HetaOni: Time Marches On

Chapter 17... continued

Aaah…Here we go again...

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder… If this story will ever have an end…

Eh, I guess we will find out later, won’t we?

Now as time marches on…


“What’s wrong?” Germany looked to Japan’s surprised expression with curiosity and a little concern.

“I-Italy?” Japan didn’t answer him but his eyes grew wider, even while he remained otherwise frozen with his hand on Italy’s still face.

By this point Prussia was getting concerned too. What was going on? Why was Japan suddenly freaking out over Italy?! “Hey! What’s wrong?!”

Japan began to shake Italy, as if trying to wake him, “Italy! Italy!”

“J-Japan?” Germany responded with shock. What had gotten into Japan all of a sudden?

“Italy! Please you have to wake up!” Japan continued to shout, paying no attention to Germany or Prussia.

All the noise caused the others in the room to rush over. “What is going on over here? We heard a lot of shouting,” France asked.

Prussia started to pull Japan back so that he would stop shaking their poor dead friend, “Japan Italy is-”

“ALIVE!” Japan beat him to it, “He’s breathing!”

In shock and great disbelief Prussia released his grip on Japan, allowing him to rush to Italy’s side once more, this time holding his hand. “But... west had checked his vital signs himself!” Prussia commented, trying to figure out how this had happened.

Germany was already checking his pulse, and for signs of breathing again. His surprise, and the look of relief on his face made his answer clear before he had even spoken, “He’s... breathing!”

“Are you serious?! But I thought... I mean he really looked...” America spoke in shock.

“We all thought so, but apparently that wasn’t the case. Actually it’s a small miracle, since everything else seems to be heading downhill fast,” Canada added.

“But it’s so unlike you to mis-read someones vital signs west,” Prussia continued, although Germany never answered.

“Maybe it was a freak accident of sorts. Like you sometimes hear on the news. Someone comes back to life hours after being pronounced dead,” France suggested.

“Don’t say that! It’s like the living dead, and It’s really freaking me out!” America complained.

England stared hard at the empty space in front of him. Ever since that fight, all he could see was darkness. But he felt something in front of him. In the direction he assumed, was the bed where Italy lay.... He saw a light. It emanated from that spot. From Italy. If he focused he could even see it moving throughout Italy's body... pumping magic through his veins. It was the first thing he could almost “see” since he’d lost his eyesight, and of course like everything else, it made no sense. He remembered clearly taking back his magic from Italy. So how was it back? And there was even more than Italy had before. It was what was keeping him alive for now. England was so confused by this discovery, while he wouldn’t let it go, he also didn’t share it with the group. Letting them carry on without him.

“Germany? You were the one who checked his pulse. What do you think happened?” Canada asked.

Germany brushed his large hand across Italy’s small face, brushing strands of ginger hair away from his sleep heavy eyes, “Quite honestly, I don’t care how he’s alive.... I’m just glad that he is.”

Spain and Romano

“Anyways Romano, What happened to Italy?... You called out to him before you passed out,” Spain asked, knowing something bad must have happened for Romano to have had such a terrible reaction.

The memories Romano got were still a bit hazy, but he had been trying to sort through it. Where the lines connected were what worried him though, “I-” Romano thought it over carefully. From what he could remember, the lights went out, and Veneziano got scared. Typical of his brother to get scared of the dark.... But then... that Thing appeared out of the darkness. There was still a break, a missing piece after that on his end. A flash of someone who looked vaguely familiar, but he had no recollection of... and then more darkness. His heart still felt shattered, as he recalled the feeling of it bursting. That type of pain in the heart, and being alone against the monster... was he alone? It definitely started that way, but who was the other person?... Spain was still waiting for an answer, “I-I... I could feel it," he clenched his fingers, wrapping them one over the other and squeezing, right over his heart, "The sudden jolt when his heart stopped.” After experiencing that kind of pain... and this wasn't the first time he'd felt something like this... he was almost certain his brother had lost his life again.

Spain wrapped his arms around Romano in a hug, and for once Romano didn’t fight it, “It’s alright Romano. This time we will be there to get them all out alive. We'll find a way.”

Romano felt like screaming, and crying, or maybe punching anything! Of course feeling like crying made him not want anyone around to see him. But more than that, he didn't want to be alone. He didn't want anyone to start disappearing again. He wasn't sure how just yet, but he was going go get his brother back. Of course first he'd need to know exactly what happened to him. Which meant getting back. ...He scanned the room several times trying to find the magic circle that was supposed to bring them back. "What? Where did the damn circle go!?" He shouted still looking as if he'd missed it.

“That’s right, While you were were passed out the circle faded away,” Spain remembered.

“Well how the fuck are we supposed to get back then? England was the only one who could send us back like this!” Romano cursed in frustration.

“Ah! That reminds me. England came by here too. I thought it might be our England since the circle had just disappeared, but I turned out to be wrong,” Spain explained to Romano.

Romano punched him in the arm, releasing some of his own frustrations, “Idiota! We aren’t supposed to mess up this timeline! What if what you said changed our loop?!”

Spain rubbed his slightly bruised shoulder, “Sorry sorry. I was kind of desperate to get us back.”

Romano crossed his arms, “What did you talk about anyways.”

“Oh? Umm, well I told him we were from the future, and we were trying to get back to our time,” Spain replied.

Romano let out a sigh, “Well if you said something like that, there’s no way he’d believe you.”

“I guess so,” Spain chuckled nervously, “hmm, but when I asked him if he could use his magic to send us back, he turned me down flat.”

A little irk mark appeared above Romano’s head. Somehow that irritated him more than anything else. Here they were trying as hard as they could to get back to their own time and not screw up this one, and the only one who could possibly be of any help to them, had outright refused. Romano wasn’t going to take anymore of this. He wasn't going to help them get back to their own time? Fine. Then he would change and twist this timeline to his will. Hopefully enough to prevent his brother from meeting his determined fate. He took Spain’s hand and started dragging him out of the library, “Which way did he go?.... I’m not letting him leave us stranded here dammit!”

“Roma-” Spain noticed Romano’s determination, and the pain he was trying to replace. They were stuck here anyways, and he’d already managed to screw up this timeline, “... He left out this way,” He pointed left taking them out the bottom exit.

Romano led them out, taking them to the piano room first. He had no idea where England might have gone, but he might as well try every room until he found him. What did he have to lose?... His fratello was dead.

The Piano stood stark white in a relatively white room. It stood front in center in an otherwise fairly empty room. Several cabinets and bookshelves lined the wall to his immediate right, but other than that it was empty. Empty, other than their memories. This room had been the place of many discoveries: The clocks, the safe’s combination... But it had also been the place of many horrors... And many deaths... Romano turned around heading back to the hall. No one was here now. Time to move on.

They headed upstairs, if he wasn’t up there then at least they could cross that floor off. Then he could go floor by floor and find out where England had gone. However, as it turned out, they wouldn’t have to wait that long. As they reached the top of the stairs, they could hear voices.

“Did you hear that just now?” Germany asked.

“Yes, just a moment. I’ll go check it out,” Japan responded.

“NO!.... I’m sure it was just a creaky floorboard... Please don’t go Japan!” Italy’s voice broke out, making Romano’s heart lurch. When was the last time he’d seen his fratello? What was the last thing he’d said to him?... It was no use. He couldn’t remember.

The others from this loop continued talking. “Don’t worry I’ll stick close. If we run into one of those things England mentioned we can all fight together,” Japan responded.

“I-I’m going with you then!” Italy insisted. Romano stared at the top of the staircase in front of him, knowing that just passed it was his his brother. Still alive and working with his friends.

“Romano,” Spain tugged at Romano’s sleeve more urgently, “We should go.”

Romano nodded, not realizing he had tuned Spain out until now. Ever since his brother’s death he’d had a hard time keeping focused. And hearing him now.... Romano turned with Spain as they attempted to slink back down the stairs.

“R-Romano?” Italy’s voice caught in his throat, as he saw his older brother and Spain near the bottom of the stairs. He felt his heart tighten upon seeing them again. How long had it been? This was only the second time he had been here. A second chance to get his friends back... but he hadn’t seen him since before the world conference meeting the first time... Oh, but why did he have to come here? He had tried so very hard to make sure at least he never found out about this place.

Romano couldn’t turn around... not yet. He wasn’t ready. Because this was a failed time loop. This Italy would lose his friends again. And again and again, until he got to where his brother was, and then... He would die. That is unless he could do something about it. He knew that the moment he turned around he would feel like he had his brother back... even now he felt such feelings growing. ...But he couldn’t let himself get attached to this Italy. Because this Italy, wasn’t the same, within the agonizing time of each loop, he would one day become his brother, back in their own time loop, who he needed to find a way to save!

“Italy? What are you-” Japan joined him, followed by Germany, “Oh I see, so Spain and Romano have joined us. But how did you get in? The door is locked.”

Spain tried to handle the situation on his own, “Haha. Looks like we’ve been caught," He joked.

“Romano. Why did you come here? You were supposed to stay at the meeting place!” Italy let out. He couldn’t be here. How much did that change? How many people was it that he had to look after now? He wasn’t any good at this.

Italy’s hand reached out hesitantly and touched his brother’s shoulder, causing him to spin around suddenly. “!?” Romano responded letting out a sound that would have been a cuss... but seeing his brother’s face again just brought tears to his eyes. Which he quickly rubbed away, “Idiota! Don’t sneak up on me dammit!” Romano growled trying to keep his tough composure.

Italy looked surprised but quickly smiled, “Sorry... But Romano you really shouldn’t have come.”

Romano was tired of playing this game again, “Don’t tell me that. I’m Italy too dammit! Everything that you’ve been through-”

Spain cut him off, “Actually we’re trying to get back. Have you seen England?”

Romano punched Spain in the chest, “Bastard! You cut me off!”

“I’m sorry. We’re looking too, but so far we haven’t been able to find the exit. But how did you... the door...” Japan answered.

“Ow, Roma~ That kind of hurts,” Spain tried to hold Romano off.

“Why are you looking for England?” Germany asked.

“Ah, sorry, I guess I didn’t explain very well. You see we’re from another future,” Spain said.

“You can’t just say it like that!” Romano scolded him.

“Another future?” Germany asked, “What do you mean by that?”

“What the tomato bastard was trying to say, was that this isn’t the only time you’ve tried to escape. We’re from a time in the future, where England had enough of his magic to manipulate time. He sent us back here to make sure some of the things we did didn’t mess up this time, but now the circle has vanished, and we don’t have a way back,” Romano let out in one breath.

“A future time? ...What are you talking about?!” Italy responded nervously trying to keep up his own facade. Romano just stared at him with a frustrated look.

“So now you are looking for our England to send you back,” Japan responded not missing a beat.

“Wait... But if what you’re saying is true. Wouldn’t that mean that we don’t get out this time?” Germany questioned, “... And if you were trying to prevent changing time, Why tell us this?”

“... Ah... Yes? I mean...” Spain took a deep breath, “Yes we’re looking for this time’s England to send us back. I ran into him earlier and tried to explain our situation, so I’ve already kind of messed up this time by talking to him. Anyways, Roma doesn’t think I did a good enough job talking to him, so he wants to try.”

“You’re wasting your time,” England said from the other end of the hall, “I haven’t changed my mind about this time.”

“England!!” Spain jumped, not realizing he had sneaked up on them.

England walked over to the rest of them, “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t worry the others. If you can’t go back to your time or whatever. Then do your best to help us here.”

“But England, if what they say is true. This time has already failed,” Japan argued.

“They also said they were trying not to mess up this time. Time has already changed, So it’s still possible we can make it out of here,” England refuted.

Italy stepped forward. “Please... If they have a chance in their time... You have to send them back!” Italy begged.

England felt a notch in his stomach, remembering the last time they had been through. Italy, had felt so alone that he ended up doing all the fighting himself, leaving him to turn back time. To have him ask something of him now... “Even if I wanted to! It’s not like I can just throw this amount of magic around. I’m not strong enough for that,” England complained, trying to avoid confrontation.

“Please, there must be a way,” Italy begged.

“What about just one of us then?” Spain asked, “If you could even just get Romano bac-” Spain broke off as Romano elbowed him in the ribs, “Agh!”

“I’m not leaving you behind, bastard,” Romano growled.

“Awww~ Am I really that important to you? That makes me so happy!” Spain grinned.

Romano stepped on his foot, “It’s not that!... I just don’t want anyone falling behind this time.”

“Ahem,” England cleared his throat, “Anyways there would be no point to sending just one of you back since it wouldn’t fix either of our times. It would simply be a waste of magic.”

“Then...” Romano held out the journal to England, “Can you at least send this back? Without it, our time can’t try again, and there would be no more chances.”

“That’s-” Italy cut himself off before anyone could hear him.

England thought about it. Even an object of this size, to send it through time, to the future at that, would take an immense toll on his magic. Not diminishing it, but he had planned to use it to fix this time. He looked at their faces. Begging, hopeful. He sighed, “Oh, alright. I should have enough for that. But the two of you had better help out while you’re here.”

England summoned up the magic within him, letting it spread to his fingertips before creating a circle on the ground where he set the journal down. There was a bright flash, as England connected this journal with the time it was from, looking for clues from all the possible outcomes at this point by matching wavelengths, sending it finally back to it’s own time.

Russia and China

China folded his arms, “Alright, we’re here. Are you going to tell me why you needed to use me as an excuse to come here now?”

“Not telling~” Russia answered in his usual upbeat voice.

"What the hell?!" China responded, "I covered for you, and you won't even tell me? What are you looking for down here anyways?"

Russia contemplated divulging this information, "Hmm... I'm looking for more papers like the other ones we found in the annexe."

China looked a little confused. Why did he have to consider telling him that?... There was still something he wasn't saying, China deduced. Very well, he'd ignore it for now, but if it raised issues later, Russia would be hearing from him first, "Alright. I don't know why you're so interested in some papers, but I'll help you take a look around."

China began to explore the room rifling through the bookshelves and picking up loose papers that were scattered on the floor. Nothing really stood out. They were just old texts. Some containing old folklore, others were more like an encyclopedia. About what you’d expect from an old house like this. It was a little frustrating since he felt like he was wasting time. He looked over at Russia, who was leafing through an old book. Strange, he never pegged him as someone who loved reading.

“Aiyaa! I don’t even know what I’m looking for! This is pointless,” China complained.

Russia didn’t even look up. What did he have to say? It’s not like he was going to tell him anything.

”I’m going to check out the other room now, let me know when you’re finished,” China responded annoyed.

Russia wandered around the room for a bit. Rifling through papers and books. "He said it would be here," he thought to himself. After a while of nothing he managed to make his way over to the bookshelf in the far right corner of the room. The bookshelf was oddly turned away from the room, and there were faded scuff marks as if it had been pushed."Maybe it is here? Hnnng... it better be. I hate being lied to."

Russia pushed one side of it wood scraping against wood, making a heavy screech. Once he had it pushed far enough to see he inspected it. Second shelf down, to the right of the last book, a stack of papers jutted out. They were handwritten and hard to read, but they appeared to be some kind of architectural papers.

Russia smiled, "oh here it is... ....better keep this safe from the others." He stuffed the papers in his coat.


China looked around the small room. It was fairly vacant, save for a small table. And on the wall to his right was a large switch. The lever was by far the most interesting thing in the room. However because of this, China decided he should probably wait until he had checked out the rest of the room first, so he wouldn’t forget to.

He skimmed over the surface of the table, a few pages were scattered about it, as if someone had been studying them. There was no dust in the room, but he assumed the papers had been set out like this for a long time. Come to think of it, no where in the house had they ever found dust. It must be because the building being set out of time.

Something in the corner under the table caught his attention. A glowing orb of light. “This is... England’s magic?” China carefully picked up the glowing orb. He didn’t think there were more down here. In any case this could be quite useful. England had lost so much of his power earlier that he’d lost his eyesight as well, maybe this could help him get some of it back?

China carefully tucked it in his pocket. Alright, there was just one thing left in the room now... The lever. China inspected the device. Unlike the one on the fourth floor, this one only moved two directions. From up to down, and from down to up. As it was now, the switch was pointed up. China had an uneasy feeling about pulling the switch though which made him hesitant. As his hands gripped around the metal bar in preparation to pull the switch, the door to the room opened.

Russia trotted in smiling as always. China let go of the lever momentarily, “Oh, it’s just you... Did you find what you were looking for?”

“No, not really. But it looks like you’ve found something pretty interesting, da?” Russia prompted.

“Yeah, I just got this weird feeling about this lever,” China answered looking it over, and putting his hand on it once more.

“Hmm? Well let’s just see where it leads da?” Russia asked.

“You’re right, we can prepare for it, once we figure out where it leads,"China struck his hands down, pulling the lever down. A rumble erupted through the room resembling a small earthquake. A doorway opened up on the back wall, directly adjacent to the lever.

“Ah! We’ve made a new breach!” China exclaimed in excitement... before their “friend” decided to join the party.

A terrifying monster that was so huge it was almost to big to fit through the doorway emerged. It was a pale grey, it’s skin loose, flabby, and dead-looking. It watched them with soulless uncaring eyes. As it moved closer, a step at a time, not running, but still fast enough they couldn’t both get away. And it was these features in particular that made it such a fearsome monster.

“It looks like we weren’t the first to find it,” Russia commented.

“This isn’t the time for jokes,” China scolded Russia. “Prepare yourself for a fight,” He added pulling his Wok from off his back.

“Uhuhu. I already know,” Russia answered having already drawn his pipe. The one he had Japan specially craft for him, so it’s bottom half extended as a sword.

“YoU...WOn't...ESc...aPe..." The Monster snarled, baring it’s ugly fangs in twisted toothy growl. It’s long claws raking the air to swipe at them as they got closer.

Russia grew more serious in battle. His usual smile vanished to reveal an expression that had been hardened for war. He and China both ducked out of the way avoiding a dangerous blow, and leading the creature into the room. On the creature’s right, Russia held out his pipe horizontally, a purple aura erupting around him like a wild fire. Russia let his emotions control him, bringing the aura to it’s peak, a brilliant vibrant color enveloping him and his pipe. China distracted it by dodging and hitting it when he had the chance.

Russia smiled when he felt his strength reach it’s peak. A small smirk glinted across his face. He charged the monster head on. Putting the full brunt of his attack smashing the thing to pieces. The monster turned just in time to get hit directly in the eye. The blade end of Russia’s pipe stabbing through it’s thick skin, as it attempted to blink the blade away. Blood, not the same as a human’s but blood nonetheless oozed out of the blinded eye. Russia merely shook off the grotesque bits of eye that clung to his pipe. Both he and China, had simply gone through this too many times to really feel one way or another about something like that.

The creature screeched in pain, throwing itself backward into the wall. A moment later it lashed out, hitting China in the side. China was knocked back several feet but managed to regain his footing. He paid it back in kind for the injury. China pulled his anger to the tips of his hands. China was normally rather slow, but that speed did not apply in the heat of battle, he would move as fast as he needed.

He struck the creature at eight of its major pressure points: the back of the neck, both temples, the back of its knees, its inner elbows, and then the chest. Performed on a human it would cause extreme paralysis. However this creature had little reaction to it. There was a cracking sound and a screech as it broke its paralysis, lashing out just in time to catch China as he tried to get away. The creatures giant claws scooped him up like a rag doll, batting him across the room. The sharp jagged claws shredded China's left side tearing through both clothes and skin. The brute force of the attack knocking him against the wall.

Russia took over while China was temporarily out of it. The purple aura still emanating around him as he charged the creature, swinging the pipe over his head. It may have been drawn out on the bottom edge like a sword, but he still moved it like a pipe. Crashing it down on his opponents head. The weight with which he brought it down, and the sharp edge slicing deep into the creatures head, created the biggest impact. The deep cut slicing in at an angle, going into it’s head a good three inches. The thing reared backward, ripping the pipe from it’s head. The pipe soared through the air landing away from everyone, and away from the battle scene.

To prove it’s indestructible power, the creature continued to fight, regardless of the head splitting injury. In fact it only seemed to make it angrier. It lashed out again. This time for the temporarily unarmed Russia. Russia dodged the attack but only barely, as he tried run backward to retrieve his pipe. A second swipe and that would be it. He had no means to retreat far enough in the time it would take. And no means to block it. Just one stretch of the arm for the monster before him, and everything would be over.

However, they had grown too strong to fall into simple traps like that now. The creature did lunge, but it did not hit Russia. Instead the deadly claws scraped against China’s Wok, like a shield. SsCCrrReeEEEeeeEECCchHhHH!!! The nails scraped across the metal pan, in like a sound closer, louder, and more high pitched than nails against a chalkboard.

Russia took these seconds to grab his pipe. Once he had it, China jumped back, letting the creature trip forward for a split second. “NOW!!” China shouted to Russia giving him the word to begin the plan they had silently conducted.

China took it’s right, and Russia it’s left. The creature was too confused as to which one to follow, especially with only the one good eye. China hit it in the head with his wok disorienting it, and forcing it to turn its attention towards him.

Russia meanwhile took his place behind it, turning his blade like a spear. When it was in position He charged it, stabbing it through the chest, in the place where it’s heart did not exist. It’s skin was thick and stretchy, so it made a popping sound when it finally snapped, allowing the blade edge of the pipe to pierce it. The creature reared backward falling further into the blade.

However even an attack like that wasn’t quite enough to destroy this beast. Before it had time to even pull away from pipe it had become impaled with, China acted. The distraction by pain from the back provided China with a perfect opening to attack from the front. All he had to fight with were his hands and his wok. And this time, it was his hands, that were more suited for the task. While the monster was distracted he charged forward, hitting the creature in it’s other good eye before it could even see him coming. The feeling was cringe worthy, although China remained indifferent to the experience. The creature blinked a second after China’s hand gouged into it’s giant eye. The eye itself was roughly the size of his outstretched hand, and disproportionately large compared to the rest of the monster. It’s eyelids - thick grey skin that lay over it’s soulless giant eyes - closed around China’s hand. Holding it, but not immobilizing it.

China instantly withdrew, Russia pulling back at the same time. The goo that eyes were made of still clung to China’s hand. He merely shook it off and rubbed the remainder off on his clothes. The monster, having taken two simultaneous attacks, losing it’s eyesight, and suffering several other major blows, finally faded away. It’s body ghosting before disappearing entirely. It let out one final curse before it vanished, “diE..."

The two panted heavily. “Phew, I was worried the two of us wouldn’t be enough to take out that monster now that it’s this strong,” China responded.

Russia leaned against the wall, the energy he’d wasted fighting that creature finally catching up with him. The same happened to China. He bit into a rice ball to regain some strength, but he could suddenly feel the severity of the gashes on his side. He winced in pain.

“China?” Russia asked, “Are you ok?”

China finished the rice ball in one bite. His hand reached down to inspect his side through his somewhat torn clothes. The two major cuts were still bleeding, although they weren’t deep. He still had some time to get it bandaged up, but he should do so quickly to avoid infection. “I’m fine,” He answered Russia, “I just need some basic first aid.”

“You should head back to the room then,” Russia suggested to China.

“Right let’s get going aru,” China turned to leave the room, but halted when he didn’t hear footsteps follow him, “... Aren’t you coming?”

Russia smiled and waved China ahead, “I’ll catch up with you in a minute. I want to take a look at this new room.”

“B-but-” China was cut off as his wounds shot him a jab of pain, “ack.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Russia continued to smile, “China needs to take of his injuries. I’ll be fine. It won’t appear here again so quickly da?”

China knew he wasn’t going to win this argument, and Russia was right, he needed to get some medical treatment. But Russia was dead-wrong about it being unlikely to appear so soon after it had been defeated. Although perhaps he knew that, and was just trying to find himself a good excuse. “Just be careful alright?!” China said before letting him have his way and leaving to return to the room.

By the time Russia answered China had already left the room, “Da... I’ll be careful.”

He pulled out his cell phone and put in the first number on his speed dial. It rang twice before he got an answer, “Da, it’s me... I found it...”


Italy

The crackle of burning wood echoed throughout the room. Bringing in an eerie and unfitting sense of calm, and warmth. The heat relieving Italy’s worries to a small extent. Even in this dream they had run into the creature a few times now. Thankfully no one was really hurt as of yet. Also, it wasn’t just Prussia, Japan, and Holy Rome here with him anymore. They had run into America’s group now as well. In this time... this dream, America’s group had gone first, followed by Italy’s.

The set up was familiar, but he couldn’t quite place where this felt like. His memories were all jumbled. They were all there, but they had no order. Everything swirled around at once happening all out of order in his head. It was hard for him to place exactly where in time he was... but this all felt like something he had lived before. What had Holy Rome said? “This is as if you were in a dream. Except for one thing, everything will go as you like.” What had he meant by that? So far... things were NOT going exactly as he’d like... No one had died yet, but that monster was still attacking them... And he was still no closer to finding them a way out.

There was a click of a key turning the lock on the door, startling everyone in the room. Japan and Prussia jumped to their feet startled by the noise. Italy did for half a moment as well, until Holy Rome reached over and rested his hand on Italy’s, “Don’t worry, the others are just getting back,” He told him, calming Italy’s fears.

France and England kicked open the door first, somewhat dragging America between the two of them. All six of them were severely beaten and bloody. America was barely conscious. His left arm looked broken as it dangled in a funny direction. His face bore a single scar above his eyebrow, that chipped his glasses. bruises were beginning to form all over his body, some the size a dinner plate, but far more the size of golf balls covered his exposed skin. A huge gash sliced through his stomach, to the point he had left a trail of blood down the hallway.

France and England were not much better themselves. France had a large gash on his arm that still hadn’t stopped bleeding, as it died his blue sleeve a deep red. England had scars across his face that were still damp with blood. He also looked like he’d been hit in the head, possibly even thrown into a wall.

Russia had a visibly broken arm which he cradled. His arm bent the wrong way and the bone stretched against his skin threatening to break through. The arm moved limply and abiding to the direction Russia held it, like a dead body. Russia seemed in so much pain... it was a very strange sight.

China fared best out of the lot of them. Walking away with only a twisted ankle and some minor cuts and bruises.

...Canada, was leaning against the door for support... a little ball of fur cradled in his arms. The fur was white... but it had been stained blood red. It hung limply in his arms. There was no sign of any movement at all from it. Canada looked like he had been crying. and, in fact he had continued to. Tears were still rolling off his cheeks, as he cried out in quiet agony. He turned over the limp body in his arms, revealing the blood stains on his sleeves and chest. The limp clump of fur had a face.... the face of a small bear, which lolled over Canada’s arm to stare vacantly at the floor. Canada held the tiny corpse close to him as tears fell from his face, “... Kumajirou.”

“!!” Italy responded with shock, and fear, “You’re all hurt! What happened?!”

The group moved in, France and England setting America down on one of the beds. “We were attacked! ... That creature was a lot bigger than last time.... and it didn’t help that we had all split up...” France explained the situation, before wincing in pain from his injuries.

“You split up!? B-But I told you not to!” Italy cried. How was he supposed to keep them safe if they wouldn’t listen when he warned them?!

“Sorry... we just thought it would be an easier way to find the other piece to fit that switch,” England explained. “Ack!” He doubled over holding his head in his hands revealing a rather serious looking wound on the back of his head.

Italy panicked upon seeing this, “Nevermind then. I-I’ll treat your injuries...” He responded getting his white flag. ‘This is what I’m supposed to do right? We don’t have any first aid... So maybe if I use my flag as bandages?’ Italy thought over and over. Something wasn’t right about that... Even though he couldn’t think of a logical reason why he wouldn’t treat their wounds. Something didn’t feel right. Was he forgetting something?... if he was... then it mustn't mater. Because right now, his friends needed him. He started with America, tearing off large strips of his white flag to wrap him up.

Meanwhile France talked to Canada who merely sat in the corner, caressing his bear. “Canada... How are you holding up?” France asked.

“I-It seems like some kind of sick joke... I keep waiting for some sign that he’s still alive... but...” Canada fell silent on his own words, looking down at his little bear, who had fought harder than anyone.

“He’s - Canada... I-I don’t know how to tell you this but-” France tried to tell him the facts. The small bear had been sliced open... and when that wasn’t enough, it had been thrown against a wall.

Canada didn’t look up, “You don’t have to say it... I know.... It just doesn’t seem real to me yet.”

Canada stroked Kumajirou’s fur, before laying him down in the corner of the room. He then took off his reddened coat, laying it over Kumajirou like a blanket... except he covered his head too, “You did your best,” He whispered, tears streaming down his face... He had just lost his best friend.

“Canada! Your hurt!” France exclaimed noticing the slash across his stomach. It cut through his undershirt as well, but thankfully appeared only to be a scratch. He must not have noticed it when Canada had his coat on, because of all the blood that covered it.

Canada looked down at the dried blood and scars on his skin through his shirt, “Oh... I guess I didn’t notice...” He responded.... but that was a lie. He remembered clearly.

The creature had just attacked them. Canada had been too busy trying to warn France and America... He didn’t even see the attack coming... Kumajirou pushed him out of the way taking the brunt of the attack on himself. The wounds were deep, enough that blood was actually pouring out of him... But he just slowly rose to his feet. At this point everyone was trying to to fight the monster as well. However, they couldn’t do it all on their own. Kumajirou tried to attack it, and protect the rest of them, but the creature was faster. No sooner had Kumajirou landed one good blow on that thing, than he was thrown across the room by giant claws. The little bear hit the far wall with a hard thud, streaking blood along the wall where he hit. That was where Kumajirou fell, never to rise again.


Italy busied himself with wrapping everyones wounds. The flag was slowly disappearing as he ripped strip by strip off of it. He just had one more person though. One more injury to heal. However... he didn’t notice what was so wrong until he’d torn off the last strip to make a splint for Russia’s arm... an arm which he still wasn’t sure would ever heal properly.

He froze as soon as he finished tying the fabric onto the broken flag sticks which made Russia’s splint. Jumping to his feet he looked around the room in a panic, “Wh-where’s Japan?!” Italy exclaimed scanning the room frantically.

“He said he was going to go take a look at this room while he could, since pretty soon it might be too dangerous,” Prussia told him.

Italy began to panic, “What?! No! But... It’s too dangerous now!”

“Italy, calm down,” Holy Rome assured him. Everyone around them had suddenly frozen, as if time had stopped. “Remember. This is just a dream,” Holy Rome put his hand on his shoulder.

“But it’s not! This... This is the same as the first time I came here,” Italy recalled. .... and that meant Japan was...

A flicker of relief, and hope, crossed Holy Rome’s face, ”so you can remember that much?”

“I... I have to get to the piano room! Quickly! Before he...”

“Italy.... Even if you left now it’s too late,” Holy Rome said sympathetically.

Italy’s panic returned full throttle, “Then... What am I supposed to do?!”

“There were certainly other times when Japan decided to go to the piano room. Can you remember how you stopped him then?” Holy Rome asked.

Italy’s mind raced to find the time... So many times. They hurt to think about so much... Just one. Right now. He just had to think of one... “Yes. I told him much earlier... that that was the most dangerous room... although I didn’t say why, he must have remembered. Because he stayed in this room with us that time,” Italy nodded slowly.

“And which time was that?” Holy Rome pushed. Just a little more. He was very close.

“I-It was.... the fifth time... Or at least two times after this one. And three after that one.... oh but it was before that one wasn’t it?... Or am I getting confused again?” Italy tried to concentrate, but everything was just so jumbled.

Holy Rome sighed, “It’s alright. You’ll be able to sort through it soon. Don’t push yourself. Just keep track of what is happening now.”

Italy nodded, so in the first time, Japan died in the piano room... but he could have prevented this if he’d known by telling Japan the room was dangerous beforehand. At that moment he noticed his journal begin to glow, “Eh?! Why is it doing that?!”

Holy Rome smiled, “It’s because you remembered something.”
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