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 new year..."

"Pleasant Dreams~"

Published: February 18 2024

Chapter 14: The Tendrils of a Nightmare

Part 1

Look at that boy, what a disgrace!

I pity his parents for having such a worthless son.

Why on earth would he be allowed around us?

Such a weak pawn. I feel for the Gremory Princess.

The boy kept his ears covered as he walked through the hallway corridors of the school, trying to keep out all the hurtful words thrown at him and keeping the sense of worthlessness inside, but it hurt so much to hear them especially at some subconscious level he knew that they were right. He was so focused on blocking them out that he did not realize the scenery changing around him. His only clue was when he suddenly got a punch to the stomach that sent sprawling to the ground.

"Why are you so weak?"

His heart dropped as he raised his head to find the members of the ORC looking down at him with derision.

"Why do I have to be saved by a perverted demon like you?" Asia looked at him with disgust. "You should have let me be killed!"

"What a disgrace to Buchou. The worst kind to step foot in this academy." Kiba had a very cruel smile as he came forward to kick him down and stomp on his chest. "What a pathetic specimen of a man you are."

"Perverted waste of space." Koneko spoke softly but with a derisive tone delivering much venom in her words.

"Indeed, all you do is just lust for a pair of breasts, no matter from whom or where." Akeno spoke with the type of voice one would associate with a high-bred woman looking down on a peasant like they were dirt beneath her feet, with the appropriate expression. "How low can you be?" Issei tried to ignore them all, but the worst was reserved for the crimson-haired girl who came forward with a sneer that reminded him of Riser Phenex.

"Why did I ever waste my Pawn Pieces on someone so stupid and useless?" Rias stepped forward to him with her silhouette being shrouded in the dark energy of the Power of Destruction. Issei moved backwards without any coordination until his back hit something, stopping his movements and allowing Rias to stomp on him with the air of a highborn princess disgusted to touch a peasant. "The only use you have is the Boosted Gear inside you, but I should be able to get my brother to get that out of you along with my pieces to bestow on someone more fitting to be in my peerage."

"No!" Issei did not want to be cast aside, not by the one who had saved him and who showed him a different world. "I am not weak! I can get stronger! Please let me stay with you!" The woman hummed as she leaned forward with her face barely an inch away from his, his reflection shown in her cold eyes.

"Do you really want to be of use to me?" Rias spoke softly to Issei.

"Yes!" The boy nodded his head in desperation. To that, Rias smiled sweetly at thim, a smile that reminded him of another and got his heart to drop.

"In that case…" 'SHINK!'

Issei slowly lowered his head to find a spear made of crimson light stabbed through his torso, before overwhelming pain surged through his body and he screamed while his torso started to smolder and burst into flames that quickly engulfed him. The sight that greeted him as he looked up made the fear more real, as half of Rias's face appeared to have peeled off to reveal another face of a woman he once knew and thought that he could be with, the hair on that side also changing to a raven black while a pair of mismatched wings appeared behind her. The smile on the face that shared the visage of both women made it all the more agonizing and despairing for the boy whose body was being reduced to ashes and his head a burnt skull.

"CoULd You dIE fOr meEeeEEE!"


"Partner, wake up!"

"Issei, wake up!"

A pair of eyes opened wide and the owner shot up quickly while his arm got covered in a gauntlet and launched itself at the target. It was only due to a whip wrapping around the arm and a broad sword deflecting the blow that stopped him from smashing the face of the girl trying to wake him up, but the shock of air was enough to push her off the bed, making her yelp in surprise. "Issei, it is me!" The boy stopped struggling and blinked his eyes a few times before he focused on the girl who got off the ground and moved in front of him.


"Yes, it is me. You do remember us, right?" Issei looked around the room to find Kiba and Akeno restraining him while Asia was trying to get closer only to be held back by her dragon familiar, before looking to his arm that had Boosted Gear on. Then his memories of the nightmare came back and he could not stop the shivering of his body and rapid breathing. "Issei, calm down!"

Issei could not hear them through the blood pounding in his ears and the panic that was currently flooding his mind and body. He was so wired up that he flinched from the touch from Rias and pushed himself back, seeing his friends being overridden by those from his nightmares, hearing their scornful words over and over in his head until a green glow appeared over him and he had his eyes closing from the sudden lifting of tension that was building, causing him to fall back into an uneasy slumber.

"Well that was problematic." Kiba let out a sigh while sitting down on the floor in a very undignified manner that would have his fans squealing in terrorized disbelief. "Glad he is out now."

"Whatever is causing this is now affecting Issei badly." Rias reached out but paused a few inches away from his chest before pulling back and clutching her hand nervously. "He was screaming at someone acting like me." Kiba kept silent on the fact it was likely an actual representation of her in Issei's nightmares that was the issue.

"It is affecting all of us." Akeno laid back down on the bed with a heavy sigh, not caring for the fact that she was flashing Kiba with only a blanket to barely cover her lower body, a sight that would have the vast majority of Kuoh Academy's male students (along with possibly a couple of male teachers and some female students) cursing him and Issei for having such a view ready.

Not that Kiba would look at them in any manner or under any circumstance. For one, he was too much of a gentleman to look at a naked woman. Two, he was used to Rias and Akeno's nudist approach to clothing while growing up in the household (privately speaking, he would be more affected by Venelana or Grayfia should they do that). And lastly, he was too tired to even think about this.

"I heard that Sona's Peerage had been making some progress on this, perhaps tomorrow we should meet up with them?" Kiba made that suggestion.

"Agreed. Tomorrow we will be visiting them." Rias nodded before letting out a huge yawn. "Right now, I just hope we can get some shut-eye." That yawn ended up setting off everyone before they decided to just stay in the same room as they were just too tired to move back to their own rooms, and the fact that this was soundproof helped to keep Issei's parents from rushing over to check on their son and end up seeing the Boosted Gear. Kiba merely fluffed up the extra pillow he got from the cupboard before laying down on the floor, his body and spirit fighting with his semi-active mind to get some shuteye.

It was very difficult to sleep when everyone else was having nightmares that could be potentially deadly without knowing.

It was very difficult to sleep, knowing that he would just continue his nightmares from where it left off.

It was very difficult to sleep when the faces of all of his old companions from the days of the Holy Sword Experiment were right in his face, some missing skin or eyes, but all smiling with blood coming out of their eyes, noses and mouths while calling out to him.

But he wanted to sleep so badly.


Part 2

"It is getting worse."

That was an understatement if I ever heard one, Azazel.

The Gremory Peerage had arrived at the apartment block to look for both Azazel and myself to implement the same security measures for their current home roughly three days after we had gotten rid of the ones messing with the Sitri Peerage, only for the whole lot of them to collapse in tired relief from my Noble Phantasms working overtime to remove them from the spiders and to start healing their minds. The others went to move the majority to beds while Azazel and I went to examine Issei in regards to his latest nightmare and injuries. Based on the markings on his arms and chest, clearly the nightmares were bleeding into reality, and in my experience, that usually meant that a curse had gotten stronger. And this was a cursed Sacred Gear that we were dealing with, that meant the power of the gear had gotten a lot more deadly. What concerned me was how the gear could actually replicate the wounds of elemental nature, and even if diminished, I could actually feel the holy energy coming off of the wound from Issei's chest.

I did not want to think about the possibility of this power being in my world.

"His vitals are all over the place, but thankfully he is calming down." Azazel straightened his back from the hunching he did while casting diagnostic spells on Issei that made parts of his body glow in different shades of the rainbow. "It helps that he is now getting some actual sleep thanks to your weapons. But his resistance to holy magic is practically zero! The only part that is safe from it would be the arm holding Draig, and that is if the Boost Gear is activated."

"Well, he is still learning how to focus his prana." I answered that part. "While my lessons have helped him with his strength training and bodybuilding, resistance to other elements poisonous to devils is slow going since I don't know what to test for properly. And you know how much Rias cares for her servants, she almost scalped me on that last test." Azazel nodded.

"At any rate, we must as well let them sleep in. Good thing I brought the extra time displacement pods, they would need a few days to be properly rested, and that is time we don't have." Azazel grabbed one arm to pull Issei up. "Give me a hand, will you?" I went to Issei's other side and between the two of us moved him to one of the empty rooms where several pods that looked like they came straight out of science fiction were placed. It took a bit of maneuvering but we got Issei in the closest pod and shut him in, a light gas appearing inside meant to keep him sedated and calm in the healing coma he was now placed in.

"Shall we move the others as well?" I asked as I looked at the young boy who now looked slightly better through the glass.

"Later, I need to confirm his condition and calculate how much time for him to be in this healing coma before we do the rest." Azazel was fiddling with the controls with a serious expression. "Hmm, intriguing."

"Anything worth noting?" I asked.

"Plenty. Thanks for your notes and that creature you caught, they really helped." Azazel spoke as he checked the readings. "And now with the Gremory group here, I should be able to get more data to find our user and even reverse the effects."

"Would destroying the gear help?" I asked that question while thinking over whatever I have in my arsenal that could deal with these Sacred Gears. Each one seemed very different so I needed to create a few checklists to keep track of their strengths and weaknesses. And in my line of work, usually destroying the objects affecting large numbers of people would be the best course to do, but with Azazel being the scientist, there was the possibility that he would want it intact.

"Oh most certainly, and in any event, I would prefer the gear to be utterly removed from existence." Azazel answered seriously as he looked at me. "Normally I would try to preserve a gear in some form when I fight others, but this is one that I must argue against my Father on keeping it even if the scientist in me wants to hang on to it. Nightmare Widow is too dangerous to be left around even in a dormant state. First chance you get, wipe it off the face of the planet." I hummed at that statement, knowing how much it must be gutting him to destroy something that could be used to further his work. I have seen the same deal in the Clock Tower on a reduced scale, but there were a small handful of people who do have standards, and of course there was Rin who would do the right thing even if it pained her to do so, not to mention me having to empty out the fridge of ice cream just to get her mood up.

Well, at least his answer gave me some options.

I had to help the others call Issei's parents to explain that he was currently knocked out on the bed so that they won't worry, and it was very obvious his parents had been worried sick for him. What was also evident was the fact they themselves were not experiencing any of the dreams or any of the physical effects, supporting the theory that the attacker was focusing on us while enlarging the territory for the gear to spread the web.

Sona was tending to Rias when I arrived to check on them and the others, and it was really evident that they had not had a decent night's sleep in a long while. Even from the door, I could see the eye bags forming and the paleness of their skin. And almost comically, Rias and Akeno were snoring the loudest to compete with some of those I knew back in the Clock Tower. Even with the situation, my mouth was twitching at the rather undignified manner they were sleeping.

Sona was recording the moment for her own blackmail even in the situation.

"How are they?" I asked as I paused to scratch the head of the baby dragon as he guarded Asia in her deep sleep.

"Exhausted." Sona moved a hair strand from Rias's face before getting up from her chair. "It is a good thing school is canceled for this period. They have been awake for so long that their mental states are not the best."

"Not just that, they have been subconsciously using their prana to force their bodies to move, but they are drained. Any more and they would be in a coma." Tsubaki waved away the circle that was hovering above Akeno's head. "Their cores are practically drained."

"Well, Azazel has brought the time displacement pods for this situation, and he has gotten all the readings from Issei, so let's get them inside so they can get rested." The others nodded and helped to move them to the pods, the others applying magic to help lift them up and avoid too much jostling that could wake them up. "That reminds me, where is Gasper, the crossdressing vampire?" I asked as I helped to move Kiba into the pod closest to me.

"That is the weird thing, he is not affected by the Sacred Gear." Sona replied after getting Rias into her pod and watching the light mist gather inside to help her friend settle down better. "Azazel was checking with Rias to see if there are any differences between the two groups and one thing that stuck out was Gasper not experiencing any of the issues. He is not sure if it is because of his physiology, the location he is staying, his Sacred Gear, or even the possibility that the one behind this did not target him. For the time being, he is under watch in case he does display any of the symptoms."

"I see." Personally, I would think it could be a combination of those points. There were not that many half-breeds in my world, but some of the common attributes they shared included a baseline resistance to most spells that could ensnare regular humans. Unless I was off my mark, Gasper would also have resistance to a fair number of spells that would affect vampires because of his human blood. And if what Azazel had hinted about his Sacred Gear, that was something along the lines of Issei's Sacred Gear, and that meant he should be safe for the most part.

That still did not help the rest though. And it was likely an isolated case with Gasper since the Welsh Dragon could not stop the attack in his mind, because I would have a hard time believing a spider could go against a rampaging dragon if it attacked the host.

"What about Saji, how is he doing?" I asked about the male pawn of Sona who had not joined them thus far.

"He appeared to be okay the last time I contacted him, I would say that his parents had taken him out of town and perhaps the prefecture right on time." Sona answered while helping to check on the settings as Azazel had indicated, "If I were to make a guess, Distance and knowing the target, are what helps with the selection. Perhaps for the threads to take hold of us, the user needs to be closer to us for them to take root and draw some essence from us before it could be allowed to go further. That might explain why it took a while for you to get the threads out of us and isolate that sub-spider."

"That is possible. Based on the research that Azazel had provided us, the latest user seems to be the type that wants to take his time in torturing his victims, but perhaps part of it is actually a requirement for him to get them connected for his Sacred Gear to work." I hummed at the possible requirement. I did go out to find a group of people being affected and used only Rule Breaker to see if it could work. The results were mixed; those who were recently attacked had their threads removed instantly and got better quickly, whereas those who had them for a while needed a few minutes to an hour to get them off, and another few minutes to get their bodies moving. The one person who had it the longest also took the longest to recover, and it was that one that Azazel based the designs of the time displacement pods to help the others recover.

That one was still in their pod due to how messed up they were.

After getting the group into the pods, all of us returned to the living area to take the moment to assess the situation while drinking some tea to calm ourselves. Not helped with a literal thunderstorm coming our way. "This weather is quite ominous." Tsubaki looked out the window with a troubled expression. "I can't help thinking that this is a sign of something bad coming."

"You would be right." We turned to find Azazel coming into the room with a tablet and a grim expression. "It is definitely something bad."

"Please elaborate." Griselda helped to clear the table for him to place the tablet on it, before he enlarged it enough to fill the breadth of the table and enough for them to see what was the map of the town along with a profile photo of someone.

"I will start with the more problematic issue. The guy has been expanding his territory on an exponential rate, even more than the previous users. Districts outside of Kuoh Town are now showing the same issues as the previous places that were hit, and they are spreading to the prefecture." The image panned out to show what he meant, and I was uncomfortably reminded of my hunts for Dead Apostles when they decided to make a home for themselves and start expanding their territories. The newborns tend to be quite ambitious and expand their area rapidly, and that usually meant sending out a team of Executors or me to deal with the mess.

"Is that the guy?" Yura pointed at the profile photo.

"No, but he is related to the bad weather we are experiencing." Azazel expanded the photo for us to look at a plain looking guy with one blind eye based on the coloring. "This man was Seichirou Yuji, and he was recently the wielder of a lower rank Sacred Gear dealing with weather manipulation."

"Recently?" Sona caught that wording. Azazel turned to me with a grim smile.

"I believe you are more familiar with this, Shirou. Asia Argento got the same treatment by Raynare." I blinked at that before the light bulb lit up in my head.

"His Sacred Gear was taken away from him."

"Indeed, although the method involved was a lot more gory than Asia's treatment." Azazel shuddered at that point. "I will spare you the details. The important thing is his Sacred Gear was violently removed from his body, and it is being used by this guy." He switched to a different photo profile, and the difference could not be any more obvious with this new one sporting markings on his bald head and the spider tattoo on his forked tongue. But what really sold it were the eyes, there was actual menace that could be felt from them even through the photo. "I present to you the user of Nightmare Widow. Akihiko Shinji, aka, the one that has been causing all of this trouble and now giving us bad weather."

"Finally." Xenovia looked at the photo with a set jaw. "Now we have a face to this mess, we can try to narrow down the search."

"Way ahead of you." Azazel went back to the map and highlighted certain spots. "Based on the increased activity in certain areas, I was able to pinpoint the hotspots around Kuoh Town, and from them, I made a rough area for our nasty guest to likely be hankering down. And thanks to Shirou's help, we have been able to isolate different parts of the town to destroy the spider pods growing there. And I like to think we got eighty percent of the town cleansed." He paused while pointing to one hot spot labeled with a flag. "This hotspot in particular is a bit of an odd one out, and it made me think that this could be a potential hiding spot. It is semi isolated around the outskirts of Kuoh Town, and the latest readings show an unusually dense population of spiders in the area with really abnormal temperatures."

"What do you mean by abnormal temperatures?" Griselda's query had Azazel doing something to the tablet to show thermal images of the hotspot, and you do not need to be a genius to know that the "hotspot" was well below zero, and expanding at the same time.

"The temperature around that area is dropping like a rock, and it is wreaking havoc on the weather. Snow, hail and rain. Majority of the residents have been evacuated but there are a few still stuck there because of that and the spiders." Azazel frowned heavily. "I do not think they can make it out anytime soon."

"In that case, why don't we go now?" Yura slapped a fist into a palm with a grim smile. "I have some choice words for that guy disturbing my sleep."

"Not without reinforcements, you won't." Azazel was quite firm when he answered her. "I will not lie, whoever is the current user of Nightmare Widow is a lot more insidious with his usage and certainly more powerful than the past others. With how methodical he is with spreading his territory, he is likely building up for a big assault in the near future."

"Or a potential source of food for his Sacred Gear." The others turned to look at me while I was focused on the map. "Azazel's notes are very informative on this, this gear feeds on the life force and the fears of the victims. It would make sense that all the hotspots that had been building up so far are clusters meant to build up resources for the user to bring out the full potential of the gear." I looked to Azazel for confirmation who looked thoughtful and nodded soon after.

"Yes, there were theories about Ungoliant when Nightmare Widow started corrupting users. He had been known to build nests in certain areas with his victims in a near death state but still able to respond to stimulants. There was one story that claimed that he would get stronger with the screams of his victims. And if his spawn Nezliant is like him, that would mean she has picked up his habits."

"We can discuss all about what-ifs and nots, what is more relevant is now we have a possible location." Griselda interrupted the observation. "How soon can we attack then?"

"If the Gremorys can get back on their feet, we can attack within the week, three days at the earliest. I am planning to send out the others to attack the other hotspots simultaneously so that we can eliminate the possibility of him hiding in the other spots, but the one I just pointed out?" Azazel tapped it for emphasis. "This is likely the place he is hiding in."

"All right then." I placed both hands on my laps as I shifted slightly to my mentality for Enforcers. "We now have a deadline and a possible point of attack. We should make the time given to us count and prepare for the upcoming battle. This won't be like the others, this is going to be a literal battle of our fears."

"Yes, and for that, I have prepared my scariest creation yet!" Azazel's smile was clearly deranged enough to make the majority of the group squirm in uneasiness. "As we have to fight our fears, I have borrowed one of the apartments on top to create a room simulating every known fear known to mankind."

"I get the feeling I will regret asking this." Griselda certainly sounded that way. "But when you say every fear known to mankind?"

"Yes, every single one in moderation." Azazel dropped the smile to look at us. "Remember this. Each user of Nightmare Widow has their morality stripped completely if not inhabited to a high degree. They have no reason to give us the sort of fears that make hardened criminals weep in their beds. The last user almost broke the secrecy of our world to the mundane, and this latest user is already pushing it with his desire to come after us. I want to make sure you guys can handle yourself, especially the ladies because as you have been told, all of the users have a thing to make women suffer until their minds break." all the young women shivered at that statement while Griselda gripped the armrest hard enough to make it creak.

"Best to tone down the levels just in case, we need them in fighting shape." I gave Azazel that warning with a frown.

"I will do that but we cannot afford to wait any longer." Azazel was packing up his items. "Unless the time table is wrong, this guy is already hitting what is needed for the Balance Breaker, and I don't fancy a prolonged delay. Hit him hard and fast. Either way, if you guys are not ready by then, we will go ahead first." The others nodded and broke off into smaller groups to discuss the matter but I looked at Azazel and Griselda for a brief moment with grim expressions on our faces.

What did I have a bad feeling about this mess?

Part 3

"Come on, grab the cash and move on to the safe!" A robber shouted at his partner as they and two others were robbing a jewelry store they had been eyeing for some time. It helped that the store had been closed for a few days now on account of the owners being sick like the rest of the people in town due to the odd spate of insomnia, nightmares and hysteria going on. The robbers took their time to scope out the place and finally executed the plan to rob the jewelry store and the other stores around it while they were doing it since the other stores were unattended in the same manner. They got some sweet electronics that they could sell on the side along with some free alcohol and food to party with later.

"Got the jewels!" One of them called out as he raided the last display case.

"The safe is out! I need a hand!" The last member called out from the back room.

"Sanji, go help Taki! Touya, go grab the truck!" The first guy went to the backroom to help their partner with the safe while Touya went to the truck, leaving the leader to deal with the manager's office to get any other items of value and to erase the recording footage. He found the equipment easily enough and set about pouring some beer on it to short it out before smashing it to bits and then setting it on fire. He then went to ransack the office and grabbed anything valuable before he turned to leave only to pause at the figure standing at the doorway. "No, not now!"

"What's wrong, Shiggy? Cat caught your tongue?" The figure let out a dark and raspy chuckle as he stepped into the room to reveal a man dressed in similar clothes as the rest of them, but with stab wounds on the front and blood staining the short. The man's face was half shaven with dried blood on the lips and one eye missing to show the emptiness. "You looked like you saw a ghost." Right as the man was going to say something, the apparition vanished into smoke as Sanji came through it.

"Wake up, Shiggy! We need to move!" The leader shook his head to get rid of the cobwebs in his head and followed Sanji to the truck waiting for them. Once they boarded it, their getaway driver slammed his foot down to drive off.

"Oh yeah! Finally we got the stuff!" Touya let out a cheer as he turned the wheel to deal with any potential chasers, not that there were any due to the recent incidents in town. "We are going to hit the payload baby!"

"Get back to our hole!" Shiggy snapped while rubbing his forehead. "We need to make sure that we are safe and well away from the police!"

"On it!" Unseen by Shiggy, the others exchanged looks between each other. Their leader had been quite agitated over the last few nights due to the lack of sleep from whatever was going on around Kuoh Town. There was news about it being some sort of virus that was sweeping the whole of Japan with how widespread it went, and there were concerns of it being so contagious that the health organizations in Japan were calling it a pandemic and those outside the country were preparing to order a lockdown to keep it contained. While they themselves had the same issues of nightmares and insomnia, Shiggy has been getting worse with possible hallucinations even if his symptoms were mild compared to theirs.

Thankfully they made it back to their hideout which was a small warehouse and they were then able to relax from their excursion. Touya, Taki and Sanji worked to get the stuff out of the truck while Shiggy went to the office to confirm on the items and to be alone for a few minutes in order to calm down. He went in and slumped in the chair while rubbing his face with his hands, the action slightly helping but not able to deal with the odd ringing in his ears that had been going on for some time.

"Well done, looks like you got it all worked out."

"Why won't you leave me alone?" Shiggy gritted his teeth while steadfastly ignoring the apparition that was currently leaning on the desk.

"Why should I not visit you? After all, I was your mentor once upon a time, teaching you the trades that kept you alive on the streets." The ghost spoke. "You were very quick to learn them and adapt. You did very well." The ghost then narrowed his eyes menacingly. "Well enough that you stabbed me in the back on that last job."

"You know I would not have done that if you had not planned to do the same to me!" Shiggy yelled as he glared at the ghost. "All that talk of being my teacher, and yet you were planning to send me to the cops!"

"True, that I got." The ghost shrugged. "But you decided to go further and take away more than just my life. You took my money, my job. Even my identity." The ghost suddenly moved face to face with Shiggy with a sneer. "But more importantly, you stole my wife."

"At least she is appreciative of my caring for her instead of you, you were pretty much dismissing her even when you were alive." Shiggy snarled at him.

"Yeah, and that is why we double-crossed each other huh? All because of that whore spreading her legs for any man willing to give her attention." The ghost spoke out with a scoff. "Pathetic." Shiggy had enough and went to punch him only for his arm to go through. "So easy to rile you up. You have not changed one bit." As if to emphasize on that, the ghost went to punch him in the gut, only he was able to land a hit and Shiggy folded while grabbing his stomach.

"Come on, you can do better than that." Shiggy growled and went to swipe again only to go through the ghost and hit the wall. "Oh so close~" He spun to see the ghost taunting him by the door. Shiggy let out a yell and rushed forward, this time feeling flesh as he tackled the ghost to the floor and began to punch the ghost in the face, even as the ghost kept laughing like a mad man while having his face rearranged by the bloody fists until a final crunch stopped it. Shiggy panted hard while pushing himself off the ghost, feeling exhausted from the effort but good at silencing the ghost.

"Did you think it was that easy?"

Shuggy whirled around to find the ghost of his former mentor leaning against the wall on the far end with a smirk. He whirled around to see the floor only to find the body of Touya that had his face completely rearranged from his fists. "No!"

"Oh, so sad for Touya, but then that is what happens when one gets betrayed by one of their own." His mentor mocked him while whirling a knife. "And you are still having problems watching your surroundings." Shiggy was going to comment only to be interrupted by a blow to the head, forcing him to the floor in the process. Shiggy stumbled while grabbing his bloody head, and for a while wondered if the blow was more damaging as he was seeing double at the moment.

"Right, let's see if you remember how to deal in tighter quarters." The second apparition was handling a crowbar like he would with a baseball bat and swung hard at his head again, forcing Shiggy to drop down while grabbing another crowbar to defend himself from the two ghosts as they kept attacking and taunting him. Shiggy gritted his teeth as he barely avoided the knife from cutting into his side. He was not going to die by his hands, not by a long shot!

And so Shiggy fought with reckless abandonment and made sure to give it good as much as he could at the two and able to get some good strikes. He managed to get rid of the one wielding the other crowbar by tricking him into hitting the junction box and electrocuting him, causing the lights to start flickering while the ghost caught fire. The distraction was enough to allow Shiggy to rush at the third apparition and tackle him into the table. He grunted from the blows delivered to the back but did not stop grabbing the arm holding the knife, and with some effort broke it by the elbow to force his mentor to drop the knife. Shiggy quickly grabbed it and with a swiftness borne from adrenaline, stabbed it straight into the head of the ghost. The lights kept on flickering and by the sixth flicker, the images changed and Shiggy found himself staring at the shocked expression of Sanji as he dropped to the ground with blood leaking out of the head wound.

"What?" Shiggy quickly spun to find the smoking corpse of the last member of the crew with parts of his clothes still on fire from the electrical shock. "No. No! NOOOO!"

"Ah, there it is."

Shiggy was panting hard from the panic attack and grabbing his head as the ringing in his ears got louder along with the odd sounds of something scuttering in the warehouse. He then looked up to find a totally different person in the room dressed in a hooded jacket and jeans, the hood covering the head and face. "Who the fuck are you! Are you the one who did this?" The intruder tilted their head at Shiggy.

"Me? Oh no, I did not kill them. You did." The intruder spoke with a voice that sounded like an uneven blend of male and female. "Your guilt and fears are what led you to start hallucinating at the idea that your mentor was haunting you. Your rage was what drove you to such violence." The hood moved up before a pair of red eyes followed by 2 pairs of smaller ones above them stared back at Shiggy. "It was you who went on a rampage to kill the target of your nightmares, only to end up killing your own crew."

"No! No!" Shiggy fell to his knees as the sounds of insects clicking filled the room and to his horrified eyes, something loomed behind the intruder and for the brief moment the lights came back on, Shiggy knew he was seeing something that should not be out from the darkest reaches of the mind.

"And now, thanks to your action, your despair will be the seasoning for the meal to feed my beloved widow." What appeared to be legs of sharp spikes came from the shadows behind the intruder who sounded like he was smiling despite Shiggy not being able to see the face. "Rejoice, for your death will serve a higher purpose for me to get rid of my real enemies in Kuoh Town. Your soul is the 1000th soul needed to unlock the final piece of the puzzle." Shiggy backed away from the monsters in front of him only to hit the wall, leaving him vulnerable to the spikes coming for him.

"Who the fuck are you!" Shiggy tried to swing at the pincers only to have his arms tied up in some web. "What is this?! Let go of me!"

"Who am I?" The intruder let out a cold chuckle as eight eyes lit up above his head with the glow enough to show the mandibles clicking away. "I am the spider welcoming you, the fly, into the parlor for dinner. With you as the main course."

"Bon appetit."

That was followed shortly by the sounds of more clicking and the screams of Shiggy that resonated in the night and lasted for many hours before getting cut off with a bloody gurgle. The racket and the robbery would have gotten residents in the area to call the police, and it would take several more hours before two police cars came about the area to check on the getaway vehicle that was seen entering the warehouse.

When the police arrived at the hideout, first signs indicated there was a falling out with the robbers which led to them killing each other for the stolen stash. It was only through the next room at the back that suggested something else when one of the officers stepped on something wet right as the other one reached for the light switch.

"Oh good lord!" Even the most hardened officer went pale and breathing hard through his sleeve at the absolute carnage that had his partners rushing out to empty out their stomachs. There was barely any surface in the room that was not covered in blood or visceral, and by the wall facing the door with the light shining through the small above them, the remains of Shiggy was strung upside down in a mockery of a crucifixion, with his stomach cut open and pulled wide with wires attached to the ceiling and walls to show the empty cavity in it. His head had been mutilated with the eyes removed in a manner that suggested they were pulled out with hands, and his tongue removed with a rough blade, and finally a big hole on his forehead that looked like someone had stabbed a spike into his head, all of which were accompanied with the expression of fear and paralyzing agony on his face, as if he had been tortured all the way until his death.

"What the hell is going on in Japan these days?" The inspector fought hard to fight his gag reflex as he got closer while putting on the mask and wrapping his scarf around his face for good measure, grimacing at the mess that was made from the corpse. Something glinted in the cavity, prompting him to reach for his torch to shine the light inside. He only got a brief glimpse of something staring back before a large silver spider jumped out of the cavity and landed on his face. "SON OF A BITCH!" The man quickly swept the spider off his face and backed away from it as it landed on its back and moved about before flipping back and scuttered away with clicking noises. "God damn spiders!"

"Sir?" One of the officers came back at that point, taking care not to look at the corpse. "Is everything alright? We heard your shout."

"I'm fine, Musa." The inspector took a few deep breaths to calm his heart. "Just be careful when examining the body. There was a bloody big spider inside of it that leaped out at me. I am just thankful I wrapped the scarf around my face, but now I have to put this into evidence because of that damn thing." His partner shivered at the imagery being described.

"Yeah, can we just go outside? We better wait for the forensics to come." The inspector was going to agree when their ears picked up the sounds of what appeared to be insects moving about in the room, prompting them to move about trying to find the source while feeling something dreadful settling in their stomachs. A yell prompted them to leave the room and to the main area only to find the others being surrounded by what had to be the biggest colony of spiders they had ever laid eyes on. A good number of them were covering the entrance with the rest slowly moving in with eyes glittering from the light which was dimming because of their numbers.

"What the fuck!" Musa then spun about with his torch and gun out. "We are trapped!" The inspector turned to find more of the spiders coming out from the room and covering the walls and ceiling. What drew the inspector's attention was the larger spider leading the lot, that being the same one that sprung out to attack him. The spider clicked its mandibles in a manner that sounded like cruel laughter at the prospect of their demise.

Not on his watch, he did not survive Hiroshima to get killed by these damn things!

"Come on, we got to move!" The inspector grabbed Musa and dragged him to the others, grabbing the crowbar and the small bottle of alcohol along the way. Tearing off a part of his clothes, he wrapped the cloth around the crowbar and drenched that with the alcohol before grabbing his lighter to light the cloth up. The sudden burst of flames caused the spiders to start clicking in supposed anger as they moved back from it, allowing the two to get to the other officers quickly.

"Grab something to make torches!" One of the others was already grabbing something for them to wield and also making a molotov cocktail with another bottle. With a quick light of the flames, the guy then threw it at where the door was along with spilling some from another bottle. The resulting flames were enough to burn the ones blocking the entrance while scaring off the others. "Move!" They all rushed off with the spiders behind them chasing with the intent to take them out, but the inspector left them another makeshift molotov cocktail as a parting gift and got his crew out safely.

"Check yourselves, make sure none of those things are on you." The inspector ordered them right as the vehicles of their backup came around the corner. The sounds of groaning metal prompted him to turn to find the building beginning to collapse from the heat, but what really got to him were the sounds of the clicking that was still audible to him and what appeared to be the swarm of silver spiders going through a hole in the ground. The last to leave was the big one from before, and it actually stopped to look at him before the beams collapsed to hide his view of it. The inspector merely kept watch while the others were being examined and checked for the spiders along with the evidence they were able to secure before this.

Just what the hell was going on in Kuoh?

And what was up with the ringing in his ears?