Title: Kisses and Sleeping Princes
Characters: Flonne, Etna, Laharl
Pairings: (intended) Laharl/Flonne
Genre: (intended) Romance, (some...) Drama
Summary: [AU, Complete] She went to the Netherworld in hopes of carrying out a mission she wasn't even sure of fulfilling. Unexpectedly, she was dragged into a completely different mess, one that involved kissing a sleeping prince.
Disclaimer: Disgaea, its characters and settings are most certainly not my possession. I am merely borrowing the characters without permission in order to make them do my bidding and satisfy the inner fangirl in me.
"The Overlord has been dead for over two years?" Flonne repeated in surprise, her eyes widened while the grip she had around on her staff tightened. There must be some mistake! Unless Seraph Lamington was not informed, which was very unlikely.
Being an angel trainee hailing from Celestia, Flonne knew nothing of the Netherworld before personally coming to it in order to fulfill a task given to her by the beloved Seraph of her realm, aside perhaps for the "facts" given to her by her fellow angels about the supposedly evil demons dwelling in the so-called cursed land. She doubted these however, for she was one who refuses to believe in things she has not seen with her own two eyes, or perhaps not said and confirmed to her by the Seraph himself.
Despite her confusion over the mission given to her, Flonne had set out for the Netherworld in her usual attire, which consisted of white frills and blue ribbons. Her shoes were also white in color, like the small wings sprouting behind her back. Two small and slender bars of gold hanged from each of her pierced lobes. A ribbon of similar shade with the ones in her clothing adorned her long blonde hair, making her truly standout in the Netherworld, for most of the people she had met in the said realm wore clothing of darker shades.
Along with her staff, Flonne had brought with her a small knapsack, one that she filled with what she had thought to be enough provisions, for she had hesitantly decided to finish the mission as soon as possible. However, with the circumstances thrown at her, from the gates of Celestia to the lands of the Netherworld, she was unable to make her way to the Overlord's Castle before her supplies had ran out. She had considered enlisting the help of some demons, but the look she had received from them whenever she approached had urged her to excuse herself before they had even given her a reply.
She thought it a miracle when she had come upon a demon girl who was willing to entertain her questions despite seeming to be on an errand, although she was reluctant to do so at first. However, when Flonne had finally managed to ask of the Overlord's whereabouts, the girl frankly informed her that the person she was searching for had already passed away.
Flonne sank into the ground and sighed, her bangs covering her eyes as she lowered her head, both from exhaustion and seemingly misplaced relief, for being relieved that she no longer had to assassinate someone could mean, in her perspective, that she's also relieved that the person had died first and that she no longer had to stain her hands. This certainly wasn't the cause of her relief, for she was an innocent angel who didn't wish for one's death no matter what he may have done, but it was also her innocence that had prompted her to think of her relief inappropriate, causing her to be disappointed at her thoughts.
"Hey, you okay?" Etna, as the demon girl had introduced herself moments ago, asked, placing her hands on her hips before leaning closer to the trainee. She stood a few inches shorter than Flonne, but she possessed an air of authority around her that made the trainee a little wary. Around her neck, she wore a black choker, from which a silver ring was attached. In contrast to Flonne's white frills, Etna wore mostly black leather. She had swept her red hair up into two pigtails, eyes matching the shade of her hair.
Flonne nodded mutely before sighing again. She had no other choice at this point. She would have to return to Celestia and inform the Seraph about the Overlord's passing away. At the very least, she was able to see the Netherworld by her own, so the trip was not a total waste. Pursing her lips, Flonne stood up and brushed off the dirt that clung to her legs and clothes.
"You're leaving already?" Etna asked, raising an eyebrow. Upon receiving a dispirited nod as an answer, the demon girl shrugged. With an irritated sigh, she murmured, "Well, as for me, I'd better get back to the castle."
Flonne tilted her head. "The castle? You know where it is?" she asked.
"Yeah. I guess you could say I work there."
"But, I thought you said that King Krichevskoy's dead," Flonne uttered, forgetting the fact that someone could have taken over right after the Overlord's passing away.
Etna smiled grimly. "I did say that, but I have nowhere else to go. Besides," she paused, her smile turning into a frown, "I can't really leave the Prince."
"The Overlord has a son?"
"Yup. Prince Laharl," Etna said, wrinkling her nose. Her voice did not carry the same respect it had when she said the late Overlord's name. "That brat doesn't even know of his father's death."
"Eh?" Flonne exclaimed louder than she intended to. She covered her mouth for a few seconds before glancing around to see other demons staring at her. Embarrassed, she bowed and stuttered an apology, one that they waved off dismissively. "But," she said once the attention was no longer on her, "how is that possible?"
Etna placed her hands on her hips, her tail curling behind her. "Let's just say that our Prince is one heavy sleeper," she replied, cocking her head to one side.
"But, that would mean that the Prince has been sleeping for…"
"Over two years?" Etna continued for her. With an exasperated sigh, she said, "Yup."
Flonne managed to stop herself from making another loud exclamation. "That's…" Flonne had thought that the Overlord leaving a son behind was sad, but for the child to not be informed of his father's death… The angel trainee felt a sharp pain in her chest as she looked down. "Have you tried waking him up?"
"'Course. Tried every method I know." A dry chuckle escaped the demon girl's lips. "Not even a groan of protest came from him." She grinned at Flonne's bewildered face. "I'm sure he's still alive though."
"How can you be so certain?" Flonne asked, creasing her brow.
Etna shrugged. "I guess you can call it a gut feeling."
"A gut feeling…" Flonne echoed in astonishment. Were all demons like this? Then again, Etna was the only one who actually had an interest in talking with her, or at least the one who gave her a direct answer instead of a stare, so maybe Etna was the only one like this. "Um… which methods did you actually use?"
The demon girl tapped her chin as she tried to recall. "Well, I made a lot of noise." She grinned once again as she added, "Used a lot of weapons, too. Guns, missiles, cannons…"
Flonne stared at her. "…Eh?" she uttered absentmindedly, prompting Etna to widen her grin in amusement. "Have you… Have you tried other methods than that?" she asked, trying not to be disturbed by Etna's expression.
"Nope." With a teasing raise of an eyebrow, she asked, "What do you want me to do? Throw a bucket of ice-cold water over him?"
"No! That sounds awful!" Waking up soaking wet and subsequently being told of your father's death, Flonne shuddered at the thought. One horrible thing after another, even if it was for a demon, will definitely crush someone. Flonne covered her face with her hands and shook her head, trying to get rid of the terrible thought.
Etna eyed her for a few moments before asking, "Why is this important to you all of a sudden?"
Flonne jumped. "I-it's not! Um… I'm just curious, that's all."
Etna cocked an eyebrow at her before smiling broadly. "That's new. Somebody who's actually interested in the Prince."
Etna placed her hands behind her head as she leaned back. "Well, last time I checked, the other vassals barely even remember him now, even if they still live in the castle themselves and all."
"We are demons, after all. Can't really expect much from us."
"But… you remember him."
Etna shifted her shoulders uncomfortably. "Yeah," she drawled, averting her gaze. "I have my reasons," she said simply, not bothering to explain further. "Anyway, weren't you going back home just now? Changed your mind or something?"
Flonne smiled. She really was intent on going back to Celestia moments ago, but the tale about the sleeping prince piqued her interest. She wanted to help in any way she could, even if it means spending more time than what was expected in the Netherworld. "I'm not… really in a hurry."
"Suit yourself, but I wanna go back now. I guess you could tag along if you want. Just don't do anything stupid or embarrassing, or I'll personally kick you out."
"It's fine with you?" Flonne asked with wide eyes, ignoring the last part of Etna's statement.
Etna merely shrugged in response. When Flonne's lips formed a smile, the demon girl's own twisted into a smirk before she looked up into the sky and called out to the Dimensional Gatekeeper. A circle with runes materialized above them and, within seconds, Etna and Flonne were standing in front of a smiling cleric.
"Welcome back," the gatekeeper said, beaming. "Were you able to get it?"
"Yeah. Here it is," Etna said, tossing a small bag over to the cleric. "I'm expecting you do your part of the deal."
"Yes, of course." She paused before asking, "Who's this?"
"An angel. Name's Flonne.
The cleric clapped her hands. "Well, this is quite a surprise! Welcome to the Overlord's Castle. Do make yourself at home."
It was difficult to imagine, both what the cleric had said and whom she was saying it to. For one, a demon sincerely acting hospitable was unheard of. At least, it was for Flonne, who had heard of such horrid things about them. But to act like such in front of an angel! With the stereotypical belief that angels and demons hated each other, many would think that even a being thought of having a connection with fallen angels would, at the very least, behave rudely. Then again, all the other angels had judged demons before even meeting one. And so, the cleric's actions had embedded themselves into Flonne's mind.
Smiling warmly, Flonne bowed down. "Thank you."
Once they were out of the cleric's earshot, Etna said, "Don't get used to that kind of treatment. She's the only one who's polite around here. At least, she the only one who's constantly polite and does her job correctly."
"I-is that so? By the way, what did you give her earlier?"
"…A little something for her to keep her mouth shut."
"If you say so…"
Flonne looked around her cautiously. Various demons littered the halls, with the penguin-like prinnies scurrying around frantically, items of different kinds held between their flippers. Prinnies aside, everyone else looked laidback and bored, with most just standing around while others chattered here and there about rumors they overheard.
Being one who doesn't let prejudice affect her way of seeing things, Flonne hoped that the demons who at least resided in the Overlord's own castle would be a little decent and would not attack others without reason, and that they weren't as evil as others had told her. They were, she mused, but it could be better.
"Saw something funny?"
Flonne yelped and looked at Etna, who cocked her head at the trainee. "You have a weird smile on your face," the demon girl explained.
"I just thought it's a little nice here," she said sheepishly.
"You think?" Etna wore an amused smile on her face. "I guess it is a little nice in here. It's not much, especially since no one's on the throne at the moment to take care of most things, but one can't really complain. You can say it's our fault, too." Earning a questioning gaze, she explained, "Not everyone here is ready to accept a new overlord, so when a challenger comes along, we make sure the day ends with the throne still empty."
Flonne stared at Etna for a few seconds before shaking her head. Well, she did think "without reason". They did have to make certain that the next Overlord was worthy of the throne, so perhaps this was a good reason enough. Perhaps.
"Anyway, you hungry?"
Flonne nodded, thinking of the bare knapsack she had slung over her shoulders.
Etna beamed. "Let's go to the dining hall then. Hope you don't mind some spicy volcano soup."
"It's good!" Etna assured her with a sly grin. "The scorching magma flavor, ground human soul, exotic monster meat and magma spices, you have to try it before going back to Celestia!"
Flonne blanched as Etna described the dish. "G-ground human soul?" She gulped. Would it be alright for an angel to eat this… soup? She shuddered at the thought of doing something that was not expected of an angel. Then again, an angel assassin wasn't heard of before. "I guess it won't hurt," she finally said.
"'Course it won't!" Etna pointed a finger towards a prinny and called, "Hey, you! Get over here."
Flonne initially thought that Etna gave an air of authority and that her mere presence often demanded attention and respect, despite the fact that she looks no older than the angel trainee. As Flonne looked on, she thought of her first impression on the demon girl correct.
The prinny made a startled sound before hurrying over nervously. "Yes, Master Etna?"
"How's dinner coming along?"
"It's coming along well, dood. J-just a few more minutes, Master Etna."
"Good," the demon girl said, pleased. "I'll be waiting in the dining hall with our guest." With a sickeningly sweet smile, she added, "Don't make me wait too long now."
"Y-yes, of course, dood!"
Etna waved her hand dismissively and turned to Flonne. "Shall we?"
Flonne nodded and followed Etna as the demon girl led her towards the dining hall.
The instant she stepped into the castle's dining hall, Flonne took in a deep breath as she glanced around in awe. Under the long table in the middle of the room, intricate carpets were laid out while not a single furniture in sight appeared to be gathering dust. For a castle with no ruler, its current state was impressive. Then again, with presumably vain demons residing within it, it was understandable. Any normal being would not like to eat in a littered environment.
"Hey, how's it going?" a demon called from the far side of the hall. "Heard you went all the way out to the Sea of Gehenna earlier today."
"That's Etna for you," another piped in. "Not even the heat of the Sea will stop her from getting ingredients for one of her favorite delicacies."
Etna smirked as she cocked her head to one side. "You're not expecting me to actually give you some, are you?"
Flonne frowned. "Isn't that a little selfish?" she asked in a whisper.
"I'm a demon," Etna replied, as if it explains everything. "Besides, Volcanic Meat can be only found in the Sea. I actually worked for it while they just spent another day of sitting around here for nothing." She grinned. "You're an exception though. I wanna see your expression once you taste the soup."
"Oh," was all Flonne managed to say.
"So, how about you tell me a little about yourself?" Etna said as she slid behind a chair, gesturing for Flonne to do the same. "How did an angel trainee like you end up in the Netherworld anyway? And in a rundown village like that, too."
Flonne placed her things on the unoccupied seat beside hers and fidgeted. "Well…" The angel trainee was still unsure if she should reveal her task to a demon. "The Seraph sent me here."
"Was it for a punishment or something?"
Flonne flushed. "Of course not! It… it was for a mission."
"A mission?" Etna repeated, raising her eyebrows. "Come to think of it, you seemed so interested in the Overlord. Does your mission have something to do with him?"
"Yes," Flonne replied softly. With a sheepish giggle, she pushed her index fingers against each other and continued. "I must have messed up with the gates so I wasn't directly transported here. I tried to ask for directions, but I couldn't get anyone's help and ended up wandering around."
"Is that how you ended up in that old village?" Flonne nodded, prompting Etna to shake her head in disbelief. "No one sane wanders the Netherworld without supplies and stuff, you know. Even if you could defend yourself, you're done for if you have absolutely no idea where you're heading. Couldn't you have at least bought a map or a guide? Asked for directions?"
"I… don't really have money," Flonne said, her cheeks pink in embarrassment. Even if she did, she wasn't entirely sure if she could use that to buy things in the Netherworld, seeing as she hailed from Celestia. "A-and the people I asked for directions from gave me a weird look so I ran away before I could hear what they would say."
"Um… The kind you give to someone…" Flonne furrowed her brow as she tried to think of an appropriate word, "insane?"
Etna opened her mouth to say something, but her attention was diverted by the arrival of the prinnies. "Finally!" she exclaimed impatiently, folding her arms across her chest. "Hurry up and bring that soup in!"
"Aye aye, dood!" The prinnies did as they were told, quickly making their way towards the demon girl and the angel trainee. Work was divided among them, with some placing the bowls, saucers and silverware on the table, others handing over the napkins and the rest distributing the food. Aside from the soup, bread was also served along with drinks Flonne didn't recognize.
"Should we get your dessert for you, Master Etna?" a prinny asked.
Etna narrowed her eyes. "Don't you dare touch my stash. I'll get them myself later," she sniffed. With a wave of her hand, she shooed her servants, who left the room in order to serve the other demons in the castle. With a mischievous smile, Etna looked back at Flonne. "Well, what are you waiting for?"
Flonne looked down at the bowl of soup in front of her and grabbed the spoon beside it. For a few moments, she just stirred the soup quietly before bringing a spoonful to her mouth. "Ah!" Despite her caution, the angel trainee couldn't help but fumble for her glass before looking at Etna with a sheepish grin. It was spicier than what she could normally handle, but the exotic taste proved to be much better than what she had originally expected.
Etna herself was grinning. "Too spicy for you?"
"A little too spicy," she admitted. "But it's still delicious!"
The demon girl laughed, but she didn't say anything and turned her attention to her own meal. Both were halfway done with their soup when Etna spoke up again. "What exactly did you say when you asked for directions?"
Flonne nearly jumped in her seat when Etna broke the silence. "Eh?"
"Was it 'Where can I find King Krichevskoy' or something to that effect?" Flonne nodded, and Etna continued. "I see. So I'm guessing that the news didn't reach Celestia," the demon girl murmured. "That seems odd though. I always thought angels had a way of knowing things, with the whole 'guardian angel' thing and stuff. Hell, it's been two years! Don't you guys read the newspaper?"
Flonne cocked her head to one side. "Guardian angels… Well, I'm certain that the Seraph does have a way, but I'm not exactly sure how."
"But if he does, he surely wouldn't have sent you to…" Etna paused. "What exactly did he sent you for? Do you have to deliver a message to the King?"
The trainee shook her head. "It's not that. Speaking of the King, how did he die anyway?"
"Choked on a black pretzel."
"…Huh?" Flonne blinked in disbelief. "The Overlord of the Netherworld died by choking on a pretzel?"
Etna shrugged. "At least that's what they say. Can't really remember much of that year," she murmured, briefly averting her gaze. "Anyway, it happened, so I guess anything's possible."
Flonne sighed. "And this was the person I was ordered to assassinate?" she said absentmindedly.
"…What?" Etna stared at the trainee. "Ordered to what?"
Flonne yelped before covering her mouth. "Um… Th-that was…"
"You were ordered to assassinate the King? Was that what you said?"
"Th-those weren't exactly the words I used…"
"But that was what you were trying to imply, right?"
Flonne flushed. "I wasn't trying to imply anything."
"Alright, fine. I'll rephrase my question then." Leaning closer to the red-faced angel, Etna narrowed her eyes. "You were ordered by your Seraph to assassinate our Overlord, King Krichevskoy, is that right?"
Flonne looked down. "Y-yes."
Etna slumped back on her chair and blinked her eyes. "Okay. That was… unexpected," she said under her breath. "It's not exactly news that angels hate demons and all but to actually send someone to actually assassinate the King…"
Flonne pushed her fingers against each other, at a loss for words.
The demon girl shook her head. "Well, whatever. The King's already dead, anyway." Etna paused. "Hey, what's up with the Seraph sending someone to do with an assassination? Aren't you guys all about love and peace?"
"And justice," Flonne added cheerfully. "And friendship and—"
"Right," Etna interrupted. "All things 'good'. Whatever. Another thing which bothers me is that why the hell did he have you assassinate the Overlord?"
Flonne furrowed her brow. "Um…"
Etna sighed in mock despair for the angel. "Let me elaborate. For one thing, why you of all people? Why not someone else? Just by looking at your face, I can tell that you're another one of those goody-two-shoes guys who refuses to hurt a single fly. Can you even… assassinate someone? Let alone the Overlord?" The demon girl paused. "Don't tell me that you angels are belittling us now, because if you are…"
"No, of course not! Angels don't think like that," Flonne protested, although she took the rest of the insults directed at her that Etna barely put any effort into masking lightly. "To be honest, I'm not very confident of assassinating anybody, even if he was a demon or even if the Seraph himself commands it. To assassinate somebody you don't even know, it just doesn't seem right."
"So you're willing to assassinate somebody you do know?"
"That… that doesn't seem right either. I can't really kill someone without a good reason…"
Etna cocked an eyebrow. "Why did you accept the mission in the first place then?"
"I…" Flonne frowned. Why did she? "Well… There must be some reason why the Seraph chose me to do the mission, so…"
"And that reason is?"
The angel trainee shook her head. "I have no idea."
Grabbing the loaf offered to her by the prinnies, Etna leaned back on her chair and frowned. Taking a small portion of the bread, Etna rolled it into a ball before popping it into her mouth. "Well, that's boring."
Flonne hummed. "What about you?"
Etna blinked. "Me? What about me?"
"You said you have your own reasons why you still remember the Prince, unlike the other vassals." She frowned at that, but continued. "What reasons are those?"
Etna stayed quiet for a while before twisting her lips into a sly smile. "That's for me to know and for you to find out."
"Look, it's too personal, alright? Let's just leave it at that," Etna said, finishing the rest of the loaf and making a grab for her glass.
However, Flonne did not have plans of just leaving it at that. "Personal… Does that mean…" The angel trainee beamed, clapping her hands together in delight. "Could it be that you're in love with the Prince?" she asked excitedly.
Etna nearly choked on her drink. "What? No! Where did you get that idea all of a sudden?" she snapped, looking absolutely displeased.
"You said it was personal, so…" Flonne frowned, disappointed.
"Look here," Etna began, putting her empty glass down as she narrowed her eyes. "Not everything 'personal' has something to do with that. It's a completely different reason! Very, very far from that. If you keep doing that, jumping into conclusions I mean, you could get in trouble, especially here in the Netherworld. Are all angels love maniacs like you?"
Flonne pushed her index fingers against each other. "Not really…"
"Oh?" Etna looked a little relieved. The lapsed into a short silence before Etna broke it with an exasperated sigh as she averted her gaze. "It's dangerous disclosing it to anyone. If even a small detail made it to that person…" The demon girl grew quiet.
Flonne's chest tightened as she realized that Etna might have been holding back a lot of emotions, ones triggered by her curiosity. A lot of questions about the demon girl's actions were still present in the trainee's mind, from the deal with the gatekeeper to her refusal to speak of her reasons, all of which she was dying to have answers for. However, as she became aware of the possibility that she was making Etna extremely uncomfortable, perhaps even angry, Flonne decided to leave her own questions unanswered. "I'm sorry," she apologized meekly.
"It's… fine," Etna finally said with a wave of her hand. "Just… don't go poking around into someone else's business, most certainly a demon's if you still want to live. Don't do it again." Seeing Flonne nod, Etna folded her arms and leaned forward, smiling playfully at the trainee. "Anyway, only a complete saint would fall for the Prince."
Etna nodded, her smile turning into a grin. "Yup. Bratty, immature, stubborn, rude, self-centered, he's a demon among demons. Not to mention, he doesn't believe in love, not that most demons care about love anyway, but the Prince takes it to a whole new level."
"D-doesn't believe in love!" Flonne repeated, aghast. How could someone not believe in the wonderful feeling that is love? It was… it was unthinkable!
"That's what I said. Optimism is also a no-no."
Flonne frowned. "Eternal love?" she tried.
Etna chuckled. "He hates that the most."
The trainee's jaw dropped. "B-b-but! That's my favorite!"
"You won't get along with the Prince then," Etna said with a snicker. "Not that you would be meeting him anytime soon. Aren't you going back to Celestia?"
Flonne shook her head. "I cannot go back knowing that someone here doesn't believe in the power of love! I must teach him how wonderful it is!" she exclaimed with a determined look on her face.
"That's fine and all, but he would have to wake up first before you try teaching him anything. Besides, won't that Seraph of yours wonder where you went?"
"I'm sure he'll understand."
Etna tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Right. But that doesn't solve anything about the Prince."
Flonne frowned. "Are you sure you tried everything?"
"Everything I know."
"Ah!" Etna tapped her open palm with a clenched fist.
"Have you thought of something?"
"Yup!" Etna replied cheerfully, although a little too cheerful for Flonne's comfort. "Do you know that fairy tale? Something about a sleeping princess."
Flonne tilted her head. "Sleeping Beauty?"
"That one! It's not that I believe in kisses breaking curses or anything, but it just might work with our prince."
Flonne stared at Etna. "Eh?" Did she mean…?
"You'll do it, of course."
"D-do what?" Flonne asked nervously, despite already having an idea.
"The kissing!" Etna exclaimed with an impish grin.
Flonne flushed as she stood up and placed her hands on the table in protest. "I can't possibly do that!" she wailed. "Even if it's to wake the Prince, I-!"
"You want to wake him up, don't you?" Etna interrupted.
"W-well… I'm sure we can find another way…"
"We haven't even tried it," Etna pointed out, her tail twisting behind her as she mimicked Flonne's position. "Who knows? It might just work! Besides, with the Prince's distaste of love, I'm sure doing it on his cheek would be sufficient enough."
"How can you sound so confident about this?" Flonne demanded, her cheeks turning redder as she spoke.
"A gut feeling."
"That reason again…" Flonne muttered helplessly. "Do you always say that?"
Flonne pursed her lips as she tried to think of a way out. "W-why don't you do it yourself?"
Etna stared at her for a while. "Because," the demon girl finally replied.
"Because… because. Now, let's go!" Etna rushed over to Flonne and grabbed the trainee's wrists, ignoring the girl's protests and dragging her out of the hall without hesitation. Snapping her fingers, she called out, "Prinnies! I don't want to see a single speck of dust in the dining hall tomorrow morning. Hop to it!"
"What about the rest of dinner, dood?" a prinny asked.
"Do whatever you want with it."
"Aye, aye, dood!" the prinnies chorused happily. It wasn't often that Etna acted like this lately. Best make the most of it, they decided, and rushed off to have a feast amongst themselves.
All of Flonne's efforts to squirm out of Etna's grasp proved to be useless—the demon girl had a viselike grip! "W-wait!" she tried again. "Can't we try out the methods you used once more?" While she was still against violence, the trainee was desperate. Kissing a stranger in his sleep, just the thought embarrassed her! And wasn't it supposed to be the other way around?
"Alright, but if it still doesn't have any effect, you'll have to do it. Let's make it a promise! A deal, whatever you want to call it."
"Eh!" Flonne wailed. "I—!"
"Quite a busy day for you, huh? You've been running around all day long, Etna," a zombie standing near what seemed to be a makeshift hospital noted. Peering at Flonne, he added, "Torturing another poor soul?"
Etna grinned before turning around a corner. "Not at all, Zommie."
"You sure? She looks like she's about to cry or somethin'."
Etna waved a hand. "It's nothing," she said, loud enough for the zombie to hear.
"If you say so," came the faint reply.
A few moments after descending a set of steps, Etna stopped and let go of Flonne's wrists. "Are we here already?" the trainee asked weakly, looking around. A few more demons stood inside the room, much to Flonne's anxiety, but there was no sight of a bed or a sleeping prince anywhere.
"Nope. I'll just get a few things," Etna told her before running off. "Gargo, make sure she doesn't run away!" she called out.
A guardian standing near Flonne sighed before looking at the trainee. "So you're the angel they're saying Etna nabbed, huh?"
"N-nabbed?" Flonne repeated. "That's not really the case…"
"Really? So you came with her all on your own?" When Flonne nodded, albeit hesitantly, Gargo became silent for a few seconds before shaking his head. "Amazing. That girl really has some skill. Tricking an angel into coming with her, that's one talented demon, I tell you." He paused. "Then again you don't really look… smart."
Flonne frowned. "How rude."
Gardo shrugged. "Just saying what I'm seeing. Anyway, it's been thousands of years since one of you angels had a direct interaction with us demons. What's up with that?"
"I… I don't know," Flonne admitted, shifting her gaze to her feet. Ever since she arrived in the Netherworld, a lot of questions buzzed in her mind and as she tried to think what the possible answers might be, more questions surfaced. Her head hurts just thinking of the situation, and Etna's scheme isn't helping her one bit.
"Hey, don't look so down. It's not like I'm pressuring you for an answer."
Flonne smiled weakly. "Yes, of course. I'm just… a little confused about some things myself."
The guardian furrowed his brow. "You look like you could use some rest," he pointed out. "It's getting a bit late. Can't Etna's scheme wait until tomorrow?"
Flonne scratched he back of her head sheepishly. "The sooner we get it done, the better, I suppose." She smiled gratefully. "But thank you."
Gargo shrugged before looking over Flonne's shoulder. "…What exactly is she up to this time?" the guardian murmured.
The angel trainee followed his gaze and found herself staring at Etna, or rather the things Etna was dragging along with her. "W-what are those?" she asked frantically.
"You wanted to do try out the methods I used before, right? Or have you already changed your mind?" Etna asked with a mischievous grin.
"No, I haven't!" Flonne replied quickly, earning her a confused stare from Gargo.
"Right. Anyway, thanks Gargo," Etna told the guardian cheerfully as she passed by him.
He shrugged. "She didn't even look like she had plans to run away from the start."
Etna beamed as she led Flonne up a flight of stairs, ignoring the stare the weapons she dragged along received from the angel trainee. "Hurry up, hurry up," Etna called enthusiastically, as if the weight of the weapons didn't bother her at all, much to Flonne's amazement.
The angel trainee could only sigh as she tried to keep up with Etna.
Flonne chewed her lower lip as she cautiously followed Etna into a dimly lit room. The large windows on the opposite wall of the door were open, allowing some light from the moon outside to illuminate the room. It took some time for Flonne to get used to the darkness, but as she finally did get accustomed to it, Etna had begun lighting the candles inside the room.
Once she had lighted the last candle, Etna wordlessly pointed at the middle of the room. As the demon girl gathered the weapons she left near the door, Flonne peered at what seemed to be a coffin. The angel trainee took a deep breath, briefly realizing that her heart had been pounding, and approached the black casket.
"The Prince is in there," Etna breathed behind Flonne without warning, causing the trainee to jump.
"Eh?" Flonne blinked. "Is the Prince a vampire?"
Etna snickered. "Nah, he just fancies sleeping in coffins. Convenient though, if he ever dies in his sleep."
"Hey, it's just a thought, with him sleeping in it with the lid on and everything. Anyway, we'd better open that now."
It wasn't a very difficult task to remove the casket's lid since it looks like it was moved recently, perhaps by Etna herself. Within moments, Flonne found herself staring at the sleeping face of a young demon.
Prince Laharl laid on his back against the coffin of polished granite, his face unlike most of which Flonne had already seen on other people. His brows were creased, as if he was disturbed even in his sleep, and his rough-looking lips were stuck on what seemed to be a perpetual frown. He was of slender built and appeared to be a head shorter than Flonne herself, giving the impression that he was younger than the trainee. His hair was a bluish lavender, with two antennae-like strands on the top of his head.
His chest was bare, giving Flonne a clear view of his skinny yet seemingly well-toned arms and chest. Wrapped around his neck was a scarf, crimson red in color. In contrast to his plain red shorts and the black belt around his waist, he wore an intricate band of gold on both of his wrists. His red shoes had bands of the same design. Aside from his gold wristlets and his antennae, the Prince appeared to be quite simple in appearance, seemingly the type to be mistaken as a commoner any day. Perhaps his attitude made up for that, but Flonne couldn't be so sure, despite the fact that Etna had already given her a brief description of the Prince's character.
He was no Sleeping Beauty, Flonne continued to muse, but there was something about the Prince that drew the trainee to him. Maybe it was his disturbed visage, the way he appears to be agitated in his own world, in his two long years of sleep. Perhaps there was something he wishes to break free from, an ill-willed casted spell, a wicked dose of poison. The thought of his disbelief in love surfaced in Flonne's mind, making the trainee frown.
"Don't tell me you've already fallen in love with him," Etna said teasingly, leaning towards the coffin to get a good look at the Prince as well.
"That's not the case," Flonne murmured, not taking her eyes off the sleeping demon. "It's just that… he looks so troubled. Do you suppose he's having a nightmare?"
Etna furrowed her brow in thought. "Well, one can't really be sure on what's happening inside the Prince's mind, but I guess that's one possibility. In any case, would you prefer staring at him or would you rather wake him up?"
Facing the other girl, Flonne turned red in protest. "I wasn't staring!"
"Sure," Etna drawled, toying with a machine gun. "Anyway, let's make some noise already, or maybe you would—"
"Noise, definitely noise!"
Etna let out a snicker before pointing the automatic gun towards the coffin. "Move away from there then."
When it dawned on Flonne that Etna was indeed going to fire the machine gun directly at the coffin, she rushed over to the demon girl frantically. "I thought we were just going to make a lot of noise! W-why are you pointing it at him!"
"You worry too much. It's not like this will do anything to him," Etna said. Flonne was still not convinced however. "Let me tell you something interesting. I shot him before with a rocket launcher and blasted him with missiles. It's not like this puny machine gun will do anything to him, so stop worrying."
All the color had drained from Flonne's face. "Y-you did all that?"
"Yup. Trust me. He won't get killed or even injured."
"If you're so sure of that…"
"Sure, I'm sure."
With a sigh, Flonne moved to Etna's side and covered her ears. Taking that as her cue, Etna peered at the coffin and began firing at it with no preamble. The casket was stronger than it seemed, since it too was as unscathed as the Prince. Etna hummed before tossing the gun aside, bending down to get another weapon and repeating the entire process with launchers and cannons of different kinds.
Prince Laharl continued to lie there, asleep and unknowing of what was happening inside the four corners of his dark room.
Within minutes, Etna was reduced to an exasperated and exhausted heap on the ground, completely losing her composure and launching into irate mutters. "See," she hissed, "he didn't even flinch. I swear I'll kick him to Hades if he doesn't wake up sooner. That brat. The Netherworld is in chaos and here he is, sleeping!"
"Never mind that part. Anyway, I did what I had to do," Etna said, displeased as she glanced at the weapons before looking at Flonne, her infuriated visage turning into an impish one. "Time to do your part."
"No buts," Etna said, wagging a finger as one would do at a child. "We made a deal, didn't we?"
"But I don't remember agreeing to that deal…" Flonne said weakly.
"Of course you don't. You were all blush and eh," Etna said with a wave of her hand. "Come on. If you do it quickly, then he won't even know what happened. And even if he will, you can always go back to Celestia in a snap. Just run off to the dimensional gate and you're gone!"
"I…" Flonne pursed her lips in thought. Etna did say that there was no need to kiss the Prince on the lips. If she were lucky enough, which didn't really seem to be the case in the past few days, a quick peck on the cheek would do. Hopefully, it would be enough… "If I run off, then I won't be able to teach him and it would be a waste…"
"You'll do it then? Even if there's a chance of him catching you and subsequently chasing you off all the way to Celestia?" Etna challenged.
"…Yes," the trainee replied hesitantly.
The demon girl beamed. "Good to know then. Well, carry on."
Taking a deep breath, Flonne carefully, cautiously made her way towards the sleeping demon. For a moment, she had thought that she would have difficulty in doing so, as the mere idea of kissing someone asleep, may he be an angel, demon or a human, seemed very foreign, very distant. Perhaps it was cruel as well, something indecent of an angel, since anyone else may see it as an act of taking advantage of someone else.
Still, for the sake of waking up the Prince, for the sake of having the chance to make someone else believe, for the sake of love, she had finally convinced herself to do it.
And so she sat by the coffin, her eyes on the Prince's visage, watching him closely, afraid that his eyes might suddenly open and that he might demand who she was and what she was planning to do. When it was clear that this would not happen, Flonne swallowed the lump that had painfully wedged itself in her throat, and the trainee realized that her heart had been pounding all this time.
Brushing back her hair, Flonne leaned in closer, pausing for a few moments to watch the Prince's rhythmic breathing, before finally touching her lips to his cheek.
Brief, just as she wanted to, but that didn't stop an electrifying jolt from running down her spine which altogether caused her to lurch back. Lips quivering, heart still pounding, she dared take a peek at the demon's face. Sensing no movement, she looked at Etna with disappointment and was about to speak when a different voice, one foreign to the trainee, broke the silence.
"Who… the hell are you?" It was a gruff, hoarse whisper, but the direct question made the startled angel's heart skip a beat.
Flonne sat there, wide-eyed as she stared at the bleary yet somehow piercing crimson eyes of the demon, still lying in his supposed bed and showing no signs of moving from his current position.
A couple of feet away, Etna took a sharp intake of breath, seemingly in the same state as the angel trainee. Nevertheless, she quickly regained her composure and made her way to the Prince's side, beaming. "Well!" she exclaimed, visibly pleased. "About time you woke up, Prince!"
Prince Laharl blinked at the sight of a familiar face. Cradling his head with one hand, he sat up slowly, the scarf behind him flaring out into life. Quietly, he eyed the demon girl, then the angel trainee and back. "Etna? What in the world…?" Looking over his vassal's shoulder, he narrowed his eyes. "…Why are all those weapons behind you? And who—"
Etna tut-tutted. "You have a lot to catch up on, Prince," she said, cutting him off and ignoring his questions.
Laharl raised an eyebrow at this. "What are you talking about?" he demanded, his eyes becoming more focused.
"Here's some big news for you, Prince," Etna said, not faltering from the demon's questioning gaze. "You father, King Krichevskoy, has died."
Laharl froze. "What?" he hissed. "When?"
"Two years ago," she answered bluntly.
He closed his eyes, taking in the information. For a moment, Flonne had thought him mourning, perhaps not completely in disbelief of love, but she was still too busy staring at the Prince to further analyze his expression.
"…Wait a second." Laharl snapped his eyes open. "So you're telling me that I've been sleeping for over two years?"
"Yup," Etna replied without hesitation, her tail curling behind her.
"Yup?" Laharl repeated, almost incredulous. "Why didn't you wake me earlier!"
Etna frowned, placing her hands on her hips. "Excuse me, but what do you think I've been doing all this time?" she retorted. "Why, if it wasn't for Flonne here, you would still be asleep, dreaming away while the whole Netherworld has gone to hell!"
"Flonne," Etna repeated, gesturing towards the dumbstruck angel trainee with a thumb. Receiving no response from either of the two, the demon girl rolled her eyes and nudged the angel in impatience. "Hey, at least say something, will ya?"
Flonne jumped. "O-oh! I… Um…" She gave the Prince a wary look, but upon realizing that he was staring at her quizzically, she quickly averted her gaze and refused to say another word. At least, until she had thought up of something appropriate to say.
Laharl continued to be quiet for a while. "Come to think of it," he said under his breath, nearly inaudible, "I felt something… sickening, nauseating." Rubbing his arms, he shuddered. "…What exactly did she do to wake me up?" he asked.
Flonne felt her heart pounding again, disregarding Laharl's comments of what forced him to wake up. It dawned on the trainee what Etna meant when she had said that it just might work with the Prince. With his distaste of love, and, as they have seen, the physical gestures displaying the emotion, it was no wonder that he would be disturbed by it in his sleep, enough that it would jolt him awake. Pursing her lips, she glanced at Etna nervously.
Etna, catching the pleading gaze, twisted her lips into a smirk. "You'll just have to find out on your own, Prince," she said mischievously, winking at Flonne.
"Are you denying me the information I'm asking for, Etna?"
"Hey, give us some credit, Prince," Etna rebuked. "We couldn't have bothered to wake you up in the first place and could have just let some other demon steal the title of Overlord. There have been quite a lot of challengers lately, after all."
"What!" Prince Laharl gritted his teeth, standing up and clenching his fists. "How bold of them!" he said with a sneer. "I shall show no mercy, for I am Laharl, the rightful heir to the throne!" That said, he threw back his head and let out a laugh, a kind which Flonne had never heard before. When it died down, he turned to Flonne and twisted his lips into a smirk. "I take it you expect something in return for what you did."
Laharl rolled his eyes. "As Etna had said, you could have just left me sleeping and may have attempted to take the title of Overlord yourself, not that I see that happening," he remarked, eyeing the wings behind the angel trainee's back.
"Believe me, Prince, it was tiring to wake you up. To be honest, this is my third attempt this week."
"Which leads to the question of what your tactics were in your attempts," Laharl drawled.
"Now, Prince, see here—"
"Um, excuse me," Flonne interrupted meekly, cutting off them before their conversation turned into a heated argument. Looking directly at Laharl, she said, "May I ask a question?"
"You already are asking a question." Flonne frowned at the Prince's attitude, but she repeated her previous inquiry. Folding his arms across his chest, Laharl said, "Shoot."
"Is it true… that you don't believe in love?"
Laharl visibly stiffened, although he recovered quickly. "I'm a demon," he said, an unimpressed look on his face, seemingly regarding Flonne as an ignorant nobody. "Of course I don't believe in love."
"Then, you're not sad that your father has passed away? Sadness is only possible because of love! Therefore, if you don't believe in love, then…" Her voice trailed off in her realization that Laharl was still looking at her indifferently. Was it possible that he truly doesn't believe in love? Etna did say so before, and he confirmed it himself. But to actually see him unmoved at all, it brought sadness to her heart.
"Demons have no love. Neither do they have sadness," Laharl said smugly. "What good is love? A demon such as myself doesn't need it!"
"If that is true," Flonne began, her voice soft, "then demons are a real threat to Celestia." With a determined look, she said, "I have decided now. My new goal is to learn the true nature of demons. I must know if demons truly are incapable of love!"
Laharl snorted before letting out another laugh. Twisting his lips into a smirk, he challenged, "Alright! Be my guest! I shall burn a true vision of horror into that empty head of yours!" With that, Prince Laharl left his room. Judging from the things he murmured under his breath, he was set on doing something about his stiff muscles.
"So you're really not going back to Celestia," Etna said after a long pause.
"Yes," Flonne replied, trying hard for her voice not to waver. Deep down, she was worried. She knew little about the Netherworld, and she had finally decided to stay and learn about the real nature of demons, to see if they truly are what others and they themselves say they are.
Etna observed her for a few moments. With a shrug, she deserted the many weapons she had bothered to bring with her and followed the Prince outside.
The angel trainee placed her hands over her heart and heaved a sigh. She had made a decision, and she will see it through until the end.
"Seraph Lamington… please forgive my digression."
Paraphrasing: Well, if you've played the game, or maybe read the script or even watched a few videos, it's easy to tell that I took some lines from the game and inserted them somewhere in there, especially after the awakening. I changed some of them a bit though to fit the situation.
Personal Comments: Crossposted from my journal ( http : / / serena-skye . livejournal . com / 16313 . html ).