Five months ago...

Talion could be found in the castle of Lucifer, overlooking a the large expanse of land that surrounded the castle that the Lucifer of the Underworld held precedence over. That large palace, if one could call a palace small then it certainly wouldn't be this one. He had walked the halls for a couple days when he first got here, not backtracking but only seeing a handful of people.

Their directions sucked as well. They proceeded to get him even more lost before he just decided to go outside through the roof.

It was then that he had found out that two days had passed and that he wasn't as tired as he normally was. He had begun to notice that this was the case upon entering this world. He was stress-free. There was no war being waged over his head and there was not a constant feeling of impending doom.

He sat on the balcony and sipped on some wine of all things. This wasn't exactly the outcome of the war he had been expecting. He had fully been consumed with the idea of the Ring he had acquired from Isildur turning into a Nazgul and serving Sauron. Not that he had come to terms, but he was simply a human soul trying to fight off a deity. It had been over sixty years since he had slipped on the ring and after that he had spent that time acquiring his spirit army to March on the Eye of Sauron once more.

At first he had assaulted the Tower with only ten-thousand Uruks and their kin, but after years, decades of planning, more than five-hundred thousand spirits and Uruk-hai had been at his beck and call to assault the bastion of Sauron.

But when his body didn't age, Talion barely noticed the years that passed, barely noticed that he hadn't interacted with a human being that entire time. It was only souls and the enslaved Uruks that inhabited Mordor that he spoke with.

Now...now he was in an entirely different Universe, to him at least. Filled with Devils, Angels and Fallen alike. And this God-forsaken teenage, hormone-filled body.

It was all crazy, too crazy. The amount of power these beings, Sirzechs coming to his mind, was out of his realm of comprehension.

There was only one thing that stood him apart from the rest, and that his ability to come back from death. He had tried once when he got here, even slipping off his ring. But that didn't help him.

Talion shook his head.

"Can't sleep?"

The ranger jumped slightly, dropping his goblet of wine as a feminine voice, one he was growing familiar with, spoke from behind him.

He turned to see Serafall in a casual garb with a soft smile on her face. He still wasn't used to interaction, she supposed. But that was alright. She had seen many like him before, so detached, ready to jump at the slightest bit of unfamiliar stimulus. He was a lost soul that needed help, that needed mending.

"How may I help you, Serafall?" he asked her, looking at the spilled wine on the ground slightly. He'd clean it up later.

She simply kept smiling as she waved her hand and the wine floated into the goblet and the goblet rose back to his hand. It was simply manipulation of the vapors in the air here that allowed her to do such a thing but Talion couldn't help but marvel at the fluidity of it all. Magic was almost alien to him, when it didn't involve imprinting souls onto objects or conjuring weapons.

"Thank you..." he muttered lightly as he grabbed the goblet again.

She bowed her head. "Not a problem, Tali!" she said with her eyes closed and bright smile with teeth showing aimed towards the wraith across from her.

He stared at her for a moment before coming inside, closing the doors behind him. He had been very adamant on having no servants attending to his needs though he awoke every morning with a pair of clothes perfectly tailored to him. He wondered why he was being treated with such hospitality. He was a stranger in a strange land and it was a wonder he hadn't been attacked on sight.

Coming onto someone's land back in Middle-Earth was grounds for execution if it was unwarranted but Sirzechs was easy-going if anything. He had taken all that he had heard in stride and offered him refuge.

"Are you still contemplating the offer I had made you?" Serafall asked as she sat on the bed in the room.

Talion pursed his lips. "Which one?" he asked, raising a brow.

"The one to watch my darling little sister, Sona!" she grinned at him. "She needs someone who has that special something that you have to watch her back, and it'd be a personal favor to me if you could," she told him. She had asked him before but he was still unsure. He didn't want to mooch on the graces of the Maou of the Underworld if he didn't have to, but he wasn't exactly sure what to do here.

She watched Talion mull over the decision in his head. He was always a deep thinker, she had deduced. He would often just find a quiet place to organize his thoughts in his head. She allowed her smile to fall a tad bit though. He was a haunted soul, and not in the literal sense. He held onto so much regret and remorse for someone his age. Even though she assumed he was older than how he looked as was commonplace for devils to do so, he was full of sorrow.

She just hoped he would conquer his demons before they did, him.

"It'd give you a purpose, you know," she added softly.

That was one thing that stood out to her in all her conversations with him. He was a good man. A very good one. But he was directionless. He lacked a purpose here. Talion was displaced in a new world with nothing going for him save the powers he possessed. The Ranger had no reason to use them and no reason to hold onto anything here.

Talion suddenly found his goblet full of wine very interesting as he made a disgusted face before he gulped on the contents. After a few seconds he finished, the wine burning his throat slightly as he sat the ware down onto the dresser beside him. He held onto the goblet for a few moments, staring at it, contemplating what he wanted to say to the devil before him. He leaned his weight forwards, propping himself up on the dresser as a shaky breath escaped him.

Serafall moved forward as Talion's internal struggle made itself known. She offered a hand to his shoulder but he dodged the appendage before it landed on its intended target.

The Leviathan frowned as Talion seemed to straighten himself before he look at her.

"Who was it that I was supposed to be protecting again?"

Serafall's frown couldn't have became a smile fast enough.

.

Present.

"So, the only thing you found there was the body and a single bullet casing?" Rias asked Sona with surprise. It had been two days since Vizer had been discovered, bifurcated to boot. It was a particularly nasty scene to discover but it wasn't the worst that the more veteran peerage members had come across.

Issei, Rias' newest peerage member was disturbed the most, but that was expected. He was a naive, young boy with an unhealthy attraction to the body of females. So something above his cognitive properties such as death was a little to contrived and complicated for him to comprehend. He had just chalked it up to something that he needed to learn about from someone to understand better.

It wasn't really his fault. He wasn't sheltered per se, but he was narrow-minded in all his ways of thinking. That was one of two things Rias had a problem with her Pawn. He just took everything for face-value and never dug any deeper. When asked to hand out fliers, he never really asked why until he was done. She had figured if he had asked why prior, he would have had a better time because he was truly bettering their stay in Kuoh.

Rias had to take a second to take a calming breath. She didn't want to be too critical of the boy just yet. They still had time to her approaching appointment with Riser, so she had time to break him down and build him up. Unless his fascination with tits and porn, and everything ecchi got in her way. Then she would get Akeno to break him instead. Perhaps in more ways than one.

She was getting desperate. Perhaps too desperate. She shouldn't take it out on the boy but it was getting down to the wire and she needed an out.

Sona sipped her coffee and rubbed her eyes. Even with her physiology she still grew tired just as the humans did. She had stayed up until 4 A.M. until Talion returned from wherever he was going Saturday night and the last night she had been awake to facilitate some contracts that her peerage was being offered. It was he job as King so she had to be present to make sure her subordinates knew what they were doing.

She peered over her desk to see at least three other coffee cups around some paperwork she had been working on. It wasn't really that demanding being the School Council President but right now she wanted to burn the papers to the ground.

Nonetheless, Sona nodded to her oldest friend. "Yes," she sipped from her coffee, "the body seemed to have pierced by a large trident, and then by brute strength Vizer's body was severed. The bullet casing was probably from some humans that inhabited the place prior to her showing up. Maybe caught them off guard. But back to the bifurcation, it could possibly be a struggle between two strays. That's not uncommon," she rambled on but Rias listened intently.

A struggled between strays? That was never good. There was an incident in a moderately sized city in America where two particularly powerful strays battled openly in the streets mid-day. It took several hundred devils non-stop working with angels to wipe the memories and electronics of all those present. Falbium Asmodeus had silenced the two rampaging devils in a somewhat timely manner but it just proved to push the lethality of powerful strays regarding their destructive capabilities.

"Then what about the smaller cuts along her body? And the sliced off arm? Who could have done that?" Rias pondered for a few moments, putting her hand beneath her chin.

Sona moved some papers to one stack, neatly putting them above the others. "Some stray devils have access to their former bodies, transforming at will," the Sitri heiress pointed out, not looking at the the other heiress in the room.

Rias sighed to herself. Possibly she was just nervous? She always did like to know what was going on in her spaces at any given time so this was an itch that she needed to scratch, and soon. It bothered her that there was some unknown entity operating within her territory.

If this being was powerful enough to kill Vizer outright by itself, could it be reasoned with? Could she recruit them to her peerage?

Rias let loose a breath and moved some hair out from in front of her face. Now she was having asinine thoughts. If this was really a stray devil, then the possibility of reason from a non-stray would be near impossible. She needed a break from this, she needed a break from it all. She then chuckled.

No rest for the wicked she supposed.

"Best to just keep a watch out. I'll keep Kiba, Issei, and Koneko on shifts. Could you do the same?" Rias asked Sona with a friendly smile.

Sona nodded in turn. "I'll ensure my peerage pairs up with yours. Just make sure Issei is with Kiba at all times. I don't want to be responsible for any bruises or the like that appear on him for leering at the wrong people. Nor do I want to hear of it either. You recruited a truly disgusting creature, Rias," Sona berated lightly.

Rias' eyes narrowed slightly. "Issei is a good person. He wouldn't lay a hand on any of your peerage," she retorted with her eyes trained on the Sitri heiress.

Sona sighed and laid down her papers. This sleep deprivation was making her agitated. "I didn't say he would. But Tsubasa, Tsubaki, or Tomoe would push his proverbial shit in he crossed a boundary,"

Rias conceded the point that her fellow heiress made. "I'll ensure he keeps his perverse tendencies in check."

A few moments of pregnant silence followed before a couple of people were heard with raised voices outside of the door to the council room.

"I don't want to do whatever karaoke is, you perverse hobbit," an annoyed, deeper voice was heard before it was followed by a more boyish voice.

"It's singing! I told you what it was! And what the hell is a hobbit, jackass?!" The doors had opened at this point to reveal Talion in his almost out of school regulations uniform and Issei beside him. Saji was with the two of them, seemingly tagging along if only for Talion's sanity.

The two of them didn't share any likeness towards one-another but of all the males within the school he would prefer Saji's presence over anyone else's. It was simply that they could enjoy silence but the hobbit known as Issei Hyodou interrupted that.

Sona blinked at the three and Rias smiled at the group. It was their lunch break but it was preceded by Sona's and Rias' free period which was why the two of them were in the council room.

Sona's eyes gained their regular edge when Talion entered the room. They were always calculating, and she was always thinking of her next three moves. To Rias, it was the Sona she was naturally accustomed to. But when she was tired like this she usually didn't care too much unless it was something important. And with that, Rias' eyes traveled over to Talion who sported an annoyed expression.

That must be the reason behind Sona's willingness to pay attention.

Sona looked up to Talion who stood in front of her desk, trying to tone out Issei who was talking to a bored Saji. "How may I help you, Talion?" she asked him.

The teen in front of her shrugged. "I just wanted to find a place to nap, but it seems this is the wrong one," he grumbled as he made his way for the door only for Rias to gain a teasing smirk.

"Nonsense, Talion! This is the best place. Allow me to offer you a pillow," she grinned and sat on the couch, offering her thighs with a soft pat. Sona seemed annoyed at her friend's ploy but went to her paperwork once more, not particularly caring what went on with the two, even if it was a platonic in nature. But she knew Rias had other plans than simply allowing Talion to sleep on her legs. Even if Sona knew better than to allow her to follow through with it.

Talion eyed Rias for a moment before he let loose a breath. Meanwhile Issei was frothing at the mouth. He gaped at Talion who seemed less than pleased at his King while Issei himself would kill to be in the position he was in currently, a beautiful red-haired bombshell offering the best pillow in existence!

Talion discarded his jacket to lay down on the couch. His taller frame made his feet hang over slightly but he laid his head down on Rias' lap and shuffled for a moment. She had good legs, pillow worthy if anything. He felt his eyes grow heavy and put his right arm over his eyes.

"I'm a pretty heavy sleeper so leave if need be," he mumbled while Rias simply giggled at the Ranger. He was quite complacent at the position if she said so herself.

Saji rolled his eyes and pulled a rabid Issei from the room leaving Sona, Rias, and a now sleeping Talion to their devices. The rest of their peerages were around the campus fulfilling their duties as the student council and other club activities they had.

Rias stared down at Talion's deeply breathing form for a few moments and ran her fingers through his longer hair. Perhaps she could seduce Talion into her peerage? She shook her head lightly. He didn't seem interested in the women around campus and hadn't sent an ogling glance in her direction either. She had heard from Sona that he was actually quite respectful of how he dressed himself in her home as well as ensuring she was dressed all the time.

It seemed he didn't want to be accused of being a pervert unlike Issei.

She also didn't know if she even could benefit from him being in her peerage. He didn't seem special given his in-existent aura. Rias allowed her eyes to roam along him. He was handsome, she had to give it to him. He was a step-up from the boyish looks around the campus and she was sure he'd grow to be an even better-looking man. He seemed built for his age but she knew of the little drinking problem he had.

Her eyes roamed to his jacket to see a bit of silver sticking out from the inside of it. A flask? Talion, for shame, she though with a frown but let it go. There were many devils with bad drinking habits. None of her immediate family was like that but Talion seemed to be functional unlike those she had seen.

Not that, that was a better alternative but he kept it together for the most part.

Sona looked over to her oldest friend looking Talion up and down and frowned. She reached for her coffee but it seemed Rias wasn't doing anything rash just yet. She had expected her to pull out an evil piece sooner or later and Sona would have none of that. Talion was unnatural but not extraordinary. Not that she had seen at least. And she wouldn't have Rias waste a piece on someone who had no business with the supernatural.

Rias kept scanning Talion and let her eyes roam to the ring he kept around his neck and the one he had around his finger. She allowed her senses to sharpen themselves to try to pick up on anything not of the natural order and paused momentarily. Her eyes picked up a soft, pale blue hue from the ring that Talion wore and a more vibrant red, almost orange from the other one.

Last she checked, normal rings weren't supposed to do that.

But the aura they gave off was so faint, so shrouded that she couldn't really tell what kind of sacred gear it was, even if it was a sacred gear at all.

Her brother's words from once upon a time echoed within her mind.

"I really like Koneko, onii-sama, but I don't know why you're so adamant on her being in my peerage. She doesn't have much magic."

"You're right, she doesn't have much magic potential. But remember, there are many more types of energy, ones that you aren't accustomed to. Ones that you will have to seek with your senses."

Rias was looking at her peerage objectively. While she had saved most of them, yes, she had done so with the intention of bettering her standing as well. They knew this. They each had something to offer her in more ways than friendship. It was a hard thing to grasp, but they each knew it and accepted it with the terms of their new lives.

...Maybe he doesn't have magic, but something else? She thought, opening her senses to anything, anything unnatural about the man before her.

She closed her eyes, remembering the feel of chakra, the feel of ki, the feel of draconic energies, or the general auras of sacred gears.

Nothing so far, something else maybe? Anything. He's too special...there it is! Wait, what is that energy?! Why is it reaching for me!

Rias jumped from her seat, waking Talion in the process as he almost fell from the couch. He stood quickly, scanning the room, only finding a wide-eyed Sona and Rias slowly backing away from him, fear evident on her face. Sona stood from her seat and looked at Talion who looked angry and reached for something in his jacket only for him to stop. She looked to see a terrified Rias. Something she hadn't seen before.

"You..! You're not, you're not, that's impossible! You, you should be...!" she stammered as she made for the door in a hurry, trying to get away from Talion as she pulled the door open with unrestricted strength. The oak door groaned as it slammed against the wall, allowing the frightened Gremory to pass through it, almost running towards the rest of her peerage.

Talion blinked at her and looked towards Sona who was wide-awake now. "What was that, Talion? I've never seen her like that before. Did you harass her?" she growled only for Talion to turn to her and adopt a frown.

"I was asleep, Sona. How could I? You saw my hands therefore I didn't touch her," he retorted, abating Sona's anger.

Sona continued to frown and went to close the door. Talion meanwhile reached for his coat and slid it on slowly. "Then what could have happened Talion? She seemed genuinely scared," Sona reiterated, trying to care for her friend.

Talion glanced down at his ring. He was aware of what had happened and it wasn't new. It happened whenever someone actively searched for the deathly energy that surrounded him. It, his soul, reached out to the living being sensing for him. It held a certain range and would have effected Sirzechs when he sensed for it, but the man was too powerful for him to be perturbed by the energy Talion emanated.

It was the equivalent of the antithesis of life, his energy, which seemed to be semi-sentient itself. And those that couldn't stave off the effects were brought a sense of doom and fear. It was an odd ability that was reinforced by Isildur's ring, seeing as how he had been dead for centuries. He was lucky she hadn't extended her senses further lest the One Ring begin to whisper to her.

But Sona didn't need to know that. The girl had too much going on for her to try to dissect him with her mind. Nor did he want her or anyone to worry for him. He was doing fine with his status as a wraith.

"I don't know. Maybe she dozed off and had a nightmare? How should I know, anyways? I was still very much asleep," Talion told the younger Sitri while stretching lightly.

Sona didn't like the answer that Talion gave, but how else could he elicit a reaction like that from a Devil if he, himself was just human?

Just human...

Sona but back the question she wanted to ask just as Talion began to walk to the door.

There was no way. No way that he was simply human. How could her sister just pluck him into her life? How could she just put one, seemingly random human into Sona's own life, with the only explanation that Serafall was simply interested in him.

How could a Maou of the Underworld just be able to walk around the world freely to just find a seemingly random human and take him from that location to another without the need to escort him, get to know him, provide a good enough reason for one in almost eight billion souls to live with her sister for no good reason.

Unless said soul fell right into her lap.

The gears within her sleep deprived mind gave way to clarity she usually was too cognizant to be able to hold onto to process.

He appeared within the Underworld, and met her, Sirzechs as well seeing as how he was able to get into the school. That also explains the familiarity. Serafall isn't stupid, she knew what she was doing. Whatever Talion is, a monster or other species of some sort, Serafall grew interested in him. She was the reason he wasn't against coming to the human world. There's no way he's human, so what exactly is he?

Against the better judgment that she had, Sona took a leap.

"Talion..."

The ranger paused mid-step and stopped within the doorway.

"Yes, Sona?" he asked her with a tired voice. Too tired.

She inhaled and leveled her eyes on the back of his head. She had to ask. She had to.

"What are you?"

Talion let a second pass him before he looked over his shoulder to meet her gaze.

"Dead."

He then turned and walked out of the room leaving more questions than what was answered.

Rias fumbled with her phone, trying to find the one that allowed for her to call to the underworld. She was breathing heavily and she was sitting in her bed in the Occult Research Club. No one else was present, and she thought that was best.

Whatever had happened with Talion was scary to her. She had interacted with other's energies before, but nothing that reacted with such hostile force while they were asleep no less.

It was as if the energy Talion possessed was alive somehow. Somehow it was able to interact with her while he wasn't actively influencing it. She let loose a calming breath. That was humiliating. She had seen her brother when he was semi-serious and the killing intent he let loose was awe-inspiring and didn't show quarter for anyone on the other end of it.

But Talion's energy didn't let Rias have any time for her to feel anything other than fear. It was her first instinct, the instinct to distance herself from the energy that brought the fear.

She calmed down slightly and dialed her brother's number. Talion had been in her and Sona's lives for far too long with little questions asked. And if what Serafall had told Sona, then at least Serafall was close to the supposed human.

It was agitating really. Not knowing all that she needed to know.

Maybe this was a test from her brother? Maybe he was letting this be 'one of life's great mysteries?'

It would have been a good lesson to figure out if someone was supernaturally aware without outright asking them, or letting them 'stumble' upon it themselves.

"Hello? Rias-tan, is that you?"

"Yes, Onii-sama," she replied. She smiled slightly. Rias was starting to miss her brother and it was shame this is what it took to call him. Perhaps she would call more often?

"Oh, Rias-tan! How I missed you! How've you been? Have you been eating well? Maybe you finally called to get boy advice? Maybe girl advice? Oh, what about-?"

Rias pursed her lips made a deadpan face. This was why she didn't call.

"Onii-sama, I've been okay, yes I've been eating well, no to both of those, but I have a question," she answered in order. She was still respectful to her brother, one of the rulers of Hell, also because he was her brother.

Sirzechs seemed to lose some of his momentum as Rias didn't seem bothered by his pestering. That usually meant something was on her mind. Was it the Riser engagement? That usually brought her spirits down. Though Sirzechs had his plans, like always. He wouldn't leave his sister to be with someone she didn't wish to be with.

"...Is Riser on your mind again?" he asked her gently, trying to probe an answer from him. She usually confided in him. Sometimes it was more than Akeno regarding certain subjects, but Rias' queen was her main confidant.

Rias closed her eyes and sighed. Being reminded of that looming threat to her chastity and love life made her worry often, but that wasn't the case right now. She needed answers for another case.

"No, Onii-sama, it's something else," she responded after a moment, gathering her thoughts.

Color Sirzechs surprised when she told him that. In his office he crossed his legs and leaned back in his chair. Beside him was a multitude of papers that had to be filled out but they could wait for a few minutes, perhaps hours if his sister was troubled.

"What is it?" he asked her, genuinely curious about what was going through her mind.

Rias inhaled deeply. "How do you know Talion?" She asked without missing a beat.

Sirzechs blinked a few times before he chuckled. "I gave him a scholarship to Kuoh. He seemed interesting enough," he responded evenly. "I'm actually surprised it took you almost six months to ask that question, Rias. Someone of interest comes to you without any warning and you don't ask one of the people who probably know the most about him," he said with a smile.

Rias couldn't see the grin her brother probably sported but she felt the smugness. "I wouldn't want to bother you, Onii-sama. I tried to figure it out myself for these last months, but he didn't event produce an energy source for me to gauge...until today when I delved a little deeper."

Sirzechs let the information roll through him before his eyes widened. "...It happened to you, too, huh?" he said quietly.

Now that made Rias worry. Sirzechs never sounded so full of trepidation. "What do you mean by 'too', Onii-sama?" she asked him hurriedly.

"The energy he emanates is difficult to explain. It's similar to what a Reaper produces, but much more volatile. I can't really tell you much more because that's something he has to explain. But what I can tell you is that he is a contradiction in the fact that he exists. It's astonishing really. And I haven't seen something like it before," Sirzechs explained to her. "And trust me when I say he is never alone."

Rias was quiet when her brother explained the details of Talion. What did that last part mean? Why was Talion never alone?

"Also...Rias...please be gentle with Talion," Sirzechs added quietly. That was new to Rias and she grew slightly angry.

Why was this person she barely knew eliciting such emotions from her family? Her most valued people? What made him so special?!

She let loose a calming breath. "What do you mean, Onii-sama? Why is he never alone? Why be...'gentle' with him? That doesn't sound very much like you," she asked and elaborated. Rias was clawing for answers now and grew frustrated with the elusiveness. Why wouldn't he give her a straight answer?

Sirzechs laughed over the phone. He could hear that she was getting irritated. It was alright, though. Who would she develop into if her big brother gave her all the answers all the time?

"Those things you can ask Talion for, Rias-tan. He's very damaged. It would honestly be a great favor to Serafall and me if you helped him recover what it means to be alive," Sirzechs let loose a mirthless chuckle at that which Rias didn't understand.

Rias sighed to herself. The ambiguity of all the statements that was being thrown her way today was getting on her nerves. It was troublesome, but she had figured it was time for her brother to stop babying her in this way. Not all answers would be given to her.

...And if she wanted to get an answer from someone in question, who best than the person themselves?

"I'll try to discover what that means, Onii-sama, thank you. I'll let you go now."

After the short goodbye from Sirzechs Rias placed her phone down and sat at her desk with a distinct plop. She sighed and placed her hands in front of her. She blinked a few times before she sat back and closed her sea-foam green eyes.

"I think it's time to stop beating around the bush. Sona is pulling her hair out trying to figure anything out about Talion so I think it's time to nip it in the bud. Lay everything out and hope he does the same," she spoke to herself.

It was an event she did often to organize her thoughts aloud. It was alright if you didn't answer yourself, right?

...Right?

She placed her hand to her ear and a small rune was given life in a crimson glow. "Akeno, I need the members to the club as soon as possible. Bring Talion. It's time."

Talion moved his shoulder to miss checking another student in theirs as he moved through the crowd of teens going to their respective classes.

The ranger had a lazy step in his walk. His hands were in his pockets and his eyes were half-shut. I think I need to hibernate for a century or so, he pondered as his eyes felt more heavy than usual.

He sighed. It wasn't that he was tired, it was this teenage drama. If you scared someone in Mordor it usually ended in a sword-fight. Here you had to apologize, show face, and a menagerie of other things to make sure there was no bad blood.

He hadn't intended to scare Rias like he did, it was simply that she delved too deep. Much like Sirzechs had. And he had paid the price.

Talion pulled his hands from his pockets and clenched his left fist, the one that held the ring. There was still much to learn of his condition. Some things were amplified and he was sure it was due to his absorbing some of the One-Ring's essence.

Every so often visions assaulted him of Sauron...before he was Sauron. When he invaded the garden and let the All-Consuming spider in. When he fell from his grace and tried to amplify his power.

If there was one thing that Talion was afraid of, it was the ring around his neck. The thing that began all the malice and hate that brewed within Middle-Earth.

He knew why he carried it. It was so no-one else would succumb to the temptations of the power surrounding the One-Ring. He had grown accustomed, too accustomed, to the whispers within his mind. And now that Sauron was a dimension away, they had lessened.

Perhaps the ring was safe to wear...?

He shook his head violently. No. That was what Sauron would want. He hadn't given the Dark Lord his wants for decades and he certainly wouldn't now.

Talion paused as a tainted soul entered his reduced sensory range, the range when he wasn't actively looking. He looked down the hall to see Koneko, the 'school mascot' staring at him with her blank eyes like she usually did. Though this time it held thinly-veiled trepidation.

He continued towards her and was about to pass before a vice-grip was put around his wrist. He fought the urge to bring a glaive upon her before he looked down at her. She looked almost sick?

Koneko shivered at the feeling he gave off. His temperature was cool, too cool to be a normal body. She felt a pulse, though it was faint. Only beating every few seconds.

She let go of him and stepped a couple steps back, ensuring there was space between them.

"Buchou desires your presence," she stated succinctly, looking at him with large, open eyes.

He looked back and sighed. The Ranger ran a hand through his hair and nodded. "Lead the way then, little one."

"Not little. You're just big," she retorted with a soft glare.

He rose a brow at her and didn't reply. "Get on with it," he groaned at her and she allowed her glare to intensify for only a moment before turning around.

The Wraith blinked a few times and he felt himself regress into himself. His emotions dulled and his breathing deepened. Talion grit his teeth and the bones in his hands groaned in protest at the strength he was exerting.

No, no...now isn't the time. I did everything right, why, why now? I didn't do anything. I'm just existing now. Why did it have to come now?

Talion's frown released itself and an ocean of emptiness swept over him. He felt the rhythm of his chest rise and fall and he knew then that he wasn't in the mood for talking.

But I need to apologize, don't I? Why am I here again? I just want to be alone, he thought to himself as his emotions were devoured one by one like this world's Kronos to his children before only one remained for the time being.

I just want to be alone...

….

Rias sat at her desk with her fingers intertwined. She leaned back and played with her hand idly before leaning forward and sighing to herself.

Akeno, who stood beside Rias, looked at her with a rose eyebrow. This was a random meeting for Talion of all people. While Akeno had assumptions, as she was a smart girl, it was slightly perturbing that Rias had proverbially jumped off the deep end. The end result of her telling Talion of them was at least a month away and to be pushed forward this much almost made Akeno ask Rias what she was thinking.

Akeno wasn't like Rias. Rias needed a strong peerage but she let her emotions cloud her judgment. Kiba, herself, and Koneko had a lot of latent potential, but they had their own demons holding them back. Akeno had her reservations on Issei, but she would hold her harsher shrewdness until he unlocked his sacred gear.

Issei walked in with Kiba in tow. "What's this all about?" he asked, looking at the Knight.

Kiba didn't say anything in response, only pointing towards the couch opposite from the one he had sat on himself. "A possible recruitment," he replied after a moment. It still irked him that he knew nothing about Talion. He used the girls of the school as his gossip information, as they held some truth in them. But Talion was a clean slate. He had bad grades but he improved gradually, and he lived with Sona but he had already heard that from Rias.

Rias looked at Kiba and sighed. Issei looked as clueless as ever. It mattered little. She didn't need him to be smart to play a part.

Rias pursed her lips as Koneko entered the room with Talion following closely. He looked…detached at the moment, not all there but Rias brushed over that. She'd ask later.

"Talion, thank you for joining us. I know you're busy with Sona, but I have to ask you something," Rias elaborated shortly. She needed to know what Talion was and if he'd be willing to join her. The engagement date was being pushed up and was doing nothing for her in terms of state of mind. She was constantly stressed and she couldn't help but push for an extra edge.

Talion blinked at her with tired eyes. He relaxed his body posture and put his hands in his pockets. He let loose a shaky breath and steadied his mind. What did she want, why was he here? He knew this had something to do with what had happened earlier in the day but the only conclusions he could deduce was the she wanted to recruit him or eliminate him.

He didn't care, not right now. Talion wanted to be alone right now and it wasn't like death would stop him. His eyes scanned the room out of habit. Koneko was right beside him, likely to assault him at close range. Kiba was on a couch to his right likely to capitalize off of Koneko providing an opening. Issei was on the opposite couch to assist Kiba. Rias and Akeno were the furthest away to blast him from range. It was a classic setup but he just…couldn't care.

Talion let loose a shaky breath, not trusting his voice. He steeled himself as best he could. "Rias…I apologize for earlier. I didn't have the intention of scaring you," he said with a quiet voice.

Issei jumped up and adopted an aggressive stance. "What!? What'd you do to buchou?!" he yelled a Talion who blinked slowly.

Rias was about to speak before Talion cut her off. "Calm yourself, child. What happened was slightly her fault," he said, as if he were an old man with a voice that matched.

Issei bristled before Rias decided to cut in. "Issei, what he says was true. It was my fault. And Talion, thank you, I appreciate the apology, but it's not necessary. I brought it upon myself for digging too deep," she chuckled and Talion managed to crane a strained smirk upward.

"It happens," he said succinctly. He felt his disdain for being around others growing and he simply wanted to walk out but it wouldn't do anything for him. He swallowed what he was feeling, or at least tried to.

"I'll be blunt, Talion. I want to know what you are. You have no signature about you, you're like a black abyss when I try to sense you out, and it's off-putting really."

"Like he's dead," Koneko put her two cents in.

Kiba looked over to Issei who was looking like he had question mark on his head. He was really clueless to what was going on but it was understandable.

They had talks about Talion semi-frequently, long before Issei was reincarnated three weeks ago. But to him, Rias was putting too much forward and it bothered him that she didn't know if she'd even be getting anything out of this.

Akeno, unknowingly, was feeling similar. Rias looked like she had all her cards being shown and Akeno didn't like it all.

Talion signed and ran a hand through his hair. What was with people and his business lately? First Sona, which was understandable with how they lived together. But now she was calling him outright, and now Rias and her little posse were now essentially ganging up on him.

The Ranger ended up putting his left hand in his pocket and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. Damn thing was uncomfortable.

"You're sensing me, Rias? How forward," he said blandly. Issei bristled and the subtle flirt but it was really just to get the attention off him for the moment.

Rias shook her head at the slight jab. "Yes, I'm reaching out and feeling for you. Is that what you wanted me to say?" she shot back.

Talion's eyebrows rose and his smirk grew lightly. She had a little fire in her. "Be as it may, do you think I could not be human?" he asked in turn.

Rias tapped her desk with her fingers. It looks like he knew they weren't human themselves. Usually the 'sensing' of something would raise questions as most humans couldn't do that. So she knew that he knew what 'sensing' something was. He wasn't playing dumb which she initially thought he would. That was good, it'd only hinder progress.

"You put off interesting energy earlier. Something akin to what a reaper emanates from the deep underworld. I don't really know how it works, but that's the information I had," she explained and the more experienced peerage members were looking at Talion in question. That would explain the feeling of nothingness from him but Rias was being too open.

Talion's posture didn't change. "Go sit over there, halfling. I don't want a sucker-punch if I decided to run," he said, losing his smirk. The Ranger was losing patience. Fast. Koneko bristled but looked at Akeno who nodded.

"What's the point of this, Rias? What do you want from me? Offer me a place in your peerage like your brother and the Leviathan?" he asked with a raised brow.

Rias as well as her peerage were all shocked at the statement. Rias stuttered as she tried to formulate a response, but her brother and Serafall both offered placements into their peerages? And he must have refused or he wouldn't be here. Issei was lost in that. Was Rias special or something?

"I," Rias paused, trying to find words, "Yes, I, I was. I'm trying to build my own peerage and I feel like you'd be a good fit into it," she said. Talion was many steps of the game Rias thought she had been the master of. He knew they were devils, he had connections to the Maou of the Underworld. What else was he aware of? Her engagement?

"You couldn't accommodate us. Sirzechs doesn't have the piece required. The only piece I know that can, is Serafall's weird Queen," Talion muttered. Akeno, Kiba, Koneko, and Issei picked up on it and their questions multiplied but this was Rias' conversation.

Rias' gaping mouth opened more. It would take a mutated Queen from a Satan to reincarnate this man?!

She cursed herself. He had seen right through her easily. "But wait, what did you mean by us?" she asked, looking up at him. "And what are you? You aren't human. Not completely. There's no way..." she said, putting her hands on her head.

"The same thing I told Sona. Dead," he said, reaching for the door behind him and leaving the way he came. He left many questions unanswered and he didn't care.

He just wanted to be alone.

….

Talion's got some issues, hmm?

Anyways, thanks for the continued support. I'm going to bed, and have a nice day.

Bismark, Alterprise, not ignoring you, just got from deployment. Busy all the time right now.

Review!

Peace!