It was late afternoon in the little port town I had occupied for a couple of weeks. The humans were still busy out, probably doing a few last minute chores, but soon they would all go to their respective homes or one of the many inns and taverns by the port. And when they did that, it would be my turn to go out and search for nutrition.
A slight whimper escaped my throat at the thought of getting something in my system. "When was the last time I ate?" I wondered, as I touched the space where my heartbeat was supposed to be. Now it was the place where I felt my hunger the strongest. It burned like crazy, yelling at me to get something in soon, and I knew that tonight I would follow it.
I sighed, wishing that I still had that and that I wasn't what I was. That I hadn't made the wrong decisions back then. But what had happened had happened, and I had been like this for hundreds of years.
Hundreds of years in misery… go figure… I didn't even believe in God back then, so I guess I got as I deserved. But still…
"Never seen, but always there.
Chase the light and bring despair.
Pain and sorrow upon the pure.
To our bodies, it's the cure."
I heard the words whispered on the wind. It was my kind's way to say we knew there was another one of us in the area. And I knew who this person was. And I planned to avoid him at all costs.
As the sun sank lower into the sky, my senses were enhanced, and I observed as my body changed into its visible form. I felt the strange prickly rush go through my body, and as the last rays of the sun disappeared in the ocean, I let out a long high pitched screech and melted into the darkness to go hunt for food.
For hours on end I crept through the town, hunting for food in the filthiest parts where I was most likely to find what I searched. And as usual, I was correct. It was like a big buffet.
Hungrily I sneaked up on a man walking out of a tavern. He was reeking of smoke, sweat and alcohol. I almost felt pity for this poor mortal, as I grabbed him and slowly sucked the bitter yet addicting water-like substance out of him, but then I remembered we were alike in so many ways. Both addicted and caught in an evil spiral. Then I just felt disgusted about myself, and let him fall to the ground, before I went out to search for food in another place.
Several times I searched for a food source and began drinking the bitter substance from them. Just as many times I was reminded of the monster I was and left them without having stopped the burning feeling in my chest.
It would soon be morning, and I was running out of time. But my chest still burned, and I had to get something in my system quickly. If I didn't, I knew I would lose control and attack an innocent human... okay, technically they were all innocent, but I would take something completely different from the human I attacked than the bitter liquid.
Something sweet and mouthwatering… with a faint, almost perfume-like scent… and much thicker and filling than that bitter, bland liquid… to sink into their beings and drink that delicious…
~Stop it! You're better than that, stronger than that. You need to show them that it is possible to live like this. Just keep fighting!~ I thought angrily as I slapped myself. I didn't do me much good, though. If anything, it made my hunger grow even bigger. Or should I call it thirst? I had trouble seeing the difference.
My sensitive ears caught something a few miles outside of town. A slow, quiet song.
"Come, poor souls, let me free you of pain.
Come to me, and much you will gain.
I am an angle, sent from above.
And with me I bring salvation and love."
I looked up quickly, my nerves suddenly on edge. I knew that song. I knew that song all too well. And it didn't bring all the good things it promised, far from.
This song brought pain and misery.
That cursed song he used.
I let out a high snarl as anger consumed me. How DARE he try anything like that again? Had the hours in hell not done him any good? Didn't he feel even a bit of remorse?
Deep in my formerly beating heart I knew he didn't. I knew he hadn't changed one bit.
Seemed like I would just have to remove him from the face of this planet, then!
I quickly ran towards the source of the song - well, it was more like hovering actually, barely visible to the human eye, had anyone been out at this point. I was determined on stopping him before someone got lured in by his devilish song. If they did, he wouldn't hesitate for a second, but attack them on the spot. Sure, not many people were out this late, but some were. I knew it from my own hunts.
Suddenly a sound rippled through the air. A sound that made my body turn cold.
"Why, hello good sir," a polite voice whispered. "I hope my humble little song pleases you."
Memories and pictures flooded my mind as I recognized the words. A smile and then a deep bow always followed that greeting.
"It was very interesting, boy," a pleasant male voice said.
A confident grin, now. I was sure he was grinning. I picked up the pace, everything turning into a blur around me.
"I thank you, sir. It's this song that usually brings me my food, so I'm glad people like it".
I was getting closer by each passing second. I could smell them now. Him and the human. A human with quite an interesting scent… my hunger flared up.
~NO! Then I won't be any better than him!~ My mind screamed at me. But my hunger was great… I could only hope the hatred I felt would be enough to stop me from attacking the innocent.
"It's an odd hour to get people to hear you sing, don't you think?" the human asked conversationally.
A bigger grin now, possibly showing his pointed, pearly teeth, proof that he wasn't human. I was certain of it. I had met and fought him countless times, and he always followed the same pattern. Lure them in like little sheep, show them a bit of his true nature, and then attack. An easy meal for him, and an eternity of pain and misery for the victim. Unless they died first.
"For a human, perhaps, good sir. But as you can see, I am not a human. I haven't been for a long time," he said, chuckling lightly.
I felt my body shake as I continued my mad run. A low growl rumbled in my chest, and it was as if everything around me had turned blood red because of my anger. But that didn't matter. I could see them now.
He stood on a sign pole and was wearing his usual midnight blue cloak. He never wore anything else of human clothing, preferring to be in his strongest form at all times, so he was ready to strike. Only his head and his hands were visible, silver hair in a tight bun on the top of his head and his zither in his hands. Any onlooker would think he was simply a travelling musician.
In front of the sign pole, however, stood a man. I was too far away and caught up in my anger to notice much about him, but I did notice the silvery gleam of a sword by his side.
I looked at the monster, and saw his nails slowly turn into sharp claws. He was getting ready to strike.
I didn't hesitate one second.
"CORE!" I screamed, lunging at him and knocking him off the sign pole.
I heard a small sound from the human, but I was too focused on Core to really pay him much attention.
Core grunted as he got off the ground. He looked at me evilly, a mocking smile on his face.
"Well, if it isn't my dear daughter. What are you doing here on this fine evening, and this late at night? Little girls should be in bed, not picking fights with their daddies," he said.
I let out a loud hiss and clenched my fists. "I am not your daughter, nor a child!" I yelled, showing my sharp teeth.
Core tutted at me and wiggled his finger. "Silly girl, I created you, although by accident, so therefore you are my daughter. And yes, you are a child. Only 500 years old, when I have been here for 10,000," he smirked. "You seem a bit grey and thin, girl. Why? Any sorrows keeping you from eating properly?" he mocked.
"Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!" I screeched, his words only adding to the fire that was my anger and hatred.
My body reacted on pure instinct, as I was consumed by the will to attack and fight until death. I dissolved into black dust, making my royal blue dress fall to the ground with a soft thud. Immediately the dust began to fly around and reassemble into a black silhouette of a human, which soon stiffened and turned into a solid body. My body.
Almost my whole body was covered in a hard, black material. To an outsider it would look like I was clad in a suit of armor, but the reality was something else. All of the armor, except my head and arms, was made completely out of the black material and was, in fact, my body. It was hard as steel, but flexible like muscles and flesh so I could easily move. It also made my body much stronger and enhanced my natural abilities.
Core grinned at me and pulled off his cloak, revealing his own armor-like body. "So the child wants to fight again? Fine with me, a little easy workout should make me hungry enough," he said, smirking.
I gritted my teeth as I held up my hands in a fighting stance, before I quickly looked over my shoulder at the man Core had decided to take as his next victim.
He appeared to be a pirate, wearing a long, black coat, black pants and black boots. I could barely see the collar of a white shirt under the coat. What was the most remarkable, however, was the black fedora on his head. I had never seen a pirate wearing a fedora, but it somehow suited him. It reminded me of something vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite tell what.
He was staring at me with wide eyes, his hand hovering lightly over the hilt of his sword, as if he was deciding if he should help me or not.
"Well, what are you waiting for?! Run!" I yelled at him.
He looked into my eyes and gasped a little. I smiled grimly. Many people did that when they got a closer look at my kind, as we lacked one very human thing. The pupils.
"But what about you?" he asked, taking a little step forwards.
"Don't worry about me. I've fought Core hundreds of times, and as you can see, I'm still alive. Now go! I won't see Core kill another innocent human!" I demanded, turning back towards a smirking Core.
Shortly after that, the sound of light, but quick, steps reached my ears, and I knew the human had run. Now I just needed to hold back Core for a while, so the human could get to safety.
Core glared at me. "You stupid child! Do you know how delicious his soul was going to be?! I would have survived for months on that! I will kill you!" he yelled, his arm turning into a sword-like weapon.
I let out a short humorless laugh. "You can try… but I won't go down without a fight!" I declared, my dark magic creating black sparks around my arms.
He charged towards me, roaring like an animal and weapon ready to strike.
I smiled a bit sadly as I braced myself for the impact, hoping I would be strong enough to get away from this without getting killed. Because truth was…
I had never beaten Core in battle before.
After a good hour I was lying in the dirt, my body sore and covered in cuts and bruises. My head was lying halfway in a sticky mixture of water and my own blood. My blonde hair was caked with the stuff, too, and I had trouble breathing.
~At least I was strong enough to actually wound him this time… and he fled… that's positive, right?~ I thought, closing my blue eyes as I remembered him hissing in pain at one of my blows. Soon the sun would rise, and I would become invisible again, left with my pain, not being noticed.
The hunger had finally caught up with me completely, and I was too weak to move. Because even though I was immortal in so many ways, I still needed to eat. Maybe Core knew this. Maybe he left me to die from hunger, instead of just finishing me off by himself. Either way, I was pretty sure it was the end for me now.
"I thought you might still be here," a voice suddenly said.
I was able to move my head a little, so I could look at the owner of the voice. To my big surprise, it was the man I had saved from Core. But what was he doing here?
I just nodded once, as an answer.
He smiled and walked over to me. "That was quite a show, miss. I'm pretty sure you saved my life there," he said, sitting down next to me and studying my bruised face.
Again I nodded, but then I shook my head. I knew, now, that he had watched everything. Hadn't it occurred to him that Core was dangerous and that he could've been killed if Core hadn't gone away?
"I know you can talk, miss, so there's no need to be so quiet and reserved," he said, not sounding angry at all.
I sank a little, before I carefully opened my mouth and spoke.
"I know," I whispered, clearing my throat a little. "But I'm too exhausted, hungry, and hurt to move. I just wanted to spare the little energy I have left."
He frowned and lifted my arm to examine one of the gashes. "Yes, that man… Core, was it? He said something about sorrow… and eating souls… just what kind of being are you?" He asked.
I let out a humorless chuckle. "Why, I'm a soulless, sir," I said, hissing as the motion brought pain to my chest.
The man's eyes got a curious shine to them. "Soulless… what does that mean?" he asked, carefully looking for any serious wounds.
I hesitated a little, not sure if I could trust him. But if I was going to die, I might as well tell him my story… I felt like I owed it to him.
"A soulless is a being much like a vampire, yet different in some key ways. We are nocturnal like them, but sun doesn't hurt us, and we don't drink blood. Actually, human blood and animal blood is poison to us, and we die if we consume any," I explained, trying not to exhaust myself too much, though it was difficult. My energy was waning, and the sun would soon rise. I knew it because the sky was getting lighter. The man just listened.
"Another thing we have in common with most vampires are that we were once humans. Five hundred years ago, I, too, was a human girl… but as you can probably guess, the bastard to Core stole my soul from me," I said bitterly.
The man frowned again. "What happened to you?" He asked.
I sighed. "The only thing I can remember is that I had run away from home, Core found me and we travelled around together. But as we travelled, I felt myself slowly change, though I didn't know how or why. Then one night Core showed me his true self, took the rest of my soul, and left me to die. What he didn't know was that his slow devouring of my soul turned me into a soulless like him, so I didn't die," I explained, feeling the usual sadness sweep over me, as I remembered my terrible fate. I let out a whimper.
"What is wrong?" the man asked.
I shook my head. "It hurts so much to remember… I lost everything that night. I don't even remember my real name. The name I bear now is one I chose for myself, because it made me feel more human to have a name," I said, staring back up at the sky that continued to become lighter as the seconds passed. Soon I would disappear.
The man smiled. "So you do have a name. I was wondering whether or not you had one. What is it?" he asked.
I looked at him and managed to frown. "Between soulless it is a sign of trust and friendship to tell someone your name. So what makes you think I trust you?" I asked suspiciously.
He grinned at me. "If you didn't trust me, you wouldn't have told me your story. You would have remained silent and in pain," he said.
"I'm still in pain," I replied. "And I haven't eaten any emotions for weeks. If I had, my wounds would already have healed themselves, and I would be miles from here by now".
He looked at me confusedly, a silent question hovering in the air.
"I don't eat souls," I told him. "It makes me feel horrible… to mercilessly steal the soul of an innocent, and leave them to die. Or maybe even create another soulless. I mean, look at me. I'm a monster with only a tiny little bit of humanity left in me. I can't die, I can't cry, almost all of my body is a mass of shadows, and I have no pupils as it is in them the soul is bound to the human body… I am a cursed being with only one purpose: to bring pain and misery wherever I go," I said quickly, misery making my voice deep and grim. I took a deep, painful breath.
"So I thought that since I am cursed to steal the soul, maybe… if I didn't take the soul, but only all the bad emotions from humans, like pain and sorrow, maybe I wouldn't feel so bad about my fate. Emotions are, after all, a part of the soul… if I could bring peace to a human's heart, rather than misery, then I could actually allow myself a few moments of happiness," I whispered, closing my eyes from the exhaustion. At that point, I was certain I wasn't going to make it.
The man studied my face for a while. I couldn't see it, but I somehow felt it. After a little while, he said, "It sounds to me like you need to have some of that sorrow lifted from your heart, too."
My eyes snapped open and I stared at him. He was smiling gently at me.
"Think about it. You've been trying to make humans happier by consuming sorrow and pain, correct? All along living with your own sorrows hovering over you as a burden. As I see it, you need to be saved as much as any human life, over which you fight your own nature to protect," he explained.
I turned my gaze away from him and looked at the sky again in an attempt to run from the truth. Because he was right, I realized it in that moment. I had been running and traveling, always on the road, so I didn't have to face the reality about myself. That I, too, was just a poor, little lost soul.
"But what is there to do about it?" I asked to no one in particular.
"Join my crew," the man next to me said.
I looked at him again, completely confused. "Excuse me, what?" I asked.
He smiled again. "Join my crew of poet pirates. There are many with heavy burdens on their shoulders, just like you. I'm sure you'd fit right in," he said, as he stood and held a hand out for me to take.
"Poet… pirates…" I whispered, looking at him curiously. "Just who are you?"
He grinned. "I am Captain Chenbeard of the Black Fedora Pirates," he announced proudly.
My eyes widened, and with the help of some unknown spare resource of energy, I quickly grabbed his hand and got to my feet. However, as soon as I stood safely with no danger of falling, I let go of his hand and bowed deeply to him.
"It is an honor to meet you, Captain," I said, placing the second and middle finger of my right hand over my silent heart, in the greeting used by my kind.
Of course I knew who Chenbeard the poet pirate was. I had heard about him in every town I had visited. It seemed like everyone knew who Chenbeard and his crew of humans and demons alike were. Some feared him, others cherished him, and others again, like myself, were fascinated by this mysterious pirate and secretly wished to join him.
He laughed gently at my formality and smiled at me. "No need to bow to me, lass. But now that I have told you my name, may I know what yours is?" he asked.
I straightened up right away, ignoring the pain I still felt in my body, and said: "My name is Claire de Luna, after the piano piece Claire de Lune by Debussy. I had the pleasure of hearing it once, and I took it as my name so I would always remember it. But those of my kind I actually get along with tend to call me Claire or Luna".
Chenbeard smiled at me. "Well then, Luna. Will you join my crew?" he asked.
I didn't hesitate. "Yes, I will join you. But you need to know this!" I quickly added at the end.
Chenbeard looked at me with interest in his eyes, silently urging me to go on.
"I disappear in sunlight and become mute. That is what I meant by the sun not hurting me. And because I am essentially a shadow, I can get in everywhere, as you can't keep a shadow out, but I respect people's privacy. And it is only in this form, my combat form, I have an actual body. In reality only my chest, arms and head are human like. The rest is a black shadow thing," I explained.
He looked at me with a bit of curiosity in his eyes. "Anything else about your species?" he asked.
I allowed myself to grin proudly. "I have yet to discover the vertical surface I can't walk on," I said.
He laughed heartily. "That sure is an interesting ability," he chuckled. After a few moments, he asked, "Now, tell me this. What is your proof of loyalty?"
I thought for a few moments, before I got an idea. With some of the last of my energy, I turned one of my nails into a sharp claw, and pierced the skin in my right wrist.
"Please hand me your sword, Captain," I said, bowing to him again.
With a knowing glance he unsheathed the sword and handed it to me.
I let a few drops of coal black blood fall onto the shining metal. "With this blood upon Thy sword, I promise to always stay by Thy side. Through battles and pain, Thou can count on me to be there. My powers will serve Thee until the end of my days, and never will I go against Thy word. This is my proof of loyalty to Captain Chenbeard. This is my proof of loyalty to the Black Fedora Pirates," I said as I knelt and held the sword towards my new master and captain, as the blood melted into the sword, giving it a faint slivery glow.
Chenbeard grinned. "Welcome aboard, Claire de Luna," he said, taking his sword back.
I smiled. "Thank you," I whispered.
At that moment the sun finally rose and I was hit by the bright rays. While I didn't notice a thing, Chenbeard looked around trying to find me.
Smiling, I stepped into his shadow, making my body reappear and my voice audible again, though I was translucent, and my voice was only a low whisper.
"Please go ahead, Captain. I will follow you as soon as I have eaten and my wounds have healed. You have my word," I said.
He looked at me, still grinning. "Very well. I will see you at night fall. Good bye for now, Sorrow Eater," he said, as he turned around and began walking towards the port town.
I looked after him for a while, thinking about the title he had given me. I smiled widely.
"Sorrow Eater… yeah, why not? I rather like that title," I said to myself as I watched my captain disappear into the early morning light.
~Today marks the beginning of a new life… a new life and a new Clair de Luna,~ I thought before I headed towards the nearest town to feed and get my wounds healed.