The amethyst lance penetrated my abdomen and severed my spine, sending me to my knees as my legs gave out.
The lance burned white-hot against my innards, incinerating my intestines bit by bit with its searing heat as the smell of cooked human flesh assaulted my nostrils.
"Sorry Issei, you were too much of a danger to let live." I turned to the source of that faux-apologetic voice.
The near numbing pain wracking my body, the slow burn of the lance in my belly, none of that could compare to what I felt as I looked upon the smiling face of my girlfriend... my murderer upon dark wings.
"Why?" It was barely a whisper. It was all I could manage.
"Because of your Sacred Gear. But don't worry... you won't have to worry about anything anymore..."
Her smil- no, sneer grew.
"You can blame God for that."
She swooped down and yanked me into the air with one hand, my legs dangling uselessly as the blood soaked contents of my stomach left my mouth in a spray of vomit.
"And now you have something I want, and I intend to collect."
The very air around us seemed to shimmer as I turned my head to the sky... ah.
That's a beautiful sunset.
And its beauty was the last thing I beheld before I fell... and kept on falling.
The seemingly endless spiral drawing me in as my eyes slowly shut.
[Oi, brat. Wake up.]
Huh? I reluctantly and slowly opened my eyes, feeling as if I had awoken from a long dreamless slumber. Where was that voice coming from?
I admit, I was a little frightened by suddenness of that voice, and as such I had jumped from where I was curled up on the floor straight to my feet.
"Oi, who is there? Where are you?" I shouted, hoping that whoever that was could hear me. At the same time, I quickly scanned my surroundings, trying to discern the location of whoever it was that called out to me.
My effort was in vain as I soon noticed that I was in a dark and damp… prison cell? And that there was no one at the entrance calling me. So unless someone could phase through walls…
[I'm down here idiot.]
I most definitely did not squeak like a little girl at the return of the voice.
Regardless of my not-squeak, I my eyes quickly shot downwards to see if there was anything out of the ordinary.
I noticed two things. One, if not for an extremely sheer loincloth wrapped around my groin, I would have been naked. Two, my left arm was covered up to the forearm with a red gauntlet.
The gauntlet looked at first glance, like a cheap cosplay item that fans of a particular series would make for themselves or buy from a store at Akihabara, but looking at it up close I somehow knew better. It was far too high quality to be homemade or bought in a store, the forearms were covered in thick, red overlapping plates that encircled the vulnerable flesh. At the sides of the place each plate overlapped, the material spiked outwards. This repeated for each overlapped plate until the final one, in which it ended in a sharp point that covered my elbow alongside two golden prongs reminiscent of horns. My hand, was covered by the first plate of the overlapping material, this one had a large green gem that sparkled with hidden power set within the circle that extended claws to cover my digits.
Overall, the design lent it a rather draconic appearance. But more than that, when I looked at it, I couldn't help but feel a sense of… familiarity. Like I had known and worn this gauntlet for all of my life.
And I could reasonably assume that it was the source of that voice.
[Finally figured it out huh?]
The green gem in the middle glowed as it spoke, but the sound seemed to come from everywhere at once, making it impossible to tell where exactly its source was.
I guess I should talk to it, maybe it could help me.
[Ddraig, its Ddraig kid.]
Well that makes things easier. Doing my best to keep calm in the face of talking gauntlets, and damp cells, I sought to question the gauntlet.
"Okay, so uh Ddraig. Who- what are you? What is this? And where are we? The last thing I remember was…"
The lance in my belly, that beautiful sunset.
Falling, falling into darkness.
[Oi, you listening?]
"Sorry, I was-"
[Angsting about the fallen angel that killed you?]
"Angsting? ANGSTING?! She KILLED me! The hell did you expect me to feel?!"
[I would expect the one who wields my might to pay attention what actually matters as of now. Yes, she killed you. And that is the crux of the issue, if you would let me explain.]
Deep breath in, deep breathe out… Okay.
"Fine, what is it? What is so bloody important?"
[I'm going to have to start from the beginning, try not to brood.]
What followed was a lecture on a part of my very world I was blind to. The supernatural exists, myths have a grain of truth, the Biblical God melds tools crafted by him with the souls of humans, and there are thirteen of these tools that are both unique and possess enough power to slay gods.
This particular one on my arm and grafted onto my soul was called the Boosted Gear. Ddraig did not get into the specifics of what exactly I could do, but the one thing about these 'longinii' that he kept stressing was that when the current possessor dies, it passes on to the next wielder… wait.
"Hold on a second, it passes on to the next wielder? Then if I… died, what is it still doing with me then?
[Exactly. When humans die, the various mythological factions each have their own ways of handling the departed souls.]
Then… what am I doing here? My family was never particularly devout, but we still observed the Shinto customs so… shouldn't I be in… Yomi if I recall the legend of Izanagi and Izanami no Mikoto correctly?
[Issei… we shouldn't be here. Neither of us should be here. This world… this plane of existence, everything feels wrong here. As a dragon, I have lived for a very very long time, yet this world… it feels unnatural. Like it should never have been.]
"Unnatural? Shouldn't have been? I just got killed by a lance made of fucking light, I wake up in a cell nearly naked with a talking gauntlet grafted onto my arm and it tells me that everything is unnatural? OF COURSE IT"S FUCKING UNNATURAL!"
I nearly started hyper ventilating from the revelations trusted unto me. Fallen angels? Planes of Existence? Sacred Gears? It, it… Isn't it just too much? I collapsed back down on my bum, my head hung low. Just, fuck.
I had no idea, how long I just sat there. Stewing in my thoughts and coming to terms with my new situation.
"Hey, Ddraig… What am I supposed to do now?"
[Finally done huh?] He continued before I could say something in retort. [Well, first things first we have to get out this cell.]
A shrivelled up corpse fell down from an opening in the ceiling that provided light to the cell. A pouch on its side coming loose and fell in front of me. A key rolling out from the fallen pouch.
I took a look at the key, I took a look at the ceiling where the body had fallen from and saw some guy in medieval looking armour walk away, and looked back at the key again.
Well isn't that fucking convenient.
I sat in a large, empty courtyard. Simply basking in the comforting warmth of the bonfire… That was inexplicably made from a broken sword and dusted bones.
Bloody hell was that cell cold… well, that and I'm also practically naked. Still, I'm surprised that my current state of dress does not embarrass me as much as I thought it would. Then again, it's not like there is anyone here to be embarrassed by.
Those… things I walked by when I made my way here, they looked shrivelled up corpses. Shambling, shrivelled half dead corpses. How…. How were they still moving?
No, what Ddraig said… everything about this place was wrong. Could this be what he meant?
Maybe, but I can't stay here in front of the fire forever. I have to move on, to try and go… somewhere. And the only way out that was open to me, was that gigantic door in front of the bonfire.
Sigh, now or never then. I walked over to the door, and with all my might heaved it open. It was a large, empty hall that greeted me. The sides of the hall were lined with large pots, and at the other end of the hall, were a set of doors identical to the ones I had just passed through.
Well, it's definitely clear where the exit is.
I began to walk towards it, and was but a few metres from it when it fell from the ceiling.
It, was a monster. It had face a mother would spit upon, jagged ridges and horns that seemed to resemble a deer's antlers. Its wings were so small and atrophied that it was a wonder that it could remain afloat at all! Considering the mass of its massive pear shaped body lined with leathery skin and exposed ridges of hard bone, it was truly a wonder and a horror to behold.
Oh and there was huge massive great mace in its hands. A mace that had been swung and was now flying towards me…. OH SHIT.
[Brat! Watch Out!]
I raised my arms in a vain effort to block the blow and was sent flying for my efforts. I was sure that I would impact a wall painfully, but instead I was sent flying down a flight of stairs and collapsed in a bloody, painful heap.
Oh god… I can't feel my legs. And everywhere else hurts… my arm… my arm isn't supposed to bend that way. Biting back sobs of pain, I used my one good arm, the one still covered with the gauntlet, and dragged myself forward.
I don't where I was dragging myself towards, but I couldn't give up I just couldn't. I had to keep going had to… keep going… why?
Why keep going? I'm stuck here, my girlfriend killed me, and I just got smashed by a fucking mace. Why am I trying so hard? I could just close my eyes and let it all blow over…
No, it can't be.
O-Occhan? No… but it can't be. All those years ago… the policemen…
Ise-boyo, do you remember all the things I told you all those years ago?
Yes Occhan! I remember, you taught me about Oppai! About big Oppai, and shapely Oppai and perky Oppai, and small, but still developing Oppai and and and Oppai in all its glorious shapes, sizes, colours, textures and various degrees of softness!
But most of all… not only can you grope Oppai. You can suck it as well!
That's right Ise-boyo. Have you groped Oppai yet? Have you sucked Oppai yet?
My head drooped in shame. No… not yet Occhan… I- I haven't…
Then you know why Ise-boyo. Why you must keep walking forward.
Hahahahahahahah… that's right. How could I ever forget, the reason why I studied all night to enter Kuoh. The reason I braved pain and torture from the Kendo club, the reason why I fight on.
For Oppai is love. Oppai is life. Oppai are the hopes and dreams of men yet to come!
That's right Ise-boyo…
Watch me Occhan! I will keep moving forward! I will make it back home! I will escape this place!
FOR OPPAI I WILL MARCH!
I kept pulling myself forward, renewed strength filling my being. I dragged, and I dragged, until my hand touched something. And this… something was set ablaze. And from it a wave of fire pulsed outwards, filling me with warmth as the wounds of my body mended.
I lay there for a while, basking in the warmth of the flame, all my strength expended.
But I knew that eventually I would have to get up. I had to keep going. I lay until my strength returned. And continued forward.
The area was a thin hall way that sloped upwards. And at the top of the slope, was one of those shambling things from just know. Just that this one had a bow. And was letting an arrow fly.
Oof, fuck. The arrow was buried in my chest, damn I can't stop here. I quickly ducked into a side room, dodging the next arrow. Taking a few deep breaths, I yanked out the arrow in my chest in a burst of pain.
Amazingly, I didn't seem to be bleeding very much. And the wound was already closing.
Never mind that, how am I going to get to… I spotted a shield next to someone's corpse and picked it up. Right, let's try this again.
I stepped out of the side room and held up the shield in front of me. I grimaced as an arrow immediately slammed into it. I charged up the slope at it. Blocking the arrows with the shield until I rammed straight into him.
Power flowed into me as the gauntlet made its announcement. I did not let up from where I had it pinned against the wall. Continually using the shield to bash it again and again.
More power flowed into me, my bash crushing the body in front of me, it fell, a faint glimmer still in its eyes. I saw a club clutched in the fingers of a nearby corpse and wrenched it away to use for myself.
I lifted it over my head, to deliver the Coup de Grace.
I felt all the power I had built up expend itself in a strike that pulped its head and pummelled a crater into the ground below.
Hah… hah… I did it. I killed it. I won… A white wisp seemed to flow from the corpse to me. It filled me with something that like… like power, potential. Ignoring it for the moment, I turned to the side, and checked if the coast was clear.
Club in hand I walked into the corridor, and passed through the gate of fog.
Okay… this is it. I have no idea what is going to be behind this fog, but I'll do my best. For Oscar, for Oppai.
I stepped through and found myself on a ledge directly overlooking the monster from before. Okay… need to fight this guy to leave…
Ready[Boost], ready[Boost], ready[Boost], JUMP.
I ran towards the edge and leapt off it. My club held high and I smashed it down on its head [EXPLOSION]. I managed to knock it back a little as I jumped off its head and landed in a crouch.
Damn, it wasn't enough, it recovered quickly and with the assistance of its wings leaped after me, sweeping its mace to the side just as it landed, catching me in its arc and sending me flying.
I landed on my face in a painful heap, turning around just in time to see the mace swinging down at my prone form. It hit true, and I felt pain and darkness.
I quickly shot up and took in my surroundings, I was back at the bonfire that led to the narrow corridor.
[Oh, you're up.]
"Ddraig? Wait wasn't I-"
[You were fighting that monster, yeah. Then you died.]
"Oh… then how did I…"
[From what I can tell, when you touch one these 'bonfires', you and I get 'linked' to it somehow.]
He continued to speak as I stood up to dust myself off.
[My guess; when you touched the bonfire, I felt a… part of my power being consumed by the flame. I think, it is this power that links me and by extension you to the bonfire.]
"A part of your power consumed? Ddraig… are you all right?"
Ddraig seemed to give a grumpy but good natured snort at my concern. Well fuck me for caring right?
[Don't worry about me brat. I'm a dragon and we are power incarnate.]
"Eh, what do you mean?" What is 'power incarnate'?
[Sigh, well you might want to sit back down. This will take a while.]
And he began his tale, the tale of the three biblical factions and the great everlasting war they fought. Of the two Heavenly dragons, the embodiment, the representatives of their very nations of Albion and Wales, and as these nations clashed in conquest and war so too did the dragons who embodied them.
Their battle raged upon earth, tearing the great trees to shreds, and the ground to magma. They fought and fought. Drowned in mead, they fought. Riddled with wounds they would fight.
Their very screams of pain slaughtering babies in the womb.
Eventually, they stumbled upon a hidden battlefield. Where Three Factions waged their everlasting war. And so they fought on, ignoring the previous combatants of the field. When demanded to cease, they replied with fire. And in their arrogance, they were slain by the leaders of the three factions.
Their very souls, wellsprings of power overflowing, would have eventually regenerated their bodies and leave the two dragons to continue their battle. Weather against each other, or against the three factions, YHVH could not take that risk.
And so He sealed their souls into an invention of his design, the only that could hold them. The Sacred Gears. In a gauntlet, he sealed Ddraig. In a pair of wings, he imprisoned Albion. And as such it served a dual purpose.
The Sacred Gears would act as both a limiter and a prison. They would never be able to regain their bodies while trapped in the Sacred Gear, and there was only so much power that could be channelled through the Sacred Gear.
And yet, as much as it was a limiter, it was also a conduit. With these, His chosen, Humanity would be able to wield the power of the Two Heavenly Dragons for themselves. They would gain powerful weapons against those that would seek to oppress them for their weakness.
And so these two Longiniii were passed down unto the hands of men. Wielded time and time again both for and against humanity. For a weapon cares not who or what it is pointed against. Only that it is used.
"Wow… so you're pretty amazing right?"
[Hmpph, damn right.]
"So this Sacred Gear… you're power… what does it do? I mean I remember hearing the gauntlet letting out this 'boost' thing."
[That is a part of my power. I am the embodiment of the Kingdom of Wales. And as such I possess the power of Endless growth which is that 'Boost' thing you keep hearing. Every time you hear it, you grow twice as strong. And it will keep Boosting until it reaches your limit.]
"That's… amazing… but even with that I couldn't defeat that monster…"
I was weak, too weak, just like I was too weak against Raynare…
[Oi Brat. Don't go moping on me again. If you are weak, then just get stronger right?]
"Well, how? I'm stuck here, and there aren't exactly a lot of protein shakes lying around?"
[Why not just use that pool of potential you've built up inside you then? You've been absorbing it from every enemy you've defeated you know?]
"Pool of potential?"
[Yeah, what do you think that white mist was?]
… Smoking Candy floss?
"You know what, never mind. Okay how do I use this 'potential' then?"
[Try feeling it first.]
I took a cue from the various manga I had read in the past and decided to try by meditating. It was harder than it looked, staying still and thinking of nothing. But eventually, I could almost see it in my mind's eye.
It was like a swirling whirlpool of white mist dancing within me. Now how was I supposed to use it to make myself stronger?
Immediately the swirling whirlpool increased in speed, some of it broke off in wisps that rushed out to fill… me?
No… wait, it was… No.
I felt stronger yes, but… that power, it did not strengthen my body per se but… it strengthened… me?
Or rather my soul… that is me. I am my soul, and yet this power almost seemed to make it… heavier or sturdier I guess? Still I need to test it out.
I turned my attention back to the world around me and got on my hands and toes. I began to do push ups, trying to see how many I could do.
I stopped at 50, 35 more than what I remember being able to do. Holy shit it worked!
"Hey Ddraig it worked! It worked!" I can't help it, I was excited!
[What did I tell you hmm?]
"Yeah yeah, thanks for your help." I said, standing up. I think it's time for me try again.
I stood up and walked back up the staircase and came face to face with one of those shambling corpses… wait. Didn't I kill him after he tried to crush me with a boulder? Does it mean that every time I die, they all come back to life… wait.
I rushed up the stairs, the Boost empowering me and I crushed his head with my club. I watched as the white wisp flowed into me as it had done before… Oh yes.
I am so going to exploit this… Maybe I should hold off on trying to kill that monster for a while… I let myself smirk in anticipation, it's time to go for some… 'training'.
I had no idea how long I had been killing these shambling corpses. But I knew for sure that I had been growing in strength greatly.
I could Boost many more times than before, and I had gotten rather… well I wouldn't say skilled but rather, efficient at fighting. After a while my club shattered and I had to go Bare handed until I could rip off a sword from the more heavily armoured of the corpses.
But now, I think I am ready. Finishing off the last of the corpses by beheading it, I stepped through the fog gate. A large amount of boosts already saved up.
It's now or never, with a last final boost I leaped off the ledge, and plunged my sword into the monster's head.
My sword plunged straight through its head, the pure force pulping a part of its upper body.
The force of the attack, combined with the weight of the monster however, sent it crashing straight the ground as it collapsed under the weight. One hand held on to my blade, the other with claws dug into the flesh of the monster. Both assured I did not fall off and that the creature would take the brunt of the fall.
We landed a top a mountain of skeletons, The monster below me was most assuredly dead… But as I looked up, I realized that the monster's bigger, meaner cousin might have just taken offence at me killing it's kin.
And that some red power was gathering at its own mace… shit.
[Partner! Get DOWN!]
I jumped off the creature, just in time to use its mass as a shield.
The bigger fucker brought his mace down and red wave of pure force pulsed out. Blowing all the bones around me to pieces and disintegrating parts of the body I was using as cover.
Oh shit, how am I going to kill it?
I took a look around to observe my surroundings. Everything within a certain radius was simply obliterated, however the further reaches of the room were untouched save for some pieces of bone shrapnel.
Okay, first step; get out of the blast radius.
Ripping my sword from the creature, I turned and ran for it. Barely dodging the next wave of force.
I remembered to keep accumulating my boosts, the power within me pulsing and growing with every boost. My steps were quicker, my blows were harder, I tired less quickly.
Right, now that I'm away from it, I could get a better look at it. It looked exactly the same as the creature before, just upscaled and with the power to create bursts of kinetic force.
The large radius of the blast means that getting close is very risky. However, I have no other means of damaging it. So I'll have to make every hit count.
I have to keep dodging it till I can reach enough boosts that my hit will count, and it's coming right here.
Dodging under its horizontal swing I ran to the other end of the room, peering over my shoulder to see if it was letting off an explosion. Thankfully it wasn't and was turning around to chase me again.
I abruptly stopped my running, my feet nearly sliding to a stop. I was ready.
With a war cry I charged the creature, dodging under another swing I swung my blade into its short stubby leg with all of my might!
The sword carved deep into the flesh of its leg nearly severing it… before it broke. The blade snapped in half, as my momentum carried me and the remnants of the blade off-balance and forward, unable to dodge the wild swing of the mace.
I was sent flying, landing right next to the creature I had slain. Fear and adrenaline pushing me, I got up as quickly as I could and discarded the broken sword. Damnnit, I have no wepaons, how am I going to…
My eyes now lay on the mace of the previous creature. It was large, unwieldy, ridiculously big and I wasn't even sure if I would be able to lift it let alone use it. But I had no other options, and with my Ddraig's ability to Boost… maybe just maybe.
Maybe I can win.
Now, to avoid it until I get enough boo-
[PARTNER! He's charging up!]
Shit, I ran for the fallen creature just as the mace contacted the ground. The red shockwave hitting me in the back [Boost], sending me careening forward towards the fallen body [Boost]. Flying over it, I reached down just in time with my claw to rip into its flesh [Boost], pulling myself into cover and nearly dislocating my shoulder in the process. [Boost]
Bracing against the leathery skin I readied myself for the impacts. And impacts they were. It did not stop slamming its mace again and again and again and again and again.
Each impact bleeding into my body until I was coughing blood. My injuries from the shockwave exacerbated by the continuous barrage of pure force.
It hit again. [Boost]
And again. [Boost]
And again. [Boost]
Was it over?
The mace smashed against my cover in a horizontal sweep, the force sending me to the floor. No, oh God no it wasn't! By instinct, I rolled straight to the side just in time to avoid the mace smashing down on where I used to be.
Dammit it's now or never!
With a war cry I ran for the fallen mace, ducking under its arm as it tried to swing, using the multitude of skeletons that littered the floor as fot holds, jumping from platform to platform of deceased people even as it chased me until I reached the mace.
The moment of truth! Come on damn it Get UP!
With all of my might, I yanked it up and swung wildly at the creature. Parrying its blow, and using the momentum I spun in place in a 360 degree turn, the mace head demolishing its previously injured leg.
It gave a savage roar of pain but I refused to let up, my next blow bashed its mace out of its hands, with another spin, I demolished it's other leg, but this time I stopped the swing prematurely, using my arrested momentum to shift my weight quickly to change the direction of my next swing in a move I am not sure I would ever be able to pull off again, and batted it into the air.
This is it! THE FINAL BLOW!
I brought the mace down on it just as it was about to hit the ground with all of my strength.
Hah hah hah hah hah… is it over?
When I had dealt the final blow, I had collapsed from the exhaustion just as all the dust raised from the attack obscured all vision. I could not tell if I was successful, o if it was even still alive.
Have to… find out.
I picked myself up from the floor, and tried to stagger over to where I remembered the monster to have landed. I could not find it, until the dust eventually settled and I got a good look at what I had done.
There was now a large crater in the ground, and in it lay the creature or rather what was left of the creature. It had been nearly completely gibbed, there bits and pieces of its flesh still hanging on to each other, but overall it was a complete mess of twisted biology.
There was something glowing that dropped from the creature, climbing down into the crater, I picked it up. It was a slab of sorts but I felt power brimming inside it, placing it in my pack I breathed a sigh of relief.
That's it then. I did it. I WON.
And like a tidal wave of white mist, power flowed into me filling up my meagre whirlpool into a tornado of power and potential.
It felt so fucking good.
Eventually I found a way out of the pit I had fallen into, it was a ladder that led me back into the corridor that connected to my cell.
Ironically, I had come full circle.
But something in the cell caught my eye. It was a doll, a rather Peculiar Doll. But it wasn't there before… right?
No matter, I guess I'll just keep it then.
I made my way back to the courtyard and avoiding the hole, and threw open the doors. Breathing in the fresh air of the outside. I did it. I was free from this place. Now… how do I go from here?
I walked all the way up the stone steps to reach the end. It was a high ledge with a large bird nest sitting at the edge.
So that's it? I fought all of those creatures and this is it?
Then the owner of the bird nest swooped down, grabbed me in its claws and took off into the air.
I want to struggle, to free myself, but… If I drop…
Sigh… well wherever it drops me.
I hope that I can at least get a pair of pants.
A Red Dragon's Soul
Highschool DxD x Dark Souls Xover