Midoriya slowly cracked one eye open, disturbed from the strange dream he’d been having by the loud thunking of his mentor dropping a stack of books on the floor. Typically, he’d be alarmed by being caught in the act of sleeping in the study again, but that strange dream was still stuck in his head.
As he sat up and wiped some drool from his mouth, he tried to recall the already fading vision.
He’d been on a mountain top, it was cold, and it felt like icy winds were blowing directly through him. There was something, no, someone, standing beside him all of a sudden. In the dream, he’d been frightened to look, like if he did--they would vanish. So he stared ahead, right up until he’d heard, “Goodbye.” When he did turn to look out of sheer panic, everything went dark, and Midoriya was left with a rotten feeling in his gut.
Because of his daydreaming, he completely missed his mentor lecturing him about “proper rest” and, “If you’re going to get better with magic, you need to take care of yourself.”
Pfft, he just needed to keep studying, and what better place than the library of the small town he was living in. It also worked as an excellent hiding place from the villagers who simply hated his guts.
It didn’t seem to be anything personal, other than the fact that despite years of trying, Midoriya was the only one in the village who couldn’t do magic. This was practically unheard of since nearly everyone in their kingdom specialized in some sort of magic.
On top of that, he’d been diagnosed with some sort of sickness since he was young. It wasn’t contagious, but it left him exhausted often, and he’d heard many comments about him being frail.
This meant he couldn’t even be useful labor-wise. Midoriya had thought this over several times, finally coming to the conclusion that the only reason he hadn’t been tossed into the woods for the wolves to eat, was because of the man currently lecturing him.
After Midoriya’s mother passed, Toshinori took Midoriya in. Even before that, the man had defended him, pointing out that yes, Midoriya was sick, but Toshinori had the same illness. “Besides,” Toshinori had said, “I’m sure he has powerful magic, I can feel it.”
That was three years ago, and Midoriya still couldn’t do a damn thing. He wanted so badly to learn, to be able to help protect the village, but he was beginning to lose hope.
His mentor seemed to sense where Midoriya’s thought was going, loudly interrupting with, “Midoriya my boy! Pay attention!”
It did work, as the green-haired boy looked back to Toshinori with his eyes wide.
Toshinori looked concerned and was clearly trying to hide it. He crossed his arms, “go home and rest,” he told Midoriya, his stern tone rapidly fading, “If you push yourself too hard, I’m gonna have to stop teaching you.”
Midoriya’s eyes widened at that, and he immediately stood, nearly falling over from the headrush it gave him, “no--I--I’m going!” he stammered, roughly scooping up his bag. He looked back to his mentor as he left, huffing at the smile Toshinori wore.
“Don’t have to threaten me,” the boy mumbled to himself as he slowly walked home, ignoring the glares from passing villagers.
Lately, the anger from them had been getting worse. Many of them were beginning to blame Midoriya for the strange natural disasters that’d been plaguing their village, and the surrounding ones. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, seeing as he was often called ‘cursed’.
The only thing protecting him was Toshinori, and even that was fading. Midoriya knew Toshinori was getting sicker. His mentor couldn’t hold spells as long and he wasn’t as strong as he used to be. According to the villagers, this was all his fault--since he was cursed. Midoriya was kinda starting to believe it, with all the unfortunate events that had plagued him.
As he entered his hut--furthest from the village center--he sighed and dropped his bag on the ground, then fell into his makeshift bed, curling around one of the blankets.
Tomorrow would be better, he told himself. Tomorrow he would study more and finally finally use magic. Tomorrow he wouldn’t be cursed anymore.
Clearly, the universe had other plans. Because when he woke in the morning, it was due to the loud noises of frantic villagers searching for Toshinori. Apparently, Midoriya had slept well into the next day, and his mentor had been missing since yesterday evening.
Normally, this wouldn’t bug him--he’d assume the villagers were just overreacting--but by now his mentor should’ve at least come to wake him for their lesson. So he quickly got dressed, already playing awful scenarios through his head about what could’ve happened to Toshinori.
When Midoriya stepped outside, he was immediately bombarded by a couple villagers who’d clearly been heading for his hut.
One of them harshly grabbed his arm, practically hissing, “Where is Toshinori?!” while the other had snooped into his hut, exiting before Midoriya even had the chance to reply.
“I don’t know,” Midoriya told the one holding onto him, trying to keep his voice calm, “I was about to go looking for him.”
The one who’d been in his tent sneered, “may as well crawl back in bed because you aren’t gonna be any help.” With one last painful squeeze, he was released and left alone.
As he watched them leave, Midoriya rubbed his arm, then turned away from the village and towards the forest. It was the one place he knew they wouldn’t have checked, due to their underlying fear of it.
It was rumored that all sorts of beasts and monsters of old lived out there. The vast forest spanned from the edge of their small village and the few surrounding ones, to far out past what any human of their kingdom had gone. Or at least any human of their kingdom had gone and returned. As such, the forest was left alone, save for the few hunters who would occasionally venture a mile or so in.
Midoriya let out a breath of air he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, the forest was scary, but so was a world without Toshinori. So, clenching his fists and forcing a smile on his face, Midoriya set off.
The transition from the village to the forest was eerily noticeable. It wasn’t just the sudden lack of faded chatter, or the quiet that came from no spells being cast. It was how still the air seemed, like it was sitting heavy in the forest until something inevitably came along to move it. This, along with the change in the feeling beneath his feet--dry, prickly grass to wet leaves, sent a shiver up Midoriya’s spine. But still, he pressed on.
He’d maybe gotten a mile into the forest when he heard coughing that was harsh and wet, like someone was choking. It startled Midoriya, as he’d grown used to the quiet in the past half-hour, but the suddenness of it helped to spur him into action faster. His eyes swept across the landscape until they found a heap of clothing that seemed to be shivering in a field just ahead.
Midoriya narrowed his eyes, trying to discern the shape when a flash of golden hair caught his eye.
Immediately, the young apprentice was rushing forwards, nearly tripping over clumps of grass as he neared his master. “Toshinori!” He yelled to the form, eyes widening slightly at the sudden scent of iron in the air.
Ahead of him, Toshinori was pushing himself up, blood leaking from his mouth.
Collapsing in front of the man, Midoriya started grabbing at one of his pouches. He needed to get something on whatever the hell was bleeding, quickly.
But as he pulled a poultice and wrap from his bag, Toshinori pushed his hand down, shaking his head with a soft smile.
“Midoriya, my boy,” he began, ragged breathing, “the wounds I have now, are fatal. So don’t waste this time trying to save me.”
“Thats not-” Midoriya began but was cut off by Toshinori, “I need to pass this onto you before I go.”
Shaking, Midoriya held back the growing urge to ignore his masters wishes so he could start dragging him back to camp, but he held strong, listening closely.
Toshinori suddenly pushed his closed fist against Midoriya’s hand, “You need to take this,” he ground out, still smiling at Midoriya, “This has passed through the hands of many of our ancestors.”
“I don’t understand what you mean,” Midoriya urgently cried, “please, just let me get you back to the village!”
But his master ignored his words, instead opening his hand to reveal a necklace with a shell-like cage around a pearl. “This is yours now, Izuku. And he may come looking for it, the man who did this.” Toshinori made a pained face then, trying hard to continue speaking, “He looks human, my boy, but he is some sort of monster. The way he fought--reminded me of someone.” Toshinori seemed to be fading then, voice going quieter, eyes no longer as focused.
Midoriya bit back a whimper at the sight before him, shaking his masters shoulder, “Toshinori don’t! You need to stay awake until I can get you some help, please!” Tears were freely falling from his face now, snot running from his nose.
His words must have fallen on deaf ears however, as his master was blinking slow, watching the sky above as his breathing shook. It wasn’t until he stopped breathing altogether that Midoriya let out a gut wrenching scream. If he had some sort of magic, he could have moved his master, or healed him, or something. If he wasn’t so useless.
For over an hour, Midoriya sat like that, hunched over his master with the necklace in his hand. The only thing that stirred him from his own head was the howl he heard far out in the forest. Night was only a couple hours away and Midoriya needed to do something for Toshinori, he couldn’t just leave him here. Without a shovel, Midoriya wouldn’t be able to dig a grave, so the next best option was scrape a shallow grave with his hands, and cover him with stones.
This took him well into the night, and by the time he’d finished, Midoriya’s hands were bruised and bloody. He stared at the mound before him, mind blanking on what to do. Finally, he settled on waiting for morning--that way he could recognize his surroundings, and he wouldn’t be eaten alive by the creatures lurking about.
So the young man perched himself in a tree, eyes set on the horizon and Toshinoris parting gift heavy on his neck as he waited for daybreak.