Episode V: Black Blood, Pt.1

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A storm of memories stripped Syreene stupor. As Narus fumbled for his glasses, Syreene continued to stretch the gap between them further. He looked up to her, addressing her hostility, "Syreene, please, allow me explain." Cloaked behind the image of a holy-man, set to sweep his congregation into the same fate as those innocent village people. The thought brought tears streaming down her cheeks, her body shirking back as Narus tried to confront her. His voice broke, calling out to her again, "Syreene... I'm sorry for what I, for—"

"—For what?!" she cried. "Being a murderer?! For betraying me?! Or is it for lying to me?! I trusted you, Kess. I trusted you with everything. How... how could you?"

"You don't understand."

"I understand plenty. I know what you are! You may have fooled me when I was a kid, but that disguise won't work on me now. I am not going to fall prey to your demonic impulses aga—uugh—"

"Syreene!" He caught her, grabbing onto her shoulders.

A writhing pain struck the back of her head and crawled down the nape of her neck. This intense gnawing compression, so severe it bucked her knees weak. The faint whispering in her head detained her senses. A voice in her head decoded her dilemma, and she'd drink its words in, coldly snatching herself away from Narus. The pressure perspired down her fore, her branching, pulsing veins rooting down her temples. Syreene's body tensed, fixed firmly on the offensive.

"It was you! You killed my parents, didn't you?!"

Narus fell slack-jawed. His tone deepened. "I would never—"

"—what, you couldn't take the burden of guilt, so you opted in raising me? Is that it?!"

"Syreene, please..."

"Screw all of you narcissistic, demonic, flesh picking, pieces of shits! You'll pay for what you did!!" Syreene tried to refute the mysterious voice now orchestrating her emotions, and triggered a latent power into its simplest form. The mass protruding from her cervical column bubbled as her fingers dug into the parasite. A heat ran down her spine, as did a numbing pain through the tips of her extremities. There was a shift in disposition, as it felt like Syreene was being transposed. "What's happening to me!?" Her knees dropped as the swelling inside took siege. Ramming her head into the terrain, eyes now pools of black, the teeth grinding pain snapped her resistance in two. With a crackling splash, two throbbing segmented muscular appendages sprouted from her nape.

Thick, fleshy, bloody tendrils uprooted with great vehemence; animated, they towered over her standing person near eight meters long and growing. She craned her head to Narus, her agony now suppressed with rewarding, overwhelming, powerful energy.

Narus' eyes plunged on the oval crimson core beneath her clavicle. "Syreene, a... no... that's not possible... " Syreene was settled on revenge, charging her growths at him. With his quick leaping dodge, her appendages drilled shattering wells into the ground. Her misses, savage repetitions of blasting pounds and tremors. A change in tactics manifested itself, the tendrils now multiplying by two, slamming themselves on the terrain in every attempt to strike the agile priest. The fissures exhaled debris into the air, allowing Narus to seek coverage among tree foliage, but Syreene's keen senses tracked his blood with ease. Her whips boosted her up, and she soared forward, her quick resourcefulness forcing Narus to fall back.

Once grounded, Syreene looked down to him, her feet and hands balancing from the high branch. Her glassy expression absorbed his the same, and no two words were exchanged between them. She stood over him with a looming dominance, her tendrils anxiously sashaying about, ready to shred the demon. Instantly, she dived down like a homed missile crashing against the terrain. Frustrated by his constant evasions, she tried a closer approach, but her attempt was countered. With one wrist in his grasp, and her second in another, she glared hard at him, demanding release.

"Stop this, Syreene. This isn't you."

Syreene wrapped two appendages around his ankles. His grip immediately loosened, allowing her to leap back, forcing Narus to slip head first. She dragged him across the field in satisfaction, finally raking him under her submission. Bash, crash—the sounds of the priest colliding into bodies of trees and terrain brought a smile to her face, before a screeching call veered her eyes behind her.

"Father!" Marvi rushed in, only to stop abruptly with one command.

"Marvi, no!" Narus demanded, "Keep your distance!"

"But, Narus—"

"Your bout is with me. Leave her out of this," the priest insisted Syreene.

"I have nothing against her." She clamped his throat with her tendrils. His yanking only prompted her to tighten her grip, his face already toning a lovely shade of red. "Maybe I'll just pop your head right off. No Dessarian deserves to live, and you're no exception."

"And—-what of you?" his stifled breath questioned, "You kill me, you are no different. Those powers... those powers are remnants of Desamma, dark urja; by this world's definition, you are a demon as well."

"Shut up!" She recocked her lower appendages away from his legs, a bitterness carved in her face. "I am nothing like you! I would never take innocent lives the way you did! The way I see it, I am doing this city and the entirety of Khor a favor by killing you! I will avenge my parents' death, without hesitation!" She pointed the tips of her lower tendrils, arrows for his chest.

"I cannot let you!" Marvi stretched out her arms, a mixture of translucent waves compiling in her open palms. A beam of light shot out of them; the unexpected turbulence of ice trailing the ground caught Syreene by her feet and rooted itself upward. The sudden drop in temperature defueled Syreene's growths, weakening her powers and allowing Narus to defuse the situation. With a single push of his two fingers against her chest, he brought Syreene to an involuntary surrender. She fell back against the bed of cradling ice as it continued to trap her person in place. Drifting into unconsciousness, her tendrils shortened to a mere two meters before decaying and gliding off.

"Please, release her!" Narus commanded the hesitant priestess. As the ice thawed, Narus propped his knees and caught her in his arms, watching as the pulsating crevice on her chest cocooned itself beneath her skin.

"What will you do with her? She tried to kill you." Marvi stared at the bruising around his neck.

"She didn't mean to."

"Father?" Her eyes creased, and she pleaded, "Please, she is dangerous and deceitful. Is she not a demon, like the rest?"

"She... I don't know, Marvi." He rose, the troubled priest cradling the elfin in his arms. "Bring the craft around. I'm taking her home."

"Home? Her home is in the depths of this earth, buried for an eternity! You have no trouble killing off demons, why is she so different? You know they take all forms; don't let her image deceive you, father! Kill her now while you have the chance!"

"Enough!" he shouted, "You do not know her, and after so many years, even I don't know her anymore. These powers are foreign to her. I am sure of it. I don't know how, but I'm sure of it. She never effused an aura like this before."

Marvi, slightly uneased by his first display of annoyance towards her, lightened her voice. "Years? How long have you known this girl?"

"Please tell my students I will be away this morning and they may reschedule with Father Lutherick." He grabbed Syreene's tote before walking over to Marvi in a hush. "Tell no one of this."

Marvi's eyes began to swell up with tears, her lips trembling. "Tell me this, father; are you a demon living among us? Did you really kill that girl's parents?"

Narus answered simply, sternly, "No."

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