There was a great lumbering creak, the sound of the Universe's heaviest door swinging open on the hinges of Reality. It was a sound that echoed in one's skull. There was the briefest of pauses before it resumed, sealing itself shut again. Punctuating its final movements was an almighty THWOOM, as it sealed the path from the Underworld to Earth. It easily trumped the volume of five simultaneous thunderbolts, but not a single mortal heard it. None, that is, but those already touched by Death or magically attuned. The sound would blast the ears of those special individuals suddenly and without warning.
It heralded the arrival of Lady Death, Grath Nevanda, and her daughter, Emilia Venezia. Nevanda donned her typical monochromatic attire and signature Soul Cloak. Emilia was fidgeting in her magically acquired Nishi-Ku Academy High School uniform, her own Soul Cloak rustling. Her mother spoke sternly, but was smiling. "Emilia, stop fidgeting."
"I don't like it," the young girl moaned. "The skirt is funny, and this shirt is uncomfortable, and I don't even like shoes. I want my boots." Without warning, Grath stripped away her daughter's Soul Cloak and tucked it away, inside her own to some magical pocket. "Mom! Why'd you do that!?" Emilia's expression was outrage mixed with anxiety. She was a little girl whose teddy had been stolen.
"You are going to go to school, here with mortals. That way you can come to understand them, so when it is your turn-"
"Mom, I don't want to!" shouted Emilia.
"Emilia," scolded her mother. "You are going to school. You will wear the uniform, and you will learn with the rest of them."
"No buts. I don't want you to turn out like me."
"But you're a great mom," declared Emilia honestly and with the faintest hint of confusion. What's so bad about mom? "And I still don't see why you took my Cloak."
Grath smiled brightly, an expression she had not learned until Emilia's first birthday. That is a story for another time, however. "Thank you very much, Emi, but I'm only great because I have you. Before you I was not a very good person. I want to make sure you stay a good person and grow up to be even better than me. As for the Cloak, I want to make sure you aren't tempted to leave early." The look that crossed her daughter's face made her smirk: caught before she could even consider escape an option.
Emilia smiled, then twisted her expression into uncertainty. "Fine, but you'd better not forget me!"
"Oh, I could never forget about you, Emi. I'm always thinking about my little girl." Ding dong Her expression quickly became one of a sedated urgency. "You run along now, or you'll be late to class on your very first day!" She knelt to hug her daughter, planted a kiss on the twelve-year old's forehead and sent her on her way. "Oh, wait!" Emilia halted and looked back to see her mother pulling a cute purple backpack from her Soul Cloak. It was adorned with a lone rainbow that ran alongside its primary zipper. Beneath that was a much smaller pocket which was stamped with a myriad of simply drawn ponies of all colors. "You'll need this, and there's a lunch in there too."
Emilia strapped it to her back with a quizzical look. "Why?" Neither of them had the need to eat.
"Because you may not have to eat, but we will get many suspicious stares if you never do. Remember, you're not just learning with the mortals, you're learning about the mortals. " They shared a smile before Emilia bolted for the school, waving over her shoulder.
Lady Death watched her daughter disappear into the school's front door before turning and passing through that monumental structure that indicated passage between realms. It thundered shut, loud enough to shatter all the windows of the school's front if only it were a purely physical object; as a semi-magical construct, its crash merely reverberated powerfully through the school, rattling in the ears of those attuned to its presence. Emilia barely registered it, so accustomed to its cacophony she was.
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