Chapter 12:

Chapter 2-3: The Forgotten Girl Part 4

Between Life and Death

Authors note: This isn't the finished chapter. But since I haven't posted in a long time, I decided to just post the part I have finished so that too much time doesn't pass and to not disappoint the few people that actually read this. So enjoy. Bookmark here

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Though everything was black, something managed to pierce through the abyss. A faint voice—one that I had long forgotten. I could barely make out what the voice was saying. Though the voice repeated itself many times, the sounds I was able to make out seemed random at first. The darkness enveloped me so completely that it took a moment to understand that the voice was calling my name. Bookmark here

Everything came back to me in an instant. Who I was. Where I was. And what I had been doing before I was sliced open with a sword. I fought to escape the darkness, I still had something left to do. And if I could still hear a voice, that meant I was still alive—even if just barely. I had to force myself awake. Bookmark here

A cold breeze hit my cheek. The ground beneath me felt soft and prickly—something I didn’t expect from the concrete floor of the basement beneath the church. But when I moved my hand across the ground, I realized I was no longer lying on a hard surface. I was lying on top of grass. Bookmark here

Well, that explains why I'm so cold, I thought to myself as I tried to soothe my headache with my hand. Then I remembered the reason I was lying on my back in the first place and my hand immediately shot toward my stomach. But when I moved away my torn apart shirt to look at my belly, there was nothing there. I could have sworn I was sliced open by a lady with a sword. And yet there didn't seem to be so much as a scratch on my skin. The only thing of concern was my shredded shirt which left my skin exposed to the cold air. Bookmark here

But before I could process what had happened, a familiar face appeared above my own. "Yuuta?! Thank goodness you woke up. After I saw you get sliced open and thrown against the wall, I thought you were a goner."Bookmark here

"I could say the same about you. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see you again."Bookmark here

Suzuhara had always been fond of jokes. That's probably the only we did when we spoke since we didn’t have much else to talk about. It was the only way I knew how to make her feel better. Bookmark here

Knelt beside me, Suzuhara continued. "Heh. I wasn't sure either. But thanks to the woman you came with, we're both safe now."Bookmark here

Oh. She must be talking about Claire.Bookmark here

"Also, Yuuta, can you explain who she is because she seems kinda weird."Bookmark here

"How so?"Bookmark here

"Well, for starters, she punched the other women hard that she sent her flying across the hallway. Next, she tore her arm off and poured all of her blood onto your sliced out belly. And before I knew, her arm had grown back and your wound had healed completely. I nearly passed out from the sight. And on top of that…"Bookmark here

"There's more?"Bookmark here

"Yes. Now shut up and listen. On top of that...she destroyed the entire building we were in an effort to get us to safety," she said while pointing. I followed her finger and sure enough, the church I remember having been in was now just a pile of rubble and we were sitting in the glade about 50 meters away. Bookmark here

"She did all that while carrying us both and all the while fighting off the crazy lady with the sword. Just who is she, Yuuta?" Bookmark here

"That would be my… umm…. acquaintance?... friend?... Claire. She's a vampire."Bookmark here

"What?!"Bookmark here

Well, I expected to get that sort of reaction. After all, it's not like she believed in vampires before. We all thought they were just myths and legends. Me being so nonchalant about it probably didn’t help ease her into the idea. But she was proof of the supernatural herself. So she didn't give a look of bewilderment. It was more like just a look of amazement.Bookmark here

"From what's happened to you, I'd think you'd be less shocked about meeting a vampire." Bookmark here

Even as she stared at me now, positioned atop Suzuhara's head were two pearl-white, fox ears along with a poofy tail of the same color wagging from side to side.Bookmark here

"I don't really understand it myself," she giggled with a little cough as she stroked her tail. "After they realized that I wasn't who they wanted, the lady that cut you open tried to kill me. She stuck her sword through my chest, and that was when the ears and tail appeared. Somehow I didn't die, and when she realized this, she smiled and told me 'Seems like you're of use to me after all.'"Bookmark here

"What a menacing reply."Bookmark here

"I know, right?" Suzuhara’s way of speaking really didn’t fit the occasion. But that was how she always was. An optimist. "After that, they kept me locked up down there for who knows how long. The ears and tail only showed up when I was almost starving to death. But apart from that, they actually didn't do anything to me. It seemed like they were waiting for something."Bookmark here

Waiting for something? If Suzuhara had been a vampire, she'd be someone for them to worship, as Claire hypothesized. But they had done nothing to her apparently. Just waiting for something, huh? Whatever it was, I bet it had something to do with those ears and tail of hers. Bookmark here

"Speaking of the women who have almost killed us…"Bookmark here

It had only been us two in the forest clearing up till now. It was eerily quiet, and the person who had supposedly brought us to safety—Claire—was nowhere to be found, until…Bookmark here

"We're leaving." Claire had fallen from the sky, landing next to us without making a sound. "I think I shut her up for the time being, so let's go."Bookmark here

Claire grabbed both me and Suzuhara by our arms and was about to jump away when she stumbled onto the ground letting out a pained shriek. It was the first time I had heard her in pain.Bookmark here

"There's no way I'd let two specimens like you get away that easily." The voice came from the church that had been turned into a pile of rubble by Claire. "Now that we are more evenly matched, I won't let you get away," the woman continued as she limped from out of the ruins, scars all over her body and pieces of her clothes torn off. Bookmark here

What did she mean by "evenly matched?"Bookmark here

When I turned to ask Claire, I found her on the ground as she tossed a dagger aside and clutched at the side of her leg trying to prevent blood from pouring. Bookmark here

"Clare, why aren't you healing?" Bookmark here

She looked up at me while trying to hide her pain. "Don't worry about it. All she did was throw a blessed knife at me. No big deal. Now, give me your sweater."Bookmark here

I did as I was told. Claire took my sweater, ripped both sleeves off, and wrapped them around her leg. "See. I'm all better now." I didn’t want to ruin that pained smile of hers by asking any more questions. She didn't want me to see her in pain, so I just stayed silent and helped her to her feet. Bookmark here

"You know..." The woman—or now that I remembered, Elise—calmly approached us from afar with the blade of her sword resting on her shoulder. "You're quite strong for a relatively young vampire."Bookmark here

“And you’re tougher than you look for a human. I bet I broke some of your ribs, though,” Claire retorted as she limped forward. Bookmark here

“Yes, but it’s nothing that’ll keep me down. I’m just interested in capturing you and that girl. After all, you’re so young and yet your physical abilities are those that are not present in others of a similar age. You must be special, no?” Elise tilted her head with a smirk as she dropped her sword to her side before continuing. “By the looks of it, you’re not even 500 years old and yet you appear to be a 3rd generation. You should be at least 1100 years old given that all the 2nd generations were killed that long ago. Unless…”Bookmark here

Before Elise even finished her thought, Claire flinched which prompted another smirk from the woman. Bookmark here

“Oh?! Am I right then? You’re one of her kin. The only one, in fact.”Bookmark here

“Yeah. And what of it?” Claire demanded. Bookmark here

“Well, it makes it all the more alluring. We kept an I on her for over 900 years and she never did anything of note. She never killed, she rarely was around humans, and she rarely left her home. That's part of the reason why the Church never bothered slaying her, not that we didn’t try. And now, to have her spawn right in front of me… How could I let you get away.” Bookmark here

With Claire and I having been paying attention to what she had been saying, we didn't notice her hand reaching behind her back. Elise threw another dagger before Claire could react to it effectively. But now, instead of it being aimed at Claire, it was now headed toward me. Bookmark here

Without much time to think, Claire grabbed onto me, putting herself between me and the blade. With me being so close to her body, I was able to hear the heavy impact of the blade with her back. She didn’t scream this time, or at least she tried not to. But I could still feel her wince as she embraced me.Bookmark here

But we weren’t kept together for long because a second later, Claire threw me quite a distance, along with Suzuhara, before turning to face her opponent who was sprinting toward her. Bookmark here

Elise swung her sword at Claire faster than I could process, but Claire managed to step away in time. But before Claire could counter, Elise’s sword came at her over and over again, either digging into the ground or swinging high into the air. Bookmark here

From a distance, it was easy to see that Claire was as fast as she usually was. Elise might have been able to slice me up, but that's because Claire had been surprised and didn't react in time. But now, her leg was limping, and even from here, I could hear her breathing heavily.Bookmark here

She was becoming exhausted.Bookmark here

"Yuuta?" Suzuhara shook my shoulder. "Maybe we should leave and leave this to your friend. She seemed capable last time."Bookmark here

"But we can't just leave her," I reproached.Bookmark here

It was because of me that she let her guard down and was in the leg. And because of me, she let herself get injured once again. But if that was the case, would I just continue to be a nuisance if I stayed? But I didn’t want to leave her either. Bookmark here

Probably having her our conversation, Claire yelled "You two. Leave!" Bookmark here

Suzuhara grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes. "You heard. Plus, I don't think there's much we could do against that woman. We should take this opportunity to escape."Bookmark here

Though it felt like we were just running away and leaving Claire to fend for herself, Suzuhara's eye reminded me of why we were here in the first place. The only goal was to rescue Suzuhara. Claire was just sticking to the mission. Bookmark here

With a bit of hesitation, I took the lead and pulled Suzuhara along by her hand into the forest, trying to remember the path Claire and I took when we first arrived. If we got lost in the forest, this thing would have just been for nothing. Bookmark here

After having sprinted for a while—hopping over large rocks and stumbling over tree roots—we came to a stop, or rather, Suzuhara pulled on my hand and prompted me to halt. Bookmark here

"Did you hear that?" Suzuhara whispered over the sound of the wind. Bookmark here

"I didn’t hear anything. Are you sure it wasn't just the leaves?"Bookmark here

"No, no. I definitely heard footsteps. I have pretty good hearing now that I have these," she said as she pointed to her white ears. Bookmark here

Just as she called my attention to them, both of them twitched to the right. My head jerked toward that direction. This time, I thought I had heard something in the distance. Even with the night vision from Claire's blood, I couldn’t see anything of note. Then the sound of twigs snapping came from behind and we both turned to investigate. Then our left and again from behind us. It almost felt like we were being surrounded. Bookmark here

"You can't say you didn't hear those."Bookmark here

"No, I definitely did this time." Somehow I could feel multiple pairs of eyes staring at me even if I could see anything. Bookmark here

I turned to Suzuhara and both her ears were pointed upward and the fur on her tail was standing on end.Bookmark here

When I looked forward again, my heart almost skipped a beat. Coming out from behind the trees was a tall, dark figure. You could barely tell they were human due to the dark cloak that they used to cover themselves. And the hood that was pulled over their head kept their face concealed in darkness.Bookmark here

The sound of twigs snapping came again from all sides and three more cloaked and hooded figures came out from behind the trees. They were surely the cultists sent by Elise. Bookmark here

“What do we do now?” Suzuhara asked as she got closer to me. Bookmark here

But I had no idea how we were supposed to get out of this. I had never been surrounded on all sides by people who surely wanted to kill me. Even though their hands were kept mostly hidden by the long sleeves of their cloaks, I could make out the faint glint of knives?Bookmark here

“Okay,” I whispered into Suzuhara’s ear. “The moment I see an opening and tell you to run, you run as fast as you can.”Bookmark here

“But—”Bookmark here

“Just do it. We came here to get you out, I can’t let them capture you again. Plus, who knows. Maybe Claire’s blood will keep me alive again.” But I doubted that. It’s not like it gave me super strength or anything like that. So I was just doing what little I could think of.Bookmark here

Regardless, I didn’t have time to come up with a plan. Before I knew it, all four of the cloaked figures rushed toward us. I knew they would try to kill me first, they needed Suzuhara alive. But there was no way I could try to protect her with the figures coming from every angle. Bookmark here

But just before the figure in front of me was within striking distance, a white streak dashed from behind me and sent the figure crashing into a tree. Bookmark here

I stood in awe, as well as the other three figures. The one that had been sent crashing onto the tree was motionless. And standing above him was Suzuhara, this time with three tails and her nails seemingly having turned into claws. There was even a glow to her whole body. Bookmark here

“Su-suzuhara…?”Bookmark here

She turned to me, and having realized what she had done, she looked at her hands. I can’t imagine what was going through her head after having seen her nails turn into claws. Bookmark here

But the other figure didn’t hesitate for long and one of them threw his at Suzuhara while the other two rushed at her. Bookmark here

Without even turning her head, Suzuhara swatted away the knife with the back of her hand, sending it flying into a tree. Not even a second passed before she started sprinting toward the figure closest to her. She jumped and landed a solid kick to his chest, sending him tumbling backward a few meters. Bookmark here

The third figure came running at her from the side but she roundhouse kicked him in the face—something I've only seen done in films—which dropped him to the floor instantly. I could see the fourth looking visibly apprehensive, but regardless, he continued to approach Suzuhara. Needless to say, it didn't go well for him either. Bookmark here

In less than a minute, Suzuhara had somehow knocked the four men that had tried to attack us. Bookmark here

"Since when have you been able to do that?" I asked with my mouth practically wide open. Bookmark here

"I...I don't know," she said, looking at her hands. "I've never been good at sports because I've never been very athletic. So this is a complete surprise to me. Something in my head just told me to attack."Bookmark here

"It probably has something to do with your ears, then."Bookmark here

"Well, if that's the case…" started as she ran back the way we came. Bookmark here

"Where are you going?"Bookmark here

"These new abilities are pretty cool, you know. So might as well use them. I can help out this friend of yours this way."Bookmark here

"But Claire told us to leave her. Plus, you were the one that said we should run."Bookmark here

"I've changed my mind." Bookmark here

What?! Even after weeks of captivity, Suzuhara still hadn’t lost her fickle nature. If this was during any other occasion, it might be seen as cute, but right now it was a bit frustrating.
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