Chapter 1: Violet Eyes

What happens when you are born into this world? What happens if you open your eyes and you are immediately ostracised by those who have guided you and loved you?

Alexei is a newborn in this world – born with a teenager’s body and a man’s mind. But the moment of truth is about to happen, the moment when he will truly know his place in the world.

All he has to do is open his eyes.


 

It was the moment my life changed – the moment I opened my eyes. I saw the expressions on their faces as they looked at me. Was it relief?  Panic?  Horror?  Then, a wail from the woman in front of me sent a foreboding chill down my spine.  They were afraid but of what?  Voices murmured around me, all melding into one worried tone.  What’s wrong?  Tears began to fall from my eyes.  Someone – anyone… tell me why you are all looking at me like that… tell me what is wrong?

A firm hand gripped my shoulder.  I knew this strength.  It was my father.  I looked at him.  There was something about his aged face that resonated deeply inside me, making my chest tighten.  Weren’t they supposed to be happy when I opened my eyes?  After all, they were the ones who made me – my parents, my family.  I had heard their voices for the six weeks I had been alive.  They helped me learn to be human – to walk, to talk, to eat, to move around without hurting myself, to feel the world around me.  The woman in front of me sobbed into her hands, two middle-aged men comforting her.  I knew that voice – it had cried for me once before, but not like this – it was my mother.  Before I could say anything, I could feel myself being steered out of the room, my father making my shaking legs walk towards the front door.

***********************

Darkness.

It surrounded her, embraced her, kept her safe.  Her turbulent violet eyes surveyed the twinkling city below, as its lights spread out like a weed’s roots.  The Manor stood high above the city near a sheer rock wall of the vast cavern the humans resided in. Two knocks echoed on the door.  It creaked open.  A slither of light crept into the room as a girl no older than sixteen entered the darkness.  Long black hair followed her in, veiling the light momentarily in darkness, before the door shut behind her, giving barely enough time to glimpse those emerald green eyes.  They surveyed the silhouette in front of her – a pale-haired princess stood stoically before her, clothed in black, contrasting sharply with her mauve-tinted white hair, emotionally devoid violet eyes turned her way.  They were asking her why she was invading this dark sanctuary.

” Another has been born…”

Nothing but those words were needed.  The pale-haired princess stood from her place on the sill of the giant window, opened the door and strode from the room.  The emerald-eyed girl followed in her wake.  Through the halls they moved, passing many others.  Some of those they passed bowed to the princess, others gave stiff salutes of respect.  The two tread down a skilfully carved wooden staircase from the second floor to the first, entered a foyer and then left through a pair of battered, but magnificent, timber doors.  The crunch of gravel underfoot echoed into the silent darkness.  It was there they stood, and waited.

***********************

Silence.  It pounded in my ears.  Where were my parents taking me?  We had walked so far already.  I looked behind me, and saw the sparkling lights of the city shimmer in the distance.  A huge metropolis sitting in the middle of a vast cavern, its many lights dotting the earthen canopy.  I remembered vaguely walking through narrow, dimly-lit streets, spotting the occasional stranger walking when they strode underneath one of the many street lights.  There were others as well, but not on the street.  They were nestled in the comforts of their own homes, ignorant of the journey I was being taken on by my parents.

Soft sobs came from my mother in front of me, my father placing an arm around her to comfort her. She hadn’t stopped crying since I opened my eyes.  A searing heat burned inside my chest.  Why wouldn’t they talk to me, when it was their voices that had guided me for the six weeks of my life up until now?  The silence was then replaced by the crunching of gravel under foot.  There were soft yellow lights up ahead, numerous small rectangular ones.  We drew closer and closer until I could see what they made – a large imposing two-storey building.  Light spilled from two open doors.  I stopped behind my parents.  They huddled together as if afraid of what this building contained.  The soft sobs that my mother had been crying now became restrained wails, my father clutching her tighter to his side.  Two people stood illuminated at the doorway – one with pale hair clad in long sleeved dark clothes, the other with dark hair who wore a short white dress.  I squinted my eyes, making out the dark-haired one’s feminine face.  There was a soft smile upon it that lessened the fire inside of me.  But the other – the one dressed in black – I couldn’t tell if that person was a boy or a girl.  Their pale hair just reached their black-clothed shoulders.

The one with pale hair stepped forward, the shadows playing across their face for a moment, light momentarily illuminating their violet eyes.  My heart stopped, my breath caught in my throat.  An intense prickling sensation coursed through my body, making it stiffen and constrict.  There was something about this person that made me want to run – every instinct told me to flee but I had to steel myself.  What did my parents want with a person like this?

I saw those violet eyes narrow sharply as they laid their gaze upon my parents.  They flinched, their legs shaking fiercely.  That smouldering fire roared back to life; a low growl resonated from my throat.  Leave them alone.  Stop scaring them.  And then, a voice like ice sliced through the stifled wails.

” So… you have come to forfeit your child?”

Wait… what?  Forfeit… me?  I looked towards my parents, my eyes wide, awaiting their response.  My heart thundered against my chest like a war drum.  No… no… why would they… I just opened my eyes…  My father looked up at this pale-haired bastard of a person, his face wrought with emotions I couldn’t describe.  His eyes told of sadness, but a sadness I couldn’t comprehend.  Then there was intense anger and… something else.  As I puzzled myself, trying to understand, my mother gave a short nod.

Seeing that nod vanquished that raging inferno inside of me.  It just stopped.  They were… giving me away?  Why?  What did I do?  I didn’t do anything but open my eyes…  Everyone had been talking about it for the last two weeks – the moment a person is truly born into this world is when they open their eyes.  No… no… NO!

As I stretched out my hand towards my mother, feeling the warm streams of tears flow down my cheeks, my father turned.  Smack!  All fear and sadness was forgotten in that moment.  I withdrew my hand quickly; my father had hit my hand with his.  It stung.  That firm hand that had once guided me, had kept me safe from harm, had now just hurt me… even the warm presence that had once surrounded him had vanished.  He looked at me with such… anger.  What did I do wrong?  Tell me and I’ll make it right again!  But my mouth wouldn’t allow those words to appear.

He turned back towards the two before the doorway.  The pale-haired person spoke again, that chilling voice making me shudder.

” Then abandon all connections and leave.  This child is now one of the Hunters.”

My mother couldn’t control herself.  Her wails pierced the darkness.  Fear flitted across my father’s face, but he hugged her tightly and cooed calming words to her as she completely broke down.  I stood there, my thoughts a blurred storm, my body frozen.  Abandoned… forfeited…. those words ran through my mind, echoing painfully over and over.  More tears flowed.  Why… why… why?!

” Speak your name. First only.”

It wasn’t a question.  It was a command.  My body stiffened as I turned my attention away from my parents and onto the pale-haired figure.  Though my mind was blank and my body numb, I finally managed to speak.

” Alexei.”

Those eyes stared back at me, unblinking, unfazed.  My body screamed at me to run – this person was dangerous.  It took every fibre of my willpower to stop my legs from moving.

” Alexei, you have been abandoned by those who have cared for you these past six weeks.  Will you, in turn, cut all ties with them and join your brethren inside this house before you?”

Shock filled my empty mind.  This person wanted to… accept me?  This cold, emotionless person wanted someone that had just been thrown away?  A dull ache filled my chest, the tears slowing, my throat tightening, making me gasp for air.  So there was someone that wanted me, even though this person was the very essence of emptiness.  My eyes wandered over to the long dark-haired girl standing to the side.  Her smile, her soft features… were they curved into the expressions I had wanted to see from my parents the moment I had opened my eyes?

I swallowed hard, and stepped towards the dark-haired girl, my hand outstretched like before.  This time instead of a sting greeting me, I felt the warmth of her fingertips as they met my hand.  They were so soft.  That warmth began to spread from my fingers and eventually permeated through my entire being.  Knees growing weak, I felt myself fall into her, my shoulders nestled into her embracing arms.  Her face looked down at me with that soft smile, her eyes lulled closed, her hand on top of my head stroking it tenderly.  So this is what the other person looked like when embracing me.

” Alexei’s choice has been made,” came the velvety voice of the dark-haired girl above me.  It was the most beautiful voice I had ever heard – there were no hints of roughness in her sweet tones.  I could hear my mother hiccup in distress, though the sound was muffled by the delicate arms that embraced me. ” Be gone from this place until you birth another of our brethren.”

I shifted slightly to see my father’s stony face nod.  He and my mother turned and shuffled down the path, eventually disappearing into the shadows, the crunching of the gravel dying in the distance.  The ache inside grew, even though this girl’s warmth comforted me.  Then, as if in response to my growing hurt, she squeezed me tighter.  I glanced up at her. That inviting smile was again upon her lips.

” Come, Alexei.  Let me escort you into your new home.”

She released me from that warm embrace.  I willed my knees to support my weight, that ache inside of me growing tenfold.  This was really happening… my parents had left me… abandoned me in this place with this sweet girl, and that pale-haired being.  That’s right.  That person was the one who accepted me.  My newly opened eyes turned to find my cold-voiced saviour but found the place where that person had been standing empty.  Snapping my head toward the open doors, I managed to glimpse  a trail of pale hair and black-clothed body disappearing into the light.

A tug on my hand made me stumble forward.  The dark-haired beauty pulled me into the light of the doors.  It dazzled my new sight for a moment before a swarm of dark figures appeared before me.  Slowly they turned into the many eager faces of boys and girls, ranging from the late teens to the early twenties, but none were as young as the two that had just taken me in. They were all ogling at me, looking expectantly for words I couldn’t bring forth.  However, the dark-haired angel carved a path through the crowd and tugged me into a darkened corridor.  We walked for a moment or two longer before she opened a door that was the entrance to a stark room.  I walked in, my eyes unable to see anything but two elegant cream-coloured couches that faced each other.

When I turned to question why this room only contained these two seats, I was greeted with that same warm smile that melted me inside.  It instantly reassured me.  As I sat down, she sat opposite me.  In any other circumstances, it would have been eerie – two people sitting in near complete darkness – but this person in front of me made it feel as though there were lights all around the room, shining brilliantly upon us.  Searching the soft, cushioned fabric beneath me for that warmth with my hands, I turned to see her eyes studying me.

” Um… uh…” Those words stumbled from my lips. They echoed around the room, disturbing the silence that would otherwise occupy it.

” My name is Kyra.”  Her honey sweet tones washed over me.  I slumped into my chair, thanking my good fortune that it was dark inside this room.  Her outline, I could barely see it – delicate, warm hands were folded on her lap, her white dress catching the light that snuck in from underneath the door and the long curls of her hair cascaded down either shoulder.

She continued. ” I am second-in-command of this household, home of the family known as the Hunters.”  Her slim frame moved forward and I felt her warm hand place itself comfortingly on one of my knees.  I knew there must be a smile upon her lips as she said this. ” I am glad you have joined us, Alexei.”

I could feel those emerald eyes burn their gaze upon my face.  Turning away, perhaps to hide from those clear eyes, or hide my face that was growing hotter by the second, I asked a simple question.

” The… the Hunters?”

Kyra nodded. ” Yes, the Hunters.  Like you, we have all been abandoned by the ones who made us the moment we opened our eyes.”

That word tore at my heart – abandoned.  Again, it ran around and around in my head.  I never wanted to hear that word again. A single tear escaped my eye and I hastily wiped it away.  My chest felt like it was about to burst open, heaving heavily.  The warm hand on my knee squeezed in reassurance.

” You needn’t be sad, Alexei.  You have found a new family now – one that will stay with you forever.  Those people that left you here, they are no longer your parents.  They are merely the ones who brought you into this world.”

” What?!” I suddenly shouted. ” What do you mean they are just the ones who brought me into this world?  Isn’t that important?”  That raging inferno had returned, her indifference to those important people shocking me.  It hurt so much.  Why? Why did they leave me here?

” As important as that is, they do not wish to have any further contact with you.”

My hand gripped the cushioned fabric beneath me tightly, my breath coming out in short, sharp bursts.  ” Why… why would they do that?  Didn’t I just open my eyes?  Wasn’t I just truly born into this world?”  My words shook as they left my mouth.  It felt like I was going crazy… that I was going to lose control over everything.  I wanted to do something, anything, to get rid of this swirling, overwhelming emotion inside of me.

” It is because you are different to them,” Kyra said softly.

” What does that have to do with them leaving me here?” I cried.

Kyra shook her head, her long locks swaying back and forth. ” You haven’t had a chance to look in a mirror yet… have you?”

I jerked my head upwards, staring at her.  A mirror?  What would my reflection tell me?  A heavy sigh escaped the soft lips of the teenage girl in front of me.  She stood and shuffled into the back of the room.  I could hear things clunking around – it sounded like she was searching for something.  Finally the shifting sounds stopped and I felt her move behind me.  Her arms suddenly rested themselves on my shoulders, holding something in front of my face.  There was an awkward silence between us for a moment.

” You have curiously coloured eyes, Alexei.”

A flash from the mirror blinded me as it reflected the light from underneath the door suddenly.  Slowly, my vision returned, and there was my reflection, looking back at me.  My breath caught in my throat as I looked at the eyes looking back at me.

They were violet.

Kyra withdrew the mirror and sidled back to her chair, where she sat back down into it softly. Her hands were once again folded into her lap. ” Possessing coloured eyes is the sign that you are not a normal human.  It is the sign that you are a Hunter.”

Normal human?  I… wasn’t… human…?  Summoning what was left of my tattered courage, I managed another question. ” What do you mean… I’m not a normal human?”

We locked gazes. It felt like she had told this story many times before, but told it to a different person every time.  Her voice was soft, almost sad as she spoke.

” When we are born from the SY-Stem, we are born at the body age of 23.  This means our bodies have already aged but our minds haven’t so when we are born, we act as newborns with fully-grown bodies.  But, unlike normal humans, the bodies of Hunters do not age.  In fact, our bodies grow younger at a far slower pace, until they stop at around the age of 16.  I am technically the second oldest Hunter ever, but, as you can see, I look as though I am one of the youngest.”

That would explain why there were no adults in the foyer.  The pale-haired person that was with Kyra when they greeted me and my parents… who exactly was that?  That person looked just younger than Kyra, and I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl.

” We cannot die from age,” Kyra continued. ” The only way we can obtain death is if we are killed, and that is done by performing our duty.”

” Duty?” I asked softly. The more information she gave me, the more questions arose.

” Yes, our duty.”  There was a note of bitterness in her voice.  What was it about this duty that she didn’t like?  ” Because we cannot die of old age, our kind was forcefully charged with the task of keeping this city safe from those above ground.  The girl that accepted you – she is our leader, and the one that has lived the longest.  She was the first Hunter, and was the one who was forced by the Elders at the time into protecting the humans and the city. Then, as time went on, more of us were born, and protecting the city became the duty for our kind.”

” So… that person was a girl… I honestly couldn’t tell…”  It was true, the only feature that was faintly feminine was her just-longer-than-shoulder-length pale hair.

Kyra smiled softly.  ” Mm.  She’s had to become like that.”

Become like that?  Was she once not the essence of emptiness?  Now wasn’t really the time to be asking those questions, even though my interest had now been captured well and truly.  There were more pressing matters at hand.  I wanted to know more of… why.  I breathed in deeply, steadying myself for the answer to the question that had formed in my mind.  Letting it out slowly, I looked at Kyra, catching her eye.

” Why were we given this duty?  Was it simply given to us because we live a long time?  What is special about us other than… our… mutations?  What happened for us to be so different from… normal people?”  The last few words were hard to say.  Normal people… I was one of those not so long ago.

As an answer to the question, Kyra sighed heavily.  She gazed down at her lap. ” We do not know the reason why we are like this.  We only know that we were born this way.  We are hated and despised and ridiculed because of this, and yet, it is not our fault.  We didn’t make ourselves this way.  They do not understand anything – it has been ingrained into their thinking over the years that we are something less than human.”

So, in the end, my most important question couldn’t be answered.  This left a gaping hole in what I had learned in the past few minutes, not that much of it made any sense.  The ache in my chest was dulled as confusion spread.  This was almost too much.  I looked down into my lap, my hands supporting my face.  Being abandoned by those people, I was beginning to stop thinking of them as my parents, taken in by the very essence of emptiness, then guided into a dark room by a dark-haired saviour and told the reason of abandonment, but not the reason of why people like me existed or why we were so despised.

” What am I supposed to do now…” I asked the thin air hopelessly, not expecting a response.  Everything was such a whirl of emotions and now it was all taking a toll.  I could feel a black hole appear inside of me, sucking everything into its nothingness.

” Those that come into this house must be judged,” Kyra responded, her sweet voice clearing my cluttered mind momentarily.

I opened my mouth to question why, but before any sounds could come out, the door opened abruptly. The light dazzled my sight, blacking out the figure that stood in the doorway.  I saw Kyra’s figure turn to see who it was, then I heard a gasp.

” I will judge this one,” said that familiar icy, empty voice.

Blinking furiously to regain my sight, I started to see that pale hair.  Scanning this figure upwards, for a fleeting moment, the light revealed another secret of this emptiness – violet eyes.

Kyra stood suddenly, the gathered material of her dress ruffling as she straightened.

” But… Jace…” the angelic girl started, her voice stumbling in what seemed like shock.  It sounded like this was different to how it normally went.

However my attention was caught elsewhere.  For the first time since I had laid eyes on this person, I knew her gender and name.  I stood too, facing the leader of the Hunters, that black hole still gnawing at my insides but at a slower pace.  This person was going to test me.  Surely that meant I was a person of some worth – how much would be determined by this test.  It meant, even by the smallest of margins, that I was wanted.

” I will be the one judging, Kyra,” Jace repeated firmly.  Her gaze turned towards me.  The hole inside me immediately froze.  Instead, a strange feeling sprung up from it and began spreading itself throughout my body.  My heart began to race.  What was this?  Those worries about abandonment, about not being a normal human – they all evaporated the moment this emptiness locked gazes with me.

” Come.”

With a whirl of pale hair, Jace strode out into the corridor. Kyra glanced at me, worry rife in her emerald eyes, before hurrying after the leader. I  followed the two out of the room.  The people that had once swarmed me before stayed back as Jace and Kyra parted them, some even bowing or saluting to her.  She must be respected to get that sort of reception. But there was something else in the eyes of those I passed – fear.  They were… afraid of her?

Turning to the right, I had followed the two into a large open area with a cushioned floor.  Looking around, I realised we had entered in through the only entrance.  In front of me I could faintly hear the worried tones of Kyra.  She was trying to talk Jace out of judging me.  Why?  Indeed, she may be the leader of the Hunters, and she may be far more experienced in whatever I was about to be judged in, but surely she would go easy on me as I had only joined moments before.

” Kyra, enough,” came that icy voice.  Kyra immediately stopped talking.  ” You will not sway my thinking.”

Jace faced me, those violet eyes feeling like they could peer through my very soul.  My breath shortened from this exhilarating new sensation running through my body.  Kyra shot a worried look my way before nodding and walked over to the entrance, her expression one of defeat.  I stood opposite Jace.  She didn’t move, her entire being honed in on me, or that’s what it felt like.

” W-what… do I do?” I asked cautiously, not daring to take my own violet eyes off this person.

” If you are unable to survive me here, then you will not live among us as one of the Hunters. You might as well die.”

My mind went blank.  It wasn’t the words she actually spoke that caused fear to suddenly infiltrate my confused whirl of emotions – it was the dead certainty in those words that told my body to flee.  A shiver of fear ran uncontrollably down my spine as I watched her withdraw a straight-edged katana from its sheath upon her back.  Its blade was pure white with blue runes forged into it.

There was a moment of stillness before it happened.  Far quicker than my untrained eye could see, she launched a swiping attack at me.  It was only by mere instinct that I stumbled backwards, avoiding most of the force behind that swing.  Only most of it.

I felt it. The cold steel pierced my skin and sliced so easily through my flesh.  I bit my lip, holding in the scream that so desired to be released.  The katana left me as I breathed heavily, pain searing through my body.  A warm stream of blood trickled from the wound on my collarbone, down towards my hips, soaking my shirt in the process.  This person… there was no hesitation in her attacks, no moment where she could have thought to herself no, this person is defenseless.

It was in this fleeting moment I understood why the other Hunters I passed had fear in their eyes.  The person that now towered over me – not only was she the essence of emptiness, she had no hesitation about killing those that may become her allies.  What – was – she…

” Get up.”

Again, my body moved on its own to her command.  Those violet eyes were beginning to streak with red – the same red that now soaked my shirt.  A quick flick of her blade splattered my blood across the floor.

” If you want to live, fight.”

She sprung into action again, her pale hair swirling furiously behind her.  I felt her blade graze my injured shoulder as I leapt to the right.

” Fight?!” I asked in a slightly crazed voice.  ” Fight you?! How the hell am I supposed to do that?!”

Her answer to my question was another well-aimed thrust, this time at my torso.  Again, I moved to my right, dodging it fully this time.  I was already fighting – fighting with myself.  All the emotions caused by the events of the last few hours were raging inside of me, my rage at this unfair situation feeding the growing storm.

The sharp sound of metal cutting air made my body move instinctively.  I couldn’t fight her if I had no weapons.  How was I supposed to get one?  My eyes flicked around the room using the scarce moments between her attacks.  There was nothing… nothing at all.  What was this room?!  An impulsive thought of disarming her and using her own weapon upon her was speedily dashed by a slice to the back of my shirt, turning to see her finish the stroke expertly and ready herself for another in the same movement.  How the hell did she get behind me?!

My eyes widened and I heard Kyra scream my name from the entrance.  The pale-haired princess drove her blade down with the strength of both her arms as she leapt into the air.  Her eyes were almost completely blood red now.  Was this… the end?  The black hole that had frozen inside of me now became an intense vacuum, sucking any and all positive emotions into it.  This was it…  The only emotion that remained was that smouldering sensation.  It was taking over, drowning out the fear, the hopelessness, making one impossible thought appear.

I can win…

No, I thought to myself.  This was it…  I wasn’t worthy enough.  I was going to be killed by the leader of the Hunters, that was good enough for someone that wasn’t a normal human.

I can win…

If I wasn’t good enough… I wasn’t good enough.  That’s it.

I can win…

That thought wouldn’t vanish, despite the reality facing me.  Jace’s blade was edging closer and closer.  I closed my eyes and waited for my end, hoping that it would be quick.

I can win…

CLANG!

That ringing sound made my eyes fly open.  I felt the pressure of the strike against me but there were no sears of pain, just merely a relief of this pressure after a few seconds.  I watched as the pale-haired princess leapt backwards with a peculiar expression on her face.

She was smiling.

It wasn’t really a smile, more like a smirk – one that said she knew that whatever had just happened, would have happened all along.  Confused by this, I looked to Kyra whose hands covered her mouth, her emerald eyes wide in shock.  It was then I felt the weight in my right hand.  Taking my eyes off the dark-haired angel, I saw it.

A long straight blade of dark steel.

But when… what… how…

I glanced up at the leader of the Hunters who flew back into action.  The sound of the two blades meeting rang through the room.  Clattering together, I was managing to stave off Jace’s attack.  There was no time to think about how or where this blade I now held came from, because the leader of the Hunters was kicking it up a notch.

Ducking underneath my now unparried swing, she swiveled skillfully on her feet to go for my legs. I barely blocked it, the strength of her swing forcing me back.  Again and again, her attacks were met by my blade-wielding instincts.  That burning sensation roared to tempest-like proportions and that impossible thought ingrained itself into my mind.

I can win!

A smile found its way onto my lips and I almost laughed.  I was fighting her!  I was fighting the leader of the Hunters on equal terms.  Driving with all my might against a parried attack, I forced her back a few steps.  It was really happening.  Against all odds, starting without a weapon and while injured, I was winning!

However, the smirk that had been upon Jace’s face had disappeared, fleeting as it was.  I managed a quick glance to her eyes, and my breath stopped in my throat.  They were pure blood-red now, her pupils almost slits.

” Don’t get ahead of yourself,” her icy voice growled in warning.

In an instant, a kick found my stomach and I was thrown into the nearest wall.  A loud crunch echoed from behind me, the impact leaving a giant circular ring of crushed stone.  Pain like I had never experienced before seared through my body as I felt the bones in my injured arm shatter.  Then, I felt the cold steel of a blade pressed against my throat.  I looked up, my eyes watering from the pain.  Her face swam in the tears clouding my vision, but her livid blood-red eyes were clear.  I then noticed the blade against my neck was coloured black with pulsating red runes forged into it, the white blade held at her side by her other hand.

” JACE, NO!” screamed Kyra’s voice and her figure bizarrely moved to Jace in a moment, her hands now clutching desperately and firmly at the princess’s arm. ” Enough Jace, enough!”

The blade stayed for a moment before it was lowered.  Seeing that Jace had now pulled back, Kyra turned toward me.  I witnessed tears streaming down that beautiful face.  If this was the end, then I wanted an answer.  Moving my gaze up to my opponent, I awaited my fate.  Jace, the leader of the Hunters, stared right back down at me, her eyes ever so slowly reverting back to what I assumed was their natural colour – violet – like mine.  There were a few tense moments of silence before…

” Very well. You have proven yourself,” the pale-haired princess declared.  ” From now on, you will be known as Kusanagi.”

And with that, she strode from the room in a whirl of pale hair, scattering those who had gathered to watch the fight at the doorway.  I could barely see their faces as I watched the leader of the Hunters leave.  I then felt the soft hand of Kyra curl around to my side as she attempted to support my weight.  Somehow, she knew that what strength left in me was being rapidly drained by my injuries.  It wasn’t long before both of us were on our knees.

” Persevere, Alexei.  I will get you medical aid shortly,” Kyra said, unable to conceal the worry that plagued her sweet tones.

All I could manage in reply was a smile.  It was a smile of one that had just been completely and utterly defeated, and yet at the same time, accepted wholeheartedly.  If I died right now, it wouldn’t be so bad.  It was true the darkness was rolling in, soon blanketing all my senses.  Kyra’s voice was the only thing that stayed until I lost consciousness.


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