Trial of Fire
Fandom: Kyou Kara Maou
Pairings: Future Yuuri/Wolfram
Warnings: Rated T for light violence angst, and adult situations.
Spoilers: Murata Ken's identity.
Notes: I haven't taken any specific attempts to peg this story down within a specific point in the KKM timeline. If I had to hazard a guess, it would be shortly after episode 40. (Though I doubt any true spoilers of these events will be revealed.) This will be a multi-part fic focusing on a little explored possibility in Yuuri and Wolfram's relationship.
"I'm really sorry, Conrad." Yuuri's head drooped dejectedly.
"It's all right, your Majesty." Conrad reassured the ebony-haired boy, his voice pleasant and calm as always. "You did the right thing."
Yuuri miserably took stock of their situation. "It certainly doesn't feel that way now."
"I'm sure help will arrive soon." Conrad stated optimistically.
Yuuri stared at the molten lava as it crept closer, scorching the grass before swallowing it up greedily. The lava was still several yards away; plenty of time for even a feeble old man to easily escape it's burning clutches. Unfortunately, the large stake he and Conrad were tied to prevented them from doing the same. Apparently Yuuri's insistence that they travel to a neighboring human settlement to warn them of Anissa's prediction of a volcano eruption had been a bad idea. Who knew?
Yuuri wiggled fitfully, trying to loosen the ropes bound across his chest. The young Maou might as well have been trying to bend steel. Those villagers certainly crafted good quality rope. Resigned, Yuuri's shoulders slumped in defeat. Wallowing in self-recrimination, Yuuri stole a sideways glance over his shoulder where Conrad was standing; straight backed yet seemingly relaxed. No word of blame passed the soldiers lips. Nor did he, after his initial attempt, try to struggle free. The tall soldier merely stood there, back to their mutual stake, trussed like a turkey and evidently not bothered by it in the least. Yuuri shook his head. It's not like this was an everyday occurrence.
"I have a knack for getting us in this kind of situation, don't I?" Yuuri mumbled out guiltily.
Yuuri could just make out Conrad's shoulders as they shook in a silent chuckle. "Yes, I suppose you do." The taller man admitted.
"Yuuri! Just what in the hell do you think you are doing?" A recriminating voice called loudly from the edge of the clearing. "Conrad! I thought you were supposed to look after this wimp!"
Face set in a scary frown, Wolfram ran towards them, his sword drawn and held in a tight two-handed grip. Yuuri watched his fiancé's approach and wondered idly why it seemed to him that their situation had just gotten worse. Yuuri could actually see the fire blazing in those large green eyes, even at this distance.
Wolfram stopped suddenly, about six yards from their location. The blond glared at them, his face scrunched up oddly. Yuuri watched as Wolfram's eyes darted sideways briefly to the approaching lava, before his gaze switched to pin him with an accusing glare.
"Well? What do you have to say for yourselves?" The prince demanded.
"His majesty's orders proceed any of my own wishes." Conrad said evenly. Yuuri groaned. Not only had his idol the luck to be tied in a position that hid him from the irritable blond, he had also just conveniently placed the blame for their situation at Yuuri's own feet.
Clearing his throat, Yuuri decided simple truths might be the best way to go.
"I don't know why the villagers attacked us. All we were trying to do was warn them about the volcano." He really couldn't explain it. They were more than polite about it, even leaving Wolfram asleep at the inn to prevent any human-biased outbursts.
"They're humans, what do you expect?"
Like that one.
"We came here to help them!" Yuuri growled, beginning to get irritated, himself.
"Evidently they didn't want your help." Wolfram mocked. "So why didn't you defend yourself?"
"I didn't want to hurt them."
"They're just villagers, Wolfram," Conrad chided. "Not soldiers."
"So normal villagers just so happen to have a dozen baseball sized hoseki in their possession?" Wolfram raised his hand to indicate the circle of stones that were effectively keeping the blond aristocrat from venturing any closer.
"It doesn't matter," Yuuri cried out, his sense of justice once again overcoming common sense. "They were armed with farming tools! There were women with them, and children! I didn't want anybody to get hurt."
"A little late for that." Wolfram muttered, shifting his grip on his sword reflexively.
"What do you mean?" Yuuri demanded an unnatural lump forming in his throat.
"What, you think they were just going to stand by and let me rescue you?" Wolfram's eyes widened incredulously. How naïve could this dark-haired fiancé be?
Now that Yuuri attention was drawn to it, Wolfram did indeed look a bit more tousled than normal. Two long scratches crossed the blond boy's cheek and his clothing was rumpled and covered with dirt. Yuuri's eyes quickly scoured the length of Wolfram's thin blade, grimly searching for the telltale signs of blood.
"I didn't kill them." Wolfram stated crossly, noticing his fiancé's look. He hurriedly sheathed his sword with short, clipped motions. "I only knocked them out."
"Even the children?" Yuuri pressed on angrily.
"Hey, those little brats bit me!" Wolfram growled defensively.
"But they were just k—"
"I think that perhaps we should continue this conversation once we've freed ourselves from our current situation." Conrad broke into the argument reluctantly. He normally wasn't one to interfere with the Maou and his intended's affairs, but the lava had nearly reached the outer edge of hoseki that was preventing Wolfram from shouting at his fiancé from a closer distance.
The two young men quickly stopped in their blame tossing, as they stared at the approaching lava apprehensively. The molten rock was close enough to them now that Yuuri could feel the heat beginning to scorch through his heavy clothes. Yuuri quickly smothered a quick shiver of fear that raced up his spine. But Conrad felt it anyway.
"It'll be okay, Yuuri." He spoke in a low voice, for the Maou's ears alone.
"Wolfram," Yuuri's voice broke on the name and he quickly cleared his throat. "You need to go get help."
The blonde stared at him as if he had grown a second head. "And just who am I supposed to get? The whole village was in on this!"
"I don't know!" Yuuri snapped, fear and desperation making his voice unnaturally harsh. "Hoseki only affect full-blooded demons. You need to find someone, a human, that can actually walk through the hoseki barrier to untie us."
"What are you talking about?" Wolfram huffed. "I can free you."
"You can't pass through the circle and you know it!" The dark-haired boy yelled. "Stop being unreasonable, Wolfram! We're running out of time here."
"Are you calling me weak?" Wolfram's face darkened.
"Just you watch me." Wolfram muttered; his eyes set with a determination nobody was going to be able to talk him out of.
Squaring his shoulders, the blond took a cautious step forward, wincing as he entered the hoseki's field. Wolfram took a second step, and then another, slowly but surely closing the distance between himself and the other two. His face had turned a sickly shade of green and his upper lip was dotted with sweat, but the stubborn noble continued forward.
"See, I told you I could do this." Wolfram bragged, his voice just a bit tighter than normal. "I'm not a wimp like some—"
A bright flash filled the clearing, temporarily blinding Yuuri. But he and Conrad clearly heard Wolfram's strangled scream followed by a sickening thump.
"Wolfram!" Conrad called out, twisting about in an effort to see.
Once the floating specks disappeared from Yuuri's vision, the human turned Maou scoured the ground frantically for his friend. Wolfram lay flat on his back, a good couple of yards away from his last position. The boy was groaning and rocking himself in pain, as threads of smoke rose from his body.
"Wolfram! What happened?" Yuuri's worry for his friend overcame his earlier irritation at the boy.
"I… don't know." The blond mumbled out weakly. "The hoseki…."
"Go get help Wolfram." Conrad urged. "Hold someone from the village hostage if you must—"
"What?" Yuuri protested.
"Your Majesty, at this point we need to concern ourselves with the future of our kingdom, which would not turn out favorably if you were to die."
"I guess you're right." Yuuri muttered reluctantly. "But I don't want anyone hurt," He switched his gaze back to the blond prince. "You've got to promise me that, Wolfram."
"No!" Wolfram growled, as he painstakingly rose to his feet. "I can do this!"
"Don't be stubborn!" Yuuri's brow lowered into a scowl.
"I don't need any help saving you!" Wolfram yelled before rushing towards the circle of stones once more.
The hoseki pulsed warningly at the blond's approach before flaring up with power and throwing the boy backwards once more. Growling, Wolfram struggled up a second time, squinting through one eye as he struggled to center his vision.
"Will you listen now?" Yuuri demanded, and uncomfortable knot forming in his stomach. "Just go back to the village—"
"Yuuri…" Conrad whispered. "I think the time for that course of action has passed. With the lava's current proximity, there is no way Wolfram could return in time."
"Wolfram," Conrad called across to his younger half brother. "Stay focused. You just can't rush through the barrier. You have to go slow."
Wolfram stumbled forward, his face scrunched up in pain or irritation or both. "I already tried that."
"Concentrate your maryoku. Use it like a shield in front of you."
"But hoseki suppress a demon's maryoku." Wolfram gritted his teeth as he inched slowly forward. "I can't even feel my powers right now."
"You have to try," Conrad's voice was unnaturally calm. "Otherwise the hoseki will overwhelm you completely."
Taking a deep breath, Wolfram slowly continued towards them. Watching his face, Yuuri could tell the exact moment the blond entered the hoseki's field. The green tinge to the slender boy's face had disappeared, replaced with a deathly white.
Wolfram's breathing came out in sharp pants as he struggled onward, coming nearer to the line of anti-demonic stones. The blond froze as his toe entered the circle, but this time he wasn't thrown back. Gasping, the boy tried to move his other foot forward, only to collapse suddenly to his knees.
"Wolfram!" Yuuri cried out, that invisible knot tightening.
"Shut up…wimp…" Wolfram's voice was barely audible. "Trying…to concentrate…."
"Just—throw us your sword from there!" Yuuri ordered desperately. "Maybe we can catch it and cut ourselves free!"
"Your Majesty, the lava is almost upon us." Conrad murmured softly, a worried edge finally sharpening his voice.
But at this point Yuuri could only notice the lava's vicinity to Wolfram. The blond was now crawling on his hands and knees, inching forward at a snail's pace. Yuuri's throat closed up as he watched the tears of pain glimmer against his fiancé's pale cheeks.
"Wolfram, just forget it! We'll find another way!"
Eyes glazed, the blonde didn't respond. Wolfram was finally inside the circle of hoseki, but instead of the stone's powers diminishing, they seemed to have increased. Sparks erupted from the young prince's body, causing his muscles to spasm and twitch. Wolfram now rested more than he moved forward, his breath coming in uneven gasps as he looked about two seconds from passing out.
Yuuri watched in horror as the blond suddenly started coughing; splashes of red flying past his lips to splatter against the ground.
"Wolfram stop!" Conrad shouted suddenly. "These aren't normal hoseki!"
Wolfram continued to crawl forward, army style, the determination never fading from his face. He was a mere body's length away from them now. But to Yuuri, who could only watch the unfolding scene helplessly, it felt like miles.
"You'll die!" Conrad's voice was hoarse with worry, proving once again that the old bond between the two brothers was still present.
"I have a duty to protect my king!" Wolfram cried, his voice painful to listen to. Unbidden, Yuuri felt the sting of tears prick his eyes.
"Wolfram, just turn back!" The dark-haired boy found himself begging. "Forget about us! Just, please, turn around!"
"I won't fail you!" Wolfram croaked out, his face beginning to turn black from the smoke. The blond's head fell down to rest against the grass and for a moment Yuuri feared that he had already passed out.
But the Wolfram began shaking his head, mumbling something that the dark-haired boy couldn't make out. Then to Yuuri's amazement the blond slowly pushed himself to his knees. Wolfram's green eyes met Yuuri's dark ones and held, focusing on the king completely as he unsteadily pushed himself to his feet, as shaky as a newborn colt.
"I won't fail…." Wolfram muttered as if in a trance, swaying slightly.
"Wolfram…" Conrad was fighting his bonds now, a desperate note in his voice that made Yuuri's panic deepen. Before he knew it, he too was struggling against the ropes, urged on by a sudden need to be at the blond boy's side.
"Conrad…." Wolfram's face was etched in an agony that the dark-haired boy didn't think had anything to do with physical pain. "Yuuri…" Tears slid down the noble's face, creating glistening stripes through the soot. "I'm sorry…."
Yuuri didn't even hear his own scream as he watched Wolfram's eyes roll up into his head before the slender boy collapsed back onto the ground. This time, the blond didn't get back up.
"Wolfram! Wolfram!" Yuuri strained against his bonds desperately, the ropes cutting into his skin.
Yuuri heard a snap as one of the ropes holding Conrad bound broke under the strain. But it was too little too late for Yuuri, who watched with wild eyes as the lava slowly reached out its molten hands towards his fiancé.
"NO!" Yuuri screamed; his vision tunneling until Wolfram was all he could see.
Conrad was startled from his struggled by a sudden harsh wind blowing across the clearing, tossing his brown hair into his eyes. The sky above began to darken with clouds, casting a shadow over the trio and causing the lava around them to glow eerily bright.
"The devotion that boy has shown is not worth a death such as this." Conrad heard Yuuri speak slowly in a voice that was not his own. Thunder rumbled across the sky and the wind increased to a deafening howl.
"I will not let nature cause harm to anyone this day, whether they be human or demon!" The Maou cried out in a booming voice that caused the very heavens to open up with heavy sheets of rain and an arc of lightning to strike into the stake that held them captive.
Conrad winced reflexively, but no pain came from the strike. The soldier felt an unearthly energy flow across his body before centering on the ropes wrapped tightly across his chest. The thick bindings came suddenly alive, unwinding like snakes as they unfurled outward into the air.
The rope snakes swayed and hissed like their living counterparts, hovering above the line of hoseki that surrounded them. Striking suddenly, the ropes struck, flinging the stones out into the steaming bed of lava, which was slowly hardening under the freezing attack of rainfall.
As if his body was acting on its own orders, Conrad dashed forward, quickly grasping his younger brother's fallen form and dragging it back from the still smoldering line of molten rock. Glancing up at the glowing form of the Maou, Conrad saw the great being nod in approval before the light around him faded, bleeding once more into the normal form of their king.
Conrad quickly moved to catch the boy as Yuuri fell backwards. Conrad slumped unwillingly to the ground, his legs refusing to support him. Staring down at his two unconscious charges, being soaked by the still pouring rain and surrounded by cooling lava, the half-human shook his head.
"And just how am I supposed to carry you both back to New Mazoku?" he sighed fondly, clutching the boys in a protective grip.