Level 21 ~ Andrew cont’d

“You know, I could destroy you.” Naomi glared up at Andrew as he walked toward her and the air in the camp started becoming heavier and the shadows darkened.

“That was true of your father too, and things didn’t turn out so well for him.” Andrew tightened his two-handed grip on Banisher. As soon as Naomi attacked he would be ready to counter and finish the demon off. It’d be self-defense.

Naomi’s wings unfurled and she leapt to her feet as dark energies began coursing over her arms to her hands, “Think your luck will hold up a second time, Demon Hunter?!”

“Both of you stop it!” Vixie roared as she leapt to her feet between Andrew and Naomi, spreading her arms. “Nobody’s going to kill anyone!” As Vixie turned on Andrew he saw Vixie’s eyes had shifted to a leopard’s and her teeth were sharp now.

“Vixie, she’s a demon. Only evil can come from her continued existence.” Andrew’s voice was hard and his left eye glowed while he kept Banisher ready to strike once he could convince Vixie to step aside.

But then the air got lighter and the shadows resumed their normal depth, “That’s why my mother died… Isn’t it?” Naomi’s head was hung and she looked at her feet, wings drooped. “Giving birth to demons isn’t natural… So when my father wanted more like me… And I couldn’t stop him…”

Vixie fell to her knees to put her hands bracingly on Naomi’s trembling shoulders, “No! Don’t ever blame yourself for that!”

Tears were streaming down Naomi’s face from her big green eyes, darker than Vixie’s, just like when Vixie defeated her back in the Silver Temple. But she was looking past Vixie at Andrew. “That’s what you were saying though, right? It doesn’t matter whether I’m good or bad myself, evil will always follow me because I’m a demon? Everybody hated mommy for deciding to raise me…”

Vixie looked back in time to see Andrew give one slow nod of affirmation. He wasn’t sure what Naomi was trying to pull, but no feigned display of emotion was going to hide her true nature from him. He was too well trained for that. The moment Vixie let go of Naomi’s shoulders, the girl collapsed to a sobbing heap on the ground.

“How dare you, Andrew?!” Vixie leapt up into Andrew’s face with a snarl.

Andrew removed Oracle from around his neck and set it into Banisher’s hilt, charging the blade with holy energy. “It’s true, Vixie. I’ve never heard of a demon that didn’t want to spread evil and suffering—but, intention aside, all of them do.”

“Troll dung!” Vixie spat as her claws sprang out of her fingertips; apparently she wasn’t going to bother equipping Heart and Ghost. “Just because most demons choose to do evil doesn’t mean it automatically follows all of them no matter what!”

“Maybe it would be better to just die…” Naomi had reined her sobs back to a quavering sniffle, “I don’t want anyone else to die because of me.”

Andrew focused on increasing the energy in Banisher for a decisive strike. If the demon was bluffing he had no qualms about calling that bluff. And if against all odds she wasn’t bluffing, well killing her would still be the merciful thing to do.

“You don’t really want to die, do you?” Vixie crouched back down with a hand gently on Naomi’s shoulder, but kept the other hand raised and claws pointed back at Andrew.

Still sniffling, Naomi shook her head. “Life hurts a lot, but I still have fun sometimes…”

As Vixie pulled Naomi into a comforting hug, Andrew lowered Banisher to rest on the ground. Apparently this wasn’t going to be his opening. “You know, with your power you could probably help a whole lot of people.”

Naomi stopped crying into Vixie’s shoulder long enough to look at her. Apparently both of them had forgotten Andrew was there. “But what if I do the wrong thing? What if more people get hurt?”

“From what you’ve told me, your mother was a truly good person.” Vixie smiled and began petting Naomi’s hair soothingly, “So just think about what your mother would do, and I’m sure you won’t go wrong.”

“Are you really sure?”

“Positive.”

Andrew sighed and removed Oracle from Banisher, hanging the crossroad back around his neck and the blade on his back.

“You’re not going to kill me?” Naomi actually sounded hopeful and not just curious this time.

“I guess not yet.” Andrew shook his head and turned away to look for the trail of the black dragon they’d been tracking into the marsh.

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