After the blue Akumagoka had set down in one of the landing zones on the edges of the city (Akumagokas seemed to be the only mode of transport, seeing the city was slap bang in the middle of a small ocean).After the hunters had introduced themselves to Tamari, the party moved onward. Barely acknowledgeing the multitudes of citizens around them, the enite crowd rushed forward down a straight wide path, houses and shops and such on either side, all of which were greyish (they were made of stone) and decorated with both dark and light blue banner in most cases, hurrying to get to what Tamari said was the Citadel. At last the forest of buildings ended and a wide, circular town square came into view, a wide, temple-like structure in the middle, up some wide stairs. It was covered in ivory and nacre, giving it a beautiful sheen and polish. it looked so old, and yet not a single part of it seemed to have been affected by the ravages of time, and not a part of its skin was tarnished. It was tall wide, and a pair of statues that were carved in the shape of what the group assumed to be Tsunamikawa, the water Wyrm, had been placed either side of the entrance. It was utterly amazing to behold.
The mass of hunters rushed up the stairs, eager to get Gale, Tsubaki and Mizu seen to. They barged in through the wide gates, walking as briskly as they could (running was not allowed inside the Citadel). The hall was liined with more, smaller vdersions of the Tsunamikawa statues ourside, this time. The statues perched majestically, water sprouting from their mouths and into ornate basins below.
"We use water not just as our drink and fertilizer; we also utilize it for decorum, pretty much everywhere in the city. It is, after all, the most abundant of the materials we possess," Tamari huffed; talking while running (they might as well ahve benn running, at the pace they were "walking") was a difficult task, even for the fit. As soon as they reached the next mahogany door, the eothe side of which were to narrower halls that lead to the Justice sector and the Horticulture sector of the Citadel, according to Tamari's rather rushed, verbal guide, Tamari burst it open and ran to the edge of the jagged, undecorated stone ground before them.
The "room" was more like a cave. it was large and circular, and the groaund past the ivory stairs was bare and undecorated. There were several guards all dressed in Lagiacrus armour and wielding heavy, yet nimble-looking spears, which they held upright in coordination with their stiff, dutiful poses, like guards should be, not even moving to observe the new occupants of the room (Tamari seemed to be in charge around here anyway). Where the bare stone floor stopped, there was a large lake, lit by ethereal phosphoresence, the sky blue patches of water slithering around like eels. But the hunters knew that there were no eels here. This was the lake itself was luminous.This was the fabled Lake of Eternity.
Altair, Gigas, Skylar, Mizu, Makoto, Shinji, Jinsoku, Roux, Rakurai, Arashi, Helyna and Nina gathered around the edeg of the lake. Every one knelt down, but Nina remained standing, preferring not to dirty her clothes.
"Alright. Lay them both down here," Tamari instructed. Mizu carefully laid his girlfriend down on the stone floor, and his sone did the same with Tsubaki.
"Okay. Nina has been here before and will no doubt teleport you to your quarters. Take your armour off and frshen up, and we will meet back here later tonight. The hour grows late, and I must perfrom the prayers before we initaine the healing," Tamari said, her voice melifluous and soothing to the troubled would-be rebels. In that same instant, Nina opened anothe white gateway. each stepped through, one by one, tired and eager to spend time with their closest friends of the group. Mizu kissed Gale on the forehead before leaving her to the caring hands of Tamari.
Shinji and Jinsoku stood in the shower, trying to pull of the rather difficult task of washing oneself while kissing. Part of their brains were also getting used to the 'shower' in general-everybody else in all the other cities and villages (except maybe rich cities like Kasai) always had baths and they had never had a shower before. It was a clever system- the water (wherever that came from they did not know) circulated around the city, into taps, basin, and eventually into here (after being filtered, they hoped!), through the fancy looking drain on the ceiling.
Slowly Shinji put her hand on Jinsoku's chest and pushed him against the wall (which wasn't to far away in a small compartment like this). He read her eyes.
"Are you sure? You wanna-?" he said.
She clung to him once again. He took that as a yes.
Helyna came out of the shower as Rakurai walked in (they were sharing a room because of short supply-there were twelve of them after all, minus Tsubaki and Gale).
"Don't look!" Helyna snapped, startled, grabbing for the nearest blanket to conceal herself with. Rakurai just kept walking, smirking at her insecurity as he tried not to look at her.
"Relax, Helyna, it's just me, not some old weirdo. Besides, we're both gonna "look" eventually," he said lightheartedly. As she got dressed into the simple clothes that everyone (or so she assumed, she hadn't visited the others yet) had had laid out for them by what seemed to be room service of some sort. They were comfortable, but basic; enough for simple folk like her and Rakurai, but she wasn't sure about the others. However, she was adamant that Gigas would rather sleep in his Lavasioth armour. As Helyna finished dressing herself, Rakurai wlaked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist lovingly. She grinned to herself.
"I love you," he said quietly. Helyna responded by turning around for a kiss.
As Mizu walked down the long, curving hallway on the way to see Shinji and Jinsoku, he thought he could hear a soft tutting sound from Helyna and Rakurai's room. He peeked in through the door briefly, only to see Helyna and Rakurai sitting on the side of the bed kissing, his hands on her face and around her waist and hers on the back of his neck and on his chest. Mizu turned away and smiled to himself- his son had a piece of him inside him. Mizu turned back and opened the door abruptly when the reached a natural stopping point. But before he could tell them what he had realized he needed to tell them, Rakurai yelled at him.
"CAN YOU KNOCK FIRST!?" he boomed, starling Mizu, then making him laugh a little. Rakurai clearly had a piece of his mother in him a well.
"Oh, you have your mother in you. C'mon, Tamari said she's ready."
_____________________________________________________________________________________________Slowly, Mizu, Shinji, Jinsoku, Altair, Skylar, Gigas, Nina, Rakurai, Arashi, Helyna, Roux and Makoto once again gathered around the edge of the Lake of Eternity. The hour was later, and they had slept, washed, had a hearty meal, and put on their armour just in case (Helyna, who was without a set of her own, had been given a spare Lagiacrus armour set). Tamari instructed Mizu to carry Gale and Arashi to carry Tsubaki.
"Now, lay them in the water-fear not, if they are pure, they will float. Subsequently, you standing in the water will cure the Stigma," Tamari said cautiously, her hair now tied up into a bun.
Mizu slowly lowered Gale's peaceful body into the water, and Arashi did the same with Tsubaki. They sank into the water...and rose back to the top, floating. Everybody siged in unison with relief.
"Good. They are pure. I had no doubt that they would be. Now to see if they will be healed."
Everybody waited for at least ten minutes, cliging onto hope. Nothing happened, but Mizu's Stigma was cured, the acerbic blackness upon his forearm was no more. Everybody began to pout, their hopes wilting like flowers.
"No..." Mizu whimpered. Suddenly as woe began to consume him, Gale's and Tsubaki's bodies began to glow ith the same ephemeral blue as the lake. Everyone cheered mildly.
"It is not an instant process. It will take quite a while. It shouldn't be more than about half an hour, but I cannot be certain. The Lake's powers have not been called upon in some time," Tamari said sternly. Suddenly, a loud sound that sounded like an explosion came from outside, and surprised screms followed. The entire group's heads perked up like cats, and suddenly a guard burst in through the Lake room doors.
"My queen, my queen! The imperials are here! And with them are two Abyssal Sanctum soldiers, and they look like elites! A-and there are imperial airships outside too!" the Lagiacurs-clad guard gasped, dropping his spear and falling to his knees with exhaustion-he had clearly run a long way to tell Tamari this. And it was only now that she had been revealed as queen of the Lost City. Tamari reassured the soldier, and then shook her right sleeve. A strange sowrd hilt ran down her arm and into her hand, a long, slightly curved silver blade jutting out of it, surprising the group. Tamari stormed out of the Lake room, and began to walk as emphatically as she could, holding her sword out or all to see.
"Soldeirs! To arms, all of you! Defend this city with your lives! Do not let these vagabonds reach the Lake!" she bellowed, and immediately and onrush of soldiers sprinted out of the Citadel and into the streets with the hunters, meeting with Ukanlos-armoured imperials. Fleeing Kyuuryuu citizens were cut down as they attempted to flee, and Tamari stopped as a dead child fell bloodied at her feet, his eyes not even given the time to close.
"I think it would be best if we dispersed!" Altair bellowed above the noise.
"Quite so!" Tamari agreed. "Mizu, take Arashi and Rakurai back to the Citadel! Protect the Lake at all costs! The Windweaver must return!"
" What's a Windweaver!?" Mizu asked, batting away a stray imperial with his Wailing Cleaver Shin as he passed by the Descendant.
"Have you not heard!? Gale Kaze is a legend, spread from Hyoku! Everybody calls her the Windweaver now!" Tamari said, slicing into a soldier with her sword. It was then that Mizu realized that he had forgotten all about Hyoku until now.
"Go, quickly!" Tamari ordered. Mizu ran with his two sons, encasing the himself and them in a ball of water to protect them, rushin off as fast as they could back to the Citadel. Altiar turned to Gigas, shooting at every enemy in sight with his strange and powerful pistol.
"Are you ready to have some fun, old friend?" he boomed.
"Just like old times! Ha!" Gigas roared with delight, blasting imperials away with his Agnablast, followed by a wave of fire from his hand. He had a feling that everyone who had Descendant abilities would need them now more than ever before. He followd Altair, the pair of them strafing as they ran to the air transport docks to the west, where they were sure to find imperial airships lying in wait. Roux, Skylar and Makoto ran off to the east airship docks while Nina stayed with Tamari to hold the south of the city.
It would be long battle ahead.
To Be Continued in: Fate and Freedom XVI: Winds of Rebirth