(Thank you to everyone who is still reading and to those who review. I appreciate it very much! This chapter had many rewrites and I'm still unhappy with it. It's all Frankenstein's fault for being lazy and sleeping too long!)
As soon as they were out of sound and sight range of Sir Raizel and Urokai Agvain, the Lord halted and spun around to Roctis and Azrael.
Roctis stepped aside and the Lord marched up to Azrael, lifted his hands and flicked both of Azrael's ears.
"That's what you get for showing Raizel that awful expression!"
"What are you talking about?"
The Lord wagged a finger at Azrael. "You know exactly what I'm talking about! That face you make when you're crushed over his condition! Stop it!"
"It's that bad?"
"YES! Do you have any idea how that makes him feel? You already broke his heart once, and now, he almost never leaves that window in his mansion. He just stands there all day, every night and day, for the thousands of years that he has been cradling your soul. He probably believes your actions were his fault!" the Lord ranted.
"But...that's not true!"
The Lord flapped his arms. "Well, duh! He's a lot like you, blaming himself for your screw up."
Azrael frowned. "I never said anything like that to my little brother."
"He's not stupid, Azrael," the Lord sighed. "You went so far as to stray from the honorable path in order to save him."
"I was young and naive," Azrael murmured, dropping his head to stare at the ground.
"True enough. Lagus didn't help, which is why I forgive you. That doesn't mean you aren't going to make up for it."
"How can I do that when I can't even save my own brother?" Azrael grimaced.
"Oh, you're going to help all right! You're going to be the Noblesse while Raizel takes a break. Maybe I can even get him to enter sleep for a time. But! The first thing you're going to do today is help us track down Lagus. I already have a plan for Raizel that you can help with, but Frankenstein is a scientist and you might be able to help him come up with something more permanent."
"If we want to find Lagus, we probably need to get moving," Azrael replied.
"True, but just know, you aren't going to see Raizel until I say so. We have a lot more talking to do."
Azrael nodded, but he didn't appear happy. That was fine with the Lord. It was bad enough that Frankenstein had been hurt. He couldn't have Azrael upsetting Raizel even more. More changes were coming to Raizel's life and the poor boy would probably die of over-stimulation if something wasn't done to stem the flow!
Of course he hadn't really intended to kill Frankenstein, just rough him up a little! Or a lot. No way he'd want to experience Sir Raizel's misery over losing that despicable human pet. Screw what Lagus wanted. "Urokai, run this errand. Urokai, run that errand. Here's your chance to kill Frankenstein." Only Lagus hadn't outright said it.
And no! He had never been invited to any of the important meetings! That asshole had tried to use him as an assassin and hadn't offered a reward at all. Lagus had no right whatsoever to treat him like that. Why had he ever allowed Lagus to get inside his head? Oh, right, he hadn't. That evil creep had tricked him!
The absolute worst thing though? Sir Raizel knew everything now. Everything! At the very least, he should have been sent to confinement. What would have been truly right and fair was execution, but that would harm Sir Raizel, not to mention making him sad. Maybe living with his crimes would be the worst punishment?
Lagus. Why couldn't the Lord have allowed him some revenge and taken him along on the hunt? Urokai wanted to shout his outrage at Lagus. Instead, he continued staring at Sir Raizel's back and trying to mimic the elegant strides leading them...absolutely nowhere!
Is he lost? In his own house? Maybe the Lord was right and Sir Raizel can't find his way out of a velvet pouch. At least it gives me time to figure out why the walls are breathing! In and out, in and out. Ugh!
Colors hurt his eyes and fragments of memories flashed across his vision. This side-effect should clear up on its own. If not, well, it's less punishment than I deserve.
Whoa! He'd nearly plowed into Sir Raizel. Urokai looked around. They were at another intersection. Haven't we been here before? Don't we need to find stairs?
Sir Raizel turned and Urokai followed, his ruminations continuing for only a moment before they stopped again.
Sir Raizel had found the kitchen! Urokai finally knew where they were!
"Dinner is on the table, but it is cold," Sir Raizel finally said and frowned as his eyes roamed around at the cupboards, shelves, and various cooking devices.
Is he inviting me to share dinner with him? He glanced over at Raizel, who stared back. I guess so.
"Well, there are hot coals in the hearth over there. All I need is a thick pot to put them in and a grate to put over the top so we can set food on it to warm." Urokai grinned at Raizel, who appeared confused. "I promise, I haven't ever set a home on fire." At least, not from cooking.
Raizel gave him a nod of approval. Relief eased the tension between Uroikai's shoulder blades and he fished around to find everything he needed. In no time at all, both shelves of the cart were stacked with the necessities.
"That should work," Urokai informed Raizel. "I know the way from here. Do you mind if I push the cart in front of you?"
Sir Raizel nodded this time as well, another load off Urokai's shoulders. Huh, no squeaky wheels. Nice. A slight cough from behind had Urokai stopping the cart and turning around. Blood dripped over the fingers covering Sir Raizel's mouth.
"Sir Raizel!" A cold lump of ice in his stomach had Urokai shivering. He was the main cause for this.
"I am fine, Urokai," Sir Raizel replied as his power rose and dispelled the blood.
"But, you're not and it's my fault!"
"No, this has nothing to do with you. Please proceed."
Why would Sir Raizel believe his injury is not my fault? Tension once again weighed heavily on Urokai, but he managed to easily guide the lost duck to his room. A pleasant warmth filled him when Raizel chose to sit down at the table. That didn't rid him of his worry for Sir Raizel's health.
It occurred to Urokai that he hadn't received another lecture about his behavior. Considering it was Sir Raizel, he might not hear another word for a couple of hundred years. Is Sir Raizel's health the cause of his silence?
It would be stupid to ask Sir Raizel if he were feeling better, so Urokai scanned the table. He picked up the teapot and set it on the grate to warm.
"Oh, this looks pretty." Urokai lifted a bowl of what appeared to be a mixture of vegetables.
"Frankenstein says they are healthy and will improve my...complexion."
Hm, so this is like medicine and Sir Raizel is informing me of Frankenstein's goals? That's good. I should try to get along with him if I'm going to be living here.
Sir Raizel's face showed no enthusiasm. Setting the bowl aside for later, he lifted another and Urokai couldn't determine what it was either.
"Cooked fruit and nuts with some kind of grain. Frankenstein says I need to gain weight."
This bowl did hold some appeal. Raizel's eyes were locked on it. This one then.
"I'll set this on the grate as soon as the tea is hot. How does that sound?"
The question garnered him Raizel's attention. There was a brief nod and Urokai went about setting out clean dinnerware. Now he had time to really look at the multiple prepared dishes.
"Does he expect you to eat all of this?" Urokai mused aloud.
Raizel shook his head. "He expects me to learn how to eat more and make better choices."
Here, Raizel looked at the vegetables and then quickly looked away. Urokai reached for another large bowl and stirred it with the large serving spoon that had been left inside. It looked gross. Thick brown liquid oozed around lumpy things floating in it.
"Do you know what this is?" Urokai asked and looked up.
Raizel shook his head.
"Well, this will be one of the things I heat up and we'll try it. It doesn't stink, so it can't be that bad. We'll just sample the dishes one at a time."
There was no response from Raizel. Well, if the offerings were supposed to be good for Raizel, then he'll have to find some way to make the sickly Noblesse eat it. This could a be beneficial start to getting on Frankenstein's good side, not that he didn't worry about Sir Raizel as well. Urokai wondered just how much Sir Raizel would cooperate.
Would it help to remind him that Frankenstein wants him to eat it?
Urokai tested the tea and it was ready. He poured some for Raizel and for himself then put the bowl of odd gravy on the grate. Once seated, he watched as Raizel took the lid from a small bowl and spooned out several teaspoons of sugar into his tea. That gave Urokai pause. Maybe that would be the secret to getting Sir Raizel to eat healthier things. Just add sugar! Excited about his surefire plan, Urokai did his best to mimic Cadis Etrama Di Raizel's perfect form when drinking tea.
"Okay, let's try the brown stuff!" Urokai exclaimed after sipping the last couple of drops of tea.
He removed the dish and set the fruit concoction on the grate. "If you don't like it, maybe you could add some sugar and see if that helps!"
Urokai dished two serving-sized spoonfuls into small bowls. Best not to overwhelm Sir Raizel. He lifted a small bit on his spoon and sniffed. It smelled savory. Sugar might not work. The first small bite actually tasted quite good.
Urokai glanced over at Sir Raizel who hadn't moved, just stared at the bowl. Ready to try out his idea, he grabbed the sugar bowl and sprinkled some over Sir Raizel's food. That got a rise out of the Noblesse. His eyes widened and he reached for his spoon. As soon as the food was in his mouth, he frowned and chewed rather slowly. From what Urokai could tell after his first spoonful, it was some kind of meat, probably fowl, along with vegetables. He sprinkled more sugar into Sir Raizel's bowl. That actually got Urokai a small smile and he almost fainted with glee.
Urokai had only seen Sir Raizel smile once. Only once. The fact he was the one who'd managed to have a smile directed at him? Oh, he was going to die from too much happiness. And, he'd won a victory as well!
One by one, serving bowls and plates were heated and sampled. Anything Sir Raizel was determined to avoid, sugar changed his mind. Sometimes, Urokai worried about the amount of sugar he'd needed to add, but what else could he do?
"Oh, we're out of tea. I'll take the dishes down and make a new pot!"
Dishes were stacked and Urokai happily took away the cart, relieved that he had good news for Frankenstein.
'Frankenstein, Wake Up.'
Disclaimer: I do not own Noblesse, nor do I make any money from this story.