Disclaimer:

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!


~~AN~~

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 new year, and it is not a joke chapter..."


Published: April 1 2023

Chapter 14: The Webs of a Nightmare


Part 1

"This child has cursed eyes."

"Did you hear? She cannot exorcise even the most basic of demons."

"Worse than that, she seems to be summoning them out of mirrors."

"Well, what do you expect from a branch member of the group that can't keep themselves safe?"

"She is such a weirdo!"

"You are a failure among failures."

The young girl clamped her hands to her ears and shut her eyes as the voices of all those in her family and relations kept coming at her with maliciousness, constantly degrading her due to her lack of talent in the art of exorcism, and more worryingly, the ability to summon demons from mirrors. She was already the outcast of the clan known for bringing out top exorcists for Japan, and being a branch member did not help her status at all. Combined that with her ability to summon demons, she would not have been of much use and was likely to be exiled.

She just wanted to be free!

"I don't think so, my dear."

Chills ran down her spine as the girl got up from her spot and swirled around trying to find the owner of the voice and a way out of the darkness she was in. She then tried to run aimlessly in said darkness, just praying that it would get her away from the voice.

"There is no escaping me."

The girl slided to a halt as spectral hands appeared from in the darkness and grabbed her by the limbs, raising her off the ground briefly before pinning her on her back. She squirmed as other hands reached for her clothes and one hand wrapped its fingers around her neck.

"Since you can't even use the arts to rid demons, you only have one purpose left."

"No, please, stop!" The girl cried as faces of those who kept jeering at her appeared around with empty eyes and cold laughter. The biggest of them all, the one that was in front of her, dwarfed the others significantly.

The face of the one that made her fear her place.

"You know what is needed for the family!"

"NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

"Tsubaki, wake up!"

The girl opened her eyes and nearly knocked her King out with her fist if not for the timely application of a shield spell that protected her face. It was still delivered with enough force to make said shield vibrate hard from the impact and forced Sona to move away briefly. "It's me, Tsubaki! Stop!"

"Sona?" Tsubaki barely held back the second punch at the last second as she blinked a few times before looking around her room. "What?"

"It's okay, you were just having a nightmare." Sona spoke softly as she approached the bed slowly. Tsubaki took a moment to gather herself and looked about, briefly confused by the different decor before remembering where she was currently. Shortly after, a sense of shame filled her body.

"I am sorry." Tsubaki cuddled herself with shaking arms as she tried to contain the pain that came from her memory, feeling as vulnerable as she used to before meeting Sona. Her King merely stepped forward to wrap her arms around Tsubaki and hold her close to her as she patted her back. That action ended up releasing the dam inside of her and Tsubaki started to sob quietly while clutching to her first friend like a lifeline, while Sona continued to sooth her and ignored the wet patch that was spreading on her pajamas. It took a while before Tsubaki regained some form of composure and moved back from her position.

"Sorry, Sona." Tsubaki apologized again while Sona shook her head.

"It is not your fault." Sona conjured up a handkerchief for her Queen to dry herself. "It is apparent though that you are getting affected by whatever is attacking us." Sona frowned at the notable bruises that were on Tsubaki's arms and neck. "And the effects are getting stronger."

"Here you go." A cup of what smelled like Camomile tea was floated towards them, prompting them to see the rest of the peerage looking into the room, each one looking a little ruffled from getting woken up. "Think we all could use this to calm down."

"Thank you, Reya." Sona took the cup and urged Tsubaki to take some. Tsubaki took a while to drink it without the tea spilling from her shaking hands. But it did calm her down enough to properly focus on the situation.

"Unless I am much mistaken, the nightmares are getting stronger." Momo stifled a yawn. "I do not know how long we can keep up like this."

"Let's hope it's not too long." Reya barely answered when the room started to glow a warm green with tinges of orange and all of them started to glow soon after with some relief hitting them. After a while, Sona noted several strands of light attached to each of them, with a sickly green strand getting violently torn off. Briefly though, there was a shot of pain that had all of them clutching their heads as one, only for that to go away just as quickly and for them to actually have clearer thoughts.

"Whoa, that felt better, even with that pain just now." Tsubasa shook her head lightly. "Wonder what was that?"

"If I have to guess, Shirou-kun may have discovered what was attacking us and dealt with it." Momo called up a magic circle to check on her head. "Whatever he did seemed to have stopped it for now. My readings are telling me that we no longer have any irregular magic in our heads."

"Eww! What is this?" Ruruko reached to her ear and grimaced at the wetness, pulling her hand to find something slimy. The other girls reached to grab their ears and grimaced at the same time at the feeling of the slimy liquid that was evidently leaking out of them. All of them grabbed tissues to wipe away the liquid and dry their ears accordingly.

"I guess this is what's left of the thing inside of us." Tsubasa held her tissue with two fingers away from her. "And I really do not want to know what it is."

"If so, then we would need to keep some samples." Sona conjured up a few zip-lock bags and placed her tissue in her own bag. "Here, put yours in. We can examine them in the morning." All of them nodded and placed theirs with various expressions. After that, Reya covered her mouth while letting out a loud yawn.

"Sorry, I think the adrenaline is gone. Let's try to get some sleep." The others also yawned at that and moved to the door. Sona was going to follow suit when she paused to look at Tsubaki holding herself. The taller girl was still a little unresponsive to all that had happened so she only moved when she felt the bed shifted to one side, prompting her to turn to Sona who had a pillow at hand.

"Sona?"

"It has been a while since we last slept together in the same bed." Sona fluffed up her pillow before settling herself in. "Or for that matter, a sleepover in the same place."

"Wait, you do not need to."

"I do not need to, but I do want you to get some sleep." Sona fixed her with a look that Tsubaki remembered from the time she came under her peerage. "It will be like old times, only we are older." Sona reached out and gently pulled Tsubaki back down before stroking her hair. "Just close your eyes, I can watch out for you." Tsubaki wanted to argue but she was feeling drowsy from both the nightmare, the sudden relief in her head, and the light brushing of her hair as her King talked softly in her ears. She could only shut her eyes and think that perhaps they could get a few minutes of good sleep at least.

They got a nice sleep for a few hours instead.

Part 2

"Thank you for the breakfast and the assistance for last night, Shirou." Those were the words that greeted me as I walked out with fresh plates of food from the kitchen to find everyone seated by the tables.

The Sitri Peerage had arrived at the apartment building last week to stay over until this situation with the nightmares were dealt with. Saji was not coming over yet due to him living with his parents without a proper reason to go with the others since the parents or guardians of the students were notified earlier about class being canceled until further notice from the government in light of the situation. So on that note, all the girls from the Sitri Peerage had taken over the entire ground floor of the building for their own use. It was a good thing the owner does not come around that often as Sona had taken one look at the rooms and decided to gut out the entire level to turn into a giant room with some of the floor space modified to have a bigger kitchen to accommodate them, along with a better bathroom. One side of the floor was converted to the living quarters, thus leaving something similar to an open-concept living space for the remaining space. The interior was given a general finish and white coat of paint, but it was admittedly a better design than the old design.

I should consider doing the same for the second level, I know for a fact Mitelt and the exorcists were having the same thoughts if the floor plan with multiple notations laid on the table were of any indication. Even Griselda was getting in on the movement, based on her note of wanting a bigger bathroom.

"It is okay. Glad to help" I placed the plates on the table and made my way to my designated chair for my breakfast, pausing briefly to stiffen the yawn that wanted to come out of my mouth before I sat down.

"Was it bad?" I turned to look at Sona who had evidently been watching my movements.

"I just needed to recharge the artifacts after everyone had their waking moments." I answered while grabbing the strong caffeine. "And it took a while to do so since last night appeared to be a very strong episode for all."

"Apologies for robbing you of your own sleep." Sona apologized.

"This was going to happen one way or another, and at least this time I got something positive from the wards and my weapons. We might get some hours of actual sleep if this works." I waved it off. That actually got the others to stop eating and drinking caffeine to look at me.

"Is it related to the strings that I saw getting cut off last night?" I nodded to Sona's query.

"What can you tell us about this?" Griselda asked as she placed her cup down.

"Rather than talk, it would be better if I show you. Preferably after breakfast because it is nasty." I answered that question. Honestly, what I got from last night's episode of nightmares was not for the faint-hearted and I had to agree with Azazel on wanting to question the reason for the Christian God to create such a gear.

That, and I really put in a lot of effort into making their breakfast.

"That bad, huh? Would it not be better to eat lighter or stop eating for now?" Tsubasa played with her fork as she asked.

"Depends on whether you can eat later. You would still need some strength for the day." I replied back.

"Trust me, you would want to have some food before you see it." Mitelt shivered slightly. "You may not be able to eat your lunch later." The others looked at her in slight confusion and consternation before they decided to heed the warning and eat as much as they could. Not quite the mood I would want for them to enjoy the food but at least the meal would not go to waste. They finished their food and prepared their drinks while I went up the alternate staircase that led to an empty room upstairs to grab the agenda for the day, helpful since I could avoid being seen outside of the apartment for the moment.

"So, what do you have?" Griselda asked as all sat around in the sofas by the big living space while I came back down the steps, all eyes looking to the big box that I was bringing over with a dark cloth covering it. "I imagine that is the creature causing our recent sleeping problems?"

"You could say that." I placed the big box on the table and removed the cloth covering it, prompting everyone else but Mitelt to jump out of their seats, with a couple spitting out their drinks at the sight.

"What the heck is that thing!" Momo pointed at the silver 'thing' that was in a clear box, reinforced with bars on the outside for good measure. Said thing appeared to be a cross between a half-formed larvae and a spider with uneven legs coming out of the main body at odd angles, and the head was swerving around like an axle, making it a very creepy experience for it and likely more disturbing if I did not take the liberty to cover the eyes with a cloth. It still did not stop the mandibles from clicking in irritation for its blindness and likely its inability to affect us.

"This is likely the source, if not the extension, of the thing that is affecting us." I lightly tapped the box that made the creature agitated but unable to move. "And given the appearance and general feel of it, Azazel's guess is true. I imagine this is something related to Nightmare Widow."

"Quite the ugly representation." Tsubasa leaned forward to look closer only to pull back when the creature slammed against the box. "Feisty too."

"How did you manage to catch it?" Sona asked, the sight of the captured creature seemingly filled her body with energy at the possibility of dealing with the mess we were in.

"As you know when you came over, I had different types of weapons prepared to cover our base of operations. Your floor level is mostly hosting demonic weapons with hints of holy energy while the upper floors are using holy weapons. All of which are designed for areas to be placed under protection from any sort of mental and soul-based attacks." I explained while projecting a dagger. "Azazel had sent over his notes on Nightmare Widow, and with the nature of it having dreamcatcher like abilities, I decided to cast a net of sorts around the premises. The protections would make it harder for whatever it is to get to us, this dagger was meant to find the one responsible for giving us nightmares when whoever tries to get past the protections."

"And you got it." Momo looked away with a grimace when the creature spat out what could pass for a very nasty and slimy snot.

"To some extent." I let out a frown at this point. "I am inclined to believe that this thing is something of a drone sent out to collect whatever stuff it needs, likely our lifeforce. Did any of you feel an odd pain in your ears last night after Tsubaki woke up?" Some of the others looked thoughtful and nodded at that, "that would be because something was inside us for some time."

"What!" I winced from the volume even though I knew that they would be shocked from the answer.

"You did have something leaking out of your ears earlier, right?" The girls frowned at that memory.

"Indeed." Griselda reached into her pocket and pulled out a vial of liquid that was dirty silver in coloration. "I thought it was odd and took some for you all to examine. I understand Shirou got some from you girls earlier, but this contains the one I collected from my ear this morning."

"That is good." Sona reached out to take the vial to examine, a glint evident in her eye as she looked at it. "Now we are getting somewhere."

"The best I can describe for now is that whatever was inside served as seeds to take in our life-force while this bug influenced our dreams." I continued the explanation. The expressions greeting me were similar to what I had when I got that thought.

"Please tell me we can get that out of our heads." Tsubasa shuddered at that notion.

"The fact that everyone felt the pain, had this liquid leaking out of the ears and were able to sleep properly last night meant that the supposed seed was removed. Just use your basic healing spells on your heads, otherwise try a cleansing bath. For the exorcists, I guess a holy water bath might be the best way of doing it." I thought back to all the times I had encountered people in similar situations. Honestly, the exorcists were the only ones I could properly help out since they were humans and were more comfortable with holy water treatments.

Not sure about Devils.

"Yeah, we can't take the holy water bath. But there are plants and herbs normally used for healing potions that we can use." Momo remarked while considering the options. "Don't suppose you have anything in your arsenal to help the process?"

"I would need to go through them. I don't have a lot that grants passive healing powers, much less for bathing." I answered while covering the box with the cloth. "In the meantime, I will go and call Azazel to check on this. I can do some tests of my own while I wait."

"Once again, thank you for your aid." Sona thanked me again.

"Right then." Momo stretched before grabbing her empty cup. "Time to get started with that healing bath then." She moved to the kitchen before pausing to turn around with a rather sultry smirk and a hand on her hip. "Care to join us, Shirou? It would save the water bill. And I would not mind someone checking me over for any 'residue', and we can help each other on that."

"MOMO!" All the other girls in the Sitri Peerage shrieked at her while Xenovia glared at the devil. Irina had her blushing face covered with her hands, while Griselda had the closed-eyed smile that women all over the world seem to have to convey a dangerous temper.

As for me?

I am just getting this sample to Azazel and wanting to get this thing over with. I was not running away from all of the females in this apartment for the sake of my sanity and health.

Honest.

Part 3

"This is bad." Azazel placed the papers down on the table and placed both hands to his face to massage his face and eyes, lightly grimacing from the strain on his eyes and the grit that had accumulated in his beard over the past few days. He may have to consider cutting it off if he had to keep this up for the situation.

No, he would rather take a long shower before he even considered shaving off his beard. He would not be the roguish leader of the Fallen Angels if he lost that identifier!

"What is the matter?" He lifted his head to find Shemhazai coming up to him. His friend looked at the mess before him with a raised eyebrow. "Project getting problematic?"

"More like the case that is going on in Japan." Azazel answered as he pointed to the pile of reports pertaining to different cases of suicides, hysteria and serious insomnia. "There is a user of Nightmare Widow out and about in Kuoh Town, and this one may be the worst one yet."

"That Sacred Gear is in the town?" Shemhazai hissed at that knowledge. Much like Azazel, he had to question the creation of this particular Sacred Gear, but this was more from personal experience than research by Azazel. He recalled two of the users after the Great War, and he had seen how the gear seemed to be corrupting them to something beyond human.

The first user had already been long gone from said corruption and was gleefully cutting up bodies for whatever demented ritual he was performing, and the cult that came from him lasted a number of years, twisting people's minds with the type of ideals he had long after his death. One Gilles de Rais was a prominent figure in history who had briefly joined said cult after his mind had snapped from the death of Jeanne de Arc, believing that their Father had abandoned her when she got prosecuted by the clergy back then.

The second user came roughly a century after the collapse of King Arthur's reign, and Shemhazai had the first hand experience of watching the Sacred Gear slowly corrupt the user from an innocent farm boy to a young man hell bent on trying to attack, rape and mutilate every woman in his path to sate the madness of the spirit within. It was from this user that the Fallen Angel also caught a glimpse of the creature that was trapped within the gear. Seeing a specter of Nezliant behind the user with her eights eyes glaring at him as he ended the man's reign of terror, made Shemhazai a little proactive in eradicating the body for good to ensure no one could try to resurrect it and in vain hope that he could damage if not destroy the gear.

Now that monster was back and likely stronger than ever.

"Don't suppose you know who the current user is?" Shemhazai asked while looking at the folders.

"Not yet, but I am drawing conclusions to a few users that fit the profile along with magical signatures similar to that gear." Azazel motioned to a small pile of folders "And this is after 3 days of paperwork." Shemhazai winced at that.

"How about your scanner? Can't you calibrate it to a specific frequency or something?" Azazel snorted at his words.

"For any other gears outside of the Longinus, that would be easy to do. Nightmare Widow?" Azazel shook his head in frustration. "I suspect that Nezliant is the reason again for this. Every time I tried scanning for that gear, the spiritual frequency kept changing. I could mistake it for a lower tiered Gear or a Longinus with how many variations it keeps giving off."

"How about spider infestations?" Shemhazai tried that. "Doesn't the presence of the spider lord influence other species of spiders?" Azazel opened his mouth to speak before pausing for a few seconds, and then closing the mouth while grabbing a tablet from the table. Shemhazai waited patiently as Azazel's fingers danced all over the tablet's surface as he mumbled.

"There we go. Spider infestations." Azazel finished after a few minutes. "There have been a few recent outbreaks of spiders in the general route of the cases appearing, and the biggest concentration would be where the heavier number of suicides, murders and mass hysteria would appear."

"Perhaps those spots were where the user was situated?" Shemhazai looked over his shoulder to see the images of the locations.

"You may be right about that." Azazel did something to have lines appearing on the affected areas, soon forming web-like designs on them. "Much like a spider, he is casting his web quite literally in this case."

"If that is the case, can we check for infestations in Kuoh Town? Maybe we can get an idea." Azazel was ahead of his suggestion and got the map of Kuoh Town on the big screen. He added the variables for the number of cases along with the spider infestations and stood back for the results to be shown. It took a couple of minutes for the machine to process the conditions and showcase the results overlaying the map. "Oh dear."

"That sums it up quite well." Azazel could not help the snark as they looked at the biggest web layout thus far. "Whoever the user is, they have been busy spreading their net. Multiple infestations surrounding the outer areas of the town make it easier for them to hide their activities."

"There are new clusters going on in town." Shemhazai observed two new spots appearing real time.

"Let me check something." Azazel typed something before flag symbols appeared on the map. "Most of the major areas for the devils are covered or close to the infestations."

"Not Emiya's residence." Shemhazai pointed to the general spot showing the pinned flag.

"Shirou did say that he was working on something to find and isolate whatever was attacking them." Azazel answered as he looked through his notes. A chime got Azazel to pull out his phone and hum at the message. "And I think he succeeded as I just got a message from him and the Sitri heiress that his weapons found something and they got better sleep for once. He wants to send it to us for testing."

"That is good news, I think that is the first time that anyone managed to beat it off." Shemhazai remarked.

"True." Azazel on the other hand had a big frown. "What troubles me is the rate of coverage. Based on past data and comparing it to this situation, the rate is almost exponential with how quickly the victims are racking up." He paused as he sorted out his thoughts. "I hope Issei is wrong about this." Shemhazai gave Azazel a puzzled expression at that.

"Dragon boy had thrown out the idea that Nezliant could be trying to get a body back." Azazel answered at the expression. "His interactions with Draig had told him that all the spirits inside the Sacred Gears wish to find a way to get back their old bodies. It would be a pipe dream for those based on what I know about Father's creations, but?"

"Nightmare Widow is very different from the rest of the gears." Shemhazai knew what Azazel was trying to convey. "Then again, it is the cursed gear among the other gears considered cursed. Perhaps it should be The Cursed Gear." Azazel had to smile wryly at the obvious capital letters in the emphasis. Still though, he was genuinely worried at this point. Nightmare Widow did not follow any of the conventional routes of evolutionary upgrades, and it kept changing abilities even in the basic form. There was no way to properly estimate the progress and power of Nightmare Widow, and its influence over the users was honestly terrifying. If there was one gear that he had to effectively destroy without having to study it, Azazel would say this was the one.

"At least now we are getting somewhere. I am going to collect whatever the Sword Mage has gotten his hands on and hopefully we can use that to track our little murdering psychopath. In the meantime though, I would like some assurance that we can take this guy out quickly so try to assemble a small team to assist us." Azazel went ahead to save the results as he spoke.

"Consider it done." Shemhazai nodded and moved out of the room, his mind mentally going through names for the team to assemble. It was going to be a tough choice given his experience with the gear, but Shemhazai was going to do what he could to help with the situation.

Hopefully this time they could destroy Nezliant for good.

Part 4

Loud steps filled the empty street as a woman in her thirties rushed aimlessly, uncaring of her clothes being torn and stained in blood, and her pantyhose getting torn from the running without her shoes. All she wanted to do was get away from the one chasing her since the evening.

"Tako Mako, she's so vain~"

"Tako Mako, what a pain~"

"Tako Mako, her mum is a witch~"

"Tako Mako, what a bitch~"

The woman cursed at the tune that was called out to her, hating it with all her guts as she pushed against the pain from her sore feet to get to someplace safe, which was not helped with all the buildings having locked doors and downed shutters. She had been running for so long yet she had not met anyone on the way, which seemed impossible yet it was happening to her! She swerved around the corner only to almost trip in her attempt to stop her momentum from bumping into the very thing she was running from.

"Hello Mako, enjoying the game of hide and seek?" The young woman in front of her could not be any older than fifteen, with a torn high school uniform that was showing what looked to be a second-hand set of underwear along with a fair amount of bruised skin and cuts. Her brown hair was messy as though it had not been washed for ages, which combined with the sunken face, dark eye-bags and the psychotic smirk, made the woman look very demented. Combined that with her body seemingly fading at random, it made for a very scary sight. "I remembered you like it very much."

"Why are you here? You cannot be real!" Mako moved back with her pounding heart and an odd ringing sound that had been going off for a while in her head.

"Oh, why can't it?" The young woman tilted her head in a fashion that seemed almost innocent if not for the smirk that went wider. "I know I was not that important, but that was really sad. Then again, you never give any attention to anyone else other than yourself and your friends, unless you want them to play your games."

"Leave me alone, Saeko!" Mako grabbed a bottle and threw it at the apparition before hightailing it again, trying her best to move away from the girl who merely skipped along like she was on a school trip, yet somehow able to keep up with her. Mako hated that a lot.

Ironically though, it was the same thing she did in her youth.

Mako finally got a break when she spotted the elevator to the train station she needed to get to. The doors were starting to close when she skidded through and slammed her hand against the button to close the doors faster. The shutting noise was a balm to her soul and the elevator started to move to the concourse where the trains were. Mako took the chance to calm down and focused on her thoughts.

The past few weeks were a mess. Everyone around her had been complaining about nightmares and lack of sleep, and she too was getting agitated from that. Then the deaths started occurring, with a good number coming from suicides supposedly from people suffering hallucinations. Mako did not think too much on this at the time except that she should try to relax to avoid the same complications, but that was before she was contacted by one of her old school mates who had told her about the suicide of another friend from her school days. It may not matter much except some of the police had started looking into the past of a few suiciders and sudden maniacs, and found links to their pasts that were leaked out in their hallucinations and blabbering.

Keiko, the recently deceased friend, had died in a pile of money, some drugs on the side and a face that showed her terror of her impending death. Some of the neighbors and friends who were questioned told the police that she had been screaming at someone that only she could see for a few days before the local yakuza came along to demand some type of repayment. Keiko had said that she was not at fault and it was someone else stopping her payments, someone that by all accounts was supposed to be dead. Someone who evidently drove Keiko to suicide two days later.

That someone was Saeko, the same one who was now chasing her.

Shortly after, two others whom Mako knew from her school days had committed suicides themselves, each dying in a manner that showed the hidden side of their lives. They too had mentioned Saeko by name, and the police had dived into their past to find the common link between them, which led them to Mako a month ago. Mako tried to pass it off as coincidence or rumors, but that was when she started seeing Saekoin her nightmares, reminding her of what they did to her in the past. For a while, she could ignore it, but then Saeko started appearing in reality, always standing in the corner of the office or between alleys, her wicked smile always mocking her for her presence and her actions.

What Mako did to her back then was now coming to roost, and she hated it! That girl won't leave her alone, and Mako ended up saying some incriminating secrets when the police came to question her a second time, prompting them to bring her in for more questioning. Mako managed to get out on bail and kept away from the public eye, opting to work from home with the excuse that she was getting burnt out from the nightmares and hallucinations, something that was at least granted as everyone else was having them. But Saeko kept coming to her dreams and reality, and this time she was somehow able to actually touch her and give her bruises on her arms. Mako really wanted to forget it all, only for her mother to be arrested for disorderly conduct and having one of her hallucinations, screaming about Saeko's mother and all.

When the police came to ask Mako, that was when Saeko made an appearance and this time she went all out in annoying Mako and forcing her to spill out her secrets in front of them. The woman had to run away from the police at that point and since then had been on the run from the apparition who kept up with her while humming the song that Mako hated hearing.

There was a sense of karmic irony there, since it was the same tune she and a few others did to her before her death.

Her thoughts got broken when she heard that odd ringing sound in her head again, right as the elevator came to a stop at the level and the doors opened to reveal her waking nightmare. "There you are, Mako. I found you~" The apparition smiled before her arm shot out to grab Mako by the neck and she threw the woman out of the elevator and to the ticket gentry. Mako screamed as she skidded across the floor and came to a hard stop against the ticket gentry, her head hitting against the metal cover of the booth. Seeing double and cradling her bloody head, Mako stumbled past the gates and made her way to the platform haphazardly, pausing to control her steps a few times. She finally managed to regain her equilibrium and senses in time to know that she was dangerously close to the edge of the platform.

A sinister giggle made Mako look around her in a panic, trying to find Saeko and keep her in her sights, something that was hard to do as the giggle seemed to echo all about the platform and the lights started to flicker randomly. It took two full turns until Mako found the young girl right in front of her, their noses almost touching and for Mako to see her reflection in her eyes. Mako yelped in fright and stumbled back a few steps and stopped right before the warning line. "Why are you doing this!" The apparition chuckled darkly at that demand.

"Isn't it fitting? Keiko died with all the money she got from her illegal dealings with the yakuza covering her body. Mina died with the man she was sleeping with in full view of the camera showcasing her suicide and her affairs with other men that shamed her parents. And then we have Yui who died disgraced from the internet showing her true face after all those years." The apparition stepped closer to Mako as she talked. "But of course, we cannot forget about you. They may have tormented me and pushed me to the edge, but you." Her crimson eyes peered at her with blood lust. "You were the one who pushed me off the edge. Figuratively and literally."

The sounds of a train horn drew Mako's attention to the incoming train, and that moment of distraction cost her dearly as the girl rushed forward to slam into her and send her off the platform and landing on the railway tracks. Mako screamed in pain as her back hit the metal rail and she felt something break in her spine. Her eyes forced themselves open to see Saeko leering back at her in bloody anticipation. For a brief moment, her visions shifted to seeing a tearful Saeko looking at her from the tracks itself.

"No…" Mako briefly forgot her pain at the memory that came back.

"Do you remember now?" Saeko giggled rather harshly while raising her arms about her. "This was the last place you saw me, the place where I wanted to get away from it all." The apparition narrowed her eyes with a sneer. "The place that you decided to give me a helping hand by throwing me off this very platform."

"I am sorry. I am sorry." Mako tried to plead for her life with tears running down her face. "Please have mercy. I didn't mean to do that."

"Oh, do you now?" Saeko leaned forward with an almost innocent expression. "Where was that attitude when I begged you girls to leave me alone? Who were you egging on when Yui set her tech buddies to drag my name in the mud on social media? Who were you helping when Keiko used her contacts to drive my mother to her coffin after they squeezed all the money out of her and her body? How about the time when you helped them drug me and leave me in a room with the sport jerks that Mina had slept around with? You were happily recording the moment as they passed me around like some toy and ruining me! And you dared to claim to help me by harassing me all the way to here and pushed me over when I tried to fight back!" Saeko's voice got louder and she screeched at the last part in anger with the appropriate expression directed at Mako. Then like a switch, her expression became peaceful.

"No. You did not mean that. And you won't have the mercy you would want." The apparition turned her head and continued doing a 360 while her eyes were fixed on Mako. "The only consolation you get to have is that you would not be alone. You will be meeting your friends in the afterlife very soon."

At this point, Mako was scrambling to get off the track but her legs were not responding to her actions. She did manage to push herself up with her arms while the headlights of the train were now shining in the distance. The horn of the train blared out, likely from the train conductor seeing her on the track and alerting all to the issue. The brakes were soon applied to slow the train and hopefully stop in time to get Mako out. But some part of her knew that it was too late for her to get away from it.

Too late to regret her choices.

"Goodbye, Tako Mako!"

Mako let out one last scream as the train let out a loud honk of the horn before it slammed into her and continued on for a few feet before the brakes finally stopped the train a few feet away from where it was meant to stop, and then the train conductor rushed out of the train to get to the front along with the other staff who had arrived when the woman jumped the gate without paying the toll. The conductor arrived at the front first only to back away and clamped his mouth shut to contain himself. A few of the passengers came out screaming and gawking at the situation, with a few of the more tactless teens taking out their phones to record the situation.

With all of them distracted, they did not see a silver spider climb up the edge and scuttered away on the platform, briefly trailing blood in its steps. It stopped a few feet away from the distraught conductor and seemingly looked at him, before the body bubbled like liquid and it split into two spiders, the smaller one making its way to the driver while the original moved on to the nearest pillar and sunk into the shadows, and then coming out of another location in front of a closed bed-and-breakfast inn that was a few miles away from the station. The spider moved towards the door and slipped through the gap, continuing its way past the messy kitchen and a living room sporting blood and two large silk cocoons with spiders going about it. It went to the stairs and shot out a web to climb to the second floor and to a room where the sole occupant was sitting on the bed. Said occupant looked down to where the spider came up to his feet and lowered his hand to climb on before he brought it up to his face.

"Ah, that is a good meal for you." The young man nodded at the spider before it dissolved into mist that went into the fog behind him. "And we have more to infect." The man turned his head to the window and frowned in concentration.

"Tch! Looks like the ones I sent to the Sitri's devils and the exorcists are deactivated or removed in some manner. Must be that damn magician staying with them." The man tapped his finger in agitation. "The devils are easier to get to, but that magician keeps breaking my connection. I do not like the feeling he keeps giving my spiders." He was not lying on that; he had been spreading out his spiders and webs to infect those he could get in range to gather their lifeforce before he could start on the targets. Some of the devils clearly did not have any bad memories or major issues for his creations to feed on, merely giving them minor insomnia for their efforts. A few though had substantial issues in their pasts to feed his creations, and they had the magic to also make his gear stronger.

The issue he was facing though, was the target he was meant to go after by Cao Cao.

Normally, his creations would be "seeded" inside his targets and left to feed on their darkest fears, slowly driving them to insanity as they would influence them to start confusing dreams with reality. If there were multiple targets that were too spread out and moved around a lot, he would have a "carrier spider" to act as a receiver to spread the network of webs to tag his targets. The greater their pain or sins were, the more his creations would feed on their lifeforce, and the faster and stronger his spiders would be when they eventually hatch from their sleep, and that would lead to a glorious birth as by that point, the targets would be so ensnared by their pasts that they were ripe for the taking, either through the small spiders within or by him personally. The former method would lead the targets to their deaths which would cause the spiders to gain the energy to leave their hosts and return to him.

For some reason though, his attempts to ensnare Shirou Emiya appeared to get destroyed quite quickly, which was odd since there was no way for his creations to be detected, let alone removed without having the target's mind destroyed. Oh for sure, the wizard appeared to have quite a few horrors in his past based on the feeling he got from the webs, but he was not able to have any of them!

Worst part of it, the wizard must have discovered something because he could feel his connections with the Sitri Peerage gone just the previous night. He had tried to establish the carrier spider only to get a massive headache from the rejection, but he could tell that the carrier was still alive for the time being based on the brief image of the wizard looking at it with focused eyes. He would have to back off from them for now, at least he had the Gremory devils to feed on.

"Too bad I can't get Azazel or the Maous, but that's okay. I have what I need for now." The man took a breath and let it out slowly. "And thanks to all the towns I had hit earlier, I should have enough to cover the entire town within the next two days. Soon I will be able to go after Emiya." The shadows around seemed to wiggle about him while a pair of crimson eyes appeared above him as he made his way to the window and looked at the blood moon in the sky. "Yes, I will help you get stronger." The man steadied himself with his arms on the sills while a pair of silver arms appeared from the shadows behind him and wrapped themselves around him, their sharp fingernails lightly scratching his chest without him flinching.

"I promise you, you will be made whole." The man looked back up with a deranged smile and his eyes seemingly glazed with blood leaking out of the lids.

"I will make us whole. Make us whole forever."