Challenge: alternate universe
Rating: R (not just yet, not here)
Requirements: Write a prologue to an AU story, including at least 3 of the major CCS cast. There must be one death.
Tease: In a desperate bid for his sister's safety, Touya puts himself in a compromising situation.
In the shadow of his domain, all feared him. From one end of the valley to the other, all land cradled by the frost-encrusted mountains he ruled, and there were none who would oppose him. The land was fruitful but demanding, and for all their lives the people struggled to wrest a living from it. Always he watched them and they knew it, shivered at his name and bowed before his power.
Pitiful, wretched humans.
Their tenuous grasp on survival bred in them fear and mistrust, and he watched them turn on one another, destroy themselves and their future in the throes of pointless hysteria. He was surprised and mildly interested, one year, when a teacher in one village stepped forward and spoke of education and reason.
He was not surprised when the teacher was executed late that winter. How the people despised anything new; it incited a loathing like no other. Nor was he surprised that the teacher's daughter had been 'coincidentally' chosen in the village lottery several weeks later. Faced with his demand of one young female every spring, those with influence no doubt leapt on the chance to spare their own girls and at the same time rid themselves of an unwanted orphan.
That last thought ran through his mind as Yue looked upon their offering, kneeling on the platform a few steps away with her head bowed and eyes down. Evenings were still chilly so early in the season and she shivered in her thin white ceremonial robe, though almost certainly in fear and not of cold. Her clean scent and braids studded with tiny white flowers spoke of the care the village had gone to to present their gift, as was expected. She was small and thin yet, but on the eve of ripening to physical maturity and an ideal age.
Almost as an afterthought, he nodded in a satisfied manner and the village priest beamed from his place in front of the crowd. An audible murmur of relief circled the clearing, broken by a surprised shout in the back. Another followed it, and the violent sounds of a scuffle. This was a variation in the ritual offering, and curiously Yue turned his gaze on the source of disturbance within the crowd. Several shouted in alarm and tried to subdue this newcomer but he was too strong, or too desperate. Savagely he fought his way out of the throng and sprinted for the platform. The offering hardly had time to look up, clearly as surprised as anyone else, before the boy threw himself on her and clutched her tightly to his chest.
"Touch my sister and I'll kill you," he snarled, panting hard, black eyes snapping with determination. He paid no attention to the uproar of the village people behind him and neither did Yue, so taken aback by this rebellious display that at first he could only raise his eyebrows.
"It is not wise to defy your lord and master," he advised, but the boy neither moved nor relinquished his grip on his sister.
"My lord," the priest quavered in horror, "please forgive our village of this audacity. If I had but known he would break his restraints -"
"Silence," Yue said crisply, and the clearing was instantly quiet. He could see now the evidence of bruising across the boy's chest and arms, the shredded remains of rope still tied around each wrist. This was the other child of the teacher then, though he resembled his sister only slightly. The determination did not leave his eyes but with the sudden hush he seemed to become more aware of himself, and the dangerous situation he'd created. Warily he stood, pulling the girl to her feet, and tried to position himself as a shield between her and Yue without letting go. Never in their history had anyone resisted Yue's prerogative over their females; once the lottery had chosen, no one would dare incur his wrath for the sake of a mere girl. That this boy should not only resist but threaten him, at once astonished and infuriated Yue.
"I should kill you where you stand," he said coolly, allowing a little of his anger to show in his glittering eyes. The boy flinched but did not move or drop his gaze, chin held high and prideful.
"Nii-chan…" the girl whimpered from somewhere behind her brother, her voice reduced to a whisper by sheer fright.
"Shh," the other one soothed, speaking over his shoulder without looking away. "It's okay, Sakura, I'm here. I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
Yue's eyes flashed dangerously. "Do you presume to 'let'? You are my subject, you allow me nothing. Your insolence invites a suffering that you are not prepared to handle."
The air around him had begun to crackle ominously as he spoke, and he could sense the growing terror in the watching crowd. In the boy, too, he felt fear rekindle along with that desperation. He finally understood just how close he was to a painful death, with no power to stop it, and lowered his eyes to the wooden planks.
"She's all I have left," he said quietly, far too low for their audience to hear. "I'll do anything."
The reluctant subservience mollified some of Yue's irritation, and appraisingly he looked over the boy again. He was quite tall, nearly Yue's own height, several years older than his sister but still young. A thin and cool breeze whipped that black hair out of his eyes when he looked up again, his finely chiseled face set with determination.
He was afraid, yes, but unlike the villagers refused to cower before him. That spirit he must have inherited from his father, but he was younger, more brash and full of rebellious fight.
How long would it take, Yue wondered, to break him? He turned to the village priest.
"I'll take them both."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Don't own 'em, and never will.