AN: So yeah, rewrite of the old fic. I hope you guys like it, I already do ^_^. Anyway, enjoy and expect the rating to go up later. Reviews are always appreciated, but if you're going to flame, get yer ass outta here.
1: Just a Job
I want you to do something for me.
It hadn't been a request, but a demand.
You see, out of boredom, I decided to devote my time to a little project; however, after about a month, I grew tired of it.
It was just a toy that was no longer wanted.
Even so, I find this project a little too precious to throw away; thus I am placing it in your capable hands. Can you handle the task?
Even though it had been rephrased as a question, it didn't change the fact that he really had had no say in the matter. He was to care for this thing, nourish it, protect it like it was his own, until it was either completed or its previous master wanted it back. Acceptance on his part was unavoidable; he was born a slave and would die a slave, so there was no point in trying to resist. Besides, there was no need for him to form any emotional attachment to the thing, since it didn't really belong to him in the first place. It was just a job that he had been chosen for.
Just a job.
"Are you alright?"
The faint voice brought him out of his reverie. He brought his head up sharply and focused his gaze on the object in the far corner of his room. It was the same as ever; with its delicate silver frame twisting and curving to create intricate patterns of intermixing thorns and leaves. The smooth, almost liquid-like, glass that it supported reflected the moonlight filtering from the window, making it dance on the walls in a flurry of crimson.
"This is certainly a rare occurrence" he said, rising from his spot on the edge of the bed and walking over to the mirror. "You almost never call to me."
He was greeted by silence, making him sigh as he ran a finger over one of the silver leaves. "Is something wrong? Do you want me to come?"
Again, there was only silence.
"I hope you're decent" he said warningly, "because I'm coming now."
As per usual, he first stretched out his hand, carefully sliding it through the glass before stepping completely into the mirror. Even now, he was unsure as to why he did this. Perhaps it had sprung from some strange paranoia that had led him believe that there would a come a time where he would no longer be able to pass through the glass at will. It could have also been to reinsure himself that he would also be able to leave when the time came. Although both possibilities were certainly plausible, he still could not tell which one, if either, was the right reason.
His booted feet did not feel the cold marble beneath them as they carried him across the chamber, though they did echo in what was almost deafening silence. The room itself was lit only by the dim glow of the large chandelier above and the silver moonlight coming in through the large window facing him.
In front of this window sat a roman-style lounger. The white sheet draped over it almost seemed to glow compared to the crimson cushion and black wood that it partially covered. The way it cascaded haphazardly to the floor, meeting the marble in a seamless slope, held for him a strange sort of grace that he felt he would never be able to explain properly.
The figure on the lounger shifted as he came closer. Pale legs, previously stretched out, now bent and moved themselves to the floor. He vaguely wondered if the equally pale feet felt any chill as they touched the black stone, seeing as they were very obviously bare.
Blonde hair moved next, falling in gentle waves down the delicate back and curved shoulders. Thin, gentle hands supported her weight as she moved to make room for him, her dark green eyes never once looking up from the floor.
"It's polite for a young woman to greet her company when it arrives" he chided as he took his seat next to her. Teaching her etiquette was just another part of his job.
"My apologies" she said quietly. Finally, she looked up at him, saying "thank you for coming, Luze." After a pause, she repeated her question from before: "are you alright?"
Luze looked down at her, slightly annoyed by the concern he saw in her Viersen irises. In fact, the one thing Luze disliked about this girl was her eyes; they stirred things inside of him that he had shut down long ago. As those things began to move again, he turned away from her, fixing his eyes ahead while his expression remained as cold and reserved as ever.
"Why do you ask?"
She clenched the hands in her lap. "You just seemed… like you were thinking about something unpleasant" was her meek reply. That was something else that annoyed him: her weakness. She was a member of a race of warriors, weakness wasn't even an option for beings like her. And yet, there she sat, practically trembling in his presence; it was almost shameful.
But her words had raised a point that he found worth thinking about. Unpleasant? He didn't find any overwhelming joy in his task, no, but he didn't exactly dislike it either. Taking care of this girl was simply part of his routine; it fell in the same area as eating and sleeping: perfunctory, mundane tasks that really meant nothing to him. No, he really couldn't consider it unpleasant.
"It wasn't anything unpleasant" he said. "It wasn't a particularly enjoyable subject either, but it wasn't anything terrible. I was simply reflecting on some things, but you need not concern yourself with them."
"I see" was all she said. There was a long moment of silence after that, in which Luze was certain that she wanted to say something. He waited for a few more moments before finally asking her what was wrong.
There was a rather long pause before she replied. "It's nothing" she said. "I'm fine."
"Well, if that's the case, then I'll take my leave." As he made to go, he felt her grip on his sleeve. He looked back down at her, raising an eyebrow inquisitively. "What is it?"
"My apologies" she said again. She opened her mouth to speak further, but soon closed it, her expression a mixture of frustration and what looked like it could have been pain.
Luze sat down again. Smoothing her hair back from her face, he said "your master won't tolerate this behavior; speak up if you want to say something." His tone wasn't harsh, nor was it kind; it was emotionless.
Burying her face in his sleeve, her voice was muffled as she said "So much… so much is wrong."
The damp feeling on his arm alerted him to the fact that she was crying. Her voice and body trembled as she clung to him and quietly begged him to stay. He let her carry on for a few moments before gently pushing her away.
"What exactly is troubling you?" he demanded, titling her head up to look him in the eye. Her mouth was parted slightly, revealing the small fangs behind her lips; even the distinguishing feature of their race seemed so small and feeble when it was a part of her.
She shook her head. "So much" she repeated, her voice rising as fresh tears spilled down her face. "It's been so long that I've lost count of the days I've been in here. And day by day, things disappear from this room, but I can't remember what was there when it does so. I feel like I'm losing my mind!"
Luze cast his eyes around the room. Sure enough, what had once been filled with numerous objects was now barren, completely deserted space. The only things remaining were the lounger and a large item covered by a black curtain. The item was twice as tall as he was and gave off a terribly forbidding aura. Luze couldn't explain why, but he felt that, were he to so much as touch this object, he'd unleash something terrible.
However, the fact that the room had become so desolate was, ironically, a good sign, for it meant that his task was almost complete. Once that large item disappeared, this girl would be allowed to leave, allowed to set foot back into world where she truly belonged.
"You're not insane" he said. "The disappearances are proof that your growth is almost complete." He stood again, this time with the full intent of going; if he stayed much longer, his contractor would wonder where he was. "I must leave, but I will return" he said.
He looked back at her, already half-way across the chamber, and nodded. It wasn't really out of any actually desire to make such a ridiculous pledge, but it was one of her whims that he had been forced to comply with since the beginning. It would only cause trouble if he didn't swear to come back, so, each and every time, he acquiesced.
"I promise" he said, then turned and strode out of the room and a moment later he was back in his own.
Placing his cap on the bedside table, he sank to the floor, utterly exhausted. Every time he came and went from the mirror, there was a part of him that wanted to destroy it and yet another that wanted to go back. Restraining both of these impulses took quite the toll on him at times. Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back against the wall with a sigh, wishing both of those desires would disappear from him and leave his mind at peace.
He started as something moved under his arm. However what he saw when he opened his eyes was nothing to be concerned about. He placed his hand on the great wolf's head that had been placed in his lap, burying it in his steely grey fur. "I thought you had gone to sleep long ago, Fen" he said, addressing the animal in a mild tone.
The familiar turned his large dark crimson eyes on his master and let out a small whine. Luze knew full well it was the sound Fen made when he was concerned and scratched behind the wolf's ear reassuringly. "I'm fine, Fen, just tired. It's late, so we should both get some rest anyway."
After the wolf moved his head, Luze stood and removed his uniform, changing instead into a pair of cotton pants and a simple black robe. He removed the cord holding back his long hair, preferring to let it hang loose as he slept. Once everything was put away and his room was in order, he stepped toward his bed, at the foot of which Fen was already lying, but a knock on his door made him stop short. However, upon opening it, he did not find his contractor, as he had expected, but someone much, much more powerful.
"Your Excellency" he said, kneeling before the man.
"At ease, Luze Crosszeria," the man said, striding past him once he had stood again. He remained a respectful distance away as his guest sat down at his desk, crossing his legs and looking at him expectantly.
There was an awkward pause before he dared to ask, "For what do I have the honor of hosting the great Demon King?"
The king smiled. "I think you know, Blade King," he said. "I want to know how my little project is coming along. Has everything disappeared?"
Luze shook his head. "There is one item left" he said. "However, after that there will be nothing."
"Excellent" the king said. "After it's gone, she will be completely ours, a true member of Infernus."
"Forgive me, sir, but I think she may need some extra tutelage even after she is restored" Luze said. "She has none of our basic instincts and is far too timid. I do not know if this is a reflection on my poor teaching skills, but I feel it may become a hindrance in the future if not rectified soon."
The king shook his head. "No, this is all according to plan" he said, a sly grin spreading across his lips. "She is not to become a fighter, but my personal attendant." To Luze's surprise, he laughed. "This will make that ungrateful dog's body writhe in anger. I cannot wait to see how he'll react once the ritual is complete."
The king stood. "It's nothing" he said. "I was just thinking out loud." He placed a hand on Luze's shoulder. "Good work, you've shown far more promise than that brother of yours. If you weren't already contracted to Reiga, I'd have you replace him."
"I am not worthy of such praise" Luze said quietly, bowing as the king passed him on his way out.
"You are" he said. "Good night."
"Good night, your majesty."
Once he was gone, Luze retreated to his bed, not caring that his cap fell off as he fell against the embroidered duvet. Gazing up at the crimson hangings of the four-poster, he sighed.
"According to plan?" Far be it from him to criticize royalty, but Luze just could not see how such weakness could possibly please the great king. The girl was far too fragile to be a part of them, of the Duras, there was no way she would survive outside the mirror.
"No, don't think about it" he mumbled, rolling over to his side and pushing himself up into a sitting position. "It's not your business; you're part of Brand Zess, remember? You have no right to pry into the fares of those above when you are the lowest of the low. You are eternally a slave and you will obey without question."
That's right, no questions. Forget the girl, forget her future, she means nothing to you. She's just a chore, something you must take care of until told to do otherwise. It's your job, that's it; it's just a job.
Just a job.