Pure…innocent…untainted…moral…righteous…

All the words I was not. Stripped of an identity, I was known as the devil's spawn. The delicate demon. The scheming savage. I was a menace to society, an abomination. I was worthless…and it hurt…ached my corpse to the bone.

I was alone…perhaps it was destiny. Ha! Destiny…what a flawed notion! I could tell the statement didn't reach my eyes as I felt a part of my shattered soul cling to the idea of a truth far greater than testimony and conformity.

I was to be socially isolated…for eternity. That was their wish, and their wish was law.

A tear escaped my narrow eyelids and trailed down my grazed, pallid face. Blood slowly seeped from the gash on my right leg. My battered body, an eternal price for my existence. The jagged, faded scars violating my back became partly covered by recent indications of punishment and retribution.

My bright, cobalt eyes an alarming contrast to the hollow emotions within them. When daring to look closer one may even say I look like a living corpse! A lifeless shell of a former self, like I wasn't even real to begin with. I was just a vessel of an ancient someone…am I even worth the status of 'someone'…'that person'? I…I think not. I never was…never will be. I'm just a thing, an object of no importance.

The wind blew heavily around my small figure, sending my ashen hair thrashing in response. The flowers in my hand were cradled close to my chest as my arms protected their weak forms from the harsh winds.

Tulips. Beautifully white, apparently innocent tulips. Pure petals intricately woven to hide their true nature captured my interest. Like cunning predators, these symbols of death were genuine manipulators through and through. Scent and sight, the ace cards of trickery for this bouquet of deception.

My worn shoes halted as I reached my destination. The atmosphere turned malevolent and tense. I let out a whimper as quite abruptly the rusted, coal gates creak and the wind howled on mercilessly. Clutching the flowers tighter I forced my shaking limbs to enter the deserted location. The bare trees shook whilst being subjected to continuous gusts of wind. The ripped fabric covering my scrawny body fluttered as the menacing whirlwinds surrounded me, enclosing me in their distorted grip. Fear shook my frame and, as I couldn't take this threatening pressure hold anymore, I ran shakily along the moss-covered path towards the sole piece of mouldy stone that held the last fragments of evidence my guardian even came to be. I let out a thankful sight once I finally stopped before the raised mountain of dirt. Quietly I made my way over to the carved stone. Placing the faultless flowers against the battered rock I forced myself to stifle the urge to cry.

"M-Mana" I whispered solemnly.

A high, hysterical laughter abruptly surrounded the air.

My body stood stock still…useless as I became paralysed with panic. My widened sapphire orbs stared with distress at the cracked ground below. A huge, rounded shadow had engulfed my own. As my knees buckled a pair of coated arms retrieved me and pulled me backwards. Whimpering for the second time that fateful night, my back came into contact with a large chest. My survival instincts kicked in and I futilely tried to resist this dangerous figure's hold. Their grip tightened and I felt my panic reach maximum. I thrashed, biting and kicking what I could. My mouth was permanently set in screaming mode. I wished with all my might that someone would help me…Who would help a monster like me? I thought with anguish.

"Mmph!" My screaming muffled as soon as a gloved hand wrapped around my mouth, successfully muting my warning vocals.

"Now, now, young boy! Is that any way to greet somebody? We wouldn't want you to get into any trouble now would we?" The creature spoke quietly as his arms squeezed my frame warningly.

It's voice. Sickly, sweet syrup. It made my shiver in pure fright. Its voice was like sticky syrup. Like malice coated in sweetness. Like a devil in human skin. On the outside they appear kind but when revealing their true face, true nature, true intentions…they were evil, sadistic monsters who had tainted their souls with sin until it turned black.

The warm breath sent goosebumps travelling up my neck. I shuddered as its face came into contact with the side of my head, so much so, that I was able to see the menacing complexion from the corner of my eyes. A huge maniacal grin seemed etched into the yellowish face, the pointy ears fascinated me, yet any positive thoughts ignited as I finally took note of its bright, gleaming eyes. My breath caught in my throat. Those orbs that held so many misdeeds scared me. More than words could describe. I was helpless in the clutches of Satan himself. If only those righteous townsfolk could see us now. The devil and his spawn, they would surely assume. But this man…no…this thing wasn't anything like me, was it? Surely there remained an ounce of morality left in my shaking bones.

"Such a sweet young boy you are! Tell me child, why do you come here all alone at this hour?" The monster asked.

My voice faltered as those long minutes of screaming finally caught up with me. Its gloved hand freed my mouth and I let out a series of painful coughs. A hand patted my back, quickening my recovery. Panting, I finally managed to regain my breath. Realising I had stalled for enough time, I slowly turned my head to fully face the smiling nightmare reincarnate.

"I-I just came to see M-Mana" I stuttered nervously.

As soon as those words left my lips I regretted them instantly. My eyes widened in horror watching its grin widen impossibly further. The head began to move closer to my own. Instinctively I attempted to lower my own head, though clearly the monster disagreed with my movements and so with its right hand, reached out to grip my chin and lift my face. I started to resist the hold and move backward however yet again my actions were cut short as its grip tightened. I let out a choked sob as the monster's left finger trailed down my tearful face.

"Sshh now my sweet little boy. I understand the pain of losing a loved one. Now, young boy, how would you like to see your dear Mana again?"

This…strange man…could he really bring Mana back? My eyes glistened with long lost hope at the thought of seeing he gentle, friendly clown once more.

"Y-you really mean it…erm...Mister? Can you really bring Mana back?" I spoke cautiously.

A quiet chuckle was his only response.

I gasped as I felt cold air upon my face. The startled blue eyes I didn't know closed, suddenly flew open.

"A-ah!" I cried.

The stranger's face was mere inches from my own. His right index finger, currently under my chin, seemed to be the cause of my head's sudden change in position. I was snapped out of my musings once my eyes caught sight of the man's left gloved hand inching towards my face. Stunned I tried to move away, only to hesitate at the man's next words.

"Don't be afraid of me, Allen Walker. I promise I won't hurt you." He soothingly stated. "You poor, sweet child. How those monsters have mistreated you." As he said this his left hand gently stroked the numerous bruises and cuts covering my face whilst he leaned to lovingly kiss my forehead. "…I can help you child. Tell me, what is it you wish for?"

Hiccupping I stared into his eyes. All of a sudden my childish tendency of trusting strangers took over me as I foolishly launched myself into his arms. My hands desperately clutched his coat. I cried into his chest and called out, all the while his arms wound around my waist.

"Mana! I want Mana!"

I didn't notice it then but as soon as the last syllable left my lips, the feeling of inescapable fate loomed over our very beings. All previous exits had been eternally sealed. My stomach tightened as malformed black chains appeared, wrapped perfectly around my limbs, keeping my body hoisted and fresh. My horror struck face was momentarily covered by cool metal. All evidence of my morality, my sanity disappeared. That fragile glimpse of hope has set alight all my other emotions…all my love for that clown. He was too kind…too trusting. He was dead proof that too much kindness was as fatal as too little. An imbalance of priorities was his last performance. There would be no encore. Tears flowed freely as these emotions proved to powerful and unstable for my young heart. I shook and wondered why this was happening. If there is a God out there, does he really hate me that much? Is he so disgusted at this abomination that he wanted me dead? At that time, I didn't know where people went once they died. Did they just disappear one day? Or maybe they went up into the sky to become a bright light in the sky! How I would love to be a star in the sky shining down on everyone. I would finally be something considered beautiful…something accepted.

I flinched as a loud booming sound of something being locked ricocheted off the few tombstones in our area. The chains tightened for a moment then faded. My juvenile body fell forward onto the man's chest. This time, however, his hands held onto my shoulders, steadying me. Although I looked relatively sane on the outside, except for the occasional cry and shudder, my mind was in chaos. I was only a young child after all. One that had never gotten any comfort other than from the deceased clown. Now all of a sudden, this strange, animalistic man was consoling me. Or was he really like the rest of them? Did he hate me too? Despair flooded my soul whilst my body caught up with my distressed thoughts. I couldn't-I couldn't handle being alone again! Grasping the man's hands on my shoulder I said...

"Please, please don't go! I-I don't know what is happening and I don't want to be alone. Please…"

I found I didn't care who or what the man was. The only thing I wanted was affection. The animals, I found, never stayed long. Their unpredictable attitude made me feel cautious around them, it was never comfortable. My frantic cries halted as a dark, inky mist began to pass by me, intrigued I peeked my head around the man's chest. The mist was twirling violently, then as soon as my eyes widened, expecting a huge explosion, the mist disappeared, a few strands sinking back into the cold, hard earth.

"W-what is that?" I hesitantly whispered, looking back at the man for silent assurance, before returning to gaze at the tall oddity after receiving a small smile of encouragement.

Right there, a few metres away, stood a tall, black, structure. Held in the middle was a strange skeleton and on its head was a star. Too lost in curiosity I didn't realise the mad had turned himself around, bringing me along with him. His hands remained on my shoulders but now I was stood directly in front of the device, the man behind me spoke softly in my ear.

"This is Mana, my little Allen. I have heard your cries for comfort and have come to grant you your wish!"

It was too much. My heart and soul had suffered greatly. I felt like I just couldn't take anymore. Ignorance can only go so far before the blissfulness dims, leaving empty confusion in its wake. I wanted to understand. I wanted to know what this man wanted. I wanted Mana. The emotional strain had taken its toll on my smaller, much younger body. After that night I spent years foolishly trying to deny what had happened, to deny what I had done. I hope my naivety has lessened over the years. Blindly I continue to hope that if the same situation arose today instead of those years ago, I wouldn't fall for the same trap…the same monster. The same Mana. My hands balled into fists as I glanced around my room.

"T-That is…Mana?" I asked.

The man's happiness could not be deterred as his grin widened while he said "Yes, yes dear boy!" As he talked, his body moved closer to my side and his mouth whispered in my ear, "I'll let you in on a little secret, little Allen. If you call out with all your heart to Mana, he will come to you. Do you think you could do that, Allen?"

My startled eyes turned to meet his.

"Promise?"

"I promise you, dear boy"

For the first time since the clown died, I smiled truthfully.

"Mana! Oh Mana! I love you! Please come back to me! I don't want to be alone anymore! Mana!"

I shouted as loud as I could at the towering black form. An inaudible creak. A twitch. A clench. A twist. A shake. A c-cry.

This isn't right, I thought to myself. Mana sounded angry…the man had abandoned my side for Manas.

"That's right my sweet Akuma! Kill the boy and wear his skin!" It purred.

I whimpered and stumbled back.

"M-Mana…no…MANA!"

It wouldn't stop. I refused to believe it was Mana though I called it by his name. Quickly it was upon me. A bright light, my left arm moving on its own…the sound of a swipe…blood splatters…a cry…a terrible pain in my left eye.

"I'm sorry…I'm so sorry Mana"

That day, no matter how many times I recall it…abruptly it ends in that instant. I do not know who found me or where they took me. That devil reincarnate fooled me…the young, naïve me. Shame floods through me at having turned my only family member into an Akuma.

Sighing, I stood up. My eyes came to look upon my left arm…the arm that determined my destiny…to live for the Akuma. And my right, for the humans. My hands absently play with the cards given to me by a certain Noah. Frowning I turn and, releasing the cards to cascade slowly behind me, carried on walking.

Never stopping until my last breath. That was what I promised Mana after all.