Helen and Deneve had put a considerable distance between themselves and the team they had saved. While Helen knew the place, having that Dietrich kid acting as their guide was a sound decision in her mind. They knew Luciela of the South has been… dethroned in a sense by Isley of the North and said former Abyssal One of the South was now staying with Riful. Outside of that, she and Deneve knew nothing, so having someone like Dietrich around was a good move.

Helen looked at the girl ahead of them. She was taking her duty as a guide utterly seriously. From the looks of it, she didn't appear to sense that huge amount of youma energy radiating somewhere up ahead. Unseen by her, and Deneve for that matter, Dietrich was trying her damn best to keep herself reserved; if she did a good job then there was a good chance they'll lead her to the Youma Hunter!

Dietrich, apparently, didn't detect the youki aura...

"So, kid," Helen called out, prompting Dietrich to look at Helen from over the shoulder, "since it's obvious you've been around for a while, that means you know what happened here in the past seven years right?"

Dietrich slowly nodded, "To some degree, yes, I suppose I do." she looked ahead and added, "If you are looking for information from me then what I can say is that the South has greatly changed in the past seven years."

Deneve and Helen exchanged looks. That was… ominously vague. "Changed? What do you mean by that? Changed how?" the former asked, as she looked at Dietrich's back.

The Number 8 came to a sudden stop, prompting the former Numbers 15 and 22 to come to a stop as well, and Dietrich turned around to address them. The serious look, complete with thin white lines on her lip, told Deneve and Helen that she was about to say something serious.

And they were right, "First, half of the towns in the South were wiped out. Secondly, I recommend that you do not go any further south."

Both Helen and Deneve were in complete and utter disbelief. The first one was surprising as fuck to them because that was the first time they heard of it. The recommendation of them not venturing further south, on the other hand, was not surprising since the direction they're heading in right now is exactly where the youki aura is.

Being the expressive one of the two, a wide-eyed and open mouthed Helen was the one who spoke, "What… Half the towns? What the hell happened?!"

"The specific reason for half the towns of Mucha being wiped out are unknown to me. I only know the results. But I do, however, have some theories." That got the attention of the former Claymores. "When Isley of the North usurped the South from Luciela, there was a massive power vacuum between the Abyssals and the Organization. With the Organization losing much of their manpower in Pieta, they were unable to mobilize and seal the floodgates. As a result of that lack of manpower in the chaos that followed, youmas wandered unchecked. Entire villages were wiped out. Awakened Beings were able to infiltrate towns for weeks and empty them of their inhabitants."

"But… that's just a theory, right?" Helen asked.

"With some known facts included." Dietrich said with a confirmed nod and went to provide them with some examples, "When the South was usurped by the Abyssal One of the North it did leave a power vacuum. The Organization losing over half of their manpower in the North had left them unable to mobilize their forces in time to quell the Youma that ran rampant in regions that did not have a warrior stationed in it. And then there are the Awakened Beings; thanks to the Northern Campaign, the Awakened Beings are now a major priority. Once they are discovered, they are to be hunted down and killed at the first opportunity. They are mainly found in towns or in the wilderness."

Both women thought on the girl's words for a moment; Agatha, Riful, Elda, and Luciela. Those three Awakened Beings Naruto killed to save that team the colour head was in, back in Alphonse… those were the recent examples of Awakened Beings being found in towns or in the wilderness.

"What are your other theories?" Deneve asked.

Dietrich closed her eyes and exhaled, "Another theory is that Isley had someone with him when he travelled south. Someone powerful." she opened her eyes and gave them a very serious look, "What I do know for a fact is that a demonic existence now dwells in the South."

Helen shook her head and smiled, her expression full of confidence, "I can't believe it. Half of them? Half! If half of all the towns are gone, that means we don't even know if mine or yours are still out there! We should probably go and check it out for ourselves."

Dietrich blinked as Helen and Deneve started walking again, "What? You're still going, despite my warning?" she asked as they walked past her.

"Visiting my hometown is what we came here for," Helen told the young woman, looking back at her with a smirk, "What did you expect? One warning and we would turn around and run away with our tails between our legs? And this 'demonic existence' of yours? We came all this way so we might as well find out what it is."

Dietrich looked alarmed, "But-"

"Hey, relax! We're not gonna pick a fight! We're just gonna go in, see what's what, and then get the hell out." And if something was to go wrong, they had that 'teleport seal' Naruto gave to them for emergencies. Helen looked ahead and pushed her way through some shrubbery with Deneve following close behind, Dietrich in wanting to stop them from making a possibly fatal mistake followed after them. When the three of them emerged from the other side the women found themselves on a cliffside that overlooked a nearby unwalled town, with trees and mountains in the distance.

"Speaking of which…" Helen added after she emerged, "there is a ridiculous amount of youki emitting from this town. It's just like what we felt before from Riful, isn't it? Or maybe even more than that."

"It could be the man who defeated Luciela. The Abyssal One of the South, Isley." guessed a deathly calm Deneve. The fact her best friend was acting more 'calm' than usual completely went over Helen's head.

The guess was based on logic; as Dietrich said to them before, Isley took Mucha from Luciela which made him the Man of the South as well as the North. Outside of Riful and Luciela there was no one else capable of putting out this intense amount of youki. As far as she knew that is.

The words from Deneve made Dietrich glance at her in alarm.

"Yeah, probably. He certainly counts as a demon." Helen said with a nod, then she looked to her best friend and asked, "So what should we do Deneve?"

The woman in question looked at her best friend from the corner of her eye, "What do you mean, what should we do?"

"Well, look!" Helen enthusiastically gestured to the still intact town below, "There may be a creature of the Abyss down there, but the town remains intact. He must be in human form, hiding quietly among the people." then Helen gave her friend a daring, narrow-eyed grin, "Don't you want to check it out...and see what this creature of the Abyss looks like?"

Deneve gave Helen a surprised look before sighing with irritation as she looked back down at the town, "You weren't listening to what Miria said at all, were you?"

"What? You're not even a little bit curious about him?"

Deneve tightly clenched her hand into a fist until her knuckles went white, "Don't be ridiculous." she hissed, glaring down at the town with tranquil fury, "He was the Abyssal One of the North. Even if we never faced him directly, he masterminded that battle. Our comrades who fell in the North… he was their ultimate enemy." not once did she raise her voice. Not once did she take her eyes off that town. But if looks could kill that town would be a damn crater in the Earth right about now.

Helen was rightfully alarmed and got right to getting Deneve to calm the hell down before she spikes her own youki, "H-hey! Calm down! I said before: we're not going to pick a fight with him! I just want to go in, get a little look, and then get the hell out. With our aura's suppressed like this he won't even notice us!"

"What?!" Dietrich cried out in alarm; they seriously cannot be thinking about sneaking in that town for a damn thrill! That's nuts! "What in the hell are you thinking! Don't do it!"

"I would listen to her if I were you," the three women jumped when they heard a woman speak; they all looked in the direction the voice came from, and a one-eyed woman emerged from the shrubbery. Her hairstyle is in a spiky-bob, that framed her heart-shaped but tomboyish face.

The woman wore the standard uniform the Organization gives to their forces, though hers was a little different. She had a sowbug-like buckle that held a three-layered spaulder, that was unique in the fact that the plates are stacked on the shoulder in reverse order than is usually seen. The design of her faulds skirt was also unique as they are layered on the hip in a sowbug manner and has a protective plate on the seat.

On her neck-dickie was a symbol both Helen and Deneve once saw etched into the ground nearly a decade ago by Phantom Miria, but had never seen in person and did hope to never see in person.

"N-Number 5 Rafaela!" Helen stammered out; why was she here? How come she didn't sense her?! Deneve was likewise thinking the same thing, but thanks to her calm headed nature, the former Number 15 realized Rafaela's youki aura was suppressed like theirs. No wonder they didn't sense her!

"What are you doing here?" It was Dietrich who asked that.

"It is not important," Rafaela replied with a dismissive tone, then she brought her one good eye to Helen and Deneve and added, "but what is important is keeping the two of you from entering that town,"

"Are you here to kill us?" Deneve asked and was more than ready to defend herself if the one-eyed warrior was.

She was pleasantly surprised, and relieved, when Rafaela shook her head, "No. On the contrary, I am looking for Luciela of the South for... personal reasons." she told the woman evasively, despite telling Dietrich moments earlier that her being in the South wasn't important.

"Were you following us? And if so, how much did you hear?" Dietrich asked.

"I wasn't initially. But when you seemingly abandoned your team I followed you from the shadows to see why." Rafaela looked back to Helen and Deneve, "Now I know." the woman then looked at all three of them, "As for how much I heard… It was enough. And it is a very bad idea for you two to go to that town." she said directing the last sentence to Helen and Deneve in particular.

"Oh? And why is that?" Helen questioned the older woman in a tone that sounded challenging.

"Because what Dietrich said is true," Rafaela revealed and she walked up to the edge of the cliffside to look down at the town where the Abyssal level aura dwelled, "There is a demonic existence in Mucha, but there is not just one, but many. It is a new weapon that the Organization developed for one purpose and one purpose only."

"What purpose is that?" Deneve asked.

"To kill the Abyssal Ones." Rafaela told her; Helen and Deneve were both shocked to hear that, and being the more expressive of the two Helen's mouth dropped open as she stared at the one-eyed woman, completely and utterly stunned at what she just heard.

Dietrich didn't look surprised to hear that at all. Unknown to either Helen or Deneve, she already saw them in action.

"Y-You're kidding? Right?" Helen couldn't wrap her head around it; what weapon is strong enough to kill an Abyssal One?!

"No. I am completely serious." Rafaela replied. "This new weapon has engaged Isley of the North multiple times in Mucha already. Each encounter Isley had with them, he managed to drive them back, but with each encounter the weapon gains experience and adapts to the way their prey fights. Little by little, these battles have worn down the Abyssal One of the North… and now he is on his last legs."

"And since he's in his human form, and in that town below..." Deneve said as the gears began to turn, "he must still be recovering and is hiding from them."

"Yes." Rafaela didn't bother denying it.

"So why is it a bad idea for us to go down there if he's recovering?" outside of the obvious, Helen didn't understand why going down there was a bad idea.

"The Organization's weapon is on the hunt for Isley as I speak." Rafaela told her, "They will reach the town below very soon where they will engage Isley of the North once more."

"Not to mention hiding your auras away from a Creature of the Abyss won't be enough," Dietrich added, and throwing what should have been common knowledge to the two out of touch women. "He still would have been able to identify who you are."

"Eh? You're sure about that? We've been suppressing our auras for the past seven years. There's no way he'd be able to detect us! We'd be like normal humans to him." Helen pointed out while she gave the young woman a look as if she had said something stupid.

"He's a Creature of the Abyss. A former Number 1. Do you seriously think hiding your auras would be enough to fool someone like that? He would be able to identify you the moment he spots you!"

Seeing there was going to be an argument unless someone was to step in, Deneve quickly changed the topic to something more important. "How many of them are there? And what is the name of this weapon you speak of?" she asked, the look Helen sent Deneve's way showed she knew what her best friend was trying to do.

It worked since it was Dietrich who answered, "The Organization tries to maintain eleven of them on the field at a time. The current eleven are not the original; they're conditioned to retreat from battle once they lose half of their numbers and the Organisation replaces the ones who are missing in action."

"Correct," Rafaela confirmed with a nod, "You have seen them in action before?"

"A few times here in Mucha, yes." Dietrich answered, before addressing Deneve, "As for their names… The Organization calls them 'Abyss Feeders'."

"Abyss Feeders…" Deneve tested the words on her tongue. Those words sounded ominous.

"So, uh, got any advice on how to deal with them?" Helen asked while trying to do her best to not sound nervous or scared. It was a remarkable attempt. Unless you knew where to look, such as her mildly shaking arms, one would assume Helen was not nervous in the slightest.

It was Dietrich who once again answered, "Whatever The Organization did to them has left the Abyss Feeders blind, but they have a good sense of smell to make up for that. As long as you don't have the scent of their target on you, then you should be fine. You should also remain completely still and not make a noise when you're confronted with one, otherwise, the other 10 will converge on your position and attack you, and will not stop until you are either dead or they've lost half their numbers. However, they do have an apparent weakness; because they're blind, rely on scent, and youki sensing they will be at a disadvantage against someone who is actively suppressing their youki."

"Okay, let me make a quick summary; they're blind; don't move or make any noise when one is in front of you; they are at a disadvantage against someone suppressing their youki. Don't get the smell of their target on you otherwise they'll mistaken you for their target and will attack you instead..." Helen summarised, then she looked between Rafaela and Dietrich, "That about it?"

"Yes." Dietrich answered with a nod.

"Okay. So, how do we know we've walked into one?" Helen asked.

"I'll make their description short; they're all female, their eyes and mouths are sewn shut, and they are barely wearing anything." Rafaela said with a shudder, "Trust me, it's very hard to miss them."

Helen and Deneve both believed her. They looked down towards the town and the two of them decided against going down there. With this view, the women would be able to see the Abyss Feeders make their approach.

"Alright, then in light of what I just learned, there's no way I'm going to that town," Helen stated; she was brave sure, sometimes to the point of being overconfident… and sometimes being stupid. But she knew when to call it quits. There was no goddamn way she was going to get in between a fight between the Abyssal One of the North and the Abyss Feeders.

"Diddo," Deneve added, much to the relief of Dietrich. Good, that was one potential life or death situation averted. Deneve then looked to the one-eyed warrior and asked, "Do you know when these 'Abyss Feeders' are going to come?"

The woman in question nodded in the affirmative, "They will arrive in that town in the next 30 minutes or so. Maybe less. Had you both forgone Dietrich's warning and gone down, by the time you got into the settlement the Abyss Feeders would have been on top of you. And if you had been discovered by Isley of the North and got into a fight with him, and got his scent on you…"

"They would have attacked us as well!" hissed Helen; yeah, now she's definitely not going down there. Talk about a close call! "So what do we do? Just stand here and watch?"

"We could always go away from here? Far, far away from here." Dietrich offered. She was really, really hoping they would take her offer. With half of the town's gone in Mucha there is a lot more danger zones now. The fact they were right next to one made her want to get as far away from it as humanly possible. Not to mention, it was very likely that the demons would be coming through here.

"I second that," said Rafaela; she looked back over her shoulder with a frown, "After all, I may have been mistaken about how much time it would take for the Abyss Feeders to arrive." Her one good eye darted from left to right searchingly. She didn't know why but she got a sudden chill up her spine.

"What do you-" Helen started, only for the rest of what she was going to say to die at the tip of her tongue when she, along with everyone else, heard the sounds many twigs snapping. It was faint at first but as the seconds ticked on by it that sound got louder and louder.

"Oh, damn it! They're here!" Dietrich cursed and she quickly looked at Helen and Deneve, "Don't move! Hold your breath and freeze!" she quickly told them, before Dietrich did as she instructed them to do.

Rafaela, knowing how dangerous those things are already, was already doing precisely that; holding her breath and remaining absolutely still as the Abyss Feeders made their way to them.

Seeing how serious the 'princess' and Rafaela were being, Helen and Deneve decided it was a good idea to follow suit and did as they were instructed to do. Not a moment later and all four of them saw eleven women emerging from the treeline. They were exactly as Rafaela described them to be; their eyes and mouths are sewn shut, and they are barely wearing anything. Some were even their chest bared for all to see. While they looked human at first glance, they were anything but as they gave off the sense of being completely and utterly inhuman. But what was even more shocking was the fact Helen and Deneve weren't able to sense them!

All eleven of them looked to be in their late teens to early 20s at most.

"What the hell? What...what are those things?" Helen thought as a single bead of sweat dripped down from the side of her head. She couldn't sense any youki, but their very presence made her hair stand up on end.

When the eleven Abyss Feeders walked over to them like a group of zombies, Helen's eyes darted over to Dietrich for a quick glance and saw the young woman was standing utterly still. One of them stopped beside Dietrich and Rafaela and much like a dog, sniffed at the air. Then she let out a low hiss from her bound lips before walking past her, and everyone else; all eleven of them leapt off the cliffside one by one and continued on their way to the town below.

After several of what felt like the longest seconds of their lives, the four women finally exhaled once the Abyss Feeders were at a safe difference.

"What the fuck were those things…?" a shaken Helen asked; she didn't know why but those women made her want to get the fuck out of dodge yesterday!

"Those… were the Abyss Feeders. The Demonic Presence I was telling you about." a shaken Dietrich answered. It wasn't her first time seeing those things, but they were still able to make her shake in her sabatons. "It should be safe to move now. Just don't make any sudden, quick movements. They react to those."

"Alright," Helen took a deep breath and she along with Deneve slowly walked away from the edge of the cliff. "I never thought I'd say this but those things scared me. They don't even have any auras! Just… what are those things?"

"It is as Rafaela told you; they are weapons that are made to kill the Abyssal Ones." Dietrich answered; she could only speculate, but the Organization took the corpses of the Awakened Beings that attacked Staff directly. The implications of that were too hard to ignore - the Abyss Feeders were made by using the flesh of Awakened Ones.

Deneve closed her eyes and said with a slight frown, "Hm. I don't pity that man." if Rafaela was right about Isley being on his last legs, chances of him dying in that town are high. She really hoped he would die. That bastard deserved it for orchestrating the Northern Campaign; for what he had done to them.

"Let's go, Helen, there's nothing we can do here." while it was cold of her to say so, that town was finished and she wasn't going to go and risk her life to save a bunch of nameless nobodies from Isley and the Abyss Feeders. Besides...this was something everyone else needed to know about, pronto.

"Uh… y-yeah." Helen looked back at her shoulder for a moment, before asking, "Shouldn't we stay here and observe from a distance? Just to make sure he's dead? We'd need confirmation of his death won't we?"

"We do, but I don't want to take that risk." Deneve told her friend. "We've already had enough close calls for one day as far as I'm concerned." That awakened one they took down with ease didn't count… but the two of them nearly running into Isley of the North and finding themselves briefly confronted with the eleven weapons made to kill Abyssal Ones did.

"Hm. Well, alright, then we best get moving now." said Helen, though the tone she used told Deneve her friend had wanted to do the opposite. As Helen, Deneve, Dietrich, and Rafaela started walking, with the youngest taking point, and Rafaela covering their flank the former Number 22 added, "We should still be able to sense him thanks to his aura being so big. So leaving or not, we should still be able to sense him until he either gets out of our range or he perishes."

"Hopefully it's the latter…" Deneve muttered under her breath with a dark look on her face.

Helen heard Deneve despite the low muttering and wisely kept her mouth shut. At least there was one silver lining about this; their youki is still suppressed, so the two of them are still invisible.

"So, uh, Rafaela… are you willing to tell us just what you're doing here in Mucha now?" Helen asked the one-eyed woman.

"No." the answer was short and sweet, and the tone she used showed the woman was not going to budge on the matter.

Seemingly putting the scare she felt behind her Helen shrugged and casually said, "Eh, alright. You already told us you were looking for the former Abyssal One of the South already, so we got some idea on what you're doing here anyway." Rafaela didn't say anything to that. She didn't need to since she had all but stated her intention on finding her sister. For what purpose Helen didn't know and it wasn't her business…though she should tell the one-eyed warrior that Luciela is with Riful of the West, but Helen didn't feel like it.

"I hope those things don't turn around and come for us." Deneve huffed. Despite it not being ten minutes yet, she had hoped those things were already engaging Isley of the North.

"They won't. I can assure you of that." Dietrich told the former Number 22 without taking her eyes away from in front of her. "As I said before: once they get the scent of their target, they will not stop until they've lost half of their number or until said target is dead."

Despite the reassurance from both Dietrich and Rafaela, Helen and Deneve were both skeptical. And for good reason since, outside of what was just said, they had little to no information about those things.

Something told the renegade warriors this wasn't going to be the last time they see or hear about those Abyss Feeders.