SCENE 13 – Black Fairy

Once more, Clare finds herself in the dreariness of the stretching hallway – the lifeless, pulverized father lying in the middle of it all. A soft wind caresses her cheeks.

She goes to checks the rooms.

Empty – a bedroom of two ruffled beds.

Empty – an enclosed storeroom of food inventory where the aroma of spices and herbs arouse her. But there's something she has to do first.

Clare comes to a bedroom; a naked woman lies limp, bound and gagged in ragged cloth atop the wide bed. The swollen bruising leaves the woman' pale skin in douses of numbed purple and aching red. Mama..

The stench of sweat lingers in the air.

As Clare comes closer, she notices the mother's hazel eyes staring to a distant space past her.

No..

Refusing to believe it, Clare raises a finger to her mouth to the mother in a silent "shh." She goes to shred the mother's bonds with all the welling rage in her own hands.

Now the bonds are in little soft tatters.

The mother does not move at all - her skin is as cold to the touch as the solemn air.

For the longest time does Clare stay by the mother's side, unwavering, before she closes the mother's empty eyes for her grace.

And Clare walks out of the room back into the hallway.

Again, the father lies there in the middle, broken.

Clare goes by the father's side – lifts him up in her arms, and brings him over to the mother lying still on the bed, in the bedroom. And once more, they are with each other's side.

She heads out back into the hallway. There's the creak of a door swinging shut somewhere. Is it the children, coming back in from curiosity? It's not safe here – it's not safe here, for they would come and see, and what they will see – there in the bedroom

is their love shattered cold.

But the creak does not come from the laundry room. It comes from the other end. The yoki in the air is overbearing now, and Clare is on the verge of a raw insanity.

She grasps her greatsword in both her determined hands, and holds herself in a striking stance – her sword angled and ready to slash apart that fucker.

She calms her breathing down to listen.

Stifled footsteps, thumbing on the ground.

Sniffing.

She steadies her footing against the ground.

Stifled footsteps, coming closer

and

closer.

A man in brown woolen clothes walks through the way to show himself on the other end. He hesitantly turns, seemingly trying to peer to the figure in darkness who just stands there. He looks familiar, for some reason.

"Who goes there?"

Clare recognizes the father's voice.

"Hello?"

Then he sees the two glints of yellow in the darkness of the hallway, and his eyes widen-

Clare lunges, bringing the greatsword up to its head.

The sword is in the air, and all's right with the world.

Its neck is wide open, and all's right with the world.

A relief in her, for all's right with the world.

Her sword does not meet the neck, but the blade of its longsword just short from its certain death. Then it reaches out a hand so far out to envelop her abdomen in tightening flesh.

It squeezes.

It hurts.

Where a scream of pain would follow, comes only a silent gasp out her mouth for it chokes her so. She feels her rib cage break and snap within and her own stomach contort.

The greatsword falls out of her grip.

It hurts to just breathe. Air rattles in and out of her like a saw and the black threatens to take all her sight and feeling away. Spots are dancing in the air in their own pretty patterns.

It really hurts.

With what will she has left, Clare tries to move her arms, her hands to do something of it. She claws at the eldritch flesh – the hand and arm inhumanly contorted and the purple veins bulging along the skin. Her fingernails dig under and manage to tear some of its humanly skin.

Red blood spurts out from the gashes she makes.

Then something pops inside her, and the last ounces of her breath leak away. How do I.. stop it..

Clare's last struggle comes to a stilted calm.

The Yoma bashes her body against the walls, and gives her a hard kick to her stomach for good measure.

A straining hunger in its stomach, after all the things to be done in the morning. There's three kids left to eat. How next will it come to enjoy them in the kitchen?

It storms down the hallway to the end, into the laundry place. Then it goes to the closed pantry door, trying to sniff more of their meaty scent. Strange. Somehow they don't smell so much. Even more strange is the lack of the frightened whimpering they give.

Awwe. Their daddy is just crying already inside. A tear streaks down from its eye. Don't worry. You gonna be with your kids soon.

It knocks on the door. "Little pigs. Little pigs. Let me come in."

Silence.

"Not by the hair on your chinny chin-chin?"

It grasps the door handle.

"Well then. I huff. I puff. I'll blow your house in."

It jerks the door open, and there are no more kids blinks. No more kids. They can't have gone off like-

Shredded cloth litters the floor in the pantry. Where'd they run off to? It takes a peer around, sniffing the wondrous smells in. Now it's mad.

"Clarice! Jean! Come out!" The father's commanding voice out the Yoma's mouth. "I won't stand for this kind of malarkey in my house!"

The faint sound of leaves and branches rustling along the wind outside. Perhaps a change of voice would do better. The Yoma contorts its vocal cords in its throat.

"Nothing's going to harm you.." the mother's sweet voice goes, "not while I'm around."

Another sniff for a whiff of that delicacy in the air, and it turns to the door beside where the outside light creaks in on the edges.

Then it lays a hand on the door – twists the handle and pushes the way open to see the outside sun now shining on the bare backyard. An ashen tree roots firm there by the corner – its dark branches looming, swaying.

The Yoma looks over aside to the other neighbouring dwellings – the backyards are empty. Then to the front, where the alleyway is and no one would dare to traverse there in such the time.

The ashen tree. Its eyes waver and loom there at its thick, wrinkled trunk. It sniffs. Despite the fresh and wavering air, the scent is very concentrated there.

Yes.

It can only imagine so much at this point, how it would best enjoy them for keeping its stomach so empty for so long. Shall it take all the children in a hungry rush – all in a thrash of bites? Or savour all their taste in its mouth, piece by piece.

But really, there is no time. It must hurry along to find them, quick. The Claymore will be quick to catch on now that it let that woman have it. It feels this longsword on the verge of shattering into shards with two, three or four hard strikes or parries. Such a fine sword for a fine Vizier at this too. Shame.

Slowly the predator shuffles itself along the grass, to the tree.

It could imagine them so vividly, that compelling combination of sourness, bitterness and sweetness on its lips - especially the juicy livers with some fava beans and a nice chianti. The whimpers of the wind, still blowing ever on, only masks their whimpers behind the trunk. There's some distant chattering of the people.

The Yoma swings around, and there is nothing there but the wrinkled wood that still bears their scent.

Something inside says to reach out for the sword now. So it does, and it can see from the blur of movement the claymore that dares to thrust, down from the grey skies. And it just swipes away the incoming claymore to send the would-be warrior to a hard tumble against the brushing grasses.

Her smooth platinum hair lays out in a mess and the claymore by her side.

The Yoma hauls the longsword in the air down to the woman's belly- she rolls herself out the way and dives for her claymore-

It bashes the side of her head with the blade's flat. The longsword wobbles left and right. A red spot spreads out her skull, dabbing down her platinum hair.

Looking at the fine gilded blade, little cracks showing close to the hilt, it decides that the longsword has enough. The last thing the longsword does as a weapon before shattering in two is severing the Claymore's calves.

The hunger is all very much now, the burning inside like acid for it does have nothing inside its own belly. It considers the pitiful thing who could only wince weakly here and there. But to taste the likes of her is to taste its own self. How disgusting.

Then the Yoma hears the murmurs of a gathering crowd somewhere around. Its stomach squeals in delight – a low rumbling inside.

/...

"What's happening over there?" and every variant of this question comes out the mouths of the gathering villagers. This it hears very well and it is in the uncertain ambiguity that it may come to shine its brightest.

It takes its steps -

past the empty pantry,

past the man and woman reunited in the bedroom,

past Clare.

The Yoma twists the handle of the door to outside, pushes it open, and sees the many onlooking faces of people who stand so warily, away enough from this house to keep from their fears, yet close enough to satisfy their curiosities.

And all of these eyes stare on.

It stumbles over like its seen wonders - ragged steps that barely hold their grasp on the dirt. The people shuffle back as it goes, making a path of space.

"Luc!"

A memory arouses inside; that is its name, this man's name. It looks around with unfocused eyes, trying find who's calling.

A woman (Alessa, her name is) rushes out from amongst the crowd. This guy's sister. All the tension has her soft face curled in

"Luc..!" Alessa goes. She clasps her arms around it in a tight hug.

"I'm fine.. is all right now."

Inside, its fragmentary recollection of memories tells it that in times of trouble, Alessa would be the first the children would look to. The kids don't seem to be anywhere nearby.

"Where's.. my Clarice? Where's Jean?" it goes. "Are they safe with you?"

Alessa lets go.

"They're.." A look of hesitation on her – she's noticing something. "You all right? What happened there?"

A beat.

"I'm.. I.. that woman just.. she's fighting that horrid beast.. saved me and my children."

A beat – she stares on in a bit of disbelief.

"The kids, your kids and their friend, they were running–" Her eyes waver- "running over before that Claymore came.. dear, they're so frightened.."

"Where's my children?" it goes.

The crowding people, overwhelmed, decides to send in the cavalry for some support. Armoured spearmen slowly go to approach the home's entrance – spears ready to jab.

"Alessa. I gotta see if Clarice, Jean an' the other boy are all right, now where are they?"

She looks on the mixture of staining purple and red blood on it. "They're waiting- wait, what's the matter?"

Its face is a sort of madness, on the verge of losing it to the hunger and the inner screams of all the memories it took. The Yoma tries to hold it down, or at least pass it off as a sign of great distress. "I'm sorry. I just want to be sure my little darlings are well." It lets out some tears from its eyes.

"Okay." Alessa notions to follow her.

"No," it goes. "I don't.. I just."

"I'll get them for you then," Alessa goes. "Don't you worry." A peck on its cheek before she heads on off.

The Yoma lets out a half smile in her wake as it watches on the hectic.

A young boy closeby has his head bowed low in a sort of prayer, and his mother joins him too. Others stare at the spectacle, unable to frame or put it into any proportion. It watches on, satisfied.

Gurgle.

Eventually, Alessa comes – the young Clarice, Jean and Roelof pacing along behind.

"Papa?" Clarice goes.

It looks upon them with the same sentimentality to its eyes as when they were born, raised and loved, through and through the lives they had. All these memories flash by through its mind – the memories of their parents inside saying their last goodbyes.

"Papa!" Clarice rushes along past Alessa – Jean follows her so.

The soldiers emerge from the blackness of the house. "She's hurt! Someone get us a healer – the Claymore's hurt!"

Clarice's joyful run comes to a halting slow as she begins to notice the purple splattered all over it, and the horrid, twisted grimaces of its face as its eyes show flickers of the monstrous yellow.

The Yoma just snaps, and the handsome, respectable 'Luc' tears out of the clothing – turning back to the grotesque form of its original self. It is a sort of madness, this is, as it goes to up Clarice in its arms by its chest.

Screams from the crowd, from Clarice, Jean and Alessa, serve only to feed its excitement.

Its other arm extends out, enveloping the standing Jean in the grasp.

Watching all of this, the hapless Roelof tries to run, as fast away from the nightmarish monster as his little legs can.

Pruned skin splits open on the Yoma's back – a mass of raw, tender flesh vaguely resembling a hand shoots over to the running Roelof, enveloping him also, and drags him back against the ground as the ever-scabbing flesh retracts back into its back.

"No!"

/

Clare's mind hovers in an endless abyss.

No light. No sound. No feeling.

Only an infinite and silent void.

Softness.

Weightlessness.

Through the emptiness of space, Clare tries to peer and make something, anything out. There is nothing.

You cannot rest yet, Clare.

She stirs.

Wake up, Clare.

why?

Memories come and flash through her mind – all too fast to be comprehensible, too overwhelmingly fast. But there is this one common feeling, she can feel, they all share

hope

Then the memories are gone, and in their wake, a trail of red swirling.

Suddenly, the pain erupts.

In the lonely, abandoned depths of the hallway, her heart still beats on. But she is weak, so weak, and there is no reason to even try now. Her breathing is so shallow in her crippled lungs, she is almost motionless. The ripped grey poncho covers her, a blanket for the final sleep.

Screaming, those screaming outside, and the inhuman screeches of the Yoma.

The crippled Clare finds a last reservoir of strength, and tries to rise up. She falls over. Her breaths painfully come in and out her crushed lungs, as whimpers. She tries again, this time helping herself to the adjacent wall, and manages a pathetic kneeling.

Clare reaches for the claymore, and leans against it as a crutch, bringing herself to a stand. She limps, jabbing the claymore every step or so on the floor, her joints shaking from exertion. It is a strain, seeing, as the darkness looms always at the edges of her vision – nothing around feels real but a nightmarish experience.

She falls, hard – the light of the outside is just within her reach. Spots dance now in the ether of her eyes. As she lies, her lungs and heart on the verge of exploding, an eerie resignation comes over her mind, and feelings of eternal peace..

Clare fights.

Opening her mouth wide and tipping back her head, Clare manages the deepest breaths she could manage – each breath burning less than the last.

Everything is clear.

Clare finds her way to the light, and she steps into the outside. A line of soldiers strategically positioned surrounding the Yoma, spears pointed to Clare, confused. People huddled by each other, looking in disbelief.

"Get away from them you bitch!" Clare goes, readying her claymore with a shaking grasp.

"..is that you? Clare? Is it?" the Yoma goes, fondly remembering her memories as it clutches the shielding children uncomfortably tighter. "What are you going to do about it?"

A finger shoots out the forearm holding young Jean in front, snakes around his throat and bends his neck past its natural limit.

Clarice cries.

Lying helpless by the side, Alessa could only watch on – her fleshy stumps of forearms bleeding out red.

"No.." Clare goes. "Don't.." She feels herself drowning, a waterfall roaring inside her ears. Her heart is madly pumping amounts of blood at a rate far beyond the human norm, and she stands in a paralysed hesitation.

"Why?" It laughs. "You have nothing. Nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do, with all your strength."

"DIE!" One of the soldiers just snap, unable to take it any more. He comes in a rush, thrusting the entire length of his spear against it-

The Yoma shoves Jean's body against the soldier's blow – spear shoving through Jean's stomach – and pushes the soldier flying outward, caveening to the rock wall of a house, and crashes down to the dusty ground along with the rocky debris.

The spear still juts out from Jean.

The other soldiers look into the Yoma's face, every inch of its malice. It is far beyond what they can manage, far beyond any hint of humanity whatsoever. Their spears lose the firm steadiness of duty, and they begin to shake.

"Please.." Alessa groans, on the verge of losing it. "Don't punish the children. Punish me.."

Looking down to the dying woman, it bares all its glistening teeth in a grin. "I am." Its finger snakes around, in the midst of a decision. Then it goes to poor Roelof, who hangs on from its back.

"I'm.. I.. I.. bad.. dreams.."

It's okay to be afraid.

The finger punctures his neck through; a fountain of red blood spurts out in spades, and the Yoma reaches out its tongue from its mouth, and goes to drink the sweet, bitter taste that pours.

Alessa winces.

Roelof's face turns to a lifeless pale.

"Sweet.. sweet.. why should I hide who I am? I am a being, of simple taste. I enjoy watching you die, and your taste, and I enjoy the hate and pain and sadness I give you sorry excuses of life, especially right now. Pathetic." It focuses on sad, tearing Clarice in its arms. "This is why I can't stop.. being a monster!"

Clare hurls herself, throwing every fibre of her being against the Yoma. So fast is she that she seems but a speck of movement, far past what the Yoma could anticipate. Her claymore embeds itself partway in its thick neck – Clare's hands clasped onto the handle far harder than ever. She jerks.

Clarice tumbles to the ground out of the Yoma's frantic grip as its own purple blood jets out from the ruptured arteries of its neck.

A supernatural anger takes over Clare. She yanks back hard, putting the Yoma off balance and carving in more of its flesh. Its legs push back violently, buckling in.

The Yoma becomes frantic – it tries growing out arms to stop her, clutch on her, each arm more vague and tenderly raw than the last.

Clare never lets go. She pulls the Yoma back onto its heels – forces the sword through. All of its tremendous weight is hanging on her greatsword now, and she just keeps pushing.

Finally, the Yoma's body goes completely limp.

Her own self is all on its excruciating limit, about to explode, implode, whichever way her body feels to collapse.

Clare approaches the stunned Clarice with a frenzied fever, goes to hold her in her arms. "It's all right now. I gonna.. Come on.. look at your face, is all dirty with the blood – I'm gonna, take to see your mama, your papa-"