(Note: Hunter is referred to mostly as a "he" in this story. However, it could easily go either way.)
In hell, especially in the Northern District, it rarely rained.
This, however, was not the cause of a certain princess' distemperment.
Linna Omega-clan wasn't a hateful demon. The crown princess was stern and serious to a fault, but not hateful. The princess' caretaker knew that Linna's frail little brother would fear her if she was too hateful. This was far from true: Kisle adored his sister.
Yet Hunter knew without a doubt that Lady Linna hated the devil Mugendie.
It was natural for demons to be hateful of Mugendie. He was, after all, called their 'God of Death', because he alone was responsible for more than half the demon deaths in hell. To die by Mugendie's will was to die of 'natural causes'. But for reasons unknown to Hunter, Lady Linna's hatred of the devil had risen to unnatural levels, and was rapidly nearing the point where it could become unhealthy. It spurred her into many a foul mood.
Today was no different.
"Damn, stupid..." Linna muttered, albureque sword in hand. The blade was quite dense and would have been too heavy to carry if it were not an extension of her own magic.
Hunter had placed himself far on the other end of the training grounds from where the princess was currently pacing. He knew quite well that when the silver-magic leveled princess was in a bad mood, only her more powerful parents could snap her out of it. (Well, her parents and her little brother.)
At the age of 9515, the future crowness (queen) of the synth dragons was nearly halfway to adulthood. Her long blood red hair was the proper length - 8.3 feet - and Hunter spent many hours every week carefully binding the length to prevent it from dragging on the ground. Prince Kisle was 6575, and had been sickly since the day he had hatched from his fairly normal looking egg.
Kisle was seated a few yards from Linna, covered in a heavy grey cloak. He was toying with the end of his abnormally short ponytail while watching Linna.
"Few can master the synthesis blade, and yet you wave it around like a toy," Hunter called mildly from his spot across the room.
"Shut up!" Linna snarled, swinging the albureque at the wall and leaving a gash two yards long. Hunter sighed, adding this to his list of thing that needed to be repaired.
"Lord Hunter, please don't egg her on," Kisle said softly.
"Just doing my job."
Linna stomped her foot. She was glaring at the gash she had left in the wall.
"What's wrong, Linna?" Kisle asked, drawing his cloak more tightly around him.
"Nothing!" She turned on him, tip of the albureque grazing his nose. He didn't flinch, didn't look away. Linna sighed.
"What's wrong, Linna?" The question, repeated, was as calm as it had been the first time.
"Nothing's wrong, Kisle," she said, turning back to the wall. He was silent, as if waiting for the right time to repeat the question.
With another little sigh, Linna waved her hand. The sword disappeared as it was reabsorbed into her magic field. She sat on the floor, legs tucked under her.
"Light Echo was attacked yesterday," she said after a moment.
"That's where the West Temple is," Kisle said.
"Mm-hmm." Linna frowned. "Two of the elder priests at the temple were killed, along with about ninety other demons who were in the area."
"You should read the news more, Kisle," Hunter said. He had moved closer to the siblings.
"I would, if someone hadn't decided that it was bad for my health."
"Well, it is," Hunter mumbled.
"Their deaths were the work of Mugendie," Linna said.
"Mugendie..." Kisle shrunk back at the mention of the devil. Hunter frowned.
"Linna, you promised your father--"
"I promised him that I would stop thinking about chasing after Mugendie."
"Yes, that's right."
"And I will keep my word. But if he comes here, I will have no choice but to defend the North Temple."
"Linna, you can't fight Mugendie! You wouldn't stand a chance against him!"
She stared at the scarred floor, smiling faintly. "I know."
"Don't worry, dearest Kisle. If you are lucky, the devil Mugendie will stay out of the Northern District." Linna rose to her feet, not looking back down at her brother. "If you're lucky."
"Me? But what about you? I don't want you to die!"
She bent, kissing his crown. "I told you not to worry."
"It's all I have..." he trailed off as she took his hands and helped him to his feet.
"I know. But don't trouble yourself worrying about me. You'll just get yourself sick again."
"I'm always sick."
"You know what I mean." Linna took the cane that Hunter brought over to them. "I hate having to carry you to the temple for morning prayer." She held the cane out to Kisle--he was a bit too proud to ever take it from Hunter.
"You said I'm not heavy." He took the cane, shifting his weight off of Linna's arm.
"You're not." They started for the exit, Hunter trailing behind. "You need to put on weight, little man."
"I don't want to get fat."
Linna laughed at this, but the sound echoed oddly in the training room. "Doubtful that that will be a problem."
Five days later Hunter was busy doing one of his main jobs--binding Linna's long heavy mass of red hair. The princess sat on a bench, her back rigid and her eyes closed. Linna's lips were pursed, and Hunter frowned, knowing that whatever was going through the young woman's head wasn't good.
After twenty minutes of silence, Linna's eyes opened slowly. She stared into the mirror.
"Why don't you ever smile?"
"Hmm?" Hunter paused in his work, his hands full of hair.
"You never smile, Hunter."
"I'm sure I do."
Linna shook her head minutely, as to not disturb Hunter's careful work. "I've known you since the day I hatched. You've followed me almost constantly since I matured into my middle stage. And yet I can't seem to remember you ever smiling."
Hunter looked at Linna in their reflection, then continued binding her hair. "I suppose I bear too great a burden to be smiling."
"What burden? I didn't think having to do my hair was such a stressful job."
"It's not that, milady..." Hunter sighed, not looking up. "I just worry about you."
"I'm capable of taking care of myself."
"Everyone worries about you, Linna," Hunter said. "I'm supposed to make sure you don't get into any serious trouble. And I know I can't really stop you from doing something reckless."
"I'm not stupid."
"Perhaps..." Hunter chewed on his lower lip for a moment. "But you're my responsibility for being properly raised. Just like your father once was, and his father too."
"You could always retire."
"That...that doesn't change the fact that I really care about you, Linna! And if you ever got hurt, I'd never forgive myself!"
Linna stared into the mirror, mouth open in surprise. Hunter turned away, raising a hand to his face.
"I'm sorry," Linna whispered.
Hunter had been silent during the rest of that day's hair binding. He was also unusually quiet the rest of the day. The next day he and Linna waited outside of Kisle's room before morning prayer.
"I want to apologize for my outburst yesterday," Hunter said.
"You've no reason to apologize."
"I should know my place."
"Your place is here," Linna said, smiling faintly. She looked at the door to her brother's room. "Someone has to look after him."
The bad news came the next afternoon, in the form of screams and smoke that reached the royal palace long before the news communications did.
Mugendie had attacked the Northern Temple.
Linna had to be restrained by her parents, a black level spell (which overpowered Linna's own magic) keeping her seated in place in the main hall.
"That bastard! How dare he! Augh! Why won't you let me go?!" Linna was ranting, as she had been ever since the first screams had sounded. The Temple was very close--nearly on palace grounds. The crowne had been quick to keep his daughter in place. Everyone knew about Linna's desires. They were all, as Hunter had said, very worried.
"Linna, please calm down! Please!" Kisle was collapsed at his sister's feet. He'd tired himself out after spending the last hour begging for Linna's temper to subside.
"Dammit all! Why--"
"Please!" Kisle's voice broke finally broke into a sob.
Linna struggled against her bonds, growling for a moment before falling silent. The others present stared at her curiously.
"I'm very sorry about this, milady," Hunter called from his 'safe' spot a few yards away.
Linna stared down at Kisle, who had his face pressed against her legs. He was still crying. The dark angry color faded from Linna's cheeks, and her voice had dropped to a frighteningly soft and gentle tone when she next spoke.
"I'm sorry, my brother. Please don't cry, alright? You'll just get yourself sick. Don't cry, Kisle. I won't yell anymore. Please don't cry. I'll stop yelling..."
Kisle's sobs eventually quieted, and Linna fell silent. She stared at the floor.
An hour passed in the strange silence. Kisle was still at Linna's feet when their parents returned from the Temple. Linna looked at the dragons as they entered the hall. Their whitish hides were stained with smoke and violet-red smears of dried blood.
"Please tell me what he did," Linna said softly.
The crowne and crowness exchanged a tired, uncertain look. "You'll just work yourself into another fit, Linna."
"I'll go into an even worse one if you don't tell me."
"This is true." Her mother sighed and shook her head. "You might as well tell her, Malakyte."
The crowness turned to Hunter. "Come, Hunter. Bring Kisle with you. He needs to be put to bed."
"No!" Kisle wrapped his arms around his sister's ankles, but it only took a tentacle or two to pull him free.
"Come on, Lord Kisle. Time to get some rest." Hunter hefted the young prince over his shoulder, avoiding eye contact with Linna.
The crowne waited until the trio was gone before he spoke. "Linna, I want you to promise me that you won't go to the Northern Temple."
"I can't promise that."
He snorted in annoyance. "Do I have to restrain you until this is over?"
"It will never be over, Father!" Linna struggled a bit. "You know it won't be over unless Mugendie is stopped! He'll just keep terrorizing and killing until something is done about him!"
"We can't do anything about him," Malakyte said. "We are powerless against him--all we can do is clean up after what he does!"
"I will stop him," Linna growled.
"You will do no such thing, young lady! I forbid you from going out and getting yourself killed!"
"I'll be fine!"
She didn't say anything, just stared at her father. It was clear in each dragon's olivine-green eyes that they were not going to back down on the subject.
"....if not for me, then for your brother."
Linna hesitated briefly. "Leave him out of it."
"Leave Kisle out of this!!"
Malakyte sighed. "Stupid stubborn girl."
"Hmph." Linna looked toward the windows at the end of the hall. "You didn't tell me what Mugendie did."
The crowne scratched the edge of one of his horns. "It wasn't much worse than what happened at the other temples. Several of the elder priests were killed, along with many others who were there for other reasons. He horribly wounded those that were too young to kill."
"They will live in pain until they are old enough to die," Linna said lowly.
"Yes, I know. But I suppose we're lucky he didn't attack during prayer this morning."
"He would have killed you, Father."
"Where is he now?"
He paused. "Well... not there. He left after the attack. Just like at the other temples. A few witnesses said that they saw him wandering off in the direction of the Devil's District."
"Just be glad that he left. He could have easily attacked the palace afterwards."
Linna frowned. "He would've hurt Kisle..."
"And you, and Hunter, and everyone else."
She didn't respond.
"I'm going to let you go now, but you have to promise not to do anything stupid." He rested a clawed hand on her shoulder, and the black magic holding her in place dissipated.
"....thank you, Father."
[ part 2 ]
Demonic Boppu is hosted
on Keenspace, a free webhosting and site automation service for webcomics.
Demonic Boppu and Evitsu Evitsu are property of Sforzie (Michelle Thompson), © 2001-2005. Steal and I sic Mugy on you. ^_^