Ascot bit down on his lower lip, stepping back against a wall, segregating himself surrepticiously away from the growing mass of noise and unplesantries. Noise... got to him. His brow knotted subtly but tightly, disorienting himself for a moment.

His mind had almost found rest and contentment in the Magic Knights' arrival but.. circumstances had ruined it, knotting the arisen questions and possibilities into a tangle that was just as bad, if not worse than it was before.

Ascot was thankful as he heard the diminutive mage, coupled with the authoritive, yet, Ascot mused, amused, relaxed and friendly Prince Ferio bring a level of calm to the crowd of unsettled persons, directing them to prepare for a proper meeting on the problem at hand at their designated quarters for the night.

He allowed for the muscles in his neck to relax, and softly, he lay his head back against the smooth, white wall in which he stood alongside. He barely understood the events taking place as it was, how could Ferio hope to achieve any sort of order amongst the people who knew only the heated emotion rumor had sung softly in secret into their purpose? The boy's eyes opened and yet stopped at half-mast, unfocused, straying to the side, bored. These problems had given him a headache.. War was inevitable, even with the Magic Knights.

A prospet ignited within him: what if the Magic Knights were to each eventually side with an opposing division of Cephiro? They would be influencing.. no, encouraging the war in the event of that happening. No.. they would not. The Magic Knights were no doubt aware of the unstable state of Cephiro; they would not consciously pit it's inhabitants against each other? And where would Ascot be in all of that.. Why, Ascot would be a leader. Would he have no choice but to be as such an influence as the Magic Knights, a leader in opposition?... Ascot sighed loudly and suddenly, becoming angry.

It was not such an outrageous suggestion though... the Magic Knights were opposed to the reimbursement of the power that the Pillar had once had over Cephiro. Ascot's dark and thick lashes blinked slowly, the deep and dark green of his eyes flashing in contemplation. Could Cephiro handle a war while at the mercy of a mysterious and evil power? Ragyn... Ascot did not think so. However.. could Cephiro handle remaining just so balanced and delicate with the Pillar, again, threatened by someone as mysterious and of potential Ascot had no idea, as Ragyn? Ascot bit down, standing up from the wall, making his way out of the noisy room.

The fair-skinned youth walked briskly, the thick and dark locks of his hair glinting with warm hues of pink and yellow and honey from the setting sun through the tall windows alongside him. He found that he hated the earlier commotion even more now that he had quiet to compare it to... The boy simply felt.. taut and out of order, unhappy, unrested, lost... He was much more in charge now that he had had time to grow since the last coming of the Knights, much more in charge and had a deeper understanding of things, but with it, he found he held deeper grudges, his unhappiness went deeper, his tensions cutting closer to his heart than he enjoyed. Cephiro was just so unstable and.. He winced inwardly and his face washed free of emotion, thinking for an instant, a flash of a memory, his old friends.. He left it at that.

Leiladra lightly stomped into the palace after hiting the gaurds with a small ice spell and started to walk around aimlessly. "This place is to big. How am I ever going to find Guru Clef?" A defeting feeling came over her. "I wish a could get some help."

Blue hair the color of a Caribbean ocean and sapphire eyes gave a fleeting look back at her, her eyes imploring. Umi turned away from the mirror and ran a hand over the wall engravings. Everything had changed for better or for the worse. Even in the room she had stayed on their last travel to Cephiro was different. When had an artist carved such renderings and reliefs on the wall? She had been through the castle perhaps a dozen times and all the plaster or crystal carvings had been throughout the halls. How long had they been gone from Cephiro?

Umi stopped as her hand touched a familiar face on the wall and then she glanced around her. Was she so blind that the elaborate flowers, the fairies, and other creatures hindered her view of what the wall contained? Like a history recording the wall, perhaps, was a reminder of Cephiro’s past and the walls unfinished perhaps it’s future. The particular figure her hand rested on was Hikaru’s face, or a likeness there of, by Fuu who were ever in mid-fight with a griffin like creature. If the scene was accurate she should be…Her gaze traveled to the opposite wall near the doorway and there, a breath of the past. Ascot had grown for her after this fight when Selece awoke. While the Fire Knight and the Wind Knight engaged a creature in battle Umi had tried reason with the Bal. With a slap she had brought tears to his eyes. However in the carvings she seemed regal as she held her hand in a stop motion towards the small Bal.

She could almost laugh. “I was worried for Fuu and Hikaru, my friends, and then I realized that all along he had called the ‘monsters’ his friends…Ascot…” Her cheeks reddened when the Bal walked by. His brisk walk seemed agitated, and his eyes haunted once more. Everyone seemed so troubled more so now then they had ever been. “Ascot! Wait!” She leaned out the door and called down the hall. Was it her imagination or did his shoulders straightened? “Is your burden that heavy?” She mumbled to herself before catching up with him.

“I… do you mind talking to me for a bit in my room? I want to ask you …” Her eyes swept over the back of his hat imploring once more, sending him a message to turn around and meet her eyes. Those now somber emerald eyes that she hadn’t seen in so long.

Fuu walked along the hallway of the Crystal Palace. Leaning on Prince Ferio's shoulder she found herself constantly lost in thought. They weren't usually certain thoughts in particular, it was more of a random cycle playing constantly over and over. Most of the thoughts circled around the current problems in Cephiro. Something bad was going to happen here. That's why she and her two best friends had been summoned to Cephiro again in the first place. It made her feel that she, Umi, and Hikari were almost like bad omens. She was barly paying attention to anything else around her when the young prince made himself apparent again. She smiled again. She just couldn't help herself but smile at Ferio, she supposed quietly that she loved him, but that was her buisness. He had spoken to her, about her return along with Hikari and Umi. She decided that convesation would ease her spirit, "I'm glad that I got the chance to see you again. It makes me feel at ease to see a familiar face, especially one that I haven't seen in so long. It lets me see that I haven't totally lost the past." She felt her face turn meloncoly. It was true that seeing Cephiro again was wonderful, but for every hello there was a tragic goodbye. "Ferio-san." She could have hit herself in the head, forgetting herself so much, it was awful. "Um.." She'd try again, "Prince Ferio. Don't you, in some way see the Magic Knights as a sort of omen? What I mean is," Fuu gazed toward the ground, "Whenever we come it's only because Cephiro's in danger. It's almost as if we're bad luck." She contined to gaze at the marble-white floor, not wanting to meet his gaze.

Ascot's back stiffened instinctively at the sound of his name calling out from behind him. He quickly mused over the sound of the voice... Clear, fluid, a feminine high note; a familiar note. Ascot relaxed, looking to the ground alongside him, away from the soft gleam of the setting sun.

A request, a request. A peculiar one.. or was it as such as he thought? The youth pursed his lips, pushing a hand to rest at his waist, lifting aside the white coat he wore. He could pretend to be initially suspicious of this girl whom he could not deny knowing so well, remembering particularly for reasons that had evidentally been all very obvious, but in that event, he would be lying to himself and to her. He turned to face her and offered a softly civil and steady gaze.

"Ne.. Umi-san." he said then, his voice quiet and steady. The lithesome girl stood before and below him, her fine, long azure hair falling about and behind her shoulders; the many strands were tainted with the light of the windows they stood beside, bleeding blue and orange together. He studied her face; it seemed almost as though... Umi's demeanor was quieted, hesitant, and she seemed conflicted. No longer was Umi the arrogant retainor to fortunes grand, no... She not even attempt at boring the look of one who is unaffected as she did in nearly every up front situation, back before, when..

"Ask me?" his eyes searched her own quizzically with an apathetic haze outward, his chin lifting a fraction, "Well.. sure if you would.. like me to." He leaned back subtly, his face unreadable.

Ascot felt a knot twist in the deep of him, looking on the champion of legend. Feeling it rise to his consciousness, Ascot immediately suffocated and buried it back down, his face growing dark just for an instant, his hair shrouding his eyes. He did not know why he was giving Umi near the same treatment he gave everyone else these days... Umi was his friend and he did not have anything to fear from her. Did he..? He struggled to soften, but was afraid of something.. the past, maybe? He chewed on his bottom lip and offered a meek smile to take the edge off of his demeanor..


Night was on the wane in Tokyo, the opposite was in effect over Cephiro. The sun's rays darkened, from brilliant gold to soft orange to dull red, till at last to pale white light, as Apollo gave way to his sister Artemis. From the outer fields, farmers began to put away their equipment and beasts of burden, relieved for the end of a long day. Within the towns, shopkeepers set up various boards that protected their wares. Children playing in the streets reluctantly complied to the calls of their parents. Fires were being started in the more rural areas, anticipating a cold night. In the skies above, the floating islands A ring of mountains surrounded the Crystal Palace, on those mountains resided the structures of Cephiro's capital city, constructed after the power of the Pillar had passed to the people.

Some of those structures' former owners had abandoned their old homes for better residences with the passage of time, four years in the Earth way of counting. The new buildings, residential mostly, had grown up around the old, leaving them dusty and unattended and in danger of eventually collapsing.

These old decaying buildings rested in a cluster, on the outskirts of the capital, where the urban just began to give way to the rural. In one such shack, a balding man in a gray cloak and hood sat at a newly brushed table, upon which rested a burning candle, casting feeble light about the room. Before the man rested a large boxlike contraption with various connecting wires and buttons. An unusual sight on this world, considering Cephiro's admittedly inferior techonology compared to Autozam. Or even Earth.

There was the clatter of bare feet and chatter from beyond the walls of the shack, growing louder and louder. The man at the table glanced up and his right hand flew to the insides of his cloak. Something bulged within the ragged outfit. Apparently a weapon of some sort. The chief had warned him, before bringing him here, that this was a dangerous world and self-defense would be neccessary if things got out of hand.

The chatter passed and the footsteps faded away. The man sighed and loosened the grip on his weapon. He would be glad to move to another location once the chief commanded it. It was never wise to stay in the same location for too long. He reached across the table.

In Tokyo, a high powered whine cut through the dawn sky, it seemed to get louder and louder as it went farther into the metropolis. The engine noise grew to its loudest as it neared the Tokyo Tower, then suddenly died away without preamble.

Millions of light years away, in Cephiro' towns and villages, families looked up from their dinners and conversations as the same airborne scream that only moments ago had been heard in a totally different world repeated itself in the night sky. The roar passed right over the Crystal Palace, farther and farther into the night. Palace guards and servants glanced out the window in curiousity. Some archers took up their bows, fancying they had heard the scream of a flying monster. To the people of the floating islands in the sky, a giant bird with wings that did not flap and a flaming tail had weaved in between their homes. One woman sent up a prayer to the Creator to save them from all evil.

In the shack, the man at the table straightened out of his sitting position, the rising scream had made it to his ears. He alone knew what it meant.

For as he glanced out the window, his eyes touched first the roofs of the surrounding buildings, and then the ground. Moonlight had shone upon the airborne owner of the noise, casting a long black shadow over the ground.

The man smiled and sat at his table, rigid and alert now. Ten minutes later, a red light on the mechanical contraption gleamed and he reached forward to retrieve a pair of earphones.

"Eiji speaking." he said.

An eerie rasping voice, hollow from the insides of a crypt, whispered back to him over the line. "Connection working well. Maintain. Equipment transfer complete. Stand by for further orders."

"Understood. Over and out." said Eiji, putting the earphones away and leaning back. Igarashi Eiji, in his career as the Kage's Far Eastern contact man, had never dreamed he would be sitting here. A crumbling shack on the outskirts of a city on a world millions of millions of light years.

First time for everything.


The scent of crumbled rock and the earth's soil pervaded about the walls of an ebony abode, as did some wrinkled vines coiling their tendrils about this room. Coming now into this void of blackness was the scrape of leather on a rocky floor. The swish of a cloak in the darkness and the creak of springs signalled a presence had just seated itself at a chair. A black gloved hand slithered onto the tabletop and laid there, momentarily inactive. On the third finger of that hand glimmered a beautiful multi-hued jewel on a ring, gleaming as if it was the ever vigilant eye of some celestial deity.

This was the Shadow's Sanctum, his newest that was unlike any other he had on Earth. This was his first foray into another dimension, another world. When he discovered he could travel back and forth between these dimensions using the power of his mind, he had seen the neccessity of creating a new base of operations. The task now was to create a new network of agents. To eliminate the nebulous problem of procuring a contact man, he had brought Igarashi Eiji over with him from Tokyo. The previous hours had been spent connecting a direct line between the new Sanctum and Eiji's hideout.

With contact established and all equipment transferred (including a particularly large one that did not reside in his Tokyo headquarters), all was almost ready. New people who were to be his eyes and ears in the various sectors of this world remained to be found.

The night sky from without, calm and serene, seemed to hold a sense of coming tension for this world, already twice saved from the brink of destruction by the Magic Knights. Grave danger in the form of civil war and a man with a vendetta was already gripping this land, as well as the three young ladies and their friends.

A whispered sinister laugh wafted from hidden lips beneath a scarlet scarf, a laugh that foreboded doom for the silver haired man who had pulled things together. He would pay for the innocent souls he had starved of their lifeforce, his hand would be stayed from taking anymore. He would also serve as the Magic Knights' hidden wall, their secret weapon.

Another shift in the darkness as the black mirth echoes about the similarly black walls of this ebony realm, into which light had never and would never enter. There was the slide and crunch of stone and wood, then complete silence reigned again.

A black spirit merged with the night.

Clef’s eyes rose up into the night sky. First the scream, not of anything living, but like Autozam’s weaponary, and then the laughter. There was darkness to the laugh and years behind it, but yet a glimmer of light, hope? His brow knitted together as he place a book back onto its shelf in the library.

“The road has not opened up yet there are roads leading here from many places. This road I feel...” The road to the world the Knight’s had come from was opened and partially still open. Something was connected from there to here. Could it be the one called Ragyn? His sky blue eyes with intelligence beyond his childlike looks reflected his inner worries.

“While everyone sleeps now, something gathers but…” Frustrated he created a viewer with his magic. There in the sphere nothing but darkness and a small red gem glowing. What could this be?

Lielandra slowly walked through the place. She stopped when she came to a room there was a strong magical energy. She peeked inside, and her Jade eyes grew wide. There was the one person she had been looking for. She was so happy that she almost cried. Carefully, she walked into the room, cloak covering her eyes in shadow. The girl took a deep breath. "Excuse me Guru Clef" she said softly.

For a moment there it had seemed that Fuu didn't want to distance herself as much anymore; she had called him 'Ferio-san', which was of course still very polite but not as formal and aloof as 'Your Majesty', Ferio mused, rejoicing slightly at the little slip. He tried to hide his disappointment when the girl quickly made amends and addressed him as 'Prince Ferio' instead.

'Would things be any different if I wasn't the prince?' he wondered silently. It wouldn't change the whole two different worlds aspect, but perhaps she wouldn't try to hold back quite so much, had that been the case.

Listening to Fuu, Ferio stopped in his track and blinked at her in astonishment. His amber eyes saddened as he saw her downcast demeanour, and coupled with her melancholy words it was truly a distressing picture. He shook his head emphatically, wanting to convince her otherwise. "Fuu, no, I definitely don't see you three as some kind of bad luck omen!" he protested avidly. "And I'm sure it's safe to say none of us here do." He paused for a moment, then his voice softened as he continued. "Even if you do come during times when Cephiro is in danger, it isn't your fault... There's things none of us have any control over. Besides, you three have always helped us in those times of need. That's not what I'd call bad luck."

Ferio watched the slender blonde girl, hoping that he had managed to persuade her to stop blaming herself, the presence of the Magic Knights, for what was happening to Cephiro. About to reach over in a comforting gesture to instinctively brush aside the golden curls that were currently shielding Fuu's face from view, the prince hesitated and refrained from doing so. She didn't want to be too familiar, so he would respect that. He supposed that it was actually quite sensible of her... It was safer that way, and nobody would get hurt in the end, would they?

Hikaru bit on her lower lip and sighed. The garden was a quiet place, giving her the time and privacy to think about what was going on- or maybe at least try to sort things out. The only reason why they, the Magic Knights would be here is that something is wrong in Cephiro.

"I don't know what to think of it," she told no one in particular. She continued to pace hoping that Umi and Fuu weren't so agitated with all that was happening. Hikaru walked out hoping to find her other half and talk to her. "I think it'll be better if I had at least someone to talk to about all this..."

Clef turned staring at the unfamiliar face. “Yes?” He paused thinking that this girl before him was another inhabitant of the crystal palace, perhaps from one of the families that had stayed after the invasion, and that she would like something to help her sleep. “Are you alright?” He leaned a little closer looking at her peculiarly. In all this mess he wondered what his recently released student would be doing. Although he assured himself Neira would be fine.

Umi watched as Ascot tried to make him relax, it was a visible effort. Her own eyes hardened in thought. Ascot used to be so readable, dependable, was everything so bad to turn his disposition, his demeanor into one of distrust even with friends, with people he cared about? She turned back to her room. “I’d be more than happy. I really would like to talk with you about what is going on with Cephiro.” But in her mind she left out the question she wanted to ask him. ‘What is going on with you?’

With a swivel of her hips and a step she all but disappeared into her room save a few strands of her hair, which whisked through the threshold before following after Umi. She would be formal in talking, try to keep her distance, but they were her friends. Couldn’t she be like Hikaru and warm their hearts with a smile? Or impart some whimsical tidbit of information like Fuu? Or would she resort to being the ‘spoiled’ girl like the first time? “I wasn’t that spoiled…” She mumbled to herself while sitting down on a window seat facing towards a small window with a breath taking view of Cephiro down below.

She heared his footsteps before he ever entered the door. Shyly she reminded herself that in every breath, every word, every moment here was just another goodbye but she wouldn’t let that get to her even if this time, if this time was the last time she would ever see all those she loved in Cephiro. “I wanted to ask you…” Her eyes tilted up followed by her head to meet Ascot’s eyes across the room. “… Well I have a few questions. I’ll start off with a silly one. Why carve this in this room?” She pointed around. That wasn’t what she wanted to ask either but there was a need to save him some pain. To provide him with a bit of happiness, anything, anything if she could get someone to smile was her determined goal tonight.

Ascot remained silent as he received her positive response, and watched her turn to, he assumed, lead them back to her room where she requested they venture to to talk. As her back was turned, he let out a quiet sigh. Her formal words were a reminder to him that not everyone was an enemy... some people were friends, friends with feelings, and the world was not going to stop because he was upset all of the time.

What was this, though..? Was Ascot caring, for once in what seemed a long time? He could have laughed then, at the notion, but he hadn't any idea of what he was even thinking about. It was partly a conscious decision over the time of Cephiro's now-turning, Warring States, to harden in slight and stray from the 'little boy' persona, but how far had he taken it? It wasn't his doing if society grew increasingly dense and irritating with each passing day. If someone annoyed him, he was not going to put on a fancy face and act out as though he were fine with them, because he wasn't, and no one deserved to be spared of the truth.

Was that what society was in fact doing, though? He nearly grumbled at the persistency of the thoughts that were, irritatingly enough, choosing to rattle his mind now, of all times.

He instead followed after Umi as she eventually found her rooms; the sound of her boots clicking clearly against the floor of the halls; controlled, regal her paces were, he mused; brought his shadowed, green gaze to those in question. It was interesting.. thoughtful, he wondered, as Umi had donned those same thigh-high boots since her first coming. It was almost a reassurence, he thought to himself inwardly, and perhaps not even to himself consciously, that a memory as simple as one's boots from a time that now, seemed so simple and far away...

The rooms were dark moreover, as perhaps earlier the light of the day had been enough to spark the light-coloured walls and fabrics, and only a very soft and suttle colour settled on the surfaces of the central room in which they now occupied; pink and orange with the sunset, warm-seeming, though he did not really know.

He looked up at Umi as she spoke, turning to meet his reflective gaze, bringing his hands up to hold his elbows as he shifted his weight and leaned back somewhat. She told him she had a few questions.. but... initiated the conversation with a query on the carvings decorating the walls of her rooms. Ascot blinked, offering a quizzical glance first at her, and then around the room. He had not been aware carvings had been etched into these rooms... the rooms of the MAgic Knights; none had stayed in these rooms since their last coming. Ascot wondered back to a few occasions when some civilians had managed access into the central Crystal Palace, and had come straight here, offering thanks to Those Girls of Legends, praying to them as though they were gods who could contemplate the wishes of the people.

"Huh?" his voice mirrored that of his feelings. "Carve..? Naa Umi- san.. let me.." he did not attempt at finishing the sentence as he walked a little closer to the taller of the Three, stealing a frown at the wall beside her. He did observe carvings there... such intricate and immaculate carvings at that; why, these must have taken ages! He started to speak, but stopped as he realized what the carvings were of.

He took his breaths gentle, suddenly caught by a wave of nostalgia. There, on the walls of Umi's rooms, were painstakingly crafted scenes from the past, the past of the Magic Knights. Hikaru, stalwart and blazing; Fuu, wise and agile; Umi, commanding and with a visage of an otherworldly elegance...

"I never knew these were done here. I really had no clue!" he turned his head and gave an emphatic blink of his dark lashes. He went back to examining, only this time, he caught another face, one familiar, one that... Stirred within him feelings he could label as angry, when in fact were entirely unreadable. He reached out, and passed cool, pale fingers over the small figure; the image of the small boy on the wall wielded great and horrific pentograms, standing in the ranks of... seijyuu. "This is.. me.? Is it really?" he stared, frowning deep and thoughtful, wistful, at the images of the beasts. "It is... Eh. Do you remember this, Umi-san?" He looked up at her from where he had crouched down.

He smiled very subtly, unable to put a feeling to what he felt towards the boy opposing the otherworldly warriors, even the regal Selece.