Line of Impiety
To my readers,
One incident told in a few chapters. I can't seem to get Asch out of my head at the moment. This fic details, in a roundabout way, the life Asch lived in Daath. It's little more than my Asch's past outline fleshed out and given a narrative voice. Still, I hope it's enjoyable. First part focuses on the pre-game Van Asch relationship. Originally it was going to be a little warmer than this, but somehow these changes felt more... realistic. Meh, I'm rambling, here's the story already.
He wasn't a religious man, he that knew. The fact was imbedded in him, as much a part of him as his skin, and blatantly obvious to any whom knew him. He hated the Score with a passion that didn't just border on blasphemous; he knew it for what it was. He lived a life of full fledged blasphemy.
The lore of Lorelie, the founding of Daath, the story's of Yulia… Such tales should have been a support and comfort. Instead they were the crumbling ruins housed within his soul. The disastrous rotting framework supported nothing but doubts and bred nothing but discontent. Such ruins had been made under the weight of his curiosity; the relentless logical thought process he laid claim to had ripped his faith asunder.
As such, as with many of the faithless, he felt suspended upon nothing. His life was based on the frantic hope that if he neither looked up or down he would somehow be spared a harder hand from heaven. Or if that failed, he hoped that the black abyss of death that would claim him would be as dark and as oblivion inspiring as sleep.
Yet on the flip side of the coin…. hope required faith of a sort. So despite his breaking away from the church he was a man of faith. But his faith was alien to those around him.
He smirked at the contradictions that made up his life. And he had to wonder, just who he was trying to appease?
Above and beyond his dark world a bell tolled. Ten rings now. He sighted and clenched his gloved hands into fists. Or rather, he would have liked too. His nails-blunted by a lair of thick leather- bit into his bare knees. The cold that permeated the lightless chamber had crept across the whole of his bent legs. Goosebumps had risen across the length of his limbs. Only the fact that he kept his teeth gnashed together prevented their chattering.
Then he remembered, with startling vividness, the real reason behind the ritual. And it had nothing to do with madness, though the instigator of this ritual might have been a little mad.
The room was large, luxurious when compared to his own humble quarters within the Oracle Knight headquarters. Windows tall as a man flanked a long wooden desk. Thick earth hued rugs made the floor soothing to the feet. He felt the effects, despite wearing his toughest riding boots. Leaning back into a tall backed chair, the white clad commandant stared upon his student. Green eyes met blue, and nothing passed between them. No information, no mutual respect, not even a greeting. As silent as the shadows whose hue he constantly wore, Asch had slipped into Van's private office without even bothering to knock on the door.
At last it was Van who broke the silent, quoting a bit of scripture for his disgruntled pupil, a cynical curl to his lips telling them both how much Van believed in what he was saying.
"Your sins, what they may be, will come alive in the unholy dark. They will haunt you, and chill you, and the warm oblivious of slumber shall not be yours. You shant blunt the claws by seeking the solace a normal man would partake."
"Meaning I can't sleep." Asch interpreted the real meaning behind the scripture with the lazy ease of one well read.
"And you must abstain from comfort for a whole twenty four hours." The Commandant added wryly.
Not amused, the red haired Cantor glared at his mentor. Their relationship, once a thing of ease and closeness had become strained due to the young man's "forced exile" to Daath. Arms crossed over his chest, Asch the Bloody –though not official christened such by the Fon Master yet, it was only a matter of time before the whole of the Church called him so- allowed himself a small growl. Only that quiet sound escaped Asch's lips… but it was enough. A world of meaning and frustration became known to the Commandant, and to that Van allowed himself a real smile.
"You sit in a room -a closet really- for twenty four hours, half naked, deprived of light. When you're done you put on some ceremonial robes, tell the Fon Master that the road of Lorelie is better illuminated. Just do that and you get your freedom. No more asking for leave to go where you wish, no more page long reports to explain the most minor of your actions." Leaning forward across the table Van cast his pupil a grin. "You wander Daath like a caged wolf, starving for the world. Complete the ritual and you can have what you want. Freedom, power, all will be yours. And the cost, the catch, you might ask? One night's worth of sleep and some hollow words."
Asch tasted the words; they rang true, at the moment. He'd mull them over to their full extent at a later time. Divide and calculate clause and motive to words until he could mark the half lies with the full. He'd hoard the small particles of truth that were peppered throughout, and use them later, for his own ends. In satisfaction with his own plans, Asch nodded, only that.
Van chuckled, amused, and perhaps wondered what fed the fires housed behind those emerald eyes.
"It's temping, then, the power granted after the ritual?"
Still smiling, a feral bearing of teeth made absolutely savage by the mass of edges that his favored hair cut gave him, the fallen knight of Fende actually laughed. "Then you'll complete the rite?"
"Ah, the sullenness of an adolescent!"
"Adult." Asch corrected. "I went through my rite of passage… my coming of age last month. You might want to read my "I'm taking leave of Daath" paperwork more carefully if you missed something as blatant as that."
It was worth it, those words, even the heavy consequences of companionship, just to see Van's mouth sag open in shock. As his amusement deepening to glee, Asch stepped back, into the shadows that shrouded the door. The darkness hid his features from those suddenly piercing eyes. Hoping to shock information out of his estranged pupil, Van recovered himself fast and leaned forward. The motion was reminiscent of a snake going to strike, Van's venom of choice was the stolen truth gathered by his spies.
"You were sighted with members of the Dark Dream, an acting troupe, in Sheridan at that time."
Asch only smiled. He'd already banned Noir from coming to Daath. Outside of the religious capital she was safe, so Asch the Bloody callously shrugged. Made a show of throwing her to the wolves, knowing well that if she ever heard of the incident she would laugh and toast him for getting the one up on Van.
"I had some fun trying to drink Urushi under the table." Asch said, his emerald hued eyes going distant with wistfulness. "And Noir's… companionship was very satisfying."
Shock, disgust, horror flashed across Van's face. On reflection Asch could have said that this little show he was being treated too was the most honest. Van's disgust wasn't feigned, it was honest, and for being that it was double amusing.
"You… that woman… she's over twice your ag-"
"Really Master." Asch chortled, bowed, and decided now was the perfect time to open the door and let himself out. "Do try to keep your mind out of the gutter."
"Lu... Asch!" Van barked, seeing that his pupil was going to leave. "You get back here! I want an expla-"
"Ask your spies." Asch snarled. Slamming the door behind him he ran. Ran from Van... to what? To Lorelie? "Unlikely." Asch growled under his breath as he slowed his dash to a mere trot. His trot turned into an unhurried walk; after all, any haste was frowned at by the Order. The Score would get you where you needed to go at the proper time if you were truly needed...
Secure in the knowledge none would dare break his "most sacred" solitude, Asch snarled into the darkness around him. He repeated the sentiments he had felt upon hearing that line of pure stupidity years ago. He repeated the words that he dared not utter at that time or any time preceding this time. Fear of the consequences had forever tempered him, had been an eternal censoring of his words, but never of his thoughts. Those were still his, no matter what happened, no matter what they said, he'd think as he pleased and would act upon his thoughts when he could.
Despite his now chattering teeth and numb lips Asch smirked and carried on. His next words were harsh, and sharp, and extremely profane. To the unjudging darkness around him Asch coldly suggested Lorelie and Van take on a very questionable pose while engaging in a highly unlikely –and possibly physically impossible- activity. Then, with a quiet laugh for his own juvenile lapse, the Cantor decided what the hell. He'd pass one of these long hours enjoying himself and getting a little practice in while he was at it!
Wracking his brain Asch proceeded to dredge up ever profane phrase he'd ever heard and directed it at Van. Then, just to be fair, Asch threw a few of the milder ones at Lorelie, Yulia, and Mohs.