A smile on his lips, Ferio walked alongside Kyoko, quickly crossing
the few meters between them and Fuu. What had just taken place had
certainly come as a surprise, but this new, unexpected knowledge had
left him with a rather happy feeling. It was nice to imagine that
someday in the future, he and Fuu would have so close a bond, and be
able to share it with such an amazing daughter.
He grinned slightly at his thoughts, giving a shake of his head. Now
wasn't exactly the time to get lost in sentimental daydreams, even if
they weren't really 'dreams'.
Upon reaching Fuu, Ferio noticed that Kyoko seemed to be up to
something and he watched the girl carefully. He blinked in surprise,
managing to keep from laughing as Kyoko spoke to Fuu in a genuinely
concerned yet firm manner, and then instructed him to pick the Wind
"You heard what Doctor Kyoko said, Fuu," he added in a solemn tone of
voice, trying to keep a straight face. "I'm afraid I'll have to do as
she tells me."
Gently putting his arms around Fuu, he lifted her up, allowing
himself a grin at Kyoko. He had to admit, he was a little worried
because he didn't want to intrude on Fuu's personal space or make her
uncomfortable, but he found this rather nice, too...
Ferio smiled. "Well, I guess we should find Zenith now."
Fuu turned back toward Kyoko, the young woman's straightforward,
matter-of-fact voice laid out medical sympathy. She quickly TOLD Fuu that she wasn't able to carry herself and that Ferio was just the person to make up for any physical ability the girls lacked.
"But, but..." Her cheeks began to flush.
Before she could protest any further she was lifted from the ground. Her face was red now, crimson. 'Oh no… I, I can't think like this' She tilted her head downward, trying to hide her flushed face with her mess of blonde bangs.
Ferio cheerfully suggested that they find Zenith. 'Yes' the answer popped into her head, but she could only nod meekly in response.
* * * * *
Kyoko bit her bottom lip as she watched Fuu’s face take on an expression of embarrassment, feeling rather ashamed of herself for having to have plotted against her mother in such a way. She knew that, even if her mother loved her father now as much as she did back home, this particular moment was most likely making her less then comfortable. She truthfully did not have any right to meddle in her parents’ personal affairs and thus felt extremely guilty. The
culpability lessened, however, when she thought of all the moments she had seen her parents together. They were always so happy and so obviously in love. She could easily lose count of the many times she had seen them walking with their fingers entwined or smiling at each other in silence while she sat across from them, sketching the peaceful image of them together. In light of everything happening now and the hardships that they would have to face, didn’t they deserve some semblance of happiness?
“I know not what consequences might lye with my helping them become
closer, but I will do all that I have to do to help the two of them find the happiness that they do not have now.”
Allowing a soft smile to appear where a regretful expression had
lain only moments before, Kyoko reached out her hand and placed it upon one of Fuu’s, offering as much comfort as she possibly could. She gently squeezed the hand held in her own, her smile only growing as she looked in to the eyes that so matched her own.
“Don’t worry, Fuu-san. You needn’t be uncomfortable. We know you
must be displeased with our having made a decision without your consent, but it is for the best. We only wish for you to be safe and comfortable. Please just relax. We shall find Zenith-san soon.”
After a moment, she pulled her hand back and allowed Fuu to try and
relax as much as she possibly could. She glanced at Ferio for a moment, taking note of the slight grin he had cast in her direction, resisting the urge to giggle at the fact that he looked rather happy to have been plotted ‘against.’ She made a reminder to herself to have a talk with him when they returned to the castle. Maybe she could give him some advice. Realizing that she was once again falling in to a rather sneaky line of thought, Kyoko blushed deeply and broke eye contact with her father, feeling quite embarrassed at her devious ideas and possibly un-wanted meddling. Scolding herself for being so disobedient, for what seemed like at least the third or fourth time that day, she allowed her thoughts to travel to the task at hand.
“Do you suppose that Zenith-san is expecting us? I might think that
he could have received some word from Clef-san of our arrival, but it might not be possible, being as it would be on such short notice. I hope we do not disturb him if our arrival is unexpected.”
Kyoko paused and realized that she must sound rather ignorant for
asking questions for which the answers were rather obvious. Feeling rather dumb and fearing that she appeared simple minded, the young woman hung her head slightly, her cheeks darkening further as she bit her bottom lip again.
“Some help I am going to be…” she whispered to herself, fingers
toying with the hem of her skirt in a rather Fuu-ish manner.
Emerauld nodded her head at Clef worried for the sake of his health
and well being. She was back in the land of her birth and death for
only a short time when already things began to crumble. Was the
peaceful land of Cephiro doomed to forever repeat the endless cycle
of fighting for the right of life and well being? Her eyes glimmered
with the knowledge and the weight of unshed tears.
"Ryula right?" She smiled pleasantly at the girl. "I believe we
should do our best to aide those in need around the castle." She
clasped her hands together tightly, for old habits died hard, and
gave a silent prayer to all the innocents who would suffer before
this terrible battle ended. Though the skies were still pure as ever
the hearts of the Cephirean people mirrored the Cephirean land of a
She turned back to Clef. "Are you alright Madoushi Kurefu?" She let
the worry echo into her voice while motioning Ryula to help her with
Clef if he needed assistance to rest in his room. After spending that
much energy for spell castings and weavings she was surprised that he
had not yet passed out. And somewhere deep inside her heart she felt
the stirrings of confusion between loss, love, darkness, and perhaps
a new hope of life.
Dark eyes gleamed from deep with in the tavern surveying the
surroundings in mild distaste. Leiyo was not a town to enjoy nor
should it be frequented by anyone other than lowlifes and the likes.
The thugs jostled each other in boisterous play while idly the Jil
watched from heavy lids the crowd. He was never far from his weapon
in case things got out of hand and often they did.
Robes rustled and adjusted to suit the wearer's fancy, accommodating
to allow a side glance at three new comers to the joint. They would
have been over looked if not for the animal that rested in the arms
of one of the travelers. It gave pause to the shadowy figure in the
back, spying. So all the rumors where true, how...positively
saccharine. A faint glimmer of a wicked grin spread and dissipated on
the lips of the figure.
Three little girls all alone, though not for long. The Yil Rashara,
normally out of place in the town though a sight often beheld in
Leiyo even in the unsavory tavern of Amethia, greeted warmly and
softly exchanged a word with the Jil. It was almost enough for a
person to gag. With eyes-only did the figure give a nod to some thugs
in the back. Almost as if giving a unanswered question an answer, a
One of the thugs walked up to the bar ordering a hard drink from the
Jil setting up the line of action that would soon take place. Taking
that as a cue, the figure slithered out of the tavern anticipating
word on the Fire Knight's last day on Earth. It would be good news
for the Master in any case.
Yil Rashara smiled at Mackey and nodded. "I agree. Madoushi Clef can
handle himself, I'm pretty sure of that." He inclined his head one
last time to the Jil as he moved off to serve a customer. "I have
what Clef wanted me to give to you..." He pointed down at the book he
"Though Clef told me you would not be able to translate it. If you
would but follow me I’m sure I could arrange translations pretty fast
though here is not the place to discuss..." He sighed and waved his
hand about the place as if emphasizing his point, "Anything really.
Especially not for the likes of any of you."
As if in after thought he patted Sorra for a good luck
measure. "Undoubtedly..." His voice lowered a little as he leaned
into the group a little more meeting Hikaru, Nova, and Mackey's
eyes. "We have been watched this whole time. Even under disguise we
do not fit in." He straightened back up waiting on the Jil. He wanted
to make sure the Jil didn’t let anyone follow them...
The hour grew late in vivid colors mainly bright oranges and hues of sunset reds when Megor, Ascot and Umi traveled to the outside gates of the city. With one furtive glance back Umi collected her thoughts which were still in disarray from the most recent events. Clef had been so fatigued when they left. She felt a twinge of guilt at not helping him.
It had sprung into her mind often enough about her last encounter with Clef after the fight with Debonair. Had he thanked her for not saying it? Her hands clinched a little. Emeraude had been in a position in which love was not an option could it also be thus wise for Clef in the manner of speaking that Cephiro came first above all other things?
She watched the sunset apprehensively with saddened eyes. 'Hikaru, Fuu where ever you are I wish you well...' Umi held her hands up to her chest lightly touching the bottom of her chin as she gave a silent prayer to them. This was a land that was controlled by will. The will determined everything and so Umi had to muster enough strength to be as willful as ever.
Deep forest green eyes had turned for a moment to her then back over the landscape, yet Umi noted in that one glance so much confusion in the Bal Ascot that she had never known before. In the time that the Knights were away what had weighed so heavily on his soul to make him so... well... grown up in mind and spirit. He and Caldina had made it known that he l...
"Okay!" Her hands repositioned to her hips as if to strike a pose from an American comic book, the superhero type. "We need to at least get a little distance covered before night fall then we can camp out via the supplies." Offhandedly she wished, a little selfishly, that mokona was with him. In the first visit she had grown accustomed to the hotel room he dished out every night. "Ascot can you guide us to the Island of Feralin Dormai? And Megor how were you planning on getting us there besides walking?"
Umi bent down picking up one of the supply bags before righting herself back up. She furtively glanced over at the one called Megor. While in the void he had... changed. There was no other way to describe his sudden appearance of a black cloak and armor. He was from Earth but... there was more to him than meet the eye.
Riveted though she was by the current mood her foot and her step was light upon the ground. Though her heart was a little darkened. "Dou shiyou mo nai kurai no... Kanashi-sugiru negai tashika ni... Kono yo ni aru koto wo shitta... Namida to kokoro-goto.." She sung lightly and trotted off only to stop a few steps away and look pointedly at the men she was with. "Well?" Her lips turned upward in a smile awaiting the next adventure in her life and this time she was ready for anything that came.
Chad and Skyhawk glanced at each other then back at the old man. "The
odd things that have been happening here. Let us handle them. It
seems that there is a presence of evil about this place." Skyhawk
said as he kept his eyes fixated on the man. Chad nodded in
agreement. The boys awaited the man to tell them everything they
needed to know to handle the situation. Skyhawk sighed. He hated to
be so front about the matters, but too much time had passed. He had
to figure this out. And...What exactly was his partner Ragyn doing at
Megor shot a look over at Umi. "I have the will, and the power to
fly. If you would like, I could show you. But that could take some
time. And time at this moment is precious. We have been lagging about
long enough. We should get moving as soon as possible. Ragyn isn't
going to stand around and wait for us to play catch. Let's go take
care of this mission. I want to hurry and end this foolishness.
However..." Megor stopped. "I can hold the both of you if you each
grab one of my arms. Ascot, you weigh very little, as I'm presuming
you do, Umi. I can probably fly us there in a decently short amount
of time. But if I do, I'm certain we will be sensed by Ragyn and even
intervened with. Or perhaps even the villages would begin to talk.
It's up to you. It makes no difference to me, either way." He said
crossing his arms.
Mackey politely returned the Yil's smile, but only as a brief
flicker of warmth across a pair of cold glass eyes. It was small and
subtle and it quickly disappeared, but it was real as little else
about her seemed to be. Suddenly realizing what she had let escape
she recoiled and her eyes reverted to their usual lifeless state, her
manner businesslike. Rashara was too disarming; the former assassin
wouldn't admit it even to herself but she was scared of him. He acted
and showed emotion freely, as if he had nothing at all to fear. His
honesty from the moment she saw him took her by surprise as he slowly
and probably without meaning to pick away at her defenses.
It must be absolutely terrifying to live inside the head of
someone so consumed with fear and sadness, like a bad dream you can't
wake up from. The pain drives you to build a wall around yourself;
when no other materials are readily available nightmares served as
bricks and blood and tears as mortar. It looks strong enough from the
outside, but in reality the slightest touch can bring it tumbling
down. You're no longer in quite so much pain, but now you're obsessed
with keeping it that way, with staying clear of anything that might
threaten this false security you've found. This in itself is painful,
but not as much so, you think. After all, dreams always seem to
crumble when they meet reality, but nightmares live on. No wonder a
world like Cephiro, built on frail hopes and dreams, is slowly
Mackey nodded at the mage's last words. Nothing appeared out of
the ordinary, at least not for a bar full of thugs, but she was
suspicious just on general principal. "Yes, and if someone were going
to make a move, now would be the time to do it, while we're
outnumbered and still in an enclosed area where we can't escape
easily..." Under her cloak her right hand tightened its grip on the
sledgehammer at her side. This could be fun....
It had been a few weeks after Debonair's defeat and Cephiro's
restoration when he had brought up the subject of a makeshift
orphanage. "These kids have no one to stand up for them any more,
Saris. No one to look up to. I know how it is to lose family, no one
should ever have to go through that kind of turmoil like I did."
The lovely young woman grasped the strong brown hand that belonged to
the Jal Keiran. "Like we both did."
"Yes." conceded the sleek-muscled fighter, smiling wanly. He'd
forgotten how much they shared in common despite their background
differences. Keiran had been raised and trained to fight from birth,
an heir to the tradition of a millenia old and reclusive warrior
class of Cephiro. She had been an heiress from a wealthy family,
daughter of a Western Lord and Lady. One would think a toughened
rugged kickboxer of the mountain forests and a prim well-mannered
maiden of nobility would never see eye-to-eye, much less come to a
But on Cephiro, as everywhere else, opposites can and do become
friends. And fall in love.
"I want to take care of them, Saris. All twenty of them. I'll build a
home for them when things here at the Palace quiet down. I'll raise
them the best I can, like they were my own kids. But I'll need to get
myself involved in some line of work if they are never to want for
"Know that whatever endeavour you chose, love, I'll know it's for the
best...and I'll see you through it. Mine will be the duty of watching
them in your absence." Her lips tenderly brushed his palm as it was
lifted to her face. She'd cast her lot in with him. Saris could
easily have refused, broken all contact with him and gone to find any
living relatives to resume her life of wealth and privilege.
But she loved him, and those children too.
"Thank you." came the gentle whisper.
It turned out the line of work he had chosen was one of the most
dangerous a man could wilingly choose on Cephiro, next to being a
monster hunter. In lieu with his upbringing and training as a Jal
since infancy, he'd decided to do what he did best.
Fighting of any form, unless in self-defense, had expressly been
prohibited by the new government. Yet, if one knew where to look and
had the right connections, one could witness and even participate in
illegal fighting bouts, held anywhere the government hounds could not
see or hear. There was just something in the primal nature of man-to-
man combat that both repelled yet fascinated. Something in the clash
of bone, sinew, and steel kept the witness coming back. A fairly
large number, especially those of Cephiro's more unsightly backwater
towns in the South and East where cutthroats convened, attended and
enjoyed these clandestine battles.
The rules were few, simple, and generalized in all accounts. No
magic, no strikes to the groin or throat, no intentional deaths. Bar
those, the illegal tournaments were free-for-all. There was no limit
on height for the contestants and any weapon was permitted.
And the Jal Keiran was known and held in respect and fear for his raw
strength, skill, and the analytical mind that could think coldly even
when taking blows.
And he had never been beaten.
Women had thrown themselves at his feet or otherwise. Men had wanted
to be his friend for the reputation they would acquire. Others had
genuinely wanted to learn from him. He had refused them all. He
fought for the people he loved, for their future. That was more than
enough for him.
Now in this time of civil strife, the Jal Keiran had deigned to
sideline as a bartender in Leiyo due to the absence of opponents.
Fighters who could have been found in the rings had been drummed up
for employment by the various warring sides and factions. At the rate
Cephiro's current situation was progressing, Keiran felt he would
soon bid the arena good-bye and fully welcome the bartender's life.
Yet a part of him dreaded the loss of fighting. He'd been born in it,
raised in it, lived for it, and kept coming back for more. It was a
part of him, and he a part of it. The thrill of battle had been
awakened in his heart, and once conscious, it would never sleep. Only
the Creator knew what plans he had in store for him.
Wiping a tankard, Keiran started as from somewhere in the fabric
jungle of cloaks, hoods, and tunics came a flare of twin orbs of
verdant coal. The eyes of some spectral demon, lairing and watching
amidst the human scum that plagued this tavern.
His grasp tightened on his street club. It was only for show really,
his real weapon lay in his bare hands. He made ready to stride across
the bar and confront the hidden menace.
From the opposite direction where he believed he had seen the
diabolic optics, from the table of opiate addicts shambled a
bedgraggled grey cloaked bearded man with rheumy eyes. A burned out
cigar was on the extreme left of his mouth, a total of three
unlighted ones occupied the rest. This guy was -SCREWED-.
"L---l---i-gh---t, pl--ea---se..." whimpered the stooped addict.
Keiran silently popped the three sticks and held them against the
overhead kerosene lamp. With shaking arthritic hands did the addict
reaccept the cigars, then dropped heavily down on a stool. In his
drugged state of mind, his rear fell into the empty space between
stools and he crashed to the ground. Lying prone, he could only
mumble gibberish and some foolish question about the "blue being sky".
Damn addicts. At least they were better on the floor where they
couldn't cause trouble.
The moment he turned and noted the exit of a slender cloaked figure
was the exact moment he was approached, a smirking thug with a chain,
asking for a hard beverage. "I'll have a Seijyu's Delight, double."
he demanded. Keiran shrugged, but not without a hint of wonder. "Your
call, bud. That stuff'll kill a giant."
Something clicked in the back of his head as he poured the drink.
That figure that had exited...the Fire Knight and Yil Rashara...those
Keiran's frame stiffened as his field of vision swept left and right,
scanning for danger. If anyone was out to molest his friend or the
Fire Knight and her companions, they would break their bones on his
Rulya helped the princess. She felt a little awkward. The people seemed nice enough, but sadly she still had no bloody clue were she was. However, she just smiled and helped the blond girl with the short man. She Was a bit shaken, but just shrugged it off. "I don't mean to be rude.." she asked in he normal a lot voice. "But could either of you explain to me were I am. I punched a monster that was attacking this woman and poof, I'm here." She hoped she didn't sound to forward, but she reeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to know how to get home from this place.
Leila, still sitting there, waited for her group to be on its way. She stood up and slowly aproched the shorter one who was called "Zazu". "Excuse me." she said softly, pulling her white shall around her shoulders. She looked down at the boy softly. "I believe we should head out. We do not want to keep Clef waiting."
They had finally set foot inside the city.
Hearing Kyoko's question, and seeing that she somehow seemed to be
quite distressed; Ferio glanced at her and offered a reassuring
smile. "Don't worry... I hope we won't be disturbing Zenith when we
find her, either, but I'm sure that she'll have received some sort of
message informing her of our arrival."
He threw a curious look at their surroundings. Where would they be
able to find Zenith?
Quatre smiled, seeing that a girl was approaching Zazu, Arista and
him. He assumed that she was their final group member for the
mission. Leilandra, was that her name?
He had been marvelling at the weapons and armour that Madoushi Clef
had recently bestowed upon the remaining people who still needed to
head out. The ones he had been presented with reminded him a lot of
Were they all set to go? The majority of the other groups had left
some time ago. Quatre hoped that they were all faring well on their
Leilandra smiled at Quatre with a soft smile. "Quatre is it not? I believe the fastest way for us to get to Lupina would be by spirit beast. The other teams that have left are far ahead, and we should get done as soon as we can." She turned, but then looked back ove rher shoulder. "If you could all follow me please, I have a beast that should be big enough for all of us to ride on." Her brown eyes sized up each person and it was true. They would fit, but it might be a bit cramped.
As she began to walk for the exit, she shighed. It felt somewhat wrong to be helping someone from Autozamian. She owed her friends on Metalaltoid, and considering the war between the two plants, it somehow wighed her down. However, the two from Autozamian probly didn't know of the war. On their planet it was veary low key, and even some of the members of the royal family didn't know it exsisted. When she got to the doors, she turned and smile donce more. "Would anyone care to help me with my summoning?"
Nodding in agreement to Leilandra's words, Quatre followed the young
woman alongside Arista and Zazu. Using a spirit beast as a means of
transport... Well, that was certainly something he had never thought
he would experience. He smiled softly.
This was such a strange place. Beautiful, but so different from the
colonies, and Earth too. He hoped that he'd be of some use to his
team members in spite of that. At least, from the sounds of it, it
seemed that their mission in Lupina had to do with technological
matters, and that was something he was used to. It was also a relief
to know that they were to avoid battles.
He wouldn't have to kill anyone.
Glancing up, Quatre smiled at Leilandra as she addressed them again.
He looked mildly curious. Summoning? "I'm not sure if there's
anything I can do, since I'm not familiar with all this, but if I can
help you in any way, please tell me what to do."
Nova watched as Mackey walked off and then looked over at Hikaru,
wondering if she would say the same thing, despite her feelings. It
was easy for her to sense Hikaru's emotions, but very difficult to
predict what she will actually do.
Hikaru caught Nova looking at her and smiled a little. Of cource this place was making her unseasy but that in no way means they would be leaving until they got what they came for. All the others were risking their safety as well and Hikaru hoped and prayed that they were all doing okay.
"Mackey's right...we are needed here. We must do our job." Hikaru took Nova's hand and pulled her with her and followed Mackey and Rashara out; Mackey's question mirroring her own thoughts.