-|N. e r o|-
The roar of a thousand demons could be heard from the caves mouth, as a figure stood before it. The red leaves of autumn drifted to the ground in a lazy fashion as the moon kissed the earth with its soft light. All was calm; except for the fact the melody of the damned ones was piercing the nights cold air. The figure took a small step towards the entrance. In that moment, a strong wind came from seemingly nowhere. It seemingly screamed words of warning into the man's ear, and pulled at his coat, whipping it about, as if attempting to stop him. His thin lips twisted into a smirk as the deafening song of demons continued, and the wind continued its protest. His black sword quivered as it glinted in the moonlight, awaiting the battle to come. The man tilted his head to the side, and merely walked in, without a second
Nero was his name.
And this is his story...
Crimson blood dripped from the black steel of the sword as the man bent over, breathing heavily. As he caught his breath, a glimpse of two pointed distinct teeth could be caught. Around him, the remains of many beings lay, disintegrating into the air. The blue orbs that represented whatever soul each demon had possessed, swirled only feet above the ground before fading out. Flexing his neck, Nero looked to one of the dead demons; its face was much like that of a boar. Its beady eyes were still open, fear, anger, and hate all melded into one with in their dead eyes. Tusks protruded from his mouth, one half broken. His tongue hung from the side of his open mouth, which held only a few broken teeth, all of which were a horrid yellow color, and rotting. Nero shook his head, wondering how it was so many of his kind were so... hideous, and so weak as well. Taking a torn piece of clothe from the ground, the man wiped the blood from his beloved sword, and placed it once more into its sheath. With that, the man began his way out of the cave. Nero's sky blue eyes scanned the area around him as he walked. Even though his dark brown hair fell in front of them, distorting his vision, he still observed every small detail around him. His mulberry colored coat trailed along the ground, hiding black boots. Over time, the bottom of the coat had become frayed and tattered, but Nero didn't care at all. Pointed ears protruded from his shaggy hair, a single hoop at the end of his right ear. Those ears were the second of the only two visible signs Nero was in fact a demon. The first was his pointed canines that his thin lips hid well. His skin was the perfect shade; it wasn't to pale, and yet. It wasn't too dark either. The demon stood at six feet tall, and though thin, he was muscular. His face was somewhat gaunt, but somehow, that only added to his beauty. In fact, everything about the demon was beautiful, even his calloused hands. His fingers were long, graceful, and slender, each the perfect length. On his right index finger, a simple silver band found its place, ancient text etched into it.
As he exited the abyss, the breeze picked up the slightest bit, as if to welcome him back. The demon smiled for a moment, taking in the crisp mountain air. The scent of pine trees mingled with that of the cold fall air and the few flowers that had survived the frost. Closing his eyes as he walked forward, he sighed. This silence is what he loved most. But it never lasted. By the next day he would be in a city once more, listening to every sound that it held. It didn't matter though. He knew he could always find silence.
Drunken babble was all that Nero could hear while he sipped at his ale. His eyes only gazed at the table he sat at, as he slouched over his un-eaten meal. Growling, he took a small bite of the bread that came with the meal. The demon didn't much care for drunks, or their mundane chatter. Then, with out warning, it ceased. Whispering swept through out the room as a woman stepped onto the stage where the band played their merry tunes. Her fiery red hair fell to her delicate ankles, and swayed with each step she took. She wore a white blouse that showed a little more then necessary, and a long flowing skirt made of the finest red silk that billowed every time she moved. Her dark brown eyes twinkled with something that was familiar to Nero. But he couldn't quite place it. The woman moved her hair behind her ears, revealing them to be pointed. Nero straightened, and looked more intently at her flawless face. Then, her blood red lips opened, the most beautiful of songs floated from her lungs. The melancholy tune danced about in the air, quieting everyone one in room. Then it struck him. She was one of them.
Nero fell to one knee, his breathing labored. Warm blood trickled down his face as the lady demon turned about on her heel. He brought his fingers to the cut, and lightly touched it. He smirked as he looked upon his own blood and stood, shaking as he did so. As he straightened, he tilted his head toward the sky, his eyes still on Kima. She was one of them. One of the ones who killed
He couldn't even finish his thought, for his anger was rising to fast as a satisfied grin came to her lips.
"All of this, for a child Nero?" She said playfully, every word dripping with venom.
The demon only nodded and took a step forward. His black sword glinted in the moonlight as it literally quivered with the prospect of another battle. Kima gave him a chiding look as she raised her own sword once more. But Nero showed no signs of lunging at her. Instead, he simply took another step toward her.
The stars twinkled about as the breeze died away. Nero watched as the crimson orbs that represented her soul drifted slowly into the night sky, only to be lost in the black void of space. His gaze shifted to Kima's dead body. Blood stained her white blouse, and seeped into the ground. She had been a strong demon, and a very admiral opponent. The woman deserved a proper burial. Nero merely shrugged, and turned on his heel, not caring whether or not she received one. The demon no longer wished to stay in that town.
Nero sat upon an ancient branch, looking past the oak leaves and up into the night sky. Once again silence took its hold. And yet, for some reason, he simply detested it. Perhaps it was because the child was on his mind. One of the two beings that had penetrated the fortress that was his heart; and the one thing he would have gladly died for. How strange it was she instead died for him. A strange smile came to the demon's lips; it was much like a smirk. But hidden with in it was something melancholy; something self-loathing, melancholy and spiteful. Closing his sky lit eyes; he began to whistle a tune, breaking the silence. The tune was that little girl's and it most certainly never leave his mind. The notes swirled, and danced about with in the night air. They rose toward the stars, bringing his memories along for the ride.
In those moments, the world seemed to stop, allowing Nero his peace that he had longed for since the beginning of his true existence, for only a moment. The breeze picked up then, sending leaves of red and orange drifting by. There was nothing else; just Nero, his memories, and the sound of his notes mingling with the breeze.
His memories were faded, going black and white, the pressure of time
refusing to let them be. He didn't mind though; a few colors still remained vivid enough to make him smile...
Wide, round eyes of dark green gazed up at the demon, twinkling with anticipation. Elle. "Papa?" Nero looked down to the child, and smiled in a crooked, almost awkward way. Her hair was an amazing black, much like another human he knew, and she wore green ribbons in it, to match her eyes.
Her skin was tan, though still fair enough to show each freckle that kissed her dimpled cheeks. The small girl wore a simple white dress, and a crown of white daisies.
"Papa!" She said once more after a few moments of no response from the demon. In all reality, Nero was not to the girl's father, but he gladly accepted the title. The child was everything that was truly right about the world; and the mere fact she called him that made the demon feel as though perhaps he was not meant for a life with in the shadows.
"Yes Elle?" His voice hinted kindness, and his eyes twinkled with affection.
"Can I ask you a faaa-vor?" Immediately he knew she wanted something; the way she elongated the word "favor" made it all to obvious.
"Maybe," He replied in a teasing manner. Of course he would do anything for the child; he knew it to be impossible to resist her wide green eyes that reminded any one of a sweet doe.
The girl paused for a moment to look at the ground, feet shifting about in the brown dirt. Her hands were behind her back, obviously because she was wringing them in a nervous way. That was something that confused Nero; she always got what she asked for. Why did she always get so nervous when asking for it?
"Can we maybe.... Go to the festival tonight?" She glanced to him, her green eyes even wider with her plea.
At this, the man smirked. Looking away from her, he pursed his lips and cocked his head to the side. "I don't know Elle," He glanced down to her face, which already held disappointment. Going to his haunches he placed a hand on her head and grinned. Gently patting her head he gave a nod, and said, "Sure why not?" The girl's eyes sparkled with delight as she jumped at Nero, wrapping her frail arms around his neck, laughing.
And then, it ended. Leaving him to gaze up at the moon, and try his hardest to fall into a state of dreams. A sigh escaped his lips as he closed his eyes, in an attempt to invite sleep over his way.
Nero stopped at the top of the hill, looking toward the small cottage that was now only one hundred yards or so away from where he stood. The rain beat down upon the earth with no mercy, the crash of thunder and brilliant blue light raced through out the skies, in a way that seemed threatening to the lands below. Nero was soaked through to the bone; his blond hair was plastered to his pale face, which now was red with the cold. His blue eyes looked to cottage however; the rain seemed to be unimportant next to the scene he gazed at.
Smoke was rising in a welcoming fashion into the air; though it quickly faded away. Warm lights shone through the windows of the cottage, from which various chimes could be heard as the wind tossed them about. The cottage itself seemed to be kind enough; it was made of red and gray stones and was rather small in size. Around the small building were what looked to be thousands of wildflowers, all of vivid colors. How such delicate things could simply sit there while the rain beat down upon them was amazing to Nero. His eyes moved to the many trees surrounding the cottage, as if to protect the small building and its inhabitants. Nero knew for a fact that the human that dwelt within the small cottage needed to protection; or at least, he felt they needed the protection. Surely no harm would come to them; but still. It was dreadful to think something might happen to them.
Taking a step forward, he smiled. Soon, in would be warm. Not only in the flesh; but also in another sense. He could feel his heart race with anticipation, and his lungs stop with anxiety. Another step, and he could no longer wait.
The demon found himself sprinting through the rain; toward the front door. Soon, he was rapping on the door of oak, his breath hanging in the bitterly cold air with each breath. He could hear nothing but the rain crashing down upon the ground, the thunder that shook the earth, and the thundering of his own heart. Suddenly he felt warm air, and found himself looking into the twinkling eyes of shocking peridote.
These were the eyes of a blacksmith, and a his dearest friend.
His voice was barely audible over the chaotic sounds. Still it appeared the woman heard him because of the smile that ensued immediately after her name was said. He knew that dazzling smile to be one very few could provoke; and he was one of those few. Before another word could be said; the woman lunged at him, her arms wrapping around her neck and a laugh breaking through the rain. Nero stumbled back, shocked at her actions. Slowly, and dumbly, he wrapped his arms around her waist and held her tightly in an embrace.
It was odd. The rain continued to pour, and the thunder continued it's roaring, and yet, the two merely stood there, clinging to one another. Little did they realize they were in fact in each others arms; for if that fact had truly registered in either of their minds, Nero's especially, then they would more than likely end up arguing with one another, and Nero would quickly find a lump upon his head. However, no such thing happened. Instead, Nero's mind registered the warm air in her home flowing out into the cold, and her own warm skin growing wet, and cold. Pulling away, he offered her an awkward smile and motioned with a turn of his head that perhaps the two should go inside. With out a word, the woman nodded, and turned away from him. He was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of small dream like smile as she led him into her home.
Looking around the familiar cottage, he noted it had not changed a bit. Paintings of various gods and family members hung on the stonewalls. Vases of flowers were set everywhere, adding color, and cheer to the room. A warm orange glow from the hearth lit the room, illuminating most of the room. Above the dancing fire with in the hearth was a sword of blue steel; its hilt was nothing special for the most part. Though, there was a single sapphire set at the top, with ornate engravings circling it. That was Alyese's pride and joy. It had belonged to her father, who had gotten it as a gift from her grandfather. Her grandfather was an amazing blacksmith, and had taught the woman everything she knew. Nero's hand went to his own sword's hilt, and gently rested on it. Alyese had crafted the black sword for him what seemed like such a long time ago. Yet, it had only been four years since then. Perhaps, it was Elle's death that made it seem as though such a long time had passed.
As his eyes took in the various familiarities, he noticed one small change. Though, it was not a change within the home, but rather, something that had changed about Alyese. As she stood at the fire, wringing her long black hair out. Dangling from a delicate silver chain was a simple silver ring with ornate writing engraved on it. To be exact, it was his ring. On his finger, he wore one exactly like it. He had given that ring to her before he left. However, he would never have imagined she would keep it. This small fact induced yet another awkward smile to take hold of his thin lips. For one reason or another, it made him truly glad that she had kept it.
Then she straightened, and looked to him. It seemed to dawn on her that he to was sopping wet. Blinking, she said, "Your soaked! Let me get you some dry clothes."
With that, the young woman rushed out of the room, leaving Nero to wait. When she returned, he was standing by the fire, looking up at the blue sword. "Here. I found some of my father's old clothes." At the sound of her voice he turned, his awkward smile transforming into a surprised grin.
She was truly beautiful; her black hair was pulled back into a loose bun, stray strands framing her face. Her shocking peridote eyes were glistening with a mixture of amazing emotions. She wore a simple white shirt, and a flowing black skirt, in her hands she held a bundle of clothes for him to change into. Tossing them to him, she grinned. "There ya go Nero. You know where your room is."
Late the next afternoon, it had stopped raining. The sun broke through the gray clouds, drying the soaked earth. Nero was sitting on a rock out in the garden, his blue eyes taking in everything. He was still wearing the clothes Alyese had given him to wear; a white tunic and a pair of loose brown trousers. Nero was gazing intently at a pink rose that was only a few feet away from him when Alyese sat beside him on the rock, leaving little room for personal space. It didn't bother him much; in fact, one of his crooked smiles formed as she did so.
"Nero?" His smile faded the slightest bit. Her voice was laced with worry; something that in turn worried him.
"Why are you here?" Those words implied she knew exactly why he was there. She just needed to hear it from his own lips.
"They're nearby. Or so I've heard." By they, he meant the fools who stole away Elle's life, just to spite him. By they, he meant demons that at one point, he called friend.
"I thought as much." Alyese replied softly. There was a long, painful silence. Nero glanced over, to see an expression he didn't like on her one bit. Her eyes, which normally burned with a fiery passion and shone with a rare kindness, were now swimming with a sorrow and a pain he knew he had inflicted upon her. "Nero. Don't do it... You know just as well as I you don't stand a chance in hell against them. Not when they're all in one place."
He cut her off. "No Alyese. This is my-"
Apparently, she wasn't about to hear any of his reasoning, for she cut him off. "Your what?! Your vendetta? Your revenge? What!?" With every word, her voice rose the slightest bit, each word growing more and more strained. "Those bastards killed the kid Nero! You don't think I don't know that?! You think that just because you didn't say a word that night, means that I didn't see the look in your eyes?!" She was yelling at this point, and all Nero could do was listen. "You don't think I don't know what they deserve!? Killing off every demon you come across isn't going to help that! Nor is killing them! No matter how much blood you shed, it won't bring her back!"
Then, there was silence. Nero's blue eyes moved to where Alyese sat, only to watch her shudder. Her face was in her hands, making it all to obvious she was weeping. He wanted to say something, but could offer no words to calm her down. Instead, he felt pain clutch at his heart. Why had he even come to see her, if he was going to leave her in the same state he had the last time?
Abruptly, she moved her hands from her face, and hugged herself. Crystalline tears still ran down her face, staining her beautiful cheeks. "I loved her to Nero. She may have called you Papa... But. I was the closest thing she had to a mother. Right? She told me once, that me she wanted me to be her mama." There was another long pause. "I loved her too. She meant the world to me. But, I don't want to kill them for it. She wouldn't want that. She wouldn't want any of this Nero. Your smile's changed. You know that right? Elle wouldn't like that one bit..." Alyese was silent once more, lost in her own thoughts. Nero could not argue with her; for every word she said was true, and he knew it. Instead, he wanted to hold her, and tell her sorry. But no, he didn't deserve such a privilege. He was the one who had inflicted those tears upon her, and though he was sorry, he wasn't going to stop what he began. He had vowed to kill them, and he would. Even if he died taking their wretched lives, he would send them to Hell.
Nero sat there for the longest time, allowing Alyese to weep. Finally he looked over to her, and in doing so, caused a pang of guilt to grip his stomach, and tore at his heart. With out thinking about it, he leaned forward, and brushed away her cooling tears with one slender finger. The woman sat there, unmoving. Nero stood then, and with out a word, went back inside. He needed to go.
They had been waiting for him. That much was obvious in the way that they merely stood at the bottom of the hill. Though, something was not right about the whole situation. For one thing, Aaron was missing, leaving only three. For another, something was different about the way his sword felt under his hand was different. The living blade was neither trembling nor was it still. Instead it was almost as if it were humming. Though, it was not a happy tune that came from the swords black soul. Something about it was ominous, and it frightened Nero.
As he came closer and closer to the three demons, he watched as all but on smirked. Tyr and Tristan, were of course smirking; the twins always enjoyed watching Nero when he was in a foul mood. Maria on the other hand, looked away from him, some thing that looked much like guilt painted into her mulberry eyes. Nero stopped only a few steps away from the group, his eyes refusing to move from their place on those that betrayed him.
There was no time for silence, that much was clear in the way that Tristan straightened, his cursed smirk widening. Most only saw that smirk once in their life time. For Nero, this would be the second time it was meant for him.
"What are you doing here Nero?" It was not Tristan who spoke, but Maria. Her voice was filled with a venomous warning. Still, her eyes would not meet his.
Nero looked to her, and said nothing. They knew very well what he was doing there. Maria and Aaron had heard his vow; his promise. They had witnessed him swear revenge upon them, and until that vengeance was met, he would destroy any other demon who got in his way.
"Not even going to spare your long lost friends a warm greeting?" Tyr's intoxicating voice teased him, and tempted him to strike then and there. Still, Nero did not respond. His normally sky blue eyes had darkened drastically; a warning for the three. The demon looked to Tristan, and tilted his head upward.
Once again, Tristan said nothing. Instead Maria answered. "He left us two years ago." There was sorrow in her voice.
"And he took their child with him." Tristan finally spoke, his words soaked with a playful poison. It was apparent he enjoyed her suffering. The demon had always envied the relationship Aaron and Maria had.
"Child?" Nero was interested now.
Once again he was met by silence. Maria looked away, tears filling her cat like eyes. So, the two had a child? And yet it survived only because Aaron was smart enough to run away. The clever demon probably left on a new moon; Tristan was at his weakest at that time. How horribly ironic. After it was Aaron's blade who took the last bit of Elle's life away. Yet now, he was living out his life to protect his very own child.
Abruptly, the song of a blade pierced the air as Tyr's silver blade came flying at Nero's head. As his dark blue eyes faded to black, his own sword came out from its sheath, and collided with Tyr's. The demon's smirk quickly faded; obviously Nero had caught him off guard.
"It will take a hell of a lot more than that to kill me off Tyr." Nero's voice was playful, teasing every one of them. The mute demon growled, baring his fangs. Nero brought his sword down, allowing Tyr to step back. "So, how will do this? One by one, or at all at once?"
This time, he received a prompt answer. Tyr lunged at him, the other two taking a step back. Nero's black sword was still humming, even has he brought it up to brace Tyr's. This wasn't right. Tyr was still growling, as he stepped back once again. Nero took three steps back; no need in being so close to the blade. Once more, he lunged at Nero, and this time, Nero jumped back, narrowly missing the sword. The thing of it was, Nero was moving to fast. Landing on a rock, he pushed himself off it, and found himself flying foot first at Tyr. The demon was to slow, even though the move was rather basic, and was on the ground a matter of moments.
With Nero's boot at his throat, it was finally settling in that Nero had indeed grown in his skills. How odd it was that such a simple move had taken such a feared demon down to the ground. Nero's sword rested at the edge of Tyr's chin. Yet, Nero could not move. In the back of his head a pleasantly familiar voice began to sound; yet the tone of it was full of something melancholy.
"Finish him Nero. You know you want to." Tristan's horribly charming voice urged him.
"Shut up." There it was again. That voice. He could not make out the words, but he had a good idea of what it wanted of him,
"He took part in Elle's death did he not? You killed Kima for that very reason, and you did it with ease at that. Why not do the same for him?"
"Shut up." That voice was infinitely more tempting than Tristan's.
"Just raise your sword and finish him."
"Shut up!" He had enough of Tristan's venom; he wanted to listen closely to that voice. Yet, it said nothing now that it was silent.
Nothing about this was right. Nero stepped away from Tyr, and looked to Tristan. Still, he had that damned smirk on his face! For what seemed like years, he looked into his old friend's eyes, and there was nothing else. Not even a sound. He watched as malice, greed, lust for power, and pure evil danced about in the crimson eyes of a true demon. Nero longed for all of that to fade away, and vanish from the earth. Yet, he could not even move.
Then, the sound of footsteps reached his pointed ears, and his sword seemed to move on its own accord. Nero registered everything as the sword pierced flesh, and cut deep into the soul of his attacker. Pulling the sword from the body, Nero had not bothered to look behind him to see whether it was Tyr, or Maria. He knew for a fact it was Tyr. Maria, was not going to be a threat that day. He felt Tyr's body fall to the ground, and closed his eyes. He had not wished for that he realized. Revenge was not what he needed. As darkness encompassed his vision, that voice resurfaced, and he realized whose it was.
Elle. She stood there before him, her beautifully innocent facce gazing up at him. Yet she was not smiling. She was watching him, wide eyed, and weeping. Nero felt his heart stop in those moments, and tighten in the most painful way.
Alyese was right; none of it was what Elle would have wanted. None of it was what she needed. Why was it he came to that realization so late in it all? Why was it that the death of those who had torn Elle away from him suddenly deserved to live?
These thoughts were interrupted however, as the growl of another demon pierced his thoughts. Tristan was running at him. With out opening an eye, Nero went to his knees, his sword held diagonally upward. Then it was over. The blade had taken Tristan's life, and Nero hadn't even needed to move. Once again, he pulled his blade free, and stood. Opening his eyes, he watched as black orbs rose into the sky.
Nero turned to Maria, and said nothing for a moment. The demon instinctively moved for her weapon, but there was no need for it. "Go. Find Aaron and your child." She didn't need to be told twice; the woman with mulberry eyes, turned, and ran,
Nero didn't bother with the corpses of the twins. Instead, he only wiped the red blood from his blade, and sheathed it. He needed to get to Alyese.
"Alyese." She was sitting on the very rock he left her at, looking to the night sky. Slowly, the woman turned to him, her eyes still swollen with tears.
"Nero?" There was disbelief in her voice. She sat there, her peridote eyes swimming with tears. With out so much as a warning, she stood, and was once again in his arms. "You bastard! You left me with out a word! And you were gone for so long! I hate you Nero! I hate you." Still, no matter how much she professed her hate for him, he felt he would never let go. Her fingers clutched at the fabric of his coat as she sobbed into his chest. Nero simply kissed the top of her head, and stood there, for once in his life, content.
It was raining outside; the thunder tearing through the sky, and lightning danced about. Inside the small cottage, was a family. A child with pointed ears, raven hair, and sky blue eyes sat in her father's lap as he sung her a lullaby. She smiled softly, drifting to sleep in his slender arms. Eye's identical to his daughter's moved to his beautiful wife, who in turn smiled at him. Looking into her peridote eyes, Nero could not help but realize how incredibly blessed he was.
He had lost Elle nine years ago; and in that time he had fallen into darkness, and succumbed to the chaos that was expected of every demon. Some how, the lost child had pulled him out of it, even though she was in a different world completely. Though, he knew it was not only Elle who had taken him from the black abyss: no. Had it not been for Alyese, he might have ignored the dead child completely. As these thoughts wandered about in his mind, he came to yet another realization.
Finally, he had that peace he longed for.