Black-Heart: Van

The darkness swam around Aaron.  He was cold.  But strangely he was comfortable.  As his mind started to come into focus, floating up out of the darkness.  The memory of what had last happened to him came back in a sudden burst and he pried open his eyes, sitting up.

His vision was blurry, but quickly came into focus.  Blinking, he took in his surroundings.  Strangely he didn’t appear to be in any current danger as was his first thought.  Surveying the room he was in, he took stock of his surroundings.

The last thing I remember is blacking out… he thought to himself.  How did I end up here?  And where is here?

The room he was in was carved out of the blue-grey stone of the mountain, so he knew he was still somewhere in Douglas’ Bluff.  Whether that was a good or a bad thing was still to be determined.

Looking down, he ran his hand over the rough-spun blanket he’d been covered with.  He was in a bed, a stone bed.  His jacket had been folded neatly under his head as a pillow.  Raising his hand he took a look at the bandages around his palm.  Picking at the knot keeping them in place, he pulled the off to look at the gaping slash across his palm.  The blood had stopped flowing from it a while ago, and looked as if it was starting to knit itself back together from the inside.

Tightly wrapping the bandages back around his palm, his took stock of what else was in the room.  It looked like a small living space to him.  A couple of chairs, a table and wash-basin.  A small area to prepare food.  They were sparse living conditions, but suitable for someone who needed to pack up and leave at a moments notice.  There were windows too and a door.  Checking to make sure he still had all his belongings on him, Aaron swung his feet off the bed and stood up.  He was barefoot, his boots had been placed by the door, but the only other thing he was missing was his pistol.

He could feel the presence hovering in the back of his mind, waiting.

His body was weak still, he could feel it.  But he had no time.  He had to get away from here and back to his ship before anyone came to check on him.

Slipping on his boots, he edged over to the window peeking out.  What he saw surprised him.  Outside was a small court-yard.  It too was made of stone, carved from the mountain, but it was open to the evening sun shining down into it at an angle.  Around it’s edge, butted up against each other were small square houses carved out of stone, ringing the court-yard.  At the moment their occupants were either away or inside, save for one.

The swordsman stood in the center of the court-yard, his sheath in one hand, sword in the other.  He was stepping through the motions of swinging, slashing and attacking with his sword, each movement gracefully flowing into the next.  Aaron paused watching him.  He could see the power in each stroke of the sword.

So he’s my captor… thought Aaron.  He took one more look around the court-yard.  The swordsman was the only other person in sight.  If he was to escape, he needed to do it while the man had his back turned.

Reaching out, Aaron tried the door.  It was unlocked.  Slowly, he pulled it open and slid through into the daylight.  He was about to take a step, when the clink of the sword sliding into it’s sheath made him stop, frozen mid-motion.

“It’s good to see you’re up and about.”

Aaron looked over at the swordsman.  He’d sheathed his sword and had turned to face Aaron.  The man was good.  That much he could tell.  But how good was yet to be determined.

His eyes strayed to the sword.  Would he be able to overpower him if it came to that?

“Take a seat.  You’re safe here for now.  The men from earlier will be looking for you after that uproar you caused,” offered the swordsman gesturing toward a table and chairs set just to the right of the door, under the window.

Aaron looked over, on the table sat his pistol, it’s polished black finish glinting in the waning sunlight.

“Who are you and what do you want?” asked Aaron, going straight to the point.

The swordsman causally walked over to the table and took one of the chairs, sitting down.  He leaned his sword against the edge of the table.  “My name is Van Knight.  I want to talk with you.”

Aaron studied the swordsman, Van, for a moment.  His blonde hair and striking blue eyes caught Aaron’s attention immediately.  Blonde, blue-eyed humans were a sight few and far between.  The recessive genes for those traits were rarely passed along and as such, blondes had become fewer in numbers, especially blue-eyed ones.  Those with blonde hair had either had their genes spliced or had dyed their hair.  His looked natural though and bordered on white, it was so fair.

Grunting in response, Aaron stayed where he was standing.

“First off, you’re not a captive here.  After you collapsed I decided it was best to take you away from there,” explained Van.  He reached over to the center of the table, wrapping his hand around Aaron’s pistol.

Aaron tensed, fearing the worst.  Would the curse take him over?  Would he be affected by it?  A memory of when he’d handed the weapon to Jay surfaced and he suddenly wondered if this man was the same as him.

Van didn’t even flinch as he picked up the pistol and held it up.  “Secondly, where did you get this?”

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