Chapter 25. Toll to the bell of death's training

[Pov Swap. Merlot. first person]

How interesting, how interesting indeed. The Grimm have yet to create a true civilization, but some of the smarter ones indeed are forming tribal packs. There is a clear hierarchy of power in the very least, Oum do I wish I could personally observe them all in the flesh, but given my lack of physical capabilities, it would be rather foolish for me to do so. The Beowulf pup rests in my lap, I stroke it's ears as the door to my lab opens.

"Well, good to see my benefactor again," I say and turn around to greet the Reaper, he gives me a strained smile. Oof, looks like he had a hard day, oh well it bothers me not. As long he lives my research can continue in peace.

"As it is good to see you again Merlot. So, have there been any sightings of humans yet?" He asked me, walking over to observe the screen.

"None, but some groups of Grimm are breaking off into splinter groups to hunt together, and are establishing perhaps the first community of this world. It's rather fascinating." I stop myself from rambling on over the topic, even though I seriously wish too.

"Remarkable...any sign they would obey either you or I?" He asked me, a strange question but I shrug.

"I haven't seen anything to the contrary," I told the reaper, upon closer inspection, I noticed just how tired he is. I can't help but grow more curious over what type of day he had.

"Hmm, alright, any signs of other life besides animals?" He asked me.

"N-" I was about to say no, but then some of the cameras began to shut down.

"Are you doing that?" he asked me, I shook my head.

"I was gonna ask the same of you," I tell him, the cameras turn back on and what we see is truly strange. Two humanoid figures walk the plains of the epicenter from which the Reaper had created the Grimm. One of the figures was yellow, entirely made of perhaps light, or some other material. The second figure, slightly smaller in stature, was humanoid but unlike its kin was made entirely of purple material. They had Fanus traits. Strange.

"Well, well. They finally arrived to ruin our experiment, they're late." Mores said, heading through the door. I take a closer look at the figures, I swear they're familiar.

"Hold on, are those the brothers?" I ask. Deciding it would be best for me to just watch, in person. I jump through the door to witness this nonsense in person.

[Pov return, Mores first person]

Of all the bullshit that can happen tonight, this crap I'm not gonna let them screw this planet over like they did their own.

It wasn't hard to find those fools, I just had to follow the floating pieces of scenery as they tried to rebuild their old shrines. I watched for a good two seconds and then clapped my hands together.

"Oi!" I yelled at them, that got their attention. The two gods froze, the younger brother was the first one to look my way. My mask was off, so he could see my annoyed look. The older brother shortly followed his gaze and he also saw how annoyed I was.

"Now, can you two explain why you're ripping up my planet's nature?" I ask, my voice straining as I seriously wanted to punt their heads off. Binging RWBY a few weeks ago told me all I needed to about these bastards, and honestly, I can understand why Salem wanted to kill them.

"Your planet? This is clearly Remnant, our planet!" The younger one snapped. Ooh, I'm so scared of the puny god.

"What my younger brother means, this is the planet we originated from. It is our birthright to claim the planet." The older brother said, while he said it was far more polite than his younger counterpart, it was still laced with enough arrogance to make me visibly nauseated. A rustling in the leaves told me Merlot was watching this encounter, oh well, may as well give him a show.

"Then why was there no Grimm here before I planted their seeds here? If this was indeed Remnant, the Grimm should've existed before I first planted them here?" I asked them. I wanted to hear their excuse. The younger brother looked more and more pissed with every word I said, I can relate. Cause every word they say is pushing me closer to the edge.

"It appears this is an alternate world of Remnant, one of which my brother had yet to create the creatures you called Grimm, but rest assured, this is Remnant. I can sense residual sparks of my power throughout all the life on this planet." The older brother said, clearly he took great pride in that fact. I smiled, and let my mana roll freely.

"Corruption," I whisper with a grin. The trees the older brother had proudly gestured too, wilted to ash under his very gaze. As the grass surrounding us died even faster, leaving only dust under our feet. The brothers were stunned, it took them a few moments to realize what was happening.

"Oh, cause as far as I can tell. My power is the dominant one here." I tell them as I pluck one of the dying flowers by my feet, I cease my corruption, and with some healing magic, the flower returns to its bright color. As I smelled the flower theatrically, I couldn't help but grin at the younger brother's reaction. He was clearly angry, but there was also fear in his body language. He was almost too easy to read, his older brother in comparison was definitely harder to read, but once I noticed his eyes narrowing to slits I can guess his mood. He's pissed that I one-upped him. Before he could do anything else the familiar roars of Grimm filled the air.

"Oh, would you look at that," I say as the Beowolves emerge from the dead forestry. The younger brother looked ecstatic about this turn of events.

"Ahh, my loyal creations. Please come over to me, let me get a good look at you." The younger brother said, eerily reminding me of a grandparent seeing their grandchild again. The Grimm do approach, but not him. They walked by the younger brother and came to me. I grinned, this was the only part I was worried about regarding the Grimm. The younger brother was their original creator, but they see me as their master. That is beautiful, but what makes it all the sweeter is the younger brother's look of shock that drained him of all color.

"This is not your planet, not anymore. I am recognized by both it's only inhabitants, and by nature, as the superior leader. I'll allow you two to leave with your dignity still intact." I say, unable to stop the monstrous grin spread upon my lips. I needed this, especially after today.

The older brother looked furious, but my focus on him wavered when I saw the younger brother shaking. Unlike his brother, who could control his emotions, the younger brother couldn't and it came off him in waves.

"First, the humans dare to stand up against us. They dared to fight us, to slay us. Creations both my brother and I made together, but now? My children, the ones I made by myself? They don't recognize me as their creator? They would also dare to betray me?! How dare THEY!" The younger brother roared, his magic flooding outward in a torrent of hatred. The humanoid body compressed and expanded, growing into the body of a dragon. Wing's erupting from his back, claws erupting from his feet and hands as they became paws and both touched the ground. He roared, the Grimm retreating behind me and into the woods.

"They dare stand against me?! I was the one that made them! I AM THEIR GOD!" He roared, mana erupting from the ground as it collapsed into a ball in front of his mouth. His older brother did nothing to stop him, and neither did I. At the apex of when he was gonna release it, I merely put my hand out.

"Stop" My order was absolute, and the body followed it. Everything stopped his heart, his brain. Even his very nerves stopped, for his body was made entirely of my strongest elemental affinity. I snap my fingers, and his body explodes. Shattering into a million tiny pieces, the mana he collected from the very planet collapsed in on itself and returned to the dirt. The particles of his body began to return to a central point, I allowed it. I do not feel the need to add more death to a night already full of it.

It took him only a few moments to regenerate, and when he did. He screamed in terror, of me, of what I could do. I gotta say, I don't hate that sound.

"What kinda god-" The older brother tried to say, but my clawed gauntlets were already closed around his throat. I applied pressure and cut off his ability to breathe. He squirmed, just like the snake he is.

"Do not call me a god. If being a god is to be comparable to filth like you, I'd rather die than take any mantle that's associated with divinity." I spit in his face after I'm done, and drop him near his still screaming brother. I walk over to the Grimm that stayed behind and pet their ears.

"This will be the last time I say this. Do not return here, do not even think of returning to this specific remnant. The multiverse is large, take up a different empty planet, and never let my eyes ever gaze upon your filthy hides ever again. Cause if I do see you again, I will break your bodies down as I did with your younger brother, and I will absorb everything but your souls. Those, I will personally Devour, and make sure you never see a flicker of the afterlife. Am I clear?" I ask them, by the time I turn around to look, they have already vanished with the wind.

"...wow." Was all the peeking scientist could say, his jaw had long since hit the forest floor.

"Pick that thing up, now that this is over with I have some training I need to do," I tell the mad scientist as I go back through the door. A peaceful sleep was never an option for me, besides I have training I must get to. This little side trip to check up on the Grimm was little more than a distraction. I walked to Bahamut's door and opened. He was in his dragon form again, and it appeared he just came back from a flight.

"Ahh, partner! Was starting to think you'd skip out on training," he said, I smile at the great dragon.

"I had a few things that needed to be done, but now that chores have been finished we can also finally polish off the death dragon magic you were supposed to teach me," I tell the great dragon, he smirked.

"Cheeky little shit aren't you? What am I saying, it is you we're talking about. Now, let's finish this." He said the air quivered as his mana was unleased. I grinned at the thought, finally.

"Took us long enough, now come at me!" I yell as I leap towards the dragon.

[Pov swap Issie, third person]

Issie awoke to two things. Blistering pain in his body, and Rias sleeping on his legs. Unlike the many other times, he found her asleep on top of him, she was still fully clothed. That was good, they weren't exactly alone either. His entire peerage had shared a room, Mores's to be exact. Another reason for Rias to still be fully clothed, he didn't want Mores to kill them due to what appeared to have happened. The glare of the morning sun caught his eyes and he nearly tripped over Kiba and Xenovia.

{try not to wake them up dunce} Draig insulted him, the young devil gave his arm a look before sighing.

"It's not like I mean to, and I'm not into that type of role play," Issie told his arm, he could feel the dragon give him a look back. Issie tiptoed around his sleeping companions and managed to open the door. Only to bump right into Wraith, Issie's skin crawled subconsciously. The creature looked like it wanted to eat them all, and after seeing what it could do in the rating game with Riser, he knows it's more than capable.

hi Wraith. Nice to see you again." But that didn't stop Issie from trying to be kind to the creature. Mores's summon just kept glaring at him, not responding in the slightest. Issie tried to laugh it off but the monster's glare was unnerving for the young devil. Issie tried to leave but Wraith put his claw in front of him, keeping him from leaving the room.

"Is there a problem?" he asked the abomination. Wraith opened his mouth and finally spoke.

"Training time." Were the course words that left his mouth, and Issie's stomach dropped. Well, Mores said they would start soon but Issie thought he would at least wait till everyone was awake. Before he could say anything a door emerged from the shadows, it radiated dark magic.

"Get." Was all Wraith said, motioning to the door he apparently opened? Issie was getting more nervous.

"Alright, let me just-" He was interrupted as Wraith moved past him. Picking up the sleeping devils, and exorcist, and chucking them through the door. Issie was thrown in as well for standing around. Issie landed face-first into pale sand, in a world that did not have life. He spat out the sand that was in his mouth, everyone else was starting to wake up.

"Glad to see everyone here." The reaper said, appearing from the endless dunes. His form shimmered unnaturally, a hologram made of mana. He did say he might not join them after all. By this point, everyone was more or less up and active.

"Now then, training begins now. You five-second head start before they-" Mores took that moment to gesture to his council, which came through portals. Even the Nazgul came, riding on their black steeds. Sharpened swords that were not their own on their hips.

"-give chase. I gave them the order to only chase you, but they are more than willing to kill you if you're caught." Mores said casually as his creatures of death only grinned. The devils gulped, he warned them of this, but now death was truly right in front of them.

"How long does it last and when does it start?" Sona asked him, the hologram merely nodded.

"Until the real me comes back to check, and it starts. Right now." The hologram pulled out a small pistol and fired it in the sky, the resounding boom got the devils running into the wastes. The hologram flickered but kept its smile.

Issie sprinted, but he was not the head of the pack, Rias and Sona were at the head with the knights quickly following. The rooks were in the very back, the bishops right in front of the rooks, and the two pawns were dead smack in the middle.

"This is insane! He won't actually let them kill us, right?!" Sanji asked Issie. Before Issie could respond, a second louder explosion rattled the devils' ears. A cut emerged on the top of Issie's head. Cerberus was on their heels and on top of the three-headed dog was Death Gun, with a smoking sniper. That was Sanji's answer.

"Run faster!" Rias yelled from the front, Death gun took another shot, a scratch on Rias's leg was created.

"Damn this jostling, I can't aim." Issie could barely hear over the resonating sound of gunfire. That remark sparked fear in Issie, and he used it to his advantage. The fear pushed his legs harder and he started to move faster. Looking back, Koneko was in the worst position of them all. Barely five feet from the gaping jaws of Cerberus, flames sputtered than roared in threefold infernos.

"Balance break!" Issie shielded Koneko from the flames with his armor, but the flames only grew hotter. He picked Koneko up and ran for it, his gear boosted his physical abilities every moment but the beast kept pace. Ignoring Sona's rook and hyper-focusing on Issie. Bullets dented the armor as Issie tried to escape. Then screams filled his and everyone else's ears. The Nazgul encircled the caravan of fleeing devils, walls of darkness encircled them. Cutting them off into small, confused groups.

Issie kept Koneko close as the beasts of the council emerged from the flames. He put Koneko behind him, he dashed towards them. His fist reared back, he punched the Nazgul in the head. The mask cracked just a little, a shockwave erupted and blew the sand in all directions. But other than that, there was no feedback. The beast did not even flinch from the punch. Issie realized just how outclassed they truly were, when a single punch he could not see, sent him reeling. Shattering his armor and through the black flames. Scorching his clothes and burning his skin. He tried to stand but Death gun's heel on his head kept him from moving at all. A glowing emerald pistol aimed at his head, finger comfortably wrapped around the trigger.

"Balance break!" He yelled in terror, his armor coming back up just in time. An emerald thorn sticking into the eye of his armor.

"That's enough." A new voice, more regal than the others said. Issie could barely see who said it, but he was wearing robes and was as large as Cerberus.

"Sorry, got carried away." Death gun said, holstering his gun. Before Issie could attempt an escape, blinds of strange lightning restrained him.

"Let's reset them." The robed creature sighed. As Death gun carried Issie over his shoulder, he got a good look at the robed creature. 'Now that is how I imagined a demon looking like.' He gulped after thinking that. As he was carried, he saw his fellows be carted back to where they started in similar positions. Rias and Sona got a slightly more respectable treatment, being allowed to sit upon the horses as the Nazgul trotted back. They were bound and gagged by fear like everyone else.

"Shit. I. Lost." Wraith sighed as he dragged Kiba next to Issie. The blonde prince being dragged by his leg, face down in the sand was a sight that Issie once might've celebrated a lifetime ago. Another hologram of Mores appeared waiting at the start. His mask, as usual, made it hard to read him but him tapping his foot showed that he was impatient.

"Well done, you survived exactly 45 seconds, and won me my bet against Wraith." Mores said proudly. Rias and Sona's jaws dropped.

"How long did he think we would last?!" Rias asked indignantly. Mores pulled out his notepad and checked the listing.

"5 seconds." Mores said casually. Rias looked like she was about to snap, but a glance from the Nazgul told her to shut it.

"Well, good indicator, now the actual training begins. I'll check in later to see if anyone died yet. Toodle Loo." Mores said as Xenovia, broke out of her bindings just to smash where his hologram once was. The beasts chuckle at that as the bindings were removed. The robed demon clapped at her demonstration.

"That is good, that fire will allow you all to survive. Most of you at least." He chuckled darkly. That regal tone of his making it sound like he ordered our executions.

"Now, come to the actual palace. We have much work to do, and so very little time." Death gun said. Making the devils and holy sword user walk. Any attempt to use their wings were met with magic that stopped them from growing, it was rather painful for those who tried.

The intense heat of the desert weighed them down. Heat rose from the sand to burn their feet and the sun-scorched their backs. Though, after an hour Issie and the other well-fit devils drag themselves up the steps to the gates of the castle. The beasts of Mores walk past them, the doors opening only for them. Forcing the already exhausted devils run through before the doors closed on them.

The instant burst of cold air was a welcome respite, though that was their only one as the beasts pulled them along. While there were many doors, the beasts guided them to only one. A room with a dumbbell logo as it's only marking. As they were pushed inside, they found themselves in what could be described as a training hall, but only for one with the loosest standard of what a training room should be. While it had the logo of a dumbbell, there was none to be seen. In fact, the only thing this room had was a flat wooden surface that stretched on into the horizon, no matter how implausible it could be, and a mirror that matched in length.

"Now, for the real training." The regal demon said waves of scorching fire turned into walls that separated each member of not only Rias's peerage but Sona's as well. The flames shuffled them around, for if they touched them for too long they were at risk of being burnt to ash. When Issie found at the end of the flames was a giant of a man, in a diving suit, one made for combat. A drill where his left hand should be, and bolts of lightning coming out his right.

"Hey, dragon boy." A feminine voice said to Issie, a woman only a year or two older than Rias stood by the metal beast.

"Your job here is simple, just get stronger overall, and try to lengthen your balance breaker. Got it pervy?" She asked with a giggle, Issie would've found it cute, if not for the sudden roar of the metal man's drill.

"Try not to get skewered." She said, leaping through the flames. {Partner, focus!} Draig's voice brought him back. The man with the drill charged with a speed that should not be possible for a giant metal man.

"Balance breaker!" He reactivated his trump card, his wings pushing him out of the way, but just barely missing the rotating point of the drill. His gear began boosting his physical abilities, but even as his physical capability grew, the metal man still kept him on his toes. Issie punched the metal man in the center of his helmet, the glass didn't even crack. A clad iron fist smashed into Issie's gut, the armor was the one to crack. Issie hacked at the sudden pain, then lightning flowed through the cracks. With his armor acting as a conductor, Issie felt his very soul be charred. Issie overclocks his gear to give him all the power he could handle.

He kicked the metal giant in the leg, the indomitable beast taking a knee from the force. Issie, instead of taking a moment to breathe, pressed his only advantage. He punched the side of the giant's helmet. Knocking it on its side, he grabbed the creature's drill and picked up the giant. With a roar he threw the beast into the mirror. Glass exploded outwards as Issie huffed, yet when he saw the beast attempt to stand. Issie's eyes turned green. The power of the welsh dragon starting to overwhelm him.

"{BOOST!}" His chest plate opened up, green energies poured in as the sound of lesser boosts bounced off the conclave plane.

"{BOOST!}" It glowed with only a small fraction of the welsh's true power, but a fraction of an ocean is still a lake. His voice overcame with the sound of a dragon's roar he unleashed it.

"{Longinus Cannon!}" Draig roared a great blast of emerald energy, however, even this small fraction was too much for Issie's body. His body spasmed and threw the beam off course, carving a line in the wall above the beast's head. The armor faded and Issie collapsed on his back, utterly exhausted. Mechanized footsteps walked up to Issie and smashed a bottle on his head. He yipped and sat up.

"What the hell!" He yelled at the beast, he then noticed his fatigue was all but gone.

"What the hell?" He asked in a more curious tone, but the beast did not let him marvel at this recovery. He smashed his drill just shy of where Issie's junk was. The message was clear, they were not done. Not by a long shot. Issie stood up and cracked his neck, the beast waiting patiently for him to be ready this time.

"All right, come at me!" He said to the beast, the metal giant almost sounded like it was chuckling before it charged.

[Pov swap, Third person]

Unknown to the boosted gear user, all his companions were fighting against foes that would not bend until they pushed past their limits. Rias and Sona had the Forsaken Prince of Oryx, throwing their magic back at them. Never giving even a speck of ground to the devils. Only overwhelming power of destruction could break through his carapace, and only the waters of the deepest sea could stop his dying stars

Kiba and Xenovia shared the same mentor, the last member of Laughing Coffin. Even against two swordsmen, he held them back and smacked them down. They, to him, were not even worth the time to play with. Yet his master ordered them so he shall obey. His role was to improve their overall strengths, and specifically their swordsmanship.

Akeno was face to face with a Dragon King that brought down more heavenly fury than her lightning could be considered. Her bolts passed through his scales harmlessly. His flames burned through her robes, but he hoped for her false pride. She could not hope to survive without using her half breed power. Unlike his comrades, he would listen to his master's words to the letter, and if she did not adapt, she would be little more than cinders.

Koneko was chased by the hound of hell. Her fists did little to the three-headed hound, speed was her greatest weakness, and the hound would force her to use that strength to propel her further, and if he made her use her nekosha magic then all the better. The Hound was not worried about that idea, only to quicken the pace, he was getting bored with catching the kitten only to let her go.

Wraith meanwhile had a far more, interesting student. Instead of ripping her apart, he was assigned to Asia. Sanji just happened to be the perfect test dummy for her to use her gear. Wraith would carve through Sanji's flesh every time his cord would fail to hold him back, and the nun would quickly heal him. Even though Wraith had volunteered for this position, he only realized how little worthy blood he'd truly be able to taste.

For the rest, they were thrown to the Nazgul's capable hands. Every cut from their swords risked the devils becoming one of them, true they had seen as such during the fight between their master and Riser. Of course, they omitted that only in their King's presence could a new shade be added, but of course, they kept that to themselves. Their fear was a grand motivator for them to improve in all aspects. Especially when the HellKites were introduced.

Yet the devils were not the only ones being trained so ruthlessly. Their 'gracious' host himself is also pulling the weight of two worlds as he battles his partner in ruthless mortal combat.

And yet above in the atmosphere of the very planet. A third party sharpens his sword, for teeth can always be sharpened. A King waits with bated breath for a battle where his ideology will truly be proven. Either by his own hand or by the blade of the one who shall slay him. They both cannot exist, the die has long since been cast on that alliance. A new King shall sit upon the taken throne.

'Whether it shall be me reborn by his power, or that crafty death. Let our battle please the Dark, the Void, and whatever moniker it may refer itself to.' The King thought to himself, the soul fire of his quarters snuffed out so he may concentrate on his craft. Sparks from his sword on the whetstone of his finest Knight's head, the only of two persistent lights. The second, the King's own pale fire eyes. The glint of battle clear in the reflection of his sword, the climactic battle draws nearer and as it does. The clock on the world reads 11:30 pm. Thirty minutes till midnight.


{Time left till the second invasion. 9 days and 2 hours}


[A hold over till the next chapter is finished. I had planned to release them both around the same time, but let's just say I've had a few...difficulties lately. See you all soon my lovelies.]