Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
Title: Forgotten Memories
Chapter 11: No Remedy for the Past
Resting in my coffin gives me time to think. Time to reflect over the past, present, and future. Granted, I have never once done any one of those things before, now might be as good a time as any.
I slowly blink and let my eyes adjust to the darkness. Running my hand through my hair, I think back on what happened only a few minutes ago.
To think that one day I, Prince Laharl, would actually kiss someone. And further more… enjoy it. Something must be wrong with me. Probably some sort of terminal illness…
Letting out a sigh, I drop my hand and stare at the lid of my coffin.
Is there something wrong with it? I've been against the idea of falling in love with someone for so long now. Yet… look at me. I'm awake at night thinking about a demon vassal girl, who I met barely over two weeks ago. Why!
I slam my fist on the cover of my coffin, knocking it over and allowing the light to seep into my resting place. Snarling at the invading light, I sit up and take a deep breath.
What the hell is it about her that's affecting me like this? I know I was just joking before… but did I actually mean it? DO I love her? Damn it all! How the hell should I know? I might actually do.
The glow of lava pits below flicker off the stone walls, dancing back and forth. Sighing to myself, I sit up and stare forward.
I need to get out of here. I need… some fresh air.
My footsteps sound throughout the hallways as I take calming breaths to myself.
In the past, I've always been sure of myself. Of my situation, my position, and most importantly of who I am. Now nothing's clear to me. It's like I've been cast into a fogged forest that I can't find my way out of. It's not like I'm regretting it or anything, but damn this is annoying!
After a few minutes of walking I find myself in the middle of the commerce room. Looking around, I see that most of the shops have been closed at this point. Not like it matters though, they always wake up early to open up to start business again. I've seen them do so on the few sleepless nights I've had. Nights such as these, when my mind is racked with thought and I can't seem to rest no matter what I do.
"Man… there's got to be something for me to do."
Checking up on Etna was actually one of the thoughts that came across my mind. But that situation would be too awkward for my liking. If she would ask me why I'm there, then what would I say? That I was bored? Worried? Curious? No matter how you look at it, I would just seem clingy. No… I'll just wait to see her in the morning, even if I don't manage to get any sleep tonight.
Looking up from the stone floor, I see a familiar blue swirl meet my gaze only to watch it fade away.
Ah yes… the Dimensional Gatekeeper. Luckily for her, she only has to work at night when the castle's gates have been closed. That must be quite an easy job. Or at least compared to being a future Overlord.
Blinking, I peer closer to see that she wasn't actually paying attention to her surroundings at all. Rather than focusing on what was in front of her, she seemed to have this pondering look on her face.
I shrug and head towards the disappearing vortex, curious to see what's up.
"Oy, Sophia! What are you doing so spaced out?"
My voice snaps her out of her thoughts, as her eyes focus on me.
"Ah, Prince! Sorry… I just had something on my mind."
I roll my eyes at her blatantly obvious comment.
"Any idiot can see that! I'm asking what the hell's on your mind?"
She gives a smile to me, unaffected by my harsh tone.
It seems that more and more vassals these days are getting used to my attitude towards all them. That's not good. I should be inspiring terror and respect in the hearts of my loyal servants. Not amusement.
"I was actually wondering about a certain vassal of yours. She told me she had some business to take care of in the Stellar Graveyard and went off by herself. I can't help but wonder what she would be doing there at this time of night."
After hearing her say that, I widen my eyes and am overcome by a feeling of restlessness.
There's only one vassal I've ever had, there's no question about that. But why the hell would Etna want to go there? And more over, why would she keep this information from me? Something doesn't feel right about this.
I narrow my eyes and glare at the wall in front of me.
"Oy, Sophia! I want you to reopen the portal to the Graveyard right now."
She looks at me with a startled expression, shaken out of her normally calm and collected appearance.
"Prince, is something the matter?"
"I... I don't know. But I think there is. In fact, I'm sure there is. Leaving the castle in the middle of the night, without saying a word… It's very unlike her."
Sophia taps her chin, switching to a more thoughtful look.
"Now that you mention it, she did seem in a hurry. Might this be… something I should inform the king about this?"
Feeling even more restless, I draw my sword and aim it at the wall.
"I don't care what you tell that old man, all I want is a portal to the Stellar Graveyard opened right here and now before I have bust a hole through these walls!"
Those words were more than enough to get the message through to Sophia and got her working on the spell necessary to open a portal to the Stellar Graveyard.
Tightening my grip around my sword, I glare at the wall as the portal slowly begins to form and swirl.
Damn it… This better just be my imagination acting up. Who knows, maybe she's meeting some sort of secret lover instead.
I sweatdrop at the thought and shake my slowly head with my hand over my face.
Then again, I think I'm better off hoping that there actually is something wrong and that I'll make it in time. The idea of her having somebody else doesn't sit well with me at all.
Phew, Sophia sure saved my ass on that one. If it weren't for her, I'd have to walk all the way here. Hah! No thanks…
Twirling Longinus in my hands, I briefly wonder how the Prince is doing.
I guess he must be asleep by now… Maybe he's dreaming of me? Who knows what sort of naughty things he must be doing to me inside that little dream world of his. Heh, heh!
Walking along I notice bursts of steam geysers erupting through the cracks of the ground. Instead of avoiding them though, I just walk right through it.
After all, what's high pressured steam to the strength of a demon? Hah!
But man is this place boooring! Where the hell is Sid anyway!? Wasn't he supposed to meet me here? I swear… I'm going to kick his ass twice as bad for making me wait.
"Well if it isn't my favorite call girl! You miss me?"
Speaking of the little shit…
I turn my head upward to meet Sid's smirking eyes with a smirk of my own. Of course, this isn't the I'm-glad-to-see-you're-still-alive kind of smirk. This was more around the lines of a I-can't-believe-that-you-need-your-ass-kicked-again kind of smirk with a little you-are-so-getting-this-spear-shoved-up-your-ass-for-involving-my-brother thrown in there.
"Well Sid, I must admit that you're looking better than the last time I saw you. After all, back then you were so charred that you looked like a roasted piece of meat all ready for the Doomsgiving holiday. Only thing that would be missing is the spicing, but then again you've always been rather bland haven't you?"
This time it was Sid's turn to glare, as he jumped down from the pillar he was standing on and landing right in front of me.
"If it weren't for that boyfriend of yours, you'd already be dead or worse. Consider yourself lucky that I'm the one who found you instead of Maderas. He would've done even worse both to you and Aramis. But I guess it doesn't matter since you're about to die soon enough anyway."
I toss my head up in defiance of his tough act.
"Done worse? You make it sound as if you actually had the balls to do something to Aramis in the first place."
Receiving that smirking look from that bastard told me all I needed to know.
Clenching my fist and narrowing my eyes, I point Longinus threateningly at Sid.
"Alright you piece of trash, just what the hell did you do to Arimas!"
He shrugged and smirked at me with his arms across his chest.
"Oh you know… a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and of course we definitely did some of that."
I blink once… then twice… and then my face cringes at the implications of his words.
"What the hell? I had no idea your taste for boys ran that young, Sid. You should really see someone about that. It's definitely not natural. Granted, I always suspected that you preferred the hot dog to the bun, I just didn't expect that you needed to divide your age by four to get the image of just what type of boy you really liked."
As his face flushes red with anger and embarrassment from the implications I threw his way, he clenches his fist and takes a couple of steps forward ready to go on a rant.
"That's not what I was talking about, you idiot! I meant we started using him for a little project of ours, or should I say a project of Maderas. He has a really handy talent that brother of yours. If it weren't for our promise of letting you live a peaceful life in the castle, he wouldn't have lifted a finger to help us. Family love really is something isn't it?"
He begins walking around me in a circle, eyeing me as a cat would a mouse. Maybe cat isn't the right word though. He's more of a snake than anything else. With those little beady eyes of his and the way he always seems to slither up behind you like an unwanted pest.
"I bet you're just dying to know what he helped us with, aren't you?"
Not to mention how he's like a broken record saying the same thing over and over again. Yeah, yeah we get it. You think you're so great hiding behind Maderas's leg like a scarred little dog.
"Well, how about it? Maybe if you beg me I might consider telling you."
I swear he just doesn't know when to shut up. If this keeps up, I may just kill him out of irritation without knowing about the location of Aramis.
"Damn it! Say something already!"
"Huh? Did you say something?"
Sid sneers and stops walking right in front of me.
"You know, I think the time for talk is over anyway! Too bad, Etna! We could've had something! But now it's time for you to die!"
"Uh-huh… that's nice. So before I kick your ass once again, tell where you're hiding Aramis. Don't tell me you were too cowardly to even hold up to that end of the deal."
Growling, he drew out a sword and pointed the tip at me.
"Hah! I may be a maniacal, loathing, ruthless demon, but I'm still a man. I brought your precious little brother along with a couple of cronies, just as an insurance policy."
I cross my arms over my chest in irritation. Even though I expected him to do this, it still annoys me to no end that he'd bring in reinforcements.
He must be one of the biggest cowards in the history of the Netherworld to need "an insurance policy" for a single little girl. But I guess he knows better than anyone that I'm not the same little girl he once knew.
"Heh, I should've known you'd be too scared to hold up your end of the deal. So out with it! Where is he?"
He points up to the tip of column with a rope tied around it, as I follow the rope down to see it wrapped around the feet of a figure with familiar red hair.
Groaning, he slowly opens his red eyes and looks around in confusion. Finally his eyes land on me and widen in recognition.
"Huh? Nee-chan? Why are you upside down?"
I lightly slap my forehead at his silly question.
"Baka, you're the one who's upside down. Or has all that blood that rushed to your head dumbed you down a notch?"
Despite my words, a small smile formed on my face, glad to see he was in one piece.
"How're you feeling, bro?"
"Huh? How am I feeling? That's a good question. Well I could be better. After all, I am being tied upside down in some forsaken cosmic wasteland with a spaceships debris scattered about. What am I doing here again?"
"Uh, yeah… Well there's a good reason for that, little bro. Our good friend Sid, I'm sure you remember that piece of trash hardly worth talking about or giving a second glance, has, in a cowardly decision, decided to use you as a hostage in our battle of grudges."
Despite his position, he cracks a small smile and laughs a little.
"Ah, Nee-chan, you're always getting me involved with your disputes aren't you?"
Slinging Longinus over my shoulder, I turn away from Aramis and stare at Sid.
"Don't worry about those small details, little bro. After all, I'm going to be the one who's busting you out."
I begin walking towards the arrogant prick that has made my life a living hell since I joined Maderas's ranks.
"And not just from here. We're getting out of that slimy wretch Maderas's grasp once and for all! That's a promise!"
Sid smirks and crosses his arms over his chest.
"Hah! If you think it's going to be that easy, you've got another thing coming! You'll find out I actually did keep my word! I said you, Aramis, and myself would be the only living thing out here, but I never said anything about the living dead! I present to you, my undead army of zombie kings!"
"Anyway hang tight, Aramis! I'm going to cut you down!"
"Hey pay attention, damn it! I'm trying to tell you-"
I blink out of confusion and irritation.
"What the? You're still here, Sid? I thought that you would've gone running away to Maderas, trembling in fear behind his cape…"
Hearing those words coming from my smirking mouth, he clenched his fists and pointed at me furiously, as though the gesture would strike me dead.
"The hell I'd run away! I'm going to make you pay for making a fool of me!"
I give a small snort and laugh at the looks of him shaking in anger.
"Haha, I don't even need to do anything. You're dumb enough to make an idiot out of yourself, you shota-con!"
"Damn it! I am seriously going to murder you!"
I roll my eyes, not really concerned with Sid at the moment.
In all honesty, he's more of a lackey than anything else. The real threat I should concern myself with at the moment is Maderas. I don't know whether or not Sid spilled the beans to that vampiric bastard or not, but I should definitely keep my eyes peeled just in case.
Flapping my wings, I rise up to the column that Aramis is tied to and use Longinus to sever the rope. As soon as I do so, Aramis falls to the ground with a big thump. He soon gets up and brushes himself off.
"Ouch… Nee-chan, couldn't you have been a little more careful?"
I smirk and land beside Aramis with the legendary spear slung over my shoulder.
"C'mon Aramis. You're a demon. You should be able to handle a measly 25 foot plummet head first like it was nothing."
Not saying anything, he instead chooses to stare at me with a look that was trying to determine if I was serious or not.
"Ugh, fine, I'm sorry! How's that?"
Aramis cracks a small grin and rubs the back of his head.
Walking over to him, I ruffle his hair affectionately and flash a grin of my own.
"Good because I'm not going to apologize again."
Sid, having lost his temper some time ago for being ignored time and time again, snaps his fingers with a furious look in his eyes.
"Come out my zombie army!"
As if on cue, the ground begins to shake as corpses start breaking through the cracks in the ground with geysers bursting around them.
I smirk and cover my mouth laughing.
"Haha! What the- I can't believe you just used snapping your fingers as a signal. What kind of idiot would use such an outdated and ridiculous method! Hahaha!!"
Wiping away a tear forming in my eye, I look at the number of zombies that had been summoned.
"Well this is certainly quite an army you've accumulated… albeit a weak looking one. Guess it's time to go to work."
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Aramis grab some cover behind the rocks. Getting into to position for fighting, I couldn't help but chuckle to myself.
"He has no idea what he's getting himself into."
So this is the Stellar Graveyard, eh? What the hell is Etna doing here to begin with?
Walking around this pathetic pit, I'm reminded of how stupid humans can really be. Here under the watchful gaze of the cosmos, many humans have sacrificed their already amazingly short lives trying to reach the Netherworld.
"I doubt they'll ever succeed… But then again they can be quite stubborn about getting their way."
Pesky humans… If they're still trying to breach our border by the time I become Overlord, then I'll just put a stop to them once and for all. Wonder why father doesn't just end them… Oh yeah, mother's a human too. I forget that sometimes…
"Well… guess I should start searching for Etna. I still want to know what her reason was for coming here was. If it was something so secret she couldn't tell me, then I should know all the more! After all she's my vassal, I'm entitled to know these kind of things… but then again, she's not just that is she?"
I decide to stop in my tracks for just a little while, feeling a need to think upon that more.
"No… she's definitely not just a vassal, putting aside that vassals actually pay attention to the orders you give them. She's something more than a servant. Maybe even something more than a friend… Argh! The hell with this! I'll think about it later before I drive myself insane standing here talking to myself!"
Deciding to continue walking, I begin once again moving my feet instead of dwelling on my thoughts. However, I'm not so lucky enough as to leave them behind, as I begin thinking about her once again.
"However, I did find it odd that when I found her she was covered in bruises. I'm guessing that she was dealing with both physical and mental abuse. I wonder what it was that made me accept her as a vassal to begin with."
Thinking back on it now, looking at her in that state gave me a strange feeling. One that was hard to identify, and even harder to explain. It was almost as vivid as rage when I saw her covered in bruises, as empathetic as sympathy when I saw her need to become stronger, and as strong as joy when I saw her expression of happiness when I said I would give her the chance she needed.
"What the hell is this feeling called? I wonder... if it could actually be… love…"
The sounds of battle snap me out of my thoughts and realizing where I am once again, I rush toward the top of the hill to view over the presiding battle.
"Hah! Take this!"
As I run upward, I see six zombies rise upward in the air surrounded by a cyclone only to crash back down to the ground when the wind disappears.
"Heh, I'd know that arrogant voice anywhere!"
Finally reaching the top of the hill, I look over to see an army of zombies surrounding a single red headed girl with an outfit that would rival a succubus. There's no doubt about it… that's her.
She snaps her head towards my direction with her eyes open in shock, after impaling a zombie through its head.
"Prince! What are you doing here?"
I cross my arms and smirk down at her, secretly relieved that she was all right.
"Heh… you fool. Did you really think that I wouldn't come to help you?"
She quickly regains her composure and returns a smirk of her own.
"Oh no, I'm sure you would've come running if I called you. After all you are desperately in love with me right?"
I roll my eyes to her arrogant statement, sarcastic or not. Like hell I was going to give her a straight answer, especially in this kind of situation.
"Desperately in love with you? Yeah right. You should try to separate your dreams from reality."
Eh? What was that 'tch' about?
Her eyes widen a bit, slashing another zombie horizontally, before turning back to me.
"Hey… how did you know I was even here?"
Figuring I might as well give her a hand, I jump down the cliff, smashing into the ground. The force from my landing cracks the ground forms small chasms, which sends some zombies plummeting to their doom.
"Like I said before, it's my duty as an Overlord to know everything that goes on. And that goes double when it involves my only vassal."
Dashing forward, I slice three zombies vertically, right down the middle before flipping backwards and landing to where I was.
"Besides, who else is going to save your scrawny arse when you're in trouble?"
I sigh and let my sword drop down a little bit.
"I've known about it ever since the time in the dungeon you know… that you were sent here to infiltrate the castle…"
Damn it! That last attack really took a lot out of me.
With all my energy drained from my Overlord's Wrath, I fall to the floor in half state of consciousness.
Heh, I must look like a fool right now… I can't even open my eyes right now, let alone stand up properly.
"Prince? Prince! Are you okay?"
She sounds pretty worried. Ah, damn it, what am I doing making her worry about me like this?
I feel two cool fingers touch my neck for a few seconds before they are removed.
"Thank god. You're only asleep. You had me worried there."
Oy, oy, don't go killing me off here… Eh? What's that sound?
Focusing my ears, I identify the sound of scrapping on the floor and labored breathing.
"I guess rats really are a pain in the ass to kill after all."
Wha? Who's Etna talking to? Don't tell me one them actually survived! Damn it! If I could just open my eyes…
"Heh, you're the biggest rat here. After all your purpose is to infiltrate the castle and act as our inside man, so to speak. And what exactly did that brat mean when he called you an innocent? Please, you're anything but one!"
What the hell is this punk talking about? Whatever it is, it's already getting on my nerves.
I struggle to open my eyes and make out a blurry figure talking to Etna.
"You mean he doesn't know?"
He laughs lightly to himself before going into a coughing fit.
"Poor Etna. Looks like you weren't being truthful with the little Prince. He doesn't know that you're nothing more than a spy and a thief, hired by Maderas."
Bastard, don't think that you can say whatever you want just because you feel like it. Why would Etna-
"You bastards!! You're the ones who blackmailed me into it!"
Upon hearing those words, I feel my blood run cold for a moment before returning to normal.
So that's how it was, huh? All this time… she was serving as a spy, but…
I let out a small sigh, as it becomes harder to keep my eyes open.
This girl is the one that's going to become my vassal… If she's in trouble or being blackmailed then I'll guess just have to help her. That's all there is to it.
With that thought, I drift out of consciousness and into a dark sleep.
"So that's how it is. I've known about your secret ever since that time."
Slicing another zombie down, I turn to her with a solemn look on my face.
"Why didn't you tell me, Etna? Did you think I would've turned my back on you? That I wouldn't have stood a chance against them? Or that I didn't love you enough?"
My eyes widen in surprise. I was so confident that he didn't have the slightest clue what was going on.
Then again, he seems to be surprising me a lot lately… Hm, what could this mean? Even after knowing that, he still came here to rescue me? And even before that, he fought the senate for me despite the truth? Wait a minute…
"Uh, Prince, what was that you just said?"
He raises an eyebrow at me, before avoiding an attack and beheading a zombie.
"The fact that I've known about your secret all this time?"
I shake my head and notice another one charging at me. I flip and impale its head, then turn to Prince slightly irritated.
"No! Not that one, the other one!"
He gives me a strange look and smacks an enemy across the graveyard with the flat side of his sword.
"That you didn't think I was strong enough?"
I jam my spear into the last zombie's gut and kick it aside. Crossing my arms, I glare at the blue haired demon.
"Damn it! Stop messing around! I'm talking about… you know… "
At this point the embarrassment gets strong enough to lower my voice to a near whisper.
"Your love not being enough thing…"
His crimson eyes widen a bit before going back to normal. He crosses his arms and turns his head in the opposite direction to hide his reddening cheeks.
"Oh, that thing…"
"Yeah, that thing."
He gives a small cough and hesitantly looks back at me.
"What about it?"
"Did you mean it?"
I stare at him expectantly to let him know that I was serious about this.
To be honest, I was a little nervous myself. Learning about how one of the most important people in your life feels about you would make anyone a little antsy right?
"Well… it's not like I'm doing risk my life on multiple occasions just for fun or anything, you know."
Not saying a word, I continue to listen on giving him my full attention.
He scratches his cheek and hesitantly continues.
"In all honesty, I'm not too sure what love is myself. It's supposed to be this warm feeling deep down inside. Things are suppose to happen like your heart would skip a beat every time your eyes meet. Or something like feeling lonely when they're not around, but you get happy when you see them. It sounds really strange but-"
"Prince. You're rambling."
He gives a cough out of embarrassment. His focus then lands on the ground before slightly lifting his eyes to meet mine with a hint of red on his cheek.
"Truth be told, Etna…"
"When we first met, I saw a small demon girl who needed protection and I was the one able to offer it. I thought of it as a chance to save someone However it was only after we started spending time together that I began to think of you as a-"
Before he can finish that thought, another voice calls out to us from the distance.
"Yes, an Onee-chan."
We exchange confused blinks and both pause reflecting on what was just said.
"Uh, Prince… I'm flattered and all, but that's not really what I was hoping to hear you know. Granted there are some people who have that kind of taste, I'm just not one of those people."
My teasing gets just the flustered reaction I was hoping for out of the Prince.
"Wha? No! That wasn't me. Those words came from someone else!"
We both turn to the direction where the voice came from and squint our eyes. After a little focusing, I find a small blur of red coming towards us full speed with its arms open.
Who the hell is this? Some brat? Well I guess he's an acquaintance of Etna since she knows his name.
I let out a small sigh and clench my fists. As he's about to pass by me, I raise my fist and smack his head with full force, sending him to the ground. Well maybe not full force, but hard enough to relieve some tension.
Heh, well that was somewhat satisfying, but the fact I was interrupted and said something embarrassing like that still doesn't make it good enough.
"Oy, brat. I was in the middle of saying something really important here. Just who the hell are you?"
The red headed boy gets up and looks at me with defiance in his eyes, not intimidated at all, though still holding his head in pain.
"You're more of a brat yourself. Shouldn't you introduce yourself first? It's only common sense. And what's with smacking me before you even know who I am? Don't you have any manners? You must have been raised pretty poorly if you can't even-"
I feel my left eye twitch at his constant barrage of demeaning statements and make my way to teach him another lesson.
Before I can finish though, I am once again rudely interrupted.
I turn around with a small scowl on my face.
"What is it?"
She opens her hand palm up and directs it at the red headed brat.
"This is my younger brother Aramis."
Blinking in a few times, I stare slightly dumbfounded at her before turning my attention to the kid, then back to her again.
"You have a brother?"
She gives a short, simple nod.
I turn to the little brat nursing the growing lump on his head. Then I turn to Etna and start looking her over.
Hm, I guess I can see the similarities in hair, eyes, and possibly even attitude. The chest was obvious as well, but for various reasons I won't be getting into get into that.
Shrugging, I rub my chin and decide to acknowledge him as the brother I had heard about beforehand in the dungeon. I turn to the brat with a growing defiance in his eyes.
"So you're name is Aramis, huh?"
"Yeah what of it?"
"Just what are you doing here in the middle of a battlefield?"
He looks over to his sister before looking back at me, almost as if checking if he could get her permission. However she didn't say anything, so he probably took that as a yes.
"I'm the one who made all these zombies."
I take a look around at the hundreds of corpses, once again lifeless on the ground. Despite the fact nothing was moving, it didn't take away from the fact that they littered almost everything within half a mile. They sheer number was remarkable, especially for one demon to create by themselves.
"Heh. This is pretty impressive. How would you like to serve under me, brat? You'll be my second after Etna."
Etna took this opportunity to flash me her trademark grin and I inwardly groaned, knowing that she had something in mind.
"Hmmm… so that's how it is, Prince? You'd like him to serve under you, eh?"
"Shut up! I meant as a vassal!"
Aramis pauses and looks at all of his works now dismantled on the floor.
"Well you've certainly proved yourself capable as a warrior."
Just as a smirk began to grow on my face though, he quickly interrupts me.
"But I can't be certain if you're a good ruler or not. The only way I would know is by sticking around longer."
Looking over the kid, I see a small frown on his face and I instantly got what he was saying. Putting up a small grin, I cross my arms over my chest and give a small chuckle.
"Is that how it is, huh? Guess I have no choice. In that case, from this point on, I declare you, Aramis, a temporary vassal until you see fit to remain as a permanent vassal."
From behind Etna leans her arms on top of my head and gives a smile at her brother.
"Aw, Prince, you're such a smooth talker aren't you? I bet you're just using him to get closer to me, huh?"
I shrug and slip out underneath her, slightly annoyed at the fact that I was shorter.
"Who knows? Maybe I am. Definitely couldn't hurt my chances could it?"
With those words, I began to walk away, satisfied from seeing the look on her face.
"Prince… you're getting awfully bold there aren't you?"
I shrug and continue walking before turning around to face Aramis.
"So what's it going to be? You coming along or you going to play pick up the pieces with these rotting corpses?"
Aramis slowly closed his eyes and opened them. Then taking a look at all the work he'd have to do in order to scavenge up his works of art, he shrugged and faced the blue haired prince.
"I think I'll be coming along after all. Who knows what you'll try on my sister when it's just the two of you alone."
Etna smiles and ruffles her brother's hair much to his displeasure.
"Oh Aramis, you'd be quite the lady killer with that attitude of yours if it wasn't for your interest in modifying dead bodies."
"Well either that or he's just a kid with a big sister complex. Better be careful there, Etna."
Receiving a smirk and glare in return, I smile back before blinking.
"Wait a minute… Doesn't it feel like we're forgetting something?"
I take a pause to briefly analyze what happened so far, as the other two do.
Hm, well there was the matter of rescuing Etna's brother, which has already been taken care of. Sure, he was a potential obstacle of standing in the way with my vassal and relations that might be taken to the next level, but that wasn't it. This was more of an annoying feeling in the back of your mind like when you forget to take out the trash and it ends up rotting and filling your house with a putrid, horrible stink. Oh yeah!
Both Aramis and Etna exclaim at the same time.
Etna put her hand head as if holding back a migraine that was fast approaching. Aramis looked at her in concern but kept his mouth shut.
"How could we have forgotten about such an annoying little creature like that?"
I give a small sigh and swing the sword over my shoulder.
"Most likely because we got distracted with the fact that I knew were being blackmailed all along and you wanting to know if I had a four letter word to use on you."
Seeing the look on her face, I quickly add in with haste.
"Which you will have to wait for, during a more appropriate time."
Her face went from a child who was about to receive a weapon to butcher and maim, to one who just got told they couldn't reach into the cookie jar. Not a sad one, but more of a I'll-get-my-damn-cookie-if-it-takes-me-all-night.
Wouldn't have it any other way. After all, how many chances do I get to do the teasing?
Aramis, not really interested in the conversation, probably felt it was his duty to bring up the question that we had ignored and needed to know.
"Does anyone even know where he even is at this point?"
The silence that then swept over us was all the answer that was needed as this point. And with that, we quickly split into groups of two with the siblings on one team and me on my own.
"They better hope I don't find him first. After all of the crap he put us through and all of the potential moments he's ruined, I don't know if I can resist the urge to reduce him to charcoal one more."
As I'm running along with little brother, I realize that I haven't had the chance to talk with my little bro for quite a while. Seeing as how there wasn't anything pressing right at the very moment, I decide to pry into his life with the privilege of being his older sister.
He tentatively turned his head to me slowly, as if expecting me to spring a trap on him.
Oh, how well he knows me.
"How have you been while I was gone? I mean, aside from being used to make an army of rotting corpses? Did you find a special someone yet? Have you tried? Or maybe you really are pining for your older sis after all?"
I saw a small look of annoyance briefly touch his face before he rolled his eyes at me.
"Onee-san, you seem to closer to committing acts of fornication than I am. If I'm not mistaken you've probably been making your move on the brat of the castle. Are you perhaps interested in the prince's royal family jewels?"
My eyes fly wide in shock from the comeback of my normally quiet and introverted brother.
"Whoa, Aramis. Where'd that come from?"
He shrugs and we both jump over a small crevice, still looking out for a sign of our hated enemy.
"Spending time with a piece of trash like Sid, you start to pick up on certain figures of speech I suppose."
I shake my head and mumble to myself.
"I knew leaving you on your own would end up in disaster. Stupid bastard, Sid. You stole the innocence of my little brother!!"
As I'm laughing to myself, Aramis comes to a halt and turns to his left. Pointing his finger towards a column of pillars sticking out of the white wasteland, we both see the form of a black haired, pale demon.
"Nee-chan! He's over there!"
Instantly putting all other thoughts to a halt, I whip out Longinus and dash towards him. It seemed he was out of breath, so I didn't need to hurry as badly as I felt I needed to.
"I'll go after him. You just find some cover alright?"
Turning my attention to the retreating demon, I yell at him with anger.
"Sid! I've come to finish the duel you proposed to me, you damn coward!!"
I jump into the sky and spread my wings, forming a dark shadow over the area which finally gets his attention. He turns around with a look of surprise etched on his face.
He obviously wasn't expecting to see me so soon.
Time to put things to an end once and for all. This time I'll be on the offensive!
I turn my spear downward and impale towards the ground. He quickly dives away and rolls, just barely keeping his head intact.
"Ho… you're a fast one aren't you? You always were quite the snake."
He pulls out his sword and spins around swinging at me.
Luckily, my battle experience had been improved upon vastly since we last fought. That encounter with the Assembly helped quite a bit. Not to mention, I feel stronger than ever just from holding the Longinus. No wonder the king likes it so much!
I duck the horizontal slash and counter by giving him a strike to the gut with the blunt end of my spear.
"Looks like in the end, you're still only a snake. I'm going to enjoy taking you apart."
He coughs and falls to his knees, clutching his stomach.
"Damn it… you bitch. You already got your brother back but you just can't leave well enough alone, could you?"
I smirk and look down on him with coldness in my eyes. Then pointing my spear at his neck, I begin counting on the fingers of my left hand.
"You take my family hostage, make my life a living hell, tell me to betray the king, and you think you'll get off easy? Oh no. I'm looking this gift horse in the mouth and riding it all the way to the glue factory!"
"When Maderas finds out about what you did-"
Upon hearing the name of the vampire responsible for all of this, my eyes flare up with anger and I turn Longinus around to impale his left hand.
"I'll tell you now. Don't expect that bastard to help you out just because you got your ass handed to me. He's nothing more than a lowly outcast hiding in the shadows. Do you honestly expect that he would care if he lost someone as worthless as you?"
To be honest, I'm surprised that I can take this openly against Maderas. It seemed like only a smile while ago that I would bite my tongue and obey what he told me to do. Now that Aramis is back with me, safe and sound, I'm finally free to say what I want and do what I want!
Sid chuckles and grins at me, despite the pain from his impaled hand.
"Don't think that this incident will be the end of it. Even if I end up dead, he's not going to give up until he gets revenge against you and the king."
A shot of steam shoots up from the cracks that we are standing and covers my vision. At this moment, I feel Sid forcibly pull his hand out and jump aside.
"Che… what an annoying bastard. How many times does he plan on escaping?!"
As the steam fades away, I see a fiery pillar shoot up into the sky along with a cry into night sky. I run towards the fading blaze and find Lahral with his food on top of Sid's body charred body.
"I didn't think you were the type to let your prey escape once you got a hold of it. What would you do without me, Etna?"
I swing my spear over my shoulders and let my arms hang off it.
"I would manage somehow I'm sure. After all I did just fine before you got here."
He rolls his eyes and kicks Sid's body next to my feet. I hear a small cough and realize that he wasn't a corpse just yet.
"So what do think we should do with him, Prince? Should we end him now?"
Laharl rubs his chin and finally revealing an evil grin.
"No… I think I have a better idea. First we need to head back though."
To be honest I didn't care much for letting him live, but I was semi-interested in what the Prince had planned.
I rarely get to see his sadistic smile. He must have something great in mind.
"Aramis! Let's go! We're heading to the castle!"
Upon hearing my call, Aramis comes out from behind one of the pillars and gives me a questioning look.
"What are we doing over there?"
I shrug in response and follow the Prince, dragging the half dead corpse by his foot.
Later at the castle…
"Ah! It's good to be back at my room!"
We had just gotten back to the when the Prince walked off with Sid now conscious and panicking. Seraph knows what kind of stuff he's in for. Personally, I'd rather be there to watch, but I was told to head back and wait for the surprise.
"Wow, Nee-san. So this is what it's like to live in the castle. This is way better than the shack we were living in before!"
Ah right. Aramis has never been inside the castle before. Normally we'd just live wherever we could find for free. Last place we were living before Maderas was an old abandoned shack. Not much by noble or even commoner standards, but it was still better than living on the streets.
"Well yeah. It is the king's castle after all. Even the vassals' quarters are better than the houses in the slums. Shame you couldn't have come here earlier. We had a lot of crazy adventures while you were gone."
He turns and looks at me with some disbelief in his eyes.
"It's kind of hard to travel freely when you're locked in a room being forced to make zombies 24/7."
I give a small shrug in response to his little complaint.
"That's all in the past now, Aramis! You got taken hostage, I rescued you, and Sid is experiencing Seraph knows what right now. So let's put that aside and let me tell you about some of the stuff we got into…"
Finally reaching the end of the corridor, I toss the smoldering body on the floor. He twitches a little bit before going into a coughing fit.
So this is the punk responsible for causing Etna and her brother so much pain and misery, huh? Got to admit, he wasn't as tough as I pegged him out to be. No, wait… that's not right. This guy was just hired help. Who was the brains behind this operation? I remember hearing Etna and this bastard talk about it back then. He said the one responsible for having Etna infiltrate the castle was Maderas.
I knit my brows, trying to remember how that name sounded familiar.
Hmm… if he's someone I know then he was most likely in the castle. Most likely not here anymore… Ah! That's who it was! He was a vassal of my father! He got banished from the castle from stealing father's black pretzels.
Sighing, I kick the ribs of the body trying to crawl away, so he wouldn't get any ideas.
"Well, you sure have crappy luck running into me as you were running away, huh? There are 666 ways we can torture you here in the castle. Which one would you prefer, hmm?"
The bastard I identified as Sid coughed and looked up at me with hatred in his eyes. In response, I give him a smirk and put my foot on his head, forcing him to get a taste of the hallway floors.
"Don't try to act so cocky. You may not be the one directly responsible for putting Etna through all of this, but I'm sure you've done your fair share of deeds."
He grunts and tries to look at me, but I put more pressure on my foot till the tiles start cracking.
"Ahh… Laharl-san. Good evening. I see you are destroying the castle again."
I turn around and find a blue haired demon with a red ribbon in her hair with her stuffed rabbit in one hand. Looking down, I find that she's wearing white pajamas with red ribbons hanging off the neck.
Eh? Wonder if she just woke up… Gah! Her shirt isn't buttoned up all the way!
I shift my gaze away before my eyes begin to wander down to those dangerous looking curves.
"Pleinair? What are you around here so late?"
Her red eyes look to the floor where my foot was on top of Sid's head and then back up to me.
"I had trouble sleeping. Plus Usagi-san wanted to go for a midnight stroll, so I thought it would be fine."
I blink and stare at her in confusion.
"Huh? Your stuffed animal wanted to walk around for a bit?"
She nods without a change in expression, not finding it strange at all.
"That's right. On nights when the moon is out and shining brightly, Usagi-san gets pretty restless. I'm starting to wonder if he might be part werewolf. A were-bunny perhaps?"
Her eyes widen slightly in recognition of what she said and her hand goes to her face, covering a smile.
"Hah? A were-bunny? Hah hah. Such a strange notion."
She starts chuckling softly to herself and I just scratch my head in confusion.
No, no. The strange one is you. Who ever heard of a stuffed doll that wanted to go for a midnight stroll?
Her laughing abruptly stops and she looks at me once more with an expressionless face.
"What might the prince of our castle be doing up so late? The Dark Assembly is closed at this hour."
I give her a smirk and cross my arms over my chest.
"You know me too well, Pleinair. If they aren't hear then just tell them to get their asses over here! I'll be damned if I'll be inconvenienced by those bastards!"
She holds up her stuffed rabbit and points it at me.
"Usagi-san says, 'You're the moron who's doing the inconveniencing! If such a spoiled brat becomes the next king of our castle then we're screwed!' End message."
My right eye twitches and I stomp down harder on Sid, cracking all the tiles, and burying his face completely in the ground.
"Oh ho… You've got some damned nerve there, you stupid rabbit!"
I pull out my sword and point it at the stuffed animal being held in front of me.
"Do you have a death wish or something?!"
Pleinair pulls the rabbit closer to her and lowers her head closer to it. Then she suddenly holds up the rabbit once more.
"He says, 'Such an impatient and short tempered brat. Why don't you go back to your room and sleep like a good boy before the great Usagi-sama teaches you how harsh life really is!' End message."
"What did you say?!"
In anger, I release my demonic aura and smash my foot further down till the body beneath me stops twitching.
"Unless you want to spontaneously combust into flames and ashes, you'll stop your backtalk and call the damn Assembly already!"
Pleinair pauses and brings the rabbit closer to her.
"…I don't think that's a good idea, Usagi-san… That's true but it seems that he's willing to go all out… Yeah, but he's not a real man, he's a demon kid… It's fine isn't it? Children can be spoiled every once in a while… That's the spirit."
After she's done talking to the rabbit, she looks up at me and offers the faintest smile.
"Alright, Laharl-san. We'll be glad to call the Assembly for you this one time."
I don't know if I should be glad I got my way or pissed off about some of the stuff I heard. Guess it doesn't matter that badly. If he wants to argue any other time, I'll gladly be willing to show him whose boss. Wait… did I just waste a few minutes arguing with a stuffed animal?
"Well as long as you understand then…"
She gives a small bow to me, and once again I shift my eyes away from the center of her shirt that was getting dangerous further away from her body. Afterwards, she turns away and heads down to the market section to open up the Assembly.
Agh, someone needs to tell her she needs to button up all the way. Sure as hell won't be me though. Who knows what kind of reaction I'd receive. Then again with Pleinair there's no telling. She's a strange one that girl…
I lean down and pick up the almost dead body of Etna's ex-tormentor, dragging him once more down the corridor to where Pleinair headed.
"Well it's not one of the official 666 torture methods, but after this bill passes I'm certain you'll be wishing you received one of those instead. Ahahahahahaha!!!"
"And that's how we took up the entire Assembly single handedly! Sure, we had some minor setbacks and I temporarily lost ownership of my pendant, but then Prince went all heroic and got it back for me. He's turning out to be quite the demon, just like the king."
Just mentioning the king puts a smile on my face. He's the one who gave me hope and strength to survive.
I turn to Aramis and find out he had resorted to playing with some zombie parts he picked up from the Stellar Graveyard.
"Hey! Have you been paying attention at all this entire time?"
He blinks and looks up confusion, before going back to attaching a demon claw to a zombie arm.
"Yeah, I was listening to you Onee-chan. You were talking about heroes and kings or something, right?"
I stop my foot angrily on the stone floor to grab his attention.
"Agh! You weren't listening at all! Jeez! Where's the Prince at? He's been keeping me waiting for quite a while now. If he keeps this up, I might have to kill him after all!"
Before I can start laughing at the thought, I hear a voice down right outside my door.
"Oy, Etna! Talking to yourself is one of the first signs of insanity!"
I turn around and see Laharl leaning against the doorway with a smirk on his face.
"Ah, Prince. I was beginning to wonder if you had somehow managed to die within the past half hour."
He gives a small chuckle and starts walking towards me, holding something behind his back.
"Don't be ridiculous. I'll be alive to rule the Netherworld for thousands of years. If you want to take up the throne, you'd have to go through me to do it."
I roll my eyes at his cockiness and innocently put a finger to my chin.
"Why do that when I could simply marry you, wait till you become king, and then poison you in your sleep? Easy pickings."
"Hah. Only problem with that plan is that you'd have to get married to me."
Flashing him a devilish smile, I walk closer up to him as well.
"Who says that's a problem?"
His smirk slightly falters, clearly not expecting that. He moves his eyes to the side before meeting mine once more.
"Well if that were the case, then I would just deal with it when it happens."
Heh, typical answer from the Prince. Guess he's not ready for that kind of thing just yet. Well not like that matters! It'll be coming whether he's ready or not.
"So, Prince… what's that you got there behind your back? Perhaps some flowers to woo me with?"
I hear Aramis give a small snort, but I promptly ignore it as does Laharl.
"Nope. It's something better than that."
He pulls his arms from behind his back, revealing a Prinny being held by the head. It was trying to fight back, but with its short little penguin arms, it couldn't even reach the top of its head.
"Huh? It's just a Prinny. What's the big deal with that?"
His smirk grows wider and the Prinny starts sweating out of nervousness.
"Etna, I'd like to introduce to you… Sid the Prinny!"
My eyes widen and I stare at the Prince in disbelief. Then I focus my gaze on the Prinny, who was avoiding eye contact with me.
"Oh… well this is quite the gift then."
Even Aramis stopped working on his zombie arm and stood up to take a look at the very uncomfortable Prinny.
My lips curl up to form a devilish smirk on my face.
"So the bastard who's made my life a living hell, making sure that at every turn I would have to deal with some new and unfortunate encounter, has been reduced to a weak, highly explosive Prinny, hmm? I think I can grow to enjoy this."
Laharl tosses Sid to me and I catch him with my two hands, slowly tightening my grip on his soft body.
"This is going to be very, very fun. Every day, you'll regret what you've done to me and my brother until you'll begin to wish that you had never had the misfortune to come across me. No matter how much you beg or cry, I won't forgive you though."
I blink, temporarily snapping out of my moment and turn to Aramis.
"Hey, Aramis. Is there anything you want to say to him before he hits the wall quite literally?"
He walks up to Sid's face and looks him in the eyes as if he were looking upon something an insignificant insect.
"You have no one to blame but yourself. Everything you've done has lead up to this moment. Call it fate or karma, but this is what happens when you trample over those weaker than you. The oppressed will become stronger and undoubtedly seek revenge. I'm going to have fun dissecting your body once my sister is done with you."
Then Aramis gives Sid a sadistic smile that almost sends a shiver down my spine and receives a gulp from the Prinny in my hands.
"Well said, bro. Can't say it was nice knowing you, Sid. Hope you're looking forward to these next hundreds of years because I know I will."
With that, I clench his head tightly in my right hand and throw him as hard as I can against the stone wall. His screams are quickly cut short as he smashes against the stones and explodes into ball of fire and smoke.
"I can't wait to revive him so I can do that again."
As the ashes fall off the walls, I brush off my hands and turn to Laharl who was watching the whole ordeal with a smile on his face.
"Thanks, Laharl. You're the best."
I lean over and give him a small kiss on the cheek, which causes him to blush and take a step back in surprise.
"Don't mention it. It's my job as future Overlord to make sure that my vassals are satisfied."
Seeing his step back, I take one more step forward so we maintain our closeness.
"Is that all it is? Aren't I more to you than just a vassal?"
Being this close to him after a kiss must make him pretty flustered. Hah hah. His face is turning red. He's so cute.
"M-More than a vassal? Yeah… you could say that."
"I mean… you rescued me from my fears, taught me how to grow stronger, defended me when I was in need, fought the Assembly to get back my pendant, and even helped me take down someone who kidnapped my brother to use against me. Why did you do all that when you didn't have to?"
Half of the reason behind my advances was for the sake of teasing him, but I really did want to know the truth of how he felt about me.
His gaze lowers to meet mine and I notice that we were only a few centimeters apart.
"You know why already. Don't make me spell it out for you."
I place my hands on his shoulders and bring my face a little bit more closer to his, staring into this crimson eyes.
"No I don't. I want to hear it from your own mouth."
He grabs my shoulders and stares at me with intensity.
"Damn it. It means I'm in love with you!"
At that moment, I could have sworn my heart stopped for a moment. All my doubts were gone from just those few words. It's like a wave washed over me leaving me with nothing but relief and happiness.
We both blink in surprise as the moment between us gets interrupted by the shout. A pair of arms then wraps around my waist and pulls me away from the Prince.
My little brother shakes his head back and forth on my back, holding me tightly.
"No! I don't want some other guy to take you away! I want to be together with you forever!"
Laharl sweatdrops and holds up his hand, pointing to Aramis in confusion and disbelief.
"What? Seriously? I was right after all? You have a sister complex? What happened to our moment? What the heck?"
I give a small smile and turn around to face Aramis. Putting my hand on his head, I kneel down so I could look him in the eye.
"Silly Aramis. I would never abandon you. You're my precious little brother."
I then turn to Laharl who was still having trouble comprehending what was happening.
"That said. I'm turning you down. Sorry about that. Oh, I guess this makes us even for not being honest when we were at the Stellar Graveyard."
Honestly, I was overjoyed about his confession. This is the first time I've ever been told that I was loved. However, I'm also a demon and if someone insults me then I need to pay them back twice as hard. Haha. Revenge is quite sweet.
In response, Laharl rolls his eyes and starts walking away to the hallway.
"Aaaa… Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I'm over it now. Completely over it. Enjoy your quality time together you two."
"Eh? Wait, what? That quick?!"
I reach out to stop him, but remember that Aramis was still holding me fiercely with no intention of letting me go.
"Wait, Prince. That was just a joke! Hey, hold up!"
By the point I managed to pry Aramis off me, Laharl already disappeared into the castle somewhere and leaving me with no idea where he was.
I clench my fists, shaking with anger. Then looking up, I yell as loudly as I can to the entire castle so that he might hear me.
"Prince, you moron!"
Giving a sigh, I walk back to room and plop on my red velvet bed. I close my eyes and mumble into my pillow.
"Stupid, Laharl. I love you too."
Chapter 11 End
A/N: It's been a year and five months but I finally pulled out an update. I would like to offer a sincere and earnest apology to everyone who I kept waiting. In addition, I want to thank those who have kept patience or in some cases lost their patience and sent me death threats, including but not limited to Kelsper, Lacto3.1415, and MistressSunaomi.
In particular, a huge thank you to Etna-of-Darkness who didn't give up on me for the past three months! Thanks! I needed all those kicks in the butt!
I'm also going to be creating a series of short stories between Laharl and Etna, so my skills don't start to rust. Should I include Flonne in the fun too?
I will appreciate and moreover welcome and thoughts about the chapter. It's been so long since I've written so I don't know how it measures up anymore. Think it's going too fast? Too slow? Not enough comedy? Let me know!
Till next time!