Disclaimer: I do not own Escaflowne and am in no way affiliated with its creation, licensing and/or patents.

Chapter One:
Poison

Anger and frustration coursed through his veins; chest heaving, blood boiling he couldn't hold back the snarl as his clenched fist slammed against the thick wooden table before him. Openly cursing, the King of Fanalia, Van Salanzar de Fanel, narrowed his eyes at the man opposite of him; oblivious to the shocked faces of those around him. He growled out, "We've only just managed to rebuild, the people have only begun to return. A decision like this would only serve to rip our country further apart!"

One of the men seated at the table raised his hand to protest but Van silenced him with a single murderous look. Standing abruptly, the wood chair he'd sat in knocking to the ground behind him. "This is a waste of time." He declared, hand gripping the royal sword as he stalked towards the door. "Come up with a less foolish resolution, one that will not divide and destroy this country. Until then this meeting is over!" The door slammed heavily behind him, echoing through the room.

The men sat in stunned silence, looking to one another cautiously. "What was that about?"

His mind a swirl of anger Van made his way to his private study, one or two of the maids who happened to cross his path jumped back in partial shock at the dark look on the kings face. No doubt if he'd actually glanced at one of them they'd have surely fainted on the spot. Reaching is chambers he wrenched the door open and slammed it behind him, rattling the frame and echoing down the halls of the Fanalian castle. He was still seeing red and his breathing still visibly heavy, the king ran a frustrated hand through his raven hair in a vain attempt to calm himself.

Stalking to the widow he threw open the heavy curtain, throwing himself down in the chair at his desk he turned to look out the window at his kingdom. Perhaps a bit of sunshine would serve to cool him down.

Gossip always traveled quickly in the downstairs and the twitter behind the maids hands caught Merles attention immediately. Of course she could hear the bang of the Kings chamber crashing closed, who couldn't, but it was the talk of the Kings tantrum in the counsel room that worried her. Unable to open the locked door, the catwoman dropped down to the balcony with a look of obvious concern. "Lord Van," she ventured. "Is something the matter?"

The Fanalian King was hunched over his desk, papers had been scattered either by the wind or his own hand. Flinching at the sound of Merles voice he turned around, trying to ease the tension he felt; instead it flared again and he couldn't stop the snarl from escaping his lips. "Filthy money grubbing, arrogant, aristocratic sons of a—"

Merles hands splayed wide in front of her, "Woah! I can see someone's upset." Van turned an angry glare and scowl at her that caused her ears to flatten against her cotton candy hair. "Maybe," she ventured slowly. "Maybe you should take a deep breath and calm down a little, Lord Van?"

Unfortunately, the advice only fueled his anger. "Calm down," he shouted, hands clenching. "Merle they want to form sanctions that would prohibit trade of key exports with allied countries!" His foot stomped down hard grinding, what Merle could only assume, were the heads of those in the counsel into dust. "An action like that would put Fanalia into a decline. Not to mention jeopardize the Destiny War treaties. Those, those arrogant fools don't care about Fanelia! Only what they can line their pockets with."

The catwoman rolled her large blue eyes, "Someone's being dramatic." She came across the floor to stand next to an obviously ruffled Van and began picking up the papers that littered the floor. She could tell that they were indeed the papers on the trade negotiations. "Lord Van, do you think the stress is getting to you?" She avoided looking directly at his piercing eyes and pretended not to see the searing glare he shot at her. "You've been working far too hard lately. You need to relax. I told you, go to Astoria with Hitomi, but you wouldn't listen."

At the mention of Hitomi all the fight seemed to leave his body, his posture relaxed slightly only to tense again a second later. "I could have never gone Merle." His eyes went to the chair she usually sat to read, he missed her presence. "There's far too much to do here. I don't even understand why she left to visit The Estate." Those two last words left a bad taste in his mouth.

Unfortunately for him, Merle didn't miss it. "The Estate? That's the reason you're upset," she said as if he were joking. "Because she went to visit with Allen and Celena at the Schezar Estate?" His shoulder flinched and Merle knew she'd hit the nail on the head. "Don't tell me you're still worried about Allen?"

When Hitomi had first come back to Gaea, come back to him, Allen hadn't been too far behind. The pillar of light wasn't entirely difficult to notice after all. The knight had come to Fanalia looking to rekindle his relationship with the former Seer, perhaps wooing her back to seeing him as a potential lover. Fortunately for Van, Hitomi only had eyes for him. But the advances on his fiancé put a chip on the king's shoulder, even now he found it hard to call the man a close friend. "I don't want to talk about it Merle."

The day before their wedding, Van recalled how the knight had been overly sweet with Hitomi. It was hard to avoid seeing the longing glances Allen had cast towards Hitomi during the dinner, when she'd walked down the aisle. Even remembering the war pained him; her pining over the knight, the touches, the blush, the bridge. Van ground his teeth together.

His sister snorted, walking past him in a huff and bumping into his arm. "Men," she muttered, opening the door to leave. "I'm not sure what is really wrong with you but I will say that Hitomi chose you Lord Van. Not Allen." Her tail flicked behind her in irritation when he didn't turn to meet her gaze. "It's late. Have a good night, Lord Van. I hope that tomorrow sees you in a better mood." With that she left him alone for the evening.

He stood in the room for a moment in silence, Merle was right. Hitomi had chosen him, she'd made her decision before she'd even left Gaea. She'd saved his life and even when she'd come back, it was to join him. A smile spread on his lips at the thought, his shoulders relaxed and some of the tension lessened in his back.

With a heavy sigh he pushed the thoughts away; pulling his tunic open and itching at a spot on his shoulder the king continued unbuttoning the shirt and walked through the door to the adjoining suite. Of course Merle was right; Hitomi had come back with him. Just because she was in Austoria didn't mean she was seeing only the Cailie Knight. Surely she was visiting Dryden and Melarna as well during her stay. Looking over towards the bed, his eyes lingered on Hitomi's side, empty. With a frown he realized that Merle was right, he did need a break.

Scratching his shoulder roughly again he shuffled around with his nightly ritual, rinsing his face at the basin before drying it with a towel. But she was istaying/i at the Estate. He reminded himself, brows drawing together in frustration. Why couldn't it have been an Inn or at the Palace with Melarna? Curse his shoulder itched, digging with his nails at the dry skin.

His fingers brushed over the spot that itched. It felt, odd. Pulling away the shoulder of his tunic Van's eyes grew wide in shock while looking at the patch of dry skin. Dashing to the mirror he shed the tunic in a pile on the floor, his eyes growing wide in shock as he turned in the mirror looking at his back. There reflecting back was a darkened black patch of dry skin extending from the center of his back over his shoulder. Looking at it in the mirror a piercing pain shot through him, fire spread over his shoulder and Van doubled over against the mirror.

He watched in horror as the dark patch spread along his skin closer to his neck and down towards his chest. "What. What the hell is happening?"

End of Chapter One

Hello Kittens,

I've decided to start rewriting a favorite of mine. I started redoing this fic a while ago and it dropped off the face of the map for me. But I've picked it back up and I'm determined to finish adjusting the story line in the next month.

I do want to remind anyone reading this that it is a fanfiction of a fanfiction. The original story line is written by Leila Hime and titled Kuro Ryuujin. I love giving credit where credit is due and this story does follow Leila's closely but things are different.

I do request that you the reader refrain from flaming and take the time to read. Constructive critique is always welcome though.

See you all next chapter Kittens.

-V