Sweet Dreams

Chapter 11: Leaving Us Shaking As a Foal

© 2006 by Pyrite aka Jessi Duffour


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I ran frantically through the hallways, hastily pulling my jacket on and buckling the belt. I am going to be sooo LATE! After the arduous night learning and the traumatic nightmare, I slept far later than I intended. I hit the doors open with an unceremonious bang at breakneck speed and dashed across the giant cavernous chamber. As I was about twenty feet from the dais, I slid across the smooth floor and leapt up the steps, landing lightly on the dais and bowing to the impatient Queen sitting stately on the throne. Just as I rose back up, panting from my wild run, Kunzite appeared calm and cool in a flash of light. I really need to learn how he does that. I caught his disdainful look as he glanced at my disheveled appearance. I self-consciously straightened out my rumpled uniform, feeling my cheeks flushing with embarrassment. Running my hand through my still damp hair, I pushed it out of my eyes, tucking the wildly curling locks behind my ears, I glanced at the Queen, praying to any deity that might be listening... or caring... that I didn't upset her. She had a slightly bemused look on her sharp gaunt face. Well, it could be worse.

"I trust that you will show better presentation skills next time, Pyrite. I sincerely hope...for both you and your mentor's sake, that you had learned far better etiquette than you had exhibited thus far." She tapped her sharp clawlike nails on the orb impatiently, grim dismay on her thin angular features. I blushed hotly and bowed, ignoring the insulted glare of the tall man standing next to me. Apparently my entrance was a little less than dignified... and we had spent all night on court etiquette and manners. I could see why he would be upset.

"I will do better, My Queen." I stated simply, knowing she had absolutely no tolerance for rambling explanations or excuses...and her mood was less than thrilled. If I hadn't been so much in her favor thus far...I would have likely been blasted to the next time zone. I had seen her do far worse to Youma who had done less. Appeased for the moment, she nodded coolly and I rose from the bow stiffly, glancing apologetically at Kunzite briefly.

"See that you do." I shivered at the hissing menace in her low words. I nodded, gulping down my unease. She looked up at Kunzite. "Is everything prepared for our departure?" he stepped forward and bowed smartly, nodding coolly.

"Yes my Queen. I had debriefed Pyrite on the Dark Moon Family and also on proper court etiquette and procedures..." I blushed sheepishly at his chill hard glance. "and I had set my highest ranking officers to manage things while we are away. I had also taken the liberty to assign additional Youma to patrol the parameters and guard the Gates." She nodded, pleased.

"Very good, Kunzite. And Endymion will be in command while we are away." I caught a grim glint in my mentor's eyes, but he remained silent. She rose slowly and clasped the thin stand of her orb...the thing transforming into a crystal ball topped staff. As if she wasn't creepy looking enough already... I snapped to attention as she walked between my mentor and I, raising the staff high. A hot fiery wind blew through the cavern, blowing our hair wildly, whipping my mentor's cloak about him. The staff glowed a brilliant phosphorescent white, power collecting in a stunning rush of energy. Pointing the staff before her, she roared in a voice that echoed through the cavernous chamber, three glowing balls of energy appearing before her, limned in raging fiery violet light.

I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end from the tingling rush of power as the spheres begin spinning in a circle...a ghostly mist appearing in the center. I watched in stunned awe as the orbs spun faster in a blinding circle... making a huge glowing ring in the air before the Queen. The mist swirled like storm clouds in the center of the glowing portal, writhing and turbulent. The mist suddenly washed away as the ring solidified into a glowing doorway...well-polished pale marble floor able to be seen on the other side with tall elegant crystalline architecture. She lowered her arm and nodded to Kunzite and I.

"Kunzite, you will accompany me on the right, Pyrite, the left." I nodded and stepped to her left, glancing at the tall man to make sure I was doing right. I resisted the urge to fidget my nervousness and I was somewhat relieved by his solemn nod. I carefully stepped to her left and daintily held her bony hand in mine, as Kunzite had instructed me last night, though I loathed the cold feel of her skin through the fabric of the glove. It seemed to me that not the warmest fleece, not even the hardest metal could keep the chill bite of her away. We paused a brief moment then walked through the portal. The power rushed over and around me like a raging cold sea...stealing my warmth of life. I stubbornly fought the urge to panic, to flee, to let go of the soul chilling hand in mine, to clutch onto it like a lifeline. I drew a deep breath of cool sweet air as my boot touched the comforting hard sturdiness of marble. I caught her glance and realized I was trembling slightly from the vertigo of the exhilarating, disorientating rush of power. Drawing a deep breath and closing my eyes, I steeled my nerves and used one of the quick relaxation disciplines that Kunzite had tried to teach me. Much to my relief, it worked...calming my tensed muscles and regaining a bit more of a stoic composure. I opened my eyes and glanced around quickly, alert and attentive...sensing that we weren't alone.

This place we were in was as beautiful as the Dark Kingdom was horrifying: elegant, refined and glistening with crystal and marble. We stood in a stately room, a huge set of double doors in front of us; elegant carvings gilded with gold. I noticed instantly a green haired woman...breathtakingly beautiful...and there was absolutely no doubt she knew it. Esmeraude. 'Vain as a peacock...or rather, peahen.' Kunzite had said. I see what he means now! My mentor stood forward and bowed to her with a regal grace, the extremely charming lady smiled coyly at him behind her feather fan, openly flirtatious and daringly winking at him.

"Well well, Kunzite. It HAS been a long time since you last visited us." She turned her gleaming green eyes to the Queen and I. She bowed low to Beryl, my liege giving her a solemn nod in return. I remained utterly silent, keeping alert and watching the room.

"Queen Beryl. So nice of you to journey from your Kingdom to ours. This truly is an honor to the Dark Family." She smiled and bowed again, glancing at me, slightly curious. Luckily, Beryl spoke up, diverting unintentionally Esmeraude's attention. Lucky me!!!

"Yes, Esmeraude. Announce to Prince Demando that I have arrived." Phew. That was close. For once, I'm really glad she's real impatient! The green haired woman cast me another intrigued glance and smiled behind her soft plumed fan as she bowed gracefully.

"As you wish." She disappeared in a swirl of lightning gold light. A few tense seconds later, the great double doors opened revealing an enormous hall, with gleaming white marble architecture, towering smooth pillars and numerous mastercrafted sculptures. And on a tall-backed throne sat Demando, his face rising from my memory from the cram session last night. Taking a deep breath, I carefully put my face devoid of my thoughts, keeping an intense wariness apparent. It was hard with such a fascinating place, but I thanked my lucky stars for Kunzite's relentless self discipline lessons, painful at the time...but very much needed now.

Feeling the signaling slight squeeze from my Queen's hand, I stepped forward on my right foot, keeping a neat measured pace with Kunzite and her. I was nervous as a cat in a dog show, but I managed to hide it, and kept one thought in my head. Success means survival, success means survival. Lousy as that kind of encouragement was, it was all I had to cling to. Queen Beryl always did say, "Desperation is the best motivation." Wryly, I suspected the Complaints Department in the Dark Kingdom was in the same vicinity as the torture chambers. Go figure.

We walked through the grand hall way, a stately procession, an ice cool General, a fiery Queen and...me. I didn't feel stately, but I tried to at least look calm. It wasn't easy; I warily felt eyes on me...unnerving as hell. We approached the ornate throne, a cool eyed, cool mannered man sitting there, clad in pristine white, a starkly contrasting black cape, silver hair the color of molten starlight falling to his shoulders. Resemblance to Kunzite aside...he was definitely different. This man, although sitting quite casually in the chair, possessed a powerful force of personality and will, not a word needed to be said by him, and I could already sense a strong noble bearing in him. And his power...it rivaled the Queen...perhaps even greater. It prickled at my skin, a teasing touch of carefully restrained magic. If I wasn't already resolute to give my best...this increased that by tenfold.

We came to a pause a few feet before him. I glanced at my mentor briefly, and saw him standing; a silent sentinel, motionless as stone, his gaze fixed straight ahead. I carefully mimicked his look, standing as tall as I could, carefully not meeting anyone's gaze as the Prince stood slowly, with a noble grace...seeming a prince from a fairy tale. Oh, not too bad on the peepers too! But it would definitely be a tragic tale...I could practically sense it in the very walls themselves. He bowed to the Queen and she returned the gesture with a slow, courtly prestigious grace.

"Welcome, Queen Beryl, to the Dark Moon." She smiled with a serpentine charming pull of the lips.

"Greetings, Prince Demando. I thank you for your Hospitality." She momentarily let go of my hand. I glanced briefly at the Prince as he bent over and kissed the back of her hand in long dead chivalry. I quickly looked away, aptly concealing the sickened grimace that threatened to cross my face. He's got guts. I'll give him infinite Kudos for that! He straightened and glanced to Kunzite and I briefly. I caught his piercing dark violet eyes briefly and returned my gaze straight ahead...hastily as I felt his eyes touch my soul. I could tell right away: he was one of those types of people who can read a person's heart through their eyes.

"I bid welcome to those whom accompany you as well." Kunzite then picked up the conversational ball with a smooth, practiced ease...apparently court verbal games being a skill he has. I didn't know a thing about social pleasantries, not until it was all quickly debriefed to me last night. My mentor stepped forward smoothly and knelt briefly, respectfully.

"Greetings, Prince Demando."

"Ah, Kunzite. Yes. I recall you from the last visit. It is good to see you again." he nodded absently...but his eyes were turned to me...sizing me up with an intense scrutiny. I fumbled for the social ball. Stepping forward, I knelt before the cool Prince as my mentor had, and rose slowly, showing great, genuine respect. I was careful not to make eye contact, though. Those deep violet eyes saw into a person's heart...into their secrets and I had a few I needed best kept safe. I cleared my voice and spoke softly, yet clearly (thanks be to the Fates).

"Good Day, Prince Demando." the silence in the room was deafening...every pair of eyes in the room watching me like a hawk for a slipped faux pas...intentional or not. To say I was unnerved would be an understatement. I bowed my head partially in respect...but mostly to keep his prying eyes from my own. "I am Pyrite, and your gift of hospitality truly is generous indeed. Thank you, Prince." I held a breath for a tense moment as a long pause settled in. He looked at me intently for a long moment...his probing, searing gaze easily felt, even averting my eyes as I was. He nodded to himself thoughtfully.

"You are quite welcome Pyrite." I relaxed, my mentor casting me a cool glance...approval, and I felt the Queen pat my shoulder once...another round of approval. I stepped back swiftly, gracefully as she stepped forward, gladly passing off the conversational ball. She murmured softly with the Prince and I kept my sight trained on the pristine white marble wall before me, paying small heed to the pleasantries. The conversation eventually trickled to an end...just as I was beginning to fend off Boredom's grasp. I snapped to attention a split second after Kunzite.

The Prince rose and nodded to the three of us.

"It is always a pleasure to have the Dark Kingdom visit the Dark Moon. Forgive me for the moment, but there are some things that I must attend to. I have arranged a welcoming party this eve, and I invite you all to attend." I perked up at the word party. Party?! All right, a little fun!!! Good food probably too, great!!! I quickly hid the excited gleam in my eyes and the thrilled smile from my lips, neither Kunzite nor the Queen noticing. Unfortunately, the Prince saw, flashing me a slightly amused glance, an eyebrow cocked quizzically. I looked up sheepishly though my bangs at the ceiling. The asture prince turned back to the Queen.

"There is a suite all set and prepared for you and your Honor Guard." He paused a long moment, his eyes going distant. A moment later, a tall man with a cocky air appeared in a burst of fiery energy, shortcropped wild red hair rising from his head like flames, dressed in smart casual clothing, baggy combat green pants and a bold sleeveless shirt. He knelt on one knee before the Prince quickly. I recognized him...Rubeus. A lesson hard learned, but worth the effort.

"You called, My Prince?" Demando nodded, and gestured politely to the three of us.

"Yes, I have summoned you here to escort Queen Beryl and her Honor Guard to the Private Guest Quarters. See that they are provided with whatever they wish. Accord them the courtesy and respect as you would me." The red haired man nodded sharply and rose quickly, glancing us with a cool look, sizing up Kunzite and I. Much to my unease, I could tell as his gaze swept over me, more than a hint of disdain. He favored me with a glare of an ego bruised that he would have to show respect to someone smaller and apparently weaker than he was. I met his look with a cool polite nod.


The End of Chapter 11 - Goto Chapter 12


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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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