The only sound at the table was the clinking of silverware, Devitto and Jasdero's fight with Skinn quietly in the background.
At the head of the table sat the ruler, so to speak, the leader of them all: The Millennium Earl. He was big and round and had a wide as all hell grin that never left his face, even when he roared in anger at whatever happened to be subjected to his fury (and his fury was something truly terrible to behold). He had control over powerful elements, making him a most fearful creature when he could change everything, from the weather to the form of his servants, with a wave of his hand. No one knew his real name, all just calling him 'Lord Millennium' when they really needed his attention, and it was fine with him. He wore outlandishly ridiculous outfits that only he would be able to pull off, complete with a matching cane for each outfit and a top hat on his head. The combination of the top hat of the day and the glasses he never took off hid the sharpness of his eyes, making him seem more like a jolly, happy old man surrounded by his famliy rather than the ruthless tyrant surrounded by his highest-esteemed servants and minions he really was.
At his left sat Lulubell, a young woman with more cat-like features and habits than human. She had sharp, piercing gold eyes and was almost never truly pleased. All Lulubell really ate was cold milk from a bowl, lapping up the creamy white liquid with a spoon like a cat would. She never said much, just kept watch, but anything that seemed out of place to her she would report instantly to the Earl. Her long black hair was always pulled back into a ponytail, and whenever the Earl called for her she was ready to do whatever he asked. The only thing she really seemed to care about were her nails; she was the only one in their family that kept a personal servant, a young girl in a maid outfit named Mimi, who did everything she could to keep her mistress happy. Lulubell didn't seem to notice this, or even care: she did what she wanted when she wanted, and if she didn't feel like doing it any more, then she stopped and that was that. It was almost typical cat behavior, though no one expected less of Lulubell.
Across from her was Tyki Mikk. He sat calmly across from Lulubell, eating his food and keeping his face down. If Lulubell was regarded as a 'pet' of the Earl, then Tyki was considered his 'right-hand man'. Anything the Earl wanted done, whether it was gathering information or killing in cold blood, he knew Tyki could get the job done. Tyki had perfected his way of gaining the knowledge he needed from people: from gambling, to dressing as a homeless man and listening in on conversations, to dressing as the high society noble he was and seducing people for it. He had no qualms about who he hurt so long as he got the information he wanted, and as such gained himself a reputation as a playboy among the high society members; nevertheless, they still fell for it and Tyki loved how he worked, loved crushing people as easily as if they were nothing but mere butterflies between his fingers.
Beside him sat Rhode, the youngest of the clan. She was the doted-on grandchild, and she knew it. With her dark, vibrant blue-purple, spikey hair and her wide, innocent golden eyes, Rhode charmed everyone, in her family and out of it. Her specialty was torturing and tormenting the people she hated, and she was extremely good at it. Despite her innocent looks, and her old fashioned yet styled clothes, the young girl had a twisted, sadistic mind and she was extremely proud of it. She also had the Earl wrapped around her finger, and she was exceptional at bringing that up whenever she wanted something. Rhode carried around a stuffed bear, one that was old and worn and had been repaired patiently many times by Tyki. She named him Lero when she was young, and used to have conversations with the bear; even now, Lero had his own voice and opinion at the table thanks to Rhode.
Across from her were the two boys, Jasdero and Devitto. Both boys were older than Rhode by a few years, and though they were found together they were practically polar opposites from each other. Devitto was older by only a bit, but it showed clearly. He liked to talk shit and try and back it up with petty food fights before the Earl came to dinner. His hair, deep black, framed his face and fell into his eyes; one eye bore what looked to be a scar going through it. Despite claiming to have drawn it on himself, the scar on Devitto's face never seemed to fade or come off no matter what. Jasdero, on the other hand, was blonde and childish. He usually repeated whatever Devitto said, though every now and then he would pipe up and say his own thoughts on the subject at hand. Unlike Devitto, Jasdero had long blonde hair that fell past his shoulders in waves. Both his eyes had three marks drawn under them, and (perhaps the most striking thing about Jasdero) on his mouth were stitches; despite them, the blonde could still talk and eat, though as to why they were there in the first place nobody knew.
Between them was their usual victim: Skinn Bolic. Skinn was, by far, the largest of them all. However, while the Earl was big in the way of weight (or air- - -they were never really quite sure, as they had never seen the man in anything less than his usual outfits and the man insisted he wasn't fat), Skinn was huge by the way of muscle. He had almost no sense of great intelligence, and usually resorted to violence to get his point across. He was the great protector of the group, and despite his great size, was addicted to sweet things the way some people were addicted to cocaine. Everything the man was to eat had to be sweet; if it wasn't, he would beat up whomever it was that brought him the food- - -male, female, there was no difference to him.
The family dinner continued in relative silence, the only real conversation coming from Devitto's taunts at Skinn, Jasdero's voice echoing after him. Rhode watched them, amused, her fork in between her hands as Skinn struggled to keep his composure at the table. Lulubell ignored all three boys, lapping contentedly at her milk and ignoring Mimi, who was standing behind her mistress with a determined expression on her pale face.
"Eat, Rhode." Tyki murmured to the younger girl. Her gold eyes turned to him, and he smiled slightly at her. "Miss Lenalee would be most disappointed if you don't finish your meal."
"What do I care?" Rhode asked carelessly, shrugging her shoulders. "She's just a servant, and she is easily replaceable." Despite her flippant response, Rhode began to eat, glancing around as if the long haired cook would come and scold her. Tyki's smile warmed slightly at the young girl as he picked up his own fork.
A knock at the door had all occupants at the table look up.
"Well," The Earl said when the knock sounded again. "It appears we have a guest this evening." Nobody dared to move without the Millennium Earl's order, not even the servants; as such, the knocks continued patiently, never raising in volume or in number. It was a simple knock, knock, knock every few moments. And despite the number of servants they had at their disposal, "Tyki-pon."
"Yes, Lord Millennium." The man replied instantly, placing his napkin by his plate.
"Bring our guest in here." The Earl ordered. "We'll make whomever it is welcome before allowing them to continue on their way." The malicious intent the others heard hidden in his voice and aura suggested otherwise, though as usual the enormous smile and happy tone of his voice betrayed nothing of the Millennium Earl's true plans.
Tyki stood and walked down the hall towards the enormous ornate door, hands falling idly by his side as the steady knocking continued. Reaching the door, he pulled it open to reveal a cloaked old woman, huched over and soaked to the bone. Her wrinkled hand fell from its knocking position, resting atop the other on a cane. Tyki sneered at her slightly before turning to the side, a slight unease filling his stomach.
"Come in." He said, and the woman stepped in slowly. "Follow me, if you please." She made a noncommittal noise, but followed slowly behind him nonetheless. Neither said anything as they walked back to the dining room, where the Earl and his minions were waiting.
"Ah, there we are." The Millennium Earl said in his cheerful sounding voice. "Are you the one who has been knocking?" The woman lifted her head so that the hood of the cloak uncovered her mouth.
"I am." She said softly, her voice sounding young and warm. Tyki looked down at her in slight surprise. The Earl's grin widened.
"What brings you to our castle this evening?" He asked. The woman didn't answer, and Tyki felt as though perhaps inviting her in wasn't the best idea in the world.
"Just a mere traveler passing by." She said in her soft voice. On her walking stick, her hands tightened slightly. "A poor traveler, with no place to stay. Would you be so kind as to offer an old woman a place to rest her old bones for the night?"
"Name one reason we should." Devitto said smugly, tilting back in his chair. Beside him, Jasdero giggled madly, trying to copy the other.
"Why should we, why should we?" He repeated questioningly, laughing madly when his attempt to copy Devitto failed and his head hit the floor with an audible THWACK! The woman tilted her head curiously; though when she spoke again, her voice was void of any emotion.
"A room for one night and a bit of food won't do you much harm." She murmured softly. "Surely you could spare that much, Lord Millennium?"
"This way." Tyki said graciously, placing his hand under her arm and steering her gently towards his vacated place at the table. There was no kindness in his actions; the feeling of unease he had had been intensifying each moment that passed, and he wanted her out as soon as possible. His eyes met Rhode's, and the girl smirked at him in a placating manner, though her eyes revealed the same feelings and thoughts he had.
"Tyki-pon, what are you doing?" The Earl asked, his voice curiously pleasant though underneath the shadows, Tyki could feel his eyes glaring fiercely at him.
"Food is not much." Tyki commented carelessly, shrugging as they walked past Rhode's seat. She grinned cutely at the pair, though the woman didn't seem to notice; if she did, she made no comment about it. "I shall simply get another plate from the kitchens from Miss Lenalee later."
"Would you like some water?" Rhode asked courteously, leaning over on her elbow as Tyki helped the woman sit down. "I'm sure it will taste better than the nasty wine Uncle Tyki always drinks." Tyki sent the girl a small, but playful, glare out of the corner of his eye, making her giggle. The normally cheerful noise sounded slightly forced, revealing how worried Rhode was.
"That's quite enough now, dear." The Earl said dangerously. Everyone froze, from Devitto shoving something in Skinn's mouth to the old woman with the fork suspended in midair. All eyes, save one, turned to the Millennium Earl curiously. "I have invited you no where, and I have offered you nothing. You shall leave, madam, as the nearest town is a few mere miles from here."
"That's almost twenty, though, Lord Millennium." Tyki said calmly from where he stood. The feeling got worse, taking up his entire being; Tyki was sure that if they didn't find a way to accommodate the old woman, they would come to regret it very, very much. "Nearly a whole day's trip. Surely you don't mean an old woman to make such a trip alone at night?"
"At the moment, I wish her gone." The Earl said, finality dripping in his voice. "You may escort her out, if you wish, Tyki-pon, but nothing more, you hear?" There was a slightly tense silence.
"Yes, Lord Millennium." Tyki stood back to allow the woman to stand; she stood slowly, straightening her back. As she did, her cloak fell away to reveal a beautiful young woman, glowing in a soft green light, tendrils falling from a band that covered her eyes. She stood regally, power emanating from her very being, stunning the Noah family even more as they slowly recognized her.
"Hevlaska..." Rhode breathed sharply; instinctively, she reached out and grabbed Tyki's arm, leaving her seat and inching around the powerful being. His hand touched hers, the whole family staring up in awe and surprise.
Hevlaska had always been something of a myth; she was regarded as a powerful goddess who would punish those she saw as unkind or unworthy of their high positions in a quick manner that often resulted in a better rule. The Millennium Earl had insisted from the very first day he came that she hadn't been real, way back when he first arrived ten years ago, and they had slowly began to believe it, some even going as far to admit that the goddess was an evil being.
(And, truly, how could they believe otherwise? The tyrant had ruled for ten years, which cemented the idea that Hevlaska was a myth.)
"Lord Millennium." Hevlaska stated calmly. "You have proven, despite my better attempts, to be an unkind, unjust ruler of any kind." Rhode jumped at her voice, which echoed throughout the dining room, and tightened her grip on Tyki's arm, her eyes wide. Tyki moved slightly, pulling the girl closer and wrapping his free arm around her protectively, though her hold on his arm stayed firm. Jasdero whined loudly and crawled over his chair to grab onto Devitto in a manner similar to Rhode's. Devitto, for his part, scowled, attempting to shake the blonde off as he addressed Hevlaska.
"Who says he's unkind or unjust?" He yelled angrily. Tyki groaned internally; when their clearly very real goddess of peace and vitality makes a statement, it is usually a good idea to not argue against aforementioned statement- - -especially one that had been proved only seconds ago. "All due respect- - -" He cut himself off when Hevlaska turned her face towards him.
"Silence, Little One." She said in her calm, echoing voice, reaching out and touching Devitto's forehead with one finger. The boy's eyes slid shut, as did Jasdero's. Their bodies began to combine with one another's, until no one was sure where Devitto ended and Jasdero began. "Jasdevi," Hevlaska started. The two combinations, looking very dazed, looked up blearily at her. She smiled, and the mixed duo blinked slowly at her as she gave her orders. "I would like it if you would guard the South Wing of the castle."
Jasdevi stood awkwardly, turning to stumble into their position. Behind them, the Millennium Earl all but howled in rage, his fists coming down upon the table as he got to his feet.
"Lord Millennium," She turned her face to him; beside him, Lulubell tensed and hissed softly. Hevlaska ignored her. "You have proven yourself unworthy. I'm here to strip you of your power...Adam." Before anyone could argue otherwise, Hevlaska reached out and, flipping the top hat off, pressed her fingertips to the Millennium Earl's forehead. He vanished instantly with a loud crash that reverberated throughout the castle.
As soon as he vanished, the entire castle began to shake and rumble, dust falling from the ceiling and creating a chaos that terrified the whole castle. Rhode tightened her grip on Tyki's arm once more, her eyes wide with fear.
"What's going on, Uncle Tyki?" She whispered fearfully. Her eyes widened when a thought came to her. "Lenalee!" Before Tyki could ask, Rhode tore herself away and all but flew out of the dining hall, her black skirt fluttering around her legs as she ran.
"Rhode, wait!" Tyki went after her, dodging around the table only to be stopped by Hevlaska. "Excuse my rudeness, Madam Hevlaska, but please move." Hevlaska studied him carefully before gently placing her fingers on his forehead.
"You care for none other." She said slowly. Tyki froze, staring at her with wide gold eyes. "None but yourself and your family. As such, you injure greatly those not among you with a harshness and coldness unbecoming of a future ruler." Tyki managed to make himself move back, but Hevlaska's hand stayed pressed firmly against his head. "Until the day you find love." She murmured cryptically. Tyki felt his entire being start weighing down, and he stumbled a bit more before he tripped over something and collapsed.
Tyki opened his eyes blearily a few hours later. There was no sign of anyone in the dining hall, and with a groan he forced himself to sit up properly. He noticed that everything seemed to be in order, though their half-finished dinners were spilled all over the table and floor.
There was a sound, like a bell being rung as it moved, and Tyki turned to see a black cat walk in, a white cross on her forehead. There was a purple ribbon around her neck, where a small bell hung. She looked at him inquisitively for a few moments before licking her paws and rubbing her face.
"Meow." She said, finishing and standing, her silver bell making a little more noise as she walked up to Tyki, her nose twitching once. "Meow." Her golden eyes looked up at him before narrowing slightly. Despite this, she rubbed against his ankle, purring contentedly.
"...Lulubell?" Tyki finally managed, noting in the back of his mind that his voice was harsher then he remembered. He decided at the moment it was due to inhaling too much dust, and bent down to pick the cat up. She blinked at him once before licking his nose encouragingly. "Lulubell, what happened?" Lulubell's nose twitched slightly and she sneezed.
"Madam Lulubell! Madam Lulubell! Oh, Madam Lulubell, where are you?" The frantic call drew both eyes to the door as Mimi, looking very much like a feather duster, flew into the room. She drew to a stop with a gasp, her eyes wide.
Tyki blinked in surprise. Mimi was almost twice the size of a normal feather duster, and retained a lot of her human features. She had a dark wood handle serving as her body, though she had nothing for her arms, and black and white feathers that seemed to represent her dress. Her brown eyes, previously filled with fear for her mistress, grew impossibly wider, complete and utter terror filling them.
"What have you done to Madam Lulubell?" She shrieked, rushing forward towards them, her voice shaky despite her attempts to sound brave. "What have you done to her?"
"Mimi- - -calm down." When she was close enough, Tyki picked her up gently. Her brown eyes were filled with tears, and she struggled faintly to get away, her eyes not losing an ounce of her terror, though after a few moments it became clear that she wouldn't be able to escape and she stopped moving, what Tyki supposed was her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath.
"Please don't hurt Madam Lulubell." She whimpered softly through gasping breaths. Tyki frowned slightly, looking from her to the cat, before standing fully.
"Where are the others?" He asked quietly, completely ignoring the girl's almost obsessive concern for the dark-haired, dark-skinned woman. Mimi shrugged as best she could.
"I didn't think to find anyone else." She said shakily, still gasping. "I was worried about Madam Lulubell." Tears finally began pouring down her face. "Please, don't hurt her!"
Tyki made a slight face and gingerly set the cat and duster down onto the floor. He ignored the relieved cry that came from her as she recognized that cat as her beloved mistress, her overjoyed 'oh, Madam Lulubell, I was so worried!', as he thought where everyone would be.
Jasdero and Devitto were in the South Wing of the castle, that much he knew for a fact. Lulubell was here, her current form more fitting to her personality that Tyki expected (though after Hevlaska combined Jasdero and Devitto, Tyki hadn't been sure what to expect). He wasn't quite sure where Hevlaska had sent the Millennium Earl; though it was more than likely that the man was not dead, Tyki couldn't care less about the man's current whereabouts. Skinn could be anywhere in the castle, though he was more likely near his own room, where he liked to spend a majority of his day. Lenalee was likely in the kitchen, where Rhode had been headed- - -
Tyki's blood froze slightly at the thought. Where was Rhode? She had managed to get away from him while Hevlaska had been there, running for Lenalee when she realized that the girl was in the kitchens alone.
With that thought in mind, Tyki left Mimi and Lulubell in the dining room, entering the hallway that would take him to the kitchen.
The hallway was dark, and Tyki had half a mind to get a light from somewhere. He didn't, moving far too quickly for his liking down the hallway. He wasn't sure what Hevlaska had done to him just yet, and while he was curious, he had no real inclination to find out.
A light caught his attention, and without thinking he grabbed it, holding it up to light his way.
"OW!" Tyki stopped abruptly, glancing at the silver candle stick in his hand. It struggled, attempting to free itself. "Ow, that hurts! Let go, let go!" Tyki gentled his grip slightly, but didn't drop it.
Silver eyes opened and glared at his shadowed face.
"Allen Walker?" Tyki asked quietly, peering at it. Sure enough, the silver eyes of Cross Marian's apprentice glared back at him. The candlestick matched his silver-grey eyes; on the candle itself was the red pentacle that graced the boy's face, and the left holder was twisted and tarnished beyond repair.
"Tyki?" Allen's glare dropped quickly, and in his haste to bow, some melted wax dripped off his head and onto the castle floor. "I couldn't see you, I swear!" Allen peered into the darkness surrounding Tyki, but the man held his position out of Allen's sight- - -Mimi had looked absolutely terrified to see him, and Tyki had no desire to repeat the process with Allen Walker just yet.
"Where's Rhode?" He asked, walking at a slower pace. Allen thought, the smaller holders coming towards his face as he thought.
"I saw her go into the kitchens." He said finally. "BaKanda wouldn't let me go after her to make sure she was ok." Tyki nodded once and for a moment, they continued in silence. "Tyki?" The older male sighed in response; Allen took that as a chance to continue. "What happened?"
"I'm not sure." Tyki admitted after a while, focused more on finding the girl than his answer; his voice came out colder than normal, and Allen winced slightly. "All I know at the moment is that Lulubell is a cat, Mimi is a feather duster, and you are a candlestick." Tyki growled in frustration, the feral sound coming out more animalistic and wild than was normal. "And I have no idea what happened to Rhode."
"Tyki..." Allen gasped slightly, twisting around slightly. "It hurts..." Tyki loosened his grip, still growling; the fact that he had yet to see Rhode troubled him greatly. "You haven't seen yourself?"
"No." Tyki said shortly. "I almost don't want to at the moment." Allen 'tsk'ed in sympathy but said nothing more until they got to the kitchens.
The room beyond the kitchen doorway was uncharacteristically silent, which made Tyki growl a bit more. Allen shifted nervously in Tyki's grip.
"Rhode?" Tyki called out as he opened the door. "Rhode, darling, are you in here?" There was a shadowed movement and Tyki swung Allen around to follow the movement; the candlelight passed over a brown lump on the ground, and Tyki stilled to see it.
Lero's face peered back at him.
"Hello, Lero." Tyki said slowly, taking a step towards the bear. Allen's firelight flickered in the black eyes of the bear as they got closer. "Where's Miss Rhode?"
"How am I supposed to know, Lero!" The bear cried, and Tyki felt a surge of relief course through him. "She put me here, Lero, and disappeared!" Moving toward Lero, Tyki blinked in surprise when all he saw was a violet teacup in the bear's lap.
"Rhode?" He questioned. The teacup quivered slightly, thin gold designs shining in the light, and Tyki felt his shoulders slump in relief. "Rhode, darling, is that you?" There was silence for a moment; not even Allen said anything.
Then Rhode sniffled and turned, her eyes a dark violet color glowing violently in the candlelight.
"I hate Hevlaska." She said darkly, her eyes shining with fury and an intent to murder. "I hate her. Why did she do this to us?" Tyki gingerly reached for the girl, but the sight of his hand caused her eyes to widen and draw back, her gold handle digging into Lero's stomach. "Uncle Tyki?" She asked, her voice trembling slightly.
His hand was longer than usual, and clawed with dark grey skin. The grey skin traveled up his arm, and Tyki dropped Allen out of surprise. The boy grunted when he hit the counter by Lero and Rhode. He stood instantly, the silver bending in ways it wouldn't have in normal circumstances, which lit Tyki up even more.
His entire body was the same shade of grey, and there was a type of half mask placed on his face, covering everything above his nose. The half mask had a horn sticking out of it, and there were what appeared to be vine-like appendages coming out of his back, forming what appeared to be wings to keep from dragging on the floor. His hair was long and wild, and he was covered by some sort of unfamiliar armor.
"Uncle Tyki?" Rhode tried again, but Tyki had run off, leaving the kitchen at a rate much faster than his normal pace, the hallways blurring past him as he made his way to his room.
He skid to a stop in front of the doorway to his room, wrenching it open so hard the wooden door nearly came off its hinges. Stepping inside, Tyki tried to calm himself as he saw his reflection in the mirror.
"Until the day you find love."
Tyki felt his knees give out when Hevlaska's words came back to him. In the corner of his eye, he saw a rose bud surrounded by two small cocoons on his bedside; the sight cemented what happened to the castle and it's inhabitants, proving it in a way that would have been impossible unless it came from the mouth of Hevlaska herself.
The sudden roar of rage echoed throughout the castle suddenly, breaking the relative calm of the night.