A Cadence of Hope and Despair

Part Eighteen of the Sonata in Red series.
Part One: A Song of Glory
Part Two: A Choir of Intrigue
Part Three: Etude in the Sun
Part Four: A Requiem in the Dark
Part Five: Hymns of Terror
Part Six: Refrain from the Past
Part Seven: Refrain from the Past (pt. 2)
Part Eight: A Fugue in Three Parts
Part Nine: Rondo Alla Contrattempo
Part Ten: Interlude
Part Eleven: A Fool’s Masquerade
Part Twelve: A Reprised Duet
Part Thirteen: Dancing with the Devil
Part Fourteen: Adagio under Lantern’s Glow
Part Fifteen: Into Destiny
Part Sixteen: A Perfect Storm
Part Seventeen: Paradiso e Inferno

Like from the hounds of hell we are chased across the vast fields of the farms that surround Caelestis. Raktabīja’s feet slam through the soft turned soil as we charge desperately towards the city. Each thundering step an explosion of pain in my chest. Broken ribs cruelly assaulted by his punishing pace.
The sky takes a strange ethereal quality through the lens of my non-human senses, like the colours have inverted. The world has split in two, through my human eyes the world is bright and in focus while the inhuman senses tell me I am wreathed in flame and lightning threatens to tear the very heavens asunder.
The brightest light is the celestial radiance that is the Angel. In just the short sprint across the fields he is no longer a spec in the distance but close enough for me to recognise his features as James’ companion. Pursued by an invincible monster, invisible to my mundane sight so only at the edge of my perception can I can see him. My mind shatters. Too terrified to even scream, I stare into the empty space that I know conceals him utterly hopeless.
Ahead of us the entrance to Night Town grows rapidly beneath the shadow of the mountain. The open fields of the agricultural districts replaced by the outskirts of the sprawling metropolis. The comforting sounds of thousands of ordinary humans going about their business slowly building to a mighty roar.

“Shroud yourself,” Raktabīja shouts over the roar of the wind whipping around us. I want to argue, the grey feels beyond my reach at first. I grapple with it reaching to find the half focused serenity that is necessary for the change. Pain in my chest with the overwhelming pressure of Raktabīja and the Angel’s aura’s pummel my ability to concentrate. Closing my eyes I accept the pain, releasing it on my exhalation. A technique Benjamin had taught me. Drawing on the dregs of my will I manage to summon just enough control to cloak myself in the mist.
The law as well as the cartel’s are ruthlessly strict enforcing the veil of separation between people and monster blood users. Feared for carrying the power of the aberrant we are loathed by the pure humans. The sheer weight of their numbers an insurmountable threat when roused as one instinctual mass. Any visible incidence of aberrant power will spark riots, lynching and more. That’s why whether shadow, devil or crow the first skill any of us learn is to hide.
As the grey envelops me it enhances my reflexes and opens my senses to comprehend the incomprehensible pace Raktabīja moves through the vast slow moving crowds. The difference between us apparent to me. Under the grey I can glide like water through the city, Raktabīja moves like the wind. Even burdened by my weight he movement have a feline grace such that I might weep if I had had the time to simply watch him.
But what is the wind to lightning? We enter the labyrinthine streets, Raktabīja taking advantage of his intimate familiarity with the area can only barely keep ahead of our pursuer. Through the ebb and flow of our chase at times he is almost close enough that I could reach out and touch him. Perfection. I watch him in deep awe. More beautiful than handsome, he is imposing beyond words. The brilliant of his radiance causes all other light to dim, the source of the darkening of the sky. Every movement he makes is perfectly effortless, never wasting a single movement. I realise the folly in thinking we could escape. With him as our opponent, we never stood a chance.

Towards a narrow stone arch we race. Just a few more steps and he will catch us. I’m surprised to realise that I am smiling, grinning ear to ear. My face cracked with reckless glee. To myself I think, “This will be a glorious death”
Then just as we step through the arch, it explodes. The force of the explosion slams into us, tearing me from Raktabīja’s grip and hurling us into the hard stone of the alleyway. Behind us the explosion has separated us from the angel, a thick cloud of dust and smoke obscures him from view. Leaping from the buildings above four more demons wreathed in the same flame as Raktabīja wielding deadly looking blades, drop into the smoke where the angel was.
I feel a powerful hand grab me and pull me painfully from the ground, Raktabīja has recovered from the blow. Lifting me back onto his shoulder he carries me through an exit to the alley I hadn’t noticed. The screams of fighting and death behind us, I pray include the Angel amongst them. A false wall is dragged to conceal the exit once we are through by four large me, around us seems to be an enormous stone building resplendently adorned to rival the richest estates in The Day. Set as if to entertain many tens of people in spacious comfort, the room is currently empty but for Raktabīja, myself and a group of two women and two men. As dark skinned as Raktabīja dressed in exotic finery worthy of the aristocracy. Glowing ever so faintly with the sign of the aberrant I decide that these must be Raktabīja’s masters.

“Welcome Nightingale, we are pleased to see that you have accepted out offer. We are the Mara,” One of the women spoke as Raktabīja carried me to them, placing me down on a seat across from them, “You’ve cost us a lot just to protect you, I hope you’re worth it.”

Nursing my broken body, barely able to breath without sobbing I stare at them across the table. Five demons and an Angel just for me, I’m a decent enough shadow but whatever they hope I’m worth, they have obviously overpaid. With the immediate danger passed, the reality begins to sink in.
These Mara now own me. The Royals apparently want me badly enough to send an angel. I’m being manipulated by a Marchioness and tailed by a true shadow. And I don’t even know why.

Author: Zairron

I'm writing to build a habit, practice, and be creative.

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