Crimson Fate

In a world, where gods, demons, and humans have learned to co-exist, along with many more of the supernatural, Riku Cinder Sherwood must realize his fate to protect, become the guardian of the daughter of Devil Salem Nightingale, Selene Nightingale, whilst finding his own place in life.

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22. Chapter 21

Chapter 21

 

 

For the first time in a while, Riku and Selene arrived at school before the tardy bell had rung. Everyone huddled around Riku’s desk for conversation per usual except for one person. Embry was absent. And from what everyone in class that they had asked says they haven’t seen her. In fact, some other classmates were absent from today’s lesson. Murmurs stretched around the room. Riku and Selene’s sharp hearing picked up traces of the words that were being leaked around the classroom.

“Embry isn’t the only one absent.” Riku said looking to Seth, who’s normal human hearing couldn’t pick up any of the words spoken. Maybe bits and pieces from closer classmates. Seth moved his eyes quickly around the room then locked back onto Riku. “I can see that.” Riku frowned and scowled at his sarcasm and tone of voice. He huffed and crossed his arms. Selene sighed softly and patted both their heads. “The point is they are all angels.” She said softly and calmly. Seth raised his eyebrow in confusion, Riku blinking curiously as well. “Angels? Don’t you mean gods?” Riku tilted his head to match his curious gaze. Seth shook his head. “Gods think they are to prim and proper to attend school down here. But their lower level classes, in this case angels, just might.” Selene nodded. “I didn’t think there was a hierarchy in heaven.” Riku said, scratching his head.

“Yes. There are angels, which are beings who serve higher beings called gods. And in hell, the lesser beings called demons serve higher ones known as devils.” Selene explained rather studiously and seemed well informed. In fact, Riku noticed she knew quite a bit about all this supernatural stuff. Besides being a demon, she knows about heaven as well as hierarchies within all the realms present to her. Must come with the job of being the master to a guardian, or the daughter to a lord of the demon realm. Compared to her, he knew hardly anything. He peeked at Seth, who seemed to be just as knowledgeable about these things. It made him feel left behind, standing out amongst his own friends who were used to and accustomed to this world. Sure Riku went to school and walked past these beings on the street, even engaging in conversation, but he never leaves home and is usually locked in his room writing or securing himself within safety.

“Do you think it’s just a coincidence Embry is gone too?” Seth asked. Selene tilted her head at the question. “What do you mean?” Riku shook his head. “Embry, that gorilla girl, an angel? She doesn’t smell like the others. Besides, I don’t picture her to be so holy.” The three of them snickered. Seth’s face lit up with wide eyes and a gaping mouth. He pounded his fist into his palm. “Anything on Clair?” Riku shrunk down in his chair. The discovery of the Nightingale’s maid being an artificially created human being threw him off track and distracted him from his initial duty. Riku felt as since Seth was his best friend, and expert in this supernatural business it was fine to tell him. His mouth dropped even closer to the ground, eyes opened twice as wide, almost filling his face.

“The Nightingale’s maid is a homunculus?!” As surprised as he was, at least he had the common sense to not shout something so rare and abnormal out loud for all ears present to hear.  Riku swiftly clasped his hand around Seth’s mouth. Selene gasped at his sudden movement. Seth muffled underneath his hand, probably telling Riku that he was going to stay quiet about the subject. Riku scanned the room to see little eyes on them. He chuckled awkwardly and sighed. He let Seth free and wiped his hand on his thigh. Seth gasped and wiped his mouth. “You didn’t have to lick my hand.” Riku gave him a disgusted look. Seth shrugged. “Then don’t suddenly do that.”

“Oh! I know, why not just come over if you are curious about Clair?” Seth opened his eyes and cocked his head. “Would that be fine? Since you are the daughter of a devil.” Riku tilted his head with confusion lighting up his face. “Why wouldn’t it?” Seth sighed and shook his head. “Man, you really are ignorant,” Riku scowled. “There are still some disputes between humans and the demons and gods. Much like modern day countries. Actually, Russia to this day is still edgy towards bordering demon clans who still crave more territory. And, knowing the gods, they retreated to heaven even if they had gained land. And some demons still view humans as inferior ants. So pardon my caution.” Selene shook her head after Seth’s explanation to Riku. “My father values all races. Plus he likes the company.” She smiled and added a tilt into her head to add to the already blinding purity.

“Then why not after school?” Riku suggested. Seth would have to think on it later, as Cross finally entered the classroom just as the tardy bell had rung. Every student in the classroom made their way to their desks and seated themselves. The daily lectures on math, English, science, and the exercise and or games of P.E, with a lunch break, seemed to drift by quickly this day. It was probably because Riku had Clair’s case on his mind, along with Seth’s comment on him being ignorant about the world he lived in. The bell to release the students home rang, which startled him out of his thoughts. Selene gently tapped his shoulder. “Riku you haven’t been paying attention well today.” She commented. Riku shrugged and gave a soft grin. “Oh, don’t worry about it.” Selene tilted her head with a soft frown of worry. Cross stood from his desk and motioned for Riku and Seth to come over. Selene said she would wait at the school’s entrance for them, and left the two boys to Cross.

“I heard you were going to the Nightingale’s to investigate the spirit. There was something else I wanted to look at in the abandoned school building. Tonight, meet me there at nine PM.” Seth nodded obediently where as Riku gave a slight casual nod. Upon entering the hallway, the girl with messy, somewhat curly hair and glasses that snapped at Selene after taking her chair was mumbling to herself against the wall. “If only had those notes…I should have been paying attention.” Riku came to a stop and tilted his head. He opened his book bag and tapped her shoulder. She turned around as he held his notebook out in front of her. “Did you need the notes from today’s lectures?” her eyes widened in awe and then gasped in surprise but seemed happed. She gentle took the notebook and bowed her head over and over. “Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be sure to return it…umm…” Seth elbowed his side and Riku choked on his words and then straightened. “Oh, my name is Riku.” The girl nodded and held out her hand. Riku took it gently with mild curiosity. “My name is May. Thank you again!” she exclaimed before skipping away down the hall and out of sight.

“You are too nice.” Seth said under his sigh. He rested his arms behind his head and starting to walk again. Riku rolled his eyes and sped up to pace himself with him. “Nothing wrong with being a kind person.” Seth shrugged. “Maybe not. But you should still watch yourself.” Riku wasn’t really sure what he meant. He wasn’t really listening in the first place. Selene waved to them when they finally exited the school. “You guys made me think you ditched me.” She huffed. “Why would we do that?” Seth shrugged. “You can be mean sometimes, Riku.” Riku looked shocked at her words. “I walk you to and from school every day.” He stuck his tongue out and Selene copied him, giggling at how silly they were. Riku let out a soft breath, but felt the urge to chuckle under his breath along with her. Seth rolled his eyes but cracked a smile. Esther could be seen sweeping dust off the tables from the window of the Nightingale’s restaurant. She gently waved to them with a gentle smile. Selene beamed and raised her hand up high to greet her. Riku and Seth lifted their hands up mid way, but Riku waved slightly. Selene bounded into the store and began speaking with her. Riku heard a few things about Seth and Clair and dinner. Seth peered at Esther, seeing her smile and analyzing her facial expressions.

“For a soulless artificial being, she sure shows a lot of emotion.” Seth rubbed his chin, studying Esther’s movements and mentally pin pointing notes. Riku looked at her. He could see what he was coming from. “Yeah, I guess now that you mention it.” Selene and Esther spotted their gazes. Selene waved them to come inside. Esther led them to the living room. Salem was asleep on the couch, arm over the back of it, his other one dangling over the edge, feet placed on the arm with a People’s magazine covering his face. Esther swatted his stomach. “Sir, we have guests.” Salem swiftly sat up, the magazine flying from his face onto his lap. He crossed his arms and turned his head towards the door leading into the restaurant. He smiled and rubbed his eyes and yawned. Then shot up and bolted over to Selene and wrapped his arms around his daughter and lifted her off her feet. “Oh, my darling Selene is home!” Selene flushed and hid her face as he rubbed his cheek on hers. “Daddy, not in front of my friends!” he noticed Seth and Riku behind him. “Oh, Riku! And you are?”

“He only just noticed us?” Seth muttered. He cleared his throat. “Yo, I’m Seth, classmate of these two here, and member of the S.S.A.” Salem raised an eyebrow. He set Selene down and the two of them shook hands. “S.S.A huh? I imagine you are here for Clair in Cross’ stead?” Seth nodded. “But actually.” He walked over to Esther who was doing dishes in the kitchen. She froze when Seth stuck his face in hers. She blinked, probably feeling weirded out, or curious. She tilted her head. “I haven’t seen a homunculus in person before.” Esther’s eyes widened slightly but swiftly gave a friendly smile. “To think the Nightingale devil knows how to create one.” Salem laughed loudly and rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m flattered, but do you think someone like me knows alchemy?”

“No.” Everyone in the room muttered quietly. Soft footsteps scrambled around the corner and hid behind the couch. Clair peeked out from behind cover and watched the group cautiously. “That’s her?” Clair immediately shrunk down and fully hid behind the furniture after Seth’s question. Riku nodded. “She does appear to have a physical form. And able to interact with objects and people.” Seth tried approaching the girl but she scurried around to the opposite side of where he would approach. “What do you think Cross want to look for at the abandoned school building?” Riku asked. Seth gave up trying to get a closer examination on her and stood up straight and crossed his arms. He shrugged. “Perhaps remains or remnants of her life as the living.” Riku could remember the mention of how ghosts are linked to things they had a strong bond with while they were alive, and burning it would sever that bond. But like Seth mentioned before, in rare cases the emotions are strong enough to grant physical being. But it was never mentioned how to deal with that case.

“We better get ready for tonight. It just might give us some answers. And I’d bring your sword too.” Seth said, heading for the door. Riku nodded and fallowed. Selene tilted her head. “You don’t want to stay for dinner this time?” Riku shook his head. “I got food at home I should eat before it goes bad.” He and Seth went separate ways. Riku unlocked his front door and walked in, quickly closing and locking it behind him. He let out a soft breath and slipped his shoes off and hung his bag on the coat hanger. He had time to make himself a quick dinner. Just some measly pizza bagels should satisfy him. He wrote in his journal as he ate. He grew frustrated as it was hard to do so with only one hand. He closed the journal and set it on his desk. He looked out the window; the deep orange sky signifying evening had arrived. He cleaned up his dishes and hand washed them so he could put them away straight away. He wandered back to his room to change out of his school uniform. He slipped on a black t shirt, with a dark blue over shirt. He heard his doorbell sound off. He grabbed his sword and hurried down the stairs and opened the door.

“Are you ready?” Seth and Cross stood in front of the doorway. He nodded and grabbed his house key and closed and locked the door behind them. They hopped in Seth’s car that he drove in during Riku’s first S.S.A case. Seth immediately reached for the radio, only getting a taste of Lady GaGa’s Bad Romance before Cross turned it off at the first chance he got. Seth groaned and looked out the window. Riku chuckled in the back seat. It was dark by the time they pulled up to the abandoned school building. Once he exited the car, Cross opened up the trunk and peered into the void of weapons and tools. He pulled out a dual barreled shot gun and began loading it. Riku frowned as he felt uneasy and queasy. Seth and Cross noticed and Seth pulled out a small pouch.

“Sorry buddy…must be holy water and salt.” Riku cringed and shivered. “I feel like it’s more dangerous for me around you guys…” He halfheartedly joked. Cross pulled out a few flash lights, Riku politely rejecting one because of his night vision. Cross led the way inside. Riku felt a pit in his stomach. He caught up with Seth and whispered in his ear. “The entrance wasn’t blocked by that cabinet before…” Seth shined a light on the cabinet Cross had moved away from the entrance. The cabinet left drag marks on the ground where it was moved. “Someone put effort into blocking the door.” Seth noted. Cross whistled for their attention and gesture to keep up with him. It was just as dark as last time. Same eerie feeling of unknown dark. It was still musty and humid inside. But as they approached the center, Riku halted them to a stop.

“Riku?” Cross shined a light on him to capture his uneasy face. The small had changed. The air didn’t smell like dust, dirt or stuffy. It had a hint of iron. And iron in? Blood. Riku nodded slowly to the floor. Each of them gazed down to see a line of blood with a bowl in the center. “That’s the glyph used for shades. Someone willingly pierced the vale into our realm.” Cross rubbed his bearded chin. “This wasn’t here before. Someone has been here.” Seth shined his light around them, feeling paranoid. “So why exactly is it bad for lingering spirits?” Riku asked in the dead silence. “Shades prey on souls. A lost spirit is an easy target. The stronger the bond a spirit had, the more energy the shade will obtain. After all, shades are just imperfect souls escaping from purgatory.” Cross explained.

“But Clair? What about in her case?” Riku asked again. Cross let out a thoughtful hum. “The only thing keeping her here, even physically is her strong will. Probably would have to get her to accept her fate or let her have what she wants.” The only thing that came to mind was Clair had mentioned a sister. Assuming Esther is her sister as she said, if Esther would remember and accept her, would that send her off in peace? A loud bang came from behind them. Riku caught a glimpse of a dark shape zipping passed the fallen school wares. Remembering the appearance of shades, Riku pulled out his sword from the sheathe, the flames and embers lighting up the area. Cross stared at Riku’s terrifying yet brilliant transition into his demon state. It was his first time seeing it, so he had an excuse to be in awe. Riku hopped over the obstacles and pursued the figure.

“Riku!” Cross called out far behind him. Shriek echoed the hallway and Riku ducked down behind the fallen cabinets and turned over tables and chairs. He put his sword away, appearing human before May who was leaning over on her knees, hugging a cat. She peeked up and smiled. “Riku, what are you doing here?” Riku, Cross, and Seth all groaned, face palming as May was obviously not a threat and Riku had just over reacted. Riku offered his hand to help her off the rough cement. “What are you doing here?” He asked. “My cat wandered inside. I had no choice.” Cross approached the girl, hiding his shotgun behind his trench coat, flashing his police badge. “You shouldn’t be here, little girl.” May nodded, looking ashamed and nervous.

“I know, I know…I have my cat so I’ll go now.” Seth walked beside her, ensuring she would make it outside safely. “Let’s call it a night. It would arouse too much suspicion if we stayed after being spotted.” Cross patted Riku’s shoulder. He looked up at him and nodded gently. It was faint, a bit quiet, perhaps not even real, but Riku eyed around, swearing he could have heard a distance, soft, eerie cackle in the dark.              

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