Author's Notes: Well, here's the first chapter. This story is a sequel to my previous one - Dante: Child Assassin. You don't really have to read the prequel to read this story but you would understand the plot more if you do. I don't know if this plot will go well because I haven't really fully thought it through, just merely have a vague idea of the entire thing. And yea, I feel weird right now, when writing the fighting scenes because uh, there aren't soul weapons anymore ( the only one who has is Dante ).

Yea, have fun reading this. And if you like it, please review. Thx!

Chapter 1 --- Death of A Reaper

Number Twelve slung the silver scythe onto his shoulder and carried the weight of it across the hall. His beady eyes glowered like tiny little chunks of burning coals beneath the darkness of the black hood drooped over his forehead.

There was neither smile nor grin draped over his mouth. His features were tight and very serious. Number Twelve was always like this, and so were his other siblings.

He calmly stepped through the crowd in the school hall, literally. He passed through them as if he was a ghost, as if they were the air, merely images displayed like holograms, only living ones.

Number Twelve easily ignored the noisy crowd of students surrounding him. They were black and white images. And the only coloured image shimmering, glimmering and beckoning to him, was the soul.

Not really a soul though, for it wasn't dead yet. Number Twelve glanced patiently at his pendulum wrist watch. Thirty-seven more seconds.

He wasn't late. There was still time. Number Twelve stood erected by the glowing man. The man was marked for death.

Number Twelve looked to his pendulum wrist watch again and then to the man. There were the tiny details of the man's death inscribed onto the watch. The Reaper nodded his head patiently as it ticked the final death count, a sound heard only by his own ears.

"Mr. Gregory, age fourth-seven, date of death, Fourth of May, One-six-four-eight hours, twenty-five seconds, cause of death, heart failure."

Number Twelve looked away from his watch and found the man's shell collapsing onto the floor. Gregory's soul was hovering above it, staring down at his own body.

"Hello, Mr. Gregory. I'm Number Twelve. Nice to meet you."

The Reaper nodded his hooded head and raised his robed arm to swoop his silver scythe across the man's soul.

There. Another soul harvested. Number Twelve stared at the dissipating soul and swung his scythe back onto his own shoulder. There was a sharp tremble from his pendulum wrist watch and Number Twelve turned his ruby cold eyes to its surface.

There was another soul waiting to be harvested in two minutes. He had to be there fast. Number Twelve flipped the scythe forged of aetheric silver in his hands and tore a portal right through the space before him. He then stepped right through it and into another portion of the universe.

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The man fated to die within two minutes was a gifted one. Number Twelve sat silently by the man in the library. He squinted his bloodshot eyes at the tiny inscriptions on the watch. After a while of making out what the tiny words meant, Number Twelve turned to the man, who was merely seventeen years of age, a student in the medical school.

"Mister … Raphael … according to my watch, you can see me."

The man did not respond but merely continued to read his book by the table quietly.

"Well, there isn't any point in ignoring me. You will have to die in fifty-one seconds."

Raphael raised his eyebrow and scribbled a line of words onto the book.

I can't speak to you now. Nobody else apart from me can see you. People will think that I am mad if I talk to you in public. Follow me to the toilet and we will speak.

Raphael tore the page off and held it in the air for a moment to allow Number Twelve to read it. He then crumpled and crushed it with his balled fist, stood up from the table and made his way to the toilet.

Number Twelve shrugged his shoulders and looked to his pendulum wrist watch.

"You have forty seconds, make it fast."

Raphael nodded to no one in particular and jogged to the toilet. Number Twelve floated swiftly behind, not bothering to turn round the curves, but just flying straight through the walls and bookshelves.

"You have twenty-three seconds more till your death."

Number Twelve counted down slowly, referring to his wrist watch now and then. They reached the male toilet.

"So, what do you want to tell me?" Number Twelve sat onto the sink and twirled the silver scythe in his hands. There was no reflection of the Reaper in the mirror behind him.

"I have been able to see you since young. Men cloaked and draped in black robes, wielding a shiny silver scythe and reaping souls of the dead. All I see of you guys are your eyes. But I don't get why each time I see you people, your eyes change their colours. Like yours are red and the previous one I saw a few days ago were green."

"There are thirteen of us Reapers. I'm Number Twelve. The Reaper with green eyes is my elder brother, Number Five."

"Really? Thanks."

"You shouldn't be asking such useless questions. You will be dead in six seconds."

"Number … Twelve … you are number twelve aren't you?"

"Yes."

"Are you Reapers ranked accordingly to strength or something?"

"Yes. The first to be created would be stronger than those who are born later. For example, Number Five would be stronger than me."

"Who created you guys?"

"You sure are inquisitive. But you will be dying anyway. God created us, who else?"

Number Twelve was caught in surprise by a swift blow to his chin and his scythe was snatched from his hands. The teenager, Raphael then slashed a lethal cut across the Reaper's chest and began his escape from the Reaper.

"Idiot! You can touch me! Damn! I was careless!"

Number Twelve collapsed to his knees and beckoned to his brothers for help. He repeatedly transmitted distress signals to all twelve brothers who were roaming the other parts of the world.

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"What happened to you, Azrael?"

"Bro … brother … I was reckless. I didn't realize that he could … could touch me! Such mortals with powers of sight so strong are rare! He stole my scythe! You will not be able to perform to Healing Rite on me without my own scythe. Please help me retrieve it. I will wait here for you."

Number Five looked down to his brother and with a swoop of his robed arm, he carried his brother out of the room and ascended quickly to the rooftop.

"Wait here for me, Azrael. You must."

"Where are the others?"

"There are busy and can only spare me. Already they have helped to cover up for my lost work and I will need to return soon. I will save you, young one, as you have saved me before. Stay here and be awake till I return."

Number Twelve nodded and bit his lips against the searing pain in his chest. A wound inflicted by his scythe can only be healed with its blade. If nothing was done to seal the wound within an hour, he would lose too much aether that his existence would be erased.

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Number Five raced across the evening sky. He was able to sense the presence of his brother's scythe in the alleys below. The death of the teenager who stole his brother's weapon was long overdue by three minutes.

Number Five frowned and tracked the teeanger's path with his mind along the alleys. He swooped down into one of them and waited for the teenager's arrival.

Within seconds, Raphael stumbled into the alley as Number Five had thought.

"I … I thought I killed you?"

"I'm a different one. And no, my brother is not dead yet, merely wounded."

"Number Five?"

"How'd you know?"

"You have green eyes." The teenager steadied the stolen scythe in his hands and panted furiously. He leaned against the brick walls and stared at the Reaper, carefully maintaining their distance.

"Return that scythe to me."

"And you will spare my life?"

Number Five shook his head. "No. You are destined to die. I cannot let you be."

"But I want to live! I'm only so young!"

"This is the way of the world, I have no choice in these matters. Time decides death, not us. We merely reap souls of the dead and send them for reincarnations in the Vessel of God."

"But … but …."

"No buts. Return my brother's scythe. I need to heal him."

The teenager roared in a fit of helpless anger and ran away from the Reaper. He knew it was useless but he still had to run.

Number Five scraped his scythe against the air and transported himself through the fabric of the world to the front of Raphael.

"Give me back the scythe!"

"No!"

"I said give me back! My brother's life is at stake!"

"And so is mine! You said that time would kill me! But it hasn't! And you cannot kill me too! As long as I'm holding this scythe, I am spared from death, am I right?"

Raphael snapped at Number Five cunningly.

"You are right but only half of it. You will not die while holding onto the scythe but once you release it, death will cast itself upon you. But I can kill you if time does not. Behold, Number Five of the Thirteen Scythes, the Scythe of Blood!"

Number Five swung his scythe through the air threateningly and charged his strength into it. The curved blade of the scythe glowed a deep red and threw an aura of a similar colour around the Reaper.

The Reaper then charged towards Raphael with his red scythe drawn and flaming hot. There was a swift collision between two scythes as Raphael raised his stolen scythe too and parried the Reaper's blow. The two were thrown back by the impact – Number Five landed lightly and skillfully onto the path, a few feet back, while Raphael crashed into a pile of garbage bags by the dumpsters which cushioned his fall.

Raphael climbed up awkwardly and stood himself still again, waiting for the next strike from the Reaper. He found his wounds healing and broken ribs regenerating at fast speeds.

Number Five sized up the teenager with his green eyes …

Damn … Is Number Twelve deteriorating so fast? The more aether he loses, the more this boy will gain … I must kill him now … But if I force the boy too much, he may very well discover the way to drain more aether from Azrael's soul through the scythe.

Number Five sliced the air with his scythe again and transported himself to Raphael's side. The boy was already prepared for such an attack and had readied his scythe to block the Reaper's blow. The alley was lit up by the collision again and the two were pried apart by the colliding forces.

This time, Raphael was not sent back but stood his ground and so was Number Five. The teenager was now bathed in a dark black aura and his scythe was pulsating with the darkness within it.

This is Azrael's aether, what is it doing in the mortal? Has the fight drained Azrael too much? Is he dead?

Number Five scanned for his mental link with Azrael and found it intact. The Reaper heaved a sigh of relief and focused back onto the battle.

It was too late. A minute amount of distraction was enough for Raphael to cut into the Reaper's black robes. Number Five staggered back and slashed his scythe wildly back at the mortal. The Reaper's brief moment of mindless attacks forced the teenager back and the burning blade of his scythe marked Raphael on his left cheek.

Raphael was getting stronger as time passed and he knew it himself. He merely had to wait an hour or perhaps even shorter for the death of Azrael, Number Twelve and he would be as powerful as a Reaper.

Number Five would not allow that though.

The teenager and the Messenger of Death battled their way down the alley but each could not leave any marks on the other.

He's almost as strong as Azrael now. Damn!

Number Five re-checked for his link with the Number Twelve but found it severed.

Number Twelve!

No reply.

Azrael! Number Twelve!

There was still no reply.

"He's dead. I can feel it. You can too, right?" Raphael sneered and sniggered at the desperate Reaper.

Number Five howled in anger and flicked his scythe out at the teenager, this time with greater vigour and ferocity. Yet, Raphael had already prepared himself for it and merely leapt to a side and watched the destruction of the pavement.

"That was not my full strength, Mortal Boy." Number Five challenged coldly. "I was afraid that using my full strength would force you to drain too much from my brother. He's dead now. And with that, I can put my full power to use and avenge his death."

There was a blinding flash as the Reaper was bathed in a stronger aura of swirling crimson. When the aura receded a little, the Reaper was draped in a red cloak, mounted atop his black Reaper robes.

"For my brother …… die …"

The Reaper easily stepped out of time and right into Raphael's soul. He then dispersed it with his burning scythe and broke out of it.

Raphael stood, clinging onto his many shards of existence. He appeared whole but a brief loss of concentration would lead to utter disintegration of his soul.

"I lost …" he whispered.

"Of course you would. I am many times stronger than Number Twelve. I was born seven millenia before him."

Number Five waved his hand briefly and crushed the mortal's mind to nothingness.

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Dante shuddered feverishly and clung weakly to his blankets. He had been sick ever since his fencing spar with Jason. The momentary activation of his godly powers had sapped him of whatever strength he had in his mortal frame.

Dante wondered what if he had activated it for a longer duration …

Would he have died? He didn't think so. Perhaps his mortal frame would die, but his existence on a whole would retreat back into his shell within the earth's core. There, he would cultivate for a few millennia and regain more aether.

But he couldn't afford to lose his mortal form, not now out of all times. Rukia was in this time and he wouldn't miss it … ever.

This brief decades of her existence, he would spend them all with her. Even if she did not knew it, even if she was not his.

He would wait.

There was a huge tremor within his soul. All three levels of his soul, the mortal frame, the one residing in the earth's core and the one fused into time itself.

Dante frowned and struggled to sit up in his bed despite the fatigue in his body

One of the Reapers is dead. I can't tell who it is from this distance and with my weakness now. There is a disruption in the Vessel of God. One of the thirteen channels has been ruptured. Damn …

He knew that the rupturing of part of the Vessel would mean that out of every thirteen souls fresh from their corpses, one would remain in the world for there was no Reaper to fetch them nor a channel available for their reincarnation.

Dante forced himself to read the signals from the Vessel again.

Azrael, the twelfth Reaper, the Reaper of sight! How did he die? Damn! His death would mean that those gifted with levels of chi above average would not be purged … Which means this world will be full of those gifted with sight! Gah, I will have to recover as soon as possible to resurrect Azrael.

Yet the problem was much worse … If only Dante knew …

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Raphael gathered the various shards of his soul drifting aimlessly in the wind. With his remaining will, he commanded his existence back to his living apartments. There in his room, he willed the reformation of his soul and materialized back into his mortal form.

He was weak, but still much stronger than his fellow mortals.

There was no longer a scythe in his hands. It had fused into his soul.

And with that, he was immortal and granted supernatural strength. He would not die. Raphael's strength was now equivalent to that of a Reaper.

Yet there was something bugging him, something from deep within his heart. There was a new craving in his soul.

His wounds had healed. But there was still a scar fixed onto his cheek. The scar inflicted by Number Five's scythe.

Raphael suddenly screamed and gasped for air. The craving was stronger now that his mind was alert and aware of it. It was a hunger to be attended to. Raphael pounded his fists at his chest and knelt to the ground, hugging his knees and balled his form onto the floor.

What … what had Number Five called his scythe?

Scythe of Blood …

"BLOOD!" Raphael roared, his eyes shrinking into cold red slits.

There was the ringing of his doorbell. Someone was here. Raphael clawed his way across the floor to the door and answered it.

It was his girlfriend.

Blood.