Hey guys, long time no see, eh? Back here bringing you another chapter of Blank Card. Well, you all should know that writing is kinda on the back burner for me. I got work, the gym and sleeping to keep track of so it's kinda falling behind, unfortunately. But don't worry, I'm not giving up on any stories unless I explicitly say so, which I hopefully won't be doing. I'll try and work on my other stories, namely Smoldering Ember as that one is kinda falling way, way behind. But yeah, here's an update and a little notice to let you know that I ain't dead and stuff. And you know the drill, or hopefully remember, right? Read, review and PM; I know I don't answer, sorry guys, but I really do like reading em.Well, that's probably enough from me, you came to read, right? Well, let's a go.
Blank Card - Chapter 7
(Scene Change - Kirishima Outskirts: Tachigari Mountain Range - Public Use Cabin)
With sunlight shining through the thin curtains that lined the windows of the cabin, Minato's eyes fluttered open as he began his daily diagnosis of his body. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he let a yawn escape as he started to stretch, pausing when he felt something pressed against his body. Blinking, he glanced down and let a small smile mar his face when he saw Metis' peaceful expression as he had her arms wrapped securely around his. Carefully, he removed himself from the sleeping woman and prepared himself for the day ahead, holding back a snort of amusement when he saw a small pout grace her sleeping features. Quickly changing clothes before the raven haired woman awoke; he started a set of light stretches as Metis let a soft sound escape as his partner started stirring from her own slumber.
"Mmm… A good morning to you, Minato." Nyx purred in a half-awake manner, Minato letting a small smile grace his face at her tone.
"Morning, Nyx. Have a good rest?" He asked in an amused tone as he got a long and winded yawn in turn, Nyx grumbling something about having a partner who woke far too early for her own tastes.
"Umph... Hmm...? Minato...?" Metis asked in a sleepy tone, groggily blinking as she tried to focus her eyes on the figure of the man stretching near the center of the cabin.
"Hmm? You awake, Metis?" He asked as he turned to face her, Metis shaking her head in an equally sleepy manner as she tried to forcibly boot up her mind.
Reluctantly, Metis forced herself out of the bed and stretched herself as Minato moved to secure something to eat, Minato letting a soft snicker leave when he heard and saw her nearly face plant while trying to touch her toes. As he checked the cupboards for anything edible, Metis moved to the bathroom to prepare for the day. After a ten minute shower, she re-entered the main room as the scent of something sweet tickled her nose. Her pace hastening, she moved towards the kitchen and saw that Minato had prepared a simple plate of pancakes for the two of them.
"It's nothing special, just used whatever there was in the cupboards so it might be a little bland." He told her in an apologetic tone, Metis instantly waving him off as she helped him prep the table before the two of them seated themselves.
Taking a bite, Metis' eyes lightened up as a tidal wave of flavor assaulted her tongue. Having lived off of the rations and MRE's that were given to her by the Contractors, she wasn't practically invested in the tastes of her meals, opting to focus on the fact that she had something to fill her. But as the gentle sweetness and succulent butteriness of the pancakes danced on her tongue along with the simple syrup made of powdered sugar and vanilla extract, it was like having a warm and fluffy slice of heaven in her mouth. Quickly finishing off the rest of her pancakes, Metis let a content sigh leave her mouth before she froze. Stiffly, she looked up and saw Minato with an amused smirk on his face as her own colored a deep crimson.
"I'm glad that you liked it." He said with a light laugh, the poor woman's ears coloring a deeper red as she tried to make herself as small as possible while the man finished his breakfast.
Finished with her meal, Metis ran to the bathroom to clean off the remnants of her breakfast on her face while Minato tidied up the borrowed cooking instruments and supplies, the bluenette leaving a note of gratitude for the rangers who supplied and stocked the ingredients he had used. When he finished, he saw Metis leave the bathroom with a shade of pink still on her face, Minato merely smirking at her good naturedly as she avoided his gaze with a deeper shade of pink coloring her cheeks. Awkwardly, Metis gathered her own belongings as Minato packed up his own, the two securing their packs as Minato pulled out his phone and a map, placing it on the table as Metis joined him.
"Going off of what I told you and what you told me, my goal has shifted slightly. The source of people's ability to summon Shadows is still my main priority, but the Shadow Hunters and Contractors are also going to be a problem if they accomplish what it is that they're doing. The best course of action that I can think of taking is to take out the Shadow Hunters, seeing that the Contractors haven't started recruiting the innocent as far as you've told me." Minato said as he began pointing to key locations around the area, most notably the larger towns as Metis nodded her head in agreement.
"The Contractors have a pretty rigorous and strict process of allowing people into the Network. Even if you somehow stumbled across a COMP, you're never going to get in unless someone from the Network sends you a personal access code, or you manage to take the login information from its owner. Though, there have been a handful of cases where someone gained access through an unknown outside source." Metis expanded as she amended her previous statement, Minato letting a breath of relief escape as that narrowed down one of their options.
"Minato, if we going to follow through with this plan of attack, you and that girl will need better equipment. As of now, we are limited in terms of attacking if you insist on keeping me as a trump card. While I find that cutting off the source of our problems at its roots will be the most crucial action, finding assets for our cause will no doubt be just as important." Nyx added as Minato mentally nodded his head in agreement, the bluenette giving the map before him another scan before focusing his attention on Metis.
"Alright then, Metis, let's get out there. Where were you and that Asuma guy going to go after the Koropokkuru mission?" He asked as Metis furrowed her brow, going through her memory banks before moving to circle an area on the map.
"We were going to the summit of the second mountain in the Tachigari Mountain Range. Apparently there was a Demon that was worthwhile and seemingly uncatchable based on the intel that I was given. From the report that I was given, it had apparently ended the lives of thirteen Contractors based on the last known date and location of their COMP's being active." She said as Minato mulled over the information given to him, eventually staring Metis straight in the eye as she fidgeted a bit at his gaze.
"Metis, do you think I could use a COMP?" He asked as she gained a look of surprise, unable to find a reason why the omnipotent man before her would bother to use Demons given his power.
"You can, Minato, but can I ask why? You've got Nyx's full power at your disposal, and that's not even including your own personal strength." She asked in a curious tone as he nodded his head at the question, motioning for the woman to follow him out the door as they departed from the cabin.
"While I hate to admit it, that trollop does raise an interesting point, Minato. You already have me, what use would a lowly Demon serve you?" Nyx said in a slightly jealous tone, Minato mentally nodding his head as he began to address the concerns of the two.
"While it is true that I'm strong on my own, there might be some circumstances where I'll be unable to rely on myself or Nyx. In those situations I'd rather have a backup plan in place, even if I never have to use it. Every plan needs a back-up plan and every back-up plan another." He explained as the two nodded their heads at the idea, though they were still a bit anxious as to what sort of Demons he would contract or would attempt to make a contract with him.
"I'd like to keep my own COMP if you don't mind, Minato. I don't think I can call on Psyche as reliably as I want right now. I think there should be scraped COMPs that I could possibly salvage at the summit of the second mountain, if the reports of the Demon and those who went after it are true." Metis said in a slightly guilty tone as Minato simply smiled at her, ruffling her hair softly as he told her that it was fine.
"Hmph! I'm still not satisfied with your answer, Minato! If you dare to contract another strumpet you will feel the entirety of my wrath, do you understand?" Nyx huffed in an annoyed and anxious tone, Minato merely shaking his head at her childlike threat with a sigh leaving his person.
Their destination and objective settled; the two made their way towards the summit of the second mountain of the Tachigari Mountain Range, Mount Hyutte. As the two were ascending the mountain, they were unaware that they would be encountering a Demon who would bring about a great divide within their little group, though divide was a rather exaggerated statement.
(Time Skip – An Hour Later)
(Scene Change - Inaba: Amagi Inn - Persona User's Room)
"Alright, is everyone here?" Akihiko asked as he glanced at the gathered faces before him, getting a call of affirmation from those gathered as he nodded his head before turning the floor to Mitsuru.
"Thank you, Akihiko. As all of you know, there seems to be a situation that could cause a disturbance in the world's balance. You all agreed to aid us in stopping that balance shift from occurring, knowing the consequences that are sure to follow, and for that I thank you." Mitsuru directed towards the younger group of Persona Users, getting a myriad of flushed faces when met with her winning smile.
"For you all to succeed and above all else, remain safe, I'm entrusting you with these. Be warned, they will only work if you are willing to allow them to work. The way that we summon our Persona and how you all summon yours are drastically different, so do not be discouraged if it doesn't work at first." She continued as she motioned for eight standing before her to open the cases laid out on the table, the eight gulping a bit as they followed her order.
"W-Wow..." Yosuke said in an awed tone as he stared at the silver colored evoker before him, gingerly and shakily picking it up as he admired its design.
"I-It's so beautiful..." Yukiko said in an enchanted tone as she felt as though the evoker held in her hand was made for her, moving the object around to examine and admire everything about it.
"These will be your evokers. Remember, they aren't true firearms so they will be utterly ineffective in that regard." She added as they all nodded at her words, Naoto in particular memorizing everything about the device held in her hands.
"The Evoker is symbolic of accepting death and the knowledge of mortality. It also acts as a reminder of how we can all die at a moment's notice while fighting Shadows or anything else in that regard." Akihiko continued as they all gulped as they were reminded of their own close calls while in the TV World, turning to face Hamuko when she stepped forward to address them.
"From what we can assume, the TV World's influences on a person's thoughts are much stronger and thus merely the thought of summoning a Persona can call it out. One can also summon a Persona in the real world without an evoker if they condition and train themselves to concentrate at extreme levels, like this for example." Hamuko started as she summoned Messiah with a simple thought, the act startling the Investigation Team as Hakumo did it without the aid of an evoker or a card.
"Though, a Persona can only be maintained for about an hour outside of the Dark Hour or TV World, so be mindful of that as there is a "cool down" or sorts, usually five to fifteen minutes give or take. Also, it does take a toll on you, whether you train or not. I can only summon mine about six times a day without my evoker before my head starts to feel like someone's cutting into it." She finished as Messiah returned to the sea of her soul, the others nodding at her statement as they hadn't experienced battling outside of the TV World.
"And don't be so down that you need the help of an evoker in summoning a Persona even after training, this isn't something that'll happen overnight. A few of us still can't summon ours reliably without our evokers." Shinjiro added as he gestured to himself, Fuuka, Chidori and Koromaru, getting a few relived smiles from the younger Persona Users at his honesty as they stared at the evokers held in their hands.
Hesitantly, they stared at each other as they awaited someone to lead the charge. Their eyes eventually fell on Yu as a wry laugh left his mouth at the attention being directed towards him. Gulping, he took a calming breath before glancing at the evoker held in his hand. Stiffly and slowly, he brought it to his head before leveling its barrel at his temple. Closing his eyes, he began squeezing the trigger as his heart started pounding harder and harder in his chest. Finally, he snapped his eyes open as he fully squeezed it.
"Persona!" He shouted as the sound of shattering glass filled the room, a blue fog emanating from the man as Izanagi-no-Okami materialized above him.
"Haa... Haa... T-That was something else..." Yu muttered in a frightened tone as he tried to catch his breath, the hand holding his evoker shaking as the full impact of what happened hit him.
"Should've known you'd be the one to take the first crack at it, and knock it straight outta the park." Junpei quipped as he flashed the younger man a grin, Yu shakily returning it as his heartbeat returned to a normal level.
"It's a natural reaction, trust me. After all, it's practically like shooting yourself in the head at first. The fact that you reflexively jerk your head away and hear your Persona breaking free from your psyche doesn't really do much to help either." Yukari added in a lighthearted manner as Yu nodded in a slightly shaky manner, patting himself on the chest to ease his heart as the others slowly followed suit.
Following their collective shouts, the sound of multiple panes of glass shattering sounded as a heavy blue fog filled the room. Evidently, the only one incapable of summon a Persona was Naoto, the young woman looking confusedly at the evoker held in her hand. Turning it over, she failed to see why she was unable to summon Yamato-Takeru. A small frown marring her face, she repeated the action once more only for nothing to occur once more. Upon seeing her distraught and crestfallen expression, her friends quickly moved to reassure her that it was just a minor issue with her concentration. Though, after a few more failed attempts, her person visibly started to show signs of defeat as she tightened her hold on the grip of her evoker. As her thoughts began to drift towards more pessimistic thoughts, the growing cloud of depression and anxiety on her person was erased when a hand found itself on her shoulder.
"I believe I might know the reason for what is happening, Naoto-san." Aigis said in a friendly manner as Naoto looked at her in an inquisitive manner, her eyes widening when she took in what Aigis told her.
(Time Skip – Seven Minutes Later)
"A feeling of fear and self-preservation is the key to summoning a Persona?" She asked as Aigis nodded her head, motioning towards the letter being protectively kept in her chest pocket.
"I assume that you aren't fearful of anything because Minato-san is still on the forefront of your mind. That letter that he left for you, he implicitly stated that you remain safe. I assume that letter, along with your past with him where he has adamantly stated that he would always protect you no matter the circumstances, has nearly removed all of the fear in your heart. You must remember that he will not be able to protect you at all times, times which you will need to be able to stand beside him when the moment comes." Aigis explained as Naoto gained a bit more resolve in her eyes, glancing down once more at the evoker before bringing it back to her head.
Pulling the trigger once more, her eyes closed as she focused on that single thought of being beside her beloved cousin, she was able to successfully summon Yamato-Takeru, a sigh of relief leaving her mouth when she did so. Returning her gaze to her friends, they all leveled a smile at her as she flushed slightly and turned away to avoid their gazes. With the Shadow Operatives, they were smirking as they knew that the younger group would be able to utilize their evokers with little to no problems.
Seeing that, they began the process of breaking down the teams, seeing that each group had at least one senior member included. After carefully breaking down the strengths and weakness of everyone, eventually the teams were formed as: Yukari, Shinjiro, Rise, Koromaru and Yukiko; Junpei, Chidori, Chie, Yosuke and Mitsuru; Ken, Akihiko, Yu, Kanji and Teddie; Hamuko, Aigis, Naoto and Fuuka.
"With this, every team has at least one member who has some support ability. Yamagishi, Kujikawa, Teddie and myself all have the ability to provide support to the others, no matter how limited Teddie and my own abilities are." Mitsuru explained as the others nodded in agreement to the team compositions, though Teddie complained that he didn't have any female members on his team.
That earned him a whack on the head by Chie, Rise, Kanji, Yosuke and Yu who reminded him to mind his manners, Mitsuru also adding onto it with an icy gaze that froze the blonde's blonde solid. Moving to their groups, the Persona Users began idly chatting as they discussed their strengths and weaknesses in much greater detail, ensuring that their offensive and defensive measures were adequate enough to deal with any situation that could be thrown at them. After ten minutes of drawing up a plan, they finally split up as they headed towards different parts of the region, intent on finding either the Shadow users or Minato.
(Scene Change - Tachigari Mountain Range: Mount Hyutte Eastern Slope)
"Haa... How are you holding up, Metis?" Minato asked as he shielded himself from the frigid winds that cut through the air, wincing a bit when he saw that parts of his clothing were beginning to get iced by the abnormally cold wind.
"I'm fine, Minato. I don't really have an issue with temperature unless it's exceedingly hot or cold, this isn't nearly enough to cause a problem for me." She replied in a calm and sure tone, the lack of anything but one of Minato's shirts and her cloak on her person adding to her statement.
"That's good to hear, then." He said as a sigh of relief left his mouth, Metis smiling softly as she moved closer to him before taking a hold of his hand with hers.
"Ahem, not to interrupt your moment with that strumpet, but something is near, Minato." Nyx said from within Minato's mind, the bluenette pausing as Metis looked up at him with concern etched onto her face.
"What's near? A Demon or a Persona? Can you judge the distance or direction, Nyx?" He asked as he heard her mentally nodding her head in acknowledgement, Minato tensing as he turned to look up towards the summit of the mountain.
"It appears to be another Demon, and a strong one at that given the spiritual energy emanating from it. It's most likely the cause of the biting cold that you're experiencing, aside from the high altitude of course. Based on how the spiritual energy is moving, it's situated on the summit of this mountain. While I'm sure you'll have no problem dealing with it, that tart beside you will no doubt get in the way." Nyx replied in a calm tone, though near the end of her explanation it turned more frigid then the air nipping at the bluenette.
"I understand that you don't particularly like Metis, but please keep the insults at a minimum, Nyx. Just like you, she's an important person to me." He reprimanded the jealous goddess in his soul, mentally sighing as he heard her huff in return.
"Looks like the majority of the cold we're feeling is being caused by the thing that's on top of the mountain. Based on how freezing the wind is, it's probably not a natural phenomenon. Be prepared, Metis, this could get serious." Minato told the raven haired woman beside him, Metis' eyes gaining a resolved look to them as she nodded her head in acknowledgement.
Quickly devising a plan of attack. Minato acting as the vanguard while Metis supported him from behind, they ascended the mountain with much more caution then before. Seeing as their equipment was limited, Metis and Minato equipped with the blades that she had when they joined, Minato had one secured for his use while Metis had the remaining two. Though, the raven haired woman still had one Demon in reserve for the upcoming battle. However, the thought of using it was one that Metis was dreading, having mixed feeling about the Demon as its relationship with the raven haired woman wasn't one that could be considered pleasant.
(Time Skip - An Hour Later)
(Scene Change - Tachigari Mountain Range: Mount Hyutte Summit)
Arriving at the summit of Mount Hyutte, Minato and Metis felt tension instantly fill their bodies, a strange haze minimizing the visibility of the two as they readied themselves. Becoming rigid as an eerie and ominous presence blanketed the area, Minato scanned the area and soon saw the faint outlines of the remains of the Contractors that Metis had informed him of earlier. Some were completely skeletal while others were preserved, mummified by the summit's climate. Tightening his grip on the blade held in his hand, Minato looked for any signs of what caused the deaths of the people strewn about the area, pausing when he saw a shadow begin to creep towards them from the epicenter of the haze.
"More Humans? Have you come to play with me too!" A playful and hopeful voice asked as it grew in volume, Minato narrowing his eyes when he finally caught sight of what the voice belonged to.
"What do we have here? How interesting… Of all the Demons that we could have encountered…" Nyx quipped in his mind with a tone of surprise with a strange sense of unease, Minato mentally raising a brow when he heard her tone.
The shadowy figure finally breaking from the haze, Minato blinked a bit when he saw that it was a young girl who was the origin of the voice. The girl was one that Minato considered both extremely cute and rather beautiful, the bluenette estimating that she probably stood at his chest level at her full height; a head of golden blonde hair that ended near the small of her back and shining red eyes that shone like rubies, a similar shade of crimson that matched with Metis' orbs. Dressed in a cute blue dress with white frills decorating it, she had a black lace ribbon tied on her collar with a white bow around her waist. A cute white bow headband and black shoes, she had an outfit that anyone would find both fitting and cute for a girl of her stature. Though, the only trait that threw Minato off from her appearing to be a normal girl, her healthy complexion seemingly glowing even in the sun depraved haze, was the visible and dense shroud of spiritual energy that emanated off of her person.
"Is that a Demon? She looks like any other girl." Minato quipped as he slowly slid into a loose but ready stance, Metis following suit as she held her blades to the side of her body.
"Based on what limited intel I have, there's no other being that should be up here. A girl her age, even if she was one of the Contractors, shouldn't be able to survive up her on her own." Metis added as she scanned the blonde girl while she did the same to the two of them, drawing a cute giggle from her as she twirled and beamed a happy and bright smile at the pair.
"Do not take her beguiling appearance lightly, Minato. That being there is most certainly a Demon. And a strong one at that if the shroud of spiritual energy shrouding her is truly her own." Nyx added in a calm but serious tone, Minato tensing a bit more as he narrowed his eyes on her smiling face.
"Alice. In recent mythos, she is said to be based on Lewis Carroll's character from his famous story Alice in Wonderland, part of Through the Looking Glass. The character Alice herself is said to be taken from Alice Pleasance Liddell, a little girl who was close to Carroll." Minato blinking a bit at Nyx's information as he had never heard of a Demon having been derived from a book of all things, though he shelved the though as Nyx continued her explanation.
"However, some say that she is also based on a myth of an Aryan girl who died at a young age. When Alice died and became a spirit, she gained extreme magical power that drove her insane. Alice was used to scare Scandinavian children into behaving, or else Alice would visit them at night and kill them so that she may become "friends" with them. For myself, I find myself unable to grasp the recent tale of her mythos. I would liken her existence to the latter explanation that I gave you, if I may." Nyx finished as Minato nodded his head in agreement, forgoing the former of her debriefing as Alice started to pout at the pair looking at her.
"Well? Are you two going to play with me? Ah, I remember now! I'm Alice! Who're you two!" Alice asked with a demandingly cute pout on her face, though it brightened instantly when she remembered to mind her manners and introduce herself.
"So, you're the Demon who no one has managed to subjugate or contract, I assume?" Metis said after a long period of silence, Alice giving her a confused glance as she debated how to answer the question.
"Subjugate and contract? They wanted to play with me and that's what we did! We had a lot of fun, too! Then everyone got tired decided to take a nap, but none of them have woken up yet, meanies." Alice answered in a cheerful and bright tone though it turned melancholic near the end, Minato grimacing a bit as the prospect of fighting such a seemingly innocent Demon weighed heavily on his mind.
"Playing? Napping? They aren't napping, you killed them all. Do you consider that playing?" Metis countered in a frigid tone as Alice visibly flinched at the question, her cheerful and bright eyes taking on a more forlorn and sullen tone.
"They wanted to play with me, right? A-And that's what we did, we just played… Right?" Alice asked in a slightly hesitant and frightened tone, Minato clenching the handle of the blade he was holding tighter as her expression reminded him of Naoto's when she was caught doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing.
"What you did, that wasn't playing, Alice. What happened to those people, the ones you 'played' with, was wrong." Minato told her in a gentle but scolding manner, the head of the Demon dropping slightly as she gripped the hem of her dress and fidgeted slightly.
"But… That's how everyone plays, right? My uncles told me that!" She replied in a hopeful and slightly brighter tone, the tension that filled the bodies of Minato and Metis growing as their instincts began to nip at them about the haze surrounding them.
"Minato, she's not the only Demon here, is she?" Metis asked in a tone that already knew the answer, Minato nodding his head as he dove to the right as a hellish blaze razed the area he was standing on.
Metis followed suit towards the left as heavy gale tore through the space she was standing on, the two standing back up to see two new Demons flanking Alice on both sides. One appeared to be a lizard-like man. Orange tinted skin with two sharp wings sprouting from its back, it had a head of what seemed to be slate-colored hair. A horned headpiece and loop earrings adoring its figure, it had a trident held firmly in its hand as it stared at the two.
The other Demon appeared to be a human with dark skin, though the otherworldly and pupil-less yellow eyes was a dead giveaway about its true nature. An orange loincloth along with an orange cloak covering its body, it marked with white tattoos in a skeletal-like image imprinted on its form. A head of purple hair, it had pointed ears and clawed hands, golden piercings with tassels trailing from one of them, teeth or claw like adornments ending their tips. Held in one of its hand was a marionette control bar, attached to the strings of a strange puppet.
"Minato, be careful. The two beside Alice are much stronger then the ones we've faced before. The first, to the left, is Belial. The 68th spirit in the Goetia, he is a mighty and powerful king. He was created next after Lucifer and is of his order. He appears in the form of a beautiful angel sitting in a chariot of fire and speaks with a comely voice. His office is to distribute preferments of senatorships and to cause favor of friends or foes. He bestows excellent familiars and governs 80 legions of spirits. Whoever summons him must have offerings of gifts or sacrifices or he will not give true answers to their demands, but even then with those, he will not spend more than one hour on the truth unless constrained by divine power or his seal, to be worn as a lamin by the person who summons him. - The Lesser Key of Solomon." Nyx said as she explained the origins of the lizard-like Demon, Minato unable to find any semblance of an Angel in the Demon.
"As for the other, that is Nebiros. The demon Nebiros was first mentioned by a Johann Wier in 1583. He is supposedly the most valiant Marquis of Hell, has nineteen legions of demons under his command. He makes men cunning in all arts (and sciences, according to most authors), but especially in rhetoric, speaking with a hoarse voice. He also restores lost dignities and honors, although according to Wier he procures the loss of them. The 24th spirit of the Goetia, Naberius appears as a three-headed dog or a raven. He has a raucous voice but presents himself as eloquent and amiable. He teaches the art of gracious living. He is depicted as a crow or black crane." Nyx continued as Minato shifted his gaze to the other Demon, still unable to see a semblance of what the mythos of it had to do with its appearance.
"Uncles, what are you two doing here? You said you would be gone for a long time!" Alice asked in an excited tone as she beamed a smile at the two of them, though all she got in turn was a rough shove to their flanks as they stepped forward.
"Quiet! We have business with that human, there." Belial spat in a hateful tone as he glared at Minato, the bluenette narrowing his eyes at the action as he settled back into a loose but ready stance.
"We have no need for you, abomination." Nebiros said as he held his hand out towards Metis, the young lady's eyes widening as a heavy and much faster gale sent her barreling away from the bluenette.
"Metis!" Minato shouted as he saw her get sent flying back to where they had ascended, though he was broken from his concerned state when another wave of fire ripped through space.
"To worry about another in your position? You must be quite prideful!" Belial sneered as he rushed down Minato after lowering his trident and angling it towards the bluenette, Minato cursing as he met the oncoming Demon's charge head on.
A heavy and shrill clang echoing as the two met, Minato narrowed his eyes as he saw Belial take a lungful of air. Cursing once more, he quickly crouched as the Demon let loose a stream of fire, though it was instantly snuffed out when Minato rose and slammed the mouth of the Demon shut with his free hand. A muffled shout of pain leaving Belial's mouth, it was finally vocalized when a brutal knee slammed into his abdomen, sending him reeling back as Minato rushed to drive his blade into him.
His rush was interrupted, however, as Nebiros cut off his path with another torrent of wind. His eyes locking onto the cloaked Demon, he was about to shift targets only to backpedal as Belial's trident gored the ground before him. The Demon quickly tearing it free from its ice and earthen sheath, Belial snarled at the bluenette as he unleashed a flurry of thrusts that were evaded by the man to the increasing ire of the Demon.
"Uncle? Can I play too?" Alice asked Nebiros in a polite but slightly anxious manner, though her curious mood shifted to a frightened one when she saw the expression on the face of the taller Demon.
"Quiet! We have no time for games! A being like you will only impede our progress, now hold your tongue or I'll tear it out of you!" He snapped at her as Alice visibly flinched, taking a shaky step back as the tone of the Demon held nothing but contempt and disgust.
The young Demon was confused to say the least, never having felt or heard such hostility from the two beings that were with her since her 'birth'. Were they not the ones who promised to play with her forever, should she listen and do what they said? Her smile dropping, her shining eyes dulling, Alice lowered her hands and gripped the hem of her skirt once more as she obediently and fearfully shook her head at the order. Seeing her like that, Nebiros scoffed before returning his gaze to Belial and Minato, though his eyes widened when a brutal slash caught him straight across the face.
"Gyaah!" Nebiros screamed in pain as Metis finished the arc of her slash, narrowing her eyes as she moved to unleash a fierce volley of additional slashes and thrusts on the stunned and bleeding Demon.
In a similar situation as Metis, Minato was easily overpowering Belial without the aid of his partner, screams and shouts of agony resounding from the bleeding form of the crimson colored Demon. A sharper cry sounding when Minato buried his blade into the side of the Demon's neck, Belial avoided having his vitals being severed with the scales that covered his form, those scales having diverted the path of the blade. Seeing that, Minato added to the suffering of the Demon when he cruelly ripped his blade out of its newfound sheathe. The surge of pain along with the biting wind causing Belial to grab at his gaping wound, Minato took advantage of his misery as he secured the Demon's trident for his own use.
"Tch!" Minato sounded as he felt his palms instantly begin to burn as he held the trident, Nyx working quickly to counter and negate the flow of Demonic energy seeping into him from the weapon to his relief.
"Do not give them a moment of reprieve, Minato. If those two manage to regroup once more things will only become more troublesome. That is not accounting for that third Demon." Nyx commented as she memorized everything that was occurring through the window of Minato's soul, the bluenette nodding his head as he delivered a brutal blow to an exposed wound on the Demon's side with the appropriated trident.
As the cries of pain from her 'Uncles' began to increase in volume, Alice snapped her eyes shut as she covered her ears to rid them of the painful and scary sights and sounds that assaulted them. She didn't understand, when she was 'playing' with the humans earlier, they weren't making sounds like what she was currently experiencing at all. They were laughing and crying with joy, not screaming and screeching with pain and agony.
Soon, her form was shaking like a leaf in the wind as the battle before her began to ramp up in intensity, Belial and Nebiros having had their rage finally bubble and boil over as their magical pressure increased in volume. As a sphere of magical energy consumed their forms, Minato and Metis quickly regrouped as they readied themselves for the next assault from the Demons, taking a moment to catch their breaths from their successful assault. Though, their forms instantly turned rigid when the sphere quickly compressed before shooting towards Alice, entering the Demon's body as an otherworldly scream left her mouth.
"Damn them…" Minato spat out in a hateful and enraged tone as he watched the previously shaking and cowering Demon scream and flail about in anguish, Metis looking on in a calculating manner as she memorized any and all blind spots of the Demon.
"Minato, now would be a perfect chance to end her." Metis said in a calm and calculated tone, Minato shaking his head as the raven haired woman looked at him with a bit of confusion.
"We don't know what's going on with Alice, getting too close could be what those two want when they entered her. Also, don't want to hurt her if possible." He responded in kind as Metis blinked at his words, though she choose to follow them as she returned her focus to the thrashing and screaming Demon before them.
Though, as the two were contemplating their next choice of action, they tensed when Alice's form slackened and her screams stilled. With silence taking over the area, Metis was about to comment on the situation at hand only to be blown away when Alice raised her hand towards her and released a quick and foggy blast of wind. A startled shout leaving her mouth, she was sent to the opposite side of the clearing as Minato raced after her.
"Minato! Quickly, to your right!" Nyx shouted from the confines of his soul, Minato immediately diving towards his right as a torrent of fire razed his original path.
Mentally thanking Nyx, Minato whipped his body around and raced towards the blonde Demon as a bit of fire began to dance around her extended hand. Clicking his teeth a bit in irritation, he sidestepped another wave of fire while he drew his arm back, the bluenette tensing as he stopped short before the blonde Demon. Tightening his focus, he curled his fingers before slamming his palm into the abdomen of the Demon as a gasp of pain left her mouth. The blow sending her flying back due to her small frame and the force he applied, Minato was about to follow up on his attack only to grit his teeth in pain as a small spire of ice of shredded his lower right leg.
"Tsk! I see no value in keeping her alive, Minato! I demand you release me this instant so I can end her!" Nyx snarled from the confines of the bluenette's mind, Minato choosing not to answer her as he shattered the jagged ice shrouding his leg with his trident before freeing it.
"That's not going to happen, Nyx. She's just a scared and lonely girl; those emotions were taken advantage of by those two Demons. You can't honestly say that when you saw her eyes, can you?" Minato countered as he heard a huff of irritation in turn, Minato taking a moment and a breath to calm himself.
As he was about to release the lungful of air he had, Minato's eyes widened when he saw Metis come sprinting out of snow pile she had been sent into earlier with the signature pink shroud of her Orgia mode. About to call out to her, Minato flinched when he saw her speeding towards himself. Quickly bringing up his trident, it clashed with Metis' blade as a shower of spark rained between them. Narrowing his eyes, Minato managed to see that Metis' normally brilliant and lively ruby eyes were blank and unfocused though they shone with a bright red.
"It appears that, that strumpet has been afflicted with Charm. Taking her out of this battle would be the best course of action at this point, Minato." Nyx relayed to her partner in a droll tone, Minato clicking his teeth in irritation as he intercepted Metis' extended arm as she tried to stab him.
"Snap out of it, Metis!" Minato barked at her in a stern manner, his expression becoming a bit more irked when he failed to see even a glimmer of recognition pass her eyes.
"That earlier fog that struck her must have had a particularly strong Charm effect tied together with it. Speaking to her will not break her Charmed state, Minato. The feasible courses of action are to apply enough force to break her from that state, use a spell or item to free her from it or disable the original applicator of the Charm. And seeing as you don't want to harm her and we lack the appropriate items or spells to free her, that leaves one option." Nyx stated as Minato nodded his head in reluctant understanding, tightening his grip on Metis' arm before wrenching it around and locking against her back as he speared his trident into the ground.
"Sorry about this, Metis." Minato whispered in a guilty tone, raising his free hand before striking her roughly but precisely on the back of the neck.
"Don't be, Minato. It was her carelessness that landed her in this pitiful situation, after all." Nyx quipped in a rather snide tone, Minato mentally berating her for her attitude once again as she huffed in turn.
A gasp of pain leaving her mouth, Metis soon fell out of her Orgia mode as Minato caught her and made sure she wasn't harmed elsewhere. Seeing her unconscious face, the bluenette had a sigh of relief leave his person as he avoided harming her more then he needed to. Though, he quickly shifted the sleeping body of the raven haired young lady into his arms before bolting to the cover of one of the many rocky outcroppings dotting the summit of the mountain, begrudgingly having had to abandon his newfound weapon. Gently leaning her against the formation they were huddled behind, Minato took off his jacket before placing it over the prone body of the young lady. Once he was sure that she was relatively safe, given the current situation, Minato moved to race back out before Alice could uncover Metis' defenseless form.
Taking a breath to calm himself, the bluenette's eyes widened a bit with shock when he saw the face of the Demon immediately after turning around. Acting quickly, Minato rushed forward before tackling and picking up Alice, moving as fast as possible to create some distance between her and Metis. As he was a sizable distance from the unconscious ravenette, Minato grit his teeth as he felt his person get immensely heavy, as though someone had encased his person in cement or stone. A bit of sweat beginning to form on his face, he felt as though the heaviness in his body was beginning to grow at an increasing rate.
"Minato, let go of her now! She's starting to curse your body!" Nyx exclaimed in a panicked tone, Minato narrowing his eyes as he threw the Demon across the grounds.
"Haa… What exactly was that, Nyx?" Minato asked his partner as he caught his breath while wiping away his sweat, Nyx also letting a relieved breath leave as she felt the curse already beginning to weaken.
"It could have been a multitude of things, Minato, but its source is the same. It was a rather powerful curse, given that it was able to affect you, let alone in such a short amount of time. But from how it was affecting your body, I'm under the assumption that it was either a petrification or agility binding curse. It appears that prolonged contact with her will initiate the curse, seeing as you weren't affected when you struck her earlier as opposed to the continued contact with her when you were holding her earlier. Though, now that I have a relative grasp on it, it shouldn't affect you as it did with me diluting its effect should you choose to grab her once more." Nyx explained as Minato nodded his head in understanding as he felt his body getting lighter, letting a breath escape as he saw Alice rise once more.
However, unlike a normal being that would rise using its limbs to aid itself, Alice rose as though someone had strings attached to her. Her body tilting until it was in a standing position, it screamed of an abnormal power at work, not accounting for the fact she was a Demon, herself. Once she was upright, she gazed directly into Minato's eyes as his own blinked in turn at what he saw. Because standing and staring down Minato wasn't a Demon who had been imbued with the strength of two more and a desire to cause more death then was already present, but a terrified little girl who was begging for someone to save her from the darkness that was binding her.
Seeing that, seeing the pain, loneliness, fear and confusion that swam in the depths of her glazed eyes, Minato felt his resolve to end this confrontation as soon as possible rise. With his resolve, so did his anger at the two Demons who instigated the affair, Belial and Nebiros. Taking another breath to ease his frazzled nerves, Minato settled back into a loose but ready stance as he scanned the area for any elements he could use to his advantage. A few seconds passing and a rough plan in tow, Minato refocused his attention on Alice as his eyes locked with hers.
"Don't worry, Alice. Things will be over soon." Minato told her in a comforting tone, smirking a bit when he saw her eyes shine a bit before dulling once more.
The sight of that light, that small light in her eyes was enough to reassure Minato that the girl was still somewhere inside of there. With that thought in mind, he raced forward once more, Alice raising a hand as the same foggy and quick wave of wind sped towards him. Narrowing his eyes, Minato lowered his body and sprang to the side as the cloud passed harmlessly beside him. Mentally nodding his head as he saw that it was slower then before, he returned his focus to Alice and saw that small beads of sweat were beginning to form on her face.
Seeing that, he doubled his efforts to save the Demon in front of him before the two who were manipulating her burned her life force out. Quickly shifting to the right as a stream of ice surged towards him, Minato darted forward using the momentum of his slide and jump. The distance between the two instantly closed when the bluenette kicked off the ground and stopped beside of her, Minato lashing out with a palm strike to the side of Alice's face. The blow causing her head to snap to the side, Minato followed up by delivering another strike with the heel of his palm to the chest of the Demon, mentally beating himself for striking a maiden on her bosom in such an indecent manner; a sentiment that Nyx shared wholeheartedly.
"Her chest!? You could have struck her anywhere else, but you choose to strike her with your open palm on her breast?! Are you trying to subdue her or grope her!? Do not tell me you are into women with petite figures?!" She barked at him in a heated and incredulous tone, Minato stifling the retort that sat on the edge of his tongue as a column of fire forced him to the side.
"Now's not the time, Nyx. Can you get ready to delay the Curse from taking effect?" The bluenette asked as he grabbed Alice's wrist and wrenched her arm behind her, hooking his right leg before her left and forcing her face first to the ground before planting a knee on her forearm and back to prevent her from moving.
Getting a huff in turn for ignoring her questioning, Minato did feel slightly heavier at first only for it to fade as quickly as it came. Ushering thanks to his partner, a huff once again left her lips as the bluenette let out a sigh at her current attitude. Glancing down, Minato placed one hand on the back of Alice's head before forcing it into the ground and exposing her neck. As he was about to strike Alice on the back of the neck, granted he didn't know if a humanoid Demon like herself would be affected in the same manner as a human after being struck in such a sensitive area, he was forced off her as another a wild storm of spiritual energy surged off her form.
Hitting an outcropping of rock, a pained grunt left his mouth as he shook his head to rid it of the small spots that dotted his vision. Snapping his attention to Alice's form, his eyes widened when he saw her previously blank expression twisted into that of absolute pain and torment. Blood flowing from her eyes and her entire body was shaking like a leaf in the wind, the unstable maelstrom of spiritual energy shrouding her continuing to fluctuate and grow as did her tormented expression. Seeing that, Minato felt his previously cooling rage surge back to boiling, clenching his fists as he racked his brain for a way to save the Demon before him.
"Minato. I don't think there's a chance to save that Demon. With how unstable the spiritual energy flowing off of her is, she's only a few more moments before she detonates. I strongly urge you to gather the body of that strumpet and escape before we're caught in the radius the oncoming discharge." Nyx suggested to the seething bluenette, the young man turning to look back at the rock formation that Metis was huddled behind before shifting to look at Alice once more.
"Then there's no time to waste." He stated in a calm and collected tone, his confidence and calm drawing a beautiful smile to the face of the goddess residing within him.
"Hmph. Just don't expect me to aid you, Minato. I have no desire to gain more contenders, I'll have you know." Nyx quipped as Minato raised a mental brow at her statement, getting a giggle in turn as he refocused his attention to Alice.
"Get ready, Nyx. Moonless Gown!" Minato called out as he sprinted forward while pulling out his evoker, bringing it to his temple before pulling the trigger as the sound of something shattering sounded.
"Of course, Minato! I assume you would like me to cast it on that strumpet as well, no?" Nyx said in a cheerful tone as she was brought out into the material plane, seeing Minato nod his head as he lowered his evoker to his side.
Smiling beautifully at him, Nyx closed her eyes as she wrapped her wings around herself before spreading them wide, a pale whitish-blue barrier soon appearing around Minato and Metis' forms. Seeing the barrier shrouding him, he let a smile mar his face as he increased his speed, reaching Alice's shaking form within seconds. Stopping short in front of her, he locked gazes with her and felt his heart ache as she stared at him with terrified and pained eyes, Minato offering her a comforting smile as he brought his evoker to his head.
"Magic Seal!" He called out as Nyx closed her eyes once more while Minato brought his evoker up, raising her hand towards Alice as the younger Demon's own widened in fear and confusion.
Pulling the trigger, the same sound of something shattering rang out as a purple seal with archaic symbols materialized beneath Alice. The Demon immediately panicking upon seeing it, she begged her body to move before whatever the seal represented affected and harmed her. But seeing that she wasn't in control of herself, Alice's franticly darting eyes eventually gained a look that wounded the heart of the man standing before him; as the eyes of the Demon finally settled into a defeated and resigned state. Her eyes closing, a few more tears of blood flowed from her eyes as the seal began to glow beneath her. Soon enough, a dense and intense glow of purple consumed the area, drowning out all sense of color and sound, nothingness soon taking over as stillness covered the area. But that was all broken when the sound of something shattering sounded through the area.
"Kotoludi!" Minato said as a pale blue circle appeared beneath Alice, the eyes of the Demon having remained closed since she was enveloped by the purple light of the last spell.
Those eyes snapped open as did her mouth as screams of the two Demons who were residing within her were forcibly ripped out of her body. The screaming souls of Belial and Nebiros flowing out of her mouth and eyes, Alice uttered choked sounds as she felt her "uncles" being pulled from her person. Watching with wide eyes and confusion plastered onto her face, Alice saw Minato slowly stalk towards the ethereal forms of Belial and Nebiros with a cool rage reflected in his eyes. Stopping short of the unstable forms of the two Demons, he offered them a merciless smirk as they look up at him with terrified expression on their visages.
"W-What are you!? Y-You! You can't be a mere human! Explain this, this instant!" Belial demanded in a frightened tone, his eyes wide with fear unlike anything he had experienced in his existence.
"M-Mercy! W-We were wrong to have crossed you! We will reform our ways! You will not hear tale of us any longer!" Nebiros pleaded as he lowered his head towards the bluenette towering before him, Minato's eyes sharpening as he raised his evoker once more.
"Time to end this. Night Queen." Minato spat out in a frigid tone as he pulled the trigger, the heads of the Demons snapping up with fear as they instantly turned tail to flee.
"Such craven and pitiful Demons. Perish and become fodder for my beloved and I." Nyx ushered as she raised her blade, black and crimson energy covering the blade before she brought it forward.
As soon as her blade was brought forward, crimson pillars of energy rained down on the relative area that the two Demons were fleeing towards. Their eyes widening, soon screams of agony ripped free from their throats as their forms were consumed by the all-ending energy Nyx controlled. A ruthless smile gracing her beautiful features, Nyx descended beside her partner as he turned to give her a smile in turn, her merciless expression instantly melting and being replaced with a loving one as she moved to plant her lips softly on his cheek.
"Honestly, all this trouble for a single Demon. With the latent spiritual power that I can feel from her, just imagine how much growth we would receive if we finished her. With her current state, it would be as simple as a snapping of my fingers" Nyx stated as she turned to look at Alice's fallen form, rivers of red still flowing from her eyes and mouth as she weakly glanced up to look at the pair.
Though, Minato opted to ignore her as she huffed in turn at his lack of response. Her expression becoming a bit bitter as she knew that the kind heart of the man she loved was open to the suffering of all that they would evidently encounter. A soft sigh leaving her lips, Nyx was about to speak but froze as did Minato. Again, there was that same chilling but warm sensation that resulted from destroying a Demon or Shadow. But unlike Minato who let a shaky breath loose, Nyx had a broad smile grace her beautiful features as she flung her arms around her partner and planted a kiss on his lips.
"Minato! W-We've grown even stronger then before!" She exclaimed in an excited tone, drawing a slightly dry look from the bluenette as he knew what her excitement stemmed from.
"I know I'm gonna regret asking, but how much stronger do you think we've gotten?" He asked in a curious tone as she beamed a bright smile at him, snuggling against him as he sighed at her reaction.
"Based on my estimates, we've most likely become at least three times as strong if not more! Those two pitiful Demons gave quite the amount of 'experience' as you said before. I assume the colossal jump from what we were to what we are now has to do with the 'experience' that we've gained. As you've stated before, if we use a video game as an analogy, from the prospective of the universe we're nothing but 'beginners' or 'level one' for reference. Take those two Demons, ones that the universe have deemed as 'veterans' or a much higher 'level' if we continue with our analogy from before, and compare them to ourselves in the reference of the universe. Logically, there is absolutely zero chance that a 'beginner' could ever hope to defeat a 'veteran', that applies to all things. But we did exactly that, we as 'beginners' annihilated those 'veterans' and in doing so broke the 'logic' that governs the universe. The active result of doing that must have skewed those values and resulted in our massive jump in strength, similarly to defeating a grandiose final encounter character as a beginning level one character." She explained as Minato nodded at her words, the video gaming analogy definitely aiding in breaking down the results of what had just occurred.
The two of them, as level one's could not have possibly defeated Belial and Nebiros who, for reference sake, were level ten according to the laws of the universe. But they had done exactly that, and in doing so had gained an exorbitant amount of 'experience'. That massive gap in perceived strength must have inflated the amount of 'experience' that they received in comparison to what they received when they defeated the Jibakurei from the before. Still, the fact that they had, at the absolute minimum, tripled their strength unnerved the bluenette. Because he knew and knew that Nyx knew from the depths of her soul, that such power was never to be earned in such an easy manner. Even with the slight pleasure that came from knowing that he and his partner were three times stronger then they were previously, the guard and tension of the bluenette increased just as much.
Because power was never given without a price to be paid in turn, that unnamed price was what unnerved the young man more then anything he had encountered thus far. As Nyx continued to coddle and nuzzle the bluenette, unaware of his concerns, she eventually albeit reluctantly, returned to his side as they made their way towards the prone body of Alice, the Demon gazing at them with the same resignation she had in her eyes from earlier.
"Looks like things are over, Alice." Minato ushered in a soft tone, kneeling down and gently picking up Alice's body.
"I… What's going to happen to me…?" She asked in a soft and acquiescent tone, shakily managing to raise her head to lock gazes with Minato's.
"That's all dependent on you, Alice. What do you want to do?" Minato asked in the same soft tone, Alice's eyes gaining an unfocused look to them as she closed them.
"I… I don't want to die… I want to keep playing with everyone…" She said in a frightened and shaking tone, more tears of blood beginning to flow from her eyes as she weakly gazed up at Minato's face.
"Could… Could you please die for me?" She asked in a fragile and scared manner, Nyx instantly being set on edge as Alice used what was left of her strength to lean upwards and capture the lips of the man.
While it seemed like a simple kiss at first, it soon became apparent that it was far different as a heavy surge of spiritual energy prevented anyone from closing the distance between the two at its core. Still stunned due to the nature of what had happened with her so close by, Nyx was blown away when that storm of energy rushed from the pair. As soon as she snapped out of her daze, Nyx gained an expression of absolute fury as she rushed forward with her blade bared before furiously grinding it against the barrier of spiritual energy, all the while screaming obscenities at both parties responsible for her rage.
In the throes of her fury, she noticed movement to her side and saw that Metis had finally awoken from her slumber. Blinking a bit as she was out of the loop, her eyes widened when she finally connected the dots and moved to aid Nyx in any way that she could. Following Nyx and her example, she swung and began to grind her own blades against the barrier as she gritted her teeth at the forced being exerted on her arms.
"W-What's going on!? Is Minato ok?!" She asked in a panicked tone towards the goddess beside her, getting a scoff in turn to her dismay.
"The moment you finally awaken, you're still far too slow. Minato has been tricked by that damned Alice, that tart having stolen something of his that rightfully belongs to me and me alone." She snapped as Metis blinked a bit at how hostile the goddess was towards her, gulping a bit as she returned her focus to breaking down the barrier that laid before her.
As she tried breaking down and deciphering what Nyx had told her, it finally clicked in Metis' mind as she narrowed her eyes in turn. A surge of anger and jealousy beginning to flow through her body, Metis' efforts doubled as she entered her Orgia mode, the telltale signs of being empowered showing on her person driving her to clash harder against the barrier. Blinded by their rage and jealousy, the two were entirely ignorant of the ordeal that Minato was facing at the same moment.
For the bluenette, the instant Alice connected her lips to his; immense agony tore through his person and being. Feeling like his existence was being ripped apart on a base level, it was only made worse when he felt his mind beginning to break and splinter like glass. Though it wasn't as agonizing as the feeling of his soul being ripped apart, the bluenette barely able to comprehend the anguish he has experiencing as he mind worked fervidly to sum up the torment he was being subjected to, to something that he could understand and feel.
The moment they shared a kiss, Alice began to sap the strength and energy of the bluenette for herself. A few tears falling from her eyes at the underhanded and cowardly act of kissing and stealing something so precious to him, she silently prayed that the man would forgive her for her actions. Not wanting to open her eyes and lock them with the most likely hateful and angered eyes of Minato, Alice focused on taking enough of the man's strength to recover her own and bring her out of the gates of destruction, pleading that Minato wouldn't hold it against her as farfetched as it seemed.
"Please… Please forgive me… I don't want to die… I want to keep playing with everyone… I want to play with you too, so please… Don't hate me…" She pleaded in her mind in the hopes that somehow Minato heard her, more tears streaming down her face as she felt her strength returning.
"Guh...!" Minato thought as he tried to endure the torture that he was being subjected to, feeling even more agony when he began to experience every negative emotion and memory that Alice was subconsciously sharing with him.
Seeing her past, her memories of loneliness and pain in the orphanage she was forced to live in, the memory of her death and the memory of her resurrection and subsequent servitude towards Belial and Nebiros; Minato mentally fortified his person to endure and share the pain of the crying Demon attached to his person.
Though, compared to the feeling of diving through the world's collective negative and bitter emotions when he returned to the world of the living, her negative emotions and memories were like a minor headache in comparison. Clenching his fists tight enough to draw blood, he tried not to grit his teeth and bite the lips of the Demon. The same was soon true for Alice, the Demon soon experiencing the emotions and memories of the man, her own guilt and shame growing when she realized what kind of person he truly was beneath his impassive demeanor as more tears began to fall from her eyes.
After what seemed like an eternity, which in reality was a meager two minutes, Alice parted from the man with a flushed expression mixed with that of guilt and shame. With the kiss she had stolen from Minato finally finished, the barrier of spiritual energy soon weakened before fading completely as the forms of Metis and Nyx instantly came into view. Seeing their burning gazes directed towards the both of them, Alice's eyes widened as she pulled Minato towards her chest in a show of protection that baffled and momentarily quelled the anger swimming through the bodies of the two.
"P-Please don't hurt him! I-I was the only who did everything, s-so I'm the only one who has to get in t-trouble!" She begged the two of them in a fearful tone, trying to draw their anger away from the bluenette as they winced with guilty looks on their faces.
About to comment on her words, their eyes widened and their words died in their throats when the saw the condition of the blue haired man. Blood was flowing freely from his eyes and the corner of his mouth, his eyes unfocused and slightly glazed over. As soon as he was given the chance, Minato instantly began gritting his teeth as he fought the urge to fall into the darkness that was beckoning to him to accept its embrace. Seeing that, Nyx and Metis rushed to his side as Alice helped support his cooling body.
"Minato!" Came the panicked shout of Metis as she held his slowly trembling form, tending to him as he fought against the urge to lose the battle against the darkness creeping on the edge of his vision.
"You! What have you done to him!?" Nyx all but demanded as she snarled at Alice's shaking figure, growing even more enraged when she saw the lost expression on her face.
"I… I-I took some of his strength…" She whispered in a guilty and shamed tone, Nyx biting back the retort on her tongue as she saw the genuine emotions on the face of the Demon.
The internal struggle building within her to either rebuttal the Demon or cut her down, Nyx was about to follow up with the latter despite Minato's insistence on saving her. Those thoughts were broken when Minato crumpled and dropped to both knees, vomiting a mouthful of blood to the horror of the three present. Nyx instantly moving to rub his back soothingly as he started coughing violently, Metis reaching into her pouch and pulling out a small flask before bringing it to his lips and letting the liquid flow down his throat.
"N-No! What's happening to him?!" Metis asked in a panicked and terrified tone, finding that even the healing water she had tried to give him failed to do a thing.
"This wretched Demon took part of his life force and spiritual energy, an obscene amount. Normally, being drained of his life and energy wouldn't even affect him, but based on how much he's suffering; she took an amount that would kill twenty men four times over." Nyx muttered with a shaky tone as Alice let a few more tears fall from her eyes, the trio growing even more fearful when he had another violent fit of vomiting blood.
The pain tearing through his body becoming more intense as the seconds ticked by, Minato was entirely reliant on Nyx and Metis' support as he began to lose the strength in his body. Shakily, he raised his head to meet Alice's gaze as the Demon flinched when she caught sight of his eyes. Though it was clear as day that he was in agony that could end the lives of many, his eyes didn't betray his resolve as they were as soft and gentle as they were earlier when he was reassuring her that she would be saved. A small and guilty smile marring the Demon's face, Alice raised her hands towards him as Metis and Nyx instantly shielded his person from her, rage unlike anything they have showed marring their faces. Though, Alice mustered all her courage and ignored their piercing gazes, a warm light emanating from her hands as the looks of the two shifted to an understanding albeit wary one at what she was about to do.
"Diarahan." She whispered in a soft and apologetic tone, an equally warm and comforting light shrouding Minato as he instantly felt some of his strength returning.
With Alice providing the healing that Nyx and Metis themselves could not, they begrudgingly felt a bit of gratitude for what she was doing, though it still failed to outweigh the fact that she caused his condition in the first place. Watching with slightly wary eyes, they saw that Minato was beginning to breath a bit lighter then he was before, the bluenette eventually reaching out and taking a hold of Alice's hands with his own as she flinched a bit at the contact. A bit startled that he had touched her, Alice immediately awaited the words of hate and anger that would no doubt be thrown her way, snapping her eyes shut as she await the flash of pain that would no doubt be sent her way when he struck her.
But with the seconds passing and feeling nothing but the cold wind nipping at her face, Alice slowly peeked at the man still holding her hands before widening them when she saw a small smile marring his face. Blinking a bit, Alice was about to comment on why he didn't strike or yell at her only for her words to die in her mouth when he reached for her and gently place his hand on her head. Her thoughts completely blanking, her cold and scared body was filled with foreign but comforting warmth as she unconsciously leaned her head deeper into his hand to feel more of it. Seeing that, Minato's smile became a bit wider as he softly ran his hand through her hair and played with the ribbon that laced it, drawing a small but radiant smile from the blonde Demon as she drank in all the warmth that he was offering her.
"Thank you, Alice." He said in a soft and gentle tone, the Demon's eyes snapping open as she appeared as though he had struck her.
"B-But… Why…? I… I asked you to die for me? I almost killed you, killed you trying to save myself... So why are you thanking me?" She asked in a tone of genuine confusion, her question mirrored by the two ladies beside him as they had their expressions twisted into those of envy and jealousy.
"I saw it in your eyes when you kissed me earlier. If you were intent on actually killing me, you wouldn't have stopped as soon as you were sure that you had taken just enough of my strength to live. And even more, you used some of that strength you had taken to heal me. No one who does that is as evil as they think they are." He told her in a reassuring tone, the blonde Demon's eyes softening as she adverted her gaze downwards.
Seeing that, Nyx and Metis raised a brow as they opted to shelve their petty jealousy. But that same shelved jealousy came crashing down from its shelf when they saw the deepening pink that began to spread across Alice's cheeks, their brows soon twitching when the blonde Demon began to fidget slightly with the hem of her dress. The sight of another contender for the heart of the young man they adored appearing right before their eyes, the two instantly asserted their positions as they intimately and haughtily secured Minato's arms between their own. Though, all they got in turn for their actions was a tilt of the head from Alice and a raised brow from Minato.
"Something the matter, you two?" Minato asked in a knowing tone, the bluenette smirking slightly when he saw the two huff and pout while tightening their holds on his arms.
"That looks nice…" Alice said in a soft and longing tone, her eyes equally as soft as she imagined herself in the same position as the two in front of her.
"If only it were so. Having this trollop also latched onto Minato like a leech draws away from the feeling." Nyx quipped as Metis' brow twitched intently at the insult, though she opted to focus her attention on ensuring that Minato was as healthy as he appeared.
"Does it hurt anywhere, Minato? Unlike that witch, I need to make sure that you're alright." She asked in a concerned tone as she fretted over the bluenette, her barb instantly drawing blood as Nyx's presence nearly tripled in pressure.
"Unhand him this instant, you harlot. If you do not heed my warning and release him within the next three seconds, death will be but a fleeting dream for you." Nyx bit out in a frigid tone, her anger only increasing when she saw Metis gasp and bury her face into Minato's chest.
"Minato! Please protect me!" Metis exclaimed in a tone of mock fright, Nyx instantly gnashing her teeth in sheer anger as she watched Metis play the part of the victim and force the role of the assaulter on herself.
Watching the scene before her of the trio playing so freely and light heartedly with each other, Alice couldn't help the seed of envy that sprouted within her heart. Her eyes becoming a bit downcast, her negative emotions were quickly picked up on by the bluenette as he gave her a soft gaze. Deciding that there had been enough banter between Metis and Nyx, Minato broke the deadlock as he stood, wincing a bit as his soul was still a bit unstable even with Alice's healing. When they caught sight of that, the trio was instantly at his side; Metis and Nyx blinking a bit when they saw Alice hugging Minato in the front to help steady his person.
"M-Minato! Be careful! You're still in no condition to be moving, even with the healing that she gave you!" Metis told him in a concerned and slightly scolding manner, Nyx begrudgingly agreeing as she cursed her lack of recovery magic.
"I'm fine. I need to find a COMP before anything else." He stated as Metis and Nyx blinked before realization dawned on them from their conversation yesterday, Alice seemingly still confused about the conversation.
"COMP? What's it look like? I can help you find it! B-But only if you want me to, though." Alice said in an excited tone as she beamed at the prospect of helping the young man who held no anger towards her, though her tone shifted to a softer and much less confident one once she realized that she was being a bit pushy.
"That'll be a big help, Alice. Metis, could you show her your COMP?" Minato told the Alice in a reassuring tone, getting a bright smile in turn as Metis obligated his request and held her wrist out to the blonde Demon.
"This is a COMP. There should be one hanging on the wrist of the people you… Played with…" Metis said in a cool and level tone, Alice flinching slightly as she nodded softly while the atmosphere turned a bit awkward for the most part.
"Right, well let's start looking. If possible, let's try and salvage everything that could potentially be of use from those bodies while we're at it. Afterwards, I want to bury them if we've got the time." Minato stated as the others nodded their heads in turn, breaking into individual groups to the dismay of the four females present.
But despite that, the four pushed onwards and scavenged the bodies of the slain Contractors, a technical three when Nyx returned to the sea of Minato's soul to Metis' annoyance. Metis wincing a bit when she saw the damage and decay that the corpses exhibited, she became a bit wary when she saw Alice skipping through the bodies scattered around the area like a child in a toy store; the blonde Demon energetically and playfully flipping over the bodies like a child would a stone or log. Shaking her head at the rather distasteful sight, the ravenette continued with her own search as the COMPs that she found were broken beyond repair. After a few more moments, a cry of triumph sounded from the lips of a certain blonde Demon as she skipped happily towards Minato as he tossed away another broken COMP.
"Is this one good, Minato?" Alice asked in an excited tone, showing the blue haired young man a pristine albeit odd looking COMP that she had secured.
"That one is the best looking one we've seen all day. Barring Metis' of course. But this one looks a lot different from the ones we've been scrapping, doesn't it." Minato said in an impressed tone, amending his statement when he saw Metis pout a bit and move her hand over her own COMP.
Taking the COMP from Alice, she blonde Demon beamed a bright smile at Minato as he returned it. Reaching over and ruffling the hair of the Demon in a gentle manner as Alice sighed in a content and happy manner. Seeing the two of them sharing a tender moment, Metis and Nyx felt their brows twitch as Alice seemed to be gaining a sizable amount of ground in regards to capturing Minato's heart. Sensing the jealousy beginning to grow from the two, he removed his head from a now pouting Alice and placed it on Metis' head. The ravenette's slight frown instantly brightening as she nuzzled back against Minato's hand.
"Hmph. That must be nice." Nyx quipped in a frigid and envious tone, Minato mentally sighing as she had decided to recall herself of her own violation.
Giving the ravenette once more rub on her head, Minato parted from her and turned his attention to the COMP that he held. Physically, it differed greatly from the COMP that was attached to Metis and the corpses that laid around her, taking the form of a gauntlet of sorts. When Metis finally took in the sight of the COMP, she frowned slightly as she politely asked to see the piece of equipment, Minato handing it to her as she turned and tilted it to see its condition.
"Interesting… I don't believe I've seen a COMP like this before. All COMPs should be standardized according to what I was told when I received mine. Personalization of COMPs could be possible, though that would be all dependent whether or not the person in question wants to deal with the possibility of damaging their COMP when altering it." Metis explained as Minato nodded his head, the ravenette handing the device back to the man as he turned to Alice.
"Alice, who did you take this COMP from?" He asked in an effort to see if a person's rank indicated a difference in design, the blonde Demon taking his hand and skipping towards the last known location of the corpse she pilfered it from.
When she reached the spot, Alice blinked as she scanned the area with confusion soon marring her expression. Seeing that, Minato glanced for anything out of the ordinary as did Metis when she reached their location. Spending a few more seconds looking at a pristine and untouched patch of snow where her previous footprints laid in front of, a bit of worry and anxiety soon entered Alice as she clutched Minato's hand a bit tighter. When he felt that, the young man was instantly set on edge as he scanned the adjacent area with a more crucial eye then earlier.
"T-The person I got it from was right here, I-I swear!" Alice told the bluenette in a shaky and unnerved tone, Minato nodding his head as Metis raised her guard as well after hearing the statement.
"Then something isn't right. The ground looks like it hasn't been touched at all, with the exception of Alice's previous set of prints." Minato said as he pointed towards the blonde Demon's set of prints on the right side of the patch of snow, the tension that filled the area nearly doubling when they saw a nearly perfect imprint of the COMP that she found.
"And that looks like its where that COMP came from. It just looks like it was laying there by itself, but Alice said that she pulled it off of someone, right?" Metis asked as Alice nodded her head in response, Minato narrowing his eyes as he brought the two closer towards him.
"We need to go, Minato. I'm getting the impression that we should get out of here as soon as possible." Nyx told the bluenette in a tone that held well hidden traces of anxiety, the bluenette hearing it in full as the mild tension that filled him instantly heightened.
"We need to move, and now. Get everything that we found and let's head out. We'll have to abandon the burials of these people." Minato said in a slightly guilty tone as he equipped the COMP to his left arm, Metis and Alice following after the blue haired man after they filled the taken backpacks with the items and equipment that were still in usable condition.
With Minato, he returned to the area he had sheathed the trident he appropriated from Belial, letting a sigh of relief leave when he saw that it was still in the same position as before. Moving closer, the blue haired man froze as a bead of sweat appeared and fell from the side of his face. Staring at the trident, it appeared to be the same as before, it was what was on the spear that drew the attention and the tension of the man. Because what was hanging off one of the prongs of the trident was a piece of brown parchment, gently blowing with the mountain winds. Seeing that, Minato's eyes darted towards the ground and scanned for any prints that weren't his own. When he saw nothing but his own tracks in the snow, the bluenette pulled out a retractable baton he had taken from one of the fallen Contractors, flipping it into a reverse grip as he stalked towards the piece of parchment.
"'Great was your sacrifice, salvation of mankind the reward. Humans will continue to walk. They will continue to see. They will continue to think. And they will continue to war. Forever shall they strive to grasp their potential, and lust for that which lies beyond their potential. Strife and suffering await you. Will you cast off the shackles of safeguarding mankind to seize your own fate? Will your efforts lead to true salvation? Or to utter desolation? Champion of the Fall, Epithet of the Universe, Obstructer of Calamity; the fate of mankind will once more fall into your hands. Angel, Demon, God and Man; with which will you side? And with which will you choose to take up arms? We will be observing, and we will be anticipating your answer.'" Minato repeated as more sweat began to run down the sides of his face as the words were written in a red liquid, flinching when he saw the characters begin to melt before the piece of parchment was engulfed in flames.
Dropping the flaming parchment, he watched as it was reduced to ash before being scattered in the wind. A frown marring his face, it was reflected by his partner as Nyx mulled over the cryptic message left for the bluenette. Though, they were forced to break their current lines of thought for returning to the two who were awaiting them, Minato grabbing the trident after collapsing the baton held in his hand. A sigh leaving his mouth, his eyes gained a sharp look to them as he burned the message left for him into his memory, Nyx ensuring that it never left the sea of his soul as they made their way back to Alice and Metis.
(Time Skip – Ten Minutes Later)
(Scene Change - Tachigari Mountain Range: Mount Hyutte – Mountain Cave)
Spending a few minutes descending from the summit of Mount Hyutte, the trio found themselves in a blizzard that seemed to roll in from nowhere, the previous shining sun and clear skies being consumed by raging storm clouds. Luckily for the three, they managed to stumble upon a cave when Alice had placed her hand against the mountain face for balance, the 'face' collapsing and exposing a cavern of comfortable size for the three. Moving quickly inside before they were caught in the storm, Minato had the two ladies before him drop their packs and fish out any flammable items as he did the same with his. Soon enough the three had a small but comforting fire going with a canister of flammable gel, the match that lit it quickly being consumed by a rampant wisp of wind that snuck into the cavern. Shifting their positions and that of the fire, the trio moved closer to the wall of the cavern as Minato rested his back against it.
"Haa, we got lucky." Minato muttered in an irritated but relieved tone, Metis sharing his train of thought as he had a blanket wrapped around him to stave off the biting cold that was slowly starting to melt away.
"I agree, Minato. Though I can't say I can understand your situation given that this amount of cold doesn't affect me as much as it does you." Metis replied as Minato shook his head at her luck, Alice watching the two as she wrapped her own arms around herself.
Seeing that, Minato let a small frown mar his face as he moved towards the Demon. When she caught sight of him, she beamed a shaky but bright smile at him to throw him off about her current state. Though, the bluenette had already seen straight through her as he picked her up and moved her closer to the fire before wrapping his blanket around her as well. About to protest and state that she was fine, Alice's words died in her throat when she felt the amount of warmth that the fire and Minato were providing her, nearly purring in comfort as she snuggled into his side. A small smile spreading across Minato's face, he let a soft laugh sound when he saw Metis pouting at him in a rather powerful manner. The blue haired man holding out his arm as her expression brightened up considerably before she moved to snuggled into his side as well.
"Now that, that's all settled, let's see if this COMP is as operational as it looks." Minato said as he looked at the device on his left arm, Metis and Alice following suit as they followed his gaze.
Turning his arm over a few times, he took in everything about it before powering the device on. As he saw the same archaic language of code run across the screen as Metis had demonstrated earlier in the day with her COMP, the sight of the device being undamaged both mechanically and electronically was a relief to the bluenette. After a few more seconds, a light tone indicated that the COMP had fully powered on. As the screen blacked out once more, a strange sight appeared for Minato and Metis; that being a strange looking girl with purple hair blinking and grinning that the blue haired man.
"Hiya~! Nice to meet'cha!" The girl quipped in a bright and cheery tone, the trio blinking when they saw that she was explicitly speaking to Minato.
"What? I've never seen you before when I've booted up my COMP." Metis said as she stared at the purple haired young lady twirling and bouncing about the screen, the purplette stopping before pointing a finger towards the sole male of their group.
"I'm your host, Tico-Tico! But you can just call me Tico; I'm your Tico-rin!" The young lady now identified as Tico said in a bright tone, Minato feeling a bit of tension enter his body when he saw her lock eyes with his own.
"My! Oh my! You can't possibly be my guest, can you! Oh lucky, lucky me! I've got a smoking hot hunk for a guest!" Tico exclaimed in an excited tone, returning to bouncing and skipping around the screen as the Metis and Nyx felt their brows begin to twitch.
"Tico." Minato called in a stern tone, getting the attention of everyone present as the person in question stopped and showed him a salute.
"Yes sir, Mr. Guest Hunk, sir! Your Tico-rin is ready and waiting!" The purplette responded in a bubbly tone, Minato repressing the sigh that wanted to leave as he heard it.
"Who are you and what's your objective?" He asked as Tico blinked a bit before a grin spread across her face, Minato's own eyes sharpening when he caught a hint of something flash in her eyes before it vanished.
"Well, Mr. Guest Hunk, like I said before, I'm Tico. I'm your beautiful and heavenly contact for the duration of your… Journey." She replied in the same bubbly tone from before, drawing confused looks from everyone present as Metis voiced her own question.
"Wait, but you never answered my question. I've never had a personal contact since I've had my COMP or have I seen anyone else with one, what's so special about Minato's?" She asked as Tico shot her an irritated and dark look, causing the raven haired young lady to flinch upon seeing it.
"You know, Mr. Guest Hunk, you've got some super rude people hanging with you." She quipped as Metis and even Nyx bristled at the insult, Minato opting to ignore them as Tico continued with her explanation.
"In regards to your journey, well it wouldn't be much of a journey if I knew where you were going, right!" She instantly shot back in a tone and expression the stark opposite of what she had used when speaking to Metis, causing a bit of tension to enter the bodies of Nyx and Metis at how easily she was swapping between expressions and emotions.
"I guess. But that still doesn't explain why you're an exclusive contact with this COMP." He asked as Tico gave him a rather charming smile, leaning forward and deliberately emphasizing her feminine charm to the irritation of the two other ladies present.
"Whoever said that I was connected to this COMP, Minato?" She asked in a sly and playful manner, the man in question raising a brow as he entertained her question.
"Then what you're saying is that you're connected solely with me." He answered as she beamed a bright smile at him, giving him a wink as she rose and stretched slightly.
"My oh my. Handsome, perceptive and understanding; who would've thought that this Tico-rin would end up with another guest like this…" She said in a slightly somber tone, Minato being the only one to pick up on it with his relatively calm state of mind, his tension and wariness of the strange purple haired young lady fading when he heard her voice.
"Thanks, Tico. If you could, could you give me a rundown of this thing?" He said in a soft and even tone, Tico's eyes brightening and a much more natural and beautiful smile spreading across her face.
"You bet'cha, Minato! Let's go!" Tico cheered as she ran towards and pointed at a familiar icon on the screen, Minato having a smile cross his face at her loss of tension and sadness.
(Time Skip – Five Minutes Later)
"And that's about the jist of it, Minato! Anything else this lovely and beautiful Tico-rin can do for you?" Tico asked in a chipper tone as Minato smirked, shaking his head as she puffed her cheeks out slightly.
"No, I think I'm all set, Tico, thanks. If I have any other questions, I'll come ask you." He answered as she quickly lost her pout and beamed a small and radiant smile at him, the duo's interaction drawing a pout and frown from a certain ravenette and goddess respectively.
"You're very welcome, Minato. I do hope that our contract continues to be as wonderful and grows to be more intimate then it is now. And with that, let tomorrow be a fine day as well. Have a nice wheee!" Tico said in a calm and warm manner before parting with the same exuberant energy she displayed before, Minato scoffing a bit as a soft laugh left his mouth at the parting.
With that, Minato's COMP powered down as he heard a sigh sound from beside him. Turning he saw Metis pouting at him while Alice had seemed to have fallen asleep during the earlier parts of the meeting with Tico. Seeing that, he reached out and patted the ravenette on the head as a smile instantly crossed her face. Moving closer to the bluenette, Metis rested her head into the crook of his shoulder and let the embrace of sleep take her. The ravenette's pout erased and her emotions eased, he moved his other hand to brush a stray hair from Alice's face as the Demon wrinkled her nose in slight discomfort before taking his hand and holding it against her face. Feeling his warm and comforting energy seep into her, an equally warm and eased expression crossed her features as she snuggled deeper into his hand.
"Hmph. Again, it must be quite nice being in the position of those two." Nyx bit out in an envious manner, Minato having a small frown mar his face as he leaned his head back to rest it against the wall.
"Nyx, you and I both know that you can't be out in your summoned state without cause. Though… I don't think it'd be a problem now, that is, if you want to." Minato said in a stern tone, though it quickly turned quite playful as the goddess in question instantly released herself from the sea of his soul.
A soft reverberation of something shattering echoing through the cavern, it was followed with a light glow of blue panes of shattered glass appearing before the resting trio. Soon enough, the heavenly form of Nyx appeared with a smile gracing her face. Once her form solidified, she was instantly latched onto the front of the bluenette as she snuggled as deeply as possible into his chest. Seeing that, he let a larger smile cross his as he let his eyes close. With the sound of the mountain winds blowing, it was soon muted with the soft sounds of breathing, Minato reluctantly opening an eye and checking the fuel of their fire. When he saw that it was rather low, certainly not enough to see them through the night, he gently moved the trio attached to him off as a matching set of pouts soon appeared on their faces. An amused smirk crossing his, he set about making a makeshift bed spread for the three of them, combining the sets of sleeping bags and mats to form a large enough bedspread for the three of them.
Once the task of making it was done, he moved and picked up the three ladies one at a time before moving them onto the makeshift bed. Finished with moving their bodies, Minato had to hold back a laugh when he saw Metis and Nyx latched onto and snuggling into a clearly uncomfortable but content Alice. A smile gracing his face, he turned to the fire before adding two more canisters to burn beside the original, ensuring that it would have enough fuel to survive the night. With that, the bluenette let a soft yawn leave his mouth as he settled beside the bed for the night with a blanket covering his body. Keeping his senses sharp and trained on the sole entrance of the cavern as a light sleep soon took over, Minato felt strangely at peace as he failed to notice the small purple heart that blinked a few times before fading on his COMP.
"Night night, Minato. I know that it is blasphemous for a being like me to hope, but I so do hope that I can see you through your journey. So please, do not make me experience that horrid pain again, please…" Tico's hoped as she felt the drop in the bluenette's mental functions, the comforting deep blue warmth that she was enveloped in reminding her of her previous guest.
"And I do hope that you are truly the one to save this world… I know that Hiro would be happy that I'm guiding a person just like him…" Her thoughts resounded with the privacy and security of the COMP, unbeknownst to her, reaching the young man she was thinking about as Minato's eyes opened slightly.
"Things are getting complicated…" He thought as he glanced at his COMP, a soft sigh leaving his mouth as he let his eyes drop once more.
(Time Skip – A Few Hours Later)
A soft groan leaving her mouth, Alice blinked as she felt two weights on her body. Blinking a bit more, she turned and saw the bodies of Nyx and Metis pressed against her body, their breasts smothering her face. Instantly, she felt a twinge of unconscious and natural jealousy pass through her heart as she looked down at her own meager chest. Shaking her head, which caused a soft moan to leave Nyx's mouth while a mewl left Metis', Alice freed herself from her pillowy prison and glanced around the cavern. As her mental facilities continued to boot up, she soon smelled something that could only be described as heavenly assault her sense of smell. The scent instantly causing her to wake, she saw the back of the young man who saved her instead of destroying her, a small smile crossing her face as she made her way towards him.
"Hmm? Morning, Alice. Did you sleep well?" Minato asked in a groggy tone as he turned to look sleepily at the blonde Demon, Alice giggling as she beamed an equally groggy smile at him in turn.
"Good morning, Minato. I slept wonderfully, thank you for asking. Did you?" Alice asked as she stood beside him, peeking over his shoulder and saw he was creating some sort of pastry in a pan.
"Could always use more, but I'm doing fine. Hungry?" He answered as Alice tilted her head at the question, Minato giving her a smile as he reached for one of the mini pancakes that he had taken a bite out of.
"Here, have a bite. It's not too bad, maybe a bit sweet for my tastes, but it should suit you and the others nicely." He said as he held out the partly eaten cake towards Alice's mouth, the blonde Demon's cheek being tinted with a light pink as she leaned forwards to take a bite for herself.
Once the piece of the pancake touched her tongue, Alice's eyes widened as she quickly chewed and swallowed the delectable confection. Her eyes widening, they soon began shining as Minato shot her a good natured smirk. Gesturing towards the plate situated on a small foldable table, Alice turned towards Minato who shook his head as she quickly sat down and started eating her fill of the flat cakes. Watching with an amused smile on his face, Minato continued to cook for a bit longer before taking the rag folded beside the pan to wipe off a piece of cake hanging off the side of Alice's mouth. Flinching a bit when she felt the damp piece of cloth, she turned and felt her eyes soften when she saw the gentle and caring light shining in Minato's eyes. Finally, once he was finished cleaning her mouth, which evidently turned into cleaning her face, Alice voiced the question that danced wildly in her heart.
"Why?" She asked in a confused manner, Minato turning to look at her after removing another pancake from the pan.
"Why what, Alice?" He countered as she turned her face downwards, fidgeting with the hem of her dress in an effort to calm her heart.
"Why did you decide to save me? I… I remember what that those other ladies, Nyx and Metis, said when you were fighting against me. There were a lot of times that you could have killed me. So why didn't you, Minato? Why did you save me? Save someone that k-killed all those other people?" She asked in a curious albeit nervous tone, Minato blinking before returning his gaze to the pan.
"I saw it in your eyes. You're just a lonely, scared girl without anyone to hold your hand and help you. Even when you were possessed by Belial and Nebiros, you were still trying to stop yourself from doing what they forced you to do. I know that you're not evil or dangerous, Alice. I don't hurt the innocent. Well, not much." Minato told her in a calm and reassuring manner, amending the latter part of his statement as Alice giggled.
Hearing that sound, that pure and innocent laugh, Minato knew without a doubt that the Demon beside him had none of the dark intent of the others he had eliminated. Seeing and feeling that, Minato reached other and placed a hand on her head as she blinked before looking up and locking gazes with him. Staring at each other, Alice began to feel that same wriggly and tingly sensation dance awaken and dance within her heart and stomach as pink colored her cheeks once more. Unsure about what to do, the blonde Demon simply took in his warmth and smiled in an embarrassed but happy manner. After a few more seconds of silence, Alice enjoying the sensation of Minato rubbing her head and playing with her ribbon, Minato broke the silence by voicing a question that Alice would have never thought she'd hear in her existence.
"Would you like to stay with me, Alice?" Minato asked as her head snapped up to meet his gaze once more, her eyes widening as she repeated the question in her mind.
"Y-You… You want… Me?" She asked in a shaky and hopeful tone, the bluenette's heart aching a bit at how uncertain she was about his offer.
"Yeah, I think that someone as bright and happy as you would be a perfect match with someone as glum and dreary as me." He said in a mirthful tone, Alice having a shaky smile slowly cross her features as a bit of moisture began to form at the corners of her eyes.
"A-Are you sure? I-I mean, I've been a bad girl for a long, long time… No one wanted me at the orphanage and eventually, everyone left me all alone. I… I did a lot of bad things, Minato… Are… Are you sure that you want someone like me?" Alice reiterated as she left a bit of defeat seep into her voice, though that same defeat was erased when Minato placed his hand back on her head.
"There's no way that you could be a bad girl, Alice. Would a bad girl admit to doing bad things like you did? As long as you're willing and able to admit your mistakes and try and fix them, then there's no chance of you being a bad girl." He reassured her as Alice let the tears that filled her eyes fall, trembling slightly as she held in her sobs.
Seeing that, Minato's eyes softened as he moved the pan off the fire, moving to embrace Alice as her eyes widened when she was pulled flush to his chest. Her brain and body freezing, eventually she buried her face into the chest of the man embracing her and poured out her guilt and sorrow as she felt the arms holding her tighten and soothingly rub her head and back. Staying like that for what felt like an eternity, which in reality was a meager minute, Alice pulled back with a red face and puffy eyes. But those features were contrasted by the radiant and blinding smile that was spread across her face. A smile crossing Minato's, he reached over and wiped away her tears and nose with the same rag from before, Alice flushing a bit deeper as she savored his doting on her person.
"Now them, let's make it official." He said as he booted up his COMP, a light chime sounding as it fully powered on.
"Hiya, Heyo~! What can Tico-rin do for you today, Minato!" Tico's cheerful voice sounded from within the COMP, Minato smiling as he saw the energetic purplette waving at him.
"Morning, Tico. Could you help me set up a contract with Alice?" He asked as Alice smiled at him, moving to hold onto his right arm as Tico shot a thumbs up at him.
"No problemo, Minato! And I think I get it now~!" Tico replied in a sly and knowing tone, Minato raising a brow as he felt his danger senses ringing at the tone.
"Get what?" He asked in a level but stern tone, his brow twitching when he saw her beam an equally knowing smile at him.
"Nothing~! Just thought that my newest guest might be a, ya know, Lolicon!" She said in a laughing tone, Minato blanching as the words Nyx had yelled at him hit him with twice the force.
"W-What?! Enough of this topic, j-just get the contract started!" He snapped at her with pink coloring his cheeks, Tico simply chortling as she saluted and moved towards the contracting app.
"Lolicon? What's that, Minato?" Alice asked in a curious tone, Minato palming his face as his brow twitched when he caught Tico laughing harder at the Demon's question.
"Forget that word, Alice. And whatever you do, please don't call me that." He told her with a groan, the Demon frowning slightly as she moved to rub him on the head.
"That's ok, Minato! I'll always be with you, even if you are a lolicon!" She chirped in a bright tone, drawing a louder groan from the man and harder laughter from Tico.
After a few seconds, which felt like hours to Minato, Tico confirmed that the contracting app was configured. Reluctantly turning to look at the tickled grin that covered Tico's face, Minato felt his brow twitch when he saw her turn and snicker. Ignoring her, he tapped on the app and saw a rather standard looking contract appear. A few blank sections here and there, it was nearly empty and short, save for places to fill those blank and empty areas.
"So, what's the process of creating a contract, Alice?" He asked after his guide got over her giggling, Tico nodding as she turned to look between him and Alice.
"All you two have to do is reach an agreement with each other! A few conditions; an offer, an appetence, a mutuality of obligation and finally payment! Finalize those four things, or even just two of them, and then sign and bang! Contract done and sealed!" Tico explained as Minato nodded his head, turning to see Alice doing the same albeit softly.
"Well then, Alice, what do you think? Would you form a contract with me?" He asked as Alice turned to look up at him, offering him a warm and soft smile as she leaned into him.
"I, Alice, take you, Minato Arisato, to be my lawfully bonded partner, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for happiness, for pain, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." She stated like a bride would at her wedding, Minato nearly gagging when he heard her vows.
His brow instantly started twitching when he heard the peanut gallery that was Tico, who was making cat calls and whistling at her vows. Glaring at her from the corners of his eyes, he saw her snickering at his expression as he took a breath before reciting the same vow that Alice had given him. Though, a part of him instantly knew that what he was about to repeat and what was to be exchanged between Alice and himself would be a death sentence should any of the two in the same cavern and Naoto heard it. Turning to check on the duo still snoring and sleeping, he let a breath of relief out as he turned to look into Alice's expectant eyes.
"I… I, Minato Arisato, take you, Alice, to be my lawfully bonded partner, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for happiness, for pain, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." He stated as Alice's eyes shone with a light that he would have never thought he'd see in them, though what happened next he would have never imagined in his wildest dreams.
Once again, Alice rose and captured the lips of the man in a kiss. But it wasn't just a simple peck on the lips like what she had done before when she had drained him of his strength and energy. The moment Alice connected her lips with Minato, she wrapped and locked her arms around his neck and deepened it. The eyes of the man widening, he tried to force the Demon off of him only to feel Alice tighten her hold and intensify her kiss. Struggling to get her off before the two in the cavern awoke, he instantly ceased when he knocked the pan over during his attempt to remove the blonde Demon attached to his lips. Instantly, he knew that things were wrong when the temperature of the once comfortable cavern began frigid. Shifting his eyes, he saw that Nyx and Metis were looking at the pair with dead eyes and frigid expressions.
"Well, well, well… I thought you were adamant about not being interested in petite women, Minato…" Nyx said in an eerily calm and frightening tone, taking a step forward while her head tilted to the side.
"A Demon… You're sharing a kiss that passionate and lewd with a Demon…" Metis muttered like a mantra, following Nyx's example by taking a step and having her head tilt to the side.
"I-It's not what you think, listen to me. It's just to fulfill the contract between us, ask Tico." Minato managed to say after breaking the lip lock Alice had with him, the blonde Demon panting with a crimson lit face as she gazed with glassy but loving eyes at the bluenette.
"Ah, ah, ah; I never said anything about kissing, Minato. All I said was that you needed to set an offer, have Alice agree with it and offer something as payment, never said anything about it having to be a kiss! You lovable fella, you!" Tico all but shouted in an excited tone, Minato instantly feeling death near him as laughter started emanating from Nyx.
"A-Ah! Y-You two can't hurt Minato!" Alice said after snapping out of her post kiss trance, Metis and Nyx turning to gaze at her with their dead eyes.
"Oh? And why is that, whelp? Why should I spare that man who has broken my trust and given that which belongs to me to someone else?" Nyx asked as Alice steeled her person against the goddess standing before her, tightening her arms around Minato's neck once more as Nyx and Metis turned rigid at the action.
"B-Because! Minato is a lolicon and we're married now!" She shouted as silence reigned over the area, the declaration that she made echoing out of the cavern and towards the valley.
And that's a wrap guys. How'd you like it? Originally I was going to go with a different Demon for what our main guy's first would be but swap as I thought that Alice would be a perfect fit for Minato's first Demon, especially with the future possible antics with the two, haha. I based her off of the manga version of her, much cuter then her game counterpart. Well, yeah. Other then that, I'll keep powering through and getting things done. Again, read, review and PM; I know I don't answer, sorry guys, but I do like reading em. And like always, you all stay awesome.