Sweet Dreams

Chapter 20: We never See Truth to be Plain

© 2006 by Pyrite aka Jessi Duffour


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Ah, those past few days were hectic. The whole Dark Moon Kingdom was in an uproar over finding Demando's elusive Princess. I found it no great surprise that his attempts were time and again turning up nothing...being as I myself was one of his more alert and feverant searchers. Lord Kunzite had been mercifully tightlipped. However, he occasionally spared me that sly scheming look every once and a while. He was up to something...and I had a feeling I wouldn't like it.

Not in the least.

After almost a week after we first arrived in this glitzy palace I decided to take a little responsibility into my own hands to try to amend things...not to mention find out who pulled such a cruel prank on me. I could guess who, however, there wasn't enough hard proof. Hesitating by the grand double doors to Demando's throne chamber, I leaned back against the wall idly to watch the pair of gaudily dressed Youma. Droidas I believe they called them here. The pale haired sovereign's chin was resting upon his knuckles as he sat back with a comfortable yet commanding posture, watching and listening to the pair as they rambled on their observations in few details on the subject and much opinion of everything else.

A slight smile was allowed to touch my lips as I raised a white gloved hand to give a slight wave of the fingers in silent greeting as those piercing violet eyes settled on me. He straightened noticeably as he shifted his gaze back to the oblivious cheese adorned pair. Quite bizarre. By now I know I shouldn't be surprised by some of the strange...and I mean VERY strange critters I see, but sometimes I cannot help but be a little surprised now and then.

The weirdest things dwell in the depths of darkness.

"Gouda. Feta. That is enough. Go out and continue your search."

"Yes My Prince." Another amazing thing is how systematically they always seem to speak and act in unison. After giving their ascquience to the prince, they turned...bowing formally to me before slipping past. Remaining leaning against the wall a moment after the doors closed, I turned my sights to the prince and stepped over to him, bowing cordially. A faint ease of the stern tension left his features with a fleeting ghost of a welcoming smile, then he regained that solemn serious demeanor.

"Have you any luck Pyrite?"

I shook my head with a slight lift of my shoulders in a helpless shrug. He pursed his lips and sunk back in his chair with an inaudible sigh, a fine line drawing between his brows as his normally stoically calm features bore a glimpse of consternation. Needless to say, trying to find his missing Princess has been taxing on his mood and patience.

"Sorry, Prince Demando...we hadn't found your Cinderella."

His pale brows drew together as he leveled me a flat look, responding with a crisp precise tone graced by a hint of annoyance.

"Her name...is Serenity."

Blinking...I sighed, a wry smile tugged my lips as I ran my fingers through the long bangs as I brushed them from my eyes with an idle gesture, slightly embarrassed that he should miss such a hint to a fairy tale. For a moment I felt a touch of remorse....wondering if he ever had the joy of hearing a child's story like that when he was young. Then again, I couldn't recall anyone reading it to me. Though the fact that I recall it must hold some kind of subconscious relevance.

"Ah, sorry about that...I was referring to someone in a Child's story...Cinderella. A sweet gentle maiden by the name of Cinderella mistreated by her step sisters and step mother was left to clean home while they went to the Ball. Well, to sum a long story short: she snuck to the ball with a bit of magic and help from a friend."

He raised a thin brow coolly as I continued the briefing of the story...listening with a cool but alert attention.

"Being the sweet beautiful girl she was she caught the prince's eye and they danced....until she had to leave. You see, it was at Midnight when the magic would wear off. Thus, she ran from him. He lost her that night, but found a glass shoe she left behind. Prince practically tore his kingdom upside down to fit the shoe to the foot of every woman until he found his phantom princess. He found her...they got married...lived happily ever after."

Drawing a deep breath after that quick citation. I glanced up to the Prince with a slight playful grin, crossing my arms over my chest idly as I watched in secret pleasure as the moody tension passed from his face to be replaced wonder...then I spoke.

"Don't worry, Prince Demando. I'm sure your Princess will show up. She just might be a little hard to find, that's all." I silently eased in relief as that earned me a soft chuckle from the Demando.

"Yes, I see...quite a fascinating story...and so appropriate for the moment. And curiously enough...she did indeed leave me her slippers..."

I let out a breath, blowing my bangs out of my eyes. Things are always more complicated than need be. Having discarded those heeled shoes seemed like a good idea at the time for mobility. Wait...he's looking for a girl if he goes by the old Cinderella story...he wouldn't dream to check the 'guys' in this joint. I let out a soft breath of frustration and bit my lower lip with a vexed mood. I had not wished to stir the prince into such a way...I simply HAD to find the ones responsible for this. No two ways about it. I suspected Rubeus to be behind this somewhere...though, I didn't think he'd mess with make-up. He's vain, but apparently too hardset in his masculinity to do such a good job. Which meant it had to be someone else...

"Pyrite?"

Blinking in surprise, I glanced up at his voice with a start as he jolted me from my deep thoughts. He was leveling me a thoughtful look narrowing his eyes slowly...bearing something of a suspicious look...brooding violet eyes staring deep to my own. I gulped and glanced down to the floor, clasping my hands behind my back.

"Er...ah...yes?"

"You have been acting somewhat...edgy these past few days after the night. You forget...I read people well. Is there something wrong?"

Tensing, I glanced up at Demando from behind those foppishly long bangs, still bearing that slight lighter sheen from whatever it was whoever did to my hair...but the effect is fading now to the darker color my hair normally was. The Prince bore a catlike speculative look, eyes narrowed as he absently partook of a sip of the crimson wine in the crystal goblet in his left hand then set it down upon the arm of his elegant crystalline throne.

"Nothing...well, nothing important really. Just a personal matter that really doesn't bear any measure to your own worries....eh heh heh."

"No...I insist. You have been helping me as faithfully as any of my subjects these past few days...and I have given you nothing in return. Please...I insist." Oh...he's good.

"Oh..well..ah...if you have to know...I...." color could be felt rising to my cheeks as I thought back on that night...then responded honestly "I feel absolutely awful about that night. I had never had punch like that before...and..well. I think I had a little too much. I think I may have done a few silly things..."

"Post-drunk anxiety?" He lofted a pale brow, a ghost of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. I winced at his words in shame, then nodded in embarrassment.

"Erm...well...yes. I don't recall everything that happened, that night, you see...though, I'm almost afraid to find out." Embarrassment crept it's crimson way across my cheeks as Demando began to laugh. However...silently, I was gratified to seem him showing some sign of good spirits again.

"Come come now, you had been skulking about like a scolded puppy because you had a little too much to DRINK? Pyrite, you may be the next General in line for Queen Beryl's Dark Kingdom...but you are still young. Hardly more than a youth. I think under these circumstances this might be an easily forgivable offense. Just make certain it does not happen again. Once is an accident. Twice is foolishness."

A relieved rueful chuckle escaped as I smiled slightly, nodding gratefully to the Prince's generous words...grateful he hadn't chastised...or worse, asked other questions.

"Thank you Prince Demando." I smiled and bowed. A loud beep shattered the brief silence as I straightened. Fumbling at the cuff of my jacket, I tugged it back to peer at my old digital watch still about my wrist. Small blessing...and curse...of technology. Pressing the button to turn off the rather annoying alarm, I shared an apologetic smile with the Prince, bowing solemnly.

"Forgive me...but I need to meet Lord Kunzite for sparring practice in a few minutes. I hate to be rude and run out in the middle of our discussion..." I stopped short as he waved his hand in a negligible dismissing gesture.

"Go...best not to keep him waiting. Hmmm...I would enjoy to watch, though. It has been a long time since I had seen him fight last....I wonder if he has changed his technique at all."

* * *

Steel flashed sharp and illumined by white light as a glimpse of razor honed deadly danger descended, angled down towards my neck with all the lethal precision of Death's scythe. Twisting my body about with the first glimpse of motion, I brought my own blade...a rather slim short katana...up in a parrying blow: Steel rang loudly against steel as the attack was not only blocked...but with a nimble turn of the wrist diverted past. I used my onward momentum forward in a swift turn as my opponent's thrust carried him forward...rolling my body against his as I planted my hand firmly in his back for a rough push in an attempt to throw him off balance...and hopefully, off guard.

The ploy worked...somewhat. For as I managed to shove him forward...a strong hand grabbed my own wrist in a sudden fierce snare...and, with an unexpected tug, sent me hurtling over his shoulder in a disorientating tumble to the ground.

"Focus!"

Gritting my teeth against the painful thudding ache in the back of my head, I raised my head to level a glare at my opponent whom stood impassively watching me with that severe chill icy stare. Letting out a slightly coughed breath from the jarr, I pushed myself up with a soft rustle of cloth against the smooth marble floor. Ah, but my mentor was in rare form...almost vicious in his attacks. More than plenty of challenge for a novice like myself. Raising my gaze only briefly..I caught a momentary glimpse of our audience...a few visitors, the Queen, and the Prince at first...and now it grew as we continue our sparring. That set me more than a little uneasy and on edge...fighting for the entertainment of others. Drawing a deep breath, I shifted my gaze back to Kunzite...absently adjusting my grip on the blade as I reset my position...watching him intently. I honestly didn't need to look....I could feel Demando's eyes upon us..upon me...assessing and scrutinizing every decision and motion made.

Circling around to the right with slow carefully balanced steps, I stared intently into the chill arctic blue eyes of my opponent from over the mirror polished steel of my blade. Tensing my fingers about the grip of the short Katana, I drew a deep breath in concentration as Kunzite countered my circling with a prowl of his own...both awaiting the other to make the first move. A silence could be felt as thick as a lead blanket..heard louder than the roar of an enraged demon as our audience watched our match. I suppose it must have been credit to my improving skills if I could keep fighting uninjured...and manage to keep the crowd entertained for the past hour or so.

I took the initiative to strike first, dashing forward with a light sprint with the blade held in a reverse grip before me, watching as my mentor subtly shifted to a more defensive pose. As I neared him I kicked my left foot around to turn in a tight sharp and fast counterclockwise spin, bringing the blade up in a diagonal slash upward. Undoubtedly, he blocked the attack with a simple parry upward, throwing my sword hand high and lunging with an attack of his own...just as I expected.

Leaning left in a dip to the side as I let the blade hum past my head, I pressed forward into his body still coming closer to mine as I planted my hand down on his thigh for balance. I met his icy stare out of the corner of his eye with a light mischievous smirk...winking playfully as I thrust sharp and hard with my hand on his thigh and kicked my body into a shove into his.

Success!

My little ploy worked as it sent him falling back, off balanced. Turning ever so slightly, I angled my arm as we fell, using my weight behind the maneuver to dig my elbow deep and hard into his bared belly, earning me a cough of pain in reward for my efforts.

Not wasting success to chance, not tarrying in the slightest to glory in my trick...I slid my sword between us to rest the blade pressed high against the inner thigh of my opponent All it would take would be a jerk of the wrist...and the large artery there would be severed in a moment: bleeding him to death within a matter of seconds. He froze his position, retaliation move already checked as that sharp mind of his registered our compromising position. Raising my head to meet those pale eyes with a light cocky grin, I tilted my head to the side...speaking somewhat breathlessly as I panted heavily from the exertion.

"Checkmate."

He scowled darkly at me, though a ghost of a smile dared to tug the corner of his lips as he whispered back in a low tone...breathing a little deeper himself. I felt him ease under me as he dropped his blade to the ground with an echoing clang. The assorted cheers and comments from the watchers barely registered in the back of my mind as he reached up a hand to grip me hard on the arm, almost painfully tight.

"You reckless fool...that crazy maneuver could have cost you dearly."

"Perhaps...but a crazy risk is always a little more exciting to bet on. Your life would be so dull without me, and you know it." With those words I winked playfully, teasing my defeated teacher with a light tap on the nose before I leaned back somewhat.

I was taken aback by the look of surprise crossing his sharp sculpted features, a perplexing emotion revealed itself much to my confusion. The hand on my arm didn't ease in the slightest...then surprisingly it trembled...releasing it's hold as he laid back, closing his eyes. I felt him shiver under me, eliciting a perplexed raise of my eyebrows as I edged back...drawing the blade away from his thigh as I reached out my hand to his chest; glancing down to the bare belly. I hit him hard, but I didn't think it was THAT bad.

"Lord Kunzite...are you all right? You don't look too well...I guess I must have overdone it a bit with my elbow..."

"No...just...silence. Practice is over. Dismissed." His words, were sharp, bit hard as he cast a cold impassive stare to mine...swatting my hand aside as he sat up with a grunt. Getting to my feet, I took a few hesitant steps back at this sudden shift of demeanor. But then: that was Kunzite. Sometimes...I just didn't understand the man. But, I knew better than to ask. Giving a short bow, I stepped back to the side of the sparring arena and handed the sword to the attending Droida there. I watched wordlessly as my mentor pushed himself up, brushing his pants off. There was a slight bruise set against the well toned muscles of his belly...though, I'm sure that I outnumbered him by far with the painful little rascals. Sighing, I looked to the ground as he stalked stiffly past. He uttered no word as he snatched up his jacket and slipped it on with sharp intent motions. I could hear the snap of a rustle as he jerked on his cape...then the unyielding steps as he stalked out.

He was irritated. No...more than that. He was upset, perhaps even a touch nervous. I had been training long enough under his tutelage to note the subtle nuances.

I sighed and brushed my bangs out of my eyes as I blearily reached out for my jacket offered by the Droida attendant...murmuring a soft word of gratitude, though...it was only halfhearted at best with my mind on other things.

Then it hit me.

I didn't know exactly how it happened at first...but I was face down on the ground in a strangle hold, someone on top of my back pinning me to the ground. I shuddered as I felt a chill race through my blood.

"Oh, Pyrite Dear, you were absolutely wonderful! You fight so well..."

Beruche. If there is a God...I'm sure he must hate me.

I attempted to give a reply to her chatter...but there was little I could choke out with the vice-like hug about my throat. Stars danced in my field of vision as I dropped my forehead to the ground with a thud....too tired and in pain to resist. Good, let asphyxiation take me. Then...I could have a bit of lovely peace and quiet for a little while . As merciful Darkness claimed me, I couldn't help but let my last fleeting thoughts fall upon Kunzite...and that moment I had him down and vulnerable.


The End of Chapter 20 - Goto Chapter 21


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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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