Disclaimer: This is an AU fanfic, sequel to my other fic White Haired Reaper. Any and all credit goes to the respective owners, I do not own Soul Eater
-Sharpen the Blades of your soul-
They came into town as if nothing were out of the ordinary. But for the people who lived in this rundown village of needles, probably nothing could've been farther from the truth.
He had no way of knowing just what exactly was running through these villagers minds as they walked in, through the imaginary front door of a place they'd practically owned some two months before. The looks on their faces was anything but welcoming and he could tell just from the fear in their eyes that there would be no welcoming for them. High above them, the sun beat down on the lowly group of four heralds as they continued their miserable trek into what was now enemy territory. Their mission was simple and clear, hopefully without any resistance.
That's what his superior told him, the man with the shaggy hair who headed the operation. He was supposed to be strong; at least that's what the other man told him, the Reaper with a bandage over his left eye. So far he seemed to be right, since they were still alive and walking through Needle Village unharmed. But he knew that Dengu Dinga, personal assassin to Lord Grim, wasn't even one of thoseReapers; he didn't eat souls like the bandaged man did. In fact, none of the others did including himself. The weak one. The skinny one. Why The Grim even put him on this mission was a mystery to the boy in black and the more he thought about it, the more he scratched his messy pink hair in confusion. He didn't like not knowing things. He didn't know how to deal with it.
This sun made everything hot and being hot wasn't good before a fight. But they weren't fighting yet, even though Lord Grim said they would be. Did he lie to them when he sent them out here? In a blazing desert, sand as far as the eye could see, there wasn't anyone out here except the villages. All the Grigories already belonged to The Grim, except for the ones living here. That's why they were there...right? Find the Reaper that wasn't a Reaper anymore and kill him. Then find his friend who befriended a Reaper and kill him too...right? Did he get any of that right...?
"Crona, stay focused." Out in front, the leader named Dengu gave a stern warning, "If we mess this up, our title as the new Spartoi will be worth nothing."
Behind the others and already weary, the young Reaper swallowed the growing lump in his throat and nodded to an audience of no one. The only ones truly paying attention to him were the scared onlookers that watched them walk through the village, most of them through the windows in the shacks they called homes. Turning this way and that, Crona looked and frowned at the commotion they caused; all of this attention wasn't good for a sneak attack. Then again, he didn't even know if that's what they were doing. Nobody told him anything important, because he wasn't important.
Cannon fodder. That's what one of the other men called him as they walked through the sandy streets, cannon fodder. His laugh was muffled by his cloak, but even then Crona didn't like it when people laughed at others for no reason like that. Was there something funny about this situation that he didn't understand? Maybe it was because he'd only just become a Reaper, he wasn't old like the other ones. In fact, Mr. Dinga was an old acquaintance of the man they were sent to kill. And that man was...two hundred years old? He must look so clammy...
"Why is nobody attacking us, sir?" Crona piped up from behind, twiddling his thumbs under the gazes of so many frightened people.
Dengu shook his head and tossed the young Reaper a glance. "Because they're just Grigories, whelp. The only one you have to worry about is the Azure Knight."
Crona looked down at the sand and gulped yet again; he'd forgotten the Azure Knight. That was the other man they were tasked with killing, him and the Reaper named Eater. But hadn't he already said that? Did it matter since all this was in his head? All these thoughts, it hurt his brain. The boy grabbed his head and shook it feverishly, groaning to himself as the others rolled their eyes. They didn't like it when he started doing things like these, they said it was a mistake to bring him along. He couldn't help it though. Just like the man in bandages said, he was mad.
Still preoccupied with the bizarre conflict happening within his own skull, the pink haired soldier continued to trudge without even realizing the others had stopped. Attention elsewhere, he ended up smacking into the men in front of him as they'd come to a dead halt outside a house in the middle of the village. They hissed at him to watch where he was going, and as he fell to the ground poor Crona got the picture. He shook himself out of the trance-like state he found himself in and turned his eyes towards the imposing structure before them.
If he wasn't already on his butt, he would have fallen on it anyway. It wasn't big like The Grim's mansion back in Death, but it was still a whole lot better than any of the other buildings surrounding them. And the weird part was, it kind of looked like it was stitched together with...well, stitches. He couldn't believe that something could exist in a place like this dried up old desert, much less in Needle Village where everything was supposed to be rundown. In fact, it slightly scared him; how was he supposed to deal with something like this? He couldn't.
It wasn't possible. "Mr. Dinga! Is this where they're staying?"
"I guarantee you not for much longer," the leader rumbled, his voice smooth and hard as rock.
Crona picked himself up and dusted the sand off his clothes. "But I don't even know how to fight! I don't know how I can help-!"
"-Just stay out of our way," Dengu commanded, motioning for the others to take their positions. "So long as the job gets done, we might let you take some credit."
Two of the men went around the sides of the house, both their faces hidden behind white satin cloth. They folded their arms and remained steadfast in case of their target's escape, while their leader, Dengu, took point at the doorstep. Totally emotionless and seemingly afraid of nothing, the tall Reaper made his way towards the door in confident strides. Stuck at the sidelines, Crona watched his superior take a solid fist and slam on the door so hard he was afraid it would eventually fall over. It continued for longer than what was appropriate, but after a few minutes of unceasingly beating on the thing, Dengu finally stopped. Immediately he hopped backwards and readied himself for anything, as if the Reaper who wasn't a Reaper anymore would actually answer.
To Crona's dismay, he didn't. "The hell's with all the noise! It's half-past noon, people are trying to sleep!"
Lord Grim's heralds all snapped to attention as the door suddenly flew open, revealing a shabby looking man wearing not much on besides some cloth underwear that had seen one too many days. In utter horror, Crona turned the other way as his face quickly boiled bright red. He couldn't see the other Reaper's reactions since they wore those hoods, but just by the way they cringed too he knew they were mortified as well. Even stalwart Dengu, the newly christened member of the once infamous Spartoi, shuddered at the sight of it all.
"I take it...you'rethe Azure Knight?" the lanky man asked, who by now had already collected himself. "The blue hair on your head is a dead giveaway-"
"-No fucking shit, genius! You Reapers are all getting dumber by the day, I swear. At least the ones from a couple months back didn't make this much noise right before I killed them..."
Reluctantly, Crona slowly forced himself to turn back to the Azure Knight out of curiosity. He wanted to see what kind of man could kill dozens of Lord Grim's most powerful soldiers, Soul Eaters, like they were nothing more than flies. Despite that, he still found himself red in the face at the sight of the nearly naked man and cringed the entire time he looked him over. Solid muscle was the only way to describe the Grigori, which was a far cry from every other he'd seen before. Though still young compared to everyone else, he knew that Grigories were nothing more than food for Reapers to become stronger. They were supposed to be weak, defenseless, which is why Lord Grim didn't have any trouble controlling the twenty or so villages throughout the desert.
But this man was different. He wasn't very tall, especially when standing right next to Dengu, but there was this strange look to his eyes that Crona couldn't understand even if he wanted to. It was like despite being surrounded on all sides by Reapers sent to kill him, there wasn't an ounce of fear anywhere in those green pupils of his. In fact, it was almost like he enjoyed having this much attention on him, and it was for that reason that Crona couldn't comprehend this man. In what point would there be to make oneself known? It didn't make sense.
"Before I rip your spine out, tell me where Eater is hiding." Dengu commanded with a resonating rumble, "Don't test my patience. We'll find him either way."
The Azure Knight raised a brow, taken aback for a second. Then without warning his face erupted into a devious smile, "You honestly think he's hiding?"
"Tell me where the traitor is, Black of the Star Clan. Members of Spartoi are obligated to deal with their own," the Reaper growled, confident.
"Members of Spartoi...?" he repeated, slowly coming to some sort of realization. "Sounds interesting. Soul would love to talk to you."
"Then tell us where he is dammit! I'm getting sick of this bullshit-!" Dengu started to shout, right before something cut him off.
And at the sight of his leader being pounced on by a streak of white, Crona suddenly found his voice. "Mr. Dinga!"
It happened so fast, he didn't know to deal with it. The others should have caught it too, but even they didn't even realize what was happening until there was a miniature plume of sand that flew into the air. Two bodies fell to the ground, with Dengu being the one pinned down by an imposing figure hunched over him. The Reaper stuck his tongue out as he choked, desperate for air as whatever it was clenched around his throat with eager hands. Crona screamed for his superior as he suddenly got a flash of the attacker's face, because whoever it was frightened him like nothing else.
Teeth, fangs, whatever they were, lined up neatly in his jaws. So sharp, it looked to him like they could even cut steel without a problem. Eyes redder than blood shifted in the man's head, zeroing in on his captured prey and boring holes into Dengu as he gave him a nightmarish glare. That expression alone was enough to make anyone quake with fear, but maybe the scariest thing to Crona was that hair of his; snowy and fair, so white that clouds must have been jealous of him. That in itself was the final straw for the young Reaper, because even though he wasn't smart like the others he knew exactly who this person was. He'd heard stories about him. Heard the things he did a long time ago. Heard what he did to people he didn't like.
He took out their soul and ate it in front of them.
The White Haired Reaper, that's what they called him.
Lord Grim's strongest, his name was Eater. Now he remembered. The one person who made The Grim mad enough to become the first Reaper exiled in shame, it was this man hovering over his superior that they were supposed to kill. Crona couldn't stop shaking, his entire body locked in place as stressful tears started to well up in his eyes. There was no way to kill somebody like that, not even for Mr. Dinga. And as the other men ran towards him in a desperate scramble, the young Reaper already knew where things were headed. He was distraught.
"Dengu Dinga, the hell are you doing here?" the white Reaper asked briskly, still clamping down hard on his victim's throat.
Trying to say something, Crona's superior choked only a few words. "Lord Grim...! He appointed...Spartoi, me-!"
"-Yeah, I heard that part," Eater cut him off as he leaned down to growl in Dengu's ears. "Don't care."
It looked like he was about to say more, but his time talking was cut short as the other men came towards them quicker than lightning. Slightly surprised, Eater promptly released his prey before spinning around to face the oncoming Reapers. He just stood there with his hands at his sides, making a point to not even raise a finger. Crona thought for sure their mission was already going to be over, but again he was proven wrong when both men threw their punches at the white Reaper. With calculating eyes, Eater displayed why all their efforts were useless.
Twisting his body in the subtlest way possible, it seemed as though he hadn't moved at all. The punches flew towards either side and missed him completely, albeit it with just inches to spare. Dengu's men froze in place, realizing immediately the amount of trouble they were in. And as they raised their heads in unison to find terrifyingly sharp teeth grinning back at them, there was little more they could do to defend themselves from a counterattack. Without warning, Eater snatched them up from the ground and hurled the two across the sand as if they weighed nothing. Crona's knees rattled as his comrades flew by him, their groans of pain as they smacked against soft earth making the young Reaper pray with everything he had that he wasn't next.
"I'll take care of them, Black Star," the monster of a man called back to his friend, almost casually. "Tell Stein I'll keep them from fucking up his house, alright?"
"Yeah whatever you say, Soul. I'll tell him after I wake up in another three hours," Black Star answered back, waiving him off as he started off inside.
Watching the Azure Knight leave, the Reaper who wasn't a Reaper anymore made a disgusted face. "And put some pants on for god's sake!"
Without looking back, Black of the Star clan flipped his nagging friend the bird and slammed the door shut behind him as he disappeared inside. Left standing there, Eater gave a bitter scowl before turning his attention back to the four heralds. Among them was Crona who, still following orders, kept far behind the others as they quickly regrouped in front of him. Dengu scrambled up from the ground and spat dryly, followed by his back up who jumped up on their feet and made a v-formation pointed towards their target. None of them injured, save of course their pride.
The youngest of the gathering watched, mesmerized, as the White Haired Reaper wasted no time in getting things started. His attitude completely shifted, the air around him suddenly becoming much more serious at the disappearance of all emotion from his face. He raised his arm, hand out and palm up, then without a word summoned the weapon that had made him a living legend. With a crack of white light that snaked from the Reaper's chest, it quickly gathered in his grasp and solidified into the shaft of a scarlet bladed scythe. Crona gaped at its beauty, nothing at all like what he'd been told it was supposed to look like; nobody ever said anything about gold around the head of it, or just how sharp and deadly it looked even from so far away!
It was so intimidating, the inexperienced soldier had no idea how to respond. He just stood there and shook, wanting to step away but not even having the courage to do that. Instead, the others responded for him. No hesitation in their movements, the other three Reapers summoned their weapons as well. For the silent pair, both summoned steel claws on opposite arms that matched the others. They gleamed silver, ornately carved, more than likely being twins underneath their covers as well. At the same time, Dengu displayed why he was in charge. To his left hand, a crack of golden light formed into the shape of an odd-looking ax. Instead of a blade at the end of it, three solid prongs formed its shape. At its base, a jagged and ornate hilt.
"That's not the same scythe from a hundred years ago, Eater!" the tall Reaper boomed, sounding almost offended. "Your soul has changed, hasn't it? You're weaker now!"
Still in a state of utter calm, the white Reaper brought his scythe out to the side and looked it over himself. "Lots of things have changed, Dengu. But if you think I'm weak, I'll prove you wrong."
"By orders of Lord Grim, for consorting with the Eventide Angel," Dengu began to recite, ignoring his target's widening eyes. "We're going to finish what should have been done a long time ago."
For the first time, Crona understood what it meant to be a soldier. The air around him whipped into a frenzy and second later he gasped in amazement when everyone in front of him disappeared into ethereal nothing, the sand where they stood thrown up high into the sky with such force that it blotted out the sun. He shielded his eyes as debris pelted his face, along with the onlookers of people far behind him that weren't smart enough to take shelter earlier. All of them were now at the mercy of four very powerful creatures, and the young Reaper wasn't sure if they would pay enough attention to avoid hurting any of them as they fought. At the moment, all he could do was try and keep up with battle taking place right before him, so fast it was barely able to be seen.
In a cloud of sand, the white Reaper dashed back and forth as his attackers followed suit. Their weapons drawn, the twin Reapers chased him down on either side and lunged with metallic claws extended. With ease, Eater looked back and forth between the both of them and threw his scythe around as if it weighed nothing, his ability to defend far surpassing theirs to assault. They grew desperate as their claws bounced off without doing damage, and quickly they took to jumping in the air and alternating their sides in an effort to throw him off.
With a scowl, he took his foot and stuck the ground. A skid of sand trailed as he came to a dead stop, the others finding out too late that their target was now behind them until was already too late. By the time they came to a stop and spun around to dash back, they witnessed with eyes wide as saucers as Eater met them face to face. Such a cold face, they had no way of knowing just went through his mind as he took his scythe and brought it from the ground. In an arc of shining white, the scarlet scythe drew its first blood for the first time in months.
"Pillar in the dark," he whispered to himself as his blade slashed through flesh, screams drowning out the air around him. "Under-Arc Hunter."
Needle Village erupted into a giant plume of light, forcing everyone including Crona to shield their eyes once again. The lone Reaper's screams came to a halt as his body split in two, none of it being seen by anyone save for the cause of it all. By the time everyone returned to their senses and the white Reaper disappeared yet again, only one of the twin attackers was left standing. His entire body frozen, he alone dared to look down at the bloody heap of clothing next to him. He nearly gagged at the sight, and threw his head back to shout for Dengu to avenge his brother.
Absent the entire time, Crona's leader finally made his appearance. Out of nowhere he emerged from the shadows, perched atop one of the rickety shacks like a buzzard to the smell of rotted meat. As if waiting for something, he crouched there patiently and looked with pity at the remains of what was one of his comrades. Not a second later, as he muttered something to himself about revenge, his prey came to him right on schedule. Dengu turned his head to the side, at the same time a certain white haired man suddenly materialized right before him. The look of surprise across Eater's face was so noticeable that Mr. Dinga broke his grim face for a moment to sneer haughtily, already pointing his ax his soon-to-be victim.
"No matter how strong you are, you were always so predictable." The Grim's herald popped to his feet, back straight as he leered down at him.
Eater's surprise only lasted a second before regressing into another one of his angry scowls, "Don't talk to me like you're my equal!"
"I'm your superior!" Dengu hissed, this time breaking all his composure as he lunged forward with his ax to finish things.
The white Reaper stepped backward, his feet instinctively knowing where to land on such a narrow roof. His scythe came to defense once again, a technique he'd learned after months of training with its new form. As Dengu threw all his weight into a two-handed strike, Eater brought his blade around the side like a windmill. At the perfect time he struck, just the right spot where he could knock both ax harmlessly to the side with Dengu along with it. Eyes wide, Crona watched their leader made the exact same expression as their prey suddenly became the attacker.
As Dengu fell to the side, the White Haired Reaper swung his leg around and brought a crushing blow to the bastard's face. He watched with stoicism as the lanky Reaper reeled and flew off the side of the shack, ending with a soft thud from the sands below them. Not missing a beat, Eater hopped over his scythe and followed to chase after him. It was like they were both reading each other's minds, because no sooner had Dengu recovered and hopped back to his feet that The Grim's strongest was standing right there behind him. He already knew where he'd be.
"I don't care for this game you're playing," Eater growled in the man's ear, so close his breath brushed against skin. "I never cared for titles."
Mr. Dinga made a pained sort of face. "You're a fucking hypocrite! That's why you ate those souls back then, to become the strongest!"
"Tell me why you called her that," the Reaper ignored him. "If he's doing something to Maka, I'll drag him back to hell with me!"
"I'm going to send you back empty handed, Eater!" Dengu roared back, summoning his ax again as he spun around attack.
Crona, the villagers, everyone watching, they stood in awe as a fight broke out between two men that transcended what was supposed to be real. Every step they took, every swing of their blades, it sent shock waves throughout the tiny village and the earth beneath them. As Dengu swung, the sheer force of his missed attacks sent canyons of sand in different directions. Two shacks on either side became obliterated almost instantly, no one thankfully inside. Meanwhile, Eater dodged them all. His dexterity had improved somewhat, and his control over the scythe was unmatched.
He used all of these to his advantage. At every opportunity he could make, he would cut Dengu off at the pass and stop his attack before it could even be launched. With the few seconds of time that gave him, he would bring his foot up and stamp him in the chest. It wasn't enough force to hurt the slender Reaper, but that wasn't the point. Calm and collected, Eater watched carefully as Dengu's temper only increased with each missed attack and every kick to his torso. He was being taunted and it pissed him off to no end, which translated into more powerful strikes of his ax. More sand kicked up, more earth destroyed, and every time he swung Eater found it harder and harder to parry his blows. But as Dengu's strength grew, so too did his sloppiness.
His stance was off, his movements were too blunt. Sure he was powerful, more so that most Reapers, but his pride was his biggest weakness. Eater knew this and after minutes of blow-for-blow combat, his old acquaintance finally made a mistake. His ax came down just a hairsbreadth to the side, but for the white Reaper it was enough. In an instant, he brought his scythe up to knock the weapon out of his hand. The blade made a whistling sound as it flew through the air, followed by a sharp clang as steel met itself. Dengu watched, in horror, as his weapon left him.
It unceremoniously fell to the ground. Just a simple thud would be the sound of the Reapers death, because Eater wasted no time. Crona saw everything play out from his lookout point, his eyes wanting to water but something in the air just wouldn't allow it. Maybe it was just pure fascination of what was to come, when The Grim's Strongest brought his scythe out in front of him and held it straight up towards the sun like a staff. Only instead of striking, he just held onto it a strange stance; arms horizontal, his palms open as if ready to hold on tight.
"I'll show you why nobody can have my empty seat on Spartoi," Eater cautioned, his eyes suddenly turning a bright crimson. "Why only Soul Eaters have the strength to be called monsters."
That feeling Crona had, the fascination of what was to come, was quickly satisfied. On the one hand it was horrific, just the sheer speed and strength in which it all took place. Most of him wanted to scream and heave up last night's dinner, because just how quickly his leader was ripped to shreds would be enough to make anyone sick. But what scared Crone truly was the fact that part of him actually liked seeing it, that moment when the White Haired Reaper took his scythe and, in a single motion that nobody besides a Reaper could see, slashed in the form of a hexagram all along Mr. Dinga's body. Such a thing was impossible, to get a scythe moving quickly enough to slash someone so many times as they ran past them, but he did. Somehow, Eater did it.
"Assault on six sides," the Reaper recited to himself tiredly, as a heap of bones and flesh turned to dust right behind him. "Hexagonal Hunt."
Staring out into an empty desert, Dengu's face changed not a degree. He was emotionless, hollow, as if his spirit was already dead and buried. The only thing he did, just before collapsing to the ground, was look down at what was left of his body. Like Eater's scythe was cursed, every point on his body that had come into contact with it turned to a dry, ebony sand. No pain, no feeling of any kind, Dengu simply accepted his fate without a word. Crona watched with no emotion as his superior fell and died right there. Nobody said a word, since nothing would have been appropriate anyway.
The white Reaper didn't try to look at the dead man. All he did was look up to the sky and sigh, his body tired from using the techniques he hadn't yet fully mastered. Scythe at his side, he shook his head and threw the weapon over his shoulders. Crona, numb from everything and silently scarred, just stood there and watched Eater turn towards him. The latter made an interested face, brow raised in earnest as he looked the boy over. Finding something in the young Reaper, he made his way toward him casually as if never having killed two men in the past ten minutes.
With his free hand, he dug into his pant pocket in search of something. "You were tagging along with them, right?"
"M-Me?" Crona suddenly piped, his heart pumping back to life when Eater nodded. "Yes! I mean, no! Mr. Dinga told me to stay!"
"I can hear your soul," he replied calmly, the exhaustion clear and heavy on his voice. "It's different from the others. I think I can trust you-"
Eater suddenly stopped dead in his track, something capturing his attention enough to cause those blood red eyes of his to open wide. Crona cocked his head to the side in confusion, not knowing why he froze like that. Then all of a sudden he felt it too; he was a young Reaper, but even he could tell when another was in the area. His brain finally kicked into gear and he realized who it was, the last remaining herald. The brother of the twin that Eater had killed was still alive, and for some really strange reason Crona wished that he wasn't.
At that same thought, the sand behind the white Reaper erupted like a geyser. He had no time to react, only enough to spin around and gaze into the eyes of the claw-armed assassin as he lunged like a giant cat ready to mall and kill. Eater's face twisted in an angry panic, his body in no shape to make a last ditch effort to escape. The Reaper knew this and put his all into a strike aimed right at his target's face, a look of furious blood-lust just underneath his cloak. For one second there, Crona was actually afraid this legend was going to die right before his eyes.
But he didn't. "I can't sleep with all this noise just outside my window."
Blood splattered all over Eater's face, though none of it was his own. In front of him hovered the would-be killer, the light gone from his eyes and body limp as out from his torso jetted out a rusted blade. Its wielder, a familiar half-naked man still suspiciously pant-less, kept the corpse in the air with only one arm. The white Reaper sighed in relief, with Black Star giving him a look of sheer annoyance. Effortlessly he tossed the now dead assassin away like trash and the old sword along with it, all so casually that Crona couldn't understand just how nonchalant these two men could be.
"And you tell me I'm the immature one? Stein told you not to overdo it on the scythe moves, Soul." Black Star grunted, picking at his ear lazily.
Eater, Soul,gave a toothy grin with just as much laziness. "That's the thing about training, you always have to push yourself a little bit farther each time."
Black Star only gave a shrug and shook his head, waving off his friend to finish things. Silently, the Reaper agreed and turned his attention back to Crona, who at the point in time was still trying to figure out just who these people were. They were so abnormal, so powerful, but the way they acted was nothing the young soldier had ever seen before. Reapers were all proud and stiff, and Eater was supposed to be all of those things a hundred times over. But he didn't know how to deal with this Reaper who wasn't a Reaper anymore, because he acted nothing like what he was expecting. The man with the bandage over his eye warned him he had to kill this person, that he was dangerous to The Grim and the world. But slowly, Crona started to realize maybe they were wrong-
"-I've got something for you," a familiar drawl snapped the young Reaper from his thoughts. "I need something done and you're the only one who can do it."
Crona snapped to attention, his face flustered red with embarrassment. "Y-You need something from me? But, I'm supposed to kill you...I mean!"
He didn't know what to say or do; nobody had prepared him to actually fight with anyone, let alone talk with the enemy like this. He was just supposed to be cannon fodder, an able body that was good at taking up space and nothing else. That's all he was, and yet Crona felt slightly different when he gathered enough courage to look this Soul person in the eyes. Red stared back at him, but it wasn't the scary crimson that he'd seen during the fight. Instead, he found a hardened face with a soft expression looking back at him. Those sharp teeth weren't twisted into a scowl, but a tired grin that only confused Crona even more. It was the grin that broke him down, and finally convinced the useless soldier that whatever Eater had to say, it was worth listening to.
"Okay..." he relented after staring awkwardly for longer than necessary, ducking his head in a sad attempt to hide.
Soul raised a brow and smiled. At the same time, he pulled out something from his pocket. "Take this book for me, would you?"
"...A book?" Crona perked slightly, just enough to take the thing and look at its cover. "Why are you giving me a book? Is it important?"
Didn't look like it, at least not to him. More of a journal than anything else, the binding seemed solid enough at least. Crona wasn't much of a reader, but even then he felt like something about this book was special. There was no title on the front, only what looked like an author in gold print; Eibon. The pages seemed worn, like someone had been flipping through them for months on end. Notes stuck out that a person had placed inside, keeping track of something important that he didn't have the time to figure out.
The white Reaper nodded. "Keep it hidden. When you return to Death, find a woman named Maka. Tell her it's from me."
"Do you mean the Eventide Angel? I can't do that!" Crona gasped, frantically waving his arms out in front of him. Soul of course frowned.
"I'm not asking you to lie, go ahead and tell The Grim," he shrugged, slightly annoyed. "I don't care, just make sure she gets it. Do it and I'll owe you anything."
Crona suddenly stopped his frantic denial and thought about things for a second; a favor from the White Haired Reaper? One of the strongest people in the desert, maybe even the world?No matter the reservations he had about talking with the enemy, something like this couldn't be passed up. He was young not stupid, and looking at the little book in his hands Crona figured that such a simple task could be done easily enough. Nothing to worry about, right? The more he thought about it, the better things started to sound in his already messed up little head.
Probably Soul figured he won the boy over, since already he was holding his hand out for him to take. Crona looked at it, then up at him, then back down to the hand again. It was now or never and the longer he waited, the more people started to come out of their shacks to see if the coast was clear. So many onlookers, Crona couldn't handle all the attention. He wanted to disappear as quickly as he'd come, so swallowing the lump in his throat he took Soul's hand and shook on things. Now, he was bound to this favor. No backing out, his life was to this man...the hell had he just done?
"Good, now get the hell outta here." Eater told him flatly, retracting his hand into his pocket. "We've got a lot of cleaning up to do."
Crona's face grew bright red again as he looked around and noticed broken shacks and pissed off faces. "Oh, right. Whatever you say, Mr. Eater..."
Soul snorted, but waved the boy off without saying a word. He turned around and hobbled off to meet back with his waiting friend who, Crona was dismayed to find, still didn't have any pants on. Not having any reason to stick around either, and with an entire village of curious people ready to start asking him questions, the little Reaper slowly turned around to make his way out of there. Along the sandy road towards the desert, a million different things ran through his head. The compelling promise he'd made a fugitive, the death of his superiors and fellow soldiers. None of it made sense, and Crona supposed it never would. No amount of time would make any of this sound right, but strangely he was okay with that. Sort of at least, somewhat...
"Hey, new blood!" he heard Soul call out to him yet again, his voice far off at this point. "Tell me something! Why does everyone I talk to call Maka the Eventide Angel?"
Crona's head popped up and he turned around, finding Eater and Black Star there where he left them. "I uh, I don't know! They...they just do! She's famous!"
Then all of a sudden it disappeared. All the doubt, all the confusion, the worry, it vanished with Soul's reply. "...Just do me another favor, okay? Please, watch over her till I get there."
Something clicked in the young Reaper's head, the way that man spoke making him freeze for a second and stare at the fugitive he was sent to kill. Maybe it was the softness, that slightly desperate lilt in his request, that made Crona agree to him yet again. He found himself waving to the man, despite not even having done so before. Soul seemed just as surprised as him, and with a confused sort of smile waived him off yet again. It wasn't a friendly goodbye, Crona could tell that much; it was his way of being polite and hurrying him along, like a school child.
But he didn't mind at all, in fact he obliged by turning around without stalling any longer. Without a sound, he made his trek back towards the open desert and hoped to find the Runaway Express before sundown. By then, he could get back to Death and report everything to Lord Grim. Hopefully he wouldn't be too upset with him, although The Grim never liked it when one of his Reapers was killed...he didn't know how to deal with an angry god and hopefully would never need to. Maybe just being alive would be enough to keep him happy? Maybe. Probably. Hopefully.
At this point in his ranting, Crona was already outside the village. He didn't realize it until a buzzard flew above him and cawed, making his head snap towards the direction of the noise which was slightly behind him. The sight of tiny shacks made him think about the Reaper named Soul all over again, and a feeling in the pit of his stomach that this wouldn't be the last time they'd meet. Especially not when he made such a promise to a total stranger, though Crona knew right away he couldn't help it. There were so many things he didn't know, things no one would tell him since he was so young. A tiny part of him wanted to find out more and, despite being the ever cautious soldier, that tiny part ended up taking charge. He wanted to discover the world, just a little bit of it at least.
But mostly, he wanted to know why that man looked so sad when he mentioned Ms. Maka's name.
So it's finally here! I promised it would be out before summer, but I guess being right on the dot works too. In any case, I'm gonna have a full workload this time around, with two ongoing fics, school, and looking for a job, but hopefully I can manage. I'll trying to get the next chapter out asap, in the meantime please read my other fics until then while I try to get that out in a timely manner.