Kyou Kara Maou Fan Fiction ❯ Purpose ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Disclaimer: Kyo Kara Maoh isn’t mine, but I’m still looking for Yuri or Conrad on eBay.
Chapter 2
Murata noticed that Yuri had paused outside the office door before it closed behind him, but he didn’t have the chance to give a warning to the others in the room before they spoke, assuming foolishly that Yuri was out of earshot, or at least too distracted to hear the conversation. Perhaps, the Great Sage’s incarnation mused, this way was better anyway; at least Yuri wouldn’t be caught off guard at an inopportune moment.
He felt bad for his friend, though. Everyone knew that Conrad was not only Yuri’s most trusted and loyal subordinate (not that Yuri saw him, or any of them, as anything less than an equal), but his very support. In the few instances Yuri had been without Conrad, his loneliness was palpable, no matter the company he was in. And Yuri hadn’t been quite as sure of himself alone as he was with the soldier’s unwavering confidence and support behind him. The liveliness that endeared Yuri to so many was absent with Conrad.
The thought made Murata feel a bit nostalgic toward the days he spent as the Great Sage—the support behind His Majesty Shinou. But times had changed, Murata reminded himself. And even though the man was 4,000 years dead, Murata still got his fill of him at the temple. He stifled a small smile at the thought. Now was not the appropriate time.
“What does Ranjeel expect by sending such a letter?” Wolfram growled.
“He’s trying to provoke Shibuya,” Murata piped up. Everyone in the room turned to him, deferring to his expertise. He adjusted his glasses before continuing. “By sending his troops into Mazoku lands, Ranjeel was already risking—or perhaps trying—sparking a war with Shin Makoku and our allies. Now he hopes to provoke us—Shibuya specifically—into doing something foolish. And with Lord Weller in his hands, he must feel confident about his chances.”
“Chances?” Gisela asked, looking up from her ministrations to a struggling Yozak. She was frowning.
“Either at capturing Shibuya if he were to attempt to rescue Lord Weller,” Murata supplied, “or in a full out war. It’s no secret that he is the best solider in Shin Makoku. His leadership in battle is invaluable, and Ranjeel—all of Dai Shimaron’s elite, in fact—knows that. He is a threat to them.”
“In many ways,” Gwendal amended.
“Indeed,” Murata agreed with a nod.
“The kiddo seemed pretty shaken,” Yozak observed as he tried vainly to ignore Gisela’s attention to his wounds.
“Which won’t last,” Gwendal replied.
Murata nodded. “He’ll want to mount a rescue operation before we know it.”
“But Ranjeel will be expecting that,” Wolfram objected.
“Exactly,” Günter replied. “But if we do nothing, Conrad will be in greater danger, and so will the people of both Shin Makoku and Dai Shimaron. Ranjeel’s mental state has not proven sane enough to truly predict what he will do.”
“But at this point,” Murata pointed out, “he was the upper hand. Our choices are limited, and he will undoubtedly have a plan in place for each one.”
“So what do we do?” Wolfram demanded. Despite his constant show of bravado, it was obvious the blonde Mazoku was worried about his brother.
“For the time being, I think we need to wait on Shibuya,” Murata answered.
“It won’t be long,” the once Great Sage assured his friends. “This is too important for him to brood on and even he knows that.”
As Yuri trod numbly through the halls of Blood Pledge Castle, he barely noticed the greetings of the servants and soldiers. Those he passed seemed to catch onto his uncharacteristically pensive mood and hurried past, casting worried glances back at the young Maoh. It was in this stupor that Yuri came across Greta and Anissina.
“Yuri!” the younger girl exclaimed happily, running to her adoptive father.
“Your Majesty,” Anissina greeted with a thoughtful frown.
“Ah, Greta!” Yuri said with forced cheeriness as his daughter threw herself into his arms. “Anissina.”
“You’re back early,” Greta noted happily. “I didn’t think I’d get to see you for a long time again.”
“Well here I am,” Yuri responded, trying to smile for his cute daughter’s sake. There was no need for her to get wrapped up in the current situation, after all.
“Is something the matter, Your Highness?” Anissina asked. Yuri blinked in her direction. He opened his mouth to deny it, but the inventress cut him off. “You seem upset.”
“Are you sick, Yuri?” Greta asked in concern.
“Something like that,” the Maoh replied. He felt ill, even if it wasn’t an actual disease bothering him. “I was going to lie down.”
Anissina seemed to grasp that something was amiss and that Yuri needed some space. She gently pulled Greta from Yuri’s arms. “Why don’t we let His Highness get some rest, Greta? I’ll show you how to knit that sand bear if you’d like.”
“Really?” the child exclaimed enthusiastically.
Yuri nodded thankfully at Anissina. She smile at him in return and took Greta’s hand. “Shall we go, my dear?”
“Is it okay, Yuri?”
“Go, don’t worry about me,” he said with a forced smile.
Greta nodded, though she didn’t look entirely convinced as she allowed Anissina to lead her away from her adoptive father. Once the pair was out of sight, Yuri sighed and started walking once more.
He kept walking until a flash of color caught his eye. Turning, he realized he was passing by the garden. Unconsciously, Yuri made his way to the bed of flowers. Only when he found himself in front of a patch of blue flowers did Yuri notice had moved. Yuri stared at the flowers for a long time; he had seen them countless times, and yet there always seemed something new about them when he would study them again—much like their namesake.
“Conrad Stands Upon the Earth,” a feminine voice named them from behind Yuri. He turned to see Lady Cheri walking toward him. Her eyes were sad.
“You heard?” Yuri asked.
“Yes,” the former Maoh replied sadly. “I suppose I was drawn to the flowers for that reason.”
“Me too,” Yuri said quietly, turning back to the blue blossoms.
The two generations of Maohs stood in companionable, if sad, silence as they looked at the lively blue flowers and shared thoughts of their namesake. Yuri remembered his venture into the past where he met Julia, and she asked him to give the blue flowers to a war-bound Conrad. Yuri had thrown them from the bridge, raining down blossoms on Conrad and the company of half-Mazoku soldiers headed to certain death. That scene had been heartbreaking to Yuri—to see such sadness brought about by war had reduced him to tears. And he felt a tear trickle down his cheek as he stood in front of the royal garden. Yuri was the only one in that time who knew Conrad would come back alive. Today he didn’t know what would happen to his knight. Though the circumstances were different, they were equally tragic for everyone involved.
“Of all my children,” Cheri said suddenly, “Conrad is the one I worry most and least about at the same time.”
Yuri blinked at the blatant contradiction. “Lady Cheri? What do you mean?”
The blonde woman smiled sadly at her flower collection. “No mother ever wants to watch her child go into battle. But my sons, they are all fighters; Conrad especially, as the son of a human. He’s had to prove himself worthy countless times over the years because of that. He became a soldier to do that. And I had no power to stop him.”
Yuri thought about how much it must have hurt Cheri—the presiding Maoh at the time—to send her son into battle, to what must have seemed certain death. And even after that, Conrad continued to fight. Now he fought for Yuri. The young king suddenly felt a wave of guilt overtake him.
“Lady Cheri, I’m sorry… it’s my fault.”
The former Maoh blinked in surprise. “Your Highness?”
Yuri turned to face her squarely. “Conrad is always at my side, fighting to protect me. He’s always in danger because I’ve done something stupid, and he has to bail me out. If I were such a failure…”
“You are not a failure, Your Highness!” Cheri exclaimed in surprise. “You are one of the greatest rulers Shin Makoku has ever had.”
“But I…” he protested.
Cheri shook her head. “Conrad fights to protect you because you are important to him. You are important to us all.” She smiled. “I couldn’t be prouder that my son—my son who has struggled endlessly to prove himself—is the Maoh’s—no—your knight, Your Highness.”
“Lady Cheri…” Yuri trailed off, unsure of what to say.
“The reason I worry about him the least of the three is that he has found something precious to protect. I know Conrad’s heart, and I know that he cannot lose as long as he fights with that purpose. So in a way, you give him life, Your Highness.” Cheri looked proudly at the blue flowers. “You are his reason to fight, and nothing could make me prouder.”
Yuri couldn’t help but blush at the high praise. How could he live up to all of that?” Cheri suddenly inhaled sharply and Yuri started. One of the blue Conrad Stands Upon the Earths had lost a petal. It seemed to be wilting. Yuri wondered, not for the first time, how the flowers connected to their namesakes. Sometimes the mirroring of person and flower was eerie.
“Sometimes,” the blonde woman said quietly, “even those that do the protecting need to be protected.”
And Yuri knew she was right. Yuri was always being protected by Conrad and the others. When Conrad had gone to Dai Shimaron on Shinou’s orders—which remained a sore spot between Yuri and Shinou—it had taken the combined efforts of everyone to get him back. He had needed rescuing then, if of a different kind, and he needed it now. Instead of always being protected, Yuri decided suddenly, it was time to do some protecting of his own. Conrad had always been there for him, even when he didn’t know it, and now Yuri would be there for him. Moping about the castle wouldn’t do any good. It would only leave Conrad in danger longer.
Yuri bent down next to the handicapped flower, cupped it gently between his hands, and let a small bit of maryoku flow into it. All his determination to rescue Conrad resided in that burst of power, and when the Maoh stepped back the flower had straightened.
Cheri looked at Yuri in surprise. “Your Highness?”
“I’m going to get Conrad back, Lady Cheri. Don’t worry.”
The former Maoh smiled. “Not if it’s you, Yuri.”
Yuri grinned for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. She had used his name.
The door to Gwendal’s study slammed open sooner than any of the occupants anticipated. After the initial surprise had worn off, the inhabitants of the office looked up to see a determined Yuri in the doorway with a bewildered Cheri in his wake.
“Your Highness,” Günter said, recovering sooner than everyone else, “I thought you were going to rest.”
“There’s no time for that,” Yuri countered, striding into the room. Cheri followed, contemplatively, closing the door behind her. “We’re going to rescue Conrad.”
The room fell into a stunned silence. Yuri looked around, trying to gauge the reaction to his exclamation, but failed miserably.
“I told you,” Murata said finally. His expression was smug.
Yuri blinked in surprise. “Murata?”
“Indeed you did, Your Excellency,” Günter acknowledged with a deferential bow of his head. “But I doubt even you foresaw it happening so soon.”
“What are you ta—”
“You’re right, of course,” Murata interrupted seamlessly.
“Still, your unwavering faith in His Majesty is magnificent!” Günter exclaimed.
“You give me too much credit, Lord von Christ.”
“What are you talking about?” Yuri broke in impatiently. He had already been interrupted once. He was the Maoh, wasn’t he? And he was being interrupted for small talk? While Conrad was imprisoned as they spoke? Ridiculous!
“His Excellency predicted that Your Highness would return, ready to take action,” Günter explained. The silver-haired Mazoku was practically sparkling in his pleasure.
Yuri rolled his eyes. Whatever Murata had said—and his friend knew him pretty well, so he shouldn’t be surprised about anything at this point—this was not the time. “Be that as it may, that doesn’t change the fact that Conrad is being held in Dai Shimaron, possibly to be executed.”
The room stilled at this. Gwendal cleared his throat uncomfortably. “You heard that?”
“Just because I was depressed didn’t mean I was deaf.” Gwendal nodded in silent acknowledgment of the point. “So what is there to do to rescue him?”
“We’ve been discussing that,” Wolfram replied, arms crossed.
“Oh,” Yuri said with a sheepish laugh. “Well, what have you come up with?”
“Nothing concrete, I’m afraid,” Günter admitted
“Well,” Yuri said straightening up to a more naturally assertive position, “Ranjeel said in his letter that he hoped I would visit, didn’t he?”
“Your Majesty, that’s not—” Günter protested.
Yuri shook his head, cutting his silver-haired adviser off. “It’s a king’s duty to look after his subordinates, isn’t it?”
“While that is true,” Gwendal countered, “the idea isn’t meant quite so literally as you’re taking it.”
“I’ve never been one to do things traditionally,” the young king replied with a grin. Murata chuckled.
“Don’t be an idiot, Yuri,” Wolfram broke in. “Even you must recognize the trap here. Ranjeel knew that going after Conrad would provoke you, so when you make a rescue attempt—because he will definitely be expecting that—he’ll be ready to capture you as well. How is having you captive, or even dead, going to help anyone, Conrad included?”
Yuri blinked in surprise at the blonde Mazoku’s lecture. It wasn’t surprising to get lectured by Wolfram—that was a daily occurrence—but the legitimate concern Wolfram was showing for others was a new side to him that Yuri was unaccustomed to. He made a reasonable point, as well, Yuri had to admit.
“But still…” the young Maoh protested weakly.
“We all want to rescue Conrad,” Gwendal broke in, his tone gentler than Yuri had anticipated, “but we have to be intelligent about this. That is why we are brainstorming ideas now.”
Yuri nodded silently, feeling like a child just reprimanded by his parents for doing something naughty.
“Perhaps,” Murata said slowly, “we could use Ranjeel’s expectation of a rescue operation against him.”
“I don’t think Shibuya will be satisfied watching someone else attempt this,” Murata began, nodding at Yuri.
“Got that right,” Yuri agreed. Conrad was his knight and he made the promise to Lady Cheri to get him back. He couldn’t just sit by after that.
“Are you suggesting we use His Highness as bait, Your Grace?” Günter asked. The idea seemed repulsive to him.
“Exactly,” Murata said with an altogether too innocent smile. Yuri knew that look. It was a look that scared him.
“But Your Grace—” Wolfram objected immediately, but Yuri cut him off.
“No, Murata has the right idea.”
“Your Highness—”
Yuri put his hands on his hips and frowned around the room until the protests died down. “I am not going to sit by while someone else goes after Conrad. That’s just who I am. Ranjeel will be expecting that.”
“Ranjeel will keep his attention on Shibuya while we rescue Lord Weller from under his nose,” Murata continued. “By the time he notices Lord Weller is missing, Shibuya will be gone as well.”
“We have connections in Dai Shimaron,” Yozak added. “The Captain made some friends while he was making trouble. Those are the kinds of people you want for this time of operation.”
Yuri could feel hope blooming in his chest where it had previously felt so hollow and broken. It felt good to be doing something. They would be getting Conrad back soon. He would be getting Conrad back soon.
He felt eyes on him and looked over to see Murata watching him. “What?” he asked, tone a bit happier than he intended. He just couldn’t help feeling satisfied about doing something instead of sitting around and brooding about the castle.
“You know this will be dangerous, right?”
Yuri sobered. “Of course. But I’m still going to do it.”
Murata nodded. “I thought as much. But you’re going to need someone visible to protect you while in Dai Shimaron.”
“What about me?” Wolfram demanded. “I’m always by Yuri’s side. I am his fiancé after all.”
“You broke the engagement, Wolfram,” Yuri said reflexively.
Murata shook his head. “You are by his side already, Lord von Bielefeld, in addition to his usual protection.”
“You mean I need someone to take Conrad’s place,” Yuri said quietly.
“That would be most wise,” Günter agreed. “The Maoh should have the best fighters in the land protecting him. As Conrad’s blade cannot protect you now, I volunteer to do so.”
Yuri paled. Traveling anywhere with Günter was always a production. He respected the silver-haired Mazoku very much, recognized his skill with the blade (nothing less from Conrad’s teacher), but Yuri always had to struggle with Günter’s crazy mood swings of lovey-dovey to deadly to intellectual and everything in between. It was enough to make Yuri dizzy.
Noticing the look, Gwendal subtly broke in. “I’m afraid I’ll be going, Günter, so you’ll be needed here in the castle.”
“Gwendal,” Yuri said in surprise.
“I have some diplomatic matters to attend to in Dai Shimaron,” he replied. “As such, I will not be able to protect you at all times.”
“Then who—” Wolfram began.
Yuri cut him off. “Hube.”
There was a silence in the room that Yuri couldn’t read. If anyone objected on the terms of Hube’s past, they would have another thing coming, the young king decided. He trusted Hube.
“That’s a good idea,” Gwendal said finally.
“Really?” Yuri asked in surprise. He hadn’t expected the idea to be well-embraced, least of all by Gwendal.
Gwendal nodded. “He is one of the best warriors in Shin Makoku and has sworn to protect you with his life. He will protect you at all costs, as Conrad would.”
Yuri nodded, making the twinge he felt at Conrad’s name. His knight’s absence was conspicuous, and though deciding upon a plan made Yuri feel better, he still felt sad and alone. But he would push that aside for the sake of everyone else. He was the Maoh, after all. He was supposed to be the strong one.
“Then it’s decided,” Gwendal said at last. “I will send reply to Ranjeel that His Highness will be visiting. We will leave tomorrow. Yozak?”
The spy shrugged and winced as he pulled at a wound Gisela had treated on his shoulder. “I’ll be fine. I can set out immediately.”
Everyone looked at Yuri in surprise, but the teen held his ground. “You’re exhausted Yozak. You need rest and some time to heal.”
“Shibuya is right,” Murata agreed. “You’re no good to us or Lord Weller exhausted. Bringing us the news of his capture so soon is a feat in itself.”
“Can’t argue with that,” Yozak said apologetically to Gwendal. The latter merely shrugged.
“We will delay our leave by a day, then. But the day after tomorrow at dawn, we set out for Dai Shimaron.”
Yuri nodded. He knew waiting a full day would drive him insane, but he had to do what was right, and Yozak needed rest before his next mission. And so did he, Yuri realized. He suddenly felt exhausted as the emotional toll of the day hit him.
“Your Majesty,” Cheri interrupted, stepping away from the far wall she had been occupying in silence, “you look worn out, and I’m afraid I detained you from rest earlier.”
“Ah, right.”
Cheri beckoned him with motherly arms. “Come, I’m sure Greta would love her father,” Wolfram coughed loudly, “fathers,” Cheri amended, “to read her a story.”
Yuri brightened at the prospect of seeing Greta now that he wasn’t so depressed. “Yes, I would love to see my cute daughter!”
The former Maoh smiled, and for a moment, Yuri felt like everything might just work out after all.