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What the Devil

Chapter Text

Poof. Just like that, you were....well. You didn't know where you were.

From where you had been standing in an auditorium hall, presenting your lecture to a shitload of fancy professors and researchers to stumbling up a fire escape and into an apartment window at the ass crack of dawn. From blank faces and oak podiums blurring, meshing and melding into the drab graffiti backwash sent you careening straight into the ratty dark green couch right on the other side of the open window.

Wow. What a fucking migraine.

Groaning, you closed your eyes in search of relief from the pounding of your head, massaging your temples with two fingers. You struggled to keep up with the fast pace of everything going on. Again, a fucking migraine.

First thing you had to was relax and think: where are you, how did you get here, and how would you get back. You clench your eyes shut even further at the list. A tall order, but it would work if you could just relax.

It's just the jitters from the presentation, you reasoned. My legs were practically bouncing back in there and that weird Harry Potter-style apparition did not help. If you could just scroll through your Instagram and help you rela—

That's it! You took out your phone and examined it. Definitely different, with apparent scratches and smudges than both your dads would allow it to have. Still expensive looking, but without the care you'd usually give it. A fucking monster, that's what you were in this dimension.

You opened it with your fingerprint, not trusting to guess the code and get locked out permanently. Immediately, you're met with dozens of articles and a few missed calls and messages on your notifications. Without hesitation, you found your gaze on the first new article, timed only an hour and a half ago. As you read at the title, you were aware of the shifting of the muscles on your face, clearly relaying the shock that you felt but never truly expressed. Well now was the appropriate time for it.

You resisted the urge to rub a hand on your eyes as you double-checked what you read. Perhaps it would never sink in until you said it out loud. You tried testing it. "Mysterious Demon-like Figure Reported in Capulet City!"

You'll admit, you choked half-way through that sentence (as if you'll ever admit that to anybody). You tried it out again one more time, as if disbelieving of the shit that you were up to. "Mysterious Demon-like Figure Reported in Capulet City," you stated in deadpan. It was the seriousness of the way you said it, contrasting with the disbelieving high-pitched voice that was ringing inside your brain, that made you snort. What kind of conspiracy theorist were you here?

You stood up straight, swinging your legs up and dropping your phone into the squeakiness of the couch without further aplomb (causing you a sharp flash of pain in your skull). You stretch your arms and back, taking your first full look at your apartment. It was...disappointing. It was dingy and ratty, quite like the couch you had just landed on. Obviously rented at a high price and it wouldn't do for your constitution to stay here any longer than necessary, but perhaps funds were short. Something to check on.

You wandered around the little space you had rented, examining the desks and tables with scattered mugs and bowls. You checked your pockets for your wallets and keys and laid them out on a scuffed up coffee table. You looked at the list of bills and taxes stuck to the fridge on a magnet and put them somewhere clean as well.

Slowly but surely, you were able to clean out the messes, such as putting the dirty dishes in the sink, and arranging papers and documents and some knickknacks that would give you an idea of your life (and perhaps jog some memories of what you had here. It would be awfully weird if you bumped into someone and didn't know who they were.).

And when the tables were finally wiped clean of grime and dust, only then did you begin to categorize the papers. The papers that stated how much the wifi, water, rent, and electricity cost. Papers that related to your job here, which you found out was a writer and a journalist for various articles on the net. Papers that told you of the groceries that needed to be bought. Papers for the bank, the credit cards, the investments, the taxes, and all others were separated. Papers that told how you worked various side jobs that took up your time and left you absolutely exhausted. How in hell you managed to party this late, you'd never know.

Through all your meticulous digging, it was fortunate that you had no roommates whatsoever to interfere. Through further scrolling within your phone, you also found out that you were well-off; not quite unlike the world where you came from. Curious.

It also seemed that you were very interested in one Tony Redgrave. Once you entered your room, multiple binders and folders filled with pictures of a white-haired man in a red coat and his shop. Folders full of ideas and theories and well-built arguments that you would either confirm or deny, all while appreciating the work and effort your other self put here. Many folders in which big red question marks drawn in permanent marker peppered grainy photographs of him dashing across dark alleyways, all while holding a sword heavier than a cow.

All in all, you felt quite slow. To be frank, 'Capulet City' didn't raise any alarms for you. Sure, it sounded like a rip-off from Shakespeare (which it probably was) but it wasn't as concerning as a city named 'Raccoon City'. God, that gave you the shivers everytime you thought of bending time and space only to land in a universe where the Umbrella Corporation existed. But Tony Redgrave? That you were very familiar with. After all, many of your friends have played through him, chatting you up on what a 'Devil Bringer' was or some shit. You've never played this particular game before on your playstation, though you were familiar with the plot. You remembered each game easily, and how Dante looked like in each game, so it would be easy to identify the timeline you were in once you saw him. If you saw him.

You found yourself kneeling on the floor of your bedroom, unmindful of the actual bedroom yet tunnel-visioning on the strewn folders and files across the creaky wooden floor. So many things to piece together. How much did this version of you know? Why were you so invested in Dante? Heaven knows how much shit Dante got whenever he stepped outside his pizza box. It frustrated you to no end how you literally would not be able to tell where in the timeline you were randomly placed without looking at Dante, as with your lack of lore and gameplay.

You huffed out a short breath and turned back to the kitchen to wash the dishes. It was time to plan.

Chapter Text

You remember that one Captain America meme your niece showed you. So you're teleported to the Devil May Cry universe like your worst cliche.

Perhaps it didn't quite sink in yet. Maybe you'll break down into tears as you lay on your musty bed. You were never really one to cry much, but there was no one around to observe you. Besides, the weight of everything that you have to know, have to learn, have to discover? That would keep you up at night, if not your tears. Crying would always give you a headache, so you could depend on that too.

But not now, you thought as you began scrubbing at the dried up sauce and meat on the bowls. Not yet. There would be time to grieve and cry at night, but the sky had just turned orange and there was clearly much work to do. So as you scrubbed at the bottoms of your pans with a quiet diligence, you had to think of your schedule for today.

First, you had to set a goal. The obvious answer would be to go home, but it seemed unlikely to find that out without help. And help came in the form of Dante.

"It was really fucking useful for me to leave notes of Dante and the Devil May Cry shop," you mused to yourself.

Learning to navigate an area you had no familiarity nor expertise in was disastrous. Combining the knowledge that you learned from your friends and the notes you left for yourself would make you a good information broker if everything goes to shit. Besides, it would also be good in defining how much the world knows about Sparda (which you think is the name of Dante and Vergil's father) and demons in general and how good you are with analyzation. It would also be best to check the notes for how much someone could actually find and the limits of what you should know.

However, there was another task that you needed to focus on. You gritted your teeth and scrubbed the pan with a little more vigor than necessary. There was always a reason why things happened; and this situation, no matter how absurd, shouldn't be an exception. Were you meant as a tool to deliver a message? Were you meant to fix something in the past? They were all likely options. No matter how exciting it was to be put in a new environment to adapt to, your blood still boiled at the raw fact that you were put here not by choice, but by force. The fact that you were needed for a task and unable to freely move without your actions having a permanent effect made your skin crawl. The worst part was to be actively forced into changing something because you would not be needed if things had to stay the same.

You always had a choice: choose not to change anything and probably suffer a real shitty fate by whatever summoned you here. The other option was to change something that you can control but to have a drastic effect on future events to the point where your advantage of foresight is forfeited.

You wiped off the sweat building at your brow, looking for a clock to check the time. 7:18. You wiped your wet hands on a tea towel hanging by the dish rack and rummaged for a charger in one of the nearby drawers.

There were probably more pros and cons to the choices than what you had thought of, but honestly you don't give two damns anymore. You lazily poke at the outlet with the prongs of your charger as you change the passcode to something that you actually know, and to check on the few calls and messages you saw earlier.

Look, if Devil May Cry is a game then I'll treat it as a game, you thought bitterly. This is a combat game so I'll have to balance analysis and adaptability as traits. How do I max that? Easy. Half of my free time go to planning while the other half go to actual field work. This means I have to exercise, do martial arts, map out the area by foot, shit like that, alongside binging on all the fucking papers I have on demons. Capisce?

Should you make a note on that then? You shrugged, but you typed in a note on your phone anyway. Another thing you needed to figure out was where everyone was in this timeline. The universe could already be fucked up due to your arrival which would make you even more grateful for the notes you left. But after you find out the timeline, what do you do next? Your mind wandered back to the choice you presented yourself with earlier. Do I choose to fuck shit up or do I watch and wait? Questions, questions. But then again what was the point of going to a fictional world and not participating in its fun? Where was the use in that? Part of the excitement would be not knowing what would happen next, wouldn't it?

Desicion made, you had to settle on what you would change. When your friends told you the very complicated backstory of each of the characters, you almost begged them to stop and start from the beginning because none of it had made sense. Now, you were almost grateful in their enthusiasm in the game enough for them to retell each and every one of the character's backstory in chronological order and order of release, and infecting you with their enthusiasm enough to bury yourself through entire wiki pages, tumblr posts, and youtube videos (it didn't hurt that the characters were kinda hot, not gonna lie). Though you didn't remember every single detail of their lives, you still remember the moments that were pivotal in the progression of the plot. Like Eva's death.

You knew it wasn't something you could change, aside from it being too far back, it was probably the driving force of the game altogether. Almost all of the events, if not all, would not have started at her death. Which would make sense as it being off-limits, because messing with that might also mean messing with the very existence of this universe. So what can you change? The Temen-ni-gru? If you managed to scale your weak ass up that tower, you had to haul your weaker ass back down that tower and that was a big no. Vergil also doesn't know you, and if even Dante couldn't save him (ouch sorry Dante), then it was unlikely that a stranger like you could. Nelo Angelo and Mundus is something you absolutely cannot interfere in because you will get sliced to pieces in the crossfire in a blink of an eye.

You checked back on the Demon!Portal notifications that you subscribed to, causing you to eye roll a whole lot of times. After a quick search, the only things that you've seen when you searched up Redgrave City were bus trips and flights going there. You did not want to go there. And that only left one place left, didn't it? Fortuna, where cultist bastards thrive to recreate demons, or so you remember. Fortuna, quite pricey to get on the nearest airport and make a land trip going to the harbor nearest to Fortuna, and a boat going for Fortuna's pier. Though you had the money to make a trip to Fortuna, you wouldn't feel all that safe with that little to sustain you. You would rather buy a house first, save up a few bills, travel to Fortuna, do whatever you need to do and out.

Easy peasy.

Chapter Text

It was eight in the morning and you had many things left to do. One such thing was to discover who you were in this world. Unfortunate as it was, you probably looked different, had a different name, different accounts under an entirely different person. Necessary but disgusting nonetheless.

You rifled through multiple papers you set on one of the coffee tables earlier. It was a passport, something you would dearly need to get to Fortuna. You looked at the dark leather and opened it to the page where a picture stared straight back at you.

You looked...different. You weren't quite ugly but not as charming and beautiful as, say Lady or Trish. You looked perfectly normal, and with quite a bit of makeup you would look better. The most important aspect here is, if you walked by multiple important people in this world, they wouldn't give you a single glance. No anomaly in your face aside from your skin, no demonic aura, no jarringly purple hair or slitted eyes. You looked like a background character in anime, almost nothing would make you stand out unless a cliche moment appeared when you discover your secret heritage and mysterious power.

As of now, you were fine.

You looked to the side of your picture which gave you all the most important information you would need. You needed a look at you name primarily: Daniya Isabelle Schwartz. Certainly a mouthful, that was for sure. Pretentious as hell too. It would also be a pain to form a signature for, but whatever. It would be better if you could form a sort of nickname? Yes, you confirmed. It would be better for you to form a nickname before someone called you something stupid instead.

Using 'Isabelle' was out. It was too common with all the 'Isabelle's and you would like to stand out just a little (Perhaps a little bit of ego there, sweetheart?). So Daniya it was. How did you usually pronounce it? Da-NEE-yah? DAN-yah? Dah-NAH-yah? Wait, shit go back.

So Dan-yah it was. Dani? No, too basic. Basic, common, and hard to remember with all the 'Daniel's, and 'Dana's in the world. Besides, it sounded to similar to Dante, and you wouldn't like to be associated with a violent nasty-ass pig. Let's go with Daniya.

If any of your friends here on this dimension disagreed with you, you were about to kick massive ass. You could say that you had a sudden change of heart or something, like it was faster to pronounce and it slid right off the tongue. You could bullshit that later.

You continue to scan your passport for your age, birthday, parents, travel history, and other important shit that you should most probably remember. It would definitely be awkward if someone greeted you 'Happy Birthday', while not knowing it was your birthday.

When you've finally finished scanning that document, you move on to another. And another. And another. You thumb the pages of multiple documents until you realize your brain can't process another crappily printed paper, signed with messily scrawled signatures that were impossible to forge. So you move on to your phone.

Reading through the messages you've sent to people that are supposed to be familiar is like waking up to a massive hangover and realizing you drunk-texted multiple people—knowing you've sent it but don't remember, but knowing it was you because it has your goddamn name and your goddamn style.

At least I typed and reacted like I would, you noted (and wasn't that weird, merely thinking that sentence that wouldn't really make any sense without context?) while scrolling upwards to backread a conversation two months ago with a friend named 'Katie' who left to go to Italy to pursue a post-grad in Pathology. She never texted again.

You sigh in disdain at all of your 'conversations'. For a hot minute, you were hoping for something different: a challenge to act like someone you were not. Eventually giving way to relief, because at least you did not have to act like an optimistic and talkative blonde bimbo.

Thanking the heavens for small mercies, you begin to take back your gratitude when you gaze at the mess that you will have to clean up and will eventually recreate in the following weeks or months. Steeling your resolve, you held your head up high and strode forward to cook yourself breakfast.

Chapter Text

3 months later

Your very bones ached and you were dead fucking tired. How your bones ached, you didn't know. Honestly, it was a miracle you didn't collapse on your feet yet. It was only a matter of time...

You've been working multiple jobs on so many shifts for the last months, taking up such odd jobs at such odd hours that you've resigned yourself to a diet of red bull, coffee, and oreos. Throw some chips and there and we have a banquet fit for a college student (not like this was any different than your diet in med school). However, there was no time to party, and unlike in college, you actually had a plan—a goal you were actually intent in following through with. And by God did you have ambition in spades.

You've seen the effects of your efforts: being as frugal as a miser enough to send you to hell, working your literal fucking ass off at your jobs, and starving yourself to the point you saw stars when you stood up too fast. All wonderfully reminiscent of college days. How lovely.

You saw the proof of your work in your bank account. How multiple investments in companies you predicted were gonna make big bank, your attention to detail in the stock market, your parents' monthly allowance which was more than enough to rent an entire two-storey house for yourself (the one with a garage, a white-picket fence, and everything in between), and the money slowly but surely trickling in from your jobs. Was it enough to support yourself for a few years without any work? You run the calculations you've scrawled into your notes multiple times enough to memorize it. Yes, yes it would. After all, you were frugal even before your present self came, surprising you with the actual amount of money that you checked in your bank account.

Did you foresee that this would happen or were you just that concerned with money? For you that was quite a strange concept, as you often splurged on both food and clothes because of the exhausting work that was required of you. You've often joked with your parents before that you could never allow yourself to be poor, since you liked too much expensive shit. It made you sound spoiled (which you were) but it was one of your motivations to become a scientist.

Your brain was a mess of jumbled thoughts and ideas, how you deserved a tiny bit of rest for all this hard work. You could begin to splurge on clothes, while keeping your lifestyle fit for a broke college student. After all, you would not deny the style of clothes you've been craving for what seems like forever. These days you were breathing, living jeans of all things. You swore, that if you had to wear your unwashed jeans and a stained bomber jacket to stalk the Devil May Cry shop one more cocksucking time, you would actually cry.

You took one glance around the apartment which was the definite opposite of the word neat. It was littered with laundry and plastic wrappers, cluttered with bowls and plates with various foodstuffs still stuck to it which would no doubt invite pests to feast on it. Fuck it. You were too tired to deal with all of this, and you would eventually buy yourself a house, so what was the point?

You swore to yourself that you would do the chores after you took a nap. You shuffled over to the bed also cluttered with a shit-ton of papers and fell head-first onto your pillow like Humpty Dumpty incarnate.

2 months later

Holy shit man, you thought as you banged you head against the metal desk. Exhaustion was literally creeping into your eyes, and it took most of your willpower not to succumb to sleep. Every blink you made the past few minutes almost made you cry at the relief you felt when you shut them for a few seconds. And those few seconds grew ever longer, almost making you doze off on the actual job.

"Hey," you heard a voice by your side, making you startle straight up in your seat, only to glare at the offender. The offender was a woman your age who has been in the line of work longer, inputting grocery sales into excel and sending them to her boss.

"Are you okay?" Concern clear in her voice which you would've appreciated if you were not in a shit mood and running on naps and caffeine-filled energy drinks. Then she took the time to study your posture and face. "Oh my God, are you alright? You look like you need rest. Why don't you take a break?"

She shooed you into the break room where no one was present, taking the time to urge you to "Take a breather!" and reassuring you that the work would still be there when you get back. As soon as she left though, you quickly pulled out your phone and opened up the camera.

"Huh," you murmur to yourself, your own voice sounding scratchy and dry to your ears. "I do look like shit." Your eye bags were dark and deep, an obvious mark on your gaunt and thin face. Your eyes were bloodshot with the lack of sleep, and the bones of your face and jaw looked like they were separated from the world with only a thin layer of skin.

That was only your face. You had noticed over the months, your clothes were getting loose—shorts and jeans slipping off your usually snug waist. Whenever you lay down and your shirt rid up, you'd suck your breath and stomach inward, leaving only sharp ridges of ribs and a stomach so thin that you could almost feel the hard mattress you lay on.

Ah, just like college again, you thought. It felt like a relapse into a bad habit, but you didn't feel the slightest bit worse for wear. You were fine, you reassured yourself again and again, almost as if preaching to the choir.

1 month later

You were dripping rage. Or you would've been if you could muster up the slightest bit of energy and time to be angry. The only thing you really felt now, as you trudged up the stairs to your apartment, was exhaustion and numbness.

Weariness, tiredness, fatigue, apathy: these were the only words that sprung from your usually creative mind to describe yourself. And they were synonyms, for god's sake.

When you've finally accomplished the feat of opening the door, you shuffled into the apartment, and dropped the bags that you carried for work. You wouldn't be needing it anymore.

My brain isn't even capable of thinking properly anymore, you thought. You went straight to the bed and buried you face deep into the thin sheet of dust that coated it. You tried to remember the last time you slept for a whole night in the bed instead of crashing for an hour on the couch and suddenly waking up to an alarm that sent you commuting across the city for a shitty job.

Well now you had all the time to sleep now. You couldn't even muster up the panic that you should feel, aside from the sincere relief that you felt. You know you should be worrying about where to get money and how to support yourself, but all you could do was breathe freely for the first time in a long time.

 

When you wake up, that is when you feel panic. You sat up quickly, trying to ignore the spell of vertigo that lasted more than just a few seconds and rushed to the bathroom as soon as it disappeared. As soon as you stumbled into cold and yellow-stained tiles of the bathroom, you tripped over your feet with haste to get to the toilet, and emptied your stomach in the toilet bowl.

The result wasn't pretty. Your stomach was practically growling at this point but you knew that if you attempted to eat food, you might throw it up again. You stood up shakily and tried to gargle the acidic taste out of your mouth with scummy tap water.

You might as well put something in your stomach to feel better. You knew your limits well, and planned to start eating better (like you always did but never really accomplished) but starting small.

You walked over to a chair and sat on it, opting instead to survey the state of the apartment now. It looked worse than what it looked like months ago. Clearly adult-ing was not for you. It was messier now, more trash and refuse and dishes and clothes and other various shit scattered across every space.

This isn't the lowest point in my life, you cut through bitterly. Not even close. There was no time for a pity party whatsoever, as you wasted enough time going off the planned schedule. No, you were far off the planned schedule, several months late of what you planned to do. You barely managed to balance your work and life, how much more would it get fucked up after you interfered with the timeline?

The stress you were feeling throughout the months that you have tired and toiled for—it made your throat close up in that uncomfortable way. You could taste tears at the back of your throat and you reflexively scrunched your face as the first tear fell down. Not a pretty sight. Before you've even noticed, you were attempting to choke back your tears.

Traveling to a whole new universe didn't get you emotional. Nor did losing almost everything you worked for and starting from scratch. As you think through the massive headache caused by the waterfall of snot and tears, maybe it was the thought of never learning and never changing; the thought that you'd never amount to anything without your parents' money and connections, the thought that you'd always relapse into the bad habits you had before.

The thought that you never learned from your past mistakes that you committed over and over again, maybe that was your biggest weakness.


"Mom?" You tried out, testing the word on your mouth as you pressed the call button on your phone. "Dad?" Was this considered desperation? The fact that you called someone you barely knew to ask for help, was this desperation? Desperation tasted constricting; desperation was a heavy and uncomfortable feeling bubbling up in your throat.

A voice crackled through the speaker of your phone. Princess, you haven't called in a long time. Don't you love me anymore? I missed you.

That made you burst out into tears. "Dad, I'm so so sorry." You bawled into the phone, not caring of the charge it might incur on your bill.

His tone quickly turned to worry. Why? What's wrong? Did something happen?

You felt that nervous tic again in your fingers, fiddling with the grains of wood on the table with worry and guilt. "So many things are happening right now dad," you confessed. "I'm really tired with everything and I don't know what to do and I feel really weak right now and I'm not even supposed to cry, I even lost all my jobs—"

Shhh, he cut you off. You're really strong, you know? Asking for help, that's all I ever wanted you to do and I'm so proud of you for doing that.

You sniffled pathetically at that.

I only wish that you did this sooner. I wish that you let go of your pride earlier to ask for help instead of letting all your problems pile up, he continued.

"And I'm really sorry for that. I really am," you sputtered wetly, trying desperately to wipe your tears at that. "I regret doing that and I regret that it came to this, dad."

Yes, he agreed. You do sound sorry. But knowing you, you usually regret the consequences only when you realize them.

You couldn't help the tears at that. You really were pathetic, huh?

I only wish, he added, that you learned from your mistakes before.

"I'm trying. I just can't help it," you hiccuped.

Your father sighed, which induced more crackling. He seemed quiet for a moment as you continued to suppress the little sounds coming out of your mouth.

I'm coming to pick you up, finally making up his mind. I'll see you in a few days.

The phone clicked out a sound, signaling the end of the call, and you bawled your eyes out into your hands.


You're wearing a caramel-colored pea coat and a dark grey turtleneck in a nearby Starbucks, nursing a hot caramel macchiato. You're perfectly aware of your state, thank you very much to all the strangers that pointed your eye bags for you. Thank God, you covered the worst bits with concealer, though not everything can be covered up.

You're checking Demon!Portal again for any activity from Dante, Lady, or Trish when you hear a voice calling your name faintly.

"Daniya?" It was your father, studying you with a certain sadness in his eyes—a mix of regret and guilt that you never want to see on his face again.

"Dad?" You test out shakily, tasting the tears at the back of your throat that was ready to come out again. Fuck, I just thought I let out all the tears I could, you thought.

He opened his arms in invitation and you slightly stumbled in your haste to get up from the stool to hug your father. "I'm really sorry," you manage to stammer out while choking back tears.

He merely sighed again and hugged you closer. "I know."

In that moment, you didn't care anymore of the public place and the people that could judge you or in the awkward position you were in. You simply cried in the comfort of your father's arms as he kissed you on your forehead, a certain mimicry of the prodigal child.
You're directed to the car with light touches as you were still contently buried in your father's arms. As you settle comfortably in the leather seat, you hear dad direct the chauffeur home, which you knew was about two hours away which gave you well enough time to explain the entire situation to him.

You were still trying to mop up snot with a handkerchief when dad turned his attention to you to see what prompted this entire breakdown. "Dad," you manage out weakly, "I don't know where to start."

His look softened. "Then start where you can start. I really want to comfort you and I want to make you feel better and I'm so sorry I can't do that now." He paused to wipe away a stray tear on your cheek. "I don't want you to cry anymore. Will you be okay?"

You nodded quickly. "I'll be fine," adding a miserable chuckle in an attempt to lighten the mood. It failed.

"You know that you can tell me anything, right?" He frowned. "Nothing makes me sadder than seeing the people I love sad. The fact that I'm seeing you in this state, it makes me feel useless."

You rush to reassure him. "No! It's not you, you aren't useless." You're affronted to think that he would think that of himself. "It's me." The wave of sadness crests at the fact that you never learn, always depending on your family, even hurting them in the process.

"Daniya, I won't force you to say anything," he starts. Always assuaging your fears, always comforting. "But I can't help you if you don't say anything, and I really do want to help you."

How could you begin to explain the rush of love you felt for this man; the person you know is your father but is not quite your father? This is a person you feel warmth and safety in, but not truly knowing who they were. Would he accept that? It made you all the more guilty for deciding to omit key points in your very existence.

There is a silence that allows you to collect your thoughts (and calm your god fucking water works). You stare out the window opposite your father, unwilling to let what you were actually feeling shine through.

"Dad, I—" cutting yourself off to wipe away the ridiculous amount of fluid on your face that prevented you from speaking clearly. "You know I work a ridiculous amount of jobs, right?"

He nodded slightly, yet clearly expressing his disdain for that fact in one action. "Anyway," you continued, fiddling your fingers on the hem of your coat. "It was like college again, I guess. I ate too little, slept too little. I got fired from all my jobs because my work was getting subpar and I started dozing off."

Your father was quick in picking up the subtle hints you gave. "It wasn't as severe as college, I hope?" He asked almost nervously. You quickly shook your head in negation.

"Nothing like what happened in college happened now," you confirmed.

His body slumped in relief. "That's one thing I worried a lot about." He sighed again however. "Yet your propensity towards understating your personal problems tell otherwise."

You winced slightly, reluctant in giving away information that might disappoint him further. "Though it was nothing like college," you begin hesitantly, "I still exhibited the same actions."

As you feared, he laced his fingers together and squeezed his eyes shut. "I'm assuming these actions include 'saving' immense amounts of money due to not eating, and only eating when you know you can't ignore the hunger anymore."

You avoided looking at the obvious frustration on his face. "Yes," you whispered.

He opens his eyes to study you once more. In as gentle a voice he could muster while chiding you, he said, "Daniya, you do know that you don't have to do all this stuff just to gain money."

You stay silent.

"Daniya, look at me."

A beat. You turn your head to look at his face which was painted with so much silent grief and pain for you that you couldn't stand to look at him a second longer. You whip your head around to avoid his gaze like a child.

"Daniya, what reason do you have to save so much money to the point of starving yourself?"

"I don't want to be a burden," you retorted weakly. The both of you knew that was a flimsy excuse.

"I thought we told you that you'd never be a burden to us. We'd always love you, you know that."

You look up to the dark ceiling of the car in hope of keeping the tears at bay. "I'm saving a lot of money to buy a house."

You turned to look at the expression on your father's face. Disappointment. Again.

"I wanted to achieve things on my own merit dad," you rushed to explain. "I don't want to keep relying on you and mom for everything."

You stared pointedly at your lap, trying to ignore the tears dripping down your cheeks. "I don't want to be a spoiled brat," you admitted to yourself. "I don't want people to look at me and think that I got to the top because of you."

Your father snorted, which surprised you. He didn't seem like the type to do such a laughable thing. "As much as I respect that attitude," he commented dryly, "I would like to note that taken to the extreme, this obviously isn't healthy."

You rolled your eyes. No shit, Sherlock.

"I don't want you to go this far."

Understood.

"I also want you to learn how to ask for help, and not wait for everything to pile up in front of you to make you cry," He scolded.

"Ouch," you attempt at humor and he actually smiles a little at this.

He hugs you again tightly. "Good to know you're back."

You stay like this for the rest of the ride home.


You wake up blearily in the comfort of your father's arms. Everything passes in a blur once you step out of the car. You enter the house (so bright and open and airy unlike that dark and shitty apartment) and you see your mom. You receive the scolding of your life by a woman you've never met before and yet you feel warmth in your heart at the thought of someone caring for you enough to worry this bad. She immediately changes her tune when she studies you closely and strides over in long and hurried steps to hug you tight against her chest.

"I cooked up some soup for you. If I knew you were this thin darling, I..." she whispers into your ear, voice trembling and trailing off slightly. You think she's about to cry.

You feel loved.

 

1 month later

You feel fatter. In a good way, somehow.

You're sitting on a couch by a window, reading something by Denis Diderot, sipping on a steaming cup of oolong tea. Life was good at the moment.

Your father handled all the money you needed, tsking in disapproval as he saw the money in your accounts and how fiercely defensive of all the money you saved up. He paid the rent you still owed to that apartment, and even managed to get you a good deal for a house. He gave you money, so much money you didn't know what to do with, and made you promise to ask for his help whenever you needed it no matter the reason.

Your mother focused on your health more, nursing you back to your strength, and even giving you the option of therapy (you declined gracefully to the disappointment of your mother). She focused on building you back up, making sure you were more confident for yourself; providing your need for companionship and understanding. No matter how irritating how some of her advice may seem or her nagging in general, you still felt gratitude for her support.

Waking up in the bliss of a soft bed and maids that attended to your every need, it was hard to remember what you wanted to ask for help in the first place. Maybe it was when you first wandered into the library that you felt the urge that something was wrong—that you were forgetting something.

The only time it truly hit you was (ridiculously) when you ate pizza for the first time in a long time.

At that moment you abruptly stood up from your seat as your family was eating dinner. Your mother halted her conversation with father as she stared incredulously at you. "What's wrong Daniya?"

You waved a hand to dispel any concern that she might have had. "It's nothing mom. I just have to go to the washroom really quick."

Your mother and father gave a slight frown at this, obviously suspecting a lie but not knowing what for. "Hurry up," your father said. "The pizza might get cold and the pasta is about to arrive soon."

You nodded quickly, taking care not to dash straight into the closest washroom and slam the door in your haste. As soon as you did lock the door as discreetly as possible, you slapped both of your hands on your face.

How could I forget the main purpose why I was here?

You sat on the toilet for a while, making sure you didn't seem like you took too long or too short in there before standing up, flushing the toilet, rinsing your hands, and straightening your clothes.

That was a week ago. Currently, you had trouble finding out a way to break the news to your parents that you wanted to go to the island of Fortuna and adopt an absolutely adorable baby boy currently named Nero.

Only knowing them for the past month or so, you don't know how they'd react to it. Would they withdraw all the money they gave you? You knew that you desperately needed that money if you wanted to bring up a child.

Right now all you could do was hope that they would react kindly to it. (And maybe give yourself the balls to actually say it.)


An opportunity came at dinner. Father was in an exceptionally pleasant mood, and mother was positively beaming at the charity work she had done earlier. Your mood had also brightened, their attitude most infectious. At this point, you might just have enough confidence to say it without stuttering. If only you could interrupt their merriment (and have enough fucking courage to say something for once).

Father was perceptive (wasn't he always). His merry eyes danced over to you. "Anything to share with us today Daniya? Contribute anything to society lately?"

You hummed into the wine glass you had rest upon your lips and eventually set it down. "I don't think I have," you replied carefully. "That is, if you consider reading a contribution to society."

Mother rolled her eyes. "She's clearly your daughter," she jabbed pointedly at your father. "I don't know anyone who could be that absorbed with a book."

"Then you simply haven't met enough people mother," you quipped back. "I know many book clubs who would be delighted to share their interests with you mother."

"As much as we appreciate your very intelligent comments, perhaps it would be wise not to start a fight with your mother," father turned his sharp eyes toward you and urging you to apologize. Mother harrumphed, and took a bite out of the mashed potatoes.

"Besides," you stated in a conciliatory tone, palms up in surrender, "I wasn't able to absorb much from the book. I found the writing dull and aggravating, even if it was about philosophy."

Your mother and father now placated, you decided to go in for the kill.

"Anyways, the other reason why I couldn't focus on the book aside from it being monotonous is that I don't know how to tell you something," you admitted as you neatly set down your utensils on your plate.

You probably look somber, a far cry from the jokes you've been cracking earlier, as they too copied your movements and set their utensils down as well. Their posture noted that they were rapt with attention, curious of what you were about to say.

So you straightened up your back and continued. "It's the main reason why I've been saving up money like a madwoman for a really long time and I would understand why you would disagree." You took a deep breath and tried to imagine yourself with confidence, enough for you to sway them and convince them to support you. "However, I would like you to listen to my opinion and my reasoning and my arguments, so that you may ask whatever question you would like and that I could elaborate my thoughts properly."

You turned to look at mother, whom you have noted looked completely stern, all traces of mirth wiped from her face. Sorry mom. When she noticed you looking for her permission, she nodded slowly, as if preparing herself for horrible news.

Father looked the same, though better at hiding it than mom. His pinched scowl denoted his concern and worry subtly but acquiesced soon after.

You heaved a sigh of relief, quelling your desire to straighten up your clothes because you know it was immaculate-looking, you picked it for this purpose after all.

"I know that I am the only child of this family, and thus have been spoiled by the both of you since I was born," you began. "I am now twenty-one years old and despite father's insistence that I do not marry until I am at least forty years old," this prompted a sharp look towards your father who looked sheepish for once, "I know that you would want me to have grandchildren."

You paused for a moment to observe their reactions. Mother was narrowing her eyes towards you, and father was clearly lost in thought. You took this as a pretty alright sign and continued on.

"As I'm sure you both know, unfortunately, I do not want to undergo the process of giving birth. As childish as it sounds like, I do not think I am ready to carry a child in my womb for nine months and go through something as hellish as labor." You knew this was something you pressed multiple times to your dads as a kid in your world. If you had the same damn characteristics here, it would be a good gamble to say that you were not interested in getting fucked by a guy, only to go through a process so long and painful that it could literally kill you, in all possible worlds.

And you think it worked. Realization had probably already dawned on both your parents' heads on what you wanted to do. It was up for you to reinforce what you actually wanted to do: offering a concrete plan you ironed out again and again way back in that apartment.

"What I want to do," you said in a way that you seem absolutely confident in what you want to do, "is to travel around the world, and look for someone I could see myself taking care of, and eventually adopting."

Your father made a noncommittal sound. "It sounds like you're sure of what place you'd visit first."

"That I am," you stated. "I would like to go to Fortuna first to study the architecture and the effect of the myth that Sparda ruled Fortuna for a while."

"Fortuna?" Your mother asked skeptical about your choice. "I've heard of different rumors of cults worshipping the devil Sparda!"

You and your father both raised a singular eyebrow at her.

"Not that it's real, of course," she disclosed. "Rumors I've only heard from friends that have visited the island."

You didn't have the heart to correct her, that there was a cult-like group attempting to recreate demons and how they would be successful in the near future.

You continued cautiously, knowing that the approval you'd really have to get would be your father's. "Which is why I would like to go visit Fortuna myself. Mother, I don't personally know your friends that have visited the island and they probably would not have overly thought about how Sparda changed and shaped the island's culture. They were probably just there to look at the pretty buildings."

You looked straight into your father's eyes. "Father, you understand that I have far better knowledge and interest that they could ever have regarding the island's history. I also know of your interest towards the island, yet your hectic schedule actively prevents you from learning about it from up close."

"I'm also guessing," you voiced out, "that you don't trust many people to gather information for you, as you tend to cross-examine your references multiple times before believing a story. Would it not be better to satisfy both our curiosities in one fell swoop rather than rely on drones and employees who might skip over few yet important details?"

"Father, I know you understand my skillset more than anyone else. My attention to detail and my diligence is unlike any other when I set my mind to it," you appealed. "You know me better than almost anyone and I think it is high time that I could be of use to you."

A beat passed and they seemed to recognize that you've said your piece. A few moments of silence was all he needed to come to a decision. He sighed almost comically, closing his eyes and pinching his temples between his fingers. "You do understand that there are many flaws with your arguments, yes?"

You tilted your head slightly. "So why don't you bring them up?"

"Because you father knows that you're dead set on this path and that you would find a way no matter what to go to Fortuna," your mother answered.

You suppressed the urge to stare at the lovely pattern of the carpet because wasn't that right? You'd push and push and push until they finally gave in or until you realized that they wouldn't. Either way, you'd be going to Fortuna, but it mattered to you whether you had their support or not.

Your father looked like he was dreading his decision already and you felt that taste of victory. You're finally going to Fortuna. After months and months of hard work, toiling at the ground to bear fruit, and you finally had it within your reach.


Your father clenched his eyes shut even further and your mother softly laughed into her hand at this. "How long will you be gone?"

"A month at the most," confidence and adrenaline running through you all at once. You were finally getting somewhere! "Would I be able to count on your financial assistance if I am fortunate enough to adopt a child?"

Your father looked sharply up at you and you almost dreaded the answer he would give, but his pinched features almost immediately relaxed into something softer. "Yes you can."

Neither he nor your mother had expected the embrace you had for them.

Chapter Text

You were practically skipping up the carpeted marble stairs of the house. On your face was a wide grin; something that was considered a remarkable rarity.

You were ecstatic.

You just came home to your new house from the multiple banks you have visited today. Though it was horribly tedious to visit many different branches of many different banks just to get a grasp of how much money your father had given you, you were astounded at the sheer amount of money that was contained in them.

Your delight was so palpable that you couldn't wipe the grin off of your face, even after you plunged headlong into the soft down of your bed. You considered screaming into the pillows for a hot minute.

This was your house, which you bought (though both of your parents helped in finding a good deal with a great location and amazing interior design). Honestly, you couldn't get more spoiled than this, but when you raised this concern with your parents, they waved it away, stating that you deserved it with how hard you had worked.

Even though there are millions of people out there who are working harder and at worse hours than me, I'll take all the advantages I could get, you thought unabashedly. This isn't something I should never touch, and money is meant to be used.

(There was a little voice ringing inside your ears. "Why the sudden change of heart? Don't have the stomach for hardship? How utterly weak of you, and I have to say that I honestly expected better."

The voice was ruthless, tearing through your insecurities all at once. "And you were so eager to become independent too, eager to starve yourself maybe? Though with how you're acting, I'm surprised you have the nerve to come crawling back to your parents and begging for their money. I'm surprised at your indecisiveness. If you're choosing a path, you must learn to suffer and trudge along that path, not go begging at your parents' doorstep for scraps like a child.")

Well, you sounded like an outright dick, but surely a smart dick? It would be shortsighted and simply dumb if you wasted the opportunities given to you.

You rolled around in your bed (An actual bed! A king-sized bed! With the perfect pillows, blanket, duvet, everything!) comforting in the fact that this was actually yours. Something you bought from the money you had saved up, and you would pay the bills with your own money. It filled you with pride, because you were finally getting somewhere; so close to doing what you were meant to do.

Your schedule was cleaned up. Your house was cleaned up. All debts and financial problems cleaned up. All important files and documents required for traveling to and from Fortuna and for adopting a child according to laws of Fortuna, were cleaned up.

(Though you would prefer to keep all dealings and procedures legal, you would not hesitate to bribe or resort to illicit transactions if you would not be permitted to travel without Nero or his papers. You heaved a sigh of relief when you learned that none of these would be necessary, only requiring a little tip for quicker processing. It was tricky to find multiple loopholes in their granted visas and requirements along with their laws, but you always made do with what you had. )

Perhaps it was time to child-proof this house, you mused. Maybe to go as far as redecorating a room would not be amiss.

You were determined to get everything right for Nero. Everything must be perfect. Though taking care of him would surely not be perfect, then at least your preparations might be so.

You try to think back on an exchange you had with your father while consulting one of Fortuna's few embassy representatives on visas and traveling.

"Are you absolutely certain that you want to go through with adoption?" His tone and gaze was judging, assessing any flaw in his decision and looking for a way he could stop you.

You were resolute in your decision and made it visible throughout your entire body: in the straightening of your posture, in the set of your jaw, in the leveling of your head— your determination shone through these. "I am certain, father."

"Yet you are not prepared to take care of a child yet, aren't you?"

"No I am not," you stated firmly, "but I don't think anyone truly is."

Father gave a small smile, a hint of his lips curling up at the edges but he turned away too quickly for you to catch it fully. "Are you not too young to care for a child?"

You gave a little snort in reply. "There are many others, far younger than I, who choose to care for a child. Unlike them however, I can boast to be much better than them in both knowledge, wisdom, and financial support."

"Yes, you can," he said. "and you are far too cocky to deserve it."

You smirked. "I can also count on my dear parents if all else fails, can I not?"

"Why do you continue to go on about wanting to be independent if you use that as an argument anyways?" He let out a comically long sigh, almost making you chuckle. "But yes, you can count on us for support. Besides, you cannot possibly hope to take care of yourself, what more if you care for a child as well?"

You were ready, and maybe it was time to go to IKEA and struggle over putting together furniture for the child.


It's almost been ten months since I came to the Devil May Cry universe, you thought. It feels like such a blur. And wasn't that weird? No matter how many times you've said the words 'Devil May Cry', you still feel that same shock running through your spine. Almost as if asking you "Is this real? Am I dreaming?" You aren't sure yourself.

You were sitting in the airport, black leather seat facing towards a floor-to-ceiling window that showed no current airplanes taking off, and waiting at the gates, airplanes smaller than the ones you were used to riding. It was just so that you were waiting in one of these gates.

You checked your watch again out of boredom. 15:46. You rolled your eyes. Of course it didn't move—you'd just checked ten seconds ago. The flight was set to depart at 17:15, not for another hour or so.

Why on earth you convinced yourself to come so early, you don't know yourself. However, it's been hammered into your head again and again that you must come to the airport at least four hours before the flight. Did you know that checking in your baggage at this airport would have practically no line, it being an airport one usually used for domestic flights? Of course not, but you did so just in case.

What a shame that is, you mused to yourself as you tapped repeatedly on the handrest. The airport isn't bad in and of itself. It just needs some....tidying. The airport was spacious as it wasn't cramped to the brim with tourists. The facilities, on the other hand, would need some fixing. You could feel the chair you were sitting on creak every time you leaned your back on it. Considering how empty the airport was, you could safely conclude that the interior of the airplane would be too.

And you were correct. Unfortunately, boarding was delayed though only for a few minutes giving you the appropriate time to settle your wildly scattered thoughts. There was a constant pounding in your head: chanting in chorus this is it, this is it, this is it.

As you dragged your carry-on and settled into your seat (Did it still matter where you sat with almost all the seats empty in the already small plane?), you tried to settle yourself into some semblance of calm. So instead, you tortured yourself with the thought of how fucking exhausting this trip would be. Let me run it down real quick again, shall we?

This flight took an hour, to stop over at an International Airport. From there, you wouldn't have to worry about picking up the bags you checked-in, instead to wait for three more hours. Only then would you be able to board a staggeringly long and exhausting eleven-hour flight to Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy, where you hoped to manage a very deep sleep. If you've timed this correctly, it would be more or less eight in the morning (four in the afternoon in Milan) so you planned to make the most out of your five-hour break by walking and eating and getting used to the difference in time. Before finally, a one hour flight to a domestic airport (conveniently named Foggia Gino Lisa) where you can fucking finally rest properly in a hotel for a night (apologies for the late arrival and check in, I'll pay that fifty euro fee please, I have practically nowhere else to go).

All this while fielding immigration in all these airports and other fees not included with what you already paid for and your probable papers for adoption in Fortuna when the child's papers were nowhere to be found yet. Lovely.

Oh boy, we haven't discussed the land trip yet, have we? You grit your teeth in frustration, a habit you never were able to get rid of.

After your rest, there was a local bus going to a port where you can finally ride a boat for three god-forsaken hours to the famed Isla di Fortuna. The catch? The bus-ride was five hours long.

So you'd wake up at the ass crack of dawn, take a warm shower, drag your shit to a bus stop where plenty others were lined up, die of heatstroke inside the cramped bus, have lunch, take a boat ride where you would no doubt puke your gut out, arrive at Fortuna, avail of portable internet (If they have. If they don't, then you're stuck with shitty 'international coverage' internet that is so fucking weak you could get in a fight with it and win.), and stumble around looking for baby Nero. With luck, you'd arrive in Fortuna at around three in the afternoon, the fucking worst under the Mediterranean sun at an island with no air conditioning with its pre-historic architecture.

And you were just on the first flight. Marvelous.


Why didn't I just fucking stay at home? Why did I have to have a goddamn hero syndrome that made me go to this goddamn hellhole and decide to AH FUCK—!

Another wave sent the boat (as large as it was) move up and down, making your stomach roll with all the fish you ate during lunch. It almost made you want to lurch sideways and throw up. As wonderful as the food was, you were running on minimal sleep and a fucked up posture. Your neck and back whined like a little bitch at every movement, and your attitude was no better.

All the money in the world and I'm still not content, you thought bitterly. What I would do to just snap my fingers and be there already. You had a feeling you would not be taking Nero to Fortuna for summer vacation as you had planned.

Ugh, this is already so exhausting by myself. What more if I'm carrying for a fucking child that's going to bawl its brains out every two hours? But you are merciful. You are calm. You are an angel. You will not murder anyone. You will not go back on your goal. If you did, all you could imagine was a mocking mother and father.

"Too much of responsibility? Couldn't handle the burden?" They would taunt. So right now, all you had to do was grit your teeth as you fought through the sick in your stomach (for the love of all things good and holy, you would not call it seasickness).

The sun was beating down harshly on your skin and you were very glad you had the awareness to apply sunblock on your skin. August did not bode well for you, hiking up the prices for boat rides to and from Fortuna—you clearly weren't the only one who wanted to look around the island. Though the flight to the International Airport was empty, the plane to Malpensa was not, and the plane to Foggia Gino Lisa even worse.

Nothing would beat the heat and humidity inside the bus however. Though you knew for a fact that you reserved a seat in a bus that had AC, you simply did not feel that all. With your skin pressed up against the hot glass of the window and your thighs feeling the heat emanating from the dark plastic seat, the only assurance that there was AC was the noisy rattling coming from right above you.

But that was before you tasted lunch. Lunch made you stumble into a quaint restaurant dragging three enormous bags with wonky wheels. Then you tasted the pasta: simple, bright, and bursting with flavor. You were not shy with ordering the white wine. You were fully sated and well-fed when you stepped on the boat going to Fortuna.

This was a dreadful mistake. As the contents of your stomach rolled around like the waves carrying you, you pondered if this was their scheme: filling unsuspecting tourists with delicious food and filling them with the urge to puke as you sailed around on choppy waves.

This went on for two more hours. Two more hours of trying to find a seat on the damned boat where you can strap yourself to and never come back out. Two more hours of feeling that sickly bile rise up your throat, pushing it down so that other passengers won't scram when they see you. Two more hours of your lunch attempting to go back to its home.

Fucking holy shitty hell hole that I've—MERDE! Shat stain twat of a brain why did you make me come here? Eat shit and die you fucktard—FUCK FUCK FUCK!

By the time the boat slowed down, you've barely had time to redeem your image when a voice from a speaker startled you enough to forget your stomach. The voice first said its piece in Italian, eventually speaking in accented English. "Good afternoon tourists! We will dock in Port Caerula in five minutes. We expect passengers to alight the boat in an orderly manner." This continued on, explaining how you will be expected to get off the boat, also explaining the bags and how their services on the boat will leave the port in five hours yet how you all will be expected to get off the boat in twenty minutes. You know, the whole shebang.

During the announcement, people started standing up and using that time to move below so that they could be the first to get off the damned boat. Honestly, you couldn't fault them. If you were in a better state (and a worse mind) you would do the same as well. The boat was hot and humid with all the cramped people and you would rather go out and smell the fresh sea breeze if not for your rebellious stomach.

Despite this, you couldn't help but grit your teeth as passengers stood up all around you despite the warnings given via the announcements (most certainly heard) over fucking speaker? How impatient can you be? Could you not, for five more minutes, wait for the boat to stop so that you can go the fuck off on your merry way? Are you that eager to post pictures of classy architecture on your Instagram accounts so that you can show off how sophisticated and elegant you are? Because in any occurrence, this is neither sophisticated nor elegant.

But you digress. If you were in a lighter mood, you would excuse this faux pas because what else could you expect from simple idiots? Ultimately, you can't expect them all to be like you.

Regardless, you inwardly praise those who also chose to sit down and shoot dirty looks at those who stood up. Ah, I see you're a man of culture as well.

The tourists standing up are being guided by staff to where their bags are, totally ignoring the announcement. They probably deal with a lot on a daily basis so you have no place to judge. It would take a longer time to get off the boat, you note. More time to make myself look like a normal person.

What do you expect? It does take longer than twenty minutes for the boat to dock and the passengers already standing file out. At this point, the families and tourists who have common sense calmly collect their bags and politely line up to be lead by a member of the staff.

You? You're just chilling there, pinching the bridge of your nose and wondering when the hell will they be finished so you can leave while no one's looking because you look like utter crap? Holy shit, you've even resorted to use your grandmother's eucalyptus and peppermint oil blend to spread on your forehead just to get rid of the headache.

By the time you're the only passenger left on the boat, you've finally managed to look like a human being and not Bruce Banner. You manage to stand up without stumbling and retrieve your hefty bags in the same manner. Thankfully, you're assisted with the bags and you manage to make it off the boat in record time. You drag your bags behind you with (yes all three of them) across a wooden bridge, connecting the tall boat to the height of the craggy white cliffs overseeing the blue water.

You were hit by a thought with the speed of a barreling truck. I was on a damn boat and I didn't get to appreciate it? What the fuck?

Only then were you really able to appreciate the view—blue waters crashing on white cliffs and receding gently. Boats and their ropes were swaying to the calming rhythm of the tides. Further out, you could see the smaller waves push and pull, creating a hypnotic swirl that would be confusing if you didn't know where the tides were going.

It was beautiful.

The sea breeze was perfume to your senses, something that you might taste if you opened your mouth. It ruffled through your pretty tan palazzo pants and through your butterfly sleeves. Though your hair might look a mess after this, you were happy that you were able to enjoy the air without choking on it.

You've been shown pictures of the game before. You've frowned and asked multiple times before if you could get a better view with better lighting, citing disdain for the shitty quality. Your friends have laughed in response, saying that was how the game worked.

With a wistful express on your face, you wondered what they would do in your situation.

Chapter Text

Daniya's summary of the 22nd Edition of the 1987 Fortuna: Fortuna As We Knew Of It and As We Know Of It.

Fortuna was different. Of course, Fortuna is rumored to have worshipped the demon Sparda as their Savior to the point of creating another entire branch of Christianism to worship him. But we can't exactly count that, can we?

Fortuna was different in the sense that it still operated under the European Union. They still used euros (not lire anymore darling), traded with mainland Italy, and somehow maintained a civil relationship with the rest of the countries surrounding it. However, Fortuna was considered an autonomous region under Italy. In short, it was somehow like a state of Italy, yet it didn't follow the majority of its laws. It's tricky to understand, and can't be fully explained in a few sentences.

It's crucial to understand the concepts and conflicts of the renaissance in Italy, since it was also the start of a new era in Fortuna. Since the renaissance, late 15th century and early 16th century Fortuna started cutting off relations from the mainland, starting several feudal wars between personality, religious leaders, and other aristocrats who have laid claim to the island. These families vied for the island, however they feared for sacrificing their own money and resources to obtain the island.

Historians also observe that though Fortuna was attractive and tempting to hold, strategically it would be harder to sustain and protect from the families that resided nearer to the coastline. One particular power to be feared was the pope. The pope carried the weight of the Church behind him, and so did the rest of his family. Was it a coincidence that Fortuna started cutting relations during one of the most hectic and stressful times of the renaissance? Many think not. With many events occurring during the time of the most infamous Pope Alexander VI, there was wisdom in dividing his attention between the warring city-states, his family, and other political affairs. However, there was also a streak of folly in this move.

The pope recorded the island of Fortuna as an enemy of the Church. Throughout the centuries, many saw the island as a source of rich and untapped natural resources: a waste in their eyes. How could a tiny island utilize it all? Records found in abandoned structures point that their trade before relied heavily on iron and woodcraft. The island's geography was layered and uneven, forests and iron deposits. They would be perfect for building ships and boats for exploration in lands—an activity encouraged during the renaissance.

In history, siege warfare concerning an island induces terrible losses. Those who wished to occupy the island are aware of this, also aware of the tactics that can lead to victory. Those who wished to starve out the island-city were fools and would require heavy manpower and ships. Though they did not lack for money, it would be folly to fight a battle on two fronts and lives were costly.

Over time, great groups of people would gather and dream of occupying Fortuna for their fancy. They'd soon recognize their drunken ramblings and forget it: a ship developed so perfectly and intricately in the 17th century, created solely for the purpose of speed, could make the trip in around seven hours. Modern vessels powered by gas and steam and fuel can make a one-way trip in five to four hours.

One such drunkard was Marchetti the Warmonger. To his back, it was Marchetti the Fool. Though his first name is unknown, Marchetti was a rich heir to one family in what is Montegrosso today. He was aggressive and quick to anger, always drinking and whoring. After his father died, he had inherited a large sum of money which he squandered. He wasn't entirely simple however. When the coffers have run dry, he turned his eyes to taxing his servants. Which turned to taxing the entire area his father had occupied.

Marchetti practiced violence in his adolescence and turned to it again in his adulthood. When people refused to pay the absurd taxes he set, he ran them to the ground with an iron fist. With the last of his money, he had hired a group of soldiers, which he sent to pillage and raid other villages with. He was a textbook bully.

He watched his little army grow and grow, piled on his newly acquired fortune of grains and gold. He let them train and train and came across a curious proposal. The proposal was pleasing; a group of bankers would lend him a veritable fleet of boats armed with catapults and trebuchets and all other sorts of siege weapons. In return, Marchetti would march and sail for the island of Fortuna, take and occupy the island, mine an amount of iron ore for the bankers, and sail the iron back.

This concluded their negotiations. They shook hands on it and Marchetti readied his brigades. Though no one exactly knows what happens, a little boy's notebook of a few months after tells quite a chilling tale.

I woke up in the middle on the night and I saw something! Mama didn't know what it was but she looks scared of it. I think it's because we haven't seen Papa and big brother for a really long time but I think they'll be back!

I think I know why I woke up. Night turned into day! Can you believe that? Mama said it was fire but I've never seen fire so big before! It touched the sky, and it smelled really bad. It looked very strange looking up at the night sky and seeing dark then looking at the ocean and seeing bright light.

I couldn't go back to sleep. Mama prays with Lucia at the beach every morning because the guards like her. I wanted to go with her but Mama said it was too dangerous now. I'm mad because I wanted to come with her to see the big fire and not to pray. Don't tell Mama.

Lucia couldn't go back to sleep too. Lucia thinks that God is angry. I think that Lucia is stupid. Then she hit me in the head with her doll! We play and talk for a while but we hear someone knock really hard on the door. Lucia and I both think it's a guard and Mama says to never talk to strangers. I'm not supposed to be scared but Lucia is crying. What a baby.

I'm a big boy so I'm the one in charge while Papa isn't home. Mama says that's brave and she kisses my forehead and I like it. But Mama isn't here either. I opened the door and there are guards carrying Mama. I wanted to ask but they're saying really confusing things. I don't really understand them.

Something about fire, and a head, and a boat? Mama looks like after she drinks the wine she saved for Papa. I think she's sick again.

Edited for clarity and grammar. Terms and words unfamiliar were replaced to the closest translation possible.

Though not a reliable source, the clearest one can glean from this account is that Marchetti and his fleet have burned alive in a fire so high it reached the sky. We do not know how much of this boy's account is real or exaggerated by childish fancy. However, in all other accounts in what is dubbed the 'Pyre of the Ocean' by the locals, incredulously follows the child's tale. Descendants of surviving families who have witnessed this event have shared that their ancestors have seen something so terrible and glorious at once.

They think it is a work of God like the little girl Lucia. Their forebears recount a great wall of fire built with the kindling of sunken ships. In the next fortnight, they tell of greater horrors—the reason why they call Marchetti a fool instead of a simple warmonger.

When the ships have stopped burning for two weeks, they wake up in the morning to find something akin to snow on their beach. In the fog, they tell of a lone boat slowly moving forward towards the shore. The tell that the boat is pristine as it cuts through all the ash blocking out the sun. They tell that it was the only beauty they've seen that morning.

They tell of debauchery. It differs from family to family of what debauchery has occurred. Some say that a body was nailed to the mast of the boat in a mockery of the Jesus Christ. Some say that it was a body so ravaged and mauled that it could pass of as a butcher's scrap meat. Some say that it was body so clinically sliced and tortured. Some say that the body was crushed to death, gore and blood seeping out of what was supposed to be eyes; a bloodless yet savage death. Some say that the body had its eyeballs sewn into its mouth and throat, stomach and bowels emptied and displayed a heart in its place. Some say that the body was rotting. Some say that the body was fresh. All agreed that it hurt. All agreed that it was Marchetti. All agreed that the body was dressed as a fool.

All tell that the boat had iron, no doubt more iron than what was agreed on. They didn't know if it was a threat to the bankers who have commissioned for the siege. What they do know was that it was a message. Word quickly spread within the province about the demon island and of Marchetti the Fool. It was effective.

Whoever ruled Fortuna was quick and decisive in their actions—Machiavelli would have approved.

 


You tried to run down everything you knew about Fortuna from a book published in 1987. It was edited multiple times for accuracy and timeliness, and you've tried to summarize what the the outside world knew of Fortuna. However, there wasn't really much to go by.

Judging by the text, there were multiple conflicts between Fortuna and the rest of the world who tried to hold and claim Fortuna. Better than running across Italy in search of stories about the conflicts between man and demon, it would be better to look at the antagonism on another side—preferably a side that was more contained and had written records that were preserved very well: another point in your favor.

Your flats tapped furiously against the cobblestone. You've just left your luggages at your hotel room. It was a nightmare to get a booking for a decent room for an entire month, but who cares when you have the cash to back it up. You briefly remember the ticked box of 'dichiaro di farmi carico delle sue spese di sostentamento durante il soggiorno' on a paper you had to sign. Declare being able to bear his/her living costs during the abovementioned period of stay. Hell yeah you did.

Wow, that was wonderful to not pay for a late check-in fee. The receptionist was delighted to inform you that Fortuna had two main languages: Italian and English so you didn't have to stumble through your subpar Italian for too long before they realized. Plus, your room had air conditioning and hot water settings so that was a score.

You had exactly one month to get Nero and his papers, and all you had was your money, your wits, and your tongue. Somehow, you had to convince them that it would be better for them to put the child's care in your hands but you didn't know how well that conversation would go.

You're speed walking on the cobblestone roads with nothing but a sling-bag filled with your essentials. Though it would be nice, to look around, you'd have plenty of time to do that over the month. Convincing people and filing papers took time, you knew that from personal experience. You take so many twists and turns, only guided by the GPS on your phone and some guide pictures. How the fuck will I memorize the route now, it practically looks like I'm a noob assassin in Florence trying to find his way to Leonardo da Vinci.

As you take another sharp turn, you thank the heavens that you had the sense to dress in light colors. Then you abruptly stop. For the first time in minutes, you take your nose out of your phone. People are staring at you strangely, and why wouldn't they? No proper tourist would walk around like a stalker, eyes glued to their phone while barely looking at their surroundings.

They marked you as weird, and you remember that according to the Wikipedia articles that you've read, Fortuna was very conservative. It was a miracle they accepted tourists at all. Compared to the rest of Italy, they weren't as accepting when it came to you and your fashion choices.

You observed the people passing by you; they ducked their head near you, trying not to stare for too long. Ah, you thought as you finally summoned your wits. The women all wore skirts, their clothes covering as much skin as possible even under the miserable heat. You wonder for a moment how they deal with sweaty armpits, and you almost facepalm because duh they still have deodorant. You stray to that topic for a beat before returning yourself to a different land.

Well they must be used to tourists, since they finally opened their borders fifteen-something years ago. Naturally, everybody would be curious of the oddity that was Fortuna. Fortuna drew many artists, poets, and even scientists. Researchers like you, who intend to find out about their history.

You tried to ignore their gaze (of what type, you don't know) and try figuring out why you stopped in the first place. Then you recognize the formation of the buildings, then the buildings themselves. You remember you hesitated at the crossroad right in front of you when you suddenly hear someone clear their throat behind you.

You whip your head around to apologize for holding them up for a long time, and though you were crass you weren't rude. "I'm so sorry, but c'è qualcuno qui che parla inglese?" Does anyone here speak English?

She raised a hand up in response, almost as if to tell you to calm the fuck down. In fact, her expression showed that she was rather irritated however resigned she may be. "Though your Italian is passable, I'd rather you stick to English," she grumbled. "If you'll excuse me, I have somewhere to go."

She turned her cowl up (probably to protect her dark hair from the heat) and turned towards the fork your GPS told you to go. Well it seems like it was fate that you met. You made the decision to bother her for the rest of her afternoon. You jogged to keep up with her already fast pace, trying to catch her attention again. So long for not being rude, I guess.

"Miss, it seems like I'm lost," you try to say as loudly as possible without being rude to other people. You instantly see dirty looks thrown your way. Guess not. "Could you show me where the orphanage is?"

This only got her walking faster, ducking her head low and lengthening her strides. Would it be better to leave her alone or try to accost the poor woman? Decisions, decisions. Well it already seemed like you were an asshole already so what was the point anymore? Though you were staying for one month, so it would be wise to make friends and not bother her? Right? Well pop goes the fucking weasel, the people were wary of you now and not even in a good way. It hasn't even been three hours yet, that has to be a new world record.

You briefly wonder what it would be like telling this to future Nero. So get this Nero, I'm on my heroic mission to adopt you and I irritate the one person that actually talked to me. Yep, you heard it right, all less than three hours. I'm a fucking miracle, aren't I?

You quickly open your phone and it concluded what you thought you've been doing for the last ten minutes. Yep, who's a dum-dum? It's yours truly! You're almost tempted to bang your head on the nearest surface when you see your map rerouting to a road you're sure you've never walked through.

You keep your strides long and quick, trying to close the distance between you and your destination as quick as possible. Your battery was running low and your powerbank was practically drained. If you wanted to not get lost returning to the hotel, you had to find the damn orphanage now.

As much as possible, you tried to ignore the slowly decreasing battery on your cellphone but now you just had to glance at the little bar that indicated—4%. Damn. You tried to memorize the route that you would take because it was slowly getting dark. You know what, fuck it. If you didn't head back to the hotel now, your battery would die and you would be lost in the dark.

To travelers without signal, battery, or a map, getting lost in the dark is one of the worst possible situations. Your entire environment shifts because of the change of lighting and landmarks don't look the same than what you've previously seen.

Now your turning off your phone because you know in your head that you'll need it way more later. You retrace the steps that you do remember while there's still some light. In the case that you absolutely do not remember your way back (which turns out more often than most), you swipe another peek at your map and try to memorize the paths you will take. It's all just a haze of almost sprinting in so many different directions that you can't even count—left, right at the second, right, straight ahead at the third and following along left side until you can see a fountain.

You try to make the most of your battery, you really do. When you finally see more people wearing shorts and jeans, you can finally feel yourself loosen because at least you can get lost together. As you start to calm yourself and remember your surroundings enough to recall the path to the hotel, you berate yourself. I honestly thought I was smarter than this. Though I might be in a hurry to get the papers done, impatience is terrible and I have a month to get this all done.

You started picking your pace up when you finally set eyes on the doors of the hotel. You try to paste a friendly smile on your face and not look like a dour woman who was taking out her anger on the poor receptionist.

You recognize the woman on the front who received you earlier; a sweet young woman who looked eager to guide you. Yep, it would be plain rude if I was a bitch to her. Though it would be a pain to act preppy when you're nowhere feeling it, it wouldn't be much of a pain to soften your features just a tad.

"Hey," you start out. Success. "Can you recommend places to eat?" Her practiced smile easily slacks and her eyebrows shoot up—which also took you by surprise. Does no one ask the locals of anything or is she really that surprised to be asked of where to eat?

She quickly catches herself (props to her) into a more genuine expression. "I'm sorry," she tried to wave away the worried look you probably gave her. "It's not something I'm used to answering." There was a beat of empty silence where you didn't know where to reassure her or if she will quickly resume her side of the conversation. You being familiar with this dance doesn't make it any less awkward—it was a position which you tried to avoid as much as possible.

She gracefully managed to maneuver (thank Sparda for small mercies) the discussion to your previous point. "There are many restaurants that I might recommend over the stay of your visit," she answered. Which seemed wise, you thought, to think about the entire stay of my visit and alternate the different restaurants to avoid monotony.

"The one I'd recommend to you today is the one nearest to us right now." She looked eager to tell you the directions repeatedly until you memorized it, which was handy since at least you knew a restaurant you could go to when you had no time to stroll and look around. "I almost forgot to tell you this but I'd especially recommend the house wine," she added hurriedly as you were about to leave.

You gave her a little wave, and who were you kidding? Of course I'd order the house wine. You'd found the dear little restaurant that was filled with Fortuna locals who looked at you weirdly when you asked for a table. Considering you had plenty of practice, you ignored them and ordered some orata that was being offered (well you were on an island and you would feast yourself on the deathly cheap seafood while you were still here). It seemed positively appetizing, cooked in fennel and wine, quite like lumache alle milanese but without the lumache (Would orata alle milanese be more appropriate?). Their house wine was crisp and sweet, pairing delightfully well with the fish.

There was a sweet cafe next to it—probably owned by the same family. You enjoyed a little slice of sponge cake garnished with sweet cream cheese and drizzled over with melted dark chocolate. You were tempted to buy coffee but you were afraid of how the coffee would react to the alcohol already in your stomach. Would it harm you?

You pranced around a bit, trying to take a look around the wonderfully lit streets, trying to appreciate the night without the pollution and the shit. You tried to admire the way the buildings looked wonderful against the dark sky, yet all you could think about was how you had wasted a day. A measly day, but a day that you could've started something big nonetheless.

Perhaps tomorrow would be the day where you changed the course of the universe.

Maybe you had already done it.

Chapter Text

There were many sports you've engaged in throughout your life. Your parents, after all, had insisted that you not be a lazy bum and (pardon their French) move your ass for once in your life.

Your education was Athenian in nature—well-rounded by word but flawed in execution. By your parents' insistence, you picked up multiple sports and activities: badminton, tennis, swimming, volleyball, basketball, cricket, softball, football. You could make it into a rap if you wanted. You've tried multiple, yet you were mediocre at best in all of them. Sometimes, you were even downright terrible in them.

When you're parents found out that practically none of them would keep your interest for long, they finally let you try a few martial arts. And though you gave up on them after a time due to the increasing amount of workload you had to bear in school, they held your interest for a very long time (you were a very violent child). As of now, the only ripostes you would engage in would be verbal in nature, and they're the only likely ones you'll ever win at.

The reasoning was simple: you were an ambitious child. You wished to be great at everything, expecting things to arrive on a golden spoon at the first call. Heck, the reason why you chose the profession of being a researcher is because you thought it was extremely hard and though that not many passed (which isn't wrong), many also doubted your self-discipline to complete such a grueling and cutthroat track. Because with your lengthy accreditations, dissertations, and researches published and used by students aiming for the STEM track in universities around the globe, who the fuck would dare question you?

Motivations aside, you were the very definition of a popular phrase. 'Jack of all trades, master of none' meant that most of your skills weren't refined enough. Though your skills were enough to carry a conversation with an avid fan or an expert on a subject, walking the talk was a whole other thing. But oftentimes better than a master of one, you supposed.

Perhaps now you can think of something of mastering, and that something is what you are doing currently.

You were walking with your phone out, quickly snapping pictures of buildings whenever you saw great lighting. And honest to God, the sunrise was so lovely with its orange hues illuminating the symmetrical arches and domes. No irony or sarcasm(how shocking), but the way the light shined on the little detailed friezes, casting dark shadows on white stone—it cast everything in a hazy warm glow that you just wanted to bask in.

You wanted to savor the air while it was not yet muggy and heavy in a way that settled into your clothes. The cold sea breeze wafting over you, clinging to your lips and tempting you to lick them. You knew you'd taste nothing, but the promise of salt and fragrance almost wish you did. Instead of the warmth being uncomfortably stifling, it was a welcome feeling on your skin. It wasn't something easily described, quite like the smell of damp and dewy grass or the comfort of a warm blanket. It was only a feeling that you liked, and subjective thoughts were very hard to describe.

You've set out early, walking towards the orphanage in cobblestone streets now lit by the glorious sun. It made you feel a tad better, knowing that you the chances of getting lost would be considerably lower than setting out at night. But now that you could see everything clearly, you paced yourself to enjoy the view that could only be granted for a short amount of time.
You're wearing the good shit right now: you paired cute black doll shoes with a light pink floor-length drape skirt, and a collared white blouse as your top. It's the type of shit that you'd wear on a date but could also wear to tea with your grandmother. It's classy, it's not too prissy, it's perfect for conservative neighborhoods but you could still get caught wearing it. You carried a purse in your hand, where you fit in all your essentials.

You shied away from carrying large and bulky backpacks, for the sole fact that you didn't need it. Your aim wasn't to go around and take pictures and tire yourself out. No, your aim was to study and persuade. Practically all your fucking skills and existing personality would go into this. This wasn't Daniya's work, this was yours.

This was your work, through and through. Daniya didn't mean jackshit now, and whatever expertise she had would not be needed.

You're taking note of every twist and turn, memorizing before appreciating, until you step in front of an orphanage. You remember the papers you had to go through, the interviews, the talks, the arguments, the debates. It all lead you right in front of this fucking orphanage.

It only had one floor, but it was large and sprawling. It was almost like a mansion reminiscent of the renaissance, difficult to keep up and filled with antiques that could easily fracture beneath the slightest graze. There were no gates; the building demanding respect and awe from everyone. Which was a wonder, since orphanages were usually treated with disdain from where you were from.

Italy didn't require anything post-adoption and so did Fortuna. Fortuna was a different place from Italy, and though it followed some of the rules set by the government, it didn't follow all. To your advantage, both Italy and Fortuna required you to be at least eighteen years of age. Which you were! Fortuna differed where you could practically take the child and scram—which made you want to throw a fit because who the fuck makes it so fucking lax to adopt a child internationally?!

Fortuna, that's what.

Well, they weren't that lax. The embassy still put up a good fight against you and your dad—a compliment in all things but name. You were quite surprised that they held up quite so long that was the ferocity that was your father's persuasion and your mother's connections. But Fortuna wouldn't break any rules for a mere heiress that wanted to adopt, they'd only bend.

Everything that you did was perfectly legal (borderline), and would be difficult if your host body was born into a different family.

Nonetheless, whatever you've accomplished has led you to this doorstep, facing two dark wooden doors. You knock twice. You wait for a while, fiddling with the waistband of your skirt.

You wait.

And wait.

And wait until you have to physically suppress the urge to fidget like a child. You bore a hole in the wood where you expect a matron to suddenly appear. You let out a half-sigh, half-groan because what the actual fuck did you expect at coming to a building at—you clicked your phone open—a quarter past seven?

You rolled your eyes, clearly outlining in your head all the possible things you could do. The rash part of you insisted on knocking again, but if you were in their position, you would slit the throat of anybody who dare wake you up before the appropriate time. So that was a no.

Though disappointing, it would be best to go out and explore a bit. Perhaps you'd be back after two or three hours? You try to wait for a few more minutes, wondering if they might just be running late, but that would be positively ludicrous since you've knocked minutes ago. With how big the estate was, it would be a wonder if anyone actually heard your little knocks.

Like a weirdo, you take an extra ten seconds to decide what you're gonna do until you declare that fuck it, you're not gonna wait around 'till it's suffocatingly hot, doing practically nothing and accomplishing less. You might as well just look for the local library while you're at it (Biblio—what? Biblioteca? Isn't that Spanish or some shit? Pretty sure that's Spanish).

You book it. You try to get away from there as fast as possible because if anyone caught you standing there for the longest time, knocking, twiddling your thumbs, and running away—your pride would be in tatters. Your self-image would go down the drain and so would your social life. You would isolate yourself from the rest of the world, never to be seen again.

You're certain that if you had the power that is x-ray vision, you would see people laying peacefully on their beds, smirking quite evilly. Bastards, the lot of them.

You flounce away with the dignity you have left (You had dignity in the first place? Astounding.) making it seem as if you were given incorrect directions by your phone with the use of very helpful method acting, where you tilt your head slightly and look increasingly more frustrated with the phone's directions. Hell, you even turn randomly just for the hang of it, watching as your phone's GPS reroutes multiple times at your admittedly ridiculous behavior.

But though your directions were unclear enough to throw off any potential stalker looking at patterns in your behavior, your intentions were not. You were always systematic in a sense—even with all your emotional constipation and faults. You almost never wing it, and when you do, you're perfectly aware of the possibility of that situation occurring and have slightly prepared for it in some way.

You follow your phone's directions to the best of your ability, taking teeny tiny detours that probably would've irritated your phone if it had a brain. The detours were consistently about something that caught your eye twice, and you are not kidding when you say that they are as lovely as your imagination makes it up to be.

A detailed but dried up fountain? Go for it! A frieze that looked pretty when it caught the light in a certain way? Snap a few photos! An interesting looking alley where you could probably be cornered and murdered in a wonderfully brutal way? Hooray!

But when you've reached your quota of childlike curiosity, you ended up trudging along to the path going to the library.

Alas, you've reached the library: several stories high and grand in size and style (Fortuna didn't do anything half-assed). You didn't bother knocking, going straight for the door handle and testing if it opened. It was a bit tough, putting in more effort than you thought you would to open a door, but still forcing yourself to not put your entire body weight so that you won't stumble when the door gave way.

With hinges that may not have been oiled in centuries, the doors gave a mighty creak as you pushed it open, and you hastened to make yourself look decent at the librarian that was now staring you.

You notice the librarian openly gaping at you: a woman with curly dark hair with her eyes wide in shock and a dainty hand covering her mouth. You smiled.

"My apologies," you say politely. You make a show of straightening the cuffs of your sleeves. "Do you speak English?"

She quickly nods her head like a cute puppy, and flushes when she realizes her eagerness. Quite adorable. It wouldn't hurt to indulge.

You crinkle the corners of your eyes more. "I'd like to apologize again for the intrusion. Should I be back at a later time?"

Her eyes quickly snap up to meet your eyes, and she flushes even more beautifully. She was clearly assessing you earlier; the cut of your clothes, your accent, your bearing. One thing's important and it's that she looks eager to please you. Something inside you purrs at the attention. Perfect.

"No!" She mutters something under her breath and you frown. Now you're curious if you were just overconfident of your abilities or you assessed the situation wrong.

She clearly takes note of your expression and her movements are fast and jerky as she tries to wave away your discomfort. "No! It's not a problem Miss—?"

You step a little bit closer to get a better look at her. "Don't bother with the formalities." You smile. "Daniya will do fine."

A shy smile appears on her face. "My name is Elisa. What can I help you with?"

You feign disappointment, which actually wasn't that hard; you were looking forward to knowing more about her. But she wasn't part of your plans nor was befriending her your priority. She could, however, provide you with decent help in accessing information.

"I'm looking for something more about the history of Fortuna," you start. "The mainland lacks information about it and I'd like to check the information I currently have to see if it's accurate."

"Ah, certainly! We have a wide collection of books that are accessible by anyone in Fortuna. Unfortunately, many of these books currently loaned are —"

You listen to her rambling, all the while following towards a closed off section of the library. You climbed two floors worth of stairs, trying to keep track of the directions so you wouldn't get lost in this fucking maze.

"We divide our different categories by floor, where our imported releases are in the lowest floors," she further explains. "The deeper you go in to the library, the older the released books are."

She stops in front of a door, almost camouflaged by the bookshelves surrounding it. She fumbles with a few keys for a moment and finally pulled out a rusty key. She unlocked the door and pushed it wide open for you. Seeing no other choice, you stepped in.

It was a rectangular room covered wall-to-wall with bookshelves, with the books reaching up to the high ceiling. Bookshelves so seamlessly interconnected, they look like solid walls themselves. A ladder that you think would break under your weight, was seen to your right, leaning on one of the conjoined bookshelves.

In the middle of the room was a long table, further covered with more stacks of books. There was a singular chair, though it was standing a bit further to the side, which meant it was probably used to step on and reach for more books. You didn't blame whoever previously used them: you don't trust that ladder either.

"Unfortunately, this building does not have electricity. We do have oil lamps that we can give to you. Would you like me to drop by later to give you one?"

You're quite startled at this, but you nod quickly. "Very much so. I appreciate it Elisa. Would you mind if I ask a question?"

"Fire away."

"Would there be a problem with the lighting?"

She giggled. "You're not the first one to ask that. But there are small glass panes near the top of the walls. It won't do much at dusk, but it works."

You squint a little to try to see the glass panes she mentioned, but you didn't really see anything. But given the fact that this was an unopened (and quite dusty too) room with no lamps or shit, you think it's a working miracle you could see the table.

"Would it be preferable if I go and lend you a lamp?"

You nod your appreciation. It will not do to strain your eyes so early within the day. "Thank you Elisa."

Her skirt swishes as she turns around and leaves you alone in the room. She left you alone with your thoughts and your silence—she left you alone with books to sate your thirst for knowledge. Perhaps that's the greatest thing one could offer you, you muse. A warm and comfortable silence.

You tread slowly, making sure that the wooden floorboards never creak under your weight, and you eye the titles. Most were in Italian and in Latin, but your reading comprehension in foreign languages was always better than your listening, allowing you to take in the words at your own pace. All the books were aged, titles almost peeling off of the leather as if they would flutter into your hands. It's honestly fascinating of how much care they put in into preserving their books. Give a spoiled brat a library like this and these treasures would be destroyed in weeks. But these...

These are absolutely stunning.

Not only would the value on these texts be superbly high, the amount of care and maintenance it would need to have is astounding. Not only making sure that a child's grubby hands wouldn't plaster themselves all over the place with dirt and other shit, but also the mere design of the building.

The care into designing a room that receives adequate light but never once touching the books is ingenious. Careful planning would have to be put to create a building that would have limited amounts of humidity on an island in the Mediterranean. It demanded such attention to detail simply for these books that recorded their history and their knowledge.

The fact that there was someone who planned it so, that there was someone who played God for this, it send you to your fucking knees. You are awe-struck, filled with wonder at the sheer determination and time that must have been dedicated for one building. You laugh inwardly because seriously? The first thing you do is not to appreciate the books but the building housing the books? How absurd.

Then again, when you were a demon who had immeasurable amounts of experience and wisdom, who mastered demonic seals and figures and all sorts of flashy tricks, was this really a big deal?

You suppose there's a certain majesty to it; rays of light shining down and illuminating a side of the table piled high with books, seeing white specks of dust floating in the air whenever you breathe. The smell of not just dust, but of old books—wood, ink, leather, and parchment. The smell underneath the dust, was of yellowing pages so thin that if you flipped a page so carelessly they would tear.

You would show reverence to this supposed majesty. Let this be your prayer.

You walk, reaching your hand out and feeling the bumps and ridges of books as you move. It makes a little clacking sound, but against softened leather and parchment—nails gently grazing over gilded titles and embellished symbols. Feeling along the spine of one particular book that had far too many creases, you hook a finger at the edge of the spine, pulling it forward to look at the title better. You smudge your fingers along the sheet of dust and you gaze at it with appraisal.

You run the phrase in your head for a couple of times, eventually translating it. A History of the Isle of Fortune. How quaint. You pull the book forward in one motion and heaving it to grip it with both of your hands. By jove it was heavy.

"Miss—"

Fuck.

You stumble and try to righten yourself because it would absolutely not do to look like a hot mess in front of this lovely young woman. You peek from underneath the hair covering your eyes, and from the look she has on your face, she's struggling to hold in laughter.

You've forgotten about her. Clearly, your head rumbles, quite amused.

You focused on fixing yourself first, carefully adjusting the tome in your hands and walking over to the table to set it down gently. Only then do you turn your eyes to the dark-haired librarian who was still amused at your antics.

She should put a little bell around herself. Almost sent me into a heart attack but whatever. You could still feel your heart pounding. If you put your hand towards your chest (which you wouldn't since that was practically improper), you'd feel the little vibrations through your shirt. For now, you'd settle on placing your fingers on the pulse of your neck but even that would be too telling.

She approaches the table and lays three things on the table: an oil lamp, a matchbox, and a key. She vaguely gestures at the key and says, "The door locks on both the inside and the outside. If you'd like to keep your privacy, you are welcome to do so."

You pick up the same rusty key you've seen her use earlier and close your palm around it. "Thank you for the gesture, though I think I'd like to air out the room a bit more."

She nods at your dismissal and steps right out of the room. For a moment though, you see her hesitate, turning her head to look at you over her shoulder and scurrying away after you catch her looking. Is there something on my face? Seeing as there was no one around you, you touch the sides of your mouth, feeling if there was any drool and then turning to the loose strands of your hair when you find none.

You shrug it off and put the key down where you could see it at all angles unless you turn your back to it. You note that if you'd keep the door open for extended periods of time, it wouldn't do to be so caught unaware again.

The first thing you do is you carry the chair over to the end of the long table facing towards the door. Only then do you peruse the titles of the tomes stacked on the table.

If there was one difference to the book you just picked out and the ones spread out across the surface, it would be that the stacks were clearly more used than the one you picked out (judging by the creases and wrinkles on the spine. You honestly think that they'd snap in half if you open it far too quickly).

You note with some admiration that the former user of this room didn't leave their books open like a retard; instead dividing them neatly into piles you still can't discern what for. Categorized according for topic? For usefulness? For correct information? For I'll-get-back-to-you-later? If you were lucky you'd probably score some forgotten notes still hiding in between the pages.

Judging by the spread you've been given, it's safe to say the former user of this room probably expected to come back. For starters, they've never come back and rearranged the books until they were practically gathering dust (that heathen). But then again, maybe they were an asshole that expected people to clean up for them while keeping the piles still present on the table—of which you'd have to retract all sense of admiration for them.

Thinking about it, you could probably imagine the type of person who'd sit here and do this type of shit: scholarly, wearing robes, tearing their hair out in frustration at the amount of information but still not getting what they were looking for. The works.

You should ask the cute girl down there of who last occupied the room, with a decent amount of subtlety involved of course.

You didn't know much about this world, that was quite obvious. But the people of Fortuna were likely people who learned yet did not question; people who were taught to scoop water from the surface but have never dared dive deep.

Whoever who tore that many stacks of books from the bookshelves, digging deep into this library that the amount of books on the table did not equal the few bare spaces on the bookshelves; they were someone to watch out for.