Two Strangers And A Truce

The mysterious girl from the train saunters alone on a moonlit path, evoking a folded cloak from inside an object any primitive being would notice as too puny to hold something so big; its a typical travel storage device for most households but is perfect for those who have no home to go to, like her, because they will always have a place to put their possessions whenever its convenient.

She twirls in the bi-colored fabric, pleased with how it billows around her body like a ball gown. During the day, she habitually inverts it, so the white is on the outside, but on a night like this, she leaves it red.

This cloak once belonged to someone special from her past, and though it physically pains her to revisit those memories, this garment is the only exception to her no-baggage rule. But she can deny how calming it is to wear it.

Though its risky to walk around in attire shes known for on the job, the streets are empty, and only forgettable people with no lives bother to peek outside their windows at night out of boredom. At least, thats how the world works for someone like her.

In the distance, the homes and facilities are made for giant individuals, which tells her shes near her dormitory. If only she had gotten here sooner, the walk wouldn have to be so long.

Something vibrates from inside her dress; somebody from headquarters is likely wondering why shes arrived in the city a day early.

The girl halts in front of an alley to grope through her clothes for the cell, lifting her dress when a colossal shadow materializes behind her.

She gazes between her legs as two huge and warty feet stop a yard away.

”Ah, the infamous Scarlet Maiden; what a pleasure to finally meet you. ”

The girl straightens her back to spin around, allowing the phone to vibrate until the caller lays off.

She parrots his relaxed posture to ask, ”Why are you here, Aari? Your kind isn allowed on these grounds. ”

”You don remember me? ” It says through misshapen teeth.

”I think Id remember someone this ugly. ”

The monsters sonorous laugh rattles her bones.

She doesn recall conversing with any creatures of Vitia like him. The girl has no friends and trusts no one, especially not her dark overlord.

”Did we meet before the great overtaking of Deura? Thats the only time Ive seen an abundance of your kind rally over something. ”

”I am your former weapon, and former master. ”

”Do you have a date and time I allegedly agreed to share a bond with you? ”

”I have no exact date. ”

The girl has witnessed firsthand when a mage is sent to the Vitian dimension after death; they become an Aari, tortured for eternity by the element they ruled over in life. The classification of torture a mage receives is decided based on their zodiac sign element; water, earth, air, and fire.

From the scorch marks on the eyes and hands of the creature, she concludes he used to be a fire mage.

”How long has it been since you died? ”

”About ten years ago. Around the time the church of night recruited you. ”

Shes only ever held two weapons in her life, and one of them is confirmed dead. The girl manipulates the fire element, so naturally, her weapon would also be fire aligned.

”Leo or Sagittarius? ”

”You don suppose I could be an Aries? ”

”Everyone knows you can forge a weapon and master body with the same zodiac sign. You claim to know so much about me; you should know mine. ”

”Calm down; I was only pulling your leg. ”

”Answer the question. ”

”You know the rules, only the living can possess those celestial powers, and as you can see, I am dead. So, does your question need an answer? ”

”Ive never bonded with a Leo; thats why Im asking. ”

”Why is that? Are they too overbearing for you? ”

”Well, yeah, but many of them turn out to be furries. ”

”…Im sure other types don appreciate being around someone so closed-minded either. ”

From witnessing the torture of mages in that dimension, the girl deems this Aari lucky hot coals weren placed on his genitals, or she likely wouldve.

”Why bother following me here? Its pointless to reconnect when it doesn serve a purpose. ”

”You sent me head first into the afterlife when you didn want me anymore. ”

”Killing someone who bonded with me out of boredom? Thats not like me; youve got the wrong girl. ”

The creature frowns disdainfully, ”You might as well have. ”

”Tell me who you are, and stop beating around the bush! ”

”Before that man took you away from the sun god Aedyn and I, you could transform into the spitting image of your very great grandfather- ”

”Wait, you
e saying I was kidnapped? If you believe that, then why would you blame the one who got kidnapped for abandoning you? It was out of my control. ”

”Its rude to keep ignoring me while Im talking, kid! ” The Aari snarls, ”Save the questions until after I finish- ”

”Oh! I remember now! You
e Dylos, the weapon that my mom- ”

”Passed down to you just before she died? Yes. ” The monster finishes exasperatedly. ”I was also related to you… ”

”Really? Even if you didn get your face burnt off, your eyes are too close together to ever look as beautiful as my mother, so you must be on dads side. Are you sure you
e not like a twice-removed cousin to my grandma or something? ”

”I died when I was forty-three; Im not that old! ”

”Your skin says otherwise. ”

”I didn come here to be ridiculed by a child. ”

”Then what did you come here for? ”

”I came here to settle some unfinished business. ”

”We can settle this later when the odds are fair for both of us, and I don have to walk a couple more miles to my dorm. ”

The girl turns her back on the Aari, reaching into her bra.

e a shadow of what you couldve been, Raegan, and all over a Ulinae. ” The beast taunts, ”Had you stayed where you belonged- ”

Clenching daggers in her fist, Rae draws them out from her capsule to fling them in the beasts direction, anticipating it to dodge.

Dylos does as she predicts, and Raegan charges towards him with the full force of her body behind a punch.

Instead of landing on Dylos, he leaps over her, letting Raegans fist smash into the wall of another building. The wall crumbles to the ground along with the rest of the building.

Raegan runs into the alleyway to evade the falling debris, tripping over something small and furry.

She scrapes her knee on the way down and glances back to notice a black cat with a peculiar necklace around its neck.

From beyond where their location, the building she punched finally gives way to gravity and plunges toward her and the cat.

Without wasting a moment, she scoops the cat into her arms and sprints at the speed of sound away from the damage.

Her feet skid to a stop once the impact from the building finally hits.

The girl places a hand on her chest, anticipating being out of breath from the strain on her stamina. She drops onto her knees, bewildered by the speed she never knew she had. The cat squirms uncomfortably in her arms, so she slackens her grasp on the animal to let it calm down.

”Sorry if that was too tight, I was scared we weren gonna get out of there. ” She says, observing the strange necklace around its neck. ”Whats a cute kitty like you doing with something this expensive? Did you steal it? ”

The cat moves its head back in a warning stance, more characteristic of a bipedal mammal than a cat, but the girl chooses to ignore this and pet its head.

”Relax, I only want to look at it. ”

Her fingers brush against the broach around the cats neck, sending a sharp pain up her arm as the jewelry shoots a beacon into the sky.

The cat raises its paw to swipe at her cheek, and Raegan yelps, ”Ow! That hurts you stupid cat! ”

The cat hops from her arms onto the ground, ”Don touch what doesn belong to you, and I won have to do it again. ”

The cat is taken aback by the girls whimpering, which quickly turns into a crying fit. He sits down, waiting for her to finish.

More time passes, and the crying doesn die as he had hoped.

”…Please stop crying; this is getting awkward. ”

The girl wipes her face with her sleeves and continues whining with puffy eyes, ”So you
e a mage? A Leo, I bet. Thats just great, and I was talking in my baby voice to a creepy old man disguised as a cute kitty. ”

”Im not a creepy old man! ” The cat hisses, ”I have questions I need you to answer.

”I think its bleeding. Is it bleeding? ”

”Don be such a baby; its just a scratch. Walk it off. ”

”You don have to be so mean. If you were a mage all along, you couldve told me not to touch it instead of assaulting me. ”

The mage purrs and sniffs at her dress, succumbing to the natural behaviors of the animal he appears to be.

”Hey, what are you doing!? ”

The mage stiffens, embarrassed by what hes doing and quickly catches himself before letting out another meow.

”Sorry, Ive been in this form for a while. ”

”And thats supposed to justify your perverted behavior? ”

”I guess youve never been around many Leos before, huh… ”

”I don see what that has to do with anything. ”

”New students aren supposed to be inside the city yet. Whyd you arrive early, and what were you doing with that demon? ” The mage thumps its front paw against the ground, ”Explain yourself. ”

Reagan suddenly feels compelled to give some explanation, so she creates a lie, ”I came here early to explore and see what its like here without the crowds of other newbies like me getting in the way. That demon attacked me out of nowhere, so I don know where it came from. ”

The felines gaze lingers on the girl for a long stretch of silence, seemingly unconvinced by her answer.

”What? ” Reagan shifts uncomfortably under his stare, ”Im telling the truth, hand to the order and all that. ”

The cat pads toward her cautiously, ”How did you make the pendant glow like that? ”

Rae shrugs, ”Beats me; I don know anything about magic. ”

The mages eyes shrink into slits, ”I saw you speak Vitian with that demon and whip out that cloak from your space capsule, so thats a lie. Why don you stop pretending to be a clueless freshman and tell me who you really are? ”

e getting on my nerves… ”

”That isn an answer. ”

”Why don you reveal yourself and make me? ” Raegan grins suggestively, ”You scared? ”

”Im sure Ill get a lot more out of you if I report your suspicious behavior to the authorities. ”

Reagan bats her lashes at him, ”Aren you gonna stop me from running away? ”

”Where would you run to? You have no key to enter your apartment. ”

The girl pauses, realizing he has a point and that all this couldve been avoided had she waited as her team advised.

”Then can you escort me to wherever you
e going? Please, that demon is still out there, and I don want to be left alone. ”

”Why are you talking like that? ” The cat tilts its head. ”Do you need a moment to catch your breath? ”

Reagan falls back against the wall dramatically, ”…Maybe you
e right; I think I might need medical attention. ”

”From what, the scratch I gave you? ”

”Infection can be fatal if left untreated, you know! Would you really leave me to tend to the wound you inflicted on my own - ”

”Stop. Just stop. ” The cat makes a sound that resembles a laugh, ”I don know if I should be offended you think this is enough to seduce me or feel sorry that you think thats what flirting is. Im curious, who has this worked for? ”

Raegan hides her reddened face in her arms, ”…Leave me alone. ”

”No, I really wanna know. You were so confident; this mustve worked on somebody. ”

”…Pedo teachers mostly, ” The girl says carelessly, ”perverted priests, and it sort of worked on this child abductor. ”

”Howd you meet those types of people, freshmeat? ”

Raegan pulls her cloak tightly around herself with a small smile, ”Flirting with danger has its consequences. ”

”Well, as adorable as that attempt was, I still have to report you. ”

”Fine, I guess. ” She rises to her feet, ”All I did was speak to a demon. ”

”And destroy city property. ” The cat lectures. ”People could be seriously injured because of your recklessness; take responsibility for your actions. ”

”…Why couldn you have blinked when it happened? ” Raegan groans under her breath.

e saying youd have let someone else take the blame if I wasn there? ”

”…Um, wow, it sure is late. ” Reagan yawns loudly, ”Since its only a matter of time before you use up all your energy maintaining that form, you can use my cloak to cover yourself. ”

”I don think a cloak that pretty deserves to be used like that. Ill be fine with the clothes I have at home. ”

”Suit yourself, then. ” Raegan shrugs the clothes back on.

”Raegan, give me that necklace. Now! ” Dylos says from above.

Raegan backs away to examine the rooftop, ”Its all yours. Im sure the cat doesn mind. ”

”Im not a cat, and I do mind! Who do you think you-? ”

”Dude, Its just a stupid necklace. ” Rae whispers to the cat, ”You
e really risking your life for a hunk of jewelry you can buy at the thrift store? ”

”This isn just a hunk of metal. ”

”The mage is right, Raegan. ” Dylos growls, ”That pendant is more valuable than the inheritance of ten kings; its a holy relic. ”

Reagan rolls her eyes, ”Okay? I really didn ask for a history lesson… ”

Both Dylos and the cat groan exhaustedly.

”Look, Dylos, Im too tired to listen to another long speech. I need my beauty sleep. ”

Dylos jumps down in front of Raegan before she can get a running start and boxes her and the cat in, ”Did you forget already? We still have unfinished business. ”

Raegan holds the cat out in front of her,

”You want this necklace, right? If you postpone whatever act of vengeance you have for me, you can have it. ”

”Its not yours to give! ” The cat hisses at her.

”Quiet! Im trying to negotiate a temporary truce, ” She shakes the cat until its head spins, ”Whatever that thing is, its not worth risking your life over. ”

”You wouldn be saying that if you bothered to pay attention in history class. ” The cat squints against a worsening headache. ”What makes you think he won take it and kill us anyway? ”

”I don care if that thing shoots lasers! People can die, objects can , and you
e supposed to let the dangerous criminal with a gun take your stuff to keep from getting popped in the skull. ”

”This is too important to lose. My parents spent their lives on this; I can let it go to waste! ”

e an idiot! ” She says, then turns to Dylos, ”Will you let us live if I give this to you? ”

Dylos laughs, ”No. ”

She tugs the dizzy mage against her chest and sidesteps out of Dyloss reach, ”Well, Im taking it anyways, seeya sucker! ”

”Raegan! ” Dylos roars.

”Dumb ass! ” She shouts over her shoulder.

”Stop taunting him, ” The cat scolds weakly, ”hes big enough to crush your head in his hands. ”

”Ill be alright. You don look so good, though. ” Rae smiles spitefully, ”Are you okay? ”

”You shook the hell out of me! ” The cat hisses. ”How could I be okay? I might have a concussion. ”

”Don be such a baby, ” She boops his nose, ”youll survive. ”

He pushes her hand away with a paw, ”…Stop poking me; I feel sick. ”

”Apologize. ”

”…For what? ” The mage rubs at his eyes.

”What else? You called me a baby for crying after scratching me, and you
e being a drama queen over a little shake. ”

”That wasn just a little shake; that was attempted manslaughter. That doesn compare to a scratch. ”

”Actually, studies show that emotional scarring lasts a lifetime. ”

The cat sighs and looks up at her with weary disapproval ”You know, you
e only proving my point by holding grudges over trivial things. ”

Rae turns beet red in the face, ”…Shut up. ”

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