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Disclaimer: This story is a work of fanfiction. Both Highschool DxD, and the Crow series, belong to their respective creators. Any and all relation to real-life characters or places are mere coincidences.

It is an old story, long ago...

At a point in time, it was believed that the crow would guide the souls of the dead to the afterlife...

But, sometimes, just sometimes, when a horrible fate befalls them or their loved ones, they become restless and cannot move on...

And thus, the crow brings their souls back from the brink...

...to make the wrong things right.

"At the 18th year, tragedy shall fall upon the beast bearing the red scales,

And rob him of that which makes him a man.

At the 19th year, the crow shall fall upon the ashen grave,

And the red dragon shall raise from the hollowed ground,

To right the wrongs of those who have sinned."

The Crow: DxD

When he was seven years old, he met an old man at the park. He and several other children were sheep listening to the farmer, absorbing his strange tells of womanly wonders and pleasures that they didn't understand at first. He spoke of their wonderful chests, their bountiful rears, their luscious lips, their curvaceous legs, their slender forms... the old man spoke of anything that would paint an enticing, and throbbing image, of a woman into the minds of children. The old man was arrested not long after, but the damage was done. Ten children were corrupted by the words of an old, perverted man.

When he was ten, his parents saw the signs. Him staring at girls, mostly at their rear ends or their bust, and hanging out at odd, strange places during break and after school with a few other boys, peeking inside windows or staring intently, and closely, at the walls. It had not taken them long to figure out what was happening, and they grew horrified. Their baby boy, no older than ten, was becoming a pervert, watching girls strip their clothes and fall into the nude. They tried everything, ranging from therapy to over exposure, but nothing worked.

At the age of twelve, he was labelled a pervert, and an outcast. The girls looked at him with scathing glares, and many boys wanted nothing to do with him. His only friends at those periods were Irina Shidou, a foreigner who was bullied, and the magazines his childhood friends Motohama and Matsuda bought him. The glares unnerved him, and his lack of a social circle, excluding the three friends he had, had left an impact on him. Irina had left him three years prior, due to her father receiving a new job to complete.

When he was fourteen, and in his last year of middle school, he met a wonderful girl. She was... like a godsend, as if answering his prayers. Her long, silver hair brought the attention of many, and her soft violet eyes left him staring at them for hours. At first, he kept his distance. She was... a goddess of sorts. Men surrounded her almost daily, and many girls swarmed around her, wishing to learn more about her, and to form bonds with her. He wanted to walk up to her and talk to her, and perhaps also get a good look at her *ahem* finer parts, but strangely, his heart smacked rapidly against his chest, his throat dry, and found himself hesitating. For half a year, he simply stood off to the side, watching her... gazing at her beauty.

When he was sixteen, he learned that she had been waiting for him. She knew of him, of course. She knew what sort of person he was, someone who had an unhealthy fascination with the female body, but she did not care for it. She was the first to look past such perversity, and chose to befriend him. He had never felt so happy, so elated, so... wonderful... in all of his life. The men around him glared with hatred and envy, the girls were hostile, but he didn't care. Finally, finally! He had managed to get close to the girl he admired for two years, the girl he longed for!

When he was seventeen, in his third year, he felt his feelings soar for her. They had been friends, but the signs were certainly clear. Even though both boys and girls warned her not to become close to him, she did not heed their warning, and still continued to hang out with him. However, not everyone was simply just going to be happy. One day, a group of boys had assaulted him behind the school, beating him profusely. They warned him not to get any closer to her, and then continued to pummel him. By chance, a teacher passed by, and saw the incident. The boys were suspended, and he was left with a few broken bones. He was in the hospital for a month, and in those thirty days, she visited him without fail. Finally, his heart finally came undone.

Finally, at the age of eighteen, on the day of graduation, there he stood in front of her, in front of the school. People went past them, but some stuck around, seeing the look on his face. Even his friends stayed by to see what was happening. He remembered how nervous he felt, how his heart continued to hammer at his chest, how dry his throat had become in a matter of seconds, how sweaty his palms came to be, and how heavy his pocket felt. Still, he couldn't turn back. So, he spoke with her. He spoke of how when he first say her four years ago, how beautiful and god-like she was, yet unable to touch her, unable to take hold of that beauty. And then came the day she approached him, asking him if he wanted to be her friend. He told her how happy he was back then, how someone had not judged him, how they had not scorned or insulted him for his perversity.

Finally, with a steeled resolve, he stood on one knee, with a small box in his hands. Everyone grew wide-eyed, and she became breathless as he opened the lid, revealing a beautiful, silver ring, bearing a garnet gem in the center.

And finally, after four years, Issei Hyoudou asked, on the day of graduation,

"Will you marry me?"

And the girl smiled, with tears in her eyes, as she took the ring from the box. The voice of Mira Heathcliff was angelic to him as she said, with the same gentleness and loving tone she always spoke with,

"...yes."

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Part I: Bloody Christmas

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'Cold...'

That was the first thing on Issei's mind as he clung to his brown jacket, an umbrella in his hands. The white ground beneath him crunched underneath the weight of his boots, and small flecks of snow fell from the gray sky, building up the white carpet. All around him, people came and went, smiles and cheers on their faces as they went with loved ones and families. The streets were lined with Christmas decorations, being only a few days away from the famed Holiday itself. He smiled at the sights around him, taking a deep breath and relishing the scent of pine cones.

It had been ten months since he had been married, and he could honestly say that he enjoyed his life. Mira was like the perfect wife, supportive and gentle and kind... ah, he always knew she was like an angel. It should have been a crime to be such a wonderful woman! Even still, he couldn't exactly let her do everything, so he took on the household chores and little jobs, wanting her to be as comfortable as possible. She did a raise few concerns at first, especially when she saw how horrible a cook he was before she giggled and decided to teach him herself. In just a few weeks, he could make a simple pot of stew without burning his hands. He was still just fresh out of high school, and was considering his future.

He had an average score like most people, but he had a few options. For now, he simply worked small odds and ends. He had a few part-time jobs, such as a small auto-shop near the edge of town, running errands and working on a few cars, and worked as a delivery boy for a Newspaper company not too far from where they lived. The pay was good, so they wouldn't have to worry about living expenses. Still, that didn't mean he hadn't thought about college. In truth, he was still trying to figure out where he would go from here.

Well, for the time being, he would continue doing what he did best, make Mira the happiest woman on the face of the planet. After all, wasn't that the husband's job?

He stopped for a moment when he recalled his lover, and looked at the large clock that hung from a street lamp. His eyes widened in horror.

"Oh, crap!"

Without another second wasted, Issei sprinted through the streets, apologizing for anyone he bumped into. He had to make it home before 8, otherwise he wouldn't have enough time to make dinner! It wasn't a fancy feast, or anything, it was just going to be a normal night, albeit with roasted beef and pork, with salad and appetizers off to the side. One of these days, when he made enough cash from his jobs, he might be able to get the stuff needed to make Mira's favorite dish. Just thinking about already brought a bright smile to his face.

It was an amazing change, really. Just by falling for one girl, his perversity had all but disappeared, and his dream of becoming a "Harem King," as embarrassing as it was to admit now, had become nothing but a thought in the wind. He could still recall how his friends, Motohama and Matsuda, reacted to when they heard the news... or rather, when they witnessed him proposing to her, in front of so many people, and on their last day as students no less!

"W-why that sly son of a...!"

"T-that's not fair, man! Th-this is against the bro code dammit!"

To this day, the proposal was still the stuff of legends, and if what he was hearing was any indication, it had even become apart of the school's "Seven Wonders." The story of a pervert, so far beyond help and so fascinated by a woman's boobs, entranced by the ephemeral beauty of a foreign country, and so taken with her that his world was focused all around her. He never approached, but the beauty had taken his hand only two years later. Even though his body was beaten and broken by other admirers, his love for her only grew stronger. And finally, whatever perversity he held was wiped away the day he presented his goddess with a beautiful ring.

Issei cringed slightly, remembering how light his wallet felt when he walked out of that shop the day before graduation. He was making a guess on her ring size, going by how the felt whenever they greeted each other, shaking hands or holding them when required. The price of the ring was enough to make any normal student's eyes pop out, and one couldn't help but wonder how in the holy hell he managed to pay for it.

The answer was simple: his college funds.

At first, his parents were shocked that he was taking money meant for his life after high school, and were originally under the assumption that he was going to use it to by dirty magazines and DVD's... but then he flat out told them he was buying a wedding ring. In response, their jaws dropped, eyes bulging. They were left speechless, even as he walked out the door. Of course, even with college funds, he still needed extra money, so during his last year in high school, he took several part time jobs, saving up the money needed to buy the ring in it's totality.

'It was so worth it.' the 18-year-old teen thought with a face-splitting smile as he rounded the corner, the house Mira lived in being in plain view. As it turned out, Mira had been living by herself, having left her home country for a better education, and being the perfect honor student, she had more than enough brains getting into Kuoh Academy. Her parents sent her money in order for her to survive until she graduated, and in addition to that, she worked part-time jobs to make ends meat. Of course, then she met Issei, and troubles concerning money were all but a thing of the past now.

Still, they had agreed that the house was a bit too small, and decided that they would buy a new one when they saved up enough. It would be a two-story house with three bedrooms, one for them, one for any guests they received, and another for any possible child they would have. Mira had said that, if everything had truly worked out, and that when he was ready for it, they would try for a child. The mere thought of being a father, of looking after a child, scared him a bit... yet when he pictured the scene, the little bundle of joy in his arms with Mira, in his mind, he couldn't help but feel excited.

Of course, that was thinking too far, and too fast, ahead. For now, they would-

"...what the?"

Issei stopped mid-job, frowning. The door was slight ajar, a crack of pale light flowing through the small crack. 'I know I locked it before I left,' he thought in confusion. 'And Mira double checks every day... so why is the door open? Do we have guests?' A brief chuckle escaped him. 'Probably Motohama or Matsuda... but still, they know we keep the door closed.'

He pulled the door back, and stepped inside.

"Mira?"

He called out to her, his voice echoing in the silence. He put the bag of groceries on the ground, and slipped off his shoes. He poked his head around the front entrance. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Everything was right where they left it... except perhaps the lamp that was lying on the floor, but he had grown used to seeing it there. They owned a cat named Lica, a little fuzzball that liked to blitz around the house as if hyped on caffeine. He was constantly banging into things on a regular basis, and it was no surprise to see if some of their possessions, such as photographs, lamps, or jars were knocked to the ground.

However, it was the living room in the adjacent side that caused him to freeze on the spot. Furniture was knocked over the place, glass was scattered all across the floor, the walls had holes and slash marks... and blood was pooled all over the carpet.

"...Oh no. Oh, god, please no!"

He dashed inside the house, searching room after room after room. The first floor was a mess, everything tossed and shattered as if a burglar had jumped inside. Blood splatters were all over the walls, some even in the shape of footprints and hands. Once again, he screamed out for Mira's name, but silence still greeted him. His heart pounded against his chest rapidly, the ringing loud in his ears. Adrenaline was pumping fast and hard into his veins as he ran up the stairs leading to the second floor, looking for his wife.

"Mira?! Mira!"

He threw the door leading to the bedroom open. He stopped, and his eyes widened in horror.

On the ground was Mira, her hair disheveled, her white dress stained bloody red, and a red puddle forming underneath her stomach. Her arms and legs were sprawled across the floor, and her mouth agape, eyes heavy. Those beautiful eyes, so vibrant with life, now looked so distant and faraway, even as she found him with those eyes.

"I...ss...ei..."

"Mira!"

He dashed inside the room-

Bang!

A loud sound snapped into the air, and Issei screamed in pain, his body falling to the floor, face first. His left leg was screaming out in pain, directly at the shin, where a bloody hole had formed in his pants. The teen growled in agony, grabbing his leg in pain as he looked to see the one who shot him. Sitting on the bed was a man with messy black hair and dark blue eyes, his face obviously not Asian. He was foreign, like Mira, possibly American, dressed in a pinstripe red and black shirt with a formal dress jacket and slacks, a rose in his breast pocket. He had heavy dark facial hair at his chin, curved into a pointy beard. In his hand was a silver handgun, the barrel smoking at the tip.

"Konichiwa, boyo."

The man's accent was heavy and thick, and his Japanese was off. He held a sickening grin as he stood up from the bed, walking slowly over to him.

"I must say, you're quite a lucky man to score yourself such a wonderful woman... a shame the both of you are going to die."

"W-why..."

The man chuckled as he pulled Issei up by the hair, causing him to grit his teeth in pain. He whispered in his ear, his breath bearing the smell of cigarettes and vodka.

"Simple... because we can."

"Oi, boss!"

Two people entered the room. One was a woman with black hair that reached her shoulders, wearing what could only be described as a S&M outfit with a whip in her hand, and the other was a tall, burly figure with the stature of a football player, much taller than the average adult, wearing a tight black muscle shirt and skinny jeans, finger gloves on his hands. He was bald, like Matsuda, but he had a large scar across his lips.

Issei glared at the man with rage, while the newcomer grinned back in return.

"Y-you!"

"Hey hey... long time no see, perv."

The man walked over to Issei, who was still being held by the Spanish man. With a swift kick, his boots collided with his jaw, creating a loud crack in the air. Issei's body flung forward, his body smacking against the floor. He cried out in pain, feeling the lower part of his mouth in absolute agony. The woman giggled in her hand, seemingly enjoying the sight while the Spanish sighed, shaking his head.

"Was that necessary, Big Carl?"

The man, Big Carl, shrugged, a smirk plastered all over his face.

"Hey, I figured I might as well get one last kick in."

The Spanish chuckled at this before turning to the girl.

"Go get Tsukase... I need him to grab the stakes."

The woman nodded, and went out the door, descending down the stairs. Issei glared at the remaining two men, hopeless and feeble. Dammit, why... why had this happened?! What had they done wrong to deserve this?! They did nothing! Nothing! It was supposed to be a happy day... them, laughing and cheering around the fire, watching cheesy movies and cartoons, eating dinner and spending time like any married couple would have...

So... why...

"Why... Why are you doing this?!"

The Spanish man chuckled a bit as he walked over to the fallen boy, looking over at Mira for a moment. She was still bleeding out, her breathing weak. It was clear she wouldn't survive this. And yet... that thought made him smile like the devil itself.

"It's pretty easy kid."

He began to explain to the boy.

"You see, there are two kinds of people in this world... There are robbers, and there are the robbed. The strong, and the weak. The thieves, and the stolen. The strong do what they want, and the weak shut up and listen. In other words... we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. and however we want. So, basically, boyo..."

He grinned as he tapped his face.

"We can kill you and your girl... because we can. It is our god-given right to kill you and your girl."

Issei growled, trying to stand up. He wanted to take the man by the throat and strangle him. he wanted to grab a knife and shove in his chest. He wanted to take a gun and stuff it in his mouth before pulling the trigger. He wanted to beat his face into the ground. He wanted to make him pay for this!

He wanted to kill him!

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"On December 24th, 2014, a murder had taken place in the home of a newly wed couple. The victims were identified as Issei Hyoudou and Mira Heathcliff Hyoudou, who married shortly after graduating Kuoh Academy. The two were found dead in their home, pinned to a wall. According to the reports, the male victim was posed in a similar fashion to Jesus Christ, and his wife stuck to him, having been impaled through the stomach, and onto his chest. The perpetrators were believed to be have been members of a mafia gang known as the Sopranos, who have been terrorizing the city. They are currently wanted for several other crimes, many of which had called in several officers to the case."

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Part II: A Dragon Reborn

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The Undertaker was an old man as any would have come to suspect. His hair, which used to be messy, dark brown had become a pale color, and his face was old, worn, and aged well. Wrinkles rested on his brow, his cheeks sunken back, and dark rings were held underneath his eyes. They were weary, pale and hazel, and though he appeared old and feeble, it was his height that terrified most people. He stood at a sharp '6, 4" ft, dressed in an old and stained buttoned shirt with a leather vest draped on his thin frame, and black pants hung on his hips, kept in place by a thick, black belt. A heavy beard adorned his face, covering the vast majority of his jaw with a thin mustache on his upper lip, connecting to his proud facial hair. Like any Undertaker, he carried a shovel on his shoulder, the metal stained with muddy dirt. On his feet were mud-splattered, ratty old boots that clung to his shriveled feet.

He sighed heavily as he looked up, tipping his hat as the sky grumbled and moaned, cloaked in a cold gray color, flashes threatening to bring down it's fury down upon them. It's sadness had already made itself clear as rain drizzled down. He really hated days like this. He didn't mind the rain, mind you, it was actually very soothing for him. It was the thunder he had problems with. All of that booming and cracking scared the crap out of everyone in town, especially the animals, so it was enough to cause some problems, mostly him. He never liked thunder in the first place, not even since when he was a child. Still, working as an Undertaker here, it brought some form of comfort, or peace to him. While most kids think of a graveyard as someplace scary, he liked to think of it as... a place of remembrance of the dead. Every day, on every night, he would stroll around the lines of tombstones, inspecting them and cleaning them, and if he was able to swing it, make offerings. The dead deserved peace, after all of the shit they had been forced to go through.

The Undertaker stopped when he reached the pair of tombstones on the middle. Both were fairly new, clean and fresh as the morning air, their stones still in their precious white color of purity. He smiled softly as he crouched down on his knee, a hand touching the graves.

Here Lies Issei Hyoudou and Mira Heathcliff Hyoudou

A Loving Couple

A Pair of Star-crossed Lovers

And Wonderful Friends

They Shall Be Missed

It was a tragedy, these two... He heard the news from the parents and friends who came to the funeral service that was held here a year ago. The boy was a pervert, but after meeting a wonderful girl, all of a sudden, he was like a new man, one who could be best described as a male housewife. They were eighteen and seventeen years old respectively, and had been married for only ten months.

Ten months they had been together, having made their vows to never leave each other, only to meet their end in a grizzly way... It was heart-breaking, when he thought about it.

"May you forever find peace, and live a life better than this one..."

He made his prayers silently, his hand clutching the cross that hung around his neck as he stood back up, wiping away the soiled specs of mud from his pants before he walked away. He stopped briefly when he heard the flapping of wings, followed by a familiar 'caw.' Turning, he saw a black crow sitting atop the boy's grave, as if watching over it with piqued curiosity or great interest. It cawed again, flapping it's wings before it started to tap it's beak against the stone. The Undertaker raised a brow.

"And what are you? The night watchman?"

In response to his remark, the crow cawed at him, as if miffed. The Undertaker shrugged his shoulders, and walked away. Unbeknownst to him, the crow began to tap it's beak again at the tombstone.

It was subtle, almost impossible to notice, but the signs were there. For a brief moment, the ground in front of the headstone shifted, as if something below was pushing it's way upward.

Then, a pale hand slammed upward, fingers outstretched, as if reaching out for the light.

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Motohama had taken a career that no one, other than Matsuda, had ever expected. He became a police officer. In the span of a year, and only a month after the murder of his best friend and his wife, he had reached the rank of detective, and the moment he received his own desk and rank, he went to archives and worked on an old case file. Case B2-0193: the Hyoudou murder.

It was something personal for him. His best friend, and his wife, were both killed brutally, and at the hands of the local mob. Needless to say, he wouldn't stop until he found the ones responsible. the problem was that the mob, the Soprano mob, was a dangerous group to deal with in several ways. It would be next to impossible to try and arrest them and put them behind bars... but it was possible indeed. He just needed to find a way to reach them.

Presently, he was working at his desk, looking over a few case files his boss had handed to him. His messy brown hair had grown longer, reaching to his shoulders with a curly design to it, and his glasses sat on his nose like always. Being a detective, he was dressed in a black suit with a white dress shirt and a yellow tie, his trench coat hanging on his chair. He had grown taller as well, and his physique slightly better than average, having been training in the police academy to join the force. His physique had become well-hardened, though nowhere near Matsuda, who had also joined the police force. Strangely, despite being one dangerous guy on the job himself, the bald man took on the job of a coroner, looking for signs of causes of death.

Well, least he had help when doing the tox screen. He can find normal causes of death, but poison wasn't exactly his forte.

"See you tomorrow, Moto-kun!"

"Yeah, you too!"

He greeted to his co-workers, two females in uniform. As they passed by on their way to the door, his face became oddly serious, and his glasses glared as he adjusted them, leaning forward slightly.

'...33, 42, 34.' A slight grin came to his face. 'Hehehe~ Do I got the best job, or what?' A sigh escaped him later. 'Man, Issei... I wish you were here. It would be a lot more fun trying to pick up co-workers with you here! And they're all total hotties!'

"Motohama!"

Suddenly, the glasses-wearing man snapped out of his perverted thoughts, and shot out of his chair, standing up straighter at the sound of the voice of authority. In front of him was a middle-aged man with dark skin and black facial hair that covered the entirety of his lower jaw and upper lip, the sideburns connecting to what little black hair was placed atop his dome. He was wearing a sharp gray suit with a dress shirt underneath, complete with a dark blue tie. His face was staunch, gaunt, and stern with an iron-clad grip. Anyone would recognize this man as the Chief: Luis Fulcrum, a foreigner with a long rep sheet that went on for hours. You wouldn't find a more hardcore man in the Japanese Interpol.

"Sir!"

He saluted his superior officer, as was expected of him, and the chief saluted him back.

"Nice work tonight, Motohama. I've been hearing a couple of things about you, and I gotta say, I'm impressed so far."

His eyes scanned the boy's desk.

"Seems like you're one of the few guys who aren't afraid to tackle the Sopranos since they started getting antsy."

"...It's something of a personal matter for me, sir."

"I understand that. But, listen to me, kid, sometimes an obsession will lead you down one hell of a road, and at the end, you're gonna find yourself in three places: a ditch, a jail cell, or at the top of the office, and more often than not, it's the first two. Do you realize that there are only a few cops here, in this office, that actually want to deal with the mafia?"

Oh, he knew. Out of the hundreds of officers in the entire police department, Motohama and Matsuda were two out of a mere ten that wanted the Soprano Mafia out of the streets, and put behind bars where they belonged. That didn't discourage them in the least, not one bit.

"I'm well-aware, sir."

Luis Fulcrum sighed, massaging his temples, but smiled slightly as he clasped the boy's shoulders.

"I swear, you kids today... Then again, I always heard you Japs were shit-lot more tougher than the boys back home. I'm looking forward to hearing more about you."

The glasses-wearing boy nodded, and the two saluted each other once again. Once his superior left the building, Motohama sighed heavily as he fell back into his chair, his head aimed up at the ceiling.

"...This is gonna take several years of my life span, I know it... but it's gonna be worth it in the long run."

He ran his fingers through his scalp, slipping off his glasses for a moment before he fixed himself back onto his chair, going back to his case files. As he picked up his pen, a loud boom echoed from beyond the window. He looked out, seeing flashes of light snap out from the clouds. A wry smile came to his face.

"Sounds like a nasty one..."

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"C-cold... S-so... c-c-cold..."

My body was cold and rigid. It felt as if someone had just tossed me inside of a cold, deep tub of water. Every part of me, from the skin to the muscles and down to the bones, it felt so cold... I felt like I just turned into an icicle. I couldn't breathe, my throat felt constricted. Everything around me was pitch black. God, wh-why was it so cramped in here?! Why is it so dark? Wh-where am I?!

"H-help..." I croaked out. My throat... fuck, it was hurting like a bitch! "A-anyone...?"

I pushed my hand against the darkness. I felt wood placed against my palms. W-where was I? W-why am I here? "H-hello...?!" I tried to scream, but my voice was so hoarse it was like a whisper. "H-help...!" I tried to bang against it, but it wouldn't budge. I pressed my hands further, my arms slightly weak. Slowly, my strength was returning at a near agonizing pace. I could hear something creaking, and small specks landed on my face. I wasn't sure what they were, but I knew I needed to get out of here. It was so stuffy in here, and I could hardly breathe. I could tell I was starting to become claustrophobic. "L-let me out...!" I managed to find some strength to scream, but my throat burned.

"LET ME OUT!"

I slammed whatever was keeping me imprisoned off, and in response, a pile of black fell atop me, covering my body and nearly flowing in my mouth. I thrashed around and tried to push myself out of the mound of dirt that had fallen atop of me, slowly pushing my way out of the pile of earth. Finally, my hands pushed out, feeling several droplets of water fall atop the palms. I tried to grasp whatever solid foothold was there, and pulled myself out.

I gasped heavily, my lungs hurting from expanding so wide as I gulped down massive amounts of air, clawing and pulling myself out from whatever the hell I was in. Numerous booms blast into the air as I laid flat on my back, panting and sweating and shivering as my body shook. I felt rain pouring down on my body, whatever clothes I wore soaking me to the bone, and the disgusting mud caking below my back. The sky above me was a dark and angry gray, thunder flashing by and disappearing just as quickly as it snapped into existence. I wasn't sure where I was, hell I could barely remember anything.

I-I don't understand... what's going on? Where am I?

Wh-who... am I?

"Caw! Caw!"

The calling of a bird caused me to look up, seeing a black, winged creature placed atop a headstone. It didn't appear to mind the rain at all, simply staring at me and tilting it's head, as if questioning what I was doing.

However, that wasn't what had startled me about it. I didn't hear a 'caw,' per say... It was more like a voice.

"Just what in the world are you doing, boy?"

It was an elderly voice, aged and female in tone.

"You don't have time to be lounging about all day, out here in a cemetery in the cold!"

I stared, dumbfounded. W-was this crow... actually talking?! And... wait... cemetery...?

I looked around, noticing rows of gravestones and black fences lining all around us. Trees that had lost their leaves stood watch all around us, their branches all twisted and mangled. I looked back to where I was trapped, seeing, to much shock, a coffin thrown open with the lid halfway across the graveyard, and an empty casket caked with dirt. I looked at the headstone that marked the owner-me.

Issei Hyoudou

T-that's my name, isn't it? Issei... Yes, that's my name. I know it is. It's familiar, it feels natural to me. S-so... why...?

Why was I in a grave?! Why am I in a graveyard?! W-why was I buried?!

W-why... can't I remember anything?!

"Calm down, child."

The crow 'cawed' at me with a scolding tone, as if finding my behavior to be unfitting. Who the hell did it think it was?! I don't know... I don't know what the hell was happening to me! I just woke up in a goddamn fucking ditch! I think I have a right to act this way!

W-wait... what grave is it sitting on?

The crow glided away, landing on another headstone for it to rest on. I moved on all fours, my arms and legs barely able to carry me. I looked at the headstone, my fingers tracing along the name.

Mira Heathcliff Hyoudou

"Mi...ra..."

Tears ran down my face, a great sadness taking hold of my heart. T-that name... I-I know it! I know it from somewhere! M-Mira, this girl! She-she is... she is my...

She was... my wife...

I love you, Issei!

I growled in pain, clutching my head and falling into the fetal position. Pain erupted inside my skull, running around rampantly as if gone wild and leaving me to suffer in agony. Images screamed across my eyes, showing brutal scenes, men beating me profusely, telling me to stay away from someone. I saw myself getting shot in the leg, a bleeding Mira collapsed on the floor, her lively face weak and on the verge of death. I-I remember seeing men walking into the room...!

No...!

No no no!

NO! NO!

"NO!"

I screamed to the high heavens as he slammed my fists against my wife's grave. I screamed and I screamed as the tears continued to flow down my face. Anguish and anger gripped at my heart. Why?! Why did this happen?! What did we do to deserve this?! Why had those people come to our house?! What had we done wrong?! That was it, we had done nothing! We were nearly married for a year! We were living happily! The neighbors adored us! My parents loved us! So why dammit?! Why we were killed?! Why is Mira in this damned fucking shithole?!

And why... why am I the one here... and not... not her...?!

"Mira...!"

I sobbed, my anger fading away to open the doors to greater sadness and grief. This was unfair... it shouldn't be me here, weeping on her grave. It should be Mira here. I don't give a damn about me... all I cared was making Mira the happiest woman in the world.

"M-Mira..."

My head rested against her headstone, the water drizzling from my face down to her grave, slowly descending. All I could hear was the sound of booming thunder, and the fall of the rain.

And the wails of my own grief.

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When the Undertaker resumed his rounds in the nighttime, the storm having lessened considerably, he found a peculiar sight in front of him.

One of the graves had been unearthed, the casket open with dirt having filled in the vacant space, the corpse nowhere to be seen, and the lid lodged into the muddy ground halfway across from it, and a boy in front of the adjacdent grave. He looked fairly young, perhaps barely out of his teenage years, his hair disheveled and colored black, like the feathers of the crow that was nearby, watching him silently. His clothes, a black dress jacket with a white shirt underneath, complimented by his slacks, were soaked and clung to his skin. His red eyes, like the color of beautiful rubies, were vacant with sadness and grief and tears running down his face. His hands gripped the edges of the headstone.

"Boy... are you alright?"

He tried to call out to him, but his words did not elicit a response. Frowning, the Undertaker looked at the grave that had been opened, and then at the headstone. His eyes widened slightly when he read the name, having seen it only a few hours ago, and then turned back to the boy. The crow cawed, fluttering it's wings as it landed on his headstone, peering at him with curiosity, and letting out another cry.

"...Boy."

This time, he walked up, and gently held his shoulder, nudging him slightly. The boy's shudderings ceased as he turned to face him, his face pale, and the rain flowing down his face, accompanied by his tears.

The Undertaker was looking at the face of Issei Hyoudou, who had been dead for a year. Despite that, he smiled softly.

"You look cold... Why don't come on back to my humble house? There's a fire lit, and a change of clothes."

The boy was silent, but he nodded quietly. The Undertaker offered him his hand, which he took, and was pulled up to his feet. The old man draped his arm around the boy was he shivered, clutching his arms. From behind them, the crow cawed, and flew upward. The only thing left to remind those of it's presence... was the single black feather that laid on the ground.

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episode 1: from death unmade, to a vengeance born

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Next Time:

"They're all going to die... Every. Last. One of them."

"It's an old story, made from an old Native American tribe... In the old days, it was thought that the crow could deliver the souls of the dead to the afterlife... but every now and then, when tragedy and despair fall upon them, they find themselves unable to let go..."

"Tsukase, sometimes lady luck... is a bitch."

"And so the crow brings them back to the world of the living... in order to make the wrong things right again."

"Victims... Aren't we all?"

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episode 2: the crimson crow

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