Still woozy from the blow, his head spun as he was picked up and thrown over the man's shoulder, staring down at the floor and the man left the room. He deliberately avoided looking back at the children, not wanting to see their hopeful, frightened faces. He had been ordered to save them, but if he had to sacrifice some of them to bring these guys down, then he would do it and not hesitate.

"Oh? What did you bring another one for? We haven't even gotten rid of this one's body yet," a cold, amused voice addressed the man carrying Ciel. "Was he the cause of all that noise?" the voice asked softly, and Ciel swallowed, hearing the malice contained in that simple question; he'd probably pay dearly for that boy's help.

The guard shrugged, and Ciel winced as his shoulder jammed into his stomach. "One of the brats said that he did something to the children that hurt them, and they started crying. They looked afraid enough," he sneered, and Ciel scowled; that hadn't been intentional, but it was just as well that they had been afraid. It made the story all the more believable.

"Oh?" Now the owner of the menacing voice sounded keenly interested, and Ciel just lay there, not fighting his captor's grip on him, his head still throbbing, but no longer dizzy. He could focus again, and that was something at least. "So this kid has some sort of magic already, huh?" The guard confirmed this, and the man chuckled. "Tie him down," he ordered.

Ciel heard the order, and reacted instinctively, struggling to break free of the other man's grip on him. The man, not expecting the sudden movement, lost his hold and Ciel tumbled to the floor, hitting it hard and getting the wind knocked out of him. "Ugh," he groaned, but forced himself to his knees, trying to stand and run. He would not be tied down again; he wouldn't!

But his small body wasn't fast enough, and the man grabbed him again, securing his arms at his sides and pinning him to his chest. Ciel swung his head back, and the man cursed, just narrowly avoiding being hit in the face by the squirming boy. "Damn you," he growled, and unceremoniously threw Ciel down again, his foot coming down and stomping on the boy's back.

Ciel cried out at the pain, disbelief warring with his panic. The man's foot dug sharply into his side as the man kicked him, and Ciel curled into a ball, trying to protect the vital organs. This forced the nightshirt to slide up, exposing his back and the brand that had been burned there during his time as a prisoner of a wicked cult.

"Oh? Look at that; the kid's got a slave brand." Ciel heard the words, but they hardly made sense anymore. His mind wasn't in the present right now; instead, it was remembering countless beatings from the past. He felt as if he was shattering, breaking into a million jagged shards. He had been less prepared for this than he thought.

Ciel was unaware of the man picking up his limp body and placing it onto a wooden altar. Chains were used to bind his arms and legs, and a knife was used to place very specific incisions on his body. One cut on each leg, between the ankle and the knee. Two slices on each arm, one just above the wrist, and the other above the elbow. Three horizontal gashes were carved across his chest, but Ciel hardly felt the pain, or the warm blood that trickled from the wounds.

He was aware, however, when power started to rise. He could feel the cold flames that indicated that a door to hell was being opened once more, and he wondered idly how it was that they managed to have enough power to perform a second summoning in a single day. A part of him realized that the death of the child they had been using may have provided enough power for one more attempt, but it was still very risky for his captors – one split second of hesitation, or a weakening of power, however brief, and it would be their lives that were forfeit.

Ciel opened his eyes wide, the sigil blazing. He could feel the demons – scores of them – moving closer. They were willing to be summoned if it meant they could taste the soul of one who reeked of demons and death already. After all, a human bound to a demon was even more delicious than most, because it meant that they had suffered doubly or triply what most sacrifices had.

"Sebastian, I'm right here!" Ciel croaked, his voice choked by the magic that lay heavy and thick around him. As they had before, when he had been caught off-guard and taken prisoner by the Viscount Druitt for his black market auction, the candles went out, and the room was plunged into utter blackness.

Several cries and thuds echoed throughout the room, along with a terrible, wet sound, but Ciel hardly cared; his attention had been caught by the demons that were still coming even though the ritual had been interrupted. No doubt some of those who had been performing the necessary magic had already died from the backlash of an incomplete dark spell.

Suddenly, Sebastian's presence was there, next to Ciel, and he found himself relaxing, only now realizing that he had been fighting the chains that bound him, not wanting to die at the hands of some pathetic, weak demon that came only because it smelled food. Sebastian hissed a warning at the approaching demons, and many of them stopped, uncertain. It appeared that the crow was significantly more powerful than many of them, even bound by a contract.

After that, it was a massacre. Hisses and screeches and screams echoed in the small chamber. At some point, the children must have heard what was going on in the room, because their cries started up again, and Ciel nearly cursed. Did they want to become demon food? Because they sure as hell were doing a good job at attracting the things.

Some of the demons managed to break away from Sebastian, and Ciel turned to glare at the demon. "Stop them! The children are to be rescued, not devoured by demons!" he snapped. Sebastian looked steadily at him for a moment, before turning and dashing off after the demons that had escaped him. It wouldn't take long, but they both knew that if Ciel's soul was at risk, he'd abandon the children, order or not. Ciel was his primary concern, not a bunch of faceless, unknown little pests.

Hands, claws, and wings brushed against Ciel's body as the demons crowded around him, and he shuddered. He had to give Sebastian some time to rescue the children. He glared at the one closest to him and said in the coldest voice he could muster, "I'm not food for the likes of you."

The demoness just smiled at him, showing sharp teeth as a long, forked tongue slithered out and lapped at one of the wounds on his chest. A snake demon, hm? "Don't worry, little boy. Demons respect contracts. We won't take your soul from him. But a little blood? Ah, that we have no problem with."

Ciel froze at this, and glanced at the demons crowding around him. Blood? They wanted his blood, but not his soul. Maybe he had time, then, enough to not need Sebastian just yet. He turned back up to stare at the snake demon and asked, "How much blood?" His voice was steady, his pride refusing to allow him to show fear.

The demon chuckled. "Why, as much as we can take, of course! Those foolish humans did such a good job of cutting you up, too," she purred, and Ciel shuddered as her tongue slid back out, licking higher up on his chest, where the first cut was. More claws and hands reached out to grab him, as if he'd try and escape despite the chains that bound him.

Ciel closed his eyes, shuddering as hands brushed across his wounds, jerking with pain now and again as a demon bit down, or reopened a wound that had slowed its bleeding. How disgusting. Not to mention humiliating. But if it would buy time, then he hardly cared if he had to offer up his body in exchange. It was nothing that hadn't been forced upon him before.

Suddenly, the presence of the demons was gone, and warm liquid splashed onto his body and across his face. The sharp tang of blood lay thickly in the air, and Ciel opened his eyes to stare at the lifeless body of the snake demon, her heart torn from her chest by a furious Sebastian. Ciel stared up at Sebastian, who wasn't looking at him, breaking the chains on his ankles and wrists easily.

Sebastian scooped Ciel up, still covered in blood, and turned to leave. Ciel saw the children huddled at the entrance to the room, but he couldn't bring himself to care. Let them walk away from here themselves, under their own power. He certainly wasn't going to carry them out.

"Are you all right, Bocchan?" Sebastian asked, and Ciel tilted his head back to glare tiredly at the demon. He felt wrung out, exhausted, and brittle, as if he'd bend and shatter at the slightest provocation. And now his demonic servant was asking him if he was okay?

"I'm fine," he muttered angrily, not sure if he was more irritated at Sebastian or at himself. The demon just chuckled and let it drop, and Ciel was grateful. He knew that Sebastian was just playing with him, seeing how far he could bend the young Earl before he broke completely. Ciel's only consolation was that Sebastian had to bend, too. And so Ciel would use Sebastian's strength to carry out the Queen's orders for Her happiness, and to obtain his revenge.

"You, only you. Don't ever leave my side. Ever," Ciel breathed, his words harsh. It was reminiscent of one other, unending order he had given to Sebastian. You, only you. Don't ever lie to me. Ever.

As Sebastian had said then, he replied now. "Of course, Bocchan. I am your loyal servant, after all." Ciel smiled; they might be bent and twisted, but together, they were strong. Closing his eyes, he relaxed against Sebastian, wrapped comfortably in a sheet and cradled in the butler's strong arms, feeling his steady heartbeat and finding reassurance in the soothing, gentle sound.

"That's right," he murmured in reply. "Because I'm yours, and you're mine. Be my breath, my strength, my eyes and ears, my right hand, and my vengeance. Can you do that?" he asked, already knowing the answer, but needing to hear it anyway.

Sebastian stopped abruptly, and set Ciel down on a tree stump. He bowed on one knee and replied, "Of course, Bocchan. After all, it is only natural for one who serves the Phantomhives to be able to do something like this." Ciel smiled down at Sebastian, at his demon, and reached out a small hand to press against his cheek.

"Good," he murmured. "That's what I needed to hear." Sebastian looked up, and their eyes locked, the contract burning like a bright flame between them. Sebastian stood once more, sweeping Ciel back up into his arms, and the boy closed his eyes, trusting the demon to get them home safely. The children were safe, free to go their own way, and the kidnappers had been destroyed. They would report their success to the Queen, and if there were anymore holdings out there, they'd go destroy them, too. Such obedience was both the duty of the Phantomhives, and the source of their pride. And Ciel would never forget that. Never.