Forsaken Qualms

Not All is What It Seems


Barsburg Church, 7th District, 5th March, 9:36 PM

The night was young and so was it beautiful. ‘Twas the spell for the moon is at its fullest.

The large disc that hung in the sky shows a manifestation. A manifestation of both light and dark; at times illumining the shadowy entity that was darkness, and at times shrouding the bright influence that was light. Secrets were hidden behind blankets of clouds and fogs, yet with unremitting treachery these covers easily expose it bare. Slips away and expose the moon its secrets: Secrecy ends tonight.

Over at the upper open corridors there stood three figures observing a Teito Klein undergo his training under the natural lighting of the moon. He was a subject of interest, little did the brunet knew. A bespectacled bishop appears to be supervising him. Knows close to little their unwelcomed presence; pretending most likely by the gist of it.

Two younger figures were acolytes, or so it would seemed, while the other, taller and slightly older amongst them, wore the traditional Bishop’s clothing. There was nothing unusual about it, yes. Yet the air denote nothing but suspicious about these individuals despite their blend into the district’s yearly event.

“Kuroyuri-sama,” voiced the guise of a supposedly Bishop, “isn’t this our chance?” For a trained fighter, his skills weren’t all that impressive.

Their target was at his second attempt of training. A rail of zaiphon was created for which on he shall run. Maintaining a shield was vital in this simple exercise; fail to do so triggers flying off at a distance of no more than two metres. To which he constantly fall. Aiding his progress were life-sized dolls. Living and manipulated, identical to one another, dolls.

The smaller acolyte, pink haired with a distinctive eye patch covering the right eye, was silent as he watched on. “He has too many bodyguards,” was the eventual reply. Seven of each doll surrounded Teito whilst he ran. Like a charm protecting its ward, it was… superstitious. Overprotective. Troublesome. “Impatience only begets failure, Haruse.”

No words were exchange as a draft of cold wind passed by, the wind carrying their scent. Leaving the scene was in order.

“You.” The other acolyte was addressed as such by the child. He hadn’t pulled his gaze, a hint of familiarity glazed through, from their target. “Don’t just stand there. There’s no love lost between the two of you. You should realize that by now, Toshiro.”

He stood there, unmoved. It took nearly a minute before he broke his deliberate trance. “I know.” It was barely a whisper, raspy and dry. The blond cast one final look and followed the pair into an engulfing dark mass.

Precarious.

It was precarious, unstable, unknown. He didn’t like the unknown very much, didn’t like precarious situations more. He hesitated but nevertheless took a step forward. There was a swirl – as though it was sucking them and contorting them into one small-sized space – and the three disappear. Leaving only a single droplet ripple upon the marbled floor that too vanished into thin air.

The domain within the black sphere was dark, a stark darkness. Dark, cold and dark again. Hatred, fear and hunger rule this realm. It was otherworldly, it was foreign. It resembled the loss of humanity. Or at least what used to be their abandoned humanity. Shadow-like tendrils were lashing out, arm-like claws wanting to grab a hold of rapped, jaws of man and fiend nipping and snapping wildly. But none of that could vie such deep sorrow and sadness.

No one could ignore this. No human being could ignore this misfortune.

Oh but monsters are attracted to this, attracted by their misfortune. Monsters feed. Monster feed from this tribulation of sufferings.

Alas these entities are no monsters. Oh no. Monsters these entities they are not.

These are Wars – the aftermath of those creating a pact with a Kor. These demonic messengers devour a person’s soul, residing in their body then in exchange for granting three wishes. Once fulfilling their end of the bargain, there is no turning back. They cannot be saved, the person considered dead at that point on. Their souls know no rapture or release, in a state of purgatory, unless purified. Only through purification can they be saved. Either remain corrupted or be destroyed, the ultimatum is inevitable.

Hand it over! Hand over your soul!

The voice of Wars was a deep and anguish voice, scratching through the space in crazed unity. They could smell it… the chaste innocence. They could smell it. The mass began to gather. Gather around their sweet, sweet, human trespasser.

Want his soul… Command us and take his soul from him, master. Give us his soul!

Taunts and provocative words were slung throughout the whole teleportation processes. Foreboding fear and dread meant to overwhelm and induce was planted inside the vulnerable humane mind. Wars want sympathy. They want to draw negative thoughts and feed off from that negativity, similar to funguses growing on mouldy bread. Growing and growing, becoming stronger and stronger, then finally consume their rich reserve when it served its purpose no longer.

Yet, somehow, the Wars were held back from corrupting this child of man; His essence.

“Are you afraid?” Kuroyuri’s cheeky voice broke through. Large pink, almost cerise, slit pupil held an impression of a true predator as he eyed the blond. “Well, you should be.”

The black miasma was starting to get thicker. Their jeers persisted, encouraging and cajoling their master to embrace the flow of the moment; to give in and utter those simple words and command them, to end this human life and made him as one of them.

“I could kill you now, you know. Right here, right now. This instant.” The used baritone was dangerous, a dark promise. “What you did to Katsuragi’s cookies is unforgivable! I’ll wrench out your soul and feed it to my Wars. I could make it painful and agonizing, but I assure you; it’ll be quick you won’t feel a thing. And no one will ever know.”

“Except for Ayanami-sama, Haruse-san and I.” Toshiro’s reply is matter-of-fact. The absurd accusation on whim made no effect. Childish; could easily be countered if he chose to do so. “Wars should not harm me, at least for the time being.”

There was silence, and with the silence came scrutiny. Kuroyuri studied their human company. The way it was being said is almost too funny for words. Yet true to some extent, in a sense.

The younger tched. “…You’re pretty bold for a lower. If it weren’t for Ayanami-sama’s order to escort you, I’d definitely break you like there’s no tomorrow. Be glad.” A crack of light enters the sphere then before slits appear in all direction – the ill-will relent their advances and withdraws from whence they came – and burst open. “This is as far as we go.”

A bob of the head once suggesting understanding, Toshiro stepped out of the circle. The mass hadn’t diminished at the step over; eddy under Kuroyuri’s and Haruse’s feet instead. He was silent and wary, but he let not show his discomfiture. He faced them head on.

“Well, we’ll contact you when it’s time. Don’t get yourself into trouble now, Toshiro. See ya!” Once more there was a swirl of darkness and they disappear, the order left subtle to linger in the air.

Toshiro let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. For some reason he doesn’t trust Kuroyuri’s sudden nonchalance. While Haruse’s meek demeanour, undoubtedly polite, makes up for the pinket’s smugness, communication has proved to be difficult. But knowing the truth about them further challenges his comfort zone. For the military’s special unit, the Black Hawks, are those bad seeds of evil people often spoken of. They are Warsfeil – magicians rumoured to be tainted by Verloren directly.

Warsfeil, the accursed ones blinded by greed who sold their souls. Warsfeil, aggressive and murderous creatures in the form of a humanoid; a creature fuelled with hostility. Warsfeil, they looked so much like humans that it was hard to remember that they weren’t.

The crimson hue of the chief’s zaiphon was the first warning. It always has been at the very start. Kuroyuri’s disdain upon him the second, while Hyuuga’s treacherous leer the third. These signs were in plain sight. And Toshiro was a fool to notice their kinds too late despite himself.

The merciless annihilation of sklaves… The so called “cleanup mission”...

He had become too ignorant to accept them as such beings. He reject other’s truth of them, he deny the reality: Warsfeil have the ability to crush souls, turning them into wars – as a weapon of an unthinking, cold entity; as expendable, disposable tools – and never allowing it to enter Heaven, never to return to the embrace of the Chief.

Yet he found himself not to revile, not to despise their kind discriminately. Rather, warsfeil are unfortunate beings. Society ruled their kind as bad, repulsive and baleful; not the person as a whole. People keep their distances away from the unknown, drawing out silly conclusions without justifications, despising things that never could be explained to them. So they blindly fear and loathe warsfeil.

There were risks for the military to infiltrate the church, even higher risks if their officials happen to be warsfeil. After all, warsfeil compensate their sins by the means of death according to the laws regulated within the walls of this district. But, how great a sin did their past lives committed that their reincarnation deserves such fate? It’s cruel and unfair. It’s sad.

The structure of Barsburg Church is rather complex, Toshiro considered, a monastery compare to the cathedral in his home town. Each part of the buildings, halls and towers differs from one to another. Judging from the alignment of doors next to each other, he seemed to be in some sort of dormitory.

Toshiro looked around his surroundings and stood there like a pillar. “…What now?” He was supposed to be an applicant. Does that mean he should act like one?

Suddenly there were footsteps. Around the corner Toshiro saw silhouettes caused by dim orangey lighting approaching. Oh no. There was nowhere to hide within this long passageway. He considered his options: He could barge in one of the doors, but chances there it’ll be locked from the inside. Running away to implant suspicion and misunderstanding is not an option. Maybe he could-

“Oh my, what are you doing? You shouldn’t be up this late.”

Toshiro visually flinched. He turned to see three nuns, disapproval looks marring their virtuous quality.

‘Act like a fool, be the clumsy neophyte.’

“I-I’m sorry, sisters,” stuttering on purpose. He had to choose his words, putting on a social mask acceptable in the world of adults. “I did not intend for this to had have happened. I seem to have lost track of time while I was at the library.” A smile and sheepishly rubbing the back of the head was added to sell the façade.

The sisters seemed to have accepted it, their gaze softened slightly. “We understand your enthusiasm, but you mustn’t let your fervour ignore the body’s need to sleep.”

“Go to bed now,” another firmly said. “You won’t do well in tomorrow’s training at this rate. Rest and you’ll be good as new in the morning!”

“Would you like us to accompany you to your room?” offered one of the nuns.

Toshiro blinked. “Ah… well…” He readjusts his glasses, pushing them higher onto his face. “Thank you for the sentiment, but there is no need for that. I would love the company. I honestly do. Given the ungodly time at this hour, however, I rather not impose.” He looked up chance meeting the bright, luminous, silvery Luna. “The moon is quite beautiful this evening. I find that on lovely nights like this I cannot sleep. An inconvenient habit of mine.”

Looks were exchanged between the three women. He didn’t know if he was going to break curfew rules that he didn’t know whether or not was established. But he needed a distraction. If feigning gullibility was accepted, it wouldn’t be hard to convince them.

“Please, do not mind me, sisters. Taking a brief stroll tremendously helps. If it is allowed, that is. Of course, if not, I can find my way back to my room…”

By the good within their hearts, the nuns didn’t think twice to consider that. Thankfully.

Toshiro waved at the sisters a grateful smile ghosting over his features as they took their leave. Inwardly, he cringed. He wasn’t sure what to do next. Maybe he didn’t think this through. He should think this through! He was practically alone on enemy ground; unarmed, exposed, vulnerable, without backup close at hand and obviously no concrete plan. He was left on his own devices to fend for himself.

“This is difficult than what I had anticipated…”

Barsburg Church, 6th March, 1:54 PM

Aside from exploring the edifice church, the day flowed rather uneventful. He managed to get his hands on a basculus – a standard version for novices much to his chagrin. It was a bittersweet, hate comfort thing really.

Without his trusted sword to ground him rooted, he might as well be nothing and lose all bearings. Wandering off adrift, like a balloon going up and up in the atmosphere and never coming back down. When it pops, deflated and its air gone, what will happen to the balloon? Does it fall down on earth or remain buoyant in space or simply… lost?

He didn’t want that. He needed an anchor.

The truth can be distorted in many ways, may it be subtle or not. With a means of defense the odd sense of security they bring him can be established. It was an assurance, a certainty; rationality he allowed to indulge in, that he could cling on to. A weapon is the material truth he could accept, the proof that could not be forged. And Toshiro wants it to remain that way.

There was a change in Teito. It wasn’t noticeable enough but it was there nonetheless.

Teito looked… determined, a bit cheerful. Though tentative, still he was more open to human interaction. So Toshiro froze, taking in the change of an aloof Teito Klein he used to know which had become this different of a person seen by the naked eye. But he relented. Something must have happened for the brunet was laden with woe. It could be guilt from fleeing the military, Toshiro pondered, or a problem too personal he did not know.

To know so little about someone who he calls friend… that was a prospect he could not accept yet.

A furry creature is constantly at his side now. Perched on one shoulder, sometimes sneak refuge on his head. The creature seemed to take away his sadness too. He caught Teito’s smile when he was, as immoral as it sounds by his own standards but just as necessary, stalking him at the library before. It was a refreshing smile. And Teito looked better with a smile gracing his features.

He hadn’t seen Mikage however from the time he infiltrated the church. Toshiro assumed he had failed to convince Teito since the brunet is still here. He was even taking the Bishop Examination (it came to Toshiro’s attention when he saw the exam badge) to become an apprentice.

Toshiro never imagined the brunet as the religious sort. What was his reason to join the church? Was it to start a new life and take on a new identity? Or was it done to put the past behind and start anew, a new chapter? Does he actually believe he could outrun the military and shake them off his tail while assuming under false pretences?

If so, if it’s him, with Mikage none less, Teito might be able to pull it off. Becoming fugitive is far better than be brand as traitor. Besides, Toshiro doubted Mikage would dare return. He said so himself.

‘It would be nice to see the two of them together again though,’ his mind whispered fondly.

Toshiro pushed the thought deeper at the back recesses of his mind. He was in no position to ask for reunion: This is not the time or place for that. Expectations promise disappointments, while abandonment requires expectations. He will have none of that two. Not on his watch. He was here for a reason and fulfilling his mission is a top priority from here on out.

“So this is where you’ve been hiding.”

Toshiro buried his face in the bowl of edible flowers, pretending to be interested in the served food. Really, he couldn’t see himself eating them. His mind was filled with thoughts of flowers, of tunes and tones that no one seemed to understand but him, and the sound of semi-recognizable voices. Ignore them he did, still they commune with him.

Gnawing on a few he watched as a new face, an applicant, sat beside Teito. The two are roommates, if Toshiro is not mistaken. Already they appear to be familiar with one another.

“I’m not hiding,” he heard Teito said lamely. He fed the pink creature petals, nibbling on a stem himself before he spoke. Offhandedly he replied, “Just hungry, is all…”

“For someone who claims he’s hungry, you don’t eat much do you.”

Following through their exchange was a bicker. Lips curled into a small smile unfelt, Toshiro were not aware the corners of his mouth turned. It has been a while. To hear, see, Teito engage in an animated argument with others… He’s still as feisty as ever. Toshiro wasn’t sure exactly what had been said between the two though, but it was amusing from his seat across the room.

Teito made a friend, Toshiro soon realized. The banters Mikage did were enough to wind him up, and based on his lowered guard around the hair bound stranger, he had somewhat the same effect on the brunet.

He continued to watch them ignoring the growing strange feeling in his chest. Toshiro took in a few large mouthfuls of his lunch when he saw them stood. They left the refectory and he waited for a minute to allow them a head start. He got up before he finished, threw away the leftovers, and tried to hurry without stirring suspicions.

Teito within range’s view Toshiro tailed him, mindful to keep his distance away. He went past a mob of people already rushing the long corridor. He picked up his pace then, briefly losing track of brown and blond, and a little of purplish pink, as they were furthering away from him. Toshiro was about to turn to a corner tracing the two’s choice of route before a hand grab him by the shoulder.

The bespectacled blond tensed, having been caught off guard. The hold was oddly desperate as the hand forced him to turn around. Toshiro looked to see his perpetrator, completely losing visual on the subject, before he could stop himself.

It was an acolyte, a boy in his teens. His bold silvery eyes danced in recognition and mirth as he took the bespectacled blond in his hold. He caught a glimpse of equally pale blond the moment the person willed his weight against him, throwing himself and looping his arms in an embrace, burying his head in the latter’s neck with an intake of gratified breath.

“What are you –”

Shi-chan!

Toshiro froze as the two unceremoniously fell. In the fall, his glasses were knocked from its place. This is bad. He was drawing unwanted attention for himself. Distracted, the acting human cushion Toshiro with great effort pushed the stranger off. On both knees and hands he feels the floor for his glasses, baulking at how pathetic this inane performance might appear.

“You must have mistaken me for someone else,” Toshiro calmly said, quickly getting up on his feet and averting contact once he wore the frames upon his nose. He didn’t brush away the dust on his form, yet all the same retaining his displeasure towards the rude individual in the bigger picture. “My apologies, I am not what you take me for. I hope you find that person soon. Excuse me.” Toshiro scuttled off before the other could respond.

Without a moment to lose, Toshiro took a sharp turn to a corner in a final attempt to catch up. He steps up his pace, walking in long strides made difficult due to the long robe getting in the way. What he feared of losing their trail was realized. The familiar colour of dark brown and petite stature was absent from the hallway as several church members and applicants passed through.

Short breaths in huffs filled Toshiro’s ears. He cursed under his breath, a vexed sigh escapes his mouth in vain frustration. He closes his eyes and composes himself, bringing to mind the cause of this. Clearly he failed to realize stray eyes were set upon him. There was something familiar about that boy, Toshiro admitted, but he shrugged it off. It wasn’t a matter of importance. He does however need to elude himself from the shadow, whether probable or not.

As if on cue the afternoon bell rang, and Toshiro slipped into the flock of nearby aspirants.

Barsburg Church, 2:00 PM

Strangely, for the usual warm afternoon, it was rather cold. Birds were nestling in their nests, the wind ever blowing warm draught despite so. The lush grass was soft, the bushes emitting a distinct freshness, and the oak tree that stood in the middle offer a cool shade for those who seek its underlying cover.

At least for one violet eyed bearer in particular.

Resonant sound of chiming bells for afternoon mass awakens the slumbering gardener. Prayers were starting soon, but the makeshift bed that was the verdant ground felt nice under his back. “Nice and soft, nice and soft… Sleepy, cold, sleepy…” was the soothing whisper of curling vines, a lullaby to keep their precious close. Silently they dance, singing tunes and songs for the lovely Profe. It was heard and so they were appreciated.

Lacklustre violet eyes fluttered open and slowly the androgynous pretty man sat up. Stray leaves were caught in tresses the colour of lilac, ignoring the tickle of his slightly too long hair against pale cheeks and neck.

Labrador yawns away the tiredness as remainders of sleep still hung between brinks of conscious and subconscious. Listlessly he blinked his eyelids. Initially the petite bishop’s job was to water the flowers within this outer garden, trimming overgrown and wild foliage afterwards. But as one could see, unfortunately, the coldness tempted him. For lack of better words, he was sleepy.

From the distance people were passing through the archways that run down further into the foundation. A half-hearted smile adorned his features seeing pious applicants buzzing their way to the main hall for mass. He let out a yawn, basking in the comfort of the soft grass one last time before Labrador finally got up, reluctant. For a while the bishop trod back and forth with languid grace. He takes up his position and resumes the delayed task.

Whilst Labrador brought the scissors to cut, the flowers began to shift. Dance in mirth and excitement the greenery sway yet convey not their awaited one’s presence. Tiding vines crawl surreptitiously and touch their communicant; it is through this they herald their rhapsody.

“Our human friend… he has come. He is here.”

Abruptly Labrador spun at their statement. He fixed his gaze towards the intended direction. Searching orbs seeks out the human communicant but caught only a fleeting look as he slinked through, the crowd his curtain. Regardless it was enough for the psychic. Labrador stood there stunned as his eyes grew vacant, losing his hold on the gear that was dropped carelessly onto the ground.

He saw it.

He saw the boy’s soul.

Like a budding sprout his soul is uncorrupted and bright, the spirit however was old. Uncommon wisdom resides within his core; strange for someone at that relative young age. It wasn’t innate but a gift, knowledge that had been passed carried with honour and responsibility as if it was his own was rendered untapped, quiescent, for such a long time… until recently.

Worrisome slits of gray came to attention. They lurk in the shadows, twitching and growling in wait for the chance to strike. To permeate the barrier and trounce upon the delicate mentality. Only kept back by his strong fortitude, that wall is about to be breach. One crack is more than enough to let these monsters in. Unless that belief is restored.

The haze in Labrador’s eyes cleared. A frown marred his features as he was lost in his own train of thought. He understood their urgency. Clearly Labrador had to contact the boy. He must. For the sake of him, that boy must return to their side. Or he will fall, straying further out of their reach.

Labrador bent down and picked up the scissors he had unconsciously dropped, musing over the turns of events.

It seems that the boy has come for Teito as well. He poses no harm in that child’s world. The two were from the military, Labrador could tell that much. There’s a highly likely chance they knew each other. Given the circumstances at present, however, it would be in their best interest to avoid crossing paths as oppositions.

So the gardener turned to his plant friends beckoning them to come closer. He whispered his message, in hopes it will reach him.

???

They were walking back to their rooms. Albeit in the wee small hours of sleep, there was no need for lights to illuminate their way. The establishment that was the Barsburg Church was bathed in soft, silvery moonlight granting its marbled flooring a glowing sheen. Lone taps of metal and paces of different footfall accompanied the stilled twilight.

All was well… until there was an ambush.

“Hakuren!”

“Teito!”

It happened all too fast. A second ago there were just the two them. The next, an ominous entity black as night made its appearance. It lunges for Teito in its wake, but Hakuren, recklessly throwing himself into the fray, takes the blow instead. Hurled at the window, Hakuren falls. Not with Teito following after him and save his – their – imminent fall. Thrusting the bascule at the walls for friction to minimize the fall was futile, for the entity crack the staff into two.

None could defy the laws of gravity, none could escape the plummet. They were completely at the mercy of this universal force.

In the nick of time Frau clad in blue as dark as the night sky, like a shadow overseeing the innocents and the guilty, saves the pair from their dive towards death.

And then there was darkness.

“Teito, are you not sad? Shall we sing a song together as we go home?”

That voice… Ah, Teito remembers that voice. The voice of Father. The beloved person, that important someone. It was snowing and it was cold. But the smile, the smile that always played on his face… it was warm. And it made him feel warm.

“Even though ‘mom’ isn’t here, I’m not sad. Because ‘Father’ is here with me.”

Father’s smile grew wider and the child in Teito smiled too. Teito’s small hand in his gloved hand, he squeezed it gently. Their hold pleasantly so tighter than ever… never to let go until their journey end.

“You are my treasure, Teito.”

As the thickly falling and piled up snow buries them in its fragrance, they continue to walk. These memories have always been so faint and fleeting. He didn’t want to end it. He wanted to be no more but simply a child… a child that never woke up.

Having felt sunlight warms his face, jade green eyes slowly open to reality only to be greeted with a blurry figure in front. The latter likewise opening his. Few inches apart from Teito’s face, pair of purples struck him familiar before recognizing the face was human.

Hakuren.

Abruptly the two sat upwards. They were sharing a bed. In the same bed. In their night gowns. Together. That revelation was thankfully ignored once they caught sight of the room. Teito took in their surroundings, noting a large black coffin placed nearby the bed.

“Where is this?” Hakuren quietly began.

Immediately Teito’s hands started to roam over Hakuren’s collar searching for bruises or strange marks in frantic. Remembering last night’s events with wars, he fears the blond may have been tainted.

“What are you doing?” was the annoyed response, pushing Teito away by arm’s length.

Teito tussled in bed as he tried to escape Hakuren’s grip, holding a hand onto his forearm and finally throw it aside. “That’s my line!” he yelled. “You shouldn’t stay near me anymore! That guy last night was definitely aiming for me!” Hakuren nearly got hurt that night. Teito couldn’t afford to put his life in peril like that… he couldn’t bear to lose anyone anymore… Not Hakuren… “Because you protect me, you almost died!”

He stared in disbelief, blinking once, when Hakuren told him it was a conditioned reflex. “J-Just don’t do that sort of thing anymore! If Frau hadn’t rescued you, you’d be in a coffin right now!” Hakuren turned away however. “Listen!” angrily Teito bawl.

“…I don’t know what your reasons are,” said Hakuren, “but always rescuing people from darkness no matter what is a bishop’s mission.” Teito bit his tongue back, choosing to be quiet and hearing him out. He nearly jumped in surprise when Hakuren suddenly spun and point a finger at him. “That’s why I won’t run away all the more if the darkness is aiming for you.”

“Wh-what’s that supposed to mean?”

Hakuren gave an impatient sigh. “When you risked your life, the first thing you did was grab my hand. Fighting alongside someone is enough of a reason, right?” He outstretches his hand towards Teito and smiled. Warmly he said, “My comrade.”

Teito became bewildered, shocked and taken aback. It was an overwhelming feeling… to be needed, to fight together side by side. But an image of Mikage sprung into his mind when he was reminded. ‘If I lost someone again…’ Teito thought worriedly, crestfallen. ‘If I can’t protect this hand…’

Confusion was written all over Hakuren’s face at Teito’s changed demeanour. The brunet turned down his hand! The blond frown, disapproving. He didn’t have to apologize… Why would he apologize anyway? But when Hakuren saw Mikage climb up his shoulder, rubbing his cheeks against his, Teito’s spirits was somehow lifted. Hakuren smiled a bit. He couldn’t blame Teito. How naïve can one could get? He’ll let it slide just this once.

Suddenly the alarm goes off and at the same time the coffin was kicked open, revealing a familiar blond they both know. A drained Frau was slumped right away onto the floor groaning. Teito and Hakuren quickly dismounted the bed and went to the bishop’s aid, the latter practically rushing.

“This time,” Frau mumbled through the floor, “tell me your room number.” He tried to get up with the coffin’s side as his support. His forehead was burning from the aftermath of the droop but he decline Teito’s offer for ice. Instead, waving off their excessive concern, he said, “Hurry up and go to work you guys.”

Teito stared at Frau for a second before he bent down to pick up the alarm clock. “It’s already this late?” noticing the time displayed eight o’clock sharp. His eyes trailed along the clock then. “What’s with this clock?” he suddenly asked, holding it up in confusion. It had a… peculiar design. A skimpy lady in some sort of bunny suit was leaning against the clock’s frame.

Teito yelped dropping the clock out of embarrassment, not caring if it was precious to Frau or not. Part of him wanted to smash it to pieces, step on it and burn it into a crisp though.

Hakuren started to walk towards the door, informing Teito they should hurry. Before he left to follow him, Teito turned around and said his thank you to the bishop. Frau continued to lounge in the coffin however, seemingly unaware of Teito’s response.

Teito was hesitant to leave him but Hakuren already made his way out the room. He was left with a puzzling notion unasked, wondering why Frau was so tired that day.

Barsburg Church, Western Tower’s Greenhouse, 7th March, 9:17 AM

Toshiro didn’t know whether running away is the cowardly or the smartest thing to do.

Ever since he stumbled upon the clingy – immature adolescent, he consider – applicant, Toshiro had to be on his guard at all times. While the library is a secluded area, great for hiding one’s presence in the pretence of a common acolyte, it was still in the public domain. In the open. The same goes for the dining hall. It was foiling his plans in keeping a close watch on Teito. The last he has seen the brunet was after lunch yesterday.

Apparently, as claimed, he’s his brother. A twin sibling. There were similarities here and there. In fact, that person reminded Toshiro too much of the people from the past. He disregarded the claim of course.

In spite of this still that boy accosts the bespectacled blond. Toshiro feared the worst will come the more he interacts with him, guilt being the damage. He would not allow emotions get the best of him. Even so… no one knew that calling. The only person, who knew, who he would tolerate, was mother. Despite resenting his decision of leaving the faith they held so strongly, still she supported him. That sword her token.

But mother being here is out of the question. The family needed her back at home. The other person Toshiro could think of is…

‘No. Father should have had him applied early. Did he fail?’

It would be mere coincidence that boy could be him. It was impossible, inconceivable. And yet, Toshiro knew there is no such thing as coincidences.

In any event if this keeps up, not only will his cover be blown, he might jeopardize the mission and put both Mikage and Teito in danger. Possibly his life as well. The Black Hawks are not one to be trifled with, their leader above all.

Passing through several halls and towers, Toshiro ended up in this open section within the church. His sense of direction is still bad unfortunately, but for some odd reason his being was drawn here. Pulling him… wanting him to come here.

Judging by the glassed structure the place appears to be some sort of greenhouse. To show, various breeds of flowers were found and grown. Some he recognize by heart. Toshiro walked around taking in the landscape. He smiled wistfully, his hand ghosting over the patches and shrubs of greenery, whilst he walked forward.

The flowers are nicely maintained, Toshiro couldn’t help but remarked, with healthy tones and vibrant colours to attest. A sublime garden that could actually breathe life itself. Many mysteries of the world he was sceptic to believe its existence. But nature… Nature is one wonders he very much appreciates.

Before long Toshiro reaches the centre of the garden. There, an old oak tree was planted. It was at its prime, standing there majestically with rich green leaves at its top in the same way as an embellished crown worn for a king.

Toshiro halted once he faced the tree. He stared up, trying to comprehend this proud plant life. The symbol of strength indeed the oak tree is with its many branches and the vast depth of its stalk and strong protruded vein-like roots. Naturally with age comes wisdom.

Could it offer him answers he was searching for? Could it provide him the insight he could never attain on his own? Could this tree give him strength?

The bespectacled teen reached his hand out. Fingers brushed against the woody surface first before resting his palm gently, feeling the mix smoothness and coarseness of the trunk. He did not know whether this tree will speak to him. He did not know whether this tree would answer him. Pretty sure it’s silly and absurd. But he knows he was doing the one thing he felt right. Toshiro took a breath and let his lidded eyes droop completely.

It was only brief, a quick touch, before Toshiro hastily retrieve his hand back. There was an undertone, acute but not enough to pierce, hummed in his ears. Reflexively he steps back.

All at once the plant lives enclosing him respond. Flowers began to sway in the air dancing and becoming animated, coloured petals blew past him as a waft of air breathe from nowhere rustling the leaves at one fell swoop. Mirth and excitement was evident. The unexplained gift unappreciated by humans made their presence known.

Normal people would be distressed, in a state of shock. Similar to when he reacted to their first appearance in a decade. Felt more like eons ago. But this time Toshiro didn’t stagger. Didn’t block their whispers, didn’t ignore their songs. They expected him not to fear, they expected him to welcome their existence. And accept them he did.

“Dearest child…”

Toshiro turned away from the oak tree and blinked as he confronts the others. Once, twice. Simply he blinked, his eyes dilated. He recognize the voices, the familiar speech; their words of chiming, of soothing, of longing.

Not more than a whisper the voices sung;

“O Dearest child,
Of fragile belief and confusion.
Why do you hesitate?
Why do you run?
Return to us and speak
thy tongue once more.
Continue his legacy
And your heart shalt be in turmoil no longer.”

He opened his mouth but closed it again. Hesitant, Toshiro tried to offer a reply. “…Dearest ones,” he uttered. It came off as dry and raspy, as if he had not used the spoken language in a very long time. He wasn’t even sure it was his voice at all. “Of wisdom and kindness, of grace and beauty as cherished beings that you are. Forgive me for abandoning, but running I am not.”

Toshiro clenched and unclenched his fist repeatedly, threatening to prick into the white pressurize flesh. He could feel his throat burning but continue he had.

“Hesitate I am, my heart is in halve. And yet, I cannot return. Return, I simply cannot. I only seek guidance and blessings and assurance from you. Lend me your knowledge, rid my heart of uncertainties. For I am weak, a weak human and lost, whom cannot differentiate between which path is wrong and which path is right.”

The flowers became restless, as though upset with his answer. The air tense and foreboding engulfing the garden.

“Conflicted between two importance,
know not what to seize.
You who had strayed from the belief
of your fathers and forefathers,
You who had reached a divergence
between loyalty and friendship…
Be wary.
The truth of which you seek,
the truth we cannot provide.”

Toshiro watched as the plant lives pressed forward twirling around him in their sway. Petals brushed against his cheek, vines of flowers stroked his skin and knuckles. All the time gentle, it was more to an act of forgiving than attrite.

“Alas we are but,
mere observers.
We heal and assist
if one desire so.
But for you, child,
we shall be your truth.
Forget not that we are here.
For alone you are not.”

Toshiro was speechless; he was lost for words. They are too kind, his forsaken treasure, and yet so too they are cruel. He who had abandoned these greenery life forms was still remembered. They had been waiting for him, waiting for him to return. And now he has come back. Back into their grace, back into their reach.

Tenderness and melancholy tugged at his heart. They had always been compassionate, their clemency unchanged. Toshiro breathed a “Thank you”, sincerely meant it with feeling. Whether the flowers heard him or not, the flowers had begun to envelop him. Overwhelming him with their scent gentle and placid he could have sworn his plant friends were smiling. They nudged him forward.

“Now reach. Reach for your friend.”

Barsburg Church, 11:27 AM

Watching with interest from above Kuroyuri and Haruse stood on a ledge. They were waiting for their subject. Similar to how hawks eye their prey before swooping in for the kill at its moment of weakness. And boy, are they patient.

They spotted Teito. The mourning clothes gave him away quite easily from the distance. Together with his roommate, the pair walked through the hallways. They were approached by three female church members on their way, greeting the brunet at their meet and wishing him well once they parted.

“My, my,” Haruse remarked. “It looks like he gets along with everyone.”

Kuroyuri smiled slightly, watching the sisters waved at their retreating backs. It didn’t matter. Teito will be brought back home. “It’s about time we got started then.”

Haruse turned to his commander and gave a nod. He faced forward again, eyelids covering equally blue eyes. Haruse held out a hand summoning tainted red zaiphon to appear. It was a weak red but red nonetheless. With thoughts to call it forth, an orb the colour a mix of purple and black manifest itself in the centre above his palm. He opens his closed eyes. It was his turn to carry out the next part of their mission.

“I’ll be going now,” he said as the orb vanishes. It was replaced with a mirror of some sort made of zaiphon. Turning his attention at his fellow pink haired infiltrator, Haruse handed it to Kuroyuri. A knowing smile shared. “Wouldn’t want to make him wait.” He walked away and made his way towards the Central Library.

Once there Haruse wriggle through the mass of applicants with ease. He reaches one of countless bookcases arranged there. Hidden from prying eyes, somewhere one could stand without being noticed. And it appears he had been waiting.

Haruse took his position similar to the figure behind with their backs facing the shelves. Their exchange was limited by books and ledges in between. He heard the sound of a page being turned.

“It’s been a while,” Haruse acknowledged. Know not his face, know not his name. But clearly he knows this person. “When did you return?”

“Four weeks ago.”

The response was brief and simple and there was silence once more. The flickering of pages was heard for a moment or two, intended use to contemplate over the other. Finally the veiled bishop voiced again. “The Black Hawks, huh. No information for this group. Their moves have been quite flashy… or so I’ve heard.” The book was shut closed then. “There’s a little something I’d like to make sure of.”

Haruse contemplated for a second before lowly humming in accordance. The man thanked him in return. “Likewise,” he disregarded the appreciation, uninterested. “Lately some matters are coming up.” When there was no reply, at his silence, Haruse explained. “…The truth is I have a request.”

“Show me it,” the other promptly enquires. He placed his closed book atop arranged series to which Haruse will receive at the other end. Opening at a random page, a photo was slid and the book was repositioned back afterwards.

He heard the turning of pages. “It’s the national crisis,” Haruse said, assuming he peeked at the photograph before burning it aflame at disposal. “I’m going to let you deal with Teito Klein.”

“Understood. I’ll take control.”

Haruse remained rooted on which he stood, hearing heavy footsteps from the other side until it grows faint and fades. Part one was complete. Now it comes down to his puppet, the splitting image of he, to do the dirty work. It already made its move. That bespectacled bishop caught hold of ‘him’. Best to leave before things go awry.


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