Crown of Thorns

The war was something that she never desired, but her birthright as a daughter of the Yagari family forced her to be a part of it. She killed level Est and slowly destroyed herself until the night her life was saved. Salvation was a distant dream, but maybe it was closer than she had originally believed.


14. Proposal

"You're disgusting. You are nothing to me. If I see you again, I swear that I will kill you."

Why had this happened? What had happened for this to be deserved? It was not fair. None of this was fair. She shouldn't be dead. She shouldn't have been killed. Why? It was their fault. It was his fault. It was because of them that man that this had happened. It was because of father. If he hadn't of... When had it come to this. Destiny could be damned. This shouldn't have happened. None of this should have happened. It could have been prevented. This could have been avoided. Now he was destroying her. He glared at the photograph of his father. This was all because of him. The bastard was ruining the family because of his own bitterness. He turned his back to the image and crossed the room. The man had finally left two days after Shiriko, but there was a lingering sense of dread. He had a terrible feeling. Something was going to happen. His father was going to do something. How, he knew, he didn't know. Looking at the door, he considered leaving, he considered going to find the man. He didn't know where it was that he had gone though, and if he managed to find him, it might be too late. Still.... He started to walk to the door only to stop. No. He walked back into the room. He had to stay here. He had to be here when she was back. He couldn't risk her returning home only to find their father.


This city, she disliked it greatly. It was cold here and she kept her coat close around her. There was the scent of garbage, blood, and other disgusting smells on the air. How could someone live here? She forced the smell to the back of her mind and continued walking slowly down the street. There were several people around her. She ignored them and they ignored her. Making her way to the bar, she paused to pull the tie out of her hair before she stepped into the establishment. It was more crowded in here. There was the scent of smoke on the air. Walking to the counter, she took a seat at one of the stools and made her order. A brown bottle was placed before her. Taking a small sip, she was disgusted by the flavor of the beverage. Her expression neglected to show her distaste.

"Hey, sweetheart."

She glanced at the man who sat down beside her. The scent of alcohol permeated off of him.

"What is a pretty little thing like you doing in a place like this."

"I am just passing through." She took another sip of her beverage.

"I guess this is my lucky day."

She smiled at him.

"Are you looking for company?"

Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she then turned her gaze forward. "I might be."

"Well, you came to the right place."

A smile curved her lips.


The man was disgusting. She watched as he flirted with two women who appeared to be more interested in giving him a night beneath the sheets. He had given her the information that she needed though. Putting some money on the counter, she then walked to the bathroom. It was fairly well kept, but it had to be if most of the customers spent their time with their backs pressed against the wall or emptying the contents of their stomachs in the toilet. Turning on the faucet, she washed her hands before splashing some water onto her face. She glanced at her reflection before turning off the water. After drying her hands, she ran her hands through her hair before leaving the bar.


"Yagari, what are you doing here?"

Sitting down, he motioned for a drink before looking at the man beside him. "Business."

"You need to take a break. You'll get yourself killed."

"I am not on a hunt." He took a sip of the drink that was placed before him.

"Then what are you doing here?"

"I wanted to speak to you, Kenta."

"Yeah?" He chuckled before taking a swallow of his own drink. "What about?"


"Fine looking girl. She's a bit off, but she's a good enough hunter."

"Have you considered marriage?"

He looked at the older man beside him. "Are you suggesting that I marry your daughter, Yagari?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. When he said nothing, he shook his head. "Crazy, old geezer."

"If you don't want to marry her-"

"Now I never said that."


The woman had been drained of blood. She looked like the others who had been killed. There was a golden band on the woman's finger. She had a husband. Kneeling down beside the body, she studied the corpse. It was a fresh kill. The blood around the wounds on her neck had yet to dry or coagulate. Which number was this woman? The tenth? One had been too many. Her gaze lingered on her for a moment longer before she rose. Glancing around the alley, she looked for any sign of the vampire that had done this. Walking away from the corpse, she examined the ground. It was grimy and there was trash strewn around. She paused and stared at the ground. After a moment, she knelt and studied the small series of droplets that made a trail deeper into the alley.


The building had been neglected by the rest of the city. The windows were dark, the glass broken. There was no door to speak of. The building had been great at one time. The architecture alone revealed that. It was almost a sad to see what it had turned into. Slowly, she walked forward and entered the building. It was silent inside. There was the stench of mold and dust in the air. It felt dead. Glancing around, she turned her gaze to the stairs. Walking to them, she started to climb the steps. They creaked beneath her feet and she stopped. Listening, she heard nothing. Carefully, she started to ascend the stairs again. There was no groan of protest from the stairs this time. Reaching the second floor, she paused and listened again before starting to search the many rooms on the floor. There was barely anything inside. There was the scent of feces in the air and she suspected that this place was used by the homeless to sleep and to serve as shelter from the elements. One room's door was partially open rather than closed or fully open like the rest. She walked over to it and carefully pushed it open. Her gaze passed over the interior before settling on the mattress in one of the far corners. There was someone in it. Walking slowly through the room, she paused beside the bed. Her eyes were closed. Her complexion was pale. She was beautiful. Almost, she looked like a doll. Walking slowly over to the bed, she examined the young girl. It was almost difficult to believe that she was a monster. Her lips were red and there was some dried blood in the corner of her mouth. Kneeling down, she drew the knife from the hilt tied to her leg before rising. Each movement was careful, silent. Grasping the girl's neck, she hesitated before plunging the blade into her heart. The creature's eyes opened, her expression one of pain and surprise.


The girl's expression transformed. Her eyes became wild and her fangs became visible as she yelled at her to stop. Gone was the innocent human facade. In its place was the image of the true monster. She pushed the blade in deeper, waiting for the power within the weapon to finish it off. The girl was clawing at her, but her grip didn't loosen. A scream erupted from the girl's lips before she turned to dust. She didn't move. The dust was gray and almost like ash, but not nearly as fine. Pulling the blade back, she heard a ripping noise and a glance showed that the tip of the blade had been buried within the mattress. Sitting back, she then moved off of the mattress. The fear in the girl's eyes... She quickly sheathed the blade before leaving the room. Walking quickly down the stairs, she then stepped outside. There were people running towards the building, the local law enforcement among them. The screams had been heard. Several passed her as they entered the building. She was ignored. Nothing would be found. She could picture them searching the entire building, looking for the one who had screamed. They would eventually enter the room and find only dust on the mattress. There would be a little blood and the tear in the mattress, but that would be the only sign that a crime had been committed. Only then might they consider her since she had been leaving the building. She would not be found though, and if she were seen again they would have forgotten her face. There might be some recognition, but they would not know where they recognized her from, how they knew her. It always happened this way and it was for the best. They didn't need to know what was happening in the shadows.


Nausea brought her to her knees. One arm wrapped around her torso. Closing her eyes, she tried to ignore the bile that was rising in her throat. Coughing, she felt the dull sting of tears in her eyes. Another hard cough. The palms of both of her hands pressed against the ground, bracing her from falling. Control vanished. Her body heaved and when she had finished vomiting, she took several deep breaths. Her body was shaking.

"Do you regret what you did?"

She lifted her head to look at Takeshi. He was standing in the shadows, his being partially hidden. Her gaze lowered. She neglected to answer him. A cough shook her body again. She tensed when she felt her hair pulled away from her face.

Holding her hair in one hand, he laid his other hand on her back.

The action was almost comforting. She closed her eyes when she started to cough again. Nothing was coming up anymore.

Kneeling down beside her, he rubbed small circles on her back. When she eventually stopped coughing, he took a handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to her.

She took it without a word before wiping off her mouth.

He combed his fingers through her hair, removing the tangles. "Why do you torture yourself like this, Shiriko-san? You do not want to hunt and yet you continue to follow their orders, you continue to kill. Why?"

"Why do you care?"

"I have not yet figured that out."

The corners of her lips twitched. "Thank you for your concern," she said before slowly rising to her feet. "It was nice to see you again." She took a step only to stop when he grasped her arm.

He took a step closer to her. Pulling her hair away from her neck, he then brushed his lips against the pale skin.

A soft gasp passed her lips. She felt his lips part and his fangs press against her neck.

"You do not need to continue this. You know that."

"You fail to understand my world, Takeshi-san." Her eyes closed when he growled quietly. The sound seemed to pass through her body.

"I understand your world better than you do, Shiriko-san."

His lips had left her throat and she opened her eyes when he nudged his nose against hers. His pale gaze was intense. Rather than look away, she matched his stare. His eyes were gray in color, she realized. Why did that seem to be important to her.


Why had he not used the honorific? His hand touched her cheek in an almost gentle manner. She found herself leaning into his touch.

"Stop this."


"I have seen you hunt. I have heard the stories of your conquests. You are great, but this is not what you are meant to do. Your heart does not belong to this work."

She wanted to tell him that he was wrong, but she could not. Everything that he said was the truth.

"Would you be willing to stop?"

Her gaze turned to the side. She didn't answer him, not knowing what her answer would be if she did.

The subject was not pursued. It was too much of a risk to upset her and have her push him away. The thought of that was not one that he liked. Taking a step back, he gave her some more space. His gaze held hers for a moment longer before he lowered his hand and looked away. He took one of her hands in his. Pushing up the sleeve of her coat, he revealed the deep scratches on her arms. "May I?" When she offered no protest, he lowered his lips to one of the injuries and lightly licked away the blood. His eyes closed at the taste of her blood. The sound of her pulse became more noticeable. Pressing his lips to the injury, he waited for it to heal before repeated the action with the other scratches. "You must be more careful."

Watching him, she found herself fascinated by what he was doing. "Some things cannot be helped," she said quietly.

"It would not do well to have you die." She said nothing. He moved his lips to one of the deeper scratches. As he licked the injury, he felt the shiver that passed through her being. "Most would have killed me for even making such an attempt."

"Most would have allowed themselves to be blinded."

He lifted his gaze to hers. "You are strange, Shiriko. The rest of the hunters would do well to be like you."

"Thank you, Takeshi." He said nothing, merely continuing what he was doing. She smiled, glad for some reason that he would allow her to refer to him by his name alone.

Drawing his lips away from her arm, he straightened. "You could have another life, Shiriko. It might be something worth considering more than you have been."

"I will think about that."

"Please do." He kissed her hand before stepping away from him. "Take care, Shiriko."

He was gone too quickly. She looked at her arm, examining the healed flesh. "Thank you, Takeshi."

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