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The First Book of Urizen

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It’s not uncommon for demons to be prowling the streets of the Residential Area. Hell, if it were any less common then his pizza would never get paid for and Trish and Lady would be constantly coming by to kick his ass for something or another.

No, demons prowling are a sad fact of life for all of the humans foolish enough to not be afraid of the dark. They’re always there, just waiting in every dark corner for their next meal. There’s something different about tonight though, and they all know it. Dante can feel it and taste it in the air. Something big has gone down, something that has rattled the Underworld denizens in the city, pushing them into a near fury. There was a giant surge of demonic power that erupted from the city a few hours ago. He doesn’t doubt that it has something to do with the now missing Yamato and that’s enough to make even Dante’s fingers itch to find something to put a bullet in.

Nero’s in the hospital according to the frantic call that Kyrie and some woman named Nico gave him earlier. His right arm is gone, having somehow been ripped off earlier today. Kyrie says that everything happened so fast. This Nico woman had just left the garage for less than two minutes before Nero was shouting for Kyrie to stay inside and then they heard a crash and Nero crying out in agony. They found him a little while later, when they determined that it was safe enough to enter the garage laying in a pool of his own blood.

“You burned it all right?” Dante asked the young woman over the phone when she’d called to inform him.

“Just like you showed.” Kyrie had replied. “All of it is gone.”

Even just 1/4th of the Sparda’s bloodline inside Nero made having his blood laying around a dangerous and powerful treat for any lurkers to smell and come after. If human blood could make monstrosities out of monsters, then the blood of a descendent of Sparda could make so much worse. Didn’t they all learn that in Fortuna with the creation of the ‘Savior’?

“Keep me up to date.” Dante had told her.

“Aren’t you going to come check in on him?”

“I will once I find whoever took his arm.”

That’s what has him out looking for trouble and finding it on each and every corner. The tang of Yamato’s power is still lingering in the air yet even Dante can’t feel wherever the sword and its user are now. They’re still in town, that’s for certain, but they haven’t used it past whatever that surge was earlier.

“Come Sparda-Son.” The demons smarter than the average run of the mill walking up and down the streets croon to him. “We can share it. Don’t you smell it? So sweet…ripe for the taking…we won’t be greedy…we’ll share it with you.”

“Sorry, I don’t share. Not with the likes of you.” Dante says as he strikes them down. He does wonder what they’re talking about. Trish would know…probably. It’s been a while since she’s been to the Underworld and her ‘contacts’ aren’t as up to date as they once were.

It takes a few hours before he stumbles over the ashes of a demon that he didn’t fell. It has him sending a text to Lady and Trish to see if they’re in town, but he gets negatives from both women. This wasn’t them, and it obviously wasn’t Nero. Who did it then? There are no other demon hunters that Dante’s aware of – no successful ones at least, and whoever did this was clearly successful.

He finds more of that, strange demons killed by an unknown aggressor. It takes a few times of seeing it before he realizes something. Whoever walked away from this, they weren’t the aggressor like he originally thought. These demons were hunting them. There’s open season out on someone and whoever they are, they’re giving back as good as they’re getting.

‘Don’t you smell it? So sweet…ripe for the taking.’ The demon’s words float back to the forefront of his mind. It makes Dante feel a little bad for whoever the poor bastard is that’s fallen on the demons radars. It’s around these times that Dante wishes that he could sense and feel what a full-fledged demon could. Maybe he could track whoever this was down and give them a job. Morrison’s been itching to turn Devil May Cry into a legitimate agency and with Nero down and some unknown demon running around with the Yamato…Dante might need a little help with crowd control.

He’s gets a visit from Morrison the next day. It’s not really the time to be taking on any clients with whatever it is that’s going on, but the promise of cash upfront isn’t something Dante can ignore. Cash upfront means one of two things, either it's a trap or it's desperation. There’s something that strikes Dante as not right the moment that the stranger steps into the building and lets the doors close behind him. He doesn’t look up from the book in his hands, his dark hair obscuring his face as Morrison drones on and on about something or another.

Whatever he is, he’s a strange dichotomy of power and powerlessness in human form wrapped in a corset and leather, the demonic tainted tattoos on his skin spreading almost greedily over every inch of skin from his torso up his neck and twisting down to each long finger.

He’s not a demon, that much Dante’s certain of – but he’s not fully human either.

There’s a soft tang of power in the air. A familiar tang that puts Dante completely on edge, yet it’s quiet in a way that it usually isn’t. Demonic power likes to let itself be known, and that’s doubly true for this power, and yet it’s almost as if the man in front of him is attempting to hide it. Like he’s trying to keep it from being recognized. It’s something that Dante’s never experienced before. He wouldn’t have ever thought it was possible to mute this power let alone that someone would even try to, and it makes something under his skin itch in a way that Dante hasn’t felt in a long time.

Well, a long time next to finding Nero. Other than that, there’s never really been another demonic presence that has made Dante’s devil want to come out and exert its superiority over another or just play.

Well…not for a very long time before Nero. Dante wasn’t surprised in the slightest that Nero triggered it. His father certainly did.

But this isn’t the rise for a fight. This is something different.  

‘Come Sparda-Son…Don’t you smell it? So sweet, ripe for the taking.’ In that moment, the demon’s words make sense in a way they didn’t before.

I guess you found me instead of me having to find you. Dante thinks to himself.

“I know that these aren’t your preferred sorts of jobs, but beggars can’t be choosers.” Morrison says and Dante tries to drag his attention back to the other man who is still talking. Dante hasn’t been listening to a single word he’s said this whole time. There must be a look on his face because Morrison looks up to the sky like he’s praying to a god he’s never believed in and he levels an exasperated look on Dante. “Try to keep him in one piece, okay?” Bodyguard? Makes sense. Dante very much doubts that this guy can go two city blocks without some demon desperate to get their claws – and probably other things just looking at him – into him. “I’ll call Trish and Lady and let them know that you’ll be out.” Dante makes a disgusted noise at that, but he doesn’t say anything as Morrison leaves, and the two men are finally alone.

“So, what’s your name?” Dante asks and the man takes a few steps forward. There’s a silver cane in his hands and from what Dante can see there are strange carvings in the metal. It’s clearly not as harmless as it might originally led someone to believe. Dante’s starting to feel that way about this man in many forms. Like a dangerous Venus fly trap, just waiting for its prey to underestimate the danger it’s walking into.

“’I have no name, I am but two days old’…” His voice is almost hypnotically dark and smooth. There’s something almost…amused, Dante would say about that sentence, and for a moment Dante isn’t certain how to take him. There’s a brief pause where ‘Two Days Old’ stops walking towards him and he closes the book in his hand like a performer playing a role. “Just kidding. You can call me V.”

“Okay ‘V’.” Dante plays along. “Why don’t you tell me everything about this ‘job’?”

“A powerful demon is about to resurrect, and we need your help, Dante.” V says and there’s a slight quality of mocking to the rhythmic tone of the words. It’s almost like he’s saying them just to poke fun at Dante, to get a rise out of him for reasons unknown.

It works.

“Now that’s a familiar tune.” Dante huffs out a laugh as he stands and moves over to the couch. “Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard that exact same line?”

“This is…special.” V replies to that.

“Special?” Dante tilts his head a little and motions for V to continue. “Okay, so what’s so special about this one?”

“This demon is your reason.” V says. “Your reason for fighting.” That makes the hairs on the back of Dante’s neck rise up even though he doubts that V has any idea what he’s talking about. There’s only one demon that can claim to be Dante’s ‘reason’ and it sure as hell isn’t any of the pathetic demons trying to claw their way through this town.

“Does this demon have a name?” Dante asks and he watches those full lips form the word as he says it.

“Vergil.”

__________

“Do you believe him?” Trish asks as she leans against his desk with her arms crossed. “I mean, it’s not common knowledge but it’s also not impossible to put two and two together if one knows that there are two Sparda descendants.”

“It makes sense Trish.” Dante says, running his hand through his hair. “It would explain why someone went after the Yamato. Fuck, it would explain why the Yamato let itself be taken.”

“You think Vergil took it?” Trish’s eyebrows go up. “That’s impossible. It would imply that Vergil was already walking amongst us. You would have felt him.”

“Maybe not Vergil himself, but an acolyte or someone doing his dirty work? Yamato answers to one person and one person only over all others. If Vergil has called for it…”

“And how would this ‘V’ know that?” Trish asks. “What role does he play in all this?”

“He wants my help preventing it.”

“And will you?” She gives him a look. “Prevent Vergil from returning I mean.”

“Vergil decided a long time ago that this world wasn’t big enough for the both of us. Something tells me he hasn’t changed his stance on that.” Dante replies. “As for ‘V’, I’m not sure what his role is in all of this. Not yet at least. He’s not human, I know that much but I’ll admit that I don’t know what he is.”

“What do you mean?”

“He…he’s hard to get a read on.” Dante says after a moment. “But he wants me to protect him. To go with him to the five points of this ‘resurrection’ and prevent it from taking hold in this world.”

“Why not just go fight the demon? If it is Vergil, I don’t think breaking a few demonic sigils around town is going to stop him. Not if he has the Yamato.”

“He doesn’t have all of it.” Dante says and Trish looks at him confused. “’V’ has a piece of it with him. Somehow.”

“What?”

“I could feel it. It’s a small one, but he’s carrying a shard of the Yamato. Vergil won’t be able to use the sword without reclaiming it.” Dante mimics Trish’s stance and crosses his arms. “Whoever ‘V’ is, he’s not telling everything. I don’t know if he was part of this group trying to bring Vergil back and he changed his mind and is now trying to stop it. I don’t know if he’s just stupid and found a piece of the Yamato and thought it would be wise to keep it and I don’t know if this whole thing could end up just being a trap meant to lure me in.” Good choice on bait though. Very good choice. “I do know that he’s somehow blocking the call of the shard. The demons can feel it, but they don’t know what they’re sensing. It’s all twisted up with his own demonic power.”

“Even if it is a trap, you have to go.”

“I know.” Dante sighs. “That’s what irritates me.” He walks towards her and lets his hands drop. “I need you to keep an eye on things here. See what you can find out. Either we verify what V is saying or we prove that he’s a traitor and take the shard back. Either way, I want to know.”

“I’ll get right on it.” Trish says with a nod as she gets up and leaves. Dante takes a moment and looks at the tickets on the desk. They’ll pass through Fortuna on this line…and Vergil coming back or not, Dante’s going to make them stop and check in on Nero. Hopefully they boy’s awake by then, but the lack of an update call from Kyrie lets Dante know that he’s hoping for too much.

There’s not much he can do tonight though. The demons outside are starting to circle around Devil May Cry. They’re sensing V’s presence has come into the building, but they’re also sensing the presence of a much more powerful entity residing inside as well. It should keep them out for the night at least, maybe not two nights but they’ll be gone in the morning. As funny as it is, as Dante goes around to check the windows, he feels it. He feels a hint of what he figures the scavengers outside can feel. They always were a lot more sensitive to demonic presences and for the first time Dante really feels it. It’s coming from the bedroom. Dante had made a big production of being a good host and had offered V the use of the only real sleeping quarters in the entire establishment.

V must have fallen asleep.

It’s not uncommon for power to leak during moments of complete vulnerability, sleep being one of those moments.

Dante sighs and heads to the room. He’ll need to put a few drops of blood on the windowsill to keep things from smelling the raven-haired man and attempting to get in to eat him. He pushes the door open as quietly as he possibly can and he inwardly cheers when the hinges don’t decide to declare a rebellion against him and scream the song of their people to anyone who will listen.

He steps into the room and starts to make his way to the window. He can’t help but stop and look at the man sleeping on the bed when he goes to walk past it.

V’s laying half on his side, the sheets falling dangerously low. There’s nothing but bare skin with those strange tattoos stretched across it. Dark hair fans out around his face and Dante watches his chest rise and fall with each breath he takes. In the moonlight cast from the window he’s ethereal. A dark-haired siren calling out to Dante and Dante didn’t even realize he’d taken a step closer until there’s a pull of demonic energy, like a strange summoning before a demon bird the size of a fucking vulture swoops down at him from the shadows of the room with a loud squawk.

“What do you think you’re doing big guy?” The bird snaps at him and Dante stares at it in surprise. That was certainly not what he was expecting. The bird flails out it’s wingspan in an obvious ‘get back’ shooing motion and all the noise wakes V up who snaps awake and shoots up like he’s ready for a fight. His eyes land on Dante and he looks unsure for a moment if he should defend himself or just ignore Dante’s presence.

“Did you need something Dante?” He asks, his fist clenching the sheets and looking like he’s struggling against the urge to tug them up like some uncertain virgin trying to maintain their virtue and between pretending that his nakedness doesn’t bother him in the slightest with his sudden audience.

…Maybe he’s starting to think of too many words that start with ‘V’ whenever he’s in this man’s presence. Besides, not like he’s seeing all the goods.

“Just making sure we don’t get any uninvited guests.” Dante says, walking over to the window and making a show to those green eyes watching him – and the weird demon bird familiar, is he a witch? That would possibly make sense – of pulling his finger up and biting down into it before smearing a drop of blood along the sill. “That’ll keep all those nasties out there who want themselves a helping of you al la mode, outside. You’re welcome.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’re a paragon of goodwill.” The bird snaps. “Keep on stepping, nothing to see here.” It shifts slightly and holds out its wings again but this time in a clear attempt to shield V from prying eyes.

“Griffon, it’s fine.” V says, obviously losing the battle with himself not to tug the sheets up a little bit more, to ‘Griffon’ and the bird huffs.

“Yeah, not really Shakespeare. You don’t know how tasty you smell right now and I don’t trust balls for brains within twenty feet of you.” Griffon tells him before it makes another shooing motion at Dante as it says ‘Out!’ and Dante holds up his hands in a mocking kind of surrender as he walks out of the room.

“Goodnight V.” Dante says as a goodbye.

“Goodnight Dante.” V’s voice says as he closes the door behind him.

This mission is shaping up to either be a strange one, or a supremely difficult one. Unfortunately, Dante just hasn’t figured out which one it is, but if there’s one thing he’s learned it’s don’t be distracted by the pretty bait before you know who is holding the hook it’s attached to.