(In Michael's mindscape)
That's all that Michael could describe the sheer blackness of the void that he found himself drifting through after awakening from his slumber. In a panic, he flailed arms around to cease his moving only to stay floating amidst his struggling. Seeing that he wasn't going anywhere with this action, he calmed down just enough to get a better look around himself.
"Shit…no, no, no, no…!" He quietly hissed as his eyes dyed in fear.
There was literally nothing he could find in the void to describe, the only thing worth mentioning was the resounding echo that his voice had in it and that honestly freaked him out along with the fact that he was back in his own head. Back in the place where all of that crazy shit happened; where he witnessed Asia…in his arms…
He didn't even want to finish that thought, but the image of his precious loved one's cold dead eyes still haunted him each time he remembered it. Dread and utter failure filled him as the once shelved memories of Asia's "first" death began to resurface in head. After vowing to never let her die so terribly again, being shown a glimpse of breaking that vow whether it be a nightmare or reality still came close to devastating him beyond repair, and the voices that urged him to do some Juggernaut thing made the memory more insufferable to properly digest.
That along with the mystery of whoever pulled him out of that mess, Michael had tried to urge Ddraig to explain what really happened but like Azazel, the dragon kept the answer to himself. Michael was still obviously fed up with secrets from information about his parents being withheld from him, so he voiced his complaints to Ddraig, who at least satisfied him enough by explaining that it was one of the past possessors. Of course, the dragon didn't elaborate on who it was or what those voices meant when bringing up that Juggernaut thing, but he still was able to cling to something rather than being left in the dark.
And speaking of Ddraig…
"Ddraig…! Ddraig!?" The teen's screams desperately echoed into the void, only meant with the unsettling distortion of his voice with resulting echo. He honestly didn't want another experience like the last nightmare(?) so he desperately reached out to his partner to answer him and wake him up before anything potentially scarring happened again.
"W-Whoa…" Disoriented by the weird space that was the void, Michael suddenly found his feet touching the ground or what he thought was the ground as the same black nothingness still stretched onwards below him. "O-Okay, everything's fine…so far…" He muttered to himself as he took cautious steps onward to…somewhere…hopefully somewhere that wasn't here.
"No signs of any Scale Mails, or hands dragging me down and…" He gulped not wanting to bring up Asia, thinking it would immediately kickstart things into replaying in his mindscape. "Y-Yeah, you're doing fine, Mike." Coughing into his fist, the young man attempted to psych himself out lest he get too overwhelmed by his fear and the expanse of nothingness around him.
"No, you're doing more than just fine, Mike. You're doing great! Now isn't the time to panic, it's the perfect moment to finally show my GUUUUUU-!" But before he could finish his gutsy roar, his self-uplifting moment was interrupted by the sounds of…screaming?
["Curse you…! Not just you things… Hehehehe, to think, the vaunted, mighty, all knowing 'Allfather' himself would be so desperate as to cast away any pretense of dignity to stave off what should have been the inevitable just to sustain his precious pantheon! I-I shouldn't be surprised that he'd hit lows like this by actually calling you abominations to his after so brazenly wronged me centuries!"]
An unfamiliar haggard voice filled with a mix of venom, resentment and sorrow rang throughout the depths of the void and oddly enough Michael's very being was rattled by those words.
["…Incredible, I always believed that those rumored gutless pantheons to be simply undeserving of the words "deity" and "god" not even coming close to reaching the pinnacle of "Heaven" that I believed my own mythology exemplified. But you and the others like you, you've shown to me that there's a stage far beyond the heavens, and you're just simply the products of the true "Monsters" that truly define the statuses of immovable perfection that not even I could attain! Kehehehe… Thank you, I offer to you and your masters my deepest gratitude for enlightening me to this new feeling I've never felt before. Pure, unbridled rage…]
["M-Ma, why aintcha wakin' up? Is your tummy achin' again? T-Then I'lls getchu mores peaches like yesterday! I promised ya I would stop crying and get stronger, I did, so please wake up, please!]
["Damn you! W-We made a pact with you and followed EVERYTHING your Master expected of us and more after we requested refuge! So why…? Why must we be culled for our existence without so much as reason besides "Just because"!?"]
["Leave Tobes and Jinny ALOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE!"]
Yet there more that followed it, many other voices that began to fill the emptiness around him at random in a vile flurry of curses and cries. One of those voices almost sounded familiar; was one of them his… As soon as that thought popped into his head, he dashed it, crumpled it up and threw it in the imaginary waste bin. To even try to distinguish anything amongst this maelstrom of maddening blackness was impossible. The anger and the hatred, from each word spoken. The excruciating burning bitterness that filled Michael felt like a heated iron pike was being plunged through his skull and embedded in his throat.
It was feral, untamed and steeped with so much negativity that amidst experiencing the pain, a bit of himself began to question why he was secretly finding the pure hatred around him to be so…savory.
"Wh-What's even going on!?" He roared, clutching his head in an attempt to stave off the merciless tides of voices invading his mind. But soon enough, they stopped, his mind had once again found clarity through the former eerie silence of the void. "Huh?" Still frazzled, he took calming breaths as he looked around for…okay, there was still nothing around him to describe, but there had to be a reason for that sickening craziness being stopped…right?
Taking a step back, he jumps as he bumped into something. Why would that be odd you ask? Because the black void that he's been searching through, through his entire unwanted visit had literally zilch to offer in terms of eye candy. So, if something popped up out of nowhere, the only rash thing to do was to calmly back away and carefully turn with a level head to see "who" or "what" was there.
"Step off!" Unable to keep his head on straight, Michael panicked, he jumped forward and did a barrel roll, stopping himself as he figured that he gained enough distance to get a good look at what he bumped into. "…!" The sight was extremely odd and discomforting to say the least.
In the void of blackness, there stood a young boy garbed in white robes, and that's all that he could put to words because besides the rest of the body, the kid had no head or face to really identify. The head should have been between his shoulder has a white, hazy mist surrounding it.
"B[4(K, (3t'$ 9l4Y!"
The boy invitingly raised his hand towards the teen and spoke what Michael had assumed was its attempt at words but could only understand it as gibberish. "…Okay, I-I'm officially on the verge of losing it and freaking out." Michael gulped, hoping to god that whatever was happening could end. He's already had his fill of scarring nightmares this month, and just wants some peace.
"Dear god, what's even happening anymore…?" Michael buried his face in his hands and took a deep breath to salvage what little control he has over his tiring, frazzled psyche.
Apparently the boy had more to say as they oddly jumped in place and raised a finger to the air in excitement. Were it a regular child to such an action it would have been seen as cute, but since it was a headless kid, it still didn't hide the fact of how ominous they appeared, "00000000H! 60D!? 7H4T N1(kN4M3 1S AM47ING, B[4(K! My 7URN 70 61V3 UOU 0NE! H333333333…"
"Look, I-I don't understand y-."
"0-OH, oh, oh! I know just the one!"
"What the-!?" Michael gasped. He could actually speak like a normal person, he thought. At first, he was all of the garbled talk made it unnerving and difficult to feel out the tone of the boy's voice, but after getting to actually hear him speak coherently, he felt oddly at peace, nostalgic, and…happy? Feeling joy wasn't odd to him, but what he was experiencing felt foreign to him…if that makes sense.
The boy waved his finger down to point at Michael, with the same energy you'd expect from a child, just not without a head. "For your nickname, I've decided that from this point forward, you shall be know as…M̶͍͓̫̺̊́̓̚ ̴̨̜̘̥̘͓͉͋̕͜J̸̢͖̖̆͆̇̎̚1̸̩̇̆̆̈n̸͓̙̂́͆̃̀̽̚͠ ̶̨̛͙̳̮̺̳̑͂̋̕7̸͎̗͎̔̌̿͆͠1̷̜̘͐̈̒̿̽͋͝n̶̤̿̑̈̍͌̍́̈̕G̸̦̈́͂̚͝!"
"ģ̸̡̖̣̳̪̮̯̅̓̐̇͐ņ̷̢̨̜͕͖̦̮̗̤̗̖͓̰̔̀̔͛̕͘͝͠į̶̳͉̣̜͓̫̳̒̏̍̚͘ͅK̷̨̧̡͖̫̩̼̭̪͕̖̬̀̐̽̏̑͜ ̸̛̙͖̊͛̃́̓̒̈́̑̚n̶̡͕̳̞̱̗̳̻͓͇͋̾̆ḯ̶̧̨̞̗̹̫̼̠̠̏̋̀̔̔̏̀͆̄́j̷̝̝͖̪̮̖͐͐̈́̿͆͒̒͘ą̶̗̙͖̻̜̿̓̏̀͗͂̌̽̾̈́͂̿M̵̡̭̫͚̭̹̩̟̰̫̮̻̙̲̒̐̾̅̾̀̈́̚̕ ̷̡̨̣̠̣̗̩̣̪̞̼̙̯͗̌̂̑̒̽͋͝ę̸̨̰͚̦̝͚̊̀̍̋̆͂̃̆͆̒̉̕͜͝b̶̺̳͐̇̊́͝ ̸̺̤͉̩͔̣̺͍̰̻̠̉͋̄̈d̶̛̥͖͉͍̓l̸̢̡̡̘͕̈́́̀͛͒̽̆͑̽́̀̚̕͜ų̴̯̗̫̞͚̻̙͍̺͎̬̭̰̆͊̏̈́ō̶͚̞͓̔h̷̪̤̘͚̆͒̋̑̏̅̌̋̌̋̆͠͠͠ș̷̠͕̜̠̜̩̻̟̇̂̈́͒̇̑̍͠ ̸͖̦̅̇͛̓̒͒̂͑̂̎̚͝ͅĕ̴͇͉̟̙̗͌̔̚ṁ̷̱̥̲̹͜ȧ̴̗̲̞͙̬͉͕͈̏͆̕n̶̛͇̲̹̔͐̀́̊̍͑̄̔̚k̴̜̘̞̯͕̍̓̋́̓͘c̵̢͉̱͔̪̲͖̳̞̙͓͈͕̅̐̈̑̈́̕̕͘i̸̡͇̯̲͛͛͑̏̀̆͐̾̒͋̏̅ͅn̴̢̼͉̹͚͚͖̭̬͉̣̠̒̆̍̿̆̅͐̄͐̀̚̕͜͜͝ ̸̻͘l̶̼͈̬̾̀͐̍́̀͊͑̑͆͝͝ờ̷͈̤͉̅̃̾͂̿̄̌̑̕̕o̴̳̺̼̩̙͒̌ͅc̴̡̧̖͈̳͚̘̻̺̭̐̔̅̉ͅ ̴̡̥̗̺͍̼͈̑͂̉̽̂̇̋̃͑̄̽r̵̺͑̄̂̀̀͌̈̒̒͘͘͠u̶̹̰͓̳͍̝͕̓̿̈́͂̀͌̀̋͐͑͐̚͠͝ỏ̴̡̟̻̙̣͚̲̞͇̖͍̮̀̈́̀̎̾̓̋̽̾̾̕̚ý̴̡̙̖̇͒̃̓͌̒̌̉͝ ̷̢̯̹͎͉͉̱͈͑̄̒̏͋̾k̷̛̠̖͖͑̾̈́́́̃̓͒̈ň̴̞̩͔̦̖̰͌́ị̶͖̻̲̠͇̻͆̈́́̽̇̈͊̈́̚͝ḧ̴͙̟͙̺̫͉̙̥͔̗̯̞̗̺ṫ̶̟̻͇͇̭͖̑̀̉̾̌̋̓̀͑́͛̚ͅ ̵̤̪̫̹͓͓̫̳̭̥̂̈́̋̑͝I̷̼̳̳̐͛́͛̐͌̀́̀̎͛̌̐̑ ̷̢͍̹̜͕͉̜̭̀̾͗̓̚͜͝ͅ?̷͙̳̥̤̩̼̾͐͒̾͌̅̚k̷̡͕̯̜̳̣̳̪̼̮͍͕͓̫͌͗͌̈́̑̉͆͒c̶̨̯̭͓̳͍͍͉͔̋͛̎́̚ͅǎ̵̡̡͖̦̺̩̦͓̹̗̥̰̝̰̈́̇͐͑̊́̓̏̎̑̃͑͋l̴̢̡̛̙̘͎͙͔̝̫̉̊̈́̿̔̐͂B̶̡̡̝̮̟̯̜̯̜̞̜͍̓͋̀̇͂͘͝ͅ ̴̘̟̣̣͖͚̠̮̦̟̩͂̈́̋͊͛͗̍̈̀͘͝ͅͅ,̵̪̟̹͍̪̈́͐͛̉̐͆͗̒̉͝ͅe̵̛̺͈͕͐̒̅͛͂m̶̬̟̖̝͕̯͍̪͍̾͂̊̋͂̌̂ͅ ̸̧̛̘̩̠̼̩̖̞̼͇͔̰͕͎̐͆̊̈́̏̔͆͊̉̑̅̕r̶̭͕̹̱̜̜̯̭̖͕̪̫͌͑̓̃̎͑͊͆̎̚͜͝͠a̶̛̠͋̽̓̍͋̇e̸̢̡̮̗̤̠͖͓͉͉̱͇͇͕̓͛̋͊̀ḩ̶̠̞̅͒̆̄̔̽̈́͂̕͠͝ ̵̧̧̦̭̠͖̣̳̱͓͔͆̑͐̅̓u̵̢̠̦̪͕̞͆̏̄̋̔̏͌̾̉̈̓̃̅͝ò̶͕̝͈̪͈͖̲͍̻͇̣̒̈̂̈̀̓̽̆̕͝y̴̮̣͎̠͍̹̺̞̪͇̹̙͒͐͜ͅ ̸̼͔͖̺̭̦̫̭͔̥̱̅͗̈́̕t̵̤̳̫̯̭̅̃̿͛͆͛͗̉'̸̳̈̕n̴̛̙̖̞͎͓̞̱̱̫̻͗͐̉͂̓̀̄͘ͅď̵̮̼̞̪̲̬̰͐̀́̇̚ḭ̷̣̈̈́́D̸̩̲͉͔̘͔̖̦̰͙͙̬́̇̿͋́̈́͋̈̉̓̚ͅ!̴̘̬͈̖̜͖̥̮̞͖̜͈̼̈́̆̾̀͆͋͘̕"
Back to freaking out, Michael couldn't help but question how the boy's earlier garbled speak sounded much more tolerable and less eerie since now there was static clouding his words and his voice was so deep that it made the nonsense that he was spewing sound completely alien. But his focus couldn't linger on the ominous gibberish forever as a chilling jolt went up his spine, no, his very being once he felt the atmosphere of the pitch black void began to exert a crushing pressure.
"Hurk!" Michael covered his mouth in an urge to quell any thoughts of gagging as he felt that a pit had been borrowed through his gut.
It felt all too familiar just like when-!
His thought was cut short along with his breath taken, something black had grabbed his face from behind as the only thing ahead of him that he could see through the gaps of the hand(?) was the headless boy, who only continued to speak the same words like he was on repeat, over and over again. Deep, shallow breaths wafted the hairs on his neck, making them stand on end.
"Mmmho raare y-?" He tried to muffle through the hand but gasped as his words soon morphed into a terrified scream as he roughly shunted out through the air of the void like a jet. The harsh winds that surrounded his uncontrolled flight made it hard for to breath much less even see whatever it was that threw him. All that he could do was feel and recognize the warmth and peeks of light that began to shone behind him.
Michael groaned out, he heard someone calling him out for him. The cracks of light that were hitting his back began to expand with each call this voice made eventually resulting in a breakout of harsh LED light soon engulfing him.
As if he rocketed himself out of the end of a pool, Michael garbed in a hospital gown shot up out of his bed, taking short choppy breaths to somehow remedy the fast pace that his heart was beating. He almost jumped as soon as a hand rested on his shoulder, but immediately relaxed when he found that connected to it was Azazel, looking a tad bit concerned.
"Whoa, easy there, brat… Easy…" The Fallen Angel leader softly assuaged the teen, taking care not to accidentally set him off.
"E-Ero-Ossan?" Michael blinked, eyes heavily unfocused to just linger on the man as they zipped about to identify where he was and what had happened to him. "A-A hospital? W-What's going on? What about the Rating Game?"
"The Rating Game? What are you talking about? I just finished tell-…could it have-?" Azazel questioned and looked as though he was going to pause in thoughtful surprised silence but was given a continuous onslaught of questions from the awakened teen.
"How did I get here? Did we win? How's Asia? No, how's Saji? No, no, how's Koneko-chan? No, but seriously how's Asia!?" The questions just flooded right out of him, the obvious freakiness that was just happening in his head was at the forefront of his mind but lingering on the vague eeriness of it all would only leave him more overwhelmed than he already was.
"Mmmgh!" Crap, his chest! It was burning like hell before but the panging after sensation still lingered. Conscious about Azazel's presence, mid-way to reaching to clutch his aching chest, he held his hand out and clenched it into a tight fist.
"Oi, don't push yourself too hard. You're still recovering, remember?" Though he wasn't showing it through his grit expression, Michael was relieved that Azazel didn't notice this action pertaining to the throbbing pain in his scarred chest.
"I'm…" Michael took a deep breath which somewhat suppressed his pain to at least let him sit up right, "…fine, see?" He wearily tried to grin, but the unamused expression on Azazel's face told him that he wasn't buying it. "Look, Ero-Ossan, could you still at least answer my questions? Pleeaasee…" He moaned out, pleadingly.
Groaning tiredly, Azazel muttered under his breath after giving Michael one long inquisitive look, "So that's what happened…" Walking from the side of the bed, Azazel reached for the knocked over chair that was close by.
'Why was that on the floor?' Michael questioned but it was the least important in mind compared to the others.
Pulling his chair closer to Michael's bed, Azazel sat back crossed his arms while crossing his leg over the other.
"So…what do you want me to answer first?" The man asked.
"Anything." Michael earnestly leaned in, balling the sheets of his bed in his hands.
Lazily shrugging, Azazel just decided to give an abridged answer since he wasn't in the mood to be as thorough as he was earlier when answering the kid's questions.
"Since you asked about Asia first, she's doing just fine."
"Really? How is she? Did she sustain anything too serious?" Azazel quirked an eyebrow at the overtly worried teen, he had already been aware of how protective he was of his friends, but this high degree of it toward Asia was new to him.
"Like I said, she's doing just fine. All she did was get retired since her pain threshold had been reached during the match when the enemy converted the strength of her healing into damage. Right about now, she's just as healthy as she was before the match started."
"Thank maou…" Michael shakily sighed in relief, he couldn't be there for her because he got backed up by one of Saji's strategies with cinnamon. He'd just have to do better and make sure absolutely nothing comes to harm her. No matter how many times he tries to repress it, the image of her dying in his arms from his nightmare still emerged to haunt him. Anything. He'll do anything to make sure that possibility will never come to pass.
"You okay…?" Azazel slowly probed looking fairly concerned and that's coming from the usual laid back him of all people.
"Y-Yeah, I'm fine, Ero-Ossan." He quickly shook his head and cursed himself for letting a glimpse of him making such a concerned look on his face. His worries fell flat though because in reality, Azazel did notice the look on his face, but to him it didn't look like one out of concern, but rather…
'Just now…was it me or was brat giving the most intense glares I've ever seen him manage beyond the one he gave Vali?' Azazel glowered as he fell deeper into thought, 'It could that lingering but his…isn't showing any of the usual signs especially after it had just…so what could it be…?'
"So is Asia and everyone still here?" Michael asked.
Snapped out of thought, Azazel decided to save his thoughts for later. "Right, I guess I should mention this to you again…"
"Again?" Michael tilted his head at that.
"Nothing, nothing…" Azazel waved it off much to Michael's confusion and temporary suspicion. "In essence most of your team have already left. Asia along with Gasper, Akeno, Kiba and Xenovia were sent back to Gremory residence after getting treated. With the only ones left being you, Rias and lastly Koneko, who has yet to wake up."
Considering the hell that Koneko had gone through for him while recovered from his allergy, he could only imagine the physical toll that she had to go through. But she had endured it and even bought him enough time to recover while retiring the other team's [Pawn], just what he'd expect of his reliable kouhai.
"I see, that's great. I'm so glad that she and everyone else is doing fine." Michael chuckled, "So if Buchou is still here then that means her injuries must have been severe as ours, right?"
"Not quite, yes, she did receive critical damage, but her injuries were mostly physical so she's up and about, waiting for the both of you to wake up before returning home. So, expect your GF to drop when I pop out, after you dropped out of the match, she's been really interested in hearing about how you've been doing and how exactly you retired." Azazel answered.
'Yeah, I guess I really want to talk to her too…' Michael looked to his chest and tried to dull the remnants of pain from his scar.
"Wait, about the match. What exactly happen did we…?" Michael didn't even need to finish as the question's two implication was soon to be answered by the neutral faced Governor-General, who was obviously trying to keep a poker face to leave in suspense.
"To keep it simple, the Rating Game's been over for hours, four hours to be exact. You were ejected from the match, and the team that brought home the gold was…" Azazel paused for dramatic effect, relishing the nervous anticipation writ on the boy's face. "The Gremory family with the retirement of the Sitri team's [King] by your [King]'s hand. Congratulations, brat." Azazel gave him a slow round of applause with a smile.
'You did it, Rias…'
A small grin crept up on Michael's face. There was no doubt in his mind that Rias would defeat Sona-senpai, after all he's still aware that she's still torn up about her grueling loss against Natsuru after she had kidnapped him, so he knew that his beloved girlfriend would put herself through hell this month to avoid anything like that happening again.
In the end, he was just so glad to hear that they'd at least won the fight and that their efforts weren't in vain but remembering the toll that Saji made to try and claim victory for his team did make the thought of winning more bitter than sweet.
To use up his own life force as fuel for his last attack like that…
Even after getting healed, just imagining the searing hot mess of black flames against his scar was enough to almost make him roll over and try to bite the pain. Well, this was only to be expected, his hesitation to seriously strike down his best friend in a fight gave him the window of opportunity to retaliate with that last attack, and its also due to fact that he was walking around with his apparent new "soft spot" in the form of his x-shaped scar.
But having one's lifespan be shaved off all for just a dramatic boost in strength, Michael wouldn't have gone that far, well, not at least without reason should the situation would absolutely called for him to absolutely sacrifice that much in order to protect Asia and his loved ones.
"So, about Saji…" Downtrodden, Michael asked.
"Judging by your dour expression, you already know about the cost that he made to wound you." Azazel sighed and scratched his head.
"He's certainly isn't about to die, you can thank your devil physiology for that, but he certainly isn't going to live as full life as either you and considering how devils can live for centuries, expect that kid to live less than one century in comparison to you." Azazel thoughtfully looked to the side. "Well, and that's IF that monkey boy decides to fully restore his reduced lifespan."
'Monkey boy?' Michael's eyes widened.
"You mean Shishou!? He can actually do stuff like that?" Michael exclaimed much to the annoyance of Azazel and the passing by devil nurse that promptly stuck her head through the door to shush them. "My bad, ehehe…"
"Even after you wake up from getting knocked out, you apparently have no inside voice kid." Azazel shook his head in mild amusement.
Too interested in hearing about his Shishou being to restore lost lifespans, Michael excitedly asked, "Shishou. Saji's Lifespan. Fix. How?"
"What are you a caveman?" Azazel raised an eyebrow before rubbing his chin with a smirk. "But now that I mention it that would explain your lacking I.Q."
"Now. Now. Now. Now. Now." Michael chanted.
"Tch, fine." Azazel continued lest he get a migraine from the boy's incessant chanting. "I don't want to get into the specifics…" Azazel shushed Michael's "awwws" and continued. "But master Senjutsu practitioners have this ability to push their skills in restoring the stamina of others to restoring any lost years of a person lifespan."
"Cool, so does that mean Shishou will-?"
"Up to him, I was surprised that the monkey boy would even volunteer to do that himself, but knowing his track record for being fickle, I probably wouldn't be so assured that things will end as happily as you may think." Michael really had to agree with the Ero-Ossan there, he knew firsthand how his master was pretty…okay, difficult isn't even strong a word to describe Kai. The guy was just hard to read, so he only had faith that some good could come out of it.
"So now that we're through with talking about the match, Asia and Saji, let's talk about you retiring…" Azazel brought up, hoping to find some answers on that especially with incident that occurred after they retired him.
"Oh, right…" Michael nodded as a long pause soon followed afterwards to which he soon begins to frown from the awkward silence. "So how did I retire again…?"
"You don't even remember up to that point?" Azazel asked.
"All I remember was getting shoot kicked in the chest, and that hurt pretty freaking bad…" Michael scratched his head. "And then I was on my way to help Buchou and Akeno-senpai, after that-"
"You blacked out after entering the hallway." Azazel finished, taking Michael aback since that was almost word for word what he was about to say.
"And that's all that you remember?" Leaning back in his chair, the man contemplatively looked out the window as he rubbed his goatee. It was hard to tell if you weren't really looking at him since he could hide it so well, but the side of lip tightened as something appeared to have unsettled him.
"Uh-huh." Michael nodded.
"I see, well, if that's the case then I just want you to know that you had a very smooth transition from the field of the match to the hospital. Don't worry too much about it, okay?" Michael gave the man an odd look since he wasn't looking right at him when he said it but responded with an "okay" nonetheless.
Azazel nodded not only to Michael but also to himself. Good, if what happened before was the trigger, then any evidence pointing towards the juggernaut sized scare wouldn't be a good time for anyone, especially the kid. That meant he should avoid bringing up Tannin's condition and probing him for questions lest he ends up making the same mistake again. Dealing with the brat was a pain in the neck, but if it meant that he wouldn't have to deal with something like that again, he would willingly consider hearing Michael rave on and on about the many great (exaggerated) exploits about himself.
With that elephant in the room dealt with it was time that he addresses the other one…again. Picking up the clipboard on the end of the bed, he read the contents of Michael's cured ailments aloud to the young man. The first one being the extra medicine used to flush out the lingering cinnamon in his body. Right about now, Azazel would have gone through lovingly laughing at the teen for underestimating an opponent who was a close friend. A close friend that had so much personal information on him and could have easily retired him before the Rating Game had even started, but that could be saved for later.
As his eyes fell upon the main focus of his treatment on board, the Governor-General bluntly said, "Now obviously, I have no interests in the chests of men, but how come this is the first I've heard of you having a scar?" The Red Dragon Emperor possessor's shoulders tensed up. Azazel decided to continue when the boy answered with silence. "It says here that you experienced extreme trauma to the chest area, and had a serious case of deep third degree burns."
"So, are you going to actually answer me, or should we continue with the awkward silence?"
A few more seconds of thoughtful silence later and Michael finally said, "I was careless. That last kick of Saji's really did a number on me."
"I see…" Azazel said, his tone holding a hint of incredulity. "That Sitri kid did awaken his Balance Breaker and was already in possession of the Prison Dragon's cursed black flames, so that would make sense." Azazel had let that sink in as he looked Michael in the eye, to which the teen stiffly nodded in agreement.
"Frankly, it would make sense if the whole thing wasn't making sense at all."
"What are you talking about? Saji's kick-."
"Only added more damage to the third degree burns in the shape of that scar on your chest that you had just before the Rating Game started." Azazel plopped the clipboard on Michael's bed and knowingly wagged his finger. "Like always, brat, you suck at lying." Staying quiet was a dead giveaway and that alone would have been fine but actually agreeing with his "perfectly" made assumption soon after that would have been too obvious to let slide. Not mention, his tightened expression was a dead ringer due to honest he was.
Honestly, he wonders how the kid could pull off so many pranks and tricks to successfully get the drop on his enemies but be so shit at lying and keeping a straight face that he'd wonder how bad he'd be at poker.
"You were honest about how careless and stupid you were when handling your fight with Saji." Azazel shrugged.
'…Stupid?' Michael angrily clicked his teeth, he never distinctly mentioned that extra part.
"But after what I watched when you took that kick to the chest and later read your results." His eyes looked to the clipboard. "I'd have to say that before the match had even started, your stupidity reached new levels that not even I imagined was possible." The fallen angel rubbed his goatee and shook his head. "Not only have you been walking around this whole with poorly healed burn wound; you even willing entered the Rating Game match with a very exploitable weak spot without mentioning it once to your friends and master."
'…Actually…' Michael did technically tell Rias about it, but he definitely wasn't going to Ero-Ossan about it. If the old man wanted to keep "things" secret from him, then its only fair that he had some secrets of his own.
"In all likelihood, you had the clear edge over your opponent and should've been more than strong enough to stay active in the match after getting drop kicked like that. The dragon energy and touki that you showed me just before that high devil society dance cemented that fact, but because you carried that," He pointed at Michael's scar that barely peeked through the collar of his hospital gown, "you fell to a hit that might have done some critical damage to you but wouldn't be the sole reason you got knocked out."
Just because his opponent had unlocked his Balance Breaker doesn't detract from the fact that Michael was still the dominating force in that battle. Azazel was excited at the prospect of a new Balance Breaker to study, but he wasn't going to deny the fact that such a feat along with Saji using his own life force wouldn't be enough to put down a brat, who had to actually suffer through a month of surviving on a mountain crawling with dragons.
"So, I want you tell me. How did you get it and why did you idiotically decide to keep it?" Azazel seriously asked and leaned into steely stare directly at the young man's brown eyes. The how being less important to him since his talk with Tannin cleared that up, but what he needs to know is the why.
"…" Furrowing his brow, Michael avoided eye contact with Azazel. "You knew where I was at this past month, it shouldn't be hard to piece together how I got burned." He didn't want to come off sounding bitter but the bit of vexation in him from all this chastising that man was slinging at him.
"Yeah, no shit, dragons." Azazel carried a bit of ire in his tone, one borne out of the seventeen-year old's growing difficulty when answering/avoiding his questions. "I want to know why you decided to keep it and stay quiet about it."
"…" The fallen angel leader just wanted to point out that whenever Michael had done something to actually annoy him up to this point, he was more entertained by the inconveniences and that's when the kid's loud and boisterous. But this whole quiet act of his was really starting to grate on his nerves. He knows the kid was a terrible liar and loose lipped when excited, but his stubbornness was practically the kid's best noteworthy trait the Gremory [Pawn] had going for him.
"If you really want to know, then spill what you know about my parents."
'This again…' Azazel pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. He was sure that talk they had after he couldn't fulfill the bargain that Tannin had convinced him to make would have ended this discussion. Yet considering how stubborn the kid was, he only has himself to blame for thinking that he would be so reluctant to give up on knowing of his biological family.
"Did you somehow secretly unlock Welsh Drive when you were unconscious just now?" He didn't need to wait for Michael to answer back in silence, the bitter look on the boy's face told him that that was still a weak spot to prod at. "Then no."
"Then keep your nose out of my business about my scar." Michael sharply responded back.
"If you're going to try kicking the dead horse by asking me that, at least have the common decency to at least bargain information that's equally as important as my own." Azazel crossed his arms.
"Still not telling." Michael shook his head.
"Fine, then how about you tell me whether that scar of yours is still causing you pain?" Azazel inquired, the doctors here were able to heal the damages but from the report, the scarring itself wouldn't fade as it remained after the intensive healing. When magic's being used to mend wounds, scars are the last thing you'd expect to find on any injured soul, and the scars that did remain usually meant that the wound inflicted on the person must run deeper than them being physically afflicted.
"I'm fit as fiddle." Michael said, comparing the feel from the match to now, he really was. Sure, there was the occasional throbbing that made him wince, but like when Rias healed the worse of it when they shared a bath together, the pain will soon subside. He still didn't feel like sharing that with the Ero-Ossan though, selfishly finding some satisfaction in also keeping him in the dark.
Michael knew that Azazel wasn't buying that response, but still kept to himself.
"If getting any answer about your whole scar is going to be a trial, then let's talk about Asriel Ispos." Azazel decided to change topic and that instantly cracked at Michael's standoffish silence.
"Yeah?" The teen slowly asked, failing to hide his interest.
"Taking in your account on the night where Vali's team attempted to attack the dance with a legion of crazed chimeras. You simply mention that she asked you to dance, mentioned her son to you…and sniff your hair before you were teleported into the isolation barrier surrounding the outside forest."
"Yup. That's what happened. Did you find her?" Michael asked, hopeful that he could finally have someone to seek out information about his past still be around.
"Not the point that I was getting at, but if you want to know; how about you stop skirting around the details about your scar?" Azazel was met with no response. Good now he can address a suspicion of his. "Your account from that night. Tell me, is there anything else that you two talked about? Anything at all?"
"You basically went over everything that happened so no, we didn't talk that much beyond her having a son who I remind her of." Michael found it easy to speak with half-truths then flat out lying, he couldn't risk letting Azazel know about the woman's potential knowledge on his family, lest he goes and bars him from seeking Asriel out for answers whenever she's found.
"Are you sure?" Azazel leaned in closely to look Michael in the eye, and the unflinching boy remained steadfast at the point of the action.
"Yes." Michael added with a bit of ire in his tone. He was getting sick of all of these questions. After giving the teen a long hard stare, Azazel groaned, leant back and shook his head.
"Welp, I guess that's all I can get from you for now, so I'll let this go…for now."
Knowing the implications of the man's words, Michael muttered spitefully under his breath, "Figures you won't even trust my word, heck, you won't even trust that I can handle learning the truth of why I was abandoned."
"What was that…?" Azazel grunted, barely catching that.
"None of your business." Michael sharply look away.
The pair soon returned to another bout of stillness, yet now it was filled with the new tension that the two men carried while in each other's presence. The atmosphere between them was so thick that you could cut it with a butter knife.
Thankfully, a third party taking on the appearance of a beautiful, crimson haired young woman garbed in a set of comfortable clothes: a white blouse, black jeans, and sandals. Her blue eyes immediately widen as they locked onto Michael's awoken form; in a burst of ecstatic relief, she rushed to enter the room with a smile, but stops short of that after finally realizing the other party in the room.
"Oh, Azazel-sensei…" Rias addressed in an uninterested fashion.
Taking a quick breath, the serious expression Azazel had carried changed to a laid-back smirk, "Yo, nice to see that someone's happy to see." He waved to Rias.
"I didn't expect you to still be here." Ah, for Azazel that meant in translation: Why are you still here?
Busy checking up on the others, Rias had decided to leave checking on Michael for last after sending those that were fully recovered on their way. She passed the ORC club's supervisor while she was on her way to check up on Akeno to if she was okay especially after her [Queen] "dropped" out of the match the way that she did. The man had mentioned that he would go and check up on him and leave before she showed up.
That promise was made over an hour ago, so her dissatisfaction to still see him here while fully wanting some alone time with her [Pawn] was understandable.
"What? You were hoping to jump the brat's bones to conclude your victory lap?" Azazel teased with a wink causing Rias to cough in her hand at the insinuation why suppressing her cheeks from reddening, sadly only tinges of peek could be seen. As for Michael, the teen still remained silent, and angrily looking away from Azazel's direction as if not deeming to greet the Gremory heir until the man's presence was gone.
Rias looked at the Governor-General with half-lidded unamused eyes. "Your tasteless choice in humor aside, I'd really appreciate it if you would allow me the chance to have some time with my servant, Sensei."
'I didn't sense any denial in that statement…' Azazel rubbed his chin in playful thought but decided that his visit really being outstayed. Looking to the resting teen, he had found that Michael still remained silent, and angrily looking away from Azazel's direction as if not deeming to greet the Crimson-haired beauty until the man's presence was away from his vicinity.
"Fine, fine, I can see when I'm…" He glanced at Michael. "Not wanted. I've already gotten as much as I wanted from my visit with the brat, so by all means." He waved his arms to the teen. "He's all yours. Besides, what I couldn't get to today could always get picked up next time."
Michael's brow furrowed as he tightly clenched his fist. To him it obviously translated to: This discussion was long from over.
Meandering his way past the Gremory Heir, he made his way out to give the couple their alone time. Hand on the doorknob, he looked back at the pair, giving them a genuine smile. "Having a rocky start and still in need of improvement, let me reiterate and say congratulations for your victory. The both of you."
Blinking in surprise at this and raised her eyebrow, Rias slowly said, "Thank you, Sensei."
Taking a deep breath, Michael still did not deign to look at Azazel but calmed himself down to give a less thorny, though amicable, "Thanks, Ero-Ossan…"
"Enjoy yourself, kiddies."
Raising his hand in goodbye, Azazel exited the room and closed the door behind him.
"Oh, and by the way…" The door slowly creaked open, revealing the man devilishly smirking at them. "I'd like to remind you that that this IS a hospital so if you either of you hormone driven kids don't want any doctors or nurses seeing you pound each other on that bed; I'd recommend erecting an isolation barrier." The faint blushing on both of the teens' faces was just enough satisfaction for Azazel to use to snuff out the flames of his building irritation from his and Michael's argument.
Despite Rias now looking a frightening mix of flustered and angered as she stomped her way over to the door, Azazel surmised that he might have pushed a few wrong buttons. So, he decided to push some more before he was ejected from the room. "Unless, you two are that open for an audience that is, I'm not one to judge anyone for their odd sexual ki-."
"Didn't even let me finish…" Azazel laughed to himself after getting the door slammed in his face. "You'd never think they'd actually done it based on how embarrassed they were." Now with questioning done, he paced himself toward the elevator where another fellow hospital visitor had made themselves known.
"How bad was it ya old crow?" Expression sullen, a cross armed Son Kai leant against the wall with his focused on the ground. The sight alone was enough to make the Fallen Angel uncomfortable based on how the Reincarnated simian youkai was always wearing that vexatious smirk of his, but had he been less knowledgeable of their situation, he would have been more put off by the names swift tonal change.
Tiredly sighing, Azazel shook his head, "Nothing but a pain in the ass but that's nothing new. It did make it a hassle for me to go through the same conversation twice." For him, the whole hour that he had been in Michael's room, the first thirty minutes, was nothing but him and the boy discussing the matters of the Rating Game, the details of Saji's conditions and the cause for his sudden ejection from match.
Yes, the first thirty minutes not the last ten where Rias had finally arrived. When he had entered Michael's room, the boy was already awake and trying to recover his bearings.
"Then it's tampering with his memories." Kai spoke, voice devoid of any of his usual vibrance.
"Apparently that's not anything new either." Azazel said, bringing up the best example that Kai remembered. The emergence of the Cursed Gear during the climax of the teen's bloody battle with Vali. That ghastly ability that not only erased Vali's attacks and dimension dividing distortions but also erased the armored defenses of the Lucifer descendant's Balance Breaker.
His colleague and Cadre, Armaros, an expert in researching Anti-Magic has even clarified that the nature of magic negation in general was the act of nullifying the origin of any spell's effects. However, ant-magic is just limited to magic, it can't ever hope to affect the highly leveled, complicated, well knit system of Sacred Gears and their abilities. Not even he's able to come up with something of a caliber to cancel out the effects the Sacred Gear and their abilities itself just yet.
The Fallen Angel leader however had investigated the adopted Abe siblings, Natsuru and Makoto's [Code: Unknown] and found that despite the ability taking on some properties of anti-magic while even being able to negate the conjuration Sacred Gears and their Balance Breakers. But there was a limit to what it could do since it couldn't bypass the Sacred Gears' ability.
In laymen terms, a half-finished project that was closer to figuring out the complete cancellation of Sacred Gears. It gave Azazel paused that someone, somewhere was this close to figuring out the ability and if this happened when the siblings were children, then it couldn't be hard to believe that they've already figured out the formula to accomplish such a feat.
But him looking into leads regarding the Nekomata Purge and the devil responsible for it aside…
After the conference, any mentioning of that ability to Michael always left him to pause in questionable confusion as if the very notion was hard to believe.
This made Azazel's warning to the boy to refrain from using it hard to get through his thick skull since to him the ability might as well to have never existed at all.
To the boy, he simply believed that the reason he was able to bypass Vali's defenses was because of Ascalon's dragon slayer properties. Which oddly made sense coming from the reckless youth, but it also failed to explain how exactly he negated a dimension dividing attack that neither his Boosted Gear nor Ascalon could provide.
From that, Azazel had gleaned that the Cursed Gear was the cause of his memory loss and that from tapping into the forbidden power, the boy was suffering a heavy cost. But even that was called into question after what he had witnessed before engaging Michael in the same conversation twice just now and…
…the events transpired 6 years ago that forced him and Vali to disconnect themselves from the lonely boy's life. It was around that time, news reports of a cruise ship to Aloha holding over 200 Japanese students disappeared in a tragic accident.
Suddenly a brief memory that had once at a time exasperated Azazel, now only made him heave out a groan laced with a fair amount of grief.
"Oi, what are you doing outside of the lobby? I told you to stay put until our business here was done. Hold on…why are you crying?"
On the ground crying, an 11-year-old Michael Hanamura was curled up in a ball holding onto something squirming in his arms as if it was a baby.
"Ero-Ossan! They're not being fair! They won't let me name iiiiiiiiiit~!" The boy wailed.
"If they won't let you, then they never gave you permission to do so in the first place…" Azazel sighed.
"No, no, no! The name I wanted to give it is a hundred times more GREATER than the one he came up with, but they said its terrible!" Michael raised his head to reveal his tear stained, snot dripping face to the man.
"Terrible? What name did you decide to give it?" Azazel asked.
Pouting, Michael raised into the air, a black pup with a blade sticking out of its head.
Letting it sink for a while, Azazel gracefully smiled, "…Hell no."
He still remembers that the majority of that memory consisted of him and everyone trying to pull the brat away from the dog. Ordinarily, watching the kid bawl his eyes out like that would have been hilarious, but he can't necessarily laugh at someone's comical misery if they don't even remember it. That incident started by the man who sought out the destruction of the Five Great Clans brought more than one person to breakdown that day.
If what happened today and on that day showed him, it was hard to deny that whatever was the source of the Cursed Gear was the one responsible for the teen's selective amnesia.
"I felt it emerge. Did it?" Kai asked.
Closing his eyes, Azazel still felt what remains of a chill go through him as he remembered looking into those red eyes. To an intense degree than Kai's current expressionless visage, any signs of emotions that you'd find on the honest kid, who could barely tell a lie with a straight face was gone. The only thing that he could read were the eyes, and even the Governor-General didn't want to keep making eye contact.
The old expression of "its like it was staring into his soul" couldn't have begun to describe what he felt. Behind those red orbs, he felt something burn up inside him the longer it looked at him.
"Yes. For about ten minutes. After that he strangely spasmed and blacked out for another ten minutes before waking up again."
"I see." Kai spoke, 'Then it must have been in a hurry to take control. Explains why the condition flickered just as I was about to leave Saji-san's room. So that only leaves us with what pushed it to pop up like that.'
"The trigger," Kai began, "do you know what set it off?"
Azazel nodded, "In our second conversation about it, I asked him about he had retired. Only thing is, he couldn't remember anything past blacking out."
"Considering he was so close to going on a rampage, wouldn't that be normal?" Kai asked, massaging and cracking the hand that felled Michael down in the hospital's Rating Game retrieval room, mid-chant before unleashing his Sacred Gear's forbidden power.
"Yes, but unlike our first talk, he didn't mention the voices that he heard before that." Before it's intervention, Azazel was in the middle of being told by Michael that before everything went dark, he started to hear three voices ring through his head. "Two of them, he identified to be Tannin and Ddraig, but the last one was a voice he didn't recognize. It shouldn't be said between the both of us for who that voice belonged to."
Kai's sullen expression turned graver in agreement.
So, with Tannin being brought up, Azazel decided to spill the details on his quick visit to the recovering dragon just before arriving to give the Gremory family their briefing for the Rating Game match. He wanted to clear things with the boy on what truly happened to wound Tannin. But as soon as the words "Tannin" and "Juggernaut Drive" were said in the same sentence, the boy once known as Michael Hanamura no longer sat at that bed as it took his place.
"And that's what happened. By the time Michael woke up again, he lost any memory of those details.
"So, Juggernaut Drive's the trigger." Exclusively, any mentions of Juggernaut Drive associated with it and Tannin was what it wanted to erase from Michael's thoughts.
"It doesn't want Michael to be aware of what it is doing, but exactly what it wants is still unknown." But if it involves using that forbidden power, then its intentions were no less dangerous for everyone involved.
"The hospital staff that were present when I put Michael-kun down have already been told to keep quiet of what they've seen."
"You don't think that they'll spread rumors any around?"
"If they did, I made to sure remember each of their faces and was vocal about my promise to kill all of them if I ever catch wind of one."
Brutal, but that's what Azazel would expect from a Devil that was born a ruthless youkai.
"So does Old Scales already know of the situation?"
"Being the one that pushed the kid to almost go fully berserk, he's already healing from the incident, but now after seeing that. I think it would be best for me to inform him to avoid disclosing what actually happened on the Dragon Mountains to save all of us the trouble of dealing with it emerging again." Azazel rubbed his head as Kai nodded in silent agreement.
"But…" There was still the underlying issue that he couldn't resolve with Michael. Of course, their first conversation did happen, but it never got as far for Azazel to address the teen's scar like he did for their second talk.
His earlier talk with Tannin clarified the true origins of the scar.
In addition, taking that kick to the chest might have done enough damage to almost put Michael on the brink to nearly enter Juggernaut Drive once again, but it felt like there was more that teen wasn't telling him out of stubbornness. Like why even keep it and avoid getting proper treatment for healing it? Is there some deeper purpose for him that he just doesn't want to tell? Was it forcing him to keep it for some reason?
The questions just kept piling up.
The scar was getting sketchier with each coincidence as even the best Underworld medical practitioners healed the damage inflicted on it but couldn't close the burnt scarring as it stubbornly stayed in place. The sudden start that the teen had when he had woken from unconscious was just fishy as his refusal to answer as if he saw something while it took his place on the outside. He would have to tuck whatever annoyance that stemmed from the difficult teen's attitude for the next time he confronts him for proper answers.
Now was not a good time to spoil the mood of their victory with talk of forbidden powers and parental origins. The latter half of his talk with Tannin did clue him in on part of the motivation that pushed the teen beyond his natural limits to then breakdown and almost enter Juggernaut Drive. Desperation.
"Governor-General, wait, before you go. I understand it was never my place to voice my thoughts on your choice to withhold the contents of the youngling's past."
"…I'm sensing a "but" coming." Azazel had already made his decision clear. Until he deemed the boy to be ready, he would reveal everything that he knew, but right now wasn't that time. Any notion of letting the cat out of the bag was dead on sight after getting the rundown of the kid's major accident from Tannin.
With the end result of that accident looking him in the face; the daunting gnarled scar that laid across the scaled thoracic region of the proud dragon. It was hard to not wince at the sight. To even bypass the scales of a former Dragon King turned Ultimate Class Devil spoke volumes of the severity of Michael accidentally tapping into that Forbidden Power.
"But I implore that you at least share with Ddraig's possessor a small kernel of truth for whatever questions that he wants answers to." Tannin spoke as a grunt ebbed its was out of his way. There wasn't any issue mending the wound, however the deep infliction from the rampaging boy's attack still left the Ultimate-class Devil all the more winded much to his own astonishment.
Azazel raised his eyebrows at that. Now he has to put up with someone other than the brat about his decision? "Your requesting I tell him despite him failing to meet his end of the deal, a deal that wouldn't have been put in motion had you not chimed in your thoughts." Though his accusation insinuated soreness from the Governor-General, it was more towards himself than the former Dragon King.
He was taken by the heat of the moment, the condition to unlock Welsh Drive was a fair one but definitely impossible for those not mentally at peace with themselves. And a boy, who's desperately searching for answers on his parentage and self-identity was far from being at peace with themselves. It took the talented Vali a year and a half to attain it, and the boy barely managed to pull it off.
Azazel had faith in Michael to pull of the unexpected and a bit of his did wish that he could have achieved the form, but he's also realistic and knew that 15 days just wouldn't be enough. Now he has to deal with the sad awkward tension with the boy whenever they're alone…god, he hates awkward silences.
"That was then, and this is now." Tannin spoke sounding more gravely than Azazel would have liked. "Like before its still your choice. You can keep withholding whatever information you have from him, but…" Tannin breathed through the nostrils of his snout. "I'll only continue to voice my opinion on the matter with a firmer stance."
"…Odd. I never thought you'd feel so strongly for the brat's plight. You really must be softhearted behind all of those rough scales and reptile flesh." Azazel crossed his arms.
"Softheartedness has nothing to do with it." Tannin's already intimidating visage grew fierce as his slitted eyes narrowed. "This is more of a warning than sympathy for the boy."
"I'm sure you're aware since the White Dragon Emperor was also your ward, but Juggernaut Drive. A forbidden technique that draws on the malice released from the bearer and the collective consciousnesses of their predecessors to activate-"
"-And in exchange for the full power of their respective Heavenly Dragons, they lose their sanity. Yes, I've already seen my fair share of that state." Azazel cut in, impatiently. The memory of a berserk Vali get pushed into that form by a capable Agent of his and his trusty hound sprung to mind. The entire institute where that took place had to be built up from the ground up again along with wiping the memories of half of the human bystanders that witnessed that accident. "The point if you please."
"My point is the youngling. Ever since that day that the promise was made and his skirmish with the Bael heir, he was tirelessly working to achieve Welsh Drive with no results to show for it. He was frustrated and rushing, which meddled with his training. There were signs that something happened to him the next day after fighting Sairaorg but I couldn't get much out of him. Things weren't clear until the day where he was to challenge me again."
"To show his progress after a month in comparison to the first time he fought you." Azazel finished for the dragon earning a nod from the Draconic veteran.
"That was the plan. Admittedly, he did grow considerably to pass with a rough ends that he could later edge out as time goes on…" Tannin stopped, lost in thought as he thought back to that day.
"But…?" Azazel could tell there was more and it didn't look like it'll sound good at all.
"But, he wouldn't stop. He kept going and going until he couldn't before picking himself to go again." Tannin shook his head. "I would commend the youngling's heart had things not escalate the way that they did."
"Governor-General, what happened next came out of the blue. After screaming to himself to keep going, I began to hear the chant. I tried to be vocal to him about controlling himself, but he still continued, so I flew straight in to restrain the boy." Tannin gently touched the scar embedded on his chest. "A mistake I clearly deserved for not immediately attacking when I heard those words. The youngling's blade was made to slay dragons, but any one of my kind who are stronger than the average low-class dragon can guard against those weapons with little to no damage.
"That wasn't the case when the youngling lashed out. Along with the dragon slayer aura of Ascalon and the crushing power of Ddraig's released energy from the youngling, I felt a speck of something black and vile. When that blade was swung, all of my immediate defenses to dampen the blow was bypassed."
"…!" Azazel looked visibly surprised.
"I couldn't defend myself against the harsh poisonous affects of the dragon-slayer weapon and whatever that horrible presence was so I immediately put down the boy without considering the output of strength I put behind my flames." Tannin coughed. "Before my subordinates tended to our wounds, I had them and Bova swore to secrecy about the events of that day. No word was to spread beyond the mountains, and most of all, the youngling was never to be told of the true events that happened that day."
Tannin looked at the Fallen Angel's expression, it was just as grave as his.
"Something happened to the youngling. Being pushed to his limit in battle played a role and expedited it happening but whatever was going on in his head shouldn't be ignored."
"And you want me to disclose his background knowing how volatile he currently is?" Azazel asked.
Deeply sighing, Tannin said, "If to alleviate whatever is ailing him, then yes. Governor-General, I'm not one to coddle my own children much less give them what they want when they throw a tantrum. This type of tantrum is more endangering than anything my three children combined could do. Not to mention, the dangers it poses should it occur in the Human World where no one strong enough is around to end it."
So basically, the brat's a walking time bomb, Azazel surmised to himself.
"Do you know what that black energy was Governor-General, the one I described?" Tannin asked, curiously.
"…Yes…" Azazel solemnly nodded, his silence following soon after telling the dragon that there won't be any elaboration.
Raising his clawed hand, Tannin shook his head, "Do not worry, I do not wish to pry any further into your business. I just want you to be aware of the severity of the challenge that lies before you. Whatever you decide is your choice and I'm content to just state my side. However, since you know the full extent of the black power and Juggernaut Drive, I only wish that you'll be aware of this implication should things go awry for you." Tannin pointed to his scar.
A scar that was given to him, an Ultimate-Class Devil on par in power to a Maou, by a rampaging green Red Dragon Emperor mid-chant before actually entering the true Juggernaut Drive.
The magnitude of these news would have already been overwhelming for the Fallen Angel IF he wasn't already aware of the true dangers that truly lie in store for everyone's foreseeable future. The memory of a pale man (Monster) dressed in all white and black holding out a bundle of cloth popped into his head. The messy wave of his white hair obscured half his face, but it did nothing to mask the chilling, malignant scarlet eyes that to this day threatened to corrupt his very soul.
On that day, Azazel struck a deal with the Devil to Devils. And the only way out of it had two paths.
"Well, its nothing new that I haven't been pushed to take upon my shoulders so…yeah…" The man whispered the last part. Looking downcast for a moment, Azazel scratched his head.
"If I may be allowed to voice my opinion again, I certainly wouldn't envy to be in your position." Tannin dryly joked.
"Thanks glad to know you care…"
"But you have sympathies, Azazel." Though it was difficult to discern, Tannin smiled at the Fallen Angel through his rough, scaly exterior.
A small smirk fell on Azazel's face that comment did a bit to brighten his mood. "You know, I'm starting to wonder if you're really as hardboiled as you think, Tannin the Softhearted Dragon." What? He had to ruin it otherwise, he'd been in a mood all day with this news.
"I'm starting understand where the youngling got most of his "difficult" aspects from." Tannin grumbled before bitterly laughing. "All the more for me to give you my condolences because you'll have to deal with more of that hardheadedness as a bonus from this point forward."
Azazel pocketed his hands cheekily shrugged as a bitter smile came over his face. 'Heh, wow! He actually got me back…'
"Right now the best thing we can do is go about things as normal. I'll continue looking into whatever is happening with the brat while you just keep doing…" Azazel paused for a moment unaware of what the Leviathan's [Queen]'s tasks are. "Whatever you've been doing."
"Simple enough." Kai shrugged. "I'm a busy man doing whatever I like and since I'm stretched thin as is. Doing too much at once is bound to tire me out you know."
"…Hey Monkey Boy." A thought came to Azazel.
"If you had the perfect chance to tell the kid about his past and your secret commonality with each other would you take it?" Azazel asked. He earnestly searched for an answer from the elder half sibling of the teen, the fallen angel had already made his stance clear, but he was still curious to hear the fickle man's opinion. He had to commend the Reincarnated Devil; the former monkey youkai's poker face was just as harder to read than his own.
"No." Kai shook his head.
"Any reason why?"
"Because I don't desire it. Whether Michael-kun gets mad about the Celtic islands or not is up to him. I'm not too keen on worsening my condition. Before falling into that cliché centered around revealing myself as his long lost half-brother, I'm aware that soon he'd be hounding me to know "who" was the origin of that half which made us related in the first place." Azazel grimaced at the implication as Kai knowingly allowed his eyes to take on a harrowing scarlet glow that brought nothing but bad memories that Fallen Angel wished to forget. "If it was going to be selective with erasing Michael-kun's memory just to keep him from being aware of it then you could imagine how serious it'll be to prevent the news from reaching Michael-kun ever again. My condition is worse enough as it is, I'd prefer to enjoy whatever freedom I have thank you very much…"
His eyes flashing back to their usual color, Kai took in a deep breath and muttered, "Hate doing that, always kills my vibe." He didn't want to cloud himself anger especially after watching a great fight and the achievements that Sona-chan and her peerage made. So, stomaching the intense burning ire in his gut, he wore his usual flippant smile.
"That's why I'm more than content with taking on the role as Master. Teaching him and watching him from afar was always my goal. If he continues to grow stronger that's a win." That way one day, Michael-kun and him could engage in a true death battle to claim one or the other's life. "If he dies when I'm not around, well, that's also technically a win for me."
Mostly out of spite for the thing that produced the two of them as half-siblings. He'd much prefer the deathmatch option, but should life take a turn for the worse than that's just the way things have gotta be.
So that was his answer, Azazel thought. "Chi! I sometimes forget just how truly ruthless a guy like you can be but considering your background, I can't be surprised." Azazel clicked his tongue and chuckled albeit bitterly at the man's blunt reasoning.
"Shishishi! Well, it does run in the family. I, at least have the excuse that I can somewhat comprehend the emotions of others, which isn't much in comparison to Michael-kun." But it was leagues better than whatever counts as a moral conscious towards that thing.
Pushing the elevator button, Azazel figured that it was about time to start getting ready for the trip back to the Human World. His plate was already full what with the investigation into the murder of that female devil, any leads pointing toward the source of whoever was developing a Sacred Gear Canceller, and his biggest challenge, getting Michael to talk. The ride back was going to be a breather before he poured himself into his work.
Not the fun kind of work where he collected prized goods and researching Sacred Gears. Just gritty, tiresome work.
Thinking back to the scar and Kai mending Saji's life span with his senjutsu, Azazel asked, "Oi, if its possi-."
Kai interrupted waving his arm at Azazel in excited impatience. "Nope. Sorry. I was only in the mood to heal Saji-san after the game. Michael-kun just has to live with it. Like I said, I'm being stretchedthinasitiswithsomethingimportantsokeepwatchinghimlikealwaysBYE!"
In a ball of smoke, Kai disappeared, or what was taking his place did as a single strand of brown hair drifted to the ground. A clone?
"Hm, he really must be busy if he's using clones." Azazel said to himself as he identified the hair follicle. It made him wonder how many that the Simian bastard was currently using right now. Whatever. Wherever the real one was, was probably causing trouble to some poor fools out there in the world.
It wasn't his business to pry into another troublesome brat's personal goings because unlike Michael, Kai was actually an adult whose hang ups were probably dealt with. Not to mention the fact that like Sirzechs, Ajuka, and Zethyr, the man's strength earned him the anomalous ranking of "Super Devil".
There was no need to doubt it, Azazel thought as he entered the opening elevator.
The original Kai was probably fine.
Sorry, I'm late with the update and basically gipping you with this extra chapter. Online College happened and I really had to get my act together. I failed my Chem Exam with a 66/100 after that last update, so I had to study to make that up, plus, I have two science exams on the same day next Monday. So please understand that I have a full plate.
I'm proud to have found and implement that the Glitch Text Generator. Excuse it for it being a bit much, but that was necessary to hide the spoiler that was being said by the walking "headless" spoiler.
This was extra chapter supposed to be apart of the actual chapter's beginning, but it turned into a whole other thing that I felt that it was appropriate it to start the real chapter with something more easy to digest than all of this exposition. Expect the REAL chapter to come out next time.
So, yeah, a lot of things are getting addressed and questioned. You all must have thought that Natsuru and Makoto's [Code: Unknown] was never going to be brought up again, but they actually hold that much importance to the story and elaborates on how a certain asshole has the ability to cancel Sacred Gears and their affects.
Also, I think I'm going to have fun writing Michael and Azazel's interactions from this point onward. Both are stubborn in their own right which makes understandable conflict. For any LN readers who read Ishibumi's other works besides DxD, you might have noticed the obvious hints that were dropped, so yeah, look forward to that.
Now I don't know if the mystery I'm presenting is getting dragged out for you guys or not being as subtle anymore, I just hope that I'm able to keep you interested in it until I can finally reveal it at the right moment. So, I only ask those who want to stay to please be patient with me until I get there so you all can finally conclude on how you feel about my form of storytelling.
Well, I hope that you guys enjoyed this chapter. Sorry it wasn't the actual one, but I really hoped that you liked it.
Anyways, I'm Out so Peace Out and have a healthy and lovely day!