Rakurai, Helyna, and Arashi, still carry the now unconscious Tsubaki, ran frantically through the streets, pursued by several soldiers, all rushing forward, swords at the ready. Arashi had placed a makeshift tourniquet around her waist to stop the bleeding. Occasionally, her eyes flickered open for the briefest of seconds before she slipped back into unconsciousness.
The one thing that always creeped everybody out about the imperial soldeirs was that they never spoke unless spoken to by a superior, as if they didn't have a mind of their own. Like drones. And everybody always said that they had the power of ice within them, yet nobody had ever seen them use it. Most nowadays just thought it was a rumour spread as a scare tactic.
As the foursome veered round yet another street, they found themselves in a small plaza; a few benches were littered around the place, and a medium size, delicately crafted water fountain was situated in the middle, a pool under it to catch the water and a few stairs that led down to the rest of the plaza, but the water had long since turned to ice, spoiling the view. Then again, everything else was covered in a thin layer of snow, despite the sunny sky, so what difference did it make, really?
Suddenly they looked around them, as soldiers cut off every exit point.
"Shit..." Rakurai muttered. The group nucleated together, pointing their weapons with steadfast courage (except Arashi who had no free hands).
"What're we supposed to do now? There's nowhere to go, and we can't carry Tsubaki about and keep her sfae at the same time," Helyna said. Rakurai scanned their surroundings, searching for a way out of their desperate scenario. He sighed defeatedly.
"We're just gonna have to fight our way out," he huffed.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________Mizu locked blades with the sinister entity before him, it's ominous crimson eyes, pupilless and hateful. The two pushed their entire body weights against their blades, each trying fo force the other over. Suddenly, Shinkaiyami stopped struggling, and Mizu stumbled forward, still pushing. Shinkaiyami swatted the hunter away with a strong backhand punch. Makoto put away her spectacles and rushed forth, fligning her matenbou at Shinkaiyami, who deflected it with the flat of his blade. Makoto used those few precious moments to send a wave of whitish fire at the shadow. He slolwy moved his hand horizontally across the air as the fire came into contact with him, and it was extinguished. However, as the flames dissipated, a huge black blur stuck him in the face, sending him reeling. Altair took this chance- he grabbed his green, frayed cloak and flung it across his body like a vampire, disappearing in a black haze, appearing behind Shinkaiyami and slashing at him continuously and fervently with a pair of balisong-style butterfly knives. Makoto proceeded to unlesh a sting of kick and puches, while Skylar joined in, slashing at the entity with her Hidden Ones. The three of them pulled away as Gigas surged forward and swung hia Dancing Hellfire at the enemy. Nina then took her share of the action, sending a huge amorphous ball of white light hurtling toward it. When it made contact, the shadow yelled out with annoyance and surprise, forced off his feet and sent skidding into a black heap upon the floor some metres away within the almost Plaza-wide "cage". As the smoke cleared, he rose to his feet almost gracefully, now floating a few centimetre off of the ground. He began to laugh, and a thousand tormeneted souls seemed to join in, a choir of creepy cackling.
"How quaint. Cameraderie. But did you not think that I am more powerful that this? Or did you simply refuse to countenance the thought?" Shinkaiyami said, his voice like a thousand whispers. He hunched over, roaring with strain and defiance. His body began to "mterialize", looking more solid. It was still pitch black, but it had a leathery gleam to it and a silver trim, and it was covered in nasty spikes of various lengths, jutting out and different angles, some hooked, some straight. His face retained it's gleaming red eyes, but hey had developed black, catlike pupils.His mouth (if he even had one) was covered by a black mask that pulsated a little when he spoke. His sword had grown longer, from one metre to about three, and it was also silver, although the hilt was black, and a long clawlike spike curled upward to whee the hilt ended and the blade began, a little like the Lost Black Katana, and it semmed to hum entisingly every time it moved even slightly, as if sining some kind of song; like the Eager Cleaver, but not as loud or harsh. Slivers of wispy shadow slithered at his feet, as he took baby steps forward. The group couldn't see the bottom half of his face, but they could sense an evil smile on his face.
Nina turned to Makoto, opening a portal behind her.
"Makoto, go through here. Our allies are in peril," she said flatly.
"But, how do you kn-?" Makoto began.
"Just go!" Nina commanded. Makoto ran though without delay, the doorway shutting behind her. Mizu, Shinji, Jinsoku, Skylar, Gigas, Altair and Nina and Roux faced the dark apparition before them.
Shinkaiyami growled again, and a pair of black, hellish wings emerged from his back. They were tattered and word looking, with holes in the webbing bone showing in some places. He huffed triumpahntly before swooping at the party once more, his placed poised like a spear, ready to spill blood.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________As the soldiers charged at the hapless group of hunters, a white flash blinded them and an unfamiliar young woman with a head-to-toe-long purple ponytail, dressed in a rather revealing black yellow robe and pair of plaform heels of the same two colours that made it hard to believe she could run at all. She held a matenbou behind her. She quickyl raise her arm above her head, and with a grunt she thrust it down to touch the ground. In the same instant, stalagmites of solid earth prtruede aggressively from the ground around her and the others, sending all the soldiers flying into walls, statues, windows, etc. When the ground stelled again she pulled herself upright and sighed with satisfaction. There were chunks of stone and earth littered around the place, along with either dead of unconscious soldiers, but apart from that, silence. She turned to face the three awestruck teens.
"Um, thank you for saving us, but...who are you?" Helyna asked sheepishly. Makoto turned around to face them, smiling thinly.
"I'm Makoto. The people that Tsubaki said you need to find, I'm one of them,and my friends are the others. And we need your help," Makoto answered. As she finished her sentence, a loud cry echoed ahead.
"Come on, we have to hurry!" Makoto said, coaxing the hunters along as she sprinted away, following the sound.
Mizu fell to the floor, clasping his arm, the Stigma gnawing at him once again. Shinkaiyami aimed his massively long blade at the boy's throat.
"A gift from the gods," he mused. "You may thank me later."
Mizu glared hatefully at the abysmal creature. It's demonic eyes glared back. It drew it's sword away, raising it's arms archaically, it's grotesque wings beating gently; an angel of death.
"Before I depart, I will pose you all a question: why do think that there are no people here?"
"Becuase they're all to frightened to leave thier homes..." Jinsoku said quietly. Shinkaiyami laughed briefly.
"Not so. they were never here to begin with. This city has been derelict for nine years now."
"You bastard! You tell me where my people are right now, goddammit!" Gigas shouted, shaking his fist in anger at the Wyrm. This time, nobody dared to try and calm him down.
"Relax, foolish human. They are not dead, not yet. Kasai rebelled against our great cause, so when we finally subjugated them, we placed every occupant of this city under our supervision in the new capital of this land-Yukikaze, the City of Ice. Now they serve the cause they once opposed. Be thankful that we didn't kill them all."
For the first time since they others had met Gigas, he was utterly speechless.
"Until next we meet.." Shinkaiyami muttered anticlimatically, before he was enveloped by shows and disappeared.
To Be Continued in: Fate and Freedom XIII: A Family Reunion