Clef raised an eyebrow apprehensively. An atmosphere of
intense power now existed where the remnants of Clef’s barrier now hovered, broken pieces of magic floating like shrapnel in the vacuum of space. In its place, a rejuvenated Megor stood, impatient as ever, but somehow changed. If Megor suddenly knew some transportation spell, it would only relieve him. He mopped his face with his robe’s sleeve. He had to get in contact with the others now. Focusing his thoughts, he triggered all of the crystal teardrop communicators. The crystals flashed a brilliant gold and Clef’s voice drifted through the air. “Everyone….” Clef sighed, “Please listen closely. Ragyn has already attacked here at the castle. Although everyone here is alright, please be careful! Good luck on your missions.” The mage closed his eyes tightly, and turned to the group in the antechamber. “Please be careful….everyone….” he whispered.
Fuu gave a sigh of relief as the young Kyoko looked up. For the brief moment of trauma her heart had skipped a beat. Hoping for the best she turned toward the floating city, her eye's reflecting all of it's wonder. She smiled and grabbed Kyoko's hand, she didn't know why but this girl was special. Even though they had just met Fuu knew there was something...bonding, between herself and this girl. Tugging forward and slipping her other hand into Ferio's she began to walk. She looked down at her feet, her smile turning into a slight grin. "Well, my ankle's a lot better. Lets go!"
Deep within the Tibetan mountains
"Reach within yourself. Focus all your sin, all your malice. Embrace the endless Abyss within you, the Abyss you are at eternal war with. But fail not to bear in mind that it is for a just cause that you do so."
Two men were kneeling, facing the other in a cold cavernous stone- walled room. Smoke from golden wax candles and incense bruners spead their aroma about the premises, cloying and noxious one moment, sweet and mildly fragrant the next. From beyond the boundaries of that room echoed the humming repetitive monotone of a hundred voices in prayer and meditation. The first man, to outside appearances, was or seemed to be a youth, possessing a completely shaven head with golden skin and narrowed eyes, undeniably a descendant of the Mongol race. Nothing about him bespoke anything remarkable...till one got to his eyes. Not only did they shine with a benevolent yet powerful inner spirit, they gleamed with the tell-tale signs of a long-lived life, many years beyond his apparent age. A life that had rewarded him with wisdom and vast experience.
The Tulku was clad in golden and scarlet robes, keenly watching the lean but well built man who sat on his haunches across him. His outfit was a roughly spun blue robe, hair long, dark, and unruly, while his skin was pale. A Caucasian, an American to be exact. But that mattered not. Was not everyone a child of the same life force after all?
Yet this was not any normal child of the world. His name was Kent Allard, retired war spy and pilot. Only a week ago had he been the hidden murderous terror of all Tibet. Ying-ko, the Butcher of Lhasa. 'Lamont Cranston' to those who were aware of his supposed past, the spawn of an assumed identity. Invincible opium lord, ruthless slaughterer of women and children, merchant of Bliss -and- Death.
Now he was an initiate within the walls of this hidden temple, delving into the inner reccesses of the human soul in a bid for self- redemption, and equally important the redemption of other souls, pure and malevolent alike.
Allard's mouth drew in a sharp breath, eyes closed. His body trembled as he touched the shadow that was a part of him. He felt it like a living breathing entity in the invisible darkness of his heart. Felt it growing like a black tree of cunning and malice. Coursing through him with the force of a thunderbolt.
The heavy rock that rested between the two men suddenly shuddered and shook, rattling stone on stone. Allard's brows creased and his breathing turned ragged and halting, deeper in concentration. A snap broke the near silence of the room as a jagged crack manifested itself across the face of the rock, like an earthquake maiming a landscape.
The American gasped and opened his eyes, having lost concentration. He lolled his neck back a moment, taking in fresh rejuvenating gasps of air, as the Tulku's spare smile grew. A delicate hand ran across the rock's surface. "Short of what I intended, but you are on the right path."
Kent Allard swiped at several drops of sweat on his forehead. "Master...what is this 'makura no hiruma'?"
The Tulku's face, from one of teacherly approval, shifted into one of mild surprise then swiftly returned to as it was. He had to remember his student grew stronger and stronger in the arts of reading one's thoughts and memories as each day passed. The fact he had seen momentarily his instructor's thoughts attested to that.
"Makura no hiruma...I was just thinking about it. It is what our brethren in Japan term the essence of what you have touched and utilized, drawing power from. It means 'darkness at noon.' It is a force capable of many, many things. The power to manipulate via pure focused thought and the ability to cloud men's minds are but two aspects of makura no hiruma, aspects you have delved into. Others include extended life and even projecting one's soul to the higher and lower planes and dimensions of existence." His eyes narrowed a fraction. "It is a man's inner eclipse of the soul, whence all his blackest desires and whims reside."
"Or," said Allard in understanding. "...an inner shadow."
"Yes." conceded the Tulku. "It is a dangerous force. Too often does one who uses this power run the risk of succumbing to evil, for power can and does corrupt." The old monk's gaze held the former opium lord's eyes, as if seeing into the depths of his soul. "But it is in you that I believe I've witnessed the potential of wielding this living darkness for the protection of the just and punishment of the unjust."
Allard's eyes, normally the color of a gray sky on a stormy day, seemed to pulse with a chilling jade light as his thoughts drifted to the danger of what he knew he had to do for Redemption's sake. The possibilities. "My own black shadow...fighting for the light..."
Sunlight streaming in through the window shifted as the sun grew higher in the sky. Heaven's light played across Kent Allard's body, throwing a monstrous ebony shadow that trailed behind him on the floor and clear across to the wall.
And to the Tulku, sole witness of the uncanny phenomenon, it was an omen.
In the middle of a human sea reeking with the stench of sin, in a tavern on a world many on Earth did not know existed, piercing grey eyes that had been identical to Kent Allard's blinked, briefly lost in the mists of the past. There was new evil to extinguish on this world, new innocents that needed the manifestation of one's inner shadow to keep them safe from harm.
And brave souls to assist and safeguard.
Grey eyes watched as the disguised Magic Knight, her own dark doppleganger, the Karasu's daughter, and the reclusive Yil made haste to leave the bar.
Within the back of the unnoticed observer's mind screamed an impending sense of danger.
Nova's eyes widened in shock and fear as she heard Clef's report of the attack on the palace. She then quickly turned to face the others. "Shouldn't we go back to the palace and make sure everyone's all right?!" She knew in her heart that the others, especially Hikaru, had to also be worried about what had just happened.
At the sound of Clef’s voice filtering through the communication gem, Kyoko’s pace slowed slightly. Having hoped that her sense of foreboding had been wrong, the young women felt on edge once the notification of the attack at the palace had been conveyed to the three of them. It was a great relief to know that no one was injured because of the unexpected attack, but that did little to relieve her worries. If the palace had been attacked so suddenly, then there was every possibility that those who were currently off on their individual missions could be attacked. She had little concern that her group would be targeted, especially since Hikaru and the others had been sent off on more important, not to mention dangerous, tasks. However, being as she was taught to be alert at all times, Kyoko kept on her guard incase anything should happen.
She knew worrying did little to aid in most dire situations, but rationality could not prevent her from taking note of the tone in which the past form of her childhood mentor had spoken in. Judging by the sound of his voice, Clef was most likely suffering terrible fatigue as well as his own amount of concern for his friends and allies. It was no doubt hard having to be in his position.
“ You’ve always been like that, though, Clef-san. You, Mama, Papa, and all of the others…You’ve all had to struggle and suffer so much throughout so many conflicts…I pray that you will all have a chance to be at peace again once all of this is over...”
Kyoko held on to Fuu’s hand tightly, thankful that the young woman was there with her. She cast a glance in the Wind Knight’s direction, smiling softly at the younger version of her mother. She couldn’t help, but wonder if Fuu felt the connection between the three of them, especially at this moment. A thought crossed her mind as she eyed both of her companions’ faces speculatively. Just where did their relationship stand at the current point in time anyway? They seemed friendly enough, but were they officially together? If or if not, a little meddling on her part couldn’t hurt. Grinning slightly for a few seconds, silently thanking Umi for slightly rubbing off on her, she suddenly stopped and gave Fuu a look that was full of concern.
“Fuu-san, Ferio-san, we do not know how long it might take for us to meet up with Zenith-san. Even if your ankle seems to be doing better, Fuu-san, I’m worried that stressing yourself might make the injury worse. Ferio-san, do you think that you could perhaps carry Fuu-san, at least until we meet up with Zenith-san?”
She blushed slightly, feeling a little bit of shame for having to be so sneaky, but it would be well worth it if Ferio would actually do as she had asked. She flashed the both of them her most innocent, pleading expression, remembering well enough that not a lot of people could resist it. At least they couldn’t back home.
“Kyoko,” she thought to herself, “you are a truly bad young woman.”
Ferio tensed at hearing the message Clef had transmitted through the communicator crystal, though it was somewhat reassuring to know that everyone was safe. However, if the palace had been under attack from Ragyn, those that had been sent on the more dangerous missions would most likely run into obstacles as well. The prince grimaced at the thought, silently cursing the fact that he was safe on this mission, while others would be risking their lives. He understood the reasons for this, but couldn't help wishing that he could ensure the safety of all their allies.
But what he could do, was carry out this task with Kyoko and Fuu, and return as soon as possible. Worrying was only going to slow them down.
The good thing about a 'safe mission' was knowing that Fuu wasn't in any danger. Of course, Ferio knew that she could hold her own in difficult situations perfectly well, but still...
He smiled, turning to look at the said Wind Knight as she slipped one hand into his and her other into Kyoko's. "Great!" he said, relieved to hear that Fuu's ankle was doing better. Looking at his two companions, as the three of them walked alongside one another, the resemblance between the two girls' features struck him once more. In an attempt to divert their attention from the grim matters that currently weighed down on everyone's thoughts, he couldn't resist commenting jokingly. "I'm surprised you guys don't seem to be related. Or maybe you're distant relatives who have never seen each other before? Or, if we weren't all so close in age, someone might think we're a family or something, walking hand in hand on a family outing." He laughed, but a slightly wistful expression crept into his gaze for a brief moment.
A look of surprise crossed Ferio's face, as well as a faint blush, when they stopped walking again and Kyoko gave her sudden suggestion. He grinned a little awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand and regarding Kyoko's pleading face with a questioning look. "Sure, I could do that. What you said makes sense too, Kyoko. Depends on Fuu though..." He winked, smiling at both girls.
"No, that wouldn't be a good idea," Mackey answered without looking at Nova as they turned to leave. "We're needed here. Besides, it sounds like everything's pretty much alright over there." Whether or not she was really worried about those who were still back at the palace was not betrayed to the outside observer from under the cold, serious mask that her face currently formed, to the point where one might wonder if she cared at all. The truth was that she was glad everyone was okay but she was really more worried about the here and now. Once outside, all eyes turned to Rashara. "So where to now, if anywhere?" the diminutive, dark-haired woman questioned after glancing quickly around to make sure they weren't being followed.
A blush spread across Fuu's cheeks, "Well, um, I don't think..." She fiddled with her hands, trying to hide her flushing, "That's, that's too much to ask." Of course, perhaps she wouldn't mind it. But she was better, she really was. "And I really am feeling much better..." She took her glasses off and examined them in the sunlight, then rubbed the lenses with the hem of her skirt. She could try to change the subject, "It's almost strange to be in Cephiro again." She glanced at Kyoko and her school uniform, "I Assume you're from Earth?" She stood up strait. "How did you make it to Cephiro?"
Having not expected such a question, Kyoko reacted in the worst possible way one could react to a surprising inquiry. She tripped on her own feet and landed face first in the dirt with a loud thud. As the dust that had accumulated due to the girl’s ‘trip’ to the ground began to slowly dissipate, a million thoughts began to fly around in her head, many, if not all, of which were rather bad. Laying in the dirt, rather then standing up, dusting herself off, and trying to regain her lost dignity, Kyoko mulled over numerous possibilities. When she had been sent here, neither Clef nor anyone else had anticipated that such a question would really be asked of her, let alone in the form of simple small talk. As she tried to come up with a viable excuse, the blond-haired young women could conclude one simple fact. She was screwed big time.
“Oh no! What am I supposed to say?! Think! I’ve never been to Earth…what’s Earth like? Why didn’t I just wear normal cloths instead of these cloths from Earth?! I’m going to blow it…Maybe I should just tell them…NO!! Bad idea, Kyoko! Bad idea!”
After spending the next minute or so kissing the dirt (not literally, mind you) and picking her brain, Kyoko jumped to her feet, a rather un-nerving expression on her face. She dashed over to Ferio, grabbing the prince’s hand I her own and then turned to Fuu, trying to calm herself down enough to speak properly.
“Excuse us for a moment, Fuu-san. I need to speak with Ferio-san for a moment.”
Before anyone could speak or argue, the daughter of both said people dragged the probably confused prince away from the Wind Knight, her pace very quick indeed.
“I don’t have to tell him everything…maybe just a fraction of the truth. Please let me be doing the right thing…please let him understand.”
Once she was positive that Fuu was out of hearing range, Kyoko released Ferio’s hand and turned to face him, her eyes carrying an intensity that could very well render one speechless if they focused their attention on them. Taking a deep breath, one hand pressed against her heart as previously done before, Kyoko locked her eyes unwaveringly with the hazel orbs before her.
“Ferio-san, this may sound strange, but you must listen and try to understand what I say to you. You have to help me. Fuu-san cannot know how it is that I came to be here on Cephiro. I know that may sound strange and that it most likely diminishes any trust you might have had towards me, but it is important that you cooperate with me. Some of the things I tell you within the next few moments must stay strictly between you and I. No one else can know about me. Now, before I tell you anymore I need you to tell me if you recognize this.”
Kyoko reached in to the pocket of her blazer, eyes never leaving Ferio’s. Once she had her fingers wrapped around the item she sought, the young woman removed the article from her pocket and held it forward so that the man standing opposite of her could examine it. Slowly, she allowed her fingers to stop clenching the aforementioned item, allowing it to lie flat in her palm. Sitting plainly for the two of them to see was the orb that Emeraude Hime had given to Ferio; the orb that had eventually been given to Fuu.
“Please let this not be a mistake…Forgive me, Clef-san…”
Ferio couldn't help staring at Kyoko as she tripped and fell immediately upon having been asked what he deemed a harmless question by Fuu. Wondering if the girl was all right, he stepped closer to help her to her feet. Fortunately it appeared that Kyoko had recovered quickly. And, to his complete bewilderment, Ferio found himself being dragged along at a very high speed the next moment, Kyoko excusing herself as they left Fuu standing where she was.
When they stopped again, the prince opened his mouth to ask her what was going on, thoroughly baffled, slightly annoyed and considerably alarmed. Seeing the urgency flashing in Kyoko's eyes, he decided to keep quiet and let her speak without interruption.
He nodded as she began her explanation, watching her curiously. However, he hadn't expected to see what she produced from her pocket. Staring at the item, then lifting his gaze to meet Kyoko's, Ferio regarded her somewhat warily. Where exactly was this going?
"Where... How did you get that?"
It occurred to him that he should reassure her that he wouldn't repeat what she was about to tell him to anyone else. "Don't worry... I won't talk to Fuu or anyone of this. Something tells me it's important to respect that and believe whatever it is you're going to say."
Kyoko sighed in relief as Ferio gave her the reassurance she needed, praying silently that the information she was about to give him would truly stay between them. She didn’t really know where to begin or how to word her thoughts without confusing him. How exactly does one tell the past version of their father that he’s staring in to the eyes of his own daughter? Running her fingers shakily through her slightly mussed hair, Kyoko furrowed her brow in concentration, trying to come up with a sound explanation. Her greatest fear was that, upon hearing the truth, Ferio would not believe her. She knew her father well enough to see that he was rather open-minded, but everyone has his or her moments of skepticism. What if he believed her, but didn’t like that fact? What if he pushed her away and in doing so showed his rejection to the idea that he and Fuu would have a daughter? If he acted differently towards Fuu, then she might never be born and then what help would she be to everyone? She thought back to the words her father had said to her before she left home, hoping that what he had said then would hold up now.
“If the event comes where you must tell my past self about what the future holds I don’t want you to worry, Kyoko. Even if I felt the thought was shocking or hard to believe, I would never, ever forsake you. I promise you that.”
“I hope you were right, Papa,” she thought to herself.
Seeing the confusion written across Ferio’s face, Kyoko pushed her fears behind her; at least as well as she possibly could. Drawing her hand back, she held the orb she had shown him close, using the object as a lifeline of sorts. At a moment as such, she would have given anything to see her father smile at her and give her a reassuring pat on the back. He always made her feel safe and free of worry. She wanted desperately at the moment for him to just hug her close and put all of her fears at ease. Finally, Kyoko cleared her throat.
“I received this orb from my parents before I was sent here from my home. They told me that, if ever I need to prove my identity that this item would help. I acted so strangely to Fuu-san’s question about Earth, because, despite the clothing I wear, I have never been to Earth. Clef-san sent me here to offer help to those fighting for peace, so that our future will not be effected by whatever happens in this time.”
“You took notice of my resemblance to Fuu-san. Your assumption that we are distant relatives that have never met was indeed very much correct. Fuu-san and I are very much related. She is my mother, Ferio-san…” Kyoko swallowed hard and locked her eyes with Ferio’s. “…And my father…is you.”
Patiently Ferio waited, listening to Kyoko's explanation. It was a little unsettling to see that she seemed so nervous. He wanted to say something to put her more at ease, but was at a complete loss and so he decided to simply let her finish.
What she said was definitely not what he had thought he would hear.
Ferio reeled back in shock at the unexpected revelation, staring at Kyoko, uncomprehending. What was he supposed to say and do now?
Daughter. His daughter. His and Fuu's daughter.
'Okay, get a hold of yourself!'
Taking a deep breath in an effort to calm down, Ferio managed to squeeze out a grin. He cleared his throat, raking his fingers through his bangs, and slowly shook his head. "I have to admit, I wasn't expecting that, Kyoko..."
After a moment's hesitation, he put his hands on her slim shoulders in a reassuring gesture. "But... I believe you. It's somewhat hard to take on board, but I have no reason not to believe your words. And I'm glad you felt you could confide in me." He smiled gently before withdrawing his hands again. "I guess, what can I do for you, then?"
Fuu was watching them, for a moment. She watched as Kyoko suddenly dragged the young prince off, and she watched as she had obviously displayed something of great importance before him. After that she had turned away, "It's not polite to stare, or watch people, or anything like that." She looked down at her feet wondering what is was that had suddenly started the young lady into a commotion. Had she said something wrong? She bit her lower lip nervously, if she had offended Kyoko would she still have her trust? She kicked at the ground of the floating land her blonde hair bouncing in the new gust of wind. She began to absently twiddle with her hands, awaiting the return of her companions.
Kyoko bit her lip as she watched Ferio’s reaction of shock. Her breath lay lodged in her throat during the brief few moments in which the prince dwelled over the revelation she had made, noting every emotion she saw flashing in his eyes. When his face took on an ever-familiar grin and his hands fell upon her shoulders, Kyoko knew before he said anything that he understood. Having her father’s acceptance lifted a great weight off of the young woman’s shoulders and left her with the incredible feeling that she could take on the world if she had to do so. Smiling softly, Kyoko released her pent up breath when Ferio’s hands left her shoulders, thankful to have someone she would always be able to confide in.
“Thank you, Papa. You don’t know what it means to have your acceptance and trust. I was honestly afraid that, if I told you, you wouldn’t want me as your daughter. I know I’m not all that special or anything…” Kyoko hung her head, her eyes darkening slightly, the lack of faith she had in herself apparent. “…But I promise to make you nothing, but proud of me.” Flashing him a smile that made the resemblance to Fuu more evident, Kyoko hesitantly took a step forward, taking one of her father’s hands in her own, fingers clenched firmly. She stared up at him for a few moments, allowing him to see just how truly happy she was to have opened her heart to him. She released his hand after a moment, unsure if the contact between them would be un-nerving for him.
“Now, aside from the mission, I’m going to need you to help me keep my secret from Mama. If she brings up the subject of earth or anything of that sort, please help me change the subject in whatever possible way. I don’t know if Mama would accept the idea of being a mother, even if she’s as enamored with you as I had been told she had been around this time period.” Kyoko grinned ever so slightly, making her look more like her father. “Secondly, and I hope you won’t find me forward for asking such a thing of you, but…may I perhaps have a hug…Papa?”
Ferio looked surprised at Kyoko's words. She really thought so little of herself? When she took his hand, he gave hers an encouraging squeeze, a smile on his lips. "Kyoko... Don't think you're not special. For one, you came here from the future, bravely trying to help us..." He began to feel somewhat awkward, but added gently, "I'm honoured to know that you're my daughter. And I know my future self is proud of you."
After a short pause, he observed, "You know, you look a lot like Fuu when you smile like that..."
The fact that this was his and Fuu's future daughter was still slightly difficult to get used to, since he'd never thought that he and Fuu actually had a future together, but now a glimmer of hope had returned. They had a chance, didn't they? Maybe he could make Fuu happy after all.
Ferio nodded in agreement as Kyoko explained why her identity had to be kept a secret. He didn't like the idea of withholding that information from Fuu, but it was the sensible thing to do, wasn't it?
... 'Enamored'? Fuu, with him? He resisted the temptation to give a rather silly grin at this. Now he could see a resemblance between himself and Kyoko, as well.
However, keeping his mind on the girl's request, he answered, "Don't worry, your secret's safe with me. I'll help you, like I promised."
Astonishment was evident in his features when she surprised him yet again, but it soon gave way to a smile. "Sure thing." And with that, Ferio wrapped his arms around his daughter in an affectionate hug, pulling her close for a moment.
When they parted once more, he briefly let one hand linger on her shoulder in a silent promise that he would always be there for her, before withdrawing it. He grinned. "So, ready to join Fuu again?"
“Yes, I am, Papa. I’m sure that by now, Mama is beginning to get worried about us.”
Kyoko turned away from her father after having agreed with his words, a new air of confidence surrounding her now more then ever before. Despite the seriousness of the atmosphere and the circumstances in which she had entrusted her knowledge to Ferio, Kyoko felt quite happy. One might even go as far as to say she was down right perky. There was a slight skip in her step as she walked beside her father, her arms crossed behind her back as she hummed a tune silently to herself. She knew that it was likely that she looked a little strange, but she could really care less at the time.
“I’m sorry about that, Fuu-san. I hope we did not worry you and we’re sorry to have kept you waiting for such a long time.”
Kyoko stepped beside Fuu, wrapping on arm behind the young woman’s shoulders, silently leading the Wind Knight to step closer to Ferio. She flashed the prince a brief smile, allowing him to see the silent hint that she had something planned. She gave Fuu an expression of concern, all the while hoping that her father had gotten the message.
“Fuu-san, I know that you said you were fine and that you needn’t be carried, but Ferio-san and I discussed it and we both agree that, in light of the current situation, you should not be walking quite so much, even if you’re feeling better. Until it has been approved by a doctor that you are completely heal, we do not want you to strain yourself. Ferio-san has agreed to carry you and we’re sorry, but we will not allow you to argue. Ferio-san, please pick Fuu-san up now.”
Kyoko smiled at her father, blushing slightly and waiting patiently for him to do as she hinted for him to do before Fuu-san could truly argue. So what if he knew what she was doing? It wouldn’t hurt to help the two of them move forward. Besides, it’d be fun to help her father out and maybe give him some pointers.
“I can’t believe how sneaky I am. Umi-san, Caldina-san, I hope I’ve made you both proud.”