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Dante's Little Apple Surprise

by Tatsurou

Chapter 19: Beginning the Quest

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Arriving on Mallet Island, the trio entered through a massive gate Dante kicked open. "The castle is above this cliff," Trish explained. "Come on, let's go!" She then proceeded to leap up the cliff.

Dante stared after her as the gate closed behind them before turning to head up the path. He paused when he realized Applejack was still standing by the door, scratching her chin. "Applejack?"

Applejack frowned in thought. "...Nevan, there enough demonic magical field to manifest?"

"No," Nevan replied. "In fact, there's barely any."

"Then we're still early enough to make a difference," Dante pointed out.

"But then how did Trish know what was goin' on?" Applejack demanded.

Shrugging, Dante began ascending up the path. Growling to herself, Applejack followed.

Passing through a hole in the outer wall of the castle, they stepped inside. The hole then sealed shut behind them. "Well that isn't suspicious at all," Applejack pointed out sarcastically.

"Guess the hosts don't want any guests leaving," Dante replied.

Applejack frowned. "How come ya tried ta leave Agni and Rudra behind?" she demanded.

"In case we picked up other Devil Arms," Dante replied. "I didn't want to lose track of any-what do you mean tried?"

Reaching into the saddlebag that hung opposite Artemis' holster, Applejack pulled out Agni and Rudra.

Dante stared. "How'd they both fit in there?" he demanded, surprised.

"Spatial distortion!" Agni proclaimed.

"It's actually quite roomy!" Rudra agreed.

"Ball!" Cerberus proclaimed happily.

"Just like old times," Nevan added happily.

"Not quite," Dante pointed out, examining a sealed door. "Apparently, we need to gather a certain amount of demon essence just to open doors this time around-"

He was interrupted by a loud crash as Applejack punched a hole around each of the door's hinges, causing the still sealed door to fall to the floor. Applejack grinned up at him. "Nope!" she said happily.

Dante chuckled, mussing her mane. "Silly pony," he teased, before turning to head in.

After wandering through those halls that were open for a time, they encountered a crimson marionette clutching a rusty key. "Well that ain't at all suspicious," Applejack pointed out.

Chuckling, Dante took the key, turning to leave the room. When he heard a sound of a drawn blade and thrown projectiles, he pulled back, but nothing flew by him. Turning, he saw the marionette - knives drawn - pinned to the wall in pieces by glowing energy arrows. "Quick on the draw, partner?" he teased.

Smirking, Applejack blew imaginary smoke from Artemis' business end before spinning it back into its holster. "Ah ain't gonna let some puppet get the drop on ya," she said as she returned Nevan to guitar form and to her back. Her eyes then widened. "Pa! Behind-"

Force Edge seemed to leap into Dante's hands as he spun, splitting the puppet that dropped from the ceiling in half down the middle with an upward sweep. He smirked as it fell to pieces. "You were saying about getting the drop on me?" he teased.

Applejack chuckled. "This ain't gonna turn into a competition, is it?"

Dante grinned back, strapping Agni and Rudra to his back. "Nevan, Agni, Rudra...keep score."

"Affirmative!" Agni proclaimed.

"By your command!" Rudra confirmed.

"This is going to be fun," Nevan purred.

They continued through the castle, killing more puppets as they went. Dante switched between wielding Force Edge, Agni and Rudra, or Ebony and Ivory. Applejack switched between wielding Nevan's scythe form, punching and kicking with Beowulf, or shooting with Artemis. Occasionally the puppets they fought tried to catch one or the other of them on their strings, but they watched each others backs and made sure they weren't held up for long.

After a time, they found a picture depicting a grimm reaper like devil holding a key in a library. Dante took the key without hesitation. Stepping back out, they found a carving of a sword embedded through a woman. Applejack ignored it, as she could smell the demonic power in it but hadn't figured out how to wield a sword yet. Dante, however, approached it.

Applejack watched, bemused, as the carving vanished and the sword pinned Dante to the floor through his chest, sparkling with electricity. She rolled her eyes and nudged him. "Ya gonna get up, Pa? Much longer, and it'll count against your score."

Dante levered himself off the sword, pulling it all the way through his body before the wounds healed, leaving the blade embedded in the ground. He then drew it, grinning. As he lifted it into the air, lightning ripped through the skylight, infusing both the sword and Dante. He then swung the blade around for a time, getting a feel for it.

"Quit showing off, Pa," Applejack scolded. "We need to keep moving."

Chuckling, Dante sheathed the sword. "The blade's called Alastor," Dante explained.

"I'd say pleased ta meet'cha," Applejack scolded, "but he ain't talking ta me."

"He's like that," Nevan growled. The sword seemed to flinch back from her.

"You know him?" Dante asked.

"Ex," Nevan replied.

Silence reigned for a time. "Awkward," Agni and Rudra chorused together.

"Let's just get back to killing things, shall we?" Dante offered.

"Yup," Applejack replied.

After a time of killing more puppets, Dante acquired a Staff of Judgment from a chamber under the floor. This opened a path back into the library, where the painting of the grimm reaper like demon came to life. Three masked shades wielding shears phased out of the wall, floor, and ceiling.

"So who's in the lead?" Dante asked.

"You are currently tied!" Agni proclaimed.

"Tie breaker round!" Rudra threw out.

As the demons approached, they both pulled out their guns and opened fire. Two fell quickly to the shots, one to each of them. They then went after the last with their melee weapons, tearing it to shreds.

"So who got that last kill?" Dante asked.

"Both of you," Nevan replied.

"Dammit!" Dante and Applejack said together.

Exiting the library, Dante used the Staff of Judgement on another carving to open another door.

Next Chapter: Early Hurdles Estimated time remaining: 2 Hours, 60 Minutes
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