Description: When it comes to Darkstalkers, things are not always as they seem. It is a fact that the experienced hunter Nightwolf knows too well, and one that serves him yet again, when he finally tracks down Testament in Metro City. It seems there is more to the murderous dark one that he initially let on when he attacked the United Nations consulate.
It's an odd thing to hear out here in the... well, it's not exactly the woods or forest. But there's enough scrubby trees to qualify as an outlying area, that's for sure. At early morning, it's still quite cold out... definitely too cold to be out in the thin jacket worn over the t-shirt and jeans. Nonetheless, the little boy is out here in just that. He can't be more than four, the shivering child huddled underneath a concrete arch supporting a highway above.
Not too far away a silent conversation takes place. ('...A child. Here?')
('He's alone. An easy target.')
('No. He's only a child. He can't defend himself. I won't be like them.')
Gravel crunches underfoot as he approaches the lone child. The boy looks in the direction of the strange person approaching. It's a tall, pale-skinned person with long black hair. Dressed in black, what looks like a crop-top, a split skirt, and boots with a low heel. Is it a boy? Boys don't wear skirts, do they? HE didn't. So it had to be a lady, right? "...Iss c-cold. Aren't you c-cold, ma'am?"
Testament pauses. "...'Ma'am'?" he questions, blinking. The raven on his shoulder seems to make a snickering noise, and he sends her a look.
"Oh. You're not a g-girl?" the boy asks. "I'm s-sorry."
"Don't worry about it," Testament replies, shaking his head. "What are you doing out here?"
The boy answers, "I was ch-chasin' a f-firefly. I d-didn't think there'd b-be any more of them out in the mornin', s-so I wanted ta c-catch it f-f-for luck."
"You'll freeze if you stay out here," Testament states. "Come on. I'll help you find your parents."
The boy seems to weigh his options. He doesn't know this strangely lady-looking man. But lady-man has a point. It's cold, and he can't find his way back alone. So he nods, and stands up-- his legs are stiff due to the cold and sitting so long-- and he stumbles over to Testament. He trips, but the black-clad man leans forward and crouches to catch him. "Oops. Sorry... my legs hurts."
With a nod, Testament picks the boy up. "I understand. As you said, it's cold. It's to be expected." He pauses, to stand and adjust the boy against his side. "Where were your parents, do you remember?" The boy points in a direction, and Testament nods, turning to head that way.
The battle may be over, but the war has only just begun.
Nightwolf had not returned to Southtown after that fateful battle in the United Nations building. Normaly the battle against Outworld would take priority over local Darkstalkers, however there were always exceptions to rules, and this was one of such occasions. The supposed Darkstalker that had laid waste to the UN building was as intriguing as he was powerful, claiming that he had been 'made' by those people and he was acting out of vengeance. A very troublesome accusation for many reasons, to think that someone would be so insane as to /create/ Darkstalkers was something that boggled Nightwolf's mind, but to know that it was the United Nations that were behind all of that? It was too distressing to be true..
Nightwolf had to investigate.
Looks like that Shrine was still not going to get repaired for a good while longer.
It had taken many days but the shaman had finally caught the scent again. It was not too difficult to follow once he had picked it up as this Darkstalker had a very distinct smell, he smelled of blood and death, but only something more, something like... young flesh.. almost like a cub in a certain way. This further cemented Nightwolf's belief that the Darkstalker had been created, for only someone that had recently been born would have that 'new' smell children have.
Then again, it could be an actual child that Nightwolf is following...
The Sin Eater turned wolf arrives just in time to see Testament carrying a child! What is he doing?? Is he taking him to sacrifice him in a dark ritual of some sort? Nightwolf fears the worst, but he cannot attack just yet as it would endanger the child. Still in his wolf form and hidden from view, the skinwalker decides to follow the two, biding his time until he can find the best time to strike.
Testament is not unaware that he's being followed. It feels... familiar somehow. As if he's felt the presence before. Blood that he has met. But he makes no move to confront it. Because he doesn't want to endanger the child, either. This is not the time for a battle. The child, it seems, is unaware. In fact, on the trip, he asks, "...How come you're wearin' a dress?"
Testament just chuckles. "...I got dressed quickly," he notes, with some amusement. It's almost humorous... he's actually bantering back and forth with the child.
Soon he comes across where the young boy's parents are. They've missed him, and are calling for him. Upon seeing them, Testament pauses, remaining just out of view. "There. Is that your parents?"
"Yup! Thank you, mister!" Testament nods, and places the child on the ground. And he seems to disappear into the underbrush as the boy turns to run to his parents. He only stays long enough to make sure the child is indeed with the right people-- and he does seem to be, they were worried and searching, calling out, and when the boy appeared they hugged him and made a big deal about him being 'back'.
And once that's done, Testament turns away. He doesn't want to see this. It makes him miss his own father too much...
Could it be perhaps that Nightwolf's suspicions are ill placed? The skinwalker had been sure that the further the pale skinned man held the child, fewer where the possibilities of launching a successful rescue attempt. It looked as if this child's fate was sealed the deeper they walked into the forest, until Nightwolf realized that Testament wasn't taking the child further into the woods.. he was walking out of it. Back towards the city.
Catching bits and pieces of their conversation thanks to his keen wolf hearing, Nightwolf follows them until they arrive with the child's family, where they at last part ways. No signs of curses or dark magic, no scarring on the boy's behalf, not even a blood tribute claimed by the man. Just honest to goodness helping a person in need.
Looks like this Darkstalker was going to be one of those cases.
The time to confront Testament about his true nature was now. Testament began to walk away, sadness clearly evident in his eyes, sadness that Nightwolf recognized, it was the type of regret that came from someone losing something dear to them. The skinwalker needed to know more and thus he followed until they were out of ear's reach from the boy and his family.
"That was a good deed you did." Came Nightwolf's deep voice from the shadows. It was a wolf that came out from the bushes behind Testament who spoke to him, but Testament would be able to recognize him for who he was by the shaman's life signature. It was one of the ones that had stood against him in the UN building, the 'obnoxiously heroic' one as he had put it.
Testament stops walking as he heard the voice, but doesn't immediately turn. He turns his head to the side, though probably not enough to actually see Nightwolf. Still, he does recognize the voice. And the odd 'sense' of everything bright and good from the shaman's general location. It was enough to make him want to vomit.
He does, however, resist the urge to do so. Instead he addresses the observation. "...Would you rather I had let him die? Or killed him myself? Would that have made it easier?" he inquires. The tone in his voice is flat and monotone... hard to read for emotions. "Their kind should look after their spawn more closely. Predators live in the forests. And most aren't so charitable."
Vomiting would have an awkward way of greeting someone to be sure. Nightwolf would not lie and say he wouldn't have been caught off guard by it. The shaman would be the first to admit that making others vomit rainbows isn't his speciality.. despite sharing many of the tropes of the so called magical warriors. Traveling through beams of moon light, energy weapons and bold heroic speeches are just coincidence. Give him some credit, at least he doesn't have an overly long and elaborate transformation sequence.
Unless you count the part where he transforms from wolf to human.. shit.
Speaking of, that happens right now. The wolf with the dark pelt is enveloped with swirling green energy and turns into the dark skinned warrior that had faced against Testament in that day. He takes one step forward and stops, preferring to keep his distance from this strange man.
"It would have." Nightwolf openly admits when Testament questions making his job easier. "It is always easier to hate. It is far easier to think of your enemies as cold, emotionless, dark creatures. If they do not feel and are nothing but mindless beasts, then there is no need for sympathy."
"It is always far more difficult to forgive."
It is the way Testament looked at that family that tells Nightwolf there is something this Darkstalker will never forgive.
Movement is sensed as Nightwolf changes back to the more familiar human form, and Testament turns to regard the shaman. "Perhaps next time I will," he says, voice still in that flat tone. "If it would make things easier for you for me to just murder everyone I found..." He pauses, though, as Nightwolf makes mention of forgiving.
And in response? He actually bares his teeth angrily, his hands clenching into fists at his sides. That's a glimpse of the monster that had attacked the UN building. "Don't give me your PITY, human," he hisses, all but spitting the word 'pity'. "I don't need pity from you."
"I doubt you would go to such lengths simply to antagonize me personally." Answers Nightwolf when Testament begins to lose his composure, glimpses of that aberration that attacked the UN building flicking back into light. Yet the shaman holds his ground, thumbs tucked in his belt as his blank white eyes looks towards the troubled Darkstalker.
"After all, your main quarrel seems to be with the United Nations. They are the ones that turned you into what you are now, are they not?"
Nightwolf pauses to think and regard the Darkstalker. "I am not here to pity you, nor to judge you. I am Nightwolf, Sin Eater of the Apache tribe and I deal in all matter of things that mortals dare not try to understand."
"Tell me what lead you to this path of destruction. Perhaps I can help you."
Testament calms, as his brain begins to process what Nightwolf's saying. Yet still he replies quietly to Nightwolf's doubt, "Don't be so sure..." But he doesn't note any further plans to increase his aggression. As for his main quarrel? His eyes narrow, but he doesn't speak immediately. Not until the introduction. "...Testament." No titles, no last name.
He lets a moment of silence pass after the invitation. "Help me?" He lowers his head and starts to chuckle. "Do you hear him, my dear? He wants to 'help'." ...Who's he talking to? Well, the raven on his shoulder ruffles its feathers. The chuckle becomes fullblown laughter, mirthless and hollow. "No. You can't 'help'. There's nothing you can do. Unless you can kill me. And I don't think you have the strength. Believe me... I've tried." He's not bragging.
Oh but he continues. "No. My 'quarrel'... it's with humans as a whole. Each one using those weaker without giving them a chance. And where strength fails, using intimidation and trickery to get what they want. This world suffers for the existence of humans, unable to purge itself of their taint. NOTHING else will do except to eradicate them all."
No, seriously, Nightwolf really doubts any of the people he fights would go at great lengths out of their way to openly antagonize him. Even after all he has done, the shaman is not yet at a level where his mere presence makes evil quake in fear, even to those who he has very handily trumped. Perhaps one day the skinwalker will achieve that level of heroic reputation. Today is not yet that day, in the grand scheme of things Nightwolf is still a nobody and thus he pays Testament's threat no heed.
Besides, the only one that the forces of evil could possibly target to get under Nightwolf's skin... is Raiden.. and that would end poorly for the attacking party.
And then there is the laughter. There is always the laughter. What is it with these people that makes them seemingly take so much joy in their grim work, even when they are clearly suffering in the inside. Nightwolf already knows it, in some cases its genuine sadism, but in cases like Testament, he who has such sad eyes, it is naught but a placebo effect.
The shaman merely stands till and waits for Testament to finish his laughter and sharing mocking words with his raven.
He nods at the exchange of names and sighs softly at the explanation. For this is something he has heard countless times.
"And so.." He begins after Testament has shown what he intends to do with humans. "You would do as humans do and destroy everything."
"You would turn into that which you hate the most."
"Of course." Testament's voice sounds almost... calm. But it's the kind of calm one should expect from the insane between periods of raving lunacy. "There's no way to stay clean of blood," Testament replies.
"There ARE no innocents in this world." As he speaks he seems to become increasingly agitated. "Merely the 'guilty' and the 'not yet guilty'. No one will EVER remain 'innocent'. Sooner or later, EVERYONE will prey on someone else... break another down to their foundations and pick over what's left."
And then... that calm again. "There's only one way to stop it." His voice is quiet. "Only one. I'll end it. ALL of it..."
"You have made your choice then."
Nightwolf is direct, not because he does not pay attention to the details, in fact he spends an absurdly amount of time looking at one thing from every perspective possible. He is direct because he recognizes all this, he's seen people that are just that Testament, he has them categorized in a little file in his brain where he puts the many different types of Darkstalkers and Outworlders he encounters. The sadists, the mindless, the cursed and the ones that are like Testament, those who follow the path of ruin willingly because they have fully surrendered to their despair. Nothing but utter destruction would save them from their suffering. Be it theirs.. or the whole of humanity.
"It saddens them that you've succumbed to grief in such a manner. Though you will not admit it there is still kindness in your heart. I pray that there will come a day when you will realize this."
He takes a deep breath then and his blank white eyes widen. "Until that day comes, we will be enemies. I know I cannot utterly destroy you, but I can stop you from following your murderous ways."
"I will trouble you no more today, you have shown me that you can yet be saved, however slim that chance may be. However.. know this.."
"When you next decide to strike. I will be there to stop you."
"...It was the only choice."
For just a moment, it sounds like Testament is trying to justify it to himself. The raven dips its head, though, and starts to beak lightly at his hair. Not firmly or painfully, but like it were nothing more or less than finger-combing his hair. And in response Testament reaches up to stroke the bird's feathers. It's trying to comfort him? Perhaps it can sense his mood? Animals are known to do that. Or perhaps it's more than just a raven.
"...Believe what you want." He sounds almost tired. "It won't do you any good. One day you'll see. You'll be just the same as the others... you'll break someone just for your own benefit. Take what you can use and leave the rest to rot. No human can resist it for long, it's in their very nature. Even me. When I became this way, I killed. I couldn't resist it, even when I wanted no part of death."
"There are always other choices." Nightwolf responds almost immediately, as he's known to do, it's like he's rehearsed this script many times already in his life.
"And it is always your decision to choose differently."
The shaman's blank eyes glance towards the raven perched on Testament's hair. A curious creature indeed, and probably not what it seems, perhaps Nightwolf will one day find out.
It is this very experience however that allows Nightwolf to realize he's not in any position to judge Testament. There may come the day when his Sin Eater nature will get the better of him and one day he might succumb to the darkness.
But if it does happen it shall not be Nightwolf anymore who has control and he can take comfort knowing he his mission would be fulfilled and thus deserving of a warrior's death.
It makes the shaman scoff somewhat though, because even if what Testament says its true, its not the same way that he may think.
"You are not the only one who has ever been victimized by the laws of man." He turns to walk away then, looking more disappointed than anything. "Mayhap when you start seeing beyond your own pain you will have the strength to make the right decision."
As he departs, the moon shines over him and his body begins to vanish as if he were naught but a dream, his whispering voice whispering in the air before disappearing like a ghost. "Only through forgiveness will you ever know freedom from your cursed existence. Do not follow the path of the hapless human and live a life defined by your past."
"Do not cling to old hatreds."
Suddenly there is a blade in Testament's hand, and he is swinging at the place that Nightwolf stands. But by the time the strike takes shape, the shaman's image is already disappearing. And so... whoosh! The blade passes through the air harmlessly. Out of sheer frustration at being unable to hit Nightwolf, Testament growls, the sound swelling into a bestial roar!
He soon calms, though, as the raven tucks its head under his chin, with little more than quickened breaths to tell of the rage that had just passed. After a moment, "...You... you're right, Tset. He's... he's just like them." It sounds like a litany he's wrapping about himself for comfort. "I have to keep going... I can't stop now. It's the only way to stop it...."
Log created on 12:26:59 01/14/2015 by Nightwolf, and last modified on 18:15:34 01/14/2015.