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if there's no one beside you

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Nothing is freaking working, Yuno thought frustrated. Yuno’s Wind Magic would budge the door. Langris’s offensive Spatial Magic bounced off the door and landed into the mass of skeletons that stood sentry far too close and watching Mimosa. Yuno gritted his teeth. “And they call these gates. They are freaking doors.”

Langris cursed. “Unbelievable! Mimosa, how are you holding up?”

“Fine, fine,” said Mimosa, quickly. “But there’s something else out there, it’s coming closer.”

Yuno glanced at Mimosa, who was deathly pale and she shook. He reached over to check her temperature. “Langris, she’s getting too cold. What’s happening?”

Langris scowled, “That goddess said that Mimosa’s Plant Magic doesn’t fit down here so this place will kill her eventually. I told you that.”

“But we’re at the gates! We’re almost back to the living world,” Yuno argued. Mimosa’s curse was gone, but she still suffered. She and I are going to have a talk about hiding injuries and hurts. And Langris too. Honestly, what am I going to do with them?

“Yes, but this is still the same realm,” said Langris. “Likely these doors will activate a powerful, ancient spatial portal. If Finral were here, he’d be able to sense it.” He leaned his head against the door and sighed heavily.

Yuno turned around and leaned against the door. He needed a few minutes to think. Yuno glared out to the sea of skeletons and he spotted a shadowy figure. It was likely the person/being that Mimosa saw and sensed. Yuno yelled, “Alright, who are you and what do you want from us?”

“I was wondering when one of you were going to try to speak to me,” said the figure, as the skeletons split their groups in two so that the figure could walk to Yuno, Mimosa, and Langris unimpeded. The figure was a two-meter tall man with black hair and red eyes, wearing some black and silver armor and a spiked helmet and carrying a large broad sword on his back.

“Who are you?” Langris asked, demandingly.

“Call off your skeleton army and let us leave,” said Yuno.

“We just want to go home,” said Mimosa. “We mean no harm to you.”

“You are all very bold. You see, I had a message from Astaroth, the bothersome Time Devil that he is, about a little girl with Plant Magic. It made me curious.”

“You’re not taking Mimosa anywhere,” said Yuno, glaring at the figure.

The man’s red eyes lingered on Mimosa far too long for Yuno’s liking. “I don’t intend to steal her from you boys for Astaroth. I intend for you to give her to me. You see, my wife wants a child like her, one of Life. But you’ve met my Lampades and my sister and I can only sire beings of death.”

“She’s her own person,” Langris hissed.

Yuno said, “What are you?”

“I am Death. I have thousands of other names, but Death is the easiest for you to understand,” said Death, raising an eyebrow as if he was confused at Yuno and Langris’ continued boldness. He opened his hand and an apple appeared on his palm. “Look at her. She can barely stand. This place takes from those that can give Life, but if she were to become my daughter and eat this apple, she will be safe forever and live a life eternal.”

“No,” said Mimosa, weakly.

Yuno’s eyes widened in horror as he saw wisps of mana leaking off of Mimosa and those wisps floating over to the skeletons. “You heard her!” Yuno snapped. “She said no. So if you can leave and take your army with you that would be great. We’re going home. Together.”

Death let out a booming laugh. “Is it really a no, little girl?”

“My heart is in Clover,” said Mimosa, tiredly, eyes shutting.

“Very well. If your boys can pass this riddle, I will give you a hint on how to open the Gates.” Death said, amused.

Yuno and Langris looked at each other. They were both pretty smart, so they should be able to get a riddle.

“And if we fail?” Yuno asked.

“Then, I will leave you to deal with my skeleton army and figure out a way to open the Gates yourselves.” Deaths smirked. “Do we have a deal?”

“Yes,” said Yuno and Langris in unison.

Death said, “Up in the day, down at night, closed at touch, open when happy, my memory is born of habit. What am I?”

Yuno made a face. What does this mean? This must be a tricky one. The first part sounds like maybe a clock, but then the second half? The third half? Yuno glanced at Langris, who glared at the ground in thought.

Langris looked up and shook his head. He had no clue either.

Yuno frowned. They had to answer something.

“That’s not a fair question. My boys don’t know much about flowers,” said Mimosa, breathing heavily. “It’s mimosa flower leaves.”

Death grinned. “Yes, that is correct! However, the boys were supposed to answer, not you, little girl.” Death laughed. “I will take my leave. Good luck. You’re going to need it.”

With that, Death disappeared into the shadows and the skeleton clacked together and lunged at Yuno, Langris, and Mimosa. Mimosa slid to the ground, her legs gave out from under her. Langris began launching offensive Spatial attacks to destroy the skeletons. Yuno cursed and sent a mental apology to Sister Lily for doing so. He helped Mimosa up and said, “Get ready to run!”

“We need to get the door open!” Langris yelled, launching another “Archangel Shootdown” at the skeleton army.

Yuno glared at the doors when one of the doors cracked open. He glanced around and down and saw that Mimosa had been able to summon one vine that was strong enough to move the door. Yuno smirked and used his Wind Magic to push open one of the doors the rest of the way. Yuno stepped out and he felt the familiar feeling of stepping through a portal, albeit this one was a clear portal Yuno could still see inside. He breathed in and out, feeling natural mana restore some of his energy and Bell appeared at his side from his grimoire.

Bell looked very upset and used her Wind to help him keep the door open. Yuno yelled at Langris and Mimosa, “MOVE OUT!” He had to keep the door open.

Langris grabbed Mimosa by the arm and he stepped out, trying to drag her with him.

But unfortunately, Mimosa was half out as her ankles were grabbed by the skeletons. Langris lost his grip and Mimosa got dragged back inside the underworld but now she was being attacked by skeletons. They heard her cries of pain.

Langris said to Yuno, “Keep it open!” Langris charged back through the portal to fetch Mimosa.

Yuno watched Langris use as many attacks as he could to get to Mimosa. He couldn’t see Mimosa from there, but she wasn’t moving and Yuno’s heart caught in his throat. “Langris, hurry!”

Langris picked up Mimosa off the ground when the ground rumbled something fierce and rocks from the cave came crashing down on top of the skeletons and Mimosa and Langris.

“NO! Bell, can you hold the door open on your own?” Yuno yelled at his Wind Spirit.

“Yes! Go!” Bell shouted. Sometimes, he truly forgot that she was the Great Spirit of the Wind when she acted like a jealous teenage girl most of the time.

“Thank you,” said Yuno, before running back through the portal to the underworld. He used his Wind Magic to divert any rocks or skeletons or bones. Yuno found Mimosa and Langris both unconscious and extremely injured. Mimosa had scratches all over her body and it looked like they were infected already, so maybe poison. Langris bleed from his head and his arm bent unnaturally the wrong way.

He used his Wind Magic to lift them up and made the Wind float them in front of him, while he used more Wind Magic to make a defensive Tornado behind him so nothing attacked him from behind.

Yuno breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Mimosa and Langris float through the portal and he followed quickly, feet touching the sandy dirt on the side of the living world and he yelled at Bell, “SHUT IT!”

Bell moved out of the way and used her Wind Magic to slam that door shut behind them.

Yuno gently placed Langris and Mimosa on the ground and knelt between them to check their pulses. They were both alive, but the pulse was faint. Yuno felt tears build up in his eyes and he cried. “Please don’t die, Mimosa, Langris! Bell, I need you to go find some help, anywhere, please, I need you to hurry.”

Bell said, “I will give you a healing spell, my Yuno. And I will do as you asked.” Bell touched Yuno’s grimoire. “I will be back.” Bell quickly flew off to find any help.

Yuno looked at the pages of the grimoire and said, “Wind Healing Magic: Wind Spirit’s Symphonic Borealis.” Wind wrapped around Mimosa and Langris and hopefully did something. He wasn’t a healer so he didn’t know if it just eased their pain or healed anything at all.

Bell, hurry! Sobbing against his will, Yuno whispered, “Please don’t die, I love you both.” He held one of Langris’s hands and one of Mimosa’s hands and willed them to stay alive.

~to be continued