Sweet Dreams

Chapter 3: Lost in a Wilderness

© 2006 by Pyrite aka Jessi Duffour

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I jolted in surprise as a strong warm hand was gently placed on my shoulder. As I swallowed my heart, which had unaccountably leapt into my throat, I listened to his voice, soft and low by my ear. My every nerve was on fire. (Whether it was from excitement or his proximity, I couldn't really tell. It was probably both). His voice flowed over my skin, like cool water, his words striking me to the core.

"I choose Pyrite, My Queen."

Deathly silence filled the great hall. Queen Beryl stared at me with an impassive composure, giving no hint to her thoughts. Just when I began to shift from surprise to panic, a sudden smile appeared on her crafty features.

"An excellent choice, Kunzite! Let it be known that Pyrite is now the student to Lord Kunzite, with my Royal Dark Blessings." A wave of dark power flew from her crystal orb to surround me. I felt a freezing chill bite me to the bones and soul. Just as quickly it receded, leaving behind a new sense of...awareness...that had been "awakened".

I let out a sigh of relief as a deafening cheer roared from the crowd of Youma. I did it!!! I smiled, success sparkled through my body like fine wine, leaving me light headed and giddy.

"You are bold to stand up to Jade. Commendable, but just be careful." His quiet words flowed hot against my ear. Uneasiness began to take root.

"Wh-What are you talking about?" I tentatively asked, unsure of my victory.

SNAP!!! Jade, furious beyond comprehension, whirled around and glared at the assembled Youma, her whip crackling with energy and switching like an enraged tiger's tail. The silence was deafening. Terrific. No support there.

"Pyrite." The Queen's voice cut my mounting despair short. I turned to her.

"Um, yes, My Queen?" I fumbled over the title.

" I wish to speak with you and Lord Kunzite later in order to discuss certain policies and...procedures...that are necessary in order for you to become a general. I will summon you at that time. Until then, you should become better acquainted with your mentor. You will also be given new quarters closer to his." She then turned to the man standing behind me. "Kunzite."

"Yes my Queen?"

"You will clean out the previous General's quarters and obtain anything that Pyrite requires."

I felt him flinch in pain. Oooh, low blow. That was way too harsh .

"Show him the training area; you are free to begin weapon and Dark Power training tomorrow if you so wish. Oh, and one more thing. Do not mess this one up as you had the last! That is all."

At that she stood up, regal and tall, raising her staff high above her head. The crystal orb glowed a white hot blue, fire and ice magically blended into one blazing ball. I puzzled over the power that I felt emanating from it, throbbing through unseen channels, both reaching out and pushing away. Something like the raging sea. Wow! What the Hell was THAT?!! Unused to feeling such senses, I blinked several times, my eyes wide, trying my very best to cope with something so totally alien in such a devastatingly unusual environment. In a clear voice that reverberated from the unseen walls, Beryl spoke to the mass assembled before her, her horrid court.

"My word is Law, and any who disagree shall face my wrath! That is all, you are dismissed." And in a swirl of dark energy, she was gone, sinking through the floor as if it were water. That lady gives me the creeps! I shivered as a chill caught my soul. The assembled Youma began to talk and mutter excitedly amongst themselves, but quieted immediately as a voice rang out.

"This isn't over yet!"

I groaned, irritated . I'm sick of this! Doesn't she ever give up?

*Ha, you wish!* Caught off guard, I mentally stumbled.

Huh? What the... Will you stop doing that!!!

*Doing what?* The voice was feigning innocence a little too thickly.

Hey, you know very well "what". Popping into my mind like that! It bugs the heck out of me when you do that.

*I apologize. You will get used to it, though, in time.* The voice trickled away again in a light chuckle.

"I ALWAYS get what I want." Jade was striding slowly towards me, her eyes fiery against her pale features. I was getting pretty much fed up with her, my irritation rising to match her own anger. Exasperated, I turned towards her.

"And what the hell DO you want anyway?!!" I snapped, not fazed in the least in the face of her rage. Taken aback, she looked intently at me, as if for the first time.

"Ho, ho, ho, ho! You have courage, Little General! Intriguing. You do not fear my anger."

I snorted. "Anger is a weapon that can be beneficial to an opponent. " I shrugged and feigned a smile. "Some people just don't know that."

Fingering her whip, she stared at me thoughtfully. Suddenly her eyes brightened and a sly grin slithered across her lips. My blood ran icy through my veins as she smiled at me, her mood changing abruptly. It was cold, pure evil; seductive and damning at the same time. I was totally at a loss as to how I was going to deal with this sudden change in the situation. Of all of the things, violence, anger, hatred, enmity, envy, I could handle those. But THIS I was at a total loss to fight.

*Don't panic. That exactly what she wants you to do.* For once I was actually glad for another impromptu visit by the voice.

So what should I do? Can she see through my disguise?

*No, your disguise is better than you think. Far more effective than you had hoped. She is merely testing you out, probing for your weaknesses so that she may exploit you.* The cold, efficient way that this was spoken shook me to the core. The voice paused and then spoke in a softer tone.

*Jade, is relentless, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. In order to stand against her, you must be strong and never show fear or weakness. Try to stay calm.*

So in other words, don't give up.

*Yes.* Strangely enough, these words bolstered my confidence. And for the first time since I had arrived in this weird place, I was grateful for the voice. I also realized I was becoming a little homesick.

Okay, I'll try that. Oh, and by the way...Thanks. The voice hesitated. Then it mumbled, as if it were unused to receiving gratitude. *You are welcome.*

This conversation passed lightning quick through my mind, no more than a second of time. Calming my uneasiness, I warily watched as Jade slinked up to me. As she neared uncomfortably close to me, I tensed my muscles, repulsed utterly. I was considerably surprised when the hand on my shoulder tightened in warning. Oh, I forgot that he was there! His hand was reassuring, calming, it enabled me to think more clearly and to ease my anger somewhat.

Jade reached forward to touch my face, but I irritably swatted her hand away, glaring. Kunzite's grip constricted to the point where it was painful. I clenched my jaws to keep from gasping out loud. This guy is really strong. Mental Note: Don't make him angry!

Suddenly, Jade laughed and turned to leave, but she stopped at the edge of the watching sea of Youma and looked over her shoulder at me.

"This isn't over yet, not by a long shot." She gave me THAT smile again. Her green eyes held a glimmer of vermilion in their depths. "You will be seeing more of me, make no mistake about that, Little General." She then gave me a lewd wink and with a lusty laugh, she swaggered out of the great chamber, the vast sea of Youma parting before her and following silently in her wake. If only you knew, lady, if only you knew! I was aggravated by the many sympathetic glances covertly sent my way. It didn't take an intellectual leap to figure out that Jade was going to be trouble. Big trouble.

I was furious! Some of that was, in truth, out of fear. I think I liked it better when she was simply angry at me. But it was mostly out of embarrassment. She made a complete fool out of me in front of all those people. Now EVERYONE in this whole stinking place knows that she is going to be chasing me around until I give in. Which will be never.

I cheered drastically as a thought dawned on me. She thinks I'm a boy! She doesn't have a clue that I'm a girl. When she finds out...no when everyone finds out...all hell is gonna break loose. If the shock doesn't kill her, the embarrassment probably will. This is too delicious!....I'm going to have to wait a little while longer if this going to work really effectively. Spirits restored, I allowed my self a soft chuckle and a sly little grin.

"What do you find so amusing, student?"

I yelped and whirled in alarm at the sound of his cool voice. Kunzite stepped back, startled at my sudden movement.

"Baka! You should be constantly aware of your surroundings! If you wish to survive, your wits must be sharp as thorns, else it will be you whom bleeds."

"I looked down remorsefully at the ground. "Yes, Sir."

"You will address me as "Lord Kunzite." His hard cold voice echoed throughout the empty chamber, drilling the order into my head. My face was burning in embarrassment, I gulped guiltily.

"Oh, I'm sorry! Please forgive me...Lord Kunzite." I looked up at him sheepishly through my bangs.

"Hmmm." He fingered his sharp chin while he looked at me thoughtfully. I began to feel extremely agitated under his intense icy gaze. I nervously began to fidget with a lock of my hair as he paced around me, his hands clasped behind his back, his cape and lustrous hair billowing gently with every graceful move he made. His even footsteps echoed hollowly, harshly, throughout the hall, making the silence more deep, enveloping, constraining. I felt like a horse being appraised at an auction. Or a wounded deer being circled by a hungry wolf. I could hear him behind me, feel his eyes boring into my back. His penetrating gaze pierced though me, rending me of clothing, flesh and bone, laying bare my tender soul. He was trying to intimidate me, and doing a damn fine job of it. My hands were cold and clammy, all of the blood having rushed to my head. In the viscous silence my pulse thundered in my ears, keeping a fast tempo to his even footsteps. I was afraid. Very much afraid. My stiff grip on my lock of hair pulled painfully, but it was the only thing keeping me from screaming, running, or both. I clenched my other hand tightly, the supple fabric of the gloves preventing my sharp nails from biting deeply into my palms. As he eventually came around to stand before me, I forced myself, dared with all of my might, to look up at him directly in the eyes. They were flat, cold like the ice of a frozen pond. For a brief instant I saw a fire burn in their arctic depths, a flicker of emotion, a semblance of warmth. Then they hardened.

Suddenly his hand shot across and smacked mine from my lock of hair. I was startled, totally astounded by his lightning fast speed and in my surprise, I could not move, could not resist as he grabbed me by the collar and effortlessly hoisted me into the air. I looked down the length of his arm to his cold, cold eyes. Did he see through my disguise?!! I felt entirely helpless there hanging with my boots dangling a couple of feet above the ground. Also his grip was slowly smothering me, cutting off my air supply. Reaction finally kicked in and I struggled furiously to break his viselike grip, but it was too little, too late. Actually, it would have been too little at any time. The asphyxiation was tiring me out rapidly, my muscles burning, my fingers numbing, my mind a collection of fuzzy thoughts incoherent at best. My vision blurred and began to slide away as I feebly struggled to break his iron grip. My pulse pounding in my ears began to slow down and throb even louder as I searched desperately for the "release spot" on his wrist that would break his hold on me. With a small curse, he grabbed both of my wrists with his free hand. It was then that I hazily realized that he had been holding me aloft with only ONE hand. My body was no longer screaming for air, it was too weak. Darkness was quickly taking over, driving consciousness into unknown depths. I bit my lip, the pain forcing me back into the light somewhat, the taste of blood bringing a little adrenaline to strengthen my muscles. I continued to struggle weakly.

"Stop fighting me." His chill voice sliced through my dimming senses like a sliver of ice. I reluctantly complied as my mind began to spiraled into inky blackness. I fought to keep my eyes open. Eyes that could see nothing but a black haze. Alas I had nothing left to go on. I could dimly hear his voice, as if it were unreal, far away. My heart beat faintly, slowly. I could no longer feel the pain.

"You are weak."

I suddenly felt myself plummeting, falling for all eternity. I then crashed against something hard, unforgiving, jarring the very last of my air from my lungs. I coughed and choked, trying to relearn how to breathe. Pain thundered through my head as I gasped like a fish. My head swam, thoughts chaotically jumbled by my slowly returning awareness and senses. My burning face was pressed upon the cold hard floor, my breath fogging against it's high sheen surface. Unbidden tears coursed hot down my cheeks. I could vaguely hear a voice, faint as a dream. I could hardly hear it over the rushing of blood through my veins and the sound of my breathing.

"You are nothing but a weak little pansy."

My eyes flared open. That's IT! Enough is enough... I was leagues passed upset. I was far beyond angry. I was pissed. My rage flared. I tasted the blood on my lips. My blood. I sensed him stalking around me again.

"Your weakness sickens me, boy." I cheered a bit as I realized that he hadn't seen through my disguise. "You are defenseless, boy. Soft. Hardly worth my time. Why, you are nothing but a little girl!" His voice fairly dripped with contempt. I smiled grimly. If only you knew! I had managed to struggle onto my hands and knees. It was hampered severely by my burning weak muscles, and the fact that the ground kept moving. Or so it seemed.

"But when I am through with you, boy, you will be a man." I fought desperately to swallow a giggle. It almost choked me again as I knelt there panting.

"I shall teach you magic, battle, strategy, and much more." He stopped before me, I stared resolutely at his shoes, expecting another surprise attack. "And you shall call me Master."

"No." I rasped.

"What?!!" His voice was icy with barely concealed anger.

I struggled to stand and glare firmly at him. Unfortunately my balance was far off keel, and I crashed bodily to the floor. I pushed myself into a sitting position and stared at the floor, fighting back angry tears and struggling to regain my breath and my balance.

"I said 'No'. Yes...I will be your student, and learn all that you have to teach gratefully. I will be the best damn student you have ever had." I spoke fiercely, still breathing hard. I slowly looked up into his silvery blue eyes." But I will NEVER call you 'Master'." I tossed my head in defiance. Stupid move. It left me reeling in dizziness. But I never broke my stubborn gaze.

Anger fled his icy eyes to be replaced with approval, of all things. Also a hint of another emotion churned in their icy depths. I couldn't quite place it. Huh? For sure, I thought he would be angry, but instead he's...pleased? Then he smiled softly at me and held out his hand. I could do nothing, my thoughts were frozen in bewildered mistrust. I glared up at him suspiciously, expecting another trap.

"Congratulations! You have passed."

"Passed?" I blinked. "Passed what?"

"I am testing you on your abilities. Your first test was on your strength of will." He leveled his icy gaze at me. "You surprise me. I must admit that I believed that you would fail. It appears that you are made of tougher stuff than you look. By all means, it is good that you are strong minded. You will need it to pass the tests ahead of you."

"And if I don't?" I asked dryly.

"Then, you will die." He replied simply, coldly. A shiver ran down my body.

For the first time, I realized the magnitude of how deeply I had immersed myself in trouble this time. Finally, I saw the true danger I was facing. And I was alone. I was past the point of no return. It was then that the ugly truth hit me with an almost physical force, slashing my soul, leaving it to bleed. I closed my eyes to fight the pain. I've lost EVERYTHING! My home, my family, my freedom, everything I had ever believed in...

"Are you going to sit there all day, boy, or are you going to let me help you up?"

His soft words cut my downward spiral into despair short. Embarrassed, I felt my face flush as I looked up. Of course. What do I have left to lose? I thought bitterly. Still apprehensive, I reached up and tentatively touched his hand, ready to dodge another outburst. He grasped my hand firmly and hauled me to my feet. Still dizzy from the lack of air, I wobbled haphazardly. If it weren't for Kunzite's gently supporting hands, I would have taken another spill again. Closing my eyes, I took a deep steadying breath and fought desperately for control of my balance.

"Can you stand on your own, boy?" I frowned in irritation at being referred to in such a derogatory fashion. I cheered considerably, however, when I remember the success of my disguise.

"Yes, I think so." And much to my surprise, I could. Though, admittedly, not very well.

"Can you walk?"

"Yes." I nodded.

Without another word, he then turned on his heel and stalked gracefully to the door. I stepped forward to follow him...and crashed inelegantly with the floor again. I grimaced painfully. I know I'm gonna have a bruise there in the morning.

"Uh, make that a 'No'."

Sighing, the tall man turned around and walked back towards me, glowering darkly. Cursing myself for my weakness, I felt heat rise in my cheeks as I grinned ruefully up at him through my bangs.

"I guess I was a little off." He shook his silvery head, chuckling. "You know, you could have warned me in advance so that I might have studied." He laughed as he helped me up. My balance was improving, slowly but surely.

"Why, that would have defeated the purpose of the test!" His strong arm encircled my waist as he supported me against his chest. We slowly trekked towards the door.

"Well, I had to try. No harm in asking, is there?" He laughed again, warmly, and then suddenly stopped. Strangely it was as if he was doing something completely forbidden, taboo.

"I will take you to your quarters." His eyes stared ahead, hard and sharp as glaciers. No longer did mirth warm him, he was cold, empty like the open tundra. I shivered in his powerful grip.

The End of Chapter 3 - Goto Chapter 4

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Disclaimer: Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha and Toei Animation. All characters, settings etc. are used without permission. This is an amateur fiction, and I definitely won't make any money of it.

This page belongs to Stayka's Dark Kingdom Home at http://www.dark-kingdom.de

© by Pyrite aka Jessi Duffour - Email: duffour@gmail.com

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