Unnamed Story

BY : Roaming_Firefly
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Yaoi - Male/Male > Sephiroth/Vincent
Dragon prints: 2604
Disclaimer: see full disclaimer below

Author's Notes: Wow, it's really been a year since I posted the first chapter of this story! I initially tried to make this a simple little project, I didn't think it'd get this long! Nor did I think I'd last this long XD I have a lot to thank for all of you who have patiently waited for updates all this time and have given your own time to leave your thoughts and feedback.

Sorry for the slow, slow update :( Work has been...busy... The last weeks before the deadline...are now over. And boy am I glad we got past THAT. Hope the next deadline will be a bit gentler T_T And this chapter too, just kept getting longer and longer and longer, so much so that I had to split it up. So yeah, the ending of this chapter might be a bit awkward XP

Anywho, hope you enjoy~



Chapter 15 - Labyrinth



The results from the 'Duel and Screw' far exceeded expectations. The amount of largesse received averaged at about 8.50 Yem per spectator. Tah'rh had already arranged for a second and third 'Duel and Screw', and from the way the seats were selling, it looked like she might even arrange for a fourth or fifth.

True to her word, the day after they received the sales data, the Archdaemon made special arrangements to dismiss all but the bare minimum of guards around the Central Library and even personally took her slaves there, making up some half-hearted excuse about suddenly wanting to go and read during high noon—the time of day when demons were most inactive, due to the high temperatures from the blazing midday sun.

"You know what, it really wasn't a good idea to come out here at this obscene hour. I'm suddenly unbearably sleepy." said Tah'rh unnecessarily loudly to the library's empty main lobby as she plopped down on one of the couches provided for visitors there, "I think I'll just rest here for two hours, which is when that hand on the clock goes there," she pointed as she dramatically yawned and closed her eyes, "I'll just be here, sleeping, beside these elevators, which leads up to the 6th floor, the floor with the maps and stuff. My slaves will just stay with me this whole time, not doing anything. Certainly nothing like wondering around and reading or anything of the like. And I expect them to be here with me when I wake up in two hours, sharp."

Vincent and Sephiroth eyed the large empty lobby, the silent, unused elevators, and the 'sleeping' Archdaemon, then quietly set to action. It wasn't very hard working out which of the strange symbols on the elevator buttons meant the 6th floor, for only one of them worked. Obviously Tah'rh had already sent word ahead to the library staff, and there was not a soul in sight in the impressive-sized library. But Vincent slipped silently into the shadows anyways. He felt safer, more at ease this way. Who knows what kinds of tricks the Archdaemon might be up to, and even if she wasn't up to anything, who's to say that some other demon didn't just happen to suddenly want to read at noon, and accidentally came upon the Archdaemon's slaves wandering where slaves most obviously should not. Although...it was quite apparent that somebody else didn't share his caution. Just when he was starting to wonder how he was going to find the right shelves in this maze of bookshelves, where all the signs and directions were written in the demons' script, he noticed that there were several large, bright-green paper arrows stuck to various shelves pointing the way. The ex-Turk's raven brows furrowed as he gingerly followed the overly-conspicuous directions.

Sephiroth didn't share the ex-Turk's caution either. He strode down the shelves looking very much like he owned the place and had every right to be there, and paused from time to time when a book cover caught his eye.

Vincent had heard that Sephiroth had been a voracious reader before the Nibelheim Incident. The young general had preferred to bury himself in a book over participating in the rambunctious activities that the other young men in the SOLDIER barracks got up to. Seeing him there, wandering between the giant bookshelves of an abandoned library, was bringing up unsettling images of how the silver general had spent the final days before his descent into madness. Vincent had no time to dwell on these thoughts however, for he suddenly caught a movement from the corner of his eye. He turned around just fast enough to catch sight of a pale, graceful, long-fingered hand retreating behind the shelves after sticking on another one of those brightly-coloured arrows. In one swift leap Vincent cleared the rows of shelves that stood between him and the disappearing hand, but when he looked down the shelves where the owner of the hand should be, there was no one there. Crimson eyes narrowed, the ex-Turk sharpened his senses to the still air around him.

It didn't take long for the ex-Turk to pick up a faint rustling to his right. There was the hand again, an impossible distance away, sticking on another arrow at a T-shaped intersection formed by the shelves. As before, the hand quickly retreated into the shadows between the shelves, but there was nowhere for the owner of the hand to retreat to, for the shelves that hid the owner of the hand stood against the wall on the other end, forming a cul-de-sac. Vincent wasted no time cutting off the mysterious person's only escape route and closing the gap between him and the shadowed area between the shelves. But when he got there, again, there was nothing there but empty air.

Sephiroth came up behind the puzzling ex-Turk and peered into the empty space over his shoulder, but dismissed it with an uninterested shrug and continued on following the bright-green arrows.

Vincent cast one more look around his surroundings, then once again melted into the shadows behind Sephiroth.

It turned out that those huge green arrows led them straight and true to the shelves that contained maps and charts that document the flow of the Aether Currents around 7th Circle. They bore enough resemblance to nautical charts for the ex-general and the ex-Turk to recognize them for what they were. Vincent's demons remembered enough of the demon script to recognized the words for "Wastelands", "Sunless Harbour", and "City of Gold"—the capital city of 7th Circle, their current location. The rest of the various symbols and different coloured lines on the maps however, were a complete mystery. Vincent's brows furrowed at a disc that was drawn with two kinds of lines for its border: a bluish wavy line inside a solid pink line. The disc seemed to be floating somewhere off the coast of the Sunless Harbour. There were a few others like it around the harbour, though some were only half-circles, all with the bluish wavy border but not always with the larger pink border. He didn't remember seeing anything that they might have represented when he was there. It looked like what time they had left before the Archdaemon 'woke' were all going to be spent on trying to decipher how to read these maps, and Vincent had no idea how much progress they'd be able to make, or if anything they managed to learn would be of much help.

Sephiroth also studied the odd disc that Vincent was focusing on. Somehow it looked vaguely...familiar... That odd shade of blue... Suddenly, Sephiroth recognized what it represented: the bluish, turbulent ball of energy that signaled a potential vortex, which Tah'rh had used to transport them from Junon to Sunless Harbour.

The former general quickly shared his discovery with the ex-Turk. Vincent was evidently deep in conversation with his demons, for the crimson eyes that looked up were heavily flecked with gold, and they regarded the former general with a feral and almost...predatory...light flickering in their depths. But the ex-Turk then blinked and, looking down at the maps with eyes that were once again their normal crimson, he pointed out all the symbols and writings that his resident demons recognized. Remembering what Tah'rh had said about 'seasonal vortices' and 'summer vortices', Vincent then immediately worked out that the pink border must have indicated whether or not a vortex was seasonal, and the demon numbers written around the pink border must be some kind of indication of when the seasonal vortices appear. As for some of the patterned lines that flowed throughout the maps, Sephiroth remembered when he had been floating in the Lifestream, he noticed that there were some parts of the liquid life force that flowed at different speeds from the rest of the Lifestream, or even in different directions, and the interactions between those parts and the main stream created interesting-looking patterns of light and shadow in the seemingly uniform mass of glowing green. A few of the lines on the maps resembled those patterns he'd seen almost exactly.

And thus, the two men—and four demons—worked to piece together the information that the maps held with their combined knowledge, experiences, and guesses, until a rustle from somewhere above them made them both look up. High on the wall just overhead, hung another bright-green arrow, with its head pointing conspicuously towards the clock that was hanging just above it. Time's up.

Also true to her word, the Archdaemon was not negligent of her slaves' basic needs. In fact, with Fah'yn's help, Vincent and Sephiroth found themselves quite generously provided for. Apparently Tah'rh had tasked her brother with finding food suitable for humans, and the silver-haired young man took to his task quite enthusiastically.

"Err... Fah'yn, are you sure that humans need all of this? I'm pretty sure I've seen humans surviving on much less..." asked Tah'rh as she frowned at the small mountain of various kinds of meats, fruits, vegetables, etc. that her brother had brought back, her fingers unconsciously scratching at the pocket where she puts her wallet.

"Yes but did any of those humans look as good as they do?" Fah'yn asked back, gesturing to Sephiroth and Vincent, who were both quietly standing to the side.

Tah'rh eyed her brother suspiciously, then reluctantly shook her head.

"And that's because those humans were under-nourished. If you want Vincent and Sephiroth to look their best, and I know you do, both for the shows you put on in the stadium and in front of the other Archdaemons, then you'll need more than just the bare minimum for human survival." Fah'yn then began to patiently go over the various kinds of foods he brought and explained in detail about carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, essential proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, sodium chloride, good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, etc etc. Sephiroth knew that the battle had been won long before the young man was finished, and Vincent had long since started to consider the various cabinets in their rooms and calculate the amount of storage room they had versus the estimated volume of the small mountain of food.

For their clothes, the Archdaemon and members of her council argued furiously over what they should wear. Tah'rh rejected the traditional clothing for an Archdaemon's slaves from the outset, finding them too gaudy and completely unflattering for her beautiful slaves. But the designs that she favoured were not at all suitable for Archdaemon traditions and protocols. Other suggestions from the council ranged from having them wear nothing at all to ridiculously complex and ungainly costumes. Some of those suggestions didn't even take into account of how many limbs the two men actually had. But still, every one of the members of the council was adamant in his or her own ideas on how to make the Archdaemon's slaves dress to their finicky master's tastes and adhere to the traditions at the same time. And while they argued, all Sephiroth and Vincent had to make do with for clothes were the long pieces of cloths that Tseng had provided them the day they were bought. Mercifully for them, it was Tseng who finally stepped in and vetoed everyone with the most level-headed and practical solution that anyone else on the council had been able to come up with. Tseng's strategy was simple: have Vincent and Sephiroth wear the traditional slave attire—modified slightly to Tah'rh's tastes—during formal meetings with the other Archdaemons and demon lords, and have the tailors prioritize the making of those clothes first. And for less formal settings, they will just have to make do with something acceptable from the local clothing shops until they come to an agreement about the style and design of the slaves' day-to-day wear. Apparently it was quite a common hobby of demon lords to dress up their slaves in various costumes in casual settings, and so having the Archdaemon's slaves be seen wearing store-bought clothes of various styles wasn't too inappropriate or uncommon. And since they were fast running out of time before Vincent and Sephiroth were to appear before thousands of spectators from all over the Axis for the 'Duel and Screw', the rest of the council grudgingly agreed...and then started arguing again about who should go shopping for the slaves' clothes.

Hearing their troubles, Fah'yn offered to pick up some clothes for his sister's slaves along his travels...and was met with a resounding, unanimous "NO!" from the entire council, and most loudly of all from Tah'rh. Fah'yn then pointed out that it was already less than a day before the 'Duel and Screw' were to begin...

In the end, Tseng, the First Counsellor of 7th Circle, took the task of taking his sovereign's new slaves clothes-shopping entirely onto himself.

Sephiroth could almost sympathize with the dark-haired demon for having such a demanding and eccentric sovereign. It was clear that the First Counsellor wasn't very much interested in clothes at all. He took his two charges into a clothing shop for humanoid customers, curtly acknowledged the surprised but polite greeting of the shopkeeper, and then simply sat himself in a chair in the corner—frowning and scribbling over the designs for formal slave attire—while Vincent and Sephiroth went about the shop picking out their own clothes.

As he walked between the colourful aisles of clothes, Sephiroth couldn't help but muse that this was the first time he had ever gone shopping at a clothing store. When he was younger in the labs, he wore whatever the scientists and the trainers gave to him. When he became the living symbol of ShinRa's power, the president brought in esteemed designers and tailors to have the Silver General's entire wardrobe custom-made. By then Sephiroth had won himself enough influence to make some decisions for himself, and he insisted on having his say on the designs. President ShinRa, drunk on his own success at the time, gladly indulged his favourite general—and Sephiroth had played ShinRa's game of politics long enough to know how much to push his designs while staying within the president's comfort zone. Still, ShinRa's finest simply did NOT go shopping at local stores. They had a small army of assistants, runners, coffee-carriers, etc., for that.

It seemed that an Archdaemon's slaves weren't really supposed to go shopping at local stores either. Many curious glances where thrown their way from the few customers who were already in the store, and Sephiroth's sensitive ears picked up more than a few whispered speculations on what could have prompted the presence of the First Counsellor of the Circle and the Archdaemon's new slaves in this modest clothing store. But the people of the Circle also seemed to be well-acquainted with their ruler's antics; many of them guessed correctly—from Tah'rh's stubborn rejection of propriety to the bickering in the council to Tseng's headaches. One glance from Tseng's dark eyes hushed them all however, and they all maintained a respectful distance from the odd trio while doing their best to pretend they're shopping as normal.

To Vincent and Sephiroth's pleasant surprise, they were both able to find clothing that not only fit them, but were also similar to the kinds of clothes that they normally wore back in their world. Sephiroth found a few trench coats that were very similar to the ones he wore as part of his SOLDIER uniform, and Vincent was even able to find some boots with pointy metal toes. Most of the clothes they chose were either black or near-black. Sephiroth stopped mid-stride however, when he caught sight of a brightly-coloured T-shirt that was obviously two-sizes too large for him. When he was in ShinRa, all his formal clothes were black by default in accordance to the colour-code for first-class SOLDIER uniforms. His more casual clothes couldn't be called "colourful" either. He did not mind it. Black was a simple, elegant colour, and can withstand a lot of dirt and stain—a useful trait for the clothing of fighters. Genesis however, hated it and insisted on wearing a red coat on top of his black uniform. Zack never objected to the monochromatic uniform—it was what he had strived for all his young life after all. In his free time though, he preferred large, colourful T-shirts, sometimes decorated with some odd choices of words, or cartoon characters with huge, bulgy eyes. President ShinRa gladly indulged one of his second-favourites the red coat, but made it clear that T-shirts the likes of the ones in Zack's wardrobe were off-limits to the esteemed images of the commanders of his army.

Focusing back on the T-shirt before him, Sephiroth pulled it from the rack to find that it was indeed quite similar to one of Zack's more outrageous shirts—complete with a cartoony character with large bulgy eyes on the front. Sephiroth couldn't help the feeling of curiosity that welled up. He had never worn something like this before and didn't really understand the appeal, but he had always wondered what it would be like to wear a shirt like this. And why not? He was not in ShinRa anymore. It was worth a try to see if Tseng and Tah'rh would let him have it. Tossing the shirt into his otherwise very dark-coloured shopping basket, Sephiroth suddenly noticed that there were eyes on his back. He quickly turned to find Vincent casually browsing through another rack of clothes, looking very much disinterested in what the former general was doing. Sephiroth snorted softly. Valentine was a 1st-division Turk, no doubt about it.

When they brought their choices to Tseng, the dark-haired demon further confirmed his disinterest in clothes by paying attention only to the price-tag and whether the style and materials were too inappropriate for slaves. Sephiroth's T-shirt passed on all of those accounts, but they still had to report back to the Archdaemon for final approval. Tah'rh rolled her eyes on how much of their clothing were black ("I've seen Watchers wear more colour than this!") and also how much leather there were and how many unnecessary belts and buckles the clothes had ("Not that I'm passing judgement on whatever kinks you're into..."). When she came to Sephiroth's T-shirt, she paused and raised an eyebrow at him. Sephiroth stood his ground and stared right back. She then shook her head and muttered something to herself about this is almost the exact kind of thing that "he" would have picked, but otherwise did not object to their choices and approved everything.

Another thing that Vincent and Sephiroth found themselves surprisingly generously provided with—for slaves—was freedom of movement. They were unchained and unguarded, and did not wear collars or anything else that was enchanted with hexes. At first Sephiroth wondered about the apparent lack of anything that might prevent slaves from simply walking out of the palace door, but it soon became clear that even with no guards or chains to stop him, walking out of the Archdaemon's palace was no simple task. Many times he had found the hallways around their rooms completely empty and unguarded, and had tried to explore the palace and find one of its exits. But no matter which direction or route he took, he always found himself walking in circles in the seemingly endless hallways and end up right back in front of his own door. Sephiroth knew that it was not because he was wandering around aimlessly. The former general had an excellent sense of direction and remembered every turn he took. He even remembered the exact sequence of turns that Fah'yn had taken on that first day to lead them from Tah'rh's office to their rooms. Sephiroth had tried time and again to follow Fah'yn's route, but it was as if the hallways were alive and they shifted and molded themselves to lead him right back to where he began.

It was the same thing with the forest that surrounded their little guest suite. The trees were wild and dense, and were so tall that they blocked the sky. But Sephiroth had long since found that he could tell which direction he was heading in even without any of the visual aids that other people around him needed. And so even in featureless deserts, or dense forests such as this, he never came to walking in circles as other people did. But here, no matter how long he walked, he never was able to reach the other end of the forest. The trees just seemed to go on forever. However, he soon found that no matter how far or for how long he had walked into the forest, once he decided to give up and go back to his rooms, it would only take a few steps before the trees would recede to reveal the open space of the little garden by the porch.

Sephiroth had tried to get over the tree tops, but neither flying nor levitation worked. Levitation just refused to work properly and the air just wouldn't flow over his wings the right way. If he tried to climb any of the trees, then it was the same thing: the tree just seemed to go on forever, but when he decide to go back down, it took no time at all. Same with trying to climb the palace walls above the porch.

Sephiroth growled in frustration as he once again dropped back down to the ground. Of course he hadn't expected escaping from an Archdaemon's palace to be easy, but he'd have preferred his obstacles to be more...traditional...like chains and shackles and spells and armed guards. At least then he'd understand the nature of the things he must overcome.

The only things that the former general was able to find in the forest other than more baffling trees was a sizable clearing equipped with various dummies and bamboo stakes and other items ideal for sword training. He had also come upon another clearing equipped with bullseye targets and dummies that were obviously meant for target-practice for gunners, and he knew that Vincent had found it also. The two of them had been allowed to take their 'Duel and Screw' weapons back to their rooms with them, and Sephiroth brooded over how confident and unthreatened the demons seemed to feel about the armed slaves.

They've even been granted limited access to the Central Library. Vincent had subtly mentioned to Fah'yn about how he was prone to nightmares and that books take his mind elsewhere and help him sleep. Sephiroth had seen Vincent during his nightmares, and he knew that no book could really be of help. He knew that the ex-Turk was simply trying to practice reading the demon script and also to find out more about the world they were in. Fah'yn agreed right away to help them get some books, and the two men expected him to simply give them a few books on random, safe subjects. Neither of them had expected the young man to come back telling them that Tah'rh had agreed to allow them limited-access library accounts, and Nami the Circle Treasurer had agreed to take the two men along with her during her regular trips to the Central Library.



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