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Ebony and Ivory

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Chapter One  

 

The Void was so cold and cloying.   

You awoke in its black embrace, wrapped in chill and embers. Breath settling in lungs like a heavy, heady fog. Your eyes opened, taking in the dull glow, the suspended debris, the lonely gaze of a whale carcass floating by. There was nothingness here in the Void, an empty feeling that expanded into the dark ness . Here you were alone, yet one with everything. A single voice calling into nothingness, a part of the chorus crying into the night. Your hand reached upwards—or was it down—as a chilled gasp escaped your pent-up lungs.  

Awaken, his voice did speak.   

You wouldn’t have awoken if “He” didn’t have a task for you. The mouthpiece of the Void, the forsaken man you sold your soul to. All those years ago. You could scarcely remember any time that wasn’t now. You sat up, body stiff and blood coursing fast through waking veins. You look at your hands, seeing the tone of your skin return. Your nails didn’t grow since you saw them last, a scar remained on your palm from...when did you get that scar? It belonged there, you knew that, but why?  

Shake the cobwebs from your frame.  

You stood, a cold, chilling wind passing over naked flesh. You were used to this cold by now, you did not shiver. The cold reminded you that you are alive. Your pale colored hair settled in the air, eyes now fully open, clarity returning. You knew what it was you had to do, and who you served. As the wind rushed past, you felt clothing settling on your frame. A blouse, waist hugging shorts, thigh highs. You preferred it like this. A feeling of normalcy followed, arms stretched over your head until joints pop ped and muscles groaned. Awake now, fully.   

Your soul is his to keep.  

You rolled your eyes at the whispering of the Void, rubbing them in the nest instant as you walked forward out of the dark cloud that had cradled you. Debris formed underneath you with each step, creating your path. This place had a flare for the over dramatic. Then again, so did the being that made its home here. At the very thought of him, the air in front of you shimmered and cracked, shards of dark crystals swirling and taking shape. No matter how hard you tried, you could never recall his face when you weren’t looking straight at it.  

He is of all things, songs whispered to cradles and bones gnawed by teeth.  

You sighed, staring at the one thing on him you remembered. His gaze, swallowed whole by darkness. Black eyes stared back from cold skin, and the man smiled.  

“You look well rested, Y/N,” He said in a smooth purr, walking in a slow circle around you.   

It was in your nature to wait until he prompted you to speak, hands clasped behind your back. You can't remember a time he ever laid his hands on you, always a few steps away. A distance, a reminder. He was a celestial being, something unknown and mysterious. More than the world and humanity itself. And you, born of mortal flesh and bone, made more by the Void’s whispering. You knew your place and your duties. You were just impatient to get to them.  

“How do you feel?” He hummed when your silence persisted, head tilted to the side. The Void rustled his hair—what color was it again?  

You shrugged, letting out a quiet yawn before replying.  

“I feel fine enough,” You felt no pain, just a little lethargic, “A bit hungry. Will the place you send me have places to eat?”  

He smiled—at least you think he did? And clasped his hands behind his back, “Aren’t you at least a slight bit curious of where you are going? And why?” He sounded amused at least.   

“I assumed you were going to inform me,” Was your dry reply, “As you always do.”  

He chuckled ; the sound carried on soft blowing winds. His laughter seemed to echo into eternity, finally sending a chill up your spine. You were reluctant to admit you were eager to set out—tasks meant time away from the Void, in sunlight and warmth, fresh air and food. With people not consumed by an ever-present torment. You had no idea how long you had slept, but then again time had no meaning here and each dimension visited traveled at its own pace.  

But you were sure he already knew that.   

His feet tapped on stone, and it appeared he was doing laps around you again. You stifled a sigh, impatience building but mouth unable to say anything. Let him go at his own pace, patience will be rewarded right? You tried to tell yourself as much. With each passing second your mind began to buzz anew at the prospect of seeing new faces, learning new things. A warm shower, the feeling of lather in your hair. You never realized how important the little things were until spending time in the Void—despite the time you spent sleeping, it still left its mark on you. You couldn’t wait to do simple things. A sip of tea, the warmth of a hug. Would you be able to hug people there?  

“I see you are as eager as ever,” The being before you hummed, his voice passing from one ear to another, “Perhaps I shouldn’t take up too much of your time?”  

You bit your tongue, remembering he could know everything as you knew it. Pushing down the buzzing energy, you replied as neutral as you could, "Being in your presence is always a gift, Master. Do not rush on my account.”  

He chuckled again, turning into a cloud of black crystal shards and shimmering back to your view. Taking form once more, he leveled his gaze on you. You saw his expression shift from amused to serious, at least from what you could recognize from him. All the years serving him had taught you well enough to notice his shifts in mood. How many years had it been again, since you took your first breath of cold air, since your soul was claimed in his name? The thought settled in your stomach like lead weights, a reminder of who you were. The taste of ice and metal settling on your tongue the more you inhaled the chilled air, each moment wasted could have been another moment free.  

The Void was both comfort and a curse, pain and relief. Claws on your spine and balm on your soul. You straightened your back, gaze meeting his as the its whispers settled around you. Duty first, fun later right?  

You should know by now your duties and what it is I expect of you, ” His tone was both flat and melodic, mingling together like nails on a chalkboard and windchimes. This was an order, and your body tensed immediately as you felt his energy seize you, “Something has tipped the balance, and it is your job to fix it. A blight, an impurity, a taint. It has tipped the scales of a dimension so far it threatens others.”  

If he is a mouthpiece, you are a puppet.  

He stepped closer to you, toe to toe now and just close enough you felt the chill of his breath. He smelled of salt and the ocean, of something dark and ancient and forbidden. You felt the black of your eyes swallow the irises, until your own eyes mimicked his. You were given an order to follow, it was now written in obsidian. The wind in the Void howled, louder and louder, until it was whipping against you like a hurricane. You felt as if you were beginning to fall, sight slipping away as the whispers and cries around you grew louder and louder, from all directions. Yet still above the chaos and noise you could feel his gaze, fixed on you. His voice was loud in your ear, yet still a whisper.  

“You will travel to Redgrave city, and you will fix what disaster they have wrought. Do not disappoint me."  

~~~  

Upon waking, nausea was your first companion.  

Disorientation and dizziness were close seconds. You were facing the sky, sounds around you muffled liked they were under water. Everything was like that at first, as if a haze of water was shielding your senses. Slowly, they began to rise as you blinked several times. You saw your hand, shielding your eyes from the sun, clouds drifting in and out of focus. It clicked with you a moment later—The sun! How long had it been since you felt its warmth, felt warmth at all? It had felt like ages despite you having no conception of the time you spent sleeping. Your senses returned, one by one as you sat up quickly—too quickly. Your stomach lurched a second later, a gag quickly swallowed and leaving an unpleasant taste in your mouth.   

Ugh, traveling from the Void to new locations was either a breeze or a nightmare. In this instance? A nightmare.   

You groaned aloud, rubbing both hands down your face as you put your head between your knees, willing the world to stop tilting. Physicality sucked sometimes. Though you found yourself enjoying what you could register through the discomfort of your settling body. The air? Comfortable. Back? Warmed from the sun. Ground hard and breeze so forgiving and. ..what was the hell was that smell? On that breeze was a stench that sent your stomach rolling again. You gagged a few more times, lifting your head with a heavy cough and wiping your mouth. What the hell was that? You registered sulf u r, ash, rot, and burning rubber. A cacophony of unpleasant things and very bad signals. Ash and sulfur usually meant demons, as did rot. As for burning rubber... you got your answer upon finally looking around.   

You were on a concrete roof of what used to be an office building, or at least you assumed. Upon shakily coming to your feet you were able to see it was half submerged in water...along with dozens upon dozens of other broken, shattered buildings. Debris, everywhere. It looked like parts of the Earth’s crust had been displaced, jutting up from the ground with buildings still attached in the distance. What in the name of the Void had happened here? Mass destruction met your every glance. You could see smoke billowing up in several locations, ash floating on a gentle breeze that seemed a bit strange in the chaos. You could hear what sounded like a car alarm in the distance, and you found yourself seeing a lot of...spikey brambles? Big spikey brambles. Huge vines, weaving in between the buildings and chaos and...  

What the fuck was that?  

You found your eyes hovering on a towering behemoth in the sky. What in the freshest of hells were you looking at? It reached into the clouds, tall as a skyscraper. Swirling tendrils curled into a ball into the sky, almost like the branches of a tree, glowing red in place and dusting the land in light clouds of ash. A mixture of brambles and thorn, it painted a strange picture amongst all the chaos. You put your hands to your face again, blinking over and over as you tried to get your bearings. There was so much to unpack her. Strange monster tree, strange monster brambles, mass destruction. This was clearly the cause of the imbalance , but you knew virtually no information at that moment to form a plan of any kind. The first step was to figure out what those things were, why they were there, and how to get rid of them. If you were lucky.  

“Fuck.” You muttered, disappointment filling you, “I somehow think I won't be getting a shower anytime soon.”  

Luckily there was zero people around to hear you mumbling to yourself. You had to get your bearings on being a normal person again. You tapped your feet on the ground, stretching your arms and testing your body. Felt strong enough, felt sturdy enough. Everything was in the right places. You let out a slow breath, concentrating on activating the energy of the Void your body possessed. Instantly, a burning sensation slithered along your palms, glowing light blue marks traveling through your veins like glowing whale oil. The ground beneath you crackled to life, tendrils of energy emerging and swirling in a deadly dance around your feet. You quickly deactivated the energy, feeling it settle back inside with a low hum of power. Everything in its place and all things as they should be.  

You were still sad about that shower though.  

 Stifling the disappointment, you stretched again, brain racing as you eyed the big, scary-looking tree in the distance. Most times you popped into a situation it was before everything had gone to hell. Whatever had happened to this place, “Redgrave city” was without foresight. You were put there with purpose, clearly there was something you were meant to find in this time, in this moment. Or maybe it was just the Deity playing his games. The thought had you sighing again, something you felt you would be doing a lot for this task. There was a lot of ground to cover, and you were unsure of where to start amongst all the bullshit.   

That was until you heard the sound of loud, deep snarls in the distance, mingled with the sound of a building collapsing.   

You immediately darted to the other side of the roof, griping a flag pole as your gaze searched the horizon. Almost immediately you saw something big, scary, and ugly in the distance. Oh, that was most certainly a demon. You could make out spikes and sharp teeth, horns and. ..a mouth on its stomach. This might as well be a thing, right? You made a visible face of disgust, watching its mighty jaws move and speak, but unable to see who it was speaking to, or make out what it was saying. That was a perfect place to start. You saw it jump down, out of view, and immediately pressed forward.  

The Void gave you the speed and agility you needed to grip the pole, using it for leverage to springboard off the side of the building over the water. The Void power activated immediately, blue tendrils shooting out to grip the next building before you could land, sending you forward faster with each bound. A smile spread across your face, elation filling you now that the nausea and disorientation were gone. The air felt so warm, rushing past your body with each leap—like soaring. The impact of your feet was dulled by magic, the sensation of running so satisfying after not doing so for a long time. You connected to the next building, tilting back and arching your body down to graze your fingers along the water's surface. It felt cool, so real under your fingertips. It was real. You let out a light laugh, turning into a shout of delight as the momentum took you skyward again.  

To be alive was a true gift, one you would not take for granted.  

With each movement energy sizzled through your limbs, electrifying and slightly painful. Pain was welcome, a reminder. As you moved you kept your eyes on the cathedral you saw the creature standing on earlier. The closer you got, the more its voice became clear. Guttural, warped, demonic. It was cursing at someone, the sounds immediately followed by the rumble of a crumbling building. You skidded to a halt along the edge of a closer piece of debris, suspended by tendrils as your eyes searched for the creature again. Near enough to make out what it was saying now, filled with frustration and rage. Upon further focus, you saw it again—it was inside the cathedral now. What was he swatting at? Zipping white hair, bursts of energy and metal scraping on metal...  

That looked like a human. It was.  

Or at least, they looked it, you didn’t want to assume. A humanoid figure, fighting with the demon much to your shock and immense relief. Thank the gods and their glory, you wouldn’t just be interacting with just monsters for this task. Whoever this guy was, he sure was zipping around fast. Fighting the demon, you could make out just that much. You heard his light laughter in the chaos, mingled with...taunting. He was taunting the creature, making it more and more mad as it destroyed yet another wall of the building. Fascination and excitement filled you, along with a pleasant sense of watching an action scene play out like a movie. You were impressed—The little human guy seemed to be holding his own quite well. He was fast, wielding what looked to be a sword and slashing the creature over and over as they tumbled out into a courtyard.  

You quickly and quietly leapt to the next building you could get attached to, peeking over the edge at the fight below with elated interest. You didn’t know what species this world had, but you were getting the feeling it was more than your garden variety humans. You were close now, hidden from sight but close enough to see the fight below with clarity. The man had short white hair, a cocky facial expression on a chiseled face. But more importantly, he had what looked to be a glowing metal arm on the right half of his body. He was using it to level this attack on the demon—who was a thousand times uglier up close. You ached for popcorn, watching the fight was certainly entertaining. The unfamiliar man grabbed the demon that must have been ten times bigger than he, whipping it around by its tail over and over before flinging it into a nearby building with a shout of elation.  

Well. This was definitely the place to start.  

Heart beating with excitement and fear, you slid down the side of the debris, unseen by the two fighting creatures. Your tendrils formed almost feathery paths on the water for you to walk on, taking you up so you could duck behind a nearby pile of broken concrete to quietly watch. The problem now was not getting attacked. Or at least seeing if this man was friendly. You lost count of how many times you had been attacked by those you were supposed to help—people jumped to conclusions a lot. Humans especially. You touched your hand to the concrete, peeking out lightly and pushing your hair over one shoulder. This fight was coming to an end, it would seem. You watched the creature fall into a building, sending it crumbling as wheezed and groaned.  

“I must not be defeated...in a place like this...!” He rasped, pulling himself slowly up again, “The fruit...is mine...! I will rule the Underworld, not him...!”  

Underworld? Him? You frowned, feeling like you were getting puzzle pieces, but all in the wrong order and zero clue to what the puzzle would form. 

You saw the white haired man raise a gun, pointing it at the creature to more than likely provide the killing blow. But something stopped him. A rush of air, and the sound of flapping wings. You gaze darted up to see a dark blue, demonic bird swoop down to the demon, flying around it tauntingly as it tried to swat the bird away. It was a beautiful creature, despite the demonic edge it had. Deep, dark blue feathers flapping powerfully as it dodged the demon’s swiping claws, cackling all the while.   

Then, from your right, a voice spoke out.  

“I curse my stars in bitter grief and woe, ” The deep, smooth purr of a voice mused as a new face walked himself on the tattered courtyard, idly twirling a silver cane with each step, “ That made my love so high and me, so low.”  

This felt like the punchline to a very odd joke. A demon, a twink , and a goth walked into a bar—You had to bite your lip to stop a snort. All that time in the Void was making you insane. This new man was different from the other, another pretty boy all the same but carrying a very different vibe. Head down, black hair waving in the breeze and looking vaguely like he stepped out of a hot topic catalog. Did hot topics exist here? You shook your head to clear the thought, watching in curiosity as the newcomer approached. You recognized that poem he had quoted—it was by William Blake. Some things did cross dimensions it would seem. And what an odd thing, to stroll into a scene with your head down, reading poetry from a small leather-bound book.  

The white-haired boy seemed to recognize the newcomer, lowering his gun as he approached the demon. The pale man’s back was now to you, and you found yourself fascinated with all you saw. He was covered in tattoos as well, ones that writhed as he rose his cane, pointing it at the distracted demon. You saw from its tip a burst of black energy, then a panther was bounding toward the demon. Before you could see what happened, the bird swooped near you, causing you to duck behind the debris just as the sound of blades rang out. You pressed to the concrete surface, hoping the demonic creature didn’t see you. Why were you so nervous? Probably because you always were when there was so much you didn’t understand.   

A couple blue feathers fell near you, slowly falling to the ground as you heard more voices behind you.   

“Why...why are you...?” The demon rasped weakly after you heard his body hit the ground hard, his voice carried on the light breeze around you.  

Little wander, ” The voice of the man, the one with ebony hair. You slide down, back to the debris as you tried to keep as quiet as possible.  

Hie thee home... !” His voice was somehow...pleasant, melodic and smooth, even as you heard him grunt and the sound of his cane cutting through flesh. The demon released a pained cry, blood spurting on concrete hard to miss as he disintegrated. Or at least you thought so. You were too afraid to pop out yet. Your Void sense was tingling, your foresight warning you that something had already changed from your presence. Which wasn’t a good sign, considering you were hiding at that moment. But now the demon was dead, and you had no idea how to make yourself known or approach people. Dread curled in your gut, anxiety mingling with all the time you had missed in your slumber. The Void always left you messed up afterwards, yet also making you whole again.   

The boy spoke now, his voice sounding pleasantly surprised as his footsteps moved toward the other man, “Thought I was gonna have to pick you out of his...uh...tummy teeth,” He grunted.  

You twisted one of the feathers in your fingers, swallowing as the bird swooped overhead again.  

“Pardon my delay,” Came the smooth, light toned reply, “I was catching up on some reading.”  

“Yeah,” The white-haired boy replied, sounding pretty disinterested. You wished you could look and check but the sound of something crumbling made you hesitate, “Looks like a real page-turner.”  

The men kept talking for a few moments, and you caught the name “Dante” and mention of an unfamiliar term. “ Qliphoth ” and “ Qlipoth pollen”. You also learned immediately that your suspicions were correct—the thing in the sky was in fact a tree, a tree that grew in the underworld as the black-haired man told it. He was saying a lot of things you needed to hear, thank the lord. A blood sucking demon tree, that’s exactly the thing you weren’t hoping for. Not that specifically, but close enough right?  

“If Dante is alive, we save him,” The boy huffed as he took in the information as well, his footsteps starting up again, “If not, we don’t.”  

“Wait.” His footsteps were halted by the other man. That word alone sent a worried thrill up your spine. You felt like a kid playing hide and seek, right about to be caught.   

“First we need to exterminate some... Qliphoth roots,” The man suggested, his tone lilting and smooth. You closed your eyes—goth man definitely had the voice for poetry. You remember a lecture in class once from a literature major, he used to read poetry all the time in a voice far less pleasant. The memory sent a twinge of pain through your skull, hand coming up to press the source as you winced. Remembering the past always lead to pain, you needed to remember that. Eyes always forward, not back. Besides, you had more important things to focus on. You debated following these men from a distance, observing them as best you could without being caught. Stealth was always an option.  

You heard the feet start moving again, only to be halted by the one sentence you didn’t want to hear. Right above your head.   

“So sorry, gentleman,” A grating voice said in an amused tone, causing your head to jerk up to see the bird staring down at you with glowing eyes, "We seem to have an audience...!”  

Shit.  

Your foresight suddenly flared, marking that you had altered the situation. Your presence was very known now, there was no doubting that. You gasped, lurching back in shock as the bird cackled lightly at your reaction. You weren’t fast enough. Sharp talons grasped you by the shoulders in the next instant, digging into skin as you were pulled into the air with ease. How could you have been such an idiot?! That time in the Void had definitely screwed with your focus. The bird was apparently strong, pulling your squirming form up over the debris and depositing you not too gracefully onto the ground right in front of the two men—the white haired man had his gun raised again, the other holding his cane pointed at you. Gaze lifted, you found yourself face to face with a snarling panther, eyes burning a vicious red as it took a step toward you.   

You didn’t dare activate your powers, not yet. Not till you had a better grasp on the situation.  

“A human survivor ?” The white-haired boy said in surprise when you lifted your head, now seeing your face in the light. He was definitely a looker up close, they both were. You felt very small despite the level of power you knew you had. Anxiety never seemed to fade, you felt like you were in trouble. He still had his gun raised at you, and you definitely didn’t want to appear threatening.  

You leaned back, a worried expression on your face as you whispered, “Um...please don’t shoot me?” It sounded like a question, even though you were sure you were not asking one.  

Both men stared down at you, then at each other.  

The black-haired man frowned, turning his gaze to you again and tilting his cane. He pressed the flat handle to your throat, tilting your chin up so they could closer inspect you.   

“Human survivors are heavily unlikely,” He replied to an unasked question, lips curving into a wry smile, “So I highly doubt that’s the case. Though I’d also imagine if she meant to attack, she would have already, yes? Although,” Despite his smooth, gentle tone, the cane pressed a little harder, a warning of sorts as he continued, “Eavesdropping is...very rude, little miss.”  

 This man had very nice eyebrows, a strong nose, and full lips. You tried to focus on that instead of that growing fear you might fail your mission. Fighting the one lead you had was out of the question, and the Deity would not be happy. You gulped, trying to slow your heartbeat.   

“I. ..wasn’t trying to...” You replied as calmly as you could manage with cold metal on your throat, “And I am human. I... i mean, not a normal human, sure, but I am a human.”  

You were stuttering, you couldn’t help it. And technically you weren’t lying either. You were human in orgin, made better by the energy of the Void. Half truths were better than outright lies.  

The black haired man hummed, seeming to weigh your words as the twink asked, “What do you mean by ‘not a normal human’?” He pushed the cane away from your face, putting his gun in its holder and shooting the goth man a look that clearly said “back off”. He complied, a smirk on his lips as he retracted the cane and took a step back. You released a heavy, relieved breath you didn’t know you were holding, glad you no longer had the looming threat of a bullet and a poetry major of your head.  

“I was born...gifted,” You replied hesitantly, accepted a hand when white-haired boy offered it to you and coming to your feet, “I have abilities, almost like magic. They are what helped me survive until now.” Again, not a lie.  

Both men exchanged another glace, silence stretching for a few moments as they both thought over what you said. You looked at the panther still circling you, low growls coming from its chest. It was beautiful as well, black with swirling red glowing patterns in its fur. Your hand twitched, and you quickly stifling the urge to touch anything before you lost a hand. What the hell was wrong with you? Impulse control had never been a strong suit it would seem, though your brain at least knew well enough not to follow through. Especially not when these two men still didn’t seem to know how to handle you.   

Before they could speak to you again, the screech of tires quickly approached. All three of you turned to see a giant van skidding harshly in your direction. You quickly leapt back with the men, but were flattered when the twink still stepped in front of you to protect you and goth boy grabbed your arm to pull you out of the way. Both looked at you when your agility registered, and all you could muster was a shrug.  

A woman popped out of the window of the van, dark hair messy over a cute face with freckles over her nose and cheeks.  

“I know I know I’m late. Shut it!” She quip p ed in a southern drawl, pointing at the two, “The roads were all clogged...!”  

You heard the twink sigh lightly, pressing a hand to his head as he relaxed a bit. The girl in the van blinked, taking in the situation in a brief pass of her gaze.  

“Uh... I know you must be V,” She pointed at the goth—his name was V obviously—before pointing one cutely painted nail at you, “Who’s the new girl? You didn’t mention ‘ nuther person, Nero.”  

V and Nero. Awesome, you now knew both names.  

It took a second for you to realize that V was still griping your arm. Only when he released it did it click, the man taking a step back and tilting his head in observance of you. Nero let out another sigh, you turning in enough time to see him shrug.  

“We don’t exactly know her,” He replied, leaning against the van with his metal arm, "Says she has powers though—what's your name, kid?”  

You blinked, raising a brow at the word “kid”. You were young in appearance but you were pretty sure you were twenty when you sold your soul. And you looked twenty. Average height too, whearas Mr. Twink didn’t look a day over eighteen. His actual age was a mystery to you, but that didn’t matter at the moment.   

“Y/N,” You replied, offering a small, but slightly annoyed smile, “And I’m not a kid. I turned twenty this year.” Big lie, but they didn’t need to know that.  

Nero smirked cockily, shrugging as he pushed off from the van, “Noted. Can you fight?”  

You nodded simply.  

He grunted in reply, “Can you fight demons ?”  

You nodded again, “I can.” Not a lie. Demons were child ' s play.  

The woman replied before Nero, smacking a hand on the side of the van as she hollered impatiently, “She’s in then! Now hurry it up, I don’t got all day!” She looked at you and pointed at herself, “My name is Nico, you come to me if you need shit, got that?”  

You nodded again, offering a timid smile. Agreeing to everything seemed the best course of action. Nico seemed pleased, pulling back into the van—or maybe it was a variation of mobile home—with a chuckle. You looked over the vehicle with a mix of confusion anf fascination. Bright neon letters lit up the side, “Devil May Cry” a hard thing to miss. It was on the tires as well. A brand? You wanted to ask, but that familiar flapping sounded overhead, and you turned in enough time to see V put out his arm. The bird swooped down to land on the provided appendage, rustling his feathers and leveling you with a sharp gaze. You immediately straightened your back, staring at him with a mixture of unease and awe.  

“Simple as that huh? Just like that, the pretty little princess is a part of the gang!” The bird commented in a sharp tone, following it with a light cackle, “Just gonna take her word for it! Nero you are a genius!”  

Everyone was just full of nicknames for you it would seem. You felt like someone else had called you “Princess” before. Only last time you were fairly certain it was an enemy and you broke its nose. You also decided in that moment that you didn’t like the nicknames, a frown settling on your lips as the bird met your challenging gaze with one of his own—beautiful bird, made of absolute bastard it would seem. You had dealt with things like that before.  

“We can take all the help we can get,” Nero said in a tone heavily implying violence against this bird, pointing at him with his metal arm threateningly, “If you have any issues with my decision making I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.”  

Seemed like there was little room for discussion.  

“Oh boy, let’s all gang up on the bird for being the realistic one!” He cackled, but with less steam now, “If she ends up dead weight, you’ll all be sorry you didn’t listen...!”  

You saw a muscle twitch under Nero’s eye, whatever he said making the boy very, very ticked. The bird leaned his head back, seeming to click right away with the realization of he said something wrong. You had zero idea of what line was crossed, but you wanted to ease the tention somehow.  

“I assure you, I’ll be plenty useful,” You shrugged, easily drawing everyone’s attention to you again, “Though I’ll gladly recline the nickname ‘princess’ if you don’t mind.”  

The bird seemed surprised you spoke, so you continued.  

 “How long were you sitting on that zinger, ten piece ?” You kept your tone neutral, smiling again when his feathers puffed up in annoyance, “My name is Y/N, by the way. Just in case you couldn’t hear it over your own squawking.”  

Much to your shock, your reply made mister goth smile. You saw just the back end of an amused smirk as he turned his head away to hide it, holding this bird up as it made an indignant series of noises at you. Nero relaxed a little, shaking his shoulders a little as he let the tension drop and turned away.  

“Let’s not waste any more time, shall we?” V suggested, brushing past you lightly with a light hum, “There are plans to be made, and Qliphoth roots to be destroyed.”  

Nero nodded and lead the charge as they headed to enter the van. You hesitated for a moment, watching the panther slink along behind its master and flicking its tail. You weren’t sure that you were meant to follow until Nico poked her head out again, making a motion to you and mouthing ‘can you pick that up?’ as she pointed to a demon horn on the ground. You paused, grabbed it, then looked up again to see her give a thumbs up, motioning eagerly for you to follow behind V inside. You let out a slightly relieved sigh, and made quick work of catching up to the man, observing him curiously all the while.  

This is all you had for now, but you had a good feeling about this.