Disclaimer: I don't own Makai Ouji.
Pairings: Heavily implied Baalberith x Sytry, slight Dantalion x William, slight Kevin x William and mentions of "canon" and one-sided pairings. Probably more to come.
Warnings: Violence, fantasy violence, implied sexuality, dialogue. Borrows details from both the anime and manga. Creative license for lesser known details/mythologies. Read in a "reader" supported browser if you can.
Sunsets were lovely, Sytry decided, a perfect gushing of colors and soft shapes, blending and swirling together in a conflagration of vibrance and light. Almost as lovely as toffy.
Hell didn't have sunsets. It was night most of the time, a foreboding, blood red moon hanging high in the just as foreboding darkness. Of course, it was day sometimes, but it was never issued in with a sunrise. Day just sort of happened, as if the collective consciousness of all the demons in Hell wanted to see something other than black and red hues for once.
He stood on one of the many bridges that connected to the school, his tin of cookies balancing precariously on the handrails. The river, too, was dyed in the vibrant colors of dusk, the ruddy pastels obscuring murky depths. He reached into the tin but was only met with the cold apathy of metal and crumbs.
He caught himself before he called for Leonard. How long before he was elected and could permanently return to Hell? How long before he stopped having to be confined by human rules and William's whims? He shook the idea out of his head.
The human world had its perks. Admirers, and cookies and sunsets, especially cookies. Not that Hell didn't have cookies, but the cookies here had their own peculiar taste. Not ambrosial but not mundane. Just a perfect mix of buttery softness and delicate sweetness. And, of course, here he didn't...
The voice broke him out of his concentration. He jerked—sending the empty cookie tin into the sunset-colored waters below—and turned to see Isaac rushing towards him.
"Sytry! There you are. William was worried when you didn't show up to dinner."
"Worried? About me?"
"Well, maybe worried isn't the best word. More like, this is gonna reflect badly on me if one of the underclassman isn't here. But more importantly, is there something wrong? I mean, like I was saying, you missed dinner."
Isaac's face was red and puffy, like he had been running for more than he probably did on most days. He reminded Sytry of those small imp-like demons always skittering around in the larger cities in Hell. They were low-leveled, useless things but they had a certain rotund cuteness to them. He had even considered keeping one as a pet, once.
Sytry smiled, a curt, sweet smile. "Nothing's wrong. I simply forgot. You humans live such structured lives, afterall." He hadn't meant to take that particular jab at humanity, it had simply slipped. A lot of things had been slipping recently.
"I managed to save you a dinner roll or two if you were still hungry." Isaac offered him the bread.
Humans were all very strange, Sytry thought. They thought a demon would starve to death if he didn't have two dinner rolls before bed.
"How thoughtful of you."
He took the bread and bit into it. His mouth instantly went dry, the utter tastelessness sucking out the taste of cookies and sugar and goodness. He swallowed politely and tucked the rest of the biscuits away, intent on burning them when Isaac wasn't looking.
"I'll be heading back now."
He spared one last thought to the cookie tin, now basking in the murk at the bottom of the river, and headed to his dormitory. Surely, there were better things to think about than sunsets and cookie tins and dinner rolls for the future interment ruler of Hell.
Sytry's bed was a thin mattress on a wire frame pushed up against the window. It's only redeeming attribute was that it housed a menagerie of cookie tins and sweets underneath it.
In Hell, he didn't have a bed, let alone a bedroom. His long slumbers were conducted in a vault underground. Of course, there were many beds in the castle—luxurious ones of the most exquisite silks with pillows stuffed with the finest down—but those beds weren't used for sleeping and none of them were his own.
Isaac had followed him to his room and Sytry marveled at the shorter boy's complete inability to be shrugged off. More than that, the complete inability to take even the slightest of hints. Perhaps that was why he was still in the lower fifth year.
For now, the boy idled at his side, just close enough for discomfort, but not quite close enough for Sytry to have any good reason to dismiss him.
"What do demons dream of?" Isaac asked. "Ooh, lemme guess: skulls and blood and bones and—"
"What do humans dream of?" Was Sytry's level retort.
He wasn't expecting a reply, but Isaac launched into one anyway. "Well, just last week I had a dream about standing in a wasteland of skulls. The ground itself was bloody and the—"
"How morbid." Sytry plopped down on the bed. He could feel the wiry frame dig into his back, sharp claws that had shorn and rent and torn and left only bloody, gaping holes.
"—bones had rotting flesh on them. It was very freaky, but it was kinda cool too. But anyway, what do demons dream about? What do you dream about?"
Isaac's eyes bore into him, hopelessly big and annoyingly wide. For a second, it was more uncomfortable for Sytry than metal wires.
"Sugar plums and fairies and gumdrops." His tone was even as he rolled on his side and hid his face in the pillow.
"How boring." He heard Isaac sigh. "Maybe I should ask Dantalion."
"Don't ask him, that stupid nephilim has no brain to dream with."
"Ah, maybe you're right." Sytry could imagine Isaac putting a finger to his cheek and scratching it a little. "Actually, I'd be a little afraid to ask him. I mean, what do you think a guy like that would answer with. He'd probably tell me lies anyway."
"He is a demon, after all."
Sytry waited for the tell-tale sound of foot steps that accompanied Isaac's leaving, but was disappointed by the silence. Even worse, he felt his mattress sink down a little further somewhere near his feet. Isaac had invited himself to sit down on his bed.
"I mean, I've always dreamed of stuff like this", Isaac continued, "summoning demons and the supernatural. Now that's it's finally happening all around me, I can't help but just stare and do nothing. I know you're all here for William and not me, but well... I just, I have so many questions."
Sytry curled up, determined to secure a space on the bed of his own. He did not understand human curiosity and incessant questions very well. He also did not understand why Isaac was bothering the former and the latter.
"But it's strange. I usually don't think of you guys as demons. To me you're just my classmates, until you're shooting beams of light from thin air. But most of the time I just think of you as humans."
Sytry internally gagged. Being compared to a human was the lowest form of insult that a demon could throw at another, and here he was, a candidate to rule Hell, being unintentionally insulted by a clueless mortal.
"Shall I peel your flesh off, piece by tender piece, to convince you of how un-human I really am?" Sytry muttered, his lips nearly touching his knees.
"Uh, please don't, unless I get to live after it. I've always wondered how I'd look with all my skin taken off."
"Don't worry. I'm not going to do it anyway. It would be too messy and William would hate me for it."
Isaac laughed. "He'd probably confiscate all your cookies and keep a close watch on your fan club to see that you didn't get anymore."
"Now that would be true Hell." Sytry stretched. Speaking of Hell, he hadn't heard any news recently. Perhaps nothing was going on, yet such long lulls were incredibly rare for him.
He kicked Isaac with his shin.
"Why are you on my bed? You have your own, don't you? And for that matter, what do you want with me in the first place?"
"I thought we were becoming friends, is all." It was a shy reply, the sort of reply Sytry used when he was trying to convert one more member into his fanclub. Such a tone coming from Isaac, it just felt wrong, more than wrong, it felt truthful.
"I regret to inform you that I don't make friends." He flung around, so fast that Isaac nearly jumped off the bed in confusion.
"Now off. I might not tear your flesh off, but I can do other things that are equally as unpleasant and less messy."
"Yikes!" Isaac backed off. Sytry waited for Isaac's final retreat to his own room, but the boy just stood there, staring slightly passed him, his mouth hanging open. Sytry turned to follow his gaze.
"Oh, this is a piece of sensaaaaaational gossip!" Gilles de Rais had materialized on the other side of his window.
"What's going on?" Sytry rose, unlocking the window and letting Rais in.
"Oh, I shouldn't, I shouldn't ruin it." Rais bowed his legs and held his hands to his cheeks. It was the very imitation of the Grand Duchesses' daughter whenever she saw Dantalion, all blushes and fidgets and frenzies.
Sytry stood to face him. "Does my uncle want something?"
At this, Rais smile faltered, descending into a smirk, and his hands retreated to his hips. A dark shadow ran across his eyes. "Well, that's the thing. He won't be wanting anything from you anymore."
"What are you talking about?" Sytry felt his heart beat faster. A million thoughts rushing through his head, all of them horrible.
"You've been replaced, my dear Sytry" declared under rampant giggles. "You've been replaced!"
Gilles de Rais' laughter still clung to him as Sytry passed the colonnade to his uncle's castle. His heels smacked against the marble floor, a loud, angry sound that announced both his presence and his mood.
Leonard stood at the door, a look of sympathy vaguely perceptible on his wethered face.
"Where's my uncle?" It was quick and sharp and rigid.
"In the throne room." The sheep bowed, unperturbed, guessing the gravity of the situation.
Sytry rushed to the the room, not caring how much of a commotion he
His uncle sat on his throne, Eligos curled around him. She was tittering some nonsense in his ear.
For Sytry, the scene brought back memories from his previous conversation with Rais.
"Replaced?" He had stood there, not quite believing.
"Oh yes. Lord Baalberith has announced his new candidate, Eligos. He stole her away from Beelzebuth, no doubt! It caused quite the scandal. Now, now. I really must know what you did to piss him off so much."
Sytry glared at him, and Gilles, with the slightest of movements, backed away. "What else do you know?"
"Unfortunately, only that the other three kings have already been informed of the decision. Lord Baalberith's move has stunned all of them, which may give our faction an edge."
Sytry was finding it hard to stand, his vision darkening ever so slightly. He felt like crushing something. Anything. The next thing that moved.
"Sytry?" He had forgotten that Isaac was still in the room. Slowly, like a metal box sinking in water, his anger subsided.
"I have to speak with him," he said before crafting the magic circle and going down to Hell.
His uncle had yet to notice him, whispering something too quiet to hear (the tone he had only ever used with him) to Eligos. She giggled and jittered, her coquettish laughter turning Sytry's stomach.
The pair finally turned towards him.
"So you've heard," Baalberith faced him, smiling pleasantly. He was in an exceptionally good mood. Too good a mood. "Have you come to pay homage to the new future ruler of Hell?"
"Why?" Sytry whispered. He doubted his uncle could hear him from all the way across the room, his voice weak and breaking.
"Why? But why not? Eligos has always been capable. She has carried out her duties with efficiency and precision. Now, doesn't she deserve to rule Hell? That's why I couldn't stand to see her in Camio's shadow any longer. Someone like her deserves to be the center of attention. Now, what have you done recently other than play with the Elector in the human world?"
"I did it on your orders."
"It's disgusting, how much you fawn over him." Now, this was the uncle he knew, that low guttural voice ever so perceptive. Always knowing so much more than Sytry himself. "Tell me, Sytry, would a good leader of Hell be at the beck and call of a human being?"
"No, of course not. I'm simply securing his vote."
"And what a terrible job you've done so far. Between Camio and Astaroth's nephilim, you're the least likely to get it. The Elector admires Camio and has grown fond of Dantalion, but you... He sees you as nothing more than a subordinate—"
"He sees me as more than that."
"—something that can be ordered at his whim—"
"William doesn't think that!"
"—to do any task, no matter how menial or petty." Baalberith's eyes had glazed over. All traces of his former good humor had vanished. "Oh yes. I know how you are in the human world. Always at the mercy of others. That priest practically killed you and don't make me begin on those human children that crowd around you, always getting your little favors in exchange for repulsive human food. You are a disgrace to your lineage!"
"No, you're..." Sytry felt his knees grow weak and he gave in. The feel of the floor, the cold, unyielding floor was familiar to him. How many times had he kneeled on it? Laid on it? Felt its icy impenetrability grind against his spine?
"Ah, now that's a good pose for you, Sytry. Pledge your loyalty to me and the future ruler of Hell. Submit to me and me alone."
"Never." He barely whispered it.
"I am the future ruler of Hell, not her!" He faced his uncle and hoped his eyes showed whatever remnants of pride he had left.
Baalberith chuckled and slouched, putting his forearms on his knees and interlocking his fingers together. "You would like it if I came over there, wouldn't you, Sytry? You would like it if I held you down and told you how naughty you're being."
Meanwhile, Eligos silently observed, seated on the arm of the chair, absent-mindeldly twirling her hair in her fingers. Her look was one of pure detachment. The first rule of Hell: don't intrude on others' affairs.
"I can see it," Baalberith continued. "How much you must want me to hold you. It's been so long, especially for you. I bet your body's screaming for it."
Sytry remained silent, looking straight ahead.
"Pledge your loyalty and I'll come over there, Sytry. I'll hold you and make you forget about all this."
"No." Sytry kept his voice even.
"I'll give you one last chance." His uncle slouched further, his eyes boring into him. "Pledge or I will not be merciful."
"You never were," Sytry spat, poison dripping from his lips. "I refuse."
Baalberith leaned back, his hat falling over his eyes. "Too bad," his rough and rasping voice filled the room and Sytry's ears. It crawled under his skin and into his bones. "I was growing tired of this doll, but I thought it still had its merits. I guess I was mistaken." He turned to Eligos. "Get it out of here. I grow bored just looking at it."
Her eyes shined, dangerous and sharp diamond patterns. "With pleasure." She jumped from the throne in an elegant arc and made her way straight for Sytry, sending out a beam that hit him faster than he was expecting. He hit the floor, breathing hard.
Another beam came for him just seconds after he opened his eyes, and he rolled over just in time to see it make a sharp impact into the floor.
"Uncle! Stop this!" Sytry called.
The dust from the fight was obscuring the room. His uncle was only an outline now.
"How impudent! Trash like you addressing my master!" Eligos was quick. She lunged at Sytry and barely missed as he finally rose to his feet.
"Uncle!" he called again, only narrowly missing another jab. He sparred with her for a few moments, being sure to block or avoid whatever she threw at him. But she was good, always knowing when to pull back and when to dig in.
Sytry knew that he had to run towards the throne. Then he could sort out whatever mess his uncle had created. There was still hope.
He waited for her to come at him again and, when she did, he dodged the blow at the last second, sending her crashing into a wall. Now was his chance. He made a dash for the end of the room, avoiding the debris their battle had made. His pace quickened when he saw the throne—the throne—just the throne. His uncle wasn't there.
Sytry stopped dead in his tracks. Baalberith hadn't stayed to watch. As if the outcome did not concern him. As if he already knew how it would end.
I grow bored just looking at it.
Sytry knew she was coming, but he didn't turn around. A crushing force had shackled him to the floor. It perforated his mind, left only holes—bloody, gaping holes—where his hope should have been.
Sytry knew she was behind him, but he didn't turn to face her. How many years, centuries, had he stood in this same, exact place? How many times had his uncle whispered to him, his gloved hand cupping his cheek, that he was his favorite, the favorite, his favorite doll? How long had it been since he had fallen here, because of him—because of him.
He knew what she would do next, and he accepted it. His last thought, before he hit the cold, unyielding floor, was that he could no longer remember the years, the times, how long it had been, and how long it had been since he had seen her face.