Hello my dear readers! (uh… that may be a bit presumptuous of me to assume that I have like a followers group or something but whatever, I'll just blame it on the substance abuse..) After a looooong absence – more than one month, okay one month is not actually that long but it felt like it – I have delved into a new - previously unexplored by means of writing - fandom. So naturally, I'm really curious and excited to see how this *** will turn out, whether good or bad is ultimately for you to decide ;)
Also my darlings, as you may already know from my previous disturbing creations I am really bad and have been constantly struggling with author notes in my stories ever since the beginning of my writing for FF, which is quite a long time. Because of that, I have now made the vital decision to remove this feature completely – unless there's really something important and reasonably coherent that I want to say :)) That is to say, I will no longer try to make up for my lazy ass short chapters with long tedious author notes – like I'm doing now – and actually get to work…:)))
The small boat reached the sandy, eerie shore with a light thud and I let the oar slip away from my hand. My one remaining hand, yes, but such injury… it was nothing to me. My sole arm was strong enough to carry my sweet burden, and carry him I did, across the bare, fog shrouded beach, through the deep pine forest and finally, to the ruins. But just as I placed my foot onto the worn, whitened stones before me I had this sense of foreboding… that it would be, no, that it was already a night of sadness, not just for him, but for me as well… But why should I have been sad, when I was so close to my purpose, to my fulfillment? That was what I had worked for, that was what I craved. In but a few moments my thirst would have been quenched, my long harbored hunger finally sated.
"We're here, master…"
There was no breeze, the air was still around the perfect silence. Nothing but the pale moonlight, bathing that ancient scenery into soft silvery shades. It was all… just beautiful.
"So this is where it ends…" he concluded, his voice soft and drowsy, and I nodded. I did not see any sign yet, and nothing alerted me of the danger... How could I have known, when his spirit was as unyielding, as unfaltering as ever? Not when there was so much determination latched into his words, not when he even refused my offer to be gentle. His wish to experience the pain to its fullest, to have it etched into his very being, it almost touched me. Almost…
But then his head fell back onto the stone bench and his cheek was already cold under my fingers… And then, just before my mouth could claim him, his eyes closed and he was gone. He was empty. He was a soulless corpse…
The large wooden doors gave way under the pressure of his outstretched arms, bursting open with a sinister creak followed by a thundering sound as they hit the inner walls. Breathing hard from the effort, the demon gathered his remaining strength and dragged his feet inside, into the dark, gloomy hallway. It was desolate and unsightly, this place that was his own, this old drafty stone castle that held the promise of all despair to anyone other than his own master, and maybe, unknown to the world, even to him as well. His own home felt more like a cold, unwelcoming dungeon rather than the soothing refuge he'd sought after a long, tiresome trip. His body ached with the pain of useless toil and his soul with the bleeding wound of his pride. Time was nothing to one such as himself but still, its passage left scars in its wake. And he had wasted plenty of time for the benefit of nothing - that had been the sad conclusion of his completely fruitless endeavor.
Of course, this wasn't entirely new. He had gone hungry before, when the world was younger and he himself was younger, sure, he had made mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But now? There was such a pestering burn of defeat and humiliation in this hunger he could not sate with petty, tasteless souls that would have made an easy dish.
Lost… lost… how could he be lost, just like that? How could it happen, without my knowledge, without any reason…? Why? How did he just… slip away into death? I have failed… failed!
Had it all been some clever stunt pulled on him most cruelly? And if so, who could have been the culprit? Not his young master, surely, for as much as he had known the ways of men, he had known nothing of the ways of the Underworld. No, he's been a helpless child to the very end and I've only proven myself to be an equally helpless demon… How stupid! Sadly, it appeared now to be as impossible as it was futile to even try to get to the bottom of the whole thing. And now, he was back here, to the place he called home – the house of the Black Crow. Indeed, there is no place like home… No place as tiresome and repulsive, that is…
"Master, you have finally returned! For a long time we have been waiting for you…" Gentle hands slid the wet cloak off his shoulders and he allowed it with a sigh, not bothering to acknowledge their owner.
Indeed, once more I have returned to my own solitude, to my own damnation, empty handed and unsatisfied…
Sebastian ran a tired hand through his dampened black strands absentmindedly as he followed the hurried steps of the servant into the dim lit corridor and along the narrow, crooked staircase that led to the stone chambers constituting his private apartments. In that moment he wanted nothing more than to be left alone and allowed to brood over his misfortune.
"So… is there anything I should be aware of, now that I'm back here?" He had to ask but really hoped it wasn't, while the servant scurried around the room, starting the fire and pulling the curtains with a rapid, expert hand. Red eyes scanned the familiar environment and the Crow forced himself to believe that the little bit of comfort his layer provided was something he'd rather missed while he'd been away. At least here he would be spared of doing house chores, he thought in a rather failed attempt at positive thinking.
"Well the… Council has also impatiently awaited your return, milord," his minion explained with somewhat of a hesitation, "You know that they always have some sort of problem that they are unable to handle themselves…"
The demon dropped in an armchair with a deep throated groan in reply, shedding his dirty white gloves and burying his face in his hands. "I want to rest now, Es… I will see no one"
"As you wish, master"
Sebastian's eyes were motionless, reflecting the dancing flames from the hearth. There he was again – into that state where hot, boiling anger would eventually melt down into a tasteless boredom, rendering the demon unable and unwilling to do anything anymore. He would not as much as breathe, but for one such as himself death was incomprehensible, unreachable, simply… not possible. As much as he might have craved it in moments like this, the Black Crow could not die. No, he may have temporarily confined himself into the depths of his layer, but could not shut himself away from the world and his duties. Because on top of all his misery, he had work to do.
His time for leisure and personal pursuits was over, and now it was back to the troublesome task of taking care of the Council's endless issues. A groan escaped Sebastian's lips at the mere thought of it as he eyed the papers already piled up onto his desk. He'd been hiding in here idly for much too long, without even keeping track of hours or days, and it was time to do something.
At last he stood from the soft cushions, abandoning the pleasant warmth and stretching aching muscles in the process. His body had fully recovered by now, very much unlike his disposition which had not improved one bit. The demon took a few steps only to drop onto the harder and considerably less comfortable chair behind his small desk, and began leafing through his correspondence.
. …bring him to us! Judgment must be upon him, for he has broken the contract! ... he has broken his contract! Find him and fetch him… now!
Fetch. What an appropriate choice of words. Not to mention, it was a sensitive subject to begin with – this whole contract business. Even the mere word had become repulsive, he would not as much as think of it. In that moment he was ready to swear on Beelzebub's beard that he would never form another contract as long as he lived and never know such shame again.
Long fingers tossed the half crumpled sheet of paper back into the now messy pile and his jaw clenched, ever so slightly. He wasn't in the mood for this. Reluctant for yet another motion, he reached for the bell and called for his servant. His keen hearing caught the hushed whispers of his staff somewhere below and then light footsteps, drawing closer and closer. The Crow sighed, dreading the moment when he would actually have to open his mouth and speak. It seemed like such an exhausting and pointless effort.
"Yes, master…?" a voice spoke softly, accompanying the rather loud creak of the old wooden door. The demon didn't bother to spare a gaze toward the black clad figure who had remained in the doorway, looking expectant.
"Milord? You've been in here for quite a while now… are you alright?"
As if something could possibly happen to me… "The Council has sent yet another letter of notice," Sebastian said neutrally, briefly pointing to the papers in front of him. "It appears that the matter they have presented to us is quite urgent… and so obviously they want it taken care of as soon as possible"
"Indeed, so I've heard, master. They are quite pressing about it," the minion agreed, while said master continued to stare somewhere else with half lidded eyes.
"However, I have no desire to busy myself with this rather petty issue, not now and very possibly not ever…" the demon eventually went on with a sigh, "and yet the house of the Black Crow must obey the orders of the Council. So… what do you suggest we do?"
"Milord, I fear that the matter of which you speak is by no means petty… but given your predicament, I say we find someone to help with the job. Of course, no one known can be contracted in this purpose and since we've been in need of an extra someone for a while now, maybe you could write to the Undertaker? He's discreet and I'm sure you'll be able to negotiate a reasonable price…"
Ruby red orbs trailed lazily to finally face the other and the Crow leaned forward onto his desk, propping his chin onto his forearms, a black nailed finger beginning to drum softly against the polished wood. "The Undertaker you say? Well… I suppose it is an option. But I will not keep it from you that I'm deeply disgusted with the stuff he sells. Those mindless, soulless puppets are revolting to say the least." he stated bluntly.
"But the Council uses them all the time, and for all sorts of purpose, master. Even to play chess – you do remember the last public match they held. Those thirty two perfectly chosen pieces..."
"Yes, it was a perfect bloodbath for the mob's entertainment. They slaughtered each other most gruesomely as I recall, but then again, I never expected the Lords to have any sense of aesthetics," Sebastian observed with a grimace. "I also rather doubt that such a person could do the job, after all Claude Faustus is not a complete idiot. But we can at least give it a try if you think it's worth it, Es"
"Milord, if you so wish, I will keep it out of your sight," the minion offered with a bow.
The demon dismissed his servant with a bored wave of his hand. "Very well then, you will see it done." As for the Undertaker, he'd do well to deliver what we ask of him…
To be continued…