The Great Hunt

(Tales from the Dark Kingdom - Pt.12)

© 1997/11/08 by Stayka deyAvemta & Shavana Rhea


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Queen Beryl had pondered quite a while on the last occurences in the Earth Realm. There seemed to be a big, unknown enemy who thwarted her intentions to collect enough energy to revive the great ruler of the Dark Kingdom.

First the enemy had managed to put Europe under some kind of screen - well, at least the energy flows in the region were that warped that conjuring or working energy had become difficult to impossible - and now the enemy had struck in North America as well. Fortunately there only the region around Hollywood was energy-warped, but still it was a nuisance.

She called her most powerful minions Kunzite and Nephrite with their students who had witnessed the attacks of the enemy firsthand.

After only a couple of minutes, the four men materialized and bowed before her.

"At your service, my Queen," they said almost simultaneously.

"I have a task for you. You will find the enemy that has thwarted our energy collecting missions in Paris and Hollywood, and you will destroy him, her or them immediately."

Kunzite exchanged a look with Nephrite. They had invented this enemy to cover some mistakes and get out of a boring task. This promised to become a fun assignment.

"Your wish is my command, Queen Beryl," Kunzite said mechanically, and the others replied something similar. "We will aspire to fulfill the task to the fullest."

Obsidian looked from Nephrite to Kunzite and back. He didn't understand how this should work.

Queen Beryl dismissed them, and they immediately teleported back into their quarters.

* * *

Kunzite was partly relieved that they didn't have to continue their dull energy harvesting sessions, partly he wondered how they could manage to deceive Queen Beryl successfully.

"Kunzite-sama," Zoisite began hesitantly. "What are we going to do now?"

"We will visit Nephrite," the older King decreed. "When we have to fight a non-existing enemy, we need to work out something together - such as a little mock-fight, for example."

"Ah, I see. And when Nephrite and Obsidian die along the line, then it's solely the fault of that big bad enemy." Zoisite looked admiringly at his partner. Kunzite chuckled. His lover was as eager to finish off Nephrite as usual.

"Let's wait a little while with that, little rat. First we have to stage a convincing fight." They teleported to Nephrite's and rang at the door.

Nephrite was sitting down comfortably with a glass of wine and thinking about how one could simulate the big enemy that Beryl presumed to be around when the door bell sounded.

He got up wondering who might disturb him in his meditations and opened the door.

"Surprise, surprise!" Zoisite grinned, and Nephrite grimaced.

"What do you want?"

"Well, you know our enemy as well as we do," Kunzite said without preamble, "and you know the problem we now face."

"So what?"

"Well, I thought, maybe we could work out a way together how we can solve the problem."

"Maybe."

"I won't discuss this in front of the door."

Nephrite stepped aside to let them in. When they entered, Zoisite grinned at him wickedly, just for good measure. The auburn-haired King chose to ignore him. It was useless to get upset because of Zoisite; the small man would only view this as another success in annoying him.

"Well," Kunzite began when he had taken place in an armchair. "We could set up a mock-fight in Europe - me and Zoisite against you and Obsidian."

Zoisite sat down on the armrest and started to play with Kunzite's long, silvery white hair.

"Very funny," Nephrite stated.

"Why? That way we can easily make Beryl believe that there is a dangerous enemy."

"Sure, but of course it would also be a nice opportunity for you to eliminate someone..."

"If you think you are too weak to stand against us it's a pity." Kunzite pulled Zoisite onto his lap.

Nephrite gave him an angry glare. "There is no question that I would lose a direct fight against you, especially as you are two against me alone."

"And what about Obsidian?"

"Obsidian doesn't count."

"I've seen him at the training range yesterday when he thought he was unobserved. He's better than you'd think," Kunzite remarked.

"I don't believe it." Nephrite shook is head. Obsidian was incompetence personified. "Furthermore I won't trust him to actually back me up."

"That I can understand," Kunzite agreed and smiled affectionately at Zoisite. Fortunately he had someone to trust, even though much of it relied on a certain oath he had forced on him.

"Poor Nephrite," Zoisite said mockingly and snuggled closer to Kunzite.

"You shut up," Nephrite growled.

"Please, little rat," Kunzite said and caressed his cheek. "And you should refrain from adressing Zoisite in such a rude manner," he told Nephrite coldly.

"Don't worry, your sweetheart won't come to grief."

"Well, I don't fear for him..." Kunzite had noticed how Zoisite grinned malevolently at Nephrite and wrapped his arms around him to prevent any surprise attack. "You see, we have to stage some fireworks so that Queen Beryl believes we're involved in a big fight."

"Unfortunately I have to admit that you're right," Nephrite said inexuberantly.

"Indeed." Absently, Kunzite played with Zoisite's hair. "I suggest you call Obsidian and we devise a plan."

"If you say so." Nephrite called Obsidian, but his pupil seemed to have lot of time.

"Your student seems to be rather disobedient," Zoisite taunted. "You might consider training him better."

"If that was so easy," Nephrite sighed, more to himself.

"What about torturing him a bit?" the fourth of the Kings suggested. "I'd love to assist you with that."

"Unfortunately I'm not allowed to."

"You're not allowed to? Who said that?"

"Queen Beryl."

"Well, she hasn't told me that I'm not allowed to torture him," Zoisite mused.

"Do it," Nephrite said. "I won't hinder you."

"No? Great!" Zoisite's emerald eyes lit up.

"Zoisite," Kunzite warned. "If Obsidian is actually under the protection of Queen Beryl it might be unwise to hurt him."

"Awwww Kunzite-sama, you're a spoil-sport," he pouted.

At last Obsidian had found the way to Nephrite's house and rang. His mentor opened, but didn't comment on his tardiness. The violet-haired man was surprised. No dressing down? Was Nephrite ill?

When he entered the house, he discovered Kunzite and Zoisite. He frowned - what was going on?

"Hello Obsidian," Zoisite said sulkily, while Kunzite greeted him with a grin, before he turned his attention back to Zoisite and stroked the coppery golden hair.

"Hi," Obsidian replied and gazed from them to Nephrite.

"We have to work together once more," Kunzite announced. Zoisite grimaced, but stayed silent.

"Do we have to?" Obsidian made a face.

"Indeed. You have heard that Queen Beryl sent us to overcome the 'great enemy' in Europe, didn't you?"

"Sure," Obsidian said. "So what? The enemy doesn't exist."

"That's the point. We have to simulate a fight that convinces even Queen Beryl. My suggestion is that my - err, Zoisite and I stage a fight against Nephrite and you."

"No thanks."

"What's the problem?"

"It's way too dangerous."

"Coward," Zoisite remarked.

"So what?" Obsidian folded his arms and returned Zoisite's gaze.

"You are absolutely unworthy to belong to the troops of the Dark Kingdom."

"I never wanted to belong to them."

"Then why are you here?" Zoisite squinted his eyes.

"Queen Beryl wants it."

"What is that between you and our beloved Queen?" Zoisite wanted to know.

"That's nothing of your business!"

"Oh, do you have the honour to warm her bed?"

"Do I ask you where you sleep?"

"Oh dear, as if that wasn't obvious by now!" Zoisite grinned and gave Kunzite an affectionate look. "So, are you her little plaything, Obsidian?"

"No."

"Hm. And still she protects you?" Zoisite frowned. "Are you by chance her illegitimate son?"

"Who gave you that weird idea?"

"Well, if one looks carefully, there is a certain family resemblance..."

Kunzite followed the dialogue with fascination.

"Utter bullshit!" Obsidian shook his head. "I don't resemble her more than any of you."

"Well, there are your eyes," Kunzite remarked. The red glow he had seen on the training range the last day had reminded him a bit of Beryl.

"You're nuts."

"There has to be a reason that she protects you," Zoisite commented.

"But that doesn't have to mean that I know it."

"Oh. But I don't believe you that you don't know it."

Obsidian shrugged. "That's fine with me." He turned to Nephrite and Kunzite. "Why do you want to stage a fight anyway?"

"Because of the energy emissions," Kunzite explained. "If we only sit around idly, no one will believe that we fight a powerful enemy." He buried his face in Zoisite's silky hair and inhaled its fragrance.

"And why do you want us to fight against each other?" Obsidian asked.

Kunzite looked up again. "Because it amuses me. - Well, are you with us?"

"Can I refuse?" Obsidian sighed.

"Actually, it's Nephrite's decision," Kunzite remarked, while Zoisite was content to sit in his lap and enjoy his nearness.

"Okay," Nephrite said. "So that it looks real."

"Good. Then we should meet tomorrow. Until then we have other matters to attend to."

"Obviously." Obsidian gazed at the sweet picture that Kunzite and Zoisite portrayed.

"I suggest we meet after breakfast," the first of the Kings declared.

"What about an exact time?"

Kunzite set a time that was short before lunch, just to be sure.

"Oh-oh. Then I would have come several hours too early," Obsidian stated.

"We use to take our breakfast a little later. - Until tomorrow," Kunzite said. He waved his hand and created a doorway to his house, before he stood up, Zoisite on his arms, and went to his home.

"Bye..." Nephrite muttered. When they were gone, Obsidian disappeared as well, and Nephrite could turn back to his wine again.

* * *

"I..."

"If you start once more with 'I hate it' I have no alternative than to spank you for a change," Kunzite threatened with a grin.

"Oh no, you wouldn't do that, would you?" Zoisite gave him his best I'm-so-small-and-weak-and-have-to-be-protected look and kissed him.

"Try me..." There was a rather determined sparkle in Kunzite's platinum eyes. "So stop your nagging around - and blasting pieces of my furniture - and get into your uniform. It's almost time."

Of course Obsidian arrived exactly at the appointed time, and while Zoisite still enjoyed his morning shower, Kunzite was already properly dressed and opened the door.

"I'm ready to go," Obsidian announced.

"I can see that," Kunzite observed and finished brushing his glossy, silvery white hair. "Zoisite?" he called.

"Just a moment," it sounded from upstairs.

"He always seems to be late," Obsidian commented.

"Often," Kunzite sighed. A flurry of cherry blossoms turned into Zoisite who brushed the long, silky strands of his hair and counted. He had just reached 172.

"What are you doing?" Obsidian asked with fascination.

"176... - Well, I have to do at least 200 strokes to make my hair look best," Zoisite explained. Obsidian fished for a strand to examine it.

"Hey!" Kunzite objected. "He's mine!"

"All I did was look," Obsidian sulked.

"Well? It's perfect, isn't it?" Zoisite said proudly before he dutifully went over to Kunzite. "177..." About two minutes later Zoisite wore his usual ponytail again.

"Where's Nephrite?" he wanted to know.

"Late as usual," Obsidian stated.

"Obviously," Kunzite remarked and admired the coppery golden locks of his beloved.

When Nephrite materialized, he looked around astonishedly. "Oh, you are already prepared to start?"

"As you can see..."

"Then let's go!"

Kunzite waved his hand and created a doorway that led them to Paris again. It was rather straining, he discovered, to build a gate that reached through the warped energy flows of the continent.

When they had passed the doorway, Zoisite wrinkled his nose. "Somehow the flows feel really wrong."

"Indeed," Obsidian agreed. "Isn't that dangerous?"

"Well, at least we can't do any more damage here," Kunzite said dryly.

"That's true."

"In the worst case we can board a plane and fly to a place where the energy flows are still sound," Zoisite said when he had found that he wasn't able to open a doorway from here to anywhere, and teleporting didn't work either.

"And what are we going to do now?" Obsidian asked curiously.

"What about a little game of hide and seek?" Zoisite asked. "We hide and you try to find us, and when we see you we try to blast you."

"If you think that's a good idea," Obsidian said.

"Whatever you say," Nephrite added utterly devoid of enthusiasm.

"You should remember that conjuring things doesn't work here anymore, little rat."

"You mean..." Zoisite held out his hand and squealed in shock. "No ice crystals!"

"That's too bad." Obsidian frowned. This meant he wasn't able to conjure anything either.

"Lord Kunzite, you will protect me, won't you?" Zoisite wrapped his arms around Kunzite's waist and looked hopefully up to him.

"Of course, my little rat." He stroked the young man's hair.

"Why don't you go about and hide," Obsidian nagged.

Kunzite gazed at him angrily before he opened a new doorway and stepped through with Zoisite. It was really difficult, he thought, and it was also much more tiring than usual. He estimated that he was able to open a maximum of about six doorways until his energy reserves were dangerously depleted.

Obsidian waited impatiently, while Nephrite studied his fingers. One try with summoning the energies for opening a doorway had convinced him that it was foolish to squander his powers that way. He wasn't as powerful as Kunzite and even when he managed to build a gate it would leave him dangerously low in energy. He thought that his pupil could do something for a change when he was as motivated as it seemed.

Kunzite and Zoisite chose to go to a restaurant first. Short range telekinesis still seemed to work well enough, and after they had organized some money, they ordered a nice meal and wondered when the fireworks would start. Even when he couldn't conjure ice crystals, he was still able to invoke his energy attacks, Zoisite discovered with satisfaction.

When Zoisite and Kunzite were gone, Obsidian took out his locator crystal and tried to find them. Fortunately their energy patterns shone even through the warped natural fields of the area, and he got a bearing. Unfortunately they had to cross the whole town to get to them, and Nephrite refused to open a doorway, so they had to rely on public transport.

"Well, and what do you propose now?" Zoisite asked when they had left the restaurant.

"We could do a little sight-seeing," Kunzite suggested. "The Eiffel tower is a main tourist attraction, if I remember correctly." He only hoped that Zoiste didn't insist on strolling through the Parisian boutiques again.

"Whatever you wish is my command." Affectionately Zoisite looked up to him and waited for him to open a doorway. To his surprise he started to walk. "Kunzite-sama?"

"It's too tiring to open doorways. As long as they aren't necessary we will walk," he explained.

"Are you serious??"

"Yes, little rat. Come."

With a curse Obsidian saw that his target moved. It seemed the hunt would take longer than expected as they couldn't reach them fast enough without being able to teleport or follow them by doorway. He only hoped that Kunzite also had to resort to mundane matters of transport, or they would never catch them.

Nephrite wasn't eager to catch up with them, and so he let Obsidian his way. He wasn't overly keen on the mock fight with Kunzite as he didn't trust Zoisite to leave it at a mock fight.

When they had reached the Eiffel tower, they took the elevator and lifted up to the platform.

"Great view," Zoisite commented, while Kunzite tried to sense Nephrite and Obsidian.

"Our pursuers come nearer," he observed.

After they had enjoyed the view a little longer, they set out on the way to the next tourist attraction, the Louvre. They definitely had the better part of the action when they set the pace. Obsidian and Nephrite certainly wouldn't find much time to admire the sights.

When Obsidian had located them at the Eiffel tower, he immediately ran in the direction, Nephrite, who vividly cursed, trailing along. They couldn't remember having run around on foot so much before.

The violet-haired man was frustrated. Whose idea was it anyway that they had to play the hunters?

Nephrite leaned to a wall and tried to regain his breath. He should train some more, he found, but his pupil didn't intend to grant him any reprieve. Now he seemed to run in another direction...

They came nearer to their targets, Obsidian thought with satisfaction. Now they were only about one mile away. Unfortunately Nephrite got slower and slower. His mentor definitely shouldn't drink that much.

"They're coming closer," Kunzite observed.

"Well, maybe we could go faster?" Zoisite pointed to the entrance to the métro. They followed the stream of people that went underground and took the first train that arrived (they didn't have much choice as they still didn't understand any French).

When they departed, they found that they had covered quite some distance in a considerably short time. Unfortunately they were even farther from the Louvre now, if they understood the pictures on the map correctly.

Kunzite decided that they had to try another train.

Obsidian cursed loudly when he followed their movements via his crystal. They were much too fast, and they had taken even another direction. They would never catch up with them, especially when Nephrite refused to go on any further.

Maybe they should look out for some matter of transport. Kunzite and Zoisite seemed to have found something... Obsidian had discovered the métro as well, but as he couldn't read the signs he had no chance to catch the right train. What could he do?

Finally he dragged his exhausted mentor to a café. Maybe they got an idea while relaxing with a good cup of coffee.

Kunzite and Zoisite had reached just another corner of Paris, but they still weren't any closer to the Louvre than before. Zoisite sulked and clung to Kunzite's arm. Not much later they also sat in a nice little café, sipped coffee and ate some cake, while Zoisite tried to convince Kunzite to open a doorway that took them directly to the Louvre.

Nephrite shook his head and stated that he would go no further. The other Kings certainly would come by sooner or later, so why should they run around and try to catch them?

Obsidian grumbled, but he found no means to convince his mentor to get up again. It was unfair - this was no proper hunt. But he didn't dare follow the others alone as they were much too dangerous adversaries for him alone.

Two hours later Kunzite had given in, and they had gone to the Louvre via doorway. Actually he hadn't done it so much to please his lover, but more to give his feet a rest. Normally he preferred to float around, but in this warped energy field it was best to preserve as much energy as possible for the really important feats.

They stayed in the huge museum and admired the artworks and other exhibits until it was closed. Fortunately there was still no sign of Nephrite and his pupil as Kunzite would have hated to put the beautiful exhibits in the Louvre in danger. Maybe he should take one or the other piece back home, he thought.

When Obsidian discovered that Kunzite and Zoisite didn't go any further, he tried to move Nephrite into action, but the second of the Kings refused to continue the pursuit.

The young man was frustrated and decided to get back to the hunt on his own, danger be damned. Better this than boredom, he thought.

"Kunzite-sama, can we go back home now?" Zoisite pleaded. "We can tell Queen Beryl that our enemy was really cunning and hid before us..."

"Good." Kunzite closed his eyes and located Nephrite. The other King was alone and didn't move, while Obsidian was somewhere else. He opened a doorway to Nephrite, and they went through.

"Hi," Zoisite said cheerfully and waved at his dearest enemy. "We are going to finish for today." He turned back to Kunzite and gazed at him with affection.

"Okay," Nephrite replied. "I'm fed up with the job anyway."

"Where did you leave your pupil?" Kunzite inquired.

"I don't know. He wanted to search for you on his own."

"I fear we have to wait for him - or do you want to leave him in Paris? I don't think he is able to open a doorway from here to the Dark Kingdom." Kunzite sighed. He would be glad if he got out of this area; when he was back home he would lie down, relax and enjoy Zoisite's companionship.

"I refuse to wait for Obsidian. I think it serves him right to stay here for the night," Nephrite declared.

"Well, he's your student." Kunzite certainly wouldn't leave Zoisite alone for a whole night.

"I don't think anything will happen to him," Nephrite said. "I'm going to enjoy the solitude without having to fear Obsidian's intrusion..."

"Whatever you say." Kunzite opened a doorway - the fifth for today - that brought them into his house. Nephrite immediately set out to his quarters, as he was still pretty tired, while Kunzite and Zoisite decided to use the spare time to further their relationship.

* * *

When Obsidian discovered that Nephrite had left him along in the strange city, he became really angry. This was more than unfair. What could he do? He was definitely not strong enough to open a doorway, but he didn't want to stay in Paris either.

Suddenly he remembered Zoisite's comment. He only had to leave the region with the warped energy flows, and then opening a doorway should be no problem anymore. Now the only question was - how could he manage to get far enough away from Paris?

* * *

"A-hem, Kunzite-sama," Zoisite said surprisingly. "Haven't we forgotten something? - We should report to Queen Beryl before we go to sleep..."

"Err, well, I fear you're right..." Kunzite grimaced. He desperately needed some time to replenish his energy reserves.

When they materialized in the audience chamber, they met an impatient Queen Beryl who immediately demanded a report.

"My Queen, unfortunately our enemy is cunning, and it's not possible to open doorways in Paris," Kunzite claimed. "We still try to localize him or them."

"I hope you will be successful real soon," Beryl demanded sternly.

"We will do our best, Your Majesty." They both cast down their eyes and bowed before the majestic red-haired woman.

"Of course you will. You are dismissed." She waved her hand, and they teleported back to Kunzite's house. Finally they had the rest of the day for themselves...

Queen Beryl waited for a while, but when Nephrite didn't appear on his own, she called him and his pupil telepathically. Only Nephrite appeared. Obsidian was nowhere to be sensed.

When the auburn-haired King materialized, he was greeted by a furious outbreak of his Queen who demanded to know where he had left Obsidian.

"Well, there was this wild pursuit," Nephrite started and told her a chaotic tale of the horrible enemy who was so adept in hiding and leading them into traps and ambushes that they unfortunately got separated. He promised to go back immediately and bring back his student.

Beryl frowned and wondered why Kunzite's report had been much less violent. Well, as long as Nephrite brought back Obsidian it was okay.

"And if you don't bring him back, I'll put you to eternal sleep, enclose you in crystal and shoot you into the farthest reaches of deep space," she threatened.

Nephrite looked properly chastened and teleported out of the audience chamber to think. He didn't like it at all that he was supposed to return to Paris, especially when he had to be careful with his energy. After a short thinking break, he made up his mind to involve Kunzite in the Obsidian retrieval operation.

* * *

After the tenth sound of the door, Kunzite finally decided to get out of the bed. Zoisite pouted that he dared to leave him alone when they had just made themselves comfortable.

Kunzite looked for his house coat and found it under a heap of other clothes. He really should tidy up this mess in the bedroom once in a while... Finally he was prepared to open the door.

"You took quite some time," Nephrite stated and examined Kunzite with amusement. The tall man wore nothing but a shimmering, light blue house coat, and his long, silvery white hair was tousled.

"Be glad that I opened at all," Kunzite said coolly. "What do you want?"

"Your support, of course."

"Pardon?" Kunzite looked incredulously at him. "Zoisite will kill you first..."

"It doesn't matter if he kills me or Queen Beryl, I'd say."

"What's going on?" Zoisite floated down the stairs. He also wore a house coat, his in snowy white. "Nephrite! I'll kill you!"

"Well, you have to line up for that."

"Huh?!" Zoisite landed next to Kunzite and immediately snuggled close to him.

"Well, if I don't find Obsidian as fast as possible, I'll get fried by Queen Beryl."

"Fine," Zoisite said irritably. That was why he had disturbed them? "The less work for me."

"And then Kunzite will be ordered to teach Obsidian as well," Nephrite threatened. "I'm sure he wouldn't have much time for you anymore."

Utter shock showed in Zoisite's emerald eyes. "I won't allow that!"

"It seems we have no alternative but to help him, my little rat," Kunzite said and regretfully caressed Zoisite's cheek and throat.

"Right." Impatiently Nephrite paced up and down.

"We have to dress first," Kunzite decreed.

"Agreed." Nephrite grinned. The two Kings running around dishevelled, barefoot and in house coats would give a ridiculous picture.

They teleported upstairs and managed to return only twenty minutes later, now properly dressed in their uniforms, although Zoisite still worked on his hair.

Nephrite had started to pace up and down again. He wanted to find Obsidian as fast as possible, so that he could get his well-earned repose.

Finally Zoisite had remade his ponytail and looked reproachfully at Nephrite.

"Are you ready?" Nephrite urged.

"No," Zoisite grumbled and gazed longingly at his lover. Kunzite smiled in return, but opened another doorway. The silver-haired King connected the gate to their exit point in Paris and grimaced as he felt his energy being drained. When they had reached the town, he probably would be able to create one more doorway, but that would be all unless he got proper rest.

Nephrite ran through the gate. He was in a hurry.

Kunzite and Zoisite followed him without haste. It was too bad that he couldn't his regenerate his energy down here, Kunzite thought worriedly. He hoped that he wouldn't need to do much magickal work, or they would have a severe problem getting home.

Nephrite tried to home in on Obsidian. His student seemed to be just at the other side of Paris, and moved in the direction of the airport, if he remembered the map of the town correctly.

"Well?" Kunzite asked. He had decided not to waste any energy sensing around.

"He seems to be at the airport."

"Well, I can't open another doorway if we want to get back to the Dark Kingdom after we'll have finished here."

"Well, I don't think I can do it, either," Nephrite admitted. "We have to find another way."

* * *

Routinely Obsidian checked his locator crystal. Interesting. Nephrite was back, and he had even brought Kunzite and Zoisite with him.

He wondered what this was supposed to mean. Had his mentor decided not to leave him alone in Paris after all? Or had he returned at the command of Queen Beryl who had noticed him missing?

The second possibility seemed to be much more probable, and so he decided not to make it to easy for Nephrite to catch up with him. It would serve him pretty well to be forced to run after him for a while.

* * *

"Obsidian is your pupil - find a way," Kunzite said, and Zoisite gave Nephrite a highly annoyed look.

"I think we should take the métro." They went underground and looked for directions. Finally Nephrite discovered a sign where an icon showed a stylized airplane.

"Lead on, we will follow you," Kunzite grinned and put his arm around Zoisite's shoulders. He had absolutely no intentions to help Nephrite more than by opening the doorways to the Earth Realm and back.

Nephrite followed the signs and shortly after they actually reached the airport. Only Obsidian was gone.

"Lord Kunzite, I want to go home." Zoisite sulked and looked at him with his best miserable gaze.

"I know, little rat, but we still have to find Obsidian."

Nephrite concentrated and checked the area for his pupil. When he found him he groaned. Now Obsidian was on the other side of the town. This was definitely no accident.

"Well, where is he?" Kunzite asked.

"On the other side of the town..."

"We heard that before, didn't we?" Zoisite gave him an evil look.

"He's just there where we started."

"I'll kill him," Zoisite threatened. "No, that's too fast... I'll torture him slowly to death!"

"I think I might consider joining you," Nephrite grumbled. "But first we have to catch him."

"You have to catch him. We'll watch," Zoisite said maliciously.

"And how am I supposed to do that?"

"He's your student. Be creative," Kunzite grinned and buried his face in Zoisite's gold-copper hair. He loved the silky softness and fragrance of it. Mmh, this time he had used the peach shampoo...

Nephrite snarled something and tried to figure out Obsidian's next step, unfortunately to no avail. When he turned to Kunzite and Zoisite, he discovered that they were a little preoccupied at the moment.

The second of the Kings cursed and pursued his pupil who was always one step ahead, while the other two men trailed along. They were still a bit peeved because Nephrite had disturbed them by their favourite pastime when he had asked them to accompany him.

After one hour Nephrite still hunted Obsidian through Paris, and he became more and more angry. Zoisite wasn't happy either, but Kunzite took everything with his usual calm.

"Maybe we should try to lure him into a trap," Nephrite said thoughtfully.

"How?" Zoisite yawned. He wanted to get back into his bed. "Obsidian can locate us, and we are only three."

"Do you want to run after him for many hours more?"

"Well, why don't you call him and tell him he has to come immediately or we leave him for good?" Kunzite suggested.

"Oh yes, and we will simply declare it as an accident," Zoisite added and regretted that he couldn't conjure an ice crystal to underline the threat.

"I have called him already," Nephrite sighed. "He chose not to hear me - as usual. And by the way, I don't think Beryl will believe you the accident..."

"Not even when I tell her?" Zoisite batted his lashes in his best 'absolutely innocent' look.

"Are you kidding?"

"That's unfair," Zoisite pouted.

"Well, then it's up to me again," Kunzite commented fatalistically and called Obsidian. He should have done that before.

Only a couple of minutes later Obsidian appeared from the métro station and looked as innocent as Zoisite when he wanted to hide something. "You called me?" he asked.

Nephrite stared incredulously at his pupil, then to Kunzite and back to Obsidian.

"Yes. I called you," Kunzite said with dangerous calm. "Why did you ignore the call of your teacher?"

"I haven't heard anything," the violet-haired main claimed.

"Let's return home," Zoisite urged and looked at his partner.

"Good. I will leave the punishment to Nephrite."

Obsidian chose to ignore Nephrite, and the second King became more and more infuriated. On the other hand he would be glad to be back to the Dark Kingdom.

Kunzite took a deep breath and collected the rest of his energy to open the doorway back. When the dark gate appeared, he staggered slightly, and Zoisite tried worriedly to steady him. Kunzite had to be really near the end of his power when he allowed himself to show such weakness. Zoisite was rewarded with a thankful smile.

Nephrite was more than glad that he didn't have to open the doorway himself. When he was back he would need every ounce of energy to deal with Obsidian. He ushered his pupil through the gate.

Of course they appeared in Kunzite's house again.

Nephrite ordered Obsidian to appear punctually tomorrow morning to get his punishment, while he wanted to report Queen Beryl that they had retrieved him successfully.

When Nephrite and Obsidian were gone, Kunzite barely managed to get rid of his boots and his cape, before he fell fully exhausted into the bed and was immediately asleep.

Zoisite sighed disappointedly and joined him. He wasn't sure if he should rather punish either Nephrite or Obsidian for the ruined evening or better both of them together.

* * *

In the next morning Obsidian went punctually to Nephrite's quarters, and his mentor gave him a load of the tasks he hated most.

Unfortunately Beryl had forbidden him to punish Obsidian otherwise. Nephrite really wanted to know what kind of relationship they shared.

Of course this meant that Obsidian had to spend much more time on the training range today than in the last week combined.

He absolutely hated it. Target practice, dodging, tactics - it was sooooo boring. And as Nephrite carefully watched, he had to try to seem worse than he actually was. It was annoying.

* * *

When Kunzite woke in the morning, he still felt tired, and his power level was far lower than he would have liked. He discovered that he still wore his uniform, and Zoisite gazed at him rather poutily.

He smiled and gave him a kiss, before he got up to take a shower. Maybe this would help him to wake up fully...

Well, if not the shower, he thought, then Zoisite, who had just slipped into the shower bath to claim the attention he hadn't gotten the night before.

Finally they made their way to the training range as well, because Zoisite wanted to see how Obsidian was punished. Kunzite was still energetically exhausted and decided that he certainly wouldn't go to Paris today.

Obsidian had spent more than three hours now practicing. He was getting tired, but Nephrite didn't allow him any rest. Obviously he wanted to make an example of him.

"Good morning," Kunzite said. He tried to maintain his composure, but Zoisite was well aware that he wasn't in top condition. Even Nephrite noticed that Kunzite looked tired.

"Good morning."

"I suggest we skip our visit to Paris today," Kunzite said. Seven doorways in that warped energy field were too much even for him.

"I agree," Nephrite nodded. "Maybe we should choose another place?"

"The whole Middle European region is as warped, just as the area around Hollywood."

"But there are places that aren't that bad off."

"But I still want to replenish my reserves. You haven't done anything while we were there."

"I'm not as strong as you - I have to save my energies."

"Ah, and I'm supposed to exhaust myself?!"

"Well, now it's done, and I will take care that Obsidian won't run off again."

"I hope so," Kunzite said sternly. He had no problems to make anyone obey him if he wished.

Nephrite checked on Obsidian if he continued with his exercises. The young man still fired energy beams at the target, and the last shot only missed it by about three feet to the left.

When Zoisite noticed it, he decided to show-off a bit and hit his target with about a dozen ice crystals that all hit the exact center.

Obsidian was well aware of Zoisite and put the next shot about three feet above the target. As long as Nephrite watched he didn't want to appear too good.

Zoisite batted his lashes at the violet-haired man, before he returned to Kunzite who nodded approvingly.

Obsidian had the urgent need to stick out his tongue at Zoisite, but he didn't, as Nephrite would certainly use that as an excuse to let him practice even longer.

"I'll retire to my quarters now," Kunzite announced. "I just wanted to tell you that we'll continue tomorrow with our task, Nephrite. - And now I have other matters to attend."

"Me too," Zoisite grinned.

"Okay," Nephrite agreed. "Tomorrow at the usual time then." He turned his attention back to Obsidian and let him increase the difficulty of his exercises.

"Zoisite?" Kunzite looked at him invitingly, and for a change Zoisite opened the doorway, and they went home.

Kunzite returned to the bed, and Zoisite was really worried. He hadn't seen him that exhausted before. But on the other hand - Kunzite had opened seven doorways where he had not even come close to open one. Zoisite admired him duly.

Kunzite stretched out his arm, and one of the books about magickal effects floated from the shelf into his hand. While he relaxed he could as well try to find out if there was a way to work magick more efficiently within the warped flows.

Zoisite sighed. Even his best seductive efforts wouldn't keep Kunzite from studying when he had set his mind on researching something. So he crept to him into the bed and looked with him into the book. He could as well try to learn something, too.

The End of Pt.12 - Goto Pt.13


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