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On The 16th Night: Clutching Darkness

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She ran frantically through the narrow alleyways of a part of town that only the foolish, tainted or hungry would ever dare to step foot in. 

The girl was the last of those three attributes, clutching onto the bag that contained several pieces of bread in one hand & a knife in the other. She had been watching the way the bakery functioned and knew that what she had taken was going to be thrown away anyway; so her mind couldn't comprehend why the man was angry, chasing her with a weapon three times her size. 

The world around her was unkind to those that were different. They were brushed away into the sides of society that were hidden in the shadows, away from the picturesque scene that those with privilege wanted to retain. 

It wasn't her fault that she stood out. 

It wasn't like she asked to be born this way. 

With her lungs burning for air, she continued to navigate her way through the bitter cold night with the thin and worn out dress on her body & torn shoes to protect her. 

She jumped over several crates as the man's screaming and ranting got louder the more the exhaustion settled over her malnourished body. Her size was to be expected with barely being able to survive on the scraps she managed to gather once every few days but for the stray, she received more doing that than she would have got at home. 

The thought of that so called family made a choked cry escape her mouth along with tears blinding her vision. 

This was their doing. 

How could blood relations ostracise their own for not being the same as everybody else. 

How could her parents treat her like a tattered rug on the floor, taking their frustrations out on a girl who had no idea what was going on. 

How could they use her as an outlet, both physical & verbally till she refused to speak knowing that it'd only make the situation worse. 

"I didn't ask to be different". 

Her inner turmoil got the better of her as she lost her footing and stumbled onto the ground, her knees and arms scraping along with her chin. The bag went flying ahead with the knife a few inches in front of her & that was when the girl glanced up to find that she had trapped herself in a dead end.

She quickly jumped up and grabbed the knife, turning around to see the man grinning ear to ear and twirling the spear between his burly hands.

The girl gulped, trying to capture her breath as her injuries stung and she backed up. Her shaky hand with the knife struck out towards the man only elicited a mocking laugh out of him. 

"Ya think you're gonna beat me with that?! Don't making me fucking laugh" he taunted with each step he took before a vicious scowl braced his face, "It's scum like you that ruin everything. Whatever the fuck you are & those damn creeps that fly at night! All of you need to die!".

She flinched at the sound of his booming voice reverberating around the walls, his heavy footsteps getting closer & closer. Her fearful eyes glanced around rapidly, searching for an escape but she was trapped and the man revelled in the look of despair on her face. 

He had to kill her quickly before they caught the attention of others so he readied his sphere and continued his prowling pace.

"There's no way out, kid. You're gonna die now but I have feeling you ain't gonna be missed" he scoffed and looked her up and down, "Useless thieves like you are never missed. I bet there's a whole brood of you somewhere. Ya family do the same shit as you do? Stealin' off of us hard working folks?" he continued with venom. "You're all the fucking same". 

She was breathing frantically now as something stirred within her. 

"No, I, I am not like them". 

The man continued and readied his spear, making it point at the girl's heart, "Good for nothin scum need to be rid of and I'm gonna start with you! You are nothin, all of your kind are nothin compared to us humans" he sneered. 

The words kept digging into her mind as she trembled. Her bloodied legs were barley able to keep her form upright as the emptiness in her stirred. She'd heard all of the vitriol spat out from his mouth from everyone she knew or crossed paths with. 

It had been engrained into her fragile mind and it became something she herself believed. 

That she was a lesser being. 

That she wasn't worth the love & affection like other people were. 

That she was destined to roam though life as nothing but a pest. 

But something had finally snapped within her head as he continued his tirade. 

It was like her subconscious had finally given up and paved the way for that emptiness in her soul to feed off of her negativity. 

It was almost like she had intertwined with the emptiness. 

A few feet away now, the man pushed his arm back with a rabid look on his features whilst getting ready to strike the girl till something distracted his momentum. 

Her eyes changed; the frightened light blues switching to startling red as her pupils became small & the irises practically glowing. 

"What the fuck!". 

It caught the man off guard as she started to move forward rather than backing herself up to the wall like she was doing. The knife in her hand twirled several times as her lips turned upwards into a grin of her own. Her body felt like it had been replenished & though the girl wasn't sure where this bout of energy came from, she was certainly enjoying the way it coursed through her body. 

"I don't think so!" the man bellowed out and thrust the spear towards her. 

The girl jumped up and landed back down on the spear, on his hands to be precise. His eyes shot open and he didn't have a chance to scream as the cold metal of the knife smoothly pierced into his throat. She continued to balance on the spear effortlessly whilst watching the stream of blood pour down his neck as his body twitched. A gurgle came through which only prompted her to twist the knife anticlockwise and ram it in further till the hilt of the weapon was touching the skin of his crimson tainted throat.

A feeling of thrill ran through her as she marvelled at the sight in front of her, a sight that she somehow created. Her heart was racing again though not out of being the hunted, but being the hunter. 

When was the last time she had control like this, when was the last time she got to make someone else suffer; when was the last time she fought back?. 

She couldn't remember which made this moment so much more pleasurable, the glee reflecting in her eyes. 

She pushed the knife in impossibly further before ripping it out and doing a backup flip off of the spear to let the corpse fall to the ground with a heavy thud. 

The blood drenched knife was outstretched in her hand & she glanced at it with curiosity, some of the blood sliding down over her own palm. No longer did the cold seem to prick at her skin, instead a comforting warmth surrounding her like a cocoon. 

Her breathing was steadier than it had been for a long time and she could not pull her gaze away from the sharp object. She wanted to understand what had just occurred but her thought process seemed to be buzzing with waves of adrenaline that she couldn't contain. 

There was a release she had achieved when the knife cut past every ligament & muscle in the man's throat. She could feel the smoothness of the slice as it severed every blood vessel, the burst of the red stream exiting the skin being a show of its own. The terror in his eyes felt like an accomplishment as the desperate chokes from his larynx being slit sounded melodious to her. 

She wanted to do it again. 

The smile never left her subdued face. 

She felt alive

Something she had not felt since she was brought into the world. 

 

A scuffle of shouts in the distance would be the perfect opportunity for her as the noise came into the alleyway. She gripped the weapon firmly, thudding footsteps getting closer, close enough that her wide eyes could identify three more men scrambling into the space, all with weapons. 

"There she is!". 

"Get her!". 

Another one gasped at the sight of the deceased body as they circled and trapped the girl again. 

"L-look at what that bitch did!" he  stammered. 

Her vision switched from each of the men as she was unsure how she was going to get through three of them. They were armed with swords & a gun but for some reason, it didn't deter the girl that much. 

She would simply have to think fast on either escaping or killing them all and again, the chilling sensation when she pictured repeatedly stabbing each of her assailants brought a spark within her. 

"Now!" the man nearest to her shouted out and got ready to pull the trigger but before he could, his weapon dropped to the floor. 

The girl was taken aback and rapidly moved her head everywhere to see where the swift lines of chains had come from. Each of the men now had three of said items lodged into their throat whilst they buckled down onto the floor to join their fallen comrade. 

Only then did she see who was responsible for striking them dead. 

A woman walked towards her from the entrance to the alleyway while disassembling the lengths of chains she had used, the eerie red colour fizzling out in her hands. Her strides were calm, just like the expression on her face. Her dress indicated that money was something she didn't have to think twice about, the material rich and laced with all sorts of valuables. Sharp red eyes stayed on the girl as her gentle yet confidant smile remained on her lips. The two fangs that peeked from beneath were unmistakable whilst the soft steps of her shoes echoed between the small space until she stopped and left a gap between them.

The large wings caught the girl's attention as a gasp left her throat. She had seen shadows & glimpses of those wings but this was the first time they had been in her clear vicinity. The coal black, pale pink & clawed appendages looked regal and demanding. 

They were magnificent. 

She was unsure of what to do and couldn't assume whether the woman was a threat or not. She didn't take any chances & kept her knife gripped and ready to use if need be. 

"Hello, are you alright?". 

The girl didn't respond, simply staring at the woman who had potentially saved her but at the same time, she could also be her killer. 

She took a slow step forward and tucked in her wings & hands to show the girl she wasn't a threat, "I won't hurt you". 

For some reason, she believed her

She believed that this stranger would not do so, the conviction in her strong and low tone wrapping around and drawing her in closer. 

"My name is Remilia, what is your name?". 

Another small step she took as the girl's hand trembled and the knife suddenly felt heavy in her palm, like the weapon itself refused to point at the woman. 

Remilia was met with silence but her smile remained while she was a few feet in front of her now. She could see the push & pull dilemma in the girl's head at whether to use her voice or not. Of course, she knew exactly who she was after keeping tabs on her and her ability but she wanted to earn the girl's trust on her own accord rather than luring her in. 

"I saw what you did. Did you know you could do that?". 

She shook her head, her knife lowering the nearer Remilia got to her. She gave off an incredibly reassuring presence that felt as warm as what she felt earlier; almost feeling like the same thing. 

Remilia replied, "That's understandable, it must have been frightening" and then glanced at the body of the girl's first assailant, "You did what you had to do in order to protect yourself. Don't let the scare you".

By now, she had dropped the knife and Remilia was right in front of her. She towered over but not in a condescending way, more in a protective kind of notion. 

"I, have no name".

Her voice was hoarse as she spoke the first word she had done in years. It was clearly the right move as Remilia was positively grinning with pleasure. 

"I see, well, do you want a name? I can give you one". 

"Y-yes". 

Remilia's smile curled to one side as she assessed her, "Izayoi Sakuya, the flowering night of the sixteenth. Quite appropriate don't you think?" 

The moon gave an extra shining glare down on the duo, as if it had heard Remilia's choice and agreed with the sentimentality of it. It cut through the thicket of dark clouds like a lighthouse would do on a stormy night. 

Shelter, protection, home; that's what the name seemed to offer. 

"Izayoi..Sakuya" she slowly repeated, branding each syllable into her tongue like she could taste how meaningful it appeared. 

"Hm, sounds good doesn't it?" Remilia replied and took in the girl's silver hair and familiar eyes, "It's nice to meet you, Sakuya. Do you like it?". 

"Y-yes". 

The girl shivered as a streak of cold air whipped around them, prompting Remilia to take off  overcoat and slowly offer it to the girl. 

"Do you have anywhere to go? It'll start snowing soon".

"No".

"Well that won't do..".

Sakuya stepped forward, giving Remilia permission to approach her so the woman opened the coat & placed it over her shoulders. Naturally, Sakuya was far too small for the coat but seeing her enveloped by the white material surprised Remilia who refrained from showing it on her expression. Instead, she made sure the girl was covered and smoothed the coat down before letting her hands rest on her shoulders and kneeling down. 

They were just about the same height now for Remilia to make sure Sakuya could heed her words fully, "Why don't you come with me, Sakuya?". 

"You?".

Remilia squeezed her shoulders gently to warm her up quicker & nodded, "That's right. You won't have to worry about having to go through all of this mess just to eat & you won't have to sleep on the streets. I know it had been so difficult for you" she said earnestly as she noticed Sakuya's eyes switching colours again and losing the manic look, "But you won't have to go through all of that if you come with me".

She saw so much potential in the girl, similar to how Patchouli & Koakuma and even Meiling had shown in their craft. Sakuya's untapped time manipulation abilities was something quite special & with time and training, Remilia could help her unlock it to its full capabilities. 

She would definitely be an asset to her faction. 

For Sakuya, she didn't really have any other options, even she knew that. This woman had shown nothing but kindness, going as far as to kill to save her so maybe it was for the best. The way the girl saw it, she was getting a better deal believing she had nothing to offer to Remilia as she wasn't aware of what she could do yet. 

"I can give you everything & anything you need". 

"Why, why would..you?" Sakuya said in a small voice, figuring out how to use her vocals again to convey conversation. 

Remilia tentatively moved a hand up to cup the girl's cheek, "Well, let's just say I have been exactly where you are in the past. Someone gave me a helping hand when I needed it the most & I can't turn away from doing the same. Being different doesn't have to be difficult". 

Sakuya succumbed to Remilia's warmth & felt her eyes getting heavy with comfort & sleep. She never received kindness in the entirety of her life so to experience it now, and from a stranger no less made the whole situation surreal. Everything she was saying seemed to be the icing on the cake, that she knew exactly how Sakuya had lived her life & could sympathise with her. 

"I can help you understand your power". 

"You mean what I did to.." Sakuya replied and faded off as she pointed at the body. 

"That's right. Tell me something, do you want to be safe?". 

"Yes".

"Do you want to be protected?". 

"Yes".

"Do you want to be powerful?".

"I..do".

"Then stay by my side" Remilia said and lifted her other hand up. 

The conviction behind the way the woman uttered those questions & those words could be felt by Sakuya. They obviously meant something more to Remilia and she could see herself getting swept away in her. She wanted all of those things and more, anything to get out of the life she was trapped in now and she had a feeling that the vampire was the woman who could do that for her. 

Picking her hand up that was hidden beneath the coat, Sakuya gently rested it over Remilia's palm.

She smiled in approval, "Good girl. Come with me & I will make that happen".

"Thank you..". 

Sakuya gulped down her gratitude and crumbled into Remilia's arms, the woman holding her close as she let her prolonged tears of misery be released for good. With Remilia, things would be different, she could be different without consequences & that was something she would always be grateful for. 

"Keep me safe". 

"I'll keep you safe".