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I'm Feeling Lucky

Searching for: Posts from Comfygazing.
Posted: Thu, 23/11/2023 23:01 (12 Days ago)
Humming in contemplation, Pantalone briefly wondered if he wouldn't mention such an innocuous mention to the Doctor. It was always a delight to tease the ever unflappable Harbinger, their push and pull of their opposite converging orbits spinning in a manner that Pantalone wasn't at all opposed to. One of the joys of working while mostly stationed in Shneznaya, he supposed, was the never ending entertainment he could find himself wrapped up in as petty squabbling and fatui politics always proved to pass the time quite effectively. And one topic frequently brought up between him and the good Doctor, though he would rarely ever say it aloud as some cards would always be held behind his heart, Ray would always feature heavily in their debates. From small things like her latest achievements to heated debates about who she liked better, their squabbling present even with snide remarks passed over harbinger meetings. Oil and water, never mixing but inseparable from the other.

"Then I'll be sure to listen attentively." Pantalone agreed, tapping his pen idly as he stood up. "And we can have a nice discussion over proper drinks." Pushing open the door, he made a mental note to pick up a few new supplies as he made his way towards the docks. He had a boat to catch in order to keep such a promise, after all. One that held some of the nation's best firewiskey that he suspected would be sorely welcomed for the coming morning when raging headaches and annoyances would undoubtedly rear its bothersome head.

A timid knock came from the grand door, a small voice dutifully announcing "Circinus, your guest has arrived." before it creaked open to reveal the diplomat, not one fold of silk out of place. Smiling in greeting, the Liyuen bowed in deference to who was clearly a superior. "This one greets Circinus." Came the humble greeting, deference in each motion.

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Posted: Sat, 18/11/2023 20:09 (17 Days ago)
The crisp air usually cut through delicate lungs with frigid indiscriminate fervour, yet another way that the harsh Snezhnayan landscape seemed dedicated to biting against those who called the land of love their home. But long had the land welcomed those who lived in it with small graces as huddled in within the grand walls of Zapolyarny Palace, the howling winds tamed into a ever present chill that haunted the opulent halls. Treasured away in the inner ventricles, various offices housed the lifeblood that kept their country thriving under the harshest of winters. While they mostly stayed empty and pristine, perfection encased in crystalline memoriam, some Harbingers more than others graced the very home of their archon more than others.

Letting out a sigh, Pantalone let his mind wander away from the pile of work still waiting for his attention. The night was still young of course as he let himself relax for only a moment. Of course as he made sure that the listening dice was affixed firmly on himself, his thoughts naturally latched onto one of the few things he held more tightly than mora. Missions as a harbinger was nothing new, their vanguard always on the move throughout Teyvat and diplomats forging only the most equitable of bonds, Pantalone himself rarely staying in one place for too long, on the perpetual hunt for various investments and opportunities. An unfortunate reality concerning the fluid nature of their duties was that he rarely ever knew with certainty where the rest of his companions were at any given point though he did make it a point to keep himself informed about the whereabouts of a select few precious names.

She would begin to tire of the party, he presumed with an amused hum, lips quirked up as he wondered how she would fare in a city known for its loose revelry and enthusiastic nightlife. He was proven correct as communications crackled with life, the two way lifeline opening with nothing but a breath of much needed air. He hummed in acknowledgement, almost amused at the expected correspondence. For all that they immersed themselves in the ebb and flow of the social game, neither he nor his precious Ray were ever the type to find comfort in large company, preferring instead those who understood them and let their own masks fall to the wayside as well.

As he let the other complain in her own eloquently scathing manner, silent agreeing that even his old region's climate had grown much too foreign for his liking and thus even Mondstatian winters must be equally as dreadful even with its seaside breeze, Pantalone let his own pen scratch idle numbers on empty pages moreso to keep his hand busy rather than any boredom. He hummed noncommittally at Ray's almost probing question, juggling potential answers in his head. It wasn't accusatory, it never was when it came to Ray, her gentle probing only meant to tease out answers with careful hands, but even in the face of saving face and weaving harmless lies, he could never bring himself to mislead the part of his heart willingly carved out for another.

"Perhaps about as much entertainment as one could find while still working." He admitted truthfully, and while he knew Ray couldn't see the wary smile on his face he knew that she would pick it up immediately. "Though Dottore did pass by briefly and sends his regards. Never standing still yet finding the time for drop pleasantries, that man." Shaking his head with mock exasperation, Pantalone let himself enjoy this brief moment of rest as he tipped his head. "Our guest should be arriving just around now, dearest Ray." And I close behind, was the unspoken assurance, his own vessel already in the process of loading its hull with coffers and contracts. He would depart soon but never straying too far, the sound of their shared breaths keeping them company

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Posted: Thu, 16/11/2023 20:55 (19 Days ago)


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Posted: Thu, 16/11/2023 20:52 (19 Days ago)
Very chaotic good

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Posted: Thu, 16/11/2023 07:21 (20 Days ago)
Shu woke to white walls, buzzing foreign machines, and no recollection of how he had landed himself in this situation.

There were still many things that Shu didn't remember, even after gluing his piecemail memories into a cobblestone mess of coherency. Waking up in the foreign new world with only burn scars weaving together to pull and stretch over his scattered memories and an array of seemingly inconsequential trinkets, he had welcomed the guiding hand that Diamond City provided and stayed in her shadows. The mementos that he had been found with, an outfit much too burned and ripped to be salvageable and all sorts of ornaments much too expensive to be simple accessories he couldn't bear to even let out of his sight, were all that he had to remind him of the past he had been displaced from. And so, with new clothes that his draconic benefactor gifted him as a welcoming gift, he began to accessorize. Charms and tassels from these objects were repurposed and attached to new spots in his needlessly complex attire. The gently swirling nebulae trapped inside a glass pearl was the most difficult to incorporate, too large and clunky to cohesively mesh with his current clothes that exuded crowded minimalism but his very being violently objected to ever parting with such a trinket.

But no matter what he tried to dress himself up in, curses would always respond to his beck and call. And so skin and sinew split apart at his command and his most precious part of himself found its new home in the gentle cradle of his liver, the heart a much too obvious place in his opinion. And so it lived, his life marked by the transition of technology that he fixated on, a way to keep his fingers moving and his mind present as he played with motherboards and hoarded keycaps.

Perhaps his tech-savvy nature paid off as the most well adjusted member of the incoherent mess of time travellers he would soon call family. He had been there when two other-worlders dropped out of the sky screaming and biting at each other's throats, holding onto a bitter grudge with an iron grip as everything else was much too foreign; finding comfort in the cycle of violence that would ever remain no matter the time. Oftentimes Shu found himself stepping between their desperate catfights, soothing their wounded puppy souls as they both came to him licking their stinging wounds and smarting egos.

The detective had been achingly familiar, the wrong name sitting on his tongue every time they greeted each other. He had only known Prospero for a few months before getting burned alive, and while a small part of him felt guilty about using an unaffiliated party to fill in the gaping hole where his memory was, Mysta was easy to love. He was eager to help, always stepping in to explain some concepts that he was familiar with while all too willing to search for answers together. He had held Shu in the middle of the night when he jerked awake, screaming names that held no faces and clawing at the new scars that overlapped the old, a second set of wounds that he had forgotten the origin of. Despite his own problems and struggles, one that Shu too had walked alongside, Mysta was the one friend that Shu had found that they could simply sit together, not a word between them yet the gulf of unspoken understanding only widened by the second.

With Luca, it was the exact opposite. The man exuded enough energy to power two suns. It was a ridiculous notion, there was no way so much power could reside in one person and a mortal at that. But Luca lived to defy expectations and created a criterion that would only be crushed by his unpredictable exuberance, always more of everything than anyone expected. Despite holding all the power and authority of a seasoned mafia boss, the undisputed don of the underworld, he was more than eager to drag his two companions out of their brooding shadows and out into the light. Shu felt himself orbiting the glorious sun, the rays that once scorched him alive until he had been nothing but ashes of a vengeful curse and bitter resentment that now caressed his skin with foreign gentleness.

The old scars no longer anguished him to the point where some days he could do nothing but lay in bed with the curtains drawn, his heart full once more. Though he had warped his soul with enough curses to the point of no return where the twisted monstrosity reflected humanity once more, carefully tucking each flaw and imperfection under the paper thin disguise of normalcy, still some things couldn't be swept under the rug. His wings for one had begun to regrow and though he couldn't recall the circumstances that led to them being ripped off his body in the first place (and often he shuddered at the thought of committing an act heinous enough to warrant such punishment), the fluttering membrane was shining iridescent purple with health. Though they sat pretty on his collarbones for the most part, still so small despite his overwhelming powers that even he didn't know how to wield them to their fullest potential, it would still travel around as it pleased; the only outward signifier of his inhuman identity.

But a monster would always recognize its ilk and so when Elira introduced Ike into their merry ragtag band of displaced time travellers, Shu had bristled at the cosmic indifference that held the "novelist's" soul. His shadows writhed with grasping tendrils, the ocean's deepest secrets hidden behind metal frames and alluring sea glass. He could feel horizontal pupils shrink and dilate as they stared at one another silently, sizing the other up as two creatures who would always escape mortal comprehension attempted to ascertain if the other was a threat. Shu had been content to live his lie, happy enough to simply spend his life with the sun and moon in his grasp, his own light dim in comparison. But here now was an entity that threatened to subsume that place, the gods ever greedy for new disciples; especially those who warped the mortal mind beyond divine recognition. Even if he would never know it, Shu would remain as jealous as he was before his fall, a dragon hoarding his treasure and a monster who loved fiercely and without remorse.

They said that love made monsters of men.

Then what would it do to those truly monstrous?

That answer came in the form of red, the rich dark shade filling in the blues of his veins as his heart spilled out once again from his fragile heart.

In the months following Ike's addition to their mismatched group of idiots, both creatures had drawn their borders, an uneasy peace that only came from the knowledge that it could be broken in a clash of contrasting elements falling over them. Living together would shatter that armistice though they did make an effort to at least meet regularly. Difficult, considering that Mysta had buried himself in coursework in a bid to regain his credentials as a detective and Shu was desperately re-teaching himself two languages so foreign to him yet rolled off his tongue in perfect fluency. Luca too was working on expanding and re-solidifying the Kaneshiro Mafia's influence in the underworld, the shell of the once great organization being slowly rebuilt from the ground up with blood as its foundation. Ike was the only one who seemed to have a flexible schedule but even then, they made it work through sheer stubborn willpower. Something, they all found, was a shared trait among them.

It was in one of these occasional hangouts that all three of their newly acquired phones received a text, the simultaneous nature of the message only pointing to one possible sender. The only content of the message displayed an address, one close enough to them that Shu had to wonder if Elira had been actively tracking them. That notion sent spiders crawling down his shoulders no matter how much he spun it, rebelling under the watchful eye of the Seer of All despite his ignorance as to why. Still, they obediently followed the shepherd as if they were nothing but pawns under her gloved hands, another dragon to train and move at her whims.

The address led them to one of the many Japanese style gardens scattered around the city, a joint personal pet project of their Tidal Ruler and Nature’s Emissary. Shu had a few mixed feelings regarding it though many were positive. They were a window into their wonderfully monstrous world, a way to be immersed in the harsh environments that birthed their very core. But some of them, certain scenery would spark against his skin in uncomfortable embers, flaming across old scars in tongues that left only grief so heavy yet confusing that he could do nothing but hold back weeping tears, faces obscured by time haunting his every breath. As the group rounded the corner, passing through the arching wisteria gates that denoted their passage into the spiritual oasis of a scenery long gone, Shu knew that the sprawling decedent debauchery before him was one such spot.

The gardens reflected the nature of the supernatural, beauty found in each leaning bough and carefully raked stone river, the red soil and ground up bones that nurtured such beauty uncovered and displayed proudly in the scenery. Babbling brooks snaked through the drab scenery, enshrining the center in an ecosystem of flourishing opulence and crawling beauty.

And in the middle of it, bracketed by the red leaves of autumn and the last whispers of summer, his heart began to beat once again.

Shu was aware of how asinine he must have appeared, slack jawed and bug eyed as his eyes beaded with tears that threatened to fall in a cascade of pearls. However, the haori that fell from the figure's shoulders stitched his focus on the mysterious figure who held a second heart so close to his chest that they had long since become one. Floating camellia petals beckoned him forth and he dared not refuse their siren song. He could feel the questioning gazes on him, curiosity an insatiable beast that prowled through his companions yet Shu simply ignored them. There were much better things to focus his attention on.

"I knew you," Shu revered out loud, approaching the man who reeked of a demon drenched in blood yet the gentle allure that entangled mortals in a web of lies quelled any fears that his trembling heart could have concocted. "Once upon a dream."

An unknown emotion flitted over golden eyes absent of any flourishing makeup, rimmed only with simple red pen. Hurt, perhaps, or devastation may be a more apt descriptor. But it was gone as quickly as a sparrow flees, only there for a fleeting glimpse before it would be spirited away into a box for no one to see again. "Yes, yes you did, bellflower. Even if time has pulled us apart, I still chase your shadow like a dream so sweet can I even dare call this reality?"

There truly was no stopping the peel of laughter that slipped from an unguarded tongue, charmed beyond comprehension by the familiar stranger that spoke in dulcet temptations and perfect flattery. His single earring chimed against nothing as with a simple curse, Shu alighted before the demon, modest modern cotton that felt inadequate before a monster wreathed in centuries old strength fluttering as quickly as his dead heart. “I see that in the years in which I had lost to fire and smoke, the meaning once ascribed to 'widower' has been replaced with 'dream'?” He teased, the words slipping out of his mouth without a second thought as the shock mirrored itself in the handsome curve of unpainted eyebrows and teasing curl of the lips.

Perhaps some part of Shu really did know the alluring demon once upon a dream, waiting upon the gentle banter that was to come only to be surprised when steady arms wrapped around his waist to draw him close. A head devoid of a crown of horns buried itself into the soft slope of his neck, nosing along the pale skin free of blemishes and redness, the high collar only barely sitting flush against the curse that kept his skin as gentle as it appeared. "Even under my touch, this mirage does not waver…" The incredulous words were pressed into the thin fabric, the fangless mouth pressed only the most reverent of affection upon his clothed form. "Oh, my heart, my life, everything that I take breath for. For all my delusions and waking nightmares, not once have I dared conjure up this scene. If Inari-sama finally sought to bless me with a stroke of illusionary comfort in my final moments then I will gratefully accept this parting gift."

His laugh caught in his throat, wet and shaky as his vision blurred, interpolating different images of someone he used to know. Shu knew this demon, his body had not yet lost the memory of their trysts, aching for kisses that left smouldering desire and a touch that burned in ways that only gave him life and pleasure. "How cruel you are to call me anything but flesh and blood who stands before you hale and hearty." He scoffed, voice warbling as he weakly hit the ghost of his past. A hole that Shu hadn't even cognizantly recognized filled itself and overflowed with delight, nearly overwhelmed as his soul rejoiced in this clandestined reunion.

"Forgive this foolish husband." Vox, for that was his name though never spoken as it was intrinsically carved into his being, choked, voice cracking over familiar symbols. Before the question sitting heavy on his tempered tongue could fill in the gaps in his patchwork memory, the man he probably should be more surprised to learn was his husband coloured the emptiness with crooning apologies. "Forgive him for leaving his beloved wife in his time of need, for arriving too late at the final breath, for taking so long to even catch wind of your timeless name on unworthy lips. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, holder of my broken heart, I have failed you."

Crystalline tears rolling innumerable carats down age worn, battle scarred cheeks dropped hollow echoes onto his breastbone as Shu gently cupped his face to examine it clearly. Lines had made their home under those dazzling golden eyes, a mark of time's unstoppable march as the beginnings of crow's feet made itself at home along the crinkled corners of his red rimmed lashes. He was beautiful, Shu noted absently as he gently rubbed cascading tears into soft skin, even memory couldn't hope to capture such divine allure.

"What is there to apologize for when it should be I who bows my remorseful head before you?" He refuted easily as Vox gently caught his hand, bringing it to his cheek to lean into with trepidatious hope, breath hitching at the gentle rebuke that came from plush lips pressed against his own soft palm. "This unworthy wife has gone and forgotten his husband, left only the fragments of a dream I never want to end, cloying in its fading touches remaining of the times we must have spent as a whole."

While Shu had never imagined the reunion of an existence so intrinsic to his very existence as Yamino Shu that he had no knowledge of just an hour prior, laughter so strong that even his own bones trembled under the force of his mirth still caught him completely unawares. Strong arms once again pull him flush against an ample chest that has fire erupt under his cheeks, the whistling catcalls and illumination of amaranth light dancing across ivory skin only stoking the flames to burn hot embarrassment. He was no curseling whose magicks was untempered by a heart's whims, velvet chuckles the mortifying backdrop as he tampered his flames into nothing but an ember in his hollow chest.

"How long has it been since I've had the honour of witnessing such ardent displays," Vox murmured, eyes crinkled with an affection boundless and overwhelming Shu almost felt as if he would drown in them if he stared too much. Though he wouldn't object to such a fate, the warmth that endured in molten gold invited him into their devoted embrace. "No matter how many lives pass and memories fade, you are mine and mine alone. I will find you each time you draw breath, our souls intertwined until the universe can only acknowledge us as one being, unknowing of where one ends and the other begins. Your heart lies in my chest and there it will stay forevermore." Callused hands large enough to make Shu swallow pressed boldly against his belly, applying pressure as if that would yield the hard rounds of his greatest treasure.

And perhaps it did as his liver warmed under the touch, its hidden companion singing with elation at the touch of its other half. And while it was nothing as the movies that Elira dragged him to depicted, neither a numinous moment nor a strike of lightning but the warm embrace of coming home after a stormy night, the warm crackle of the hearth warming bone-chilled limbs.

Perhaps it was this inexplicable feeling of his fragmented self slotting into place or the familiar comforts this fictional stranger unhesitatingly provided but courage gripped his tongue and let his lips move under its reckless abandon. "Then this wife forevermore will bind himself to you, my Lord. Just as my heart has grafted its home in your chest so too has yours left mine hollow and yearning. Even if another comes to fill such vacuous horrors tailored to your touch, such flights would only deepen my yearning." He assured, vows binding his words in a curse that only strengthened its existence. A quiet part of his soul sung with the knowledge that this was not the first time he had made such a vow, their soul one and the same.

"Which is great and all, but mind explaining what is even going on?" A sharp voice cut through, penetrating their single world that held nothing but them, dragging reality back into their sphere. Shu could almost see a lashing tail and sharp agitated ears as his companions watched on with various expressions ranging from exasperated to curious.

While the irk of a ruined moment long overdue broken under prying eyes burned resentment deep into his heart, lips peeled back in his disgruntlement, Vox seemed to amuse himself with the interruption. "Prospero's ilk?" He wondered as if appraising the gathered strangers with all the authority of a dethroned Lord. If his gaze lingered on the cosmic emissary, Shu made no acknowledgement of it, instead letting the demon take the stage no less charismatic than as he was once during his dreams. "Greetings, I am Vox Akuma, a pleasure to meet the ones who have taken such great care of my Shu in my absence."

His tongue wrapped around his name in alluring comforts, familiar and beloved emanating each syllable. While Shu wasn't one to have reservations concerning the supernatural and the going ons that embodied his fragmented recollection of his own being, the irrefutable power of a name as precious as his own laid any lingering phantoms to a peaceful rest. Some others though evidently didn't hold the same opinions, two distinct growls rising up at the clashing views.

"Your Shu?" Mysta hissed, blue eyes narrowed until only a band of colour could be seen between his furious gaze. "My Shu never mentioned a Box Acomer or whatever your name is, nor being friends with a demon at that. Let alone married. Cut all the acting and tell us what you're really here for."

"And let Shu go too!" Luca tacked on helpfully, the hard lines of a furrow set into his forehead. Both of them looked so precious like that, small cubs snarling at a bigger predator, still too young to understand that they simply stood no chance against the millennia of experience that outstretched theirs. Shu frowned as Vox obligingly took a step away with a teasing smile and hands held up in the air placatingly. When had he begun to think like that? He could feel the warm caress of something on the edges of his mindscape, sending gentle ripples over the once still clear waters, a flicker of envious embers that lingered only for a warming moment before his own mind reinstated its rightful place as the front.

Shaking his head at the concerned looks that his companions both past and present gave him, Shu let himself briefly mourn the warmth that had previously surrounded him before straightening out the various ruffles and accessories of his elaborate outfit while Vox's dulcet assurances soothed raised hackles. Gazing at his supposed husband, the familiar presence made itself known once more, draped in pale green glaze that only coated his mind in lascivious greed and desire. While he had never cursed his faulty memory that never seemed to mend itself after that first awakening, he now more than ever yearned for the answers that lay beyond his grasp. For his unspoken question to be heard by the unfeeling abyss that swallowed who he had once been.

But that frustration gave way to the hope that not all had been lost to the fires of the past, that its ashes still lingered in his lungs. "Mysta," Shu gently cut through the growing argument as the immovable demon stood fast against an unstoppable thirst for knowledge, their bickering serving as mere entertainment for a cosmic entity. "I can't recall much from before I woke up in the hospital, remember? Even if there isn't any proof of it, isn't it better to at least see what he has to say?" He suggested, laying a hand on his Heart's arm as the zephyrs melted under his request and a walk across the winds placed time weary feet on the same ground as his companions. "And you, husband or not, no right has been given to tease those already on edge. Certainly not my own brother no less." The hand that one steadied turned admonishing as it landed a smarting blow against the meat of a well muscled arm.

Vox's loud theatrical whines did little to impress the heart that once was freely his nor did Mysta's best impression of a pathetic wet cat spark any pity. "No proof? What if I said that I did?" Vox pouted, golden eyes gleaming with a hint of trouble that had the already cautious Jujutsushi on alert, as if such a look had long since been documented as trouble in the depths of his soul.

"What proof could you have that survived over 500 years?" Luca scoffed, the added volume of his decadently fluffed jacket a mane of fire that transformed the once cub into a fearsome lion capable of contesting even the most fearsome of prey. While much less vocal than Mysta, eyes that held skeptical mysticism had never once left Vox's face, sizing his opponent up with discerning experience. It felt so familiar, his sharp gaze reminiscent of a bygone era where such scrutiny afflicted all who wished to survive during its warring conflicts that crossed blades each day.

Despite the hardened inspection, Vox only laughed, draping an arm around Shu's shoulder to lean his whole weight against him, long fingers tangling into iridescent hair. The motion felt almost instinctual to lean into, the beginnings of a rumbling purr sitting low on his collarbones. "Sure there is. You, for example. Your progenitor originally left present day Japan almost 400 years ago and is my only surviving legacy of a long murdered clan. Mysta as well, I was well acquainted with your ancestor and I'm sure you could probably still ask them if they ever decided to listen to mortal pleas more than once a century." Nails blunted from time gently scratched against the sensitive skin of his scalp and Shu felt his bones melt under the familiar ministrations, soul singing under the gentle touch as it travelled to the base of his neck, the barest pressure softening his soul.

"While pulling out a whole family tree is well and good, do you not have more tangible proof?" Ike asked dryly, seaglass glittering with an unfathomable ocean of gluttony, knowledge it's only satiator. "A second witness, perhaps, or artifacts of any kind? It's not that I don't believe you but understand that such accounts are difficult to accept without substantial backing for these quite personal claims." Pen nib earrings reflected writing shadows, reaching limbs seeking to entangle them in a prey that so rarely presented itself so willingly to members outside of their hellish circle.

The simple thought of an emanator of a higher being that left nothing but empty husks in its pursuit of cosmic enlightenment and expanding studies taking interest in what was rightfully his set each fiber of his existence on edge. The autumn leaves that rained endlessly to bracket boundless blues struck a chord with the green that coated his tongue, a familiar possession clouding his mind in a haze that demanded only absolute ownership. But before that beastly governance could bear its possessive fangs, blunt nails raked down a sensitive scalp and sent a frisson of something racing through frayed neuros and dragged his eyes back to crimson understanding.

"Darling, check the weave of my earring?" Vox hummed, amusement dancing on the syllables as he tucked a curtain of ink behind pointed ear. The knowing bend of bowed lips paired with a pleased golden gleam pulled a scowl from Shu as he tugged on the offered accessory in reprimand. Still, he acquiesced and ran a finger across tasseled flax. This close, he could smell the barest hint of tangy camelias which added an almost citrusy note to a smell that welcomed his presence back with open arms. But that fell into the background as he ran his fingers over the smooth hemp, textures of a pattern long lost to the sands of time pressing against his pads. How long ago had it been since he had sat in his grandmother’s lap, running his uncalloused hands over red dyed hemp not yet dexterous enough for somatic casting but curious enough to pull rope over heirloom wooden looms that had weaved binding vows for generations.

“It's a Yamino weave.” He declared breathlessly, already grasping the red rope tied alluringly around pale skin that almost begged to be tugged on. “A wedding pattern too… Did you seriously wear my wedding gifts for centuries?!”

Shu’s face burned with mortification as Vox let out a boisterous laugh content to be a punching bag as Mysta’s crackles joined in the humiliation. “Is that proof enough for you, O deity of the primordial cosmic seas? I’m sure I can be persuaded to part with any jewelry that has not been generously gifted to me by my wife’s hand if you wish to appraise it with a third party.” The demon leered, jangling his wrist with hollow clacks almost mockingly as he lifted a beaded arm for the other to inspect, neatly dancing around Shu's mortification.

Ike clicked his tongue at the title, but conceded as Vox draped himself unabashedly over Shu’s shirking form as the heat on his face threatened to burn away any semblance of propriety. “Shameless.” He scolded without any heat, voice croaking behind the veil of unabashed affection and wonder at this small piece of his heart trapped in time and returned to him in a shower of autumn leaves and smokey camilia. Thick fingers calloused and warped from the centuries of wandering loneliness wrapped around strands smoothed over by modern formulas. The mark of life's endless march weaving in timeless comfort, clashes of a past unremembered and undefined present sending jolts of pleasant shivers rolling through long denied nerves. And unbridled, the hunger of a lifetime of longing locked away in an emerald cage unknown till this moment spilled over into the barest uptick of weary lips.

Yes, his world had ended in a sea of flames. Never again would he see the faces of children too young to even know what it truly meant to curse each other, of hawkers who held his title so warmly on their tongues, a life that had burned along with his existence as Yamino Shu, Lady of the Lands, Leader of the dying Jujutsushi, and the illustrious wife of the Demon Lord. He was simply Shu. A regular guy who liked playing osu maybe a bit too much, drank sparkling water willingly, and just so happened to curse just a little too well.

But the jealousy pleased curdle of satisfaction that ripped through his chest whenever that enrapturing golden gaze graced him with undivided attention spoke differently, envious greed grasping for any shred of affection quelled under an ocean of devoted eternity that stretched past unfathomable depths. The ugly emotions that had rarely ever prominently fronted curled deep in his chest in rumbling purrs as it relished in the cruel satisfaction of owning someone in every life beyond. His Vox. His husband. His.

And even if it was the heavens again tearing his soul asunder, never again would he let what is rightfully his go.

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Posted: Thu, 16/11/2023 07:21 (20 Days ago)

Like always, Shu woke up with a soft touch running across his scalp, playing with his hair.

He hummed, leaning into the warm brush of fingers as he sleepily begged for more. A chuckle sounded above him, heavy and rumbling through his body as the fingers obliged and carded through his tangled hair in comforting waves. Carefully clipped nails gently teased apart the many knots and tangles that had twisted themselves into his hair throughout the night, careful to ease them loose without any unnecessary tugging. The familiar ministrations only quelled his rippling mind, as still as the tranquil lakes that framed the peaked mountain tops of the holy seats.

A slight disturbance pebbled out on clear waters, iridescent bubbles rising to the surface as he was gently teased out of his slumber through the skillful drag of clawed nails against his delicate scalp. Squirming under the gentle rake, he gently pried one eye open, blindly fumbling around before a second hand interlaced with his. As awareness began to trickle back into his reluctant brain, he relished at the feeling of being sprawled over their shared futon with only a thin blanket to cover their bare form; a sight only reserved for each other's honoured gaze. Like this, the nebulous future that had hung over them, their own Sword of Damascus, had finally arrived at their threshold. War was here in the smell of copper plates of armour and the promise of death on the horizon.

And while Shu wanted nothing more than to turn a blind eye to it, keep his head pressed against the soft fabrics of bed and stay in the marvellous dreams of domestic tranquillity, a part of him relished in the coming copper that would dye his lips a red only war could press on. After all, monsters, while being creatures of habit, were ones of habitual destruction, hearts singing at the suffering and ostentation of the world.

Even though Shu would agree to fight for the Clan, giving its members his soft affection and all that it entailed, Vox loved them. Loved them as if they were his children, his family, his everything though his heart would always jealously belong to his Lady. Shu couldn't quite understand. No matter how much reverence and worship they would give them, mortals held fleeting lives. Unlike the blessed monsters who lived a hundred human lives in a blink, their feeble clan would only last a scant few scores before they would eventually drift away into the annals of history, forgotten all in a single breath.

Perhaps that was the one thing that they could never agree on. But Shu always knew that Vox had much too soft of a heart, giving and giving as much of himself to others. It was Shu's unfortunate responsibility as his better half to temper that urge, to zealously hoard all the parts of Vox to himself until the demon was unquestionably his in every way that mattered.

And so, he refused to wake from this ephemeral wonderland where no one else existed, the moon orbiting his sun as faithfully as a younger brother chased after his elder sister's skirts, basking under his warm touches and gentle affection. This, not the clan, was his paradise. And he would fight tooth to final nail just to remain in this fleeting moment of perfection.

Alas, his husband was about as stubborn as he and his teasing touches migrated down his face and onto his neck, gently scruffing him into coherence. "Come now, bellflower. It is time. While you may cling to sleep, others still hold their lives in white knuckles grips. Who are we to pry their fingers free?" The gentle coercion only made him that much more unwilling to concede to the bargaining. Even the allure that cloaked his voice in compulsion and jelly soft compliance felt like summer showers against his skin, gentle and effective in only pulling him closer to peaceful slumber.

"And I cling closer to you than I do life. Even Shinigami-sama would find it moving a mountain easier than pulling me away from you." Shu countered, only gracing his heart with a half lidded stare before his eyelids fluttered close once more. If War and her sister Death was all that awaited them outside the partitioned walls of their room, who could ever blame him for his untamed avarice, hoarding whatever bare comforts he could before their inevitable clash?

The harmonious laugh that it pulled from his heart was more than enough compensation, the sound that kept his breath flowing and eyes soft melting him deeper into the mattress. "I'm sorry my dearest wife, if it was any other day I would have left you to your peaceful slumber." Vox freely admitted, the hand that never left his face combing stray hairs behind a sharp ear, lingering on the undertones of violet and magenta streaking through the night. The callused pad of his thumb grazed over the pierced holes in delicate flesh, the soft touch sent gentle shivers wracking through his skin, flesh prickling under the reverence of a perverse deity. "But today the sun sets and we are to be the ones to stop her spiral."

Though no names were spoken, the low growl that reverberated with his soul was more than enough for Shu to chase the familiar curse that wrapped his mind in the early morning away. As if reminding him of his grudges and vengeance, his old scars burned in time with her betrayal. Shu was never quite the type to forgive and forget, digging his claws into each slight and ripping them apart to his satisfaction and here in this moment was an opportunity to do and sate his bloodlust. But it didn't burn for long, the trailing caress of a steady hand that radiated a cooling warmth tracing a single pattern in repeated devotion over old curses, dispelling resentment with a simple touch. "Patience, my Dearest. Soon, but not now. Temper your rage and let it simmer. The time to sink your teeth into suitable prey will come." Vox cooed, the slight tickle of blunt nails scratching the underside of his vulnerable chin sending pleasant tremors to his heart. The balm of reassurance spread over his thrumming soul, the promise of retribution encasing his molten rage into a flimsy shell.

Letting out a breath, Shu let the bubbling need for blood to be shed be appeased by the gentle tracing of a familiar spell over one of Vox's hearts. The steady pressure welled red under his sharp wicked touch, dribbling down gentle rounds to pool between Vox's chest though it never grew wider than a trickle. Blood, after all, was worth more than gold to the ravenous monsters they housed as their souls. With the curse carved deep into his soul, scratched skin already knitting itself back together in a web of muscle and sinew, Shu smiled sweetly and let his fingers dip into the lingering red, gathering the coveted liquid on the pads as he smeared it over his forehead in loving strokes. A curse strong enough to bind them together even through death and into oblivion and a symbol of possession that allowed for no thoughts but of his owner both willingly drawn and accepted.

"Yes… soon." He agreed, mirroring the gesture to gently run cursed ridden hands over the delicate rise of his heart's sloping horns. "And once this is all over, we'll pour a drink as black as our sins."

The dry chuckle that greeted his words said more than enough as he briefly closed amber eyes under the gentle touch upon the sensitive crown. "Yes, yes we will. But in order to see this tragedy through to its end, we must first rise from this idyllic prologue." Vox agreed warmly, fondness dripping off each syllable yet he made no move himself to rise from the enchanting embrace of a warm futon.

"Hypocrite." Shu teased and the helpless smirk that spread over Vox's plush lips only belied their true nature. Creatures of sin some would cry. No, they were only true to their own desires. Avarice was their crowning glory as they swam in their desires and the pleasures of their own making.

And in that ephemeral wonderland of a perfect utopia, they invited themselves to be lost in the swaths of adoration that filled their shared space until they drowned in the overwhelming feeling. Purple resonated in gold, royal colours reflected in cyclical harmony to produce only the purest of devotion created from the sinking of teeth into flesh and lapping of blood, from confessing the dirtiest of secrets and met with equally heinous sins in return with no absolution in sight; only damnation.

"Okay get up, we've dawdled for far too long." Vox hastily declared, as he hurriedly threw the blankets off his form and only entangled himself even further in their lining embrace.

The split of silent laughter cut through the dreary morning like a toll, interspersed wheezing heralding their final stand.

By the time it came for them to slide on their regalia, weapons of the coming bloodshed strapped to their hands and maps brought from the war room laid out before them, furrowed brows replaced the creased crows' feet as steady hands leafed through papers and protective fabric. The gentle hands that crowned ebony hair with gifts of crimson and gold became secondary to the traded murmurs whispered in low voices even if the only occupants of their sanctuary would only ever be them. Talks of the future only ceased once Shu took cinnabar paint in hand, wetting the brush as the cosmetic particles clung to the moisture in steady strokes.

For years the Curse of Love had clung to his heart, invading his heart and mind the moment he found a bloody battered demon at his clan's gates only a welp whose pureist wish was to survive, his iron will found in the unyielding grip on a well used rusted katana. It ate at him, feasting on the desire and untarnished want that would always fill his twisted heart whenever Vox would so much as hold a whisper of his thoughts. In return, for his cursed obsession, he would cast any obstacles in their path into oblivion, the power of only the most wretched and cruel of curses at his fingertips. And with this salvation at his disposal, came the ability to fiercely hoard what was his.

The ticklish glide of bristles over sensitive skin left behind a vermilion trail as the spell sank into supple skin with each blot of ink that was left behind. Another was drawn over Vox's chest, the urge to admire and lavish the fruits of his labour nearly derailing his almost ritualistic trance, yet he kept strong even in the face of overwhelming temptation. The back of hands and marked up thighs too received the same sweeping sigil, worshiping lips trailing over cinnabar devotion.

"For as long as I remain on this world so intent on pulling apart the string we tied with our obsessions, so too will you wander aimlessly. Even if one ceases to beat, all of your hearts resonate for me and only me. What's mine is yours and what's yours is mine." Seeing his crimson cursework lattice spider across his husband sent possessive glee coursing through his being, a hand coming up to press gently against a web of scars that crawled starburst desire, a wound that Shu himself had left on his beloved's skin, left as a permanent reminder to heal with raised skin and embraced in its mutilated glory.

As if a mirror following his movements, Vox too pressed his palm against the gentle rise of Shu's stomach, steady fingers wrapping safety around the curve of his waist. Their hearts echoed in foreign bodies, pumping sacred oath through devoted limbs and worshiped lips as they warmed under the touch of their creator. Cyclical obsession pulsed in three fours, a waltz of envy and desire pulling each other into orbit and mutual destruction. And Shu revelled in such an end, fingers tracing teasing shapes over the goose fleshed skin, gut tightening as the hand at his waist flexed in silent warning.

"For as long as I draw breath, your heart is mine to use as I please as it skips in time to the beat of our inevitable demise. You can run to anyone and find shelter in their arms but when it comes time it is always going to be me who is your first and only choice. Me, and only me." Vox snarled, promise set in the wild grin that blazed in his eyes, the spark of possessiveness crumbling into a raging inferno that only knew to consume and destroy. Shu didn't even try to conceal the ravenous hunger that gnawed at his heart, his every being screaming for the avarice that he knew he could satiate.

But lust of a different kind still burned Shu alive and he pulled away from devouring obsession flushed and with a heaving chest that fought for the obsessive possession offered freely. "My heart, we really have to stop being so entangled in each other." He giggled, the hand once trapped between their melded bodies now pressing back against an insistent broad chest.

Even pleading whines from kiss swollen lips couldn't sway him as he simply cloaked him in the ceremonial garbs fitting for a Lord to lead his army in. Shu muffled his own mirth as he tightened hellfire forged vambraces with practiced movements, drinking in the sight of a mighty warlord pouting at his wife's feet, clothed in silks that had been the final sight for many an unfortunate soul. Even as vermilion undertones running through onyx veins refracted scattered bloody light across the tatami, not a drop of impurity could ever touch the alluring voice demon who sat with the confidence of a lost battle in a won war.

Resisting the urge to smear red across his lips, Shu settled for running reverent hands across his form. "What an obedient husband, listening to his wife's whims even if slight scolding was warranted. Ah, what was it that you said..." Shu mused, slipping paper curses under the heavy folds of bewitched fabrics. "That's my girl?" His heart sparkled with mischievous delight at the wild red that bloomed freely across pale cheeks, flushed with the reminder of his midnight whispers in another's ear.

However, instead of words that snowballed out of a hasty mouth, spitballed explanations spurred on by flustered defence, a sly given wobbled into place; a deviation of their script. "Green is such a beautiful colour on you," Vox murmured, hands flexing comfortably around enclothed waist. One came up to gently brush away flyaway strands, the smug smile proudly affixed to his face leaving Shu gaping with joyful disbelief. "You've never been very good with sharing, have you darling?"

With a snarl, Shu disregarded his own stupidly self-imposed rules and brought their lips crashing together, vermillion smudge passed between hungry gasps and groans. The arms that had been resting lazily on the gentle curves of his hips came to grip tightly around his waist, holding fast yet never drawing in for more in a way that pleased Shu immensely. Devouring every sound that escaped from Vox's begging lips, Shu only pulled himself away from his meal as the reminder of ever flowing time crept up on him.

Though he had no need for breath, still his chest fought for more of that addicting possession as he gazed upon his work in triumphant glee. It was such a fetching look on the all-powerful demon who rarely showed anything less than absolute composure, the flushed blown out look in his golden eyes. A haze of desire had clouded them in charming shades of red, spit slick lips that had long lost its rouge parted slightly with gasping breaths that wracked Vox's body in delicious ways. He gently tucked loosened strands of hair behind his pointed ear, pressing a final lingering kiss on his love's forehead, right over the trailing red ink. "You are mine. Mine, you understand?" He spat, low voice humming right next to a sensitive ear tinged red as woefully blunt teeth sank into the supple skin in admonishment. "A curse willingly accepted can't ever be undone. Flirt with all the young mortals you fancy, you'll see this green as many times as you wish." The pleased grin he received in return, overflowing with a tidal wave of satisfaction and desire that threatened to sweep them away more than worth the uncharacteristically vocal declaration of possession.

"I do so adore my wife so much." Vox sighed dreamily, smitten adoration colouring each word in velveteen decadence.

Shu could only scoff as he slid out of his pining husband's warm lap. "As you should."

In stark opposition to his husband, Shu spent remarkably less time getting ready. After all, he always fought better with a concealed presence and the ability to blend in with the masses. A viper lying in wait for his prey to stumble into his venomous jaws, striking with deadly speed and leaving nothing but distressed grass and cooling bodies in his wake. A simple black yukata was more than enough to blend in with the shadows he called a second home, its warm embrace more familiar than any touch and the only constant in his life.

However, he did allow his husband the luxury of pulling his hair into an elaborate enough hairstyle to slip on his wedding gifts, anklets locked tightly in place and conjoined souls resting snugly against the hollow of his throat. Gold as pure as his bonds did not tarnish easily, glimmering wealth as if they had just been newly forged and not relics spanning decades in the making. Certainly eye catching but Shu knew that even in the shadows they would neither betray his location nor hinder the wind at his feet. These were his possessions and they would obey the whims of the one they were gifted to.

With a lingering kiss on his forehead, his husband's personal mark spidered deep into Shu's skin in a bloom of red demonic magic, Vox drew away with a warm smile. "There we go, all done." He adored, tucking baby hairs that couldn't be braided into place out of his face. "Beautiful in everything you wear, my wife always looks his best even more so when he is about to curse thousands to a condemned life where death would be a luxury."

Giggling at the flattery, Shu indulged in the easy affection and tenderness, with his own hands trailing over armoured planes and curse en-woven cloth. "One day that silver tongue of yours won't give you the prize you seek." He noted beguilingly with a gentle punch to his side that had wandering hands skittering back to safety. At his husband's exaggerated pout, rouge smeared over puffy lips that shone with shared spit, Shu acquitted slightly but only enough to drop the faintest of pecks before drawing away.

"Come now, the smell of Death approaches and delaying will only grow her foul stench." He cajoled, drawing lingering touches back into the depths of his heart. Even if Vox chased after the sparse affection, Shu would not relent. Indulgence could wait until after their tools had drunk their fill of blood.

But even as they strode together through the ominously silent hallways, all sense of proprietary disregarded in the face of War, Shu found himself yearning for that image of Vox's solid back walking three steps before him.

He only got that wish when the shadows welcomed him back into their embrace and Vox stood as glorious as the sun he rivaled. Meeting Tokugawa with the banks of death gurgling quietly behind and an innumerable army before was nothing new. These bloodthirsty lands served as the vast unmarked resting place of many a foolish conqueror and countless armies who thought themselves worthy of cutting down the indomitable Akuma clan. And today, it would subsume yet another.

In the middle, a meeting of warlords as the sun that peaked over their encounter cast long shadows that never seemed to intersect. "Akuma." The human seemed fearless in the face of overwhelming power no mortal could even dream of attaining, back ramrod straight as the weight of a general sat heavily across finely crafted armour. Inlaid gold rested gaudily on fragile shoulders and even the kabuto helmet that could withstand hundreds of blows seemed paper thin in comparison.

"Tokugawa." The same tone was thrown back at the arrogant human, the demon wearing another mortal's skin standing in opposition to the conquest's unyielding march. How laughable it must be to an onlooker, that a lone man couldn't hope to hold back an army vast enough to blot out the horizon with their numbers with nothing but his stronghold at his back.

Perhaps the so-called Unifier of the Island was one such soul as he made a show of peering around his demonic form. "And your army?" He sneered, lips curling under the ornamental helmet that could oh so easily crumple under any one of their pinkies. Hammered copper and bronze meant nothing in the face of magic that endlessly consumed.

Humans would only be doomed to repeat their folly, not once learning from the sins of the past.

"What army would I need, when facing against mere mortals clad in ridiculous sheets of flimsy metal?" Vox mocked, the lazy self-assurance settling beautifully to twist his handsome features into the epitome of delectable. Cocky, some would doubtlessly dub them. Mouthwateringly sexy, Shu would argue, restraining the all encompassing urge to devour the man who was his in every conceivable way.

It seemed as if Tokugawa was of a different opinion, not uncommon but still disappointing that no one could see the unhinged beauty in the near universal desire for bloodshed. "That will be your undoing, Akuma. Curse your own prideful self as your home burns to ashes." Was the curt reply as Tokugawa raised a hand. As if one singular being, hands were raised and pulled back, gleaming arrowheads alight with the intoxicating smoulder of war.

With a slither of countless bowstrings, a rain of fire flickered in the scorching sunlight as it soared over the ignorant settlement and ever so subtly the licking orange flames hued to a deep purple blaze. With a burst of unnatural heat, supernatural power ate away at common wood with blazing foracity cloaked in violet, leaving nothing but a shower of light ash that once was almost certain doom.

"There is nothing you can do that will hurt us." Vox snarled once more, vicious victory painted across his barely concealed tusks. "You will not hurt my people, conqueror." The ripples of noise that echoed through the enemy ranks only seemed to reinforce such ideas but even from his place as Vox's shadow, Shu could see that Tokugawa's expression had stayed as stony as ever. Their initial attack had fallen to the wayside, nothing more than black flecks carried away by fickle winds and nothing but apathy to show for it. The shadows reeked of suspicion and Shu cast his eyes out in seeking inquiry, familiar sulfur and burnished bronze assaulting his senses in an instant, drawing forth misty tears and alarmed alertness.

His warning barely brushed against Vox's wary mindscape before Shu felt his curses break, the delicate craftwork smashed apart into a shower of polarized staurolite. The unrelenting flood of heat ripping at their back almost seemed negligible as Shu stumbled out from the shadows, shards of shattered curses piercing his throat as he gagged and retched on the residual magic forcefully shoved back into a delicate vessel. A roar ripped through the air and Shu felt bitterness grow in the wake of the truth that in their hasty hubris against mortal ants, they had completely forgotten about their second enemy.

The grass under his feet danced orange and red, he realized belatedly, swaying under the force of power exploding outward as it mirrored the licking destruction undoubtedly consuming wood and soul. Lifting his head stuffed full of buzzing curses and half-formed thoughts, he stared as the Akuma castle burned at the pyre, hungry flames ravenously consumed young wood and fresh blood to feed the earth with the ashes of destruction. Old scars prickled and seared against his skin as he forced his shaking and overstimulated limbs to move, if not for him then for the burning heart that sat heavy in his chest.

"Go! Save your people, I will hold them here." He commanded, the ground under them rumbling ominously as if to back up their master’s words. But Vox, dearest Vox whose heart was always much too big for his body to ever conceive to contain, pursed painted lips, conflict dancing across each muscle as the duties of both a Lord and a Husband pulled his aching heart in more directions that he could save. As if to quell the doubts that his foolish husband held, not even the ravaged abrasion of multiple curses brutally decimated and erased in a single blink didn't seem to cool the frigid intensity of his flames as they erupted under the vulnerable feet of unsuspecting soldiers, their haunting screams echoing across empty plains, a haunting caterwaul of ghostly shrieks as their own protection trapped them in a meandering end. He didn’t even turn to see if his foolish Heart had heeded his call before he snatched his shikigami out of the air, the fragile paper curse already disappearing into ashes as Shu blew the crumbling spell toward his enemies.

The first charred bodies hit the ground with an empty thud of molten metal and empty flesh, the next toppling with nary a squeak or a yell; eyes glazed over in pain. As their allies fell with only a gust of wind and roaring fires mirrored by the inferno at his back, Shu could almost taste the trepidation in the air. Delicious, though his stomach recoiled at the thought of even more magic being forced down his throat. But even as his magic frayed on a hairline wire of exploding into a supernova of misfortune and woe, he could more than take on a measly gaggle of mortals alone. Shu didn't need to look to know that his husband had already gone with the wind, only the furious roar of a creature so far removed from humanity to show for it.

And by the gods bound to his service did that sound downright sinful to his monstrous ears.

Making a mental note to absolutely ravage his delightfully alluring husband at a more appropriate time, Shu painted a quick talisman in the air, crackling ethereal fire that cast him in unnatural purples and violets lingering in the air before it sparked with curse energy. A similar array lit up under booted feet and Shu made an entire army dance to the symphony of their own death. The meticulous craftwork that belonged to his own perverted branch of protection magic bringing about gruesome massacres was almost an art form as Shu overlayed old wards with new curses. No mortal would be spared from the overwhelming rage of a Jujutsushi provoked into a senseless conflict.

It didn't matter if a samurai broke through the almost careless assault with the desperate hope of cutting a monster of unfathomable virtole down where he stood, the inferior metal and steel they so boastfully considered superior was nothing more than wheatgrass the moment their dull edge graced to touch burnt skin. For those cases, Shu was more than happy to take matters into his own hands, his intertwined soul singing in delight at the blood spilled today as it sunk deep into empty cavernous chests, pulling sinew and bone apart.

A manic cacophony of glee crawled out of his throat as he danced, curses sparking on bloodied claws as wards and arrays crafted specifically for this moment awakened from their slumber. Oh glorious destruction that abounded and hunted without remorse, take up arms for today bears its name in never waning violence.

With a grand sweep of his downturned hand much like he was holding a fan, wrist flicking to mimic the scattering of water droplets. From the rivers that snaked around his home, the clear waters ripping with each curse that filled the air, a heavy tail struck the water and out from the shallows a bloated mackerel much too large to even feasibly live in such an estuary made its presence known with a graceful arc of refracting water and dripping blood. Water flowed as the engorged curse hovered over its master's shoulder, ravenous teeth of a predator barely fitting within its thin lips as it leered at the meal it could feast itself on.

The tense silence only persisted for a few seconds devoid of anything but fear and anticipation before the curse lunged forward and snapped up the first few soldiers in its ravenous path. The crunch of metal and cut off screams only seemed to fuel its rampaging feast as hapless mortals were flung into the air and devoured in a few scant bites. Shu gleefully sat back to listen to the cacophonous symphony, feeling his magic begin to balance itself out from the sudden influx earlier. How glorious that with a few simple spells, an army could be decimated into a platoon, left only with those who lingered in a coward's confidence.

The feeling didn't linger for long, the tug in his gut growing almost nauseatingly persistent as he turned to stare at the still burning stronghold that his husband called home. The viscera that coated his hands almost seemed weightless as his chest emptied itself in a single breath, mind taking in the bloody hues that painted a compound that once perhaps could have been his home. The cutting winds cut across the crumbling grass, bringing with it the smell of smoke and charred flesh, draconic shadows covering wrought destruction under proud wings.

Almost flippantly he let the guardian of Akuma lands rampage as it pleased, Arrogant Tokugawa having long since removed himself from this particular battlefield, be it through retreat or by breaching their crumbling walls, he didn't allot the energy to care much. But as he glided through the pure white ash that carpeted once lovely streets as filled with bodies as it was in life, Shu felt his chest twist at the sight of the blackened corpses that lined the unholy procession. Though he never made an effort to recognize each inhabitant by name, as he knelt by a particularly smaller gnarled mass of charcoal and soot Shu supposed that even if he had, he wouldn't be able to tell anyone apart. Wandering through the streets that his feet had tread countless times almost following a predestined path set upon his soul, Shu found himself a stranger in lands that once welcomed him with open arms. Tongues that he held firmly in an all-powerful grasp lashed against his skin with heated waves of agony and resentment, a veritable feast for a too full stomach.

Turning a corner, Shu could faintly hear the slither of steel against steel drowned out against the screams and fire that seemed to permeate the very existence of their once prosperous clan. A child tripped in the flaking snow, a lump of coal blocking its path as its friend hurried over to help it back up. A few paces away, their golden haired guardian angel turned her faceless concern on the charges and the scene was baptized in holy fire, scorching and all consuming. The flames radiated heat that was enough to get Shu sweating a river as it licked at the ends of his hair and nibbled teasingly against the delicate ruined membrane of his wing. Violet met gold, colder than the warm sun that so often sprinkled his favour upon him, the lion and the witch meeting in wide silence as their frozen Narnia burned.

The dancing of flickering illusions that lived through the scorching radiance of the exalted dragonfire that rained down upon his beloved obessions's clan was almost mesmerizing, enrapturing his disassociated spirit with its alluring promise of a road not taken before as quickly as it was breathed out with little thought, it too dissipated into nothing but smoke and memories.

A scream, loud and piercing as the flames that bracketed them in their scaling embrace. It shook him as his soul answered in kind as he finally moved as he wanted, the winds of change carrying his feet over the charred soil that would surely one day be fertile ground once more to gently cradle in his arms a warm weight that dropped unceremoniously into it. The trail of ebony rivers that flowed and draped itself in luxurious waves over in mourning veiled the lady's face from the world, trimmed nails and calloused palms gripped Shu's rough clothes in a desperate hold that nearly tore the cheap fabric. He makes not a sound even as pinpricks of pain claw down his back and his shoulder grows cold and damp.

"I'll kill them." The murderous promise was threaded into the nails that bit into pale skin, whispered under the cover of darkness but no less resolute. "I'll flay their skin from their muscles, strip their flesh off bone before I gnaw on the agony they have so graciously given me. I will hunt their children as they have mine and I will take vicious pleasure as they wail under my hands. No matter how they beg, their necks will break all the same. And I will feast." The lioness bared her fangs at the sky, snarling and clawing at the monsters wheeling above them that dared snatch away her cubs from their mother's warm embrace.

Shu couldn't comprehend her grief, a foreign concept of family that perhaps was once familiar but now had faded to nothing but a faint echo of a fading feeling. But he knew of pain, of betrayal and loss as he held Lady Kaneshiro ever closer, allowing her to tear ribbons into his clothes with vengeful claws. "O Lady of this Village, give me the strength, curse me. Curse me to rip out enemies to shreds, to devour them until not even bone remains. Please, use me as another curse to set upon those murderers and reunite me with my children. Please." Lady Kaneshiro, in all her fierce pride and stoic stone heart whose knees never once touched the dirt nor her forehead lower any further than the sky, begged. Her weight brought them both tumbling down, a puff of flaking ash pillowing their descent in a cloud of everything that had been lost.

Swallowing down the unknown emotion that seemed intent on blocking his throat, Shu slid his hands up to pull Lady Kaneshiro's face away from his neck, gloved thumbs brushing away the ink that stuck to her blotchy face. Disgusting, he thought offhandedly, that mortals would show such unsightly displays and still have the gall to wreath their desperation under a veil of propriety. Cupping her broken visage, Shu leaned forward to breathe into her a promise that would bind death to her very name and into her hands, nausea slammed into his chest and crawled up his throat to spill out in a flood of fire and stardust from parted lips.

Staring in confusion at the mess that stained his robes, Shu retched as a second wave crashed over his mana and flooded his system until the hollow vessel built to house the pantheon of curses spilled and overflowed in a cascade of charoite fractals. The ground rumbled and quaked in harmony, the destruction of both of Shu's worlds coinciding with the advent of the end. The whispers of a curse that had long been his guardian bid a final farewell before the ashes consumed its corpse, no different from the pale death that surrounded them all. The empty pit in his stomach, untouched by the overflow of cursed magic that had slammed back into his broken body, dragged him down into hollow dissonance and he struggled to even lift his head beyond its guilty bow, choking any words before they could even form.

A gentle hand riddled with calluses and scars gently cupped his face, slender fingers more accustomed to holding weapons than another coaxing his eyes to trail upwards. He lingered slightly as he took in the soot that stained gold embroidered robes, barely concealing the burgeoning life nestled in maternal warmth. His gaze finally slid up along with his chin with steady fingers leading it to stare into Lady Kaneshiro's eyes, violet resolution and fury sparking over them. Behind such volatile emotions, Shu only saw a mother who carried grief as her second child, overwhelmed and consumed by the tragedy that played before her eyes and composed the theatre of her life.

It was so easy to curse

"No." He coughed, each word expelling molten shards of alexandrite vengeance, leaning into the steady touch with a gentleness that he wasn't aware that he was capable of. He bared curse smeared teeth at the wide eyed surprise that nearly consumed cold golden iris' and held fast to the hand bracketing his face.

He watched Lady Kaneshiro's face twist with emotions, flickering from disbelief, indignation, betrayal, and resignation, before finally settling on heavy simmering fury. "No? What, and think carefully about your next words, do you mean no?! I have worked tirelessly all these years trusting that you would respond in kind when the time comes but when the time comes knocking you won't even lift a pampered hand to open the door! I ask again that you aid me before I fall into a rage that needs no curse. I have nothing else to live for, grant a dying woman's dying wish O selfish Jujutsushi." The snarl that twisted Lady Kaneshiro from a picture perfect matriarch of noble descent into a raging animal who had lost her cubs in an unjust hunt was beautiful and mesmerizing, fangs slick with spittle and righteous disgust clashing against Shu's own exhausted tranquility.

"Hardly a dying wish when you still have someone depending on you." Shu laughed around another wheezing cough as hoarseness scratched against his throat, pressing his hand against the swell of her rounding stomach before she could raise a protest, the promise of a life unmarred by the sins of the present. The myriad of expressions that washed over her face flickered too fast for Shu to decipher but he held no care for any of that, swallowing against the curse that swelled against his vocal chords.

Before his hand could be slapped away, he slid it up to cup tear stained cheeks with soft cotton. "I don't care." She spat, leaning into the offered comfort with vitriol and grief, clear gold drawn close by his guiding hand until their heads gently tapped against each other, the final bastion of their legacies crumbling into the foundation of something stronger, better, beyond their time.

"But I do." Shu found it exceedingly entertaining to play the antagonistic force, knocking his head against Lady Kaneshiro's in a gentle admonish that left smarting skin. "You who saw your family decline into smudged lines of ink, who serve a clan that will become one with the Earth, all which you touch becoming nothing but ash in your mouth; giving everything only to receive nightmares. Are you not vexed as I am? Do you not wish for revenge?"

Blunt nails came up to dig into his shoulders, the keratin scratching against the delicate membrane and still healing claims yet Shu's face did not waver, meeting her steely gaze with his own conviction. "Of course." She snarled, biting each syllable that made it past her lips in vicious anger. "Of course, I want to burn those pathetic lizards to the ground, rip their wings off and feast on their blood. I will step as close to the sun as I can, burn myself into ash and bring as many of them down with me as I do."

The declaration was as pleasing as any could be, its destain and rancor dripping with everything Shu would have loved to gorge himself on. "Then live. Live a life so abundant that even Prospero in his infinite lives would pale with envy. Sow the seeds of jealousy and hate by being the one thing they can not destroy, outlive them all and laugh on their graves as one by one they fall like flies." Shu hissed in retaliation, the sounds scraping against his dry throat coated with curses just waiting to spill out from careless words. Amaranth petals fluttered behind each word, the air thick with magic as the unceasing bursts of flame continued to ravage scorched lands. Burning flesh was their perfume, pungent as it laid claim to their scent with unrelenting tenacity, echoing screams having long since fallen silent to the ominous beating of leathery wings overhead.

The stunned silence of a Lady who welded such absences of words with poised grace was in its own way satisfying, a trophy that Shu would take no matter how meaningless even in the face of death. Releasing his grip on her, Shu drew back to press his palm against Lady Kaneshiro's chest. The steady rhythm of her life pounded on behind flimsy bone and cartilage, sending blood cruising and soul screaming. A wondrous sound, a roaring lioness whose teeth would never blunt even in death. Her failure to object sealed her fate, the implicit agreement a binding contract.

"I curse you." Shu rasped, broken voice shaking as he poured all of his emotions into his words, flowing from his heart and out his mouth as the curse laden with overflowing power settled over Lady Kaneshiro's shoulders in a heavy immovable blanket of hurt, anger, and desperation. Behind them the flames crept closer, licking at the ground as Shu stared at the woman who had always done so much for their ruined village, her heart of steel supporting the rest of the Clan with stalwart loyalty. "I curse you, Lady Kaneshiro. That you will never die even if swords cut you down and the flames of hell burn you. You will wander aimlessly upon this grieving land never to find the merciful comfort of death until your duty to your child is fulfilled and he is brought into the world as the happiest son he can be. Until Shinigami-sama has deemed your life well lived, your maternal duties carried out to completion, and the ancestors themselves look upon your form with awe, I curse you to live.

"Now run. Run Kaneshiro, may you outpace the winds that chase you and never feel the pain in your legs. Don't look back and flee this ruined, wretched place at once!" With those words, the woman immediately leapt to her feet as if Death itself was on her heels and took off running, ripping her kimono as strong legs carried her trembling frame faster than any mortal could as the curse buried itself deep in her unwavering heart. The fires played off her face in a shroud of smoke and destruction and as Shu watched as she disappeared amongst the burning hills he wondered what expression she was making. If she resented him for sending her away. But he had at least saved a part of his Heart's greatest accomplishment and with that assurance he turned to the procession of bowing buildings that surrounded him on all sides, empty screams wailing for help as metal clashing against one another drowned them out along with sinister crackling, the fires consuming all in its path in vile plumes of black smoke. He couldn't see the distinctive flash of Inari magic and found comfort in the fact that Prospero had chosen to remove their presence from this mess, leaving the compound before disaster befell it with a jaunty wave and cocky smirk. As a servant of the kami of prosperity, there was the slight irony that they had slipped away just as the Akuma clan was besieged, spelling out their own fate as Inari-sama left their side in the moment of their greatest need.

Above his head as he finally turned his face to the heavens, spinning in lazy circles as if admiring the destruction she had wrought was the Queen of the Dragons herself. The firelight glittered off azure scales as if the crowning jewel of devastation, expansive wings keeping her afloat as her veil fluttered under the whipping winds that only stoked the devouring flames. Under her crosshairs, the Akuma clan was nothing but a pest to be removed from her treasured lands and she would be the executioner of those helpless lives. While Shu didn't find much emotional attachment towards the clan or its members, they were Vox's. And what was his husband's was his. These were his people, his annoyances, his burdens. And gods help whatever poor soul tried to take a monster's possessions, they would put to shame even the most jealous of lovers. If they were to be pests in the eyes of the divine, then Shu would do his damnedest to make sure that they were cockroaches.

She was Holy in her every being, a monster that transcended the filth and sin that clung to inhuman hearts, not even a scrap or resentment could be grasped from the pure silks that shielded her form from the taint of the material world. But love, oh love that invaded and made even the most stalwart of creatures bend under its fickle whims, lived within her heart. Love for humanity, for her subjects, for destruction. Even the old well of love that had long since dried up under her solar gaze was a foothold for Shu to wrap his wretched curses around and yank the lofty ruler from her transcendent heights; sending her elegance crashing back into reality among the other crawling creatures she had set ablaze.

With a roar of her wretched name, Shu gathered around him what shikigami still remained. The whistle of dozens of folded paper servants echoed in the empty space of crackling fire and distant screams as if a death toll for all those consumed by Death who wandered through crumbling streets. Across from him, the land shuddered as a massive draconic beast alighted down behind its ruler, the flickering firelight reflecting off pure scales, dancing and wavering just as Elira pulled herself out of the rubble.

"Yamino." She spat, elegant silks ripped and darkened by dirts and soot. "I had hoped the rumours would be false but I see now that you've abandoned everything that we once strived towards. Truly, a Jujutsushi leaves nothing but curses and destruction trailing after his poisoned touch." Steadying herself against her familiar's haunches, the creature eclipsing her with its size, Elira glared at the approaching Jujutsushi caught under her ire.

He laughed humorlessly at that, the notion sending waves of revulsion wracking through his heart. "Remind me again who was it who abandoned us first? Who never came to my side even after I had been chased out of our house? Who stood by and watched as the humanity you so adored hurled curses and rocks at the wicked source of suffering, choosing between the more alluring of your obsessive treasures." Airing out the grievances between them, old festering hate that had bundled into explosive destain, Shu let the malevolent gods entrapped within spelled parchment run amok as they jeered and cackled at their for, letting their leash run long with a firm grip. "This is my thanks to you for throwing me into the mud. Without that, perhaps I never would have shackled myself to a demon, given my heart to a foreign chest and received one in return."

A furious roar punctuated his declaration as red beaded over pearlescent scales. The satisfied titters of the curse made Shu smile wider, watching as thin rivers of red scattered themselves over the majestic beast's bejewelled skin. It was a cacophony of chortling cackling, corruption feasting on the spilled blood of a creature jealousy hunted. Unharmed through it all, Elira peeled her lips back into an animalistic snarl that looked beautiful upon the face of another monster, humanity flaking off her meticulous mask.

"What happened that day has weighed heavy on my mind but I do not regret any action that I took." Elira defended bluntly as her familiar let out a majestic howl, the flames that arced over the sun turning crowing gods into ashes. The winds rippled around her, wide brimmed sleeve beckoning the tides of misfortune as the sheer fabric haloed her divine presence. "Under these ashes, I'll bury our sins and wash your curse free. I didn't want to do this, Yamino, but you leave me no choice. For my people, for humanity, for what we once held towards one another in our foolish youth, you will never see the next sunrise!"

Her declaration was once again punctuated by a draconic rumble of agreement, the beast throwing its horned head back but this one sounds distinctively different and that split second observation proved true when the earth trembled under the sudden weight that it had to now shoulder. Rivets of red spill from the familiar's mouth, dying ivory fangs pink as the earth eagerly soaked up the nourishing liquid. As the once lofty queen gaped at the sight of her fallen familiar with an expression that Shu found he quite liked as even the ever concealing veil couldn't hide her clear eyes blown wide in disbelief, he stepped forward and summoned an empty shikigami between his fingers.

"Keep going." He taunted with a vicious grin leering over the befuddled queen. "What was it about you purifying me? Can't quite do that when poor Solaris is too injured to fight, no? How about you do it yourself, with your own hands. Don't falter now, Queen of Dragons, you're so close to your goals it's just within your grasp. Simply reach out and wrap your hands around my throat and it will all be over." Cursed eyes raked appraisingly over the pathetic ragged heaving of a once proud creature, watching as the freed gods jeered over its fallen form, tethered through the magic that ran amok among the dragon's veins. Once Shu had cradled the hatchling in his arms, its magnificent snout small enough to nip harmlessly at his fingers, but now even though it towered over even his husband’s satiated strength, he found himself unable to find anything other than distant interest in the beast that once gazed at him with with innocent adoration.

That apathy all too quickly hardened into ice as he watched the more bloodthirsty of the spirits dig their spectral claws into brilliantly scaled armour, ineffective claws ripping through nothingness as they swiped away. Honestly, the moment Shu left these troublemakers free of their leash, they returned to their old destruction as if they hadn't been mercifully saved from such cruel fates. When it came to old malevolent gods, Shu mused as he severed the curses at the root, they would only ever be a slave to their nature.

Before the newly freed curses could even think of enjoying their freedom, Shu's beckon bound them once again to flimsy folded bodies, their tormented screams to the unfair world going unheard by all. Solaris' breathing evened out and the familiar passed into a slumber that reknit torn muscles and flushed out the lingering curses that kept the beast under, hazy eyes reflecting its master's rage.

“How could you?!” She roared, the creak of shifting bones loud even above the roar of licking wildfires. Eyes that reflected the vast freedom of the cloudless skies glimmered and dazzled under the firelight, flecks of fool's diamonds rolling down veiled cheeks. "Enough of this, you will hurt my people no longer! If you wish for it to come to this, then it will be with my own hands that I smite you."

The silks that enshrouded her arms rippled as the encased limb contorted and grew in accordance with the draconic nature that ran in Elira's soul. Skin as blue as the ice enclosing her heart peeked out from under the ripped holy cloth as she shot forward without so much as a warning, sublime wings powering her rapid approach.

Though prepared for such fierce attacks, heels digging firmly into the ashen dirt, Shu still faltered under the power of a Queen, arms aching as he redirected the attack into a glancing blow. And thus began their waltz of malice, a dragon's unrelenting assault hitting nothing but charred cloth and smokey air as lean arms trembled under the strain. Sparks of a dragon's flames licked up her scaled claws, whipped into a frenzy by the winds that flew at her back, Elira's dominion aiding their queen in battle. In retaliation, azure tongues entangled themselves with the competing flames smothering one another in a battle for dominance.

With each lunging swipe brushed off and blocked blow, Shu could feel his body erode under the royal demand of the highest power, mana sputtering as he simply was no match for a being that far surpassed his own. That was the rule of their world after all, the strong prevailed and to those foolish enough to bite the hands that nestled them under all encompassing wings, then an equal retribution for their betrayal was to be expected. But he never expected his legs to be the first to fail, knee buckling as pain exploded along the pale bend still littered with faint marks of possession.

In that split moment of shock, Shu felt the membrane of his wing give way as his ribs splintered and collapsed under the Queen's firm fist ripping into his torso as cartilage couldn’t hope to resist against greedy hands. Lithe fingers wrapped around something in him but Shu's mouth would always move faster than thieving hands trapped in his own domain.

In an array of flames and smoke dyed with his blood and demise, Shu leapt away to put distance between himself and his heartache, catching his breath with heaving gulps and ignoring how each blink dislodged tears of sweat from his eyelashes, copper flooding each precious intake of air. As he glanced down to assess the damage, a curse on his lips, he shuddered to see the ribbons of flesh that clung on barely forming something recognizable as his legs. Abrasions he recognized from a past of washing Solaris' flank lay scattered along the bloodied skin and Shu bit back a growl at the physical representations of his cocky carelessness, the unavoidable gaping hole in his chest almost mocking him in its dizzying viscera. Even if victory was a foregone conclusion, to simply hand over his defeat on a rusted platter was an act that his ruthless pride could never accept.

"Ready to submit your wretched self to me now, Yamino?" Elira's voice rang clear as the crackling flames dimmed and she stepped forward with all consuming majesty. Haloed by the destruction wrought before her hand which held a sluggishly beating organ, she glowed with power beyond comprehension. Those who did manage to catch a glimpse of it became nothing but ash at her feet, another memory plucked away by the River of Time.

He knew the image he cut in strict dichotomy, illuminated by the harsh fence of flames reaching for the heavens as crimson tides ran sluggishly down his tattered robes, manic grin fixed in place despite it all. A wretched devil and an enlightened god. "Make me, Pendora." He spat, baring his bloody teeth with hackles raised.

Even under the ashes of his home, Shu could see the last traces of warmth bleed out from cold eyes, leaving nothing but objective rationale in its wake. "I see." She intoned, the high collar wrapped around untouched skin splitting in twine to make room for the holy light that glowed radiant judgement. "I had held out foolish hope that you would have answered differently but it seems you are intent on mocking my mercy. You know what we do to curses who have grown to your calibre, Yamino. Be swallowed up in your own foolishness O wretched nameless cur and perhaps if you are as strong as you boast, then survive and reclaim what you once were."

The pulsating organ bulged against Elira's iron grip, fighting desperately to escape as Shu crumpled, strings that had kept him afloat shattering into silvers of alexandrite, glimmering faintly as the violet red hues of his life's sunset refracted pools of blood. Ashen dirt pillowed his burned cheeks as strength flocked towards the victor, infection festering in open wounds oozing puss and Shu could feel his chest tighten with a splatter of stolen flesh, hollowness settling in familiar comfort in his gaping chest.

It didn't escape his dulling senses that he was simply a trapped beast at the mercy of a higher being, and Shu knew that this was his end. This curse would fizzle out with great shame, unable to complete its master's wishes and under an indifferent gaze and polarized staurolite. But the Curse known as Yamino Shu could not simply be exorcised with nothing but empty affection where once held something deadlier. No, he would bite back twice hard and never let go until the last tooth was ripped from his mouth.

"I curse you! The head of the Jujutsushi clans curses you, Elira Pendora! That you will never soar on wings of your own, that the beauty bestowed upon you by the glorious sun will wither into a mere tendril! You will forever more crawl on your belly and gnash your teeth for the skies so close that will never be in your grasp. Let the Queen of the Dragon's be stripped of her pride and her arrogance just as you have ripped away my gifted heart, our pain tied together in our promised union. Let my husband's grief be yours, separated from his life blood right before his eyes and unable to ever turn back time. Curse my name upon the tongue that once whispered it with reverent love, bemoan that with your own hand, you brought this curse upon yourself! And know that in Mara, I will be laughing." Shu howled breathlessly, unable to stop the manic cackling that spilled out of his chest in pooling red. Even through death blurred eyes, he could see the miasma gather around the delicate crown sitting low on the Queen's devine back and he could only grin viciously and brace for the inevitable pain.

Hellfire rained from the setting sun as Elira was decrowned with a shrill shriek, flesh and membrane burning in unison as the curse consumed all in its merciless path until its gluttonous appetite had been fulfilled and nothing but skeletal remains replaced once resplendent wings. Shu could only viciously grin at the show even as he felt his core melt under exalted flames that purified the sin that constructed his existence, skin, flesh, and bone fusing together under the heat until they all became an unidentifiable mess of viscera and decay.

Distantly, Shu relished in the bitter ash irony that both times he had been stolen away from his family had been at the hands of the voracious element his curses so adored to take form in. To die and be reborn in fire, baptized in the cursed tongue of light again and again. Though this time, Shu found solace with his loneliness, only the wails of a fallen queen and soft chuffs of her familiar keeping him company rather than harried screams of his name. It was better this way.

Before the last of his awareness burned away, perhaps he could delude himself into hearing his name sung upon copper ash winds, a siren song forcing himself to watch the flicker of something that shone brighter than the flames of judgement upon his sinner's soul. It wavered and pulsated, alive and demanding his attention as if calamity would befall if its calls went unheeded.

But really, Shu was already dead. What could ever possibly be worse than the loss of his own life?

He let his tired lids flutter close one final time, empty eyes never seeing the field of blooming spider lilies left in his raging heart's wake.

[Read more]
Posted: Thu, 16/11/2023 07:20 (20 Days ago)

Like always, Shu woke up with a soft touch running across his scalp, playing with his hair.

He hummed, leaning into the warm brush of fingers as he sleepily begged for more. A chuckle sounded above him, heavy and rumbling through his body as the fingers obliged and carded through his tangled hair in comforting waves. Carefully clipped nails gently teased apart the many knots and tangles that had twisted themselves into his hair throughout the night, careful to ease them loose without any unnecessary tugging. A pleasant shiver ran down his spine as the deft hands gently tugged on a pierced ear without any warning.

"Come now, you surely aren't going to spend our whole morning in bed, no?" The heavy purr rolled over his body and it took everything in Shu's sleep hazed power to crack open an eye and glance up towards the speaker. The same sight greeted him every morning, his lover draped in black and red silks that blended in with his gentle hair that fell in cascades, partitioning them from the outside world. Impossibly soft gold eyes regarded him with a fond smile as a painted fingernail gently brushed over his cheek, each exhale lingering in the other's lungs for the briefest of moments. A smile curled over soft lips and clear eyes crinkled with unquenchable affection. "Good morning, my little bellflower. It's time to wake and embrace the day."

Damn his stupid husband and his ability to wake up and smile as if the sun hadn't wronged him by cresting over the horizon to draw him out of his slumber, turning black skies grey with its impending arrival. Shu groaned, rolling over to hide his face in Vox's stomach, sturdy arms coming up to wrap them around his waist. "I would much rather you embrace me." He mumbled, closing his eyes once again as the pull of sleep was irresistible for one who had just escaped its gentle clutches, whispering cloying and enticing promises. There was a snort from up above him just as he felt himself take Sleep's hand and he felt calloused hands wrap around his waist, gentle and barely touching the skin.

"Are you sure about that, darling?" His husband murmured, a smile curling into his voice and despite stubbornly keeping his eyes closed, the familiar curve of his lips embedded in his heart. Shu didn't find such a meaningless question fit to answer, instead making himself comfortable and let himself fall under Sleep's beckoning curse. Such luxury would inevitably be taken away from him as he would be forced to get up and attend to his duties but for just a moment longer, Shu just wanted to spend some time with his paramour. In this single moment, stretched infinitesimally long, it was only them. Nothing else existed and Shu could only bask in the moment of peace that came in the bare hours between rest and waking.

Unfortunately, betrayal always hurt the most when they came from those you held closest to your heart.

With a firm grip, Vox grabbed Shu's waist and in one smooth motion had thrown him over his shoulder with a sonorous laugh, ripping him away from his plush futon's cloying warmth from a night spent in each other's embrace with a startled yelp. "None of that, my love! It's time to get up for the devil certainly waits for no one. Not even you, bellflower." Vox's arrogant words would only continue to ring clearly and joyously around the compound as all those who were in Akuma castle would surely hear before they saw their Lord carrying his wife in his steady embrace, the Jujutsushi weakly protesting and begging to be set down for it was much too embarrassing to be seen carried around by his own husband. But the servants were much too used to such a sight, only offering the Yamino Clan’s head their greetings while going about their business, all with the fondest of smiles as they watched their Lord romp through the halls in a manner unbefitting of a man of his illustrious standing.

Looking at the Yamino Clan of the past, one would be hard pressed to think that its main compound held its pride as one of the strongest Jujutsu clans. The humble single hut, not unlike those found in farming villages, that served as the Clan's ancestral home was in desperate need of repairs despite being perfectly serviceable, a small homey abode for a small family. One look and any outsider would refuse to acknowledge that such a humble farmer's home as the abode for the head of Jujutsu society, welcoming in its simplicity yet so isolated. Fitting for the Yaminos who always helped when they could, extending a helping hand yet never lingering for long.

But for a family of curse bearers, they lived comfortably with only themselves to lean on. Shu had learned from a young age that this was simply the way of life, that even though outside of the house there were others, it was always best to only rely on yourself. Once others learned of his curses, they would only shun them, leading to more pain. Help all those you meet, but don't ever get attached is what his Grandmother once told him, gently patching up his bleeding temple from where a stray rock had clipped him, knees scraped and bruises welting over alabaster skin. They were creatures far removed from others at the end of it, living lives much longer than any mortal and often when faced with the unknown or creatures that defied preconceived expectations, humans would always react with fear and violence.

Humans were beautifully cruel creatures, smiling while they slipped poison into your water.

Perhaps that was why he had found a home with a demon.

Equally inhuman, hand in unlovable hand.

And as Vox paraded around the castle, one hand firmly on his ass (because this was his husband, of course he would) and bellowing voice loudly proclaiming that 'The Demon Lord of Akuma Castle and His Wife are coming through!', Shu couldn't help but hide his mirth behind a careful hand, his other gently hitting his husband’s shoulder, careful as to not prick the smooth skin. "My Lord, would you not take pity on this one and set him down? Certainly, he has the strength to carry his own weight." Shu laughed, kicking his legs pointedly as he gently squirmed in Vox's hold. It never got any less embarrassing no matter how many times it happened, paraded around the compound, but his heart only fluttered with fondness as Vox's dramatics only grew in faux offence.

"That's my wife you speak of, scoundrel! Watch your tongue, for my wife must be carried wherever he must go, even if he does so wish to simply laze in the comfort of our shared bed. Where he loathes to walk, I will do in his stead!” Vox roared, squeezing Shu's waist tighter as he only walked faster. The stunned silence only lasted for a moment before Shu threw his head back, laughing uproariously as he leaned his head against the small of Vox's back, resigning himself to his fate. What a wondrous husband he had, treating him as if they were naught but young beaus once again in the throes of spring courtship despite being married for more years than they had been courting. Each day was a blessing for monsters such as them and Vox never failed to impart his smitten devotion upon his wife as if it would be his final and greatest act, even if his dignity came as its price. Even now, lying limp and ungraceful, the very image of everything the Lady of the castle should not be, Vox still worshiped him in adoring fervor and in return, Shu too shed a small part of his dignity to indulge in these bombastic displays of love.

At least like this, he had a marvellous view of his husband's butt.

The process of getting ready for the coming day was as monotonous as ever, Shu succumbing to the siren call of sleep as he submerged himself in the pleasantly warm water of their private baths, head almost knocking against Vox's chest as he slumped against sturdy corded muscle, deft fingers lathering suds into his burned skin. Callused hands ran over the pocked scars, rubbing creams and soap into the rough texture with unconditional adorant reverence. They took extra care as they danced over the ruined membrane of his lame wing, manipulating the heavy appendage with all the gentleness of an attentive beau. His heavy eyelids closed of their own accord, pulled down by the gentle humming that echoed throughout the small onsen that was theirs and theirs only, the gentle trickle of water running down stone and dripping into the bath cutting through the early morning silence. Even when water cascaded down his shoulders, washing away the soap and suds, Shu leaned against Vox as the other proceeded to wash himself, sleepily helping to rub away any lingering sweat or grime though he only did enough to clean a large enough area to plop his head back down against his husband's shoulder and drift off again. Their hearts pulsed as one as they both sat in silence for a moment, one simply savoured the moment while another embraced the company of Morpheus, basking in the shared presence of the other half of their soul.

The gentle fleeting moment was gone as quickly as it came as in the distance the cry of a crow signalled the start of their day, full of a meaningless tirade of entertaining passing warlords looking down upon their small haven or the more rewarding work of walking amongst the people and lifting with their worries. But as important as helping those in desperate need was, appearances were too. To those who came to broker peace with the Lord of Akuma Castle, striking golden eyes framed by red would always hold more power than a simple yukata and a haori draped over his shoulders, the elegance and wealth Vox had to wield just to command the respect he rightfully deserved irked Shu to no end. And in much the same fashion, the same was expected of him as the Lord's one and only wife, clothed with silks and material that cost more than it weighed. Vox always seemed to take immense pleasure in watching his paramour be dolled up in patterned cloth that eluded Shu's comprehension yet he could get the appeal. The formality that Vox wore much like a second layer often made his heart skip a few beats.

Especially when he wore a ponytail.

Gods above, the things Shu would do for the love of his eternal life with his silken hair pulled back.

Gathering up the thick strands, running a fine-tooth comb through them, Shu hummed a nonsensical tune as the delicate rustling of paper followed each beat. These simple moments where Shu was simply allowed to breathe, playing with his husband's hair as they got ready to present themselves before the world were ones that he would hold closest to his chest. With practiced ease, a simple red rope corded in age old patterns held up the gentle hair in a simple yet powerful high ponytail (which sent a hot stone dropping in his gut), leaving a few strands to gently rest over his shoulders and frame hard-earned muscles. The front Shu carefully styled with tasteful statement pieces, affixing one of his wedding gifts onto the ebony hair with care, mindful of long fingers and the delicate horns that adorned his crown.

Scooting himself over so he could reach the low table that held all of their many many eclectic accessories, Shu slid another coil of red rope off the polished wood and gently wrapped it around his beloved's neck. Once, twice, the red was pulled taunt against pale skin as Shu tugged at the tension experimentally. "It would be so easy." He murmured, hands stilling as he observed the implicit trust given freely and abundantly to a creature whose blood ran black with the curses of his family line. One nail gently ran across the cords braided to speak of devotion and adoration, thin strands parting like water before his touch. Would a demon's skin be as soft, splitting under his touch with such reverent capacity?

He asked as if he didn't already know the answer. As if Vox didn't willingly peel back his skin to expose every dirty crevice of his wretched existence for Shu's smitten filled gaze only, reverent touches enough to have him bleeding all his sorrows and pains.

"Indeed, it would." Vox hummed, setting down a report and picking up another one and scanning over the painted words, not once paying much mind to his wife's morbid musings. What a cute game of tug of war that Shu would always win despite Vox's many attempts to the contrary. "Would you, my heart? It's yours to take if only you ask."

"With my own wedding gift? You'd be ecstatic" Shu huffed out, clasping the bloody choker shut with a smile. Adjusting it so that it curled cloyingly around an unmarked neck (whilst also resisting the urge to rectify that specific descriptor), he reached for the next accessory, only managing to hook his slender nails around the delicate metal before he was pulled back onto Vox's lap by his waist, trapped in place with strong arms.

"My wife knows me so well." The answering hum had Shu sighing, exasperated fondness permeating his every action as he reached up towards his obsession’s devilishly handsome face, ring in hand. "Oh my, asking me to marry you once again? You don't even have to ask, bellflower, the answer will always be yes." What a fool, acting as if Shu wasn't holding their wedding ring between his fingers, the gold glittering under the bright sun filtering through the shogi doors as it projected dancing patterns on the tatami. It was a delicate piece of work as thin bands of metal twisted and connected, forged in the fires of Shu's own magic as it held within it the greatest curse he could ever have the cruel misfortune of bestowing, beauty glossing over its monstrous nature. A physical manifestation of everything that Vox was to him. Rolling his eyes, ever fond of the silly antics that only dragged out their rare and precious mornings together, Shu gently cradled his face with one hand and leaned up to press a gentle kiss onto his cheek, slipping the ring onto his demon's horn in one simple motion. The gold glittered among the filigree, sparkling in the early morning light and suddenly Shu couldn't breathe as the encroaching sunlight bathed his hollowed heart in the warmest shades of veneration, golden eyes blown wide in the face of it all.

Clearing his throat, Shu gently extracted himself from the ginger embrace, shuffling over to the low table to grab the horn caps. He was aware of how much devotion his smitten husband had for him but it still never failed to bowl him over just how vast that emotion stretched, an endless gulf that swallowed him whole and kept him cradled gently against its gentle waves and comforting presence. Unchanging and stalwart, always giving and expecting nothing in return while sometimes even spitting gifts back out onto its banks.

The other accessories were placed on without much extra fuss, perhaps because Shu was quite flustered enough and Vox was taking pity on him (or perhaps it was because they were taking far too much time just getting ready), and as Shu wrapped the heavy and elaborately dyed obi, leaning against Vox's ample chest in order to wrap the thick fabric around his waist while tying on the many coloured beads and tassels that denoted his position as head of the house, slipping his sword in to secure the sheath in place he allowed himself a fleeting moment of filthy indulgence and indulged in the warm support of hard earned gains, unwilling to move as he passes the river of gold once, twice around the oni's waist. Of course, his nimble hands carried on the daily routine with the familiar manner in how an obi knot ought to be tied, working from memory alone as he pressed his cheek up against his beloved's supple body. Despite having the power to simply glamour himself in any form he wishes, Shu knows that the firm planes that are being hidden under the many layers of fabric with only a teasing silver peeking out from the cloth were all gained through physical labour and hard training, products of Vox's dedicated training and drive to create everything in his wretched existence with his own two hands. Admirable and a little arousing when that even applied to his own relationship, creating their obsession with a frenzied devoted passion.

By the time Shu had switched places with Vox, sitting down and grabbing a local report to read through while his long hair spilled out from between his inamorato’s fingers, the sun had cleared the horizon and Shu's shikigami had begun to float around to help their master get dressed. Wrapped in the layers of cloth that fanned out much like a certain flowery name Vox so adored to call him, the curling cloth fastened around his skin in a comfortable pressure. One of the shikigami boldly slipped his bodysuit on its master's figure, an affixed array of bones pressed over his chest with each one contoured to his body. For its bold impudence, Vox found it pertinent to flick the paper on its round head, sending the cursed familiar spinning through the air with a cacophony of tiny garbled screams that only Shu, as its summoner, could really hear. But even that would prove to be difficult as he couldn't hope to even contain the mirth that wracked his body.

Jealousy was not a new emotion to either of them, simmering along with their whirlpool of obsessive consumption to create a concoction that suited both their tastes. Yet to have it be directed towards a sentient piece of paper was quite amusing nonetheless if not quite cute, sending fondness ripping through his heart as Vox haughtily slid his headpiece in place, reaching for one of the many pins laid out. As expected, his hand naturally gravitated towards the golden polished pin, sleek and well worn as a testament to its constant use. The charms sang a twinkling ode as Vox gingerly held it between his fingertips, the gold shining against the rising sun. It was almost hilarious how both had chosen their own wedding gifts for the other to wear without second thoughts, a physical marker of their relationship in the form of ornaments and accessories claiming what was theirs through blood and wealth. Sliding the pin in place, Vox stepped back to admire him for a moment, Shu feeling the heavy gaze rake down his form despite wearing the same style for the many years that they had known each other, slowly turning him around to meet his eyes that almost seemed to melt under the weight of their devoted blasphemy. In one final act of reverence, Vox held the golden shackles in one hand, decorative in its weight and functionality though none of its intricately embossed detailing carved over its symbolism.

They said marriage was a shackle, that it was simply another tool from which power could be grasped, tying an ally close and enemies closer. "My curseling," his grandmother had once cooed with hoarse voices gained from lifetimes of memories, wizened hands that would cast the most beautiful of curses with steely determination shook as they braided her grandson's growing hair. "One day when your sister becomes the head, other clans will ask for your hand. They will vie and clamour for a chance to join our family but watch with a discerning eye, the darkness swallows all but only consumes those worthy enough. They objected to chaining my father to the family but Mother always trusted her gut and, in the end, had the final laugh when I was born. And now, though her soul has been subsumed back into the cosmos, she still laughs when she sees you." The shikigami who had thus been simply running a fine comb through her head of silver fluttered proudly at the claim, preening at the praise towards their master.

As always, the boundless wisdom she fonted was of sound mind and Shu found himself willingly locking his own cuffs, swallowing the key as he sealed their union. Marriage was a blissful curse, one that bound two unrelated parties into a vow of forever and Shu relished in it as Vox slid on his perverted symbol of matrimony onto delicate ankles and over the thin fabric of his personalized jika-tabi, demonic seals flaring to life. The metal contracted and pressed lovely welting bands into milky skin, pretty trinkets to the eyes of mortals but a shackle for the demonic, one that screamed ownership and dominance, the one who his life unequivocally belonged to pressing reverent kisses onto his feet.

"You make it so hard to hold myself back, my heart. Just look at you, perfect in every way possible as I stand before you as a simple creature; completely at your mercy." Vox whispered as he gazed up between heavy lashes, his painted hand coming up to cradle Shu's cheek, soft skin dipping under the devoted touch. It made him melt, soaking in the worship much like a flower before his sun.

Shu could only giggle breathlessly, holding onto the gentle hand that spilled blood and tore through corpses without any remorse before leaning down to finally connect their lips, pulling him up to hold as a treasure. It was a breathless affair, trading air between moving lips as they pressed their hearts into each other, bodies fitting against one another as they held each other close. Though it never progressed past anything more than simple chaste pecks that slid into each other in a dizzying array of affection, by the time they drew back from one another with flushed cheeks and smitten smiles the desire to push this further until the day was filled with nothing but each other and the company of their smitten consumption was tempting. But where Vox was weak as he pushed in for another kiss, Shu was stronger.

In a single deft motion, Shu reached behind him to fumble with their collection of makeup before his finger accidentally smeared itself in the cosmetic. While unpleasant to suddenly feel cold power coating delicate skin, it would work anyway as Shu grasped his husband's face in his hand before smudging the red paint over his forehead three times in quick succession. "Stay still, I can't paint the charms on you if you keep trying to steal my affection, freely given." Shu chided, fondly listening to his silly husband whine and complain but ultimately complied with his sound logic and dulcet voice. "If you're good, I'll give you a reward." He bargained, feeling behind him for the right tools to help paint dark shadows onto pale skin.

The promise of honeyed tenderness would entice even the most stalwart of men but for one as devout of a worshiper as his husband, it was unneeded. Despite its ornamental purpose, Shu always strove to give back threefold, the kindness and obsessive adoration that he received would never be placed in vain. Producing the powder and brush, Shu led Vox to sit back down on the tatami, crawling into his lap to work. He was aware of how unfair it was, Vox's minute trembling broadcasted to his fond gaze through their breathless proximity as hands that always wielded a sword with confidence struggled with its placement. Eventually, they settled into a comfortable position, or at least as comfortable as one could get whilst sitting on his husband's lap in a manner that wasn't meant to elicit any further activities that would drag out their cherished moments alone.

Unfortunately, reality would soon encroach upon their shared space and force them apart and thus Shu worked with a single-minded focus as he blended different powders to frame his husband's striking eyes. The Golden shimmer encased with red adornments pierced through even his own defences as Shu leaned back to admire his own work, pressed against the steady hands which bracketed his backside. Replacing the power with a red paste that still smeared itself over the soft ridges of his fingers from earlier antics, Shu dipped a fresh brush into the cosmetic and let out a breath. "What a blessed wife I am, to have such a handsome husband who attends to my very needs." He murmured, gently gliding the bristles over contoured skin. "How deep your love must be if I want for nothing yet still receive more than my dues, filling my heart with nothing but affection and devotion. Even if our fate rips us down different paths, joining another for the rest of their fleeting life, our souls still intertwine. The sun may set and a new one rises yet Yatagarasu-sama will always lead me to you."

"And me to you," Vox vowed; voice as sure as the sands of time that governed their existence. Though his eyes remained closed as red paint smeared over his lid, Shu didn't need to look into his eyes to know that Vox spoke with nothing but the utmost sincerity. "Until my heart ceases to beat, it will only move for you."

What sentimentality from a demon who had more than one heart to speak of, each one beating in tandem with a synchronous smitten mind. "Careful, My Lord. I might think you're smitten with me with such flowering promises." He simpered, tracing the spell with his finger to set it in place. Though unnecessary, Shu gently pressed a kiss to Vox's forehead before moving to set the paint back on the vanity, well practiced movements halted as a steady hand gently teased the cosmetic out of a clawed grip.

"And where did you ever get such an idea, my dearest wife?" Vox teased, flicking open the container and dipping the brush in. "Now stay still, bellflower, as you have placed your curse upon me, so too are you branded with such smitten adoration." Shu couldn't help the possessive shiver that ran down his spine at those words, letting his eyes flutter shut as he felt the cold cosmetic stick to his skin. There was no hesitation to be found in the steady strokes, a practiced fluidity that came from drawing their seal over and over again as steady as the rising sun. Red to match the sweeping wings that lined his eyes, a whole set so different from the singular one attached to his broken body. Those thoughts didn't have a chance to linger when Vox gently tilted his head up, bristles gliding down his nose bridge as if reminding Shu to only pay attention to his greedy husband who always demanded nothing but everything. What a monster his lover was, consuming everything with a voracity that was unmatched by any mortal. Though for the inhuman like them it was nothing short of the greatest deceleration of infatuated devotion one could ever hope to receive.

Even after the brush had left his face leaving only Vox's hands to engulf his cheek with reverent awe as the silence that blanketed them felt nothing more than home, Shu didn't dare open his eyes. Opening them meant that his ephemeral dream was coming to an end, the indescribably precious moments that seemed to stretch on forever only to be lost in a curtain of smoke in the blink of an eye. A thumb ran under his eye, smudging the red ever so slightly as the deep almost ragged breaths that Shu could feel puff against his cheek, a reward for the trust he would gladly and blindly put in his monstrous beau’s hands time and time again. The whispered confessions that Vox pressed against his lips as he drew them together only confirmed it, the hot slide of desire coursing both of their bodies traded through the desperate kisses they imparted on each other. Lingering affection passed back and forth, wandering hands drawing over skin and fabric. Everything and anything yet not enough all at once. "Vox, we have to go," Shu murmured as his husband swallowed his half-hearted complaints, pressing deeper until Shu could do nothing but give in and melt under the affection that invaded his very being. "The day awaits for no one, not even for you, my brilliant camellia. Though you bloom beautifully under our obsession, it is our people who must bask under your radiant warmth. I am not selfish enough to steal your glory all for this one's lonesome."

"You should be." Vox pouted petulantly, pulling away almost reluctantly. "I would gladly let you steal me and lock me in a room where it was only us for all eternity, rejoicing under your touch."

"Alas, an impossibility." Shu sighed, forlorn yet not opposed to the sudden distance as wistful smiles were traded between them as if a childish secret between young suitors. After all, it was the chase that gave their life the spark they all so dearly held as Vox worked tirelessly to close that negligent gap that kept their relationship in a perpetual state of teasing and fleeting moments in which they pulled each other into their orbit, the pulsating beat of an endless dance that would never quite finish despite the wedding gifts that they displayed proudly, swaying under the gentle rhythm of their besotted affections. "Come now, husband. The sun rises anew and our people await their Lord."

As Shu busied himself with the small packets of cosmetics, placing powders and dirtied brushes into neat piles for the servants to pick up later, the soft sound of metal brushing against one another sounded as Vox too placed their jewelry back into their respective boxes. "And my wife forgot his soul, leaving it quite unattended. Whatever would you do if you didn't have me to catch such disastrous oversights." The mellow chuckle sounded right behind him, a low sound that sat pleasantly in the base of Shu's stomach as a light clink against his shoulder drew his attention to the crescent moon trinket that now cradled a purple orb, swirling with galaxies and nebulae as the clouds that once obscured the fogged glass slowly circled the piece of their soul. While not exactly a wedding gift in the traditional sense, perhaps it was the most important physical object that Shu could ever own. Their twined souls entangled forever in a never ending waltz, the glass walls keeping their inseparable obsession trapped in a bottle for all to see.

"It would simply cease to exist if that were to happen." Came the exasperated yet no less fond reply as he tucked his hands into patterned furisode sleeves. After all, what was marriage to monsters who lived an entire human lifetime in the blink of an eye, the infantasmal passage of time only a background thought as the years passed as if they were days. While lives would come and go as surely as the tides swept over the shore, the soul would remain unchanged and for a creature whose blackened core was full of malice and curses, it was no wonder how an equally tainted soul would take his hand and lavish it with unending affection. The Lady of the Castle beamed up at his husband who gingerly lay a hand against the crook of his elbow, his other one supporting his back as they carefully rose from the tatami. With a slide of the shogi, the two made their way toward the audience chambers, each gentle footfall muffled by their bare feet and the rusting of fabric. It was an easy robe to wear, the fraying fabric of being his husband's right hand, attesting to its continued use. But it was one Shu still wore with pride nevertheless as he glided alongside the one who would give him the world on a silver platter if only he asked whilst burning it down for his own ambitions.

As the two settled into the daily rhythm, receiving audiences and listening to the masses who pleaded for refuge or updates on the lands, so too did their respective personae slide into place. The Lord of the Castle simply kept his smile carefully crafted, exuding none of the warmth and affection that he freely gave behind the prying eyes of the world, a tenderness between unfeeling monsters only witnessed by the moon and his children. His wife, as all were expected to do, simply sat by his side, slender legs tucked under an equally delicate body, head downturned though attentive at all times for the moment that his unique expertise would be required. And called upon the Lady of the house was, moving before the word could even be spoken with an otherworldly fluidity. Those who gazed upon the Lord's right hand would only wonder if such a creature could even exist, poised elegance with a beauty that seemed almost fabricated. A flowering amaryllis full of mystery and grace who flourished under the watchful red eye of the peony. Two flowers who bloomed intertwined as their judging gaze fell upon the begging masses. Those who were given a roof under the village roof were led to the right by the Lady while specific clients were escorted to the left, all with a bow and nary a chirp from the silent beauty. No one quite questioned how no one saw those who passed through the left ever leave the compound, much like those who wished to leave did so without even a whisper, much too entranced by the castle's Lord and the garden that surrounded him.

When the sun had reached its zenith, its indiscriminate gaze burning through the earth and withering even the hardiest of plants, the Lord of the area finally called an end to the meetings. There were other things to attend to even as he had already seen to all who had come to seek his aid, tone dismissive as he flicked away persistent gnats that hounded after his fickle attention, his wife trailed three steps behind him as any spouse would be expected to do. For that was the essence of a peaceful life amidst the growing war under the protection of creatures beyond mortal comprehension, perfection trapped in the first intake of breath and the golden hour of life that comes and goes in a blink of an eye; too quick to grasp onto but just enough to hold for eternity in fallible memory.

"How are they?" The Lord asked, powerful strides sliding into something more relaxed, the rod that set his shoulders in a firm line smoothing out. With each step taken, the Demon Lord of the lands melted away to become Akuma-sama, the man whom children would tug at his haori and women would gossip with. Gone was the master who judged with impartial eyes and a voice of steel, a mask of bureaucracy moulding perfectly to his contours for the sake of the people whose very lives depended on the alluring voice that charmed even the most stubborn of warlords to leave their lands to their hard earned peace, both through a persuasive tongue and blade.

Falling into step with his lord, arms linking together as naturally as the moon would chase his sister through the heavenly halls and she in turn teasing him with the barest slivers of light, Shu laughed softly at such a ridiculous question. What other answer would there be? "Cursed as they should be." He smiled as if he hadn't condemned bands of bandits and merchants to a fate worse than death, the power of his magic still thrumming under his veins, heady with the power that came with his curses. "Anyone who was seeking refuge is with Endou-san. Asuma-san is asking around to see if the families are to be trusted while the rest are preparing the houses so they may be serviceable upon their arrival, each family working as efficiently as always. My Lord’s protected are always so eager to help.”

“It’s all because my wife always does everything with only the best of his infinite abilities.” Vox purred, pressing a kiss against Shu’s crown that had him batting away the affection with a giggle, unable to escape very far from the magnet pull that linked their hearts together, drawing them into each other's orbit without fail. "So hardworking, what say we depart from the castle? No doubt from all that labour you must be quite hungry."

His mirth barely abated as Shu let his laughter course through his form, not even bothering to cover his mouth. "Famished." A lazy tongue whetted his lips as he leered, leaning against hands that would always catch him, knowing that no matter how he fell, so too would his heart.

The answering hunger stole his breath away and gave it back in one simultaneous breath

There was never any lack of food on Akuma lands, streets filled with hawkers and the sound of sizzling grills. Buns, veggie skewers, deserts, delicacies and signature foods of all kinds wafted through the air.

And Shu was more than spoiled for choice.

Devouring the malevolent resentment that lingered over thatched roofs and dug its claws into bitter warriors, the Jujutsushi lapped at the tar that trickled down his wrist. Black as the volatile emotions that had formed it in the first place, full of a fire that burned his stomach and ignited his curses, it was a nutritious meal that Shu could spend hours gorging himself on, drunk off the heady power of it all. Under his feet, strewn limbs removed from their owners and scattered in an omen of their own demise, framing its disembodied head, a nameless traitor drowned under the suffocating curse that had found a home in the river surrounding Akuma Castle. What a nasty one it was, manifesting as only the most innocuous of animals, glittering scales reflecting the cursed waters, a simple mackerel that swam among the rapids that carried miasma along its choppy currents as if it was naught but a babbling brook, nipping traitorous deserters by the heel, tendons severing as easily as their loyalty. The same creature brushed against Shu's ankle, the easy glide of its bleeding scales gentle against the skin of the master it served.

"I will never understand mortals," his husband drawled, taki-ashida geta discarded as callused feet dipped into a river that screamed in anguish under a chorus of vengeful souls swallowed by the siren's jaws. Human skin shed to reveal a satiated demon as inhuman wings, wide, expansive, and all the more terrifying than the lame deadweight that hung off Shu's collarbone draped across the greenery. "That they chose to leave when only the purest of dahlias bloom among these banks."

Talons that had easily shorn through flesh as if naught but a single bushel of flax grazed against the velvet petals, black tips plucked the vibrant red and held it up under the withering sun as it scattered into ash and soot leaving only a sinful smear of soot residue against pure skin. "What a shame, I had taken quite a liking to those flowers." Shu sighed, the shikigami who followed after him much like obedient puppies flitting around him to soak black and reds into their paper bodies, the gods that resided within them soaking up the malevolence as if deprived of its nutrients for much too long. "I can only hope that our new seeds don't rot quite as quickly…"

Wading through the shallows, breathing in the air saturated with cursed vengeance as his darkened kimono trailed after him in the murky waters fanned out much like the blooming petals of a pedigree breed, Shu gratefully took his husband's outstretched hand and was pulled up onto the banks. Water slid off his body, heavy fabric that one drowned in deceit and guilt emerging without a wick of moisture clinging to it. The moment he was on sturdy ground, red and black washed away by the undertow, Shu giggled as he was predictably swept off his feet and into Vox's orbit, an arm tucking under his thighs to prop him up. Any further sound was swallowed up, muffled as they traded desperate passion with open arms and eager lips.

From his parted mouth, Vox plundered from the blackened tar and viscus desperation the tainted human soul that lay at the core of each emotion, drawing it out with a delicate frenzy that left Shu's knees weak. If it hadn't been for Vox's sturdy arms lifting him up to bridge their dizzying height difference when all guises were thrown into uncaring currents, surely Shu would have crumpled into a boneless heap in his husband's embrace. But even monsters were living creatures, abominations that they were, and soon they would separate with gasping breaths, faces flushed in a red that warmed suntanned skin.

"My heart, you can't do this every time I feed. Stop stealing my food, get your own." Shu chuckled breathlessly, hooking his arms around steady shoulders and gazing back at the mutual obsession reflected in amber.

"But what if it did?" His vibrant stubbornness shone against the dreary background as Vox leered at him, sending flutters down Shu's spine. "What if I devoured your very essence just as you gorge yourself on filthy desire, partaking in my own feast that only I may be invited to."

The flames of possession curled in his stomach, hot purple and all consuming. It licked and roared, urging him to take what was his in curse laid hands until it became ash to be scattered with his final exhale. Under his palms, he could feel his magic spark and shiver under the promised destruction, egging their master on as his pale wrists brushed against a vulnerable neck. Until the end of time, even if their immortal lives finally expired and their souls returned to the stars that had created them with spite and disgust, Vox was his to devour no matter who held his eternal heart. His teeth ached with the need that burned him alive, filling his fragile body.

Too bad he had been burned alive once before.

Leaning forward as Shu felt snaking demonic wings bracket them in a private cocoon of their making, he leaned in to close the distance as he let blunt teeth sink into soft flesh, copper teasing his senses before allowing reprieve from the unexpected torture. "Halt now, too much lust is unbecoming. Have I not said that if you were to behave, I would reward you? Has my integrity been so compromised that my own husband disregards my faithful promises?"

Perhaps he took a bit too much joy in teasing his dearest, watching the demon sulkily lick the beading red, furrowed eyebrows unbecoming of a Lord who wanted for nothing and took as easily as stealing from an infant. "My darling wife, how you think so lowly of your husband to be swayed by mere integrity. From the moment I asked to be yours and presented my heart with open hands, I knew of your tarnished nature and deceit yet the pinched face of an alluring serpent only beckoned me closer till gossamer scales had squeezed dry the integrity from my own giving heart." Vox sighed, pouting as he waxed his sob story of bewitchment and subsequent entrapment. It was in all manners, endearing and Shu gripped soft cheeks between the thumb and second knuckle, tugging playfully on the skin.

"Rogue. What silver did you coat your tongue with, scoundrel?" He laughed, only showing mercy once he deemed Vox's begging to be suitably pitiful enough. "How dare, you surely shackled yourself to me for more than this 'pinched face' as you so lovingly described."

Vox whined again, rambling platitudes spilling from alluring lips as he grovelled before the one creature that could hope to cow him into submission. Many would kill for the chance to see the mighty Lord of one of the last pockets of peace in these war ridden times debase himself with pleas of forgiveness. For the Lady of the house though, it was an almost daily affair. Husbands would rule the lands but the moment he stepped over the threshold, Wives would be their masters, or so many of the gossiping women in the settlement liked to titter.

Stroking a stinging cheek with the back of his hand, Shu could only sigh fondly as black residue smeared all over the gentle rise of his cheek. "Come now, enough of this unsightly display. Does the Demon Lord not have more to do than be a menace towards your ever faithful wife?"

"What more is so important that it takes precedence over you?" Vox retaliated, hand darting up to envelop Shu's own, sword callused grip completely swallowing his own. Caressing his gloved knuckles with a gentleness afforded to no one other than his intertwined soul, drowning in a curse of his own making.

The flutter of paper reminded them of their duties as a shikigami burst into flames beside his face, brilliant shades of violent purple and red illuminating their shared universe. Unperturbed by the rush of information that flickered in the wild dance of supernatural flames, Shu could feel a smile spread over his defined lip, elated tongue licking away at the magical paper until it was nothing but mana to be subsumed by the cosmos.

"Perhaps this might, my Lord." He purred, captured thumb running right under his heart's eye while taking care to neither smudge nor remove settled powder as he slid off his husband's arm. "It's been a while since a God has benign us wretched belly-crawling monsters with their illustrious presence."

Inari magic, the curses whispered, recoiling away from the fortune and prosperity that such a path could bring. As the paper servants fluttered in a frenzy as they led them toward their village, a shudder of magic fell over them, cloaking their inhuman nature from prying eyes. As much as Shu took pride in his monstrous birth, for the sake of the subjects that they had taken under their wings, he could pretend to be human if only for a few short hours. It wasn't hard to follow the familiar sparks of magic that he knew almost as intimately as his freely given heart, winding through the twisting streets filled with the broken people that they called their own. And in turn, the people were more than happy to accept them as their rulers, the swarm of young minds crowding around their war path only cementing such ideas as each inhabitant vied for their Lord and Lady's precious attention.

The ear splitting screams of ecstatic children led them straight to the source and Shu had to stifle his laughter as he felt the collected demon who steadied his wavering path bristle under the holy magic. It wove through the cursed air as smoothly as a slinking fox, gleaming orange eyes illuminated by the lights show and a sharp tooth grin spilling nonsense from sky lips.

"Prospero Rias!" The thundering roar had the crowd gathered by the Messenger squealing and dispersing, small feet scattering like mice in all directions as their Lord made his presence known with footfalls that shook even the far away castle's foundations. "Some nerve you must have, waltzing into my domain with no one but children at your side!"

"My Lord, I only bend to the whims of your darling wife who has so graciously opened your doors to me indefinitely." Prospero cackled, all too easily caught by the demon's headlock, batting away the hands that only sought to mess with their impeccable hair. Today it was held up by a simple scrap of cloth to show off his forehead but that would soon unravel under the Demon Lord's nimble fingers, leaving the divine fox's messenger defenseless against the ruthless attack.

Those words only seemed to stoke the jealous flames of Vox's wrath as the assault showed no signs of letting up or even stopping anytime soon. Meticulously styled hair and brocade cloth were creased and ruffled as Shu watched on with undisguised fondness and affection as his husband and sworn sibling scuffled and screamed in the dirt as if nothing but young spawn once more. Vox lunged forward in an attempt to dig his teeth into godly flesh but a well placed hand stopped him in his tracks, Prospero's well groomed tail never connecting with anything as it was pinned under the demon's weight.

He was pulled away from the spectacle by a small tug on his furisode, the patterned flames that snapped at the fabric striking no fear in childish hands. Kneeling down with a hollow rattle of bones, the Lady gave the one brave enough to touch death only the most welcoming of smiles. "Hey there." He cooed, recognizing the whelp as one under Lady Kaneshiro's watchful eye, originating from her gang of trailing menaces which only grew ever larger as each sun rose from the stealing night. "Is there something you need?"

Wordlessly, the tiny terror presented the Lady with crumpled parchment splotched with puddles of low quality sumi ink. Unfolding the balled up wad revealed crude scribbles reminiscent of an infant who had yet to learn how to hold a brush properly. Conversely, it looked as if one of the many spoiled strays that wandered the compound had rolled itself out on the sheet while drenched in ink. "It's…. Very nice…" Shu relayed awkwardly, his mind spinning in circles as he attempted to make sense of the swoops and lines of ink. "Thank you. I'm sure Akuma-sama would adore it too…" Folding the paper, Shu stalled as the child found it within its jurisdiction to not reply, instead engaging in a silent staring contest.

"Well, would you look at that, Our Lady is surely learning to get along with these so-called whelps but for what reason, I wonder? Is there bountiful news to be had?" A teasing voice cooed, the motherly tone sending shivers down the Jujutsushi's back. Although said in jest, Shu couldn't help the dread that wracked his body at the implicit suggestion, a brief stirring of dust ending his petty competition quite soundly.

The flash of gold among embroidered black stepped behind the child, slender hands falling on the whelp's shoulders. Lady Kaneshiro was a terrifying woman on the best of days, her time corralling unruly thugs into what was once one of the best mercenary groups on the island sliding almost seamlessly into childcare. Her words were law and had the strength to back them up, empty threats never making themselves known, a Lady of her word through and through. Her delicate appearance would always hide the steel that forged her bones and set her soul, blazing eyes of molten lavender unwavering even as tragedy after misfortune attached themselves to her soul and trailed after her in spectral mockery. But even if the weight of the world were to be burdened on her delicate shoulders, Lady Kaneshiro would continue to forge forward with the same piercing gaze that set off every alarm in Shu's mind. "Aneki." He greeted, standing up to greet her properly. "Even in jest, such insinuations brings bile to my mouth. What healthy child would be born from a body such as mine, teeming and created from death?"

As always, Lady Kaneshiro only threw her head back, uproarious laughter accompanied by barred teeth and a sharp glint. "Well, if one decided to feed off the blood on my hands, I'm sure a parasite could borrow its way into your cursed soul." She countered, one hand resting over the bare swell of her stomach whilst the other came up to flick the Head of Jujutsu on the forehead.

But one did not become the Demon Lord's spouse by waiting for the title to drop on their lap. Dancing away from her reaching grasp, Shu continued to half-heartedly evade the stubborn woman who seemed hellbent on catching the Jujutsushi, chasing him down even as he swam between the flowing traffic of the main streets much like the fish who dared not be tempted by enticing lure. Ducking under reaching hands, Shu anticipated the feinted attempt to tie him to this world and slipped past the growling caretaker only for strong arms to grab his shoulders and spin him around. His world tilted on an angle for a moment, the sky careened into an endless expanse as the ground beneath his feet disappeared. The leering fox grin from above answered any questions he had with a flick of furry ears, a steady hand callused by the eons of work yet protected by equally dusty leather propping the small of his back up and holding the rest of his body away from the specks of dirt that swirled under their geta. "O sly trickster. Why let sleeping demons lie when you could always provoke him?" Shu giggled, indulging in his sworn sibling's childish desire to incite petty jealousy with a hand on the divine's thin shoulders. The answering chitters and display of fangs was all the reply he needed, playful mirth shining through in those crescent blue eyes.

The incensed growl that settled deep into his bones only made curse laden eyes sparkle as clawed hands glided over sheer fabric and up to cup his sibling's cheek. "Dearest Prospero, fleet footed and sharp tongued as you are, what message has your master bestowed upon you as to require your holy presence among us monsters?" He purred, thin gloves doing precious little to protect holy skin from an accursed touch. The thin white scratched onto flesh that was rumoured to never hold a blemish sent a thrilling chill down Shu's spine, trailing after fleeting affection.

"O scorned and hated Curse of Darkness, what other news would I ferry with my humble presence if not one of peril and destruction? War that has always loomed on the horizon now knocks on your door with heavy fists. Soon, light will swallow this peaceful paradise; light which casts the shadows out and leaves none behind." Shu was spun around when the answering purr reached his ears, more familiar hands catching him by the waist to pull him away from cheshire charms.

The snarl that displayed peeking tusks and sharpened fangs was more than enough of a warning, stopping the heavenly messenger in his cryptic steps. Ominous creaking of malleable metals had Shu reaching up, talons catching on bloody rope to roughly yank Vox down to his level. "Temper yourself, husband." He reminded with firm steel pressing against the words, pulling himself away from the baser instinct to sink blunted fangs into rounded cartilage. "Lest you rend my curse in twine." It should not have set his gut rolling to hear his husband whine under his reprimand, the Demon Lord's anger abating with nothing but a firm reminder and heavy hand, but it did. It happened and Shu instantly felt the power that had been offered up to him on a silver platter rush through his mind in a heady pulse of power.

The sulky slope of Vox's shoulders was nothing short of humorous as he lowered his head marginally in begrudging remorse. What a rare sight to treasure, even Prospero's lips twitched at the sight, but the moment passed as quickly from one heartbeat to another, the scowl reappearing on his face. "Your vague prophesying has no place here. Speak clearly, if not at all." The demon huffed as if nothing more than a put upon dog protecting his marked territory. Now that Shu thought more about it, the image became clearer and clearer though what was a wolf than a dog who ran headlong into baser instincts.

If Prospero took any offence to the remark, they made no note of it, the lackadaisical smirk sliding off their face. In a flash and a step, the foxen messenger was barely an inch away, mischief all but void from empty eyes that somehow met both Vox and Shu's questions. "Tokugawa is coming, Hideyoshi not far behind. I suggest you start preparing yourself for the coming battle." They warned, words rasping low in their throat. While the words themselves weren't any surprise, many times had different warlords come upon their doorstep only for red rain to soak the parched soil, the names of the so-called unifiers of the island made Shu's blood freeze and boil simultaneously.

Though if not for them, Shu supposed that the Akuma clan would have never grown as much as it currently holds.

Evidently, his heart didn't share the same sentiments, the reverberating growl rattling his bones with the malice it evoked. "And you say this as if we should turn tail and flee? Messenger of Prosperity, don't you dare laugh with our misery from your lofty seats upon Takamagahara. We are the demons who crawled from hell with nothing but bleeding claws and cores burned to ash. What human army could hope to be steel walls before the power of beings greater than mortal comprehension?" He snarled, neither moving away nor backing down from the heavens. Pride had always been such an easy way to rile Vox up, Shu lamented briefly as he watched his husband and sibling once again butt heads, but it was never not without merit.

He had before held back scores of men by his lonesome, a single sweep of his sword blowing away fragile lives. Even against magicks from those born naturally cursed or those who learned to dispel them, Vox was an indomitable wall that plowed through his foes without remorse nor pause. Even if the odds halted his stride, Vox would simply clamber over it, forging forward regardless of whether anyone would walk behind or alongside him.

Prospero too should be more than aware of the demon's nature, having been their floating companion for almost as long as they had been courting. Despite their differing duties pulling them away more often than they fell together, Prospero was certainly no stranger to the brand of strength that characterized Vox's dominion.

The conclusion was easy to draw, bleak and unsavoury in its connotations. "Who would be so prideless to be brought to heel by mere mortal hubris?" Shu asked, placing a calm hand against an unbeating heart and pushing, gentle yet firm in its demand as a disgusted snarl curled over pointed words. There were few creatures who could match the pair of them in combat, even fewer who could overwhelm them but they lurked in places that even humans would balk at. The only one who would lower themself so far as to regularly walk among the most fragile of creatures was--

"Who else but She who Rules the Skies, Queen of the Sun, and Seer of All? Beware, beware, beware, beware oh demon whose voice compels with bleeding heart and accused witch of unrelenting passion, your paradise will burn under the rising sun's scorching justice! Elira Pendora is coming with death on her heels and with her, the dragon's jealous eye!" Prospero seemed much too gleeful when delivering such news, fangs bared wide and sharp as they cackled over their poor fortune. Dancing away with a self satisfied air, lording their vast network of information over shell-struck heads, Prospero kept crescent mirth eyes on them in a bid to soak in the sight. What a treasure to catch not only the Demon Lord off guard but his knowledgeable Lady as well, the lone finger hooked around blood-given rope falling slack as the haunting choir of rumbling rage only crescendoed into a thunderous war cry.

In the fleetingly indulgent moments that had Shu and Elira crossing paths, he had always thought of the proud Queen as a fellow monster who took pride in her dazzling wings that lay low on her back. Gossamer and soft to the touch despite the hard lines of muscle that gave her dominion of the skies, Elira had all the traits of a beastly ruler, mismatched eyes glimmering with bloodlust and a love so beautifully destructive that Shu could have done nothing but fall headfirst into such a whirlwind. Their last encounter had been equally as explosive and effervescent as their time together with treasured scars to remember each other by, but if such a brilliant sapphire found it noble to sand her natural rough edges down into a dull trinket for mortals to gawk at, then Shu could feel the lancing memories over his burns beat in time with his smothering fury. If it came down to it, Shu knew how a clash between them would end. But he also knew that his last breath would be a vitriolic curse, leaving as he lived with malice where his heart once was and death surrounding him.

"And what of it?" Vox snarled, hands pressing bruises into his skin in a familiarly foreign manner. There would be time for that later, Shu supposed, even if he figured that their days would be much too swept up in the storm of war preparations to indulge in much. "A dragon and her platoon of flying reptiles makes no difference. Even with the Sun's flare, I will cut them down again and again until the moon weeps in empty darkness with no sister left to reflect from." Tall talk, they both knew, just one of them alone would never be enough to drag the sun down to their earthbound hell. But before the one god that drew the favour of mortals and their messenger, what good would weakness do? Abundance and gross fortune only favours the bold.

The chitter of laughter that exploded from the godly vessel dispelled any tension that had sullied the village, the amusement flicking through foxen ears all that needed to be said. "Good." They firmly stated, the messenger melted away in a blink of an eye only leaving the sibling that Shu had sworn his life to. "Mother was worried and you know how they get. Even after they blessed the conquerors with prosperity, they wouldn't stop nagging me about you. You'd think OInari-sama would like me better, their faithful messenger, but they adore my Shuey Shu more than I! What a karmic injustice I must face in such tribulating times."

Rolling his eyes at the dramatics, Shu resisted the ever tempting desire to wrap his hands around his sworn sibling's collared neck and rattle their empty brain just to make sure there was something in there. "With the unsightly dramatics you just put on, I too wonder why Mother would ever favour me over a trash panda." He sighed, leaning almost smugly into his husband's embrace. The indignant squawk was music to his ears as Prospero vehemently argued that they were no trash panda, they're a fox! A fox, Shu! What other creature could ever serve OInari-sama as well as a fox could?!

"My bellflower, it seems like your pitiable husband must be going deaf with age. If I were to strain my old ears, I could almost hear a dog barking for their master. What a curious sound, I'm sure no mutts have ever made the village their home unless senility too warps my senses." Vox lamented, draping his lanky weight against Shu, both of them melding together until their fabric tangled in a harmonious mess and one could not be separated from the other. The two paid no mind as the defensive barking only grew louder, the continuous laments about being bullied and abandoned nothing but background chatter in the bustling marketplace.

As if such a human experience could ever affect twisted and untethered monsters, the illness of old age fading away as they outstripped the paltry numbers that defined how long one had lived their paper thin life. Neither would be afflicted with the symptoms of a long life well lived, much too content with burning out as brilliantly as when they first sparked to life. "Even if he were to turn deaf and lame, what wife would ever leave a husband as dependable and generous such as yourself behind to nurse a broken heart and smarting coffers?" He returned, sly grin in place as he traced the pebbled skin and thin wiry scars with sharp nails blunted by thin fabric. Thus was the blessing of immortal youth, the gentle aging preserving transcendent beauty in demonic possession, the both of them as handsome as the day they met as if the snapshot in time was clearly preserved within their skin.

"A smart one! Stop ignoring me, damn it!" Prospero screeched to no avail. Vox only swooned with adoring theatrics, snatching the delicate wrist in a larger cradle, peppering kisses along the seam of the glove and the slight swell of soft fat that spilled out from under it. The heavy furisode hindered his advancement, golden rings clinking together in a synchronous ode, a chime of farewell as Shu gently slid his hand out of the adoring touch. The amused curl of his defined lips only stretched further when his husband chased after the retreating warmth, the soft chastising finger that pushed lightly against his nose enough for him to halt.

"Prospero, do you have other business to attend to here, or perhaps this was simply a means for you to amuse yourself and alleviate your boredom?" Shu idled, mapping out the well acquainted slopes and planes that constructed the beloved face carved into his memory. Today was much too beautiful for it to be sullied by news of war and inevitable demise. Even for a being that thrived in the shaded darkness, Shu knew when to let loose and set inhibitions free. It was always the days before the deepest grief that jubilation would be needed, a final toast to the flickering flames that would soon be extinguished with a single shuddering breath. "If the winds do not beckon and the wanderlust does not compel, join us again even if only for one night. Even if no wine nor pleasure is to be drunk tonight, as hosts it would offend even mannerless Mara if we didn't at least offer a warm futon and thatched roof."

Amidst the grumbling and complaints, there was no refusal to be heard which was as much of an affirmative answer that one could pull out of the sulking fox. The pout that seemed to make itself a home on Prospero's face was adorable as ever and Shu couldn't resist reaching over to gently pinch at the pocket of fat and skin. How cute. That even when squirming away from teasing hands capable of much more cruelty than bullying his round cheeks, his sibling would still trust him so wholeheartedly.

Releasing the skin that had reddened beautifully into a smattering blush, Shu laced his arm around Vox's waiting hold, ignoring social propriety and modesty in favour of leeching off the poisonous warmth of their infatuated love. If not his husband's steady back to chastise his wavering heart, what else would soothe his turbulent mind? Tonight, War would have no place at their table. Soon enough it would occupy the seat of the honoured guest but until that dreaded day came when Death would join their halls, she would be absent.

And as Shu hummed to himself as they walked back to their home, wondering what feast they would splay before gluttonous monsters today to turn to ash in their mouth, he pressed close to his husband. Even as children crowded around them pushing and vying for the attention of their Lord, unable to be contained by the woman who had silently watched them, a lioness who simply waited before pouncing upon her prey, Shu could only laugh and cling onto an arm that would always open for his grasp. Come hell or high waters, together they would burn as brightly as they lived under the sun and the moon.

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Posted: Thu, 16/11/2023 07:19 (20 Days ago)
𝚃𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚆𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍 𝚆𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚋𝚎 𝙾𝚞𝚛𝚜

𝚊 𝚟𝚘𝚡𝚜𝚑𝚞 𝚏𝚊𝚗𝚏𝚒𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗

≻────────────── ⋆♔⋆ ──────────────≺


Shu wakes and it is a new day. He has everything he could ever want, power, respect, love, all of it at his fingertips and even more if only he would ask. His clan is flourishing, he watches over mortals make absolute fools of themselves as they run from inevitable war, and he does so all from under the loving gaze of his husband, his heart and soul.

Shu wakes and everything is burning

or: Shu lives, loves, and loses


Disclaimer: The following fic is about the characters, Yamino Shu and Vox Akuma. NOT the people behind the camera who play them. This fic is not representative of how I see their interactions irl nor is it reflective of how they are outside of their respective characters. This is a work of fiction and entirely a piece of my imagination. Don't come after my ass please

This is fanfiction for NijisanjiEN and does touch on themes that honestly? Idk if its okay to actually post this. If it isn't, mods please feel free to take this down.

As courtesy though, the fic tags are as follows: Minor Character Death, Major Character Undeath, Violence and Gore, Fluff and Angst, Canon Adjacent, Slice of Life, Married Life, Domestic Fluff, Tooth-rotting Fluff, Mutual Possessiveness, Hopeful Ending, Purple Prose, Refrences to Shinto Mythology

Originally posted on AO3, if you liked it please feel free to head over there and drop a kudo or a comment!

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Posted: Sat, 11/11/2023 00:00 (25 Days ago)
yo id be so down to see where this goes, love the concept and the potential hijinks that could arise

res as well if this does get off the ground

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Posted: Mon, 09/10/2023 07:57 (1 Month ago)
Gasping almost theatrically, Lăcrămioara swooned with a cackle that grated on the ears almost hyena-like in its undulating scratchiness. "I knew you were my favourites for a reason, oh dear me! When have you known me to dabble in anything but fun? I'm old now dearie, arthritis can't catch me if I pound it to dust first!" Wiggling fingers that didn't look a day over 20, Lăcrămioara grinned a little too wide for any comfort as the fangs that Natalia seemed so happy to name him after flashed dangerously. To the vampire, their relationship was one of convenient conversation where questions weren't asked and they played the part of being something other than what they were, normal. What a beautiful lie they lay themselves upon, a mess of decete and apathy that meshed together into a morbid work of art. "But really, why question this little win-win deal I've got going on, I just reeeeealllyy wanna beat someone up! After all, a tiff between vampies isn't exactly pretty so it'll be fun punting fledgling egos down a few pegs~" Giggling at the thought of inflicting grievous bodily harm, he almost looked like a pining maiden swooning over his beau if not for the glint of madness that replaced any shine in his eyes, roving over everyone present.

"So, we have a deal, yes?"

Staring at the bubbles that frothed up as the waters darkened with the dirts that sloughed off matted fur, Ibaraki poked at one in wonder. The iridescent colours seemed mesmerising and briefly the thought of putting such pretty things in a curious mouth crossed the child's mind. It would taste very nice, Ibaraki theorised though that wild thought was quickly banished away as the water took on a darker red color from the accumulated dirts. It matched the soap color with its rusty hues, squishing out of the deformed plush as delicate scents filled the air. It was peaceful, a rarity that Ibaraki knew to cherish even in a mind that forgot as soon as it remembered. "Miss Celine... Do you think Ibaball will ever be clean? Ibaball got really really dirty..." The oni muttered, popping another bubble without looking at the addressed. An undeniably odd question from an equally odd child that seemed to hold much more than its spoken value

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Posted: Sun, 08/10/2023 08:50 (1 Month ago)
At the mention of Ibaball, Ibaraki's face lit up and scrambled to try and see what there were to choose from, all thought about any previous conversation gone with just that one question. The reveal of the soap cabinet was like opening a magic shop as wide golden eyes watched the glitter swirl around in liquids and gloss, each one decorated with elaborate images. A feast for the eyes indeed but one in particular caught the young child's eye. It was wine-red that seemed viscus and sat heavily at the bottom of the bottle, displaying the image of a hollow skull with a broken crown hovering over its head the scrawl under the label declaring the product to be "Tragic Soap Opera". Dramatic, to be sure, but given its aesthetics it was strangely alluring. Staring at wonder at the bottle, Ibaraki turned to Celine with glittering eyes. "Can we use that one? Please? T-that Soap O... Oprah? Operah?" Stumbling over the syllables of an unfamiliar word, Ibaraki nonetheless looked so enthusiastically excited about mere soap.

Lăcrămioara jolted at the sudden loud noise so explosive that the vampire genuinely flinched as his head instinctively snapped towards the source with wide eyes. Cold blue that so rarely held any spark of life narrowed into hungry slits as he honed into the source of the explosion. The screams of the market goers seemed distant to the ringing of sensitive ears, bodies pushing him slightly as he kept his firm vigil behind Mr. Dude-with-the-cool-jacket to keep them all caged in under the vampire's hungry gaze. But right now, that piercing gaze was directed somewhere else, the brief twitch of the nose hounding after liquid gold that spilled out from the explosion.


His mouth salivated at the very thought of it, his meal denied for so long flooding in abundance from a source that just begged to be glutted on, excess calling for him as Lăcrămioara followed the phantom strings that pulled him towards his lust of everything he embodied in his undead heart. But that damnable cord tightening around his neck was his sole executioner and reminder to reign in those desires. Of course, he was still in his prime, a vampire whose crown of white sat proudly atop his bloodied strands and sank deep into those roots. A feeble tether that wrapped around a delicate neck could be snapped with a simple hook of the finger, especially one made by mortal hands grasping and unnatural magicks but that was simply what it was. A reminder. Of his ownership. That though his muzzle may bend and yield, it would never break. And so he turned his gaze to the newcomer who came on the heels of an oh so familiar face, pushing all bloodlust into a box to be sealed away.

"Andrea, my favourite black market dealer in the world! Don't tell Master though, I assure you that would be quite a blow to an ego that is in sore need of some humility. Where's that little shadow of yours, my most wonderful and favourite hand for hire who definitely doesn't steal every single assignment I've ever been on and ruins all the fun?" Making an exaggerated motion of looking everywhere, Lăcrămioara seemed almost surprised when Natalia made her appearance, sliding into the empty space beside the infamous dealer, two sides of the same wicked coin so wonderfully paired together that the vampire rarely thought about one without the other trailing not that far behind. "Oh wonderful, hello Natalia, dearie. I so missed you and luckily for all of us here, I also have a fun little deal of you'd be so kind as to humor a little vampie. See, I have a new assignment and I would be so very grateful if none of you interfered with that one since it's been forever since I got to stretch my legs last. I mean seriously, this is the first time these two weeks that I've been out of my cozy little home! Cut my undead heart some slack and let me have one night of wild, passionate homicide. In exchange, I help you with this little mess here, whatever you want I'll do. Except for die, but you knew that already with brains so much bigger than mine that stopped even working, five minutes post mortem. I'll even powder the bone for you! How tedious I'm sure but you can go right back to your hawking and gawking without a speck of blood on your beautiful rose. If you're a little hesitant, which I don't blame since Master doesn't have the best track record of doing anything remotely fun, I'll even throw in a fledgling if you agree, one less than a hundred years old and docile until it's not. I heard those are all the rage with cagefight betters nowadays." A silver tongue that never stopped, rolling with sweet sachrine promises and bargens that only held his best interest at heart. Really, these two women really were some of his favourite people to strike seemingly meaningless chatter with as they traded with the only non-tangable price there was in this world. Information.

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Posted: Sat, 07/10/2023 06:41 (1 Month ago)
"Good, no one should be mean but if they are I'll kick them. Nice people deserve nice things." Ibaraki humphed, eagerly taking Celine's hand as Ibaball was tucked safely close. While specifics with what the new woman was talking about went right over the young child's head there was the united experience of being an unnatural who never quite belonged in both worlds.

The scene the two made was quite adorable, with Ibaraki's small legs working overtime to keep up with Celine's longer steps no matter how slow they went. Despite this, a determined look made a home on Ibaraki's face and stubbornly kept pace with the Zannie. "Zannies are fun though, you always know where all the fun is, where the danger is, at least you guys are useful... I just know how to hit things really hard... But I'm not too sad about it. Its just funny that we get sold for so much for so little."

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Posted: Sat, 07/10/2023 00:13 (1 Month ago)
Vica's voice caught in their voice as they watched the campus pull up from the window of the carriage, a sight so foreign that it may have been something out of a fairy tale greeting them as they slowly rolled to a stop. Disembarking from the carriage, they gathered all the necessary luggage and things that belonged to them, pulling out identification for the school to process. Well handed and kept in a clear folder for easy use, Vica was more than used to the process as they waited for the rangers to go through the motions

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Posted: Fri, 06/10/2023 04:14 (2 Months ago)
Preening at the praise heaped onto the young impressionable mind, Ibaraki looked at Celine with sparkling eyes. Zannies were rarer to see around in the organization, something about there not being that much pain outside of the medical bay or training rooms for them to feast on. While there was a nagging suspicion in the back of the Oni's head that this wasn't the first time meeting such a magical unnatural, Ibaraki couldn't remember another instance of meeting a Zannie and thus let excitement pour forth unbridled. "You will? Hehe, Ma'am is too nice." Hugging the push close to a small chest, Ibaraki swung legs too short to touch the floor, mulling over whatever was being said. "Sure am an Oni, Eiríni's luck bug so they say. Dunno how much of that is true but if it means I get to stick around then sure. Do people say that about you? Like being mean because you eat hurt? Because those people are meanies and I'll kick them in the knee!" A child should not look so excited about violence but... well somehow Ibaraki's scrunched nose and pout made it kinda cute.

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Posted: Thu, 05/10/2023 01:14 (2 Months ago)
"Oh my, you make your own clothes! The lace looks hand-made too, a dying but no less ephemeral art very impressive for you to create your own fashion." Song BingLiu clapped his hands, a wide smile overtaking his face. Dresses were difficult in the amount of fabric that was needed to make them, he wasn't at the skill level where he was comfortable enough attempting to do such a big project. "You are quite astute as well, accurately guessing my major though I suppose I made it quite easy with this gushing. While I would also assume the same for you, something tells me that you may lean closer to Research. Or battling perhaps? You seem to embody attributes of all three majors, quite a conundrum."

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Posted: Thu, 05/10/2023 00:15 (2 Months ago)
"I'm Ibaraki!" the oni chimed, sitting down enthusiastically on the chair. It had been so long since an adult had taken interest in the child and struck conversation, the usual fare of revenge planning and busy undercover secrets keeping many much too busy for games concocted by young minds. "And this is Ibaball! Because we have the same horns, see? They're even ripped just like mine!" With a little wiggle of the plush horns sticking out from the ball of fluff, Ibaraki patted the matching protrusions with a sense of childish glee. "We were playing with some of the other kids and Ibaball got a bit dirty. Its okay though because I get dirty all the time so we just match some more!" Giggling lightly, Ibaraki held the plush up for Celine to inspect closer, golden eyes peeking from behind the synthetic fur. "And who are you, ma'am? Haven't seen you around much..."

There was a clamor not too far from his cage as Lăcrămioara looked up. Leaning forward to look around his Master's table, he couldn't quite figure out what was happening, just that someone seemed to be surrounded. Looking to see his Master returning his gaze with a judgemental arc of a brow, Lăcrămioara only smiled with a shrug of his shoulders. What could he say, he loved to make other people's business his own. Choice words were mumbled under his Master's breath but the cage that kept the hungry vampire locked away from polite society melted away in a shower of golden sugar and lights. Almost like a trade off, red rope bound his throat in a band of magic to tether him to his owner. Clearly merchandise if people knew what to look for, a rabid dog firmly muzzled.

"Gentlemen, have you ever learned that business is best conducted at a bargaining table or behind closed doors? Blocking an entire market street is simply not the way to go about things. You're disturbing my precious Master's business." The vampire purred, appearing in a whirl of tattered fabric behind who he assumed was the ringleader by his incredibly fancy jacket. It wasn't the first time he had stepped into one of these altercations nor would it be the last, an incredibly efficient way of conducting business by offering his services to tame unruly unnaturals prone to running away. But this one, this one Lăcrămioara had an itching feeling might be a bit different and he always was attracted to the blood-pumping danger of reckless unknown danger

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Posted: Wed, 04/10/2023 02:05 (2 Months ago)
Testing the name in his mind, Song BingLiu accepted that the line had been drawn and he wouldn't push much further on the matter. Just because he was quite flippant about things didn't mean that others would share the same opinion. "Its a pleasure to meet you then. I must note though that your dress is quite dashing. Do you perhaps know the producer of it?" He asked, leaning forward slightly. He wasn't familiar with many lolita brands, more in touch with the traditional theater providers that his troupe were in contact with but it never hurt to check out unfamiliar clothes. After all, being a coordinator meant that he would have to try new things eventually. Why not go for the best if he had an opportunity right in front of him?

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Posted: Tue, 03/10/2023 23:50 (2 Months ago)
Nodding with gratefulness, Song BingLiu carefully tucked his luggage away and set his bag snug on his lap. He let out an inaudible sigh as he settled down and mulled over what little information he had on hand, thinking through his options as he weighed the possible pros and cons. There was a moment of silence as he watched the girl put her papers away before he decided to speak up. "Thanks. I'm Song BingLiu, sometimes its Li XuanWu, other times its Willow Song." He introduced himself, bowing formally or at least as formally as he could with a bag against his stomach. "What's your names? If I can ask that?" He didn't want to overstep boundaries if it wasn't cleanly drawn but really he was more than fine with his own secret spilling out. He fronted the most after all, the others well behaved enough to know this was for their collective safety.

But perhaps a part of him was just excited to meet someone else like him

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Posted: Tue, 03/10/2023 22:45 (2 Months ago)
Perking up at the attention, Ibaraki gently patted the head of the adult that was currently acting as a makeshift seat before scrambling off and pattering towards Celine. "Hi ma'am!" Came the whisper that didn't quite succeed in its mission of being quiet. While the small oni didn't dare to climb on the older woman's lap as well, Ibaraki did stick close as the meeting went on. While most things went in one ear and exited the other without a single word being understood, the discussion did seem at least somewhat more calm with the presence of a child reminding the others of who they were fighting for. It didn't hurt that most of the adults also watched their words more carefully around Ibaraki.

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Posted: Tue, 03/10/2023 20:19 (2 Months ago)
Perking up at the announcement, Song BingLiu took his luggage and hurried over to the carriages. By the time he reached them, they were all filled with at least one other person which he didn't mind that much. It meant that he had the chance to pick who seemed the most interesting to sit next to. The first person who caught his eye was a girl with skin as pale as snow, blue scars webbing over the delicate beauty matching his own but that carriage was already full as another girl slid into the empty seat. That was fine but if spots were being taken quickly then Song BingLiu would have to act just as fast.

Sliding into the closest spot he could find, he found himself face to face with a beautiful girl with an air of royalty surrounding her lolita clad form. Her striking red hair stood out to him and briefly he wondered if she too was a coordinator with how well dressed she was. "Hi, I hope you don't mind if I sit here." He said almost breathlessly, eyes already examining her wonderfully made clothes. The lace was exquisitely crafted as if hand bobbined rather than machine manufactured, the layers of ruffles and petticoats helping elevate her fit into a masterpiece. The black blended in with the shadows of the carriage, giving her an almost otherworldly aura around her.

But what really caught his eye was the papers she was holding. They seemed so similar to his own papers tucked safely in his bag that even if he didn't see anything written on it, he could wager that he could fill out most of it in his sleep. He chose not to say anything though but relaxed just a bit more with the knowledge that they wasn't the only ones in this new environment.

Squeaking, Vica hurried to pick themselves up from where they had tripped and made their way to a carriage that seemed to have a spot for them. Sliding in beside a redhead boy with the palest green eyes, Vica let out a sigh of relief, shrugging off their heavy jacket as the enclosed space would soon prove to be much too stuffy in a few short minutes. "Sorry, there was no where else to go..." They offered meekly, already worrying that they were making a bad first impression. Ugh, there was a reason why their parents worried about their clumsy child going away to another region to study. They were just a little to the left of normal that it put others off.

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