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What is a God?
"Rei! Calm down!" Jou's demand went on to be ignored when a slender hand forcefully connected with the side of his face.
"G-get out of my sight!" Rei screeched, her chest rising and falling rapidly. Rubbing his cheek, he looked pleadingly toward her with genuine remorse.
"I-I deserve that. Listen, I wish I could explain but I really can't say anything else right now. You gotta believe me I just really didn't have much of a choice and I wasn't think-"
"I said, leave!" The brunette roared, refusing to meet his eyes. Hands falling helplessly to his sides, Jou promptly grit his teeth and stormed back toward the manor. The sun was rapidly falling in the distance where the Fairy was now alone amongst a thicket of tall trees. Confusion, and perhaps a hint of betrayal, flickered across her features as she glared into the bark of a tree before her. Viciously kicking the inanimate object, she expelled an angry yelp the moment her boot slammed into the timber. Balling her hands into fists, she did nothing to halt the few stray tears that slid down her face.
"Did I just happen upon a lover's spat?" Rei whipped her head around, her dark locks following, and frowned deeply at the newcomer's unwelcome appearance. The immortal werewolf merely smirked, hands buried deep within the pockets of his coat with his back to the setting sun.
"No, that can't be right. You seem far too sensible to take a worthless mate," He spoke once more. Shifting his steps he moved to stalk a half circle around the fairy who watched him with a hateful glare.
"And on what basis do you think Prince Jounouchi is worthless? Any fairy would be honored to continue the Royal lineage." Rei spoke the words like they were burning her tongue. Seto responded with a chuckle from deep in his chest.
"That's a good point. So what's your excuse?" He said with a flash of mirth crossing his blue eyes.
"I don't know what you're talking about," The raven-haired beauty replied coolly but struggled to hold back the clench in her teeth. With one casual step he closed the comfortable distance between them and heavily occupied her space with his larger form. Attempting to step away, Rei's shoulders bumped into the surface of the tree the man had cleverly backed her into. She glowered up to the half smile that stretched across his lips when he sucked in a breath just above her hair.
"You air absolutely no pheromones in his presence," his voice rolled, "If I didn't know better I'd guess that the two of you are related or maybe you just really hate him." Seto lowered his face so that he could meet her angry stare. "It really is quite abnormal that there would be none at all, considering I can tell you've never had a mate by smell alone." Her amethyst orbs flooded with horror upon his growing grin. She launched her palms into his torso to push him away and gasped when he didn't budge. Amusedly, he grabbed her wrists and pinned them palm side down against the bark behind her.
"Let me go! I'll burn you to a crisp!" She roared, but his smirk didn't fade.
"That would be really difficult, since I've already observed you launch your flames from your palms and fingers, which are incapacitated at the moment."
"What do you want? What did you hear?" Worry flitted within her eyes when she asked the second question.
"I'm afraid I arrived only in time for the slap," he admitted. When he let go of her wrists, Rei immediately crossed them to form barrier between their two bodies. His smirk faded into a serious expression as he straightened to his full height.
"But if I were to guess I'd say the discussion revolved around whatever it is you fairies are trying to hide." Rei's face fell upon his words. "Or perhaps, you've only now been forced to believe what's been in front of your eyes the entire time."
"My life will always be sworn to protecting the Queen," The fairy spoke as she tossed her gaze away from him. "Regardless of how forbidden her associations may be. But I can't help but fear…" Trailing off, she met his emotionless eyes once more. "What he is- he could turn on her at any moment."
"You don't need to be concerned with that. Don't get me wrong," Seto spoke with a snarl, "I hate that blood-sucker, and when the opportunity arises I will take my revenge, but as far as Serenity is concerned... If those soul-less creatures are capable of anything akin to devotion, Yami has held that for her since the night they met."
"He wouldn't harm her? You're sure of it?" He reaffirmed with a short grunt. "That's a relief, I guess."
"But I'd caution you not to underestimate him," the werewolf spoke in a low voice. "He's no fool. He knows you all are trying, and failing miserably, to hide something concerning Serenity."
"I really don't know what you're talking about." She responded and stiffened when he paid her with a throaty laugh. Rei jumped slightly when his hand drifted against her shoulder and he leaned in toward her ear.
"You're really not a very good liar, either," he whispered huskily. The fairy swallowed when one of his long fingers drifted along her jaw and tilted her chip upward to look directly into his almost feral gaze.
"I could care less what it is. I'm only warning you out of courtesy," he continued quietly with a small smile tugging at his lips. "Keep it out of your mind, and if you should need any help distracting him, all you have to do is ask."
"Why would you help me? What's in it for you?" Dropping his hand away from her he leaned back and grinned.
"Oh I don't know. Seeing him continually frustrated is amusing, and after all, you and I- we are friends, aren't we?" Something about the were's smile appeared everything but innocently intentioned. Rei's eyes darkened suspiciously.
"Comrades, yes, but to be honest you've never come off to be the friendly type."
"Maybe that's it. We do seem to have that in common, don't we?" He taunted, and smirked when she unconsciously cracked a small smile. Turning away, he took a few steps and paused to look out toward the sun that had now fallen halfway past the horizon.
"Serenity and Minako were the first fairies I'd ever met before you and that other imbecile." Seto spoke of the Fae Prince scathingly. "From what I observed it seems the true fae are inclined to be attracted to those outside of their kind. I wonder why that is."
"W-wait, what?" Rei stammered but then suddenly blushed when the towering man tossed her a glance from over his shoulder. He laughed.
"Despite the knowledge you claim to have about the Earth's races, you seem surprised that a wolf with senses as experienced as mine wouldn't be able to detect what essentially is nothing more than simple chemistry." The heat in the Fairy's face grew upon his words. "Don't be so embarrassed. Since you can't perceive it yourself, I'll formally admit the feeling on my end is mutual. You seem set on ignoring more subtle communication. In a legitimate bout you can be certain I could out power your prince or any other opponent you may consider a suitable mate." Rei's eyes flew open wide when spoke that final word.
"I-I-" she stuttered in complete disbelief to the man who stood grinning back at her.
"Just consider my offer. You prefer this world to the Moon, don't you? Why not make it yours? You needn't worry about its dangers, not while at my side." Paying the shocked woman one last smile, he turned and walked toward the manor where the others were beginning to gather.
Serenity concentrated on the echo of footsteps as she and the unlikely companions made their way within the cavern at the base of the mountain. Complete silence conquered the group as an obvious tension plagued them. There had been some argument concerning who should be going to carry out the map's latest mission, but considering what had occurred a few nights before, the consensus was that it would be in everyone's best interests to stick together.
Besides still having not completely healed from the iron poisoning she had sustained recently, the ageless Queen was feeling utterly morbid about the task they were to complete. Compared to the burdens they had been ordered so far, and even to the ones made a thousand years ago, this one was the most horrifying and unsettling. In just three penned lines the magical item had ordered them to massacre two ancient dragons that lived within a precipice denoted as Cenotaph.
Jou walked just ahead of her with a torch in one hand. He was squinting toward the letters on the map as if he could decipher the ancient language he had been instructed in but never paid that much attention to in his schooling. Breathing out slowly, she tried to contain the fury she currently held for her sibling. What he had confessed to having let slip a few nights earlier was threatening her mind with persistent paranoia. Commanding her thoughts not to slide back to that memory, she focused on the dark aura that was pulsing beside her. Yami stuck to her side so closely that she could feel the heat pouring from his body within the chilly cave. Though she kept her eyes averted she could feel the presence of his intense gaze upon her even if it was just from his peripheral view.
The evening hadn't been filled with good news. Upon speaking with Yami earlier, she had discovered that a vampire - an "acquaintance" of his and Bakura's from long ago - had been the one to contract the elves to acquire him. Though he claimed to have taken care of it he suspected that the man, Marik, had been under the control of a Millennium item, and that the whole ordeal had been staged by Bakura, to announce to Yami that he had found and was making full use of the Millennium Rod.
"Hey, how come all the other instructions before had four lines and this one only has three?" The Prince rubbed the back of his head as he looked confoundedly upon the parchment.
"Maybe it's sick of giving stupid riddles and just cut to the chase this time." Honda responded with a shrug from where he strolled beside him.
"That's most likely not the case," Ra's voice boomed from ahead of them. He turned slightly to look back over his shoulder.
Upon seeing Ra's eyes, Serenity couldn't help but feel even more upset. This mission was unforgivable, and yet it absolutely had to be carried out if they were to be granted entrance into Babylonia. The great Dragon hadn't shown any distress upon understanding the order, but she couldn't help but worry what he felt about it. Ra was a very old creature. It was likely he knew the ones they were on their way to destroy. Perhaps they were even friends.
"Don't worry of such things," Yami's baritone voice interrupted her thoughts. Sighing lightly, she paid the mind intruder a sidelong glance and he focused his attention onto hers with conviction.
"He understands the situation and will have therefore forfeited any reluctance he might have had immediately." His red eyes appeared cold. The vampire clearly had little tolerance for anything other than his two current objectives: protect her at all costs, and complete the mission to move on.
"I know that," Serenity replied quietly, "it still doesn't stop me from worrying about his feelings." Before she could argue with him anymore her boot collided with an unyielding rock and she went tumbling forward, only to be caught by a lightning fast arm that hooked around her narrow waist. Her heart erupted in a fury of beats when she felt her back collide with the warm and solid front of the vampire's.
"Perhaps you should focus on walking rather than others." He whispered lowly into her ear in a manner that made the fairy shiver. She held back a gasp when she felt the tips of his heated fingers trail across her midriff as he shifted her to face him. His mouth was settled into a frown studying her with disapproval.
"You're still not at one-hundred percent." He commented, and though it was true, Serenity tried and failed to pull away from him.
"I'm fine," her voice cracked unconvincingly and the vampire refused to yield.
"Everything alright?" Mai questioned as she paused to look behind her where the fairy and vampire pair brought up the rear of the group.
"No," Yami replied as he moved to scoop Serenity unwillingly into his arms. "We're going back. You'll just have to finish this yourselves."
"Yami," Serenity protested and pushed against him. "This is the most dangerous mission we've had so far."
"Which is exactly why you aren't going on it."
"That is absolutely ridi-"
"Hey! There's something strange up here!" Endymion's voice cut into Serenity's retort. Turning to look ahead there appeared to be some kind of barrier blocking the way to further within the mountain.
"Stand aside, Endymion," Ra ordered and as soon as the Human King shuffled out of the way, he launched a powerful blast from his mouth, but the stone didn't move. "Magic, perhaps?" The dragon questioned aloud.
"You have got to be kidding me," Seto grumbled and stalked up toward the boulder and charged his shoulder into it with a battle cry. He unleashed a string of curses when the obstacle still didn't budge. Anzu rushed to her king's aid only to not be able to offer much help even with their combined strength. Honda just merely shook his head and Jou smirked in the annoyed werewolf's direction.
"Having a little trouble there, Seto? But I thought you were so strong." The Fae Prince taunted.
"Can it, wimp! Just be quiet, there's nothing a weakling like you could do to help besides just electrocute everyone in the process!" He howled back. Turning his angry blues where Yami stood placidly with Serenity in his arms he snarled.
"Well, are you going to be of any help blood-sucker?" Seto's roar echoed throughout the cave and Yami narrowed his eyes, contemplation etched onto his face. Serenity could tell he was considering just taking her and leaving but, against his better judgment, he gently set her on her feet. Sparing her a glance that ordered she stay put, he flashed toward the elder werewolf's side. With a clench of his bared teeth, he leveled his powerful fist into the thick rock and induced a large crack down the middle.
"Are you always going to need me to take care of you, Seto?" The vampire teased, flashing his fangs in a triumphant grin. Seto snarled and shoved his face directly into the other's.
"And I'm sure all the effort we've put into loosening it while you just stood there did nothing to assist you." He snapped sarcastically. As the two continued to provoke each other, Serenity noticed Hotaru's eyes drift to where the map was rolled up within Jou's hand. The parchment was glowing with a soft and pulsating light. When the Prince finally noticed it himself he quickly opened it and studied the foreign words.
"H-hey, Serenity. There's a fourth line being written." Rushing to the dirty blonde's side her silvery-blue eyes flicked across the penned calligraphy.
"A task to be completed with forces cut by half." She translated the last line aloud.
"What the heck does that mean?" Jou queried when suddenly a large gust sent both the siblings and a few of the others flying backward. Launching quickly into action, Jou wrapped his arms around his sovereign and broke her fall with his back colliding with the stone ground.
"Oof," he groaned, and allowed Serenity to quickly roll away from him and jump to her feet.
"What in the hell was that?" She heard Seto bellow. Focusing her eyes ahead her mouth fell upon a partially translucent barrier that separated she, Jou, Mai, Hotaru, and Honda from the rest. The golden-skinned dragon let out heavy sigh and Yami rushed to the edge of the magicked wall with a snarl. Serenity approached and let her hand drift across the vibrating surface. The vampire on the other side attempted to reach out for her and hissed when his hand connected with the surface.
"Use your abilities to take it down." Yami ordered with red eyes boring into her widened ones.
"Even if Serenity is able to, if she succeeds we'll only fail the map's instructions. It very clearly has separated us in order to force us to tactically choose which group will go on to face the adversaries within the mountain." Ra spoke up.
"Well that's an easy decision," Seto growled earning everyone's attention. "The majority of our combative force is on this side of the barrier. We'll go on to kill the dragons. The rest of you will stay." His solution seemed simple enough but Yami didn't budge from where he glowered toward Serenity at the other side. She knew him well enough to know he wasn't at all pleased with control over this situation being ripped from his grasp.
"So what are we supposed to do? Just hole up in this gross cave while you see all the action?" Mai pouted.
"No," Yami rumbled tearing his eyes away from Serenity and directed them toward Mai, "the house near here, you remember it?" Mai nodded. "Go there, and nowhere else, until we meet you."
"Alright." Mai replied. She stiffened when the other narrowed his eyes. He didn't need to speak to imply a threat if she should fail to get Serenity there safely. Though the map was believed to be a non-sentient item, its choice had strategically split a few emotional relationships as well as separated its more battle-ready members from the ones who were able to heal injuries.
"Be safe, Hotaru," Endymion waved to her from the other side, earning a curt nod from the youthful girl.
"Rei!" Jou called out urgently from the barrier where the fire-wielder stood away looking from him to the petite Queen at his side.
"Just look after Queen Serenity, I'll be fine." She responded shortly.
Turning her eyes back to Yami's, she noticed they had softened upon her, brimming with worry and frustration that there was no better solution to this situation.
"Serenity…" He whispered her name almost longingly and laden with all the promises of love and devotion he had spoken to her just a few evenings before. Letting her hand fall from his against the wall she regained control of her feelings and smiled toward him unconvincingly.
"I'll see you all in a little while, ok?" And not trusting herself to look back anymore, she turned with the other's filing behind to exit the eerie mountain.
"Queen Serenity," Hotaru broke the silence cradling the night. "Will King Endymion and the others be alright without us?" She asked worriedly.
"Yami, Seto and Ra are the most powerful beings I've ever known. I believe with all my heart that they, and the others, will return back to us safely." She spoke warmly to the girl who nodded and turned her gaze ahead. Truthfully, worry plagued the fairy's mind though she did her best to hide it. She prayed everyone would come back alive from the mountain, but the pit of her stomach still wrenched in apprehension. There was something about this situation that was very unsettling, though she couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was.
Concentrating on her surroundings as they approached a more heavily wooded area, a nostalgic feeling reigned within her senses. The smell of the air and the feeling of the soft ground beneath her feet gave her a strange sensation of déjà vu.
"Mai," Serenity called softly to the vampires who led ahead of them. "How far are we from Old Land Fae?"
"Just outside its official borders," the blonde responded and tossed her a glance from over her shoulder. "We're not far from our destination but perhaps we should move a little quicker. I can smell that elves have been here but I can't tell how recently." Pausing in her steps, she scanned over everyone stopping her eyes upon Hotaru. Pulling her mouth into a small smirk she held out her finger and curled it in a come-hither gesture.
"Come here girl," she spoke alluringly. "I'll have to carry you because you'll be to slow." Hotaru's eyes widened and she blushed when Honda promptly lifted her tiny form into his arms.
"Yeah right, like she'd want to be carried by some creepy vampire. I got it." He announced. Mai huffed.
"And that's what I get for trying to be nice." Shifting a hand to her waist she parted her lips to give further instruction but the words were silenced with a whoosh of flying objects cutting through the air.
It had all occurred so quickly that Serenity could barely perceive the ambush that befell on her and her comrades. Her disorient had kicked in immediately, and she struggled to move or react as quickly as she might have if she hadn't still be under the effects of her injuries. Though the strength of Mai and Honda should have alone been able to out power the attacking elves, their sheer numbers and organization among the trees had given them a huge advantage. Jou was rushing desperately to protect her frozen form, slashing his sword and sending electrifying bolts of attacks in a skewed direction.
A strangled cry shook Serenity from her trance, and she threw her attention to the source. Her heart thudded to a stop upon witnessing Mai having thrown her body over Hotaru's smaller one with several arrows sticking out of her back. Without a second thought she rushed over to them and crumbled to her knees, only to watch in horror as Mai was trying to force blood from her bitten wrist to the girl's lifeless mouth.
"She-she-" Mai started but Serenity quickly butted between them. With hovering hands over the girl she gritted her teeth and concentrated on healing her. Looking away from the injury gaping in her chest, she focused on the young one's hollow orbs and the sounds of growls and screams surrounding them suddenly became silent.
"Q-queen Serenity," Hotaru managed to utter as her eyes gazed up into the canopy of the warring trees. "You must be protected." The words left her in a whisper. Serenity's eyes flashed with panic and she focused every ounce of energy she could muster into healing the girl's wounds, but the light enveloping her hands dissipated. Her weakened arms fell, and the tears came quickly after. Serenity's will alone wasn't enough to save her upon having lost the stamina necessary to do so. The blonde barely fought back when a rough hand clamped over her mouth and pulled her into the body of another.
"She's the one." The male's voice affirmed and crumpled the weakened Fairy's small body within his arms. "Gather the captured. His majesty will want to account for all of them."
"Serenity," a feminine voice spoke softly. With a small groan, Serenity cracked her eyes open and quickly squeezed them shut again when they were greeted by blindingly bright light.
"Have you fallen asleep studying again, dear?" The familiar voice sounded again. Releasing a small laugh, the young fairy lifted her head from her arms and smiled cheekily toward her eternally beautiful mother.
"Care to remind me again why I need to know all this stuff?" The elder laughed gracefully in response. Everything the Queen of the Fae did was something to be admired. The way she carried herself with perfect elegance, or could bring light to even the darkest places, would leave those around her stunned in their marveling. The younger Serenity had always looked up to her, and that would never change.
Moving away from the table the platinum-haired sovereign paused to peel back the sheer curtains and gaze out into the sun that shone brightly into the afternoon.
"I suppose retaining all of this knowledge may seem overly laborious, but I'm afraid it's imperative that the precious heir to our Kingdom know all of it." She turned her silvery gaze upon her daughter with a small smile.
"Heir?" Serenity asked amusedly, "Have you forgotten that you're our eternal Queen? My father the forever exalted King? Don't think you can pass all of your responsibilities over to me so easily." She leaned her chin into the palms of her upturned hands, and blinked when her mother's smile faded and she turned back to the window.
"Immortality is never a guarantee, my sweet Serenity. Please, never forget how quickly even the most precious and innocent life can be stolen forever." Serenity frowned as she watched pain sweep through her mother's otherwise angelic features. Even though nearly thirty years had passed since her aunt – her dear cousin's mother – had been mercilessly slaughtered at the hand of the Elven King her death still affected the Queen at times as if it had only happened yesterday. Sitting back in her seat, Serenity wrought her hands together and focused on the form seated on the window sill.
The death of her mother's sister had changed everyone's lives, forever. The atrocious act had been meant to provoke the peaceful fairies into going to war over the Fae Lands, which was a highly coveted and beautiful place that the imperialist elves just couldn't resist. It had been a surprise to the entire Earth when all the fairies had chosen to leave rather than retaliate. Though the race had found a halcyon existence in their new kingdom, it was still somewhat bothersome to Serenity that in the end it seemed the elves had won and their horrendous deed had gone unpunished.
"You don't have to worry about that, mother," Serenity gently broke the silence. "There are no monsters in our home. Not anymore." Turning back to the student surrounded by books at a small table, the Queen smiled once again.
"Tell me, Serenity, do you ever miss it?"
"Miss what?" She asked as she goofily attempted to balance a pencil on the bridge of her nose.
"Earth." Letting the utensil fall to the table Serenity stared with her jaw hanging wide.
"N-no, of course not. I mean, I was only five when we left and this has really been the only home I've ever known." The young woman explained. When her mother's searching gaze didn't cease, she shrugged and crossed her arms against the bodice of her white dress.
"Well, I guess I do dream about it, sometimes." She admitted, to which her mother merely nodded.
"You've been studying history as of late, correct?" The youth laughed.
"Mother, I am always studying history! Really, it's so boring!"
"Good. Then I suppose you'd be able to tell me if I asked you: what is a God?" Serenity shifted in her seat as she pondered the question.
"It depends on which ones you're speaking of. I've studied most of the deities of the Earthlings and, well, to be honest, not all of them could fit just one definition." Upon her words, her mother turned from the window and rushed to the table as if there was something urgent that she must tell her. Clasping her hands around Serenity's the elder woman locked gazes with her surprised daughter.
"Gods are unlike the rest of us. Beings in our world and the others were all given the power to destroy. Only a God can create life from the will of its heart alone." Relinquishing the other's clasped hands the younger opened her fingers to look upon the beginnings of a budding flower that was encased in a bright light dancing upon her palm. Her mother smiled toward the small bloom and looked back into her daughter's gaze with earnest.
"One day, Serenity, the beings of our old world will need the power of a God, and they will come looking for you. You may have been told that you were born with my abilities, but believe me when I say that they far transcend my own." The young girl's eyes widened upon the honored Queen who had a few uncharacteristic tears trailing down her face. "Promise me Serenity, that when the time comes you will be stronger than I was." She pleaded, to which Serenity could only stare. "And if there is ever a time you cannot find the strength within yourself, allow him to be it for you."
"Him? What? W-who?" Serenity asked, her eyes clouding over in confusion. The Queen merely laughed and lifted a hand to daintily erase her tears.
"I promise you. One day, you will know."
"O-ok, I promise you, too, Mother."
Awaking groggily from her sleep, Serenity was sitting upright in a plush chair, but unlike the memory she had recalled in a dream, she was now chained to the armrest. She could feel the iron of the shackles threatening to attack her vulnerable skin, but thankfully these cuffs were fully lined with wraps of fine cloth. Focusing her gaze around the room she ascertained that she was in a study of some sort. The sun had now risen and was peeking through the heavy scarlet curtains at the end of the room. Squinting her eyes in the presence of the bright sunlight, she was able to make out the silhouette of an unfamiliar figure seated at the opposite end of the spanning table. Wrapping a ringed set of fingers around a goblet, he took a small sip just before standing and sauntering his way toward her.
Serenity felt her body go stiff when the stranger came into view. His stature was moderately tall and was dressed pristinely in white with a royal blue cape clasped just over his shoulders. His sapphire orbs were focused securely on her but were only partially visible beneath shaggy wisps of purely white hair. When he reached to brush his long bangs aside, she further balked upon noticing the bell of his ear came to a tell-all narrow point. She constricted her gaze poisonously when he swirled his glass of wine and settled to lean against the edge of the table just beyond her.
"Greetings, Queen Serenity," The man spoke richly just before taking a drink. "May I say, though I've been told of your beauty, the words used now seem offensive when comparing them to the lady they were meant to describe." He charmed. Truthfully, in any other circumstance she might have found this man devilishly handsome but she could sense without knowing him that he held nothing but selfish and wicked intentions.
"You." Serenity spoke gutturally and felt a shiver of fury travel across her form. He only chuckled at that.
"You recognize me as well? We have never met. We've only corresponded via letters, I'm afraid. I am Diamond, the King of Old Land Fae and the future ruler of the rest of this world." The Elven King, a descendant to the man who had murdered her aunt, spoke his title and coyly reached for her hand. "Oh," he said in feigned surprised upon eyeing her shackles. "I do apologize for your current restraints. My security is a bit over zealous at times."
"What do you want?" Serenity practically screeched. "Where are my companions?"
"Shhh," the man coaxed reaching a hand out to brush away her blonde bangs. He let out a small gasp upon capturing a glimpse of her beautiful, albeit angry, crystalline orbs.
"They're all alive, and within my palace." He reassured, but then clicked his tongue. "Actually, there was one unfortunate casualty. The human girl could not be resuscitated, I'm afraid. My condolences," His last statement wasn't genuine and being once again reminded of Hotaru's death made her chest clench in pain. Fighting back her tears, she continued to glare up at him with a renewed vehemence.
"I had heard rumors that Queen of the Moon was currently visiting our great planet. Though I hardly entertain common gossip I stationed my armies to be on the lookout, just in case. I'm so pleased to have you here as my guest." Serenity sucked in a calming breath as she regarded the man who was clearly trying to provoke her.
"As I stated before in my letters, I have forfeited both verbally and in writing any rights I could possibly claim to your kingdom. You have absolutely nothing to benefit from my capture." The Queen spoke firmly. Again, Diamond laughed. His chuckles continued for a short while, until he paused to take a drink from his beverage, and once again returned to her his mirth-filled attention.
"I care not for such things. As I said before, I am the rightful ruler of this world and anyone who claims it as their own is merely nothing more than an ant I will crush in my path to glory." The man spoke pompously. "I have invited you here to address the subject you've so cleverly danced around in our previous correspondences. Seeing now that I have your full and undivided attention, I was hoping you might accept my proposal."
"You'll have to refresh my memory." Serenity attempted to sound civil. Pulling his lips into a cruel smile, he let his fingers drift under her chin and lifted her face to gaze directly into his darkened eyes.
"Don't be so coy," He whispered. "I know you remember my offer and I really hate not getting what I want. Be my bride, Serenity. Produce me an heir worthy of my kingdom and be the Queen to rule all the lands and seas beneath the sun at my side."
"I'm sorry, but I'll have to decline." Serenity responded immediately. She sounded formal but her calm demeanor quickly waned when he continued to smile.
"I thought you might say that, after all there's a rather unflattering rumor stuck to your reputation I'm afraid." Serenity didn't flinch when he leaned in toward her face. She could smell the ambrosia of fermented grapes on his breath, but there was something dark within his gaze that shook her away from any feelings of attraction to the well-structured man.
"They say the stunning Moon Queen prefers the company of monsters in her bed." His words had a peculiar sting to them almost as if they were a threat. "Or at least one in particular," Serenity quivered when he licked his lips and his eyes fell half-lidded. "I wonder," he whispered and the shackled Queen could do nothing when he leaned in and pressed his lips against hers.
She felt like she was suffocating beneath his kiss. This man's aura was one of the most vile she had ever encountered and she was smothered by it while trapped beneath his bruising mouth. Pulling away he drew in an exhilarating breath. His gaze was electrified upon her horrified visage.
"I do not fear the so called 'Vampire King'," Diamond hissed to her as he allowed his fingers to tangle roughly into the back of her blonde strands. "I will crush him and anyone else that stands in my way. Choose me and be on the side of triumph, Serenity. Come to me willingly and I'll allow your friends to live." Before she could cry out he attacked her mouth again. He bit down on her fleshy bottom lip with just enough force to be painful but not draw blood. As he fought for her submission, Serenity felt the fury dwelling within swarm to her stomach. Recalling the memory that visited her in the form of a dream she tried her best to picture her mother's lovely face and remember her plea.
She had, in not so many words claimed she was the God this world needed, but what good would that do her now? Her mother had asked her to be strong, but she was not. In what Universe could a person be considered strong if they could be stopped by merely being shackled by a common metal and become a helpless prisoner to an evil man's perversion? She hadn't been able to save Hotaru in her weakness and now she hadn't any choice but to acquiesce to this monster if she wanted to save the others.
It all wasn't good enough, this person she had become.
Jerking her head away from him, he only grabbed onto her hair and kissed her more ferociously as if her resistance only further fed his lust. Suddenly, at the very peak of her anger and despair she sensed a ball of raw power within her. It was begging her to hold it, as if it was the only way it could ever be free. Crushing her eyelids closed, she summoned it forward and expelled it from her like a shooting star that was equally as bright.
King Diamond went flying away from her and was knocked halfway across the room. The light escaped her with an impassioned scream from her lungs and it wasn't long after that the chains around her wrists dissipated into a useless pile of dust on the floor. Leaping from her seat she tore to the doorway ignoring Diamond's call for his guards as she escaped into the hallway. She had only one mission in mind and there was nothing that was going to stop her.
Unbeknown to the elves that were hunting her she knew this Palace better than they did having fully explored it as a child. Approaching a particular wall she quickly pulled a few of bricks out of place that were thankfully still loose even though a thousand years had passed. She hurriedly entered the opening and replaced the stone behind her so that no one would know the wiser.
It wasn't long before she managed to find the dungeons that were never used when she had lived there as a girl. Sure enough she spotted two familiar figures that were helplessly chained to the wall. Lifting his eyes from beneath his hair, Jou's eyes brightened upon seeing his sister alive.
"Serenity!" He croaked.
"Quiet!" She hissed in response and quickly made way to them.
"Iron," Jou mumbled quietly and Serenity frowned upon spying her sibling's injured wrists. Pointing her finger to the lock a bright light escaped that sent it falling to the floor like a piece of scrap metal. Giving the other shackle the same treatment she moved to do the same to Honda's. Both of the men looked pretty beat up but Jou was in a lot worse condition considering the common fairy allergy to iron.
"Where's Mai?" Serenity asked worriedly. There wasn't time for any more questions if they were going to get out of there quickly.
"She's over there!" Honda noticed suddenly. Turning her head she gaped upon seeing the vampire that was convulsing under a patch of sunlight from one of the rare windows. Rushing to her, the three quickly pulled her out of the sun. She was unconscious. The sun wouldn't kill her but it had completely paralyzed her body and was surely causing her an unimaginable amount of pain.
"We need to get out of here fast. But we need to protect her from the sun." Serenity spoke in a hushed voice, praying the guards wouldn't be coming down to check on the prisoners any time soon. Whipping a cloak out of his subspace satchel, Jou hurriedly wrapped it completely around the vampiress and groaned when he attempted to lift her in his arms.
"I'll carry her," Honda said taking her from his arms. "You look pretty beat."
"Uh- are you sure I mean she is a-"Jou began but paused under Honda's narrowed eyes.
"She put her life on the line for Hotaru and all of us. If that doesn't make her a companion I don't know what does." The werewolf grumbled as he securely fastened the woman within his brawny hold.
They decided their best bet was to escape out of the dungeon's high window that was a tight fit but they surprisingly got through it without much trouble. Moving stealthily around the Palace walls Jou couldn't manage to keep his mouth shut.
"How did you escape? What happened? Are you all right? How did you learn to do that destructo thingy with your powers?" He rambled.
"Shh!" Honda hissed and all three of them paused with their backs to the tall Palace's wall. "I can hear and smell elves approaching this way."
"Too late," A voice said from their right. Flashing their collective gaze in the direction of the voice the conscious three balked upon seeing at least fifty elves with a variety of weapons in hand.
"Surrender now, or die!" The elf at the front roared.
"Serenity, Honda, get back. I'll handle this!" Jou ordered of them.
"No-" The Moon Queen began to protest but was interrupted by a deafening roar that came from the sky above. Everyone, elves included, turned their eyes to the sky to witness a large and dark shadow that blotted out the sun. The bellow grew louder as a large and white-blue blast rained down upon the elven army that scattered for cover. A gigantic and sky-blue skinned dragon landed heavily to the ground below and knocked the remaining elves out of the way with a mighty whip of his tail. Serenity's eyes flooded with memory upon the creature and a relieved smile spread across her face.
"Blue-Eyes!" She called out loudly to great beast. He had grown immensely since she had last saw him and was likely bigger than even his father Ra, the prodigious Dragon King.
"Serenity!" He boomed toward her and quickly shuffled to hover over the much smaller group. "I had received word from my father that you had returned to the Earth to journey to Babylonia. When I overheard a few elves bragging about having captured you I had to make sure it wasn't true. I'm glad I got here when I did, you three- Wait, four, look pretty beat up." He said eyeing the cloaked figure in Honda's arms.
"She's a vampire!" Jou hollered up to the larger creature. "We need to get her somewhere dark as fast as we can!"
"No problem," The Dragon named Blue-Eyes said with a nod. "I know a few secluded caves the elves won't be able to get to before the days' out without learning to fly first. I can get you all there quick." Just as he leaned down to assist them on his back a rain of arrows came down from one of the Castle's upper walls. "Take cover!" The dragon bellowed and stretched out his wing over them allowing the arrows to bounce off harmlessly from his leathery skin.
"Looks like we might need to take out some of these assholes first," Honda growled.
"I agree," Blue-Eyes' voice rolled. "A few blasts ought to do it!" Just as he reared back to counter attack a commanding voice made him pause.
"Halt!" Shifting his wing so that the others could see the man standing at the ledge, Serenity's eyes clouded over upon bearing witness to where King Diamond stood among his army and several body guards. She smirked a little to herself when she noticed a large red stain on the front of his silken shirt. It was from his wine when she had sent him flying across the room with a newfound power.
"Allow Queen Serenity and her heathen friends to leave if they wish, I assure you, when all is said and done she'll come crawling back and begging for me to take her back." He announced haughtily.
"Take her back?" Jou demanded heatedly toward the Elf King. "You never had her in the first place!" Lifting up his hand, he extended his middle finger angrily, but the pompous King showed absolutely no concern for him.
"You are all welcome to go free for now." Diamond continued. "But I do wish to ask you just one favor, Serenity." He said smirking down toward her. "When you see that vampire lover of yours once more, whatever name he goes by, be sure to tell him that unlike all the rest of the cowards on this planet that I'm not afraid of him." Climbing alongside the others onto Blue-Eyes' back, Serenity looked once more to the smiling King before they took off into the skies.
"If I did what you asked, and informed the Vampire King of everything else you had done," She paused to narrow her eyes. "You would have nothing more in this life to look forward to than the death that would end your misery." She spoke coldly, and didn't look back to see his expression when Blue-Eyes took off into the sunny sky.
"Until we meet again, Serenity!" Diamond yelled after her wearing a triumphant smile as he watched them disappear.
Firstly, I want to give a special thank you to Dustfinger's cheering section for agreeing and taking the time to 'beta' this chapter for me (and hopefully the remaining ones if she wasn't so appalled by it! lol)
And THANK YOU to those who reviewed last time: SailorVmoon1311815, Fire Dolphin, Serena-hime, Krissy, Yami Nocturna, Sakura Waldorf, MichUsa, Saris Yui, Sesshy's Mistress, RoseMouto2010, Cosmic-lover, Rach, more more more, kat, AndiB, Septima, Tempest S, and a1m9a8n8da.
Sorry I took so long with this guys, ^^*, I think I was kind of dreading writing it because I knew it wouldn't have a ton of Yami/Serenity interaction and that you guys might kill me! But I promise, it'll alllll be worth it for the reunion in the next chapter (at least, I hope!)
It really means a lot to me that you all support this story! Thanks again, so much! (Oh, and I changed my pen-name, I guess that's obvious, no reason why, really, lol)