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Vereor Nox

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A long time ago, hidden in the ancient text of those who swore to keep the secrets of the dark world hidden from mortals, there was a war. A war that raged on for far too long, a war that drove many demons to turn against those they once saw as kin, calling themselves Daemons. A war which would breed a new type of warrior, a Venandi, a human with an innate ability to fight with a demon on an equal level.
While the grand fighting is over, the war is not. Many demons still want to see the humans dead or enslaved. It is up to a new generation of daemons and Venatores to protect humanity from the monsters that lurk in the shadows.

"Keith, are you awake?" Came a woman's voice from the other side of his bedroom door. He fought down a groan and snuggled further under the covers. He could sleep a few more minutes. It wouldn't bother anyone if he just relaxed a little bit longer. "Keith?" The door creaked open, and quiet footsteps made their way to his bed. "Are you planning on sleeping through breakfast entirely, then?"

At the mention of food, Keith cracked an eye open and was met with his mom's face wearing an amused expression.

"How is it that you and your father are so easily swayed with food?" She asked, laughing. Keith snorted and flung the covers off.

"Is there actually breakfast or are you just trying to get me out of bed?" He asked. She shrugged and ruffled his hair.

"A bit of both. Get dressed and come downstairs. We've got a busy day today," She said, patting his head. She left as Keith sat up and stretched. He got dressed and trudged downstairs to see his dad sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee as his mom fixed plates of food. His dad looked over at him and smiled.

"Good Morning kiddo!" He said as Keith sat down and began to devour his breakfast. "You excited for today?" Keith shrugged his shoulders.

"I guess," He said, making his mom frown as she sat next to him.

"You guess?" She asked. His father patted her hand.

"Krolia, the boy's probably just nervous," He said. "He's got to go in front of the senior members of the Blade and he's going to meet his partner. Case of the jitters is normal," Krolia snorted as Keith smiled.

"Honestly, I'm more nervous about tomorrow," He confessed, poking at his food. "I've never been to an actual school before. I'm not exactly a people person," Krolia smiled and ruffled her son's hair again, much to his protest.

"You're a sweet boy! Everyone's going to love you!" She said. His dad nodded.

"You'll be fighting boys away with a stick and breaking every girl's heart when you tell them you're gay," He agreed. Keith went beet red as his mom laughed.

"Dad!" His dad laughed before getting up and walking to the cabinet by the pantry. He opened it up and pulled out a box that was wrapped up with a red ribbon on top. He handed it to Keith.

"Karre, do you think-" Krolia began, but Karre cut her off.

"I know we agreed to wait but maybe this will ease some of those nerves," He sat back down and motioned to Keith. "Go ahead, open it up,"

Keith tore the paper off and pried the top open. He looked inside speechless.

Inside was a curved blade with a smaller one inside it. He gingerly picked it up and studied it in awe. He looked at Karre, who was smiling.

"Did… did you make this?" He asked. Karre nodded.

"Yep. I retired from Venandi weapon construction a while ago but I figured my son should have a good quality first weapon," He said. "It's a duel blade transformation. You like close up combat so-" Karre was cut off by Keith wrapping him in a hug.

"I love it!" He said. "Thank you!" Krolia smiled.

"Finish eating Keith. We've got to head out soon,"

After Keith finished breakfast, he and Krolia left to head to the temple of the Blades. As they ascended the steps, Krolia turned to Keith.

"I can't believe you're going to become a Venandi," She sighed. Keith shrugged his shoulders.

"I'll be a Venandi-in-training, so I'm not that impressive," He said. Krolia rolled her eyes and hugged him.

"I'm still proud of my little boy," she said. Keith blushed and hugged her back.

"Yeah yeah," He said, patting her back. "Let's go,"

The two walked inside to see Thace and Ulaz waiting in the center of the room.

"There's my favorite nephew!" Thace said, scooping Keith up in an almost bone-crushing hug.

"Thace put the boy down," Ulaz said, slapping his back. Thace sat Keith down and ruffled his hair.

"I can't believe you're starting your training today," Thace said. "It seems like just yesterday you managed to hold a sword the right way," Keith frowned as his uncle and mom laughed. Ulaz sighed and looked over at him.

"Are you ready to begin the ceremony?" He asked. Keith nodded his head. Thace slapped his back and Krolia kissed the top of his head.

“You'll do good tiger," Thace called as Keith followed Ulaz to the back of the temple.

The two walked through a pair of double doors and began to walk down a long hall. Chants and noises came from behind the doors they passed. Keith ignored them and followed Ulaz closely. He stopped in front of a door

"Kolivan will be introducing you to your partner," He said. "You'll fight together and see how well you work as a team. If you two pass then you'll start your training. If you fail, you'll be exiled,"

"Failing is not an option," Keith said. Ulaz turned to him, a smile twitching at the corner of his lips. He placed a hand on his shoulder.

"You're going to make all of us proud," He said. He opened the door and Keith stepped inside.

Ulaz shut the door behind him. Kolivan sat at a table with someone else in front of him, wearing a blue hoodie. Kolivan looked up at Keith.

"You're late," He said as Keith sat next to the person.

"Traffic," He said. The person next to him snorted out a laugh while Kolivan held an unamused stare. "Sorry," Keith looked up at Kolivan, who let out a quick puff of air before looking at the two in front of him.

"Akira Kogane, son of Karre and Krolia," He said. Keith quickly jumped to his feet. "Leandro Vazquez, son of Sophia and Arzog," The other boy stood and slid his hood off. "You two will be partners in the battle to protect humanity from demons. Within your blood runs the blood of noble warriors, warriors who've sworn to protect humanity. Do you offer up your life to do the same, just as they have?"

"Yes," Keith and the boy said simultaneously. Kolivan stood and pointed to the doors leading to what was known as the ‘proving grounds'.

"Then go out and face the monster in the arena. Emerge victoriously and join our ranks. Fail and you shall be exiled," He said, voice unwavering. Keith and the boy nodded and hurried to the door.

The two practically tackled each other out the door. Keith looked over at the boy.

"Leandro, hu? I didn't know Arzog had any children," He said. The boy rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, he didn't exactly talk about me during the war," He said, holding his hand out. A brief flash of light and a bow appeared in his hand. "Not the prodigal son he wanted, apparently. Unlike the great son of Krolia, Cardinal of the dead," He snapped. "And the name's Lance, Akira," Keith turned to yell at him when a loud shriek filled the air. A large, rhino-like monster came barreling towards them. The two dodged out of the way just as it slammed into the side of the temple.

"You two must work together to defeat this beast," Came Kolivan's voice. "Victory or death,"

"Victory or death," Keith repeated, drawing his blade. He charged at the beast, only to be tossed aside like he weighed nothing. He slammed into Lance and the two flew back. Lance looked at him, angry.

"I don't think charging the monster that has horns is a bright idea," He said.

"Shut up. You got any bright ideas?" He asked. Lance opened his mouth only for the two of them to be scooped up and tossed by the monster again. They landed on the ground hard. Lance sat up with a groan as Keith lifted his head.

"We're gonna have to fight him from a distance," Lance said, climbing to his feet. Keith stood up, wobbling.

"I can't," He said. Lance shot him a look.

"That thing has a giant horn it can spear us with. You trying to ‘Leroy Jenkins' this thing isn't going to work," Keith glared at him.

"I mean I don't have any distance attacks!" He shouted. Lance suddenly tackled him just as the monster charged pass them. Lance looked at him, skeptical.

"Nothing to work at a distance?" He asked. Keith shook his head, causing Lance to groan. "Shit," Keith looked around.

"We need to get to higher ground and come up with something," He said. Lance nodded and the two took off towards a tall tree.

As soon as they scaled it, the beast slammed into the tree, causing it to shake. Lance and Keith latched onto it.

"Doesn't this thing have a home to go to or something?" Lance asked as it hit the tree again. Keith looked over at his sword, which began to faintly glow red. He looked up at Lance.

"What's your demonic power?" He asked. Lance raised an eyebrow, making Keith roll his eyes. "You're a cambion like me, right? What's your demonic power?"

"Ice," He said. "You?"

"Fire," Keith answered. Lance's face lit up.

"I maybe might have an idea,"

"Maybe might?" Keith questioned, making Lance roll his eyes this time.

"Yes, maybe might!" He snapped. Keith made a motion for him to continue. "If I can get a head on shot with one of my arrows, I can freeze it. Then, you can flame up your sword and split it in half. Maybe. Probably," Lance looked over at Keith. "That's the best plan I could come up with at the moment," Keith looked down at the monster.

"It's good except for one flaw," Keith glanced over at Lance. "How in the hell are we going to line up a head-on shot with that thing?" Lance frowned.

"I said maybe might have an idea. I never said it was a perfect idea," He said as the monster slammed into the tree. They both heard the sound of wood snapping and breaking. The two jumped into opposite trees just as the tree began to fall. Keith looked up at Lance.

"I'll distract him," He called. Lance raised an eyebrow.

"What?!"

"I'll get him to chase me, and you line up a shot to freeze it," Keith said. Lance gave him a skeptical look.

"That's worse than my idea,"

"Any better ideas?" Keith snapped. Lance glanced down at the demon, then at Keith.

"When I say duck, duck. If I hit you you'll turn to ice and shatter," Lance warned. Keith nodded and jumped from the tree.

He tumbled to the ground just as the demon slammed into Lance's tree.

"HEY YOU UGLY SON OF A BITCH!" He shouted, drawing his blade. The monster turned to him and scraped at the ground. "COME AND GET ME!" With a taunt, Keith took off, zig-zagging in and out of the trees. The monster stayed close behind.

"Bring him back to the temple!" Came Lance's voice. Keith doubled around, barely dodging another charge from it as he raced back to the temple gates.

In the center stood Lance, bow drawn taught with a single white arrow in its string. He took a deep breath as he watched Keith and the monster come into view.

"Hit the deck!" He shouted. Keith slid, knees scraping against the ground as his upper body went back into a back bend. The white arrow whizzed by and hit the monster between the eyes. It shuffled backward, and as it tried to take another step forward it began to become encased in ice, starting from the spot the arrow hit. Just as it reached them, it stopped in its tracks, frozen. Keith gripped his sword with both hands, flames engulfing the blade. He sliced down, a wave of fire cutting through the ice. After a moment, it shattered, leaving chunks of ice and monster in its wake. Lance slapped Keith's shoulder in celebration.

"We did it!" He said, smiling. Keith returned the gesture.

"Hell yeah, we did!" He agreed. The two high-fived each other as cheers began to ring out. Kolivan came out of the temple, a smile on his face.

"Well done you two," He said. "You've proven yourself worthy additions," Lance leaned on Keith, still smiling.

"Like there was any doubt," He said. Keith rolled his eyes, though he was smiling too.

"So, does that mean…?" Keith prompted. Kolivan nodded.

"From this moment on, the two of you will be Vanatores, fighting in the war against demons," Kolivan said. The two smiled bigger. "Now, as you two are partners now, it will be imperative you two stay in contact. I've talked it over with your parents, and you will both be attending Silver Oak High School starting tomorrow," Lance and Keith raised their eyebrows.

"Isn't that the fancy private school?" Lance asked. Kolivan nodded.

"It is. And before you ask, your tuition is paid, as is Akira's," Kolivan looked over at Keith. "I hope you enjoy your first taste of an actual school," Kolivan said as he turned away. Lance looked over at Keith.

"What's that about?" He asked.

"I've been homeschooled all my life," Keith said, shrugging. Lance smiled and threw his arm around Keith's shoulders.

"That's fine. I'll show you how to blend in!" He said, smiling. "Lance and Akira, Vanatores-in-training!" He said. Keith playfully shoved him away.

"I know how to blend in! And it's Keith! Kolivan's the only one who calls me Akira," He said. Lance waved his hand in dismissal.

The two walked into the temple, chatting away until a woman ran up to Lance and scooped him into a bear hug. Lance managed to get his arms free to hug her back.

"Mama! I passed!" He cheered as Krolia came over to Keith. The woman began speaking quickly in a different language, making Lance laugh.

"I did it," Keith whispered as his mother ruffled his hair.

"I'm proud of you," she said. Keith looked up as Lance continued to talk with his mom. "Ready to go home?"

"Yeah,"

The two went home in silence, Keith’s blood still rushing from the fight. A part of him wished he had stayed behind, but his dad was probably worried and he really wanted to just get home. As the two parked the car, Karre was already standing at the doorway.

“How’d it go?” He asked though Keith could tell there was worry in his voice.

“He passed,” Krolia said, walking up to her husband and kissing his cheek. Karre smiled wide and ruffled Keith’s hair as he came up the steps.

“That’s my boy!” He said, wrapping him into a hug as well. “I knew you’d pass, no problem!”

“You didn’t sound so sure this morning,” Keith teased. Karre waved him off.

“I had faith. I’d knew you do it,” The three walked inside, Krolia locking the door behind them. “So, how’s your partner?” Keith shrugged.

“He’s alright. A bit loud but alright,” Karre smiled.

“Aw, our little man made a friend dear!” He cooed, making Keith squawk and Krolia laugh.

Keith barely slept that night, too excited from the days' events. He had killed his first demon, met his partner, and was going to be going to school in the morning. He finally managed to doze off just after two in the morning.

Karre woke him in the morning. Keith jumped out of bed and put on his uniform, running downstairs for breakfast.

Keith shoveled his breakfast down and made it out the door in no time. He ran to the school gates, nearly out of breath. He grasped his knees, panting when a voice called out to him.

"Dude, did you run all the way here? Where the hell do you live?" Lance asked as he walked over to him. Keith stood up and stretched, popping his back.

"Not too far. Just a bit excited is all," He said. Lance snorted and grinned.

"You're such a nerd,"

"Shut up!" Lance held out his hand, using his other to pull out his cell phone.

"Hey, I planned to do this yesterday but you disappeared before I had a chance to. Give me your phone," He said. Keith cautiously handed Lance his phone, who typed away at it.

"Done!" He said, handing Keith his phone back. "I'm under ‘Pretty Boy Blue' and you're gonna be ‘Angry Red Dude'," Lance typed into his phone as the two began to walk towards the school doors. Keith frowned.

"I'm not always angry," Keith grumbled. Lance didn't look up.

"No, but your neutral face makes you look like a serial killer," He glanced around and stopped in his tracks. "Cute cheerleaders, three o'clock!" He whispered. Keith looked at him confused.

"What?" Lance rolled his eyes and grabbed Keith's chin, turning him to the cheerleading squad that was practicing a few feet away. "Oh,"

"Oh?" Lance looked at Keith offended. "A bunch of cute girls and you just go ‘oh'?" Keith shrugged. Lance raised an eyebrow as Keith looked away. "I understand you've got the brooding mystery teen aesthetic going on but that doesn't fly with me so spill whatever secret your hiding," Keith looked around the schoolyard, eyes stopping on what he assumed was one of the school sports team. Most of the boys were bigger than him, with more prominent muscles on their bodies. Keith pointed to them sheepishly.

"Boys," He said. Lance gave him a questioning look as the gears turned in his head. Once he realized what he meant, he let out an ‘oh' before throwing an arm around Keith's shoulder.

"Gotcha. You prefer ‘em big, tall, and beefy," He said, nodding. "Can't blame you there,"

"What?" Keith managed to squeak out. Lance grinned.

"I like my men the way I like my women," He said. Keith narrowed his eyes.

"If you finish that with ‘that's the joke I'm bi' I will kick you so hard in your shin it will break," Keith warned. Lance laughed and pulled him closer.

"Fine, I won't. Seriously though, I am so it doesn't bother me," He said. "So, any guy over there catch your eye?" Keith looked over at the boys in the group as one threw his head back in a laugh.

The boy had short black hair styled in an undercut and his shoulders were almost twice as broad as Keith's. Tucked under his arm was a helmet and his hands were donned with fingerless gloves. Did he come here on a bike?

Lance followed Keith's line of sight to the guy. He slapped Keith on the back and began to walk over to the group. Keith felt his face go red. What the hell was Lance doing?

Lance got the guy's attention and the two began chatting before Lance pointed to Keith. The boy looked up and smirked. From that angle, Keith could see a scar across his nose. Lance kept talking for a minute before he motioned over to Keith again. The boy nodded with whatever Lance had said, making him grin.

And then the two started walking towards Keith.

Keith felt himself tense up. What the absolute hell was Lance doing?

Lance walked over and nudged Keith.

"-Anyway, this is Keith," He said. The boy smiled and extended his hand. Keith took it, willing himself not to shake.

"Takashi Shirogane. Most people just call me Shiro," He said.

"Nice to meet you," He managed to choke out.

"Shiro's one of the senior helpers," Lance chimed in. "Helps the new students find their way around the school. I let him know you were new here," At that, Lance playfully slapped Keith on the shoulder and sauntered inside. Keith wanted to scream. You can't leave me like this! What am I supposed to say!?

"Keith?" Came Shiro's voice. "Are you okay?"

"Peachy," Keith squeaked out. He was going to murder Lance when this was over. Straight up murder him.

"Sorry about all of this," Shiro said, scratching the back of his neck. "Um, Lance said you were shy and wanted to say hi,"

"I am. I mean I did. I mean," Keith cleared his throat. "Hi,"

"Hi," Shiro repeated, laughing. "So, you're new here?" He asked.

"Yeah. I was… um… homeschooled. For a while. My whole life, actually. Did you come here on a bike?" Keith asked before his words became a garbled mess. Shiro laughed again.

"I did. Maybe I could take you for a ride sometime," He said as the bell rang, signaling students to go to class.

"Um, yeah. That'd… be really cool,"

Keith practically ran upstairs to his homeroom. He ran inside and saw Lance sitting by the window. Lance looked up and smiled, moving his bag from the desk behind him. Keith walked over to it and put his books down.

"So, how'd it go?" Lance teased. Keith gave a fake smile and slapped the back of his head. "Ow! That hurt you dick!"

"Why would you invite him over and then LEAVE ME ALONE?!" Keith asked. Lance rubbed the back of his head and gave Keith a pointed stare.

"So you could get his number?" Lance said. Keith gave him a confused look, making Lance slap his hand over his face. "Okay. Nope. You are now ‘Gay Disaster' in my phone. I'm going to have to play matchmaker. Oh, my God..." He groaned, pulling out his phone.

"I'm not a gay disaster..." Lance gave him another pointed look.

"Did you get his number?"

"No,"

"Gay disaster," Lance slid his phone back into his pocket as the teacher walked into the classroom. "Cheer up. I saved you the anime seat,"

The day droned on with a pleasant monotony. The final bell rang and Keith gathered his things and walked outside. As he walked through the front gates he heard an engine rev. He turned to see Shiro sitting on a rather sleek looking motorcycle.

"Whoa..." He whispered, walking over to the bike.

"It's pretty sweet," Shiro said, flashing him a shy grin. "I built it myself,"

"You built this?!" Keith exclaimed.

"It's no big deal," Shiro said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Need a lift home?"

Just as Keith was about to respond, his phone went off. He looked down at the messages, a new one from Lance flashing.

Emergency. Meet me behind the school NOW.

Keith frowned down at his phone.

"Um… can we take a rain check on that?" He asked. Shiro chuckled but nodded. He quickly grabbed Keith's phone and pushed a few buttons before handing it back.

"I'll text you later then?" He asked. Keith nodded as Shiro slipped his helmet on and drove off. Keith puffed out his cheeks and walked back to the school.

He made it to the back part of the school, where the soccer field mended into the surrounding forest. Lance stood at the edge, peering inside suspiciously.

"I almost had a ride from Shiro, there better be something there," Keith snapped. Lance didn't move his eyes from the forest.

"First off, way too soon to be at second base. Secondly, I saw something that looks distinctly demon-ish in here," Keith felt his face heat up.

"He was going to give me a ride on his bike! Get your mind out of the gutter!" Keith shouted. Lance hushed him.

That was when he noticed Lance's eyes had a faint glow to them, almost like the irises were made from crystal.

"Are you searching with hell eyes?" He asked. Lance shrugged.

"Well human eyes didn't see shit," He said. "I caught a glimpse of it. It looked big, whatever it was," Keith thought for a moment before looking around. He tapped Lance's shoulder.

"Keep watch. I'll check," Lance watched as Keith pulled up his hood and took a deep breath. His features relaxed as his ears began to meld and mold into the side of his skull. Thick tufts of black fur sprouted from the top of his head. He wiggled them around and Lance realized they were ears.

"How the singular fuck can you do that?" He asked. Keith shrugged, keeping his hood up and away from his ears.

"I've always been able to. Now hush," Keith leaned forward and focused his ears to the forest. It was uncomfortably quiet inside, no animals making any sort of sound.

Then he heard something large let out a noise that sent him stumbling backward. Lance looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

"You okay?" He asked. Keith nodded, ears going back to normal.

"That… is big..." Lance glanced around.

"What should we do?" Keith thought a moment before grabbing his bag.

"Kill it," He said. Lance flailed his arms.

"What?!" He squawked. Keith pulled out his sword and darted into the forest, Lance close behind. "Do you want me to tell you why this is a horrible idea?!" Keith didn't answer as Lance rummaged through his bag and pulled out a silver dagger. "That thing looked huge, Keith," Keith ignored him and continued deeper into the forest.

The two arrived at a clearing, and the stench of something foul began to permeate the air. Lance looked over at Keith, transforming the dagger into a bow.

"This feels like a trap," He whispered. Before Keith could respond, a loud shriek rang out and Keith was thrown forward.

Keith went soaring through the air, back colliding with a large tree in a sickening crack. Lance slammed into the tree next to him in a similar fashion, the beast letting out another loud roar. Lance looked over at Keith, who gripped his side as he sat up and then turned his attention to the demon.

It was like the one they had fought yesterday, but bigger and more aggressive. He heard Keith curse beside him.

"It's ice-based," He groaned. Lance glanced at the hoofed feet that were scraping the ground. Sure enough, small flakes of ice were discharged as it did. That meant Lance couldn't freeze this one.

That was bad.

"We aren't going to be able to stop it," Lance mumbled as Keith held up his sword. It split into dual swords that he readied.

"I'm not going down without a fight," Keith said. Lance nodded and readied his bow.

"I'm right behind you,"

The demon charged forward with a scream.

A large flash of lightning went overhead and struck the ground in front of them. In its place stood a large, black lion. Before the demon could stop, the lion lunged and latched its mouth around its neck. The demon struggled to get loose for a second before a disgusting crunch echoed throughout the forest. The demon fell to the ground dead, head severed at the neck. The lion turned, black demon blood oozing from its jaw.

Keith came back to his senses and straightened his back.

"...What the hell is that?" He asked. Lance shrugged, copying his stance. He aimed his bow at the lion's head.

"Friend or foe?!" He asked. The lion didn't move for a moment.

And then it started laughing. The lion licked its lips and began to slowly shift as it spoke, voice becoming more human-like.

"You two are pretty shit Vanatores," It said.

"We're in training!" Keith snapped. The lion laughed again as it finished transforming into a human. Tall, broad shoulders, scar across the nose, black hair with a white part in the front-

"Shiro?!" Lance and Keith both shouted. Shiro laughed again, running a hand through his hair as he did, mouth still covered in black blood.

"You must have just started your training if you couldn't sense me before this," He teased. "I wasn't hiding my scent,"

"...I can't smell things," Lance grumbled, crossing his arms. Keith mimicked his action.

"I haven't learned how yet," Shiro snickered, making Keith grind his teeth. "What's a demon doing parading around at a high school anyway?!" Shiro wrinkled his nose.

"That's none of your business. And it's daemon, not a demon," Keith gave him a skeptical look.

"So you're a part of the Blade?" Lance asked. Shiro shook his head.

"Not every daemon belongs to the Blade," He corrected.

"The trustworthy ones do," Keith added. "Do they at least know you're here?"

"Why would I tell them?" He asked. "Contrary to what they told you, they aren't in control of this area. No one is," Lance snorted.

"So if we told them you were here?" Keith saw Shiro tense up for a split second before relaxing again.

"I'm not doing anything wrong. As a matter of fact, I saved both of you. Ergo, you two owe me," Lance opened his mouth to argue, but quickly shut it.

"So what's the price?" He asked.

"The Blade doesn't know I'm here and I'd like to keep it that way," He said.

"Fine," Keith said. "We won't say anything," Keith turned to Lance. "Let's just go home," Lance looked over at Shiro before throwing his arm over Keith's shoulder.

"Yeah, let's go,"

The two walked home without another word. Keith went inside and sat on his bed, tossing his shirt aside to check himself for bruises. He had a rather nasty one on his side. That would be hard to hide from his mom when they sparred, but he could deal. He slipped his shirt back on and stood up.

His phone pinged. He looked over at it, a message from Lance popping up.

Make it home okay?

Yeah, you?

Yeah. Mom''ll have a fit if she sees these bruises though. At that, Keith laughed.

So will mine.

LOL. Keith could practically hear his laughter. I've gotta go help with dinner. See you in the morning. Keith sat his phone down and stretched. Dinner sounded really good right now.

His phone pinged before he could stand up. The name ‘Black Lion' flashed on his screen. Black lion…?

Did you make it home okay? They texted. Keith thought a moment before going red.

Shiro?!

Yes? Who else would it be? Keith wanted to scream.

Why are you texting me?!

To see if you made it home okay? Did that demon hit your head too hard? Keith sighed and rubbed his face.

I mean why are you texting me now? After the whole… thing. There was a long pause before Shiro texted back.

I don't know what The Blade has told you or Lance about Daemons outside their group but I promise you I'm not a bad guy. I wouldn't have saved you and Lance if I was. I'd text Lance but I don't have his number.

He's fine. I'm fine too. Keith thought for a moment. Thank you. For saving us.

Don't mention it. Keith snorted. Just… next time one of you senses a big demon like that give me a heads up. If I hadn't heard it scream when I did I wouldn't have made it in time.

Are you going to be a guardian demon?

YES! I'm your fairy God demon! Keith did laugh at that.

"What's so funny?" Came Karre's voice. Keith turned to see his dad in his doorway. Keith cleared his throat.

"Lance and I were just texting about school," Keith said. "Lance tried to hook me up with an older student and that didn't go over well," Karre smiled.

"There's always tomorrow," He said. "Come downstairs. Dinner's ready," He turned and walked away. Keith looked down at his phone and smiled.

I'm going to eat dinner. Talk to you later? He sat his phone down and walked downstairs just as it pinged back.

I'll be here all night firecracker.

Chapter Text

“-And I’m pretty sure he’s actually a demon,” Lance finished as he and Keith stepped onto the school grounds. Keith snorted as he adjusted his bag.

“Just because a teacher doesn’t like you doesn’t mean they’re a demon,” Keith said. He glanced to the side and saw Shiro throw his head back in a laugh. It had been a week since the start of school, and Shiro hadn’t come up to talk to Lance or Keith since then. Lance didn’t seem to mind, as he didn’t trust Shiro. Keith, on the other hand, had been texting him after school. And, well, he considered him a friend.

“Hey gay disaster, you still listening?” Lance asked. Keith jumped and looked at him, narrowing his eyes and blushing.

“Yes,” Keith snapped. Lance gave him a skeptical look.

“So you’re attracted to big buff dudes who may or may not be bad guys. I’ll file that away for when I have to set you up on a date with someone,” Lance said as the two walked into their first period. Keith plopped into his chair and scowled.

“I don’t need a date,”

“You either need a long term boyfriend or to get laid, your choice,” Keith’s face went red again.

“Stop talking like that!” He snapped as the teacher walked in. Lance laughed as Keith kicked the back of his chair.

The teacher stood at the front of the classroom and cleared his throat.

“Class, we will be having a new student join us today,” he said. In walked a girl with bouncy white curls and skin dark enough to rival Lance’s. Keith could hear Lance catch his breath and fought back a smirk. “Please, introduce yourself to the rest of the class,” The girl bowed to the teacher then turned to the class, which was when Keith noticed the pink tint in her hair.

“I am Allura Altea,” She bowed.

The teacher motioned to the empty desk next to Lance, and Allura made her way over to it. She sat down and looked over at Lance, smiling.

“Hi,” Lance swooned. She giggled. Keith felt something in the air, something decidedly off, but not necessarily bad. “So, just move to town?” Lance asked.

“I did,” Allura said. “My family wanted a change of scenery,” Keith felt his phone vibrate. He opened it and looked at the message.

From: Black Lion

Roof. Now.

“I have to use the restroom,” Keith interjected as Allura and Lance began to chat away. He made his way to the roof of the school where Shiro was leaning against the railing.

“There’s a storm heading in from the south,” He said as Keith walked over.

“Did you just call me up here to tell me a storm as on it’s way?” Keith asked. Shiro shook his head and motioned towards the forest.

“Lots of demons are uneasy. Something’s riding with the storm. Something big,”

“Another lightning lion?” Keith asked. At that, Shiro chuckled and turned to him.

“I like you,” He said, rolling up his right sleeve. His arm began to turn black, and his nails began to lengthen to that of claws. “I lost my arm to a bigger demon two years ago,” Keith looked at the arm then at Shiro. “As my mom would have said ‘I got in over my head’ and when I tried to get out, I had to pay the price. He was hiding in the last big storm that rolled through here,”

“Think he’s coming back?” Shiro shook his head.

“Nah. It’s too soon. One of his men, however,” Shiro turned his attention back to the sky. “His men are stupid enough to come back. Might be able to return the favor,” Shiro looked over at Keith. “That’s not why I called you up here. You guys got a new student, right?” Keith gave him a skeptical look.

“Why? Did another demon sneak in?”

“Not a demon. She’s a witch. And I only know because I saw her doing magic,” Keith crossed his arms and thought a moment.

“Witches aren’t bad,” He said. Shiro nodded in agreement.

“They are not, but it’s always nice to know who’s what,” Keith looked up at Shiro.

“Why are you helping us?” He asked. Shiro raised an eyebrow.

“Would you rather I not?” Keith opened his mouth to respond when Shiro leaned in close, making him snap his mouth shut. “Or do you think I have ulterior motives?” Keith cleared his throat as his face began to turn red.

“Maybe,” He squeaked out. Shiro laughed.

“Not all demons are bad. And some may be looking for redemption,” Shiro pushed himself away from the railing, turning his arm back to match his skin and shoving his hands in his pocket. “If you and Lance take the forest route home be careful. I’d hate to have to save you two again,”

Keith went back to class, face still red. He sat behind Lance who gave him a confused look but didn’t ask anything. The two sat in silence until the bell for lunch, where Lance grabbed him and pulled him aside.

“Okay, what’s up?” He asked. “You’re being weird,”

“It’s nothing,”

“Bullshit,” Lance snorted. “Who texted you and what did they want?”

“… Shiro said the demons in the forest are uneasy...” Lance was quiet for a moment before he grabbed Keith’s face in his hands.

“Why are you still talking to Shiro?” He asked.

“He’s nice…?” Lance gave him a look that screamed of disappointment. “He also said Allura was a witch,” Lance opened his mouth, thought a moment, then shut it, looking defeated.

“That… makes sense, actually,” Lance grumbled. “Something seemed off,”

“I’m surprised you noticed. You were drooling a lot,” Keith said. Lance shot him a glare before crossing his arms and huffing.

“Anyway, demons are acting uneasy in the forest. Does Shiro know why?”

“He said a storm was heading this way,”

“Is he a weatherman now?”

“He does control lightning,” Lance shrugged.

“Alright, point. However,” Lance turned in the direction of the forest. “If the demons are uneasy it wouldn’t hurt to make sure none are close,”

Keith nodded and reached into his bag, pulling out his double blade and walking to the forest. Lance made a noise of shock and followed behind.

“Why are you okay with just pulling your weapon out like this?!” Lance snapped, keeping his voice down. “How do you plan on explaining that to someone?!” Keith shrugged and slipped into the forest, a disgruntled Lance close behind.

The two made their way through the forest, Keith using his sword to cut a path. After roughly twenty minutes, as Keith tried to raise his foot up, he found it stuck to the ground.

“Something wrong?” Lance asked, seeing Keith tug at his leg.

“I’m stuck,” He said. Lance looked down, grabbing Keith’s leg and pulling.

“Jesus, what did you step in, glue?” he asked as the two managed to pry Keith’s foot loose. They stumbled, Lance catching himself on a tree and Keith tumbling into an opening. Lance tried to raise up, only to realize his hand landed on something sticky, and now his hand was stuck to the tree. “Son of a bitch...”

“Is it sap?” Keith asked, standing up and brushing himself off.

“Not quite little flies,” Came a distorted woman’s voice from the trees.

Keith looked up as a creature came slinking out of the treetops. From the waist up was a woman, with long silver hair and sickly pale skin and below was the abdomen of a spider. As she came closer, Keith notice her face consisted of spider features, long mandibles in place of a mouth and four eyes dotting her face. She landed with a loud thud on the ground and made a clicking noise.

“Little flies should take heed not to wander into a widow’s nest,” She tsked, straightening her back and towering over Keith. Keith heard Lance curse from behind him. “Now that you’re here, I’ll be able to feed my children,”

“We were just on our way out though,” Keith said, taking a step backwards towards Lance. The woman slammed her two front legs on the ground.

“NO!” She screamed, causing the treetops to shake. “I’ve caught you little flies in my web and you will not leave!”

“Are you certain about that?” Came a familiar voice. The three looked at the opposite end of the clearing to see Allura sitting on a rock, filing her nails in disinterest.

“Allura?” Keith asked. Allura looked up at him and sighed.

“Never send a boy to do a lady’s job,” She mumbled, putting her file away and hopping off the rock. “Driders are pesky little beings. Leaving web and eggs everywhere. Very unsanitary,” Allura motioned behind her. “The egg problem was taken care of at least,”

At the mention of eggs, the Drider let out an ear piercing shriek as she charged at Allura, who gracefully jumped over her. She sauntered over to Lance and Keith.

“Boys,” She scoffed. She touched Lance’s stuck hand and with a strong pull his hand was free. “Drider webs are troublesome,”

“Tell me about it,” Keith grumbled. Lance glanced up and saw the Drider reemerge and charge for Allura.

“Look out!” Lance grabbed Allura and jumped out of the way, Keith dodging in the opposite direction.

“YOU KILLED MY CHILDREN!” The drider screamed, lunging for Lance and Allura again. Lance pulled out his bow and fired a quick shot before rolling to the side. The Drider tumbled forward, still shrieking.

“Keith, are you alright?” Allura asked as she helped Lance up. Before Keith could respond, the Drider let out another scream and charged at Keith, who latched onto a tree and ran out on the far end of the branch.

“I’LL KILL ALL OF YOU!” The Drider screamed before launching herself at the tree. Lance aimed his bow and fired, missing the Drider by mere inches. She turned her attention to him and let out a loud hiss.

“Maybe build your nest away from civilization next time,” Lance snapped, aiming his bow again. The Drider lunged at him, dodging his arrow and pinning him to the tree with her arms.

“I’m going to eat your insides!” She screamed before suddenly being thrown back. Allura stood beside Lance, holding a large fan, eyes glowing white.

“I’m getting tired of you,” Allura scoffed. She raised her fan and slashed it through the air, a large gush of wind cutting through the Drider and splitting it in half. Allura huffed and pushed a stray hair from her face.

“That as awesome,” Lance said as Keith jumped down beside him. Allura turned to him, smiling.

“Wind manipulation is my specialty,” She offered her hand to them, palm-side down. “Now that we’re out here I can give you a proper introduction. I am Allura, daughter of the matriarch and patriarch of the Altea Coven. Charmed,” Lance took her hand and kissed the top of it.

“Leandro Vasquez, son of Azrog and Sophia Vasquez, at your service,” Keith folded his arms over his chest.

“Keith. Son of Krolia and Karre,”

“The famed Blade General Krolia?” Allura asked. Keith nodded. Allura immediately moved in front of him.

“Is she still part of the Blade?”

“Retired,” Keith said. “Has been since I was born,”

“Shame,” Allura tsked. “Krolia was one of the strongest warriors,” Allura brushed off her skirt and turned towards the school. “The Principle’s going to throw a fit if we’re late,”

“It’s fine,” Keith moved pass her and started making his way to the school. “I know a few back ways in,”

The three managed to sneak back into school and finish out the rest of the day without incident, although Shiro gave Keith a skeptical look as he walked pass him in the hallway. On the way out of school, Lance pulled Keith over to the side.

“Something’s up at the park,” He said. Keith raised an eyebrow. “I heard kids talking about seeing something there. Think we should check it out?”

“It does sound suspicious,” Keith agreed. “...Should we tell-”

“If you say Shiro I swear by the powers that be I will smack you,”

“I was gonna say Kolivan,” Keith huffed. Lance shrugged.

“I say we do recon first and see if there’s anything,” Keith thought for a moment then nodded.

“That’s true. Let’s go,”

The two made their way over to the park. Keith glanced as Lance as they walked along the path.

“So what are people supposed to be seeing here?” He asked. Lance looked up ahead at the large bridge.

“A troll,” Keith gave him a pointed look.

“… A troll?” Keith asked as they approached the bridge. “...Why am I getting a feeling you’re making stuff up?” Lance looked over at Keith, who stopped at the foot of the bridge.

“I would never-” Lance began as Keith put his hands on his hips.

“Lance-”

“It’s a friend, okay?” Lance said. Keith rolled his eyes. “He’s an earth daemon and he… sorta… got stuck under the bridge this morning...” Keith stared at him for a moment.

“...How?”

“His glamor ran out, and his moms are worried and he’s scared and we need to figure out a way to get him home. Please,” Keith let out a small huff before walking over to the edge of the bridge. Lance followed him as they walked down to the underside.

“He’s under here?” Keith asked.

“He was when he texted me,” Lance cupped his hands to his mouth. “Hey Hunk? You still here buddy?”

What appeared to be a rock started to move. A tall figure stood up and turned to them with bright yellow eyes.

“Lance?” Came a scared voice. Lance let out a sigh.

“Yeah it’s me dude. This is Keith,” Lance walked over to the figure, which sat back down. Keith followed behind Lance.

The figure, Hunk, was easily twice the size of Lance with dark gray splotches dotting his skin. His bottom jaw had two large tusk jutting out of it, and pointed ears stuck out of a mop of dark brown hair.

“Hello,” He said quietly. “You’re Keith, right?” Keith nodded. “I’m Hunk Garret. It’s nice to meet you,”

“Hunk and I went to the same school and became friends,” Lance said, leaning against him. Hunk playfully thumped his side.

“And you were a pest,”

“You still wanted to be friends with me,” Lance pointed out. “How did you get stuck here?” Hunk flicked a few pebbles on the ground.

“There’s a field of daisies nearby and I wanted to give one to Shay...” He said, refusing to meet Lance’s eyes. “I didn’t re-due my glamor because I was going to be quick but it… ran out faster then I thought it would...” Keith and Lance both fought back a chuckle.

“Me and Keith will get you home, don’t worry,” Lance walked to the other side of the bridge and poked his head out. Hunk looked up at Keith.

“My moms are gonna kill me for scaring them like this,” Keith patted his head.

“I’m sure they’ll just be glad you’re home,”

“Good news, we have a straight shot to the forest. Bad news, Hunk doesn’t live near the forest,” Lance said.

“I do,” Keith said. “If we can get him to my house we can call his moms to come and get him,” Hunk perked up.

“Your parents wouldn’t mind?” He asked. “I don’t want to be any trouble,” Keith shook his head.

“They won’t mind,” Hunk stood up, minding the bridge.

“Let’s go!”

The three darted from under the bridge to the trees as fast as they could. Once they were inside a ways, Keith listened for anyone following them. After a moment, he turned to the others.

“We made it. No one saw us,” He said. Hunk let out a loud sigh of relief.

“Thank goodness,” He straightened up. “Okay, so which way is your house?” Keith motioned to the right and the three began walking through the forest.

“Are you sure your parents won’t mind?” Hunk asked. Keith shrugged, cutting his way through the forest.

“Dad’s probably still at the shop and mom’s pretty laid back these days,” Keith went to step forward, and jerked to a stop in place. “Oh no,”

“Oh no what?” Lance asked, stepping behind him. The three glanced at their feet to see the ground coated in white silk. “Oh no,” Lance parroted.

A familiar shriek came from above. Down dropped a creature similar to the one at the school, only much, much bigger, with dark red hair and sickly black skin.

“You are the flies that killed my sister,” She hissed, swaying her large body. The three struggled to get their feet unstuck. “I am not like her. I will not let my meal flee so easily,”

She lunged at Keith just as he got his foot loose. She tackled him and the two went backwards, her pinning him to a tree and growling. Lance fired an arrow at her back, but it didn’t seem to do much as she shrugged it off and tossed Keith aside.

“Can’t we just have a break?” Lance groaned as he got his foot loose and dodged to the side as the drider slammed into the tree next to him. Hunk got himself loose and stood beside Lance.

“I will catch you little flies!” She shouted, charging at them again. Keith ran to her side, double blade drawn. She clamped her mouth around the blade and bit down, causing the blade to shatter before tossing Keith to the side again. Before he could collide with anything, an earth wall shot up and caught him, bringing him back to his feet. He glanced at Hunk, who had his hands on the ground.

“This is going to end badly, isn’t it?” Lance asked. Keith shook his head, holding his broken blade.

“We just need a new idea,” At that, Hunk perked up. He seemed to start shoving his weight into the ground. Around the Drider’s legs, hand-like rocks shot up and grabbed her, struggling to hold her in place.

“I can’t hold her for long so think of something please!” He said. Keith and Lance looked at each other before nodded. Keith held the hilt out at a fire swirled up his arm before coming to a point like a blade while Lance transformed his bow into a long silver dagger with cold air drifting off the end. They ran at her together, swinging their blades in opposite directions. After a second, the Drider’s body went limp and split, each section tumbling in different directions. Hunk made a retching sound as Lance and Keith looked over each other before grinning.

“Another score the duo!” Lance smiled, reaching his fist out. Keith bumped it, still grinning.

“Yeah,” He looked down at his blade, frowning as Hunk walked up behind him.

“I’m sorry about your blade dude,” Lance said. Keith let out a sigh.

“I don’t know if dad will even fix it...” Hunk thought for a moment before snapping his fingers.

“I know someone who could!” He said. Lance and Keith both turned to him with raised eyebrows. “My mom use to be a Venandi like, years and years ago. She keeps tabs on people just in case,” Hunk pulled out his phone, frowning at the black screen. “I can come get you guys after school tomorrow and I can introduce you to them. They’re pretty cool,” Keith put the broken hilt away.

“We’ll give it a shot. Let’s get you back to my house for now,”

The trio made it to Keith’s home just as his dad came outside.

“I was wondering where you were,” His dad said. “Everything okay?”

“Our friend needs help,” Keith said, motioning to Hunk who, despite his size, was trying to hide behind Lance. Karre nodded in understanding.

“I see. Come on in,”

Once inside, Krolia called Hunk’s moms who rushed over with a bottle of his glamor, thanking Keith and Lance for finding him. They offered to take Lance back home, and the four said goodbye, Lance saying he’d text Keith Hunk’s number when he got back. After they left, Keith turned to his parents, noticing they were a bit more dressed up then usual.

“It’s date night, isn’t it?” Keith asked. The two chuckled.

“We can stay home-” Karre began, but Keith waved his hand in dismissal.

“Nah, you two crazy kids go out and have fun. I’m going to shower and sleep,”

“Please eat something before you sleep,” Krolia said, kissing the top of Keith’s head.

“Maybe,” He teased as Karre ruffled his hair. The two left and Keith collapsed on the couch, half tempted to skip the shower and go straight to bed.

He finally convinced himself to get up and went upstairs, jumping into the shower as his phone pinged. He got cleaned and changed as his phone pinged again. Probably Lance wanting to talk. He thought as he picked up his phone. One message from Lance with a number, saying it’s Hunk and to add him as ‘Bad ass Earth Troll’ and another from Shiro.

Are you up?

Yes. Why? As if on cue, there was knocking at his window. He glanced over to see Shiro standing on his small balcony. He ran over to the french doors and opened them, giving Shiro a confused look.

“What are you doing here?” He asked. Shiro shrugged, resting his elbows on the railing.

“Came by for a visit,” He said. “Why? Worried mommy and daddy are going to catch you with a big bad demon?” Keith huffed.

“They’re out, and I’m not suppose to have visitors when they aren’t home,” Keith snapped. Which, wasn’t entirely a lie. He could have friends over so long as he asked first, but Shiro didn’t need to know that.

“Aren’t you a good boy?” Shiro cooed, pushing himself off the rails to stand in front of Keith. “You wanna let me in then?” Keith clutched the door frame and frowned.

“Mom would be able to smell you in the house...” He mumbled. Shiro crossed his arms over his chest and pursed his lips in thought. His eyes lit up and a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. He grabbed Keith’s arm and dragged him over to the edge of the balcony.

“Come on then,” Keith flailed as they made it to the railing.

“Come on where?” He asked. Instead of answering, Shiro let go and leapt from the edge, landing on the ground with a soft thud. “Shiro!”

“Come on! I wanna show you something!” He called back. Keith let out another huff before taking a few steps back and running, leaping over the edge and landing by Shiro. Shiro grabbed his arm and dragged him to the side of the house, where a familiar black bike was parked.

“You rode here?” Keith asked. Shiro shrugged and got on the bike, handing his helmet to Keith, who gave him a confused look.

“I promised you a ride, remember? Come on, I’ll make sure you’re home before your parents,” He coerced. Keith took the helmet and fastened it on, sitting behind Shiro. “Hold on tight, okay?” Shiro revved the bike and took off.

Keith clinged to Shiro’s waste tightly as they drove down the rode, turning from the main streets to the roads leading out to the shores. Shiro kept driving, going up a spiraling hill until they reached an overlook, secluded all by itself. Shiro threw down the kickstand and nudged Keith.

“You can let go firecracker, we’re here,” He said. Keith stood up with him and took the helmet off, sitting it on the bike. The walked to the edge and sat down, staring off into the ocean. “So, you have an eventful walk home?”

“Something like that,” Keith said, eyes still staring at the water. “Nothing we couldn’t handle,” Shiro let out a snort in response.

“Famous last words,”

“I’m still here, aren’t I?” Keith asked. Shiro looked at him and grinned.

“That’s because you’re made of sturdier stuff then most people,” Shiro said, looking out on the ocean. “...My mom use to love the ocean...” Keith looked at him with a questioning gaze. Shiro glanced over, then looked up at the sky. “She liked the sky more,” Keith looked up. The sun had set, and millions of stars dotted the sky. Keith scanned the sky for a minute before pointing up at it.

“That’s Pegasus,” He said. Shiro looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Pegasus?”

“The constellation,” Keith said. “It’s there. It’s from the Perseus family, and it’s brightest star is called Enif,” Keith looked over at Shiro, who was smiling. “What?”

“How do you know so much about stars?”

“I like stars,” Keith shrugged. Shiro looked up at the sky.

“Andromeda’s suppose to be to the north of it, right?” Keith nodded and pointed at a different group of stars.

“Andromeda contains both the Andromeda galaxy and the dwarf elliptical galaxies Messier 32 and Messier 110,” Keith tilted his head back a bit, moving his finger up a bit as he did. “And Cassiopeia’s to the north of it,” Keith kept his eyes locked on the sky. “I wanted to go to the stars when I was younger. I wanted to build a rocket ship and fly to the stars,” Shiro looked from the sky to Keith.

“You still could, you know,” Keith shrugged his shoulders.

“Maybe one day. Earth needs me right now,” Shiro smiled at that. Keith glanced at him. “What?” Shiro chuckled and shook his head.

“It’s nothing,” He laughed. The two sat in silence for a while before Shiro cleared his throat. “I should get you back home before it gets too late,” Keith stood up and dusted off his pants, nodding.

The two drove back, Shiro managing to sneak Keith back in and leave just before Karre’s car pulled into the driveway. Keith flopped on his bed and pulled the blankets over him, scrolling through his phone. Lance texted You awake? A few minutes ago, and an unknown number (Hunk’s, if he had to guess) said they’d meet him and Lance outside the gates after school. He punched in Hunk’s number under ‘Hunk’ and yawned. He scrolled back up to Shiro’s text, tapping the message button. He bit his lip before letting out a breath and typing.

That was nice. He hit send and waited. A few seconds later, three dots appeared.

It was. We should do it again sometime. Keith felt his heart leap to his throat.

I would like that .

Me too.

I’m tired. See you tomorrow?

Yeah, same. Sleep tight firecracker.