Nina stepped carefully through the ruins of Hikari. The imperials, along with Tiamat and Lux, had long since gone, and the only things that remained of the settlement here were the tortured scremas of bereaved locals and the piles of ash and almost dead pyres of blue flame. Hikari castle was still entombed within a prison of ice: this was the way the imperials said "we were here". Nina placed her feet daintily, one in front of the other, careful to life her dress with her hands so as not to mingled the clearly beloved fabric with the bloodied ashes of desolation, as the cries of the wounded echoed in her ears.

To think that Hikari was once the benevolent City of Light seemed monstrously fallacious.

As she reached the rubble-ridden "town square" of the ruined city, she stepped on something soft, and a sharp cry of pain snapped back at her. She looked down expressionlessly to see a young male hunter clad in black Fatalis armour, still gripping a seemingly mismtached Shadow of the Moon Long Sword, which was as bloodied as it's wielder. She paused for a moment with to contemplate something, Finally, she rolled her eyes slightly, let out a small huff and knelt down in the ashes, her dress now dirtied, as she had dreaded.

"Where did they go?" Nina said cooly, with an ever-so-slight hint of comfort in her voice. The hunter pointed feebly to the east, behind Nina, who turned her head and body about a little to follow the direction. Nina then turned back to thank the hunter, but he had already passed away, his eyes still open, staring blankly at the distance to which he had been pointing mere moments ago.

"...To Kasai. As I expected," Nina murmured to herself in the same nigh on robotic tone (or lack thereof). Then she gasped, as if remembering something important, but even that exclamation was calm and level-headed.

"Gale and the others..."

And with that, Nina dusted off her dress as best she could (it was, in fact, utterly pristine, but she clearly thought otherwise, as she grunted with discontent) before stepping through a strange, ethereal white gateway, to her next destination: back to Kasai.

To Be Continued in: Fate and Freedom IX-2: Attack of the Nightstalker

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