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.

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2. Who We Are

The house was empty. She wandered the halls, her nightgown whispering around her legs. It was quiet a silence that she grown accustomed to in the past few days. Like she had every night she had patrolled the grounds of her family home and like every night it was still. Entering her room, she opened the window and sat down on the window seat. Her eyes moved to the clear dark night. There was no moon, only stars that speckled the ebony sky. She grasped the onyx cross that hung from a silver chain around her neck. It was warm to the touch, as if possessing its own heat despite the fact that it had absorbed her body's warmth. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head back against the windowsill. Outside the wind howled. She opened her eyes and examined the dark grounds. There was nothing and yet she could sense something coming. It was far off, but the forewarning of its arrival was carried on the wind.


The ground was stained crimson with blood. A passing breeze played with the strands of hair of the dead while carrying away the ashes of the fallen vampires. Toga stared at the dead. There were far to many that had fallen and for some to many to count. He glanced at his father who was all ready walking away and he would soon have to follow. Had his sister been here the dead would have been buried before any thought was made to return home. She was however not here. He turned away from the blank eyes that stared listlessly up at the sky. There was a slight tug of guilt, but it was quickly replaced by the emotions of a hunter.


Sweat trailed down her brow and into her eyes. She traded her crossbow from her right hand to her left hand. Raising the weapon she fired another set of arrows at the target.

"It's good to see that you do nothing while I'm gone." She glanced over her shoulder and he couldn't help the smile that crept upon his face at the sight of her smiling brightly at him. Walking over to her he swept her up into his arms. Almost immediately he felt her arms slip around his neck.

"Are you all right?" she asked, her words whispered into his ear.

He released her and kissed her forehead lightly. Standing back he saw that she had not changed in the time that he was gone. "I'm fine Shiriko," he said after a moment.

She narrowed her eyes when she heard the tone in his voice. "You're lying." Stepping back from him she scanned his outer appearance. "You're not injured." Her eyes returned to his. "What's wrong Toga?"

"Shiriko…" He held her face in his hands and brought his face close to hers. "I'm fine. There is nothing wrong."

"Then that must be the truth," she said, her voice cool. She grasped his hands and lowered them from her face. Turning away from him, she picked up the forgotten crossbow before walking back to the target. "What now?" She pulled out several of the arrows that were all ready imbedded within the wood before walking back to her original spot.

"We wait for the next assignment." She was silent and he came up behind her. "Or do you mean something else?"

"No…" She raised the crossbow and gazed down the sight. "That's exactly what I meant?" There was a click and the arrow sped through the air before burying itself in the target's center.


He slid the door closed behind him and closed his eyes. Exhaustion overcame him and he took a deep breath before releasing it. There was the scent of iron that lingered on him despite the fact that he had washed the blood away days earlier. It was a sickening smell, one that he wished to forget as well as the memory of what had occurred. To forget though would mean to not learn.

"Toga."

Opening his eyes he met the dark gaze of his father. He had not changed his clothes and he saw that he held a paper in his hands. Without seeing its contents, he knew what it was and what it meant.

"I'll be back in a few days."

He nodded and took a few steps forward. His father passed him, sliding the door open before closing it. He walked to the window and looked outside, watching as Shiriko stared after his retreating figure before turning away. Her dark eyes met his for a brief moment before she turned back to the target. He shook his head before following the hallway to the bathroom. The scent of blood was becoming overpowering and his only desire at the moment was to wash it away. Closing the door behind him, he turned on the faucet before starting to strip off his clothes.


The sound of water running greeted her when she entered the house. She set her crossbow down on a side table before walking down the hallway. Silence replaced the earlier noise and she paused when the door ahead of her opened. She smirked slightly when Toga stepped into the hallway clad only in a towel, steam following him from the room. As if sensing her gaze he turned towards her and she shook her head before walking past him.

He stared after her, wondering for a moment what her smirk meant before shaking his head. Adjusting his towel he then walked to his bedroom to dress in clean clothes. He had barely put a pair of pants on when he heard a soft knock.

"Can I come in?"

"Yes," he said in answer to her question. He heard the door open, but otherwise ignored it and continued to dress. After pulling his shirt over his head he saw her reflection in the mirror before him. She was leaning against the doorframe, watching him with a bored expression. "What is it Shiriko?"

"Am I annoying you?"

"No. Why would you ask that?"

"Your tone."

He turned around to face her. "You know that I could never be annoyed with you Shiriko. I apologize if I sounded as though I was." She was quiet, but he could see that she was thinking.

"Are you hungry?"

It was not the question that he had expected, but he nodded in answer. "Did you cook?"

"No," she said with a smile. Turning around she started to walk from the room. "I did not know that you would be home tonight."

He shook his head in amusement before following after her.


She pulled her knees up to her chest and gazed out the window. Hours had passed since their father had gone to hunt the latest Level E that he had been assigned. Her eyes moved to the grounds where she saw her brother leaving the protection of the house to walk out into the night's dangers. She rose and slipped out the window. Leaping down to the ground she landed onto the ground, barely making a noise. The grass felt cool beneath her bare feet and she rose slowly. Toga had all ready gone and she could see his footsteps that showed the path that he had taken. Following his trail, she disappeared into the darkness of the grounds.


The white marble seemed to glow, absorbing the light that the stars and the moon offered. A twig snapped and he glanced over his shoulder in time to see a rabbit disappear into the brush before returning his gaze to the grave. Her name was etched into the stone. "You shouldn't be out this late."

"Neither should you."

He looked to his left to see Shiriko standing just outside the trees that hid the grave. Like the marble tomb she seemed to glow in the moon's silvery light, appearing for a brief moment as a spirit or maybe one of them before she was once again his sister. "Why are you here?"

"I was curious." She walked forward so that she was standing at his side. Her eyes moved to the grave before she looked at his face. "What happened on the assignment Toga?"

"We underestimated the enemy." He shoved his hands into his coat pockets. "There was a massacre, but in the end we finished the job." He waited for her to speak, but she was silent. Choosing to look at her he saw that her eyes were no longer on him.

"Is this what you really want in life?" she asked in a hushed voice. "It's all ready taken so much from us. Are you willing to sacrifice your own life to continue this war that is going no where?"

"Yes, I am. It is my destiny just as it is yours. We were born into this life Shiriko. There is nothing waiting for us beyond being hunters."

"You sound like father."

"Reason normally makes it so," he said with a smirk. She turned to look at him and a frown replaced it.

Reaching up she touched his face lightly with her fingertips. "Maybe you're right Toga. It wouldn't be the first time that you were."

Her hand trailed down the side of his face and he grasped it, bringing her fingers to his lips. "If I'm right Shiriko, then why do you keep asking these questions?" He kissed her fingertips lightly and her hand closed on his. "I think that you're looking for another answer." Her eyes lowered and she pulled her hand back from him. He reached out and ran a hand through her wavy dark brown hair that was the same as his only longer. "Don't think to much about it Shiriko."

She closed her eyes and turned away from him. His lips brushed against her cheek and when she opened her eyes he was gone.

He felt a twinge of guilt as he walked back to their house. It was wrong to treat her in such a manner. She knew more than any other hunter that he had met did more than he himself knew what it was to be a hunter. It was a birthright and a curse. Of course it was the only thing that he could tell her. Stopping, he turned around and saw that she had knelt down before the gravestone. She reached out her hand and touched the lightly. He couldn't read her expression, her dark hair hiding her face from him. She would be angry; she had every right to be.


He stood in the doorway of her room, watching her as she sat on the window seat. She had yet to acknowledge his presence. Walking over to her he came to stand beside her and saw that her eyes were closed. A smile tugged at the corners of his lips. It was slightly difficult to believe that she was asleep. It was harder to believe that she had come back after what he had said. He had thought that she would remain at the grave for the rest of the night. Careful not to wake her he picked her up, her head falling against his shoulder. He turned around and carried her to her bed. Laying her down he brushed the stray strands of hair from her face before turning and walking back to the doorway. He paused and his eyes moved to the open window. There was something out there. Where and what though he did not know.

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