The political arena in Cephiro had not stopped to complicate things for the Prince. The central lands people and sky’s, those who lived on the floating islands in the sky around the world of Cephiro, were increasingly unsettled. Ferio's soothing words would only content them for a matter of days before restlessness crept back into the people’s hearts. The voices of the people grew startlingly louder as a strange darkness of power, a black whole of sorts, that had slyly slinked into the minds and hearts of Cephiro after Hikaru turned power over to the people.

Daily prayers for the world were ceasing thus in turn starting a metaphorical slippery slope. Cephiro, for all its grandeur, was falling back into crumbles eerily like Emerualde’s last weeks in reign had been. Although the world had yet to reach said level of destruction. The world was destroying itself internally.

If the situation troubled Prince Ferio than likewise it troubled the Summoner Ascot who had been chosen as the East’s Champion for succession to the pillar system. Most people were unaware of the road of the pillar.

At the current point of time with rumors of the Knights return those parties without champions had come to gather around the castle causing some alarm. Each faction was vying for the Knights, or at least one Knight, to take up their cause to succeed for Pillar. Since Hikaru had relinquished Cephiro over to the people she did not retain the poweress of a pillar nor would Emerualde if she returned again. The road of the pillar would have to be found and traveled for a new pillar to succeed.

The road had yet to appear.

A young boy rushed past the guards in the inner gate heading towards an observational room he had suspected of harboring the Knights. He, only ten years ago, had lived within the very walls of the castle as a refugee when the road of the pillar had appeared and the world had been crumbling. At the time he had been four, lost and alone. His parents had been victim to the people’s nightmares, the monsters. Since leaving the castle he had become a ragged thief having been recently hired to persuade one of the Knights to come with him. He had express orders by the West, a volcano region, to bring the fire knight back. He sighed and peered in dodging detection by the guards.

He had known it all along. He was sure those three girls receiving attention from the Prince, the Summoner, and the Mage were the legendary Knights. He shrugged silently thinking to himself. Why should he wait for her to be alone.

“Heck, I may’n get all of ‘em to join ‘er side.” He steadied himself and took off towards the girls. “Knights!” He was hoping a direct contact would force them to listen to him.

Ragyn stopped and stilled his movement for a moment. There was familiar presence on the property. The mind was of a powerful and slightly dangerous man to his cause. What did the man call himself? The Shadow?

He grinned and jumped down onto the balcony of Kuu's room opening the doors easily as if they had not been locked at all. The girl lay silently in her bed still awake. She was trying to fall asleep amidst worries for her younger sibling. How dear.

He leaned over her silently, stealthily. His breath on her check was the only indication that anyone else was in the room. She moved a hand to brushed his breath away as if to move a fly away. He gave out a chuckle. In a startling second her eyes flew open and went wide, he grinned, and then his hand shot out snatching her own from warding him off.

“Shhh… be a good girl for your sister. I’m going to take you to her.” He looked up towards the door. The shadowed man was approaching rapidly but not fast enough. Ragyn grabbed Kuu up into his arms cradling her to his chest. He couldn’t wait to see the man’s face when he entered the room. That thought was the only one holding him back as he jumped to the balcony’s railing.

“I’m in here…” Ragyn let out a bark of laughter as the door opened.


Slowly, ever so slowly, the door to Hououji Kuu's bedroom creaked open. There was no moon this night, but starlight streaming through the open doors behind Ragyn illuminated the newly opened doorway, like a focused beam of light amidst the sable. A figure that had once merged with the darkness of the hallway was half-revealed. Two glowing emerald eyes stared at Ragyn from beneath a broad hat.

The figure was silent and immobile.

For all of five seconds, which puzzled Ragyn ever so slightly.

Then a gust of wind from the open window swept into the room, and towards the doorway. The once rigid figure standing there collapsed into a puddle of cloth and fabric amidst the clang of fallen metal. Perplexed, Ragyn's eyes narrowed and he took a single step into the room to see the anomaly better.

Then he understood.

Supporting the hat and cloak and scarf had been a metal hat-hanging post, while two luminous pins had served as the glowing green eyes. In the darkness, the post with the black clothing on it truly resembled a living being.

Then where...?!

"And so I'm here." came a voice out of the darkness.

Ragyn realized the ruse as a long tantalizing laugh came from behind him on the balcony, only where he'd been standing moments ago. It was a whispered mocking laugh that though soft, seemed quite loud in the room. It should have gripped his heart with a vise of steel, yet Ragyn felt absolutely no fear. He whirled with Hououji in his hands and found himself facing two gleaming metal barrels, clutched by a pair of pale white hands, with the left possessing a glowing scarlet ring on one finger.

Like a wraith from beyond the grave, the Shadow spoke in a low eerie voice, with eyes that blazed an evil emerald. "It would be in both our best interests to release the woman, Ragyn."


Using a small screwdriver and a throwing knife, a pair of small, dexterous hands worked the lock on the front gate of the Hououji home. It released with a soft click and the dark figure to whom the hands belonged slunk back into the shadows to wait.


Emeraude let a soft sigh escape her lips. She had been in the car with Jubei for what seemed like forever, though, she knew it was probably a very short time. Her crystal sea-colored eyes laid themselves on the Hououji Manor. "Jubei, what is our business here?"

There was something going on, or so she felt. Something dark... "Do you think Lamont is all right?"


Arista's lavender eyes turned to the voice of the young man, who had just entered, announcing his presence with a yell. His attention seemed focused on three magical knights. She observed him with her piercing violet eyes, as if trying to see what laid inside his very sould, but said nothing.

The maiden glanced around her other companions and realized she was not the only one staring at this stranger. Arista watched in a silence not uncomfortable, waiting for what was next to happen.


Jubei glanced at the Princess through the rearview mirror. Her eyes were a bright blue, that very much like Kage-sama's, seemed to dig into his heart and soul. He held her inquiring gaze a little, spoke at last with a soft chuckle. "Princess, there's nothing Kage-sama can't handle, and if he can't, he'll find a way. Ne, I'm not too worried tonight."

A pause. "Well maybe I am a little, gomen." he confessed. "He's been around a long time and I don't know eveything there is to know about him... but I think this could be his first time his enemy ain't of our world." The taxi driver shrugged a bit nervously. "All we can do is wait and see."

A lone, dark figure stood outside the gates to the Hououji residence, her gaze lifted to the balcony where the two men were standing. One of them was the mysterious individual who had managed to reduce the Karasu, a man reputed to lack the capacity for emotion, to hysterics. 'So you must be The Shadow, then...' She studied the man carefully. He didn't look too intimidating, at least not from behind. Just a guy in a cape, really.

She suddenly had the odd feeling that she was being watched by some unseen spectator. Having spent the past few hours fixing her motorcycle by the meager light of the moon when it had decided to break down, she was unaware that anyone was out at this time of night other than herself and the people on the balcony. Looking around, her eyes fell on the spot where the taxi was parked, but could make nothing of the darkness that hid it so well. Anything could be hiding there.

The gate opened silently and the mysterious figure stepped into the moonlight, revealing herself to be Mackey Muchitsujo, former hitman for the very same yakuza fromerly led by Karasu. Not going to too much trouble to stay hidden, as she believed stealth to be a bit over-rated, she made her way across the yard to the house and wasted no time in picking the lock on one of the windows. Once inside, she paused to get her bearings. The young woman had never been inside such a large mansion, or even really seen one up close. The living room alone was bigger than her entire apartment. As an afterthought, she locked the window that she had just entered through before heading upstairs. Places like this usually had security of some sort and she had probably caused enough suspicion already by leaving the gate open.

Having reached the top floor, Mackey entered the only room from which one could still hear voices, noting and carefully stepping over the hatstand which lay on the floor. The Shadow seemed much more menacing up-close, his eyes like a cold dagger straight through her heart. The woman looked away and leaned on her sledgehammer, trying to maintain a casual air despite her sudden nervousness and concentrating instead on the other man in the room. What was he supposed to be, anyway?


Ragyn patted the girl who was now slung over his shouler. His arm was cupped over the inside of her knees keeping her steady on his shoulder just incase he needed to run. Although there was little running in his imagination.

"Both our interests?" Ragyn grinned using the new intruder to distract the Shadow. An innoccent bystander, perhaps, however a distraction none the less. When the new player on the board leaned against a sledgehammer, almost comical, Ragyn kicked it out from under them dodging to the left and around.

"I think she enjoys it right were she is. Right Kuu dear?" He laughed softly with an evil twinkle in his eyes. He stood still for a moment, waiting and watching the Shadow. He concentrated on the muscles. They told very plainly what was about to happen. A tense in the right arm would mean a strike out to the left. The twitch of adomenal muscles would mean a quick lunge forward and so forth. He had found this very interesting. In fact Lantis had used this unique martial arts way of detecting an enemy's move. He grinned. "Come now. Do you think I want to hurt her? I merely want to have tea and a nice long chat with her about her sister."

Kuu swung in his arms starting to wake up. "Oh..." The soft voice had suddenly, and with startling revelations, come to realize she was being held over someone's shoulder. "Dear..."

Chad looked around at everyone. "Yeah…I have a brother. He came here with me, and last I checked, he was roaming the castle. I don't know how much luck he's had, but I'm sure it's better than what I've been having." He said looking towards Umi again. "By the way, I'm sorry for this inconvenience, but...I think I would probably like to know what exactly is going on, if any of you do not mind." He didn't mean to sound rude, but this day had been quite strange, and it was obviously important that he found out what in blazes was going on at last. "To everyone I have not met, I am Chad. And to everyone that I've caused trouble to, I'm sorry, once again."

Elsewhere, Skyhawk carried the unconscious Quatre to the castle at last. He showed the guards the injured pilot and made his way into the castle finally. He glanced in Caldina's direction. "Perhaps it would be best if we had some medical attention for this young man, eh?" He said calmly. Even with the pressure of a new place surrounding him, and with the secrets that have yet to be told of this land, he still remained calm and collected. It's as if he had total control over every emotion. Thus, the training of Black Lotus definitely paid off!

Onboard the Black Lotus craft, the Admiral walked into the main chamber and smiled. "At last, Shadow. We have you at last." He watched the screen of a location that pointed out readings similar to the Shadow's. But...There had been two other figures…No…Three as well. The Admiral shook his head lightly. "I think it would be best if I sent one of my finer troops to this location, we could eliminate our ultimate threat! The only threat next to you is that dreadful Jamar. You both will be destroyed, Shadow!! Do you hear me?! You both will be destroyed!!" The Admiral screamed knocking over a cup of coffee he had had ready for himself earlier. The table was now set. The Shadow had been located, and it was time for Black Lotus to make their move. Who could have known what lurked in the hearts of the near-insane Admiral? The Shadow, from first hand experience...Definitely knew...