Pale blue eyes blinked in faint confusion at Kyoko's words. What could this girl mean? The only people in all his seven hundred forty nine years who he had ever summoned to Cephiro were the Magic Knights. "I...called you here? I don't understand. Perhaps if you could enlighten me..." said the Guru Clef.

Cephiro's most powerful sorceror suddenly groaned and held a hand to his forehead, hunched forward on his seat. A frightening wave of energy, more like a tide of pain and anger, violated his mind and senses. It caused him to reel in nausea, reeking of Death's stench and tainted with hell's scum as it was. The Guru caught himself, gripping white-knuckled the edges of his chair.

Something, some evil presence had come to life on their very world. Was this a manifestation of the one named Ragyn? No. He had felt that being's presence before. This wasn't it.

A cold hand seemed to grasp Clef's heart, as he suddenly rose and brought his staff down, mumbling a word under his breath. There was a sound like rumbling thunder, and when it died, everyone who had been scattered around the castle now stood within the Grand Foyer. "I apologize for having to bring you all here so suddenly." explained Clef, directing his voice about the room and mopping sweat from his brow. "But I'm afraid dire circumstances have warranted my action."

Kyoko had been alarmed by Clef's sudden change in demeanor, confused as to what had suddenly happened to him. She could sense it, however. Something within her felt that there was a darkness looming nearby, something evil that she could not fully grasp. And it scared her, more then anything ever had before. The young woman stepped forward, paying little mind to the others in the room after seeing Clef's distress. She placed an arm behind his shoulders and knelt beside him. Any sudden expression of surprise or discomfort that her closeness might have caused were easily ignored. She kept her grip on him gentle, but firm.

"Please do not be alarmed by me, Clef-san," She whispered to him. "I can sense your distress and I see that you have been physically shaken by it, so lean on me if you need to. We can speak of how I came here later. In the meantime, please, just trust me. I'll look after you if need be."

Kyoko gave Clef another one of her soft smiles, once again brining out her resemblence to Fuu, and turned her head to the others in the room, preparing herself as well as she could if she were to see her mother and father present there.

The inhuman tide of the Abyss peaked and pattered about the Baron Drakov's mind like gravel in a whirlwind. Such pain and raw hatred concealed for years beneath the soil...screaming from the pits of eternal damnation. Instinctively, the Baron's hands disappeared within the folds of his cape. A combat analyst would have conjectured the Baron bore a concealed weapon beneath. A steely look of determination and wariness crossed the Baron's hawk-faced visage. His grey eyes flashed momentarily into a burning pupil-less verdant gaze, with the speed of a fleeting thought. So swiftly and briefly had Drakov's eyes gleamed ghostlike, that when Neira caught the strange occurence, she treated what she thought she'd seen as an illusion. A trick of the light in the room.

The mind behind Drakov's face, a keen mind that did not belong to the real Baron, attempted to reach out and probe for the sickening presence, but it had faded as quickly as it had shown itself.

After a few seconds, following a rumble of thunder, various people from all over the Palace were now strewn about the Grand Foyer in various stages of confusion and surprise. The Magic Knights were all here, as were their allies such as the Bal Ascot and the Ral Caldina, among the many people he remembered from his brief dive into Hikaru Shidou's mind.

Drakov's strange piercing gaze swept the room slowly and finally rested on a sleek muscled youth with a crop of blond hair over his eyes. His fists were slightly clenched and he seemed a tad nervous. Unmistakable it was, however, that he was ready to leap at the chance to help with Cephiro's problems.

Thin lips parted into an equally thin smile. Above those lips, grey eyes fixed on the young man. Sixteen years flew fast. The Desert Ghost's adopted son had grown. And grown well he had.

At last the eyes returned to Neira's. His head inclined in a nobleman's bow. Neira must have been pleasantly surprised when the Baron returned her statements not with simple thoughts for her to read, but with like psychic ablilities he too apparently possessed. *I'm the Baron Drakov, member of the Cephironian Advisory Council. I'm an old friend of Clef's, I thought I would stop by this morning to let him know of my return. I recently came back from a long stay at your homeworld, Lady Neira. In the four years I resided there I got to know your father, Grand Duke Lecrois. He casually mentioned to me he had a comely daughter, a cousin to the Princess Asuka and fifth in line for the throne. I did not expect to meet that daughter here and now. The honor is all mine at meeting you, Lady Neira.*

Emeraude sighed, unable to keep focus on anything but her thoughts. Meeting all of her children had taken much out of her. And to make matters even more complicated, she had felt an eerieness about. Zagato was alive. She had felt it, and knowing this, she did not know how to move. There was also Lamont to think about... where could he be at this moment? He had promised to find her...

The princess had woken up this morning with questions, many things haunting her. There were so many "whys" and "hows" that she did not know where to begin. The night before, she had met the last of her sons. Chad. The expression on his face as she appeared before him... was enough to tear her. The boy was not at all too shocked, as if he expected it, but he, also, was at loss of words.

Before she could further her thoughts, she found herself in the Grand Foyer of the palace, magically transported. Her gaze fell upon Guru Clef, who seemed to be panicked, or in distress somewhat. And to her surprise, everyone was there...

Emeraude winced at the sight of her golden-eyed brother. He was so handsome, and she knew one day, he would find himself to the throne, and he had. She forced a slight smile, knowing that his finding the throne also meant he found her in his lost memories. How could she ever face him after abandoning him like that?

A telephatic conversation caught her attention, distracting her from her thoughts once more. She turned to look at a young woman who had been observing her the day before, and to a handsome cold face of a baron.

The princess caught sight of something shining on the baron's hand, and came to look at the red jewel ring that the man wore. Emeraude stiffened slightly.

It was him.

Before anything could be done or said, Clef had spoken of troubles needed to be heard, but also, Emeraude could not help looking at the young woman who was at his side. Her strikingly resembled the Wind Knight and her brother, and something told her they would have an interesting meeting.


Arista blinked as she found herself in the Grand Foyer as well. She looked over at Quatre, who also seemed quite surprised at his being there. She tilited her head, and smiled. The Autozamian beauty had remembered their previous conversation the night before. It was decided they would try to help in any way they can.

"Good Morning, Quatre," she greeted him. "Why do you suppose we were called here?"

Her gaze fell over at Guru Clef. "Oh..." Arista managed to say as she heard his words. She thought, ' I do wonder...what troubles this world now? '


As Drakov awaited the Fahrenian girl's response, his grey eyes met a teal one out the corner of his sight. The moment the mind behind the Baron recognized the beautiful woman was when a change over the masklike countenance could have been observed. The gaze seemed to soften, lose its hardness, and the frigid landscape that was Drakov's impassive visage warmed, like sunlight melting snow. Unseen to all but himself was the way the sight of the Princess seemed to light his heart of blackness and bathe it in light...

-Emeraude, I'm here.- These were the words the Baron Drakov mouthed across the room to the former Pillar. This was followed by a gentle bright smile, more so than the one he had given Kyoko previously.


Clef coughed once, then a pinched but grateful smile went Kyoko's way as she held his arm. "Thank you, young lady." He blinked once as thoughts of two people seemed to bounce in his mind. "You are certain we have not met before? You seem oddly familiar to me." He lost the thought and sighed. "Never mind, think nothing of it." His hand gently tapped the wrist that had a grip on his arm. "I'm all right now, young lady. I know you have further explanation to give me, but I'm afraid it may have to wait for now. You may tell me all later."

His head rose and quickly he scanned the room. Everyone around the Palace had been called here. Including those who had entered the previous day. He missed the presence of about two people and reasoned those two must be outside the Palace, therefore outside the range of his spell.

The Guru cleared his throat and directed his voice once more to all in the room. "If everyone would come forward and be seated? I have important matters to discuss with you all this morning." He brought his staff down and several chairs identical to the one that had seated Drakov and Kyoko materialized in small rows before him, one for each individual. The front three seats were reserved for the Magic Knights.

Deep, shallow breath escaped the lips of the girl at Clef's side. She brought a shaky hand to press against her heart, trying to find any sort of resolve. She did not want her sudden discomfort to be discovered. Her eyes quietly scanned the room, which was by now filled with people. Her brow furrowed lightly. Yes, she knew so many of the people in this room and being in their presense brought out happy memories, but...she always felt so trapped and cramped when she was around so many people at once. The walls seemed to close in on her in situations like this. What perfect timing to have a slight panic attack.

Deciding that she should calm herself before anyone else saw her sudden change in demeanor, Kyoko looked upon the familar faces of the people she had always thought of as family. Ascot and Caldina...she had always had fun playing with them when she was a girl. Hikaru and Umi were present as well. They had been like second mothers to her all her life. Hikaru had even tried to take the blame for her when she accidentally spilled a glass of tea all over the floor. Lantis had been somewhat of a casual friend. He was very silent, but he was always a comfort to be around, especially when she needed decent advice. There was Clef, of coarse, who had been her teacher and almost like a best friend to her. So many of the most precious people in her life were here....and none of them even knew who she was.

For a moment, time seemed to stop when Kyoko's eyes fell upon her mother and father. Wetness begining to gather around her eyelashes, though none of her threatening tears came to the surface. They looked to young and different. The youth that the two of them had at that moment surprised the young girl. The two of them looked so wonderful, especially her mother. Dispite herself, Kyoko smiled at them both, wanting so much to just walk up to them and hug them both. Having to hold back was the hardest thing she had ever had to do in her life.

A whirlwind of emotions filled Kyoko's entire being and she could not simply choose one to stick with, no matter how she struggled to do so. Just when she felt as if she could calm herself enough to put on a calm face, her heart sped up at an almost insane rate. Her eyes widened and her lips parted in awe and shock. Was she hallucinating? It couldn't be who she thought...unless it was a ghost...unless she was seeing things. Was that really Emeraude...Her late aunt...It was impossible.

"Aunt Emeraude..." she whispered to herself, her voice nearly to the point of breaking.

Today was certainly going to be different from any she had ever experienced before. That was a definate fact.

Fuu suddenly and oddly found herself sitting on the floor of the Grand Foyer. She had been sitting in a chair of her room, reading one of the books that were given to her. She hoped that reading would take her mind off of the fact that she couldn't sleep well the previous night. She was worried still, about the events of the magical land and about the fact that Presea had been nosily sick the previous night. The pharle dismissed her own case as a common sickness and told the wind knight not to worry. The blonde girl shooke her head and stood up, realizing she was still holding the book. She shut it and brought it, almost protectivly, up to her chest. She crossed her hands over it. Gazing over the room she spotted Umi's familiar blue locks and began to walk tward her sister-close friend. While she paced forward, still in her slightly-limping gait, she spotted Emeraude. Her assumption had not been inncorrect. Her emerald eyes finally locked on Clef. She stopped suddenly in her tracks, her eyes widening. A young woman stood beside the mage, supporting him. She took her glasses off and began wiping the lenses with the edge of her skirt. She began her pace tward the water knight. When she reached her side she stopped whiping her glasses and began to examine them. "Umi-san," she began, "I think there must be something wrong with my glasses." She paused for a moment and set the spectacles back onto her nose. "That girl beside Clef-san. Um, am I seeing things or does she really look a lot like me?"

Presea stood puzzled. Here she was in the Grand Foyer, but wasn't she just...She closed her eyes. 'I muat be hallucinating' She thought to herself. Her hand passed over her stomach. 'First sickness, now I'm getting big, and suddenly I'm imagining I'm where I'm not.' She sighed. The Guru was speaking, saying to sit down. Deciding she was not crazy, the pharle sat down in a seat on the last row.

Fuu was with everyone else. Only moments ago, she had been in her room reading. She had hoped that reading would take her mind off of the unease that had set in. As she stood, her attention was drawn tward the Mage Clef. He spoke for everyone to take a seat. The wind knight bit at her bottom lip. If Clef had summoned everyone into this room to speak it must be urgent. Fuu quickly prayed that nothing terrable had happened. She began to move forward, following Umi's familiar blue locks. She said a quick "good morning" to familiars in her passing as she made a steady limping pace to the front. She stopped when she saw Presea sitting in the back. During the pervious night, the Pharle had been noisily ill. She simply said it was a stomache bug and told Fuu not to worry. She bent slightly so that she was level with the woman's face. "I hope you're feeling better soon Presea-san." She blinked and paused for a moment. "Um, Presea-san, No offence but, perhaps you sould exercise some more. You're getting a tad...well, fat."

Emeraude turned to look at Lamont, or rather, the baron, once more, and could not help but allow to return his gentle smile. She felt content that he was safe, and with her in the same room.

As she returned her attention to the mage, Emeraude caught a glimpse of the pretty girl who resembled her brother and Fuu greatly, and the way the girl had looked at her with an awed expression.

' Does she know me? Have we met? ' the sea-eyed princess asked herself. ' I suppose I'll find out soon enough. '

Fuu's remark left her speechless. Presea quickly regained herself. "Thanks, Fuu." SHe remarked drily. "I love you too."

Kyoko stared back in to Emeraude's eye, her mind filled with so many conflicting thoughts. Should she say something to her? Tell her who she was? She had grown up, always being told of her late aunt. She had learned of how kind she was to everyone, how dedicated she was to Cephiro. Someone had once mentioned, she couldn't quite remember, that she looked a bit like Emeraude herself...perhaps due to her hairstyle. What could she do? She had to have an answer, so she turned to Mage Clef and knelt beside him again, putting her mouth close to his ear as she had done before.

"Clef-san, whenever we have the chance to must explain to me how it is that Princess Emeraude is alive. share a secret with you...I've grown up only hearing stories about her...about my late aunt Emeraude."

Her face became set in an mask of clouded emotions as she stood to her feet and, bowing to Clef, she walked over to the rows of seat, sitting down beside Presea. She couldn't help, but smile at the woman, though she noted her current state.

"Hello, Presea-san. I see that you are not feeling well. I hope that you get well soon." She held up her hand, unable to stop the way it shook so feverently, and figured that she had better start her introductions somewhere. "My name is Kyoko."

Neira gave an involuntary shiver. For only a moment, she could feel an evil presence. The touch was brief, but it still sent shockwaves of cold nerves down her spine. It was like nothing she had ever sensed before. And in her confusion and momentary panic her eyes were playing tricks on her. She blinked several times to clear her eyes, adjusting herself to the presence of others as they suddenly appeared in the room. As she collected herself, she smiled warmly at the Baron. She was relieved that her sudden feelings of illness were gone, and pleasantly surprised by the Baron's response. She knew very few people who could talk as she could. It pleased her immensely.

And as he spoke, she regarded him closer. She had thought that his eyes had changed earlier, but she knew now that she had been wrong. As was her first impression of him. He was nothing like the royalty and nobility of Fahren, or Cephiro for that matter. And he was a friend of Clef's. He couldn't possible be as pomp as some of hte others she'd met in her lifetime. His demeanor and presence were far too calmly. And his speech was much too pleasant.

But there was something just beneath the surface...ah well, if her eyes had been playing tricks, who was she to jump to conclusions?

//Please, the pleasure is mine,// she replied her smile growing. //It is rare Guru Clef receives visitors, including friends. It is an honor to have you at the palace.//

The girl would've spoken further, but Clef's voice boomed thorugh the room, catching her attention. It was no surprise to her when the chairs magically appeared. She glanced around the room quickly, noting the large number of people and chairs. But the Grand Foyer would seat everyone if Guru Clef so wished, she knew. She hoped that one day she could pull of such a trick.

With a soft wave of her hand, she waved in silent invitation for the Baron to be seated. //I'm certain that Guru Clef will want you to join us.//

In the meanwhile outside the castle, Kyle and Zagato fought to save their lives, "Feed me!" the annoying voice coming from the dark gauntlet on Zagato's hand begged, the effects of poison were remarkable on the priest's body, his arm was petifying becoming solid as the stone, his eyes were filled with blood and tears of giref, his moves were slow and clumsy reducing his combat skills greatly. "Young warrior, there is no need for you to fight for me" Zagato said gasping for breath.

"Give up rotten priest", kraven said taking a second poisoned arrow aiming directly to the sky, his hands held tightly the arrow and the bow as if preparing it for a long voyage, "How sad, you won't have another chance to see the little girl who fled" with a great guffaw, the leader of the thieves mocking of the weakened warriors releasing the wicked arrow. With his blur vision, Zagato caught a glimpse of several souldiers throwing a heavy rain of arrows towards the direction of little Naomi, "Nooo!" despair had taken control of him.

"You have fed me well, young man, and this is your reward... Fly, fly like a demon... I warn you" with a shivering scream the sealed energy contained inside the gauntlet released itself creating a huge pillar of dark energy throwing young kyle far away from the battle field filling the heart of the wounded priest with the most vile feelings, "Ahhh, I can feel your strength as mother said... heh heh heh" infernal giggles surrounded everyone as an invitation to their doom, reflecting this evil inside zagato's eyes which started glowing with an errie bloody red, new powers of darkness that lurked inside his body had been called to be of use to his master. With his last sign of sanity, he opened a psychic link with the most powerful being on Cephiro " Emeraude, me dear Emeraude, my heart is unable to find the light in this valley of shadows and death, agony and despair had taken control of me... if you hear me, please, protect those I love from all evil including.... me" as if warning his beloved emeraude from an unknown evil that had possessed his soul, Zagato broke the weakened link releasing the most terrifying wave of dark energy the universe could have sensed.

A vision of a man in a black armor holding a huge lance with a piercing eye bathed in cephirean blood laughing at the top of a small hill, disturbs the order of Cephiro contaminating the peaceful atmosphere of the sacred land with darkenss and shadows, rivers of blood runs at the feet of the unholy man who feeds his evil lance with the blood and soul of every living being taht stands in his way... Kraven and his men beg for their miserable and wretched life awaiting for the last stike of Zagato's rage, "I love the pitiful expression on the face of the lambs..." striking a single and trembling deathblow ".. Before they die" a spurt of warm blood covers his face, while the forked tongue of the tainted priest licks the surrounding area of his mouth, a heartbreaking smirk and a piercing evil glance shows the new appearance of his rotten heart. "Emeraude... " what once was the purest love has now turned into undescribable feelings. His shattered heart and soul had lost sign of the great man he ahd been, only a tiny light faintly brights in hope he recovers his "true self" soon to share his kind and right feelings with his children, specially Naomi...


"Interesting..." Ragyn mused among the canopy of trees that dotted the area around the Crystal Palace and around a band of Cephirean tyrants. His expression darkened when he realized the hellish feeling that had come over him as of late, just mere minutes ago, like a beckon pulsated from the one once known as Zagato...

Although he himself had brought back the dear Emeraude-hime he had not yet found the tomb of Zagato, although he had been trying unseccessfully for awhile now. Somwone or something even darker in deeds than he had accomplished the task although it was little thought that the ancient Atlantian had little power than the one who summoned Zagato. It had apparently summoned him yet still needed substance from outside, from Zagato himself perhaps to keep going? Ragyn laughed to himself letting thoughts creep into his mind which he had never entertained before. He settled down into the tree awaiting either the death of the undead or a new begining for darkness. How very very interesting...

Umi blinked having not given Kyoko that much thought. She turned to Fuu puzzledly before returning her gaze to the some what sickened mage. “I… Fuu I believe you are right however how could that be?” She inched forward towards the seats reserved for Hikaru, Fuu , and herself.

“Good morning…” She leaned over Clef helping Kyoko with him. “Clef…” Blue and stormy sea eyes ever shifting with emotions despite her somewhat standoffish appearance examined Kyoko from up close. “I don’t mean to stare but you look a lot like Fuu…” She paused briefly.

Hikaru was startled somewhat at the sudden change of surroundings. She now found herself standing in the Grand Foyer of the castle. Something isn't right. What could it be? There's no point in just wondering, I might as well ask.

"Um...excuse me. What's going on? Is something the matter?"

Naomi laid there, bleeding freely from 3 wounds and her mouth. one arrow was in her shoulder another in her side, then another in her leg. She had started coughing up blood from her illness. The poison didn't effect her as much, it helped slightly stable her illness but the poison kept her unconcious and made her have a high fever.

*Indeed*, conceded the Baron to Neira. *Though I know that what he must have to say would concern all of you rather than me.* Drakov's avianesque eyes canted past the Fahrenian girl, and rested on a head of braided scarlet hair. His ears caught her question, voiced by a recognizable persona. Standing before him now was the Magic Knight of Fire, and the one who had vanquished Cephiro's Pillar system. The very girl whose memories were known to him. Hikaru Shidou's eyes shone with what looked like slight apprehension yet a steely determination.

The mind behind the man who bore Baron Drakov's face understood. It was clear to him how she had won the title of Cephiro's new ruler before abolishing the entire system. It was also clear to him how she had done battle with the likes of Debonair and triumphed against all. The power of Will that played such a big factor in Cephiro's existence seemed to wrap about her entire being like a cloak. She seemed to shine with it.

And next to her, with hair a shade lighter than her other half's, was Hikaru Shidou's own dark side. Nova. Her eyes were rimmed with quiet crying. From what he had learned from the Fire Knight's mind, guilt over past actions had to be overwhelming her. Something twinged within the Baron's heart at the sight of her.

A gentle smile lit and warmed Baron Drakov's visage. There was something deeply respectful, understanding, and paternal in the way he smiled at the Fire Knight and Nova. His voice was low and vibrant, deeply compelling. "You are the one named Hikaru Shidou, the Magic Knight of Fire, yes? I'm the Baron Drakov, a friend of Clef's. He summoned all of you here for it seems urgent. Best we not keep him waiting."

The smile shifted to Neira and he nodded. In between the three girls, Drakov escorted first Neira to one empty seat, then Nova to the second row. Right before it was Hikaru's at the center of the three utmost frontal seats, which were immediately facing Clef. When Hikaru was seated, Drakov moved for his own seat at the front of the whole assembly. With a gait that was almost languid, and as Neira had noted, calm, Drakov sat to the side and a little behind Clef's. The flame at the end of his Chizetan pipe briefly surrounded his face in an uncanny glow, giving life briefly to an odd jade light in his raptor's eyes.

Hikaru blinked a few times and finally decided to make her way to the rows of seats. She tugged on Nova's hand to bring her up.

"Sit near me Nova." she said pointing to a seat close by her own before taking her own seat. "So...Clef, what is it that you need to tell all of us. It must be really serious for you to take everyone in here like that, and if it wouldn't be too much trouble...could you tell me who is the man that is accompanying you there?"

The lithe youth tightened his arms about his waist, crooking pale rose lips beset in a fittingly fair visage; Ascot's eyes flashed passively as he stood in the midst of the quiet clamour in the Grand Foyer, stifling a growl that bubbled up in his throat. There really never was a dull moment in the Palace Cephiro, he wondered achingly, truthfully trying his very hardest to retain the resolve and demeanor of someone his age and rank. Someone his age though.. Ascot stopped his thoughts there, and sucked in his breath quick in an attempt to disguise a sigh betraying long-suffering.

Dark bangs of chestnut brown donned a swelling lustre beneath the magically-inclined lighting of the dizzyingly high-ceilinged Grand Foyer, hiding equally dark and green eyes. Ascot tipped a defined and yet smoothly feminine chin to sport a tired gaze over the heads of all who congregated, waiting on the Guru to announce his decision and his plans. Plans..

Ascot could retain an outwardly chilly front and perhaps even an impassive stare out over alarming circumstances, but he really could not stifle a certain passion billowing inside of him, hot and determined. It only pained him now for Ascot often wondered just what the Passion was for, what was it that really touched down in the deep of him, right into his heart? Cephiro had been his home all his life, but really, for all the love he held for it, his home had always had to have been with those he loved. Ascot's eyes shifted to the side of him and he hooked his fingers into the top of his pants, into the hooks for a belt should he so chose to use one. The first home he had ever really come to know, or, he chided himself, come to remember, was never really any sort of place. No.. after the time with his family which he could never really recall.. he had continued his life as a Summoner and as rare as people as he were, he had been driven out and away from most public society.

It was... all right, though, Ascot decided. He never really needed anyone.. his seijyuu needed him, and for it all, Ascot needed to stick by them. The thought of leaving them though even if they didn't need him.. the younger Ascot of the past might cry at that. No.. he loved them. They were his family. Ascot's palour grew dull and he bit his cheek, not wanting to wonder about them right now. He couldn't afford it. Their deaths, one by one, had been too much for him in the moment of them. He knew they would be too much for him right now.

If what Clef proposed was to work towards beating the illness that had taken Autozam.. was no doubt seeping further into Cephiro.. was to restore a sense of unity among the people.. was to bring the real culprits to justice, then Ascot could not afford not to listen. Ascot's eyes found the stout mage whose face blazoned the image of so many common cherubs. Clef had.. always been at the top. Always shown Ascot what to do.. how to do it. Learned him of new things. Even through his childish tantrums of the past.. childish tantrums of the present. Even after Ascot had sought his death while under the wing of the Sol Zagato. He would always be there, Ascot wondered, feeling a.. a something in his mind and in his heart. He closed his eyes slowly and sat up, pulling his arms up to his chest.

It was very early, he reckoned, squeezing his arms with opposite hands. With the urgent call to attention from the Doushi in the earlier morning, Ascot had not had the time to dress formal; he looked over himself cynically, noting his attire: simple in comparison to what was expected of him, he thought on a bit of a whim, but perhaps it retained a bit of the Cephiran elegance and immaculate attention to finery and fanciful design. He glanced out over all of the people in the room and caught his breath, never really being so social, and fought for the life of him to keep the characteristic colouring in his cheeks stifled. You might assume the boy would be used to defeat.. ah well.

Unfamiliar faces though.. unfamiliar. A girl.. she sported.. an uncanny semblence to.. to Fuu. And to.. Ferio? Ascot fought harder to keep his fair colour.

Lantis leaned against the wall eyeing several new comers and the old ones. Once he had been a member of the castle in need of suspicion, perhaps, because of his ties to Autozam but now here in the hall there were so many people not of Cephirean origin and even some who were who seemed so much more…dangerous than even he had been. His eyes roamed over the foryer and to each head, to each wavering eye. His gaze momentarily lingered on Ascot who was not in his normal attire. A grin spread ear to ear as his eyes rested on Hikaru then softened as they spotted Nova.

Pushing away from the wall he stalked over to them with the smile faded from his handsome features. Black hair ruffled over his blue eyes before settling on either side. What would be considered a turtle-neck on Earth adorned his top as a pair of black pants fitted his legs. His walk was brisk as he crossed the room past the Bal and Mage before sitting behind Hikaru. His voice soft and reassuring when he leaned over the fired hair Knight's shoulder.

"Hikaru… I'm sorry I left you last night." His hand rested against her shoulder giving her, at least he hoped, some contact and assurance that all was well at least for the time. "Is Nova alright?"

Umi nervously played with her fingers gingerly interlocking them and then straightening them out again. Missions once more, going out into Cephiro for another cause and then what? To be displaced back to Earth again without ever saying goodbye? She frowned and let her eyes fall back to her lap where Ascot’s ‘borrowed’ hat rested. No momentos of the past and no more late nights but it was all in due time. Her liquid eyes, like all others in the grand foryer, roamed over the people which had been summoned to the area. She almost smiled when a familiar, yet saddened, face came into focus leisurely hooked his thumbs into belt hooks. Apparently she wasn’t the only one not well prepared or received that day.

She stretched out trying to wave at Ascot. If she could only make eye contact, as she felt Clef would speak to the restless crowd any moment as concerning their ‘missions’. Her hand waved in the air motioning Ascot over near the Magic Knight’s seats. She almost laughed as Lantis himself descended upon Hikaru before even she had a chance to notice.

When Umi had beckoned until green eyes meet sapphire and perhaps understanding sprung up she turned back around resuming thought on Kyoko the girl whom only moments ago she had helped hold Clef up with. That girl… she would want perhaps even sooner than after the missions speak to her about it and on another side what was the mysterious man beside Clef? His eyes daunting though they were followed her briefly , then Hikaru and finally Fuu on which they strayed on comparing her with the new girl Kyoko. It was very strange and the resemblance was uncanny.

She turned around again and waved Ascot’s hat at him hoping to bring him forward. It wasn’t a game and it wasn’t mockery…she just felt the need to offer friendship. Umi smiled gravely at Ascot’s strangely disconnected face. “Is it that bad…” Umi whispered under her breath unsure and a little shaky in answering her own question.

Iced, milky blue eyes shone brightly in the light of the Grand Foyer, framed by lush, dark lashes; The tall and toned Illusionist seemed as physically at her best as she ever was, but it was almost something uncomfortable tangible what she felt.. what sobered her characteristic grin and glow.

Power-pink lips that shone with a modernly attractive, wet lustre parted and drew a quick breath as she lifted her chin to gaze out past the slowly accumulating crowd that had gathered at Clef's command, and she shifted slight weight from one slippered foot to the other. This meeting.. she knew that something like this was in order. Cephiro's current crisis.. it seemed to be getting much too out of hand much too fast, and as she thought this, she did not even take into equasion the fact that a vast majority of the crisis was as of yet unidentified, unmanagable, lurking were a mere tease of something much more dire as an offense. Caldina bit down inside of her mouth, finely shaped brows drawing together. She hated to be in the dark.

The Ral was always so used to taking things into her own hands, managing things on her own, having to deal with problems of the now, problems that really only she had to mind... After all, since her leave of Chizeta which seemed.. just so long ago these days when it really wasn't, and even before then, she had been fiercely independant and always on an adventure, something fun, something lucrative. Over the past few years.. it was evident that something in her had sobered. She was no longer as spontanious or so flamboyant; she still retained these aspects of herself, mind you, but only not as so... The seriousness Caldina had acquired over her time in Cephiro, serving in the palace, was something that was indefinitely required in times as these, she admitted to herself on a quieter note... She needed her patience now more than ever with everything that was happening, was no doubt in line to happen.

She closed her eyes and dropped her head, lifting her eyes to half mast and straying her eyes to the side; The arrival of the Magic Knights had to seemed to have lulled the Palace into a sort of false sense of security, it seemed to her, and while it caused a sort of rest to force upon everyone which they all seemed to desperately need... The events as of recent and the realization in the morning was only to hit them, hit her, much harder. Waking from a dream into an impending nightmare, a dream which you just know really won't last long.. is horrible.

A heavy weight had settled itself over the lithe and fit young woman that morning, pulling tensions taut and setting her into a permanent unease. Her intuition had always been an uncommon guest as she loved to have fun, be without cares, but when she worried for those she loved.. for that she loved, she hated it. Hated not knowing what to do.. when to do anything, not being able to march outside of the door and punch the problem square in the jaw..!!

Caldina forced herself to relax, and straightened. She was a member of the High Council and no doubt there were people congregated that might look to her as a role model.. she needed to be optimistic, she decided.

Fair, lustrous, and softly curled locks swished softly as she turned her head to survey the crowd, lightly caressing tan and ample cheeks. Everyone was here... Caldina's eyes softened and made an effort to put names to everyone she saw, only... she couldn't. Painted lips pouted very minutely as she counted all those she really.. couldn't recognize. The strangers were not as common residents of the Palace, those whom she might forgive not knowing, but regal and intriguing faces, faces that seemed to touch down into her resolve and into her mind, resonating ripples of.. of ever- insistent query. Caldina softly chewed her tongue, icy blue eyes flashing in a moment of thought. All in a day, she sighed to herself... All in a day.

A particular young boy caught her interest however, blinking curled and dark lashes as she took in his appearance. Her eyes and mouth softened, looking over the fair and mysterious youth. His face offered no malice, but rather displayed a look of wan and genuine kindness, velvety blue eyes set in a sweet, young boy's, quaint and, dare she say, timid? visage. It was the mysterious boy she had encountered on her way to the palace... Then, she remembered he had not been in such.. hot circumstances. She smiled subtly to herself, glad to see him up and about, among the rest of the gathered.

He seemed to be talking quietly with a certain young woman... someone who.. ah. Another she could not put a finger on. Only.. Caldina hestitated, looking her over, noting the girl's soft and feminine features. They were undoubtedly young, sported an air of royalty almost, and seemed to tell just so softly of her victimization... Victimization of a premature knowing, maturity, lost innocence. It was.. only too common and yet.. Caldina nearly sighed. The girl's face was framed by a head of shining and silver, fine hair that fell about her shoulders, drawing attention to her porcelain face that.. set Caldina at unease. The pink-haired dancer crinkled her brow, overwhelmed by an unwelcome wave of nostalgia. Who was this girl?

Caldina decided to learn herself of them both, and so she softly padded over to the vicinity.

Stopping short of the blonde boy Quatre, she bowed slightly, draping her arms behind her back and hooking her fingers together loosely. She smiled pink lips subtly and offered a warm and friendly front to the mysterious, slender youth.

"Hi there son," she greeted him, a small smile playing across her lips, "It's good to see you again! Do ya remember me?" She winked playfully, her face softly warm with a friendly, humourous demeanor about her; she looked at the boy fondly from behind light and bobbing, curled locks of pink hair.

Caldina shifted her light-blue eyes to that of the kept and quiet, young woman whom seemed to have been comfortably conversing with Quatre. Straightening, she brought her arms forward and crossed her jeweled wrists before herself.

"And hello to you aswell, Missy. I'm not so sure we've met before though, I don't really recall seeing you 'round here." Caldina tipped her head, her soft and textured ponytail bobbing behind her as she smiled good-naturedly at the flaxen-haired, young girl. "I don't suppose that really matters though, ne? Ya do.. remind me a'someone though I daresay. Ah!" Caldina laughed, but quieted herself, tipping her head down and meeting the steady gaze of she through her fair- coloured bangs, "I guess that doesn't really matter so much either, right?"