Chapter One ~ The Angel's Kidnapping
The knife slightly angled to the left, missing it's target by a mere inch. The thrower: a young woman around sixteen years of age. Her light, jade-like green hair was tied up by a thin pink ribbon. Her eyes were of two different tones - one blue, one green - and were staring intently at the thrown knife. Behind her was an old man. His silver hair and wrinkled features somehow did not apply to his youthful emerald eyes.
"You missed, Rydia," the old man said.
The young woman named Rydia gritted her teeth and uttered a low growl as she took out another knife, aiming at the tree again.
"I know I missed; you don't have to say that every time, Odin," she muttered.
Odin smirked. "You're not concentrating hard enough."
Not when you're watching right behind me and criticizing.
She was about to throw another knife when he interrupted her.
"I heard that. You have to get used to people watching you." He began to leave. "I know that it's easier throwing multiple knives, but there's going to be a time when one strike and only one strike will determine the tide of the battle. Remember that."
Odin's tall figure slowly began to disappear in the mist. "That will be all for today. Go get refreshed and head to Lilandre to buy some supplies."
Rydia lowered her throwing arm and sighed.
Rydia strolled into Lilandre's gates in a cheerful mood. If going to buy some supplies was a job to get done, then it was also a chance for Rydia to socialize. Lilandre was a tiny village situated a couple of miles north from the temple in which she lived in since childhood. It was the only village close to her home since she and her master lived secluded from mostly all human and demi contact. Besides the town that she occasionally visited, the only other social contact that the master and apprentice received were wanderers and travelers passing by who stayed a night or two at their vast home.
Although Lilandre was small, it was alive with business. A large crowd of people gathered around the town center, but Rydia paid no mind to them and entered the supply store. The clerk was a young woman as well with matching sea blue hair and eyes. Her eyes brightened in delight at the sight of Rydia.
"Oh, Rydia! It's been a while!" she greeted with a smile.
"Yeah, it has," Rydia replied and returned the smile with one of her own.
"The usual, yes?"
"Uh-huh. Odin ran out of sake again, and he's bored of pestering me with my practicing." She cocked her head towards the door outside. "I saw a big crowd outside the center before I came in. What's going on?"
"Oh...that. There's some sort of rumor going around town about some predator attacking the villagers. I'm not sure about the details, though. Maybe you should take a look."
"I see..." Rydia murmured as the woman handed her a large jug.
"Thanks again!" the woman said. "Visit more often next time, ne?"
"Okay, I will."
Rydia left the shop and headed towards the crowd, curiosity taking over. A predator, huh? Might as well to look and see what Master Odin can do something about it... She fought her way through the crowd to see what interested the villagers so: a poster.
The beast from Morcadia has returned.
Wings of the devil and the eyes of an angel.
REWARD: 100,000 G
"Killed a family whom was easily dismembered? A young man was strolling around town after curfew when he was suddenly attacked by this being. Cases are linked through the similar slash wounds across the arms, legs, and chest..." she read to herself. "Witnessed by various people during the night, demi and human alike, who do not dare reveal their names. Some say the being has wings of the devil and the eyes of an angel."
Rydia blinked in confusion, rereading the last sentence. For some odd reason, the word "angel" struck a cord in her memory, yet she could not quite place it.
I have to tell Odin about this...it just doesn't feel right...
Unknown to her, a dark figure appeared in the shadows, light blue eyes eyeing her every move. She had stopped right before it, but she did not see it nor its blue eyes widen slightly in recognition.
She couldn't be...
"Mmm..I can tell him later," she said to herself in a cheerful voice to lighten her mood. "I have time to kill before lunch." She skipped along her way, passing by the figure in the shadows without notice. The figure smiled in the darkness, brushing away the recognition with ease.
"So that is Rydia..."
Rydia held a massive load of bags in her arms and waddled her way towards the gates of the village. She couldn't see very well through the bags and didn't see the young man running along until the last second. The two collided into each other, and the impact sent Rydia sprawling back and all the items she carried including the sake jug. It broke into pieces upon making contact with the ground, letting the clear liquid seep out. The young man quickly got up and extended a hand towards her.
"Oi...you okay, miss?" he asked.
Rydia gratefully took his hand but didn't bother to look up until she managed to brush off the dust on her kimono. She could tell that the man was still staring at her with concern written on his features, but she took her time.
"Mmhm! I'm okay," she answered as cheerfully as she could, getting a good look at her "attacker". She couldn't help but let her jaw go slack at the sight of him. Wow....
Dark amber eyes appeared underneath bangs, dark and long. He looked around three to five years older that Rydia herself but that didn't matter much to her. There was something odd about his eyes that kept her attentive, but she brushed the thought aside and was determined to play the role of the innocent.
"Um..." she murmured softly, looking back down at her feet and pretending to be shy. Thank you sensei for your horrible acting lessons...
"Ah, I'm really sorry about your stuff," the man replied awkwardly and handed her her bags. The items were already placed inside.
She blinked in surprise, not expecting him to be so fast. Her eyes trailed from the bags in her arms to the clear liquid on the ground that caught her eye. Her face blanched in horror upon seeing the broken jug. Oh great, Odin's gonna kill me for that....
Following her gaze, the young man too looked at the broken sake jug. He scratched the back of his head, smiling sheepishly.
"Oh...I see..." he murmured. "That's probably for your old man, huh?"
My old man? Rydia repeated.
"Uh...no, it's okay!" she lied. "I can always buy a new one."
Liar! You just spent the rest of the money he gave you!
Before the young man could say anything more, voices echoed behind him.
"Oi, there he is!" a voice shouted. "Stop, thief!"
"Che," the man cursed, glancing back at the men some distance behind them. "Gotta go. Here." He handed her a small leather pouch. "That should pay for the sake. See ya, neko-chan!"
"Huh?" Rydia murmured after he had sped away. Did he...did he just call me "neko-chan"?
Two men ran towards her, short of breath and clutching their swords.
"Oi, miss, did you see where that guy went?" one asked.
Rydia blinked, getting into her acting again. "What guy?"
"You know, the one that ran into you," he replied impatiently. "Do you know which way he went?"
"Oh..." Rydia pondered for a moment, contemplating her options. Should I show them or not? He was nice in helping me put my stuff back...not to mention giving me money for some more sake...She decided not to tell them and pointed in a random direction. "Mmm...he went that way."
The men followed her finger's direction, trusting in her words.
"Okay, he must not be far.Thank you, miss!" the man thanked her and ran off.
Rydia smiled to herself, watching the two men go. I wonder what that guy did. Probably stole something or whatnot... She shook her head, looking at the pouch the man had given her. Can't think of him right now...gotta buy that sake for Odin or else he'd be in a fit.
Rydia arrived at her home late in the afternoon. She set her bags down on the floor and swung the large sake jug in her arms with ease.
As usual, there was no answer. Her master was not the type who liked to socialize as a family, and Rydia was used to it anyway. Yet she could sense a strong aura nearby as she set the jug down; one that was not Odin's. Maybe we have visitors today and he forgot to tell me, she thought as she cautiously went to his room. A strong emotion of fear stirred in the pit of her stomach. She could not sense her master's ki anywhere, only the unknown one.
He was not in his room. That's odd...he's usually mediating here. Panic slowly began to enter her head as she checked the guest rooms, the kitchen, the storage, even her own room and still she could not find her master. Rydia took in a couple of deep breaths and tried to be reasonable.
"He probably went out for a walk in the forest," she murmured the comforting words to herself. "Yeah, he probably went out..."
As she stepped out of the temple and into the garden where they usually practiced magic and weaponry, Rydia saw his body sprawled on the ground in a pool of his own blood. She ran to him out of instinct.
When she came closer, she could smell burnt flesh and could see the horrible gashes across his chest. His breath was short and rasped as she gingerly lifted his head. Tears quickly began to sprout in her eyes; it was too late for her to heal him.
Odin opened his eyes, straining his head to meet her tear-filled eyes. "R-Rydia..."
"Master, don't try to speak! Let me try to heal you!" Rydia cut him off as the tears began to fall.
Odin slowly shook his head. "It's...too late, Rydia. You...know that."
"Listen...to me, Rydia..." Odin continued, not wanting to hear her requests. "You...must run as far as you can from...the continent."
"You...you're not entirely human."
"Eh?" Rydia asked in confusion as the line repeated itself in her head. I'm not...I'm not entirely human?
"That...amulet of yours is your...your mother's keepsake. It contains a power that can unleash chaos into the world. However...it was broken into two pieces. One...has already been found. They...they have been looking for you for some time now."
"'They'?" Rydia repeated. "Wait, who's they? Did they do this to you?"
Odin ignored her questions and held her hand as he slowly began to fade away. "I will lend you my powers..."
Rydia blinked. "...What?"
"Now run and seek your guardian angel's help."
She felt a surge of power absorb into her body, her master's life gone. She could only stare at the empty space which he had inhabited only a few seconds before, her hand unconsciously touching the necklace hidden beneath her clothing. Odin...I never knew that you were...that you were...one of the guardians... She gritted her teeth in anger as more tears fell. I'll get whoever killed you, I swear!
Overwhelmed by the loss of her teacher and only known "father", she did not feel the strange aura returning to her senses until the very last second. She slipped out of the beast's way just in time and rolled away a safe distance from it. The being's hair was bright red like fire, its wings black and edged like the devils. Rydia uttered a small gasp as she stared at him, remembering the poster at the town. He...he looks like what it said on the poster! He couldn't be...
She stared at the demon's eyes, eyes that held resentment and grief. She couldn't help but stare and feel like she had known this demon before somehow, a long time ago. Yet she couldn't stare long as the demon quickly gathered its resolve and struck. Rydia had no time to react as its deadly claws dug into the flesh of her arm; the demon was too fast for her.
She recoiled back in pain, frantically thinking of a spell to counterattack. "Fire Storm!"
The swirls of fire and light surrounded the creature, but it had no effect.
"What?!?" Rydia exclaimed, falling backwards. She tossed one of her daggers at it, but the demon easily cast it aside.
She landed flat on the ground, shaking away the pain on her arm until it had completely disappeared. This guy's fast. She frantically searched through her mind for an ice spell when suddenly the demon spread its wings and hovered in the air.
"We will meet again, little one," it said and disappeared.
"Wait!" Rydia shouted after it, but it was too late. The demon was gone.
Why did he stop? She looked around the garden and found it ironically peaceful and shunned the witness of bloodshed and death. She began walking back into the temple, pondering on Odin's last words. Seek my guardian angel? What did he mean?
Rydia finally came to a conclusion early the next morning as she packed. I'll have to find the other guardians and ask them for help...and hopefully understand his last words. She swung the pack over her shoulder and adjusted her kimono-like outfit. She forced herself to smile at the morning sun.
Rydia left the temple without looking back and looked forward to the future. I'm not sure what you mean by seeking my guardian angel, sensei, but I just can't turn my back on your death. There's a bigger picture going on that you're not telling me and I'm determined to find out what it is.
AYAME-CHAN SAYS: Well, that's the remake of the first chapter! Hope you liked it and R&R!