Seduction Starts with C
A Cyran and Clavis story because I am still not over this. It's a continuation(ish) of Trouble Starts with C . Approx. 4000 words.
Cyran kept a close eye on the tavern patrons. It was a standard mix for one of Lelouch’s favorite hangouts. A smattering of dissatisfied nobility, a handful of angry merchants, a few well-off farmers with a bone to pick, a couple of spies and foreign provocateurs pretending to be anything else, surrounded by a remainder of less savory types. Thieves, bankers, and landlords. Cyran supposed, he could have just named them all thieves and been done.
He wasn’t too worried about real trouble, but every so often someone would pickpocket someone else. Or a few drinks in, a gentleman might realize the only thing he has in common with his compatriots is a hatred of the crown and pick a fight about one of the many other topics on which they disagreed. Clavis never did anything to calm the tensions. He enjoyed the undercurrent of potential violence. The unspoken threat of this place and these people.
And into it, the prince had tossed his little rabbit. The unyielding Emma. Emma the Persistent. Emma the . . . beautiful, sweet, kind, funny, intelligent . . . Cyran cleared his throat as if that might halt the flood of words in his mind. His gaze landed on her, standing at Clavis’ elbow next to a group of aggrieved merchants. Their red faced exclamations clearly left her uncomfortable, but she gamely held to her smile.
Clavis was watching her too, reveling in the subtle signs of her distress. His intent was to push her until she broke. To see how far he could keep this toy, how long she would tag after him before she gave up entirely. He would break her to see what made her tick.
Cyran had never minded these games, never voiced more than a token complaint before now. But there’d never been a girl like Emma before. She wasn’t some grasping noblewoman, hoping to snare a prince. Nor a common girl hoping to become a kept mistress. She had no designs on Clavis, beyond her clear affection and her intent to serve as the best Belle she could be.
The soldier told himself this was why the game bothered him this time. Because Emma was genuine and her goals were noble. But he knew there was more to it, hiding as it did in the silence between his heartbeats. A feeling he would not name or express because the prince already laid his claim. He watched Clavis pull Emma closer to his side, his fingertips caressing her bare arm. Leaning toward her to whisper something naughty in her ear.
Cyran grabbed a drink from one of the serving trays and downed it without looking to see what it was. That was a mistake. Clavis liked to pepper the usual beverages with wilder things, and Cyran had pulled the lucky glass. The drink felt like he’d swallowed pure fire. It burned his lips and tongue, and the scent of it crept up the back of his nostrils to make his eyes water.
Emma happened to glance back as he wiped at his face. She said something to Clavis, who only half-turned his head to glance at his soldier. He grinned, well aware of what befell Cyran. The Belle hurried over, a worried twist to her delicate lips.
“Cyran. Are you alright? Did something happen?”
He coughed, trying to get his throat to work.
“Here,” Emma handed him a cup of water. “Drink slowly.”
The soldier took the glass and sipped it, silent until his throat stopped feeling like a bonfire. “Thanks.” His voice was still raspy and a little breathless. He coughed and tried again.
“Did your drink go down wrong? It looked like you were choking, but Clavis said not to worry.”
Cyran grinned. “Nothing to worry about, my lady. Just grabbed the wrong cup and got a taste of something I didn’t like.”
Emma wrinkled her nose. “It must have been pretty bad. Which drink was it? So I can avoid it.”
“Best to avoid anything you didn’t see poured and handed straight to you.” He gestured toward the tavern servers, with their trays. “Anyone could drop anything into one of those cups. And since you’re here with Clavis, you’re a target.”
She looked surprised, but she nodded. “I didn’t think about that. Is . . . is that what happened to you? Did someone try to poison you?” Her voice dropped low and she leaned in to say the last bit.
Cyran tried not to think about how close she was, how he could feel the warm tickle of her breath across his neck, nor how much he liked the way she tilted her chin to look up at him so sweetly. He cleared his throat again. “Something like that, yeah.”
“Maybe we should go sit down or something? To make sure you’re alright?” She looked more worried now than she had hurrying over.
“Oh, no, it’s nothing so serious.” He laughed and tapped her on the nose. “Besides, I think the Prince is getting antsy for your return.”
Emma glanced back to see Clavis stick his tongue out at her. She huffed. “Well, he can just wait. Making sure you’re ok is more important.” She took Cyran’s arm and half-dragged him out onto the porch. There were several tables set out here for overflow from the common room, but it was cold so they were all empty.
He let her sit him down on one of the benches. Her determined little frown was adorable. “So, what now? How do we know I’m ok?”
“I . . . I’m not sure? What do you normally do for a poison?” She tapped her lips and then nodded. “We need to know what you drank!”
“Well . . . it made my throat burn.” Cyran watched her think about this, her brow furrowed, eyes downcast. He felt like he ought to tell her it was just some pepper extract but she was adorable in her intensity.
Emma nodded. “Alright. Anything else? Do you feel short of breath? Does your stomach hurt? Any numbness?”
“Hmm, no, no, and no.” Cyran nearly startled off the bench when she pressed her fingers to his throat. Her hands were cool and soft as silk, though he could feel the slight tips of her nails where she sought his pulse.
“Your heart’s racing,” she said softly, leaning close. “And your skin feels a little hot.”
“I feel fine.” He stood abruptly, pulling away from her. “We should get back to the prince. Otherwise he’ll pout and we really don’t want that.”
Emma looked up at him for a long moment and then nodded. “Alright. But if you start to feel worse, let me know.”
“Promise? I won’t believe you unless you promise.”
Cyran sighed. “I promise.” His fingers were crossed, but she didn’t know that. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be honest, but working for Clavis put certain restrictions on the truth. He might need to keep himself to himself even if he really did get poisoned or sick or stabbed. And it was for the best.
Clavis was waiting for them inside, wearing a big smile that seemed wider than usual. “There you are, my love. I can see you missed me!”
“I really didn’t,” she replied drily.
He ignored the comment completely, and took her arm. “There are some people I want to introduce you to.”
Emma sighed. “Alright. Let’s go. I know you’ll drag me over anywa-hey!”
The soldier watched them drift into the milieu. It was going to be a long night. He sighed and stuck his hands in his pockets. That was when he found the note Clavis had slipped there when they came back inside. It took Cyran a moment to decode, not because of any clever cipher. Just Clavis’ usual terrible handwriting.
Upstairs. Door 3. Package delivery.
Cyran read it over twice. Some days, it was not great to work for a cryptic boss. He supposed it would make sense when he got there. The soldier slipped upstairs, making sure his absence was not noted. The instructions did not mention whether or not he could be seen, but with Clavis it was always better to be cautious.
Door 3 was closed tight and locked, but that was barely worth a pause. Cyran could pick a lock almost as well as the prince, and this tavern wasn’t exactly known for security. The room beyond was lit by a low-burning lamp. There wasn’t much to see.
The bed was bare, no sheets or blankets, a worn trunk, and a small, rickety table with a nicked bowl and pitcher atop it. And there were exactly zero packages. Cyran shrugged and began to look around. Nothing in the bowl, nothing in the pitcher. The trunk was empty. Nothing under the bed. Then he spotted it. A lump in the mattress.
Cyran flipped it over and found a cut on the bottom side. He reached his hand in, hoping to any god that the thing was free of lice and bed bugs. His reaching fingers brushed the bottom of something small, wrapped tightly in waxed paper. The soldier pulled it out and shook the clinging bits of hay from his hand.
The package was about as big as his palm, a little wider than a box of cards, and had no markings. Cyran shook it but nothing inside shifted. He sniffed it too, but there was only the smell of moldy hay and wax. He grinned. It was just like the prince to send him for something like this. The contents could be poison, an explosive, smuggled jewels, or a handful of naughty sketches. There was no way to know.
The soldier tucked the package into his coat, making sure the wax paper was well sealed before he did so. Then he put the mattress back into place and kicked the hay under the bed. With everything put to right, he went back downstairs.
Music was playing loudly and several people were dancing in a cleared-out space between the tavern tables. Cyran spotted the Belle being swung about by one of the bankers that frequented this place. A decent guy. For a banker. But there was no sign of Clavis.
He hated it when the prince disappeared like this, without telling him the plan ahead of time. But that was also pretty much just working for Clavis. He had his own complicated machinations and more often than not, Cyran just had to trust the outcome was worth the effort. It usually was, if not in the way he expected.
The problem now was, did he go looking for his boss or stay here to keep an eye on Emma? Clavis could get himself into all kinds of trouble on his own, and the prince was the guy he’d sworn to protect. But Emma was all alone in a room full of dangerous men.
Cyran spent at least an entire minute vacillating before he walked across the tavern and tapped the banker on the shoulder. “You mind if I cut in?”
The banker scowled. “You can wait for the next song.”
Emma giggled. “C-cyyyyyy . . . you want to dance with me?” Her grin was wide and her eyes looked slightly glazed.
“Miss, I think you might have had too much to drink,” the banker said, his voice solicitous, “let me take you out for some air. We can go for a walk until your head clears.”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” Cyran told him, smiling his very polite and not at all intimidating smile. He reached for Emma’s arm, but the banker pushed her behind him.
Emma swayed and put a hand on the man’s shoulder. “I do feel a li- a li - dizzy.”
The banker patted her hand but his eyes remained on Cyran. “If you’ll step aside?”
“Like I said. Not possible. The lady is a dear friend of mine and -”
“Dear! Oh Cyyyyy . . .” The Belle giggled. “I like th-that! Dear. Deeeeearrrrrr,” she sang the word, drawing out the vowels.
Cyran didn’t think he’d been gone long enough for her to get drunk, but he wasn’t sure how long he’d been upstairs. She was adorable like this, being silly and laughing. It was a side of her he’d never seen before. But the tavern was a bad spot for it. Especially as it seemed the banker had an eye for her. “As I said, very dear. So I can’t allow her to go off with you.”
The banker looked as if he wanted to argue. Then he shrugged and grinned. “Sure, sure. You two have a good time. In fact, to show no hard feelings, have one of my rare candies. These are made from a fruit that only grows near the sea.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small tin and held it open.
Cyran took one for himself and one for the Belle.
“They’re re-re-ah, good,” Emma stumbled through her words as if she’d forgotten how to speak. “I had twooooooooooo!”
“Yes, I hope you do enjoy them.” The banker gave a nod and then stepped away, seeming to lose interest.
Seeming was the word for it, Cyran thought. He could tell the banker and two other men were keeping an eye on them. Interesting. He pocketed the candies and took Emma’s arm. “Come on. Let’s go for a walk. We need to get you sobered up before Clavis comes back.”
“Sober? I’m . . . not drunk! I di-didn’t have any drinks!”
“Emma. You are wobbling. Be honest.” He tapped her nose lightly.
She frowned and tried to bite his finger. “I am! I just had some of those candies and went daaaaancing.” She turned a pouty glare up at him. “An-and don’t tap my nose. It’s rude.”
He laughed. She really was too cute like this. But behind his carefree smile, he was worried. If she was telling the truth, then what was in those candies? He would need to get them over to Clavis for study.
The two of them left the tavern arm in arm. Cyran tried not to enjoy the way she leaned into him too much but she was a nice armful. Emma settled her head against his shoulder and pulled the clasped arm against her belly, tucked right beneath her breasts, so that as they walked she was nearly against his side.
“Cy, can I a-ask you something?” Emma pronounced it like ‘shum-ting’, her words slurring even more.
“Of course. Ask me anything,” he replied, distracted. It seemed whatever was in the candies was still working its way through her system.
She stopped at looked up at him, studying his face under the warm glow of the streetlamps. “Do you like me?”
Cyran was nearly startled into being honest, but caught himself before the words escaped his parted lips. “What? Emma, everyone likes you. Are you sure you didn’t have even one tiny drink? A sip?” He grinned, teasing, “or maybe you’re just playing a little game with me?”
Emma stomped her foot and almost fell over. Only the soldier’s grip on her arm kept her upright. “No! I’m not . . . I - I . . . it’s just . . . you said dear.” Her anger evaporated in an instant, leaving her with a puppy-eyed expression.
“I did.” He felt drawn forward, his body leaning into hers as if pulled by another sort of gravity. Cyran’s hand cupped the back of her head, fingers sliding up to tangle in her hair, ruining her styling. He felt the catch in her breath and her small hands gripped his coat to pull him even closer.
Their lips were so close to meeting that he could feel the warmth of her.
“This would have been so much simpler if you just ate the candies. Now I’ll have to risk damaging the merchandise.” A voice interrupted the moment. One of the two men that had been with the banker stood on the opposite side of the road. He grinned at Cyran as the soldier turned to face him.
Cyran saw the leather-wrapped tranchon in the man’s hand and pulled his sword from it’s sheath. “You shouldn’t bring a stick to a sword fight.” He was so focused on that threat that he almost didn’t notice the other man rush from the shadows, silently targeting the Belle. It was only really luck that he caught the movement from the corner of his eye.
“Duck,” the soldier snapped the order and thankfully, Emma obeyed. She dropped into a crouch just in time.
The second attacker’s weapon moved through empty space as Cyran lunged forward. Cyran’s sword took the attacker in his gut, naked blade easily parting the tissue.
There wasn’t any time to celebrate the small victory as the man with the truncheon came at them. He swung, intending to take the soldier at his knee. Cyran saw the telegraphed motion and kicked up at the right moment. His boot took the man in the face and sent him sprawling back.
Emma made a surprised sound deep in her chest. A suppressed cry of fear or perhaps anger, Cyran couldn’t tell.
He pulled her into a half-hug with his free hand. “It’s alright. I’ve got you.”
She nodded mutely and buried her face against his chest.
The man on the ground started to scramble away, but stopped as a squad of guardsmen came into view, with Clavis in the lead. The prince was grinning widely. He took in the scene and began to clap. “Nicely done. I couldn’t have done it better myself. Well, more handsomely, I suppose. I am very dashing. But good job.”
“Thanks.” Cyran smiled back. “I was wondering if you’d pop up conveniently.”
“Of course! I could never stray too far from the lovely Emma.” He held out his hand. “Come here, my dear. The most attractive man in the kingdom wants to make sure you’re ok. Isn’t that flattering?”
She peeked over at him, a tentative smile on her lips, which turned into a frown swiftly. Emma pulled away from Cyran and crossed her arms. “You a-abandoned me in there!”
“I left but for a moment! And I knew Cyran here would look after you.”
“That why you sent me upstairs on a fetch mission?” The soldier raised an eyebrow. He pulled the package from his coat and tossed it over to Clavis. “What is it, anyway?”
“Just a naughty deck of cards. I’m going to slip it into Yves’ games so he finds it next time he plays gin rummy with Keith and Licht.” Clavis’ smile didn’t budge. “It was a very important mission!”
Cyran felt his eyebrow twitch.
Clavis held out a hand to Emma. “Forgive me? Of course you do. Now come here.”
Emma reluctantly took a step forward but laughed when Clavis took her arm and pulled her into an unexpected embrace. She stumbled a bit, still under the effect of the drugged candies.
“There’s my beauty. You’re so cute when you pout but I like that smile. That one right there.” The prince put a kiss on her nose.
Cyran turned to look at the men on the ground. It was easier than watching the two of them. One was rubbing his chest and clearly considering his chances for escape. The other was dead, his skin already taking on that waxy look of a corpse. The soldier cleared his throat. “If you’re done? I think we have some loose ends to tie up.”
Clavis chuckled. “We do! Guards, if you’ll arrest that one on the ground?” He gestured toward the tavern. “Is our banker friend still there?”
“We didn’t see him leave.” Emma said, drawing out the word leave into a lilting sing-song.
“Are you drunk? No - I know what it is! He gave you something, didn’t he?” The prince’s eyebrows rose with excitement.
Cyran intervened before Emma could answer. “Candies. Which you should probably analyze because Emma had a few.”
“One,” she squeaked.
“One. Which might have ended with her in the banker’s clutches, if I hadn’t come downstairs when I did.” Cyran fixed his boss with a hard look.
Clavis waved it off as if there were nothing to worry about. “If the banker took her back to his secret vault, I’d have rescued her then. Along with the other ladies he was kidnapping to sell into slavery in Obsidian. I was very heroic.” He turned his face to the Belle. “I most definitely deserve a kiss for my selfless deeds. Reward me?”
Emma huffed. “It’s nooooooot selfless if - if you get a reward.”
“Isn’t it? No?” The prince looked a little deflated as she turned her face away from him, denying him the sought after kiss. “Well. You’ll change your mind. No one can refuse the most handsome prince in Rhodolite.”
“So all of the missing people were found? And the banker?” Cyran pulled his boss back onto topic.
Clavis nodded. “All the ones not already taken to Obsidian.” Though his smile did not change, his gaze went hard and cold. “Not to worry though. We’ll get them back to. And our banker friend will help us by telling us every single contact he has there.”
Cyran nodded. “Should I head back to the tavern and gift box him then?”
“Not necessary. Guards are already on their way. I think we need to get the lovely Emma home and into bed.” Clavis grinned at her suggestively.
“My bed. Alone.”
“How you wound me,” the prince sighed. “But never mind. I’ll be busy anyhow, analyzing those candies. I must discover what fun compounds the banker was using. Surely something I can borrow. A little surprise, perhaps, for a certain brother . . .”
On the carriage ride back to the palace, Emma fell asleep leaning against Clavis. Cyran studied her peaceful face. The way her lashes lay against her cheek. The delicate arch of her eyebrow. Her lips, slightly parted as if she might speak. He wished it was his shoulder she rested on, but looking at the prince’s expression made him feel guilty for the thought.
Clavis had the most gentle smile as he stroked her hair. It lacked the wicked humor and blatant falseness of his usual expression. It was an openness he’d never shown with any of his other ‘toys.’ Cyran wondered if, perhaps, his boss underestimated the effect Emma had on him. Afterall, a man that had never been in love might not realize when he began that fall.
“You like her.” Clavis spoke softly into the quiet of the carriage. He did not look up from the Belle as he spoke.
Cyran said nothing for a long moment. Then, “Yes.” He took a breath, steadying himself. His chest roiled with emotions he wasn’t sure how to express. His relationship with Clavis was built on trust and mutual love for the small people. The ideals they shared. He had to believe it could withstand one, beautiful girl between them. “She cares for you a lot.”
He hummed an affirmation, and then, “For you too.”
“I know.” The answer felt like it scraped his throat. Acknowledging this affection felt like pulling the scab from a wound.
“Don’t hold back on my account.” Clavis finally looked across at him. “That will make the game even more interesting.”
The smile he wore now was unreadable. A wall that Cyran couldn’t see past. He did not know how the prince meant those words, nor what he should do next. He decided to continue with honesty, the dangerous path. “As you command.”
“Perhaps we should wager? The one to seduce the lovely Emma wins? Oh, but what if we both do! Or neither. Hmmm.” Clavis traced the edge of her ear with his fingertip. “I’m not sure what the prize would be, excepting the woman herself.”
“Prize enough.” She was worth more than gold or favors, Cyran thought. Much more. “I think the stakes are pretty clear.”
Emma slept on through it, unaware of the gauntlet thrown. She was between them, weaving herself into their hearts in a way that would be impossible to sever.
Kokdu: Season of Deity (2023) - 꼭두의 계절 - Whump List
List by StayDandy
Synopsis : Oh Hyun once incurred the wrath of God. As punishment for his action he was turned into a grim reaper, Kokdu. As a reaper, every 99 years he possess a human body and visits the mortal world to punish humans. This time around he possess Dr. Do Jin Woo, which leads to him getting involved with Dr. Han Gye Jeol.
Han Gye Jeol works as a visiting physician. She is often looked down on for her degree from the country's lowest ranked medical school. When Do Jin Woo appears in front of her, he is the first one in her life who takes her side. But everything is set into a tailspin when Kokdu takes over, and her daily life is changed because of him. (MDL)
Whumpee : Kokdu / Oh Hyun / Do Jin Woo played by Kim Jung Hyun
• Han Chul played by Ahn Woo Yeon (bonus - 1 ep)
Country : 🇰🇷 South Korea
Notes : This is a Full Whump List
• I tell ya, when he's in pain this boy is vocal! I was a bit disappointed when a "cure" is found (waaay too quickly imo) for most of the drama, which I get it, they need to progress the plot, but still - boo ... but it's not a permanent fix, so there's that to look forward to lol
Episodes on List : 13
Total Episodes : 16
01 : [past life] Oh Hyun shot with an arrow, in a sword fight alone against a large group, cut several times, shot with more arrows, collapses, dies … [present] Do Jin Woo passes out drunk … punches a picture frame, knuckles bleeding … thrown off a building, lands on a car, rolls off, head bleeding, dies (now possessed by Kokdu)
02 : [past after-life] Oh Hyun holds his head in grief/pain, falls to his knees, passes out … [present] Kokdu's hearing voices, ears ringing, holds his head in pain … tired, stumbling a bit .. hearing voices, ears ringing, head pain
03 : [flashback to past life] Oh Hyun holding head & yelling in pain … [present] Kokdu's bones break (comedic) … sore … hearing voices, ears ringing, head pain … neck is cut (instantly heals - boo) … knees buckle
04 : Hearing voices, Ears ringing, head pain … drunk … hearing voices, ears ringing, head pain … collapses, exhausted, someone supporting him
05 : (at end) Chest pain, passes out
06 : … continued from previous ep. ... (replay) Chest pain, passes out, heart stops, chest compressions … passes out
07 : [flashback] Jin Woo is drugged, passes out … [present] wakes on the floor (instead of Kokdu) … hand cut
08 : Starts to fall asleep while driving … passes out while driving, crashes … wakes as Kokdu in the ambulance … (😂 omg using
Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung) from Heal Me, Kill Me as an example of multiple personalities 😂)
12 : Han Chul (Han Gye Jeol's brother) is drugged, passes out … hospitalized … Kokdu is scratched by debris from an explosion, instantly heals
13 : … continued from previous ep. ... (replay) Scratched by debris from an explosion, instantly heals … stabbed (doesn't react/feel it), [quick flashback] Oh Hyun shot … [present] Kokdu has a headache … suddenly starts bleeding from where he was stabbed earlier, pain … bandaged … [flashback] Oh Hyun shot
14 : Kokdu has pain from the wound on his chest, starts bleeding again, bandaged … pain from the wound on his chest, bandaged again … stabbed in the same spot on his chest with a hair pin, bleeding heavily, passes out
15 : … continued from previous ep. ... (replay) Stabbed in the chest with a hair pin, bleeding heavily, passes out … on the bridge between life & death … taken by ambulance, hospitalized, ventilator … headache, ear ringing … migraine, chest pain, ear ringing … unsteady … hearing voices, ears ringing, head pain … migraine, ear ringing … hearing voices, ears ringing, head pain, hyperventilating, collapses.. weak, in bed, headache … unsteady, hearing voices, ears ringing, head pain
16 : Weak, sick, throws up