"Allow me some time and I'll spin you a tale that happened, way long ago," she answered. Maka still kept a level and angered glare at her, but forced herself to stay seated in the chair. Arachne cleared her throat after taking a dainty sip from her glass of scarlet wine. "Once upon a time," she began darkly. "When Spirit, your father, had just become king, he courted many women, all of which were liable to become his queen. As queen, she would have many powers. Access to the treasury, the power to command any, even...the king himself. However, your father could not pick just one. He toyed with them all. But he knew he would have no choice but to choose one. Eventually...after spending a few years with his pack of play toys, he finally chose one beautiful, young woman." Arachne rose, wine glass tilting in one hand and started a slow stride towards the blonde. "You wouldn't know who that would be, dear?" she asked.
Arachne chuckled sourly. "Absolutely not. The young woman was certainly more beautiful than that...that wench," she spat dryly, enraging Maka.
She shot up from her seat and glared dangerously at the witch. "Don't you dare call my mother that!" she growled.
Arachne was unfazed at her fierceness. "I don't think you're in any position to be demanding anything, my dear. In fact, if you let me continue my story without interruption, I might just let you live." Maka's rage boiled down and she retook her seat, clenching her fists until they were a pale white. "Continuing where we left off, that young woman fell deeply in love with the king, and she believed that the king loved her back. He sent all of the other girls away, knowing that his true beloved one was that young woman. He told her he was going to marry her, and she knew that she would be queen." Arachne's tone turned more bitter as her story went on. "She knew she would live a happy life from now one. After all, she'd spent most of her childhood out on the streets, begging for a better life until she had discovered magic..." She stopped herself suddenly. "Of course, if I tell you that I would be giving away spoilers."
Maka's eyes went wide. "You were Papa's bride-to-be?" she asked.
"Yes. I was. Until that-that little tramp! She stole what was rightfully mine!" Arachne cried loudly, her voice filled with hatred and frustration. When she realized that she had let her emotions overtake her calm demeanor, she stopped herself again the cleared her throat and paused to soothe her anger. "Ahem...allow me to start from the very beginning. It happened on one night..."
It happened on one night, when the breeze was slight and blew at his silky gossamer curtains from the window of his marble balcony, moonlight casting an arched window-shaped shadow upon his room, barely skimming the edge of the mattress upon which he slept away in. Arachne was in the other room, restless. Even though her eyes were closed, she could see through her spider's eyes from the other room, watching carefully over the young king. The witch's lips tugged into a gentle smile. He had promised that he would propose to her tomorrow morning, right when the sun rose. Afterwards, they would be married that night. And she would finally be queen.
Arachne snuggled into her satin sheets further. For the first time, it' wasn't the cold hard sheets she was forced to rest her head on every night until that month. Spirit had found her, 21 years old, begging on the streets. She was a witch, but he never knew that. She either guessed that he was pitying her or that her delicate and graceful looks had finally done something for herself. He took her into the kingdom kindly, offered her food and a place to stay. It was at that time when she realized that he had more than one woman that he was courting. The young woman never had tried to make her own advance at him, despite her growing feelings towards him. The king had a kind of smoothness towards other women that she found alluring. Until, one day he approached her. He told her that he was going to be the next true king, and she was invited to come as the new queen. She was ecstatic. Spirit dismissed all the other women. His chosen one would remain in the castle, eternally happy.
However, as Arachne watched with satisfaction as her future husband slept peacefully, something appeared. The only movement in the room was from the long gossamer curtains blowing into the room with the graceful breeze. She noticed a silhouette of a person, a distinct shadow of a feminine figure, appeared on top of the balcony and beckoned him. The woman stepped down from atop the marble guardrail and strode into his room quietly, her face hiding under the shadow cast by the moonlight. She could see her outfit; she was wearing all black, with black boots and a cape. A thief's outfit. Long blonde hair cascaded down to her shoulders. She had a slim figure. She reached towards her coat and slipped out a small dagger. Arachne's heart leapt from her chest, and she shot out of bed and tip-toed to her room door, watching in horror as the thief woman silently crept up to his bed side with the dagger still in hand. The young witch snuck out of her room and made sure that the thief wasn't alerted by the slight noise that the creak of her door had created.
Suddenly, she heard Spirit chuckled, as if he had been anticipating. "Heheh, it's good to see you Kami. I haven't seen you here in a while."
The woman, apparently named Kami, responded slyly, "Don't fool with me, Spirit. You know what I'm here for."
Through the eyes of her spider, she saw the red-haired king rise from his bed. She could've sworn that he was grinning. "Yes, of course. Always for my favorite thief."
Kami scowled at him. "Don't flatter me, Spirit. You know what happened the last time you tried your little moves on me."
Spirit continued to hold his cocky grin. "I'm not flattering you, I'm just saying what I think. You're probably the damn finest thief I've ever laid eyes on," he cooed. The blonde woman perked a suspicious eyebrow at him. The man slipped from his bed and to a drawer, all while she kept her dagger in her hand. Spirit came to his large mahogany dresser with large mirror and slipped open the over sized drawer. Arachne waited with bated breath right outside his door. She decided that it would be better to wait and see if anything were to happen before barging in.
"Just shut up and give me what I came for. We had a deal, remember?" she growled.
"Yes, yes. I remember," he said sourly. "You can have a small fraction of my gold at the end of every month, and you'll stop preying on the nobles." He rummaged around in the drawer for a moment. "Y'know, I've never taken the time to ask you why such a beautiful lady like yourself would be doing dirty work such as this."
Arachne's chest felt a sharp pain. He called her beautiful. That compliment was meant for herself, not anyone else.
She heard Kami sigh deeply. "Why? Is it wrong to wish for justice among the common folk while you roll around in your riches and leave the whole town dry?
Spirit scoffed. "Oh, I see. You're doing this out of the goodness of your own heart. Isn't there any other hobby you occupy yourself with besides thievery?"
He dug out a small pouch, presumably filled with gold. But, while he took out the pouch he also snuck something shiny into his pocket. Arachne couldn't make out what. "Nope, and if it means putting all you high and mighty nobles back in their place, then that's what I'll do."
Spirit smirked. "Fine. I understand. Here's your gold." He threw her the pouch and she grabbed it, putting down the hand with the dagger to check its contents. A sore mistake. Spirit pulled out his cutlass from under his sleeping robe and lunged at her. Kami dropped the pouch in shock as she countered him, letting the gold spill out onto the floor. She held back his blade with her own and pushed him back.
"What are you doing?" she demanded in a hiss. "You dare challenge the Master Thief?" She glared green-eyed daggers at the king, who was grinning playfully.
"Hmph, why not take the opportunity to catch you now? What king would I be if I can't capture a beautiful woman like yourself, heart and body?"
Kami smirked dangerously. "You'll never get someone like me," she growled deeply, jabbing at him with her dagger. Spirit dodged and parried, catching her wrist. Kami growled at him and stepped closer, jabbing her elbow repeatedly into his stomach.
Spirit stumbled backwards and nearly let the cutlass slip from his grip. "I could try," he smirked. "A woman like you if definitely worth the fight."
Kami's eyes widened for a moment, only to revert back into her burning glare. "You're lying."
Spirit sat up slowly and set the blade besides him, sitting cross-legged on the ground. "No, I'm serious. A beauty like you deserves to live the life of royalty. So, why don't you put that blade down and come live with me?"
Kami looked incredulous at the genuine tone of his voice. She shook her head. "No! I can't just abandon everyone back in the den! They rely on me. A man like you would never understand. Now get up and finish what you started," she ordered.
Spirit's eyes darkened. "If you want it that way...then fine. But let's make a wager here: if I win, then you'll live here, as my wife."
Her glare lessened. "And what if I win?"
"Then I'll give you all the gold your heart desires," Spirit finished. "Do you accept these terms?"
Kami smirked. "Do you have any idea who I am? I am the Master Thief of the famed Thieves' Den. I won't lose to you."
The red-haired king got up calmly and picked up his blade. "I am the king of this land, I've been training as a swordsman for over ten years. Perhaps we're even now and we can skip right to the fighting."
"A man after my own heart. I like that," Kami said, eyes glinting dangerously.
"Let's start, shall we?"
"Yes, let's begin!" Kami took a large leap towards him with her dagger shining against the moonlight, slashing with a diagonal swipe. Spirit stepped back and dodged. He executed a round-house kick that would've landed in her face, but she expertly blocked it with her forearms. Kami pushed his leg back and countered with another slash, but he parried and jumped back.
Spirit smiled. "Not bad!" Their blades clash with a spark of electricity, igniting the dangerous glint in their eyes. Like fire and ice.
"Same to you," she answered flatly. She delivered a few quick punches with a clenched fist that was easily blocked by his arms.
They fought for a few more moments, all while Arachne stood at the door, peeking in through a crack. She was mortified. Her husband-to-be was a lying cheater. She drew back from the door with a look of pure confusion, hatred, and fear. "Ow!" she heard Kami let out a cry of pain suddenly, and the witch immediately concentrated through the eyes of her arachnid again.
He had pushed the blonde up against the wall with his cutlass to her neck and his other hand clasped around her hand that held that dagger, her other hand wedged between her back and the wall. They were breathing heavily, bodies close up and against each other. Kami kept a steady and decisive gaze on his calmed sapphire eyes. Spirit spoke, "Look's like I've won."
Kami tried to twist out of his grip, but he kept her pinned against the wall. Finally, she submitted to him. "Alright. I guess you win," she sighed.
Spirit smirked. "Now, you'll marry me, won't you?"
"One on condition," she answered flatly.
"What?" he asked.
"I'll be your queen by morning, but thief by night. You must let me leave after midnight to go and visit my thieves."
"That's all I ask for," Kami sighed, deflated.
Spirit nodded. But then he frowned. He let go of the woman. "Do you not want to do this?" he asked gently. "Marry me?"
Kami looked up suddenly. "What are you talking about? You won, fair and square. I am yours now."
"Well yeah," he shrugged. "But...if you don't wanna marry me, then you don't have to do it."
The thief perked her eyebrow at him. "Why? What's with the sudden change of mind?" she asked suspiciously.
"Oh, no, nothing like that," Spirit chuckled. "But, being stuck with someone you don't wanna be stuck with isn't fun."
Kami grinned suddenly. She strode forward, right up to his face. "A man after my own heart," she smiled. She cupped his cheek and kissed him gently. "I like that, Spirit Albarn," she whispered.
Spirit smiled. "I knew you wouldn't refuse my offer."
She silenced him with another kiss. Arachne's anger soared. She finally summoned the strength to step away from his door, trembling with rage. She uttered a low chant. From that day on, she swore that she would make sure that the wench who had stolen her man would pay, pay dearly. Eventually, Kami would pay with the ultimate price: her life...
Every hair on the nape of her neck stood up. "You were Papa's...bride?"
"I was supposed to be...until that little thief stole him from me," Arachne growled. "Afterwards, I ran away from the castle, and formed my own group of followers."
Maka stood up abruptly. "Is this what this whole thing is about?! You went through all this trouble just to get revenge?! In case you haven't found out yet, Mama's gone already!" she shouted.
Arachne glanced slyly at her. "I know that your mother has passed away. Because I killed her, long ago."
Another revelation that Maka had a hard time wrapping her head around. "What do you mean?!" she demanded. "Mama was killed on the gallows! There's no way you killed her!"
Arachne chuckled lowly. "You'd be surprised, sweetheart. I suppose it's time to tell another story, shall we?"
"Oi, Kami! Check this out!" A young man with bleach white hair and ruby eyes gazed widely at the stash of jewels hidden behind the noble's chest. He brought it out of the carriage and spilled them out onto the floor, letting the jewels gleam under the morning sun.
"Patience, Wes," she chided gently. The blonde bent down to examine an emerald. "See? These jewels ain't worth half the money they're selling them for. They're fakes."
Wes frowned. "I thought we had 'em for sure," he grumbled. He ventured around the carriage and found the fat noble who was residing in it now laying flat on the ground, cowering. "Where's the real jewels, eh?" he snarled.
The nobleman trembled. "I don't have any, I swear! I sold 'em all!" he pleaded.
Wes sighed with impatience as Kami continued to check their loot. "You're lucky we haven't sliced you in half already..."
Kami frowned. "We haven't been making any good steals, have we?"
Wes strode up next to her. "Yeah, this is only our third looting since the beginning of the week. We're short in money. We needa give the baker, the butcher, and the blacksmith..."
"I know, Wesley," she said with a smile.
"Hey, I said not to call me that!" he scowled. Kami laughed and ruffled his spiky white hair into a frizzy mess.
"Your parents would call you that," she answered. She sighed. "Alright, let's head back in. This man has nothing for us."
The Master and her apprentice trudged away, empty-handed.
Later that evening, she had snuck from the den and back into her cozy castle. She felt guilty that her friends were living in such poor conditions, but she had to keep her part of the deal she had made with the king, many years before. She climbed up using the ivy that clung to the walls next to her balcony and landed in her room. She changed into a dress and headed to her husband's room, expecting for him to be waiting for her return in time for dinner. She smiled pleasantly as she passed a few maids on her way down. She rapped on his door softly. When she heard no reply, Kami pushed the door open herself.
Instead of being greeted by her red-haired king, her eyes were assaulted with something far more sinister. A woman dressed in an elongated black dress and black heels, holding a fan in her hand while she stood on the balcony and gazed out into the distance. Kami entered with caution, as she had never seen the woman before. "Excuse me, but who are you? And where is the king?" she asked as she ventured nearer.
The woman in black turned her head slowly towards her. "The king is not present at the moment. You don't seem to remember me, do you?" she asked, voice as smooth as velvet.
Kami frowned. "I apologize if I can't recognize you. You see, the queen sees many people everyday and - "
She was cut off by a low growl from deep within the strange woman's throat. "How can you not remember?" she asked, tone rising.
"Excuse me - ?"
"I'm the one who should be remember the most. Remembered for the injustice you caused me, Kami Albarn," she sneered.
"I'm sorry, but I don't know what you're talking about," she answered.
Arachne sighed. "I suppose you don't remember me, mainly because Spirit never told you, did he? About the mysterious woman whom he promised to wed the next day, until you came crashing through his window, Master Thief?"
The blonde became alerted and her eyes narrowed. "Spirit never mentioned anything about being wed to anyone else. And how do you know who I am? I've never seen you at the den, have I?" she asked in a low tone.
"Hmph. Of course, being the king that he is, he'd never stoop so low as to tell you that he had promised another woman the title of being queen, right up until you snuck into his room. I saw the whole thing unfold, dear. You lost to him in a sword fight, thus, you had to marry him. But...you didn't exactly lose, did you? You let him win."
Kami smirked. "I suppose that's true. However, let me make it clear that Spirit never mentioned anyone else in line to be wed to him. Who are you?"
The witch's expression darkened, eyes growing cold. "My name is Arachne. You may have heard of me."
"Arachne, the queen of the spiders. You lead Arachnophobia in a quest to take down the kingdom," she finished.
Arachne smiled smugly. "So you are aware. But do you know why it was formed?"
"Is it because you're on a long list of girls that Spirit had courted, only to get rejected?" she asked, unimpressed. "If that's the case, there's a line right outside."
Arachne chuckled sourly. "I'm afraid you've underestimated my story. Not only was I courted by him, but I was also promised to be queen by the very man himself. Until you stole him from me."
"So was I. So now, you want to strike revenge on Spirit, do you? Just how do you wish to do it, unless you dare to get past me?" she asked, unsheathing a hidden sword from beneath her dress.
Arachne only continued to grin sinisterly. "I won't be seeking the revenge directly. It will be you who will do it for me."
As if on cue, the door burst open immediately. "Mama, Mama!" a young girl chanted as she scrambled over to her mother's side. Her emerald eyes widened as soon as her gaze landed to the sword that she was brandishing, and the woman in black who stood in front of her. "Mama, who is this?" young Maka asked curiously. "Why is there a scary lady in your room?"
"Come here, sweetheart," the mother hushed.
Kami quickly pushed her 8-year-old daughter behind her protectively. "How cute," Arachne crooned. "It would be a shame if something were to happen to your precious daughter."
"Don't you dare hurt her, witch! I'll kill you!" Kami sneered.
"Of course you will. But...not even a Master Thief like you can stand up to magic..." Arachne smirked. An invisible force suddenly wrapped itself around Kami's neck, flinging her backwards.
"Mama!" Maka started to run towards her mother, who had been flung against the opposite facing fall. Arachne caught her wrist.
The little girl tried to tug her arm free. "Calm down, child. Just sleep..." she uttered a spell, and her emerald eyes grew distant. She collapsed to the floor, unconscious.
Kami struggled to pick herself up off the floor. "Maka!" she shouted, panicking as Arachne scooped the girl up in her arms.
She was ready to charge, but halted as soon as Arachne waved a finger towards her daughter's chest. "Temper, temper, my queen. We wouldn't want anything to happen to your precious daughter, now would we?" she crooned, twirling her finger around one of the young girl's sand-colored pigtails.
Kami skid to a stop. "What do you want?" she asked, voice quivering.
"I want you to disappear," she answered plainly. "If you follow my instructions, then your daughter, as well as your husband, will live."
"Alright, I will do it," Kami said.
Arachne smirked. "Good...now listen carefully. Tomorrow, you will lead a raid into the treasury of the noble Asura's estate at almost midnight. You will go with your little white-haired apprentice. Steal like you normally do, tell not a soul. At exactly midnight, guards will catch you trying to escape. Do not resist them, or else she will die. Then, afterwards...I will have finally won."
"You mean, this is all you want me to do? And then you'll leave them alone?" she asked.
Arachne nodded. "Do exactly this, don't make any attempts to tell anyone. If you do, I can guarantee that I'll kill them both. That's all."
Kami wore a weary and deflated look as the witch then disappeared into a ball of smoke, leaving her sleeping daughter placed gently on the ground.
She walked over and carefully scooped her up into her arms and laid her out onto the bed. Maka roused quickly. "...Mama...? What happened? I can't remember..."
She offered her daughter a saddened smile. "Nothing, my dear. Just a bad dream," she said gently, caressing her cheek.
"Okay. Mama, can I hear another story?" she asked.
"Alright. Which one do you want to hear about?"
"Hm...how about the one about when you were jumping across the rooftops?"
She frowned. "How about something different?"
Her daughter's face lit up. "Okay!"
She began slowly, "Once upon a time..."
The next night...
Kami calmly wrapped her black cape around her shoulder and fastened the pin as she stared distantly into her mirror. It was finally the night in which Arachne's orders would take place. She reached into her pocket slowly and took out an envelope. She set it down on the desk neatly. Wes appeared in the reflection from the den's main area. "Hey, you've been acting weird since last night. Are you okay?" he asked with concern.
Kami smiled. "Of course, I'm fine. It's just...I'm worried about this next mission."
He cocked his head at her. "Whaddya mean? We've never been caught during a steal, so why would you doubt us now?"
"I don't doubt either of us. It's just a feeling, that's all," she lied. She turned around quickly after putting the letter down on the desk. "After all, you wouldn't let me down, right?" she smiled and ruffled with his hair again, to Wes's annoyance.
He lightly smacked her hand away with a scowl. "You don't hafta treat me like a child, Kami!" he whined.
Kami chuckled. "I know, I know...but, it feels nice. It feels like I have a son." Wes's expression lightened with her words. "Wes, will you promise me something?" she asked.
"Yeah, what is it?"
"If anything were to go wrong while we do this, will you promise me not to be sad?"
He perked his head up. "Why, is something supposed to happen or something? You know I wouldn't let anything happen to you!" he insisted.
"I understand, but I'm only going to ask you of this one thing. Whatever will happen, will you promise to not be sad or be defeated, no matter the circumstances?" she asked.
"But Kami - "
Wes sighed. "Alright, I promise. But I still don't know what's going on..." he grumbled.
Kami laughed. "Thanks, Wes. I knew I could count on you."
"And then, on that very night, Kami was captured by the guards. Like I had ordered her to do, she did not resist at all. After which...well, you know the story," Arachne said.
By the time that she had finished her story, the color had drained from Maka's face. Arachne had planned her mother's death from the very beginning, all the things that had happened to her was because of this one woman's revenge.
Unable to form coherent words, Maka could only tremble from Arachne's tale. "You...you killed Mama..." she managed.
"Yes, I did," she answered flatly. "And now...I'm going to kill you. Of course, not yet."
But Maka was too preoccupied to hear her words. "You...YOU MURDERER!" she cried at the woman. Maka leapt onto the table, enraged, and charged at her. She had no weapon, but she swore at that moment that she would strangle the witch with her own two hands. She tackled her into the ground before she could react and pinned her with her arms against the ground.
Arachne allowed herself to fall while the girl landed on top of her, seemingly calm even though Maka's glare bore into her eyes. She only chuckled. "You shouldn't be so mad, Maka. I did the world a favor. I rid it of another useless wen - AUGH!"
She was cut off as Maka unsheathed a hidden dagger from her boot, one that the guards failed to strip her of. She pressed it against Arachne's neck. "Shut up..." she muttered, voice quivering. "Don't say another word...I'll kill you..."
Arachne smiled. "How sweet. I wonder if I'm starting to rub off on you, child."
"I said shut up!" she screamed. "Don't you dare stoop me to your level!"
Maka's shoulders trembled with both fear and rage. "Then what will you do, girl? Do you truly possess the strength to kill me?" she asked. Her expression darkened. "Or...are you too weak? You dare call yourself a thief."
"S...stop! I'll kill you, right here!" Maka yelled. "I swear it!"
"Then do it."
Her hand trembled around the dagger as it pressed against the skin of her pale neck. With each labored breath, she felt her grip tighten against its hilt. She grit her teeth. Maka raised the dagger above her head, aimed right over her chest. Her hand shook uncontrollably. "I...I will!"
"What are you waiting for, Master Thief?" she snarled. "Hurry up already." Instead of fear in her voice, she sounded as smug as ever. That only furthered Maka's anger. But...as much as she wanted to end her right there...
"I...I can't...I can't do it..." she managed weakly. "I'm too weak..."
Arachne's triumphant laugh fills and echoes across the dining room.
"Just as I suspected. You think you can fill your mother's place, but you cannot ever do that." She forced the girl off her with a powerful kick. Maka landed on her back, hopelessly staring at the ceiling. "Don't worry, though. After I'm through with you, you'll be a new girl."
Maka rolled on her side, grunting with pain. "You mean...you're not gonna kill me?"
"Not yet, I'm not." The witch levitated off of the floor. "You're still a part of my plan, remember?"
Maka's head suddenly began to feel like it was being pounded in by a giant mallet as a loud hum rung out in her ears. She felt the whole room vibrating from underneath her, the table shaking, the chairs falling over and the chandelier swinging violently from the ceiling. "Wh-what are you doing?!" she screamed over the noise.
"Don't worry, sweetheart," Arachne's voice cooed, strangely louder than the vibrations itself. "After this, you won't feel any pain at all. In fact, you won't feel anything at all."
The den was filled with blissful laugher and drunken uproars, all of which Soul was a part of. Kim and Jackie had been outside for an hour or so, which didn't worry him because he trusted them enough to be alone. However, what worried him more was that it had been a few hours since his brother's return, according to everyone else in the den. For some reason, their memories were a bit hazy about him. Some claimed that they saw him roaming around town a few days ago. Others said that he had gone into the tunnels on some long mission, but had yet to return. Even though he trusted his brother enough to get himself out of safety.
After a few rounds of drinks, he decided that it was too late for himself and for some reason the more he moved the more his chest ached terribly. He still couldn't figure out what it was. Perhaps he had accidentally bruised himself while stealing? He decided to call it a night and slinked off back into his room. His chest pain had increased much more; there was a burning feeling now that almost blanketed his whole abdomen. It was bothering him more now, even though he had been dismissing the pain a few hours ago. He never even looked at it.
Now that he was in his room, the darkness and silence overcoming him with fatigue, he collapsed on a bed. He wasn't sure whose bed it was, though, but its sheets had been ruffled slightly. He buried his head into the pillow and inhaled the scent. That's strange. It smelled strangely floral, like a girl had once laid her head in it. A nagging thought occurred to him in his mind. The scent belonged to a young girl, his age, with blonde hair.
He opened his eyes. There was no one currently his age with blonde hair in the den, was there? The closest person who fit that description was Patty, but she was too old. Where did he get that information from, though? He knew that there was never anyone in the den like that, and yet he felt that it was absolutely true. Why? It was a strange feeling...
He rose off of the bed and grabbed the lantern on the desk, lighting it. The dim amber glow was enough to illuminate the small room, and even the small mirror hung on the wall across from him. He felt that the pain in his chest bothered him too much for him to sleep. He decided that he'd take a look at the meager damage, and then put it to rest.
He ventured over to the mirror slowly. He couldn't help but feel a strange and nervous feeling as he gripped the bottom hem of his white shirt. It'd probably be just a bruise, he reassured himself, despite the small voice in the back of his head screaming that it was much, much more. Carefully, he pulled up shirt.
He stares with disbelief at the long stretch of stitching that was stripped across his chest, embedded in his skin. For some reason, he can't react with shock. He lets go of his shirt and hides the wound, then re-lifted it to double-check. Soul did a double-take and jumped back from the mirror. Since when did he get this wound?! Surely, he would remember if he'd gotten a scar such as this one...
He yelped, startled as the door swung open forcefully. Kim stood in the doorway, a grim and urgent look on her face as she gazes towards him. "K-Kim! S-sorry, I didn't see ya there," he stammered out, pretending to ignore the newly-discovered wound on his chest.
Her eyes darken. "I was just wondering, Soul...what do you remember from a few hours ago?" she asked suddenly.
He shrugged. "Well, we were partying weren't we? Nothing different."
Kim frowned. "Oh..."
"Something bothering you?" he asked.
"Well, it's not me that's being bothered."
"What do you mean?" he asked.
Kim stepped inside and closed the door behind her. "...Don't your feel something's off, Soul?" she asked urgently.
"Something's not right. Like how you ended up on the floor without any prior memory, how you can't seem to remember what you were doing a few hours before this...something - no, someone - is missing...?" Her words caused a pang of guilt in his stomach. What was she implying? Did she know something that he didn't?
He turned towards her with suspicion. "How did you know?"
She sighed. "You're gonna think I'm crazy if I told you...but do you remember Maka Albarn?"
"Yeah, that cute princess girl. Why? Didn't Wes and I let her go back to her castle, and everything was well?" he asked.
Kim shook her head solemnly. "No, she didn't. Maka was Kami's daughter."
Soul barked out a laugh. But then he paused. "Don't fuck around like that, you're scaring me."
Kim scowled. "Soul, you have to believe. Come with me!" She snatched his hand and dragged him towards Kami's destroyed room.
Soul's eyes widened. "Woah - hey! Since when was this room wrecked like this?!" he demanded. His eyes scanned around the broken knick-knacks that Kami had once owned, the torn painting on the wall. His stomach dropped as he toed around the debris.
"It was destroyed when Asura raided."
Kim swung around. "It's going to be a long, long story, Soul."
By the time he blinked with pure bewilderment, Kim had finished. Maka was Kami's daughter, who was also the queen, but not only that, she was the Master Thief. She came back after Soul had returned her to castle because she found that the headmaster of the house, Asura, was in pursuit of her. After accepting the fact that she would be a thief just as her mother was, she quickly became accustomed to the daily life, until Asura decided to lead a full-out raid of their village. Maka took it upon herself to stop him, and so she and him left to stop him directly at his castle. As she had heard it, Maka got into a full confrontation with the man while Soul held his guards back, and Maka lost to him, falling off of the castle's edge and into the ravine below. Soul presumed that she was dead and came back to the den, defeated. Unfortunately, Asura launched a full raid through the Underground and sacked the den, taking the whole guild prisoners to be executed...
"Wait, wait, hold on!" he stopped her. "This can't be right! Wes isn't dead! Maka ain't the Master Thief! This can't be true - "
"Then what else do you want me to tell you, Soul?!" she demanded. "This is the truth, whether you deny it or not! After the raid on Arachnophobia, we were all transferred back here by Arachne's magic, and Maka is still being held there! We still have no idea what the damn woman wants with her, but it's sure not good!"
Soul scoffed. "That's completely bullshit, right out of a story book!"
Kim huffed with frustration. "Then how do you explain your scar, how do you explain Kami's letter, and how do you explain Wes's disappearance?! He's not coming back, Soul! Wes is gone! Asura killed him!" she shouted angrily. "I know the spell couldn't have affected you this much, Soul! Magic can alter memories, but it can't change true feelings!"
"What the hell are you talkin' about? What true feelings?!"
"The fact that you loved Maka!" she finished. "And Maka loved you back! She took responsibility for that scar! She saved you in that courtyard before Asura tried to hang you!"
Soul's eyes widened. He knew he couldn't believe her. Her story was so superficial, so foolish, so impossible. But he couldn't help but think that it was true...He bit his lip. "What makes you think I'd believe such a stupid story? You're insane," he grumbled, exiting Kami's room, leaving Kim inside while she gaped with disbelief.
"Soul, you have to listen to me! Soul!" Kim shouted with an outstretched hand.
He stomped back into his room and slammed the door behind him. He swung the lantern back towards the mirror and tenderly lifted his shirt to catch a better look. He still couldn't explain the scar. Perhaps it'd been so traumatizing that his mind chose not to remember it? No, that wouldn't explain his amnesia. Soul started to pace around the room; he didn't know whether to be confused or to believe it.
While he swung the lantern back and forth while he walked, something shiny tucked under the dust caught his eye. He paused. He went over to the small bump and scooped it up in his hand. It was an emerald. His eyes widened. Why did they seem strangely familiar? Like he had stared directly into a person with the same exact shine, same exactly color. No one else had such green eyes, other than Kami. A name came to his mind out of nostalgia as he examined the jewel. "M...Maka?" he tested the name out against his lips. "Maka...Maka..."
He heard his own voice calling out to her in his mind and it startled him, like a flash of a memory. He had he called out to her before like that? The two barely even talked about serious things during her captivity.
Another flash. This time, he heard another voice that didn't belong to him, a girl's voice. 'Soul!' It was Maka's voice.
Suddenly, a whole volley of memories flood into his at once.
He remembered cradling the emerald close to his heart as soon as witness Maka falling from the top of the castle.
He could feel her hand tightly clasping his as they ran together through the forest.
He could feel her chin resting on his shoulder blade as she embraced him.
He felt Giriko's cold, hard blade as it sliced right through his stomach, spraying blood everywhere.
Lastly, he felt a warm pair of lips as they pressed against his own.
Soul jumped back and tripped, landing on the bed. He sat up immediately and pressed his hand against his pounding temples. "What the fuck...?" he muttered to himself aloud. His gaze turned back down at the green jewel clenched tightly in his hand. It glimmered against the firelight pleasantly.
He limped towards the door while his head was still spinning. "Kim? Kim?!" he asked. He looked around the den, but she was no where to be found.
He trudged up to George, asking where she was. He told her that she had left not to long ago, and that he had just missed her. He asked her where. He shrugged.
Soul stormed to the entrance, slinging his cape over his shoulder and placing his hat carefully over his head. He had no idea what was going on, but he decided that once and for all he'd have to find out on his own.
A/N: I'm not sure if you guys have checked my profile yet, but this is probably the last chapter I'm gonna post in a while. Next week, I'm gonna head off to a cruise to Bermuda, so I won't be here for a week or so. You can check for updates on my vacation on my Tumblr.