The kindling remains of the ruins still singes as the rain keeps pouring on top of both it and the unconscious boy who lays on the scorched floor. It is merely luck that this boy didn’t catch fire with the rest of the building. Though you wouldn’t call it luck with what he had to endure just moments before he was left to die. The two stumps of where his arms once resided are still fresh, but are beginning to clot up and form a layer of scabs, an effort by his body to keep from bleeding out.
A normal human body shouldn’t be able to preserve itself like this. It is fortunate, then, that this little boy only looks the part. Artificially made humans have this ability in order to prolong their usefulness. Though, I shouldn’t even know this. At least, if I were one of the normal beings that lived in this realm. If I was the being I was the first time this happened. The boy squirms in the rain, shivering with each drop that hits his body. He only has on a pair of white shorts and a white shirt. At least, they’re supposed to be white, as they are stained in his own crimson blood. I almost feel bad for him, the poor thing.
I stand over him, gazing on his limp body while my servant stands opposite of him. An old man in complete black, contrasting with his long grey hair, which is tied up in a ponytail behind him.
“What should we do with him, miss Alucard?” He inquires to me, waiting on my command to either move him or just leave him to die, like whoever decided to tear him apart like some mischievous child with a raggedy doll. I could just let him lay there, but I do have a deal with that old rugged animal to come and take him. Besides, why stop taking him now?
“Just take him, Valkenhayn.” I answered plainly, as I turned to leave. Our business here is done, as I hear Valkenhayn pick up the boy and sling him over his shoulder. A little bit of magic ignites as I snap the fingers of my right hand, black and crimson sparks flying forward. In front of me, the way back home opens up, this red hellish ring encompassing a rippling black void. Officially, the person who made the spell that summons this named it a Hellmouth, but that’s a just fancy name for what it really is; a portal.
The two of us step through, disappearing from the burnt wreckage of this church building, leaving it to the rain to put it all out. I can only sigh as it is a sight I’ve seen too much of. The foundations burning down in hellish flames, a single survivor among dead bodies, though relieved of both his arms, and then us taking him. It just keeps repeating, only a select few realizing this small cycle and how it just keeps going without any end in sight.
“What cycle is this, Valkenhayn?” I ask during the lull in between entering the portal and ending up on the other end of it.
“We are on Cycle One Hundred and Twenty Seven, miss Alucard.” Ah, yes, Cycle-127. How could I forget? A red light bursts in front of us, quickly approaching us. This is the other portal beginning to open up at our destination. I have to wonder, what surprises will this cycle bring this time?
ALTERNATE AZURE TALES
CHAPTER 002: Ears of a Rabbit
His two green eyes open up on the sight of a gold chandelier hanging over him, illuminating the room he's found himself in. It's this large and open black room with white pillars on each corner, with the giant bed the boy's found himself in on one side and the entrance, a pair of white doors with shining gold handles, on the other side. He sees this as he quickly reorients himself to his environment, and how it completely contradicts to the burnt rubble he was laying in the last time he was conscious. He quickly tries to get up as he realizes that he's been kidnapped, but remembers that he doesn't have arms anymore, so he uselessly flops on the soft white mattress that's beneath him.
He stops as soon as he accepts that he can't do shit in this situation, but that single thought... He's been rendered useless. He turns his attention to the nubs of where his two appendages used to be connected to him, seeing bandaging wrapping around his whole body. Who did this, he wonders to himself as he begins to lift himself anew from the bed. He uses his feet to pull off the black covers that were laid over him and thrusts his whole torso forward with all of his strength, bending at the waist before finally sitting up.
That's when he notices that the dull pain that came from the nubs on the side of his body is no longer there. It feels normal now. As if the wounds have healed over and become fine. At least, fine considering the circumstances. He flails his shoulders back and forth, realizing that, at least, that part of his arms is still attached to him. He stops moving about his incredibly limited shoulders to glance over the room more, as he can finally fully look around his environment.
A large painted portrait hangs behind the large bed of an old man with a long beard, hitting around his lap, sitting in some kind of compact wheelchair. To his left, there's this young girl with bright yellow hair and red eyes, wearing what looks like black and white Gothic attire, and black hair ribbons which stick out as sort of black rabbit ears to the boy. The frame is a solid gold, with jewels of numerous colors embedded all around the rectangular shape.
He manages to shimmy himself off the bed and onto his feet. Surprisingly, he doesn't just fall over immediately, he must have fully recovered his normal strength during the time he was asleep, he thinks. He looks down and he's wearing a loose pair of white pants now. He chalks it up to whoever took him changed him out of his bloody clothing in order to make him seem nicer looking. He's also barefoot, but it's not much of a concern for him anyway. He's always been barefoot at the church... Then he remembers the church and what happened there.
He needs to get back, he thinks, as he walks towards the door. It's awkward for him; he's so used to swinging his arms back and forth when in a light stride, but it's something he can adapt to. He has to. He walks up to the door, staring at the doorknob for about a minute, knowing that he can't just grab it like he normally would. All he's thinking is how he's been stopped by something he would usually get open in just a moment. Suddenly, as if an idea just struck him out of nowhere, he leans down his whole torso, now at eye level with the doorknob. He opens his mouth wide and attempts to bite down on the knob, thinking he can turn it this way.
However, the doorknob is too wide around for his whole mouth to fully fit, the edges of the rounded surface preventing his teeth from passing through. Feeling that anymore pushing might break more of his body, the boy pulls away and returns to his relaxed stance. He looks at the door in frustration, slamming his foot against the white wooden surface just to vent.
"Damn it..." He has to get out of here, he thinks. His thoughts return to what had happened. That person, that monster, who tore off his arms out of what might've been just pure malice, he's the one who did this, yeah. He's the one responsible for burning down the church, and now taking away both his brother and, presumably, his sister.
He paces around the room, trying to find something useful for breaking out of this prison he's been put into. He has to get back there, he has to find that monster that destroyed his life, and kill it. He will render it a broken shell like it did to him. If he does that, then he'll finally get back his siblings, he thinks. If only he can just find a way of leaving this place first...
He finally gives up any kind of stealth and rushes at the door, hoping to smash it off its hinges with his weight. He may not have arms, but that doesn't mean he's not heavy anymore.
However, just as soon as the plan commences, it is ruined as the door swings open, a blur of a man in black holding something silver at the center of his body appearing in Ragna's vision. The blur moves swiftly to the side, as Ragna fell over himself out of the doorway. He lands on his stomach, his chin hitting the ground with a loud thud as if he had been dropped like a sack. He hurries to get himself off the ground as soon as possible, but without the assistance of his arms to help with the push, he can only flail his body about as it laid on a white marble floor.
He can hear a metal clang to his right as footsteps approach behind him, his only thought being that those repeated sounds belong to the man in black just moments before. He struggles to drag himself away from him using his feet to kick against the white floor, essentially pushing him away. It's a fruitless endeavor, however, as the man in black gets close enough for Ragna to actually turn his gaze at him. A tall man looms over him, in complete black; black long sleeved shirt, black vest, black pants, black shoes, black tie, and black gloves. His face has what looks like wrinkled, brown leather skin, with this silver white hair growing out into what looked like a ponytail resting on the left side of his shoulder. He looks as though he's past his prime a long time ago.
Ragna attempts to worm himself away again, but the man standing over his rather broken body halts that plan immediately, as he grabs Ragna by the shoulders with both of his hands. Without time to feel much of anything, Ragna is suddenly swinged up onto his feet. He manages to capture his footing for him not to just fall backwards. The man then goes for the object he had put down earlier; a silver metal plate that carried in it food and a drink. Then, the man spoke.
"Miss Alucard is waiting for you," The man said it politely enough, as he took the plate and let it rest against the flat, horizontally placed palm of his hand as if he was a waiter or butler. He continued as he began to walk away from Ragna, "I'll lead you to where she is." Ragna has been left utterly confused by the situation, as he stands there, unsure on what he's supposed to do now.
The man was almost unphased by Ragna trying to break down the door, he thinks. For now, he doesn't seem hostile for now. Ragna, cautious of the man in front of him, reluctantly follows behind him. By the hallways they pass, Ragna can see how apparently wealthy the person who lives here is; the floor is still a white marble, though now with a dark red carpet laid out on top, stretching out until a cross section in the hallway. The walls are a complete black, with that same marble pattern as the floors, with numerous portraits and mounted candles littering the place, they all have a faded gold appearance.
The man walks down the hall with purpose, a slight yet audible clack echoing down the vast hallways of this unknown place with each of his steps. Ragna, on the other hand, stumbles, barely able to really propel himself forward properly without his arms acting as counterbalance. His footsteps resonate with a loud thud, as he struggles to keep himself upright.
Finally, they end up at a set of large white doors, barely reaching the height of the ceiling. Several hinges travel down the side, most of them looking as if they're only there to keep the door attached to the wall. The hinges, along with others in its same vain, is a dull gold. The door handles are gold as well, and are simple handles, with no fancy way of opening it like on a knob. Instead, as the man demonstrates while he wraps his right hand around the handle of the right door, it's almost always open.
The hinges grind against themselves as they move to swing the door out into the room that it blocks off. Ragna is slightly blinded by a white light before his eyes adjust to the high amount of sunlight that is emerging to embrace him. He steps in, while the man stays at the side of the open door, looking around and acclimating to his current environment.
It's a giant round room, sunlight beaming through the window walls, separated like a grid with a giant circle connecting all the strips together. Meanwhile, a young girl's voice speaks up.
"Don't mind me," Ragna turns his attention to where the voice came from, the center of the room where a young girl in black and white sits by a table with two seats, one unoccupied, "Please enjoy the morning light," she said with a hint of sarcasm while she sip the drink inside the tea cup held in her right hand.
"O-oh, I'm sorry..." He can't help, but apologize for what he's doing. I manages to walk normally enough to approach the table, while he can hear the man behind him slowly shut the gigantic door behind him. Once close, he can really take in the appearance of this young girl; she seems to be younger than him, her more childish features giving her away. However, the look on her face seems more like the nuns from the church; serious, formal, elegant.
It seemingly clashes with what she wears, this fully-clothed black dress that's wrapped in white strips of frills. Her long, pure yellow hair is tied into sort of twintails, the black binds and their tie making these sort of rabbit ears or antennas over her head.
"Will you admire the view more?" she asks of Ragna, before he realizes what he's going. Again, he apologizes, bowing down this time as if being scolded by the nuns once more. This time, however, he really is sorry. He stands upright again as he looks at the seat besides him, pausing for a moment before attempting to use his foot to push the chair out from under the table.
"Please, don't bother yourself with that," almost in an instance, the man is pulling the chair out, allowing Ragna to just sit down. He pauses for a second before just focusing his attention on the young girl in front of him, placing himself down onto the seat.
"Um..." He stammers to find words to say, but she starts for him, seeing his struggle to ask something of her.
"What is your name?" He snaps out of his own personal thoughts to attempt and respond to her.
"R-Ragna... Ragna Psevdis." She briefly exhales out of her nose, smiling a little because she knows what Psevdis means.
"U-uh um..." He can't really talk about much right now, otherwise the obvious question of his current location. She can see right through him, however, as she puts down the cup onto a pure white coaster that's resting on the table and looks him in the eyes.
"You wish to know where this is, is that right?" She casually says while Ragna sits there, silent as he processes what has just happened. Finally, after just a moment, he nods.
"Well, how to articulate this so that you could understand..." She mutters to herself, the young Ragna just sitting there and waiting for her.
"This is my home," she stated plainly, looking directly at him, "and this'll be your home for a little while." His eyes open wide in reaction. She doesn't break on that, the look of surprise all too familiar. He stammers as he processes this.
"W...What?" The only word that could come out from his lips as she stood up, about to leave him be before turning her head in his general direction. He can only stare on in disbelief, attempting to process what's just been said like an intricate puzzle, like there's some kind of hidden meaning he's just not picking up. Hoping that there's something else in the words "and this'll be your home for a little while."
"Come, come," she commanded of him, in this almost nurturing tone, as she began to make her way towards the giant doorway the boy had just went through. Without much time to even think on it, he attempts to follow, just for answers. By now, he's getting used to walking without his arms, which he notices right away. It bothered him. It bothered him how quickly he was adapting. Well, at least he isn't making a haphazardly attempt at keeping pace anymore.
That butler guy goes for the left behind cup of tea and coaster, managing to pass Ragna with ease in order to keep stride with the girl. He gets her attention easily enough, holding the tea out in her reach.
"Thank you, Valkenhayn," she said while grabbing the cup, holding it in her hand as she continued down the hallway. She turned her head to Ragna as soon as she took a sip from the cup.
"You already know Valkenhayn, I assume?" She gestured to him, with Valkenhayn just silently looking at the boy before walking off elsewhere. Ragna paid no attention to him as he kept his gaze on the girl.
"Have you ever met Jubei?" She asked immediately after her butler left, forcing the young boy to try and think. Jubei... That cat thing that sometimes visited the church...? For a moment, a thought floated through his mind that that thing was responsible, but during the moment after, thought about the silhouette he had seen. Impossible, he thought.
"Y-yeah..." He answered, after spending approximately two to three seconds on the topic in his mind. She smiles.
"You just thought that person did it, didn't you?" She said to him. He stops in his tracks, while she just enjoys the show happening on the outside for him. How did she know that, he thinks as his stare is set on her. Can she read minds or something? Was is how I reacted to the name...?
"You'll find out soon enough how, but for now," she started speaking as soon as she began her walking again, Ragna forced to follow. However, he's becoming less awkward enough to try and get in front of her.
"H-hey!" She giggled as he yelled that out, attempting to get her attention once again. She's having fun at my expense, he believes as manages to build up speed.
"Jubei found out it would happen, but couldn't get there in time," she said, her giggling halted, but her stride increasing, "so he asked me to help." She spoke grimly, but maintaining the speed of her walk, with Ragna soon able to stand right next to her. Her eyes turned to him, that playful face of her having washed away into one of seriousness.
"I'm sorry," she said, Ragna's reaction being to stop in his tracks at those words. Each other's eyes just gaze at each other. Ragna's in surprise. Her's in regret. She stopped.
"Let me give you a question," she let those words pour out from her lips. Ragna just stands there, still confused by the whole affair. Maybe he's still unconscious in the rain and all of this is just a dying hallucination he's having. He waits for that question to come.
"Would like your arms back?" The surprises keep piling on for him. How, he thinks, how could she give me back my arms? Maybe she's a Magic user, like all the nuns were back at the church. Maybe to an even larger degree; the nuns could only make and maintain some kind of thing they called a field. They talked of it all the time.