Twist of Fate
Disclaimer: I do not own a certain magical index, its character or its elements
Chapter 70: Rebirth
Some men finally arrived to repair all the holes in the walls, and by that, replacing the walls. A crane was working on removing the Black Crow Unit from where it got stuck. So they were going to focus on that for most of the day.
"Such misfortune," Marie mumbled as she and the other witches and magicians tried to work.
They still had some people trapped in their bodies.
It was almost unbelievable that even with all the noise, the three people didn't stir.
Index was still trying to figure out the situation, trying to find a spell or something that could explain or help heal it. The book that seemed to result in this seemed to have vanished from her mind. It was an uneasy feeling for her; she wondered if she had ever read it at all. Maybe it was for the best, considering everything that had happened.
That still left three people, Vento, Sherry, and the Dorm mother Asami, in this state.
Ureapaddy sighed, "Nothing is working."
Leep added a bit uncomfortably, "We've asked the goddess, and she's useless." Leep wasn't sure Nephthys could have done anyway, she seemed pretty out of it.
Cendrillon raised her hand to her chin, "And Touma's hand doesn't seem to work," she pondered to herself if a kiss from prince charming would work but decided not to air that thought.
Itsuwa flipped through pages of her notebook, "I've tried most of the healing spells I know, and nothing has worked."
"I don't think we can talk to the magicians behind this." Jane Elves pointed out.
Mallybath only added, "She betrayed Heka for a man who was killing people, to turn them into guns. I'm not sure we could trust her."
"Maybe if we could see what they are dreaming?" Sozty suggested.
Esther wondered, "Is that safe? For them or us? If it was the curse that did this, then we could infect ourselves."
"Maybe there is another way to do this," Ureapaddy had an idea, "maybe Nunotaba can help. If it is a problem in mind, maybe her machines could find something we've missed."
As a member of the magic side, none were too eager to try and add science to this situation, but they didn't have much in the way of ideas.
They could only hope that where ever Touma was, he was sleeping better than these women were.
Touma could only think one thing: Such Misfortune.
He was in bed with three beautiful women, who were clinging to him.
The word irony comes to mind.
After dinner with his parents, they went back to the hotel room. He noticed something about Oriana, but when he asked her about it, she only told him she was tired. He wanted to ask more about it, but Kara and Mugino got in the way.
Bother arguing about not wanting to take the sofa.
Touma volunteered to take it, but both Oriana and Kara said he should take it.
Kara said she couldn't take the couch because she was so tall. Mugino simply said she wouldn't take the sofa.
So this is how they arrived in that position. Touma was in bed with three women.
Kara was nestled on Touma's left side; somehow, she had wrapped Touma's arm and waist and nestled between her legs. Touma had tried to remove it, but she was holding to it firmly. Kara was wearing this silvery lingerie that hid little to the imagination.
Mugino was on his right side; she turned away from him. But since there was so little room on the bed, she was pressed right next to him, and Touma hated how hew knew how shapely her rear end was. If Mugino ever found out, he knew he was sure she'd kill him. She was wearing one of his shirts and just that since she didn't pack for the trip, she didn't have much in the way of clothes.
Touma could see the allure that guys had for when the girl wore their clothes.
Finally, Oriana slept on top of him. She rested calmly on his chest, and she wore a simple and elegant golden nightie as smooth as silk. She was causing him the most problems.
Touma was struggling with all his will power, not to…. Not to get up.
Besides that, something still seemed off about Oriana. She didn't look like she was resting peacefully; she'd move every once a while.
Touma tried to move his right and finally pulled away enough to try to caress her. He hoped she would talk to him in the morning.
Mugino turned in her sleep, and suddenly Touma knew too much about her breasts.
He was sure he was going to die.
Shinobu had managed to borrow some equipment from the hospital. It was too dangerous for the espers to go into their minds, too much potential of infecting their minds. But machines could just be fixed.
The three affected women were in separate beds as she put helmets on them.
Shinobu sighed, "It's going to take me some time to get to work, and I can't say how well this will work. I doubt I will be able to alter or add anything to their minds." She looked at the readings she was getting, "Their brain patterns are bizarre. I'll be surprised if we can get much. But maybe we can get a clue to what is happening to them."
The magicians stood nearby, hoping for some good news.
In the other room, Princess Carissa was talking on the phone to her mother. She had been trying to call home, but there had been several issues, namely timezones and getting through. Also, it wasn't like a typical number could call the Queen of England without jumping hoops.
Finally, the call went through, and after a lengthy explanation, they spoke.
"Carissa, I think you should stay there."
"What?" Carissa yelled.
"It would be rather difficult retrieving you from all the way the other side of the world."
"You didn't have any issues when I went to fight France."
"That was different, you are supposed to be under house arrest, and we let you out for war. This event is not something we could reveal to the public. Monsters from parts unknown that had the world in their grip, and we don't know how they were defeated."
"That is true, but why do I have to stay here? We can sneak me in."
"Yes, but I think it might be better for you. You'd be trapped in the palace. Instead, you'd be able to travel and go outside. Plus, that boy, Touma Kamijou, would be a good influence on you."
"He's not even here; he went on a trip."
"Well, he'll come back later. I must go."
Carissa just looked at the phone, unsure if she could believe what just happened. She did her best to stifle a curse. She failed.
Touma managed to avoid death when everyone woke up. Oriana almost immediately said they had to go to the beach. Kara and Mugino did eventually stopped her long enough so they could get breakfast. And it gave Touma a chance to take a long and much needed cold shower.
After that, they started toward the beach, though they might have just understood what she meant.
Kara was dressed in the white bikini they met her in. Touma was wearing a pair of trunks and a hoodie. Mugino stopped and bought a dark purple swimsuit with a fashionable skirt.
Oriana was dressed in her regular clothes. Touma wasn't sure if he was disappointed or not.
"We're not going swimming." Oriana told them, "If you want to stay behind, I just need Touma for this so…"
"I'm not leaving you two alone together." Mugino told her, "I came halfway around the world. Just stay out of it. I'm going to figure out that hand if it kills me."
Touma tried to explain, "My hand cancels out the supernatural, that's it. I've had it my whole life."
"Yeah, right. Even if I were to believe that you're a gemstone, your power doesn't make any sense. If it were the AIM Diffusion field, then it would collapse on itself as it canceled itself. I'm not accepting any bullshit you've told me about crystallization of the dreams of magicians or that crap about gods."
Kara didn't say anything after that; neither did Touma or Oriana there was just no right thing to say after that.
They followed Oriana towards the edge of the beach well past where the other beachgoers were.
They found a group of surveyors getting ready to tear down a small jungle area near a rocky hill range.
One of the workers came over to stop them, but Oriana didn't bother to talk; she just pulled out one of the note cars. She let the sheet of paper fall out, and winds whirled around them. Suddenly all the works stopped and started to walk away.
"Just a small spell, a little nudge telling them to go take a nice long break. They should be out of hair for a while." Oriana explained.
"Sure," Mugino explained, " what was it? Some high tuned sounds, preprogrammed to insert suggestions into people subconscious but directed like what Mental Out does."
Kara looked on, "Okay, so I get you don't believe in magic, but how? Like last week the entire city was covered with demons and monsters?"
"We were hit by hallucinatory gasses. Most people couldn't agree with what they saw."
Oriana just walked along, Touma followed closed behind Oriana seemed quieter and less energetic than usual.
She glanced up at the sky at the sun, "There's supposed to be an Eclipse today,"
"Right," Kara spoke up, "I read about it on the way here."
Oriana pulled out another one of her spells, and winds quickly cut a path for them through the jungle.
"I bet you're going to say something about eclipses being magical," Mugino spoke up annoyed already.
"It's what they represent." Kara tried to explain, "The sun and moon at the same place at the same time. It's a rare event when things meet; the rules are different in between points. They can mean for the start of something new or the end of something old. They are when contradictions meet when the impossible is possible."
Soon they reached a rocky wall, and Oriana quickly found ancient Aztec glyphs on it. She pressed the glyphs in a specific order and spoke some words. The wall moved away and opened a path for them.
Touma noted something, "So this is the place?"
"I thought you told me it would take you a few days to find it."
"Well," Oriana only looked down at the path, "maybe it was a little white lie to spend more time with you. But times up, they want it gone before the eclipse."
Oriana walked inside, and the others followed.
The young blonde woman said, "In Aztec myths, they had five suns. The Aztec creation myth starts with Ometeotl, a god duality both god and goddess. They created four gods that went on to create the world.
They found themselves in a massive chamber; the ceiling was covered in Aztec drawings of stars and gods. The floor, however, showed something fair less pleasing, and considering the things they fought in the last week, Touma felt a bit uncomfortable standing on them.
"But the universe was a primordial void, just them and an infinite ocean while with a nightmare beats called Cipactli."
Touma didn't know how to describe it; it was some sort of monster that may be a massive dragon, carved sow it covered the entire ground.
Mugino surmised, "So this is a chamber telling the story."
"Whenever they made something, it would fall into the ocean to be eaten by Cipactli."
Oriana picked up a small round weight that was sitting by the entrance and moved it to the monster's mouth where it fit. It fell in pressing something
They could hear what sounded like ancient gears shifting and moving. The doorway they came in from closed.
Touma then noticed there were four god figures, one in each cardinal direction. He wondered if any of these guys were with the other gods.
"There was Tezcatlipoca tried to lure the monster and kill it. But it didn't work, in the end, could only forge its body into the land we walk on. And it cost him his leg."
As she finished speaking on the god, figures on the wall seemed to shift, and the leg slipped under the ground revealing the new path.
Oriana continued to walk through, Touma only paused to look at the dragon on the floor."
As they walked down the path again, Kara thought up something, "Yeah, I think I heard it somewhere before. I think the twist is that it's supposed to be still alive and waiting for a day; it can rise again."
They found themselves in a new chamber, but this one was too dark to see anything. Mugino pulled out her phone and used it for light. The wall was all decorated with images of people but draw up to look like giants.
Oriana continued to focus on her story, "The gods created people, but they found that this world lacked something, it needs sun."
She looked back the doorway; on this side, it too had an elaborate image of the god who lost its leg.
He had on an elaborate headdress and skin of jungle cat.
"He became the sun for this world, but he could be a half sun, maybe it was because he lost his leg or because he was a god a night."
"Doesn't make sense if you think about it." Kara pointed out.
Oriana looked at the legs that the god still had and found a marking that looked like a half sun. She pressed, and they heard stones shift, and above them came light. Right in the center of the ceiling, stones moved to let the sunlight in, but only through a half sun hole.
It did give them a bit more light.
"Things worked out until he and Quetzalcoatl had a falling out, and the great snake god knocked him out of the sky."
Oriana moved to the other end where a serpent-like figure with wings had it's tailed wrapped around a club. Oriana pressed the club, and some shifting was heard. A purple-colored glass covered the whole, and the room was bathed in its light.
Now images of cat-like beast covered the walls.
"In his rage, Tezcatlipoca rained down jaguars to eat everyone, and with that, the first world ended."
Beneath them more stones shifted and formed a spiral staircase leading down, Touma almost tripped down them, but Kara managed to grab him.
Oriana walked down the stairs without saying much more.
Mugino did take a moment to marvel at the art on the walls as they walked down. She was by far no expert, but it seems to show these gods morning for the people who died and them remaking the world.
She could only guess this place served as a ritual for people to sort of relieve the legend and learn it.
Finally, they reached another chamber, this one lit with a giant glowing stone at the top. The stone seemed to be in the jaws of the feathered serpent from before.
"During the next world, Quetzalcoatl became the new sun, the new humans were smaller, but he loved them just the same."
Along the walls of the round chamber were animals, mountains, and temples. Kara even noticed people on the walls, but they didn't look happy; they looked angry.
"Let me see," Oriana closed her eyes, "but the humans grew resentful of the gods and disrespected them. It upset their new sun, and in his anger, Quetzalcoatl turned them all into monkeys."
Oriana found one lone monkey and pressed the image. The walls began to shift, and something covered the images, carving of monkeys. The wind seemed to come out of nowhere as a new doorway opened up, leading to the passage below this floor.
As they continued to walk, small raindrop crystals light their way. Touma wasn't sure if they were magic or not, so he tried not to touch them. He could still feel something; the air felt cold and wet as they walked. And he swore he could hear water rushing somewhere close.
"An underground river?" Mugino guessed, wondering if this would be dangerous.
They entered another chamber this one bathed in the light a large blue crystal, and several of those raindrops gems scattered amongst the walls.
"In the next world, the gods made more humans and rain god known as Tlaloc began the sun."
The walls were covered in art of people living their lives, but at a distance, they spotted two gods; one looked like Tezcatlipoca."
"And it was fine until Tezcatlipoca had an affair with Tlaloc's wife. In his despair, he didn't let it rain until the prayers of people became too much. He then made it rain fire."
Oriana pulled out a small lighter she bought it up to the raindrop gems. The heat slowly turned the blue gems red, and the effect seemed to spread until all the gems, including the large ones, were red.
Kara noticed something, "Anyone hears water rushing?"
The group moved to the center as water started pouring out of the ceiling covering the walls. Then they felt the heat; the water was boiling. The water was pooling in crates around the walls, but it could quickly scold them if they got too close. Touma wondered if it was a spell and went to reach the water, but Oriana stopped him. The center they were on shifted and started to lower.
They lowered into a new chamber, and the elevator they rode settled down.
There were more of the typical images as before; a great big bright gem provided light in this chamber, it settled above the mountains as small raindrops gems surrounding it.
"That marriage didn't work out." Oriana explained to the group, "But Tlaloc got remarried and stepped down from being the sun. His new wife, Chalchiuhtlicue, stepped up and adored humanity."
Mugino sighed, "And let me guess, this goddess went psycho too."
Oriana didn't bother to respond, "Tezcatlipoca accused her of just doting on them so they would like her. She didn't take it well and cried tears of blood for 52 years, drowning all of humanity.
Water from upstairs started to leak from behind the gem, but it had turned red.
Mugino guessed that something had been added as it poured down. A pretty good effect the time period everything had to be set up in.
The red liquid was swirling around the carved images of people slowly dying the gemstone red and bathing the room in that color. Oriana turned to one end of the chamber where the feathered serpent spoke to a skeleton figure.
"Quetzalcoatl went to Mictlantecuhtli, the god of the Underworld, and brought the bones of all the humans to revive them."
Oriana pushed the throne the skeletal figure was sitting on, and it shifted opening up a new passage.
They continued to walk down it, Touma didn't understand what the issue was. It sort of reminded him about the phases and made him want to ask Othinus about this. Oriana said they had to destroy a ritual. Was this it? It didn't seem to cause any issues, and if anything was magic, it seemed simple enough that science could probably explain it. Mugino didn't even seem to have any problems with it.
Though the path they were on was a little creepy, it depicted the serpent flying around them, dropping bones as it did.
They came to another chamber. Oriana walked out first saw a man in the distance walk through into the room past this.
They opened up into another chamber; this one had a large opening above them in the shape of the sun. The images across the wall showed people living their lives, with bright skies above them. The floor was even decorated with incredible patterns.
"Huitzilopochtli took the role of the sun in the current world."
"Good, he hasn't messed up yet," Mugino mumbled.
Kara felt something was off, and the tension she was sensing was getting to her.
"Okay," Touma finally asked, "so what did we have to do? You said there was a ritual we needed to destroy."
Oriana only looked at the passage before her.
"The story says that the first world is supposed to end in a disaster, a tremendous Earthquake caused by Cipactli rising. They had always kept it back by offering it blood when they sacrificed people." Oriana's mind flashed back to the old woman she leads to her death, a pain-filled her heart, "They don't do that anymore. The people who came from those who made this ritual saw no need for it. That this ritual didn't stop anything but replicated the myth. If the ritual were destroyed before the events started, then nothing would happen."
"Good, let's get to it." Touma took a step forwards but saw a sheet of paper fall to the ground when it landed the ground shook beneath them and vines wrapped around them. Oriana grabbed his right and stretched it out as vines wrapped around, the vines wrapped tightly around his elbow, locking it in place.
"What the hell?" Mugino yelled out.
"Yeah, that triangle gave me this idea. I don't know why I didn't think of it before."
"Why are you doing this?" Kara struggled at the vines wrapped around her tightly.
"Why are you crying?" Touma asked.
They didn't get a chance to see her face; she always made sure to look forwards and try to stay ahead of them, never letting them see her face. Her eyes were red as she struggled not to sob, and tears stream from her face.
"It started," Oriana tried to smile.
Kara realized what she meant, "The Earthquake yesterday."
"Yeah, I screwed up." Oriana sobbed, "Everything that happened with those monsters and going to the hospital threw me off. I got the days wrong, a now it's starting."
The light started to fade in the room.
"The eclipse is just the last stage before it happens. The legend will be replicated until the end." The room shook, "I don't know if the whole world will start over or if it will just affect Mexico… but I can't let so many people die!" Oriana trembled, "But there is a solution, don't you see. They need blood, just one person will do. All I gotta do is go to the next room."
"No!" Touma yelled, "You can't."
Mugino started to blast the vines from her body as soon as she was a bit freed. More vines grew, and they were tighter and thicker. Soon she had some wrapped around her neck.
Oriana moved closer to Touma. "I'm sorry I thought we could get here earlier. I thought it would be over quickly, and we could have some time in the sun together." She sobbed, "I thought about sneaking out last night, but I couldn't help myself. I wanted to spend the last few hours with you. I don't want to be alone, but I'm not going to make you watch."
"No, don't worry. I made a mistake years ago, and today I can make up for it." She leaned in and kissed him. "Please don't blame yourself. I know what I'm doing. Whatever you do, don't fight them. You will be okay. When this is over, you will all be okay."
She turned around and walked straight into the dark passage.
Outside on the beach, several people gather, people were getting ready to look at the eclipse, even now the sky was starting to darken.
Touya waited as Shiina came over.
Shiina sighed, "I talked to the hotel, and they said Touma and the girls left early."
Touya only told him, "I can't blame him, I'm sure he just wanted to spend some alone time with the girls. There are things he won't want his parents around for."
"That's what I'm afraid of."
"I've talked with him, but I'll talk with him again." Touya handed him some special glasses so they could watch the eclipse.
People were gathering and were some half-joke murmurs about the apocalypse since there was an earthquake right before an eclipse.
It took Shinobu a while to the helmets to work. They couldn't implant anything, what she guessed was that whatever happened to them re-wrote their bodies enough to make this their new norm. It was just an awful state; it creates a loop of negative thoughts and nightmares. They managed to get some images.
Vento was forced to watch the events that lead to her brother's death. How he sacrificed himself to save her. How she went on to live a life that harmed and killed so many. How she wasted that sacrifice.
Sherry was forced to watch her friend Ellis die as she fled. How she could have fought back, to try and save him so they both could have lived. Instead, she ran off to save herself. How she lashed out and harmed the innocent like him.
The Dorm mother turned out to be a soldier before she came to the city, she did not take to killing well, she tried to find some peace taking care of children, but with some heartbreak, the guilt returned. The feeling that she didn't deserve to be happy.
Misaki, Seria, and Ayu joined the girls and watched the screens and deciphered what the dream represented.
Misaki told them, "It deep-seated, that's how guilt works. It digs in, and you can't let it go."
"Whatever they did to us," Ayu told them, "it gets inside you and brings out your worst. And if you're a good person deep down, you can never let go of your guilt. It's too much a part of them, too hard to let go of something that makes you."
Seria finished up, "And they won't, they just keep reflecting. We can tell them anything; we can't change what they see."
Shinobu looked at the date screens, "And we don't have much time, this is causing them to much stress. I don't think their hearts will last too much longer. Even with more medical equipment, we can only buy them time." Shinobu rubbed her eyes, "I have to call the hospital, I don't think there were many with that mindset or that severe of a mindset, but if anybody was affected, they could be showing symptoms like these. Maybe less severe or not as advance, we could still treat them."
Esther was the first to speak up, "I think we need to ask for help."
Leep looked over, knowing who she meant, "We need to ask the goddess."
In the other room, Nephtyst sat on her, staring at the wall with her empty eyes.
On the beach, many people looked up as the moon covered the sun, and darkness filled the sky.
The air was silent and quiet; then the ground began to shake.
In Hawaii, President Robert Katze there to support the governor of the state. There was some talk that he was ineffectual after the whole business that Gremlin. Katze was there to make sure he didn't get booted for something that he couldn't have stopped. After all, he had been doing an excellent job of recovering.
The ground shook, and he moved to keep his assistant from tipping.
Maria and Fukiyose moved the girls to under a table.
Maria smiled and comforted them, "So, when an Earthquake happens, get under a sturdy table. This way, you can make sure nothing falls, and it's your heads."
Janine, Febrie, and Dolly clung to the older girls.
"Don't worry," Fukiyose reassured them, "all the builds in the city are sturdy, we'll be perfectly safe."
Though she did worry, this one was far stronger then the last one she had been through and lasted a bit longer.
Crowley saw the computer screens as the earthquake died down. The results were worrisome.
It looked like the entire Pacific Rim had suddenly shifted. If the reading were correct in a few minutes, it would start again and be stronger. Right now, it wasn't too bad, thanks to Academy City technology they had provided the UN for funding the damage should be fairly minimal. But if this kept up, and it looked like it would, it would get a lot worse.
"What the hell?" Mugino screamed, thought a bit muffled.
The Earthquake had died down, and the sky had gone dark.
Touma struggled against the vines to try and follow.
"I think we have another problem," The light in the chamber went out, and in the dark new figures formed. Skeleton like figures formed all around them. Above them, glowing moons and stars could be seen, giving them some light. The Skeleton began to pull themselves out of the walls.
"I think I know this one," Kara explained. "I don't know the name, but the god for this Sun is in constant conflict with the Moon and the stars. I think they were skeleton ladies."
"What do they do?"
"It's a story about the end of the world, and the dead are rising!" Mugino shouted, "What do you think?"
It was pretty dark, but Touma could see the skeletons start to move around. Then he remembered what Oriana told him not to fight them. If they didn't move, maybe they would ignore them.
"Get away from me!" Mugino readied her meltdowner, balls of plasma formed around her, and shot out into the skeletons. The skull of one was blasted to bits, and then they all turned to them.
Okay, that wasn't going to work.
Oriana entered a large and final chamber. The ceiling was engraved with images of all the gods and had several gemstones providing light. In the very of the ceiling was an opening that showed the eclipsing sun.
The floor was covered in a large depiction of Cipactli. Half the floor of the chamber opened into a dark chasm. But at the very edge of the floor stood a small platform holding up a single dagger. Around the platform was the mouth of Cipactli.
The hole wasn't big, Oriana would just reach over and pull off the dagger and do the deed. The hole was just big enough to let herself fall into it. She arrived and looked down and saw only darkness.
She focused, and she found a man on the other, the man who hired she was in touch with for this mission.
"I thought you would have done it earlier."
"I'm sorry… I-" she couldn't make excuses, "It doesn't matter I'll fix this."
"You know what it entails."
"Are you ready to do it?"
She reached over and took the dagger, she felt its weight in her hand, and it was massive.
Once more she pictured the old woman, "I'm sorry,"
"Just… just give a moment."
"It must be done before the eclipse is over."
"I know," The ground trembles beneath her as urging her to do it.
"Just-just a minute-" Oriana Thompson closed her eyes, she didn't expect forgiveness, but she hoped she might find peace, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name."
For the first time in a long time, she prayed, she prayed for those she had hurt, for those who she would leave behind, and for a young man, she would have liked to spend more time with.
The Earth was quaking, and it was making it harder for Mugino to aim.
"Hit me!" Touma Yelled, "Get the vines off me, and I can free us!"
"I can't promise my aim."
"Just aim for my right arm!"
Mugino was hesitant if she missed. She could probably fry him. She fires anyway, and the sound of shattering glass was heard.
Mugino tried to spread out the bean and lean towards his hand; a few of the vines got the loss.
Touma quickly swung it around, and the girls were freed, and one of the skeletons dissolved into dust.
"Make a break for it!" Kara yelled out, the three of them moved past the skeletons.
Kara halted and pulled out her sword from the sheath. It had been hidden with a spell for a while, just in case.
"Kara!" Touma called out.
"Go! I'm a Valkyrie; it's my duty to lead the dead to the other side." She readied her sword as the skeletons reached for her.
Touma nodded and ran ahead; he had to trust Kara and move on to stop Oriana. As Touma and Mugino raced down the passage, Touma was sure he could hear Oriana talking.
As they rushed into the chamber, they found Oriana by the abyss with a dagger in her hand.
"Stop!" Touma yelled out.
"The Eclipse is about to end; you need to do it now." The man told Oriana, there was another earthquake.
Oriana raised the knife to her neck.
"Stop!" Touma reached out.
"No!" She called out, moving the blade closer.
"Do it!" The man told her again. "It's now or never. The longer you wait, the more chance you have to stop you."
"Just give me a minute!" Oriana told him.
"Oriana," Touma spoke up, "please don't do this; you don't have to do this."
"You do!" The Man reminded her.
"I do," Oriana said solemnly.
"You don't," Touma argued, "we can find another way. I can still break this; I just need to find the thing powering this and-"
"We don't have time." Oriana insisted, her handshaking. "I have to do this, don't you understand? If someone doesn't bleed and die, then these Earthquakes will get worse. There are only four people here. One of us has to die; I won't let it be you."
"And I'm not going to let it be you."
"I'm not letting it be me." Mugino quickly pointed out.
"It has to be you," The Man told Oriana. "You know it if someone needs to die, it should be someone that has nothing to live for. What do you have to look forward to? Day after day of regret?"
Oriana winced at the words; the crashed bus filled her sight.
"What? The boy? Do you think you're good enough? No, of course not. Every attempt to do good, to try and make up for it causes more pain, like that Himegami girl."
Oriana remembered slashing Himegami with a spell, standing over the girl as she bled and walking away.
"Do you think either of them forgives you? You aren't worth forgiving. Living with you must cause them so much pain."
"Why did you say four?" Mugino spoke up, "And why are you staring off into space?"
Mugino had pretty keen eyes even before the cybernetic implant, and she had learned to read people's body language, and hers seemed off. If she didn't know any better, she reacted as if someone was talking to her.
This reminded her of something; she'd seen and responded to things that weren't there. "You're seeing someone that isn't there!" Mugino realized, "When we were gassed, you were affected. It's not out of your system."
"Wait. What?" Touma realized.
"Probably something like those girls those witch cosplayers were looking after. It hasn't worn off."
Touma blinked; he knew it wasn't gas, but maybe something was affecting Oriana. She'd been acting weird and even said she couldn't help but remember something horrible from her past. Was whatever remained of the spell messing with her mind?
"Oriana, please let me help you. You don't have to do this, let me help you."
"They're lying to you. They are telling you whatever they can to stop you." The Man whispered to her.
Her past misdeeds continued to flash before her, those she hurt, and guilt welling up inside her. Her hand was shaking; she moved it towards her neck.
"It's the only way to make it end." The man whispered to her. The man was an illusion forged of her guilt shaped like a man who hired her. "You want it to end finally, don't you? You want to forget. This is you're only way, the only way to make something of your life, to outweigh the pain you've caused."
"This is the only way," Oriana whispered as she pushed the tip of the dagger into her neck.
Oriana closed her eyes, ready for it all to end.
Oriana had often wondered what things would be like when she met her end. She had lived a sinful life; she had caused a lot of pain. She never enjoyed that part, even before the spell she had regretted it.
As she felt the tip of the dagger cutting her skin, she wondered what she'd see after. If there would be anyone to greet her, would she finally stop feeling that guilt?
Her hand was shaking as she pushed the blade forwards, but something had stopped her. Touma jumped towards her and grabbed her hand. Touma was struggling to hold back her hand.
"Oriana, please…" Touma pleaded with her.
"I have to do this…"
"But you don't want to do this."
"Then, why are you crying? Why didn't you just do it? Why didn't you block the path with a spell? Why did you tell me that you were guilty yesterday? You told me about that woman. "Because despite all your guilt, you are strong and kept going. You kept trying to do good. You told me that you came to Academy City and became the dorm mother because you wanted to make it up what you did to Himegami and me. If you were someone who ignores their guilt or doesn't care, you wouldn't have done that. You wouldn't try, but you did. It's that curse that making it worse, and yet you've still been trying to fight? You've been trying to get help when you didn't even know you were in trouble. So please let me help you!"
"Don't listen to him!" The man hissed at him.
Her body was shaking, and blood began to drip from the cut, and Touma tried to hold back the dagger.
"Oriana, please, I know you feel guilty, but it isn't your fault. The old lady wasn't your fault. I now it feels like the world would be better without you, but trust me, it wouldn't be."
Then Mugino's words struck her, and she realized something else.
Touma was holding her hand; why was the man never touched her. He was urging her to kill herself but never did anything. How did he get in there? There was only one entrance, and they walked through it. He had told her the story and how to use it to get inside.
Her head felt more lucid, and her body felt heavier. Her hand dropped the dagger, and she fell to the ground, she felt the open wound and warm blood dripping from her neck. The man vanished before her, and she only saw Touma and Mugino a distance away.
Oriana's body shuddered as she began to weep. Touma wrapped his arms around him.
Mugino sighed; she took off the skirt and walked over. "Use it for the wound."
Oriana wrapped it around her neck and tighten it up; it should hold until they got something better.
The young blonde woman tried to stop crying; she didn't remember the last time she felt someone was there for her.
Next to her was the dagger, the blood dripping off it and onto the mouth of the carving Cipactli. When the blood touched the carving's mouth, the ground beneath them trembled, but this time it wasn't an Earthquake.
The ground was starting to pull away from them, Touma pushed Oriana away from the edge. Oriana's eyes went wide as she saw the craved dragon rip itself from the ground. The dragon's jaw opened and snapped Touma up. There was a spray of blood as his right hand slipped out as the monster's jaw closed. The Cipactli's head lowered into the black pit with its body following. Oriana watched as his right tumbled below.
"We have to go!" Mugino grabbed Oriana and pulled her away, the rest of the floor started to fall apart as more its body ripped free and lowered itself into the bit.
They managed to jump back into the passage to watch the floor vanish, leaving the small platform.
Kara ran towards them, "Too many, we're outnumbered!" She paused when there was nowhere else to run. "Where's Touma?"
On the other end, hundreds of skeletons started to walk towards them.
Mugino prepared, she didn't believe this was magic; she didn't have any clue to what it was, but she wasn't going to go without a fight.
The earth shook stronger than ever before.
At the beach, the Eclipse watchers were in a bit of a panic. The earthquakes were worrisome. This last seemed worse; Touya helped steady his wife keeping her from falling. Then there was a loud crack like nothing they had ever heard before.
Then something seemed off about the sky.
Mugino was in awe, also half-dazed on the ground with everyone.
It happened so quickly if it wasn't for her cybernetic eye, she wasn't sure she would have caught it.
There was shattering like thunder, and the stone around them began to grumble. She heard something across a whimper and roar. She saw Cipactli's head raise above the abyss and shatter freeing Touma's body.
She saw his blood jet out of his missing arm and swirl around it, forming something. The shape was familiar, and she felt a presence she had seen before.
A dragon's head formed where his arm should have bee, and its neck stretched out and reached for the eclipse.
It like something out of a myth to see a dragon seemingly trying to eat the sun. The dragon seemed to grow, and it's wide mouth seemed to chomp down on the black orb above them.
This all happened in less than two seconds, and after that, all she could see was white.
She blinked, and she found herself in the middle of what looked like a disaster zone. The mountain they had been in was gone. All that was left was a crater, and all the stone seemed to be reduced to dust. The forest around them had all been knocked down as if by an explosion.
Kara looked around, stunned, getting herself up. "What happened? Did you find the source of the magic ritual? Was the whole temple magical?"
Nearby Touma was checking on Oriana, "Are you okay?"
Oriana just looked at Touma; he was there all in once peace. She grabbed Touma and pulled him into a hug, happy, knowing they were all safe.
"That was some Earthquake," Saflee commented as she helps, clean up.
For several years, Academy City had sold several technologies to help prevent disasters, including techniques and technology, to make building a lot more studier. It was one of the technologies that Academy City freely sold to the outside world; there was little for it to be used against them and provided money and good PR for the city.
Fukiyose and Himegami worked on keeping the young girls calm. They had never gone through an Earthquake, and even the older girls were a little shaken from going through such a strange event.
Maria was in the kitchen and was just finishing making a snack for them. She hoped a nice lunch would help calm down their nerves.
The yellow-colored maid served up the food at the table and called them over.
While she was fussing around, she thought she should prepare something for the women in comas. They had been doing their best with strange circumstances.
Maria decided to try and make something for them, it was a bit out of her typical job as a maid, but she lived to serve.
It was rather hard to find something she could make for people who couldn't move their mouths. She'd been making smoothies and the like, something she could carefully have them drink to get their nutrients.
Maria opened up the fridge and started to pull some fruits and chop them up and put them in a blender. Food was a little scarce, maybe it was the extra people, or maybe Index was sneaking snacks again, but there didn't seem to be as much as there should be. Maria was annoyed by it, she was in charge of the groceries, and she was sure she calculated it correctly. Now she'd have to go shopping when she could.
Maria kept looking for food to finish it up. Maria groaned as she found something in the back of the fridge, a duffle bag. She lived with a bunch of weirdos, so she's come to understand weird things would happen. Opening it up, she found something strange, four yellow apples.
"Did someone bring apple in a duffle bag?" She tapped at them, and they were apples. "At least take them out of the bag." She started to wash them.
Itsuwa, Leep, and Index walked into the bedroom and quickly Nephtyst laying on the bed with her hair a mess.
The others waited outside; they didn't want to crowd the magic goddess. Or a few of them were outright afraid of her. Nephthys made no motions or anything to imply she noticed the girls were there.
Index decided to take the initiative because she had known her the longest. "Nephtyst?" The goddess remained there, "After everything that happened … well, three people are in these coma-like state."
Itsuwa decided to continue, "It's a lingering effect of the curse that affected the whole city. It reached deeper into them. Changed them so they can only stay in a nightmare unable to move in real life."
Leep added, "In myth, you were known to be a goddess of divine assistance, a goddess of Helping, and a goddess of Healing. One which would weep for humanity. So we are asking for your help; these women will die and, they are beyond our power to help. We think that only a goddess might be able to save them."
They waited in silence for a whole minute; she made no motion; she spoke no words.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!"
A voice startled the three of them.
From out of the goddess hair pop out, Othinus. The former magic god had been keeping an eye of the new-former magic goddess. It didn't matter much as she refused to do much even to bother protecting herself at some point. She wept for her first night back and then just was. Monsters showed up, and she barely reacted. Now she was being pled to, asking her to do the one thing she was fond of in her life. Doing the thing that killed her last time.
"They are asking you to help them! Are you afraid? Last time you helped you died, I could understand that. But say something! You wept for that girl, and you gave up your life for her. Now when they are just asking for help to save three, you don't raise your finger? That human may have many faults, but helping someone asking for help for a good reason isn't one of them. The legends said you helped bring Osiris back from the dead! Now, that's your turn; you decided to turn your back on them! Even after that human, and that nun nearly died to save the girl you saved, and somehow pulled a miracle and saved you too! That is the biggest waste I had ever seen!"
Nephthys swatted the miniature goddess away. Othinus jumped on her hand, "You cried! I was a war goddess; you can't beat me like that!"
The mini fairy grabbled with her hand.
Nephthys tried to swat her away, "Do you think it's that easy? You have no idea what I saw, what it was like for me?!"
"Dying? You think that's new?"
"You never truly died; you were reformed. I did, I was gone for months. Do you know what happened in those months? I don't know, I stopped. I didn't exist after that. There was no afterlife, no anything. I don't even think I was. I'm not sure I am. I could be a ghost with flesh. I could just be an illusion waiting to fade away! I don't even know if I was ever real! I can't tell the difference! I don't know if I'm the real Nephtyst! I don't know if she was ever real!"
Othinus fed up, bit her finger, and once let go, climbed her arm as quickly as she could. She jumped up and slammed the larger goddess' face. Othinus tumbled onto the bed. "You are real! That human held you while you wept! That sounds real to me! You returned, and the first thing you did was cry tear of joying since girl alive and well! Since when have illusion had feelings! Whatever existential crisis and dread you have right now, you cannot let it stop you from doing what you know you should do! Because the moment you give up on yourself, then you are nothing, not even an illusion!"
The Ancient Egyptian Goddess fell silent to the Norse god of wisdom.
"WHAT IS SHE DOING HERE?!"
The two former divine beings turned to the doors where pretty much every resident of the dorms stared. Othinus and Nephthys were yelling brought over the crowd. Cendrillon now pointed a finger in rage at the chibi-goddess.
"Oh, hello, Table."
"Ah!" Cendrillon let out, ready to try to rip her apart.
"Are you angry at Miss Fairy?" Febrie asked Cendrillon.
"Miss Fairy?" Shinobu asked, "She was real?"
Nephthys sighed, "If it's a curse that has changed their bodies, how their mind works, then I might have a cleansing spell that could help."
The room fell silent again, except for a blender in the distance. It ruined the mood honestly.
They were about to leave to the airport; the shuttle would arrive soon. Touma dragged the luggage to the front of the hotel.
Mugino walked closed behind, "Aren't there supposed to be people to help with that?"
Touma sighed; they had decided to leave as soon as possible.
"It's been a pleasure to meet you," Kara spoke to her father as they left, "dad."
Touya blushed, "Ah, well, it's nice to meet my future daughter in law."
Damn, that woman works fast. Touma just stared open mouth; he was just content that Kara was wearing a t-shirt and a torn jeans instead of her bikini armor.
Shiina was talking to Oriana, "Dear, you seem better."
"I do feel better," Oriana reassured her.
"Good," Shina smiled at her and then wondered what that meant. 'Did she have sex with her baby boy? Is that why she feels better? Is that why I couldn't find them all day?'
Oriana suddenly felt a chill go down her spine.
Mugino walked over to say her goodbyes and spoke softly, "Well, it was great to meet you."
Shiina moved over and hugged her.
Touma stepped over and took a turn to say goodbye. He hugged his mother.
"Goodbye, behave, and do try and stay out of trouble."
The shuttle arrived, and the girls started to climb in.
"By the way," Shiina added, "I like Mugino, she's such a lovely girl. And what an angelic voice."
Touma winced, his parents seemed to get along a lot better with the girls he wasn't dating.
Maria was pouring the last of the drink into Vento's mouth; it might have been a bit less than the others. But hopefully, it would give them enough vitamins and keep their throats from drying out.
Nephthys walked in along with the magicians, most holding items.
"How do I not know this spell?" Index asked her.
"It's not in any grimoire; it's a spell made to be used by divine hands with divine blood. I think it was Thoth who came up with it. It was away for the pharaohs to save themselves from a terrible curse. A secret only whispered to from parent to child, in case someone tried to kill them through a curse, so they didn't know they had a trump card."
Maria moved out of the way as they finished setting up.
Nephthys sighed, "I don't know if it will work; this curse has changed them. The way you describe it, the changes are ingrained. This is all or nothing."
Nephthys, Leep, and Marie began to recite the spell, speaking in an ancient Egyptian dialect, Marie just happened to have studied a bit to get at least some words right.
Itsuwa lit some incense while Esther fanned the smoke around the room.
The others watched to see if this would work. The three unconscious women started to shake and rise into the air; golden light began to consume their bodies.
As they started to descend back into the bed, the other stared dumbfounded.
Maria asked, "Was that supposed to happen?"
The Newscaster stated, "These photos have started to make the round on the internet. In Mexico, some people claimed they could see the ancient Aztec Serpent Quetzalcoatl reaching for the Sun during the Eclipse."
The TV screen showed a picture of a black silhouette of a dragon about to munch on the eclipse.
"Considering legends and the fact the earthquake, this photo is being attributed joker online. For those who don't know, Aztec legend there is a god known as Quetzalcoatl, who is known to protect humanity. Even from the demonic forces that often try to block out the sun."
Mugino shut off the TV; the airplane would arrive back home soon.
Nearby Oriana's hand entwined with Touma's as the two had fallen next to one another. Sleeping on Touma's other side was Kara, who was happily nestling his hand. Kara had claimed that as a valkyrie, she was drawn to passionate and noble warriors, and that was the only explanation she gave her for her behavior.
Mugino paid it no mind; she had other things to think about. Mugino had more answers to some of the questions of the boy. From what she could tell, the others hadn't noticed or didn't want to notice, but she had. She had seen a dragon stretch out from his arm and tear apart the world around them. She felt her heart race just think of the raw power he showed. That was an esper power. It wasn't whatever they claimed was magic. There had been a rumor about a level zero that defeated Accelerator, and even Hamazura confirmed it was the spiky-haired teen. She didn't believe it, not really.
But after what she saw, she knew it was real, that he had to power to pull off. There was a strange thing about him, he had all this power hidden away, and yet he seemed so soft and kind. It was exciting and a bit thrilling, she bit her lower lip as she thought of him. She had decided to stick close to him; she wanted to find more about him and what else would happen.
They eventually made it through all the security and made it back to the dorm. They were tried after everything, and we ready to get some rest. Touma was dragging all the bags as they arrived at the dorm.
"Hey, we're back!" Touma yelled out as he dropped their bags.
"Does this place look worse?" Mugino asked, looking at the new holes in the walls.
Frenda walked out of a close-by room and just shook her head, "Hey, your back. Ugh, things have been crazy…." She motioned, "Maybe just look for yourself. I don't know what's going on anymore. I don't."
They followed towards the kitchen, Touma had assumed they would find everyone eating, well, it looked like everyone was there.
"What?" Touma yelled out.
In the center of the group, were there people who they didn't recognize right away.
"Can you undo this?" The dorm mother Asami, she turned to Touma
Nephthys turned to Touma; please try it."
Touma was still unsure, were these three who he thought.
He was looking at three girls that looked somewhat like Vento, Sherry, and Asami but not; each other looked like they had lost a decade.
Touma placed his hand on the head of the glasses-wearing teen, and nothing happened.
Then he tried it on the tiered looking teen with a lion's mane for hair, nothing happened.
The last girl was glaring at him; he didn't believe it was Vento since she lacked all of her iconic piercings. She looked furious to the point he was afraid to try it.
"Just do it." She growled at him.
Touma flinched, put placed his right hand on her head, and nothing happened.
Nephthys just sighed, "I don't know what happened. It shouldn't have been able to do this. It's had been used during a time of desperation but rejuvenates the body, but it doesn't make them younger. I wasn't even sure it could reverse the curse."
"Maybe the table could give advice," Othinus spoke up.
"Othinus?!" Touma realized she was out in front, well in Cendrillion's hand, as her thumb kept bopping the mini-god's head.
Cendrillon and a wicked smile on her face, after all, this seemed a very fitting punishment for the goddess. Once she could shatter the world not, she was a plaything of some girl, a chew toy for a cat, and when Cendrillon was annoyed a stress ball. Cendrillon chuckled, "No, no, I don't think I can be much help." Othinus squeaked as the magician's grip grew tighter, "What I went through forever changed my body. I lost some mass because someone didn't prepare me correctly." She shot a glance at Mugino, "I was a bit of effort to reclaim that. But none of that would have been possible if I hadn't been altered in the first place; even now, my form isn't what the same structure as normal humans."
There were questions there, but they got she didn't want to delve in it.
"What happened?!" Touma yelled out.
Othinus shouted, "The only thing I know that could do something like this would be the golden apples but-"
There was a clear and loud squeaking as Kara was caught walking away.
Oriana quickly grabbed her, "Didn't you say something about Thor? That you were afraid that he could cause you trouble. Do you know anything about this?"
The group turned to the would-be valkyrie; she turned around and said, "No, of course not."
Touma, already a bit suspicious, asked, "What about these apples?"
Cendrillon spoke up as she continued to squeak the doll shaped god, " In myth, Idunn was the goddess of youth who took care of trees that grew gold apples that were the source the god's eternal youth. There was a story, amongst those in Gremlin that one of the higher-ups was a magician going by Idunn. Idunn was said to be working on replicating those apples."
Oriana focused on the silver-haired woman beside her, "Hm, with Thor defeating the last of Gremlin, I wonder what would happen to any apples made. I seem to remember when we escaped your hotel room you made sure to take a bag with you. I wonder what was in that bag?"
"Clothes!" Kara insisted.
Maria squeaked up, "You know I found some apples in a duffle bag and used them…"
Kara leaped over to the young maid, "You what?!"
"I chopped them up and added them into a blender. I made them into a smoothie I feed to them."
"There you go," Othinus sighed.
Kara dropped into a nearby chair, " That was my last safety net, I had done some jobs for Gremlin and then figured out what they were doing. Before they went into their final mission, I stole the apple and ran. If things got bad, I planned to use them to age me down so I could hide."
"And you thought Thor was coming back to get them?" Othinus asked, "Don't worry about it; Thor wasn't interested; he just wanted a fight. Besides, Idunn never got those things to work right anyway. It will reduce your years once, but also sets back your bodies to that state. So, muscle memories and powers you gained since then is gone. You'll age at the normal rate instead of staying young too."
That didn't seem to be much of consolidation for them.
Kara grabbed Maria, "Is there anything left?"
"I used up all of them."
Kara hung her head; even if they weren't needed to hide, it would have been nice to have a chance to regain her youth or sell them if she ever needed the money. She couldn't help but miss those five apples.
"I know we have issues going on," Seria motioned to the now much more youthful women, "we have to deal with how to explain this and to deal with a princess the queen doesn't want back."
Carissa glared at Seria.
"And we still have to get the damage all repaired." She motioned around, to anything, at least 75% of everything was broken, "But I have to ask," She walked right up to Touma, " why do you have an international terrorist that can now fit in your pocket?"
Touma opened his mouth, " Okay, that's going to be a long story."
It wasn't hard to spy on the group. There was plenty of equipment in the Anti-Skill office one floor below. It was easy to get in there the attacks from the last few days might it nearly impossible to any floor to be secure.
They have to remove the cameras once they went to sleep, they would likely be found once all the repairs were underway. It wouldn't be too hard; they got in there to put them up while they slept.
Besides, they had a plan and a new key to hide in plain sight. They sat amongst a few boxes and stolen food. They held up a shiny apple and looked at it; they would hardly believe it would be possible. They had already started to make calls through back channels to set up a base away from here.
That boy's hand was a strange thing; it defied all they knew about esper abilities. Plus, they had more questions about some of the things that had happened recently.
Author's Note: Hey. So, let me get something off my chest cause it's been bothering me for a while. Last time I updated someone sent me some very rude messages to my PM yelling at me for not updating quickly. I had already explained why I hadn't updated in the author's notes. I've already blocked the rude SOB. They didn't try to talk to me just complain, so yeah, I blocked them if they are just going to be rude. The truth of the matter is I've had issues this last year, personal, stuff with work, and mental. And yeah the state of the world hasn't helped things. If you recall some of the latest arcs had some darker elements which made certain things for me worse and made it hard for me to get into a good head space to write this story. Those messages put me off from writing for another months and I was really excited to get this arc out, and now I don't even fell I did good.
Plus, the fandom has been quieter as of late. Yeah, we've had an accelerator anime, another season of Index. But Accelerator was pretty quiet and season 3 wasn't as good as anyone hoped. Raildex is coming out but has been delayed. There isn't a lot of spark left in the fandom as it is. I'm sure many of my fellow writer will attest that not hearing from the readers or the fandom can kinda feel like you're shouting into the dark. And that eats my motivation to work on this story. I want to finish this story, but sometimes I don't have the motivation because at points it seem like whats the point. I got other stuff that make me happy and feels more lively.
Okay, so why am I saying this? I blocked the guy. Just so I don't get anyone else asking me why it takes me so long to update. I gotta take care of my self and my mental health, my stuff, I gotta find my joy and yeah sometimes it isn't this story. Why haven't I said this before? I don't like talking about my personal stuff, not even with people I'm close to. I'm just not wired that way. It's caused a lot of issues in my personal life. So, I'm asking that you guys please be patient, and if you want to stop reading this story I understand. But I'm under no obligations to write if I don't want to, I'm doing this for free and I can drop it if I want. And I will if I keep getting messages like that, if you want to talk be polite when you send me a message and have something to say and maybe we can convo. But otherwise don't bother.
One last thing, I don't want to hear this in the reviews. I really don't want to talk about this anymore. So please lets move on. If you do want to leave a review please tell me what you thought of this chapter. I do appreciate nice comments and constructive criticism.