Dante's Little Apple Surprise

by Tatsurou

Shared Fate

Heading further into the Tower, Dante entered a chamber that went straight up and down, with a few magic circles he could use to launch himself to great heights scattered throughout the chamber. At Agni and Rudra's suggestion, Dante went down to explore the library first. After smashing a few statues, he was able to find a chunk of Orihalcum, which Agni assured him would be important to have.

Returning to the vertical chamber, Dante used the circles to ascend all the way to the top of the chamber. As he progressed, he smashed a few more animated statues. Applejack's wielding of Artemis proved fortuitous, as the mix of magics in the arrows caused the statues to freeze and crumble slightly, allowing Dante to easily smash them.

Entering another chamber, Dante encountered a new type of demonic enemy, that looked like a mummy holding a sarcophagus. The coffin sprang open to release spirits that rose as the scythe wielding demons.

"Young Master!" Agni proclaimed on seeing them. "You must hurry to eliminate that one before you are overwhelmed by sheer numbers!"

AJ attempted to take a shot, but Artemis' arrow was blocked by the sarcophagus as it popped open. Oddly enough, the spirit that came out afterwards was blue rather than a misty gold.

"It appears Applejack's pony magic is interacting with the demons!" Rudra proclaimed.

The scythe wielder that rose from that spirit promptly began attacking the other demons instead of Dante.

"Huh, nice trick," Dante commented. "Keep it up, AJ!"

Gurgling happily, AJ proceeded to do so.

When the demons were all beaten, the ones who had been altered by being raised with AJ's shots dissolved themselves. The unmoving statue in the chamber dropped a crystal.

"That is the Siren's Shriek!" Agni proclaimed when Dante picked it up.

"It will calm the most powerful of flames!" Rudra added.

"...wasn't there a door blocked by flames back in that first chamber?" Dante asked AJ. Thinking, AJ nodded in agreement. "You mean I'm going to have to backtrack all the way back?" Dante demanded of Agni and Rudra in disbelief.

"Of course not!" Agni proclaimed. "There is a lift in the next chamber!"

"It will take you all the way back to that chamber!" Rudra explained. "You just need to activate it!"

"You better be right," Dante growled, entering the next chamber.

Finding the lift, Dante used the Orihalcum fragment to activate it, riding all the way back down the tower. Quickly finding the flame blocked door, Dante used the Siren's Shriek to clear the way and continue onward.

After activating another switch at the end of the passage, Dante broke open a container that dropped from the ceiling to acquire a Crystal Skull.

"Another key to somewhere?" Dante asked.

"Indubitably!" Agni confirmed.

"You're getting the hang of this, Young Master!" Rudra proclaimed.

Groaning, Dante headed back for the lift.

Returning to the split in the path higher up in the tower, Dante used the Crystal Skull to unlock another door. Stepping through, he found himself outside the tower on a wide walkway. Applejack touched his cheek with her hoof nervously. "Yeah," Dante said calmly, "something about this is putting my guard up, too." Feeling her shiver, he turned and smiled reassuringly at her. "Settle down, kid. There's nothing here I can't handle."

Expressing this confidence, he traversed the walkway through the next door. The doorway led him out to a ramp leading up to a wide platform at the top of the Tower...where someone he knew awaited him. "You showed up," the white haired figure said, turning to face Dante as the rain fell.

Applejack let out a curious noise, instantly spotting similarities of feature between the new person and Dante.

"You sure know how to throw a party!" Dante addressed the figure. "No food, no drinks, the only babe just left-"

"Young Master!" Agni spoke up. "That is unfair!"

"We provided refreshments!" Rudra reminded him.

"And the hosts don't know when to shut up," Dante finished grumpily.

"You let them talk, brother?" the man asked in surprise. "You are more permissive than I would be, more than Father was. My sincerest apologies if you haven't enjoyed yourself."

"Brother?" Agni spoke up. "He is also a son of Sparda?"

"Then this must be Virgil!" Rudra confirmed. "But...who are we supposed to assist?"

"I have no need of your assistance," Virgil scolded.

"That is settled!" Agni stated.

"We continue to assist Dante!" Rudra confirmed.

Applejack giggled happily at their interchange.

Virgil finally noticed the pony strapped to Dante's back. "I was unaware this was a BYOP party," he said calmly, teasingly.

"She followed me in and won't let me get rid of her," Dante joked, jerking his head back just in time to avoid AJ's snapping teeth closing on his ear. "Gotcha!" he told her, booping her nose.

"And here I was so eager to see you," Virgil commented, "and you brought guests."

"It's been a whole year since we last met," Dante pointed out. "Some things are bound to change."

"...yes..." Virgil agreed, his hand on his sword, Yamato. "Things will change tonight."

Grinning, Dante drew his gun. "So this is what they call a heartwarming family reunion, huh?"

"You got that right," Virgil agreed, drawing Yamato.

As lightning flashed, the duel between brothers began in earnest. Virgil's fast movements proved somewhat baffling for Dante, although AJ was able to track him. However, Dante cautioned her not to interfere. He would handle this himself. A rapid exchange of blows from both swords and Dante's guns later seemed to indicate that they were equally matched...although Agni and Rudra noticed that Dante was able to twist himself every time so that any blow that would have hit Applejack hit him instead. What was more interesting to them was that he didn't even seem to think about it when it happened, or even be aware he was doing it.

After a time, both brothers pulled back briefly from the clash. "Why do you refuse to gain power?" Virgil demanded. "The Power of our father Sparda?"

Dante chuckled for a bit. "I just don't like you, that's all. "So why would I be more like you?"

With that, they both charged forward, crashing their swords against each other. However, before Dante realized what was happening, Virgil had somehow sent Rebellion flying, and had run him through.

A scream of pain surprised all present. In passing through Dante's chest, Yamato had dragged across AJ's barrel, opening a gash and cutting her carry straps. She fell to the ground, clutching her bleeding side.

"Foolishness, Dante," Virgil scolded. "Foolishness. Might controls everything. And without strength..." He gestured to the bleeding foal. "You can't protect anything. Not even yourself."

With that, Virgil yanked Yamato free, grabbing Dante's half of their mother's pendant as he fell. To his surprise, however, Dante showed no awareness of this...or anything else at the moment. As he fell to the ground, he crawled over to AJ, cradling her.

"Pathetic," Virgil growled, then paused, staring. "What the...?"

As Dante cradled AJ, his blood dripped from the hole in his chest. It fell, made more fluid by the rain, into the pony's wound. Her eyes - and the marks on her flank - briefly flared with a red light, and the wound sealed itself up.

"Now isn't that interesting?" Virgil asked calmly, leaning forward for a closer look at the foal.

Applejack suddenly growled and hissed. Opening her mouth - which was suddenly filled with razor sharp fangs - she lunged forward, latching on to Virgil's neck. With a scream of pain, Virgil pushed the pony away as she tore a chunk of his flesh out. Landing, she spat the chunk out, pawing at the platform as though she were ready to lunge again.

"I don't have time for this," he growled. Seeing Dante starting to get up, he grabbed Rebellion and ran Dante through with it, pinning him to the platform.

As Dante gasped, Applejack screamed, running to his side as Virgil turned to leave. "Papa!" Applejack called out. Running up against his side, she nuzzled him. "Papa...Papa..." Tears of worry and fear fell from her eyes, to mingle with the falling rain. Burying her face against his side, Applejack felt weakness overcome her as she slipped into unconsciousness.