Rating: PG - M
Pairing: Gwendal x Günter mainly, but there are other pairings in the background (Yozak x Conrart, Yuuri x Wolfram, etc.)
Genre: Survival, fluff, angst, romance
Summary: After the King's ship is attacked and lost, Gwendal finds himself ship-wrecked on an unknown island with Günter. As they help each other survive on the island, Gwendal tries to find a way to handle his suddenly known feelings towards his colleague and fellow castaway.
Notes: Once again, I would like to say a huuuuge thank you to the amazingly awesome puck_the_elf
for beta'ing this story for me!
Second: Happy New Year everyone!! Sorry this took so long to get this chapter out!
So here it is, I hope you all enjoy!
"That's the last of them," Günter remarked as he gingerly set aside the glass bottles of shampoos he had been counting, then added the number to their hard copy of the inventory that was being tallied on a dried page of Günter's journal. "Not to worry, Gwendal. There was none of that 'black orchid' scent."
Gwendal shrugged in response but was glad to hear that the infamous black orchid was not among them on this island. The last thing he or Günter needed was "heightened inspiration of feelings" in this situation. That and the fact that he hated how the scent made him sneeze whenever his mother wore it.
He struck the flint stone against its counterpart, hoping this time that the fire would finally catch. They had spent the better part of the day dragging back the crate and its contents (rather, he spent the day dragging it back like a mule while Günter limped along carrying the cumbersome thick pallet-like material that had covered the final interior crate), and Gwendal wanted nothing more than to have this fire going before the night set in, as they were exposed to who-knew-what sort of creatures that stalked the jungle at night.
Now that he thought about it, perhaps once they had a better idea of the lay of the island, they would build a camp that was not exposed on the edge of a jungle they knew nothing about. He hoped there would be somewhere that was not only safe from potential predators, but could offer them a strategic vantage point for surveying for danger or a rescue.
He turned to see Günter arranging the bottles back into their crate and fussing over the other items in their small but useful inventory. Ever since they had returned with the soaps and other products, Günter's mood had lifted considerably. Not that Günter was at all prissy when it came to getting his hands metaphorically or literally dirty -Gwendal had gone on many campaigns with the older demon that often involved sleeping outdoors and in their clothing repeatedly before being able to find inns and amenities- but Gwendal knew that Günter valued keeping his appearance fresh and clean, and if his fastidiousness could be sated while "roughing-it", it was probably all for the better.
As if reading his mind, Günter piped up. "Tomorrow, when you go exploring, keep an eye out for a place to bathe. Hopefully whatever water source you find is like a stream. It would be so much easier to know where we can drink and where we can bathe without fear of fouling up our water source."
Gwendal made a noise of compliance. He supposed that any offer of the fact that bathing could be done in the ocean would be met with a "That would be redundant, Gwendal.".
He struck the rock harder than ever this time around, the hand holding the older rock trembling from the force of the blow, but thankfully a hearty spark leapt up and caught on the tinder he had gathered. Finally.
"You have the fire going," Günter said with a happy note as he came by their designated fire pit. "Do you want me to go and gather more of the carrots? It would not take long. I will be back before sundown."
"I thought we agreed that you wouldn't be pushing your foot anymore today," Gwendal said as he stood, dusting the sand from his trousers, and then before Günter could protest, "You tend to the fire. I'll go and gather dinner. Do you think we have enough kindling for the night?" he asked as he looked at their collection of broken branches and dried wood from the wreckage they had gathered.
“I think it should hold us for the night,” was Günter’s answer.
Without another word, Gwendal picked up the sword and Günter's emptied bag and headed in the direction of where Günter had described the carrot patch was located. He strode through the lush grasses, being mindful of his surroundings and the fact that it was the beginning of the end of the day.
There was so much to do, he found himself thinking and realising that the reality that he and Günter were stranded here indefinitely was shaping up to pass. Not a single boat had been seen all day. Gwendal had been hoping that some ship or fleet would have sailed by whether on a trading route or to investigate for any survivors from their ill-fated journey.
Their ship had been a large passenger barge, not a ship from the king's own fleet with royal banners announcing their presence on the waters, and even though the voyage's purpose had been for a vacation of sorts with one of Yuuri's oldest allies rather than for politics and diplomacy, he and Conrart had seen to being discreet. Yuuri was dressed in his disguise, Conrart and Wolfram in their traveling "commoner" outfits, and Yozak and his men concealed and assimilated into the crew.
Only himself and Günter were in their uniforms, and their suites were far from the ones being occupied by Yuuri, Conrart, and Wolfram. In fact, he and Günter had made a point not to openly interact with either of his brothers or their king, in order not to draw any suspicion to the young man with messy brown hair and brown contacts that had a tendency to fall out at the most awkward of times.
Thinking of those moments, pretending not to know his own brothers had its benefits. For example, it had made it easy for Gwendal to extract himself when a crowd had begun to form around Wolfram, as the blonde prince had taken to raging at his fiancé between bouts of sea-sickness induced vomiting. Looking back on this from a bystander's point of view, Gwendal supposed it had been humorous.
But he and Günter were listed among a full first-class itinerary. In short, there were enough important lives on board to spark some sort of search when the ship failed to reach their destination's harbor. And if an inquiry was not launched for their missing ship, one would have been launched for the Cimmeron war vessel that had been involved.
Whether the other ship too was lost or not, Cimmeron would come looking for its own. And not to mention, the country was now in violation of many treaties with many of their allies. Even if those allies did not have a stake with the Demon Kingdom, the assumed truth of the matter was that Cimmeron attacked a passenger vessel in neutral waters that lead to the deaths of many and property damage. The news from that alone should have prompted countries to send their own fleets in aid.
But so far nothing. He knew that not many days had passed, but still he had hoped to have seen something other than sky and endless water on the horizon.
He pushed further through the dense brush to where Günter had indicated the carrots grew, picked a generous portion, placing the carrots into the bag, and then pressed further beyond the patch. It wouldn't hurt to look a bit beyond to see if there were any signs of fresh water or other food sources.
It also gave him more time alone with his thoughts. If they were stranded there was more that they had to figure out for not only their survival but also in terms of how to make life easier while they waited out their time on this island. It would mean being extremely resourceful for one thing. And the more resourceful they could be here on this island, perhaps the matter of somehow escaping the island by their own means would also come up...
No, that would be too much of a risk right now. Even if Günter could use his maryoku to power the sails of any means of a raft they could make, there was no way to tell how to navigate them towards friendlier land or avoid drifting into the human lands where their powers were rendered useless.
No, he thought as he used the sword to cut a vine so that he could drink, a raft was definitely a last resort, only when they both had nothing else to loose. Right now they were strong and healthy (rather, once Günter was fully healed, he would be healthy) with their wits about them. They could possibly do this, survive here for a few weeks, maybe a month (he hoped, upon hope that there would be a boat by then) or more.
He heard it then, under the noise of the birds and other creatures of this jungle...the telltale noise of babbling water that he had heard yesterday in the cave. Gwendal picked up his pace and found a brook that was was running through the jungle at about an hour's walk from their camp.
The current was stronger here, he noted, and was running downstream in the direction of where he surmised the cove was, where at some point it went underground. He decided to follow the run against the current, heading west to see what he might find. The sun was still out, and Gwendal could benefit a little more with expanding the known area.
He walked onwards, feeling the ground rise once more under his feet in a slight incline, and soon he was traversing the hills. Gwendal was keeping an eye out for anything that could be useful, be it prey, friend, or foe. Knowing that they weren't the only two people on this island would settle his already on the edge nerves.
It wasn't that he minded Günter. It was more for the comfort of having someone else who may share their predicament (and possibly contribute more to their camp) or finding civilization or society that could assist them with living or escaping the island. Also having an extra pair of eyes would be a tremendous help during the day to be on watch for rescuers and during the night to be on guard against any enemies or predators.
The sun was beginning to wane in the sky when Gwendal came upon the cascading falls and the small lake that fed the brook. The hills he noted here lead to higher elevations, and from what he judged were possible plateaus with mountain side and maybe steppes.
He would definitely return here, he thought as he stooped to take a drink and wash the carrots. Perhaps going to higher ground would be a better option than staying on the beach.
There was a noise then, on the opposite bank. It startled Gwendal, but not enough to root him in place. He quickly pushed back into the vegetation, crouching low enough to be out of sight but also to see what was approaching on the opposite side.
A large buck was on the other bank, drawing closer for a drink. Gwendal cursed himself for being so obtuse. How could it have been anything else but an animal? He watched the creature for a bit, sizing it up and wondering if it would catch his scent and flee. But it didn't.
Perhaps, Gwendal thought, perhaps this animal, like the crabs in the morning pool, did not know to fear the scent of man and demon. And if there were deer on this island...Gwendal's mind was going to work. There was large game on this island that did not know how to avoid a new type of predator. A deer could sustain the both of them for a while, the meat for food and bait, the bones and sinew for tools...
Von Voltaire was mostly hunting lands, and his father and forefathers enjoyed a good hunt. He had never enjoyed the hunt for sport (deer, wild pigs, fox, and pheasants were too cute to kill merely for pride and show of skill), but he of course knew how to hunt for survival. It would be difficult to take down the mark as he was, with only a sword and no idea of the land to where the deer could possibly flee.
He and Günter would have to discuss a strategy in order to profit and avoid serious injury from any hunting they would have to do, but the knowledge that there was something as sustaining as deer on this island made Gwendal feel hopeful (although, it made his stomach want something more than carrots) that the situation was not as bleak as it had initially seemed.
The deer looked up suddenly from where it was drinking, and Gwendal became as still as stone. The animal sniffed at the air a few moments, its eye casting over where Gwendal crouched, and suddenly bounded off into the safety of the jungle.
Tomorrow, thought Gwendal, he would spend a good amount of his time tracking for a herd.
He returned to Günter's fretting as the sun was finally dying on the horizon of the water.
"I was so worried! You were gone so long! Honestly, Gwendal, what in Shinou's name were you thinking? Did something happen? Are you hurt? Is that why it took you so long to come back?"
"I am fine, I assure you," Gwendal groused as he batted Günter's hands from their intended path to inspect him for any injuries. "I have news."
He told Günter about the water and the deer, the paler man's face losing its previous visible stress as he also became excited over the news of a water source and new food option.
"Hunting deer as we are will prove very challenging," the king's advisor murmured, tucking his hand under his chin and looking away in the typical fashion that alerted Gwendal to the fact that the cogs in the man's mind were already working their way to a solution.
"We would need to find the herd, of course, and figure out a manner in which to capture the beast that won't leave us gored or trampled..." he trailed off looking to Gwendal for any input, but then speaking suddenly. "How are you at making snares?"
"Decent, but a snare is not going to take down a deer."
"No, but it will help us become better at hunting here first, show us other options. Seeing as we are going to have to hunt at a distance as we have no means of arrows or other long range hunting tools, we'll have to know the land better, see how the animals migrate. It will take some practice before we're decent at it. Also, as we are now, there is no way we can live off of a deer without it going to waste first."
"Again with the waste," Gwendal grumped, but he had to once again admit Günter had a point. Why risk frustration and resources you really could not waste on the large prize when you could hone multiple skills and gather more resources on smaller rewards.
He allowed Günter to take the bag from him as he sat down by the fire to rest. His back had begun to itch and ache again, so he removed his shirt to provide some relief. The cool breeze of the coming night was soothing to the burns. Gwendal watched as Günter busied himself with preparing their dinner and also noted that Günter had not been idly waiting for his return.
"I see you haven't been good about staying off of your injury." Gwendal didn't say it unkindly. There was some amusement in his tone. He really should have expected it.
When Günter looked up at him to see what he was referring to, Gwendal held up one of several (albeit poorly) hollowed out coconuts that were scattered about the fire.
"I was trying to make water containers. It's awfully hard to do so with a knife. It's not sharp enough to cut it cleanly. Sometimes the hulls split and leak when you exert too much pressure or spend the better part of your strength sawing at it." Günter sniffed. "Don't get me started on the water." Gwendal noticed that there were fresh stains on Günter's clothing. "I did manage to scrape most of the fruit out of the ones I ruined," the older demon said indicating a flat stone which had leaves spread across it and a small mound of the white fleshy fruit upon it.
"Your new work bench?"
Günter "hmmed" at that statement. "I did manage to make skewers," the other demon said brightly as he showed Gwendal the sharpened sticks he was now impaling a few of the carrots upon to be roasted. "Soaked them for a bit in the ocean so they won't burn."
Gwendal rose, taking two of the still whole coconuts with him. "Where did you get these?"
"I used my maryoku to knock them from the trees," Günter explained, indicating the tallest trees that were now bare of a few fruit.
Gwendal took the pair over to the stone, taking care to move the harvested fruit before he took one of the coconuts, set it on the hard surface just on the edge, and then with a strong cut of his sword neatly sliced it in half. He lost most of the water, but the husk and the fruited walls inside were whole enough to hold liquid.
"We can drink the coconut water, correct?"
Günter looked up from his current task. "Yes, but not too much of it. The water is sweet and refreshing, but too much of the sugar and we will dehydrate. I've read that it is a common mistake amongst travelers to tropical lands who subsist on something meant to be a treat only to become ill from dehydration later."
"It is still good to know that we have a variety in what we can drink though."
"As long as coconuts are ripe, I suppose it will be a nice diversion."
Gwendal picked up Günter's knife that had been left on the stone and used it to cut pieces of the white fruit away while leaving enough of the rind intact to be a suitable water trap.
"I also read," Günter said, "that the shells are a good source of fuel for the fire, and that the husk fibers can be used to make mats and bedding...although we do have that packing material from the crate to use as a bed. It's wide enough for both of us to share, I believe...unless your sleeping habits mirror Wolfram's."
"I stay to my side," Gwendal answered quietly, although he felt a dither of shyness run through his body at the prospect of sharing a bed with someone who was not an invading younger sibling who was having problems sleeping due to night terrors; and those instances seemed lifetimes ago considering neither Conrart or Wolfram liked to bring those particular stories up (their mother on the other hand...).
It was stupid to act like that, he supposed, as he carried the two halves into the trees searching for a vine to cut. What was the difference of laying next to someone on a pallet to stay warm and huddling together in a cave as they had last night? It meant nothing. It was only a matter of survival. Even Günter, with all his immersion in modesty and etiquette would agree. They were both trained soldiers who needed to survive, and nothing more would be implied from that when sharing a bed.
He hoped and resolved not to think any further on the subject as he carried the water filled halves back to the camp.
As dinner cooked, Gwendal took it upon himself to set up their sleeping area. He unfolded the thick material from the crate and saw that Günter had been correct in stating that it was large enough for the both of them.
Then he took some of the longer, flatter pieces of wood they had salvaged from the wreck and arranged them as best as possible in a manner so that the pallet would not be directly on the sand. And then, with a bit of his own magic, he elevated the ground underneath the pallet enough so that it would be safe in case the high tides managed to come this far to their camp.
"Dinner is ready," Günter called, and Gwendal gladly went to sit by the fire.
To Be Continued...