Black Star, with Tsubaki in her chain scythe form in his grasp, and Free lay in hiding beneath a pair of cars among the abandoned traffic in the street as a frenzy of crows flew by overhead. The trio had just left the pharmacy to get to their second objective when they were forced into hiding.
“What do think happened?” Tsubaki whispered.
“I dunno,” Black Star answered, “Something’s ruffled their feathers though.”
Free looked out from under his hiding spot as a murder passed overhead. “Do you think the others got spotted?” He asked.
“I hope they’re okay.” Tsubaki said.
“C’mon, we’re talking about Maka and Soul,” Black Star began, “They’ll be fine.”
* * * *
Maka walked through the darkness, guided by unseens hands with Soul, now in his human form, right behind her. She heard the sound of metal hinges scraping against one another and a dim light fell over her. The man who had led them here entered the room beyond followed by Kleine and Thane, then Maka and Soul after.
The room beyond was built like a bunker with a low ceiling and no windows, crates and barrels lined the walls and filled a line of heavy shelves that ran down the middle of the long room. The lights were faulty from disuse and some didn’t work at all making the place feel more like the end of the world had come but for all they knew, it had.
“Welcome to our secret club house.” Their guide said as he turned to face them and Kleine recognized him immediately.
“Derek,” She said, “You’re alright.”
The man, Derek, nodded. “Yes, but just barely.” He looked to Thane. “I’m glad to see the two of you are fine as well.” His attention then went to Maka and Soul. “So who’re these two, then?”
Kleine stepped aside for Derek to see the pair clearly. “This is Maka and Soul, a meister and weapon from the DWMA. They’re friends of ours.” She turned to the academy meister and her partner. “This is Derek,” She introduced, “He pretty much ran the freelancer headquarters here in the city.”
Derek stepped forward, offering his hand to Maka. “It’s good to have you with us.” He said. “Every extra pair of hands is a welcome blessing.”
Maka reached out and took his hand. “We should be thanking you.” She said. “You really saved us out there.”
“I’m not the one you should be thanking.” Derek said, releasing her hand.
Maka heard the door closing behind them and turned, following Derek’s gaze over her shoulder. The woman from earlier entered the room with her minigun slung over her shoulder and a black fedora in her free hand.
The woman smirked at Maka as she slid the hat onto her head. “The name’s Chloe.” She said. “And this here is my partner.”
The gun began to shine and left her hand, falling to the ground and taking on a human form. With a flash the light a blond haired woman appeared dressed in a red blazer and a navy blue skirt with black tights.
“Clair.” She introduced, adjusting the pair of silver framed glasses on her nose. “Way to stir up every crow in the city.”
“Forgive her.” Chloe said, placing a hand on the other woman’s shoulder. “She doesn’t know the meaning of tact.”
“Nor you of restraint.” Clair shot back.
“These two,” Derek interrupted, “Are our only team that survived the attack on our headquarters aside from Kleine and Thane.”
The two women stopped their arguing to face Kleine and her partner. “We thought you guys were goners.” Chloe said. “We were certain you were statues by now.”
“We managed to escape right after the attack.” Kleine explained.
“We fled to Death City,” Thane continued, “But they didn’t fare much better than us.”
“I see.” Chloe looked to Maka and Soul. “I’m sorry.”
“Sympathies all around.” Clair said. “But any information you can share on our enemy would be better.”
Derek sighed. “We know next to nothing about this bird.” He said. “I don’t suppose you guys have anything, do you?”
A grin passed between Kleine and Maka. “As a matter of fact,” Kleine began.
“We do.” Maka finished.
* * * *
Mifune sat crouched beneath one of the windows as a murder of crows passed outside. Kid sat beside Liz not far off with his coat folded up under her head, acting as a pillow.
“I’m worried about the others.” Mifune said. “The crows are flocking toward the center of the city.”
“Something must have gone wrong.” Kid replied.
As the sounds of the crows faded Mifune slowly rose and peeked through the shutters. Stein entered the room as Mifune stood fully, confident it was safe out.
“The library is safe for now.” Stein said, “Whatever they’re after it isn’t us.”
Kid ground his teeth. “It’s frustrating knowing we can’t do anything.” He growled.
“I can sympathize.” Stein said. “I doubt there’s a person here who doesn’t wish they could be out there helping. But unfortunately we’re the weakest links this time around.”
“Even though I’m aware of the fact,” Mifune began, “It’s not exactly my favorite thing to admit.”
Eruka entered the room. “Hey!” She exclaimed, a book held to her chest. “I found something! A book on witches and there’s a chapter about Corneille.”
She went to the table as Stein, Kid and Mifune gathered around her. She flipped through the pages into the heart of the old tome until she came to a page bearing an illustration of a black crow with glowing red eyes. The text on the next page read “The Myth of the Crow Witch”.
“The ‘myth’?” Kid asked.
“Corneille was believed to have been killed centuries ago,” Eruka reminded him, “So long ago that her history became more like folklore.”
“Does it tell us anything more about her?” Stein asked. “How Lord Death and the witches killed her? Weaknesses? Anything.”
The witch flipped through a few more pages. “Nothing quite as detailed as that.” She said. “But it does tell us,” she stopped on a page, tapping a line of text with her finger, “Where she was entombed.”