Disclaimer - I do not own DGM

Chapter Fourteen - Truth Revealed

Mana blinked a couple of times as he heard these words. He was completely shocked by the red head's abrupt change in demeanor and made no attempt to hide this fact from the man. He was too busy trying to figure out what had caused this change in the man, who until now had seemed intent on gaining possession of the book and being on his way. So why exactly had that changed? "Why would you say such a thing?"

"Because I'm familiar with the Clan of Noah," he replied in a gruff voice, gesturing toward a fallen log that was positioned beside the path. It was clear that he wanted Mana to sit down on the log so that the two of them could have a frank discussion about what was going on. "And they're dangerous…"

His curiosity piqued Mana moved over to the fallen log that the man had gestured toward, sitting down and clutching the book to his chest in a protective manner. He couldn't help but think that this might be a trap, meant to decrease his guard so that the red head could steal the book and Mana resolved to protect against this. "What's so dangerous about them?"

Granted Mana wasn't familiar with any of the others, only knowing exactly how many of them there were because his brother had mentioned being an 'extra', but he knew that his brother didn't pose a threat and so was finding it hard to believe that the others did.

"First off you should know that this substance known as Innocence that you seem so determined to find information on is a weapon," the red head stated. Walking over to the log he sat down on the end opposite Mana, making an attempt to lessen the threat that he posed so that the guy would just relax already. Because the fact that he was always on guard, while the smart thing to do, was actually causing his irritation over the situation to increase. He hadn't made any threatening moves toward the man, aside from demanding the book, so there really was no need for the level of caution that Mana was exhibiting. "Name's Cross by the way and I have intimate knowledge about both the Innocence and the Exorcists."

Mana's gaze went to the strange crest that was on the man's jacket and, putting two and two together, surmised that this strange man who had introduced himself as Cross was, in actuality, one of the Exorcists. "You're one of them, aren't you?"

"So you're not a complete idiot," Cross muttered, gazing over at the brown haired teen who was sitting on the other end of the log. Judging by the tone of his voice it was obvious that the red head was finding this fact somewhat hard to believe. He was, after all, accustomed to dealing with idiots and was having a bit of difficulty adjusting his manner to the fact that this guy actually seemed to be in possession of at least half a brain. "I am one of the Exorcists, belonging to an organization known as the Black Order."

Strictly speaking this was the truth. He did technically belong to the Black Order, though he had made it his habit to ignore their orders most of the time. Because, with the exception of a few members, they were also a bunch of idiots.

"Black Order?" Mana repeated, not familiar with the organization that Cross claimed affiliation with. Not that this was all that surprising since he seemed to be learning about all kinds of things that were previously outside his range of knowledge as of recently. "Never heard of them."

"Not surprising," Cross said, nodding his head curtly. He had already surmised that this guy didn't know anything about the Order or he wouldn't have had so many damn questions. And likely wouldn't have needed the book that should never have been written in the first place. "They tend to try to keep themselves anonymous. But since you stumbled across that damnable book I guess I'll have to explain things to you… before you get your fool self killed."

"You keep saying that," Mana retorted, his brown eyed gaze focused on the Exorcist. He vividly recalled the fact that the red head was in possession of a rather large firearm that he didn't seem to have any reserve whatsoever in using. "But as of yet you're the only one who's posed a threat to me so why should I believe you?"

"I didn't threaten you," Cross snapped, knowing exactly what Mana was referring to. "I saved your life from a damn Akuma."

Yet another term that Mana was unfamiliar with.

"Akuma?" he repeated, blinking a couple of times in confusion. He was beginning to think that never again would he be able to have a normal conversation in which he knew all the words that were being used. "And what, pray tell, is an Akuma?"

"They're living weapons fashioned by the Millennium Earl," the Exorcist replied calmly, knowing that this was going to sound even more far fetched but, since the guy's brother was a Noah, maybe he'd be a little more likely to believe it. "The fat ass that your brother now works for… assuming he's the one who is the member of the Clan of Noah."

Mana's thoughts briefly shifted to his brother before he forced them back to the topic at hand. He had sought out answers to the questions that Nicholas had posed to him and now was the perfect opportunity to attempt to gain those answers. He would reserve judgment on everything until he had a chance to get both sides of the story. "Nicholas is indeed a member of the Clan of Noah," Mana said calmly, going by what his brother had told him. Since it wasn't as though he had any way to either confirm or discredit this claim. "And he's the one who asked me to look into the terms 'Innocence' and 'Exorcist' for him."

Now it was Cross' turn to look incredulous. "Why the hell would a Noah need someone else to find out about these things for him? He should already know about them and, if he doesn't, then all he has to do is ask the fat ass for details."

"From what I gather Nicholas isn't entirely trusted among their ranks," Mana replied, having a fairly good idea as to why his brother hadn't just come out and asked the others that he was staying with for the information that he sought. "He's a new arrival after all though this isn't the only reason for their lack of trust as far as he's concerned. According to him, he's an extra member of his family. Fourteenth where before there were always only thirteen. So they aren't quite sure what to make of him as of yet."

To the uninitiated observer it would appear as though Mana were telling this man everything there was to know about his brother and the situation that he was in but that wasn't the case. There were key pieces of the puzzle that he was choosing to keep to himself, on the off chance that this man did pose a threat to either of them. One of these pieces was the existence of Noah's Ark and Nicholas' ability to control it. That was something that the red head simply didn't need to know about as far as Mana was concerned.

"Is that a fact?" Cross said, a calculating look appearing in his one visible red eye. This was something unexpected and perhaps something that could be used to his advantage. If the Earl had a member of his group who was being kept in the dark about the entire truth then perhaps he could be persuaded to switch sides. "That's very interesting."

For his part Mana didn't really like the look that had appeared on the man's face. "What are you plotting?" he asked, his voice cautious as he gazed at the self proclaimed Exorcist.

"A way to save your brother," Cross replied without so much as flinching. It was a lie; he couldn't care less what happened to the brat but at the same time knew that he could prove useful. "He's on the wrong side in this war and that puts him in danger."

Mana held a thoughtful expression on his face for a moment, taking in everything that Cross had said. Then he tilted his head slightly to one side, recalling an earlier part of their conversation. "You mentioned that the Innocence is a weapon… were you serious about that?"

Nodding his head curtly Cross once again drew the large firearm that he wore in a holster at his side. Holding up the gun he said, "There are two types of Anti-Akuma weapon… equipment type and parasitic type. The first is the one I wield, Innocence whose from has been changed into a usable weapon. The second refers to those who actually house Innocence within their own bodies and can use that as a weapon."

Mana nodded his head, showing that he'd heard, as he tried to piece together the clues that would unravel this mystery that his brother had brought to his attention. "So why would the Clan of Noah be searching for the Innocence? Can they use these weapons in the war?"

"No," Cross growled, shaking his head. "The Innocence is a weapon provided by God and can only be wielded by his chosen. Not that the Noah really need this power, they have powers of their own. The fat ass Earl is seeking out the Innocence to destroy it because it is the only substance that can be used to destroy him and his minions."

Mana wasn't exactly sure how much of this story he believe but the one fact that seemed inescapable was that this red haired man and his brother were on opposite sides of a secret war. This knowledge only served to put him back on edge around the man, scared that he might inadvertently lead the Exorcist to his brother… something that he definitely didn't want to be responsible for. "Well thanks for the lesson," Mana said, getting to his feet and gazing down at Cross through cautious brown eyes. "It's been highly instructive but I really should be going."

And, without giving the Exorcist the chance to make an attempt at stopping him, Mana gave a sharp whistle. Mere seconds passed and then the sound of hoof beats could be heard echoing down the path. Reaching up Mana seized hold of his horse's mane, hoisting himself into the saddle at the same moment that Cross jumped to his feet.

"Hey!" the Exorcist yelled as the horse galloped down the path. Not only was Mana making a break for it but he still had the book, a fact that caused the red head to become decidedly irritated. "Get your ass back here!"

"Can't do that!" Mana threw back over his shoulder as the horse galloped away. "Nothing personal but I don't exactly trust you."

"Damn it!" Cross swore foully as he watched the teen disappear around a corner. Not only had he managed to escape but he'd taken the damn book with him. The loss of that only served to further his anger over the situation and he actually had to resist the urge to shoot the guy. "Can't believe I fucking let that happen…"

Knowing that he was going to have to track the man down the red haired Exorcist continued to mutter various profanities under his breath as he began walking down the dirt path. He wasn't really in a tremendous hurry, well aware of the fact that he would be able to track Mana with little effort. He had been studying magic for quite some time after all and had a spell that would work wonders as far as that was concerned.

"He'd best hope it takes me awhile to track his ass down," Cross snarled as he walked, reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulling out a cigarette. Sticking it into his mouth Cross struck a match and lit the end before taking a deep and appreciative draw. Exhaling the smoke his single visible eye seemed to flash malevolently. "Or I may just be tempted to kill him."

Once he had gotten what he thought to be a safe distance away Mana pulled back on the reins slightly, slowing his mount's pace to that of a trot. Breathing quickly the teen gazed around, taking in his surroundings and assuring himself that the red haired Exorcist wasn't going to suddenly pop out of nowhere again.

Because if that happened this time then he was all out of options.

Thankfully there didn't seem to be any sign of the man and, after a few moments, Mana heaved a sigh of relief. "That was close… now to return home and read this book. Maybe it'll tell me just how much of that man's words were the truth."

Then he would better know what information, if any, he would give to his brother.

With this thought in mind Mana turned his horse in the direction of home, allowing the stallion to have a free rein. Taking this as his cue the horse began to canter, anxious to return home to his nice warm stall.

A/N - end of another chapter, hope that you enjoyed. Despite the fact that we now know what the 14th's name actually is for the purposes of this fic I'm sticking with the one that I chose.