Chapter 2 Enslavement

'Scars are not meant to be attractive', Akeno thought staring at the figure in front of her.

They were often crude shaped things tearing across what was once beautiful unblemished flesh.

Kuoh's Dark Prince as always seems to be the exception to the rule.

Their King ,Rias, was the only one currently in their little peerage with any real skill in the healing arts. It was a serious hole in their repitouire of skills; the rest of them were more experienced in taking bodies apart rather than putting them back together.

Akeno herself was especially well versed in ... dismantling ...slowly (OH GOD PLEASE STOP, KILL ME, DEMON DEMON!)

'Fufufu, oh yes it takes years of practice to be able to attain that level of precision'

Between a particularly innovative teenager and a pawn with a powerful Sacred Gear, possibly draconic in nature if Koneko's sense of smell was reliable and it usually was (chocolate. On breathe. Share), her choice in who to concentrate her attentions to was obvious.

As a result of this, she and Koneko had been forced put together a healing duct tape and glue version for their newest little Rook, until Rias recovered enough strength to seal up any serious cracks left.

The wounds themselves were indeed healed but the scars, unlike Hyoudo's, would remain for life, or until they could find a far better healer than Rias.

The jagged line cutting across his right eye was the most visible and attention grabbing. It should be an ugly thing, distracting and the worst of conversation killers, as individuals tried not to stare at it.

However, in some odd contrast it made his ordinarily pretty and rather feminine face a more handsome masculine appeal, he was attractive because of the scar not in spite of it, and it helped cement his image as Kuoh's black prince.

Though Akeno was personally more interested in the scar across his chest, spreading from dead center to his lower right side of his abdomen, horribly jagged, the burns were more expansive than an ordinary hit from a light spear. The fallen who attacked him was obviously enraged… and impaired since she missed his heart by a long shot.

'The shear pain it must have caused, it must have been excruciating!' Akeno blushed at the thought, 'Burning, tearing, did he scream, what was the face he made, was there blood or was the light spear too hot and the wound cauterized on impact?'

"Himejima?" a low voice broke her out of her…musings

"Yes…um, I mean yes Kirigaya?" how embarrassing, she'd have to save the memory of his pain for later… contemplation

"I believe you were going to tell me why you have me naked in what looks like the backroom of a classroom." He inquired almost pleasantly, his voice sounding more sleepy than the terrified one would expect when waking up in a strange place with a virtual stranger injured.

In fact Kirigaya had been almost alarming calm for the entirety of this little situation, from the moment he'd walked through the barrier Rias had set up in the park with his grocery bag in hand, to his handling of the Fallen, to him appearing in the little kitchenette (sneaking up on her supernatural senses at that) and politely inquiring if she had seen a pair of missing clothes.

She'd dropped the tea she had been preparing for today's meeting and ushered him back to where they had been keeping his comatose body, and began giving him a check up all the while Kirigaya remained calm asking her questions in return of her own.

His questions had been no more troubled than his general demeanor; where was his phone, wallet, clothes, did she happen to pick up his groceries, what time was it and so on.

'Does he think it was all a dream, rather what does our little princeling get up to usually to not even be alarmed about his current situation?'

"Ara, are you not even the least bit troubled to be waking up in a strange place unclothed?" she asked curiously with an oblivious smile on her face, but to her least bit of surprise, he merely stared back with tiredly amused eyes.

"I think I'm in shock" he responded, though his tone was dry, "The last thing I remember is getting stabbed by a harpy with a leather fetish before waking up mostly healed to a young woman making tea."

Akeno covered a snort at his description of the Fallen, 'Harpy indeed'

"I doubt from that much that I was kidnapped,, but if I was I rather not annoy my kidnappers by panicking and asking useless questions they're not likely to answer anyway… especially not in my… defenseless… state."

She blinked before giving an amused smile

"Did anyone ever tell you you have a very skewed sense of logic Kirigaya?"

"Plenty of times" he shrugged nonchalantly, "I once nearly stabbed myself in the hand with a suspected murder sword to prove it wouldn't kill me."

Somehow that didn't even surprise her in line with all the other little mysteries that had been adding up since she and Rias had found the dying teenager in the park the other day.

How did he fight and even critically injure a Fallen, several times stronger and experienced than any mere human? Why did he have four ( five if you count the multipurpose pocket tool) knives strapped to various parts of his body(all nonmagical, Kiba had ascertained, so the possibility of him being a rogue exorcist or other devil/monster hunter was thrown out)?

They'd looked up his personal information to see if they could drop him off when he was healed and maybe give his parents an excuse for his late night out if they couldn't heal him before the night was up- which is what happened.

Only come to find his parents' address was two hours away by train; unless he was pulling the cash to make such a trip every morning and evening just to attend this school, he clearly wasn't staying with his parents. Probably. She knew Issei certainly would do it to see his precious oppai if he had the money.

She doubted that was the answer, especially seeing how comfortable he was naked in front of a virtual stranger and as how when she leaned over to check his new scars he hadn't so much as glanced at her pronounced chest. He looked her directly in the eyes the entire conversation and not in a 'I'm desperately trying not to look anywhere else' way.

They called his mother anyway just to let him know he'd be staying over the school that night, they hadn't even needed to argue their fairly lackluster excuse.

Oh a school project, I'm glad Kazuto is getting involved. With all his friends so spread out, I was getting worried he'd go back into his old shell. Thank you for looking after my son.

And that was it, apparently Kirigaya was used to a fairly large amount of independence, his mother sounded almost surprised that they'd bothered to inform her at all.

Are you sure you shouldn't be calling-, oh I suppose the school wouldn't have the number, I'll have to tell…

Who she had to tell, presumably whoever he was staying with now, was trailed off. The woman much like her son didn't even bother to acknowledge insinuated questions, blatantly ignoring the obvious fact that she had illegally listed her son's address as hers in his transcripts.

"We called your parents and told them you volunteered to stay the night for a school project" She said finally handing him his sewed and magically cleaned (though still slightly pink stained) clothes. "They'll inform your current hosts of where you are."

As expected he didn't respond other than the slightest nod of the head before narrowing his eyes minutely and subtly testing the weight of the cloth.

"Your knives are on the table in the club house, you certainly have quite the selection of weaponry on your person." She stated, finally deciding that he was the type to ignore anything more subtle than someone flat out shoving something into his face.

Though whether it was to his credit or not, his general obliviousness seemed mostly genuine; she felt pity for the girls around school trying to gain his attention, they thought he was being cool and distant, he was really just oblivious.

"Healthy paranoia" he said in a dry almost sarcastic form of cheer that she was suspected was his usual tone

"Can any paranoia really be called healthy?" she asked with a raised eyebrow

"I was attacked by a bird monster on a walk from the grocery store" he shot back

'Touché, Fufufu a snarky one'

"We kept you here the past two days to heal, we're about to give a full explanation of events to the other victim of her attack in an hour, but since you're up I'm sure Kiba can take him out of class now."

She'd have to tell Rias to speed up her schedule; her King liked to play games and had held off taking a shower specifically to have the chance to distract two young hormonal boys with the club shower.

'I also need to tell her she might have to be little more careful around Kirigaya, he doesn't seem the type to get distracted by sins of the flesh' Akeno thought remembering the boy's lack of attention to her own form.

"Issei?" Kirigaya questioned with a surprised look on his face, she hadn't known the two were on a first name bases, "So he's alive too?"

"And thoroughly traumatized" she let out a blissful sigh remembering the panicked face he'd been wearing all yesterday going around questioning if anyone remembered "Yuma" and if anybody had seen Kazuto-sempai.

She remembered the beating he'd taken from the girls for daring to refer to one of their princes by first name.

Kirigaya sighed and a tension she hadn't even been aware was in his stance relaxed; he was very good at disguising his inner thoughts.

It would be that mere mention of their newest pawn that would alert her later of how to spot the nearly unnoticeable change in his demeanor, it was that one passive comment that would alert her to when something was wrong later, one reaction to one throwaway statement would save them from him in the weeks to come.

"C'mon" she said turning her back to the newly relaxed Kirigaya, "Let's go introduce you to our king."

"…to our what?"

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'Two years'

Kirito paced up the street quickly, headed in no particular direction but knowing he had to get away from the school before he did something… regrettable.

'OVER two years, I gave of my life to that mad man' Kirito fumed making a detour to the local park, as he continued to pace fist clenched, barely keeping a snarl of rage inside," and now this red haired little TART-"

"I resurrected the two of you as members of my peerage, everyone in this room including the two of you are devils."

With a dramatic flair, the four members of the Occult Research Club, let black bat like wings flourish from their backs.

Beside him Issei let out enough noise of surprise that Kirito's own deathly silence had been covered; this wasn't the first time he'd had his entire world ripped out from beneath him without notice, and by the third time with Sachi he'd begun to recognize the signs early.

A trap was coming, he'd suspected since he'd awoken to find himself alive in the first place, but the real alarm hadn't been sounded until he'd heard Himejima utter those fateful words. He'd noticed Gremory's sudden need to take a shower in visible sight, the sly looks traded between the two females, and Himejima's careful positioning as Isseientered the room.

"Um, ah I don't understand, how?" Issei questioned

'Yes how, tell me how I got into this mess'

"And isn't that just fuc- ,freaki-, no fuck it I'm cursing!, How FUCKING CONVIENENT that she just HAPPENED to have given Issei a magic summoning flyer THE EXACT DAY he was attacked by that Fallen for… oh yeah why was that, REASONS." Kirito seethed, he hated people that acted like saviors you should feel indebted to even as they took away your choices- your freedom.

It was the only the memory of being brutally murdered by the last supernatural that he'd encountered that made him hold his tongue about all the constant inconsistencies that he was finding in Gremory's story.

Again he had been thankful that Issei was such an expressive person, his own reactions were largely ignored in favor of the dramatics of his Kohai. Only once did he break his silence.

Steadily he'd raised his arm like asking a question in class, deliberately reminding himself of his own snarky response to Himejima not an hour earlier about not irritating his kidnappers by showing any panic…or in this case anger.

"You said we are your servants Gremory-san" Kirito asked in a slow tone as he got their attention, interrupting Issei's declaration of becoming 'The Harem King', "Not that I'm not grateful you decided to bring me back with Issei nor am I unwilling to repay what I owe, but could you clarify how long this servitude lasts."

There was a brief pause as everyone including Issei stared at him,

"Uh didn't you hear the part about getting a harem Kazuto-sempai!?" Issei burst obviously trying to stop him from making a 'mistake' and throwing away this 'opportunity'.

"I heard Issei" he said dryly cutting his eyes at the pervert boy

'Focus on the fool', the monster inside whispered, 'Don't let the anger out, joke, stay relaxed just a little longer'

"But I have a part time job and some hobbies outside of school" he continued letting his eyes fall back on the oh so sly little demoness that had just smilingly claimed him as property, "So how long do you need me, or is there some type of hourly sheet that I can knock out on my own time?"

There was another silence as Issei and him both turned to the Red haired girl

"Idiot" said the white haired child on the couch munching on snacks

"Ara, ara Koneko be nice" Himejima said with a small laugh even as Kirito's eyebrow twitched, he usually loved kids (Papa!) and younger ones, but he really wasn't in the mood today.

"It's natural for people not a part of the supernatural world to cling to some kind of normalcy" Himejima continued, though a desperation to hold onto" normalcy" was far from the reason why he asked.

He'd never been slow on the uptake and had already suspected this wasn't a temporary deal the moment the word 'devil' had been used, even someone who didn't spend a shameful amount of time looking up various mythologies as him for gaming would be weary at the name of that particular species.

"You, Kiba, and Gaspar's changing don't count; you were already apart of this world in some way or form."

"I'm afraid Kirigaya that upon being resurrected, you became a devil for life; the only way you'd survive is being bonded to me." The red head explained in what might have been a sympathetic tone, but Kirito's sense of such nuances had disappeared in a white hot rage.

"So we're slaves" he asked darkly, and there was an immediate tension that entered the room, Kirito kept himself perfectly still, waiting, watching.

Gremory met his gaze evenly, "Yes, to most of the underworld and devil kind you are little more than my property."

Kirito had never really believed in things like killing intent despite having seen the business end of a blade pointed at his face far too many times to count. Instinct to pick up on something dangerous in nature yes, but he was a very analytical thinker at heart and such phenomena sounded to fantastical to be real.

The cold silence that followed in his barely contained rage said otherwise.

"It's not like how you're thinking Kirigaya" Kirito didn't even turn to face Yuuto who had been the one to speak, not breaking his stare from Gremory.

"Bunchou is very courteous to us, and never imposes her will on us"

"Because that makes the fact that I'm still a slave all the better, at least my master won't use the whip as often as the other masters would" Kirito mumbled darkly, feeling sick as the rage refused to be abated even in the cool outside air.

He stopped in his pacing and gave a bitter smile as he saw he was in front of that quadruple damned statue that started this whole mess.

"And tell me Kiba, what happens if I refuse to follow orders?" he asked the statue, it wasn't a question he'd asked out right, but they had mentioned Strays when Issei had told the story of how he was attacked by another fallen while Kirito was still in his mini coma and it didn't take a genius to figure out how one became a Stray. All Strays had kill on sight orders from each faction no matter who they were or what they were doing.

"You get to live for an eternity indulging in sin, power and riches beyond your wildest dreams, anything your heart desires is in reach with just a bit of work, with only one small catch. Obey me, live for me, fight for me… or die" he continued his dark musings

'Never mind that I know life is meant to be short and never craved eternity, that I have no need for power, or riches, or women, or any other carnal pleasures.' He thought bitterly, 'Never mind that I fought for two and a half years to remove such chains from around me, that I've already experienced a gorgeous gilded cage and prefer the dirty grimy air of freedom'

'No matter how kind a slave is treated, they are still a slave' he thought looking up at the sky, 'I'ma slave'

"I can't even take the people I love the most with me to this new hell, I'd rather they'd left me for de-"

'NO!' his pragmatic self screamed at the overemotional part that had gotten him into so much trouble during the Aincrad campaign, 'NEVER STO FIGHTING , NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER FORGET'.

He was once again reminded that as much as he didn't like that side of himself, it was there for a very important reason.

Klein laying in the snow, tears streaming down his face, begging him not to give up during the darkest holiday of his life

Liz holding his hand by the campfire as they reminisced about all the people they'd lost

His love, back when they were little more than strangers, yelling at him not to take the hatred of so many people by himself, his love grabbing his arm and stopping him from stabbing Grimlock's sword down on his own arm with his then usual utter disregard for consequences the action would have on his life, his love grabbing him by the collar on a porch when he'd mentioned something morbid about whether or not they'd make it out of this beautiful hell hole

Yes, he couldn't afford to have thoughts like this; he couldn't fall victim to despair, he needed a plan, he needed hope,… he needed his love.

"Where the hell have you been!" said the lovely pissed tones of an angel, "Your mother called me to tell me you had a school project, which is complete BULL by the way! Why didn't you come home, do you know how close I was to storming that-"

"Asuna" he cut her off dead serious, he had no need to raise his voice, they knew each other to well by now to know when things just got serious. "We have a problem."

"Explain" she said going into her commander mode with zero hesitation, Kirito gave a slight nostalgic smile before telling everything that had happened since he'd last talked to her.

He was careful to give as much detail as possible, nothing was insignificant; all the while she stayed silent only asking for the occasional clarification of a term, his exact position when he did this, did the Fallen's wings flap or just levitate, what was Himejima doing in the back while Gremory was speaking.

He was amazed as always at what she managed to pick up that he missed; he supposed that was the difference between a commander who led and a soldier who survived.

"Alright" she said after a pause in which she spent absorbing the information, "We need more Intel and to regroup with the others… here's what you do."

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'Well that could have gone a little better' Rias thought to herself, 'though in hindsight that was probably the ordinary reaction to such news, not everybody could be Issei'

Rias sat in her office going over some papers that she needed to read and sign for the day to day machinations of the supernatural sector in Kuoh. Her peerage had broken up to fulfill their typical weekday requests, and Issei was testing the physical limits of a bicycle as he tried to make it to a request on the other side of town.

She supposed she might have been a bit spoiled in how willingly her other peerage members had given her their loyalty almost immediately after their resurrection, though considering the status she found them all in…

Akeno, angry, heartbroken and distrustful as she pledged herself to the creature her ancestors hated above all others, eager to get away from her "tainted" blood

Kiba, weary and malnourished, but eyes brimming with the hatred of betrayal, bowing to the one that promised him his vengeance

Koneko, so broken and empty, reaching for the first hand that promised safety

Little Gaspar alone and afraid, wary of her kindness, but so terribly lonely and sick of being alone, taking the first brave step to trusting someone else

Even Issei had been an easy to acquire, the boy was a slave to his carnal desires that all it had taken was showing a bit of skin and he'd pledged himself for life. Though in fairness to Issei, he'd yet to come to terms to what had happened to him and was choosing to ignore the implications in his shock.

'Anyone who could outsmart an attention barrier, and critically injure a creature 10x his strength and 100x his experience could not be expected to simply roll over and weep at her feet in praise' she thought criticizing herself.

"So we're slaves" he asked, there was a slight tremor in his voice she could only now guess was fear and anger, as he tried to seem nonchalant.

"Yes" had been her brutal unsympathetic answer, hoping ripping off the band aid would be the better solution, Akeno told her he was the type to take things in stride after all.

She'd also told her he wasn't the type to sit and be intimidated

Something she'd only remembered a moment later when he… well e hadn't stormed out as one might expect so much as gone so still and silent it unnerved them, and the way he watched them

Black eyes, careful, analyzing, seeing how far he could get if he had to make a break for it then and there

How many he'd have to cut down on his way out

It was the look, which said he was measuring her, that made her let him go outside to clear his head for a bit. Yes she had taken him because she needed a solider to fight for her, because she was desperate and hadn't particularly cared for the circumstances of what was, despite his mysteries, an ordinary teenage boy.

What were the personal wishes of one teenager when she was facing an eternity with

"Dear dear Rias, don't you know you are MINE to do what I wish?"

She grit her teeth at the mere thought of that arrogant insufferable peacock, over her dead body

But the ass hat would hold, she had some damage control to do with her newest peerage member, she'd have to find a way to earn his trust; she refused to have any of her servants-

'Family' she thought, she always thought of them as such, but Kirigaya's reaction was having her censor herself even in her thoughts, 'I refuse to let any of my family have a reason to go Stray, regardless of how they came to me'

"Stop it" she heard Akeno suddenly next to her and she stifled a jump, "You're always too harsh on yourself, he just needs a little time, they can't all be Issei"

Rias sighed as her Queen placed a mug of tea in front of her; she really was out of it.

"I was in such a rush to get quality pieces I almost forgot the people behind those pieces" Rias explained taking the tea with a grateful nod, "I never want to be looked at like that by those who should be my family."

"Fufufu silly Buchou, we don't resent you for turning us" her Queen laughed, as always seeing through her to her real fears, "We love you… spoiled manipulative ways and all."

Rias pouted, before sipping the truly delicious tea

"Excuse me"

And promptly proceeded to choke on it as the dark haired male she'd just been thinking about appeared in front of her desk like a ghost.

"Are you okay?" looking up she saw the still wary, but concerned look of Kazuto Kirigaya

"Y-cough-Yes I'm fine" she choked out embarrassed, from the corner of her eye she saw Akeno stifle a laugh, even as she shifted out of a slightly defensive stance

'So he scared her too, good it's not just me'

"I wanted to apologize for my reaction" he started, every word measured out like he was carefully laying out brickwork.

"You saved my life, no matter what else, you saved my life… and that's not something I treat lightly" he said, this time sounding far more genuine, and she saw the gratefulness in his eyes, before emotions were once more locked away.

'He'd be a terrifying liar' Rias thought, 'if not for what he truly believes didn't shine so brightly in his eyes by comparison'

"Why are you really here", she asked in a disbelieving tone making clear she wasn't just going to swallow whatever half assed answers, "have you miraculously gotten over your fear of being seen a slave?"

"Not being seen as, am a slave" he shot back in a dead tone before sighing, "But I'm not stupid, I need you and I'm assuming you need me for some unfathomable reason that you wasted one of your precious pieces to revive some random teenager"

'He saw through even that in just an hour of consciousness, he really is smart'

She kept her thoughts to herself, and merely stared evenly back

There was another moment of silence before Kirigaya smiled bitterly, and it took her a moment to realize what he was about to do, but it was too late

"Please teach me Gremory-Sama " Kirigaya intoned formally as he began to bow subserviently

"Stop!" the sight of seeing someone so prideful beast who'd stood up to even Fallen angel to protect a random stranger, bowing his head to her in defeat was not pleasing to her in the slightest; certainly not one she sought to be her family.

"There is no need for such displays Kirigaya; you are mine and so it is already my duty to take care of you" she declared in her proud leader voice, from the corner of her eye she could see Akeno's approving look.

Kirigaya looked up warily, and she gave him a teasing smile

"And you can just call me Buchou"

"… Very well Buchou"

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Once upon a time Kazuto Kirigaya had been an ordinary if disturbingly intelligent and reclusive dork of a teenager. He had a family that he loved in an incredibly strained way, but loved nonetheless, got good grades, but otherwise diverted his time to playing games and studying computer software.

Then one day while playing a relaxing game, he found himself trapped in another reality with thousands of others in a very not relaxing game of death and monsters and betrayal and desperation.

Kirito was born on the plains of Aincrad with a simple black blade in hand and a dead wolf decomposing behind him.

'Naïve' says the dark voice in his head (he can't hear the light side anymore) as he watches the happy group of teenagers enjoying an end of the day snack. They've let him back into the group relatively easily despite his momentary 'freak out' as Issei had taken to calling it.

Apparently any man who'd turn away from having his own personal harem was not right in the head.

There's still some distrust, his reaction has not been totally forgotten even with Issei breaking up any remaining tension like the hammer he is. He's been careful to keep his expression vaguely uncomfortable and to focus his attention on the other new member, they wouldn't trust a total turnaround and his love needed him to keep this bridge from burning before they had more information.

'Skilled but inexperienced to true battle' the dark voice points out noticing some of the subtle changes in their various stances, but they lacked that relaxed posture of a veteran, who didn't even need to think about putting up their guard because even at their most relaxed they were always on guard.

'Be wary of Himejima' he thought noting the girl's eyes on him the most even as he smiled at Issei's antics, 'She's seen the most of me, and is reasonably more intelligent than her heiress master; a blade in the dark, cleaning up her master's messes from the shadows'

Kirito had been the one of the most hated player in this death game, second only to the leader of the Murderers Guild Laughing Coffin, POH.

Those who were only kinda close to him assumed it was because of that day the players of Aincrad had defeated its first major monster or 'Boss'; when that dumbass Kibaou had raised up an angry mob against people like Kirito. Kirito, to keep the peace, decided to separate himself from the others as some kind of ultimate bastard and make himself the focal point of that hate, a scapegoat, The Beater.

But as his closer friends, who just so happened to be the more intelligent and stronger than the average player, knew there was no way that he could stay one of the most hated after one singular event that happened years ago witnessed by a scant thirty people or so. Certainly not in a reality thriving with liars, thieves, killers, wild beasts and of course the real monsters like POH, Jonny Black, Kurdeel, and Grimlock running around.

No Kirito was as hated as he was not for one mere isolated event, but because he was a survivor

"Thank you for the tea Himejima, while my old lady is the best cook I've ever known, your tea is divine" Kirito said with a polite smile

"Fufufu, considering what I am, I don't know whether that's a compliment or an insult Kazuto-kun" she said in a sly tone using his first name affectionately without permission.

He didn't react to it other than with a sheepish smile before mildly surprising the others with some snarky retort or other considering the overly polite if distant regard he gave the rest of them.

'Do not show your guard around her, your more familiar with her, it's natural to be more relaxed around her. If she believes she has your trust you can gain hers

Though he could honestly say he'd never killed someone that wasn't A) already a murderer and B) hadn't already been in the process of trying to kill him; he could say he had indirectly led to the death of countless others.

He took precious supplies, he ignored the pleas of others if he felt something was beyond his capabilities, he stepped over (though not exactly on) the weak.

His closest friends would say that he had a good heart, a disturbingly pragmatic mind, but a good heart nonetheless.

Kirito knew the truth

"Now now Akeno don't tease our newest members too much" the red haired tart said in the same benevolent voice she'd used since he'd first met her.

'Arrogant' he categorized unemotionally, 'Intelligent and hardworking true, but it is the intelligence of one who has seen the world from a book, the hard work of someone who merely wants for things, not someone who desperately hungers for and claws after what she desires'

It wasn't hard to tell, the way she spoke could be called pretentious by one being brutally honest or childish by someone being biased; he went for the brutally honest descriptor not willing to take chances with his own arrogance Kirito never underestimated anyone, ever. He'd paid for that before (A blade coming for him, the sickening certainty of knowing he was dead and then his love moving against all odds between him and oncoming death).

"Thank you… Buchou" he said in a quieter but not hostile tone, and watched as the prideful girl straightened just that much more, already excepting the intangible challenge of "gaining his trust". 'Pride blinds people, you have experience with that kind of Ojou, use her pride against her; she's in some desperate hurry for loyal pieces and won't be as careful to keep out someone at least willing to be captured by her. Be kind, be courteous, but never forget she made you a slave there's NO need for mercy with this one.

And the terrible truth known to only his love and maybe Klein was that he was a damn snake. A snake that didn't have the heart to take the coldness of his mind; his random good deeds were not because of some inner saint, but to escape the constant crippling guilt of his other actions.

Over in the corner of the room Issei raged at Kiba, presumably for the crime of being handsome, his loud theatrics once again making him the center of attention in the little group. He felt the cool gaze of the king's shadow finally leave him and watch the pawn curiously.

'The fool will be the smokes screen, a few whispered words here and there to his obviously easily manipulated head will fan his flames and hide the monster. He owes you that much at least, besides looking at him over there, you can't safe a fool that doesn't want to be saved'

He's just killed three people from a murderer's guild and needs to lay low more than usual, a group of newbies just starting their journey catches his eye, just skilled enough to survive but not progress, they'll do. He grows attached to the girl and comforts her, her safety becomes a personal redemption for him to quiet the guilt. Even as they all die around him he can't bring himself to show his true skill in front of them, not even to safe their lives.

"Hm, I didn't know you were so obsessed with how attractive I am Hyoudo, but I'm afraid I must tell you I don't really swing that way." The swordsman teased with a pretty smile as the pawn raged

'The stance says swordsman, he could be useable, that smile is disgustingly empty; get close to him and find what was promised to him and drive a nail into it.'

He hears a rumor for a rare material on icy mountains that can be used to craft an excellent blade, no one sane will make that climb to that monster pit and he needs a blacksmith to get it; the brown haired girl that he's kinda sorta friends with and may feel something more for has a friend whose a blacksmith. He pumps her for information about this friend and when he finally meets her its like he's known her for years, knows her so well it only takes a single conversation and some theatrics before she's risking her life to get this material with him.

"Idiot" said the little white haired girl, Koneko, as she continued to munch on her snacks

'Be wary of this one as well, she has trust issues and will ignore everything you present as evidence of trustworthiness until her own timetable says she's known you long enough. But she's not as observant or even passably guarded, take her down first if need be.

A man spends three days wandering the front lines with tears in his eyes begging for someone strong enough to help get justice for his friends, ambushed and killed. He watches in silence with all the others before a nightmare of him ignoring the screams of others in that exact situation drives him to investigate. The man thanks him with sobs of relief and anguish… he uses a little girl he finds lost and alone as bait to lure the bandits out.

"Well" Kirito said standing up and once again gaining the attention of the room, he put on a slightly uncomfortable smile, "As…fun… as this all was, it's getting late and I really should be getting home."

It wasn't but he wasn't supposed to be all that comfortable in their presence

"I'll see you later?" he asked with more of a questioning tone towards Tart-chan, who gave him a benevolent nod.

"Report back here tomorrow after school though please, there's still much to go over."

He nodded before turning and exiting without another word, he had no intention of coming back to hear her little welcome to the Underworld speech, after all-

"Please teach me Gremory-sama" he intoned with a formal bow, the suddenness of the movement hiding where he'd stuck a USB into her tablet.

"STOP" his new 'master' yelled and he straightened slowly, collecting the small electronic device

He asked for his book bag before leaving the office to the sitting room, as expected the more observant of subservient of the two went to complete the menial task of collecting his bag; several important looking documents disappeared from the desk before she came back

…he already had everything he needed

And the monster smiled

.

.

.

End of Part Two