Dante's Little Apple Surprise

by Tatsurou

Chapter 49: Pursuit

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After their brief break to cool off, Dante and Applejack discovered that the facility was collapsing, and likely to blow up at any moment.

Dante rubbed his chin. "The logical thing to do here would be to ride out of here on Griffon," he pointed out.

"The fun thing would be ta try and escape on foot," Applejack countered.

Dante grinned widely. "Fun it is."

After a rather exhilarating race against time through the burning building, the pair made their way back to the motorcycle. "Hoo-wee! That was fun!" Applejack shouted out as she patted her hat out. "Lots more excitin' when there's a sense o' urgency."

"Yeah," Dante agreed. "None of the big demons we've ever faced manages to do that. It's almost like the entire world is happy to wait for us to show up while we gad about, messing around with whatever we might find."

"Kinda weird," Applejack admitted as they sped away. "So...where we goin' now?"

"North," Dante explained. "That's where that guy was heading in his chopper. So that's where we're heading on ours."

Applejack smirked at the word play...then made a mental note to see if it was possible to make a motorcycle that could fly and hover. She was sure she'd read about something like that somewhere...

Before long the pair reached a large structure, the ground before it filled with a crumbling maze of corridors to the sides of the main path, a glowing door the only visible entrance. The door, as it turned out, was sealed with magic, which could only be released by activating two switches a great distance from the door in a short period of time.

Grunting, Applejack decided to handle this seal in the way she had in the past, by attacking the door's hinges. However, when the door fell, the seal remained where it had been, blocking the entrance. "Eh?" she asked in surprise.

"Someone's been watching how you problem solve," Dante joked.

"You know, there are two of you," Nevan pointed out. "And two switches."

"But...but it's not as much fun when we gotta play by the rules," Applejack pouted.

Chuckling, Dante headed off to one switch while Applejack grumblingly headed for the other.

Once the seal was released, a new switch opened a door downward to a stairway.

When they tried to head for the stairs, however, a black portal sucked them both into a large arena filled with demons. Applejack rolled her eyes. "They're really trying too hard, ain't they?"

"They aren't even all that challenging," Dante pointed out.

"It's the same old, same old, situation," Agni sang out.

"It's the same old, same old, ball and chain!" Rudra added.

The pair of demon hunters chuckled as the weapons once more entertained them with an accapella number to detract from the dullness of the combat. When the minor demons were all beaten, however, a massive moth with a bee sting showed up to attack. Despite the impressiveness of the boss, however, it proved relatively easy to beat as it was very slow. Ebony, Ivory, and Artemis were more than enough to take huge chunks out of it. The worm like larva it dropped into the ground beneath them proved more challenging, as those could hide under the ground. Unfortunately, they didn't take anywhere near as much punishment.

Once they were all down, a portal opened that took them back to where they came from, letting them take the stairs.

After a long but uneventful journey through the underground passages, they eventually met up with Lucia, who was holding a blue chalice of some sort. "Did you find what you were looking for?" Dante asked.

"Yes," Lucia replied.

"That an artifact the big bad needs to complete his goal?" Applejack asked.

"Yes," Lucia replied. "Now we can stop Arius's ambition."

"...how?" Applejack asked.

Lucia was quiet for a time, then handed the chalice to Dante. "Bring this to Matier for me," she stated softly. "Please. I...have something I need to take care of-"

"Is this the part where you try to take Arius down alone, end up captured, and then we gotta trade the artifact to him for your safety, resulting in him accomplishing his goals and us having to fight him at full power, probably in the demon world?" Applejack asked.

Lucia was silent for a time. "...I do not intend to get captured."

"Fair enough," Dante replied, taking the artifact.

"Eeyup," Applejack replied.

Lucia blinked at them for a time, then left.

Shortly after, a large, iron clad beast arose. It was slow moving, could only attack at range in a straight line or a close sweep, and lumbered around like a beast three times its size. It did not last long. Even the lasers that crossed the room and the smaller beasts it summoned didn't help it.

Returning to the surface, the pair found Matier waiting for them. "It seems you have obtained the final Arcana," she observed calmly.

"It's from your daughter," Dante pointed out.

"She's gone off to face Arius solo," Applejack added.

Matier's eyes widened. "She told you this?"

"I guessed and she didn't deny it," Applejack replied.

Matier groaned, shaking her head. "Please," she asked, handing over two other artifacts, "take these and save Lucia."

Dante smirked. "If it's heads." He once more flipped his double headed coin. When it landed in his hand, he smirked. "Your lucky streak continues, Granny."

As Dante turned to go, Matier leaned in to Applejack. "Going to tell him he isn't fooling anyone?" she asked the pony.

"Nah," Applejack replied. "Let him think he looks badass and cool. For the most part, he is."

Next Chapter: Big Boss Battle Estimated time remaining: 16 Minutes
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