When the dust settled and the golden capsule collapsed, Shinji found his feet again. The previous three minutes had been a blur but it was clear that Hiro had saved his life and now, he could see that his saviour had unlocked his true potential in battle. A connection must’ve been made between himself and his Shinigami Lord, the fight was just about over.
“You look different,” said Shinji as his friend cracked his joints in succession, preparing for The Wrath’s skyward entry from her perch where he would’ve watched the transformation take place.
“Different might be the wrong word,” he replied. “I can’t really tell but I think I might be back to my original self.”
“Did your original self wear those stupid bangles?” Shinji asked, staring at the sleek pieces of Iwa growing across Hiro’s forearms in an almost gaudy golden colour. As for the rest of his body, he was no longer the lumbering brute who could not fit into a doorway but rather much more human-proportioned, despite still being much taller than Shinji.
His uniform had become loose and baggy at every end, making his body building physique look more Hallowe’en costume than genuine bulk. For a moment, it even looked like the excess cloth might hold back his performance as The Wrath began his Mach 5 descent towards them. “I guess I’ll let you take this one then, you look like you might have it under control.”
“You’re stepping back, that’s unlike you.”
“I don’t want to distract you.”
“You’re welcome, by the way,” Hiro smiled as his eyes tracked up his forearm, towards his fist as though aiming down the iron sights of a gun. “We almost didn’t make that jump.”
He was as calm and collected as any professional sniper, waiting for the enemy projectile to prepare for splashdown. His forearm protectors stretched and wrapped around Hiro’s knuckles as he punched upwards into The Wrath’s armoured fist, matching its width finger-for-finger. It appeared that Hiro was able to manipulate his body structure as he saw fit, interesting.
The clash stood in frozen time for thirteen seconds before a tear found itself in the iron skin of The Wrath. The battle came to a close soon after, as Hiro’s fist shrank back down to its originals size, allowing The Wrath’s body to split and slump over into two pieces.
“He’s not going to get up from that,” said the once gentle giant. “I don’t care what’s inside him, you don’t get to stand up after being punched in half.”
A sarcastic Shinji was on the ball to congratulate his friend, albeit wary of his ability to tear a man in two. “Wow,” he said, “well done. Now, how do we get back up there? ‘Cause something big is happening, did you hear that fucking elephant?”
“Just the first?” mumbled Saboten, attempting to ignore the fact that The World just referred to him as ‘Belphegor’. “I won’t let you!”
“I don’t understand… What are you going to stop? You don’t know what I’m trying to do, Belphegor.”
“Stop calling me that.”
“Don’t you see? That’s a prime example of what I’m saying, you’re constantly battling to change the subject back to you because you’re not sure where else to take it. It’s all just empty threats.”
Grit teeth, gripped handle.
“Much better, isn’t that better?” he directed his question towards a silent Ayame, her hair still holding the Medusa Fist shape from earlier. “”You probably don’t share my enthusiasm for his silence, do you?”
“What’s so special about her? Why can’t you just leave Rho alone?”
He looked down upon the child in his arms, “Rho Dwelt is my creation. I mean, come on: R-H-O D-W-E-L-T, you didn’t figure out that it’s an anagram of The World?”
The similarities between The World and Rho Dwelt were clear: a round face, clear skin, silver hair. The two even shared similar aloof mannerisms, although the former held a much more intimidating presence. “She’s holding some of my power in her eyes. It’s the same with you, I think you’ll find. If I’m ever going to be complete, I need to collect all of my power back up. Does that make sense to you?”
Saboten ran his fingers against the crossroads of scar tissue on his face, “why didn’t you just take them while we were in captivity? Why bother going through all of this crap?”
“My dear boy, can you control reality yet?”
“What can you do? Hmm, let me think…” the old man closed his eyes, summoning a selection of Shinigami weaponry all in a similar vein to Saboten’s ‘Accuser’ which surrounded him and his child like Saturn’s ring. As the purple-tint armoury spun, the old man began to levitate off the ground; “you can summon a weapon, albeit not an impressive one, you can probably teleport a short distance, and you might be able to levitate in the air, if you try really hard.”
“What’s your point?”
“I can already do that, duh.” The World returned to the ground, the weaponry’s rotation slowed but refused to stop. “So, I’m going to give you a moment to unlock your full potential as I travel around, sucking up all of my Remnants, and when you’re ready, I’ll pluck your eye from you head while you’re still breathing.”
“We’ll see about that!” scorned Shinji as he ploughed through the air towards The World, unaware of the Creator’s incredible power. Without so much of a glance towards Shinji, The World managed to pull him from the sky and pile-drive the swordsman into Hideki. Hiro followed soon after, pulling himself up from the wall without aid.
“You’re all here now, isn’t that nice?”
“Who is this old fuck?” The ever-reliable wit of Shinji persevered from the new pile he found himself in, “why’s he holding Rho?”
“That’s Atticus Kazuhiro, Scarecrow President…” said Hiro, “I remember reading about him in the files.”
“At least somebody read those files, Christ.”
“He’s also The World.”
“I’m very important, as you can see,” he said, “I hold within me the very Creator of the Shinigami. I was the one who built you up from where you once stood, and you’ve all decided to rebel against me.”
“Beelzebub, The Shinigami Overlord, gave birth to the Kara Sekai after feasting upon the nightmares and negativity of humankind. He built the Shinigami with his many eyes closed and gave birth to the Shinigami Lords to help create his kingdom.”
“This isn’t exactly enthralling, motherfucker. Can you get on with it?”
“Defiant to the end, aren’t you? Beelzebub offered gifts of power to his children but, to his most favoured creations, he offered his own eyes; incredible gifts of true, worldly power from the ability to manipulate reality, chonokinesis, or the power to cross between the dimensions in the hope that he may bring the two worlds together.”
“Oh, well you’ve done a good fucking job, haven’t you?”
“Don’t antagonise him, Shinji.”
“I haven’t even gotten started! Rho is mine again, phase one has been completed.” The mass of swords, staves, and spears rotating around The World began to pick up speed once again. “Now, I just need to move onto phase two: absolute completion, then I will have the power to rule the United Realms.”
As the pace increased, the weaponry began to disintegrate and distill in a ring of purple haze which tightened and tightened around him. Once it was small enough, The World donned the creation as a makeshift halo and surrounded himself in a his own purple aura.
“Allow me to demonstrate: my first evolution!”
“We’re not going to let this happen!” shouted Saboten as he attempted to summon his katana to his hand. It was no use though, there was something about The World’s closeness which sapped Saboten of all motivation to step forwards, no matter how dire the situation. It affected all of Team Karasu, causing time around them to feel sluggish and constricting as the tornado around The World began to absorb the young Rho into his body.
The entire surrounding area began to shudder as though the Earth itself wished for the process to cease, trembling before Atticus Kazuhiro’s incredible might. One by one, the incredible power started to sap the team’s consciousness from their minds and everybody fell to the ground as it rumbled below them. This purple tornado lasted a daunting three minutes as Team Karasu watched the opaque haze become a solid structure, encasing The World in an impenetrable crystal.
The World had become one step closer to completion.
Thank you for taking the time to read this chapter.
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