The afternoon birds sang all around them, the green of the forest brushing against the large bodies of their mounts, two black stallions with a size that could be compared to a ferocious and deadly mountain. The saddles cladding the torso of the beasts were refined versions of soft dark brown leather, beautifully drawn asymmetric inscriptions on the knee roll, and the bridle on the animals’ heads were a luxurious mixture of tempered steel and leather straps, refined to make the beast look even more threatening than its humongous size already did.
“Ahh~ Such a beautiful day to travel~,” said Mibuchi Reo with a sing-song voice, most of their body hidden underneath a large and thick black cape. They released the reins of their stallion and entwined their fingers together, absentmindedly daydreaming about their surroundings. “This is a scenery straight out of a fairy tale~ All that I could wish for right now is that a knight in shining armour appears out of nowhere and sweeps me off of my feet with a passionate declaration that I am their fated princess! Don’t you think so too, Sei-chan?”
“If that is what you wish for, Reo, I am more than willing to comply with your request by creating a suitable illusion to your fantasies,” answered Akashi Seijuurou, his body also half hidden by a large cape, this one not pitch black but of showy blood crimson fabric, its edges adorned by rich gold threads. “However, I am left to wonder if such would fully satisfy your needs.”
“Geez~ You really are a cruel man, aren’t you~?” complained Mibuchi, puckering their lips as they jerked their head to the opposite direction from where their master rode on, sulking at the words that had been professed. “You could have simply remained silent or gave a quick nod or ‘yes’ of acknowledgement, instead of crushing my delusions.”
“It is not in my nature to carefully thread around matters,” casually said Akashi, giving a quick shrug with his shoulders. “More so when we do not have the time for such. Keep in mind that we are not taking some days off to relish in useless things such as holidays or rest, Reo. We are crossing this forest with a mission in mind, one that I all but want to complete the soonest possible without any unnecessary trouble or unexpected surprises.”
“Yes~ Yes~,” acknowledged Mibuchi, taking a new hold of the reins of their stallion.
“Have you received any news from Eikichi or Kotarou?” inquired Akashi, looking sideways to his travel companion and letting the red and golden glint of his heterochromatic eyes leak out of the confinements of the majestic cape.
“Hm...” softly hummed Mibuchi, inserting one of their hands inside of their cape and taking from there a large hand mirror, its surface showing their features, an androgynous face framed by glossy black locks of hair, for a fraction of second before it started glowing brightly. “It seems that Kota-chan has successfully arrived at Shuutoku and is right now in the initial stages of discussion with Midorima-chan. Lucky him~ He’ll get to see and talk with my beloved Kazu-tan<3 Nebu-chan has already left Touou and is now travelling to Yosen. It seems that there were no problems with his conversations with Aomine-chan and Satchan~”
“Good,” acknowledged Akashi, a small mischievous smirk starting to tug the corner of his lips upwards. “Reo, draw the future!”
“Certainly, my king~” cheerfully acknowledged Mibuchi with a happy nod of their head. They returned the hand mirror to the insides of their cape and pushed their hand forward in the air, which rippled in circular waves as a set of 78 pitch black cards appeared out of nowhere. A bright yellow light exited their hidden-by-the-cape eyes and the cards started shuffling in mid-air at an astonishing speed, one that the human eye wouldn’t be able to keep up with. Well, it was a good thing that none of the two was of the lowly human race then. “Open!”
Seventy-seven of the cards disappeared with a puff of black and thick smoke, leaving only one floating in the air. With a quick flick of Mibuchi’s fingers, the card turned around and revealed its front side: a round, old wooden wheel displayed in the centre, with a winged being flying above it, a blood-stained sword in its right hand and a golden crown on the left one; below, on either side of the wheel, were drawn two opposite beings, on the left side a man with a sickly demeanour, his hands handcuffed as blood ran down a gaping wound on his stomach, on the right side a man with a gold crown on his head, piles of golden coins and other riches at his feet.
The Wheel of Fortune.
“My oh my~” exclaimed Mibuchi, covering their surprised mouth with their hands. They flicked their fingers once again and the remaining card disappeared in the midst of another cloud of black and thick smoke. “Maybe you are the one who will meet your knight in shining armour, Sei-chan~ Or sweep a princess off of her feet~”
“Cut to the chase without stalling, Reo,” admonished Akashi, sideways glaring at his travel companion.
“Such a moody king that I have...” sighed Mibuchi, rolling their silver eyes around just the slightest. “The Wheel of Fortune represents a change of pace in your life. However, just like the image it has, it is unknown if it will be a positive change or a negative one. It’s up to fortune, or fate, to decide which one it will be. What is certain is that something will surely change and no one can stop it.”
“Heh... Really, now?” acknowledged Akashi with an amused voice, his smirk stretching further on his lips. “I can only welcome such draw of the future as a message from the Gods regarding this quest of mine. However... You say that my fate is yet to be decided? No... No, my dear servant of darkness. I am the one who decides my own fate! I and only I! And I know very well what I want my fate to revolve as. No knight or princess, no demon, human, harpy, elf, nekomata or titan. Just one on the top and all of the rest on their knees before the supreme one.”
“Aren’t you just mimicking the way the world was ruled while The Unspoken still existed?” pointed out Mibuchi in the form of a mumble. A shudder immediately crawled up their spine once they finished saying that sentence.
“Ahh... Maybe... Yes, maybe that is so,” acknowledged Akashi, his feet lightly bumping against the large torso of his stallion and commanding the beast to halt, while the other one climbed up in the air and slowly pulled down his velvet cape. “However, I, Akashi Seijuurou, the Demon King of Rakuzan, pursue nothing more than my own goals and desires. And what I seek and lust for more than anything else is to stand in that exact same place that he previously did. I want to have the world that he previously held in his hands with such care and love in my own and completely ruin his work! I want to destroy this world that he so carefully created from scratch and purge it into the pits of my own! Then, at that time, maybe we shall meet one another once again...”
“Even though he has long been dead, together with all the other Unspoken...?” carefully inquired Mibuchi, also commanding their stallion to come to a halt in the middle of the luxuriously green forest.
“Dead? You are mistaken, so very mistaken, my servant of darkness,” chuckled Akashi, his long fiery locks of red hair fluttering in the wind crawling between the thick trunks of the trees surrounding them, two pointy horns breaking the skin of his forehead and eerily glowing due to the half-hidden sun with an igneous blood red colouring. His mismatched eyes, one red and the other golden, much like the royal clothes that clad his body underneath his cape, shone and illuminated the invisible path before him which he pursued with a bottomless thirst for vengeance and power. “He is not dead. His death is an unachievable and fruitless pursuit in his world. However, if I were to drag everything which belongs to him down and make his legacy my own... Hehehehe... I wonder if, at that moment, I will finally be able to gouge out his insides with my own hands and bring a glorious ending to his miserable existence.”
“The way you love is truly suiting of a demon, Sei-chan...” softly breathed Mibuchi, their eyes unmoving from the gorgeous, yet terrifying, semblance of their master. It would have been more honest from your side, Sei-chan, to just admit that you want to set him free once and for all from the regrets that keep him stuck to the world that he created and once loved...
“I don’t love him, Reo. What kind of demon would I be if I were to love someone, and one of The Unspoken, out of all of the beings of this world?” confessed Akashi, the glowing of his eyes growing more and more in intensity as he looked up and stared up to the sky visible between layers and layers of green leaves. “I despise him. He robbed me of everything so now I shall rob him of the only thing that he still possesses, even though he has long ceased to dwell in this world. I will take his world from him and make it my own, dye it with my colours and defile it until it’s nothing more than a hellish mess of darkness and blood. I’m sure that he will be forced to appear once again if such catastrophic events were to happen in his absence. And, at that exact moment, I shall finally put an end to that sorrowful and pitiful existence. Never again will The Unspoken dwell in my world.”
Akashi closed his eyes for brief moments and took a deep breath, relishing in his own destructive earning.
“One thing at a time, though,” said Akashi after long minutes of silence, straightening his body on the stallion and covering his features with his velvet cape once again. “First and foremost, we shall go visit the newly founded human kingdom, Seirin, and enjoy a little chat with its king. Depending on how the conversation goes, I will deem if it holds any merit for its existence or if I should finally wipe the lowly human race from my lands.”
“Be careful, Sei-chan, even rats know how to bite hard if threatened with the prospect of extinction~” teasingly announced Mibuchi, whipping the reins of their stallion so the beast could resume with its movements through the forest.
“Which is exactly why I didn’t begin this travel by myself and have brought you along, Reo,” acknowledged Akashi with a sharp nod of his head. “An incubus is always convenient to have around when dealing with such weak-willed creatures.”
“My~ You just made my day, complimenting me in such ways, my king~” cheerfully said Mibuchi, wiggling their body around in happiness.”Why don’t you become my knight in shining armour tonight instead of any other m—“
All of a sudden, an acute shriek resounded through the peaceful forest, immediately catching the attention of the two talking demons. Focusing his mismatched eyes on the location of origin of the glass shattering laugh, Akashi found a dozen of small imps jumping from tree to tree, rustic daggers in their gnarled hands as they moved in a group, seemingly pursuing the prey chosen to be enjoyed as their dinner. When he shifted his gaze sideways, he found a white horse furiously running away from the imps, its large torso covered in cuts, gashes and blood, most likely caused by the fiends pursuing the shadow riding the large animal.
“...!” Akashi stilled his movements all of a sudden, intently focusing his gaze solemnly on the shadow riding the running white horse, covered from head to toe with a ripped and used cape much like they were. The scent of blood fluttered in the air, not only of the panicky animal but also of the human riding it. “Reo, continue ahead of me. I will catch up with you in a couple of hours.”
“Eh? Ah! W-Wait! Sei-chan!!” yelled Mibuchi when the redhead strongly bumped the heels of his feet against his stallion's torso and the large beast started to furiously run towards the direction where its rider had been glancing at.
Pulling his cape down so that it wouldn’t be pulled back with the wind strongly blowing around him at the speed the stallion had taken, Akashi leaned his upper body forward to enable a more aerodynamic stance and increase their speed further, ignoring completely the small tree branches that crashed against them throughout their transit to reach the white horse’s rider.
“...!” Distracted by the attention he was unconsciously focusing on the unknown rider only, Akashi almost had a make-shift dagger stabbed on the top of his head when one of the pursuing imps jumped out from one of the trees, its throat releasing yet another shrinking laugh. However, with a quick glance of his heterochromatic eyes, the imp’s body was turned into stone, exploding into a million small fragments before it even reached the ground.
Holding onto the reins of the black stallion with only one of his hands, Akashi silently withdrew his sword from underneath his velvet cape, quickly lunging it forward in the air as if throwing a spear and impaling a couple of imps to the trunk of a large tree. On his way past that location, he swiftly took a new hold of the hilt of his sword and ripped its bloodstained blade from the tree, shaking the corpses of the imps stuck to it away.
By the time the redhead managed to catch up with the rider of the white horse, he had wiped out half of the group of imps pursuing the unknown shadow, the other half now playfully surrounding the wounded horse, the animal panicking as it tried to escape the fiends continuously gashing its body and the rider tightly holding into the saddle with bloodied fingers.
“Begone!” commanded Akashi, his voice reverberating through that entire area of the forest. Birds lifted off in a frenetic flight out of fear and the group of imps immediately halted their crafty movements, frighteningly peering at the source of the voice. He raised the hand yielding the sword above his head and threw the sharp weapon against the wet ground, its blade perforating the ground as if it was made out of melting butter at the exact same time as the black stallion started galloping towards the wounded white horse. “I said, begone!”
“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!” loudly shrieked the group of imps, quickly fleeting that area so they could keep themselves safe from the terrifying monster vengefully rushing in their direction.
“Hmph!” snorted Akashi in acknowledgement, pulling the reins of the stallion to halt its movement right beside the wounded white horse. Though as light as the impact might have been, the moment his horse softly bumped against the white horse, the wounded beast’s legs gave in underneath its weight, sending the human boarding its saddle out of balance and towards a painful fall to the ground.
Akashi didn’t even have enough time to calculate which would be the most beneficial action for him before his arms motioned forward and grabbed the rider of the now dead white horse, holding his suspended and limp body against his chest as he tried to prevent the unknown human from slipping out of his hold and onto the bloodstained floor. Not that the unconscious human wasn’t plenty bloodied himself.
“...” Releasing a soft sigh, Akashi gently pulled the human to on top of his stallion and lap, adjusting his position so he could pull down their ripped cape and get acquainted with the human who dared to interfere with his previously peaceful travel. “Ah...”
Though he was acquainted with the creative ways that humans decorated and changed their own bodies in pursuit of what they designed as ‘style’, never once had Akashi seen a male with light blue locks of hair, ones which were coloured with the same shade as a sunny Summer day.
Never once had he seen such tonality in a human... only in The Unspoken.