V Blight (Unmaking)

Izuku Midoriya

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The wind roared, shaking Izuku Midoriya from his long slumber, his eyes snapping open. The shroud of death slid, at last, off of his lithe body, blood rushing into every extremity and breath filling his lungs with some urgency. He sucked in yet more air, flakes of snow flying past his lips with the oxygen. He hacked and wheezed as the altogether unfamiliar atmosphere mingled with his throat, pushing himself onto his knees and pounding at his chest.

Snow crunched beneath his bare fingers as he pushed himself up, cold chills creeping into his hands and up into his arms. He felt colder than he’d ever felt, felt snot globs already beginning to form in his nostrils. An uncomfortable stuffiness overcame his face, and his mind registered that he was sick before it registered that he was alive again.

But he was. He was alive.

He sniffled. He wiped some mucus from his nose, and then immediately felt the floodgates open right back up as tears welled in his eyes. He did not know where he was; he did not know who was around. But he knew he wasn’t dead, and for the moment, that sensation sufficed to make the young boy weep.

He pressed his hands to his bare chest, letting the feeling of his already frosting skin touching his fingers nearly overwhelm him. As tears began to stream down his cheeks and sobs began to catch in his throat, he grabbed on tightly to his pectoral muscles, to his ribs, to his arms, to his legs, to every inch of bare skin he could touch. His hand slid up to his chest and he waited for what felt like an eternity for it, for that feeling, for that sound: thump-thump, thump-thump. The sound of the drum of his heart beating again, for the first time in who knows how long.

The sickening horrors he’d seen in the death game lingered in the back of his mind, but for one moment, Izuku felt like a boy again. As if he was just a normal, sixteen-year-old kid, living his normal, sixteen-year-old life, because Arbiter dammit, he’d won his life back. The memories of his time in the underworld were hazy, but cognizance pinged around in his brain enough to know that he’d nearly given up, that he’d almost lost a sense of purpose and almost resigned himself to an eternity in hell without putting up so much as a fight. But Bakugo’s insistence – and then, soon, his own unstoppable fervor – had pushed him across the finish line, back into his life again.

Or back into… this place, wherever this was.

The very air seemed to be howling. As consciousness dripped back onto him, Izuku Midoriya started to observe his surroundings. He stared out the mouth of a gaping cave entrance, blue-gray stone rising on either side of him to make a foreboding archway. Stalagmites jutted from the ground where the rock met the snowy dirt, menacing teeth to steer wary travelers away from the interior of this cave. The emerald-haired boy glanced back over his shoulder. If he were to turn around, if he were to delve deeper into this disquieting cavern, would he just be walking back to the underworld? Was he sitting at the start of the road to hell?

A noise that sounded almost like purring rose out of the shadows as Nezuko creeped into view. Deku sighed as he remembered the deal he had made – almost unspoken, between he and the rulers of the underworld, but nonetheless binding – that he would allow her to travel with him. The purpose of her company escaped him, and he still felt a little nervous letting a demon be his traveling companion, but the pull of his word was undeniable. He wouldn’t break a promise.

He sniffled again, starting to wipe the tears off of his cheeks as his sobbing finally began to subside. Nezuko scooted close to him, whirring a little bit as she nudged his shoulder with her forehead. He glanced down at her, taking in her pale skin, glassy eyes, and sharp teeth for the first time. She didn’t seem to be much younger than him – perhaps she’d been fourteen or fifteen in life – and other than the demonic facial features and claw-like talons on her fingertips seemed relatively… normal. She nudged him again, pointing to a small box nearby.

“Oh,” he spoke, almost overwhelmed to hear his fresh, life-filled voice for the first time, “thanks.”

He stood, walking over to the small chest, and opened it. A stack of clothes was inside, and as the chilly air finally began to settle in on his body, he did not hesitate to put them on. He layered, wondering if these clothes had been left here by someone else or if they’d been a gift from the gods of the underworld upon his reentry into the world of the living. They fit nearly perfectly, so despite the obtuseness of the idea, he felt like the latter option made the most sense.

Once he was suitably reclothed, boots pulled on and coat wrapped tightly around him, he glanced out into the snowy wilderness. Nezuko sidled up next to him, rising to stand on her two feet. She stood just off his left shoulder, bright pink eyes following Izuku’s gaze out into the wilds.

Something tickled the young boy’s ankle. He glanced down at the sensation, finding a small, thin, but vibrantly green vine emerging ever-so-slightly from the snow, flirting with the idea of touching him again. He crouched down, reaching out to try and touch the uncharacteristic plant life, but it jerked back, slipping into the snow and out of sight.

He wiped more snot off his nose, and blinked.

“Hmm,” he thought out loud, “...doesn’t seem very normal.”

Quest: An Arbiter’s Tears
Izuku Midoriya
Post WC: 987 (according to Google Docs)
Quest WC: 987/2500 (according to GDocs)
 
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Izuku Midoriya

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Izuku followed the out-of-place vines for quite a while. They snaked through the snow, a mysterious green trail amidst an ocean of white, against all odds full of life and vibrant in color. The teenager couldn’t make heads or tails of their existence in this frozen tundra; for all intents and purposes, they should be shriveling up and withering away, if not dead already.

And yet – life. He supposed it wasn’t unlike his current state. By any stretch of the imagination, he was supposed to be dead. He’d been brutally killed in that death game, maimed beyond recognition and then literally murdered, and yet here he was, on some far off ice planet, alive again. Walking around like he deserved to be here. Which he did, if the gods of the underworld were to be believed. Somehow, he’d been a good enough person throughout his life to deserve a second chance. A second chance that he wouldn’t be wasting.

Nezuko nipped at his heels. The demon girl was another anomaly in this strange situation he was in; what was he supposed to do with her? He didn’t really know anything about her, other than her name and the fact that she had, at some point, been transformed from a human into a demonic beast. And the Izuku Midoriya from before death would’ve immediately jumped at the chance to put her down. There was no saving you once you turned into something that vile, he’d used to think. Once you’d become a demon, or monster, or something else along those lines, well… you were too far gone.

But how could he think that, now, when he’d overcome literal, actual death?

This life isn’t the end, he thought. He didn’t know what that meant, exactly, but it was a sentence that rang in his brain even still. This life wasn’t the end… it couldn’t be. So did that mean, perhaps, that Nezuko’s life wasn’t over just because she’d been transformed into a demon?

He didn’t know if there was a way to cure her. He didn’t know if searching for one would be a worthwhile endeavor. But nevertheless, he couldn’t just abandon her to this, right? That would be a decidedly Bad Person Thing to do, right?

And he wasn’t a bad person. He was a hero, supposedly.

He continued to follow the vine as it grew from one singular, snaking plant into a whole group of them. They wove together in a triangular pattern, not unlike a river delta, as they turned a rocky corner and spread out into yet another cave. Izuku, too, turned the corner, finding himself standing in a place he… hadn’t exactly expected to find on this planet.

Spreading out before him was a glorious oasis. Plants grew up the walls and across the ceiling, some of the flowers glowing so brightly and fluorescently that they lit up the entire interior of the cavern. Cold air still blew into the cavern’s entrance and bit against the exposed parts of his skin, but somehow, none of the chill affected the plants. The green-haired boy knew that the vines and flowers and fruits that populated this small cavern must’ve been cold, must be nearly freezing in temperature – and a quick touch of a vine near him confirmed this fact. How the hell were they not absolutely dead? How did they survive in such a harsh landscape?

Perhaps this didn’t need to be said. Perhaps it was obvious, but… these weren’t normal plants, clearly enough. Where in the world had they come from? Izuku knew that finding their origin wasn’t really his job, nor did he really have the resources to do so. Hell, he didn’t even yet know where he was. He’d spent his whole life on Erde Nona, mostly in Arcadia and its suburbs. He’d always been smart, always been interested in the greater galaxy around him, but his knowledge of the other planets in the Crossroads was nevertheless limited since he’d never visited any of them. Hell, what if he wasn’t even on another planet? Certainly there were parts of Erde Nona he hadn’t visited. What if one of those parts was unbearably cold and snowy?

“None of this makes sense, Nezuko,” he said idly, knowing the demon girl didn’t have the capacity to respond. She whirred nonetheless, and he turned and smiled at her, pulling his coat closer around his body.

A little further into the cavern oasis, a collection of juicy-looking fruits hung from several vines and branches lining the rocky walls. One set – some bright orange, spherical ones – looked particularly tasty, and just looking at them, Deku felt his mouth began to water and his lips begin to tingle. He stared at them for what felt like several minutes, contemplating the pros and cons of trying them.

On one hand, he needed to eat. He was alive again, and one of the first sensations that had returned to him was hunger. No wonder why – he’d returned to life with all of his muscle mass that he’d had in his previous existence, and the boy that he’d been hadn’t skipped a meal in ages. So that was that, then: he was hungry, and there was food here, and so eating it seemed plausible. On the other hand, though, he had no idea what these fruits were. Yes, they resembled oranges or tangerines or melons or something else in that oeuvre, but how could he know? They didn’t look exactly like any of them, and he still was having trouble figuring out how this garden oasis grew – and, subsequently, survived – in this frozen tundra in the first place.

Hunger took over, though. Deku wasn’t an impulsive person, but perhaps his time with Kacchan in the death game and the afterlife had given him more bravery to follow his instincts, and his instincts said: eat the fucking food, you damn nerd.

He wrapped his fingers around one of the orbs, yanking it off the vine and immediately bringing it up to his nose to sniff. Smelled fine, so it must be okay, right? He opened his mouth, bringing it to his lips and chomping down on it decisively, pink juice splaying out of it all over his mouth. The liquid dripped down his chin, droplets falling off his face and into the snow. He looked down and watched as they fell, only to see the snow… melt at their touch?

He dropped the orb, wiping the juice off his face as fast as possible as a burning sensation began to take over. “Fuck,” he shouted, stumbling back through the snow and falling on his ass as the lines of juice on his face began to heat up and burn. He flipped over, pressing his face into the snow and letting the cold work as much of its magic as it could until the fiery feeling finally began to subside.

…what the fuck?!

He glanced over his shoulder, pushing himself up onto his knees. He’d known he shouldn’t have eaten the strange fruit, but he had, and he’d quickly figured out that whatever this place was, it wasn’t natural. It wasn’t a place that was meant to be on this planet, or in this area, or wherever he was.

Something was definitely very, very wrong here.

Quest: An Arbiter’s Tears
Izuku Midoriya
Post WC: 1218 (according to Google Docs)
Quest WC: 2205/2500 (according to GDocs)
 

Izuku Midoriya

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(Warning: this post contains a brief mention of slight self-harm.)

Nezuko chirped behind him. The green-haired boy looked up at the demon girl, crouched innocently at the cave mouth, staring at him with what he could only describe as… concern.

The curiosity he had about this strange creature was limitless. A demon, a monster, a beast, by any estimation — yes, absolutely. But thus far in their adventures together, however brief, she’d shown a lack of interest in the savagery commonly associated with those monikers. Quite the opposite, in fact. She seemed almost protective, like she was watching over him in some way.

He wondered if she realized that he didn’t need it. He wondered if she could sense the immense power rumbling through his body. He looked down at his hands, and squeezed his fingers into fists. For the first time since he’d come back to life, he allowed One for All to flow through him. He allowed himself to feel… everything.

Nezuko quirked her head curiously, watching as Deku turned back to the legion of malicious-seeming plants that had grown up behind him. They stretched across the whole back wall and ceiling of the mysterious, otherwise icy cavern, and then continued to run back into the darkness of the cave, past where the young hero could see. The green-haired boy reached up and wrapped his fingers around a loose vine, wondering if something was going to snap out at him. He gripped it tightly, and yanked.

Rrrrip.

The vine separated from its brethren relatively easily, and almost immediately, a hissing sound emanated from the places Deku’s torn. He scowled, and acted on instinct. He thrust his fist into the mad mass of vines and flowers before him, watching as fuschia streaks of energy snaked around his forearm and fist.

“You’re done here,” he shouted, pulling down with his arm. A huge tangle of plant life cane with it, unceremoniously snapping loose from everything it’d been connected to and plopping in a pile on the grassy floor of the cavern.

A huge hiss echoed from the stony walls rising up around him, and Deku stumbled as he turned. He looked down to see a collection of dandelions that had sprouted and wrapped around one of his ankles, pulling him down. His face slammed against the grassy ground and he let out a yelp, lifting up an arm and flicking a bullet of Air Force at a conglomeration of zinnias across the way. They exploded when it impacted, petals flying everywhere as the young hero tried his best to wrest control of his lower limbs from the dandelions.

A low growl emanated from the entrance of the cave, and Deku’s eyes snapped toward Nezuko. The demon girl’s claw-like hand slammed against the wall of the cavern’s entrance and she scowled, baring her fanged teeth as her fingers splayed out.

She dragged her hand along the wall, revealing blood amongst the flowers growing there. Deku’s eyes went wide as he realized she’d sliced open her own palm with her long nails. He was about to speak, to call out to dissuade her from harming herself further, when the bloodied wall suddenly burst into flames. Pinkish flames began to grow from the spots where the demonic blood lied, spreading quickly and igniting any flowers it could reach.

Deku sat idly, staring in wonder at the magenta flames as they lit every plant in the cavern, practically, on fire. Within minutes, the entirety of the invasive species was destroyed, leaving only the rocky, snowy, cold cavern in its wake.

Deku turned to face Nezuko, watching as she crept up next to him and nuzzled his shoulder.

What… are you?

He didn’t spend too long on the thought as darkness began to overwhelm the snowy outdoors. As quickly as he could, he set up a pallet for him to sleep on with anything he could find nearby, content to use his new coat as a blanket. He looked to Nezuko.

“Do demons sleep?” he asked, not expecting her to answer. She didn’t answer in words, instead curling up next to a large Boulder and shutting her eyes, indicating that yes, apparently, they do. Still bewildered, Deku let himself lay down and snuggle up inside his coat. He drifted off to sleep in a matter of minutes, the stress of being alive again already starting to get to him.
When he woke up the next morning, Nezuko was gone.

Quest: An Arbiter’s Tears
Izuku Midoriya
Post WC (according to Google Docs): 734
Quest WC: 2939/2500 (according to GDocs)
 
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