**Author's Note: I bawled like a little girl writing this D: I might write an alternate ending if I can find another idea as powerful..but I've been sitting on this chapter for quite a while now. I do not own Demon Diary or its pretty characters blahblahblah. I'm so very very sorry this took SOO long to finish. I have confidence issues ; - ; **
VII. Only a Memory
"Eclipse… ? You do not plan to sleep away the entire day, do you..?"
The voice was strange, though it should not have been. For some reason, the voice of his own master came as peculiar to him. It was almost as though he had not heard it call out to him in years. The demon rose from his slumber at long last and observed the man who moved about the room so casually. "I've been sleeping?" he asked of his master.
"Far too much. I had to attend the summons all on my own. Oh.. And Krayon asked after you."
"Forgive me," Eclipse sighed forth. Immediately did he rise to his feet. His body felt tired for some reason. There was a odd heaviness within his mind. "Did it go well, Lord Raenef?"
The man smiled devilishly so. But, then again, hadn't he always? "Interested? Well, you should have been there, then. I'm not telling you. It'll give you reason to be sure to attend the next one with me rather than dream."
Krayon smiled when he returned home. It was a strangely human home when considering the realm he truly reigned over. Due to his healthy rivalry with Raenef IV, he was allowed to make home within the human realm as well. There, he was able to allow his human wife her mortal desires. It appeared she had been to the market again. It was hard to resist threatening the merchants into giving up their goods and services for free. After all, he was very capable of doing so. "Letti?" he called forth.
"Coming!" the woman answered.
That meant she wanted to ask about things again. Even if she wanted her freedom as a human, she still weaseled her way into the demon-world's politics, didn't she? He observed how his son ran ahead to prepare himself for the afternoon. They had an eventful day of bartering with simpletons, after all. He spied the bags little Krayon held within his hands.
Then, the majestic Lettrice finally showed herself. Her golden hair, as always, was worn down. Her blue eyes seemed to twinkle after him when she smiled. They embraced, but the tender moment did not last as long as Krayon might have hoped.
As Krayon's fingers played through her hair, Lettrice asked, "What was the meeting about this time?"
It was a simple question. It was also one he could have simply brushed aside. Any excuse could have presented itself if it were a subject he could not speak with her about. But there was a problem. What had the summons been about..? Strange.. he could not remember. Had he been gone long? As he held her so tightly, it felt as though he had not done so in lifetimes. "I've missed you," he answered with a sincerity that seemed largely out of place.
"Oh, you're not going to get out of it that easily…," Letti scolded with a laugh.
"I've never seen you so focused on your studies before. I'm proud of you, Chris."
"Yeah.. Thanks..," the boy answered uncertainly.
"Is there something bothering you?" the elderly man asked.
Chris pushed aside the old texts. As he gazed down upon the paper, he realized just how much he had written. With so many scribbles and writings, his hand should have been pained greatly. Somehow, he felt as though he hadn't written any of it at all, though he was certain it was his. "I feel like I have forgotten something, Master."
"You were not dozing off all this time, were you?" The man's expression turned stern.
"No..! Well… maybe..," Chris began to wonder. It was a mistake. He cringed and his hands flew up over his head to his defense. "Master! I wasn't dozing! I just feel all…weird all of a sudden!"
Erutis released a heavy sigh as she shut the door behind her. Another long day, but she was finally making progress. It took a lot of hard work and determination to get to the top. One did not simply just wake up as the leader of their own guild. But she was confident she would get there soon. Things were finally looking up. Maybe she did not kill herself a demon lord or anything fanciful like that, but a couple common thugs were brought in for their bounties. It made the bosses happy, so that was good enough.
Too tired to have cleaned up, she groggily allowed herself to fall upon her bed. Sleep at long last, she thought.
Giggles and laughter surfaced from the ground outside below, disturbing Erutis as she began to shut her eyes. It was not really that late. She should not have been surprised that there would be people up and about outside.
Frustrated, she threw herself from the bed. The door to the balcony was thrown open violently. She was prepared to shout obscenities down after those who disturbed her midday nap, but then she found herself faltering. She spied the trio walking by. It looked like a husband and wife along with their child. Had she seen them somewhere before? Were they locals? She found herself staring, though not at them all.
The man laughed and smiled. He had long curling red hair. He dressed nicely. He was obviously a lord of some sort. The way he carried himself suggested blood of some higher royalty. The way he looked after the woman with the golden hair left Erutis, for some reason, heartbroken. She felt as though she had just spied a lover having an affair. How silly… This was someone she did not even know. This was a man and his family.
How strange… that she felt such a way out of the blue like that.
The door to the balcony was shut again. The curtains were pulled over it to block out the light. A strange dread had filled her. It flooded and weighed heavily at her very core. She felt she had forgotten something important all of a sudden. Had she left her money pouch at the tavern? Was her sword safely stashed away? The doors were all locked weren't they? Even though she could not think of anything left out of place..something still felt wrong.
"You seem awfully distracted," Raenef IV spoke rather boredly.
"Forgive me, sire."
"I'm tired of hearing that over and over again… We should go have fun I think.."
"What do you propose?"
"What do I propose..? You have no ideas? Eclipse.. I'm starting to wonder if perhaps you're the one who needs looking after." The charming grin was flashed after his servant. "You're not finally showing your age, are you?"
"Of course not. Don't be ridiculous."
Raenef fondled the scrolls idly. He had been busy thinking up new incantations. There was never time for rest. The more he could learn, the more powerful he could become. His inability to use magic would not stunt his reign. He was determined to prove that. "Go away if you're just going to stand there. You're making me nervous."
"As you wish..," Eclipse answered with a bow of his head.
Raenef only then looked up when Eclipse had vanished. His hands reached, pulling forth from beneath the scrolls the one that was meant to have been the summons. Strange.. the paper was blank. The proper address was there, but the actual body of the text was missing.
Something in the world was out of place.
Eclipse felt certain of that much as he stood watch along the fortress's walls outside. The cold was hardly noticed by him. His mind was elsewhere. It was so unlike him to have been…distracted from his duties like this. Stranger yet, it felt familiar somehow. He was never so careless. It was upsetting his master.
His dark eyes scanned the horizon. The war was behind them now. The only real threat to his master that remained was his rival, Krayon. Unfortunately, if he was hoping for any further tension between the two, it seemed useless. Neither would strike out at the other now. Lettrice formed some sort of truce between them, he supposed. Even though she was only a human, she commanded absolute full attention of the two most powerful demon lords.
This was… the height of his lord's power. The war was over. Raenef had made more than a name of himself from it. It seemed a miracle from the gods that they got out of it alive. There had been a close call, hadn't there? Odd. He could not recall what it was. He knew there was a time in which his lord came inches from death. It felt very likely he would have lost him. Fear struck him for the first time in that moment and, strangely, he could not remember anything of it. "Am I..? Am I really just forgetting…?"
There was only one answer.
"Meruhesae…," Eclipse called forth as soon as he appeared within the seer's domain, only to have found another voice calling the same name. He eyed the lord suspiciously. "What are you doing here…?"
"I could ask you the same thing," Krayon scoffed.
"I'm glad I haven't been left out," spoke a third voice at their backs.
Both Eclipse and Krayon turned to survey Lord Raenef IV.
"Something is out of place. It's as if the entire world itself has changed," Raenef IV explained when they all three stood about the lounging seer.
The woman surveyed them all carefully. Her gaze repeatedly returned to scrutinize Raenef IV of all others, however. "This is.. how you all feel?" she asked.
"Yes," Krayon answered immediately.
They all eventually turned their attention onto Eclipse. He had not confirmed or denied his thoughts yet.
"Eclipse..?" Raenef IV called out.
"Yes… Yes.. something is definitely out of place.."
"Something is out of place," the woman repeated softly. She tapped away at her lips with the infamous fan. Then, it was held aloft and an airy giggle escaped her. "I don't think that's the case at all. You must be mistaken."
"Meruhesae…," spoke Krayon anxiously.
"Do not get so angry…," the seer spoke with a pout upon her lips. Her eyes lingered however upon the one who was most silent and lost out of the three. "I mean what I said…. Nothing is out of place. Everything is right where it should be…"
Nothing is out of place. Everything is right where it should be… Then why was it that Eclipse felt as though there was a hole within his very soul? The clerics and humans might have finally thought the demon of their nightmares had gone mad if they knew of this illness he fell under.
Raenef IV sighed as he sat beside his servant. A hand left from where it had been placed upon his forehead. "This is most unlike you…"
"Forgive me…," Eclipse whispered. His eyes had shut. He felt so tired. Meruhesae's words might as well have been the incantation to the world's most deadliest curse. Why did they haunt him so? Why did they drain the very life from his body? Was it possible that the words spoken from that wretched seer would be the end of him?
In the darkness of his mind, Eclipse could sense something was there. Was he dreaming now…?
"The demon lord, Raenef IV, has died…"
What…? A nightmare…
"Do you understand? Eclipse?"
No… Just a nightmare…
"It's been a while," giggled Meruhesae's voice.
And when he thought it could not have possibly became worse..
"South. That which you seek is to the south."
Then, there was another voice. It panted and seemed out of breath. It was youthful. It spoke words, but they seemed to fade in and out of existence. Through the darkness of his dream, he swore he saw the shadow of movement. Someone was running…running away from something. For a moment, the figure had glanced back after him.
"…Black..?" the voice whispered, mystified.
Why did it sound so familiar…?
A pain was felt at the back of his head as the dream continued. It felt as though something has pulled harshly upon his hair—the infamously long ponytail. How would anyone have gotten away alive after such a disrespectful action?
"I-I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself!" the voice stammered. More was said, but again it faded in and out. Eclipse could not decipher the words.
Nothingness came again, but then he spied the figure running below him in the dark. It spied him from where he sat perched above.
"How did you get up there?"
"I'll come down," Eclipse answered. He supposed he would humor his own mind. He was curious as to who this mystery person was… However, as he stood just before the form, he still could not see anything but its shadowy silhouette.
"I was just reminded of something I heard once," the voice began, speaking warmly towards him. "If you run across the same person three times in one day, it's not coincidence, but destiny."
Eclipse found himself reaching out after the shadow. It only dissipated away. The hole within him left his body weakened so gravely. One hand clutched at his chest and he stumbled forward. "No.. wait… Who are you…? Why… Why can't I remember…?"
"Mister…," called the voice.
Where was he..? He couldn't spy any more shadows. Eclipse felt his body giving in to the heaviness that fell around him. The darkness felt as though it were caving in on him. He fell upon his hands and knees.
"Are you really a demon?"
I hate being called "Mister."
"Don't call me mister. Please, my name is Eclipse."
"Eclipse. Eclipse. Eclipse... Better memorize it."
"It's alright, Sire."
"Huh? What did you just call me?"
Something had changed. The darkness was gone. The place he knelt was upon a cobbled street. The buildings looked as though they were lived in..but there was no one else in sight. He spied the booted feet that shifted uneasily before him. Slowly did Eclipse raise his gaze.
Blue eyes gazed down innocently after Eclipse. Blond hair was held up in a high ponytail while bangs were allowed loose about his youthful face. He looked surprised when the demon reached out and took his hand. His cheeks turned so red when the demon's lips pressed against it.
"I call you 'Sire' because you are my liege. You are the Demon Lord Raenef the Fifth, King of Demons." Eclipse bowed his head. "Please accept me as your humble servant… and let me accompany you to your domain."
Raenef… How could I have forgotten.. What is it that you've done..?
Next Eclipse knew, he found himself stood outside. The setting was familiar. This was.. another memory he had forgotten.
He immediately turned his attention towards the boy. He looked tired. They must have been training. He always pushed Raenef so hard… "Yes?"
"I… I won't let you down. I'll do my best to become the greatest demon lord ever."
Is this your answer…? Lord Raenef..?
"I meant to say goodbye," spoke the voice at Eclipse's back.
"Raenef…?" Eclipse asked out. He eagerly wished to turn to see him. He wanted to reassure himself that it was the real Raenef. He wanted to be certain it was not another memory he had forgotten. However, he found it impossible to move. Arms held him from behind. They were small. He could spy the fingers that clung into his robe. Slowly, he raised a hand to touch cautiously to them. He was afraid they, like the shadowed forms, would disappear if he were to touch to them. They did not.
"Not every demon lord can change the world, can it?" laughed the voice at Eclipse's back.
"You…. You've done all of this..?"
"It took a lot of convincing the old guy.. the gods.. but everything worked out in the end. Everything is how it should be. Except you… Eclipse.. you have to let me go."
"I cannot do that..," Eclipse answered. He felt the body shudder at his back.
"You have to… It's for the best, Eclipse.."
"Wherever it is you must go… I will follow you."
"No.. Eclipse.. Why?"
Even if no one else could remember Raenef.. Eclipse could. He remembered the demon lord who could bend the very gods to his will. He remembered the demon lord who was kind and sacrificed himself for his friends. He sacrificed himself so that the entire world had changed. Raenef IV prospered and held no ill-will towards the world other than what was required of him. Erutis became well known as a mercenary and sword-master. Chris was well on his way to become the next high-cleric. And Krayon had his human wife back… Raenef's mother, Lettrice.
"Can you stay with me for as long as it takes? Can you stay with me forever?" spoke the Raenef within Eclipse's memory.
"Forever… if you wish."
It was Eclipse's final memory and the answer to the question asked of him.