Twilight The Traveler Chapter 15 – Black Blood

Twilight the Traveler

// Black Blood// Story: Twilight the Traveler// by ilbgar//——————————//

Tara was following Stein to the hospital wing of the DWMA for support in the form of Spirit. Stein had heard that the Demon Sword was spotted in Italy. Maka and Soul were over there for a spree of missions to recover some of the 99 Kishin Eggs they’d recently lost. Worse, it was spotted near their current location.

She’d heard of it during her time in this world. It was famous for slaughtering dozens of people at a time and eating their souls, then disappearing back into whatever shadows it came from. It was supposed to be on a level with a full-fledged three-star Meister. They’d beaten Sid only because there were three of them, and he hadn’t had a Demon Weapon.

Spirit had apparently been expecting Nurse Medusa, and grabbed Stein’s leg and began to say things that made her want to hit him, until he discovered it was Stein, causing him to freeze. “Hey there Spirit. I’ve been looking for you.” he said nonchalantly.

Spirit screamed like a little girl and jumped onto the nearest bed, facing away from Stein. “Gah! Not Stein!” He hid under the blankets. “I don’t know what you want with me, but all the scars from your experiments have finally healed! I’m not afraid of you anymore! I’m not afraid of anything! How do you like that Stein?” he said with surprising fierceness despite cowering under a blanket.

“Well, then you must have noticed that I switched the middle toes on your feet.” Stein commented as if talking about the weather, idly pushing his glasses up with one hand.

“What!?” Spirit hurriedly pulled off his socks and examined his feet. “Are you completely insane?! How could you do something like that to me?!”

“Made you look.” Stein said, amusement in his voice. Spirit gaped at him.

“You know that little daughter of yours sure has grown up quickly. I have to admit I was concerned when I heard you were getting married, but seeing how happy you and Kami were together reassured me. Although at first I’d been thinking ‘There’s no way this will work out.'” Stein said, causing Spirit to make some strangled attempts at speech. “Then I thought, ‘Those two have found a love that is sure to last forever.'” Stein added cheerfully.

“Um, about that. You might know this yet, but Maka’s mother and I divorced. It’s been more than a month now. It’s over for good between us.” Spirit said, downcast.

“Oh, I know.” Stein responded.

Spirit grabbed Stein by the collar and started shaking him. “Then why the hell did you talk about it like that you jerk?!” Spirit asked. “Dammit! I’m gonna kill you you heartless labrat freak!” Stein yelled, shaking him more vigorously.

“As jerky as that was of Stein, we came here for a reason and it wasn’t to tease you.” Tara interrupted. “We need your help with something.” Tara’s face took on a hard expression.

“Ah right.” Stein’s usual nonchalance disappeared. “The Demon Sword’s been spotted in the area Maka and Soul last reported from. I don’t think I need to explain to you what that might mean.” he said.

*** Meanwhile In An Italian Church ***

Maka and Soul were investigating a church where Maka had discovered a Meister and Demon Weapon pair. Until a few moments ago, there had been about 55 human souls in there as well. Then the humans simply vanished, far too quickly even if the pair inside were hostile.

Soul preemptively transformed as they neared the door. Maka got a very bad feeling, but shook it off. ‘I’m getting the feeling we should turn back, but as a member of the DWMA, I have to know what happened here.’ she reasoned, before pushing the door open with one hand.

“You see. I tried to tell you. That door only opens inwards.” A teenager with pink hair said. It was hard to tell if they were a boy or a girl, but they were wearing a half-dress, half-shirt in black.

“What the hell? He’s in here all by himself. Where’d his partner go?” Soul asked.

“No, that shouldn’t be possible.” Maka said, seeing something with her Soul Perception.

“Huh? What’s up?” Soul asked.

“Lady Medusa, it looks like two others have arrived.” a deep, masculine voice whose source could not be identified said.

“Keep it down Ragnarok. You need to be quiet now.” the Meister said, seemingly to himself.

“I’m seeing the soul of a Meiser and a Demon Weapon, both ten meters directly in front of us. Which means… that Meister has a Weapon inside his body.” Maka said, prompting a sudden shift in the disposition of the pink-haired Meister.

“What are you saying Maka? His partner is inside him?” Soul asked, glancing betwen her and the Meister in front of them. “How the hell is that even a thing?!” he asked

“Not for long. It’s about to come out.” Maka said warily.

The Meister with pink hair suddenly clutched at his head and cried out in agony, before letting go, but continuing to scream. A hulking figure made of black blood burst out of his back. It dwarfed the figure of it’s host, and it’s body merged with said host where it’s waistline was. It had 2 large arms ending in gloved hands, a white band around one shoulder, spikes on it’s shoulders and back, and a face consisting of a white X with a pair of white eyes with black X’s in the center.

Maka took a step back cautiously. The figure ignored her after a glance to bonk it’s host on the head. “That hurts me.” the Meister complained. The figure continued to chuckle as it proceeded to bonk, poke, and prod it’s host, eliciting complaints, until finally the Meister yelled “Stop it! I’ve had enough!” which made the figure back off a bit.

“Now, now, Crona. You’re scary when you’re stressed-out like this.” the figure, presumably Ragnarok, said.

“Okay, this is getting weird.” Maka said, then set her face determinedly. “You should know that the hunting of human souls is strictly forbidden. Are you students? I haven’t seen you at the Academy.” Maka said.

“The what? What Academy? She said it was okay to eat the humans’ souls, so I did. If she said it was okay, I don’t see what was wrong with it.” Crona said, while Ragnarok played with his head. He blushed a bit. “I’m uh… I’m not really good at talking to girls, they make me nervous.” he said nervously.

Ragnarok lowered his head down to be level with his host’s. “Never mind that Crona. Her soul looks tasty, and the other Weapon’s isn’t bad either.” Ragnarok said.

“Weapons and Meisters are not allowed to hunt and collect human souls for any reason. We hunt only those who have become Kishin Eggs.” Maka changed stances with Soul. “Now it’s our duty to put a stop to this. You will not hunt any more human souls, you hear me?” Maka asked.

“Let’s get her Crona.” Ragnarok said in a bored tone while poking his Meister. Crona nodded. Ragnarok turned into a cloud of black ooze, which Crona stuck a hand into and pulled out a black broadsword.

“It turned into a broadsword. What kind of blood is that?” Maka asked. Crona’s face was momentarily covered in shadow, before he swung his Weapon back and forth, before dragging it along the ground in front of him as he rushed at them.

“He’s going to strike from below!” Soul called out in warning.

Maka used Soul’s blade to block the attack, then while Crona was pausing, she called out “Stop this!” before punching him in the face.

“Are you going to start poking me too?” Crona asked, before dodging backwards from a stabbing attack. Maka used Soul to lever herself up, then drop-kick him from midair, sending him to the ground.

Maka raised Soul to deliver what she thought would be a finishing blow. “You’ve got him now!” Soul cheered her on. Maka’s swing connected with Crona’s back, but stopped abruptly after breaking the skin.

A witch in a green cloak, presumably this Lady Medusa, riding on a broomstick, was watching the fight with dark amusement, especially that last attack. “Did you think you could cut him in half?” she asked.

Maka was understandably shocked. “Oh no, not with a stroke like that one.” Crona said, droplets of black blood falling to the floor behind him.

“Black… Black Blood?” Maka breathed out the question.

Crona leaned in. “Yes, that’s right, my blood is black.” he responded in a whisper.

Maka backed off a bit. “What’s up with this guy? His body’s really freaky!” Soul said.

“I think I have an idea. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but I think his Weapon and his blood itself are one and the same. I could cut through his skin without any problems, but as soon as I hit his blood vessels his blood hardened and the blade stopped completely.” Maka said.

“Well if you’re right then how do you propose we go about beating him?” Soul asked.

“Our normal attacks will be almost useless. I’m not sure even Witch Hunter will cut through that stuff. It’d be different if I could hit him with my Soul Wavelength directly like Blackstar, Tara, or Professor Stein. I might be able to do some internal damage that way. Otherwise, I have no idea what to do.” Maka reasoned.

Outside, Medusa was growing impatient. “Crona, why are you taking it so easily? Do something.” she ordered.

“She’s not like the ones before, those were boys. She’s a girl, I’m no good with girls! What am I supposed to do with her?” Crona responded.

Medusa chuckled. “How silly. Kill her and eat her soul of course.” the witch said.

“What’s with this guy?” Soul asked. “And who is he talking to anyway?”

A tiny grin made it’s way onto Crona’s face. “Oh okay, you’re saying I can kill the girl? I didn’t realize that. Maybe I could play with her hair first. Just for a little while. The doors here open inward. The only open one way.” Crona paused for a moment as he tilted his head back. “Ragnarok,” he held the broadsword perpendicular to the ground, “Scream Resonance.”

A pair of red lips appeared on the sword. They were split in what was unmistakably a grin. They inhaled, then screamed. The noise was loud enough to visibly affect the air. A wave of purple energy in the shape of a mouth rushed towards Maka and Soul, distracting them for long enough that Crona could rush at them and slash downwards, leaving a wave of purple energy there even as Maka dodged.

“He’s coming Maka! Guard now!” Soul warned. Maka use him to guard against the strike from Crona, but Ragnarok’s scream intensified and Soul started to take damage.

“Soul!” Maka cried out, forcing Crona away with a kick. “Stop it!” she called out. “Are you okay Soul? Talk to me.” Maka asked.

Soul grunted, a bit of blood oozing out of him, as all weapons who took damage did. “You don’t need to worry about me right now. I am your Weapon partner Maka! That means I am always prepared to die for my Meister!” he ground out through the pain.

Ragnarok began to scream again. ‘What do I do now? That screaming causes vibrations along his blade and because of those vibrations, each second of contact is like thousands of strikes. With his blood hardening so quickly, my attacks don’t work either. I can’t do any damage at all, and I can’t afford to guard against his hits or else Soul could die!’ Maka thought.

Crona swung Ragnarok in lazy circles, then rushed at them. Maka dodged to one side, and tried to kick Crona’s legs out from under him, but he simply used the momentum to attempt a strike. Maka dodged backwards, and tried to think of a way out. ‘I screwed up, I should’ve just left well enough alone.’ Crona began to attack with stabs, which Maka dodged, just barely.

“What’s the matter Maka? Quit dodging and start fighting back!” Soul yelled. Ragnarok continued to scream, and the attacks were starting to cut off strands of hair. “Maka!” he called.

‘If I attack, then the same problem as if I were to guard crops up. Soul’s tough, but he’s not that tough.’ Maka thought. ‘I can’t use Soul to block his sword or attack myself. The only thing I can do is run away or hope to outlast him.’ she reasoned, still dodging the stabbing attacks. Crona’s grin returned, considerably wider, as he slashed at her legs, forcing her clumsily back and into the doors. Doors which did not open outwards.

“We’re getting out of here!” Maka said, then tried to force the doors open. They wouldn’t budge. “Open up!” she called.

Crona raised Ragnarok. “It’s not going to work, you know? You need to pay more attention to what people say and your surroundings.” Crona said.

“Oh no…” Maka was literally backed against a wall right now. Since the door wouldn’t open, it might as well be.

“Those doors only open one way. Inwards.” Crona raised Ragnarok for a strike.

“Maka! Stop it now!” Soul cried out.

“But Soul! If I guard you’ll die!” she countered.

Crona brought Raganarok down. Soul returned to human form and used his body to shield his Meister. A massive amount of blood spurted out from the gaping wound this created. Soul collapsed. “SOULLLL!!!!” Maka screamed.

“Go on Crona. Finish them. No need to play with your food.” the witch ordered. “Kill them and eat their souls Crona.”

“I think I can deal with that.” Crona responded.

“Goody!” Raganarok agreed.

Maka pulled Soul’s head up. “Wake up. Please Soul, wake up!” Maka was on the verge of crying.

“You dumbass… Hurry… get out of here!” he ordered weakly.

“Okay.” Crona said as he approached.

Maka ducked her head. “Soul… Soul this is all my fault.” Maka apologized. Just as Crona was about to finish them, a black scythe-blade sliced through the door and into him.

“Ah! What’s happening? How did that get there?” Crona asked, surprisingly calm for someone who’d just been impaled. The door was kicked into splinters by 2 familiar faces. Professor Stein, and Tara, who proceeded to each smash a Soul Force into Crona, forcing him away to the other end of the building.

“Professor Stein! Tara!” Maka exclaimed. Both individuals in question had grim expressions on their faces.

“If the professor is here, then this Weapon must be…” Maka trailed off as the black scythe reverted to human form, revealing Spirit.

“Your papa has arrived.” Spirit said. ‘That’s right Maka, take a good look at how brave and selfless your father is.’ he thought, turning to see Stein and Tara treating Soul.

“Will Soul be alright?” Maka asked with great concern.

“My Cure-chain can restore wounds, but it doesn’t work on blood loss. His life’s not in immediate danger, but he’ll be out of commission for a while.” Tara explained.

“He lost a lot of blood in a very short period of time. He’s going into shock and if he doesn’t get treatment soon he might not make it.” Stein added, using his lab coat like a blanket for Soul.

‘She’s not even looking at me!’ Spirit thought. “I gotta say though, that was an easier fight than I expected.” Spirit said, watching Crona warily.

He got up, unnerved by all the damage he’d taken at once. “I hardened the blood around the wound as much as possible to stop the bleeding, and we’re mostly recovered from that Soul Wave attack since they were only trying to force us back. Do I get a thank you?” Ragnarok asked.

“Yeah. Thank you.” Crona said, not altogether very genuinely grateful.

“Hey! Thank you very much!” Ragnarok grabbed his Meister by the head. “Are you gonna make me hurt you?!” he yelled, pulling on Crona’s face.

“Professor Stein.” Maka said to get his attention. He turned his head towards her. “Who are those two?” she asked. “What are they? I’ve never seen anything like this.” she asked.

“What you see in front of you is the reason the Academy was created in the first place.” Stein said.

“The reason the Academy was created?” Maka asked, looking at the pink-haired Meister more intensely. “Does that mean he’s a Kishin?” Maka asked.

“Technically no. Not yet at least.” Stein answered.

“If he were a Kishin, you’d be exposed to what can effectively be summed up as contagious insanity simply by being in his presence. He’s only a step away right now though.” Tara explained.

*** Flashback: Death Room ***

“Listen to me Stein, take Death Scythe and Tara and do whatever it takes to stop the Demon Sword from fully awakening as a Kishin once you find it.” Death ordered him.

“That is the reason you called me back to the Academy in the first place, right?” Stein asked. “I’ll take care of the sword.” he accepted the mission.

Death nodded. “We cannot allow the Kishin to be reborn into the world. If another Kishin were to fully emerge, it would not only accelerate the development of more, but it’s wavelength could even strain the seal to the point that the original Kishin breaks free. We must avoid that at all costs. Otherwise, we’ll be trapped in a vicious cycle of madness that will end in the world’s destruction. It is no exaggeration to say that if there are ever 2 fully awakened Kishin wandering about, the world as we know it could end within the week.” he explained.

*** End Flashback ***

“Alright then, let’s take care of this, shall we?” Stein asked.

“Yeah.” Spirit agreed, transforming into his scythe form again.

Meanwhile, Ragnarok continued to torment his host. “Crona quit standing there staring into space like an idiot. If you don’t get it in gear we’ll go back to sleep deprivation therapy again.” Raganarok threatened. In what way could that benefit anyone?

“No! Don’t start waking me up every hour again! I don’t like it, the dark circles under my eyes will come back and I don’t know how to deal with the dark circles!” he tried and failed to get Ragnarok’s hands to stop abusing him, resulting in a surprised squawk as Ragnarok dug into his nose.

“The Grim Reaper has sent his greatest Meister armed with Death Scythe. This should be a good test of Crona’s progress. Let’s see how long he can last.” the witch said. ‘Crona…get them now.’ Medusa ordered, using a spell as a sort of telepathic link, if what Tara could see was correct.

Stein took a stance. “Spirit, can you stand against the Demon Sword?” Stein asked.

“Of course I can. What do you think I am, a rusty old dagger?” Spirit asked. “It’s been a long time since we were partnered like this, hasn’t it?” Spirit asked.

Stein laughed. “We’re not as young as we used to be, that’s for sure.” he said.

“Speak for yourself. I haven’t aged a bit!” Spirit responded.

“Would you attack already! Hurry up you idiot!” Ragnarok ordered, punching Crona on the head before retreating into Crona’s body.

“But I’ve never seen a man with a giant screw in his head! I don’t know how to deal with a guy like that!” Crona exclaimed as he rushed at Stein.

“You eat him! Swallow his soul!” Ragnarok responded. Crona tried to strike at Stein, but he blocked with Spirit, who was unaffected despite Ragnarok’s vibrations. Stein then used Spirit as a lever to throw Crona to the floor behind him, then blasted him with a Soul Force, causing some black blood to spatter on the ground.

“Professor Stein hit him with his soul wavelength…! This way he might actually be able to do some internal damage.” Maka said.

“That was the point.” Tara was keeping an eye on Maka and Soul to ensure no further harm came to them. “Since the black blood prevents blades from piercing Crona’s body, you have to use attacks that are blunt, bludgeoning, or energy-based. Soul Force or even a simple punch in the face are more effective than trying to stab him.” Tara explained.

“Have another.” Stein said, his hand crackling yellow. He gasped as a spike of blood pierced him from behind before it disintegrated back into liquid blood courtesy of a Fire from Tara targeting the puddle the spike came from. “That’s the blood from the wound we gave him. He can control it even when it’s outside his body?” Stein asked, then looked up as he realized Crona had also spat up some blood during his Soul Force, and Tara couldn’t hit them all with Fire. She couldn’t use a stronger Fire spell because she couldn’t dial up a Fire spell up enough to be worth it, or dial down a Fira to avoid catching Stein in the blast either.

The droplets of blood in the air were turning back to liquid upon being hit by Fire attacks, but they slowly reformed and there must have been a hundred at least. Eyes similar to Ragnarok’s appeared on them, and they spoke with Ragnarok’s voice in a higher pitch as they formed spikes on one end. “Bloody Needle!” The spikes elongated, and Stein jumped back just in time to avoid being made into a pincushion.

“Professor!” Maka called worriedly.

“Every drop of his blood is a weapon! How is that even possible?” Spirit asked.

“Most likely he’s using his soul wavelength to control the blood, regardless of whether it’s in his body. We have to stop him here and now, or he’ll definitely become a Kishin with all the souls he’s been eating.” Stein explained. “What’s more, the balance of power between these two is very uneven. The weapon’s soul is easily the dominant of the pair, ruling over the Meister’s more introverted soul like a king, confining it. At the moment, the Meister still has some strength left to fight back against the weapon. Though he will be swallowed eventually, and that’s when things will get dangerous.” Stein observed.

“There’s also some kind of spell on him.” Tara reported, discovering this thanks to her own experience with magic and a little Soul Perception.

“Ah, so that’s what that snake is. I was wondering why there was a snake coiled around him. That probably means he’s under a witch’s control.” Stein surmised.

Medusa was surprised. “She knew it was a spell? Either she’s had extensive dealings with witches in the past, or I’ve discovered an out-and-out traitor to our side.” she noted. “Either way, tonight has proven quite interesting.” the witch said, the darkly amused grin on her face widening slightly.

“If you let him hit you with that technique again, I’m going to stick thumbtacks in your shoes. Got it Crona?”

“No! Thumbtacks in my shoes would stick in my feet whenever I tried to walk! It would hurt, I don’t think I could deal with that, really.” Crona whined.

“Careful Stein. Injuring him only makes him more dangerous!” Spirit said. Stein nodded, then started to rush towards Crona.

Ragnarok noticed this and responded by having the remaining blood droplets in the air, roughly half having been permanently reverted to liquid after the fifth shoot-down by Tara, send spikes at Stein. Stein dodged and Crona stuck out Ragnarok to block Stein’s attack, then tried to attack himself, only to be blocked aggressively by Spirit’s scythe.

“Oh, I see, Professor Stein has a specific fighting style. He uses my father only to guard like a shield, then attacks with his Soul Force.” Maka observed. Stein smashed a Soul Force into Crona, sending him flying out the church doorway. “Oh wow!” she exclaimed, awed.

Stein dodged more Bloody Needle spikes, then ran out after Crona. He was not counting on a drop of blood appearing in the air around him. “Damn, a time lag attack!” Stein said.

“Goobeeyah! It’s time to die Screwhead!” Raganarok said, apparently having taken full control if Crona’s vacant expression was anything to go by.

Stein was unable to move properly with his earlier injury, and so Tara teleported over and deflected the attack, though she got a small cut on her hand for her trouble. She hoped the blood wound she’s gotten from that wasn’t going to get infected by whatever this stuff was, but Stein seemed fine and Soul was in much worse shape than she was when they found him, so she said nothing.

She moved out of the way as Stein recovered. “I think I’d like to dissect you now.” Stein said. He was clearly annoyed.

“Goobeeyah! Screw yourself! You won’t live that long!” Ragnarok yelled foully as more droplets surrounded Stein.

“You ready?” Stein asked Spirit.

“Yep!” Spirit said confidently. Stein began to spin Spirit around him fast enough that he blurred, and the drops began to rapidly circle him, attempting to get past his defense. For some reason, he stopped spinning Spirit. Tara had to trust him since even if she raised a shield around Stein, it wouldn’t last against concentrated attacks from those spikes and she couldn’t possibly deflect them all herself.

“Bloody Needle!” the spikes said triumphantly.

Stein jabbed Spirit’s handle into the ground and said “Spirit Body!” prompting a white doll-like creature with a screw through it’s head and each arm to form around them. It’s nose resembled a carrot.

“Oh dear, this might be too much for me!” it said as several needles punctured it and the rest were deflected into the ground in a circle around it. Tara couldn’t tell whether it was trying to be mocking or genuinely concerned, and she had no idea why it had a personality.

Ragnarok seemed to take it as mocking him and got angry. “Goobee! Let’s see you stop all these!” he seemed to blink as he noticed that Spirit’s scythe form was by itself. “Huh? Where’d the screw-head freak go?” he started to look around. “I don’t see him. Where the hell is he, dammit?!” he looked up just as Stein came back down to earth, kicking Crona on his way down, and making the boy/girl dizzy.

“Damn! He scrambled what little brains you have left! Hurry up and snap out of it before he uses his Soul Wavelength again!” Ragnarok said, grabbing his Meister by the face once again.

“There are stars and birds and planets floating around me… I don’t know how to deal with that. I can’t handle astronomy and ornithology at the same time!” Crona moaned.

“Those two are easier to deal with than death, you moron! Suck it up and come to your senses already!” Ragnarok ordered.

Stein rushed at them. “Double-palm Soul Force! Twin Spears!” he said, smashing the attack into them. The Meister and Weapon cried out, spraying blood behind them.

“More needles?” Maka asked, but the blood stayed liquid and on the ground.

“No, it’s over now.” Stein said.

“He’s been hit by Soul Force too many times, his wavelength is too badly disrupted for him to control the blood outside his body anymore.” Tara explained.

“I hate to say it, but you’re finished.” Stein said.

“So much for round one. It looks like the black blood has a weakness to fire, or perhaps heat. That should be looked into. It looks like I have some more experimenting to do.” Medusa said.

Suddenly, Crona and Ragnarok started to scream in unison as spikes of black blood erupted from Crona’s body and retracted over and over. “What’s happening to him?” Spirit asked a bit disturbed.

“They’re going through Soul Rejection.” Stein explained. Soul Rejection was what happened when two incompatible Soul Wavelengths tried to work together. The side-effects of trying to wield a Demon Weapon while you own Soul Wavelength was not adjusted to match were a lesser form of this. If one tried to force their wavelengths to try and work together, then… bad things happened. This was just one example. It looked like Crona’s blood and body were turning on each other.

“Their Soul Wavelengths were united but they’re falling apart now.” Maka said.

“It makes sense. Rangarok would blame Crona for their loss, and Crona would resent him for it. One’s emotional state has a huge effect on their ability to sync with their partner. Or so I’ve heard. I can only tell so much with my new Soul Perception, and I’ve only had it for a few weeks.” Tara said.

The witch above them noticed Crona and Ragnarok’s predicament. “It seems I’ve found his limit. Oh well, Soul Protect, Release.” she said.

Stein, Maka, and Tara looked up as they half-sensed, half-saw a powerful witch’s soul. “It’s another soul! I don’t know where it came from, but I can sense it!” Maka said, terrified of the evil backed by power she was feeling. She’d encountered powerful souls, but none of them this clearly evil and with this kind of power behind said evil.

“I feel it too, it’s a witch.” Stein said.

“She’s above us!” Tara pointed at a figure above them on a broomstick.

Medusa chuckled, then laughed. Her soul resolved itself into a massive purple orb with arrows surrounding it like beams of light from the sun. “A witch, huh?” Spirit asked.

“Yes, and a very powerful one. She has a strong soul. My guess is that she’s the one who put that Weapon inside the kid’s body, and that she’s been pushing him to become a Kishin.” Stein answered.

“That’s the witch’s soul? But how? One of us should have seen a soul like that before now…” Maka wondered aloud as she half-hid behind the church wall. “It’s incredibly strong!” she said.

“Soul Protect.” Stein said.

“Huh? What is that?” Maka asked, confused.

“Soul Protect is an advanced spell that all-but blocks off a witch’s magic in return for hiding their souls even from Meisters with anything below exceptional Soul Perception, having been specifically designed to counter it. Even then, they’d have to be trying and very close to the witch in question in order to discover the witch is not a normal human.” Tara explained.

“The techniques isn’t all that complicated, but it needs a fine degree of control. The witch’s soul is enclosed by magic. This blocks the wavelength. The witch is camouflaged and her soul appears no different from a normal human.” Stein elaborated.

“So that’s the soul of a real witch? Mama defeated something like that in order to turn Papa into a Death Scythe?” Maka asked.

“Not necessarily. From what I’ve heard, witches are not usually this strong. Of course, there’s a good reason there have never been more than 13 Death Scythes in the world at any given time.” Tara answered.

“Pathetic. Crona is such a weakling. I’ll have to punish him later.” Medusa said. “Nake… Snake… Cobra… Cobra…” the witch was now in plain view. Black arrows squirmed around her. Her green cloak had white markings on the hood that resembled snake eyes, and her arms were not covered by the cloak but were covered in tattoos resembling snakes. “Nake… Snake… Cobra… Cobra… But before we go, I’ll punish you too.” a twisted smile spread across her face. “Won’t that be fun?” She gestured with her hands and said “Vector Arrows!” causing the arrows to shoot down at them, twisting and turning in midair in ways that real arrows could never have.

Tara raised a barrier in front of the church doorway, but need not have worried. Stein and Spirit said “Let’s go Soul Resonance!” and prepared an almost instant Witch Hunter, destroying ever last arrow.

Medusa was not the least bit perturbed by this, in fact she seemed almost pleased. “Most impressive.” one of the snake tattoos on her arm peeled off and flew down, transforming into a very large snake. A real one at that. The snake grabbed Crona and took him back to it’s master.

“I just dropped by on a little errand, but who’d have thought I’d encounter the DWMA’s best Meister and Death Scythe. What an unexpected pleasure. I’d love to stay and play with you kids, but perhaps another time.” Medusa said before flying away.

“Hey Lady-!” Spirit called.

“Let’s leave her for now. I’m more worried about Soul.” Stein said. Tara had healed the cut she’d gotten earlier almost as soon as it happened, but for some reason she felt off. She ignored it to focus on the now.

Maka was staring at Soul with a guilt-ridden expression. Spirit put a comforting hand on her shoulder, recognizing that expression. Her mother had looked almost the same whenever he got hurt during a fight. “Papa…” Maka said, her defenses down.

“Come on, let’s go home.” Spirit said.

The Death Room. 1 Day Later.

“Interesting. Those two had a pretty rough time of it it seems. How’s Soul holding up?” Death asked.

“Stein’s operating on him now, he was hurt pretty bad, but I think he’ll be alright.” Spirit said. “Still, it was weird seeing magic used to help people. Tara seemed upset healing his wounds was all she could do.”

“She might not look it, but Tara is something I’ve never seen before. She is not a Witch or a normal human, yet she can use magic and recovers both health and stamina faster than she should. Still, that’s beside the point.

The Demon Sword has arisen, and it’s working with a Meister. Embedded in him no less from your reports. Behind it all is a powerful Witch. Hm…” he thought for a moment, then raised his blocky hands. “Goodness, it’s getting pretty crazy around here, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Aren’t you taking this a bit too lightly?” Spirit asked, sweatdropping.

“Oh?” Death asked.

Meanwhile, Maka sat outside the hospital wing’s door with a guilty expression on her face as Soul was operated on and Tara’s blood was examined for contamination. Considering how Crona had cut into bone, contamination was pretty much a given for Soul, though she didn’t know their blood was being examined.

The door opened and Stein came out. “Oh, professor.” Maka called.

He paused as he noticed Maka. “Have you been here this whole time?” He scratched at his head. “Why didn’t you take a nap or eat or something?” he asked.

“I have to know how Soul is!” Maka almost shouted.

Stein grinned and made a peace sign. “The operation was a complete success!” Stein said happily. “Once he rests up, he’ll be as good as new.” Stein said.

“He’s okay.” Maka said quietly and in relief. “Oh thank you Professor Stein!” Maka thanked him. “Is Tara alright?” she asked.

“I haven’t been able to find anything unusual.” Stein answered nonchalantly.

“Um, Professor, is it alright if I go in to check on them now?” Maka asked.

“Yes, that’s fine.” Stein said with a smile. Maka ran inside.

“That’s a nice fake smile you’ve got there. Now why don’t you tell me what you couldn’t tell Maka, how are they really?” Spirit asked.

Stein lit a cigarette and took a smoke. “Neither of them have any injuries that are permanent, beyond some slight scarring, it’s almost as if Soul were never injured. Something’s been bothering me about the black blood Ragnarok is composed of though.” Stein said.

“What’s up?” Spirit asked.

“We have encountered substances similar to the black blood before, though this version is a far cry from the primitive attempts of other witches. One of the more dangerous aspects of these substances which they all share is that they can be passed along.

As you’re aware, there is normally little chance of contamination as any wound would immediately begin to bleed, removing any trace of the black blood. However, if the wound is rapidly closed or hits bone marrow, this is not the case.

Soul was more or less guaranteed to be infected from the moment he got that wound, it hit the bone marrow of several ribs. Tara might have been fine, but her Cure spell sealed the wound before the trace of black blood left her system. The end result is that they both have traces black blood in their circulatory systems. Worse, Tara’s vulnerability to the Madness Wavelength is being amplified by her infection.

It’s only slight because their black blood is dormant for now, but they’ll both be more susceptible to it’s influence. Permanently. They’re in no real danger as long as a Kishin doesn’t appear and the blood remains dormant though.” Stein said. “Well no more than usual anyway.” he added.

Twilight The Traveler

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