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, a story about one of Lavi past
~ Fate ~
Member No.: 34
Joined: 20-April 08
@emi lee: i hope you will find it^^
@vanahei: hei is <3 i really like him <3 episode 26 is total win :D
continue it again XD
--------------------------------D. Gray-man Reverse 2
By Kizaki Kaya,
Translated by Kumori_no_ko from LiveJournal
The 49th Name
Once they were outside, Rabi stretched. “In the tavern, Serge was called an idiot son, but when we met with him he seemed relatively decent.”
“I wonder…” murmured Doug.
“You don’t think so?”
“Weeell, his eyes bother me.”
“They say the eyes are the mirror of the soul. Without a doubt it’s the eyes where people’s true feelings show through the most. I can tell a person’s mental state by looking at their eyes.”
“That reminds me, you said that before…”
When Rabi had just entered the Order, no matter how hard Rabi tried to speak to Doug, he refused to look at Rabi’s face, as if Rabi were annoying him.
When Rabi persisted despite this, Doug told him clearly, “Your eyes are like glass. You interact with people only as reflections, without showing your true heart at all. I can’t imagine having a proper conversation with someone like that.”
Even that dispute was now a pleasant memory.
“Serge’s eyes were like clouded glass.” Becoming one of the Finders charged with investigation and information gathering must have honed his innate abilities, but Doug’s keen bowers of discernment were astonishing.
“So you mean Serge was lying?”
“No…but he wanted to hide something for certain. He was friendly, but his gaze drifted insecurely here and there. Although there’s a possibility that it wasn’t because we’re from the Black Order, but simply because he was wary of sudden visitors.”
“Now that you mention it, he did seem pretty emotionally unstable. Besides which, he said his father was shut in the house. That’s different from the rumor in the tavern.”
“The staggering about at night could have been sleepwalking. Serge could be unaware of it because he’s sleeping at night,” said Doug.
“How about Colette?”
“She’s completely closed off her heart…but I don’t know yet whether or not that’s because of her cruel childhood.”
“Man, at this point everyone’s suspicious.” All aspects of the case lacked conclusive evidence. A sigh escaped Rabi.
“That’s true. If we could meet with Mister Jerome, we might find out more. Also, I’d sure like to hear what Colette has to say. As a maid, she might possess some secret information about the mansion.”
“Well, speak of the devil,” said Rabi. He turned his eyes towards the gate. Colette had indeed just come outside. When she noticed them, she stopped short. She must have thought they’d already left.
“Hey. Thanks for the delicious tea earlier.” Smiling so as not to frighten her, Doug approached her.
But Colette was looking at them like a guard dog that’s seen a thief.
At any rate, it seemed she didn’t have a favorable impression of them. Rabi was tempted to let out a sigh.
Not giving up, Doug spoke to Colette. “Do you mind if we speak with you for a moment?”
“…It’s a bad time. I have to go shopping.”
“We would like you to cooperate with our investigation so we can solve this case. Please.”
“I’m in a hurry.”
Rabi intently watched Colette, who was shaking her head stubbornly. She may be unfriendly, but she was such a small girl who seemed to be harmless. She had a conflicted expression, but inside she might be sticking out her tongue. Wearing human skin and living like a normal human, then suddenly baring its fangs—that was the terror of Akuma.
I’ll find out right here. Rabi quietly took hold of the hammer hanging at his belt. The hammer looked like a small mallet, but in an instant its handle lengthened and its head grew.
Colette gaped up at Rabi, who was suddenly holding a large hammer.
“Rabi!? What are you doing?”
Rabi flashed a grin toward the flustered Doug. “I’m clearing up whether or not she’s an Akuma.”
At this point, the most suspicious was Jerome Dreselle. But there was a fair possibility that Colette, stubbornly refusing to cooperate, was also an Akuma. They had to find out if she was at once.
Doug cried out in what was nearly a scream. “Rabi, stop!”
There was a dull sound, and the hammer sank into the earth. It was only a few inches away from Colette’s feet.
“Oh. You’re human.” Rabi pulled the hammer out of the earth and regarded Colette, who was frozen on the spot and trembling.
He heard Doug let out a deep breath beside him.
Rabi said, “Sorry to scare you. I thought it’d be faster if I did that and checked if—”
A sudden blow to the back of the head sent Rabi pitching forward.
“Ouch! What are you doing!?” Rabi turned around, clutching his head, to see Doug standing with his fist clenched, and expression of indignant rage on his face.
“How could you do such a thing to such a small girl!”
“I never intended to hit Colette in the fist place! I just wanted to check if she’s an Akuma.”
“There are other ways of doing that! You’re too much!”
At that moment, Rabi caught another, ominous sound.
It seemed Doug had heard it too, for still grasping Rabi’s lapels he turned to look at Colette with trepidation.
Colette was clutching her skirt, tears running down her face as she sobbed.
“Aaaugh! You made her cry!”
Perhaps in reaction to Doug’s words, Colette began to wail. “Waaah!”
“Gah! What should we do, old man!?” Rabi sought help from his master, the Bookman. At some point the Bookman had drifted a number of meters away and was looking off in another direction as if to show he had nothing to do with them. the picture^^
“Doooug!” When Rabi turned back, he saw Doug kneeling in front of Colette.
“I’m sorry I let him surprise you. I won’t ever let him do that again.” Doug took a handkerchief from his pocket and softly dabbed at the huge tears running down Colette’s cheeks.
“I’m really sorry, Colette!” Rabi put his palms together fervently.
Still sobbing and sniffling, Colette looked at Doug. Her terror made her look her age, like the young girl she was.
Doug continued carefully wiping Colette’s face. “I’m sorry we scared you. We won’t do anything that bothers you again, so is it all right if we accompany you while you do your shopping?”
“Why?” Colette asked in bewilderment.
“We’d at least like to carry your things for you as an apology. How’s that?”
Colette was staring at Doug, sniffling, but eventually she nodded. “…That’s fine.”
“Great! Man, for a moment there I was worried.” Rabi wiped the sweat off his forehead. Good thing he’d left things to Doug. Children often liked Doug, possibly because they saw through to his good-hearted, loving nature.
At that moment, Rabi felt a gaze as cold as ice. Colette pointed a finger at Rabi as if training a gun on him. “But I hate him. I hate that person with the eyepatch!” There was force behind her words.
“What!? That’s mean, Colette! Look, I’m sorry! When we arrive in town, I’ll buy you anything you like, so forgive me!”
Colette pointedly turned her face away despite his heartfelt entreaty. Rabi put his hands together and peeked at her face in trepidation. “Will you forgive me?”
“What!?” Rabi cried in despair.
When they finally reached the town center, the sun had completely set, but the night had just begun, and a range of shops were lit up and bustling.
“C’mon, Colette, cheer up.” Rabi had eventually received permission to accompany them, so he’d left keeping watch on the mansion to the Bookman, but Colette wouldn’t let him get near her, leaving Rabi to trudge behind her and Doug all the way into town.
“My name’s Rabi!”
Undaunted by Rabi’s words, Colette directed a gaze at him that was blunt enough to make him flinch. “Why do you wear an eyepatch over your right eye? An injury?”
A tension in the air immediately became palpable.
Feeling Doug’s gaze on him, Rabi forced a smile. “Oh…this? No, this—it’s not an injury.”
Colette may have perceptively caught the change in atmosphere, for she said, flustered, “Oh, really. That’s good then.”
“You were worried about me? You’re a nice kid, Colette.”
She dodged Rabi’s hand as he reached out to pat her head, then held out a handful of money. “I don’t have time. Let’s split up the shopping. Could you go buy bread, Eyepatch? Doug, you go to the butcher’s please.”
“I told you, my name’s—”
“Come now, hurry up and go shopping!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Smiling wryly, Rabi headed off to buy bread.
It had been awhile since anyone had asked about his eyepatch. People who’d met him for the first time regarded it curiously, but refrained from asking him about it. Colette had a child’s outspokenness.
People must imagine all sorts of things about Rabi’s right eye, but they would never have imagined that it was what had determined that he would become the next Bookman.
This was the truth known only to the Bookman. What nobody else needed to know.
Rabi shivered slightly. For some reason the autumn wind felt colder.
~ Fate ~
Member No.: 34
Joined: 20-April 08
@vanahei: so you are also the member of DGM community at LJ?
and his face when the mask is breaking apart is priceless, the black reaper with his idiot face :P
@yuu-kun: when i addicted to something, even some long pages story is no problem for me XD
continue it again^^
D. Gray-man Reverse 2
By Kizaki Kaya,
Translated by Kumori_no_ko from LiveJournal
The 49th Name
“Thank you for carrying my things.” Colette thanked them timidly once they’d finished shopping and arrived before the mansion.
Doug gave a gentle, enveloping smile and handed Colette a bottle of wine. “Is Mr. Jerome treating you well?”
“Huh?” Colette looked at him questioningly.
“I was just worried…I mean, even a single shopping trip is hard on you.” Doug looked at Colette in concern.
“I’m grateful to the master. I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t provided the treatment fee, saying it was because he’d subcontracted to my father before,” Colette answered, making Doug to smile in relief.
“So he’s a kind person, then.”
“The mistress was also a wonderful person. Because I couldn’t go to school, she taught me reading, writing, and arithmetic. She and the master were very close. That’s why he’s so depressed…” Colette took on a pained expression. She must also have been suffering over the sudden death of her mistress and change in her master.
“Did you know that Mr. Jerome is going out at night?” asked Doug.
Colette immediately averted her eyes. To tell or not to tell? She looked conflicted. “…I have heard him leaving his room.”
“Do you know where he’s going?”
“No. When I notice a noise, I go to look, but I never see him.”
“Really…” Doug took a backward glance at Rabi. Rabi nodded slightly.
It seemed he’d been prowling here and there outside at night as the rumors said after all.
“…I do have one idea of where the master might be going,” Colette said, sounding as if she’d made up her mind.
“A man claiming to be a traveling fortune-teller visited the master while he was mourning his deceased wife. Master Serge chased him out, but…it could be that the master is going to the Statue of the Dawn Goddess. After all, they said that if you pray there fervently, a person who’s died will come back to life…”
If Jerome was going out at night, he could be transforming into an Akuma and attacking people.
“I have to go now.” Colette glanced at the mansion.
“I’m sorry to take up your time. I’m very glad I could speak with you. Well then, we’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yes…goodnight.” Colette looked a little as if she wanted to say something more, but she kept silent and entered the mansion.
Doug had been watching her leave intently. Rabi grabbed his hair. “You’ve sure made a friend.”
“It did seem like she was opening up a little.”
“Yeah, kids sure get along well with each other.”
“Who are you calling a kid!” Doug swiftly shook off Rabi’s hand and walked towards the Bookman, who was standing by the gate.
“Welcome back. There were a number of visitors, but Serge turned all but one of them away at the gate. Only a single man who looked like a laborer entered the mansion, and nobody, including Jerome, left it.”
“I see. Thank you for keeping watch, Bookman. I spoke with Colette, and it seems Mr. Jerome may be visiting the Statue of the Dawn Goddess after dark.”
“I see…well then, I suppose we’ll continue to keep watch.”
“Yes, sir.” Doug’s gaze flickered towards the mansion.
“Are you worried about Colette?”
When Rabi spoke to him, Doug jumped. “Yeah, I am. I mean, she’s still only ten, but she’s shouldered her father’s debt and is working….She seems to be bearing up well, but when I think of how lonely she must be in an unfamiliar place, separated from her parents…” Doug looked down sadly. His heart must ache to think of Colette’s situation.
“…You aren’t thinking that you’d like to do something for Colette, are you?”
Doug looked at Rabi with a start.
“I knew it.”
It seemed like something Doug would be thinking. Doug was clearly thinking beyond the mission and was concerned about Colette.
Doug gave a long sigh. However, a strong resolve welled up in his eyes. “But I can’t just leave her like this.”
The Bookman, who had been silently listening, looked up at Doug. “I do understand how you feel. However, if you concern yourself any more than necessary with the people you meet in the course of your work, you won’t be able to bear it. We aren’t all-powerful gods.”
At the Bookman’s words, Doug hung his head. “I understand. But even if she’s to work, don’t you think it could wait until she’s grown more? I would like to let her attend primary school. She seems to be an intelligent child, and in France a primary education law has been enacted that allows any child up to age twelve to attend primary school.”
“That means only that the system’s been set up. Never mind that they passed the law, the system won’t be used if it goes against the way things are. If a family is destitute and can barely earn their daily bread, they won’t be able to send their children to school. Even the children will be sent out to earn money.”
“That’s true…I do understand, but when I think of such a young girl working…”
“Compared to men, women can find fewer jobs and receive lower wages. You could say that Colette is lucky just to have employment.”
Rabi lightly patted Doug’s shoulder. “Now, don’t speak so harshly, Panda. Maybe it was some kind of fate that we met Colette. If Doug performs an act of charity after the mission, the Order won’t say anything.”
Doug looked up in relief.
The Bookman nodded silently to Doug, then turned to face Rabi. “Who are you calling a panda!!”
“Gah!” An open-palmed slap with some force behind it hit Rabi’s cheek. Sent flying, Rabi grabbed onto Doug, who happened to be right next to him.
“Agh!” Hit by Rabi, who was a size larger than him, Doug staggered. Something white fell to lie at his feet.
“Sorry, Doug! …What’s this?” Rabi picked up what Doug had dropped. It was a pure-white ribbon edged with lace.
“…She said it was her birthday tomorrow, you see.”
“Ohh, so when you were shopping you secretly bought a present too! Nice work there!” Rabi nudged Doug with his elbow, and Doug’s face reddened.
“I’ve never given a present to a girl before. Do you think she’ll be happy?”
“Yeah, I’m sure she will,” Rabi said, and Doug smiled, relieved.
From the second-story window, two shadowy figures secretly watched the three people conversing in front of the mansion. One was Serge, and the other was a strongly built man with a savage air. He wore a homespun cap that was frayed in places low over his eyes, as if he was afraid of his face being seen. In contrast to the silk dressing gown Serge had slipped on, he cut a seedy appearance in threadbare black clothes and hempen pants.
“It’s those three,” Serge whispered to the man at his side.
Stroking the stubble of his beard, the other man gazed at Rabi and the others through the window. “Oh, I saw those three at the tavern yesterday. They stood out in their black coats of strange design. Never mind the little old man, the redhead and the black-haired kid are young and look like they could cause trouble.”
Serge clicked his tongue at the other man, who had a coarse smile on his face. “All right. How’s 200 francs for the lot of them?”
The man slowly shook his head. His expression was that of someone seeing an easy-to-manipulate sucker. “I’ll need some strong men…yeah, I’ll have to hire five or six of them. That’s not nearly enough. I’ll need 500 francs.”
The man’s smile grew wider at Serge’s immediate acceptance. A handicraftsman laboring diligently for a full day could expect wages of a mere four francs. The man considered a hundred francs enough compensation, and had asked for an unreasonable price without taking it seriously.
An idiotic moneybag with no grasp of market value or basic negotiating. He wondered how long he could keep using him as a source of funds.
“However, kill all three of them,” said Serge.
“Huh?” The other man couldn’t believe his ears.
“I thought we’d talked of beating them up and running them out of town, not…”
“I changed my mind. It’s best to remove nuisances completely. I can’t have them persist in loitering outside my mansion.” His calm held absolutely no hesitation or fright towards committing murder. Serge spoke as if he wanted rocks cleared from the roadside, and even the other man, who had experienced his share of brawls, felt a surge of fear.
“But…if you just hate them hanging around, there’s no need to kill them.”
“You can’t do it?”
“Er, n-no, I can! I’ll do it.”
Serge nodded silently.
If I say no, Serge will hire some other guy. Then he’ll kill me too, so I don’t talk. Without hesitation. It will matter as little to him as crushing a bug. The man sense this acutely.
Serge handed over a sheaf of bills. Swallowing audibly, the man took it.
Outside the window, the darkness grew deeper.
~ Fate ~
Member No.: 34
Joined: 20-April 08
i guess i will post the rest XD. after that, maybe do you want to have some discussion? XD
D. Gray-man Reverse 2
By Kizaki Kaya,
Translated by Kumori_no_ko from LiveJournal
The 49th Name
The night wore on, and the full moon shone like a silver dish in the deep blue sky. The visitor who’d stayed until a short time ago had left, and the mansion was hushed. Only the call of an owl echoed over the road.
The night breeze blew relentlessly over the three figures beneath the tree across from the mansion.
“Ah!” Doug cried softly. Rabi noticed at the same moment.
A figure had appeared on the other side of the Dreselle mansion’s ostentatious gate. Even through the lattice they could tell it was a large, strongly-built man. He wore a dark brown frock coat that was difficult to distinguish against the dark background.
The bearded face visible in the moonlight precisely matched that of the portrait above the fireplace.
“It’s Mr. Jerome,” whispered Doug softly.
With unbelievable agility for such a large build, Jerome placed a hand on the lattice and lightly vaulted over the six-foot-high gate. He landed soundlessly on the ground.
Jerome looked around at his surroundings two, three times and walked in the direction opposite the town—towards the forest.
The three of them quietly began trailing Jerome, who was staggering along with unsteady footsteps, like a drunken man.
At his chest, illuminated by the streetlamps, glittered the diamond.
“So that’s the diamond we heard about…it’s just as big as in the portrait,” said Rabi.
“It stands out even in the dark. It’ll make him easier to follow.” Doug let out a sigh of admiration. “However, if he runs into a thief while wearing it so openly—” he started to say, then stopped in his tracks.
After Jerome had passed by, three men leapt out from beneath a tree, cutting them off. All of them had caps pulled low over their eyes and cloth covering the lower halves of their faces. Their appearance was seedy in old coats, hempen pants, and wooden shoes, but they swelled out their chests in pride at their strength.
They were armed with knives and clubs.
“What do you guys want?”
Not replying to Rabi’s question, the men silently hefted their weapons.
Robbers? No, in that case they would have attacked Jerome, thought Rabi. They came leaping out like they were targeting us. Clearly they were lying in wait for us. “No way, are these guys Akuma?” Rabi glanced at the Bookman. There was no time for indecision. “Doug, leave this to us….You go after Jerome!”
Doug nodded and ran towards the forest. More men leapt out from under the trees to block his way.
How many of them are there!? Rabi swiftly extended his hammer and leapt.
He sailed through the air and landed between the men and Doug. The mean stopped short at sight of this superhuman movement.
“Out of the way!” With a swing of Rabi’s hammer, the men went flying like balls. “Go!” Sparing a glance at Doug, who’d set off running, Rabi felt a sudden sense of foreboding. However, the risen men came in for the attack, leaving Rabi no time to ponder it.
First I’ve got to defeat these guys! Rabi shook off the uneasiness swirling darkly in the back of his mind and shifted his grip to the hammer to whirl it around.
Luckily, Doug quickly caught up with Jerome.
Catching his breath, Doug glanced behind him. There were at least six of those men. I wonder if Rabi and the Bookman will be all right.
Doug quickly suppressed his anxiety. There was no way that Rabi and the Bookman, who were Exorcists, would lose to the likes of them.
Doug need only carry out the task he was assigned.
Telling himself this, Doug calmed down.
Jerome staggered along, following the road single-mindedly. At some point the houses had become sporadic, and the forest, like a great black wave, had become visible ahead. The streetlamps had vanished, and only the moon, shining brightly in the night sky, lit the path. There were no longer any other people around, and Doug heard only the voices of insects and his own footfalls.
Jerome entered the dark forest without hesitating.
Doug looked up at the dense, dark trees. The wind blew, and the trees swayed as if beckoning him on. It made Doug’s heart pound. Spooked, he trembled.
The figure of Jerome was being swallowed into a clutch of trees.
I have no choice but to go. Doug resolved himself and stepped forward.
The night forest had fallen into a silent sleep. There was nothing to disturb its slumber, only the occasional bat visible fluttering past.
Doug closed his eyes and focused his attention on his ears. Doug had passed through many scenes of bloodshed, and he knew that by closing off your other senses, you effectively sharpen a single sense.
If he listened attentively, he could make out faint footsteps.
“Over there…” Doug quickly advanced.
Presently there was a break in the trees. After pushing through a thicket of bushes, Doug emerged into a clearing.
Nothing blocked the moonlight here, and it brightly illuminated everything. In an instant, Doug saw several human figures, started in fear, and froze.
However, upon looking more closely, they were human statues. Weeds grew unchecked at the feet of the unmoving statues. In a corner was something like a stone bench.
It seemed to be the remnants of a garden.
Doug cautiously stepped into the garden. Seen up close, the statues had moss growing on them, and the smell of grass reached Doug’s nose.
They must have had a nest nearby, because bats were fluttering about here and there.
Doug, who had advanced further into the garden, hurriedly hid himself behind a statue.
Jerome was standing in front of a statue set at the heart of the garden. Like the other statues, this one, in the shape of a woman, was grown with moss.
Could that be the goddess statue we heard of?
At that moment, there was a rustling noise behind Doug. He turned sharply, and his eyes opened wide.
Colette was standing there.
“Colette!? What are you doing here?”
At Doug’s vehemence, Colette’s expression became fearful. She edged back like a cornered cat. Doug felt his heart begin to pound harder. Why is Colette coming to the goddess statue? And so late at midnight, too. Impossible—impossible!
Colette spoke up, “What are you doing here, Doug?”
“I followed Mr. Jerome.”
“You’re too loud!”
Doug, panicked, put his hand over Colette’s mouth. It was not a violent movement, but Colette’s eyes clearly showed fright, and her shoulders rose in startlement. “Don’t hit me!”
“What?” Surprised, Doug looked at Colette.
Colette crouched on her heels and clutched herself with thin arms. Her slight body was trembling.
“Hit you…? How could….I’m sorry if I frightened you. But I don’t use violence, so don’t worry about…” As he was speaking, Doug noticed what looked like bruises on Colette’s wrists. “What are…”
Colette’s fearfulness—circumstances he didn’t want to consider surfaced in Doug’s mind. He knelt on one knee on the ground and gently peered into Colette’s face. “Colette, has someone been hurting you?”
Still trembling, Colette didn’t reply.
Colette shook her head from side to side emphatically.
Tears spilled from Colette’s eyes.
That man. I thought he was hiding something, but I never expected him to possess this much of a brutal side. However, looking back, Serge had shown signs of being quick to fly into a rage.
“Why is Serge hitting you!? How long has he been hurting you? And does Jerome know?”
“Since the mistress died, Master Serge started flying into rages. When he loses his temper, there’s nothing anyone can do. Master Serge was quite his mother’s boy, so I think he must have received quite a shock. He started taking out his anger on us servants…”
So that means she’s been the victim of violence on a daily basis for nearly a month. I’m sure her clothing hides other bruises. Doug was gripped by an overpowering feeling of helplessness. Why does God send us such cruel trials? Is God there? If He is—I wonder what He is thinking.
Doug shook off these foolish thoughts. If the likes of me starts pondering the existence of God, I’ll only end up going in circles.
“When he first hit me, I ran headlong from the mansion, and ended up here by chance.”
For Colette, whom there was no place for in the mansion, this was a temporary refuge. Doug had been suspicious of Colette because she’d been near the goddess statue.
Doug softly stroked Colette’s hair. He felt like he would cry if he didn’t. “Weren’t you scared, inside this dark forest?”
Surprisingly, Colette shook her head. “I’m not scared here…that goddess statue looks like my mother, you see.”
At these words, Doug felt like his heart had been pierced. That’s right, she’s still ten years old. Of course she misses her mother.
Doug gently embraced Colette. Colette nervously put her arms around Doug. The girl’s body was warm. And unbelievably thin.
She’d left her hometown, and was living with all her might on her own. Her unfriendliness was the armor she wrapped desperately around herself in order to protect herself.
”What are you going to do if this girl is unhappy?”
The Bookman’s frank advice flitted through Doug’s head, but Doug had already made his decision.
He grasped Colette’s small hand and looked her in the eye. “Colette, I’ll protect you from now on. Don’t worry.”
Colette looked faintly surprised—then her eyes grew moist. “Really?”
Doug nodded to Colette, who was looking at him imploringly. “Yes! When all this is over, I’ll go speak to Jerome. I’ll do something about the debt! You won’t have to work in that mansion anymore.”
Doug gently embraced Colette, who had leapt into his arms. He gently stroked her shaking back, again and again.
Just then, there was the rustling sound of someone pushing through a thicket. Doug, looking a few yards ahead, managed to keep from crying out. Serge had appeared there.
What’s he doing here?
In front of the goddess statue, Jerome slowly turned around. “What is it, Serge? Why have you called me out here?”
“We can’t talk in the mansion. There, you never know who could be listening from where.” Serge’s voice rang false. He seemed agitated, and even Doug could hear his heavy breathing. There was an unpleasant smile on his face, illuminated by the moonlight.
“Why did Serge call the master out to—”
“Shh.” Flustered, Doug covered Colette’s mouth.
“Father…have you come out to kill more people tonight?”
“What!?” At Serge’s words, Doug unthinkingly raised his voice. This time, Colette put her small hand over Doug’s mouth.
Fortunately, the Dreselle father and son, perhaps too intent on their conversation, showed now sign whatsoever of noticing them.
“What are you talking about?” Jerome countered calmly, completely unperturbed.
Serge slowly licked his lips. “I saw it. I’ve followed you when you go out at night—and seen you kill them. You’ve killed dozens—no, at least a hundred by now, haven’t you? You’ve been burying them. In the forest beyond that statue. Shall I dig one up?”
Judging from Serge’s confident tone, he didn’t seem to be lying. Then Jerome killed those missing people. So the Akuma is Jerome? thought Doug.
“I…I can’t believe the kind master is a murderer. But why?” whispered Colette, trembling.
Serge had taken on a triumphant tone, and his words spilled out. “If this is found out, it’s all over, no matter how much of a key local personage you are. Besides, I’d rather not have my father put to death for mass murder. So, what do you say about retiring from the public eye?”
Jerome remained silent.
“You can live out the rest of your days in luxury in your villa in Orleans. Hand over your estate to me. Isn’t that a good idea? So give me that diamond pendant.” Serge extended his hand.
“Serge.” Jerome finally spoke. “I have another good way.”
“What?” Serge’s face twisted unpleasantly.
Beneath the moonlight, Jerome’s mouth split like a crescent moon.
When he saw this malicious smile, Serge’s expression grew anxious. The sinister aura of menace projected by Jerome made chills run down the spine even of Doug, who was hiding.
“I could kill you.”
Doug, who had been expecting this, swiftly put his hand over Colette’s mouth.
“Wha…what are you talking about, father?” Serge must have thought that there was no way Jerome would kill him, his own son, but now the mask of confidence was stripped from his face and a look of cowardice visible. As slow as he was, even Serge now sensed the danger to himself, and drew back step by step.
Jerome froze, and his eyes rolled back in his head, revealing their whites. His body began to tremble as if something possessed it. Doug reflexively pulled Colette close. Although Colette clung to him all the while, she kept her gaze boldly fixed on Jerome.
The awful moment when a human transforms into something inhuman was nearly upon them.
In the next instant, sharp rock-like protuberances burst from Jerome’s body as if unable to hold back any longer.
A jarring mechanical noise broke the silence of the forest—Jerome’s skin split away, and the Akuma emerged into full view.
“A Level 2 Akuma!” Doug shouted without thinking.
It resembled nothing more than a porcupine made of glass. Its four feet planted on the ground, the Akuma’s entire body was covered in sharp, translucent shafts, shaped like prisms, that looked as if they would come flying toward Doug and the others at any moment. Bathed in moonlight, the Akuma shone silver, like a gigantic crystal ore. However, this shape evoked not beauty, but fear.
“Th-the master…” Colette whispered in a trembling voice.
Doug stared at the Akuma that had cast aside its human skin and shown its true nature. Whenever Doug saw the fiendish shape of an Akuma, he was filled with horror. A hateful evil weapon, created from sacrifice of a human being and a tragedy—
Even overwhelmed by the Akuma before his eyes, Doug did not fail to notice a small rustling sound. Alertly looking towards the direction the sound had come from, he saw a man stagger into the garden. His large build and shabby clothing were familiar. It was one of the men who’d blocked their path earlier. He was bleeding from the forehead.
“Serge, they were too strong!” Having yelled this, the man saw the Akuma in the center of the garden and stopped short, quailing.
Reacting to the man’s voice, the Akuma puffed out its body. The translucent shafts protruding from it took on a dangerous light.
The moment that the man, who’d realized the danger, turned heel to run, a protruding translucent shaft fired like a missile.
“Gah!” Blood flew from the man’s mouth. The sharply pointed shaft, as long as a man’s arm, had accurately stabbed through the man’s body. The shaft sticking from him, the man fell to the ground.
“Aaaugh!” Serge screamed and rushed to hide behind a nearby statue.
The Akuma turned to survey the garden. Then, lumbering slowly, it peered between statues as if playing hide and seek.
Colette clutched at Doug’s chest.
“It’s all right. Rabi will be here soon, so don’t worry.”
“Rabi?” Colette said doubtfully.
“That’s right—Rabi is an Exorcist who battles Akuma, and he’s really strong.” Doug recalled the sight of Rabi gracefully swinging his hammer and defeating Akuma.
“I—I don’t trust him. That boy,” Colette said in a rush. “He’s always smiling, but only on the surface. Inside his heart, he’s very cold. I’m sure it would be easy for him to abandon others.”
What a wise girl, Doug thought once more. She hadn’t just been almost hit with a hammer, she’d been observing Rabi closely.
A girl who worked among adults with all her strength, who lived doing the best she could. Although young, she had naturally come to possess the sad habit of being good at reading people’s expressions—just like Doug.
Of course, compared with Doug, who may have lost his parents, but had the fortune of being raised by relatives, Colette was suffering more.
“No, Rabi is sure to come,” Doug declared emphatically. What Colette had said was true. However, that was not the whole of Rabi. “Rabi’s come to save me when I was on the verge of death before. He’s sure to come this time, too.” Doug stroked Colette’s hair soothingly.
Just then, he saw that the Akuma was approaching them.
Oh no, at this rate it’ll find us. I have to buy time. “Colette, you hide here!” Doug sprang from behind the statue.
The Akuma’s eyes swiveled to focus on him. Doug raised his arms wide to draw its attention and set off running.
Having discovered prey, the Akuma’s eyes glittered, and it leapt forcefully from the ground. An air of menace, like that of a starved beast, rose from its body.
Rabi, come quickly! Doug prayed fervently while running between statues in a zigzag pattern to keep the Akuma from drawing a bead on him. To think that when I first met him, I thought he was so untrustworthy.
Rabi had approached with a closed heart and a smile that was only on the surface. Doug had even sensed hatred in his eyes—
A shaft shot out, and a nearby statue flew to pieces. Shaking off shards of stone, Doug kept running.
But that one time—when Doug had been chased by an Akuma and ended up alone, Rabi had come to save him, regardless of how Doug was hiding inside a building on the point of a very dangerous collapse.
I don’t understand the reasons, but Rabi places distance between himself and others, a distance that he will not cross. But he does feel for others. That’s why he’s sure to come for us this time, too!
Taking a hit from a shaft, the statue before Doug’s eyes shattered. Doug, who had stopped reflexively, met eyes with Serge, who had been hiding behind it. They stood still for a moment, at a loss for words.
“Doug!” Colette came running up. She had a desperate expression, as if she’d been unable to stand hiding any longer.
“It’s too dangerous, Colette, get back!”
But Colette threw herself into Doug’s arms.
“Colette! What are you doing here?” yelled Serge, but at sight of the onrushing Akuma his face twisted. “Aauuugh, get away!” Serge roughly grabbed Colette’s arm and dragged her away from Doug.
It happened in an instant.
In spite of Colette’s scream, Serge lifted her and forcibly held her towards the Akuma.
“What are you doing!?” In a panic, Doug tried to tear Serge away from Colette. However, perhaps because his life was at risk, Serge’s strength was formidable, and he kept ahold of Colette.
“You’re using this girl as a shield? You should be ashamed!”
“Shut up! This my servant! How I treat her is up to me!” cried Serge, froth flying from his lips. His eyes were bloodshot, his puerile and selfish inner character vividly revealed.
The Akuma’s body began to glow.
“Watch out!” Half-falling, Doug threw himself in front of Colette, who was being used as a shield. He spread his arms, protecting Colette.
Will my body really hold out as a shield? Doug clenched his teeth and stared at the Akuma.
The Akuma’s body shone once again.
Doug felt as if Death stood beside him, raising his scythe. He felt despair surge over him like a tidal wave.
Oh God, if you have any mercy in Your heart, at least protect this girl! Just as Doug screamed this within his heart, a familiar voice echoed through the garden.
It was like a beam of light shining through the darkness.
“Rabi!” Doug yelled from the bottom of his heart, as if driving away his despair.
He saw red hair coming towards him like a torch. Behind Rabi, the Bookman was also visible, running lightly towards them.
He did come for us! “Rabi! Be careful!”
The Akuma turned to face Rabi and the Bookman. It shot the shafts towards them one after another like missiles.
Rabi and the Bookman leapt from the ground and sailed lightly through the air. The shafts stabbed into the empty ground.
Having dodged the attack, Rabi and the Bookman touched down in front of Doug and Colette.
“Are you two okay?” asked Rabi.
“Yeah, somehow or other.” Doug felt as if he’d fall over as relief filled him.
They’d come. The only ones in the world who could defeat Akuma.
“Sorry we’re late! There were too many of those guys, so it took some work!” said Rabi.
He and the Bookman intently watched the Akuma, which planted its feet firmly in the center of the garden and let out a ferocious roar.
“A Level 2 Akuma…a formidable opponent, Rabi.” The Bookman looked at Rabi.
Rabi met his gaze and grinned. It was a trustworthy smile that kept away the slightest hint of fear. “Leave it to me! But before that…”
Rabi seized the arm of Serge, who was still using Colette as a shield. “Are you hiding behind such a small girl?” Rabi tore Serge’s arm away from Colette, then looked down coldly at him as he froze. “You’re not even worth punching.”
Released from Serge’s hold, Colette, threw herself into Doug’s arms.
“You two get away from here and hide behind a statue,” the Bookman said.
Doug nodded at the Bookman’s words and took Colette’s hand.
Rabi took ahold of his hammer. He swung it lightly, and all at once it became larger. “You take care of Colette!” Holding his hammer, which was now the size of his body, in one hand, Rabi advanced on the Akuma.
While grasping Colette’s hand, Doug gazed at Rabi’s receding figure. The same old Rabi, not showing any particular eagerness.
Seeing Rabi’s unconcerned figure was enough to make Doug feel relieved. Doug let the tension leave his body.
Serge stealthily tried to flee the garden, causing the Akuma to react. Displaying a leap unimaginable for its colossal body, it blocked Serge’s path.
“Aaaugh! Save me!”
Leaping between Serge and the Akuma, Rabi swung his hammer sideways. The hammer whizzed through the air, making a direct hit on the Akuma. There was a loud ringing sound, and the Akuma staggered.
“Are you okay, Serge?” Rabi asked.
Serge met him with a glare. “Wh-what are you doing here? You came for the diamond, didn’t you. Godammit, I told them to kill you, the useless bastards!” Serge may have become unbalanced, for he yelled the last to himself, spittle flying.
A few centimeters from where he stood, one of the Akuma’s shafts stuck out like a spear.
“Aaaah!” After a momentary silence, Serge seemed to lose his nerve completely, and let out a scream.
“So you were the one who hired those ruffians?” Rabi regarded the shaking Serge with disgust. “I don’t want to save the likes of you, but unfortunately I’m an Exorcist.”
Rabi hefted his hammer. “It’s my job to defeat Akuma!” Rabi leapt in the direction of the Akuma, which was rushing towards him headfirst. “Hah!”
Swinging his hammer high, Rabi hit its silver body with a blow that had all his strength behind it. The Akuma went flying like a ball, taking down trees as it fell.
However, there was no sign of damage as the Akuma immediately leapt up from between the trees. Rabi had felt his hammer hit. But the shafts covering its body bore not a single scratch.
“This is sure a tough Akuma.”
The Akuma curled into a sphere like a ball and began spinning in place like a top.
“It’s coming, Rabi!”
The moment the Bookman spoke, shafts came shooting out in rapid succession from the Akuma’s body, which was spinning at a high speed. The sharp shafts rained down indiscriminately in all directions.
“Agh!” Rabi went down on one knee and used his hammer as a shield. One after another, the flying shafts hit the hammer and bounced back. Keeping himself firmly in place, Rabi desperately blocked the fearsome attacks.
The flying shafts pierced the earth to encircle Serge, who was curled in a fetal position, unable to move.
The rain of shafts stopped. The Akuma, completely bare now that it had shot all its shafts, was swaying. Sharp projections broke out from its body once more.
So it was reloading. Rabi swiftly stood. “Now it’s my turn!”
Rabi leapt with all his strength and soared high. With the light of the moon shining in the dark of the night behind him, Rabi raised his hammer high.
With a crash, the hammer hit, caving in the Akuma’s side.
A deafening roar sounded, and the Akuma crashed into the earth. The ground split, creating a vast crater, as if a meteorite had fallen.
As clouds of dust rose up, Rabi grinned and touched down. “That’s about it.”
“Fool!” came the Bookman’s voice sharply.
Rabi realized that the Akuma was no longer in the center of the crater.
The moment Rabi looked up, he received a dull blow to the face. The bandanna around his head was torn off, and Rabi was slammed into the ground.
Rabi having sustained an attack from the Akuma’s sharp claws, remained prone. The Bookman seized Doug’s arm firmly when he tried to run up to Rabi. “Those who are not Exorcists must not get involved in battles with Akuma!”
Doug looked at the Bookman sharply. “But I can’t just leave him to die!” It was clear to anyone that Doug was prepared for death.
“The panda’s right…leave this to me.”
Rabi stood up unsteadily. A trickle of blood was running from his forehead. “It’s surprisingly agile considering how heavy its body looks. I got caught off-guard.” Licking the blood that ran from his mouth, Rabi lifted his hammer once more. A seriousness, foreign to the Rabi who was always cracking jokes, filled his expression. A tension surrounded him, a tension that seemed as if it would burst forth if one touched him.
“So you’ve finally started concentrating, foolish pupil,” murmured the Bookman.
“Big hammer, small hammer.” Rabi stopped his hammer short. “Grow, grow—”
Reacting to his words, the hammer became enveloped by light. A dull vibration resounded.
Rabi spoke slowly. “Grow.”
The instant the word left his mouth, the hammer grew yet larger.
“Whoah!” A cry involuntarily escaped Doug’s lips.
It was a remarkable scene. The hammer, wreathed in light, was now the size of a house. Rabi, who had about the same build as Doug, was holding it easily. At this extraordinary sight, not only Colette, but Doug, who had seen Rabi fight before, held their breath.
“Now then, can you withstand this one?”
When it saw Rabi’s hammer, the Akuma gradually gathered the crystals covering its body into one, leaving its legs visible. The crystals became a single giant shaft with a sharp point.
Rabi regarded the Akuma, which looked like a strange unicorn. “A contest of strength? Just what I wanted.”
He lifted his hammer to meet the Akuma, which was heading straight towards him.
“Aaaugh!” Swung like a bat, the hammer collided violently with the Akuma.
With a crumbling sound, cracks appeared in the Akuma’s body.
“This is the end!” Rabi hit the now-unmoving Akuma with his hammer.
Riing—with a clear and beautiful sound of destruction, the Akuma’s crystal went flying into pieces. Rabi gave a victorious smile.
The transparent shards scattered, reflecting the light of the moon. At this fantastic sight, like wildly dancing silver butterflies, even the crouching Serge was captivated, his mouth open.
It seemed that Serge, miraculously, was safe despite having been in the middle of such a fierce battle.
He has the devil’s own luck. It’s true what they say about ill weeds flourishing, thought Rabi.
“Rabi! You did it!” Pulling Colette along by the hand, Doug came running up.
:Hey, Colette, were you okay?” asked Rabi.
“Yes. Doug protected me, so I was fine.” Colette looked up at Doug with eyes full of trust.
Rabi put a hand to his head. “Man, this sappy love talk is hurting me the most!”
Doug tightly hugged the wryly smiling Rabi.
Rabi was a little surprised by the fervent embrace of Doug, usually so reserved. “Whoa, Doug, aren’t you hugging the wrong person?”
“Thank you. Because you and the Bookman came for us, Colette and I are still alive. I’m truly grateful.” Doug’s arms tightened around Rabi.
Doug’s honest feelings of gratitude slowly filled Rabi along with his warmth. Rabi patted Doug’s back. “I’m an Exorcist. Taking care of Akuma is my job.”
“Will your wound be all right?” Pulling back, Doug put a hand to Rabi’s forehead.
“Yeah, it’s just a scratch.”
“But to defeat a Level 2 Akuma so easily…that’s amazing, Rabi.”
“Not really, they’re pretty easy.” As Rabi swelled out his chest, the Bookman hit his head from behind. “Ow!”
“Don’t get carried away, you amateur!”
“Now, now, Bookman. He did defeat it, after all.”
The Bookman snorted at Doug’s intercession. “He’s too soft! And he slipped up!”
At that moment, Rabi stepped on something hard. Looking closely, he saw that it was a silver chain. Around it, glittering shards of diamond were scattered.
It was the pendant that Jerome had been wearing. It appeared that when Rabi had defeated the Akuma, the pendant had shattered along with it.
“Well, let’s go back.” Rabi patted Doug’s shoulder.
Rabi turned at the voice calling his name. Colette was staring up at him intently.
“That’s the first time you’ve called me by name, Colette. What’s wrong?”
“I was thinking that it’s just like Doug said. You’ll come for sure. And you’ll defeat the Akuma, he said.”
Rabi looked at Doug in surprise. Doug gave a carefree smile.
“Thank you, Rabi,” said Colette.
At her words, Rabi threw his chest out shamelessly. “Indeed. Try to be properly grateful!” he said with great exaggeration, trying to make a joke of it. The complete trust Colette and Doug showed in him caused some warm emotion to well up unexpectedly, and he was trying to hide it. “Now then, let’s go!”
The four of them, with Rabi in the lead, left the forest with its flying bats behind them.
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