Nasuverse [Tsukihime/DF] Killing Eyes and Faerie Hounds


Well-Known Member
The annoyance quickly faded from her eyes as she eyed me, before looking passed me to the demolished wall. One hand went to her stomach, where her bandages lay under her shirt.

�The edges are cleanly cut, as if with a single blow, as were my plants,� She murmured. �And my wounds��

She closed her eyes for a moment, before shifting slightly, trying to get more comfortable. When she opened her eyes again, she looked at him sharply.

�Show it to me,� She ordered. �The knife you cut me apart with.�

Wordlessly, I took it out of my pocket and with a motion produced the blade. Despite her attempts to hide it, I saw something almost like a flinch on her face when she saw it, and she looked at it like a child looked at a stove after first getting burnt. I carefully laid it on the bed and uncurled my fingers from it, trying to ignore how loath I felt to do so with the comforting blade.

She leaned towards it, though she looked like she wanted to scoot away, and several minutes passed as she silently observed it. Just as I was about to ask her about it, she spoke again.

�A fine blade. Steel, but signs that it was re-forged several times from lesser materials. It�s several hundred years old at least and in that time�� She frowned. �This blade has killed many and it is of impeccable craftsmanship to be sure, but this blade cannot cut through walls like that, and even made of steel it would not be enough to do this to me. When first we met, I sensed this blade, and was sure it had no magic bound to its steel, and I have made sure I was not mistaken. The blood it has spilled has given it power, but a blade like this shouldn�t be able to cause me such persistent wounds.�

She lifted her eyes to mine again and narrowed them�in anger or consideration, I wasn�t sure, but it pinned me in place and I didn�t dare move.

�Then if not the blade, perhaps the wielder?� She wondered aloud, looking at me as she had the blade. �There is magic in all things, but in you it is buried deep and in no greater measure then any normal human. Perhaps if you practiced for a score of years, you could learn enough to be considered skilled, but you would never be considered for membership by the White Council�not in ten years and not in a hundred. Your body is flesh and blood and bone and it is your own. You are not a vessel for any being, nor even a suit of flesh crafted from corpses�and anything that could do this to me would all but fray Reality by lingering in this world. I am certain that you are, if not human, then at least native to this world and entirely solid and physical.�

She seemed annoyed again, but I was as lost by her words as always.

�What�s that mean?� I asked.

�It means that no matter how hard I look, I can see nothing in you that says you are anything but normal.� She said. �And yet here I lay, bleeding. I should have healed easily, but I had to completely remake my conceptual structure just to put myself back together in time for Halloween�and even still, my wounds seem loathe to heal. Even with a knife of steel, injuring me so dearly should be impossible. Perhaps it could be done with a weapon such as the White God�s Swords, but such things burn with their own power, and I would have felt it miles away. So the question is how could you match Excalibur with a simple knife?�

I looked at her, my eyes pausing over where I had cut her less than a day before, and one hand went to my glasses in a nervous gesture.

�Well, I still don�t understand anything you�re talking about, but�there is this one thing. How should I put this? I can see these lines�and if I trace them, I can cut things.�

�What?� She asked, looking shocked. I wasn�t particularly surprised. In the past, only Sensei had ever believed this story. But then she continued in a serious voice, reminding me that she wasn�t normal either. �What do you mean?�

�I mean�� I paused again, thinking of how to phrase the words. It wasn�t something I�d ever really tried to explain to anyone and Sensei had just known. I usually did my best to pretend I couldn�t see the lines at all. �I can see these lines on things�on living things, the ground, anything I can see�and if I cut along those lines with something sharp, the thing the line is on gets cut too�Does that mean anything to you? I mean, it�s kind of cool that I can cut steel with just a knife, but it�s not like I can cut things anywhere I want. I can only cut them along the lines, and when I cut you�well, you can already cut a girl�s skin with a knife, right? I don�t think it�s that amazing, really��

But she had stopped listening already and was gazing at me with wild, feline eyes. I felt like she was trying to burn a hole through me with her gaze and my voice trailed off.

��I see,� She said after a moment, closing her eyes and smiling grimly. �I suppose the world isn�t fortunate enough for Balor�s cursed eyes to stay in myth.�

She opened her eyes and looked towards the window.

�But to think I would stumble across such an unlikely monster in this country�� She sighed.

�W-what?� I protest immediately. �I don�t think someone who can come back from being chopped into pieces has any right to call me a monster!�

She looked back towards me with a raised eyebrow and there was something in the action that made it obvious she thought I was a complete idiot.�

�A monster is a monster,� She stated. �In all the Courts of Faerie, there is no one with eyes that can see the death of things.�

��See the death of things?��

Titania nodded, her gaze still harsh.

�Were you born with eyes like that, Balorian?�

�What? No; my eyes have been like this for a long time, but I wasn�t born this way.�

She frowned and tilted her head.

�Then you must have had at least one near-death experience at some point and then you started seeing them, correct?�

I nodded slowly. My memories of before the accident were sometimes blurry, but I definitely didn�t remember seeing lines before I woke up in the hospital. I�d made that connection myself, but how did she�?

�Then it�s as I suspected. You must have had the potential to see death before, but when you actually nearly died, you were able to understand it for the first time. After that, you see able to see its presence everywhere. It�s said Balor of the Evil Eye could realize the death of anything he looked at, but your eyes are obviously no match for him. I supposed we have that to be thankful for at least. But with those eyes, I suppose everything you�ve done makes sense.� Even as she spoke, she seemed lost in thought, as though she were considering something. �And with eyes like that��

The look in her eyes had changed again, but I barely noticed because this was my chance, to finally find out more about my eyes.


Well-Known Member
So this means that Aoko Aozaki is a wizard..... :snigger:


Well-Known Member
�Not as much as you, I would imagine, but in the centuries after Balor�s death, there were rumors. Stories. I don�t think anyone gave them more weight than that�the Fomorians attempting to build up a figurehead to rally their forces behind and attempt to regain what they had lost. Most of them most likely were, but if what you said is true�it had been before my time as Queen, but it would explain my mother�s reaction. I�d thought she�d simply wanted to make an example and stop things before they could grow into a rebellion, but if the stories are true�� She still seemed to be mulling over things and I wondered how many thing she saw in a different light, knowing of my eyes. �What you see is the end of all things. To put it simply, death itself. In a way, it�s similar to seeing to future, you could say, because what you see is the future of all things.�

Those words. I�d heard something like that before.

�Shiki, what you are seeing is something that should never be seen, by anyone, or anything. Everything in existence has points where they are most easily broken. We, who will break down one day, are imperfect for this reason. Your eyes have the ability to see the fate of all things�to put it another way, you can see the future.�

��See�the future?�

�That's right. You can see death. You don't need to know any more than that.�

She hadn�t explained and at the time it had done nothing but confuse me, but Sensei had definitely said that. But�

�What do you mean?� I asked. ��Death itself?� All I see are the lines where things can be cut easily. What do lines have to do with death?�

She frowned, pondering that.

�Most likely, those lines are how your brain represents what you see. But they are the death of an object. All things must end�this is a fact inherent in existing to begin with. There are differences in time, but from the beginning, all things move towards their own ending. Death isn�t something that simply arrives, but something that�s an intrinsic part of anything that lives. And if that death is a part of something from the beginning, it shouldn�t be impossible for someone to see it, if they could both comprehend death and possessed eyes and a brain appropriate for seeing such things. That is the true nature behind what you see. As to where those lines are placed, I could only theorize, because I can�t see them myself, but�I would imagine that lines aren�t all you can see, correct? From the rumors I heard, there should be points as well.�

She stared hard at me, as if waiting for me to prove the rumors true.

�Actually, now that I thought about it�when I first met Titania and followed her�when I couldn�t control myself�I�d seen the usual lines, but also large black dots that they seemed to flow from. The next morning, I hadn�t seen them, so I�d thought there�d just been something wrong with my eyes, but�

�Yeah. There were. It was only that one time, but there were several of them on your body. The lines seemed to flow between them and join them together.�

�I see. �The lines where things die easily� and �death itself.� For you to be able to see them for years�I suppose it�s not surprising that you�re insane.� She mused, shaking her head. There was something almost like pity in her eyes when she looked at me. �Let�s say you cut someone�s throat and they die. They died because you cut them�and if you couldn�t cut them, they wouldn�t have died. But you�even if they were immune to being cut it wouldn�t matter, because you reverse the order of things when you cut their lines. You are actualizing something�s inevitable end, and so it is cut.�

I swallowed and the sight made her smile.

�Do you see now? What else can I call you except a monster? To you, they may just be lines, but those eyes were called Evil Eyes for a reason; you have eyes that can kill anything, Balorian.�

��Then�even an immortal like you�? If you have lines, then that must mean��

�Everything will die eventually, Balorian,� Titania said. �Even immortals won�t last forever. Perhaps some will linger until the ends of time, but then that will be their ending. One day, even this Universe will end. Such is the way of things.�

Slowly, I lifted a hand to my glasses and slid them off my face. For a moment, I just look around me, at the fragile world I live in. At the wounded woman on the bed, with her dark, think lines. Even at myself. I�d wondered for so long what they were, why I could see them, and now I knew. What I saw was death and a world that was full of it.

I put them back on and they hide it from my sight. For a moment, I close my eyes, simply breathing. It didn�t change anything. The lines weren�t any different now that I knew what they were. But in a way, I was glad. I wasn�t tormented by something unknowable and inexplicable anymore, merely something strange and frightening. I liked that better.

When I open my eyes, Titania is staring at me intently.

�What?� I ask. �Is there something else?�

�No, that�s not it. Could it be that you can�t see the lines with your glasses on?� She asked.

�Yeah; I got them from my Sensei a long time ago, when my eyes first became like this. I�m only using the lenses now, but thanks to them I can live a normal life.�

�I see. Yes, I�d wonder how you�d managed to stay even as sane as you are when faced with death all the time. But I�m surprised you have something like that�Balor kept a sealing over his eye that required four of his power attendants to remove.�

She held out a hand, silently asking to see them but I hesitated. I didn�t let usually people touch them, because they were so important to me.

�I�m not going to break them,� She said scornfully. �I simply wish to see them.�


Reluctantly, I put them in her shaking hand.

She almost dropped them the moment they touched her skin, actually hissing at the contact. She looked at them with frighteningly intent eyes before looking at me.

�You said your sensei was the one who gave you these glasses?� She said, voice quiet but possessing a note of alarm she couldn�t hide. �Is she in this city currently?�


Well-Known Member
I blinked, taken aback by the sudden question, but after a moment, I shook my head.

�No. At least, I don�t think so. It�s been eight years since I last saw her�I think she was only here for about a week.�

Titania pondered the glasses in her hand for a few more seconds before nodding her head.

��I see. That�s good. I would not want to deal with that woman if I could avoid it.� She mused.

�Titania, do you know my sensei?�

��I know of her,� She admitted. �Among the wizards the White Council calls �warlocks,� she is among the strongest. As Heinrich was to those who broke their Fifth Law, she is to those who have broken the Sixth. These glasses are unmistakably her work�their progression through time has simultaneously been halted and allowed to move freely. Something that attempted to destroy these glasses would most likely have no effect whatsoever, simply because even if it could destroy them in a moment, that moment would never come to pass, for these glasses have been halted as they are. And yet you can affect them without problem otherwise.�

She gestured with them as if to prove it.

�But then, I suppose that is to be expected of the greatest of the Chronomancers.� She admitted. �Even I do not have enough skill with time to have done something like this so casually. It�s not affected by the sunrise or sunset, and I would imagine water and fire would have little more effect on them. There are very few beings that would be capable of destroying these glasses as they are now and I am not amongst them. Amazing.�

But despite her words, she pinned me with her glare again, glowering at me.

�But I am surprised,� She said. �I would have thought I�d have heard if Blue took a Disciple. If nothing else, I�d have thought the White Council would have been suitably horrified. And yet�even still, I cannot sense a practitioner�s aura around you.�

I tilted my head and looked at her silently for a minute before speaking.

�I seriously have no idea what you�re talking about.� I stated frankly.

Titania�s entire body shuddered, as if it literally hurt not to throw something at me, and I prepared myself to duck if it became necessary.

But after a moment she took a calming breath and apparently decided it wasn�t worth the effort.

�What exactly did your Sensei teach you?� She said with forced patience.

�Ah�stuff like how to be responsible and apologize when you�re wrong,� I began, thinking. �And about things I shouldn�t do and that I was given my power for a reason�and to be honest and kind�to be true to yourself and accept your mistakes�that sort of thing, I guess?�

Titania�s eyes had started to glaze a few seconds after I�d begun but she spoke the instant I�d stopped talking.

�Wonderful lessons, to be sure,� Titania stated, tone emotionless. �Did she teach you any magic, though?�

�Ah, no. There were a few things she said that I didn�t understand at all, though. Maybe some of that was about magic. But she was only here for about a week, like I said. She told me a few things about my eyes after I tried to show off in front of her and cut the lines on a tree irresponsibly, but only a little. But pretty much everything I know about them, I found out from you.�

�Did she give you anything? Any messages or books?� Titania continued, looking serious. �Maybe something about your eyes?�

�Just my glasses. She said I didn�t need to know anything more than that because �If someday, you happen to go down that path, the principles will become clear to you as something that is needed.� Not sure what she meant by that, though.�

��If someday, you happen to go down that path, the principles will become clear to you as something that is needed.�� Titania repeated, eyes falling back to the glasses. Looking at them for a moment, she nodded to herself after a moment and slid the glasses on. I was about to ask what she was doing, but she closed her eyes for a moment and looked like she was concentrating. Then, she opened them�

And gave a sudden scream of pain, ripping the glasses off of her face and hurling them away. I dove off the bed and grabbed them out of midair, surprising myself with my own speed, and hit the ground hard enough to knock the breath out of me. Picking myself up off of the ground, I was about to ask what the hell she was doing, but as I rose high enough to see Titania, the words caught in my throat.

She had covered her eyes with her hands, but that didn�t stop the blood from streaming out through her fingers. Nor did it make it any less obvious what had somehow happened. Titania growled in both pain and annoyance, before her hands began to glow with a soft, greenish light. I rushed to her side, not sure what to do, but after a few seconds she lowered her hands, revealing�

Her completely normal eyes.

�An interest trick,� She mused, but there was a harsh edge of anger to her voice. �A trap that doesn�t exist until the exact moment in time someone would have walked into it, if it had been there. It had been completely clean to my senses, until I opened my Third Eye and suddenly it was there to burn out my eyes. It�s the kind of trap that would normally be easy to sense, but it simply hadn�t been there until after I tried. I�d be interested to know how she managed such a thing. And also in gouging out her eyes in return.�

�What happened?� I asked, worried. �Are you okay?�

�No, I�m not okay.� She nearly snarled. �Repairing my eyes was a pointless waste of my magic and I don�t precisely have a great deal of it at the moment. If I�d been able to�it does not matter. That is enough about your eyes and your past. This changes things, Balorian. I won�t be dying tomorrow and you�re going to help me make sure of it.�


Well-Known Member

After we�d finished talking, I�d left, this time with Titania�s permission, and gotten us both something to eat. I�d gone into the first fast food place I�d been able to find, simply because by this point I was getting hungry enough that I didn�t care whether or not it was what I usually ate as long as it was made quickly and by someone who wasn�t me. When I�d brought it back, Titania had looked disgusted, but it hadn�t stopped her from more or less inhaling anything that got put in front of her and staring at me with nearly feral eyes until I gave her about half of mine.

Coming back from the dead made one hungry, I assumed.

After she�d finished, we�d talked strategy�or rather she talked strategy at me and I agreed with her, as she seemed to know a great deal about what she was talking about and I�well, didn�t. She�d demanded every detail I remembered about this city, from streets to parks to childhood shortcuts, until I�d basically described the entire town for her. She�d sent me out again, this time to buy a number of materials I hadn�t understood the purpose of, such as salt and several types of writing utensils, and then made me sit down and explained to me what they were for and precisely how to use them, before sending me to bed like I was a child.

Though, I suppose from an immortals perspective, I probably was a child. A part of me considered asking Titania about her age, but that seemed unwise to me.

�Still, even if she told me to sleep, tomorrow I was going to have to fight for my life. I might even die. It wasn�t as simple as closing my eyes and drifting away and after trying unsuccessfully to do so, I sat up and leaned against the headboard before looking at the knife resting on the bedside table. I simply observed it like that for a while, before taking it into my hands and bringing out the blade and looked at my warped reflection in the bale. I couldn�t get my mind off of the plan for tomorrow.

�Tomorrow night, you will be my weapon in this matter, both literally and legally. On All Hallows Eve, you will gather power for me by slaying those who pursue us. If you can see me safely through this night, we shall part ways and I will consider your actions forgiven,� Titania said, though the words seemed to be spoken a bit grudgingly.

�I already said I would help you,� I told her, pausing for a moment as something almost electric seemed to run over my skin at that confirmation. �But�even if I try my best, against a bunch of immortals with magic, I�m not sure that I can��

�Even amongst our kind, battles are rarely fought until all of one side is dead. Those that will come after us will be predators�and they will be powerful, but they will also think like predators. If their prey puts up too much of a fight to be worth it, they shall simply find easier prey. The point of tomorrow night is not to kill every being that hounds us, but rather to kill enough to make those who remain question if the risks are worth the rewards. More so, with every being you slay in my name, their power shall become my own, and the risk in opposing me shall increase,� Titania stated, eyes distant as if she were already running through possible scenarios in her head. �Until my power begins to return, however, I will be forced to depend on you, and even once it does, I shall require you to deal the killing blow. Make an example of anyone in our way�cutting them apart as you did me should suffice. With your skills, you should have no trouble killing them if you take them by surprise.�

I swallowed a little at the thought. The memory of what I�d done to her was still fresh and sickening in my mind.

But even if I wasn�t as sure or optimistic as she was, I didn�t have much of a choice. They would be coming after us and I didn�t want to die and I wanted Titania to die even less.

�The question is how I should do that. I think all I can really do is hide and approach them from behind. Then I�ll�get them somehow.�

�Even if you approach them from the front, it�s unlikely any of them will take you as seriously as they should. I will be the only one who knows about those eyes of yours, after all.� She said casually, but I frowned a little at the thought. Approaching from the front seemed risky to me, even if what she said was true. If they had magic, I had no idea what they could do, so could I really be sure I could take them on, knowing nothing about them?

��No, it�s best not to plan on doing something we have no proof of,� I murmured. �I�ll approach from behind and cut the lines on their limbs. That should take away their freedom of movement��

�If you do that, we�ll both die. Don�t think any of the beings that will be coming after us tonight will cease to be a threat because of something as minor as losing a limb. Even if you cut off both of their legs, they could still kill you with magic and if they had time to realize they were about to die then their final gift will almost certainly cause you to regret every being born. Rather than worry about how to act, think about the best ways to kill. Cut off their limbs? If you have time to do such a thing, cut off their heads instead. If you give them a chance to retaliate, it�ll be the end of you.�

��I understand. I won�t hesitate. I�ll take them out in a single strike; that�s what I should do, right?�

Titania doesn�t answer and I can�t help but think she looks unsatisfied.

I withdraw the blade and put it back down, closing my eyes.

Even without her saying anything, I could sort of understand why she was upset. It was probably the same thing that was bothering me. Because, in the end�I couldn�t even say the word �kill� once. I couldn�t keep myself from thinking of what I�d done to Titania, of my blade sliding through her flesh and leaving her in pieces. And I couldn�t completely suppress the shudder of revulsion that thought brought me.

I didn�t want to die and I wanted to protect Titania, but what I�d promised her I�d do was effectively the same thing I�d sworn I�d never do. And even if I�d broken that promise when I carved up Titania, that didn�t change how horrible what I�d done to her was.

I�d try my best to protect her, but could I do this without hesitating?

I looked out the window, towards the moon. This time tomorrow, I�d probably be fighting for my life. If I hesitated, I�d probably die, and I�d fail to protect Titania. I couldn�t do that�not so much because of what I�d promised Titania but because of what I�d promised myself. I�d take responsibility for my actions and help her.

But as I look at the moon, I can�t help but imagine it shining over me tomorrow night�over me and over a field stained scarlet with blood. The image comes to me easily, like an old memory, so vivid and striking that it makes my heartbeat a little faster.

I told myself that it was in fear, but�

It�s strange. Why hadn�t I realized until now?

Tonight, the moon looks so beautiful.


Well-Known Member

It seems I had fallen asleep, though I don�t quite remember when. I was more than happy to wake up, though, because I hadn�t had particularly pleasant dreams�a blood stained field on a moonlit night, a muscular man with only one eye, corpses I thought I could almost recognize and yet was completely unable to place, and even my father.

The anxiety must be getting to me.

After getting both of us something to eat again, and getting something a little nicer for what could be my last meal, I knew it was time. We�d gone over the plan enough times that Titania didn�t need to do anything but nod to confirm it as she stood.

There would be people watching the hotel from outside, she�d said. I couldn�t see them, but Titania had seemed sure that her enemies would have determined her location and would be watching it. She also seemed reasonably certain that none of them would enter the building itself, lest they risk being detected, which meant two things. Titania and I didn�t�and had no real way of finding out�how many people would be shadowing us, but at the same time, none of them knew I was working with her, either.

Titania was certain they wouldn�t risk attacking until after nightfall, so she left about an hour before the sunset. Half an hour after that, I left as well. Titania had marked the path she intended to take through the city and intentionally made it a rather roundabout. If I took a path straight through the city, we�d cross paths near the edge of the city shortly before nightfall, even without hurrying. By that point, anyone watching the hotel should have followed Titania�or, at least, would have no reason to suspect a normal young man.

That was the plan, at least. If nothing else, I wasn�t attacked after leaving the apartment.

As I walked through the city, I tried my best to stay calm, but it was hard to do, since I was heading towards a fight to the death and all. It didn�t help that this was pretty much where our planning ended. Soon we�d be in the location Titania had chosen, near the park, and then�we�d have to make things up. The eternal conundrum of all plans, Titania had said, is that the enemy will rarely agree to abide by them.

I could see her point, but more so than that, I was pretty sure we were both in the dark�I had a feeling Titania didn�t know who or what we�d be facing tonight any more than I did. Without even basic knowledge of who we�d be fighting, there wasn�t much we could plan besides �try not to die� and �defeat the enemy.� I guess we�d be improvising.

I take a deep breath as the park comes into sight and inside, Titania is probably already waiting. I move to approach and�

I freeze. I can feel something that I can�t describe, but in response, my fingers feel like they�re going numb. A chill runs down the back of my neck, making me shiver, and it feels like there�s a pressure in my temples and behind my eyes and it hurts. My eyes hurt so bad and the pain seems to spread through the rest of my head.

A moment later, I start to feel a drifting sensation, as if I were about to pass out. I know what it is, because I�ve felt this many times before�this is how I feel right before I collapse from my anemia.

�Hah,� I choke out a laugh. What horrible timing. I try to push past the pain, the force myself beyond it, but it�s too much. I stumble and fall to one knee, one hand rising to lift my glasses and rub at my eyes, trying to keep myself awake and�

Had that been there before?

I stared at the�I wasn�t certain how to describe it. It was like a semi-circle of light rising up over the park, with gaps like a fishing net or a spiders web. It seemed fragile, almost, but I quickly stumbled back several steps, until I was outside it. The moment I was beyond its reach, the numbing chill faded from my skin and slowly the sense of weakness began to ease as well.

It was some sort of magic spell, I had to assume. To keep people out, probably�or maybe to keep Titania in? I didn�t know anything about magic beyond �it existed,� though, so I couldn�t tell. But, maybe�

I looked at it carefully. I didn�t know why, but I could see it clear as day without my glasses, just like I�d been able to see the real Titania under her disguise when I first met her. I had no idea what that meant, either, but if I could see it�

I couldn�t see any lines within that glowing mass, but the light seemed to shift and move, expanding across the domes surface in slowly dimming lines of light. If that was the case, there should be either a source or a weak point.

I hesitated for a moment, trying to decide what to do. If the source was destroyed, would the whole thing fall? I had no idea. Could I even destroy the source? Maybe it was inside, or maybe it required skill with magic to do; too many maybes. And if the whole thing did fall, it would probably give my presence away�and the element of surprise was really all I had, at the moment.

I walked quickly along the edge of the dome, until I reached a part were dim lights coming from either direction converged with tiny flashes of light, creating a small, vertical point of relative strength�but to either side of it, the lights were at their dimmest. I took a deep breath and backed up several meters, before taking a running start and throwing myself through the barrier.

Discomfort, weakness, nausea, and pain flashed through me in quick succession as ran through the dome, but it was nowhere near as strong as it had been before and this time I was prepared for it, so while I stumbled a bit as I ran, I did not fall. The pressure let up quickly as I passed through and I shook for a moment as I regained my breath, but then continued to move forward deeper into the park, staying low and in the shadows as best I could without sacrificing speed, before stopping as I heard a sudden voice.

�I admit that I�m surprised, Tithonus. You were not who I expected to see.� I heard Titania say, and something about it�the timing, perhaps, or some inflection to it�made me think it was a warning. Whether it was or not, I took it as such and drifted into the trees, moving quietly. The ground was soft and surprisingly clear of anything that would hinder a quiet approach�so clear of it, in fact, that I suspected Titania had done something to make it so. With the fading light, I spotted a path that seemed clear and followed it right to the edge of the bushes, listening all the while.

�It�s nothing personal,� A giant, manlike cicada said. �But if you know who I am, you know why I�d be here.�

�Eos, I presume,� Titania mused. �No, I suppose even with how much she has fallen, you would not be able to defeat her.�

�Not on my own,� Tithonus chittered through his insect-like mouth. �But with your power, she�ll be no more than an ant to me, and at last I can have my revenge.�

�Do you hate her so much that you would risk dying here?� Titania wondered. �You are one of the least of us, Tithonus, and your youth abandoned you long ago, as did your strength.�

�My youth and with it my body,� He agreed darkly. �Until I turned into the monster I am now. She kidnapped me from my home and stole me from my wife for my beauty, and when that beauty faded she locked me away so she wouldn�t have to see me and left. By the time I escaped, Cissia had long since died and all my immortality gave we was the chance to rot further and watch my sons go to join her. I was left with nothing, too hideous to return to humanity and too weak to have a place amongst the Immortals. But you underestimate me, Queen Titania; though I have no great amount of magic, I�ve had time enough to master its use�and then some. I have more than enough power for this.�

Titania actually looked sad and as she spoke there was pity in her voice.

�What was done to you was horrible,� She acknowledge. �But I cannot die here. All Hallows Eve is upon us now; I will put an end to your pain��

She trailed off as I finished. I�d left the bushes the moment she�d said night had fallen, lashing my knife across the line on the back of his head, swallowing my disgust and fear as I split his head in half from the neck up. He was dead before he could realize he was under attack and before Titania could finish her poetic statement, and by the time she she had finished his corpse had fallen and parts of his brain were dripping from his split skull and into the steadily spreading pool of blood emerging from his neck.

My heart had been pounding and I could all but feel myself getting sick at the sight�and then Titania�s next sentence stopped me my tracks.

�As expected, not even a hint of mercy.� Titania said in a tone that was half praise and half scorn.

�W-what? I was�I was just killing him?� I said, hesitantly. �I�I thought that whole �All Hallows Eve� thing was a signal to kill him or something. I was supposed to�this was the plan, right?�

�Naturally. I had simply worried that perhaps you might hesitate when you learnt of his tragic story, but I suppose it was foolish of me. I made the right choice in choosing a murderer like you.� She stated, flexing the fingers of one hand. �He was one of the least of us, but he was right when he said I�d underestimated him. He possessed quite a bit more power then I�d anticipated. Nowhere close to the amount I need, but I imagine it will have its used nonetheless. Better still, this ward of his allowed us to face him alone. You still have surprise on your side, so withdraw for now. I will confront the one maintaining this spell and consume them, so hold yourself in check until the next foe appears before us.�

�But�I just�� I tried, before giving up.

I just didn�t understand a word of what either of you were talking about, I thought, shaking my head in irritation as I withdrew.


Well-Known Member
Just stumbled onto this - I like!

It looks like it leads to all sorts of awesome.


Well-Known Member
Despite my fears, things seemed to go fairly simply. The process repeated itself several times, with what I assumed to be minor immortals or other magical things trying to trap Titania and attempt to consume her power. At that point, Titania spoke to them, sometimes in Japanese, several times in English, and occasionally in languages I simply didn�t recognize. None of them seemed to notice me, though whether that was because I was a �normal� human or because Titania was somehow hiding me, I couldn�t say. There had been a being with a Japanese voice, but I hadn�t caught his name, and everyone else I hadn�t recognized in the slightest. Two had looked vaguely Chinese, a pair of apparent twins had called themselves Loa or Lwa or something, and most of the others had looked�well, Caucasian, which told me basically nothing about them. Their conversations, the ones in a language I was able to speak, did little to help by referring to things I didn�t know anything about and events I hadn�t known existed and places that sounded outlandish.

Understanding what they were talking about wasn�t really my job, though, so I ignored my desire to find a computer and try to make some sense of what they were saying. Instead, I stayed still, controlled my breathing, and attacked when Titania had them distracted, and things turned out well enough.

The only problems I�d had so far were with myself and how disgusted I felt after cutting people apart. The pair of twins I�d left in a pile of pieces so cut apart that I couldn�t tell what belonged to which. The Chinese man, I�d cut jaggedly in half from head to groin and the one from Japan I�d removed the head from and sent it rolling into the nearby bushes. I�d chopped apart others, too, severing major veins, cutting several inches off the top of heads, tearing apart hearts, lungs, and brains through flesh and bone�what I�d done to them, I�d rarely seen in horror movies.

And that wasn�t the worst part. Because yes, I felt disgusted. I had to keep myself from emptying my stomach each time I killed someone.

But only afterwards. After the deed was done, I felt sick at what I�d done, but more so at myself, because while I was killing them, when I was running my blade to lines and ending lives and carving apart flesh, I didn�t feel anything like that alive. When I was killing, my heart beat fast with excitement, my hands trembled with glee, and I felt alive.

I felt the same way I had when I had tried to murder Titania.

I�d thought it was a one-time thing, some�I don�t know what I�d hoped it to be, honestly, except something that wouldn�t happen again. I hadn�t honestly thought that I was the type of person to kill, again and again, and love every second of it, but I guess I was wrong about that, too. I, without a doubt, loved to kill and I couldn�t understand why. The moment my target was dead, I was back to normal and could tell that what I�d done was horrible and wrong, so why couldn�t I do that during the process as well.

I was disgusted and horrified by the way I acted and even if it was to protect myself and to protect Titania, who I was and what I was�I was going to have to live with it after tonight. Was I doing to wonder what it would be like to cut apart my sister every time I saw her? Was I going to think that about my classmates? I honestly didn�t know, but I wasn�t sure I�d be able to live with myself if I did.

I started to shake and tremble there, in the darkness of the trees.

�Be patient,� Titania said. Or at least, I heard her voice say. The Titania in front of my eyes didn�t move a muscle, though, much less look at me. As such, I felt pretty proud of myself for not jumping. �There will be more for you to kill soon.�

She was misunderstanding the reason I was shaking, I thought. But then, she�d seen the glee with which I�d killed�and been on the receiving end of it besides. I suppose I couldn�t blame her for thinking I was some type of bloodthirsty monster. Hell, I was starting to think that.

So instead of saying anything, I merely nodded and forced myself to stop shaking, putting my thoughts and guilt aside.

�Things will get dangerous, soon. The ones that came before us so far were the weak and desperate, the ones who had repeatedly lost power over hundreds of Halloweens and had barely held on to their lives, or else the ones who�d never had power to begin with�they were allowed to go first, though I think they were too blinded by greed to see it. Those who are stronger let them go first, knowing I would have some plan for them. They let them die so I could consume their power, so that they�d have more to consume themselves. No ward that you were able to get through would have so much as slowed down any of the beings waiting now. These are the ones who are smart and dangerous, and they won�t be foolish enough to rush in and let themselves be distracted by talk or taken by surprise�and they�ve most likely already seen noticed you besides. But even if they�ve seen you, they�ve still no way of knowing the truth about your eyes. And we are not without our own advantages.�

I exhaled slowly, trying to make it silent, and looked carefully around, even knowing I wouldn�t see anything. A part of me expected for someone to suddenly take me by surprise, the same way I�d gotten the ones so far.

�There is more to this night then you yet realize. The balance will be destroyed this night, in one way or another, and everyone knows it�and is trying to prepare for it. I�m not the only one being hunted tonight. They�ll form groups, trying to defeat each other as much as us, and gather as much power for themselves as they can, to help see them through whatever is to come. And other still are waiting behind them, ready to watch them devour each other, and then slay the victory. There are beings waiting that would be a danger to me at my full power and they are waiting to see how fortune turns. We cannot defeat them, so we must gather as much power as we can, and make ourselves too much of a danger to risk trying to fight. The balance will be broken by the deaths of so many immortals, but if it is I who is left standing in the end, it is possible some semblance of order can be salvaged. We must be victorious this night, so be ready. They are coming now.�

My heart began to beat faster and it was not merely at her words. But she�s right, something is coming, so big I can feel it. It makes me stop listening, stop breathing, stop thinking. I�m shaking again, but not in fear.

But none of that is important.

As I feel them drawing upon me, I can still hear her talking, but the words don�t seem to matter�

�Go, Shiki. Kill anyone who appears before you.�

I�m already moving.


Well-Known Member
If I do not run, I will die.

I know this somehow, as much as I know that the same is true if my heart stops beating. It would be the death of me if I stop moving. My instincts had warned me and my body obeyed their commands, because I�d been right.

Something had been sneaking up on me, waiting for the right moment to put an end to me, just as I�d been doing until now. They would kill me first, then confront and slay Titania. I wondered if Titania had known they would try that, but it didn�t matter�that was not the way it would happen.

They could not hide from me. They gave themselves away, whether they knew it or not, the moment they got into position, and I felt sure that whatever they were, they were not normally hunters�or perhaps just didn�t know how to hunt in a forest. Their scents on the wind, reached me first, and the moment it did everything else became obvious. They�d hidden themselves from sight, but they�d made the mistake of thinking I needed to rely on my eyes, and their attempts to conceal themselves did nothing to hide the shift in sound their bodies caused to the wind as it rustled through the branches. It did nothing to mask the excited pounding of their hearts, as loud in my ears as the rushing of my own blood. I could hear their breathing, the shifting and creaking of branches beneath their weight, of flesh and harder things rubbing against the air and the trees and more. I could even sense their very presence at the edge of my mind, in a way I had never felt before, and taken together, it was enough for me to paint a picture even without seeing them with my eyes.

The creature behind me was nearly seven feet in height, but light for its weight�over a hundred pounds lighter than a human of that size would have been. It relied primarily on its eyes, which was most likely why it thought hiding from another�s sight was an adequate defense. When I left its field of vision, it hesitated, looking around, before moving to a different vantage point. It moved from its position and it took several seconds longer than a jump would have taken for it to land again, it did so more softly then if it had landed at the end of a leap. It had flown or glided from branch to branch, and together with its light-weight, the picture became clearer; most likely, it was avian in appearance and that likely explained its actions thus far. Its vision was most likely vastly superior to a humans and it hunted its prey from great heights, where the only sense it needed to worry about detecting it was sight. It wasn�t used to the closed confines of trees and forests which would hide things beneath its branches, however, and so had to get vastly closer than it would have preferred.

It was in unfamiliar territory. At a disadvantage.

In other words, prey.

I finished painting the scene in my mind by putting together its appearance and location. Thirty meters to the north-east, I was out of its sight. It would move again soon, trying to find me while maintaining its distance, and since it had a difficult time flying in close quarters with its massive wingspan, it would be a short, careful flight to the tree five meters to its right. I�d be in its sights then, and it could strike, whether with a spell or a ranged weapon.

If I stayed still, of course, which I didn�t. I moved silently, this time without Titania�s aid, and nearly laughed at how easy it was. The park was Child�s play compared that place, where I�d all but been born�it was nothing compared to the dark forests of the�

I nearly hissed as pain flared through my mind, but I would have bitten off my own tongue before giving myself away like that. If I did, I would be a disgrace as the heir of the�

Steady waves of pain discouraged that line of thought, but I kept moving, circling silent and unseen around the trees, getting in position to strike. I heard my target move, leaving his position, and saw a shimmer in the air that gave my hidden prey away, and the illusion fell away the moment I focused on it. I cut through its lies, revealing plumage of flaring red and gold, a birdlike man of grace and majesty whose own glory hung around him like a cloak of many splendid colors. It would have been beautiful, but my eyes marred it with ugly black lines, stripping away perfection as it had with Titania, and the beauty was ruin.

I counted the seconds, tracking it with my eyes, and then moved the moment it handed. A second before it landed, I was running, towards the tree�s truck and then up it, perpendicular from the ground but not making a sound, as I�d been taught long before by a man with white hair�

I reached the creature an instant after it had landed, before it could even realize its prey wasn�t where it should have been, before it could realize the hunter had become the hunted, my knife reaching out to cut off its life.

But it was fast. The moment it realized I wasn�t where I should have been, it whirled around with a speed as far from human as its own appearance, catching my arm in a grip like heated steal, its flesh almost burning mine. Its mouth moves to snarl or speak, but its body is already in motion, claws many times sharper then my knife cutting towards me, ready to lay open my throat.

I�m died.

�But that�s not right. I cannot be killed by something like this�I refuse to die in a place like this. These eyes that see death show me my own end and I feel it coming closer, but things like that not enough to make me hesitate.

The forefinger of my free hand lashes out, travelling under the approaching claws, having started to move before I had even thought of it. The moment I�d been caught, even as my death approached, my body had only one concern�to kill the monster that had dared appear before these eyes. It was done perfectly, even for me; a motion without any hesitation or wasted movement. Like a was a machine, fulfilling my sole purpose, I plunge my finger into its stomach, three inches above its waist.

Because�that is where its �point of death� was.

Its claws which had been in motion should not have stopped, even if the brain that had commanded them to move had been destroyed. An object in motion should stay in motion; that was Newton�s First Law.

But stuff like that isn�t important. But I refused to be bothered by things I have already killed. When I ended its life it, it lost all validity. Its claws that were moving, stopped. Its body that was hot, cooled. Its aura that tingled across my skin faded away as if it had never existed at all. A moment later, it fell from the tree, crumbling into dust and ash before it hit the ground.

The moment I pierced its point of death, I put an end to it in every way. It lost all purpose or meaning and had no choice but to fade away like dust in the wind.

I looked down at it for a moment, before lifting my eyes.

There were yet still more things to hunt, even if ten times there number wouldn�t sate my thirst for blood.


Well-Known Member
I move quickly across the tree branches, steps certain and light. I do not sense any others closing in on me now, but that is unsurprising�they must have thought I was a desperation move on Titania�s part and sent only one person to deal with me, which was fair. It was, after all, true. And were I in their situation, I would most likely have thought the same thing�a more or less powerless human armed with nothing but a knife. Even if they assumed I was a skilled, trained killer, I imagined everyone at this party had at least a century on me in the experience department. If I�d seen my target�s first, last, and only line of defense was someone like that, I�d laugh at it, were I not a stunning example of horrific exceptions. I�d have thought I was just a desperate gamble.

Which I was, of course. But just because I was a desperate gamble didn�t make me a bad move.

But the point was that they�d glanced over me, considering me something that was dangerous enough, if one was caught unaware, but also thought themselves forearmed and forewarned, as well as dealt with. If more than one person had been sent to deal with me, they�d probably backed off immediately as soon as that bird thing got close and returned to fight Titania, the main course to my spring of parsley. And with said bird dead, it was quite possible that no one was even still aware that I was alive and present, except Titania.

Meaning, I was in a pretty ideal position for a sneak attack and would remain so until someone wondered where the creature I killed had gotten off to.

I paused for a moment at the edge of the trees, resting on a branch just out of easy sight, and took a moment, just moment, to decide on my target. I stopped worrying about being noticed pretty much immediately and with some degree of satisfaction, as it quickly became obvious that I was just about the last thing anyone on this battlefield would be looking for. A small number of miniature tornadoes were tearing apart the park�or at least the parts that weren�t already torn up. I was lucky with my choice of hiding places, because the side of the part opposite mine was on fire and quickly burning down. The streets and walkways of the park were torn to pieces and masses of earth were being torn up and hurled at high speeds, with debris being sucked into the tornadoes for added danger. Swaths of shadow stretched in odd places and move strangely�even given the flickering flames that had surrounded the battle, while colored lights shifted and shimmered throughout it all, casting a couple dozen more shadows. Parts of the area seemed wet, though I didn�t see any sources of water around, while glowing walls and spheres of bright energy drew my eye. In several places I saw the same, brief wavering in the air as that which had surrounded the creature I�d just slain, before they fell away and revealed those trying to hide from my eyes.

What I could not see, however, was Titania. If the battle had started as a way to kill her, it had apparently degreased into a free-for-all pretty much instantaneously. Maybe Titania had cut and run. Maybe she was hiding in the chaos below, somewhere I couldn�t see. Maybe she was already dead.

It did not much matter to me.

I chose my target, took a breath, and leapt, covering nearly twenty meters in a single bound to land on top of him. He stiffened in surprise beneath me, his first reaction one of disbelief that he�d been so accurately hit despite being invisible. It was a mistake that I ensured was his last as I removed his head in a flick of my wrist�and if a note of pleasure escaped while I exhaled, it was only because it had been so efficiently done.

I tried to suppress my smile and my glee nonetheless.

Grabbing the severed head with my free hand, I tossed it lightly into the air as the glowing walls and lights my kill had been so distracted with quickly began to fade, and sent it sailing in a high arc in the direction of the creature nearest to me. The moment it left my hands, I was running, my body so low that I was all but parallel to the ground. If there had been a between my target and I, I�d have been able to run cleanly under it without the hair on my head so much as brushing against it.

Distracted, however briefly, by the head sailing through the air high above me, it was no surprise that my prey didn�t notice me until it was too late. It brought up its arms at the last minute, as a defense for its vitals�but I wasn�t interested in any of that to begin with. Not when there was a perfectly good point of death two centimeters below his knee with no defense whatsoever. I snatched his life away as I passed, not even slowing down.

The third, annoyingly, realized I was there the moment I laid eyes on her, though I neither knew nor cared if she heard, saw, or used some supernatural sense to detect my presence. I was more concerned with the green and purple flames that erupted in a torrent towards me.

I didn�t stop my approach towards her, knowing I�d have worse to deal with then just a hastily throw attack if I let her live long enough to regain her footing, but I did my best to get out of the way as quickly as I could. I wouldn�t be entirely successful, I noted clinically�I�d probably never be able to use my left arm again.

It was an acceptable trade, I supposed, my arm for her life. As such, I ceased worrying about such pointless things immediately.

I was, however, somewhat surprised when a shield of green light�flat and circular, wide enough to cover me from the top of my head to below my knees�appeared in its way. The shield was positioned at an angle, not facing the force of the attack head on but shifting most of it away, but it seemed fragile. Even so, it was more than sufficient, shifting the blow away for a much needed second and a half as I got out completely out of the way, covered the remaining distance to my attacker, and split her in two from the left corner of her forehead to the middle of her right foot before moving on.

Titania was still around, I noted a moment later. That was good to know, as was the fact that she wouldn�t leave me out to die, at least for now�and when a pathway opened up through the flames and the smoke, I took it without hesitation.

Titania seemed to have a plan and it�s not as though I particularly cared who I killed next.


Well-Known Member
It didn�t take long for those still alive to realize something was wrong, but the tables had already turned. The dust, wind, smoke, ash, and fire made escaping all but impossible for them and with Titania�s help, stalking them was almost too easy. I would hit someone once and they�d die, but before anyone could realize what happened I faded away and was hunting the next.

All the while, Titania was nowhere to be seen, but that didn�t mean she was uninvolved. Several times, I heard screams that were abruptly silenced, at a distance far enough that I imagined they were likely from those who�d tried to escape when they realized staying was death. I was guessing they hadn�t had much luck. At times, I saw phantasmal images that my eyes easily revealed were illusions�those of beautiful figures with white hair, centaurs, unicorns, and other things I could only vaguely recognize but could easily imagine being at place in story books. They were distractions made by Titania, and ones that I shamelessly exploited, sliding amongst the illusory ranks and striking swiftly. Several times, I felt a tingling on my skin and my vision altered just a tad, and I felt confident that an illusion had been cast over me, though I didn�t know what it showed, if anything.

Occasionally, I saw men, women, and other things making cutting gestures, as if to tear holes in the air, and could tell from their body language and how panic began to fill them when they failed that they were trying to escape. I couldn�t tell any more than that and wasn�t particularly interested in finding out, so I killed them quickly, before they could try again.

In the darkness, amongst the flames, Titania and I killed, without hesitation, remorse, or distinction. Anything that appeared before me died, whether they were man, woman, monster, or beast, because they were all the same to me.

This wasn�t a battle anymore. It wasn�t even a hunt. It was a game Titania and I played, a dance�how many of them can me make die? And I knew from the moment I realized that, from the moment I felt that glee in my heart, that there could only be one answer.

All of them.

So I cut and I killed and I broke them into pieces. I disassembled them like they were toys and left their pieces on the ground for others to stumble across and see. After a time, I couldn�t hold onto my professionalism, not with such a wonderful opportunity before me, so while I made sure they died quick, I did not stop there. I traced every line and left them scattered like the broken pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, my heart hammering in my chest at how beautiful they looked once they�d died. It was amazing what I did to them, awe-inspiring like the first time you saw the sunrise or the sea�and when someone found them, when someone was there to observe my work, I couldn�t keep myself from smiling as they stumbled away in terror, trying not to scream.

I enjoyed it. I loved it. And I loved them, too�how they looked when life faded from their eyes, how they felt beneath my knife, the almost artistic patterns their blood made as it splattered on the ground, spilling from their bodies. I felt fulfilled, like this was what I had been born to do, and wondered how much of a fool I�d been to never have realized it until now.

I hoped, for a moment, that this game would never end.

Perhaps that was why it took that moment to do so.

An eerie cry echoed throughout the park. I could feel, as a literal sensation, a sudden press of a wicked, wild hunger, as great as my own if not greater, against the outside of my skin. Lightning flashed above me, though I hadn�t even realized there was a storm.

And then I heard the call of a horn, so loud I was sure it must have echoed down into the very bones of the Earth.

I felt a surge of desire�to stalk beneath the stars, hunting and killing as I pleased�in my heart, calling to the most primal parts of me. I could all but feel the rush of wind in my face, the hunger and thirst that could only be quenched by my fair share of blood and flesh. I could feel the thrill of chasing prey, testing myself against them, struggling to prove who was the strongest, the fastest, the smartest, and felt the joy in my bones and blood as I proved victorious, for that was the only way it could end. I felt joy, passion, excitement, and a sense that all was as it should be, at the sound of that horn.

But I�d spent the night satiating those desires already. I had bathed in those feelings. It called to the deepest parts of me, encouraging my hungers to rise and take control, but I had already hunted and killed this night and tasted the fear of my prey and listened to their final breaths and watched as their blood slipped from their fallen bodies.

The call washed over me and through me, but it could not control me, and I stood fast in the river of that sensation.

Others, it seemed, were not so lucky. All around me, even through the dust and the flames and the dark, I hear the nervous shifting of those who I�d been hunting. I could smell fear and understood�what they�d felt had not been what had struck me. They had whimpers and hid and tried to run, dying and flailing and shaking in fear. They had proved themselves prey this night, the prey of a human and a half-dead Queen. They had not been called to join the hunt, but warned that it was to be the death of them.

I looked over my shoulder, where Titania now stood, though I had not sensed her approach. I could sense her power now, the power I had gathered for her sake, spilling out from her like the body heat of some enormous beast. The temperature around her rose, simply because she stood there, and I marveled at it for half a second. Had all that truly come from those I�d slain? Had they possessed that much power and still died so easily?

But I guess the saying was true, about a knife between the shoulder blades.

I looked closely at Titania�s face, but could see nothing in her mask. But�

�You�re worried,� I guessed, comparing her power to what I�d felt in that horn.

She glanced at me, but said nothing to confirm or deny it.

�I didn�t expect any of them to act so soon, but he�s never been one to idle,� She murmured. �He gave us this long only to test our skill and separate the hunters from the prey. Be on your guard, Shiki. The Wild Hunt comes.�


Well-Known Member
At some point, we were really going to need to talk about the fact that I didn�t understand a word coming out of her mouth and that she needed to stop acting like I should. For example, I got the feeling that what she had just said was intended to be a powerful, dramatic statement, but it�s effects were lost on me, so I felt quite justified in giving her an flat look.

For a moment, her stoic mask faltered and gave way to irritation before she quickly regained control.

�A number of magical hunters are coming towards us and will most likely treat everyone in their path as their prey. They�re extremely dangerous and would greatly enjoy killing us both, so be on your guard.� She clarified, hiding all traces of annoyance with a heroic effort.

I thought�but carefully did not say�that it probably would have been easier to just say that from the beginning, rather than waste her breath on things that would be meaningless to me. Titania glared at me, perhaps sensing the direction of my thoughts.

But a moment later, she spoke again and a felt a sudden weight upon me as she gave me her full attention, and I forgot everything else, paying complete attention to her. This was important, I felt.

�When the Wild Hunt comes, everything in its path is given a simple choice�Join, hide, or die. Everyone who crosses its path will be given that choice, including both you and I.�

There was something hidden in those words, I could tell, and I frown at her. Was she warning me about something? Testing me? Or was this her way of giving me a way out and letting me escape?


�You will not join,� I said, a statement rather than a question.

She didn�t so much as blink, giving no reaction to my words. Her eyes were calm with certainty, now�with acceptance. But of what? What was she trying to say?

It was annoying. If she wanted to tell me something, I wish she would just come out and say it. But I suppose it didn�t really matter, in the end.

�I don�t feel like joining any gangs. It�s not really my idea of a good time.� I said. �Besides, there�s no one interesting to hunt left in their path. I think I�d have more fun if I stay on your side instead.�

She kept looking at me for a minute, gaze not changing in the slightest�but when she looked away, I thought I saw a tiny quirk to her lips; the closest I�ve ever seen her to smiling.

�I suppose it makes no difference whether you�re behind him or in his path tonight. After he is finished with the hunt, Herne will consume his hunt as he did so many years ago, when he first took up his mantle, and take their power into himself.�

In other words, I�d have died if I joined him. Of course, Titania seemed to be implying that I�d be dying if I stayed beside her, too, but that was beside the point.

�Does he do this often?� I wondered, since she seemed to know this �Herne� well.

She shook her head.

�Rituals such as this are rarer than the tooth of a hen, but you have caused a great deal of turmoil with your actions. More than you will ever truly know, I imagine, and so many beings are acting in ways they would not have even considered days ago.�

I hummed in acknowledgement, not really caring about that at the moment.

�Well, that�s interesting�so how should we kill him, exactly?�

�We don�t,� Titania murmured, tilting her head back to look up at the stars. �It is not something we are capable of as we are now�and even if we were, it is not something the world can afford.�

�I don�t understand.�

�I wouldn�t expect you to,� Titania sighed. �The balance of powers that governs this world is not something even I understand fully�but I know enough. I told you before, that there would be repercussions for what has happened already this night; the minor immortals we slew had their own roles to play, and we have eliminated the actors. The power I�ve gathered this night will already strain things in the Court of Faerie. You won�t notice it immediately and what little you do see, you would not understand. If I somehow took his power on top of that, the balance would shatter completely and it could be the death of this world.�

�Explain, please.� I said, focusing the hell up at the last sentence.

�I am the Queen of Summer�of Light and Life. As my power grows, so do these things. But have you ever heard the saying that there is too much of a good thing? The power I gathered here tonight could well prove that statement true. It is not something that would happen quickly in mortal eyes, but before the century next turns, the changes wrought this night could erase a third of the fresh water from the continents of your world, turn agricultural heartlands into deserts, new diseases will slay men by the thousands or the millions, and in the longer term, perhaps even worse things. I went this far only to defend the world from an even worse fate, but if I laid claim to his power as well�the chain of events it could cause, I would never be able to forgive myself for. I have neither the power nor the will to win this battle.�

�And if you die, what then?�

�I do not know. He is freer to act then I; if he came here this night, then he may have a plan to mitigate the effects.� She said, but her voice�

�You sound doubtful.� I noted.

She nodded once, closing her eyes.

�Most likely, he simply fears what could happen less then I. But he is bound to different forces then I and the possibility exists that his rise to power would have less repercussions then mine, small though that chance may be.�

She sounded tired. Sad.


I didn�t like it.

�Do you not fear death, even though you struggled so hard to avoid it?� I demanded.

�I have tried, but the cost is too much now, even for my life. I thought if I gathered enough power, I could make those that waited second guess themselves�but he will not run. He can�t. He is the Hunter, just as I am the Queen, and he cannot escape the role that was set for him to play. At least�at least if it is him, the worst case scenario can be avoided.�

�Will that be enough?� I asked, even as I wondered what the �worst case scenario� was that made it worse than what she�d already revealed.

�I suppose it shall have to be.� She said, opening her eyes again.

I scowled for a moment before followed her gaze up to the sky, frowning.

�I promised to see you safely through the night,� I said a moment later, as if coming to a decision. �And I�ll keep my word, one way or another.�

�Even knowing what would happen if you succeeded?� Titania mused, not so much as sparing me a glance.

�I don�t like thinking about What Ifs. Whatever happens, happens, and I�ll deal with it then�and if the world is doomed either way, I�d rather be the cause then let fate or chance take the glory. Besides, I refuse to believe that there�s no way out of this without dooming the world. Can you truly think of no way out of this, Titania?�

�With the power we have now, no.� She said, but she at least tore her eyes away from the sky to look at me.

�Then I will��

��My,� A voice spoke, tearing me from my thoughts. �I�d thought you all dead. Where, oh where did you find a living member of the Nanaya clan, Lady Titania?�


Well-Known Member
The name hit me like a physical blow and a sudden pain through my head drove the breath from my lungs. That name�

That name was�

I didn�t know. I couldn�t understand why I was reacting like this or why that name was important, but I couldn�t help but think that it was, as I turned towards the speaker. Titania�s glimmered, first with surprise, then with dawning understanding, and I got the feeling she understood that names meaning better then idea and that it had answered questions for her where it merely created new ones for me. I wanted to ask her what she knew�request it, demand it, beg for it, anything�but I couldn�t get air back into my lungs.

The sight of the speaker didn�t help.

He stood at the edge of the fire and the smoke, armor glimmering in the fire. He was tall�really, really tall. Less than three meters, putting him at a solid meter over me, and I suddenly realized that I was the shortest person here. An oddly timed flash of insight, but there�s something about looking at a guy you will probably have to fight and realizing that the top of your head barely came up to his chest that made me suddenly insecure. He was shaped like a human, though I couldn�t see if he looked like one, because his entire body was covered; leather, mainly, though the look of it was strange and made me wonder precisely whose hide it had been taken from. Over the leather, he wore mail of some type of black-looking metal. His face was covered by a bucket helmet with the horns of some animal coming out of it�a stag, maybe, if they grew them that big.

But more than his enormous size or his armor, it was his eyes that drew my attention. In the back my head where some part of my brain was still working properly, I remembered my�my�I remembered someone telling me that eyes were dangerous things to look at and maybe they were right. This man�Herne, I guessed�had eyes that burnt like fire and as I looked into them, I could feel their owner against the edge of my senses, like we were holding our hands against each other, with only a paper thin sheet of glass keeping us from touching.

My head starts to pound. In the darkness and the smoke around us, I could see something like sparks flying through the air in odd ways; rising, falling, darting forth, leaping away, only to suddenly disappear�

No, I realized. Those weren�t sparks.

Those were points of death. Dozens of them, maybe hundreds, moving stealthily and hunting in the darkness. I couldn�t see who or what they were and I couldn�t see what was happening, but those things were killing the creatures Titania and I had missed. This close, I should have been able to hear shouting�screams of pain or fear or simple rage�but there was nothing like that, as if the sound were being held at bay. There was nothing but vanishing dots and lines to give away the fact that people were dying.

But�but even so�I can�t think of any of that as important.

My instincts scream at me. They tell me that staying here is too dangerous and I need to run away.

But doesn�t that go without saying? What�s happening this night�what�s already happened�is so ridiculous I still can barely believe it. I know something terrible is going to happen, but even so, I can�t turn back now. I can�t leave Titania here all alone. If I run away now, she would die�I can�t ignore that, and so I hold my ground.

Do you know who I am, last of the Nanaya?

The words appear in my mind without bothering to pass through my ears, bright and hot inside my head, as if carved there with a burning blade. I flinch at the brush of our minds, but I can�t speak. Part of me wants to ask what he means, needing to know, but the rest of me lost all concern for such things the moment they realized what type of creature I now stood before.

It will kill you. You cannot stand up to it. Just being in its path is the same thing as being dead�this creature is something on a completely different level. Rather than stronger or weaker, it was something completely beyond evaluation.

That�s what my entire body shouted at me to do.

It is a pity, that the last of your kind shall fall this night. The death of your clan brought me great sorrow. Alas, it cannot be helped�you have found yourself before the Wild Hunt, mortal child, and now you must make your choice. Join. Hide. Or die.

I don�t want to be here, I thought, for it was true. I don�t want to be in front of that thing and I don�t want to die.

But I could not�would not�retreat.

If I cannot run away, then there is only one option left to me.

My heart pounds. First it was with fear; now, a desire to kill.

Because, that thing should not exist. So I should kill it. I need to hurry up and kill it�kill it here and kill it now. In the name of this blood�

I will take that thing�

And I will destroy it�

I hear the Erlking laugh. It�s a noise that carries high and far�up to the moon and stars, I think, before his voice returns to my mind.

Of course. If you are the last, then it is only fitting that you compose yourself as befitting one of your blood. Rather than run or submit, fight boldly and arrogantly. Do you wish to let your body age and rot and let time be the death of your clan? Better to die in battle, in my eyes. When such fine hunters faded from this world, it brought my heart pain�but to be able to slay the last, perhaps the memory of this night could ease my sorrow?

I know there�s no way I can face it, but my entire body screams for me to kill it. How strange�is it telling me I should kill him even though I know he�s going to kill me?

Or is it telling me that if I don�t want to be killed, I should kill him instead?

Is that the reason I want to kill? Is that why I cut apart Titania and those others already? Do I want to kill so I do not die?

No, that�s not the reason.

I don�t need a reason to kill.

From the very beginning�all of them�I�

What do you say, boy?

��That head,� I said, panting hard, my heart beating painfully against my chest.

Beneath his helmet, I thought I saw the Erlking smile.

��I�ll be taking it!�


Well-Known Member
The Erlking didn�t so much as twitch, but it couldn�t have been a coincidence that at that moment a scream suddenly broke the silence. A man with strangely colored hair ran into the clearing, directly between the Erlking and I, one arm hanging strangely limp at his side as blood stained the sleeve. In the flickering light of the fires, I thought for a moment that I could see bone beneath his rent flesh, but I had only a moment to take him in. In the dim light, I saw something like frantic desperation in his eyes and also how it turned swiftly into senseless terror and despair as he laid them on the Erlking.

And then he died. It happened quickly as a shadow�no, something that had purposefully standing still in exactly the right place to pass as a shadow�suddenly leapt into the light. It rose into the air in an arc that was nearly four meters at its highest point and came down on its fleeing prey with enough force that the snapping of bone echoed.

Instantly, sound returned as if a spell had been broken and a dozen screams hit me as if they were physical objects. Before my eyes, the hound tore into its fallen prey in a frenzy, spilling blood and worse, reducing it to a shredded pile of meat in mere seconds. But even though the sight before me is that awful, I�m almost afraid to look around, because the scenes those sounds imply promise to be so much worse. There are sounds of gorging, the chewing of meat and gnawing of bones, cries for help, and dying screams that are too desperate, too frantic, to even be intelligible.

Someone tries to run, but the black dogs are upon him in an instant, hooking their teeth into his spine and neck and tearing it completely from his body. Someone else�a man or a woman, it makes no difference�tried to seek safety in trees above the hounds, sobbing uncontrollably, but height seems to be no advantage against the hounds and seconds later the source of the sound falls, breaks against the ground, and is devoured. It�s the same no matter what they try to do. Those that run are caught. Those that hide are found. Those that live, die.

This park�no, this hunting ground�it could have been a scene taken from hell itself. There was no mercy for the fallen or the defeated or the dying�not an ounce of forgiveness was given to those unfortunate enough to be in the path of the Wild Hunt.

And yet�

And yet�despite all that�

It was nothing more than a distraction.

Even if I didn�t know what it was for, the timing could not have been coincidental�this was all just a way to distract me. If he�d so wished, I would never have heard these things and the man being eaten in front of me would never have been able to get anywhere near here alive. This was all just an attempt to get to me, to shake me up, but I couldn�t do that; if I just stood here, I�d simply join that sea of blood.

The dog before me noticed me and focused on me with gleaming feral eyes. The sounds around me were dying down�that is, the people around us were dying�but a sudden, pain-filled cry rose up, loud and clear as a signal.

Ah, yes. Of course. That�s it exactly. It is a signal.

The black dog begins to run, silent and swift and deadly, towards me, the final appetizer before Titania�s main course�but it was just a distraction. I ducked before it came anywhere near me and a shadow like shape soared over my head.

The second hound. I rose the moment it was right above me, my knife�s blade piercing straight through its underbelly, sinking up to the hilt into the point of its death. The dog died instantly, but the force of the strike lifted it up; as far up as I could extend my arm above my head and then some. If I hadn�t realized it was coming, it would have taken my head clean off, but it, too, was nothing but a distraction.

The first dog does not so much as pause at my actions or its comrades death and the ten meters between us are covered in less than two seconds. Its target is my belly and the soft entrails beneath and its jaws would tear me open in a second. I wouldn�t die instantly, but if that happened it would all be over nonetheless. Its four dots, the ones I could see, were located on its right shoulder, left forearm, back near its tail bone, and back on its right hind leg. I suspected there were more on its underbelly, but with its speed and the threat it posed, looking would have been fool hardy�instead, I just did it the old fashioned way. As it lunged for me, teeth bared, I slid my blade into its mouth, through several of its bottom teeth, to the corner of its mouth, and then, using its momentum as much as my own, all the way back to its back leg. I traced its line from its front to its back, cutting through teeth, ribs, muscles, and limbs without distinction and left it to die on the ground as everything above its lower jaw slid free in a spray of blood as I nimbly stepped aside.

But the first and the second both were nothing but distractions and the third was already upon me. Even having killed the others, this one�s speed surprised me and it covered the distance twice as fast as either of them had as it leapt for my throat. It open mouth gleamed in the firelight, wet with saliva and blood and filled with teeth sharper than knives, and I cannot bring my right hand around quickly enough to pierce the dot upon its chest.

My knife is not a two-handed weapon and even if it were, my left arm or my neck would be no choice at all. The moment I realize that I can�t bring my extended right arm around for offence, I raise my left for defense and let the dog sink its teeth into it instead. The sink into my flesh around my elbow and it bits down hard enough that I know in a second it will break the joint and the bones around it. I can also tell just by the pain that its teeth are in too deep for me to be able to pull it off of my arm, so I don�t bother. Planting my feet, I shove my arm elbow first down its throat. I hear it yelp and whimper; with my arm shoved down its throat, it cannot cry out properly, but it tries to anyway. It hurts, both for it and for me, but I do not care and I do not hesitate�there is only one thing for me to do.

As it chokes around my left arm, I bring around my right and stab it in the point on its chest. With that, the third dog dies and I easily pull free my arm as the strength fades from its jaws. Dancing several steps back, I wait for a moment, expecting a fourth, fifth, sixth�maybe an endless tide of those creatures, each nothing but a distraction trying to make me fall into the trap of the next.

But no, I realize as I look quickly around and focus on the Erlking. No�I have already fallen into the trap.

Just by looking at his figure, which radiated both satisfaction and disappointment, I could tell that much. But�what had I�

I understood a moment later as a faint rustling sound filled my ears. My eyes lowered almost against my will to the three corpses I�d made of the hounds�but, they weren�t hounds any more. The darkness that made up their flesh began to dissolve and evaporate, and in a moment they were people instead of beasts. A boy younger than me, whose face I thought I might have recognized in passing from school. A woman in maybe her late twenties. A businessman in his early thirties.


Ah, I thought, feeling detached as I realized what I�d forgotten. If the Wild Hunt was made of people who agreed to join the hunt, then what was with all these dogs? It was obvious, now that I thought about it.

�When the Wild Hunt comes, everything in its path is given a simple choice�Join, hide, or die. Everyone who crosses its path will be given that choice, including both you and I.�

That�s what Titania had said. If I thought about it like that, then of course there was only one place they could have come from. After all, who else was the Hunt likely to run across in the middle of a human city?


Well-Known Member
I swallowed, the hand holding my knife began to shake as I realized what I�d just done. Feeling sick, I stumbled back a step, which would have been a fatal mistake if the Erlking hadn�t seemed content to watch and see how I reacted. I knew that he could kill me like this; the second he changed his mind, I�d die if I stayed this way. But�

They were�

Even if they had been turned into beast by the Herne�s magic, there were all humans. The people I had just killed had been innocents that had just been unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time�They�d crossed the Erlking�s path and had the choice to either die or join the hunt. They�d just wanted to live and yet I�I�d�

I�d cut them apart and snuff out their lives like it was nothing.

�What hypocrisy. Hadn�t we already done the exact same thing to Titania? To so many others this night? They got in the way and we cut them down�they may not have been human, but what difference does it make?

It wasn�t the same. I wasn�t sane when I did that to Titania and I still don�t understand why I would do such a thing. The same went for this night�and even then, everything I�d done had been in defense of Titania�s life, or at least that�s what I wanted to tell myself. All of the people I�d killed tonight had come here intending to kill someone as well. But these hounds were different. They were innocent people that had been drawn into something too big for them. Could I just callously kill them? No, of course not. Even if I had betrayed that promise several times already, as long as I was myself, I would never take someone�s life for granted.

�But isn�t that just hypocrisy as well? Because long ago, I�

I flinched as the memory flashed across my mind. I�d forgotten it�I don�t understand how and I can�t believe I was actually forget, but somehow I had�but yes, on that hot summer�s day�Akiha had been crying. A child laid collapsed and unmoving at her feet, his shirt stained a dark wet red. I�I am looking down at that scene, my hands stained red, just like that boy�s shirt.

No, that�s not it. Instead, my hands had been dyed red in the blood of that child.

The adults came quickly, their expressions changing rapidly when they�d seen what had happened. They take Akiha away quickly, but leave that child to lie there dead. I was the only one of us to remain in that place, surrounded by shouting adults.

�Did you kill him�� They demand before shouting my name.

Yes, definitely, they�d called me �Shiki� as I�d stood there with my hands drenched in blood.

�Of course. Even before Titania, I had already killed someone.

Something in me nearly brakes at that simple truth. It is not something I can deny, with that memory so clear in my head.

Then what�s the big deal? I am definitely a killer, so there�s no problem with this right? It�s natural for someone like me to do this, isn�t it?

My fingers tighten around my knife, stilling my shaking. Yes, rather than feeling guilty, isn�t this more appropriate? As Titania said before, I am a monster, so doing something like this is only logical, right? I tell myself that even though the thought disgusts me, steadying my hand.

There shouldn�t be any reason to feel guilty, right? If I die here and the Erlking manages to get to Titania, they�ll all die anyway, right? In that case, it�s the same thing as already being dead, so if I can save even one person at the expense of the others, that�s an improvement. Mathematically speaking, even just one is infinitely greater than zero, after all. And I am fighting for my life, so it�s really self-defense, too.

That�s all true. It�s logical in its own way, as well.

The Erlking shifts, giving a silent signal, and the hounds begin to move. They dash forward with startling speed, but this time I�m ready and know they�re coming. I�ve had ample time to identify precisely where their lines and dots are located, too. If it�s like that, then I can kill them with ease. I ready my knife, preparing myself for the first of the monstrous dogs as it leaps towards me.

But just before it�s in range, these eyes betray me. The dark fur and flesh give way before my sight, not so much disappearing as becoming strangely transparent, and behind the bloody teeth and the burning red eyes I see a girl my own age. Behind the mask of animal hunger, her eyes are excited but oddly dulled. Blank, even. She looks like she�s sleeping with her eyes open and just happens to be having a pleasant dream. Appearance-wise, she�s just a normal girl�someone vaguely familiar, like a face I�ve frequently passed by on the street; someone I�ve never spoken to, am not friends with, and can�t even claim to know.

My knife could sweep out and in a single motion put an end to her life. It would be easy�so very frighteningly easy to take away something that could never be taken back. If it was me, I could kill her with no more effort than it would take to wave my hand through the air.

But I can�t. I won�t. I could reduce this all down to statistics and odds and justifications if I wanted, but that doesn�t change anything. It doesn�t matter what else could or would happen, it doesn�t matter what is happening right now, it doesn�t even matter what I�ve done in the past. If I do this, here and now, I will be killing an innocent girl. That�s a fact that all the mathematicians in the world couldn�t refute.

Sensei had told me that I had been given this power for a reason. When I was a child, I clung to those words, comforted in a way I cannot truly explain by the possibility that there was a reason to what had otherwise seemed like a horrible, senseless punishment. It had been years sense then and I don�t know if I still believe it�not sure if I still believe that there�s a God or that he would give me anything�but I know this for sure. The reason this power exists is not for stuff like this. I won�t accept that as even a possibility.

�Pathetic,� I heard the Erlking say at the edge of my hearing as the girl and I collided.


Well-Known Member
Oh, I forgot to post this here:


The impact knocks me painfully back, taking me from my feet. My head hits the ground painfully, but even so I manage to lift an arm and grab the hound by the throat, holding her teeth away from my neck.

Are you going to die like this? Are you content to let it be known that the last of the Nanaya was torn apart so easily because he couldn’t snuff out a few lives?

The Erlking’s words blazed in my head, the disgust in them harsh against my thoughts. I push against the hound on top of my, throwing her off with the same strength that let me leap twenty meters—but it didn’t keep her claws from tearing through my clothes and digging bloody furrows in my flesh. Ignoring the pain, I rise to my feet, but I barely have a moment to recover.

Around me stand several dozen black hounds, perhaps the whole host of the Wyld Hunt, and they charged at me without hesitation or mercy. But that didn’t mean they weren’t organized. I managed to grab the side of one’s face and use it to push it away from me, but even as I did so, another attacked my legs. I tried to dance out of its way, but its teeth still managed to score a glancing blow across my shin. I quickly try to adjust my balance to compensation, but another is already on me, gleaming teeth snapping at my left arm and it tears of a piece of my flesh even as I stumble clumsily out of the way of a more serious blow. As yet another rushes me, I react on instinct, lifting my blade to kill her—and force myself to stop, throwing myself recklessly to the side instead. The messy dodge, leaves me on the ground and there’s a trio of hounds around me even as I try to rise, teeth aiming for flesh. I try to squirm to safety, but the others are already around me, and in a flurry of snarls they’re upon me.

Disgraceful. Your forefathers would be ashamed if they saw you now, scurrying about like a rabbit before the hounds. Just this shouldn’t be enough to put you on the run.

He was right. There were dozens of them, but even so—I could kill this many, of that I was sure. I may not get through it uninjured, but I was certain I could win—I just couldn’t do it like this. I couldn’t run from these hounds, even if I wanted to, and I couldn’t hide from them either, which meant I had to fight. But though I was strong, I couldn’t win against dozens of these giant dogs with my muscles alone, especially not while worrying about their safety. In order to win, I’d need to rely on my eyes, but that would mean killing them and I couldn’t do that.

—But the alternative was to die instead and fail Titania as well. The Erlking is right; this wasn’t how I should act. I was a Nanaya—

I didn’t even know what that name meant. And so what if I was a Nanaya? What gave me the right to end innocent lives to save my own? Nothing—and so I wouldn’t. I couldn’t fall that far. I broke my word with Sensei a dozen times over, but even so—I couldn’t do this.

—I have no choice. It was my life or theirs. I can’t die here. I can’t let him win and I can’t win like this. So, I have to kill everything in my way; it was that simple.

It’s never that simple.

It’s always that simple. The Hunt is simple, it’s natural, it’s something that’s apart of you as much as that blood you’re letting be spilt so easily. You are a Nanaya. You are a hunter, a killer, and nothing more. That is why you were born. That is why you exist.

That’s a lie.

—No, it’s not. It’s a fact. Hadn’t I thought it myself? That I was born for this.

I don’t care what I was born for—this isn’t who I want to be. I won’t kill innocent people like this. Maybe Titania’s right. Maybe I am a monster. But I’m not this kind of monster.

Then you will die, the Erlking said, his mind pulling away in disappointment.

—He is right.

He is wrong. I won’t kill them and I will not be killed.

—There’s no way for us to win this fight without killing.

Then we shall kill. If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that if it appears before these eyes—

—I can kill it.

For a moment, I am certain. I’m not conflicted by my nature but supported by it. My thoughts are focused and I know what I must do.

The Hounds have me pined to the ground and surrounded. I can feel their teeth in me and pain courses through me as they work their jaws—as it is, I will not last five more seconds. But even as I’m being eaten, I look at them. The lines and dots around them stand out starkly even in the dim light, but that is not what I want to see. I stare harder as I feel myself dying and blood begins seeping into my eyes. More teeth join those biting me and with every beat of my heart, I feel blood leaving my body.

My vision stares to go black as I start to die—

I see them. It starts with a single dot, but then there are five. Then twenty. Then Fifty. More and more appear across my vision until I think there must be hundreds. If I want to live, I’ll have to stab each and every one of them—but that’s probably not possible.

My heart begins to beat erratically, but I won’t stop until I find what I’m looking for. I know it must be there and so I look harder. My vision has long since faded, but I can still see the death all around me—and for the first time, I knowingly, willingly push these eyes to their limits. My brain burns and I feel a sudden wetness on my face—I cannot see it, but I think I may be bleeding from my eyes and nose. The only thing that keeps me from thrashing around are the teeth of the hounds, which hold me fast.

But more importantly, I see it—and I stab at it. I pay no heed to the damage done to my body and rip my right arm right from the mouths gripping me. Even while being eaten, I never dropped this knife, and so I stab the point in the middle of my sights. Pain burns through my mind again and I scream, but—

The Wyld Hunt shatters.


Well-Known Member
The teeth in my flesh disappear as muzzles are replaced with human mouths. The claws digging into my skin evaporate, turning back into normal hands. As one, the pack around me turn back into the people they had been before the sun had set and fall down in unison, unconscious.

But none of that matters. In fact, I barely give it more than a thought. Because when the hunt had broken apart…the Erlking had screamed.

It was a brief sound—a sudden feeling that had taken him by surprise and which he had quickly bit down upon, squashing it into a hiss in less than a second. But it had hurt enough that he had screamed and even if it had been an unexpected thing, no normal amount of pain could have made him do that. And it had taken him completely by surprise.

And for just a moment, he was distracted.

By the time I came to that realization, I was already halfway to him. My vision did not return and I could not see what state my body was in—but it didn’t matter. Even if I had been able to look at myself, I wouldn’t have. This was my chance, the only chance I’d ever get, to actually win this battle, but it would slip right through my fingers if I wasted even a moment. Before he recovered, I had to attack, and so it didn’t matter what state I was in, it didn’t matter if I was about to die; I had to attack. If I hesitated because I feared I would die, all that would accomplish is making me die sooner, because the moment he recovered, he would kill me in an instant.

This fleeting moment was my only hope of winning against such an overwhelming opponent.

Even though I couldn’t see, it didn’t matter; though my world had been plunged into darkness, the lines and dots did not vanish. It was awkward, having only the lines to determine the shape of things—but it was enough. Even if I had my full sight, I would have had to rely on those shapes to win, so it was just as well that I wasn’t distracted by anything else. My first target was the dot on his left side, just above his waist, and I moved to cut off the source of his life.

But even in tremendous pain, even taken completely by surprise, even weakened greatly by the destruction of his hunt—the Erlking was still himself. I don’t think he even noticed me until I was few meters away, but that was enough time for him to act. A shape I determined to be his left hand moved from where it had been clenched over his heart, dropped to his waist, drew what I guessed from its lines was a sword, and swung it at me in a blow so perfect, it would have made my father weep. It was a blow I could only dodge completely if I changed my course now.

I didn’t have that option. If I turned aside now, he would regain his footing and come at me. As picture perfect as this attack may be, for the Erlking, it must have been sloppy—because if I tried now, I could have dodged. Once he had recovered, that wouldn’t be an option for me anymore, so I could not abort my assault.

But if I stayed completely on course, it would hit my skull and the Erlking’s strength would see me cut in two. I could not run, but I couldn’t stay on this path, so I instead switched my target. A step to the side saved my life, but the blade came down and chopped my left arm clean off. Before my body could even comprehend what had just happened, however, I turned my run into a slide, scrapping my left side and new stump agonizingly against the ground.

But the pain was worth it. As I slid by the Erlking on the ground, I traced my knife through the line across his ankle, cutting his foot clean off, my blade ignoring the defensive magic of his armor utterly.

I was rewarded with another shocked scream of pain, but had no time to enjoy it. I’d won this round, my left arm being less useful to me than his foot was to him, but this was hardly over. Rolling over, I pushed myself up with my remaining hand and ran, knowing I had to try again immediately or die pathetically. There was another point of death laid on his back and I made it my new target.

But even in agony, even missing a foot, the Erlking was still himself. Planting his stump on the ground, he used it as a pivot to turn himself towards me, swinging his blade at me horizontally. This time, there wasn’t even time enough for me to avert the blow somewhere less important—and I didn’t think it would be wise to try and match the Erlking’s strength. Once more, I shifted my target, this time moving from the Erlking to his blade. I caught it on one of its lines and traced it diagonally across its length, removing half its length on one side and almost all of it on the other. But even doing so, it was long enough to still reach me, its new tip tracing a line across my chest.

Neither is enough to make the two of us stop. I take another step, bringing my blade back up to aim at another dot, and he brought back the remains of his sword to cut me down.

And that’s when the difference between us became obvious.

He fought to win, to protect himself, and to stay alive.

I just wanted to win. I was pretty sure I was already dying from my wounds, so I had no fear of sacrificing parts of my body that I wouldn’t need in a few minutes anyway. His body was something to be protected—mine, something to be sacrificed, so long as it would let me win.

I saw a chance and I took it. His blade struck me in the side, slashed across my belly, and laid me open. It tore through flesh and organs—and meant nothing to me. In return, I moved my knife into the path of his arm at the last second and his own swing allowed me to catch his arm and cut it off.

This time, he didn’t even scream, but merely snarled at me in rage. And even still, we did not stop. In the wake of his final blow, I couldn’t take another step, but I didn’t need to—at this range, falling forward would be enough to reach him. He lifted his remaining hand as I aimed mine and power gathered in it—I could not see it, but I felt the heat on my face and knew it was fire. At this range, I couldn’t dodge, even if I hadn’t been dead on his feet—but without his foot, neither could he. His sword arm was gone, now and his ability to dodge had left with his foot. Given the choice between attacking and defending, he’d chosen to slay me now, not knowing the truth of my eyes.

And so there was nothing between my knife and his point.

My life for yours, I thought. Sounds like a fair trade to me.


Well-Known Member
Sorry to spoil everyone's fun, but I have plans for the Erlking.

Also, if Titania ate his power, then the destroyed balance between Summer and Winter would probably result in a temperature increase high enough to destroy life on Earth as we know it--and while I love Apocalypses as much as the next guy, I can't start my story with one. You have to build things up, you see, or else you have nothing to top.

But right as the two of us were about to slay each other, someone interfered. A hand grabbed the Erlking’s wrist and pulled it to the side, sending the cascade of fire away from me, while another touched me in the chest, stilling my fall with inhuman strength. Almost immediately, a rush of warmth flooded through me, focused around my horrific wounds, and I felt…

Pretty miserable, to be honest, but I stopped feeling like I was about to collapse and die.

“That’s enough,” Titania’s voice murmured to me and I stopped my attempt to attack again before it even began, leaving me gasping in pain but standing thanks to her power. I could feel wetness on my cheeks, too hot to be tears, and thought I was definitely bleeding from my eyes—but in the grand scheme of things, that was pretty low on my list of worries. If I wasn’t being supported by Titania, I’d probably have dropped dead already.

It probably said something about how skewed my priorities were that, despite that, the question I wanted to ask the most was why she’d stopped me from killing him.

Titania raised her voice and directed it at my opponent.

“It is my win, Herne. You are fortunate that I have more use for you alive then dead or I would not have bothered saving you.”

“Do you think me so weak that I would be defeated simply because I lost a hand and a foot, Titania? Your Nanaya performed magnificently—but he was about to die. Even if his final blow had connected, it would have done little, whereas mine would have killed him outright.”

Titania replied with a simple statement.

“He has Balor’s eyes, Herne.”

I wished I had my sight back in that moment, that I could have seen how the Erlking reacted. As it was, I saw nothing but darkness and heard only a lingering silence.

“You understand.” Titania continued. “Yes—that blow would have put an end to you, Herne, and it still might. I could just as easily have stopped only your attack and you would have died pathetically—and if I so wish, you will do so now. I have supped on many lives tonight, upon the magic of your hunt, and upon the power that knife cleaved from you. I can stop anything you try, at least for a moment, and before that moment ends, you will be gone.”

I braced myself at her words, readying myself for another attack should I receive any signal. I was well within arm’s reach of the Erlking now—if Titania stopped him for just a moment, I was certain I could kill him.

“…Perhaps so, Titania. I believe your words, for you can no more lie than I. But even so, I know you; I know how you think, I know what you believe in, I know how far you’ll go. You could have tried to fight tonight, alongside your warrior or in his steed, but you did not. You accepted the possibility of your end and were content to die quietly. That is why I challenged you before and that is why I call your bluff now. You could kill me and devour me, but it would unravel the balance of Faerie—and you fear that fate more than your own death.”

“It takes a certain type of man to claim to know the mind of a woman.” Titania replied. “You believe your words to be true—and had you spoken them just a short time ago, they would have been. But it is All Hallow’s Eve, Herne, and Summer’s End—and this is the night when things change. A few minutes ago, I had not seen my champion fight to the limits of his body and throw away life and limb to make what should have been an impossible victory come true. A few minutes ago, I had not devoured the Wild Hunt and in all its predatory glory. A few minutes ago, I did indeed fear what could happen more than my own death. But a few minutes have passed since then and I fear both a little less.”

There was something new in Titania’s voice—something that I couldn’t place, but which struck a chord in me and made me want to back away from her. The Erlking seemed to hear it, too.

“Then say it.” He challenged. “I will not be convinced by twisting words; if what you are implying is true, then you should have no trouble giving it voice.”

“I will.” Titania said before taking a deep breath. “Herne, if you do not surrender now, I will kill you. I will take your power and destroy you utterly. And then I will take that power like a torch into the heart of your kingdom and make your subject bow before me—and any who does not, I shall slay. I will take everything you have, leaving nothing behind. Because…I can. Because I’m strong and you’re weak and you can’t stop me. Because…”

Titania took another breath before finishing, her pronouncement a judgment from a Queen.

“Because you’re prey, Herne. And we are the hunters. And it is our right to take whatever we want from you.”

The Erlking was silent for a moment in response and I had no way of guessing his reaction.

Until he started to laugh.

“Indeed,” He said, sounding…pleased? “You are exactly right, Titania—you don’t know how long I’ve waited to hear words like that from your lips. And may I say, you look so much better with a predator’s eyes, Queen Titania.”

“If you died, it would cause me quite a bit of trouble,” Titania began, seemingly ignoring his words. “As such, despite the enjoyment I would derive from watching you die for your treachery, I am willing to make some allowances—on the condition that you surrender now, reaffirm your fealty to me, swear your loyalty to me for the duration of this night, promise that you will not act against me for a year and a day, and that, when time is less pressing, we will renegotiate the terms our prior agreement. Alternatively, you can refuse, in which case I will simply destroy you here and now and accept the consequences as an unfortunate necessity.”

“And I take none of this is open for debate?”

“No.” Titania said flatly.

“Then I graciously accept,” He said, still sounding amused. “And may I ask how you intend to spend the rest of this night? Shall we wait here for others to attack us in our weakened state?”

It was a challenge and Titania met it easily.

“Don’t be foolish. First, we shall return to Faerie.” Titania stated. “I shall gather my subjects and you shall call together yours and then I shall call the greatest Wild Hunt history has ever known. It seems a number of people have forgotten, so I will remind those who shared in your folly exactly who it is they are dealing with.”


Well-Known Member
Yes, a bunch of stuff happened that night. Yes, a lot of it was important. No, I'm not going to tell you any details--you'll have to find out the hard way, just like Shiki.

In other news, we finally get to the reason behind the title.

Also, sorry for any mistake or dips in quality, 90% of this was written in a car during a ten hour trip.

I ran. On streets and fields, across rivers and lakes, over hills and mountains, through the grass and through the snow and through the very clouds themselves—around what seemed like the whole of the world, I ran. It was not out of fear, it was not to escape, it was not to get away from anything.

It was a hunt and I was at its head. A step behind me rode the Erlking, upon a horse black enough to have been made from shadow itself, and behind him rode all manner of creatures I wouldn’t have believed existed a few days ago, wrapped in the guises of hunters, horses, and hounds as we tracked down our prey in its hundred different faces and tore it apart with tooth and claw.

And all of them followed my lead.

—No. That wasn’t right. All of them followed Titania’s lead.

The Queen rode upon my back and it was only at that moment that I realized I was different—both from those around me and from my usual self. I was a hound like so many of the others, but I stood larger and taller, my hide an unearthly green. All of the hounds that took part in the hunt were large, but I was enormous—I could have stood shoulder to shoulder with a full grown many—and I was the only one to bare a rider, setting Titania herself apart from the others, even beyond her place at the lead.

I was…Why was I…

It was hard to remember how I got like this, difficult to even realize that there was anything strange about my situation—but through the dreamlike haze, a beautiful voice came to me.

You have done well, Shiki. If not for you, I would have died tonight. You have my thanks for fighting even when I myself thought it was impossible to win. You swore to protect me until the night was through and you have done so, despite the odds. I no longer have anything to fear this Summer’s End. But even so, the night is not yet ended.

Despite the way the words sounded, she’d said them with a calmness that had almost seemed like detachment, as I’d lain before her in…I didn’t know where. After the battle with the Erlking, I’d blacked out and a part of me had thought if I’d never wake up, with the injuries I’d had—but I had, at the entrance to a castle out of a fantasy, surrounded by creatures out of story books, who bustled quickly in preparation of the things to come. But even surrounded by fantasies, for some reason it was hard to look at anything but Titania.

Your promise was to guard me for the whole of the night and I have much ahead of me. The hunt is being readied and with the power you have taken for me, I will chase my enemies across earth, sea, and sky. I will ensure that any who considered attacking me will never do so again. You and I shall lead my armies to teach them the error of their ways.

My blood was on her hands and her lips and she looked as frightening as she was beautiful there in the heart of her power and her touch on my skin filled me with hunger—for the chase, for blood and flesh, for the wholeness of the hunt.

You confused me. Your actions seemed to contradict each other at every turn and I could not predict you. But Herne’s words made everything clear. You are a Nanaya and as such, you obeyed your nature, as is only proper. It cannot be a coincidence that it was you of all people who received Balor’s eyes, just as it cannot be a coincidence that of all the people in the world, I happened to cross your path. There is a reason behind our meeting, of that I have no doubt. You have caused me a great deal of trouble, Shiki, but at the same time, you have aided me greatly—and by existing, you present me with an opportunity I had not thought existed.

I’d looked up at her, the question in my eyes even though I had not been able to voice it. She’d smiled down at him and shook her head.

It is too early. You would not understand and even if you did, as you are now, it would be beyond you. After this night has come to an end, we shall part ways and I will return you to your home and your life, freed of your debt as promised—but you and I shall meet again, I am certain, though when I cannot say. For now, concern yourself only with the happenings of this night. But I shall give you this gift for your service, though you will not understand its worth.

She’d closed her eyes and placed a hand upon my head.

Names are dangerous things—yours more than most. There are many who still possess grudges against the Nanaya and will move against you should they learn of your blood—telling them your name would simply make vengeance all the easier for them. It was for this reason that, when they were yet alive, the Nanaya were given other names to hide the truth of their identities, titles bestowed by either their enemies or the clan itself for their actions. Since you are the last and lived until now unknown, I shall name you in their steed.

It had been in that moment that the change had come upon me, shadow and light mixing into a mantle that fell upon my shoulders.

In my sister’s court, there is a terrible, ancient beast whose name is Cat Sith, the faerie cat. Long ago, he had a counterpart in my own court—the faerie hound, the very sight of which was an omen of death. But he long ago disappeared and for over a thousand years, his place in my court has remained empty. It has been so long that he is no more than a story, amongst both men and sidhe, the fear he inspired in my enemies long forgotten and even his tale has begun to fade. It is the way of life, that all things fade time, but I would rather his story remain. And so, in his absence, I give you the name Cu Sith. For your own sake, refer to yourself as such, Nanaya Shiki.

I woke up in my bed.



Obsessively signs his posts
Staff member
Moderator Action: At OP's (Ryuugi's) request I moved this thread from the 'Book Previews' section to here (Type-Moon Previews). Report here,


Well-Known Member
Really excellent, I'm really enjoying this and looking forward to more, good job crossing two of my absolute favorite series and doing so in a very novel and entertaining way. Great work!