Heart of Mine.
She stood silent in the shadows as she watched for her quarry, the demon that struck such a blow to threatened her heart. Though dreary most of the day, it seemed fitting for the funeral. Rain like a fine mist fell from the dark overcast sky, making it easy to hide one's tears.
Quiet in the shadow of a nearby tree, Melissa listened to the words of a minister she had never met, speaking above the closed casket of the man she had known as her father in a previous life time.
"Life is hard," her mentor had said, so long ago it seemed only a dream. "We seek to do the will of Him who blesses, even at the cost of life."
"And yet you are still a Seeker?"
"Not anymore, little heart of mine, I chose only to protect my own family now."
"Then I shall take up your cause," she had told him, rubbing a hand over the smooth blade of a Seeker's Sword for the first time, its glowing edge like flames in the darkness of the stable yard. "Train me, that I too would fight in the last battle."
"It is a lonely life, Mel," her mentor's sad eyes burned to her soul a greater reason to stand again Evil's Minions. "The cost is too great."
After so many years away, it was like any other city in the world. Unknown faces in a crowd that looked through her, not seeing even a glimpse of the real person hidden within the darkness, yet fearful of getting close enough to understand the secret life of a Death-Seeker. Marked and hunted by Evil, even as she sought to hunt them down. Shunned by the race of men as being less-than-human. Even though those like her keep them safe-- free from darkness and torment.
"Death takes us all one day," the memories of her mentor's words came back to Melissa from childhood like a haunted vision. "It is how the soul is prepared before hand that leads the way. Seekers live that fine line between shadow and reality, little heart of mine, safeguarding the lives of those who despise us, and that from Evil's minions that hate us even more."
"I train daily with the sword, preparing myself to carry on as a Seeker."
"Yes, you do well with the sword, Mel," the man had laughed at the time, "there is none better. But the true power that keeps a soul alive, is from Creator of all life."
Now, death had become a constant companion, an enemy running before her like a fire in a hard wind. Driving her on to the final day, to stand beside her eternal King at the End-time battle. Her grief and hate of the minions of the dark only strengthening her resolve in the hunt.
As she watched the last of the great Seekers laid to rest -- her mentor, father, and only friend -- tears that should not fall, lay hidden beneath the covering of her hooded cape as Melissa's mind raged for vengeance. She could feel the presence of the enemy within the gathering, the Demon-Knight that had destroyed her teacher's body and ravaged his soul, locking it away in a feeding-crystal to be devoured at its leisure -- a play thing for the devil's servant.
The horses attached to the group of carriages moved about, uneasy in the presence of the enemy's servant. So near, yet with all those present it could remain unseen, hidden within its human host. She knew it would be there, to gloat over its victory, even in hiding it would try to openly flaunt the gained power of a captured soul of a Seeker -- to its own undoing. Long had she sought this Knight, only to have it turn in the end and kill one she cared for, seeking its own revenge against her relentless pursuit.
Melissa remained in the shadows to single out the host, smelling the rancid, burnt-acid odor of the demon in the crowd of mourners. She watched each face for signs, listened as the man's words drew to a close, and those gathered began slowly to move towards their waiting carriages.
Words or stance would not reveal the un-dead until they chose to strike, but to those like Melissa, trained in hunting them, they could not hide for long. Now, only the calmness instilled in her from years of discipline, kept her from striking out at her quarry too soon.
She stood silent beneath the trees, the wind rippling her dark cloak as the storm came down in earnest-- a shadow within a gray curtain of rain. As the mourners passed by on their way back to the city, Melissa waited until she was the last to remain. Her, and the Demon-Knight she had hunted for the passed year.
"You might as well come out, Young Lady," the minister's words rang through the sodden air like a stale breath from an empty tomb. "I have known you were there, even before I arrived. A pity you could not witness his last moments, as he begged for mercy at my hands."
"Lies," the young Seeker whispered, a hand resting at ready on the hilt of her weapon, waiting for the demon to strike. "Argus would never ask mercy from the minion of Chaos, especially when taken in his sleep by a coward."
"Come, heart of mine," the minister's mocking words echoed Argus' name for his beloved student, then bit hard in its own anger. "Join your teacher in my feast."
The demon turned; eyes burning like twin flames, flesh with the look of scaled armor of blackened steel as its Human form was cast aside, claws and fangs reaching in a lightning quick movement. A cruel knife came from its side in a killing strike, hoping to catch the young Seeker off guard.
Melissa's golden sword flashed as if it was made of sunlight and she stepped into the open ground before her teacher's grave. The sound of a trumpet's call filled the graveyard as though an entire legion of soldiers marched forth to battle.
The darkness of the Knights power, though strong, was no match for the Levite trained Demon hunter; as her shining blade cut through the malice of evil incarnate, calling on the greater power of the living God. In one clean swipe, she removed the enemies weapon, hand and all. Then lunged forward to drive her own blade deep for the kill.
Writhed in agony, as the power that formed creation ripped through its body, the Demon-Knight struck out one last time, a clawed hand raking Melissa's face as she buried her sanctified weapon further into its chest, severing its still beating heart. Screams rent the night as it fell to its knees, too weak to do more than swat at the air in front of its face.
"By the power of what is Holy and true, I cast you to the Pit from whence you came." Melissa drove the cross formed hilt of her Seeker's blade deep in the darkened form before her. "Tell your master his day comes."
The demon shade reformed to a wisp of smoke, hanging in the air above its twisted body like a blackened crystal, slow at first to drift away on the wind. Deprived of the unholy spirit that gave it strength, the physical form quickly began to crumble to ash at the Seeker's feet. Beneath the dust, a spark was seen and Melissa cautiously stirred the ashes with the point of her sword, revealing a sphere of glowing white stone.
The demon's cut to her cheek burned, but her tears were that of joy, as she reached down her hand to pick up the Feeder-stone. By instinct she could tell the stone held more than just one spirit.
In her heart, Melissa could feel her mentor's hand, comforting her one last time. As the pain of her wound diminished, she placed the gem on the surface of her teacher's tombstone. Slow as with great reverence, she spoke a prayer of release and crushed it to powder to be blown away by the storm.
"I commend these souls into Thy loving hand, Father. Be merciful and kind, for not all knew the cost of life."
As Melissa rose up once more, she stopped a moment beside the casket, placing a hand gently on the closed cover. Her tears now spent, comforted for the moment in having avenged the wrong done. She bent her head and whispered words in parting.
“Farewell, father,” the young seeker said softly. “Until we meet again at the final battle.”
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