Umi smiled rather softly letting it reach her eyes before a yawn over
took her. If her calculations were correct she had been up about
twenty four hours due to the difference between Japan's time and
Cephiro's. When night wrapped it's ebony cloak around Earth Daylight
had just brightened the sky on Cephiro. Had it truely only been a day
from when she last sat at her Father's table. She could only hope
time stalled on Earth while they were away once more.
"Ascot... I know there are a lot of things going on but remember you
have friends. For the good of the people, for our friends, and for
ourselves we fight. From what I gather... you might be worried about
one of us choosing a side?" She let her gaze pass his eyes down to
his 'armor'. She never got over the fact that Cephirean armor usualy
consisted of small shoulder peices and thick faberic. "I know this is
personal but... why did you decide to become a champion of one of the
warring factions?" She wanted to assure him that she wouldnt fight
against him again, she didnt want to and with a defiante face she
made her mind not to.
Ascot chewed on his lip a moment, the virecent hue of his eyes
glinting brightly in the moment against the white lights of the
His face darkened as he ruminated the notion. He did not want to sit
and think of whether he was being selfish or.. stubborn when thinking
of it, but he was satisfied concluding that... friends was a very
strong term. Conflicting emotions soured his expression very
briefly, tearing seams within him; friends a strong term? what was he
talking about! Was he trying to be hard to deal with? Or was he
finally refusing to be the naive boy he was always, never of any use,
only needing to have been told a little something here and there and
he would obliviously fade away into the background where he would not
be any trouble to anybody.
He bit down, not wanting to comment.
He knew who his friends WERE.. A pain inside of him tightened and he
nearly grimaced, his throat becoming dry. He could summon whomever
he wanted with nary more than five words, simple commands, but over
time he had grown close and befriended, loved many as his family. He
looked up at Umi then, looking her over, searching her manner for
just how far her knowledge extended. He didn't think she knew, not
really knew, of the epidemic striking sporadically, almost
suspiciously all throughout the countries and warring factions of
Cephiro. If it followed a pattern or penchant, no one was certain.
Ascot was horrified and very helpless as he had witnessed the illness
severing life after life of his seijyuu.
He had never thought to investigate other, homeless seijyuu deaths
however.. he would have to do that.
He snapped out of his reverie and flushed, frowning hard and almost
cold as he digested the question of 'why' he had chosen to become the
champion of the Northern Separation of Cephiro.
"Why?" he echoed, working to soften his features, "It wasn't my
choice. I don't want to be involved in any of this. I think it is
stupid that they fight anyway, choosing 'champions' to lead their
charges... win dictatorship. I think the lot of it is barbaric!" He
brought his hands up to his upper arms and held them there loosely,
his eyes falling halfmast and he looked to the side, slightly irked
with a largely bored but conflicted light to his eyes.
Ascot sighed and looked back at her, feeling somewhat apologetic.
"Ne Umi. I apologize if I am being angry to you or.. ne. It is just
stressful here I guess so! It is getting to me. I have too much
time on my hands that I feel I should be doing something with." he
crooked his mouth and bent his head, letting his hair fall about his
face. "You look tired... I think maybe you should sleep now? I can
bring you something to eat if you want that. It is no problem. I
should not be going off on you about controlled problems that are
stagnant while you must be going through such shocking things." He
tipped his chin and looked down at the young woman, lithe and petite
compared to himself. "Maybe it will be nicer for us in the morning
Evenings over Cephiro could distort and transform the most benign of
images. Streets that projected a friendly countenance by day,
enticing one and all to come walk its stretch, loomed dark and
repelling by night. Apart from its grim outside appearance, it was
the fear of marauders and the occasional monster after sundown that
added to the city denizens reluctance to be abroad at night.
On one of the outlying towns, perhaps the most backward of the
capital city that surrounded the Crystal Palace, a gloomy silence
hung over the wooden and stone structures that composed it. Even the
inns and eateries, gay and inviting while there was daylight, loomed
as black forbidding mountains of the night.
In the various homes and residences of this backward town, families
and friends conversed amongst each other in low tones. Children,
being put to bed at their own reluctance, kept themselves awake by
chatting quietly. House servants, off duty for the time being, passed
the time in consuming their own dinners and gossiping. All their eyes
were wary and slightly fearful, roving from corner to ceiling to
corner again. Watchmen of Cephiro's military, whose job it was to
roam these streets and keep them safe, laid hands on their swords,
making ready to voice a challenge to mischief makers.
None in this benighted sector of the capital could exactly voice their
feelings about this evening. The one thought that imposed upon their
minds was that somewhere, somehow...an unseen but definitely not
unfelt presence had entered their midst. Chrome darkness played its
fingers everywhere, a darkness Cephiro had not known since the
crumbling of the Pillar. People who had to go out to accomplish some
errand or other fairly ran, not wanting to get caught outside by
whatever loomed beyond.
The most commanding feature of this town was a large but aging old
keep on a hill. This was the home of the town's governor, one Baron
Drakov, a prominent nobleman who had been a member of the Advisory
Council. Rumor circulated that he had last journeyed to Fahren and
had so far not returned. No one but servants still awaiting their
master lived there now. That did not stop some in the immediate
neighborhood from dubbing the old keep as haunted.
This particular night, huge shadows bathed Drakov's keep in gloomy
evil blackness. Passers by picked up their pace when in the vicinity,
fearing they would be swallowed up and never released should they
venture too close.
Few lights were alive at the windows of this dusty building. At one of
them, a pair of sharp burning eyes peered beyond the feeble lamp
towards the landscape beyond, outshining the lamp's own luminosity.
The light revealed a fixed stony visage, albeit a handsome one. Dark
haired and sharp featured, the man's expression was solid and barely
changing, as it were a mask superimposed on a face beneath. A slight
hawkishness was on that countenance. Revealed too by the light of the
lamp was a pale supple hand that bore an arresting girasol, or fire
opal, mounted on a ring on the middle finger.
There was a step behind this man's seated form, and a voice whispered.
"Your bed is ready, Master Drakov." A second long silence, then the
Baron Drakov stretched out languidly and nodded slowly, running a
hand over his eyes. "Thank you. I will not need you further for
tonight, Veste. You may retire."
"Thank you Master. And once more, welcome home."
The servant shuffled out of the little room, and the Baron Drakov
rose and headed for a large pair of stairs that led to an upstairs
room. Entering the slightly dusty bedroom of the Baron, this man, the
Baron Drakov himself to all outside appearances, sat at the edge of
the large bed and clapsed his hands before his body. The strange gem
on the ring caught the moonlight and cast rapidly shifting light
across the walls.
A tiny book was on the table beside the bed. On the first page was a
A new agent, a first on this world, had been gained this night. A
step had been taken in the right direction. The being named Ragyn
planned while all slumbered peacefully. So plotted another. The clouds of battle gathered. The Magic Knights and their allies would find help from where they least expected it. From the same place would Ragyn find his doom, long sealed when he had assaulted the innocent.
An uncanny vivid laugh shuddered from the man's lips, a laugh that no
servant in the keep had heard Drakov utter and would have frightened
them had they been present to hear it. The sibilant mirth awakened ghoulish echoes among the walls and was carried onto the night wind. A passing watchmen froze in his tracks, swearing by the Creator that the eerie mockery had originated from the ancient keep. He recalled all the
stories he had ever heard about it, and with a paleness to his face,
rushed to his next post though it was a full thirty minutes before
the changing of the guard.
Neira hadn't realized that her feet had begun to move of their own
volition. Out of the room and through the corridors. The breeze
from the windows should have stopped her. So should of the drafty
hallways and the utter stillness of the hallway. But she was caught
up in trying to listen to Skyhawk speak -- and think of a way to help
him home -- that she didn't realize she'd been following him. (OOC:
*glomps maverick*) Before long, she found herself in the middle of
the living quarters, reserved only for guests.
She blinked sleepily when they finally stopped. She was in the back
of the group, uncertain as to how she should act. She had not been
invited, at least, not verbally. Thankfully no one pushed her away
as the door opened and the others began to enter the room. She
merely nodded in greeting to Chad as she entered the room, offering
him a gentle but nervous smile. She kept to the doorway, listening --
as she was always good at -- to the conversation at hand.
Mackey walked into the room and took her place against a wall, a few
feet to Neira's right, looking about the place with an analytical eye. One could almost physically feel the anticipation and nervousness that
permeated the area as if it were a tangible object, stretched sinews and tightened coils connecting the blonde woman and the one called Skyhawk and his brother and the little girl and everyone else in the room. Hyper-taught wires and strings that could be cut with a sharp enough wit, loosened with a mere smile, or made to snap all by themselves if tightened too far. Sometimes they could be sticky and one could get entangled in them much the same way a fly could get caught in a web and eventually eaten alive by the resident spider, but sometimes- when plucked in the right way and with the right instruments- they resonated beautifully, like the music of a finely- tuned
The woman leaned against the wall and thrust her hands into her
pockets, her sledgehammer leaning against the wall within close reach of her right hand. She returned Chad's smile and settled back, her air quiet and relaxed as she calmly- if unintentionally- caused her presence in the room to become slightly less noticable and her person even more easily passed over. Now simply playing the role of the spectator in this likely quite cheery little scene within the vast, dark, deeply disturbing play that is life, she smiled slightly and made an attempt to bury even deeper her cynicism and most of her darker thoughts. This, she realised, might turn out to be the beginning of a very important act and it would be a good idea if she shut her brain up for just a few moments and took all of it in.
Nova, realizing that almost everyone had left the room, decided to
leave as well and look for Hikaru. She walked through the many
hallways searching until she came to what appeared to be a garden. In
the garden, she saw Hikaru talking to Lantis. She smiled and started
to go out to see them until she noticed one of the many carvings that
had been engraved into the palace walls. The scene depicted in this
carving was very familiar to Nova: it was of Nova attacking the Magic
Knights and the children in the residential area. It also showed Fuu
protecting the children from Nova's attack with her Guardian Wind
spell. This scene brought forth many more memories into Nova's mind:
when she had destroyed Hikaru's sword, then when she had tried to
bring Hikaru into the darkness by entering her heart, when she had
tried to kill Eagle, and...finally...when she had helped to capture
Lantis, severely wounding him in the process. After this last vision,
she looked out at Hikaru and Lantis, tears beginning to fall from her
eyes. "What am I thinking? I don't deserve to be loved by
Hikaru...not after all I've done..." She then ran back the other way,
tears falling down her face.
After running quite a distance away from the garden, she suddenly
stopped, as if she realized she really had nowhere to run to. Nova
sighed and then sat down on the floor, resting her arms on her knees
and burying her face in her arms, crying even harder then before,
knowing in her heart that she deserved forgiveness from no one.
Chad sighed heavily, the presense of everyone in the room making
things more or less comfortable. Mackey and Neira were smiling and
seemed to have things on their mind also. Chad still remained
friendly and glanced at his brother and nodded. Skyhawk nodded back
and looked at Emeraude. "At loss for words, mother?"
Naomi squirmed her hand out of Emeraudes hand before sitting down while hugging her leg. Resting against Emeraude's leg as she blinked sleepily.