High School DxD is a Japanese light novel series written by Ichiei Ishibumi and illustrated by Miyama-Zero. The Fate series is owned by Type-Moon. I do not own any of the characters mentioned from both series. The only things I own are the ideas that popped into my head for this story and whatever original characters I would create for the story.

My main muses come from Gabriel Blessing and Marcus Galen Sands, authors of great works themselves. This story is meant to be a work of pure fiction made solely for fun, constructive reviews will be welcomed, flames will be ignored. Any references to characters in real-life are purely coincidental and should not be taken seriously. If I could make money out of my ideas, it would be nice...

Root Damn It!


In the darkness, a coffin laid covered in dust and cobwebs, with the lid already open, the occupant with his arms crossed across his chest opened his eyes and sat up with a cough that threw out cobwebs and dust. Slowly, the individual crawled out of the coffin and moved to a table with a dusty desktop computer that had been writing some text for the past few months. With a shaking finger, the individual pressed a button to submit the entry before laying down on the seat to rest.

"Here is a new chapter for the year..."

Published: December 22 2022

Chapter 13: The Start of a Nightmare

Part 1







It was these sensations and emotions that stayed with the boy as he trudged through the burning wreckage that surrounded him, his mind broken from the agony of moving while trying to block out the screams that echoed around him. He barely acknowledged the last breaths of the people he went past, nor the state of their burnt bodies. All he knew was that he had to keep moving or he would die. Each step felt like it would be his last, and in his desire to live, he would lose something in return.

His memories.

His emotions.

His very self.

He was empty, in his mind, body, and soul. He could not feel anything on his boy or his emotions…

He was just barely hanging on…

A pained gasp left his lips as he crashed on his knees, covering his ears to drown out the screams, all while bodies crawled up to him, grabbing him by the limbs and dragged him to the ground, forcing him to see their burning visages as they screamed in front of him, cursing him for living as they were dying in agony. And in the background was the towering mess of darkness and mud, looking down like a vengeful god about to smite him down with the raised arm. The boy tried to move, only to find himself further restrained by arms and hands holding him down. The horrifying part of that were the bodies attached to said hands and arms; most were disfigured or burnt corpses that showed the bones beneath cracked flesh, some looked like they had been covered in acidic mud with how the sludge was coming off them and a few losing their arms or eyeballs from the movement.

"Why do you not stop?"

The boy had a hard time breathing as he was slowly dragged to the gigantic pillar, his actions to pull free merely antagonizing his captors into gripping him harder. The boy then sled down a sickening pool of murky mud that felt so wrong to his skin with the bodies of the captors accelerating the drop.

"Why did you get to live?"

The boy had reached the middle of the pool, his body restrained by the hands that now held him off the surface and raised to face the pillar which now had a giant globe of darkness in the middle of the pillar, looking like a void that consumed all light and creation and eerily like an eye glaring down at him that did not like the one person that had survived the disaster.

"Who gAve You the RiGht to Be HaPPy?"

At the base of that pillar, the mud split to allow some figures to come out and descend down to the pit where the boy was. As they drew closer, the boy could see their features clearer. A man with rough hair dressed in dark clothes and a trench coat; a woman with long white hair in a white dress, along with a little girl in a small dress; a young woman with dark hair tied into twin tails and dressed in a red shirt with black skirt; and another young woman with purple hair and long gown like clothing. But all of them have different types of wounds or spell damage on them, and their eyes were black with veins surrounding their eyes and black blood leaking out of their noses, ears and mouths.

"WhY diD You LeAVe US to DiE!"

All of them came to the boy and took over the pulling, making him gasp in pain as he could feel his limbs wanting to tear from his body. His head was grabbed roughly and he was forced to face the young woman with the purple hair staring at him with hated eyes before she screamed just as they all pulled at the same time to tear him apart, leaving the head in her hands.

"Why DiDN't YoU sAve USSSS!"



Pain erupted from my head as I got up too quickly from the bed at an angle and hit the wall hard before dry-heaving from the contents of that nightmare. Without meaning to, I let loose a string of colorful vocabulary I had learned over the years in a very constructive manner that would likely have Sona, Griselda and a couple of others wash my mouth with soap and cleaning products for my "dirty mouth" as they would put it. Not that I would care much for the moment from both the pain and that nightmare I just had. After that somewhat therapeutic session, I took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly before getting up from the bed and made my way to the bathroom to wash off the cold sweat off my face. It took more water than required, but it got my senses calmed down from the adrenaline in my veins.

"Damn it." I gritted my teeth while gripping the sink, trying to sort through the images that came about from that nightmare. I had been having that nightmare for the past couple of weeks, and while I was more or less able to ignore most of it, it has been disrupting my sleep and testing my mental faculties during the day. It has gotten to the point that I was considering taking a few days of medical leave to handle this. This was too repetitive to be a regular nightmare, and that meant two things in my life.

First idea, it was a premonition of bad things to come. Something that I was unfortunately very familiar with from my travels.

Second idea, there was a magus who had the ability to curse his targets with nightmares that could potentially escalate to bringing them to reality. This was less common than one would consider when it came to the Magus of my world; for one, one would require a fair amount of prana to overcome the magic resistance of even an E-Rank magus, and two, contrary to the belief, there were no easy spells to curse a man to have nightmares. One needed a ritual to perform the task and the target's blood or prana signature to invoke the nightmare curse on the target. That was the case for me when some tried to come after me with that type of spellwork, and only one managed to curse me long enough to evade me for six months before I dragged his ass back to the Clock Tower for processing.

The issue with this world though? With all the supernatural beings and types of powers involved, there was a good chance that someone could have a Sacred Gear designed to give nightmares to all in the vicinity, if not a Devil or an actual god being the perpetrator for this action. And if the past few nights were any indicator, that would likely be the case.

I checked the clock as I left the bathroom and sighed. I was too wound up from the nightmare to be able to sleep, and based on the timing, it would be a futile endeavour. I might as well get started on breakfast before Mitelt and the others got up.

And I would bet they too would need strong caffeine.

Part 2

"In local news, there are four more road accidents with drivers suddenly collapsing while driving without warning." The news anchor announced on the television while displaying video footage of road crashes with medical staff moving gurneys with people strapped to them. "The recent streak of accidents are yet another sign of an unusual phenomenon that has been hitting Southern Japan for the past few days now. Health experts are concerned with the recent increase in accidents and suicides resulting from sleep deprivation and depression. In certain prefectures, there are also a number of murders that have been increasing."

"Can you turn it off?" I followed that suggestion before turning to Mitelt who was nursing a big cup of coffee with her hair in a mess and bloodshot eyes. Much like me, she had not had much sleep for the past few days, and it was showing. At least the herbs growing out back had scents that helped to calm her down enough to talk without getting a light spear to the face.

"There is clearly something going on. There have been too many of these incidents going on." I placed a big cup of caffeine on my end of the table while breaking a packet of dried herbs to help calm her down further. It certainly worked given how the girl took a deep breath and let out a slightly grateful sigh with her shoulders slightly slumping.

"The number of cases appears to be concentrated on big populations or small towns." Mitelt gave her answer after taking a big gulp of her coffee. "And the people always start with insomnia and lethargy. After that, each of them start getting into unusual accidents, suicides, otherwise become possible homicidal maniacs due to losing whatever mental faculties."

"What is worrying is the speed and direction of these cases." I frowned as I recalled the news information.

"It is coming straight for Kuoh Town, and unless I am off my mark, whoever or whatever is doing this is already in town." Mitelt took another gulp. "I would say that they conducted these attacks closer to town first to test the range before going inside to continue, likely with the intention to come at the devils and other denizens, perhaps get them to lose control of their abilities from the lack of sleep and destroy the general area on their own and maybe started another war without being noticed."

And wasn't that the story of my life? Someone trying to commit mass destruction.

"We will need to warn the others and see if we can get into contact with Azazel." I took a sip of my own batch of caffeine. "Considering all that has happened in this town over the past few months, I would say that we likely have someone with a Sacred Gear attacking us. He may know which one it is and help to narrow down the possible suspects."

"Quite likely." Mitelt cracked her neck with a wince. "Hopefully he picks up the damn phone." I merely shook the packet of dried herbs to get the scent going while handing her a homemade remedy to better calm her nerves. She had been getting a touch short tempered from the lack of sleep, which thankfully was excused by Kano and Kawako as her time of the month. The resulting discussion the old woman had with the seemingly young girl had Mitelt blushing deep red and her drowsiness temporarily removed from the sheer embarrassment alone. Even now, if she was feeling drowsy and needed a burst of adrenaline, a reminder of that discussion helped to some extent.

Some knocks at the door reminded me of our neighbours, so I got up to open it, revealing a pair of exorcist apprentices and one senior exorcist, each one looking and likely feeling the same as the rest of us. Xenovia and Irina in particular looked a little like zombies with how pale they looked as they dragged their feet to the table while groaning with their arms dangling by their sides. Griselda still looked okay outside of the bloodshot eyes that gave her a slightly deranged look.

"Mild strength with a calming effect, or extra strong?" I ask the question as my greeting.

"Mild for me, young man." Griselda answered while looking at the junior exorcists. "I believe they could use the strong version for the morning."

"Right then, drinks of varying strengths along with breakfast. Coming right up." I went to the kitchen and went about with the tasks, my hands getting busy with the chopping and cooking to keep my mind focused as the coffee was being brewed. It may have been a few years, but I was used to doing the cooking even with the lack of sleep during my time at the bar back home. It did not take long until the others had their cups of caffeine and the girls looked less like death had warmed over them, especially when they had some food in their stomachs to aid with energy.

"I think it is safe to say that there is something or someone trying to attack the populace." I opened up the conversation with that statement.

"Yes, and I have tested both the food sources and the water supply for contaminants." Griselda added on her part. "Nothing to suggest formulas, potions or even spells."

"If it is air, that would be problematic." I muttered. "But I do not think that is the case. I have checked around the districts that have been affected, and one thing I note is that there are a few who do not have those sleeping disorders or mental breakdowns." Kano and Kawako popped to mind; they did not have any issues sleeping and have experienced no nightmares or hallucinations during the time I was working when this was happening. "If it is a person doing this, whoever they are, I think they need to know their targets beforehand to get this going on."

"True, not all the people around here are affected. But the young ones in the elementary to those in high school seemed to be getting affected more." Griselda added her observations. "Presuming that the person in question does not know who we are, the age range would suggest that they are hoping to get us via the general age group."

"Do we know if any others that we know that are not from around here are affected?" Mitelt asked, now a little calmer with some food and coffee in her.

"Thus far, none. But I did get some information from the Church that there have been similar cases on their end, but the timing is different and sporadic at best." Griselda answered.

"A few of our old classmates did have the similar symptoms now that I think about it." Irina spoke out at this point, looking a little better than before, and certainly a lot better than Xenovia who looked one step away from introducing her face to her plate of food. "At the time, I thought it was the stress of the training we had to go through. Some were going through the Paladin Apprenticeship that was physically demanding and forced them to go out of their comfort zone when it came to monster slaying. That was a few months before Xenovia and I were tasked to deal with Excalibur." Griselda nodded while considering her words.

"That is true, I have not considered that. I would need to confirm this with the council on this. If it is still going on, we may need to isolate the affected until we can get to the root of this." the woman talked while sipping her drink. "What do you think, Xenovia?" The girl in question had the comical timing to snore lightly before hitting her face into the plate of food and staying there. "Oh dear."

"That is another thing I noted from this." I spoke out while the woman went to move Xenovia back up the chair and start cleaning her face. "The effects mostly work in the night, and sometimes in the day at odd times. This does give us an idea of the working hours of the one affecting us."

"Someone who enjoys his work at night, likely sleeping in the morning to get back his strength." Griselda hummed after cleaning Xenovia's face of scrambled eggs. "We may need to consult with Azazel on this."

"He will be meeting us later, and there is a possibility that someone from the Devil Faction would come along to check on Rias and Sona along with their groups." I answered her.

"In that case, send me the timing so that I can meet you all there. For now though." Griselda picked Xenovia up without so much as a grunt. "I would be taking my daughter and Irina back with me, I would need to excuse them from lessons."

"That is fine, I suppose." I told her. "Given the past few days, I get the feeling the academy may end up cancelling school altogether along with some sort of public announcement that everyone is to be careful at this time."

"Somehow, I get the feeling you would be more right than you realise." Griselda left the apartment on that note with Xenovia in her arms and Irina following her with a light yawn. I turned to Mitelt who appeared more awake now.

"Miltelt, can I ask for you to check on Kano and Kawako? I get the feeling the next few days are going to get hectic." Mitelt took another sip of coffee.

"You are thinking something could go wrong." I nodded at her statement.

"For now they are now safe, but given the rising numbers of cases, they may be next on the line." I answered her, who took another bite of her food to ponder on the situation.

"True, at least I don't have school for now." Mitelt lightly chuckled. "Not to mention that I am way too old for high school these days." I snorted at that true statement. "Better get going, Straight A Student. Can't have your marks going down." I waved her off while going to wash my dishes and prepare for the day.

Hopefully without sleeping on the desk.

Part 3

It was a good thing that Luvia insisted that I learn how to make simple potions for my line of work, because the situation at Kuoh Academy could be described as mercurial.

Everyone was clearly under the effects of sleep deprivation that was causing them to be lethargic and short-tempered. There were a few instances where students walking by staircases were so sleepy that they would most certainly fall down the stairs if not for the runes monitoring and activating to keep them above or catch them in midair to put them at the bottom of the stairs before routinely rewriting their memories to make it seem they walked down of their own volition. Sport Clubs and events were all put on hold in all but name, the members and coaches were just not able to handle the strain. It was only thanks to my scented potions designed to lower stress levels and fatigue along with the devils' spells to disperse the solution across the campus that there were no fights or major injuries incurred.

Ultimately what I said came true. The principal had canceled lessons for the afternoon and got the teachers to gather the students for a school assembly where he told us that all would be doing home schooling until the situation was settled. Said situation looked worse with health inspectors having come about with one dressed in a goddamn Hazmat Suit to boot. That started rumours of biological gases being used in the area and possible terrorism.

And naturally, the owners of the school were not happy with the disruption.

"We really need to know who or what is doing this." It would be more effective for Sona if she did not look like she had a tussle with Berserker Lancelot and barely survived getting massacred by Caster Medea. Her eyes were certainly looking bloodshot, her normally tidy hair looking like a bush, and she was sitting more for her arms to act as braces to force her head up and to some extent keep her awake as she looked at us in the student council room.

We were all in the stated room after the students had left the academy along with most of the teachers, Sona having granted the excuse for us to the teachers as needing to clarify something. The other teachers did not really give much of a thought on her words, more concerned with getting home themselves to catch some shuteye. That left us along with Griselda and the other exorcists who had arrived a few minutes ago to meet up with us. Rias and her peerage looked like they had gone through one of my training regimes without any sleep and time to relax, with Rias looking like the crimson haired cousin of Sadako with the hair covering her face and one eye peeking out of the curtain of hair.

Like I needed more reasons to not sleep for the night.

The rest of Sona's Peerage did not look their best either, with Megumi and Tomoe dozing and jerking themselves awake at times, and Saji dozing off temporarily before getting woken up via slamming his head on the table by accident. What worried me the most was Tsubaki's reaction to this: during this period, she kept shirking to the sides and nearer to her friends whenever a male student walked past her, and her arms kept wrapping themselves around her protectively. The most telling reaction was a practice session after school among the devils when she fell to the ground from exhaustion and Saji went to help her up only for her to scream and lash out at someone that only she could see. Of the lot, only Sona seemed to know what was happening and immediately left with her to somewhere else to calm her down.

I had only seen reactions like that from women who had been held by some of the more depraved magus and selective Dead Apostles. I do not want to know what happened in her past but I would need to keep an eye out for her.

"Can I confirm that some are not affected as much as others?" I asked while looking at the group of devils. It was interesting to see Asia and Ruruko merely acting like they were drowsy, while on the other end of the scale, a few like Akeno, Kiba and Sona were acting like cranky old people. Koneko seemed to be in the middle but leaning towards the worse end of the spectrum with how much she was hissing like a cat at times. Ise was looking a little red-eyed from the lack of sleep and possibly crying from the nightmares, and judging from the look, I could make a guess as to what was making him this way.

"It would seem so." Reya was the one who answered, being one of the few that somehow managed to function under the lack of sleep. I was also cursing my hormones at the sight of her with the hair slightly messy, slightly flushed face, and half-open eyes that somehow made my mind go to areas that would have Rin cursing me to hell and back for thinking such thoughts. "For some, they are just having symptoms similar to insomnia."

"If that is the case, then it is likely to be based on a person's past and bad memories." I frowned while mentally going through the list of curses, spells and even Noble Phantasms that could do that. "There are a few spells and rituals that can do such a thing, and if you factored the randomness of Sacred Gears, that would be an even bigger pool."

"Shirou is correct on this point." We all turned to find Azazel who had walked into the room, his stern expression being a departure from the usual cocky smirk he would have. "There are a number of methods to induce nightmares from your past or twist your memories into bad ones. And if we are talking about Sacred Gears, I can think of a few right off the bat."

"From your expression, it is not a good thing." Rias remarked, his presence seemingly energising her enough in the hopes of getting answers.

"Modestly speaking, I am the leading expert when it comes to Sacred Gears. And I can tell you that Father was an absolute genius in creating them to help with the world in the past, but at the same time, I need to question some of his ideas when it comes to some gears." Azazel took a chair and turned to us. "Much like the Boosted Gear and Divine Dividing, there are Sacred Gears that have the spirits or other supernatural beings trapped inside them to utilize their powers. One of the Longinus has the spirit of the Nemean Lion while your friend over there has a portion of Vitra's soul in it."

"There are three Sacred Gears that I know of that allow the user to make the targets relieve the worst of memories or suffer nightmares for a long time." Azazel pointed a finger at the board where a marker pen floated to start writing. "I will start with the least likely one. Moonlight Cradle, a Sacred Gear that has some influence from the Asian Moon Gods and Goddesses, specifically Tsukuyomi whom God had encountered in the past and took a part of his powers from a fight they had. It is an ocular type gear that has the primary power of illusions, but its usefulness comes from the imagination of the user. Its base abilities at the strongest allows the user to seemingly drag real time seconds into hours worth of torture if they so wished."

"That sounds like something from an anime for some reason." Ise muttered while we pondered on that ability.

"The second is called Epiales Mist. It comes from one of the Greek spirits dealing with nightmares, and as the name suggests, it brings out a mist to induce the targets into a deep sleep that will bring out their deepest nightmares. It is powerful in its own way, but it is very showy in the activation of the power. Most of you will notice it right away, and this one does not discriminate between friends or foes, all will fall under the spell. So far, no one has achieved a Balance Breaker with this gear." Azazel paused to write it down and let us consider the descriptions.

"Could someone get a Balance Breaker from this after all this time?" Asia asked while raising her hand like she was in class.

"Perhaps, but it would depend on the user actually achieving something with Epiales Mist." Azazel scratched his beard. "Honestly, Epiales Mist is one Sacred Gear that is actually considered lower-tier despite the type of powers it has. The nightmares induced from this gear are problematic, but they can be handled with some clues. Only one person in history got a Sub-Species Gear out of it, but it was considered a joke with how limited the functions were, and the guy died within a month of obtaining it."

"So scratch this gear off but be wary." Rias remarked.

"Yes. The last Sacred Gear on the list is named Nightmare Widow, and honestly this is the one gear I am really praying that it is not being used." Azazel grimaced at this point. "This is one of those gears that I genuinely question Father's sanity in creating this."

"With our luck?" I snorted.

"True." Azazel took a breath and continued. "Nightmare Widow was created with one of the spawn of Ungoliant, the darker personification of Night and Dreams. Yes, the same Ungoliant you might know from Tolkien's stories." Azazel remarked from watching Reya's expression of recognition. "Much of Tolkien's understanding of the character were from old texts on mythology depicting Ungoliant. You know of Shelob, written as the last surviving daughter who attacked Frodo. In actual fact, Ungoliant had a few sons and daughters back in the past. One of the daughters had attacked one of the angels and in response, Father had imprisoned the creature into the gear. The gear itself has capabilities similar to stories of dreamcatchers and is meant to ensnare the minds of those attacking Father's armies."

"I am guessing something went wrong." Momo spoke.

"Depends on your view. I believe some would put it as gone horribly right." Azazel looked very grim on this. "The spider creature inside the gear, Nezliant in the common tongue, was very angry to be stuffed into the gear. Her hatred managed to pervert some parts of Father's creation, making it something of a cursed gear to the users. It would twist their mind to ensnare targets to control and attack others. With the dream catching ability, Nezliant could trap the target's mind in a never ending loop to force them to face their nightmares until they break. And part of the ability skill set includes extracting the life force of the victims when they are at the height of fear."

"That is definitely not good." Understatement of the year, Saji.

"It gets worse." Of course it gets worse, Root Forbid anything going right in a developing crisis. "Spiders descending from Ungoliant have a genetic memory that goes on for centuries, meaning all of them would have the same memories as Ungoliant himself with all the strengths and experience."

"Uh…" Ise, Saji and Asia looked confused at that description.

"Think of it as the original Ungoliant creating clones of himself and passing over all that goes on his head each time he has children." I simplified the description for them. "In essence, we will be fighting not so much Ungoliant's children as more Ungoliant himself, possibly in a younger and stronger body. Well, if he had a body outside of the Sacred Gear."

"Ah." The trio nodded as one from the answer.

"Not just that. All of Ungoliant's spawn have the same abilities, so Nezliant was a force to be reckoned even by some of the upper echelons of Grigori or Devils. The corruption she has before being stuffed into the gear and how she induces in her users makes Nightmare Widow one of the rare few Sacred Gears to be incarnated in users with dispositions to commit serious crimes or have a possible psychopathic nature." Azazel continued talking before taking the cup of tea provided by Akeno to quench his thirst. "And that is just the base form of Nightmare Widow. The Balance Breakers are a problem." I frowned at that wording, and from the looks of Griselda's frown, she caught it too.

"You used the plural of the Balance Breaker." She mentioned. Azazel nodded.

"That is intentional, because Nightmare Widow does not follow convention even by stated manners." He pointed to the known users of Sacred Gears in the group. "For all the potential they possess, all Sacred Gears have to follow a general style of evolution to go into Balance Breaker. They are more or less standard like the Welsh Dragon Boost Gear and Mirror Alice. Some like Kiba's Sword Birth and Shirou's Hell Trident go into a Sub-Species type of Gear, either from the start or into Balance Breaker. Nightmare Widow throws that out of the window."

"How so?" Sona asked tersely.

"In the entire history, not one user of Nightmare Widow has a standard Balance Breaker. All the users have very different evolutions to the gear, which I am suspecting to be the influence of Nezliant herself. She may be trying to gain more power by influencing her users in different manners to force out a Balance Breaker to ensure the best results." Azazel explained with a hand through his hair, a sign of his own frustration. "Up to this point, the gear has gotten abilities ranging from incorporeal mist to physical spider legs coming out of the back."

"But why do all of that?" Irina asked.

"Maybe she wants out?" Everyone turned to Ise who flushed at the attention. "I mean, I talked with Draig a few times before and he had commented on wanting to have his own body again. If I were trapped in a Sacred Gear and used by others for many years, I would probably try to get out of the gear and get my body back. That is the type of thing that comes out in movies involving evil spirits trying to get back into power." I blinked while considering his words. It was weird, but there was a possibility of it happening. I had encountered a couple of spirits in the past that wanted to get back their old bodies after being trapped in jars or lamps for so long, they would do what they could to do so.

"That is an interesting line of thought." Azazel muttered before shaking his head. "I will think of that later. For now, we have to consider our options on this."

"I have some questions to confirm." I took out a piece of paper containing some questions I had from this. "Given that you were elsewhere, have you experienced any of these nightmares during this period?"

"No, I had not gotten them, even when I was going back and forth between this town and the headquarters." Azazel answered. "Either the user has yet to determine my presence, which is unlikely given how open the accords were, or my constant leaving prevents my capture."

"Hmm." I turned to Sona. "How about Serafall? Is she safe?"

"Yes, she too has not experienced any of this." Sona lightly shook her head considering the question. "She even attempted to stay two days before going back, and she did not have the symptoms. I, on the other hand, still have it even when I was in the Underworld for some time."

"That means this is more localised." I wrote some notes before continuing. "Could this be a spell, curse or even a ritual doing this instead of a Sacred Gear?"

"Possible. There are a good number that could do that." Azazel observed while leaning in his chair. "But most would require something to anchor the effects to the person in question. Given how widespread this is in Japan, I would think that it would be a very strenuous endeavor to go after so many regular people, not to mention expensive if you are doing a ritual."

"Okay, so that cancels out the other questions." I nodded while scratching out the others I had considered depending on the answers. "There is one other question, and based on what you told us about the Sacred Gears, this may be more relevant." Azazel waved a hand to me.

"So far, most of us appear to be suffering nightmares or visions of bad memories from the past, likely exaggerated to an extreme point to make us suffer from insomnia and possibly react badly. There are cases of people acting like they have their darker aspects come out to take over." I looked at the former governor "Am I right in saying that of the three, Nightmare Widow is the likely culprit?" Azazel sat up straight and returned the look.

"Are you certain of the symptoms?" I passed the paper to him with all the descriptions I could get from everyone having the issues, and waited for his reply.


Well, that answered it.

Azazel stood up suddenly from the chair and looked at us. "You need to stay together during this period, no one should be alone at all, especially at night." He then turned to me. "I do not suppose you got something to help them get better of sorts?"

"I do not know enough of the issue, but I still have some general herbal remedies to at least ease them in. I might have a few artefacts or weapons to help lessen the effects but I would need to experiment a little. Many of them have holy properties." I replied while going through my reality marble for the right combination. If I was going to have devil tenants coming over, I would need to make sure the Noble Phantasms I have at hand do not accidentally burn them through the treatment.

"As long as you guys stay close together, that is fine. I know that the girls of Rias's peerage are staying with Issei, and the exorcists are staying with you, but I do not know about the Sitri group." Azazel spoke. "Ideally, you should stick together. If it is possible for the Sitri group to stay with you, you could get more chances to test out the ideas, Shirou." That got the said peerage wake up a little at that.

"Staying with Emiya-kun?" Tsubasa tapped her chin while looking at me like she was inspecting the goods for some reason. "I might get around that. My place is getting a little noisy with the nearby construction."

"YAH! Sleepover at Emiya's!" Tomoe cheered before crashing her face to the table top. "Owie~ So sleepy." Girl, please hold your energy.

"Ara Ara, what dastardly plans do you have for us?" Really Momo? You want to pull that shit right now with that voice and face? Look what you did to Reya and Tsubaki, they were currently not looking me in the eye! And why was Saji giving me the stink eye while Ruruko was giving me a thumbs up?

"Do you have space or vacancies in that building?" Thank you, Sona, for being level-headed and practical.

"Currently no one else is staying at the building, so the apartments on the first level and some on the second are free. If you do not mind the space constraints, the rooms are ideal for two people sharing. Xenovia, Irina are taking one apartment and Griselda has the second on the same level as mine." I should know since I was helping the owner to maintain the building as a means to cut down costs, and it helped to know whether I needed the extra space for my work or in need of ambushes. "But is it alright with you and your group? I mean, I don't mind extra neighbours, but wouldn't you be safer back in your actual home in Hell?"

"As stated earlier, we would still have nightmares even if we are elsewhere. And we would likely be in isolation if we were to do so." Sona paused to let out a jaw-dropping yawn. "And the main issue is that I am co-owners of this land with Rias, neither of us can leave this town. There is a bit of politics going on and we can't go without putting the ownership into our siblings' hands. That is telling their rivals that we are not ready and will come after them."

"Devil politics? Perfect, just perfect." I placed fingers on the bridge of my nose and breathed slowly through. I was reminded of my time at the Clock Tower where a single weakness in perception will draw the vultures and piranhas on the poor magus and tear them down the social ladder so that they would have a harder time climbing back up, time that would give their opponents to build up their own reputation and connections from whatever they could grab from their targets.

"Hmm." Sona turned to the Fallen Angel. "You are certain that whatever is going on requires us to be in a group?"

"Based on the descriptions I got from Shirou, it would be best to have someone nearby to keep you from going out of control and accidentally using your powers." Azazel paced the room while explaining. "In the event that Nightmare Widow is in play, you should not be alone at all. One common problem with the users is their desire to seemingly hunt and corner their victims so that they could get the maximum amount of fear coming off them and then get their life force. And I do know some female victims do not have a peaceful ending if you would." I do not need the subtlety to know what he meant. I had encountered those types of creeps in my hunts.

"I see." Sona sighed heavily before looking at me. "In that case, when can you prepare the apartments for us? I will pay our share of the rent and handle the owner if needed."

"All I need to do is restart the water supply and connect the power to the apartments, and get some of the paperwork on them." I mentally thought through what was needed. "It should not take more than a few hours."

"If it is that quick, perhaps we can come over by the evening." Sona gave a smile for the first time for the day, a tired one but still a smile. "We will be in your care until this is over." The others gave their replies while Azazel discussed the same matter with Rias. I only had to wonder about the current situation we were in, and how Mitelt was going to react knowing the others were coming to stay over.

Not to mention having the really bad feeling that this situation we were in was going to get very problematic in the future.

Part 4

"Damn this project and the blasted members!" Kanosuke Sano cursed as he left the company while massaging his forehead, lamenting the fact that he had to deal with the late shift because five of his colleagues decided to call in sick at roughly the same time and he was the only other person who knew how to handle the project that had the tight deadline. Normally he would be able to handle it, he was no stranger to sudden call ups or deadlines that had been pushed up without warning, but he had not had a decent sleep the past week, and it was affecting his eating and his overall mood. It was only through strict control of his emotions that he was able to answer his boss's questions and calls, and with a personal coffee dispenser, he was able to get the project done and signed off with 5 minutes before midnight. Sero was at least able to get the week off with his boss's blessings, but the others may not be so lucky, if he were to understand the very dark mumbling made by the boss.

Then again everyone was getting testy these few days. For some odd reason, plenty were having nightmares plaguing them and for a few, it appeared to be bleeding into their lives as hallucinations that would cause them to freak out suddenly. The news on this was getting quite morbid, and there were rumors and gossip on possible conspiracies. Not that Sano cared about that, all he wanted right now was to get some decent shuteye without having nightmares of his past.

A past that he sought to bury in the back of his mind.

The sound of bottles clinking startled Sano, making him realise that he had wandered aimlessly in his thoughts and was now by the junction leading to the other district, in the opposite direction of the train station that he intended to go to. He cursed at his lack of focus and wasted time to get back when the sounds of bottles repeated, this time closer to him. His nerves that were already slightly frayed from the lack of sleep got jolted, and Sero could feel the hair on his arms standing up despite it being a warm night, and he could even see the mist coming out of his mouth when he exhaled.

"What's going on?" Sero rubbed his arms as he looked about the street, his eyes moving about him. He tried to assure himself that he was just imagining things and he just needed to get moving to the train station to get back home, but it was not fully successful given that his instincts were screaming at him to leave right that instant. He was totally fine with that and he started to walk down the street to get to the station when the sounds of bottle clinking were now accompanied by the sounds of hard breathing.

"Damn drunks must be out and about." Sato muttered as his pace got quicker. His heart was slightly pounding from both the exertion and the shot of adrenaline kicking in when the lamps seemed to be mocking him for his fright by beginning to flicker and throwing the street into brief darkness. The man was starting to run when he skidded to a stop at the sight of something in front of him, the flickering lights making it hard for him to see what it was. "Hello? Who's there?"

In front of him was some odd pile of clothes that had empty bottles surrounding it haphazardly. He would have dismissed it if not for the slow rise and fall that showed there was something breathing under it. In the dim lighting, Sato could see what appeared to be patches of blood all over it that got alarm bells ringing in his head. The pile shifted a few more times, prompting him to consider moving away, which he did, except he somehow came back to the pile by the second traffic light. He tried this a second time only to end up back to the same place even quicker this time.

"The fuck is going on here?" Sato turned on his feet to try and understand why he kept returning to that pile of clothes. "Is anyone there? Help! I'm trapped!"

"Oh? Are you scared? Want a drink?"

Sato felt chills down his spine just from hearing that raspy voice that sounded like the owner had not spoken for years. He slowly turned to the thing that was scaring him as the clothes shifted and a skinny arm that looked very pale emerged from it slowly to touch the ground, followed by another arm that was mostly the same outside of some open cuts that was bleeding out like open faucets. The pile shifted once more before a head with shaggy black hair emerged with dust and roaches coming off it. It then looked up to Sato who stepped back not only in disgust from the display, but also in horrified recognition.

"No, it can't be."

"Oh, why can't it?" The face of the now identified woman appeared to crack from the smile she gave out, with a centipede coming out of the open wound from the neck and crawling into the cut on one side of the cheek before she clenched her jaws to crush it and supposedly chew on it. "You could not have forgotten about me so quickly, have you? I remember you very well."

"You can't be here." Sato backed away from her as his heart pounded painfully and an odd ringing started to go off in his head. "You can't be, you are supposed to be dead!"

"Ah, that's right. You thought that? I guess it is not surprising, after all" The smile dropped from the woman's face and got replaced by a sneer worthy of an Aonyobo from Japanese mythology. "You were the one who killed me."

"No, you cannot be real. This must be a dream!" Sato tried to slap himself in desperation to wake up, only to feel the stinging pain.

"Why should it be a dream for you?" The woman started to crawl to him like some demented reenactment of Sadako doing her signature floor crawl. "You came onto me in the bar even when I refused your company. You kept giving me drinks to make me drunk, and then you dragged me away to have your way with me. I tried to run away from you, but you would not leave me be. And when you were done with me, you left me to get hit by the truck!"

"Stay away from me!" Sato turned on his heel and ran as hard as he could from the woman, his head aching from the weird ringing sound that was persisting. The sounds of something rustling prompted him to turn his head briefly only to turn back and focus on running away from the woman that was somehow managing to keep up with him on all fours like some demented creature.

"WHO SAID YOU COULD RUN FROM ME!" The woman screeched as she kept coming closer to him, her hands reaching out and just missing him by a finger. Sato did not stop until he saw a dumpster by the wall a few feet in front of him. A burst of adrenaline helped to drive him take a leap off the ground, just to avoid another grab, stepped on the dumpster and jumped high to grab the ledge and use the momentum to propel him over the wall. Sato dropped into a roll upon hitting the ground and hissed from the glass cutting into the side, but it was worth it as he could hear the woman shrieking in rage for losing her prey. That said, Sato did not want to press his luck and decided to hightail it back to the station which he could see in the distance.

"Just got to get home." Sato lightly jogged to get his heart going normally, the adrenaline rush now leaving his system and making him slightly lethargic. That might contribute to him not paying enough attention to see the hand reaching out from the shadows and grabbing his leg, causing him to fall to the ground. He barely got a chance to orient himself when he felt something pierce his back and he got lifted into the air and thrown into the wall.

"Missed me, my love?" Sato felt his heart drop as he turned to face the dead woman coming over to him with a demented smile. "Remember these words? Nowhere to run, little mouse." Sato grimaced from both the pain of moving backwards and the sudden return of the ringing sound in his head. His hand felt something and he instinctively grabbed it hard and swung just as the woman reached for his face. The sounds of broken glass filled the silence as he gripped the broken end of the bottle tightly.

"Ah, how nostalgic." The woman turned her head slowly with the previous wound now wide open for him to see the sharp teeth glistening through it, the lighting giving her a very demonic look. She reached up to touch the wound and drew back the hand to see the blood. "Just like the last time when you killed me with a bottle. Only this time," her eyes gleamed a deep crimson as her fingernails extended into sharp claws. "I can pay you back in full." With a snarl, she leaped forward like an animal and stabbed her hand entirely into Sato's stomach, claws and all. That broke whatever restraint he had left, causing him to retaliate with the broken bottle to stab her back even as his body was getting torn apart and his bowels were spilling out. The area was filled with his screams and the demented laughter of the woman along with the odd ringing that went on well into the night.

The noise would have gotten a few people in the nearby blocks to call the police, but the officers would only investigate the disturbance a few hours later due to a fire that broke out elsewhere and then find what was left of Sato at the crack of dawn, with the only part of him remotely intact for identification being his head displaying an expression of absolute fear and despair. His body was so mutilated that the officers on site had trouble figuring out if it was by an attack or by self mutilation based on the bottle that had his blood on the tips of the glass. The officers and paramedics on the scene would be too busy dealing with this and emptying out their stomachs to notice a silver spider crawling away from the scene and to a person in the shadows of an alleyway. The person bent down to pick it up and cooed at it before walking away unnoticed, but if one listened closely, they would hear the sounds of insects clicking.


=====Author's Notes=====

Hello to you all, it has taken me a while, but I am able to get this out as an early Christmas Present to you all. As a number of you had told me, I have decided to split the super long chapter that I had been working for the past couple of years into smaller ones and updating them accordingly. This is sort of the beginning of the new arc so it may be lackluster. Writer's block is still a bitch, hopefully my muse gets better. At least I do not have Covid anymore.

So there you have it, this is my new chapter. Hope you enjoy reading it. Please Rate, Review and hopefully continue following the story. Enjoy your holidays people and stay safe out there.

And I put my pen down for now.

(Going back to the coffin to hibernate...)

Update Dec 23 2022: Thank you user bobthenerd for the text error.