To Dream, To Hope, To Serve
Author: Ria ()
Disclaimer: Demon Diary belongs to Kara, Lee Yun Hee, Tokyopop and Sigongsa. No profit is being made from this � I do it all for my own entertainment (and hopefully that of others, as well).
Spoilers: General spoilers for Volumes 1 � 4. Heavy spoilers for Volume 4.
Summary: After the departure of Leeche, Eclipse finds himself having to face some difficult personal feelings. But in struggling to keep these feelings private, he finds himself questioning just how far he�s willing to go for his young master.
Author�s Notes: This chapter takes place during Volume 4, during some of the scenes and in between others. Eclipse�s POV, again. Hope you all enjoy!
To Dream, To Hope, To Serve
I lean against the balcony, frowning as I think hard. I don�t understand, I think desperately. Even if it is a world that the demon lord has formed, I should still be able to figure out whose dream� I close my eyes, letting out a heavy sigh. �but I can�t sense Master Raenef�s energy anywhere.
Meruhesae�s voice, a husky purr, curls through my mind: �The greatest gift that a servant can give his master is his trust. Master Krayon told you that this was a threat. He�s testing whether your master is worthy of you� which means he�s testing you both, Master Eclipse. You are being tested, as well.�
My frown deepens as my eyes narrow. What did that woman mean by trust? I think with not a little annoyance, folding my arms. My gaze lands on the intricate designs etched on a nearby pillar, my eyes tracing the loops, whorls and sharp corners, but I don�t really see them. Demons only rely on themselves. Even as vassals. A demon will only do what he himself wants to do. He cannot be coerced or persuaded. Can there be trust between a demon and a demon lord? Serving and being loyal isn�t the same as giving trust willingly. I am his servant, not his friend.
No matter how much I want to be� and more.
I snort, firmly pushing such nonsense to the back of my mind. �Rubbish,� I mutter dismissively. I serve, nothing more.
But still� how can I ignore everything that�s happened between us? No matter how foolish he may be sometimes, Raenef is still my master and I care for him deeply, even though it goes against everything I previously believed in. I can�t just forget what I feel for him, even if he doesn�t know anything about it.
I turn and lay my hand flat on the smooth, weathered stone of the balcony. Trust� The word hisses through my mind, almost making me shiver.
I stare out at Raenef�s domain, burdened and weary. �Is a demon capable of trust?� I wonder aloud. I know what Raenef�s answer would be, of course, but my own eludes me like a whisper on the wind.
Then Raenef�s presence suddenly reaches me and I can sense his fear and despair. His voice echoes through my mind: I�m sorry, Eclipse.
I react on pure instinct and find myself in a whirling chaos of power. Grabbing Raenef around the shoulder, I pull him to me, thrusting out a hand and yelling, �Magic Shield, circle nine!� The two powers clash, and I struggle to control the Elemental Magic coursing through my body and cope with the blinding pain from the clash of magic at the same time.
Raenef gasps, as the magic dissolves as if it had never been there and silence then falls for a few scarce moments. I glare furiously at Krayon, who stares at me with wide eyes. �Eclipse!!� he cries.
�Stop it!� Chris shouts at me, his voice high and panicked. He steps forward, yelling, �Taking the assault of the Dream World�s Demon Lord in his own realm is suicide!�
A growl from Krayon reverts all my attention back to him. He cups his hands, glaring at me with pure fury as power builds between them. �Eclipse, you dare block my attack?� he snarls, as power scorches towards Raenef and me again.
My shield manages to hold, but barely, and agony courses through me. It�s too much this time � I can�t control everything. I hear Raenef�s panicked cry, just as my shield begins to break. Power streaks towards me and blasts straight into my shoulders, with enough force to propel me backwards. I fall to the ground almost in slow motion, lying there as stabbing pain throbs through me.
The silence is broken only by Raenef�s anguished cry. I struggle to move, to let him know I�m all right, but it�s so difficult� the pain, I haven�t felt anything like it since the war�
�E-Eclipse?� Raenef stammers, sounding heartbreakingly terrified. I have to move, so he�ll know that I�m fine�
It�s with a tremendous effort that I struggle to lift my head, my arm trembling as it attempts to support my weight. My other arm immediately goes to the worst of my wounds. As blood clings to my hand, I let out a groan.
�Eclipse!!� Raenef cries, staggering towards me. He kneels down and places a hand on my back. �Are you hurt?� he asks anxiously. A foolish question, I think with mild irritation, before I realise that he can�t see the blood properly on my dark robe, just moments before he actually does. �Eclipse!� he gasps. �You�re bleeding.�
The shield staved off the final blow, I think to myself, glancing at my shoulder while trying not to think about how close to death I just came. But I have to reassure Raenef, otherwise the gods only know what he�ll get into his head. �I�m� I�ll be okay.� It�s a weak reassurance, hardly going to convince him, but it�s all I can think of to say.
I haul myself up to a sitting position, inwardly wincing. I�ve been through worse pain than this � though I can�t quite recall it now. I can deal with this, I can. Raenef is safe� that�s all that matters. �So long as you are safe,� I tell him firmly, enforcing my thoughts.
I serve, after all.
�What�s that, you say?� Krayon�s voice is cold to the point of worry. I can�t recall ever hearing it sound like that before. �I don�t believe it.�
Raenef and I stare at him, as my stomach tightens and I mentally prepare myself. Krayon doesn�t like being made a fool of and he dislikes not getting what he wants even more, and I�ve inadvertently caused him to experience both.
The ground around Krayon starts to shake and crack, a physical manifestation of his emotions. �Eclipse, protecting a Demon Lord to the point of self-injury. The demon world would laugh at such behaviour.� I say nothing in response to this; most unfortunately he speaks the truth. Light blooms around his trembling hands. �The child you serve is a joke in and of himself� but you risk your life to save him?� Krayon demands.
�His energy is building,� Erutis yells, pointing out a fact that was rather obvious.
Krayon�s eyes are devoid of all emotion. �And � in your insolence � you block my attack.�
Power explodes around him in a cyclone, rock and dirt spinning around him. Krayon chuckles dryly. �I wonder� can you do it again?�
I stare, aghast, knowing that this is different from what he attacked me with earlier. And if I couldn�t properly defend myself last time�
�En garde!� Krayon screams, as a maelstrom of power hurdles towards me with devastating intensity.
�what about Raenef?
Even as Raenef yells, �No!!� I throw up my shield, but I already know that it�s ineffective. I can�t let Raenef die because of Krayon�s jealousy and pride � I won�t. It�s my job to protect him� it�s my duty � because I love him. What happens to me is irrelevant.
Which is why I grit my teeth and mutter, �Go,� directing all my attention towards Raenef. The look of shock and betrayal on his face as he disappears cuts a deep wound, but he is safe for the moment and that is all that matters.
My shield shatters completely and the maelstrom of magic engulfs me. I accept the inevitable, hoping I�m prepared for death, when suddenly everything is suspended in an eerie quiet�
�then I open my eyes as rocks fall gently to the ground around me, not even having touched me. I stare at Krayon in surprise and disbelief. I know him; there is no reason for him not having destroyed me. �The magic� gone,� I say, almost in a daze.
�What happened?� Chris demands, looking shaken and relieved at the same time. �The magic disappeared all of a sudden.�
�Eclipse, are you all right?� Erutis shouts, sounding every bit as shaken as Chris.
I glance at her, then realise that I can�t see Raenef near her or Chris. All thoughts of my injuries and near-death flee my mind, as I reply, �Yes! Where is Master Raenef?� What if Krayon stopped his attack to secretly do something to Raenef? It would be just like him, why didn�t I remember that? What if �
Raenef slamming into me cuts off my thoughts. I stagger, my thoughts overwhelmed by the fact that he seems intent on hugging the life out of me. I stare at him as he clings to me, his eyes squeezed shut as his arms wrap tightly around my waist. For a moment, I think he�s injured or crying and so ask anxiously, �Master Raenef?� Then he lets out a heavy, shuddering sigh, his face white-pale, and I relax.
I wrap an arm around him and hug back, murmuring, �Master Raenef, everything is all right now.� And it is, because we�re both alive and he�s safe and uninjured. I hold him close to me, inwardly delighted that he�s hugging me, since this is possibly the only time I�ll be able to hold him like this without feeling guilty. �I�m pleased that you are safe,� I tell him softly.
We stay like that until Krayon says my name. We break apart, as I look at Krayon with a less than friendly expression. My right shoulder throbs and I press my hand against it.
Krayon looks unnaturally subdued and� spooked? I frown, but merely listen as he speaks. �I will return you all to your world� though I do not believe this child to be your worthy master,� he adds, folding his arms as some of his usual arrogant expression surfaces once more. �If at any time you wish to join me � I will accept you.�
I resist the urge to heave a sigh, thinking, Some things just never change. Instead, I manage to remember protocol and answer politely, �Thank you.�
Krayon sighs. �Then, as you wish.�
I finally allow myself to relax when we appear back in our own world. I ignore Chris and Erutis as they bicker, instead turning to Raenef. �We are home, Master Raenef.� I smile slightly. �Wouldn�t you agree that this world is preferable to another demon lord�s realm?� I enquire.
He stares around at his home for a moment, his face thoughtful. Then he replies quietly, �Yes.� He smiles faintly at me, a sad pensive smile, and I realise that he�s older now than when Krayon first arrived.
I smile back at him.
My young master has gone deeper into the castle, hiding somewhere in a wish for some private time. It�s clear why � when I showed him the summons to the Order of Demons, it was difficult to ignore his face paling to a death shade. Having to face the other demons once again terrifies him, I�m positive of it, though he refuses to admit it for fear of an admonishment from me. In some ways, though not the correct ones, he�s learning at last.
I sigh and close my eyes, pushing away the pieces of parchment before me. Propping my elbows on the table, I cradle my face in my hands and rub my eyes slowly. For the first time in centuries, I feel so incurably old. I�ve never felt the full weight of my years before, but now it feels like it�s dragging me down into complete darkness and despair.
In all my years of serving, I�ve had an impeccable record. No one � no one! � has ever found fault with me or my methods. Hah, look at the lengths Krayon was willing to go for me to serve him! Though he should have known better than to expect me to serve him; he knows that my true loyalty is to the Demon Lord Raenef, whichever one currently rules. Knowing that Raenef the Fifth was being searched for, Krayon was hoping for the impossible.
I cannot argue with Krayon�s methods for trying to claim my services � he was well within his rights to try, at least, even though he knew he was blatantly enraging me. But then, Krayon is a typical demon in that only his concerns are foremost in his mind. Completely unlike my young master, who has currently disappeared from all of us.
A mirthless laugh rises from my throat, bubbling to my lips with a partially hysterical edge. The conflict with Krayon has proved one invaluable thing, however: I would do anything to ensure Raenef�s safety and well-being. Anything. The thought is vaguely frightening, not only because it goes against everything I�ve ever believed in, but because� soon it�s going to be too difficult to hide what I feel for him. And when that happens, everything Krayon has just done will pale in significance to Raenef realising how I feel about him.
My laugh is completely hysterical, now. Gods, I�ve never succumbed to hysterics before! I just don�t. Of course, my being Raenef�s tutor probably means this is a delayed reaction that�s now spilling over. Really, I�d thought my limited sanity would snap long before now. It still doesn�t make it proper, but there�s not much I can do except try and calm down, however impossible that seems.
I drag my hands down my face, letting another sigh burst from me. I trust Raenef, perhaps almost as much as he trusts me. I trust him. The thought should be horrifying, except it fills me with a delight almost as childish as Raenef�s. I groan, realising I�m slowly going mad.
For one heart-stopping moment I think it�s Raenef, and my head jerks up. But it�s Erutis who�s staring at me, looking slightly worried. I struggle not to let my disappointment show on my face. �Yes?�
She stares at me for several heartbeats, before asking hesitantly, �Are you all right?� I gaze flatly at her and she blushes before she can help herself. �Stupid question, I know, but I didn�t know what else to say!�
I steeple my fingers. �No, Erutis, I�m not all right.�
�Well, obviously,� she mutters, gazing at me intently. �You�re really worried about Raenef going to that Order thing, aren�t you?�
I shrug; even though it�s Erutis, I really don�t want to admit my insecurity regarding my young master. �I have faith that he� won�t be as bad as last time.�
�You mean, you hope that he won�t be such an embarrassment to you this time,� Erutis says shrewdly. I glare at her, and she only faces my expression for a few seconds before looking away. �Sorry,� she mutters reluctantly.
�No, you�re not,� I retort.
She smiles and nods earnestly.
�So,� she says, casually propelling herself up onto my desk so she can face me as she talks. I fold my arms and glare again, but this time she appears to take no notice. �You really care about him, don�t you, even though you refuse to admit it?�
�What?� I stare at her, completely astonished; that had been the last question I�d ever expected her to ask. �What do you mean?� I try and convince myself that the rather hard thumping of my heart is from her question, not from the implied meaning of it.
Erutis huffs and folds her arms, raising an eyebrow in what she obviously intends to be a patronizing expression. I reply by folding my arms and glaring. Neither of us back down and then I hold out one hand, palm up. A flame blossoms in it and she pales, gulping hard. Obviously remembering what happened to Chris, she resumes her normal expression and tries a different tactic.
�It�s obvious that you care about him, Eclipse,� she tells me firmly, �and a lot deeper than you let on.� Her voice has a stubborn edge and I realise that she�s probably not going to let this go. Chris isn�t with her, something I�m extremely thankful for. Dealing with one of them at a time is difficult enough; two at the same time is something akin to torture. Mortals.
I raise an eyebrow, deciding to go for the option of deliberate misinterpretation. �Of course I care about him, Erutis.� I wait for the expression of surprised delight to appear on her face, before I add, �Raenef is my master; I�m supposed to care for him.�
Erutis snarls and utters a suppressed scream. �That�s not what I mean and you know it! I�m not blind, Eclipse! I saw how you almost got yourself killed protecting Raenef; I saw your face when he hugged you. You try to hide it, but I can see that you care for him, but you�re also terrified of him ever finding out. And yes, I know you�d never admit that!�
My glare deepens, even as panic starts crawling up my throat, and something in my expression makes her pale. �Why don�t you tell him?� she asks softly, trying another approach. �You know he won�t despise you for it � he�s Raenef, after all!�
I let out a sharp, abrupt bark of laughter. �I never realised you were so foolish, Erutis. Have you forgotten that Raenef�s not yet even sixteen? Counting his age alone, my feelings are improper. But more importantly, he is my master and the way I feel for him is against everything I once believed in! I have to forget about these feelings and ensure Raenef never knows about them!�
She stares at me for a moment, her face serious and reflective, and then she says quietly, �So you do care for him.� A pause and then she adds, �I think you even love him.�
I freeze and stare at her, aware that horror floods my face and not really caring.
She gasps, her eyes widening. �Oh no.�
That�s one way of putting it.
Neither of us says anything for the next few moments, but the silence isn�t uncomfortable, merely one of contemplation. �I guess telling him isn�t such a good idea,� Erutis eventually remarks. I snort, but hold my tongue for the moment. She sounds reasonably intelligent for the time being; it would be a sham for her to lose her temper so soon and revert back to her usual self.
�He is rather young,� she continues, her eyes clouded in thought. �It would be strange enough for him to be told that you care about him more than just as his tutor, never mind that you love him. And what if he figured it out for himself? Then you�d really have a mess.�
I wince. Curse her for being logical and reasonable.
�But,� she says firmly, looking at me directly, �I don�t think you should stop. Raenef looks on you as the most stable figure in his life. He depends on you � the way he acted when he thought Krayon killed you proves that. You can�t just become cold and distant; he�ll realise something has changed.�
I groan and rub my forehead. When had everything become so complicated? �So what do you suggest I do?� I ask sarcastically. The way she�s acting is strenuously reminding me of why I detest humans so much.
Erutis shrugs. �Keep on loving him as you do now. You might have the chance to tell him, or you mightn�t. But never stop loving him until the day you look at him and only feel hate.� A pause and then she grins. �Or something.�
I try not to let her hear the strangled sound emitting from my throat, but don�t quite succeed. She laughs openly now, her eyes crinkling up. �Poor Eclipse,� she teases. �You never imagined a kind and friendly Demon Lord could capture your heart, did you?�
I try and make my snarled reply frightening, but it only sounds despairing. Her laughter grows louder. Then she quietens and looks at me speculatively. I raise an eyebrow and stare back at her. �What?�
�I think Raenef needs you now,� she remarks softly. Something flickers in her eyes, but it�s gone too quickly for me to recognise. �Meeting with the other demons frightens him.�
I sigh. �I know.�
�He needs his tutor to encourage him and have faith in him.� When I continue to look at her, Erutis growls and snaps, �Find him and talk, you idiot!�
I bristle at the insult, but rise and start towards the door. Then I stop and turn to look at her.
�Thank you,� I saw formally after a few moments.
She smiles crookedly and shrugs. �Someone had to knock sense into you. Figuratively speaking, of course.�
I storm off, muttering impolite things about a certain knight who considers herself to be a matchmaker.
I track Raenef�s energy to a remote library � a favourite haunt of the previous Lord Raenef, I remember suddenly � and stand outside for a moment, dithering over what to do. How can I still be his mentor when I feel for him in a way a mentor definitely should not? I sigh. This can�t work.
Then a light bursts through the cracks on the door and I start, my eyes widening. I don�t stop to think, flinging open the door and rushing in. �Master Raenef?�
He stands in the centre of the library, a breeze that shouldn�t be there caressing his hair and clothes. His eyes are half-lidded and almost sleepy-looking. I stop for a moment, staring, before rushing forward with a hand outstretched. �Master Raenef, what�?�
He wrenches his arm away from my hand, his eyes darkening with rage. He stares at me in disgust, his mouth curled in a sneer. �Such disrespect,� he whispers in a dangerously soft voice. �How dare you barge in on me?�
I stare at him in shock, as he whirls away from me and stalks out of the library. I stare blankly at the floor, my thoughts racing. His manner was so like the previous Raenef that for a moment it had felt like I was back in time. But� no� he is the current Raenef, a loveable, exasperating Demon Lord who I�ve slowly grown to love. Not my previous master.
Something� He is different. I wonder what happened, I wonder, trying not to worry at his sudden change and not succeeding. I can�t ignore the part of me that thinks something has just gone terribly wrong.
For the first time since he came to the Raenef Castle, Raenef is actually sitting in his throne. I don�t find this at all comforting. I stand in the shadows by the doorway, ignoring Erutis and Chris� hushed conversation and the furtive looks they toss towards Raenef, instead concentrating on my young master. He seems� pleased at their discomfort.
What is going on?
I gather my courage and approach him. �Master Raenef,� I say quietly, �since we will be departing for the demon world tomorrow�� I pause, then reluctantly continue. �Might I suggest you turn in early?�
The expression on his face is one of barely-suppressed fury and I feel my eyes widen fractionally before I can help myself. He rises from his throne and turns away from me. �Don�t tell me what to do,� he snaps, the venom in his voice slashing through me. �Such impudence,� he remarks in a deadly voice, before disappearing.
I stare at the stop he stood in, hardly able to believe what I�ve just seen and heard. His manner is like the previous Raenef, but not completely the same. While my previous master had been cold and distant at times, he had never been blatantly rude or disregarded my advice so readily.
I let out a frustrated noise. Why is he behaving so differently?
Footsteps approach and then Erutis says slowly, �Look on the positive side, Eclipse. Isn�t he behaving like a true demon lord?�
I stare at her, trying to digest her words. Yes, he is, I realise. However� I don�t like it. The thought stuns me, since for so long I would have done anything for Raenef to act like a proper demon lord. Blast it, I�ve gotten used to Raenef, I realise. But now� now�
�Anyways,� Chris says as he comes up, �what�s eating Raenef?� He looks politely puzzled and more than a little irritated by his strange new manner. I can�t say he�s the only one.
Erutis cups her chin thoughtfully. �I don�t know,� she replies. �But I�m not convinced it�s a bad idea.�
Chris glances at her, surprised. �What do you mean?�
She looks at me. �He�ll fit right in at that demon lord meeting tomorrow,� she points out, obviously trying to be helpful and positive. �He�s acting more like a demon lord now than ever before.�
I stare at her, unable to respond. I try and ignore the feeling that something has gone very, very wrong. Raenef is acting like a demon lord now, that is true, but� it�s not right. It�s not right that he�s changed so suddenly and for no apparent reason.
My eyes narrow. What has happened?
I stare at the letter in my hands, trying to quell the sudden, uneasy feeling in my stomach. If Raenef finds out about this� I have to find a subtle way of bringing it up, somehow� My thoughts race frantically as I try and come up with the best solution. Raenef is a lot harder to address since his change; I can�t just go up and tell him anymore, as I previously would have done. How have I forgotten protocol so quickly?
�Eclipse, is that a letter?�
Erutis bends over me, a hand placed casually on my shoulder as she peers at the sheet of parchment in my hand.
I slide my eyes over to her, vexed. �If at all possible, don�t stand over me.� I never was one to allow people to read over my shoulder.
She glares at me, brightens, then snatches the sheet out of my grasp. �Let me see it.� I blink, astonished; no demon would have ever dared to do such a thing to me, yet a mortal does it without a qualm.
I�m losing my touch.
Erutis stares at the parchment with widening eyes. �This says� the Summons to the Order is cancelled.
Chris comes running. �Let me see,� he orders.
She twitches. �Stop touching me.�
I snort in the background. Hypocrite.
�The elders are meeting by themselves? No need to come? Does that mean Raenef doesn�t have to go?� He and Erutis look distinctly uneasy.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Raenef approach, and freeze.
�I think so,� Erutis replies.
Raenef�s face darkens.
Chris scratches his head thoughtfully. �Do you feel a hole burning into your back?� he remarks absently.
Raenef snaps the parchment out of their hands and scans it quickly, his expression rapidly darkening even further. �No need to come, eh?� he murmurs.
�They�ll do as they please, will they?� he continues in that deadly quiet tone. His hand trembles as it clenches the parchment, which suddenly bursts into flames. �How dare they?� he snarls. Then he laughs � cackles, more like. �I�m going to their little party.�
Chris and Erutis blanch. I jerk out of my silence and step forward. �Master Raenef!!� I cry, reaching a hand towards him and then letting it drop as I remember myself.
He glances towards me dismissively. �Are you planning to stop me?� he asks coolly, making it blatantly obvious that he doesn�t intend on taking my advice.
I take a deep breath and speak anyway, hoping desperately that he�ll understand. �If the elder demon lords have decided to hold a meeting by themselves, appearing uninvited would be the same as a declaration of war,� I explain as calmly as possible.
Raenef scoffs. �So?� His eyes are incredibly cold, like sharp evergreen glaciers. �Do you question your master?� he asks me, his tone implying that I�m currently on very thin ice that�s rapidly cracking.
I gasp softly, staring at him in disbelief. I have no answer for him.
He casts me one more baleful glance, then immediately disappears.
It�s Erutis who decides to break the stunned silence that follows. �Eclipse,� she says as she comes towards me, her expression serious with no trace of humour in it. �Raenef�s sudden change is suspicious. I�m afraid that he might ��
I cut her off, my voice deadly and soft. �I assure you� I am going to find out what�s behind this.� I absently brush my bangs back as I speak, thinking hard. Something has changed in Raenef, something that�s affected the very essence of who he is. I love him, fool that I am, but now he is not the Raenef that I gradually fell for. And that matters more than anything.
When I first found Raenef, I wished that more than anything he would act like a proper Demon Lord. Now I realise that I had no idea what I was wishing for. I grew so used to Raenef�s pleasant personality that I never realised what him acing like a true Demon Lord would mean.
I am his servant. I serve him, and will serve him until the day he dies. I do it well, as that is my duty and what is expected of me.
I am his servant. I am not his slave.
� End Servant �