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Abadeer Tyrano

The Prince

0 · 111 views · located in The Prince's Palace

a character in “Heaven Help You”, as played by ianna_334

Description

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The only reason to be alive is to enjoy it

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Pride Demon
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Theme Song├┤N/A

The current Prince of Hell, Abadeer Tyrano knows he's living the dream. He's a pride demon, a direct descendant of the legacies of old, rumoured to have ties to Lucifer himself, if you subscribe to that particular origin story. A particularly large demon, he is an able fighter, with hoards of loyal demons and a command over an old, ancient magic.

He fought in the war against the angels, and through that, built the reputation upon which he sustains his rule. These days, Abadeer lives a life of indulgence, providing a hedonistic lifestyle for himself and anyone under his sway. His wife is more a friend than a lover, but she is a dear friend indeed. Their arranged marriage exists on a mutual understanding, and Abadeer is free to chase his whims, while she lives peacefully with her truest companion.

Abadeer is well known for his lustful appetite, although he keeps a surprisingly low profile with his paramours. The thrill of a new relationship captivates him, and he maintains that his relationships with the extraordinary demons he courts have only enriched his life, making him a better, stronger ruler. His lovers know that eventually, the Demon Prince will move on, but after the whirlwind romance, what's left behind is a place in the Prince's harem. A beautiful room of luxurious, any resource for any hobby imaginable, and the chance, once in a while, to catch his eye again. His protection never leaves those he once loved, because, as he claims, he never stops loving them.

His newest lover feels different, but then again, so did many of the others. But the demon he's courted is enchanting, and Abadeer was glad to show him off at this gala. His guards claim there's an assassin out for him though, and they've rounded up seven suspects to find the real killer. He's not exactly afraid of any of them, but some of the demons on the list are surprising, and he's willing to see what happens if he goes along with this plan.

So begins...

Abadeer Tyrano's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Abadeer Tyrano Character Portrait: Amos
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【"I've been caught, it seems. Doing what? I'm not sure."】
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【Main Hall→Cyr's Room】
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【#5A8D88】
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The galas The Prince threw were a special sort. Any wealthy enough demon could open their home for an evening, throw a gala to show off their territory, but no one else had a whole castle for the specific purpose of putting on absurdly opulent parties, hazy with manic indolence and luxury. Demons from all over put aside everything and anything else to make an appearance, whether for a day, or the full four-day duration of the gala. Cyr had been obligated to go, along with his parents from the time he’d finally come into his powers. This year, however, had been different. His parents had sent him on his own, with a necklace and a promise.

This would be his last gala as an independent demon. So, in true fashion, Cyr made it his goal to enjoy it to its fullest. What else could he do? Who knew who his new contractor would be? He couldn’t even think of them as a potential mate, it had to be a business deal. Why else would someone agree to such terms without even meeting him? They’d probably coop him up inside all the time and ignore him.

But it was so easy to put those nagging thoughts and worries aside here. Instead, he lingered late hours in the various dancing halls--those with live performers, those with music that filtered from somewhere in the high ceilings, obscured by the dim, musky lighting. He even popped by the small hall where loud human music seemed to be constantly blaring. Those demons who preferred human artists were their own...brand, but to each their own. It certainly reminded Cyr of late nights and early mornings, and the impossible way the earthen sky seemed to reach into infinity.

The golden hours of the night were Cyr’s favorite, when the heat of the day dwindled. The blood moon still bathed the landscape in a strange, maroon sheen, glowing dimly through the slender gothic windows. During the day, demons lay lazily, grazing on the plentiful food strewn about, napping and making small talk, playing pretend with The Prince’s opulent toys. When the sun set, they seemed to come to life--a frenzy of skin and voice, wild movement and a sheen of sweat gleaming here and there under the dim artificial lights. Cyr couldn’t deny the draw of bodies on every side, the thrill of dancing with strangers who didn’t care who was who, only hungered for the nearness of another.

Today was the last day, however. One more night, and then, in the morning, they would all go home, strung out on four wild nights of sin and ecstasy. While his body was aching for sleep, he knew he should make the most of this time--he couldn’t let a drop slip by. He’d spent some time out in the sprawling gardens, enjoying the cool spray of a large fountain while watching a half-dressed couple dart out of the bushes and back towards the guest quarters.

He’d worn his nicest clothes today, however, and he was obligated to show them off, even if he’d already shed the black suit jacket with the family’s crest, a hawk with a snake in its talons, and rolled up his sleeves to his elbows, the thread count on his shirtsleeves was nothing to sneeze at. Near midmorning, he wandered back inside, towards the main hall. The Prince, in a rare appearance, was making conversation among the guests. Cyr watched him quietly as he found himself a comfortable table to settle down at, a glass of pale pink wine in hand. The Prince was truly an intimidating figure, a strong face, a powerful jaw, the hint of grey at his temple. He towered over almost everyone at the gala, and his biceps looked like he could snap a neck with just one massive hand. Cyr sighed wistfully, watching him cutting a path through the small crowd that now surrounded him.

An old friend, however, distracted him from his admiration, her young face shining up at him. Bezabelle was always good for a chat, friendly and cheerful. She never seemed to want anything from him, but hanging out with her was always a good time. Indeed, somehow, every time he finished his wine, another one was in his hand. As the conversation turned towards the future, he was in no place to refuse another glass, and then another. Perhaps the sweet, effervescent wine would soothe the ache in his chest.

The drunken haze that settled down on him led Cyr to lay his face down on the cool table, wondering when and where Bez had wandered off to. He couldn’t remember how long ago they’d been talking. What time was it now? He wasn’t usually one to get drunk, but it was so hard to stop drinking once he started when the wine seemed to flow from his palm into his mouth.

Sudden hands on his arms were only enough to sober him partially. “
Hey, no need to be rough,” he snapped, jerking his head off and trying to shrug off the two large demons that had just grabbed him by either bicep. Royal Guards? Was he being kicked out? But he hadn’t done anything wrong at all?

Hey, what’s the problem?” he slurred, trying to jerk his arms out of the guards’ grip. “Let me go!” Perhaps he could have taken them if he wasn’t drunk off his heels. As it was, he could barely keep up as the pair frog marched him out of the main hall. He tried to reach out with allure to make them let go, but that only earned him a sharp grunt and a thick hand twisting his arm higher up behind him, causing him to hiss with pain.

After a long walk to an increasingly deserted wing of the castle, Cyr was unceremoniously shoved through a door. When he turned to confront his manhandlers, however, there was only a flat wall in front of him and a headache blooming in his brain. What in the Hell? What was their problem?

Cyr glanced around. There were several openings into other rooms, and as he stepped closer to one of them, he saw his own suitcases and bags sitting beside the bed. Was he being relocated? Had he done something to anger the Prince enough to be put in the time-out corner? Cyr scowled. Tonight was supposed to be his last night of fun, would he be spending it locked up here?

He cursed softly, shrugging out of his suspenders and stripping off his shirt before falling face first onto the neatly made bed. This majorly sucked.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Myut Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Valramir Character Portrait: Vivian Lacerta Character Portrait: Abadeer Tyrano Character Portrait: Amos Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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#, as written by slcam
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【How did this go from a dream to a nightmare...】
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【The Gala (Yes, all of it) → The Secret Time Out Room】
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To say Bezabelle was having the time of her life would be an understatement. After all, this was not just another party. It was the Prince's yearly gala, and arguably the event with the most rampant overindulgence possible. With great power came many perks, and this was a strong example of that. It was well worth the strings Bez had to pull to be here. She had her most flashy formal outfits with her. From cocktail dresses to full out formal wear, she was using the event to display her very best.

Since she was staying at the gala all four days, Bezzie had been talking full advantage of every available indulgence, not to mention taking full advantage of the other demons at the party. She encouraged and participated in overindulgence at every turn. Unlike many demons, she felt little need to stick to a certain social circle. Bez simply joined whatever activity caught her attention. She found that as long as she acted as though she belonged, most warmed to her presence quickly enough. She moved from room to room as whim dictated, sometimes with enough frequency that others commented that Bezabelle seemed to be everywhere at once.

She was pleased to realize that she was spending nearly as much time with acquaintances and friends as with strangers. In the political games of Hell, it mattered who you knew, and even more, how much they were willing to do for you; and Bezabelle knew many, many demons, at least on some level. This also meant that she had plenty of demons to spend time with in all sorts of enjoyable pastimes. She spent each day moving nonstop, making sure that she took part in everything. Her nights stretched later, her mornings getting progressively shorter as the gala progressed. She had a lot to sleep off, after all.

Bez made sure to dedicate time to those at the gala she was closest with as well. With Ino, that meant giving him a push toward what was sure to be delightful drama. With Val, simply enjoying what the banquets and bars had to offer, though there were other delightful pleasures as well. With Myut, a trade of information and favors as well as some quality time. Her most surprising meeting was with Viv, a being she had only met on earth and had assumed was human. Bez thoroughly enjoyed progressing her relationship with the adorably shy, evasive demon. With Eris, she brought the small wrath demon a gift, then helped to start a verbal argument that she knew Eris would get a kick out of. And with Cyr on the fourth morning, a deep conversation aided by far too much alcohol.

She swayed off, unsteady and happily tipsy, from the great hall, leaving Cyr with the promise of snacks when she returned. Her first distraction was an invitation from someone she had met the day before, as she asked Bez to join for a few rounds of a card game. A while later, a smile on her face, Bez moved on toward food. She was interrupted again by the sight of a familiar sloth demon. He'd been very unhappily spending time with a shrill envy woman a couple days before. They seemed to be a long term couple. When the man slipped away, having had more than enough of the bickering, Bez had taken the opportunity to speak with him; and even more enjoyable, to show him the sort of affection he'd been missing. She hadn't seen the envy demon since, but now on the last day of the gala, the sloth demon approached her with thanks. He really was oddly sweet, for a demon. She answered with a kiss on his cheek and an,
"Of course! And I'm sure there will be a time in the future when I'll need a favor, too." She found herself glad that she had chosen to wear her slinkiest, shiniest outfit that day. The sloth demon could not keep his eyes off of her, and she loved feeling like a temptation.

Finally, having gotten a nice abundance of food to share with the poor, very sloshed Cyr, Bez moved back toward the great hall. Though she'd left him half-comatose with his head already resting on the table, he was nowhere to be found by the time she returned. Bez figured he must have gotten tired of waiting in such an uncomfortable position.
Oh well. She scanned the great hall, but saw no one she was especially familiar with. And the Prince was still there, with his group of followers. Bez moved on. To her surprise, there was still no one she was especially familiar with. She settled in with a group that looked potentially hungry and shared in food and gossip.

After breakfast, including a bit more to drink, Bez wandered a bit, finding herself back in the main hall. It was where most of the activities started, before demons drifted off to other activities in other parts of the palace. Bez was also hoping that Cyr would possibly show up again. She couldn't figure out why his leaving bothered her, but it did. In the end, it was likely her fault anyway for getting distracted on her snack run.

Bez found herself near the back corner of the room. She joined a group of demons where a loud discussion was quickly turning into full on drama. Of course, she couldn't resist making well-timed comments that only exacerbated the issue at hand. She simply couldn't resist playing Devil's advocate.

"Beeeezzzyyyyyyy."

Bez turned to see Val near the entrance. He looked excited. Before he could make much headway into the room, guards entered as well. They spotted someone, hurrying into the great hall. Bez went cold as the guards zeroed in on Val, grabbing him and pulling him away. She took a couple steps forward, but… what could she do? What was happening? If she even tried to stop it…. Hesitation froze her in place. Bezabelle did nothing, and Val was gone. What?

She felt a chill go through her as her mind raced through the possibilities. It wasn’t unheard of for demons to go missing, especially if they had caught the ire of a powerful demon. Sometimes it wasn’t necessarily that. There could be no known reason at all. But surely, that wouldn’t happen to Val, would it? It had to be something small. Maybe even a misunderstanding. She would just see him later on and get the hilarious details, right? But something felt off.

Bezabelle began looking on a hunch, pacing from room to room. She put on a smile for any who called out to her, but otherwise ignored a myriad of temptations. It was out of character, and normally would have driven her nuts, but for now she did not care. She had no idea what exactly she was looking for. Just a very familiar face, someone who was more than an acquaintance, to make sure she was overreacting?

Then she saw Viv. Being escorted. By palace guards.

She stopped in her tracks.

No. Nonono. Not good.

Was this really just a coincidence? Could two people from her immediate social circle just happen to get taken away by guards?

She no longer thought so.

Though Viv gave a small wave and flashed a confident expression, Bez only turned pale. As soon as she was out of sight, Bez left in the opposite direction, now near frantic. There were at least a handful of people that she desperately wanted to find. Perhaps just for reassurance, or maybe to warn them that something was happening. But now, she could find none of them. Not Cyr, nor Ino, nor Myut. Finally, she did find Eris. But only because a crowd was gathering. Eris was being taken away by guards, fighting with everything she had. Why? Her sloth demon was nowhere in sight. Bez could smell smoke, now, just a faint whiff in the air. No, this was too much. Three demons had been taken away by the guards. Three of her friends. There was no way that everyone she was close to at the party was disappearing by coincidence.

Whether the guards would come after her next or not, Bezabelle had a horrible feeling about the situation. Something was very wrong. It would do her no good to stick around. The rooms near the palace entrance were surprisingly crowded. Bez started feeling like she was in a dream where she couldn't run, couldn't get any closer to her goal. She was getting dizzy, and realized she was only breathing in short pants.Then everyone started turning to look at her. This had to be a nightmare. She had to wake up. But now there was a demon man in front of her, barring her way, stopping her progress with a single strong hand on her shoulder.

"I think you'd better stop. They're looking for you, aren't they."

Bez swallowed hard and looked behind her. Despite the distraction Eris had caused, guards were in the room now, shouting that Bezabelle should stop, and gaining now that she had been stopped. She tried to put all the authority she could muster into her tone, but it came out strained and frightened.

"No, no. You don't understand. I just want to leave!" More hands were on her now, pulling her back. The guards! Her pleading turned to shrieks. "No, let me go. Just let go. Please! I'll leave."

"Ms. Bezabelle, it will be much better for you if you just cooperate."

They already had her to the next room. Curious faces watched the spectacle, but none moved to help her. She slipped into using her abilities, and her voice and manner morphed to that of a little girl as she started pleading again.

"Help me! They aren't really guards. Please help!" Bez sobbed in the voice of a child.

There was a demon who took a hesitant step forward, indecisive until a guard stared her down. She backed off, but Bezabelle didn't give up her attempts or her futile resistance. She used her abilities to the fullest, trying to persuade someone, anyone, to step in and help her.

Finally, the guard on her right decided she was causing enough ruckus.
"Shut up. You're just making more trouble for yourself." He clapped a hand over her mouth, cutting off the pleading. Instinctually, she bit his hand before her brain caught up to say that was not a wise idea.

She just caught the movement of his hand rearing back before a blow landed, then a second. A flash of intense pain sent stars spinning behind her eyes, making her knees weak.
"Enough. She's not to be harmed." A gag was forced between her teeth, though she was stunned enough that more yelling was far from her thoughts.

She was still too dazed to keep her feet on her own when she was suddenly thrust forward. She found herself on the floor. But she wasn't alone. Familiar faces looked back at her. Her brain wasn't catching up. They were here. They were all here.

What the hell was happening?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Myut Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Valramir Character Portrait: Vivian Lacerta Character Portrait: Abadeer Tyrano Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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#, as written by slcam
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【"I always put on a brave face when I was the most terrified, the most trapped and out of control."】

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【The Secret Time Out Room- Main sitting area-->Bez's room】

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【#CD5c5c】

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Bezabelle could not decide if it was more reassuring to see all their faces, or if she would have felt better in a room full of strangers. Then Vivian strode over, helping Bez to her feet. She was able to compose herself enough to remember that the gag was still stuffed in her mouth, secured with some scrap of cloth tied at the back of her head. She yanked it away, wincing as she pulled hair, and dropped it to the floor.

Viv asked after how she was and what had happened, and Bez answered with a quick,
"I'm okay, I'm okay. I just... I panicked and fought back. I should have known better."

Viv seemed so serious, so protective, that Bezzie couldn't help but feel better. At least emotionally. The more that the adrenaline and shock wore off, the more sore and bruised she felt from the struggling. The worst was her head.The guards had been rough on her, not tolerating her panic with any real kindness that she could recall.

Ino approached, some kind of powder and a flower in hand.

"Ino! I didn't see them take you. What happened? What is that?"

Bez was already reaching for it, taking it as soon as he offered without reservation. She mostly just wanted to make sure that she was supposed to eat it as is. When he indicated how to take it, as well as what it was for, she dumped the contents into her mouth, following the instruction. It seemed to coat her mouth in a way that was not exactly pleasant but not disgusting either. She would need a clear head, now, to figure things out. She thanked him, looking around the room again, and listened to his interaction with Viv.

Between Vivian’s concern and Ino’s remedy, she was able to compose herself. The panic was repressed to the lowest roar she could manage. As was typical when she felt out of her depth, or when she needed to be able to react in specific ways, she took on a persona, imitation of at least one being. Sometimes it was an imitation of several. It felt like wearing a thick coat, smothering her natural reactions in favor of what she had observed in someone else. She made sure not to imitate any of the six demons in the room. It would be odd if they realized their own mannerisms were being parroted right back at them. Though it was a small use of her abilities, she had been using them rather heavy-handedly in her attempts to escape the guard only moments earlier. Right now, it could only be a very temporary crutch until she got some solid rest. Though whether rest was likely was another question entirely.

At Ino's explanation and his careful words about the Prince, Bez could not help the flash of sympathy. She had heard the rumors, of course. The Prince choosing a new lover. The Prince discarding his new lover for another. And Ino’s disappearance during the same period. On his return, he'd mentioned a failed relationship, though never with whom. As with then, Bez said nothing about what she knew now. It was obvious Ino wasn't ready. She repressed the urge to ask if he wanted to eat. Or, better yet, drink. That could and should wait for later.

On Ino’s suggestion, she moved toward the others. She doubted anyone knew what was happening, but the discussion may still have some interesting information. On impulse, Bez reached for Viv’s hand. She noticed a familiar ring hanging off a bracelet on her wrist, and she smiled up at her.

“Thank you. For checking on me, that is.”

She watched Viv’s face for only a moment longer, then her attention was drawn to the conversation. Bez could only wonder how much of this would be more echoes of uncertainty from six mouths.

Vivian led her over to one of the two armchairs as they approached. Though Vivian seemed to want her to get comfortable, Bez perched lightly at the edge. Her demeanor had completely changed from the panicked girl thrown into the room only moments before. Now she appeared completely calm and collected, her lips quirked with a bit of good humor.

Cyr seemed uncertain, ill at ease for good reason though trying for calm. She'd seen that expression before, just this morning. Ino tried to offer herbs though no one else took him up on it. Bez was already appreciating his expertise, the pounding in her head receding. She chuckled at his sarcastic comment. It made it seem like they were just here to play some bizarre icebreaker game. Val, of course, looked at ease. Maybe even a little pleased with himself? She could feel his aura now, light enough to ease tension rather than muddle. Bez would have preferred to do without- it reminded her of the already growing weariness lurking under the surface of her powers- but she said nothing. Hopefully it would help the others. Myut assumed they all had gotten in some kind of trouble to get put here, and Bez wondered what he had done. He looked jittery, uncomfortable. Eris, on the other hand, blamed the Prince, though Bez had a good idea exactly what Eris may have done. As usual, it involved fire and fighting, and not necessarily in that order. Bez was surprised, though, when Viv admitted to having sneaked in somewhere she wasn't supposed to be. Eris objected, using Bez as an example, but Bezzie just gave her and Viv a small reassuring smile.

Bez reached up to grab Viv's hand as it rested on her shoulder, squeezing back. She considered a moment before responding, her tone light, but confident.
"Maybe we all managed to do something to get singled out, and maybe not." She gave Viv an apologetic glance as she continued, "But I think Eris is right. We're here because Someone wants to fuck with us." She gave a tight-lipped smile, then glanced meaningfully at the massive portrait staring down at the group. Then, she got up, wandering toward the rooms. There were seven, so one had to be hers. "Let's see if they bothered to bring my stuff," she laughed. Bez would rather not look like she felt.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Myut Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Valramir Character Portrait: Vivian Lacerta Character Portrait: Abadeer Tyrano Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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【You know, I don’t know if I want to settle in…】
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【Main Hall, His Room, there and back, finally sat between his and Myut’s rooms】
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As the others began to leave the gathering, Ino hopped down easily, his heels clicking against the ground. He headed back for his room, trailing his hand over the back of the chair the large demon – who still had no name – sat in. Inside, he began to fold and arrange his clothing in the wardrobe provided, but over time, something made him stop. Did he really want to settle in here? Get comfortable? Something about that thought made him uneasy. He still did some rearranging, moving his herbs all into one bag, tucking his treasures in the bottom of another, covered in worn clothes. He still had a few clean and mostly clean outfits left, which was a relief. He considered removing his boots, but left them on for now.

Trying to do more unpacking than that still made his stomach twist, and he found himself chased into the main room instead, watching as the tall demon crossed to bring Bezzie a shirt. His eyes trailed him, but he shook that off. He didn’t have a chance.

Instead, he explored the main room, starting with the locked door in the corner. He tried the handle again, poking at the hinges, tentatively testing if it was illusion, or easily breakable. He then drifted to the windows, surreptitiously trying to pop a pane out, seeking out drafts, weak spots (he found none). Eventually, he just drifted around the rest of the room. He flopped over on the couch, examined the fireplace, avoided the large painting, and was just considering hopping up on the table when a loud banging startled him upright, his arm hairs standing on end. He looked around – the wrath, Eris, was adding a sheet over her door.

Bez and Val headed over, and Ino started in that direction, but hesitated. The little wrath didn’t seem to like him, and Ino was somewhat afraid of wrath demons in general. Maybe it’d be better not to engage. Instead, he sought and found another distraction.

Tall demon and Vivian were wrestling, and the tall man was fucking it up. Ino snickered when he made the grave mistake of letting her win, and his eyes sparkled with mirth when Vivian just got more upset when she subsequently lost. The tall demon looked lost himself though, and as the woman stalked away, Ino took her place.


“It’s not your fault, you know. She’s mostly definitely Pride. The tend to be like that, I doubt she’s actually mad.”

Cyr – he finally learned his name in the conversation that followed – turned out to be fun and easy to talk to. Ino hadn’t quite know what to talk about with him at first, but he’d gotten a nice chat on the topic of working out. He still thought the tall man was one of the most gorgeous demons he’d ever seen, but he could respect that Cyr wasn’t interested.

Or was he? As he’d talked, he’d gotten some distinctly flirty tones coming from the other man. But at the same time, he knew what’d seen in his eyes earlier that day. It was…confusing, to say the least.

After that, he’d just ended up lounging in the main room. He’d taken a seat by one of the windows, staring at the garden, trying to imagine the festivities they were all missing. No one came to let them out, and he sighed a bit, imagining the faint strains of music. In these wide open rooms, he couldn’t even read…

Something a little exciting finally happened when Myut emerged from his room. Ino hadn’t taken much notice of the man earlier, but now…wow. He was also tall, and very strong. His white hair looked soft and curled elegantly, and he had a face as finely shaped as Ino’s own. His bigger structure, though, made him unable to do delicate, and Ino sorted through words as he watched him. Whimsical? No…Exotic. Maybe even outright Regal?

While he was staring though, Cyr had already gotten up, approached, and learned that the handsome demon wanted tea. Tea sounded like a good idea, actually…Ino stood and headed into his rooms. He had ingredients for a lovely tea with him, though he still had to compose it. He gathered some flowers, a few of the leaves, some mint for better flavour, and then he had to dig around for another bag because he’d left the one with Cyr. He’d hurried through it, but by the time he emerged, Myut had already gotten hot water from somewhere, and Cyr was talking to him, and Ino felt oddly awkward butting in between them. With a little sigh, he put the tea away. He could drink it some other time.

Of course, while he was distracted, he missed something else. Myut’s cry had him hurrying to the door, and the watched as the white-haired demon despaired at the lack of books. Cyr came to the rescue before Ino could even consider giving up his secret. The tallest was looking at Myut like a puppy waiting for a treat. It was oddly endearing, and the petite demon just leaned against the doorway to his room, watching them.

As night fell, the fireplace spontaneously ignited at some point, and that’s where Ino ended up. He sat close enough that the heat hurt, but at least this close, he couldn’t see the portrait hanging above the mantle. He stared into the hypnotic flames, letting his mind wander for a long time.

Eventually, he decided it was time to give up and sleep. He murmured a goodbye to Cyr, though the other didn’t seem to notice him. Inside, he was faced with a new problem – washing. Ino refused to sleep without it, but there wasn’t much in the little rooms. Still, he made it work. He stripped down, finally kicking off his heels and instantly becoming several inches shorter. He took a bit of cloth and, dipping it into the cold water, carefully wiped his skin down. It still wasn’t much, and it wasn’t pleasant, but he eventually emerged, now in soft shorts and a lacy tank top. Shivering, he padded over and got into the bed.

The mattress was soft and the quilts thick and warm, but despite that, Ino couldn’t sleep. He was too stressed, too keyed up, the dark maw of the door gaping at him right across from his bed. He lay still for hours, trying to coax sleep to come. He counted jackalopes and ran through social networks and in the end, stared at the ceiling before eventually giving up. He went to his case, digging out the hefty history tome he hadn’t been able to leave behind. He could read a chapter or two, calm his racing thoughts…

When he stepped out, though, he saw that he wasn’t the only one awake. He lay the book on his nightstand, promising to put it away later, before going to see who it was.

It was Bezabelle, but somehow, friendly banter turned into breaking his own heart. He’d just made a joke, and somehow…somehow Bezabelle had known.

Talking about it hadn’t helped like he’d hoped, though. Recounting how he’d felt safe and content only to have it torn from him had only renewed the deep ache he still felt. And all the while, the subject of their conversation had stared down at them, and Ino glared into his eyes when he declared he’d never loved Abadeer.

Because that was all he had left for defense, at this point, his words and his actions after he’d let the prince see all he was and still been thrown away.

Even if it was a lie.

Even if he’d wanted to stay.

He’d left her quickly, before he broke down into full on tears. She hadn’t followed him, and Ino appreciated that. He wasn’t ready to share this grief with anyone, just yet.

Sleep eluded him though, and so he lay quietly, breathing steadily as he listened to Bez and Cyr speak. Apparently, they knew each other better than he’d first thought… Neither spoke loud enough for him to really hear their conversation, but their soft murmurs were something to focus on. Something better than the thoughts in his head. Eventually, exhaustion claimed him, and he finally fell asleep.

Morning felt a little better, even after restless dreams full of mocking laughter. Ino woke early and headed to the bathroom for another miserable wash. Afterwards, he picked his clothes for the day, unsure if he hoped someone would look into his room, or if he hoped that no one would. He settled on slim black pants and a dark shirt hemmed in red that softly covered his palms. Fixing his hair and makeup took longer, especially when the mirror he knew he’d brought with him turned out to be gone. Eventually, he’d given up and set a glamour instead, checking his power reserves and finding them healthy.

Then he’d emerged, somewhat hoping he’d find coffee.

He did not, but he found Val, snoozing away on the sofa. He shook his head, wondering when the sloth had ended up there. He flipped off the portrait before padding back, his feet still bare and quiet against the ground. After pacing a bit, he sat down on the ground between his and Myut’s room, taking a few deep breathes before folding in half at the waist. He might not be able to run, but he could stretch at least, and keep his body limber.

Slowly, he focused on his breathing and lost himself in the familiar routine. With his eyes shut, some of the remaining ache in his chest faded away. Impressive flexibility gave way to outright acrobatics, as the envy stood up on his arms, moving his legs into different contortions before bringing them straight up, then down, arching his whole back. By the time he entered the last part of his routine, his feet finding the floor again, he opened his eyes, feeling much calmer, and ready to face the day.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Myut Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Valramir Character Portrait: Vivian Lacerta Character Portrait: Abadeer Tyrano Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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【"Tonight, I can't find the off switch.】
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【The Secret Time Out Room】
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【#CD5c5c】
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Bezzie went to freshen up, hoping it would stop some of the pitying looks. Vivian followed soon after, apparently not realizing Bezzie's intentions until it became obvious Bez was getting ready to change. Bez discovered she had little that was still wearable. Everything was stained from various activities during the gala, especially since most of Bezzie's activities had involved too much drink. Even worse, whomever had put her clothes in her bag stuffed them in like so much garbage. It was all horribly compressed and wrinkled. Viv recommended borrowing a shirt from one of the taller guys, but it was a while before Bez followed her suggestion. Even with the limited privacy, Bez couldn't resist taking advantage of being alone with Viv.

After some time, Bez pulled herself away before more happened, not wanting to make Viv too uncomfortable, and called out to Cyr,
"Hey, Cyr? Can I borrow one of your shirts?" She winked at Viv, then went to grab the offered shirt, picking a black one with nice buttons and thanking him.

By the time she returned to her room, Viv had wandered off. Bez striped, tossing the ruined gown into a corner, then cleaned up as well as she could from the small sink, shivering at the cold water. Feeling a bit more refreshed, she changed into the black shirt, belting it with a long, thin brown belt. Some of the more obvious bruises got a bit of concealer, and she lightly freshened up her makeup using her small pocket mirror, but stayed light with her attempts. The harder she tried, the more obvious it would look.

Bezabelle took her time before going back to the main room. Perhaps it would be better to hang her clothes up? Hopefully some of the worst wrinkles would straighten out on their own. When she returned to the main room, Cyr was reading and Ino was snooping here and there, checking doors, windows, objects. Bez watched him, engaged in small talk if someone else started it, but mostly just waited in her own thoughts. Then Eris popped up, disappearing into her room. The banging noises started up not long after, and Bez figured she should go check out whatever Eris was constructing. It was sure to be interesting.

Val joined, and they heard Eris's plan for a makeshift door cover, then chatted a while. Bez popped out to grab some pins to assist Eris with attaching the blanket, then stayed for a while longer.

She spent a bit of time in the main room, sitting near the fireplace. Ino and Cyr were talking at the table. Both were acting so in character she had to roll her eyes. The flirting was obvious, but she wasn't sure about how serious either party was. Still, it gave a pleasant background as she wandered to the window trying to figure out where in the castle they might be.

Once she gave up, the conversation between the two winding down after some bragging by Cyr and some flattery from Ino, Bez found herself wandering to Myut's room. She had not seen Myut in some time. She'd been busy, of course, flitting from room to room, conversation to conversation, but she still made note. And with how ill at ease Myut had been when they had all gathered for their first brief chat as a group, there was no way she wouldn't check in. When she came to his room, he was already in the middle of exercising. Bez watched for some time. She was enjoying the exhibition, and felt no need to make her presence known just yet, content to simply lean against the wall.

It took him a few reps to notice her, he started, and she encouraged him to continue, selfishly of course. Bezzie couldn't help but enjoy watching how his muscles moved. They talked for some time, catching up on what had happened since they met at the gala, checking on each other's well-being. Bez ended up sprawled across the other's bed as he continued with his exercise. Then, a small exchange. Information she had guessed at based on observation and prior knowledge in exchange for a kiss that definitely left the taller demon hungering for more. With that contingency set up, Bez departed.

The rest of the evening, Bez ended up doing little more than moving from one somewhat comfortable spot to another. She chatted, mostly with Viv, about topics that were as benign as possible. She watched the other demons discreetly. Bez could not help but ruminate over what she would do with each, if only their resources weren't so sparse. She began to wonder how she had managed to end up in a room with so many demons who prefered to sit and read. So much better than attending the last night of the gala.

Of course, she also avoided thinking about why circumstances were what they were. No, this was fine. Surely they wouldn't just be here indefinitely. To avoid going stir crazy, Bez departed for her room. She wiped the back of her neck with cold water. It was only minutes before she returned to the main room. Solitude was only going to grate on her nerves.

When Myut's tea situation began, Bez had just emerged. She watched with interest, trying to figure out what the greed demon was doing and why he looked so disgruntled. Before she could decide, Cyr set down his reading and approached Meu. It took Bez only a moment to reach her conclusions about the situation. Her eyes narrowed momentarily. Just as I thought. Still, she sighed, shrugged, and resumed a pleasant expression, perching on one of the arm chairs and watching the two interact. She giggled at the interaction with Eris and Cyr, tried to look as though she wasn't watching Meu's eager delight, and got up as Meu disappeared back into his room with his new acquisitions. Maybe Cyr would get that book back. Maybe.

Slowly, everything started winding down. Each of them began settling into their rooms for the night. Bez did the same, pleased when Viv asked to stay with her. She inwardly cursed the lack of a door. Having no privacy would very likely keep things gratingly chaste between them, which, on contemplation, was probably why Viv felt comfortable enough to ask Bez about staying. Bezzie wasn't going to let her off completely, of course, but the situation was what it was.

She washed up, changed into an outfit that was definitely more lingerie than sleepwear, laughed at Viv’s joke about wanting to run around the human world pretending to be a ghost, then offered Viv the pick of which side of the bed she wanted. It wasn't long before they settled in snugly.

Then Bez woke, tensed, breathless, and confused. It took her several moments to remember where they were, who was with her, and why they were there. She still felt the scream that had escaped her lips as she woke from the nightmare. From the way Viv was sleeping soundly, Bez assumed she hadn't actually made a noise. It was all just a dream. Just a dream. Right. She contemplated getting up, but didn't want to wake Viv. She couldn't handle questions right now. She simply stayed still as was possible, trying to get her breathing to slow, her heart to stop racing. It was a long time before her lungs stopped heaving and screaming for more air so she could flee.

By the time she felt back to normal again, she was wide awake. Bezabelle spent what felt like ages trying to get her brain to settle, to close her eyes and drift off. Eventually, the urge to toss and turn was getting hard to ignore as anxious thoughts dominated her mind. Bez was going to wake poor Viv if she stayed. She got out of bed, pulling Cyr's black shirt back on but leaving the belt where it lay. The ivory buttons caught the moonlight as she fastened them. She repressed a sigh, moving out to sit on the couch and watch the fire. Hopefully the mindless activity would occupy at least some of her mental space, and keep the pure unease at bay. She was exhausted from the day, which only made the lack of sleep more frustrating.

Bez had been sitting in the main room for some time with no luck. Maybe if she stole a blanket from somewhere, she'd be cozy enough to fall asleep? It was unlikely. She didn't bother to stir, simply staring into the fire and willing her mind to go blank.

A voice, unexpected in the quiet room, called her name. Bez started, looking back to see Ino coming around the couch. She put on a cheerful face with effort, only managing to hide the pure exhaustion on her face by using her abilities to imitate a good mood with perfection. Still, Ino was close enough when he called, it's possible he would have seen something of her previous expression even with the flickering of the fire.

She covered by answering his question about how she was as he sat. Her voice was low as well, but still chipper, as she made up an excuse. They joked a while, then the conversation turned serious. Ino opened up a bit more about what had happened while he was gone. He was definitely hurt, grieving, and there was not much Bez could do for him. Eventually, he got up to return to bed.

Bez was alone again, her thoughts swirling in a new direction but no more restful. And the fire still flickered. And Bez still avoided looking up at the massive portrait, at the figure staring down at her.

Bez was not sure how long it had been since Ino went back to bed. She had tried closing her eyes, but her brain wouldn't turn off even enough for a doze. She was miserably tired. This time, she heard someone else coming. She was able to slip back into a cheery persona before Cyr came around to join her. He had found a new, obnoxious pet name for her and she made her displeasure known.

"Bez-bug? What am I? A five-year old? I'm fine booger-butt, how are you?"

They chatted about Viv, thoughts about the situation, Cyr's interest in Myut. All more light and teasing than the previous conversation though more serious things still hovered below the surface. When he asked for insights on Mew, Bez found herself sidestepping, insisting he sink or swim on his own. Sometimes, he frustrated her, though she couldn't pinpoint why. She hid it, mostly, and the conversation shifted back to her, to his willingness to help. It was sweet, and she answered appreciatively, and Cyr too headed back to bed.

Now she had more to contemplate, but exhaustion truly was taking hold. Her thoughts weren't coherent. Bezabelle felt as though she had only just closed her eyes, though she couldn't recall any dreams this time. Something was bothering her, and it took a moment to understand what it was. Someone was moving around in the room, slowly and quietly. Bez opened her eyes to see that the front room was brighter. It was past daybreak. She popped her head up to peek over the back of the couch, until she could identify the snooping figure. Oh.

"Val?"

He seemed to be the only one stirring at this point. Bez rubbed at her eyes as he approached, trying to decide if she'd actually fallen asleep. Judging by how easily she had stirred when she heard Val moving, probably nothing more than a light doze. He asked about why she was out on the couch.

"Woke up a bit ago," she lied. "Couldn't really get back to sleep, so I came out here." She didn't bother trying to hide the exhaustion on her face now, as she had been all night, and all evening before that. She'd already been caught for one. For two, she was too exhausted even to try. It must have been evident. Soon, he had slid behind her so she could lean comfortably against him. This time, his aura was welcome, soothing after Bez's restless night. They talked for some time before both drifted off.

Once again, Bez woke with a start not long after, but this time everything felt so muted, muffled by Val's aura. He still seemed perfectly comfortable, but Bez was getting a crick in her neck from how she'd fallen asleep. Besides, her bed wasn't empty either, and that held at least some possibility as well. She stumbled back to her room, the sleepiness thankfully sticking with her. After shedding the shirt and clumsily hanging it back up, she slid back under the sheets, taking full advantage of Viv's warmth. This time, nightmares didn't interrupt Bez's sleep.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Myut Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Valramir Character Portrait: Vivian Lacerta Character Portrait: Abadeer Tyrano Character Portrait: Amos Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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【"The game is harder when you don't know the stakes…"】
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【Her bed → Viv's arms→ scolding Amos】
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【#CD5c5c】
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Bezabelle was deeply asleep, lips parted slightly. Her breathing was soft and her face peaceful. She snuggled into Viv as the morning went on, stirring restlessly when Viv got up, but it was only moments before she settled again.


"Wakey wakey~ We're being called."

By the time Vivian came back to wake her, Bez was nearly dreaming. Her lips twitched up into a smile when Viv kissed her forehead, but her eyes didn't flutter. Viv's second attempt woke her a bit more, and Bez grumbled a bit as Viv spoke to her, her eyes still closed against the morning light. Bez managed to mumble a faint reply, "Calling? Who's calling?"

"I don't know. Some blond guard. He's asked that everyone go sit at the table. I think we should be there."


"Hmm?" Bezzie's eyes flickered open for a few sleepy blinks. She didn't sound particularly convinced yet. She turned onto her side, curling her legs to snuggle against Viv with her head almost in Viv's lap. Not only was the new position more comfortable, but Vivian's stroking her head was rather soothing. Her eyes fluttered shut again, far too heavy to keep open, and she muttered, almost whining, "Or we could just be here?" She curled a bit tighter around Viv, then fully relaxed back toward slumber.

"Come on, sweetheart. We should hear what he's got to say."

And now Bez was sitting up. Much less comfortable, she had no choice but to wake up. She laid her head on Viv's shoulder, snuggling into the taller woman with a sigh. "Seems like you're more stubborn than me. Mkay, where is he? Do we have to go now?"


“Yup, right now~ Do you want me to carry you, sweetheart? I can carry you. You won’t have to lift a finger. Just let me cover you up a bit, okay? Or do you want to get dressed? We can definitely take the time for that.”


"But if I get dressed, it'll be harder to go back to sleep again." Despite her words, Bez was pretty well awake, but she was not ready to let Viv know it yet. She was thoroughly enjoying Vivian's coddling. Bez put her arms around Viv's shoulders. "Let's just go."


Bez allowed herself to be bundled, enjoying every bit of excessive doting. She was exhausted and unhappy with being awake so soon after she had managed to fall asleep; but, she was also deliciously warm with the extra blanket and was thoroughly enjoying the strong embrace of Vivian's arms as she carried Bez out into the main room. She couldn't help but give a triumphant yet discreet smirk to whoever caught her eye as they moved to the table. Then, Viv sat Bez in her lap, and Bez could feel her still nuzzling her hair. She was honestly surprised. She didn't think Viv was comfortable with that level of public affection. Either way, Bez was not going to protest.

Still, there was the matter at hand. The blond guard looked nervous. When he began to speak, Bez was fairly sure she recognized him as one of the two guards who had brought her here. She could not believe what she was hearing besides. They were here because they were suspects for an assassination attempt against the Prince? And they, the suspects, were supposed to figure out who did it? And it sounded like whether they picked someone or not, the Prince was going to execute at least one of them in seven days.

Bez could feel a cold fury growing in her gut. She couldn't believe this was happening. She didn't even believe that it was as simple as this guard was making it out to be. The question was, what did he really know about it? As soon as Amos had finished his canned speech, Cyr spoke to Myut. He was asking for help with finding the cursed item. Bez caught a glimpse of Myut's expression. She kept her face still. She wasn't sure what to do about that issue just then, but she would have to keep it in mind for later.

Bez slid from Vivian's lap, sheets forgotten as she took a couple slow steps toward the guard, not bothering to hide her anger. Or anything else for that matter. Though she was only wearing a rather scanty set of sleepwear, she stood as confidently as if she were dressed in armor.


"And if we do have more questions?" Bez asked coldly.

Amos paused.
"Well...er...you are free to ask them..."

She listened to Amos's reply with slitted eyes.


“Do you need me here with you, sweetheart?”

There was sudden warmth as arms slid around her shoulders. Vivian murmured her question but Bezzie's glare never left the guard as she considered. Ah, maybe that?

Bez shook her head and murmured back,
"Do you happen to know anything about cursed items? I think Cyr needs help."

“I know a bit about runework. He’s who I wanted to talk to anyway. Be careful, love. Don't make the guard too mad.”

Vivian kissed Bez's hair, then turned to leave. Bez glanced back to watch Viv's retreating form. She couldn't help but sneak a glance toward Cyr and Myut as well. That was a situation she would have to do something about. Hopefully something more permanent, but she would have to figure out how later. She returned her focus to the guard.

"What the hell is going on here? Or are you actually so incompetent that you have to have the suspects finish your investigation for you?"

He frowned and shrugged. "Wasn't my plan. If you haven't done anything wrong, think of it as a nice vacation. The Prince has more important things to deal with right now. You all will sort yourselves out just fine."

"My, more important than an attempt on his life? That is intriguing indeed," Val mused.

"Whose plan was it?"

"The Prince's, I'd hazard to guess." Amos shrugged again. "You all are in here, he can deal with you when he has the time to again."

"And you're only guessing the order is from the Prince? What, as long as the order looks official, you're content with following it? Makes you seem so loyal to the Prince when you're willing to follow whatever orders you get, whether from him or not."

Amos gave her a strange look and crossed his arms. "Well, they come down the chain of command. He could have easily said 'I don't care what you do with them, lock them up or something,' and the head guard made the plan. It's neither my place or yours to argue with them."

"Not my place to argue? Yeah, right. Watch me. You can't tell me this makes any sense to you," she snapped back.

Amos shrugged. "I don't really care, to be honest. He could be much crueler if he pleased. If you've done nothing wrong, you'll get to leave in a week."

"Or you'll execute the wrong person. Half the crimes are vague. Any demon could have done the same."

"Exactly. How sure are you that you got all the suspects? Because if you didn't, the assassination attempt is still on. Are you really just going to sit on your thumbs and wait for the Prince to deal with it? Hide behind your orders that came from who knows where?"

"Everyone else has left already, including the Prince. What we're doing about the investigation is none of your business. You're here, so you'd best worry about yourself."

Val left then, apparently tired of the conversation. Eris, however, stayed. A plot already began turning in Bez's mind, and Bez turned her attention back to the guard.

"Worry about myself? Maybe you aren't as ridiculous as you seem. What's your name?"


"Amos. Why do you need to know."

"Because, Amos, we're going to be here for the next seven days. Would you rather just be known as 'that guard over there'?"
Her eyes narrowed, lips tightening into an unfriendly smile. "You strike me as a pride demon. Am I right?"

Amos frowned. "It's nothing that concerns you."

"Are you ashamed of it or something? What, is your spirit animal a chicken? Oh! I know. A mouse. Amos, a mouse, it's perfect."


Amos frowned more, shifting back closer to the wall. He seemed ready to leave, but the guard on the other side didn't seem to want to let him out. "I hope you're having fun. Go stand somewhere else and complain, would you?"

As Amos retreated, Bez advanced a couple slow steps, her hand on her hip. It was only she and Eris in the room now. Bez couldn't help her impulse to somehow cause trouble. She wanted to know how far she could push the pride demon before he would either snap or run away. Or better yet, she wondered if Eris would beat her to the punch. She could feel the wrath demon getting more irritated now that Val had left. Which temper would snap first?

"Why would I do that? You said I was free to ask you questions. How about this one, if you were going to be fair and thorough in your investigations, there would be more demons locked in here. I could personally point out two or three you missed, whose activities at the gala were far more suspicious than any demon you managed to catch, and yet they are roaming free and we're the ones trapped here. How is that fair?"


Amos shifted closer again to the wall, looking frustrated. "Fair? What are you, a human? It's not your business what the Prince decides or doesn't decide to do. The fact of the matter is that you are here. Deal with it. You're not asking questions, you're just whining."

Meanwhile, Eris was coiling further and further, agitated by the guard.

Bez continued her slow advance, moving forward whenever the aggravating pride demon retreated. She knew he had to be frustrated, but she wasn't going to let him off easy. And he was ignoring Eris. His mistake. Bez could almost feel her preparing to pounce. This was sure to be fun, and maybe Eris would be able to persuade Amos to be a bit less haughty the next time he came into their little prison/vacation suite.


"I think I'm asking good questions, even if you are too high and mighty to answer them properly."


Bez debated whether to reveal that he was one of the two guards to drag her in here the other day. She quickly decided against it. She didn't actually want Eris to try to kill him. That would bring far too much trouble down on their heads.

"If you don't like my whiny questions, why not just leave? Because I have no issue with getting more information for as long as you choose to stay."


"I disagree," Amos said, sounding frustrated."I don't think you've been asking very good questions at all. Just...if you're going to keep complaining, go stand over there or something." He pointed towards the sofa on the other side of the room.

Bezabelle ignored his request to move. Instead, her brows rose in mock surprise.
"Oh? You don't like my questions? Whatever will I do? Well, what would you ask if you were in my situation, O Wise Mr. Mouse?"

"Well, it's..."

As he started responding, Bez saw Eris hop onto the table. Amos was facing Bezabelle and did not seem to catch the movement out of the corner of his eye. Oops, too late Bez thought. Eris sprinted across the table and launched at the guard. Now it was her turn to feel smug and she was going to relish it. Though it would also probably be in her favor to act a little surprised.

"Eris! Cy-" Bez caught herself, reconsidering, then called out, "Vivian, help!"

Amos managed to throw the small wrath demon away from him. Bez hurried to her. She made a small attempt to keep her from charging, placing a hand on Eris's shoulder before she could spring up.

"Eris! Are you okay?"

Eris sprung up anyways. Instead of focusing on the wrath demon, Bez flashed a smug look of her own at Amos, catching his eye just seconds before he retreated out of the door that had finally appeared. It had taken his fellow guards long enough to save the poor fellow. No one else came through the door to help Amos get out safely nor to punish the attack. Interesting.

With that dramatic scene finished, Bez turned her attention back to the room. She was satisfied with herself, but tried to look worried. It was hard enough to pull off that she found herself using her powers to make the imitation believable. Better to seem a little shaken since she was the one who riled Eris. She was not sure how the situation would turn out and did not want to seem suspicious.

At that moment, she heard Ino enter the main room.
“Hello everyone! So they gave us a bathtub, not sure how long it’ll last, if anyone wants to check that out~”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Vivian Lacerta Character Portrait: Abadeer Tyrano
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【"It's much easier to lose yourself in luxury."】

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【Her Room → The Bath】

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【#CD5c5c】

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Vivian checked in on Bez and Eris, and Bez assured her that everything was fine now that the guard was gone. When Vivian moved away, Bezabelle retreated to her room. There was no good reason to stay in the main room. She had no interest in answering questions. Not when she had too many of her own.

Bez grabbed Cyr's shirt and put it on, but went over to the window without bothering to button it. She stared at the scenery, her mind far away. The fear was rising again. They were trapped, and one of them would never escape. Her breaths were coming quicker, her thoughts swirling, then--


"That was quite the altercation, huh?"

Her expression flipped as she slammed down control again. She really needed to stop using her abilities so frequently, but…

"Hm? Oh," Bez shook her head and turned toward Cyr. "Not as bad as it could have been. After all, even irritating guards have their uses."

Cyr chuckled. "You sure talked his head in circles. Did you get anything interesting out of it?"

"Bits and pieces. Not much that was certain." She turned her head to look out the window again. The conversation had told her some things, but not what she wanted to know most. That still bothered her enough that she knew she couldn't hide it.

"Well...I'm going to go sit in the bath for a while, if you're looking for company, that's where I'll be."

Bezabelle nodded. He was gone by the time she looked back. Instead of sinking back into her thoughts, she roused herself to get dressed. She went into her bathroom to change out of her sleepwear, not closing the door. She couldn't close the door. She couldn't, it was too claustrophobic. Bezzie hurried through the process, getting ready for the day and out as fast as she could manage. It felt like it took much longer than it actually did, but then it was fine. Now, she just needed time to relax, and a hot bath would be perfect.

Bezzie plastered on a smile and strolled into the main room. Vivian was there speaking with Ino, and as Bez passed, she couldn't resist pausing to plant a kiss on Viv's cheek as she leaned over the back of the couch.


"Be back in a while, my dear." When Viv turned her way, Bez stole another quick kiss, unable to resist the temptation of Vivian's lips. Bezzie gave Ino a wink and a smile, fingers trailing across Viv's shoulder as she left.

And now, it was time for the door. It had been locked yesterday, but now it opened to a hallway. The door at the end was cracked. Bez ignored it, trying the other doors first. She started on the side with three. Each was locked. Disappointing. The other two were the same. Why were they even there if they were just locked?

All for nothing. It annoyed her.

But, Bez thought, at least there's a bath now. As she entered, her mouth fell open in surprise. It was huge and grand. Nothing could have been farther from the tiny, barely functional bathrooms in their rooms. For the first time since she had been dragged in from the gala, Bez remembered that they were still in the Prince's palace. This was luxurious, and she felt herself relaxing into the extravagant surroundings. It already felt so much better than the rest of their bare bones prison suite. Bezabelle had never done well with scarcity, after all.

Her hand still on the doorknob, she let her eyes drift to Cyr, a smile growing on her lips. They were alone. Perfect. She shut the door behind her.


"Oh! This is much more than I expected." She let her eyes drift again, stopping momentarily on the impressive waterfall. "The guard said it was for good behavior, hmm? I'd bet he's regretting letting me in here, then." She laughed, the sound actually genuine. It echoed in the large room. She made her way over to the towels, laying one out to set her clothes on as she stripped out of her clothes. Or, more accurately, out of Cyr's clothes. Cyr joked that the guard may replace the large bath with a kiddie pool as he waded closer.

"I don't think you'd even fit into a kiddie pool."

Cyr laughed. "I do what I can with what I have. There are some really nice smelling bath potions over there too."

Bez looked in the indicated direction, giving off a small exclamation of delight. It didn't take long before she had several potions in hand. Too many for a single bathing session, of course, but she wasn't going to put anything back. Acquisitions in hand she took her time, using all the products she wanted and relaxing into the bath.

When she was content, she asked,
"So, were you able to figure out what the guard was talking about, yourself? Do you really have something cursed?"

His expression went still as he sat beside her."We did, my...ah....betrothal necklace is apparently carrying a mutation curse?"

She stiffened, recalling their earlier conversation about Cyr's new contract. Or, rather, his parents' contract on his behalf. Anger tightened her features. Before she could think about managing her tone, she snapped, "Mutation? What kind of mutation?"

She inwardly winced at how harsh she had sounded, but she didn't feel she could help it.

"No idea. They said it was pretty serious though."

"A mutation..." She worked on getting some kind of control over the cold fury in her gut. It was working, kind of, and Bez was able to exert more control over her voice. "Did they figure anything else out? Like what would trigger it?"

"Apparently when I put it on, I wouldn't be able to take it back off," An uncomfortable pause. Bez stared straight ahead, thoughts whirling as he continued. "So I guess I'm glad this happened? Otherwise I'd probably be in some pretty deep shit right now."

The whole situation made her angry, and Cyr's explanation only made it worse. More serious and less forgivable. Still, it would be better if they could figure it out, determine what kind of situation Cyr may be walking into when he got out of here.

"There's that, at least. It sounds more and more like some sort of control. Something to keep you out of the way or..." Bez shook her head, unsure of how to express her thoughts. "And you don't know who the demon is? Do your parents? And do you have any idea whether your parents knew about the necklace? Did they drop any hints at all?"

"My parents gave me the necklace and said it was from my betrothed. I don't even know the demon's name." His laugh was humorless, harsh. "I wouldn't even be surprised if there was no other demon, and they just wanted to get rid of me."

Bez paused, trying to get a handle on the situation. "Did you sign any kind of contract? Or even see it?"

"That was supposed to be today. My parents said they'd already worked something out."

"Then you're right, and there's no proof either way."

Bez knelt on the underwater ledge by Cyr, staring at the water as though it might have more answers. There was so much about the situation that Cyr just didn't seem to know. The whole of his understanding seemed to be that there was some contract his parents had set up with some demon. Was that really it? And even worse, how had he just accepted that?

Bez managed to keep a neutral expression as she thought. Then it broke.
"I don't understand. You were really just going to go through with it? Why, Cyr?" She looked at him, unable to hide the hurt look. How could he just let this happen? She jerked her head away, breaking eye contact.

"It's...I...what choice did I have? I doubt my parents would be willing to let me lead an untethered life indefinitely."

Bez's tone turned very controlled, but other than a quick glance, she couldn't manage to look at him, "Well, I hope you don't plan to continue giving your parents final say over what you do with your life. Or anyone else, for that matter. You aren't a child."

He gave his excuses, but she barely listened. She didn't want to listen. She took a deep breath, instead. She had once envied him. His situation seemed so much different than hers had been. But now…

Bezzie forced herself to relax again. Thankfully, their surroundings made it easy.


"Well, I'd trust your judgment more than theirs."

She let herself really look at him for the first time since the conversation had started. After all, they were in the baths alone together. Bez's eyes drifted over his form with lust for just a moment before she sighed and looked away. Ideally, she would have preferred to take full advantage of the situation, though she knew Cyr was too pig-headed for that. He'd always rejected her advances, a fact that irked her to no end.

She let her frustration show in just one word,
"Sometimes."

Bez forced herself to move away from the train of thought with a sigh, sinking down to sit in the bath, the water lapping at her chin. "Well, nothing we can do about it in here. Speaking of 'in here,' what do you think about all this?"

"Honestly? I think I'm still passed out drunk at that table where you left me. This is a fever dream or something." He slid an arm around her, and she couldn't help but lean into the touch, wanting more. She could feel his eyes on her as Cyr asked, "How are you holding up?"

Bez snorted a laugh at his question. She looked up at him. "Haven't you already asked that?"

"I did, but I didn't believe your answer."

Bez watched him with a raised eyebrow. He was being so serious, it was almost amusing. Almost. "Better now that I can have a bath. I don't know what else you want to hear from me and I don't think it'll be much different from what anyone else would say. I don't like being trapped in here. And I don't think it's just about the supposed assassination attempt," she answered wryly.

"I agree. Something's going on. You out of all of us are the least suspicious person here. I think this is a front for him to get rid of someone here, no matter what any of the rest of us do."

Bezabelle went cold despite the warmth of the bath. It took her a moment but she covered as if she hadn't paused. "The guard wasn't sure that the orders had come directly from the Prince. The whole 'figure out who did it' idea at least. I don't know how to approach that. Is there even any point in doing what they want us to do?"

Bez watched as he chewed his lip, deep in thought. Her own thoughts were slowing to a crawl already. She didn't function well without sleep. He finally spoke, "What a mess. But no matter what, I'm on your side. I'll protect you."

The warmth was starting to force her to relax, despite everything else. She leaned into Cyr, enjoying the feeling of his body against hers. "But why? Why would you want to?"

"You're important to me. I don't have a lot of friends as good as you. And you're smart. If anyone doesn't deserve to be here, it's you."

Her words were softer now too. "Well, only one of us supposedly deserves to be here, and I know that's not you either. It might not be any of us." She sighed, not completely convinced. Bez had a bad feeling about the whole situation. As much as she hoped it would not turn out as horribly as she thought, she knew that hope was probably foolish.

"Well, maybe we should just enjoy our week-long vacation, then?" Now the playfulness returned to Cyr's voice, though he sounded as tired as she felt.

She'd only just relaxed, but her eyes felt so heavy.
"Oh? No. We won't give in... that easy. Will we?" Her entire head was growing heavier, for some reason. Despite her words, it was becoming so easy just to give in.

"Of course not," he replied.

She straightened as Cyr moved closer, trying to fight off drowsiness, but the appeal of his closeness was too much. She let her head drift back to his shoulder, snuggling closer to make the position comfortable.


"And you won't give in either? Will you?"

Despite sounding slightly more awake, she didn't last long enough to hear his full reply. Or if he made one at all.