Dante & ElyseAll was well in downtown Arcadia. It was well into the morning, so the usually bustling city was quieter than usual but it was still a sight to be appreciated. Down in the Industrial District, things were quieter than usual, but it was a serene type of silence rather than a foreboding one. Contradicting its name, the Industrial District was perhaps the cleanest part of the city, even managing to outdo the parks and nature spots.
There weren’t were carbon emissions here, thanks to a legislation by a certain eccentric “cursed liar” and the only things being emitted into the atmosphere was the steam from the cooling towers. When thinking of an industrial district, Dante immediately thought of a rust ridden, dirty, smelly part of the city were the uncouth gather. But looking around, all he saw were pristine building complexes, humble, clean warehouses and factories and not one uncouth person around.
It’s been a while since Dante came to the city, in fact that only reason he’s here to begin with was because of Lupa, the Roman goddess, convincing him to do so.
“It’s your duty!” she told him. “You’re a soldier of Rome! Protect the State!”
It was only after the 50th fight that Dante finally decided to go. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Arcadia, he enjoyed the city more than he liked to admit, it was what he was leaving behind. A clean, untouched piece of country, a house out of the way and Annabelle. For what? To go gallivanting as a hero? Pfft, was it worth it? No, not really.
But then again…
Dante glanced over his shoulder, sparing a glance at Elyse chattering away with Lupa. Elyse was a capable mage but she was young and inexperienced, plus, like him, she wielded a dark power that she could barely control. It would’ve been reckless to let this girl go off on her own, not that he could tell her that, she wouldn’t appreciate the idea of Dante babysitting her.
He ran a hand through his curly hair and sighed. Dealing with this “issue”, as Lupa called it, wasn’t in his pay grade. There were people in power more capable than him, but then again, even that clandestine organization has gone dark for a little while. Octavia, one of his best friends, had gone away on some mission for them for a while, he wished she hadn’t because then she could deal with this than him.
It might be bad wishing a difficult job on a best friend, but Octavia was more than capable. Besides, who is Dante kidding? If Octy was getting into a jam, he’d be right next to her anyways.
Dante tugged at his suspenders and frowned. He and Lupa were following some demon’s scent but there was absolutely nothing around.
“Lupa, are you sure there’s something here?” he asked.
Lupa, a tiny ancient wolf goddess, sat on Elyse’s shoulder, recalling stories from Ancient Rome like it was just yesterday. She was cute in her tiny wolf form, but when she got bigger she was downright terrifying. “And then I said, ‘Oatmeal? Are you crazy—‘"
“Lupa!” Dante snapped.
Lupa gave Dante her traditional wolf grin and waved a dismissive paw. “Oh, Dante, don’t be such a grumpy face.”
Elyse smiled and laughed along with the wolf goddess. Elyse was even weirder than Lupa, if you can believe that, she was absolutely enamored with magic and loved to hang around people capable of it. She was taught, as a Red Mage, that Black Mages were the top dogs when it came to magic, they could bend and fabricate anything. The Black Mages were legendary and considered myth, which is why, of course, Elyse set out to find one. Good thing she came across Dante, the very last Black Mage.
“She’s right, Dante. You should lighten up,” Elyse agreed.
“Don’t listen to Lupa, she smells butts for a living,” Dante grumbled, turning back around and taking another look at the street they were on.
“What was that?!” With the power of a fully-grown lion, Lupa pounced on Dante, easily taking him down despite her miniature size. She bit his ear and Dante cursed in Italian, trying to shake her off.
Elyse walked past the dueling duo and looked around, ignoring Dante’s swears and Lupa’s war declarations in Latin. There wasn’t anything around, like Dante said, but she could still feel a... presence.
She wasn’t as perceptive as Dante, but even she could sense something was wrong. The phoenix within her burned with anticipation, the prospect of bloodshed. That was generally a warning that a fight was about to ensue.
“Guys…” she called, but Dante and Lupa were still fighting. Shadows shifted in the walls. “Guys…!”
A cold presence washed over her and her skin tingled. Elyse blinked and every cell in her body told her to jump. Instead, she tripped over her foot and fell down, keeping her eyes shut as she felt the malevolent force materialize in front of her. Opening her eyes, Elyse exhaled shakily as she realized that Dante and Lupa were in front of her, the Black Mage with his arm extended, blocking the fatal strike that would’ve taken Elyse out.
“T-thanks,” she mumbled, getting to her feet.
Dante didn’t say anything, only glaring at the materializing shadows in front of them. Demons, a dozen or so, appearing right before them. It was hard for Elyse to keep track of how demons looked like. She’s seen hundreds and none of them looked the same. Some looked human, save their pure black eyes. Others looked like eldritch monsters, horrible creatures with gnashing fangs and blades for arms.
Apparently they were as changeable as anything.
One of the demons sniffed and huffed disgustingly. “A goddess,” it hissed, zeroing in on Lupa.
“You smell worse, pretty-boy,” Lupa countered.
“Surrender and we won’t hurt you,” Elyse bravely declared.
A roar of laughter came from the demons. Dante raised an eyebrow at the Red Mage, to which Elyse shrugged sheepishly.
“And why would we do that?” asked one demon. “You may have a puny goddess by your side, but your God, capital-G, has abandoned you. He doesn’t care about you, why should He? Our God cares for us, and soon he will walk the Earth.”
A wave of fire exploded and completely overwhelmed the speaking demon, leaving only a scorch mark and the smell of burning flesh. Dante grinned impishly. “Blah, blah, blah. Your preaching is worse than your smell, dude. Either try to kill me or don’t, just don’t try to convert me.”
The haggle of demons hissed and roared at Dante. The sight of those monsters intimidated Elyse, but she had to be strong, she wasn’t dead weight.
Fire manifested on Elyse’s coat, not burning it, thankfully, and she stepped forward. “So, who’s next?”
Aiden rolled out of the way as the Giant struck the wall behind him. It wasn’t a demon, weirdly enough, it was something out of Greek mythology. Aiden tried to remember where exactly this monster was from for a moment. The Giant struck once more with a straight right, aimed directly at Aiden’s face.
The blow was stopped by Aiden, blocking the punch with only one hand despite the Giant’s fist beings twice as big as Aiden. “Oh, definitely Greek, you smell like gyros, man.”
The Giant roared, spouting out angry Greek swears, but Aiden didn’t speak the language, so he opted to punch him right in the stomach. The blow was so detrimental that the Giant exploded in bronze dust, fading away into the primordial ooze that was Tartarus.
Aiden’s never been there, but it wasn’t exactly a vacation spot. Supposedly, Tartarus was one of the ancient primordial deities that helped create everything. He’s called the Father of the Monsters, but there are some myths that describe him as this bottomless pit where all monsters go to when they die.
That was a weird thought. If Greek monsters go to Tartarus, would demons go there or would they go to Hell?
Keeping the myths and stories straight was confusing, it’s hard determining what came first you know and what’s the one true story. Aiden has met Gaia, the ruthless Mother Earth, and he’s also met plenty of angels and gods from all sorts of myths. To Aiden, it was pretty pointless racking your head with complicated things like that, he just decided to face the fact that everything exists and if he could fight, he sure as hell would.
More demons spawned from the ground, like evil daisies, clawing at the dirt as if it’s been centuries since they last touched the earth. There were enough demons to form a flash mob. Some of them looked human, some looked monstrous. Again, it was hard keeping track of demons and their stories. Some stories claim they can only exist when they possess a human, others claim they are the twisted souls of the damned and didn’t need a physical body.
Again, to Aiden, he didn’t really care, if they wanted to kill him they’ll have to try hard.
The demons hissed at Aiden, and he brushed off his blazer slightly, grinning broadly at them. “That’s how you say hi? Sheesh, I guess politeness isn’t a thing for you guys.”
“You will die halfbreed and end up in the deepest pit of Hell, begging for sweet death,” promised one of the demons.
“Well, that certainly isn’t happening…” Aiden folded his arms and stepped forward. “Look, I just need some information. Take me to your leader and I won’t kill you… much.”
Hisses and swears sounded like a symphony from the demons. “Fine… When you get back down to Hell, tell whoever is in charge that I’m gonna put an end to whatever they plan…”
They charged him, claws and fangs slashing wildly, eager to tear him apart piece by piece. Aiden disappeared for a moment and reappeared right behind the group of demons, he held his sword as if he was going to sheathe it.
The demons succumbed to invisible slashes, being torn apart they all roared in pure agony and pain. “Or I’ll come down there myself and stop him,” he finished.
Aiden sighed, turning around and taking a look at the scene of carnage. Another random attack for no good reason, what was going on? The demons weren’t this active. Sure, being half-angel, Aiden tends to attract a lot of attention but it was getting ridiculous. It didn’t help that they had a “no-prisoners” policy and were happy to die rather than give up information.
He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his little red box, holding it gingerly as if afraid of breaking it in half. This damned “war”, or whatever we’re calling it, put everything on hold. Everything was going well for him and Rika, then this problem comes out of nowhere and no one has any answers. Not even Section III.
Aiden chuckled under his breath. That place was filled with eggheads so seeing them baffled was a first, I mean it was terrifying but interesting at the same time. He was sure that “I don’t know” wasn’t in their vocabulary.
A dark presence overwhelm the little park Aiden was at, his instincts took over and he dodged just as the samurai slashed at him. Getting to his feet, he pocketed his little box and glared at his attacker. It was a ghostly-looking samurai, armor and all, it wouldn’t normally look scary but his armor was covered in insane amounts of blood.
“More? Seriously?” Aiden brandished his katana just in time for the other dozen demons to reappear. “Wonder what Mayuka’s doing…”