Dante's Little Apple Surprise

by Tatsurou

Chapter 21: Family Ties

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The new path led up a spiral staircase strewn with more marionettes. Disposing of them rapidly, the two demon hunters quickly ascended. Spotting a decorative sword on a platform above the stairwell, Dante leapt up to grab it. Since it lacked a demonic spirit, he concluded it was a key of some sort he'd need later. They went through the door beneath the platform. Using the sword on a statue in that room led to acquiring an orb that was also a key of some sort.

"When did fightin' demons become fetch quests?" Applejack demanded crossly.

"When they started basing in old fortresses," Dante pointed out, resulting in rolled eyes from both of them.

At that moment, Dante's reflection stepped out of a nearby mirror to confront them. After a moment, the image of Dante faded, revealing a blue horned demonic figure.

As Dante prepared for battle, Applejack froze. There was something about that aura that surrounded the demon that was...familiar.

The demonic figure drew its sword and beckoned, leaping through another doorway into a large open chamber. Dante and Applejack quickly followed. However, before Dante and the demonic figure could engage in battle, Applejack's eyes widened as she recognized the demonic aura. "Uncle?" she gasped in shock.

Dante froze in the act of drawing Force Edge. "Virgil?"

The demonic figure froze, staring at them both for a time. It then seemed to relax, not speaking but not moving either.

Applejack walked forward slowly. "Uncle...what happened to ya?"

Alastor was the first to speak up. "What you see before you is nothing but a demonic construct. It is not the one you speak of."

"But it is him!" Applejack proclaimed. "He's got the same aura! That blue light's only Uncle's! And he'd never let nobody take that amulet around his neck!" She pointed to the half of the perfect amulet just barely visible hanging around the demon's neck. "You said so, Pa!"

"Demonic constructs can be powered by any number of things," Alastor explained. "This one appears to be powered by the soul of the one you speak of."

"His soul?" Dante demanded in shock. "How...why would his soul be...?"

"Someone must have killed him, and used his soul to craft and power this demonic construct," Alastor explained. "Nothing can be done for him at this point except free-"

"No!" Applejack cried out. "Ah can save him! Ah have ta try! He...he stopped when we called out to him, so it's still him inside!"

"Applejack," Alastor scolded, "what you speak of is impossible."

"Is it possible to get demon powers from a blood transfusion?" Applejack demanded, knowing the answer from research Dante had done to make sense of her own abilities.

"Of course not!" Alastor scolded.

"Then I'm impossible too, so I'm gonna save him!" Applejack snapped.

"It is true!" Agni proclaimed. "Applejack got demon power from Dante's blood mixing with hers!"

"It was as his sword Rebellion pierced his flesh, triggering the full awakening of his own demon power!" Rudra added.

"Well, that's a rather extreme extenuating circumstance," Alastor pointed out.

"Then I'm the extenuatin' circumstance that's gonna save Uncle!" Applejack proclaimed, laying her Devil Arms aside and yanking Force Edge from Dante's grip.

"Applejack, what are you doing?" Dante demanded.

"No idea!" Applejack replied. "But I have ta try!" She held the sword close. "Grandpa...guide me..." Closing her eyes tight, she shifted to her Devil Trigger form, gripped the hilt in her claws, and began to spin around Virgil in circles, dragging the point of the blade on the ground behind her.

Dante watched in confusion, trying to make sense of what was going on. Every so often, Applejack would lift the sword point from the earth, leaving a gap between lined as he drew. "What is she-"

"It's not her!" Nevan said in surprise from where Applejack had laid her against a wall. "Look close at the sword point next time she skips!"

Blinking, Dante focused, and saw a pulse of black energy push the tip of the sword up at the next lift, and dragging it back down after a gap. He knew his own demon energy was red. Virgil's was blue. Applejack's was orange.

...black had been Sparda's own.

"He is guiding her!" he whispered in shock. He felt something twist inside him. "What the-"

Time around him slowed to a near stand still as Geryon's power flooded forth from within him. Feeling his hand trying to reach towards Virgil, he allowed himself to be guided forward. He watched as he drew runes he didn't recognize on Virgil's demonic form, and in the back of his head went over the facts, trying to make sense of this.

He knew Geryon was Applejack's father before being raised from death as Sparda's demonic steed. Logically, he'd have had the same sort of magic as Applejack, which interacted with demonic magic in ways demons couldn't accurately predict. Applejack was a child raised not in her own world, so she was unlikely to know how to control that magic. But Geryon died as an adult, so he might know.

The only conclusion he could draw was that Geryon was filling in the runes that Applejack couldn't know were needed to complete whatever circle Sparda was guiding her to make. "I'll let this go to help Virgil," Dante scolded the spirit inside him, "but don't go playing puppeteer to me again."

The next rune he drew had an extra flare to the drawing motion, as though to express agreement.

Once he felt no more guidance to make runes, Dante stepped back out of the circle Applejack was drawing, and time returned to normal. When Applejack finished drawing the circle, it flared with black, red, orange, and blue light, the runes Dante had drawn adding a rainbow colored flame at the core. When the light and circle faded, Virgil stood before them in his own body. He opened his eyes. "I...I'm alive?" he asked in surprise and confusion, still clutching the sword he had wielded in his demonic form.

"Uncle!" Applejack called happily, leaping into Virgil's arms to hug him.

Dante grabbed Force Edge as it fell, blinking in confusion. "It worked?"

"Something feels...different," Virgil mentioned, holding Applejack carefully.

"You are still a demon construct," Alastor stated, having analyzed the transformation. "You are just...a demon construct that looks human, can act human, and can assume a demonic form at will."

"So what's the difference between how he was as a human and now?" Dante asked curiously.

Alastor read the magic a bit more carefully. "Well, in normal circumstances, he wouldn't be able to procreate...but apparently Sparda inscribed your two halves of the Perfect Amulet with your genetic codes before giving them to you, and the magic here used that to create Virgil's human form, so...the only difference now is the absence of human life force."

"So I'm basically a full demon who can look human now?" Virgil asked.

"Though presently at the power level of a half demon...but yes," Alastor replied.

Virgil smirked as he sheathed his sword. "I can accept that outcome." He gently scratched Applejack behind one ear.

Applejack let out a happy whinny. "Told ya I'd save him, Alastor!"

"I hang from my sheath corrected," Alastor admitted.

"So where are we?" Virgil asked.

"Mallet Island," Dante explained as Applejack retrieved her gear. "The Demon King Mundus is trying to break through into the human world. We're here to stop him. Care to lend a hand?"

Virgil smirked. "You wouldn't be able to do it without me, little brother."

"Who's the little brother again?" Dante demanded, getting into a battle stance. "Last I checked, we were twins."

"Time is not the only way to measure maturity," Virgil countered, also getting into a fighting stance.

"Pa! Uncle!" Applejack shouted at them both. "Fight each other later! We got actual demons to hunt right now!"

"Yes, Applejack," the brothers replied together.

"If we're measuring who's older by who's most mature," Nevan teased, "maybe they should be calling you Mom."

"Hush," Applejack scolded with a chuckle.

Next Chapter: Teamwork Estimated time remaining: 2 Hours, 49 Minutes
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