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Amos

The Guard

0 · 109 views · located in The Prince's Palace

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

Description

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Honor and respect above all.

#000d1a├┤#739AC5
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Pride Demon
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Theme Song├┤Arthur Pendragon

Amos is one of The Prince's many guards. He is a tall man with blonde hair and bright green eyes, a stern face, and the musculature to back up his words. He is fiercely loyal to The Prince, and as such, rarely deviates from what he's told. Despite being a Pride Demon, he works for The Prince for the betterment of his whole family, as though being under someone else's dominion is rarely what a Pride demon likes, having a family member serving out their young, wild years in service of the Prince gives one something of a status boost. (It doesn't hurt that Amos, like many of The Prince's guards, is a good looking demon, well built but soft skinned.)

Amos is not particularly high up in the ranks, but he aided in sussing out this group of potential assassins, and as such, he has been assigned the pleasure of enacting the Prince's will and making sure they don't tear each other apart before their trial.

While fairly soft spoken and good-natured, Amos prides himself in his honor and good bearing, and will carry out his duties to the best of his ability.

So begins...

Amos'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: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Amos
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【”You know, for a few days, I actually thought things were going well】
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【Main Hall→Ino’s old room→The new rooms】
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After getting kicked out of his boyfriend’s place, Ino had, for lack of a better word, moped. He’d spent days in bed, staring at the ceiling, his eyes drifting back and forth as he tried to process what had happened. Slowly, food had run out and he’d stopped bothering to replenish it. The one time he’d tried, he’d picked up truffle and vinegar for a dish he’d promised to make, then threw out all the groceries in a fit of pique. The only thing he still bothered with was coffee, and even then...some mornings it all ended up down the drain when he caught himself pouring two cups instead of one.

After weeks of this, he’d slowly started moving again, his energy fixed on one goal and one goal only. He still had his ticket to the Prince’s Gala, and he was damn well going to be there.

He’d almost considered not going, true. But it had been his envy that dragged him out of the funk.

He would be there. The one who had stolen his lover and upended all of his plans. And Ino would get back at him if it was the last thing he did.

So he’d forced himself up and into action. He’d gone shopping with the very best tailors, for a series of stunning outfits. He’d contracted with a prodigious human, giving up the chance at a soul for an outfit unlike anything anyone had ever seen, granting him success in return. Anyone who saw one of his designs would be seized with fierce envy until they owned one just like it.

Technically, it wasn’t against the treaty. He’d go so far as to say that he’d helped that human.

He’d worn that outfit on the first night, the ones by demon designers after it. He had more outfits than he needed, but he’d found excuses to change and show them off, one after the other. He’d spent the last days in a haze of indulgences, showing that he was bright, vivacious, undamaged by hurts.

He’d spent the time circling around his enemy, seeking his chance for revenge.

It was around lunch on the final day, and he was dressed simpler than usual. The plain white shirt was billowing and gauzy, slipping off his shoulders and held together with ties down the sleeves, before cinching in at the waist. His pants folded around his supple legs, showing off all of his figure. A red sash at his waist brought it all together, as did the ruby at his throat and the roses stitched on his heeled boots. It was a lovely, casual sort of outfit, but as evening fell, these festivities would demand...more.

When he arrived at his room, though, there was a guard there, one who unabashedly checked him out before clearing his throat.


“Mr. Cense. Ah... Ino. The Prince sends his regards and has arranged a special room for your final night.”

Ino’s heart jumped into his throat, and he had to swallow hard before he had himself under control.

“That’s...truly generous,” he murmured, casting his eyes down. “Will you show me the way?”

It was...very surprising, but there were plenty of ways in which it made sense. They headed for a more isolated part of the castle, and Ino tried to draw things together. The Prince likely wanted to talk, but all things considered, it wasn’t surprising that he’d want this meeting to be private. There was likely a note there, with further instructions. If he was right…

His heart was fluttering like a bird’s, and he didn’t notice anything amiss when the guard bowed, waving him forward into the room. It was fairly lavish, like everything here was. A low table, wood threaded with gold, was set between two couches, upholstered with soft black leather. Across from them was a huge fireplace with shining golden grates, currently swept clean. On the mantle was a massive portrait of the Prince and his bride, standing together comfortably, looking for all the world like old friends.

Ino snickered when he saw it, quickly turning away.


“Humble, isn’t he?” he asked the guard, looking over his shoulder but...there was no guard. For that matter, there was no door either. Ino flew at the wall, slamming his fist against it, then stumbled back, shaking his hand.

“Ow…” he whined, glaring at the wall as though it had hit him, and not the other way around.

His chest felt tight, but he backed up, looking around the room. There...there had to be an explanation. He needed to explore.

There were 8 openings set into the walls. Only one had a door, so that was where he went first. Predictably, it was locked. Maybe there was a key somewhere? He needed to check the other rooms. He started to the left. Each room had a huge bed, soft, with pillars that sent a pang through his heart. Empty wardrobes with elegant scrollwork, with shelves and racks waiting to be filled. A desk and a chair tucked into the corner. Though there was no door into the room, there was a door in the room, and beyond it, Ino found a half-bath, with a sink and toilet. He turned it on, the water smelled clean and fresh.

Three doors down, he found his suitcases, neatly stacked. Nothing was missing, as far as he could tell, though he was no greed demon. Nothing useful either, though he did pop a flower into his mouth, chewing on it for clarity of mind. Nothing wavered, so he wasn’t in a hallucination. That was something at least.

In another room, he finally found something interesting. Another demon sprawled facedown on the bed. He was huge and full of muscle, and Ino hesitated by the door.


“Hello?” he murmured. He got no response, and cautiously, the envy demon moved closer. He was laying so still…

Carefully, he pressed his fingers just under his jaw, seeking for a pulse. If there was a dead demon in here, he would have to hide immediately. He seriously hoped it wasn’t the case.

As soon as he touched him, though, the larger demon stirred, and Ino sagged with relief.
“Hey,” he said, a bit louder. “Hey, wake up.”

The other demon made a confused sound, rolling over and peering at Ino with stunning golden eyes. With that came the heavy scent of alcohol, and his body...his body was so gorgeous that Ino’s entire train of thought came screeching to a halt.

“What do you want?”, the other demon mumbled.

“Are you...okay?” Ino asked, the voice (utterly lovely in his ears) shaking him out of his reverie.

The other ran a hand through his hair.
“I’m fine.”, he muttered and then looked down. “Where’s my shirt? How did I get here?”

Though he was loathe to cover up the gorgeous view, Ino figured that if they were about to attempt an escape, they should both be fully dressed. He looked around the room, crouched, and soon found the shirt. It smelled sweetly of wine, and Ino felt his lips slip into a pout as he offered it back. He bet that this guy smelled amazing. Maybe it was something they could explore together later.

The man sat up slowly and then groaned, placing his hand on his head with a muttered curse.
“The hell happened to my head?” he asked.

“You’re hungover as fuck,” Ino answered immediately. “Lie down. Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

He whisked back to ‘his’ room, digging in the biggest suitcase until he found it. The little satchel looked like a teabag, and into it, he scooped several powders. He’d brought each in abundance, all to create his secret recipe. A hangover cure anyone could use. At home, he kept them all mixed, but he didn’t want anyone here finding this secret. Once filled, he tied it off and brought it back to the other demon. He checked the door in this room, which unsurprisingly led to another half bath, and he soaked the satchel with warm water from the sink. He waited, then squeezed the bag, draining it of excess, and waited more until he caught the faint scent of peaches. It was ready.

The gorgeous demon was asleep again, not that Ino was surprised. He clambered onto the bed, straddling his body. He felt so good between his thighs...No, focus Ino. Not the time. Once in position, he held the little bag to his perfect lips, letting the fluid drip onto them, careful not to pour too much on his face. The magic would kick in immediately, draining excess alcohol and curing hangover symptoms in minutes.

In the meantime, Ino could sit and enjoy his position.

What if this handsome demon woke up and thanked him? What if they escaped together and then just...stayed together? What if he was so grateful that he’d do anything to pay Ino back?

Although, judging by the look in his eyes and the confused
“What are you doing on my chest?” he got, he doubted that would be the case.

Ino shivered, full body, when those strong arms took his hips, his mouth falling a little open as the larger demon so easily moved him away before sitting up. An intense surge of lust seized him because holy shit…


“Thank you for the...whatever that was,” the other was saying, buttoning his shirt, and Ino swallowed hard, hoping his voice wouldn’t come out as a squeak.

“Hangover cure,” he chirped. “You’re welcome. Oh, ah...here.” he offered him the little bag. “Suck on it, it’ll help more.”

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: Amos
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【Is this going to take long? This better not take long, I have a very important date to keep.】
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【Main hall --> Rooms]】
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Despite her occasionally obvious displeasure at having to be here, Vivian wasn’t having the worst time ever at the Prince’s gala. That didn’t mean she wanted to be here, still.

She had dropped by to visit her parents and brother after a long romp on earth, only to be greeted with hugs, kisses, and a threat to her precious motorcycles if she dared leave until after the gala. She’d tried to sneak out, only to find her mother knew her far too well. The older demon, so similar to Vivian, had been standing casually by her bike, a funnel of sand poised over the gas tank.

Viv had taken her seriously after that.

For some reason, Malarick was indisposed. Viv hadn’t been able to piece together the full story, but it seemed to involve a claimed incubus, a reenactment of the trials of Hercules, a cart full of cabbages, cheese in a can, some particularly fragrant fruits, and literal lovesickness. What all of this meant was that Viv was responsible for representing the family, since Mal couldn’t attend.

Hair dye had also been involved.

Vivian’s job was simple. Stick near her parents while they made social rounds, smiling and preening and showing off the extravagant jewelry she wore. Take notes of how her mother manipulated other women into feeling they needed custom jewels for the next gala they attended. Split off and practice her own technique of flirtation and flattery, toned up and down as needed for the audience.

Return to their rooms, rinse, repeat.

4 days of stunning gowns that made her look ‘like a lady’. 4 days of teasing her hair into unnatural styles with heat and gels. 2 days of listening to everything her mother told her. And now, 2 days of glorious freedom as her mother and father left early to check on Mal.

Not complete freedom, of course. Her mother knew her, and Viv’s luggage contained nothing but dresses and dress appropriate accessories and undergarments. Even her nightwear had been swapped out for a filmy white empire waist (it was actually pretty cute though, though it did make Viv want to run through the halls with a candle, making ghost noises for the aesthetic). The other bags had their jewelry samples, from raw rocks the size of a wrath demon’s fists to delicate golden chains set with the tiniest of diamonds. She knew what she could trade, what she could give away, and what she was to sell or keep. How she spent the rest of the day was up to her.

The third night though, she was rather dreamy, prone to wistful sighs and longing looks. She’d met…the most wonderful girl that day. So cute and soft, with vivid red hair, they’d talked a little, and talking had become flirting, and they’d even kissed…

It was as she was dreamily reminiscing about their brief interlude, imagining their date tonight, that the guards came for her. They were rather rude, trying to grab her from behind, but the pride demon was well aware of her surroundings even now, whipping around, her arms already up in fists to defend herself.


”Excuse me!” she hissed, batting away one of the reaching hands. The flowing fabric of the blue dress would probably hinder her, but she bet she could get up and over the low railing. Down in the gardens, she’d be able to run to a more public place… though how would her mother put it?

”I am a lady and I won’t be treated like this! Have either of you idiotic buffoons considered using your words?!” she snapped, in a tone that would make Marie Lacerta very proud.

The guards didn’t seem to appreciate her choice of words, though, exchanging stormy looks, until one of them cleared his throat and stepped up.


”Miss…” he began, rather hesitantly. “We need to ask you to come with us. You were…” his partner was giving him a withering look, which made him stumble over his words. “You were in a restricted area several nights ago. That needs to be discussed.”

Viv relaxed a little, though she still eyed the guards carefully. That? That was just a silly misunderstanding. Still, she kept channeling her mother for her reply. “See? Was that really so hard?” she asked, arching an eyebrow. “Of course I’ll come along, clear this up- no!” she jerked away from the grumpier guard. “Stop trying to touch me, I can walk by myself!”

Grumpy guard didn’t seem happy about it, but he let her walk between them. Viv’s stomach was in knots, but she kept her face blank. It was just a misunderstanding. She’d explain honestly what happened – it was just a dare, taken to impress a cute girl, come on – and then they’d let her go. She’d make her date and everything would be just fine.

As they walked though, she caught sight of the girl, her girl, looking small and pale and nervous, and, in hindsight, seeing her escorted by two guards might be a bit worrying. She gave her a friendly smile and a wink, lifting her head a little higher, showing that everything was okay. The effect was ruined a little when she had to smack the grump’s hand away from her, and when she got out of this, she was going to find him and crush his hand beneath her heels…at least he didn’t try anything, only acerbically waving her forward when they reached a room.

With a delicate sniff, she stepped forward, and nearly toppled over the edge of a thick, plush carpet. She stumbled back, but instead of door or guard, her back met with wall. Now a bit panicked, she took in the situation. There was Val, a sloth they’d considered contracting for Mal. And Myut – her father didn’t like him, complaining about his unpredictable tastes. Off to the side, a demon her mother had pointed out at some point, together with a very large demon she’d never seen before before.

And behind her, when she turned…just wall, and no door to be found.


”What…” Her voice trembled a bit and she paused, doing her best to get it under control, show no fear.”What the hell is going on?”

Her hand went to her wrist, where she was wearing the ring she’d been given on a chain. If she missed their date, she could use that as an excuse to talk to her again and explain. It would be okay.


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: Amos Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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【So ends the prologue. In the morning, a new area will unlock, behind the door in the corner. Inside, down a long hallway with a soft burgundy carpet, several doors. At the end of this hall stands a single white door, already slightly ajar. Within, the sound of water rushing and, as you approach, warm, humid air stretches out towards you. THE BATHS occupy a large room with a vast, inset pool occupying most of the space. In the back, a rock formation stands, pouring water down into the pool. On the near wall is two sets of shelves, one burgeoning with soft white towels, and the other with a variety of soaps, oils, and fragrant tinctures.】
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【"How did this become my job??"】
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【Into the lion's den】
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【#739AC5】
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Amos stood before the blank wall with a long sigh. Somehow, he didn’t feel quite so secure about this situation as he had the previous morning, when they’d uncovered the plot and laid it triumphantly at the Prince’s feet. Now, somehow, he’d been bid to babysit this strange menagerie of demons, and he wasn’t sure how exactly this was going to play out. Each of them seemed dangerous in their own right, and he was glad, at least, that he wouldn’t be made to stay in there with the lot of them for too long. He’d just read out what he’d been given, and then make a hasty exit. They’d likely turn on each other immediately.

The guard who stood by the ‘door’ laid a hand on the stones, causing the door to form. It wouldn’t appear on the other side until he pushed it open, which he promptly did, but then, as it swung closed again, it vanished. Amos hesitated as several pairs of eyes immediately turned towards him. He wasn’t sure if anyone was monitoring the situation, but he realized then that no one had told him what to do when he wanted to get out of this place. Which seemed like...something of an issue all of a sudden.

Amos cleared his throat, scanning the room. Several of the demons were milling about the main room, in different states of dress and wakefulness. Amos’s eyes landed on one in particular, who had dragged the potted plant from its corner and was inspecting it closely. Bizarre. Amos blinked once, dragging his attention back to the matter at hand.

Er...could everyone gather over here?” he called out, his voice not sounding quite as confident as he’d intended it to. Once they’d all gathered around the table, which took some time, considering some of them needed to be woken up, he cleared his throat again, pulling out his papers and taking on the tone of someone reading verbatim.

I apologize for the inconvenience you all have faced in being relocated to this area. I’m sure this has been a confusing time for you all.” He read, occasionally glancing up at the faces upturned towards him. “While we do not take pleasure in removing you all from the festivities, a difficult matter has come to hand. An assassination plot was uncovered yesterday morning against the Prince, and due to the circumstances surrounding each of you, we have identified you as a possible suspect.” Amos paused to sigh and flip to the next page.

Due to the continued investigation, we have gathered you all here to determine amongst yourselves who the traitor or traitors are. Those of you found to be not guilty will be handsomely rewarded for your patience and your service.” Amos shifted on his feet, resting his off hand on the hilt of the sword at his side. “In seven days' time, you will appear before the Prince to make this determination.

Amos flipped the page again. “
I will now read off the accusations against each suspect: Mr. Ino Cense,” he said, looking over at the dark haired demon. “Envy. Found possessing a vial of restricted poison.” His eyes jumped to the taller white haired demon. “Mr. Myut Chenzyra.
Greed. Found bribing staff and in a restricted area.
” Then he looked towards the large dark haired one. “Cyris Herron. Lust. Found possessing an extremely cursed item.

Amos shifted on his feet again. He could feel anger and stress building up around him. Hopefully they would hang onto it until he left. His eyes moved towards the tallest of the women. “
Vivian Lacerta. Pride. Found in a restricted area.” His eyes flicked to the small, mousy girl. “Eris Leblanc. Wrath. Arson.” Then he looked at the other small girl with the brightly coloured hair. “Bezabelle None-Listed. Gluttony. Found consorting with other suspicious individuals.” he blinked once at her, and then turned his attention to the final demon, the smaller white haired one. “Valamir Thazgan. Sloth. Found sabotaging guards.

Amos folded his papers up and slid them back in his pocket, looking around at the group. “
I will be back from time to time as needed. For your convenience, and as a reward for good behaviour,” his eyes flicked quickly to the small mousy demon, who had already begun to destroy her room, “amenities will be provided.” He pointed towards the corner of the room, where the door was inset, out of sight. As he pointed, the door audibly unlocked. Amos looked deeply surprised that he’d done that with a single gesture, as he hadn’t meant to. Or thought that was something he was able to do.

Well…” he said slowly, taking a slow step backwards towards the wall where the door usually was. “If there are no questions, I will just...take my leave now. Thank you for your cooperation on this matter.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Myut Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Valramir Character Portrait: Vivian Lacerta Character Portrait: Amos
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【The real curse is the one we contracted on the way, I guess】
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【His room】
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Cyr stood by the window beside the fireplace, looking out at the greenery, though when Myut emerged, he sent a few curious looks over his shoulder, watching the other drag a chair over to the potted plant in the corner peer at it. He liked plants, apparently? Cyr filed that away for later. He also watched Val, who was curled up with his shirt half-off, sleep peacefully. How had he managed that? His gaze also wandered over the little one--Ino--who had just finished stretching. Even though everyone just seemed to be milling about, minding their own business, he couldn’t help but feel that there was some tension settled in the room. Today was the end of the gala, everyone was leaving--the aftermath of the revelry was likely strewn everywhere now, quiet and forlorn. But he was still stuck here. His family was waiting for him...the demon he’d never met before…

Cyr half turned to go find that necklace. Now, instead of just wondering what that would be like, he had the joy of wondering when he was going to get out of this place. Morning had well and truly passed, now they were moving towards noon, judging by the sun. There were no clocks in this place either, though, so it was hard to tell. It hadn’t stopped Val, though, at least. As Cyr took his first step back towards his room, a door formed in the wall. He froze for a second. Perhaps if he’d been prepared, he could have dived for it, but it was as if the moment the man stepped through, it vanished. Perhaps it was the nearby wrath demon, whose head had lifted like a hunting dog spotting a mark, but Cyr felt a sudden urge to rush over and bash the man against the wall until he let them all out.

The feeling subsided quickly once the man cleared his throat and asked them all to gather around, however. Cyr frowned just a little. He didn’t like that it was a guard, an armed guard at that, in here talking to him. It didn’t bode well. Cyr glanced back down at the sloth demon, who didn’t seem particularly bothered by the entry of a new demon. He sighed softly.

Come on,” he said softly, sliding a hand under Val and lifting him up enough to pull his shirt back down. Then he scooped him up in both arms, as one would a baby or a princess. "...Cy?" the sloth demon asked blearily, snaking his arms around his neck. "My, I feel like I just got married and you're carrying me across the threshold," the sloth demon added playfully.

Cyr chuckled softly. "
Were you having nice dreams?" He teased back before nodding towards the guard. "We're being summoned, by the way."

Cyr carried him over to the table. He could feel the momentary tightening of Val's arms around his neck. He wondered if he'd have to pry the sloth off himself, but then Val let go, allowing Cyr to deposit him on the far side of Myut, disentangle himself, and then sitting down on Myut’s other side, between him and the guard, who seemed to be passively watching them gather. He glanced over to see what Myut’s thoughts on the matter were, but quickly looked away.

Cyr heaved another soft sigh, leaning his elbow on the table to prop up his head as the guard spoke up again. He let the drone of the guard’s voice wash over him, not really paying attention until he heard the word ‘assassination.’ No, no, this couldn’t be happening. He hadn’t done a damn thing since he’d been here...his heart continued to sink as he listened to the guard list off names. Some protested, like Myut, who seemed offended at the idea of bribing someone, but others, like himself, remained deathly silent. A cursed item? What on earth would he do with a cursed item? He would be the last person who’d want to attack the Prince…

Cyr rubbed his face with disbelief. Had someone been trying to curse him? Or frame him? Someone in this room--at least one someone--was ruthless, or stupid. Either way, they were dangerous. He didn’t know what to believe. The little purple one, an envy demon, had poison, the wrath demon was committing arson, even Val had been up to something suspicious…But the most dangerous thing of all was that he didn’t know which one of his things was cursed? What if he accidentally cursed himself. Cyr looked around helplessly for a moment, ignoring the guard’s continued droning. Wait...Myut would know, right? He was a greed demon, he had to be able to tell when something was cursed or it wasn’t, right?

Myut,” he said in a low voice, pushing his chair back. “Having something cursed with my stuff is news to me. Can you help me figure out what it is?

The white haired demon had said his name at the same time, and Cyr felt his face flush slightly. He’d seen his own worry mirrored in the other’s face, the same concerned distrust. But Cyr was fairly confident that this demon was innocent. He was a greed demon. Sneaking into places they didn’t belong was kind of their thing. He watched the others face shift slightly, inscrutably, but he felt his shoulders relax when Myut gave him a firm affirmation. He slowly pulled himself out of his chair, eliciting a confused look from the guard. “
I’ll owe you one for this,” he said, warmly turning his eyes to the white haired demon again.

Along with Bez, he seemed the least suspicious in the group. So Cyr had no problem walking past the guard, towards his room, glancing back to make sure Myut was following. “
I didn’t even bring that much with me, so I guess it won’t be a long search,” he said, “but I’ve never seen a cursed item before, I wouldn’t know where to begin looking.

Think nothing of it.” Myut replied, and Cyr felt a soft smile flit across his face. “It shouldn’t be too hard, especially if there’s not a lot to go through.” he added, and Cyr nodded.

He had to admit that he felt a little weird inviting someone into his room. Someone like Myut. Ignoring the fact that they were basically strangers, and this wasn’t his actual room, just a place to sit and be judged by his peers for a week before they decided who to execute. But for now, he could pretend like he was just inviting a very handsome demon into his room. The sheen of pink that had haloed his ears died down a little, however, as the gorgeous tall demon--pride--from yesterday approached. Bez’s girlfriend. Bez had excellent taste.

The pink, however, returned as Myut shifted, as if to protect him from Vivian. No, he shouldn’t read too much into it. Myut likely just felt wary around the other demon, considering what they’d all just learned. It was unlikely that Myut was already protective of him, or perhaps jealous of a potential interloper. Those were just indulgent thoughts.

Cyr shifted slightly to acknowledge her, dragged his gaze up to her face as her jaw bulged slightly. An apology came out, and Cyr felt his eyebrows lift.

"
Do you, ah… want any help?" Cyr gazed at her as her eyes flicked between the two. "I've seen some runework before." What was her interest? Cyr couldn’t help a flash of distrust from flicking through him. A part of him had liked the idea of just inviting Myut in, but he knew better. This was more important than school-boy fantasies. And if Myut thought she might be helpful, who would he be to decline?

It wouldn’t hurt to have another set of experienced eyes. I’ll know what’s cursed, but I can’t promise I’ll know what kind of curse it could be,” Myut mused.

Don’t worry, I was just trying to be gentlemanly,” he replied to her apology first, slightly teasingly. “Lust demon, you know how it is.” He winked.

She let out an awkward little laugh. "
I guess, yeah." No wonder Bez was hanging around her. Despite her stature and the way she held herself, she seemed...almost shy. It was cute.

Let’s go,” he said, beckoning both of them into his room. While it wasn’t immaculate--he’d left the bed unmade, and some of his things were strewn about his desk--he’d kept the room looking fairly decent. Well, it looked fairly decent until he dumped most of his stuff out onto the bed. Small decorations and jewelry, some little trinkets to trade, the necklace his betrothed had given him, and a few other pretties. For good measure he put his pilfered alcohol onto the bed as well. If it wasn’t cursed, it might make a good reward.

He did not, however, dump his books out onto the bed. He’d owned them for years. There was absolutely no way they were cursed, right? Or his clothing. It had to be something in this sprawl. Maybe something he’d traded for during the gala? Though he’d mostly been giving gifts, little things to people he didn’t think he’d see again…

Those worries seemed so far away now...

Cyr shifted with discomfort as the pair poured over his things, wondering what they would find. At least both of them seemed to be taking the matter of the cursed object seriously. He felt a faint frown ghost across his face when he saw the white haired demon suddenly pluck his betrothal necklace from the clutter, holding it like a dead fish, a firm word on his lips. Cyr’s heart dropped, a cold tension suddenly closing up his throat.

That...that can’t be it,” he said with a disquieted laugh, face pale and still. “My...my….my parents gave me that, it’s for…well it’s supposed to be for me, not for…anyone else?

Internally confusion and anger flashed through him. Was his betrothed trying to kill him or something? He didn’t want to make it known here, not when there was this potential for something nice..a little hold out before whatever fate awaited him beyond, but this...this unsettled him more than anything else. He’d have to tell Bez. Maybe she’d have some insight.

Viv grabbed a set of hair pins, asking if she could use them. Cyr nodded slightly with confusion. She used one to pin back her hair, and its twin to manipulate the necklace, alongside a ruby cross necklace.

His betrothal necklace was quite pretty, a length of black velvet with a small chain and some eyelets to clasp it in the back. In the front, a silver mockingbird was embossed on the fabric, and in it’s claw it held a flower--or rather a tiny bracketed sapphire. The Pride demon flipped it over, squinting down at it. He had no idea what she was looking at, however, because from his angle the whole thing was black.

This rune here,” she said, “basically means...unbreakable. It’s normally used to strengthen, but it’s linked with this ‘unless’ modifier, and I can’t read the rest but that’s normally used to make a piece of jewelry only one person can take off. Even if someone else is wearing it, only the owner can ‘break’ it.” she explained before leaning back over.

Cyr could only stare as she peered harder at the necklace. “
Okay, so, this one here is in the transformation family of runes. That’s all I know, they trigger transformations. I think there’s a specific one for animal, and there’s a thing you need for reversibility and- wait -I think that might be...mutate?” she blinked a few times. “Like...80% sure that one means mutate. Which is the ‘curse’ version of transform, like, it’s harder to undo and can last longer…

Myut stood beside her, head angled similarly. As she pointed out the markings, the white haired demon gave a low, thoughtful hum. “
Mutate would need quite the collection of instructions…

I bet that that’s this mess over here…” Viv poked the cluster with the hairpin.

"
Curses like these have been notoriously used in the past as a nasty means of control and modification. For suppression of an individual, especially if it’s an animal transformation. In fact, in the third generation of demons-“ Myut stopped abruptly, however, with a sheepish cough. “Uh, nowadays I’ve heard of them being used as lesser afflictions against two demons who might be in a spat, but, with the runes that Viv has pointed out….

The two were just talking amongst themselves now. Cyr was hardly listening, his thoughts racing painfully. What did this mean? It didn’t seem like they knew what exactly the necklace did… but whatever it was, it didn’t sound good. He swallowed hard, hardly noticing at first when both of the other demons were suddenly staring at him.

Cyr blinked almost owlishly between them as Myut spoke directly at him. “
Don’t put this on. Ever.” Cyr felt his shoulder deflate slightly. What on earth...he was glad they’d found it. Maybe...maybe getting stuck in this place was a good thing? Who knew what would have happened if he’d gone home with that demon...or if his parents really were out to get him. He couldn’t understand why, though…

He didn’t pay attention to Vivian’s playful test of the necklace. He just grabbed his bag and swept everything else into it, before grabbing the necklace gingerly and dropping it in the bottom of his armoire so he could keep an eye on it. As he turned his back on the other two, he tried to regain his composure. He was safe for now, at least. He hadn’t done anything wrong. Maybe this way he could get out of the betrothal? Well, either way, he should enjoy himself now, instead of moping around, right?

Cyr put on a smile as he turned, trying to chase away the grim pallor that had briefly stolen his face. Everything was ok. "
Thanks guys," he said, putting on a cheerful tone. "I'll do my best to never wear it, then. Good thing i had you two to let me know..." Everything was fine. He wasn't hurt. Everything was ok.

Nonetheless, as they all moved towards his door, back out into the main room, he hesitated by his doorway, feeling that worry surge through him again. What had he done to deserve all this?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Myut Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Valramir Character Portrait: Amos
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【Rule Number 1: Don’t take a nap when you’re supposed to be doing damage control.
Rule Number 2: If you do, blame the sloth demon.】
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【The Bath Room】
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【#6D0F8A】
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Back in this room, Ino leaned back against the wall with a sigh. He’d been caught stretching, but the resulting interaction had been friendly – pleasant even. Maybe him and Myut could be friends.

Maybe.

He went to his wardrobe, not planning on wasting more time on his outfit. This time he chose a subtle pair of boots, and on his way out, realized he hadn’t put his book away. That was quickly fixed – he moved the large tome into the nightstand drawer. Hopefully, no one had seen it clearly. At the very least, no one had asked.

He emerged into a busier room, noticing now Val napping on one of the couches and Cyr just standing around. Myut was examining the plant closely, and Ino started over there, curious. He wondered if it was real or manifested, and if real, what properties it might have.

He didn’t get to ask though, as quite suddenly, the door reappeared. Ino didn’t even have time to react before the guard stepped through. It was the blond one who’d lured him in the day before, and the Envy’s eyes narrowed as he stalked over, unsure of what he’d say except that it wouldn’t be nice.

The guard spoke before Ino reached him, though, and reluctantly the Envy stopped, sitting at the table. An announcement about why they were here was more important than his wounded pride. He still drummed his fingers impatiently, watching as Cyr carried the sloth over, and Vivian emerged from one of the rooms carrying a sleepy-looking Bez. By the time all seven were present, he started to look distinctly irritated, though that expression smoothed into polite indifference as the guard began to speak.

And then he was identified as a suspect and his composure shattered.

Ino had never been more glad that he’d set a glamour that morning, because it meant his face remained calm and still, his eyebrow arching a bit as he was accused of having poison, before the others had their crimes laid out.

Behind the mask, his emotions ran high – inside his long sleeves, his hands trembled with tension, and his eyes were wide and worried, lips parted in shock, in denial. As the guard stepped back, he looked around carefully, only standing when a few others stood. Luckily, Myut’s outburst had taken some attention off his own accusation.

Because poison sounded pretty damn bad.

As the others began to disperse, heading into rooms or to harass the guard, Ino quietly backed up. His heart was pounding still, and keeping his breaths steady was a struggle. He needed to be alone – a moment to compose himself.

He found his chance in the mysterious door that hadn’t opened yesterday. He had heard the click when the guard pointed at it, and when he tried the handle now, it turned easily in his hand. Completely silent, he slipped inside, closing the door behind him. He found himself in a long hallway, softly carpeted and lined with doors. He tried each one, finding 6 of them locked. He wondered if there being 7 had any significance. The seventh stood ajar though, and when he stepped in he blinked a few times, exhaling into the warm air with a deep sigh.

Water.

The large pool stretched almost wall to wall, though there was ample room to walk around the edges without falling in. The air was warm and wet, lightly fragranced with a mix of gentle floral scents. He could see two shelves on the far side, and the rumble of the water falling from the rocks was just loud enough to compete with his racing thoughts.

Ino reached behind him, gently pushing the door closed. He wasn’t sure how long this would be here, or when another might find it, and he wanted to take advantage. There was no lock to ensure his privacy, but at this point, he was just glad for a working door. He headed right for the rack of towels, taking one and spreading it on the still-dry floor. With a nervous glance back, he stripped quickly, folding his clothes into the soft white cloth and laying them aside. He paused only briefly at the other shelf, plucking a purple oil and a random soap from there before quickly descending into the water.

The bath was pleasantly warm and it made Ino shiver pleasantly as he waded in. He uncapped the oil he held – it was indeed lavender, based on the strong fragrance – and dripped it into the bath as he walked, hoping it would help calm him down. Near the center, the water only got deeper, and Ino skirted it rather than be forced to swim. The floor seemed textured, and his feet didn’t slip as he walked, which he was grateful for.

Returning to the edge, the Envy placed the bottle of oil aside before dunking the soap. It was vaguely floral, and Ino scrubbed quickly, washing off the sweat from his exercising with a bit of relief. He dunked his face under, letting the glamour fall, and washed slowly, holding his breath for as long as he was able. He didn’t want to get his hair wet, but he didn’t want to get out yet either. He found that the sides of the pool had a long, smooth ledge, and when he sat on it, the water came to just beneath his shoulders. He knelt on it with some difficulty, dragging his bundle of towelled clothing closer. Once more he sat, tipping his head back against his little pile.

Some of his blind panic had faded, and he knew he needed to think.

He needed to lay out the facts.

Fact 1: The poison. He knew exactly what they were talking about, and looking back now, it had been foolish to bring it. But that entire scheme had been what finally got him out of bed, so he wasn’t sure how much he regretted it. A little now. Probably a lot more later.

Fact 2: He hadn’t been trying to kill the prince. Though their relationship had failed, Ino hadn’t been the one who ended things, and he still felt shamefully fond of the man. His cheeks burned and he sank a bit deeper into the water.

Fact 3: He had one of the worst accusations on him. Not that there weren’t others – Cyr’s cursed object, the wrath demon’s arson, Val tampering with the guards were all good contenders. But poison, along with his undeniable motive, meant that he had to explain himself.

Which led to Fact 4: He couldn’t tell the truth. It wasn’t exactly much better than what he’d been accused of. Poisoning the Prince would have been bad, but trying to poison the Prince's current lover? Equally bad, and in some eyes, likely worse. Though it wasn’t like he’d actually been trying to kill him…

He huffed, crossing his arms, now so low in the steamy water that his breath made bubbles on the surface.

They really had made him sound awful, and he had to wonder if it was on purpose. If Abadeer wanted to get rid of him more permanently – that is to say, for good. And a bottle of poison was pretty damning evidence, when his actual plan had just been to humiliate Emil…

His eyes snapped wide open from their droopy state and he pushed himself back up. Maybe that could be it. His way out.

Heartbird – the poison he’d brought with him – became lethal at a certain level. 30 milligrams, to be precise. But at a third of that, it sped up body systems, amplifying the effects of anything else a demon had ingested. At two thirds, it began to affect the stomach, sending the unfortunate demon running for the bathroom. The reason why it was banned was because at a full dose, it became very easy to overload the heart.

And Ino had double that dose with him.

Fuck.

Could he convince the others he hadn’t meant to use it to its full, toxic potential? He was no killer. He’d fully meant to use only one, maybe two doses on Emil, but admitting that wouldn’t win him any friends. But…what if he claimed he’d wanted to use it on himself? At that low dose, it’d be stupid but possible to take it to amplify the effect of any other drug, or even just get drunk faster.

It made him sound foolish, but demons had been known to do more for less of a good time. It seemed to be the best explanation he had. He could even take some to prove it wasn’t lethal, if he had to.

Yes, this could be a plan that might work.

Or would it?

Ino gave himself a few more minutes to think on it, his arms back on the tile, his head comfortably cushioned. With his worry tamed, the warm bath and sweet lavender swirled around him, taking advantage of his restless night to send him into a small sleep.



“Well, hello there. You’ve been in here a while,”

Ino woke with a start, jerking a bit when he saw Val so close. He hadn’t even heard him come in...that wasn’t safe. On the other hand, he doubted Valramir would hurt him directly. If Val was the assassin, he couldn’t be working alone.

“I must have fallen asleep…” he mumbled, sitting up a bit more, rubbing his eyes. “Surprised you woke me. Isn’t that the opposite of your thing?” he blinked once, twice, and reapplied his glamour in the next moment, fixing up his face. No need to let the sloth see more than he’d already seen.

Valramir chuckled.
“Hmm I suppose. But my curiosity outweighs the love I have of using my presence,” he answered honestly. “You vanished after our pretty guard demons laid out the accusations. Your face hardly betrayed a thing. It made me curious what you were really thinking behind your mask,” he said idly. “We haven’t had the chance to catch up lately.”

“What I was thinking?” Ino laughed softly, swirling his hand through the water. “I was thinking that this is crazy. And if this is a setup. And what exactly they think I have that’s poison.” Lay the groundwork now, act like it didn’t even occur to him that the substance he had could kill. “And then I saw the bath, and I wanted to take advantage since they might take it away, and then I guess I fell asleep. I didn’t sleep well last night,” he admitted. “But what about you? What do you think?”

“What do I think, indeed,” he mused, his eyes watching Ino. Part of the gaze was still lusty as he reached out and pushed some of Ino’s wayward strands away from his face before he rolled onto his back to stare at the ceiling. “I am thinking it is way too muggy in here,” he grinned. “And I think you are stunning, as usual, even more so without clothes,” he said in a cheeky type of tone.

“Flatterer~” Ino said playfully, letting his face pinken obligingly in response to the gentle touch. “And you don’t like the warmth? I think I’m ready to leave.” he admitted, stretching his arms up and over his head. “But what did you do, Val? Make the guards take a little nap?”

Val chuckled at the other demon and sat up. “Yes, I made quite a few of them fall asleep. And I played a card game with them… had them leave their posts,” he answered, a darker glint in his eyes. “It was all in good fun though,” he answered. He got up and turned to offer his hand to Ino. “Why do you have all those herbs in your bag anyway, Innocence?” he asked.

“Naughty, naughty~” Ino sang, his eyes sparkling, laughing at the nickname. No one had called him that in a while, and he found that he liked it. “Though that’s a pretty big hole in the defenses. I’d be grateful it was pointed out.” he cast him a sidelong glance, wanting to see how he’d react to that. “Since it clearly wasn’t very professional of them.”

The petite demon took the offered hand and stood, daintily exiting the water and heading for the rack to take a fresh towel, rubbing himself down before wrapping himself up. “It’s good to have things along in a place like this. Painkiller, nausea, headache, you know the drill. Just being prepared.” he wasn’t ready to share the secret of his hangover cure with anyone just yet.

“I see,” Val was saying. “I suppose that makes sense” Ino could hear the distraction and he knew what caused it. He wasn’t at all surprised when Val cleared his throat and started to speak. “You know… if you’re up to it, my room is always available to you,” he said. “You did mention once we might have a chance to have a bit of fun. Just putting that out there. We never really know how long we have in this small bubble, or what the hell will happen in 7 days when our time is up.”

“For a nap?” Ino very deliberately played innocent. “I might take you up on that.” Val made it impossible to ignore his meaning, though, and Ino had to address it. “Maybe...maybe when we get out of here, okay?” he offered up softly. “I just...don’t know right now.”

It was more vulnerability than he’d wanted to share, but it was true. He knew Val meant well, but he lacked the impulse to have sex just because… “I’m sorry…” he murmured, very softly, and took up his clothes to begin getting dressed.

Val gave a playful little pout at first and leaned against the wall, still watching the demon.
“There is no reason to apologize, Ino. An offer was just an offer. Just know I will always flirt,” he said, and it made Ino feel better, to know that there was nothing Val expected from him.

“But I am always game for sleep,” the Sloth was continuing with a much more innocent smile then. “And cuddles.”

Ino gave Val a softer, more genuine smile in return. “Thank you.” he said. “I really might take you up on those naps. Cuddles included, obviously.”

He then draped a towel over his shoulders, just below where a few strands of hair curled damply against his neck. “Let’s get out of here, it’s not too pleasant when dressed.”

Ino got his boots on and strode back down the hall, pretty sure Val was behind him. “Hello everyone!” he declared, stepping into the main room after throwing the door open, though he caught it so that it didn’t slam the wall. “So they gave us a bathtub, not sure how long it’ll last, if anyone wants to check that out~”

As though he didn’t have a care, he headed for the middle of the room. He’d wait to see if anyone spoke to him before he went around asking questions.

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: Amos Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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#, as written by Skwidge
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【Preposterous. Just Fantastic.】
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【Table → Cyr’s Room → Viv’s Room】
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At the sound of an actual door closing, Myut’s focus immediately snapped up from his plant to hone strikingly in on the unfamiliar figure now standing where their front door was supposed to be. Had been just milliseconds ago. Myut drank in the protector’s appearance slowly, taking his time in analyzing and sizing up this individual. Mousy blonde hair, tall and slender in build, and clad in the armor of the Prince’s guards. It seemed that the big man himself had finally deigned to send in someone to hopefully tell them what was going on. Meu leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms as a keenly interested look filled his features. His eyes did not leave this guard’s form.

That is, until Cyris took the seat next to him, settling in ‘twixt his view of the sentry. That had broken the white-haired demon’s harsh and scrutinizing gaze. He regarded the dark-skinned man affably, brow smoothing and eyes growing gentle once more. Now that he was looking around, it seemed that Val had joined them too. Myut’s eyes narrowed and he leaned a bit with that same uncertain but investigative aura. Now that he was reminded the sloth demon existed, his memory of the prior night had been jogged - he needed to have a word with the man. But that would have to wait; whatever this little gathering happened to be was of far more cruciality.

Plus, Viv was carrying Bez over to the table as well and the little demon’s state of dress was quite interesting. Meu couldn’t help but be reminded how delightfully adorable and attractive the gluttony was. Should he be able to catch the little one’s gaze, he’d share an affectionate smile with her. It looked like she had been able to manage some sleep last night, which was a relief to Myu. In any case, she had likely had a good time in the late hours, if Viv adoringly transporting her was of any inclination.

Once Ino and Eris had joined the fray, taking their respective seats with swift decision, the guard then began to speak. He had a smooth voice, and Meu could not help but lean forward a bit and tilt his head to get a better look at his eyes. They were a sharp viridescent color, somewhere between emerald and spring green. They seemed a hint nervous, though. The sentiment was only strengthened by the way this watchman was speaking – uncertain, awkward, somewhat uncomfortable. Once he railroaded himself into what sounded like a prepared speech, though, – hinted by the literal papers he pulled out and began to read from - that initial hesitation left. He sounded a little miffed now, in fact. Meu gave a small grin at that; he could sympathize.

Any relaxed feelings that the greed demon had been steeping in were discarded as soon as the guard mentioned the word ‘assassination’. It only got worse as in the next breath it was revealed that they had all been apprehended as suspects for it. That would explain the rough treatment yesterday. A harsh look tainted Mew’s facial features, form now of a more rigid bearing as he clenched a fist. Damn, it was suddenly a very unfortunate circumstancing that the item he had been innocently looking after had been anything but when considered in this finally revealed context against Abadeer.

It would be absolute hogwash should the fact that the sort of item that he had been so houndedly after, for the simple means of historical collecting, been discovered. He would arguably be the most incriminated among all of them, simply for the stark fact of the wording. Meu was fairly certain that he hadn’t revealed anything behind the purpose of the ancient weapon, but it was a bit hard to recall now. He had simply been looking for an old artifact. Yes, he wouldn’t have been foolish enough to reveal anything especially sketchy or informative in regard to a claim to kill the current king.

When Amos revealed that it would be a jury of peers, Meu could barely contain the roil of irritation from making itself visible. After all this treatment, did the guards honestly expect them to do their dirty work? Obviously they would have no choice, but how absolutely laughable. Well, at least if Myut would have to put in some work, it wouldn’t be for nothing, which was excellent since he would have refused to do it without something in return. They only had one week. What the hell had everyone gotten mixed up in? At least it seemed they had been correct in assuming they were all in trouble. But this kind of trouble…. Was this guard even speaking the truth? Were they just pinning it conveniently on a group of troublemakers, or was someone in their midst really an assassin? Guess they’d find out.

The voice of the guard clad in armor bearing Abadeer’s colors spoke out clearly and concisely then, beginning to list each demon, their race of sin, and their transgressions. Ino’s was the first to be tacked up. Poison? That shook Meu up a bit, but he was honestly still highly suspicious of this whole situation. There was still something about it. Ino had seemed so small and kind; many of them seemed that way. The greed demon didn’t get to dwell on it for very long though, as the guard continued on without much pause for them and Myut was next.

When the guard announced to the room Myut’s accusation as him having ‘bribed’ the guards, of all things, Mew could not help the look of sour indignation now that very clearly filled his face. The greed spoke up to immediately correct such a defamation of character,
“Bribed?” He scoffed, setting his hand against the table with a loud thunk, “These were fair trades and your guards know it. If you don’t even know this much, then perhaps you should be looking a little more closely to home for traitors rather than a group of your esteemed party guests. Especially since your fellow men-at-arms have been rather deliberate with our things. Or did they not tell you about that either? I don’t give shit away for free.”

Perhaps the content of his outburst had been a bit on the nose, and it was certainly true that Myut was not free of any blame, but he’d move Heaven and Hell itself if it had to do with any negatively impacting misinformation regarding how he handled his business. After having finished defending his honor, Myut sat back in his chair, crossing his arms once more and looking a bit disgruntled. At least he had been correct in that his accusations had been largely vague. He listened to Amos ramble off the rest of the accusations in utter silence, but he could not help but feel surprised at the revelation of all.

Myut was quite a bit caught off guard with how inaccurately he had mapped out his fellow demons’ sins. He had known Bez and Val’s already, and there was no mistaking Eris for anything other than a wrath, but the remaining demons he had gotten mixed up. He had surmised that Ino had to be a pride demon with how carefully he took care of his looks and how he held himself. For Vivian, he had thought she was envy considering how protective she was of Bezabelle. And Cyris… that came as the biggest upset. Totally out of left field. Myut would have never pegged him as a lust demon after having read the things scribbled in his books.

Now, obviously, he didn’t know anything about any one of them sans Bez, but he had thought he was a better guesser. Granted, he had only had half a day with them, and besides that had avoided them all for the most part to boot. Nevertheless, that meant there was one of each sin present. Abadeer was certainly covering all his bases. But with the hundreds of demons who had attended the gala, Meu was surprised to see that no one else had gotten into some sort of mischief or other. Plebians. Or was it just nicely convenient?

Vivian’s crime, as she had previously revealed to them yesterday, had also been of being somewhere she should not have. Like Myut’s own wrongdoing, the greed demon could not help but feel offended for the both of them. She had said it had been a misunderstanding, which was exactly how it was for Meu too.

Bez was hardly even worth mentioning among the schemes listed. It was as if the guards were grasping at straws. She had been around suspicious individuals during the gala? She had been around everyone during the gala. They may as well have arrested everyone for attending.

Eris had committed arson. How positively dreadful. But she was a wrath demon; it was not that surprising, especially when you considered you were pulling demons from every corner in Hell, so there was no doubt there would be some conflicts. Arson as a means to kill Abadeer, though? It sounded clumsy, and while wraths could be particularly unintelligent at times, they were damn clever. Besides, if she had aimed more directly for Abadeer, the other six of them wouldn’t be sitting here. Meu could not imagine that the little mud eel would simply set something alight and hope it made it to Abadeer in time. But who was he to say? He didn’t know where, what, or whom she had set on fire. In fact, all of the misdemeanors were quite vague.

Valrien sabotaging guards, though. That also sounded pretty bad, but knowing what little he did of the sloth demon, he didn’t imagine the demon had it in him to put forth so much effort for some bigger grand plan. Who knew, though. Meu couldn’t say anything for any of them, really.

But having heard that Cyr had a cursed item, however, had a few mixed feelings battling about in his chest. One, while this situation was indeed dire, Myut could not help but instinctively feel extremely interested to see just what it was that Cyris had with him. But, contrasting to that, he two, was conflicting against feelings of uncertainty and wariness as was properly due the group’s circumstances. Yet still furthermore three, Meu was also feeling something almost akin to a different type of concern.

He didn’t know Cyr very well, and with the fact that the guard said he had something so dangerous with him, Myut wasn’t entirely sure how to place his feelings. He had seen how gentle the other had thus far been, and it had felt sincere. Was Cyr just playing them, though? Mew nibbled his lower lip in thought for a moment or two while his arms were crossed. It did not take long for one of these feelings to win out over the others, however, and Myut turned to look at Cyr with a levelled expression. It had been concern.


“Cy-Ut.” He had begun, only to be surprised to find the other demon already looking at him and doing the same in calling his name too. The end result was a weird amalgamation of their two names being spoken over each other, but Meu grew quiet so Cyris could speak first. He was clearly very bothered. That became even more clear once he explained.

So, Cyr had not known he had something cursed in with his things? The quasi-concern that Mew had been feeling only grew a little more complicated. The greed demon felt a little bit antsy and restless now too. He gave the dark-haired man a firm nod in answer, however, when he asked for help,
“Of course." Cyris had already won Myut’s favor, so it was no surprise that his response had been automatic to come to his aid.

Cyr looked deeply relieved at his assent. As the darker demon rose from his seat, Myut registered that it had interrupted the guard still speaking at the head of the table. But Meu did not pay him any mind. Watching the other’s face relax because of what he had said made Myut inadvertently grin, feeling pleased that he could be of service for him. As such, Mew did not hesitate to join him, abandoning his chair and focusing sharply on the other’s broad back, ignoring the rest of the gathered masses.

After the few steps that they had thus managed, Myut found himself surprised again when Cyr warmly turned back to him, saying that he’d owe him. Another automatic response slipped out from Meu’s lips before he could stop it.
“Think nothing of it.”

Mew’s voice had come out soft and pleasant, returning the cozy sentiment the other had shown him in tone. The greed’s voice was then interrupted by a small little cough, clearing his throat almost awkwardly. Had he, a sinful greed, actually just said that? Cyr did not owe him anything in return? Myut did not feel the need for trade? No, it… it was certainly in return for letting Meu borrow his books. Even though Cyr had assured him he had thought nothing of sharing. That must be why Myut did not feel his usual tendencies surfacing. …But he had wanted to help Cyr, and in that desire he had not spared a single thought towards asking for something in return, as he normally would have with anyone else.

The green-eyed male suddenly looked elsewhere while giving a nod to indicate that Cyr should continue leading the way, trying his best to sort those feelings. From the corner of his eye, he caught Cyr turning back to look at him once more, and Meu’s attention returned back to him, eyes lifting to meet his and showing the other demon that he was attentive and curious about what he had to say next.

Cyr spoke of his small gathering of possessions, and Meu responded by giving a relaxed shrug of his shoulders,
“It shouldn’t be too hard, especially if there’s not a lot to go through.” He reassured the other, hoping to ease any discomfort the lust demon might be experiencing. He didn’t like the idea of Cyr being troubled.

Before they entered the room, however, Vivian, the tall and gorgeous pride demon, stopped the two with a single word.

”Cyris.”

Meu shifted a bit in order to position himself almost protectively in front of Cyr – to block Viv from getting too close. He didn’t like the idea of anyone else getting too near; he didn’t trust the others. But it seemed that Viv had simply wanted to apologize for something or other that had occurred yesterday, and furthermore it wasn’t Myut’s place to be trying to step in on Cyr’s behalf. And besides, the well-built man could probably take care of himself just fine. Another awkward half cough slipped from Myut’s throat as he repositioned himself so that Cyris would have a clear view of the demon addressing him. Meu tried to play off his physical response nonchalantly, turning to occupy himself with looking into Cyr’s room as the other two spoke.

When Viv offered her assistance in looking for the cursed item, though, Myut stiffened ever so slightly. His back was still turned to the other two demons as his eyes narrowed, gaze staring into the depths of Cyris’ room. Her joining them sounded less than ideal. Why was she offering? The greed could not help but be suspicious. But these were Cyr’s things, and Cyr’s call. Myut turned around with a neutral expression, eyes interestedly focused on the female’s form. He broke the gaze to tilt his head up towards the lust demon, indicating that he would be comfortable with whatever was chosen.
“It wouldn’t hurt to have another set of experienced eyes. I’ll know what’s cursed, but I can’t promise I’ll know what kind of curse it could be.”

A bit to his slight disappointment, Cyris beckoned for the two of them to enter his room. Meu took a better look at things now that the whole of the room was revealed to him. He glanced around while Cyr grabbed his bags to dump his possessions onto the bed. When he had, Myut felt a little sad not to see the man’s books among them. Meu didn’t dwell on this, though, as he had not sensed anything off about them last night when Cyr had brought them to him.

Viv was the first to step up to the bed, but the greed raked his eyes over the other items strewn across the sheets. He leaned forward to run his fingers along a trinket or two, but he did so with swift decision, barely taking in too much about any one item. If it didn’t give off any sort of feeling, Myut wasn’t interested in it. Normally he’d be very interested to take his time to peruse through each one carefully, but he had a job to do and that took precedence. Viv seemed keen on the jewelry, which made sense considering that was her family background. He took a moment or two to pick up anything she passed over, but thus far nothing was jumping out at him.

He had gone through the few non-adornment items in no time flat, so Meu also turned his attention to the collection of jewelry that Viv was going through. He was polite to not intrude on her personal space as she stood beside him, but he also did not waste time in waiting for her to go through certain things first. So, when his hand brushed over the particular necklace sitting off by itself, he immediately froze.
“This.” He spoke with absolute certainty, delicately grabbing the item by its back clasp and pulling it forward so that he and Viv could inspect it more closely.

The tall woman leaned over the necklace, seeming to follow suit in carefully handling the item. She had borrowed two hairpins, securing her hair out of the way with the first before using the second and another piece of jewelry to use as instruments to flip the choker over. Myut was curious when he saw her tilt very particularly. Myut angled his head similarly to how Vivian was doing with hers, and then he saw it. Kind of. She certainly had a keen eye - it was difficult for him to pick out the black-on-black markings, especially in this lighting. As she physically singled them out, however, Meu could also follow along to an extent.

She informed them of the various runes present, and when she pointed out a supposed mutation inscription, the white-haired demon gave a low, thoughtful hum.
“Mutate would need quite the collection of instructions…”

“I bet that that’s this mess over here…” Viv jabbed towards a spattering of nigh-invisible thread with her hairpin. Myut gave a soft ‘oh’ as he then nodded his agreement. Myut elaborated a little bit further on what Vivian had picked out.

“Curses like these have been notoriously used in the past as a nasty means of control and modification. For suppression of an individual, especially if it’s an animal transformation. In fact, in the third generation of demons-“ Meu had begun eagerly, but then thought better of it and quickly cut himself off with a light cough. He didn’t imagine the two wanted any sort of history lesson right now. “Uh, nowadays I’ve heard of them being used as lesser afflictions against two demons who might be in a spat, but, with the runes that Viv has pointed out….” It definitely reminded him more of the sinister intentions closer to creation and Hell’s early conflicts. This was certainly no small thing to scoff at.

However, when the female pride had spoken up to ask if Cyr was okay, Myut’s gaze immediately shot up to regard the taller demon. That was right, Cyr had not known about this being in with his things. And he said it had been a familial bestowing? Myut didn’t necessarily get along with his parents either, but this….
“Don’t put this on. Ever.”

With a nod Vivian had displayed strong agreement. “Although it should be okay to handle, just don’t close the clasps - that’s what activates ‘unbreakable’ and maybe the rest of the runes too. This gem is too small to be a power source.” she said confidently, then looked between the other two demons.

“Avenge me!” she said with an attempted playful tone before pressing her finger on the necklace. As Myut knew would, nothing happened, but Viv seemed especially relieved with the loud sigh that followed. “Yeah, it’s fine like this. Inert.”

Myut had appreciated Viv’s attempt to lighten up the mood, though, and flashed her a stupid grin to show that he approved of the jest. Cyr, however, had not seemed to even notice it. The lust demon simply swiped everything excluding the cursed object back into his bag. He dumped that into a bottom drawer, and the noise of him shutting it sounded loud to Meu’s ears. The greed frowned softly now while Cyr was still turned away from them. Beholding Cyris’ back had only lasted a few moments though, for soon the tall demon turned back around with a smile that didn’t seem to quite reach his eyes, Myut noticed.

Cyr expressed his gratitude to the two of them, assuring them that he would do his damnedest not to let it encircle his throat. Meu was grateful for that, but he heard the way that Cyris trailed off at the end of his sentence. It bothered Myut greatly. As Viv moved to exit the room, the white-haired demon hesitated a bit, staying almost in line with Cyr while they neared closer to the doorway, but still in front. He shifted from one foot to the other for a moment, not quite sure what to do. It didn’t feel quite right to just leave like this, Cyr may have sounded cheery, but he was clearly bothered. Myut did not know if it was appropriate or polite for him to try to check on him, though.

Mew allowed his instinct to take hold in the end as he heard the footfalls of the other silence as he hesitated near the door. Meu redirected his intention from leaving to turning back around and stopping a very short distance from Cyr. Only half a step separated them. They were still a small ways away from the door, so they wouldn’t be in direct view of the outer room. Gently, Meu lilted his body to the right a bit so he could hide the lifting of his arm, just in case someone were to be sneaking a look into the bedroom.

Myut softly folded his fingers over his own tanned palm and used the flat of his pinky to mellowly bump against Cyr’s left pec. Mew had been going for a reassuring touch, tilting his chin up ever so slightly to gaze into the face of the other.
“We’ll figure it out.” He gave a faint, closed-eye smile as he withdrew his hand, hoping to god he didn’t just make things more uncomfortable for Cyr by committing some sort of social faux pas. Myut was typically good at that sort of stuff, but this was sort of new territory for him.

Cyr had turned slightly in response to Myut moving closer, intending to watch him pass. Surprise seemed to ghost his face as he instead found Meu lingering at his side. With his gentle touch and reassuring words, Meu was terribly pleased to find Cyr’s lips parting slightly as the lust met the greed’s pale green eyes. A look of bemusement settled in the corners of Cyris’ mouth before they curved up into a small, almost timid smile.


“Thank you,” he murmured softly, gaze still trapped by Myut’s slim yet sturdy face. ”I...I appreciate your help,” he reached up and gently laid a hand on the Greed demon’s elbow for a moment.

This returned smile had Meu pursing his lips ever so slightly, not quite sure how to react to it. Furthermore, the thanks and the reciprocated touch had his cheeks flushing awkwardly. He gave a swift nodnod as he sheepishly used his free hand to run his fingers through his fluffy hair, hesitating to break the connection on the other occupied arm. With a soft cough and a pause to look into Cyr’s deep and rich golds, hand still mid-hair, Mew let his gaze buckle and seek out something else.
“A-anyway.” He gave a clipped nod of his head and decided to retreat.

He paused momentarily at the threshold, though, and gave a soft,
“Anytime,” before stepping out and trying very damn hard to ignore the weird and painful thumping in his chest. That had indeed been a little nerve-wracking, so it was no wonder his heart was hammering a bit. He could have messed that up real bad, and then where would his social image be? He’d have to trade in his business cufflinks.

As Meu turned and took a step past the demon's door, however, he found Viv waiting there for him. He stepped aside from the opening of the door in case Cy needed to get by.
"Yes?"

"What did you think of that? A little crazy, isn't it?" Viv spoke quietly, also stepping away from the door. “Yeah, crazy is a good word for it.” Myut frowned, doing his best to resist the urge to turn back and check on Cyr again already, even though he had literally just done so. It worried him. Especially since the black-haired demon had had no clue about the cursed item to begin with, and who even knows how long he had had it with him.

”I'm glad we found it. Well, you. But I wanted to ask if you had any way to tell if something is missing from someone else's collection?" It was indeed lucky that the two of them had found it and been able to warn Cyris. As she spoke, Viv was slowly moving towards the entrance to her own room.

“Ah, I certainly couldn’t have figured out those runes, and knowing is half the battle.” The greed demon unabashedly praised her in soft tones, listening as she asked him about other missing items and commented on maybe getting more into runic studies. Myut knew he hadn’t been the only one those guards had been skimming off the top from! He was eager to follow after her in the direction of her room, as he assumed entering it with him was her desire, and spoke up to answer while they walked. The greed was back, and Myut wanted to go through more stuff. It was simply a bonus if it also helped Vivian out.

“If you can give me a general description of what you’ve originally brought with you, I would be able to cross check swiftly with what’s physically there. I’d need quantity or count, but if you want help dividing things up to check for yourself, I can also do that in a markedly fast and efficient manner.”

Viv explained that, along with her parents, she had brought loads of things to the gala to show off to potential buyers. She then requested he stand in the way of the door, to which he obliged. Myut stood obediently at the door while curiously watching Viv move about. He didn’t really know what she was doing at first, but as she flitted about the room, producing more and more boxes of jewelry, it was beginning to click. She had hid her things. That was a good idea. Valramir, he was reminded once more, had been snooping the prior evening. And now the greed demon was being informed that Eris had a similar tendency.

At this revelation, Myut bristled like an angry, bushy cat. No touchy his things. Especially wrath demons named Eris. He would be properly putting away his things as soon as he returned to his room. Whenever that may be. It could be a long day, honestly.

Vivian just kept bringing more and more boxes over, almost eliciting a jaw-drop from Myut. How had she brought this much to the gala? How had the guards brought this much to here? He was very, very impressed. The pride demon spoke up then, chatting while she hauled things from here to there,
“I guess I don’t really think it was you, I was caught in a place I ‘wasn’t supposed to be’ and it was a complete misunderstanding. So I think they might be prone to overreacting. A little. Compared to some of the others. Anyway.”

Myut nodded, leaning just a bit on the doorframe. “Same,” He grinned lightly at her, genuinely at ease being in her presence. Plus goodies! He wasn’t about to say anything that might get him kicked out now.

Once she indicated it was safe for him to join her at the bed, Mew strode forward to eagerly drink up what was laid out before him. Yes, there was a lot. Viv unveiled the first box, and the greed leaned avariciously forward, knuckles resting near the edge of the mattress. What he saw there turned his orbs covetous, and he traced a delicate finger over the handsome craftsmanship. Viv enlightened him about the sorts of other ornaments she had brought, pulling out a box which held a matching coronet to the set. Very gorgeous. So captivating. Meu’s fingers twitched and he hummed thoughtfully, eyes set like a laser on the piece.

Vivian then reminded him what he was here for, and he dragged his eyes away to politely meet her gaze while she spoke to him.
“Absolutely. Show me where to start.”

“Okay, so there’s a few pieces in this category. There’s this set here, also a cuff with a jeweled phoenix on it. There’s a mosaic locket with really tiny gems, there’s a music box…” Meu listened attentively while Viv listed off the last few they were looking for - ten in all. “Let’s look for those 9 first, since they’re the most important. Then I’ll tell you about the rest. Or would you rather know now?”

Myut carefully tallied the items she was listing for their first category, standing at his full height now and putting a finger up to his chin in thought. “We can work on them in chunks; it’ll be more manageable that way.” The white haired demon began to take the tops off of boxes and containers to begin the search. Occasionally he would peer back at the pretty showpiece Vivian had originally shown him.

The two of them searched around diligently, and Mew smiled brightly at Vivian’s pretty face when she so triumphantly produced one of the items they were searching for. He himself had pulled a folded-over piece of parchment from a box and had opened it to reveal the locket that was supposed to be part of the show category. He set it aside next to the box holding the full body set, making a nice little section for their current category.


“Ah, I know!”

Viv went over to her wardrobe and returned with a sheaf of papers, sorting through them.

“Here’s what they look like, this might help.” Myut accepted the offered stack. So it seemed that she had even brought the concept art with her. That proved very fortuitous for the two of them in this case. Meu began fingering through the pages. The first page was for a brilliant pair of earrings, while the next few detailed the music box, to which he stopped suddenly when he beheld it. He set the others aside, clutching at the remaining pieces of paper and bringing them closer to get a better look.

The way the metal had been worked seemed as though someone touched by divinity had molded it. This he liked. Very, very much. A few pages behind it seemed to be a piece of parchment with the sheet music for the melody it was supposed to play. While no expert on the subject, Myut enjoyed enough fine art and classic history to have picked up on how to read scores. His eyes hopped from note to note, initially silent but soon trying to hum one or two and then the rest of them to hear what the sound should be.

At the noise of papers being rustled voraciously, Viv turned to see what was going on, and smiled when she found Myut poring over the last page.
“You know how to read that?” She asked. “It kinda goes like this-,” Meu looked up when he heard Viv join him in song, giving a pleasant grin and letting her take over. When she finished the little ditty, to which Meu was enrapturedly listening to, regardless of how well her performance was, he gave a very quiet whistle. “Beautiful,” He nodded, regarding the images once more before starting to hunt with a vigor.

Unfortunately, even after swiftly zooming through the rest of the boxes, he didn’t seem to be finding it.
“Well, Viv, I think we’ve got some bad news.”

Viv frowned knowingly, telling him to break it to her anyway.

“The music box is most definitely gone.” His tone turned a little gravelly and grumpy; he had wanted to behold the beautiful thing with his own touch and see the real deal. More than that his sin itched like some annoying bug bite that would not go away. Mew thrummed his fingers against his thigh with a look of irritation. There was nothing that could be done though; if it wasn’t there, it wasn’t there. “Could I keep these?” The greed asked, referring to the papers he still held in one hand. That would be the only way to satiate the pestering void at this point.

“I also didn’t see the earrings you mentioned, either.”

Meu looked up as Viv took a deep, frustrated breath at having lost such precious things already. However, Myut was both pleased and heavily relieved to hear her then say that he could keep his precious little images. He would take these as payment for helping her out with sorting this stuff. In regards to her informing that she may temporarily take them back should her family need to recreate the piece, Myut answered with an, “Of course.”

“Better than that. If we ever find the music box, it’s yours.”

Her tone was definitely sore as she added ruefully that he could keep the box if they could find it.
“Hell yeah,” he muttered under his breath, clenching his fist triumphantly for a moment before nodding with a regal regard. He could empathize with her change in attitude. He had been livid when he found his own things gone. In fact, just thinking about how precious and unique the few pieces that had been stolen had him clenching his fists for another reason. He ground his teeth lightly. “Let’s go through the other categories.” He spoke with a renewed vigor, organizing the last few items they had found before getting started on the next round.

“It is infuriating, isn’t it?” Vivian responded to Myut’s anger. “We better be compensated for the losses when we get out. Did some of your things get taken too?”

“Wickedly vexing,” Myut agreed. “Oh yes,” He answered in regard to her questioning whether he had lost things too, “I shudder to think of the tainted little paws that grazed my precious things.” He growled out while sorting through another box. “Irreplaceable. I don’t want compensation, I want an arm and maybe a leg from whomever did it.” He made sure to keep his breathing even and his fists gentle, lest he crush in his anger the lid he was propping open. “And then I would hit them with the filthy thing.”

“Anyway,”
He mumbled, taking certain pieces of jewelry out to set aside, now creating two more lists depicted by Vivian’s next descriptions of the remaining categories. He would make swift work of clustering and organizing what he thought went where based on the information he had to go off.

“Go get’em,” She encouraged lightly with a somewhat amused tone. Myut simply smirked in response.

“You like to fight, Myu? I love a good spar. Might be nice to get some of that anger out too.”

Meu paused while poking at one side of a piece of jewelry and then the other, trying to get it positioned just right as it sat in its little group. “Ah, you’ll actually find me to be rather shit at fighting.” He laughed. “I get it up here,” He tapped on his temple, “But I don’t have the proper training here,” He gestured to the rest of his body. “I can handle myself, but I don’t think I’d hold up proper against someone like you who actually has skilled experience. If it’ll make you feel better to beat my ass though~,” He chimed cheerfully, giving her two thumbs up.

Myut preferred to avoid altercations wherever possible, normally finding that he could talk or haggle his way out of a bad situation. That wasn’t to say he hadn’t run into the occasional bear or disgruntled demon, though.


“Ah, I see; I’ll take a raincheck, then. You think Cyr knows how to fight?” She asked cheerfully as she joined him at his side once more, finishing up a little bit of final organizing here and there before looking over everything scrutinizingly. Meu shrugged honestly with a grin, “I don’t have the slightest clue if Cyr would be a good sparring partner.”

“I owe you one,” She said softly, beginning to replace the jewelry into its many cases.“Is there anything I can do for you?”

He was delightfully surprised when he heard her say that she owed him one. He was a little confused at first, since he had already taken the music box papers, but hey, if she was offering~.

Myut gazed pointedly at the original box she had opened - the one with the body set - eyes glimmering hopefully.

Viv followed his eyes over to the very first box, and her eyebrows arched in surprise.
“That won’t fit,” She said bluntly. “I mean, ah...do you have a petite partner back home?”

“And?” He asked cheekily without missing a beat. She tried being polite in considering another reason why he might want it, but no, he had wanted it for himself. It was shiny and gorgeous, after all. He laughed benignly. “No; I suppose you’re right-” He paused suddenly, “I wonder if Ino would fit in it?” He mused offhandedly. Myut had originally almost been tempted to respond with a joking ‘well we won’t know unless we try, right?’ but he would never risk damaging something so precious. With such meticulous and skilled craftsmanship, he wouldn’t be able to have anything resized either. That would be too much of a headache, even if he could find a crafter as skilled as the Lacerta family.

“Ino?” Viv thought about the envy for a bit. “Almost definitely, if his arms are slim enough for the bracelets. This is designed for incubi though, though the more common kind. The petite ones.”

Myut nodded with a sort of breathed laugh at Viv’s comment on the size of normal lust demons. Cyr was seriously such an oddball. Myut nodded down at his music box papers, though. “This is more than enough.”

“When we’re out of here, I’ll see if I can convince the craftsman to make you a set like that, okay? No guarantees, but I’ll check. Would you also mind blocking the door again so I can hide these?”

He blinked at her offer to try to convince the original creator of the set to make a duplicate in his size. He gave a big, shimmering grin at that. “I’ll be sure to pay nicely for it. And certainly.” He resumed his duty as door sentry, watching Viv put her things back away, and secretly taking some notes on her exceptional hiding places.

Once her stuff was all hidden, she joined Myut at the door.
“Let’s go,” She spoke with a smile. Meu ducked his head in agreement, giving a nonchalant grin as he turned out of the doorway and back into the fray side by side with Viv.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Myut Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Cyris Herron Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Vivian Lacerta Character Portrait: Amos
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【”This has to be an overreaction”】
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Vivian had just emerged from her room after changing, smoothing down the red silk, when the announcement was made. After a moment to consider it (she didn't recognise the guard, which was good for him), she turned again, heading through the doorway to Bez’s room.


Her girlfriend was still asleep, and Viv looked at her tenderly before leaning in and pressing her lips to her forehead.


"Wakey wakey~ We're being called," she murmured, sitting down beside her.

Bezabelle was deeply asleep, lips parted slightly, though they twitched up into a smile when Viv kissed her forehead. Her eyes didn't flutter at all, too determined to stay asleep. Viv's second attempt seemed to wake her a bit more, though Bez only grumbled a bit, her eyes still tightly shut.


"Calling? Who's calling?"

Viv looked even more fond, gently stroking Bezabelle’s hair. "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 but she didn't sound particularly convinced yet. She just turned onto her side for snuggles, putting her head into Viv’s lap, closing her eyes again. Rather than speaking, her voice was closer to a whine. "Or we could just be here?" She curled a bit tighter around Viv, then fully relaxed back toward slumber.

Viv's heart was melting - Bez was just far too cute.
"Come on, sweetheart." She murmured, trying to lift up the smaller woman. "We should hear what he's got to say."

She carefully propped Bez into a sitting position against her body, using one of the sheets to keep her skimpy nightwear covered away from the door. That was for her eyes only.

Once forced to sit, Bez seemed to wake up a bit more again. She laid her head on Viv's shoulder, snuggling into the taller woman. "Seems like you're more stubborn than me. Mkay, where is he? Do we have to go now?"

“Yup, right now~” Viv nuzzled Bezabelle’s hair. “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?” The pride demon took the sheet, wrapping it over Bezabelle’s shoulders. “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." Bez put her arms around Viv's shoulders. "Let's just go."

Viv turned a little pink but stood, carefully wrapping Bez up in the sheet and then a blanket for good measure. No one else was going to get an eyeful of her girlfriend's underthings if she could help it. Once Bezabelle was nice and cozy, Viv lifted her fairly easily, carrying her into the main room. She sat at the table, keeping the Gluttony in her lap so she could nuzzle her hair.

Viv’s arms tightened protectively around Bez as the accusations were read out. She was mad too - she could have explained being in that room if they’d just asked, and Bez had ‘associated with suspicious people’? That was a load of bullshit, especially with how they’d treated the gluttony. But some of the others really did sound suspicious and…

And…

Any other thoughts Vivian might have had on the matter vanished as her girlfriend stood up, shaking off the sheets. Her eyes immediately swept down, locking on Bez’s butt as she strode forward.

It looked so...beautiful. So soft and curved, like an upside-down heart, wrapped invitingly in enticing lingerie and surely Bez would let her touch-

Viv had to shake her head to force herself to focus, barely catching the gist of what Bezabelle had said in the meantime. She stood up too, placing the sheets on the chair and striding forward, bowing over Bez and wrapping her arms around her.


“Do you need me here with you, sweetheart?” she murmured, low in the smaller woman’s ear, before slowly lifting her head to pin Amos with the iciest of cold glares for daring to look at her girl.

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.” Viv said softly, dropping a kiss into Bezabelle’s hair. “Be careful, love. Don’t make the guard too mad.” she stepped back though, feeling that Bez could handle herself. With a last, fond look, she quickly headed across the room.

“Cyris!” she called and headed over, catching the tail end of Cyr's sentence. He was claiming he'd never seen a cursed item… that wasn't actually improbable. It was a rare skill…or a great lie.

"Cyris." She said again, stopping them before they got into the room. The Greed slid between them, and Viv just…looked at him. This was none of his business, she wasn’t planning on hurting the much larger demon.

"I wanted to say…" this was hard, her teeth were gritting a bit, "sorry for being a sore loser yesterday. Pride demon thing. I'm sure you know what it's like." She said casually, folding her arms across her chest. "Do you, ah… want any help?" She looked between the two. "I've seen some runework before." Neither seemed to want her help, really, and Viv was prepared to apologize and slowly back away.

It was the Greed who spoke first again, though he’d changed his mind about her, to her surprise.
“It wouldn’t hurt to have another set of experienced eyes. I’ll know what’s cursed, but I can’t promise I’ll know what kind of curse it could be.”

Now Viv had to hope that she could actually identify the curse, and prove she had some kind of use beyond cockblocking the soft looks they’d been sharing.

“Don’t worry, I was just trying to be gentlemanly,” Cyris replied, his tone slightly teasingly. “Lust demon, you know how it is.” He winked, then turned his gaze back to Myut. “Let’s go,” he said, beckoning both of them into his room.

Viv laughed, a little awkward.
"I guess, yeah."

She hadn't been around many lust demons at all. Nor did she like being teased, but she didn't want to antagonise him right after apologising. So she kept herself in check, despite the difficulty, and followed the two demons into the room, taking in the looks they were giving each other. Somehow, they felt significant.

The room was fairly clean, up until the lust demon began to dump his stuff on the bed, spreading it around. When Cyr spilled his stash on the bed, Vivian's eyebrows rose. She stepped up, first picking up an intricate Ruby Cross, checking it over lightly. She found nothing that could be a rune, and laid it aside, closer to Myut, who might know better. She didn't touch anything that wasn't jewelry, sticking to her realm of expertise only. At her side, the greed worked quickly, making his way through all the non-jewelry items, and quickly picking up the slack on her end.

It was he who found it, pinching a black velvet necklace gingerly between two fingers. Viv didn’t want to touch it either, so she reached for a hairpin to manipulate it. At that moment, her hair tumbled over her shoulder, blocking her view, and she growled in frustration before turning to the lust.


"Could I borrow this?” she asked Cyr, holding up the hairpin she’d picked up.

As soon as he agreed, Viv pinned her hair expertly, then drew a different pin from the pile, using that and the cross to flip the necklace over. When she squinted and angled her head just so, she could see it. Tiny threads, black on black, stitched into the underside of the design. It must have cost a fortune, for such remarkable craftsmanship….

She was no expert, but she’d seen and worked with runes before. The first she recognized was near the clasps.


"this rune here,” she said, “basically means...unbreakable. It’s normally used to strengthen, but it’s linked with this ‘unless’ modifier, and I can’t read the rest but that’s normally used to make a piece of jewelry only one person can take off. Even if someone else is wearing it, only the owner can ‘break’ it.” she explained before leaning back over. There had to be something else… Unbreakable didn’t make a piece ‘extremely cursed’.

She finally found it, near the cluster of the most complex, interwoven runes on the piece.
“Okay, so, this one here is in the transformation family of runes. That’s all I know, they trigger transformations. I think there’s a specific one for animal, and there’s a thing you need for reversibility and- wait – ” she stared more at the rune, at the jagged edges, at the almost menacing slice of edges and how the slant represented brows furrowed in anger. “I think that might be...mutate?” she blinked a few times. “Like...80% sure that one means mutate. Which is the ‘curse’ version of transform, like, it’s harder to undo and can last longer…”

Myut had angled his head similarly to how Vivian was doing. When she pointed out the mutation inscription, the white haired demon gave a low, thoughtful hum. “Mutate would need quite the collection of instructions…”

“I bet that that’s this mess over here…” Viv poked the cluster with the hairpin, then looked up again, seeming to notice that Cyr hadn’t moved the entire time she’d been speaking. “Are you, uh, ok?”

Myut rambled a bit about history before focusing on Cyr. Viv, meanwhile picked up on the implications…if his family had given it to him, with such a complex mutation…someone was definitely trying to keep Cyr out of the way. But why, and how?

She doubted the large demon could answer, he seemed to shocked and caught off guard.


“Don’t put this on. Ever.” Myut was saying, and Viv nodded in agreement.

“Although it should be okay to handle, just don’t close the clasps - that’s what activates ‘unbreakable’ and maybe the rest of the runes too. This gem is too small to be a power source.” she said confidently, then looked between the other two demons. They needed to know for sure that it was safe, and she wanted Cyr to have at least a little reassurance…

“Avenge me!” she said, trying for playful, before pressing her finger against the surface. Nothing happened, and though she’d been pretty sure on that, she still let out a gusty sigh of relief. “Yeah, it’s fine like this. Inert.”

After a bit more conversation, she headed out, but paused beyond his door, remembering she’d wanted to talk to Myut anyway. She paused briefly but turned, catching the very tail end of Myut's gesture. She didn't approach, instead waiting for the Greed demon to come closer when he was done.

"Yes?" the tall white-haired man asked.

"What did you think of that? A little crazy, isn't it?" Viv said quietly, stepping from the door. ”I'm glad we found it. Well, you. But I wanted to ask if you had any way to tell if something is missing from someone else's collection?" As she spoke, she slowly moved towards the entrance to her own room.

“Yeah, crazy is a good word for it. No, I certainly couldn’t have figured out those runes, and knowing is half the battle.” He praised her, and the pride demon drank it up.

”Maybe I’ll get more into them. Though I don’t think I actually have the power to...power them, but it was nice to be able to help.” Her reply was...well, it was an attempt at being humble.

“If you can give me a general description of what you’ve originally brought with you, I would be able to cross check swiftly with what’s physically there. I’d need quantity or count, but if you want help dividing things up to check for yourself, I can also do that in an extremely fast and efficient manner.” Myut said about the sorting.

“I brought a lot with me and my parents did too, and now it’s all with me. Well, was. Wait a bit, can you just stand in the door?” Using Meu to block the entry, she began to retrieve the jewelry from the variety of hiding places she had found. “Sorry about this. By the way-” she paused, looking over at him. “Bez told me that Eris has an eye for shiny things, so you might want to store those high up. As she put it, if she can reach it, Eris can, and I don’t think any of us want to go toe to toe with a wrath. Who committed arson. If we’re trapped in here, it might as well be nice, right?”

Viv was getting chattier as she worked, the boxes really piling up now. “I guess I don’t really think it was you, I was caught in a place I ‘wasn’t supposed to be’ and it was a complete misunderstanding.” she even rolled her eyes, turning around as she spoke, her hands on her hips. “So I think they might be prone to overreacting. A little. Compared to some of the others. Anyway.” She waved him over. “As you can see, there’s a lot. I kind of need help checking in tiers, I suppose? So we brought jewelry to show and jewelry to trade and jewelry to gift.” She reached for one of the largest flat boxes and opened it, showing Myut what was inside.

It was a full body set of jewelry, consisting of a necklace, four bracelets, two anklets, and a belt. The pieces were all interconnected with impossibly fine chains, so tiny that at first glance, they looked to be made of golden thread. Some of the links held tiny gemstones between them, and in a few places, the golden links were made of precious stone instead. Vivian opened another box to display the pretty coronet that went with it.
“This is a display piece, to show what we’re capable of doing. We brought a few in this category and I know them all, but it’s kind of hard to sort. Is that something you can help with?”

Myut definitely appreciated the craftsmanship of the piece, which Viv appreciated in general. “Absolutely. Show me where to start.” He said.

“Okay, so there’s a few pieces in this category. There’s this, it’s a dance set. There’s a cuff with a jeweled phoenix on it. There’s a mosaic locket with really tiny gems, there’s a music box…” Viv listed off the others they were looking for, ten in all. None of them were similar at all, but what they all had in common was exquisite detail and expert craftsmanship. Every piece Vivian named had taken weeks, if not months of painstaking work to create. They were the pride of the family, and for good reason. “Let’s look for those 9 first, since they’re the most important. Then I’ll tell you about the rest. Or would you rather know now?”

“We can work on them in chunks; it’ll be more manageable that way.” The white haired demon began to take the tops off of boxes and containers to begin the search.

Viv was searching diligently too, the company making the tedious task much more pleasant. She let out a pleased sound when she uncovered the cuff bundled in with some necklaces. She carefully freed it from the chains, presenting it triumphantly, the phoenix gleaming brilliantly even in the soft light.
“This one is Da’s favourite.” she said softly, laying it aside. “Ah, I know!”

She went to her wardrobe and returned with a sheaf of papers, sorting through them.

“Here’s what they look like, this might help.” she offered Myut the stack. The first page was for a brilliant pair of earrings, while the next few detailed the music box she had mentioned. The music box had very few gems, compared to the others, but it made up for it with intricate metalwork. The very first page detailed each layer of the design, creating a vivid and detailed image of a young man overlooking the sea from a cliff. The sheet music for the song the box played was attached at the very back. Viv remembered sitting up with her Dad on late nights as he laboured over the paper thin sheets of metal, melting and remelting until each layer was perfect. She’d even helped him find the song, which Myut was now trying to hum.

”You know how to read that?” she asked. She knew how to read music in theory, but she’d rarely ever put it into practise. “It kinda goes like this-” while none of her hums were quite in tune, they were in the general vicinity of it, and the timing was more or less spot on.

“Beautiful,” Myut praised, before returning to their search. It wasn’t long before he spoke again, a sadder tone. “Well, Viv, I think we’ve got some bad news.”

The pride demon had the sinking feeling that she knew what he was going to say. “I think I know, but tell me anyway.”

“The music box is most definitely gone.” His tone turned distinctly grumpy, his fingers tapping, so Viv was surprised by his next words. “Could I keep these?” The greed asked, evidently referring to the papers he still held in one hand. “I also didn’t see the earrings you mentioned, either.”

Viv took a deep breath, seriously frustrated. “Yeah, you can keep the notes, we just might need them at some point to copy the technique, okay?” That seemed fair, but she wasn’t calming down. She was a demon of Pride, and her family had been stolen from. Her family’s hard work had been taken from them without restitution and she was pissed. In that moment she made an impulse decision, but one she instinctively felt her mother would approve of. “Better than that. If we ever find the music box, it’s yours.”

“Of course. Hell yeah,” his enthusiasm for her offer did sooth her spirit. If she understood greed demons at all, if Myut ever saw the music box, he’d raise hell to claim it.

“Let’s go through the other categories.” He was saying, seemingly in better spirits himself.

“It’s infuriating, isn’t it? We better be compensated for the losses when we get out. Did some of your things get taken too?”

She reached for another of the boxes, opening it to reveal several necklaces and pendants, held neatly in place. The necklaces were quite pretty, scrollwork holding vivid gemstones in place, rains of diamonds, and in one case, a lotus-like shape in pink. “The next group was things like this, things for trade. I don’t have notes for these, but they’re pretty, but made to appeal to as many people as possible, you know? I think my Da’s tried to trade you some of these at some point.

“There’s a lot to check, but it’s more empty boxes, empty spaces than specific items here. What’s left besides these are gifts. I think we gave away all the custom gifts, so that’s good. So the last category is going to be simple jewelry, almost like...party favours, I guess? I guess it doesn't matter if they stole those, really, except they stole them.”
she huffed.

Viv would have been scared of the Greed demon’s dark threats, but having grown up with a Wrath brother, she was mostly amused. [color][Color=#009874] “Go get’em.”
she encouraged lightly. Myut was sorting faster than she could, and she was very impressed by his speed and accuracy. Even though it was her jewelry, she almost felt like she’d just get in his way.

“You like to fight, Myu?” she asked him, focusing instead of packing away the jewelry as the Greed expertly sorted them. “I love a good spar. Might be nice to get some of that anger out too.”

And with his muscles and stature, Myut was exactly the kind of guy she lived to fight.

Myut laughed a little
“Ah, you’ll actually find me to be rather shit at fighting. I get it up here,” He tapped on his temple, “But I don’t have the proper training here,” He gestured to the rest of his body. “I can handle myself, but I don’t think I’d hold up proper against someone like you who actually has skilled experience. If it’ll make you feel better to beat my ass though~,” He chimed cheerfully, giving her two thumbs up.

“Ah, I see,” Viv was surprised, a little disappointed, but not upset. “I’ll take a rain cheque, then. You think Cyr knows how to fight?” she asked cheerfully, finishing up the sorting. She wasn’t interested in a fight with an unskilled fighter, that would definitely be too easy for how she was feeling now. Too many of the tradeable pieces were missing, and she really did want to punch something right now, but not Myut. Myut had been nice and helpful.

“I owe you one,” she said softly, beginning to replace the jewelry into its many cases. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Meu shrugged in response, “I don’t have the slightest clue if Cyr would be a good sparring partner.” He grinned over at her as she joined him at his side once more, and gazed hopefully at the box containing the dance set when she offered him a reward.

Viv followed his eyes, and her eyebrows arched in surprise.


“That won’t fit.” she said bluntly. “I mean, ah...do you have a petite partner back home?” she tried to soften the question.

“And?” He asked cheekily. “No, I suppose you’re right-” He paused. “I wonder if Ino would fit in it? This – ” he indicated the papers, “ is more than enough.”

“Ino?” Viv thought about the Envy for a bit, distracted, wondering if Myut also liked him, considering the implication of this set. Did he want it as a gift for the envy? “Almost definitely, if his arms are slim enough for the bracelets. This is designed for incubi though, though the more common kind. The petite ones.”

In this one interaction, Vivian suddenly understood why her dad found Myut frustrating - she couldn’t make sense of how he perceived value at all. But still…

“When we’re out of here, I’ll see if I can convince the craftsman to make you a set like that, okay? No guarantees, but I’ll check. Would you also mind blocking the door again so I can hide these?”

Myut gave another breathy laugh. “I’ll be sure to pay nicely for it. And certainly.”

Viv smiled back, before attending to the time consuming task of hiding all her boxes away. As she packed, she went through the logistics of recreating this set in a larger size. They’d need more gems, more gold, and Myut could probably make custom requests anyway. She got the feeling that he’d get along well with Mal. Thinking about her brother now made her sigh. She wondered how he was dealing with his situation, if his hair had turned any less cyan. She almost wished he was here too instead of the pissy wrath. He’d have been trying to make friends from the start. Mal’d try to believe the best of everyone here…

Once the jewelry was hidden, Viv joined Myut at the door.
“Let’s go,” she said with a smile.

Meu ducked his head in agreement, giving a nonchalant grin as he turned out of the doorway and back into the fray side by side with Viv.

Viv immediately had to hurry to check on Bezabelle, who had been fighting with the guard, but luckily, he'd targetted the little wrath demon and not her.

She had barely finished when one of the doors swung open and Ino emerged, a fluffy towel around his shoulders, saying something about a bath. Viv glanced around, then sniffed herself discreetly, but she was fine. She’d make use of it tonight, maybe.

Instead, she bid her girlfriend goodbye and headed over to the Envy. He was, based on what the guard said, one of the most dangerous here, but Viv had a little bit of a plan.

That, and she doubted he’d try anything out here.


”Ino, right? You mentioned you knew my mom, and she doesn’t talk much about her past with us, so I was wondering, if you had time, if we could talk a bit?”

The envy certainly seemed surprised by her request but he agreed readily. The two demons soon ended up on the couch, Viv sitting primly, Ino with his legs folded under him.

What he told her made Viv appreciate her parents a lot more.

Marie didn’t like to speak of her childhood, and Ino easily explained why, as well as their connection. Both had been raised by lower level demons, pride and envy respectively, and as their mothers hated each other, they used their children to compete.

It did explain her mother’s eclectic collection of skills, an apparent unending competition. Marie was a born singer (Ino claimed he was better at instruments, though he’d glanced around cagily before saying so), with an innate ability to charm and flatter. She was also good at flower arranging and sharpening weapons. She’d left home as soon as she could manage, and Ino apparently credited her with inspiring him to do the same.

They’d even worked together briefly, and Ino had witnessed the start of her parents’ courtship.

Viv had had an ulterior motive in asking Ino about her mom, but she found herself genuinely enjoying hearing the older demon speak. For a bit, she sat, both absorbing the stories and appreciating more than ever how Marie had let her play and romp until she’d hit her teenage years.


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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【"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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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: Myut Character Portrait: Bezabelle Character Portrait: Ino Cense Character Portrait: Amos Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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【"The difference between a regular attack and a sneak attack is that sneak attacks mean you have to use your inside battle cry."】
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【Leaping at a guard】
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Eris continued her prowl around the room, checking the windows, peering into the other rooms, looking for a shred of a hope of a chance that there might be some way to get out of this place short of taking a sledgehammer to the wall and busting out. Which honestly would be ideal, but she didn’t have a sledgehammer, and it didn’t seem likely that one would be provided for her demolishing pleasure. Shame.

The prowl, and it’s plodding, barefooted agitation,came to an abrupt end as movement in her peripherals caused Eris to swivel her head around, eyes fixing on the man who just materialized out of the wall. A guard. She glanced around at the others, who were also looking in his direction. They could take this puny guy, even with his sword. Eris gritted her teeth, coiling as the man began to speak.

To her surprise, however, the others merely crossed the room to sit down placidly. Where was their sense of justice? Of freedom? Of the ability of seven people to effectively gang up on one man and beat him to a pulp until he relents and releases them from their prison? Eris growled low in her throat but conceded, sitting in the back corner. Soon after, the tall woman emerged with a Bez-filled burrito of blankets. They sat in front of her, and then the guard began to speak again.

The anger that boiled up within her was somewhat counterbalanced by Val’s presence nearby, but it still burned white-hot in her chest. Arson! She’d fucking show them arson! The big white-haired one had similar objections to his accusation. Eris decided she liked that guy. He wasn’t afraid to stand up to those stupid guards who didn’t know their head from their asses. Especially this one, who seemed to think it was just perfectly fine to trap a bunch of demons together and put them against one another. She’d known the Prince was a scumbag before, but this proved it. Who did something like this?

After the guard finished his spiel and retreated, everyone scattered off into different rooms, which frustrated Eris even more. They could take this guy! Why weren’t they all on the same page? Thankfully, at least Bez stuck around. Unfortunately, so did Val, and she could feel him blurring her thoughts together just enough that she couldn’t quite focus in on what she wanted to do next. Nonetheless, watching Bez back the fool into a corner, both verbally and physically, amused her. This was what they often did together. Bez would set the target off kilter, and then she would sweep their feet out from under them. It was a fun game.

At some point, Eris felt the sloth’s presence diminish, then vanish entirely. Which seemed to have an effect on the guard as well, because his answers grew more and more defensive and agitated. The way he was speaking to Bez bothered her. He didn’t have the right. His smug, mocking tone, and the way he kept telling them to go away made her coil further. Finally, the frustration grew high enough that Eris couldn’t bear it anymore. The breaking free, the releasing of all that pent up energy was pleasurable enough on its own--that sensation of weightlessness as she leapt up onto the table, the sound her bare feet made as she dashed across the wooden surface, the slight give the guard’s body had as she first collided with him, before his spine seemed to realize what weight had suddenly landed on him and caused him to stumble backwards to keep his balance.

She managed to get a few good hits in before he flung her off. No bites, unfortunately. She rolled when she hit the floor, returning to her feet after a few seconds. She was used to being flung, thrown, batted, and tossed by larger demons. They often weren’t ready for the second strike. Bez’s hand landed on her before she could straighten fully.

Before she could so much as move shrug off the hand, however, it was as if a hand emerged from the stone, grabbing the guard by the collar of his uniform and yanking him backwards through the suddenly apparent door. Said door disappeared again without even a mark on the wall. Eris growled. “
I’m fine,” she said after a long moment, finally straightening now that the guard was out of sight.

Eris stood for a few moments after Bez let go of her, staring at that wall. But no one else came through the fight. Disappointing. She sighed and turned, unsure what to do with all the energy burbling inside her, anxiously seeking a way out. She wanted to punch someone. As she turned towards the fireplace again, Ino appeared, announcing a bathtub. A bathtub???? Why did they need a bathtub?

Nonetheless, Eris made a beeline for it, checking all the doors in the hall and investigating every inch of the new room for potential escape or potential weapons. Disappointed and sweaty she emerged not long after, having no luck in her search. So instead she went to work on the window by the fireplace, trying with every ounce of her strength to open the sash.

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: Amos Character Portrait: Eris Leblanc
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【"Once you've been chosen, you can't leave."】
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【Baths】
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Cyr blinked twice as he was met with the altercation in the main room.His worries slithered to the back of his mind as he watched Bez slowly advancing on the guard. The tilt of her jaw and the cant of her spine told him that she was harassing the poor demon. Behind her, the little angry one was slowly coiling up. He could only vaguely make out what they were saying, but not because their volume was lacking--his brain was still working hard to try and catch up to real life.

Suddenly, the little one vaulted onto the table and raced across, her bare feet slapping against the wood, and she leapt onto the guard, arms akimbo. For a moment, Cyr thought Bez was calling out for him, but no, she was yelling Viv’s name as the guard flung the girl from him. She rolled across the ground before hopping back to her feet. Cyr looked back towards the guard, tensing in case he decided to retaliate, but he was already being pulled backwards through the wall. Cyr blinked and looked around. What in Hell?

He watched as Viv hurried over to check on Bez, and Ino popped into the room to announce that they now had a bathtub. Bez retreated into her room. After a beat, Cyr crossed the room. He had his own worries, sure, but he still wanted to make sure his friend was alright.

Quite the altercation, huh?” he said, leaning on her doorframe.

Hm? Oh,” she replied, her hair dancing around her as she shook her head. "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 looked away, out the window.

"
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." He glanced back at her once before heading off. Val darted out from the hall, crossing into his own room. Shortly after, Myut appeared, the front of his shirt damp, sticking to his chest. Cyr raised his eyebrows slightly.

Had fun in the bath?” he teased in a low voice as he passed him, but he didn’t linger to chat. Myut knew about the necklace, and he didn’t really want to face that reality yet. As much as he liked Myut, he didn’t need to go peeling back his own vulnerabilities to him like that. Not right now. Maybe not ever. Since they probably wouldn’t see each other again after all this. Myut would be for fun and playfulness and teasing. No worries. A pleasant distraction. Right?

When he entered the large room, Eris was already in there, flitting from window to window. She ignored him, and he ignored her, slowly undressing, grabbing a towel, and stepping into the warmed water. Bathtub was an understatement. This was a pool. Cyr paddled around the circumference a few times, but there was nowhere that the floor dipped low enough for him to swim properly. He stood under the waterfall for a few minutes, enjoying the tumbling water against his back, before paddling back over to the closest wall. He was about to climb out and investigate the shelves of soaps and tinctures against the wall when Bez arrived, surveying the vast pool.

"
Oh!” She exclaimed, her voice competing with the rushing water. “This is much more than I expected. The guard said it was for good behavior, hmm? I'd bet he's regretting letting me in here, then." Her laugh echoed against the tiles.

Cyr waded over, resting his arms on the edge of the pool. "
I'm hoping they don't decide to take it back and replace it with a kiddie pool or something."

He laughed when she teased him about being too big to even fit in a kiddie pool, and then she casually undressed. Neither of them seemed particularly concerned about her modesty. Cyr pointed out the shelves of soaps, and she grabbed a few before slipping into the water beside him.

She asked about the necklace. Cyr grimaced. Better to get that out of the way early, right? He settled down beside her and sighed.

"
We did," he said, his expression turning solemn. "My...ah....betrothal necklace is apparently carrying a mutation curse?"

She looked sharply at him. "
Mutation? What kind of mutation?"

Cyr shook his head. “
No idea. They said it was pretty serious, though.

She asked if they learned anything else about it and he shrugged, telling her that once he put it on he wouldn’t be able to get it back off. "
So I guess I'm glad this happened? Otherwise I'd probably be in some pretty deep shit right now,” he added with a heavy sigh.

Bez’s voice turned speculative as she asked more questions, about his betrothed, about his parents.

My parents gave me the necklace,” he replied. “They said it was from my betrothed. I don’t even know the demon’s name.” Cyr rubbed his face with a wet hand, plastering his damp hair to his forehead. “Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t any other demon, and they just wanted to get rid of me.

Did you sign any kind of contract?” She asked after a beat. “Or even see it?

That was supposed to be today,” Cyr murmured, looking at his hands. “My parents said they were working it out.

"
Then you're right, and there's no proof either way." They sat in silence, side-by-side, for a while. Bez eventually spoke again, her voice softer against the chuckle of the water. "I don't understand. You were really just going to go through with it? Why, Cyr?" When he glanced at her, she was gazing at him with an inscrutable, pained expression, but she looked away as their eyes met.

"
It's...I...what choice did I have?” He replied, softly studying her profile. “I doubt my parents would be willing to let me lead an untethered life indefinitely."

She didn’t look back in his direction. "
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."

Cyr frowned, even though she wasn’t looking at him. "
You know I don't have the strength to take my own territory. And I'm not spending the rest of my life up on earth." He looked away, studying the rippling surface of the water again as his voice dropped. "And maybe I was hoping it might work out..." Saying it out loud, to Bez, made him feel a little ashamed. What a fool he was, wasn’t he?

"
Well, I'd trust your judgment more than theirs." He could feel her eyes on him again, and when he turned to look at her again, she grinned. "Sometimes."

He smiled a little and they both relaxed against the tiled wall of the pool. She sank lower into the water and he stretched his arm along the lip behind them. They chatted quietly, speculating about their current predicament as Bez’s petite frame slowly drifted towards his chest. As her chin dipped closer to the water, Cyr shifted to the side, letting her cheek settle against his chest instead. She seemed to hesitate for a moment, before shifting closer as well, her head against his shoulder now.

Cyr rested his cheek on the top of her head, closing his eyes. He could feel her heart and the steady warmth of her body. It comforted him. Bez was a sturdy, stable presence. Though it worried him that she seemed to shoulder so much burden on her own.

Cyr relaxed, timing his breath to hers. Since she was napping on him, it wasn’t like he could go anywhere until she woke up, after all. He would just have to rest until she did.