Ragyn’s eyes softened, saddened yet he held a firm focus on the Shadow before him. “I am not deaf to her plea and I assure you I will listen in due time but for now call it retribution for those who did not hear our plea, the plea of my people, my family… off-worlder.” A sense of a great force was building behind the outer layer of Ragyn’s shields. Unbeknownst to all but apparently the Shadow, which would probably feel the psychic power, for unlike last time, he would not use magic in this assault. ‘A battle of wills?’ Ragyn collected his bearings for a moment and gave a tentative thrust of his power to the unsuspecting Skyhawk who stood before him, defiantly.

He would deal with the other child at his neck shortly but at the current point he would deal with those who offered him the chance to humiliate them in their anger. Skyhawk, he mused, had limited abilities and if he drained them for the time being he would be able to seal, if not completely but for a short time, him in Cephiro which would keep him at bay for the time being. A smile forced its way past the saddened eyes and the thoughts of the lost, the past. “Hurry…” Perhaps Skyhawk was right. He would hurry and as the proverb said kill two birds with one stone. Both Skyhawk and the unfortunate Mackey, who did not know what a big fish or rather shark she had landed with her little dagger, would be imprisoned for a time on the warring Cephiro.

With the force of his mind Ragyn picked up Skyhawk and threw him back behind him right by Mackey’s legs. That left the Shadow before him, which he would deal with in his own time, and the two hapless beings behind him. Ragyn had hoped to toy with the group longer but there was too much to get accomplished which in turn left him with little time to fool around. Mackey found herself frozen for a moment, as time seemed to have suspended itself. There was a sensation that something dark and dangerous was building. A cloud of uncertainty and a great sadness overwhelmed those above the train and the passengers thereof as Ragyn unleashed his mental poweress. The train’s hood ripped up under Mackey’s feet and sent her flying backwards into Skyhawk, who at the moment was rushing to his feet. The train’s roof groaned and shuddered while splitting in twine as his power traveled quickly to meet Mackey and Skyhawk. His portal already opened wide and black a little behind them. They would be sent quickly and surely to Cephiro.

“Your childish antics do not please me…” As the power slammed into Mackey and Skyhawk he pulled on an invisible string. Strings, if one saw them as that, connected every living thing. Each world and Universe was like a clockwork mechanism connected together by strings. When you toyed with one string another would react unless the string was cut. Ragyn merely pulled on Skyhawk’s string a little, pulling Skyhawk’s energy into himself and using that to strengthen his shields against the outside world. “So long…” He released the connection between himself and Skyhawk and watched in a now whimsical mood as both he and Mackey disappeared into the murky darkness of the Cephirean portal.

The weight on one shoulder held him down a little. “Don’t worry Kuu,” he assured her mildly aware of her distress, “You’ll feel nothing soon.” His eyes roamed over the Shadow’s before his hostage vanished into the night sky herself. Her whereabouts a little more darkened and unloving than where he had just sent the other two. “Laugh Shadow. I see hate and darkness in your soul too. Perhaps we are not so unalike. You may pretend to fight for all that is good but you only further the evil. Do you know what it is like when all you though… all that you know and loved was destroyed?!” Ragyn shouted into the air the last bit. Passengers on the inside of the train screamed and ran for cover. Most of them had no doubt fled into other boxcars when the roof was partially torn up.

His people once possessed and controlled the vast reaches. They traded with the once civilized Earth and many other planets. Then… Ragyn growled. He did not intend to remember such things. It was a million years away if longer. His hand extended out. “You know what it is like to be trapped in darkness which controls you… from which you can not escape. Those long years of torment that you bend to and then finally you realize that your purpose is revenge.” He dropped his hand absently. “But we will let you keep your façade…”

Late night members of the Japanese workforce on the way home to a warm bed and loving family were blisfully ignorant of events transpiring above them. Until the cloaked avenger's danger sense reached its peak and a portion of the train roof was mercilessly ripped away, hurtling into the darkness beyond and swallowed by the ebony depths below. Terrifed bewildered commuters, faces formerly dotted with drowsiness, opened their mouths in a well-timed scream. Even before the white haired blood-red eyed man had shouted his rage at a man in black, the passengers had begun a mad dash towards the door to the next car. One man however stubbornly refused to run, pulling out a large camera and snapping wild shots at the confrontation above.

What a story this would make, he could not stop thinking. Angels and demons exist! Confrontation on the roof of a late-night shinkansen!

None witnessing the scene could have known for sure, however, which entity was on the side of light and which for the dark.

The sable stranger had stumbled into a crouch with the sudden rend of the train roof. With that event had come the two youngsters' engineered plunge into the vortex that would take them to Cephiro. No worry or concern was spared their way. They would be safe for the moment, where they were going.

Emerald eyes from a hawkish countenance met Ragyn's crimson in a steady gaze, hearing his words. As the black specter rose, Hououji Kuu shimmered and faded into another vortex. She was one who would not be safe in her situation. Alone on the mangled roof, no one else but the two of them, the living shadow's cloak billowed in the breeze, absolutely still and sullen while the alien sorceror spoke of the two of them. Ragyn had done his research well. Thin lips smiled contemptuously from beneath the red-lined scarf, especially at the last word 'facade'.

He did not laugh. He spoke. The chilling hushed voice could not disguise a tone of infinite irony and sarcasm in it. "True that we are not so unalike in the end. We both feel the darkness in our hearts, we both know the lure of power. You know that I did give in to that hunger for awhile, becoming a murderer and a destroyer of innocent life. It gained me nothing in the end but a road leading to eventual self-destruction. A pity that you, in your longer lifespan, could not realize nor experience such."

Cloth and leather brushed on metal as the cloaked man stepped closer. This time, a light hint of agreement was in his words. "Yes, I have resorted to evil ways in my battle. But I do not further evil, for the ends justify the means. Only when it will save the souls of the innocent and annihilate the guilty, like I was, do I ignore common morality." A pause as the tone of his voice came a little softer,as if remembering people long gone. "Loss of important people is not alien to me either..." This time the Shadow did laugh, a taunting jibe of sinister merriment that found no escape from Ragyn's ears. "...but I pity you now, more than ever. Pity that you wallow in revenge for their sake. It does nothing but make you feel that much emptier in the end."

"Save your pity, 'Ying-ko'." sneered Ragyn, vehemently emphasizing the name that Kent Allard was once known by long ago in a far corner of Earth. "I don't want it."

The sable form dropped slowly into an openhanded combat stance, a kung-fu variant used by Tibetan lamas. "For ignoring my warning, you will beg for it." came the voice in ghostly tones. The living shadow, as if torn from its natural element by the slashing breeze, closed the distance between itself and Ragyn with a leap. Pale supple hands that concealed a deceiving strength lashed out in a flurry of palm strikes and punches. Ragyn laughed and his fists flew as well as his legs, countering every move with his own. Both fighters, one in white and one in black, were thinking two moves ahead.

The break came when Ragyn launched a vicious reverse roundhouse kick aimed for his opponent's neck. The cloaked warrior dropped, and Ragyn's leg sailed over and struck the slouch hat cleanly off. Two booted legs from below Ragyn twirled and clipped around his other leg, the one supporting the kick, like a pair of scissors and threw him off balance.

Ragyn grunted and fell into the hole of the roof, landing on his back in the train's interior even as the Shadow leaped down after him. He rolled and his adversary's follow up punch missed. Both men stood, breathing heavily. Off to one corner, the man with the camera was hurriedly reloading, not wanting to miss a moment of the colossal fight before his eyes.

Ragyn and the Shadow dashed at each other once more. The Shadow's guard had lowered in this instant however, and Ragyn managed to land three punches into his chest before clamping those same hands around his opponent's neck. A strangled gasp from the face behind the crimson scarf as Ragyn slammed him into the floor and tightened his grasp convulsively. The Cephironian's grasp was a python's squeeze.

Suddenly, rather than get a grip on Ragyn's own neck in an obvious counter, thin hands snaked out and directly grabbed Ragyn's wrists, which were helping apply a constriction that would have broken a lesser man. The Shadow forced the hands up and away, the sorceror grimaced as his squeeze was broken and snappping pressure was being applied to his own wrists.

They both rolled and this time the Shadow was on top, Ragyn's arms weakened. One hand drew one of the 9mm SIG-P228s from beneath the darkened overcoat. The barrel jammed painfully onto Ragyn's chest. "One bullet through your black heart..." whispered the Shadow, clicking the safety off. "...one hundred souls avenged."

Before he could pull the trigger, Ragyn smirked venomously as his otherworldly power lashed out and struck not the Shadow, but the over-eager cameraman, still reloading. That man screamed in alarm as an invsibile hand pushed him backwards, out through the emergency exit side door, which had already been loosened because of the tearing roof. His camera flew off into nothingness, but the man managed to secure a weak grip in the shattered doorway, lower part of his body flying in space. "TASUKETEEEEEE!!!" yelled the man, fingers starting to loosen.

"Who will it be? You can't let the innocent die, can you?" mocked Ragyn. But his opponent had already moved towards the man in danger. The man lost his hold and flew, but not farther than a fourth of a meter when a hand snaked out of the train's darkness, with a glowing crimson gem on the middle finger, and grabbed his elbow. After a pause, it slowly pulled him up into the train and the poor cameraman was staring up into burning verdant eyes that froze his blood and made his lower lip quiver.

"Get out of here before I throw you myself." rasped the figure in Japanese.

The camerman turned and ran. The black figure whirled, barely in time to see a raised fist flying for his mouth. Ragyn snarled triumphantly as the hit connected, as did a kick to the stomach. The cloaked avenger stumbled back, reeling from the strikes. The rushing air in his ears told him just where he was approaching.

Another punch and a whispered groan, then the black form swayed and fell back, saved by a grip at the exact same spot where the cameraman had been holding onto. Below the rushing train flowed the murky depths of the river Sumidagawa. The Shadow held on with one hand, eyes staring up defiantly at the alien sorceror. A whispered mocking laugh wafted its way into the train, as if it was he who had won. "This was the only way you could win..."

With no answer or ceremony, Ragyn smirked and stomped on his opponent's fingers.

And to the horrified eyes of Yamazaki Jubei and the Princess, watching from the former's taxi, the huddled black form that was the Shadow lost his grip from the train side and dropped straight down in free fall, into the frigid Stygian abyss that was the Sumida river.

"IYE!!! The boss is down!!! Hang on Princess!!!" yelled Jubei. He turned the wheel sideways and the entire taxi, bullet train forgotten, swerved into a side road leading down towards the shore. In no time they had reached the grassy observation point and Jubei had left the lights running, the stars shining down towards their position as the wind blew, sending a shiver down their forms.

"I'm sure Kage-sama is fine..." whispered Jubei to Emeraude.


Fifteen minutes later, even the faithful taxi driver was beginning to wonder. He sighed and sat down on a tree stump, worry etched all over his face as he slipped his cap off. Could the Kage have finally gotten his? He who had fought hordes of gangsters and worse throughout the decades, he who'd saved the innocent from the preying of the guilty, could he have actually fallen and drowned in the cold waters of the Sumidagawa?

"Princess," said Jubei to the beautiful woman from another world, not wanting to meet her eyes. "...I..don't where he is...I don't know if he's dead...he can't be! Kage-sama can't be dead! I refuse to believe it!!!"

"Then don't." The voice that spoke from the water beyond, eerie and frigtening though it was to hear, sent a surge of relief through the taxi driver. "BOSS!" An inky blot of darkness had slowly risen from the water, as if some being had breathed life into the Sumidagawa itself and something had grown from it.

The bedraggled figure in black picked its way out of the water, stumbled as it neared the shore. His clothes were all wet, his face slightly battered from his fight with the sorceror, but the steady glow of those jade eyes refused to die.

A pale hand came up and removed the scarf, and it was as if the Shadow had never been. Beneath it now was Lamont Cranston. The glow faded away into an ordinary gray. And when he spoke, gone now was the sibilant menacing whisper that was the Shadow's voice.

"Hello Princess." said Lamont, as he stumbled slightly again and grimaced. He smiled despite his discomfort as he approached her, gently held her hands. "I'm glad you're all right."


A soft, waking groan escaped the lips of the dark-haired girl lying on her back in the warm grass as she blinked and attempted to sheild her eyes with her arm from the bright sunlight...

.... my, but it was awfully bright for one in the morning...

Suddenly, the young woman found herself sitting bolt-upright as she looked around, frantically trying to figure out where she was. A carpet of green grass stretched as far as the eye could see underneath the sapphire sky, where the occaisional mountain floated gaily overhead, as if it were an everyday occurance. She looked beside her to see the young man from the train... Skyhawk, his name was? What had become of the other two who had also been on the train? What of the Shadow? The last thing she remembered was the shredding of metal and falling into some sort of hole...

Ah, well. It wasn't much use fussing over now. One thing was for certain- she definitely was not in Tokyo anymore. Mackey looked off into the distance at the immense palace, just visible on the horizon, then back down at the appearently still unconscious Skyhawk, nudging him gently. "Oi! You still alive, there?"

Skyhawk sat up quickly, glancing around at his whereabouts. Once he recognized the atmosphere. Once again, he was in Cephiro. He growled lightly as he rose to his feet. "I'm fine.." He held his arm, which seemed to have been injured from the fall. "I can't believe that happened. I should have kept my concentration. Now that being has more power than even he knows what to do with." He reached over for his visor and placed it back over his eyes. "I feel so pathetic right now. I shouldn't have been distracted like that. Who was that driving next to us, I wonder." He looked over at Mackey and smiled slightly. "Well, it seems we've been portaled away. Welcome to Cephiro. This is an odd land, I've been here previously. But I don't know how to leave now. It was mere luck that I got out of here last time. We might be stuck here permanently, this time. I hope you're prepared." He said quietly. "You have great skill and masteries of many arts, I noticed how silently you rose behind our opponent. Even I was not able to detect your presense until it was too late. I admire that. What is your name?" He said placing out a hand. "I am codenamed Skyhawk."

"I'm Mackey," The woman said, smiling a little as she shook his hand. "Nice ta meetcha." She looked about once more at the serene landscape before her. '...stuck here permanently?' She wasn't quite sure what to make of it all- she wasn't even quite sure how or why it was possible for her to have been standing on top of a midnight shinkansen one minute and in the middle of a grassy feild in broad daylight the next. And Cephiro... where in the world was that? If she had known she'd be traveling abroad she might've thought to bring at least a few supplies of some kind, aside from her usual weapons. She looked towards the palace again. "Hm... well, I guess if we're going to be here for a while, that direction is as good as any other..." She shrugged and picked up her sledgehammer, which she had somehow managed to hold onto when she fell through the portal, and led the way towards the only sign of civilization there was to be seen.

Skyhawk followed her, seeing as also there seemed to be nowhere else to go. "We might want to be careful of the guards, they seem rather unfriendly. Or at least they were the last time I arrived here. I had to take care of myself defensively. Perhaps you should prepare to do the same." He said walking a little more cautiously. They continued on their way to the castle, when out of nowhere a pack of monsters came rushing towards them. The monsters, while menacing, were nothing that they could not handle in mere moments. Skyhawk scanned the monsters with his shades, the high tech readings pointing out their every attribute. The Rhino-like horn on their foreheads pointed out that they killed their prey by rushing into them and gouging them with the horn. They also had only one eye, perhaps making it slightly easier on Mackey and Skyhawk's part. He also noted that their ears were rather large, thus making it balance out, using more their sensitive ears than their vision. Of course, sensitive ears pointed out weakness as well. Skyhawk smiled slightly. He knew they were no match for him. He had something that they didn't anticipate. High intensity plasma hand cannons. "Mackey! Get ready! It might not be the guards that we have to worry about!" Skyhawk leapt into the air and flung his arms out, his hand cannons already loaded and ready to go. He pulled each trigger four times. He landed futher away from the monsters, and put his hand cannons back in his trenchcoat. Shortly after his graceful landing, four of the eight monsters dropped dead, each one of their chests pierced perfectly to where the heart was located. He looked at the other four which were rushing towards Mackey. He crossed his arms and watched, eager to see what the skilled young woman could do. "Show them what you've got, Mackey." He shouted, his visor reflecting the battle ahead.


At the sight of Lamont, Emeraude winced seeing how he stumbled as he approached her and when he finally did, he had taken her hand, saying he was glad she had been safe. Emeraude sighed, and looked at him, her crystal blue eyes meeting his.

"Lamont... Jubei and I thought we'd lost you," she told him, genuine relief in her soft voice. Without thinking, she gave him a hug that nearly made him fall. The princess quickly seperated from him, and colored. "Oh, I'm so sorry. We just thought you were gone...." her voice trailed off.

The golden-haired maiden looked at the waters near them, as if in deep thought, and after a few moments, she finally said, "I would like to know one thing, though.... do you know that young man that was with you?"

Mildly dazed and breathing coming unevenly, Lamont Cranston had been about to say something further to Emeraude when she wordlessly pulled him close in a warm embrace, preventing further words. The stormy gray in his eyes seemed to lighten, seemed to banish the fettered darkness within. At this very moment, astonishment could have been very easy to read on the dark haired man's countenance.

Waves from her mind touched his, and Lamont felt nothing but the most profound of dispelled fear for him and great relief. It put regret in his heart, seeing how he'd made her worry that whole time. Somehow, with the beautiful woman's arms around his neck, feeling a warm human body so soon after narrowly escaping his demise, made him happy and truly thankful to be alive.

And that was saying something. For in all the years of his eternal war, he had cheated Death countless times and had scarcely given much value to his own life. Now he was.

He was about to return the embrace, when she pulled away and apologized. That brought a warm smile to Lamont's face. "It's all right, Princess." He chuckled. "But I told you not to worry about me." he said gently. Gray eyes followed the Princess' crystal blue, gazing towards the flowing waters of the Sumidagawa. Starlight played its fingers across the surface, illuminating it with a silvery hue.

The Shadow heard her words and was quiet for all of half a minute. Should he tell her what he'd only moments ago come to realize? That the very two boys he had known nearly twenty years before were children of the Sol Zagato and Princess Emeraude? After all, he'd felt a sense of...recognition from the Princess when she'd caught sight of the boy. She must have known, deep down, that this was her long lost son. It would be foolish and cruel to deny the truth from her, after all this time.

Lamont's eyes turned away from the water and gazed into the Princess'. "Yes, I do know him." he said at last. "And it is not the first time we've met. You have another son. I have met him too. I will explain along the way." Jubei moved to support his chief's left shoulder, Lamont carefully held Emeraude's for support on the right. Together they carried him to the back of the taxi, then Emeraude got in next to him. Up front, Jubei put the raxi in reverse, then backed it out and within seconds they were once more on the main road, returning to central Tokyo. "To the Sanctum." Came Lamont's voice from the back of the cab, voice low with a touch of weariness.

His head rocked back and settled on the comfortable leather of the seat as his eyes closed. Intruding on his blackened sight was the occasional glare of another passing car or a bright neon light. He could feel Emeraude's eyes on him. Best not to let her worry anymore.

Absolute silence, save for the low purr of the taxi engine, dominated the cab until Lamont spoke. It was time for him to help lifts the clouds of memory from her mind. "I learned from Hikaru Shidou that the Sol Zagato considered himself as having commited the greatest crime on Cephiro. That was to fall in love with you, the Pillar. You too held deep love for him, but you were divided over that and your role as Cephiro's only source of stability. Nevertheless, you had children, two boys born a year apart." His eyes opened then as he glanced at the Princess. Her face seemed to hold recall and a little sorrow.

"Somehow you must have known what would happen eventually to the both of you for committing this so-called sin. You must have remembered the legend of the Magic Knights and the truth behind their role. So you hid all knowledge of your children from everyone else, though perhaps there are some who know till now. You spirited your children away to Earth, this very world, and two different people found your sons."

A nearly inaudible sigh escaped Lamont's lips as he realized what happened. "To this day, I have much regret that I could not have rescued your elder son from his fate. Kyle, that is how I know him, was adopted into the ranks of a secret global terrorist ring named Black Lotus. A despicable lot they are, they have numerous crimes to answer for. The worst is their corruption of children who eventually become their soldiers. Your son was one of those unfortunates. They tainted him at an early age and redirected his powers to kill and destroy for them. Now he is their best, under the codename Skyhawk. He is a good warrior in his own right...regrettable then that his powers could have been used for something greater."

A smile broke across Lamont's impassive features as he remembered the other boy. "It is your other son I am more proud of." he continued. "He was recovered by a man of integrity and honor, one Jamar who lived in an uncharted region of this world. He was a master of the martial arts, a former agent of Black Lotus. Chad, the name I know your other son by, was raised by Jamar. Yet he instilled in your younger son something which Black Lotus clearly did not place in Kyle: love and respect for life and using one's abilities to protect those who have no defender.

"Sixteen years ago, I was here in Tokyo to meet with Umi Ryuuzaki's father. One night, Black Lotus agents found Jamar and kidnapped Chad, setting a trap for him. As the Shadow, I crossed paths with Jamar and it was not at all long before we joined forces to drive a spear into Black Lotus." Lamont's voice seemed to take a distant tone, the events of that time coming vivid into his mind now. "Jamar sacrificed his life and struck a lethal blow to Black Lotus, damaging them beyond the point of reclaiming their former glory. I could not save Kyle, who had stayed in with Black Lotus, but I managed to bring Chad to safety. He has gone on with his life now, and though I have not seen him yet, I am certain Jamar would be proud. He too is on Cephiro as we speak."

The taxi's engine lowered still and fell silent as, deep within the Tokyo metropolis, it neared the blackened alleyway that was the entrance to the Shadow's Sanctum. Lamont was silent again, quietly watching Emeraude. "You have heard my story, Emeraude. Or rather, you have heard you and your own children's tale." This had to be so much for her, learning all this within the space of a few minutes. The taxi door opened and Lamont held Emeraude's arm while they slowly passed into the alley. He bent over and input the code into the hidden keypad, the brick wall slid aside, and as they descended he turned to her again. "I have failed in my mission tonight, emeraude. Ragyn has escaped with Hououji Kuu back to Cephiro, and I feel that trouble is brewing on your world at this very moment."

The bluish light cast by the lights in the room seemed to reflect off Lamont's piercing gaze. "It is clear what we must do now." He whispered. He knew Emeraude could see it as well.

That was to get to Cephiro…

Mackey grinned confidently and drew two knives from her pocket as the wooly rhino-like creatures all charged at her at once. Jumping clear over the horn of the second monster from the left, she thrust the first knife into its skull before running down its spine and throwing the second dagger just before jumping off again. She kept running for a short distance as the knife pierced the skull of the monster on the far right. Upon hearing something whizz by its sensitive ears, the creature that had been between to the two now ex-rhinos, charged in the direction that the knife had flown. It was only distracted for a mere second, as it soon realised that it was chasing a decoy and reared around to charge at its real target. However, this had been long enough for the diminuative woman to jump on top of the previously unaccounted-for monster and get a good grip on its long fur, confusing the creature and causing it to charge in some random direction, in this case, that of the other monster. At this point, Mackey, who didn't feel like being impaled, eaten, gorged, or otherwise slightly inconvenienced at that moment, smacked her steed on the side of the head with her mallet. Leaping just as the creature fell, she seemed to hang in the air for just a second with her hammer poised above her head with both hands as the last monster ran under her, looking up just as the head of the weapon came down and cracked its skull.

Landing gracefully, the woman blinked as the corpses of the four animals vanished into thin air. Letting down her guard just enough to look confusedly over at Skyhawk, she asked the question that she hadn't had time to ponder until just now; "What the heck were those things?!"

Skyhawk applauded Mackey for her skillful display. "Not bad at all. You are really something else." He said still smiling slightly. "As for what we were just disposing of, I have no clue. Nor do I really suppose it matters. If it dares to challenge us, then it's as good as dead, is it not?" He said walking past her. "I guess that we'll have more opponents before our visit to Cephiro is over. I wonder of our dark cloaked friend made it as well? Or is he perhaps still on Earth?" He said looking back at her. "Did you catch any sign of him coming?"

Elsewhere, Chad continued talking with his newfound friends Quatre, Arista, and Ferio, who he had still thought had still looked very familiar. He shrugged it off again and looked at the door. "Ferio, what is it we can do to help? I don't want to stand here helpless, while the war goes on and people get hurt. I want to help, and so does Quatre. Who is it we're fighting against? And what can we do to talk them out of it? There shouldn't be any more death than necessary, and I don't want to see anymore. I've seen enough in my life, already. And quite frankly....I'm tired of it." He turned to Ferio with sharp eyes. "Ferio, perhaps you can send us all on individual missions, each one of us to a certain area of an opposing country. Some of us could stay and defend and some of us can go and try and reason. If push comes to shove then we might have to use brute force, but only if that's necessary. Does that sound good?"

'He knows... ' Emeraude thought silently, a neutral expression on her face, however, unsurprised at this fact. In the next few moments, Lamont had told her what had happened in the lives of her two sons. How could she, the mother of these two, be hearing their life stories in these short few minutes? Once again, she felt as if her heart had been pierced with the deepest dagger as when she saw her older son. Kyle, as Lamont had called him. It had hurt knowing that she was being told how the lives of her sons had gone by, knowing that she had not been there for them... and that she was just learning what had happened to them. Still... she was relieved to know they were alive.

"Its okay, Lamont..." she told him when he had told her his regrets for not saving Kyle. Emeraude sighed, touching the ends of her golden hair. "And I am happy to know that Chad has been raised properly. That man had died for Chad... and I am honored to have had him raise my son."

She looked down at her hands. "Thank you for watching them for me.... when I was not able. But..." Emeraude hesitated. "Would it be silly? Even though it was evil that brought me back, I am glad to have been given this chance to see Kyle."

The maiden raised her eyes up to Lamont once more. "Now it is time that I see my other son..."

Emeraude was finally going home.


Arista conversed with Chad and Quatre, and moments later, Chad had excused himself and had gone to talk to Ferio. The silver-haired maiden watched the young man, and her eyes found themselves on Ferio the next instant. The golden-eyed prince looked tense, as his whole body seemed stiff, his eyes hard.

The young woman was in the middle of observing the prince when Leala took her flute from her hand with her mouth. "Leala!" Arista laughed at her cute pet, "Give that back to me right now!" The adorable creature shook its head and headed towards prince Ferio, with the young woman chasing after it, leaving Quatre all to himself.

Leala gave her flute to prince Ferio, and Arista halted immediately in front of the prince, a somewhat embarassed, yet laughing expression in her lavender eyes. "Your Majesty, may I have my flute back?"

"No, not that I could see," Mackey said, shaking her head at the young man's question as she followed him in the direction of the palace. "Then again, who knows? Our white-clad ray of sunshine called Kage-sama an off-worlder, and if one or both of the two of them is not of Earth then it's not entirely impossible that we were sent to that person's home planet. And if one of them comes back here, the other is likely to follow. I have a feeling that we've not seen the last of either of them yet."

As they approached the main entrance to the castle, a pair of humungous and generally buff-looking men with swords made themselves visible. "Wow, you weren't kidding about those guards, earlier, were you?" She remarked quietly to Skyhawk before walking up to one of them and looking at him from over her shades. "Yo, 'sup? You wanna let us in?"

"Time indeed. Wait no longer, Princess. Come." Gait slow and with infinite care, Lamont led the Princess away from the main room and towards a pair of black shrouded curtains. From their position, Emeraude could smell the mildly sweet scent of incense. A gloved hand raised and parted the curtains.

The floor on the small room they had entered was thickly carpeted. On the wall before them was an ancient tapestry depicting the cross-legged image of the Tibetan god of wisdom, surrounded by fanged beasts and armored warriors with curved swords. Two incense burners and rows of unlit candles on an altar before that tapestry seemed to box that image in.

Lamont strode across the floor towards that altar, his hands came into his coat and emerged with a match. He struck it on the side of the table and one by one lit the burners and the candles. The meager flames thrown by the waxen sources of light cast massive wavering shadows on the walls about them as they touched Lamont's form. The Princess could not deny some eerie aura pervaded this room. Indeed, the black silence of the atmosphere was comparable to a seance.

Returning to Emeraude's side, Lamont moved to stand before her, sideways to the altar, then knelt, beckoning her to do the same. She knelt level with him, eyes shining curiousity as Lamont spared a glance at the room about them. "I trained in a hidden city to develop the abilities I have now. My mind potential is multiplied tenfold within this room. This room exists for the purpose of allowing me to channel my psychic power for the most dire of emergencies. At this moment, I can think of none other than getting us both to Cephiro."

Lamont gently took her hands in his. The touch of her hand was smooth and calming to the soul. "Emeraude...look into my eyes. As you do, you must think of Cephiro. I want you to focus on its very image, concentrate on its essence. Maintain everything that you know to be Cephiro in your mind. Will, with all of your heart, for us to be there. The rest is mine."

Crystal blue gazed into stormy gray, their hands clasped. Not only did Emeraude see the Cephiro, eternally beautiful and untainted, she had always known and loved, but she began to see faces of old friends. The Guru Clef, the Pharle Presea, the Dal Lafarga, and many more. A tear trickled down her right eye as she remembered one who would be with her no longer. The man she had died for, and who had died for her...

Yet it brought a smile to her face, knowing that she would see them all at last, as well as the children she would finally meet face to face. Just thinking about them made her wish all that more deeper. Deeper till it touched the very core of her being.

Through it all, Lamont felt the slight sorrow yet joy and desire emanating from the Princess. Sweat broke on his brow as he focused his powers even harder...and channeled it to touch Emeraude's mind, breathe life and strength into that desire.

And right then and there, the Shadow's Sanctum, a realm that had never known light since its inception, erupted in a bright white explosion. Instinctively, their eyes closed against the blinding brilliance.

The Shadow and the Princess felt their bodies hurtle through space at a dizzying yet exhilarating speed. Both their eyes were now closed, their grasps on each other's hands tightened as if one of them let go, the other would be lost forever. The two of them seemed to be caught in the toils of an unrelenting whirlwind.

Just when the white brightness reached its zenith, their world faded into reality. Lamont and Emeraude slowly opened their eyes. A clear sapphire sky was their ceiling, that same sky was dotted with floating islands and crystals. The two of them were kneeling, hands still grasped, within the shadow of a large wood and stone building. The smell of frying meat and merry laughter touched their noses and ears, coming from a window beside them. Lamont slowly helped the Princess up as they stood, gaze sweeping about the surroundings. There was a rumble of wood on soil, and a horse-like animal dragging a cart along passed them by. The driver raised his head and gave them both a curious glance. A somber faced man in black and a beatiful woman in a gold dress would pique anyone's curiousity.

They were within a wide town square it seemed, vaguely resembling something out of ancient England but there the resemblance ended. They were within the confines of a street market of some sorts. Men and women in ancient dress called cheerily for traders to come and see what they had to offer. Lamont noticed, from the deals being exchanged, that money did not seem to exist at all.

The minute he remembered from Hikaru's mind that money did not exist on this world was the same minute they both turned and gazed upwards, higher and higher.

A massive shining walled structure had been right behind them, now before their eyes it filled their vision. Several crystals jutted out from it in all directions, three towers rose to impale the sky. Another thing he remembered from the Fire Knight's memories.

Indeed they were on Cephiro.

"You're home." whispered Lamont.

As they gazed at the Crystal Palace before them from their position, the Shadow's gaze lowered and meters away, before a large gate were two familiar backs. The Karasu's child and Skyhawk were defintely safe, trying to gain entrance from two guards who seemed none too willing to allow them that. The ex agent of the Czar was quiet for a moment, then he held Emeraude's arm, gesturing to the two. "Now is your chance Princess. Show yourself to them, they will recognize you and give you entry, as well as anyone you want to take with you, such as the two youngsters."

His eyes glanced gently but deeply into hers, his grasp tightening warmly as he gazed into alluring depths. "I must go, Princess. I cannot join you for I can do much more good for the Magic Knights, their friends, and this world by keeping myself out of sight. I will be watching over you all from now on.

"Dozens of faces, hundreds of names are mine to assume. But all of them are united under this one symbol." Lamont's left hand raised and balled into a fist. Emeraude found herself gazing into eerie yet entrancing shifting colors in the form of a resplendent gem mounted on a ring. The gem shimmered in everchanging hues of ruby, emerald, turquoise, onyx and sundry others. "This jewel is a girasol, of which there is no other on Earth or anywhere else. It is also my symbol. No matter his outside appearance, the bearer of this ring is the Shadow. You are one of only a select handful who know the secret of this ring. Your son Chad is another. Remember it well, Emeraude."

That same hand, seeming to glow of its own will due to the ring, slowly lifted Emeraude's. Very lightly and briefly, Lamont touched his lips to the back of her hand. His head came up and he smiled, a warm smile that chased away Emeraude's fears and doubts. "Take care, milady. We will meet again soon."

He released her hand and walked back rapidly but surely into the square. A cloud of smoke billowed in from the open window of the eatery and obscured Emeraude's view of Lamont and the crowd. A gust of wind swept an almost frigid breeze into the town square, chasing the smoke away. When it cleared, no more sign of the man she knew to be the Shadow remained. As if the very elements had aided him. The wind had carried him away and the smoke had masked him.

But the Princess held no doubt in her heart that he would return.

A child and a large wolf beside her heard all. The girl gently patted the wolfs neck before shapeshifting into a small black fox. She went up to Emeraude, looking up at her with large blue eyes.

"Until we meet again," Emeraude allowed a small sigh escape her lips. It had been clear that Lamont will find her once more. She could not help worrying about him, and what the future holds for them all.

Just as she started to approach the doors of the Cephirian palace, a small tiny black fox approached her, with the bluest eyes she had ever seen, much like her own eyes. Emeraude looked at the creature for a moment, unable to place what familiarity that creature held. She decided that more important matters were at hand.

Emeraude turned away from the fox, and had approached the castle entry way. "Let them in," she said softly, her voice unexpected, as the others looked in her direction.

The guards looked at her frozen, in shock, their faces paled by her appearance. One of them managed to speak. "No...no, it cant possibly--no..."

Skyhawk and Mackey had also been looking at her, confused. Emeraude's crystal blue eyes met those of the guards. The same one who had spoken before took a deep breath, still with round wide eyes. "It IS you..." he whispered. "No one else has eyes...like that of Princess Emeraude's."

The golden-haired beauty turned to look at Skyhawk, now meeting his eyes. Then, both felt something. Something had passed between them. Perhaps... a connection. They both knew. He knew.

Emeraude smiled softly, faintly, as she whispered, "Yes, Kyle. it's me."

Kyle's reaction surprisingly enough, didn't seem to change. His hands were still in the pockets of his trenchcoat and his expression showed no signs of surprise. Deep inside, his heart was racing, however. This was her, the one that he had departed from those years ago. But for what reason? Why had they been seperated? He nodded slightly and responded with a calm voice. "I see." He thought for a moment for his next words. "So it's been awhile, mother. Brother will be pretty surprised to remember you." He took note of the black fox approaching and them smiled slightly. More and more visitors reach this castle every second, eh?" He said still keeping his thoughts collected.

Mackey looked at the little mother-son reunion that had formed before her, her mild confusion at it hidden beneath a completely expressionless face. Following Skyhawk's gaze, she, too noticed the little fox, using it as an excuse to at least temporarily escape the situation so as to not poison it with her cynicism. "Hey, you," She said, cocking her head to one side and smiling down at the little animal.

Emeraude's eyes stayed firmly on Kyle's as he spoke. Though, his voice calm, and had not shown any sort of emotion, his eyes betrayed him. Her older son had questions, questions that she would have to answer later. His next words made her wince slightly, yet, it seemed that no one noticed, as he turned around to look at the fox whose eyes matched her very own.

The other woman had been watching the reunion, and had now called to the fox as to distract all the tension, smiling at the small creature.

Emeraude looked intensely at the fox's blue eyes. Deep inside of her heart, everything had been too much for her to take in. First, Kyle, now this...

"Please reveal your true self," she told the creature.