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The horizon does not exist...you can eternally head west.

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"Yakumo, do you take-"

"Yes, she does. No need to keep asking like that."

Yakumo glanced sidewards, but before she could speak silver serpents manifested from her gown; she clenched her teeth and kept silent.

A servant came from the right and held up a cushion, Ryuma took the dull brown crown off of it. As he turned to her, he said :"Yakumo, with this I will hold you under my control forever, as my wife."

"Stop..." She stepped back, but there was little in her power to do.

Suddenly, a screeching loud noise broke the icy silence. The large entrance doors fell forward, the crowds stepped back to avoid being squashed under them. A small, humanoid form stood in the bright light coming from the hall, his face without expression but they all senses the destructive aura around him. Fearsome whispers rose from the crowds.

Yakumo's face lit up as she too recognized him. "Mashuranbo!" Ryuma looked tense for a moment, then smirked and placed down the crown. "Do not fear, for I control him with my dark card." It did little to calm the crowd though.

Taking Yakumo's arm, he took a few steps down the stairs. "Come forward Mashuranbo. Come and see how I marry the girl you love."

Mashuranbo obliged.

"See how he obeys me? Mashuranbo, kneel down!"

Mashuranbo obliged.

Horror crossed Yakumo's face, mixed with sadness. Ryuma turned to her, holding onto her arm as he stepped back on the platform. With his free hand he took the crown again. The whispers died down.

Yakumo's eyes remained on Mashuranbo, who looked right back at her, entirely stoic. "Are you still there...?"

As the crown came closer to Yakumo, it growled againt. With a sudden quick movement it warped its form and twisted itself around her head. It returned to its original shape quickly, growled once more and then froze. Yakumo felt a chaotic opressive energy work its way into her mind, into every corridor of her awareness before she could even so much think about a way to defend. As ice her mind and her will frozen, until there were only the words of Ryuma.

Nothing else had a meaning.

Ryuma stood still in the hall, the icy cloud settling slowly around him. He would love to smite someone for this, someone who would squirm and respond and scream, but he knew it had no use. He just had to bare it, keep perfecting his instructions, keep elaborating the system and...

Darnit, he was the emperor! He ruled all of the American continent! He should not be having to deal with stupid little word misinterpretation issues!

Calm down. I can handle this. I've led wars and invasions. I can deal with retarded little problems like this. he told himself.

"Mashuranbo, those were not invaders. Those were your reflections."

Anything that looks out of place with the court may be attacked.

After Mashuranbo had killed yet another random person he had come across, Ryuma had decided to issue the order that Mashuranbo was only to attack things that looked out of place. He had had him introduced to every court member, had shown him images of every general or royalty that might be visiting. Random non-important people were okay, so that should have sufficed.

Too bad he lived in a castle made out of ice.

At first, everything had been glorious to Ryuma. He had obtained the most powerful entity on the planet as his obedient servant and the last human on the planet as his trophy wife.

From what he had heard, Yakumo was actually just around seven years old mentally. Against expectations, she knew how to behave properly even with a mind-numbing spell on her. Yakumo by default knew fancy things like how to use tableware or walk with a dress without tripping on it and was generally very elegant. Well, except for one little incident, but that was to blame on one of the magical snakes that composed her dress going after a mouse.

Mashuranbo on the other hand was...disappointing. Sure, he obeyed basic principles like like sit, stay, kill, come closer, go away, play dead, but so far the most complicated command he had been able to execute was "roll over the floor". Anything beyond that was lost on the "god of destruction".

As usual, there was no reply to his statement. Mashuranbo stood as a statue between the busted western wing of the castle, waiting for orders. Ryuma still hoped somebody would come and tick him off so that he could vent his frustration somewhere.

The first to appear unfortunately was Yakumo, whom he could not zap as her stupidly feeble body would probably die of it. The court had figured this out very quickly, so if something had to be done during little crisis situations such as now, they always sent her first.

Emotionless, the human doll said :"The ministers wish to inquire to your wellbeing."

"Idiots. Tell them to get over here and clean this mess up!"

Yakumo bowed briefly and then retreated, doing as she was told. She quickly made her way down the hallway, through the door, back to the center of the court. On the way, she met Unga.

"What happened?'

"We have no more western wing."

"Is lord Ryuma alright?"

At the worried sound in the old one's voice, a distant Yakumo looking through the dull eyes jerked, wanted to reply he was alright, she did not have to worry. Even if she was close to downright hating Ryuma, she could not help pity this old woman who cared so much for him, something he failed to see.

"He seems to be." she said coldly, all she could do.

Unga sighed. "Can't keep this up for much longer." she muttered. Yakumo had heard her speak of foretold disaster if Ryuma were to try and control the "god of destruction". This fear was a sentiment Yakumo shared, but as usual could not express. Mashuranbo killed, and not just the way Mashura would strike down an enemy in rage. This was not to protect, this was...only for the sake of destruction.

"Did he give any orders?"

"The ministers are to come and clean up the mess."

"What? But...that's insane, we have workers for that! You stay right here, I shall go talk to him."

As creator of the crown, Unga had control over her as well, though Ryuma had the final say. However, since stay here did not directly conflict with telling the idiots to help clean the mess, she stayed put. In her far last corner of her mind, Yakumo breathed a sigh of relief. The ministers were a rowdy little bunch of reptiles and salamanders, fearing Ryuma, but fearing Mashuranbo more. They'd started raising their voices lately and like Ryuma were prone to take out their anger on random servants, so she did not like having to play storm crow.

Unfortunately, after several minutes the ministers came down the hall, looking to inquire what the turmoil was about. Yakumo tried with all her might to disobey the order, but could not. The moment the first passed her, a gigantic snapper turtle, she said :"Lord Ryuma wishes you to go clean up the destroyed west wing."

They had ignored her at first, but the group now froze put. "Excuse me?"

"Lord Ryuma wishes you to go clean up the destroyed west wing."

"Us? What got into his head?" balked the snapper turtle.

"As if we were common servants!" added another, a slender Dimetrodon.

"Shhh, not when she can hear!" said a undersized Hadrosaur.

"What does that matter? He already knows we complain! I wouldn't be surprised if he can hear everything we say with all that magic ice here." said the fourth, a tall salamander.

"I care neither. This is sickening, that brat already was bad before he got control of Mashuranbo and now he lost all respect! I'm won't be cleaning up anything!" As a dinosaur, the Hadrosaur minister was not cold blooded and had considerable less fear of Ryuma, since he could not get his brain frozen over spontaneously were Ryuma to take a dislike to him. He turned and returned to the court hall.

An uneasy silence fell. As vocal as the bunch could be, they were not entirely sure what to do. They could go there, and face an angry Ryuma and Mashuranbo, or be disobedient. The remaining three looked at each other for a moment, then the snapper looked at Yakumo.

"Why are you standing there like that?"

"Unga told me to stay here."

They bent closer to each other, Yakumo could not hear all they were saying, but there was something about her having been in the inner rooms.

"You, human. Do you know how the walls work?"

"No."

"Try it differently." said the Dimetrodon. "How much can he see through the walls?"

"Everything."

"The past and future too?"

"No and no." For as far as she knew anyway.

"Okay, listen, human. We were not here. We did not talk to you. If Ryuma asked whether you told the ministers to come, you did not do so. We are currently not serving as ministers, so you did not tell the ministers. Do you understand? You have yet to do it." said the snapper.

"I have yet to do it."

"Great. Come on, my friends, let's head back to our offices and pretend we were hiding after we heard the explosions, shall we?" said the salamander.

"Excellent idea."

With that, they were gone.

She remained alone, nothing happened for a long time, till Ryuma and Unga finally came down the hall. She turned, Ryuma seemed not much calmer, Unga was right at his side pleading about something. When he saw Yakumo stand still, he sharply glanced at Unga.

"I believe I told her to go fetch those useless ministers, did you stop her?"

"Yes, my lord, but only because-"

The old frog collapsed as the electricity coursed through her, she gasped for breath.

"Does everything have to be difficult lately?" He continued walked, made a short motion with his hand for Yakumo to follow and did not look back. She could hear Unga erupt in a coughing fit, wanted to go help her, couldn't. Ryuma walked a little before her, uncaring...she wished she had taken the sword.

Unga's claims he should at least treat the ministers with some respect meant nothing to Ryuma, they were weak fools. He'd already worn down a variety of ministers, they could be replaced. But she did have a point about it not being a good idea to be replacing ministers right now, as exposing them to Mashuranbo's presence might result in. He had left him in the west wing, since he couldn't destroy anything new there anymore.

Ryuma had war plans and the ministers were the ones engaging in the negotiations with the lower lords and their troops, arranging the armies. Even with Mashuranbo they could not face Rusephine without proper border defense. Military tactics and the like was new to Ryuma, something he only knew from his parent's stories. Within the realm of cold blooded vertebrates, a frost elemental had an explicit advantage, but the birds were different players altogether.

He left it as it was, for today, and ordered dinner to be served early. Ever since Mashuranbo was in the castle, he had noticed two things about his court : more gossip and more nervous servants trying harder to grovel. This annoyed him, since it meant they weren't groveling to their best before Mashuranbo had come.

In a few hours, those exact underlords would be arriving for report. Unga liked to call it negotiations, but that was a word for people who had to relent to demands. Hence, to Ryuma it was just report.

He watched Yakumo at the other end of the table, his only company. Well, not really, she was more like a doll. Briefly he considered taking the crown off and just play with her a little, to have a little fun, but no, he could do without extra fuss right now. Besides, he didn't want his perfect picture ruined. With her will free, she wouldn't act her part.

Without really noticing, Ryuma's thoughts shifted towards her and drifted on from there. As much as he hated to admit it, he also kept her alive because she was something like him. Many Enterrans were humanoids, but especially in this domain there were few who had actual human features. The others were animals, but Ryuma's parents hadn't been. After having escaped the camps they had been able to pass for humans for a long time, building a fortune with their magic skills and distancing themselves as much as they could from their miserable life they'd come from.

Sure, Ryuma had usurped his father, but that didn't mean he'd abandon the life style he'd been raised with.

He hadn't hated his parents, but he hadn't loved them either. They just weren't themselves anymore after they kept on absorbing their prey, gaining their strength. For that reason Ryuma had not even considered absorbing Mashuranbo. A second mind scourging through his soul, he knew he wouldn't quite be himself anymore after that. Especially not if it were those three idiots Yakumo had been traveling with. Quite a revolting idea, he might even end up growing sentiments.

A little voice of his own told him he had kept the human exactly for sentimental reasons.

Decorational reasons, he corrected himself. He kept Yakumo for decorational reasons. Shut up, voice.

As he mused, he did not notice the servant who entered and tried to pull his attention. So when the shivering iguana came up right aside of him and drew his attention, he sharply turned and snapped.

"What?"

The iguana shrank back and bowed as low as he could, apologizing reverently.

"Get to the point already!"

"The warlords have arrived and-"

"Gnnnnn...never a moment's peace anymore. Who allowed them to come early?"

Yakumo looked to the right. As Ryuma had cried out, a servant trying to serve the next course had dropped the plate. Ryuma was ticked off, just waiting for someone to be angry at...

She had no permission to speak, had been forbidden earlier to assist anyone who needed help and could not disobey...directly.

With a sudden jerk she stood up, shoving the chair back with force. Ryuma looked her way, immediately spotted the spilled food aside of the long table. "Look at that mess, what are you doing, Yakumo?" That little voice in his head said that maybe she was breaking the control. He shoved it back.

"I need to go." said Yakumo. She hadn't been forbidden to tell untruths either.

"Oh...uhm...watch out next time you stand up." he said, waving his hand dismissively, the focussed on the messenger again who had been summing up who was arriving.

Yakumo carefully walked around the servant cleaning, out of the hall and smiled.

She did not see Ryuma again for the rest of the day. While in her room, she did hear him storm in for a moment and enchant the walls to see something, but as she was not called she could not check what it was this time.

Night came and she followed the routine Unga had dictated her, even going to sleep on order even though she didn't want to dream.

It had been the same every night, an icy prison with no movement. At least when she was awake, there was the sensation of walking, seeing, hearing...asleep, there was nothing but the cold. She could not even close her eyes there. The cold spell stung and hooked endlessly into her mind, thoughts were all she had left. Even if she had to try and memorize the entire castle, map it out to test when awake, as long as she did something.

No words for you. The serpent swallowed the little bunny. You're in it's stomach now.

The crown had a voice, but it did not often speak to her. Was it malicious, did it want her to suffer the silence? All it said were taunts, attempts to tingle her hatred.

That was what Ryuma wanted, after all. He had given her a chance, invited her to take the sword.

One thought she had no trouble keeping, but it was a thought of hate. She should have taken the sword. If she had taken it, she might have been able to help Mashura, Sago and Kutal. Now, she was useless and they were suffering. She had seen Mashuranbo kill senselessly, as he had done in her dream. No...Ryuma's vision that had been. It was Ryuma's doing, that was not the true Mashuranbo.

Are you sure?

Mashura liked to fight, didn't he? He fought and he destroyed the cores of those he killed, giving them no chance to return. Maybe...

Desperately Yakumo shifted her thoughts back to the castle, to what she had seen that day.

Many more fearful eyes. The servants, the ministers, the generals. All fear their master and they feared her and they feared Mashuranbo. Three things they believed would kill them if they made a wrong move. The whispers were loud, they spoke without regard of her presence. Ryuma was mad, Ryuma was insane, it would be Ryuma's downfall...the same again and again. Mashuranbo, the god of destruction and Yakumo, the last of the accursed humans, they'd break free and destroy them all.

There were no pleasant thoughts to attain. The crown did not allow her to bring back memories of her times before the castle, she only remembered Mashura, Sago and Kutal as entities she loved, their personalities...but where had they met, what had brought them here? She had no way of telling.

But this night, something was a little different. She could move.

There was one pleasant thought, just that pathetic little one. She'd been able to spare one servant from being Ryuma's wrath ball this day, and maybe if she worked hard enough...

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