Witches Man, Witches
A.B.T.

Prologue – Freed from his Crystal Prison?

"How long have I been stuck in this crystal?" he thought, body unmoving. Not that he would have moved all that much anyway. He was still sore from his fight with Death, and even then his work didn't require any movement anyway. All-in-all, being imprisoned here was one of the best things that could have happened to him.

"I can't say I would blame him either way, I suppose. If he hadn't intervened, who knows what I could have gone on to do? All the people I could have killed…" At this, he focused, and in the darkness of his mind he saw his own soul fade into view, floating peacefully. It was glowing blue and beautiful, like it had been for a while now.

"No longer a Kishin Egg. Maybe Death will come back and see that I've atoned and he'll let me out." He chuckled then, "Like that would happen." Then, he went back to fixing his soul, a figure appearing before him. It would be hard work to make his soul completely normal again, but it would be worth it he thought.

Meanwhile…

The Witch walked slowly and calmly through the dark cave, on her way to the "shrine." The fight between Lord Death and her toy had nearly killed him, but she knew he was still alive. She could feel his soul, so powerful yet so different, up ahead. Her heels made a sharp click with each strike against the stone floor of the cave, the only light coming from the crystal orb in her hand, just bright enough to light her way and show her features. She wore a black cloak and hood, but she had let the hood down earlier to let her short raven hair hang down. Most of her features were hidden behind the cloak, but her face was one of cool confidence, her eyes violet pools and her mouth a thin line curving up in a slight smirk. Up ahead, she could hear flowing water, and knew that she was close to her goal.

"I will have him back," she thought, her smirk widening into a full-blown smile as she stepped into a sphere shaped cavern. There was a hole leading to the outside world at the center of the ceiling, and the walls where light didn't touch were absolutely covered in crystals. From the hole filtered in pale moonlight, revealing in the center of the room a tall spire with stone stairs spiraling to its top. And on top of this, floating slightly, as a rather large crystal formation. At the base of the spire was a moat of whirling water, inside which the Witch could feel the remnants of a powerful Soul Wavelength, the same that seemed to make up the crystal, shining like diamond in the weak light.

"Perhaps it is as hard as diamond," she thought, leaping effortlessly over the moat and slowly making her way up the stairs, "No matter. My light can pierce through anything." When she reached the top, she peered into the mass of crystals and was able to see the person locked inside. He had put his arms across his chest and brought his knees up before he was captured. He wore a pair of faded blue jeans and a tee-shirt that read, "Got Soul?" on the front in big block letters. His hair was long and brown, and hung around his shoulders in a mess. The witch smirked.

"The fetal position? Really? I thought you had more class than this,"she muttered, the light from her crystal fading as it floated into one of the pockets of her robe. Then, she placed her hands upon the crystal, closing her eyes as she began to mutter an incantation. She repeated the words a few times before abruptly stopping. Her eyes opened to reveal they were glowing with bright white light. A slight flash emanated from both her palms before a slight smile appeared on her face.

"Shatter," she said, and at once her magic did its work. First one crack appeared on the surface of the crystal, then that one split to two, then those to four, and on and on until the crystal finally became so clouded that the figure within was barely visible. As the light in her eyes faded away, the entire finally exploded into thousands of tiny crystal fragments. Below, she could hear the water of the moat begin to churn and heave violently, and when she turned she saw it fly up toward her, hanging in the air before crashing down.

"What a clever trap," she thought as she began to shield herself, knowing already that she wouldn't be able to stop it in time. Luckily, she knew she wouldn't need to.

An angry cry rang out from beneath the sound of the rushing water, and when it fell away the Witch found herself standing next to her "toy." She smirked.

"Glad to see you're awake…Erik." The boy panted slowly, putting his hands on his back and stretching, three loud pops coming from his spine.

"It's been how long?"

"That doesn't matter, because you're awake now." She put her hands around his neck, standing up on her tip toes to match his near six foot height.

"Now we can be as we were," she whispered into his ear before beginning to lean in for a kiss, but Erik held her at arm's length.

"No, Lilith. Not as we were. I'm not the Erik you remember," he said, keeping his eyes off of her. He let his arms drop and she made no effort to step forward. Her face had darkened, not in anger but in sadness, but she still continued to smirk.

"That's okay. We can always find more people and you can eat their souls…and…." she let her voice trail off as Erik slowly shook his head, letting his long mess of brown hair sway back and forth,

"I like the new me," he said with finality, "besides, that world…just isn't for me anymore." He began to walk away, jumping down from the spire and landing on the opposite side of the now completely still moat. There was a surge of power behind him, and he glanced back, steel blue eyes sad. Lilith had the most furious look on her face, and she glared at him, violet eyes ablaze.

"This isn't over, Erik. You will be mine in the end, just you wait!" Erik thought he saw a tear in her eye but couldn't be sure as she raised her arms and was gone in a flash of light.

"Lilith, the Shining Witch. Good luck," he said, tone indifferent, as he began to walk toward what he hoped was the exit, not knowing exactly where he was going to go.

. . .

Maka Albarn sat on the steps leading up to the Death Weapon Meister Academy, head in her hands as she thought about the events of the last few months. There had been the battle at Baba Yaga's Castle, and the final confrontation with the Kishin, Asura, as well. Both of these had nearly killed not only her, but her friends and team mates. She could still see, when she closed her eyes, the way her friends had lain, sprawled around her and near death. But in the end she had won the day, destroying the Kishin once and for all. After that she and Soul, her Weapon Partner, had continued their collection of souls, reaching 99 and finally, after so long, on the hunt for a Witch once more. Overall, her life had regained some degree of normalcy. But, within the last few days, something began to feel off. For one, a powerful Soul Wavelength had begun to resonate somewhere in the world, though she could be entirely sure where. At first, she had thought another Kishin had been born, but she had dismissed it almost as quickly – it wasn't as powerful, nor was it filled with the madness that had come from Asura. No, it was something different...different, but still powerful.

"Hey Maka. You okay?" she heard Soul ask behind her. She turned and gave him a brief smile.

"Just thinking." Soul closed his eyes and put his hands in his pockets, smiling his signature shark-toothed grin.

"Now's not the time for thinking. We've got a mission, remember?" She looked up at him angrily, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah yeah. I know Soul. We're after a Witch now. The so called "Shining Witch" Lilith, right?"

"Yup."

"The last soul before you become a Death Scythe." Soul smiled even wider at this.

"Yup. Couldn't have done it without ya," he said, extending a hand to help her to her feet. She took it with a small smile of her own, and together they descended the steps, striding forward into destiny.

Meanwhile, Erik walked slowly through the desert, beads of sweat dropping from his brow.

"Ugh…it's so damn hot!" he complained, trying and failing to wipe the liquid away with his equally sweaty forearm. He had been following a particular Soul Wavelength for a while now, after hopping a plane to the United States (an experience he was very skeptical about) and had landed somewhere in Nevada. Shortly after, he found himself directed to a place called Death City, which led him to the desert he was currently trekking through.

"Time to get rid of this…" he said, peeling off his black tee-shirt and revealing a slim but strong build. His chest was covered were several scars, colored pink as if they had recently healed. Honestly, he wasn't sure how that was possible, but he didn't question it.

"Besides," he said aloud, tying his tee-shirt around his waist, "the fact I don't seem to have aged a day is more astounding. Wonder how that works…"

After a few hours of walking (what water he had was gone), he finally saw his destination on the horizon – a city in the middle of the desert, the entire layout of which seemed centralized around a skull-themed castle.

"Not as dark as I thought it would be…ah well," he muttered, shielding his eyes from the slowly setting sun. He sighed and continued his trek, his pace renewed as prepared to start a new life.

. . .

Lord Death was sitting in his throne in the Death Room when he first felt Erik's Soul Wavelength approaching.

"Hmm…this is something I haven't felt in quite a while. Looks like she's finally made her move."

"Who is it, Lord Death?" asked Spirit, looking at his master with concern.

"His name is Erik, and he is the tool of a Witch, though I feel something different about him this time. Besides Stein, he is perhaps one of the most powerful Meisters I have ever known. But this was before the Academy, and I did not know about him until he had already been…enchanted…by the Witch. The Witch your daughter is after, I believe." Spirit's jaw dropped, but he regained his composure almost immediately.

"Is he with the Witch now?" the scythe asked with a cautious tone. Lord Death, meanwhile, held a massive white hand to his temple, scratching it as if in thought.

"Well…no, not that I can tell. He is heading toward the Academy now, in fact.

"What?!" exclaimed Spirit, "Then…shouldn't someone…I don't know, intercept him? I can go right now!" Spirit would have continued, but Lord Death held up a single finger and silenced him.

"Actually, I would prefer that you stay here with me. I want to see how this pans out." Lord Death brought his finger down on a button and a mirror slid up from the floor. Some words were said, and the surface flashed with static before showing an image of the desert at twilight, a young man walking alone toward Death City. Lord Death sighed.

"Looks like things are going to get a lot more interesting from here on, eh Spirit?"