Trials of the Junsuikaoni: The Lament of the Dead (Book 3)

Noah has finally embraced his role as leader of the Elite Junsui Hunter Force and together with his team, they've been cleaning up the streets of Hokkaido City and eliminating rogue Bakemon. They've become quite acclaimed and popular, but due to the dangers they faced just six months ago, which resulted in the destruction of much of the Wakaba Prefecture, they've become very exclusive and private, not letting outsiders enter their circle. As they help get the city back on it's feet, their newly accepted ally, Ouran, is hard at work helping Lady Simone build a nation for the newly liberated Reapers all while trying to balance normal life and newfound existence as the Reaper God. The Reapers are finally free of heaven's command, but now the protection they had is gone. This causes unrest in the underworld and once again Noah and his team find themselves facing danger as they help Ouran defeat a new enemy and answer the Lament of the Dead. This is the third chapter of Noah's journey.

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3. To the Underworld

            “What is that repulsive smell?” Jove scrunches his face and holds his nose as he follows behind Ouran. He does his best to navigate through the crowd and avoid hitting anyone.

            Ouran can’t help but laugh, finding amusement in Jove’s reaction to his first time in the city. It temporarily takes Ouran’s mind off their concern for Lady Simone. “That’s just Hokkaido for you Jove, I told you the pollution level was much higher than ours despite being so much more advanced. It’s probably due to all the factories and cars, which we don’t have. I guess it shows the stark contrast between our traditional country and an industrialized one like this.”

            “I see so many hover and electric cars though. You’d think they wouldn’t be as polluted as they would be if they still used gasoline cars. There’s so much technology in this city!”

            “Well yea, they want to use primarily natural energy sources, but there are some things that you can’t replace gasoline for. Also, it’s not just exhaust pollution, but man-made as well. Big cities always suffer from garbage pollution and it’s impossible to keep it clean 24/7. That also adds to the smell. Naturally, our sense of smell is more sensitive to it anyway. Just bear it a bit longer. We’re not far from their place.” Ouran picks up the speed, eager to get there quickly.

            ***

            “No way, I’m not getting in that death trap!” Jove is adamant as he backs away from Ouran, who stands in the doorway of the elevator, gesturing him to get inside.

            “Jove, come on already! It’s nothing that sinister. It’s just a lift that’ll take us up to their floor. There’s no way you’ll die from it even if it malfunctioned. You are immortal, remember?”

            “That’s not the point! Just because I won’t die, doesn’t mean it’s any less terrifying. In fact, it’s more terrifying because I won’t die. It’ll be an endless loop of torture. No thanks!”

            Ouran sighs and sees a couple of people headed towards them. Realizing they want to use the elevator, they move out of the way and let them enter. They know they can’t keep holding the door and so they decide to trick him. “Ok Jove, I understand. Come here, I’ll show you where the stairs are on this map. Hurry, I can’t keep these people waiting.” Ouran nods at them in greeting.

“Ok, I can do stairs.” Jove walks towards Ouran and once he’s within grabbing range, Ouran grabs him and pulls him into the elevator. Ouran holds him tight so he can’t escape. “30 please.”

            The people look at them strangely, but comply with their request. Jove realizes he’s been tricked and begins to freak out. “No, no, let me go! Let me go!” The doors close. “No! Please.”

            The people continue to look at them in curiosity and Ouran just smiles politely and says, “don’t be alarmed. This is just his first time in Hokkaido. He’s a country boy, born and raised.”

            The people understand and a man responds pleasantly. “Oh I see. I remember when I first came here as a tourist myself. It was quite terrifying thinking back on it now. It was all too much for a small town boy like myself, so I can understand. It’ll grow on you though. Five years later and there’s no place I’d rather be, even if it’s got an unfortunate incident here or there.”

            The silence hangs in the air briefly as they recount the events of six months ago. “Well, that was a tragedy, but it seems as though Hokkaido has become all the stronger for it. You guys have really built it up from how it was even before that incident. I’m really impressed.”

            “Yea, we’ve come quite a long way since then, but most of that is thanks to the efforts of our new president and the Elite JHF. They’ve really gotten us back on our feet. In fact, they live in this very building, on the 30th floor penthouse suite.” He has a sudden realization. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to be going to see them would you? Are you a friend or something? They won’t let you in otherwise, though countless people have tried. They are quite revered, our heroes.”

            “As it happens I am, but no worries, I’ve already got their permission. We’ll be fine.”

“That’s good then. You’re quite a lucky girl to be friends with such celebrities. You should be proud that a normal person like you can associate with such powerful people. I’m a bit envious.”

            Ouran can’t help but smile and laugh quietly under their breath. A normal person huh?

            Jove suddenly breaks out of his fear and instead becomes angry at the man’s blasphemous words. “Excuse me, but Ouran is not a girl! Furthermore, they saved this-.” Jove’s words are quickly silenced by Ouran’s hand across his mouth forbidding him to say more.

            “Don’t mind my friend here, he’s just a bit protective of me. You’re absolutely right. I’m very lucky to be friends with such powerful people. They definitely are the heroes of this city.”

            The man is a bit surprised, but bows slightly with remorse. “I’m very sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed you were a girl, please forgive me.” There is a ding as they arrive at his floor.

            “It’s fine, people often mistake me for a girl. They’re not exactly wrong, it’s just I’m Agender, so I don’t conform to one of the other. It doesn’t bother me either way.”

            “I see. Well, I’m still sorry anyway. This is my floor, but it was nice chatting with you. Please enjoy your stay in our city.” He bows again and walks out, the woman following him.

            Jove looks at Ouran in sadness and disbelief, unable to understand why Ouran did that. Ouran smiles and says calmly, “it’s better this way. Gods are not meant to be revered as heroes. As history tells it, it’s humans who become heroes, while Gods simply watch and bestow blessings and curses upon the world. We build mountains and the humans are praised for climbing them. It’s simply the way of the world and I’m fine with that. I’m just a simple God.”

            Jove hates how little Ouran thinks of themselves and it’s something both he and Lady Simone always wished they’d stop doing, but they realize that’s just who Ouran truly is. They don’t want to be praised, they don’t want to be heroes, they don’t want to be seen as anyone particularly special. As they always say, Ouran is Ouran. However, it’s exactly that humbleness that makes them special. Even if the world doesn’t see it, to he and Lady Simone, Ouran will always be their hero. Jove has already vowed to stand by Ouran’s side, now and forever.

            ***

            Ouran approaches the door and after a moment, presses the intercom call button. They immediately recognize the answerers voice. “Ouran? What are you doing here? Who’s that?”

            Jove looks around nervously. “Is she a psychic or something? How’d she knows it was you? How can she see us?” Ouran laughs deeply. Jove really is tourist to the human world.

            “Relax dude, they have cameras above us that allow them to see who’s at the door.” He turns back to the intercom. “Yea, it’s me Lili and this is my best friend Jove, he’s like me.”

            “Oh I see. Ok, come on in!” The door buzzes and Ouran pushes it open. It leads to a corridor with another door. After a few seconds, it opens up and Lili is standing in the doorway. “Ouran, it’s been a while. It’s a pleasure to see you again. Come inside, I’ll tell the others that you’re here.” She runs back inside, leaving the door open and Ouran walks inside with Jove.

            Ouran walks over to the couches and plops down, making themselves at home. Jove stands near the door nervously, not feeling as welcome as Ouran. “Relax Jove. Come sit, put your feet up and take a breather. They’re nice people and will welcome just the same as they welcome me. There’s no need to be so scared. They’ll look at you weirder if you stand there.”

            Jove looks around, taking in the surroundings. It’s the hugest housing complex he’s ever seen, with a huge social area in the center, a large kitchen diagonal from it and to his right and 4 separate rooms which he’d assume are bedrooms on the ends, two on each side. To his immediate left is a small guest bathroom, shower and all included. “This is incredible.”

            “I know right? I was pretty awestruck myself the first time I came here. They’ve got the highest quality and most technologically advanced appliances and entertainment systems and each bedroom is a master suite. So that means they each have a small lounging area, king sized bed and a bathroom with an exquisite shower, tub and sauna area with a built in Jacuzzi. Basically, this is the kingpin of all apartments in this city. Gunther and Nik have the rooms to the right and Noah has one on the left. The second one on the left is shared by Mai and Lili.”

            “Not anymore.” They are startled by Mai’s sudden interruption. “Hello Ouran.”

            “Mai, quiet as always. I didn’t even notice you come out. Nice to see you. That’s Jove.” She nods at Jove and begins to read a book. Ouran chuckles. “That’s the standard Mai hello for people she’s not friends with yet, so don’t take it personally. Would you come sit already?” Jove finally makes his way to the couch and sits as close to Ouran as he can. “So Mai, what did you mean when you said not anymore? Is there a secret room hidden somewhere in this fortress?”

            “I mean exactly what I said. We did share a room, but now we don’t. It’s not difficult.”

            Ouran laughs nervously, unsure of what to say, so they settle with a simple, “I see.”

            “Don’t mind her Ouran, she’s just in a pissy mood now that Lili’s gone. She’s staying with Gunther now. I don’t know why she acts as though she didn’t see it coming. I mean after what those two did last night…well, I’m more surprised that Lili didn’t make the move right then.” Nik walks over and joins them on the couch, sitting beside Mai, who pays him no mind.

            Ouran is a bit confused now. “What happened last night? Did Mai and Lili fight? I never thought they’d get into an argument so intense that it would actually drive them apart.”

            Nik laughs. “No, no. I’m sorry, I guess I wasn’t clear enough. You see, Gunther and Lili recently started dating and yesterday was their first official date. As is the natural progression of things, they spent the night together, and what an active night they had, let me tell you. So as a result of that, Lili decided it was time for her to move in with Gunther as a proper couple and so after talking it over with Mai this morning, she made the move. Mai was pleasant with her as always, but I know she’s actually pretty hurt by it, even if she can understand why. Hence her pissy mode. Does that about cover it Mai?” Nik nudges her and she gives him a death glare.

            “Oh, I see.” Ouran laughs nervously, feeling the awkwardness of the situation. “Well, let me introduce you Nik, this is Jove. Jove, this is Nik.” He motions back and forth to them.

            “Nice to meet you Jove. If you’re a friend of Ouran’s then I’ll call you a friend too.”

            Both Nik and Ouran wait for Jove’s response, but hear nothing. “Jove?” Ouran looks at Jove, who’s starting at Nik like a deer in headlights, seemingly lost in his own world. “Jove!”

            “What? Oh, uh, um…hello.” He stutters and flails his arms, startled by Ouran’s call. He looks down and away to the side bashfully, as his cheeks turn beet red. His heart races.

            Ouran scratches his head, confused at Jove’s sudden embarrassment, but chalks it up to his nerves. “Yea, Jove’s quite shy around strangers, even more so because we’re in an unfamiliar country. He’ll warm up a bit as he gets to know you guys better. Sorry for his awkwardness.”

            “It’s fine. There’s nothing to apologize for. I wasn’t offended in the slightest.” Nik looks at Jove and his flushed cheeks and smirks. He feels as though he just fell head first into an interesting development and a timely opportunity. “So, are you two like an item or something?”

            Jove’s face becomes even redder and he fidgets nervously. Ouran seems remorseful and says, “No, we’re just good friends, best friends actually. I’ve got someone else as my partner.”

            Nik can see Ouran become sad and so he tries to change the subject. “Oh ok, well that’s great. Just where did Lili run off to? I heard her say she was gonna come tell all of us, but now she’s nowhere to be found. Though I suppose there’s no real need to ask is there?” He grins.

            Just as he says this, Gunther’s door opens and he steps out with Lili. “Sorry, I was holding her up. I apologize for keeping you all waiting.” They walk over together, holding hands and sit on the couch, in between where Mai and Nik and Ouran and Jove are. “Hello Ouran.”

            “Hey Gunther. It seems like quite a bit has changed since I saw you all last. Well, I guess I should say congratulations to you both. Oh and let me introduce you, this is Jove, my best friend. Jove, this is Gunther and Lili. The four of them make up the full circle of elements.”

            Jove waves, still a bit caught in his embarrassed state and Gunther says, “Nice to meet you Jove, and thanks Ouran, but it’s not that big of a deal. We don’t want things to change much even if we are dating now. Noah wouldn’t be happy if our work slipped as a result of this.”

            “You’ve got that right.” Noah walks out of his room and joins them on the couch, sitting across from Gunther and Lili. “I don’t care about your relationships, but I won’t tolerate your performance slipping or putting the team in danger because of it. That’s my only rule.”

            Ouran smirks. “Well, look at you sounding like a true leader now Noah, I’m impressed.”

            “I’m only a leader on weekdays. Come the weekend, all bets are off.” They laugh and then Noah says, “it’s good to see you again Ouran. I was wondering when you were gonna stop by again. I would’ve stopped by, but I wasn’t sure where you’d be and I couldn’t call you because you Bakemon are still stuck in the 19th century down there and don’t have communication lines that can connect you to us. Catch up already would you?”

            “Well I was busy building a nation you know. I would think you should understand that as you had to rebuild your own. We’re slowly catching up, so cut us some slack. If you really wanted to talk to me that badly, you could’ve just prayed to me again. I would’ve heard you just like I did before and come here right away. Though knowing you, your pride would stop you.”

            “Got that right, I will never beg to you again. That was a once in a lifetime event. Anyway, you’re here now, so I’ll let it slide.” He turns to Jove. “Nice seeing you again Jove. Though when we met the first time you were fighting Ouran and looked more androgynous.”

            “Yea, it’s nice to officially meet you now. I’m a bit ashamed that was your impression of me. I decided to become a guy. Originally I thought I was doing it for Ouran and the hopes they’d fall for me like they did you, but later on I realized, It’s who I’ve always been. Though people made fun of me for it, saying they were certain I’d choose to be a girl since I acted so much like one. As if being bubbly and sensitive is something exclusive to girls or something.” His face becomes sad and he looks as though he could cry, but he holds it together.

            Ouran places their hand on his shoulder for support and Noah has an expression of understanding. “I’m sorry you had to deal with such shitty people, but you shouldn’t let them make you feel ashamed of who you are. I can see why you two have become such good friends. You both live in a way that’s outside the accepted norm and that makes people uncomfortable. However, I’m happy that Ouran has fully embraced themselves as they are and I’m sure that if you stick by them, you’ll feel confident in your own skin too. So cheer up.”

            Jove feels surprisingly happy to hear such supportive words and cheers up a bit. He can see that Noah is a good guy, even if he’s not the most expressive person. “Thanks Noah.”

            “No biggie. Anyway, now that you two are here and we have the week off, shall we go somewhere? There’s a few new hotspots that have been built that I’m sure you guys would like.”

            Ouran loses their smile and becomes solemn again. “Actually Noah, I wish I could say I was here for a leisurely visit, but the truth is, I need your help. My girlfriend’s been taken.”

            “Girlfriend? Wow, I never would’ve thought you’d settle down with someone and so soon. Well good for you! What do you mean taken though? You need us to go ruff a rival up?”

            “No, it’s not a love rival that stole her from me, but a man who’s far more dangerous. We had our unveiling of our new Reaper nation yesterday, but then he crashed it and took Lady Simone, our elected leader, and demanded that he be made leader instead or he’d kill her.”

            The mood on the room got suddenly serious. “Damn, that’s serious. Who is this man?”

            “His name is Hades, and he’s one of the most sinister beings that exists in the world.”

            “No way! Hades? Like the Hades of ancient Greek Mythology. King of the underworld?”

            Mai rolls her eyes at Nik and says, “do you really think this is the time for that?”

            “What? It was a question. Please check your attitude and take several seats.” He’s sassy.

            “Quiet the both of you, this is a serious matter.” Noah speaks sternly, silencing them. “I think I vaguely remember hearing that name before. Lady Simone was the one Jove was originally sent by to get you that time right? If I remember, you seemed uninterested. So now you two have started dating? How things can change in the matter of a couple years I guess.”

            “Yea I know; it still surprises me sometimes. I would’ve never believed it myself before.”

            “Well no matter. She’s clearly very special to you now and so we’d be happy to help you in any way we can. After all, we owe you our lives and even all our fame. We could’ve never achieved such popularity or saved this city without you, even if people don’t realize that.”

            “Thanks. I appreciate your willingness, but I’m not asking for this in the name of obligation. I’m asking you all to help because I know I can depend on you and you guys are my only hope. I can’t kill Hades and he can’t kill me, it’s a rule of the gods. I also can’t enter his domain on my own, so I need a mortal tether. Anyone but a god will do, so I’ll need you four.”

            Gunther speaks first. “Sure, we’d be happy to help however we can. How can we help?”

            Lili next. “Yea, what Gunther said. I’m grateful for what you did, so I’ll help too.”

            “I’m totally down if we’re going to the underworld, I feel my body getting hot already!”

            “I’ll do whatever Noah orders us to do, my opinion doesn’t matter.” Mai’s cold and blunt.

            “Well, you heard them Ouran, so what do you want us to do?” Noah listens intently.

            “Thanks guys, your blind willingness to help really means a lot to me. It’s pretty simple actually…I need you all to die. Well just you four really, since you’re partially human.”

            The room is suddenly quiet as things seem a bit heavier than before. “Wait a second, what do you mean by die exactly? I’ve been half killed one too many times already,” Nik says.

            Don’t worry, you won’t be completely dead, you’ll just manifest as such. Think of it like being stuck between two worlds. You’ll be “dead”, but not so permanently that you can’t come back. You’ll be a living, breathing spirit, quite like the lost souls that reside in the underworld. Just as they have opportunities to find their way back to the living world, you will as well. I’ll be able to bring you back to life as you are now with no problem, but as long as we are there, you must be in that state. No living souls are permitted to enter the underworld and it’s necessary to tether to your spirits as well. I know it sounds scary and I’d understand if you no longer wanted to help, but it’s the only way we’ll be able to do this successfully.”

            Everyone is quiet for a bit, but then they start to speak one by one, Nik starting off. “Well, I’ve always said I’d end up in hell one day, so I can’t be scared of the possibility now.”

Mai says, “There’s no room for fear in this profession. I’ll face any challenge head on.”

            Gunther says, “I’m not one to let my friends fight alone, so I’m in as well.”

            Finally, Lili says, “I’m a bit nervous, but I trust everyone, so I won’t run away.”

            Noah is silent for a few more minutes, thinking it all over and then he finally says, “Ok, so how do we start? I’ve never cared much about living or dying, so I’ve got nothing to lose.”

            “Ouran is touched by everyone’s kindness. “Thank you guys, this really means so much. You guys should prepare yourselves with whatever you need to battle and I’ll get things ready.”

            “Alright. Then let’s break and I’d like everyone to be back here in an hour, ok?”

            There’s a unison of “yes sir” and then they all break off to do what they need to. Ouran smiles in admiration at Noah. “Say what you want, you really have become a great leader Noah.”

            “Thanks, I still don’t want to be, but I won’t abandon them either. I’ll carry out my mission and lead them to freedom. Once I’ve destroyed the Junsui once and for all, they should all become normal humans and every Junsui Demon will finally be eradicated from this earth. Only then will I be able to rest in peace.” Noah becomes suddenly serious and intense.

            Ouran looks a bit sad and nervous, as though he wants to say something, but isn’t sure how. “Look Noah, about that…. I get what your reasoning is and I totally understand it, but that prophecy, well it’s not going to go exactly like you think. The truth is Noah…uh…ah forget it.”

            “You too? First Lili’s mom says that and now you? Please explain to me what you mean. Why wouldn’t it go as we think? What are we missing? It’s really frustrating to hear that.”

            “No, it’s just a stupid thing. No one even knows how true it is. Forget I said anything.”

            Noah sighs in frustration. “Fine, it’s not like anything was going to change my mind anyway. I’ll be back soon, make yourself at home while you wait. You too Jove.” He leaves.

            Ouran looks ashamed and feels equally so. They feel as though they should’ve been honest, but at the same time, they think it’s better to let things happen at their own pace. Jove looks at Ouran with curiosity and then says, “Why didn’t you tell him? That’s something he should know isn’t it? I mean, won’t he kind of find out anyway once we go through with this?”

            “No, I’ll make sure he won’t find out. He should know, but not now. He’s not ready yet. There are some things you have to find out in its own time, this is one of those things. Let’s go.”

***

            Exactly an hour later, everyone returns to the social area dressed in their battle gear. It’s their normal uniforms, consisting of black pants, a black sailor type top with a neck collar and a black blazer on top. The collar and subsequent seams are lined by each of their respective elemental colors. Mai is equipped with her two Katana blades, Nik with his bow and arrows, Gunther with his detachable, double-sided Warhammer and Lili with her whip. Noah doesn’t need any weapons and so has opted out of using any, preferring to use his own claws if need be.

            Ouran and Jove are waiting for them, dressed the same as before. They no longer have a set reaper uniform and may wear what they wish. Ouran wears a monk top lined in yellow and black pants. On top they wear a black blazer similar to Noah and his team. They wear a skull necklace that hangs down their chest and a matching earring in their right ear. Their forehead and inner neck is adorned in a holy necklace that glows yellow. Around their wrist, is a blue crystal, which glows brighter than before. Jove hasn’t changed other than his wings are out now.

            Noah says, “seeing you guys with your wings kind of trips me out. They look a lot like the wings of The Fallen we fought, but a bit more curved and sinister looking, almost like a demon. In fact, Theo’s wings were kind of like that right Nik? I guess that was a Risen thing?”

            Nik frowns slightly, but then regains his normal look. “Yea, he did. It must have been.”

            Ouran responds with, “well yea, we are a cross between Risen and Fallen, so it’s only natural. At least ours aren’t totally demon-like as yours are, so you’re one to talk.”

            “That’s true, you got me there. Well whatever. Anyway, what are we doing now?”

            “Now I’m going to summon my familiar and she’s going to kill you.” Ouran grins. Noah says nothing, but only smirks in return. Ouran holds up their arm, with the crystal in their hand and begins to chant. “I summon thee, my familiar servant. I call forth Arias, lesser demon of the Daimon Realm. Come serve me as your only master and receive divine blessing and protection!” With a sudden burst of blue light, the crystal shines brightly and begins to change form. It starts to grow bigger and once Ouran releases it from their grip, it floats in the air and further elongates. Slowly, it begins to take the form of a human-like creature, but as it materializes more clearly, it can be seen as more of a demon. After a minute more, it finally completes its form.

            Standing in front of them was a human-like demon, with tiny wings protruding from its back. It’s got pale blue skin, pointed ears, and a body that looks just as androgynous as Ouran. Its hair is in a dreadlock style, each long blue lock falling down its back and over its ears. Its eyes are red, and has black eyeliner around the edges. There’s a single black triangular marking above and below each eye, looking like a slit scar. A single tooth can be seen protruding between its lips, which are in a slight frown. It wears a simple blue string blouse and the crystal that was once around Ouran’s wrist, is now hanging from its neck, while its inner neck has a skull necklace matching Ouran’s. Everyone looks at it in awe and curiosity, making it annoyed.

            “What is this, a peep show? Why are you all gawking at me like I’m a freak show. Uh!”

            Despite her tough look, she’s got a surprisingly sweet voice, which surprises them. Ouran simply smiles and says, “everyone, this is Arias, my most loyal partner. Forgive her rudeness. She’s not used to interacting with others but me and so is very feisty and spoiled, like a child.”

            “Master.” She suddenly becomes all smiley and sweet as she turns to Ouran and jumps up to hug them, hanging from their neck with her arms as she does. “It makes me so happy when you praise me!” She snuggles against Ouran’s chest, just like a child, but her slight blush makes it obvious that she feels differently about it. She suddenly frowns again and turns back to look at them as she says, “No one can touch Master but me and Lady Simone! Do you understand?”

            She tries to be stern, but her squeaky, sweet voice just makes her sound like a kid and it’s hard to take her seriously. Ouran laughs and then says, “Yea, she’s also a bit protective, sorry.”

            She pouts and further says, “I’ll also have you know, I may be short and sound like a kid, but I’m actually 20 years old, just like Master! Also, don’t ever touch my wings, or you die!”

            Ouran laughs again. “Yea, definitely don’t touch the wings, she’ll kill you for real.” No one really knows what to make of her, so they just say nothing. “Ok, we should get started. Basically, she’s going to kiss you and when you wake up, we’ll be in the underworld. Arias.”

            She frowns, but doesn’t oppose. She starts with Gunther, standing in front of him. “I’ll have you know; this means nothing to me. I’m only doing this for Master.” Gunther isn’t sure what she means, but then suddenly she grabs his face and kisses him, making Gunther grunt, Lili gasps and the others’ jaws drop to the floor. After about ten seconds, she releases and he falls.

            “Gunther!” Lili is panicked and squats down next to him to check him out. She glares at her and shouts, “What did you do?” Ouran quickly tries to diffuse the situation.

            “It’s ok, he’s fine. That’s a totally normal reaction. It’s just the kiss of death.”

            “Yea, everyone should know that. Anyway, I’ll do you next since you’re so dramatic.” She grabs Lili’s face and like Gunther, kisses her for ten seconds and then she too passes out. She looks at Nik. “You’re next four eyes.” She walks over to him, but he stops her.

            “I just want you to appreciate that you’re the first and probably only girl who’s ever gonna have the privilege of kissing these lips, so make it count.” He smirks in amusement.

            Arias scowls and isn’t impressed. “Gross.” She quickly grabs his face and kisses him and he’s down too. She finally turns to Mai, who gives her a nasty look in return for her own. Arias grins. “I like you. I think I just might tolerate you unlike the others who I could care less about.”

            “Do what you want, but understand, you’re not the only one who has someone they’d die to protect. I’ll have no mercy on you if you ever make Lili sad or scared again. Understand?”

            Arias grins wider. “Yea, I really like you Sister, you get the special kiss.” She grabs her face and kisses Mai, but with much more passion. Mai is surprised to feel her tongue on hers and Noah looks on stunned. After Mai is down, Arias returns to Ouran. “I really like her Master.”

            Ouran just laughs and seeing Noah’s stunned expression says, “yea, I guess I forgot to mention, she kind of swings both ways like me. Ha, I guess she’s not my familiar for nothing.”

            Noah thinks this all is crazy, but he’s seen crazier and so has a quick turnover. “Well, it’s cool. You two definitely fit each other perfectly. So am I up next? Can I have the special too?”

            Arias scowls and Ouran chuckles. “Uh, you’re good Noah. Unlike them, you have no human blood, so you can enter no problem. Naturally we also don’t need the kiss as we’re Reapers. As long as we are tethered to one of them in the name of “delivering” them to the underworld, we can get through. We will each tether ourselves to one, 4 to 4, it’s perfect.”

            Noah feels as though something doesn’t quite make sense, but doesn’t question it. “Ok, so then how do we go there? Are you gonna open a rift in the ground or something? They did that in a movie I saw once where they were traveling to the underworld.” Ouran looks amused.

            Arias scoffs. “Master, why are you friends with such an idiot?”

            “Now, now Arias, be nice.” He turns to Noah. “No rift I’m afraid, but Arias has a pretty nifty teleport spell to get us there. If you would please Arias.” Ouran pats her shoulder.

            She beams a smile and says, “yes Master!” She says some chant under her breath and then suddenly they are being engulfed by a blue vortex. It happens very quickly and they are instantly transported to the underworld. “Here we are master, did I do good?”

            “You did great Arias, thank you.” Ouran pats her head and she practically purrs.

            Noah looks around and is amazed at what he sees. They appear to be in some sort of cavern, but before them is a huge river, but not of water, rather lava. It boils and bubbles, looking quite dangerous. Noah thinks he’s hearing moans and screams, but thinks they must be in his head. “Am I crazy, or do I hear screams and moaning? Crying I think too.”

            Ouran walks forward. “No, you’re hearing properly. This river before us is the river of tormented souls. You see, unlike the lost souls who are in limbo because they have unfinished business, the tormented souls are so lost that they basically have no recollection of themselves or their pasts and are left to suffer in agony for all eternity. It’s reserved for souls who have been trapped here for so long that they become nothing, falling into the river. Sometimes, the lost souls voluntarily jump in, wishing to give up on their unfinished business or redemption. It’s also the favorite punishment of Hades. Needless to say, you want to stay away from it.”

            “I see. Well, how do we get across then? I’m pretty sure this cavern isn’t the place.”

            “No it’s not. We will take a boat, in fact here it comes.” A long curved boat can be seen through the steam and a cloaked rower is inside. “That’s the ferryman of the underworld. He guides the spirits to the deeper reaches of the underworld, this is just the entrance. Come on, each of us need to grab one of them so the ferryman will permit us to board.” Ouran decides to take Mai, Arias takes Lili since she’s the lightest, Noah decides to take Gunther since he’s the heaviest and so that leaves Nik for Jove. He carefully picks Nik up and holds him in his arms. Although they’re not that close, Jove feels strangely embarrassed to be holding him and seeing his sleeping face, which is surprisingly cute, makes him blush more. Ouran’s voice snaps him out of it. “Let’s go, don’t look him directly in the eyes, he hates that.” They’re off to the underworld.

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