Weird fic. Very weird. It's been in the works for quite a while, and Mizuei-san says it's a good idea, so…What the heck. It'll be fun. Medieval fic, but witches and wizards kind. This will probably be updated less often that Harry Potter and the Digimon Frontier, but I may be persuaded to write faster on them both if I get enough feedback…Enjoy.
Disclaimer:I don't own Kouji, Kouichi or anything from Digimon Frontier. I just felt like writing this strange little thing.
Lost In The Dusk
Chapter 1: Mother and Master
A five-year-old boy ran through the dirt streets of the small, remote kingdom. His short-cropped, dark hair blew back into his navy blue eyes as he gasped for breath. His bare feet slipped slightly as he rounded a turn, but he recovered quickly and kept going until he reached a small, wooden shack.
"Mama!" he gasped, hurrying up the door. "Mama, mama, I'm coming mama!"
With one last gasp, he burst through the door and froze. The woman in the bed was very still, her face impassive and eyes closed in a way that was far too peaceful.
There was a man kneeling beside her, someone far to familiar to him. He was young, but not too young, his white-blonde hair long and scraggily, hanging loosely over eyes that seamed to glow red. He was dressed in a dark robe, decorated liberally with deep red eyes.
He gazed at the boy impassively a moment, then reached down and pulled the thin sheet up over the woman's face. "Too late, I'm afraid." he said calmly, standing. "She's gone."
The boy took in a stuttered gasp, then dashed forward, crying for his mother. The man intercepted him, holding him so that his stretched fingers were only inches from the bed.
"It's bad luck to touch a newly-dead corpse." he warned. "Your soul could be drawn away with it."
"M-Mama…" the boy whimpered, tears bubbling from his eyes. "Wake up…Wake up, mama! Mama!"
"She won't wake." the man whispered. "She's gone up to heaven, where angels belong."
The little boy stared blankly another moment, then his arms fell limply to his sides. The man smiled just a little, lifting him over his shoulder and carrying him out of the hut. The door closed quietly behind him.
"You're all alone now, aren't you?" he crooned, raising his voice slightly to sound concerned. "But don't worry…I've been needing an apprentice…"
( - ) ( - ) ( - )
Kouichi sighed, rolling over in bed and gazing up at the slanted attic ceiling, now lit by the gentle, new light of the morning. That memory again…
He fingered the gold medallion that he kept hidden under his shirt. It was in the shape of half a heart, the break cut as though a puzzle piece, meant to fit with another. It had been eight years since his mother had given it to him…eight years since her death… and eight years since his master, a powerful wizard, had taken him in.
He sighed again and pushed off his light, raged covers. His private 'room' of sorts was actually the attic of his master's house, as such, it was small and the roof was slanted so that he had to duck when crossing it. However, it had a small window that gave him a fabulous view of the surrounding countryside, the town of his birth showing in the distance.
He washed his face in a small basin, which sat in its table below the windowsill, then changed into his simple 'uniform': a loose black shirt and shorts, held up with an old brown belt. All were tattered and faded after years of use.
He was slipping his bare feet snuggly into an old pair of boots, when his master's voice came booming up through the trap door.
The boy cringed. He didn't like the sound of that tone, but knew better than to ignore. "I-I'm coming, master!"
He hurried to the trapdoor, which had been left open during the night, and climbed quickly down the ladder. He ran down to the first floor and presented himself in the small dining room.
His master, the wizard Dusk, hadn't changed a bit in the eight years of his apprenticeship. His hair was still long, unruly and white-blonde, while his eyes were still a piercing blood red. He was seated in his usual spot at the table, dressed in his usual ash-black, eye-covered robe.
He eyed his servant unemotionally. "Breakfast."
The boy gulped and quickly obliged. The eggs and ham cooked instantly on his master's enchanted skillets, and soon the meal was ready. He placed most of the eggs and the largest cuts of ham on the large, golden plate before his master, accompanied by an immense mug of dark red wine. At the other end of the table was a much smaller, plain, cracked plate, with much smaller servings and a much smaller, wooden cup of ordinary water.
"You're late, Kouichi." the wizard said boredly as the servant finished. "You know what that means…"
The boy gulped, but stood obediently by his chair, straight as a board. He closed his eyes and braced himself as his master raised his hand.
Although the wizard's had was several feet away, his servant stumbled back under the force of the blow. He raised a hand to his stinging right cheek, as a dark red mark began to spread across it.
The boy bit his lip and whimpered. "I-I'm sorry, Master."
"Let that be a lesson to be more prompt." Dusk sniffed, cutting a piece of ham. "You may sit."
Kouichi sat gingerly on the hard, wooden seat, more like a stool than the cushion-lined throne where his master sat. He folded his hands in his lap and waited.
Dusk took a large piece of ham on his fork, placed it in his mouth and chewed slowly. After five minutes, he swallowed and wiped his mouth on a cloth napkin. "You may eat.
The boy did as he was told, slowly slicing and chewing minute bits of his meager meal. For a long while, they were silent as the meal slowly filled its course. Then, setting his napkin and utensils on the table, the wizard spoke.
"How old are you know, Kouichi?"
"I-I'm thirteen this year, sir."
Dark paused a moment, as though calculating that information. A crooked smile worked its way over his face. "Then perhaps…It is time."
Kouichi looked up at him, confused, as the wizard waved his hand. "Clear the dishes away now, my boy."
The servant did so, collecting first his master's, then his own, and placing them in a bucket of water. When he removed them, they were instantly dry, and he placed them in the cabinet where they belonged.
Dusk stood and crossed to a door on the far wall, the one that lead down to the basement. He motioned for the boy to follow, leading down a long, winding staircase.
The resulting room was large, spacious and dark. Large bookcases, filled with dozens of old, thick, worn volumes, lined the walls, while in the middle of the room was a cauldron hanging over a pit, waiting for a fire to warm it. Kouichi had only seen this room a few times…It was where his master preformed his most powerful spells.
Said wizard smiled eagerly, motioning for a spell book that sat open on a podium, which his boy brought to him.
"Do you know, Kouichi…" he asked icily, opening the book. "Why it is you are not allowed to go into town?"
Kouichi shook his head. "It's for your own protection, dear boy." Dusk began flipping through the pages. "The kingdom has become corrupt. The King and his Vassals care only for their own ill-gotten wealth, they couldn't be bothered about who gets crushed along the way. Why, their villainy and greed was the core reason no doctor was able to treat your poor mother in her illness…"
Kouichi bit his lip. He remembered his mother, sick and pale, going from doctor to doctor and begging for aid. But she had no money to pay them, and, as such, wasted miserably away.
"But soon…" Dusk snapped the book shut. "You and I will avenge all of their wrong-doings."
The boy was surprised. "What do you mean, Master?"
"I have a plan." Dusk turned and looked at him, a gleam in his eye. "Tomorrow, you will be taken to the palace, as a slave…a gift for the King and his Crown Prince. You will do everything you are told, like a good little boy, and prove yourself a loyal servant. And then, when you have gained the prince's trust, you will take this knife…" he removed a small dagger, inside a green sheaf, from the folds of his cloak. "…and you will kill him."
Kouichi jumped a foot at that last statement. His master grinned slightly, walking around him in a small circle.
"When the prince is dead…" he continued, "My spells will change the body into your image. And you will transform into his image, down to the very last detail. You will take on everything about him…his voice, his habits, his life…while he is buried under your name. And then, when the old king is dead as well, it will be you, as crown prince, who rises to his throne. Only then will you and I be able to right the treacherous wrongs brought by his corrupt rule."
The boy hesitated, and the wizard sensed his uncertainty. He leaned over his apprentice's shoulder, pressing the knife into his hands as he whispered enticingly in his ear.
"Think of your poor mother, Kouichi…" he hissed. "How she suffered endlessly to scrape out the most meager existence for the two of you, while the King and his Prince lived in such lavish luxury…Her death could have been prevented…"
Kouichi's hands curled around the knife, his fingers running over the fine-stitched green patterns in the leather sheaf.
"…I will do as you say, Master." he whispered gently.
An almost evil grin slid over Dusk's face. "Good…Good…"