Warning: Some language. Violence.
Status: Incomplete, but fully outlined. Likely to be about five parts long. Shortfic, so far. *crosses fingers*
Previous: Chapter Two: Exchange Sacrifice
Part Two: The Captured King
Wednesday evening, 10:44pm
"What does it take to eliminate one human? I ask you." Kingman leaned forward, one hand resting against his knee, the other resting on the golden arm of his throne. "Do you think it should take an entire demon horde to eliminate one human, my Knight?"
Knight glanced nervously at the female demon standing at Kingman's left hand before answering. "The human was prepared for them, sire."
Kingman cast Knight a withering glare and sat back on his throne. "Do you hear that, my Queen? The human was prepared for them."
"One does wonder how that could be possible, my lord." The Queen smiled at Knight, but even he wasn't stupid enough to think that was a good sign, and her black lips parted slightly in pleasure at the fear in his eyes. "One does wonder if perhaps a mistake was made."
Knight clenched his fists, but wisely chose not to act further. The Queen stepped forward, her movements delicate and measured as she descended the dais and walked past Knight, the silver bells tied into her hair chiming with every move. She brushed a hand over his arm as she glided past him. "Fear not, my Knight. I would never cast doubt upon thee." He tensed beneath her fingers and she smiled genuinely. "No, my lord, I suspect the failure lies closer to home."
Kingman arched an elegant silver brow.
"The fire demon," she said. "I was unprepared for his strength of will. I fear I underestimated him."
"As you did the human," Kingman acknowledged.
She tipped her head to the side. "I apologize for my failure, my lord. I wonder if you will let me make it up to you?" She risked a glance over her shoulder. "I have completed the half-blood's bindings. He will be... contained, if not docile."
"I would like that very much, my Queen."
She nodded. "And, if it pleases you, I will send additional troops after the human. Ones slightly more… prepared."
Kingman narrowed his eyes. "Send the Bishop."
She turned around, the bells ringing loudly with the abrupt movement. "The Bishop – " she caught herself before she could slip. There was no need for him to know that the Bishop was dead yet. "The Bishop would not be my first choice."
"No," Kingman said dismissively. "Your first choice was slain by one miserable human. As were your second, third, fourth – need I continue, my Queen?"
"No," she said. "My lord."
He smiled briefly, a flash of silver in his translucent eyes. "I thought not. Send the Bishop to deal with the human."
She inhaled sharply, tense at the unreadable expression in his eyes.
Kingman smiled. "And bring the half-blood to me. It's time I met the opposition."
Yuusuke didn't actually remember being captured, which was unfortunate, because that would make it harder to gloss over the details when the guys showed up and asked how he could've been so stupid.
He assumed the guys would be along soon because he didn't remember them being captured and the inherent flaw in that logic was escaping him at the moment.
In any case, the room he was in currently was devoid of any sign of further life, especially angry midget fire-demons, loud idiot humans or too-fucking-serene foxes, and Yuusuke was nursing the remnants of his headache in a sullen sort of peace.
Being captured always put Yuusuke in a pissy mood.
The room looked like, well, a trophy room. Yuusuke had seen those in the grand Yakuza manors Atsuko had taken him to once or twice when he was still a kid. There they'd been filled with jewelry on display, or sculpture and paintings, sometimes both. Yomi's palace had a trophy room, Yuusuke had seen it once. Filled with the preserved carcasses and hides of what Yuusuke had willfully believed to be makai beasts. The idea that Yomi kept dead demons around nailed to his wall was too creepy for words, even considering that Yomi was pretty damn creepy all by himself.
This room was closer to the Yakuza trophy rooms; a grand, circular room lined by a dozen carved pillars and between each pillar an ornate doorway. The doors were all closed, but light shone beneath a few, and occasionally Yuusuke could hear footsteps (or loud clanging or stomping sounds that could pass for footsteps in the makai) as someone passed by.
Everything in the room was the same shade of bluish-white, like veins running through snow, or something. Marble would have been Yuusuke's best guess if they were in the human word, but in the makai anything was possible. Hell maybe they were veins. That was... really creepy, actually, he was going to stop thinking things like that.
Yuusuke was in the center of the room, suspended in some kind of cage. The bars were invisible but he could feel them when he pushed his hand out more than a foot or two in any direction, and when he sat, he could feel the thin lines of the bars (wires? Threads, almost?) pressing into him. The cage was suspended several feet above the ground, and Yuusuke entertained himself briefly by pretending he could walk on air.
Six glowing spheres, each about the size of a softball, hung in the air in various places around the room. There was no rhyme or reason to their location, but the light they gave off was the only illumination in the entire room, so Yuusuke supposed that was their main purpose.
And then there were the trophies.
Small pedestals made of the same blue-white stone, real fancy and decorative – rich people things, almost gaudy-looking in Yuusuke's opinion, with a sculpted hand that rose out of the tops of each and held whatever treasure was on display there in it's palm, curved marble talons curled around each piece like they meant to protect it from theft.
From where he sat, Yuusuke could see a ruby red pendant, a book covered in metal locks, and what looked like a giant eyeball. Yuusuke was pretty sure he'd seen it blink.
Sitting in his cage in the center of all of this, Yuusuke felt quite a lot like the newest trophy in the collection.
The door behind him opened with a groan, and Yuusuke twisted around to look over his shoulder.
The figure in the doorway was backlit by the bright light from the hallway but Yuusuke could still recognize Kurama's youko form.
"Kurama?" He pushed himself up to his knees and turned to face the youko, the thin bars of his cage pressing into his knees through his jeans. "What are you doing here, man?"
A flash of memory tugged at him. Green vines bursting out of the earth, the feeling that he wanted to run but couldn't...
The youko paused briefly, then kept walking. There was something off about the way he was moving, something less than his usual poise. Kurama tended to stride, even when he was in human form. You never doubted that he knew where he was going. But as he crossed the room he almost... staggered.
"Are you drunk?"
Feeling sluggish, tired. Something had bit him.
No. Stung him.
Kurama said nothing as he stood in front of Yuusuke's cage. It was almost as if the youko didn't even see him.
Kneeling brought him almost eye-level with Kurama, and Yuusuke tried to catch something in his friend's gaze. Maybe the cage made him invisible? "Kurama," he said again, louder this time. "Kurama!"
"He cannot hear you, Urameshi-san."
Yuusuke dragged his gaze away from Kurama's vague stare.
"I'm pleased to see you have awakened." The demon standing in the doorway looked almost fragile. He was tall and willowy, taller even than Kurama's youko form, and everything about him was white. Platinum hair that brushed the floor, skin the color of blank paper, clear, talon-like fingernails that curled slightly toward his palm. His eyes were translucent, jelly-like. Yuusuke found himself averting his gaze quickly, because eyeballs that looked like clear gelatin were really gross.
A female demon stepped into the room behind him, petite and dark-haired, her eyes and lips a greasy black. "Poor Kurama," she crooned. "His will was very strong."
"Uh-huh." Yuusuke looked back and forth between them, one hand still pressed against the invisible wall of his cage. "And who do you think you are?"
"I am the Kingman." The white demon gestured toward the female, talons stroking her cheek. She barely came up to his waist, and had to tip her head back to gaze up at him. "This is my Queen."
"Wow, royalty. If I'd've known I woulda worn clean underwear." Yuusuke planted his hands on his thighs and leaned forward, glaring out the side of his cage. "Cut the shit. What the hell are you doing to me?"
"Such a way with words," the Queen said dryly.
"A refreshing bluntness." Kingman took a few steps into the room. "My Queen's poison often causes memory loss. Tell me, Urameshi-san, do you remember how you came to be here?"
He rubbed his left shoulder absently. "You poisoned me?" Vines erupting form the dirt beneath his feet, twining around his legs, climbing his torso. He reacted too slowly, couldn't stop the vines from wrapping around his throat and squeezing.
Stinging, sharp pain all over his body. Thorns on the vines, stabbing him through his clothes. Pain like fire spread through his veins, and he had enough time to realize he'd been drugged.
Kingman caught Yuusuke's eye and smiled, small and knowing. "You haven't figured it out yet, have you?"
"Course I have." Yuusuke gazed at Kingman from beneath hooded eyes, focusing on all the different ways he'd like to bash this asshole's face in, and pleased when the demon's fingers twitched. Gotcha. "Kurama's helping you."
"Very good," Kingman said, gladly confirming Yuusuke's worst fear. "Most men are less willing to accept betrayal, but you almost seemed to expect it."
Yuusuke rolled a smirk over his lips, concentrated on the tension of the barrier before him. "Let's just say I have a pretty good idea how guys like you operate."
"You knew I'd recruit those closest to you."
"No," Yuusuke said. "I knew you'd try."
The Queen narrowed her eyes, but Kingman tipped his head to the side. "You cannot see the evidence before your own eyes, Urameshi-san?"
"I can see that something is wrong with Kurama. I could hear that bitch talking about how his will 'was strong'. I can put two and two together and at least get a round number, you jackass." Yuusuke couldn't sense youki from any of them, so unless they were very good at shielding, then his cage was somehow blocking youki.
"I hadn't been led to believe you could even count," the Queen said.
"Who have you been talking to?" Yuusuke demanded.
She smiled and licked her lips. Yuusuke made a face at the sight of her black tongue. "We've had words with a few of your friends. The human. The fire demon."
"Yeah?" Yuusuke jerked a thumb at Kurama. "They walking around here like zombies, too?"
The Queen smirked and stepped past Kingman till she stood only inches away from Yuusuke. As short as she was, he had to look down at her. "No. They're dead."
Yuusuke's fist impacted with the barrier with a force he could feel up through his shoulder, and the reiki he'd gathered in his fist cracked against the wall like blue lightning. The Queen drew in a startled breath and flinched away before she could catch herself. When she looked up at him, Yuusuke caught her gaze and leaned forward until the were almost on eye level. "You," he said shortly, biting off each word, "are a bad liar."
Kingman chuckled and the tension broke as easily as that. "He's right, my Queen."
"When I get out of here-"
"You will not," the Queen said flatly. "We are Weavers, you idiot child. Our threads can manipulate anything, even the fabric of space itself. The prison I have woven for you exists in a space between worlds."
Yuusuke had to think about that for a moment. "So... I'm in another dimension?" He made a face. "There's nothing else in here with me, is there?"
"The barrier is carefully woven," she said. "Nothing will get in or out."
"But, just to clarify," Yuusuke persisted. "I am in another dimension?"
The Queen gave him an exasperated look. "Yes. Do you understand what that means?"
"Yeah." Yuusuke sat back, let his back rest against the opposite cage wall. "Means you aren't as smart as you think you are. What did you do to Kurama?"
'Recruit' was the word Kingman had used, but where Yuusuke was from recruit usually implied that the guy you recruited wanted to be involved with the recruiter. Judging by the vacant look in Kurama's gold eyes and the unsteadiness of his movements, Yuusuke was willing to bet money the youko was being controlled. That didn't make him a 'recruit' it made him a prisoner. Yuusuke objected to that. He felt like objecting to it strenuously.
"We have ensured his cooperation," Kingman said calmly. "Threads have been woven into his muscles and bones, have been connected to the nerve centers of his brain. His every movement is an act of will on the part of my Queen."
Yuusuke stared at Kurama. "His will was strong" the Queen had said. Yuusuke knew better – Kurama's will was still strong, and he was willing to bet the bitch had to put some serious effort into controlling him. That was why Kurama's movements were off, why his gaze was so vacant. "So you seamstresses-"
"Weavers," the Queen corrected him in a tight voice.
"Right. So what you're telling me is you guys are like that freaky guy in the Curse of the Puppet Master."
He might have imagined it, but Yuusuke was pretty sure he saw a flicker of amusement in Kurama's eyes.
"Hardly." Kingman no longer sounded entertained. "Urameshi-san, perhaps you do not fully-"
"Wait, wait." Yuusuke grinned. "I can totally guess where this is going. I don't fully appreciate the gravity of my situation, right? I should realize that I'm under your control? Perhaps I should even be wondering what your devious plan is? Man, and Genkai says I watch too many movies. At least I'm not borrowing their script."
The look on Kingman's face could officially be described as annoyed. "You are an unusual challenge, Urameshi-san. But I enjoy that." He turned to leave the room, his hair a cape that dragged along behind him. "Of course, the notoriety that I will gain for being the one to finally fell 'King Urameshi' will be more than enough compensation for your frustrating behavior."
"Kurama," the Queen said. "Accompany us."
Yuusuke bit his tongue to stop himself from objecting. The bitch would probably just get a kick out of it.
Pounding footsteps echoed down the hall, filling the chamber. Yuusuke looked up as a demon burst into the room. "Kingman! It's the others – they've broken through the gate!"
Kingman tensed and Queen drew in a deep breath.
Yuusuke grinned. "Let me guess. Those two dead guys you were telling me about before aren't quite as dead as you thought."
Queen shot him a venomous glare. "My king-"
"Yes," Kingman said, without turning around. "Send Kurama to deal with them. I doubt they'll give him any trouble."
"Wait-" Yuusuke was on his feet before Kingman finished, both hands pressed against the barrier. "You little shit, leave him alone-"
"If you are very lucky, Urameshi-san, you will have company in a short while." Kingman paused in the doorway and gave Yuusuke a mocking smirk. "Are you lucky, Urameshi-san?"
The door slammed shot behind them, leaving him in the room alone.
End The Captured King
Continued in Hanging.