Part of the MTNN week back from December.
Prompt: Partnership.

When he stepped into the mouth of that stupid lowlife excuse of a demon, he didn't expect to land exactly in front of the Imperial Palace grounds. Really. In his mind he was coming quietly on a lonely field or maybe an abandoned building, like most in this wasteland named Hell, recover easily in a few gulps of miasma, and get his ass back to her realm.

It seemed easy, right?

Well, it seems that Fate, or whatever it was, decided to keep messing with his superior mind.

"The Brain Eater is back!" he heard a sentinel's voice scream from the tall watching tower just a few metres from his position.

He squinted his eyes and looked up to the idiot announcing his unwanted return, wanting to kill him himself. He didn't like the attention. It only brought morons and annoying people. He was supposed to fill in a role on this place, as he was one of the most powerful demons alive. He was young, but he had been accepted as a Court member a long time ago, even if he didn't agree to it, resulting in his person skipping every duty he had and searching for more mysteries on Hell.

He hated coming back. This place was so bland and simple looking. There was a reason why he risked his life in going to the surface and suffered the lack of breathable air; these people were simple minded and servicing, leaving every decision they could to a demon of higher status, and those in the highest position justified their lack of initiative with some kind of mystical power called "Fate".

He sniffed the air a little bit, frowning as he detected no interesting mystery on a big radius around him. So boring. He already wanted to come back.

"Welcome back, Neuro-sama," said a woman, a dog demon by the animal ears on top of her ears, and in a servant attire. It was some kind of kimono, stolen from the surface so long ago, when demons used to go there constantly. Some even where idolised as gods. Those times were over, but the Imperial Palace in the Japanese Edo style was the last remaining memento of that. That's why the Emperor was that, and was not called "King".

He grunted as an answer. This was going to take so long.

"So, you're telling me that you came to the World Above by yourself and fought until your last reserve of demon energy?" one on the annoying Court demons was laughing at his tale.

He was currently in some sort of trial for his crime of leaving without notice to her world. The other members of the Court were present in tall and imposing chairs in a circle around him, and the Emperor sitting as a judge in front of him. He had been impassive the whole time, a bored look on his four deep black eyes, his head leaning on the hand which arm was on the armrest. But he was listening, Neuro was sure of it. The Emperor was no fool and liked to know everything about his subjects.

"Boy, I knew you were reckless, but this …," the same obnoxious demon was still laughing.

"Enough." The Emperor stood up, the room turning into stone at his formidable presence. Neuro fought to stay firm in his place and not show any emotion. "Tell me, child, what would push a demon as powerful as you into such a state?"

The Brain Eater's eye twitched when called "child", but answered his superior's question.

"Food, sir. I am a mystery eater and I found no more food source in this realm."

"Do no jest with me, weakling," the Emperor glared the bird demon. "I have been listening to your fantastic tale about the human world, but I can see some incongruences. I'll repeat one more time: Why did you let yourself be harmed in such a way? A worthy member of my Court does not make such mistakes."

Neuro did not answer at first. He knew what he was asking. Obviously. But he didn't want to bring unwanted attention to her , not like this, not when he could do nothing to protect what was his from these morons.

He closed his eyes. He could not lie to the Emperor or any possibility of coming back to the World Above would vanish forever.

"I found… a partner. In a human from up there," he confessed, trying to stay vague.

"Partner?" someone whispered.

"The Brain Eater?"



But neither the Emperor nor him were listening. The piercing gaze of his superior pinned him to the ground and he swore that the demon was literally searching on his mind to find more information about this mysterious partner. The pointed ears twitched now and then, probably listening to the unsettled Court, or maybe listening to something no one could heard. The full repertoire of abilities of the Emperor was unknown to everyone except his mate. But she wasn't present at the moment.

"Answer one more thing, child, and I'll decide your destiny," the enormous demon said making a little pause, waiting for the Court members to shut up. "Is this partner worth the risk?"

The bird demon pondered his answer carefully. In demon laws, a partner could mean from a mate to a loyal servant. A worthy partner was someone who a demon could fully trust, someone that wouldn't be lied to, a companion for all eternity. And for a demon of his calibre, a "partner" meant so much more than that, as the trust of a Court member meant the trust of the Emperor himself. A Court's partner couldn't be chosen lightly and wouldn't be chosen by a single Court member. But, as always, Neuro was skipping all protocols.

Was Yako worthy?

Well, he didn't promote her to a top slug for nothing.

"Yes, she is," he said with a smirk. And room blew up in screams from a very angry Court.

As he stood there looking at the freshly opened portal to the human world, to her world as he had been assured, Neuro thought back to the condition the Emperor set for letting him go back to the same realm to see his partner.

"In a cycle's time you have to bring her here for some testings. You may have skipped the protocols, but I won't permit a weakling human tainting my domain. She will have her worth be tested and if she succeeds, she will have a chair on my Court as your assistant," the demon stopped, giving him a meaningful look, and smirked before turning back to the exit, "or whatever you may want of her by then."

He knew what he was implying, but he didn't care. That was something to ponder about later, when he had her at his mercy. Then, he would decide what he wanted his partner to be.

For now, he had a plane to crash.