HetaOni: Time Marches On

Chapter 24: Broken Clock

Crraaasshhh!!

Italy shook visibly as he felt the weight of time being lifted off his shoulders. Shivers convulsed along his spine and across his shoulders as he felt the light air of such a wondrous freedom. However, it also felt as if any fleeting sense of security he once had had vanished. He was alone in his choices now. He could no longer rely on this mystical power to reverse time. There was no going back. Not anymore. Not ever.

They had one hour, and then... then it would be over... At last.

Italy stared at the smashed face of the clock trembling. He smiled. Nervously, a small, awkward thing. But a true one. This was the last time he’d have to visit this room of tears. It was finally over.

An audible sigh of relief was heard in the room. Voicing all of their feelings. It was hard to think about doing this all over again. Or forgetting everything they’d done here. And yet there was still a serious danger in following this path. Just to start with, they barely had an hour. That’s not to mention, everyone who was holding off that monster... and they were going off of the hope that these tunnels would indeed lead them directly out of here.

“We’re going to stick with this path we’ve made then?” China agreed with the decision, “I’m a bit relieved. Even though it will mean extra work for us to make it through.”

“The others should be back by now, do you think they’re alright?” Japan asked.

“We should go up and get them. We’re retreating anyways, if there’s trouble they need to get out of there right away; there’s no point in defending this room any longer,” America suggested. “I’ll go up and get them, if anyone else wants to follow that’s fine,” America volunteered climbing up the ladder and sliding over the tile.

Romano and Japan followed America up, leaving Italy, China and Germany behind. The passage to the lever room remained open as no one had had the time to close it. The three passed under the arch ready to head out into the hall and hopefully run into the others.

However just after crossing into the next room that the door in front of them suddenly crashed down without warning causing them to jump. The massive figure of an oni went through first, followed by the three smaller figures of Prussia, France, and Spain, as they led a simultaneous attack on the already wounded monster.

Prussia laughed and cheered as the creature started to disappear, “Ha! What did I say. We’re going to Win this!!” He high-fived France and Spain in celebration.

England pushed his way through, moving the three out of the doorway. “Yes, great job. But in case you’ve forgotten we are under a time limit. We should be regrouping.” England looked up to America and the other three, “The others are waiting right?”

“Yes,” America answered, “Italy has already broken the clock. We don’t have a lot of time now.”

“It’s already broken?” Canada asked, “But we barely have an hour left!”

“The creature already knows where we are. We can’t sit there and wait it out. We’ll be sitting ducks. It was now or never,” Japan explained as the group headed back toward the tunnels.

Romano hit the button to slide the tile over, and the group descended.

“You’re all ok!” Italy exclaimed relieved.

The twelve reunited within the small confines of the clock room. There was hardly enough room for them to all fit. Russia hung back on the stairs in order to keep watch for any incoming threats.

“Oui. Everyone is alright. We’ve all managed to make it this far,” France confirmed, “But we still have a great deal to go, and I’m afraid we’re short on time.”

Spain crossed the brief distance of the room, digging the key out of his pocket. The lock clicked, and the gate swung open.

Prussia helped Germany up, “Hey West, can you walk?”

“I’m fine,” Germany muttered, frustrated by his weakness in this crucial moment. He placed his fingertips to the wall to balance himself, “I can walk on my own now...”

Japan dug through his bag, “Germany, If you’re strong enough, eat this,” Japan handed Germany a rice ball.

Germany ate it happily, the nutrition would boost his health rapidly, “Thanks.”

“Listen, everyone,” Italy stepped in front of the tunnel, “We’re short on time, but we’ve, somehow, all managed to make it this far. We just have a little further to go.”

“Right,” China agreed.

“Let’s go!”

Outside

It was dark. A full moon lit the ground now. Night had fallen fast. Visibility was becoming more and more limited. But they adjusted quickly. They had to, with what they were facing.

Hungary and Austria fought back to back. It was a natural partnership. Long ago they had fought together like this. They knew each others strengths as well as weaknesses, and how to defend them. Austria played the high notes on his violin, stunning the surrounding creatures, while Hungary kept them from getting too close. It made these creatures easy pickings for the others. Even though they had become so surrounded; an almost wall had formed around them. Ukraine had taken a break from firing to heal everyone who suffered wounds. It was slow, but the wall dissipated as the combined forces of the girls, austria’s group, the Nordics, as well as Romania and Bulgaria, slowly beat them back.

When the numbers dwindled down to a mere eight, some of them noticed a new peculiar trend with the creatures. “Where are they all going?” A familiar voice asked from the distance.

Taiwan had led the group of reinforcements, all of them, all the way from the gate, which had stretched out further than they had originally seen. This little annexed building off the side of the house, was particularly far from the gate. Taiwan pointed over toward the front door to the mansion, “They all seem to be heading over there.”

The mansion’s main door could be seen from here, but it was quite a fair distance away. Nevertheless, the swarm of monsters gathering there could be seen from an even greater distance. Something must have set them off, why else would such a massive army be waiting outside the front door?

“You don’t think they’re going to try and escape out the front door, do you?” Iceland asked eyeing the area suspiciously. Denmark took down the last of the monsters in the immediate vicinity.

“No. I just talked with everyone inside, they’re headed for the tunnels. The ‘Oni’s’ are probably reacting to the clock being broken,” Ladonia stepped out of the crowd.

“What?” Hungary asked, “So you actually know what they’re doing in there?”

“Ladonia? You shouldn’t be here. You should be at home,” Finland was surprised to see him here. Kids shouldn’t be out here fighting.

“I had to come so I could give them some information. Lighten up,” Ladonia complained.

Switzerland interrupted, “Actually, with everyone here now, we still need to get into that building so that we can break that last clock.”

“You still haven’t broken that clock? I sent you those coordinates like, hours ago!” Ladonia complained, how could they possibly take this long?!

A glare was shot at Ladonia from several tired and annoyed nations. They did not have the energy to put up with him right now.

Austria, Korea, and Switzerland checked around the sides of the walls, looking for a weak point seeing as the door was boarded up. Denmark stepped forward after growing tired of watching them pat down the walls. “Here I got this,” He said bringing his Axe down on the door full force. the first board splintered in half. A few more swings, and the axe went through the wood.

The door was soon knocked away and they could enter and explore. “Girls,” Hungary instructed them, “Spread out and help Austria and Switzerland look for that clock.”

“Also, keep your eyes out for any sort of passageway that could lead to these tunnels. We need to locate where they are coming from as soon as possible, and secure an exit,” Austria informed them, shuffling through the boxes stacked up in the small shed.

“We’ll cover you guys from out here,” Norway said from the doorway. The new arrival of nations swarmed it, covering the shed from every angle. It caught the attention of some nearby enemies, but nothing they couldn’t dispatch easily enough. An army of nations banded together to keep the few safe.

Inside the shed, Liechtenstein had just knocked over a rather important box. The sound of a sharp crash, like glass breaking, shocked everyone into turning to see the cause of such a noise. Flustered Liechtenstein picked the box back up, apologizing for causing a ruckus.

“Hold on a second, Liechtenstein,” Switzerland picked up on the peculiar noise, “Open up that box.”

“Huh?” Liechtenstein nervously nodded, “R-Right.”

They opened the box to reveal a quietly ticking clock. The glass on the face of the clock was smashed, but the clock itself was still a working piece. Mockingly ticking away the seconds.

Switzerland lifted the delicate clock out of the box, “So this is what we’ve been looking for all this time... the last one.” Switzerland smiled triumphantly smashing it to the ground. The clock shattered. Breaking it into several pieces. Releasing the deep memories of nearly a century of the same repeating tragedy.

The countless days of tragedy, horror. Everything Italy saw, or at least whatever fraction of it they could hold onto, all zipped through their minds in a matter of seconds. The carnage. The loss. The despair. The never ending loop. The loneliness. Whatever the others had gone through. They had thought they had seen it, they thought they understood what this group had been through. ... They were wrong. No matter how many worlds they had become aware of, how many tragedies they had witnessed second hand, none of it could hold a candle to what Italy had been through.... and his undying light of hope. They were certain, that without that light, they wouldn’t have made it this far.

“That was...” Hungary clenched her chest holding herself as she shook from the memory that was ever fading.

“...Italy,” Austria felt a knot forming in his chest. They had better get everyone out safely. He wasn’t going to feel calm again until they did.

Belarus had remained focused through this having seen similar bloodshed in her childhood. She was not cold to it, but it didn’t shock her anymore. Not while she still had somewhere to place her feet. Her goal was clear. Get in, and save her brother. As long as she had that she could remain focused. “Over here,” she called the others over, hoping to distract them from their shell-shock. She moved one more box out of the way. “I think I found a way in,” She revealed. Three trapdoors were hidden under those boxes. Most likely they would lead to the tunnels, and the mansion.

“There’s three of them? but shouldn’t there only be one path? Why would three paths all lead here?” Ukraine asked.

“Maybe they lead out to different locations? It’s possible there are different points of access from different locations around the property,” Switzerland offered.

“Agh, we don’t have time for this!” Hungary growled in frustration. They couldn’t afford to check each path one at a time. They needed to get them out of there before any real danger presented itself. Before the monsters realized they weren’t heading for the front door after all. “We’ll have to split up. If we’re not back in fifteen minutes, send a group in after us,” Hungary instructed Austria.

“Wait. You girls can’t go alone. We’re coming with you,” Switzerland argued.

Liechtenstein grinned, “Don’t worry. We’re tough. We’ll bring them back in one piece.” She lifted up her pistol, “I’ve still got the gun you gave me.”

“Fifteen minutes,” Austria confirmed, checking his watch. That was going to be a very firm fifteen minutes.

Hungary sighed crouching near the entrance, “Don’t worry... We’re coming for you,” she whispered before descending into the unknown tunnel.

Choice

“Dammit,” America cursed as the group reached the end of the straight path. What lay before them now, was eerily familiar three way split. They had a choice from here. Go left, right, or stay straight. But which tunnel led to the exit?!

“Where do we go now?” Romano asked.

“What’s wrong?” Italy asked looking up to see everyone stopped in front of a split in their path. He, Germany, and Prussia, had fallen a bit behind as they helped Germany walk. Germany wasn’t lying when he said he was doing better than he was before, but these long periods of walking tired him out quickly.

“We’ve reached a fork in the road,” England explained.

“Then we’ll have to pick one and hope for the best,” Canada suggested.

“We don’t have time for that,” America Grimaced looking at his watch. Already there were only 46 minutes left. “If we go the wrong way, there’s no way we can double back here and make it down another path, and if we happen to be wrong twice we’re completely screwed. These tunnels are long.”

“America makes a good point,” England agreed, “I don’t like the idea of splitting up, but if there are only three paths that would at least leave us with groups of four.”

“And we have our cell phones working again,” France held his up checking the cell range, “so if one of us finds the right path we can call the other groups. We could even possibly bring reinforcements.”

“This still sounds like a bit of a risk, splitting up like this. We’d be dividing ourselves to save just a small amount of time,” Spain added skeptically.

“It could be almost twenty minutes we’d be saving, and we don’t have much more than that,” Italy worried anxiously. As the time marched on his anxiety only grew.

America watched another minute tick away on his watch, “Whatever we decide, we better get moving fast, or we’ll waste all our time standing here... While that thing behind us gets closer.”

Everyone spun around skittishly. Of course there was no creature behind them... at least not within sight. But the sound of heavy footsteps were still drawing nearer.

“huhu,” Japan commended America, “You’re senses have been growing sharper.”

“Alright, what is it then? Are we splitting up or will we take the first path?” England asked.

YOU DECIDE:

-> split into three groups - split

-> go down one path - 1st path

1st Path

“Then we stay together,” Spain confirmed. There was no sense in splitting up now. They would get out of this together after all, “Which path do we go down then?”

“Let’s just take the first path then,” America sighed heading for the tunnel to his left. They didn’t have the time to sit and discuss this. That thing was getting closer, and they were running short on time.

“Wait, America, hold up a second.” Canada, France, and England quickly chased after him, while Prussia, Spain, Romano, Japan, China, Russia, Italy, and Germany straggled along behind.

Italy and Prussia returned to supporting Germany as they hurriedly walked, Spain and Romano watching their backs. China and Russia waited for them to move ahead, “You can go on ahead,” Russia insisted, “We’ll follow in case that thing decides to follow us.”

“Grazie,” Italy thanked them as they moved down the tunnel.

“America!” Spain shouted down the hallway, “Can you slow down a bit? You’re getting too far ahead of us.”

America looked over his shoulder to see a great distance had formed between them. He slowed down, turning so that he was walking backwards in order to watch the rest of them catch up.

The group hurried along the dark path. Keeping each other within their sights. Germany was able to keep up with them much easier now that he had both Prussia and Italy to support him. His wounds were healing up faster now as well, without all that stress on them. They were still wary of what lay before them however. This path was longer than they would have liked it to be. Getting through it was going to take some time, and they were running rather short on that.

It was easy for those in the back to keep an eye on the rest of the group. But for those in the front there was an uncomfortable need to keep looking over their shoulders at to check on the rest of the group. Especially since the group had suddenly become so quiet now that their focus was directed at escaping within the time limit. It was because of this regular checking, that America was able to spot the danger that followed them. ...Just before it was too late.

“China, behind you!” America called out, suddenly realizing the shadow he spotted was something much more sinister than the echo of their footprints.

China turned just in time to block the attack of an oni that had followed them. Claws screeched against his wok echoing down the hallways. China jumped backwards as soon as he was able, letting someone else take over. Russia and Spain jumped in to continue the fight.

Russia’s violet aura illuminating him as he beat the enemy back with his pipe. Shallow wounds were left behind where she sharp side of his pipe made contact.

Spain used Russia’s attacks as ample distraction to attack with his axe. He wielded it down upon the creature’s skull, while it focused on chasing after Russia. The axe made contact with the back of the creature’s head, lodging itself firmly. Spain held on firmly as the monster reared back trying to dislodge it. The axe pulled loose after a moment of thrashing and Spain stumbled backwards thrown off balance.

The creature turned its aggressions on Spain, ready to pay him back for the injuries it sustained. It lashed out, claws scratching at the air just in front of Spain. Spain was still catching his balance, and barely dodged the deadly claws that reached for him.

Romano fired his gun a ways back, guarding Italy, and Germany. The gunfire was a direct hit to the creatures forehead, and provided Spain with enough distraction to get his balance back. America joined the long distance fighters firing off his own gun at the enemy. Canada as well fired a few arrows. Allowing a few others to get close enough to attack it.

Russia, China, Spain, Japan, and France now all simultaneously attacked it. America, and Canada waiting from a distance for an opening where they could shoot it. This fight wouldn’t last long. Not when they were all working together like this.

England pulled Italy, Germany, and Prussia aside while the fight went on. “They have it covered here. Let’s cover some ground while they fight. They should be able to catch up quickly,” England encouraged them. Germany’s injury had slowed him down considerably. He couldn’t fight like this. If they could cover some ground while the others were fighting they should be able to save themselves a few extra minutes.

“You’re going ahead? I’ll come too then. ... We’ll keep the numbers more even that way,” Romano followed.

The group moved ahead quickly. Trying their hardest not to look back as they worried as they left something would happen and they’d be too far away to do anything. That fear never let go of them. That something might happen. Even though they knew the chances of that were slim. They were so close! Every move they made now was life or death. There was no time for mistakes now. And no time to second guess their decisions. They just had to keep moving forward.

The sound of fighting grew faint behind them as they put more distance between them. Italy looked back only to see darkness. The lighting here was too faint to see the rest of their group anymore. He looked back only to be stopped by England.

“Hold up,” He warned them, “There’s something coming.”

The five of them hung close to the torch light that illuminated hallways. If anything came from either side, they’d be able to see it from at least a few feet back.

The heavy footsteps grew closer to the wary group. England watched the darkness for signs of movements. As soon as he could pinpoint its location he could attack. He had a spell that could paralyze the thing for at least a moment or two. He had enough magic to perform it right now as well. Although he would not be able to hold it for very long....

The creature let out a screech, “YoU..WiLL..No...T Es...CAppEEE!!!” Rearing its head back as it moved closer.

England locked his sights on it, releasing his magic to his fingertips as he focused on the exact location of it. He whispered under his breath to the other four without looking away, “When I say, I want as many of you as possible to attack that thing. I can only keep it still for a few seconds, so focus on its forehead.”

England stretched out his hand as he released his magic reciting the spell, "Im-pedi-menta!!"

A bolt of green lightning shot out from his hand illuminating and then paralyzing the monster hiding in the dark. It hissed in protest, but could do little to fight against it.

Italy, Prussia and Germany all charged it at once. Attacking where it was most vulnerable. Romano fired bullets from the back. The frozen target was easy to hit. If they could get a few more good hits in they'd have it.

England strained himself to hold on a moment longer. His strength was slipping from his fingertips with every breath that passed. The creature begun to notice the loosened constraints rather quickly. It pushed against them pushing England to the limit of his concentration. The hold he had broke a moment later, and England fell, no longer able to hold himself up.

Romano rushed in from the side, keeping England from hitting the ground. The creature roared with rage, finally free from its constraints. Italy ducked as claws lashed out at him. The monster was mad with rage and tore at them blindly. Italy was the closest, and the one it was most prone to targeting, so unfortunately he had to face the brunt of its attacks. Italy dodged the deadly talons, peddling backwards. He looked around him to Germany, and Prussia, hoping that thing would stay focused on him and leave them alone. In a terrified scramble, Italy tripped, falling to the floor, as the creature prepared to attack again.

“Italy!!” Germany and Prussia called out, rushing to help him to his feet. but there was no time. Like this the creature would-

Clang!

The monster halted. Hands reaching up towards its head.

Clang!

The monster turned around.

Italy rose to his feet. Bewildered by the sudden change in the Oni’s behavior. He quickly gathered his senses and moved to see what this creature had turned to fight. Prussia and Germany had already returned to fighting it.

Hungary stood just on the other side of the monster they were facing. Her frying pan in her hand, she looked as fierce as she ever had. Italy couldn’t help but take a moment as he became choked up on tears. How long had it been since he last saw her? ... Well there was from outside the window. He caught a glimpse of her and some of the other girls, if for only a second. Up close like this was something else. His chest tightened. There was something else too. If Hungary was able to be here. That means this tunnel must lead to the outside.

An arrow flew across the open corridor and landed squarely in the Oni’s forehead. Italy turned around to Canada in the distance relaxing his bow.

The creature faded.

Hungary sighed, “Phew. Are you guys alright? If I had known these things were wandering around in narrow spaces like this I would have tried to get here sooner.” Hungary caught her breath resting against the wall. This creature was certainly a lot tougher than the ones loitering around outside. She had to wonder if all the ones in here had been this strong. She wondered just how this group managed to keep up their strength.

“Ms... Ms. Hungary!” Italy called out somewhat child-like. He couldn’t help it. It’d been so long since he’d heard her voice.

Hungary grinned, “Italy!” She pulled him into a hug. “How are you? Are you all alright? We’ve come to get you out of here.”

“Hey! Canada said you guys were attacked too, is everyone alright?” America asked running in.

“Yes, we’re all fine here,” England said standing up. His head felt like it was splitting open, but thankfully, the painful migraine was the only side effect he faced from pushing the limits of his magic.

“What about you guys? Where is everyone else?” Romano asked.

The others came running in out of the darkness soon after America. “I realize we are in a hurry America. But could you slow down a little?” Russia asked joining them.

Italy counted as the others joined them: Canada, then America, Russia, France, Spain, Japan, China. They were all here. All safe.

“Hungary? Is that you?” France asked spotting her amongst their ranks.

“Good to see you,” Hungary smiled. She was so relieved to see they were all still safe, “I was starting to worry I wouldn’t be able to find you.”

“What are you doing down here?” Japan asked, “Does this mean you know the way out?”

“Yes! This path leads straight to the surface, we should be able to get outside in just a matter of minutes,” Hungary pointed behind her.

“Shit!” America quickly checked his watch, “It’s already 11:49 you guys!”

“We need to get moving quickly,” Canada hurried them along. Everyone rushed to their feet, getting into formation as they started hurrying down the hall.

Hungary kept up with them, leading them in fact, down the hallway. “What’s going on? Why is everyone so worried about the time?” She asked.

“We’re under a time limit,” America answered, “It’s a bit hard to explain, but now that we’ve broken that clock we’ve only got until midnight to escape.”

“What?!” Hungary asked in shock. She had heard something about a clock being broken mentioned earlier, but what was this about a time limit? Shouldn’t they have been informed of this? “What happens if we don’t get out by midnight?”

“Time rewinds. All of us will forget ever coming here. Only we’ll end up trapped here once again. Only this time no one will be able to keep us from making the same mistakes of the past, and there will be no chance for us to reverse time,” Canada answered.

“I better call the girls,” She suddenly worried, “There were three other tunnels leading down here. We weren’t sure which to take, so we all went in different directions.”

“What? But it’s so dangerous down here!” Italy’s eyes grew wide with fear. He could only hope that they were safe somehow. That, that somehow the paths they had chosen were safe.

The phone kept ringing. Hungary checked the number and the signal and redialed again. Why wasn’t she picking up? Ukraine always answered her phone... She tried another number. Maybe Liechtenstein would answer? ...No response there either. She tried Belarus... and then Ukraine again. Why was no one answering?! In desperation she tried Liechtenstein one last time. .... There was still no answer.

“Can’t you reach them?” France asked, wondering if it was a problem with the signal.

“No!” Hungary worried a little panicked, “and there’s full bars even here. I don’t know why they just aren’t picking up!”

“Let’s get back quickly,” Japan said remaining calm, “We will go back in after them once we’ve reached the exit.”

Hungary nodded, “Right. It’s just up here.” She ran several yards ahead. From a distance, the tunnel appeared to reach a dead end, but there was a stream of light flooding in from the ceiling near the end. A hand reached down and boosted Hungary out of the tunnel.

“Did you find them?” A voice recognized as Austria’s asked.

Everyone rushed forward eager to see everyone’s faces again. “Yes, they were following me,” Hungary pointed down at them, as they poured in around the exit.

Austria, Switzerland, and Korea huddled around the entrance helping everyone climb out. “What a relief,” Austria sighed, “We were worried we might have to come in after you.”

Hungary looked around the room quickly, hoping to spot at least one of the girls. No such Luck, “Has anyone heard from Ukraine, Belarus or Liechtenstein?”

Switzerland looked up at her rather concerned, “No, should we be worried?”

Hungary chewed her lip, “Maybe. There’s still some time until when they’re supposed to be back, but I can’t get a hold of any of them.”

Italy smiled nervously, “Don’t worry. We’ll all go back to help you look for them!” Italy really didn’t want to go back in there. Every fiber of his body told him not to. And he was so very happy to see everyone here. But that was precisely why he needed to go in there with Hungary. They couldn’t leave anyone behind. Most especially not someone who had only come to try and rescue them.

“That’s right,” Japan stood on her other side. “We’ll find them, and then we will all all get out of here together.”

“Are you going in after them?” Switzerland asked, “In that case I’m coming too.”

“Hungary. Which of these tunnels did they take?” England asked.

“Belarus and Ukraine took the left one, and Liechtenstein went down this middle one,” Hungary answered starting to climb down into the tunnel. Switzerland followed immediately after her. Italy, Romano, Spain, and Japan came as well. Russia, China, Canada, America, France, and Prussia headed after Belarus and Ukraine. Meanwhile Germany, and England stayed back with Korea, and Austria do to their health. Taiwan and Hong Kong were seeing to their injuries at the moment.

Hungary hurried down the tunnel. Practically sprinting at the rate she was going, leaving the others several yards behind. She just had a very unsettling feel about this whole thing. She was sure she was fine of course, Liechtenstein knew what she was doing with that gun, and she was a good fighter when there was a need for it. ...It’s just, with her not answering her phone.

Something skidded across the floor as Hungary accidently kicked it running through the long dark hallways. She looked to see what this mysterious object was. Only to lay eyes on a discarded cell phone...

Hungary picked up the phone, knowing within only a second that it was Liechtenstein’s. Hungary was really worried now. Why was her phone was out here? Did she drop it?

Hungary flipped it open only to discover spots of nearly dried blood clung in splatters to the case of the phone. “Liechtenstein!” Hungary called out, her fears only growing.

She ran further down the corridor, “Lilly?” She called her out by nickname. they had taken to calling her that lately. It seemed to suit her.

A muffled cough echoed down the hallway. A small figure lay slumped against the wall just a little ways down.

“Liechtenstein?” Hungary asked, approaching the small figure. She noticed the short blond hair and a loosened ribbon as she got closer. It was her.

Liechtenstein lay on her side, with her back to the wall. To say it looked like an uncomfortable position, would be an understatement. Her red dress did well to hide her wounds at first, but not the blood that had pooled up around her. She was sheet white, and looked like she had lost all strength to breathe.

Hungary knelt next to her looking over her frail body, "Lilly. Are you alright?" She checked her pulse, "Hang on. Help is coming."

Liechtenstein coughed, a little blood spewing from her lips. She tried to sit up, but her body was so numb she couldn't move.

Hungary pulled head over to her lap, trying to make her more comfortable. Tears streamed from Hungary eyes as she cried. She was so worried about something like this. Was she going to be alright? She looked so broken. And her skin was so cold.

"Hungary?" Italy and the others came running in from around the corner, "Did you find her?"

Hungary sniffed, choking on fear, "H-help. S-she's hurt pretty bad!”

Liechtenstein was lethargic. Her body was frail, and felt broken. She took shallow uneven breaths. Several of her ribs were shattered, and there was a gaping wound to her abdomen. Blood still dripped from the wide gash, despite the large amount that had already left her body. Claw marks stretched down her shoulder. Her face was bruised and bloody. She felt cold. Ice cold. Every movement exerted on her body inflamed her nerves. She fought with each shaky breath... To live just a moment longer.

Italy rushed over fearing the worst. And unfortunately, not without validation. He knelt next to Hungary, shaking with fear. He reached out to help support her as the others rushed over.

Liechtenstein cried, wincing against the pain, "It... Hurts!" She managed to cry out. It hurt so bad, and yet she was just glad she wasn't alone anymore.

"Liechtenstein!" Switzerland called out to her as he saw the state she was in. He held her hand trying to comfort her, "What happened to you?"

"I'll call Taiwan to bring some first aid," Japan tried to be helpful.

Spain shook his head and showed Japan his watch, "There's no time." It was 11:58.

"Tell them to meet us at the entrance. We'll have to be quick," Romano added. He wasn't sure she'd survive moving much further than that. She looked so fragile.

"I'm sorry," Liechtenstein whimpered, "T-there ...were...t-oo m....any... O-f....th....em...." Her voice trailed off into a whisper. Her body felt numb. Only a dull ache filled her head with pain. She felt so tired. Clinging to life, was clinging to pain when there was peace.

"No. No. Liechtenstein! Stay with me. Just hold on a little longer... Please," Switzerland cried extremely distraught. This wasn't supposed to happen. They, they were nations! ...and besides that. He was her big brother. He was supposed to protect her.

"We have to move her," Japan informed them, "Taiwan is waiting with medical supplies at the entrance."

Everyone took a side, trying to be as gentle as possible. But as she lifted wounds reopened and stretched, causing Liechtenstein to cry out in pain. She screamed so loud it chilled them all to their very bones. It would haunt them for the rest of their lives. That is.... If they still had lives live a few minutes from now.

"It's alright Liechtenstein. W-we're going to get you some help. E-everything is going to be alright!" Italy choked on his own tears. This wasn't happening. Not now. They had to make it out. they had to! This couldn't have all been for nothing. It couldn't...

They made it a few feet. Listening to Liechtenstein's cries of protest. They sounded so anguished... That is until they stopped. Hungary the first to notice. She called out hesitantly, "L-Lilly?" There was no response.

Hungary listened closer, praying she was wrong. Tears streamed down her face ceaselessly. There was no heartbeat.

"E-Everyone stop," Her voice shook as cried.

"We can't stop. We have to hurry!" Italy urged her, terrified of what might happen if he slowed down for even a moment.

Hungary shook her head, "No. I-It's too late. She. She stopped breathing already."

Everyone stopped. Liechtenstein was laid down comfortably on the floor. Her body limp as a doll. "No. No it's not true. Please Liechtenstein," Switzerland rubbed his hand across her face.

Italy just shook his head, falling to the floor. He felt weak. ...How... How had this happened? What he done wrong this time? What could he have done differently? How could this been avoided? He was so certain he had made the right choice when he broke the clock. But now. But now this death was on his hands. He.... He couldn't even go back in time to save her!

Italy's phone rang. Echoing through silent hall. Startled, Italy checked the caller id. It was America. Italy answered it on the second ring, "A-America?"

"Shit! Not there too," America cursed. He sounded frustrated.

"Wh-What do you mean not here too? What happened over there? Did you find Belarus and Ukraine?" Italy asked.

America took a heavy sigh, "Yeah.... We found them. ...Just not alive. It looks like they split up at this fork in the road. ....Russia's taking it pretty hard.”

Italy couldn’t speak. His heart felt like it had been crushed into a million tiny pieces. He didn’t know how to respond. He shut down. Internally throwing a tantrum of anguish.

“Italy...” America hesitated, “I-I don’t think we’re going to make it out.... We’ve got less than a minute, and when time resets...”

“I know!” Italy choked on his tears. They were fooling themselves if they thought they could escape without any memories of the past. It’d be exactly like the first time, only that thing would be stronger, and there would be no way to turn it back again. Italy blamed himself for failing to see this weakness, “I’m sorry...”

“Hey,” America comforted him, “I’m just thankful to have my family around me before we forget. And it’s not your fault. ...Actually that’s part of why I wanted to call you.”

“What?”

“I wanted to thank you, while I still can. You fought harder than anyone to get us all out of here. If it weren’t for you I don’t think we ever would have made it this far,” America praised him, hanging up the phone.

Italy sobbed loudly on the other end of the phone as the connection ended. He didn’t deserve thanks. Not now. Not after everything. His decision had gotten the girls killed, and the rest of them trapped here. Or perhaps doomed was a better word since there was no chance that they could make it out in the next world.

A glowing light suddenly surrounded them, tingling up his arms, and along the walls. Dissolving everything into the air. Italy suddenly was overcome with the need to see his brother. This next him wouldn’t see Romano again. This may be his last chance he realized painfully, “Romano!”

The two reached for each other as the world faded. When they would wake again it would be in a final world. One void of second chances and happy endings.

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DEAD END
Split

“Alright. We need four people to a group. Pick a tunnel and go stand by it,” China instructed them trying to get them to move along as quickly as possible.

The group to the left ended up Italy, Germany, Romano, and Spain. In the middle, France, America, Canada, and England. And on the Right, Prussia, Japan, Russia, and China.

“We all have our groups? Then let’s get moving,” America encouraged them as they began to embark on their separate journeys, “And guys, don’t forget about midnight. We’ll all survive and meet again!”

Group 2

“America. For someone complaining about how little time we’ve got, you sure are keeping us here a long time,” England complained.

“Just another minute,” America asked keeping an eye on his watch and quickly to the dark corridor they had just come from.

“What are we waiting for anyways?” France asked.

“If that thing following decides to take the path where Italy and Germany went they could be in some serious trouble. I want to at least buy them sometime,” America explained.

The watch ticked by another minute. Each hand counting the seconds until either their victory... or doom. Canada caught a glimpse of a shadow out of the corner of his eye “Ah, over there.”

America stared into the darkness until a figure was clear. Eyes made contact in the cold silence. “Come on let’s go!” America shouted, hopefully loud enough to attract the attention of this creature.

“What? We aren’t fighting?” England asked, chasing after them.

“No way! I just wanted to lead it away from the others. I’d rather outrun it and make it to the exit if we can,” America chuckled nervously, as they sprinted at different speeds down the middle tunnel. Just outrun it. Make it to the exit. Run. Run for Freedom.

Group 3

Japan, Prussia, China, and Russia had begun their journey through the tunnel on the right. The path had been pretty straightforward so far but they hadn’t made it that far in yet. They were careful to keep a swift pace, but they weren’t exactly sprinting down the hallway. After all, they it would be a shame if they were out of shape when they really needed to run.

Japan held up the rear, his pace weighted by his thoughts. There was a lot he still needed to be careful of. Had everything in his premonitions happened yet? Or was there still something more? What if he wasn’t ready for it? Had they really settled everything? He wouldn’t deny he felt they were closer as a group now, but how long would it be until something came to divide them once more? ... Japan shook his head. That was silly. Prussia had already explained this to him. No matter what challenges they would face, the strength of their group was from their ability to work through it.

An ominous force loomed over Japan as he was distracted by his own thoughts. China, who was a fair stretch ahead turned around as he sensed this presence. Just as the oni loomed over Japan... “Japan!” China shouted in warning, “Behind you!”

Japan spun around in daze. Shocked out of his trance. His sword was ready before his opponents claws. He slashed it’s chest before it could attack, sending it staggering backward a few feet in shock. “Haa, I’ve lost my touch,” Japan commented having missed the signs of it’s approaching presence.

The creature was ready to strike again a moment later. “Come on! We don’t have time to fight it, let’s try and outrun it,” Prussia called behind him, trying to get them moving. Japan blocked the Oni’s attack, slicing it’s arm. He pushed off of the blow to give himself a base to push off as he ran. The others were already far ahead.

the Oni followed in hot pursuit, around the subtle bends and creaking floorboards. Japan’s heart raced and he panted trying to keep his pace. This much running was bad for his health. A loose floorboard creaked underneath him as he passed it. He didn’t give it much thought but the idea that it might have given out from under him was worrying.

Not so far ahead, Russia led the retreat. If one could call it that. After all, they were running for the exit, not so much in fear of this monster. The boards under his feet suddenly let out a low creak. He became aware of the troubling sound, but didn’t give it too much thought until after he had crossed. The creak had grown softer as Prussia crossed, but unbenounced to them, the boards had also begun to bow. China trailed behind them and sprinted to try and keep up. Distracting him from the sagging boards. As his foot tapped the board it gave, pulling his foot down with it. China tripped grabbing at the air in front of him as he fell to the ground. His ankle twisted stretching to find the ground that had given out under him.

“China!” Russia called out with worry, scurrying back to help him to his feet.

China sighed, “I’m... alright.” He stood up only grimacing slightly from the strain that had been put on his ankle.

The floor behind China had caved in, leaving at least a six foot gap. Below was a deep pit, which the dark tunnels didn’t allow them to see the bottom of. It could be hundreds of feet deep. But given how far underground they already were, that was unlikely. Even still... A fall down there, there was no way of knowing if they would be able to get back up.

Japan watched the floor cave in in front of him as he caught up. Prussia called out to him, as China tested the strength of his ankle, “Japan! Are you alright?”

“Yes, but...” Japan judged the distance, and stability of the boards that remained, “I can’t get across like this. I’ll have to find a plank or something.”

“A plank? You think you can find one?” Prussia asked, “Wouldn’t it be safer to jump? That thing is still following right?”

“Huhu,” Japan laughed, “I may be getting old, but I’m still strong enough to take down at least one of them.”

“Japan!” China called out from behind him, “Take this with you,” He tossed a rice ball across the gap to Japan.

Japan accepted it gratefully, “Thank you China.”

Now, there was a loose plank somewhere back here. He remembered being wary of the way it creaked when he stepped on it. If he could find it again, he might be able to pry it up and use it to get across. Although finding it amongst the rest would prove a bit challenging. Especially since somewhere back here, that creature was still prowling.

Japan carefully crossed all the boards on his way back, if he missed one he would have no idea whether or not it was the board he crossed and it would take him hours to find one he pry up. He kept his hand ready at his sword. The dim light of the tunnels was already making it hard for him to see Prussia and the others... That thing wasn’t far from here.

The candle lights surrounding Japan suddenly fluttered out the moment he looked away. Japan suddenly looked up, drawing his sword in a battle ready stance. It was suddenly pitch black, “The lights went out?” He felt the air for any motion, “Was it the wind? Or...”

hissssss...

Air...or breath hissed just behind his ear.

Japan jumped slashing at the air behind him. His blade connected with nothing. “What was-!” He listened silently. Even though he was prepared for this. Even though he knew it was coming. The idea that could be all around him... He shook with fear.

This was crazy. It had to have just been the wind! It certainly would have attacked by now otherwise. Right? Anyways, he need to get a grip. If he panicked like this, the enemy would have the advantage. It could be on any side of him right? Then what if he could limit that radius to only three sides? He just needed to get to a wall. Japan turned to his right, taking a step toward where he remembered the wall to be.

The floor creaked under his step. Japan cringed as he heard the sound. Certain the Oni had heard it. And then he remembered the significance of the sound. Of course he would find the floorboard now.

“yOu... WiLl No...T eScA....pE!!” The creature roared from several feet away. Heavy footsteps followed in his direction.

Shit! So it was here. The sound of the screech rang through his bones. This wasn’t good. He needed to free this board before he lost it again. But that would take some time, and a lot of noise.

Japan stooped to the ground, feeling for the edges of the loose board. The footsteps stopped.

“DiE!!!” The ungodly cry sounded from just above Japan’s head. Talons lashed out in the air just over him. With shaky hands Japan delicately felt along the ground for anything he could use to distract it. Eventually he took off one of his sandals and chucked it down the hall hoping to distract it.

It worked. The monster heard the sound chased after it. Growling all the while. Japan took in a breath of air, still remaining as silent as he could. He pulled up on the edge of the plank. Breaking one end of it free with a loud crack. The wood bending upwards as it clung to the last nail.

The Oni let out a furious roar as it heard noise, running back at full speed. Japan scooted back quickly, which was all he could think to do as he couldn’t see to defend. The sound that was the creature passed him. Followed by another vicious crack, and a thud.

The Oni had tripped over the uprooted board, breaking it off the last nail and sending it flying...somewhere, while the Oni lay injured on the floor.

Japan got to his feet. That was the plank snapping, wasn’t it? He had to find it quickly then. If he had that, he could get back to China and the others and they could get out of here without having to deal with this thing more, right?

He took off his last sandal. It would be more of a hinderance to walk with just one anyways. Although it was too bad he couldn’t go back for the other one, these were his favorite sandals afterall. He threw the shoe down the hall. Testing the waters so to speak. That thing had been running so fast it would not be surprising if it had knocked itself unconscious. It’s lack of response was reassuring.

Japan tentatively walked across the hall, sword drawn. The board sounded like it had landed a ways this direction so if he panned the area he should be sure to find it.

Disturbing noises came from behind him as he looked a bit more hurriedly. His foot kicked something knocking it a few inches away, and causing it to slide across the floor noisily.

“Y..oU... wiLL ....NnOt.... Es...CApe!” The creature growled, pulling itself to it’s feet.

Japan grabbed at the ground in front of him, finally grabbing hold of the plank he’d been looking for. He spun around just as the Oni had gotten to it’s feet.

He listened as it took a step. It was wobbly, and it’s second foot took a second longer to respond than it normally would. It must have twisted it’s ankle.

This was good news. Japan didn’t have time to try and lure it away or fight it. Now, while it was disoriented, he could get away.

Japan made a break for it. Running full force back down the hall towards Russia, China and Prussia. He avoided the Oni’s swipes as he passed it, and ran down the hall heading toward the faint candle light ahead. As he drew closer he could see more. That was when he discovered the plank he freed was broken on one end. Likely from when the Oni had tripped over it. He only hoped it was still long enough to reach across. He didn’t have time to think about prying another up. ....The thing he fought in the dark was still hot on his heels.

Russia was the first to spot Japan coming back from the dim light the tunnels provided, “Look, see! He’s already back,” He reassured the nervous China and Prussia.

“Japan!” China called out to him.

Japan was out of time and energy for explanations, and social conventions, “Sorry. It’s hot on my heels. We have to run.” He placed the board down across the narrowest part of the gap and tested it for stability. the ends of the board only overlapped the sides by a bit more than an inch, but it was enough.

“What’s on your heels?” Prussia asked looking behind Japan.

Japan was halfway across the board when the creature emerged from the darkness. Barrelling in at top speed. Oblivious to it’s own injuries: It ran on a foot that had become twisted at least 75 degrees the wrong way, and a large chunk of wood stuck out of it’s forehead, gushing blood down it’s face.

“Shhiiiiitttt!!” Prussia exclaimed catching sight of it, as it gained ground on them.

Japan crossed the board just as it reached them, kicking the plank into the abyss below. The creature glared at them as they stood safely on the other side. “You fought that thing Japan?” Prussia asked staring at it’s twisted figure.

“More accurately I avoided it,” Japan confessed.

The creature backed up a few feet eyeing the gap. “Wait. Is it going to-?” China started to ask as the creature gave a running start.

Everyone backed up a few feet in shock. The Oni jumped, landing squarely on the edge of the other side.

“You’re kidding me!” Japan’s eyes grew wide as he feared having to fight this thing, dangerously close to that abys.

“Wait a second,” Russia waved Prussia back as he stepped in front to give it the first blow.

The planks supporting the Creature began to crack and bend under it’s unsupported weight. The creature took a step towards them and the floor caved under it. Hurdling it down below.

Japan let out a sigh of relief, “Well at least now we can’t be followed,” He muttered.

“No,” Russia reminded him, “From now, our dangers lie ahead.”

Group 1

Meanwhile, despite America’s best efforts, this group had run into their own set of troubles.

“yOu WiLl nOt EsCaPe!” The creature screeched lashing out at them. Spain blocked it’s attack with his axe, slicing the creature’s hand open.

“We don’t have time for this!” Romano complained firing his gun at the enemy.

Italy supported Germany as he tried summon enough strength to fight, “No, please. If you push yourself too hard now you won’t be able to run when we need to.”

Germany cursed through the pain, “That may be... But I can’t stand just sitting here and doing nothing,” Germany pushed Italy’s supporting hand away and forced himself to his feet. Only to fall back down with a sudden shooting pain from his abdomen.

Spain and Romano kept it at bay for now, but if the monster noticed Germany’s weakness right now, one good hit and he’d be finished.

Spain looked back, noticing Germany struggling to his feet a second time, “Italy. Roma and I can handle this one. You take Germany and get ahead. We’ll catch up once we’ve taken it down.”

Romano fired a bullet close enough to Spain’s ear to cause a ringing sound. “Hey Espana! Keep your eyes on it. It almost took your damn head off!” Romano scolded him. The creature’s hand lay contorted and limp at it’s side where it been shot apart.

Italy took a good hard look at his brother and Spain, as he helped Germany to his feet. He was scared. So bad he was trembling. Partings like this... more often it was a goodbye....

But even still... He knew it was their best shot. He nodded, summoning enough strength to smile, “Come on Germany... Let’s get a good head start. ... we-we’ll be out of here before you know it!”

“Italy wait,” Germany tried to argue, “We can fight!”

Italy shook his head, dragging Germany along. Tears spilled over his unwilling eyes, “No. We can’t. This is the best we can do... We have to keep going.”

Group 2

America brought up the rear as the four nations hurried along the narrow path. He turned around again to find that the Oni had only gotten closer. He fired several bullets hoping to slow it down. Two of three shots hit their target. One to it’s cheek, and another to it’s right shoulder blade. Neither shots in a critical enough place to make a difference. The beast had an undying stamina, and it’s speed was steady. The question wasn’t if it would catch up, but how exhausted they would be once it did.

Canada stopped suddenly, leaning against the wall, gasping for air. “Come on, we can’t rest here,” France helped Canada to keep walking.

“No. That thing is just getting closer. We should make our stand here while we still have the energy to fight,” America stopped him. Canada slumped back against the wall, taking deep breaths.

“America is right,” England agreed, noticing the speed with which the Enemy was coming, “We can’t risk it catching up to us later when we’re too weak to fight.”

America aimed and fired his gun on steady feet. Five bullets hit the Oni’s forehead perfectly. The thing let out a violent shriek. Stopping in it’s tracks for a moment before picking up speed and charging them with full speed.

France pulled out in front of them, his fleuret at the ready. He was fast on his feet and quickly landed a few good strikes. England summoned some of his little remaining magic and used it to create a patronus to attack the Oni. Canada fired off a few arrows from against the wall, sticking the creature in one of it’s eyes.

The monster lashed out in anger, claws raking the air around the nations as they dodged the dangerous claws. A claw nicked France’s cheek as he ran by. “France, are you alright?” England asked looking to his right to make sure France hadn’t been injured badly.

The Monster took it’s opening, putting the brunt of it’s attack on England. Claws dug into his stomach throwing him across the hall and into a wall. England grimaced in pain, pulling himself to sit upright.

“England!!” France called out with fear.

Canada was closest to where England landed, and was there in a second to get him some first aid. England grimaced in pain, pulling himself to sit upright. “Don’t sit up just yet. I have to wrap the wound first or you could bleed out,” Canada forced him to lie back down. Inspecting the wounds they weren’t too bad. His thick clothing had protected him from the worst of it, it was mostly just bruising and maybe a fractured rib. The claws wounds themselves were small, maybe a centimeter in diameter and only a quarter inch deep at the worst.

America turned on the monster that had caused this damage, taking his rage out on it. He fired several bullets at it’s head and attempted to lash out it while it was distracted by the metal in its head.

There was a crack from the floor he was standing on, and that was all he could remember with certainty leading up to what happened next.

The floor gave out under him and he began to fall.

Darkness suddenly surrounded him. Where had the enemy gone? Where had England and the others disappeared to? Where was the light?

The ground met him suddenly, sending spikes up his legs. He looked up, and saw light from above. A jagged circle above his head. A face looked in from above, small and distant, showing the true size of the circle. “America!” France’s voice called down from above, “America are you alright?”

He must have fallen through the floor. Thinking back he could remember the creaking floorboards clearly, the way they sank when he stepped on them... but something like that, of course he didn’t notice such a small thing like that. Not while they had so much more to worry about. He looked up. But for France to seem so far away, he must be rather far down. What kind of place was this?

He answered France, as he found his footing, “Yeah... I’m alright,” He looked around in the darkness, “but... I’m not sure I can get back up.”

“Don’t worry about that for now,” a second voice called down, “Can you see anything? That thing fell down there as well!” Canada warned as his head peeked in from the distant whole above his head.

That thing?...!! America looked around rapidly. Where was it? He couldn’t see a thing down here! That sound he heard a moment ago... could that have been it? Was it just stalking him now? Prowling around waiting to strike? Perhaps it couldn’t see him either.

“I’ll see if I can’t find a way out from down here,” America dug out his phone, suddenly remembering that it was a source of light as well, “I have my phone with me. If you don’t hear back from once you’ve gotten out, send help.”

America turned on his phone using it as a small beacon of light to survey his surroundings.

“Alright, we’ll send help as soon as we can!” Canada called back.

“And America, be careful!” England shouted back.

America chuckled, he’s one to talk, “Same to you eyebrows!” America’s phone light landed on a support-beam that stuck firmly in the ground, reaching up the ten twenty feet to where the floor used to be.

A growl echoed from behind.

Startled America spun around to see what had made the sound. He did not believe for a moment that the creature had simply vanished. It was around here somewhere...

There was a lot of rubble on the ground, and the light from America’s phone could only light so much of it at a time. About a three foot radius actually.

America made his way precariously back over to near the center of the hole. The rubble beneath his feet shook loudly as he stepped, making it hard to hear other noises. America un-holstered his gun, warily checking his surroundings.

There was nothing. He couldn’t see anything. Nothing but the rubble.

America took another step forward, the wood crunching beneath his feet.

Suddenly the ground erupted behind him. Wood splintering, planks flying. And a vicious screech echoing sonorously throughout the empty space.

America spun around, tripping over the scraps of wood at his feet. He aimed his gun in the direction of the noise, hearing footsteps, and shuffling debris moving ever closer. He fired into the darkness, too distant to see. The light from the gunfire illuminating the room for short bursts at a time. In that time America took in everything he could.

Flash!

A patch of grey directly in front of him.

Flash!

The claws. Jagged and long raking the air. America scooted back avoiding the next attack. Quickly, reloading his gun.

Flash!

Out of his peripheral, it had moved to the left? America turned, aiming at the darkness to his left.

Flash!

It was moving left again... Getting closer. Circling? It was almost directly behind him now. America stumbled to his feet, aiming his gun at the darkness behind where he stood.

Flash!

Shit! Where was it? He saw nothing. Just the rubble beneath him. Come on, Come on! He shook with anxiety.America blinked hard, and forced himself to take a deep breath. Listening... A crunch to his right.

Flash!

Dead, Soulless eyes stared back at his. Hardly a foot from his face.

The creature let out a cry of anger, “YoU... Wi...Ll... No...T EsC...aPe...”

America fired another bullet, expecting to see the creature in mid attack. No such image emerged. It couldn’t have moved away so quickly though...

America pulled out his flashlight, scanning the immediate area for any sign of it. There was nothing... Just silence.

“Is it gone?” America wondered.

The clock ticked past 11:37.

Group 3

“Now what do we do?” Prussia asked.

They had come upon a split in their paths. Their choices now were left and right.

“Well we can’t just split up. If our group keeps getting smaller soon we’ll be all alone, and those things will just pick us all off one by one,” China rationalized.

“But if we choose just one path, and we’re wrong...” Japan trailed off.

“We only have about twenty minutes left,” Russia reminded them.

“What?! Only that long?” Japan asked shocked and surprised.

“Then we really need to make up our minds quickly...” Prussia muttered.

“Don’t worry,” Russia stepped over to the path to the right, “I’ll take this one, and the rest of you can stay together.”

“Isn’t that a bit reckless?” China exclaimed.

“If you’re off by yourself, then we’ll have no way of knowing if anything happens to you,” Japan argued rationally.

Russia smiled, it felt nice to have them so worried over his safety. “It’s no problem. I’m strong enough to protect myself without your help. Besides I am the fastest of us after all. I will rejoin group once I’ve reached the end.” Russia smiled already heading down the hall.

“Russia! Wait a second,” Prussia called after him.

“Let him be,” China sighed, “He’s already halfway down he’s not going to listen to reason right now even if we forced him.”

Russia

Russia turned down the next bend in the twisty road. The path led him into a small clearing. One which provided him with another to paths to choose from. a path on the wall to his left; the same wall which the tunnel he just came through led to. The second new tunnel was on the wall to the far right.

It was going to be difficult to proceed from here. He couldn’t go through both paths, and the others didn’t want to split up. In any case, he should call them and let them know about the situation. Russia pulled out his phone.

Before he could dial the first digit a swarm surrounded him. Monsters everywhere, appearing out of thin air, all around him. 3...5...9...10??

He thought that was about it... That was 10 too many. He had a greater danger at hand. Russia grinned, readying his pipe for war, “fufu, All of you against me alone?... I’ll just have to be careful not to get my scarf dirty.”

Japan, China, Prussia

thump.

“Do you really think he’ll be alright?” Prussia asked.

“Are you worried?” Japan asked, chuckling to himself.

“No. It’s not that... But if something happens... then that’s it. There’s no way to fix it this time. The idea of that happening. It scares me more than anything,” Prussia admitted.

thump.

“Prussia...” China sighed in understanding.

‘Kesesese!!” Prussia laughed, changing the mood, “But I swear if we don’t find the end of this tunnel soon!”

thump.

“Does anyone else hear that?” Japan asked, stopping in his tracks.

“Hear what Japan?” China asked.

THUMP.

The three jumped as they noticed the sound at increasing volume.

“It’s coming from the floor!” Prussia noticed, stepping away as if he could step off the ground.

THUMP!

This time the sound came from behind them. “What is this? That thing fell down there. Do you think it’s back?” China asked.

THUMP! Thump.

Two thumps this time. Was there more than one? The group huddled close together and avoided making any more sound, but even that couldn’t stop it. A moment later...

CRACK! the wood in front of them splintered open.

America

Alright, so the thing was definitely gone now. But now America faced a different problem. It was pitch black down here, and seemed rather endless.

America passed another support beam. Maybe if he could climb up one of these?... but even if he could do that, there was still the problem of breaking through the floor.

No, the only possibility he could see was finding a wall somewhere down here. Or maybe a ladder? ... Only even if he could find something like that, he’d gotten himself so completely lost down here, that he wasn’t even sure he’d be able to find his way back to the hole where he fell through. And the more he walked the more apprehensive he became. Especially when he had to factor in the short amount of time they had left.

A green light glinted off of America’s phone light. “What’s this?” America wondered, digging the small orb out of the dirt. Upon closer examination the identity of the object was clear, “England’s magic? But I thought we’d found it all... And anyways, what is it doing in a place like this?”

A small squeak from nearby startled America, causing him to trip backwards.

“Oh,” He sighed in relief seeing it was only the little mochi, “Hehe, It’s just this little guy.”

The mochi nudged against his leg, and then started tugging on the sleeve of his jacket. “It’s as if he’s trying to tell me something,” America thought, given the creature’s behavior. “Hey, do you know the way out here?” America asked jokingly.

The mochi responded instantly, looking up and down as if to nodd.

America’s eyes widened with shock. Seriously?! Did it just respond to him? He stood up quickly, “Please! I want you to show me the way.”

England, France, Canada

England pulled out his phone as they continued walking. His abdomen burned as they walked, but at least the pain was starting to subside. He was far more concerned about America. He was hoping they would make it out of these tunnels a lot sooner. He was very concerned that America might be in danger, or that they might not return in time to get him out of that hole, and escape.

England sent him a text as he walked, asking if he was still alright down there. At the very least, he could be glad that he could still communicate like this.

It was only a moment later that he received a response, “Yeah. I even think I might have been able to find a way out... maybe. Anyways. What about you! You were hit pretty badly. Are you ok? Have you guys found your way out yet?”

“A way out?! Perhaps we should have followed you then... Also, We’re doing just fine as well, other than we hav” England was cut off mid word as he felt a heavy blow to the back of his head, followed by several slashes to the back of his neck. The force pushing him to the ground, and knocking his phone from his hand. The text never sent.

“England!” France called out, rushing to help him up after hearing him fall. A grey giant loomed over him. Grey talons dripping with red blood.

France blocked the creature from attacking England more, as England crawled away to rest his splitting headache against the wall. Two blows to his head within the same hour...

“I... just need to rest a moment...sorry,” England apologized, Taking deep breaths and blinking rapidly to keep himself from passing out.

“France!” Canada called out from the other side, noticing something ominous in the darkness, “We have a problem...” Another Oni’s clambered their way into the light.

“You’re telling me,” France looked horrorstruck as one more came in from his side.

England tried to muster enough strength to help fight, but found the effort wasted. This was insane. Three of them?! One sneaking up on them out of the dark was one thing, but three?! They were outnumbered and injured. Not to mention surrounded. This was hopeless. He couldn’t even summon enough strength to get up and help them as they were being massacred! How were they possibly going to escape this?

Germany and Italy

Italy swung the stick that was left over of his white flag at the creature before them.

Spain and Romano were still somewhere behind fighting off the first one. Meanwhile this thing had appeared out in front of them. Of course they tried to run first. Although their only option was to run straight at it... And with Germany’s injuries, they simply couldn’t outrun it.

Germany cracked his whip at the creature, giving it 30 lashings. Red blistering welts appeared on it’s grey skin.

The monster cried out, and in retaliation turned it’s aggression on Germany, throwing him down the hall with enough force to knock him out.

Germany’s head injury only got worse as it bounced off the floor. He felt like it was going to split into two. The sharpness of the pain was enough to knock him unconscious. Externally, his nearly closed wounds had reopened, and began to bleed.

“Germany!” Italy screamed. He was starting to panic. This couldn’t be happening. Not now. Please! He already broke that clock! He couldn’t go back this time and save them.

Italy spun around quickly. More than anything, his first priority was to help Germany. He still had some carbona. If he was hurt again, then that should help heal him. Italy started to run down the hall to where Germany landed.

The creature clawed at Italy’s turned back as he pulled just out of reach. The push however, was enough to knock Italy over as he was about mid-turn. His foot twisting painfully.

Frightened by the close encounter Italy scrambled to his feet. Ignoring the pain in his still throbbing foot. He looked at his back as he got to his knees. The scratches to his back barely cut through his skin, Perhaps only thin red lines. He was lucky it wasn’t worse.

Italy pulled himself to his feet and immediately had to redistribute his weight to his left side. His right ankle winced at the pressure. What was wrong? Why wasn’t he moving? It hurt but-

A more solid slash hit hit back, tearing up up another section of his jacket. The claws sinking deeper this time; drawing blood. Italy fell to his knees again. Crying more from the pain placed to his ankle from the forced weight, than from the cuts on his back.

Fighting against the pain Italy looked ahead. Germany still hadn’t moved... He had to get over there. He had to get over there but-

Italy wiped the tears from his eyes and pushed himself along. Crawling a few inches forward. Struggling to his knees. Scooting just a bit closer, “I have to get out quickly... quickly, quickly. I have to... get Germany...” Italy sobbed loudly. He couldn’t think clearly anymore, “This. This isn’t the time to sprain my ankle!”

As Italy crawled just a little further. He could see the Oni’s shadow looming over him. He saw It’s hand pull back preparing to strike. He shut his eyes tight, bracing himself for it. He couldn’t fight back. He couldn’t run. He was so scared that this might be it. One more hit and... Tears streamed down his face as he prayed for some miracle. And yet... And yet... If this was truly the end... Could it just be over with quickly?

“dIE!!”

Finale

*CLANG! CLANG!*

Italy opened his eyes slowly as the blow he awaited never hit. In front of him, blocking the attack, was Hungary. She had swooped in at the last minute to save them. The creature stumbled backward from the unexpected blow. She reached down and helped Italy to his feet. “Are you alright?” She huffed, “I got here as soon as I could.”

“I-I’m fine,” Italy stuttered in shock. He winced as he put pressure once more on his ankle, “It’s just my ankle.”

Hungary blocked the next attack of the creature with her frying pan. This one was stronger than the ones she fought outside. She wondered if she’d be able to handle it alone. “Take care of Germany. I’ll fight it off,” She instructed Italy, regardless. She shoved it backwards and gave it a strong whack to the side of the head. It retaliated quickly with a slash across her side. Luckily it barely broke skin.

Italy nodded, watching Hungary fight, and limped over to where Germany lay immobile. Italy knelt down next to Germany tentatively, and reached out to him, “Germany?” He tried to nudge him awake.

Germany moved a little but remained still. Italy nudged him a bit harder, trying not to shake him, as he was still taking in all of his wounds, “Germany! Are you alright?”

Germany stirred awake slowly and painfully. He groaned as he started to sit up, “I feel like shit!”

Italy forced his voice to stay calm as he started to address Germany’s injuries, “I know. But you’ll be ok. We’re almost at the exit now.”

Hungary jumped backwards to avoid another strike from those deadly talons. She was out of breath from running down here, and now this thing was giving her a work out she wasn’t prepared for. She moved fast, afraid of slipping up and getting hit again. Already she was littered with scratches from head to toe. She was lucky that was all the injuries she managed to sustain.

She heard the sound of gunshots firing as she headed in for a second attack. For a moment she wondered if it was Lichtenstein, but then she remembered that they had headed down separate paths. The Oni spun around, clawing at the back of its head to pry out the bullets.

Romano stood a good distance away and reloading his gun to fire again. Spain charged it, axe in hand, ready to slice it in two.

The thing charged them, ready to pay them back in turn for the bullets. Leaving Hungary just a moment to catch her breath. She collected herself and joined them. After all she couldn’t just let them fight it off alone.

Romano managed to fire another round of bullets into it’s forehead before it reached Spain. The monster reared back as the bullets cut through the thick skin of its forehead; leaving Spain just enough time to slam his axe into the creature’s skull. A deep gash appeared over it’s left eye at an angle across it’s cheek. The cut was deep, and bled heavily, blinding the creature for the moment in one eye.

The monster retaliated violently swinging its arm out in spain’s direction. Spain moved but not in time. He was thrown into the wall with a heavy thud. Spain sank to the floor, losing his strength to get up and continue fighting. He and Romano had just fought their own battle after all. They were exhausted.

Hungary dove in, just as Romano fired off another round of bullets. She hit the creature on the back of the head distracting it.

“It’s weak spot is it’s forehead!” Romano shouted out to her, try to help her land more helpful blows.

Hungary wished they had shared that information with her sooner. She wound up and whacked the creature directly in the forehead. Right where all the bullets fired at it had gathered.

The creature screeched loudly and vanished.

The three of them sighed heavily, glad that that mess was over. Hungary caught her breath, and Spain dusted himself off. Romano immediately ran over to Italy, who was starting to help Germany to his feet.

“Are you ok? What happened to you?!” Romano demanded to know angrily.

“Sí, I’m alright,” Italy assured him, “What about you Romano?”

“You are NOT fine. Look at your ankle!” Romano argued with him gruffly. He started trying to splint it with the little supplies they had left.

Hungary and Spain rejoined them before Italy had time to say anything more about it. “So what are you doing here?” Spain asked Hungary, “Not that we don’t appreciate the help.”

“Oh! We found the entrance to the tunnels so we thought we’d come in after you,” Hungary explained.

“‘We’?” Germany asked to verify the plural statement.

“Yes. Me and the other girls,” Hungary suddenly began to worry about them. They had after all gone down separate paths. What if they had run into monsters like these? If they were alone, there would be no way they could have fought them off, “Actually... I’m starting to get a bit worried about them. We found three separate paths into the tunnels, and we all went down different ones.”

“That might be ok!” Italy smiled, “Our group also split into three different paths, they’ll probably meet back up.” He was glad. This was actually really lucky. It meant that the other groups didn’t have to double back and follow the right path, which would save them a lot of time they didn’t have.

“We should hurry through the rest of these tunnels though. We still don’t have much time to spare,” Spain reminded them, “Hungary, can you lead the way?”

Back through the other winding paths of the tunnels, similar events were taking place.

Russia huffed as he struck down another of the surrounding monsters. There were still six left, and they were starting to close in on him. Russia had cuts all over his body, and a particularly nasty gash across his forehead. He had kept up for this long, but he was starting to wear thin. Even his strength couldn’t match up to all of these things at once.

That’s when she appeared out of the darkness. Belarus swooped in out of nowhere and started ripping apart the monsters in her path. “No one lays a hand on my brother!” She screamed, plunging her dagger directly into one of their foreheads.

The thing screeched angrily as she twisted it, pulling it out to stab another one. Russia knocked the one she made a direct hit at back with his pipe. The jostling blow defeating yet another one. The circle that had tightened around Russia slowly relinquished its grip, and the tables began to turn.

Liechtenstein fired, coming hot from Canada’s side. The enemy Canada had been solely focused on went down as the bullets connected with the back of its skull, finishing it off. She ran up to them as it vanished, gun at the ready. Canada immediately moved to the other side to help France with the two he had been fighting off.

Liechtenstein knelt next to England, noticing his injuries. “Hang on, I’ll get you patched up,” She spoke, as she started addressing his wounds.

“Liechtenstein?” England asked groggily. His head was still spinning, and his chest burned from the claw wounds, “What are you doing here?”

“We’re here to help,” She encouraged him, “We’re not far from the exit.”

Japan dodged the claws of the monster attacking him, darting around one of the many holes in the floor. Prussia struck it from behind while it was caught off guard by Japan. China worked on luring the other one to a weak point they’d discovered in the floor. If they could slow it down for even a few minutes that would be enough.

Prussia stepped backward to avoid the Oni’s retaliation, stepping on a creaking board. “Prussia, the floor!” Japan warned him.

Prussia quickly backed off the bowing board, it cracked as he stepped back from it. The floor was becoming a minefield as they fought. there were two large holes from where the Oni’ had broken through, and because of that many of the surrounding boards had weakened, causing cracks and more holes throughout the floor. It was hard enough to walk without breaking up the floor; fighting two monsters on top of that was a bit more than a difficult task.

That’s why help came from the outside. Ukraine rushed in to help as soon as she saw the fight. She targeted the nearest monster, which happened to be the one China was fighting. Ukraine stabbed it with her pitchfork before it had the time to notice her, and thrusted it forward into the pit below. Simultaneously, the creature Japan and Prussia were fighting turned to attack Prussia and stepped on the broken board Prussia had barely dodged. The weight causing the oni to get its foot trapped in the floor. Japan and Prussia used this opportunity to strike.

Japan dodged the claws of the monster attacking him, darting around one of the many holes in the floor. Prussia struck it from behind while it was caught off guard by Japan. China worked on luring the other one to a weak point they’d discovered in the floor. If they could slow it down for even a few minutes that would be enough.

Prussia stepped backward to avoid the Oni’s retaliation, stepping on a creaking board. “Prussia, the floor!” Japan warned him.

Prussia quickly backed off the bowing board, it cracked as he stepped back from it. The floor was becoming a minefield as they fought. there were two large holes from where the Oni’ had broken through, and because of that many of the surrounding boards had weakened, causing cracks and more holes throughout the floor. It was hard enough to walk without breaking up the floor; fighting two monsters on top of that was a bit more than a difficult task.

That’s why help came from the outside. Ukraine rushed in to help as soon as she saw the fight. She targeted the nearest monster, which happened to be the one China was fighting. Ukraine stabbed it with her pitchfork before it had the time to notice her, and thrusted it forward into the pit below. Simultaneously, the creature Japan and Prussia were fighting turned to attack Prussia and stepped on the broken board Prussia had barely dodged. The weight causing the oni to get its foot trapped in the floor. Japan and Prussia used this opportunity to strike.

America followed after the little bouncing orb that guided him. He could hardly keep up with all the rubble, but he was afraid of losing sight of it. His phone light could only see so far ahead after all.

The little creature had led him through a path of several of England’s lost magic. Hopefully enough to return some of England’s strength to him. But he was somewhat worried that the mochi had led him on a hunt for England’s magic as opposed to showing him a way out. He was also concerned that England had never replied to him. He needed to find a way out quickly and find a way back to them.

It wasn’t long before America noticed the ceiling was getting a lot closer to him. Of course, it wasn’t until it was only about three feet above his head that he noticed at all. “Hey, are we getting close?” America asked. A little further down he could touch the ceiling, “You think we can break through here?”

The little mochi kept hurrying along. America followed after it. It stopped several yards ahead where they suddenly touched wall. At this point America was on his hands and knees. The wall was mostly dirt and stone, and the same followed for the section above.The mochi gestured up.

“Through here? But we must be like thirty feet down. I can just dig out of that,” America argued, but the mochi was persistent.

America started to question why he was listening to such a strange creature but quickly remembered he didn’t have a lot of other options. He reached his hand up into the dirt above his hand and dug it out. Sections of the ceiling crumbled easily once he chiseled his was through the thick section.

He was about half a foot up when his hand dug through a pocket of empty space. He pulled his hand down quickly, dragging chucks of rock and dirt down with it. The tiny specs of dirt embezzling themselves into the fabrics of his clothes, the corners of his glasses, and down into the roots of his hair.

When America looked up he saw light. A pale light mind you, as it was late into the night. The moon was directly overhead. He could see the stars. Cautiously, almost in disbelief, America dug the hole wider. He peeked his head out and slowly started crawling out from under the side of the shed.

As he started to pull himself out of the hole, one of the many nations that had gathered around the front of the building took notice. “Is that America?” Finland asked, pointing him out.

Not a moment later, no less than ten nations were there to help him to his feet. America looked around in awe. He was aware that more nations had arrived, but now it was really looking a lot like the entire world. He was still a bit disoriented by it. The grass beneath his feet and the stars lighting up the sky above his head. He was outside. He’d made it out. They were this close.

He suddenly worried for the others. He texted England again, “Hey, I found a way if your path ends up being a dead end, come down through the hole I fell through and go straight until you reach the wall.” America checked the time as well while he was at it. 11:52. He hoped they’d have enough time.

“America,” Norway asked, “How did you get out? Are the others behind you?”

America shook his head, “No they should be coming through the tunnels... Why is it so quiet out here?” He asked noticing the still, calm air. Most everyone was recovering from the day of fighting, and oddly, there didn’t seem to be any of those things out here at the moment.

Sweden pointed toward the front door of the mansion, “They started gathering over there.”

“We were going to try and fight them all off until we got word that you guys were coming through here,” Denmark explained.

America looked to the army that had amassed around the front door with an uncertain discomfort. His eyes then darted to the distance to the gate they needed to pass through in order to escape. “Alright. While we’ve got this opening. I have a plan,” America explained.

“It’s just up here,” Hungary stopped up ahead. The tunel here appeared to be a dead-end, but in actuality there was actually just a crate covering the hole which they would escape from.

Hungary climbed out first. Greeted by Austria and Switzerland as she came back into the room. She extended her hand to help them out. Spain came through first, followed by Romano, and then Germany. Italy climbed out last. His heart was racing, and he still felt in like at any moment this dream would be taken from him. He was hurt. His friends were hurt. But they were getting out, and he couldn’t believe that day had finally come.

“Are you alright?” Austria asked Italy, offering him a hand.

Italy nodded, as got to his feet and looked around the room. Hong Kong was already fixing the bandages on Germany’s wounds. He worked fast. Hungary was giving them the full run-down on everything that had happened. Everyone was finding their places. Italy began to wonder about the others. “Has anyone else made it back yet?” He asked.

“No, you’re the first to come through,” Austria told him, unaware that outside this room America had already made his way through.

At that moment there was a bustle at one of the other tunnel entrances. Russia burst through the exit climbing his way out of the hole forcefully. He was covered head to toe with sticky dark blood. It was hard to tell how much of it was his, and how much the enemies. After climbing through he reached down to help Belarus out. She clung to her brothers side contentedly. They both seemed to had suffered minor injuries, but otherwise seemed to be alright.

At the same time Liechtenstein’s group started coming through. Canada and France came through first, followed by Liechtenstein and then England. Taiwan moved to tend to England’s injuries almost immediately. Switzerland went to make sure Liechtenstein was ok.

“I should go let everyone know that you’re out and that we need to move soon,” Austria decided heading out of the building. Italy’s eyes darted once more to the open door.

A moment later the last group made their way through the same tunnel Russia and Belarus had come through. Japan, China, Prussia, and Ukraine came rushing through.

Italy greeted them all as they entered the room. He did a quick head count. Everyone was still here. He was a bit worried about some of their injuries, but they seemed to be alright. “Everyone. Everyone’s here right? We all made it?” He double checked.

“America. He fell through the floor back there. Last I heard from him he was alright, but I have no idea if he’s gotten through yet or not,” England spoke up.

Italy felt a pit of dread and guilt from overlooking someone. He looked more carefully around the room again just to make sure everyone else was here, and relatively alright. “Should we go after him?” Italy asked, “If one of us gets stuck behind...”

At that moment America came in from the door. “Perfect!” He cheered, “You’re all here!”

“America, how did you make it out?” Canada asked.

America got a puzzled look on his face and he questioned England, “Didn’t you get any of my texts? I told you guys already I found my own way out.”

England checked his pockets only to remember that his phone had been knocked away from him when those three Oni’s had attacked them, “I... lost my phone,” He admitted.

“Are you alright?” America asked, noticing how bad England’s injuries were starting to look.

“I’m fine,” England refused any more first aid treatment and started to stand up, “Besides, we have a time limit. We need to get moving.

America perked up, suddenly reminded of what he had been working on. “Oh yeah,” America headed back outside, and everyone followed, “I’ve been working on a plan.”

Nations from across the world lined up outside the door. They stood side by side, the line stretching as far as the gate. They cheered as the twelve stepped outside.

“See I was thinking. Like we did in the basement. If we all lined up like this, we’d all be close enough to run to each other’s aid if there’s trouble,” America began to explain his plan, “and then as we reach each person, we can form a tight circle. Anyone who’s hurt can stay safely in the center, and if there’s trouble, those on the outside are the ones who can still fight.”

Italy looked out across the field in awe. His eyes were already brimming with tears, and they hadn’t even escaped yet. So many people had come to support them. They were all working together. A unified, unstoppable force. He looked up to the sky to see the stars. How long had it been since he’d seen stars? Well, he’d seen them through the barred windows, but not like this. It must have been years since he’d seen the night sky like this. And the cool night air wrapping itself around him. It had been a very long time since he’d felt like this.

A foreboding, “YoU wiLl noT eScaPe!” echoed in the distance. The monsters had caught on to them and were coming in hot from the front door.

“We need to move,” Japan reminded them.

“We have six minutes,” China said, checking his watch.

“See you guys at the gate,” Spain called out as he started running.

The group moved slowly at first, but quickly gained speed. The twelve of them formed a tight circle around their injured, with Italy, and Germany close to the center. Italy started off able to see glimpses of everyone, a moment at a time. But as the Oni’s grew nearer, the circle grew larger. All he could hear were the loud ominous echoes of the creatures, As they threatened death, and promised them no escape. Italy trembled as he ran. He was scared to believe. After all that had happened, every time they had been this close they had lost everything. He didn’t think he could handle losing everything again. He was scared to believe that they could make it. But with his entire being he pushed on, believing, praying that somehow. When the next six minutes passed they’d be on the right side of that gate.

“Watch out for each other! Don’t let anyone fall behind. Don’t fall. Don’t get hurt!” He began chanting sutras, trying to remain focused on what was ahead of them. And to remain hopeful and positive. They could do it. They could make it. This time for sure...

As the adrenaline coursed through his body, making him blind to the pain of his injuries, every second that ticked by was recorded into his memory. Time moved by slowly, and then... When he least expected it... He caught a glimpse of something from above their heads.

Italy stopped, staring in disbelief at the fixture they had just passed through. Prussia continued to help Germany along, as Italy stopped and stared. He turned around to see full picture.

They had just passed through the gate.

The last few nations ran past him as they made it through as well. Italy glanced around as they passed him to see everyone. The entire world. Standing together in the face of mutual enemy. They’d all made it. All of them. No one had fallen behind, and they had all escaped.

Italy looked back at the mansion that loomed in the distance over the heads of old foes. They screeched furiously, and angrily. They were angrier than ever... and not one over them crossed over the gate.

Italy let out a strangled laugh, and tears began to stream down his face. They were out. At last they were finally free. That thing couldn’t hurt them anymore. They had won.

“We did it! We actually did it! We’re out! ALL of us!... Somehow this feels like a dream,” Italy said as soon as he was able to speak.

America took a look at his watch as they celebrated, not forgetting the impending time limit., “Two minutes to midnight, and not a moment too soon. Is everyone alright?” There were various gestures and confirmations from everyone. Many were seriously injured, but nothing fatal. Especially now that they had crossed out of the area of the curse. America spoke directly to Italy, “Italy... before time resets again... we have to burn it.”

“Right,” Italy nodded, pulling out the book. The Oni’s grew more agitated as they pulled out the book. Although they still couldn’t do anything from where they were.

Italy laid the journal down in the gravel of the path. America stooped down with the lighter and lit the first page on fire. The journal went up into flames quickly. The image was repeated across the front yard of the mansion. The Oni’s screeched loudly, as they too caught on fire.

The world watched as everything burned away. As The journal became smouldering ashes the Oni’s all disappeared. There was a moment of silence before Italy dared to ask, “Did we make it?”

“Another thirty seconds to midnight,” Estonia spoke up from behind them.

Everyone waited anxiously. Silently. They were certain they had done everything right. Followed all the rules. and yet a small part of them worried that they might have missed something. That there was still a chance, that once midnight rolled around, everything would reset and they’d be trapped in there once more. The clocked ticked slowly.

There was an audible sigh from America as he watched the clock hands on his watch tick by the last second. “Midnight,” He announced proudly.

Everyone cheered. The world celebrated. They made it. Truly. Made it. Italy cried as he allowed himself to fall into an embrace with his friends. He had waited a very long time for this day. And now he could finally say something he had wanted to all this time, “Let’s go home.”

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Good Ending
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