Devil's Ascent

(Tears of Crystal - Pt.15)

© 1998/2006 by Stayka deyAvemta & Shavana Rhea

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Queen Beryl sighed. The tall, red-haired woman sat on the dark stone throne in front of her floating crystal ball and gave the courtiers sinister looks.

When they cowered in terror, the corners of her mouth curled slightly upward, before she scowled again. It was embarassing that she had to take delight in such little things nowadays, but since Kunzite was gone, the whole Dark Kingdom deteriorated.

Unfortunately neither Endymion nor Celestine had managed to collect any energy yet, and Metallia grew impatient. She had even punished her with a rather mean energy bolt when she last had to report the fact that they still hadn't made any progress.

Probably she had to do the things herself for a change, when her subordinates weren't able to. Or better, she would try to find some people who could do it.

She stood up and teleported into her personal dwelling. It was darkly luxurious, with ankle deep carpets of soft, dark green fur and tapestries that depicted majestic landscapes in colourful, but shadowed hues.

With a gesture of her hand she conjured a tall mirror and turned into human seeming. These pointed ears and spiky thorns on her shoulders had to go, and it would be better to turn her scarlet hair into a more manageable length.

Finally, she wore a long, green, slitted dress with a slightly more decent neckline than usual. Thus satisfied with her appearance, she opened a doorway to Earth, stepped through and landed in Tokyo.

Curiously, Beryl floated over the sidewalk and looked around with fascination. It was something completely different to see the Earth Realm in person and not via her crystal ball. She'd never have imagined the bustling energy that pulsed through the streets, the abundance of life force that could be harvested.

The Queen of the Dark Kingdom frowned. She really wondered what kept her minions from collecting enough energy to wake up their great ruler.

* * *

Jadeite was on his way through the city. He was glad that he bought the motorbike. This way he was at least mobile as long as they should better not teleport or open doorways.

He needed some special ingredients for a dish he wanted to cook the following day, and furthermore he had forgotten to buy some miniatures, brushes and colours for the train set he wanted to assemble.

It was just wonderful not to have annoying duties anymore, he thought and smiled happily, when he stormed into the third supermarket. His collection of bags grew, and he pondered whether it might be a good idea to buy a car like the others. With a motorbike he was somehow handicapped in his shopping trips.

* * *

Beryl examined the humans she saw. They had energy, but somehow they didn't look like officer material.

Suddenly she discovered a familiar blonde head. The man was packed with bags and hauled them along. She squinted her eyes and followed him.

Jadeite tried to fix the bags to his motorbike. He really needed a car.

Beryl watched him with fascination. What might he have in these bags? Weapons?

Jadeite muttered something and climbed his vehicle to drive back home. Not even a quarter of a mile later he had to stop once more to fasten the bags again.

The red-haired woman pursued him, floating easily over the sidewalk.

Now Jadeite discovered her. He was sure he had seen her before and put on a frown.

The Queen felt safe and didn't think she was in any way suspicious. In that tight dress she couldn't walk anyway, and humans were inferior creatures.

"Jadeite!" she thundered. "Finally I have found you, despicable traitor!" She stretched out her hand, but without her usual claws it wasn't half as threatening as normally. Her grating voice was, though. "Now you'll be mine again!"

"Dream on!" Jadeite took one of the bags with the fresh vegetables and threw it at Beryl, before he decided to disappear as fast as possible. Somehow he had to shake her off.

As she had only reckoned with an energy attack, Beryl was utterly surprised when a bunch of tomatoes and several pounds of freshly grated cheese hit her square in the chest. With a furious screech she teleported back to the Dark Kingdom to rearrange her appearance. She couldn't walk around like this in the Earth Realm.

* * *

Jadeite had taken special care to obfuscate his trace, until he dared to return to the mansion. Alone he couldn't do anything against Queen Beryl.

When he stormed into the living room, he discovered that Kunzite and Zoisite had made themselves pretty comfortable there. The silver-haired man lay bare chested on the sofa and read a book, while Zoisite massaged his back. Kunzite smiled contentedly. This was an arrangement he could perfectly well live with.

"I think we have a problem," Jadeite began.

"Hm?" Kunzite looked up from his book. "Zoisite, you may continue," he said. The pretty man giggled and poured some more oil on his lover's back.

"Beryl is here," Jadeite stated worriedly.

"What?" Kunzite tried to get up, but as Zoisite sat straddled on his back, it was a futile attempt.

"She almost got me when I was in town."

"Why does Beryl appear in the Earth Realm?" Kunzite wondered. Zoisite climbed down and put the bottle with the massaging oil away.

"But this means we can kill her here," he said cheerfully.

"I don't know," Jadeite grimaced. "I'd rather not mess with her directly."

Kunzite stretched lazily. "This was good," he sighed and gave Zoisite an affectionate smile, before he turned back to his blonde colleague. "We should try to set up a trap for her."

"I don't understand it," Jadeite shook his head. "How can you stay so calm when Beryl pursues us on the Earth Realm?"

"It's all part of the discipline," Zoisite told him with a grin. He had heard that favourite saying of Kunzite more than once.

"But I feel nervous about it."

"Well, I can't help it," Kunzite remarked. "When she comes here, we have to devise a good plan. But I can think best when I don't run around like some crazy chicken."

Jadeite immediately stopped his nervous pacing. "So what?"

"We need some allies so that we can overcome her without being endangered ourselves."

"And where do we get them?"

"Who else around has an interest in getting rid of Queen Beryl?"

"You mean the Sailor Senshi?"

"Exactly. Let's set them on Beryl, and when they fight each other we can steal the silver crystal and get rid of both parties. I have no use for little girls as you certainly know."

Zoisite giggled and adored the powerful physique of his beloved.

"And how are we supposed to do that?" Jadeite asked.

"Well, we only need to tell SailorMoon that Queen Beryl is in town." Kunzite conjured a mirror and admired his image. The tan was almost perfect, he thought with satisfaction. It contrasted really nicely with his silvery white hair.

"And who tells her?" Jadeite wanted to know.

"What about you?" Kunzite grinned. "You haven't done too many useful things anyway."

"Why don't you go? You don't have anything better to do than admire yourself in the mirror."

"I think it's more worthwhile," Kunzite chuckled and ran a hand through his long hair.

"Do you want to vanquish Beryl with your looks?"

"Don't you dare," Zoisite threatened him, but Kunzite laughed.

"Don't you know that a true warrior isn't only supposed to be a master of the art of fighting, but shall stun his adversaries with his beauty, too?"

"So? And you think you are a true warrior? Then you can go to SailorMoon."

"One could think you are afraid of the little girl", Kunzite teased him.

"Bah. I'm certainly not afraid of SailorMoon. She's far too dumb to be a real threat." The black-haired Fire Senshi was another matter, he thought. She was almost worthy of his respect. But SailorMoon? Not really. "Okay, I will go and check if Beryl was alone or brought some troops of youma with her."

"Very well. We can still ponder on our proceedings afterwards," Kunzite decreed.

"See you later!" Jadeite mounted his motorbike and returned to the city for further reconnaissance.

* * *

Nephrite had accompanied Naru to her home. It was strange that she didn't seem to remember anything from her abduction by Endymion, and it was stranger still, that she got back without problems as it seemed.

On the other hand, maybe Beryl had found out that she couldn't use her as she had intended, as Naru had too kind a heart.

"Please, come in," she smiled sweetly, and Nephrite entered the house. He still had a bad feeling about it, but he couldn't pinpoint it.

The red-haired girl lead him to her room, before she prepared some green tea which she spiced up with some sleeping potion. She definitely would enjoy it when she could take revenge on him for using here all the time.

Nephrite thanked her and took a sip. Naru gave him another sweet smile and waited patiently for the effect to set in. And really, it didn't take long, and Nephrite became more and more tired until he succumbed to sleep.

Naru laughed out loud when she saw him lying down helplessly, opened a doorway and transported him to the Dark Kingdom. She brought him into her quarters where she bound him securely with chains of black energy, before she reported to Queen Beryl.

* * *

Endymion got the order to collect energy in the Earth Realm. Now that Queen Beryl had checked it herself, she demanded results - good results, lots of energy and everything should be done yesterday as well.

It was demeaning. Shouldn't he be the one who took back the silver crystal from those Sailor brats while some youma collected energy? But no, Queen Beryl insisted on humiliating him.

As he had researched a bit in the history of energy collecting, he found two ways that promised vast amounts of energy, but as he didn't like to concentrate on single persons like Nephrite had done, he decided to try out Jadeite's approach with large crowds of people.

With a handful of youma he teleported to the sports hall that was the venue of a sumo championship.

* * *

"Do you know what puzzles me," Ami began. The other girls shook their heads. They sat in Rei's room again and sipped green tea. "The Dark Kingdom hasn't collected energy for quite some time."

"True," Usagi nodded. "I wonder if they're on a vacation."

She was being ignored, as usual.

"Maybe they don't have enough people, now that all of the four Kings have decided to leave the Dark Kingdom," Ami pondered. "Or there just wasn't any event that would have yielded enough energy."

"Well, when I think about it - isn't there the big sumo championship these weeks?" Minako asked.

"You're right," Rei agreed. "If they want to collect energy these days that's the event."

"Then we have to check it out." Minako wasn't overly fond of the thought. Those wrestlers were definitely massively overweight.

"Sounds great," Makoto said. "I love martial arts competitions."

"I can't understand your enthusiasm," Obsidian remarked.

"You just have to watch the tactics, the skill, the art!" Makoto contradicted emphatically. "How the rikishi patiently wait for the right time to attack..."

"There are two guys who somehow shove at each other until one of them leaves the circle. So what?"

"Not somehow. There are strict rules. And it's not only shoving each other out of the circle."

"Well, it looks like it."

Makoto looked at Obsidian, took a deep breath and started to explain the rules to him, even though she still didn't manage to convince him.

"I think these fat guys look unhealthy. I prefer to admire good-looking persons."

"I admire persons who have perfected their skills."

"I agree. Somehow they're impressive," Rei supported the tall girl. "And it is an ancient tradition with fascinating rituals."

"We should go now before the Dark Kingdom manages to collect the energy while we aren't there," Minako urged.

"I'd rather do without that view." Obsidian grimaced.

"If you wish. But don't forget to call me when you want me to cook something for you again."

"I'd never forget that. You can lure me everywhere with a well-prepared meal." Obsidian put on his best winsome smile, and Makoto cast down her eyes, blushing.

"Good. See you then."

* * *

Obsidian opened a doorway back to the Dark Kingdom. When he arrived he was immediately told the news that Celestine had managed to capture Nephrite.

The violet-haired man frowned and decided to report to Beryl at once. He wanted to hear that news first-hand.

His cousin and Queen sat on the throne and smirked evilly.

"Obsidian," she purred. "How does the training of Celestine progress?" She scratched one fingernail over the armrest of her throne, and the sound made Obsidian cringe. She knew perfectly well that he had neglected his duties in favour of a visit to the Earth Realm.

"She's not very good," he admitted. "At least as far as target practice is concerned. But that's not my best subject either as you should know."

"Then you ought to consider training together with her," Beryl hissed and looked searingly at him.

"But... I thought it was my duty to retrieve that spellbook."

"Your tasks are finding the spellbook, training Celestine and catching the traitors," the Queen thundered. "Ah yes, and we need more energy for our great ruler as well!"

"It seems we have quite a personnel shortage when I have to do that all on my own."

"Don't presume anything. You have to do as I command or I'll put you to eternal sleep just as I did with Jadeite!" Her voice shrieked through the hall and grated on the nerves of the audience.

As long as the sleep was only as eternal as Jadeite's he wouldn't mind too much, Obsidian thought, but refrained from saying so. "You mean I'm to do the tasks of a commander without proper training? Don't you think that's a bit much for me?"

"You belong to the family. You'll manage!"

"Why me," Obsidian moaned. "And I'm not even paid for the job!"

"You won't get anything as long as you don't have success. Take for example Celestine - she's even less trained than you and she managed to catch Nephrite."

"That's hardly surprising, considering her former relationship with him."

"Then you'll have to improvise," Beryl shouted.

'What a bitch', Obsidian thought when she had dismissed him to take care of his tasks. He had to do everything on his own and still she gave him such a dressing down.

Beryl waved her hands over the crystal. She felt the impatience and anger of Queen Metallia growing, and this totally messed up her mood. She desperately hoped that at least Endymion would be able to collect some energy.

When Obsidian had left the audience chamber, he tried to locate Nephrite's prison. He studied the results his locator crystal showed him, and it seemed that Nephrite was currently in Celestine's quarters.

Probably he was fairly safe there, Obsidian thought. The best thing would be to go back to the other Kings and tell them what had befallen his former mentor.

* * *

Finally Kunzite was fully dressed again, much to Zoisite's disappointment. The silver-haired man sat in a chair, eyes closed, feet lying on the table, while he tried to think about a new scheme to retrieve the silver crystal.

Zoisite walked up and down and thought as well, but rather on the problem where he could get something to eat as Jadeite preferred to work on his train set instead of cooking for them.

Obsidian materialized in the living room and watched the picture. "Hello."

"Hi! Do you bring something to eat?" Zoisite asked hopefully.

"Are you hungry?"

"Only a little bit."

"Ooooh," Obsidian grinned. "Didn't Kunzite want to cook?"

"We had sushi for lunch, but at the moment he thinks on a plan to retrieve the silver crystal."

Obsidian gazed at Kunzite. He was pretty occupied with thinking, he hadn't said anything up to now. "I ate at Makoto's. She prepares wonderful meals."

"I wonder if we can convince her to cook for us, too."

"Well, she loves cooking."

"Sounds good," Zoisite pondered. "I guess I have to visit her some time."

"She likes flowers and compliments," Obsidian grinned.

"Flowers and compliments", Zoisite conjured a certain type of pink rose. "Do you think this would do?"

Kunzite still lay there, arms folded behind his head and smiled peacefully in his sl- er, thinking.

"That's beautiful." Obsidian admired the flowers. "I only managed to create such..." He produced a pink flower of slightly simpler design.

"Kunzite-sama always gives me such roses." Zoisite blushed slightly and gave his beloved an affectionate look.

"Roses suit you well."

"You think so?" Zoisite cast down his eyes and managed to look absolutely delicate and innocent again. He went over to Kunzite, put the rose onto his chest and wrapped his arms around his lover from behind. "By the way, what do you want of us?" he asked Obsidian.

"What... Ah, yes, I wanted to tell you that Beryl has Nephrite in her clutches."

"Sounds like fun. Does she want to torture him?" Zoisite gave Kunzite a tender kiss onto the head. He slept on.

"I heard this was supposed to be Celestine's job."

"Isn't it poetic justice?" Zoisite laughed gleefully and thus woke Kunzite.

"Hm?" he mumbled.

"Why didn't you let him sleep?" Obsidian shook his head. The two lovebirds always made such a sweet picture.

"Ooops. Sorry, beloved." Zoisite nestled up to him and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

"Nice flower." Kunzite smiled. "Thanks, little rat."

Obsidian fell down into another armchair and sprawled all over it. "Did you have at least some sweet dreams?"

Kunzite grinned broadly, but decided not to answer. He enjoyed Zoisite's nearness too much.

"You've got it made," Obsidian sighed. "I have to listen to Beryl's screaming, and you cuddle around."

"You don't know how long we had to endure the tirades and bad temper of the Queen."

"Well, now that you're not in the Dark Kingdom anymore, she demands more and more from me. I have to train Celestine, I shall retrieve the spellbook, capture you..."

"Oh dear, oh dear," Zoisite giggled and sat decoratively down on the armrest of Kunzite's chair. "I had to hunt down the Senshi, find the rainbow crystals and all the time Nephrite quarreled with me. That wasn't easy either."

"But I'm younger than you," Obsidian sulked.

"But not much. When I was given my first tasks I certainly wasn't older than you."

"How old are you anyway?" Obsidian looked at him curiously.

"I'm twenty, if I recall correctly. - And what about you?"

Obsidian frowned. "I believe I'm 1067 years old - if I calculated correctly."

"But you definitely don't look that age."

"Well, I slept about 1050 years of it."

"Hm. And how old are you, Kunzite-sama? I mean when you're also from the Crystal Kingdom..."

"It seems I have to be 1087 years of age."

Zoisite looked open-mouthed at him. He always knew that Kunzite was a little older than him, but that was definitely a little more.

"That means you're only twenty years older than me. At least in numbers," Obsidian stated. "Hm. How long have you slept?"

"I don't know, but it's quite some time now since I was woken up by Queen Beryl to help her rebuild the Dark Kingdom to a strength that she could dare to attack the people who had stolen the silver crystal."

"Why is it that some people in the Dark Kingdom age and others don't?"

"The higher ranking Mages in the Crystal Kingdom knew a longevity spell that was also taught to worthy persons. Unfortunately some others managed to obtain the knowledge of it, too, such as Selenite."

"I guess I have to learn it soon , too", Obsidian said thoughtfully.

"Kunzite-sama, what about me?" Zoisite asked and looked at him out of his large emerald eyes. "Can you teach me that spell, too? I don't want to age and die."

Kunzite returned his gaze with a smile. Zoisite had been altered by Queen Beryl, a fact he first noticed when he bound the oath which hindered the little rat to kill him to Zoisite's life-force. Beryl did the same with Nephrite and Jadeite, which accounted for their weird blood colours, but with Zoisite the alteration turned out to be more psychological in addition to the prolongued life-span. But then, as long as Zoisite didn't know this, he could use it as an incentive to make him work a little harder to obtain some more knowledge about magickal sciences.

"Well, it depends on whether you finally manage to set your mind to study. And it takes quite some time of studying and training to maintain the energy pattern even subconsciously."

"That's hard," Zoisite sighed.

"Is the ageing stopped forever then?"

"It depends on how well you manage to fix the spell's pattern to your personal life pattern. I learned the spell when I was about 27."

Zoisite frowned. This sounded somehow similar to the way how Kunzite had bound the oath to his life force that prevented him to hurt his mentor.

Obsidian examined Kunzite. The age seemed to fit. "I guess I have to learn it as fast as possible."

"Me, too," Zoisite demanded and sat on Kunzite's lap. This was more comfortable than the armrest. "I want to stay as beautiful as I am now. You have to teach me the spell."

"Of course, my little rat." Kunzite kissed him lightly on the lips. "I wouldn't want your beauty to fade."

"I guess you should start right now so that Zoisite learns it before he gets grey hair."

Zoisite pouted.

"Actually he's pretty fast at learning things he wants to learn."

"As long as he doesn't fall asleep," Obsidian teased and watched the two men.

Kunzite chuckled at Zoisite's sulking face and played with his coppery golden ponytail. "He pretty much saw through you, I'd say."

"That's unfair. - By the way, Kunzite-sama, Queen Beryl caught Nephrite and wants to torture him. That's delightful!"

"Hm. I don't think so," Kunzite said thoughtfully. "He knows where we live in the Earth Realm."

"You might consider looking for a new homestead," Obsidian suggested.

"I guess we had better either kill or free him," Kunzite stated. "If Beryl brainwashes him we have another powerful adversary."

"I don't like it," Obsidian moaned. "I'm so glad that I don't have to take care of Celestine now that she has other duties. If you take Nephrite from her, I'm sure Beryl will demand that I'll take up her training again."

"Sorry, but we have to think of us first," Kunzite told Obsidian. "We'll go to the Dark Kingdom and decide what we'll do when we're there."

"If you wish."

"And you don't want to help us to free your mentor?"

"Nope. I will not hinder you, but I really feel like helping you either."

"You're a coward," Zoisite declared contemptously.

Obsidian glared angrily at him. "Name a reason why I should want to free him."

"What about the fun of it? I guess Beryl will be furious when she learns that Nephrite is gone."

"Then she'll only order me to get him back."

"So what? Isn't it cool to use Nephrite as plaything?"

"You can very well do that without me, too."

"Not exactly. I just had a great idea how to obfuscate our energy signature", Kunzite said. "Actually, I'm pretty peeved that it didn't occur to me earlier. You will mask our energy signature from Beryl."

"And how?"

"It's simple, but I can't do it myself as every spell I weave of course contains my signature." Kunzite explained Obsidian what he had to do.

"And why should I comply? You don't trust me and I don't trust you. It's too dangerous for my liking."

"Well, Nephrite could tell Beryl that you always knew where we were and didn't tell her."

"Hm," Obsidian mumbled. "I could tell her now before she's told by him."

"You won't," Kunzite said in a fairly conversational tone. "I can easily block your teleport and kill you. Furthermore you should consider that I'm the last Master Mage left who can teach you the longevity spell."

Obsidian frowned. It was true, he hadn't seen a spell like that anywhere in his father's spellbook. "But I still don't like it."

"That's your problem."

Obsidian sulked, but Kunzite's arguments were pretty convincing. Unfortunately he was the most powerful Mage around except for Beryl, and the Queen wouldn't teach him stuff like that at any cost.

"Cast the spell. Now," Kunzite ordered with icy calm.

Obsidian looked at him angrily, but did as he was commanded. He wouldn't obey longer than absolutely necessary, though.

"And now you'll open a secure doorway to the Dark Kingdom."

Obsidian complied with bad grace, and they appeared in the vicinity of the officers' quarters where the higher ranking youma and Celestine dwelt.

"You said Nephrite is in Celestine's quarters. Lead us there!"

Silently Obsidian lead the way, and Kunzite activated his magickal senses to locate Nephrite. He was there, but Celestine wasn't. Kunzite told the others of his findings.

"Great, then we can easily kill him," Zoisite declared with a wicked glint in his eyes.

"Zoisite, I'm a bit tired of your constant desire to kill," Kunzite sighed. "No, we'll free him." The tall man grinned at his lover. He really had to teach him that he couldn't always get his way. Zoisite pouted.

Obsidian waited sullenly for the next command. He wouldn't do anything he hadn't to. Unfortunately Kunzite had a point when he said that he was the last person who could properly teach magick skills, or he would have already sent out a telepathic call for help.

Kunzite blasted the door of Celestine's quarter as he didn't want to mess too long with the wards. Nephrite lay on the bed and was securely wrapped in chains of black energy which encircled him tightly from the head to the toes.

"Nice to see you," he groaned. "It's pretty boring here and I have a terrible itch in the back."

"Obsidian, open a doorway back," Kunzite ordered.

"As you command," he replied grumbling and opened the gate.

Kunzite transported Nephrite telekinetically through the doorway and the others followed. "Thank you very much, Obsidian," he said dryly and was rewarded a murderous glare.

"Won't someone please free me from those chains?" Nephrite moaned. Kunzite grinned, waved his hand and the black energy chains disappeared without trace.

"Finally!" Nephrite said, sat up and started to scratch his back extensively. "Aaaah," he sighed. "That's good!"

"How could you be so stupid to let Celestine catch you?" Zoisite mocked.

"Somehow I didn't expect the sleeping potion in the tea."

"Well, well. I guess the next time you should be more careful around her."

"You bet."

Kunzite examined Obsidian thoughtfully. He wondered if the promise to teach him certain spells was enough to keep him from giving them away.

"My Lord, what are we going to do with Obsidian?" Zoisite asked. "I'm sure he'll betray us. Let me torture him a bit so that he changes his mind."

Obsidian was so deep in his considerations of what he should do about the renegade Kings that fortunately he didn't hear Zoisite's proposal.

"What did you do to him?" Nephrite wondered.

"Nothing," Kunzite said smugly. "I only ordered him to help me free you."

"I guess he wasn't amused."


"But I never saw him like that before." Normally Obsidian was rebellious, no matter the cost, but somehow he actually seemed to be afraid of Kunzite. Nephrite envied his silver-haired colleague his commanding presence.

"What do you want?" Obsidian hissed when he felt Nephrite's scrutinizing gaze at him.

"He was your student. Do you think he'll betray us?"

"He'll do whatever is most advantageous for him."

Kunzite frowned and looked at the violet-haired man. It really would be the best solution to kill him here and now. On the other hand, he disliked unnecessary killing - and there was another way.

"Then I have to take some measures that he isn't able to betray us anymore," Kunzite said. "Obsidian, you will take an oath that you won't give us away, and I'll bind your life-force to it - thus meaning, it would kill you to violate the oath."

Zoisite winced. He had a pretty vivid memory of a certain oath that Kunzite had forced on him which had led to some pretty unpleasant experiences.

Obsidian gave Kunzite a murderous glare, but he knew he couldn't do anything against him.

"Well?" Kunzite raised an eyebrow and gazed levelly at the young man. "I expect your oath."

"Do you really need an answer of me? What other choice to I have?"

"Death. If you prefer to live, though..." Kunzite told him what to do, and Obsidian complied grudgingly.

Zoisite sighed. For once he felt for Obsidian. This oath business was demeaning and left no room for escape - but Kunzite was the strongest of them after all.

"Are you satisfied now?" Obsidian hissed.

"Yes. I will let you live - for now."

"Thank you very much!" Obsidian said acidly. "I will return to the Dark Kingdom, if I may."

"You are dismissed," Kunzite shrugged. At least this meant they didn't have to worry about Obsidian betraying them anymore.

* * *

Of course all hell had broken loose in the Dark Kingdom when Nephrite's flight was discovered. Everyone looked frantically for the fugitive, and Queen Beryl set a new record concerning the volume of her voice.

Obsidian tried too stay away from her, but suddenly a grating thought voice roared through his head.


The young man jumped into the air. The shout didn't make his ears ring, but boomed through all of his body. He hurried to attend, Beryl seemed to be in a horrible mood.

"You called, your Majesty?"

"Indeed! - Do you happen to know who freed Nephrite?" Over time Beryl had gotten the impression that her dear cousin knew more of the happenings in the Dark Kingdom than she did - a very unsettling thought.

"No," he replied with dutifully bowed head. "But I suspect that either the other Kings or the Senshi were involved. And as the Senshi are pretty incompetent and much too noisy I'm pretty much convinced that Kunzite, Zoisite and Jadeite were the culprits."

"I must admit these three begin to seriously annoy me," Beryl said dangerously quietly. "You will find out where they are immediately."

"As you command," Obsidian said. "But I fear they hide too well."

"I only wonder why they weren't as competent when they still worked for me," Beryl grumbled.

"Maybe they weren't as motivated then."

"Pardon?! They were my loyal subjects, and their greatest wish was to serve me properly. I know, I brainwashed all of them myself!"

"Well, one always fights best for one's own affair."

Beryl shot him an angry glance and dug her claws into the armrests of her throne.

"How am I supposed to find them anyway? They seem to be to well hidden."

"Be creative! You will find a way." Beryl didn't want to tell him that she wasn't able to find the Kings via her crystal orb either. She really wondered how they had managed to hide thus successfully. Which reminded her... "Celestine!"

The red-haired girl materialized at once and sank down to one knee, her fist raised to the chest in the proper salute.

"I'm not amused by your failure," Beryl screamed at her, and Celestine looked submissively down to the ground.

"Forgive me, my Queen," she said.

Obsidian examined the uniformed girl. He couldn't stand Naru-Celestine at all and he wondered again what Nephrite saw in her.

"You will go to the Earth Realm and find out where Nephrite hides now." Beryl looked from Celestine to Obsidian and back. "We will see who is the more successful of you. I will elevate the one of you who brings me the traitors - or their heads - to a King, well or a Queen."

"I will aspire to do my best," Celestine assured her. She definitely wanted to get a higher rank than Endymion whom she loathed and who was only a prince.

"But I don't want to be a King," Obsidian nagged.

"I don't mind," Beryl shouted at him. "You will find them, one way or the other!"

"Why can't she search for them alone?" Obsidian pointed at Celestine.

"You will both search them. Take a group of youma with you, if you need, but do as you're commanded! And while you're at it, you can collect some more energy as well."

"But I don't want to."

"You will obey!" Beryl waved her hand and a flash of pink energy hit Obsidian and hurled him through the air. He impacted with the ground with a loud thud.

"Ouch," he moaned and tried to sit up again. That hurt. Fortunately she hadn't used all of her strength, or she would have fried him into a crisp. "Okay, okay, I'll do what you command, but that doesn't mean I have to like it," he muttered. "I'm sure I won't find them anyway, and you know that I'm not very good in collecting energy."

"Thinking of that, I wonder why I should keep you around anyway."

"I can go, if you wish."

"And work against me? No, I'd kill you first."

Obsidian sighed. "Why do all the people always want to kill me?"

"Hm?" Queen Beryl looked questioningly at him. He belonged to her family, so offing him was her privilege. "Who else wants to kill you?"

"The other Kings, the Senshi..."

"Hm-hm. Any why didn't you capture them when you were near enough that they could try to kill you?"

"Alone against four or five? You're kidding!"

"You could always call some youma for help."

"If they decide to come. They don't obey as they should."

"I guess I should start a new brainwashing session," Beryl grumbled.

Celestine sighed. Her knee began to hurt, but she didn't dare move until Beryl had dismissed her.

"I don't think the youma are of much help anyway."

"Then do it without their help - but do it!"

"But I need someone who helps me," Obsidian nagged.

"Well, Celestine, you will help Obsidian. Go now, both of you. And remember - I expect results. Soon!"

"Great, just what I missed," Obsidian muttered under his breath. Now he had to drag this stupid twit around.

* * *

"Isn't he just gorgeous?" Makoto shouted over the applause when her favourite rikishi threw his opponent out of the ring.

"He's very skillful in finding the center of gravity of his adversary to throw him over," Ami nodded.

"I'm hungry," Usagi nagged. "How long do we have to stay here?"

"Hush, I want to hear the referee's announcement," Makoto chided her.

Suddenly a beam of light hit the referee in his ornamented robe, and he began to grow and change into horrible youma form.

"A youma! This is an attack of the Dark Kingdom," Usagi screamed.

"We should transform," Minako suggested. Fortunately they weren't very far in front of the sports hall as they didn't have money to afford tickets better than for the last rows, and so they could transform without being noticed too much.

When they were clad in their Sailor suits, SailorJupiter looked at the youma. "I'm pretty peeved," she declared. "You're disturbung a sumo contest and spoiling me the fun. In the name of Jupiter I will punish you!"

"Well, I'm no fan of sumo," SailorMercury explained. "But this is a matter of principle. In the name of Mercury I will punish you!"

"It's mean to disturb athletes when they are trying to win a contest," SailorVenus remarked. "In the name of Venus I will punish you!"

"There's Endymion!" SailorMoon shouted and hearts blinked in her eyes. "My Tuxedo Kamen!"

"Shut up and let's attack," SailorMars growled at her and directed a blast of her Fire Soul at the youma.

The youma returned the fire, while Endymion watched from above.

"Endymion!" SailorMoon sighed once more and couldn't rip her eyes from him.

Makoto shook his head and let a Supreme Thunder bolt fly at Endymion. They had to weaken him so that SailorMoon could attempt to heal him.

Unfortunately he floated elegantly to the side so that her bolt missed him by some feet. "You'll never get me with such ridiculous attacks, little girls," he taunted the Senshi.

"Ridiculous?!" SailorMars almost exploded and changed the target. Endymion had to be taught that she had to be reckoned with. "Take this!"

Of course he evaded again and wasn't there anymore when her Fire Soul slashed through the air. "Is that all you can do?" he laughed.

"Senshi!" SailorMars looked from one to the other. "Let's join our forces!"

"But... We can't do that! He's our Tuxedo Kamen after all," SailorMoon whined and looked tearfully at SailorMars.

Endymion laughed again and sent an energy blast in the middle of them. The girls jumped apart.

"Now you're making me really angry," Mars grumbled and returned a Fire Soul salvo.

"Little girls should better play with dolls," Endymion stated while his youma continued to collect energy from the frightened audience.

* * *

Jadeite still strolled through the city in search of youma or signs of Queen Beryl. As he spread out his senses, he felt a suspicious energy outbreak in the sports hall. When he checked it, he discovered that Endymion and a youma were involved in a battle with the Sailor Senshi.

The blonde King called his colleagues telepathically. Maybe they could challenge Endymion here and get rid of another obstacle on the way to overthrow Queen Beryl.

Kunzite agreed and let go of Zoisite for a change to teleport to Jadeite's location. When there was a battle going on, its energy emissions should easily mask the jump.

Nephrite decided to follow as well, maybe Naru was in the vicinity and he could capture her and free her from Beryl's influence.

"So where are they?" Kunzite asked. They stood in front of the sports hall.

"In there." Jadeite pointed at the building. "There's only one youma with him."

"One youma and Endymion? That means they're toast," Zoisite grinned evilly and floated into the air.

"I hope so," Jadeite said, not so convinced. Obviously Endymion had managed to keep the five Senshi at bay till now.

"Let's get in there before Endymion flees," Nephrite suggested.

Kunzite looked at the three men. "Actually, I would suggest we try to capture Endymion. We could brainwash him and turn him against Queen Beryl."

"What do you want of this idiot?" Nephrite asked contemptously.

"I knew it - you do like him," Zoisite fumed. "I will kill him to eradicate this temptation."

"Zoisite, it's not what you're thinking," Kunzite hurried to say. "I love only you, my little rat - Endymion doesn't interest me at all."

"And why do you want to brainwash him if that's the case?" Zoisite sulked.

"Well, we can use him as powerful cannon fodder," Kunzite said.

"I don't want to have Endymion anywhere in my vicinity," Nephrite declared.

"Neither do I!" Suddenly Zoisite looked at Nephrite in shock. "Yuck, I actually agreed with you? That's gross."

"I vote for killing him as fast as possible," Jadeite interjected.

Kunzite looked from one to the other. This was a pretty difficult situation he had maneuvered himself into. If he changed his opinion now, no one would respect him anymore, that was for sure. But on the other hand, he absolutely didn't want to face Zoisite's anger when he went through with his intent to brainwash Endymion.

"Yeah, kill him," Zoisite chimed. "No, let's torture him first," he said.

Kunzite's mood lightened. That was his cue. To torture him, Endymion had to be alive, first. And then he could still try to convince the others to brainwash him. "Yeah, that's just what I had in mind, too, when I said we should capture him," he claimed. This should at least placate Zoisite.

Nephrite and Jadeite looked at him in confusion. "Pardon?" Did Zoisite's bloodthirst and cruelty finally rub off on Kunzite?

"Well," Kunzite tarried. "Ah well, we have to act fast, before Endymion has a chance to disappear!" Without further ado, he teleported into the sports hall.

"Did you also have the impression that Kunzite fled?" Nephrite asked Jadeite thoughtfully.

"I agree," Jadeite nodded.

"Never!" Zoisite declared. "Kunzite-sama isn't afraid of anything!"

"That's not quite true," Jadeite grinned. "He's seems to be afraid of you sometimes."

"Well, that's something different." Zoisite grinned smugly and followed his lover.

"Let's go, before there's nothing left for us," Nephrite suggested, and Jadeite and he teleported after the others as well.

Kunzite floated under the roof, Zoisite by his side, and found the sight highly amusing.

SailorMars shot a continous barrage of Fire Soul attacks at Endymion, but he evaded them effortlessly, taunting her for her failures. SailorJupiter wasn't any more successful either.

SailorMoon whined all the time how SailorMars could be so cruel trying to hurt Endymion, while SailorVenus and SailorMercury tried to take care of the youma. Someone had to do something productive, they decided.

"And what do you wish to do now, my Lord?" Zoisite asked Kunzite, floated to him and kissed him on the cheek. Nephrite and Jadeite appeared in their vicinity and waited for Kunzite's decree. Jadeite looked at the Senshi and thought that at least the Mars girl made a pretty good figure with her attacks.

"I'd say we capture Endymion and then you can do with him as you please, little rat," he decided and looked down at the dark-haired prince. "Endymion," he called. "I'd like you to accompany us." Kunzite held out his hand and black energy shot at Endymion and engulfed him.

"You wouldn't dare," Endymion shouted and hurled a series of curses and insults at Kunzite.

The Senshi looked at Kunzite in shock, and as Endymion couldn't move at the moment, SailorMars managed to shoot one of her blasts right at the target and hit Endymion's backside full center.

When he saw that, Zoisite laughed gleefully. "Good shot, SailorMars," he applauded.

The black-haired Senshi looked up to him disgustedly. "Zoisite, I don't need your praise. But maybe you need some of my Fire Soul?"

"Forget it, you won't hurt me anyway," the pretty man grinned. "You tried before and didn't succeed!"

"Let's go somewhere else," Kunzite suggested and opened a doorway to Paris. When they hid Endymion in this area with its warped energy lines, it would be difficult for anyone from the Dark Kingdom to get through to him and save him.

The End of Pt.15 - Goto Pt.16

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