Chapter 2: Incandescent
The morning sun rose over the horizon, covering the land with its weary light. It filtered through the shattered, dirty glass window of a broken ruin. At a moment's glance, anyone would have deemed that the jutting stone pillars were once the supports of a grand structure. Weeds peeked out of the cracks and vines covered the crumbling walls. All was peaceful as the forest around began to awake; birds chirped and the leaves rustled in the slight breeze.
There, near the window was a small child laid on the stone-tiled floor covered with fresh spilt liquid. He was small for his age, just barely four years. His mop of snowy, white hair practically glowed in the sunlight, accenting the innocence that the boy held. His closed eyes didn't twitch as the light touched them, not waking from his unnatural stillness on the floor. There was a tear on the side of his shirt, soaked with the cold, red substance. If anyone were to ignore the gore, one would believe that the child was only sleeping.
Then, he twitched.
It wasn't noticeable at first, but soon, his whole hand shakily curled into a fist. A small groan escaped him as he slowly turned to his side. His head spun a little from the movement, forcing him to lie still for a few seconds. Once the wave of nausea passed, the small child slowly sat up. The wet liquid clung to his skin and clothes as he slowly brought a trembling hand to his face.
His clouded, green eyes blinked away any drowsiness that plagued him. Not once did it occur to him that he could not see a thing. He was fully aware of the sounds of the forest life around him, and the stillness of the immediate area. The stone floor was freezing against his palm.
Despite his lack of sight, he knew that he was wet with something cold and sticky. With what, he didn't know. He dropped his hand and tilted his head up, trying to feel or hear anything nearby.
"Mommy...?" he called in a quite voice. It sounded strained, almost as if he just screamed at the top of his lungs for hours.
There was no answer.
Sighing, he got up from the ground and mindlessly patted his clothes down, unknowingly smearing the liquid. Where was he? What happened to mommy?
He took one step and -
He stopped as he felt his foot hit something thin. Curious, he dropped to one knee, feeling the cold tiles to find the object. It didn't take long for his little fingers to brush against something smooth and long. He felt the object, trying to figure out if that was all. The break in the smoothness told him that there was more, leading to a familiar shape of a handle with several smooth and rough ridges. Furrowing his brows, he grasped the handle and lifted the item.
He gasped, not expecting the weight of the object to be so... heavy!
Grasping the handle with both hands, he was able to lift a portion of it. His sightless eyes widened when he finally identified the object.
"Incandescent...?" he muttered. If he recalled correctly, the item felt just like his mother's blade...
Suddenly, he felt arms ghost over his shoulders and wrap around him, as if someone was holding him close. He tilted his head, still keeping his grip tight around the handle of the blade. "Mommy?"
"Go on, now, dear little bird. I'm not your mother for sure, but I'll be right here."
Gritting his teeth, he pulled the handle closer to his body and began to walk. The sound of metal scrapping the stone tiles was clear in his ears, providing a bit of help on where he was going. He had no definite destination in his mind, but he knew he had to go somewhere, somehow.
As he walked, the same voice echoed in his head.
"It's time for you to finish what your mother had started."
"Well, damn it." cursed a woman. Her long, fiery red hair swayed as she kicked her broken down motorcycle. Smoke was billowing out of the engine and the light was flickering out. She knew that it was going to give out soon, but she didn't have another ride and in a rush. She did push her luck with the old thing after all...
Rolling her scarlet eyes, she grabbed the satchel she had attached to the side and retrieved a wrench. She held it for a moment, looking back and forth between the smoking engine and her wrench, before giving up. There was no way she could save it anymore.
There was a soft sigh that escaped her as she pulled out her flip phone. It was battered and worn, but by some miracle, it was still working. Flicking it open, she quickly went through the scrawny list of names and called. She placed it by her ear and listened to the rings, hoping that someone on the other side would answer.
"Yo! Apple-sweet! What caaaan I do for you?" answered a enthusiastic voice. She groaned at the sound of his voice, adding to her misfortune.
"Get me a ride. Motorcycle's broke. Can't save it." she said, cutting right to the chase. There was no way she was going to deal with...
"Whoa! Aren't you sour today!"
"Zack." her tone was nowhere near friendly as she glared ahead of her, seeing how she couldn't do it directly.
"Okay, okay! I hear ya, Apple-sweet." Zack relented. "Just let me finish up a few tune-ups and I'll pick you up. The tracker's still working right?"
She looked over to the motorcycle and took note of the little red light blinking next to the gas meter. "Yeah."
"Alright, let's see... Whoa! You're that far? Damn, Apple-sweet... Here, I'll see if I can make it in...hmmm... less than forty minutes? I won't be making any promises though." Zack said with a bit of hesitation (yet still carefree).
"Make it quick or else I'll have your sorry little rear on a platter before evening hits." If one was actually listening to her closely, they would've noticed the tiny hint of amusement.
"Ahahaha! Roger that, Apple-sweet!" Zack still had the cheer in his voice as he hung up. For some odd reason, Scarlet Rose could almost hear the smile on his face. Despite her harsh, cold tone, it didn't deter him one bit, almost as if he was completely used to it. Heck, he was used to it because he was a long time friend of hers.
With a frown set on her face, Scarlet snapped her phone shut and turned back to her now useless motorcycle. What, exactly, was she going to do now? She couldn't really be much of a sitting duck waiting for her friend.
Shoving the phone back into her pocket, she unloaded the vehicle. She strapped her satchel to her side, right next to her gun holster. As she readjusted the straps, Scarlet took note that she wasn't alone on the dirt road. The rustles from a nearby bush made her alert. Keeping her composure, she twisted off the glass over the gas meter and plucked the tracking device out.
She tossed it once before catching it, hearing a growling sound behind her. Pocketing the tracking device, she finally turned around. There, behind her was a pack of wolf-like monsters slowly prowling closer to her.
"Oh, shi-" Scarlet didn't get the chance to finish as they leapt at her. Automatically, she jumped over the motorcycle with a back flip and bolted. The monsters chased right after her, growling and roaring after her. She pulled out her hand gun and cursed. Where the hell did her extra bullets go?!
"Damn it, Zack!" she snapped, remembering that he took the bullets from her saying that they were dented from the last battle they encountered. She had only six shots and eight targets. Unfortunately, as much as she wished that she could, these monsters weren't that easy to take down with a single well-placed bullet. In fact, she needed a blade if she wanted to survive. "This day is just getting better and better!"
One of them leapt at her, nearly catching her satchel. Not even a split second passed as Scarlet's arm snapped into motion, smacking the muzzle of the monster.
A bullet lodged in itself in its neck. It didn't surprise her when it didn't drop dead and only faltered before pulling back. Another one took its place and snapped its jaws open.
Scarlet didn't stop moving as she pushed off the ground to propel herself back. With a steady hand and sharp, gleaming eyes, she pulled the trigger.
The bullet tore through the throat of the second monster, but it didn't die. Instead it was enraged. She didn't lose any balance as her feet reached the ground, turning on her heel and dashed across the grassy field before her. She needed cover fast. These monsters weren't just hard to kill; they were smart. They had enough intelligence to track humans down with scary accuracy. One wrong move or moment of hesitation and she would become their dinner.
In the distance, Scarlet spotted a forest about a good mile or two away. She gunned toward it. The trees would either be the death of her or the life of her. She only had four bullets left and she had a better chance of getting away from them...
She suddenly pivoted on her left foot and kicked out, just in time to snap the neck of the first monster. It sent shivers down her back as it kept moving. It crumbled to the ground, but it was already getting back up.
The third bullet found itself buried in the head of the monster at point blank. She didn't even give herself a moment to relax and hurried back to her initial plan.
She tossed a quick glance over her shoulder and took note that there was indeed seven targets left. Well... at least she killed one of them for sure...
The field was slowly turning into a messy grass as she neared the forest. She only had about a hundred meters to her destination... and then she saw it.
A small child peeked their white-haired head over a thick tree root jutting out of the ground. They were certainly a mess with the splotches of red all over their clothing. For a moment, she couldn't help wonder what the heck was a child doing in a such a place. Hell, there wasn't any form of civilization in the immediate area. The closest town was an hour away from here for sure!
"What the hell are you doing?!" Scarlet cried as she neared him. Her cry startled the poor child, making him slip and disappear behind the tree root. A sudden growl sounded behind her, forcing her to run a little faster. Pushing at this speed wasn't a problem to her, seeing how she had quite the stamina. She couldn't stop and change direction or lead those monsters to the small child... But then she couldn't leave them by themselves!
Gritting her teeth in frustration, she made up her mind.
Scarlet had to save the child; grab the kid and high tail out of there - or climb a tree and hope those monsters weren't smart enough to claw their way up...!
She reached the abnormally large tree root and leapt over with ease. The child that she spotted was sitting up on the ground, doing... absolutely nothing. The mere appearance of him sent a shiver down Scarlet's back. She had seen thousands of strange and horrible things in the twenty years of life she live, and that was saying something.
His snowy white hair was half caked in dry blood. His clothes were a wreck and covered with dirt and blood, as if he literally pulled himself out of an aftermath of a murder. The large tear in his red soaked shirt made Scarlet's eyes widen by a fraction.
And his eyes...
His eyes were strange. They were an oddly vibrant green,and yet completely clouded over.
The small boy had his blank gaze settle right at Scarlet. "Are... are you under attack?"
She didn't have time to answer that as the angered growls from the monsters quickly snapped her attention back. She saw them getting closer and closer, forcing her to make a quick decision. Scarlet raised her gun and aimed. If she missed, then she would lose any hope of getting out of this alive.
Bang, bang, bang!
Three shots hit three different targets, slowing a few of them. Scarlet was about to drop her gun and grab the kid to bolt out of there, but she was in for a surprise.
"Ah! Quick! Use Incandescent!" the boy cried. In his tiny hands was a beautifully crafted sword. The cross-guard wasn't like anything she had seen before. A crystal clear rose was at it's center, adorned with licking red-orange glass-like flames, spreading from the center towards the spine of the blade. adding to the design of the sheath. The leather grip was an odd white (making Scarlet briefly wonder what animal that came from). The pommel of the cross guard was another rose encased with the crystal flames. The sheath itself had a white base with barely noticeable etches its sides. The tip was encased with a thin metal with noticeable scratches on it.
He shoved it forward, making the sword tip right over in her direction. With Scarlet's sudden new weapon, she grabbed it before it hit the ground and the closest monster leapt at her. As quick as lightning, she drew the sword with a satisfying ring.
A sensation of tingling power flooded her veins and shocked her with surprise for a moment. She didn't give it a second thought as she decided to just go with it.
The damned monster didn't even know what hit it. Scarlet had simply unsheathed the sword from its confines and sliced the monster in half. She wasn't even deterred from the warm blood that splattered over her. Before the remains of the monster even touched the ground, she was already in the air. The smooth, silver-grey blade of Incandescent gleamed brilliantly in the sunlight, giving a silent promise of death.
The moment she felt the pull of gravity, she flipped in the air and stabbed the ground, causing a shockwave of bluish-white flames eating the grass in a perfect radius. Two monsters were unfortunately caught by the fires, burning for only a second before reducing into grey ashes.
Four down, four to go.
She landed on the charred ground and fluidly pulled to sword out, beheading the next monster that charged at her.
With more than half of their numbers down, the monsters coached low with their teeth bared and backed away slightly. Scarlet took a stance: keeping her feet shoulder width apart and the sword poised in the air, its tip pointing directly at the eye of the closest monster.
There was a few seconds of silence, both sides analyzing each other and gauging their chances. Scarlet's red eyes narrowed at the slight twitch of the bared teeth.
It was decided.
Instead of all of them throwing themselves at her, they fanned out evenly, hoping to take her out with well timed attacks. On a normal basis, any human would be scared, but not Scarlet.
She was completely calm and her demeanor screamed "danger". Instead of waiting for them to move, she shot forward, not giving a moment for them to register that she was moving. The closest to her was late to scramble away as she sliced its flank like butter. It howled and collapsed to the ground, its heart sliced. The remaining two were enraged, throwing all plans out the window.
Once they launched at her, Scarlet was ready. She brandished the gleaming sword before her, undaunted by the intimidating monsters that seemed to slow in mid air. The monsters claws were only a centimeter away from the blade...
The sword erupted into flames, catching onto the flammable furs of the monsters. Scarlet watched the flames practically swallow them whole, as if it was eating them alive.
And then there was none.
Scarlet was only slightly winded as the threats were now gone. She looked down at the lovely blade in her hand. The flames that covered the blade had completely died out, allowing its silent beauty to take over. She took note that there were words etched into the blade's edge, but she didn't recognize the letters.
Then it hit her.
"Oh, crap!" she hissed under her breath, heading back where she left the child. Once she jumped right over the tree root, she was relieved that the child was still there. In fact, he didn't budge. He was still staring at the same spot she was before with that blank expression on his face.
"Are they gone?" he asked in a small voice, concern clear on his tone. Scarlet stared at him for a moment, before nodding.
"Yeah, they're gone now. We're safe for the time being." she assured, picking up the discarded sheath and slipping the blade back inside. The boy reacted to the sound of the sword being sheathed by closing his cloudy green eyes with a sigh of relief.
"I'm Robin Lowell." he said with a smile. He raised a hand in greeting, waving to Scarlet's far left. "You are?"
Scarlet couldn't help but watch the child carefully as she moved over to him and knelt down before him. "I'm Scarlet Rose."
"Scarlet... Rose? What a pretty name." Robin said, tilting his head to the side.
"...Didn't your mother tell you not to speak to strangers?" Scarlet asked, not really having the patience at the moment. Robin answered her without missing a beat.
"Mommy said to not let strangers touch her sword." He shrugged, "But hearing how you really needed it, Mommy wouldn't mind if you borrowed it."
"Where is she now?"
Another shrug. "Don't know. Mommy's missing."
A raised eyebrow. "She left you her sword?"
An awkward smile. "I... think? I just found it."
When Robin opened his eyes, something in her just clicked. Scarlet blinked several times when it finally dawned on her. "... What kind of mother leaves a blind child on their own?"
She didn't really mean to ask that out loud but the little boy didn't seem to mind. In fact he seemed to be completely oblivious.
Robin laughed, showing his pure childlike innocence with an adorable smile despite his bloody appearance. "Ahaha, Mommy does!"