Chapter 1: Those Who Lurk in the Shadows(Conclusion)
A heart evermore seeking an end to a nightmare, agony residing ever so deep within. No matter so, that will to continue on. Memories of the past, emotions boiling at her core. One connecting through countless waves, rising to the many challenges. Her aim at one ever so high, hatred driving her way, yet a heart evermore soft. Demons all around stepping forward, mustering their courage. That young woman resting her vision upon them, witnessing those devils slowly surrounding her. Calm her vision is upon them, visualizing her way forward. Slightly crouching her stance, a path connecting towards the end of this job.
“No hard feelings, you lot are simply stepping stones...” the young woman widely swinging her sword from left to right, straightening up herself.
That bounty hunter dashing towards her enemies, her eyes evermore calm. That rain showering the field, many engaging in this game of chance that is life. The maiden soon standing alone, that area piling with countless bodies of demons, that endless rain bathing the field. Body parts scattering throughout the area, the dampness of the air keeping the scent lingering around. One battle after the next, each paving her way forward. A certain one from her past, blood plaguing her mind. A heart evermore soft, hatred driving her way onward. Placing away her blade, running her hand through her hair, those eyes expressing some sorrow. A lawless world, the strong surviving, and the weak perishing. This evermore of normalcy, yet something is entirely missing.
“I cannot stop...not until I find him,” the young woman lowering her arms, looking up to the cloudy sky.
Sorrow ever so deep, resolve forever strong. A heart wishing for an end, events from the past binding her soul. Another job coming and going, that maiden moving one step closer towards her goal. Walking onward, a path plaguing with the lifeless bodies of countless. That bounty hunter remaining a legend, one on the level of an overlord. Her desires driving her way onward, feelings from the past guiding her way. Sometime passing, that young woman entering into a bar. Placing her hands inside of her pockets, looking around the establishment. Many devils gathering, an underground place where many think of as their home, that young woman being no different. Along the mouldy walls resting paintings of landscapes, flowers blossoming from end to end. Tables being in the corners, at the front extending a massive counter all around. Many seats for customers, the bartender standing behind it. A ghoul with a bit of a darker complexion, his eyes revealing crimson. Casual his attire is, with his own set of skills on top of that. That ghoul seeing the young woman from afar, gesturing his head towards her. Raising his arm, urging her over to the counter. The maiden nodding in agreement, making her way through the crowd.
“Ah, so the job is taken care of?” the bartender smiling, that maiden taking a seat.
“Naturally, now a drink please,” she looks around the bar.
Those familiar faces, laughters and smiles from everyone. A simple bunch they are, enjoying their time away from the madness outside. A place for those without a home, somewhere anyone can gather, forming bonds. Valuable this place is towards the young woman, so many pleasureful memories. Those days of the past, that young woman entering into the bar. That ghoul offering her a drink. Hatred driving her way, one keeping her affairs to herself. Years upon years of hunting down a certain one, jobs barely leading her anywhere. No matter so, that maiden coming closer with each completion. A heart evermore soft, emotions boiling at her core. Memories never leaving her mind, a nightmare that she must see towards the end.
“The usual?” he folds his arms.
“The usual,” she nods in agreement towards him.
That bartender reaching underneath the counter, taking out a small glass. Placing it down on the counter in front of her, the ghoul turning to his collection of alcohol. Shelves upon shelves of many kinds, trailing his finger through, eventually finding the appropriate one. Devil’s Spring Vodka, no doubt it is not for the feint of heart. That bartender soon returning to the bounty hunter, popping the lid upon it. That young woman resting her vision on the glass, seeing the liquid pouring in. Over those many years, that ghoul learning little about the life of the young woman. No matter so, a valuable friend she is. Those two sharing in joy, no matter how little it is.
“I have no clue how you can withstand something like this,” he speaks, setting the bottle to the side.
That young woman lifting the glass of alcohol, resting her vision upon it. Many troubles lingering inside of her, much of which she will rather put to a rest, even if for a bit. Memories constantly plaguing her mind, blood painting those grounds. One’s armor shining ever so brilliantly, a certain someone within their arms. Time going by, fleeing ever so far. Years upon years, that demon ascending the ranks. Hatred fueling her way, that heart despising every moment of it. That maiden becoming stronger, seeking out the one from her past. Those jobs slowly revealing clues, a nightmare constantly plaguing her mind.
“Alcohol is everyone’s best friend, even my own,” she calmly responds.
Taking a mouthful of the beverage, soon setting down the glass. Resting her vision in the direction of the bartender, gesturing her finger in a circular motioning. A sigh escaping the ghoul, the man shrugging. That young woman having many problems, constantly tackling one case after the next. A certain one eternally inside of her mind, a heart wishing to truly put her torment to an end. Never really speaking about her concerns, those emotions remaining inside of her. A demon rising ever so high, seeking out a level far beyond her standing. That ghoul grabbing the bottle once again, pouring her another glass. Setting the bottle down to the side, thinking on what else he can do. Even her name is a mystery to him, at least that is a start.
“Now then, I suppose we can negotiate a bit,” her expression a bit more serious towards him.
“Negotiate?” he folds his arms in confusion.
That atmosphere growing a bit colder, the surrounding inhabitants glancing in the direction. Those many well in awareness of her reputation, that young woman always doing something that is beneficial to herself. A heart ever so selfish, desires driving her way onward. Questions plaguing her mind, answers ever so little. A negotiation between two, the bartender uncertain on what she may possibly be wishing for. Years upon years of working jobs, tackling the most dangerous of cases. Barely leading anywhere of value, her own needs being of necessity.
“A thirty percent raise, my services are a bit too cheap,” she lifts the glass of alcohol, calmly looking upon it.
“Thirty percent?!” he takes a step back in shock.
One working many jobs, following any sort of lead. One seeking answers of the past, hatred guiding her way. Emotions boiling at her core, risks evermore high. A devil needing to be making a living, until the day she can see this nightmare through to an end. A heart in chains, a soul shackling to the land. Desires reaching onward, that will to oppose taking hold. Glancing to the bartender, her calm eyes upon him. That gaze of hers striking down to his core, his stomach churning. Slightly looking away, that ghoul uncertain on what to do.
“Who knows, if you do not accept. Maybe they might find out how the bounty hunter keeps finding them, and do not think about squealing, you know I never miss my mark,” she faintly smiles.
Those inhabitants of the bar overhearing, evermore grateful that she is not negotiating with them. That man ahead of the young woman deeply thinking, fear building from his depths. That young woman always doing what is beneficial to her, this evermore the way of a devil. Selfish she is to the core, but her heart evermore soft. This being the one divisive line, nonetheless, that ghoul finding himself in a corner. One seeking answers of the past, those jobs becoming more dangerous. The bartender well in awareness of the risks she must take, a sigh escaping him. Reluctantly agreeing to the terms, taking a step towards her.
“Tch...! Ever so forceful as always...” he looks away in frustration.
“I am glad we can see eye to eye now. Who knows, bring in some good jobs, and I just might give a discount,” she winks at him.
Unsettling that whole experience has been, no matter so, that young woman being very capable. Everyone playing a bit of a role, each making the bar quite a place. So many referring to the establishment as their home, jobs keeping it afloat. Scratching the back of his head, that ghoul soon shrugging. A loss this will have been from the beginning, the maiden having her own way of going about business settlements. The area soon calming, everyone returning to their own activities. A smile coming to the face of the bartender, that ghoul chuckling, expecting no less from her.
“Heh, you really are the demon of demons. Truly rotten to the core,” he calmly braces back on the counter.
“Perhaps that is giving me too much credit. Anyway—”
That maiden taking one more mouthful of the Devil’s Spring Vodka, standing up from her seat. Turning from the bartender, running her hand through her hair. A rest evermore brief, questions lingering upon her mind. Answers residing within the past, another job awaiting her. A heart seeking an end to her torment, that image constantly plaguing her mind. Selfish she may be, but holding everyone within the bar ever so dear. A home this is, a place where one can rest their wings. No matter the morrow, even if it is ever so sorrowful, that young woman having so many to return to.
“—You know the usual billing, send it to my account,” she places her hand upon her waist, glancing back to him.
“Hah! You sure ain’t the easy type. By the way, can I finally know your name?” he smiles back at her.
“Maria,” she calmly speaks, walking onward.
Memories plaguing my mind, the NetherWorld evermore twisted. Those that are strong lives, and those that are weak perishes, this being true for as long as I can remember. That one taking away such times of joy, replacing it with sorrow. Ever since that night, I have been taking jobs until I can find ‘him.’ Until then...I will continue on, no matter how much I may loathe the field of battle...
If only we had spoken what was meant that night. If we had, could things have gone differently?