Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Demon Diary.
"Why is THAT GUY here?!"
Krayon looked up from his tea and his world brightened. "Erutis!" he cried, "you've awakened, my love!"
Erutis twitched, then promptly went to stand behind Eclipse. But it did nothing to deter Krayon who stood up from his seat, pulled out a single rose which he had -apparently- hidden under the flashy cloak he was wearing, and went to give it to her. Erutis jumped back to put more distance between them and was about to cuss the demon lord out, when she was interrupted.
"Oh, what a beautiful rose!" Raenef exclaimed.
Erutis twitched again. Damn Raenef and his sweet disposition; he made it fairly impossible for her to refuse the gift now. Sighing reluctantly, Erutis slowly reached out and took the gift. When she looked Krayon in the eye, he was positively beaming at her. It only served to make her more uncomfortable.
"L-let's all take a seat," she suggested to put Krayon's attentions elsewhere, but he had other ideas.
"Let's, indeed," he said, and happily hooked his arm around hers, escorting her to sit beside him at the table.
Eclipse followed silently, but Monika and Lilith remained standing.
"Lord Raenef," Eclipse spoke quietly, "the strawberry tarts..."
Raenef waved him off. "Nevermind those, Eclipse; you were gone so long, I'm already preparing us something else. But who are my guests?" He indicated Monika and Lilith with an interested smile.
"They are Erutis' prisoners, my lord," Eclipse answered. "Speaking of which," he turned to look at Erutis, "Pay up."
Erutis didn't hesitate in retrieving the bounty. The bag she had been carrying with her quickly slid off her shoulder onto her lap, and when she opened it, the richly ornamented jewel box inside glittered. She took it out carefully and laid it on the table.
"What is that?" Raenef curiously reached for it, but his hand was slapped away.
"Ah-ah. No touching, Raenef," Erutis admonished, while opening the box.
A silence fell upon the small company.
Then: a gasp. Krayon. "Are those-?" he asked.
"Yes," Eclipse confirmed, "Crystal Hearts."
"What are Crystal Hearts?" Raenef asked.
"Beating hearts from dead people," Erutis supplied the macabre information tonelessly, and Raenef paled.
Eclipse fought the urge to roll his eyes. "Hearts from dead people, yes; but they're no longer beating, they've been crystalized," he corrected. He eyed lord Krayon. "You seem to know about them."
"Vague rumors," Krayon replied. "But I thought them myths."
"Apparently not," said Eclipse. He looked to Erutis with something akin to impatience. "Half," he demanded.
Erutis sighed and began counting the gems. When she had finished she split the amount in two and shoved one pile towards Eclipse. The other she returned to the jewel box and kept for herself.
"W-why do you guys wants dead people's hearts?" Raenef stuttered.
"Because apparently they're worth a lot," Erutis replied earnestly, then grinned. "I'm gonna sell them and become rich!"
"Erutis, will you sell them to me?" Eclipse asked.
Erutis blinked. "Uh. Sure. But you already have all those; why would you want mine?"
Eclipse shrugged. "I would rather not gift master Raenef incomplete sets," he answered.
"Uh..." Raenef hesitated, and shuffled on his seat uneasily. "F-for me?" He knew demon lords never refused gifts, but he really rather not have them. Dead people's hearts... it was just plain creepy.
"I'll give you one large chest of gold for them, Erutis," Eclipse said, "Of course, all coin."
But Erutis wagged her finger into his nose. "Ah-ah. I don think so, Eclipse," she smirked. "These gems are very rare and hard to come by. One chest of gold is not nearly enough."
Eclipse growled softly under his breath. "Three," he bit out.
"Twenty," Erutis bargained.
"Five," Eclipse shot back.
"Nothing," Eclipse growled out as he lost his temper.
Erutis let out a small huff. "Fine, fine," she grumbled, shoving the jewel box in Eclipse's direction. "Twelve it is. But I want them to be extremely large and filled to the brim."
"Done," said Eclipse. He placed his remaining gems back into the jewel box with a pleased smirk. Then, he teleported the box away into the castle's hidden treasury halls, and summoned twelve large coffers of gold onto the table, which promptly broke down under the weight. "Satisfied?" he asked.
Entirely baffled, Erutis could do nothing but nod.
"I know you didn't want Erutis' share just to have a complete set, Eclipse."
Eclipse turned to his master. There was that perceptive look in Raenef's eyes again, the one he had been seeing so much often lately. It was disconcerting at times, but he was relieved nonetheless, because it was proof of Raenef's capabilities as a true demon lord.
"You are correct, master Raenef," Eclipse said. "The reason I took Erutis' half was because I would rather not have these gems end up in the hands of some gullible fool." He frowned. "I know little of these Crystal Hearts, my lord, but your predecessor, Raenef IV, once told me about them; he said that they contain a great source of power."
"What kind of power?" asked Raenef.
Eclipse shook his head. "I don't know. But that's why those two are here." He indicated Monika and Lilith. "The man is claiming that the woman wants to collect all of the Hearts. We don't know whether to believe him or not; he may be making a scapegoat of the woman, or he may be telling the truth. The fact of the matter is that these gems were found in his castle."
"So," said Raenef, "what do we do with them?"
"That's up to Erutis," Eclipse replied, "she wanted to investigate, so these are her prisoners. However, I like to offer our dungeons. They'll keep these two locked up and out of the way, until we know more of the situation."
Eclipse turned to Erutis for permission and she nodded her consent. With a snap of his fingers, Monika and Lilith vanished from the room, teleported to the magically guarded dungeons underneath the castle.
"Say," said Krayon, suddenly, "I think I smell something."
Erutis wrinkled her nose. "Is... something burning?"
Eclipse sniffed and then wrinkled his nose too. "Master Raenef..." he said, masking his face into a carefully neutral expression, "what were you preparing in place of the strawberry tarts?"
"Uhm..." Raenef had the decency to blush. "I was trying to bake a cake?"
To be continued...