Umi turned back to Megor and Ascot after watching the Baron Drakov walked away quietly. She still couldn't shake the feeling that those eyes resembled someone else. Even the later trick of light which frosted them an eerily green troubled her. What if it wasn't a trick
of the light?
"Ryu...Ryuuzaki?" Umi just realized Megor had said his family name which happened to be the same as hers. "Perhaps we are distant relatives." She bowed politely unsure of what to do. If she had been a Tanaka then it would have been common place to run into complete strangers with the same name for it was so well...common unlike her own sirname. It also made her wonder if Ascotto had a family name or anyone else.
Sapphire eyes glimmered for a moment. "Ascot...?" He had seemed distant
lately since the other night. Even though she had drawn him out of his shell a little... had he retreated? What could he possibly be thinking?
Megor cringed. "No, we're not related, I'm sure. Fate would not be so
cruel to you as to relate your blood with mine. Those who have been
relative to me in the past, have found their homes in graves." He
said quietly. His eyes moved to the side away from hers. She was
indeed the only one left, would he tell her or not? It wasn't
important at the moment. He looked back to Umi and grinned. "So when
do we go and take care of this business? The sooner, the better."
Hours had passed, and Chad was tiring more and more. Win-Ko was not
close. Not by a longshot. He would have to find a type of
transportation, but what? He glanced around and about, searching for
something that could perhaps get him to Win-ko faster than
this. "Crap! This isn't going well. I have to get there before Kyle
does!" He said under his breath. A small beam shot past his temple,
grazing some of his hair. It pierced through several trees, not
seeming to stop. Chad held his breath for a moment, not turning
around. "So you've decided to cut me off early, huh?" Chad said
quietly. His brother was not too far behind him, his pierced cannon
aimed at his Cephirean sibling.
"Right." Kyle stepped from behind a tree, a slight smile, as usual,
on his face. "I see you are on your way to Win-Ko as well as I am. I
am going to ask you once. Join Ragyn and myself. Listen to my reason
before you go off being heroic. Who is the villain here, brother? Who
is it that is the true cause of chaos?" Chad took a step back. "Ragyn
is of course! What's gotten into you?" Kyle shook his head. "That's
your story? Why exactly are you following them? What makes you say
they're telling the truth? You know, It takes a lot of them to gang
up one on man. Much like the Cephireans did on his people a long time
ago. Brother, I'm asking you this: What makes a man truly evil? What
is it that makes you so positive that it isn't the people you are
helping that is causing the true chaos?" Chad held his breath for a
moment. He thought about it slowly. There were quite a lot of people
out to stop Ragyn. But there yet was only one of him. Was it true?
Were the Cephireans, was Clef...Out to get the last one of his kind?
To be the superior race? Chad let out a sigh, releasing all of his
pent up breath at once. "I guess you could be right. Let me talk to
Ragyn and let me find out for myself! I don't want to fight on the
wrong side if you are telling me the truth! But....Can you tell me
this? What's going on in Win-Ko?"
Kyle thought for a moment. "I don't know, I haven't reached there
yet. I thought I'd stop and talk to you first. We should both put
aside our differences for now and investigate the matter. I'll take
you to Ragyn afterwards. You can question his actions and his matters
then. In all honesty, I have questions myself. But let me asure you
this: It's not Ragyn's doing that's causing the odd power outputs in
Win-Ko. Let's get going for now. Deal?" Kyle placed his hand out
smiling warmly. "Let's not bicker and argue about people we know
nothing about. Let's get the facts first. Then we can choose our
final sides. If fate brings us to fight, then so be it. But for now,
I want us as a team."
Chad took Kyle's hand shaking it, smiling warmly himself. "I'd be
honored to fight alongside my own brother! I'm grateful to have
someone like you as a partner! Now let's find out what's up with Win-
Ko!" The two started off dashing through the area immediatly, their
fight postponed.....for now.
Fuu had been greated by the girl Kyoko and was indeed ready to start. "Shall we see Clef-san? I need to get my armor and my sword, just in case." Her eyes grazed the crowed room, looking for the Mage. "Don't we need Primera-san as well?"
Ferio looked astonished as Leilandra explained that she had walked all the way from her remote hometown to the Crystal Palace. Such a long way...? That was quite impressive. He smiled, accepting the flower she offered him, quite touched by the kind gesture. "Thank you... Good luck and happiness?" His smile widened as he admired the rare blossom in his hands, before looking at Leilandra once more. "In that case, I hope you still have one for yourself, too."
Clef had begun to address the subject of missions, and gradually the entire room grew silent, all eyes and ears focused on the Madoushi.
Ferio listened attentively as Clef assigned the missions to various groups, giving a slight nod of his head every now and again when it came to the mission he would be working on, alongside Fuu and Kyoko. Although he realized that it truly was for the best that this mission kept within the lands counted as allies, he couldn't help feeling bad about the fact that others had to go on missions where they would risk their lives, while he was out of harm's way. Nonetheless, if this was the most suitable way for him to help, then he would do it.
Everyone was moving into their groups now, and Ferio stood to do the same, smiling at Leilandra in farewell and wishing her luck on her mission. He began to head into Fuu's direction. At that moment, he saw the blonde-haired girl he'd seen talking to Clef prior to the meeting approaching him. His guess that she must be Kyoko was confirmed when she introduced herself. Ferio bowed as well, then smiled at the girl as he shook her proffered hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Kyoko."
By now they had joined Fuu, and the prince nodded in agreement to the Wind Knight's suggestion. "Good idea. Guru Clef was talking to Baron Drakov a few moments ago, right?"
Quatre bit his lip, a thoughtful expression on his face as he listened to the missions being given out. The situation seemed much more complicated than he had first imagined. He was faintly surprised to hear Clef utter his name for the fifth mission. Almost instantly a grateful smile lit up his features. He was honored that they would trust him, who wasn't even from their world and had no association whatsoever with them, to accompany the other three in this particular
group and help with the matters at hand.
'I'll do my best to help in any way I can...' he vowed silently, hands
clenching with determination.
As the occupants of the room began to move apart once more, Quatre decided to stay near Arista, unsure of who the other two members of their group were.
Kyoko glanced over her shoulder, once her hand had left Ferio's, her green eyes settled on Clef. She smiled softly before turning her gaze
back to the younger versions of her parents.
"I'm afraid we may have to wait. He seems to be busy with Dracov-san. I
think it might be best if we left them be for the time being, though I
agree with you Fuu-san. I also need some form of weapon. I brought little to nothing with me on my trip here."
The young woman sighed slightly, the only way that the action could even be noticed being the obvious quick rise and fall of her chest. Despite the fact that Clef seemed to have guessed her secret, she still felt that she should speak to him whenever time permitted it. He was the only person she could trust with her identity and she would need his help when it came to masking it, especially from her parents.
Her own personal matters could wait. There were more important things, such as the mission she had been assigned to. It was her duty to help in any possible way. That was exactly what Clef, from her time, had sent her back for. And she would not fail him. A feeling of unease came to Kyoko as she became aware of the various voices and bodies around her, a nervous bead of sweat trickling down the side of her head.
"Fuu-san, Ferio-san, I hope you won't find me to be rude or anything of the sort, but do you suppose, if it is not too much of a burden, that we could perhaps...uhm..." She flashed the two of them a weary smile. "...could we continue talking in a less....populate room?"
Clef lowered his eyes from Emeruald-hime's and pondered Baron Drakov's
estranged or rather off pattern. His mind patterns or rather traces of
personality were a little too clear and distinct as if he had never
left the world of Cephiro. Wouldn't there be change in his attitude,
yet the Baron had always been... eccentric.
"Emerualdo," Clef sighed. "I am sorry to have failed you and Sol
Zagato in the past." He looked up at her with just the faint trace of
sadness in his blue eyes. "I should be going for many of the
destinations are long and may require transport. Mokona should be able
to help someone. I will more than likely send him with Hikaru though."
He bowed his head politely once more and turned away from the Baron.
However as his footsteps took him further away his mind cleared of
some confusion. He would undoubtedly keep a closer watch on his
friend. "Hikaru... Nova... Mackey... I suggest that in your travels
you have Mokona assist you. If you do not mind." Clef's lip twitched
into a upturn expression. "He will also enable you to disguise yourselves for he virtually carries anything a Knight or otherwise would desire."
It wasn't long before Kyle and Chad had reached another part of
Cephiro rather unknown to them. This time, even though they were near Win-Ko at last, they seemed to be a little off track. Chad glanced about the surrounding area attempting to find an explanation for this dilemma. "Kyle...I hate to say this, but we're lost."
Skyhawk glanced about himself, his shades picking up several signs of
life around them. "I hate to agree with you at a time like this, but
you might be right." He said with a disappointed look. He had never
been lost before so how is it that his sense of direction deceived
them both this time? Kyle's shades soon reflected Chad's own puzzled
look as he shot a look to his brother. "I've never been lost in my
entire life. We have the directions, so what happened?" Chad looked
at the map he had picked up on the way out. "It says we should be
right here!" He said pointing to a spot on the map near Win-Ko. "But
instead, it looks like we're here!" He pointed to an entire different
region on the map, much further away from Win-Ko. "What could have
happened?! This isn't right!" The two were lost, but from a
mysterious force that was well aware of their presence. One that was
determined to grab hold of one of the brothers for it's own purposes.
It wasn't long before the winds picked up around them, blowing their
hair to the side. The winds felt almost chaotic as soon, their
feelings turned from confusion to worry.
"Are you feeling that, Kyle?" Chad asked looking at his brother. Kyle
nodded slowly. "Yes, indeed. I think we're about to have company."
The two took fighting stances awaiting the arrival of what could
possibly be a powerful new enemy. But fate would have it different,
as instead, an elderly man walked from behind a tree, chuckling. The
winds calmed down and the mirage of them being in a complete
different area of Cephiro faded away. Kyle gasped as he watched the
surroundings return to what it was supposed to be like on the
map. "An illusion?! What a dirty trick!" Chad shouted at the old man
angrily. "Who are you?!" The old man chuckled again, softly, this
time, instead of mischeivously. "It is good to see that two young men
are brave enough to investigate the strange force of Win-Ko, but I'm
afraid that one of you does not have what it takes to make it out
alive." He said still smiling. He scratched his long, white beard,
looking directly at Chad. Kyle smiled, slightly relieved that he
alone had the skill to complete this mission. "Chad, Stay back, then.
Let me handle this one, alright? I don't want you to get hurt if it's
not necessary." He said quickly. "Make sure this old man doesn't try
anything else funny, alright?" Kyle said turning his back to Chad and
the old man. "I'll see you again when my mission is complete! Don't
wander off too far alright?" With that said, Kyle dashed off as fast
as possible, much faster than what Chad could, leaving his brother in
the dust. Chad's face turned red with anger as he glared at
the "superior brother" dashing away. "He's got SOME nerve, talking to
me like a kid or something!!" Chad shouted angrily. He glared at the
old man. "And what makes you think I don't have what it takes to help
him out, huh?!"
The old man chuckled yet again, his laugh irritating Chad more and
more. "Young man, You don't have what it takes, because you are still
a novice. With the little experience that you've had, you've not got
what it takes to destroy the enemies that lie ahead. Your brother has
spent his entire life killing and taking lives. He is used to this,
and even with his great power, he, too, might not have the ability
alone. Allow me to make you an offer that you might not want to pass
up. I have an island, you understand. An island that has no idea what
time is. In other words, I can train you for 2 years, and when we
returned, your brother would not have made it two steps further yet.
It knows no time at all, kiddo! So how about it? Would you like to
gain a little experience so you can move ahead, with the strength you
need? I can even help you unlock that potential you got in there!
There are demons and angels in that heart of yours that you don't
even realize! Heh heh!" The old man cackled with glee. Chad stared at
the man, confused as ever. An island that would literally have no
time to it at all? He could train for years and not only not age, but
also come back before his brother even made it to Win-Ko? The idea
was great! Chad smiled and nodded. "Alright, you win. Let's get
going. Where is this island?" Chad asked kindly. "I guess I could use
more experience in my journey." The old man grinned at this
comment. "Son, you won't only have experience, you'll have great
power to boot! I don't think after my training, anything that your
brother could do before, you couldn't match or surpass! Don't tell
anyone about this island unless you can trust them very well though!
Got it?" He said glaring. Chad nodded. "Got it. Let's get going! By
the way, my name's Chad! What's yours?" The old man smiled
slightly. "My name's not a matter at the moment. I'm just a man
wanting to protect Cephiro from the threats that are rising up now."
The two vanished away to the man's island, where Chad's extra
training would begin.
At the castle, Megor growled in anticipation. "Come ON, already!!
When do we leave here?!" He asked cracking his knuckles. "I'm sick of
standing around and watching the others prepare! What are we waiting
for, christmas?!" He had been waiting a long time, his every muscle
tense. He couldn't stand to be around his sister and not tell her who
he was, it was almost literally killing him every moment. He glared
at Clef, who had paired them up. 'Nice idea, pairing us up. You
obviously know something, don't you?' he thought to himself not
taking his eyes off of the master mage. He then shot a glance to the
Bal. 'Ascot, huh? This will be more interesting than I thought. Umi,
myself and Ascot. This is going to be some picnic day.' Megor thought
crossing his arms. "Hurry it UP, will you?!"
As the crowd began to disperse, Neira stood and looked for her other
two traveling companions. She was vaguely familiar with Presea. Although she knew of the woman â€" what she looked like and such…" she did not know her well. Still she should be easy enough to pick out of the thinning mass of people still left inside the Great Hall. Caldina should’ve been very easy to pick out. She just simply stood out in a crowd, at least in Neira’s mind. She admired the young woman for her talent.
Turning in place, she glanced towards the back of the room, wondering
where either Presea or Caldina could be. Finally, she spotted
Caldina. Noting her location, the young Fahrenian girl joined the river of people exiting the Great Hall and made her way over.
//Good morning,// she addressed Caldina with a smile on her lips. //I
hope you’ve slept well, Caldina-san. I trust it will take us some
time to prepare for our trip.//
Fuu's attention faced the question of the young Kyoko, she glanced
around the room, "Yes, perhaps we could take this time to find our
fishy-friend." She smiled, Fuyla was a wonderful beast.
Skyhawk at last had finally made it to Win-ko. What had been so
strange about the place? He stopped at the entrance, almost to a
sudden halt. He was there, alright. The mission was most likely going
to be a long one.
Chad stepped out of his training area at last, almost with a glow
about him. His desert clothes were shredded, his entire body drenched
in sweat. He turned his blue eyes to the old man that had helped him
out and gave a smile. "Thank you. I appreciate you giving me this
opportunity to grow stronger. It really helped out." He said shaking
the elder's hand. The old man cackled with glee. "My, you've grown
that much stronger and it's only been what seems to be minutes in
Cephiro! Hah hah haaaaaaaah!" The elderly one danced around a bit
happy that he indeed had got to train someone in his lifetime. "I
want you to take this with you!" The old man handed him a
sword. "This sword has been handed down generation after generation.
It was given to my son, but he was not able to keep it because soon
after it was given to him, he was killed." The old man sighed
sadly. "Do you realize that you are carrying our honor now, young
man?" He asked gently. Chad gazed at the blade. "Yeah. I'll do my
best to keep the family honor going, sir. But you're trusting me with
something this important, and you barely know me!" he replied looking
back up at the elder. The old man chuckled. "Do you remember what we
talked about while you were being trained?" Chad nodded in
reply. "Yeah." The boy remembered it all too well. The training, the
ruthless training, but then, a question that had never been asked,
not towards him, anyway, came from almost nowhere. The old man had
asked what he thought of being a high priest for Cephiro one day.
That he had the potential, and the heart to become a priest of the
light. Chad had stopped training for a moment, leaving an opening for
the old man's attack. Once he regained focuse the conversation
continued. The questions of a high priest, the questions of a "light
of hope" for Cephiro. He had remembered it more than all to well. It
would probably stay with him forever. Chad blinked and started to
question the old man now, but was silenced with a grunt by the
elder. "Don't give something so important such a quick answer, son.
Give it time. Don't do something you aren't willing to put your heart
into. Give it time. Now go! You have work to do, don't you? Get to
Win-ko and show your brother how it's done!" The old man shouted
cackling again. "Good luck, boy!" He shouted as Chad dashed away
thanking him. "I'll not let you down!" Chad shouted back at the
elder. He looked straight ahead now, towards Win-ko. He knew his
destination would probably be a dangerous one. He was determined now
to put an end to this war, one way or another! And now, he was strong
enough to hold his own!
Once Chad was out of sight, the old man smiled warmer than he had
ever smiled before. Small sparkles started slowly emitting from his
skin, as his solid form started to turn transparant. He had gotten
his wish from the otherworld. He had got to meet, and even train,
one of his grandchildren. The old man vanished, returning to the
otherworld to tell his son that his sword was in good hands.
"My dear Princess, it has been far too long. I see that beauty has
not seen fit to leave you, even though it has only been four years."
Drakov's left hand grasped Emeraude's fingers and with a grace and
strength that belied his genteel exterior, raised her hand and
saluted it to his lips in a veritable gentleman's gesture.
The blazing gem on the Baron's left middle finger shimmered and
spread its sparkling light, eneveloping their entwined hands in a
faint scarlet glow. Lowering the Princess' hand out of the respectful
kiss, that light accentuated and added a ruby tinge to the nobleman's
A smile bloomed on his lips.
Emeraude alone could have known the meaning of that smile. For though
the man who stood before her looked and spoke like her old admirer,
the ring served its purpose as a reminder of his true nature.
His voice lowered as the chatter of multiple voices clamoring for the
attention of their group members rose. "I had heard that you
were...gone. Joyful I am then to learn you have returned somehow, as
well as to see you here in Cephiro's darkest hour yet. I too have
been reported dead. With that notion broken, I will do all in my
power to halt this savage conflict."
He paused a moment, glancing towards the Guru Clef. "I must leave for
the time being, Princess." He bowed low, holding the Princess' gaze
before striding to where the Guru now sat.
"Guru Clef, I must take my leave for the time being, inspect some
other businesses and trades I left unsettled in my absence. It has
been a pleasure visiting you this morning despite what is happening.
I promise I will help resolve this maelstrom."
His hand swept out and took in the youngsters gathered about the
room. Worry and courage and hope were written all over their faces,
as visible as a flock of ravens amidst a clear blue sky. So young,
quick, strong and full of promise. For the barest of moments, the
Baron felt his years of exactly a century and a decade,
notwithstanding his young body. A body that had stood the test of
time as the result of a gift from the people who had instructed him
to be what he was now. That combined with his own abilities and
Refreshing it was to see the will to fight on in a younger generation.
"Clef, these children fight to save this world. We must pray that the
Creator watch over them...or even perhaps that they will find help
where they would never imagine." Again the smile as Drakov bowed a
second time. The crimson cape swirled as he spun, noiselessly and
without ceremony treading towards the large double door.
Clef's eyes had lowered in this instant and they enlarged to sapphire
icebergs as they spied what lay on the floor. A sharp giant ebony
silhouette that spread its folds across the red carpetted floor,
obscuring it such that the carpet may have been naturally black. The
Guru gripped his staff white knuckled, glancing left and right, up
and down, searching for the owner of this mammoth shadow.
They rested on someone's retreating back.
But it was only the Baron Drakov.
Mackey had been standing behind Hikaru when she was introduced
to the Baron so that the shorter woman was obscured and less
noticable. Not that she really cared or was making an effort not to
be seen, but she found herself somehow slightly relieved that Drakov
hadn't seemed to take much notice of her. She wasn't even quite sure
why, but she found herself both strangely fascinated and also
slightly nervous of him in the way that a pyrophobe would be
fascinated and afraid of a lit candle. If the baron's parting words
had left any meaning on her, however, they stirred no outward
The crowd was beginning to mingle and thin out as she heard
Clef's final words over the commotion in the room. "Mokona...?"
Mackey wondered quietly to herself who this Mokona was and why had he
not been mentioned before as she glanced around trying to see if she
could find amidst the hurrying and unfamiliar faces someone who
looked like they might belong to such a name. She soon noted that she
seemed to be the only person in the dark here and settled down. She'd
find out soon enough, anyway. In the meantime she tapped on Hikaru's
shoulder to bug her once more. "Pardon, but I think it would be a
good idea to go with Zazu and Quatre and Arista and all those
people," She said, not wanting to appear impolite in front of a
stranger... or at least not one that she would have to spend a good
deal of time with... "Their destination isn't far from ours and if
they're both such dangerous missions one group of seven people would
have a better chance of succeeding than two groups of three and four."
In an instant Chad appeared next to Kyle as he was running. Kyle
suddenly stopped abruptly and stared at his enhanced brother. "What
the hell happened to you?!" He said blinking a few times. Chad gave a
confident smile. "Why don't you let me handle this? You might not be
experienced enough. I don't want you getting hurt, brother." Kyle
frowned at this comment. "Good one. Now....Since you are strong
enough, probably even more than enough, let's get to business." The
two nodded and looked at the town ahead of them, the town known as
Ferio gave a light, friendly grin and a nod of his head, seeing
Kyoko's obvious discomfort at being in such a crowded room. "Sure,
let's go somewhere else to get ready. We can go look for Primera or
Fyula, as Fuu has suggested, then return to talk to Guru Clef once
he's not busy anymore. And then, we'll head off, I guess."
He watched the two young women at his side, yet again marveling at
the similarity of appearance, especially when it came to facial
features, between them. It was intriguing... but as much as he wanted
to comment, he decided against asking any questions. Kyoko seemed to
be wearing the same kinds of unusual Earth clothes that he'd seen Fuu
in before, but it didn't appear as if the two girls had ever met
prior to this, so maybe the resemblance was purely coincidental.
Fuu nodded, causing her hair to bounce lightly. "Shall we?" She began
her slightly limping pace tward the exit.
Presea looked around the room, first left, then right. She spotted her
bronze-skinned companion alongside her other company. She smiled, "At least it's not going to be too hard to find them." She began to walk in the direction of the young women, "Caldina, How are you?"
Clef was mute with what lay before him. In all his years, the
studies of the ways of magic and conjuring, philosophy and nature, he had been always able to sense the forces between everything alive, intricate electricities that wove around each being and this being was no exception. "Drakov..." he meditated to himself, "...this is no evil force, though..." He turned back to the group, his friends, milling around the palace antechamber. The Baron's extraordinary aura had to wait...for now. There were far greater things, evil things, to be dealt with presently. He shook his small head, his hair of twilight shifting over his childlike face. "Mokona. Please go with Hikaru and her group." He watched nonchalantly as the tiny white puffball flopped over to the crimson knight. "Pu!" Leaning back slightly for balance, he tipped his
monsterous staff forward, the turquoise head beaming more and more the
harder he willed it to. "Creature Summon!" he shouted with his light voice, and pictured a prescence in the center of the chamber that shone for a moment before wielding a large griffin-like creature, perhaps the size of six men on top of one another, with reddish-brown fur covering its figure. He smiled inwardly at his success, and stepped forward towards the griffin, his white robes dragging the ground. "You go with Fuu. They will need you to get where they are going." Clef then looked off after the group exiting the room, and a bead of frustrated sweat glistened on his temple. "...This is so disorganized..."he shook his head.