“It’s been a long time since I’ve held a sword, Charly.”
“Then you shouldn’t keep your sword waiting,” he replied.
Chao shook her head. A sword was the end of all things. A taste of blood required more blood and Chao was no longer the same. She didn’t thirst for blood nor mischievous fun. She was mild in manner and always had been, but without Charly and Demonico to slay by her side, there was no point in slaying at all. A game was only a game when there were players to be playing.
“Do you remember what it was like, that first night?” Charly asked her. “I remembered I took you from that forsaken port town and gave you a life of your own. You held that sword in your hand and it danced with you, slicing elegant patterns in its wake. You were great at the game, even much better than Demonico.”
She ignored the mention of the other. She had seen him recently and had used nonviolent ways to set him free from some sort of entrapment. Surely it wasn’t any of Charly’s fault. Demonico had probably been wandering realms when he was caught. The creatures who caught him were ferocious hunters. It took Chao, Angelus, the second Angelus, Shaar, Six, and Five to take down a single entity. Demonico was trapped underground with a horde of them.
Where was Demonico now? Probably home safe with his wife, Anna.
“I don’t live by the sword anymore,” Chao told him. “I live by kindness and goodness and all the things hoped for that are unseen.”
Charly laughed. Kindness and goodness? What was Chao now, a saint? The thought lingered in his throat as a deep chuckle that he couldn’t resist holding down. “Did you forget what we were?” he asked her. He cocked his head to the side and stared into her deep cherry eyes. She had forgotten, or have tried to forget. It was there, her old self, a fading light like a dying star. He held her upper arms and laid his chin against her left shoulder. “We are the darkness that creeps, silent and still, choking all life in our path. We are the heroes that heroes only dreamed to be like.”
His whispers made her shudder. “You don’t even make sense,” she told him. “You and Demonico may be darkness, but I am not and I will refuse to become that which I once was.”
He lifted his head to look at her and frowned. “You loved the blood.”
She nodded. “I did. I relished it.”
“And not now?”
“I loved it too much. The killing. The torture. The fun. If I started again, I wouldn’t stop.”
“You’re afraid,” he said with a smile, confident that he had found out why she changed. “You’re afraid of who you really are.”
Chao shook her head. “A sword is the end of all things. I’m not afraid for myself or of what I might do. I’m afraid of all the ones in my path and that also means you.”
He bit his tongue and released her. “I’m not in your path,” Charly asserted. “Demonico and I are the closest of your friends. You would not hurt us.”
She reached out and touched his cheek. “You and Demonico are indeed the closest of friends that I have.” She paused. “But I have hurt you both and I will again without regard because that’s my true nature. I hurt worse the ones I love.”
Charly resigned his imploration with a smile. “Then perhaps it is best that you do not wield a sword again.”
“I resist the temptations,” Chao said. “When I give in, I normally sleep it off instead. I’ve been good.”
“So I won’t see you again?” Charly asked. It had been too long and she never came by often enough as it was.
“Oh, you will,” she told him. “It’s hard to resist temptations.”