// Hospital Hijinks And Excalibur The Annoying!// Story: Twilight the Traveler// by ilbgar//——————————//
Tara was leaning against a wall, reading a book, more or less simply here under observation at this point, when Maka came in. She took one look at the guilty expression on Maka’s face and said “It’s not your fault. Stein and Spirit working together had trouble with those two. You couldn’t possibly have known the who your opponents were before meeting them either.”
“But… Soul… he got hurt because I couldn’t just leave it alone! I have to become as strong as he is! I will! That’s a promise.” Maka was crying by the third word, and it was obvious the blame was permanently on her shoulders, at least in her own mind. Maka really did remind her of herself.
Suddenly the door burst open. “Soul! Tara! Are you okay?!” Blackstar ran in yelling. Noticing that Tara seemed fine, Blackstar turned his full attention to Soul. He grabbed Soul by the neck and started jerking him up and down yelling “You’re going to be alright! Blackstar is here for you now! Open your eyes!” he attempted to pry Soul’s eyes open. “One look at my big handsome face and you’ll be cured for sure!” Blackstar was now flinging Soul around like a rag doll.
“Blackstar! Noooo!” Maka screamed, before a Dual-Chop crashed down on his head. Maka had finally managed one in with both hands at the same time. Blackstar was sent flying into the nearby hospital bed, blood spurting from his mouth. Maka got a slightly sadistic smile in response.
“Good job on your Maka Chops, Maka, you can finally do two at once!” Tara said happily, more or less ignoring Blackstar. It wasn’t nearly as bad as when he’d been Reaper Chopped a couple weeks ago, and he’d been fine. Tsubaki simply stared. You’d think she would be used to the crazy by now.
“Sorry about that Maka!” Tsubaki apologized once she snapped out of it. “Maka?” she asked, concerned when Maka’s guilty expression resurfaced. Maka rubbed at her eyes furiously and chuckled artificially, returning to a more normal expression.
Some footsteps signaled the approach of Doctor Medusa. She’d referred to her as Nurse Medusa in relation to Spirit’s perverted fantasies.
There was something that had always felt off about the seemingly good-natured medic, but Tara had seen nothing wrong even with point-blank use of Soul Perception. She couldn’t go around accusing people just because of feelings either, especially not after what happened last time she hadn’t had proof to back up her finger-pointing. Besides, there was absolutely nothing concrete to suggest that she wasn’t as nice as she appeared.
“Oh my goodness, what happened to the door?” she asked. She had dirty-blond hair with a braid in the front, a classic doctor’s coat over a black and rather skintight suit, blue shoes, and yellow eyes. “It looks like things have been rather lively in here.” she said.
“Doctor Medusa.” Maka said, snapping out of her inner thoughts.
“Good Afternoon.” Tsubaki, Maka, and herself, said in unison, bowing. There was no point being impolite, and no reason at all to let Medusa know she was suspicious.
Blackstar had apparently recovered already, as he threw off the covers and asked “Hey Doc, what’s up? Are you here to check on Soul and Tara are doing?”
“Well I feel fine, just had a nasty dream and didn’t want to go back to sleep.” Tara said. The nightmares were worse than usual, she didn’t wake up in a cold sweat very often any more.
“Actually, Miss Maka?” Medusa asked.
“Yes?” Maka asked, hesitant. “What is it?”
Medusa was clearly embarrassed. “Can you do me a favor and help me out with your father? I can’t get him off my leg.” she said. This prompted them all to look and see that Spirit was indeed cuddling Medusa’s leg and saying perverted things. Maka responded in the usual way, A Maka Chop which left Spirit in the hospital bed this time. Maka’s expression was very satisfied at having done that.
“Soul had a difficult lesson didn’t he? It seems as though he was in bad shape.” Medusa was inwardly quite happy with what she’d found. ‘I recognize the after-effects of magical healing, and Tara’s magic was exactly the same as the magic in Soul. She’s definitely responsible.’ Witches whose talents lay in healing were generally shunned by the others, so that explained Tara’s presence. At least, it would if she hadn’t shown a talent for a variety of magic. Most Witches favored one type or theme, even the Grand Witch herself had a distinct predilection for space-time manipulation. She’d keep this to herself for now though.
“Yes, I’m sorry. It’s all my fault that he was hurt.” Maka apologized.
Medusa put her hands on Maka’s shoulders and said “I’m not placing any blame. What matters is that he’s okay now. As for you, this will only make you stronger in the long run.”
“Yeah.” Maka nodded, good cheer returning. Tara really didn’t understand why she was so suspicious of Medusa, but she did her best to keep it from affecting their interactions. For a split second, she thought she caught a hint of dark magic, but that shouldn’t have been possible since a point-blank Soul Perception had shown nothing. She’d literally been less than 2 feet away from Medusa. With that in mind, she put it down as her imagination.
Some time later, Tara dozed off and had an odd dream. She was in a library of sorts, but the books all had black covers, and there were 6 crystals on pedestals placed equidistant from each other around the room. She was sitting on a chair of sorts with a stiff back and a pen and blank book on a table in front of her. A black door on the opposite side of the room opened, and a figure that looked exactly like her stepped through. There was one difference in their appearance.
“No… it can’t be… I sealed you away, and you didn’t break the seal, so how are you here?!” she asked.
Her doppelganger grinned, though that only made the malice she oozed more terrifying. “Madness is illogical and unpredictable by nature. I can’t fully escape, but I can reach out when you’re defenses are lowest. That is to say, in sleep through your dreams.” Arcana said, smile widening with just a hint of insanity and letting her glimpse a bottomless pit of evil.
“So, you can’t actually force me into anything then.” Tara said guardedly.
“Ah, no, I’m afraid not. I can speak to you, but I am once again reduced to an advisory role. Although now I can also let you access a power boost in the form of the black blood you were infected with when you rushed in to prevent Stein being injured. You healed your hand before the trace of it could be bled out, and it’s infested the nearby bone marrow cells. Since it has a direct relationship with your soul, you won’t be getting rid of it when you head to the next world.” Arcana explained pleasantly.
“One, why would I listen to someone who will do their best to maneuver me into a position where she can take over my body and kill everything. Two, why would I willingly allow that stuff any more influence than possible after seeing what it did to Crona’s mental state. I’m not entirely stable as it is.” Tara countered.
“Even a broken clock is right twice a day. My being your enemy does not mean I don’t give good advice. Besides, I’m nothing more than the manifestation of the weakness in your heart. Were you to try and take on the darkness your own anger, fear, guilt, and despair forged, you would be driven insane or broken beyond repair. I am stopping that from happening simply by existing. You can still feel negative emotions, but they will be somewhat muted and you will recover more quickly. To that extent, we have a symbiotic relationship.
As for your second point, the black blood also provides a massive offensive power boost, and you saw for yourself how tough Crona was, being able to get right back up from being impaled. If you’re outmatched, you may have no other choice. Besides, even though I would love to be in control, you have it for the moment, and if you were to die, so would I. Since I have yet to seriously harm anyone you care about, I think it’s a safe gamble that you have the impression it’s possible to keep me under control.” Arcana answered.
“Hm, it’s a last resort nonetheless. I’m certain something like that would practically take a battering ram to the seal that’s keeping you in my head where you can’t hurt anyone. Possibly excluding me.” Tara said, arms crossed.
Arcana smiled. “Guilty as charged. You might be logical and intelligent, but you tend to place others before yourself. You’ll be more than willing to use the black blood when your friends are in trouble.” she looked up, presumably at the real world instead of the mental/soul-based construct they were talking in. “However, our time seems to be up. See you soon.” Arcana simply waved as the room faded from Tara’s sight.
“It seems Original has encountered a very interesting substance. I’m very curious how much mental and emotional havoc it will wreak,” Her smile rapidly approached the limits of what was anatomically possible. “and how much the seal can take before it crumbles.” she mused aloud.
Tara awoke to screaming. Specifically, Soul’s screaming his lungs out and thrashing in his bed roughly five feet away. “Gah! What’s wrong?!” she said, slightly drowsy.
“I don’t know, you were both muttering in your sleep, then Soul started screaming!” Maka answered.
“What’s the matter?” Doctor Medusa asked calmly, presumably used to screaming.
“Good! Doctor Medusa, it’s Soul!” Maka said. Soul continued to scream and thrash, Maka offered her hand, and he took it tightly.
Once Soul calmed down, he reassured them. “I’m alright, I’ll be okay. I just had a bad dream that’s all.” he said.
“That’s very good to hear Soul, but if anything does come up, call me right away, alright?” Medusa asked, before walking away, once she was behind the curtain, she paused. ‘Ragnarok’s black blood is mixed in with Soul Eater’s and Tara Strong’s.’ a dark grin spread across her face. ‘It seems I have new research subjects. Tara should prove especially interesting since she not only possesses magic, but from what I can tell, her DNA has undergone mutation. For some reason, her files are classified, which makes me that much more curious about her past.’ she thought, a snake of purple energy curled out of her mouth briefly before she recalled it.
‘I have to remember not to let my power show around Tara. She hides it well, but she’s suspicious of me and she possesses Soul Perception, albeit only a little above-average. She has good instincts too, although she’s hesitant to follow through on them.’ she thought, forcing her face back into her ‘Doctor Medusa’ personality.
*** Sunset ***
Maka was getting ready to leave. “Okay Soul, I’m heading home, unless you need something. Are you thirsty? Do you want me to get you a drink before I go?” she asked.
“Nah, don’t worry about it. What goes in must come out, and I don’t want to use the bathroom in these stupid bedpans.” Soul answered.
“Do you want me to bring anything when I come back besides a change of underwear?” she asked.
“Hm… nope I can’t think of anything.” he said, closing his eyes tiredly.
“Okay.” Maka said, eyes downcast.
“Hey Maka, I’m in this bed because of something I did, not because of you. Don’t get all worked up about it okay?” he asked.
“Sorry.” Maka apologized quietly, before leaving.
‘Crap. I think I made her feel even worse. Way to go Soul.’ he thought
“Well, I’ll be heading to the Death Room, I have to talk to Lord Death about something. I was told I’m just not supposed to leave the DWMA grounds, not stay put.” Tara said. “Be back soon.” she said.
She caught sight of Maka following her father just as she left Soul to his own devices. She really ought to talk to Lord Death about this, if only to inform him of her ‘condition.’
Several minutes later, she was telling him about what happened. “Hm, that certainly sounds troublesome. Unfortunately, we simply aren’t capable of removing something embedded in your bone marrow without amputating your whole hand, and I think we can agree that should be a last resort. Especially since there’s no guarantee that it would work given the nature of the black blood.
As much as it pains me to say it, you will simply have to do your best to keep your counterpart contained. I won’t forbid you from using the black blood, but I’m sure you’re aware that Arcana will take advantage of even a crack in the seal, from what you’ve told me about her anyway. Be sure to pull back before that happens.” Death advised.
“Yes, and if she was telling the truth, she literally came from my weakness, which makes anything she might do my fault as well. Considering the sheer glee she showed at the thought of killing millions, it’s safe to say she won’t be planning anything good.” Tara mused aloud.
“I don’t think you should blame yourself too much. If you weren’t traumatized by what you’ve been through, it would make me question your ability to feel emotion at all.” Death responded.
“Well, that doesn’t help my situation now and if you forge a sword you’re complicit in any killing done with it, regardless of your intention. If I had dealt with it better, Arcana would never even have appeared.” Tara said, still blaming herself.
“You are asking far too much of yourself.” Death said, a rare serious expression on his mask/face. He raised a hand. “At any rate, why don’t you sleep on it? We don’t seem to making much progress.” he suggested.
“I guess I probably should, I might be able to get some answers from Arcana actually.” Tara mused, walking away deep in thought.
Death watched her go, then sighed. “At times, she seems to almost be Asura’s anti-thesis. She refuses to give in to negativity to the point her soul split, and then she manages to resist even that. It’s very impressive, but if she keeps trying to handle everything herself she’ll be crushed by the weight of the world.” he put a hand to his chin. “What to do…?” he asked himself.
On Tara’s way back, she was commandeered by Sid and Blackstar, mainly Sid. She was headed to the library anyway, so she wasn’t all that inconvenienced. She was, however, horrified by the state the library was in when she got there. There were as many books on the floor in haphazard piles as on the shelves of the bookcases.
She just barely restrained herself from re-shelving, realizing that Blackstar was probably being made to clean the place.
Blackstar had a thoroughly bored expression on his face as he looked around. “Well, you wanted me to come here, so here I am. What am I supposed to do now?” he asked.
“Clean! Put the library back in order!” Sid ordered. “Tara knows the system better than most of the people who work here, so she’ll be able to explain it to you better than I can, but you’re not going to be getting any help from her cleaning up.” Sid said.
“Huh? No way, not me!” Blackstar objected.
“Listen you brat! On your last extracurricular lesson, you didn’t collect even one Kishin Egg soul!” Sid said.
“Yeah, well, that’s what remedial lessons are for, right? I’ve been doing enough of them lately. How is stacking a bunch of books going to help? Cleaning? No way! I’m too big for that! Stars don’t clean!” Tara was getting the distinct impression that he was sulking. “Isn’t there anything better for me to do? Why can’t I do something like when we fought you and the crazy professor?” Blackstar asked. He was definitely sulking.
“Listen up for once Blackstar! When it comes to raw power, you’re in the top three in your class, but here you are with nothing to show for it! It’s not fair to Tsubaki, she’s trying hard and you’re holding her back!” Sid had managed to get to the door while they weren’t looking somehow. “What you need right now is punishment! Something mind-numbingly tedious and boring to get you back on track!” Sid said between the half-closed wooden doors.
“This is a huge mess, aren’t you at least going to help me?” Blackstar asked.
“That would defeat the purpose of this whole exercise. I don’t spoil my students, that’s not the kind of man I was.” Sid said, waving his hand and slowly closing the door. “One more thing, Tara, resist your OCD and don’t put any of the books back. You’ll justify helping Blackstar with the rest before long.” Sid said, before closing the door and walking off.
Tara tried to explain the Duo Decimal system to Blackstar, but he’d already found a comic book/graphic novel/manga book (it was hard to tell from just the cover sometimes) and was laughing his head off at every other page. She sighed and picked out a book to read and tried very very hard not to notice the disorder around her.
Eventually, someone noticed Blackstar’s loud laughter, she was honestly rather surprised it took so long. “Hey, keep it down, would you? You’re in a library.” Kid complained.
“Whoops! Yeah, sorry.” Blackstar apologized then noticed who he was talking to. “What are you doing here Kid, are you being punished too?” Blackstar asked.
“No, I’m here to check out a book. I’m conducting some research into the symmetry of famous weapons. I’d actually like take the book your sitting on if you don’t mind moving for a second.” Kid said.
Tara was left wondering how this mess wasn’t leaving him going nuts, maybe he was less incensed because the books were fairly symmetrical individually? Hm, that was the opposite of her problem.
“Oh, right here?” Blackstar asked, moving over and grabbing the book in question before handing it over.
“What does the cover say?” Blackstar asked. “E-Ex-caly-bur?” he asked.
“Almost, Excalibur.” Kid corrected.
Tara took a closer look. The book was light green and had EXCALIBUR in golden letters as the title. She immediately got the universal expression of all who had met the current Excalibur. Based on what she’d learned from the fairies in his cave, the sad thing was that he used to be sensible and a force for good to rival Lord Death, but he hadn’t handled immortality well. His sanity had eroded over the eons until he was little more than a babbling fool with enough power to destroy a city.
“Yeah, what’s that?” Blackstar said.
“From what I’ve heard it’s a legendary Weapon pre-dating the human versions. It’s also known as the holy sword. They say he who draws the holy sword from the ground will be deemed a hero and shall receive ever-lasting glory and fame. I’ve heard that someone who obtained Excalibur in the past went on to become a mighty king.” Kid said.
“Yep, it was King Arthur he was the mightiest of the Knights of the Round Table and his reign was, for the most part, a time of peace and prosperity like the citizens of Britain had never seen. Although-” Tara was cut off from mentioning what happened to King Arthur or Ecalibur’s current state by Kid.
“I bet a sword as powerful as this one has absolutely flawless symmetry! Oh symmetry!” Kid said. Tara could have sworn she saw a sparkle in front of Kid.
“Hero? King? That sounds perfect to me!” Blackstar exclaimed, a similar sparkle in his eye.
“Oh, you mean Excalibur, huh?” Stein asked, freaking Tara out a little since he’d gotten so close without anyone noticing.
“Hey Professor, are you here for punishment too?” Blackstar asked.
“Punishment? What are you talking about Blackstar?” Stein asked.
“Do you know anything about the legend of Excalibur?” Kid asked.
“The Holy Sword Excalibur. It was too much even for me.” Stein said, turning away.
“Really?” Blackstar asked.
“Even you couldn’t draw the sword Professor?” Kid asked, before looking closer at the book. “The holy sword Excalibur…” Kid said.
“Now I’m really interested!” Blackstar said loudly.
“I’m not all that surprised Professor Stein couldn’t draw Excalibur.” Tara admitted. “He might be an exceedingly powerful Meister, but there’s no accounting for Excalibur’s current personality… and they’ve already left.” Tara sighed, noticing them not being there.
“I might as well clean up, they’re not coming back any time soon.” she rubbed at her head in annoyance. She started on the nearest pile, Tsubaki eventually came by and joined in. With the two of them working at it, the library was clean before Sid came back.
“Let’s see. Are you still hard at work like a good boy Blackstar?” he gasped at the sight of the library not only organized but even swept and mopped. “Ooh! See what you can do if you put your mind to it?” he asked.
“Oh, hey Professor Sid, we finished cleaning a while ago.” Tsubaki said, pausing in reading her book.
“Tsubaki! Tara! So that sneaky little brat dumped his punishment on them and took off did he? Back when I was still alive I hated it when dirty tricks like this were pulled!” Sid growled.
“It’s okay Professor, I like to clean.” Tsubaki said.
“And I like to organize.” Tara said.
“If you’re looking for Blackstar, he’s not here. He and Kid went to find the Holy Sword. Why, did he do something wrong?” Stein asked.
“The Holy Sword?” Sid asked taking a few steps closer.
“Yes. Excalibur.” Stein answered.
“The same sword that tears the air and shakes the very ground?” Sid asked.
“Yes, they’re after that Excalibur.” Tara said, her ‘Excalibur’ expression returning briefly.
Stein turned his face back to his book and gave his screw a few turns. “Let’s stop talking about it.” he said.
“I tried to tell them, but they’d already left.” Tara said, pinching the bridge of her nose.
Sid rubbed his head and sighed. “Yeah, in some ways this is the ultimate remedial lesson. I’ll let this one slide, that’s the kind of man I was. I have some tests that need grading anyway.” he said, leaving the way he came.
Tsubaki approached Stein. “Professor, I have a question. What kind of weapon is the Holy Sword?” she asked.
“Oh, that huh? Whoever draws the sword is said to be made a great king, given wings of light and granted the ability to soar through the sky. The sword can cut through the very fabric of space with a single swing. It is undoubtedly the most powerful weapon in the world.” Stein said.
“I see, but only a hero who’s been chosen can match Soul Wavelengths with it, right?” she asked.
“Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Surprisingly enough, Excalibur also has the most flexible wavelength in existence. It can match with anyone just fine.” Stein answered.
“The problem is his personality. Nobody can stand to be around him for more than half an hour.” Tara said, her Excalibur expression returning in full force. “I have never encountered anyone more annoying, and I once dealt with the literal spirit of chaos!” she finally gave in to her aggravation and threw her hands in the air.
*** The Next Morning ***
The 8 of them (Tara, Maka, Soul, Blackstar, Tsubaki, Kid, Liz, Patty) met outside their classroom. Kid and Blackstar shook hands. “We’ve both got fine partners already, huh?” Blackstar asked. Kid nodded.
“Looks like the gang is all here.” Soul said, trademark toothy grin on his face.
“Hey Soul.” everyone said in unison.
“So are you all fixed up now Soul?” Blackstar asked as the two of them fist bumped. “The real party can’t start without you around.” he said.
“Yeah, I’m a lot better now.” Soul answered.
A few girls giggled over some thing in the background. “Blackstar, I’m beginning to think other people have been laughing at us.” Kid said, leaning over a bit.
“Those two? They’re the ones?” one of the three asked.
“Yeah, it’s for them.” another answered, causing them all to giggle.
It was at that moment that Maka appeared from inside the classroom. “Hey Blackstar, Kid, c’mere I think you better see this.” Maka said.
They all followed her in, and discovered a strange shrine of sorts. It had a banner at the top with the words ‘I’ll always be waiting for you’ with the letter ‘f’ replaced with a cane with eyes. Below that were two pictures of Excalibur wreathed in pink flowers each having a banner below them with Kid and Blackstar’s names. The whole thing was tied down with rope in a candy-cane patter. Tara facepalmed. “Yep, this seems like the kind of thing he’d do.” she said, suppressing her urge to burn the thing.
“Is he serious?” Kid and Blackstar asked in unison.
“What is that?” Maka asked.
“Don’t know, but it’s intense.” Soul answered.
“Trust me. You don’t want to know.” Tara said, her Excalibur expression returned in all it’s glory.
“That freak.” Blackstar said in his Excalibut expression.
“Disgusting.” Kid said also in his Excalibur expression.