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Realm of Hunters

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It happened many years ago, the day that Kurapika had lost his humanity and was turned into an Afflicted. He was with a friend that day, and had momentarily left his village to gather goods from the next town over. The first indication of trouble was so small, so easily ignored, that neither of the boys had paused. It all started with a discarded tunic, then some shoes, then red stains covered the grass. The memory burned his mind, the blood had only saturated his vision, and soon laughter would fill his ears. He could have sworn he had stepped into a nightmare on that day. His little village had caught flame, and a large black cloud loomed overhead. A spider, the cloud had formed into one, a portal to hell beneath. That was when they had been attacked, demons he could not remember the look of had pinned him to the grass, while his friend was thrown from the horse he was on. Their items had been searched through, and their clothes being shredded. No dignity for the boys who then had belonged to the demon’s Paradise.

Kurapika remembered that he had submitted himself to death. He had simply laid still, and he did not move, did not cry, he took the verbal assaults of the demons, and just closed his eyes as his friend had been dragged away. Then, like everything had faded, a warm fire began in his heart, a blazing hand touching his back, smoothing out what remained of his shirt beneath the grip. He had looked up, seeing a teenager looming over him, his dark eyes having stained his vision like black ink. He had to have been only a few years older than himself, yet, he was commanding the demon army, and demanding them to release the younger boy. Kurapika remembered that he had been ten at the time, and yet his life would be changed forever. 

His heart burned like it had that day, now looking at the much bigger and older demon king before him. He had stood, and the ground soon ceased the shaking, and now they were surrounded by confused people, and no one seemed to realize the danger they were all in. Kurapika’s grip had tightened on Gon, who was slumped against him, eyes closed as they had been for so many days. This was the worst case scenario, and he knew that he had to get creative to protect his small friend. So he looked up at the demon king, his eyes a dim red color, “What are you doing here?”

“You sound unhappy to see me.” Chrollo tilted his head at the man, the scent that filled his nose had confirmed many things already, and he had already made up his mind about this interaction, “You have grown so much, Kurta child.” 

Even the man’s voice made Kurapika’s legs tremble, he tried to keep his composure, but it was near impossible to even look at the creature, “No thanks to you. Why are you here?” He again demanded an answer.

“I am here to collect what is mine.” Chrollo muttered, coming closer to the smaller man, cupping his chin with his thumb and finger, making him look him in the eye, “You still have that smell about you. The very same smell that made me bless you. Do you remember your Affliction, my dearest creation? Do you remember my gift?”

Kurapika felt his blood run cold now, despite the fire in his heart, a dizziness filled his mind, the memories dripping out of his mouth, “You took my family away, and then you… bit me so hard. I thought you were going to kill me, but then you stopped. You… made a snake crawl down my throat and into my body.”

“Yes, my blood and soul went into your body, and blessed you with my power.” Chrollo nodded, seeming euphoric while he relived the memory. 

Kurapika’s eyebrows furrowed then, as though he was reminded of what had been going on, “I don’t want to go anywhere with you.” He said, starting to pull himself away, “I am not a demon. I work with the hunters, and I will never forgive you for what you have done to me, or my family!”

Chrollo only smiled, although a sad glint had filled his eyes, “Well, I can be very persuasive. I’m sure your little friend there would not do well if we start fighting over this. Hell, I doubt a lot of these people are prepared for my wraith.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” Kurapika’s eyes narrowed, his voice a growl.

“I certainly would.” The King nodded, holding out one hand towards the man, “So why not stop the violence now, and come home?”

Kurapika glared at him for a long moment. He was deep in thought, knowing very well that his first priority would be Gon’s safety. He was just glad that Chrollo did not assume the child in his arms was the portal summoner. It seemed that despite everything, luck was on Kurapika’s side. So, slowly, the man found one of the nurses, and gave Gon to her, telling her that he had urgent business to attend to, and to let Leorio know that he was going to be fine. Then he returned to the King, a numbness consuming his body as he took the demon’s hand into his own.

With a pleased look, Chrollo held his hand suffocatingly tight, his smile sharp toothed, eyes filled with demonic lust, “Good choice, my dearest Kurta.”

 

 Feitan sat watching Shalnark pace back and forth. The man had always gotten sort of high strung when he had not absorbed emotional energy for a while, and now his stress had mounted thanks to the King’s sudden interest in a rouge Afflicted. Feitan, having been around much longer than Shalnark, had figured out what had been going on long before the other had. He did not voice the situation, as he sort of liked seeing Shalnark struggle, something about it making him smile beneath his cloth mask. After a moment, though, he began to grow annoyed, “Stop. Sit down.” He commanded Shalnark.

Shalnark immediately looked at the smaller man, his leafy eyes filled with obedience as he sat on the bed with the demon, “I’m sorry for being so flustered, Fei, I’m just feeling so uncertain about our King’s little trip. He was about to put you into danger, and that scared me.”

“I know.” Feitan nodded, having already forgiven the other, “He hard to read.” Feitan had told him, “He know what he is doing.”

“I know.” Shalnark sighed, scooting himself closer to the side of the bed that Feitan sat on, now their knees had pressed together, “I know that you’re so strong, but you’re also precious. There’s no reason to throw you into danger for someone so unimportant.”

“He important to King.” Feitan reminded him. 

The Afflicted let out a long sigh, another good point between them. He hated the idea that the King’s sudden interest had been seen as more important than Feitan’s safety, as they all knew that Feitan was just as important as the King himself. It was just that, Feitan being an anomaly, a true born demon King, had decided to step back and allow Chrollo to take over his realm he had been given from birth. They both shared the power, yet, Feitan followed orders like a normal disciple. Sure he was not as powerful as Chrollo, but he certainly had something that other demons did not, nearly pure blood. No one knew where Feitan had come from, unlike a number of the kings, but as he had emerged from Paradise, he was seen as a fallen of sorts. An angel who blessed hell with his presence. He was a mystery to many, and respected by everyone who knew him. Yet, to Shalnark’s dismay, he had submitted himself to Chrollo’s whims. Jealousy would be the chain that held them apart, as Shalnark suspected that he loved the King in some way. That was the only thing that made sense to him.

Feitan’s fingers began to play against the mask that hid his face, his eyes shifting as he spoke, “I… know it hurt. No worry ‘bout it.”

“I’m sorry.” Shalnark told him, watching the smaller demon’s fingers mess with his mask, the purple of his eye had shadowed over it, making the man’s blood again burn with anger, “I just feel like he doesn’t appreciate everything you’ve done for him. I know that you see it differently. You’re so smart, you probably already know everything about the situation, and everything about this Afflicted. I will try to stop myself from questioning you. As your judgement is the best in the realms.”

Feitan finally tugged down his mask, showing the bit of his face he usually hid from the world. He had a normal mouth at first glance, but around the edges were holes where his sharp teeth were easily spotted through his flesh. Injuries that never healed, as he had gotten them likely in childhood. It was painful, and made his appearance a lot less human, his voice more clear now as he freed his face, “You calm. Not think ‘nymore.”

Shalnark saw how he opened his hands, and he knew the permission he had been given. As an Afflicted created by Feitan, he was given the most attention out of the Afflicted in the group. Feitan never made another, he only created Shalnark. So, with a happy sigh, Shalnark laid himself into Feitan’s lap, his head pressed into the warm flesh of his thighs as his clawed hands gently ran over the man’s blonde hair. Feitan, in all of his wisdom, had always known how to make Shalnark feel better. His loving emotions helped to fill Shalnark's hunger. 

 

By the time Leorio had run outside, Kurapika was long gone. The nurse relayed the message she had been given, and gave him Gon, so he could carry him back to the basement to go back into treatment. Killua, who had just been woken by the whole mess, still looked around with wide eyes, a bad feeling rising in his gut as they all went back inside.

The building and everyone inside had made it unscathed. The only thing wrong was the absence of Kurapika. Leorio had only seen him a few minutes before, and now that he was out of sight, he felt like something terrible had happened, and perhaps that terrible thing had forced Kurapika to leave the association without telling anyone. 

No one had answers, and despite how worried Leorio had become, there was little he could do until things settled down. Then, as the day wore on, and both Killua and Leorio sat with Gon, finally something good happened. Gon’s eyes opened, and he moved a bit. Despite the ominous feeling in their stomachs, joyous smiles filled their faces.