The torrent of rain abated as the night wore on, the time uncertain until the gray storm clouds cleared away slightly. Then, the pale, luminous moon could be seen nearing the opposite horizon from which it had risen, and more clouds disappeared as if all the sky needed to clear itself was a brief glimpse of the moon. However, in certain portions of the city, a light drizzle still fell, as if the gods were mourning the loss of another life.
Certainly, Giselle mourned the loss of her elder sister, also a Nephilim - in their language, angels on earth
. These days, many Nephilim children had so little divine blood in them that it was near to negligible. Those like Vivien had been a treasure, for pure-blooded Nephilim had gifts that humans thought existed only in movies and books and fairytales. Few of their kind knew where the others were - with Paris grown so large, and with the murderous Anonyme
still making free with the city, most had gone into the hiding or left Paris altogether. Those who had remained had stayed out of necessity, or out of some false sense of denial - that couldn't happen to us
But it had, and it continued to, every day.
Giselle scrubbed at her wet cheeks with the backs of her hands, her eyes painfully bright as she wrapped Vivien's long coat tighter around her body. It was her second favorite.
Her favorite, Viven had been wearing when Anonyme
Giselle brushed back glossy black hair and huddled underneath the overhang, numbly watching drops of water fall from the sky into the puddles at her feet. She had run out of tears when she'd walked into her home, only to discover Vivien lying in a large pool of her own blood. She had stumbled close, eyes wide and unblinking, unable to scream at this living nightmare, staring at the almost black pool of shiny, congealing liquid underneath her sister. Giselle had fallen by her sister’s side and pulled the weapon out. Six inches of steel, drenched in crimson. And then she had begun crying, unable to stop, whimpering for Vivien to wake up.
Then the sirens had begun ringing, and Giselle vaguely recalled cars screeching to a stop in front of their apartment building. And then she had run unhesitatingly, because she had pulled the murder weapon from her sister's warm body and had their shared blood on her hands and clothes. She didn't need to be in a right state of mind to know that she would be suspected and held accountable. Their parents had long been out of the picture; though she had integrated quite comfortably into mortal society, Giselle was close to no one, and had no one who would be willing to bail her out of jail.
So she had run. What other choice had she?
But she also had nowhere to go. Which was why, at that moment, Giselle still had her sister's long black coat wrapped around her body, the dagger wrapped in silk and safely concealed in one pocket, and her hands raw and red with obsessive scrubbing in the river. Her sister's blood was no longer evident on her person; the memory was stronger by far, and even when Giselle could no longer see the dark crimson stains on her hands and clothes with her eyes, her mind would not believe her.
Giselle lurched away from her meager shelter under the bridge, and began walking slowly. Her subconscious vaguely registered that the night was fast disappearing, with the moon already behind the horizon and the faint light of the sun beginning to spread over the night's shadows. But her mind could only think Why? Why? How did he find us?
like a broken record that could not be fixed.
Ten years ago, both of her parents had disappeared, leaving Vivien and the then-child that was Giselle to fend for themselves. They were the first among the disappearances – soon, it became dangerous to step outside alone, or after night fell. And then, just a few months ago, the nightmare truly began. Bodies of people with Nephilim blood in them began turning up mangled, butchered... tortured. It was in the news – the serial killer Anonyme
, who seemed the perfect killer. There was never any trace of who the murderer was. It was almost as if the Nephilim had been killed by some strange sorcery.
But always, always, there was a stiletto. And engraved in the hilt, that pattern that struck fear into every Nephilim who knew what that symbol meant: Le Monstrum.
"What do I do, Vivien?" Her hunched form stopped in the middle of the path as she gritted her teeth and clutched her head between her arms, trying to ignore the terrible pounding of her headache. Her home was gone - with all the police crawling around the place, she would never be able to get back inside, to retrieve precious mementos or, more practically, things of necessity like clothing, soap, and some kind of weapon to defend herself with. Her parents were long gone. After what happened, no friend would open their door for Giselle, who might be next on Anonyme
's hit list. She was alone. She had nowhere to go. Nobody could help her.
That meant that she had to protect herself, and find someone who could hunt down the person responsible."The Lux Veritatis..."
The whisper almost seemed like a figment of imagination, but when she recognized the melodious voice, her head snapped up anxiously. Giselle's jade eyes searched her surroundings wildly, left and right, her flicker of hope dying when she saw nothing but the glistening cobblestones of the ground and the coming dawn. She wanted to lay down on the cold, wet cobblestones of the Paris ghetto and stop moving - stop caring about trying to find Anonyme
, stop trying to find refuge, just... stop.
Dull, lifeless eyes.
A sea of blood.Anonyme
splashed over the east wall...
Remembering how the murderer had left her sister spurred Giselle's movements again.The Lux Veritatis. I will find them first.
She clutched that thought tightly to herself as her feet began moving - first one step, then another, and another - to find shelter, and then to find the one who could help her find vengeance.