Happy Valentine's / Single's Awareness Day! Because nothing says "I love you" like killing the Mafia. o.O
Since the last update, animechick247 has released not one, but TWO lovely pieces of fan art for this story. Please check them out! The links are on my profile page.
Nothing else to say, except enjoy the chapter!
Kuroshitsuji / Black Butler © Yana Toboso, Square Enix, A-1 Pictures, Yen Press, and FUNimation Entertainment. The following is a fan-made story written for entertainment purposes only. No profits are being made. Please support the official release.
There was a sort of deep roaring somewhere in Lucy's ears as she marched hurriedly back out to the stables. The roar was quiet, but loud enough to distract her from the mounting panic she felt rising up within her. And thanks to that, she was able to start brainstorming a plan almost immediately.
She couldn't be completely sure that it had been the Ferros who had taken her cousin, but they were the most likely people to do it. After, Ciel had been expecting some sort of action from them after taking the key, and Azzurro Vanel had been one of the nobles at the meeting. It didn't seem too unlikely that Vanel would plant a few cronies behind the house, take a carriage home, and order his men to kidnap the unfortunate Watchdog when no one was looking.
If the Ferro family is behind this, Lucy reasoned, crossing the back gardens at a jog (she couldn't risk drawing attention to herself by running), then that means they haven't gotten their storehouse key back yet. They'd obviously want to kidnap Ciel to force Sebastian into returning it, so until they get it back, they at least won't kill Ciel. Her mind flashed back to the piece of paper tucked into Sebastian's coat. That must have been the ransom note. So he knows about it, too…that's good. I definitely wouldn't be able to do this on my own.
Yes, to know about the kidnapping, and more importantly, to do something about it. Rash though it was, Lucy had instantly decided, almost as soon as the bullet touched her hand, that she would go and rescue Ciel.
Really, what other option was there? She couldn't tell Madame Red or the servants – what could they do about it? They would only panic and run about like fools while Ciel suffered. She could have probably confided in Sebastian, but he had vanished, most likely to wherever Ciel was being held. Admittedly, the safest thing to do would be to wait in the guest room and leave the whole thing to the Phantomhive butler. Still, Lucy was not foolish enough to believe that, amazing though Sebastian was, he could handle what would most likely be an army of pissed-off Italian drug addicts on his own. She may have zero combat experience, but she'd be a greater help than any of the others.
Now, how should I go about doing this…where do the Ferros even live? I suppose I could just follow the tire tracks…oh, but what about the tracks from the carriages? How can I tell them apart…? I suppose…well, Sebastian must have just left – if Diablo goes at a fast gallop, I might be able to catch up with him. And once we get there…er…well, I suppose I could make a distraction, and Sebastian can go fetch Ciel…but how should I distract them? Pass out on the doorstep? No, no one would notice that…oh, if only I had a nicer figure…
Well, she'd come up with something. Time was of the essence, and every second she spent hemming and hawing was another second her cousin was being tortured. She'd just have to improvise, or else think of something on the ride over. Quickening her pace, she rushed the last few feet into the stables, grabbed a saddle, blanket, bridle, and reins, and opened the door of Diablo's stall.
"All right, old boy," she said, throwing the blanket over the stallion's broad back. "Ciel's in trouble, and it's up to us and Sebastian to rescue him. I don't know how far away he's being held, but wherever he is, we'll have to get there as quickly as possible. Can you handle that, boy?" Diablo snorted indignantly, as though insulted by the question. Lucy let out a nervous laugh and patted him on the neck. "That's my boy. All right…up we go…"
She stepped up onto the stool and started to turn around (so to lift herself onto the horse), but paused. Propriety had long since dictated that women ride a horse side-saddle – that is, facing forward with both legs on the horse's left side. The idea was that riding normally (or, "the men's way") would indecently expose the legs of the lady, and may even cause harm to her organs so that she would be unable to bear children. Lucy secretly thought that to be a load of rubbish, but she had gone along with it because she was not keen to show off her spindly little twigs of legs to anyone. But this time, speed, not propriety, was the issue, and her goal was not to be seen anyway. She would go much faster sitting normally. So it was only with a fraction of a second's hesitation that she flung one leg over Diablo's back and pulled herself up onto the saddle. It was a lot less comfortable than side-saddle, but she felt a lot more secure. She'd have to do this more often. No babies for me, I suppose.
She allowed herself a quick smile before her face tightened in a determined frown. "I'm coming, cousin," she whispered, taking the reins. "All right, Diablo, let's be off!"
Diablo let out a whinny of jubilation – this was his element. He snorted and strained at the bit, longing to gallop, but Lucy led him out through the gardens at a trot, glancing towards the windows to see if anyone was watching. She had to appear as though she was going on a normal ride, at the risk of Madame Red or the servants having a conniption.
Much to her mount's frustration, she further slowed him to a walk, and finally to a complete stop as they stepped onto the road in front of the main entrance, where fresh tire tracks had been imprinted into the dust. Her eyes scanned the area with nervous precision – was the gunman still outside? Would he shoot if she rode by? She didn't think she looked that suspicious, but this was the Mafia she was dealing with…Lucy quickly forced her face into a relaxed smile and redoubled her fevered glances. Where could he be? The bushes? The trees? Behind the hedges…?
But Diablo had had enough. With a wild neigh, the stallion reared onto his back legs (nearly throwing poor Lucy off) and set off at a gallop down the street. Lucy let out a yelp of alarm and bent forward so that her upper body and lower body were perpendicular waiting for the telltale shot of a gun.
Thankfully, she made it through the gates and down the forest path, unwounded and still managing to keep her seat. Either the gunman had already left, or he had not found her dangerous enough to shoot at. She glanced behind her, her eyes streaming from the speed of Diablo's gallop. The mansion was already far behind them, and there was no sign of anyone following them. Letting out a sigh of relief, she turned forward again and clicked the reins, spurring the horse into an even faster pace. She had never ridden at this speed before; it was all she could do to hold the reins and her hat, and stay in the saddle. She was frightened of falling and injuring herself here, where there would be no one to help her; nevertheless, she didn't slow Diablo's pace. At the speed they were going, they were bound to catch up to both the car and Sebastian. They wouldn't have to worry about the tracks at –
Something suddenly registered in Lucy's mind. She had been too upset and too concerned with her planning to notice this before, but when she had entered the stable, all six horses had been there. How in the world did Sebastian plan to rescue Ciel at a walking pace? Did that mean they were holding the young lord somewhere within walking distance? Lucy leaned forward slightly to make sure they were still following the tracks…they might have been following carriage tracks the whole time…might they have already passed it? Lucy was considering doubling back when a horrible, blood-curdling scream pierced the air.
Lucy gasped in surprise and yanked on the reins, pulling Diablo to a halt. For once, the horse obeyed instantly and stood stock-still, quiet as a mouse. Lucy looked all around for the source of the scream, but there was not another living thing in sight, not even birds. It had been a human's scream, definitely, and by the sound of it, its owner was being brutally tortured…Lucy's blood ran cold. Was it Ciel?
Another scream – probably an adult male's, too low to be Ciel's (she had never known him to scream at anything anyways). This time, however, it was accompanied by a loud banging noise and an enormous cloud of dust that rose over the treetops in the distance. Lucy instinctively shrank back from the commotion (causing Diablo to skitter a few steps back), but looked up in consternation at the rising dust and grit. "What on earth was that?" she murmured, involuntarily driving Diablo a few steps forward curiously. That bang hadn't been gunfire, but it could've been some sort of weapon that would've raised the dust…and the screaming…
"Maybe it's a torture center run by the Ferros!" she realized, her eyes wide. Yes, that would make sense – if the ransom note had specified an area within walking distance, then there wasn't any other explanation…maybe…
Lucy fidgeted uncomfortably in her saddle. Was Ciel there, or wasn't he? She couldn't waste time thinking about it, but she'd waste even more time if she went to the wrong place…but if it was in walking distance, where else would he be? Besides, even if it wasn't Ciel who was in trouble there, someone definitely was…she couldn't just leave them, could she? But between saving a stranger and saving Ciel, she should automatically pick Ciel…right?
Once again, Diablo made up her mind for her by springing forward and galloping at lightning-speed towards the dust cloud. Lucy sent up a quick prayer that Ciel was there, throwing her arms around the horse's neck to keep from being thrown off. I do want to help these people, but I can't waste any time…
But either way, it didn't look like she'd waste too much time; Diablo was galloping so fast, it was like he was flying. The dust cloud already seemed double the size…now it was triple…the forest was going by as a bright-green blur…Lucy closed her eyes and pressed her forehead against Diablo's neck, feeling dizzy and nauseous. Diablo seemed to know where he was going without his rider's help…he picked up speed, and Lucy's stomach lurched…she felt the stallion turn sharply, heard the leaves and branches rustle as they charged off the path…she felt her arms being scratched by branches…she considered trying to steer Diablo back onto the road, but she felt too ill to even open her eyes…
A bright light suddenly filtered through her eyelids, and she felt Diablo grind to a halt, breathing only slightly harder than normal. Lucy cautiously straightened up, her stomach slowly beginning to settle, and her eyes opened to what she could honestly say was the strangest sight she could ever remember seeing.
There was no torture chamber, or any other building, for that matter, and Ciel was nowhere in sight. There was, however, an automobile (identical to the one she had seen parked behind the mansion) balanced on the precipice of what appeared to be a very steep cliff. It was tilted with its trunk facing downwards, and at such a strange angle that it was a wonder that it hadn't already fallen. It was rocking back and forth regularly in the breeze, though, sending the two young men inside into fits of shivering. The men were dressed in slovenly, everyman-style clothing similar to the men who had taken Ciel, and they looked absolutely terrified (then again, Lucy would be, too, in that situation).
But that wasn't the strangest part of it. Crouched atop the hood of the car and looking immensely pleased with himself was none other than…
Lucy's mouth fell open. "S-S-Sebastian?"
The butler turned his head to look at her without moving from the car. "Ah, Lady Luciana! What a surprise to see you so far from the mansion." He was smiling as though he were helping her from a carriage rather than speaking to her from on top of a strange automobile about to plummet to its demise off of a cliff. "I trust you are feeling better, seeing as you've been able to ride this far out?"
"Er…y-yes, I-I am," she stammered. "Er…w-why are you…shouldn't we help –?"
Sebastian suddenly held up one gloved finger, and Lucy fell silent. "My apologies for interrupting, Lady Luciana, but would you please allow me to finish my conversation with these gentlemen beforehand? I will be with you in just a moment, My Lady."
Lucy blinked a few times, bewildered. Sebastian had never cut her off before. She opened her mouth to answer, but Sebastian had already returned his attention to the imperiled men. He was still smiling, but the smile seemed somehow colder and more…feral. It reminded Lucy of the smiles he would give to the servants after screwing something up, only much, much worse. "Now, as I was saying, gentlemen, I have a few questions for you concerning the whereabouts of my young master. Firstly, I wish to know the name of your employer."
Lucy's heart skipped a beat out of exhilaration. So they do know something about it! That's Sebastian for you, tracking them down like that! She eagerly and desperately leaned forward in anticipation, but the men in the automobile were silent, trembling all over. One of them, the passenger, opened his mouth, but no sound came out. They both seemed quite petrified.
Sebastian's unpleasant smirk widened; he looked like he was greatly enjoying himself, to Lucy's surprise. "Come, now; I am not a patient man. And I assume you remember what happened to Humpty-Dumpty, do you not?" The automobile creaked ominously, and Lucy was sure it would tip and fall right then. It was the height of summer, but she felt chilled to the bone. S…Sebastian…is this…really you?
The passenger seemed to find his voice at last. "A-Azzurro Vanel, f-f-from the F-Ferro family! H-He's got a h-hideout in the E-East End!"
Lucy started, her already wide eyes bulging even further. "So it was him…" she whispered, and Diablo pawed the ground angrily beneath her.
"So it would seem," Sebastian replied simply. He was smiling wider than ever, and a dark shadow seemed to have fallen across his face. He straightened up to his full height, and the automobile creaked once more, rocking back and forth even more furiously. Lucy noticed vaguely that he was carrying a silver serving tray in one hand and what looked like an unwired telephone in the other, but the fact barely registered.
She gasped – kidnappers or not, she couldn't watch these men die. "W-Watch out, Sebastian!" she called out, her voice cracking with fear. "T-That sudden movement…the car, it's going to –"
"Indeed, My Lady," Sebastian murmured. His voice, his face, his countenance…everything seemed like it belonged to a stranger. A stranger that reveled in violence and horror.
The full meaning of words slowly sunk in, and Lucy felt her blood run cold. "No…no, Sebastian…you can't…you c-can't…" But Sebastian merely smiled, heedless of her pleas.
The men in the automobile appeared to have realized their fate as well; they began trembling worse than ever, and the driver pressed his head against the wheel in horror. "W-W-We only w-work for him!" the passenger shouted weakly, reaching out a hand in supplication.
"Oh, I see," Sebastian answered softly, still speaking in that stranger's tongue. He gave them a low bow. "I apologize for holding you up, gentlemen. Do enjoy the rest of your trip."
And before anyone even had time to blink, he was on the ground, away from the cliff, and the automobile was rolling backwards, just barely in balance…Sebastian tossed the severed phone up in the air, and the passenger wordlessly and quite bemusedly caught it. But that little shift in weight was all it took…
Lucy shrieked and clapped her hands over her eyes, but that wasn't enough to block out the men's screams of terror, the deafening CRASH as metal hit earth, the smell of smoke and burning blood…bile rose in her throat once more, and she moved her hands from her eyes to her mouth, still keeping her eyes firmly shut to the destruction. Not the smartest idea, for Diablo, startled by the noise, had begun to rear again, and with no grip on her mount, Lucy began to slide off…
…but with inhuman speed, Sebastian somehow made it from the cliff face twenty feet away to Diablo's side in a matter of seconds to catch her easily before she hit the ground.
Lucy slowly lowered her hands and stared up at her once-again rescuer, swallowing thickly and wishing in the back of her mind that she'd keep down her lunch. "S-Sebastian…?"
"My, my," Sebastian said teasingly, his unusual smile once more becoming polite and serene. "You certainly have a knack for trouble, do you not, Lady Luciana? Yet another similarity to My Lord…"
Lucy blushed on reflex, but she felt no warmth as she gazed up at him. On the contrary, she felt as though her insides had turned to very fragile ice. "You…you…" She took a deep breath and stood up, wrapping her arms around herself (which did nothing to chase away the coldness she was feeling). "…what did you do?" she managed to finally say, her face much paler than usual.
Sebastian, on the other hand, didn't seem bothered at all; in fact, he looked like he was still enjoying himself. "Why, My Lady, I have done nothing at all to those gentlemen. As you plainly saw not a minute ago, the unfortunate automobile lost its balance and fell of its own accord." His smile widened the smallest fraction. "A tragedy, to be sure, but sadly unavoidable."
There were so many things wrong with that statement that Lucy, although very distressed, did not bother addressing them. Instead, she gestured to the edge of the cliff, trying very hard not to look at the plume of smoke. "Are they…are they dead?" she whispered hoarsely.
"Most likely," Sebastian answered cheerfully. "Does that upset you, Lady Luciana?" he added, his smile fading a little.
"Of course it does," she replied weakly, her head becoming light and fuzzy. The ice within her seemed to grow even colder at Sebastian's unconcerned look. "This…th-these were lives, Sebastian! Human lives…they were gone just like…oh, my God…" She felt like she was going to either faint or throw up – wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake?
Sebastian frowned in – could it be…? – confusion. "And yet they conspired with their master to abduct my Young Master, which I am sure you know full well by mow, My Lady. They have done a grievous wrong against the House of Phantomhive, and yet you mourn their deaths?"
Lucy stared at him, the ice growing even colder. "They…they're still lives! No matter how much wrong they had done, and no matter how much I didn't like them, they didn't deserve to die. I mean…what if they had families?"
Sebastian was silent for a long while before sighing quietly. "You are without doubt a very bizarre young woman, Lady Luciana."
Lucy was too ill to be offended, but she still found this rather strange coming from the usually-courteous butler. "…thank you, Sebastian," she responded simply, averting her eyes.
"Forgive me, My Lady, but I did not mean it as a compliment," he said bluntly. Lucy's eyes snapped back to meet his, which were harsher and colder than she'd ever seen them. For once, the smile had left his face. "While I applaud your deductive reasoning, I cannot believe you would be so idiotic to believe that you would be able to go after the Young Master by yourself."
Lucy recoiled as though struck. "I…I just…" she stammered, her cheeks flushing in shame, "I just wanted to h-help…"
"And exactly what help did you believe you could provide?" Sebastian asked, skeptically raising an eyebrow. "Have you any skills in combat?"
"Did you bring a weapon of some sort with you?"
"N-No…I-I was planning to make some sort of d-distraction…"
"And what, pray tell, would that accomplish?" Sebastian challenged, his expression becoming harsher with every word. "Do you expect that Vanel would treat you kinder than he would the Young Master? And if you did manage to distract them, how would you expect to slip away to retrieve the Master by yourself?"
"I…I wasn't think –"
"I should say not, My Lady. Had you not let your emotions drown out your common sense, you might have realized the most rational course of action: informing Madame Red of your discovery."
Lucy bristled in spite of herself. "N-Now hold on! Madame Red couldn't be much more capable than me, could she? She would have only panicked if I'd told her about Ciel!"
"Yes, but even while distressed, her first thought would have been to call Scotland Yard," Sebastian pointed out, "and not to go gallivanting after a crime syndicate without so much as a means of defending herself."
Lucy had no comeback to that, and she knew he was absolutely right. Scotland Yard…why on earth hadn't she thought of that? In hindsight, calling the police seemed like the obvious thing to do. She had never felt so stupid in her entire life. "I-I'm so sorry, Sebastian," she whispered, hanging her head.
"As you should be. You have placed yourself in a good deal of danger and could have gotten yourself seriously injured." He paused, and once more a smile slowly appeared across his face. "Having said that, what's done is done, and I do appreciate the faster mode of transportation." He gingerly patted Diablo's neck as he said this; the stallion snorted angrily and shot him a glare. "I do believe you might be a useful lookout, My Lady," he went on with a smirk, mounting Diablo expertly (much to the horse's displeasure).
Lucy looked up in surprise. "Y…You still want me to come along? Even after I –"
"But of course, My Lady," he purred in response, his smile widening. "As I have said, your reasoning skills and courage alike have greatly impressed me. You have proven that you value the Young Master's safety over your own – foolish, but necessary for his rescue." He held out a hand. "Two heads are better than one, My Lady; I would be delighted to accompany you to Mr. Vanel's manor."
Lucy looked from Sebastian's face to his hand and back again. What's going on here? Just a moment ago, he was scolding me about putting myself in danger, and now he's offering to take me with him? How is that different than what I was doing before? Does he think that just because he would be there, I wouldn't be in any danger? Just what is he planning?
Still, her desperation to rescue Ciel was stronger than her anxiety about Sebastian, even if only by a little bit. Wordlessly, she grabbed Sebastian's hand and allowed her to pull her onto the saddle (sitting side-saddle this time – there was no way, even in a situation like this, that she would show off her legs to a man).
"There we are," Sebastian said with a smile, double-checking that his charge was seated securely. He pulled a silver pocket watch out of his tailcoat, checked the time, and frowned. "Oh my, look at the time. If we don't hurry, we shall be late for dinner. Let us be off." He clicked the reins smartly. Diablo's ears shot back to lie flat against his head, and he dug his hooves in the ground, firmly intending to stay put.
Sebastian frowned slightly. "Dear me, you are a stubborn beast, aren't you? I had expected you to be better trained than this." Lucy fidgeted uncomfortably behind him.
Diablo swung his head about angrily, his furious red eyes darting between the riders. Lucy could tell that he was torn between bucking off Sebastian and staying still for herself.
"Easy, boy," she murmured, reaching down to pat him. "We have to get going – Ciel needs us."
Diablo seem to roll his eyes before whinnying loudly and setting off, at once regaining his earlier gallop. It was such a sudden shift that Lucy, seated as she was, was thrown off balance and had to wrap her arms tightly around Sebastian's middle to stay on the horse.
Rather than being angry, Sebastian glanced over his shoulder at her with something like amusement. "Well done, My Lady. You certainly have a way with hellish beasts."
Lucy nodded dumbly, her thoughts elsewhere – on the distinctly un-Sebastian-like behavior of the last few minutes. This wasn't right…the kind, helpful, polite, caring butler she had known for two years had been acting like…well, like a cold-blooded, heartless killer. That wasn't the Sebastian she knew…but I don't know him, do I? I may think I do, but really, what do I know about him? She sighed softly, too disturbed to even register the fact that her arms were around the man she loved.
Sebastian…what are you?
Sebastian didn't look it, but he was a very skilled rider. Naturally, he would be, of course – he was so good at just about everything else, Lucy would have been very surprised if he hadn't. Add that to the natural speed and stamina of El Diablo, and the two-and-a-half hour ride into the city took only a mere forty-five minutes. The trees morphed into buildings before Lucy's eyes in almost an instant. It was a warm, sunny day, and the streets of London were packed with people and carriages. Sebastian managed to weave his way in between the traffic without hitting anyone, but the shouts and oaths in their wake was enough confirmation for Lucy to know that they were going way too fast. Not that this was a bad thing – it had now been over two hours since Ciel had been kidnapped, and every second they wasted was a second of patience Vanel lost. He could become so impatient that he wouldn't bother waiting for the key, and end up killing Ciel right then and there…Lucy shuddered and tried not to think about that.
On and on they went, all the way across the city into the seedy East End. The polished, well-to-do shops and houses became filthy, decrepit hovels, and the cheerful, law-abiding citizens all but disappeared. The streets were covered with grime and litter, and Diablo ended up stumbling more than once, much to Lucy's panic. Every now and then, several pairs of dark, beady eyes would glare out at them from back alleys and from behind cracked doors. Lucy was feeling more uncomfortable by the second, but a glare from Sebastian and a neigh from Diablo sent them scurrying away every time.
I see why Ciel does so much business here, Lucy thought, embarrassedly tightening her grip on Sebastian's waist. This definitely looks like the sort of place where criminals would gather. Just look at it…those poor people…
But there was one thing in the East End that wasn't reeking of filth and poverty – a large, stately mansion a few streets away, made of sparkling-white brick and closed off by an ornate pair of wrought-iron gates. Even from here, Lucy could see faint outlines of guards patrolling the widow's walk and the space beyond the gates. Their guns were as noticeable as fireworks on a summer night.
Lucy shivered again and leaned as close to Sebastian's ear as she could without her blush becoming too apparent or her tongue too tied. "Do you think that's Vanel's hideout?"
Sebastian glanced towards the mansion without turning his head, pulling Diablo to a reluctant halt. "Undoubtedly – it matches the address specified to me in the Ferro's message, at least, so we can be sure that Master. Vanel and the Young Master will be present." He chuckled softly. "Although I must say, lovely as that mansion may be, it is altogether too conspicuous for a sanctuary of a drug trafficker."
Lucy smiled weakly – she didn't see how Sebastian could be laughing at this point. "Th-That's true…s-so, er, do you have a plan on how to get inside?"
"Several, as a matter of fact," Sebastian answered smoothly. He pulled out his pocket watch again, frowned at it, and clicked it shut with a snap. "However, as we are on a rather tight schedule, I believe I shall follow through with the quickest."
"Which would be?" Lucy prompted, already knowing and dreading the answer.
Sebastian looked over his shoulder and smiled at her levelly. "Exactly what I have been instructed to do, of course: enter directly through the front entrance with the key to Master Vanel's storehouse."
Lucy's heart sank as she started to shake her head frantically. "N-No, Sebastian, p-please don't do that!" she begged in a whisper (even though they were out of earshot of the Ferro guards, she was too paranoid and terrified to risk raising her voice).
Sebastian raised an eyebrow, still smiling with courteous amusement. "Why ever not, My Lady? The Young Master's safety will be best guaranteed if I perform the tasks I was ordered to perform. Moreover, we are behind schedule, and this manner of proceedings will be both quick and simple. After all if we were to try something more time-consuming, then dinner would have no chance of being prepared in time."
If Lucy didn't know any better, she'd say that Sebastian's only concern was that dinner wasn't late. Good thing she knew better. "B-But, Sebastian," she pressed, still unconvinced, "even if Vanel did send a ransom note, those guards aren't just going to let you walk in! They could have very well blamed you for the deaths of those other two men! What if they shoot you?"
A hint of Sebastian's former sternness flashed in his eyes. "While I am flattered that you are so concerned about a humble servant, Lady Luciana, you ought to be more concerned for your own welfare. You are, after all, at a severe disadvantage compared to both Vanel's henchmen and myself." He steered Diablo into an alleyway just a street away from Vanel's mansion.
Lucy cringed. "Er…r-right. S-So, er, what should I do?"
Sebastian cleanly dismounted and held out a hand to help Lucy do the same. "I suggest, My Lady, that you wait here at this spot, without moving, and watch for suspicious individuals whilst I go and retrieve the Young Master."
Lucy frowned at him. "Sebastian, please don't patronize me by making the idea of me waiting here sound important. It's not as though I can run and tell you if someone comes along. And I know by this point that it would be useless to try and convince you to let me help you."
Sebastian chuckled. "You are making astounding mental progress, My Lady. I am most impressed."
Lucy forced back a sigh of impatience. "Thank you. But there's still a problem…what if someone comes along and attacks me? I wouldn't be able to defend myself." She considered adding, like you pointed out earlier, but that would be a bit rude.
"Quite. Perhaps you might have anticipated that detail before leaving the mansion, My Lady," Sebastian commented drily. He reached a hand into the inside of his coat, pulled out an object, and placed it in Lucy's hand. "For the time being, however, we shall make do with this."
Lucy looked down curiously at the object in her hands. It was a thin, incredibly sharp dagger with a gold hilt and silver blade that had to have been six inches long. It was lightweight and fit perfectly in the contours of her hand, as though it had been made for her. There was some sort of insignia carved into the blade just beneath the hilt; looking closer, she saw what appeared to be a five-pointed star enclosed within a jagged circle, with strange, ancient letters dotting every inch of empty space within the star. On either side of the circle were two carved snakes, fangs bared and reared as though about to strike. The whole thing seemed vaguely familiar, but she just couldn't…
Looking at the insignia suddenly sent a chill down her spine, and she shivered in the warm air. "S-Sebastian," she said softly, her eyes still locked on the dagger, "a-are you quite sure I should be using this? It doesn't seem like – S-Sebastian?"
She looked frantically around, but Sebastian had vanished into thin air. Swallowing thickly, she glanced anxiously towards the mansion; the gates were still firmly shut, and none of the guards had moved, although there seemed to be a good deal more of them now. But that's silly…he wouldn't have been able to get over there that quickly anyway…and no one's gotten in…right?
But to her mounting horror, an unmistakable voice carried on the wind from somewhere pas the gates. "My, what a magnificent manor!"
The guards jumped in surprise, whirled about, and pointed their guns at an object invisible from where Lucy and Diablo were standing; evidently, they were just as surprised as she was that someone had snuck in without their notice. "Who the hell are you?" one of them called out in a heavy Italian accent.
Lucy didn't hear the response. Her heart pounding fearfully, she craned her neck and stood on tiptoes, vainly trying to see what was happening. She was considering remounting Diablo to get some more height when a cacophony of screams erupted from the gates. One by one, the guards dropped to the ground, where they lay limp and unmoving. A few guns went off, but the screaming and collapsing only increased – whatever Sebastian was doing, the guns weren't stopping him.
Lucy danced back and forth nervously on the spot, wringing her hands in terror. She still couldn't see Sebastian, but perhaps that was a good thing – if there was even a shred of doubt that kind, perfect Sebastian wasn't responsible for this carnage, then she would cling to it for dear life. On the other hand, she felt a bizarre longing to know the truth, no matter how gruesome it was – to know why and how it was that Sebastian had been hiding his true face (if this was indeed his true face) for years. For this reason, she was completely torn between watching and not watching, and as a result, did not notice the danger until it was too late.
One of Vanel's larger guards had been lucky enough to escape whatever destruction Sebastian was wreaking; in the thick of the fighting, he had dropped his gun and barreled through the gates, his sudden escape going unnoticed by anyone. He savored his freedom for a few sweet moments before his eyes fell on a little girl standing beside a horse across the way in an alley, her eyes locked on the chaos at the hideout. His eyes narrowed – she must be a look-out for that pazzo Phantomhive bodyguard!
"Hey!" he roared at her, his face contorted with rage and fear. "What the hell d'yeh think yeh're doin', yeh puttana?"
Lucy could have jumped about a mile out of her skin. She gazed in complete terror at the man for a split second before turning to tear down the alley as fast as she could. With a howl of fury, the man chased after her.
Lucy had barely moved, but there was already a biting stitch in her side. The alley had seemed so short and wide earlier, but it seemed to have stretched out all the way to Paris. Her heart pounded painfully in her chest, and every breath was a burning gasp. She really wasn't meant for running, but she had to keep going or she would be caught. And after that…she couldn't think about that. She was so scared that it hurt…from somewhere behind her, she heard Diablo neigh in outrage, and then shriek as he was pushed aside by the mountain of a bodyguard.
Lucy let out a scream of her own and vainly tried to increase her speed. But it was already too late…she could feel the man's hot breath on the back of her neck…she sensed rather than saw a pair of meaty hands reaching out towards her…in one last, desperate attempt at freedom, she spun around and swung her little fist into the man's undoubtedly rock-hard abdomen –
The man suddenly let out a yell and staggered backwards, his hands scrabbling at his stomach. Lucy staggered to a halt, gasping for breath, a look of surprise on her face. Why did he stop…?, a faint voice asked from far away. Wordlessly and dreamily, as though she were outside of her own body, she looked in wonder at the dark red stain seeping across the fabric under the man's hands. Her head was fuzzy, and there was a strange buzzing in her ears. The ice inside her body had returned, plunging her into a state of unnatural calmness. What's that red stuff…?
And then, like a thousand strikes of lightning, it hit her. Her mouth fell open as she gazed in horror at Sebastian's knife. She had completely forgotten about it – or so she wanted to believe, but try as she might, she could not ignore the crimson liquid coloring the blade all the way up to the hilt. No, she thought frantically, her hands beginning to shake. No, I didn't…I just tried to punch him…I didn't s-stab him…I didn't k…k…
She couldn't even think it, so how could she have done it? Feeling the buzzing grow even louder and her head grow even fuzzier, she looked in vehement alarm back at the man, who had stopped scratching at his stomach and was staring at her with an expression of polite bewilderment. As Lucy watched, his eyes started to roll upwards, looking impossibly dim…
…but in a flash, Diablo galloped up completely out of nowhere, reared up onto his hind legs, and slammed his front hooves into the back of the man's skull. The guard crumpled and hit the ground without so much as a grunt. He didn't move.
Lucy was suddenly aware of the sound of screaming from somewhere far away, growing louder by the second. Her eyes darted back and forth, looking for the source, but the strain on her throat told her that it was her scream ricocheting off the alley walls. When she realized this, the screaming died off, but the bile she'd been holding back all afternoon spattered onto the uneven pavement. Her knees buckled and she fell to the ground, trembling all over. The knife fell from her hand and hit the ground with a clatter. "N-N-No…" she whispered hoarsely, not even bothering to wipe her mouth. "O-oh, God, n-no…"
She had killed a man. She had destroyed a precious life. She hadn't meant to, but what did that matter? She had broken both the criminal law and her own moral beliefs. She had ripped a soul from life, family, loved ones…Lucy retched again, tears streaming down her face. Oh, God, I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…I never wanted this…
She felt something nudge her shoulder, and she miserably looked up to see Diablo standing over her, his head bowed. His coat was a bit dirty from where he had been slammed into the wall, and his saddle was slightly askew, but he seemed unhurt. For once, his eyes were not flashing with rebelliousness; they were quite dull and almost consoling. The stallion whickered softly and lowered his head to rest on Lucy's shoulder. Lucy stared at him for a moment before throwing her arms around his neck, sobbing.
She stayed like that for a long time, going from sobs to hiccups to mournful silence. She was impossibly guilty about what she had done, but at the same time she felt a perverse sense of satisfaction – it felt good to cry out all her built-up problems. It made her feel much calmer, which set the rational part of her mind into motion again. Yes, what she had done was unforgivable, but now was not the time to wallow in her transgressions. Ciel was still Vanel's hostage, and judging by the crushing silence from the direction of the mansion, Sebastian had either taken out the remaining guards or…gulp…or had been taken care of himself. Either way, Lucy could not afford to waste any more time, and so, pushing her unstable thoughts to the back of her mind, she shakily got to her feet and wiped her face.
She debated a long time about whether or not she should take the knife. She was disgusted with it and did not want to use it again, but there was no denying that she needed it. She finally picked it up and wiped it apologetically on the dead man's clothes, reasoning that she would take it to keep Sebastian from getting upset with her again. Then, trying not to look at the corpse any more than was necessary, she led Diablo over to the gate and tied his reins to one of the bars (this issue was no so much of him running away or being stolen as him running wild and hurting a bystander). Finally, steeling what remained of her courage, she cautiously walked through the gates and into the manor grounds.
There was no sign of Sebastian, but the bodies of at least fifty guards were strewn about the sparse yard. Most of them were lying in puddles of what was undoubtedly blood. A few of them were twitching slightly, and Lucy heard of a few moans of agony, but most of them were lying as still as the fellow in the alley. Nausea threatened to overtake Lucy again, but she had no choice but to check every body for Sebastian (although if he were truly among the dead, she didn't think she'd able to go on).
They're only asleep, Lucy told herself firmly, moving from body to body with her pocket-handkerchief pressed firmly over her mouth. They all had sudden attacks of narcolepsy and fell into puddles of spilled wine that they all happened to – is that a fork?
Indeed it was – lodged firmly in one of the guard's forehead was a silver, well-polished fork. Lucy bent down to take a closer look; the Phantomhive crest was clearly carved upon the handle. Looking around, she realized that every one of the guards had either a fork, a knife, or (amazingly enough) a spoon stuck into some area of their body. She could only assume that this meant Sebastian had successfully infiltrated the mansion – though for the life of her, she couldn't figure out how you could kill someone with only a piece of silverware. Resolving to consider the matter further when Ciel was safe, she hurried up the steps and into the unlocked mansion.
The entrance hall of the Vanel manor had a blue and white color scheme, in contrast to the red and brown of the Phantomhive mansion. The décor of this house betrayed far less wealth than that of Ciel's; there were only a few meager portraits, a vase or two, and a plain staircase. There wasn't even a rug. There was a door, though, slightly ajar and knocking against the doorframe in the wind. Lucy couldn't hear any voices coming from beyond it, but she could hear a faint creaking sound. That seems as a good a place to start as any, she thought, hurrying over the threshold and closing the door behind her.
She found herself in a large, grand hall, most likely used as a dining room. There were two levels, upper and lower, separated by about twenty feet and an ornate railing. The room was bare except for a long table with about twenty chairs placed around it (a few of them had been overturned). Strangely, there were a few cups and shattered bits of glass, but no plates or silverware. Even stranger were the hundreds of bodies flung about everywhere – on both floors, on top of chairs, slumped against the walls, and even hanging over the railing, each with a knife or fork through its head. And still that creaking noise echoed throughout the silent hall.
Lucy was getting more uneasy by the second. The room may have been well-lit and there may have been no trace of fire, but the death surrounding her put her too much in mind of that day…but if she could only find Sebastian, then everything would be all right. "Sebastian…?" she called out timidly, her voice barely above a whisper. There was no reply. "Sebastian?" she called again, trying to make her voice sound braver.
"Ah, Lady Luciana. What a pleasant surprise."
Lucy gasped and looked in the direction the voice had come from – directly above her. Dangling upside-down by his ankles from a large golden chandelier was none other than Sebastian. The chandelier was swinging back and forth, barely able to support his weight, which explained that creaking sound. As she watched, he pushed off of the chandelier, flipped a couple times in midair and landed smoothly on his feet to smile at Lucy.
Lucy could only stare at him for a moment. "How…how did you…what happened here?" she asked finally.
Sebastian smiled cryptically. "I was merely exterminating a rather pesky plague of rats, on request of Lord Randall. More importantly," he diverted, frowning, "I do believe I told you to remain outside?"
Lucy flinched. "Er…that is…when I was…that is…" She wanted to tell him what had happened back in the alley, but when she tried, her throat closed up and her eyeballs became prickly. In the end, she could only wring her hands and shake her head.
Sebastian observed her for a moment before slowly nodding his head in understanding. "I see…the dagger prepared you physically for attack, but not emotionally…it takes a stronger spirit to kill…how curious…" He soothingly took her hand in both of his. "Forgive me, Lady Luciana. It was unfathomably foolish of me to bring you into a vulture's nest only to leave you alone. To think of the danger I put you in…"
"N-No…it's quite all right," Lucy assured him, reaching for her handkerchief with her free hand and wiping her damp eyes. But if that's the case…why did you allow me to come along in the first place? "It's over and done with anyway, so it doesn't matter. What's important is getting Ciel back away from that horrid man. We've already come so close, so we ought to continue quickly."
Sebastian inclined his head. "As you wish, My Lady." He let go of her hand and checked his pocket watch once again. "At any rate, that little extermination took much longer than I'd anticipated. It's already 5:43; we are woefully behind schedule." He extended a hand to the young woman. "We are nearly through, My Lady, but you will have to endure a trifle more danger and discomfort. This time, however, I shall not leave you alone for an instant. Please allow me to escort you to the Young Master, Lady Luciana."
There was no time to hesitate, no time to relish the idea of her hand in his; Lucy could only take his hand, nod, and try not to look at the bodies as Sebastian briskly led her through another door out of the room.
They found themselves in a long hallway that branched further down off to the right and left. Beyond these forked passages was a pair of grand-looking wooden doors. Sebastian's eyes seemed to glow as they fell upon them. "Ah," he purred, his smile broadening languidly. "I do believe I have located my wayward Young Master."
"How can you be sure?" Lucy asked cautiously, curiously gazing up at him.
Sebastian laughed almost inaudibly. "A Phantomhive butler must know these things, My Lady, or else he would not be worth his salt."
"Y…Yes, all right." Lucy looked back at the door, and her fists clenched. This is it…Cousin Ciel's right behind that door! "What I shall do, Sebastian?"
Sebastian smiled and led her over to where the passageway forked. "I believe you shall be safest waiting here behind this wall, My Lady," he advised, placing her a few feet down the left passage.
Lucy frowned in confusion. "But…but I thought you said –"
"This time, I shall be directly down the hall, within your sight," Sebastian said, anticipating her question. "If you find yourself in danger, simply call out my name and I shall be there."
Lucy nodded, feeling her face get a little warm. "Right. B-Be careful in there, Sebastian."
Sebastian bowed. "I shall. Thank you for your concern, Lady Luciana. If you will excuse me…" He turned the corner and started to make his way towards the door. Lucy pressed her body against the wall and poked her head around the corner. She had a good view of the door, but when Sebastian threw it open and bowed again to the occupants, her view of the inside of the room was obstructed. "I have come to retrieve my Master."
There was a short bark of laughter in response, followed by a voice that could only be Azzurro Vanel's. "Now this is a surprise! I was imagining a brawny giant would come for the little brat, but you're just some Romeo milksop in a tailcoat, aren't you? But to get here means that you can't possibly be just a butler, so who are you?"
Sebastian straightened up. "Oh, but I am," he replied conversationally, as though his master wasn't in mortal danger. "One hell of a butler, that is." There was something in the way he said it that put a shiver down Lucy's spine.
"Oh, really?" Vanel scoffed. "Well, even if that's the case, I don't intend to fight you. However…" There was the unmistakable click of a gun being cocked, and Lucy had to clamp her hands over her mouth to keep from gasping. "…you better have brought the goods!"
"Indeed," Sebastian replied, moving to reach into his coat pocket. "I have it right –"
Lucy couldn't hold back a scream as a bullet pierced the side of Sebastian's head, followed by twenty others. No…this can't be, was the only thought echoing in her mind as she watched Sebastian fall unmoving to the floor. This can't be happening…not him…he'll get up in a second, he's just pretending…he'll get up…
But he didn't get up – he just lay still and bleeding on the floor. At least twenty men suddenly came into view, all pointing guns at his body. Vanel was laughing and saying something, but his words didn't register. Sebastian wasn't getting up…all that blood…he's really…he's really…Oh, my God…
It was over. Sebastian was dead. The world was ending…
"S…S…SEBASTIAN!" she screamed in horror, tears already flowing down her cheeks. She forgot that the butler had told her to stay put. She'd forgotten that there was a gang of heavily-armed, pissed-off Italians that would surely kill her on sight in the next room. She had to get to Sebastian, to revive him…without a moment's thought, she tore down the hall and skidded to a halt beside Sebastian's lifeless body. "Sebastian! Wake up…please, wake up!" she begged, falling to her knees.
Everyone in the room started shouting at once, and Lucy was suddenly aware that there was a gun digging into the back of her head. More were pointed at her face and chest, and as she looked up to stare into the dark, cold emptiness of the barrel, she knew she would die. Right there, on the floor, just steps away from her cousin.
She closed her eyes. She was going to die. Not from illness like she had always thought, not from old age, not in the carriage accident, not in the Phantomhive fire.
Sebastian…I'll be right there…just another minute and I'll see you again…
Vanel's voice suddenly broke through her blank mind. "Hold on a minute. Bring her over here."
The pressure on the back of her head was lifted, and the men lowered their guns disgruntledly. Someone grabbed her arms and violently pulled her upright, harshly spinning her around to march her towards the other side of the room.
Azzurro Vanel was kneeling on the floor, one hand gripping Ciel's hair and the other holding a gun to his, Ciel's, forehead. Ciel's arms were bound to his sides by a thick leather belt, and he was covered with bumps and bruises. A trail of blood oozed out of the corner of his mouth and from under his eye patch. He looked as though he had been brutally beaten. Despite this, however, he still looked alert and relatively unconcerned with the proceedings, although he was looking disbelievingly at his cousin, as though wondering what on earth she was doing there.
The henchman holding Lucy arms kicked her legs out from under her, forcing her down on her knees so that she was at eye-level with Vanel. Vanel gave her a slow and deliberate once-over, using his gun to tilt up her chin, push her hair out of her face, and feel her chest. "Hmm," she said thoughtfully, a disapproving frown on his face. "This one's got a pretty face, but she's too scrawny for anything good." He thought for a moment, and an ugly leer spread over his face. "Still, ognuno ha gusti diversi. I'm sure there's a few perverts out there who'll pay big money for her. Just to be sure, though, she should be tested when we're done here."
There was a ripple of laughter, and Lucy was pulled up to her feet again. New pairs of hands were closing over her neck, pinching her behind, fondling her chest…she thought of telling them to stop, but what use would it be? What did anything matter now that Sebastian was dead?
Azzurro Vanel turned back to an annoyed-looking Ciel, pressing his gun back against Ciel's forehead. "As for this one, I've damaged the goods a little bit, but you should still fetch a pretty penny. Maybe we can sell you for parts, even." He lowered his gun from the young earl's forehead and used it to tear away the eye patch to reveal a closed eye that was barely visible beneath the blue-black bangs. "Don't worry, little Phantomhive; by the time some pervert takes you in, you would have already –"
"Hey," Ciel said suddenly, his voice firm with indignation. His good eye looked past his cousin to fall on his butler's corpse. And then he said something so strange that everyone paused to listen: "How long do you intend to play around? Are you quite finished playing dead yet, Sebastian?"
There was a long pause, everyone looking between Ciel and the corpse. Lucy was aware of her heart beating loudly in anticipation. And then…
Sebastian's hand twitched.
"B…But that's impossible!" Vanel screeched, his face white. The guards all began shivering and gasping in terror at the thought of a dead man coming to life.
Lucy could only stare at the twitching butler, feeling warmth return to her body once more. "S…Sebastian…?"
And then, before her eyes, Sebastian blinked, opened his mouth, and spoke quite calmly, as though serving tea to a guest. "My goodness…today's guns are so much more efficient…" Like a puppet on a string, he was eerily pulled upwards to stand on his feet. "Quite different from those of one hundred years ago."
Vanel's guards yelled in terror and scrambled backwards, one of them loosening his grip on Lucy's arms. She mechanically broke free and stepped away from them, her eyes fixed with wonder and fear on the resurrected butler. But how…how…?
Sebastian suddenly let out an almighty cough and spat something into his hand. He lifted it up so that Vanel, Lucy, and everyone around could see the twenty bloody bullets lying there. "Allow me to return these to you," he murmured innocently, his voice taking on a deep, terrifying timbre.
Vanel's pupils dilated, and he let out a scream of terror. "W-What are you waiting for?" he shrieked at his henchmen. "Kill him! KILL HIM!"
The men raised their guns, but Sebastian was quicker. He drew back his arm and thrust the bullets into the air. Each one landed through the chest of a bodyguard, effectively killing him.
A few of them whizzed right past Lucy so that she could almost see them rocketing towards her. She let out a scream of her own and clapped her hands over her eyes. This is a nightmare, the told herself desperately, quivering all over as the thud of falling bodies echoed throughout the room. This can't possibly be real…
"Oh, dear," she heard Sebastian say in the tone he took whenever the servants screwed up. "My clothes are completely ruined."
"It's your own fault for playing around, you idiot," Ciel sniffed. Lucy cringed at his words and cautiously raised her eyes to look at him. He didn't seem surprised at all that his butler had not only risen from the dead, but had thrown a handful of bullets with enough force to kill twenty men. On the contrary, he looked more annoyed than ever. Isn't he…frightened…at all…?
Sebastian chuckled softly and started advancing towards the pair on the ground. "I must say, Young Master, that is an excellent look for you."
"St-Stop it!" Vanel shouted in horror, putting the gun back to Ciel's head. "St-Stay away!"
Sebastian continued on as if he hadn't heard the drug lord. "You look exactly like a pathetic little caterpillar. How perfect for a small, weak creature such as you." Ciel scowled in response.
"I-If you c-come any closer, I'll kill him!" Vanel shouted, pressing the gun harder into Ciel's temple.
A stab of alarm shot through Lucy, and she found her voice at last. "W-Wait, Sebastian! Don't!"
Sebastian obediently came to a halt, turning his head to smile at her. "My goodness, you are in quite the rebellious humor today, aren't you, My Lady? That's the third time you have disobeyed my request. I daresay those four idiots are a bad influence on you."
"Can we hurry this along?" Ciel snapped, his scowl deepening. "This guy's breath stinks."
Sebastian smiled patronizingly at his employer. "But if I were to come any closer, Young Master, you might be killed."
Ciel's good eye narrowed. "You bastard – do you intend to violate our Contract?"
A sudden chill overtook Lucy at the word 'contract' – it seemed like such an innocent word, but the way her cousin said it…does he mean more than the employment contract? But what else could he…?
Sebastian's smile widened and he placed a hand over his heart. "Certainly not. Nothing has changed – I remain your faithful servant."
"What the hell kind of nonsense are you two talking about?" Vanel screeched, nervous sweat pouring down his face.
Th-That's what I'd like to know, Lucy added mentally, a chilling feeling of foreboding crushing her chest.
Sebastian ignored the drug lord; it looked as though he had almost forgotten the Mafia boss was there. "Now, Young Master…I do believe I taught you how to beg?" he purred, pressing a finger to his lips.
There was a long pause, and then Ciel opened his right eye.
It had not, as Lucy had always assumed, been gouged out during the month he had been missing; it was right there in its socket, as big and bright and beautiful as its twin. Except…it wasn't colored blue, as it had been all those years ago. It shone with an eerie purple light, and there was some sort of cloud over it…Lucy squinted at it and gasped in recognition. It was that mark…a five-pointed star within a circle, almost exactly like the carving on her knife. But how…when…why is it on Ciel's eye?
The mark suddenly began to glow even brighter and even spookier as Ciel spoke again. "This is an order: save me now!"
Sebastian took a step forward, but Vanel had had enough. "SHUT UP~!"
Lucy shrieked and covered her eyes as a gunshot once again pounded against her skull. That resurrection trick, whatever it was, would not work a second time…there was no way Ciel could have survived a bullet to his brain at that range…
She expected to hear the thud of Ciel's small body hitting the floor, but what came instead was another howl of terror from Vanel. "What – no! That's impossible!"
Lucy hesitantly raised her eyes and let out a gasp of shock. Ciel was still alive, glaring at Vanel as if he were a particularly nasty pile of paperwork. Tears of joy leapt to her eyes…but how? How had Vanel possibly missed when the gun had been right up against Ciel's head?
"Are you looking for this?"
Time seemed to slow as Lucy's eyes flicked upwards to where Sebastian was standing behind Vanel, bent down by his ear. In one hand, poised neatly above Vanel's chest, was a small, smoking bullet. In less than a second, Sebastian had closed the distance between them, gotten behind the drug lord, and snatched the bullet out of thin air.
"Here," he murmured with a tone of dark innocence. "Allow me to return this to you." He released his hold and the bullet fell neatly into Vanel's coat pocket.
As soon as metal hit fabric, something bizarre happened – without anyone touching it, the arm holding onto Ciel suddenly was snapped upwards, twisted impossibly by an unseen, brute strength. Vanel howled in pain and collapsed on the ground, twitching and clutching his mangled arm. Lucy could only stare, her eyes practically popping out of their sockets. No bone…no bone can bend that way…what on earth…
Sebastian, unconcerned with Vanel's pain, gently scooped up his master into his arms. Ciel sighed softly, sounding oddly exasperated. "This game wasn't much fun. And why on earth is Lucy here?" he added suddenly, his mismatched eyes falling on his cousin. Lucy made no response – she had reached such a state of terror that she could no longer speak.
"My apologies, My Lord," Sebastian said softly, lowering his master onto an armchair and ripping off his bonds. "I'm afraid there was simply no stopping her."
Ciel snorted skeptically. "If you really wanted her to go home, you could have made her. You could have dragged her back by her hair if you had to, so why didn't you?"
Sebastian was about to open his mouth to answer when Vanel, who had pulled himself upright to a sitting position and was dragging his ruined arm on the floor behind him, spoke again, a note of desperate fear in his voice. "W-Wait! Come work for me! Be my bodyguard and I'll pay you five times what the kid does – no, twenty times! And you can have all the liquor and women you want, too!"
Sebastian slowly straightened up and turned to face Vanel. His brown eyes were now glowing a bright, bloody red, and in the dull light, his pupils seemed to have become slitted, like a cat's. "My apologies, Master Vanel, but I have no interest in such materialistic, human rubbish. For you see…I am simply one hell of a butler."
And seeing Sebastian's red eyes, hearing the emphasis on that one word, feeling the cold, otherworldly chill settle in the room, experiencing a terror she had never felt before in her life, made Lucy suddenly remember where it was she had seen that mark before – in her religious texts.
It was the Mark of the Devil.
Sebastian began to move slowly and inexorably towards Vanel, and Lucy's terrified eyes picked up a shadow darkening the room to a midnight pallor, and a thousand black feathers descending from nowhere. "As long as my Young Master bears the mark of the Covenant, I am his loyal lapdog." He raised his left hand to his mouth and pulled off one pristine white glove with his teeth, revealing ivory-pale skin, jet-black nails, and a violet colored Mark identical to Ciel's in the center of his hand. "A Wish…a Sacrifice…and a Contract all bind me to him…" His eyes glowed stronger, and a luscious smirk spread across his face. "…until the day that I swallow his soul."
Lucy had seen enough. With a scream of unbridled terror, she turned and fled the room as fast as her legs could go, the forgotten knife dropping from her hand. Through the door, down the hall…oh, God, this can't be…across the dining hall…out of the corner of her eye, she saw the shadows spreading to overtake her, the crow feathers dancing in the frigid air, threatening to choke her…a deep, throaty snarl and the rush of wings could be heard behind her, getting louder with every step she took…into the entrance hall…almost there…I'll outrun it…
But in her agitation, she tripped over the threshold and was sent tumbling down the stone steps, her body painfully bruised and battered. She came to a rest among the bodies of the demon's first victims, petrified and paralyzed. She had to move, had to get away from it, but she just couldn't…
The world went black. The feathers passed over her nose and mouth, choking her. And as she gazed upwards into the unfeeling red eyes of the Devil, she knew her world was truly, finally at an end.
"Honestly, what on earth was she thinking, running off like that? She had us all worried sick!"
"The fever must have made her delirious. Didn't you say she'd been speaking nonsense before she left, Madame?"
"Yes, of course, that must be it…really, though, going off on a ride off the grounds on a horse like that when she was so ill…no wonder she was thrown off!"
"I've been telling her for years that that nag is beyond hope, but she refuses to let me get rid of it. This ought to open her eyes a little…"
"The poor dear…thank heavens she's not badly hurt…oh, look, Ciel, she's waking up!"
Lucy groaned and opened her heavy eyelids. For a moment, the light blinded her (Heaven…?), but her vision cleared and she saw Madame Red beaming down at her. Ciel was standing farther back, looking surly. Have…have they died, too?
"Hi, sweetie," the Madame said softly, reaching down to stroke her hair. "How are you feeling?"
Lucy struggled to a sitting position, but Madame Red gently pushed her down again. "Settle down, dear, you need to rest. Everything's all right now, you're in bed. Ciel brought you back home."
"Brought me…home?" she echoed strangely, shaking her head weakly. That wasn't right – hadn't she just been about to die? "But…but what about that…that monster?" she breathed, shivering in fear at the memory.
Ciel snorted. "Well, I'm glad you finally understand what a menace that animal is. Maybe now I can get rid of it to replace with a better-trained horse."
Horse…? "N…No, n-not Diablo, the…that big…" Lucy took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Her head was killing her; she couldn't think straight. "…what happened?" she asked finally, looking from her mother to her cousin.
"Don't you remember, dear? You left the manor grounds for a ride on that black horse you liked so much," Madame Red prompted gently. "But you were thrown off and you hit your head. We were all so worried. Ciel went off after you and was gone for hours looking."
Lucy frowned, trying to make sense of what she had just heard. "No…" she said finally, shaking her head. "I didn't fall from Diablo…"
"Yes, you did," Ciel said simply from the corner. "Perhaps we should take her to the hospital, Madame."
"Oh, don't be silly, dear, she's only got a few bruises. I'm sure she'll remember after another nap, this sort of disorientation is perfectly normal."
"Wait," Lucy said suddenly, glancing wide-eyed between her alarmed relatives. They were lying to her, both of them…why were they lying? "I wasn't thrown, I was going off after Ciel, Vanel kidnapped him –"
Madame Red frowned, looking confused. "Kidnapped? But, darling, Vanel hadn't –"
"Yes, he did," Lucy said firmly. "Ciel, tell her, tell her how you…"
She trailed off, cowed by Ciel's harsh glare. "You see, Madame? She's delirious. She needs a hospital right away."
"I suppose you're right…" the Madame said reluctantly.
Lucy's eye twitched in frustration. "I am not delirious! It really happened, I'm not making it up! I don't understand why –"
There was a quiet knock at the door of her bedroom, and Sebastian entered bearing a tea tray. "Pardon my intrusion. I have prepared tea – ah, Lady Luciana, you have awakened? Excellent."
Madame Red sighed, accepting a steaming teacup. "I wish it were, Sebastian. I think she's still feverish. She's been speaking nonsense about Ciel being kidnapped, it's not at all – Lucy, dear? What's the matter?"
From the moment the door had opened, Lucy had stared at Sebastian with wide, hypnotized eyes. Now, as he came closer and closer to her bed, she let out an unholy scream and moved to fling herself from the bed, her face a mask of terror. It was all Madame Red and Sebastian could do to hold her down. "Nooooo~!" she shrieked, scrambling backwards, trying to put as much distance between herself and the demon as possible. "No, please, don't hurt me! I don't want to die! I'm a good girl! I'm sorry I can't go to church, I would if I could, but I pass out every time I go, but I swear I'm good, honest, I don't want to go to Hell, please –"
Sebastian suddenly pressed a finger over her mouth. "Be at peace, My Lady," he purred gently, smiling soothingly. "You are in no danger. There is nothing here that will hurt you."
Lucy shook her head frantically and shrank back form Sebastian's touch. "No…no," she whispered hoarsely. "You…you killed Vanel…all those guards…on your hand…Ciel's eye…you're a…a…monster!"
No one moved for a long time. Sebastian looked down at the invalid curiously, his face impassive. Lucy stared back at him, her chest heaving and her eyes wide. Madame Red looked back and forth between them, deeply concerned. Ciel examined his nails, appearing apathetic but standing much stiffer than normal.
Finally, Sebastian took a deep breath and smiled down kindly at Lucy. "I believe," he said quietly, "that Lady Luciana has had quite the disturbing nightmare."
"Nightmare?" Lucy and Madame Red echoed at the same time. Ciel merely raised an eyebrow.
"Quite. Lady Luciana is under the impression that the Young Master was kidnapped by Azzurro Vanel, and in order to rescue him, I transformed myself into a monster of some sort." He turned to Ciel. "Young Master, were you by any chance taken hostage by Master Vanel?"
Ciel gave him his "don't-be-ridiculous-you-stupid-butler" look. "Of course not. I was in my study until Madame Red and Lau left my manor, but when Lucy didn't come back, I had to go running off after her. I haven't seen Vanel since noon."
Sebastian nodded. "Thank you, Young Master. As for myself, I do not believe I am secretly some sort of demonic beast, unless I take the form unconsciously." He smiled thoughtfully. "Therefore, the only logical conclusion to approach is that these events took place in Lady Luciana's mind whilst she was unconscious – that is, in a dream."
Lucy blinked a couple times, and then shook her head again. "No…no, it wasn't a dream! It was too real…too frightening…I would have woken up much sooner than…"
"Dreams can often be both irrational and realistic, particularly when one is ill," Sebastian pointed out matter-of-factly.
"But…but…" She looked over at Ciel, desperate to prove her point. "How did you get all those bruises, then?"
Ciel scowled at her. "Your bloody horse was throwing a fit, and I was thrown from my mount because of it."
"Ciel! Watch your language!" the Madame reprimanded. Ciel muttered something unintelligible.
Lucy's head was beginning to spin. Could it possibly have been a dream? But it had been so real. She supposed what everyone was saying did make sense, but she couldn't remember leaving the mansion for a casual ride…but there was one way to see if it had been a dream or not. "Sebastian," she said quietly, still too scared to look directly at him. "Could you…take off your glove, please?"
If Sebastian was surprised at this unusual request, he did not show it. "Certainly, My Lady. The right glove, or the left?"
"Er…the left," Lucy said after a moment's thought. Here we go…
Sebastian raised his left hand to his mouth and deftly pulled off the glove with his teeth. He then held out the back of his hand for Lucy to examine. The skin was ivory-white, as before, but there was no Devil Mark on his skin, and his nails were milky white. It was, for all intents and purposes, a normal-looking hand.
Lucy let out the breath she'd been holding and sank back onto the pillow. It had been a dream. Sebastian was not a demon – he was just as human as she was. "So it wasn't real," she murmured softly. "That's good…"
Madame Red nodded. "See, dear? Everything's fine. Don't you feel better?"
"Yes," Lucy lied, still uneasy. "Er…I'm sorry, everyone, but could you please leave me alone for a while? I'm a bit tired…"
Madame Red smiled kindly. "Of course, dear. It's getting quite late anyway. Just shout if you need anything, all right?"
"The Young Master and I ought to be returning, as well," Sebastian observed, glancing at his watch. "I fear that in our absence, the other servants may have done something idiotically drastic."
"All right. Did you have enough to eat, Ciel?"
"Yes, thank you for the meal. I hate to impose on you, but if someone had had the dinner prepared in time…"
"My apologies, Young Master."
The three exited the room loudly, leaving Lucy alone and feeling extremely foolish. Of course it had been a dream. People can't come back from the dead or move with such speed in real life. It was medically impossible to have a mark carved into one's eye without the eye being pulled from the socket. And Sebastian – polite, courteous, compassionate Sebastian – he was a human, and a good man. "He's a good man," she repeated out loud, blushing a little. "There's no way he could really be a de – aargh!"
Before she could even get the word out, a painful, burning shock coursed through her chest. Moaning in pain, her hands automatically flew to her collarbone…
The pain died down as Lucy patted her collarbone a few times, feeling an odd collection of bumps beneath the silk of her nightgown. That wasn't there this morning…Feeling slightly uneasy, Lucy got out of bed, wobbled over to her mirror, and examined her chest.
There was an odd scar standing out against the whiteness of her collarbone. It was very oddly shaped – six short, straight lines pointing inward to a point in the center of her chest, like an asterisk. She reached up to touch it; it felt unusually warm. "Where in the world did this thing come from?" she murmured, running her finger down one of the lines. Someone could only get a scar like this if they were stabbed and shot, and she hadn't ever been hurt like that, not even in that dream…and she hadn't had the scar that morning, so what had happened?
She was about to call Madame Red to have her take a look, but something reflected in the mirror caught her attention. Frowning pensively, she stumbled over to her nightstand, picked up the object, stared at it for a moment, but gasped and dropped it as soon as she recognized it.
It was the knife from the dream.
"That was too close," Ciel grumbled, climbing into bed. "What were you thinking, bringing her along like that? She's found out all about the Contract!"
Sebastian unconcernedly tucked in his master, smiling pleasantly. "I have my reasons, My Lord."
Ciel glared at him. "You're a butler; you're not supposed to have your own reasons."
Sebastian's smirk widened as he placed a hand over his heart. "I apologize, Young Master."
Ciel sighed exasperatedly in response. "It was a good thing we had Maylene's make-up on hand, or else we never would have heard the end of it…no, it's already too late, after all she saw…"
"Now, now, there is no cause for concern, Young Master. As you plainly saw, Lady Luciana was quite willing to believe that today's entire escapade was nothing more than a fever-induced dream."
Ciel shook his head, lying back onto the pillow. "That isn't enough. Lucy may be gullible, but she is no fool. Eventually, she'll realize what she saw today was all too real."
"Ah, but humans such as Lady Luciana have very weak minds that are easily tricked, especially when the trickery helps them to forget undesirable things. I doubt Lady Luciana would be too keen to remember that her beloved savior is a hellish 'monster'." He chuckled softly.
Ciel's eyes narrowed. "All the same, we can't be certain that she'll go on thinking today was just a dream. Isn't there some way you can make sure, Sebastian? Don't demons have the power to erase memories?"
Something flashed in Sebastian's eyes, unnoticed by the young earl. "Certain demons do have that power, but alas, I do not. However, even if I did, Young Master, I would be reluctant to use it."
"Why is that?"
"Memory spells are not permanent, My Lord, and can easily be shattered by another demon's power. If that were to happen, not only would the memories of our little secret come to light, but Lady Luciana could suffer further brain damage. I doubt the Young Master would want that of his dear cousin," he added mockingly.
His smirk growing even wider, Sebastian leaned over the bed to whisper in the young lord's ear. "And yet, My Lord, you have yet to suggest the one way be can be absolutely certain that Lady Luciana will take her secret to her grave. Why could that be, I wonder? Perhaps you are too fond of her to end her life?"
Ciel flushed angrily as he turned to glare at Sebastian. "Shut up! I just don't want to hear Madame Red's whining, and it would be difficult to cover up. That's all!"
Sebastian laughed again. "Of course, Young Master."
Sebastian bowed. "Yes, My Lord. Have a good night's rest." He took hold of the candelabra and left the room with another bow.
Ciel sat there fuming for a while before sighing and lying back once more. "Stupid demon," he muttered into his pillow, his eyes starting to close…
Something suddenly occurred to him, and he bolted upright in bed. "Damaged…further?" Did that mean that his cousin already had brain damage of some sort? Well, there was the amnesia, but other than that, she seemed fine…
Ciel replayed the conversation over and over in his mind. Each time he did it, his conclusion seemed more and more likely.
Could it be that Lucy had lost her memories…because of a demon?
This is, by the way, 23 pages in Word. Ouch...
Don't worry, we'll find out Sebastian's motives soon enough. And it looks like Ciel really does care. 3
Next chapter we get to meet Lizzie! I already have Lucy's cutsie pink ball "gown" on my deviantART, but does anyone have any other suggestion on what Lucy should wear?