Chapter 1: Return

A calm breeze braced the land, engulfing it in its crisp grip. The sky was dipped in pastel pink, like the blushing cheeks of an embarrassed child. Stars dipping into the vacant spots of darkness between the pink and lonely clouds. Underneath this peaceful haven sat a young, beautiful girl, her legs dangling from the edge of a small cliff. Thin, watery waves crashed against the chest of the cliff below her. Mist spraying through the air, dancing with the breeze leaving behind the smell of salt and iron. She sat silently, gazing up to stars. Her long silver hair barely being contained in a wild ponytail. Her slim fingers peeking from beneath the faded black cloak covering her body, clinging to to the damp grass.

The youngling let out steady breath, her amber eyes surveying the infinite sea of pink above her. There was longing in those eyes, for something out of her reach. Slowly she raised her body upright, a blanket of silver dancing behind her head as she turned away from the Oceanside cliff. There, lodged between the damp grass and dirt was a blade. Its body as clear as ice and just as cold. Frost formed up and down the metal. On its hilt, etched in white marks read ‘The Rogue’. She paused in front of the icy blade, grabbing it from its home in the ground. Her eyes were no full of that peaceful longing. They were distant and cold, almost vacant. Quickly she slid the blade into a sheath on her waist and through a hood over her face. Two amber circles peered through the darkness under the cloak. The huntress was on the move.

               ***

The nearby city was bouncing, streaming with life at every corner. Buildings covered in neon lights were overflowing with people at their doors. Shady figures hid their faces in the shadow of alleyways while doing their corrupt business, away from the idle eyes of those who might wish to do them harm. Quietly she entered the city, drawing no attention to herself. Just a lowly traveler, looking or shelter from the cold night to come. Signs reading ‘BAR’ and ‘HOTEL’ seemed to lace the streets at every turn, this haven seemed to be a hub for those only passing through. The youngling suddenly stopped in front of rather questionable building. Its exterior was covered in red brick, graffiti clothing its naked walls. A hanger in the window housed a rather large ‘OPEN’ sign. Outside of the front door stood a rather large person. It was a man, but it was not human at all. His skin was a pale shade of sky blue, two deep slits lay on both his left and right cheeks. There were horns where the hair on his head should sleep and eh wore a rather grim look upon his grunge face. The man began to survey the young huntress as she made her way towards him.

“Back so soon” the horned man asked with discontent.

The youngling spoke not a single word.

He scoffed “She’s been waiting fer ya, get yer ass in there”.

As he moved aside to let her pass he grabbed her by the shoulder tightly and whirled her around.

“Don’t think just cause yer supposed to be some prodigy that you can get away with disrespecting your superiors, ya little bitch” he spat out.

The young huntress yanked away from his grip quickly, still uttering not a single word. She steadily made her way through the withered door. Leaving the horned man with a sullied look on his face. The inside of the building was dark and damp. Creatures of the same mold as the man outside were scattered at every table. Some were regular humans like the huntress, others had anomalies of every kind. Horns, claws, fur, fangs, every creature from every bedtime story could be found in this room. She made her way to an empty bar towards the back of the building. She took a seat on one the empty, worn out stools. Behind the counter danced a woman. She had Carmel skin that smelled like fresh honey and eyes like fire. Her hair was tangled in thin, long silver dreadlocks that tickled her spine. Her jeans and tank top hugged her body tightly, showing off her figure.

“Dancing without any music again, people are going to start thinking you’re crazy” the youngling said in a soft angelic voice.

The young dancer whirled around, her hair flying in every direction. She flashed a perfect smile towards the huntress as she perched herself on top on the bar by her hands.

“Well all the best people are, aren’t they Bell” she inquired with a curious voice. “Now take your hood off and let me see that adorable face!”

Bella let a small but playful laugh escape from her lips as she lifted the hood from her face. The dancing beauty clapped her hands together happily as she whirled around the bar. Tightly she embraced her friend, the once thick air of the building was now lighter and freer.

“Now, lemme get a good look at you” she said while surveying Bella.

“People are starting to stare Harley” Bella whispered worryingly.

“Well let ‘em. I haven’t seen you in who knows how long, you’re always on the move Bell!”

Bella smiled softly “I know and I’m sorry I haven’t been back in a while. Life of a huntress, always on the move, always hunting”.

Harley bounced back behind the bar “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You better have a good excuse for gone so long loser. You’re all she’s been talking about the past few weeks, go and see her hun”

Bella gently rested her cheek on her fist. Her amber eyes were soft and full of longing again. “Mother” she whispered.

***

She had forgotten how beautiful the unseen places of this withered building could be. The walls in the hallway were decorated with canvases of past Huntress. Some dating back hundreds of years before her time. Bella always admired this simplicity, beauty and history of this building. Unlike the bar area, this back way was fresh and the air smelled of roses and iron. With its black walls decorated at inch the young huntress could not help but smirk a little. Suddenly she happened upon a plain white door. She took a deep breath and gripped the crystal knob by its cold neck.

“I’ve returned” she spoke, her words dripping with anxiety.

She slowly slipped into the room. It was gorgeous. The walls dripped in velvet paint, three wide windows peered out into the stomach of the city as black curtains laced their limbs so elegantly. The floor was solid marble, the sound of Bella’s footsteps echoed through it and off of the walls. Large book cases laced around the room, so full of history and stories of the past, a legacy. In the center of the room stood a rather large, oaky desk. Open books and papers scattered about. Behind the burly desk sat a woman. She wasn’t young, but not old either. Her skin was as smooth as silk, white as snow. Her lips were the perfect shade of light purple and her eyes were soft and ageless. Her white hair dropped just below her sharp jawline in a waves. She was intoxicatingly beautiful. Bella itched closer to the desk.

“Mother” she asked curiously, the anxiety still rolling from her tongue.

The resemblance between the two of them was uncanny, they were almost like sisters if one didn’t know any better. The woman slowly stood up from her chair, unlocking her eyes from the whirlwind on her desk. Hands behind her back, an elegant and soundless step, she paced toward Bella. She quickly lifted her spotless hands and embraced the young girl standing before her. Tears began to stream down her cheeks and onto Bella’s cloak.

“I was beginning to think you’d been killed” she spoke softly. Her hands running through the younglings’ hair.

“I- I’m sorry I didn’t respond to the any of the letters… I just, well I-”

“You needed to do it on your own, I know… So much like your father, always running off at the first sight of adventure”

The woman stepped back, her crystal blue eyes surveying the girl in front of her. With a smile full of grace and joy she spoke “My god how you’ve grown Isabella, my little cub”

“It’s good to be home, mother” Bella spoke through her rose cheeks.

©Jawan Herron

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