Standing at the Edge of Eternity
Disclaimer: I own the original characters and nothing else... It doesn't account for much, but it's still something.
Chapter One: Reflecting on the edge.
Being as he was, the Soul of Minato Arisato wasn't very aware of what was going on. Being locked in stone and holding back the immeasurable power of a goddess wasn't exactly an easy task, it took all of the will that the fragmented soul could gather. Being locked where he was, in a place outside of time and beyond reach, the ephemeral being no longer really had any connection to anything, his friends, his corpse, and just barely could he feel the dark Lady Nyx sealed behind him.
They'd been in "negotiations" for... a very long time. He could feel what she wanted, and she could feel what he wanted against her own machinations, but no real words had ever passed between the two. It was more an empathetic connection the two shared, neither side any stronger than the other, there was no turning point, and privately the soul felt, no longer any meaning. For a long time there had been a kind of background noise, a slight buzz that could be felt more than it could be heard, but it had long faded.
Minato was sure that had been the life of the world, snuffed out some time ago. He didn't know how long it had been gone, and he didn't know how long it had lasted... Time, here, had no real meaning.
The new sound, something akin to footsteps almost forced his concentration to waver. Minato held fast, however, unsure if the goddess could be released should he fail his vigil. There were new sounds though, talking, or shouting, or perhaps someone was merely mumbling to themselves so close to his cage that he could almost hear them.
He could've ignored that, but he could not, regardless of how hard he may have been willing to try, ignore the swell of panic he felt as his stone body, the cage that housed his soul, was ripped from its position and tossed aside, to break, to shatter.
For the first time in countless ages he could see again! He could really hear and see and even feel the world around his luminescent form, and with his released senses what he saw brought him immeasurable horror.
A person stood in front of the gaping hole where he'd been positioned, black tentacles flailing at him from the hole but... there was something holding them back, something that Minato couldn't quite see. It was there, something, he could feel it, and if he squinted he could almost make out a slight shift in the air. He didn't get enough of a chance to examine it before the person, poor fool that he was, stepped into the seals wound amidst the writhing ecchi.
That terror was soon replaced by confusion as the tentacles retracted into the seal and Minato could hear the sound of flesh meeting flesh. He quickly mustered his courage and stepped over to the hole and looked in, only to jump out of the way as a body was sent flying out.
This wasn't the same person who stepped into the seal, that had been a man, taller than Minato and wearing a cloak. This was a very... Shapely blonde woman with grey skin in an evening gown. She didn't look very good at the moment though, her gown was ripped in places and there were deep gouges in many places on her body.
"Move!" A dark voice behind him growled out. Minato turned around sharply to come face to face with the man that was attacking her. He looked into a mismatched pair of eyes, and he felt fear. Then he felt pain as he was backhanded out of the monsters path.
The man's right hand rose up out of his cloak, more a fleshless claw, and struck down, piercing the fleeing, blubbering womans neck. Black blood slowly seeped out of the mortal wound and then turned into a black, mist-like vapor that Minato was extremely familiar with. The result of a dead shadow... The rest of the womans body slowly turned into that vapor, and then disappeared into the man's cloak.
"But that's only half..." The beasts gaze focused on Minato now, and Minato knew that this man was no human. That one eye, and the other a floating orb, they both held a sense of power, more foreign than any persons, and infinitely more frightening than that of even the goddess Nyx.
"Boy... Who are you, to be so tainted from my power? To hide this fragment from me, for so long... Who are you?" The monsters voice was far more pleasant when he wasn't growling and killing things. His posture, what little could be seen, was now relaxed and calm. Minato looked around the dark place that housed him for an indefinite period of time as he thought about his response.
"I'm Arisato Minato, it's nice to meet you." Minato bowed politely to the figure, unsure if manners would matter at all to this... thing.
"That's it? A name? Grab a piece of dirt kid, we aren't goin' nowhere 'till you tell me what the hell's been goin' on."
It had actually taken a lot of probing from the man for Minato to tell him the whole story. Even then Minato had probably skimmed over some other detail that was probably important to everybody but himself.
"This ain't good, kid." The man said after a period of silence at the end of the story.
"I got pretty damn sick of dealing with kids sealing themselves away or sacrificing their souls to keep some power alive or some monster away. I got sick of it when I started hunting down every Mana Tree in every existence. Don't take it badly or nothin', I think you did the right thing, don't mean I like it though. Get up, c'mon, we're gonna go find that velvet room you mentioned. We gotta find the other half of Nyx, and you're comin' along." The person got up and stretched before he started hopping down the steps two at a time... until he tripped on the hem of his flaring cloak and fell the rest of the way down. Minato followed along at a more sedate pace.
Finding the Velvet Room wasn't all that hard, it was the only actual doorway in the bleak existence they were in. More noticeable, to Minato at least, was the gaping tear in space that the rude interloper must have come from.
The velvet room... Aside from a few new layers of dust, didn't look as if it had aged at all... If you ignore the mummified remains of Igor and the oddly tall pile of dust next to him.
"This place is... Odd. I didn't think a fate would've made such a room." The man was inspecting every corner of the room, going so far as to push aside the corpse of the long nosed man, and even scrounge through the pockets!
"There's no down switch so... You might want to hold on to something." Minato barely had enough time to look confused before that thing, that invisible something around the monster shifted and he heard tearing metal. The elevator like room screeched as it dropped a few inches, throwing him off balance, and then plummeted! Minato was thrown straight into the roof, impacting hard. The rude man who'd yet to give his name suffered the same problem, but he also hit his head on the way up.
Thankfully, the furniture seemed to be bolted down.
Minato was content to bask in his terror as they plummeted to a sure death (re-death?), but the strange man was crab walking, along the ceiling of all things, as the room fell, planting these long, spear like object all along the wall, facing out. Where he got those objects was what Minato really wanted to know.
After roughly half an hour of this terrified silence his murderer finally spoke up.
"We should be about back to where this whole fiasco of yours really started, so brace yourself, I'm hittin' the brakes." Minato hardly had the ability to move his head at these speeds, much less do anything. The spears all fired out, propelled by the mans power, right through the walls into whatever surrounded the velvet room. The metal screamed, and Minato hit the floor with near bonecrushing force. He shakily stood up to look at the monster, unsure what had just happened.
"Well kid, we're then. Not sure of the exact time we've fallen back to, but it's before you signed Death's contract from Fate. Hate not doin' this myself, but kid, I got one heckuva story for ya." The Man walked back over to Igor's seat, and just kicked the corpse over, and then kicked it a few more times 'till he was apparently satisfied. Then he sat down, well, more like laid down, and motioned for Minato to take his seat across from him. He gingerly sat down, unsure if the chair would simply fall apart from age.
Luckily for him, it didn't.
"I'm not goin' to go into the details of what happened to me, but Nyx isn't supposed to be here. Her power, the power to end worlds, is a twisted bastardization of some fragments of power stolen from me. She's the last of these fragments, but the one I killed back there, that lady you had sealed away, only had half of what was s'posed to be there. Somewhere along the timeline she got split, she's long ago matured the full power, before you ask, so the fragments don't really matter to her anymore, so long as she can manifest she can kill everything."
"Now, that's the second problem for me. I'm the top boss of death, which isn't as interesting as it sounds. I'm the cleanup guy for when whole planets die, and I'm the cleanup guy for when one of the other death's go's and makes a mess of things, like getting themselves killed. Nyx and her shadows here caused some major problems, and due to the laws here, I can't just go and slaughter them. Not bein' a god, I don't get a pass, either, for when a bunch of people pray to me. I ain't allowed to physically manifest into this world until it dies. Period." Minato was starting to get an idea where this was going. He didn't like it.
"So kid, I'm goin' to cut you a deal. I need someone here to kill her for me, and you're the only one I can directly get a hold of. I got four things I can give ya' straight up to sweeten the deal, so how 'bout it?" Minato looked pensive as he stared at the recumbent figure in front of him.
Agree to hear him out?
Are you sure?
Are you sure?
Agree to hear him out?
The man jumped to his feet and walked around to Minato, a strange smile on his face.
"First thing you got kid is time, we're already back in the past after the whole thing really began, but before it got started, so that was the dummy prize either way. Hang on a sec, I'm only counting these two things as one." The strange man was rummaging around in his cloak, strange bulges were appearing and disappearing in the sides before his mismatched hands came back out, holding an odd weapon in each. In his skeletal hand was a black sword, around it colors seemed dim. In his normal hand was a gun, definitely not an evoker, which had a strange crystal going up the barrel that was clear green.
"The sword is of my own make, guaranteed to cut into anything that was made here in the living world, regardless of how indestructible it's supposed to be. Nothing can block. I'm not a gunsmith, but I made the parts that made this gun, so it's got most of the same properties, but the real nice thing about it is the crystal. It converts your excess spiritual energy into the ammunition. In the right hands, it's more exhausting to fire the gun than it is to swing the sword, but I'll let you figure out how to do things yourself." Minato took the weapons, surprised. It was normally ridiculously expensive to get anything worthwhile.
"Now, I found this key on the dead old guy over there" The strange man pointed to the dried up husk of Igor "but I can't give it to ya' as it is, 'cuz it'll just be the same key to the same room when you sign that old man's contract, but" The man just turned the key around, and as it flipped sides it turned silver. "now, when you use this at the doorways you mentioned, you'll come to this room instead... I'll have it cleaned up before you do, alright?" Minato stuffed the Silver Key in his breast pocket so as not to jostle the gun.
"The final thing... This might hurt a bit, kid, but it should be worth it." Minato's eyes widened as the same claw he used to kill Lady Nyx was thrust into his stomach. It didn't hurt the same way he expected it to... It felt as if he had burning ice being shoved into his head through his stomach, as odd as it sounded he could think of no better description.
"That power you have... I have nothing like it. But I do command death in all its forms, so congratulations, you have a new persona. I think it should be called the Shadow of Death, it's the more powerful, primordial form of your persona Thanatos. Instead of enhancing your sword skills, which considering what you fight skill isn't really necessary, it lets you be more aware of how best to use a blade. Like if you need to hack here and stab there, and where to put your sword to block. He's resistant to all forms of death, not just death through darkness. I don't know if you'll want to show him to Igor or Elizabeth, but that's up to you." Minato shakily stood from his chair when the person pulled his hand out of Minato's stomach, showing that whatever he'd done hadn't even damaged his clothes.
As he made his way to the door he was stopped by the parting message of the odd man.
"Good luck out there Minato, and if you ever need anything out there... You can call me Dread."
Minato nodded and opened the door, filling the room with light as he returned to the living world.