Clef straightened his back pushing off of his chair. Already the morning rays, warming and life giving, paraded through the soft clouds of the Cephirean sky. The gravity of the situation Cephiro was in seemed far and removed. However it was that seemingly distant threat that had kept Clef awake all night. His restless state apparent in his eyes which mirrored the sky on a clear day.

His wear feet carried him slow yet steadily to the main hall where he hoped to catch people as they awoke to thus assign certain task which may further information for their cause if not help explain situations throughout the vast gulf of Cephiro. He would group people into pairs or trios to scout, gather, and study different areas. He had already contacted an old friend who had promised to meet his first team and give them a book of lore which he hoped would inform him of the ancients or at least the pillars. A rare book he had yet to study and eargerly awaiting dispite the hardships facing everyone in the future.

Clef smiled pressing down his rumpled robes. A door to his left swung open as the first person to awaken came out. Clef took a deep breath and bowed his head readying himself for the long day ahead.

Kyoko groaned inwardly as she tried to relieve the pain in her back. She could not recall ever having to sleep on the ground in her entire life and it was an event she never wanted to experience as long as she lived. After straightening out the pained jumble that could once have been called her spine, the girl moved on to the highly agitating task of pulling leaves and twigs out of her thick hair.

"I must have been sleeping on a rock," she muttered under her breath, though she could still call herself lucky for even being able to sleep at all.

For a reason that she could not explain, she had not been able to gain the attention of Mage Clef, not matter how hard she had tried to do so. Perhaps her skills were not yet strong enough to call out to him or maybe he simply had barriers around his mind that could not be penetrated. There were so many possibilities. A sigh caused the teenager's chest to heave greatly, out of both disappointment and wavering hope. What was she going to do now? She stood, gazing up at the castle in silence with the question unanswered.

Suddenly the cold wind of dawn began to warm, and Helios was upon Cephiro. With the first lights of day came the chirping of birds, the steady hiss of steam from breakfast pots where much needed stength would be drawn in readiness for an endless day, and the opening of eyes that had regained much needed strength during the night. Farming implements belched metallic clanks as workers headed for their fields, hoping to find their crops a little better than they had last seen it the previous day. On the streets, shopkeepers methodically disassembled the boards and sundry security devices that had saved their wares from petty thievery, preparing a smile for passers-by that would be displayed for hours to come.

Throughout this lively tableau of Cephironian mornings, the rattle of wood on stone was just one of the many sounds vying for a place in the ear. A black carriage, drawn by a single horse, was traversing the vast expanse of the capital city's main road. A road that led to the Crystal Palace, administrative building of the capital and all Cephiro. Jethro, guiding the horse and seated out in the open, sighed in marvel at the pristine structure's beauty. He urged the horse to move faster still, not wanting Master Drakov to be late.

Thoughts of his lord brought the driver to glance warily over his shoulder, into the passenger's compartment of the carriage. Jethro still could not believe his master had actually come back from Fahren after all those years. To all outside appearances, no human presence was seated there. Total blackness, so dark that it could have been solid, was the sole occupant. The distinct memory of the Baron Drakov stepping into this carriage and ordering him to be taken to the Palace was what kept Jethro from labelling the Baron's return from Fahren as a mere delusion.

As the carriage neared the gates, two government soldiers crossed their spears in an X formation. Jethro whistled and the horse sputtered and came to a stop. The driver directed his voice to behind him, a tad nervously. "I can go no further, Master. We are here."

Shadows in the backseat resolved to form themselves into a tall dark figure that stretched languidly, as if roused from a reverie. "Thank you, Jethro. You made good time reaching here." intoned a low well-modulated voice from that zone of blackness. "Wait for my return." The side door opened, and first down came a pair of black boots and the swish of an elegant dark scarlet cape. The wearer of both raised his head to the sky. The wind whispered open the cape, revealing a dark blue Fahrenian robe such that was worn only by lords of stature on that world.

Much more notable about the clothes was the man's face, and the Baron Drakov's was a remarkable one. Shown in the sunlight were handsome yet firm and cold features, like the stone-chiseled visage of an ancient god of myth. Medium length dark hair, his deepset eyes sparkled keenly but not aggresively, carrying the avian quality of a hawk passively scanning for prey. They alone added animation to the inscrutable countenance.

Jethro stopped a shudder. He could not help but wonder if he served a totally different master now. A master who seemed like the Baron Drakov in all the ways that mattered, yet the uncanny sensation of something not right was ever present.

There was another tap of wood as a walking stick came down. Slowly, almost leisurely, the Baron Drakov approached the two guards, whose eyes were drawn to those of this visitor. Both blinked under the strangely burning gaze and, glancing elsewhere, inquired as to Drakov's purpose. He gave it to them and within seconds was beyond the gates.

The stormy grey eyes that were the Baron's travelled to the right and sighted a young teenaged girl gazing up towards the shining building that was the Palace. She seemed lost. The Baron's face displayed little comment at the sight of the girl, except a slight slowing of gait. A dark presence, an outside essence, washed over Kyoko's mind briefly, like a passing ocean wave.

Thin lips spread in a small knowing smile. The resemblance to the Prince and to the Wind Knight was unmistakable upon close observation. This was not what he voiced out to the young lady however.

"Good morning, young one." called Drakov as he passed along, seeing Kyoko continuing to stare up at the Palace. "Why not come inside? You look tired and hungry, and I am certain the Guru Clef would wish to see you..."

Within the inner hallways, Drakov walked across a red carpet that stretched for meters, leading towards the main room. Sharp burning eyes roved left and right, following the course of the stories told by the engravings along the hall. As he did, faint sunlight shone down on his striding form from beyond the round windows. Stretched across the carpetted floor lay a long patch of darkness that commenced from the feet of the nobleman and terminated in an uncanny elongated silhouette -the profile of the Baron Drakov.

Drakov laid a hand on the large double doors whence the red carpet seemed to stop. There was a whispered creak as it swung open. Across the large room was a small figure in white, carrying in one hand a staff that was at least twice as tall as its owner. Up close, the owner wore a white robe, with wide blue eyes he looked like a child no older than ten. Outside appearances were worthless however, in estimating the man's age. Few, even natives of this world, could have known his actual age. For he was seven hundred forty nine years old.

The Baron Drakov smiled genially and bowed deeply as his eyes briefly met those of Cephiro's most powerful magician. "Guru Clef. It has been...well, years." A warm chuckle escaped his lips. "You get younger every time I see you."

Clef’s eyes widened in surprise but quickly warmed up. “Drakov…” He had not been expecting his first visitor of the day to be his long acquainted friend, Baron Drakov, who had been last reported, lost in his travels. “Forgive me…” His cherub feet prodded him forward lifting up only to place the balls of his feet back down giving him a gliding appearance to anyone watching. “It has been years… Drakov.” Clef’s smile waned in saddened and remorseful thought. “I including the advisory council had thought you perished in your travels for you were gone far longer than ever before. I think them perhaps, perhaps, you had found your stay on Faren pleasant?”

He took in the fine cape and frog button outfit of typical Faren dress. The jacket with silken pants flowing and melting in with the cape. Clef nodded yet his eyes flicked in intensity as they swept over a strange scarlet jeweled ring. It seemed out of place on the Baron even with his recent travels. It was far more otherworldly than the three planets of Cephiro, Autozam, and Faren. “Drakov you really must forgive me for sinking into idle thoughts. It has been long and a weary eve for myself.” His eyes closed. “The advisory council has suggested electing a new member but I see that this is of no concern now that you are back. The Prince I am sure will be delighted to meet you, however, I trust that you have heard that the pillar system has …been dismantled.” Emeruade. Clef almost bemoaned his situation. Emeruade had felt a deep understanding and had a fondness for the Baron’s gifts he often brought back on his travels. “Emeruade-hime… was destroyed by the Magic Knights. I do not know where to start but I shall try.” He waed his staff and watched as a floating chair appeared bobbing up and down in a mythical breeze. “We may be interrupted but my friend please speak and tell me what you know so that we may discuss matters…”

The feeling of unease the unrecognizable stranger gave to Kyoko was one that the girl could not bring herself to shrug off. He had appeared, or at least spoken, to her in a manor that was civil and without any sort of agression, but she still felt strangely uncomfortable in his presense. Perhaps she was only being silly, but one could never be too sure. What startled her even further about this stranger was what he had said to her. How did he know that she wished to meet with Mage Clef? Had he been able to see her very thoughts or had he just made a very correct presumption? Rather then stand around and ponder these things, Kyoko took the advice that had been given her and followed behind the man. She was poliet enough to keep her distance, for fear that she might agrivate him in some way, and allowed herself to take in the atomosphere of the castle. It did not matter how far away she was from where she belonged; she would always feel safe within these walls.

She had come up behind the unusual stranger in a matter of moments, listening slightly to what words were spoken, though she was ashamed for listening in to a conversation that she had no part in. That bothered her very little, however, once she saw a kind, familiar face. Her feet made no movement once she saw Mage Clef, relief and a tiny amount of nervousness spreading throughout her being once she caught sight of him. She wanted to call out to him and hug him, for he had been such a dear friend back home, but she still had the tiny recollection that, even though she knew this man, he did not know her. She stood staring at him with wide, hopeful eyes, unaware if her sudden appearence disrupted their discussion or not. Her voice, refusing to work, only allowed one name to escape from her parted lips.



The tall nobleman smiled graciously and took the conjured seat, but not before gesturing to Clef that he should do the same. Supple fingers reached into the dark blue Fahrenian robe and emerged with a Chizetan pipe. Drakov took some seconds lighting it, and when finished a cloud of red smoke a shade darker than his cape curled upwards. The ignition of the pipe momentarily bathed his face in an orange glow, accentuating the Baron's avian gaze.

Drakov spoke at last after a moment of composition. "There is no need to tell me anything, my friend. My servants told me all upon my return. Right from when the Sol Zagato kidnapped the Princess till now, four years later." He sighed. "The passage of time is a cipher, isn't it, old friend? Within the span of a year after I depart, an old fairy tale of Magic Knights from an another realm is fulfilled and morphs into reality. Then they return to save this world a second time, in a struggle that did not concern them. It shocked me deeply that this much happened while I was away. Indeed there was much I did not recognize when I came home."

Grimly, Drakov's hawkish countenace hardened and the Guru felt a jolt briefly run through him. In all the years he had known his old friend, he'd never experienced such an unsettling eeriness from the Baron. Normally, Drakov was warm and a little chatty. While he did certainly display those qualities Clef had known and valued in his wealthy friend, there was something else to the Baron's personality after four long years of absence. His gaze now seemed hypnotic. His voice had always been smooth and winning, but there was sort some of compelling factor to it.

Clef felt his eyes travel to the entrancing jewel on the Baron's left ring finger as Drakov spoke. The jewel gleamed with celestial illumination, like a bright star. It flashed in multicolored everchanging hues. "But now Cephiro is divided and crumbles once again. Not geographically and in a physical sense, but politically and in a social sense. Families and friends are turning against one another, fighting for ideologies each believes to be the Way. Everyday, a skirmish between any two factions can be expected. Even the government administration begins to feel division."

Drakov shook his head as he puffed again. "Old friend, when I was informed of all that had occured, I regretted ever leaving. I was thinking that had I remained at my post, perhaps I could have made a difference. I could have saved that much more lives, had I been here. Maybe we could have negotiated a way through this conflict we are embroiled in much earlier. But what is done is done. There is more I can do for the future of the world rather than lament over the past. Now I am here to stay and serve Cephiro in my own way."

A thin smile touched his lips as he relaxed back languidly, walking stick tapping lightly. "I should love to meet the Magic Knights, they who saved Cephiro twice. My servants tell me their beauty matches their powerful strength and Will. Such individuals are worthy of praise. I have not seen the Prince in sometime, meeting him would be my pleasure too." He hung his head a moment and Clef knew thoughts of Princess Emeraude were on his mind but he could not voice them.

"I understand each warring faction has chosen a champion." he continued. "I thought it best to inform you that the town under my rule, Mirage, has chosen no champion and in fact is so far neutral about this entire war." The reason for Drakov's town's name was mainly because of its size. Arguably the smallest in all Cephiro, it was generally forgotten it even existed in the eyes of most of the populace. For one to say the town was even on a map would be to be told he was seeing a mirage, hence the name.

"I expect there is more you and I can discuss now. However, Guru Clef, I fear I am taking valuable time. Someone has been waiting for a long while to speak with you. Since last night in fact." Drakov craned his head over his shoulder and cast a charming smile across the room to Kyoko, who stood by the still opened doorway. "Come young lady. Don't be shy." The Baron stood out of his seat so Kyoko could take it if she wished.

Hikaru was getting worried. She hadn't seen Nova since the day before and she wondered where her other half had been the entire time. 'I really should've kept a better eye on her. I was being selfish...I forgot I wasn't the only one that was worried or had problems,' she thought. The red haired girl continued to roam the hallways of the castle, hoping that Nova wasn't hurt or worse yet.

"Nova? Where are you?"

Nova slowly lifted her head up, hearing Hikaru call out her name and feeling deep in her heart that Hikaru was very worried about her. But Nova still could not bring up the courage to face Hikaru after all she had done. She was no longer crying, but her face was still soaked from her tears and her eyes were still a little red. "I want to see Hikaru...but what if my being around her puts her in danger...I don't want that..." She continued to sit against the wall, seemingly deep in thought.

Kyoko felt her cheeks burning in embarassment once she had realized her presence had been noted. She was rather ashamed of herself for having been listening in on their conversation, but her thoughts had been wandering and she had missed most of what the two had exchanged. However, knowing that it was of great importance for her to speak to Mage Clef, she took a deep breath and stepped in to the room.

The young woman stepped up to Baron Dracov and bowed to him, her face still set aflame for having to have interrputed them. This man was one that she could not remember ever meeting and, even though she tended to feel uncomfortable when amongst strangers, she knew that he had given her help in finally confronting the man she had been wanting to see.

"I'm sorry if I have troubled you at all, Sir. I'm very sorry to both of you for interrupting and I hope you can forgive me. is true that I need to speak to Clef-san. Thank you for noticing my distress, Sir." Kyoko raised her head and gave the tall stanger a soft smile, causing the resemblence to her mother to shine through her own unique physical features.

She turned her head to look over at Clef, her face holding a sort of relief and a sense of comfort in being close to him. As she had done to the Baron, she flashed Clef a smile, though it seemed to be a tiny bit more insecure compared to the one she had given Dracov. How was she to tell him of her identity and purpose for being here? Most importantly, how would she bring him to believe her?

Chad rose out of bed slowly, his eyes squinting to the sunlight that was beaming through his window. He grumbled a little looking away from the light and to the door. He walked around, trying to wake himself up. He took a few glances around, noticing some of his clothes were gone. He had guessed that a maid or something had come and took them to be washed. He put on some of the Cephirean clothes left for him and he moved his arms and legs around a little getting used to the fabric. "This fabric is pretty cool. It's light enough for me to move quickly around in, and it seems pretty strong. I guess this is what I'll be going on a mission in, perhaps." He said to himself doing a few stretches. He was prepared to face the new day ahead of him, but what about last night? What happened previously? He tried to remember, his meeting with his mother happened at last, but it was really foggy. Was he that tired last night? Was his mind so full of other stuff he couldn't even pay attention to his own mother, whom had been on his mind along with his father almost his entire life? He shook his head in disappointment and then thought that it would all come back to him later in the day, when he was fully awake, and maybe his stomach was in better condition. It almost sounded like a monster with it's roars of hunger. He chuckled and walked out his room, glancing around. A girl was neary, sitting by a wall, she had looked like she was crying previously. He walked over to Nova and kneeled down carefully. "Hey.....Hey, are you alright? What's wrong?"

Elsewhere in the castle, Kyle was already dressed in his usual clothes. He had carried an extra pair with him in case he ever was to stay on a mission overnight. He was doing his own stretches preparing himself for his own mission. He let out a slight smile as he prepared for his day, remembering the emotion that was let on last night from his brother and his mother. A slight chuckle escaped, as he stopped stretching and placed his visor over his bright blue eyes. He flicked his long white hair behind him and turned to the door walking out, ready to leave. "They can do this without me. I'm sure the plenty of them are strong enough." He said to himself walking to the castle door. He stopped and looked back. "See you around, Chad. Farewell for now, mother. I'll be back." He had hoped that no one had seen or heard him as he slipped out the front door.

In the garden nearby, someone's morning wasn't as cheerful and hopeful as the others. A fist came crashing down on some stone blocks, shattering them with ease. The fist belonged to none other than Megor Ryuuzaki. He tilted his head to the sides quickly, popping the bones in his neck, as he prepared for more training. He had been up since the sun had first peeked over the horizon. And immediatly, with no food in his stomach, he had started training. Unlike Chad, the only growl emitting from him was the growls of his own voice as he destroyed more of the stone blocks he had gathered. Disappointed with this challenge, he spun around to face a monster resembling a bear that had snuck in the garden for it's own breakfast. Megor's face nearly twisted in disgust at the presense of this challenger for his life. He started walking towards the creature, but after a few steps, it had realized what it was up against, and headed for higher grounds. Megor's eyes closed and his teeth gritted in anger. "You never start something that you don't plan to finish, you fool." With that, he vanished and appeared in front of the creature, ready to deliver the final blow.

Just then, a faint chuckle was heard from above, where Mackey stood on a balcony overlooking the courtyard. Having been awakened by the sound of Megor's training just outside, she had been watching him almost the entire time. All she recalled of the night before was that she had become exceedingly tired (you get that way when you've been awake for nearly twenty-four consecutive hours) and had ended up with her own room. She leaned on the railing and grinned at Megor.

"Ah, picking on poor, defensless, murdering hellspawn of half your strength, are we? Should I give you a medal or a cookie?" Without warning, the woman lept from the ledge and landed gracefully on the grass below, weilding a sledgehammer in her right hand. Her clothes had appearently gone the same way as Chad's as she was wearing what likely more or less passed for a tee-shirt in Cephiro and a pair of blue slacks. Leaning on her weapon, she opened her mouth to make another wise-ass remark and then thought better of it and simply said, "I'll bet you're just cranky because you're hungry and it took four hours and both of your brain cells for you to realize that rocks don't taste very good. What say we go inside and see what there is to eat, hmm? I promise that it'll taste better than rocks or monsters."

It was at about that moment that Mackey realised what she had just said and that it probably wasn't much better than what she had been going to say in the first place. With a gleam in her eye and an inward chuckle, she turned towards the palace and headed in. It mattered not as, after all, those who cannot laugh at themselves deserve to be laughed at.

As she walked, a well-trained eye would note that her muscles were almost imperceptibly tensed in anticipation of an attack from behind.

Megor stood there in surprise at what was just said to him. He let it soak in that someone had just dared insult him and not only that, but turned their back to him afterwards. Megor started to open his mouth in retaliation, but stopped, still in slight shock. He turned his back and looked around, blinking a few times and pondering what was wrong with Mackey. He turned back and started to say something again and stopped another time. Finally, he sighed and shook his head. Perhaps he was a little too anxious to fight that morning. He looked back at the creature who was still running and pointed his finger towards it as a warning. He then followed Mackey, eventually catching up to her. "Is it everyday that you risk you life insulting those you know nothing about?" He said casting his brown eyes over towards her. "Do you look to killed, or are you that disrespectful naturally?"

He said with a slight grin. The two headed inside where there was food to be found. He glanced over at Chad, who was just walking in. Chad nodded and smiled at Megor. "Good morning, Mackey. Good morning Megor." He said still trying to fully wake up. Megor nodded in return at Chad's kindness and spoke himself. "I take it you slept well. You're going to need all the rest you can get for the missions ahead. They're not going to be a mere school day." Chad nodded. "I know. I hope that I'll be able to pull these missions of with no deaths involved." Megor frowned at this. "What kind of missions do you suspect we're going on? Information gathering? Tea sipping? We're going to stop a war, not play patty-cake! Train yourself to prepare to kill at all costs, not make friends!"

Chad chuckled. "I see someone woke up on the wrong side of bed, didn't we? Be careful, all that pent up aggression will end up giving you a heart attack in the middle of a mission! I don't want to have to run in and catch the falling cloaked guy in midair while he's checking out one of the countries, alright?" He said laughing a little. Megor wasn't at all amused. "I think you'd best watch your own back. The enemies we're going to face off against aren't kids in a martial arts contest. They're high ranking officials, all of them boasting great skill and challenges. I doubt you'd be able to handle any of them on your own. So don't give me suggestions until you're the perfect warrior yourself!" Megor growled a little annoyed.

Chad continued smiling. "Hey, I don't plan to be the perfect warrior. I plan to end a war. If I wanted to be the best fighter in the world, I'd have used my sensei's technique scrolls to train with. I only needed one, and that's all I'm going to use." Megor stopped. "Who is your sensei?" "Was." Chad said looking down. "His name was Jamar Ryuuzaki. He was known as the desert ghost. He had adopted me when I had landed on Earth in the dead desert. He was killed in an incident many years ago with an organization named Black Lo..." Chad stopped and looked at Megor. Megor's face was intensely staring at Chad's. Chad blinked and run his hand across his face. "Is there something on my face?" Chad asked.

Megor's teeth clenched as he glared angrily towards Chad. "So you were his student. My name is Megor Ryuuzaki. I'm the first son of Jamar and Ulira Ryuuzaki. They had one son, and one daughter. Her name was Umi. The blue haired girl you see walking about is my sister. She doesn't know yet, and she probably doesn't need to. Jamar was indeed a great martial artist from what I've heard, and I plan to do him proud as a warrior. I've never got the chance to meet him, and I've always wondered what kind of warrior he really was." Megor said glaring still. Chad nodded. "He was one of honor. He was a former member of Black Lotus, until they changed the leader or something. He turned against them and fought against them to help save me when I was kidnapped. I'm sorry, Megor, it's my fault he's dead. If he hadn't saved me, I probably would have been a member and he would have been left alone." He said bowing his head in disappointment. Megor growled in a low tone.

"So my father died saving a kid like you. He died for what? Black Lotus is still running around, aren't they? He died for nothing. Nothing! What is your name, anyway?" Chad looked up. "Chad...My name is Chad. What do you ask?" Megor was now clenching his fists so hard, his knuckles were cracking. "I want to know the name of the only student my father had ever had. I want to know the name of the boy that knew my father better than I did. I want to know the name.......of the boy I will rival for the rest of eternity." Chad let out a low gulp at this remark. He didn't know now whether to see Megor as an ally....or an enemy. He silently awaited his breakfast as did Megor. Both individuals did not take their eyes off of one another.

Umi cleared her throat, still groggy from sleep. “I trust everyone slept well.” She didn’t want to intrude on the conversation however it happened to be right outside her doorway. It was really the first time she had taken sight of Mackey and obviously curious as to everyone who had come from Earth she stepped up to the gathering. Her eyes noting Megor’s clinched fist and his last words range in the back of her mind. Umi turned to him with a fleeting smile. “Rival?” She sighed and rubbed her eyes, flashes of Cephiro four years ago and later greeted her just behind her lids. “Clef wanted us to gather at the great hall… I think.” A grim face stood where her waning smile had been.

Ascot. Umi covered half her face, at best adding some rose to her pale cheeks instead of waking herself up more by gently rubbing her face with her hands. Ascot did not want to be a Champion. It was a revealing look into his mind. She chuckled out loud already elsewhere instead of mentally with Megor, Chad, and Mackey. “Excuse me…” Umi darted back into her room and came out with a large hat with an emerald jewel embedded on the top rim.


Clef paused momentarily noting Drakov’s expressions, words, and actions before turning to the girl who had stood quietly in the background befuddled with, and perhaps mewling over dilemmas. “Please do not apologize. My services are of use for…” The words meant to be spoken next were ‘the Cephirean people’ but the sudden realization that the girl much like the Knights and the newer arrivals from Earth seemed and gave off a signal of other-worldlyness.

“Something worries you child…” His eyes furrowed in worry yet still he remained tuned into Drakov.

Neira awoke as the first rays of the morning hit her square in the face. Her nose wrinkled and her eyes shut even tighter to block them out. She rolled over, pulling the covers tighter around her. Finally the warmth of Helios enveloped the room, pushing the girl from her groggy state and out of bed.

She rid herself of her attire - as she had not bothered to change from the previous evening before going to bed - and pulled fresh clothes from a small, wooden trunk at the foot of her bed. As she did so a tiny, metal tub appeared. It floated several inches off the ground in the middle of the room. Magically it filled with water and soap bubbles before setting itself on the ground. But the bath did not last long and her clothes were donned quickly. Her burgundy hair was left down, as she preferred. She gave herself only a single glance in the mirror before heading out of her room and into the palace.

Her two-tone blue robes swished around her bare ankles as she walked, her feet padding lightly on the smooth surface of the floor. She would do her usual morning routine: a bit of breakfast then out into the garden to practice. It was always best to practice early in the morning when no one was around to watch. She thought of the spells she would practice that morning while another part of her mind wondered in a different direction.

A pang of guilt clenched her stomach as she entered the kitchen. She had left Mackey and the others without saying goodbye. It was poor manners, she knew, but what was occurring had nothing to do with her. It was obviously a family affair. And she didn't like intruding. Besides, time would be kind enough to allow them to meet again soon. So she shadow merged into the wall and made her way thought the palace back to her room. Thankfully, there were plenty of evening shadows so she wouldn't get stuck in the wall again.

After rummaging through the kitchen for her breakfast, Neira wondered the hallway again. Delicately, she bit into her muffin, her eyes and mind wondering once more. Without realizing it, her feet had taken her to the Grand Foyer. And the door was ajar. With her free hand, she pushed at the slightly open door. She paused in the doorway when she heard voices. Violet eyes scanned the room. Master Mage Clef was entertaining guests. She cringed inside. Again she was intruding. Perhaps she needed to sleep just one more day....

But when she should've turned away, her eyes locked onto Baron Drakov. She had never seen him before, yet she recognized the regal robes he wore. She hoped that her parents hadn't sent for her, although he looked nothing like a messenger to Neira. Perhaps if she waited in the doorway long enough she would find out for certain....

Hikaru kept walking through the hallways until she had spotted a fluff of pink hair. She sighed, 'thank goodness she is alright.' Hikaru noted the tear streaked face of her other half and frowned.

"Nova, are you ok? We are supposed to meet Clef in the Grand Foyer and I didn't want to go anywhere without seeing that you come with me. Nova? It hurts to see you like this..."


Mackey offered Umi a helpless but obviously friendly smile as if the last thing she wanted to do right now was stand in between two little boys who looked as if they were about to duke it out right there in the hallway.

"Oh, yay, that sounds like fun," She said, looking and sounding all of twelve years old, "First, I think we need to get some food, though, before Megor tries to eat Chad." Leading the way in the vague direction in which she seemed to remember the kitchen and main hall lay, she added, "Besides, everyone knows that people only taste good when served medium rare with ketchup. And I've heard blood doesn't make a good substitute, either."

Kyoko held her breath for a moment, trying to think of the proper words to speak. She had so much to say, but she had practically no idea of how to form a proper sentence. She was slightly uncomfortable with Drakov standing in the same room, but only due to the fact that she didn't know if him knowing her secret would change things. Some sense, however, told her that maybe he already knew. Perhaps that was why he made her feel so uneasy. He had known exactly what it is she wished to do and that was hard for her to explain, so it was a possibility that he already knew who she was.

The blond-haired female simple hung her head, expelling her held breath, as she came to the decision that it didn't matter if he knew or not. She needed Clef's help and she would not be able to receive it if she stood in complete silence forever.

"You are correct, Clef-san. I'm afraid I am worried that what you are about to hear might not be easy to believe. However, I need your help and you are the only person I can trust. Please tell me that you will listen to what I have to say with an open mind and that you will be able to help me. I'm sorry to ask such a thing of you, but it is what I was sent to ask. Are you willing to hear my secret and why I was sent to you?"

Kyoko fell in to silence, twisting her hands tightly with her unease, oblivious to the fact that her palms were turning red and that her fingers nails had begun to puncture her skin, causing a few small trickles of blood to flow. She could only pray that he would understand.


Keen eyes that belonged to the Baron caught the thin lines of blood trickling from the girl's palms. A warm sympathetic smile creased the impassive visage and carefully took Kyoko's hands, wiping them dry with a blue handkerchief. "What ails you, child? Don't be afraid, I'm certain Clef will hear you out." She clearly wished to tell the Guru something but was wary of the Baron's presence, wondering what would happen if he heard.

Best to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Drakov turned to Clef, eyes in a concerned line. "Perhaps if I were to distance myself, Guru Clef? She seems to want to speak something for your ears only. I'll come back when you're through." He sketched a short bow, then with a swish of the crimson cape, moved towards the doorway and leaned against the wall, folding his arms.

His eyes craned to the right and spotted Neira whose eyes had somewhat been nervously watching him. Drakov wordlessly observed her for some moments, sharp eyes seeming to glow with an inner light as they ouched Neira's, then he smiled again, at length. "Would you happen to be of the Eco lineage, young lady? I have been to your world before, and I have a penchant for remembering faces. Yours seems vaguely familiar, from my visits to the noble households of Fahren such as the Ecos."

Naomi appeared at Emeraude and Zagato's tomb, she smiled slightly "Papa... Mama's come back so why haven't you? I wish you would.." she said stroking the large wolf beside her

The gentle words of the sweet girl summoned the soul of the high priest of Cephiro, which wandered in the depths of hell. A long hard way the deprived soul had to cross in order to returned to the cursed land of the living and only a dim light of hope from Naomi's heart lightened the path, great power lurks inside the body of the girl but it is not great enough as to bring someone back from death.

The pathetic shriek of the damned claimed the soul of the traveler as restless voices from distant dimensions and realms echoing all over the unholy place, "Don't leave us!" "You belong to us!" creepy voices clamoured as if they wanted to discourage the brave and lonely soul, but the vision of Emeraude, for whom he had offered his life gave him the strength it needed to achieve the so hoped goal, to return to the arms of his beloved and quench his thirst for vengeance.

A strange and dark energy cloud formed above the tomb, the figure of a woman appeared gathering evil thoughts of anger and pain, creating a faithful copy of the high priest's body, "My new son, open your eyes!" lifeless without a soul, the forsaken and cursed new creation of evil lay in a deep and endless sleep, suddenly as if it had awoken from a bad dream, the bloodshot eyes of Zagato opened widely showing despair and hate, anger filled his heart and a ravenous desire of revenge had given birth to an unholy heart for a priest turning his pure love into the creepiest form of envy and lust.

Using his pale hands, the son of evil moved the stone cover of his coffin, old cephirean signs were carved on the stone, "Thou hast deceived the land that gave you birth,Betrayed friends and gave death to them as thou pleased,Cursed be your eternal rest, Away from the one you ever loved"

(*shivers* Dracula!) raising from the shadows, his body was weak, covered with a dark purple cloak and the sacred plate made of kusto Princess Emeraude gave to him. The mysterious cloak was indeed given to him long time ago by Guru Clef, the dirty and bloodstained cloak made of a sacred fabric protects the user from elemental magic spells. On his right left arm a gauntlet covers completely his hand, many gems decorate such a beautiful piece of art, 12 white like pearl gems rounded a gem that shone with an eerie glimmer, a strange seal is carved within the stone preventing the use of the most powerful weapon in Cephiro, the mighty lance Adralmeck. But that seal was used to prevent thieves and tomb raiders from stealing the magic powers of the defunct.

With a simple twist of his wrist, Zagato created a simple magic spell of non-elemental force known as gravity which crushed the left stone wall of the tomb, "My beloved Emeraude" the strong and evil voice of Zagato silenced the sound of the falling rocks of the wall. Finally, light appeared and illuminated the inside of the tomb

Naomi spun around knowing someone's was there, she looked around and finally spotting him she ran over "hey are you alright?" not recognizing that it was Zagato yet, she backed up surprised then continued to go over "hey. you look hurt, let me help, you need to rest, and probably eat something. " she whistled and in a white fog a white wolf appeared, dropping a bag by them. Naomi rummaged through the bag and got some soft meat and some fruit. "here," she said, handing them to him smiling. She was really surprised when she got a good look at him but didn't show it. not wanting to alarm him.

a screech came from the red jewel on the man's hand and it sounded like a strange and creepy voice, "Feed me with her soul..." the voice said unleashing a tremendous beam of energy which sought the little girl as if trying to wrap her, this was not gentle warm energy but an evil source of power.

Naomi cursed and felt herself weaken but then shielded herself, holding it long enough for the power to pass then collapsing, not quite unconscious : a gross lance appeared at the hand of the lonely man, "feed me!" the weapon cried out, using the arm of his host to start an attack, aiming directly to the heart of Naomi, Adralmeck rejoiced waiting for the right moment in which it could taste the sweet flavor of the girl's soul...

moro jumped out and at him, tackling him while biting Zagato's arm to make him let go of the lance if he continued to hold the lance moro only bit deeper as naomi laid there trying to get up : The lance could have taken control of Zagato's arm but it would never defeat his powerful heart, "Adralmeck..." Zagato said dropping the cursed lance, and as soon as it touched the ground it vanished in midst air becoming a red beam that entered the glove of the stranger. : Moro let go of his arm growled at him a voice rang through his head 'Your that girls father! You should act like her father as well!!' Moro yelled into his head before going to wash the blood away. Naomi finally sat up, holding her head "I know who you are. just like i know who I am even though I shouldn't. I'm naomi, and as moro said, I'm your daughter." she said as she messaged her temples His black eyes focused on the little girl called Naomi, and after analyzing her hair style and skin color, he finally understood what she was saying, that would also explain his lost of memory ... "So All my efforts were in vain, I couldn't protect Emeraude..." Zagato sighed and crumbled to the ground, a bitter tear of suffering appeared under his eyes...

"Mama's alive. both you and her were resurrected somehow" she said and went up to him, falling onto his lap and curling up to him

Shocked by the news Zagato took little Naomi with his strong arms and kissed her forehead, his last wish before dying was the creation of a child who could help this forsaken land after he passed away, but even though he had returned to cephiro, his heart couldn't rest at ease, forgetting all the troubles he had caused. "This land has changed, I cant feel the presence of the pillar anymore" Zagato whispered at Naomi's ears trying not to disturb the young girl he tried to hurt a while ago, "You have done well brave Moro, you will be rewarded for your loyal service" touching the fur on top of Moro's head, starting to pat the noble wolf, Moro was a magic creature like innova with teleporting powers and great speed, hidden in the shadows mumbles could be heard...

Naomi sighed happily and snuggled close "I've been alone for so long... Moro's been there but its not the same as having a mother or father.... I'm glad your here papa..." she mumbled "Mama's at the palace helpin'..." she said and yawned curling her small body into his embrace, not wanting him to let go

Moro growled in the direction of the shadows while Naomi explained what happened "after you and mama died there was a big battle then at the end of it Hikaru, the leader of the magic knights, ended as pillar. she also ended the pillar system so everyone now holds the world together. but mama is alive, i saw her myself." she continued to mumbled

A group of thieves had hear rumors about the magic gauntlet of Zagato, and had decided to pay a visit to the tomb of the dead priest to steal the precious object, those were the minions of the gangster Moochi leader of the "Insurrection", a revolutionary movement, under the leadership of Kraven the evil minions prepared to attack, "Show no Mercy and bring me the gauntlet" the strange creature said commanding the aggressive gang of thugs who want to steal the precious magic object on the man's hand, Aware of the incoming danger, Zagato took naomi back on his arms and covered her with the magic cloak on his back, "Don't be scared, I'll take care of this" recovering his strong voice and attitude, Zagato got ready for the battle, "Moro, take Naomi with you, I'll see you at the castle", gathering his remaining strengths, Zagato prepared his mind for an outstanding attack of ice elemental magic, "Spirits that shivers in the night, lend me your power to strike the heart of those who will attack!" shouting the word "Arile" Zagato expected to unleash the thousand ice nails spell Guru Clef taught him but instead he created a small ball of ice that melted in a matter of seconds, his large face showed the agony his heart was going through, without his magic he couldn't protect Naomi from the thieves who approached, rage burned on his eyes as fire from hell.

Moro snorted but tried to drag Naomi with her. Well... She tried, but the girl had too much fighting spirit. She immediately ran at the thieves, though instead of magic she used martial arts, it took a bit but she knocked the first wave of assassins, getting hurt as well but not noticing it. She stood there, hands on her knees as she panted for breath. Soon she was coughing

Using his last resource, Zagato called Adralmeck, the cursed lance, but just before he could raise his hand a poisoned arrow stroke his shoulder preventing Adralmeck to enter the battle, "Naomi, no!" Zagato yelled catching exhausted naomi, his beloved daughter was injured, "You will get well, don't worry" without noticing the effects of the poison on his body, Zagato took naomi with him.

Naomi coughed for a while before finally relaxing "papa.... your hurt...." she said as she placed a hand on his shoulder next to the arrow

Zagato tried to leave the cursed place at all cost being aware of the incoming danger, the sound of trumpets announced Moochi's minions following them through the Arl woods, "its nothing" he said, a small green whirlwind healed naomi's injures, but this simple spell could not destroy the toxins of the poison... Zagato's vision started to blur and in seconds he lost his strengths falling like and old oak in the forest, hundreds of thieves approached, searching for vengeance, ravenous savage hordes of monsters laughed and sang in one voice as they got closer to them, "Moro, promise me you will take her to the palace, tell Emera...u ...d" his life was vanishing once again, without recovering from his first injures, Zagato was loosing a simple battle against a bunch of savages..." leave me here, naomi"

Naomi yelped and protected herself. she rolled him over, stumbling up and got the arrow out, sighing as she worked quickly with her own medicines. spreading a paste on a leaf then covering the wound with the leave before putting his armor back over and sighing "Papa, don't make a scene, you will stay alive or I will go down to the pits of hell and yell at you." she said as she pressed the paste more into the wound.

Even though Naomi had tried to heal his father, the toxin of the poison was too persistent consuming the remaining energy on the wounded body of the high priest, "Kill the girl and the Dog but do not touch the high priest" with thin and disgusting voice Moochi the assassin had dispatched his men to do the dirty job, and since he is nothing more than a fat ball of dirt, he stayed behind to witness the battle in which he would earn a magnificent treasure

Naomi fought to protect her father, she might of been short but she was fast. "I won't let you take my father" she said through gritted teeth.

"Moro, take her with you!" Zagato used his last spell knocking down his own flesh (and I mean Naomi), "Please forgive me, but I wont let you die in here" the grief on Zagato's face was huge but his heart had to get rid of that burden if he wanted to survive... Moro quickly scooped Naomi onto her back and ran off, fast than the men could catch.

The sixteen year old girl called Kyoko stared down at her palms, her eyes examining the tiny puncture wounds she had managed to inflict on herself. Now that she knew they were there, the tiny sting of the cuts began to call out to her, causing an involuntary hiss to escape from her lips. Dispite the stinging sensation she felt, Kyoko smiled, glancing in the direction in which Drakov had left. He was a very kind man or so it seemed to be. She would have to repay him for how he had helped her, no matter how small his actions had been.

Rather then become lost in her own thoughts, Kyoko redirected her attention to Clef, her smile faltering slightly. The time had come for her to finally begin her new journey. With a hopeful heart and steadfast determination, as well as the help of Mage Clef if he believed her, maybe she would be able to help those in this world, in this time, that were suffering. Perhaps, she would be able to make some difference in aiding with the hardships that lie ahead. For her to do that, however, she had to make Clef trust her.

"Thank you for being willing to listen, Clef-san. I suppose you must already sense that I am not of this world, or at least of this time. That much is true. Who I am and how I have come to be here may sound far fetched, but I speak the absolute truth." Kyoko paused, watching Clef's face to see if his expression changed at all as she spoke. "You have never met me before; that much is certain, but I have known you since the day I was old enough to start holding memories. I was sent here to offer assistance to those who are struggling in this world. You, Clef-san, are the one who sent me here now."

Megor and Chad finished their meals and headed towards the great hall walking almost side by side. "I wonder where Kyle went?" Chad asked glancing around a bit. Did you see him this morning?" Megor stared straight ahead, his cloak covering his lower face as he walked. "No, I'm a warrior, not a babysitter. Why would I want to keep up with your brother? If he wishes to go off on his own then that's his decision." Chad smiled. "I guess you saw him, but he told you not to tell anyone where he was going or what he was doing. How would you know he was gone off on his own unless you saw him leave?" Megor tched as they continued walking. "Does everyone enjoy pointing out my faults?" Megor asked stopping at the Great Hall. Chad nodded. "Everyone tries to lighten you up a little. You're way too serious and that stress like I said earlier can really be bad for you. There's no doubt in my mind that you are a strong guy, but if your body's not relaxed, you won't be as effective and as limber. Your moves will be all stiff." Megor nodded. "True, I suppose. I guess you're a martial artist after all. But stiff is fine by me. I enjoy strength more than speed. Brute force always wins my battles." Chad nodded at this. "To each his own, I guess. Let's see what Clef wants." As they started to walk in, the boy stopped. He thought for a few moments about some other things and then shook the thoughts off. He went inside awaiting Clef's orders.

Kyle passed Naomi and Moro as they sped by Moro carrying Naomi, who seemed to be distraught about something. Kyle looked ahead to see where they were coming from and spotted a tomb-like area. He smiled slightly and spoke softly. "Looks like it wasn't just a hunch after all. Father's back." He said walking towards the tomb. He walked through until he caught up to Zagato who had been knocked down by a bunch of what appeared to be thugs of Cephiro. Kyle kneeled down next to Zagato and an emotionless facial expression came over him. "Allow me." Kyle stood up and faced the men who were starting to walk towards Zagato. "That's quite enough, gentlemen. I believe that he wants no part of whatever you have planned for him. I'll be taking him with me. You can leave dead.........or alive. It matters none to me whatsoever." Kyle said placing his hand cannons towards the men. His shades glimmered as his white hair blew behind him. "What is it going to be? It's your call."

"The baby wants to play" fat, big and dumb was the look of who could win the contest of the ugliest cephirean in the universe, mocking of the young fellow who was ready to risk his own life for the man on the floor "Har har har" intimidating laughs and hundreds of eyes stared at him surrounding the brave one. His martial arts skills and physical strength could come in handy to survive the attack of the savage thieves, but only magic could help him to save the man lying on the ground. "Youngster, We wont leave without this man, dont force my men to take your life... I hate bloodsheds", Kraven the leader of Moochi's army warned kyle about the outcome of the battle, "You can kill all of my men, but this battle will make you weary and I dont see any of your friends around here to save you" the tyrant smirk on Kraven's face intensified the tension in both bands, howls of savage beasts under moochi's command could be heard at the distance, Zagato's return had triggered the revolutionary movement "Insurrection" in which the cruelest villains had taken control of a great army of savage beasts and sinful cephireans to destroy the so called "Royalty" of Cephiro. once again a screech coming from Zagato's gauntlet said "Feed me, only with my magic you can defeat this men, open your heart" unaware of the terrible peril kyle considers the offer of the cursed voice while the first horde of assassins prepares to strike!

Kyle chuckled. "A talking sword? How strange. However. You claim that only magic will defeat them? I doubt it seriously. I think I'll stick to pierce energy." With that said, Kyle blasted at one of the men, piercing his heart with the beam. He pulled his arm back with a smirk. "Besides..I open my heart to no one. Not weapons, not friends, not even family. Black Lotus Code, you understand." He said continuing to blast away more men. "I would suggest, my ugly friend, that you take your pile of dirt with you if you want to save your friends' lives." Kyle said blasting a few more and halting for a moment. "As for your beasts I'm hearing. I'd suggest you take them with you as well. I have plenty of pierce energy for the lot of you. I might run out eventually.....But by then, I'm sure my teleportation will do me fine. Let me give you a rather quick example." Kyle said smiling still. He grabbed Zagato and attempted to teleport, unaware that Ragyn had taken the ability from him. Kyle's face turned rather grim when he saw this. "What?! The battle with Ragyn...that was the last time I....DAMMIT!" Kyle placed his hand cannon back at the men and started firing rapidly, taking one after the other down. Eventually, all of them were either dead or seriously wounded. Kyle had the hand cannon pointed straight at Kraven. "I'm not going to say again. Leave now and let me take this man with me." He glanced at Zagato for a moment. "If you have any way to teleport, I would suggest you use that now. We don't have much time, and my pierce energy is going to run out eventually." His long white hair blew behind him as he turned to Zagato, who was still suffering from the effects of the poison. He glanced at Zagato's gauntlet. "I'm beginning to think feeding you is becoming a pretty good idea." He said, his smile returning a little.

Neira tensed as she saw Drakov rise from his chair and walk away. Something private was apparrently taking place. She took one step backward, the gnawing feeling of intruding washing over her once again. In her own mindless state, she had ignored the Baron's movements. She was startled when he spoke to her, her eyes pools of deep violet. She blinked several times, taking in what it was he had said. So he had only visited her homeworld. Relief began to spread through her and she sighed audibly.

The girl opened her mouth to speak then snapped it shut quickly. Sometimes she forgot just what it was her voice could do. Sighing again, this time in resignation she allowed her thoughts to flow to his mind.

//I am,// she replied with a curt nod and a polite bow. Her hair slid from her shoulders to cover her face, then settled again as she stood up. //I am Lady Neira Eco, daughter of Grand Duke Lecrois. I was...surprised by your attire, my lord. It is not often that we receive visitors from my homeworld.//

She eyed the Baron carefully. If he was not from Fahren, then where was he from? And more importantly, who was he? He must've been someone of great importance for Guru Clef to accept him so early in the day. An old friend, perhaps? //Please, tell me who I have the honor of addressing.//