Deran's sword hits the helmet of the guard. Knocking the man out. Just enough damage to please his employer, but not to stain his soul. That part comes later.
A knock from Deran to draw their attention. No one comes to the door. That's just part of the game. Deran rounds the house grabbing a stone, flinging it into the window. The sound of shattering glass. Only for Deran to continue walking past the next corner. He picks up another rock. He throws the rock through another window. Screams from the people within satisfies Daren. He breaks down three more windows. Finally his favorite part. A man runs out carrying a sword.
“I Challenge you for your title!” The man points the sword at Deran.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been challenged.” Deran does the same. “Do you know who I am?”
“You're the Mediator.” The cries of the man's family echo from the house. Knowing what is to come to their father. “You're on the wrong side.” In response Deran swings his sword. The man blocks it. The man falls to the ground. “I didn’t kill her!”” The man yells, crawling back, away from Deran. Deran raises his sword.
“Some expert.” Deran whispers, his sword rammed threw his chest. Blood stains the grass crimson.
“I transfer my soul to the Mediator.” the man says. A stainless dove rises from the man. Soaring into Deran.
Stainless! The man was stainless. He was promised, assured that the man wasn’t stainless. It’s impossible. His employer had proof. Irrefutable proof! This man should be stained. Derans surprise turns to rage. His employer lied! I should’ve said no. I should’ve left it to the judge.
“Get away from my father!” The girl held her father's sword shaking. He couldn’t kill her. Enraged Deran jumps up and charges away. Away from the screams of his family. Away from the pain. Don’t think, don’t think. Hide it away, get paid. It’s your job to settle disputes. That's what he did. No, the man played a trick on him. Deran settles his rage. Forcing it down.
Deran slows to a walk. Following the road to a small house. Windows bricked up. Weeds growing in between the cobblestones. Imperfect in every way. Just like his soul. The door creaks as Deran opens it. Floor boards split open by weeds. An envelope lays on a table. His payment.
Instead of opening it Deran goes to his room. Laying down on his bed. Well the blankets that make up his bed. Ever so slowly drifting off to sleep.
Nightmares start to attack his soul. Crying from the family of those he’s killed. The disputes he’s settled, the ones that have stained his soul. Deran wakes with tears in his eyes. Derans expression quickly turns to stone. He gathers up the envelope on the table. Throwing it aside, where an entire stack of envelopes lay, all unopened.
That man, he couldn’t have killed the girl. It’s impossible to clean your soul. He was stainless. Deran leaves his run down house. He knew where the crime took place, everyone does.
Deran knows he’s there when he spots a group of guards. They were guarding a single room house. It looked nice. But Deran had a job to do. He steps back melting into the shadows. Raising his dark hood. Closing his eyes Deran focuses on his soul. Black, stained completely black. Well almost black. Specks of white sparkling like stars in the night. Deran admires them, before drawing upon a few of them. Turning them gray. Along with his skin.
Using the shadow’s he sneaks past the guards. Deran stands in the shadows of the door. Inspecting the door. There was no way it was broken down. Maybe the windows? A quick glance around shows no windows broken. So someone she knew.
“And who might you be?” A young woman pokes him in the back. Her skin and hair were gray. A uniform marks her as an investigator.”Some people would assume you to be the killer.” The gray in the girl's hair turns to blonde. Color slowly returns to her skin.
“I’m not the killer. Just an interested civilian.”
“Yeah sure you are, you're going to come with me.”
“Sure, do you know who did this?” The girl guides Deran away from the scene. Deran lets his color seep back into him. The girl takes Deran to a white building. The investigators offices. Inside A group of people stand in their dark colored investigators uniforms.
“Come this way.” The woman shows Deran to a questioning room. Deran takes a seat as the woman shuts the door. A couple minutes later she comes back. This girl she acts just like, no don’t think about it.
“My name is Marie, What’s yours?”
“You don’t need to know that.”
“Okay, then what were you doing at the crime scene?”
“Settling a dispute.”
“One that includes you killing someone.”
“No, the dispute about who killed the girl. Just like you.”
“Okay, Then what do you know?”
“The killer was someone the girl knew.”
“How do you know that?”
“The door wasn’t broken down and no windows were broken.”
“Who says no one picked the lock?”
“They would have to be an expert, there was no marks on the side of the door handle, where one would usually leave a mark when picking a lock.” The girl walks out of the room with no more questions.
Deran sits in the room waiting, for hours. Investigators coming in and out, Trying their hands at cracking Deran.Deran doesn’t give them anything. Eventually the girl comes back.
“We have no reason to believe you to be guilty. You are free to go.” While on his way out Deran listens to the investigators. Hoping to hear who they think killed the girl. Instead he hears the investigators talk about a new murder. A man killed by the Mediator. A new hunt, well a new incentive to catch Deran.
Then he gets what he wants. The one who killed the girl was dressed in white, and the killed girl's eyes were scooped out.. The evidence that he was looking for. The one that will let him settle the dispute within him.
“You know who did it, don’t you.” Marie accuses him.
“No I don’t.”
“I can help, I promise.”
“I told you, I don’t know a thing.” Marie stalks off at those words. As does Deran. He knows where he must go. He knows what he must do. The dispute that lay unsettled has waited long enough.
Deran walks back home savering the feeling of success. But fear of what to come. Pulling out a chest, Deran walks back out of his house. Only to see Marie.
“Here I thought you didn’t know anything.”
“So what, for once the All knowing Mediator doesn’t know something.”
“I don’t know what your saying.” Deran says, keeping his voice even.
“Yes you do. I have evidence that you are the Mediator.”
“Well lets see it then.” Marie pulls out a drawing, showing a sketch of him.
“I asked the family if they were willing to describe the Mediator. The mother almost fainted as one of her daughters said she could.” Marie gives Deran a knowing look.
“You shouldn’t have come alone.” Deran says, grabbing Marie and pulling her into his house. Throwing her to the ground Deran pulls out a dagger. Putting it to her neck. Dropping his chest.
“Someone will catch you eventually.” This girl reminds me of her. Deran hears a girl's laugh. What would she have wanted. I’ve already failed her. What would she care if he didn't listen again.
“I can’t.” Deran says. “Fine!” he yells out. Knocking Marie out with a jab from his dagger handle. Walking away Deran grabs the chest on the ground. Opening it only when he was in front of his brother's house. A knife, the used to kill his wife. Memories of his brother's confesion rack his mind. He couldn’t kill him then but maybe he could now.
Deran stands there, uncertainty freezing him. Standing in front of a large house. The yard is pristine, the door inlaid with gold. “This is what I do.” Deran whispers.
He charges in. Knowing what he must do. His brother’s dagger in his hand. Deran changes his skin to gray. No guards posted. How unusual. Daren walks through the shadow. Expecting to see guards posted anywhere.
There is none. There isn’t even any furniture. What did his brother do to their house? Deran gets to the master room. Breaking it down he finds his brother. Wearing white clothes stained red. Deran takes a step into his brother's room. Kicking a glass bottle. An empty wine bottle, no not one five.
“Brother, please save me. I killed the girl. I I was hired to kill her.” Daren’s brother says. Hollow eyes look at Daren. Deran stands at the door, the dagger at his side.
“Who hired you?”
“I only ever heard her voice.”
Deran steps forward raising his dagger. “Why did you hire me to kill the guy?”
“I didn’t, it was my friend who did, he showed you his soul. For me.” Deran takes another step forward. He was close enough to kill his brother. He plunges the dagger for his brother's heart.
He freezes. He can’t do this. Not to his own family. He drops the dagger. Reaching for his brother. Daren pulls him into a hug. “Tearen, I forgive you.” his brother starts to sobb.
“This time I didn’t come alone.” Daren jumps as Marie puts a dagger to his back. “So this is the man who killed the girl last night.” She points at Tearen.
“No, that was me.” Daren says. Looking up to see multiple investigators, Marie smiles as She hears Daren say this. Everything starts to click. “Under your instructions.” A moment of shock flashes across her face. It was the only confirmation he needed.
“I never told you.”
“You're right you didn’t, but your expression did.” Daren kicks Marie’s dagger out of her hand. The other investigators take a step back as Daren tackles her to the ground. They roll around each trying to get the advantage of the other. Punches aimed to do the most damage. Daren ends up under Marie pinned to the ground. The dagger Daren dropped by his head. Marie reaches for it.
Only for it to disappear in front of her. Tearen had reacted just fast enough to get his hands on the blade. He plunges it into Maries heart. Her soul is so dark that it darkens the room they are in. Just before the other investigators are able to tackle him.
Daren pushes Marie off of him. Getting up, getting ready to fight.. “ No brother, leave me. You don’t need to get captured either!” Investigators start to approach Daren. Daren looks into his brother's eyes. “Let me give you the justice you deserve.” his brother mouths. The investigators charge forward. Daren jumps out of their way. Taking some punches, and handing some out. lHe searches for his chance. Daren charges forward spotting a gap in their offensive.
Daren swerves in and out of the offensive. The door was wide open. Daren dives through it. Investigators clamor to catch up. They were too far away to do anything. Daren dives out of the window. Melding into the shadows. With one more thing he must do.
Standing in front of a house with windows boarded up. And a patch of dirt wear the owner had died. Daren feels at the envelope in his pocket. Daren approaches the door. Pushing the envelope under the door.
“Why did you do it?” a girls voice asked.
“I was trying to serve out justice. I never knew how flawed I could be.”
“I will kill you someday.”
“I will look forward to that. But for now, know that I am done pretending that it is my job to settle disputes. It never was, and it never will be.”