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  1. "The Knight and the Prince"
  2.  
  3. The first thing that Kris noticed when he woke up was that he had been unconscious. He didn't remember getting knocked out, but the headache told him that it must have happened at some point.
  4.  
  5. As he slowly got up from the cold, rocky floor, he realized that he was definitely not in the school anymore. His surroundings were made of grey-ish blue stone and the sky, if you he could even call it that, was pitch black. Despite the darkness of the surroundings, some kind of ambient light allowed him to see well enough to navigate.
  6.  
  7. From what he could discern he was on top of a tall plateau, and he couldn't see the bottom of the sheer cliffs. He decided to just walk along the plateau and hope to find someone, preferably Susie. If there was anything she was probably good at. it was looking scary, and he could use someone who looked scary right about now. He was sure that something had dragged him in here. What he didn't know was what for, and a part of him thought he didn't want to find out.
  8.  
  9. After a while of wandering the lonely cliffs, he heard the sound of something squelching, followed by loud grunting and snarling. In the best case scenario, that was Susie, Kris thought. He really didn't want to consider the other possibilities, so he assumed it was Susie and headed in the general direction of the sounds.
  10.  
  11. Luckily it was, in fact, Susie. Her stand was busy hacking away at a cluster of some odd wobbly creatures, though Kris could really make out their actual shapes with how fast Suise was eviscerating them. She looked like she was having fun, so Kris decided not to interrupt her.
  12.  
  13. It was kind of unnerving to watch her fight. Her shock at actually breaking his wrist in the classroom had made Kris think that she didn't actually WANT to hurt anyone, but he was beginning to think he was wrong about that. Although it might just be because she didn't see what she was fighting now as people, which they might not be for all Kris knew. Either way, she seemed to be enjoying it a little too much for Kris's tastes.
  14.  
  15. He didn't have to watch for long, as she finished her work and withdrew her stand just a few seconds after Kris arrived. "How long were you watching?" She asked, with a proud grin on her face. "Still think you could take me in a fight?"
  16.  
  17. "Just a minute or so, and beating you isn't exactly the first thing on my mind at the moment. I think we have bigger problems." It was only now that Kris actually noticed her sudden change of attire. Instead of the torn jeans and simple top that she wore to school, Susie was clad in clothes that seemed more suited for a rockstar. Kris couldn't say that he didn't like it. In fact, it suited her quite a bit.
  18.  
  19. "What's with the weird getup?" Susie suddenly asked, breaking Kris from his contemplation of Susie's own sudden wardrobe change. "Your skin changed color too."
  20.  
  21. It hadn't actually occurred to Kris to give himself a once over yet, and with everything else that was happening he somehow failed to notice that his skin had indeed taken on a blueish tint and his normal clothes were replaced with silver armor on his upper torso and shoulders, while below that it looked like he was wearing something like a skintight suit.
  22.  
  23. "Not important." He replied flatly. "Do you have any idea where we are? Or what those things you were attacking were, for that matter."
  24.  
  25. Susie gave their surroundings a once over before shaking her head. "Those things attacked me first, I was just responding in kind...Wait a minute, did you bring us here? Is this part of your ability or something?" A hint of suspicion and hostility started to build in her voice.
  26.  
  27. "I swear I have no idea where we are." Kris told her, trying to quell her suspicions before they caused any problems. Whether either of them liked it or not, they'd probably need each other. At least until they figured out where they were. All he had to do was make Susie understand that.
  28.  
  29. Susie took a few steps closer to him. "Is this some kind of revenge for what happened yesterday? Because if it is, following me down here was a mistake."
  30.  
  31. "Exactly. If I sent you down here I wouldn't be dumb enough to follow you down. Hopefully I don't come off as that stupid." Kris couldn't exactly blame her for being suspicious, but at the same time she was watching their time with it.
  32.  
  33. "If you didn't bring us here, what did?" Susie growled.
  34.  
  35. Before Kris could reply, a deep booming voice echoed across the plateau. "I brought you here. To the Dark world...and your graves."
  36.  
  37. Both Kris and Susie quickly turned to face the sound, which seemed to be coming from a suit of armor that was slowly emerging from the ground. In one hand it wielded a long, shining sword, and in the other held a similarly shining buckler shield. There seemed to be nothing actually wearing the armor, as even the open bascinet revealed no face or eyes.
  38.  
  39. "Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren't you?" Kris quipped, which was really the only thing he could think to do at this point.
  40.  
  41. "The two of you have barely begun to realize your potential." The armor began with a patronizing tone. "and it almost pains me to kill you before you have a chance to give me a real fight. Now call out your stands so you may die with dignity."
  42.  
  43. Kris' mind went racing. Who was this? And more importantly, why did he want them dead? He wanted to answer at least one of those questions before they started fighting. Susie didn't seem as interested, and had already gotten her stand out.
  44.  
  45. "Do we at least get to know why you want to kill us?" He asked quickly. "It might help with whole, uh...dying with honor thing."
  46.  
  47. The armor continued stepping towards them as it spoke. "She must die simply because lightener stand users cannot be allowed to live. They pose too much of a threat to my subjects. As for you, well, I shall finally be free once you are dead."
  48.  
  49. The part about being free game Kris some hope. Maybe he could get whatever it was to expand on that, maybe even use it to talk him down from the ledge, so to speak.
  50.  
  51. "Free from wh-" Before he could finish, the armor interrupted him.
  52.  
  53. "Enough talk, have at thee!" It shouted, charging at Kris with a speed that he wouldn't have believed anything could possess. He had about one second to realize that his stand wasn't fast enough to get in the way, and that he might very well be about to die.
  54.  
  55. His thought was interrupted by the loud clang of the armor's sword hitting one of Susie's axes. She had managed to get her stand over to Kris just in time stop the sword from landing between his eyes.
  56.  
  57. This did little to dissuade the armor, which turned its attention to Susie's stand and assaulted it with flurries of sword strikes that were barely visible to the eye. Susie, for her part, was defending herself admirably considering that she had gotten her stand yesterday, but Kris noticed that a strike would occasionally get through her defenses and give her a cut on the legs or arms.
  58.  
  59. Kris wasn't having much luck either. He tried to take advantage of the armor's focus being on Susie to try and get in some hits, but its speed meant that it could dodge him with ease without breaking its assault.
  60.  
  61. At this point Kris couldn't see a way out of this. Susie was looking worse by the second, and he didn't think there was even a point to rewinding time if he couldn't change what was happening.
  62.  
  63. Suddenly the armor flew backward as if propelled by an invisible force, landing flat on its back some meters away. Kris and Susie turned to each other with the same confused look, before looking back to see the armor slowly getting up.
  64.  
  65. "This might be the only chance we're going to get to run away." Kris said. "I really wouldn't count on that happening again."
  66.  
  67. "Where are we running to, moron? It's just a flat plateau as far as the eye can see!" Susie growled back, panting from the exhaustion of the brief fight.
  68.  
  69. Kris turned to look at the edge of the plateau, and Susie followed his gaze before turning back to him with a look of disbelief. "What if there isn't anything down there?"
  70.  
  71. "Better than what's up here!" Kris called back as he started running towards the edge.
  72.  
  73. Susie took one glance back at the rising armor before running after Kris. The two of them started sliding down the edge of plateau, their stands holding onto the side of the cliff to slow their fall.
  74.  
  75. After a few minutes of sliding down the cliff, a large town came into view with a small castle sitting in its center. None of the windows in the town showed any light, but Kris noticed a dim light on in one of the castle's towers.  He only hoped that whoever was in there was friendlier than the armor on the cliff.
  76.  
  77.  
  78.  
  79.  
  80.  
  81.  
  82.  
  83.  
  84.  
  85. (perspective change to Susie, this might be a really bad idea from a narrative standpoint.)
  86.  
  87. Susie breathed an internal sigh of relief as she reached the bottom of the cliff. Looking back up she saw no sign of the armor that had turned her legs and arms into a scratching post. Still, despite the fact that the scratches stung like anything, it was good to have a moment to compose herself.
  88.  
  89. First thing was first, she had to get some distance between herself and the human. Not only was that armor thing looking for him, but he wasn't much good in a fight. She was sure that if she had tried to hit the armor instead of block the sword she would have fared a lot better.
  90.  
  91. "You okay?" Kris asked. "I hope the fall didn't make your injuries any worse."
  92.  
  93. Damn it. He was annoying when he was quiet and annoying when he talked. People who pretended to care pissed her off almost as much as quiet people.
  94.  
  95. "I'm fine, and I'll be better once I find a way out of here." She replied gruffly.
  96.  
  97. "What's this "I" business? That thing's probably still looking for us, you know."
  98.  
  99. She couldn't understand how he was so calm in a situation like this. Here they had been pulled into some other world and attacked by...whatever that armor thing was, and his voice made it sound like he thought it was perfectly ordinary.
  100.  
  101. "You were holding me back in that fight. I'll do better without you." With that, she began to walk off into the town, intent on finding someone who could tell her how to leave.
  102.  
  103. "Don't be stupid." Kris said, his tone sounding more concerned than insulting. "You're still wounded. Don't get me wrong,  I appreciate what you did back there, but do you really think you'll last long if you run into that armor again with those wounds?"
  104.  
  105. Susie stopped in her tracks. As much as she didn't want to admit it, he probably had a point. Rude Buster had felt slower and less accurate the more wounded she got in that last fight.
  106.  
  107. "Fine." She grumbled. "You can stay with me for now, but don't think I'm doing this out of anything more than necessity."
  108.  
  109. "Wouldn't dream of it." Kris replied, before following her into the darkened town.
  110.  
  111. The streets seemed completely deserted, but the two of them went forward with their stands out anyway. Eventually, having found no one in the main town, they hesitantly approached the castle. The gate sat wide open, which Susie took to mean that no one was in there either.
  112.  
  113. "You sure going in there is a good idea?" Kris asked. "Maybe this place is deserted for a reason."
  114.  
  115. "If you don't like it, you can always leave." Susie growled back.
  116.  
  117. Kris just shrugged as he followed her inside. The interior of the castle was surprisingly bright, lit by some shimmering blue lanterns on the walls. The spacious and well decorated interior lent themselves to what would have been a comfortable feeling in most other circumstances.
  118.  
  119.  As she turned a corner in the wain room towards a staircase, Susie suddenly stopped in her tracks as she came face to face with a short, cloaked figure. Acting purely on instinct, she lifted one of her stands axes to strike the stranger, who let out a loud squeak and jumped backwards in response.
  120.  
  121.  Fortunately, before she could bring her axe down, she felt Kris' hand on her shoulder.
  122.  
  123.  "Hold on a moment, will you? It doesn't look they're any threat."
  124.  
  125.  Susie shoved his hand off of her and lowered her axe. "Keep your hands off me, freak."
  126.  
  127.  The stranger took off their cloak to reveal a black furred creature wearing a pastel green wizard's outfit, with a pinkish scarf around their neck. This was quite possibly the least threatening thing Susie had ever seen in her life.
  128.  
  129.  "Sorry for scaring you. I should have given you a little warning, huh?" The stranger spoke with a clearly child-like voice, which made Susie feel a little bad for almost hitting him.
  130.  
  131.  "Not your fault." Kris assured him. "Mind telling us who you are?"
  132.  
  133.  "My name's Ralsei!" the stranger said eagerly. "I'm the prince of this kingdom. The kingdom of darkness, that is."  
  134.  
  135. "If you're the prince, can you tell your subjects to stop attacking us?" Kris asked in response. "We almost got killed right after we got here."
  136.  
  137. Ralsei shuffled awkwardly in place at the question. "Well...I can't really do that. Believe me, I would if it was up to me! But a few months ago, one of the four kings conquered the other three with the help of someone called "the Knight", and has been plotting against you lighteners ever since."
  138.  
  139. Kris turned back to Susie, who had only been partially paying attention to the conversation. "You think that the armor that tried to kill us was the Knight? It would make sense if it was that king's stand or something like that."
  140.  
  141. "I don't really care." Susie grumbled back. "This conversation isn't getting us any closer to getting out of here, so it's a waste of our time."
  142.  
  143. "But wait!" Ralsei interjected. "I haven't even told you about the prophecy yet! It talks about three warriors: a monster, a human, and a prince from the dark who are destined to stop a fallen angel from returning to heaven! Those three have to be us! And that means you can't go back home yet, you need to stay down here and help us darkeners."
  144.  
  145. "So what? I couldn't care less about your dumb prophecy." Susie shot back.
  146.  
  147. Kris was quick to jump in before she could say any more. "Look Ralsei, we'll be happy to come back and fulfill your prophecy, our problem is that we need time to...uh...regroup and stuff. Think of it like the parts in stories where the hero goes and trains for a while before beating the bad guy."
  148.  
  149. "Well...the thing is...I can't really get you out of here. Only certain darkeners have the ability to make portals to your world."
  150.  
  151.  "Great, so you're completely useless then." Susie growled, getting quickly fed up with the amount of time this conversation was taking.
  152.  
  153.  "I'm sorry..." Ralsei muttered, looking ashamed for a moment before perking back up. "I can heal those wounds though, as long as they were inflicted by someone who was angry at you."
  154.  
  155.  "That'd be great." Kris said. "Why do they have to be inflicted in anger though?"
  156.  
  157.  Ralsei shrugged. "I don't know. It's just part of my ability. Wait...you have the same kind of ability that I have, right?" He asked Kris. "I know your purple friend does, but I didn't see if you had it too."
  158.  
  159.  "We're not friends!" Susie hastily corrected him.
  160.  
  161.  "Yeah, just temporary partners because of the circumstances." Kris said in a much softer tone. "And yeah, I have that kind of ability too."
  162.  
  163.  Ralsei started humming happily as he gently placed one of his hands on Kris' leg. Susie watched in surprise as all the sword wounds on Kris' body started to close up, leaving behind only the scrapes he had taken in the fall. The young darkener then took his hand off of Kris and looked expectantly at Susie.
  164.  
  165.  As much as the wounds she had did sting, letting this insufferably nice little pipsqueak heal her would have felt somehow worse. She'd heal on her own. "Don't even think about it, hairball."
  166.  
  167.  Ralsei looked hurt by the comment. "Sorry...I wish I could be more help."
  168.  
  169.  Any further conversation was cut short by the sudden sound of a motorcycle's engine coming from outside the castle.
  170.  
  171.  You stay in here." Kris told a now nervous looking Ralsei. "You're the only one who can heal either of us if we get hurt, so we can't afford you being in harm's way."
  172.  
  173.  Ralesi simply nodded as Kris turned and headed out of the castle. Susie quickly followed after him, not wanting to miss out on the possibility of meeting something she could beat up.
  174.  
  175.  Susie stepped into the courtyard a few moments after Kris did, only to be greeted to the sight of a a darkener that couldn't have been any taller than Ralesi was, wearing a spade shaped hood over his teardrop shaped head. The bicycle he was sitting on had two rocket thrusters attached to the back of it, which Susie guessed somehow were making the motorcycle noise.
  176.  
  177.  "Halt right there, lighteners!" The kid called out. "I am the king's son, lancer! I'm here to punish you for the crime of trespassing in the dark world, and just for generally being lighteners. Now surrender and come with me to see the Knight or face the power of my mighty steed!"
  178.  
  179.  Kris and Susie looked at each other with the same amused expression. It was clear that this kid had no idea what he was doing, but if he was telling the truth about being the king's son he might be useful.
  180.  
  181.  "Look, kid. Tell us how to get back to our world, and I'll consider not decorating your face with an axe." Susie couldn't help but smile as she said it. It felt good to not be up against something that could actually kill them.
  182.  
  183.  "All right, you asked for it!" Lancer shouter at them, before his bike suddenly began moving in a circle around the two of them at ludicrous speeds. However, this was really all it did. Lancer threw a magic pellet at them every now and again, but since magic didn't obey the laws of physics they were incredibly slow and easy to avoid. Even so, that bike was moving so fast that it would be dangerous to get hit by, and it was also going too fast for either of them to see a way to get past it without getting run over.
  184.  
  185.  "This is annoying." Susie finally said, after a good few minutes of slowly stepping out of the way of Lancer's magic attacks.
  186.  
  187.  "It really is, isn't it?" Kris said flatly as he got out his phone.
  188.  
  189.  "What kind of reception do you think you're gonna get down here, moron?" Susie asked angrily. This was hardly the time for fucking around. What did he think he was doing?
  190.  
  191.  "Probably none. The stopwatch function works though."
  192.  
  193.  "What good's THAT going to do you?" She snapped back at him.
  194.  
  195.  Kris simply ignored her question for a few seconds, before putting away his phone and turning to her. "I'm going to need you to toss me."
  196.  
  197.  Susie finally got what he was doing. The stopwatch must have been for timing Lancer's laps around them. The problem with that plan was that neither of them knew how fast she could throw something.
  198.  
  199.  "Are you serious?" She asked him. "Did the fall down the cliff give you brain damage or something? You're just going to miss him and crack your head open on a wall or something!"
  200.  
  201.  "And you'd care if that happened?" He asked, a slight smile showing on his normally expressionless face.
  202.  
  203.  As much as Susie was sure this wasn't going to work, that look on his face was nothing put pure confidence. It was definitely not the look of someone who thought he might splatter his own brains out against a wall.
  204.  
  205.  "Nah." She smirked back at him, before positioning her stand right behind him, ready to launch him forward at a moment's notice. "You ready?"
  206.  
  207.  Kris watched lancer take another couple laps around them before giving the answer. "Now."
  208.  
  209.  With that, Susie launched him forward like a baseball. His timing was almost perfect, and he only had to make his stand kick a little to his left to knock lancer of his bike as he passed by. Then he managed to have his stand get in front of him just before he collided with a building, using it to stop his impact from breaking anything.
  210.  
  211.  Susie rushed over to Lancer, who was already trying to get up. Curiously, his bike had vanished after Kris knocked him to the floor.
  212.  
  213.  "Was that dumb little bike your ability, twerp?" Susie taunted as she firmly held him to the ground.
  214.  
  215.  "I...I only just got it a week ago..." He muttered back.
  216.  
  217.  Kris got over to Lancer and knelt down next to him. "It's going to go a lot better for you if you just tell us how to get back to our world. I'm not sure how long I can restrain my partner here."
  218.  
  219.  "I swear I don't know how to go between worlds!" Lancer squeaked out.
  220.  
  221.  "All right, Susie. You can eat his face now."
  222.  
  223.  That got their captive to change his tune quickly. "Oh! I just remembered! My ability can create passages between worlds, just like my father's! I can send you home, but I need my face to do that, so pleasepleaseplease don't eat it off!"
  224.  
  225.  "In that case you better get opening, because I'm real hungry for faces." Susie growled at him, eager to get back to her own world. Preferably before that armor thing found them again.
  226.  
  227.  "Wait a minute." Kris interjected. "Let me talk to Ralesi a bit first. I want to see if I can learn a bit more about this place before we leave."
  228.  
  229.  "What does it matter?" Susie asked as Kris walked back towards the castle. "We're not coming back here anyway."
  230.  
  231.  "Just keep bicycle boy from getting away. I'll be back in a few minutes."
  232.  
  233.  She grumbled to herself at the delay, but decided not to leave without him. For all that he was a freak, they did make a good team. Not that it would last very long if she actually tried to make that work. It would be better to just ditch him as soon as they reached their world again.
  234.  
  235.  
  236. While she was waiting, she decided to try and get something useful out of their prisoner. Even if she never intended to come back down here she still had questions she wanted answered. "So, spadehead, what do you know about the knight?"
  237.  
  238.  "T-the knight's my father's ability. You know, like my bike and the things the two of you summoned. It takes the form of an empty suit of armor, which is honestly kind of creepy sometimes."
  239.  
  240.  "And why's he looking to kill us? We didn't even know this place existed before today."
  241.  
  242.  "My father's planning to invade your world, because great kings HAVE to conquer more places, you know? It's something out of the "How to be the best king ever" handbook! Anyway, he wants all lighteners with abilities like yours gone before he makes his move."
  243.  
  244.  Lancer paused for a bit before continuing in a conspiratorial tone. "You know...I bet he wouldn't mind letting you live if you joined up with him. I bet you'd be great at being one of the bad guys!"
  245.  
  246.  "You're dumber than you look if you think I'd trust someone who's already tried to have me killed. If he wanted me on his side he should have asked first and saved the sword for later."
  247.  
  248.  At that moment, Kris returned from the castle. "You ready to go? Ralesi seems pretty broken up about us not staying, but I really don't think we'd have much of a chance of helping him if we did."
  249.  
  250. "I've been ready to go for a while now." She huffed at him. "You're lucky i didn't leave your sorry butt behind."
  251.  
  252. "Why didn't you, if you were so impatient?"
  253.  
  254. Susie thought about her answer for a moment. "It's like I said. It would be shame to make your mom grieve for her child. That's all."
  255.  
  256. "Sure it was. Lancer, hurry up and open a passage for us, will you?"
  257.  
  258. Lancer nodded quickly as a bright light appeared in front of them. Susie was the first to head into it, with Kris following just behind her.
  259.  
  260.  
  261.  
  262.  
  263.  
  264.  
  265. After a brief moment of being blinded, they opened their eyes to find themselves standing in the streets of their hometown. Susie took a deep breath of the fresh air and sighed in relief.
  266.  
  267. "Damn. Never thought I'd be so glad to see this place again. Well, I guess this is goodbye, weirdo. I'm gonna head back to school."
  268.  
  269. "Woah, wait a minute!" Kris said with a hint of alarm in his voice. "Aren't you the least bit concerned about something from the dark world coming to ours? That king Ralesi mentioned probably won't give up on killing us so easily."
  270.  
  271. "Nah." Susie replied, shrugging back at him. "I'll handle it by myself if that happens."
  272.  
  273. "Will you at least come see a friend of mine first, then?" Kris asked. "If you intend to go it alone you should at least know all the rules about your ability, and this friend of mine knows pretty much everything about them."
  274.  
  275. That did pique her interest. There couldn't be any harm in just learning a bit about her ability, right?
  276.  
  277. "Fine. Who is this friend?"
  278.  
  279. Kris started walking in the opposite direction of the school. "Just follow me. You probably wouldn't recognize his name anyway."
  280.  
  281. Susie followed him with little hesitance. She'd probably get in some trouble for skipping class, but learning more about her ability might save her life in the future.
  282.  
  283. After a good ten minutes or so of walking, they arrived at a large, three story manor. Susie almost dropped her jaw in disbelief.
  284.  
  285. "THIS is where your friend lives?" Susie yelled at him. "You really mean to tell me that you're friends with the eccentric weirdo who lives alone out here?"
  286.  
  287. "Yep. This is it." Kris chuckled as he walked up to the door and knocked.
  288.  
  289. As they waited for the door to open, Susie wondered what she was getting herself into. Here she was about to meet the biggest weirdo in the entire town. In retrospect, going here with another, probably equally weird person who she hadn't talked to before today probably was not the safest idea.
  290.  
  291. "Hey, Kris! Little Early isn't it?" Susie heard as the door slowly opened to reveal the seven foot tall boss monster on the other side. Susie had expected him to be wearing something mysterious like a trenchcoat, but he was dressed in a simple tanktop and jeans, and his fur looked like like he had just gotten out of bed.
  292.  
  293. "Oh nice, you brought your girlfriend too." He said with a smirk as his eyes fixed on Susie.
  294.  
  295. "We're not dating!" Kris shouted quickly. "Geez, Az. We just started actually talking to each other today."
  296.  
  297.  "I'm just teasing." he replied with a hearty laugh. "I'm Asriel. Nice to meet you, Susie."
  298.  
  299.  She already hated his guts. He had the smuggest look she'd ever seen in her life, like he'd just figured out some big secret, or taken the last piece of pizza. "How do you know my name already?"
  300.  
  301.  "I like to find things out about people, and this town has so many interesting people in it. Don't you think?" He gave the two a chuckle and headed inside, leaving the door open behind him.  
  302.  
  303.  Kris didn't hesitate to follow him in, which Susie found to be very odd considering how creepy he sounded just now. Still, he might have just been joking. He didn't come off as the type of person who was particularly serious about anything. Resigning herself to the idea of a long talk with the town's chief weirdo, she followed Kris inside and took a seat at the dining table near him.
  304.  
  305. "All right, Kris." Asriel called from the kitchen, his voice suddenly taking a more serious tone. "Since you're here early I can only assume that something weird happened. Fill me in while I get tea ready, will you?"
  306.  
  307. Susie did her best to take a nap while Kris related the entirety of their unplanned trip to the dark world, including some details that Ralesi had apparently told him before they left. These were mostly about the history of the dark world, so she just tuned those out. By the end of the story, Asriel had finished the tea and brought it out to the table, along with a large plate of ham sandwiches, which he placed in front of Susie.
  308.  
  309. Kris quickly reached for a ham sandwich to go with his tea, but was quickly stopped when Asriel gently grabbed his hand with his own. "Those are all for her. She hasn't eaten since lunchtime yesterday, and I'd like her in a good mood for our little chat. Both your lives depend on it."
  310.  
  311. "How do you know when I last ate?" Susie hissed at him. He wasn't wrong, but his knowledge of her personal life was making her more uncomfortable than the dark world had in some ways.
  312.  
  313. "Well, I wondered why you got banned from free ham sandwich day, so I did a bit of digging. It didn't take me too much time find out why. Now just dig in, will you?"
  314.  
  315. Part of her didn't want to accept this, coming form him. But she was also really hungry, and the hunger won out. They were pretty good sandwiches too.
  316.  
  317. "All right." Asriel began. "Now then, from what you've told me, the armor that attacked you has to be a stand since it was able to attack your stands directly. There was obviously someone else nearby during the fight, but since they stopped it from killing you I wouldn't worry about them for now. The real questions is: who's the stand user?"
  318.  
  319.  Susie quickly finished her ham sandwich to answer the question. "Lancer told me that the knight was the king's stand. He also confirmed that the armor on the plateau was the knight."
  320.  
  321.  Asriel took a long sip of his tea before continuing. "All right. That leaves me with one hypothesis, well, two actually. One option is that the knight is an extremely long range stand, and that the king was talking to you through him. The talk about being free once he killed Kris could mean anything, but it's what Ralesi said about the knight really being in charge that weakens that theory. Normally a stand user is in complete control of their stand."
  322.  
  323.  "What's the other option?" Kris asked, just having finished his tea.
  324.  
  325.  "Well, there's a rare type of stand known as a "automatic stand." This kind of stand is practically entirely independent from the user, to the point where any damage inflicted to the stand doesn't return to the user. Normally this is compensated by the user having no control over the stand when they're not in the same general area as it is. There does exist the remote possibility that the knight is a stand that has developed its own personality, one stronger than its user, to the point where it only requires its user to be alive for it to exist."
  326.  
  327.  Kris had poured a second cup of tea, but this was all but forgotten in favor of their next question. "How remote is this possibility, Az? It seems a bit out there based on what you've told me about stands."
  328.  
  329. "It's not as far fetched as it sounds." Asriel began. "Some people who develop stands don't have the mental capacity to control them. When that happens, the stand just acts on its own. There are also some stands that have a personality distinct from their user. If these two circumstances combined, the stand might practically be its own person, free from the control of its user."
  330.  
  331. Susie finished off her fifth ham sandwich before realizing the conversation was getting very boring, and decided to put a stop to it. "Look, I'm sure you two nerds think this is the coolest thing ever, but this doesn't really help me beat the knight in a fight if he comes up to this world to try and kill me."
  332.  
  333. "You mean WHEN he comes up here to try to kill you." Asriel corrected her. "And it's not useless. A lot of stand battles is knowing what kind of stand you're facing, and how their type affects their capabilities. For example, your stand is a power type judging by that Kris has told me about it, which means it can't operate more than a couple meters away from you at best. That kind of thing would be incredibly useful to know in a fight."
  334.  
  335. "Yeah, but nothing you said about the knight indicates a weakness of any kind." Susie pointed out. "So I still don't see how this is helpful."
  336.  
  337. "It means that if we can't take it on in a straight fight, which seems to be the case, the only way to defeat it is by killing the user." Kris' comment was made with a resigned tone, as if finally realizing the possibility that they might be forced to kill someone if the knight continued its attempts on their lives.
  338.  
  339. "Yeah, I think that's the most likely thing at this point." Asriel remarked solemnly. But I think that's a long way in the future. The bets thing for the two of you to do at this point is to train, grow stronger, and keep each other safe."
  340.  
  341. A smile was starting to grow on his face again, and Kris gave him a suspicious look in response.
  342.  
  343. "Which means...that you two should probably stick together as much as possible, at least at school, since that's where you were targeted. The knight probably doesn't know where you live yet, so you should be safe there for now."
  344.  
  345. Kris and Susie started each other down from across the table. At least, as much as either of them could stare at each other given how long their bangs were.
  346.  
  347. Kris was the first to break the awkward silence. "If Susie's okay with it, so am I. I think we made a good team in the dark world."
  348.  
  349. "You aren't scared of spending most of your time with the school bully?" Susie asked him back, putting on her best mocking tone.
  350.  
  351. "I'm not scared in the slightest." He replied flatly. "Because as much as you like to threaten people with having their face eaten off, you've never so much as punched one of them. And you only tried to squash my hand in the classroom because you thought you were only stomping on a ghost hand. I know THAT because the first time you tried it and succeeded, you looked shocked when my hand broke too."
  352.  
  353. The smirk had vanished right off her face. She was sure she had missed that time in the classroom. "I never hit your hand, you freak. What are you talking about?"
  354.  
  355. "As a sign of trust, I'll share my stand's ability with you. I can rewind time by five seconds, and nobody except me remembers what happened in that rewound time. I did it in the classroom the first time I was introduced to your stand because you DID break my wrist that time. I used my memory of the five seconds to dodge the blow and completely avoid having to explain that injury to my mom, who doesn't know anything about this stand business.
  356. I also used my ability during our scuffle with lancer. The first time you threw me, I missed him completely. But I used that experience to get an idea of how fast I would move when you launched me. Then I rewound time and used that knowledge to time your throw well enough for me to knock him off the bike."
  357.  
  358. Susie was silent for a while after Kris finished speaking. She felt a little guilty for actually breaking his hand, even if he had technically never received the injury. Besides that, even as afraid as she was that he either hated her already or would after spending enough time with her, she did have to admit that they stood a better chance of surviving if they stuck together. And maybe, just maybe, she'd make a real friend for once. He even said that he thought they made a good team, so he couldn't hate her THAT much, right?
  359.  
  360. "Fine." She said stated. "If you REALLY want to be a weirdo and hang out with the toughest, meanest girl at the school, I'm not going to stop you. Just don't be surprised when you regret it after a few days."
  361.  
  362. "We'll see about that." Kris said with the conviction of someone tkaing a dare that they're certain of winning.
  363.  
  364. Suddenly, their conversation was interrupted by a loud knocking at the door. Followed by a harsh voice shouting: "POLICE, OPEN UP!"
  365.  
  366. [<-- To be Continued]
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