Nightmare of the Past
The fires erupted around the little girl as she ran through her village. The buildings she ran past were collapsing or being destroyed. Within these fires, there were dark human like shapes. Some ran around in the scorching pillars, fluttlering their limbs frantically, letting out screams and cries for help. Other shapes trotted through the flames with perfect calmness, as if the flames weren’t even there. They would come to the shapes screaming in misery and end it, replacing their shouts for help with their own hysterical laughter.
The girl tripped and fell, covering her night gown with smudges that were a combination of dirt and blood from the corpses around her. Her silver hair was a tangled mess, and her golden yellow eyes were slightly bloated with tears running down her muddy cheeks. Sweat stained her brow and pits as she had been running in terror for a while, obeying her parents orders to run. She didn’t stop for their screams as she did what she was told. She didn’t stop for anybody’s screams. She just kept running, not even thinking about it, only relying on pure instinct.
But she was on the ground, with scrapes and bruises dotting her arms and legs. Her night gown was ripped at the shoulder. Her bare feet were brown and mud covered, as she hadn’t had time to find her footwear before the terrifying man broke down their wall with nothing but his leg.
The sky was black with smoke, fading from the yellow flames to the red embers to the darkness that now caped the sky. Torn corpses were spread about the ground, each one showing a different method of mutilation, each one with a face of terror and pain.
One man ran out of a burning building with a coat of flames. He frantically moved about, waving his arms in a hopeless attempt to subdue the fire. He eventually just tripped and fell to the ground as the little girl had done, but instead he squirmed, letting out horrible inhuman screams. His screams soon faded, as did his movements, and he became just like the rest of them on the ground, other than the little girl.
The girl looked around her, searching frantically for someone in her village, someone she knew that was still alive. She started to move again, but stopped at the sound of another girl’s crying, one younger than herself, most likely a toddler. She listened to the other girl’s crying and thought instantly that she needed to run to her. But then the crying rose in pitch and in its wild nature within the spread of a second and ended suddenly. What followed were the sounds of a woman’s laughter.
The girl froze in fear and began to tremble.
She flinched and looked up to see a man running with his son sobbing in his arms. She recognized the man as Seon, the village’s local blacksmith. She also recognized the boy in his arms. A friend of hers, named Simon. She had always been welcomed into their home and Simon always made sure to spend part of the day playing with her.
She reached out and cried for them to wait. She cried for them to come help her and save her from this nightmare. “Mr. Seon! Simmon!” she croaked constantly.
Seon turned to see the girl on the ground with terrified eyes and multiple never ending streams of tears falling from her face. She thought for a moment that the blacksmith would come and pick her up as well, and save her as he was also saving his own blood.
Her moment of relief, however, cracked and fell apart as Seon turned to keep running, not even making an attempt to come to her aid. He did not get far though, as the moment he turned to keep running he nearly ran into a robed man who was a head taller than him. Before Seon could turn the other way, the robed man instantly grabbed both Seon and Simon’s heads and lifted them off the ground as they were sacks, with Simon’s back turned to him. Seon struggled and cursed, but the robe man laughed and tightened his brip over the man’s head. “Don’t struggle. You’ll only make it harder on yourself.”
Simon opened his eyes and saw his friend on the ground, staring in horror. His eyes flew open and he reached out with his arm as if he was pleeing for her help. “Beatrice..!” was all that came out of him as the robed man crunched their skulls simultaneously. Their bodies went limp, and the man threw them aside as trash. As he threw them aside, some transparent seemed to rip from their lifeless bodies. The monsterous man took these fluttering objects and shoved both into his mouth. He then began his slow walk towards to the little girl.
Beatrice stared on completely still, as the murderer of her friend came to her. The man had a smile on his face, with blood running down his chin and his teeth smeared in red. His ghastly appearance was more so with the addition of his slitted crystal like violet eyes. Both slits were focused on Beatrice, as if they were blades waiting to cut her down. “Well now, you look like a delicate piece of meat.” His voice was rough yet smooth, with a bit of a quizical tone to it. It was not a voice that belonged to this monster. “You’ll make a good snack for the road. Athhough, I still feel room for desert.” He grinned, revealing his blood stained fangs.
“Hey, boss, you gonna share that?” a woman said as she emurged from a burning building. Her face had blood on it, as did her hands, but unlike “boss”, she carried a weapon, which happened to be a rusty hatchet.
“Boss” looked over at the new arrival. “I’m afraid this ones soul is to small for a whole mea. And remember, Stala, call me Dulir.” He was completely friendly, without a hint of irritation or impassiveness. It was not the tone that belonged to this monster.
Stala shrugged. “Whateva’. I just got done with a family of souls anyway.” She grinned, but unlike Dulir, she didn’t have any fangs. Her eyes were the same as Dulir’s- slitted, crystal, like glowing- but instead were light green. “I’m full. You were right, boss. This village was pack’n with some tasty souls.”
Dulir placed both hands over his heart. “My dear Stala, have I ever led you or any of our pack wrong?” He spoke like priest would to a faltering believer. “Allow me my desert, and I will lead you all on another prosperous hunt.” He looked at Beatrice, his face civilized yet vicious. It was not the face that belonged to this monster.
He began to stalk closer to Beatrice. “Do ya have ta literally eat’em, boss? All that really matters is the soul.” She didn’t share the same practice, as evident by her bloodless mouth.
Dulir chuckled humorously. “You second generation demons! Does the prospect of eating what you once were really hold you back from it?” He laughed a bit more and looked down at Beatrice, who was deathly still. “I suppose only true blooded demons truly understand what it means to catch your prey.” He licked his lips slowly, picking up the blood around his mouth.
Remained completely still, not moving or even trembling anymore. Fear had captured her and rapped chains around her. There was nothing she could do. She knew she couldn’t outrun this monster. She knew fighting back was futile. All she could do was watch, starring into Death’s face. When Dulir looked ready to begin, she closed her eyes, the last movement she would ever freely make.
But it wasn’t the last.
An arrow shot over the flames plunged into Stala’s back, puncturing her lung. She cried out and grunted from the pain. She began coughing, blood coming out with every outburst.
Dulir looked at her with disregard. “Just pull it out. The wound should heal.” She did as Dulir said and began yanking the staff out, along with the blade. She gripped her teeth as she felt the blade tearing through her again on its exodus of her lung and skin. “It may hurt, but you are a demon. Your wound should mend itself immediately.” She cried out again as she finally pulled out the other end. “See? Now isn’t that better?” Dulir said in a fatherly voice.
But her wound didn’t close up. It just continued to spit blood, just as Stala was. “What the…” He grabbed the bloodsoaked arrow that had impaled his comrade and examined it. At first glance it seemed to have no specialty. Just an ordinary arrow. But upon closer inspection, Dulir saw the enxhantments made to it and recognized its origins instantly. He cursed just as two more arrows came gliding towards him.
These arrows were not nearly as successful as their predicessor had been. Dulir swiped the arrows with ease, breaking each as his hand came close to them. Beatrice gapped at the sight of it. How could anyone just swat away arrows as if they were nothing more than mere sticks? Then again, Dulir was no mere man.
Another pair of arrows came at Dulir. Rather than swiping them away, he half heartedly jumped back over Beatrice, raising himself high in the air, something no mere human could do. He landed on his feet in the same refined posture he been in. The arrows landed and stuck themselves in mud.
Beatrice looked back at Dulir. For a moment their eyes met. The golden yellow of her terrified and sad but curious eyes to his calm and collected but hungry slitted eyes. Dulir grinned at Beatrice. “It appears desert will have to wait. Another time perhaps..” He turned and ran into a building at a blinding speed, almost completely imperceptible to Beatrice’s eyes.
She took a look at Stala to see her standing, hunched over from the pain in her lung. The wounded demon held the rusty hatchet, dangling loosely at her side. She looked up towards the direction from whence the arrows came. Beatrice did the same and saw a tall figure with a blade come running from the darkness, then another who was a bit shorter and not as thickset. Stala gruntted at them and raised her hatchet and began to half charge half stumble towards them. “Heaven bastards!” She shouted with a gurgling sound in her throat. She raised her hatchet to the tall swordsman and was about to bring it down tepidly. This unenthusiatic approach did not get her far, for the swordsman swung his blade and sliced the monster’s arm off. The hatchet fell to the ground, its fall being muffled by the bloody mud. The swordsman brought his sword up and brought it back down in a crooked vertical slash, slicing her down frm her shoulder to the side of her stomach. Blood shot out from the opening, spraying the already painted ground. She fell to her side and ceased movement.
Beatrice didn’t know whether to thank the man or run. For all she new, this stranger was here for the same purpose as the monsters were. What stopped her though were his garmets. The man wore solid blue long coat that appeared to have padding under its shoulder pieces with a small silver breast plate strapped over his chest. He wore black gloves that looked to squeaze his hand, and his pants were the same but different in that they were instead a bit more loose. He wore silver grey boots that rose half way up his calf and folded down. Over his matted blonde hair was a blue cap with a gold insignia in its center. Beatrice looked closer at it and saw it was a miniature golden gate. She recognized it from Father Tomen’s amulet and from symbols that decorated the cathedral.
House of Heaven, she thought. She had always thought other members were as Father Tomen were: robed in pure white with a funny cap, waving around some gold amulet, always spending time with people in a friendly mannor, teaching children the way of Heaven and what not. She had never pictured them bearing swords and armor and other uniforms, cutting beasts in human form down and barking orders like this one was.
“…and I want the village cleansed of any demonic presence. Once the abominations are pushed towards the center, we’ll inact Circle of Purification and seal these demon’s souls into the epitaph. Am I clear?” The man he had been shouting at soluteed him across the chest and ran to do his task. The man who had cut down Stala looked down at Beatrice, who was starring in bewilderment. “And will someone do something with the gapping kid? I have more pressing matters to attend to as you can see!”
“I’ll take her, your Eminence,” said a boy with similar attire but of a far younger complexion and without the cap.
“See to it then, boy! I’m going to continue the hunt.” The man trotted off into the burning village, vigilant of what may come out of every building.
The boy walked up to Beatrice and kneeled down and offered his hand with a reasuring smile. “Don’t be frightened. Heaven’s Regiment is here now.” His voice young and filled with the same care as Beatrice’s brother’s voice had. Before his throat was ripped out in front of her.
All the memories flooded back and she ran into the boy, sobbing. She just wanted it all to end, for the wretched nightmare to come to an end. The boy rapped his arms around lightly, comforting her. Even with him kneeling and her standing, she bairly reached the same height. He picked her up in his arms and began to walk towards his camp.
Beatrice looked at her home, her burning home. Make it all end, she prayed silently. Instantly, everything didn’t look right. Burning houses began to bend awkwardly. Bodies began to float strangely, men began running backwards even though their bodies were leaned forward. Everything began to bend and wave around. The sound became blurred, with more and more voices coming and going, coming and going, coming and going…
Beatrice woke up with her eyes wide open. She was in a white bed, one fit for an adult. She jolted up and peered around the room. It wasn’t the wooden planks of her childhood, but instead the hard, thick concrete walls of her current one. She swung around the bed and sat on it with her legs over the side. She looked down and saw the skirt of her lavender night gown, with no patterns or decorative texture on any of it. She stood and moved towards the room’s mirror, past the closet with blue uniform long coats. Leaning against the polished wood was a sheathed thin sword, one for jabbing rather than slashing.
She looked into the mirror not to find a little girl but a grown woman before her. Her golden eyes were harder and more serious, and her hair was no longer a tangled uncontrollable mess, but a long mop of wavy and lush silver beauty. It fell down half way to her somewhat flat chest and half way down her shoulder blades.
Beatrice sighed. Twenty years now, Beatrice. Will you let the past haunt you forever? There was no answer. She sighed once more and pulled out one of her uniforms and began to dress. The day ahead of her was going to be long.