As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
Mountains are always higher when you must climb them and the sun conquering the darkness is easier when the sun is doing it.
The Dark Stranger
The Year when Teresa of the faint smile Arose
Snow does not seem so cold from a distance, but tracks have no warmth or coldness to them when they are left in hot sand or frigid snow.
Clare had been sent to the Farther Reaches upon a mission and the boy was following along. He did not notice until she mentioned to him, that all Claymore tracks looked different from the others. He still could not discern the difference, but Clare could in the rarified vision which she possessed.
What the boy could see though were the tracks of the Voracious Eater, and now an Awakened Being, traveling up the mountain. The Dark Stranger somehow always knew where the creatures would be.
They had been climbing for days now, Clare striking fires upon rocks by the steel of her sword, and Rocky huddling beside her in the cold.
It was at day three, that the tracks changed. It was not that the tracks changed of the creatures, but a new monster had joined them and Clare looked intently upon them and shook her head.
She would not answer the boy in his asking whose they were. She simply squinted her eyes and peered up the mountain as if to see something which was not there, which could not be there, and yet the tracks told them a Claymore was there.
Clare was ranked 64th in the Claymores which was the lowest of ranks. Inside her flowed the blood of the number 1, who the Dark Stranger had placed inside of her when one of the Claymores awakened to become a beast, and had cut off the arms and then the head of Teresa of the Faint Smile, in a moment of her kindness.
Claymores were not to have hearts. They were to have swords to kill the Yoma, and kicks to children who attempted to cling to them. That was the reality of the Claymore and the fiction of Clare, for she had saved the boy as she had no heart, and it was Teresa of the Faint Smile who had saved her...........
"Clare," the boy called out to her, as he always did at the worst times to distract her, and always pointing out the most obvious of things, "The tracks are gone. What happened? Where did they go?"
It was day number four.
Clare puzzled if the creatures had wings and taken flight or was this a ruse to a trap to kill her?
As they approached, Clare saw what had taken place, another set of tracks had joined them from the opposite side of the mountain, and they had the look of Claymore, like the Claymore who had spoken to the boy when she had been ambushed by 3 of the Voracious Eaters.
This was a male, but no males were said to have existed among the Claymores, as the pleasure of awakening was too much for the males in it took on a sexual nature of pleasure, and the males always gave in, and that is what made them inferior and worse than a problem because they became the problem they were created to fight in the Yoma, the cannibals of humanity.
There was that gibberish of the boy's story of Holy Waters and Oils, the taste upon her lips of that bread and wine, and how it did not make sense in somehow these things had kept this Claymore from awakening.
She could not ignore how her heart beat differently, how her intent had changed, how serenity had become part of her, instead of the inner Yoma Human struggle, all from the healing this male Claymore had administered to her.
She was lost in her thoughts of the Healer, when the boy pointed out the thing she was seeing. A great and violent fury had broken out upon the mountain. It was an avalanche of snow, but this avalanche was cascading up the mountain at times and then plunging back down, going sideways, swirling and filled with clashes of lightning which shone in the twilight skies.
Clare knew what this was, it was the clash of two Claymores in battle with the dull thud of their blades slicing a Voracious Eater and the whining sing of Claymore blades slicing an Awakened Being.
"Stay here," she ordered the boy, and was gone up the mountain in her own whirlwind. The feel of the auras of these four in battle felt like nothing Clare had ever experienced. It was electric, like steel shards cutting into her skin. She could feel them, and their awareness now of her as she approached.
It was that feeling which stopped her. She knew one of them, but that was a knowledge which could not be. It was that same questioning she had known when she witnessed the Claymore's tracks first in the snow. They were the tracks of a ghost which she carried deep within her and that made Clare all she was.
A terrible roar came down the mountain and she felt the end of existence of a Voracious Eater. Its corpse slid down the mountain in a plume of an icy shroud as she watched it plunge over a cliff.
Then there was a shriek, and the existence of an Awakened Being had ceased. There was no icy plume for Clare to watch, but just the curtain of snow settling out of the fog and two Claymores appearing as figures upon this stage.
It was the male Claymore, the Healer, the one she had felt ministering to her wounds. He was on his haunches resting upon his sword, glinting in the night by the light of the stars. It was the second figure which made her gasp and freeze like a pool of water, for she knew this number one, who was and yet could not be, but now was and is. This was Teresa of the Faint Smile, perched upon the corpse of the Awakened Being.
Teresa was examining her sword dripped in blood, like a woman with polished nails.
She heard Teresa speak inside her and outside her at the same time and that brought Clare to her senses. Somehow the Healer had vanished as her gaze searched for him, and somehow Teresa of the Faint Smile was before her.
"I have taught you bad habits my child," Teresa said to her. "I allow this human waif you were to follow me, and now you have allowed a boy to follow you. My blood in your veins is a testament that the Claymore lives more than by bread alone".
Clare was still in shock, as Teresa walked past her and down the mountain, as the once waif followed the Claymore she knew was dead.
Teresa of the Faint Smile continued chatting as they walked along, answering more questions that what even Clare could think to ask.
As they reached Rocky, Teresa turned to her and said, "It is that Healer. He took the parts of me and by a God greater than the one we prayed to, brought me back to life to a Way of thinking I had never thought, and now I am here to stay as you have been changed too."
Rocky interrupted, "Did you see that Clare, did you see that!"
Teresa of the Faint Smile turned to Clare and sighed, "I did not remember your being that annoying as a waif", and then added, "but then you could not talk as a child".