Dilandau makes a deal with the Grim Reaper as he lies dying, but what he agrees to do turnsout to be a little more difficult than he thought.
Title: Thoughts in Ink
AN: This chapter jumps forward a little, about seven months since last chapter and 16 months since the first chapter, Sorry for not making it very clear in earlier chapters. A lot of OOC, that's just my POV on the subject.
I don't own Escaflowne, but Chid's advisors are mine.
Chid was pacing in his room, Dilandau watching the young child go from one side of the room and back again, over and over. While he knew why Chid was pacing he didn't show his nervousness. Being able to feel Chid's emotions was enough for him.
After their chat that night in the abandoned training hall they had had many more, each time learning more and more about each other. Dilandau was given a place to sleep in Chid's room next to his bed. While he had to sleep on the floor, Dilandau didn't mind, having slept on much worse things then an overly soft, large rug and equally soft pillows and blankets. The two had come to trust each other. Dilandau kept a watchful eye on Chid and would tell him about things going on around the palace that escaped Chid attention or things Chid's advisors neglected to mention.
Although suspicions arose that a ghost was hunting the castle, Dilandau remained, for the most part, undetected. The task of hiding was going to become much more difficult in the coming future. Chid's birthday was in two weeks and while a special occasion on its own the added stress of his officially assuming the role of Duke of Freid on that day presented more problems. The servants in the palace were erratic and therefore unpredictable. This kept Dilandau in the room most of the time during the day. Also certain guests like Van and Allen would be in attendance and staying in the same wing as Chid. While Dilandau didn't bare a grudge against either man, it would make even night patrols around the palace difficult.
"How are we going to solve this problem? If they see you I don't think they'll believe you're a ghost. They'll recognize you on site." Chid rambled, not really talking to Dilandau. "And what am I going to do about Eldon and Subos. I know they're up to something, but if you can't find out than I'm not going to know until they want me to know."
"Chid, you're going to be either bald or gray before your 20 at the rate your going...You need to relax a little...your making me feel nervous."
"Sorry...It's just a stressful time for me right now...I haven't seen their "little pets" in a week...I just want everything to go smoothly. Rone hasn't seen them lately either and I'm worried about this group of bandits he told me about. He tells me they have destroyed almost every village in the area and I worried they will try and attack during the ceremony."
He stresses far too much for a kid his age... "They've only hit the villages...and the reports say it's a small group, only three or four guys. They would only be a threat to Freid if they had any advanced weaponry...and according to the reports they don't have any." Dilandau really didn't know where that statement came from. He knew from experience that if one was going to attack a greater enemy then you do it while they have their pants down, so to speak. But Dilandau needed Chid to be calm and not add fuel to the fire. Looking to the sky and determining it was late morning, Dilandau reminded Chid of the time. "Don't you have somewhere to be...?"
"Oh no...I was supposed to be in Court half an hour ago..." Grabbing his things and making himself look presentable he rushed out the door and out of site.
Dilandau moved and sat next to the bed on his rug and pulled out a notebook and some pencils. When Chid learned of his skill for drawing he insisted on giving Dilandau plenty of supplies for him to use. As he thumbed through the used pieces of paper he stopped at his latest projects, the floor-planes of the palace. He had begun them a couple weeks ago, when he first learned of the upcoming event. He was determined to find a way to move through the castle without notice even if there was going to be added security. Staring at the pictures he began to go over the possible options.
It was two days till the ceremony and the last of the guests were arriving. Dilandau watched from a small hallway hidden in the walls as Allen and Van stepped off the Crusades followed by their own guards. Once on the ground they were led to the throne room while their luggage was moved to their rooms. Dilandau could follow them mostly through the castle by way of the small hallways. The throne room was impressive. The ruler who had had the place built must have been a security nut, because, not only did every major room have a secret door to the network of hallways, there was a hidden catwalk above the throne room.
The hallways may have been tight, but they were very easy to navigate. Dilandau had stumbled upon them while looking for ways to avoid the guards when he fell into a hole that was in the back of a statue. Almost all the hallways lead to one of four places: The catwalk he was on now, the abandoned training hall, the hanger, or the "master bedroom," which was Chid's room. The ladders that lead to the catwalk were hidden behind the tapestries that hung on the walls of the throne room.
Once he had found his way through the hallways he watched as Van and Allen were given a proper introduction to the Court and then they were escorted to their rooms where they could eat, rest and clean up for the banquet later that evening. Feeling there was little need for him to watch as Chid listened to his Court complain about this or that he made his way towards the "royal wing" to see what the latest guests were doing.
Dilandau found Van and Allen in the study having lunch. Dilandau could see Van had grown a lot since he had last seen him. He had kept his hair the same, but he was more built now. He seemed to carry himself more like a king than an angry young teen. He could see that he had lost much of his boyish features and the wrinkles around his eyes and on his forehead made him look years older than he should look.
Allen on the other hand looked almost the exact same as when he last saw him. The biggest change was his shorter hair. While his hair was still long for a guy it only hung to mid back now, and he wore it back in a low ponytail.
As the two chatted, unaware of their spectator, Allen pulled out a stained notebook and placed it on the table in front of him. Dilandau really hadn't been paying attention to what the two were discussing until he caught sight of the familiar object, his journal.
How did he get a hold of my journal.../Dilandau thought, suddenly feeling very self-conscious. Dilandau watched as Allen started flipping thru the pages only stopping at the sketches of the people he had drew in them. Dilandau began to hug himself and rub his arms trying to feel less naked even though he was fully clothed. Unable to continue to watch Allen's face as he studied the pictures, Dilandau decided to return to watching over Chid completely missing the conversation that followed. /I'll have to get that back, I don't want everyone in Gaia reading my journal.
"You're still reading though that journal, Allen?" Van asked puzzled as to what in that book kept Allen's interest peaked.
"I haven't really read through the whole thing... the first entry still gives me the creeps, but it does explain a lot about him. I can understand why he wanted to kill you so bad after you killed his troops."
"What does he say about me in there...nothing good I bet...?"
"I really don't know...I haven't read anything that really talks about you...he had a lot more on his mind. He talks about Folken in here more than you though...and he sketched a picture of you in here to." Allen stated holding the journal up for Van to see. Van was expecting to see a picture showing him dead, missing limbs, his head, or anything that would be insulting to him, but to his surprise it wasn't. The sketch was of him in a fighting stance, facing an invisible enemy on an invisible battlefield. The feel of the picture wasn't at all insulting. The picture was drawn rather well and the artist made the picture radiate courage, honor, and even respect. Art scholars believe that artists don't just draw what is there, they draw what they perceive, their point of view.
Van was studying the picture so intently he was startled when Allen closed the book and set it back down on the table. "I've only read the first few entries...It gets too disturbing...I would have never thought Zaibach capable of half the things he describes in that journal. It's no wonder he was insane. If you want you are more than welcome to read it." Allen suggested pushing the book to Van. "He was a lot more than the killer we thought he was."
Van took the book and turned it over in his hands unsure if he really wanted to look inside the mind of Dilandau. Opening the book Van decided to skim through the entries. The first was the longest, several pages in fact, but after that they became a more reasonable length. Dilandau did have a knack for drawing. He looked at the first picture drawn in the book. It was of several boys, a name labeling each sketch. After a moment Van realized these were the soldiers he killed, Dilandau's Slayers. It made him feel guilty knowing that each one was know older that himself. It made him wonder what would have happened to them if they had survived that battle.
"Van," Allen called. "We should start getting ready for the banquet tonight and I want to get some unpacking done before nightfall." Allen did have a point, after the banquet they would most likely be too tired to unpack afterward.
"Alright Allen..." Van agreed and the two left the room leaving the servants to pick-up after lunch, Allen did, however, grab Dilandau's journal on the way out.
For Dilandau the remainder of court was very boring, having to listen to people complain about this and that, he didn't know how Chid could stay awake. He did catch Chid's head droop once or twice, but he managed to stay awake. Dilandau met back up with Chid that evening before the banquet poking fun at him for almost falling asleep on his throne. The jokes failed to hide his nervousness, and Chid wanted to know why. "What's got you so edgy?" He asked getting right to point.
"I went to check up on our new guests and I found out something that I hadn't expected to." While Dilandau was very blunt and to the point, his description was very vague. Not something Dilandau did often.
"So...What did you find out?"
Dilandau hesitated, not really sure of how to word his answer. "Before I "died" I kept a journal. I started it to help me cope with my slayers death. Allen has come into passion of my journal."
"You're worried about someone reading a silly journal?" Chid joked.
"It's not funny. I wrote things in there that I would never share with anyone. It just makes me feel...naked...knowing that Allen and Van know everything there is to know about me."
"If anything having proof that you can experience emotion makes you more of a person than the monster everyone thought you were." Listening to Chid, Dilandau began to feel very stupid. The child had a gift for explaining things in a very wise manner and made the listener feel as though he was in the presences of an elder.
Taking a few moments to let the words sink in Dilandau sat down on the floor and began to think. "I still want it back. There are a few sketches that mean a lot to me in it. And I don't want anyone else getting a hold of it." Dilandau's words held a possessive tone in it that Chid found a little odd, but he really didn't blame him. Chid wouldn't want anyone reading his journals either.
The hall was a light with the torches that hung on the walls and the several candles that sat on the table. The sound of voices carried around the room, echoing off the walls. Chid sat at the head of the long table in a high-backed chair. Van and Allen sat to his left and right respectively and his advisors sat on the other end of the table, their assistants filling the spaces in-between.
"Van, how have the plans for Fanaila been going?" Chid asked turning to look at him to his left.
"We have already started to build the outer walls since nothing else can be done until it's built - too many dragons in the area. We won't actually start building the city until next spring."
"Van has every available carpenter in Astoria at his disposal courtesy of the Queen. I hope he gets it's done soon, I 'm the one that has to put up with him and while I'm in the city." Van shot a look across the table at Allen for that comment, but grinned, not really upset over it. The Queen gave Van a room in the castle and many of the survivors of the attack were living in shelters in Astoria.
"I heard the city was completely destroyed? Was there really nothing left?" Chid asked not really sure if Van was comfortable speaking on the subject. If Van was uncomfortable with the subject he hid it well.
"Not really the entire city. There was a lot of fire damage so most roofs were gone, but much of the palace and the graves behind it were untouched, stone doesn't really burn well."
"So, are you looking forward to the celebrations? It will be your birthday after all.."
"What do you think Allen? I won't have a moment to myself and I'm going to be so busy I doubt I'll have time to think for myself."
"That's true" Van commented. "I've been there I doubt your will be as exciting as mine was though." The three chuckled at the statement paying no mind to any of Chid's advisors at the other end of the table.
Eldon and Subos whispered back and forth to each other as Rone attempted to discretely listen to what they were saying, not being able to pick up much. He was much younger than the other two having been hired just before the former Duke was killed. Unlike the other two he supported Chid and tried to help him anyway he could. If that meant eavesdropping on his elder peers he would do it. The two were so into their own conversation they didn't notice that their voices had gradually risen above the whisper they started in. "I put it in with my scrolls..." Subos was saying.
"Are you sure it's enough?", "By law it is...And with him here there is no way to deny it!" Rone quickly made a comment to Chid's conversation to avoid Subos quick glance up, realizing that his voice had gotten so loud. Satisfied no one was paying attention to what he had said they continued their private conversation.
Dilandau was a little frustrated having not been able to find his journal in Vans room. So here he was sneaking into Allen room. Allen carried as much junk traveling as any woman. He had an entire suitcase full of nothing but hair care stuff, another for his cloths and the largest was for his books. He had a lot of them. Dilandau eventually got tired of pulling each book out separately and just dumped the entire thing out on the floor. He was disappointed not to find it lying amongst the others. He had searched Van and Allen's rooms top to bottom and not found it. Would he have left it in the library? Or is he carrying it around with him. Dilandau thought mildly irradiated. So much he didn't hear the footsteps coming down the hallway until they stopped just before the door. Not really thinking about what he was doing he raced out onto the balcony and began climbing to roof. He needed to get back to Chid's room and it was on the opposite side of the hallway therefore the other side of the building.
Allen, Van, and Chid walked down the hallway towards their respective rooms. Allen's was the last one. When he got closer he noticed his door was open, not remembering leaving it open he quickened his pace. Reaching the doorway he looked in. The room was a mess, and then he spotted a young girl over by the bed. "What have you done to my room?" he questioned her, grabbing her shoulders and turning her around to face him.
"Nothing Sir...It was like this when I came in...I was just turning down you bed for the night." Part way through her answer Van appeared in the door. Waiting for the servant to finish he announced his presences.
"My room was a mess a well Allen." Deciding that something was amiss Allen and Van went to check on Chid. The servant girl spoke up before they left the room.
"Excuse me Sirs..." She waited for their attention before continuing. "Well it was most lightly the ghost Sirs."
"What ghost?" they asked in unison.
"Well mostly it's only been the night staff that see it. They say they have seen a ghost wandering the halls of this wing. Paula said she saw it just the other night, pale it was, she said, white hair and white skin. She told me it had to be some dead soldier, it was wearing black armor she said, but didn't seem to carry any weapon." Hearing enough the two practically ran to Chid's room and began pounding on the door.
When Dilandau reached Chid's balcony he found the door locked. Without much else to do he waited. It wasn't long for Chid to finally enter his room. He pushed the door closed behind him and went to his closet to find something to wear to bed when a rapping on his windows caught his attention. "Dilandau...What are you doing out there, it's not like you to lock yourself out on the balcony?"
"I didn't, I had to make a quick exit from Allen's room and out the window was my only choice."
"I take it you didn't find your journal?"
"No, I checked Van's room too, I suppose he could have left it in the library, but if that were true it would have already been shelved and will take hours for me to find it. Unless he's carrying..." Dilandau's complaining was cut off by a rather loud banging on the door followed by shouts from what sounded like Van and Allen. Dilandau ducked under the bed, the only hiding place in the room, as the door knob started to turn and Van and Allen entered the room, a confused maid in toe.
"Van ...Allen what's going on? Someone attacking the castle and I don't know about it? Really you could have at least waited for me to announce that it was okay for you to come, what if I was in the middle of getting dressed..."
"Van and I are sorry, were just worried. Both are rooms were trashed and I wanted to make sure no one waiting here waiting in here for you."
"Your rooms were trashed? By who?"
It was Van who spoke this time. "A ghost according to..." Looking to the maid.
"...according to Sarah."
"When did the two of you start believing in ghosts?
"I'm not sure there is a ghost yet. But who or what trashed Van rooms and my room was looking for something. I have a feeling it was this." Allen said pulling the journal out of belt (AN: I don't know, just leave it be I don't want to try and explain it). Without giving Allen the opportunity to do anything else Chid reached over and grabbed it from his hands.
"And this book would be..." he questioned flipping through the pages.
"Just a journal"
"If it was really just a journal Allen than I doubt a ghost would be looking for it....So who's journal is it?" Chid had to fight the urge to laugh, he was having so much fun teasing Allen like this. No doubt Dilandau was having a hard time trying to stay quite under the bed as well. Chid stopped at a point in the book and read the name printed inside aloud. "Dilandau?...This journal was Dilandau's. Allen, do I even want to know how you came across this?"
"Allen found it in the guymelf after the last battle," Van interjected, having been quite up until now. Allen mutely nodded. Sarah had left at some point having other beds to turn down.
"Well it is late and I am getting tired. I want to hear more about this in the morning, over breakfast, since it's the only free time I have all day." With that Chid shooed them out of the room and with a quick goodnight he shut the door, locking it behind them. Waiting a few moments to be sure the two were out of hearing range he called out to Dilandau. "They're gone now." At first there wasn't any sound, and then the sound of Dilandau's laughter could be heard, muffled beneath the bed. Crawling out from the bed Dilandau sat on the floor trying to stop laughing, succeeding after a couple tries.
"You just had to tease him didn't you?"
"Of course, by the way here's your journal." The journal was passed to Dilandau's hand and he quickly opened it to check for damages.
"I thought you had given it back to him."
"No, but I don't think he realizes I still have it either. Now hide it or something so when he asks me where it is tomorrow I can honestly say I don't know where." With that Chid continued getting ready for bed. The two finally got to bed, Chid curled up amongst his pillow and blankets, Dilandau curled up with his journal.
AN: I'm going to end the chapter there. It was more challenging to write than I thought it was going to be, but I also wasn't planning for this chapter to be almost four thousand words either. Hope you enjoyed this chapter. Another one to come soon. I hope.