Dante's Little Apple Surprise

by Tatsurou

Chapter 33: Who's Hungry?

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When Nero slowly returned to consciousness, he quickly realized he wasn't in the church. He was somewhere outside, in the middle of a forest he didn't recognize. He was laid out near a large campfire, over which a massive cauldron was bubbling. He wasn't the only one near the fire. He saw two older men who shared his white hair and sharp features, Kyrie who was just beginning to wake up, Credo - who was bound and gagged for some reason - and the pony who claimed to be his cousin.

"Good, yer awake," Applejack said as he stirred. "Least ya weren't out of it fer long."

Nero glanced at the cauldron. "Cooking up a spell to make me believe the wild story you told me?" he demanded.

"Wouldn't know where ta begin," Applejack admitted. "Don't know the first thing about spells. Only spell I ever crafted is on this." Reaching into her demonic aura, she pulled out Sparda.

Nero's breath caught, and Kyrie and Credo both gasped. "Is that..."

"Eeyup," Applejack replied. "Grandpa's sword." She laid it on the ground, looking at Kyrie. "The focus of yer faith."

Disbelieving, Kyrie reached for the sword. Before her hand could touch it, the fleshy part of the blade opened, revealing large teeth as it lunged for her.

"Sh'rak!" Applejack commanded, and the blade returned to its quiescent state. "The schools I went to...Sparda was a huge celebrity, and everyone was wanting to touch it, or use it in rituals, or try ta wield it...so I got some witch friends of mine to cast a spell on it. If anyone without Sparda's blood tries to touch it, the sword tries to eat them unless its chosen wielder - that's me - commands it to stop in demonic." Picking up the sword, she admired its glow. "The spell had another effect." Grinning, she tossed the sword - blade first - at Nero.

Without thinking, Nero raised his hand to ward off the sword, which flipped in mid air so the handle landed gently in his demonic arm. He felt his arm pulse in resonance with the blade, and the demonic aura surrounding the blade became tinted slightly pale blue, the same as the light shining from within his arm. "What?"

"When one with Sparda's blood holds it," Applejack explained, "the aura reflects their power." Smiling, she held up her hoof.

Sparda leapt out of Nero's hand, landing in Applejack's hoof. The blade's aura became tinted orange, the same as her coat. She then passed the blade to the white haired man in the red coat. The aura became tinted red. When the last man took it, the tint was dark blue.

Applejack then took the sword back, sheathing it in her aura again. "A lot ta take in, I'm sure." Before Nero could react, she spun to face Kyrie. "Don't."

"I-wha?" she asked.

"You're a true believer," Applejack replied. "I can see it in ya. Ya genuinely believe everything you've been told about how great Sparda was, and ya believe in yer worship of him. Ya knew his sword on sight, and ya can see plainly now how the four of us are his blood, and ya were about ta start worshiping Nero. Trust me, don't. If he's anything like Grandpa, he'd find it offensive, both from being worshiped, and that it's you - the girl he likes - puttin' him on such a high pedestal. He's still Nero, and you're still you. Don't go changin' that."

Kyrie glanced away, blushing. Applejack had apparently read her like a book.

"Introductions now," Applejack decided. "Ah'm Applejack. This here is my Pa, Dante." She gestured to the man in red. "And this is Uncle Virgil, yer pa." She gestured to the man in blue.

"My...father?" Nero asked, shocked.

"Sorry I haven't been around for most of your life," Virgil replied. "After the Order of the Sword kidnapped you, I spent most of that time dead." He jerked a thumb at Applejack. "Though thanks to her, I got better."

A swarm of electrified bats descended, fusing together to form a voluptuous woman dressed in tight black leather. "We're clear," she said calmly, taking a seat. "Nobody's followed us."

"Good," Applejack replied, drawing forth Sparda again and holding it over the cauldron. Energy dripped from the blade in pure white teardrops, falling into the mixture within. Sheathing the blade, Applejack then pulled out a massive ladle and stirred. "Soup's on everybody!"

"Soup?" Nero asked, surprised. "You were making soup?"

Dante grinned as he passed around bowls. "Much better than soup!" he said eagerly. "Applejack's Jambalaya! It's to die for!"

"I can confirm that," Virgil said ironically, holding his bowl out as Applejack started serving.

"If'n yer brother promises ta be civil, you can ungag him so he can have some," Applejack told Kyrie as she gave the girl two bowls.

Curious, Nero took a bite from his bowl.

Moments later, Nevan was chuckling and shaking her head. "Someone missed teaching you manners, boy," she scolded.

"They tried," Kyrie said quietly, apparently still somewhat nervous about what she still viewed as the 'sacred' company she was dining with. "He never listened."

"Are we sure he isn't your son?" Virgil joked, elbowing Dante, who was - if anything - eating even more messily than Nero.

As laughter echoed around the campfire, Applejack turned to Nero. "I get that the tale I've told is rather...hard ta swallow, unlike the jambalaya." She ignored the chuckles of the gathered Devil Arms. "I ain't askin' ya ta just take my word for it, though."

Nero paused in his eating long enough that Kyrie was able to reach in with a napkin and wipe his face, making Nevan chuckle. "You aren't?" Nero asked.

"Nope," Applejack replied. "Just askin' ya ta not close your eyes ta the possibility. We're going in ta shut down the Order o' the Sword's demon experiments. Come with us - all three a' ya - and decide fer yourselves what ta believe, and what ta do about it."

Nero thought about that for a time. "I...I suppose I can do that," he finally replied.

"I shall go as well," Kyrie replied firmly.

Credo groaned around the mouthful of jambalaya Kyrie had just fed him. "As fond of Nero as I am, sister, I'm not about to let you go off alone with him to fight demons any more than I would let you go off alone with him to watch the sunset. You need me as a chaperon."

Applejack laughed. "Well, as long as we're decided-"

"As long as we get seconds!" all three said quickly, startling laughter from the entire circle as they held out their bowls.

Next Chapter: Revelations Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 46 Minutes
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