There were curses among the mutterings. Redyue stepped forward, her staff clinking, announcing her presence in the room. She stilled it with amusement, letting her toy acknowledge her. He was young, she knew from her quick education about the people of his world, young and manipulable. Even if some things were different between their worlds, some were always the same.
But still, he was something new, just as his world was. He wanted his select few to be safe, and she looked forward to seeing him lose each one of them through death or his own betrayal until he was an empty shell, ready to discard. Someday, she'd seek out another, but he wasn't at that point. Not yet. He might not even break until later, this unexpected youngster.
He clearly wanted to speak to her, looking up at her like she was his lackey and not the other way around. "Something is troubling you." She'd heard the rapid beeping of his device, his computer, and it could only be some unexpected result of what he'd done.
"My brother." His words were full of frozen anger, his countenance twisted in hatred of his world and all that would deny him what he wanted. His wants were painfully simple - to keep those around that he found useful. She looked forward to the day when he realized that his stated motive, to protect those he loved, was nothing more than a pleasant illusion.
"Oh?" she asked, carefully modulating her voice so as to encourage him, but not to reveal how interesting the whole thing was. She had told him, in a candid moment, how she had treated those who had once trusted her. He was in a similar situation. His deceptions were elementary compared to hers, but there were some who would never see through them until the last moment. Trust was such an amusing thing.
Trust got people destroyed, and she enjoyed that. To Mitsuzane's credit, he did not trust her. Was in debt to her in a way, yes, because she'd rescued him from those who would kill him. But he recognized that it was just because he was useful, not because of any affection.
Besides, the looks on the others' faces had been priceless when he revealed what he'd been doing. That he could kill a former friend, kick that friend in the face had been so delicious. That had been worth pulling him out of his battle and letting him fight another day. He couldn't die until he was in mental pieces.
"'Let's settle this, you and I,'" he read off of the device's screen. He turned to look at her, folding his arms. "And a location."
She chuckled a little. Maybe Mitsuzane's brother was not entirely stupid, and didn’t trust Mitsuzane to set the location for their duel. "I will make sure you are not disturbed at that time."
He looked up at her and nodded, smiling at the screen. The light made his hair shine darkly and cast shadows over his eyes. It was a look he cultivated, which he probably thought made him look older. More dangerous than he really was. "Good."
She could teach him to be more dangerous. Not dangerous to her, of course, since he was so willfully blind. She would not teach him something he could use against her. But to the humans, to his brother - especially to his brother - she could make him more of a challenge.
"I can teach you better fighting," she said, and he turned so rapidly she thought that he would fall out of his chair. He righted himself, staring up at her, though he just as rapidly regained his composure. "Come."
He scrambled to follow her. He'd lost any pretense of even trying to use her for the moment, which was slightly disappointing; he was more interesting when he was trying to outclass her.
Redyue thought briefly about using this area, this office that he liked so much, to train him. But as fun as it would be to play with him that way, they might both need it intact at some point in the future. So she led him down into an open area that had once housed working space. It was circular, like an arena, which was appropriate.
She put up a hand as he started to move the furniture and equipment still in the room towards the edges. "Leave it. This arrangement pleases me."
He gave her a petulant glare but did as she said. However, he didn't move to join her in the center of the room, just stood by the furniture he'd been moving.
"Come. We fight."
Mitsuzane looked at her for a moment, and then reached behind his back for his device. His Driver. She did find the devices truly fascinating, especially how they worked with Helheim's flora, converting it into armor and food.
His transformation into his armored form was fast. She didn't worry about him being able to actually hurt her; her hide was far too thick to be damaged by his bow. She looked forward to the day where he finally snapped and then realized he couldn't hurt her at all. She would take him down then.
But for the moment, if he hit her hard enough, she would pretend she was hurt. He might figure it out - he had discovered her plan to try to take out Roshuo, after all, when she'd sent the other one to his death at the King's hands.
She heard a noise off to one side. Shinmugurun lumbered into view, stopping as he saw the two of them. He must have been curious about the new world, come to examine it and see what he could do with it.
At that moment, Mitsuzane charged at her. She deftly parried the slash of his bow-sword, using the momentum to deliver a blow to his back. But she kept him close, because that was where his weakness lay; he was a distance fighter, not so good at close combat. This was also something his opponents would use against him.
He took advantage of the blow, flinging himself farther away from her and gaining the distance that he craved. He launched an attack of energy arrows at her, an attack she gracefully dodged, and she closed back in on him.
Shinmugurun chose that moment to step through the glass between two pillars, causing a very loud crashing sound that momentarily distracted Mitsuzane. He paused, allowing her to land a blow on his armor. Spinning again, he used his momentum to counterattack.
"I can handle two against one," he said, and she wondered if he thought he was impressing her. It was at least interesting, this battle, something to relieve her boredom a little. There was a crash as Shinmugurun tossed the equipment to one side, but Mitsuzane did not comment. She did see a small tensing of his shoulders, as if the sound or the destruction of the equipment had somehow alarmed him.
It was then that Shinmugurun charged forward, aiming at Mitsuzane. She stepped backwards, letting the fight be between the two of them. Shinmugurun had what Mitsuzane needed - a fight against someone who had obviously tougher armor. It would preserve her deception and yet still give Mitsuzane the practice he should have.
This would hurt him, but he would not break. Not yet. He was not as tough as he thought he was, but it wasn't physical pain that would finally shatter him. No, it was his realization as he lost everyone he’d betrayed that would destroy him, not the stress on his body.
"Shinmugurun," she said in their own language, "be gentle on the little one. This is practice."
Shinmugurun gave her a slight nod and a laugh, while Mitsuzane hesitated. She had bothered to learn his world's languages, but he did not know her own, and that put him at a disadvantage. She was sure that she would have seen it through the emotions he couldn't hide, not to her. His face was far too animated to obscure what he felt.
Human expressions. So easy to read, unlike her own. But Mitsuzane's attempts at comprehension were sidetracked by Shinmugurun swinging his axe.
She was actually pleased to see that Mitsuzane hadn't even said anything about the destruction of the furniture and equipment he'd attempted to move out of the way. It was not completely ruined, but it would not be useful again. The... computer, as Mitzusane had called it, was sparking behind them, lending a certain danger to the fight, and the chair would certainly need extensive repairs before it would be useful again.
Mitsuzane and Shinmugurun kept at it. She could see Mitsuzane try to adjust his tactics to handle Shinmugurun's shell, trying to avoid useless hits upon it. It was useless - he couldn't even really dent Shinmugurun - but he didn't stop.
It was almost admirable, this determination of his. Determination and anger at the world and in particular that former friend of his. Though, of course, the present target of his anger was his brother. That anger was maybe why Mitsuzane attacked Shinmugurun so viciously, because of some way he reminded Mitsuzane of his brother.
She laughed. Mitsuzane turned briefly at the sound, as if startled, and Shinmugurun pressed in once more, continuing the dance. She didn't interfere, instead enjoying Mitsuzane attempting to defend himself against the other. It was hopeless for him, of course, but it was as if he didn't know it, or didn't care. He continued to duck and dodge, trying to stay away and to get a clear shot at Shinmugurun's flesh instead of his shell.
Shinmugurun didn't let him, instead making sure that Mitsuzane's shots didn't reach their intended targets. He closed the distance, sweeping at Mitsuzane, though he was careful, pulling his blows instead of shattering Mitsuzane's armor. Mitsuzane continued to tumble out of the way, avoiding Shinmugurun. Eventually, he would tire, and become easy prey for whoever was fighting him, but he was full of the energy of the ignorant young.
And then Mitsuzane was firing at Shinmugurun's feet. Redyue tilted her head, surprised by his choice in tactics, but it effectively threw Shinmugurun off balance and he landed with a thud before getting back up, charging at Mitsuzane.
The two of them kept going, Mitsuzane attempting to keep Shinmugurun off balance and Shinmugurun keeping him at close range. Finally, Shinmugurun swung enough of a blow that Mitsuzane's Driver flew off, crashing into the ruined chair.
Mitsuzane scrambled for his Driver, but before he could put it on, Redyue raised a hand. "That is enough for today." The young one would need to rest, after all, before the battle with his brother.
He opened his mouth as if to object for a moment, and then nodded. Then he stepped out of the room through one of the destroyed glass walls, as if expecting her to follow.
And in amusement, knowing that his pride would lead him to a delicious fall, she followed.