~*Smiles in Shadows*~
"What's wrong? You're not acting like your usual self."
Shadows encroached upon every inch of her vision. There was nothing here but darkness, and as she felt her soul leave her body, the pain of her many wounds began to fade until she was simply a manifestation of her human form.
Human. Could the Devourlord be simply, merely, human?
She was standing in a black void, her arms slack at her side, no longer bleeding and yet she was also insubstantial. The feeling would have bothered her, if there had been enough of her mind, her humanity, left to care. As it were, she was just frustrated. She had lost. She had lost.
And the absence of Gig, her soulmate, actually made her feel the tiniest twinge of…sadness. It had been so long since she had felt any emotion at all besides anger, indignation, bleak things like that…She felt almost sick.
The Devourlord gazed around her listlessly. "…This place…"
"You're inside the sword," a familiar, high, feminine voice said beside her. "You've been sealed here."
The Devourlord nearly jumped. Nearly. But it took a lot to surprise her—(again, if she had enough humanity left to even be surprised)—and instead she turned. When her voice came, it was rougher than she expected. "Why us? Together…?"
Danette, a green-haired Sepp that she faintly recognized, was watching her with sad, almost pitying red eyes. "We've been together since we were young. Even after what happened…" The Devourlord had a faint memory of landing a killing blow, or what she thought had been one, back in the Hidden Village. "I couldn't just leave you to suffer alone."
The Devourlord almost asked, "Why not? I deserve it. I would prefer eternity alone."
But she didn't. She said nothing.
"Now we're together forever." Danette pointed a dramatic finger, somehow managing to smile. It had been so long since the Devourlord had been around people with normal smiles that she almost recoiled from her. "And it's too late to say no!"
She's a Crimson Tear, she thought belatedly, emotionlessly. Imagine that.
She must have read the Devourlord's expression, because she stomped one hoof irritably, still smiling a bit. "Don't bother getting mad. I'm here to stay. And I'm gonna slap that mean streak right outta you!"
Despite herself, the Devourlord's lips twitched in what could have been the beginnings of…
Danette continued in a quieter tone. "And someday…when we're ready…We'll be forgiven, and we can be reborn once again."
She said nothing, and did nothing. Just stared at the Sepp girl.
"But first, we should get some sleep." Danette yawned, apparently exhausted.
Now that she thought about it, the Devourlord guessed she was pretty tired. But that didn't mean she was going to listen to her. She took a step back, and of course her companion noticed.
"Let me sing you that lullaby you sang to me when we were young," she offered. The bell around her neck jangled softly, a sweet sound soon lost to the shadows, as she tentatively moved in the Devourlord's direction, making the gap between them as it had been before.
The Devourlord scowled. Imagine, her, the great Devourlord, being lulled to sleep by one of her victims? She pressed her hands over her ears with a pointed glance in Danette's direction.
"C'mon, stop covering your ears!" She put her hands on her hips and huffed.
Slowly, very slowly, the Devourlord lowered her hands.
Danette's eyes sparkled, as if something she had long suspected had been confirmed at last. "…This'll help you sleep better."
The foreign lyrics that her heart of hearts knew seemed to echo around them, sweeter and clearer than the Sepp girl's bell even, and even though she fought it at first, the warm feeling it inspired soon set her spiraling into slumber.
Heh, the Devourlord chuckled to herself humorlessly. How the mighty have fallen…
The Devourlord was up even before Danette. She sat a few feet away from the Sepp in the darkness, cross-legged and contemplative, staring off into space. Gig's last words to her played out again and again in her head, and inexplicably, she missed his companionship.
Her eyes slipped closed.
"The time we spent together…It felt so short…and yet so long. It was…an experience."
That's one way to put it. An experience.
"It's strange…in my memories as Gig, I actually really liked you. Apparently, we had a lot of fun."
Fun…it was only fun when I was killing, moving. The downtime, the boredom, that was the worst.
"Gig was…he was lonely. I spent so long in that sword…alone. It was like an eternity."
Self-consciously, the Devourlord snuck a peek at the still snoozing Danette. Something she didn't like stirred inside her and she squashed it down with some effort.
"And then I met you. I won't ask anyone to forgive what's happened. Much of this is Gig's…no, my fault."
How often did you tell everyone you weren't in control, Gig? Her lip curled in disgust. Our exploits were…me. I did them. Mostly.
"But if we ever get the chance…Let's have some fun together, okay kid?"
Then, he had left. Left to go reincarnate. Vigilance, Gig, whoever he was…If they ever get the chance…Did he mean another life? Did she deserve one? Maybe she deserved to rot here in the Onyx Blade for all time.
The Devourlord blinked. She didn't realize that she had spoken aloud. She considered facing Danette, but decided against it, and went on gazing into eternity with her back to her companion.
"You say something?" The Sepp girl inquired, getting up with a clatter of hooves and coming to sit beside her as if they were the best of pals still.
The Devourlord considered strangling her. She said nothing instead, as was her wont.
Danette was undeterred, but if she hadn't been, she wouldn't have been Danette. "So! Why don't you say something? We're gonna be here forever, until they let us out. If they let us out. You might as well get used to talking to me, it's not like we have anything else to do!"
She could think of other ways to amuse herself that involved bodily harming the Sepp. She opted not to say anything though.
Danette exhaled in frustration. "Come on, you! Say something!"
A flabbergasted blink. Then Danette slapped her lightly on the shoulder. "I bet you think you're clever!"
She huffed. "Be that way. I'll just…talk to you, then."
The Devourlord raised her eyebrows without actually looking at the Sepp girl, but the meaning was clear.
Danette grinned widely. "Do you remember when we were kids?" She waited a beat for some sort of answer, but when none were forthcoming, she charged on. "You and I used to help out in the kitchens because it meant we could snack all day, and it was way better than bathroom duty. This was when we weren't training to be town guards, anyway."
To her surprise, she found herself rifling through old memories from her…well, from what seemed like her past life. She could indeed remember exactly what Danette was going on about.
"You had a thing for hotpods," she laughed. The word hotpod brought up images of Gig…"Gosh you were so greedy then!" She gave the Devourlord a meaningful look. "Is that the real reason why you call yourself the 'Devourlord'? Because between you and that guy who was in you, you probably ate enough hotpods to feed twenty nations!"
"You're one to talk." The Devourlord silently reprimanded herself. Damn. She hadn't meant to say anything.
"Huh?" Danette's hands went to her hips. "Just what are you talking about?"
"I recall you eating twice as much as I did," she responded again without really intending to. "And we got kicked out of kitchen duty for life."
She expected some sort of sharp response from the Sepp girl, but she was silent and still for several long seconds. When she did speak, it was soft, nearly inaudible. "So you do remember…"
The Devourlord turned away from her and said nothing for a long time, eyes closed.
She couldn't say how many days passed by in this fashion, because time held no meaning in the Onyx Blade.
"C'mon, you, wake up!"
The Devourlord rolled onto her side and groaned. Sleep was the only thing she really could do around here! Why was that stupid cow bothering her? She had no idea how long either of them slept in the Onyx Blade, since, well, again, clocks didn't exist for them.
"What?" She growled crossly, sitting up and glaring at her companion.
The Sepp stomped each hoof in turn. "I'm bored," she complained. "Do something with me."
"What? It's your own fault for locking yourself in here with me. Stupid cow."
Danette ignored the insult. "Let's have a race."
"To where?" The Devourlord stood and gestured around them. "There's nothing here, or have you not noticed?" Words came easier to her now, and more and more often she found her emotions flaring up. Sometimes intense sadness when she thought of Gig, and sometimes something else when she remembered her past. With Danette, it was mostly irritation accompanied by the all-too-familiar urge to kill her and sate her bloodlust.
But Danette was already dead.
"We'll just…race to that point and back!" Danette pointed towards the north, or what the Devourlord approximated to be the north. "This black blade…thingie…isn't infinite you know! It has walls, and if you did something else besides sleep and mope, you'd know that!"
"I don't mope."
A snort. "Yeah, right! So are we racing or not?"
"You're a Sepp. Everyone knows you're faster than—"
Danette's eyes widened in mock surprise. "What's this? Is this the great Devourlord making excuses? C'mon, you beat me before when we were younger!"
"That was when you were still clumsy as a calf," the Devourlord pointed out. However she could hear the truth in her companion's words and she made a face.
"Ready, set, go!" Danette took off without warning, bounding so quickly that she was soon nearly completely eclipsed by the surrounding shadows.
The Devourlord bared her teeth and bolted after her, though she fully expected to lose. The exertion, even if her body wasn't exactly physical, felt wonderful.
Danette's laughter rang around them, vibrating harmoniously in tune with the bell around her neck.
"Catch me if you can!"
It had been so long since she had been around sane people with sane laughter.
She had forgotten…
The Devourlord sat across from Danette, leaning back on the heels of her hands. The Sepp girl was sitting cross-legged, chin in one hand, tapping her fingers against her legs with the other. "What's the matter?"
Danette huffed in exasperation. "I'm trying to remember your name!"
That took the Devourlord aback. She hadn't really used her name in so long. She had sort of stopped thinking about it. She had been so engulfed in her mad desire for bloodshed and carnage, anything to sate that horrible hunger inside of her, the pain and hurt, the sadness that Lady Layna had been using her as a means to an end…Everything else but her own cruel entertainment had lost all meaning to her long ago.
"You can't remember my name…?" The Devourlord murmured.
"Yes! I'm not that good with names, okay?"
"But we've known each other since we were small." She blinked, flummoxed.
Danette's eyes narrowed. "Well, it's your own name and you forgot it!"
"No I didn't."
"Really? Well then, what is it?"
The Devourlord smirked. "I want to see you flounder around for a little longer."
"Ugh, you're such a jerk!"
"Really? I wouldn't have guessed. It's not like I've murdered children or anything." She said this with a perfectly straight face.
Her companion grimaced.
Some more time passed, a length of undetermined minutes, as Danette continued to mumble to herself, trying to piece together her friend's name. Finally, the Sepp girl gnashed out, "Look you'll tell me what your name is right this instant or I'll snap your neck like a twig!"
"Fine." The Devourlord hesitated, pink eyes raised to scan the black, featureless "sky".
"Hah! You don't know yourself do—"
"Shut up," she hissed. She concentrated furiously, shutting her eyes. What was her name?
"Well?" Danette demanded impatiently. "C'mon, Devourlord."
The letters came to her slowly, gradually. But come they did.
The Devourlord gazed into Danette's open, fiery but kind red eyes. "My name is…Revya."
Again, she had the feeling that she had passed some sort of test. Danette's eyes sparkled once more. "It's nice to meet you again…Er, Revya, right?"
The Devourlord blinked once, as if she herself were also confused and unsure. "Yes, my name is Revya." A second time, stronger. "My name is Revya."
And then she smiled.
Danette clip-clopped around in a circle, restless like usual. "How can you be so…so…still all the time?"
Revya shrugged, lying flat on her back with her arms behind her head. "How can you be so active all the time?"
"Because I have all of this energy and nothing to spend it on!" She flopped down beside her friend with a groan, copying Revya's position. "How long do you think it's been?" She inquired after a few seconds of pause.
She shrugged. "I don't really know. It could have been years by now. Hundreds of years. I've lost track."
"And when we go to sleep, who knows how long we're conked out for?"
"Exactly." Revya propped herself up on one elbow. "Danette…"
Her friend gazed up at her past green bangs. "Huh? What's up?"
Her eyes closed. "I'm really sorry."
The words were spoken so quietly that Danette had to sit up and ask her to repeat them.
"I said I'm sorry," Revya said louder, opening her eyes again. "I killed so many people, I k-I k-I killed…" She stared at Danette and then she buried her face in her hands. "I'm…I was a monster, wasn't I?"
"What happened to you? You used to be so different. Like how you are now."
She peeked at the Sepp girl from between her fingers. She could feel the calluses on her hands. She spoke wretchedly. "I was mad at Lady Layna. I remember thinking that she had raised me just to be a tool to defeat the World Eaters, that she never really cared for me at all. And when I had all of that power, literally, at my finger tips…I just wanted to…"
Danette put a hand on her friend's shoulder sympathetically. But Revya went on, her tone becoming gradually quieter.
"I killed out of a blind fury. And when I killed, I felt like…I felt better. It was like somehow I could lessen my own pain if I caused others even more. I wanted to make the world worse off than I was. And in doing so, I locked away my own feelings. That's the most I can tell you." Revya wasn't one for long speeches. Everyone knew she was direct and honest in her approach to things, getting to the point quickly. "I think I lost my mind. And despite what he may tell you, it wasn't Gig. It was me. It was all me."
The Sepp girl didn't speak for what seemed like an infinite stretch that just spread out forever, like stars in a night sky. Then, she whispered, "I forgive you."
"I don't deserve it. I don't deserve your kindness, either. You should have left me in here to rot alone..."
"But that wouldn't have helped!" protested Danette. She became a bit annoyed. "I mean, look at you now! The fact that you're admitting you were a monster, that you're aware of what you did…You got better. You really did. It's a huge improvement over how you first were when we ended up inside this thing. You weren't human then."
"It's only because of you. If I had been left here alone, I'd have destroyed everything the first chance I got."
"Maybe," Danette admitted. "But I like to think you would have gotten better on your own."
"You think too highly of me." Revya closed her eyes and drew her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around them. She rested her forehead against her knees. "Danette?" She said in a small voice.
"…Will you sing that lullaby again? Just this once?"
Danette sounded surprised, but pleasantly so. "Of course I will."
For some, inexplicable reason, the gentle melody made her think of Gig.
Best of luck, Gig. Wherever you are…
A strange force.
It was like gravity, but in reverse.
Revya's eyes snapped open, and rosy hair flying around her face, she sprang to her feet and rotated in a circle. "What's going on?"
Danette's head was cocked to the side, listening to something.
Revya turned to face her friend. "Danette, what is going on?"
The Sepp girl blinked at her slowly, a sad smile on her face. "It's time."
"Huh? What are you talking about?"
"They're releasing us," Danette explained. "We're going to be reincarnated!"
"They're putting me into the Cycle? Th-They can't! Tell them they can't!"
"They want to see you first." Danette's form seemed to be flickering. No…it was flickering. Revya ran up to her and grabbed both of her hands in her own.
"What's wrong with you?"
"I'm a Crimson Tear, remember? They're asking me to release the seal that's keeping you in the sword. When I do that, I'll be put into the Cycle of Souls."
"But…you're my best friend," Revya pleaded. "What if I can't find you in your next life? What if I revert back to how I was?"
Danette grinned. "You will, and you won't! If I reincarnate and find you destroyed half the world again, though, I'm going to snap your neck like a—"
But with one final squeeze of her hands, the Sepp girl disappeared, and the now familiar blackness of the Onyx Blade collapsed in on itself.
Revya, former Devourlord of Prodesto, shut her eyes tight and prepared for the unknown.
It was supposed to be impossible.
She couldn't go straight from being in the Onyx Blade to being in a physical form. It was impossible. If it were possible, Gig would have done the same long ago.
And yet, here she was.
Who knew how many years had passed? Maybe this was standard procedure now for magic.
Revya squinted against the sudden, bright onslaught of vibrant colors, too used to the mindless black of the Onyx Blade. She was in a vaguely recognizable…
Her eyes shot open wide. Wasn't this Lady Layna's chamber, in the Hidden Village? The dark cavern walls certainly looked dreadfully familiar…
"Danette…" She murmured brokenly, feeling an ache in her heart.
"Devourlord…or should I say Revya? Welcome back."
Revya pivoted to see an unexpected face holding the Onyx Blade. It was Lady Layna, as she remembered her. Immediately, she kneeled, pressing her right fist against the cold floor in a type of salute. "Lady Layna," she said gravely. "Forgive me. For I have sinned."
"I assume Danette's plan was a success…perhaps…" Lady Layna remarked thoughtfully.
"I cannot atone for the evils I have done," Revya nearly whispered, her voice cracked and broken.
Then, a sudden, wholly unanticipated voice as well-known to her as her own spoke from behind.
"I've done the same deeds as you. But maybe we can atone for the deaths we caused in one life with good deeds in others. Am I right, kid?"
Revya lifted her head, turned, and met a familiar pair of striking, sky blue eyes.
His name escaped from her almost against her will, a smile finding its way onto her face.
Author's Note: My first Soul Nomad story so I'm sorry for an OOC-ness. Also it was finished at 4 AM so, y'know, apologies for that too. Clearly this takes place after the (arguably) Good Ending of the Demon Path. Female Revya, no pairings really intended unless you just want to see them. Reviews are appreciated!