Hell 01: Dark New World

Takuto woke to a woman's shrieks..

He was in darkness, lying against a cold coarse wet floor. The screams gained in intensity, seemingly echoing in the dim.

"What- Where am I?" Takuto lifted himself from the ground, his damp clothes clinging to his body. He heard shuffling and scattered whimpers, amidst the screams.

"Hello?" He whispered into the darkness.

"Taku-chi?" came a disembodied voice, "Taku-chi, is that you?"

"Luna? Luna, I can't see you."

"Follow my voice, Taku-chi!"

Takuto ventured a step, then another. His foot knocked against something rigid and cold. Takuto eased his way over the shin-high obstacle and continued forward. In the gloom, Takuto could just make out Luna's face, pale and terrified.

"Taku-chi, what's going on? Who's that screaming?"

"I don't know, but we're definitely not in the school grounds anymore."

Other voices rose from the darkness, all and Tsukasa's voices could be heard amongst other students in the distance, frantically whispering to one another. Serena-sensei's quavering voice called out to the shrieking girl. Yuga's calm voice instructed everyone to form a chain link. The whole of Class 3-C fumbled in the dark.

Slowly, as Takuto's eyes adjusted, he took in his surroundings. Class 3-C were in a wide, dark room surrounded by stone walls. The only light source was a faint blue illumination that glowed between the cracks. Monolithic statues stood in each corner of the room. Straining his already taxed vision, Takuto saw each obsidian block was carved into the likeness of a dragon. Takuto shuddered. Despite their lifelessness, he felt unnerved by their stares.

Tanya's giant form cut through the gloom, drawn by Luna's voice, Naiku was close on her heels.

"Tank-chan," Luna clung to the giant's arm. Tanya patted Luna's head with a shaking-bloody hand.

The unknown screams redoubled in their vigor. Takuto could just make out a crumpled heap in the centre of the room. He turned and tore the knees of his trousers in his hurry to be by her side.

"Are you okay? Where does it hurt?"

Serena-sensei was already by the girl's side, looking in silent horror. Below her skirt, the girl's pale legs were bent at awful angles and discoloured. Tears cascaded down her red eyes as she shrieked. Pain and anguish covered her familiar face. Her uniform was ripped in various places and her shoulder length white hair was caked in blood.

"Kilia-san, are you okay?" Takuto reached out to his classmate, but she slapped his hand away and glared at him through her tears, a new emotion was added to her face.

"Don't touch me, Chihana!" She cursed before returning her gaze back to her disfigured legs. "His blood is on your hands!"

Takuto stared at his hand. It was dyed red, as were his shirt and shoes. The horrible stench of iron filled his nostrils and the cold drenched shirt was ice against his skin. Takuto ripped off his bloody shirt and took many deep breaths.

Where did this blood come from? It couldn't be... Takuto retraced his steps to where he previously laid. Luna's voice fell on deaf ears as he walked in silent trance.

And there it lay.

Takuto's legs gave out under him. He fell on all fours as his stomach turned and retched onto the granite. That corpse was once a classmate, the one who pushed Takuto out the way to escape, only to die seconds later. The corpse gave a faint glug as blood seeped from the glistening stump. Although it was not his intention, he had saved Takuto's life.

Another thought came to Takuto, one that scared him. "Who...are...you…?" He asked the decapitated corpse. I know you're my classmate but…Takuto tried to picture the face of the headless boy, but it was no good. His mind was a blur, the boy's face a mosaic. What colour was his hair? What about his eyes? Was he a friend? Was he kind or cruel? Just who was he? Tears escaped Takuto's eyes. This boy had been Takuto's classmate, perhaps for many years, yet he had forgotten about him within a moment. When he tried to remember his mind blanked, the boy's history was a white page. The guilt and sight of the corpse churned Takuto's insides into a horrible blend. He shuddered violently as his body ejected further substances. The feeling assaulted Takuto and his body trembled with shock. The bloodied corpse blurred and swirled in his vision. He began to hyperventilate.

"Takuto-kun!"

"Takuto!"

Footsteps echoed over to Takuto's side. A strong hand began patting his back. Tsukasa's squatting image came into focus in front of him. She took his chin and forced his eyes to meet hers. "Takuto-kun, calm down. Listen to me and take deep breaths. Slowly!" Takuto looked into Tsukasa's eyes and forced himself to take slow ragged breaths. He soon regained control of his breathing and the twitches in his body ceased.

"Don't feel guilty, Chihana," Reigo's voice stated. Takuto made out the delinquent's silhouette in the dim, "&$£*^% reaped what he sowed." Reigo winced as he eased off his jacket and placed it over their classmate's body.

What?

"Reigo-kun, &$£*^%-san was your classmate, how can you say something so cruel?" The voice of Serena-sensei shouted at the delinquent.

I can't….I can't even hear his name? Takuto's ears refused to hear his fallen classmate's name. Like a broken record, his brain skipped over the name.

"Taku-chi!" Luna flew into Takuto's chest and clutched onto him tightly. "Are you feeling okay now? No more butterflies in your stomach?"

"I'm fine," Takuto was about to wrap his arms around Luna but recalled his hand was covered in blood. His shudders returned. Luna noticed him staring at his bloody hand and grabbed his hands and moved them to her back. The blood on his hands spread to her uniform.

"Taku-chi, I'm scared," Luna's body trembled, "So don't concern yourself with appearance and hold me."

At Luna's words Takuto strengthened his hold on his childhood friend. Slowly their mutual trembling ceased.

As Takuto and Luna comforted each other, Reigo continued debating with Serena-sensei.

"Tch, say what you want, Serena, but there's no denying that what he did was screwed up." Reigo spat.

Reigo's comment drew several dark looks from his classmates. Voices rose in dissent but were swiftly quelled.

"Calm down, everyone!" The one who shouted was the student council president, Yuga. "Now is not the time to argue amongst ourselves. We must come together and figure out what happened."

"Ah, as to be expected of the president," A girl muttered.

"He's a natural leader," Another said.

"Tch, what a mask." Reigo spat on the ground and strode away.

The classmates looked at Yuga with shining eyes. Reigo on the other hand was smashed with hushed slander. Suddenly a source of light flooded the dark hall. A small door opened at the far end and two silhouettes entered.

"My, oh my, Looks like quite the turnout," the smaller silhouette declared, "As to be expected of you, Victoria,"

"I'm honoured by your words, Princess Aine," The larger silhouette bowed in reverence.

High-heels clattered in self-import as the smaller silhouette strode into the room. With a sharp finger snap, the room erupted into light. A wave of shock swept through Class 3-C as their maladjusted eyes seared under the interrogative -blind, Takuto focused on the figure,

Princess Aine, was similar in height to Luna but confidence exhumed from her body. Her long blonde hair was parted into a pair of cork-screw locks that spilled over her shoulders. Her clothing reeked of affluence. Her white dress was decorated in immodest gold and silver ornaments that jingled as she walked. A tiara embedded with a large cut opal rested on her brow, framing her eyebrows into a cruel arch.

Aine looked down on the students. Her crimson eyes cut through them with an appraising sweep. Takuto felt Luna shudder in his arms, and he responded alike. His eyes involuntarily dropped to the floor to avoid the piercing stare.

Several students visibly flinched as the Princess scanned them, one by one.

Despite her facade of self indulgence, one thing remained clear to the students.

She is dangerous.

"I pray your new acquisitions suit your tastes, Princess," the one named Victoria said with another bow. Her womanly figure was covered by a white robe with decorative chains dangling loosely from it. Her waist length lilac hair breezed back and forth with every step. Her expression void, she remained silent behind Aine. It was clear whom was the superior.

"Indeed they do," Aine arched her head to Victoria. "The great goddess, Zenith-sama, has blessed us greatly." she smiled and turned back to Class 3-C.

The students stood, panic stricken and trembling. When a weaker animal is confronted by a stronger one they know the danger by instinct.

"Please, if I may." Yuga emerged from the students and slowly walked up the stairs towards Aine. The student council president edged to the small predator. "Are you the ones who brought us here?" he asked.

Aine looked down on Yuga, a bored expression on her face.

"If it's money you want," Yuga started, "Many of our classmates come from wealthy families, I'm sure they'd be glad to pay any price to get their beloved child back. If you can-"

Takuto watched, baffled. What is that idiot doing?

Yuga waffled on, inanely. Takuto looked at the rest of 3-C. Many looked as bewildered as he, however, some caught the hint. Reigo met Tsukasa's eyes. Tsukasa gave the slightest of nods.

Slowly, Reigo reached into his back pocket and withdrew a set of house keys. Silently, he balled his fist around the keys, holding a jagged nub of metal between each finger. Tsukasa nonchalantly tucked her hair into the neckline of her uniform, a long hairpin glinted in her palm. Takuto's heart hammered in his throat. No.

Wordlessly Tanya placed herself in front of Takuto and Luna, her uniform creaked from the straining muscles. Please stop. Trembling, Naiku got to his feet, a loose rock the size of a paper weight tapped rhythmically against his thigh. Don't

As Yuga stalled, Class 3-C braced to attack.

Takuto clutched Luna in his bloodstained arms. Hasn't there been enough death?

Tiring of Yuga, Aine's hard eye's read the room in an instant. She yawned ostentatiously, turned to Victoria and nodded, "Do it."

Victoria took out a small device and pressed a button. In that instant the obsidian dragons on the room's outskirts came to life. Stalagmite teeth glittered wickedly as their jaws tore open and bore down on class 3-C, Class 3-C erupted into chaos. Luna shrieked and flailed in Takuto's arms. Stock still, Takuto stared into the dripping maw of the nearest dragon. Wind whipped at his clothes as each monolithic dragon took a single huge breath. Then haze tore from their jaws and instantly filled the room.

Takuto instinctively breathed in. The air suddenly tasted sharp and acidic causing him to splutter. Around him, the room had dissolved into a mass of coughs and wheezes, punctuated by the occasional cry. Suddenly the air turned to fire in his lungs.

"URGHH!" All the students fell to the floor writhing in pain. Just breathing sent pain throughout their bodies.

They contorted and rolled, holding their necks as their throats seared, their sides felt like they would explode.

Takuto in his agony gripped Luna tighter the childhood friends strengthened their embrace.

Reigo endured whilst grinding his back teeth. He wrapped his arms and shielded Serena-sensei and Tsukasa's heads as they writhed in pain their bodies moved against their will like an epilepsy. Reigo grunted as his arm was forced against the ground, his shield working but this meant he had to endure more.

Aine descended the step, her eyes glittered with ecstasy. She looked down at Yuga, whom groveled at her feet.

Aine stabbed her heel into Yuga's chest, and twists her ankle, Yuga grunts in agony as he pleaded to Aine with his eyes. "You have no right to approach me." Aine said coldly whilst pushing him down the stairs with her heel. Yuga's flailing body slammed against each step.

He came to a stop In a crumpled heap. Through jagged breaths, Yuga stared at Aine through bloodshot eyes.

I will remember this...mark my words… He glared defiantly his pain subsiding at account of his anger, yet his body was still immobilised.

Naiku held his burning chest with one hand, whilst reaching his other towards his player. The music played and Naiku closed his eyes slowed his breathing to short, shallow breaths. Naiku closed his eyes and concentrated his senses only on the music. He heard his fellow classmates screech. He turned up the volume. Forget the pain. Naiku matched his shallow breathing to the music's rhythm.

Aine looked down with a smile, that only widened. "So it's true that Otherworlders don't have Aethergait. Victoria, put them under it before their bodies can adjust. It'll be troublesome if they run amok."

"Yes, Princess," Victoria stepped forward and placed her hands together, "By Zenith-sama's will, I place thee under thy command, Jörmungandr Obedience!" A large circle flooded the room's floor and illuminated the students. Around each student's neck an image of a light serpent coiled and bit its own tail forming a ring. The constriction attacked their windpipes before slowly loosening and disappearing.

The burning sensation soon subsided and the students each grasped for breath.

"Are you okay, Luna?" Takuto asked as he loosened his grip.

Blood seeped between her lips. Takuto felt Luna's quivering body in his arms. Her eyes dilated and winced. Her shaking hand reached towards the ceiling as if seeking something. "LUNA!" Takuto gripped her hand. Tears streamed from his eyes and the muscles in his face refused to listen.

Luna turned her head towards Takuto, she didn't perceive his presence by sight. Her eyelids half opened and closed, her view unfocused. "... ….. …. …." Luna's lips mouthed a silent sentence.

"Luna, what are you saying?" Takuto placed his ear by Luna's mouth, but no words came. Luna's grip on his hand disappeared.

His heart stopped Takuto turned his face and looked at Luna. Tears flowed down her eyes, blood cascaded from her mouth, but her lips were in a smile. Her face was filled with contradicting emotions.

Takuto shook Luna's shoulders. She didn't respond. "No, please no," Takuto cradled her limp head in his arms. "Please tell me you're joking..." Tears flowed, "Please.."

Not again...Why am I the one to survive?

"WAKE UP LUNA! WAKE UP! WAKE UP! " Takuto shook Luna's small body with force, but she didn't wake.

Students began to gather around Takuto. Their own pain momentarily forgotten in the face of his raw anguish.

"Takuto-kun..." Tsukasa looked on in tears. Reigo stood behind her wordless. Naiku pulled off his headphones and fell beside Takuto.

And Tanya…

"Chihana-san..." Tanya placed a hand on his shoulder, her face was a mask of despair.. "Let her rest...please..."

"Tank-san..." Takuto slowly lowered his childhood friend's body still holding her hand. "I...I...I…" His tears burned in his eyes. His voice hoarse. His fingers tingled

"Oh, what's this?" A bright voice asked, Aine leisurely strolled amidst the bereaved. Her smile grew brighter. "I guess she couldn't handle the adjustment. Pitiful."

Tanya's fist was a blur. The air whined as the hay maker shot at Aine. Before the punch landed the ethereal snake reappeared around her neck. Tanya's body keeled forward and her fist shattered the granite. Tanya clawed at her neck, her face turned red. The snake slowly dissipated, Tanya gave a shuddering breath.

"A word from the wise," Aine stood over the fallen giant, grinding her heel into her abdomen, "Don't try that again."

"Your lives are in my hands, and ending them is only too easy." Aine smiled wide, "I'll have you all work hard, for our country's sake." Her blazing eyes sent fear through the student's. "Don't worry, Boy," Aine turned to Takuto, "That girl's body will be put to use. We have another corpse, too, both a male and female I see." Aine chuckled to herself, "I wonder what we'll learn after dissecting them."

"Why you!" Takuto stood, but before he made a step towards Aine Tsukasa and Serena-sensei blocked his way.

"Please Takuto-kun, don't..." Tsukasa held the shaking boy, her eyes welling up. "Two deaths is enough."

"Don't harm my students!" Serena-sensei held her arms out as a shield.

"Hoh? good eyes. Dragging you through despair might be fun right now." A flame engulfed Aine's hand. Her smile spread from excitement to raptures.

"Eh…" Serena-sensei's voice faltered. Her resolve evaporated under Aine's feral smile. She fell to her knees, her eyes a daze.

A respectful cough behind Aine.

"Princess, now is not the time for games," Victoria said. "We should not waste Zenith-sama's gift."

The flame in Aine's hand died, though the smile lingered. She turned on her heels.

"Get appraising, Victoria," She said, quietly, " I want to know what our new toys are capable of."


Author Notes

Well a new chapter. Like before this was heavily edited by my younger brother so lots of credit goes to him. He completely rewrote quite a few of the paragraphs. His english is good unlike mine. Hope you like it.