Chapter 20

A/N: I know that in the first few chapters I've started off with Diamond and slowly fused Demando in the story instead. It is still his name, Demando Diamond Of Dark Moon. So to not make anyone confuse, I'd continue using Demando.

The mood in the room was solemn. The curtains were drawn to let sunlight in. Air purifying herbs were brought into the room and only specially authorised people were let in. A blue haired woman dressed in the royal healer garb was seen bent over a prone figure of a sable haired woman. Ami meticulously channelled a steady amount of her healing power into the woman, too much of it could kill her and too little would slow down the healing process.

Beads of perspiration dotted her forehead but Ami was oblivious to it. She needs her full concentration in healing the woman, the very kingdom and her life depends on it. To falter would be the same as murder. Murdering the Future Queen of Dark Moon will never look good in her future job references provided that her head still remains affixed to her shoulder. She could still remember the wild murderous look on the King's face when he tore through the dimension hole.

The ominous oppressing aura had shaken the whole castle. The Royal Guards were immediately armed and assembled. All of the generals had stopped whatever they were doing and rushed to investigate the source of the aura. Imagined their surprised when instead of meeting the eyes of their foe, they had met with their king. The anguished laced with a blood lust aura had nearly singed them. They had never seen Demando losing control, not even during the Great War.

He had growled menacingly and had whipped his aura to anyone who came near him. All of them were clueless to this strange development until Hotaru suddenly appeared through the ripped Dimension Hole behind him. On her knees, she had immediately prostrate and begged for forgiveness. Still clueless, Minako had stepped up carefully but even she received the same treatment. It was Ryu who came in a whirlwind of fire that brought the attention of everyone to the unconscious woman in his arms.

It was tedious and long but in the end the monarch had finally calmed down and delicately allowed the woman to rest on the bed of the royal chamber. Only then was she allowed to tend to the future queen and she had been doing it since then, never resting especially when her king is still in the room, watching her every movements. Ami had never felt so pressured in her life.

Withdrawing from the woman, Ami straightened her back and had to bit back a groan as her muscles protested. How long exactly had she been bent over? Wiping the back of her hand across her brows, Ami readied herself to meet the dangerously brooding king and turned. "Your Majesty, I have forced the poison from her system and had it contained. I will need to neutralise it and remove it from her body later. She needs to be fed with medicinal herbs to expedite the healing process."

Ami almost grimaced as a twitch of muscle at his jaw appeared. She had to hold the urge to run when Demando slowly opened his eyes and captured her gaze with his red tinted indigo irises.

"Will she heal?" his voice was rough and deep and Ami knew her next answer will confirm her future state.

"She will heal your majesty. Once the poison is out, it will take a few weeks to fully recover."

Ami let out the breath she didn't knew she held when Demando finally moved his eyes to the unconscious woman. "You may leave."

Not one to question an opportunity, Ami immediately scuttled out of the chamber. What in the world had happened to make Demando so livid? Perhaps a visit to Ryu and Hotaru would answer the question, that is, if the others didn't reach them first.

Gritting his teeth, Demando palmed his face before standing up and moving to stand beside the bed. Sitting down, he reached out and delicately caresses Serena's face. Her once rosy and lively complexion was replaced by deathly pale complexion. Her lips had a slight blue tint at the edges of her mouth, a firm confirmation that the poison was still present in her blood. She had remained that way since he had brought her over when he saw her lying unconscious on the floor, blood pooling from her mouth.

He was careless. He was stupid and because of it, Serena had nearly died. If he hadn't gotten there in time, if she hadn't mentally screamed… Demando violently shuddered as the thought crosses his mind. He can't lose her. He wasn't lying when he had told her she was his heart. He would die should she passes.

He had misunderstood the images that he had torn from Darien's memory. He had underestimated Darien and had thought someone would have sneaked in and physically hurt Serena. What he hadn't expected was the manservant to sneak into Serena's house and slipped in the poison into her lunch. The poison only needed a few hours to take into effect and not even the host would suspect anything until at the last possible moment.

Leaning down, Demando rested his head onto Serena's shoulder and breathed in her sweet scent. "Forgive me love. I failed to keep you safe. Damn it, I should have really heeded your warning. You are right baby, I am an arrogant bastard." Demando paused. He could feel his throat constrict and his voice broke at his next sentence. "Heal love. Heal well and come back to me. I promise to never leave your side again. Just come back to me."

Opening the door, Sapphire stepped in and was about to announce his presence when he caught sight of his brother. The once strong and arrogant man who never once showed any weakness was bent over the form of the unconscious woman in grief. His heart went out to his brother. He had hoped when Demando stepped into the Dimension Hole for his holiday, he would return home in high spirits, ready to tell his tales. He wasn't expecting to see the wild and blood lusted look on Demando's face when he appeared through what seemed to be a ripped Dimension Hole.

To say Sapphire was shocked and confused was an understatement. The ripped Dimension hole, he could easily fix but not the deep grief and anguish that had carved out Demando's heart. Although he had his suspicions that the prone woman on the bed would be the healer to his brother's heart. The woman must have been an astounding person to bring his brother down to his knees.

Clearing his throat, Sapphire made his presence known. Walking into the room, he stopped beside his brother. Bowing his head, Sapphire watched as Demando straightened from his position. "You need to rest brother. You have been in this room since last night. It saddens me to see you in such a state. A bath has been drawn for you and a hot meal has been prepared."

"I can't leave her side Sapphire. I will not lose her. Damn it I nearly came close in losing her!" the red tint in Demando's eyes began to spread around his indigo eyes.

Sapphire knew he treads on dangerous ground but he need to make Demando rest. "Brother it would be wise if you at least freshen up and have something to eat. You need to be strong for your woman and to do that you have to have some sustenance. You need to be at your best physique to protect her."

A soft moan was heard from the woman. Immediately both men turned their attention to her.

"Demando? Argh… why is my throat so dry?" Serena rasped out as she tries to peel her eyes open. God, it feels like someone had glued it shut! Immediately she regretted it. The room was spinning! "Did you use your magic to spin the room this time Demando? I feel as weak as a babe. I assure you, your sense of humour is badly misplaced." Though her voice was soft and raspy, it was heard clearly by both brothers.

Serena felt a cool glass pressed on her lips and gladly took in the offering. Perhaps she had been too eager, she thought as she coughed the water out from her airway.

Slowly love. Sip the water slowly.

"Are you trying to implore that I am greedy Demando? I feel so weak… what happened?"

"Do not move love. The poison is still in your blood." Demando had never felt more relief in his life and sent a prayer of thanks to his Maker. He had never once felt so grateful for the chance that was granted to him. Leaning down, Demando brushed his lips onto her furrowed eyebrows.

"Poison you say? I knew it! I told you that you'd be the death of me someday." Serena mumbled as she shot an irritated look to her fiancé, oblivious to the other presence in the room. Letting out a sigh, she once again looked at Demando and finally took in the dishelved appearance. The wild and harsh look in his eyes broke tugged her heart. His once neat and meticulate clothing were now rumpled. Serena slowly rearranged herself, in spite of her protesting muscles, on the bed and caught Demando's wrist when he had tried to help. "Join me Demando. I need to feel your arms around me."

Demando had looked like he was about to protest but Serena's soft plea moved him. "Please? I'd feel better if you hold me." Nodding, Demando gently pulled the covers aside and settled on the bed. Wrapping his arms around Serena's petite form, he was about to rearrange her so that she'd be comfortably spooned by his large form but she beat him to it. He breathed in her comforting scent as she snuggled up to him.

"I let you know that you are downright responsible for this. Just wait til I am able and on my feet. I'd find a perfect opportunity to put you with Victoria and her little group. Even your sexy looks won't save you." Serena nodded as she playfully slapped the arms that held her waist captive.

A loud chuckle from the corner of the bed stopped Serena from her tirade. Finally noticing the other presence, Serena paled further if that was even possible, mortified that someone else had been privy to her conversation. Craning her neck, she glared at the smiling Demando.

"Now you have gone and destroyed my good demure natured in front of a stranger. I will hold you responsible for that also."

"I think Ami might have mixed up her diagnose on you. You don't look a bit like a patient who was poisoned. In fact you look like a banshee," Demando laughed heartily as the petite woman sputtered. The burden he felt a few minutes ago was lifted. His Serena would heal, her witty comments were the first indication on her road to recovery.

"Banshee you called me! Hmph! You are lucky I am still recovering from that poison that you had overlooked. I am too tired to return your smart comments." Serena tried to turn to face Demando but the chin on her head pressed down slightly, stopping her actions. Serena narrowed her eyes. "You will have to wait for my recovery. I want to do what other sick and recently poisoned patients do and sleep. You can wait until then."

She is good for you, brother. Sapphire's eyes glinted mischievously as he stared at his brother. Oh how the great fearless warrior has fallen. She has wrapped you around her little finger brother.

We shall see how you'd handle your woman once you have found her. Go take your humour somewhere else Sapphire before I find something to occupy your time.

I'm waiting for the time she fully recovers. I'd like to watch she put you in your place brother.

Now Sapphire. Out now! Indigo eyes glinted in irritation when the mental laughter of Sapphire echoed his mind.

"I will oversee the others while the lady and you rest. Pleasant dreams to you and fast recovery to you Milady," Sapphire bowed his head and took his leave. A smile graced his lips as he closed the doors. The light that was lost in his brother's eyes had returned when the small woman had woken up.

"She hasn't come out yet?" Minako asked and narrowed her eyes when the guard shook his head. This might be more serious than she had previously thought. Ever since the incident at the main courtyard yesterday, Hotaru hasn't spoken to anyone and had locked herself in her little cave, ignoring all the pleas of the other generals to come out. How is she suppose to know what had happened in the other dimension if the woman remain locked up in her room all the time? This is getting very frustrating.

She was about to rattle the doorknob when the guard stopped her. "She has the doors warded Taicho." Great, if that witch has warded the doors, there is no way can they open the doors unless she allowed it. Huffing in annoyance, Minako turned around and headed to the person whom she knows she can get the answer to yesterday's event, provided he too hasn't locked himself up somewhere.

"Are you looking for Ryu?" a deep voice sounded behind her. Turning around, Minako immediately bowed her head in respect.

"Yes I am, your majesty."

Sapphire eyed the warded door in front of him. "I have not had any report from anyone about yesterday's incident. It is time that I get them don't you think Minako?"

Minako smiled and nodded her head. She can finally get to the bottom of yesterday's fiasco. Oh that witch will surely get an earful from her for locking herself up!

"Hotaru! Open up! I demand you open the door!" it took a short while but the command was effective. The low humming decibels that accompanied the slight outer glow around the door disappeared. Slowly, the doors opened.

Minako held the urge to shiver at the deathly aura that hung in the room. Minako narrowed her eyes as she eyed one of Hotaru's invisible twitching limbs. However does the little witch manage to survive in this dead hole is a wonder to her. Suddenly, she perked up and with a sly smile, Minako allowed her aura to spread itself in the room.

"It is basic courtesy to not mess with your host's residence Minako. I do not appreciate your cheery little sunshine friends." A soft voice hissed and the invisible limbs immediately thwarted Minako's bright rays. Hotaru spared a quick glance to Minako before curtsying deeply towards her superior.

Twitching her nose in obvious irritation, Minako stomped towards the pale looking woman across the room. "It is courtesy to answer your friends' calls Hotaru. We are all concerned about you."

At that, Hotaru's spine stiffened further. Waving her hand towards the available seats in the room, she beckoned them to seat. As she took a seat with them, she prepared herself for the upcoming questions.

"Things happened yesterday. It made my brother distraught, a woman was brought back injured, the Dimension Hole was ripped apart and you and Ryu have holed yourself since yesterday." Leaning into the seat, Sapphire made sure Hotaru see the steel glint in his eyes. "I would like to know why. I can put this as a request, but if you insist, I will force you to give me a detailed report of your stay at the other realm."

A long silence filled the room. Hotaru clenched her first, her first sign of distraught. Struggling to take in a deep breath, Hotaru finally answered, her voice cracking. "I failed your highness. I failed to perform my duty to protect his Majesty and her ladyship."

"I had overlooked the most simple principle in the art of war. For that error, her ladyship was almost assassinated. A servant had slipped through the house under my watch and poisoned the food which was meant for her ladyship." Hotaru took a long deep breath and in that moment, she looked far older than her age.

"No one suspected a thing until she fainted in a pool of blood when I went out to check on a triggered trap. All the safeguards we had placed didn't work," a strangled laugh escaped Hotaru and she shook her head in defeat. "The next thing we knew was feeling a darkness and rage in our soul. It was as if death himself had taken us. It was cold... then it was scorching hot, burning us from the inside."

"It was terrible, the feeling. For the first time, I had thought we were under attack by the most foul of the dark arts until we heard the anguish roar from his majesty. It was only then we knew that his ladyship was hurt." Another strangled laugh escaped Hotaru and Minako couldn't help stop herself. Rushing to her friend, Minako enveloped Hotaru in a comforting hug.

"We were defeated by a mere poison. A simple poison! For that I have brought Demando's wrath upon us. I am so sorry... God I am so sorry."

Sapphire watched with knowing eyes as Hotaru broke into sobs, her eyes castaway, lost in what may have been a memory of Demando's death wrath. He had personally seen and felt it before. The day their mother was raped and murdered brutally, his brother had almost lost himself and killed everything in his sight. The darkness and rage he had felt from Demando had almost shred his soul. It had left him breathless and shaking for days. His heart went out to the distraught General. One should never experience such dark experience. At least now he knows the root cause to make his brother's best generals behaving in distraughtly.

Straightening himself, Sapphire stood up and touched Hotaru's shoulder in an age old cammaderie. "I apologise for the pain you are feeling now. As my brother's first command, I order you to have a good rest. Be it known that it wasn't your fault or Ryu's. You and Ryu will have a free week."

With a nod, Sapphire made his leave. Why can't Demando just keep everything simple and end things in those usual 'happily ever after' stories? It will be a long week and he does not look forward to it.

A/N: Apologies for the late update. It took me a while to think over this chapter. It was suppose to be an ending chapter but things didn't always work my way when the stories have a mind of their own. Hopefully next chapter would be the end. *glares at the stubborn story* I was hoping to end it so I can concentrate on the other unfinished stories.

For those who have reviewed and emailed, thank you for your continuous support. It helps me to drive my bum to my seat and crack my head over this chapter. Thanks once again!