Disclaimer- I do not own DGM nor any of the characters.
A/N- As always I would like to thank the people who reviewed last chapter; WhiteIndianLady1923, truegenuis13, skidney, Kuraun Kuraun, 14th Noah, Fan girl 666, Lyssibug, god of all, Narutopokefan, Pearl of the Orient Seas, Raine Haruto, Allen's Lover, Noah of Faith, RandomReviewer, dcelest, SailorNova007, and PeanutAngel! Each review made me smile and for that I thank each and every one of you!
Chapter Forty-Five - And Everything Changes…
A glint appeared in Allen's tawny golden eyes as he gazed at this strange man that he didn't know and yet was instinctively cautious around. There was a voice echoing in the back of his mind that was telling him that this man was a threat… a threat that must be eliminated at all costs. Normally such thoughts never would have entered into the mind of the eleven year old but at this point in time he wasn't one hundred percent himself. There was something stirring in the back of his mind that he couldn't explain nor could he suppress. It seemed to have taken hold with such ferocity that it seemed likely it would consume him.
"So you think to fight me do you young one?" the man in black said, the strange purring quality still contained within his voice as his unfaltering gaze remained focused on the brown haired youth who stood before him. The corners of his mouth twitched up into a smirk as he flexed his fingers, eliciting pops from several of the joints. This was going to be amusing… an interesting diversion to break the monotony that made up his life at the moment. The Earl had given explicit instructions; find the boy and determine whether he truly did possess the powers of a Noah and, if that was the case, bring him back alive. Alive being the key word in that statement. The Earl hadn't said anything about the kid having to be in good health, just alive.
And alive was such a broad term really.
Allen didn't say anything in response to these jeering words from the man that he didn't know, his golden eyes cold and calculating as he continued to stare ahead. Gripping his left arm he pulled it closer to himself as he fought to ignore the fierce pain that seemed to be enveloping the limb. He'd never felt pain of this magnitude before but, strangely enough, he found that he could push it to the back of his mind and forget about it. The music that echoed in the recesses of his mind seemed almost to block the nerves that were acting as pain receptors. So long as he didn't think about it, it wasn't there.
Of course the stranger could have told him what was causing him the pain, the Noah genes that he held within picking up on the Innocence and thoroughly repelled by it. Perhaps he would rid the boy of the appendage before taking him back to the Earl. That would calm some of his sadistic tendencies as well as rid the world of one of the cursed pieces of Innocence.
All in all a very good plan as far as he was concerned.
A clump of bushes that was located nearby rustled slightly as the duo stared at one another but neither Allen nor the unknown man paid any attention to this, their focus planted squarely on one another. They were too engrossed in the battle that was about to commence to even notice the fact that they were no longer alone and were in fact now being watched. A pair of dark eyes peered from the shrubbery, a cruel glint appearing within their depths at the same time that a smile spread across her face. "Oooh~ Aiden's so lucky… I wish that I could have another chance to play with him." Unfortunately Road wouldn't be able to stay around and watch this little test of strength since she was on a completely different mission.
While Aiden dealt with the child of the traitorous Musician, she was tasked with finding the Musician's brother. The Earl had reached the conclusion that he was the one who had taken in the brat after his parents had been killed and now he was seeking to get rid of every last person who had been in any way connected to the traitorous 14th Noah. A strange look appeared in Road's eyes as she thought back to Nicholas, who had been her favorite sibling up until he had betrayed them to be with that Exorcist whore, but she quickly forced away such thoughts. Now was not the time and she had more important things to be doing than dwelling on a past which could not be changed.
Getting to her feet she skipped off in search of Mana Walker, the Musician's brother. "I'm going to find you~" she sang out in a sing-songy fashion that still managed to have an underlying sadistic quality to it. Maybe she couldn't play with the Musician's brat but there was always the possibility that his brother would be just as much fun. That and she was bored and needed something to do before she absolutely died from sheer boredom.
Turning his head slightly to the side Aiden briefly shifted his gaze away from the boy who still had yet to make a move and as he did so he caught sight of Road skipping away. So the Earl had sent her along for this little mission as well had he? While the Noah was somewhat annoyed that he apparently hadn't been trusted to be able to take care of the situation on his own his features didn't show this fact. After all it didn't matter to him how many of the others showed up just so long as he got to partake of his share of the torture.
Because that was really all that mattered.
At the same time that this quote unquote standoff was taking place Mana was frantically searching for his lost child. He couldn't believe that he had been so blatantly stupid and was berating himself for having upset Allen the entire time that he was searching for the boy. "I can't believe that I was so stupid. I should have listened to him… I mean what harm would it have done? If he was wrong then it would have been no big deal but… what if he was right? What if someone really was watching him?" Mana couldn't believe that he'd just brushed Allen's fears to the side so carelessly, given everything that he knew about his brother and the world into which his nephew had been born.
Mana couldn't help but feel that he'd made one of the worst mistakes of his life.
"Allen!" he called out in an almost frantic voice as he scoured the circus grounds for any signs of the brown haired little boy. There were crowds of people milling about everywhere and this made things much more difficult for the clown. It was true that Allen was eleven but he was very small for his age and his lack of height would make it difficult to find him in the throngs of people that were here for the show. "Allen where are you? Please answer me! I'm sorry!"
All he wanted to do was find the child and give him a hug. He needed to know that Allen was safe, his spine tingling as he thought about the Akuma that had been pursuing them ever since that strange attack that the little boy didn't even remember. The red headed general had made a couple of appearances since their parting, seeming intent on checking up on them and doing very little of anything else. Aside from the handful of times that he had managed to stick Mana with the bills that he had wracked up.
"He said that danger was everywhere so why didn't I take Allen seriously?" That was the question that Mana couldn't answer, much to his chagrin. But as he searched for his brother's child, for the little boy that he had raised as his own since the age of three, he vowed that he would do a better job of listening to him in the future.
If only he were given the chance.
Allen was too far away from the circus grounds to hear the shouts of his foster father, though in all likelihood his brain wouldn't have processed them even had he heard them. He now seemed completely consumed with blood lust and his tawny eyes narrowed slightly as he raised his right hand and took a step toward the man dressed in black. Music almost seemed to fill the air as the boy's golden eyes flashed, his left arm eliciting several jerky muscle spasms even as a strange energy seemed to swirl around him, causing the very ground upon which he and the dark haired man were standing to shake.
"You're going to suffer," the boy said in a dark voice that was very far away from his normal tone. Even though his words were often gruff, Allen's normal speaking voice had a soft edge to it that seemed to have vanished. If Mana were to hear him now it would likely send shivers down his spine.
"I think you have this entire scenario thought out backwards my little friend," Aiden purred, shifting his feet so that he didn't lose his balance as the very ground beneath him shook with the force of the boy's powers. It could not be denied that they were immense, though quite obviously untrained, which meant that this kid… this son of a pair of traitors… had the potential to be great. This also meant that this little battle promised to be a great deal of fun, which was the part that Aiden was most concerned with at the moment. "Maybe with a little training and practice you could possibly pose a threat to me but not right now. Now I'm going to have to give you a lesson on manners and respecting your elders."
"Like I would ever offer respect to the likes of you." Same sinister tone as before as the boy once again raised his right hand, causing the faint music that seemed to fill the air to increase in volume. It seemed almost as though he were conducting with this one arm and Aiden felt a sudden stab of pain as the strange music seized control of his mind. "You're worthy of nothing except my utter contempt."
In response to this Aiden threw his head back and screamed in pain, his hands going up to grip the sides of his head as he fought against the hold that this child seemed to have over him. No, that couldn't be right. This boy was untrained and didn't have full use of the powers that he had inherited… so then, how exactly was this happening? The Noah's mind fought to find an answer for this enigma even as he struggled to escape the music that seemed almost to be piercing his brain.
"You're doing very well… just a little more and he will be yours."
Allen blinked as he heard this voice that echoed through his mind, seeming to be in complete harmony with the music that also resided there. With the music that was always there and always had been, now that Allen thought back on his life. It seemed to him as though he had heard this voice before and it calmed him a degree and brought more stability to his powers.
"What's with that strange look on your face?" Aiden asked, finally managing to shake the hold of the boy's powers. To say that it was difficult would have been an understatement, since he wasn't overly adept at using his own powers either, and he know felt as though his brain had been struck repeatedly with a meat tenderizer. The expression that had appeared on the kid's face served to throw him even further off his guard and he felt decidedly nervous. This was supposed to have been an easy assignment but it was shaping up to be anything but.
"You're going to wish that you hadn't asked that question," Allen said, his purring tone nearly a match for the one that Aiden had used when speaking to him earlier.
Having thoroughly searched the circus grounds Mana was forced to conclude that Allen had ventured outside of the boundary. This presented a new set of problems and Mana stopped at the edge of the grounds, near one of the large tents, and ran a hand through his hair. Pulling out a handkerchief he wiped the thick makeup from his face revealing his true features even as he gazed around and attempted to figure out which path he should take. "Where did you go Allen?"
"He went to play in the forest~" a childlike voice chimed as Mana asked this question. "But that's not what you should be worried about right now."
Mana's gaze shifted to the small girl who had appeared as though out of nowhere, though presumably she had actually came out of the thick undergrowth that bordered the forest everywhere save for the small path that led into the small wooded area. She seemed harmless enough, just a little girl who appeared maybe a few years older than Allen, but for some reason Mana was uneasy. The girl had this look in her eyes that made him uncomfortable and this, coupled together with her words, served to set him even more on edge.
"Who are you?" the clown questioned in a serious tone of voice, managing to keep the fear at bay. It was more fear for Allen than for himself and he wanted to get this conversation over with as soon as possible so that he could continue with his search for the boy. "And how do you know Allen?" He paused at this point, his gaze remaining steadfastly focused on the unfamiliar girl. He was generally bad with names and faces so he wasn't really surprised by the fact that he couldn't place her from anywhere. "I don't think I've seen you around here anywhere?"
"Oh Allen and I go way back~" Road purred, her hands clasped behind her back as she continued to stare at the man. Taking in his features she could see the family resemblance between not just he and Allen but also he and the Musician. "And Nicholas as well…" She paused as she tossed out this little tidbit of information, enjoying the shocked expression that appeared on the man's face as she mentioned his long dead little brother. "You look a lot like him… but not as much as Allen does."
Mana's eyes narrowed at the mention of his brother. Far from happy to hear that she knew him he instinctively took a couple of steps back away from the girl. He knew that she was no ordinary child, by the sheer fact that she had known his brother. "Who are you?" he repeated, more forcefully this time.
"I am Road," she replied in the same sing-songy voice, a cruel smile gracing her lips. "And I'm in the family of Noah."
A gasp of shock escaped Mana's lips as she said this and now he knew why it was that he felt so ill at ease while in her presence. She was one of the group that his brother had been a part of… one of the people that Cross said his organization was fighting against. All in all she was danger incarnate and the man felt his heart begin to pound in his chest. And yet his fear still wasn't for himself but instead for the child that he was now desperate to find. "Where's Allen? If you did anything to him so help me I'll…"
"I told you before, Allen's playing in the forest." Road wasn't even remotely phased by this threat that the man hadn't been given the chance to finish, her arms still held casually behind her back. "And it's really not him that you should be concerned about… I'd worry more about myself if I were you. Pitiful subhuman, you're death is going to be so much fun~"
"Death?" Mana exclaimed, his eyes widening as he heard this. It sounded odd, coming from the mouth of a child, but he took the threat seriously. The clown knew that he would be a fool not to, given everything that he knew about the Noah.
"Oh yes," Road purred, eyes gleaming as they shift to the same tawny golden color that Mana had seen Allen's eyes take on. "Lord Millennium has decided that everyone connected to the Musician must die… except maybe for Allen. He might prove useful to us… just like his father was before he turned traitor."
These words, Road's choice to bring Allen into this, served to light a fire within Mana. His normally kind eyes seemed almost to flash as he took a couple of steps toward the Noah girl, muttering seemingly incoherent words under his breath as he did so. Road gazed at him in a curious fashion, tilting her head slightly to the side as she struggled to understand what he was saying, but in only a matter of moments she was made all too aware. Binds of energy seemed to wrap around her body, pulling her arms to her sides and restricting her movements. Road was caught off guard by this, not having known that the Musician's brother was versed in magic, but needless to say it didn't take her long to recover from the brief shock.
"Didn't expect that," she admitted even as she caused the binds that were wrapped around her to shatter in a burst of light. Her skin tone darkened, cross shaped marks etching themselves across her forehead as she assumed her true Noah form. "You may turn out to be even more fun that I first thought. I'm so excited."
Mana's face paled as his spell was rendered null and void so easily by the Noah. So this was the power that they possessed… the power that his own brother had held and he had never been aware. It was frightening in its intensity but Mana forced himself to focus on what he had to do. The odds seemed stacked against him but there was no way in hell that he was going to just lay down and die without a fight. He had promised to protect his brother's child and there was no way in the world that he would go back on his word.
Not where Allen was concerned.
"You may as well go and have your fun somewhere else," Mana growled as he prepared for another spell, hopefully one that would be more effective than the previous. It was obvious that the Noah were on a whole other skill level than the Akuma so adjustments to the way that he fought would have to be made. "Because I don't want anything to do with it."
"But that's what makes it fun~" Road retorted, holding up a hand and causing several brightly colored candles to appear around the man. "It wouldn't be very much of a game for me if you actually wanted to play." This said she pointed toward him with one finger, causing one of the candles to go flying in his direction, pointy end first.
Mana yelped as the candle came flying toward him, the tip practically glinting as it aimed for his flesh. Had his reaction time been any slower then it was likely that he would have been skewered but, as it was, he managed to erect a barrier around himself just in time to deflected the candle. Road pouted as she watched this, having been looking forward to watching the blood spurt from his body as the candle pierced his flesh, but after a minute she decided that this just made the game more fun. At least it presented a modicum of difficulty.
"Go ahead and fight," Road exclaimed even as she prepared to launch even more candles in the man's direction. "It's more fun that way!" Having said this Road sent several of her candles flying toward him with a simple flick of her wrist. The first of the projectiles pierced through the barrier that Mana had summoned in his defense while two of the others embedded themselves in the clowns flesh. Mana screamed in pain as one candle pierced his leg and the other his shoulder, both on his left side. Bright spots of crimson appeared on his already brightly colored clown costume as the man staggered back, trying desperately to remain in a standing position.
The smile that had already been on Road's face grew even wider as she watched the blood spurt from the wounds as the Musician's brother pulled the candles from his shoulder and leg. This was better than even she had hoped for and she licked her lips as she prepared for another attack. She was going to make this man suffer, truly suffer, before she ended his pitiful existence. Laughing out loud she once again sent a volley of candles toward him, these striking him in both shoulders and pinning him to a large support pole that was being used to hold up one of the tents. The sounds of screams could be heard echoing behind her but Road's focus was squarely on her foe as she sauntered toward him, eyes shining maliciously.
"Why…are you doing this?" Mana asked, coughing slightly and tasting the sickening metallic taste of blood in his mouth.
"Because it's fun~" Road purred as she came to a stop in front of him.
Mana opened his mouth to respond to this claim, which she seemed to make repeatedly, but was halted as a large round man with a grin wider than should be humanly possible appeared once again seemingly out of nowhere. Despite the grin there was something decidedly sinister about this man and Mana felt his blood run cold at the sight. "And because you're connected with the traitorous 14th… That alone is enough to guarantee your death."
Mana didn't even understand what Nicholas had done to anger these people so much but they all seemed to be holding a grudge against him. "Nicholas is dead…" he choked out, once again tasting blood. "And…and all I want to do is take care of Allen. Please."
"The boy is going to serve his purpose as well," the Earl purred as he gazed at this man, practically seeing the image of the Musician reflected in his features. Of course this was more trick of the mind than anything else. Mana did resemble his brother but not to that degree. "And the Musician will not truly be gone until all trace of him is wiped from this earth…"
Seeming to gain a burst of renewed energy Mana's lips moved wordlessly as he mouthed an incantation, sending the candles flying from his body with enough force to actually shake the tent that they were now in. Getting shakily to his feet he gazed at the Earl with flashing eyes. He wasn't going to die like this… just lying there and accepting it.
He was going to fight.
A/N - End of another chapter. Bet you were expecting to see Allen fight, hehe. Sorry if I disappointed and I'm also sorry for the cliffhanger but this chapter ended up being longer than I anticipated. I'll try to be quick with an update, to make up for it. Once again hope you enjoyed the chapter and, til next time, farewell.