"That was a really risky move, Nina."

Nina rolled her eyes and huffed in annoyance as Gale, Mizu, Altair and Gigas walked past the two to amalgamate with Shinji, Jinsoku, Roux, Skylar, Makoto, Arashi and Tsubaki.

"I'm quite aware of the risk, for pity's sake!" Nina snapped impatiently at Tamari. "Nobody else could possibly have pulled of such an accurate dimensional incision. And even if they could do so better than me, the risks would be one and the same; now please, stop scolding me!"

Tamari bowed her head a little in embarrassment, gingerly backng away from the girl just a little.

Meanwhile, the others were busy talking about the venture to the Necropolis Boneyard. Gale avoided all the gruesome details- the maggot-worm thing, the stench, and all the rotting corpses- and focused on the ambush by the Undead Yamiokami and Shinkaiyami.

"...So now, he has exactly what he wants. But he implied that he can't use it yet, he said somethign about it not having enough "dark energies" to function," Gale finished.

"But the real question is: what does he want it for?" Roux asked. The others murmured in agreement.

"Even I do not know," Nina interrupted, walking over with Tamari to join the coversation. "And I fear that I will regret finding out."

After a long pause, Altair spoke, calmly and quietly. Altair was often the first to break long or awkward silences- he was good at that sort of thing.

"The question we must answer now is: What do we do next?" he said. Murmurs of discussion followed for a few moments, before being interrupted when the door to the justice section opened witha loud creak, and Rakurai slowly walked in, fully dressed (unbeknowsnt to them, he hadn't been a few minutes ago) slower than a funeral procession, his eyes red from crying, an almost snow white female body in his arms- Helyna. Everybody gasped amongst themselves and rushed over.

"Helyna...!" Tsubaki said, her voice catching, before she began to sob into Arashi's arms, burying her head in his chest. Rakurai simply stared blanky into the distance, slowly placing the body on the floor.

"She...died of hypothermia. The cold from Kazir's killed her," he said with toneless, melancholy remorse. Gale walked up to Rakurai and placed a hand on his shoulder. Her son looked up at her (although at his age and height, he didn't have to look very high). Gale placed her hand on his face, petting him lovingly.

"I'm your mother. It's okay to lean on me if you can't deal with it," she said softly, mangaing a smile. A pause followed, before Rakurai clung to the girl like adhesive, burying his head in her as he began to cry again. Gale closed her eyes, frowning with regret as she wrapped her arms around her son, swaying to and fro, rocking the boy like a cradle. After a minute or so of absolute silence, Gale stood still and asked him a question.

"...Where was she born?" she asked, trying not to sob. She waited a few seconds for Rakurai to muster up the strength to talk about his dead girlfriend.

"...Hyoku. Like you and me,a nd Arashi. Tsubaki, too."

"I see. Then that's where we'll bury her," Gale muttered with wistful finality. Slowly, Gigas scooped Helyna's peaceful-looking body up in his arms, directing Roux to grab ahold of his Agnablaster- Gigas was as strong as a bull, and built like one too, but it would take a herculean effort for any one man to lug a dead body, and Long Sword and a Heavy Bowgun all at the snot ame time. Gale slowly let go of her grieving son and turned to Nina, impassive all the while.

"Nina, can you open a portal to Hyoku?" she asked politely, tonelessly.

"I can," Nina replied apathetically, "If that is where you wish to go."

Nina snapped her fingers and a white portal appeared bathing everybody in its shimmering majesty. Slowly, everybody stepped through.

"I hope Hyoku is okay. I hope my dad is still...and everybody who lived there, do you think they're...?" Gale said sheepishly to Mizu, struggling to countenance the terrible, heartbreaking thought that everything they knew would be gone. Mizu clasped her hand tighly, and she looke into his warm, sapphire eyes.

"Don't worry so much. You'll make yourself sick. Hyoku'll be fine. I promise. It probably won't be exactly as we remember it, after eleven years. But...It'll be there. I'm sure of it," he said confidently. Gale smiled weakly, despite recent tragedies, and followed her beloved through the portal.

Back to Hyoku. Back to home.

To Be Continued in: Fate and Freedom XXII: Hyoku

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