CosmicEter and The Mourning Wolf helped a lot with this chapter, and are helping me with my other stories… Check out their stories out too, they're pretty interesting. CosmicEter is the author of The Shadow of Tatsumi. The Mourning Wolf is the author of Kill the Personality!
He remembered the first time he saw the people of the North. They had originally been a clan of hunting nomads, following their prey.
They came a few decades after his father fell. Finding suitable necessities, they settled. At that time, it was green plains, and lush trees. All of it, was covered in snow by a change in the environment. A winter that came, but never let up.
Years came and went, along with many of the Northern tribe. They built many frosted buildings, that still stood when they fell.
A century passed, and then came the exiled Yuuki. Originally a Northerner, she was framed and persecuted.
She had never really believed in the Northerners' religion, so she never mentioned it.
Except one day, when she went into a small village, with Tatsumi in tow, to show him the shrine since he was curious. She had to stop the guards from running him through with a spear or sword, but that's when the rumors started.
Rumors eventually turned into tales. Time passed and tales turned into legends. Eventually, everyone believed Tatsumi to be nothing more than lore.
But every story has some truth behind it, and with that realization, Numa sent out a search party.
They needed some help to win this war. If a beast was that help, then so be it.
Except in the end, he didn't help at all.
Flying through the clouds, was a scaly beast. White scales gleaming, reflecting the sun's rays. White wings allowed the dragon to glide, flapping when a higher altitude was needed.
Riding on his back, was a woman of cold beauty.
Hours passed. Endless trees of all kinds blocked the ground from view. Hills and mountains were easily flown past.
Finally, in distance, a Great Wall came into view. The silhouette of a mighty building was at the center.
The dragon landed on a nearby ledge with a deafening thud.
The woman grinned. "I'm home, Capital"
Tatsumi followed behind Esdeath and her Three Beasts. They walked through the palace, being greeted by frightened looks and panicked footsteps.
Esdeath seemed content with the panic she was causing. The occasional glance at him let him know she was curious of his reaction.
Tatsumi kept a straight face, despite the fact that the door they were walking to had such a horrible smell, it was making it difficult to breath. The stench was utterly revolting.
The panic and fear that came from the servants and guards was something he was used to. It came from the Imperials he fought, every time he killed one of their comrades.
The stench coming through the door, was the one that came when had eliminated any chance of victory or escape.
When his self-proclaimed lover opened the door, he found out why.
The disgusting smell leaked off of the victims of torture. Everywhere, there were Imperials punishing innocents of crimes they didn't commit.
Tatsumi narrowed his eyes, and took a step forward, but Esdeath held her arm out to stop him. He looked to her in confusion, only to realize that she was enjoying the screams of pain and moans of despair. He gritted his teeth, but backed down.
Then Esdeath realized the massive cauldron was far past boiling, causing her to frown.
"How pathetic. Just looking at you is annoying me." She announced.
"What? You wanna joi-," One of the torturers turned to her, annoyed, before realizing who had insulted them. "E-Esdeath-sama!" Immediately he bowed down and apologized. Some of the other Imperials bowed down as well, hoping it would prevent her wrath from befalling them.
"If you make it a little less hot, then you can prolong their suffering." Esdeath commented darkly. With a snap of her fingers, a gargantuan sphere of ice appeared, before dropping into the water, creating a massive splash of burning water.
"Th-thank you for the valuable lesson!" One of the bowing Imperials said with vigor.
"Let's go." Esdeath ordered, leaving along with the Three Beasts and Tatsumi.
In front of her was a grand staircase, and at the top, two people looked down at her.
She had left her Three Beasts behind in order to meet with the Emperor and Prime Minister, but she insisted on introducing Tatsumi to the two rulers. He kneeled behind her, with dented pride.
To think I'm bowing to the successor of the man who ordered my father to be killed…
"General Esdeath." The Emperor addressed. He gave Tatsumi a curious glance, before looking back to the icy general.
"Your efforts to conquer the North was superb! You will be rewarded 10,000 gold pieces." He announced.
"I am grateful, your majesty. We left not a soldier alive." She replied with a grin.
"I must apologize. You have just returned, yet there is work to be done. The atrocious Night Raid has been running rampant in my city. They must be removed."
Esdeath merely replied with, "I understand. But I must ask for something."
"If it's soldiers, you can use as many as you want." He chirped.
"I've heard that Night Raid has Teigu. It is necessary to have a Teigu in order to fight a Teigu user, thus I wish to ask for 6 Teigu users, as well as permission to access the Teigu chambers."
The Emperor and Prime Minister gaped at her request.
"I suppose we could arrange for the Teigu users, but why do you need to access the chambers? You already have a Teigu, do you not?"
Esdeath's grin grew, as she sent a glance to the dragon-in-the-form-of-a-human behind her. "Yes, I do have a Teigu. I believe someone in my army has the potential to weird a Teigu." Her glance went unnoticed by no one in the room, and the Emperor seemed to get even more confused than before.
"If I may ask, who is that young man behind General Esdeath?" He questioned.
"Someone I found up North… He is very interesting." Esdeath replied vaguely.
"Why is he interesting?" The Prime Minister asked, curiosity getting the better of him, causing him to finally decide to speak up.
"Why, that's because he's a dragon." The general replied bluntly.
Tatsumi narrowed his eyes. Did she not realize that these people would likely try to kill him?
"What do you mean by dragon?" The young ruler asked in curiosity.
Esdeath's grin grew even larger, looking almost like a glasgow smile. She turned her head and stared at the dragon of Northern lore.
"Tatsumi, if you don't break anything, I'll make an exception, to both your clothes, and the rules I layed out."
Tatsumi's eyes briefly widened, knowing what she was hinting. He figured it was the quickest way to explain without to many questions, so he glanced up at the current emperor, and started to grow.
Such a child, couldn't possibly understand his grudge against the Empire. His predecessor had hunted many mighty beasts, and forced their species' extinction, just so he could make weapons. Weapons that can be broken, or turned against the very empire they're supposed to protect.
Sickening cracks of bones growing and expanding, popping of joints going into their new place, squelching of new flesh and blood, all of it, filled the silence.
The Emperor looked ready to vomit from the sounds, while the Prime Minister just gaped at the boy- no the dragon that looked down at them in annoyance.
He stood on his hind legs, for more intimidation, and spread his wings out as far as they could go without touching the walls.
His snow-white scales gleamed in the sunlight passing through the windows. His eyes had cross-slit pupils, and stared at the Emperor, who now was staring at him in complete surprise. Neither of the two Esdeath bowed to even bothered to try and hide their surprise at the complete absurdity of the situation.
"That's what I mean by dragon." Esdeath said, grin forming into a smirk at their reactions, "I found him while I was conquering the Northern Tribe. He tried to defend them, so I beat him and made him my lover." She said with glee.
"That makes… Sense." The Prime Minister struggled for words, but it was clear he was completely baffled by this. "How is this possible?" He asked, putting his other questions on hold.
"Tatsumi said that his father was the Tyrant, an ancient beast known for its ability to adapt and evolve. So long story short, he inherited that ability to adapt and evolve, allowing him to shapeshift into a human at will… By the way, Imperials killed his father, so don't expect him to listen to you." She said the last part with a growing sinister smirk. Honest may have his own pawns, but she could personally wipe them all out. With a pet just as strong as she is, he couldn't hope to restrain her, or whatever his idiotic political mind wanted to do to her.
She held in a laugh at his horrified expression, before looking back up to the dragon glaring at the Prime Minister.
"Come on, let's go. You still have that cloak right?" She stood up before leaving, her heels clicking ominously.
Tatsumi looked around to the torn remains of his clothes, before growing smaller, but not human.
On all fours he followed Esdeath out.
The Prime Minister watched them go, angered at this change of events.
I'm going to have to completely redo my plans… Damn you, Esdeath!
After getting a change of clothes, Tatsumi wandered around the Capital, in human form. He looked around, curious of the city that was built by the man that ordered his father to die.
He had heard from Numa, before the war, that it was a mighty Empire, with corrupted officials.
He could now see why this 'corruption' could cause so many problems.
Everywhere, was sorrow, pain, suffering, despair, anger, frustration, greed.
It was utterly suffocating. Holding his nose in a vain attempt to cease smelling, he stumbled through the streets like a drunk, trying to breath as little as possible.
In his rush for 'fresh air', he stumbles into a woman. Mumbling an apology, he tries to continue on, before a strong grip on his shirt stops him.
"Hey boy, what's wrong? You seem to be having trouble breathing." She was a busty blonde with only baggy pants and a black strap as clothing. She looked at him in curiosity and slight worry, but he could smell it. It wafted off of her like perfume. Greed.
He sent a nasty glare her way, not that realizing in his panic, his eyes had gained cross-slit pupils.
She took a step back in shock, staring at his unusual eyes as he looked away and rushed to the Capital's entryway.
Eventually Esdeath found him, and led him to the big archway signaling the exit to the city.
While he caught his breath, he stared in annoyance at the people around them. He could still smell it from here, but it wasn't as suffocating.
Esdeath still had her curious-with-a-touch-of-worry stare fixed on him, wondering why he was acting so weird.
"The Palace doesn't have nearly as many people in one space at a time." He muttered, almost to quiet to hear.
"Is that so? Your nose must be really sensitive. Are you smelling their body odors?" Esdeath asked bluntly.
"Those aren't suffocating. Those are natural… Although I suppose all those are natural as well…" He mumbled vaguely.
"Emotions. Greed…" He looked around, coming to a stop on Esdeath. She was staring at him in thought, trying to make sense of his vague answers.
Then she turned around and walked away. When he didn't follow, she looked behind her, at him, and said, "Well, didn't you want to get away from all of it?"
With that being said, he followed her away from the capital, into the forest.
They walked for hours, killing anything that had the misfortune of running into their sight.
Tatsumi was relieved, even though he knew he was going to have to get used to the smell of the Capital, he had escaped from the dreaded smells.
They killed a number of danger beasts, ranging from common ones to rare ones.
Esdeath had occasionally muttered that it would be a pleasure to find an Ultra Class, but there was a reason those were so rare.
Or at least that's what Tatsumi was thinking when an inhuman shriek called out.
"We will not tolerate intruders."
Tatsumi paused. It was clearly a powerful danger beast that called out in warning. The only problem was We. Who was We?
Esdeath had broken into a full out sprint when she heard the call, a grin spreading into her face as she anticipated a great battle.
In a rush, Tatsumi ran after Esdeath. He did not wish to intrude on another beasts territory, although, he figured, it'd probably be difficult to make a battle-maniac like Esdeath retreat without even trying.
Another warning sounded out, like the shriek of metal upon metal mixed with a guttural roar.
"If you come, you will regret it."
Esdeath couldn't understand what he was saying, being human, so she did not falter. Tatsumi had come to the realization that even if she did know the meaning of the roar, she wouldn't stop.
One last call sounded out.
"You have made your choice, humans."
And then a shadow descended upon them.
With a thundering crash it landed.
It suddenly made sense, We.
Black armor plates covered every inch of its body, phantom cracks across most, from previous battles. Spikes jutted from its massive tail, and lined along its spine. Two pairs of pitch-black wings, leathery and tough. Sturdy armored legs bore claws that could shred through armor with utmost ease.
It was a beast of lore, much like Tatsumi, yet different.
There were seven heads. Each one was horned and armored. Each one had glaring crimson eyes. Black fangs flashed warningly, ready to bite. A shrill growl came from each head.
A hydra. An old hydra. Judging by the amount of armor and the utter size of it, it was almost a millennia in age. Older than Tatsumi by a few decades.
As it gazed upon Esdeath, one of the heads let out a challenging roar.
"Imperial! You will fall today!"
Tatsumi himself let out a challenging roar, as he grew.
The hydra eyed his form in disgust.
"Beast! Why do you protect such a human!? An IMPERIAL!"
Tatsumi growled out his own response, and gauged the reactions on all of the faces.
"My father has fallen to the Imperials, not this woman. There is no point in attacking her."
One of the heads looked deterred and fell silent, but the others didn't falter. Some growled while others yelled at him in anger.
"What would you know?! Your father must have been weak!" One taunted.
"Our father was strong! But he was taken from me by them! I will not forgive the Imperials!" Another screeched.
"Do you think you can beat me in a fight?!" A third one questioned in anger.
Tatsumi let a growl escape his throat.
On the ground Esdeath watched in interest.
"My father was the beast the Imperials call the Tyrant. He was anything but weak." Tatsumi replied in annoyance. Despite its age, it's anger made it act childish.
"The Tyrant?! Ha! My father was the Archdemon! He could've killed the Tyrant with ease!" One of the heads screamed. All of the other heads voiced their agreement.
Tired of being insulted and taunted, Tatsumi decided to make the first move.
He lunged forward, clamping his jaws on one of the many necks. It screamed in pain, causing the others to chomp down on him or shoot flaring shot his way.
Not adapted to this kind of fighting, Tatsumi took the damage full on. Stumbling back he shot his own frosted breath, causing ice to form along the hydra.
The hydra dodged with a quick beat of its wings, surprisingly agile for something of its size.
The hydra didn't bother with a safe landing, instead opting to land directly on top of Tatsumi. He realized this, causing him to scramble out of the way. With a shuddering crack, the earth that had supported his weight, to suddenly falter beneath him.
The tide of battle quickly turned on Tatsumi, despite him taking the first move. The hydra had superior strength, speed, and experience, as well as the advantage of home territory.
The hydra's multiple heads turned any opening it made into an opening to attack Tatsumi, and he took devastating damage.
Esdeath looked to be thinking about jumping in, a somewhat disappointed expression on her face.
Then, Tatsumi made it known why the Tyrant was so feared as a beast, and sought after by ancient Imperials.
After being sent a massive blow to his side, he was sent tumbling away. When he came to a full stop, his scales rippled.
His body grew larger and more muscled. Sturdier armor plates replaced the previous ones, forming all around his body. Spikes similar to the hydra's protruded out, all along his spine, and framing his head. His wings grew larger, able to hold much more weight. His scales turned from an icy white, to a dirty brown. He shed the fur that had protected him from the cold in the North. His neck grew thin spikes, to protect it from being bitten, as the rest of his body adapted to the hydra's fighting style. Now fully prepared, he shot back into battle.
With every ounce of dominance the hydra once had, he turned the tide of the battle.
Blow after devastating blow landed on the hydra. It stumbled back, two heads lunging to hit his arms, four others shooting out fire. One stood on standby for any openings created. It was a flawless approach to battle, that is, if it's opponent hadn't evolved for the sole purpose of defeating it.
Having adapted to be immune to fire, Tatsumi swatted the heads away and stepped forward, into the inferno.
He grabbed a head and started choking it. The others lunged at him in anger. One by one, he beat the heads down, but he would not cut off a head.
He had heard the tales of the Archdemon from his father.
A beast with multiple heads. Having the ability to control all of rock and soil, he was a murderous opponent. Cut a head off, and two more grow back.
If the scars on the necks of the hydra were any indication, he had inherited that trait. However, if his beat down was anything to go by, he did not inherit his father's ability to control the earth.
Tatsumi held him there for several minutes, and despite the struggling the multiple heads put up, eventually they gave up and went limp.
"Son of the Tyrant… You will suit him just fine," the heads shrieked in unison.
"Who? For what?" Tatsumi questioned.
"Those Imperials killed my father… They used magic to steal his ability… They used his remnants for their own satisfaction, so I killed them and took my father's remnants from them. It lays in the temple. I was guarding it from Imperials." The hydra explained in defeat. The heads each looked up into Tatsumi's eyes, and when Tatsumi was sure it wouldn't attack him, he let him go.
"Temple?" He questioned.
"My home." Was his answer. With that the hydra stretched its wings. With a few flaps of preparation, it took off in flight.
Tatsumi bent down, offering his hand. Esdeath jumped onto it then sat down. He could feel her eyes boring into him.
The hydra led him to a ruin.
Ancient bricks built up, cracks formed across the floor. Plant roots, from the many cracks, spread across the walls and floor of the temple. There was a massive hole in the mountain the temple was built into, from there the two beasts entered the temple. The ceilings were high, but Tatsumi still had to walk on all fours in order to not brush against the top.
Esdeath rode on his back, watching the hydra with mild interest. She hadn't asked why he was following it, Tatsumi wasn't entirely sure if she even cared.
The hydra led him to yet another crumbling wall. It seemed that if the hydra wanted to go through the temple, he just tore the walls down.
Through the hole in the wall, a throne came into sight. Light from a caved in roof shone down on it. Moss covered the armrests and a torn red cloth rest on the ground, like a carpet.
On the throne, was a vase. It looked to be made from bones, with a substance filling the gaps. From the angle Tatsumi was standing at, he could see the liquid filling the vase.
It was red, like blood.
"Drink." Was what the hydra said, but Tatsumi had already shrunken into his miniature dragon form. With scaly hands, he lifted the pot to his jaws, and drank.
Well. That's that…
They're finally at the capital... ^_^
If you haven't read The Shadow of Tatsumi or Kill the Personality! please do so. They are written by my friends…
Also, you can thank CosmicEter (Author of The Shadow of Tatsumi) for this chapter. He helped me come up with the ideas, and what to write for this chapter. This would've come a lot later if he hadn't help…