A Death At Hand

"Some Body's Discovery"

By Nozomi

Blackness filled the vast room; tonight, the moon was dead, swallowed up by the oblivion of space.

16-year-old Rei "Zero" Enna slipped silently through the halls of his father's great manor, grinning mischievously as he gestured to another shadowed figure accompanying his own.

"Clay! Don't lag behind! You're gonna get us caught!" came the urgent whisper as the youth made his way towards the end of the corridor. He could imagine his friend pushing up his glasses in annoyance, though Zero couldn't make the movement out in the dark. Stealthily, he turned and grabbed his blonde friend's hand, turning and dragging the protesting boy down the way.

"Wait, Zero! We could get in serious trouble for this, you know!"

Of course, Zero Enna was not known for his stealth.

*CLUNK*

He tripped on a random object littering the floor -probably a flower vase or pot or something- and the two went rolling headfirst down the lushly carpeted hall, coming to a stop once they crashed with a dull *THUD* into the wall at the end. Zero jumped up immediately, pulling Clay with him.

"Alright! Let's do that again!"

His friend just let out a long-suffering sigh, "We really should get back to the party."

The chocolate-haired boy frowned. "And be hounded by those overbearing women again? I don't think so. Just whose side are you on, anyway?"

"Mine. And I vote for not getting in trouble for once. Besides, that Ikhny girl seemed kind of interesting."

"Yeah, yeah." He wasn't listening to a word Clay was saying, of course. No one did when he started lecturing like that.

"Hey, are you listening-"

"Follow me!" he cried, and grabbed Clay's wrist, pulling him down yet another hallway. Clay, of course, followed, though it has to be said that he did so more than a bit reluctantly.

Since they were children, and had first been introduced to each other at the age of 5, Zero had been getting into trouble. And it seemed wherever Zero was, Clay was not far behind. The blonde boy was the cautious, realistic one of the two; it didn't mean, however, that he wasn't partial to having a little fun once in awhile himself. It was just that 'once in awhile' in Clay's mind translated to 'everyday' in Zero-talk.

Yet, whatever Zero got himself into, despite his protests, Clay would always be there, along for the ride. It was almost enough to make one wonder whether Clay really minded breaking the rules so much; he did, after all, hang around with Zero. That was one sure-fire way to find oneself constantly in trouble. Like the time Zero had convinced him to sneak out of lessons and take out their horses for an afternoon ride. Or when he had been somehow convinced to scale a fence and throw rocks at the farmer's cows. He had no idea how THAT had occurred. He had been young and impressionable back then.

Scratch that; it was only a year ago.

Whatever the reason, Clay always stuck by Zero, no matter what. They may have been almost total opposites at first glance, but the two had long formed a bond that would not be broken, through all the trials and tribulations Clay himself was forced to endure.

They turned yet another corner- and paused, Clay almost colliding head-on with Zero's back. Ah, there was nothing like running rampant down nearly black halls at midnight, towed along by a psychotic best friend. Not that he was complaining, exactly.

Ok, maybe just a little.

Peering over his friend's shoulder, he spotted what he supposed Zero did as well: the vague shadow of a figure moving around in a room farther down the hall. Who on earth could it be? No one was supposed to be in this part of the house; everyone was supposed to be at the party.

'That includes us,' Clay thought, pushing his glasses up in obvious agitation. Out of the corner of his eye, he could vaguely spot Zero bring a finger to his lips in a shushing motion, before tiptoeing silently down the halls. Clay was impressed; it wasn't every day that Zero showed some brains in handling a potential problem. Oh, he knew the chocolate-eyed boy was smart, it was just the way he applied himself that made the difference.

Together, the two slid softly towards the open door. Clay was beginning to think that this endeavor would actually turn out right for once- when Zero tripped once again, giving a startled yelp before crashing to the ground.

Geez. Could the boy get any clumsier?

All movement inside the room immediately stopped; Clay found himself straining to hear the merest sound emitted, then let his imagination run free for a moment, and imagined the person in the room doing the same concerning them. It gave him the heebie-jeebies.

Cursing softly, Zero picked himself up off the floor and threw caution to the wind. "Whoever's in there, you better come out now! You're not allowed to be fooling around in my house!"

Great job, Zero. That'll really scare 'em.

There was a pause, and Clay thought he saw more movement from the room- before their ears were filled with a loud *crash*; the tinkling sound of breaking glass. Immediately the two young boys jumped into action, racing inside the room- Clay almost ran into Zero's back again. That was becoming a very annoying habit. Definitely something he needed to break, and fast.

"Zero? What is it?"

"… I-… I-… Clay… It's… it's…" Interesting. He was actually speechless. Must be something really traumatic.

It was. Oh God, it was.

Before them, lying almost totally covered in broken glass and china dinnerware, was a body. A body! … It looked dead, covered in blood like it was. Clay could only hope to God it wasn't.

"Is… is he… dead?" Zero managed, that last word cracking his already broken sentence.

For that, he had no answer. It wasn't moving, that was certain. It didn't seem to be breathing, either.

Yeah. Don't think of it as a 'he'. It's an 'it'. Only an it. Not a real person. Things like this didn't happen to real people.

He staggered back, trying to get out of the room; that room, it was suffocating, choking him.

"I…" he swallowed convulsively, "I'll… go get help."

And with that, he was gone.

Like anyone could help.

For a long moment, Zero stood staring, enraptured by the scene. He couldn't tear his eyes away; his brain kept running in an endless circle.

'No no no no no nonononononononononononono!'

Finally, he pulled himself out of his stupor long enough to realize that the kill weapon still lay there, embedded in the victim's chest. It was a dagger, jewel-encrusted and strikingly familiar. He leaned down, careful not to glance at the body's face lest he be overcome by nausea, and took a closer look. He had to pull it out to do so, and that simple action causing him to retch violently, but he made it.

The insignia was that of a high noble line, those two lines crossed just so, signified the firstborn. He recognized that insignia! He had been introduced to the owner of it just three days ago!

This dagger belonged to the firstborn son of the Gner line: Hiead Gner.

He was the murderer! Hiead…

Zero and the silver-haired boy had been introduced by way of their fathers; neither had liked the other, and they hadn't seen each other since. But, this… This was an atrocity!

The sound of footsteps cracking upon broken glass brought his attention to the other side of the room. Someone was here! He stood up, bringing the dagger with him, his hands stained with blood.

"Clay…?"

"No." the figure stepped closer, into the light, and Zero gasped. That silver hair, those wine-colored eyes, that infernal smirk-

"But it looks like I've caught myself a killer."

Hiead Gner!

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Questions, comments, criticism? Send 'em here! ^.^ Wow. I like this so far! And this is only the prologue. ^.^; So, you're done reading. Tell me what ya think!

Nozomi