The call of his name ringing out in the still night air brought Mana slamming back into existence.
It was pain, unbearable, unspeakable agony. It tore through him, burning and shredding his very soul. He was a soul and nothing more; suddenly separated from where it belonged and pushed, forced mercilessly into an unholy mechanical shell. I don't have a body! God, no body… What's happening to me?! He was terrified and the fear vied for space in his mind with the pain; both pushing him closer and closer to madness.
There was an overwhelming sense of confinement. The thing that bound him was cold, metal and unnatural. In place of bones there was only a crude and malformed mockery of a skeleton. It was so cold it burned. He was trapped within it; it creaked and groaned as he moved. Let me go… please it hurts so much. Let me go! No matter how he struggled, he couldn't escape. There was no escape.
It was Hell; he had been torn from something wonderful and beautiful and sent to Hell. What did he do wrong? Why? I don't understand… it hurts. God make it stop, please make it stop! He couldn't remember exactly where he had been before this; just that it had been good. But it was gone and now there was only the pain. Please! Make it stop!
With eyes that weren't really there he saw who was responsible; who turned him into this… abomination, this crime against God and nature. How could he? Rage rolled over him in a hot wave, killing him, drowning him, forcing him over the edge.
"Allen…?" he choked with a voice box that wasn't there. "How dare you… turn me into an Akuma…?" he hissed. That was what he was, an Akuma. Allen had damned him, stole him from the light and forced him into blackness. Allen stole him from God's warm embrace; he hated him for it.
His pain obliterated all reason, all thought. In his agony and anger he lashed out, pleased when he felt flesh part and bathe his arm in a warm bath of gore. Yes…
"Mana… you came back. I missed you." Allen's small voice cut through the pain; it briefly brought him back to himself. The boy smiled despite his ruined face; his eye was gone, just a bloody socket, bone glinted sickly white where Mana had sliced clean through, shredded muscle from his cheek hung loose like grotesque ribbons. His remaining eye was dead and his smile was empty. He knew he had done something wrong, something very bad. He stumbled back weakly, but he still smiled and reached for the monster. "Mana…" he would accept anything Mana would do to him.
"Allen!" he screamed; it hurt so much. "How could you do this!?" He had no skin, no body; his soul was violently stripped bare and exposed to the elements. The very air burned and all he felt was white hot hatred. How could he do this me?! Insufferable little monster, he did this to me! "I curse you!"
The boy was sprawled in the snow, turning the white snow red as he bled out. His injuries were rapidly sending him into shock. "I curse you, Allen Walker!" His child trembled and tilted back his head; he exposed his pale throat, inviting him to strike. Mana should kill him for doing this… no, Allen why?
The boy's bloodless lips mouthed a barely audible "please kill me Mana, I miss you. I messed up. Father, let me come with you… kill me."
"Yes…" a cheerful voice spoke from behind him. It resonated through Mana's being, rattling his soul. "Kill the boy, take his skin and wear it. Kill him now." It commanded him and controlled him; compelling him to move. Yes… he needed skin, a body. His form was incomplete; he needed to take the missing pieces. That would ease his agony. The deep voice was laughing brightly. "Kill him."
It wasn't right. And he knew it. No… Mana fought it, pushing back the weight of the command. He had been back long enough now; some of the initial shock of his abrupt return had worn off. His mind was slowly clearing and he could think a bit through the pain.
He had to regain control; his soul was his own and not someone else's to control. Though he felt the desire to obey it and end his suffering so strongly, he knew it wasn't really his; he didn't want it. It wasn't his hatred. Its Allen… God, I took his eye… I won't do this. I'm not a monster! I won't hurt him. Digging deep, he searched out the coldness in him; it seemed like it would let him fight the laughing thing's voice. The ice in his veins that he fought so hard to bury in life would soothe the burn; give him time to think. He needed time; if he could just think, he'd figure out what to do.
"Kill me father, please I want to die… it hurts." Allen tugged his collar, showing more pale skin begging to be slashed open. "It hurts!" Allen's remaining eye widened, he convulsed and he screamed as a seizure took him. He kept screaming, high and wordless.
Then the impossible happened. With a horrible cracking sound, the boy's arm transformed. The little cross wound glowed achingly bright; bones shattered and reformed, muscle and skin stretched, tore and reconstructed. There should have been blood, but there was none. It all wavered and changed structure, the hand enlarging and fingers lengthening all accompanied by Allen's cries of pain and terror.
Moving on its own accord, the monstrous appendage crawled towards him like some kind of nightmarish spider dragging a frightened and scarcely conscious child behind it and Mana knew what must be done. He shouldn't exist. "Destroy me." It took all his strength to stay still and let it come to him. "Destroy me!"
He was ready when it struck. It didn't register much over the pain already racing through him, just a jolt and harsh crack. Its aim was off as Allen fought for control; it only crushed his lower half and knocked him aside. With a groan he dragged his ruined parody of a body closer to make himself an easier target. He would help the boy kill him. The next hit should do it. All he had to do was stay still. Part of his pain addled mind was still screaming at him to just kill the child, but he could control it. He did this to me… no, I shouldn't be here. Come on Allen. Come kill the monster… destroy me!
"Mana?!" Allen shrieked. He glanced horrified at his left arm. "Stop!" he cried. "Leave Mana alone!" He dug his other hand into the frozen earth and tried to hold himself back. Mana didn't trust himself to move; he might lash out. The mechanical thing he was trapped in was fighting his mind.
Allen gasped and hissed with the effort of holding himself back. His fingernails broke and bled, but he still held tight and dug in. "Run…" he screamed again as his shoulder dislocated with a wet pop. "Run, Father, run!" he shouted in desperation as he lost control. Even then Allen still wanted to save him.
"Allen… I love you." The monstrous hand was already around him, ready to snap shut like a trap. "Please destroy me." With an overwhelming bone crushing force, Allen set him free.
All the pain evaporated and Mana was left floating. I cursed him… what have I done? Let him see… let him see I'm free; that he saved me. I can't take it back, but let it be a blessing instead. Let him see I'm free now.
Mana was being drawn back to where he had been so cruelly torn from. It was a familiar and comforting feeling, like going home after a long trip. He sighed and let it carry him away. A little shred of him stayed to watch and he knew that where he was going he would be able to watch over his child always.
Thank you Allen; you set me free. You've saved me. Keep moving forward; I know you can.
i thought i'd put my last set of comments here at the bottom, to keep the flow between chapters smooth. what a strange and bittersweet journey its been. i hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as i enjoyed writing it. mana's story had been floating around in my head for such a long time now. its almost a relief to have it all out. i know at this point you're all thinking,'what happened to everyone else?' since this is mana's story it ends with him. i'm starting my next story soon. it will sort of pick up where this one left off and tie up all the loose ends. i hope you'll all follow me to it.
thank you all again, it is because of my reviewers that i kept my updates on a fast schedual and let my story go on so long. my story is dedicated to you, my readers. you made this possible. thank you.