Chapter 7:

First Blood

Setting Sun Story: Beta

Eastern Main Road, Baustas - Erin - 9:45 PM, The Night of Liberator's Birth

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’re doing, Rain probably has something to say about it…

The two New Blood Special Tasks boys return to their dorms together. Rain pettily walks at an increased pace.

“Why’d you have to be so hard on her? This kinda thing would be stressful for anyone,” Erin calls out, sticking his neck out to try and get an angle on Rain’s perpetually angry face.

Rain doesn’t slow, the frustrated heat of Erin's response maybe even activated nitrous in Rain’s legs, causing him to speed up. Erin keeps up behind him.

“Look, if she doesn’t get out of that mindset, it’s only going to hurt her in the end, is that wrong?” Rain asks assuredly.

Erin points his eyes up toward his brain with puzzled eyebrows, trying to piece the strange motive together. He snaps a finger and smirks.

“So you do care about her!” He presses.

Rain feels an unwelcome warm buzz in his cheeks. He lightly shakes his head to himself, and once again picks up his feet.

“I care about making it through our first battle,” Rain throws back.

Erin’s eyelids drop heavily in disappointment. Some people just can’t be swayed.

Just as Erin is prepared to walk in quiet tension, Rain continues.

“If my life was never in her hands, I couldn’t give a shit… She could die for all I care.”

Erin crosses over and digs into Rain’s shoulder with his fingers, whipping him around, bringing them face to face.

He throws a jab at Rain’s head, who limps his neck and drops himself out of the punch, pushing away the fist with his far hand. As Erin swings at the open air, Rain runs his palm up Erin’s front, grabbing his collar, and pulling him in, now nose to nose.

“You’re a real piece of shit, you know that?” Erin spits, not backing down.

Rain brings their foreheads together, each feeling the immense energy the other outputs.

“Fuck you. Fuck both of you, just focus on yourselves,” Rain says, pushing Erin away while snagging his heel with his own toes.

He continues while Erin sits up.

“If it’s so important that she’s gotten this far herself, then she shouldn’t need you white-knighting her, huh,” Rain says as he starts to walk off, flailing his hand in the air like a displeased princess.

“If she wants to throw a punch at me, she can!” He rants.

“What is wrong with you-?” Erin starts, before both of them interrupted.

“Will you two shut up down there?!” Calls the voice of Arrabelle, eyes flaming as she peers down at them from her bedroom.

Before they look for the source, Arrabelle remembers that she isn’t wearing clothes, and snaps away, locking her window shut.

Rain and Erin return their gazes to each other. Erin sighs, and deciding to be the bigger man, stands himself up.

“Wouldn’t expect you to help or anything,” Erin says sarcastically.

He dusts off his backside before following along, silently.

9:49 PM

The ruby stars overhead, Erin winds up lost in his head.

The only New Blood not to feel this particular weight, this sense of importance in his place.

‘The Liberators,’ a long awaited generation of heroes, shouldn’t that have some gusto to it?

He doesn’t feel like Jun does either, that he doesn’t deserve it, or isn’t right for the job. He knows his strength, he knows his journey and all of the steps he took to get here… but now that he is, what is there left to do with himself? The pace has been made, and nothing would stand in his way now, no mountain to overcome. But not an ounce of satisfaction.

“Hey shithead! Wake up!” Rain ever politely announces as Erin pops back into his gaze.

The ground before an alleyway branching off of the street to left is splattered with blood. Rain is already sprinting ahead, over to the body of a city guard, who’s head and arm wrap around the corner, as if crawling for survival.

Erin follows suit.

“What the hell happened?” Erin asks.

Rain, still running, looks over his shoulder.

“You didn’t just hear that? Boy you’re gonna be real helpful in the field.”

Erin shakes his head as they approach the corpse.

Rain charges the alley corner at full speed, slipping to his knees in the blood.

Erin reaches the body, only to find lifeless eyes, gray and dim. He feels for a pulse. The body’s still warm, but no blood is traveling, and the guard’s skin is already a ghostly pale. He looks over to Rain.

“What is it?” Erin asks, finding Rain to be locked onto something in the alley.

Erin peers around the corner with him. At the center of the passage is a large hexagonal draining path, leading to a grate in the middle.

Another body has slid down the corner of the drain wall, and lies dead on the ground, reaching out toward them. Standing over it, as the blood slowly trickles toward the drain, a dark figure watches its work. The moonlight falls over its green hood, masking its face.

It turns to the boys, revealing behind its back a short-sword upside-down in its hand, freshly driven through flesh, blood seeping through tribal engravings in the metal.

“Y-you there! Don’t move!” Rain yells into the corridor. The figure stays perfectly still.

“I won’t run,” the killer says in the crunch of a hard Irish accent.

He’s already positioning himself, bending his knees and bringing one arm forward, his sword hand clenched and ready. Erin and Rain exchange glances, forming up, and stepping into the alley. Rain carefully pulls a knife from his boot.

“Clever,” Erin says softly.

“Always gotta be prepared,” Rain quips, creeping in unison with Erin toward the figure.

“No time to call for help,” Erin closes.

“Let’s move then,” Rain concludes.

Swirling over the air with a finger, both of the soldiers shape out an infinity symbol.

It leaves a gray trail behind the finger’s movements, just visible, like the marks left by the sun in passing view. When completed, the glyph bursts into life, emitting a dark-red Saturation in the air, playing complimentary with the Savior’s light, and distorting the vision around the symbol itself.

The sinister infinity symbol of Chaos. As if tied to their body, the symbol moves with them, remaining just in front of their views.

The killer does the same.

With a thick finger, signing out a W shaped three pronged symbol, a half-circle attaching the spires beneath it, it too springs into color, as hot red, the rising spires, the elemental symbol of Fire.

Erin is confused, he thought only Chosen could-

The figure swipes his hand through the glyph. It lights up, and with a shock-wave effect, spits from it a ball of flame.

“Push, Rain!” Erin commands, tapping through his own Chaos symbol.

Instead of simply eating through the air, the Chaos symbol, resonating with the aura of the light, seems to snowball as it carries onward, growing as it sucks away the surrounding space.

The Chaos ball snuffs out the coming flame, dousing only a fraction of its own power, and continues to move, bouncing off the wall of the alley, and shooting out at the figure.

The figure swings its sword at the ball, cutting it away, and spraying the residual blood against the walls.

Rain has already taken off, crossing his arms as he runs, keeping the tip of his dagger faced front, and his other hand ready to fire Chaos.

Next to the symbol of Fire, the killer forms a circle, twisting the tip of the image outward, and summoning the green guardian circle of Wind. He leaps forward, grabbing at the circular symbol and placing it underneath him.

He taps two fingers through it, boosting him inward at the boys, essentially acting as an air-dash.

He flies at Rain, his blade already swinging.

Rain barely ducks in time, carving upward with his dagger to ensure a block. The sword and dagger meet as the killer pushes through Wind again, stopping himself just over top Rain.

Rain sees nothing more beneath the hood than the outline of a toothy grin. He doesn’t know how to react.

The killer, currently facing downward at Rain, swings his legs over his head, crossing over Rain while flipping top up, and kicking through the Wind symbol at his foot, blasting a gust that knocks Rain down to the drain, and pushes him closer to Erin.

Erin fires off two more tufts of Chaos that get beat out by the killer’s Fire at close range, before back-stepping out of the killer’s landing strike.

As the swung sword chips against the stone, Erin leaps forward, stepping down on the blade, and sending a punch at him. The killer releases his grip of the sword, pushing with his grounded hips and shoulders to block one, then a second fist.

The killer quickly rises off of his front foot, stepping forward and connecting a punch, which in tandem presses his Fire symbol against Erin’s chest.

His breath expels itself before a ball of Fire explodes at his decompressed lungs, sending him head over heals into the street.

Rain suddenly appears from behind, jumping onto the killer’s back, repeatedly slamming the dagger toward his neck. The killer keeps his arm at Rain’s wrist, preventing the stabbing, before descending back into the alley, and throwing his back against the wall.

Rain is stunned for a moment, slipping off of him and finding himself pressured in the corner of the drain. The killer swings overhead, and Rain grabs his own wrist to strengthen his guard against the attack. The killer pulls back, striking again horizontally.

Rain spots the opening, gliding the blow over himself with the dagger, then sliding under the sword for one last attempt at a stab.

An imploding green light, as if a ring is being pulled inward at the killer, catches Rain off-guard, and the killer’s sword is suddenly blocking straight in front of him.

“How?!” Rain bursts out as his attack is sent to the air.

The killer lifts his leg and stomps Rain against the wall.

As Rain tries to use the wall’s hard bounce, he swings in desperation at the killer, only to find the muscles and tendons in right arm already torn apart, and a follow-up slash of a sword cutting across his chest.

“Rain, NO!” Erin screams as he hurls a Chaos ball at the killer.

Choosing now to take his victory, the killer flees. As the Chaos ball reaches him, the killer twirls around, cutting away the attack and leaving around the corner.

Erin stops at Rain, who’s arm is limp but twitching. He struggles to take in breaths as he tries for movements with his left.

“Just hang on a second Rain, I got you,” Erin says, panicking.

“S-stop, you can’t let him- go.”

“Shut your mouth, asshole! You need help, now!” Erin says, getting on his knees.

Rain is signing Fire with his left hand.

Gripping it with his other fingers, he runs the symbol at his chest, and pushes through it with his first, lightly. He grits his teeth, crying out as the searing flame brushes against the deep wound.

“Holy shit,” Erin lets out, unsure what to do.

“I told you, it’s fine, now go!” Rain snarls, practically foaming.

“C’mon,” Erin starts, grabbing underneath Rain’s shoulder, causing the muscles in his arm to flex, shooting a stinging sensation throughout his entire body. “We need to get to the infirmary.”

“You can’t just-”

“Will you shut up already.”

It isn’t a question, as Erin commands it with an overwhelming power.

Erin has supported Rain out into the street.

Sorry lady, you’re just going to have to deal with it, he thinks.

“Someone! Guards! We need help!”

East End Rooftop - Lerik - Midnight

Safe from the guards that patrol the ground, the killer in the green hood sits atop a Baustian rooftop, looking down over the alley of the fight. Like hounds, they still search the area, creeping into every corner.

At the inner wall of the drain sits a door; a door that for the past several days housed Lerik in a storage room that lay abandoned. The guards have taken from it his rations and survival equipment.

If only that poor man hadn’t gone looking where he shouldn’t have…

Lerik drops to his legs, crossing them as he sits under the red moon, like an ever observant eye, watching over this unfamiliar place. Such a feeling isn’t uncommon for Lerik. Lost and out of his own time, every sight feels as though he doesn’t belong in it.

Leaning back on one hand, he peels the hood from his head, revealing an old face. Gray hair peppers his head, and forms into a thin goatee that arcs his chin and reaches up at his lips. On his left cheek, a heavy scar runs down from his eye.

He pulls a cigarette from his pocket, and signing Fire, issues a small flame to the tip.

He breathes in, pulling the flame through the wrapping.

“How can these people have spent entire lives here?” He asks the wind, breathing out a cloud of smoke.

Staring at the embers, he thinks to himself.

Not everybody lives as long as I have, I suppose… but still. Without so much as a view of the mountains. Even on Needle we could stare out at the world for hours.

His soft green eyes find themselves looking at the flat roofing.

“Rile, how much longer do I have to do this?” He questions, the words barely leaving his mouth.

He pulls something else from his pocket, a picture.

Watching longingly, he loses himself to the time, puffing away at the cigarette mindlessly.

No home left to return to, one can only dream of the pasts that burnt away, or step up, and seek new journeys until it’s found unbearable. But what if there’s no way to end the journey? Must I carry on with the lifetime of bonds weighing me to the Earth?

Lerik stands up, finishing the cancer stick, and snuffing it out on the ground.

“Would you show yourself this time? A place like this would be perfect, I know you’re out there watching,” He argues.