Ragna couldn't help but smirk at her behavior. Noel followed him like a puppy, confused and indecisive as she was, unknowest of what was right and wrong. Terumi had betrayed her, her orders turned out to be nothing but lies and the man she was sent to hunt was currently her only means of figuring out what was going on.
At the same time, he carried Nu over his shoulder, who was out cold still. He had dressed her in her outfit again, making it less suspicious to people, but he still didn't plan on being here for long.
Ragna barely remembered where he had to go, but it was still better than just staying here. How hard could it be to find a secret laboratory?
Finally, a voice disturbed the silence.
„...Ragna... i.. uhm.."
At first he thought it was Nu, but the voice wasn't as high pitched. It came from his side, where Noel was still unsure of what she was doing.
„I.. i just meant to ask.. can we.. talk?"
That question again. It all came back to him now. This was another one of his mistakes... he rejected her, broke her heart and gave Terumi everything he needed to turn her into a puppet bound to his will. Not this time.
„Sure, i guess. What is it that you wanna talk about?" He wasn't in the mood for talking, seeing how he had no idea how serious Nu`s state was, but he had to do everything to prevent that calamity from happening.
„...I.. i honestly don´t know where to start..." She shook her head, grasping it with both hands trying to get a straight thought. „I`m.. i`m sorry, i meant to say something, but then..."
„Just relax yourself. Its no big deal. You can ask me again when you remember it." Ragna answered, giving her a grin as response.
„Huh..?" This answer seemed to surprise her. „...Why are you... how come you´re such a nice person?"
„Well, for one, the NOL hunts me because i kill their soldiers, not because i`m rude to them or anything. For another.. i think we`re going to spend a while together, so it`d be stupid to start a fight with you just because you got excited."
„...But... but why did you kill them? Why would you do such a thing?" She continued to ask, finally getting to the point she wanted to go to. She had to know what was right and what was wrong. Maybe Ragna wasn't the bad guy afterall.
„Its a really long story. The main thing is that my mission to to destroy each and every one of the 'Cauldrons' the NOL has discovered and built underneath their outposts. You've seen one in Kagutsuchi... i just have had no time to destroy it. I had to calm down Nu before she would've killed us all."
„And.. what... what is that Cauldron?" Noel asked, now being more confused than before.
„Its a gateway to the Boundary, in short. One can access and leave the Boundary from there.. the NOL has built them to smelt the Murakumos, such as Nu, and use them as weapons of mass destruction. They've even been striving to build a doomsday weapon, Kusanagi, but fortunately that hasn't worked out yet."
Noel`s head started to spin. Weapons of mass destruction... doomsday weapons.. gateways.. Ragna simply kept talking.
„Of course the NOL doesn't let me cross their plans, so she has each and every one of them protected by at least one division of soldiers. So i just break though and kill the lot, otherwise they´d kill me. You know the protocols, Noel, if one breaches the Anti Beast Barrier, he´s to be terminated manually no matter who he is."
„Then why wasn't anyone in the Kagutsuchi branch?" Noel asked, slowly starting to get behind all this.
„It was a trap for me. Instead of wasting any more of their soldiers, they simply started the smelting process early and i came there too late. Nu was already finished, and if i wouldn't have calmed her down... well, lets just say she`s the most lethal thing they got right now. Even more lethal than any of the Nox class weapons... because she can move on her own and doesn't need a soldier to wield herself." Ragna sighed, adjusting his grip on Nu. She was starting to get heavy..
„So how did you know she was going to kill you?" This question brought him off.
„Wha... yeah, well, that's a rather long one.. a pretty boring one too. I don`t think you wanna hear that. Just ask something else, if you don`t mind..."
„What are you hiding, Ragna the Bloodedge?" Suddenly, Noel got all energetic and defensive, trying to think of the NOL as good people once again, even though of all the things she had heard... and seen.
„Geez. You`re persistent on that one, huh? Well, alright, i guess i can tell you. But please, for the love of all thats holy, don´t tell anyone.. will you promise me that?"
„Huh?" Noel was suprised by that. „Wha... its that serious...? I... i suppose i can..."
„Good... because i have no idea what happens if i tell you this. Noel, this world is only one of hundreds of possible worlds, all existing as different phases of an endless screw of dimensions. Originally it was just one, until that thing in Kagutsuchi happened. Nu killed me, she dragged me into the Cauldron and we became the Black Beast... all of Kagutsuchi was destroyed immediately and the beast got sent into the past... there, it was defeated, and the story began anew. That all happened up until one point."
„What... what... what are you talking about?" Noel`s wide eyes and terrified expression saw no doubt in his words, but she was too excited to make any sense out of it.
„Calm down, Noel. This is just the beginning of the story." Ragna said, then returned to his explanation. „Thing is, in one of these dimensions you came along just in time. You saw what happened, you took my hand and you pulled me out of the cauldron before the smelting began...Nu died, i lived.. but then all things went downhill. Terumi, the guy you called Hazama, got a hold of you eventually and turned you into a slave of his... and forged you into the Kusanagi he desired so much. Before you could destroy everything as we knew it though, i managed to beat Terumi and get you out of there... but that simply wasn't enough anymore. You and your friends took off on your own while i had to take care of the next few cauldrons... and Terumi killed you.
The next Cauldron i went to had Nu in it... who was rebuilt from scratch, killed me, and dragged me into the cauldron. This time though we weren't sent to the past, we were there.. we exterminated all of humanity. So in a last ditch of effort, Rachel Alucard, the person who watches over me, sent me back to the past... to try and fix every error i made, to prevent everything that went so horribly wrong."
Noel found no words anymore. He had been too serious, there was too little that made no sense to her, there was no doubt.. but this completely blew her mind.
„Ragna... i... please, i just gotta lie down for a moment..."
His arm caught her before she hit the ground, though, and slowly, her high pulse slowed down again.
„Oh geez. What am i gonna do with you." Ragna groaned, yet grinned.
For a few minutes, Ragna stood there, having laid Noel onto the ground to give her some rest, while he wondered what to do... until a familiar sensation hit him.
A feeling of being tugged away from this universe, being transferred into another dimension. For once though, he didn't resist it, and let Rachel`s magic do its work.
The castle looked more or less the same when he arrived, the roses were identical to his last visit... what made him wonder was the inhabitant itself. A tall, blonde woman with ample chest and piercing red eyes stared at him, the long black dress with the red crosses on them leaveing little doubt about her identity.
„...Rachel? What the hell happened to you?" Ragna asked, confused and amused at the same time.
„Do you like what you see, Ragna? This is your doing." She answered, less pleased than he expected. „By telling Noel about the future you`ve created a phase paradox in this universe."
„What the hell does that mean?" He asked, crossing his arms. „Go ahead, try to explain it to me."
„Silence, you fool. A phase paradox means that the phase does no longer follow the pattern it was set to be. Any bounds set by the Takamagahara or even Amaterasu itself are no longer existent and anything is possible from this point on. However, there is no turning back from it either. Whatever you do, be aware of the consequences and choose wisely."
„Yeah, but why the hell are you an adult now?" He asked again, raising an eyebrow. „Stop avoiding the question, damn it."
„Six Hundred and fifty phases, each one a hundred years long, do make a vampire grow older. The phase paradox simply made this time count instead of keeping me disturbingly young forever." She raised an eyebrow. „Now, what do YOU intend to do with the Murakumo unit and the Eye?"
Ragna grinned a little. „What do you think...? Nu is pretty much indestructible, i`m a tough guy and Noel only needs to realize her potential... if i can get Kokonoe´s support, Terumi doesn't stand a chance."
„IF you gain her support. She`s not going to be convinced easily. She could defeat Terumi herself, but she refuses to use her powers as she claims that's what killed her mother. If she would only know that the only thing that happened was that her mothers spell backfired on her and bound herself, instead of Terumi... as a willing slave, she´s now known as Phantom and follows in Terumi`s wake."
„Why the hell are you telling me that?" Ragna cocked his head to the side. „That's none of my business."
„It might be a way to get her support if you simply promise her to free Phantom from Terumi. I doubt she will give you the Idea Engine just because you ask her nicely."
„I was actually going to get her to let us sleep in her lab and then just rail her when she goes to the bathroom... but i guess that works too."
„I honestly doubt your way would`ve suceeded, Ragna."
„Oh, you have no idea how many times it already did."