A/N: Written for the Snakes and Ladders in Wonderland Challenge. The square I landed on was "memoir".
Memories that were Supressed by God
I never intended to remember those things Rased had surpassed inside of me, but somehow, that battle with Raenef awoke those memories. And I wished feverishly at the time they hadn't, because it was an assault I was, in no way, prepared for. The smell of burning, bloodied bodies. The splashes of red and brown that painted the entire street. The sound of my own breath: those fragile gasps that would probably break apart at the next shock…
And that swelling of intense hatred in my heart, blotting out everything else.
If Raenef or Eclipse had been anywhere in reach at the time, I probably would have blasted them all. Maybe I would have been blasted in return, especially if Rased disagreed with that irrational part of me and refused to defend – because that battle with Raenef proved well enough I was incapable of holding my ground against a Demon Lord on my own.
And seeing as Eclipse was the one who'd taught Raenef the Fourth as well as the current one, I doubted very much I was in a position to challenge him either. Not that I intended to do such a thing. Once the memories were a little less ferocious I reminded myself that the pair of them were friends – and, unless the circumstance were, like yesterday where it was quite literally a matter of life and death regarding that friend – friends did not try and kill friends for generalised ideals.
But suddenly these memories of mine had appeared and stood between us. Or didn't stand between us – because neither Eclipse nor Raenef were back yet. Nor was Erutis. The castle was, for the time being, a silent place.
And that suited me just fine. I had need for that time, and that solitude. I needed to come to grips with those memories that had returned.
I'd had a mild but happy life in that desert village. None of the excitement that was like a plague nowadays, but who needed excitement when they had their family? I don't know about Erutis, but I'm sure Raenef, our Raenef, who grew up as an orphan, would agree.
But I was like every other kid out there and wanting an adventure. Too restless in that small city, wanting to stretch my wings and soar. Too busy dreaming of bigger things to truly appreciate that small place gone home – until one day demons attacked and laid it all to waste.
Suddenly everything was burning around me and I was trapped, unable to move: to run and fight, or to flee. Now I know what it was: Rased's power was holding me in place, shielding me. And it was because of Rased that the bloodbath that followed left me soaking in the aftermath of blood.
It never occurred to me then, why Rased hadn't tried to save anyone else. But I do know my heart had been screaming when I saw the carnage. Screaming for the God I'd worshipped since infancy, to become our savoir once more.
For whatever reason, I was the only one Rased saved.
The High Priest found me, covered in blood and crying my soul out in the streets. I couldn't even begin to describe the state I was in at that time. And if I wasn't here right now, who I am, I would wonder how an earth that child recovered.
I think you can guess. Rased sealed those blood-sodden memories away. It was Rased's wish I grow without that baggage – and I'm grateful. I really am. I don't think I'd be this sort of person otherwise. That hatred of demons not even that Godly suppression of my memories could remove would have had a far firmer basis. I still hated demons without them, and demon lords. I studied mostly so I could gain the power and knowledge I needed to destroy them.
The High Priest did his best. I can appreciate his efforts better now, trying to raise a child that had such hatred in his heart. But he taught me love. And he taught me humility when the power I had gained from Rased's intervention exceeded the other disciples at the temple.
And finally, he taught me to let go of this biased hatred of mine when he sent me off to Raenef. Because who could hate that kid? Clueless, naïve – and absolutely nothing like a demon lord should be. And the should be part was pretty obvious – Eclipse was forever scolding him.
But Raenef – Raenef was this smiley happy go lucky guy who looked like he'd be better off being an entertainer in a pub than being a demon lord.
Life in a demon lord's castle had been interesting to say the least. There was never a dull day with Raenef around, even if most of the interesting stuff that went on were testaments of how ill-fitted he was for his role. Or how ill-fitted he appeared, in any case. It turned out there was a perfectly good explanation for that –
That only a certain ghost of the past had been prepared for.
But I digress. This story isn't about how Raenef IV had known what the future held in store, and why he'd chosen to preserve his son from the future and his name instead of his own life. Because if he had been trying to, I'm sure he would have been able to accomplish it. He'd nearly killed all of us after all. And maybe him losing to something so obscure meant he'd tried his utmost and failed –
But somehow, what Raenef explained to Eclipse and I after returning to the castle made that possibility seem all the less likely.
Raenef IV – I still don't get what his motives were, but Raenef is more complete now. A demon lord like all the ones I'd imagined – but still with all the kindness I'd witnessed before.
And that kindness had been so baffling. Not just at first, but even now. Even when he's a proper Demon Lord, interacting like other Demon Lords with other Demon Lords – but, with us, he's still the same old Raenef. Just not as much of a klutz as he'd once been.
But now that he is a proper Demon Lord and we know why he hadn't been one before – he's still Raenef. He's still my friend. And I can't hate him. At this point, I don't need to hate him either. I became a cleric of Rased well before he became a Demon Lord, and he's never killed anyone. He's never gone on raids of villagers like the Demon Lord that destroyed my home town. I mean, sure, he tried to kill me during that little drama – but I tried to kill him the day we met and if he hadn't been a Demon Lord and hadn't used that Dark Arrow magic to blow off the roof of the high court, well…he probably wouldn't still be alive.
Though it wasn't pleasant at all to hear my holy bolt was a pathetic weapon against a Demon Lord. The kid my age being a Demon Lord though…that's a whole other matter.
Most of the clerics at the High Temple were old. The sort of people who'd seen a lot of things happen in life, and who'd accumulated a lot of wisdom. They were also the sort of people who'd been apart from their families for many years, always at the temple and in training or mediation or prayer. They weren't the sort who got married and settled down, or travelled everywhere lugging a cart full of merchandise, or sprinted through the streets taking anything that glittered like Raenef and Erutis – and apart from that little tidbit that tied them together, they weren't much alike at all.
Interesting how they met – or not. Really, it's more like how I met Raenef…so I guess that's something I have in common with Erutis. We were both out looking for a Demon Lord – and their blood. Only Erutis went to the castle to find one, and I used a summoning circle to get them into my own turf.
I guess, if Raenef had been more experienced, Erutis' method would have been better since, according to the High Cleric, no real Demon Lord would have been summoned by an amateur's summoning circle.
Suffice to say, I was reasonably confident in my abilities at that time. Even after I came to the castle, I thought I could beat a Demon Lord, no problem. Never got the chance to really try until that day though – and then it was a nasty surprise because, suddenly, Raenef was ten times better than I was and I had a Raenef the fourth to deal with as well.
Raenef the fourth. I don't know who's more confusing: him or Krayon. Him probably, since we'll never get the opportunity again to question him. But Raenef seems content. I don't know about Eclipse though. If I had to guess, I'd say he's still confused.
Actually, I don't think I can say Raenef – our Raenef I mean – isn't confused. He's just…okay with it. He hasn't really talked about it, but he's not jumping whenever we – as in Erutis or I – mention his name, or getting a really dark look on his face or anything like that. And he jumped to the other Raenef's defence once when Erutis said – forgot what she said actually, but something along the lines of insulting the old Raenef I think.
Come to think of it, why is Raenef's hair so blond anyway? The other Raenef had black hair – and so did the Raenefs that came before him. Their portraits are in that room I wandered into one time, when I was lost. It's a large castle after all, and I don't have the demon privilege to be able to just say "Go" and magically appear where I want to be. Though that was one lesson Raenef seemed to learn rather quickly: his way around the castle. Though he was a thief before, so I guess he needed to learn his way around unfamiliar places fast in the good ol' days.
Raenef with that sweet looking face shouldn't have been a thief or a Demon Lord. And she sure as hell shouldn't have been the son of guy responsible for the merciless slaughter of the heaven's creatures in the war – but then again, the Raenef the fourth we met initially didn't seem to be the sort of guy capable of that either.
And then he goes and tortures Raenef, our Raenef, just for the fun of it, or – something. Tries to absorb him, really. Or something like that. I don't see how absorbing our Raenef would make Ranef the fourth have a solid life, considering it'd still be our Raenef's body and all…
Then again, I don't see a maniacal villain of a Demon Lord having a son, or any sort of family, and yet this one claimed our Raenef as his son. Future sun albeit, but it still must have happened somehow. And Raenef the fourth had seemed surprisingly unsurprised when our Raenef absorbed him – and no, I was not unconscious at that point, no matter how I looked. But my back was starting to kill, so I had to interrupt that little cosy scene that followed.
But honestly, all of those things are beating around the bush proofs that I can't hate the Demon Lords now that I know some of them a little better. Krayon is powerful, but the way he flirts with Erutis is downright ridiculous. Raenef the fourth didn't match the God-slaying Demon Lords – because they are Gods to us, even if the proper term for them is "heaven's creatures" – and then there's our Raenef, who seemed like, when we first met, everything a Demon Lord shouldn't be.
And, for a while, I was everything a cleric of Rased shouldn't be too: a boy filled with anger and recklessness. And maybe that was part of the reason those memories of mine were stolen away. If I'd had a reason to my hatred for the Demon Lords when I first met Raenef, would I still have been able to reach this point where I can call him a friend?