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Among these arenaceous matters

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Satisfaction are sometimes easily achieved from nonsensical moments that people waste their time in and call it 'fragments of life'. Satisfaction comes from random things, as familiar as they can get from ordinary interactions with casual occurrences, yet at certain instances being ridiculously exquisite if there was enough meticulousness rendered to the scrutiny of such regularities.

It is like this...

Velvety hair being caressed by soft breezes, sunlight kissing tanned skin, mellow tastes of fine wine dribbling down the esophagus while a few drops still remain on the luscious lips,... Everything they enjoy are attained by the damnation of anything anthropocentric.

.

It was a tranquil afternoon in which two melancholic photospheres banally fell down to the darkening horizon from afar, with faded clouds floating on the bluest shade of the sky like they were going to solvate into faint pellucidity of that humid atmosphere on the dry planet - yes, another mundane day in this interminable sequels of malaise that have no remedy (or maybe the cure was not discovered yet). Little Hyacinth, still an early adolescent boy at that time, tried to approach his Boss in the most humble manner as he could portray, with nimble footsteps swiftly landed on the cold metal surface until he reached his target of adoration and bowed his head, one lithe leg bent lying down and another one had its sole positioned on the floor supporting his submissive posture - a refined cat-like genuflection. He defined elegance by every movements, truly gratification to the eyes.

His Master, Apollo of a glowing sun with eyes of sapphire, while carelessly glimpsing at that hazy azure summer sky above their heads, did not miss a motion of his follower, who was by then already eager to start a conversation.

"Master, are you bored?"

"I am not, but you certainly are."

The boy bit his lip in embarrassment as he knew his childish intention of luring his Lord into a talk was stripped after that reply. He had been stripped forcefully before, but he thought all those years of his previous life would have had blurred the recognition of shame in him, yet he found himself being intimidated easily with this new Owner instead, not by fear perception nor romantic tendencies, nor rapid infatuation nor lustful desires; he just wanted to appreciate this ethereal anthropomorphic sophistication (mayhap he should not indicate his Signore's characteristics in order not to provoke anger from such madcap Being, despite paradoxically obvious resemblances between Him and the species He loathed). The admiration was too overwhelming it consumed the kid and he enjoyed it wholeheartedly.

Fool, Apollo thought so, another spider driven by its desire for connection. Half of him did not want to continue chattering with the brat out of arrogance and a feeling of superiority being an adult against a human child, half of him found himself no more mature than the brat.

"What do you want to say?"

"Do you consider humans to be similar to onions, Sir?" The young opportunist grabbed that single chance of a possible chat in a split second.

"An onion is not a critter..."

"That's not what I meant..."

Since the day he picked up this problematic juvenile from that abomination of a crooked town, Apollo had always found himself - both of them, actually - having difficulties during verbal exchanges which they did not carry off casually. Maybe the little spider was somewhat autistic; maybe Apollo, after all those years of negligence in forming associations, had forgotten what proper communication between individuals was like. He just simply no longer cared.

But with the oddities in those unexpected speeches that he was subconsciously invited in occasionally, guess he would not mind a bit of frivolous pontification.

"Onions, you said? How are humans supposed to be similar to onions?"

"Well," - Little Hyacinth lowered his gaze, followed with a hasty rant, "they emit repellent stimuli that disgust you just by their presences. Their scents are abhorrently conspicuous and if they approach you within a distance close enough, you can feel them irritate your eyes.

And while you might want to evade from interactions with such provocative onions, yet out of curiosity, you end up pulling off layers and layers of their shells in order to find out that their bulbs are the most concentrated parts of lachrymatory factor - the most repugnant parts, definitely.

By then, you probably want to cook them up because a raw onion won't work on a fine dining dish, just like how humans' relationship won't work out if all of them are alive."

"So, your point is?"

"It's either you or they disappear, otherwise it won't work out."

"'Disappear', you meant 'completely eliminated'?"

"Yes, that was what I meant. A raw onion is like a raw human; both are disgusting and only get better after being cooked." Wait, that sounded cannibalistic somehow. "A living chunk of meat called human is an anathema indeed."

The determination in his declamation amused Apollo, quite surprising as he had rarely been amused before yet ironically this tiny sponger was somehow able to bring out the most appropriate phrases that Apollo enjoyed heartily even though those words were not expected, as least not consciously expected.

"That's an extreme hedgehog's dilemma you have there."

"Maybe, Sir."

"Maybe that is also applicable to us. I might get bored with you soon, and so might you." - with his head slightly lifted up out of curiosity, the boy could see his exquisite Seignor staring at him in such a delicate manner (that made his heart tingling subtly) and suddenly smiled (which He had rarely done before; it was mostly bitter smirks that He painted on His gorgeous face), "What if I eliminate you then?"

He wanted to response with something genuine, but the words kept lingering around his tongue and froze before they could escape from his lips. Silence of a lamb kneeling before his God, not exactly, perhaps more akin to a creatural parasite of a filthy human with anthropoid cognition who had actualized the meaning of his existence within this formalistic world. That is true; his Deity exists among these concrete entities.

"You can eliminate me right now if you feel pleased with my disappearance, Master." - he finally reconnected his vague thoughts together barely enough to form a proper answer, "Please don't devalue yourself like that."

"Devalue?"

"I will never, never get bored with you, my Boss. You're not like those humans. You're not… human."

"I see." - a calm response of no vivid emotion portrayed; not an expected yet a predictable outcome. Apollo could tell right away that this minuscule rascal did not concern much as he failed to notice that there was no way for Apollo to acknowledge whether that elimination would please him or not without doing the actual murder, but there was no need to ramble on about it. "Are you done blabbering yet?"

"Yes, I'm done."

"Good. This is enough for now."

Little Hyacinth, by the time Apollo finished his sentence that marked the end of those unspoken pleonasms on trivialities, could see a grin that did not last for long on his Superior's face that left him in uncertainty of whether he imagined it or not, yet the softness in His voice made the boy decided that it was appropriate for them to engage in another conversation as savory as this one in other delicious incidents.

What a clumsy yet cute attempt to deliver adulation, an bizarre honesty that could be easily read through the enthusiasm written on his innocent face and servile attitude (in which the boy himself did not recognize those remaining traits). Through the psychic ability of affective component reading, every bit of Apollo's ego was buoyed up with the feeling of satisfaction that caused him to slightly shiver in delight. This, ladies and gentlemen and nobody, this is how one's pride got pampered, by puerile gestures rooted from hero worship in which it was more precise to call that devotion by the name of 'attachments disorder'. Say, in this lonely world of endless humdrum while lacking the accompaniment of the brother Apollo had regard for, why not keeping for oneself a source of recreation during the wait?

In the end, that thing was not bad for a spider.

Chapter Text

He is not a man of patience.

That was what the brat had learnt after spending a majority of his granted invigoration with the One that saved him. He does not give away commitment. He does not have a liking for association. He does not have any sympathy for mankind. He does not care about anyone.

Maybe except for one, but the boy had never met that person before.

The irony is, while being unfamiliar to that particular target of his Boss's interest, there was still a bizarre glimmering flame of envy that quietly consumed his fragile ego, slowly and slowly burnt every bit of pride he had as a dedicated follower he always claimed to be, until the point shreds of ideas about eliminating him in order to preserve Master's attention for himself started to appear and mingle along the thoughts of his own promise of eternal loyalty. For someone whose life only revolved around a single Figure, such conception was highly inappropriate (granted that guy was the target of Boss's regards, not him, which was another irony in his existence of complementary contradictions and continual dilemmas).

Should he kill that man and get destroyed within his Lord's repugnance? Should he spend his efforts trying to shepherd him back to the Don that cared for him so intensively? Should he sabotage himself so the Dominus would not have to, knowing that he would never receive reciprocation for this thorough devotion until he dies? Should he slaughter that man and kill himself before He get enraged and punish him with the worst damnation?

In any option that could be committed, he found himself deserving his God's anathema afterward. His Deus was hard to please and the boy received punishments quite frequently, sometimes he got a slap on his cheek or a punch on his abdomen, other times He would climb on him and furiously lecture about His expectations on standardized fulfillment and minimum attainments while pressing His lower limbs against his body. Every blow He delivered came along with grace, it made him confused between guilt and euphoria (they seemed to be better when being blended) that he could melt into liquid and vaporize within this constant havoc. That was when the kid realized they were both broken to their cores. He enjoyed this anguish wholeheartedly yet ravished himself with the awareness that he could not please his Dio. He could try willingly to achieve and relinquish anything if He wants him to, yet it seemed like He could never be fully satisfied. His adherence could not soothe His distress nor his diligence could make Him happy. When was the last time a smile got displayed on that elegant face?

If he could not gain the Deity's affection, could he become His worst abomination instead so his negligible actuality would be perpetually carved into His mind? If he could not make him laugh, could he add up to the overwhelming hatred within His mind? Liking him or loathing him, that God would bless him with a delightful death.

Yet a dim hope of experiencing the Angel's genuine fondness still loitered around his mind, vaguely.

.

He defied hedonism. What humans truly deserve is doom.

(Not entirely, because he loved food, and he loved to eat, not only to fill his stomach but also to wash these disgusting tastes on his tongue with savory meals and redeem the irrational fear of losing the right to consume edibles (but considering His disciplines did not include restrictions on anything personal to the follower because He did not have time for those trivialities, this fear was indeed unrealistic). Why not enjoying a bit of finesse when dwelling in this madness of a planet since he would vanish one day anyway?

Hypocritical much?)

Earnestly, he knew himself had not been tormented enough yet could not be contented completely with this blissful revivification, although having received many privileges he never thought he would have, at least he did not die from starvation - like many had - nor got killed by repulsive conflicts - like many had. There is just no way to retain those emotions that had been long lost, and he does not need them anyway. It is better to die knowing enough about these neverending chaos than surviving with an oblivious mindset to nonsensically wander among these common stigmas, which was why he chose to serve Him. The decision was made from his own free will, or maybe a delusion of free will he had, perhaps, considering he was probably just another deterministic pathetic being with epistemological flaws and narrow shallow cognition, however he preferred to think that he somehow had free will alongside these constraints of the mind. He was not sure whether his statement was a ridiculous oxymoron or not, but whatever, he is quite tolerant of paradoxes anyway. After all this vast reality is not limited within his perspective, there would always be several subjective realities he could not manage; the world is moved by different forces. At least he could catalyze those people's tragedies and orchestrate their mobility with his threads so he would use their own motions to make them ravish themselves along with the ones they care about, hence he weaved these strings of fate persistently, like a spider.

The majority of them ended up dead confronting him, unless they were exploitable therefore He told him not to kill them yet. He guessed that was fine sparing those who bowed down to his Dieu, although always viewing them as potential threats to Him. If a possible malfunction was detected, it shall be removed before it occurs. Usually his interference was not needed as Holy Knight could track those vermin's sentiment quickly with His ability and send them to oblivion within a millisecond, albeit it was best having him staying cautious too. The Supreme Being could read everyone's affective components - their insecurities when planning to perform betrayals, their abhorrence of Him, their apprehension being unknown of when they would be erased, and the list went on. He was no exception. In front of his one and only Owner, masking his depravity with any facade would be impossible. That Lord knew him.

The most wonderful element of such knowledge was that he could live to his fullest lunacy while living in order to continue paying his gratitude, therefore he was what he wanted to be, a faithful parasite struggling in this purgatory, accepted by the Divine One to prolong this delusionally spiritual life in an atrocious world that would soon decay. He wanted that, all, this desperation and miseries, as he believed simply joyful people basically did not suffer enough. With no justification he wanted them tortured, not tortured with him but separately (merely for sport, he would push drive them to grief so they would experience such agonies before having their own obliteration) and eradicate all humanistic entities as quickly as capable. He would stain his hands with contaminated blood of those parasites so He would not have to. Within these extant corrupted rotten matters there was only Him who stood out in divinity; such grandeur should be conserved, and him by his own sordid self and pseudo sacrosanct perversion would protect that sophistication, not only for his Salvatore but also for himself, being controlled by Him alone and having His tenderness only for himself alone.

Even within those illusionary objectives solely and nothing else, he found himself at peace, at least for a few moments.

Chapter Text

She was a dainty lady. As least in her own psyche, she would always be this gorgeous damsel she wanted to be.

Dreams were exquisite while she was lonely. The sounds of a thousand wind chimes with rods made out iron nails kept vibrating in her eardrum while that sunset sky above her head slowly faded into the darkness of evening, and she was all by herself, in this golden cage of her fortunate family, listening to the melancholic melodies spinning round and round along with the rotation of vinyl records playing, spinning around her notions. Ah, yes, dreams of her own, swaying with the winds on a dance floor decorated with meandering golden sand dunes of the same color of her hair, in this decaying world that would soon collide under the dawn of mankind, and she would be there, living and laughing until its end.

She thought of him, her charming muse, sleeping somewhere far away from her, wondering whether he was in the same phantasmagoria with her or not. After all, their shared dream was, in her humble opinion, a little bit too surreal, natheless she would not mind to indulge herself in his fantasy - their fantasy. The dame loved her men ferociously ambitious with their goals set high and their spirits prepared for battles, and among all those men, he was the most nonsecular in the most twisted yet chivalrous manner. His dangerous aura made her tremble in excitement the day they met, when he approached her and simply said, "Work for me."

"For what purpose?"

"For the elimination of this world."

That was what she called an offer which could not be rejected. Who know what he might do if she refuse? She accepted anyway, not with fear but with a rapid interest in the emanation of thrill from him.

To actually admit, she followed the man during her holidays out of curiosity, only to have a secretive pastime spent with someone she found extraordinary and evade from the mundane lifestyle that she had always been participating in as a splendid actor - a successful and erudite son of an elite family. When he decapitated a burglar who tried to snatch her suitcase on a humid June midday while they were walking along a narrow street within a backwater of a town, the thief's blood spattered on her left cheek - filthy yet warm, repellent yet seductive - and she smeared the crimson liquid over her lips as if it was lipstick, then asked him, "Am I beautiful?"

"I guess."

And she smiled, "May I ask the reason for your decision of picking me up?"

"I invited people that possess antihumanistic mentality."

"Nihilists?"

"Murderers."

"Psychopaths?"

"Valuable knives."

"What made you think I'm suitable for your standards?"

"Listen libertine. Since I can track components of your mind, I judge by how your brain is wired. I could scrutinize your biological attributes too if I pay enough attention to assess your values. Your characteristics are rather exclusive, to be honest, I can tell you're a really special individual among the degenerates. There are several genes of yours associated with antisocial personality, such MAOA-L and so on." He paused for a while. "Also, gender dysphoria is present."

"You're really an omniscient man, aren't you?"

"Not entirely." For a while she saw him simper, a smicker expression limned on his lovely face. "But I'm aware enough to adjudge you correctly, as to view who you truly are."

"I'm curious." She asked while wiping away the blood on her cheek with her thumb, a faint trace of red followed her finger. "How does I look like as a human?"

"A threat to your own kind. A behavior-altering parasite that control rodents with your affluence." His eyebrows rose as his eyes widened. "I like you. I cherish spiders who acknowledge their dissolute personalities. It was easier to work with you guys who violate morality openly and admittedly than some self-righteous imbeciles who would betray me quickly for their safety and claim it was for helping humanity after hiding under my wing. Those trashes do not warrant conservation."

As always, he made her shiver with the feeling with every words he said. As she remembered, he never cared of her facade, that eidolon regarded as who she truly was. What was this feeling scintillating in her heart? A rapture, perhaps?

She glared at the headless corpse of the robber. The ground under him blackened with spilled vital fluid, the body lifeless and flabby with scarlet liquid starting to dry on the tips of his lacerated arteries; his disconnected pate was partly bald and the eyelids were still unfolded, leaving his eyeballs motionless and anemic in those sockets. Approaching the carcass, she observed the technique that was utilized in his previous attack. Her dear companion surely cut the man swiftly, with a force sufficient enough not to squander energy and still aquedate to sunder his prey into two parts, with the head bounced onto the nearby wall and rolled over the sideway when the body plummeted immediately onto the earth. The rogue had laid down in a morose tranquility that lingered around the somber atmosphere of a deceased without funeral. Apologize, stranger. She did not know him, but by their mere interaction when he only stole her belonging without assaulting her to the point of severe injuries (she only had a scratch from the fall after an abrupt push), she could tell this guy suffered a consequence much more brutal than his committed flaws. The missy stood still in the complete consciousness of how fragile a human's life was; she had to be stronger in order not to die so simply.

How ironic. She was excited and scared at the same time, but it was fine, because that was when she put a start to boost up her potentials. She was thankful of him for that experience.

In retrospect, she assumed the angel whom she adored would finally be satisfied to know that she had become a frequent contributor who could financially aid him in his plan of demolishing this repulsive planet they were drowned in. His kind would finally be freed from all those constraints caused by humans - humans akin to her (unfortunately) whom she never wished to associate with; their hypocrisies and double standards along with prejudices masked as morality made her want to vomit. She abhorred them, and wondered whether she abhorred herself a bit too, as she had her covert perversion hidden under status of aristocracy. This mademoiselle was determined in every way with no fear no limit no regret and a confidence great enough to sin without any justification, that was how she reminded herself of her distorted values, but she did not know anymore - did she enjoy being the one she was, with this bizarre body she found unfamiliar to her recognition, with the vile personality that was willing to step on anyone for her personal interests?

Yes. Properly. Her selfishness won in the end. The modern society was ruled by the haut monde, and she preferred to struggle in order to maintain herself as the crème de la crème of rats in this rat race than to live an ethical yet prosaic lifetime without ecstatic wickedness.

She climbed on the altar built by her efforts to find a salvation that was worth of her sacrification, to look more of the ultimate merit, to make her realize she was vigorously alive. There was solely him that matched her fascination and met her expectations; she was exclusively interested in him as someone whose principles did not contradict much which made him a terrifyingly radical misanthropist. Every human was equivalent according to him, not equally appreciable but equally abominable, unless they were pragmatically exploitatable then maybe for a little bit they deserved to remain longer on this planet, such as her. She was astonished, unsure whether it was shock or amusement that striked her every time he killed someone, but definitely that 'someone' was never her and could never be related to her, as inside her soul, every other human had been rotten as decaying cadavers - no more than objects dropped on the ground as stairs to be stepped on by them.

Guess she was just crazy, or having a severe case of hybristophilia mingled with her own turpitude. She was a sick fuck, she knew.

Like the love of Bonnie to Clyde, her infatuation was sordid. She understood they could not be melodramatically saccharine as if they were schmaltzy children, and there was no need for that kind of bond anyway. Sometime she questioned herself, did she ever 'love' anyone in a romantic sense or did she sink in another illusion of affection she strived to have? To a certain level, she believed she admired him in a way a devotee would admire her idol, sometimes she thought about him in a Platonic way (in a definition that had been examined in Plato's Symposium - to rise above carnal attraction and ascend to the appreciation of his soul and divine grace, as if he had any soul being such a devil). Right, that man was a devil with charm, villain material, deadly alluring; his life was buried deep under the blazing hell of his hatred remarked with a vow to eradicate every insect he loathed as his idiosyncratic monument. Bad to the bone, best by the skin; every inches of his appearance defined perfection. May the earth judder in his fetching hands.

Such irresistible hands she desired to touch. Beloved lord, may their fingers locked like lemans do?

No. They were not lemans. She shook her head in disappointment with this realization oftenly. Did not matter, with the anatomy she had, she passed the state of desiring for physically intimation a long time ago. Who would want to canoodle with a person bearing incongruity between mind and body within himself?

.

The boy she met was rather iconic, purleish blue hair and golden pupils. He was a walking Mediterranean hyacinth field with Pescara's aurum melting in the depth of his irises and blended in his honeyed skin. Who was this brat with unique appearance again?

"Um, who is this?"

"Master Knives. Who is this?"

Knives looked at them with a plain expression, "Your comrade." and turned his back to them, continued to read the report he was holding, whatever that was.

"My name is Elendira, known by the title of Elendira the Crimson Nail." She pridefully introduced her honorific. "What am I supposed to call you?"

"Legato Bluesummers."

"What kind of name is that?"

"A name given by Master Knives and a part of it chosen by me." He grinned childishly (and she had to admit, that was quite pretty of him to have such features on his face). "Why was you named 'Elendira'?"

"I decided to have that name. I like it."

"Isn't it a female name?"

"It is." She raised her shoulders. "I'm female."

"Elendira. I believe you are mentally unwell."

And she suddenly had an urge to beat him so bad.

.

"Why do I have to work with this guy again?"

"Because Master told us to do so?"

"Excuse me. I'm not asking you."

Knives gazed as the two ducklings, rubbed his index on the back of his left ear, the beauty mark under the corner of his right eye twinkled when he smirked sardonically while thinking of an appropriate answer. Lucky for them that he was joyful enough today not to be annoyed with their immature quarrel and throw both of them out. "Relax. Relax. Think of him as your big brother or something. You told me you would like to have a sibling sometimes, right?"

"Why does he have to be my big brother? How old is him anyway?" She pointed her thumb at the guy next to him, who was monotonously stared at her with an attempt to estimate a number to reply for the question which was not directed at him (even though he naively thought it was).

"I don't know." Legato spoke the truth in a bland tone without giving eye contact.

"Great! You don't know!" For some unknown causes Elendira craved to bully this colleague of her, and so she would. "We work with a guy that know nothing! Not even about himself!"

Of course, as a boss, Knives's intervention was deemed necessary. "I was just referring him as your big brother because I took him in before you, alright? You know what, forget what I just said. Both of you go and decide your own relationship, I don't give a damn about it."

"Wonderful." The corner of her mouth formed a slight curve. "Legato. Remember that I'm higher than you in this food chain."

What made her conclude that? Her wealth.

Legato understood it fully. After all, a baseborn slave was definitely lower than a reputable patrician. She started to like him a bit after realizing he did not chase after privileges for himself. Like a submissive and eccentric pet he behaved, he did not react significantly to her mockery. How cute.

.

Maybe she should call herself Clytie, with her endearment toward the sun deity thrown in vain.

He never reciprocated, he never had to. 

Chapter Text

Even with their mental capabilities, humans are surprisingly docile creatures. He thought so.

Take the globe they were in as an example: The pompous patricians promised too much of a better future when moronic plebeians followed their superiors like sheeps getting pushed around by herding dogs; miscreants were running around causing troubles when the juridical system had half of their eyes closed and cowered in their derelict hopelessness; prevaricators spreading lies that were deemed truthful while candor got buried through pressures and coated with even more deceptions,... This sandy planet was ignoramuses' paradise, too rigorous to progress, too riotous to determine. This sphere and its people had been destructive to themselves and continue to be so under the impact of their own tribulations, acting as avengers of their misfortunes.

As he learned about history and sociology he doubted the actual concept of free will, it might be there if one regarded his consciousness optimistically enough, but it would always be blended within deterministic approach to choice. Putting the debate between compatibilism and incompatibilism aside, the foundation of mental development is every individual requires a base to develop the depth of his reasoning capability, and consequently he indoctrinates himself with beliefs associated with his origin and experience. Within that same process, some reached self-actualization, some stayed clueless, some got preoccupied with their ideals, some divagated from caliber to caliber, all within the vast possibilities of this chaos of mingled atmans. One common thing that lasted through eras, the elites orchestrated societies in harmony with their credos being taught through generations and elongated ideologies became fixations that rolled humanity around, they hegemonized weaker groups and gained authorities expressively or secretively as they hankered for. Administration must present whether it was sovereignty or limited government, due to the need to tame the excessively avarice tendencies of human race. The ultimate freedom called anarchism did not work in large scale within modern political scenarios; exceptional cases when it worked dated back to the days new territories were occupied and governing systems had not been started yet. Forget about Taoists who aspired to be fairies or Greek philosophers who craved to achieve eudaimonia, they fetched up too long on the clouds anyway. Heck, even without a ruler building up codes of conduct humans could not be left anarchic, they would eventually cling to religions or philosophies to have standards that they would live up to instead.

There would always be a polity in every terra firma people had their footsteps on, even thalassic and aerial regions would soon be owned as they were reached, and from those who were in charge of managing the lands, infrastructures for public convenience started to be constructed. There would always be a continuations of ideas whether faithful or derivative to the originals, such as how Austrian and Keynesian and Chicago school of economics all rooted from Adam Smith's ideas yet turned out to conflict and resemble one another. Everything must be started with something, as in the law of conservation of energy or in the theory of behaviorism, that was one of the basic principles of existence whether physical or metaphysical. With those fundamentals, this universe became a hotpot of emergence.

.

Apollo found humans incredibly proprietarial, they strived to dominate and influence everything they set their eyes on whether those things were concrete entities or abstract notions. If it was a material item, take it through coercion. If it was someone's mind, proselytize that person. He deemed the influences on minds to be more powerful than materialistic objects as from the three components of attitudes merely, several reactions could be formed. Even so, as a tyrant of his own little community that he built for his kind, he loathed to be viewed as a Machiavellian as he despised cunning rats in general. Damn, the political philosophers might be thoughtful themselves but their followers were mostly pragmatists that exploited the concepts for benefits or ignorant bigots who failed to see the value of those ideas. If he was Han Fei he would drink poison himself before anyone decided his death in order to preserve his pride once and for all with those pessimistic opinions on human nature, although he preferred to stay alive as a dictator rather than die as a scholar, thus he utilized those concepts of sagacity overtly as he studied about the species he abhorred yet got amused by, without sugarcoated promises or insipid appeasement. Let's just say he was an honest oppressor.

Humans are bizarre, even though he regarded himself superior than those lowlife parasites, there were still creatures that were willing to bow down in front of him with admiration. Was that inferiority complex that they had within themselves? He had a servant who obsessively engaged in gratifying him, another occasionally aided him financially to support his plan of demolishing her species, a few contributors akin to the previously said person who got involved with his illegal distribution of 'lost technologies' that he collected and renovated throughout his lifetime, a cult that worshipped his kind and provided him with assassins when he requested, and - although they were not considered loyal - a gathered group of hitmen whose profiles were erased from the criminal records. All of them were hidden under his wing, savoring their hedonistic lives freely as long as they succeed in their missions and refrained themselves from inflicting problematic issues on him.

Otherwise they would be off with their heads. That happened sometimes.

For example, a few month ago, one of them almost brought troubles back to his laager with his maneuvers being tracked by the Octovern's department of the treasury for tax evasion and money laundering. The loudmouth had information leaked due to his garrulous personality even through he had been reminded to stay taciturn. Clytie freaked out, and she begged Apollo, 'Helios, if they found out I'm in association with him, it'll be the doom for both of us' or something akin to that (sometimes she gave him odd nicknames, whatever). Apollo indeed could not accept letting his most dedicated financial contributor get caught because of a less important one, so he ordered Hyacynth - his personal secretary that was obsessed with him - to clear the traces of their relations.

Hyacynth assembled a group of five people - including him, a saxophonist named M, a samurai named R, a gunslinger with hypnosis ability named D, and an unidentifiable person named Z (properly not a human) - and took them to the target's company. Apollo gave him authority over His private army, and he used it carefully to please his Boss. He arranged M to make an appointment with the CEO (who was their assigned victim) and flirt with the receptionists with his charm to catch their attentions, R to pick up a fight with the guards to distract them, D to walk through the hallway and hypnotize people into dismissing her presence and reach the storage room of filing cabinets to take away and destroy the false invoices, and Z to possess the security clerk who observed situations through camera to make him delete all footages. Hyacinth himself with his capability, kidnapped the prey quietly. The members retreated quickly as their quests were done.

The unlucky man was brought to a desolate area far away from the metropolis. The good-looking musician whom carried an instrument along all the time asked Hyacinth.

"Oi, boss, what are we going to do with this folk?"

"Make him an example."

"Of?"

"Of misconduct."

In a millisecond, the poor victim got every of his fingers twisted in all directions. He screamed in pain while his bones was tearing off the skins on his hands, his nails detached and fell down to the arenaceous ground as if they were tiny pieces of sand in a hourglass, his chest rose as his ribs bent upward and outward his torso like a blooming flower of bone petals, blood started to seep out from ruptured arteries and dribble on his body like streamlets trickling down flesh cliffs. He widened his eyes in fear with pupils dilated and a sudden blockage of sounds hindered his trembling voice while begging for mercy; his vocal cord had been shredded. The man's neck abruptly rotated backward 180° then moved left and right slowly, having his head facing everyone Hyacinth brought along with him, with the corpse staring at each for 5 seconds. Nobody said anything, nobody dared to.

R watched in confusion tickling inside his outward collective demeanor, his ponytail waved as he turned to his superior. "Hey. What kind of misconduct did he do anyway?"

"Leaking information."

"Only that?"

"Yes. Unfortunately his death had been decided already. Anyone who fails Master's expectation shall be executed." He answered monotonously without showing any concern of any type.

"That included us, right?" The one-eyed lady with long hair joined in with her question as she observed the event in utter horror.

"Well, of course." The affirmation gave a chilling sensation that ran through the employees' spines except for Z who seemed slightly curious at the sight, again he was a mysterious boy that was hard to understand. M gave eye contact to all of his colleagues, please do not say anything stupid.

D shook her head in dismay. If that was the case of her, she would rather kill herself.

.

Apollo became more cautious with his alliances after some baleful incidents. Enough was enough, although he had spies allocated in many cities and town, but he doubted their reports and genuineness too, hence he compared and scrutinize the data meticulously. He had to catch up to the global condition if he desired to obliterate mankind.

There were different territories of diverse systems, but all of them depended too much on one another to maintain their affluence, and above all, they relied on his species. An epitome of such reliance was how his brother had been wasting his life running around; the fools tried to capture him for remuneration as if he was a rare kind of entity (granted he was an interdimensional being with humanoid characteristics) while others waited for him to save the day with his power of Artemis that could crack a hole on the surface of the moon. He was literally the hero they needed but did not deserve, and he suffered for such naive endeavor. Apollo wanted to crumble every vermin under his feet with the intensity of that thought but this was not the suitable time yet, thus he remained devastatingly to meet and ask his another half 'brother, what the fuck?' in bitter dissension.

He just wanted to protect his own kind and have his family by his side. Family, a broken word as it sounded, they only had each other on this world. Why were they so close yet so far away?

Back on the long lost heaven of a damned spaceship that those insects still lamented frequently, the ancestors of current parasitic mankind had been applying an absolutist system where everyone was monitored and restricted within their not-so-personal capsules. Almost everyone stayed unconscious in a deep sleep that lasted for years, with a few exceptions who woke up routinely to perform inspections of mothership's functions, in order to sustain the most appropriate condition for preserving human gene pool until they reached a land for their temporary residence. Their surrogate mother was among those who had not been kept asleep, a crew member of Project SEEDS who always wished for everyone, ergo spread her dedication and gullibility around in term of actions and ideology that affected his another half heavily. He had a dilemma sometimes. Should he hate her? Should he love her? Their sweet caretaker, he did not think they could have made their remarkable existences without her. Conflicted emotions toward her intertwined in his psyche, appreciation and discord and disappointment and affection, he loathed how she ruined his brother's mindset and severely missed the warmness of her tender hands when she fondled his head and pinched his cheeks.

Whatever. Gaia was gone. Dead. She sacrificed for what she believed in, and his split half had been walking down the same path with her by then. 

Chapter Text

Had he ever said he hated to be viewed as a Machiavellian? He properly had.

Unfortunately, everything would have operate more smoothly if Apollo himself degraded his own ego and sprinkle a bit of lies on those scoops of cold interactions he made with his inferiors. As if he was ice cream, too many heated arguments and warm affections tended to cause him calamities, with repugnance and disappointment and confusion and tiredness and so on melted together into a pool of coalesced syrupy liquids with its disgusting meld of tangs. One savor at a time was fine enough, but a fuckload of savors stuffing into your mouth at once would ruin the whole experience.

Deceptions sabotaged him the most throughout his hateful lifetime. Deceptions said by others, deceptions told by himself, deceptions directed at Apollo to keep him under control and deceptions repeated in his own mind to mollify those macabre conceptions spinning persistently the way a lighthouse would to direct him at a determined future he craved to sail into. He used to be an artless child swathed by thousand layers of cotton candies fluffy and tender as Gaia's bedtime stories read to her children before they went to sleep, and those delicate words made him tremble a little every time he remembered back to the days when naivety had not yet rotted for the buds of odium to bloom. Aversion eventuated to the defloration of his innocence with curiosity and cynicism, as gut-wrenching as being ravished by parlous feelings he had never had before, in the fullness of time everything frail would soon wither. Deadheading bygone memories could be incredibly onerous with her enchanting voice and fairy tales still muffling his psyche like gossamer covered by crystallized morning dews in the garden of Eden. How could he be so impolitic reminiscing about heavenly long-lost epoch spent with a deceased spider whose webs he supposed to defy?

As least it was pleasant to be trapped in those imageries of the past, before they fell from grace and down to earth, like Adam and Eve beginning a new journey, like Cain and Abel whose roles reversed, like Satan and Michael engulfed in a divine war that lasted for decades, and with loneliness each half of the pair kept wandering on sandy land that outspread forever.

An alternative for fantasizing about the olden days was to summon Hyacinth for aimless yet recreational palavers. Hyacinth had an eccentric way of thinking, totally contradict to the common insects of his kind and full of oppositions himself - not with antithesises to his most ultimate ideology but with surprisingly incremental approaches to solutions of circumstances he had to deal with. Similar to Apollo, the acolyte was an extremist, yet a moderate extremist, with the type of moderation that placed pragmatism aimed at benefiting his master above all. That equilibrium with both spectrum of chilling calmness and blazing perturbation counterbalanced each other on a fragile fulcrum called sanity. Let's just say he could plan various methods to achieve one goal and acquit himself in sundry manners that even Apollo could not predict albeit being able to track everyone's minds. He liked it, he liked that unpredictableness, forasmuch as there was no novelty already knowing every single thing at the start.

Yesterday's rainy night when Apollo took his freetime with his followers at a fancy Baroque-styled café with decorations being much more seductive than its average beverages (what a shame since beautiful places such as that were rarely available on this dusty planet), Hyacinth's over-attentiveness toward him was clearly portrayed with the guy kneeling under dim amber lights glowing softly on their physiques, trying to roll up the breezy sleeves that languorously covered Apollo's pale arms while the boss himself could not care less about his clothing. There he went, delicate tanned fingers swiftly danced on the softness of fabrics, tinged gently and gently like the sounds of piano floating in the air, and fixed his sleeves, finished with a demure lip gesture almost of a kiss on his knuckle as if Apollo was a mafia's don, granted his servant already had proclaimed name of Italian language and his hair the melancholic color of Mediterranean lilies.

Alongside them was the personal doctor whose name derived from an actor and there was a time he made Apollo wondered if he could pilot a plane or host a radio program or so. The eloquent elder whose had a voice of great influence on Gunsmoke - he probably suggested this title to call the globe they were in, sitting comfortably on velvety magenta sofa, with his glass of Merlot held by wrinkled right hand, mouth opened but not to drink.

"You picked up quite a high-quality pursuivant." His voice of baritone as savory as the wine, became more delicious as aging carved more lines on his canthi.

"Indeed." Apollo swore he had seen a faint smile formed on the callant's face.

"How did you train him?" 'Train' as a single word stood out within his question. For a moment, Apollo vaguely thought the old man was asking him of whether he brainwashed the minion next to him or not.

"A hell lot of engineering and mechanizing skills plus physical trainings..." Honestly, time was not spent that much on tutoring this guy, he had always been an intelligent one and remained so despite acting like a puerile autist sometimes. "Yeah, that's pretty much it."

"How about... reasoning and critical thinking skills? Did you teach him anything useful?"

Obviously the vague thought was correct.

"No."

"No?"

"No. I don't want to waste my time helping insects to deal with their own reasons."

"Sometime people's reasons could be interesting topics to elaborate. Very suitable as debates for pastime, don't you think so?"

"Do you think that I would engage in convincing parasites that I was right?"

The atmosphere thickened. Hyacynth could feel a growing tension within every words spoken, hence he lifted his head up, whispering in a tone that was almost as light as a breath. "Master, you are the boss."

"Very unrelated. Shut up."

It was always the same doubt that Apollo locked within his contemplation. Of all the degenerates he chaperoned, was there anyone accompanied him out of free will or was they all driven by fear and conducted themselves as if they were the majority if not all of Milgram experiment's participants or what?

"Master. I believe there is no need for justifications. You do what you want to do, and we shall obey."

"Said the one who is fixated on doing whatever I told."

A drop of a heartbeat echoed within Apollo's ear canal, wispy as a feather descending down to the vacancy of notions that words could not express. Had he mistaken something?

"Master, even so with my sincerity I wish the best for you."

Down to the servant Apollo stared. Bluesummers, pathetic Bluesummers, if you were in the Milgram experiment will you be the exception?

He bet the guy would not, not really because he was willing to obey but because he was willing to end someone's life. An exchange of glance lasted for a second and the inferior gandered at the floor to cut the eye contact he deemed inappropriate; he was too pitiful below his God's grandeur.

Apollo almost yelled in impatience but the sentence came out as a growl. "Are any of you better than this?"

"Did I miss something?"

A woman but not an actual woman stepped in. Blond silky hair cascaded behind her back like a sluicing champagne waterfall with the elegant smell of expensive cologne tarried around her blithe body. Clytie.

"Legato, Elendira, let's me ask you something. Why did you decide to follow Knives?"

While the lady was slightly perplexed by the sudden question, Hyacinth replied nearly immediately.

"We looked forward to assist Master Knives's plan of obliterating mankind to the end."

By the end of the answer, the perplexion moved to the elder's mind and Clytie's was filled with even more confusion.

"May I ask why?" His face creased even more with the emotion he had.

"Well, because Master Knives is the only one I care for." It seemed like he could predict that Apollo would be fond of this statement. "Besides, his plan is a splendid one, no?"

"You're a part of mankind, Legato."

"I know, sir, and I shall die under my Boss's hands. Fair enough?"

In utter dismay the senior wiped his forehead, he even forgot Clytie had not yet given her reply. He did not had an knowledge of this boy's past, but he could see the brat had issues, severe issues.

"You and your assistants are a bunch of minacious nihilists, Knives."

"Nihilists?" Apollo chuckled as if the old man said something hilarious. "No, Conrad, we're amoral Übermensch."

Because within this vacuum of absurdity there was no door for the affirmation of life nor the love of this world.

.

Clytie could quite understand why William Conrad (no, not the actor) was disturbed by the conversation although she did not participate much in it. After all, he was a man with a rather ordinarily mindset and common moral standards but with talents to stand out from the mass - enough to be special but not enough to be a radical. She might need to update further information, what was they were talking about again?

"Legato, can you please apprise me about what happened?"

"Crimson Nail, I believed you missed nothing." An undecipherable grin formed as an facial expression reminded her of how this so-called 'comrade' was occasionally aggravating.

Their supposed interaction was intervened as usual with the presence of their liege.

"Ay, let's me ask you two something. Are you guys following me out of your free will?"

"Of course." Clytie might have had grabbed a bit of understanding on his concern. "May I ask what your worriment was about, my dear milord?"

This person, of sunflower petal hair and emerald irises and favorable red outfit and lighthearted personality, she really evoked the image of someoneApollo saw the resemblance splintered when he realized, no, that guy could not be this cruel.

May his disquietude ease off. There was him, there was them, there was a bunch of people joining in the brigade devout to the demolition of humans. How many of them were true coteries? How many of them act out actual freedom of choice?

Talk about freedom of choice, that concept was for optimistic people, as he always regarded so. Was he optimistic? Yes, he was, maybe rationally, maybe not. He was as optimistic as a maniacal sleepwalker having a persistent lucid dream of annihilating humanity and destiny knew he would (assuming destiny was even a thing). To the damnation of parasitic race he yearned for, among the ruinations caused by them to both his and their own species, and while he might have mention both of the species so much it would never be enough to stop the conflicts rooted from his animosity toward humans, even more ironically that such animosity had not been reciprocated until humans, too, realized the severity of massacres creatures of his kind could perform with their abilities. For such capacity self-mastery ought to be accomplished, free will included, otherwise he would have obliterated those vermin fortuitously a long time ago without refraining himself through these nonsensical reconsiderations on responsibility that had nothing to do with his lifelong epistemological procedure.

With that depravity why were there people who admired him genuinely, he wondered. But they did not lie. Maybe they were depraved themselves, maybe they were just plainly intimidated by his brutality and nothing above that. Whatever, as he only cared more for the ones with attendance served along with candor. What could he say? He did represented himself expressively as an honest oppressor with harsh rebukes stabbed his followers like million knives. Million knives, truthful and straightforward, indeed million knives of ultras but not MKUltra - nobody got mind-controlled here, excuse anyone who thought so.

Heck, if anyone was brilliant at mind-control, that would be the damned secretary of him who people believed was indoctrinated with his ideology. That spider was even more dangerous than him if the right circumstances were given.

Behind him, when he was distracted by his train of thoughts, a pair of aurum eyes scrutinizing him with adoration. Signor, indeed you had my unfeigned reverence.

Hyacinth had his recollections in retrospect, he wanted to believe he had free will whether compatible or incompatible with determinism. He did, because if he did not, what was the point of living on anymore? If he merely had determinism by his side he would have been died a long time ago, with those desires to disappear established early in his previous days, without the regret to the abandonment of his loyalty to Apollo as it vanished with him the moment he laid down - and that would be disgraceful to such Divine Being. The lack of free will would be a insult to his pride, the remaining shred of pride he still possessed in which he shall die with it at the pinnacle of his finest qualities. If he was a deterministic one, what was more of him than a dog of Ivan Pavlov? Even if he was lower than a dog before that should not matter, nor his selfish tendency nor his desperation, because if he could not reach his freedom of options to behaviors what was better if him than a...

"You conditioned sex doll."

Apollo called him so one day when the Lord accidentally cut the tip of his index finger while trying to unbox a package with a razor while having his awareness drifted to inner perception. Hyacinth licked the dribbling vital fluid as if it was ichor, then put it in his mouth with an attempt to stop the bleeding, strangely such foreign liquid had the relish of nectar, holy wine made of forbidden fruit he had never dared to taste intentionally. Within his maw the tongue flickered unconsciously around the finger and he panicked subconsciously by the guilty feeling from such insolent action, hence removed the beautiful hand away from his grip consciously.

Too late, Dio was already irritated, a wince formed as He rubbed the saliva on his black turtleneck sweater and landed a violent kick on the boy's abdomen, with a question came after. "You piece of trash, can't you be something better than this?"

Apollo was cognizant of what this property of him used to be, by the instant the thing walked toward him and bowed down in servile yet subtly enthusiastic manner, begging him to either let it escort him or kill it, while white semen and scarlet blood trickling down its macilent legs and not a single piece of clothes to hide its private parts. Whatever purpose of living it, no, he was given, it definitely was not a decent one.

Then shall Apollo gave him a motive to survive, it was like recycling garbage, how about being a combat doll instead? By then Hyacinth had proved himself as an excellent tool for his Owner, dedicating to the Dominus with his personal proclivity. He was saved, and he appreciated such salvation wholeheartedly.

.

Mankind in general was a torrid mess of madness and concupiscence and hardships. Ever since he was a child - or as he recalled, he had never been a true child at all - Hyacinth learned that love was a delusional concept, especially unconditional love. Everything was a form of barter to him; he would exchange diligence for nourishment, injuries for breathing spaces, vulgar activities for a bed to sleep on, acquiescence for mercy, so on and so on. Nothing was given if nothing was attained. Nothing.

The only way to avoid mayhem in this purgatory was to lower his face down to keep his gaze plus mind on the earth and follow them anywhere they led him to before they had to pull his collar, because if they had to do so he would be in troubles, and he meant severe troubles, although categorizing types of issues he might encounter would be more convenient to prepare himself from those possible misfortunes but just assume the worst scenarios then have more optimistic consequences that happened deemed as surprisingly blessed gifts. In short, do what they expected even before they expected, his intuition and pretentiousness had been aiding him in maintaining his values on several occasions. He could act as they want, he had been acting as they wanted, like a tiny submissive pet faltering under the dominating hands of its owners placing on its head, as if he was their loyal puppy waving its tail in (ungenuine) joy of meeting masters (and at that phrase of life, the word urged him to spit it out in arrant disgust every time he said it), all for a little peace in reciprocation of pleasing their delusions of possession and domination, plus a bit of generosity that would let him take what he seeked for such as fine food to fill his tongue with alternative flavors and erase these repellent sensations tumbling on his taste buds, in order to live for another goddamned tedious day filled with goddamned trivial emotions provoking from goddamned insipid stimuli received after walking around in this goddamned decorative hellhole built by the goddamned power-craved elites that were consumed by their own wealth. Did god even bother of damning this place?

At the peak of dawn when colors of sunset dissolved with shades of the sand and united into an ethereal canvas painted with melted gold, he would linger around aimlessly in those lukewarm sideways in front of the town hall, or enter inside when nobody noticed and eavesdrop what people were talking about within those enclosed ornate rooms; from those casual talks he collected his knowledge of the outside world. Other times he would slink out the buildings and sneaked in that exquisite artificial garden behind the mayor's house, imagine himself digging a hole on the dirt and jump into it, getting enshrouded by soil and play-acting as a carrot; he preferred to play-act as a corpse but his superiors forbid him from behaving or saying anything eldritch, even though he could not care less about their prohibition he was fine as a carrot too, with the similarity between a corpse and a carrot being their insentient attribute, and if he was lucky enough that rabbit the mayor kept in the nearby cage would eat him and he would be gone with his physical existence destroyed (however it did not seem that the fat furball could slip out the cage's bars with its obese body albeit he believed without the pelage it would have look smaller).

Sometimes he wondered why both the rabbit and its owner were so corpulent; it was a trivial stumper, but he was plainly curious with nothing else to be puzzled about. After all there was nothing there except for arenaceous matters crossed all directions. There was nothing else to do but suffer quietly until a day when he could rest.

But it was different since the day that Angel stepped into the town.

Chapter Text

And you cuddled my face in one summer night, sitting on your familiar chair, bandages over your eyes. I reached out to your hands, locked your dainty fingers with mine, melodious music played in my mind, sweet as the voice of yours that I'd never heard. My lady, my muse, could you feel my heart was beating for you?

Come closer. I followed your soundless mutter, almost of a hug with no distance between us, my disfigured body against your delicate one. A faint smile formed as my cheek reddened after the warm traces of your touches on me, touches I yearned for, touches I adored.

Feathery movements molded the curves of you lips, such pale petals on the pallid snow, I almost cried to an inaudible murmur of a nocturnal confession. Four muted words, six unhearable echoed within my whole room with each soaked into my mind.

Thank you for everything.

To the very end of me you conquered, my lady.

I love you.

No dear, don't say it on the lips that soon enough I'd be missing when my heart is broken to pieces.

We had never been in such state, rather being seduced by the anomalies of characteristics outside the standardised sets of cultural norms, of what reach our expectations rather than what touch our souls. It was an escapism, a delusional infatuation, a hope to evade the cage of daily pressures fulfilled by such vulgar survival procedures of disabled humans we are. As we tried to keep up with our perpetual illusions of living we sank deeper into the lucidity of gaiety, engulfed in a desire to be loved unconditionally with our irritably itched instincts. Apart from that who were we to worship such relationship while being no more than tormented souls stuffed in decaying bodies that soon will return to earth? Six feet underground and no one would be unable to grab a sound of us calling their names even in the most serene nights.

Then after the existence of us becoming nothing but recorded names on papers, who are you and who am I to have our lips touched, striving to cross our spirits in such materialistic world where we met in a spur of an ecstatic moment? Darling, darling, if we were in love we would have been in love much longer when destiny instituted us to be who we shall become, but before we met, how could we know we would find each other among everyone else? You could have met someone different and I could have met someone different. Us, in the end, were just people who randomly passed each other's lives, trying to lick each other's wounds, hiding away together from the cruelty of fate.

So I would love to pretend that we, somehow, had had a glimpse of our encounter thousands years ago when not even a single memories could last till our eyes exchanged gazes for the first time in which I knew you could recognize me even when there was nothing but darkness in your pupils, that even when we knew we might have ended up with somebody else (or something - perhaps loneliness accompanied with self-recreational mirages), the ones we met would have gotten to own those distinguishable signs that vibrate our skipping hearts, the manifestation of amour without reasons lingering in the corners of psyches like clinging to a miracle that these two would fall in enchantment, in such passion which everyone in love would be in, but for no excuses nor predictions nor premises nor promises just be liberated with the bless of Cupid; that we may erase our connection in our memories in other reincarnations of us if there are any, when we reach to our own normal and fortunate paths of life, being typically forgetful beings yet inside the fragile core covered with flesh and bones something would be persevered forever along with all the bygones we don't want to remember. That piece of my anima could be anything but it should be you as I want it to be you or something with your soul and your spirit, something contains our bluest sorrowful destinies interlacing as a mixed poem in a tiny section of life novelty.

Honey, please remind me if we were ever in love but in this mixture of bubbled hopes and shattered dreams nothing actually matters if we are or are not. We found each other.

Chapter Text

Darkness.

That was what he saw within this Hadean void of a room, with confusion twisting like a tornado inside his head while tranquility almost permeated the air without the faint sounds of his movements and the erratic breaths of someone nearby, especially with someone nearby who he could not lose focus on if he still wanted a chance to escape from here. Blue hair. Golden irises. Metal coffin. Dangerous aura. He seemed even grimmer than the first time they met despite his deteriorated health and mentality, as turbulent and disordered as disrupted radio waves, turning every station on and it would be either a channel full of late nights' horror stories or with disturbed songs played by the futuristic itonarumori instrument. Sometimes he thought this guy could have to climb on to earth from the depth of Inferno, but he was cold, cold as Satan encased in ice as Dante had described in his Divine Comedy as the one who hold the betrayal of humans' bonds; for a while it seemed like the title of the work was ironic in comparison to that person, there was nothing divine or comedic about him, unless one considered death as a bless and tragedy as a punchline - he probably did.

"Legato, can you at least turn the light on?"

"Sure."

White dim light emitted from a dusty fluorescent lamp, glowing weakly their lusterless figures and he could see the other man's gloomy shadow casted on the metal wall like a vague specter, oddly lonesome and horrid as the same time. Maybe they could have communicated properly for a while if both of them had the patience not to get in each other's nerves, which was extremely difficult with that maniac embracing a deep animosity toward him in which he could feel that obviously murderous tendency and and was amazed by it since the day they met. By this moment that hatred had calmed down a bit, still flickering as a flame of hell, yet a tamed hostility was a tamed hostility, and while he might refrain from playing around with a wild beast but if the animal was composed enough it would be a waste of chance not to approach it, right? He had handled menacing predators before, it was just that, caracals and lynxes were vastly different from a tiger whose eyes gazed with defiance into his soul and stares pierced like knives into his perception. Knives, millions of freaking sharp knives. Where did Apollo picked this henchman of him up anyway?

"Legato, can we have a talk? I don't feel so well being in a quiet space for too long."

"You initiate, then."

Cool, or not. What were they supposed to talk about? About why the heck was the watcher so freaking creepy? Artemis bit his lower lip in a rush of discomfiture, pretty sure the dude knew that already, or not, he just seemed off, living in his own egoism, an abyss with nothing inside but the vast emptiness that outspread perpetually to the end of his lifetime. He refused to believe someone could be this desolate, there must be something secretive but it was buried so deep inside that he could not find although Artemis was pretty confident with his ability to read people's true natures. In retrospect, how did that ambassador of miseries catch his attention almost immediately every time he appeared? Like putting frozen carbon dioxide into water and here comes the fog, fog covered his sight, fog asphyxiated him within the hazy hallucinations of the earth crumbled under his feet. Those bottomless pits sucked his awareness in and squeezed it under the immeasurable mass, Artemis was afraid that if he discovered what lied beyond the event horizon, there would be no escape for him anymore. But please dear, at least collect the data beforehand for the sake of problem avoidance, then he could jump back before getting bite by the crazy cat, oh el gato. You knew what they said, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer; that was Michael Corleone's saying, perfectly suitable within this elongated war of silence, yet a part of Artemis thought, hadn't they been too close for a bit too long?

"You know. When we first met, I could feel the tension between us."

"It did not get any better."

Brainstorm. BRAINSTORMMM.

"I can tell that you have a very unique mindset, perhaps a little bit too vile, okay more like really vile, but I do believe people can change to be better."

"Which is why you got fooled most of the time letting the criminals freed and retorted on you'd actions."

"It doesn't happen much."

"It happened several times already. Not too often, but still a lot. I counted."

"What are you? A stalker or something?"

"I won't be able to track you down without gathering enough information about you."

"Yeah..."

Just barely enough of a second to sigh, his disappointment in the loss of enthusiasm in chattering was cancelled by a flood of uncomfortable sensations itching uncontrollably on his skin covered with sweats dripping on traces of the scars like rain droplets trickling on the surface of a torn leaf. He felt like a tree (granted he was a plant), perhaps a laurel, except that he was no Daphne yet Apollo still had no chill, at least the two of them chased after each other mutually. He tended to cross his fingers frequently for good luck and to ease the soreness, maybe he should try to do V sign next time (or he could do it anytime he wanted), and since V sign and laurel wreath stood for victory, mayhap it would bring him a win for this quiet combat. Now mentioned, wasn't V sign a symbol of peace during the Vietnam War? That made it even better, not only because 'love and peace' was his life slogan, but also because spreading fingers was easier than crossing them. However, reducing the pains with one's fingers crossed was not a bad deal especially when he could wish for something nice during the wait until this ache was over; hey, if there was any kind of luck that he needed, then it must be vigor, for everyone and himself to stay alive and healthy, or at least alive.

It seemed difficult sometimes.

Above the dusty bars and below the grimy ceiling, between the edge of extreme boredom and irritation, for unknown reasons he was swayed once again by the motions of the only person he could see, who was squirming and gasping inside his mobile casket for unknown reason. Unsurprisingly he found involuntarily sympathetic with the guy, Artemis himself had enough of the cramps too, everyone would be driven to disturbance being hurt occasionally, even unbelievably overpowered organisms. Both of them had been in here for months with very little knowledge of what were happening outside, paying focus to each other until exhaustion haunted their brief sleeps, only to wake up almost at the same time and find themselves inundated with concentration again, again and again.

That was sickening.

"Legato, are you in discomfort?"

"None of your business."

"Knives attacked you when I showed up so I think it had something to do with me."

"..." Not giving a damn to response, huh?

If he was not tied up in imposing this strange power that he had not yet figured out what it was, Artemis would facepalm right then. What were these techniques? Think. Think. Telepathy? Psychokinesis? Perhaps, but unsure, if the opponent was a telepath then connecting with him would be easier, no? Artemis could use his ability of clairsentience and interpret that mind but so far bizarreness in behaviors and trivialities in speeches were the predominant attributes. To be honest, as a supposed telepath, that dude's interpersonal skills were horrible. Someone needed to take Communication 101, if that class was even a thing. He would take it for sure, who knew, perchance he could convince others to calm down and tame their aggressions. If only he could convince this guy.

"Hey, Legato. How did you transmit messages without anyone else noticing back then? We didn't even sit next to each other or something."

How insipid. If there was a trademark of Artemis that Hyacinth found conspicuous, it was this habitual likelihood to ask inquiries he never bothered to answer. The method was simple, by tying one end of his string into his target's eardrum and another end to his larynx, Hyacinth could send his mumbles specifically for that person to hear. To make others dismissing his presence, he used his multifunctional thread to connect to the cerebral cortex of those who were and might be noticing him, and cause a wave of electrophysiological hyperactivity called spreading depolarization that led to scintillating scotoma that affected their visions briefly until they looked at somewhere else, usually the entire process was so quick they did not even concern much and regarded the experience as sudden migraines due to the scorching weather, maybe except for one girl he interacted with but children tended to forget really soon. Of course he would not tell Artemis any of this, one had to keep the benefits for himself, at least for the current time, but as a future gift, he would give this exceptional prey a special advantage.

If only the superior being could gather 'them' all, when those pieces of broken coins became whole again, that would be the perfect challenge for one and present for another. It could be said that both would have fun with such circumstance.

Another failed attempt to gain any reply from the conversation made Artemis popped as if he was popcorn on heat. "Alright. At least tell me, you can track what is occurring outside, right?" He bursted out resignedly to the lack of patience. "You said something about killing everyone within fifty meters, I guess that's your power range."

"You have good memory." Finally. "It is. And?"

"Can you at least update to me about the situations outside? I can't detect what's going on down there, being so high up here."

"Why don't you ask Master Knives?" Hyacinth paused for a split second, actually he should not have mentioned Apollo, he did not wish for Artemis to have any connection with his Dear Boss anymore, no. "You two share a psychical bond together, don't you?"

"We do, but I don't understand what exactly is happening in Knives's head anymore. Right now, he seems both amused and disgusted. What's with that?"

Such candor. Why would he bother to understand anyway? Repressing his envy, a flash of ill will ran through Hyacinth as he tried to shun it. Indeed Artemis could not understand, but he could. After all, he was the one that had been staying by Apollo's side all this time, yet his efforts and devotion was burnt to coal at an instant when he was ordered to bring this good-for-nothing sibling of his Lord back only to provoke negative feelings from every single person of them.

"He's probably laughing at the vista of the doomsday."

"What?"

"Humans are sabotaging one another, if that's what you're curious about."

"I knew that already! How severe has it been!?"

"Famines. Thirsts. Exposures. Robberies. Murders. Cannibalism. Plagues. So on and so on. Just use your imagination."

No.

Just-hell-no! How could Artemis imagine such misfortunes befalling people he was so graceful about? How much sufferings had they gone through?All those kind souls he wished to protect. Lina. Grandma Sheryl. Meryl. Milly. Brad. Jessica. Luida. So many, many, many. And Nicholas, he arrived here with Nick, how was Nick after they parted?

He must get out of here.

.

That man asks.

"For the sake of what do you support Knives?"

It is annoying answering that silly question for so many times.

"You must have understood by now. There is no exception in that guy's targets of purging. You guys will someday be killed too and yet... Why!?"

"You can't understand?"

"..."

"From the start, to me there was no essentials for this world nor myself. Master Knives's existence was the entire prerequisite."

.

That was an inappropriate reaction from him, or was it appropriate?

Artemis raised his ears and listened. Hyacinth's breaths were overwhelmed by the static noises from the handheld transceiver integrated on his container, that thing was pretty damn handy, except no hand was actually used. Actually Artemis could not tell whether hands were used to utilities the container or not, even at this point.

A series of banging sounds hindered his rail of continuous apprehensions, stiff and rough as if someone was hammering nails into wood. Bang! Bang! Bang! Great, now he had to deal with an upcoming headache. Never mind, he had it already. His stamina had been drained out with forebodings and confusions, not go mention the other dude did not cooperate one bit in making the atmosphere more affable for both of them; he was quite accommodating for turning on the light and engaging a bit in the momentary conversations though.

"With this kind of rumpus, it's like we're actually locked inside a coffin." Another unexpected comment by Hyacinth along with a laugh, granted he was already in one, but Artemis was not, agreed he was locked next to a guy who was trapped in a coffin.

Artemis got freaked out occasionally with those awkward interchanges, sometimes he was curious if Apollo used to feel the same too. Properly not, those two were both crazy.

But Apollo and Artemis were twins, how could they be so different?

"If you don't want to view yourself as a corpse in a coffin, you may as well imagine yourself as a carrot."

"Huh?"

How tiring, all of this getting to no particular topic. Did the guy climb up here from the rabbit hole connected to Wonderland? Was this the feeling of Alice when she met Cheshire? One thing for sure, Artemis's hair was already blond and the dude's smile was always creepy. His friend 'priest in black' could ironically be the White Rabbit, and everyone knew who would scream "Off with their head!", obvious much? Damn, it seemed like Artemis had become a bit too nutty being with Hyacinth for a while. Say, how do one construe another person's intentionality speeches? How about a piece of literature's intertextuality? Well that was no literature but the eccentricities and imageries within those spoken sentences made Artemis thought Hyacinth should write a book and name it Undivine Tragedy. That sounded suitable.

"Have a great time, Vash?"

The metal door opened with with the familiar Apollo standing nonchalantly like a stereotypical final villain, asking a sarcastically rhetorical question, a bottle held on his hand. Wait, in the other man's perspective it was very likely that Artemis was perceived as an antagonist too, or a foolish support ing role. Ah, yes, that guy was the ultimately unholy person. Each of the half, blue irises reflected in the green irises and vice versa, yin and yang, when the sky met the ground and the whole planet collapsed.

Hyacinth turned off the hidden walkie-talkie as Aopollo stared at the absent arm of Artemis, narrowed his sight with a curve formed on his eyebrows and eyelids fell down dolorously. "You've never told me why you didn't fix your amputated arm."

"It's convenient, a reminder for my purpose of living and the prosthetic arm is useful for hiding extra weapons." Artemis swallowed air to stabilize himself at the abrupt emotion solidified in his throat, then stopped for a while and got a fierce peer into his brother's eyes trying to catch his attention and dismiss it from the missing body part. When Apollo looked up, how strange for them to find the morose gazes from each other rather than seeing challenging ones. Had time made us softer or had it made us more stubborn?

"You built quite a nice golden cage for yourself, Knives. Have fun in it?"

"This ark is a shelter for our kind, Vash. You and me were supposed to be kept safe in it, away from those barbarians."

"No, you built it for yourself." From a dry throat Artemis chuckled a bit, how long had the last drop of water poured into his mouth? Was that bottle Apollo carrying along water container? "I enjoyed my freedom outside."

"The freedom you have living among those savage insects isn't worth a bit. You risked yourself too much already."

"But I was freed and that's all I wish for. Knives, you're no different from our siblings within their bulbs, just one with better conditions and you exploited it for your selfishness."

"Of course, how did you think I survive through all those days?" Apollo understood what his brother was trying to convey, or he thought he did. Cage birds. That was he view his entire species as, confined as caged birds. By the time of their own liberation from the hands of mankind, he realized being kept within a cage could also have its own advantages. Apparently one can enjoy his limited life trapped in a cozy shelter with proper amenity, or, run away and try to survive by himself while being able to go to anywhere on this sandy globe. That also represented how much they were divided.

"That's the point! You don't live. You survived bitterly within your hatred and got consumed by it that you made it a goal to reach for."

Apollo grinned his teeth, white and shiny fangs even under the subdued light that instantaneously went black unsure why and behind the shadow of him casted in the front from sun ray glowing at his back, as if he had the jaw of a wolf.

"I made the right option. You should see what those insects are doing now, brutally assault one another by the excuse of survival."

"And you took away their resources, suppressed them and created the behavioral sink that suffocated them in it."

"Indeed, otherwise how will they learn our pains?" Apollo widened his stare. It was useless bargaining with a madcap being that indulged in insanity for too long. "Have some water, Vash. The day of judgement will arrive soon."

From the small corner, Hyacinth beamed fondly as if he was expecting something. After demurely pouring the cool liquid into Artemis's mouth, Apollo left laconically with a "take care of him" directed at his servant, and left both of the two within the room of isolation behind closing doors.

And darkness one more time invaded the place.

Chapter Text

Play. Pause. Play. Pause. Damn it, why is muse a temporary thing?

Or perhaps it is the slight headache that makes him lose focus. Ache and ache and ache and ache. Don't get mad, be a virtuoso, my love, live for the moment. However, no one has ever instructed him what to do when the moments are ruined, especially by the rudimentary plebeians that do not respect art, nor the performers of art, which is why he taught himself to depart from those ideals of achieving the true, the good, and the beauty. Nobody will careyou desperate saxophonistcan't you see they are indulged in their moronic quarrels? That will be ridiculous, by this time he has already challenge his idealism already, within this mess of intersecting lives such values are just recreational delusions. Everyone here is a egomaniac, everyone here has personal ego, everyone here is a damned narcissus flower seduced by one's own reflection on the lake of self-centerism until the day when it rots by the edge of oblivion from the malevolence of fate. That's how they get stronger and stronger, that's how they survive, by casting away their humanities, because within this world of physical chaos there is no room for the peace of the dreamers.

He was a sleepwalker until he had to wake himself up. Such exquisite melody was over.

Time is cruel and so is he. An existential tragedian struggles for something different, something above this materialistic existence and falls into the pit of reality like Alice goes down the rabbit hole but reversed. By the time he grew up his instrument seemed to get lighter, or more likely that he got sturdier, but his heart recoiled by tons of neverending disappointments dangling above as massive weights about to drop down to his hedonistic fantasies, and to shield such little happinesses his companion had to become heavier with extra components added, no longer a true bari sax like how he is no longer a true musician. Fine enough, he is too much of a realist to be an actual artist anyway. As one might say, Orpheus is dead, killed by vulgar tendencies of crude humans, by the gaucheness of insensitive people who can't spare a minute to synchronize their souls with the lovely tunes, by the hopelessness of a failed maestro with his aesthetic tainted with blood, or mayhap blood is a form of elegance on its own beauty? God-forsaken, if there's god, he probably has abandoned mankind.

.

His brain ached again with that sad notion. Take them as an epitome, the ones that threw away humanity, nobody wanted to keep them around even politicians, unless their 'deity' was even crazier than homicidal outlaws.

"You go and explain that to those maniacs!" Inside the dirty alley of lengthened bricked walls covered by worn-out greyish paint blotted with spots of dried indistinguishable red-brown liquid that Orpheus did not wish to know what it was, where they stood during a quiet evening with no one around except for the giant moon shining down at them and glared like a gigantic eyeball that never blinked, the fetching slim lady with straight long hair cascading like Lyonnais silk behind the back of her stylish ochre trenchcoat and a part of her chiseled face covered with an eyepatch almost yelled at her teammate. Her voluble contralto reverberating in the dense air thickened throughout their grimy circumjacent space and resonated back and forward the obstacles then vanished within the steamy climate that almost never cooled down. For the zillion time she was sick of this job, who wouldn't? Her dignity, oh her dignity, she hated being looked down as a failure, she hated such feelings of her pride being stepped on after her efforts were poured into sand, which was abundant on this globe her corpse might as well be buried within this sea of coarse tiny bits if her time ran out. Much of a fainéant she was they might say, did ridiculously overpowered wingnuts like them even know the determination one normal person had to trade for strength to achieve higher, to survive within this vast deserted world as a lone gunslinger abandoning ordinary for a living without mundane pressures? Who was her kidding to, this recruitment stressed her even more than before, acknowledging her life values placed among the realm of comtempt and obsolescence. She abhorred with the realization that after washing her hands with vital fluids, her vitality would also be washed away as her humanhood decaying along with her sins burdened. Imagine being a bee with its sting pulled out along with its guts, for every assault it makes the chance of it dying represents, voilà! Whatever, this was not the only time she was disdained by her 'bosses', but this was definitely a time when she met ones who she could not defy. The distances between their capabilities were to broad; this world is never fair, she felt that deeply the day she was 'invited' by the one above humans for type of employment she could not imagine possible, but it was. How large is this world actually? She shrugged a little with that thought, being a speck of dust among the vast existences, live for a while a die within a moment along with all that responsibilities of herself discarded by her own hands. Scary, but was worth a try, deciding your life or having someone else decide it for you. Choose.

The so-called Orpheus joined into the discussion that was too unfriendly to be considered so but calling it a squabble would be too childish and calling it an argument would be too professional, let's call it contretemps then. "Calm down, you people." Tenor echoing within sighs, the fiasco they were stuck in was not Orpheus assigned task anyway, therefore it was understandable how he did not feel the tension of flunking. "Why don't you go and figure out other methods to fix the situation aside from arguing? The due date didn't arrive yet."

The man who was yelled at still remained collective and almost expressionless as usual, he always had this calm attribute of a Zen practitioner and the bizzare chivalry of a mad samurai that amazed and slightly annoyed Orpheus for its ambiguous obliviousness that he occasionally deemed as vague conformity to make it seemed more reasonable. As stereotypical as it sounded, were all those easterners collectivists or what? Perhaps not, some ching-chongs he met were quite bold and audacious, which was unsurprising since they came from a big-ass country with a thickness of histories that was magically united from multifarious ethnics who conflicted one another unsure how because he did not have time nor feel curious to read their chronicles; maybe just the iku-iku people then.

There was a time the Orpheus approached the sword fighter and asked him as the instrumentalist tried to be amiable with everyone being the representative of the group, "Are you a samurai?"

The guy replied coldly, "I'm a rounin."

"May I ask what's a rounin?"

"A samurai who wanders around without a master to serve." Oh, by a mean they were pretty similar by that perspective, except that Orpheus would not dare to voice out that valiantly. One just had to secure for himself.

"Then, why are you here?"

"For my personal ambition."

"Which is?" Do he had to suggest for every continuation of conversation?

"I want to cut something that is not human." Turning his head to face his teammate and his messy black ponytail wavered a bit, the wanderlusting Japanese stared intensifiedly with bloodshot eyes that hold too plentifully of boredom within the dark irises. "Can you feel the thirst of me for experiencing something new?" By that statement, Orpheus nod agreeably, perhaps Asians were not that much of humble individuals. Highlighted, individual, because that was one hell of confident individuality.

"Calm down. We can work this out before they found out. I'll help you guys."

A soothing interference took him back to the current moment, quite a likable voice in comparison to his hideously distorted figure crawling on the floor like a cockroach. He had never seen that person's face or gotten to hear his stories, maybe the guy was just shy or he was not attentive enough, alright then.

"So, what's the case?"

"Failed assassination, then the target raised his awareness and increased the numbers of guards." The Cyclops spoke tiredly. "I'm going to deal with him again. Can't rely on someone who is used to close-range combat in such troublesome case where the target's encircled within barriers of protection. That'll be a hell lot to clean before we can reach him."

"You'll in charge of the boss and I'm cleaning the minions then." The Asian added. "By the way, a sword is never out of bullets."

Shooting a firm glance, even more menacing with only one raven iris of her showing and glowing within the ghastly darkness that slowly engulfed them all, she said. "Yes, and its blade doesn't fly like a bullet does. Unlike when you shoot it from a bow like an arrow or something." Sarcastic much, hey it was just her personality. She was an expert too just of different type, she was aware of what she commented about. "Don't make me laugh."

Orpheus could always sense the esteem within that female; she was not dependent of anyone, having opinions and options of herself and keeping them proudly. Hey, everyone were professional hitmen, of course they were fully aware of their capabilities and disgraces of their statuses in others' perspectives. Sometimes he wished, damn, as if he could be as determined as they were then things would be much easier, yet one could not just decide without meticulous analytical approaches to his choice. Just no.

"Don't worry. I'm joining as your aid. I can do mass murder with my skills."

Two pairs of eyes from the blundered team gazed at him, with a bass "Thanks." showing gratitude and a secretive thought of probing into the helper's skills from the cowgirl, of course, she was glad that they were assisted too. Two sparrow for an arrow then.

Orpheus grabbed the opportunity before her hastily, asking almost immediately with cheerful voice. "Hey Hoppered. Can you explain your abilities for us so a plan can be made? Can you all do that?"

Shit, the dude was fast. "I'm keeping the technique for myself. I can reach the main target on my own, you all go and focus on the guards." She meant it; as long as people could see her, she would be invisible with no traces of memories about her remained in them after their confrontations.

"Fine." Clever woman, he missed a chance. "I already knew Rai-Dei's technique so Hoppered, elaborate about you for us please."

"Wait. Rai-Dei shared information about his skills to you already?" A smirk from the Cyclops was how much she showed her attitude toward her companions. Too honest dears, too honest. It was always better to keep some information for oneself, especially important ones that conserved personal advantages.

"Sure. Nothing to hide. My branch of swordsmanship is the best of the best." Yeah, whatever he said. Orpheus was even more assured that easterners could be really faithful in themselves.

"Alright! Midvalley, can you us with the plan?" Yes, as had been offered by the musician. "You don't have to get directly involved if you don't want to. We just really need the mind of an incrementalist to set things up effectively so that'll be wonderful if you can help." To mention by Orpheus's outlook, that deformed guy was the most modest person in their group. Maybe it was the appearance that tamed his ego, or he was just too nice for a killer, either way it could be fatal for the dude being so outgoing.

"I will." He smiled friend amiably at them, not too genuine though. "May I ask why you choose to help them?"

"I take that as a practice." Wow, this guy could be optimistic huh? "Besides, they're too solemn when it comes to struggles. You know what people say, 'when life gives you a lemon, go make lemonade'."

"I see." How positive. Orpheus was not sure of what to feel anymore. The point was, in this case it was more than just giving lemon, in which life held their heads and squeezed lemon juice right into their eyes. And forget about the juice already as nobody had sugar to mix with it anyway.

Yes, they were that oppressed by the decisions of such 'life'. If they were excluded from existing, then the ends of them would soon arrive.

.

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it, ah, out of sight
Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, oh, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there's never, never a trace of red

Now on the sidewalk, huh, huh, whoo sunny morning, un huh
Lies a body just oozin' life, eek
And someone's sneakin' 'round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

There's a tugboat, huh, huh, down by the river don'tcha know
Where a cement bag's just a'drooppin' on down
Oh, that cement is for, just for the weight, dear
Five'll get ya ten old Macky's back in town
Now d'ja hear 'bout Louie Miller? He disappeared, babe
After drawin' out all his hard-earned cash
And now MacHeath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy's done somethin' rash?

Now Jenny Diver, ho, ho, yeah, Sukey Tawdry
Ooh, Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Oh, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky's back in town

I said Jenny Diver, whoa, Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky's back in town
Look out, old Macky's back

(Mack the Knife - Kurt Weill / Bertolt Brecht / Marc Blitzstein)

.

Now the song is just completely creepy.

Orpheus woke from his destroyed siesta, sweating bullets as if he was a gun; granted he was by someone's definition, just not literally. Fuck, same old nightmare, he got sick of it as much as those repetitive requests from listeners asking them to play Careless Whisper (did their ranges of musical interests that limited?) but well, whatever, that would be the last time they listen to a song anyway. That how it went. Onetwo, mic dropped, carcasses dropped. When the beat went down so did everybody, so elegantly one would clap his hands applauding this performance with droplets of blood and sweat resonating within a metallic-smelling chamber spinned by harmonious notes turning disordered. And one did, a survivor, no, perhaps an 'audience', quite a rarity since usually all of them die at one and it had better be so, because if they did not, the band might be the ones who got killed next. That was exactly what happened.

Remember, kill-all, or else. Not only their motto, but also firstly proposed by him. He always assumed the worst then had destiny proved him right and he secured himself as a cynical leader as his friends patted his shoulders occasionally and said "mate, sometimes you're overly cautious". They were not wrong but he was not neither, especially in one encounter with that unexpectedly hot-headed and cold-hearted spectator, the one and only that returned to no-longer-their concerts. That man with stylish floss hair and sapphire eyes gazed enthusiastically into the pandemonium with utter excitement as if it was a drama stage with their tragedies as his comedies, his manner joyous and attitude confident. Orpheus was slightly suprised as first, but recognizing that bizarrely perilous aura emitted from a single being striked him with utter caution, not the subtle 'wait, something isn't right' he often had in his mind being an attentive participant of the dark side. It's his survival instinct of a stray animal and sensitive intuition of an artist that told him right away. That 'person' was... Cold. Serious. Bold. Precarious. Like a wild beast that could neverbe tamed. Psychotic. Odious. MelancholicObnoxious. Plainly and simply saying. Three words. What-the-fuck? Sadness and madness and anger and danger all those internecine struggles within one who raised his spikes like a hedgehog. Felt-like-getting-stabbed-by-a-million-blades. He could still remember that the other dudes speedily tensed up, wait no stop don't mess up with this monster you guys. He'll ravish you. He'll ravish us all. "Don't!" A sentence was how much he could talk with them for the last time, followed by their hasty replies enunciated by anxious voices and offensive gestures mismatched with his defensive one, "Why not, Midvalley?" "He knows our 'method'!!", then a pause. "I'm collecting knives. Sharp ones, capable of mass slaughter..." Their physiques dashing into the beast, "No! Don't!!!", a rise of that creature's hand, a desperate attempt to stop his companions to preserve them safely quickly slashed along with chunks of their bodies. Slash. Slash. Slash. Slash. Slash. All that much within a millisecond. How strange and terrying it was to notice not even a single laceration was cut onto him, yet his bandmates' parts still were still separately detached as if they were Don Quixote repeatedly cut by a windmill - loaf and loaf and loaf and loaf - their vital fluids splashed on his suit and dripping on his face after gluey droplets landed on his skin and trickled down to the stained floor, toc toc toc.

By the aftermath of the attack, he stood immobilized, being thinly soaked as if he was standing in a stage of a tainted water concert. Ruby. Crimson. Scarlet. Vermilion. With a faint shade of pale complexion, light blue and light blonde glowed brightly among the other contrasting shades. "You'll have your identity erased from the common citizenships along with your criminal records. You're going to work for me." was the next thing he heard, then he realized his hope was not the only thing being trampled on. Ironically, at that moment he suddenly felt his sense of art was twistedly appreciated while the possession of his own existence crudely taken away.

He survived, and was glad that he survived. He continued to live arrogantly with concerns for himself even though there were days feeling like his heart was tied and dangling on a thread - as red as the string of fate dyed with god's ichor if there was a god - about to get torn off and fall. Who cared about those other murderers, everybody had something to deal with. He had to live for himself, his private aesthetics, his belief, and for the commemoration of them without the belittling stares of those maniacs. He had to escape from this pitch of a hell masked by the chilling calmness of all solitary degenerates loitering around to work out their lives forcefully, who he was one among them. Lower your head, just lower your head. No one is better than anyone. Well, except for that 'everyone are the same, equally distasteful; except for me, I'm superior' of a dictator.

In late night such as this when the clock hit twelve and the cycle renewed, he found himself once again sitting quietly in a pulse of retrospect, dismissing the languishedly floating aroma of mixed alcohol beverages within the hollow state of a uncrowded lounge. Verbally wordless, he kept the images of them in a delightful corner of his memory in contradiction with this shattered leftovers of reality. Through time in this impermanent world, eventually nothing remains whole. With the familiar melodious reminiscences of decaying bygones, Orpheus ended up playing alone. 

Chapter Text

The destination that Clytie suggested lied on a intersection by the narrow entrance of a dark alley in which she did not wish to find out what was inside, and although Hyacinth did it was better not to split so impolitely with his companion during a rarely happened rendezvous of them, even though he would not mind doing so since he was pretty much unable to keep his gasoline from her fire of arising tension most of the time. Moonlight shined softy on their indistinct figures within the fog under the midnight blue sky, casted down a pair of faint shadows walking down the dusty staircases on a vacant street in a quiet town when everyone was either sleeping or spending their late hours in the preternatural serenity, down and down and around as if they were going to visit Hades, but since this world was a purgatory anyway let's ignore that.

"Here we are." With a clammy steampunkish red-brown motorcycle (of at least 500cc in his estimation) parked on the mustard-colored bricked pavement - and Hyacinth liked the vehicle immediately, he just did not like the grime on it - Clytie pointed her index finger cheerfully at an antique shop with big wooden door decorated by vintage patterns of laurel leaves and golden rim, fancy much. "One of my little enjoyable heavens on this boring globe."

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

The first noise he heard entering the shop was this series of synchronized clocks running at the same pace, almost perfect. Hourglasses, another type of devices for the estimation of time also represented, and not only those that were filled with sand but also those that were filled with oily pigmented liquids of various colors in replacement for sand as material used for measurement. Music was also a significant element that enhanced the atmosphere of the scene, those soporific Bach's compositions somehow blended superbly along with the tempo of time as San Francisco fog permeating within the windy summer ether, everything was calm and moderate one might as well fall asleep reposefully there and never wake up again. The place was full of tidy shelves neatly aligned by one by one another and exceptionally clean, in opposition with the motorbike outside and also the streets, as if all filthy substances had been swept out to the external area and left behind a dimly shining state of interiors, even better under such gentle lighting condition that caressed his vision. That utter cleanliness made him comfortable, he took delight in it - cleaniness in general, he took delight in bleaching his jackets until they were completely white, he took delight in washing his hair until the natural glow started to fade, he took delight in scratching out the dirt and dead skin cells on his skin with his nails when he took a bath until his body was full of pinkish lines along with soreness - that would reduce the filthiness within him.

Tick-tock.

"I like the sounds." Hyacinth said while studying a metal clock radio with buttons painted black while its cover was painted white, the color complexion kinda looked similar to a panda in the book on animal kingdom he read, even the mechanical pulsation of the thing really made it seemed like it had a heart. "Really enjoyable."

Tick-tock.

"You know, usually people enjoy the sounds of pouring rain, as if there was any rain on No Man's Land," she sarcastically said, "or of someone whispering softly. But the sounds of mechanisms? Oh boy, those are just plainly annoying."

"The sounds of someone whispering? Now that is just creepy. Why would one enjoy having a stranger rambling trivially when he tries to sleep?" Hyacinth turned to her and beheld behind her a huge longcase clock with evenly swinging pendulum under its case of a castle design. He approached suddenly which surprised her a bit with their physical proximity when their shoulders accidentally collided as he moved forward and caressed the anachronistic beauty rooting there motionless like a secular tree, grandfather of the evergreens and grandfather of the timepieces, quite matching if one was made into another. Stillness was the best quality of objects; unlike humans who eventually initiated some inappropriate actions when they are placed on a cozy bed or even an uncomfortable one, objects just stay still and cause no consternation. "Listen to the ticks of this elegant thing. Harmonized, ordered, such attributes of sounds are simply... "

Tick-tock.

"...smooth."

"Sure, whatever. Wait here while I talk to the craftsman."

Tick-tock.

He stood and listened to the rain of time that gradually poured into oblivion and then vaporized immediately, never getting back. Gazing up, trying to seek for something nice to observe and from above his head in the middle of the shop, a double-faced clock caught his sight, quite a rare one to exist, with both sides alike that he was unable to tell which one was the back and which one was the front, with its rim made it looked like a dimly blazing fireball especially when the gold-plated edges glittering under the amber light, twelve Greek metallic dials with four stood out from the rest, slim hands fluidly rotating nonstop instead of ticking for each second, all of that elegant structure hanged on a pair of shiny chains connected to the tall ceiling - which, by the way, was built from metal frames of several lengths nested among glass panels, such transparency allowed people inside to gaze up to the dusky yonder and have their sight flew up with the weakly shining stars. Such elegant tranquility of a supposedly ticking object, and his mind flickered in the thought that Apollo would like something like that, as He tended to collect souvenirs that were crafted based on the twin suns. Special meaning, huh? One could guess without asking and he oftentimes did, forasmuch as what He wanted was to be left by Himself until He needed assistance, which only occured occasionally, otherwise 'get the fuck out and let me alone'. What if I buy Him this clock? Looking at its exquisiteness and suddenly all other auditory stimuli disappeared, Hyacinth could feel the resonance of a million butterflies flapping in his abdomen as vague images lingered in the corner of his eyes, a droplet of crystal tear was about to fall for no specific reason.

For how long had he been happy like this?

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

He clenched tightly with the talisman of the necklace he was wearing as his consciousness floated along the auditory waves lapping on the shore of a strange paradise coastline called memory, inside his palm a tetragonal dipyramid with a series of mini skulls connecting to chaplet of tiny beads - all made of silver - was secured with the force of the grip. Hyacinth held it like he was about to lose it, as a casual feeling of how he was about to lose everything he appreciated. This, it was present from Him in which he begged for it - actually he begged for anything chosen by Apollo, whether it was a collar or a choker would also be fine - till the point his Boss got puzzled why he was so persistent. Back then when Hyacinth received it, it was a tenebrous afternoon with them sitting on a granite bench next to a water fountain in an empty parkland as he remembered, and the scene was indeed a painting of loneliness as the solitaires accompanied each other but their souls going alone. The Capo took out a tiny box in His gray covert coat's pocket then unpacked and dragged out an adornment, then He nudged Hyacinth and dropped the item on his palm, saying "I seldom see you ask for gifts." The older man glanced quickly at his henchman's cheerful expression before directed his sight up on the vast beyond above, gazing at the languish clouds with no shade of azure reflecting in his irises. "Besides, if it's just an accessory, you can buy it yourself." In a soft voice almost of a whisper as if his breath was taken away he replied, "I wish you to give it to me, hopefully that didn't bother you." He cuddled the periapt with tenderness, long fingers tracing on the refined details carefully like pythons slithering on an ancient sculpture. "This was to display my servantship, to present, myself as Master's follower."

"Or property." Apollo suggested yawningly with a bored expression. "But whatever."

Tick-tock.

By a joyous call from Clytie he lost his retrospective trail, "Hey, come here and pick up a gift for him too!", and he wiped the fluid on his face away - so it had fallen. She was standing by a clear showcase full of multifarious watches, next to her was an English-looking elder - unsure how old he was - with his white combed neatly into a beige flatcap, vest of the same matching color with the cap and white shirt below, ochre pants slightly wrinkled, well polished brown brogue shoes made from fine leather, a thick monocle partly hid his cerulean pupils - a stereotypical British man who mayhap was also the artisan. As he approached them Clytie was dashing around the vitrine like a squirrel hunger for chestnuts, fawning over the artifacts and made the store owner beamed with pride like a little girl complimenting on dolly dresses made by skillful tailor - it was no news that she loved dandy stuffs. With a cheery tone, she said, "I specially ordered him a present for his birthday but now I found even more of the things I want to buy for him. Check them out! Aren't they beautiful?" and grabbed Hyacinth's arm, pulling him to see what she was seeing. Sometimes she acted like an actual lovely lady although he still did not forget this 'sister' of him was a creepy aristocrat he as a baseborn servant was supposed to get along with for both of them being their Dominus's admirers, and like Apollo, she was hard to please but much less hard indeed.

"So, what do you think? Which of these are you going to buy for him?"

Glancing confusedly at each of the items and was surprised that timepieces were not the only things that were sold in the shop - aside from pocket watches there were sunglasses, goggles, wallets, handkerchiefs, belts, so on and so on, all being carefully placed on a secured layer of pelage (possibly artificial, it did not look like real fur to him). Hyacinth could not decide any to go along with but he was not interested in any of them anyway, hence he gazed at the old man and asked politely with semi-forced saccharine baritone "May I ask how much is that thing?" while pointing at the doublefaced sunshaped clock that was more eyecatching than the rest. The supposed owner of the shop waved his hand apologizing, "Sorry, it's a remarkable creation that was determined to belong here. It holds a very precious personal value to me I couldn't sell it away." Nodding lightly, he responsed with slight disappointment but still gently smiled as a gesture of politeness. "I see." As he catched the view of the senior directing his vision to that work (perchance of his), Hyacinth could somehow see the man's irises sparkling with an unidentifiable joy.

"Did you create that exquisite object, sir?"

"No, I made it with a friend, but that was a long time ago."

"Oh." So he was actually an artisan.

And he stood there immobile during a surf in undecipherable thoughts, as usual, with the glitter in those eyes sprinkled on his mind. Did he say he hate glittter, the modern plastic glitter? All those shimmery mirrors of multiple colors were basically like sand - extremely tiny one could get hold a handful of it and watch it slip from fingers as liquid did, but not wet - yet it could not be made into glass that would later be used to store even more sand and an embodiment of time in it, in other words, it was flamboyant and even after being executed did not turn much useful except for insipid baubles, like emotions, they might seem precious at certain times but had no values of practicalities unless they reminded him of something. Sometimes he wished he would stop feeling and pay more attention to work.

In a way, some people's lives would be easier being monotonous.

Tick-tock.

Like the rhythm of the clocks.

.

"That guy was of the best handicraftman I can find in this planet. It took quite a long period for him to finish an order but the result was worthy of the time he used, always."

Outside at the morbidly grimy streets full of ambiguous corners again, with Clytie chattering about her efforts to seek for a perfect gift, Hyacinth's inquisitiveness was reduced a bit, and although he could have queried more during the shopping he had decided not to since it would be trivial or insipid to dig information for nothing. While that place was actually like what Clytie had described - an enjoyable heaven on this boring globe - he had no reason to go there again unless somehow he could buy that outlandish clock. Well, unless his companion dragged him there for another occasion.

"Where are we going next?" As the question escaped from his mouth the effeminate business partner clapped her hands in gaiety, obviously she had set plans for how they would spend their date, if it could be considered a date but since she did not like him much, what happened next might turn rough quickly.

"To my house. Well, one of my houses." Without any implication in her speeches one could still tell she was rather wealthy, with her cultivated manner of speaking and a classy accent of Spanish language, or at least sounded like Spanish to him. How strange that he had never asked about her nationality but there were a lot of things he had never asked despite having curiosity, it just did not seem to matter much. Apollo used to comment he would survive just fine without being aware of too many trivialities, something among the lines of 'don't bother, you won't understand anyway' and 'as if a freak like you can get along with how humanity works, even I can't and I've enough with them already', and even before his boss said those he had swotting science and engineering books for a long time out of personal preferences - at least from those materials he could learn about how the physical world functioned and how to develop his skills to affect it, something philosophical books and novels did not help, or if they did he would not know anyway.

"So... What are we going to do there?"

"Get some clothes for the special event. I want us to look pretty in Knives's day." It was quite ironic for Hyacinth to hear that, considering everyday was the Lord's day for him, but then, Clytie probably had more people to associate with than him, she was a socialite after all. "Besides, you need decent clothes. Have I ever tell you I loathe your outfits and you in general?"

Yeah, technically in everytime they met.

"I feel just fine with my clothes."

"I don't. Just get a proper suit sometimes. At least dress in one that I can enjoy looking at." In fact, she could not understand why the two men of her interest were so passionate about spiky clothing that made them look as edgy as a hedgehog - maybe because like hedgehogs they were skittish as hell.

"Not one of those weird dresses you wear, right?" As Hyacinth spoke, Clytie was about to cough in embarrassment, why did he have to remind her of how inappropriately annoying he was?

There was an incident when they spent their days together back then, three of them in a vintage house far away from the metropolis and away from the mass otherwise Apollo would not-accidentally murder them (again), while their doctor returned to his own place to stay as he could not stand their zeal for violence. Their home was nice, Prairie architecture with cinnamon-colored walls and fences that stayed stiff against harsh weathers such as sandstorm, large windows that when opened were welcoming of the air outside, terracotta ornate trim decorated with delicate curves shaped like flowers and coffee rooftops above asymmetrical sections, a copper-tone metal swing in the quite unrelated Zen garden with dark gray rocks as outdoor seats and no trees because it was easier to find arenaceous matters than trees on Gunsmoke; she could describe it as the Barbie doll house of her dream (well, one of her dreams) except that her Ken brought along a pet that he kept very close to him, closer than her and she got jealous with 'it'. Anyway, during a night with Hyacinth walking down the hall - in which lied between their rooms and the garden, with silver tarpaulin covering above it instead of roof - to get to the kitchen and make a cup of tea for Apollo, although no one asked for it and she was sure the boy tried to pamper their boss to catch his attention, what a clingy and nasty brat. As he plodded pass her room, with the door still unclosed (because she wanted to feel some fresh breezes from the hall) he could see what was happening inside, a glimpse was all he did and catched the scene of Clytie stood there before a white makeup table with mirror above the shelves, wearing a scarlet nightdress, and she stopped midway while painting her glossy red lipstick. Immobilized by the sight, Hyacinth felt amazed, so Clytie was more unwell than he thought. Two steps was enough to approach the entrance of the room, without getting in, he closed the door for her.

And she got pissed off.

She dashed outside slamming the door behind her and hit him repetitively with her hands slapping on his left shoulder, pat-pat-pat.

"Ow! Ow! Ow! Why are you hitting me?" He got confused, one thing about Clytie was that she could be really hot-headed at occasions for bizarre reasons while being a rather collective and cheerful business partner most of the time. Guess crazy people were just crazy, and although he had spent years with insane individuals throughout his lifespan, it seemed like the peculiarities were never enough. He could not satisfy everyone or stop their dissatisfaction; this person might enjoy hardcore interactions right away but that person might enjoy a slow foreplay, one might request him to be a dead tuna and another might demand him to be active like a chipmunk begging to be fed, something like that. Quite off to think of those things while he no longer had to do those activities anymore, but those he mentioned were definitely more representative for crazy people than Clytie.

She shrieked her voice replying, "Excuse me! Is my interest too 'ugly' that you think I should keep it secretive so people won't have to endure that!?" "What?" Hyacinth talked back, feeling even more confused than before. "I was just closing the door for you. Ow! Why are you mad?"

From his own room not to far from their locations, Apollo could hear them bickering, the cacophony was louder than the gasps of the winds blowing over the window like Zephyrus was about to die from from a lung failure. Actually that quarrel was just one-sided and he was aware of which side was that, still, what the fuck? Guys, it was one o'clock in the morning and Apollo had just only finished his burden of paper works and turned on an album of classic tunes from 20th century's golden era of earth to call it a break; oh hey, Mack the Knife, this song could be used for people to make a pun out of his name, damn no fun but the melody sounded so good. "Hey, shut up!" Apollo shouted and the echo vibrated along the dimly moonshined hallway.

"We apologize, Master."

"Knivesss!" Her somewhat girly voice almost pissed Apollo off, oh shut up was she eight or something to scream like a little missy like that? These two ducklings, for the sake of the sun deity he swore if he could stick plastic tapes over their mouths to make them stay quiet he would. Maybe he should...

"Master, allow me to explain."

"Knives, he was disrespecting my personal interest!"

"No, I was respecting your privacy." Hyacinth recoiled as an involuntary reflex when Clytie almost hit him again, but she just kept her hand on the air menacingly instead.

"Chill the fuck down, you two! Listen, I don't care what your problem is, but if any of you think you should take the responsibility then do it now." Of course, with their personalities Apollo glanced suggestively at Hyacinth who got the signal right away. Say it, say the phrase I taught you to calm her down, although it might sound really cringey. It was very unlikely that she would step back and collect herself when it came to her colleague that was too familiar being together after all these years, thus she knew well enough his docile traits that she enjoyed to exploit and bully.

Hyacinth blinked, um, are you sure it'll work, my Lord? Apollo raised his eyebrows, go try and experience. Swallowing a choke, the guy said "I apologize. I... just can't understand a lady's mindset." reluctantly, anyone else thought this was weird?

Hearing this, Clytie had herself calmed down a bit. Whoops, if he said this in the beginning there would not be any ludicrous fight between them. Apollo nod satisfiedly, see, I told you. Hyacinth bit his lip awkwardly, the truth is, he could not understand anyone's mindset, including his master too. Why are people so eccentric?

.

Well, the house they were in was not that same house, this one looked rather Italianate with grayish blue wall and black roofs, and everything else else he did not know how to describe with their luxurious traits which suitable adjectives to refer to were unavailable in his dictionary.

"This is a blazer, quite similar to a sports coat or a suit jacket, but more casual." Clytie introduced non-stop about clothing terminologies, Hyacinth did not think he would memorize them too.

"Too many terms. Can I excuse myself from remembering them?"

"You can remember a bunch of complicated food names and can't remember a few terms about fashion?"

"Different people have different interests..." It would be quicker if he picked up and wore anything he found pretty.

"No. Damn, I wish you and master Knives would quit your hedgehog suits sometimes." To be honest, an chance of them quitting their suits was as rare as Clytie quitting her winter dresses that had no relevant to the climate of the planet but she gotta kept her fashion icon status, even when the style was off the theme. "Or at least change your hairstyles. Knives always looks stylish even when he's not groomed but your appearance is just absolutely gloomy." Intriguing how she pronounced the word 'stylish' as if her tongue was a snake twisting along the solidified vocable. "With his ungroomed appearance, he looked almost..."

And Clytie continued her sentence right after a hasty pause.

"...effeminate."

"...fragile."

"Fragile you say?" Clytie rose her voice with Hyacinth's opinion. "Now that sounds more accurate."

She was not joking when she complimented Apollo to actually look like the sun god back then while she watched him from outside the bulb as he was newly healed, with curves of cascading hair the pastel color of delightful yellow - or as Hyacinth described, like lemon chiffon (why did he always have to relate such finesse with food?) - covered his face in a shade that would remain the same forever with that gorgeous ageless face which she adored (and secretly desired to plant a kiss on it). O'Lord, how her psche woud collapse under the weight of such heartbreaking beauty that never changed in contradiction with her maturity; and within her inner vehement urge she wanted to devour him whole inside her selfishness, to quaff such nectar of boldness and tame the thrist of novelty in this barren desert of her soul, to shallow every drop of her delusion fine as wine down her esophagus and cheer for the existence of such sophistication to be delivered in this poignant world.

With that fervor needless of reciprocity, Clytie wished Apollo would call her Daphne, but of course with their roles reversed, granted he was already a plant.

.

"I'm bored. Tell me a joke." Clytie initiated a conversation as they sat in a rococo bistro as flowery as her coat, with a forest of gleaming ornamental patterns on creamy walls that confused Hyacinth who was trying to track where the series of details ran to as she ordered him to speak.

"Your temper." He knew it was a bad joke, just like Clytie's temper, but it was not like he could provide any humorous joke anyway. Unsurprisingly she hit him, again. Did Clytie know she did not need to provide an example for what he just said?

Sitting on a couch of his own, Apollo meticulous studied the gift from his feminine minion, a chronograph watch of black leather strap with titanium case and the fluorescent surface was clearly shining below the sunlight glowing on them, the bezel was decorated with golden cursive strokes meandering along the circular egde and the subdial had its place at the second smaller sun from within. He was suprised to find himself enjoying such superficial property given to him, realizing his feelings of simplistic joys was not dead yet, although he used to believe they had died and buried, with a proper funeral given for each. Glancing down at his knee-high shoes, untied, but he continued to observe the present. Hyacinth caught the gesture of his boss right away and approach Apollo to finish his footwear for him.

When Hyacinth was still fastening the knots Apollo had enough of the watch already. Maybe he should suggest his Lord to wear boots to save time, but He actually looked great in shoes like those, shoes with every detail chiseled and sharply pierced his attention like blades. As he was done and was amazed how he even finished tying those laces, a shadow of something flew above his head as passing specter haunted the house of rising sun and Hyacinth rose his eyes up to the ceiling to check what it was. A bird, oh, unknown of what species, with its faint shape partly visible through the translucent rooftop and he could see the silhouette of a decayed fallen leaf landing above that semitransparent surface like a rotten carcass on a beach of white sand and he was under both; this somehow reminded him of the roof of antique shop he went to with Clytie, but the another one was rather fully transparent while this one was blurry, still looking like summer's fog diffusing on the Golden Gate bridge when the cool water below invited people to jump down. He was so indulged in comparing the similarities of those places he had gone to that Hyacinth dismissed the words of his boss saying something unhearable to his awareness, then Apollo who got iritated of being ignored stepped on his right shoulder harshly and said.

"You are too distracted."

"Pardon me?" Coming back to reality and that was all Hyacinth could say while the sole trampling on his scapula gave him an pulsing ache as he did not know how to react appropriately.

"You told me that you're here to serve me, right? Then don't lose focus." Apollo enunciate his words clearly and loudly enough to catch the attentiveness of his servant by the trap of his voice and unintentionally alluring syllables dropping as baits for the Mediterranean stray cat to follow and savor. "Focus on me."

El gato bowed down in slight embarrassment that he was once more distracted, and although he did not forget his vow to Apollo, he was easily pulled in and out of it with his common perplexities. Somehow Hyacinth felt like he had to fix this.

But Apollo, that oblivious guy, he tended to forget what he said really, really soon.

Chapter Text

"Why doesn't she travel continually with us?"

Before losing his mind from the antagonizing heat with his soles numbed like the shoes had been melting by the scorching ground they walked on or something, Hyacinth tried to concentrate on his retrospective journal while the twin suns poked a million of their intangible needles of high temperature on his skin and almost made him forget what he was curious about all the time but had never asked until then. Apollo - as if the suns had favored him, as if he was one of the sun himself - stepped nonchalantly on the sandy layer full of their slowly forgotten footsteps running in trails, attitude unchanged when facing this vast desert with no end to it like all the lands on this planet were stuffed within a hourglass, and without turning back to look at his servant, answered the question coldly. "She has her own life."

Being unable to find any reply, the boy silently plodded after his boss as a loyal pet he always was, eyes lowered to the miniscule particles dripping into the inside of his footwear and the tiny bits pierced into his feet sorely, and he could not help but decrease his speed. Usually if the girly companion was together with them, she would taunt him with a mockery calling him 'weakkk' or roll her eyes several times while blaming him to slow them down (in fact she rolled her eyes a lot it could be considered eye abuse), but then they always stopped and had a rest afterwards. It just how they got used to each other, and when comparing to most, people he had spent time together before meeting this familiar 'association', she was actually kind of decent, just had a bad habit of spitting gall as remarks in verbal communication. Obviously, her honeyed tongue was only preserved for the superiors or ones that she could exploit effectively.

At the same time when Hyacinth thought about Clytie, her mind was also loitering on the regret of her sudden departure, in a place faraway from them on her expensive mid-engined SUV soiled with dust that created a sandstorm behind its rolling wheels, shiny metallic bumper reflecting the sunlight and created a mobile radiance flickering on the meandering waves of arenaceous bits, fenders painted white while most of the body painted blue the same color as Apollo's irises, hot white steam buffeted from the exhaust pipe like a chainsmoker on his daily routine of polluting the air, and the way it surfed on the desert resembled an expert predator meticulously aiming at its prey - 40 mph until it reached the destination. When she bought this car and decided to redesign it with the suggestion of her 'friend', she had an attempt to make its appearance echoed the exquisiteness of her idol, but not because she wanted to ride him or something (neither to drive him; it was merely because he was pretty suitable as an icon for everything, alright?). This baby of her had a 31-gallon fuel tank that she drained quickly with her self-pleasuring habit; she wished it could have been more but Hyacinth said it was a car, not a truck. 120 horsepower, a fulltime 4-wheel-drive system, locking differentials, 2-speed transfer case, power steering, central tire inflation system - best designated traits for the sake of a majestic baby; everything was for a splendid usage on offroad terrain.

She was heading home, or at least where could be called a home with her lovely mother in it. The concept of family was quite ambiguous to Clytie since a young age since she learned that her parents entered a marriage of convenience for financial and proprietary purpose, but it could not be said that they did not get engaged out of love - rather an instantaneous attraction that in a fashion of a thunderbolt striked father and mother during a business meeting back in the newly successful days. With the connection of two corporation and their CEOs concurring each other's mindsets (on a sidenote, her grandparents were chairmen), a longterm joint venture soon proceeded to an espousal, hence 'she' was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. All that happened before the splitup between The Great Gasby of a dad and Jane Eyre of a mom that resulted in Clytie being torn apart by confusion of inability to choose who to follow, in which she picked the option of staying with her mom but secretly harbored a lingering repentance for her dad, thus later on ended up lurking around Apollo for his daddyish vibe reminding of her old man (and while people might find him acting immature, he was actually quite a man of hidden maturity - just an incredibly bold one in term of outward manner).

The enchanting vocables on the tip of his tongue...

"I know what I'm doing."

...lured her into a phantasmagoria...

"Shut... "

...with no escape.

"...up."

And she loved it.

When she was younger she wondered why her parents did not get a divorce already, the truth was they did not have spare time for that, especially when the whole situation became much more complex to deal since there was no prenuptial agreement in the beginning. At least the alimony was unnecessary since both of them were rich, but the division of property, and most significantly - child custody, were deemed no more than a mess that needed to handle professionally, and when they said 'professionally', it meant avoiding those potential complications by not divorcing but separating with statuses of spouses kept. Clytie still had to choose one among them as they agreed to divide into different households, and inside her selfish mind of a child the desire for living with both of them rolled around persistently, 'anyone was fine, godamnit, why can't I have both?'. Needy, but that was who she was, that was how she was aspired to climb higher - because she was needy, and greedy. How ridiculous those avarice tendencies even affected her loves for her parents; 'but everyone want to possess what they cherish', or at least she did. 'Papa and mama are independent adults, they don't need to cling on each other', this starting as the simplest explanation of their circumstance (that could be comprehended by the silly-silly tiny missy) developed into a conditioned series of growing into a maverick, and one day the little sunflower would turn into someone like that too - aloof and individualistic with great expectations of self to fulfill.

"Damn it." She spat her shriek curse into the hot air densed around her sweating body as her dainty fingers tightened around the driver wheel, drop and drop and drop of saltiness within the liquid and within her psyche soaked into the gainsboro seat. Clytie tried to adjust her thermal comfort but as she checked the mini air conditioner had been turned to its lowest possible temperature, well fuck this. 'Summertime, an' the livin' is NOT easy. Please excuse me Mr. George Gershwin, but I hate summer, and anyone who has 'summer' in his name.' She could have mumbled those loitering thoughts, but focusing on driving was more important, and even though she was desperate of getting to a snowland where she could enjoy her fancy winter dresses (which was unfortunately nonexistent on this globe), going back to home was still more important, but she gotta reached her private garage in the nearby town to switch her vehicle to an all-wheel-drive before that - the next road she would be driving on was an asphalt-covered one. Safety first, and she could increase the travelling speed.

Hey, a 4wd-low like the one she was driving could operate on snow as well as sand, both surfaces had low traction anyway.

.

Enough of this tomfoolery, Apollo would have someone to manage those delinquents for him instead.

Perhaps some people did not realize how permissive he was until they started to work with Hyacinth, as back then the tacit rules were to toil with their best efforts in order to survive, not to mention they could do whatever they enjoyed outside their jobs and even try to escape from such occupation - as a boss he didn't care much about them to be honest. Why the hell did those employees have to make their working conditions more unnecessarily stressful?

The blue hair guy's facial expression remained unchanged when Apollo informed to those workers that Hyacinth would be in charge of them semidirectly (of course without explaining the reason for such assignment), and almost immediately after finishing his brief notification he could hear someone whispered, "That guy?" Yes, this guy. Hello, Apollo adopted him as a young age, and although the man's child rearing ability was a joke in which he never bothered to make it better, as least he was attentive enough to nurture a pseudo-Marty Stue that could act as his deputy. This secretary of him was a produce of multiple parenting styles he studied from materials on developmental psychology (see, at least he tried), with neither of them applied probably nor strictly enough to fully affect the kid (in which Hyacinth's manner was docile in any of those methods anyway so somehow the outcome was still preserved, yeah?). One day the lunatic 'dad' could be all attentive and so on because he had nothing else more interesting to do - but mostly he stayed authoritarian because he was the fucking boss here, another day he went completely uninvolved with not a single interaction performed - as he needed to rest and sleep for this deteriorated body to be healed before it got worse (and it did, hah).

"So, why is your hair blue?" Out of curiosity, Orpheus - a saxophonist in Apollo's personal army - asked the menial of the lord; he had better try to get friendly with this guy just in case.

"None of your business. I'm here to monitor your progressions, not to answer your trivial questions." Ok, the musician's attempt didn't work. Behind Orpheus, an one-eyed gunslinger and an odd-looking man in an outfit similar to a spiky sphere eyed at each other suggestively for a silent exchange of agreement on how they disliked their manager since the first impression, 'cocky brat'. Hyacinth caught the sight of that interaction, but the only thing in his mind in regard of such moment was how that man looked like a high dimensional hypercube of probably at least seven units, or maybe a puffer ball if only that armor somehow turned soft (he had never known what puffer balls were created for, perhaps as toys to throw into people's faces without actually hurting them, which seemed kinda useless).

"Chotto matte. That means we are going to discuss our business with you instead of our boss from now on?" The samurai stepped up and voiced out his question, and secretly he was hopeful of smoother interpersonal interactions among fellow humans with this new dude in charge (assuming that blue-haired weirdo was a human) yet half of him found it would be disappointing if their supervisor was actually the same kind as them. More familiarity, less challenges; more pent-up ennui, less excitement of continuing this stressful job - that would summarize the Japanese's attitude.

Hyacinth knew the Asian said "chotto matte", but somehow he intentionally bent the words as 'choco latte' and had two second drifting his thoughts to food and beverages before he could speak about the current topic. "You people will still have your symposia with Midvalley as usual and have him reporting your results after missions to me. Since he's already your spokesman it'll be more convenient to have him talk with you."

"Wait, I am?" It could not be helped that Orpheus perceived that statement as suprising, for unknown reason he suddenly found himself in a position he did not even know he was in.

"Aren't you? Master Knives said you're the most representative of all Guns."

"Uhm... Sure, I'll look over us employees." As a realist he adapted to the situation just fine; positively speaking this could be an opportunity to gain certain advantages, so why not?

.

With his mini-military being watched by someone else, Apollo got back to his bulb to rest and think, because he had to have something in his mind otherwise he would go insane with boredom or worse - a feeling of vanity about his existence. Cogito, ergo sum; and the cozy atmosphere of this container was suitable for such activity of having oneself drown in notions. Sometimes he thought of how to control those vermin he kept in his domain as drudges more effectively, sometimes about how those human sinners sabotaged their own living conditions, sometimes about a new scientific publications, but mostly it was about several incremental approaches to his ambition. For this time he would share a bit of his concerns for one of his minion.

Elendira. In their first conversation outside an overly embellished plaza where her parents held a business conference in which Apollo got involved in that aristocratic circle with his distribution of lost technologies, he asked her, "Why 'l' instead of 'r'? Why not Erendira? Too casual of a name for you?", and she answered, "Because people would call me 'Eren' short for 'Erendira', that's a Turkish name for a boy, not my favourite Spanish name for a girl." Apollo almost chuckled, a girl, okay... "Besides, 'Elen' sounds close to 'Elena' in case somebody gets mistaken of my moniker, which is also a very lovely feminine name."

"What does 'Erendira' mean in Spanish?"

"It means 'she who smiles'." No wonder, she surely smiled a lot, with her usual confident demeanor.

Back in that day, the great yonder was as tall as ever with lazy clouds floated languorously in their daily siesta and the breezes blew in a relaxing manner with no tiny obnoxious particles getting lifted from the earthy ground by Zephyrus's magic and fly right into their eyes like how it usually occurred, flamboyant ornamental walls had their complex patterns reflected in the pellucid gems of sapphire when Apollo tracked how far those details would reach, and Clytie followed him as they chattered on random topics while strolling down the fancy halls continuing one another. He could not recall well what they talked about in that colloquy - something about the frequent protests of disturbed citizens, post-truth politics where even politicians threw emotions into one another's faces too habitually, ludicrous propaganda all over the media, failed application of Keynesian economy leading into recession, violence came to be a norm among the whole scene of social degradation, jails slowly becoming more vastly constructed than schools and churches thus those beneficial infrastructures in due course evolved into orphanages,... Their planet was really a jar of kodoku practice where strongest insects ravished one another to become the best. "I find myself having no difference to those athirst psychos." she said, which was not one bit suprising considering how she was raised by a family among those elite super-rich - those who were most successful of their routinely commited tax evasion, those who pursued advantages from this state of crony capitalism, those who cherished lies as petrol for their collusion to function effectively. '1% stands against the 99%, go on and ignore them or hate them with your best bitterness', that would be how opulent jerks typically behaved, and while hanging around with them for financial gains Apollo often sniggered at that common deportment of his collaborators (and he was aware that many of them would betray their own species to conserve their heydays), forasmuch as he never identified with the 100% of population on this globe, except for that only one. Getting along with humans was acceptable though, particularly with exceptional libertines such as this 'lady' who was rambling to him how much she was into investment; hey, maybe he should suggest her about money laundering through stock exchanges, the not-too-bad-of-a-spider adolescent seemed potential for such activities, and the AML laws on Gunsmoke in general were quite defective anyway.

"My antisocial muse." Clytie called him so and he reacted sardonically, 'you can't be antisocial if you're not a part of society in the first place'. It was not like did not care of how mankind operated - as he had better understand them if he desired to obliterate them, Apollo just got sick of their hypocrisy, however fairly speaking eveyone including him were more or less hypocrites, so in the end it was about people with certain flaws detesting ones with different flaws from them due to the varieties of standards. Sometimes he tried to reason, what made him more deserving of owning this sandy sphere than those high-functioning parasites? Evolutionary advancements? Excessive physical and mental abilities? Overpowered capabilities? And apart from those, what else?

Egocentrically saying he Apollo did not care that much about whether he was above anyone or anyone above him (oftentimes he eliminated them quickly to avert future hindrances, better took notices to such eventualities), everyone made a position of oneself in which he excluded himself from the rest regularly. The maniacs had their own places, he made his own place, peculiarly the others tended to incorporate him in their hierarchical system - usually at somewhere on top even though he did not request them to give him reverence or even respect, they just automatically did it. Pitiful humans deluded themselves with the belief that their positions were assigned by his influences while Apollo gave no fuck about the evaluations of any individual's self-worth, he just found them significant or insignificant, invaluable or dispensable. Was that an inferiority complex they were having to feel insecure by his impact on them? Lame; undeniably capable people did not need to get admited to maintain their abilities, conversely people feeling secured of their own positions did not mean they were already adept (not to consider ones who were too assured of themselves tended to omit acknowledging their limits, thus it got harder for them to progress). Apollo simpered and recall the time a spy quitting on assassinating him even before a try, because the sneaky spider was scared, because his intuition screamed 'danger' when he approached the interdimensional creature near enough, because he erased himself from their game with his intrinsic timidity (which kept him alive; really, Apollo could have spare the poor thing if he entertained him with any speck of courage he could sense of, in which there was none). Boring, fucking boring. Thankfully they were also too unconfident to drag him into a mess of tall poppy syndrome, as he did not give a damn or have time for that shit. Quite a practical obliviousness he had, actually.

"I like how you set your principles to yourself before others." Clytie commented on his pragmatic ignorance, perhaps that was why he was interested in her. What she told her make him admitted about deliberately blending the contrasting characteristics within his management of everything with simplistic foundations so he could control his hired assassins easier - to all his workers, it was either living or dying, getting their jobs done or having their heads decapitated. Initially they could do anything they wanted, he did not care about the comings and goings of lower pests, they could even run away and never come back without his recognition, since with their limited knowledge and restricted awarenesses of his region's inner system they would not make any use for those who wished to hunt him down anyway. Ironically with that basic rules he was also acting as an indirect dictator of an employer; he picked criminals because they had no other place to go except for prison or death so they crawled to him for welfare with a bonus of their private information erased from citizen database, when they chose to escape he just had them getting hunted by letting their identities spread around for the police or bounty hunters to track or had them killed by his reliable agents who dealt with stuff he did not have time to do - especially Hyacinth with his paranoia of betrayals to Apollo by the personal army, which made him a retentive freak. So, did that make him a totalitarian or a liberal leader? Well that was a rhetorical question; the answer was 'definitely a Machiavellian' even though Pharisaically he denied to be one, or at least he was a frank opportunist, excuse anyone who discerned otherwise. Every single person was a composition of paradoxes and he was fine with accommodating such antinomies.

From sticking to those favored principles he somehow attained an outstandingly useful supporter. When Clytie offered herself "Seems interesting. I want to try being in your team." he went "What?", not really because he was suprised but rather amused although he could read her true nature clearly, still it was quite an abrupt confession. Apollo grinned, "I'll think about that.", and of course she accepted cheerfully his invitation of her to his crew in an another day.

Clytie soon became one in the pair of his most treasured 'possessions' but he kept her quite distant, mostly due to the winter princess's background that required recurrent participation in order to work out and mask her secretive association with him, and also due to the efficiency of her wickedness making that breathing sunflower a perfect hidden Guns to watch over his low-level laborers from within the dark, but most of all he could not objectify her officially with such status she obtained - unlike that Mediterranean ventilating apotropaic talisman, her self-esteem was quite towering. Their codes of honors might collide for such egos to be adjacent, they could be fatal to each other as much as they were toward everyone else. Treating Clytie appropriately was a new degree of challenge comparing to the general Guns, but originally in any circumstance he always had to evaluate elements of his system to prevent personal principles of each fighter being unduly diminished by the codes of conducts (so their proficiencies would not drop out of uncertainties) and also to make sure those hitmen being unable to step on the rules without making those regulations too radically. To what extent should freedom be allowed? That was a concernment dated back to the Age of Enlightenment when the philosophers were worried of freedom getting misunderstood and turning disorganized. When personal principles were trivialized by the stiffness of administration, the absoluteness of one's ideals also got reduced and what was left of such curtailment would be the resignation of oneself into a blind obedience of so-called 'conformity', resulting in several troubles such as deindividuation or majoritarianism - in the long run either people synchronized themselves or held their heads high with dissidence and became targets of hostilities like how Socrates was a victim of Athens. From another point of view, if everyone put too many idiosyncratic values into the already constrained ethics, they would go back to the original state of anarchic that needed to be resolved for the minimal stability - even lawless people had their own difficulties. This was so repetitive he did not even want to discuss it again.

Laws and ethics - hang on a second. To mention the loose enforcement of laws and ethics in his group, it should be noted that not the entire soldiery he collected was lax toward disciplines. It was a fucking hotpot anyway, and sometimes he wondered how the hell did he even gathered those creeps with such diverse characteristics - definitely powers of all types, gladly he worked hard. One way or another his system had to lean toward a state of pseudo-dictatorship in order to keep them from ruining his plans (that most of them did not even knew about) with their egotistical arrogances and extinguish any possibly upcoming coup d'état (which would not work well with such obvious difference in puissances). The ones with most restrictions (funnily, made by themselves) were members of a cult called Eye of Michael which was based on a theocracy that worshipped his species (and Apollo did not care why the hell they did that), they were a perfect example of how a system was drastically moralized; he could imagine the way they turned against one another with alternative opinions and individualistic ideologies started to develop within such manipulative network of religious fanaticism. How ridiculous, but then Apollo who put faith in himself the most and barely shared it for anyone would not comprehend fully such mindsets to objectively judge them, he just found them ludicrous - and useful. Humanity was truly a fuckload of chaos.

The more he wandered in thoughts the more he found himself small compared to this universe, and rather unrealistic, howbeit everyone is a bit of a realist and a dreamer - he put his mentality in between them and never leaned into any side nor had them mingled, to be honest. Everyone had a subjective reality for themselves, but the objective reality belonged to nobody, maybe except for 'god' if such one was real; it was just it, axiomatically existed without the descriptions by any adjectives. Red - ones who ascertained the world to be a playground full of potentials as toys probably had not seen much the abominable sides of it; blue - ones who ferreted out its repugnant attributes and got engulfed in them probably had dismissed how frabjous of a Wonderland it could be. He was in favor of pessimistic, truthfully saying, but he defied it as much as he defied how the current era was worthy of living. Well, every era would undergo its own problems though, hence all zeitgeister eventually have multifarious issues to whine about from their arisen moments to eternity. Farcically he felt excited with that mess, either one would asphyxiate himself in the intersections of such forces of contradictions or die at once and discard everything. One of the things he was enthusiastic during his prolonged lifespan was to appease his inquisitiveness, to seek for something out of his empirical limitations despite of being able to perform logical reasoning procedures to predict and presume entities.

Apollo smirked, he believed he should build a new realm in replacement of this one. Delusional much, but for decades that raison d'être had been the ultimate source of novelty - he could not let it go. And again in his vivid lucidity that vision appeared to be more vivid, Apollo was in a world of lonely series of dreams of which he was the bystander as he had always been; he would be there gazing down the mutual demolitions of pathetic Homo sapiens struggling to trample on one another by the excuse of survival, pushing themselves toward a hellish stage of barbarism down the lowest level of Maslow hierarchies and suffering while being controlled by such primitive physiological needs, choking and sputtering with shames stuffed into their garrulous mouths which ranted too much about moralities yet could not embrace them properly. The shapes, colors, sounds, sensations were rolling around like ideasthesia linking from one piece of mind to another, from one imaginary tragedy to another. No need to understand, just let him go insane; just another recreational fantasy, say bye bye to logic and say hi to irrationality. Disgusting enough, the similar element of him to humans was that both were not completely rational beings, rather emotional and impulsive at certain points.

.

Apollo felt into his lengthened slumber again, as always. Predictably the boss would swim in abstractions before his mind got consumed by fading consciousness.

With a portion of his chest to head rested on the cold layer of a metal table in a room lack of illumination except a honeyed luminosity from a dimly glowing lamp, Hyacinth sat quietly and sighed while trying to estimate the hours that had passed since he entered such sickeningly solitary zone and stayed there. Blinking his eyes only to switch between instant junctures of darkness when the lids closed and opened, he guessed the time by then maybe was about 1 A.M. in the morning or later than that. Within the amorphous vastness of the unfathomable universe where rays of starlight took forever to reach earth, one could not stand but compare how short his lifetime was to the interlude between Big Bang and Big Crunch. Tired and bored, everything was engulfed in a clueless vacancy where time dilation affected his (supposed-to-be) youthful mind to sense the acceleration of every moment. He needed to bear his own patience, and got anxious of still being unable to know what he had missed or might have missed during his burial of cognition in the expectation of his master waking up. The only thing that he could do to chase away the boredom and have a sense of existence in this pitch black space was observing tiny dots of lights twinkling from afar, and since they were still visible from all those distances, each of them might be an unsurprisingly giant celestial object if someone came close enough to behold its ginormous size.

How unrelated, Hyacinth cut the insipid analogy to astronomy and glanced at his cup of sweetness that had transmogrified into smoothie or so. About five minutes ago he was still irritated by how his ice cream had melted too quickly but shortly later he could not bother to care a bit of what would happen next. Whatever - even when his dessert turned into a desert he would not flinch any bit. He tried to shift his mind onto the the upcoming plans yet was incapable to run away from random lingering thoughts, besides the comfortable and cool atmosphere of the room also distracted him from systemizing his reports of the Guns' finished tasks. Comically, the lack of stimuli might have given him an experience of Ganzfeld effect on his perception, with reminiscing images appeared from nowhere like lengthened strings pulled out from an invisible loom and started interlacing one another to weave a tapestry depicting his unexpected apprehensions - ones which in the past might have been too ambiguous to be unsettled by them.

Hyacinth listened to his own heartbeats getting faster when time seemed to stop running and so did everything else. He was trapped in the empire of nihility. Eptiness. Nothingness. There is no hope there, not a single touch of liveliness coming from outside reached the place he was in, and he crazed for some kind of magic to happen, even when he did not believe in wonders - not then, not before, maybe except for that one special time and never again - but the only solution that seemed available was to wait. This was not something recently happened, as isolation and loneliness had become an incurable disease a long time ago. He tried to talk, to laugh, to listen to his own voice getting devoured by silence dominating everything; he provoked himself so much and felt so much on insipid matters, to feel alive, to conserve his sanity waiting for a chance to get out of this bottomless abyss, but still got stuck no matter what he did. The indigo lily desperately hoped Apollo would pull him out of this void, unfortunately that angel kept sleeping so elongatedly through the colliding remains of tedious days.

Please help me...

The sudden footsteps echoed from the caliginous hall outside like irregular paces of sluggishly arriving death hit right into his awareness, sounds of determination from those heels stepped harshly onto the white ceramic floor tiles that looked like bars of somber mirrors under the moonlight, shadow reflected on the creamy walls with flowery patterns extended on their lengths in which Apollo liked to track such lines of evenly continued decorations for fun. He forcefully stopped his sentimentality as someone was approaching, and could have attack that person but decided not to after realizing who that was.

"Elendira." The crimson nail.

He voiced out her appellation, how strange that he called her directly like that instead of referring to her tittle. Well, no one was around, and nothing awkward actually mattered within this familiarity between them. He looked up, there were some identifiable droplets falling down on her face blurred by the dark that seemed to get crystallized into liquid pearls within the suffocating density of this morose atmosphere, heavier than water pressure in the bottom of a trench. Was she crying?

Why?

"When Knives... master Knives..." Clytie coughed softly as she added the appellative, secretly she preferred to indicate him intimately by his name. "When he wakes up, please inform that I have to go back to my personal life and can't hang around as often as before, if not seldom from now on."

"You're leaving?"

"Yes, for a long time."

"And let him here unconsciously, in this threatening condition?"

"I'm sorry."

Clytie chuckled in multiple emotions compressing her calmness into a bloody pulp of disappointment, questioning herself where her coolness had gone within this mass of suffocating difficulties in subsistence. Hyacinth would take care of him just fine anyway; Apollo did not indirectly declare that boy to be his most favourite out of no contemplation.

"Good bye."

Her final words were as light as a breath, and within this vague duskiness, she was gone with no explanation.