The blade began to glow a dangerous dark indigo and I moved in while the skill was being prepared, swinging wildly. He easily parried the hit, not bothering to retaliate. I gritted my teeth and swung down swiftly, but he blocked that too without a second thought. We were twisting around and around, so I spun around him to swerve him from Lilienne, who had more difficulty preparing with a sword. The blade of her sword was flitting between dark indigo and a light violet, signalling that it was nearly done absorbing the blood she had given up.
He held out his gauntlet just in time to prevent himself from being slashed by my attacks and retaliated with a few more hits which I, in turn, blocked as well, growing increasingly aware of the attack we were about to launch consecutively. He slammed the arcglaive into the ground, with considerably less force than what I had used, purple blasts of energy rippling through the already ruined ground. The ground shook for a few seconds, but it felt like forever as a dust cloud rose and obscured my view.
A moment of silence slipped by before I heard the soft jingling of bells; I instinctively rolled left as a freaking mirage of a dragon just grazed me, occupying the spot I had just been at and promptly ripping through my jacket. I heard something smash behind me, but dismissed it as the dust began to settle. I had no time to be pondering on about what on Scania could be destroyed by a projectile of pure dragon magic! I launched myself into the air, my spear poised and ready to strike. I swiftly pulled into a rush technique and caught a glimpse of Lilienne's white hair rushing towards him as well, brandishing a butterfly cut.
With her blade poised to slash at his back, she shouted, "Sacrifice!" It was my designated cue as I hurtled towards him in the same moment, the mana circling the spear shimmering in the sun.
He turned away from me and managed to block her blow with his glaive, the energy rippling outwards in a burst but remained hovering near his glaive. He didn't dispel the attack… But why? I didn't waste another second as I swung the spear around, prepared to slash at him.
Everything became clear when he raised his palm at me. With horror I realised what had happened a moment later. A moment too late.
A small rune was carved into his gauntlet, unused. A rare smile graced his face, followed by a small look of regret. His voice rang out loud and clear.
The next minute seemed to drag on forever. My lips were moving, but nothing seemed to come out. I recall trying to dispel the attack, to absorb the power back, but to no avail. I watched with a growing dread as the pulse of energy rippled forward in a twisted slow motion. The light red barrier seemed to attract the attack before absorbing the power completely. Yet, the worst had yet to come. His expression was a mixed one of what I thought to be regret and relief, but mine was anything but relief.
The power that the barrier absorbed had bounced back, to its creator's assailants. In other words, us.
The power felt warm at first, but it didn't stay that way. The warmth began to burn as the feeling turned painful and in a matter of seconds it felt as if every muscle in my body was cramping up and attempting to tear itself apart at the same time. My body seemed to stiffen and relax at the same time, but neither stopped me from slumping to the floor, defeated.
I opened my mouth in an attempt to tell her to run, but my vision was fading in and out, flickering between reality and oblivion. I saw a dark mass shifting towards me and I felt arms almost gently picking me up. "You can still hear me, can't you?" I heard him muse quietly, his gauntlets cold against my skin. "Quite surprising, I must say. Such exceptional stamina."
"Why am I still alive?" In the distance, I heard Lilienne's voice croak weakly in confusion.
He stopped. "Because she took the brunt of the attack for you. I don't shed any more blood than I have to."
I was desperately fighting the oncoming darkness, trying to stay awake. I could barely move; both the attack and my assailant holding me made comfortably moving impossible, but I managed to mouth the words I wanted to say, even if I couldn't find my voice to say them out loud.
Run, Lilienne. Back to Clyde. Tell him what happened.
"Your name." Lilienne shouted hoarsely, slowly sheathing her spear and picking up my sword.
He paused thoughtfully for a moment, before responding, "Geki."
Why yes, yes this not the full story. That comes later. No, really. This is one of the only completed arcs.