People are dying all over London with seemingly nothing to tie them together. Sebastian discovers their suspect is killing demons and their contracts, desperate to eliminate powerful competition and ascend through the ranks in Hell.
Plot to Be Revealed in Time
Evidence missed by the Yard in a case lead Ciel and Sebastian back into the midst of the demon-worshipping cult. They discover the awful truth that not only one branch of the cult exists, but three others that are determined to summon the four crowned princes of Hell.
[i A butler’s day always starts early. But then again, every day felt like an endless cycle of monotony.
Whilst normal days clicked by like clockwork, I craved for the adventures that came with being the guard dog’s servant, for a child is nothing but. I wonder if it pains him to need me, to feel lost without my hand guiding through the darkness though he knows for full well that I am not his friend, I am not his Father... I am simply one Hell of a Butler.]
There was a slight chime as his eyes slid up to glance at the clock on the wall above him. The young Master would be calling for him soon, as predicted by another rather dull day. It had been a while since the Phantomhive successor had taken on a new task and for a moment, the demon wondered if the child was growing soft. There was no room for that. Torture, suffering, anger- all the perfect ingrediants to shaping the perfect delicacy that was the soul. [i Though I am starting to loathe this damn clock.]
Sebastian Michaelis, former hell crawler, placed the vase he was shining down with a gentle thud before promptly turning on his heel. He passed swiftly through the halls, coming into the immaculate kitchen and prepping the afternoon dessert and tea. 3:30pm was the country’s time to pause and appreciate the food and people around them. [i Poor thing, if only the fool’s parents weren’t ashes at his feet.] A smile crossed his lips as he arranged the ceramics and morsels in a picturesque manner before starting for the study.
It was exactly 3:30pm by the time the black clad butler knocked and entered the quiet room. The young lord, Ciel sat hunched over the wooden desk that was far too large for someone of his stature. [#a60233 “Good afternoon young master, I have brought you your afternoon tea and dessert.”] He placed the silver tray down at the edge of the desk, the dish gleaming as if it was art.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/kl2PftZ.jpg]]
[#a60233 “For today's dish, we have an Italian Lemon Semifreddo. An almond sponge cake topping with an airy layer of lemon curd with a caramelized almond and hazelnut finish paired with a Moonlight Earl Gray.”] He pulled away smiling, filled with pride. [#a60233 “Is there anything else I can do for you, my lord? Besides remind you that posture is everything to a growing boy.”]
[h3 +] Days seemed to be melting together for the young Earl, each one before it a repeat of the previous. Wake up, work, eat, sleep. They cycle was dreadfully dull but, as much as he didn't want to add more work to his schedule, hoped an interesting case would fall into his lap. Something to break the boring cycle. He would rather take paperwork over mind-numbing and pointless lessons, though, so he imagined he wasn't [i that] desperate. The last thing he wanted was Sebastian showing up with a stack of books and a ruler.
The mid-afternoon found him working on some company forms, the boy hunched over his desk with the eyepatch off and resting nearby. He was fully aware that he was opening himself up for some smart-assed remark or lecture should the demon enter the room, which he would no doubt do due to the time. [i "Any of the other servants could enter and see your eye....you could forget to grab it during an emergency..."] He could already hear the demon's words in his brain. Whatever, it took some strain off his exposed eye and made paperwork a smidge easier, Sebastian would have to deal with it.
Speak of the devil.
The svelte male entered with tea and snack, setting the perfectly polished tray down on the corner of the stately desk. Ciel kept his eyes on his work, wanting to finish up the paper he was currently working on, until he heard a jab about his posture that he wasn't expecting. Instantly heterochromic eyes lifted to meet crimson ones, matching Sebastian's smile with an unamused look. [+blue "I don't believe I asked for your opinion,"] he huffed, slowly pushing himself to sit up.
Ciel took the tea first, one of his favorite blends, and took a small drink before pulling the cake closer and looking it over. It was perfect, just as everything Sebastian prepared was, but he wasn't going to admit it out loud. Not after that comment. The fork was lifted, slowly pushed into the beautiful confection, before it found its way into the Earl's mouth. It was just as good as it looked.
[+blue "Fetch me another stick of sealing wax from the top shelf,"] he ordered after setting the fork down on the edge of the plate, letting his gaze fall on Sebastian again. [+blue "Unless stretching up that far is too challenging for you; I wouldn't want you to hurt your back in your old, old age."]
The demon relished how it could get under the young master’s skin. One little comment here and a forgotten manner there- it was all in good fun. Pleased to see that Ciel was enjoying the afternoon dish of much labor and love, he pulled the tray back, taking the opportunity to gather up the mail on the corner of the desk to run to post at a later time.
With a jab to the demon’s unfathomable age, Sebastian smiled, touching a hand across his chest. [#a60233 “Of course, my lord.”] He reached back to the orderly bookshelf behind him, taking the wax from a small pile towards the highest shelf. He imagined his master’s height must have been another minor frustration. [#a60233 “You must be in a good mood today, if you’re replying to any letters at all,”] he noted as he set the wax within reach of the Earl’s fingers.
He rounded the desk, effortlessly taking the discarded eye patch and coming up behind the small successor. He pushed aside the monochromatic locks, pulling the patch over the cursed pupil, tying it with a clean knot. [#a60233 “A new case catch your [i eye], perhaps?”] They’d had this conversation many times before and one day, he was going to have to kill some idiot over one of Ciel’s careless mistakes. [i A lesson to be learned, I suppose.]
[h3 +] Sebastian stretched effortlessly to the small arsenal of wax sticks, seeming to randomly pick a color before presenting it to the young master. Red, how fitting for the two of them. It was the color least associated with innocence, perhaps besides black, and was a color Ciel had seen spilled many times: on both others and himself. He chose to leave his own instances buried, only speaking of them if Sebastian brought it up and nearly forced it out of the child. He didn't like to think of his own weaknesses, instead focusing on the power he had and what he could do with it.
The snack was finished before small fingers picked up the rectangle of wax, holding it in one hand as the reached down and opened a drawer on the desk. A small, brass lighter emerged which he used to light a short candle that sat on the corner of his desk. By this time Sebastian had moved behind him, having picked up the discarded eyepatch and placing it back where it belonged: on the earl's face. He sighed a bit at this, turning in his chair to give the demon a displeased look.
[+blue "I took that off for a reason,"] he remarked in the usual, grumpy tone. It was a bit softer when it was only the two of them but still held a bite of authority. He thought about ripping it off to spite the demon but thought better of it, choosing instead to wait until he left if he still felt like removing it. The day wasn't over and he had plenty of other ways to frustrate the older male.
He melted the stick of wax over a letter, watching the red substance drip onto the paper in a large puddle. It reminded him of darker times, watching his own blood and that of others drip to the floor where it collected and stained. As far as he knew, it was still there to this day. Once he had collected enough he pressed the gold signet ring into the substance, leaving it there long enough to set, then pulled his hand away. One down, five more to go. [+blue "It's company forms that I can't afford to leave sit until tomorrow,"] he finally answered, glancing up at Sebastian while pulling a new envelope closer to him so he could start the process over again. [+blue "I still have a pile of invitations I'm neglecting until tomorrow, I've dealt with enough people this week and I don't want to think about adding anymore to that nightmare."]
All of the envelopes were finished which he set aside for Sebastian to collect, then leaned back into his chair. It was interesting timing for the demon to make such a comment as he did anticipate a new case coming, a letter from the Queen addressed it. It seemed to be a promising one, something that would break the monotony of the past couple of days. [+blue "I'm expecting a case file from the Yard to appear before dinner, when it arrives you're to bring it to me immediately...I expect that's in your realm of capabilities."]
The smile crept onto his lips once more as he rounded the large desk, standing respectfully to one side as a butler should. He watched with mild interest as the young Earl sealed the letters with the blood red wax, a color the two of them shared intimately. He chuckled at Ciel’s comment. [#a60233 “Parties are a grave inconvenience to you with your lack of footwork.”]
White gloved fingers gathered the crisp envelopes in a neat pile on the polished silver tray, taking the dirty silverware as well. A new case? It almost made him giddy with anticipation. A new mystery- maybe a murder if they were lucky. [i Oh, how I itch for a taste of violence, if just for a moment...] [#a60233 “You know perfectly well nothing is outside of my capabilities. I will expect the case file and have it ready with the evening roast.”]
Sebastian straightened his posture, taking everything save the tea cup. [#a60233 “Is there anything else you will need before I run the post and start with evening preparations?”] The meal would take up most of his time if he didn’t want Bard to lay a finger but if master Ciel needed anything further, all orders were immediate priority.
[h3 +] The exposed eye narrowed a bit at Sebastian's jab, his arms folding loosely over his chest. Some days he really wished he could leap up and punch the demon in the throat but he knew it would do nothing other than satisfy his urge and give him sore knuckles. The butler would laugh it off which would cause Ciel's irritation to grow higher, therefore accomplishing nothing. He hated that Sebastian had that hold over him but he would deal with it for the power the small earl gained in return. Besides, he had other ways to get under the demon's skin....and he didn't have to lift a finger.
[+blue "I hope you choke on my soul,"] he grumbled a bit, rising from his chair to turn towards the window. Small hands reached out to open it, looking out at the magnificent garden as the afternoon breeze tousled his hair. It was getting pretty warm so the small earl used this time to remove his jacket as well and drape it over the back of his chair. Of course it would return to the petite frame before dinner but right now it wasn't a necessity.
[+blue "You're dismissed."]
((I"m sorry it's so short....I'm not sure what else to write without the case file yet :/))
And with one last bow, the butler left the room without another word. [i Such a child.]
The delivery letters and other tedious tasks were completed in a timely manner, if not completely too soon. The demon found himself idle minded, performing minor chores without thinking to pass the time. There was a knock at that door around 5:30pm where a man in a blue uniform handed over what he suspected to be the details of the case as Master Ciel had expected. He thanked the gentleman and stared at the plain package as he closed the main door. What if he were to take a glance at the contents? He smirked to himself. [i Hrm, what a devious thought.]
Choosing not to anger the young boy today, Sebastian took the parcel to the dining room and put it amongst the evening roast arrangement with a perfect hot tea. The Earl would be arriving shortly and with the tablecloth immaculate and the florals in good taste, the private dinner should be nothing less than perfect. As expected of a Phantomhive butler.
When the young master entered the room, Sebastian bowed in greeting, pulling the chair out and pushed in once he was seated. [#a60233 “The case file as requested,”] he started, gesturing with a gloved hand to the parcel on the left. [#a60233 “Delivered this evening.”]
He took a couple steps back, standing to the side as the Earl picked at his meal, waiting in grave anticipation for his next order of duty.
[h3 +] The afternoon seemed eternally slow, each passing minute feeling more like an hour. The boy had finished all of his important work for the day which left mindless tasks and unimportant party invitations to reject. He decided to kill some of his time by watching Finny outside as he went about his daily chores, trimming the hedges and weeding the garden. He had finally learned what plants to pull and which ones to leave, Sebastian finally deeming him competent enough to complete the task on his own. He had to admit that he did enjoy watching the demon out there, bridge of his nose pinched with his eyes closed, as Finny pulled precious flower after flower only to boot him off the task and finish it himself. That thought brought a small smirk to his lips, Ciel turning after a bit and moving back to his desk. Most of the time, Sebastian was the only competent servant in the house but he knew well why they were there...they weren't terrible at [i everything.]
It took longer than he would have liked for dinner time to finally roll around, the boy pushing himself up from his chair and pulling his jacket back on. He could only imagine the lecture he would receive from the demon should he show up without it, once again being told about proper dinner attire, his status, and how it all mattered. It remained unbuttoned, however, as he didn't have the attention span to attempt to do it correctly. Once it was on he made his way downstairs and to the table where dinner was waiting for him.
Sebastian's meals were always perfect, no matter what he decided to make, and tonight's dinner was no exception. Ciel ate his normal amount, dessert included, before picking up the parcel that was waiting for him patiently to his left. [+blue "I'll take another refill on the tea, you can bring it in to the parlor,"] he informed the demon as his exposed eye remained fixed on the object he held in his hands. It was wrapped in brown paper with twine holding it together, a quick pull at the bow was all it took for the twine to fall and the paper to lay open and reveal its treasure: a flat box. It wasn't normal for cases to come in such fashion, normally it was a simple folder with notes and photographs inside. Either the way they shipped cases had changed or this one was relatively complicated.
Ciel carried the box into the parlor and chose the love seat instead of his normal chair to give him room to spread the file out and look over it more efficiently. The box was quickly opened and inside sat a rather fat file with enough photographs to fill a family album. The content of the pictures was quite graphic, leaving little to the imagination of what happened to these victims nor what the inside of a human being looked like. To normal people these images would be difficult to handle and stomach, he doubted regular police officers could even take something such as this. Luckily for him, he wasn't normal in any stretch of the imagination and saw such things on a daily basis. Small hands sorted through the pictures before picking up the file folder and reading through its contents.
He was right: this case was incredibly complex and could take him weeks to solve it.
First things first, he'd need to investigate the most recent crime scenes and hopefully walk away with some clues that had been missed by the Yard. He glanced over just in time to see Sebastian standing nearby, bringing the refill on his tea as he had asked. [+blue "After nightfall you and I are going to London, to the alleyway at the match factory,"] he informed the demon, reaching down into the box and pulling out the appropriate photographs to the location and handing them to him to view. [+blue "This happened two nights ago and is still closed off to the public. Maybe we'll get lucky."]
The demon performed a mental meditation as he waited for the young master to finish his meal, the boy always testing his level of patience. Once Ciel was finally content, Sebastian followed with the hot water to prepare another cup of tea in the parlor. Purposefully taking his time, he stood at the serving table slowly stirring as the steam curled.
Another minute passed and he gently placed the hot porcelain cup on the small side table, Ciel spoke then.
His eyes fell onto the photos, two gloved fingers taking them to visualize the alley where the young master wished to visit. The match factory, an ugly building but a necessary evil when the city was flooded with addicted smokers.
On the other hand, bodies as mangled, torn and artistic as these weren’t part of the London tourism. This new murderer had a sort of flair that Sebstian hadn’t seen before. He felt himself quiver ever slightly. [i At last.]
The demon placed the photographs back upon the pile, putting a hand across his chest. [#a60233 “Yes, my lord.”]
It took them no time at all to prepare for the journey, as if they were both equally excited, though neither displayed such feelings. Sebastian made sure the rest of the staff were aware of the sudden extended trip, emphasizing that the house should remain in the condition in which he was leaving it. Though the odd trio had their faults, he knew well that no one else would step foot on this property with his capable staff.
A light drizzle had begun as they were filing into the Phantomhive carriage, the dew settling into his hair. Once they started moving, the butler raised his eyes and smiled. [#a60233 “Do tell what the Queen’s dog expects to find at this hour in an alleyway?”] Surely it was unlikely there was another body and he was also sure that this alley was no different than others before it. Whether there was nothing at all, it was always worth it to get under the young master’s skin.
[h3 +] Ciel continued to study the case file as the butler left to prepare the carriage for their trip as well as secure the manor and brief the others. This was by far the most complicated case he had been assigned, not only taking him across the entire city of London but forcing him to look to many walks of life. There seemed to be no discrimination in these murders as victims ranged from children to adult as well as varying status. Ciel wanted to lay blame on some kind of mentally diseased person simply slaying anyone he could get his hands on but he knew better than that...the kills were quite strategic. Whoever was responsible were killing their victims (quite brutally and slowly) in closed off and less populated places; this kept him from easy view of the public so his work wouldn't be discovered until it had long been finished. Not to mention some kind of crazed, random killer would have been caught by now.
He continued to study the file and photographs until Sebastian returned and announced that they were ready to leave, the boy packing up the box and carrying it with him to the entryway. Quickly his light coat was pulled on to ensure he would stay warm during the night hours before he and his butler entered the carriage to begin their journey. The exposed eye flickered up to Sebastian as he asked his question, Ciel leaning back into the cushioned seat and folding his arms lightly over his chest. [+blue "The alley is still closed off until tomorrow, I'm sure there are pieces of this case the idiots in the Yard failed to account for. Seeing as this is the most complex case I've gotten, I need to gather any leads that I can. Although, if I can't, this may be an opportunity for you to finally impress me. Your skills have been substandard lately."]
The small earl stepped out of the carriage with an unlit lantern once it finally stopped, blinking a bit at the light rain that fell around him. It had picked up a bit since they had left the manor but wasn't enough to deter the boy from accomplishing his work. He simply pulled his coat around him more as he made his way to the alley and kept himself alert. A couple of late-night drunks still roamed the streets and seemed to be intrigued by the pair and their fancy carriage, Ciel certain that any dark looks from Sebastian would be enough to scare them off. He continued to the alley and finally lit the small lantern he carried to give himself some light, the exposed eye looking around the roped off area.
While there was no body at the scene the evidence of what had happened to it still remained. Blood stained the cobblestones in quite a large area, the dark color staining the walls nearby as well and reached several feet above the earl's head. He didn't notice signs of a struggle in this area, whatever happened here was quick and brutal. The far side of the alley, however, told a different story. Signs of a fire, a small and contained one, were evident on the bricks of the wall as well as the cobblestones, claw marks ran through the soot. A different type of dark liquid was sprayed in a similar fashion to the blood but this was different: it seemed....thicker somehow. He moved closer, pulling a glove off as he knelt and placed a fingertip into the strange substance to roll in his fingers afterwards. It didn't have the consistency of human blood, either, as this seemed much more thick and still wet. He stayed in his low position as he looked around the alleyway again before his gaze stopped on the dried blood once more.
[+blue "Whatever happened on the far end was quick as it lacks the evidence of a struggle,"] he commented, almost as if thinking aloud. [+blue "That's not the case here, not with soot and this strange substance. There could possibly be two victims but the Undertaker only had one; it seems to be a theme with the other cases, too."]
Sebastian’s smile widened at Ciel’s coy and devious nature. Of course his young charge would prefer to always take the illegal route to a case and use the demon’s special set of skills to his advantage as well.
He pulled his black gloves tight as the carriage came to a halt just a block from the alley in question. The rain had picked up since their departure but nothing ever deterred the young Earl. A trait he greatly admired.
Sebastian played his part of body guard as they walked the short way to the roped alley eyeing the drunks and homeless as they passed. London was a blemish on the country that so many mortals were willing to fight and die for. In most cases, mostly die. It tickled him how ugly humans could be to each other and knew most faces would be seen in hell by his fellow brethren.
Ciel lit the lantern, illuminating the cobblestone and brick walls. As expected, there were no bodies or substantial evidence anywhere. Stains of blood giving the dreary way a pop of color. He sniffed. [i Old and sour. A drinker.] Further down the way was a spot of soot and a thick black ooze slowly weaving its way towards the sewer grate. He sniffed again. [i Older and potently wretched.] He recognized the smell instantly.
The demon frowned, his eyebrows arching in annoyance. [#a60233 “That’s because there wouldn’t be a body left to see.”] He walked over, stomping his boot into the black mush that was gradually being washed away. [#a60233 “This is the result of a fool. The remnants of a demon once it’s been decapitated and dealt so. A ritual that very little humans know of.”]
[i Disgusting and embarrassing. How could a demon find himself in such a vulnerable position in a place like this?] Sebastian studied the walls now, ever too weary of his own stance and soul to protect. His kind was perceptive, cunning. Being caught by surprise by a mortal would be rare with their heightened senses. [i Was... was this...]
His glowing eyes fell on the blood at the other end of the alley. [i Was this... it’s charge?]
The remnants of….a demon? The exposed eye moved back towards the dark, thick substance to his side as he slowly rose to stand. If he didn’t know better he would have accused Sebastian oif making a dark joke; the irritated look on his face and the slightly concerned tone he took immediately told Ciel that the male was serious and that this case just became a thousand times more difficult. Whoever they were after had quite a bit of knowledge of supernatural affairs and could likely take them both out of the picture if they wanted to. Perhaps it was best for the time being for the boy to believe that he had the smartest and strongest demon available, too much time pondering otherwise during this outing could be problematic.
Ciel’s gaze seemed to follow Sebastian’s as it shifted to the dark red color on the far end of the alley. If this was a demon then this stain could very well be it’s charge, a though that caused a chill to run up the boy’s spine. Cases didn’t typically make him feel anything other than sleepy and irritated but this one had let a bit of worry set in. If their culprit could destroy a demon then a human would be no problem at all. Small arms folded tightly over his chest, the faint heat from the lantern able to be felt on his skin as it was brought closer.
[+blue “The body was unrecognizable, it had to be identified through dental records,”] Ciel informed his butler as his gaze remained locked on the crimson stain for the moment. [+blue “It was a common trait among all the case files, actually. No human could have done this, no matter how dark their soul had become. This has to be something from your neck of the woods.”]
Another chill crept through the small body with a shudder to match as the rain picked up again, thoroughly drenching him and his butler. His frame didn’t budge though, his only movement for a while was blinking away the rain as it ran down his face. The downpour seemed to be taking care of the clean up, washing away the last bit of the demon and its potential charge. Was this a fate that he and Sebastian would see? Would another pair of investigators be staring at what little remained of them while trying to piece the entire case together? He refused to accept that, he didn’t fight his way through hell to only come this far.
[+blue “Let’s make our way back home, I don’t think there’s anything left to find here,”] he informed Sebastian as his arms unfolded. One hand continued to hold the lantern as the other pulled his coat tighter around his body. It didn’t completely fight the chill but it kept him warm enough. [+blue “Start looking into this as soon as we return, with any luck we’ll have this sorted out before this thing sets its sights on us.”]
[i Unrecognizable indeed.] Faceless humans shredded into sloppy gore and brushed along filthy alleys and the like. He agreed with Ciel. Even a deranged mortal wouldn’t be able to accomplish this much articulate homicide without being caught. It would take too much time. But... he didn’t want to jump to conclusions that it was another devil.
Demons may not have liked each other, but they had a mutual respect for one another's property. No devil in their right mind would welcome that kind of travesty.
As the rain steadily increased, Sebastian watched the young earl as he stared at the cobblestone, the last of the evidence slowly being washed into the gutters. After a minute longer, Ciel finally announced the end of the late night investigation and the butler escorted his charge back to the paused carriage. The new order was utterly refreshing and gave him more freedom than Ciel probably intended. Freedom to leave and be as he were if only for a few hours. A creature of darkness.
The demon ran his fingers through his damp hair and tended to his master's soaking coat. That would certainly need hours to dry before he could press. A frown etched into his features all the way back to Phantomhive Manor. This time he held an umbrella all the way to the grand parlor to minimize any further damage to the attire.
[#a60233 “Would you like a spot of tea before turning in for the night?”] The butler shrugged off his coat and hung it stiffly on the hall hanger. He hoped Ciel would at least let them proceed with their nightly routine. It brought him a twisted sort of... comfort. [i A sentiment if I were wise, I should sever.]
Ciel climbed back into the carriage, followed shortly after by Sebastian, his gaze remaining fixed on the outside world as the pair traveled back home. Many questions crossed his mind but the most prevalent was what his next move would be. There were many options in front of him, not all wise or efficient, even less were ones that the demon would even entertain. He needed to study the case file a bit more before making a solid decision about his next move. He sighed a bit at that thought, shifting a bit in the seat, and allowed his gaze to shift over to Sebastian. The demon seemed upset….no….[i irritated]. Irritated at what? The case? His workload? The realization that his contract was becoming more work than he anticipated? That last thought brought a faint smile to the boy’s lips, deep down hoping that was what it was. Sebastian could use a bit of suffering.
Once the master and butler had reached the manor and found their way inside, Ciel shrugged off the soaking wet jacket and handed it to Sebastian to take care of. Retire already? A quick glance to the grandfather clock nearby told him that it was well past his bedtime but he wasn’t sure if he could. How could anyone think of sleeping when there was so much to do? Ciel was fully aware of the schedule that Sebastian liked to keep; if the boy didn’t retire voluntarily then his butler would use force. Tea did sound lovely, however, and perhaps he could get in a few minutes of studying while it was brewing.
[+blue “Very well,”] he answered, picking up the box that held the case file once his jacket was out of his hands. [+blue “I’ll take it up in my bedchamber.”] With that, he left the demon to fulfill his duties while Ciel made his way upstairs to his room. The fireplace was already warmly lit, filling the area with much needed heat and light. Finny must’ve taken it upon himself, one accomplishment of the gardener that the boy couldn’t complain about. Ciel knelt down nearby, opening the box to take out the photographs, then carefully laying them out in front of him. Careful inspection of them revealed that most shared the same black sludge and hard to identify human remains. That was the only constant, each scene held a multitude of differences from the previous or the next. If Sebastian was right about this black substance then he could only conclude…
Ciel’s eyes narrowed a bit at the photographs around him at his realization: all of these kills were of contracted pairs. If whatever this was could eliminate so many demons then how did he and Sebastian stand a chance? What about these pairs was so alluring to this murderer that he wanted so many out of the picture? This case kept getting more complicated by the minute, something the boy didn’t really appreciate. Sure, he enjoyed a challenge but this far exceeded those expectations. Such a problem would take longer than he liked to solve.
His gaze shifted as Sebastian entered with the promised tea, letting a tired sigh fall from his chest. [+blue “I don’t suppose you have an idea on where to start with this nightmare, do you?”] he asked a bit dryly, taking the cup once it was offered to him. If the butler had no answer, he may be awake later than he wished trying to come up with an answer.
He let that twisted relief wash over him. Splendid. After a carriage ride and walk through the rain, a spot of tea warmed the bones and calmed the mind. There would be plenty of time to ponder the what-if’s of the case especially when one never slept. Little moments like these kept the butler functioning without going utterly insane. The amount of time this bloody contract was taking was ridiculous.
As Ciel made his way up to his bedchamber, Sebastian turned towards the kitchen. The room was spotless and had to give recognition to Bard on a job well done. He put on a kettle and prepped a tray with a small cream and sugar complimented with a couple of mint truffles. He used a dark china set feeling it was only appropriate for the mood.
Once all preparations were completed and he had put soaked garments out to dry, Sebastian took to the stairs and appeared to the young earl close to the fireplace. His charge looked tired, irritated as he looked up from the scattered photographs. The demon placed the silver tray down on the bedside table and poured the boiled water.
[#a60233 “My thoughts on where to start are only limited to protecting my contract.”] White gloves passed Ciel the tea cup. [#a60233 “Lavender and chamomile.”]
Sebastian straightened his posture and attended to the tied curtains. [#a60233 “If there is someone targeting contracted pairs, then I deem it unwise to leave you alone even in the manor. We would need to investigate together less we taken by surprise.”] And the devil knows how much he really needed to eat Ciel’s soul.
[#a60233 “Perhaps,”] he smiled, [#a60233 “If the young master wasn’t so small, we’d be in a more favorable position.”] He closed the remaining curtains. [#a60233 “If we were so lucky, the killer might just find us.”]
Sebastian felt a tinge of bloodlust at the thought of killing someone again but... maybe it was more than just a human killing demons. [#a60233 “Perhaps a pair?”] he thought aloud.
Ciel frowned as he looked back down at the photographs, holding the teacup in his hands instead of drinking the contents inside it. Being forced to spend every moment of this case with the demon nearby wasn’t an idea he was particularly fond of though he could understand its need. Just because he didn’t have photographic evidence of contracted pairs slaughtered in different places didn’t mean that it didn’t exist; without Sebastian in the immediate proximity he could be gravely injured. The boy knew full well that his butler wasn’t willing to risk his meal in such a manner so it unfortunately seemed that the two would be spending even more quality time together.
A small hand lifted and pulled the eyepatch down around his neck, blinking the uncovered eye a couple of times before turning the heterochromic gaze onto Sebastian. [+blue “And how on earth do you plan to get the grocery order fulfilled, or anything else the manor may need, if I have to constantly be at your side?”] he grumbled before taking a small drink of the warm liquid. It was relaxing, especially after being in such cold and damp weather. [+blue “The last time you let the other staff attend to it they purchased so many potatoes that we were all eating them for two months straight. If something similar were to happen again because you feel that I need to be babysat, I promise you that you’ll eating these meals as well. For your sake I hope it’s something that you’re able to stomach.”]
The small earl finished the rest of his tea, setting it nearby before looking down at the scattered photographs once more. It were as if the victims wanted to tell him the important details of what happened to them but were unable to find the words. He still didn’t have much to go on so solving this case was next to impossible. Ciel hated cases like these where he was forced to rely solely on the talents of his butler for a while. It made him feel useless, helpless. It also didn’t help that the demon was teasing him about his height….again. After a long minute, Ciel rose to his feet and gave the taller male a displeased look before moving over to his bed and shrugging out of his day coat. [+blue “Such opinions coming from one so old as yourself…be careful, I hear the mind begins to deteriorate after fifty.”] He finished disrobing and changing with Sebastian’s aid before crawling into the large bed and shifting under the heavy blankets. The demon had some solid points, things he couldn’t stop thinking about. A pair of killers was certainly possible as well, but were they a different contracted pair or two humans or two demons? They could even be reapers. He felt another long night coming, a thought that made the frown deepen a little as he buried into the pillow more. If that were the case then Sebastian may continue to check on his charge and state his dissatisfaction if Ciel continued to remain awake. A soft sigh fell from his chest, pulling the blanket up a little more and closing his eyes.
[+blue “Investigate the file, see what you can come up with on your own,”] he ordered quietly. [+blue “I expect you can find us something to work with by morning.”]
The demon closed his eyes and focused on controlling the slight bit of annoyance that arose from Ciel’s words. Of course the young master would rather have him focusing on the mundane and god forbid the [i groceries] not be handled by the other staff. While Sebastian fully understood the lack of trust in those mundane tasks to this particular chosen staff, sometimes... He’d rather choose to clean up the mess then miss a more brain stimulating activity.
The inner darkness writhed within him at the mention of other meals. Sure, they would suffice but a contract was a contract. It was a blood written curse that he would never be fulfilled till he had devoured the young earl’s soul. Despite the child being wise beyond his years, he had such torturously childlike thoughts.
A smile was the only acknowledgment Sebastian spared to the returned quip before he aided young Ciel in the evening ritual of downdressing. Every garment was neatly placed in a pile to wash and soon his charge was underneath the heavy blankets.
With one last order, Ciel turned his face away, giving him all the indication he needed to know that he would rather be alone. He shuffled the photographs back into the manilla pouch and with a small bow, departed the room. [#a60233 “Yes, my lord.”]
The hours dragged by even after he had finished all the evening cleaning duties. The clothes were pressed, the kitchen ready for morning breakfast... Then Sebastian found himself lining the photographs on a long table, looking at every one in bloody sequence. They all depicted the same, no traces of bodies and demon blood spilled artfully. They all took place in London- though one just outside of Watford- but from the first killing, the [i origin] if you will, it spread like a fan. Outward until circling back just close enough to Phantomhive Manor to make the demon nervous.
Dawn had barely broken when Sebastian called the Phantomhive staff to a meeting. The trio of unclassified housekeepers stood at attention as the demon explained in the vaguest of details their current situation. [#a60233 “We are in need of increased security. How you come up with that is up to you but I’m going to propose leaving the manor with the young master. Do not let me down.”]
[b “R’ght. You h’rd ‘im. We must keep the man’r safe,”] Bard announced, rushing the other two out the room.
Sebastian tightened his gloves with a sigh and gathered the tray with the morning’s tea and breakfast. This was going to take some convincing and his young change wasn’t going to be pleased with his decision.
He knocked lightly before entering the dimly lit room. Setting the tray, he opened the curtains and smiled as the young one stirred. [#a60233 “Good Morning, my lord.”] he placed a small wooden stand on the bed and the tray with breakfast. [#a60233 “Today we have an indian black tea with cream and an oiled basil pasta with a sunnyside egg.”] Beside the dish was the morning’s paper.
[#a60233 “I do have your update regarding the case when you are ready.”]
Ciel listened silently as Sebastian obeyed his final order and gathered up the photographs and file before leaving the room. The only sounds that remained after were the steady breaths from the young earl and the crackling of the fire across the room, the emptiness giving his mind freedom to drift. It didn’t veer towards sleep, at least not right away, but instead focused on the impossible case that seemed to grow larger with each passing hour. It frustrated him that he couldn’t think of an easy answer since most of his cases could be solved within a couple of days. This one was just far too immense for that. He let a heavy sigh fall from his chest before he turned onto his other side and stared at the closed curtains.
If the pair couldn’t solve it in a timely manner, then what were they to do? What kind of repercussions would they face? Surely Sebastian could come up with some kind of lead but how far would it take them? If they were right and at least one demon was involved, would his butler be able to take it down or would Ciel end up in that case file as somebody else’s problem? These were some of the thoughts that plagued him as the night hours ticked away; sometime late into the night the boy was able to quiet them at least enough to fall into a light sleep. He stayed that way until the demon entered and ripped open the curtains, allowing morning light to burst into the room.
Ciel groaned at this awakening, choosing to pull the blanket over his head in response at first. It was far too early and not enough sleep had been had. He stayed that way for a few minutes as Sebastian informed the boy of what had been prepared for breakfast, Ciel finally deciding it best to greet the day with a less-than-enthusiastic attitude. A small hand picked up the china teacup, glancing down at the dark liquid in it before taking a small drink. It was acceptable, prepared the way he liked it. Heterochromic eyes shifted up towards the demon, though, before he began with the rest of his breakfast as the male’s words piqued his interest. An update may mean that Sebastian had an idea on how to get ahead of the game.
[+blue “What have you discovered?”] Ciel answered a bit quietly, unable to hide some of the exhaustion from his voice. He was certain his butler would pick up on it and give him some smart-assed remark, at which point the cup in his hands would be hurled at the butler’s face.
The demon frowned as he tied the curtains, looking out the window for any suspicious characters but the only odd thing out there was Finny running with some kind of hose. Dismissing it as part of their ‘grand plan’, he turned back to the young Earl hoping his exhaustion wouldn't temper him into a sour mood at the proposal.
[#a60233 “In my research overlooking the photographs and files, I have determined that it would be ignorant of us to assume anything is at random.”] Sebastian began to choose today’s garments from the closet, all the way down to the shoes. [#a60233 “They are in a delicate pattern, the locations of the murders, convincing me that [i he] or [i they] likely know where we live.”] He made eye contact with the boy. [#a60233 “I am sure we’ll be next if not very soon.”]
He laid the outfit gently across the end of the bed till Ciel had finished his breakfast. [#a60233 “I suggest we leave as soon as possible. I have already informed our staff to keep the manor protected but you must understand that I will not risk the soul of my charge to some deranged lunatic.”]
Sebastian tightened his gloves, waiting for the young master to either throw a fit or simply understand the logic. It would be easier to keep a low profile if they weren’t surrounded by a million euro mansion and the demon wouldn’t have to be bothered with mediocre tasks like [i groceries.] He fought the urge to wrinkle his nose in disgust. No, he still wasn’t over that.
Ciel slowly drank the rest of his tea, sitting the empty cup down as he watched Sebastian approach his wardrobe and carefully select an outfit and the frills that would go along with it. He could understand the point his demon was trying to make and could see the danger they could have themselves in soon, if they weren’t in it already. But was it enough to leave his comfortable home? On one hand he had enough faith in his butler that he could keep him safe should trouble arise as he had done so faithfully the past three years of their contract. Many nightmares had been overcome together and would continue to do so. On the opposite side, however, Ciel recognized the real danger they could both be in. He had spent hours studying those photographs and knew they both ran a high risk of being in that file themselves. How many other contracted pairs had thought the same way only to end up slaughtered?
Heterochromic eyes continued to observe Sebastian in silence as an outfit was laid out on the edge of the bed, Ciel waiting to give an answer just yet and hoping he was chiseling away a bit at his patience. A simpler outfit had been chosen, most likely a bribe to pull the boy closer to the demon’s side of reasoning, it was one of his more comfortable sets of noble clothing without as many ribbons and lace to constrict his movement as the others. He slowly stood, allowing Sebastian to dress him for the day, before pulling the eyepatch on and looking towards the large windows.
[+blue “Your selection of words gives me the impression that I don’t have much of a choice in the matter,”] he finally answered, small arms folding over his chest. [+blue “If we’re truly next then I assume they’ve done their research on the both of us; any properties that I own are common knowledge so they’ll be out of the question. I trust you have a place for us to go, if not then I’m sure you’ll find one soon.”] He moved back towards his nightstand, picking up both rings and sliding them on slowly. [+blue “I’m not pleased with the idea but I’ll entertain it for now. Have us ready to leave by noon.”]
Ciel left the room, making his way to his study and walking around the stately desk to the chair. Once seated he pulled the case file closer to the edge and decided to give the notes another look. He was still a bit tired but perhaps he could find something he had missed before. If not, it would give him something to do until Sebastian announced that they were ready for departure.
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