Disclaimer: Before we begin, let's say the standard disclaimer! Gravitation doesn't belong to me and if I did… um. It probably wouldn't be as fun as it is now! Maki Murakami does and for that we're all
A/N: Don't murder me. I just had to get this one out. I have The Phantoms' Kanashi i Nikki no Mahoutsukai (which is neat, neat, neat) to thank for this - the more I read into it, the more my muses bugged me to write this wonderful not-so-little, obviously-series fic. I told myself I'd do it after finishing Yuki but you really can't do anything much when your muses, who happen to like sharp pointy objects, take one of the important characters from it, namely Yukito, hostage with a sharp little knifey. ^_^; So, I deliver Tamashii no Rufuran… the weird fic that people who have read one of my stories will recognize, without a doubt. : 3 I wonder if anyone will be able to guess which fic this is sequel for… hee… Anyway, still unedited and weird… I hope people don't murder me for this. >_< I hope people don't think I copied it off The Phantoms' great fic…(I really need to get a beta reader…)
Sketches for this one:
http : // www . angelfire . com/games4/white_crescent/_04-13-2_hiddenbeauty-sketch.jpg
http : // www . angelfire . com/games4/white_crescent/fated-siblings.jpg
http : // www . angelfire . com/games4/white_crescent/tainted-wings.jpg
And finally - .hack//SIGN's The World would be a good song to listen at some parts in this fic.
TAMASHII NO RUFURAN
Soft, blank eyes swept through the impenetrable darkness that enveloped his small form, suspended from the ground by thorny vines. The dull pain in his mid-section was keeping him awake, as it always did, thus denying his body of its much-needed rest for yet another night, or day. The endless night that he knew would stretch forever had long extinguished any hope in him of freedom and rest. He'd lost count of how many sleepless nights had passed him and had stopped wondering long ago when the world ceased to acknowledge his pitiful existence.
He closed his eyes, welcoming the different kind of darkness the action brought him, and allowed himself to wonder in futility, once more, when the torment would finally end. The loneliness was eating at him, boring holes into his already battered, and wounded soul and yet sparing just enough so he wouldn't break and fall into the clutches of insanity. There were times when he wished insanity would just overcome him, then all awareness of his current state would finally go, but he knew he was just too strong-willed, too optimistic, yes, even at times like this, to break. Life had always been like this to him. And if it was not the fathomless darkness to accompany it, it was… him. He wished for none of his entertainment, however well it did to quench his thirst for companionship.
A long streak of red rolled pass him, unraveling before his eyes and glowing in the hopeless darkness like a beacon. It was like a long line of fine silk and reminded him of the colorful garments the women in his kingdom wore on a bright summer day. His eyes widened when a streak of orange darted out of the darkness shortly after the red one did and began wrapping around his body, bringing comfort and almost-forgotten warmth to his weakened body. A streak of yellow followed shortly after then a green one and then a blue one and finally, a bright, soft purple one. But instead of wrapping around his body or dancing in circles and brushing against his almost numb flesh, the purple streak of light purposely came to rest in the palm of his right hand, which he'd stretched out by instinct.
A soft voice cut through the darkness in the form of a soft white light, tickling his ears and reminding him of how the sound of water rushing in a brook sounded like in spring, or how a laugh was, or how music was. He opened his mouth, wishing to join the voice with his, remembering the beats and tunes of the festive music they played during the Winter Festivals, or Month of Harvest.
Tears formed on the edges of his eyes and when he opened them, he was welcomed by the thick darkness that was always there and a boy with bright blue eyes and soft, reddish locks framing his heart-shaped face and falling over his eyes. The boy smiled at him before extending a pale hand forward, as if asking him to reach for his hand, to take his hand in his.
Blue eyes opened in a slow, lazy motion and the flaming skies that marked the ending of yet another day reflected on the thin layer of moisture that coated his eyes. For a long while, he stared at the horizon with wide unblinking eyes, unable to comprehend what was before him until it hit him that a few minutes ago it had been midday and it couldn't have gotten so late that fast. He sat up, lifting a hand from his side to run it through his soft, pink locks, and then lifted his other hand to his eyes, noticing with quiet wonder how a single blade of grass was stuck to his now damp and muddy hand.
He narrowed his eyes and stared hard at the blade of grass, concentrating on its green as if that would help him remember where he was. Or what he was doing wherever he was.
“Yuki, I think we're lost….”
He winced when a pain at the back of his eyes shot up and with much difficulty he rose on his own two feet then looked around. The sight that met him refused to register in his mind for a good long while.
“No problem! We can always call for the search party~!”
He took a hesitant step forward and then crouched down, examining the man who was lying face-first in front of him. With his mind in a jumbled mess, he tried to figure out who the man was and what he had in connection with him. He reached a hand forward to touch the damp, blonde hair on the man's head and felt a lock of it between his thumb and index finger.
“K-san, we're the lost people, not the ones looking! Besides, I don't think we'll get a signal here….”
Before he knew it, he had crawled on all fours to get an even closer look of the man, knowing deep down that if he somehow figured out and remembered who this man was then the rest would just come flooding back. He just felt so amazing disoriented, he declared to himself quietly when he slipped his fingers deeper into those soft blonde tresses and sighed.
“Sheesh. Calm down everyone… Shuichi, don't worry, we'll find a way back, somehow…. Where's Sakano anyway?”
The man stirred beneath his touch and he drew his hand back, wary of the movement his actions had caused. The man was waking up and he anticipated it, knowing very well that it would be a lot easier with someone to ask questions and receive answers from. That was, unless, the man had forgotten whatever else had happened before this, like him. He pouted and was about to stand up when a hand grabbed his retreating hand and pulled him down. Sharp golden eyes met with his blue ones and his breath caught.
“Shut up. Being noisy isn't going to get us anywhere.”
“Yuki!” Shuichi squealed before throwing his arms around Eiri, who had by then, managed to sit up. The romance novelist frowned at him 'affectionately' before running hand through his hair and then peeling the arms around his neck. “You're choking me, Shuichi.” Eiri told his lover quietly and Shuichi pulled away with an apologetic grin.
“Sorry, Yuki.” Shuichi whispered quietly and Eiri managed a genuine yet pained smile. Shuichi helped him up without being asked and giggled when the blonde muttered something about irritating headaches popping out at the most unfortunate time.
“Where are we?” The blonde novelist asked suddenly, his eyes suddenly filled with what could only be confusion when Shuichi looked up. The pink-haired vocalist followed his lover's gaze and found himself swept away by the view before them.
It was just then that he realized they were standing in a plateau and from there they had a bird's eye view of a wide stretch of land that could only belong in one's vivid imagination. There were forests, wide stretches of them in different hues of green on the land below, and cities, towns that looked like they were made of gold and silver as they seemed to shine in the setting sun's dying light. Shuichi took a step back and whipped his head around to give Eiri a look that easily told of his disbelief and confusion. This definitely was not Japan.
“Shuichi! Yuki! Good! You're awake!” The pink-haired vocalist snapped his head to the direction of the unmistakable voice and found their American manager running towards the two of them, waving his magnum around dangerously, with both Suguru and Hiro on tow. “K-K…san?” Shuichi blinked at K and was about to say something more when his best friend grabbed him by his wrists and began dragging him away, throwing Eiri a hasty order to just 'run' in the process.
“No time, Shuichi-just run. Fast.” Hiro told him in between pants and Shuichi gave him a firm nod even though he wasn't quite sure what was happening and why they were running like this. K said something about chasing people when his blonde lover demanded an explanation but Shuichi couldn't be sure because everything seemed to be happening so fast and his mind was reeling. They weren't in Japan anymore. Sakano wasn't with them and the cities they had seen couldn't have possibly belonged to the world they lived in.
“There they are-!” The repeated cries rang in Shuichi's ears and he wasn't sure why they sounded a lot louder but before he knew it he had unconsciously lifted both hands to cover his ears. The cries got closer, eventually drowning out the sound of rustling bushes as K led them deeper into the forest, tearing through undergrowth and low-lying branches. They ran in silence, not knowing the exact danger waiting them and knowing only that they needed to run. It wasn't even because K had ordered them to run - deep down, they knew they had to make an effort— it was just… there.
“Just run, you won't get anywhere.”
The oddly familiar voice prompted Shuichi to come into an abrupt halt and he whipped around, despite both Hiro and Eiri's protest, just in time to see oddly pale green colored gusts of winds rolling towards them. Shuichi let out a sharp gasp before being carried off his feet by the wind and he didn't have time to issue a word of warning, let alone see if it was just him the wind had carried off.
“They're mine, okay? Not yours - I found them first!” another voice cried, this time it undeniably belonged to a female, just as he felt his body hitting the soft, wet ground. Gritting his teeth and sure he had broken a bone or two, he cracked an eye open and noticed the two persons standing in front of him, clothed in odd and heavy-looking robes that reminded him of traditional Japanese clothes, before anything else. Masks that seemed to be made of both silver and gold and beads - seemingly hundreds of them, covered their faces and Shuichi couldn't tell anything about them except the fact that one of them seemed to have long red hair while the other…. black?
His eyelids felt oddly heavy and when he heard a cold, eerily familiar whisper at the back of his mind that beckoned for him to sleep, he complied without question.
“Shuichi! Dammit - Shuichi, wake up!”
It was his Yuki's voice, but it seemed so distant. Still, Shuichi pushed from the deep recesses of his mind to return to the waking reality. Slowly, he opened his eyes and an odd sense of déjà vu filled him, remembering how he had woken up, it seemed hours ago, the first time in this world, wherever it was. Maybe it all had been a dream and now, he was back in Japan.
The cold, damp floor, with the pieces of hay strewn all over it, that first met his eyes told Shuichi he wasn't back in Japan just yet. “Shuichi - look at me… Shuichi….” Eiri's voice was soft and hushed, almost pleading and Shuichi lifted his gaze up slowly and found his lover watching him from the other side of a set of bars. Fear gripped Shuichi's heart and he immediately got up from the floor with the sole intention of getting as close to his lover as humanly possible only to find himself held back by something. He looked at his sides in panic and found his wrists bound by iron clasps that were in turn, connected to the wall behind him by long, heavy rusted chain.
Not one to give up easily though, he still tried, wanting to see the how far he could go, hoping he could - at least - reach the bars to wrap his bare hands around them and to see just how big the distance between him and his lover was. His wrists hurt, the iron clasps seeming to tighten and burn the flesh underneath it.
“Shuichi. Stop.” When he didn't, the blonde novelist repeated his plead louder, “Idiot - stop it!”
“Yuki….” Shuichi whimpered and watched as his lover turned away from him.
“Don't… do that…again.” Eiri whispered carefully, taking deep breaths in between. “You'll be fine…”
Shuichi noticed the crack in his lover's voice and knew, more than anything, who needed who. Eiri needed him by his side; Shuichi knew that and the fact that the worry was getting to his lover.
“I'll be fine.” Shuichi confirmed, crawling back - away from the bars - and not once did his eyes leave his lover's. He managed a small smile and the two sat in silence, separated by iron bars and an empty aisle, and in peace until it was broken by the loud sound of footsteps echoing across the dungeon.
“The pink-haired one. Be careful around him - him and the brunette.”
The hushed whisper did not escape their ears as the silence projected it, making it seem ten times louder. Shuichi could only huddle closer to the wall in a final act of defiance when they came to his cell, casting an ominous shadow upon his form and blocking Eiri out of his eyesight.
They opened the door to his cell and stepped in one by one. There were three of them, all dressed in heavy robes that covered everything except their eyes. The one who had positioned himself directly in front of him before waving a hand around in silent order was considerably shorter than the other two who had positioned themselves on both sides of the room. Shuichi let out a loud cry of protest, which made Eiri stiffen visibly, when one of the men, after having removed the metal clasps that bound him to the wall, bound his hands together by an iron chain. Another placed a sack over his head. He heard the sound of keys jingling and then metal doors being pushed open, their rusted hinges squeaking, followed by outraged cries from whom he guessed was Suguru and Hiro respectively then he was dragged away without warning. It took a while for him to walk properly because of the chains connected to the iron rings they had somehow put on both of his feet.
“Take him away.” The voice definitely belonged to a woman and even if it were muffled by layers and layers of thick clothing, Shuichi was sure of it. Whoever was holding the iron chains that wrapped around his wrists, painfully making sure they made no unnecessary movements, and attached to the iron rings on both of his feet pulled at him and he almost fell forward, unable to see the action beforehand, and Eiri, who must have seen it, hissed loudly.
“Hurt him and I will make sure you pay.” Shuichi heard his lover and though their captors blatantly ignored the award-winning novelist's threat, he felt a little more relieved knowing he wasn't alone in this and that, above all, his Yuki cared.
“I'll be okay.” He whispered quietly and smiled, even though nobody could have seen that smile. He hoped Eiri heard.
The door opened and closed quietly, and the longhaired blonde paused in the middle of putting back a book on the Northern Kingdom's warring history into the shelf. He threw a pointed glare towards the direction
of the door before finally pushing the book into the shelf and breathing in sharply, so to keep in the venomous words that threatened to come out at any moment.
“I take it you're not here to consult the Royal Historian on Historical facts.” The man whispered quietly without turning around to see who had entered the Royal Library. He knew who it was – there were only so many people brave enough to enter the Library without proper reason and since, last he checked, the possibility of an outright war was nil, that left four people only. Three of those were either busy or out of town and that left just one…
The sound of footsteps followed by an amused, almost childish, laughter filled the deafening silence of the whole library. He knew there could only be one person in the whole Kingdom with that laugh and he happened to detest that man, the same way that man detested him.
“Never the entertainer, eh, Yuki Eiri?” His visitor said in a highly amused drawl. “Ah…. That's why your little brother made it into Performer status and you didn't.”
Yuki smiled, his lips curving into that malicious, sarcastic grin and said without a shred of humility, “Then, our Lord Tohma wouldn't have his beloved little librarian safe from the scarring battles now, would he?” He spun around, the tail of his long, obsidian black coat swirling about his form like liquid. Golden eyes fell onto the man standing at the other end of the aisle with cold indifference. “Hn?”
The other man made no movement – the Historian noticed nothing with his limited eyesight in comparison with the veteran Performer-turned-Scientist’s inhuman eyesight.
“You should come to the hall.” The Performer said quietly with a hint of bitterness before spinning around and turning his back on the Historian. “The least you can do for him is that.”
Yuki watched with an expressionless face as the man stepped out of the room, carefully closing the door behind him this time instead of slamming it as had become normal. He stared long and hard at the door after that, unmoving and rooted to the ground, his rival's final words oddly repeating in his mind over and over again until it sounded like someone was saying it repeatedly just to mock him. The least you can do for him is that.
It was obvious whom he meant by 'him' in his last statement but what bothered him to no end was why it would be for 'him'. After much thinking, he finally moved. His fingers twitched and he lifted a hand up, examining it before looking up and to the door ahead then taking one small yet somehow significant step forward.
It wouldn't hurt to see, whatever it was. The Royal Historian was, for the first time in three years, going to attend a public function that would require him to mingle with the people of his Kingdom. When he reached the door, he stopped and pushed the strands of blonde hair falling over his eyes back before finally placing a hand over the cold, bronze knob of the door and turning it so slowly he could almost hear the gears working.
The door opened and when he stepped out he took in a deep breath, wondering how long it had been since he last stepped out of the Royal Library without 'work' and 'going back to quarters' in mind. Golden eyes narrowed as they focused on the hallway in front of him and the T-junction ahead. The hallway to the right would lead to the Grand Hall, where he knew his rival wanted him to go.
“Damn.” He grunted as he dug his hands into his pockets, eyebrows furrowing as his slender fingers searched for the pack of cigarettes he knew he had put in there earlier that morning. All this unnecessary thinking was really getting to his nerves and he cursed quietly again when he remembered he had set the pack on his study while working on a manuscript or two. Somehow, along the way, the thought of returning the pack to his pocket had never crossed his mind, until now that is. “Damn that Performer.” He hissed as he dug both of his hands into his coat's pockets and quickened his pace.
When he reached one of the side-entrances to the Grand Hall, he was stopped by one of the guards upon entering and made to wait until they had his personally-handcrafted mask, made of bronze with crystalline-white diamonds encrusted and intricate markings carved on it, delivered to him. Thinking about how traditions should be damned, he put the mask on grudgingly wondering why they even bothered to bring demon prisoners in the presence of the King when they were just going to have everyone masked. He just found it so utterly unnecessary to have demons paraded in front of the people like that and it was just an added nuisance, having to put on a mask that is. If it were up to him, he'd just waltz into the hall without a mask. Demons didn't scare him, nothing ever did faze the infamous Royal Historian who gave everyone the impression he wasn't just your ordinary bookworm. For all he cared, they could burn his face into their brains and stalk and try to murder him for the rest of his miserable life. Of course, it was also fact that their dear Lord Tohma would never let anything touch him…
He tied the ribbons that would hold his mask in place securely to satisfy the guards stationed to the door and then walked into the Grand Hall in quietly, wanting nothing more but to blend into the crowd and be forgotten.
The Grand Hall was filled with people whose faces were, just like his was, covered with their own distinctive masks. No two masks were the same - the patterns carved on each and every one, the number, the type of jewels, beads, other exotic ornaments that adorned them were all different, each defining the person they hid from the world. Yuki examined the men and women that chattered about and wondered what drove them to come to the Grand Hall whenever summoned just to see captured minions from the other side. Was it to help convince themselves that they were not fighting a losing war with the unknown darkness that ate away a bit more of their lands, their towns and their cities with each and passing day? To mock their enemies and further the disillusionment they all were drowning in?
“Even Tohma isn't that bad.” He found himself whispering quietly to himself as he pushed through the crowd, ignoring the tiny squeals and gasps from those who recognized his mask. He made his way until he was very close to the aisle and then stopped, not wanting to go further and be noticed by his brother-in-law, or his sister, or his rival. At the thought of the Performer he disliked having to refer to by name, he found himself suddenly wondering about the brunette's current whereabouts. He turned to the direction of the throne and the empty space beside the King's seat answered his suspicions, one of them at least. For one, the Scientist wasn't in the Grand Hall. 'The hypocrite.' He thought quietly as he tore his gaze away from the thrones again and looked around, wondering what everyone seemed to be waiting for.
The huge, oak double-door that stood north of the thrones burst open, the loud booming sound prompting the Royal Historian to turn to its direction. He ran a hand through his hair and he watched in quiet wonder as Rage, the Fire Elemental Pillar of the West, walked in brusquely into the hall. The fiery-red mask on her face, encrusted by rubies and with flaring red feathers that bounced and danced in the wind created as she moved, hid her face and whatever emotion showed on her face but he felt tension. That and something he could name hit him when she passed by him. Practiced Empathy was useful at times like this, for a Historian especially whose job relied on finding the relative truth for the books that would tell the generations of tomorrow what happened in years past.
Following the fiery Pillar were two soldiers who dragged along two prisoners in a rather inhuman fashion. He corrected himself for branding their method 'inhuman', remembering what demons did to prisoners from their side. 'Inhuman' was an understatement for what they did to his people. Chains bound the prisoners and a sack was placed above their heads to cover their faces and though that prevented Yuki from knowing anything about one of the prisoners (except for the fact that he was dressed very oddly) the other he knew had brown hair - long brown hair at that. They were forced to kneel down several feet away from the steps that led up to the elevated thrones.
“The Wind Pillar and I captured a total of five demons today.” Rage's unmistakable voice sounded in the hall and the glee barely noticeable in it did not elude Yuki. At twenty-one, Rage was known to go all out with her Pillar duties. Rumors had it that she had lost a loved one or two to demons and now derived pleasure in extracting revenge from the demons that crossed her path. Of course, Yuki knew better, knowing a lot more than many people about Rage's family background. However it was, out of the seven
Performers who had come and gone after the Western Prince, Taki's disappearance, Rage proved her worth. Having survived time and time again, she had convinced people she was not just a mere substitute to the missing prince but a complete and permanent replacement.
“-two of them. Shapeshifters.” Yuki caught the words in the middle of his musings and turned his attention to whatever Rage was about to do. Shapeshifters - why had his rival asked for his presence then?
Moreover made it seem like he was going to do…
Shapeshifters were uncommon but they were not non-existent. There was nothing spectacular about them either, and this one had to be no different… unless….
“They've taken on impossible forms.” Rage went on almost ominously. “Forms they shouldn't have gotten…. Unless there's a spy… or was amongst us, Highness.”
He watched as their Lord rose from his throne and took a step forward. His voice was quiet, questioning but as usual it did not lack the authority that had always been present within it. “Impossible forms?” Tohma questioned and Yuki imagined the arched eyebrow behind that mask.
Rage nodded and Noriko, who had been standing in her usual spot beside the Queen's throne all along, took a step forward. “…This was the disturbance a few hours ago, right?” Rage nodded again in confirmation before spinning around and walking towards one of her prisoners. She positioned herself in front of the one with long-brown hair and took a handful of the sack over his head.
“See.” She said quietly before yanking the sack away.
Yuki found his breath knocked out of his lungs when the prisoner's face was revealed. Long brown hair cascading down shoulders, chocolate-brown eyes - it was virtually impossible for him to forget that face, not when he was Shu-
Collective gasps filled the hall and Rage wasted no time to unveil the other one. Yuki didn't need to see any more when he saw pink. He pushed through the crowd and made his way towards them, not sure of what he wanted to do, but sure he wanted to get a closer look of this.
He weighed the pros and cons of tearing the mask from his face and after a few moments of inner conflict, he tore and threw it away before positioning himself behind the impostor.
“How dare you.” He growled and reached to grab the impostor by the collar. He was only vaguely aware of the cry that had escaped the other impostor's lips, the lack of long, magenta-colored hair flowing down the boy's back and his own arms and eyes underneath that fringe that were like polished amethysts.
Behind him, there was a loud gunshot. And when he opened his mouth to say something, the words that escaped his lips were not what he had intended to say, at all;
“Get your fucking hands off him!”
End Chapter One.
A/N: Editing went well enough – so much errors. *sighs* This time I’m gonna work on Yuki 15….