Disclaimer: I do not own DanMachi or any of Omori's original characters, nor do I make any profit off of my writing.
Everything seemed normal at first.
Bell woke up just as he did every other day. He always awoke before the rest of his familia, so today was no different. The lack of sound coming from within the walls of the Hearth Mansion was unconcerning.
The lack of noise from outside, however, was.
Even waking up at the early hours he did, there was always something. The whistle of a vendor setting out stock. The thud! of a crate hitting the ground after slipping through the fingers of a still-waking worker. The scuffs of boots shuffling over the cobblestone streets. It didn't matter what, not really.
.. yet today there was nothing.
A strange feeling settled over Bell's mind as he sat up in bed, one of his arms raising up so he could rub the sleep from his eye. Something was missing, but what? It felt crucial, it was something important, he knew it, so why couldn't he place it? Why couldn't he figure out what it was?
He could make out the faint chirping of the bird who'd made her nest in the inner courtyard. The sound echoed across the building's walls, drifting out and up. The waves exploded outward quietly, slowly expanding and dissipating through the skies. The soft, pillowy clouds that filtered the dawn light absorbing the noise and once again blanketing the city in silence.
It was so.. quiet.
He noticed it but he hadn't. That was it, wasn't it? He could hear the bird, already fussing over her young. He could hear it. He could.
Why couldn't he hear anything else?
Why did everything so quiet? So blank?
There was always a feeling in the city, in the air. Bell wasn't sure where to place it, nor where it came from. He wasn't even sure how he could feel it. It wasn't a sound, it wasn't something he could touch. It was a hum, a thrum, a power. It simply was. There was a feeling, a notion, an idea. There was a something in the air, something that waned and ebbed and flowed always.
Perhaps it had something to do with the blessing bestowed upon him by his goddess, perhaps it didn't. Perhaps it had something to do with the way adventurers could sense strength in a way, how he always knew who was and was not out of his league.
But perhaps it didn't.
But there was always a feeling in the city.
There was always a feeling in the air.
And it wasn't.
That feeling. That hum. That thrum. That power.
It was gone.
Gone like the voices of the early risers. Gone like the grumbles of the exhausted.
Bell hesitated as he reached for the hem of his blanket, ready to pull it from atop his legs. Apprehension stayed his hand, keeping him from moving, but it was fear that got it moving. He was apprehensive when it came to finding out the truth, but he feared the alternative.
He took a breath to calm himself as he placed a palm against his bedroom door. He wasn't in any immediate danger. He knew that much. His blessing did not burn on his back. Escape did not empower his movements. There weren't any monsters nearby.
Maybe he was in some kind of dream? Or was this a vision? Nothing seemed different, not really. His bedroom was the same, what little he'd seen of the green through his window had proven similar.
Briefly, he pressed his forehead against the cool wood and exhaled, his eyes fluttering closed as he did. Then, with all the strength he could muster, he straightened his back, held his head high, and marched from the room.
The closest room to him was Welf's.
The next was Hestia's, the goddess having insisted she keep the closest room between the boys and girls to ensure nothing untoward was happening.
Mikoto and Haruhime's.
Fine. That's fine. It didn't mean anything bad had happened, only that they'd all woken up earlier.
He checked the kitchen. The lounge. The baths. The forge. The courtyard. The dining hall. The entry. The yard. The baths again. The ballroom. The kitchen again. The storage room. The bedrooms they never used.
He walked around the city, only an eerie silence to keep him company. There were no patrons in the Café Wishe. There were no young couples meeting up in the Amor Square for breakfast. The market district by his home was devoid of life. The door to the Pallum's Hidden Tavern was ajar and the lights were off.
He turned toward the north.
The Hostess. The Blue Pharmacy. The Guild. The Hephaestus Familia store. The Dian Cecht pharmacy.
Everyone was gone. Everyone but him. It didn't make any sense, why was he left behind? Why him? He wasn't anything special, there wasn't any reason for it to be him and only him.
(He never considered that there may not be a reason.)
(He never considered there wasn't.)
Hestia. Eina. Lili. Welf. Mikoto. Haruhime. Aiz. Syr. Ryuu.
Gone. They were all he had left, and they were gone.
It was getting dark.
At some point the day had been swept away, the evening sun setting over the western wall and dipping over the horizon. Bell wasn't sure when exactly, he couldn't bring himself to care either. He'd been wandering for hours, dead eyes swiveling back and forth over the streets, trying to take in any bit of life he could find.
Each empty alley only brought on more questions. Was this the work of the gods? Some kind of divine providence?
His brain had lulled to a stand-still as the day wore on, his thoughts slowing and stagnating to a halt as grief overwhelmed him. Could he really go one alone? The city was the last bastion that protected the world from the horrors that crawled the caverns beneath Babel. Could he really hope to keep that up? He'd feared what he may find should he delve into the dungeon, he hoped, he prayed, he wished that if the gods had any mercy, the monsters would have disappeared too. But he knew. He knew deep in his heart that it wasn't the case. That it was only a matter of time before Ouranos's prayers ran dry and the surface was once again under siege from the monsters.
Could he really hope to keep that from happening?
Did he even want to try?
He could accept it now, he could accept his end and graciously move on to the next life, to the next world. He didn't know if Tenkai still existed, for all he knew it could be gone too. Or maybe it was there and just as empty as this plane. He just didn't know. Perhaps it was gone, perhaps if he died there would be no eternal life, there would be no rebirths, there would simply be end.
That didn't sound so bad either.
Bell paused, his right boot scuffing along the cobblestone street as he stopped walking. He turned, glancing back toward the flash of orange that caught his eye.
She was seated in the branch of a tree, nestled amongst the green of its leaves and the white of its trunk. Her face was turned toward the heavens, but her eyes remained shut, tear tracks glistening under the starlight.
The realization struck a moment later. A person. Not only that, but—
She startled, her eyes shooting open as she turned and stared wide-eyed down at the frozen boy. He wasn't sure if she meant to speak or not, regardless a quiet 'I thought I was the only one' drifted with a change in the air, spinning around his body as the wind curled up and caressed his cheek. The two stared at one another a moment longer, pools of dark blue staring into banquets of red. In a louder voice, she spoke again. "Are you real?"
He took a moment just to make sure he heard her right. Yes. He was. At least he thinks, everything had been so very weird that could he honestly answer that with any amount of certainty?
She nodded and closed her eyes again. "So, you are."
He wasn't sure what led her to that answer, whether it be his confusion or his fear.
"They're all gone. Riveria. Aiz. Tiona and Tione. Finn. Gareth. Alicia. Elfy. Filvis. Even Loki."
Bell nodded solemnly, not trusting his voice to voice the names of his own who he'd lost. He wasn't sure where the elfess got the strength, but he admired her for it.
He slowly made his way to the tree, pausing just beneath it as he laid his palm against the bark of the trunk, whispering out a single word.
Where Bell expected a flash of light, he received nothing. Where Bell expected his skin to glow with a red light, illuminating veins and bones as the light bled through his skin and muscle. Nothing changed. He removed his hand, observing through tired eyes as the unburned bark of the tree was revealed.
He turned back to his fellow abandoned. "We should leave. Check out other towns, see if there are others."
Lefiya hummed but didn't move, instead choosing to turn her gaze back to the heavens.
Bell was undeterred. "We should check out libraries, see if we can learn something. There's still a chance we can—"
"You're a very hopeful human, aren't you, Bell Cranel?"
He paused, his rubellite eyes drifting away from the blackened bark up to his companion. "If I do not hope, then who will? Everything will be fine, Lefiya."
(He ignored the way that even his hope seemed to be false at this point.)
(He ignored the way it felt like he was just pretending to believe.)
Another hum echoed from her throughout as she slipped from her perch and landed on the ground, barely making a sound. She stared him down impassively from just beside him, her right shoulder lining up with and nearly brushing against his left.
"Where do you suggest then, human?"
He thought for a moment and turned to face away from her. Glancing over his shoulder, his eyes met Lefiya's once again, the same dead look shared between them.
Then he pulled his shift off.
Bell shrugged, a huff escaping his lips as his lips twitched upward every so slightly. "My blessing, can you read it?"
She shook her head. "There's nothing to read."
"So, that's why."
Lefiya blinked before realization dawned on her. It was no wonder the world had seemed so much heavier, so much smaller.
Their blessings had vanished alongside the rest of the world.
Bell nodded. "To the bay of Faeries then."
Lefiya watched him with no small amount of scrutiny, her eyes narrowing with suspicion as he pulled his shirt back over his head and hid his back from view. "Why do you want to go there?"
"This city will fall soon, we don't have much time to prepare. If we can find elven texts we may be able to use ancient magic to return your congenital magic to you. Our best hope is to put as much distance between us as and that tower as possible before the wards fail, if there were more of us I'd hope we could sail to another of the continents, but until we know if there are.. "
He trailed off but the elf understood what he meant. The two of them would not be enough to escape over the seas, not when ships typically required a full crew, and not when neither of them had ever sailed before.
He was right to, she could feel it. Her access to her magic had been cut off. Without the ancient elven rituals to provide magic without the blessing of the gods, her connection had been severed. The texts preserved in the libraries of the forests were their best bet of survival. Lefiya was useless with a sword, she'd train but there was no way to make up the difference so quickly.
She noticed Bell's head had turned down to face his palms; before she had the chance to peak over his shoulder he spoke again. "We'll need weapons too. I'll collect some Crozzo's, can you get me knives from you familia?"
There was a shift in his arms as he turned to face her, one of them sneaking behind his back to sheath whatever blade he had in his hands. Lefiya ignored the mournful look in his eyes as she nodded. Even if the idea of carrying around such magic swords disgusted her, she would do it.
"I'll meet you at the eastern gate then, human."
If Bell noticed how her voice didn't have the usual bite to it, he didn't say anything. There was no use in pointing out the obvious, both of them were already resigning themselves for disappointment.
They weren't going to find other survivors.
Only they remained.
Two adventurers, blessingless and alone, against a world that was about to be overrun with monsters.
They released the horses at the eastern stables, keeping only two behind with them to ride. Both of them expected an argument to erupt on whether or not to ride to the other gates and release the remaining horses.
Neither of them got what they expected.
Bell couldn't allow an animal to suffer a needlessly painful death, he simply couldn't abide by allowing another to starve when he could do something about it. Call it heroism, call it nobility, call it a virtue, he honestly didn't really care, it just wasn't right.
Lefiya was much the same, yet altogether different. Elves were never overly fond of the domestication of animals, of forcing them into pens and stables and keeping them there for the benefit of man. It wasn't hard to see the hypocrisy in the sentiment, the fact that ancient elven mages used to ride horses and elk into battle was not lost on her. But they went about things differently even then, their mounts were free to leave if they pleased, they were never tied down. It was a bond of mutual trust. Mutual understanding. The elves fed them, groomed them, but they did not own them. In return for their treatment, their steeds ran into battle alongside their elven companions.
So, they wasted half a day working their way between the stables within the walls of the city. The walls that were said to never fall. The walls that were meant to hold back monsters for the rest of time.
So much for that.
The farms outside of the city were next. Bell and Lefiya knew, they knew, that when the surface was breached none of this would matter. But they hoped, they hoped that it would at least make some difference. That at least some of the animals would escape the hordes of monsters that would pour forth.
They ignored that.
They ignored the truth.
They kept riding in silence.
It took five days to reach the first town.
(Somewhere in the back of his mind, Bell recognized it as the one he was born in. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Bell recognized the hills he'd roll down, staining his shirt; the cabin he and his grandfather lived together in; the village he abandoned which no abandoned him.)
(It wasn't like remembering would fix it.)
It was empty.
They didn't bother searching for clues as to what happened. As to why it happened. It wouldn't matter. Maybe people would return one day, maybe they wouldn't. It changed nothing in the here and now. They needed to survive (why?) and keep pressing forward (for what reason?). The Bay of Faeries was another three weeks' ride away.
They debated, briefly, whether to retrace their steps and go westward, maneuvering around the Alv mountains to the north and journeying to the Alf's Royal Forest. Without a boat, though, they'd be trapped on the wrong side of the Bay of Faeries, with their backs to the sea. The remaining elven forests of note were all on the eastern side, as was the city of mages, Altena.
It was another two days of riding before either of them spoke again.
She had stopped calling him human at some point, he can't really say when. Or why. Just that it happened.
"Can you tell me everything will be fine, again?" Then, in a softer voice. "Please?"
It was another nine days before they passed the next city, the largest since they left Orario. Santorio Vega. The Amusement City. Bell had once heard it said that the city was never truly quiet, never truly dark, even in the dead of night. It was said that their parks were the grandest of any. That they giant circular constructions that spun and lifted you into the heavens. That their casinos were even more beautiful than the most beautiful in Orario.
They didn't bother seeing if it was true.
They didn't bother checking for survivors.
They didn't need to confirm what they already knew.
They found a small inn at the outskirts of town and tied their horses to a fence post. Bell bit back a laugh when Lefiya glared at him, grumbling something or other about 'not having enough time to develop the sacred bond to ensure he doesn't leave.' Bell was pretty sure she just understood the convenience of tying up a horse and knowing it'll be there versus hoping it won't realize its food grows from the ground basically everywhere.
The inn was small, but they already knew that from the outside. The interior was quaint, warm, even without a fire lit in the hearth.
Bell spent more than a few minutes staring at the fire when it was finally lit – a combination of a knowledgeable elf and a lot of rubbing sticks. He couldn't say how long he spent watching the tinder crack and burn and ash over the stone beneath it. All he knew were days spent around a hearth, surrounded by his family.
If Lefiya noticed how quiet he was, she didn't say anything. She knew exactly what he was going through.
After all, they were all the other had left, weren't they?
She busied herself while he was lost in the past. Her search through the kitchen proved beneficial, finding more than a few preserved foods to stuff in their packs. She found clothes too, in what was probably the owner's room, and she set them aside before drawing a bath.
One of her hands dipped into the water, gauging the temperature. She almost allowed herself a smile at the almost foreign luxury. It was strange how only a few weeks seemed enough to forget all of the things she'd taken for granted before. Just the thought of cleaning herself was euphoric.
She considered beginning her bath right then and there. The water was the perfect temperature. It was clean. She couldn't be blamed for wanting to dive in right away.
Lefiya went off in search for her companion.
Her voice was quiet, she found it often was these days. She wasn't sure how she was supposed to feel about that.
It took Bell a moment too long to respond and the elf fully emerged from behind the corner she was peeking around to approach him. She stopped directly before him, cutting off his view of the hearth, and leaned forward so she could stare up into his eyes.
"Bell, I drew you a bath and laid out some clothes. You should go wash up before it gets cold."
He did, thanking her with little more than a smile as he passed.
She didn't cry when he was gone.
The water was cold by the time she got her turn and whatever magic crystal had been heating it had stopped working. Still, Lefiya allowed herself an almost-smile as she bathed, happy to have helped in the little she could.
It felt like he'd been doing most of the work this journey. Even though she was the older of the two. Even though she was more experienced. It was always Bell. She didn't want it to always be Bell. She wanted to carry her own weight too.
"Can you tell me about them?"
The fire had been dwindling when she'd returned, but Bell was quick to throw more wood into it when her wet hair caused her to shiver.
She wasn't sure what the exact date was, she'd stopped keeping track at the start of this all, but she knew winter would soon be upon them. The raid on Knossos had happened in late November, it hadn't been much longer before the disappearance. Maybe winter had already started, she didn't know, she was just thankful that the continent had always been rather temperate. So long as they didn't journey to the northern reaches of the land they should be fine.
Bell hummed from his position on the couch. "Them?"
"Your family. I.. never knew much about them before.. "
The boy nodded.
"Hestia was.. loud. Excitable. Immature." A pause. "The only mother I ever had." He didn't pull his eyes away from the flames as he spoke, in fact, he seemed to lean closer as he went on. Maybe they brought out nostalgia, or maybe he simply wanted something to blame for the tears collecting in his eyes. "All she ever wanted to do was help us, provide for us, be the best goddess we could ask for. She gave me this," he pulled out the knife she saw him holding the first day but hasn't used since. Not when they were hunting, not when they needed to cut cloth to bandage Bell after he protected her during a particularly nasty run-in with monsters. "Heck, I don't even remember how much it cost her. I suppose it doesn't matter now; Hephaestus isn't here to collect the debt."
When Lefiya stretched a hand out in the air between them, she didn't even need to ask, the knife was laid gently in her palm. She observed it as Bell continued to speak, taking in the black sheen of the mithril blade, the faded hieroglyphs that decorated its edge.
"It was forged using Hestia's hair and ichor. It's alive."
The elf pulled her gaze away from the blade and up to the boy.
A nod. "It was linked to my falna. Growing stronger with the strength of my blessing. Could only be used by a member of the Hestia familia. So now.. "
Lefiya pressed her finger into the edge as Bell trailed off, surprised by how dull it was. Not even a cut.
Bell pressed on.
"Lili was my supporter. A little spitfire." He barked out a laugh. "When we first met, she robbed me. Then, when that didn't work she trapped me in the dungeon and made off with that dagger."
Lefiya leveled him with an incredulous, open-mouthed stare that had him immediately backtracking. "We made up!"
For some reason, that didn't make her feel any better.
They continued like that for a while, going back and forth as they told stories about their own familias. Their own families. Laughing, crying, reminiscing. Lefiya would duck her head when she was forced to recall something embarrassing, and Bell wouldn't relent until she told him what. As penance, Bell was forced to tell embarrassing stories of his own. Running from Aiz covered in minotaur's blood after she saved his life, running from Aiz after waking up in her lap, running into Aiz as he tried to escape her in the guild. Funnily enough, most of his stories had to deal with Aiz.
Even stranger, Lefiya found she wasn't as upset as she would've been in the past as she heard of the special moments Bell spent with their shared idol. Perhaps it was because she was too numb to care, perhaps it was because she's accepted that she may never see the girl again, perhaps it was just because she'd finally come to understand Bell. She didn't really know the reason, just that it was.
"Did you love her?"
"I did. She saved my life, I think I was doomed to from the start."
"I think she loved you too."
And she did. She really did. Lefiya had never seen Aiz act the ways she did around Bell any other time. She had been jealous at first, jealous that some random boy that showed up out of nowhere could make Aiz happier than she'd been able to achieve in years of friendship. Now though, she was just glad. Glad that before all of this happened, Aiz finally got the chance to be happy. Well and truly happy. She was just happy Aiz had somebody who loved her as Bell had.
"Did you have anybody to love, Lefiya?"
And she did. She really did.
It might've been Aiz once, when she was still confused about her own feelings, but she knew that wasn't the case.
Filvis. Dear Filvis. Nobody ever understood her sorrow. They understood why she cried over the death of her friend, sure, but they didn't understand why she wept. Why she couldn't just get back up and press on. Why the second death hit just as hard as the first.
They didn't understand why she cried more for the life Filvis had lived than the unjust death she suffered.
But if anybody was going to understand, anybody at all, it was going to be Bell, wasn't it? The one who went to war against the city to protect a monster? If anybody was going to understand why she cared so deeply and why her heart broke all over again when she thought of the ebony-haired elf.
And as she told the story of the fair elf, her eyes never left Bell's. A red so similar yet so different from the woman she once loved (loves?).
He cried at the end. For the first time, Lefiya felt like somebody got it. They understood. They cried over the fate of the creature and the elf, two halves of the same coin, yet neither no less important, no less good.
That night they fell asleep on the couches before the fire, forgoing the comfort the beds would have provided in preference for the company of the other. Neither commented on how they were too scared to be alone, on how they feared that if they lost sight of the other, they'd disappear like the rest of them.
Neither of them commented on how they were coming to rely on the other and that they couldn't really think of a life where the other wasn't there.
The Wishe forest was just as beautiful as Lefiya remembered. She paraded Bell around the city of trees, showing him all of the sights she'd once dreamed of showing Filvis.
(Her heart hurt a little bit less every time she thought of her.)
She showed him where she once lived, where she'd gone to play, where she'd watched the village elders practice the ancient ways of magic. She smiled when she noticed Bell was completely enraptured with her home and she stomped her foot and pouted when he nervously revealed they'd already been to his.
Neither of them commented on how Lefiya had been dragging him around by the hand the entire time, nor how they'd forgotten their entire purpose for traveling there on the first day.
And the second.
And the third.
But that was okay. They'd find the libraries soon and Lefiya would study harder than Riveria has ever asked of her so she could protect Bell in the ways he'd been protecting her. He'd helped her train to fight, sure, but she wasn't built for close quarters. She had Filvis's wand, sure, and she had her sword, yes, but she'd never gotten the chance to train with either. Not in any way that counts.
But she'd finally be able to carry her weight.
For now, she was content.
She's stopped asking Bell to tell her everything was going to be fine after that night in the inn. They were a month into their journey, if things were going to return to normal they would have. Things weren't going to change, but that wasn't why she stopped.
She simply knew that everything was going to be fine.
So long as Bell stayed by her side.
It was almost funny.
Before this all happened, she never would have dreamed of choosing Bell Cranel, the human, of all people to be her companion at the end of the world. She probably would have scoffed, would have sneered. It wasn't a pretty thought. She probably would have shouted something stupid and mean like 'even if you were the last man in the world, I'd still never love you.'
Oh, how wrong she was.
Now, she couldn't imagine any other person being at her side through this all. She doubted even her friends would have been able to keep her as sane, as happy, as the human had.
And she knew, she knew, even without hearing it, that Bell felt the same.
They couldn't ever be sure that they would have turned out the same way had things happened differently. They could never be sure that it wasn't the circumstances that drove them together, but it didn't bother her, and it certainly didn't bother Bell.
It was likely the end of the world.
And Lefiya was happy.
She didn't know if the others would ever return, she didn't even know how much longer she and Bell would survive. Was there still an afterlife? Where would they go if (when) they die?
She found it didn't matter. None of it did. If the others came back, they came back, and Lefiya would weep with joy should the day ever come. And if they didn't, they didn't.
She had Bell. Bell had her.
If all else failed, they still had each other. Their family.
And their family wouldn't be expanding, not unless a miracle happened. They would never choose to bring a child into a world where they would have to live alone. Bell had Lefiya. Lefiya had Bell. They couldn't imagine what it would've been like if they hadn't had each other. So, no, no children.
For once, Bell found he didn't mind the thought.
It was likely the end of the world.
And Bell was happy.
How strange was that?
It's midnight here, I hope you read this and cried yourself to sleep.