"You know, Kid, it would be pretty cool if we could get more info before being sent off to danger," Soul grumbled as he looked up at the rotting stone structure before him. It seemed to be the remains of an old temple or chapel, but now was overgrown with moss. The empty doorway revealed a large pool of water that had accumulated in the central chamber with the roof collapsed. Ever slouching, the death scythe's red eyes shifted to the young shinigami, who was staring intently, his eyes bulging at the structure. "Let me guess, it doesn't meet your artistic demands?"
Kid closed his eyes in concentration. "Of course not. But I'm not going to let it bother me. I'm not going to let it bother me. I'm not-"
"Yahoo! C'mon, Tsubaki! We'll find Asura from up here for sure! And everyone will finally recognize my greatness in Death City!" Maka Albarn, standing to the left of her weapon, groaned as Black Star continued his proclamations of glory from the top of a mossy pillar. The hyper-active ninja had become better, but still had his lapses. Deciding to ignore him for the time, she copied her partner's attention to the shinigami.
"So we really don't know what Asura's doing here, Kid? Not even a suspicion?"
Kid sighed. "Father has been open with me as of late. I doubt he's hiding any knowledge he might have. The only thing he would tell me is that the barrier we passed through was even older than he was. So we really don't know what's going on, what's here, anything. Given nobody was ever able to enter it, it was always just ignored. It wasn't harming anything. But Asura's done something here. So we'll figure out what, and get out asap."
"Good," the pistol in his right hand, Liz, commented. "This place is creeping me out. It's all old and overgrown. At this rate, we're to end up fighting monsters and ghosts, I can just tell."
"Aww, I'm sure we'll be alright, sister," the other pistol, Patty, commented. "Besides, I'm sure Kid will take extra care to make sure to keep you away from all the scary monsters!"
"Patty!" the other two shouted at her, Kid blushing lightly as Patty laughed hysterically.
"Not that it will matter!" Black Star announced as he landed gracefully in front of the group. "Nothing's getting past me and Tsubaki!" The young woman materialized next to him out of the sword sheath, a gentle smile on her face.
"Of course, Black Star," she said, smiling. "I'm sure you'll make sure everyone will be just fine."
"Well, not like you need any help being just fine," he said, smirking as he planted a kiss on her cheek.
"Anyways, spot anything while you were up there?" Maka asked the ninja, heading off further distractions. "Anything notable?"
"Yeah, there's a graveyard past this chapel. Saw a tunnel that descended into the cliff side. There's also a path on the cliff going the other way. I say we go find out where the tunnel goes."
"Fine, let's just get moving and get this over with. I wanna get out of here, this place is giving me a bad feeling." Maka looked at her partner slouching off, frowning. Soul had been grouchy the whole way over here. Something was bothering him, and he wasn't telling her. This was exactly the sort of thing that always got them in trouble. She made a mental note to corner him over this sooner rather than later and at least cajole some kind of understanding out of him.
The group reassembled, standing on a stone stairway that led down to a disorderly, crammed cemetery. There were markers placed haphazardly everywhere across. There barely looked to be enough room to cross through with any semblance of respect for the dead. At some point, it seemed they ran out of room altogether, because bones littered the ground. Soul stood at the bottom of the stairwell, looking bored as the rest joined him. "Alright, let's get go- wait, Maka, is that a tattoo?" He was looking at his partner with an incredulous look on his face.
"What?! No, of course not! I'd never get a tattoo!" the blond yelped.
"Then what the hell is this thing?" he asked, giving an inquisitive poke at the right side of the base of her neck.
"What's the fuss?" Kidd asked, coming out of the chapel, with Black Star and Tsubaki in tow.
Soul looked up, still confusion on his face. "Maka got a tattoo," he said, pointing obtusely at her neck.
"No way! That's awesome, Maka!" Black Star yelled in celebration. "You want my signature too?"
"I don't have a tattoo!" Maka yelled, stomping her foot in indignation. Before she realized it, Kid was in her face as well. Or, in her neck, to be more precise. He was carefully examining a small, dark circle, a look of barely constrained consternation on his face. He raised a finger and poked it repeatedly. "Ouch!" Maka yelped. She slapped her hand to her neck covering the area.
"It's definitely not a tattoo… it's some kind of magical mark," Kid remarked. "It felt different than skin." He looked at Maka, his face dead serious. "We should definitely have someone examine this when we finish here."
"I'll be fine. Let's just figure out what's going on here." Maka brushed him off and began stomping towards the graveyard. Kid sighed as Soul marched off after his partner.
Something's not right. Magical marks appearing with no warning, no visible altercation, nothing. There's something very wrong with this place.
No sooner had Kid finished his though then he heard the irate meister shriek ever so briefly in surprise. Snapping himself out of his thoughts, Kid looked in shock as the bones littering the graveyard began assembling themselves into skeletal forms, wielding curved swords and spears. Without the need for a command, Soul transformed to his scythe form, while Kid could hear Tsubaki's transformation behind him. He spread his feet into the Mortal Sin Stance. His eyes went wide as he recognized what Maka soon called out.
"Kid, Black Star, I can see a soul ahead! It's a witch! Handle the skeletons, I'm going ahead!"
"Maka no!" But the eager meister was already off, bounding ahead of the skeletons, leaping around them across the tops of tombstones. Losing interest in a fleeing prey, the increasing horde turned to Kid and Black Star.
"She's always taking my spotlight," the ninja beside him grumbled. "Guess I'll take it out on these lousy skeletons. Ready, Tsubaki?"
"Of course, Black Star," the chain scythe responded.
"Maka, we shouldn't be separating this far from Kid and Black Star," Soul reminded his partner as she raced down the stone path leading into the cliff. "If this is a trap…"
"We'll be fine, Soul. Besides, those skeletons didn't have souls, it's probably the witch commanding them. We take care of the witch, we take care of them." Maka rounded a corner, finding herself face to face with three more skeletons, one impossibly huge and wielding a massive curved sword as big as she was. Just behind them was a fleeing, cloaked form holding a lantern lit by fire. "Soul," Maka began.
"I know," he said, grinning in the ethereal reflection on his blade.
"SOUL RESONANCE!" the two commanded at the top of their voices. In a flash, the death scythe shifted form to a great crescent and glowed a fluorescent blue.
"WITCH HUNTER!" Maka cried out as she arced her weapon through the advancing strike of the giant skeleton, carving through it and its two companions in a single strike. The bones scattered about the steps as Maka pursued. The cloaked figure turned around, and a grotesque man looked back at Maka as she pulled up, unable to help being slightly horrified and disgusted. His face looked worn, sagging, battered by pox. The lantern was the only light besides Soul's illuminated form. It wordlessly brandished the lantern forward, and flames streaked out. Maka sidestepped and twirled into another witch hunting strike. She brought her weapon down on the sorcerer, whose reflexes only permitted weakly holding the lantern up as a shield. Soul struck through it, his blade slicing past it and hacking through their foe's hands. A guttural cry of pain came from the sorcerer, who staggered back, looking at the stumps where his wrists ended in shock.
"Your soul is mine!" Maka cried as she leaped forward and brought Soul down in downward arc, slicing straight through the decrepit man. He fell to his knees for a moment before his body slowly disintegrated. "Hey Soul, is it me, or is there something different about this soul?" Maka queried as she examined the purple orb floating before them.
"Well, just let me taste it and- Maka!" Maka's eyes widened, and her pupils dilated as she looked in shock. She looked down at the saber emerging from her chest. The only sound to emerge from her throat was a squeak of agony. She turned her head and saw the offender, a half reassembled skeleton, little more than a torso that had to have crawled its way back, dragging the blade down. On little more than adrenaline, she grabbed the forearm and snapped it with her hands. Pulling around, she swung Soul down and smashed the remainder of the bones into pieces. A second skeleton was rambling back and with a cry of rage, sword still embedded through her torso, Maka smashed it as well. With heavy breathing, Maka waited for a sign of the bones reassembling again. After ten seconds of no activity, she fell to her knees and collapsed on her side.
"Maka!" Soul shifted back to his human form. He looked in horror at his maimed meister, panting on the ground, her eyes still wide in shock. He dropped to his knees, holding her left hand with both of his. "Stay with me, Maka. Come on, you're going to be fine, you're Maka Albarn, creator of the coolest Death Scythe ever!" She was coughing blood amidst her heavy pants for air. Soul closed his eyes, willing himself to calm. He nudged his own soul to Maka, trying to feel her out, offer comfort. When he opened his eyes, he was back in a familiar dark room, wearing a suit and red dress shirt. As always, there was a skipping, intermittent jazz tune in the background. He was sitting on the bench in front of the grand piano. A snapping of fingers caused his head to whip around.
"Oh, how… interesting. Seeking me out? This is new," the red demon said with a grin as he stepped out of tune with the music, snapping his fingers along the way. "You seemed pretty intent last time on keeping far away," the demon scowled for a moment. "So, what brings about the change of heart? Imminent doom? But, you seem just fine."
Soul looked down. "It's… Maka. You need to save her! She needs the black blood!"
"Ooooh… of course, it's about her. Always about her. You know, Soul, if you were more concerned with yourself, you wouldn't end up in these situations."
"Shut up! You don't know anything, you stupid imp! Maka's… she's important, alright! I need her! And you're a part of me, so you need her too! Got that, you idiot? Now help save her!" The toothy grin on the demon gave way to a scowl once again.
"He can't do it, Soul," an angelic voice timidly called out. Soul whipped around again. There she was. Back in his head. Or his soul, or wherever this was. She was wearing that black dress, like she always was when she came in here. The dress reminded him of how long it had been since the last visit. She looked even prettier than he remembered, the dress very complementary of her maturing figure. "The black blood can't help with this… it can't stop all the blood I've already lost. Or heal the injuries."
"No, Maka!" Soul rushed up from his chair and embraced her. "Maka, you can't give up! You're the most determined meister in death city! Come on!" Tears were streaming down his face. "Maka, do you hear me? You're not giving up here in this stupid hellhole!"
Maka looked up at her weapon, a single tear running down her own face. "It hurts so much, Soul." She touched her hand to her chest, which showed no sign of the wound. "I can't hold on for much longer, Soul. We're miles in the middle of nowhere."
"Maka, stay with me!" Soul hugged her tighter. "I need you! I can't let my mistake… you can't die because I failed you!"
"Is that it?" she asked quietly, no anger in her voice. "Am I just your guilt trip?"
"No, Maka! You, you're more than that," Soul's voice quivered as he buried his face into her shoulder. "I- Maka, I love you. I need you."
Maka squeezed a hug back. "Soul, I-"
And just like that, she was gone. Vanished in his arms. Soul fell to his knees. "No… nonononono, MAKA. MAKA!" With a jerk, he found himself back on the rotted stone path, Maka's broken form before him. Tears running down his face, Soul cupped a hand to her face. Her breathing had stopped, her eyes blank. Soul collapsed down, embracing her lifeless body. He couldn't hear the screams of his friends standing up the stairs. He couldn't feel Kid's hand on his shoulder. He was lost in a whole other world, one in which he'd warned Maka in time. One where his partner, the only one who understood him, was smiling warmly as they left the cavern and returned triumphantly as always to their loyal friends…
A/N: Hiya hiya. This is a bit of an experiment. Hopefully will have the next chapter up soon. Comments always welcome. :) I don't own Soul Eater or Dark Souls, they are the property of Atsushi Ōkubo and and Namco Bandai, respectively. Please don't sue me, there's not much to take anyways.