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Form, Reason, and Truth

Chapter Text

The apothecary’s eyes narrowed as he lay hidden among the crowd of alien and human alike. He saw the blue-skinned entity walk down the street as just about everyone near him swooned. Especially that young and innocent child. He carried his enormous medicine box. He knew there was a demon possessing a twisted soul, but what sort of twist was there? Was it hatred? Revenge? Restless injustice? The apothecary needed to know.

 

Albert smiled, sitting across form the Count who was telling a chilling story about Eastern Space, about a young girl whose mother was murdered and the girl was sold into slavery. Franz, Maximillian, and Robert were all listening intently. Franz being more horrified than the other three, he commented on the brutality of the story.

“Yes, it is not a faerie tale or princess story. Much worse than any Grimm’s story, it is one of petty hatred, unnecessary violence, and cruelty. Have I made you uncomfortable? I apologize,” said the Count with a smug curl of his lip.

The Viscount was sure to correct him. “No, not at all Sir! It really is tragic, the poor girl, having no where left to go and forced to do the bidding of disgusting old men like that…”

The four of them sat in silence for a moment.

“Well, if this is a true story, how on earth did it spread? If it’s well known, the men must have been caught and turned in if it were really in our section of Space.” Robert needed every detail and every plot hole filled, of course, being as detail-oriented as he was in his line of work.

“Of course. She was later saved as two previously-thugs-turned-hired-arms murdered the lot of them. It was an incredibly bloody fight from what I gather.”

“Oh? And what, they somehow weren’t tried for murder because these men were in slave trade? Sounds unlikely.”

“Of course it is, because that’s not how it happened.

The Count was thoroughly annoyed by the journalist’s prodding. He was sure he has outright behaved in such a way that Robert would get the idea, but the youth persisted.

“Don’t be rude, Robert!” scolded Albert.

“Sorry, sorry! Now, about that story…”

The Count was interrupted by the slightest chime in the room. The three younger men looked up to the ceiling and around the room. The Count still held his sanguine expression but shifted his gaze from one end of the room to the other. Bertuccio approached them.

“Sir, there is a medicine seller asking if we’re in need of any supplies. He also sells herbs, spices, and various recipes.”

The Count knew Baptistan’s fondness for cooking would want him to buy some of the apothecary’s wares.

“What’s some wandering peddler doing at a place like this?” asked Maximillian.

“Really, have you seen the place? Obviously he just wants a quick scam to get some cash,” replied Robert.

Franz stepped into the conversation to add, “But the outside is just the villa. The Count’s additions are subterranean.”

“Why don’t we ask this peddler to come inside? It wouldn’t hurt to at least be hospitable.” The Count wouldn’t mind an extra future pawn to his plot in the long run, anyway.

“Really? That’s so kind of you, Sir.” Of course Albert would e the one to compliment him. An added boost to his ego.

Bertuccio bowed and left the four of them to sit in silence before returning with a young man clad in colorful attire.

The Apothecary was dressed no different than he was thousands of years ago. So long as there were still Mononoke, he would not rest. He would not die. It was an endless cycle of which he never tired. He bowed respectively.

“I am humbled by your beautiful home, Count of Monte Cristo.”

“What’s with the getup, man,” asked Robert.

Before Viscount Albert could scold him again, the peddler simply said, “I am a medicine seller.”

“And that’s supposed to explain it? What exactly do you sell? Snake vodka? Scorpion stingers? Hm?”

“Yes. And mint, lemongrass, space rations, and much more.”

Maximillian was the first to notice the scales that stood on top of his large backpack.

“What exactly is that?”

“Scales.”

Albert furrowed his brow. “But they’re so tiny! What does they even weigh?”

“Distance.”

The Count listened to the banter, sitting back. The curious little thing intrigued him.

“Scales that don’t measure any weight? What’s the point of that? How do they measure distance?” Franz was as skeptical as ever.

Apothecary did not reply. Instead, he asked, “This woman you speak of. Is she still living?”

“Oh, you heard that, did you? Yes, she is. Her name is Haydée..”

The three young aristocrats looked at him in shock.

“Haydée?” Started Maximillian. “The woman who plays harp? How awful!”

“Yes.”

Apothecary narrowed his eyes. “How long ago was this incident?”

“Hey, what’s with the interrogation?” Robert crossed his arms and sat back.

“Don’t get offended, Robert, just because someone else decided to ask the Count intrusive questions.”

“It’s my job!”

Right.”

The Count waited or their banter to end before speaking.

“I’m afraid I forget just quite how long ago.”

The Apothecary stood silent. His makeup made it seem like he was smiling. The Count knew better; he saw the downward curl of his lip. He was scowling under his colorful visage.

“Aren’t you going to try and sell us anything or are you just going to stand there asking weird questions?”

Kusuriuri took wares from his drawer, showing them various medicines and antioxidants. Albert found a small mixture that was lime green in color. Its bottle also held a scorpion.

“Hallucinogenic,” Kusuriuri explained briefly. “A special mixture that allows one to see ghosts and spirits.”

“And you expected us to believe that?” Robert said while taking pictures of the Apothecary’s oddities. Kusuriuri shrugged. The peddler was showing his wares to the young aristocrats. The Count did not move from his seat, only watched them have their fun.

“What is that…?” General Maximillian asked, breath taken by the sheath of the short sword in the medicine box’s drawer.

“A sword.”

“Well, yes I can see that… But it’s very different. Is it Japanese? The details are amazing.”

“It is not for sale.”

“I apologize! But… Would you be able to draw it out? I would like to see it.”

“It cannot be drawn.”

The nobles were intrigued.

“What you mean ‘cant be drawn’?” asked Maximillian.

“It needs to know the Form, the Truth, and the Reason behind a mononoke.”

“You talk like it’s a sentient being…” Franz said in annoyance.

The Apothecary turned to him. The scale’s bells fell and it chimed.

“That sound… Really, what are they…”

“I told you. Scales that measures distance.”

The Count glared. “Distance to what, exactly?”

“Mononoke.”

The lights flickered.

“Don’t use your parlor tricks to scare us!”

“I’m just an Apothecary…” Kusuriuri said in a voice that was soft and silver-gilt.

“What’s a… Mononoke?” Albert was curious if not intimidated.

The Count spoke instead. “A type of ghost. It means spirit, and usually is a type of spirit that is restless in this world and refuses to go back to its own.”

“They have purpose. They desire what they once had, desire justice for their loss, and desire others to suffer for them.”

Although the Count kept his composure, he felt a dark suspicion towards the peddler. “But why would an apothecary need such tool for spirits?”

“To exorcise them.”

“Right, so now you’re an exorcist now,” Franz sneered. “There’s no such thing as spirits or mononoke.”

Kusuriuri looked to the Count of Monte Cristo.

“I came here because there is a spirit, a mononoke, among you.”

The Count needed this man to be dealt with.

Maximillion was just as fascinated as Albert. “And you use this sword to take care of such spirits?”

“Yes. But in order to use it, the Form, Truth, and Reason for the mononoke but be known.”

“Form, Truth, and Reason…” Albert echoed the words as if they were foreign to him.

“Form: its physical appearance as well as what it actually is. Seeing something does not simply tell you what it is. Truth: The events surrounding its progression into spirithood. And Reason: Its purpose and reasoning for remaining in this world. Reason, Regret, Purpose, they are the same, but all very different. It is annoying; your language limiting the meaning of kotowari.”

As if the world around him had paused, Kusuriuri was now looking up and yet down, standing on the ceiling-turned floor, watching the aristocrats. The Count and he were both standing across from one another at the gilded ceiling as a creature with the upper body of a bird and the bottom half of a human gasped for air. It had no wings nor arms; it simply struggled, feathers flaring, twitching against the golden surface as it gurgled and made crying sounds like an infant. The lights flickered again.

“Hey, I thought I told you-“

“It isn’t him.” The Count sitting back against the chair interrupted.

“Oh no... Don’t tell me, you think it’s a ghost too.”

“There have been occurrences for quite some time, now. Bertuccio and Baptistant insist it is nothing, but they are good and would rather I not worry.”

“Oh shit, we’re going to be late…” Started Franz. “We have to see Eugenie’s concert or she’ll kill us!”

The younger men sighed, gathered what things they had, and said farewell to the Count. The Apothecary bowed to the Count respectively.

He lingered behind the aristocrats, pasting his charms to the walls. The letters swirled and twisted, becoming the eyes that would watch for Mononoke. Albert told the others to go ahead without him. He ran back to Kusuriuri and gave him a sum of francs for the bottle. Curious, he opened it and took a sip. He was startled by someone yelling.

“Christ of shit!!

Albert and the Apothecary turned around to see Baptistan running with full force. He ran past them to get to a trollie to take a collection of steak knives and stand ready for a fight. There was nothing behind him but the sound of puttering feet could be heard all around them.

“Not this shit again, come on.”

Apothecary’s world topped once more. He was no longer with Baptistan or Albert. There was a figure in the distance, hidden in the darkness of the hallway. There were tentacles splayed out along the walls and floor. Several fish-like beings with a single leg for their lower bodies twitched and gasped in agony. Kusuriuri found it odd, finding ayakashi and other sea-born spirits in the middle of this place. He wondered if they were brought here. The puttering was not of feet, but the tapping of tentacles along the walls and the struggles of these fish-beings.

The world as normal again, the sounds had stopped.

“What was that, Baptistan?”

“Hell if I know, but it’s starting to get real damn annoying.”

The paper charms began to glow red.

“Who the hell did this? Don’t just put your garbage on the Count’s walls!” Baptistan tried to touch one but was shocked by a strange current.

Ow. Dammit.”

“Mr. Apothecary… What was that?”

“Mononoke.”

“Huh?” Baptistan gave them a look. The Count emerged from the hall, carrying his staff. He was surprised to see Albert and Kusuriuri still there.

“Did you hear any of that, Sir?”

“No, I’m afraid I did not. Hear what, exactly?”

Baptistan sneered. “Those footsteps!”

“Oh? I see. Perhaps our Exorcist here could help rid us of a spirit.”

Apothecary didn’t say anything.

“An exorcist, huh? Jeez, sire, you sure know how to keep good company,” Baptistan joked. Albert furrowed his brow, not knowing either the pasts of any of the Count’s servants thus not understanding the joke.

The Count looked over to the wall covered in charms. They were still glowing. He knew Gankutsuou within him was setting them off. He was sure the Apothecary knew as well.

“I need to find out more about this spirit.”

“Count, sir, this is Villefort’s old home, is it not? Could we ask him?”

“I’m afraid His Honor is held at the capital, however from what I gather, there has been a few incidents before regarding his own grandfather at this villa. However, let us go back to the denroom. Baptistan, could you make us tea?” The servant bowed and went back to his work, keeping the knives between his fingers.

            Kusuriuri put down his medicine box before taking a seat. He kept his legs tightly closed and his hands in his lap as he sat on the edge of the seat.

“These monsters appear to have come from a voyage, perhaps. They are of the sea from far away. Some are Japanese. Others I am unsure. I am unfamiliar with the creatures of Paris or the region of France…”

The Count of Monte Cristo tried his damn hardest not to sneer, to keep Gankutsuou inside.

“... It may prove difficult, as what these creatures are is a part of their Form. Without their entire Form, even with their Truth and Reason, I may not be able to draw my sword against them.”

“It wont otherwise be drawn? You have to know those things?”

Kusuriuri nodded. “Ah.”

“Then first they must be drawn out. However, it is unlikely these mononoke are completely independent of one another.”

“Ah.”

“But, how would we do that, Sir?”

“Peddler?”

“Exploration,” he said simply.

Albert was somewhat drawn to his simplistic answers. “That’s all?”

“Ah.”

"Then I propose we have a little fun, a game of sorts," proposed the Count. "To search for clues behind this lead mononoke."

Kusuriuri was intrigued by the Counts idea and grinned, his small mouth filled with more teeth than any normal human.

"What say you, Albert? Sir Merchant?"

"I'm in!"

"The mononoke are sure to be drawn by our play."

"Then it is settled. Shall we?"

Albert gleamed and followed behind the Count and his intricate cape. Kusuriuri stood and brought his medicine box along with them, sword securely snug at his obi. Albert lingered behind for a moment, wondering if he could try to see these spirits. He took another drink of that bottle.

"They come from the sea, this we know," said the Apothecary. "Are there perhaps rooms pertaining to this interest? Of fishing, sailing, or otherwise–"

"I had added to an old cargo hold and built a docking bay on the roof and top floors" interrupted the Count. "The Villefort Family once had it as a small cargo hold to do with a sailing expeditions he invested his time and effort in, one involving Danglars and... Morcerf."

"That's right! My father said he initially met them a long time ago while going on a voyage. He married my mother after he came back from that voyage to Eastern Space!"

Edmond could feel Gankutsuou grip tightly around his glass-encased heart, squeezing profusely. He fought back the monster; not here, not now.

“But, I didn’t think Villefort actually went on the voyage, or his family.”

“No, but he and his family did take direct shipments and cargo for themselves. I wouldn’t doubt he’s never seen a star any closer than the tallest building in Paris.”

Kusuriuri noticed the spiritual struggle of the Count and wondered about his inner dialogue.

"Then this docking bay is where we shall start."

Chapter Text

They arrived to the elevator, stepping inside. This time, Albert was taken to the "Other" world. The Count and Apothecary were not inside; he was alone in the gilded and caged box. He heard rumbling, hissing, and a strange guttural noise, looking up he squeaked as he covered his mouth to muffle the sound. There was a pile of inhuman bodies writhing above the roof of the cage. Most were serpent-like and still humanoid, or fish with many large, red eyes gasping for life. There were claws of birds, gulls he assumed, clawing through and killing the ayakashi. Albert's stomach charred at the squelch it made. His hands clamped over his mouth tightened as blood fell to his face.

"Albert? We're here."

Suddenly, there was nothing there. He stood in shock before lowering his hands slightly, looking to his left, then right, then to the Count and Apothecary. His breath shuddered.

"Mononoke..." He whispered.

"Good," replied Kusuriuri. "That means we are in the right direction."

Albert was in that world for but a few seconds. Was it really longer? He brushed himself off as if the monsters left dust behind. He rubbed his face and looked at his hand, surprised to see there was no blood. He looked back up and saw the two older men had gone ahead of him. He caught up with them as they stood still, looking at how empty the whole room was.

"I apologize. We have not yet repurposed the room."

"No, it is better like this. If you were to change it, it could disturb the ayakashi, further, thus making it more difficult to find the Truth or Reason as they would become more erratic."

A chime was heard. There were three scales whose bells fell and they tilted and spun. They pointed in front of them, where a ship would have sat to unload."

Kusuriuri stepped one foot back, his pointer and middle fingers crossed each other. With a flick of his wrists, he held more paper charms. Another flick and they multiplied. His right arm circled outward and back in as he took another step back. He threw the charms and they landed sporadically along the docking bay, swirling with spellwards before becoming glowing red eyes.

The floor grew dark and the walls twisted and melted away. A phantasmagoria of gold and aquatic colors glimmered as the three of them appeared to float on nothingness. A shape from the floor emerged; it was red, it's scales gilded. Out came an enormous crustacean claw with an eye on either side of its joint. Then tendrils came, the same strange color. The head of a fish, the head of a lobster, between them the enormous head of a whale. Behind them was a cluster of wings, crustacean claws, and talons that twitched along the whale-creature’s back It’s tail swished to and fro. The chimeric terror had only the one functional claw, fused with tails and fins of fish; a jabberwock of sorts.

"So this is the Form... An enigmatic purée of monstrous proportion. How disgusting."

"Reason and Truth are still unknown."

The creature's enormous claw raised and began to fall. The Count grabbed Albert by his collar and pulled him back, throwing him out of the way.

"Aughfff..!"

He held up his staff alongside Kusuriuri and his sheathed sword; the absinthine gem at the end of it radiated brightly. The two of them tensed as the massive force crashed into them, pushing the two of them back as they held their ground.

The monstrous chimera was not completely surfaced, part of it still stayed attached to the ground. Albert was too frozen in fear as the Count, with the marking of Gankutsuou, bared his teeth and pushed back against the enormous claw with all his strength along side Kusuriuri. The Medicine Seller had little expression save for minor strain, but he could not fight the beast alone.

Albert!” growled the Count. Albert jumped with a start.

“Go! Run and get– argh!– my servants!”

Albert hesitated.

Now!

He shook before gathering himself and running out the room. He ran to the elevator and pressed the buttons frantically. He flinched at the sound of growls and what could simply be described as a white noise of animal calls. Albert looked up and screamed from deep in his throat. Blood spilled from the top of the cage as the elevator moved. He tried to stop the elevator and as it slowed and opened, he ran out. With another screech as the floor twisted into various colors, he ran directly into Ali, who had come to see what the fuss had been.

“The Count!” Albert managed.

Ali did not need to hear anything else. He ran ahead of Albert back in the direction of the elevator but opened the door beside it. The slender alien ran up the stairwell and Viscount Morcerf followed. The boy was tired as hell, but he did not stop. He needed to help do something, help the Count, help the Apothecary.

At the top floor, he saw Ali take a whip and snap it at the great monster. At some point between Albert catching up and right then and there, he had taken the time to find salt water to throw at the great beast. It cried and shriveled back into its hole.

Albert ran to the Count and Medicine Seller.

“Sirs! Are you both alright?” Albert’s hand gently touched the Count’s arm, holding his sleeve. The Count touched the boy’s hand to assure him he was fine. Albert smiled then turned to the Apothecary. For a moment, he was entranced by Kusuriuri’s otherworldly appearance. His callous remarks and stoicism were total opposite of the Count’ demeanor. Kusuriuri’s gaze fell on him and he squeaked, blushing slightly from embarrassment and turned away.

“If you make sounds like that, people will wonder if you sound as pathetic during bedroom acts.”

Albert’s face flush as he opened his mouth to protect, but said nothing.

“Ali,” said the Count, to distract from the situation. “I thank you for your assistance.”

The alien brought his tridactyl hands to his chest and bowed.

“How did you know to do that, sir?” asked Albert.

The alien tilted his head and made formations with his lengthy fingers. Albert shrunk slightly, not understanding French Sign Language let alone some other form of it from Eastern Space. The Count boffed.

“He says it is a creature he knows from his homeland.”

This piqued Apothecary’s interest. “Oh?”

“A… Bahamut? Yes, Bahamut, apparently a strange adaptation of the Behemoth monster.”

Ali touched his fingers together in rest.

“It looked like it was a part of the floor…”

The mute servant continued, his hands swayed outward and formed a circle before he touched his thumbs and fingers together. Another odd display of hand gestures later, the Count translated: “The Bahamut is what holds together the world. Each planet and star has one. This one is from a place long dead, he assumes.”

“So one must assume his Reason is that he is lost. No longer among his own planet, he is in range. One of few mononoke who wish to go back, but cannot. I wonder why he is stuck here.”

“Maybe his plant or star was destroyed? Count, how long has he been here? Since you came? Or maybe before?”

The Count was puzzled for a moment, himself. The Villefort family had no troubles that he had heard of, other than the affair with the current Mrs. Danglars. He wondered secretly if he had brought it himself without knowing.

“From what I gather, there was a prison Villefort had connection with. It was a prison that Villefort as Judge would send, not to their death, but to torture. It was recently destroyed, I’ve heard, the prelude to His Honor’s bloodlust.”

“Then that is his Reason. Lost feelings of helplessness, unbelonging, and unwanting in an alien world unknown to him. But we need his Truth, still. The actual happenings, the events that lead to his world’s destruction.”

Gankutsuou stirred within the Count.

“How will we find out something like that…?”

“Hn…” The Apothecary pondered before tilting his head and shrugging with the same deadpanned expression. “No idea.”

“There…! There has to be a way, right? Count? Sir Ali?”

The Count said nothing but Ali nodded. His fingers made a closing ormation before he continued.

“There are ways to see the truth without causing pain to those around you,” translated the Count.

“Without causing pain to– What’s that supposed to mean?”

Kusuriuri spoke. “That in seeing the Truth, you would perhaps hurt those around you.”

Albert sighed. “Gee, thanks.”

The Count gave Ali a questioning glance. The alien simply bowed.

“Well, I guess we ought to find out this Truth, then! Ali, what are we supposed to do?”

“Divination.”

Chapter Text

Kusuriuri sat on his knees as Albert and the Count sat a ways off to the side. The Count allowed him to prop a shrine of intricate colors in a cozy area in the den. The Apothecary was cleansing his hands in a mixture he had made himself from a variety of things in his medicine box. The shrine of sorts was set against the top of a short bookshelf. Within it was a piece of scale the Count and he were able to take from the Bahamut. Behind the scale was a gilt-framed mirror and his sheathed sword.

“Sir…?”

“Yes, Monsieur Viscount?”

“What... Is that?”

“I would guess it’s similar to a kamidana, however, I am embarrassed to admit I am not well versed in Far Eastern customs. Kamidana are generally shrines to particular deities in worship. Rather, I presume this is a form of divination, as he said.”

Kusuriuri’s eyes glanced back, hearing their voices, but he did not turn to them. Ali stood by the door, waiting patiently for the event to unfold. While the shrine perhaps looked similar to what the Count described, it was a completely different tool, one Kusuriuri favored for scrying events, borrowed from Grecian and Japanese alike. Instead, he owed to the shrine, nose to the floor, muttering as he sat up again. Standing, the sleeves of his kimono swung with him as he made a circle with his arms, paper charms surrounded him. A lightforce connected each red-glowing charm, magnifying what the mirror began to show. While the mute servant had little expression to physically show, he was stiff, seeing the images flashing of a place the Count would prefer to never see again.

The Count kept a distant expression, but the pain of seeing the horrid prison he had been kept was rustling his heart. The very same Chateau D’if that prodded his body with tubes and wires, marred his visage with scratches, piercings, holes, and scars. The image of it again, he couldn’t keep a straight face for long. His pupils gone small, his jaw tight… Edmond Dantes thought he would not see this place again, where he met Gankutsuou, where his body was nearly disintegrated by pain.

“…Count?”

Albert’s voice snapped him back to what was happening. The Chateau D’if was imploding, crumbling with its prisoners inside. A light could be seen from it. Edmond knew it was he himself, escaping with Gankutsuou, in search of a ship before the planet would entirely fall.

“A powerful creature, a mononoke I cannot described, is the culprit of this destruction, attached to perhaps a ship that found its way here.”

So that was it. Albert was amazed.

“It simply cannot go back to a home that no longer exists. It’s Truth is now evident.”

Gankutsuou struggled against the Count’s heart. Edmond did his best to keep him at bay.

“Then we have enough known to unsheathe your sword and rid of this nuisance.”

“Ah.”

“Well, let’s go!”

If the Bahamut is lost and no longer of his own star, he could assume that when his prison was destroyed by Gankutsuou, the monster perhaps clung to his own ship. But why follow him so far?

Albert was more excited than the two inhuman entities that followed him to the elevator. They both strode silently beside one another, knowing that the other was neither human nor alien any longer. Albert and Ali waited for them by the elevator. On the way up, Albert held his breath. He was not ready to see monstrous masses of feather and flesh bleed on his face again. Both the Count placed a hand on his arm and Kusuriuri placed his on the boy’s shoulder at the same time. Edmond felt a boiling possessiveness. The Apothecary’s face was as expressionless as ever beneath his pseudo-smile crafted by makeup. Albert, unaware of the atmosphere, simply felt comforted by the two, one an aristocrat and the other a not-so-simple peddler. Albert flushed.

“Are you alright?”

Albert’s hands covered his mouth, hoping to hide his warm face. He nodded quickly.

“Here we are.”

The caged doors opened and they were once again in the docking bay. It was already a swirling abstraction of colors waiting for them. Albert hesitated but was urged on by both the Count and Apothecary. From the floor came the great Behemoth again. Ali and the Count readied themselves. Albert moved back behind the three aliens. Kusuriuri lifted his hand as his sword floated above him. Both hands up with his pointer and middle fingers extended, he pulled his hands apart, but the sword above him did not unsheathe. His teeth bared in annoyance.

What.”

The Behemoth threw weight into its claw to thwart them. The Count, using Gankutsuou’s impossible strength, deflected the impact, but the aftershock knocked Viscount Morcef back. Ali went to him, seeing to his possible concussion. Gankutsuou could not contain himself any longer. The Count’s jaw stretched and his markings glowed. The eyes of Gankutsuou took over his face. Kusuriuri could not keep his eyes rom widening with interest. How delightful.

Gankutsuou roared and used his staff to fight off the claw of the Bahamut. Kusuriuri straightened his posture and took a few steps back. He was taken to the memory of Gankutsuou and and the Count, within Chateau D’if. There he saw the man formerly known as Edmond Dantes covered nearly head to toe in a shell of wire, tubes, and plugs dug into his skin. Kusuriuri turned his head and saw a flash of color, the essence of Bahamut, calm and a part of his own world. Looking back, he saw the hovering figure of Gankutsuou before Edmond, whose sheer hands gently caressed the poor man’s face before enveloping him. The mass of wire and plugs eroded from Edmond’s body as he screeched, dribble falling from his mouth now growing sharp fangs. His skin became blue and his naked frame pushed himself from his bonds. His “cell” crackled with electricity. It would surely be the reason for the Chateau’s destruction, sparking and eliminating this particular district, setting off the others.

Kusuriuri understood, now. Gankutsuou, the mononoke of the heart’s caverns saved Edmond and in turn, sought shelter, used him as a host while giving him freedom, thus destroying the Bahamut’s world. The Bahamut was not lost, he was seeking the same vengeance as Edmond. Kusuriuri did not understand what Edmond sought, but he did not need to know. He raised his sheath once more as the world was normal, Gankutsuou, the Count’s own Otherself fought the Bahamut in the distance. Apothecary opened the sheath and its power overcame him. Markings of gold covered his body. Majokariou, Otherself, became him. With a gold mirror that expanded, he attacked, breaking through the mirror with his sword of abstract light and energy. The Bahamut screamed as both Gankutsuou and Majokariou’s weapons, green, orange, violet, and gold all at once struck his body. The impact instantaneously vanquished the monster.

Chapter Text

Albert awoke with a start, sitting up and called out for the Count. He stopped when he realized he was in bed.

“I’m right here.”

Albert looked to his side and saw the Count had made him tea at his bedside.

“You drank too much of that peddler’s hallucinogenic.”

Albert looked down at his hands, kneading the bed sheets in his palms.

“Don’t worry, it isn’t fatal. Try not to buy strange drugs from strangers, next time.”

Albert made a face before burying it in his hands like a child. The Count laughed at him and gave him a cup of hot tea. Albert thanked him. He supposed he’d get chewed out by Eugenie later for missing her concert…

Kusuriuri stood outside the villa, looking back to the room the Count and Albert were staying before turning. With medicine box packed, he headed off again. It would not be wise to fight a creature such as Gankutsuou or Edmond. Their symbiosis were near exactly the same as his and Otherself’s. More so than he cares to admit. More so than his spirit-run memory would allow him to understand.